Sales advice, recommendations and interesting, useful and fun news from the world of selling!
Friday, September 28, 2007
Here's some fun for your Friday, courtesy of our friend, Dan Seidman at Sales Autopsy. Dan collects Sales Horror Stories, the worst sales blunders he can find and relays them with a sales training twist so you can learn from another sales professional's misery.
Check out this YouTube video of Dan telling one of our favorites. You'll howl as you hear how this hapless salesperson's rapport-building efforts crushed any hope of a sale. Enjoy!
"We all know we should ask questions. But the effort is wasted if they're not asked in the right way, or if you don't listen to the answers," says telesales guru Art Sobczak.
Here are five quick tips from Art that are sure to make your questioning more effective:
1. Ask one question at a time. If it's not important enough to stand on its own, don't ask it.
2. After you ask it, be quiet. If your prospect doesn't answer immediately, resist the urge to answer for him or follow up with another question. He is likely thinking about what he is going to say.
3. After your prospect has apparently finished, remain quiet for 1-2 more seconds. You might get additional information, and this ensures you don't interrupt.
4. Follow-up with a related question. Don't ping-pong around from subject to subject. For example, if your prospect answers, "I believe the main problem we have right now is a lack of motivation," a logical next query would be, "Oh, what are some specific situations where you've seen a lack of motivation?"
5. Be confident in your questioning. One reason people ask multiple questions is that they aren't comfortable asking questions. The only way you're going to truly help someone is by finding out about him. You're not intruding. You're assisting.
Sound advice. Put it to use today. For more helpful tips on questioning techniques and selling by phone, visit Art Sobczak's website at www.BusinessbyPhone.com.
Yet you do it every day without realizing. How often do you find yourself thanking someone for taking your call? Or, asking for just five minutes of a prospect's time? You may think you're being polite, but you're coming across as begging.
Sounding pathetic is one of the surest ways to ensure that your customer will lack confidence and respect for both you and your organization, says sales trainer Tim Connor. People buy when they are ready to buy, not when you need to sell. You'll project a lack of confidence when you say things like:
"What time is convenient for you?" Instead of, "Let's see if we can arrange a mutually beneficial time."
"We're the best in the business." Instead of, "Let's see if our product or service will solve your problem."
"When can you let me know your decision?" Instead of, "Let's set a time to discuss your decision."
"Can I call you in a few weeks to follow-up?" Instead of, "I'll call you in a few weeks to discuss your questions and further interest."
These are just a few of the ways you may be sending prospects the message that you lack credibility and confidence in your ability to perform. Incorporate Tim's suggestions into your sales dialogue and enjoy the respect that is sure to follow.
Here's a creative sales promo idea. A million dollar bill with your picture or company logo on it! Not for everyone, but it looks like a lot of fun to us. See it at http://www.photobucks.com/homepage.html.
"For every sale you miss because you're too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you're not enthusiastic enough." - Zig Ziglar
Enthusiasm can't mask inadequacies or inexperience, but it can help set you apart. All things being relatively equal, I'm buying from the salesperson who demonstrates that he wants my business, every time. I know he'll be there for me when things inevitably go wrong or we need a rush job.
My advice: never neglect to tell your prospects you want them as customers. Ask for the business! - Tina LoSasso, SalesDog.com Managing Editor
There is no sweeter music than the sound of one's own name.
Try to use your prospect's name a couple of times during your sales presentation. However, don't overdo it, or you'll sound insincere and patronizing.
Great advice, but what do you when you don't know how to pronounce the name?
"If your buyer's name is difficult to pronounce, get the correct pronunciation from the receptionist or secretary," says SalesDog.com founder Michael Dalton Johnson. "Write it out phonetically, and say it aloud a few times before your meeting."
Put this advice into practice and watch your rapport quotient soar.
Sales trainer John Boe has an uncanny ability to read people - their behavior and temperament style. He can analyze an individual based on a picture, brief phone conversation, or face-to-face meeting. SalesDog's Managing Editor, Tina LoSasso, can attest to this. After two minutes on the phone, John pegged her as an "introvert germophobe with neurotic tendencies." Considering that most people assume (incorrectly) that she's extroverted, she was impressed, and forgave him for the 'neurotic' part.
John teaches salespeople how to be more persuasive by deciphering their prospects' body language.
"Your body language reveals your deepest feelings and hidden thoughts to total strangers. As a professional salesperson you must continuously monitor your customer's body language and adjust your presentation style accordingly," says Boe. "By understanding your prospect's temperament style and body language gestures, you'll minimize perceived sales pressure and close more sales in less time!"
Think you have great people skills? Rate yourself by taking John Boe's fun People Skills Quiz.
Have you ever been stopped dead in your tracks by a prospect demanding to know what experience or clients you have in their industry? And you don't have any? Yikes!
Here's an effective "analogy" comeback courtesy of sales and presentations consultant Anne Miller. Anne specializes in teaching sales presentations. See how she cleverly uses her prospect in the analogy to illustrate her point:
"Years ago, I used an analogy to compete for, and win, the Presentation Skills training business of a leading ad agency in New York," explains Anne. "I was up against every major firm and consultant in the city, including one who specialized in presentations work with agencies."
"When confronted with the fact that I had no ad agency in my client base, I responded, 'That is correct. However, you just won the DHL (the overnight courier) account. How much overnight courier experience did you need to have the right to do their advertising? Let me suggest, none. You would learn the dynamics of their business the way you have of all your other accounts in the insurance and beer industries. DHL just had to be sure you were the best ad agency for them. Isn't that right?'
" 'True,' replied the Executive Vice President.
" 'The same is true with me.' I continued. 'I will quickly learn the dynamics of your ad agency the way I have learned the dynamics of my other clients in the aerospace, investment banking, and consulting worlds. You just need to be sure I know everything about presenting. And I do.' (The last three words were said staring into her eyes).
"As the truth of what I said dawned on her, all the EVP could manage to say was, 'Oh.' I won the business and went on to earn many thousands of dollars from them over the next several years -- all because of this carefully thought out analogy to their business."
The next time you're scheduled to pitch a prospect whose industry is outside your realm of experience, prepare an "analogy" comeback to have in your back pocket. You'll be more confident and prepared just in case.
Are you plugging away but still not achieving the sales results you want? Perhaps you need to work smarter. SalesDog founder Michael Dalton Johnson is back with another "Hard Truth" to help you sell:
Hard Truth # 2: You are uninformed
"If you're not selling it may be because you are uninformed," says Johnson. "Take time to visit the website of your prospect's company. Check out their competition, industry association and trade journals. Remember: the more you learn, the more you earn. If you do not understand what your prospects do, and what issues they face, how can you expect to determine how your product or service can best help them?"
You know the type - they hem and haw through all your follow-up phone calls and just can't seem to make a decision. Phone call after phone call, meeting after meeting, and you're no closer to a deal. What can you do to get them to take action? Try this advice from author and speaker Dianna Booher:
"Stallers typically suffer from indecisiveness," explains Booher. "Create opportunities for the indecisive to touch, see, feel, and experience your product or service. Provide all the possible evidence of results. Put the indecisive in touch with references who can offer assurances. Delay payment options until the buyer has opportunity to sample your service and trust that you will not deliver and then run and hide."
Help the indecisive to pass the buck
"Once you determine your Staller is incapable of making a decision no matter what guarantees you offer, help him to pass the decision off to others, for example, his boss, a team of colleagues such as a task force, or even a subordinate 'who needs to develop judgment.' If the would-be target is a task force, volunteer to help get the group organized. Yes, generally, it is tougher to sell to a committee, but you have a better chance of selling to an action-oriented committee than a stalled individual," says Booher.
You probably have a few Stallers clogging up your pipeline right now. So, get in gear and put this advice to work for you right away.
Selling is a process that builds from your first point of contact with the prospect - one step in the wrong direction can cost you the sale. "A successful sale is like building a pyramid; each step depends upon the success of the previous ones, and no step can be omitted without creating disaster," explains sales guruTony Alessandra.
Here are Tony's three steps to selling success:
Step 1:Exploring Needs The exploring step of sales gives you the chance to get deeply involved with your prospects to determine exactly how your product or service can help them. It's where the partnering process begins. The purpose of exploring is to get enough information from the client to enable you to recommend appropriate options. This step is epitomized by the guiding principle of Collaborative Selling, "Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice."
Step 2: Collaborating Solutions After you've worked with your prospects to identify needs and concerns, the next step is to determine whether or not your product or service will solve a problem or seize an opportunity for them. Usually there are several different ways you can put your product or service together to meet the needs of your prospects. The collaborative selling way is much less adversarial and much easier. You actually involve your prospects in deciding which one of your options makes the most sense for them.
Step 3:Confirming the Sale If you've done your job properly to this point, your customer should be asking to buy from you. The commitment becomes a how and a when, not an if. Signing the agreement is merely a formality. However, before confirming the sale, you'll want to be sure your prospect has all the information he needs to increase their perceived value of your product or service.
Tony Alessandrais a contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets. He has authored 17 books translated into 49 foreign language editions, recorded over 50 audio/video programs, and delivered over 2,000 keynote speeches since 1976.
If you're like most salespeople, it's the price objection.
You can overcome price objections with ease if you keep this advice in mind:
"Focus on the price difference, not the price," suggestsBrian Jeffrey, sales expert and contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets. "Your price is high in comparison to what - someone else's price? Instead of arguing price, find out what the other price is, and focus on the difference. You may be 10% more expensive than your competitor, but if that 10% buys your prospect 30% greater benefit, you are adding value. The key is to avoid using the larger number in your discussions. Use phrases like, 'For an investment of only $50 more, you'll be getting...' or 'Let's see what that extra $75 gives you.' This focuses the prospect's attention on the relatively small dollar difference, not the greater dollar value of the sale," explains Brian.
Take the time to explain your value to your prospect and you'll be over the price hurdle in no time. Learn more from Brian Jeffrey and 49 other top sales experts in Top Dog Sales Secrets.
Brian Jeffrey, CSP, is president of Salesforce Assessments Ltd as well as a sales management consultant, columnist, author and former sales trainer with over 40 years' experience.
"The devil's in the details," says an old proverb. And in the profits too. When it comes to sales, the littlest thing can mean big bucks.
"Even in a business-to-business sale, you need to show your prospects what's in it for them personally.How do they personally gain?Will they look good to their boss? Will they save time and effort? Will they make their customers or employees happy? There's an important difference between, 'Your company will save over $50,000 a year with our product' and 'You will save your company over $50,000 a year with our product.'People want to be heroes. Make it so."
If one small word can change the course of a sale, just imagine what other changes you can make to do the same!
Today's SalesDog Quick Tip comes to you from Mark Hunter.Use his advice this afternoon to cultivate trust and mutual respect with your clients - and then watch your sales go up!
"Go out of your way to refer some of your best customers to people you know," says Mark. "Better yet, get in the habit of making at least one referral each week. Your customers will appreciate the support!"
Contact Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter for your next Conference or Sales Meeting. To see and hear Mark Hunter now visit www.TheSalesHunter.com
Rules to Keep Your Follow-Up Out of the "Stalker Zone"
In today's business world the sales process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, maybe even a few years.This means that you, as the diligent salesperson keeping up contact, need to get a little creative to keep your relationship with your client out of the "stalker" zone.
Colleen Francis, contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets and one of the "5 most effective sales trainers in the market today" (as ranked by Sales and Marketing Magazine), has drawn up rules and even a schedule to help keep you in your client's mind.
Mix up a phone call with an email, and then later maybe send them an individualized hard copy mail piece - not a generic corporate brochure, but something that's relevant to them, like an article you clipped from a magazine with a personal note, a celebration card recognizing their company anniversary or an invitation to your open house. To get you started, try the following schedule:
Week 1: Follow-up call with action items noted for the next direct contact.
Week 3: Company email newsletter, announcement or article. It doesn't really matter what, provided it is content-rich and NOT an advertisement. After all, this contact is intended to increase your credibility, not weaken it.
Week 4-5: Another indirect contact such as a birthday or anniversary card, a note in the mail with a newspaper clipping they might be interested in, or an email with a newsworthy article about their industry. This contact is designed to strengthen your personal relationship, and help you build rapport.
Week 6-7: Follow up again with another direct phone call.
How much time do you spend practicing and developing your skills?
"Most Olympic athletes spend in excess of 3000 hours preparing for a 2, 3 or 10 minute race.Most good golfers hit hundreds of golf balls every day to refine their swing, balance and performance.Are other careers different?No.Doctors, contractors, teachers, counselors spend time in research, discovery and experimentation. They don't wait until they get into the operating room or in front of the classroom," explains sales trainer and Top Dog Sales Secrets contributor Tim Connor.
Selling is no different.Take a cue from the pros and practice, practice, practice.Memorizing scripts, creating responses to objections, and becoming an expert on a client's company are all things that take time and effort to feel comfortable with.Practicing with friends and family or even in front of a mirror or video camera will help you immensely.
"Show me any athlete in any sport who achieves success, fame or even makes a decent living, and I will show you someone who spends more time practicing than in the performance of his or her sport," says Tim.
Apply Tim's reminder to your daily sales routine and you'll be ready for the big leagues. You can get more tips from Tim at his website or call him at 704-895-1230.
Salesdog founder Michael Dalton Johnson is one of those people who will always give it to you straight.It may not be the easiest thing to hear, but his advice usually results in a better job done.
Since you may not have a Michael present in your life, throughout this blog we'll post his insights fromTop Dog Sales Secrets.
Hard Truth # 1
If you're not selling it may be because...
You are boring. Do customers cut you off in mid-sentence, or jump in when you pause for breath? Chances are, you're boring them. Paint a vivid picture and put them in it; use an example or interesting case history to illustrate your point. Whip out some visuals to show them how much they will save.
Ziglar and Gitomer and Hopkins, Oh my! Get weekly expert advice!
Name: Editor: Kelly McLean
Location: Carlsbad, CA, United States
SalesDog.com, the internet's number one sales success destination for more than seven years, works with America's leading sales experts to bring practical selling tips and strategies to salespeople, sales managers, business owners and entrepreneurs. Over 30,000 sales professionals rely on its free weekly newsletter to keep them abreast of cutting-edge developments impacting their profession.