Sales advice, recommendations and interesting, useful and fun news from the world of selling!
Monday, March 31, 2008
Quote of the Week
"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." -- Babe Ruth, American baseball player
With baseball season finally upon us, I was pretty excited to find this quote. For those of you that don't follow the game, a baseball player with a batting average around .300 is considered a good batter - and is making great money. They are only getting on base on average, three out of ten times at bat - but when they do, it makes a big impact.
Try thinking of your sales in terms of baseball standards - of course you want to win every time - but is that going to happen? Of course not. If you are always prospecting and contacting potential clients, a 30% sale rate will put you in line with baseball's elite. Remember, each time you strike out with a prospect, you're free to move on to another - and you're one pitch closer to the next home run.
So, what exactly do sales and exercise have in common? More than you'd think, according to sales coach Pat Weber. "Going back to the basics in sales is like starting a new exercise program," says Weber. "Muscles working out in an established routine may no longer respond to toning or strengthening. Sales skills in your regular routine may never get a tune up. Like physical exercise, why not tune-up your sales skills?" Follow these tips from Weber for a tight and toned sales process:
Warm up. Assess your strengths in the sales process. How is your attitude? Do you have various ways of prospecting? Is your presentation more "you" focused than "I" focused? Assess your skills all along the selling process.
Power Yoga. This stretching exercise builds big muscles in a fast and effective way. In sales skills, asking for referrals is like a 'big muscle' and even the best salesperson may overlook it. When customers are delighted with your product or service, have a systematic way of asking for referrals in place.
Multiple rounds. In one of my first years of selling my manager raved to the staff about my persistence. To me I was simply following up. The sales cycle in that industry could take 6 to 24 months, even for the best. My training at the time proposed a six-time follow-up. Very often, it was 24 times with follow-up of a specific business reason that resulted in a customer. How many rounds of follow-up do you need?
Take breaks. Focus or full engagement is a critical skill necessary for sales success. Still it is wise to take a break on occasion from your vigorous selling routine. As in almost any endeavor, including selling, a break to recover will leave you refreshed, recharged and more creative.
Don't hyperextend. When kickboxing, it is possible to overextend your reach with either legs or arms. Likewise, when selling, it is possible to go beyond being persistent. But who gets to decide? Ask your customer about staying in touch with them and determine how long, how often, in what ways and about what you will follow up with. Follow the customer's request and you will never hyperextend.
Cool down. Networking, making follow-up calls and giving presentations are all extroverting events. Balance these with activities that give resting points along the way and your cool down will serve you well in sales. Purposefully schedule planning time and you will step off the treadmill and optimize your results.
"Just as exercise keeps your body tuned up, assessing your sales skills keeps your sales up," says Weber. "When you identify what needs to be tuned-up, exercise that sales skill by adding to or deleting from it what is no longer effective."
Pat Weber is a top-selling salesperson, sales manager and America's #1 Coach for Introverts (and even extroverts who may be reluctant to sell.) She assists her clients in sales, leadership and learning to speak with more confidence, deliver effective presentations, and increase sales by 100%. Learn more at www.prostrategies.com
When you tell your customer "don't worry" you're alleviating all of their concerns and showing your value...right? Not according to Colin Wilson at The Entrepreneurial Salesman blog. In a recent post he suggests that "if you utter the phrase 'don't worry' you may have committed the biggest faux pas of the sales campaign." These examples show you why:
Take the Test
First, I want you all to be comfortable...sit back and relax a little and while relaxing, whatever you do, don't think of an elephant...in fact, don't think of a grey elephant with a yellow monkey on its back...clear it from your mind! What happens? Many people can't resist thinking of the grey elephant with the yellow monkey on its back.
Things You May Have Said
Perhaps you have helped a friend at the top of a ladder who is a little shaking by uttering the immortal words..."don't look down"...and what did they do?
...or the boy who was running along the wall who you tried to help by shouting "don't fall off" ...and what did he do?
This Is What You Told Them
Your friend up the ladder... you told them to look down.
The boy on the wall... you told him to fall off.
And your customer... you told them they need to worry.
This Is What You Should Have Said
Say what you want, not what you don't want...
Your friend up the ladder... "Keep looking up."
The boy on the wall... "Be careful."
And your customer... "We have everything under control."
This small change in words can make a big difference in your customer's mind. Try to imagine what message your words give and make changes where necessary. A small change might be all you need to seal the deal!
You have the best product out there, with the best price and customer satisfaction guaranteed, yet you're not selling as well as you'd like. So, what could be the problem? "People buy the salesperson first, the product second, and the company third," says sales and business coach Diane Helbig. "It's critically important that you be the kind of person who others want to buy from. You can't do this by working at being someone you're not, nor by trying to sell. Just be."
According to Helbig, there are 3 Be's to adopt. Try these out:
It takes less effort to be yourself than it does to create a persona. Besides, people can spot the mask a hundred miles away. Their guard will be up before you realize it. Why? Because your focus is off. It's on you (or should I say, your creation of you) - not on them. The 'you' who you really are will resonate with people - so do yourself a favor and embrace your genuine self.
Be a giver
Don't focus on what you want to get. Focus on what you can give. 'What goes around, comes around.' 'The smile you send out returns to you.' Sound familiar?
Listen. Learn all you can about the person you are interacting with. Find out if there are ways you can help them and have a positive impact on their day. Don't sell them. People don't like being sold - do you? People DO like to feel respected. They want to know you have their best interest at heart. That's something you can't fake.
Know what you are talking about and state it simply. Don't try to wow someone with your 'vast knowledge.' That's obnoxious. Once you've listened and learned, you are in a better position to share from your knowledge base and experience. What you have to say will resonate with others.
They'll want to hear it because they know it is coming from your genuine self. They'll know it's coming from a position of giving, not getting. And they will know that what you are telling them is true - because you are.
"Selling is easy - when you are yourself," says Helbig. "Try it on and see how it fits! I have a feeling it'll fit better than trying to be someone you're not."
Studies have shown that the effectiveness of training increases by as much as 35% when you ask the trainee what they want to learn. Steve Waterhouse believes that this principle also applies to sales presentations - involve the prospect and the learning will increase. Great idea, but how do you do that? Waterhouse explains:
"One of the steps I am passionate about is probing the prospect to find out what they want to hear in the presentation. As I was going through the steps, one guy raised his hand and said, 'Steve, I've tried that and they won't tell me. As I start my program, I ask them if there is anything special that they want me to cover. Most of the time they say, 'No' and ask me to continue.'"
"Sure they do, They are in listening mode and ready to listen."
"So when are they not in listening mode? How about when you planned the sales call? When you set up the meeting, what would have happened if you asked, 'Mrs. Howard, I want to be sure this presentation makes the best use of your time. Please tell me what issues are critical to you so I can be prepared to answer them.'"
What would they say?
"Can you imagine a prospect saying, 'I'm sorry Jill, but I really want to hear your standard presentation. Don't do anything special for me.' Or, 'Bob, I'm really excited about sitting through your standard PowerPoint presentation. Bring it on!'"
"Timing is everything and you may need to ask more than once to get the answers you need. Ask early and ask often. When the prospect feels the presentation will be customized and relevant to their needs, they will pay attention. In fact, they may even invite more people to attend."
"Selling is about preparation and that is especially true in presentations," says Waterhouse. "Make the call. Ask the questions. Give your best presentation ever and close that big deal."
Steve Waterhouse is Principal and Founder of The Waterhouse Group, a sales consulting and training company that helps companies dramatically increase their sales. He can be reached at 1-800-57-LEARN or [email protected]
"People don't ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts." -- Robert Keith Leavitt
Unless your prospect is Sgt. Joe Friday from Dragnet, he probably needs an emotional reason to buy. So why are you loading him up on proofs and comparison charts? Satisfy the emotional needs of your buyer first, then give him all the evidence he needs to justify his choice.
Have you ever been at the receiving end of a cold call where the caller asked you "Is this a bad time?" It's a common phrase that many salespeople use to show that they respect your time. It also gives you a great excuse to get them off the phone. "Yes, it is. Can you call back later?"
Especially when cold calling, "the tools of our trade as sellers are words," says cold calling expert Leslie Buterin. "As we catch our cold calling rhythm the words flow seemingly effortlessly as do our results. Life the 'veil of thought' and you will see that a successful cold calling rhythm rests on a rock solid base of sophisticated thoughts."
So what can you do to re-evaluate your script and enhance it with sophisticated thoughts?
Buterin suggests you take a few minutes, find something you can write fast with, and write down all of your "cold calling scripted words" that pop into your head. Do not analyze or evaluate them yet - just write. Later, you can figure out the impact of the words. Capture it all without feeling a responsibility to evaluate a thing.
Then when you are ready to come back with objectivity, put on your "extraordinary sales professional" hat and determine which words serve your purpose and which ones don't.
Buterin suggests that, as you make changes to your scripts, you make use of this cold calling tip - think about the changes and really give thought to the pros and cons of each change. Brainstorm with other sales professionals, friends, even family members. Ask them, "What are the thoughts you think when you hear these words on the phone?" Implement the changes that serve you best. Repeat as needed.
Leslie Buterin is the founder of Top Dog Consulting and the author of Secrets to Scheduling the Executive-Level Sales Call. She works with sales professionals, teaching them how to access and sell to high-level decision-makers. Keep up to date with Leslie on her blog, Cold Calling Executives.
Although the economic prognosticators are still arguing over whether we're in a recession or soon will be, now is the time to arm yourself to sell in a tough economy. Author Daniel Sitter had some helpful insights in a recent blog post.
Sitter makes the following suggestions to ensure your income and peace of mind during a recession:
Re-train. Become more of an expert in your field. Learn more about other products you have available to you. Become the local expert in your market.
Study new markets that provide somewhat consistent opportunities for growth such as food production, pharmaceuticals, hospitals, utilities, laboratories, safety and ergonomics, etc....
Make more of an effort to brand yourself. Become a valued expert. Focus.
Market yourself. Establish a blog, provide a regular newsletter, write articles, and utilize email marketing to better stay in touch with clients.
Make yourself more valuable and visible to your clients. Become confident of your value.
"Focus on one particularly profitable niche in your industry and marketplace and become the 'go-to' person in your marketplace," says Sitter. "We all have a product line or service that offers greater value and superior profit margins. Forget being a generalist and become a specialist. Establish your expertise and publicize it well. Get the word out."
Daniel Sitter is the author of both Learning For Profit and Superior Selling Skills Mastery. He has garnered extensive experience in sales, training, marketing and personal development spanning a successful twenty-five year sales career. Learn more at Daniel's blog, Idea Sellers.
You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't sat through at least one snooze-inducing presentation, demo, or lecture. Slide after slide of facts, percentages, and data. You're probably nodding off just thinking about it.
"The only thing worse than filling up your speeches, slides, emails, or reports with fact after fact is not shaping them to tell your story," says communication expert Dianna Booher. She asks, "What story do your facts tell? What trail do the facts leave?"
Booher continues, "Tell me how your division exploded with the introduction of the new widget, and your headcount climbed from 3 to 68 engineers in the first two years you were in business. Then tell me how you grew lax in your quality control. Tell about your reject rates. Show how the customer satisfaction numbers plummeted. Show how orders started dropping as fast as they were logged onto the computer. Then circle back to the layoff of 58 engineers three years later. Then out of the ashes came..."
Well, you get the picture....Drama. Dialogue. Climax. Denouement.
"Set the scene at the trade show. How many competitors were there? How many attendees? Of those, how many did your booth attract? Why? What was the attraction - or non-attraction? What did the competitor do to drive you nuts? What kind of lead follow-up and closing ratio do you have to have after the trade show to make your competitors eat dust?"
"Music, lights, camera, action. Facts alone will never feed the mind - at least not for long," says Booher. "Anecdotes anchor your message in the hearts and minds of your listeners. Success is not about how many statistics you compile, but rather how many your buyer or boss retains."
Dianna Booher is the founder of Booher Consultants, a global performance improvement firm that works with organizations to increase profitability and market share through more effective communication - oral, written, and interpersonal. Learn more at http://www.booherconsultants.com.
"Determination is the down payment on sales achievement." -- Unknown
If you want to achieve sales success next month and the month after that...start now. Be determined this week to make one more prospecting call, research one more company, and write one more proposal. You'll see the results in the future, and be thankful for your hard work and resolve!
The number one complaint buyers have about salespeople is a lack of follow-up. Guarantee your follow-up. Advise buyers that this is part of your value-added. Assure them that you will be there after the sale to guarantee their complete satisfaction with your solution. Promise them accessibility before, during, and after the sale.
Today's quick tip comes from Tom Reilly, president of Tom Reilly Training. He is an authority on value-added selling, and speaks to thousands of salespeople and managers annually on increasing their value to their company and customers.
If you're having trouble cold calling, the problem might be which side of your brain you're using.
Research shows that left-brain thinkers are analytical, logical, and look at things in parts, while right-brain thinkers are creative, believe that everything is possible, and look at a situation as a whole, rather than as steps. This means that right-brain thinkers are more likely to look at cold calling as a way to start a conversation, and consequently face fewer setbacks when the conversation doesn't lead to a sale.
If you're not enjoying cold calling, try looking at it with a right brain mentality. Here are some suggestions from sales trainer and speaker Ari Galper.
Before you make a cold call, think to yourself, "My goal is not to make the sale but to create a conversation based on how I can help the other person."
Avoid changing who you are when you make your call. There's no need to be on "stage" or to sound enthusiastic. Just be your everyday relaxed self, as if you're calling a friend. People know when you're being genuine, and when you're not.
Throw out your linear sales script and generate a spontaneous conversation based on the problems you can help the other person solve.
Let go of thinking "buyer-seller," and view the person you're calling as another person, not as a "prospect."
Let go of worrying about driving the conversation "forward." Instead, open your call with a problem statement that generates the response "What do you mean?" or "Tell me more."
Ari Galper is the creator of Unlock The Game, a new sales mindset that overturns the notion of selling as we know it today. Contact him at www.unlockthegame.com.
Most Sales Professionals Happy with Management, Despite Stress and a Lack of Leads and Training
Our recent Sales Career Satisfaction Survey reveals the people who sell products and services for a living have conflicting feelings about their chosen career.
The survey, which asked questions on various job satisfaction issues, was sent to our subscribers. Over 2,000 salespeople responded. The survey found that, while most sales professionals are reasonably satisfied with their jobs, they consider high stress to be a significant occupational hazard. In fact, nearly six out of 10 respondents said they consider their jobs stressful.
Despite the job pressure, 70 percent of respondents reported being happy with their management, while 64 percent of those taking the survey said they felt adequately recognized for their achievements. A surprising 75 percent of respondents believe their management's sales expectations or quotas are realistic.
The survey revealed a number of significant job dissatisfaction issues as well.
Only half of the respondents expressed satisfaction with their compensation, while 52 percent felt their companies could provide better training. Fifty-five percent alse believed their companies could do a better job of providing sales leads.
"The survey findings suggest that most salespeople feel good about their chosen career despite the high stress levels," says Michael Dalton Johnson, founder and publisher of SalesDog.com. "Considering that lack of recognition is a common complaint of many employees in all types of jobs, we were surprised to learn the large number of salespeople who feel adequately recognized for their work."
Overall, the survey indicates enthusiasm for a sales career is strong, as witnessed by an overwhelming 83 percent of respondents saying they would recommend sales as a career for young people entering the workforce.
Our Quote of the Week reminded our Managing Editor, Tina LoSasso, how a simple and non-threatening elevator speech can "hook" a big fish. Here's her story:
Several years ago, I taught marketing for a real estate franchisor. One month, while I was teaching the class the company's elevator speech, a woman shot out of her chair to tell the class why they HAD to learn this. Turns out her husband (and business partner) was in the class two months before and returned to their office insisting that everyone learn the elevator speech.
A few days later, the couple was at Home Depot buying paint to fix up their newly-opened office. A gentleman in front of them in the check-out line noticed their company logo-embossed polo shirts and asked her what they did. With some trepidation the woman answered using her elevator speech for the very first time. The gentleman was intrigued. It turned out he was a new home builder. The conversation continued and he ended up giving the new office owners all of his homes to list.
If you can't easily explain - in simple, "non-sales" language - what you do for your customers, you need to craft an elevator speech. A good one will "let your hook always be cast" for fish big or small.
For help on crafting an effective elevator speech, check out this past blog post, or contact one of our experts, Tammy Stanley, to learn how to craft a "vocal business card".
"Think top sellers are born, not made? If so, you'll learn otherwise in this straight-shooting book by Paul McCord. He takes the mystique out of their stellar results and shows you exactly what top producers do differently than the Average Joe. Best of all, he shows you how you can replicate their achievements, capitalize on your personal strengths and take charge of your success." - Jill Konrath, best-selling author, Selling to Big Companies
"Paul McCord has written the most complete sales bible for aspiring sales superstars I've ever read! His 12 Keys will become your "Ten Commandments" to both a far more profitable career and fulfilling life!" - Dave Anderson, best-selling author, How to Deal with Difficult Customers
"If you're tired of chasing, pursuing, and begging for sales, read this book immediately. Paul McCord knows what it takes to become a sales superstar and knows how to make you one too. I know because I've seen him do it for countless salespeople firsthand." - Frank Rumbauskas, NY Times Bestselling Author, Never Cold Call Again
Our publisher, Michael Dalton Johnson, has been featured once again on Salesopedia.com. Check out his article, "It's a Jungle Out There!" for a humorous look at the different types of buyers you'll come across in the concrete jungle.
"Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish." - Ovid, Roman Poet
These may be fancy words from an old-world poet, but they ring true in business today. The only way you'll be successful in sales is to be constantly prospecting and finding new ways to reach your customers. Attend a community event, create a business card that expresses your personality, or just hold the door open for someone juggling a tray of Starbucks. You'll be surprised what turns up in your net.
Do you have any stories of unlikely meetings or a method that helped you reach prospects in a new way? We'd love to hear them!
You've finally secured a meeting with an account you've been pursuing for months, only to learn you'll be meeting with a purchasing agent rather than the COO, Manager, etc. Purchasing agents, specifically, are usually interested in one thing - price. So, how do you get them to look beyond the price to the value of your solution? Paul Cherry, a sales training consultant and author, suggests you create value for the purchasing agent by understanding their need to feel appreciated.
"When companies keep a narrow focus on increasing profitability, people can slip below the radar. When the company has a great year, the CEO rarely says, "We owe it all to our purchasing agents toiling down in the basement, saving us 5 cents apiece on widgets," notes Cherry.
He continues, "Many workers you deal with feel overworked and under-respected. All they ask its that you make them look good. Provide them with solutions that'll take paperwork off their desks and keep their bosses happy with them, and they'll be happy with you."
Paul Cherry is the president of Performance Based Results, a sales training and leadership development firm. He has trained and coached over 1,200 organizations in every major industry ranging from family-owned small businesses to leading Fortune 500 companies. He is also the author of the top-selling book, Questions That Sell and the soon-to-be-released Questions That Lead.
I came across this blog post written by Nigel Edelshain over at Sales 2.0 and thought it was a great reminder to all salespeople that success is in the details. It may not be glamorous, but the best way to earn more money (and reach that glamorous lifestyle!) is to spend time scheduling follow-up calls, taking notes, and making lists.
"We had been on quite a 'roll' securing new business and leads all over the place for our clients for a few months," says Edelshain. "Then we relaxed a bit, got a bit less detail-focused and 'voila' things slowed up in the pipeline. So we spent the last couple of weeks looking into what was causing this slow down - what we have found was details. It turned out small differences in how 'type A' we were being really impacted our results."
Some specific areas that we found:
Scheduling Follow-Up Calls: Some of our sales team got into the habit of scheduling follow-up calls one or several weeks out. But deals have their own tempo and when leads are warm that tempo needs to increase. Follow-up should be sooner for warm leads. We started to shorten our follow-up time, especially on warm leads, and right away our sales pipeline improved. A pretty boring detail.
Note-taking: CRM systems are pretty boring. But taking good notes on your interactions with prospects is very important if you "team sell." Team selling can be extremely powerful - it lets others come up with ideas you may have missed. But team members can only help you if you take enough notes for them to know what's going on with that contact/account. We started getting "type A" on our notes again and came up with new ideas that caused deals to flow.
Documenting Best Practices: Another boring one. Who wants to put information into an Intranet when you could be selling? Understood. But we found that some of our sales people were missing details of the sales process for specific products we are selling. They had definitely known the details at some point but had simply forgotten one particular point on one particular project. Big deal? Well it can be because sales is a "real time game," if you don't say the right thing on a prospecting call, you lose your chance. Knowing the details of the sales process is key.
Lists: Yet another boring one. I believe target lists for prospecting may be the #1 factor in determining sales success. If you call the wrong people, you won't sell anything. We started to lose one name here and one name there, whether from an outside list or a referral that was not well documented in our CRM system (not truly lost but not in the right place). A name here or there does not seem like a "biggie" right? But all this adds up. It's that one missing name that might be a prospect with a burning need.
"I've said before 'sales is just like accounting,'" continues Edelshain. "In prospecting this is so true. The details count a lot. The cliche of salespeople is loud backslappers buying drinks at the gold club. Great characters but lousy at administration...and details. The reality in a 'Sales 2.0 world' is that salespeople need to be 'boring' and not miss a detail - or they will miss a deal."
If a picture really is worth a thousand words, sales trainer and consultant Craig James is right on target when he asks, "Why is it, then, in our conversations, in our written correspondence, and in our presentations, we act as if the opposite is true - that a thousand words will create the picture we want?"
If you're having trouble getting the point across, James suggests you try using a metaphor or analogy to paint a picture in your prospect's mind. By doing this you will "create a visual image of your concept; in doing so, you ensure that it sticks with your prospect better and far longer than would a litany of industry- or product-specific terms," says James. "You can also use these tools when facing objections: the images that metaphors and analogies create cause prospects to pause and think, and to see the situation from a perspective different from their own (yours)."
Wondering how to start using metaphors and analogies in your sales conversations? Try this action tip from James:
Write down the names of three prospects with whom you're currently engaged, or are trying to engage, and who are having difficulty "getting it." Next to each name write down the aspect of your offering that the prospect is having the most difficulty understanding, and hence, buying into.
Then make a list of all the things you know about this person that could serve as the basis for a metaphor or analogy. Your list could include the industry they're in, their personal interests and hobbies, family situation, achievements, challenges, news and facts on them that you might find in trade journals, on blogs, or on social networking sites such as LinkedIn. Pick one of these and relate it to the obstacle you're facing - the concept you're having a tough time getting across.
Craig James is president of Sales Solutions, a sales productivity improvement company. He helps sales organizations get increased production out of their sales people, and entrepreneurs and individual sales people to be more successful at selling. Learn more at http://www.sales-solutions.biz.
Colleen Francis, one of our sales experts, recently had the opportunity to meet racing legend Al Usner Sr. He shared his perspective on winning at the track, and his words were very applicable to the world of sales. His thoughts are below, and the full article (and a picture!) can be found here.
1. Focus. Mr. Usner said that no matter how much noise there was, no matter how many people were at the track and no matter who was approaching him, when he walked onto the Indianapolis speedway all he heard, and all he listened to, was himself. He had tunnel vision focused on finishing the race first.
2. Times change and winners change with the times. His first win came in a car with 1000 horsepower at a top speed close to 125 miles per hour and 1-2 brake changes throughout the race because you needed to brake in the corners due to tire performance. His last race was won in a car with 750 horsepower doing close to 220 miles per hour using one set of brakes because you no longer need to brake because of new tire technology. Conditions change, winners use the new conditions to their advantage, they don't complain about them.
3. Winners want to win. They hate to lose. Winners understand that if they aren't getting the results they want it's up to them - and no one else - to take responsibility and make the changes required to win. Winners hold themselves accountable for their results. No one else.
"Learn from Al Usner Sr.," says Francis. "His family is a dynasty at the track; the best there is with nine Indianapolis 500 wins amassed to their names. That's 10% of all Indianapolis 500 wins ever! What great lessons to implement into our businesses."
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Name: Editor: Kelly McLean
Location: Carlsbad, CA, United States
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