Category - Sales

A World Without Salespeople

If buyers could get by without salespeople, do you think they would? I think most would say yes simply because when buyers/prospects think about “a salesperson” they don’t typically think about someone who brings real value to their organization. Why? Because most salespeople have done a poor job of really helping the prospect. Salespeople are much more concerned with showing our “value” to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible rather than diagnosing each prospects issues and trying to solve them.

 

Most salespeople bring to their prospects lots of information. Interestingly, information is something any buyer can gather from other sources. At the end of the day, you as a salesperson must ask yourself, “Am I really bringing value to the prospect or just information?” If you are bringing information, then you’re wasting your time, your company’s time, and your prospects time. You might as well just email your buyer the information and then go play on Facebook.

 

As a salesperson, if you can’t honestly and fully understand the issues you’ll need to help your customers overcome, then you really have to begin questioning the role you play. With the advent of technology and communication, the role of the salesperson has changed. If you as a salesperson have not recognized and embraced this change, then you are nothing more than a walking brochure.

 

Prospects and clients alike don’t want more information. They want solutions. Unfortunately, because prospects are often far too invested in their own issues, they don’t even know what their specific issues are that you may be able to solve. This is the role the salesperson needs to play — the role of helping identify the problems, whether obvious or obscure, and turning them into opportunities you can solve.

 

So how do you go about identifying problems? You as the salesperson must become an investigator – someone who is determined to find out what really is happening in an organization, industry and global marketplace. Asking questions is the key. “But Greta, if I show them our solutions and how we have solved them for others, they will see how we can help”. Really? How’s that working for you?

Start this process by shifting your focus. Instead of just delivering information to your customer, begin to ask more questions. When I ask clients to do this exercise, they almost always come up with these leading questions. For example; “if I could show you how to save up to 20% on your ____, is that something you would be interested in?” Seriously? When you develop a question, make sure it passes the “duh” factor. If the answer of the question could be “duh, of course”, don’t ask it.

A few things to keep in mind when developing good, thought-provoking questions are;

  • Research their organization in advance. Find out all that you can about them and the decision makers too. It’s so easy today to gather information so don’t skip this step. They will have much less respect for you if you don’t.
  • Use open ended questions. I know you’ve heard this before but it is imperative to keep this is mind. Help the prospect to think by asking questions that get them to think about the answer. Questions that begin with; “What are your thoughts on…”, ‘share with me…”, “What would happen if…” are good examples. Anything that helps them engage in a discussion with you is the basic foundation of a good question the more they are talking the more they are beginning to sell themselves. Success comes from them self-realizing they need what you have, not by you telling them.

 

  • Once you feel you have gathered enough information to tell them why they should use your solution, don’t. You are still not ready. Begin by summarizing what you have heard and what solutions they would need to solve the issue. Not a summary of what you can do but what they need. It must be summarized from their words and a solution they have expressed they are looking for. For example; “So what it sounds like is that you not only need a faster widget but fast enough to keep up at the accelerated pace that you are expecting to continue. Is that right?”

When you can clearly identify ways you’ve helped your buyer achieve either of these outcomes, then you will know you’re no longer the type of salesperson that buyers love to hate. Plus, you’ll be growing your bottom line at the same time. And that’s a lot better than simply doling out information!

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Are Your Salespeople Riding the Wave?

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The worst seems to be over but our economy is, inevitably, cyclical. Like the rest of us, it has its ups and downs. Yet, when we are in a down cycle, do you get nervous about the economy? And do other factors external to your industry, including world events (such as elections for example) cause you to tighten your belt?

Cycles in the economy and moments of national or world uncertainty are not a time for either anxiety or celebration but a time to be realistic and acknowledge that what goes up, must come down. I certainly don’t mean to be a downer but if we learned anything in the last few years I hope we learned that you need to be lean and mean all of the time, not just when the going gets tough. Your sales team needs to be able to respond to this volatility. If it does not, the competition’s sales team surely will.

During these last few months, with things seeming to lighten up, the opportunities are more fruitful. I am sure your sales team feels pretty good about themselves lately but what is the truth? If your salespeople are accustomed to having sales fall in their laps, especially newer ones, they have yet to be put to the test.

With the buying opportunities seeming to now be coming along more frequently, are our salespeople really good or just reaping the benefits of a comeback?

Right now, your sales team could be the weakest part of your company. It may not seem that way since you have most likely seen an upswing in sales, even slightly and are feeling relieved. Well don’t!

Many salespeople are showing their feathers like a proud peacock but fail to recognize that their sales in these times simply may be coming to them along with the ebb and flow of the economy but with very little true sales ability involved.

A lot of companies wait until desperate times. Then the layoffs and cost cutting begins. Smart companies do not wait. They know that they should evaluate their sales force now, finding out who has effective selling skills to utilize in the slump that may lie ahead.

When assessing your team, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the necessary elements for selling in a good and not so good economy?
  • Which salespeople have those elements?
  • Which of your sales people may not have the necessary skills, and why are we waiting to replace them?

If salespeople are not strong enough to make it through tough times, they probably do not belong on your team at all. Evaluate their skills. Go on a sales call with each salesperson and see how he/she performs in the real world. Another option is to have them each take an assessment that shows the skills they truly have—and don’t have*.

Hold your ground and act as though the economy were flourishing. Keep in mind that the economy is cyclical. When things are good, act as if you were looking for ways to build revenues and cut costs. Do it now, that way, you are not caught off guard when things recede —which they always do. Now is when real sales professionals can shine.

 

For further information on this subject follow the link http://www.schulzbusiness.com/interview-questions.aspx

 

* If you would like to take a free assessment for a salesperson on your team, email me at greta@schulzbusiness.com and I will send you the link.

It’s All about the Process.

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It’s about the process

 

Ryan, a software sales rep, had been having a rough day. He’d been bombarded with questions from several customers and gotten behind on work that he needed to finish before the end of the day.

He then got a call from Wayne, a prospect who introduced himself by saying: “I’ve heard great things about your engineering software package. I saw a demo about a year ago, and was not in a position to purchase it at the time. But since then, it’s become very apparent that I need to integrate it into my system.”

“Wow,” Ryan thought. “This will be easy. It’s about time something went right today.”

Then, Wayne said: “I need to know about the cost, the tech support and how soon it can be installed.”

Ryan immediately went into his pitch. He discussed tech support in detail, covered availability and other options, and explained that the price was $12,000, with 30-day terms.

Wayne’s response was unexpected. He said that $12,000 was quite a hefty price tag and he needed a couple of days to think about all of this more carefully. He’d call Ryan back next week.

Ryan did a double take. “What just happened?” he thought. “This sale was in the bag, a sure thing. He really needs it and now he’s thinking it over? He said he needed the software right away.” And that was the end of the call.

 

So, what happened? Ryan got lazy, plain and simple. He thought Wayne was sold. He thought that all he had to do was give him the information he needed, then write it up. He got fooled into assuming the sale without doing the work. He never got Wayne to talk about why he was looking now, with what seemed to be a real priority about buying the software. The entire transaction was conducted at the intellectual level, without any real understanding of the true need.

So, what happened? Ryan was lured into taking shortcuts. He mistakenly thought the prospect’s enthusiasm was a sure sale.

 

You need the time to qualify the prospect and make sure he’s real before giving out information or making your presentation.

In Ryan’s case, a couple of questions would have made a world of difference. He might have said: “Before we discuss pricing, help me understand why this software is so important. I want to make sure the application is correct for you. Would you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”

It is so important to gather this information before you discuss price so you can truly have an understanding of not only why they want the software, but the consequence of not installing it.

Once you give away your information – whether on the phone, in a presentation or in the form of a proposal – you have given up any form of control and are at the mercy of the prospect.

Remember: It’s not about the sale; it’s about the process.

 

Greta Schulz is known as one of the best top sales speakers and trainers in Florida. She has made a name for herself in the sales training and business training community. From her best selling books to her weekly updated blogs and articles she produces nothing but the best Sales Tips for you.

For more sales training tips and tools, or to ask her a question, go to www.schulzbusiness.com or email greta@schulzbusiness.com.

 

Are Salespeople Born or Made?

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Are salespeople born or are they made? I hear this question a lot.   Surprisingly, the answer is “made.” Believe it or not, there are learned characteristics that help catapult success in sales.   And they aren’t what you think.

First and foremost, when it comes to sales success, the two most important things you have to have are commitment and desire. You have to have the desire to be successful and the commitment to do whatever it takes to get there.

That being said, the other characteristics are based on beliefs and influence the ability to sell.

Here they are:

  • Takes Personal Responsibility: Someone who lacks this trait always blames someone else (the prospect, the competition, the economy) for his or her lack of success. He has an answer for everything and an external explanation for why he didn’t get the business. So how do you test someone to see if he’s got this trait? Ask this question:

“If the economy shifts downward fifteen to twenty percent, and your goals were based on last year’s figures, how should your goal numbers change?”

  • Can Control His or Her Emotions: Someone who lacks this trait takes things a prospect says personally. He gets excited over comments the prospect makes and does a lot of defending instead of learning why the prospect said what she did. To test for this trait, ask this question:

“If a prospect say’s she’s unwilling to work with us because of a bad past experience, but you know the company is different now and has corrected the problem, what would you do?”

 

  • The Way Your Salesperson Makes His Own Purchases: This is a huge clue telling you how about that person’s selling style. A salesperson that comparison shops will empathize with prospects who do the same. Typically, this person’s number one factor in getting a “good deal” is the lowest cost. That’s trouble. So how do you test the trait? Ask this question:

“When you’re shopping for a large purchase, what’s your process like?”

There’s a whole bunch of other characteristics, but these three are interesting because most employers don’t look for them. Instead, they look for someone who’s outgoing, a “real people person”. Not only is that a not what to look for, but it can hurt you because the salesperson’s underlying beliefs are unknown.

Oh, by the way… when you ask the questions posed above, these are the answers you want to hear:

 

  1. They shouldn’t. Not at all. When the economy is good, salespeople are often “order takers”, rather than being true salespeople. Since it comes easy, they often forget (if they ever had it to start with) their real selling ability. The salesperson has to find a way to make sales happen and not accept that external factors are responsible. I wonder how your mortgage company would if you said this:: “The economy is down, so I’ll only be paying you 80% from now on.” Let me know how that one goes!
  2. Find out why and what happened. The wrong answer begins with “Yeah, but…” and defends something that not only doesn’t work, but also doesn’t get to the root of the real problem. For you to find out, you have to dig deep and ask the right questions.  
  3.  Their process should include things like deciding what he wants, going to one or two stores and    buying it that day. Why is that important? Because the more research your salesperson does and the more comparison shopping they do overrides what you teach them about getting a commitment from the prospect. They believe in looking around and comparing and if it kicks in, they’ll empathize with the prospect that says, “This looks good! But I need to look at a few other proposals.” Translation: “I’m not interested in yours.”

So no matter how friendly and outgoing someone is, don’t confuse it with the characteristics of a good salesperson. If he has some of the above characteristics, he can be taught to sell—even if he’s the quiet and reserved type!

 

 

 

 

The New Normal in Business Development

Are You Asking Questions??

 

Are You Asking Questions??

The New Normal in Selling

What’s the new normal when it comes to developing business? This is not the old ‘ask a few questions, give your features and benefits and trial close’. The 70s wants their slick sales guy back. Today you need to be smart, curious and a true consultant to sell. Here are a few things that today are imperative in business growth.

1) Tell the prospect its OK to break up….Rejection is a result of trying to sell someone your product or service as opposed to tell them you what you are calling about, let them know it seems that because of what they do you could potentially work together, but (pull back) you don’t want to assume that you are a good fit. What you’d like to do is ask a few questions to see if the two of you are a fit and if not, we decide it’s a NO then we only wasted a few minutes? Sound OK?

This allows you to give a NO as an option right upfront. Then you have asked for it as opposed to a prospect pushing you away and that is the rejection.

2) Mining for customers is different today. Networking is the true key to finding and  keeping customers but most people do it wrong. Networking events ate not for direct prospecting! Recognize this scenario?

“Hey do you guys use promotional products? here’s a sample, we can really help you!!”..” NO! Instead I say go to an event and look for Strategic Alliances, people that you can refer business back and forth to as opposed to hitting your potential prospects so hard. We all know building business on referrals is the best way to do business so lets network for good alliances that you can refer business to and that is a good source for your referrals.

3) Research should be used for credibility. Research is essential today before you pick up the phone and call anyone. No excuses! The most important reason to do your research on their web site, Google etc. is to create good, quality questions to ask them to engage your prospect in conversation and truly understand their needs not to tell them that you’ve researched their company and since they do this, we can sell you that…

4) If you need to discount to get the business is almost always a result of onof these things. a) The customer doesn’t truly trust you/your product or service so there is only price to use as a differentiator or b) you haven’t truly understood the need for the product. I know need seems simple but it isn’t.

What are they trying to say? What impression are they trying to leave, howdo they want to be seen? What are they using it for? There are lots of questions to not only understand what a prospect needs but the true deep-down ‘whys’. Asking questions will let you also gain credibility and trust but not Selling and truly asking and listening….

5)  Listen and shut up!! Wow! If I could teach people that are in sales/business development to ask questions and listen there would be a lot more success in business!

Telling isn’t selling…but it comes from a good place. We are excited about what we represent and want other to be excited too but excitement doesn’t sell, questions and true engagement does.

Long ago we were taught to ask a few questions and when you hear a “ buying signal” jump in and tell them you can help with that and how. NO!

When you ask a question, wait for the answer and whatever the answer is, especially if it may be something your product or service can help with, the best next question is, “tell me about that”, then SHUT-UP!!!

 

Greta Schulz is President of SchulzBusiness, a sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of “To Sell IS Not To Sell”. One of the Best Sales Speakers, She has a Second Edition “To Sell is Not To Sell” Out NOW

! For more information or free sales tips go to www.schulzbusiness.com and sign up for ‘GretaNomics’, a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com

Click Book to order

New Book, To Sell IS NOT To Sell, 2nd Edition!!

New Book, To Sell IS NOT To Sell, 2nd Edition!!

SELL NAKED/ Telling isn’t Selling!

Asking Questions

Jim arrived at the office of Bob Simmons, President of the ABC tool and Dye Company early so he could sit in the parking lot and review in his head what he wanted to say. Jim practiced each step of his presentation in his head and exactly what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. He knew that his power point slides were perfectly in order and were just want he needed to land this account. He knew what this company needed because he has called on other companies like this and helped them just like he can help this one. Jim took a deep breath and walked into the building, “I’ve got this one down” he thought and proceeded in the door.

Once the pleasantries were over Jim got right down to business. “Mr. Simmons, I have been with my company for the past 3 years and our company has been in business for over 50 years. We are the leader in our industry and have worked with lots of companies like yours and have been able to meet the needs that you have”.

“Well, that’s why I agreed to meet with you, Jim. We do have a need for a product like yours and this might be a good fit” stated Bob Simmons.

“I’m glad you did” Jim said proudly. “Our product line has the best reputation for least failures on the job therefore downtime is at the lowest in the industry which will keep you up and running more efficiently”.

“Great Jim, but our service department isn’t sure if they can retrofit your model into our existing equipment”.

“Oh I wouldn’t worry about that we do it all of the time and with companies who have bigger problems then yours. As a matter of fact I brought a power-point presentation that I believe will help you understand why we’re number one in the industry”.

After the presentation, Mr. Simmons said, “Thanks for the presentation Jim but I am still a little concerned about our existing equipment and the retrofit we’ll need to do. We can’t afford any downtime with the change or production could be compromised”.

“Mr. Simmons, I understand that is a concern but we do this all of the time and don’t worry we can handle it.”

Fifteen minutes later Jim said goodbye to Mr. Simmons and promised him a proposal in a few days. After he left, Mr. Simmons buzzed his assistant and said when that proposal comes in just round file it.

What happened? Jim ignored the real issue that Mr. Simmons wanted addressed and kept telling him what he felt was important. Guess what? No one cares what you think is important, only as it applies to them. Jim missed lots of opportunity to really deeply understand what his prospects issues were and assure him that not only he could solve the problem but help Mr. Simmons understand how.

The result? Jim may very well have the best product for Mr. Simmons but he didn’t see it that way. When a prospect gives you a hint of a need address that need by asking really good pointed questions for example;

Tell me more about the retrofit concern?

Have you had that issue in the past in looking to change products?

What happened?

What did you do it address it at that time?

How did it effect production and at what cost?

These types of questions would not only have given Jim a real insight to the issue it would have also given Mr. Simmons confidence that Jim knew and could address HIS issue.

Quick wrap up;

  • Stop telling about how great you and your company are (no one cares)
  • Ask what some of their concerns are and then dig deeper to truly understand the issue
  • Don’t be so quick with a solution, even it if is correct, you haven’t earned the right so early in the process to give one.
  • Listening is you best sales tool, not your product knowledge

Like this? Want some short weekly tips??

 

Click here for a list of great questions to ask!!

 

 

 

Are you selling the book or the movie?

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I’m going to try my best to do a great benefits statement so the customers know exactly what we do.” We put so much time and energy into coming up with this big introduction/benefit statement, but, honestly, it’s not as important as any of the other things that we do.

This thought is on the mind of most salespeople. They feel that they have to have some great, two-sentence explanation of what they do, and that will help sell it.

Now, it is important to summarize what you do, but that is not what sells. Let me illustrate this point. Think about the last time you read a book, and then saw the movie. Which is typically better? Well, almost everyone I talk to says the book is better. Why is that?

When you read a book, you have the ability to create what the scene looks like, what the characters look like, even the voices and sounds therefore the story becomes yours. When you put something in your own brain, you are able to create what it looks like, and what it sounds like, and what it feels like to you. You attach more directly to the story because it becomes your interpretation of the events – as opposed to some producer and director’s interpretation. This is the same reason why telling someone what you do and the “features and benefits” of your product or service is much less powerful then asking great questions and getting them to see how it can help through their own eyes.

When you tell someone why they should work with you, what the benefits are, what the advantages are, those are your interpretations of the benefits or the advantages that you offer. When you ask really good questions to get people to think about what is important to them, it is their idea.

Ask if they had success in a particular area, or how you can change things. It is this kind of thought-provoking questions that allows a prospect to see the advantage, on their own, your product is supposed to bring. So, asking questions is really much more important than coming up with an important benefit statement.

There are a couple different types of questions. Big-picture questions are thought-provoking questions that get the customer talking about the overall situation. For example, talk about the goals they set for the organization, and where they are along the line of those goals. “Right now, it is (plug in the date) and if it were one year from today and you were to look back and say, it has been a very successful year, what would have to have happened?”

Another might be: “What are the things that you fear the most over the next 12 months, and what are you doing to avoid them?”

The key is to ask big-picture questions and get people to think. The successful questions ask people to think about the answer and put themselves in that place before they do. Big-picture questions are typically used at the beginning of the conversation to get a prospect to open up sooner. You listen to the answers carefully and move through the conversation successfully.

The second type of question are what I call advantage questions. They come directly from what you believe are the advantages of your product or service. For example, if you sell advertising in a very high-end magazine, you might say: “Talk to me about how you get in front of high-income individuals now.” Then a follow-up question like: “If you had the ability to get in front of more of them, what would you say?” Again it forces them to think about not only being in front of potential clients that they’re trying to get in front of, but it has them think about what the message would be. It begins to develop where you’re going to go with your recommendations or proposal in the end.

So, rather than you telling them what they can do with your product or service, this allows them to come up with their own picture of how they might use your product.

Remember, when you go to the movies, it is purely the director and the producer’s interpretation. When you read a book, it’s your interpretation of those words, and you have the ability to create your own picture. It’s much more effective when it’s yours.

Top 10 Sales Mistakes

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10) Not pre-qualifying a potential appointment before you commit to going on it. I still hear people sway, “I go for the appointment, if I can get on front of them I have a better chance of selling it”. You also have a better chance of wasting lots of time on nothing but an opportunity that has a high chance of going nowhere.

 

9) Not allowing the power of silence. Silence is an important tool in negotiation. It is powerful because most people are so uncomfortable with it that they will speak again before they allow the prospect to answer. When you ask a question, allow the prospect to have time to think about the answer. If you don’t, you have lost control of the conversation and more importantly, some people need time to think before answering, for those people, you have interrupted their train of thought. Stop talking!

 

8) Not uncovering the next steps clearly enough. Some of us are sharp enough to know that we should ask what the next step is when on a sales appointment but there is more to it then that. For example if you asked the question, “If I come back with a proposal you like, what will happen next?” (good question by the way) and they say, “we’ll move forward” you would probably assume that means sign the deal…are you sure?? Move forward could mean lots of things so make sure you understand what it is specifically.

Don’t assume it means sign the deal without asking because you know what happens when you assume.

 

7) Putting a proposal together before understanding all that should go in it. I am floored how many people still do the show up, ask a few questions and ask for the “privilege” to come back with a proposal. What exactly are you proposing? Don ‘t get caught up in the “if I can show them all the great things we do they will buy” syndrome. They will buy what is relevant to them and only then!

 

6) Not utilizing relationships they have in the community to form alliances to help get them introduced to a potential prospect at a higher level then they may be able to get to alone or by just cold calling.

 

5) Defending your product or service. If someone asks why you did something or your organization made a particular decision, don’t defend the decision, ask why they are asking? Don’t assume you know why. You can get yourself if deep trouble that way.

 

4) Not asking for a referral because you are uncomfortable. This is an unbelievable reality to me. The #1 complaint I hear from salespeople is they hate cold- calling. Then get yourself out of the cold-call business and start asking for referrals. The two reasons why we don’t get more referrals are: 1) we don’t ask and 2) we don’t ask properly! You must be specific about who and what you are looking for. No one knows better the
n you what a good referral looks like.

 

3) Don’t set an agenda for a meeting. If you are calling on someone and you go in with the attitude that you will “wing it” you are in trouble. No one respects your time if you don’t respect theirs. Set an agenda, discuss it with them at the beginning of the meeting and get their agreement. They will also be on the same page with you and not an adversary.

 

  • Don’t give the “features and benefits” of your product until you know they are relevant to them. Don’t assume they are because you “know his/her industry. Assuming is a mistake in many ways. The most damaging is not letting them tell you the issues they are having before you make your recommendations. Even if they end up being the same ones. People need to be heard.

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  • not Shutting up.

 

 

5 Things; Getting ROI from Sales Training? Free White Paper

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Unfortunately, too many businesses are currently caught up in the trap of being too focused on short-term cost-saving measures, rather than looking at the big picture and investing in their business. So, most are not putting their sales staff through a disciplined and strategically focused training program.

 

Today, they have to know exactly what to do to be successful in building their business. There is overwhelming focus on products and services, and not nearly enough time and attention being focused on the process of sales. The question is: Are you getting your ROI from training?

 

There’s a lot that goes into selling besides going out and making calls. Before, there was what I call low-hanging fruit that was easily gathered by salespeople who were nice and friendly. People liked them, and if they had a choice, they spent their money with them.

 

Today, people are a lot more selective about how they spend their money. They’re looking for professional experts, true consultants to help them build their business. Sales training should be more detailed than just an initial one-day training. Here are five things you can look at to build a successful sales force in this new economy:

 

Have the right management process in place. Organizations often take their best salesperson and make him the manager. This is a big mistake. If someone is an excellent sales person, they often have the traits that will make an awful sales manager. Management traits are very different than salesperson traits. It’s important to remember: Just because somebody is a good salesperson, it doesn’t mean she is going to make a good sales manager.

Focus on the salespeople’s activities. I often hear CEOs and sales directors say: “I don’t need to know what they’re doing when they’re out there,” “It’s not important for me to know what they’re doing every day” and “What’s important is to make sure that in the end they make their numbers.” That’s true. Activities are not just knocking on a door or picking up a business card and making a call. What it’s about is giving them the tools to help them understand what they are doing right and what to change.

Lack of true sales skills. We have often hired salespeople because, when they come in, they’re very friendly, very outgoing and we believe that personality will help them sell for us. That is absolutely not true. We need professionals who understand your products and services in a way that will help potential prospects ask the right questions to uncover what the real needs and the real depth of use would be. The depth of the question is what’s important, and the true professional salesperson understands how that value will be seen by the prospect, as opposed to a salesperson who is out there just being friendly and meeting people. It is not about glad-handing; it’s about being a true expert.

Lack of ongoing reinforcement. We tend to hire salespeople that have either sales experience or, more often, industry experience. Often, people with industry experience are bringing negative baggage with them. My recommendation: Find a process that you believe fits with your organization, that is the most professional and that you can track at every point in the process. Once you have that, have all of your salespeople use that process. It’s too difficult for you to manage salespeople when they each have their own way of doing things. They need to use their own personality and style, but within an approved process that matches well with the philosophies of your organization.

A poorly defined process. Make sure the process your sales department is using is the one that you feel most comfortable with. What are the pieces it should have?

First, it needs to have prospecting. There’s a variety of activities that people do, and you need to understand what your salespeople’s strengths and weaknesses are. They all need to have activities that need to be done all of the time, not just when they’re not busy.

 

The second thing is they need to prequalify every phone conversation. How often do they spend time in front of people that aren’t qualified – can’t make a decision, don’t have budget, don’t have enough money – and putting proposals out there and then following up. That’s not good for anyone.

 

And third: What are they doing when they are on the appointment? Are they actually interviewing the prospects, as opposed to just going in and telling them how wonderful the organization is and hoping they see an opportunity?

 

It’s very important to make sure the process is followed the way you want it to be. It needs to be an interview. After that, there needs to be a true discussion about dollars – about budget or investing. If that doesn’t happen, you don’t want to waste time on a proposal.

 

The next part of the sale process you want to look at is: Are they following up properly? Are they recapping the conversation and the commitments both sides made to move the relationship forward? Typically, a follow-up note or email from a salesperson says, “Thanks so much for the opportunity to speak with you. These are all the things we do, and aren’t we terrific?” That’s not what it should be. It’s a professional recap of what the conversation was, and the last step is your recommendation to the prospect based on what they said was important.

 

I hope that you’re taking your sales force, which is one of the most important things you have to grow your business, very seriously and spending time, energy and money on getting them trained properly. If not, you might as well just close your eyes, throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. How’s that working for you?

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5 Issues That Prevent Optimal Sales Performance

 

Don’t Take Shortcuts with your Sales

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Ryan, a software sales rep, had been having a rough day. He’d been bombarded with questions from several customers and had gotten behind on work that he needed to finish before the end of the day. Then he got a call from Wayne, a prospect who introduced himself by saying, “I’ve heard great things about your engineering software package. I saw a demo about a year ago, and was not in a position to purchase it at the time, but since then it’s become very apparent that I need to integrate it into my system.”

“Wow,” thought Ryan “This will be easy. It’s about time something went right today.”

Then Wayne said, “I need to know about the cost, the tech support and how soon it can be installed.”

Ryan immediately went into his pitch. He discussed tech support in detail, covered availability and other options, and explained that the price was $12,000 with 30-day terms.

Wayne’s response was unexpected. He said that $12,000 was quite a hefty price tag and he needed a couple of days to think about all of this more carefully. He’d call Ryan back next week.

Ryan did a double take. “What just happened?” he thought. “This sale was in the bag, a sure thing, he really needs it and now he’s thinking it over? He said he needed the software right away.” And that was the end of the call.

So what happened? Ryan got lazy, plain and simple. He thought Wayne was sold. All he had to do was give him the info he needed, then write it up. He got fooled into assuming the sale without doing the work. He never got Wayne to talk about why he was looking now with seemed now to be a real priority about buying the software. The entire transaction was conducted at the intellectual level without any real understanding of the true need.images

So what happened? Ryan was lured into taking shortcuts. He mistakenly thought the prospect’s enthusiasm was as sure as a sale. No matter what, you need the time to qualify the prospect and make sure he’s real before giving out your information or making your presentation.

In Ryan’s case, a couple of questions would have made a world of difference. He might have said, “Before we discuss pricing, help me understand why this software is so important. I want to make sure the application is correct for you. Would you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?” Of course, you’re digging in to find out what is really going on. This is so important to gather before you discuss price so you can truly have an understanding of not only why they want the software but the consequence of not installing it.

Once you give away your information, whether on the phone, in a presentation or in the form of a proposal, you have given up any form of control and are literally at the mercy of the prospect.

Remember it’s not about the sale, it’s about the process.

 

 

 

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