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Sales Culture should reflect the overall company culture

Culture is mostly driven by senior management and the sales culture is no different. Too often the sales culture is not in sync with the organizational culture and CEOs are rather removed from the sales process. This leads to…..

…mismanaged expectations

If your sales process is designed to support a consultative sales process where your sales cycle is 3-6 months long and your CEO expects immediate results, it will cause friction. Your CEO will want answers as to why revenue is not coming in, why goals are not achieved and that’s usually where the panic starts. That’s why it is much easier…

…to get buy-in from your CEO

Why? So there is no surprises. While I believe that CEOs should not meddle with the sales process once it is established, I also think that the process needs to be developed, agreed upon and fine tuned with the CEO in the room. It’s a cultural shift that will build a trusting environment where everybody involved in sales knows the parameters and expectations. That leads to the question as to…

…who should be involved in the sales process development?

Ideally, every department. If product development cannot keep up with requirements, it will have an impact on the sales process.

If marketing is not able to deliver leads in the way sales expects them, it will influence success.

Once all the constituents are present when establishing the sales process, it will be a lot easier to meet goals and to have a successful outcome. This is not something that happens in many organizations and that’s….

…why a cultural shift necessary

When we think about the sales process, we think about sales people, database management, phone calls, etc. We don’t think about the actual sales culture.

In many companies the sales department is viewed in a rather negative way. “Sales people are the ones who make the most money, but they don’t have a lot if integrity” is something that I hear a lot.

Sales people don’t pay attention and they always over-promise” is another one.

On the contrary, sales people often complain about delayed deliverables due to product issues. And even more often I hear sales complain about proper and effective marketing support.

Once everybody is involved in developing the sales process and every department takes responsibility for delivering results and keeping deadlines, there will be less surprises.

Why is it important for the CEO to be involved ?

Because there is an environment of trust that needs to be established. If your CEO doesn’t support the company culture, the shift will not happen. Your CEO is the person who drives the car. He relies on other people to provide the map. If his team members don’t communicate their direction to the CEO, he will probably drive into a wall. CEOs are visionaries, they are not the ones involved in the details, but when it comes to culture, your CEO should be at the table.

 

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Many of our clients ask for advice about successful prospecting, especially when it’s something that their sales people are struggling with. Developing new business, prospecting, cold calling can certainly be the most challenging part of the sales process. After all, you are interrupting somebody’s day. It’s almost like being on a first date, testing the waters, making sure that there is alignment.

But, that’s exactly what’s missing in many situations when sales people are calling on prospects. I.e.: making sure that there is a potential fit.

Try to put yourself into your prospect’s shoes. What would you want to hear when you pick up the phone where somebody is interrupting your day? Would you want to hear a sales pitch, or would you want to listen to somebody who is potentially adding value to your life?

Therefore, I’d like to shine a light on 5 common pitfalls you can avoid when prospecting.

Getting the Right Fit

Just as in trying on a new suit – if it’s not the right fit you wouldn’t buy it. Right? The same holds true in sales – If there is no fit, there is no motivating reason to have a sales conversation. But in order for you, the sales person, to determine if this prospect could be a client, you need to do your homework first. Most sales representatives who call me don’t know my business, have never visited my website or my LinkedIn profile. They are just rattling off a sales pitch, in the worst case scenario using a bad script and in some cases they even stutter around trying to get to a point (leaving me to wonder: why they are using a script in the first place?).

So, don’t look for a fit if there is none. No matter how much research you do and how well you prepare for a call, sometimes it’s better to move on. Don’t push it, there is no sense in trying to find alignment if there is none. Reasons can be plentiful.

So, the FIRST COMMON PITFALL to avoid is: Calling a potential prospect NOT knowing anything about them, their potential needs or even their name and looking for a fit when there is NONE!

A Script is a Guideline

There is nothing wrong with using a script, as long as it is used a guideline. The script or guideline also needs to include potential answers to questions that the prospect could possibly ask. It’s almost like envisioning a scenario and preparing to respond. A script should also be a living document rather than a static instrument. It needs to be changed on a regular basis, whenever the environment shifts, which in this business environment happens quite frequently. Your competitors can change, so can regulation and mandates.

SECOND COMMON PITFALL: Rattling off a pitch using a script that might not be suited for the prospect’s current needs.

Be Brief, Distinct and add VALUE!

People will appreciate it when you get to the point fast. And by that I mean that you need to have a value statement. Let me give you an example. When I call on organizations with a national or global presence to present our sales training, I always focus on the fact that we help companies increase revenue and profitability by helping them establish a common, customer-centric sales and service language across a large sales organization. We do that by offering the use of a blended e-Learning/customized coaching approach, but that’s not something that needs to be mentioned first. The on-line Accessibility is a delivery vehicle, not the value. It’s not something that needs to be mentioned first, especially since there are many other providers who claim to have effective on-line training. It’s not a differentiator and e-Learning might not be something that is attractive to a company at first.

THIRD COMMON PITFALL: Focusing on features and benefits, rather than focusing on the value that your solution provides to your prospect.

Know Who You Are Talking To

When calling on people, try to understand their role within the organization and their responsibilities. When I call on a CEO (which is always my first outreach, as I have found it’s more effective to work your way down, rather than up the ladder), I always focus on the overall business goals. Top line value statements. Increased revenue and higher profitability are messages that resonate with CEOs.

Once I get to the sales or training manager, my message shifts. Then it’s more about the nitty-gritty, the details, ins and outs of the program. Of course, increased revenue and higher profitability are also important to the sales manager, but they also want to make sure that their people don’t spend too much time away from their desks, so I talk about the fact that their sales people never have to leave their desk and they will still become more successful.

FOURTH COMMON PITFALL: Not knowing what the purchasing motivations of each individual decision maker are.

Be Personal

In closing – People buy from People. Be personal. Don’t try to “sell them”. We all know that the goal of a sales person is to sell, and that is perfectly acceptable – nothing wrong with that. And in contrast to being “sold”, I prefer to buy from people who genuinely understand my business and approach me with a value proposition that will help me make my company more successful.

But, first you need to connect with me, figure out how best to communicate with me. Then you need to know my business and understand my challenges. Once you have established rapport (and there’s a science to that, and as with any communication skill, it can be learned!), it’s much easier to have a conversation and to build trust.

FIFTH COMMON PITFALL: Moving from one prospect to the next, without taking the time to really connect and listen.

And yes, you can learn how to be a SuperSeller TM and become a top prospector. We invite you to explore our Consultative Sales Certification Program at: http://www.getsalescertified.com/index

And I wish you much success in your prospecting efforts!

Posted in: CONSULTATIVE SALES, Consultative Selling, Prospecting, Sales

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30 Aug

Sales Success – Namaste

by Monika

Free stock photo of person, woman, relaxation, girl

In Sales, only the numbers count. Sales Success is measured by closed business. In Yoga, the results show in peace of mind. Both practices require persistence and patience. What’s most important though is that Yoga and Sales lessons should be practiced on a daily basis, incorporated into our lives. For over a decade I have been practicing Yoga and it’s helped me stay balanced, as much as one can expect from a Dominant D-Behavioral Type (or Type A Personality) like myself. It’s been a process to focus on my breathing, taking time out of my busy schedule to stretch myself to the limit, but it’s paid off. I am certainly calmer and more focused than 10 years ago.

Take Yoga off the Mat!

One of my Yoga teacher’s mantra is: “What’s really important is that we take Yoga off the mat“.  At first I didn’t quite understand what she meant. But then, one day, I walked out of the Yoga studio onto the parking lot and one of my fellow Yoga practitioners almost drove into me. He was pulling out of his parking spot like a Formula One driver taking off from the pole position.

That’s when it clicked. Taking Yoga off the mat means that you practice Yoga and the principles every single day. That means that you should be more mindful, living in the moment, breathing, etc.

Take Sales Training Out of the Classroom

The same principles hold true when it comes to sales training. We need to take it out of the classroom. That’s why I am so passionate about our training model and process. Our Consultative Sales training program keeps the learners (= sales and service professionals) involved in the learning and real-life application process for 6 to 8 months. And I emphasize the importance of applying what they are learning.

It doesn’t matter how good sales training is, if it doesn’t impact with long lasting effects, it won’t make a discernible difference to a sales or service person’s performance.

But – and here comes the important part – the learner has to be willing to take the sales training out of the classroom. That means deliberately and strategically applying the principles of Consultative Selling every single day.

Persistence in Practicing Both Yoga & Sales

In Yoga, unless you practice on a regular basis you won’t see results. Calmness and being mindful is a result of regular practice and awareness. The same holds true for the sales environment. Practice, Application and Persistence are the best ingredients when it comes to achieving excellence. In sales it’s about performance, but we also need to be present and aware, otherwise we will not be good at listening to our prospects.

Sustainable change however will only happen if we take sales training out of the classroom to incorporate the lessons into our daily interactions. It’s important to learn about and improve on how to overcome objections, how to handle stalls, and to practice cold calling and prospecting techniques. More important however is application. Application is key to success.

 

Being a good student won’t necessarily result in revenue

I know many sales people who have read every single book that was ever written about sales. They follow thought leaders and diligently read and quote the newest articles. Some of them are top performers, but too many are just good “students”. And by that I mean, that they can theoretically talk about the concepts, but they can’t consistently and successfully apply them in real life.

We observe that in our sales training programs all the time. We ask participants to apply what they have learned. Their performance improvement is measured by their ability to transfer their knowledge to real live client interactions.

And the proof is in the pudding. The ultimate success shows in closed business. If sales training doesn’t result in long term, sustaining change, it’s not worth the investment.

Whether it’s practicing Yoga or doing Sales Training, we will only succeed when we are able to take our practices out of the learning environment and into our every day lives.

Namaste:)

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Every organization should have a sales philosophy and it should be supported by the CEO. In my experience, successful sales models only work if the CEO understands the process and embraces it.

Why? Because the gap between expectations and reality could be wide and keeping your company from growing. Let’s just assume that a company requires a consultative sales model because they are selling a technology enabled solution.  If the CEO doesn’t believe that a consultative model is essential to the growth of the company, the sales department will not be able to deliver results.

I have coached many executives in companies of that sort and found that while some of the sales people were not equipped to adhere to a consultative/complex model due to their personality, lack of commitment or simply because they couldn’t move away from a tactical approach, the expectations of the CEO and the pressure that came with it presented a huge disconnect.

The sales cycle in a consultative sales environment is usually longer and more complex. This fact needs to be discussed, reviewed and agreed upon by senior management and ultimately supported.

Here are some  areas that will determine the length of the sales cycle:

How well known is your company/brand?

If your company is well known and you are introducing a new service it will be easier to get results. If your company is not established in the market place, it will take longer to get traction.

What is the market penetration?

Products/services that are completely new in the marketplace need evangelizing, such as social media analysis 15 years ago. It was hard to make a case to measure the impact of social media, when social media itself was not a mainstream topic, yet.

How new is your service offering?

If your service offering is completely new and you are launching it, you will have to work harder to get people interested as opposed to selling an additional service to existing clients.

Do you know who the decision maker for the offering will be?

If you don’t know who your decision maker will be it will take longer to navigate through your prospect organization.

Do you have a Unique Positioning for your service?

If you don’t know exactly why your service is different (or in other words how you can help your clients make money, save money or increase their reputation internally) it will also add time to your sales cycle.

And then there are the other areas of uncertainty.

  • Are your sales people equipped to sell in a consultative environment?
  • Does your company have a healthy sales culture?
  • Are your sales people supported with training?
  • How long is the buying cycle of your prospects?

 

All of these areas need to be carefully reviewed and discussed, but not only by the sales team. If the CEO is involved in these discussions, you will not only have buy-in from the top, but also a profound understanding as to why things might take longer. No sensible CEO will breathe down your neck if you can make a case as to why this process is not yielding immediate results. Keep your CEO engaged and informed and he will support your efforts.

If you however keep your CEO in the dark and uninformed on how you established the process, he will rightfully be impatient.

When you are in a sales management position, invite your CEO to the last day of the sales meeting and present a clear and concise plan of action.

When you are a sales person, encourage your manager to provide metrics and results to your CEO.

As a CEO, ask to be invited to the sales meetings, add your two cents and then let your team work the magic. Don’t get involved on a daily basis unless you really feel that things don’t make sense, in that case you also might want to think about a management change.

 

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Posted in: CEOs, CEOs and Sales, CONSULTATIVE SALES, Consultative Selling, Sales

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Not all industries believe in best business practice sharing. The beer brewing industry is an exception and it helps an entire community to succeed. My younger son Sebastian was fascinated by beer from a very early age on and when he graduated it didn’t come as a surprise that he wanted to go to Berlin Germany, to become an International Beer-Brew Master. After graduating from the VLB Berlin he worked for the famous (at least in New England) brewery NEBCO, home of the renowned IPA, G-Bot.
Last week, he fulfilled his lifelong dream, opening up a brewery. Sebastian, his lifelong friend Sean O’Neill and Matt Weichner, a fellow former New England Beer Brewer opened the doors to Tribus in Milford, Connecticut.

TRIBUS BEER COMPANY   

But this is not about beer or beer -brewing; it’s about observations on this industry coming from a wine drinker.

Beer is not my first choice when it comes to an adult beverage, but I have become to appreciate it more (especially with food pairings) over the years. What I have really become to appreciate is how generous and sharing beer-brewers are in just about everything they do, whether it’s sharing ingredients, sharing best practices, or just simply sharing.

SHARING IS CARING

That’s a phrase we teach our children but we hardly every apply it in the business world. In the beer brewing world there is only healthy competition. Beer brewers get excited about good beer, whether they have brewed it, or not. They visit each other’s facilities, where they get best business practices tips and observe how things could be done differently. They are fascinated by each other’s achievements and they have a unique sense of comradery. When my son and another Beer Brew Master at NEBCO broke the news to the owner about their wish to open up their own brewery, the response from Rob was pride, support and encouragement.

A couple of years ago, when Sebastian went to Chicago by car, he packed the trunk with NEBCO beer and stopped at local breweries on the way from Connecticut to Chicago to do a beer swap. That’s what beer brewers do.

NO NEED FOR SECRECY

There is none of the secrecy that you see in other industries, none of the envy or jealousy that one sees in some verticals I can think of.

There might be many reasons why there is this sense of broader community. First off, the micro beer-brewing industry is rather young and most of the people involved are Millennials. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Beer-brewing is also tough, there is a lot of hard labor involved and maybe that’s why the people involved have a greater appreciation for the efforts.

There is also a lot of passion that I can see whenever you talk to a beer-brewer, or beer enthusiasts for that matter.

Related: Why We Need a Common Sales Language

WITH CONFIDENCE COMES TRANSPARENCY

But, then there is the confidence that comes from knowing that you have a good product. Beer brewers understand that people like different things and it really comes down to a matter of taste and preference. There are some people who love their IPA’s, while others swear that a Belgium style beer is the best. And there are those who are Bud Light fans (no judgment!)

I, myself have always been very open about my process to sales training, never felt that I had the silver bullet and I am certainly excited when other people do well. A sentiment that I don’t experience often when interacting with other people in my industry.

A client once told me “ There is nothing new about your process, but the way you execute is unique and that makes it powerful”. I wholeheartedly agreed.

Sales training is sales training and beer is beer. If you are confident that your product is good and that some people (not all) will like it, why not share?

Maybe, we should all be more like beer-brewers?!

Posted in: Brand Experience, Sucess

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Jason Weske

Jason Weske, Manager at Cradlepoint showcases some of the findings of a management workshop that we hosted.

Sales Training Best Practices Successful Managers Follow

In working with hundreds of successful Sales Managers, we have seen and documented their understanding of sales and sales training being a process, not an event and the most successful sales managers support their team members on that journey by providing on-going sales coaching.

Training Managers is a Process too!

There are the unfortunate times when some sales managers get excited about a sales training event – a talk, a one-day workshop or even a three-day event, hoping that it will be the magic bullet to help their sales people meet their goals. Those are the sales managers hoping that after the event everything will magically turn black on the balance sheet.

While training is truly essential and valuable to an organization’s growth, it will only be effective if the sales managers support the long-term learning process and if they themselves are trained accordingly.

Recent studies have shown that it is essential to train sales managers to ensure top performance of a sales team. When sales managers don’t embrace disciplines, how would they be able to coach and guide their teams?

Try This on for Size – Don’t Coach to Quota!

A widespread misconception about sales coaching is that managers should coach their team to meet quota. While the goal should be to reach (or in the best-case scenario exceed quota) the only way for that to sustainably occur is not to coach to a number, but to continually assess, re-assess, develop and expand best practices in sales team members’ sales skills, strategies and sales behaviors.

Honestly, think about it– the sales professionals you really want on your team know when they are behind their goals. They don’t need to be reminded all the time.

Here’s an example: if a salesperson is struggling to overcome difficult or unusual objections, she/he won’t be able to learn how to improve by hearing that they missed their quarterly goals. Become better at overcoming objections, recognizing buying signs, and we’re headed in the direction of hitting that golden number, right?

And speaking of quarter-end, which seems to be a “Reach-Your-Quota-Frenzy” in many companies: let’s see if we can change that. A radical idea, no?

Make deliberate and planned sales training and coaching on-going. Focus on skills development, positive sales behaviors, as well as on pipeline and account development to achieve overall improvement from the VERY FIRST DAY OF THE QUARTER!

There will be little need for intense sales rallies the last week of each quarter. And honestly, we see that a “Quarter-End- Frenzy” disturbs the overall sales process and the delivering of top-notch, meaningful engagement.

Some sales people become frantic and that leaves a bad impression with the prospects. Sales people can come across as desperate. Desperation is a bad sales agent.

Understand YOUR Strengths & Opportunities for Growth

Every sales person has unique strengths and opportunities for growth. The same holds true for managers.

Before we even start working with a client, we assess the skill sets of the sales team and their sales management. It’s hard to know what to focus on when there is no benchmark. It’s also impossible to gauge success without knowing where we started and where improvement is taking place.

To achieve our goal of understanding sales managers’ existing skills and knowledge, we invite our clients to complete the CSCC SALES MANAGEMENT & COACHING-IQTM Skills & Knowledge Assessment. If you want to find out your Sales Management IQ, follow the link below.

Sales Management IQ

This assessment is composed of wide range of scenario questions from over 20 years of on-going research and extensive competency and sales behavior modeling, having assessed key performance indicators and best practices of hundreds of top performing sales managers across a variety of industries.

Once a benchmark is established, it is easier to pinpoint gaps, identify strengths and areas of improvement and get insights into how to improve performance.

The overarching goal is to create a collaborative framework where sales people can succeed and sales managers provide the support necessary to achieve that success. This can only happen when sales managers understand the process, coach their team members individually, and as a group, and follow through with on-going guidance and strategic support.

In wrapping, to become a highly successful organization it is key to create a culture of on-going training and coaching for sales team members and for sales managers, front-line as well as higher level management. This will ensure that your organization will continue to evolve and grow, adapting to the changing needs of clients/prospects.

Once your company’s goals and vision become transparent and tangible for your team, and is not just a set of numbers, it’s much easier to have honest conversations on how sales managers can best coach their team members towards overall behavioral improvement, not solely toward a number even if that number is significant.

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Posted in: CONSULTATIVE SALES, Consultative Sales Certification, Consultative Selling, Sales, Sales Certification

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11 May

Selling Technology

by Monika

 

Cradlepoint Router

Traditionally, sales people (especially when they are selling technology or technology enabled solutions) are trained and conditioned to lead with features and benefits rather than focusing on the Value of their service offering to their prospect’s business.

The issue with this approach is not only that every other sales person on the planet, especially competitors, will say the same thing, BUT the bigger issue, as we have so often witnessed, is that “People don’t know what they don’t know”.

What exactly do I mean by that? Well, I am not a very tech savvy person, but I am a consumer, a buyer, a business person, so I am looking at sales people to act as consultants and to guide me.

What Experiences Have You Had Buying A New Car?

Right now, I am in the process of buying a new car and I am really lost, because I don’t know what I don’t know and car sales people certainly aren’t trained to focus on understanding what is of Value to me. They lead with features of their vehicles all the time, and occasionally add a few of the benefits. They tell me the car has good traction (a feature), or a model has navigation (also a feature) connected hands-free to my smartphone so I can keep my eyes on the road (a benefit). But what they fail to mention is, what Value those features and benefits would bring to my life.

If they would ask me questions, such as “How important is safety to you?”, then they could mention all the features and benefits that their car showcases and wrap it into a safety message. Being able to navigate without having to use a phone would mean I can focus on driving a car rather than handling my phone (a benefit of the navigation system), wouldn’t it?  And that would mean driving safer (Value)!

This is the area where most sales people fail. They don’t understand that people don’t buy their products or services’ features, but people are looking at solutions that can improve their life or business.

What is a Failover? – And How Could I Possibly Need it?

One of our clients in the technology industry sells failover solutions. They are the leader in their industry and their solutions ensure that companies are connected to the internet at all times. BUT, what does that mean to the clients?

If a salesperson would call on me and ask “Are you interested in our failover solutions?” I wouldn’t even know what they are referring to. While I am one of those people who might ask what a failover solution actually is, (that is, if that call is not the tenth useless sales call I had received that day) there are many people out there who wouldn’t (perhaps they don’t want to admit that they don’t know something or simply have no clue) and just say “I’m not interested, thanks”.

And, here we go again. We don’t know what we don’t know!

The Alternative – Show Me The VALUE!!

If the salesperson however were to ask me if I ever experienced internet outages (who hasn’t?) and how that affected my business, that would certainly lead to a very interesting conversation. First of all, I would mention the many times when that has happened and how disruptive it has been to my business.

This would not only create awareness of an issue that I hadn’t entertained since the last time it happened, it would also shine light on the fact that I might have potentially lost money during those outages. In essence, I didn’t know that I needed a “failover” solution, because I don’t know what I don’t know.

Here is what’s important to understand when selling solutions. Features and benefits just support the Value that your solution brings to the market. Your sales people first need to learn to lead with Value and ask the right kind of pertinent questions in order to create the awareness in the mind of the buyer how a particular offering is relevant to and of VALUE to their business.

If you as a sales person fail to do that, you will not be able to sell as successfully as you potentially could. If companies don’t help their sales people embrace a Consultative approach to Sales, Business Development and Service, plus support them with training and insights of successful and experienced professionals, the competition will at some point have a leg up on them. Your product or service that “sells itself” will not be able to do that for all time. Eventually competitors will appear with something similar, perhaps less expensive and possibly offer about the same features. What differentiates yours from the competition, then?

That’s just the way it is. In the end, people don’t buy features and benefits but they do buy what your product or service means to their bottom line, their business effectiveness or their business’ reputation.

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Posted in: CONSULTATIVE SALES, Consultative Selling, Sales Effectiveness, Uncategorized

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When you ask a sales person, their sales manager, or the CEO of an organization how long their sales cycle is, you usually get mixed responses. In some cases, you get blank stares, in other scenarios there is disagreement on the length of the actual cycle.

CEOs in general would like to see sales moving along at a healthy clip, while sales people and managers often underestimate the time it really takes to close a sale.

You can only change what you know

Everybody wants to shorten their sales cycle, but in order to do that you need to first understand the length and the drivers. What do I mean by that?

There are reasons why some sales cycles are longer than others. Some of the areas are out of your control, others can be influenced.

For example, if you target larger organizations with various decision-makers and influencers, your sales cycle will automatically be longer. Sales cycles may be shorter when targeting smaller organizations, but you need to be aware of the payoffs and the trade-offs.

In other words, do those small organizations have budgets available? Are they even a good fit for your offering?

How can you control the sales cycle?

One way to control the length of your sales cycle is to be sure that sales team members have all received targeted training. First, sales professionals should know what to look for in their ideal client profile, what industries to target, what messaging works or doesn’t, etc. Then, they need to be trained to ask the right questions to not only uncover needs and goals of their prospects, but just as importantly, what to ask to move the sale along.

Following are some questions to ask yourself to focus on drivers which can influence your sales cycle.

1) How well known is your company/brand?

If your company is well known and you are only introducing a new service or product, it will be easier to get results. However, if your company is not established in the market place, it will take longer to get traction.

2) Do you know who the decision maker for the offering will be?

If you don’t know who your decision-maker(s) will be, it will take longer to navigate through your prospect organization. Identifying the “influencers” within an organization is key to being successful. Too many sales people have lengthy conversations with people who are not in a position to buy or even influence the final decision-maker(s). So, asking the right questions upfront, making sure that you are talking to the right people, and establishing rapport with the real influencers will help you shorten the cycle.

3) Do you have a Unique Positioning for your service?

If you don’t know how to differentiate your service from others in the marketplace, it will also add time to your sales cycle. It is therefore of high importance to have a Unique Selling Proposition and to craft messaging that will get people’s attention.

4) Are you adding Value?

Too many sales people focus on the features and benefits of their offering, rather than leading with value. It is important for a prospect to understand how your service/product offering will be of value to them (and remember, it’s different depending on the role of the person).

5) What is the buying cycle of your prospects?

One area that is out of your control is the buying cycle and budget cycle of your prospects. Identify and understand their budget cycle and then manage your outreach accordingly.

6) Are your sales people equipped to sell in a consultative environment?

If they are not, they will not ask the right questions, get stuck with the wrong decision maker and that will have a strong impact on your sales cycle. We have a Sales IQ assessment that helps management determine whether sales people are up to par, or not.

Here are some ideas for Sales Professionals & Sales Managers

All of these areas need to be carefully reviewed and discussed, but not only by sales professionals themselves. If your CEO is involved in these discussions, you will not only have buy-in from the top, but also a profound understanding as to why things might take longer. No sensible CEO will breathe down your neck if you can make a case as to why this process is not yielding immediate results. Keep your CEO engaged and informed and she/he will support your efforts.

If, however, you keep your CEO in the dark and un-informed on how you’ve established the process, she/he will rightfully be impatient.

When you are in a sales management position, invite your CEO to the last part or day of a sales meeting and present a clear and concise plan of action.

When you are a sales person, encourage your manager to provide metrics and results to your CEO.

Recommendations for CEOs

If you are a CEO, ask to be invited to the sales meetings, add your insights and then let your team work their “magic”. Resist the temptation to get involved on a daily basis

You’ll be happier and your team will be more successful for it!

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Posted in: CEOs, CEOs and Sales, CONSULTATIVE SALES, Sales, Sales IQ

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16 Jan

Nothing Sells Itself

by Monika

Nothing sells itself

Start-up companies are often struggling to find investors and backers for their technology and the trend (according to an article in The Washington Post) is that money will flow easier to more established start-ups. D.C.-area technology investment soared in 2017, but early-stage firms still struggle

Below is a quote from the article:

Jim Hunt, a technology investor who teaches an investment course at Georgetown University’s business school, said investors are flocking to more mature start-ups because doing due diligence on a lot of smaller companies can be overly time-consuming.

This development doesn’t surprise me at all because technology companies tend to focus on the fact that their technology can do certain things, often without regard who their target market is and how their solution could be of value to their audiences. They focus on the technology aspect as oppose to the Go-To-Market strategy.

This void is not unique to start-up technology firms, many very established organizations also believe that stellar technology sells itself… and the simple truth is, it doesn’t! And Start-Ups need sales to attract investors!

Nothing sells itself, really. In fact, even if a solution were the pinnacle of its kind, affordable, etc – a “terrible” salesperson could ruin the sale! (I once blogged about my own experience with that!). People don’t know what they don’t know.

People Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

So, if your target audience is not tech savvy, they will fail to understand the technology aspect of the solution. And the tech savvy might not understand the deeper value for their organization’s decision-making executives.

For example, if a technology is developed to manage workflow you will need to identify who within an organization will benefit from your solution. If it happens to be the operations department, you will need to find language that will resonate with them. By definition, an operations department is responsible for running your business successfully. … While the operations department is responsible for the bottom line, it also oversees the other departments in your organization, as well as the development of your employees and customers.

Looking at the above definition, you will need to position your technology so the Head of Operations understands that the solution will help them save money by streamlining the process for their employees, ultimately adding to the bottom line.

This is the only way that your technology offering will resonate with that particular audience. It’s not about your dashboard, the buttons that you can use to integrate, etc.

It’s never about the bells and whistles for the final decision-makers. In the real world of company owners or public-sector managers, it’s only about the value that your particular solution will bring to a particular audience. That’s the only way to grow your startup-technology business to become mature. And once you are more mature, you will attract investors.

How To Stay in Control of the Sale

It’s as simple as that – Nothing sells itself.

Posted in: Sales

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Courtesy

Recently, I have been following a LinkedIn discussion where the following question was posed? When calling on people, should you ask a prospect whether it’s a good time to speak? Simple business courtesy, right?

Living in a consultative sales world, and teaching the principles of a consultative sales process, to me the answer was simple. Yes. Being considerate is one of the core principles of consultative selling and it should be the core principle when doing business.

Courtesy Rules
In my opinion, courtesy should never be ignored just to get to results. As a matter of fact, I would argue that the results could be short lived if you just want to get your point across at all costs.

Is Sales the Exception?
So, why is it that many sales people are encouraged by management to dive into a pitch? It is this very practice that gives this profession a bad name? We would never even think of storming into somebody’s office, putting down our laptop and diving into a conversation. Why do we think it’s ok to do it over the phone?

First impressions count

In my many years of calling on C-Level executives, I have come to believe that when you interrupt somebody’s work day, you should always be courteous and professional. Asking your prospect if it’s a good time to speak and giving the person an option will not only leave a good impression, it will lead to a good conversation. If sales people just start off with a generic pitch – and “fast-talking” – they most likely won’t get the attention of the person they are actually trying to connect with. I know for myself that when people call me and start reeling off their pitch, I’m mainly annoyed. For the most part I don’t even listen to what they are saying. My goal is to get them off the phone.

Engaging with confidence will open doors and ears
One of the LinkedIn discussion participants even said that he is teaching his people to never ask that question because they then can’t get their point across and it only invites a “No, I don’t have time”. That statement leads me to believe this person has no confidence in the people she/he hires to present themselves confidently on the phone.
Of course it depends on the situation and maybe your introduction could start with a simple way of saying, “Hi, I won’t take much of your time. Would you mind listening to my short business introduction if this is a good time for you?” Wording, timing and applying common sense is essential, in life as well as in business. Teaching your salespeople to basically be rude certainly isn’t a recipe for success.

Develop a call strategy
Too many sales people dial for dollars, without doing research or preparing for each call. When you actually have something to share with a prospect, leading with value and you are well prepared the chances that the person will listen to what you want to say are much higher. One of the reasons why some sales people come across as rude is that they are not in a position to have a meaningful conversation. They don’t know the prospect’s business, nor have they done research on the role of the person they are calling on. They are just pitching their service.

It’s about building trust

If you do your research and you know something about the company and the person that you are calling on, you will always be in a better position to open a dialogue. It’s all about building a relationship where people can trust you. Why would I trust somebody who randomly calls me to sell me something I might not need?

Also, if you introduce yourself via email and then call to follow up, your “cold call” won’t come across as completely out of the blue. BUT, you will have to prepare and do your research prior sending to the email, so there is no shortcuts.

In closing, there are many ways to prospect effectively. I prospect every day with huge success and ignoring courtesy is definitely not part of my recipe.

Posted in: CONSULTATIVE SALES

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