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Are you selling Value or “Stuff”?

Posted on: January 16th, 2014 by Monika 1 Comment

Happy 2014! Let’s make it count. I hope that you had a relaxing holiday season and you’re off to a great start.

Last December we had a prospect meeting and the discussion was about shifting from a commodity sale to becoming more value oriented. It’s a really important shift in today’s business environment where the consumers/customers are more informed than ever and almost everything can be researched online.

Are you selling “Stuff” or Value?

How to Shift from Commodity Sales to Value Selling

Many of our clients face the challenge of being in a market where their product or service is considered a commodity. The challenge there is that it is usually a price driven discussion and sales people are trained to commoditize their sales approach rather than selling value.

Focus on Value Rather than Features

When a company offers a product that is viewed as a commodity, very often sales people feel they need to focus on the features of their service or product only to find out that their prices are undercut by the competition. Somebody, somewhere can always do something similar cheaper. But think about yourself:  Most people generally don’t buy features. They buy what they feel gives them the most value for a specific solution. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Is It the Way Coffee Tastes, or the Way You Feel When You Drink It?

I would consider coffee a commodity. And of course it is when you buy coffee bean futures, but I am talking about buying a cup of coffee and enjoying it. Starbucks, before they broke into the American market figured out that Europeans enjoy their coffee experience. It wasn’t only about the quality of the coffee (although also very important), but everything around it. The smell, when you walk into a Cafe, the way your waiter/barista remembers how you like it, the fact that you can sit and enjoy while you are sipping it.

All of a sudden, America went from percolators (so 1950’s!) to signature drinks where it sometimes takes as long to order a coffee (tall, skinny, dry Hazelnut Cappuccino?!) than a meal in a restaurant. What happened? Starbucks changed the way Americans look at drinking coffee. It’s no longer about a brown drink, it’s about relaxing, gathering, enjoying- the VALUE of the entire experience.

This approach can be used for every sales process, even when the process has traditionally been viewed as a commodity sale. And your customers will change the way they think about your product/service.

It’s Not About the Features of Your Product, but the Value

One of our clients sells very high-performance tooling equipment. Their products are more expensive than those offered by the competition but the quality of their tools is unmatched. We’re helping their sales people focus on the peace of mind they are selling, the long-term savings in labor and replacement costs, as well as higher production rather than the product features. Their sales people now focus on the value rather than the product features. Quality products don’t break as often, they are reliable and long lasting. When you buy and use them, you don’t have to think about getting a new one for a really long time, sometimes for a lifetime.

If your sales people focus on that peace of mind, on long-term savings, talk about the quality and the reliability, then discussions on price will become secondary. Once you lead with features, your prospects will start comparing and then price is the top of mind discussion.

Freight is Freight, or Is It?

One could argue that freight is freight and market research is market research. Yes, of course it is, but once you launch this tactical approach, talking about the speed of your freight delivery or the accuracy of your market research results, what do you think will happen? People will start comparing your offering with that of the competition and they will start price shopping.

If your sales people however focus on the fact that your freight will be in good hands, that once you hand off a project, you don’t have to think about it anymore and all the details will be taken care of, then you are selling peace of mind. The same holds true in the market research/agency world. People are not looking for numbers, as they assume that they are accurate. They are looking for ways to use those numbers to understand their customers better, or to grow their market share.

It’s About a Mindset Shift

I, for example don’t sell consultative sales training, I sell the way our participants feel about business development. Our graduates look at business development in a completely different way. They learn the skills and concepts to genuinely understand their customer’s needs, gaining more confidence which in turn results in more profitable accounts. We provide our clients with a training program that keeps their employees accountable. They no longer feel that they are sales people trying to get business, but they know that they are consultants who help their prospects be more successful. They add value and when adding value sales professionals are more comfortable asking for business.

Be Proud of Your Price Tag

There is nothing wrong with being more expensive, as long as you have sales people who understand the real value that their customers and prospects are looking for and can communicate it. Own your price tag. As a matter of fact, when I sold services that were more expensive than the competition, I would proudly say. “Yes, we are more expensive, and here is why”.

And once again, I wish everyone a great 2014 and GOOD SELLING!

5 Steps to Keep Control of the Sale

Posted on: July 9th, 2013 by Monika 1 Comment

Buying or leasing a car is an emotional decision. At least for me it is and listening to most of my friends it feels like it’s similar for them. Yes, you are buying a product but you are also making a decision as part of an experience. Not only the driving experience, but the way you feel in the car, the way people perceive you in that car, how practical it is and the list goes on.

So, when I walked into a Toyota dealership the other week looking at some models that could compare to the VW Jetta that I was currently driving, I was almost “sold” on the idea that the RAV4 could make sense to me. I was over on my mileage allowance with my Jetta and the new model doesn’t come with a built-in navigation system. My husband had gone to the dealership the day before to see if we could get a good deal trading in our Jetta and I felt that it was a good idea to make that move. Everything made sense and I was prepared to give up my European car, which is a “biggie” to me, to save some money and to get my navigation system that I so desperately need to not end up lost in a dark alley somewhere.

So, what happened that I didn’t buy the Toyota, but instead, decided to go with another Jetta? It was mainly the whole sales & customer service experience. You could say I just simply didn’t feel the love. But there are five important steps in the consultative sales process that were missing in this situation (not necessarily in this order).

1) Understand & Acknowledge Who the Buyer Is (and Understand Who the Influencers Are)

The sales person never looked at me, only addressed my husband although we had told her on numerous occasions that it was my car, and I was the buyer. Even when buying a car there are influencers (my dog, for example, and I took him along to make sure the car wasn’t too high for him – don’t judge me – LOL!). In this case, I was the Economic Buyer. It was my car therefore I was the final decision-maker.

2) Listen to Your Customer’s Needs

When I test drove the car the sales person pointed out how great the model was and that it’s literally flying out of the showroom, because it’s so extraordinarily popular and in such high demand. She never asked me if I liked the way it drove (I didn’t). In fact, she never even asked me one question – assuming that this “great” model would sell itself.

3) Manage Expectations

Under-Promise and Over-Deliver – a good motto to have.  It turned out that their initial calculations were off. The trade-in turned out to be far less attractive financially the day we showed up at the dealership than they had calculated the day before. A big negative for me as I was truly looking to find an economically sensible solution.

4) Stay in Control of the Sale

And most importantly, she let me leave the dealership to go home and think about it. Once I went home and reflected on the experience, I really started missing my Jetta (although it was still sitting in my garage). I couldn’t bear the thought of giving it up. Quite unexpectedly, it didn’t bother me anymore that there was no factory-installed GPS system.  I also realized that I could use my large screen Smartphone instead. And finally, I didn’t feel valued during the entire process and it reflected on how I felt about the car. The more I thought about it, the less I liked the whole idea of switching.

5) Create Value

Had the sales person addressed me (instead of my husband) and asked me questions about my needs, focusing on the fact that the Toyota offered navigation, a feature I couldn’t get with the new Jetta, and had the numbers not changed to my disadvantage, maybe I would have signed right then and there. I would have felt understood and valued. But she didn’t do any if the above. She didn’t seem to care about my needs. She only focused on other features of the car that didn’t speak to my needs and once I walked out of the dealership the sale was lost.

We have a segment in our Consultative Sales Certified Training Program that showcases an example similar to what occurred, but it wasn’t until I experienced it myself that I realized that even cars don’t sell themselves.

Consultative Selling Puts the Buyer in the Driver’s Seat

A comprehensive consultative sales approach truly helps sales people guide the customer/client through the sale to their final purchasing decision. Consultative sales people don’t push features – they identify needs and create a solution that is of value to that particular prospect/client. Buyers working with committed consultative sales professionals will never feel “sold to”. They know they’ll have made a decision that works for them. And surprisingly enough, consultative selling isn’t only necessary when you sell a service, but obviously also when you sell a product.

Our Latest Super-Seller Graduates!!

Posted on: February 14th, 2013 by Monika No Comments

Today, on Valentine’s day we wanted to share a special present that we received from one of our participants. A wonderful testimonial from one of our recent CSC Graduates:

Tom, Monika, Marcia, … I want to thank you all for the great sales training program!! I learned so much about how to recognize the behavioral styles of my clients and prospects. This has helped me better adjust my approach throughout the sales process. During the course of our training program, I improved my sales and business development consistently. By the year’s end I was awarded “Most Improved Sales Performance” for 2012!

I want to thank Mach 1 Global for implementing the CSC program for sales and now our operations personnel to help them understand the process. And thank you CSC team for helping me improve and grow in sales! – Marianne W., VP Global Accounts,MACH 1 GLOBAL

So we thought that we give you a present today, sharing our success story that will provide insight on how one of our clients increased business revenues to pre-recession levels by implementing our CSC training program.

Cutting-edge Sales Training – A First Step to Top Performers

One of our clients decided to embark on a mission to provide a cutting-edge sales training program to a select group of their sales team who all work remotely from headquarters. This specialized logistics and transportation solutions provider wanted their sales and account management staff to become top performers, too.

Let’s face it, even successful sales and service professionals have some areas to improve. Yet top performers consistently outperform their average counterparts by large margins.

Know Your Clients and You’ll What They Need

In utilizing CSA’s Certified Training Program with a pilot group, our client quickly established that the training program was making a dynamic change in the way their business development professionals were planning and executing their business efforts. Revenues increased, for some in the pilot group by 40% and 50% within a few months. Additionally the members of the pilot group were motivated to go the extra mile for their clients as they acquired new, deeper skills and knowledge in understanding who their clients were, were able to more efficiently and more quickly to develop new business as well as expand business with existing clients. This mindset change began to spread to their operations management.

Everybody In – Let’s Congratulate the Graduates!

And today, seven months after the kick-off of their program, we can proudly congratulate the first group graduates from our Arizona client’s organization. The program is ongoing for three more groups, each with customized goals and training calendars. Their success of the pilot group is testament to their perseverance and hard work applying the core consultative sales and service concepts to their jobs on a daily basis. These seven certified top-performers can now proudly carry and use the nationally accredited and recognized CSC emblem as Consultative Sales Certified Professionals. And they have a few tips for you below their graduation photo!

 Stand up and take a bow!

 

Consultative Sales Certified Professionals – Accredited Super Sellers
These seven certified top-performers can now proudly carry and use the nationally accredited and recognized CSC emblem as Consultative Sales Certified Professionals.
From left to right: Tom D’Agostino, Chief Trainer at CSA, Kirk Stauff, Marianne Wilson – Most Improved Employee of 2012-, Yvette Cheesebrew, Ray Torres, Bob Heine, Vinnie Balsamo and Herb Reich.

A few things our Graduates would like to share with all our readers:

5 Tips from Our Super-Seller Grad

  • Know Your Market! Prioritize your sales efforts according to potential for sales, not based on current sales.
  • Know Your Customers! Adjust your approach to each of your contacts based on their behavioral styles and role.
  • Ask Questions that help you understand each contact’s vision and pain points.
  • Stress Value based on business impact and the personal win for each individual customer.
  • Position solutions that help the customer save time, make more money, operate more efficiently or give them peace of mind. Anything else doesn’t matter!

Here’s what the CEO is saying about our CSC Program

“Consultative Sales Academy’s Custom Training program has significantly helped our team improve their performance. We’re finally back to pre-recession sales results and momentum. Because of the success and positive feedback from both seasoned professionals as well as new sales team members, we are implementing this program company-wide for sales team members, sales managers and operational managers. Our team is geographically dispersed, which makes CSA’s blended approach of e-learning, web training and coaching very desirable. We especially appreciate the flexibility of the program and the personal attention that CSA’s coaches provide to each individual participant. This program is a long-term commitment that is definitely worth the time and investment if your goals are to truly impact sales performance and results. I highly recommend this program.” – Jamie Fletcher, CEO, MACH 1 GLOBAL

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

One of our clients decided to embark on a mission to provide a cutting-edge sales training program to a select group of their sales team who all work remotely from headquarters. This specialized logistics and transportation solutions provider wanted their sales and account management staff to become top performers, too.

 

Let’s face it, even successful sales and service professionals have some areas to improve. Yet top performers consistently outperform their average counterparts by large margins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know Your Clients and You’ll What They Need

 

 

 

 

In utilizing CSA’s Certified Training Program with a pilot group, our client quickly established that the training program was making a dynamic change in the way their business development professionals were planning and executing their business efforts. Revenues increased, for some in the pilot group by 40% and 50% within a few months. Additionally the members of the pilot group were motivated to go the extra mile for their clients as they acquired new, deeper skills and knowledge in understanding who their clients were, were able to more efficiently and more quickly to develop new business as well as expand business with existing clients. This mindset change began to spread to their operationsmanagement.

 

 

 

 

Everybody In – Let’s Congratulate the Graduates!

 

 

 

 

And today, seven months after the kick-off of their program, we can proudly congratulate the first group graduates from our Arizona client’s organization. The program is ongoing for three more groups, each with customized goals and training calendars. Their success of the pilot group is testament to their perseverance and hard work applying the core consultative sales and service concepts to their jobs on a daily basis. These seven certified top-performers can now proudly carry and use the nationally accredited and recognized CSC emblem as Consultative Sales Certified Professionals. And they have a few tips for you below their graduation photo!

 

Stand up and take a bow!

Consultative Sales Certified Professionals – Accredited Super Sellers
These seven certified top-performers can now proudly carry and use the nationally accredited and recognized CSC emblem as Consultative Sales Certified Professionals.
From left to right: Tom D’Agostino, Chief Trainer at CSA, Kirk Stauff, Marianne Wilson – Most Improved Employee of 2012-, Yvette Cheesebrew, Ray Torres, Bob Heine, Vinnie Balsamo and Herb Reich.
A few things our Graduates would like to share with all our readers:

5 Tips from Our Super-Seller Grad

  • Know Your Market! Prioritize your sales efforts according to potential for sales, not based on current sales.
  • Know Your Customers! Adjust your approach to each of your contacts based on their behavioral styles and role.
  • Ask Questions that help you understand each contact’s vision and pain points.
  • Stress Value based on business impact and the personal win for each individual customer.
  • Position solutions that help the customer save time, make more money, operate more efficiently or give them peace of mind. Anything else doesn’t matter!

Here’s what the CEO is saying about our CSC Program

 

 

“Consultative Sales Academy’s Custom Training program has significantly helped our team improve their performance. We’re finally back to pre-recession sales results and momentum. Because of the success and positive feedback from both seasoned professionals as well as new sales team members, we are implementing this program company-wide for sales team members, sales managers and operational managers. Our team is geographically dispersed, which makes CSA’s blended approach of e-learning, web training and coaching very desirable. We especially appreciate the flexibility of the program and the personal attention that CSA’s coaches provide to each individual participant. This program is a long-term commitment that is definitely worth the time and investment if your goals are to truly impact sales performance and results. I highly recommend this program.” – Jamie Fletcher, CEO, MACH 1 GLOBAL

Are Sales People Afraid?

Posted on: September 20th, 2012 by Monika 1 Comment

I know, it sounds a bit silly. Afraid of what?  In my experience, many sales people are afraid of rejection. Actually, most people are afraid of rejection just that in sales it’s a daily issue.

Why is fear so present in sales?

Because in my opinion there is no other business practice where you have to bring yourself in as much as in sales. Whether it’s selling a product or a service, sales is emotional and personal. We professionals in sales are measured by how well we perform. That means our livelihood is in the balance every day, during every call and client interaction.

So where does this fear originate?

The fear stems from being afraid of rejection. Nobody wants to be rejected, but in sales it’s part of our daily reality. It starts with the cold calling/prospecting efforts that most sales people are terrified of. It could be a mindset issue that is keeping you from breaking through to others. Being afraid of success is something fairly common in the business world (or on a personal level). But in a sales environment it’s a lot more transparent and easier to detect. The effects are also a lot more drastic, because so many sales people depend on earning commission.

Fear-less Cold-calling/Prospecting? Is there such a thing?

There is various ways to deal with the fear of cold-calling.

You can hire an inside sales person or a lead generation team to take the cold calling off your sales people.

Or, you can help your sales people overcome the reluctance of cold calling by supporting the prospecting process with the right kind of research and/or providing meaningful training.

But the fear usually doesn’t stop after that. Sales people need to bring themselves in at every step of the sales process.  And if we don’t put numbers on the books it puts enormous pressure on us.

Afraid to Ask for a Sale?

Not everybody is equipped to ask for money and that’s essentially what we need to do in a sales environment. We are asking people to trust us to part with their or their company’s funds. If our prospects end up buying from us and the product/service doesn’t meet their needs, we will be held accountable for that decision. All of those areas are deeply emotional and directly connected to mindset. A good salesperson can be trained on how and when to ask for a sale that is not fear-inducing! Overcoming objections and handling stalls is also an area that can be trained. Actually, objections and stalls very often present an opportunity when handled properly.

Is Fear Rational Behavior?

To the most part, no. Take the fear of public speaking – it is so intense that some people freeze up although there is no imminent danger lurking. In the world of sales, fear is often irrational. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. While not always rational, fear can certainly keep us from being successful. especially in sales.

Help Can Be Right There In Your Team!

The most effective way to help sales people be more comfortable in a sales environment is to help them feel more confident. Confidence often stems from having been successful, so when companies establish an environment where sales people are nurtured and supported rather than pushed and reprimanded, success flows more freely.

Also, understand what your sales people are good at and where the weaknesses (or as we prefer to say: the opportunities to improve) lie. If you have a strong cold caller on your team, tap into that talent (trust me, it’s rare) and share commission when revenue is closed.

When you have a strong “closer” on your team, bring him/her into final meetings to lend support. Very often we ask too much of sales people and the feeling over being overwhelmed results in panic, desperation and in the worst case scenario unprofessional behavior.

Identify your team’s strengths

So, in the end, always try to analyze why your sales people are not producing. Develop their strengths, and nurture their areas of opportunities through training and support. The investment you make can pay off manifold if you choose training that actually effects real behavioral change!

And finally, just maybe, some sales people might not really be equipped to be in sales. You might detect that in the way they position your company offering, or in their attitude and/or work habits. You will definitely find out if revenue is lacking. Whatever changes you decide to make to increase your sales revenues, make sure you know your sales staff well.

They are your first and foremost representation. We should all shine as sales people, and we should be supported to do just that. And that will result in a lot more “fearless” salespeople!

Setting your Benchmarks for Hiring Sales People

Posted on: September 6th, 2012 by Monika 1 Comment

Having been in the field of sales and sales training for so many years, I know the recruiting process can be complicated, lengthy and full of pitfalls. Do you go with your gut feeling? Do you trust all the references? Do you hire somebody who is charismatic, or somebody who knows the industry? What can and should you measure objectively to help ensure that you’re making the right choice?

First Impressions

Many companies feel that sales people should be aggressive and gregarious. In a consultative sales environment that can actually be an obstacle rather than an asset. Hiring a good sales person is as difficult if not harder than hiring a good account manager. The challenge is to make sure that no matter what, your sales people will conduct themselves in a professional way. After all, they are usually the first introduction to your brand or company.

I can’t tell you how many times I have encountered unprofessional behavior from sales people who were calling on me as a business owner. Bad first impressions can ruin your  perception of a brand and the likelihood of you choosing that brand and working with that company will be lower. It’s a fine line between persuasion and intrusion. Good sales people need to find that balance every single day, every single time they pick up the phone and every time they interact with a prospect.

Sometimes, the desire to sell is so high that courtesy goes out the window. Often, sales people want to impress with product knowledge rather than understanding the prospect’s needs. Very often this is caused by pressure to meet numbers rather than building long-term relationships

Finding a Fit

So, how do you choose a sales person who will fit in with your organization’s culture? Let’s say you think you’ve found the right candidate. You’ve interviewed that person, so have others in your organization. You’ve done reference checking, and everybody is more or less in agreement that you have a good match. Now, what can you and what should you do to objectively establish how good a fit they really are. The good news is there are a number of widely tested tools that can provide you with the kind of support you can readily use, without taking large chunks out of your day and your budget!

You can utilize tests such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, but also have a look into the Kolbe A Index, which you can administer to your entire team and then your candidate(s) to determine how well they fit and can work together with the other members of your team. You’ll find the results can be real eye-openers!

What Strengths Are Most Important?

Once you’ve found the right personality and work-type match, let’s make sure everyone’s working in the same direction. In our B2B environment today, standing out and becoming your clients’ provider of choice demands a comprehensive, solution-oriented or consultative sales approach, built around your own client-centric philosophy.

You’ll want to examine your own sales process. Will your sales person need to do their own prospecting? Will they have to work with other team members to push a sale through the funnel? Being a door opener and/or a team player at the same time could present a challenge. Sales people always have at least one area of weakness and depending on your organizational DNA that will determine your hiring criteria. For example, if you have an inside sales team available, you can hire outside sales people who are strong relationship builders and closers.

As far as one area of sales competency is concerned, you need to make sure that your candidate is a good listener. That is something you can easily assess during the interviewing process. Pay attention to how many questions your candidates ask vs. the candidates tooting their own horn. You should also make sure that your candidate is a good writer because written communication is key to making connections today in the evolving use of social media and email communication. Here’s another important step in the interviewing process. Before hiring sales people engage the candidates in phone conversations. In today’s B2B environment almost all prospecting is done over the phone.  Sometimes people come across strong in-person, but their phone presence is weak.

Assessing Sales Skills & Knowledge

We’re getting closer now. Your candidate has good oral and written skills, has a good phone presence. But what about all the other areas of sales skills and knowledge that are essential to being a top sales person? We have worked with our research partners for many years to establish eight areas of sales competencies that have proven to be the foundation for the success of top sales professionals in a wide range of industries. So, how do you find out if your candidate possesses these competencies, and in which areas is there a need for improvement? Within our Consultative Sales Certification Training Program we have an integral element which is our initial Sales Skills & Knowledge Assessment. We have all participants to work through this assessment before we conduct any training. This comprehensive assessment gives you a very detailed and measurable view of a sales person’s skills and knowledge in the arena of solution-oriented or consultative selling. It also helps you understand if their strengths or opportunities to grow are in prospecting, overcoming objections, closing the sale, etc.

This assessment helps our clients hire the right people and after a successful completion of our sales training efforts we can test their consultative selling skills and knowledge again to gauge their improvement. We have found that even the best sales people have areas of improvement and the only way to measure is working off a set of well-established benchmarks.

Bottom line is that you can’t hire the right person if you don’t know what you are looking for and you can’t measure success if you don’t have a benchmark.