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We don’t have time for … (sales training)

Posted on: February 12th, 2014 by Monika No Comments

http://www.thewoodshop.20m.com/graphics/clockface2.jpgThe phrase “We don’t have time for …” is very often used to stall and/or avoid responsibility or just as an excuse to do nothing. There really is never a lack of time. Rather, it’s really a matter of setting priorities. If you feel that you don’t have time to do something important, I invite to re-consider.

Are you trying to avoid doing something, or do you feel that the task is not important enough to make it on top of your priority list? This is a really important exercise. In business and in life.

Everyone I know suffers from time deficiency. Our busy schedules, cluttered with appointments and obligations and getting inundated with information through voice mails, emails, social media alerts, Twitter feeds, Instagram, you name it – we’re in overload!

Today, for example I decided to clean out my Inbox and unsubscribe from many mailings. Not because the information was useless, but it wasn’t of value to me personally and professionally any longer. Freeing up my time and clearing my schedule gives me an opportunity to add things that matter to me personally or to my professional education.

But, let’s get back to the phrase of “We don’t have time for sales training” – this is something we occasionally hear from our prospects when we discuss our Strategic Consultative Sales Certification Training Program.

Business Development Is A Priority, Is It Not?

I am a deep believer that Business Development should be a top priority for every single organization. Without it, your company won’t grow. But even more importantly for me, is that it should be mindful business development – not just making numbers. Your company should have a growth plan and a goal to gain more profitable customers. I’ve experienced more companies than I’d like to just adding numbers to their revenue stream without looking hard at profitability.

No Sales Training = Status Quo, or does it?

Our clients are always amazed at how even their top producing business development people develop new and updated insights and get great value from our Training Programs. There is always room for improvement and if we don’t learn, we stagnate, or even worse we regress. Sales is process and it’s hard. We are in the trenches every single day trying to achieve our sales goals. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern without looking up and looking around for new techniques and refining one’s skills. Decidedly, an on-going sales training program gives you an opportunity to regroup, to challenge your thinking, adjust your behavior and develop new skills.

Why is it Always the Top Performing Companies Who Get It?

Interestingly enough, most of our clients are the ones who are already successful. They don’t really have a problem with business development, but they do want to do better. They continuously seek out solutions that can help them to be more strategic and to grow revenue in a more effective way. They also know that by helping their business development staff be more effective, it will lead to a win-win situation. Their people will earn more and it will lead to more revenue and higher profit margins.

Still No Time for Training? Think Again.

What people don’t realize is that not doing anything doesn’t necessarily mean that everything stays the same. It means that you are not progressing but your competition might very well be. While your sales people are doing things the way they were done 5, 10, sometimes 15 years ago, the competition is learning to plan strategically, to overcome objections with real value solutions and to close business with clients who fit in with their strategic objectives. Sales and business development has changed in many ways in the last 5 years due to all the social media channels. If your sales people are not kept fresh and up to speed, they will be left behind. Nobody would think that using fax machines to get new business is a State of the Art practice, would they?

What is Your Business Growth Worth to You?

My health and sanity is worth 6 hours a month to me. That’s the time that I take away from my busy schedule to practice Yoga. It keeps me grounded and it keeps me sane.

My business growth is worth 20 hours a week, that’s the amount of time I spend on prospecting, writing articles such as this one and learning about new best practices.

Our clients have their sales and account management people spend 4-5 hours a month on learning to become more strategic business development people embracing and utilizing a consultative approach. When they graduate from our program (which usually takes 6-8 months, remember – sales is a process and so is learning) they have grown their business by over 30% on average. A small time investment if you think about it in terms of ROI.

So, really, it’s all about priorities. Business Development needs to be a priority, whether it comes to cold calling (schedule time every day), or staying in touch with your customers (plan to do that on a regular schedule) or learning new practices.

Not having time means that growing your company is not a priority. And that’s surely not what you are aiming for, is it?

“Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes the job he starts.”
– Coleman Cox

As you know, we deeply believe that our Consultative Sales Certification Program provides so many benefits and value to a sales organization. Interestingly enough we share this conviction with a Sales Consultant whose blog you can read here.

Three Ways to Increase Sales Training Adoption: Tom Maloney

http://www.salesbenchmarkindex.com/bid/104882/Three-Ways-to-Increase-Sales-Training-Adoption

 

Courage in a bottle – Are you brave?

Posted on: October 15th, 2013 by Monika No Comments

Courage in a bottle?

Some words of wisdom from the Wizard of Oz. Since lions are supposed to be “The Kings of Beasts,” the Cowardly Lion believes that his fear makes him inadequate. He does not understand that courage means acting in the face of fear, which he does frequently. Only during the aftereffects of the Wizard’s gift, when he is under the influence of an unknown liquid substance that the Wizard orders him to drink (perhaps gin) is he not filled with fear. He argues that the courage from the Wizard is only temporary, although he continues to do brave deeds while openly and embarrassedly fearful.

Recently, I had a delightful conversation with one of my female clients who is also one of the smart women I am privileged to have in my professional circle. We were talking about sales (what else?) and prospects being hesitant to buy when she pointed out that the lack of courage is often the reason why people don’t buy. She said that if she had a wish, she would send a bottle of courage along with her business proposals. We then  continued to chat about courage in general, The Wizard of Oz and my client then suggested that I write a blog about it, so here it is.

Let’s look at the Wikipedia definition of Courage

Courage is the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.

Pretty straightforward and clear, but what lies underneath?

People who are not courageous are usually afraid. Afraid of the consequences of their actions (not understanding that not taking action also has consequences), afraid of trying something new, afraid of their own courage.

How much courage does it take to choose a new product/service?

My client who is the CMO of a newly established brand with a very compelling concept is trying to break into the marketplace and their offering is clearly new, innovative and of enormous value to consumer brands who in turn want to introduce their products. The approach is affordable, fun and with a clear benefit to CPG companies and the end consumer. So, why doesn’t the approach fly off the shelve? Because most people don’t have the courage to introduce a new concept and being a first adopter. It takes a lot of guts to take the first step. It’s a lot easier to follow but also more predictable and boring with few chances of standing out from the crowd and becoming a true leader.

There is a really good saying that I quote a lot and that is “Nobody ever gets fired for hiring IBM“. IBM is a well established company with huge brand recognition. Let’s just say (for the sake of the argument) that there are companies out there who offer the same solution as IBM but even better and cheaper, it would still be hard to sell. I know that, because some of my clients have tried.

Why is it easier to buy from a known brand?

There is no risk involved. Even if the solution turns out to have some areas of improvement, it’s still a safe bet and whoever made the decision to buy will hardly be questioned. But imagine, you are buying from a newly established company and there is problems. That choice might get a decision maker in trouble if things don’t turn out the way they were presented.

The Courage potion

On the other hand, choosing a new company not only helps diversity but also innovation. When my client said that she would like to bottle up a bit of courage in a bottle and send it to her prospects, just so they take the leap of faith and explore her new offering she really meant it. Sometimes it’s wise to stay with the “devil you know” but it’s also important to choose carefully and give new kids on the block a fair chance. If we live our life or do business, always trying to be on the safe side we will not be able to grow or innovate. The most courageous people are the ones who changed our thinking and the way we live. Nobody would have thought 30 years ago that a handheld device will help us to navigate through most situations, from getting driving directions to finding a good restaurant. I remember the times when people were afraid of computers and now grandmothers are on Facebook (for better or worse).   

Courage also helps sales people

In sales we often lack courage as well because of the fear of being rejected and not wanting to lose the sale. Many times sales people accommodate rather than push back. They oversell because they don’t want to lose the sale, forgetting that over-promising will have long-term effects.

Courage is essential when doing business in a successful way. Most successful people had to overcome ridicule and criticism and they had to muster up an enormous amount of courage to prevail. There is no success without failure and without courage we just stay mediocre.

Lean Forward – Or Walk Away?

Posted on: September 12th, 2013 by Monika No Comments

Recognizing Buying Signs & Gaining Commitments

The purpose of sales is to close business and increase revenue (and profits, too!). While this might be obvious to some, one would be surprised how many sales people actually dance around not understanding when to “lean forward” and when to move on. Many sales are lost because a salesperson has failed to recognize buying signs. Simply acting on buying signals alone will close the majority of your sales. So, what are the most common buying signs? First, let’s think about the entire selling process.

Closing a sale when engaged in a Consultative Sales Process is not a single event.  It’s a string of commitments or agreements throughout the sales process that a sales or service professional needs to recognize to ensure that the final commitment, the closing of the sale, will be a natural, easy one.

Recognizing Buying Signs

Just the other day I had a delightful conversation with one of our business partners and while chatting we were commiserating about the fact that too many sales people are afraid to gain commitments and/or to understand that sometimes the sale just won’t happen. My friend compared it with a date (which of course is a topic close to my heart as I wrote the book “Dating & Selling & Why They Are So Similar!”).

He said that after a handful of dates you should be expecting a kiss. If you don’t get it, then you need to re-assess the situation. The same holds true in selling. When you have appointment after appointment, phone calls, webinars, etc and you can’t move the needle, you are either not talking to the right people or you have misread buying (or “not-gonna-buy”) signs.

Being a salesperson can be discouraging at times, especially if you have put significant time into developing an account, preparing a proposal or working on a contract and then not closing the sale.  It’s easy to start thinking of what you could have been doing with the time you just “wasted” working on a sale that you didn’t get.  You could have been fishing or practicing Yoga.  But just as with fishing, you need to throw the line in before you can catch fish.  If you wait to throw the line in only when you think there will be a big catch, it will never happen.  Top salespeople realize this and often “pay themselves” for each sales call, knowing that they need to have sales activity in order to generate sales.  Top sales professionals know that they get paid for every NO!

Gaining Commitments

Here are some typical examples of gaining commitment during a sale straight out of our Consultative Sales Certified Training Program:

When you ask for an appointment – This may seem insignificant, yet it is often the first YES that gets the ball rolling.  A customer will not commit to you until they’ve said ‘yes’ at least twice.  Assertively asking for an appointment is the best way to start the closing process.

When you first meet with the customer and begin to uncover needs – You may simply state,

“If we can show you how we can increase your production by utilizing us as a source, will you consider switching vendors?”  You are beginning to condition your customer to say ‘Yes’.

When a customer asks you for something or has a special request– For instance, when a customer asks you to put together a quote or special pricing.  STOP! Don’t run off to purchasing or your manager just yet! Right now, this is a perfect opportunity to close by asking the customer for a commitment.

You might say, “If we put together this special pricing, what will your next steps be?”  OR

“Assuming that we are able to do what you ask, will you go ahead and switch to us as your main supplier?” 

This is extremely important for two reasons.  First, it mentally commits the customer to you.  It is very difficult for customers to back down after they have made this type of commitment.

Secondly, it will clear up any misunderstanding or missed intentions that will save you and your purchasing department or your management from wasting time.

When you’ve uncovered a need – you can simply ask a question like,

“If we can take care of that concern, you’ll want to go ahead with this, right?”

Over 18 years of research and competency modeling with over 4,500 top performers has shown again and again what top sales people think about and do:

  • Top salespeople realize they get paid for every NO.

(Some sales professionals even pay themselves for each NO.)

  • There are fears of closing both from the buyer and seller (yes, you!) perspective.  Knowing your sales numbers helps to alleviate these. (Check out my next blog for dealing with buyer and seller fears!)
  • Don’t change voice modulation when closing the sale.
  • That you should lean forward before asking for a commitment.
  • To eliminate words that make customers feel uncomfortable (Check out my next blog for dealing with buyer and seller fears!)
  • Pepper statements with glamour words to create interest.
  • Simply acting on buying signs will close the majority of sales.

Closing signs that your customers may demonstrate include:  When the buyer leans forward, or when the buyer asks specific questions, or your customer gives you a verbal or visual acceptance signs (such as asking you to explain something again, or nodding in agreement).

And finally, here are some Facts About Closing: Can you Fill In the Correct Answers?

Use these percentages:   10%    80%      52%      80%      50%

v             % of all sales are closed after the fifth closing attempt.

v             % of all sales calls end without the salesperson trying to close once.

v             % of all purchases from a new supplier take place after the fifth call.

v    Only        % of salespeople make more than five calls on a given prospect.

v    More than          % of salespeople make only one call & then give up.

If you are interested in the answers, Click Here! 

You will be surprised!

CRM Systems – Friend or Foe? How to be prepared if you get hit by a bus

Posted on: August 1st, 2013 by Monika No Comments

Sometimes sales and service blend in with each other and it’s hard to determine where sales ends and service starts, or the other way around. In an ideal world, every service situation should be a sales opportunity and every sales situation should be an opportunity to provide stellar service but we all know that the reality doesn’t always reflect that.

Keeping track of your CRM system is key to developing new clients but also crucially important when staying in touch with your existing customers. Bad database management can not only lead to lost opportunities it can irritate and annoy customers.

The other week I got a solicitation letter from the bank that holds my mortgage offering to lower my interest rate. Usually, I throw these letters right where they belong – in the garbage. But this was a different case. I’ve been their customer for years and they own my mortgage, so I was intrigued. They should know my account, they certainly know my payment history, they have all my data and information with the exception of my blood-type and my firstborn, so an offer to lower the rate of my existing mortgage has to be real, you’d think, wouldn’t you?

When I called in, the very friendly customer service representative asked me all the questions to verify that I was really the person who I said I was, and that is totally legitimate. What was not cool was the fact that there was no pre-qualification, no initial check that was done to put me on the fast track. It was almost like calling a company that solicited me based on my address, or my credit rating or any other criteria that is publicly available. In essence, it was a cold inquiry call from my end, although I was invited to call in. In my opinion, this was really unacceptable given the fact that I am a customer of theirs.

I mean, come on. You are Bank of … and for the last five years I have been paying my mortgage to you after  refinancing  to take advantage of low interest rates. So, you should know everything about me and only send me letters with offers if they are actually real and to my advantage.

In the end it turned out that re-financing wouldn’t make any sense at all and I would actually not only NOT save any money, but it would cost me thousands more! This was not only disappointing but very annoying because I had just lost 30 minutes of my time and it left me with an unwanted inquiry on my credit report.

That is what I mean by bad database management. If you solicit existing clients you need to make sure that you tap into all the information that sits right there in your database. I would expect that and so should everybody else.

But here comes the “adding insult to injury” part. The other day I got another letter that was the same content as the original one I had received a couple of weeks ago. Not only couldn’t Bank of … deliver on their offer, they then proceeded to NOT mark their database which resulted in me receiving more letters.

Database management is key to a company’s health and growth. Keeping a clean database and segmenting it so it works to your advantage is an art as much as it is science. Sloppy set-up and spotty record keeping will eventually lead to lost sales opportunities (how do you know when to follow up with whom) and it will leave existing customers/clients disgruntled when they receive offers that treat you like you weren’t a customer to begin with.

It’s just bad business and reflects poorly on your overall brand and image. So, here are my little drops of wisdom. Take the time and set up and manage your CRM as if your business depends on it (actually it kind of does!). And if you can’t, and no one else in your organization can handle that professionally, then spend the money to hire an outside expert to assist you. It’s well worth the investment, and your ROI will astonish you!

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.

5 Tips on how to prospect wisely

Posted on: June 12th, 2013 by Monika No Comments

Most organizations want to prospect Fortune 1000 companies. While tempting, it can be a bit like boiling the ocean. After all, there are 1000 companies on the list and the big question is always how to prioritize. While many companies listed on the Fortune list are desirable prospects, some may not be and it’s really important to understand that, otherwise your sales people will end up dialing for dollars, which is time consuming and costly.

Here are some insights that might help you and your team prospect more effectively.

1) Understand who you want to target

A consultative sales approach starts with understanding who your target audience is and it might turn out that your ideal client is not necessarily on the Fortune list. For example, if you develop a niche offering your prospect could be small business owners or mid-size companies in a specific region or industry.

2) Develop a message that resonates with your audience

Once you identified your ideal client profile, you need a message that resonates. Put yourself into your prospect’s shoes and try to find out why you would want to buy the service/product. Talk about industry trends, such as mobile technology if it’s relevant to your service offering so you help your prospect be relevant.

3) Identify the decision maker

You need to talk to the right people within the organization, otherwise your message will not be heard. If you have an offering that features cost savings, target the CFO. Develop a unique selling proposition that highlights the benefits of your service/product by telling a story to your prospects that is relevant to their daily responsibilities.

4) Don’t talk about your company background service features

People are not interested in how good your service offering is, they only care what it can do for them. Focus on the benefits and avoid the temptation to brag. Everybody thinks they have the best offering. What counts is whether it’s a fit or not.

5) Look for a fit

Not everybody will get excited about your story and that’s OK. If you do your research and you take the steps outlined above, you will find the individuals in the companies that fit your ideal prospect profile. Sometimes you will get a “no” or a “not now”, but more importantly while you are having those conversations you will be able to gather market research to strengthen and sharpen your message.

In a nutshell, don’t try to boil the ocean. Be targeted in your approach. Find the appropriate person within the organization and sharpen your message so it’s attractive to the buyer. Don’t embellish and don’t pitch. Tell a compelling story and look for a fit.

Story-Telling & Sales

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

How story-telling can enhance the sales process

In a consultative B2B environment we are often faced with a formidable situation when we are selling the invisible. There is no physical product we can showcase when we are prospecting on the phone and we are challenged to connect with a prospect in a short period of time. Telling stories and sharing best practices gives us an opportunity to communicate a business objective in a fashion where people can relate.

Once upon a time… From a very early age on I was fascinated by fairy tales and stories. As a grown-up I’ve come to appreciate how Story-Telling can be an essential benefit in a consultative sales environment. My experience has shown how it helps you connect with your prospects. And it is a great way to add value rather than pushing a feature or a benefit.

Remember 1,001 Arabian Nights?

When I was a kid I loved the idea of people gathering in a tent or square and listening to stories. Still to this day I remember my family’s dinner parties best where people were telling stories, sharing, laughing, showing compassion or just simply cracking a joke. As children growing up, it’s fairy tales and stories that help shape our thinking. They trigger our imagination and fuel our creativity. As adults, it’s not that different. We are always drawn to stories that we can relate to.

When I started out in sales, I had come from a public relations/marketing background with no credentials in sales so I decided to do what I liked best – listening to stories. I researched case studies and told my prospects about the success that other companies had when using our service. It worked!

Why?

Because people like to listen to stories that they can relate to themselves. Product features or benefits are boring to many people unless they can directly establish a use for them to their advantage. Nobody wants to listen to you bragging about your company, your service, how good you are, etc. What people are interested in is what your service can do for them and how it will help their business.

If you don’t have something to show, share a story

In a B2B environment you often don’t have a product to show and you need to rely on a verbal presentation and anecdotes to get people interested. This is especially true when you first engage with a prospect unless they know your company and service. The key question is “What value does the service or solution you offer provide to your clients?”

What better way to explain than sharing success stories?!

Why is it easier to sell a story than a product or service?

Rather than selling a service, focus on the value it brings to the client and the human experience. Instead of selling a service that is “better”, offer a solution that, for example, helps increase efficiencies, saves money or helps your client make money. Especially in a consultative sales environment, once we are able to tap into somebody’s emotion, and understand what triggers their interest and what their needs are, it’s a lot easier to connect. Never forget that it is human beings you are targeting. Although you are trying to sell them something, you are also an advisor, a consultant in the true sense, a resource to help them make the right decision. The right decision for your prospect or client will be the right decision for you as well.

When telling stories, it is important that you own those stories and make them yours. Be personal, just like at a dinner conversation. But first, listen to your prospects, find out what their real needs and pain points are, and then choose a case study/story that you think will resonate with their needs. I can assure you that your prospects will listen.

Dare to Be Counter-Intuitive!

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by Monika 1 Comment

Recently, I finished reading a book written by one of the “Housewives of New York”, Carole Razdiwill. Don’t judge me, I love watching these shows. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. Contrary to popular perception, this book is excellently written, riveting and it takes you on a journey that is both intriguing and sad. The author is the widow of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ nephew.

The book is entitled: “What Remains“, and it describes the story of four young people who were hoping to grow old together as close friends, just that “fate” wouldn’t have it that way.

One of the characters in the book is JFK, Jr. and it goes without saying that the crash of his airplane is part of the narrative. As most people know and perhaps remember, the aircraft he was piloting crashed into the ocean near Martha’s Vineyard.

It was determined that the crash was caused by “Spatial Disorientation”, which is a condition in which an airplane pilot’s perception of the plane’s direction, height, speed, etc. does not agree with reality.

Perception vs. Reality

It was at that tragic point of the story where I decided to write a blog about sales and how many practitioners suffer from Sales Disorientation, which is a condition in which the sales person’s perception of her/his sales approach does not agree with reality. OK, I just made that part up but trust me, it happens a lot.

In the situation where a pilot loses accurate perception of reality it would require her/him to act counter-intuitively and rely on objective, measurable criteria (instruments, radar, etc). Only in doing that, can the course be corrected and the plane landed safely.

In sales, the disconnect between perception and reality can also have very damaging effects, but to my knowledge nobody has died from it, although many sales practitioners might have crashed and burned.

The Expectation of Success

Those sales professionals who succumb to Sales Disorientation have plenty of time and resources to get themselves out of trouble, but they often continue on as if their determination to succeed at all costs blinds them to the multitude of options they could take advantage of. Why do sales professionals who become aware of their sales approach not working continue to plunge ahead? An unfounded “expectation of success” appears to play a significant role in such cases. All too often we see salespeople go into sales calls without a back-up plan, assuming they’ll be successful. Without really knowing their prospect’s/client’s real needs, without understanding what real value means, and without a Plan B, they have no other choice, truly, other than to continue on. In doing so, we find these salespeople developing a kind of tunnel vision that seems to lock up the brain as their sales process with their prospect/client goes awry. And should salespeople be occasionally successful in such situations, their habits are reinforced, and they can begin to write off the not successful encounters to reasons that have nothing to do with their approach or style.

A Counter-Intuitive Sales Approach?

Why is it that we need to be counter-intuitive? Because we need to stay connected to our prospects and their world, rather than living in our “sales” bubble humming along.

Very often in sales we are taught to work as fast and as hard as we can and say “yes” at any cost. We are encouraged to please and to accommodate although it’s really important to determine if the solution is a fit and if not, then to sometimes walk away from a prospective sale.

 

Let’s Look at Some Specific Examples

Perception Reality
1) Make as many calls as possible Only effective if you have all the resources in the world, and you are only calling the companies that could profit from your offering
2) Target as many companies as you can Don’t boil the ocean. Be specific on who you want to target otherwise you will get lost in the ocean
3) Tell your prospect what you’ve got Rather listen to your prospect and don’t push features
4) Focus on the benefits of your offering Ask the right questions and then develop a value proposition that your prospect can relate to
5) Brag & tell your prospects how great your service is Focus on the areas that can help your prospect make money, save money, improve their business or their reputation within their organization and they will get excited
6) Convince your prospect that you are the right choice Your prospect won’t need to be convinced if you are the right choice. But what if you are not? Not every organization is a good fit for your service offering
7) Try to get a “yes” from your prospects Rather go for honest responses, even if it’s a “no”. The sooner you find out, the better it is so that you can move forward or move on while leaving a good impression

 

In closing, I know that it probably takes a lot of courage to do things that seem counter-intuitive, but the results can be life saving or in the sales world, very rewarding and life-fulfilling!

Trust me. I know. I’ve gone down that path many times successfully. You can, too!

Listen! Even If You Can’t Understand?

Posted on: March 15th, 2013 by Monika No Comments

Here is an inspiring and touching story from one of our graduates, a regional sales manager who participated in one of our In-House Corporate CSC Training Programs and gained Consultative Sales Certification He sent us the e-mail below, sharing an extraordinary experience with a prospect.

Hi Tom & Monika,

I had a very interesting meeting last week that I wanted to share with you.

I spoke to a gentleman on the phone last week who wanted help with his tradeshow shipments. He put a call into our office and the call was directed to me. He started giving me some details over the phone and as we spoke more I was having a very difficult time understanding him. At first I honestly thought it was a prank call and didn’t know what to think since he was so difficult to understand. I also thought maybe he just has a pretty serious speech impediment. I figured it may be much easier to understand him in person so I suggested we meet. We scheduled a meeting for Friday morning.

The man told me he was the National Marketing Manager for his company. I looked at their website and still did not put all the pieces together. He liked to communicate with me via text message as well which I thought was a little different..

When I showed up for the meeting on Friday I immediately realized he had a hearing disability since he was wearing a hearing aid. Then the light bulb went on, the company he works for makes products for clients with hearing disabilities so it made perfect sense that their employees may also have hearing disabilities.

Understanding How To Communicate With Your Prospect

From the first second I saw him, my CSC training immediately went into action. It was like my instincts took over and I knew exactly what I had to do. We sat down in a conference room to go over the details. I knew right off the bat that he was going to be a visual learner just like myself. Everything we talked about I was giving him visual examples as well. He asked about our delivery and pickup process to trade shows, so I literally drew out examples of how we move the freight and how our agents get involved to make the deliveries and pickups etc…. He asked about transit times, so I took out my calendar and showed him dates on the calendar as examples so he could see what I meant by 3-5 day to various states. I figured he was probably also reading my lips to understand me so I consciously tried to speak clearly and not too quickly.

We went over everything… As the meeting went on he was on the edge of his seat and we were both huddled around his computer and a pad of paper.

He was definitely a “Director” (behavioral style= assertive, fast-paced) – he was quick to make decisions and was open to new ideas.

A Prospect’s High-Five!

As we were wrapping up the meeting I wanted to learn a little more about him, so I asked him some general questions about his career etc. and it turns out he grew up in Boston only 2 towns away from where I grew up. We talked about the traffic, high school, the city, and family. I believe that since we were able to communicate so well during our meeting he was more inclined to open up to me. He even said he knows a few companies in the area that specialize in products for people with hearing disabilities that he wants to get me in touch with!

As we stood up to leave the room after our 75 minute meeting, he put his hand up in the air for a “high five”. I have never ended a 1st meeting with a customer with a high five in my life. It was great! He then said to me, “Whenever you are near the office, feel free to stop in.”

He wants to start shipping with us this coming Wednesday to one of his 80+ tradeshows this year. Down the line he wants to discuss fulfillment and warehousing of company brochures and other marketing materials.

Just thought I would share this you. I am certain this would not have gone this way had I not participated in your CSC training.

And No One Else Listened!

**On a side note, he told me he has made phone calls to other companies to ask about their services etc, and has been hung up on after a few minutes. (being so difficult to understand over the phone people literally don’t realize who they are speaking with.) A guy with a $1.8 million marketing budget who needs things shipped!

So, What Are The Lessons To Learn Here?

  1. Sales can be learned. Of course, there will always be people who are more successful than others, but understanding your prospects, truly listening and quickly adapting to a situation are skills that participants who work through our program acquire for the long-term.
  2. People communicate in different ways. Some people prefer (and some need) visuals while others like to listen to information. Discovering your prospects’ “communication” preference is key to success.
  3. Last, but not least, be of service and don’t disregard people who are different. It’s not only our job, it should be our dedication to discover opportunities and then to meet our clients’ needs. We can only do that if we keep an open mind and if we truly hone in on our prospects’ needs.

 

5 SALES TIPS

Our Recent Consultative Sales Certified Training Program Graduates

Would Like To Share With Our Readers:

  • 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 and/or money, make more money, operate more efficiently or give them peace of mind. Anything else doesn’t matter!
  • Know Your Market! Prioritize your sales efforts according to potential for sales, not based on current sales.

7 Reasons why CEOs should stay out of the sales process

Posted on: February 1st, 2013 by Monika 2 Comments

Sales is a process, especially in a consultative sales environment. CEOs often step in to control or manage the sales process, particularly when sales don’t happen.  I have seen it all.  CEOs doing the sales training, CEOs being on first sales calls, CEOs coming to the rescue. It usually causes panic and fear and utter confusion.

So here is the scenario. Sales don’t come in. The CEO panics and thinks he/she needs to take control. As a result, the sales people fear that they might lose their job and/or that they won’t make money.

The sales managers do both. They panic and fear, both for their team, for their compensation and for their reputation.

Here are 7 reasons why CEOs should not be involved in the sales process:

1) CEOs should lead the company, not the sales process

CEOs are charismatic leaders who have a vision for their company and the future of the developments, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they should run every single department and be in charge of every detail.

2) CEOs know how to sell to investors, but sales is a process

Clearly, most CEOs know how to sell, but their audiences are different. They know how to sell to investors or shareholders, but sales is a process and most CEOs don’t have a background in sales.

3) Your company will look small when the CEO sells

Imagine, you sit in on a presentation from a vendor and the CEO is sitting there next to the sales person. I have seen it happen. It doesn’t leave a good impression and it makes your company look small. There is nothing wrong with the CEO coming in at the end of the sales process to impress the prospect, but everything wrong with him/her leading the sale.

4) CEOs have a strong ego and sales is about the prospect

CEOs love their company, as they should. That often means that they come from a place of vanity rather than a place of meeting the prospect’s needs. They like to talk about their company, the history, the people because they are proud of their achievements, but in a consultative sales environment the prospect is king and everything should be about their needs.

5) Sales managers get intimidated when the CEO starts meddling

Once CEOs start getting involved in the sales process it usually means that the CEO doesn’t trust their sales managers any more. Why else would they do it. So there is two scenarios. You can fire the sales manager or give him room for improvement. Getting involved will just lead to the sales manager being nervous.

6) Sales people lose respect for their sales managers

Sales people get confused once they get different messages from the CEO and their sales manager. They don’t know who to please and the results are disappointing at best. Once a CEO steps in to control or manage the sales process it’s usually a desperate measure and it leads to confusion.

7) Shouldn’t the CEO be doing other things?

Last, but not least. Shouldn’t CEOs be doing other things than selling? CEOs are in charge of thought leadership, innovation, driving the company to success. Sales should be left to the professionals, whether it’s an in-house sales staff or an outsourced solution.

Here is a message to CEOs:

Hire a sales manager or somebody who will lead the sales process and step away. Let them work their magic. There is many experts out there who can lead a successful team and put revenue on the books. Another big advice. Leave your ego at the door! It’s not about you, it’s about the end result.

Here is a message to sales managers:

I have said it before and I will say it again. Sales is a process and a process needs to be documented and communicated. Invite your CEO to your sales planning sessions, explain your strategy (if you have one!) and manage expectations. If you do that, your CEO (if he/she is wise) will move out of the way and leave you do your thing. If he/she doesn’t, think about moving on because a CEO involved in the sales process hardly ever leads to success. So, you will have to move on either way, on your terms or the latest when layoffs happen due to the lack of sales.

Here is a message to sales people:

Be mindful who you work for. If you don’t, you will not be successful and end up changing jobs every 6 months (I have seen it). If you do however understand your craft, manage up, help your sales managers be successful, provide insight into your work and supply reports of your progress. With clear communication and market research results (e.g. we are targeting the wrong people for our service offering!) you will be able to get support from your managers and you will succeed.

But only, if everybody leaves their EGO at the door.