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Sales Success – Namaste

Posted on: August 30th, 2018 by Monika No Comments

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:)

Why should CEOs be involved in developing a sales culture?

Posted on: December 3rd, 2014 by Monika No Comments

Remember, the fish starts stinking at the top

That’s right, it always does. And when it comes to the sales process it’s not different. CEOs need to understand, embrace and support the sales process. If your CEO expects immediate results and you are stuck in a sales cycle that takes 3-6 months, guess what will happen? Your CEO will question you, your boss, your team and that’s usually where the panic starts.

Always get buy-in from your CEO

Why? So there is no surprises. While I preach that CEOs should not meddle with the sales process once it is established, I also feel 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 the name of the game.

Everybody is in sales

Everybody within your organization should have a sales mindset. Why? Because you are constantly selling and building trust. Everybody who is client facing, and I mean everybody is responsible for the reputation of your company. It’s hard to sell when people don’t trust. If I visit a client and the receptionist is not friendly, that leaves a negative impression.

If I then talk to a customer representative and they are not knowledgeable. Guess how that will impact my decision to buy?

And if I then get referred to a sales person who pitches something that I don’t need, because they don’t listen, they just “sell” it will probably make me think about buying anything from that company. Right?

Your people are selling all the time, in a direct or indirect way. So, they need to understand that their livelihood is directly tied to their demeanor, mindset and behavior. Our training program helps companies to establish a common Sales & Service language. No matter who you encounter within the organization, they should all speak the “same” language.

Train your account people

When we think about the sales, we think about sales people, database management, phone calls, etc.

But, if your account people are charged with growing revenue within existing accounts and they are not trained to do that, they will most likely resist it.  Most opportunities are right under our noses. It’s the trusted clients we work with who are most receptive to our new service offerings. But if your account people feel that they are only responsible for account management and they are uncomfortable talking about new business, the up-selling will be difficult.

Help your CEO with driving directions

CEOs are visionaries, they know where they want to end up, but it is up to his people to provide the map. CEOs often don’t want to be bothered with details, but if they are presented with a concept that helps everybody within the organization to become more focused on new business development (which will result in additional revenue), they will open up their ears. Our most successful training programs are the ones where the CEO agrees with the philosophy and his/her leaders drive the direction.

Sales Managers! Accountability Starts With You!

Posted on: May 22nd, 2014 by Monika No Comments

In recent months I have been observing a quite disturbing trend – a lack of accountability. There are so many reports on the new generation coming into the workplace, the famous Millennials, not being as accountable as other generations, but I deal mostly with Gen X and Baby Boomers and, truthfully, there is really no difference when it comes to being accountable.

So, how can Sales Managers and top Sales Executives contribute to their sales teams being accountable and successful in their organizations?

Sales is a process, especially when it comes to consultative selling and the process only works when you don’t skip steps. Staying in touch with prospects, following up in a timely and mindful manner and following a customer-centric sales process is something that sales managers need to instill in their sales people so they can succeed to their fullest abilities.

But what if the sales managers themselves don’t stick to their process?
What if they don’t stay on track to move things along?
What can they do to hold their teams accountable for moving sales forward?

Lead by Example
It’s hard to expect accountability from your people if you don’t lead by example.

In my work with many companies trying to establish sales processes and programs, I encounter sales managers who don’t stick to their own time-lines far too often.

In our first meeting they usually have a clear picture as to when they want to implement training, who they want to enroll and what the desired outcomes should be, and why they have chosen this approach to support company objectives and goals.

We also ask them to have their team complete our online, proprietary Skills & Knowledge Assessment so everyone will know their current skill level and where their learning gaps are.

Stick to Your Timeline
What sometimes occurs then is a delay in the implementing of that time-line. Not a problem, as long as the reason makes sense for the company, such as restructuring of the team, new team members coming on board, etc.

It seems to be a trend, and when a pattern begins to take shape, I start paying attention.

So, in my mind, the question arises: How can sales managers expect their team to be accountable and productive, if they don’t stick to their own time-line? It’s almost like a parent expecting a child to be courteous while never being polite when interacting with people in front of their children!

Be Accountable

My European background always kicks in when people make promises they then don’t keep. I just simply don’t understand it.
A huge part of my success in sales and business is due to the fact that I always show up on-time, always follow up on what was agreed upon and always follow through on my promises.

And, there is no difference whether I’m dealing with a prospect, a client or a vendor. That’s what accountability looks like – being good for your word.

On a personal note, just pushing the envelope a bit here, in my subjective and slightly biased view, I’ve experienced that it’s usually women who keep their promises.

So, whatever happened to the phrase: “I’m a man of my word”?

Create Stellar Performers
So in closing, Sales Managers – if you want to build a trustworthy, successful team you need to lead by example and stick to the promises you’ve made, otherwise it will be hard to expect stellar performance from your team.

Even in Sales there are no Quick Fixes

Posted on: October 29th, 2013 by Monika No Comments

Social Media and available technology have changed our world and the way we do business and it has made us more impatient. Now, more than ever we are hoping for a Quick Fix and advertising campaigns feed into that trend. Whether it’s losing weight or finding a spouse, you will find offerings for a solution for pretty much anything your heart desires but the big question is – will it work?

From my point of view, wanting to lose weight quickly (while it sounds intriguing) is not a good idea, because often the pounds come right back if you don’t change your lifestyle and don’t even get me started on finding a spouse. In my book “Dating & Selling and why they are so Similar” I write about it in detail.

These days we expect things to change immediately

So, basically we are conditioned to expect things to change in a short period of time and that also shows in the way we do business. We start skipping steps, we think that content marketing and using Social Media can replace effective prospecting or client management, but the reality is that as humans we still want to be treated with respect and we want to feel special. Whether it’s in a dating situation or in the business world. I don’t think there is anybody out there who would want to feel like a mass target.

Sales is a Process

Recently, I have seen trends in the sales world where sales people are encouraged to use a mass outreach, playing the numbers game rather than doing account planning, researching their prospect base and picking up the phone.

It’s the opposite of customer centric or consultative selling. It’s a very tactical approach where the focus is on key words, marketing campaigns and social media channels and sales people forget to be strategic.

Consultative Selling is a process and like with every process it needs to be developed and followed. Once you start skipping steps, the results will not be what you expect. It’s very similar to dieting. When you follow your diet plan only every second day, the pounds will not drop.

Here are some areas that we teach in our Consultative Sales Program to help sales people stay on track.

Plan your accounts

As a sales person you need to know your top target accounts and how to develop business within these organizations. Who are the decision makers, who are the influencers, what are the challenges the industry experiences, and how does my product/service fit into their business model?

Research

Sales people need to research the industry, the target company and the people they prospect. Before a sales person picks up the phone or writes an email, they need to understand how their offering could be of benefit to the prospect. And here is also where Social Media comes effectively into play. Researching people on LinkedIn is something that every mindful sales people should do.

Speak your customer’s language

People digest information in different ways. Some prospects will prefer email, others will be more responsive to a phone call. Some people are visual, others digest information orally. In our program participants learn to understand how their prospects and clients best  respond and absorb information. This is crucially important once sales people get deeper into the sales process.

Listen, listen, listen

Consultative and Customer Centric Selling is all about listening and providing value to the client. It’s not about pushing a sale no matter what. It’s about listening to your prospect’s needs and finding a way to best serve them. This will not only help sales people sell more, it will result in more profitable accounts and additional revenue from existing clients who will have confidence in your company to be a trusted advisor.

Pick up the phone!

Finally, one of my favorite tips. Pick up the phone! Too many sales people rely on email and social media to connect with prospects and/or clients. When you prospect and you are mindful, people do appreciate a phone call as long as you have something of value to say and you are not pitching them. With existing clients, phone calls are necessary to stay in touch, to be connected and to understand how needs might have changed. This also presents enormous up-selling opportunities.

How effective are voice mails?

Posted on: August 19th, 2013 by Monika No Comments

Many sales people struggle with the decision as to whether they should leave a voice mail message or not. In a consultative sales environment, once you have identified your ideal client profile and you have developed the most effective messaging the question is not whether you should leave a voice mail or not. The challenge is to craft a message that is concise, short and relevant while still personal.

The main objective is to be heard. Whether somebody picks up the phone or your phone attempt goes into voice mail, there is only a couple of seconds you have to get your prospect’s attention. Your message should always be tailored to meet their needs, it is not an opportunity to pitch your service or product. Every phone interaction is an interruption of their day. Unless you have something to offer that will make their life easier, they will not pay attention. Remember, nobody wants to be sold to, so the more you talk about the challenges that your audiences might face, the higher the likelihood that they will listen.

Be courteous and respectful

Courtesy and professionalism go a long way. When leaving a voice mail message, try to focus on something that will set you apart from the crowd. Make mention of something that will help your prospect put your message into context. We all get inundated with e-mails, phone calls and voice mails so the more precise and personal you can be, the better the outcome.

Be relevant

Here is an example of a voice mail that will most likely not get any attention or be deleted:

Hi, I am calling you from XYZ company to see if you want to talk to us about our superior accounting system. Our clients love our solution and we pride ourselves in having the best customer service in the industry. Maybe we can set-up a time to talk so I can tell you more about our system. Please call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

There is nothing unique or engaging about this message and it’s full references about the offering and nothing about the prospect’s needs.

Below is a message that is more personal and benefit driven.

Hi, my name is xxxx xxxx and I am calling from XYZ company. We work with companies in your industry to help them streamline their financial transactions to optimize resources and monitor cash flow. I also sent you an email, but will follow up with another message to determine if you are interested in a conversation. I will call you again If I don’t hear back before end of week.

This message includes a value proposition and a call to action. The prospect should know that you will call again which gives them the opportunity to say “no thanks” if there is no interest or to respond in a positive way. 

Be personal

If you have more information on that prospect you can also work it into the messaging, so it is more personal. For example, if you got an Out of Office reply to your e-mail the previous week you could make mention of it. “I saw that you were out of the office last week, so you probably didn’t have the time to review my e-mail”.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

The important thing to remember is that a voice mail message should sound personal and not scripted. While using a script can help, it needs to include language that you will be comfortable using, just like sitting next to that person. Should you flounder or stumble, no worries. Just make a joke about it. My favorite line is “Obviously I have not had enough coffee today” or “Wow, it’s obviously getting too late for me to sound eloquent“……. This is actually an opportunity to stand out from the crowd, to sound human and not salesy.

Practice

If you are not sure how your voice mail will sound , leave one for yourself or a friend and listen to it or have them critique it. It’s a powerful exercise. And remember, never say anything that you don’t mean or you are not comfortable with, it comes through in your voice. Authenticity goes a long way, especially in sales.

Help! My prospect went silent on me!

Posted on: July 26th, 2012 by Monika No Comments

It happens quite a bit, especially in a consultative sales environment. You’ve established good rapport, it’s a good fit, you’ve had good meetings and then nothing – just silence.

Your phone calls don’t get returned, your e-mails go unanswered and then, you feel that you must have done something wrong!

Well, don’t despair! It often has nothing to do with you or your service offering or you as a sales person. Prospects need time to review and digest.

They need time to get approval and buy-in from internal departments. And sometimes they discover that the solution or product that they wanted to purchase is not as essential as they originally thought.

What’s a sales person to do? In my experience, you CAN add value whenever possible, but there is not a lot else you can do other than wait it out.

Examples of Stalled Sales

Here are some scenarios that I’ve experienced that led to a stalled sales process:

1) My contact was hospitalized with acute pneumonia (I was informed by this person’s assistant two weeks after the incident). So I decided to send a Get Well card. Two months after my contact came out of the hospital I closed the business. Compassion and patience paid off.

2) The decision maker was let go. In that case you need to basically start from scratch and see if you can develop rapport and convince the new person to work with you.

3) The boss’ decision maker was let go. Another scenario where you just need to be patient and hope that your contact will lobby for you and your offering.

4) The company was bought. As a result everybody was afraid that they might lose their job. Be compassionate and supportive and if your contact still has a job after things settle down, it will pay off.

5) The wife of my contact had a premature baby and the last thing he wanted to do was negotiate a contract. Again, sit it out and be patient.

All of these types of developments are out of your control and really have nothing to do with you or your service offering. Don’t – and I really mean DON’T- try to be aggressive and start calling or e-mailing them over and over. You could drive them to NOT wanting to buy from you, even if they had viewed your offering as the favorite.

Give them the time to do what needs to be done and sit back. If you find an interesting article that might help them understand the value of your service or product offering, send it to them. Start with a line that says “Just thinking of you, thought you might be interested in the attached” and then wait a bit more.

 

To Pursue or Not To Pursue

Our instincts often tell us to pursue and hunt, and that’s usually what we as sales people are expected to do. But the reality is that it has to be a good fit and good timing. Your offering has to be something that the prospect really wants and needs at the time. There is no point in convincing your prospect if they are not ready, for whatever reason. You pursuing them will not accelerate the process, it will put you in a position where you might lose the sale.

If you are sure that you did everything possible to provide your prospect with the necessary information to make a decision, that’s really all you can do. Everything else is up to them. Either, it’s going to happen or it won’t. I have yet to see somebody being convinced to buy because the sales person was on them all the time.

To me it’s almost like a marriage proposal. If you propose to somebody and they are not really ready, or don’t think this is the right fit for them, they’ll say “No”, or if they say “Yes” due to convincing circumstances, the marriage will suffer. It’s bound to happen. There will be resentment, unnecessary criticism and a sense that you had to do something that you didn’t want.

Remember the song “You can’t hurry love”. Well, you can’t hurry sales, either.