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7 Human Ways of Measuring Your Success at the Holidays

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

It’s the time of the year again. The holiday season is upon us and it seems that we are stressing out and just trying to get it over with? A good number of people I know don’t really enjoy preparing for the holidays as much as our TV commercials make us believe we do. All those happy ads with kids smiling, parents gladly shopping, and everybody being together and laughing. Not exactly the vibe I am getting when I am out shopping. People seem more stressed, or at least more impatient than the rest of the year. So, my question is – what are we chasing?

Happiness? Well, that’s probably not going to arrive in a box.

The same holds true for business success. We are always chasing the numbers, increased revenue and KPI’s. What if our measure would include human aspects. After all, every company is only as good as their customers and adding the human touch can only increase brand equity. We could go back to the basics of human interaction when doing business and maybe money will follow us. What if our KPI’s would include the following?

1) Gratitude

I deeply believe that being grateful is essential in my personal and my professional life. Without gratitude, it seems to me, some people feel they don’t have enough – keep looking for things rather than appreciating what we have. Ask yourself how many times you actually paid gratitude to your clients and employees. I am always grateful for my clients because they provide me with invigorating and challenging work and my financial health. Why not show our gratitude by sending a little something that is meaningful (and if we are following a consultative sales approach we know a little bit about our clients, right?). It’s the little acts of kindness that really go a long way.

Being a good human being IS good business! – Paul Hawken

2) Paying attention

I’ve observed of late that there is a tendency for people to easily become more superficial than we’d like to be. Perhaps it’s a side effect of technology overwhelm and fast moving times. We all have so much on our plates that we often feel that we are on a treadmill in our current world of instant gratification. How many times do actually listen to your clients by honestly paying attention? Try it, it’s magical. Instead of thinking of other things, start to listen more often and you will discover many areas of opportunities.

3) Authenticity

Focusing on what’s really important also means being authentic. Being authentic means that we have strong beliefs and whatever it is that we do or decide, whether it’s on a personal or professional level it will come from a place of truth. For example, one of my former clients refused to work with tobacco companies, regardless of the money they wanted to pay him. He was authentic in his business approach and while he missed out on all the tobacco related business, his other clients respected him for his strong beliefs. You can actually increase revenue while being authentic. Put your stake in the ground! Develop your own yardstick!

4) Respect

The less respectful we are, the higher the probability that we will lose clients. Being respectful is an essential KPI when it comes to doing business. And there are many ways to show it. How often have you not returned a phone call? How many times have you been ill prepared for a meeting? We have all done it, but by paying attention to our behavior and being aware of it, we can all increase our level of respect when we interact with people, whether it’s employees, clients, the receptionist or the janitor.

5) Humility

There is nothing wrong with being humble and acknowledging that we are human. Which is the most vulnerable trait of humans? We make mistakes. All of us – bar none. Admitting mistakes, being vulnerable and maybe even having a sense of humor about it makes us more attractive, not less. It’s a simple formula. Humility = Success

6) Reliability

Part of my success is in showing up and showing up on time. It sounds very simple and it really is when you are a professional. My motto is to under-promise and over-deliver. The more times we are on-time, prepared and deliver what we promise, the higher our chances of winning or keeping a client.

7) Honesty

Last, but not least, let’s talk about honesty. For some reason there are some sales practitioners (and their management) who feel that it is all right to be a bit dishonest in sales. It happens in other business areas, too but it’s more accepted in sales. There are companies that wholeheartedly encourage their sales people to tell some white lies in order to get business. I deeply feel that’s just plain wrong. Not only does it reflect badly on you as a person, it leaves a horrible impression of your company. I think you would agree that every successful relationship needs to be based on honesty and every single time we are being honest, we are doing the right thing. And, when we do the right thing we are better business people.

So, going forward, why not build the “7 Ways of Measuring your Success” into your KPIs and you will see that not only will business thrive but you and your clients will feel better and your company will be more highly respected.

Going back to the basics and measuring our success by how your clients and customers feel after interacting with your company could add new dimension to KPI’s. It’s worth a try!

Happy holidays and hopes for a 2014 in which we and our clients are happier than we were in 2013!

Happy Holidays, Happy Selling and Wishing You a Successful, Healthy 2014.

Warm wishes,

Monika

How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle: 4 Useful Tips

Posted on: December 4th, 2013 by Monika No Comments

During a prospecting call the other week we came across the question on HOW we help our clients shorten the sales cycle. It’s something that is an integral part of our Consultative Sales Certification Training Program – helping our clients to shorten the cycle by up to 25%. A valid question, right? So I decided I would share our response with the sales community.

Many sales people are under the impression that the surest ways to shorten the sales cycle is to either increase activity and/or to follow-up more aggressively.

Strategically shortening your sales cycle has nothing to do with making more phone calls but everything to do with understanding your audiences and their situation.

In a nutshell, here is the response that we offered our prospect:

Understand Your Audiences

First things first! You need to understand who your contacts are and their roles in the decision making process. There are the financial (=economic) buyers, users, technical influencers, coach influencers, etc. And you need to understand the logic they use in making decisions and the motivation of each.

For example, a CFO might look for cost savings and want the bottom-line improvements while a user of a service or a product will want to hear about what’s in it for them –  how your solution will help them in their daily job. Some influencers can act as your coach, helping you understand the structure of the organization and the buying process and the preferences of other buyers.  All of these people will have different roles and responsibilities and also different personalities. Understanding who you are dealing with and catering to those people’s needs is essential in shortening the sales cycle. Very often sales people focus only on a limited number of “influencers”, they move the sale along to only find out that there is no budget for what they are offering.

Gain Commitments Along The Way

Managing expectations and strategically gaining commitments at every step of the way is another essential factor in shortening the sales cycle. If you ask your prospects at every step of the process if what you are offering is in line with their expectations, you will stay on course and there will be no big surprises in the end. Too often sales people are looking for an easy “yes” rather than being honest with themselves and asking the tough questions. This can surely lead to frustration and confusion. Sometimes it’s best to realize that your offering might not be best suited for a particular prospect and that it’s time to move on. On the positive side this means that you then have more time to focus on the prospects that actually are a good fit. It also means that your clients will be more profitable and they will certainly be happier as well.

Speak Your Customer’s Language

Not everybody speaks the same language. Yes, in the business world we mostly speak English but that doesn’t mean that we process information the same way. Some people like to hear things while others want to read material. Some of us prefer in-person meetings, others would rather be on the phone, or prefer to mostly use email. Email is a good communications tool, for some the best, but not everybody is comfortable communicating that way. Understanding what communication style your prospect prefers and how they best digest information is essential when it comes to shortening your sales cycle.

Be of Value to Your Prospect/Customer

Remember, it’s not about you or your service/product – it’s all about them.  People respond to offerings that are relevant to them and can realistically help them move their business forward. If you don’t have something of value to say or offer, don’t even engage. That doesn’t mean that you should never call or reach out to your prospect or existing client, but it does mean that you should be prepared and have something of interest to say. Maybe you came across an industry article that you could share, or you have a special promotion. But don’t just engage for the sake of activity. It not only bogs you down, it is without value to your prospect or customer and it actually a waste of their time.

In closing, what is really important in shortening the sales cycle is moving from an activity driven model to a strategic approach where you plan and execute each step in your customer’s best interest.

I want to Change the Way We Sell. Period.

Posted on: December 3rd, 2013 by Monika 1 Comment

That’s my big Why? This revelation happened during a Deepak Chopra Meditation that I observed. Deepak’s question was “What is your vision?” and all of a sudden it occurred to me.

The reason I get up in the morning and excitedly do what I do is because I have this vision of Better Sales People, especially on a consultative sales environment. Everybody who has ever listened to TED speeches knows that everybody has a Why.  The Why is a reason why we do things and in my case it is elevating the reputation of sales and its practitioners and teaching sales people to be more effective. BUT, also to be more honest, to manage expectations and to understand that a “no” is not personal and sometimes it’s better to walk away.

But Why am I so passionate about this? I believe it is because I have been stuck in so many bad sales situations over the years. It’s a really tough place to be for both sides.

The sales person, desperately trying to sell something that the customer/client might not need. And for the person who is sold to it’s really uncomfortable and unpleasant at the same time. The only thought during this process is “how can I get out of this?”

And it really doesn’t have to be like that. Once a sales person understands that they don’t need to sell to everybody, as a matter of fact they really shouldn’t – it becomes really easy. In reality, they shouldn’t sell at all, but consult and guide.

Just let go of the pressure and help the client/customer make a decision. If it’s in their best interest to buy, then it’s a win-win situation. If not, move on to a better suited audience. It will save you time, it will help your reputation as a sales person and it will make your prospect comfortable.

When I started out in sales many, many years ago all I did was avoid the situations that left a bad taste in my mouth. It was really that simple. Well, that and then a lot of process, discipline and perseverance. But basically, it was remembering what I disliked about sales people and just not making the same mistakes.

Sometimes, the offering doesn’t really fit with your prospect’s needs. Other times, the timing is off or there are other internal circumstances that keep them from buying. It really doesn’t matter either way. If it’s not supposed to happen, it won’t. You can’t force a prospect to buy. All you can do is help them understand that your product/service will be of benefit and then it’s up to them to decide.

This stress-free and mature way of doing business will create an environment where sales people can be more honest, prospects will share authentic feedback and there will be no disappointment because honesty results in good relationships and good sales relationships result in good clients.

It’s really that easy.

6 Human Sales Traits that Technology cannot replace

Posted on: November 25th, 2013 by Monika No Comments

Everything in today’s business environment seems to be about technology, the latest developments, content marketing, microblogs, engagement, SEOs, etc.

Some companies have become over-systematized, as I call it. Everything and I mean everything is left to automation. Once the database is set-up and your name is entered you get emails on a regular basis whether they are relevant to your current need or not.

In a consultative sales environment technology should only be utilized to support the sales process, but never to replace it. People want to feel special and they don’t want to be viewed as a mass target.

Here are some examples of what technology lacks.

Common Sense

Common sense is the least common of the senses. I love that saying and it is so true. The more technology focused we become, the less we use our common sense. Why is that? Because we rely on it too often and feel that everything we need can be found on the internet. There are statistics that show that we are getting dumber and dumber. I would argue that we are also getting lazier. An argument over dinner that used to take hours to resolve (sometimes it wasn’t even resolved that night) can now usually be settled in a couple of minutes by somebody pulling out their smart-phone.

The Human Touch                                                                  

And by that I mean exactly that. The human touch. When you call on a prospect you can apply nuances to your voice, you can be compassionate and you can adjust your language.

Mass messages, even if they are targeted to specific audiences will always be static. Yes, you can add images and videos and animations, but the will never be personal. I get mass emails and messages all day and some of them are more relevant to my business than others, but they are never exactly what I am looking for, because I am one of many to receive them. There is also the trend to over-systematize and sales people rely on technology to help them make a sale rather than picking up the phone and talking to people.

Human Persuasion

In sales it is very important to overcome objections and to add value to your customer/client so they buy from you and choose your product or service. Content marketing is important for people to find out about your product/service and to make it easy for customers to find you. It is important to get your message out and to build brand awareness, but it cannot replace human interaction.

Most people today will research a product/service before they make a buying decision, but I would argue that people still like to buy from people and they will most likely buy from people they trust. Building trust takes time and it is a process that cannot be rushed or replaced by technology.

Quality Content

With all the hype about content marketing, we sometimes seem to forget that it’s actually content that drives content marketing. Guess who provides content? People! As I am sitting here writing this article I am wondering if there will ever be a technology that will produce quality content. I sure hope not. Not for self serving reasons but for the nuances which human beings can provide. I can’t help but think that computer or technology generated content would lack the subtlety of human writing. Who would be able to develop headlines that crown the New York Post (a newspaper that I hardly read beyond the headline) such as “Here We Ho Again” in response to Eliot Spitzer running for office again. Could a computer really come up with such a clever (although offensive) phrase? And what about sarcasm? I can tell you that I have yet to find a computer program that translates effectively, especially when it comes to humorous phrases or idioms.

Rationale

And by that I mean applying logic and knowledge. Let’s talk about database management, because to me it’s key to effectively engaging with prospects and customers. CRM systems are only as good as the data that is fed into them (which is the truth for all technology enabled solutions). GI-GO – Garbage in – garbage out, which brings me to over-systematizing without applying rational thinking and feedback. When managing a database you need to know who your target audience is, whether they are a client, a prospect  or a partner. If you don’t tag your contacts properly, your messaging will be off and it really doesn’t matter what technology you use.

Decision Making

Although, we all think that technology has made it so easy for us to do almost everything by itself, it’s really important to remember that making a decision is still something that humans need to do. While technology can help us build an opinion or stay informed, it’s still humans who make the decision to buy and people who are signing checks.

In closing, I want to add that I love technology. I really do. Like most of us, I would be lost without my computer, Smartphone and all the technology solutions that come with it. What we shouldn’t forget though is that technology doesn’t replace humans. Not yet, anyway and hopefully not any time soon.

In Sales: There’s Nothing to Fear, but Fear Itself!

Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by Monika No Comments

I sit in on many sales meetings with and for my clients and the focus is usually on numbers, prospects to pursue, accomplishments, etc. And while this is important, my belief is that it would be of additional help to management and sales teams if there were discussions about the “softer” areas of the sales process.

People buy from people and sometimes we don’t make numbers because there are deep underlying issues simmering. It’s hard to admit it, but we all have been afraid at times. Afraid to buy or afraid to sell. There is no shame in it. The sooner we understand the psychology of a process, the faster we will be able to face those feelings and to adjust our behavior. To borrow one of FDR’s most quoted statements that will forever hold true, ”There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

If you don’t overcome buyer fears, you won’t succeed.

We need to understand and acknowledge a buyer’s fears in order to help our clients and prospects overcome that feeling and move forward. The most common fears are:

Fear of Paying Too Much – It’s vital to understand how important a buyer’s perception is and how it can affect your success.  Clients and prospects alike want to know that they have been able to get close to your bottom line.

Fear of Change – The fear of change is a very real fear for many buyers.  When someone is comfortable with the product or service they have been using for years, making a change to a new product or service is threatening to most people.

Fear of What Others Will Say or Making a Mistake – I dare to say that almost all of us wish to avoid ridicule.  Most clients and prospects are going to make sure that if they move to a new product or service, there won’t be a negative focus on their decision by their peers or their boss.

What can you do to help your prospects and customers overcome Buyer Fears?

  • Fear of Paying Too Much
    • Obviously, no one wants to pay too much for a product or service. It’s vital to understand how important a buyer’s perception is and how it can affect your success. But what does it really mean to pay too much? Clients and prospects alike want to know that they have been able to get close to your bottom line.
    • So, how do you deal with this?  How you talk about price (or their overall investment) and how you negotiate is very important. When speaking about their investment, stress the overall value that they will receive instead of the benefits or features.
    • In negotiating, make sure that the buyer will give something in return for each concession that you make. You definitely want to maintain your price integrity. This also supports your goal of the buyer realizing you don’t have a lot of leeway to radically reduce pricing.
    • Learn with our Consultative Sales Certified Training Program how to truly stand out as a top negotiator with our e-Learning Module: Negotiating For Impact
  • Fear of Change
    • The fear of change is a very real fear for many buyers.  When someone is comfortable with the product or service they have been using for years, making a change to a new product or service is threatening to most people. Change is harder for some than others.
    • So, how would you be able to deal with this? Use persuasion strategies aimed at calming fears of change. Make use of strategies to gain commitments and close the sale that match your customer’s or prospect’s buying psychology.
    • Some buyers see value in retaining a major portion of what works well and only changing minor areas that call for improvement.
    • Others prefer to see major change and improvement but wish to keep some things that do work well
  • Fear of What Others Will Say or Making a Mistake
    • I dare to say that almost all of us wish to avoid ridicule.  Most clients and prospects are going to make sure that if they move to a new product or service, there won’t be a negative focus on their decision by their peers or their boss.
    • So, how can you deal with this? Stress how your product or service has helped other similar companies enhance and/or improve their products or services. Suggest a final meeting with your contact’s associates or supervisors to reassure that everyone is on board with the change.

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.

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!

Adjust your Treadmill Once in a While & Improve Your Sales

Posted on: September 3rd, 2013 by Monika No Comments

  I don’t like going to the gym, I really don’t. Lifting weights is OK, but going on the treadmill is almost punishment for me. I have to distract myself with music, conversations (if I have enough breath to come up for air) or just thinking about certain things that keep my mind occupied. For the longest time I was focusing on the speed and trying to make sure that I would increase my tempo in order to have the greatest impact. Then, a couple of years after torturous walks and runs, a very smart fitness trainer told me that it’s not all about speed, but also about the incline. He advised me to go slower and to steadily increase the incline. It builds muscle and stamina, he told me.

That’s when the light bulb went off for me. How often in life do we just run and run without adjusting and changing course?  I immediately thought of sales, especially consultative selling and how so many sales people run on flat surfaces, as fast as they can without ever adjusting the incline. What exactly do I mean by that?

When Prospecting Choose Quality over Quantity

It’s not about the number of calls – it’s about the quality. Think about it. What if sales people would take a step back and do their research before picking up the phone? They would be more effective, wouldn’t they? Utilizing LinkedIn and all other available on- and off-line sources is a great way to optimize your sales prospecting – or “adjust your incline”!

Sometimes making fewer calls can lead to better results. First off, you don’t sound like a broken record to yourself by the end of the day. More importantly though, when you are prepared you are in a better, position to actually have a conversation with your prospect – should you be so lucky that they pick up the phone. If not, just leave a meaningful voicemail instead of a particular script that is so often used.

When Presenting Use Engagement Rather than PowerPoint

There are still too many sales people who are trained and taught to rely solely on PowerPoint slide presentations. While a good presentation can certainly be of added value, very often it is an obstacle to engaging with your prospects. PowerPoint presentations are generally effective and I’d suggest using them when you have more than 4 people in a room. For smaller groups, or 1-on-1, I’ve experienced that it’s more effective to start a conversation, to engage and ask questions – and then LISTEN! If you still feel that a presentation or demo is necessary, you can always pull it up at a later point, just try a different route and see what the results are. You will be amazed how many “selling” opportunities you will find by just listening.

Be Natural Rather than Scripted

We all like people who are funny and natural. There is nothing wrong with making little mistakes, stumbling over your words or forgetting something as long as we catch ourselves and make reference to it. Nobody expects you to be “perfect” every single day and as long as the overall experience is professional, engaging and client-centered, there is nothing wrong with flaws. Quite honestly, I really appreciate people who admit that their technology isn’t working properly that very moment, or when they mention that the spot on their shirt or blouse is a result of their three year old spilling juice on them that morning. Professionalism doesn’t equal boring or stiff. Be yourself when reaching out to prospects or presenting, and people will gravitate towards you.

Change Things Up a Bit Once in a While

In closing, I find it’s really healthy and necessary to look at the way we do things on a daily basis and adjust course when necessary. Eating oatmeal instead of a bagel for breakfast could have an impact on your health and your waist line. Adjusting the incline on your treadmill will help you build muscles without being out of breath. Making smarter choices in sales will eventually result in increased revenue and it will also result in you having more fun which, in turn, will help your outlook on life in general.

Just think about the way you do things and mix it up once in a while.

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.