I Made a Sales Mistakes, Have You? And then What…?0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Mistake

Seems it is a week of posts about sales mistakes, Monday I discussed a mistake made by a company trying to sell to me. Today, it is one of my mistakes that takes centre stage.

We all make mistakes, it is a trait of being human. The real opportunity is in how you deal with mistakes you make. The fellow I discussed Monday choose not to do anything about his, below is an example of a recent one I made, and how I dealt with it. What was a sales mistake you made in the course of selling and what did you do about it?

Last week I made a fatal, or near fatal error. I had sent a prospecting note to senior executive, and I let the auto-correct get the better of me, as a result I got the individual’s name wrong, interestingly enough their name is a common vocation, and I allowed the phone to replace it with another common vocation starting with the same letter. Not excusable, I should have caught it, I messed up with a capital F. With a name like Tibor, you can imagine I get my name rearranged on a regular basis.

The individual in question wrote back chastising me for the error, pointing out getting the name right was Sales 101. I don’t blame them for doing so, but it occurred to me that my mistake was not related to Sales 101 at all.

Sales 101 in my experience relates to actually acting, as in the act of proactive prospecting, acting on an idea, or acting in a way that gets the results you set out to get.

On a daily basis I hear sales people say they can’t do this, or can’t do that; I sometimes get the sense that what they are really saying is wont. I also hear that they find it difficult to get in front of their prospect, they can’t write to senior executive, “e-mail don’t get a response, they are never opened.”

Well clearly the one I sent was opened, otherwise my mistake would not have gone unseen, the technique works, one point for me, let’s keep using it. The goal of having a call was not eliminated, and whatever the ultimate outcome, their response allowed me to address my mistake. I apologised directly for my error, no excuses, humanize the process, and continue on. A case of taking lemons and making lemonade, I’ll let you know whether my intended prospect adds some sweetener, I suspect not, but I did my part.

My Question To You:

What was a sales mistake you made that you had a chance to deal with in a positive way, and snatch success where others may not have? Leave a comment below, or send a tweet to @TiborShanto.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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Sales Tactic: Using Your Own Brand0

CC Dec 2013

The Pipeline Guest Post - Megan Totka

Does everyone in your company, whether in the sales arena or not, use the products and services that your company offers? If they aren’t, they should be. If you want your customers to use a product, you’ve got to be a strong brand representative and utilize your products in your everyday life as well.

Now, if you are in sales for a wine company, am I saying that you should drink that wine exclusively? No. But if you are selling this type of wine, you need to be able to talk about its features honestly, and it’s best if personal experience is where you’re getting your information from.

I came across an interesting article that talked about salespeople who were pitching CRM software to companies. At the end of each sales pitch, the company that was hiring the CRM firm would ask the potential hire to input the sales report from their mobile device into their CRM system. Only 5 out of the 7 could actually input the information – it seems that the other two, while probably a good face for the company, couldn’t actually use the software.

So how do you avoid being one of the companies to fail the test of using your own product or service? Here are some ways to make your sales pitch stand out by using your product and services yourself:

  • Make sure that all of your salespeople are well-versed in your product’s everyday uses. This is the most important thing to consider – what do you sell. While it may be tempting to let someone who is really good at sales just do the pitch, they really do need to know how to use the product and service themselves as well. Plus, if they know the product, they’ll be better suited to answer questions on your products uses – making the sale more personal and less salesy/rehearsed.
  • Consider putting together a list of the features that your product has that other don’t. Then when you give this list to prospective clients, remind them to compare other companies that they interview to make sure that they have all of the same abilities. Or to make it really easy on prospective clients, compare what your product has with your competitors and show what they’re missing that you have.
  • Encourage your sales force to be honest if they don’t know something. Instead of trying to come up with an answer on the fly, have them tell potential customers that they would like to get them a more thorough answer. While it’s best to have everyone know everything about how your product or service works, memorizing every last detail can be tough.

If you want to easily sell customers your product, it’s best to start using it yourself. How has using your product or services helped your sales?

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

It Is About The Realization Not The Need – Sales eXchange 2290

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

I had some interesting feedback to a recent post on my blog The Pipeline, titled Is BANT Helping You Lose Sales?   The gist of the piece was that many put an over emphasis on “need”, and thereby limit their success. (There is so much more to it, you really should read it).  Two in particular stood out, one gave the argument I was making further context, and the other added a layer that provides clearer focus to those willing to apply the line of thought.

First was the feedback relating to a point I touched on, specifically the role of BANT in the sale, I mentioned that it is a means of qualifying a buyer or opportunity. But the reader took it further in an important way. They pointed out that many forget that BANT is for qualifying, and instead use it as means of selling. By doing that they fall into the trap outlined in the piece, specifically, since BANT is focused on needs, it limits one’s ability to sell to those who don’t immediately have or perceive a need. For qualifying it works because it highlights areas that must be present if you are to achieve a sales. While a buyer may have budget, authority, and has a record of acting in a timely way, but may not have a real or perceived need. They will always have objectives, but not always have a realized need associated with those objectives. Without that need, BANT fails as a means of selling, even while helping you qualify (or disqualify).

That’s where the second comment picks up, it highlighted the fact that by taking the focus off the need, and putting it squarely on the buyers’ objectives, the conversation will inevitably lead back to need. For successful sales people it is about the realization, not the need. By focusing on the buyer’s objectives, you open a line of discussion that surfaces what those objectives are, and people love talking about themselves, their plans and aspirations. Remember to explore both the ‘personal’ and ‘organizational’ objectives.

A simple and proven way to start this is to simply ask: “If we were sitting here 18 months from now and you were telling me that you and the team had hit a grand slam, what would that look like?” In framing the question that way, you not only introduced a timeframe, but allowed them to look beyond their current state, and describe their ‘ideal’ state. Once they have completed telling you, ask, “So I am curious, why aren’t we there now?” And that is when the realization comes, as they tell you what stands between them and their stated objectives, the obstacles and gaps, in essence telling you and them what they “need” to get there. That’s the realization takes someone from status quo, the majority of the market, to engaged prospect. Not the need, but the realization, the acceptance, and the energy in realizing that they can in fact achieve their objectives, and achieve them with your help. Without realization, there is no need.

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What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Voice Mail Week Part III – The Technique and why It Works! (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

In Part I and Part II of this trilogy we looked at context, and how there is more to voice mail than just the message and getting a call back.  So now it is time to reintroduce the technique.  I say reintroduce, because I have shared it before, and as you may have gleaned there was some push back and even more misunderstanding of how and why to execute it.

I suspect that there will be push back again, and I invite the challenges and feedback of all quality from all sources.  The one ask that I do have is: try it before you knock it, a few times, give yourself a chance to succeed.  Try it the way it is presented, no variation, no improvisation.  If you do improvise, and it works for you, great, share what you did, we can all learn.  If you do improvise and it does not work, I refer to the small print, which basically states that we stand by our method, good luck with yours.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Mastering the Cross-Sell2

CC Jun 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Diana Doherty

“Would you like to add batteries to your purchase?” Nearly everyone has encountered this type of cross-sell. It’s an easy way to increase the sale of anything that requires battery power. The basics of cross-selling, like offering necessary components to an item, are no secret. Take your sales up a notch with master cross-selling techniques.

Important Distinction
Cross-selling and up-selling both result in a larger total purchase in one sale, but they involve different techniques. In an up-sell, you will talk your customer into buying a better, generally more expensive, version of the item they intended to purchase. When you cross-sell, you give customers the opportunity to choose complementary items or services to their purchase. A common example is the extended warranty offered on a product at the time the product is purchased.

Just about every sale is an opportunity for cross-selling. Some methods of creating additional sales are effective in just about any situation (as in the battery example). However, other ways of getting those related sales will differ depending on whether your customer is buying online or at a brick-and-mortar location. With online shopping, you can use all the data about a person’s shopping experience to offer them items they will probably want, even if those other items are unrelated to the original purchase.

Making the Cross
The many ways of offering additional items to your customers can be overwhelming. You may even be concerned too many offers will chase away a sale. Customers appreciate recommendations. Take advantage of the times and places it makes sense to let them know about accessories or other items to help them get more out of a purchase.

  • Tailor Recommendations: If a customer is buying a brand new guitar, it would make more sense to offer guitar picks than a violin bow. Whether online or off, make sure the items you’re cross-selling make sense based on what your customer is purchasing or has purchased in the past.
  • Encourage Customer Reviews and Expert Opinions: One of my favorite ways of finding a new book to read is to check out all the little staff recommendation postcards bookstores post. Whether you collect thousands of reviews per product, like Amazon.com®, or you post a single expert opinion, trustworthy opinions can help you cross-sell by convincing the customer they need an item.
  • Get Timing Right: Spontaneous purchases are most likely to happen if you present an item to the customer at the time of purchase. This is most obvious online with recommended items displayed before finalizing a purchase, and offline with register displays including commonly forgotten items like those batteries.
  • Implement a Post-Purchase Cross-Sell: Use the confirmation email online or the receipt in a brick-and-mortar to offer items accessories and other tailored offers. This is also a good time to offer a small discount or a coupon to the customer on those recommended items, further increasing the likelihood of a future purchase.
  • Offer Budget Bundles: Another popular way to cross-sell is to offer a group of items together. Cable and cellular companies have practically built entire business models from this method. When bundling, all items should have value to the customer, or they’ll likely pass it up.
  • Be Price Considerate: Cross-sells are most effective when they cost half-price or less than the original purchase. Again, this falls naturally in line with accessories to a product, like a screen protector, case, and stylus recommended during the purchase of a tablet. The price of these items is so much less than the tablet that the value of the items becomes more significant than the additional cost.
  • Listen to the Customer: Whether you are personally listening to a customer speak or tracking their online past purchases, really listening to what your customer needs will tell you everything you need to know to offer them cross-sells that make sense and meet their needs.

Customers will appreciate recommendations given with genuine attention to their needs. You’re more likely to close the cross-sell when you offer useful additional items instead of a “top sellers” list of unrelated items or things that are too expensive compared to the original purchase. Track your success with each of these methods and adjust them as needed to master cross-selling to your customers.

About Diana Doherty

Diana Doherty is a freelance writer specializing in SEO content, and is a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She loves all things tech, photography, craft, military family life, and business. She earned her BA in English Writing Arts from SUNY Oswego.

Small Talk Is For Small People – Sales eXchange 2040

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

David and G

When I talk to sales people about how they start sales meetings with new potential buyers (first time they meet), most (not all) tell me they “break the ice with some small talk”, then they “get in to it!”  We’ll leave the getting into it for another time, what I don’t get is the “small talk” bit, I am not sure that in the current format, as practiced by most sellers is effective, necessary, and at times can be risky to the opportunity.

I am antisocial, (although some have accused me), but spending time talking about the weather, or the useless season the local sports team is having seems counterproductive to the goal of the exercise, helping the buyer move closer to their objectives, and yours.  And while the people buy from people crowd may want to pounce on me, wait.  You can “break the ice”, and set the mood without having to resort to pointless gibberish.

The buyers are all busy, as I should think you are, you obviously said something that caused them to invest an hour of their time with you, it is up to you to maximize the ROT  for both.  Getting to the point may not the worst strategy.  Some buyers may make you feel that they required “small talk”, but that is more conditioning than anything else, if you deliver value by the end of a successful meeting, they will not complain about not having their time wasted.

I am also not suggesting that you jump right into the deep end, I know that the “void” walking between the reception area and the office or meeting room has to be filled, it is how you fill it that can differentiate you from the others.

As you are doing research ahead of your meeting, look for recent events, announcements, or analyst coverage, not specifically related to your product, but significant for the company and or the person you are meeting.  A while back I was meeting with a dairy company that was the first to introduce Omeg3 into a line of product, to accentuate the launch, they introduced a beveled edged carton so it would look different from the other milk cartons on the shelf.

On “the walk” from reception, I asked how the packaging was received, changes they had to make to production, and were they looking to use packaging as a differentiator way with other products.  While this had nothing with what we were meeting about, it indicated to the buyer that I came prepared, that I was taking an interest in the entire business, not just the part I can sell to, and I can relate the benefit of my offering to the other responsibilities he had.  In return, the information he shared with me about the above, helped me refine and better position my value vis-à-vis his objectives.  Small talk, yes, but it beat talking about snow in March or the fact that the Leafs were going to miss the playoffs again.

While we think we are being social with small talk, it can and does often come up being hollow, unimportant, and does not move things forward even one millimetre, in which case, what’s the point.  It is also interesting that many people who don’t like the small talk when they are buyers, rely on it when they are sellers.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

It Is Personal0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

The Happiness of Pursuit

One questionable piece of advice sellers are given is not to take “things personally”. While I understand the sentiment behind it, encouraging sellers to not go down a dark hole, there is something wrong with telling professional sales people, in fact professionals of any type, not to take it personally. The reality is that part of successful selling is conviction, not just in your ability to add value to the buyer, but and in how you sell. It is hard to have that and not be passionate about selling, and as soon as passion is involved, it also becomes personal.

Certainly there are parts of the sales cycle that you can remove yourself somewhat from the emotions of the sale, usually during the prospecting stage, especially if you are a proactive rather than a passive prospector. When you first reach out to a potential buyer they don’t know you from Adam, and the goal is to get them engaged. Initial rejections are more situational than directed; meaning that they are not rejecting you as an individual, but what you represent, an interruption. But as you get engaged and are working through the sale, you get more emotionally involved, things do become a lot more personal.

It is that emotional involvement that often allows you to go deep with a buyer. Passion and enthusiasm are contagious, and it’s something you want your buyers to catch. After all, we are constantly reminded that people buy on emotion, then rationalize their decision, so it only helps if you are going to connect with the buyer on that level as well.

A more workable and realistic goal is to understand that you do need to get involved on a number of levels, that it does get personal, and that you need to be able to deal with and manage the outcomes whether they go your way or not. The ability to step back, assess the circumstance, and move on to the next sale. No different than the expectation and practice in professional sport.

By assessing the outcome you achieve a number of positives that help with the personal aspect. First you can evaluate how well you did execute you plan and process and understand why perhaps you lost the deal. I say perhaps, because there isn’t always a clear answer all nicely wrapped, if the result of the assessment is ambiguous, you will still have to deal with the outcome and move on.

But if the analysis of the deal and outcome are not ambiguous, then you are in a great position to learn, both what you want to repeat and to accentuate moving forward, and what to avoid and improve. While this may not take away the sting of a lost deal, it does help you benefit in some way, cope, and have a reason to give it another go with your new insight.

It is very much the emotion we bring at sellers that helps us win deals where most all other things are equal. It is precisely then that you need to go deep, and leave yourself open to disappointment, and yes it does become personal precisely because of that; and given the opportunity I would advise you to get emotionally involved and deal with the outcome win or lose. After all, they only give you the advice about it not being personal when you lose, it seems they are OK with it being personal when you win.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Time To Grow Up – Sales eXchange 1980

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

grow up

When my kids were young and they would wish for something not real, or as a way to avoid a task, like “I wish I didn’t have to clean my room”, “I wish I could grow up to be a princess”, their grandmother always responded by saying “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride”.  It’s interesting how that expression has great significance and application to many sales people and sales advisors, all now grown-ups.

I am speaking specially of advice doled out by some sales pundits that serves more to placate and patronize readers than help them improve their selling skills and success, delivering clichés and politically correct feel good myth, instead of proven and practical road tested advice based on experience.  While we all want to make our audience feel good, I think it is more important to provide pragmatic advice that yields measurable results, even when it requires effort on the part of the reader and will often force them from their comfort zones.  I for one do not see a problem in challenging readers and sellers, and do not apologize for creating some discomfort in helping them succeed.  Much better than some of the sugar coated buzzword riddled schmaltz others seem to be peddling in an effort to make sellers feel good and allow them to rationalize their lack of effort, inventiveness and results.  But as we all know sugar highs don’t last.

If you are wondering why I am on about this, it’s because once again I have someone taking a shot at my often debated, never disproven voice mail technique, not because it doesn’t work, it does, but because it does not appeal to their “sensibilities”, a sensibility that leads to no returned calls.  As usual the technique is misrepresented, making it easier to cast in a questionable light, they then schmear a load of subjectivity mixed with value judgment, and raising but not speaking to the specifics of words like “trust” or “ethics”.

The reality is that there are no absolutes in sales, nothing works all the time, every time, most things don’t work most the time, so when you have a technique that proves to be 30% – 50% effective, you have something worth adopting.  What’s more, while the technique may seem counter intuitive at first, those who try it, report back a consistent success rate.  Recently there was a debate in a LinkedIn group, there were many who questioned the technique, who once they tried it, liked it, mostly because it got them call backs and appointments.

Most recently, the technique was again misrepresented, and labeled asinine.  I bet I can find some internal memos at most record companies dating back to 10 years ago that called iTunes an asinine way to sell and consume music.  I bet there were some Blockbuster folks who called Netflix asinine.  Interestingly few are willing to challenge it head on.  One challenger was invited to debate the technique on “This Week In Sales” webcast, but declined, I wonder why; not the worst thing, I had the whole show to myself.

As an industry, “sales enablers”, we keep highlighting the fact that only 50% of B2B reps make quota, well what is our role in that?  If we do not push them to better themselves by trying, new, alternative, and yes at times outlandish but effective methods.  We should challenge our audience, not just dust off the edges of tired techniques that play to the emotion of the reader even while ignoring the fact that what is being peddled are just retreads with new labels.

In the end it is down to the reader, our consumer, they choose how they want to make or not make quota.  In the end the readers are like we the pundits, some know what is Shinola, and what’s not.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Unlearn To Earn2

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Unlearn

There is an ongoing debate as to whether training, specifically sales training, is effective and whether it truly delivers results over the long run. As you would expect there usually10 more opinions than there are participants at any given time, and as it is with most things in sales there is no absolute or right answer. But there some basic that when followed, will deliver measurable improvement in both execution and results.

There is one fundamental that you need to embrace, not a silver bullet, but a simple practice that will facilitate the adoption of new skills, methodologies, and practices that will ensure continuous learning, improvement and results as measure in revenues/clients gained.  This is the ability to unlearn.

This is not always easy and somewhat counterintuitive, we have always been taught to accumulate knowledge build on our experience.  While this may be true in the broader aspects of life, when it comes to selling it doesn’t work so well.  There are only some many things we can bring to play in a given sale, and if we do not make room for new ideas and practices, it will be hard to learn them, practice them and ultimately benefit from them.

By unlearning dated or ineffective practices we not only make room for new methodologies, we train the mind to reach beyond its current limitations.  As we replace the old with newer or reformatted ideas, we stimulate even greater progress as the new blends with the existing, and leads to new combinations that continue to be refined as we put them into practice, in this case the results do evolve beyond the sum of the two.  While you can refine existing practices, there is no denying that if you don’t change the fundamentals, you are not likely to change the whole.  If we don’t unlearn, we not only create clutter in the mind, we create a stagnant environment where while we do accumulate knowledge, we at the same time prevent ourselves from putting it into practice and improving our skills and ultimate results.

We have all met that rep who has read the latest best seller, attended the most up-to-date Sales 8.0 conference, can speak all the right buzzwords, and be proficient at the latest apps and gizmos; while they have everything going, everything but making sales and quota.  As you work with them you quickly realize that they spend all their time, energy and creativity stacking things, rather than combining the right elements to succeed in selling.  One analogy is urban redevelopment, you can keep building up, or you can selectively raze existing structure to make way for improvement; again making space for the new, creating a more vibrant environment.

I paraphrase the old saying that what you are doing now is perfect for the results that you are attaining.  The reality of sales is what you achieve this year will not be enough next year.  While everyone will tell you that the only certainties in life are death and taxes, well if you are a seller there is a third, your quota will grow next year.  I can confidently guarantee that you will not get any more time to deliver those quotas, your only option is make room for new skills, by unlearning some unused, space and thought consuming old ones.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

 

See The Art of Sales Live – #Contest0

Art of 2013

Enter To Win Today & Take advantage of A Special Offer!

Well boys and girls it is contest time again, yes it has been a while.  This contest is to win tickets to the The Art of Sales…, Canada’s foremost sales conference, taking place in Toronto, January 29, 2013.  This year’s list of speakers includes: Jeffrey Gitomer, Dr. Robert Cialdini, Joe Navarro, Scott Stratten, Michael Vickers, and Richard Robbins.  You can get all the details AND Special Offer by clicking here, don’t forget to use the code RENBOR to get your special pricing.

But wait, you could win tickets for this great event, right here from Renbor and The Pipeline.  So here is the deal, fill in the form below, especial the big box, because that’s how we’ll pick the winner.

What we are looking for is what’s the one challenge you have in sales today that you are determined to overcome by next January, 2014.  Could be better questioning, better prospecting, overcome call reluctance, etc., and how that will impact your success.  If you are a manger or other sales leader, do this for your team.  Best answers win tickets to the conference.

Looking forward to reading the responses may the best seller win!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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