Sales Come Flooding If You Let Them – Sales eXchange 2240

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Truth

No one argues the need to listen in sales, as I have written about here before what you listen for is key. Sometimes it comes down to the question you ask; other time to how well you listen, eliminating distractions and not just listening to the client, but hearing what they are saying.

And while many talk about Active listening, they practice Selective listening; looking for cues to pitch and push their agenda over the buyer’s. Don’t get me wrong, the seller’s primary function is to sell, drive revenue for their company, while delivering value for both the buyer and their company. Key here being mutual value, not ours over the buyer’s, but that’s exactly where many sellers seem to end up.

There is just bad skills and manners, which can be corrected. Where it is really fatal is when the problem is rooted in the intent.

I have been working with a rep who needs help in being a better listener, I have been on a few meetings with the rep over the last couple of weeks, and I swear the rep would make more money if they got $10 for every time they didn’t let the buyer finish a sentence, then the actual commission that may result from the sale (which may not happen because they didn’t shut up long enough to let it happen).

The funny thing is that if you ask the right question, which this rep often did, a lot of truth and selling opportunities will present themselves, but you have to let. Back to intent, if you want to hear how you may maximize your opportunity with buyers, you have to let them tell you, and they will. But if your intent is to sell them something, a very specific something, there is no room for the truth or the buyer’s reality, it may interfere with what you want to sell. So many reps, like the one in question prevent thing from flowing.

The other way this rep and others prevent the truth from flooding, and creating sales, is by failing to get to the root of issues buyers put on the table. Many are good at asking initial questions, but then take the buyer’s initial response at face value and move on. The reality is that people, all of us, “say things”, especially if we have been asked similar questions by a number of sellers in a short span of time. Many responses are a lot like sound bites, and reps settle for that, others take the time to examine the issue from different angles, looking for ways to a) understand what the buyer is really saying; b) to see how they may educate the buyer to better address the buyer’s objectives. Of course the risk is that they may not have the depth for that discussion; their intent is to sell product, not to help clients achieve objectives. And it takes a bit more work than they are willing to do, again, intent; it is easier to cut the prospect off and limit the discussion to those selective facts that you feel you need to make the sale.

Asking the type of questions that get the facts to come flooding, and using that to create clients not only differentiates us from other sellers, but leads to more sales and longer client life cycles than any form of selective listening.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Share

Managers – Give Up Your Phone Addiction – Sales eXchange 2230

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Multi tasking Manager

With all the challenges sales professionals have to face in the field, the amount of tests they endure to their patience, it is sometimes disheartening when they are disrespected by their own colleagues, especially their front line managers.

One common example is managers who answer their phone, text, e-mail during a meeting with one of their direct reports, especially during scheduled coaching or review meetings. But this happens much more regularly than many think, and I suspect, more than many of the managers guilty of the act actually realise.

While many fancy themselves as being great multi-takers, few are, we are not built that way. While we may be able to talk on the phone and press the elevator button, we are not able to do really important tasks with any degree of real quality. And what can be more important than coaching and leading your team, those people who either make you look good or real bad based on how they perform. There is no doubt on occasion, let me repeat, once in a while, something really important will come up to disturb a meeting with a team member, but I am talking about the other time.

How many times have you sat there in you managers office, and they are checking their e-mail as you speak, first on their desktop monitor and then on their smartphone just for good measure. They answer the phone, flashing the obligatory smile and the one minute gesture, which only adds to their insincerity and effectiveness as a leader.

It is bad enough that sales people to endure this type of thing in the field, they should not face it in their managers’ office. Sales people put up with people answering their phones only to tell them that they are in a meeting. Given all the tools available to people today, the overwhelming pervasiveness of caller ID and voice mail, it is hard to understand why people would answer a phone from an unknown number while they are in a meeting, unless of course they are sales managers meeting with a member of their team.

Sales people also have to put up with this in meeting with prospects, fidgeting about with their electronic pacifiers, or modern day worry-beads. While one can argue that if the prospect is so disengaged a rep should move on, it is also true that many are behind quota and see any meeting as a meeting, I guess they need to look at the outcome to come to their own conclusion. But in the end it should not be a scene they have to deal with internally with their manager, especially when the time was scheduled for them to be coached.

As an aside, I often wondered when I called someone and they tell me that they are in a meeting, whether I work my magic and get them to engage, or it is a short call, I wonder what the other person in their office feels like at the time, how fast are their priorities fading?

I remember I had a boss who felt he needed to be involved in everything, right then and there, the phone would not ring a second time before he answered it. I remember he would take a call while meeting with me, then answer his mobile when that rang, what a circus. The next time I was meeting with him and he answered his phone, I got up and walked out, I think the first time he did not even notice he got so involved in the call. The next time he looked up and asked “Where are you going?” “You must be busy, I got things to get done, and I don’t want to hold you up.” After that he never answered the phone while meeting with me.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

What’s Your Question? – Sales eXchange 2150

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

iStock_000004159256XSmall

Most would agree that questions are the most powerful weapon; a seller has at their disposal. Yet it is interesting to see how many will either not use them at all, or to their full advantage. As with any weapon, practice is key, not just on the battlefield, but off the field as well, the better you become at the technique the better the outcome for both you and your buyer.

But day after day you see sellers come to play with either the wrong questions, dull questions or just plain stupid questions.

Some questions are so self-serving they leave buyers just depressed and so reluctant to answer, because they know that the “correct”, not the right, answer will just extend a bad selling experience. A couple of weeks ago I had someone trying to sell me a piece of technology that would “just rock my sales”. After a few set up statements, he highlighted the areas that he was claiming his app would help, and then he used one of my most hated forms of question: “Wouldn’t you agree that blah blah blah would be a good thing?” In this case knowing what the prospect was thinking about the presentation. It is a no win situation for the buyer, and everyone knows it. Yes it would be good to know that, but if I pick that obvious answer it does not mean that your app can do it, or more importantly that I want, like or am remotely interested in your app; but if I provide the “correct” answer, I am committing to play the stupid game – or – trap. So I decided to take the less painful route and said no. Which highlights another misuse of questions, no follow up to the “no”; they are all set for the “yes”, because it is the logical answer, but throw in a “no” at the right (wrong) time, and watch the void, in their eyes, sales and pipeline.

This is sadder (funnier) than we think, all it takes is a little practice to know how you will handle any of the potential responses to your question. After all, as sales people we are usually in the advantageous position of asking the first question in most selling situation (if you are not asking the first question 99% of the time, then you are an order taker not a sales person); given that, you should figure out in advance what the answers potentially may be, and then plot a course for each one, except the one where the prospect disqualifies themselves, then just work on replacing them.

People answer the question they are asked, extrapolating that to mean things you “need” them to be can be a mugs game. Avoid this in two simple ways. First make sure that ask a number of validating follow through questions, get to the root of the issues, and don’t just linger at the surface. Second, come at the issue from a number of different angles, things can be interpreted differently by different people based on their views and experiences. By exploring the issue from a few different viewpoints will ensure an understanding, and that you are really working with someone in a position to buy. It may take time and effort up front, but it beats getting one right answer but no sale.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Is it Ever The Right Time? – Sales eXchange 2083

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Clocks head

If you prospect regularly, a common push back you get from potential buyers is “it’s not a good time”, or “the timing is wrong”, or any variations on that theme.  In some instances it makes sense, calling an accounting firm in the March April timeframe, or a school supply company in August; these are times those companies are busy executing, having made purchase decisions much earlier in the cycle.

With only 15% or so of your market being in play, that is actively out there “buying”, and 70% being in what is commonly called Status Quo, ostensibly not looking, it is a safe bet that 70% of the “time” the timing is not right.  I say ostensibly, because there is a lot of opportunity and buyers to be found in that large group called Status Quo, the fact that they are satisfied with their current state, does not mean they won’t buy, no matter what some pundits tell you.  Satisfied is a long way away from ecstatic; there is a lot of room for improvement and your offering between those two points, don’t settle for satisfied.  The problem is that too many sales people allow the statement about timing to throw them off or give up on an opportunity, not just for themselves, but for the buyer, and by extension the buyer’s company and objectives.

“75% of customers who leave or switch vendors for a competitor, when asked, say they were ‘satisfied or completely satisfied’ with the vendor they left, at the time they switched.”  ‘Customer Loyalty Guaranteed’ Bell & Patterson

What the Status Quo prospect is saying is that they don’t have time to waste on another value proposition, or you history of accomplishments.  They want to know how to move past satisfied, which you could do if you could surface their objectives, and what they feel is in the way.

For those 70% of the time where by definition your timing is “not good”, you need to counter it in a way that acknowledges your understanding of their statement, but allows you to put the onus on them not to prevent that from them taking action.  Left to their own devices, it will never be the right time until it is too late, they go to market, and you are part of a crowd willing to drop their pants and sell at a discount.  Not for you, the time is now.

The simplest and most effective way to do that is to move the discussion off time and on to their objectives.  Understanding why people buy, why they have bought from you and/or your company is key, and one of the great benefits of reviewing all deals, wins, losses, and draws.

You can start and create a gateway by asking “is it ever a good time?  With all the things we have on the go, it is difficult to have time for everything.” Pause, and using the above, and specifics tied to your market and offering, “if you had to create time, and complete the number one item on your list, what would that be?  At the same time, what’s something that you could drop from that list without much impact on your business?”

By listening with an open mind and a blank canvas, you can begin to understand and discuss what their priorities and objectives are, and how you can impact those.  As with most prospecting calls, the goal is to secure an appointment, not to sell, this will put you in a position to assess the opportunity and secure an appointment.  You’ll have a sense as to objectives and current barriers, and how you may add value.

As with most things in sales it is not 100% full proof and is usually done hand in hand with other steps that need to be executed, but it will allow you take a common objection and turn it into a sales call.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Win Tickets to see Tony Robbins in Toronto – July 24!

ROO vs. ROI2

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

ROO

Everyone is familiar with ROI – Return On Investment, sales people love to talk about, buyers (and their CFO’s), love to hear about it, and even more, love to achieve and validate a return on their investment.  But much like solution selling, after the shine wore off a bit, buyers became more hip to ROI discussions, sellers abused the concept, stating high often unattainable numbers that represented the highest ROI achieved by one or a few buyers rather than the average ROI received by most.  Buyers demanded real ROI calculations, not projected best case scenarios, having been jaded by too many flowery ROI projection, and almost as many misses in outcome.   Buyers now expect, no demand, ROI with teeth.

Perhaps a better measure of return, would be to measure the Return On Objectives – ROO.  While it may be true that return on investment may be a more objective measure of success, people are not entirely objective, unless they are Mr. Spock, but he is not people.  We tend to be more subjective, and as most sales people know emotional.

We’ve all seen people make and rationalize questionable decisions and actions, and when it comes to numbers they have all fudged a decimal or two.  When the numbers add up fine, but if there is a gap, if you are not the lowest cost provider, if it may take a three more months to get pay back with your offering than another, you need to bring other factor to help them make the right decision.

People take pride in achieving, in accomplishing what they set out to do, we have all seen people high five all over the place when they successfully realize what they set out to do.  By bringing in the power of ROO, you can get a buyer to stretch and buy the better more costly, and right solution.

If you can help a buyer exceed expectations in ways that go beyond the numbers, you can enhance the perception of the outcome.  Focusing on ROO gets the buyer emotionally invested throughout the cycle.  From information exchange, to closing, to execution.  When they emotionally invested they will work with you in so many more ways, than when it is strictly down to the numbers.  Especially when expectations around those numbers are missed.

The work is in surfacing the real objectives and expectations, working out the gaps and obstacles they face.  As you remove those gaps, or remove hurdles, the client can see progress towards their goal, and get that much more committed.  That is the work in sales.  Executed right, this is much more powerful than focusing on outcomes you have delivered for others, because it is “their” objectives, not someone else’s.

Let’s be clear, you can’t get away from delivering ROI, or having to demonstrate capabilities and past successes, but tying things to their specific objective, and measuring returns on those will give you the unfair advantage you seek.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

You Should Lead With Price – Sales eXchange 2072

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

If sales were presented as a play, the typical flow would seem to be: segment, identify, qualify, engage, discovery, gain commitment, negotiate and close. Somewhere towards the latter part of “gain commitment” and “negotiate”, the issue of price becomes central to the plot, in fact with some sellers “negotiate” is really just a code word for “price haggling”.  This would explain why so many sales these days are won or lost on price, especially when “discovery” is rushed or executed in a cookie-cutter way.

The plan (I guess), is build value (place your methodology here, ours is good too), and align to price. The frustration for many is that they may not know the relative role of price till late in the game, especially when there is a low cost provider in the mix.  Wouldn’t it be better if you could learn if price will be the breaking factor much earlier in the play?

That’s the catch 22 of selling I guess, if you don’t build value you can’t justify or rationalize the price; on the other hand, you could spend time and energy building value and be defeated by price. What’s a seller to do?

Well, why not lead with price?

Counter-intuitive, maybe? Risky? Could be, but most things worth archiving involve a level of risk.  The opportunity and skill is in managing the risk and finding the balance where calculated risk consistently rewards the risk taker.

This is not to say that your meetings should start:

“Hi I am George, with ACME Solutions, the price is $42,000, plus 20% annual maintenance fee, ready to go?”

But there may be merit to putting price front and centre much earlier in the process. There is an element of this accepted, if not always executed, by many sellers in the form of exploring budget; in terms of its existence, availability, control and commitment.   But budget is different than price, how many times have you been able to check all the tick marks around budget but still lose on price?

But what if we did introduce process earlier?  The reality in many instances, the price is based on some formula, be it unit based or other elements, and sellers have a sense of what a deal is worth early in the play.  Before you protest the last statement in an effort to seem above the fray, go look at yours or any other forecast.  So why not put it on the table, and make it a way of introducing, driving and accelerating the value discussion.  After all, if they object to the price at that point you can get to the heart of the matter by asking them what they base their remarks on.  It is a great way to go to the real value discussion.  As both price and value are relative, you can find out what they see as value in their reaction to the price.

You can then use all the tools and techniques you would normally use to build value, but this time it can be much more collaborative.  The key is not think of it as defending the price, but as a mutual and collaborative value definition.  In the course of executing it, you can uncover objectives, separate needs from wants and a range of other things that make for a successful sale.  All without the suspense of the traditional ending.

As with most things in sales, we can stick to the same old, or so called fresh techniques that are the same old in new packaging.  Or you can try something that will not only differentiate you, the way you sell, and most importantly the outcome.

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

Conditions Are Not Objections (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

In the heat of a sale, it is sometimes easy to confuse a condition to the sale with an objection.  The key is to understand what you are really dealing with, and respond accordingly.  Done right, it could solidify the sale and the resulting relationship with the buyer.

Take a look, then download the Objection Handling Handbook, and let me know your thought.

Objection Condition

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

A Reactive and Bad Way to Deal with Objections (#video)1

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

There are times when an objection is not what it seems, but by treating it as an objection we could inadvertently create a scenario and situation that is risky when it didn’t have to be.  Often, prospects’ questions at critical points in the sale sound like objections, when they are just the buyer thinking out loud.

Sellers need to slow down, step back assess, then deal with the situation, statement in a way appropriate for that situation.

Take a look at what I mean.  Then download the Objection Handling Handbook.

Object -reactive

What’s in Your Pipeline
Tibor Shanto

wordpress stat