businessman on the beach

Dog Sales Of Summer1

Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Given that we are right in the middle of summer, and that today is a holiday long weekend here in Toronto, my mind naturally drifted to a summer theme, no doubt helped by things I’ve consumed by poolside. Looking around the water’s edge, you begin to see things here that remind one of sales. I was going to start with bikinis, but I got tagged by the Politically Correctness Police (PCP) last week, so we’ll save that for below.

There is no denying that vacations and other factors lead to summer slowdowns, but that may be just what you need on deals that may have stalled in Q1 or Q2. It’s important to remember that this has internal implications for your prospects as well that you may be able to leverage to restart discussions and the stalled deal. First thing to understand is why is it stalled, at a high level what changed if anything. If their objectives have changed, then any decisions related to that objective will be put on hold. The good news is that many long term objectives do not change as often as some tactical plans. The stall is usually in the how “we get there”, not “where we’re going and why”.

It is entirely possible for objectives to remain steady while tactical plans change. At times the initial path considered may not prove to be optimal, and while they review or adjust, everything gets put on hold, but not everything gets changed or replaced. In fact, it is during these “stalls” that you can step into the void and take on the role of a Subject Matter Expert. When you do, you can circle back with more than “I’m just following up”.

Instead of looking for the deal to be back on, you need to first help them recommit to their objectives. This allows you to be a resource to help them get “unstalled”. In my own practice I had a client that acknowledged they wanted to use my services, but had a number of obstacles that had to be dealt with, and it was clear that they weren’t going to do it on their own, given the number of people and strong opinions. Changing gears, I worked with their VP of Strategy to set up a meeting at a hotel around the block, the meeting was advertised as an objective review session, seemed like the right time of year for an “off-site”.

It was clear that not only had their objectives did not change, they were all still committed to them. But there were some lesser “departmental things that loomed large when they each sat in their office, but paled when on the whiteboard with the bigger more important objectives. This made it easy to not worry about the lesser things and refocus on the bigger objective. Without this I would still be working the deal.

Once you confirm that the objective(s) has remained in place, you can pivot to helping them unclutter things, refocus them on the impacts on their business they set out to achieve, and how that is only a gateway to further success. This approach is often more likely to be considered during the summer lull rather than when the pace is hectic. What else you gotta do?

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The Power of Why > How – Part 20

Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Monday I wrote about the power of the Why > How one-two punch.  Rather than doing the conventional probing around the decision process, who is involved, what are the steps, are there steps defined or is it ad-hock, etc.  Ask anyone if they are the ones to make the decision, and they’ll likely say yes, ask about Why and How the current vendor was selected, and you may find a different scenario, with additional and at times more important players that will have to be engaged to get the decision you want.  But that’s just the start, you can leverage Why > How, in a more granular way to give you further insights about the buyer, their organization, and how to adjust your execution to achieve success.

First is across time.  Look to the past, present and future.  Looking to the past will not only tell how they do things, people don’t change dramatically.  How they bought software last year or the year before, unless there is an entirely new crew, in which case exploring their past will still provide visibility to how they do things.  Assuming the players have not changed, exploring the past will give you a clear picture as to their propensity to change.  If they have continuously lagged the market in adopting new technologies, if they are still sitting back wait for cloud computing to be validated, you need to adjust your sales approach accordingly, at times even to the point of moving on and revisiting the opportunity in the future.  At the other end are innovators and early adopters, where they are on Moore’s curve will dictate how you execute and win them as a client.

Exploring the future, especially when that exploration is through the prism of their business will also dictate execution.  If they have clear objectives, aligned around elements of their business and how they look to grow it, it will make your sale easier, perhaps easier is the wrong word, more like ‘straight forward’.  Assuming their plans make sense you can focus on helping them achieve them.  If they have clear objectives but have chosen a less than optimal means of achieving them, then you need to first get them to consider alternatives.  Why > How, will help you to get them to change course, preaching is ineffective, but a series of “Why that?”, “How will that look?” questions will help you to get them to look at things differently, and from there to look at different things.

The other plain that Why > How will help is by exploring both the individual you are speaking to, and the Why’s > How’s of their organization.  This is especially important when there are multiple stakeholders or decision makers.  This helps in aligning personal agendas with corporate objectives, this can help you create alignment among the players by focusing on common elements, of each of the individuals, and those of the company.  Minimize differences, especially when not critical to the project, and build on overlap and common elements that you can enhance by virtue of you experience and past success.

I know there are some sales pundits out there who are afraid of the word Why, and would rather have you wait for a random event to trigger your success.  I say take control of your success by asking Why > How, early and often.

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key3

A One > Two Combination That Still Delivers Sales1

Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Much of the discussion around social selling vs. traditional selling, or even old school selling like cold calling, has distracted many from the central issue, successful selling. When was the last time someone congratulated you on landing a big account and asked you “BTW, Ann, did you use social or other selling to win this deal?”. It is more likely that someone would ask about the steps and techniques that could be repeated to deliver similar results consistently.

There is one tried and true approach, that when executed properly can help you and the buyer in a number of ways to come to the right decision in a shorter and less painful time frame and atmosphere. No magic or silver bullet, but a series of questions framed around two simple words and concepts:

  • Why
  • How

Using these two in a one – two combination helps you resolve a number of potential hurdles but avoid some as well.

One common example is when you have worked a sale in accordance to your process. You have interviewed the buyer(s), qualified them, understood their objectives, and then validated them for good measure. You deliver your proposal, expecting to have some discussion, shall we call this ritual “negotiations”, leading to a decision (preferably a buy decision, but at times any decision will do). Only to be told that they need to take it to someone who has not been part of the process to date (owner, boss…). None of us can pretend this has not happened to us. Using the Why > How early in the cycle can reduce or eliminate this, but only if you leave the product out of it, and focus on the buyer’s objectives; and by buyer, I am talking about the individuals and the collective organization.

Start by asking Why they chose the product or process now in place. No pre-bias or agenda, just an honest question as to “why that”? If they are able to clearly articulate why they chose the product/provider, and this should be in detail, and that means you needing to be ready with a number of follow-through questions in order to fully explore specifics. What were they trying to achieve, why didn’t like some of the common alternatives? Why automate instead of outsource? Why on premise vs. cloud? Go deep, don’t just skim the surface. Many will be able to provide answers that are really talking points, but to get real answers, answers that give insight into the situation and the person’s role in the situation, you will need to have at least three follow up questions.

  • Why that objective?
  • How do they measure that?
  • Upside of achieving the objective
  • Implications of a miss; etc.

If they can go into detail about these, contrasting the choices they had to deal with and why they landed where they did, then you are more likely dealing with someone who was involved in the decision, vs. someone who cannot, and therefore was not likely core to the decision, clear signal you’ll need to engage someone else, and now.

Along with the Why questions, you need to introduce How questions. “Great, I understand why you went with that route (product service, provider, etc.), tell me How you went about selecting Vendor X?” The goal here is to get a step by step of the How, giving you a window into how they make decisions. Again, if they can detail How the decision was made, you’re in the right place heading in the right direction. If not, and it is clear that they were secondary in the process, then it is clear that you need to engage others. The goal is to do this really early in the discovery phase, where curiosity and interest are rewarded with information, especially as the questions you are asking relate to them, but provide you with multi level insights.

Again, if you are ready with your follow through questions, then you will also be in a position to learn who was involved in the decision, and is likely necessary to get a decision now.  The great thing is that once you make this Why > How combo part of your routine, you’ll discover that it is a very conversational and inclusionary approach, where buyers are allowed to reflect and share info rather than interrogating or pitching.

They Why > How works on almost any element of the sale, but it does require practice and preparation. In the next post, we’ll go deeper and wider with this proven and easily implemented one-two punch.

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The Difference Between Sales Pros and Amateurs – Is The Silence4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Thinking man

Everyone knows that the prospect should be doing most of the talking during a sales call. Knowing it and doing it, well you know. That is one of the big challenges in sales, everyone knows what they have to do, but do they do it?

So ya, active listening, always in style, ever the fashion, but it means so many things to many different sellers, but there is more to the whole thing. It’s not just the listening, it’s what you do with it.

Buyers are practiced too, they can see when it is real, and when it’s shtick, even when it’s good pundit shtick. Sales person makes eye contact, does not interrupt, nods almost on cue, and takes copious notes to preserve every word the prospects utters. Then as soon as the prospects stops, bam, jump on the next thing.

That’s where pros differ from the pack. Watch effective sales people conduct a sales interview, and what you’ll see is that they not only talk less, but revel in the silence. Specifically the silence between when the prospect stops speaking, and when they start their next sentence. They take the time to not only take in what the prospect was saying, but more importantly time to digest and reflect.

If you jump right on the prospects sentence, you may convince them that you were listening, but do little to make them believe you took in what they said, considered it, and incorporated it into the rest of the interview. That’s where the silence comes in. Those precious seconds where you actually think about what they said, not just wrote it down for later, when you need fodder for the CRM.

I know that seconds seem like hours, especially in the heat of the sale, but if the buyer does not buy that you are understanding them and incorporating it into to you flow, the confidence and trust will diminish. After all, if you do not take the time to fully digest what you just heard, it is valid for them to ask if you are focused on them and their direction, or just pitching; one takes time, the other does not.

Part of the challenge is we tend to think faster than we listen or people speak, making it easy to race along, and instead of fully listening and digesting, just consuming things they say. So every time they say something that fits your script you jump in, or move to confirm a data point rather than taking in the whole point, said or implied. Remember, an agenda is not a script, you can change up the sequence and direction of things based on what the buyer is saying. And what they are saying is not always right, which give you the opportunity to explore why they see it that way, take in their explanation and use it as an opportunity to educate the buyer, and have them change direction. And the will, if they see that you are taking into consideration what they present, something you can do during the silence. One method I was taught is to base a question on what they just said that also introduces new elements you feel need to be part of the discussion. Stop, think, one steamboat, two steamboat….., and as the silence fills the room, ask away.

Tibor Shanto

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Are Your Buyers Asking WTF?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sellers often have a distorted view of what is really important to buyers, leaving buyers to repeatedly ask WTF? Get your mind out of the gutter, the question is Why That Feature? Not what you’d be asking when the deal goes sideways, as it will if you are unable to nail the buyer’s WTF.

One thing that many executives and owners tell me regularly is that they are frustrated by some sales people’s inability to relate to the buyer’s perspective of things. As importantly, the incapability of sellers to have a fluid and malleable enough understanding of the products they sell to make it fit the buyer’s requirements, not just those of the selling organizations.

They feel that sellers come in and present features that may seem cool and useful to people in their own marketing group, or features someone in product development thought made sense. While some features may seem cool and useful to a developer, the same may not resonate with real world users. While secondary research may suggest a demand for a feature to the marketing group, it may not be top of mind for all buyers.

At times the disconnect is simply that buyers, especially executives are looking for specific outcomes, and don’t look at the product through functionality. One executive noted “I could care less how it does it, if it’s legal, and gets me what I want, that’s just fine!”

Sellers need to be able to relate aspects of the product to the buyer’s reality, and while there may be similarities in those realities, each buyer is just that different. Mat be it is only in terms of where they are in the buying cycle or as broad as market strategy. While everyone says that they are beyond feature/benefit in their sales approach, buyers tell me different. Sellers are still trying to bend the buyer to their feature, rather than highlighting how that feature gets the buyer to where they want to be.

Of course to do that, sellers need to be aware of what buyers are trying to achieve. And this is not more of something per minute, or faster processing, or social integration. It is more about something that starts with why, and ends with outcomes and impacts. The means are usually secondary.

Presentations where the seller filled with buzzwords still abound, as does communication from marketing. There is almost an expectation that the buyer will paint the same picture in response to single trigger word, as the seller or their marketing group did. Expecting buyers to come around to our view and our definitions just leads to more and harder work, a lot harder than changing the narrative to that of the buyer.

The same is true for unnecessary upgrades or changes in features that were working just fine. Change and new are not always better, especially if it change that was not driven by users/buyers. Users/paying customers don’t always see the same need for change as the developer. If it does not positively impact the buyer’s journey or ability to drive objectives, it is not a great feature or upgrade. These also lead buyer to ask Why That Feature, this not so much why do I need that (why do I wanna pay for that), but what was so bad about it that you had to change it.

Learn to speak with the buyer, not at the buyer, and avoid forcing them to ask WTF?

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

Tips to Use Your Business Differentiators to Increase Your Sales3

April 15

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

One great way to make your business rise to the top is to focus on what makes it different from the competition. What you do with that realization can make your business. Get more out of your selling time and learn why your business is different from the competition — and why your differentiators matter to your customers.

There isn’t a single business out there that can thrive by selling products at a reasonable price exclusively. Here are five tips for integrating your differentiators into your everyday sales.

1. Understand your business differentiators and how they benefit customers.
Even if you’re selling a service or product in a competitive space, there is always something that makes your business stand apart from others.

Think about the anti-aging market. How does a company make its skincare line stand apart from the other ones out there? While price is important, hone in on what else there is to offer customers. How can you help them? What can your products do that other skincare products can’t?

As a business owner, you need to focus on your value-added difference and that will help distinguish your business from all of the others like it. It’s also vital to know and communicate to your customers what makes your business one of a kind. Make sure you can explain to your customers what impact your differentiators have on them. Focus and advocate for those differentiators – this is one of many ways to attract more new business.

2. Understand your competition and how to sell against them.
To help refine your own differentiators, it is helpful to grasp what your competitor’s differentiators are too. Get to know their strengths and their weakness. It’s important to understand the ladder – it can help you can step up your game in those areas. If you do lose a sale to the competition, go ahead and be brave: ask why that prospect chose to do business with them instead of you.

3. Always have integrity.
In a recent study by The Institute of Business Ethics, it was found that companies displaying a commitment to ethical conduct outperform companies that do not display ethical conduct. No one trusts or wants to do business with a salesperson that is dishonest and stomps all over competitors in an over-the-top sales pitch. Stay true to your business core values – and to yourself. Avoid highlighting the competition’s negatives – just be better about explaining your positives. Selling isn’t an effortless business, but a salesperson with integrity – someone who does the right thing at all times – is a massive differentiator and goes a long way to creating a compelling experience for their customers. Building a reputation of integrity takes years – but it only takes a few seconds to lose.

4. Integrate your differentiators into your marketing messages.
As you develop a marketing platform, make sure your differentiators play a big role in it. Your sales and marketing operations should be ingrained and clear so your customers can plainly see why you are the business he or she should chose to support.

5. Ask — and listen to — your customers’ wants and needs.
Your customers are the ones who can really help you figure out how to succeed in the business world. What matters to them? For a moment, step outside of your business box and look at it from a customer’s point of view. This can help you change your sales pitch and marketing message to focus on what exactly will help you seal the sales deal.
There are a lot of great businesses that offer good products and services. In order to make your business stand apart from all of the others out there, always remember to operate with integrity. Take the time to understand your differentiators and keep those at the forefront of your mind. Always listen to your customers and focus on what they want and need, not what you want to sell them.

How do you convey your differentiators to your customers? Has it helped you find success?

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. 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. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.

Website: www.chamberofcommerce.com

Photo via flickr.com

 

So Listen – – Sales eXecution 2733

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

So listen

There are certain universal concepts and sayings in sales that everybody just nods to, “sure, of course, that’s hockey, motherhood and apple pie, of course.” And then they go in about selling like they always have whether they implement the concept or not. One of these concepts is around listening. “Come on Tibor, everyone knows you gotta listen, this is nothing new.” Then they double down and tell me “Tibor, I am all about active listening.”

But what does that really mean? Especially given the fact that the original Active Listening, dates back to the days of consultative or solution selling. Just as aspects of those approaches have felt the effect of time, in some ways so has active listening. And let’s be clear, my focus is not on the intent or merit of active listening, but the manner in which it unfolds with some sales people.

As with most things in sales is it about the execution, everything else is just talk, and often not worth listening to.

My main concern with the way some people “do” Active Listening, is that all too often it is really Selective or Filtered listening. Specifically they are actively listening for those things that fit their solutions, their narrative. And if they don’t hear it they try to steer the conversation in that direction. How many time have you heard a rep start a question with “wouldn’t you agree Ms./Mr. Prospect that if you could….., then it would be …..?” Of course it is often hard to say no to the proposition even though it may not add to the discussion at hand. But by agreeing, the prospect is taken down a predetermined path, a path that the seller hopes leads to a sales, but often doesn’t, just leads to wasted time and emotions.

If you’re a buyer and want to have some fun, next time you hear those words just say “no I am not sure I agree”. If the question was sincere, the seller will be able to add context and build on the premise, and extend the discussion; but if it was meant to take you down a path, you’ll see a classic deer in the head light moment.

Real active listening is a lot like bungee jumping, where as a seller you are willing to throw yourself into a discussion with a buyer, tethered only by your genuine curiosity and the strength of your subject knowledge. If either one of those is weak, you risk plunging to the depths of the gorge, your landing only softened by the bodies of other sellers who came before you.

Listening takes practice, especially since we think faster than people speak, it is easy to race ahead. Which is why many end up listening for selective things rather than everything the buyer is telling them. To be a better listener, you really need to be a better questioner. By learning how to formulate questions based on what they buyer is saying, you can engage them better, and demonstrate your knowledge, and move the discussion forward. One technique I was taught a long time ago, is to challenge yourself to ask a question base on what the buyer just said. This forces me to listen, evaluate, and synthesis the information before speaking. By using their input as a means of asking the next question, one can interview instead of interrogate.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Don’t Parrot – Integrate!1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

parrot

Given the fact that we think a lot faster than people speak, and much faster than our ability to listen, it is always important to look for ways to stay focused on what a prospect is telling us, and not rush ahead or interrupt with a thought triggered by something they said. My favourite way, is one I was taught long ago by a mentor; his approach is to ask yourself what you can ask the prospect/buyer, based on what they just said, makes you focus, listen, process and fully and actively engage.

This goes beyond the common technique many use, one that I find really irritating rather than in any way effective, specifically restating or parting, what the prospect said. We have all seen it in action, reps repeat almost word for word what the buyer just said as a means of demonstrating their attentiveness. “So what I heard you say is…”. Just wake me up when you’re done.

Don’t get me wrong, I get and support the intent, to ensure clarity and avoid the mistakes of assumptions. But as with many things in sales, it comes down to execution, how we deliver the message sometimes matters as much as the message. Simply repeating what they just said does confirm you were listening, one point for you; but that is a long way from understanding, processing responding in a meaningful way for the buyer.

A better way of demonstrating and confirming that you not only heard the words, but actually took in and processed what they said, is to integrate what you gleaned, and then use it to continue, drive and focus the conversation. As mentioned above, use it as a basis for further discovery. Rather than just parroting what the prospect presented, ask a question that builds or expands on the topic, or drills down on a specific aspect, allowing the buyer to elaborate, get further involved and in the process serve up more useful information. The more you drill down on what they say, the more they are encouraged to continue.

While everyone agrees that a good sales meeting is one where the prospect speaks the majority of the time, (I’ll settle for 51%), the reality is that rarely the case in most sales calls. Partly this is a symptom of the problem mentioned above, the seller getting way ahead of the buyer, and worse the incessant interruptions every time a sales rep heard the “secret word”, most often the “secret word” is some trigger word marketing conjured up as part of ”The Value Prop”.  All this does is train the buyer not to talk, not to exchange information, after all, every time they are about to reveal something, the rep interrupts, clearly signalling they are not interested in what they buyer has to say, and would rather preach, leaving the buyer to just say amen to not buying.

One way to avoid this, and again demonstrate your attention and understanding, is to vary, ever so slightly, the way you take notes while the buyer is pouring their hearts out. May seem simple, but split your page into thirds, on two thirds take notes the way you normally would. The remaining third is for the “secret words”, the ones you are dying to hear, the ones you used to jump on, but won’t any more. Moving forward, you’ll right down the “secret word” and wait. This not only allows the buyer room to express themselves fully, but allows you take your time formulating a question, or a means of revisiting the subject triggered by the “secret word”, integrating it into a follow up question, again drilling down with a willing buyer. For example, “Earlier you mention consolidating, a lot of our clients have had success…, is that what you meant, or…?” Even if you are wrong, you will find out more, and have a buyer who feels they are not only being listened, but understood.  Now there is a proper use of triggers.

What you will also find as a side benefit of a more engaged buyer is that they are much more involved and inclined to open up, ask questions, and reciprocate the courtesy and respect when it is your turn to offer up your information, in the process establishing trust, and starting a relationship. What you will also notice is that the more trust they have, the more information they feel safe in sharing; the more information you have the better you can continue to build trust; and the process seems to snowball on its own.

It may have made sense in grade school to parrot back what the teacher said, but by the time you got to post-secondary, there was an expectation that you would demonstrate you understanding and command of a subject by assimilating and integrating it. Isn’t it time your selling graduated too?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Customers, Employees and Influencers as High Performing Sales and Marketing Channels1

Beedon Headshot

The Pipeline Guest Post – Dick Beedon

Although brand advocacy has always been important, it is critical today. The path to purchase has changed forever. Because there is so much data available, and because communication is so easy, today’s buyer almost always seeks advice from a trusted friend or consumer source before making a purchase. Brands are now starting to realize that what others say and write about them defines who they are.

Smart brands know they must build strategies and systems to generate, track and manage brand advocacy. They know they must encourage and enable the people that know and trust them – their customers, employees and 3rd party influencers – to advocate on behalf of the brand.

And it works. By encouraging and empowering these customers, employees and influencers, they will drive peer-to-peer referrals, forward content, share information about new products and promotions, and write testimonials. And they can do it at scale and more efficiently than traditional channels.

The Benefits of New Channels are Compelling (examples)

  1. They Build Brand Awareness – when a customer shares something about the brand with a friend, there is no better way of building the brand.
  2. They Generate Leads – those friends that respond and go to the brand for more information become the best leads a brand can get. There are few people on earth who will argue that leads generated from referrals are the best leads. 
  3. They Drive New Customer Acquisition – Leads from referrals close faster, they buy more and they stay longer. 

Other reasons customers, employees and influencers make good sales and marketing channels;

1.  Identify Brand Advocates and Build a Rich “Social” Data Set

Brand Advocates are identified when they register for or engage with your programs. By using technology systems, brands know who “opts-in” and advocates, how often they do it, what their sharing preferences are and how big their network is. We learn who they know and how influential they are. Brands are able to now get a deeper 360 view of their customer’s network value.

2. You’ll Know when Potential Customers are “In-Market”
Social channels provide insights and information not previously available. At the most basic level, social channels extend a brand’s sales force (with zero overhead) and they solve one of the biggest challenges brand’s face: knowing when a potential buyer is in-market. Only your current customers know when the people they know are ready to buy.
3. The cost of acquisition is lower.
This channel is always on and continually active – making referrals, amplifying products and promotions, and posting positive information about your brand. Brand advocates do this for a brand because they trust the brand and they want do it. Therefore, the time and cost invested into this channel is significantly less than other channels.
4. New customers that are referred by someone in your Social Channel are Valuable.
Research has consistently shown that consumers who convert as a result of a referral from a friend, are more loyal to a brand, spend more and stay longer.

Who are your Potential Channels and how Well can they Perform?

Customers, partners and employees are the fastest growing sales and marketing channel today. By utilizing the latest in social marketing software and technology, business leaders can mobilize these social relationships to generate new customers, and they can track and manage social behavior that is critical to the success of their company.

Customers recommend your products because they have first-hand, positive experience with them.

Today’s truly successful companies understand the importance of leveraging their customers into sales and marketing channels that drive corporate productivity. Creating and cultivating a large group of advocates can: pay huge dividends in the growth of your brand, increase subscribers, and boost profits. The financial investment to create this channel is minimal when you compare it to the long-term payoff for the brand.

About Richard Beedon

Richard Beedon is a founder and CEO of Amplifinity.  Beedon has led the acquisition of both Entyre Doc Prep (by Wolters Kluwer) and University Netcasting, who merged with Student Advantage (now collegesports.com) and was acquired by CBS. Dick’s thought leadership and early adaption of SaaS based technologies that allow brands to manage advocacy marketing has been instrumental in the success and growth of Amplifinity.

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?

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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.

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