If you have sales reps spinning their wheels, pumping out proposals but not closing an acceptable percentage of business, they might need some help with qualifying and managing the sales process. In order to manage your sales people easily and effectively, you need to clarify expectations and build in some accountability steps.
Have you walked into a selling situation where the prospects seem completely sold on another vendor or approach and shows little interest in hearing about your solution? Sometimes it might feel as if they are defending their preference as a protection from hearing something new. Let’s say they like apples and you are selling mangos. Apples might be a good solution for them, but the mangos you represent are better. How can you help your prospect disconnect from their love of apples and be open and begin to focus on mangos?
Business relationships are no different than personal relationships. Things can go awry when we take things for granted, become less appreciative or neglect the details that first built the strong relationship. The relationship can begin to effect your upselling technique. When a competitive large sales opportunity presents itself with an existing client or customer an easy trap to fall into is, trusting your key contact (the one with the strong relationship) to do your selling for you.
Someone on Linkedin asked the question, “What is missing in the sales profession today?”. The fact is I don’t see much of a difference in today’s B2B sales people as in years past (30 years of selling, managing and consulting). Salespeople will follow quality leadership and leaders among the team will emerge. I believe if you fill the leadership gaps in companies the sales people will follow. Leadership gaps exist in three areas, the sales team, sales management and the company.
Are you building a sales career or living or dying by your next deal? Tiger Woods is working toward a career objective, and as we saw Sunday at the PGA Tournament, things don’t always go as planned. Closing business at every opportunity would be great, but the reality is we don’t close every deal, but we do have a response to every outcome.
There was a time when leading the sales process was very easy as buyers depended on salespeople to be the expert. Today, buyers are much more educated and informed and will at times tend to lead the sales process themselves, but don’t let it happen.
What is the value of the contacts you made today? If you have an answer to this question you are viewing the value of your contacts from a short term perspective. We never will know the value of any contact (person we converse with and get to know) until their life is over. So how do you increase the lifetime value of each contact you make and develop a valuable referral network? Most professional B2B Sales Managers would suggest:
Richard Saling on Linked in asked this great question. “When does persistence cross the line to diminishing returns. We all hear about the importance of persistence. That old saying “Persistence pays off”, but how much is too much where you become an annoyance?” I also answered this same question in a coaching meeting today. Here are some tips to help your persistent sales follow-up have purpose and power.
We are selling in a different time (2009). The economy is lagging or flat out bad in some industries. In general I have heard these trends. Decisions are being delayed, pricing is more scrutinized and in general decision makers are not as decisive. This all leads to a longer selling cycle. For a Small Business Sales Team this can be an anxious time.
I sat in a sales meeting a couple of weeks ago and heard a great idea practiced by a rainmaker. His approach to prospecting generates interest and increases his email response rate. It also qualifies prospects without talking to someone.
My clients and I have a motto, “Don’t Be Denied.” What a great time for the cream to rise to the top. When weaker sales people are worried about a slow economy and the negative effects it will have on their business, Champions rise to the challenge. You have to decide if you are a Champion or not.
Service-Minded Selling sounds admirable until you are tested to choose between serving your client in a way that might cost you the sale. This week a sales rep (Jon) shared that a prospect was looking for a new system a year after their last purchase (systems usually last 5+ years). They were looking because they never received proper training and the system did not seem to be easy enough to use efficiently (employees did not like the system either). They liked the product Jon was presenting and he left with a request for a proposal.
I am a firm believer that every contact I make is a potential sale waiting to happen. When a prospect says, not now, no or maybe it is only a delay in a purchase from them or from who they refer. Here is an example of how persistent and professional follow-up can transform you current leads to sales.
This blog is not intended to be a religous pitch, as I understand that each of us needs to come to terms with our own beliefs regarding sprirituality and religion. It is intended to share my personal experience as I do in all my blogs regarding my beliefs and how they relate to motivating a salespeople.
When it comes to sales follow-up, are you coming across as pushy or are you viewed as a partner? Here are some basic guidelines to making your sales follow-up a way to nurture the customer with class by adding value and delivering results.
In most buying or closing sales conversations price becomes a focus or at least it should. We must know what the buyers acceptance level is with our price. If acceptance is high or low make sure you know the answers to the following questions.
Yesterday I was talking with Mike, a sharp CCTV rep about referrals. He has been working on increasing his referrals, mainly by asking for them, and it has paid off. I asked him how his last referral conversation went. He said, “The customer was jazzed about the service I delivered,” which led him to handing over some cards and asking the customer if he would be willing to refer him to others.
Lou Holtz, retired coach and motivational speaker says employees or team members want to know three things about their manager or coach; 1) Can I trust you?, 2) Are you committed to Excellence, and 3) Do you care about me. Here is specific manager activity designed to address these questions and begin leading sales teams with greater confidence.
Developing Sales Professionals (SP) is what I love to do. Watching a seasoned professional in action is very exciting to me. Last week I had the privilege of doing just that as this Sales Professional worked through a simple sales process. Every gesture, comment, question or conversations lead the buyer toward an informed and intelligent buying decision. It was all done with grace, ease and confidence, which made it look like such a simple sales process. When you and your prospect can converse comfortably everything is easy. Getting yourself to having a simple sales process will take practice, preparation and you should include the practices I observed during the SP’s demonstration meeting which I’ll highlight for you next.
To achieve peak performance with your sales team you need to be consistent with team systems and processes and unique regarding individual relationships. All sales people are not the same but most sales people can perform above average with a manager that applies the right mix of consistency and a variation. This is why sales process management is as much about when to follow processes as it is about when to leave them.
Cream rises to the top, oil and water separate and driven sales people will perform toward their compensation drivers. Early in my sales career a start-up wanted a fast increase in market share. To achieve this they priced aggressively and set a heavy bonus in addition to generous commissions to sell 50 units for the month. Because of the bonus, the 50th sale was worth 15% of my total monthly earnings. I kicked in my commission for the last sale (2% of month earnings) to achieve the bonus.
Finding a sales reps “motivation drain” is a skill every sales manager should sharpen. It is needed when specific sales activity slows or stops. I was working with a client and his motivation and activity to making new appointment calls had stopped. He had excuses and reasons for not calling which in many cases will frustrate a sales manager and lead to a quick “pump them up” or “shake them down”. Rather than do that, invest a little time, build trust, educate and increase motivation by helping your rep find their “motivation drain”.
A simple and powerful tool to help prospects understand your message is an analogy. Yesterday a client sales rep was in a competitive situation, searching for a new way to help a prospect understand his company’s level of expertise. The rep was trying to win the business away from the incumbent competitor who markets many more products and services and is not looked at with the same expertise as my client. Although sales analogies can be tricky, this set and setting presented a unique opportunity.
Success in sales is founded in good communication. The definition I like to use for communication is, “message sent = message received”.
At a sales networking event I overheard a conversation between a consultant promoting QuickBooks support and a potential prospect. The consultant was using terms like, “In my opinion….”, “what you don’t want to do is……”, and “our system and process can save you money.” He knew I was well versed in marketing so when I asked if he wanted some feedback, he sheepishly said, “sure.”
Most salespeople sell at networking events, successful ones build credibility. Here’s how to turn cold contacts into a hot network!
In the last blog I stated that most sales people don’t inquire enough to understand core business objectives because they are uncomfortable asking business questions or don’t know how. We all know sales discovery meetings can be tricky. Let me explain what I mean and offer you tips to help.
Understanding your prospects business objectives will lead to a partnership relationship. This starts with a service oriented mindset that leads to asking valuable Sales Discovery Questions.
Most, if not all business buying decisions are tied to a business objective which is usually tied to increasing profit. If your product or service cannot be tied to making the business better in your buyer’s eye it won’t matter if you are offering a time machine at 50% off. So why don’t more sales people take time learning what the business objective is? I believe the answer lies in their discomfort or not understanding how. (Which I will address in the next blog)
A lesson I learned about fly fishing relates to the sales process of landing a big deal. I was taught my chances of catching a big fish were increased not by the amount of times I presented a fly, but in the quality and timeliness of my presentation. This reminds me of how true consultative selling is designed to work.
You’re out of control of the sales cycle when the next step is decided by the customer or prospect. When I debrief with a new salesperson I often hear them refer to appointments that end with customer comments like these:
You have probably heard the phrase too much information can be dangerous. It usually happens when a new rep is in training and his knowledge of sales and product is growing at a rapid pace. We are currently training a new…