Remember when your parents would say, “You’ll understand the value of this when you grow up?” They were trying to convince us to do what they were saying in hopes that someday it would make sense and we would appreciate…
Just for fun, imagine one of your prospects from a recent selling opportunity who has no sales experience is asked to join your sales team and sell in your place. They are now the salesperson and you are their coach. You can coach them from the office, but you can’t meet with prospects and customers any longer because that is their job. Would you be willing to put your income and job security in their hands? Here’s the scary part of this story. It’s already happening to most of you during your current selling situations. When you’re not allowed to meet with all the parties involved in the buying decision (the buying team) you’re left with little choice other than hoping your prospects can do your selling for you.
It’s not always easy to be granted access to the buying team, but it should be your goal to do so. Improving your ability to convince your initial contact of the value of having you meet with their buying team will be very profitable. Here are nine steps to help you be more successful at doing your own selling while better serving your customers.
We’ve all been in those situations when a salesperson is trying to build your interest after you’ve already decided to buy. If the salesperson would just stop talking you could place the order. Then there’s the times when you’re not ready to consider buying and you’re being asked when you would like delivery. In either case, the salesperson is not recognizing which stage of the buying process you’re in and is actually working against the sale. Staying in tune with your customer is key to having an enjoyable and more often than not successful selling conversation.
If you’re a salesperson, you’re usually measured on sales revenue or account additions. When you’re ahead of the game it comes with a pat on the back and maybe a bonus. If you’re behind you get a reminder to work harder and make more calls. Have you ever thought, “Is that all there is, make more calls and work harder?” After all, that‘s what you’ve been doing.
If you’re a business owner leading your team you might be wondering what else you could suggest to them. If there was only a selling skills blueprint that would help you both know what skills to improve on? There is, and it’s packaged in a sweet little sales improvement tool called Profiles Sales CheckPoint TM
There was a season in my life where all I thought about was fishing. I didn’t take it up until my late 20’s and for about 10 years I couldn’t get enough. Looking back now, I can see how it was all part of my life preparation to teaching more people about sales. Since I didn’t grow up fishing, I needed to learn how catch trout and salmon on the river from other experts. You’re reading my blog to be more successful at selling; I was stopping by fly-fishing shops to learn how to catch big fish. The parallels between sales and fishing are uncanny. Here’s what I learned about fishing that applies to landing big accounts.
Are there times when your sales process seems longer than needed to win some business? You don’t really need to ask all these discovery questions or meet with multiple contacts and deal with the CRM input, do you? Here’s a scenario when many sales people are tempted to speed things up and take short cuts.
Imagine yourself sitting in front of your CRM or meeting with your manager during a debrief session. It’s time to answer the question, “Reason for Losing the Sale.” The common choices are related to price, product, service etc. I’d suggest you add one more to your list or discussion, “I was outsold.” Have you admitted to being outsold? If you haven’t, it must be your first day on the job, because it’s happened to everyone I know. So what does it mean, being outsold? How do you know if you have and why’s it important to know? Let’s find out.
How patient should you be in a sales process? I’d say as patient as you need to be as long as the process is continuing. Am I saying you should just let the buyer lead the sales process? No. At the same time that you’re being patient, you also need to be urgent. It’s what I call the delicate balance of patience and urgency.
How successful are you at having your contacts make effective introductions to the right decision makers (being referred)? If you’re not having as much success as you’d like, you’re not alone. Here’s a question I ran across on LinkedIn.
The definition of Hopeium is: “the irrational belief that, despite all evidence to the contrary, things will turn out for the best.” It’s a term that has made its way around society but is particularly relevant to the world of sales. Since sales people must stay positive and optimistic in the face of daily rejection and challenges, it’s only natural for them to interpret a prospects lukewarm response as “hopeful”. Rather than hearing the early “no” from the prospect, the salesperson drags on a deal in “hope” of it turning out for the best. Instead of truly qualifying prospects, Hopeium sets in.
How to Kick the Habit
We’re in the process of tightening up the sales process with one of our clients. In the past two years the focus has been on increasing sales (new business) and holding the line on retention. Sales Processes have been instilled; there is more accountability, ongoing education and team cross selling, which have all contributed to the attainment of the focus on growing revenue.
On LinkedIn a business owner asked, “Is business growth through referrals possible?” He further explained, “In B2B, is it possible to actively, positively encourage client referrals?” He continued, “I’m not talking about just doing a good job and waiting for our client to sing our praises – No – this is a question about whether it is possible to “push” our clients to refer (referral selling). Is it doable, and how???”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a simple and short reminder on measuring sales activity. Have you heard the phrase, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure?” It’s true. If you want to manage a sales person/team you need data to base your coaching, support and decisions on. You’ll find some of that data in sales activity.