On the way to the first dealership, Mrs. Fearless said, “This should provide some good content for your newsletter and blog.” As usual, she was right.
Dealership 1: We were greeted shortly after entering the showroom and when we told the salesperson the reason for our visit, he started the conversation by saying, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a few questions so I can point you in the right direction.” This sounded like something I wrote in my first book, so the conversation was off to a good start. During the conversation he focused most of his attention on my daughter and my wife. After learning what Shannon wanted in a car and the budget she was working with, he made two recommendations. He showed us the two vehicles, pointed out some features, and suggested a test drive. We explained that we were just in the information-gathering process and that we would return at a later date to test drive the car. He suggested that we call ahead to make an appointment to ensure that we didn’t waste our time.
Dealership 2: Once again we were approached shortly after our arrival. However, the only question the sales person asked was, “Do you want a small or medium sized car?” He then proceeded to talk about the car we were standing in front of, explaining things like engine size and fuel consumption. No attempt was made to find out what my daughter wanted in a car. However, he did give us a tour of the parking lot as he looked for several models to show us.
Dealership 3: The experience started off great when an employee held open the showroom door for us. Unfortunately, it quickly went downhill since no one approached us as we browsed the showroom. After several minutes we ventured outside to look at the cars in the lot. A few more minutes passed and still no sign of a sales person. However, as we got into our car and started to leave, a sales person walked outside and stared at us.
Dealership 4: A young man (late 20s to early 30’s) approached us a few moments after we entered the showroom. One of his first questions was budget, and although I normally don’t suggest leading a sales conversation with this question, in my daughter’s situation it was appropriate since she is working with a strict budget. The sales man was honest and said that he didn’t have any new cars that would fit into Shannon’s budget so he recommended a used vehicle. He took us outside and showed Shannon a couple of models that fit her needs and wants. His approach was friendly and helpful, although he repeatedly said some variation of “I can get you into this car…” and this statement annoys me to no end.
To make a long story short, the first and last dealerships stood out for us and we plan to make appointments at each so my daughter can test-drive the two cars she is considering.
I know that the car business is ultra-competitive and that price and financing terms can make or break a sale. However, the sales person also makes a significant difference in a person’s willingness to buy from you. This applies to virtually every type of business, too.
Whether you sell in a retail environment, business-to-consumer, or in a B2B setting; your approach, your focus on your customer/prospect, and the manner in which you handle each sales call will determine if you get a second meeting or the opportunity to move the sales process forward.
1. Allocate 80% of your schedule to prospecting. This can include attending networking events, meeting prospects and customers, and cold calling. Too many sales people rely on existing customers for their business instead of constantly searching for new opportunities. This causes extreme peaks and valleys in their month-to-month results.
2. Invest 80% of your initial sales call asking questions. Although you need to do some preliminary research BEFORE you contact a new prospect, you want to ask questions to validate your information and to fill in any gaps. Your questions need to be high-value and high-quality in nature, not weak, feeble ones.
3. Use 80% of your time listening and 20% talking. Most sales people reverse this and spend most of their time talking about their product, service, or solution, especially in initial meetings. Even during sales presentations, it is essential to pay close attention to your prospect or customer and watch for signs of disinterest, confusion, and concern. Great sales presentations are a two-way exchange of information and actively engage the buyer.
4. Focus 80% of your proposal demonstrating how your prospect will benefit. The vast majority of sales proposals I read spend too much time talking about the selling company. From awards they have won to the clients they work with, this information is seldom very important to your customer. They want to know what’s in it for them and how you are going to help solve a particular problem.
5. Eighty percent of most business is usually generated from 20% of your customers. When one of my clients discovered that more than 80% of their sales AND profits were generated by less than 20% of their customers, they changed their approach and began focusing more attention on that small percentage. As a result, they increased their sales and drove more dollars to their bottom line even though they worked with fewer clients.
6. Invest 80% of your effort with your top prospects. Too many sales people waste precious time with low-value prospects and miss valuable sales opportunities. Focus your efforts on high-value prospects, people or companies who demonstrate a high propensity to buy your particular solution. Learn to let go of prospects that have little or no intention of buying from you.
7. Eighty percent of your time may be spent dealing with the bottom 20% of customers. These low-value customers are often the most difficult to deal with. They need constant attention, they always seem to have problems, and they usually generate the lowest profits and/or revenues. They gripe about your product, your prices, and your service. Do yourself a favor and improve your business results by gradually reducing the amount of time you spend with these individuals.
Although the Pareto principle has been in existence for more than a century, it is still highly relevant and can be used to increase your sales.
Several things struck me as I listened to the pitches on last night’s show (I really dislike that word, but that’s what these presentations are).
1. Overvaluation. Many of the people trying to secure money grossly over-value their company. For example, if someone asks for $100K in exchange for 20% of the company, the business has a valuation of $500,000. I have seen valuations that make absolutely no sense and it’s obvious that the person asking for the money has no idea how to value their company.
3. Dumb idea. I don’t profess to be the smartest business person on the planet but even I know that a book written with the intention of reading it to a dog to help the dog fall asleep is a ridiculous idea, not to mention a stupid business venture. A book is NOT a business!
Yet, show after show, intelligent people pitch a ludicrous idea and they are dumbfounded when the Dragons reject it. What’s even more disturbing is that some of these people have invested tens of thousands of dollars in developing prototypes or trying to launch their idea.
What does this have to do with selling?
Every sales call, meeting and presentation you make is being evaluated by your prospect. If you fail to capture their attention, present a solid case that demonstrates how your prospect will benefit, they will reject your idea, product or solution and move on to other opportunities.
BTW: The US version of this show is called Shark Tank and it airs on ABC.
Two networking meetings in the morning followed by a telephone conversation with a newsletter subscriber. After that, I would write a new blog posting. And then I needed to put the finishing touches on a speech I was scheduled to deliver this morning. A busy and productive day.
Productive, that is, until I experienced a sharp pain in my lower back and could barely get out of the car before my first networking meeting. The pain level was minor—until I moved. That’s when my well-laid plans changed entirely.
I missed a meeting, postponed the call and didn’t write my blog post. Oh, and I never did get around to rehearsing parts of my speech. I did, however, spend unplanned time at my chiropractor’s office followed by lots rest in bed icing my back when I returned home.
Where am I going with this?
Your prospects experience the same challenges. In fact, we all do. We make plans but unexpected problems crop up and prevent us from executing those plans.
Your prospect’s face competing demands on their time, problems crop up unexpectedly, and meetings run overtime and/or get bumped or changed. These situations interfere with their plans and prevent them from making progress on projects, moving forward on tasks, and making buying decisions.
Yet, many sellers forget this. They get frustrated when a prospect doesn’t return their call and they become annoyed when someone misses a scheduled call. But put yourself in their shoes for few minutes.
Your prospect gets to the office with a full schedule including a call with you. However, fifteen minutes before your scheduled call, they have to deal with a pressing problem that, if left unresolved, could cost them thousands of dollars.
What takes priority?
Obviously it’s the big problem. Which means your call gets bumped. It wasn’t your fault; the prospect didn’t intentionally miss your meeting. It’s just that other priorities took over.
So don’t get bent out of shape when a prospect misses a scheduled call. Instead, be patient and reschedule.
This is not uncommon. Many people are uncomfortable asking others for the sale or any other type of commitment. However, corporate decision makers expect you to ask and they expect you to be confident when asking for a commitment.
The most effective way to become comfortable asking someone for their business is to practise. Here are a few questions you can use.
“Would you like to go ahead with this?”
“Can we do business together?”
“How you would like to pay for this?”
“Are you available to meet next Thursday?”
“If I don’t hear back from you by Friday, can I call you?”
The key is to recite these questions aloud until they start to feel natural and comfortable. Don’t wait until you meet with your prospect; practise them beforehand so when you are in front of your prospect, you can ask with confidence.
A few moments after entering the store, Nathan walked out from the back room and warmly greeted my wife and I (I brought my wife with me because she’s the computer expert in our household). I know, it’s a classic case of role reversal here but since she has been teaching people how to use computers more effectively for almost 20 years she’s more qualified than I am. And yes, I can admit that…
Anyway, Nathan asked how my car was after the accident and inquired about Louise’s health. I hadn’t told him about the crash which happened in late August but we’re connected on Facebook and he also reads my weekly newsletters.
As we were comparing two different laptops, he asked if I would be leasing it like I did the last time. That purchase was over 4 years ago! He also mentioned that the laptop I was considering had an HDMI output so I could hook it up directly to my television. He even went as far as mentioning the screen size of my TV. He also told me that it would connect easily with my projector that I had bought from him three or four years earlier.
I know that the store keeps records of our purchases and it’s highly likely that Nathan pulled up our purchase history before we met with him. But I was still impressed. It was obvious that he took the time to review what we had bought from him in the past and he subtlety used that information during our conversation.
My goal going into the store was to see the latest laptops and compare them with other alternatives, However, Nathan’s approach compelled me to buy. Buying a new laptop from him was a no-brainer. In fact, the entire process took less than 20 minutes!
Here are three lessons that can be learned from this interaction.
1. Do your homework before you meet with a client or prospect. Use that research to not only open a conversation with your customer but also to help them with their buying decision.
2. Know your customers’ preferences, likes and dislikes. Mention them during your sales conversation to help make the buying process easier for them.
3. Treat every customer as an individual and make them feel special. People want to know that you appreciate their business and Nathan’s approach demonstrated this.
This applies to B2B selling as much as retail. Corporate decision makers are more likely to deal with sales people who do their research before contacting them. They will be more motivated to do business with you if you can use this knowledge to demonstrate why they should buy from you. And you will earn their respect when you personalize the sales process.
I suspect that I will receive a thank-you card from Nathan in the next few weeks and your prospects will appreciate the same gesture from you.
Now, excuse me while I go and figure out this new software!
Getting someone to return your call is challenging at the best of times. Think about your own situation for a moment. How many calls do YOU return? I receive many calls from people trying to sell me a product or service but I rarely call these people back.
Decision makers are inundated with people calling trying to sell their product or service. A typical executive in corporate America receives dozens of calls everyday. Most of them get 150 emails in their in-box every day. Plus, they spend the bulk of their 12-14 hour days in meetings.
Try this approach.
Make sure your message focuses on a specific problem they may be experiencing and allude to a way they can resolve it. For example:
“Mr. Prospect, Kelley Robertson calling. I read in today’s newspaper that you are merging with XYZ Corporation. Our research has shown that employee sick days increase by as much as 38% during a merger; however, one of our clients was able to reduce this to just 9%. Call me at 905-633-7750 if you want to discuss how they did this.”
Most voice mail messages focus on the seller’s product or solution. But this doesn’t show your prospect how you can actually help them solve a problem. Change your approach and improve your call back ratio.
BTW: You can get more ideas on how to get prospect’s to return your calls during my next webinar. Get the details here.
I was planning to call you today, but I thought it would be less intrusive to send an email first.
Are you the most appropriate person to discuss the company’s e-mail newsletter campaigns?
Because I already use a service for my weekly newsletter I had no desire to talk to anyone about this. The sales trainer in me thought about ignoring the email to see if he would follow-up but for some reason I felt compelled to respond so the next day I sent this email:
Thanks for your email. I currently use (THIS COMPANY) for my newsletter campaigns and have no plans or interest to change at this time.
Less than a minute later I got this response…
Understood. Thank you for your email.
For your vendor folder, I’ve included two items:
1) A brief recorded version of the demo, so you can take a look at your convenience.
a. Here’s the link: http://www.AnyCompany.com
2) Pricing: Our entry level account is $199/month (with a one-time setup fee of $395) – which includes storing unlimited images, unlimited lists and email contacts.
After you have a chance to check out the product, perhaps we could schedule a call if you would like to discuss further.
Business Development Manager
Now, I give the guy credit for responding but (and it’s a big BUT) he completely disregarded my email and ignored me. Does he really think I’m going to drop everything and check out his service? Especially since it’s more than double what I pay right now?
A few years ago, I delivered a sales training program and afterwards a participant rushed up to me and wanted to give me his brochure. I told him that I didn’t need his service and that his expensive full-colour brochure would only end up in the garbage. He kept persisting so eventually I took his package. However, when I returned to the office, it immediately went into my circular filing system (trash can).
I recognize the importance of persistence in sales. However, you need to make sure you’re persisting with the right prospects. Giving people information when they don’t want it seldom accomplishes anything.
YOU might think it is worthwhile sending prospects information like this sales person did but in reality most of the people you send it to don’t care or don’t want it. Which means you end up wasting your valuable time.
Unfortunately, many businesses forget that people talk and they love to share their experiences. Whether it’s a great dinner at a restaurant or finding a good mechanic or a travel agent who takes the time to help you plan a vacation; if a person has had a great experience, they are more likely to refer that company to the people they know. That’s the focus of this blog post: becoming more referable. Referrals are one of the best ways to generate new sales. Here are five ways you can become more referable. You can effectively articulate what you do. I have met numerous people at networking events who have failed to help me understand exactly what they do. To become referable you MUST be able to clearly state your value proposition. You can describe your ideal client. At a recent networking meeting, I was asked what type of companies I work with. My answer was somewhat vague because I work with a wide range of organizations. In hindsight, it would have more effective for me to state who my ideal client is instead of listing the different industries I have worked with. You refer people to others. One of the best ways to become more referable is to refer business to others. When you meet people, look for ways to connect people in your network to those individuals. When you refer business, you generate business. You acknowledge the referrer. I have recommended other trainers and speakers to people and even though those individuals secured business because of that referral, I haven’t always received thanks for that referral. You consistently execute. Whether you sell a product or service, people want to know that you can deliver what you say you will. That means offering value or creating an experience that meets or exceeds your customers’ expectations.
Unfortunately, many businesses forget that people talk and they love to share their experiences. Whether it’s a great dinner at a restaurant or finding a good mechanic or a travel agent who takes the time to help you plan a vacation; if a person has had a great experience, they are more likely to refer that company to the people they know.
That’s the focus of this blog post: becoming more referable.
Referrals are one of the best ways to generate new sales. Here are five ways you can become more referable.
You can effectively articulate what you do. I have met numerous people at networking events who have failed to help me understand exactly what they do. To become referable you MUST be able to clearly state your value proposition.
You can describe your ideal client. At a recent networking meeting, I was asked what type of companies I work with. My answer was somewhat vague because I work with a wide range of organizations. In hindsight, it would have more effective for me to state who my ideal client is instead of listing the different industries I have worked with.
You refer people to others. One of the best ways to become more referable is to refer business to others. When you meet people, look for ways to connect people in your network to those individuals. When you refer business, you generate business.
You acknowledge the referrer. I have recommended other trainers and speakers to people and even though those individuals secured business because of that referral, I haven’t always received thanks for that referral.
You consistently execute. Whether you sell a product or service, people want to know that you can deliver what you say you will. That means offering value or creating an experience that meets or exceeds your customers’ expectations.