Last year my wife and I moved into a brand new subdivision. We couldn’t erect a fence then because the land needs time to settle so we’re eager to get going on it this summer so we can enjoy some privacy in our backyard.
However, trying to get multiple homeowners to agree upon a contractor and style is proving to be a formidable challenge. Our block (front and back) is home to about 20 homeowners and everyone wants to give their input. We have had several companies quote on the project and even though the quotes have been very reasonable someone always wants to get another estimate.
As I write this post we’re at a deadlock with respect to the contractor we should use.
The neighbors to each side of me are ready to move forward as is the person who owns the home directly behind me. However, no one wants to take the initiative to say yes to a particular fence builder without the approval of the entire group because someone will end up footing a larger share of the bill if their direct neighbor fails to give their consent.
Since the onset of the recession, I have noticed that many companies have fallen into this decision-by-consensus trap.
Although this can be an effective way to prevent hasty decisions from being made it often paralyzes businesses.
In early 2010 I spoke to company about developing an in-house training program for their front-line sales staff. I met with the VP of Sales who informed me that he wanted to consult with four direct reports before making a final decision. A few weeks later he asked me to deliver a presentation to these individuals and he also made the same request of a competitor. After our presentations, the four people were split in their decision and in the end no decision was made because the group could not reach an agreement.
It’s important for sales people to realize that more companies rely on decision-by-consensus than ever before. And this approach dramatically slows down the decision making process.
Sharon Drew Morgen suggests we stop trying to sell and start helping buyers understand and navigate the internal challenges and politics they encounter trying to implement a solution. This means we need to ask questions like, “What does your decision team need to know or understand in order to reach agreement?”
Then you just might be able to get past the decision-by-consensus mentality and actually move the sales process forward.
I help sales teams master their sales conversation so they can win more deals. Let me know if I can help you or your company: Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca or 905-633-7750.
We all carry around mental baggage. It influences us in everything we do, both in our business and personal lives.
Mental baggage is a collection of all the situations we have experienced or encountered during our lifetimes. We carry all this baggage around in our heads and draw from it when appropriate situations present themselves. Unfortunately, is also prevents us from increasing our sales and improving our sales results.
Here’s how it affects us in sales.
At one time during your career you have had to deal with a difficult prospect or had to make that tough sales call. You dreaded making the call because you were certain that your prospect would cut you off and wouldn’t give you the opportunity to talk. And sure enough, when you made that call, that’s what happened.
Or, you prepared for a cold call but your tongue got tied up and twisted in your mouth and you struggled to get the words out. You hung up with your cheeks burning in shame.
Everyone in sales has encountered situations like this from time-to-time and those situations affect and influence your behaviour today.
What baggage is dragging you down and negatively affecting your sales results and preventing you from increasing your sales?
What I Do
I help sales teams master their sales conversations so they can win more deals. I do this by conducting workshops and speaking at conferences, sales meetings and other events. If I can help you or your company please feel free to contact me Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca or 905-633-7750.
In recent weeks I have become intrigued by the television show, “The Dog Whisperer”, starring Cesar Millan. I admit that I am fascinated how quickly he assesses a situation and how effectively he transforms a dog’s behavior. However, what I find most interesting is that it is usually the owner’s behavior that requires adjustment.
More often than not, the owner of the “troubled” dog fails to behave properly to a given situation. That’s because people respond in terms that make sense to humans, not dogs.
The same concept applies to sales and selling.
Many sales people rely on their instinct when dealing with prospects, buyers and decision makers. This can manifest itself in many ways:
they don’t look at the buying decision from the prospect’s perspective
they fail to fully uncover their prospect’s buying motives
they don’t address the internal challenges a buyer or prospect faces when making a decision
they use jargon or terminology that their prospect does not understand
they rush for the close
Ultimately, the reason a sale doesn’t move forward or a prospect doesn’t make a buying decision or use your solution is because you have failed to communicate in their language.
Sales people are usually focused on getting a sale or closing a deal. Unfortunately, most people selling a product or service don’t grasp or comprehend the complexities of business. They rely on their standard pitch which does not help their prospect understand how they, or their company, will benefit.
One of Milan’s favourite mantra’s is, “calm, assertive.”
Sales people need to be assertive.
We need to take a leadership role. We need to understand the buying process from our prospect’s perspective.
That means we need to ask the right questions to gain deep insight into our prospect’s problems and what factors will influence the decision making process. We need to speak their language. And, instead of focusing on the outcome (getting a sale), we need to invest more time getting into our prospect’s mind.
Sales people also need to exercise a calm behaviour.
Corporate decision makers are under a tremendous amount of pressure to produce results and they don’t always behave rationally—at least not from a sales person’s perspective. Rather than getting defensive when someone challenges you or getting frustrating when a sale doesn’t move forward at the speed you expect, you need to calmly look at the decision—from your prospect’s viewpoint.
I’m not a dog owner but I can say with certainty that Cesar Millan has taught me a thing or two about becoming a better sales person and increasing my sales.
In Case You Didn’t Know
I help sales people master their sales conversations so they can win more deals. If I can help you or your company please give me a call: 905-633-7750 or Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca
My youngest daughter recently expressed her frustration about one of her college classes. It seems that the instructor’s preferred method of teaching is to read directly from the text book.
He doesn’t engage students in a conversation. He doesn’t make them think. Instead, he subjects them to a legal form of torture and he lectures to them for the entire class. Hasn’t he learned that there is a more effective way to teach?
Unfortunately, many sales people use a similar approach, too.
I have seen far too many sales people walk into a prospect’s office, fire up their laptop, and read from their PowerPoint presentation. Verbatim. With no other insights or interaction. A one-way “push” of information.
If you use this approach you may as well email the presentation to your prospect and tell them to call you if they have any questions. FYI: They won’t call because they won’t actually watch your presentation.
Subjecting them to this type of approach is a complete waste of your time.
I’m not suggesting that you never use PowerPoint. Just the opposite in fact. I think PowerPoint can be used to create a very compelling sales presentation. The key is to not force a prospect or customer to sit through a long boring presentation.
Use your slides to create a two-way dialogue. Don’t lecture to them. Capture a key point on each slide and use it to have a meaningful conversation with your prospect or customer. Don’t spend your allotted time talking about your product, service or offering. Use your time wisely and engage your propects in a conversation.
It sounds simple but the vast majority of your competitors don’t take this approach which gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and increase your sales.
“Propose the way you would want to be proposed to.” This tweet was recently issued by a sales lead generation company and I completely disagree with it.
You see; if you are a detail oriented person and need to review tons of information before you make a decision, you will likely sell this way. Give the prospects lots of info and let them make an “educated” decision. Review every spec, every feature and every detail about the product or service.
If you use this approach with a fast-thinking, results oriented prospect, you will lose their attention in about six and half seconds and you will lose that sales opportunity.
Likewise, if you are that Driver-type personality, you may gloss over important information and key details and simply press your prospect to make a buying decision. But, if you’re in a conversation with an Analytical person, you will offend them and cause them to retreat.
Most people sell the way they prefer to buy but this often creates a disconnect with our customers and buyers. It is much more effective to adapt your approach and sell the way your customers want to buy.
Let’s face it…no sales person or company executes perfectly 100 percent of the time. We all make mistakes, gaffes, goofs, and blunders.
However, how you respond to those situations affects your brand, company’s reputation and ability to continually increase your sales.
A few days ago we ordered pizza from a new restaurant that opened in our neighborhood and the person in the call centre told me it would take 35 minutes. However, almost an hour later I still hadn’t received our order so I called to check on the status. The first words the call centre agent uttered were, “I’m so sorry” followed by, “Let me check on that right away.”
The driver arrived while I was on hold and he apologized for the tardiness of the order, explaining that they were much busier than anticipated. He also offered a couple of $5 coupons toward our next purchase.
But wait, there’s more!
When the call centre agent returned she immediately apologized again and connected me with the customer service department (on a Sunday!). When the CSR came on the line he, too, apologized immediately.
Every single person I spoke to apologized!
Now, compare that to this experience…
I drove to a local UPS store to ship three cases of books to a client. The store is supposed to open at 8:30 AM but when I arrived at that time the doors were still locked. I waited (impatiently) for 15 minutes until someone arrived and opened the store.
She (I learned later that it was the manager) held the door open for as I lugged the boxes of books into the store but instead of apologizing for her tardiness, I heard a litany of excuses why she was late. Traffic was heavy; she had to drive from another city, blah, blah, blah.
When I left the store I was pissed off. My schedule was thrown out of whack and I was extremely frustrated by the manager’s behaviour and lack of apology.
Here’s how these situations apply to sales.
It’s not uncommon for something to go wrong after a sale has been closed and quite often that mistake is caused by someone else or another department.
Your customer doesn’t care why the mistake happened. All they want is for you to acknowledge the problem, apologize and correct it. However, very few people actually say, “I’m sorry.” Yet, this simple acknowledgement can go a long way in helping you solidify relationships with your customers which will lead to an increase in your sales.
Why is “I’m sorry” such a hard phrase for people in business to say?
Is your company planning a sales meeting, training program or conference? I might be able to help. Here’s how.
During my career of teaching sales people how to improve their results and increase their sales I have come across some lame sales advice and even more pathetic sales expressions. Here are just a few examples…
Always be closing.
This approach may have worked in the 1980s but pushing people hard and constantly asking them for the sale or to make a decision is completely ineffective in today’s business world. You may remember Alex Baldwin’s speech in Glengarry Glen Ross about coffee being for closers. In the world of professional sales, there is no need to keep “closing”.
“No one walks!”
I used to work in consumer electronics and many of our managers were famous for spouting out these words on a Saturday morning. Do you really think that reciting this mantra is going to prevent someone from leaving without making a purchase? And, do you think it’s a realistic goal to sell something to everyone?
It takes seven no’s to get a yes.
So, if I simply ask someone for a buying decision seven times, I’ll get the sale? Chances are I’ll get kicked out of a prospect’s office before I get a chance to ask seven times.
Buyers are liars.
This one really gets my goat! Are people completely honest when talking to sales people? Not always, but it’s the sales person who usually creates this resistance. And making this statement simply turns the sales conversation into an adversarial confrontation.
“What will it take to earn your business?”
Uh, maybe you can do your job…
“What will it take to get you into…?”
I’m buying a dishwasher; how will you possibly get me into that and why would I want to?
Ask questions that people will say yes to so they will say yes when you ask for the sale.
Seriously? You really think that someone is going to yes just because you have established a pattern of getting them to say yes? That’s as stupid as saying, “Never ask a question that someone can respond with no”.
What lame sales advice or pathetic sales expressions have you heard?
Many of the companies I work with use sell sheets to help their sales team sell their product or service and improve their sales results. Unfortunately, most of these sell sheets don’t actually work.
Sales people hand out these sheets and hope that the information contained in them will compel a prospect or customer to take affirmative buying action. However, that seldom happens.
Let me put this into perspective…
When was the last time you bought a product or service solely on written information given to you by a sales person?
Most sell sheets focus on the features of a particular product but they seldom address the key issues a business or company faces with respect to the products or services. The majority of sell sheets are written or created by the marketing department and most marketing people don’t know how to sell.
Don’t get me wrong…
Marketing departments know their stuff. But they usually look at their product from the company’s perspective instead of the customer’s.
They present all of the features of a product and outline specs. They talk about ordering procedures and often discuss pricing. What they don’t do is present the product or service in terms that relate to their customer’s business.
Unfortunately, too many sales people rely on these sell sheets to help them close a deal.
Look at each of your products or service and consider the actual problem they solve. Then, create a case study using an actual customer. Discuss how a particular product solved a specific problem that that customer experienced.
Every infomercial addresses a particular problem and uses testimonials and endorsements to explain how their product solved that problem.
Yeah, the acting is bad and they grossly over-exaggerate the problem. But…they always focus on how much better your life will be after you buy that product. They may discuss features but they consistently show why that feature is important and how it will help you.
The key is to talk in terms that your prospect or customer understands. You need to show them how they’re going to save money, gain more market share, reduce customer churn, eliminate mistakes or improve productivity.
If you want to increase your sales using sell sheets you need to change your approach because the standard sell sheet simply doesn’t sell.
You would think that after 15 years of talking to prospects about sales training I wouldn’t forget to ask any questions during initial conversations.
I recently spoke with the COO of a mid-size company about delivering sales training for his team. Everything, I mean, everything was going well.
We had an intelligent conversation about his goals and objectives. We discussed what he wanted he wanted to accomplish and we talked about previous programs he had embarked on and the results he had achieved.
I submitted a proposal and followed up as promised. During that subsequent conversation he indicated that I had addressed every key issue and that he was eager to schedule a sales training workshop for his team.
That’s when I hit the roadblock.
As we discussed the timing of the program he said, “I just want to run this by my President and CEO to make sure they’re onboard with it.”
As Homer Simpson would say, “Doh!”
I made the common assumption that he was the key decision maker because he was a high-ranking executive in the company. I believed that he owned the decision. I was wrong.
Simply put, I forgot to ask a key question…
“Who else will you consult with before moving ahead with this decision?”
It’s a simple question. But one that often goes unasked.
If you want to increase your sales it is critical that you ask this question early in the sales conversation. Force yourself to ask who else is involved and make sure you have a conversation with them BEFORE you submit a proposal. Otherwise, your best efforts can result in a no-sale.
There’s nothing like real-life examples to point out the good, the bad and ugly about sales calls and how they can help or prevent you from increasing your sales. Here is a post-mortem of a sales call I received yesterday afternoon.
The call didn’t get off to a great start because I answered the telephone with, “Good afternoon, Kelley Robertson” and the caller said, “Hi, I’d like to speak with Kelley Robertson please.” Um, didn’t I just say that it was me?
Lesson: Listen carefully when your prospect answers the telephone.
She introduced herself and I caught her name but not her company. She even repeated her company’s name a few times during our one-sided conversation but I never did catch it. It wasn’t until see snet me an email that I figured out who she represented.
Lesson: Make sure that you clearly articulate your name and that of your company.
Anyway, she mentioned that she came across my name from the Top Sales World website and the series of webinars that were conducted last week. She asked if I knew one of the presenters and it turned out that it was one of few whom I didn’t.
Lesson: Attempts at building rapport need to carefully thought-out.
Like most salespeople she told me about her company and what they did. I have to admit that her approach here was because she didn’t spend a lot of time talking about her company and their services. This is rare.
Lesson: Limit the amount of time you talk about your company in the early stages of a sales call.
After she told me about her company she proceeded to ask me several questions about document production including workbooks for my training programs etc. Unfortunately, she made the classic error of trying to pitch a service that I had little need for. Here’s what I mean…
She asked how I review my workbooks after I submit them to my printer and I told her that I didn’t need to because I have been working that printer for almost 15 years and they have never misprinted a workbook. It appeared that pre-printing proofing was a hot button for her but it wasn’t for me.
Lesson: Never discuss aspects of your product or service that have little or no relevance to your prospect’s situation.
Finally, she asked if she could send me information and arrange a 20 minute demonstration of their service even though I said I had no intention of changing suppliers. After all, my printer has been doing a great job for more than 15 years, why would I change?
Lesson: Recognize low-value leads and move on to other sales opportunities.
Oops, I almost forgot. She did send me an email later that day but her opening line was “Thanks for taking the time to speak with me yesterday!” Plus, the email simply reiterated everything she told me in our telephone conversation.
Lesson: Make sure your follow-up emails include more information or a reason NOT to delete it and make the information is accurate.
I help sales professionals master their sales conversations so they can win more deals. Contact me if I can help you or your company: 905-633-7750 Kelley@RobertsonTrainingGroup.com