Over the years I have had the good fortune of working directly with hundreds of sales people in a wide range of industries. I have seen dozens of sales people who have tremendous potential fail and other less talented individuals succeed.
I have also witnessed on numerous occasions people who seem to be on their way down or out and this group fascinates me the most.
I remember watching one particular sales rep dramatically improve his results when it appeared that his days were numbered. When I commented on his improvement he said that after a year or two of doing just enough to get by, he decided to get serious.
He admitted that his initial focus was to close enough deals and do just enough so he wouldn’t get fired. But he eventually realized that he could earn a very good living if he changed his mindset.
He put effort into his work. He took a more strategic approach. He started contacting higher-level prospects. And he spent less time making excuses. It didn’t take long before he started closing more sales—at higher values. And his efforts were soon noticed by his sales manager.
To succeed in any career, especially sales, you need to be serious. Not from a personality perspective but in your work ethic. Talk to any successful entrepreneur, corporate executive or industry leader and you will quickly find that they all take their role seriously.
Business—and sales—is serious and it’s not for the faint of heart.
The more serious you become, the less likely you will do the basics and the greater the likelihood you will achieve extraordinary success..
What about you? Do you have an example of someone who finally got serious and started achieving better results? Take a moment and share it.
Ever wonder why prospects don’t respond to your voice mail message?
Lately, I have been listening to voice mail messages left by sales people and I have to say I’m not surprised why they don’t get return calls. Few, if any, of the messages were effective.
Here are three reasons why your prospects don’t call you back what you can do to get a different result.
Most of the voice mail messages I listened to were far too long. Some of them lasted more than a minute which is waaaaaaay too long.
Decision makers will delete a message in less than 10 seconds if they sense that it is not important. That means you need to capture their attention in a few scant seconds.
Most VMs focused on the seller’s company, product or service. This is the equivalent of showing up and throwing up. A more effective approach is to identify a problem the prospect may be facing and allude to a solution. Or, ask a question to stimulate their thinking.
No compelling reason
The VMs I heard failed to present a reason why their prospects should return their call.
Prospects are exceptionally busy which means they don’t have the time to return calls. Unless, of course, we give them a compelling reason to do so (see above point).
To get better results consider these three ideas…
1. Limit your voice message to less than 20 seconds, 30 seconds maximum.
2. Create a powerful and compelling value statement.
3. Ask a high-value question that relates to a potential problem they might be facing.
Although you won’t get a return call from all of your prospects, your call-back rate should improve if you change your approach.
A recent article by Nancy Nardin, Smart Selling Tools, used the phrase “happy ears” and it referred to situations when we hear what we want to hear. For example, “Your solution looks great!”
However, when we use happy ears to filter information in a sales call, it can lead to “no deal” if we’re not careful. Just because someone loves our solution does not mean they are prepared to move ahead with the decision.
As a sales professional, we need to slow down and uncover potential roadblocks and barriers that may prevent our prospect from moving forward with the decision. In essence, we want our prospect to think about the negative aspect of moving forward and voice potential concerns and/or objections.
When I suggest this strategy in my sales training workshops, I am often met with looks of horror. Many sales people feel that it is better to avoid negative conversations because they mistakenly believe that discussions of this nature will drive away their prospect.
The reverse is actually true.
If you help a prospect uncover a potential roadblock, you can work together to figure out a solution or the best approach to use. When you know what might get in the way, you can plan a strategy. And it is always better to discover this early in the sales process rather than later.
Remove your happy ears and listen for the information you NEED to hear instead of what you WANT to hear.
Very few of the sales people I have encountered enjoying walking away from a deal. As a result, they end up working a potential deal for an extended period of time only to have it fall apart.
Here are 11 warning signs that that indicate it might be time to walk away from a deal.
1.Your prospect gives you excuses such as, “We haven’t got to it yet” or “We’re still considering your proposal” or “We’re still thinking about it.”
2. Your prospect keeps telling you that he/she is the decision maker but they refuse to make a final decision.
3.Your key contact no longer responds to your emails or voice mail messages.
4. The company starts making unrealistic demands for discounts or other concessions.
5. Your prospect refuses to engage in a meaningful dialogue early in the sales process and simply demands a quote or pricing sheet.
6.You cannot speak directly with the person who will ultimately sign off on the deal.
7.Your prospect keeps reducing the size and scope of their commitment.
8. Your prospect refuses to commit to any next steps.
9.The company expects you to “compete” in an RFP process.
10.Anyone in the prospect’s company acts or behaves in an unethical manner.
11. Your champion has limited influence within his/her company.
It’s never easy to walk away from a sale especially if you have invested a significant amount of time with it. However, it can free up time to work on deals that have a higher likelihood of maturing to fruition.
The key is to recognize the signs and be prepared to cut the ties BEFORE you have invested too much time.
These are just a few warning signs…what other signs tell you that you should walk away from a deal?
This year’s Masters Tournament has proved to be one of the more interesting ones in my opinion. Of course, with sales being my passion, I naturally looked to see how I could connect the tournament to selling.
Here are three sales lessons I learned during this year’s Masters Tourament. BTW: I am not going to discuss concepts such as practise, hard work, getting up early and working late. You already know those concepts are important.
Young Kids Can Compete
Fourteen-year-old Tianlang Guan surprised the world by qualifying for this renowned tournament. He may not have won the tournament but he proved that age is not a factor to qualify.
Young sales people sometimes feel intimidated by older sales veterans and Tianlang Guan demonstrated that young guys can compete with older bucks. However, to achieve this, you must be prepared to put in the necessary effort, energy and discipline.
Older veterans: you need to watch for these young bucks. They are hungry, aggressive and in many ways, more adept than you are especially when it comes to technology and social media.
Fred Couples is 53 years old which is ancient in most sports, including golf. However, he proved that he can still complete.
Veteran sales people bring a high level of experience and knowledge to the table. However, if you fall into this category, you MUST be willing to change your approach and adapt to the new sales world. Doing what you did 10 years is no longer enough to succeed in today’s business climate. don’t get trapped in your “old” ways of approaching a sale. Learn from the youngster’s approach and incorporate their strategies into your approach.
And finally, who can ignore the controversy over Tiger Woods dropped shot, inaccurate scorecard and penalty. The rules are very clear and it appears that Tiger the Masters officials made a mistake by not disqualifying him. Had it been any other golfer–perhaps Tianlang Guan–it is quite possible the outcome could have been much different.
The lesson from a sales perspective is to ensure that your dealings with a prospect or customer are consistent. Your behavior influences your prospect’s perception of you and affects your overall credibility. If you say you will do something, do it.
Establishing credibility with new prospects is one of the most challenging aspects of B2B selling especially if you sell to C-level executives.
These individuals are inundated with calls and emails from dozens of sales people every single day. They have heard almost every opening line, sales pitch, objection rebuttal and line. Yet to get an appointment or meeting, it is essential to demonstrate your credibility.
Sure, you can try a smoke screen and manipulate their executive assistant to get them on the phone but I guarantee that won’t help you close a deal. In fact, you will quickly lose credibility and the opportunity to move that sales conversation forward.
Here is one little known secret you can use to immediately improve your credibility.
When you initially connect with a prospect on the telephone, chances are you don’t have their full attention. Speaking slower not only helps your prospect hear—and grasp—what you’re saying, it also shows control.
And this control improves your credibility.
Most people tend to increase their rate of speech when they get nervous. Even if you have made hundreds or thousands of cold calls, it’s not uncommon to accelerate your pace when you finally connect with someone. It’s human nature.
Resist that temptation.
Make a concerted effort. To. Slow. Down.
A slower pace gives you time to think. It helps your prospect process what you are saying. And, it increases your credibility.
Try it during your calls this week. You won’t be disappointed.
A sales rep recently expressed his frustration about an account he had been trying to penetrate. He had exhausted every tactic in his toolbox to convince the prospect to buy but everything was met with resistance and negativity.
After speaking with him for a few minutes it became evident that the sales rep was an optimist (aka an influencer). He told stories, name-dropped, and amped up his level of enthusiasm in order to convince the prospect to take action.
Unfortunately, his prospect was a critical thinker. That meant the buyer wanted facts, figures, details and back-up documentation that would help him make this important decision. Plus, he found the rep’s enthusiasm annoying and off-putting.
Critical thinkers are cautious decision makers.
They don’t like making mistakes and they are not big risk-takers. They consider the negative aspects of the decision and what might go wrong if they move ahead with the decision.
When dealing with a critical thinker you need to use logic. Energy, enthusiasm, and passion simply don’t work with these individuals. Neither does making overstated claims or embellishing the results your solution can achieve.
Don’t be put off by their negative view; in fact try to embrace it.
Show them facts including relevant numbers and statistics. Show them the potential downside of using your solution and allow time to discuss how those challenges or concerns can be addressed. Listen carefully to their key concerns and think before you speak.
Finally, give them reassurance (testimonials, endorsements, cases studies) that your solution will help them achieve the results they seek.
Critical thinkers are tough nuts to crack. However, just because they have a hard shell does not mean they won’t make a buying decision. You just need to give them a logical reason.
A salesperson recently lamented that a prospect declined to see him after he (the salesperson) arrived late for his appointment. The sales person had spent weeks trying to connect with this prospect and was completely dumbfounded when he was turned away. His words, “I got caught in traffic and was only five minutes late. What’s the big deal?”
Let’s look at this from the prospect’s perspective…
If you can’t arrive on time for an initial sales appointment, will you deliver on the promises you make during subsequent sales conversations?
If you can’t arrive on time for an initial sales call, will you show up on time for future meetings?
If you can’t arrive on time for a first appointment with a prospect, do you actually respect that person’s time?
Time is a precious commodity for business executives. I know many senior decision makers who have zero tolerance for tardiness especially from salespeople.
So, when is lat e actually late?
Five minutes? Ten? Twenty?
In my personal opinion, if you aren’t at least ten minutes early, you are actually late.
Is there a justifiable reason for arriving late to a sales appointment? Perhaps traffic, an accident, or maybe unexpected construction?
I once read that you should double the amount time you need to get to an appointment to factor in possible delays and I think this is good advice. If you actually arrive early, you can use that time to review your objectives, review your questions, and run through your opening.
You only get one chance to make a first impression and if you arrive late for a sales appointment the impression won’t be positive.
Contrary to popular belief, cold calling is still an effective strategy to generate new business leads. In fact, I know many companies who rely heavily on this activity to capture new sales.
Over the years I have read numerous books, listened to a variety of audio programs and even attended workshops and seminars on cold calling. What I have noticed is that very few people discuss how to deal with the real issue of cold calling.
It’s not just about overcoming your fear about making the calls, or creating an effective, attention-getting opening or connecting with the decision maker.
Believe it or not, those are the easy issues.
What’s difficult—especially at first—is figuring out the lay of the land, navigating the corporate hierarchy, and getting the information you need so you can effectively position your solution to your high-level prospect.
What most cold calling experts don’t tell you is that you need to invest a significant amount time making multiple calls to a company and speaking to a variety of people BEFORE you actually connect with your decision maker.
It’s not as easy as simply picking up the telephone and asking for the key person in charge.
It takes effort, focus, discipline and a significant amount of mental energy. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand this at first so they are often not prepared for the work that is required to make that connection. As a result, they get frustrated and start believing the myth that cold calling is a waste of time.
Cold calling is challenging. I will never dispute that. And, it’s still a numbers game; you have make lots of calls in order to get results. However, once you realize this you can approach the process with the understanding that each call will take you one step closer to your end goal.
Conducting product demonstrations (in-person or virtually) is a common sales strategy. However, not everyone does it right. A colleague shared this real-life example of how NOT to conduct a product demonstration.
An inside sales rep (my colleague’s wife) was teamed up with an account executive to conduct an online demonstration for a new prospect. The account executive took the lead and the inside rep was responsible for demonstrating the actual product.
Forty-five minutes after the online demo began my colleague’s wife was still waiting for her opportunity to explain the product because the account executive had not stopped talking about their company.
To make matters worse, the demo was scheduled for 4:00 PM on a Friday afternoon. At five o’clock, the prospect interrupted the sales person and said, “I have a six o’clock appointment and have to go. Send me information.”
The demo was done.
Attempts to schedule a second appointment to actually demonstrate the product failed and eventually the account executive stopped trying to connect with the prospect.
But here’s the kicker…
My colleague’s wife said that the salesperson was completely oblivious to the fact that he was the cause of the problem. He blamed the prospect, called him a time-waster, and complained about being cut off and unable to deliver the full demonstration.
He had absolutely no idea that he was at fault.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Delivering an effective sales demonstration does not mean you talk incessantly about your product or your company. Your prospects are too busy to have their time wasted with this approach.
Skip the background about your company, your clients, how long you have been in business and anything else that is seller-centric.
Instead, focus on showing exactly how your product, service or solution will help your prospect solve a business problem. Keep it brief and to the point and you will close more deals.