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.
Earlier this week I received a message from a Twitter follower who told me that someone had plagiarized one of my blog posts and posted the content on SlideShare. I have no tolerance for people who deliberately steal material from others (it’s happened to me multiple times over the last few years) so I immediately checked out the presentation, and sure enough, it used the content from one of my posts.
Needless to say, I wasted little time taking action.
I sent the offender a direct message via Twitter and posted a comment on his SlideShare page expressing my disappointment and concern that he had used my material without attributing the source.
The following day he replied and respectfully pointed out that slide 33 (there were 37 slides in total) contained the proper credit. When I double-checked, I realized that I hadn’t reviewed the entire presentation and missed this.
Sales people make this mistake too and take a fire, ready, aim approach.
Quick to pitch
A prospect makes a comment and we jump to pitching a product or solution that we think will work for them without probing a bit deeper and learning more their situation or the impact of the problem.
Unfortunately, this usually means we end up presenting a solution that doesn’t fit the prospect’s situation or we discuss aspects of offering that are not relevant to their situation.
Waiting to speak
Many sales people believe that they aren’t selling if they are not talking. They wait for their turn to speak instead of listening carefully to the other person. As a result, they miss hearing valuable information that would change their approach or solution.
Responding to objections
Most sales people jump on objections as soon as a prospect expresses then instead of slowing down the sales conversation and discovering exactly what the other person means.
However, when you know what the objection actually means (it’s seldom what it sounds like), you can offer the appropriate solution.
Dealing with problems
Sales people often have to deal with customer concerns or problems and it is common to move to a solution before they fully understand the situation. We have encountered something similar in the past so we automatically think we have the appropriate solution.
However, without getting all the information we can’t effectively solve the problem.
Effective sales people avoid the fire, ready, aim approach when they sell.
They don’t jump to discussing a solution until they have a thorough understanding of their prospect’s needs, situation and concerns.
They don’t race through the sales conversation in an effort to close the deal as quickly as possible.
And they make sure they have all the information before taking action and moving forward.
Before you fire, make sure you ready yourself and aim properly. It can save you embarrassment and costly mistakes.
In the seventeen-plus years I have been working with sales people and helping them increase their sales, I have noticed that many fail to ask for the business. In my sales training workshops, people express a variety of reasons why they don’t ask for the sale.
Here are 7 of the most common reasons why sales people don’t ask for the sale and what you can do about it.
1. Fear of rejection
This is by far the most common reason why people don’t ask for the business. I don’t know many people actually enjoy being rejected and sales people are no different.
However, it is critical to realize that a ‘no’ is not a personal slam against you. It simply means that you prospect or customer does not need or want your product, service or solution. It doesn’t mean they dislike you as a person—unless of course, you were pushy, rude or arrogant.
2. They don’t know how to ask
Some people, especially individuals who are relatively new to sales, simply don’t know how to ask. I remember my first sales call more than 20 years ago.
I had gone through my presentation and my prospect appeared interested; however, I didn’t know what to say so we sat there in silence for a few moments until I finally blurted out, “So, would you like to go with it then?” She said, “Sure.”
The key is to develop a variety of questions that you are comfortable asking.
3. They don’t know when to ask
The timing can be critical. Some sales people don’t know exactly when to ask a prospect for their business so they wait—often waiting too long, and thus, missing the opportunity. Although you don’t want to ask too early, you can’t afford to wait too long either.
An approach that can work is to build it into your sales presentation. Take the guesswork out of the equation and figure out the best place to position the “close.” I generally position it after we have discussed my proposal or solution and addressed any questions my prospect may have.
I usually say something like, “What other questions or concerns do you have?” If they say, “None” I reply with, “Should we book a date for the training now?”
4. They are afraid of being perceived as being pushy
Unless you use manipulative sales tactics, aggressive closing lines, or the wrong tone of voice, people will seldom think you are being pushy when you ask them to make a buying decision.
The key here is to ensure that you done an effective job at identifying a potential problem, presenting your solution in terms that make sense to your prospect, and addressed any potential concerns they may have.
If you achieve that goal, you have earned the right to ask for the sale.
5. They don’t like being asked for their business
People in my sales training workshops have said, “I don’t like it when someone asks me for the sale so I won’t do that to other people.”
I respect that position. I also believe that we need to eliminate our personal biases. However, I know that this is easier said than done. The key is to identify the personal biases you have related to sales and selling and figure out a way to get past them.
My personal bias is that I abhor aggressive sales people. However, I have learned that you don’t need to be aggressive in order to ask for the sale.
6. They are afraid of objections
Objections are a natural part of the sales process and the best way to deal with them is to anticipate them and address them in your sales presentation or proposal. It is also important to realize that when someone expresses a real objection, it actually demonstrates an interest to buy. It is much better to hear an objection than to walk away from a potential with no idea of why your prospect didn’t buy.
7. It feels awkward or uncomfortable
I will be the first to admit that it DOES feel uncomfortable taking this step—at least at first. But that’s just like anything else you attempt for the first time.
The key is to create a variety of lines, phrases, statements and questions that you are comfortable using and then practicing them until they flow smoothly and comfortably from your brain to your mouth. Don’t dismiss this simplicity of this idea.
Verbal rehearsal and practice is one of the most effective ways to remove any discomfort from a new sales approach, question or response.
I believe that it was Wayne Gretzky who said, “You will always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” and this applies to sales, too.
In today’s highly competitive world you need to be proactive in asking for the business. Otherwise, a competitor who is more assertive will capture the business you deserve.
What do yuo think? Did I miss any reasons people fail to ask for the sale or other ways they can get over their fear? I’d enjoy reading your comments below.
Bad habits have a way of creeping up on people and it’s no different for sales people.
I don’t believe that sales people intentionally decide to use an ineffective approach or tactic; however, there are several bad habits that sales people develop over time that prevent them from closing more deals and increasing their sales.
Here are eight bad sales habits you need to eliminate.
1. Setting low goals
The best sales people I know set high, ambitious goals. They don’t wait for their manager, boss or company to set targets and quotas; they are proactive in determining what they want to accomplish in a given month, quarter or year.
I know you don’t want to set yourself up for failure or have to set an even higher goal for yourself next year. But, top performers constantly push themselves to do better and achieve more. As a result, they usually do. And for sales people, this leads to making more money.
2. Making excuses
“Our competitors are cheaper.”
“The economy is bad.”
“My territory is too big, too small, too spread out, etc.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of making excuses why you’re not hitting your targets. But the bottom line is that it is your responsibility to find a way to succeed. You will seldom catch a top sales person complaining about things that are out of their control. Instead, they focus on what they can do to achieve the desired results.
Here is a post with more excuses sales people need to stop using.
3. Pitching before understanding
Walking into a prospect’s office and firing up your laptop, iPad, Tablet, etc. and launching into your sales pitch before you have solid grasp of their unique and specific situation is one of the worst habits that sales people make.
Although it is essential to be prepared with a solution, you also need to validate or confirm your understanding of the prospect’s situation BEFORE you start your sales presentation. As Stephen Covey so wisely states, “Seek first to understand.”
Effective preparation includes knowing as much about your prospect as possible, planning your sales call opening, outlining the key points you plan to make during your meeting, and anticipating potential concerns and objections.
5. Inability to handle sales objections
Objections are a natural part of the sales process. However, how you handle and respond to sales objections will determine your sales effectiveness and influence your ability to close sales.
Most sales people encounter several objections yet very few people take the time to prepare effective responses to these concerns. I once worked with a sales person who developed excellent rebuttals to every objection he encountered. Not surprisingly, he was one of the top performers in the company.
6. Not gaining commitment
Not every sales interaction is going to end in a deal. But, every conversation should conclude with some form of commitment for the next steps.
Unfortunately, many sales people leave the door wide open and say something like, “Okay, Mr. Smith, I’ll get that information to you by tomorrow and follow-up with you next week.”
In their eyes they are moving the sales process forward. However, this approach does not confirm a specific day and time to reconnect with their prospect. As a result, they often fail to connect with that person and lose the sales opportunity.
7. Not clarifying vague statements
Prospects often make vague statements such as;
“We’re not on track to reach our targets.”
“Traffic is down.”
“Productivity is lower than it was last year.”
In many cases, the sales person takes these comments at face value and interprets them differently than the prospect intended.
Top sales people assertively clarify vague statements to gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of the prospect’s thoughts and concerns.
Sales people often interrupt their prospects in mid-sentence to interject their own perspective or comment or to pitch their product or service. I have to admit that I’m guilty of this bad sales habit usually because I feel compelled to comment on something my customer has said.
Close more sales and earn more respect and credibility by eliminating these bad sales from your approach.
Planning a sales meeting, conference or retreat? Feel free to give me a call and we can discuss how to help you get the most from your meeting. 905-633-7750 or email.
Four “chefs” compete for a $10K prize by preparing meals using a basket of mystery items. They are given strict time lines to create the plate and one chef is eliminated during each round (appetizer, entrée, and dessert).
I love watching each contestant’s reaction when they open the mystery basket because some of the items are pretty obscure. Goat legs, sea urchin, passion fruit and candy canes are just some of the food items that have been included in the basket.
So…where am I going with this?
It’s not uncommon to be caught off-guard during a sales call, meeting or presentation.
An unexpected question, an unresolved problem with a current product, or an unresponsive prospect can all throw a wrench into the best-laid plans. It’s how you respond that makes a difference.
If you become flustered, you won’t succeed at delivering your value proposition in the best possible manner.
If you allow the questions to throw you off-track, you may lose sight of your main objective.
If you can’t respond appropriately to objections or concerns, you will not likely move the sales conversation forward.
Selling is a contest. A contest between you and your major competitor. And if you want to win it’s essential that you perform under pressure.
How do you do this?
In a word…prepare.
Before every single sales presentation, meeting, appointment or call, you need to consider…
- Who will be at the meeting?
- How receptive will those individual’s be to your concept, idea, solution?
- Are there unresolved issues with any previous orders, purchases or products?
- What objections might be expressed?
- What questions might be asked?
- How will you respond to these objections and/or questions?
You don’t need to spend hours thinking about these questions; usually a few minutes of uninterrupted time is more than sufficient.
However, it is time well-invested because it is less likely that you will be caught off-guard which means you probably won’t be chopped.
Looking for a speaker for an upcoming sales meeting or conference? I deliver high-energy keynote presentations that get results…here’s an example. Please feel free to contact me if I can help.
Yesterday’s post outlined eight reasons why prospects and customers say, “You’re too expensive.”
Today I will take a look at how you can determine what someone actually means when they express that objection.
One of the easiest and most effective ways is to simply ask, “Compared to what?”
This simple-to-use question will help you determine why the other person stated that objection. I once used this approach with a prospect and learned that another trainer he had used charged a measly $500 for a one hour presentation. His experience led him to believe that all sales trainers charged a comparable fee.
Another approach is to say, “Mr. Jones, I’ve heard that before. Everyone has their own reason for saying that…tell me…what makes you say that this solution is too expensive?”
This open-ended question encourages the other person to articulate what’s on their mind and is effective at opening a dialogue. They might say something like, “Well, we’ve seen a similar product and it was considerable cheaper” or “That’s more than we allotted for this purchase” or even “We weren’t planning to spend that much.”
Regardless of their response, you now have a clearer picture of what’s going through their head and you can offer the appropriate solution or recommendation.
The third strategy is to say, “Many people express concern about price. Is it that you don’t see the value of (insert your solution here)?”
In many cases, people will say that they see the value but hadn’t budgeted the right amount. Or, they might tell you that they don’t actually see the corresponding value. Either way, you have uncovered the real objection and can now respond accordingly.
Having said all of this, there are times when people won’t tell you what’s on their mind or why they’re stating that objection. This usually happens when someone is unwilling to make a decision but doesn’t want to say no. It’s an easy out for them.
Lastly, NEVER, EVER, drop your price immediately when you hear this objection.
This may sound like a no-brainer but it’s amazing how often salespeople automatically think that this objection means they need to offer a discount. And, if you offer a discount too quickly, people will think they can negotiate an even better price by pushing you a bit harder.
If you want to increase your sales and improve your results, take a moment to uncover the real reason why someone says, “You’re too expensive.”
Could your team use some improvement in their negotiating ability? Feel free to contact me and we can discuss it. 905-633-7750 or Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca
During a recent sales training workshop, we were discussing the importance of being able to deliver a clear, concise message when you first meet with a prospect and we agreed that a quick, thirty second introduction would be an effective approach. A participant challenged me, saying that an introduction of this nature sounded canned and rehearsed. As he recited his opening message, I fully agreed with him—it did sound canned. Not to mention extremely difficult to understand.
Unfortunately, he made one of the fatal mistakes that many sales people make when they first introduce themselves to a potential customer or client. That mistake is to barf on them.
Not figuratively of course. But verbally.
Too many sales people mistakenly believe that they should open their conversation with a background and history of their company. Or, a complete description of their products, services, or solutions. It’s seems like they can’t control what comes out of their mouth once they open it. They puke. They barf. They spew all over themselves.
A great opening message or introduction follows a few key criteria.
It focuses on the other person.
It conveys how you help your clients and customers.
It is easy to understand.
It does not contain an excess of adverbs or adjectives.
It intrigues the other person.
It must be delivered in a conversational tone.
Most sales people start talking about their products or services instead of focusing their attention on the customer. The best way to do this is to state the benefit of your product or service and how it relates to your customer. Here is an example,
“Mr. Adams, I’m Pat from Geeks R Us. We specialize in helping small businesses like yours fix computer problems. The reason I’m calling is to see if you ever have experienced computer problems, and if so, how they have affected your business?”
Notice that this introduction briefly describes the sales person’s business while clearly describing the problems they solve. It is brief—forty-two words in total—and it takes less than fifteen seconds to state. That means it is very easy to understand.
Your introduction or opening should be scripted. However, one of the challenges of creating a script is that it must sound like something you would actually say. I don’t know about you, but most of the people I know don’t use many descriptive words when they speak. And, very few people write the same way they speak. The individual in my workshop had memorized a written statement that described the services he provided. He wrote something that he thought looked good on paper but it ended up sounding forced and stilted when it was spoken. Part of this was the number of adjectives and descriptive words he used. Limit your use of descriptive words. The shorter and more brief, the better.
Here’s the caveat…
While I believe in the use of scripts, they cannot and must not, sound like a script when you recite it. Your opening or introduction MUST be delivered in a conversational tone if you want it to achieve the intended results.
Consider the difference between a highly trained actor and a typical telemarketer who calls you in the evening. The actor portrays the emotion and feeling while the telemarketing simply reads the words. This means that you need to practise reciting your opening or introduction so it sounds natural.
If you’re not sure how your message sounds, ask someone you trust to evaluate it for you.
The barf factor also applies when you are delivering a presentation about your products and services. Instead of talking without taking a breath during the presentation of your product, pause after a few moments and make sure that your customer is still following you AND paying attention. It never ceases to amaze me how often a sales person actually speeds up when they notice that their customer is tuning out or no longer paying attention. As if that’s going to keep the other person’s attention!
Lastly, be careful not to barf on your customer when he or she expresses an objection. It is far more effective to empathize with the customer and check to make sure that you fully understand their concern BEFORE you present a solution. I have watched hundreds, if not thousands, of sales people in my workshops barf on their customer as they try to overcome objections. They ramble on and on trying to convince the customer why they should make a buying decision instead of making one key point and checking to see if that makes sense to the customer.
Barfing shows a lack of control. I mean, you can’t usually control this bodily function when you are sick. And when you barf on someone during a sales conversation, it shows the same lack of control. Demonstrate your superior skill and ability by controlling what you say and how you say it.
Looking for Help to Increase Your Sales?
Kelley helps sales people master sales conversations so they can win more business and increase their sales. If you’re planning a sales meeting, conference or event and need an engaging & informative speaker, call him at: 905-633-7750 or Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca. Here’s Kelley in action: http://bit.ly/ef5P5l
In the fifteen years I have been working with sales teams I have consistently found that price objections are still one of the most commonly requested programs. In today’s commodity-driven world it is easy to fall prey to discounting your product or service in an effort to capture the sale. However, there is a better way to deal with the dreaded price objection.
First, make sure that you invest sufficient time at the front end of the sales process asking questions about your prospects’ current situation, problems, concerns, goals and objectives. Although this sounds basic and fundamental, my experience has taught me that too many sales people skate through this process so they can ‘pitch’ their product or service. Unfortunately, this is one of the reason they encounter price objections.
Demonstrate the value of your product, service or solution. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before. However, I still want to challenge you on this. Chances are you spend the first five to fifteen minutes of your sales presentation telling people why they should buy from you or giving them background on your company. This approach is one of the LEAST effective ways to demonstrate your value. If you truly want to accomplish this then you need to tailor EVERY sales presentation so that it addresses the key issues your prospect is facing. Here are two simple steps that will help you modify your approach your presentation.
Step 1: Start every sales presentation or proposal with summary. This summary must highlight their issues, concerns and situation. Focus your attention on demonstrating that you clearly understand their problem, the impact of that problem on their business, the implications of not addressing the problem, and the value to your prospect and his/her company when the problem is solved. This does not mean talking about your product! You are not actually presenting your solution yet. You are simply showing your prospect that you have listened to them and that you understand their situation.
Step 2: Now it’s time to present your solution! Start by showing how your product, service or solution will address the issues that you mentioned in your summary. Start at the beginning and make sure that you clearly demonstrate how the prospect is going to benefit from buying your product or implementing your solution. Please note: you don’t accomplish this by simply spouting off features and benefits.
I know from experience that many people reading this are still thinking, “I do everything you already mentioned; how do I actually deal with price objections?” Here are four strategies that might help.
Strategy 1: If someone says your price is too high, ask, “Compare to what?” This will give you their perspective and help you understand why they think your price is too high. You can then respond accordingly.
Strategy 2: Remain silent. Don’t say anything for at least five seconds. In many cases, your prospect will make a statement or concession or even withdraw their request. It sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Here’s the challenge. It’s a difficult concept to apply because most people find it difficult to deal with silence. However, if you can condition yourself to become comfortable with these short periods of silence, I will suggest that your results will improve.
Strategy 3: Another strategy is to remove an element of your product or service and then drop your price. Position it like this, “Mr. Big, I can lower my price to (insert figure here) or by this much. Unfortunately, that means I can’t include (whatever you plan to eliminate).”
Strategy 4: If these strategies fail to work, you always have the option of walking away from the deal. I have dealt with prospects in the past who were unwilling to compromise and who wanted me to give them such a significant discount that it didn’t make sense to move forward. I firmly believe that you need to position yourself mentally so you can walk away from any sale. The best way to achieve this is to ensure that you have enough prospects in your pipeline.
Many price concerns can be addressed when you take the time to follow the sales process. However, take a short cut and I can almost guarantee that you will face price resistance from your customers and prospects.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_53O8Sg6zo] People are often mislead by a request for information, a condition of sale, or a block or stall. Many sales people mistakenly think these are objections when, in fact, they are not. Here’s the difference:
A request for information is simply that. The buyer wants additional information to aid them in making a decision. The challenge is that many times it comes across as an objection because of the way it is presented by the buyer.
A condition of sale is an element of the decision-making process that you have no control over. The most common example is when a person wants a specific product feature or perhaps a service that you don’t offer. It won’t matter how much you try to overcome that issue, if the buyer is set on having that particular feature or service, you will not likely close the sales.
Lastly, a block or stall is usually an excuse to postpone or avoid making a buying decision. You will frequently hear this expressed as, “I need to think about it” or something similar. This is most often a result of failing to effectively position your solution.
Listen carefully to what people say. If it sounds anything like these chances are you are not dealing with a true objection. If you are unsure, ask an additional to clarify before you automatically start offering a solution.
Every sales person experiences objections. Unfortunately, the majority of sales people take the wrong approach and try to box customers into a corner by asking questions such as:
“If I can do that price do we have deal?”
“Is that the only thing holding back?”
“What do I need to do to earn your business?”
“If I can offer a solution would you be willing to buy today?”
Give me a break! These are nothing more than manipulative sales tactics that, ultimately, make a customer feel uncomfortable and coerced into buying the product or service.
The real key to solving objections is to work at eliminating them altogether. You can accomplish this by investing more time qualifying your customer. Salespeople who ask more questions generally face fewer objections during the selling process. The reason is simple… they uncover potential objections early in the sales cycle. Questions that will help you uncover potential objections include:
“Who else is involved in this decision?”
The purpose of this question is to establish who else has input in the decision making process. If someone else has influence on the final decision you may end up spinning your wheels trying to close the sale without her present.
“What time frame are you working with?”
This question is much more effective than asking, “When were you looking to buy?” which can put people on the defensive. “Who else are you talking to?”
This helps you understand what other vendors or companies are bidding on the project. This can assist you in differentiating yourself from your competitors.
“What was your experience with…?”
Based on the customer’s previous experience(s) you can now position your product or service to exceed their experience at your competitor.
These questions will draw out information from your customer. This information then allows you to position your product or service in a manner that best suits the customer’s needs and wants. I’ve had many salespeople in my workshops express their own objections about this approach:
“Asking all these questions takes too long.”
“People won’t give me the answers I’m looking for.”
“I’ve tried this and it doesn’t work.”
“I’ve been given a script to use for every objection so I don’t need to do this.”
“My customers care only about price so it doesn’t matter what questions I ask.”
I certainly understand and appreciate each of these objections because they are valid. Here are my responses:
“Asking all these questions takes too long.”
right, qualifying DOES take time. However, proportionately speaking, it takes less time to ask these questions than it does to overcome an objection because a customer is less defensive. Many salespeople actually spend more time trying to overcome objections than they would have asking questions.
“People won’t give me the answers I’m looking for.”
People will tell you anything you want to know providing you give them a good enough reason. Once you establish a safe, comfortable environment customers will open up and tell you things you never dreamed of. Your goal is to ask questions in a non-threatening manner, to listen to their responses, and to help them relax and feel comfortable.
“I’ve tried this approach and it doesn’t work.”
I won’t dispute the fact that some salespeople have a difficult time applying this concept. In fact, many actually experience a decline in sales when they first try to implement this concept. I suggest that you keep practicing until you become comfortable asking questions such as these. Once you become relaxed your customers will also become more comfortable and this will result in more sales.
“I’ve been given a script to use for every objection so I don’t need to do this.”
Many businesses give scripts to their sales staff. However, this approach seldom addresses the real concern a customer has and can sometimes offend them.
“My customers care only about price so it doesn’t matter what questions I ask.”
This is not an uncommon perception among salespeople. However, this perception may be incorrect. Although price is a factor in virtually every sale it is seldom the primary issue. Many people look for overall value, not price. When you ask them quality questions, you begin to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Once you begin separating yourself from other similar businesses you give people a reason to focus on issues other than price.
Asking questions such as these will help you prevent some objections from arising. The goal is to learn enough about your customer’s situation to present a product/service that fits his or her needs and want so closely that you give them a compelling reason to buy from you, today, at your price.