Sales and Sales Management Blog

October 30, 2009

Guest Article: “Ten Secrets of Persuasion,” by Nido Qubein

Filed under: Closing Sales,Handling questions,Persuasion,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 10:14 am
Tags: , ,

Ten Secrets of Persuasion
by Nido Qubein

Do you want to boost your selling power?  Then, add power to your persuasion.

But how can you add power to our persuasion?  How can you become more effective at persuading your customers to buy?

Let’s look at the way the skilled professionals put power into their ability to persuade.

Let me share with you ten secrets I’ve learned from some of the most persuasive salespeople in America — ten ways to add power to your persuasion.  I call them the 10 P’s of persuasion.

(1) Be positive.

One of the most successful insurance salesmen in America is a country fellow from South Georgia, who says, “You can no more sell something you don’t believe in, than you can come back from some place you ain’t been.”

Successful salespeople are positive people.

They have positive mental attitudes about themselves, the companies they represent, the products or services they’re selling, the prospects they’re attempting to persuade, the country they live in.  They’re positive about everything.

Enthusiasm is contagious.  When you’re excited about life and the work you’re doing, you can persuade with power, because you can get other people excited.

(2) Prospect. 

Successful salespeople have learned to direct their persuasive power toward people who have the resources to buy and have good reasons to buy what they are selling.

Professional salespeople pinpoint prospects who are likely to provide long-term profitability.  They analyze the possibilities for cross-selling.  They know that it takes an average of three calls to cross-sell an existing customer but seven to sell to a new customer.

In short, the powerful persuader targets all efforts at the person who has the resources, the motivation, and the authority to buy, and the potential for profitable repeat sales.

(3) Prepare. 

Red Motley, who started Parade magazine, said that the average salesperson will work like crazy to get an appointment, then blow the opportunity with a poor presentation after the decision-maker has agreed to the interview.

You don’t make sales to busy people by rambling on for 40 minutes about features and benefits.  Usually, after such disjointed presentations, neither the salesperson nor the prospect can summarize what’s just been said. 

Professional salespeople always do their homework.  They know that the better they’re prepared, the more persuasive they’ll be when they walk in to make a presentation. 

They research to find out everything they need to know about the prospect.  They plan what they will show and what they will say.  And they practice, practice, practice.
 
(4) Perform. 

Amateur salespeople complain furiously when they are beaten out by a competitor.  How could that customer buy that overpriced, poor-quality product? He must be an idiot!

The customer was no idiot.  The complainer was just outperformed by a more competitive salesperson. 

Remember: People don’t buy; they’re sold.  In fact, nothing is ever bought.  Everything has to be sold.  If you don’t make a strong presentation, you can’t persuade your prospect to buy.

Powerful persuaders are like stage actors playing to a full house.  They are artists at making their presentations.  They’re entertaining and informative to watch and hear.

To succeed in business, you have to make every second of every minute of your “action time” count.

(5) Be perceptive. 

Powerful persuaders are alert to everything that happens during a sales interview. 

They are not preoccupied with personal problems, with airline schedules, or even with the next call they are going to make.  They know that reaching a sales goal always begins with making the sale at hand.

Powerful persuaders tune into their prospects and look for the motivating forces in the life of each.  Once they discover that motivating force, they play to the motivation.

To add power to your persuasion, learn to read your prospects and to discover the motivations they have to buy or not to buy.

(6) Probe.

Average salespeople do a lot of talking.  They can give you a 30-minute speech on any subject you want to name.

That’s why silence is so threatening to most salespeople.  The instant a prospect pauses to take a breath, the amateur will jump in with a sales spiel, just to break the silence.

But powerful persuaders use questions to diagnose the needs and concerns of a prospect much as a skilled physician uses them to diagnose the problems of a patient.

They become masters at asking penetrating questions, and they use those questions to draw prospects into the selling process.
 
(7) Personalize.

The most powerful word in selling is you.

The emphasis on you marks the difference between manipulative and non-manipulative selling.

Manipulative selling is self-centered.  It focuses on what the salesperson wants and needs.

Non-manipulative selling is client-centered.  It focuses on the needs and desires of the prospect.

A person who is looking at the business proposition you are offering wants to know just one thing: What’s in it for me?

If you want to add power to your persuasion, personalize every part of your presentation to meet your prospect’s own personal needs and wants.

(8) Please. 

Powerful persuaders seek to close sales by pleasing their clients.  When prospects become excited about the idea of owning what you’re selling, they become customers.

Professional salespeople know that they can’t force their prospects to buy.  Their challenge is to make them want to buy.  So they seek to please them in so many ways that they create the desire to buy.

(9) Prove.

Salespeople with selling savvy don’t make statements they can’t back up with facts. 

And they don’t expect their clients to accept at face value everything they say.  They are always prepared to prove every claim they make — to back up those claims with hard data, with test results, and with performance records.

One of the best ways to persuade by proving is to give proof statements from people who are happy with your products or services.  Third-party endorsements go a long way in building credibility for your claims, and for your products.

Facts and testimonials are very persuasive.  Learn to use them, and become a powerful persuader.

(10) Persist.

Call on good prospects as many times as it takes to sell them.  About 80% of sales are made on the fifth call or later.  Yet studies have shown that:

·  50% of America’s salespeople call on a prospect one time, and quit.
·  18% call on a prospect twice, and give up.
·  7% call three times, and call it quits.
·  5% call on a prospect four times before quitting.
·  Only 20% call on a prospect five or more times before they quit.

It’s that 20% who close 80% of the sales in America.

You don’t have to become a dynamic personality to sell.  You don’t have to put pressure on people, or out-talk people to sell. 

The most effective thing you can do is to apply your own selling savvy to these ten ways to add strength to your persuasion.

Learn how to persuade more effectively and you will boost your selling power.

Nido Qubein is president of High Point University, an accredited undergraduate and graduate institution with 3,000 students from 50 countries and 44 states. He has written numerous books and recorded scores of audio and video learning programs including a bestseller on effective communication published by Nightingale-Conant and Berkley. Qubein’s business  savvy led him to help start a bank in 1986 and today he serves on the board and executive committee of a Fortune 500 financial corporation with 115 billion-dollars in assets and 25,000 employees. He is also chairman of Great Harvest Bread Company with 218 stores in 42 states. He serves on the boards of several national organizations including the La-Z-Boy Corporation, one of the world’s largest and most recognized furniture retailers. Learn more about Nido Qubein at http://www.nidoqubein.com

Advertisements

October 28, 2009

Interview of Sharon Drew Morgen on Buying Facilitation

I interview my friend, New York Times best-selling author and creator of Buying Facilitation®, Sharon Drew Morgen.  She discusses what Buying Facilitation is and her new book, Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it:

Sharon Drew Morgen Interview

I encourage you to visit Sharon Drew’s website and grab a copy of her new book Dirty Little Secrets at either Amazon or the book’s website.

October 26, 2009

Guest Article: “Position Yourself as a Value Provider,” by Ardath Albee

Filed under: prospecting,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 8:54 am
Tags: , , , ,

This is cool, I get to promote two friends at once today: The following  article by Ardath Albee was first published on Jill Konrath’s 2009 Sales shebang conference website.

Position Yourself as a Value Provider
By Ardath Albee  

When a salesperson jumps into the lead relationship after marketing has nurtured them, it’s essential to do so in a context that matches the lead’s expectations. Depending on the amount of information the salesperson has available at the point of transition, the message they send can have a huge impact on how well they position themselves as a value provider.

Your prospective buyers experience information about your company’s offerings in a myriad of different ways. Depending on their priorities, messaging can miss completely leaving that lead to wonder what the heck happened and causing them to question whether they really want to work with a company who understands them one minute and acts like they’re a stranger the next.

Let’s consider an example.

Sara has been actively following a marketing campaign from your company about how to gain more efficiency in staff utilization. She’s read every white paper and web page that relates to increasing staff productivity, attended a webinar on the subject and requested a salesperson call her.

You get assigned Sara’s account. But, you have no idea that her express interest is increasing efficiency so you choose a pre-populated key value message that’s worked well in the past when you email her to set up a telephone meeting—the one that emphasizes reducing costs by cutting head count.

Sara doesn’t respond. In fact, when you try to call her to follow-up, her assistant insists she’s busy and dumps you directly into voicemail.

Both of you are now wondering what happened.

You think marketing got carried away and over scored Sara’s account, pushing her forward in the process when she wasn’t “hot” enough to move to sales activities. She thinks you’re uninterested and out of touch and can only shudder at the thought that once she becomes a customer her account will be handled in the same fashion. Sara also likely thinks that all you care about is the sale, which is a total disconnect from her previous dialog with your company.

The problem here is a failure to communicate.

You need to make sure that you get as much profile information about leads assigned to your queue as you can. If you step into the conversation with a relevant message that conveys a high level of understanding and attention to customer detail, Sara is likely to have an entirely different response to your message. You’ll have positioned yourself as a value provider focused on helping Sara solve a high-priority business issue.

Research by Huthwaite® in regards to prospecting showed 94% of buyers couldn’t remember a single prospector or message they had received during the last two years. This means that the more closely a salesperson ties their message to the marketing dialog the lead is accustomed to, and anticipating, the better outcome they can achieve. If your message is disconnected from their prior experience, it can be like pushing a rock uphill to get that opportunity back on track.

By the same token, make sure your outreach does not assume too much. As the shift from nurturing to sales activities takes place, you need to re-establish a comfort level with the lead. This means you need to enter the dialog at the same place they’re at in their buying cycle.

The following tips can help you do just that with the leads you receive from marketing:

  • Reference their implicit interest in a high-priority business issue
  • Offer something of value – article, success story, etc.
  • Do not pitch them
  • Do not mention your product
  • Give them a specific reason to respond to you – one that has value for them.
  • Be professional, but personable

It’s important that your communication be perceived as valuable by the lead. The entire sales process is now about the value buying from you can deliver. Let’s face it, if they wanted just the product, they can probably find one similar to yours somewhere else. Products are commodities.

Glen Petersen, in his book The Profit Maximization Paradox, says that 85% of the decision to buy is directly impacted by the interactions between salespeople and the customer. So once the transition to sales happens, the ball is almost entirely in your court. The relationship you establish will make or break the deal.

Let’s look at a real message I received after exploring global collaboration on a vendor’s website. Although I’ve removed any specific company references, I think you’ll get the point.

Ardath                                    

As gas prices continue to rise, many businesses are looking for creative ways to cut costs and remain competitive. Our company’s product can help you reduce expenses, while increasing productivity throughout your business.

Let me show you how you can:

  • Product Benefit A
  • Product Benefit B
  • Product Benefit C

Do you have time this week or next for a brief discussion about your business needs? Please reply with the best time for me to contact you.

Best regards,
Sally Salesperson

Does anything about that message speak to my interests or let me know the salesperson has any idea what matters to me? Even though that first sentence could speak to a need, it’s generic, assumed and doesn’t show they even know what I’m interested in. On top of that, they want me to make time to educate them about my business needs. They obviously have no idea about my priorities.

This kind of “so what?” message will leave you in the dust as fast as a lead can hit the delete button. It is not about the potential customer, it’s about them. The salesperson hasn’t done their homework. Most of your leads will see right through such poor messaging, resulting in diminishing engagement with you, and your company.

Now, let’s look at a message likely to generate a better response:

Ardath,

I noticed you’ve read a number of our website resources about how to collaborate more effectively across geographic locations.

I’ve researched your company and would like to share an example of how we’ve helped companies like yours achieve that goal. Not only have they achieved higher levels of collaboration, but demonstrated value by delivering innovations to their customers—much faster than ever before.

I’ve attached a success story to demonstrate the business case and have some additional ideas I’d like to share with you to help your company quickly achieve these kinds of outcomes.

If you think your company will benefit with this kind of successful collaboration, let’s talk.

Thanks,
Sally

Which one of these messages would you not only rather receive, but be more likely to respond to? The first one is company focused and indifferent to the lead’s expressed interests. The second one shows you care and positions you as a value provider. By sending targeted messages, you’ll have a much better shot at assuring that 85% of the purchase decision swings in your favor.

B2B marketing strategist and CEO of Marketing Interactions, Ardath Albee helps companies significantly increase their marketing effectiveness by generating more and better leads for their sales organization. She helps them capture the attention of web site visitors, and keep in touch with high value content till they are “sales ready.”

October 22, 2009

Book Review: RFPs Suck:How to Master the RFP System Once and for All to Win Big Business

RFPs suckIf you’ve had to respond to RFPs—even just one—you know that RFPs do, in fact, suck.  Lots of books have titles that don’t work well, are misleading, or weak, but RFPs Suck is a title that speaks to the soul of anyone who has fought—and probably lost far more often than won—the RFP system.

RFP’s Suck: How to Master the RFP System Once and for All to Win Big Business by Tom Searcy (Channel V Books:  2009) is designed specifically for small to mid-size companies seeking to compete with their large competitors in the game of responding to the Request for Proposal or Request for Quote that is so often the vendor selection method preferred by major companies and by government agencies.

Searcy is a veteran of the RFP wars having won over 1.5 billion dollars in business through the process.  He’s turned that experience into a lucrative consulting/training business.  Now, he’s taken the next step and turned it into a book.

RFPs Suck is a short, direct, to-the-point guide to giving you and your company the advantage you need in order to compete in a process that is, as Searcy says, “not built for you.”  The system is built for and caters to large vendors, not small to mid-size companies.  In fact, Searcy says, in many cases rather than giving you a chance to compete, the system is designed to keep you out.

Can you as a small to mid-size company compete in a system that is built not only to cater to your large competitors but to keep you in your place? 

According to RFPs Suck, you certainly can—IF you learn how to recognize and take advantage of real opportunities, avoid those where you have little or no chance of winning, and construct a proposal that gives you the winning advantage.

RFPs Suck is a short, direct, to-the-point book that wastes little space.  You won’t find lots of tangents, filler stories, or attempts by the author to become the next Hemmingway or Faulkner.  Instead, Searcy concentrates on laying out in concise chapters the guidance you need to become an RFP expert:

  • How to recognize a real RFP opportunity—and how to recognize and avoid dead ends that can cost an arm and a leg in both time and money
  • How to determine if your company is ready and capable of competing
  • How to ‘read’ an RFP to discover the real motive for issuing it 
  • How to stand out from the crowd and give yourself the necessary advantage to win the battle
  • How to write the RFP from cover letter to the addendums
  • How your proposal will be evaluated and how to get it into final consideration
  • Detailed examples of responses to RFPs with an analysis of the response

In only 143 pages Searcy takes you from beginning to end in evaluating and responding to an RFP or RFQ and shows you how to create a winning proposal and does it very well.

In a world where RFPs are becoming increasing important, knowing how to create a proposal that gives you the best possible shot at getting the business is crucial—and surprisingly simple (simple, not easy).  Whether RFPs are a regular part of your business or just an occasional pain, RFPs Suck is a guide book you really shouldn’t be without.

October 21, 2009

Are You a Small Business? Take Advantage of the Current Populist Anger

Filed under: business,Culture,marketing,small business,trust — Paul McCord @ 10:35 am
Tags: , , ,

Polls show that more and more Americans distrust the government.   Other polls indicated that banks, insurance companies, multi-national corporations, and the recipients of government bailout monies are also suffering from distrust on the part of a large part of the American population.

Big in all its organizational forms is on the outs.

The distrust of government is nothing new; after all, America was founded on the distrust of large government.  There’s nothing more American than distrusting politicians and government, whether national, state, or local. 

Aside from government, look at who’s getting creamed in terms of trust issues:  banks such as Chase, Bank of America, Citi; financial services firms such as Merrill Lynch, UBS, any company with the word ‘insurance’ in it; GM, GE, Chrysler, Exxon/Mobile, Halliburton, McDonalds, Walmart, and dozens of others.

What do they all have in common?

Size.

These are all huge corporations that have attracted a considerable amount of distrust, some because of their financial weakness, others because of real or perceived greed, still others because of political correctness.  But no matter the cause, they’re currently on the trust hit list.

What does that mean for small and mid-size companies?

A void to be filled.  An opportunity to take advantage of.  A chance to penetrate markets.  A bit more level playing field—at least for a time.

Just because consumers don’t trust major corporations doesn’t mean that they don’t need and/or want the products and services those corporations provide. 

Banks are still needed.

Financial services too.

People still have to shop and eat.  They still buy cars, appliances, electronics.

If the politically correct turn from Walmart, where do they go? Possibly a local or regional retailer.

 If they refuse to purchase from GM but want a Tahoe, what do they do?  Possibly purchase from a local used car dealer.

 If they reject Chase and Bank of America, who do they bank with?  Maybe with a local or regional bank.

If they’re not going to McDonald’s or Burger King for lunch, where are they going?  Maybe they eat at a local or regional restaurant. 

Maybe they buy from you.

Big is out and it has to be replaced.  Why not by you?  Why can’t you step in and fill the trust void?

In today’s economy where those who seem to be thriving are doing so as much by cutting payroll and expenses as by maintaining sales and profit margins, finding and exploiting any advantage you can find is critical and taking advantage of the current populist anger toward big business can certainly benefit those small and mid-size businesses and their salespeople who recognize the advantage they currently have over their large competitors.

Rather than sitting back hoping to continue to survive, hit the streets and start calling on those prospects who didn’t think you were big enough, experienced enough, or had the financial strength to earn their business. 

We’ve certainly seen that experiece, size, and financial strength don’t mean much.  All those well educated and experienced Harvard MBA’s made a mint while destroying the companies they were supposed to be running.  Those old line companies were the ones ‘too big to fail’ that should have been left to fail.  Those financially stable behemoths were anything but financially stable.

Now isn’t the time to be hiding and hoping, it’s the time to be aggressively seeking new business because as has happened in the past, the anger at big business won’t last forever, so take advantage of it while you can.

October 20, 2009

Guest Article: “Listen to What Your Prospect is Saying to You,” by Wendy Weiss

Listen to What Your Prospect is Saying to You
by Wendy Weiss

I just hung up the telephone after an annoying conversation with someone who called to inquire if I would be interested in a joint venture. You see, yesterday I had received an email from Jane, the marketing director, describing their program and asking if I would be interested in promoting the program to my list. I took a look at their web site and it looked like they could have something of value to offer. While the program Jane wrote about in her email did not seem like a great fit, I am interested in finding joint venture partners that would add value for my subscribers, so I replied to the email:

“Hello Jane,

“Thank you for your email.

“I am not sure that we have an ideal fit for my list with this program, however I am looking for joint venture partners to work with.

“My list is entrepreneurs, business owners, sales professionals, service professionals and network marketers. I currently have 9600+ subscribers.”

We agreed via email to have a telephone conversation.

At the beginning of our conversation, I reiterated that I was not sure that their current program was right for my list. However, I was interested in finding potential joint venture partners. I asked what other types of programs they offered.

Jane responded by asking me about the market that I serve. Since I’d already given her that information in my email (”my list is entrepreneurs, business owners, sales professionals, service professionals and network marketers”), that was a bad first question. I pointed out to her that she already had that information.

Next, Jane began to give me details of their program offering. I let her talk for a minute or so, then said, “Jane, I just told you that I did not think this program is a fit for my list and asked you about other programs you plan to offer in the future. Why are you telling me about this program? It’s not a fit.”

She then offered to tell me about their principal, Mr. X, and his background and credentials. As I never promote any programs or products to my list unless I am familiar with them, I agreed to hear her out. Jane told me that, “Mr. X was a renowned and award-winning author and expert in his field. He had helped thousands of business owners with his unique and amazing programs…” I interrupted the hype and told her I didn’t see a fit, but I thanked her for her time. End of conversation.

So, what are our lessons learned today?

Jane sounded “on script.” That is, she’d been given a script, and a hypey one at that, and she was hell-bent on delivering it no matter what. She paid no attention to the information in my email, hence her first bad question. She didn’t listen to or question me when I told her that I was not interested in the program she was promoting but wanted to talk about other possibilities. She could have asked me, “What types of programs are you looking for?” or “What types of programs would be of value to your list?” Unfortunately, she did not.

While I am a true believer in scripting, that is not the way to use a script. While you always want to craft your presentation so that you are prepared, you also must listen to what your prospect says to you. Sometimes, despite all of your preparation, you may not have exactly the right script. Occasionally, you will come across a prospect who asks questions or offers objections that you have never before encountered, so you don’t have an ideal way to deal with them. Even so, you need to respond to your prospect appropriately. If you ignore their questions or statements (the way Jane did), you will end up with a prospect who is seriously annoyed (as I was).

If you encounter a question or an objection that you have never before heard, listen to your prospect and respond to what they are saying to the best of your ability. You may not be perfect, but that’s ok. After you hang up, write down exactly what your prospect said to stump you so that you don’t forget it. If you thought you had a good response, then write that down too so that you don’t forget it. Otherwise, go looking for better responses. Talk to your manager, colleagues, coach, read books, attend teleseminars or seminars – do what you need to do so that you don’t ever get stumped by that particular question or objection again.

You must pay attention to what your prospect says to you. In the above instance, if this was the only program that Mr. X produces, and the only program that Jane was interested in promoting, then I was not a qualified prospect for them. I very clearly told Jane in my email that, “I am not sure that we have an ideal fit for my list with this program…”  If she had nothing else to offer me, she should have responded to my email, told me that was their only program and thanked me for my interest. She would have saved us both time and aggravation.

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™, is an author, speaker, sales trainer, and sales coach. She is recognized as one of the leading authorities on lead generation, cold calling and new business development and she helps clients speed up their sales cycle, reach more prospects directly and generate more sales revenue. Her clients include Avon Products, ADP, Sprint and thousands of entrepreneurs throughout the country.  Visit her website

October 17, 2009

The Top 25 Ranked Blogs on Sales and Selling

Filed under: sales,Sales Resources,selling — Paul McCord @ 10:48 am

The top 50 sales blogs on the internet as ranked by BlogRank using 20 different criteria.  I’ve included the Twitter address for each that I could find

ChangingMinds    http://twitter.com/changingminds 

Cross-Cultural eMarketer And International Sales Specialist  Cindy King     http://twitter.com/CindyKing

Persuasive.net

Sales Machine  Geoffrey James   http://twitter.com/Sales_Machine

B2B Lead Generation Blog  Brian Carroll   http://twitter.com/brianjcarroll

Sales Team Tools? 

SalesBlogcast – Sales and Leadership Blog  Doyle Slayton    http://twitter.com/SalesBlogcast 

Shane Gibsons Sales Podcast and Sales Blog – Sales Training Canada – USA – Motivational Speaker   http://twitter.com/shanegibson

Sales Management 2.0

Simplenomics  Mike Sigers   http://twitter.com/MikeSigers

Sharon Drew Morgen     http://twitter.com/sharondrew

Sales and Sales Management Blog  Paul McCord   http://twitter.com/paul_mccord

Selling to Big Companies   Jill Konrath   http://twitter.com/jillkonrath

Modern B2B Marketing | Marketo Blog  Mac McIntosh  http://twitter.com/B2B_Sales_Leads

Sales Lead Insights: B2B Marketing Blog    

Think Customers: The 1to1 Blog

Neuromarketing  Roger Dooley   http://twitter.com/rogerdooley

sales training blog – startup sales mentor  Karl Goldfield   http://twitter.com/karlgoldfield

Creating Revenue and Retention  David Dalka 

The Science and Art of Selling by Alen Majer    http://twitter.com/alenmajer

Life in the Telebusiness Trenches  Josiane Feigon  

Online Lead Generation Blog 

Understanding the Sales Force  Dave Kurlan

Sales Training Blog  Josh Gordon   http://twitter.com/JoshGordon

Inside Sales Experts Blog  Trish Bertuzzi    http://twitter.com/bridgegroupinc

These are only the top 25 blogs of the top 50.  Rankings change daily and all 50 of the blogs are superior and deserve your consideration of either following on Twitter or putting them into your RSS reader.

See all 50 blogs

Attend Jonathan Farrington’s Masterclass “So You Want to be a Top 5% Player in the Game of Sales?” on Tuesday On Me

On Tuesday October 20th – 1:00 pm Eastern, Jonathan Farrington presents his first solo Top Sales Experts Masterclass of 2009, and you can be there, with my compliments.

So You Want To Be A Top 5% Player In The Game Of Sales?

Recent exhaustive surveys suggest that only 5% of professional salespeople reach and remain at the highest level, which we call Level 3. A further 15% attain Level 2 status, but the majority, i.e. a massive 80% remain at Level 1 in terms of potential achievement.

Level One salespeople sell products and depend on having the right technical solution for the customer’s specification. This is probably you

Level Two salespeople sell solutions, which changes their image from sales rep to business consultant and positions them as a potential strategic resource. Most salesmen and women manage to advance from Level 1 to Level 2 fairly easily but unfortunately; many find breaking through that final glass ceiling extremely difficult i.e. moving from competitive sales professionals to collaborative sales consultants. Or is this you?

Level Three salespeople are able to first identify and then capitalise upon the political component within the buying process. They develop and sustain strong commercial relationships at all levels within their accounts and these relationships endure because they are based on mutual respect and trust. Their clients feel secure, so secure, that they would be fearful of changing supplier.

Level Three salespeople rarely, if ever, lose an order that they really want because they are always in control of the sales cycle. They have identified that in marketplaces where product uniqueness and technical expertise are no longer enough, it is they themselves, that make the difference i.e. their superior skills.

This could be you!

What we can say for certain, is that successful selling has become an exclusive club of highly skilled professionals where, for example, product knowledge, time management skills, objection handling and closing skills are the cost of membership, not leadership.

Attendees will not only receive a FREE copy of Jonathan’s most recent EBook “The Changing Face of Professional Selling” (Value $19.95) but also the chance to take a FREE ASP Profile (Value $175)

Jonathan Farrington is Chairman of The Sales Corporation, CEO of Top Sales Associates and Senior Partner at The JF Consultancy based in London and Paris.

He is also the Chairman of the Executive Board over at Top Sales Experts, and heads up the selection panel for AllBusiness’s latest initiative to find the very best sales professionals on the planet.

You can find out more about him and what they are saying about him here

Then you can accept my invitation to claim your FREE place for this significant event and register here – http://bit.ly/4wW1fc

October 15, 2009

Book Review: Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it

Change is difficult for most of us and especially difficult for an organization full of individuals.  Some of us resist, others encourage, others sabotage.  If we want our organization to get change right, we’ve got to involve everyone who will be affected by the change and allow them to prepare themselves, their departments, and the organization’s systems to handle the change in an orderly manner–or everything turns to chaos, and if chaos is an anticipated result, we simply won’t institute the change no matter how potentially beneficial that change may be.

Buying creates change. 

Whether purchasing a new product, replacing an existing vendor, or instituting a new program or service, when your prospects contemplate purchasing your products or services, they and their organizations are going to undergo significant change.  Often that change never happens (that is, you don’t make a sale), not because your product or service doesn’t solve a real issue they have or because it won’t improve their sales or because it won’t improve productivity or reduce expenses.  In fact, a great deal of the time purchases of products and services that have these very positive results are not made because the company can’t handle the change—yep, even  extremely positive change—the product or service will create.

What does this mean for sellers?  It means the way we sell is all wrong—or at least the way we deal with the concept of selling is all wrong.

Sharon Drew Morgen in Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it (Morgen Publishing: 2009) changes the whole concept of the sales process.  We sellers have been taught that we find a suspect, qualify them as a prospect, connect with them, identify a problem or issue, develop a solution, close the sale.  Morgen says that this vision of selling is all wrong because it doesn’t take into consideration the change management issues that must be dealt with before our prospects can commit to making the purchase.

According to Morgen, when our prospects disappear—when they say “I’ll get back to you” and never do, where they’ve gone is to deal with all of the behind the scenes issues they must deal with prior to making the commitment to purchase.  Why do most of them never get back to you?  Morgen says because they have not been able to get the people or the systems within the company in alignment to make the purchase.  Worse, all of this change management stuff is stuff that we as sellers have little knowledge or understanding of.

If all of this change management must take place before we can consummate a sale and it’s all out of our hands, is there anything we can do to either speed up the process or help the organization manage the change? 

Yes, Morgen says, we can help facilitate the change by engaging the company—our buyer—with the Buying Facilitation method.  This method, whose primary tool is Facilitative Questions, helps get all the necessary players within the company on board and leads them through thinking through the changes necessary to make the purchase possible.

Sound mysterious?  This isn’t rocket science but it’s a far cry from light reading.  Fortunately, Morgen makes it easier to understand by dividing the book into three sections. 

The first section lays out the change management issue from the buyer’s perspective.  She gives us insight into the changes a purchase necessitates—from its impact on individuals to company politics to systems.  She gives a great example of what a buyer must go through when making a simple purchase of a couple of extra dining room chairs (I’ll leave it to you find out on your own by reading the book why it’s so difficult to sell a couple of chairs).   

Section two goes through the process from the seller’s point of view, demonstrating where our traditional sales process has left us and our prospects high and dry.

And the third section details the Buying Facilitation method skills.  Buying Facilitation is about change management, not selling.  It is the precursor to selling, not a replacement for it.  It involves its own set of skills that don’t replace your selling skills but instead allow eventually using those selling skills more effectively and closing more sales.

If you really want to begin to understand why your closing ratio is so low, if you really want to know why those prospects never get back to you, if you really want to know what your selling process is missing, read Dirty Little Secrets.

Available at Amazon or Dirty Little Secrets Book

October 13, 2009

Resist the Hype While Taking Advantage of Social Media in Your Selling

Filed under: sales,Sales 2.0,selling — Paul McCord @ 10:06 am
Tags: , , ,

Have you received this SPAM email yet that I received over the weekend?

“Do you sell? Do you still waste time and money meeting with prospects face to face?  Are you still cold calling, using snail mail, or off-line advertising looking for business?

If so, you’re already out of business and are just too dumb to recognize it.

Today’s smart salespeople recognize and understand the power of Sales 2.0.  They understand that 20th century selling is dead and if they’re still trying to sell that way, they’re dead too.  They understand that social media is not only the wave of the future; it’s the wave of today.

If you think you can outsmart the market, you can’t.  If you think that because you’ve been successful using outdated prospecting and sales methods in the past you can continue to be successful in today’s market using those same methods, you’re wrong.

Don’t let some ‘guru’ sell you some outdated idea of how to sell that no longer works.

We are one of the premier companies helping independent sellers like you capture the power of the internet.  Formed by a core of three young, visionary, brilliant entrepreneurs, we are not bound by the blinders of what’s worked in the past but are instead in tune with the future.  We’re not trapped by history.”

The email goes on in the same vein, selling the idea that the world has changed and what has worked for sellers in the past will no longer work today—and this company will, of course, help sellers learn how to forget all they’ve been taught and learn the “new” way of selling, the way that’s easier, more productive, that eliminates having to deal with prospects and customers face to face, that uses the tools of social media to prospect, sell, and service.

If you get this or a similar email, delete it immediately.  It’s a deceit.  I don’t mean it’s deceitful in the sense the people connected with the company don’t believe what they’re saying.  They very well may believe every word they write.  But what they believe is wrong.  They misunderstand what’s going on in the marketplace.

I’m sure you are at least somewhat familiar with the idea of social media.  Certainly if you’re reading this article on a blog or off a website, you’re internet active.

The authors of the above email are correct in the sense that social media is here to stay and its influence will continue to grow.  Where they have gone wrong is in believing that social media is capable of changing the nature of our world.  That is, that social media can change human nature.  It can’t.

Certainly if you are selling a commodity, you may find a larger and larger share of your market purchasing off the internet without any interaction with a human being—or just minimal interaction via email or instant messaging.  However, if you are selling anything other than a commodity, the majority of your market is still going to want to deal with real humans.  Yes, a small percentage of your market may be happy making a major purchase without involving a human, but most will not.  It’s human nature to want to deal with a human, to be able to ask questions and get immediate, personal answers, to negotiate face to face or at least earpiece to mouthpiece.

Consequently, those “20th century” prospecting and sales skills will be just as valid in 2030 as they were in 1990.  Our technology may change, our nature won’t. 

As buyers, we may take advantage of researching our potential purchase on the internet prior to connecting with a human, but that human connection will remain vital for the majority of us.  We may use social media to help find potential suppliers, but it can’t flesh out the relationship we need with the supplier.

As sellers we may use social media to let prospects know who we are and what our capabilities are, but we must still interact to understand their individual needs, wants, issues, and problems.  We can begin to connect but we can’t analyze or develop a solution based on the shallowness of a virtual relationship. We can use social media to gain attention but it can’t go to the depths we must go to develop the trust and loyalty we must have to sustain a business long-term.   

There have been those who have predicted in the past that technology would fundamentally change the way we sell.  They’ve been wrong time after time.  When the telephone came on the scene there were some who predicted that salespeople would never again have to spend time and money meeting their prospects and clients face to face.  They were wrong.

For some, the fax machine was the key to freeing sellers from having to meet face to face with prospects and clients.  Now they could transact their business over the phone and when it came time to get the contract signed, all they’d have to do was fax it to the client, have them sign it, and then fax it back.  Didn’t happen.

For others it was email and then instant messaging that would be the magic technology to change sales.  We could now carry on a complete conversation while in the middle of doing other things.  We could even send documents, pictures, even audio and video.  Not only could we do everything via technology that we do face to face, we wouldn’t have our ego on the line as in a face to face meeting, so negotiations would go quicker and more smoothly.  Wrong.

For the majority of us who sell in a defined geographic area, meeting face to face will still be the crux of our business.  For those of us who sell on a broader field, the phone may be our primary communication tool, but building a deep relationship will still be the crux of our sales activity. 

There are a gazillion social media experts haunting the social media sites looking to pick up new clients.  One of the things I’ve noticed about a great many of them is their age—young, very young.  There is certainly nothing wrong with being young and one might expect younger people to be more attuned to the new technology than someone older. 

But there is a serious problem with youth (this is not to dismiss the advantages of youth—I’d like to have a bit more youth than I have)–a lack of experience, or as the email above proudly puts it, “not trapped by history.”

The young are not trapped by history as some of us longer in the tooth may be.  But at the same time youth lacks a grounding that experience gives.  Although I did not live through the expectations that the telephone would free salespeople from having to meet with prospects and clients face to face (I’m not THAT old), I have lived through the introduction of the fax, email, instant messaging, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and the other social media.  I’ve lived through several “revolutions” in sales that never materialized. 

In January of 2007 I had written a post encouraging sellers to learn more effective prospecting strategies as preparation for a quickly coming recession.  Of course, at that time the economy was doing well.  I received emails from a couple of young MBA’s claiming that I didn’t understand the “new economy” where there was no longer a fear of recession or a slowing of the economy.  These young MBA’s suffered from the same problem our young authors of the above email suffer from–a lack of historical perspective.  They believed they were experiencing something new, something revolutionary.  They weren’t, of course. 

There are some great social media coaches out there—some of them young.  Most social media experts recognize the limits of social media and actively work to help you meld your online and offline business activities. 

By all means, take advantage of the opportunities offered by social media, just don’t buy into the hype advanced by a few misguided souls who believe technology will change how humans act.  Our technology may be changing but human nature isn’t.  Technology may help you sell but it isn’t fundamentally changing how you sell.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: