Sales and Sales Management Blog

February 29, 2012

Guest Article: Strategic Questions Will Uncover Strategic Opportunities, by Andy Rudin

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 11:53 am
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Strategic Questions Will Uncover Strategic Opportunities
By Andrew Rudin

The late Peter Drucker said “true marketing starts out with the customer, his demographics, his realities, his needs, his values. It does not ask ‘what do we want to sell?’ It asks ‘what does the customer want to buy?’ So, why have so few people figured out how to routinely and systematically uncover this fundamental insight? And why do few senior managers pay more than lip service to encouraging or requiring their sales forces to discover the answer?

One reason is that in the quest to create a “sales-driven culture,” companies push muscular sales tactics that often subordinate the importance of questions. “ABC—Always Be Closing,” or “Show the ROI!” or “Go for a trial close after showing our key features,” are part of sales-process DNA. Does anyone remember this recommendation–“When you get the customer to answer ‘yes’ to three consecutive questions, ask for the order.” ? One sales training tape I heard ignored asking questions altogether, offering this nugget: “If the customer voices an objection, give them a ‘yes . . .but.. . .” (I am not making this up—and I’m sure the phonic similarity to “headbutt” is not just a coincidence!) These superficial tactics fall short by not embedding strategic discovery into the sales process.

What is strategic discovery? It’s the process of learning how an organization plans to create, monetize, and deliver its value. Why is strategic discovery a vital competency for sales forces? Because compared to operational problem solving, strategic collaboration tightly connects enterprises in a value chain. Those tight connections increase a vendor’s value and reduce selling risks. Why?  Because strategic initiatives are mission-critical and are often less ephemeral than operational initiatives. When a salesperson says “my solution enables your strategy,” she has a competitive advantage over the salesperson who says “my solution provides the highest ROI (and/or lowest Total Cost of Ownership).” I know from numerous sales engagements I’ve managed that “high ROI” alone provides a wobbly sales-value foundation. (See my recent blog, A Sales Team Needs More Than “High ROI” and “Low TCO” To Compete and related article The Right Sales Questions Will Get the Right Answers.)

Strategic discovery doesn’t have to be difficult, but the process makes many salespeople uncomfortable. Strategy questions must uncover business and financial challenges. They examine forces that are outside of anyone’s direct control. Part of the discussion includes blurry concepts like risks and trade-offs. Few strategic questions can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.” And strategic plans aren’t guided by ordained roadmaps or prescriptive methodologies.

So, what are the steps that a Sales-Discovery Black Belt should follow?

1. Begin with a foundation of mutual trust. As Jim Collins said in the bestseller Good to Great, “create an environment where the truth is heard.” Prospective customers don’t spontaneously open up and provide meaningful and honest answers to questions. And if you wait until the second meeting to start thinking about how to cultivate trust, it’s probably too late. Mutual transparency of goals and objectives must characterize the business relationship from the beginning. The best book I have read on this topic, Mahan Khalsa’s Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play, provides an approach that is as eloquent as it is sensible: “The decision to trust doesn’t start inside (your prospect)—it starts inside of you. Intent is a choice, and your choice will have consequences. You will communicate your intent whether you want to or not . . . Based on your intent, people will decide to trust you or not.”

2. Ask the right questions. Here are some of my favorite strategy questions, culled from a list of hundreds I’ve compiled over many years:

  • ·         What are the key capabilities and resources required to execute strategy and achieve your goals?
  • ·         In order to execute your business strategy, what are the key things you must do well?
  • ·         What proprietary advantages must your company create for your strategy to be successful?
  • ·         What are the most valuable outcomes your organization enables for your customers?
  • ·         What are the major forces driving changes in your business?
  • ·         What conditions have the most disruptive impact on your business now, and will have in the future?
  • ·         What are the greatest opportunities for your company to change the basis of competition in your industry? How might these impact barriers to entry? Switching costs? Relationships in your value chain? Product differentiation?
  • ·         How sustainable is your market position and the business model needed to achieve and support that position?
  • ·         What are your options for growing your business in the future?

3. Identify capability gaps. Specific operational questions will uncover gaps between strategic imperatives and current capabilities. For example, the question “What are the major forces driving changes in your business?” might yield that global competition is a condition of growing importance. If the prospect company lacks operational capabilities to manage a worldwide supply chain, a strategically-significant impediment has been identified. From this finding, the essential work of sales takes place—enabling a client first to believe the facts about an issue—then to care, then to act. Operational questions are instrumental for crossing the belief threshold, so caring and acting are more likely because of the strategic ramifications of the capability gap.

4. Align the gaps with a recommended solution. This final step ensures that the recommended solution matches the client’s strategic imperative. A scenario from my sales past illustrates the importance of this step. Several years ago, one prospective client told me “Our goal is to get our organization 100% on bar coding by the end of next year.” Although I was pleased he believed in my product, I cringed at his remark, wondering how he would handle the Q&A from his management peers at his next planning meeting. The strategic goal was to improve cash flow by cutting order cycle time. Bar coding was one enabler. By establishing a foundation of trust described in Step 1, my commitment was to help my client achieve that outcome.

Achieving the right sales outcome–my client’s success–required both my client and me to keep the strategic objective in focus.

Andrew (Andy) Rudin is Managing Principal of Outside Technologies, Inc., a Virginia-based sales strategy consulting firm.  Andy specializes in sales risk management, which in a nutshell means that he helps his clients improve their odds of achieving successful sales outcomes.  Most of his client work involves information technology products and services.

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February 26, 2012

In Praise of Failure

Filed under: career development,success — Paul McCord @ 12:44 pm
Tags: , , ,

In today’s politically correct world the idea there’s no such thing as failure has become so popular that it’s a staple of motivational speakers; sports leagues make sure that every kid feels like a success by giving each a participation trophy; schools teach kids that they didn’t fail, they just weren’t as successful as some other students; and some companies even make sure that every employee, even the biggest screw up, gets a reward for something.

Failure has become a forbidden, four-letter word; one that some think should be purged from the English language, for failure, they believe, destroys ego and can permanently damage the fragile psyche of a kid—or salesperson.  The very word destroys lives.

As a result we have today people entering the workforce who have never failed because they’ve been told that by simply showing up and breathing they’ve succeeded.  Many of these new members of the workforce rudely discover that failure is very much a reality—but instead of taking responsibility for their failure and learning from it, they find a million reasons why it was someone or something else’s fault.

Worse, society reinforces the idea that we cannot fail; we are told it isn’t our fault, instead we are victims of circumstance beyond our control.  We didn’t fail; we were victims.

Teaching the non-existence of failure is one of the most despicable things we can do to someone, as we are setting them up to be devastated when they are eventually confronted with the reality of the consequences of their failure.

The reality is, to put a little twist on a Gordon Gekko line: Failure is Good.

Failure only becomes negative when one accepts it as an end in itself, for there is a huge difference between failure and being a failure—one teaches, the other destroys.

Only through failure can we understand and appreciate success.

Only through failure can we grow.

Only through failure can we be molded into the success we want to be.

Failure is our teacher, our disciplinarian, our coach, and our goal setter.

Although training and coaching combined with time and effort are keys to obtaining the skills needed to become successful, they are in and of themselves insufficient to create a successful person.

If we think of training and coaching as the anvil that the hammer of time and effort beats us against to shape us, the hammering would be useless without the fire of failure to heat us to the point that we can be molded into a success.

If you want to become a success, get to know failure well and gladly take responsibility for it and accept its lessons.  Forget the silly PC denial of reality that failure doesn’t exist.  Instead embrace it as a key ingredient in your current and future success.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paul_mccord

February 24, 2012

Guest Article: To Excel in Selling, by Jerry Acuff

Filed under: career development,sales,selling,success — Paul McCord @ 2:57 pm
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To Excel in Selling
by Jerry Acuff

To excel in selling, you need to continue to sharpen your skills, to learn more about the art of selling and to continue to hone your craft. The truth is that the vast majority of people in any organization, including sales people, do what the company tells them to do in terms of continuous learning and development. So if the company does not provide continual training or opportunities to learn more about selling, most sales people will wind up not working on how to improve.

If you don’t spend the time and effort in improving, then what will happen? Your selling skills will actually decrease over time. Skills are similar to muscles–they will atrophy if they are not exercised continually. If you are not trying to improve, to learn more and to challenge yourself, then it would be difficult if not impossible to maintain the status quo.

If you are truly interested in becoming better—at selling, at engaging your customers, at asking questions, at gaining commitment, then you need to devote time and energy to doing so. That’s probably why blogs and other sources of information are so popular. You don’t need to devote hours to studying each day. But you do need to expose yourself to what the experts are saying, what new tools are available, what researchers are learning about people, how they think and react.  Life is a challenge—there will always be more that you can learn about—and you can always improve. That’s how the top people in any industry—whether it is sports or business or entertainment, stay on top. They are not satisfied with what they have done and accomplished—but know to excel they need to continue to challenge themselves to do better.

So the question to ask yourself is, “Am I satisfied with the opportunities my company provides for advancement?” If you are, then you will likely develop no further than your colleagues that take the same courses for improvement. To truly develop and become the best in your field, stretch yourself. Take courses outside the ones offered by your company, attend seminars in your field of interest, read books and learn what knowledge the experts impart. Not only will you benefit from your learnings and additional expertise, so will your customers. And you will see the results in your sales numbers and by exceeding your sales quota.

 

Jerry Acuff, CEO and founder of Delta Point, has over twenty years of experience in speaking and consulting extensively on the issues of sales and marketing excellence. Jerry’s breadth and depth of experience and expertise has led to his position as Executive in Residence at the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Jerry has been featured in numerous business magazines (Fortune, Fast Company, Selling Power, etc.) and on MSNBC. Jerry is the author of three best-selling business books: The Relationship Edge, The Relationship Edge in Business, and Stop Acting Like a Seller and Start Thinking Like a Buyer.

February 20, 2012

Guest Article: Meet Them Where They Are, by Diane Helbig

Meet Them Where They Are
by Diane Helbig

Salespeole are as individual as snowflakes. The way they communicate, sell, and build relationships is equally unique. If you want to lead them, you have to meet them where they are.

Here’s what often happens in sales departments all over the world. The sales manager picks a goal, picks a process, and shares it with the sales team. It’s a ‘do this’ mentality. This process is usually one that served the sales manager well when she was a sales person. She believes that since it worked for her, it’ll work for everyone.

Sales managers also believe that it’s their job to direct their staff; it’s their job to structure the way their salespeople behave. They create the plan and then expect the salespeople to follow it. They decide when to do ride-alongs, when the salespeople should be in the office, and when they should be out in the field. They decide how the sales people should sell, what they should say, who they should say it to, and where they should go. And, they are wrong.

A good sales manager knows that she’ll be successful when her salespeople are successful. It’s not about what worked for her; it’s about what works for the sales staff – individually. Respecting their unique capabilities and needs will help her help them.

A good sales manager knows her salespeople. She’s taken the time to get to know them and how they operate. She’s talked with them about how they plan to succeed, and what they need to make that happen. Then the sales manager works with the salesperson to help them craft a plan that is unique to them. Together they develop a reporting system that makes sense.

It’s the sales manager’s job to work with her sales people in a way that is best for them, not her. This individualized attention will ensure that their needs are being met and that they have the tools they need to succeed. Since no two people are the same, it stands to reason that no two people will need the same plan and assistance to reach their goals.

Creating a one-size fits all type of sales program only works for the sales manager. It makes it easier on the sales manager because they have to expend less effort. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to get them the results that they want.

When you want to be successful and you want your staff to be successful, you’ll work with them to create strategies that work for each sales person. You’ll take the time to give each sales person what he or she needs to succeed. They will rise to the occasion because you are empowering them to create their own success. There’s nothing worse than being forced to work someone else’s program. Don’t force your staff to work yours.

 Diane Helbig is an internationally recognized business and leadership development coach, author, speaker, and radio show host. As a certified, professional coach and president of Seize This Day Coaching, Diane helps businesses and organizations operate more constructively and profitably. She evaluates, encourages, and guides her clients

February 14, 2012

Book Review: High-Profit Selling, by Mark Hunter

Filed under: Book Reviews — Paul McCord @ 11:48 am
Tags: , , ,

In the great big world of sales books there are two types of books—those that purport to take the “big picture” perspective of selling and those that are designed to have actual value in the real world by providing real, workable, effective strategies to help sellers and sales leaders improve their performance.

And within the group intended to deliver usable information there is a further breakdown into those that are simply fluff and filler and those that really deliver on their promise to help sellers become better sellers.

If you have spent any time scanning the sales books in Amazon or Barnes and Noble you know there’s no dearth of “big picture” books (books that although fun to read leave one wondering why they wasted their time reading it because ultimately it really didn’t have anything applicable in it).  You also know there are thousands of the “this is your key to sales success” strategy books that for the most part simply lay out a couple of time worn strategies and use stories as filler to put some pages to the book.

Thankfully you will find that there are a few books that deliver real value; that aren’t stuffed with fluff just to make the book thicker; and that provide a broad range of effective strategies all designed and coordinated to accomplish a specific goal.

One of those few books of real value is Mark Hunter’s new book, High-Profit Selling: Win The Sale Without Compromising On Price (AMACOM:  2012).

Hunter comes from the trenches of sales—he spent almost two decades selling for Fortune 100 companies.  His experience is that of a seller, not a theorist or seller wanna be.

Those years of real world selling, combined with his years as a sales trainer are at the heart of High-Profit Selling, and all designed to do one thing—help you acquire more business without compromising on price.

In today’s tough economy it is common for sellers and sales leaders to think in terms of capturing business by cutting price.  Hunter argues—and presents the tools necessary to do so—that you don’t have to cut price and profit in order to win business even in today’s troubled economy.

Instead of cutting price, learn how to create the value that justifies your price.

High-Profit Selling presents a comprehensive approach to creating value to support your price.  Hunter’s concentration is on value building and he thus spends a good deal of time on how to dig down to uncover prospect needs and issues, the fine points of communication, and leveraging knowledge, but he doesn’t neglect the equally critical issues of how to prospect, how to deal with price objections, and how to deal effectively—and profitably—with RFP’s, RFQ’s and professional buyers.

In addition to the standard one-on-one selling situation, Hunter addresses the need for an on-line presence, how to become a thought leader in your industry, and how to get your information out onto the internet in a manner that will inform and attract prospects.

It is common for many readers of sales books to skip around and read the parts that sound interesting and to ignore the rest.  In some cases, the reader skips the greater part of the book.

First, I’d advise readers not to approach High-Profit Selling as a magazine with each chapter being an article that can be read or skipped—read the entire book and read it in order.

Second, if you simply cannot control yourself and you must read the book as you would Reader’s Digest; by all means do not skip the “One Percent Continuous Improvement Process” section in the last chapter.  I suspect that a great many readers will skip this section and they’ll suffer because of it.  In the space of just about three pages Mark presents a very simple concept that can literally change your career in a matter of months.  By concentrating on improving a single aspect of your selling each week by just one percent you will improve your sales performance by almost 70% over the course of a year.  What would your pipeline—and bank account—look like if your performance was improved  by 60 or 70% by the end of the year?

If you’re looking for a well written, high value book to help you increase your sales, High-Profit Selling has just hit the streets and is in stock at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million.  I encourage you to pick up a copy and learn how to make your numbers without compromising on profit.

February 13, 2012

Guest Article: Breathless Business, by Dan Waldschmidt

BREATHLESS BUSINESS
by Dan Waldschmidt

We’ve become a generation of “good enough” business leaders.

We’ve traded a relentless focus on being extraordinary for the justification that we are following the rules. That we are doing what we’ve been told we should be doing — college degree, MBA, and 5 year subscription to Smart Business magazine.

Nothing too risky.

Nothing unexplained.

In place of wonderment, we’ve adopted process, policy, and politics. There are rules for everything. And when that doesn’t work we can always blame the “nine-to-fivers” for not doing enough.

If something goes wrong then we unwire the entire business process and start strategizing around the uncertainty that we just experienced.

But maybe this whole drive for understanding the process is why we find it so tough to stay motivated. To stay focused on our mission. To take the road less traveled.

We’ve lost our sense of breathlessness. Our curiosity for achieving the impossible.

If we can’t predict it, project it, and plan for it, then we aren’t interested.

But the magic behind success is what happens in spite of our anticipations — what emerges from chaos and confusion.

Maya Angelou made the poetic observation that: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

Breathless business.

Leadership needs an overhaul — we need breathlessness.

  • Our customers crave it.
  • Our employees thrive in it.
  • Our ambitions demand it.

It’s the missing ingredient in our struggle for finding success.

We’ve tried everything else. We’ve tried to manage chaos; attempted to manufacture passion from school plans. We even have a bevy of tools to help us automate empathy.

And none of it has worked.  None of it is working.

Customer loyalty is at an all time low.  Employee retention continues to exasperate progress.  Selfish sales and marketing processes dampen client engagement.

We’re missing guts.

We’re missing the guts to be amazing — choosing survival over the extraordinary.

It’s time to start being amazing.  Being predictable and eliminating uncertainty is what is holding you back.

Be breathless.

Speaker, writer, strategist, Dan Waldschmidt is at war with conventional business strategy.  His Edgy Conversations© have turned hundreds of companies into rock-star businesses and the Wall Street Journal calls his blog one of the” Top 7 sales blogs” anywhere in the world.  He’s on a mission to empower millions of high-performers all over the globe.  For more information about Waldschmidt Partners Intl, go to http://www.EdgyConversations.com or call at 202-630-6730.

February 6, 2012

Guest Article: Smartening up your message as part of your sales strategy for success, by Colleen Francis

Filed under: Presentation Skills — Paul McCord @ 11:15 am
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How do I help my sales team sell more and be more successful? It’s a question that’s never far from the thoughts of many managers and executives these days.

Yes, there are a host of proven lead generation, prospecting and follow-up techniques that can make a real difference in your organization—and I talk about these often in my sales training sessions and webinars.

That’s only part of your solution though. In fact, that’s the second part. The first part of the equation involves personalizing your message, thinking smart and going beyond trust—creating winning conditions that you can later capitalize on.

Thinking personal.
You can’t sell very well to people who either don’t remember you, or can’t remember why they bought from you. Today, all selling is personal. Even in enterprise situations.

To be effective at being personal, however, you have to have to be ready to scale some walls. It’s a busy, noisy world out there, and odds are good that your customers filter out as much of it as they can. Who can blame them, given all the impersonal messages and wooden pitches that inundate inboxes everywhere?

Being personal sells because it transcends the act of selling. It requires a regular, thoughtful investment of your time to do this properly. It also happens to be what will set you and your team apart from those who still treat selling purely in transactional terms.

Thinking smart.
To be effective at being personal, think smart. You have to provide something that people want and can find useful in their own work. It can be a highlighted extract from a brand-new report, new research on market behavior, fresh data on a subject that matters to your audience. It can be a link posted on Google+ to a brand-new blog post, or a tweet. Or it can be a free webinar or podcast on a subject that provides a solution to a problem they are struggling with.

Just make sure that there’s substance to it. You are the subject authority.

No audience has to look hard to find run-of-the-mill tips or fact-free opinions. What they value is unique insight, validated by other subject matter authorities. Andrew Rashbass, Chief Executive of The Economist magazine (which has nearly doubled its profits since 2007) recently observed a growing phenomenon in the marketplace, which he calls “the mega-trend of mass intelligence.” People, he says, are “smarting up” rather than “dumbing down.”

That trend should be on your mind and that of every member of your sales team as you brainstorm for ways that you can provide better, more personalized value to your customers and prospects. Companies want to do business with thought leaders and industry experts—not sales people. Now is the time to start creating high-value content that sets you apart from all the other vendors.

Marketing consultant Simon Sinek argues in his book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” When[A1]  you take the time to be an authority on something and share it with others, you’re making a powerful statement about why you are in business. Work hard to show that what matters to you is also what matters to your audience.

Beyond trust.
For the last several years, there has been much talk about the need to forge trust with your customers as part of winning more sales.

Trust isn’t enough.

In fact, trust is an outcome. You can’t buy it. You can’t demand it. You only can earn it. Therefore, look carefully at the ways in which you go about earning that trust. That’s where people are paying attention and forming opinions.

What I see in the marketplace today—backed by the winning habits of the top salespeople across the full range of industries—is that people have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. They are looking to work with those who are experts in their subject area and who are prepared to share what they know. What you have to sell to them—while important—is secondary.

An opportunity of a lifetime.
Being in sales today is an opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise with their gloomy forecasts on what they call a bad economy, which is just a form of shorthand for making excuses for failure. There is a $61 trillion dollar global economy out there, populated with more people than ever who are in a position to buy your products, services and ideas.

Many old barriers to entering the marketplace don’t matter anymore (e.g., distance to market). New barriers, such as attracting and sustaining your audience’s attention, are entirely solveable.

The question you and your sales team need to ask yourself is why are you in business? Where does your passion live? How can you showcase that passion and the knowledge that comes with it and share it with your audience? Answer these questions, coupled with the time-honored, field-tested methods that we talk about so often at Engage to immediately improve your sales results, and your team will be hitting and surpassing sales targets like never before.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.  Start improving your results today with Engage’s online Newsletter Sales Flash and a FREE 7 day intensive sales eCourse: www.EngagingIdeasOnline.com 

 

February 3, 2012

Guest Article: Overcoming “Failure to Impact” Syndrome, by Steven Rosen

Filed under: Sales Management,team development — Paul McCord @ 11:13 am
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This year was tough; next year’s sales prospects look even tougher. Your boss comes to you and says how can you sustain the sales force? What can you do?

The typical response goes like this:

You devise several homemade remedies to ensure you do better next year. You develop a plan to do one or more of the following:

  • Develop a new selling skills program
  • Hire only top sales reps
  •  Focus on growing key customers
  •  Create a better incentive plan

However, these “quick fixes” only scratch the surface. The deeper response is to ask yourself some difficult questions. You need to understand why your team is not delivering. Here are a couple of questions I would ask:

  • Are your sales reps making a difference?
  • Do your sales reps make impact on each call?
  •  Do they actually make a difference in the sales in their territory?
  •  How often do your sales managers go out in the field?
  • Do your sales managers actually make an impact on each sales reps performance?

If you have answered “no” to more than one of the questions, your team may be suffering from “failure to impact syndrome”. It is contagious and can spread throughout a sales force. I have seen it in many sales forces.  I call it the daily sales charade:  Sales reps make their calls and sales managers do their field visits. That works as long as the business grows. Everyone gets high fives and there is no need to dig any deeper. But when sales are off, senior management starts asking questions. Sales managers struggle to come up with the answers and reps get nervous.

If your sales force suffers from “failure to impact syndrome”, homemade remedies are not going to work. Unless….

Unless, you have strong front line sales managers, you stand little chance of making impact even with all the tactics outlined above. The front line sales manager is the unsung hero, a person with tremendous responsibility, but little support or development.

In today’s corporate environment, responsibilities are outpacing the time needed to perform the activities that drive revenue. The key to reversing “failure to impact syndrome” is to have your front line sales mangers physical presence in the field coaching/developing and inspiring reps. The question remains, why is this not a standard operation?

The problem is two- fold, firstly the activity that managers are least adept at is coaching/developing their reps. Secondly they spend less time in the field because of reason one and are too busy completing non revenue generating activities.

What you need to do as the head of sales is relentlessly develop a team of great front line sales managers. This is the building block to cure “failure to impact syndrome”. Top sales managers will develop their teams to their fullest potential. They reinforce sales training and help companies maximise their teaching efforts and deliver more sales.

Conclusion:
The key to building a sales force that can dramatically impact and increase sales is directly related to the strength of the sales management team. Hire great sales managers and they will hire and develop sales superstars.

Steven Rosen, MBA is Canada’s Sales Leadership Coach and the founder of STAR Results. Steven helps companies transform sales managers into great sales coaches. He works with sales executives to develop high performance sales organizations. For more information on how you can improve your personal and professional success, contact Steven @ steven@staresults.com, call 905-737-4548 or visit http://www.starresults.com

 

February 1, 2012

Killer Communication Strategy

So many prospects and clients to kill, so little time.  But don’t worry; salespeople all over the world are doing their damnedest to kill as many prospects and clients as possible every day.  Their weapon of choice?  Communication—or more specifically,  communication fraud.

I suspect you are like me, getting dozens of emails, phone calls, snail mail letters, and even face-to-face meetings with sellers who seem to have only one goal—waste as much of my time as possible.  They email and call wanting to know if I’m doing OK, or if I need anything, or if they can show me a new product or service without having the slightest idea if I could actually use it.  Some call to simply let me know they’re still around and want my business.

Many of these intrepid sellers have bombarded me with so much time wasting junk communication that they’ve taught me to completely ignore them.  When I see an email or letter from them or if I get a voice mail message from them I know that I need pay absolutely no attention to them.  Their time wasting communications have completely killed me off as a prospect—and, worse, I’ve even had some sellers kill me off as a client because of their insistence on trying to waste my time.

Sellers work hard to find and connect with quality prospects and then to win them as clients.  Why in the world would they want to then commit prospect and client genocide?

Obviously, their intent isn’t to become mass murderers, but that is the final result of many sellers’ communications.  Their killer communication strategy is to unintentionally kill off massive numbers of their prospects and clients by teaching them to ignore any of their communications. 

So many sellers think of communication as nothing that important.  Their object is to keep their name in front of the prospect or client and to that end they feel a need to contact the prospect or client even when they have nothing of import to communicate.  Actually and more correctly, they feel the need to draw attention to themselves even when they have nothing of value to communicate.  And even more correctly, they are just too damn lazy to find something of value to deliver to the prospect or client. 

In other words, their killer communication strategy is tell their prospects and clients in no uncertain terms that they just aren’t important enough for the seller to invest the time and energy necessary to add value for them.

Now that’s a killer communication strategy.

There is a very simple communication rule that I teach my clients:  every communication you have with a prospect or client is teaching them to either pay attention to you because you bring value to them or to ignore you because all you do is waste their time.  In other words, every communication you have with a prospect or client is teaching them that it’s worth taking your phone calls and reading your emails because they know you’re not going to waste their time–or you’re teaching them to avoid you because you have nothing of value for them. 

The next time you pick up the phone or write an email or want to schedule an appointment, ask yourself one simple question: “am I adding value to them or to just me?”  If your honest answer is that you’re only adding value for yourself, don’t make the call, don’t send the letter, don’t send the email until you have taken the time to make sure you’re adding as much or more value to them as you are for yourself.

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