Sales and Sales Management Blog

November 29, 2012

Guest Article: “5 Tips for Successful Video Sales Calls,” by Katie Reynolds

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 12:08 pm

5 Tips for Successful Video Sales Calls
by Katie Reynolds

After the advent of voicemail, fax, and email, our sales teams lost quite a bit of opportunity. The in-person sales call started to become more and more rare, with executives and decision-makers being increasingly unwilling to take valuable time to listen to a pitch.

Unfortunately, sales isn’t nearly as effective when done via email or telephone. Those media don’t allow for the full benefits of body language and, in the case of email, voice inflection and intonation.

Today, however, video conferencing offers the sales force a unique opportunity to bring back the face-to-face sales call. Yet, effective video sales calls differ in some ways from other options, including in-person calls.

Here are some tips to maximize your chances of success with your video sales calls:

1.     Prep for the call.

A video sales call is like any other sales call in that you need to come into it with a full toolbox. That means having all of the client information handy, for example. Some salespeople like to have their client information in hard copy during the sales call so that they don’t have to flip back and forth between windows (which can be distracting to the client).

The same goes for your company product or service information. If you want to share a presentation file during the video sales call, make sure you know what folder it’s in and that you can get to it easily. The same goes for documents or videos you’d like to display during the call, as well.

2.    Prep your environment.

The background in your sales call is critical. It should be free of distracting elements. It should have sufficient lighting, but no glare. The camera should capture your head, shoulders, and perhaps as far down as the mid-chest area, but probably not much more.

You’ll also need to prevent others from entering the location of the video sales call, whether that means locking the door, putting up a sign, or other efforts. Turn off your cell phone, or at least put it on vibrate.

In many cases, the best environment for a sales call isn’t your office. If you have a conference room with a white board, it can be very beneficial for writing down cost comparisons or other relevant information.

3.    Watch for response cues.

When you’re sitting in someone’s office, it’s much easier to read their body language and reactions than when you’re looking at them through a web cam. For example, you don’t know what else they’ve got showing on their screen that might be taking up their interest.

There are still those cues you can watch for that let you know it’s time to switch tactics or that it’s time to press ahead. If the client folds their arms and sits back in their chair, they’ve closed off and you need to try something else. If they lean in toward the camera, they’re either interested or having a hard time hearing you through their speakers or because of the connection.

Those same cues you look for in a regular sales call will be there in a video sales call; you just have to work with slightly limited information.

4.    Make effective use of technology.

There are a number of video call platforms that will let you share files, presentations, or videos during the sales call. If you want to keep your customer’s attention, give her something other than your talking head to look at.

Most video conference platforms have a screen-sharing option, so at a minimum you could open a video or presentation on your screen for the customer to see. Double-check that there isn’t anything in your task bar or on your desktop that might not be appropriate for the sales call, such as a document called “Labor Day Party” open in the task bar.

5.    Follow up on the sales call.

As with an in-person sales call you’re going to need to follow up. Ideally, you can schedule a follow-up video call with the customer before the first call is over. If not, you can always turn toward telephone, email, or even traditional mail to connect with the customer.

Video sales calls offer all sorts of opportunities to today’s sales force. You can do more sales calls in less time and with less effort. Yet your video sales call is only going to be as effective as you let it be. Follow these tips and you’ll maximize your odds of success.

 

Katie Reynolds is the Marketing Manager of Webinars and Public Relations at Vistage International.

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November 19, 2012

Book Review: 52 Sales Management Tips

Filed under: Book Reviews — Paul McCord @ 10:45 am
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Selling is getting tougher and more complicated as the number of sources buyers have to research issues and their potential solutions expand and to then choose from the tremendous variety of solution delivery methods available in the today’s marketplace.  Yet surprisingly, the problems and potential downfalls sales managers face really haven’t change.  As Steven Rosen in his excellent new book, 52 Sales Management Tips (STAR Solutions that Change Results, 2012), points out, those primary sales management issues are how to

1. Be a more effective coach

2. Handle their boss

3. Hire sales STARS

4. Drive sales performance and

5. Manage different types of people

Those are the issues that have plagued generation after generation of sales managers for decades—millennia actually.

There is a world of hard earned sales management wisdom that one can discover.  Unfortunately the discovery typically takes years and must be gleaned from a large number of sources as one finds them—usually by accident.

Today there’s good news in the form of 52 Sales Management Tips for any sales manager struggling with any of the above issues.  Whether you’re a newly minted sales leader or an old salt dog, Rosen’s book has immediately actionable wisdom to help you deal with you and your team’s issues.

Each of Rosen’s tips is short—typically a third to a half a page long.  But don’t be fooled by the brevity of the tip.  Just because a tip is quick doesn’t mean it doesn’t have real life application or that it can’t make a meaningful difference to you as a sales leader.

As you might have guessed based on Rosen’s observation of the five major issues sales leaders face, he addresses each issue in a chapter of its own. 

Each chapter begins with a brief overview and then Rosen starts hitting you with tip after tip, each designed to give you more ammunition in addressing that particular issue.  For instance the chapter on Team Inspiration has tips on the power of individual recognition, how to deal with the self-doubter or the talented slacker or the co-dependent seller, how to make people your primary focus, and more. 

Pick up a copy of 52 Sales Management Tips today because whether you are having issues today or not, you will eventually and Rosen’s wisdom will help you successfully work through those issues.

November 16, 2012

Guest Article: “Hiring the Right Sales Pro for the Job,” by Nancy Martini

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 12:27 pm

Hiring the Right Sales Pro for the Job
by Nancy Martini

Did you know that it costs a company $370,000 to replace one employee with a base salary of $90,000 per year? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this “replacement cost” is even higher for top performers or more senior positions. With these numbers, it’s no wonder why hiring the right person for the right position is more important than ever. Below are three basic recruiting tips to consider when selecting a sales person that can ultimately have an impact on job performance:

  1. Analyze the Job. Prior to recruiting, take the extra step to sit back and analyze the role thoroughly, and from different perspectives. This step enables you to collect information about the experience, knowledge, duties and behavior of a particular job, which is also fundamental to develop the job description. It’s also important to gain consensus by all vested individuals and peers to determine key accountabilities for the position. To help with the job description and beyond, , a job analysis instrument can also help you look at the behavioral requirements of a specific position. Behavioral assessments can even be incorporated into the application process using applicant tracking systems like Taleo. Armed with the right analysis, you now have a solid “target” to aim at with your recruiting efforts.

  2. Assess Candidates. Once you have a stream of candidates, screen them with a defined hiring process. Typical processes include: collecting resumes, rank ordering based on interest and conducting a telephone screen. Through this process you will have a good sense of what the person “can do” but to uncover the greatest predictor of performance,  administer a behavioral assessment to understand that person’s motivations and drives, in essence, how they “will do” the job. Along with other key criteria such as education, experience and background, behavioral assessment data provides a scientific element to the mix. The complete picture gives you an accurate view to select which candidates you want to interview.

  3. Determine Job Fit. Once you have your final group identified, conduct a fit/gap analysis between the role and the candidates. A validated and reliable behavioral assessment allows you to leverage the power of data to help predict the success of the sales reps. You are not after a “perfect fit”; that’s similar to finding a needle in a haystack. However, you’re looking to make a fact-based informed decision to find the best sales rep for the role. Conduct interviews that help confirm the “fits” and provide you evidence that the candidate can bridge their “gaps”.   

Armed with these three key elements, you’ll increase your hiring accuracy, reduce your turnover, and enjoy the outcome of a producing sales rep!

Nancy Martini is President & CEO of PI Worldwide and author of the book, Scientific Selling: Creating High Performance Sales Teams through Applied Psychology and Testing (Wiley & Sons).  To learn more visit www.piworldwide.com.

 

November 8, 2012

Guest Article: “Modeling the Masters,” by Robert Terson

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 2:41 pm

Modeling the Masters
by Robert Terson

Salespeople read books, blogs, listen to tapes and CDs, etc., as they struggle to improve, become better at their craft (it is a craft, folks; it’s not an art). They want to uncover all the “secrets” that make the top-tier professionals, the masters, so successful. I applaud these salespeople, I applaud their initiative; however, I think most of them are missing the number one method to garner the “secrets” they covet. I suggest this method to all salespeople who call me for help—it isn’t difficult, I assure you.

 

The method is called modeling. Simply go up to the individual (or individuals—you don’t have to limit it to one person) whose success you admire the most, tell her why you admire her, and ask her to help you. Most top pros will be flattered that you approached them specifically and will be more than willing to give you the assistance you seek. Then do the following:

1. Have a list of every question you want answered (you want to give a lot of thought to your list of questions, leave nothing out) and conduct an intensive interview with your pro; tape the interview if at all possible or make detailed notes you can refer back to. You want to know her specifics re all three sides of her selling triangle—mental attitude, work habits, salesmanship. Most of your questions should begin “How do you…?” or “Why do you…?” or “When do you…?”

2. Ask to spend an entire day with your pro (a week if she’s willing), observing her in action; you’ll never make a better investment of your time. You want to see it all, every aspect of her sales process, from the initial call on. You want to record notes of everything you see and hear, every last detail. You want to go out with her into the field, see her give an actual presentation; in fact, if at all possible, you want to observe a number of presentations. You’ll want to write down your notes immediately after these presentations.

3. At this point you’ll want to conduct a second interview; although, in reality, it’ll be more like a question and answer session in which she’ll explain to you how, why, and when she does what she does, so you’ll fully understand her reasoning. This is no small thing! If you don’t comprehend her reasoning, you’ll never be able to fully apply her work methodology.

4. Now you implement her methodology, you model her. And as you model her, you go back to her as needed to answer questions that pop up, get her take on the problems you’ve run into.

That’s it. You’ve picked the brain of the best and now you’re doing what she does. Simple, huh? Do it! As I said above, you’ll never make a better investment of your time.

Robert Terson is a author and speaker with over three decades of in the trenches experience in selling and working with sellers.  He is the author of the recently released Selling Fearlessly.  You can find him on his blog

November 5, 2012

We’re Sellers, We Are The Hollow Men

Filed under: business,Client Relationships,selling,small business,trust — Paul McCord @ 10:26 am
Tags: , ,

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

(from The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot)

Over the past few months as we in the US have been in the middle of an election season I’ve read numerous articles from sales experts exhorting sellers to refrain from discussing politics with prospects and clients even if they have reason to believe the prospect or client has the same opinions as the seller or if the prospect or client initiates the conversation.

We are the Hollow Men.

Oh, Seller, they argue, to voice an opinion on such a touchy subject as politics or religion or various aspects of culture that might be controversial is to be avoided at all costs for voicing an opinion might cost a sale.

We are the Hollow Men.

By all means, they say, feel free to take sides with your favorite football or baseball team, go ahead and state your opinion of who should win American Idol, and don’t be afraid to take a strong stand on who the Bachelorette should pick.

We are the Hollow Men.

But when actual issues of life are presented, be nothingness, be hollow, be stuffed with straw, be nothing more than a chalk outline of a human drawn on the sidewalk.

We are the Hollow Men.

Should we initiate political or religious conversations?  Should we be starting conversations on controversial topics?  No.  But that doesn’t mean we avoid them when they come up. Rather we converse with our prospects and clients as humans, not as checkbooks.  Heaven forbid we even disagree with them at times as real humans are wont to do.

Again, Seller, they argue, don’t be seen as being political or religious.   Take all measures to not offend.  Take that political sticker off your car; get rid of that Knights of Columbus lapel pin; don’t listen to that radio station within hearing range of a prospect, God forbid you express an opinion on Social Medi that someone might actually see.  Be nothingness, be hollow, be a stuffed shell of a human—but at all costs don’t be honest.

We are the Hollow Men.

Then we tell our prospects and clients that we’re honest, trustworthy, transparent.

We are the Hollow Men.


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November 1, 2012

Guest Article: “The Importance of Financial Eduction–How to Help Your Kids Get Ahead,” by Imran Khan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 10:00 am
Tags: , ,

The second in a monthly series of articles to help sellers and their families take control of their finances.

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The Importance of Financial Education – How to Help Your Kids Get Ahead
by Imran Khan

With the global economy in a meltdown, taking care of finances at home is more important than ever.

But where do children learn about money? From their parents? From their schools? Or do they in fact never receive a proper lesson about how to manage their finances and just pick it up as they go along?

Staying afloat financially involves balancing a variety of different factors. No longer just a case of working out how much money to spend, modern life demands that individuals have a good understanding of credit, loans and finance.

In fact, it is almost impossible to manage without being involved in some kind of finance or credit agreement. You may be vehemently opposed to getting into debt, but where do you plan on living? If you have any aspirations about owning a property of your own, a mortgage is almost certainly going to be necessary.

And even if you are determined to live without relying on credit cards or loans to pay for anything, if you want to get a cell phone, you will still need to be able to compare the relative costs and understand the contract costs.

For teenagers growing up and unused to dealing with financial facts and figures, the jargon involved can be a dizzying whirl of meaningless words which are hard to translate into real terms. For example, take APR, a phrase commonly used in finance contracts. Although many adults may be able to tell the difference between a good and a bad deal, it isn’t exactly easy to explain precisely how it works.

To give your children the best chance of escaping a spiral of debt, financial education is an essential. And even if their school offers classes on the subject, tackling it at home, too, can really help to put things in context.

When youngsters head off to college, managing a budget can be one of the most difficult things to get to grips with, as the chances are they will have never had to do it before. Therefore, working out how to get the best deals on food or how to apportion their cash to pay for food, travel and bills, can be difficult.

You can give your children a head start by involving them in your household budgeting at home. Showing them all of the things which need to be paid for – and how much they cost – can be a good way of starting to build up an understanding of money and expenditure. And if you are feeling brave, you could even let your kids control the grocery shopping for a week! Give them a fixed budget and an objective and let them give it a go. Nothing beats hands-on experience!

But of course, managing day to day spending is only half the story; children also need to be able to understand how to read finance agreements and how to work out what represents a good deal.

Whilst you can certainly help out in this area – perhaps by going shopping for a cell phone together and comparing the contracts – enrolling your child in financial education classes will give them a helping hand. If the school does not offer financial education, you could always ask whether it is possible to arrange some classes to cover this topic or, if not, whether an after-school club could be offered. Providing your child with access to a professional who understands finance inside-out and can answer any tricky questions that come up, will be of huge benefit.

Unfortunately, financial education for children has not moved as quickly as the world around it and many youngsters now leave school poorly equipped to deal with the deluge of paperwork and contracts they will be offered. Unscrupulous firms know young adults may not be as astute in shopping around for the best deal and could prey on their vulnerabilities.

Your child may not be enthused at first with the idea of financial education, but if you couple this with a reward, such as the chance to make a purchase based on their new knowledge, you might find they absorb enough information to give them a good chance of avoiding debt in the future.

 

This article was written by Imran Khan at Baines and Ernst – a specialist debt management company..

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