Sales and Sales Management Blog

April 22, 2013

Guest Article: “10 Sure-Fire Ways to Build Sales for Entrepreneurs,” by Lori Richardson

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 11:02 am
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10 Sure-Fire Ways to Build Sales for Entrepreneurs
by Lori Richardson

Some entrepreneurs and small business owners (and their salespeople) are talking about the stock market. Others are strategizing on and successfully growing revenues. Which camp do you fall into?

Here are ten sure-fire ways to grow revenues in your business. You don’t need to do them all to be successful, but you DO need to do a number of them. If your business is at a plateau and needs a jump start, put these sales strategies into place and then roll up your sleeves and work to make them happen.

1. Have a very clear brand promise / value proposition – how do you add value to your customers, and why should they work with you?  Can other people articulate this? DO others talk you up?

2. Clarify who it is that you serve – Niche 1 could be doctors. Niche 2 could be administrators. Each niche is different and needs special messaging.  Keep the niches you work with separate for a concise message.

3. Do you know if what you provide is something people want and/or need (and will spend money on?)  Even in a down economy, people will drive miles to get what they perceive to be a high value.

4. Have a nurture marketing strategy in place – be able to follow up with prospects not ready to buy yet. There are a dozen or so good and simple web-based programs to do this with. Stop with the sticky notes- you are losing contact information and leaving money on the table. Most people won’t buy from you the first, second, or third time you contact them.

5. Use an automated system to set next actions with clients and strategic partners too. Remember that strategic (or referral) partners can refer you many companies over time, so why are you not contacting them on a regular basis? By always setting a next action with them, you will keep in contact regularly.

6. We are not marketers, but we know that you need at leastone well-done webpage. People meet you live or through social means and then go to search for your presence on the web.

7.Be an informed business builder. Work off of a business plan, a sales plan, a social strategy, a financial plan, and an exit plan (we call it the 5 Plan)

8.Show some enthusiasm! Enjoy your work – no one wants to do business with someone who is down or complaining. Next time you visit a bricks-and-mortar retailer, or restaurant, see who is excited and enthused to see you and your dollars, and who is not. It’s definitely something to be aware of.

9.Explore social tools, and – create a plan. Word of mouth is STILL the best strategy to grow sales. Social media is all about having two-way conversations, one person at a time.

10.Meet and know intentional connectors – they can refer many people / businesses your way. Intentional connectors are people who enjoy connecting you to a potential prospective customer or connecting you to a strategic partner. They LOVE it when something happens – you grow your business as a result of it. Often they don’t want any compensation – sometimes they work with referral fees.

Bonus tip: Find someone outside of your geographic area (if you do local business) who does what you do, only better. Learn from them. Remember that success leaves clues. If you do business nationally or internationally, find a mentor in your field or another one who is beyond where you are.  It really works.

Now, choose one of these and run with it. When you master one, go on to another. Make it a contest with yourself, or work each point like a project – with a start date and a finish date. If you get stuck, contact us at Score More Sales and we’ll not only champion you on, but we will offer a suggestion for your business growth.  Next up: links and resources for these ten ideas.

Lori Richardson is the founder and CEO of Score More Sales, a sales enablement company that coaches and trains frontline sales team members.  Lori is a thought leader on B2B front-line sales growth and works with (or in conjunction with) technology brands worldwide.

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April 16, 2013

Guest Article: “7 Sales Prospecting Ideas that Work,” by Mark Hunter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 11:08 am

7 Sales Prospecting Ideas That Work
by Mark Hunter

The biggest item on the “to do” list of most salespeople is finding good sales leads.

Here’s a list of 7 sales prospecting ideas you can use right now:

1. Give away prospects to others.
You heard me — give away prospects. What I mean by this is help other salespeople develop leads. When you meet someone who might benefit from what another person sells, match them up.

The more leads you help others with, the better you’ll feel about yourself and the more leads you too will get from others.

2. Have a “customer satisfaction” phone blitz.
Contact each customer you have sold to and ask them how they like your service. Let them share with you what they like, and then immediately after they get done telling you what they like, ask them for the name of people who might benefit from what you sell.

If the customer shares with you something that is less than flattering, then it gives you the opportunity to correct the situation with them. Remember, regardless of whether the customer likes your service, they are telling others.

3. Build your on-line awareness level using the social media platforms that fit your business.
If you’re selling in a B to B environment, that means Linkedin; if you’re in a B to C environment, that means Facebook. Don’t waste your time on any sites that don’t match well with where your customers are.

Also, don’t think this alone is going to drive your business. Sorry, social media is just one tool. The best way to approach it is by not expecting anything from it and being pleased when something does come.

4. Actively work your “warm-call” or “warm-lead” list.
We all have these lists. These are lists of people we know but have lost contact with or others who we’ve met but have never placed any value in for one reason or another. Don’t forget about these. The best way is to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to reach out to these people on the phone.

By working this list consistently, you will have a steady stream of warm leads that are turning into warmer and ultimately hot leads.

5. Never give up on leads you believe have gone cold.
Just when you think a lead can’t get any colder, it can suddenly become quite hot. Have in place some sort of a low-touch contact or marketing program that allows you to remain in contact with these cold-leads from time to time.

6. Believe in yourself.
Nothing will defeat you faster than yourself. If you aren’t positive about both yourself and what you sell, then how do you expect anyone you meet to even think about being a prospect?

7. Don’t waste time with suspects.
If a prospect is not willing to share with you some sort of proprietary or personal information about themselves or their company, then they’re not serious about working with you. Move these people to your cold-contact list and allow your low-touch contact system to take over.

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is a leading sales expert and speaker with almost 20 years sales experience selling for Fortune 100 companies.  He specializes in showing companies how to maximize price and stop discounting.  Find more of Mark’s work on his blog.

April 11, 2013

Fear and the Choice to Fail or Succeed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 1:05 pm
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This past week I acquired a new coaching client.  Nothing unusual about that–except this client, like many in the securities industry, finds himself in the position of having 120 days to develop a practice capable of sustaining his family—or he is out of the industry.  He just finished his 13 weeks of training, passed his series 7 and 63 exams, and is now on a four-month do or die schedule.

I have the opportunity to speak with thousands of sales people from dozens and dozens of industries.  Depending on their industry, their “life support” (their initial guarantee, draw or salary) to help them get started may have been as long as a couple of years—or as short as, well, none at all.  Almost without exception, each had to work their way through their initial start-up stage with the stress and fear not only of failure but of potential financial disaster if they failed since many had to dip into savings in order to meet their basic obligations, not to mention having funds to help them market themselves.  My newest coaching client is just starting his ramp-up period—and he is fully aware of just how short four months is.

For most of us, the fear of failure is a strong motivator.  No one likes to fail, no matter what they are trying to accomplish.  A salaried employee wants to succeed at their job.  An hourly employee wants to succeed at their job as well.  However, both the salaried and hourly employee knows that they have the security of a future income—even if they simply do the minimum to retain their job.  For us in sales, the minimum required to simply retain our positions is producing at least enough income to live.  Whereas the salaried or hourly employee is given tasks and all of the means to accomplish those tasks and is then rewarded with a set income, we salespeople are given a task, many times without the means to accomplish it, and then must create our own reward—be it large, small, or, God forbid, non-existent.

Not only do we have the fear of failure but our failure will have life altering consequences for numerous people.  Our fear of failure goes well beyond the personal disappointment, embarrassment, and depression of failing at a task. 

 Our failure literally puts our family in jeopardy. 

Our failure means debt collector calls, reposed autos, foreclosed homes, and no food on the table.

In addition, often, like my new client, we have a very short period of time to either succeed or fail.  Time is an ever present enemy.  We hear the clock ticking—even in our sleep.  We wake up to one more day gone, one more day closer to the ultimate consequences of our actions.

Yet, that ticking of the clock can be either our chief motivator—or the cause of our paralyses.  For most salespeople, time is a dominate factor in our actions.  We either find the clock a massive kick in the pants that moves us—forces us— forward and we find the strength, creativity, and determination to succeed; or we become mesmerized by the metronomic ticking, incapable of productive movement as we watch the hands of the clock inexorably move toward our final hour as a salesperson. 

Even after we get over the hump and begin to establish a consistent monthly commission income, the clock ticks away.  A slump, a slowing economy, an unexpected illness, and a hundred other factors can catapult us back to the edge of the precipice of joblessness and financial crisis. 

As a salesperson, we must prove ourselves each month, each week, each day, each hour.  The clock is unforgiving.  That mortgage is due on the first of each month no matter what your previous month’s sales were like.  The bank expects their car payment, utilities must be paid, food must be bought. 

How do you beat this relentless, heartless enemy?  The simple answer, though massively difficult for many, is action.  Selling is a high energy, fast moving sport, more akin to jai-alai than baseball or football; it requires a tremendous amount of concentration, dedication, and mental and physical activity. 

A more accurate and precise answer is that it is through well thought-out, highly targeted action.  Many salespeople mistake simple action for progress.  Action, though crucial, is hardly enough. 

Undisciplined, random action contributes to our failure just as surely as inaction does.

What is targeted, disciplined action?  Targeted, disciplined action is action that directly contributes to putting prospects in our pipeline and clients in our database.  In simple terms–prospecting, making sales presentations, signing contracts, and handling client issues.  Everything else—all of the designing of fliers, organizing of files, making of lists, reading and studying product brochures, and all of the other “stuff” we do, may directly result in our failure.

Not that these other things aren’t important–they are;  but they are simply secondary to our primary mission, and they don’t contribute to our success in a meaningful manner if performed during selling hours.  If engaged in during selling hours, these non-income producing activities hinder, rather than aid, our production.  These non-essential activities should be set aside and performed only when some direct selling activity isn’t possible.

In order to free ourselves for the activity of selling, we must have a plan in place that will allow us to spend our time and energy performing our four primary activities.  This means using our non-selling hours to formulate our future moves.  Instead of shuffling through stacks of leads or searching the internet for our next call as we sit at our desk “prospecting,” these activities should have been preformed the evening before so our prospecting time is really spent prospecting, not doing prospecting research. 

Instead of gathering our data sheets in preparation for making calls, they should have been gathered and put in a logical order during our non-selling time. 

Instead of discussing marketing methods with the new salesperson in the next cubicle, we should have phone in one hand and be dialing with the other.

It’s your money you’re leaving on the table.  If you don’t get it, someone else will.  If you wile away your time and choose to fail, you’re directly contributing to someone else’s success. 

Success is a choice. 

It’s a simple choice that takes great disciple and effort, but still a choice.  A tremendous number of highly talented people fail in sales every year—every month, in fact.  They simply choose to fail by making the wrong time choices.  They allow the clock to win.  On the other hand, many with little talent succeed simply because they were unwilling to fail.

April 8, 2013

Handling the Price Question and Building Trust–They’re Not Incompatible

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 10:39 am
Tags: , , , , ,

“So, how much will it cost?”

“What would something like this run me?”

“We have a very limited budget.  I don’t want to waste my time.  What’s your fee?”

“Sounds to me like you’re talking about a lot of money.  Before we go any farther I need to know what kind of money we’re looking at.”

We’ve all heard these questions and a million variations of them.

They always seem to come well before we’re prepared to discuss dollars, most often before we have had the opportunity to figure out what specific issues we’re dealing with, and always at an inopportune time.

The fact is that no matter what you’re selling, the price of your goods and services is always a primary concern to your prospects. Whether you like it or not, price is top of mind with the majority, if not all, of your prospects.  If it isn’t, you might need to question just how serious your prospect is since price is always an important part of the equation when contemplating a purchase.

The fact that prospects are concerned about price isn’t a surprise and it really shouldn’t be a big deal—except it so often comes up before you’ve had any opportunity to establish the value you bring to the table for the prospect– and price without value equals a no sale.

The price question presents you with a serious dilemma:  how do you honestly answer the question of price, yet at the same time save a detailed conversation about price until you have had the opportunity to discover needs and issues and to build the value in your product and service that justifies its price?

The early introduction of the price question seems to put you in a position of having to choose between two rules of selling that appear to be antithetical to one another at this point: 1) always answer your prospect’s questions honestly and directly, and 2) never discuss price until you’ve built value in your product or service.

Fortunately, you can honor both rules.

The key to addressing the price question is understanding why the question is asked in the first place.  Many salespeople see the price question as an objection; it usually isn’t.  It’s an honest question by the prospect who is trying to determine their interest level in your product or service. 

Just as you are trying to qualify your prospect, they’re trying to qualify your product or service, as well as qualifying you, and one of the major qualification questions they have is price.  They’re simply asking the question too early, before they have sufficient information to determine whether your product or service justifies the investment.

The easiest way to handle the question is to give the prospect a direct answer and then bridge back to your investigation of their wants and needs to build value.  Depending upon the product or service you’re selling, your answer to price may be specific: “This truck is twenty five six fifty four”; or general: “depending upon your specific needs we find when we do the needs analysis, the complete instillation of the software and training can range from a few thousand dollars on up into the low to mid five figures,” or, “Frankly, Jack, at this point I really don’t know because I don’t know what needs to be done, if anything, but I can tell you that the investment can range from just a few thousand dollars on up.  But it depends upon the scope of the work to be done and that’s still to be determined.”

Your statement then needs to be immediately followed up with a question to bridge back to investigating their needs to help you build value.

In the truck example above you might then ask, “Will you be pulling a trailer often, or just on occasion?”  In this example your full statement would be, “This truck is twenty five six fifty four.  By the way, will you be pulling a trailer often or just on occasion?”  You’ve answered your prospect’s question, but you then lead them back into a discussion of their needs, which will help you determine what vehicle will best meet their needs, give you information to highlight the features of the truck that will meet those needs, and the benefits of those features that will give value to the price of the truck.

In the software example, the full statement might be something like:  “Well, Nancy, depending upon your specific needs we find when we do the needs analysis and the modules you need, the complete instillation and training of the software can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars on up to the low to mid five figures; by the way, what other applications do you run that our software will have to be integrated with?”  Again, you’ve given an honest answer to the price question since at this point you don’t know what the package will cost.  Instead of trying to answer an impossible question, you’ve given the typical cost range and then followed with a question that will put the conversation back on track of investigating your prospect’s needs, allowing you to gather the information you need to build value in your product before you get into a serious price discussion.

In the third, the consulting example, the full statement might be: “Frankly, Jack, at this point I really don’t know because I don’t know what needs to be done, if anything, but I can tell you that the investment can range from just a few thousand dollars on up.  But it depends on the scope of the work to be done and we’ve still to determine that.  What do you think has been the cost of the shipping department’s logjam that has extended shipping time by almost two days?”

Price questions need not create problems for you or for your prospect.  Price is a natural concern for the prospect, but knowing a price without understanding the real value of the product or service is meaningless.  Your job is to answer your prospect’s question honestly and return the conversation to a point where you can build value for your prospect, so they can appreciate the price in context of value.

If you refuse to answer the price question you run the risk of insulting or angering your prospect–not to mention the damage you do to your credibility and trustworthiness.  But if you begin a serious discussion of price before you’ve had the opportunity to build value, you ask your prospect to make an investment without having a basis to determine whether the investment is justified.

 

I invite you to connect with me:

Twitter:  @paul_mccord
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/McCordTraining
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6953584&trk=tab_pro

April 5, 2013

Guest Article: “When You Look in the Mirror Do You See a Salesperson,” by S. Anthony Iannarino

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 10:25 am
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When You Look in the Mirror Do You See a Salesperson 
by S. Anthony Iannarino

To succeed in sales, you have to embrace that you are a salesperson. Anything less than fully embracing the role means that you will produce results that are less than they should be.

If You Don’t Believe
If you don’t believe that you are a salesperson, you won’t make your calls. You won’t spend your time prospecting, and you won’t open new relationships. You will do something less than this.

If you don’t believe that you are a salesperson, you won’t continually pursue your dream clients. You won’t take the long view and nurture them over time. You will believe that they can’t be won because they already have a provider. You’ll give up. You’ll quit.

If you don’t believe that you are salesperson, you will find countless ways to stay busy working on tasks that feel like work, but that don’t require you to actually sell. You will be uncomfortable asking for commitments. You won’t do the work.

If you don’t believe that you are a salesperson, you will identify dozens of excuses as to why you cannot succeed. You will avoid taking responsibility for your results. In your mind, it will be everyone else’s fault. In reality, it will be yours alone.

If you don’t believe that you are a salesperson, you won’t ask your prospective clients the difficult questions. You won’t ask them about investing more to get the results that they need, and you will fear offending them. You won’t believe that you are entitled to capture any of the value that you create. Because you won’t believe you can create that value.

If you don’t believe that you are a salesperson, you will rely on other people, such as marketing, to provide you leads. You will buy the hype that you don’t need a telephone. You will happily take orders, and you will reply to every RFP that you can get your hands on. You will be an order-taker.

If you don’t believe that you are a salesperson, you will never take the actions that salespeople take and that allow them to succeed.

Who Do You See?
Salespeople have evolved over the last four decades to be something more than persuasive peddlers of mostly unwanted goods. We have become business partners, trusted to identify and manage critical outcomes for our clients. We have become the first line in making a difference for others in their business and our own businesses.

No one cares more about ensuring that a company’s clients get the results that were sold and promised than the salesperson that sold them. It’s why we do battle and sell inside our own organizations, and it’s why we are trusted.

If all of the enterprise is a rock band, we are clearly the front men (and front women).

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a salesperson from decades past, manipulating and persuading others to by goods and services that they don’t need? It’s unlikely. Those sales roles have all but disappeared.

When you look in the mirror, do you see a business professional with the business acumen and the situational knowledge to help your clients produce results far better than they could without you?

When you look in the mirror, do you see someone that cares deeply about helping other people solve some of their biggest and most difficult business challenges? Do you see someone that owns outcomes that they promised and who gets results?

When you look in the mirror do you see someone who makes their calls and sells because they know that they can make a difference for others, including their clients and their company?

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Questions

Is it necessary that you embrace the role of sales in order to succeed?

Why do some people refuse to call themselves a salesperson? What does the word connote that they find negative?

What are the activities that are difficult to engage in if you haven’t fully embraced that you are a salesperson?

What does the title of salesperson mean in the 21st Century? What skills, abilities, and attributes does that title command of one that holds it?

What is that salespeople do now? Excepting the few that behave badly, why do the negative stereotypes persist enough that some still refuse to identify themselves as a salesperson?

S. Anthony Iannarino is the CEO of Solutions Staffing and the Managing Director of  B2B Sales Coach and Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company where he works to help salespeople and sales organizations improve and reach their full potential.  Find Anthony at his blog The Sales Blog.

April 3, 2013

Guest Article: “Success Is a Decision You Make,” by Robert Terson

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 11:04 am

Success is a Decision You Make
by Robert Terson

 

When salespeople call me for help, one of the first things I tell them is the title of this post—success is a decision you make. When you decide to be successful, are bound and determined that you’re not going to allow anything or anyone to stand in your way, success will follow. No, if your goal is a worthy one, it normally doesn’t happen right away, nor does it usually come easy, but if your decision is in the form of an ironclad Commitment, the odds are highly in your favor that it’ll eventually happen—you’ll achieve the success you desire.

Sound too simple to you? It does to most people. They think success goes only to those special, gifted individuals whom God has blessed with extraordinary talents and powers, to say nothing of the money to back up those talents and powers. They see themselves as ordinary and “ordinary” just doesn’t cut it, does it? Not in this tough world we live in nowadays, especially during these ultra challenging economic times. So they stay on the sidelines, unable to make the kind of decision I’m talking about.

One of my favorite stories from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (Do you own a copy? If not, you need to go out today and get one!) is the tale of when Henry Ford decided to produce a V-8 motor with all eight cylinders cast in a single block, and ordered his engineers to produce a design for the engine. The engineers, all of them, told Ford it couldn’t be done, that it was impossible to cast an eight-cylinder engine block in one piece.

According to Napoleon Hill, Ford said, “Produce it anyway.”

“But,” they replied, “it’s impossible!”

“Go ahead,” Ford commanded, “and stay on the job until you succeed, no matter how much time is required.”

If you wanted to work for Henry Ford you did as you were told, so they worked on the problem for over a year, but couldn’t find an answer. Hill writes, “The engineers tried every conceivable plan to carry out the orders, but the thing seemed out of the question; ‘impossible!’

“Go right ahead,” said Ford. “I want it, and I’ll have it.”

Does that sound like a decision made out of titanium? It does to me. Ford’s decision was vindicated when they finally—“miraculously”—solved the seemingly “impossible” task and gave him what he decided he’d have.

Have you ever used the expression “He wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer”? Did you use that expression with a certain degree of admiration? I’m guessing you did. Why is it you admire people who won’t take “no” for an answer, but do not adopt that attitude yourself? Oh, yeah, I forgot: they’re extraordinary, but you’re only ordinary. Right?

If you decide to be successful, if you refuse to take “no” for an answer, you’ll be successful. Hell, you’ll even wind up admiring yourself.

That’s it, period, end of story.

 

Robert Terson writes the Selling Fearlessly blog and is the author of “Selling Fearlessly: A Master Salesman’s Secrets For the One-Call-Close Salesperson.”  He has retired from a 40 year career in sales, including owning his own company, to write, speak, and help others succeed; to give back for a lifetime of blessings.

 

 

 

April 1, 2013

Guest Article: “In Sales, What Differentiates the Top 5% Players?” by Jonathan Farrington

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 9:30 am

As you can imagine, I am often asked by sales leaders, anxious to recruit the best salespeople they can afford, just what is it that makes a consistently top performer; what are their characteristics; where are their strengths and what differentiates them?

Over the past twenty-five years I have trained and developed more than one hundred thousand sales professionals, from foundation right up to “master craftsman” level and this has given me the opportunity to formulate an accurate profile of a Top 5% Achiever.

So What Is It That Top 5% Players Do?

They:

• Position themselves with the real decision-makers and avoid those without ‘approval power’. They are able to first identify and then access the formal decision making unit.

• Not only get the order but a satisfied customer, repeat sales, enthusiastic reference sites and constantly increase sales penetration within their accounts.

• Know how to minimize the uncertainties of a cold call on a new account, by careful planning and rigorous opportunity assessment.

• Recognize when to treat an old account as a new prospect and keep the relationship fresh, alive and maintain profitability

• Never entertain business they do not want because they fully undrstand that it takes just as long to work an unprofitable opportunity through the sales funnel, only to lose it at the death, as it does a profitable one. They trust their own judgement but also rely heavily on objective assessment.

• Readily identify and know how to deal with the four different buying influences present in every sale.

• Understand how to prevent sales from being sabotaged by an internal enemy. They insulate themselves by developing strong allies within.

• Are able to recognize fail-safe signals that indicate when a sale is in jeopardy. This comes from experience but also information supplied by their allies.

• Are rigorous in tracking account progress and are able to accurately forecast future sales because they use proven methodology, which allows them to weight every opportunity in the pipeline.

• Avoid ‘dry-months’ by allocating time wisely to their critical selling tasks i.e. Prospecting for new business, covering the bases with existing opportunities and finally closing the best few.

They also have a very wide “commercial bandwidth” and they are also commercially multi-lingual.

In summary, the very best sales performers do not achieve that status overnight. They work tirelessly to develop and hone their skills-sets, insist on regular top-up coaching, and seek out those who are outperforming them, so that they may learn and improve still further. They have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of their industry and sector.

Finally, they concentrate on eliminating any weaknesses and are anxious to be assessed and receive feedback on a regular basis.

I must add that this list is not by any means exhaustive, but it is a very good place to start your own self-assessment. How did you do?

Jonathan Farrington is the head of Jonathan Farrington & Associates, a genuinely global consulting company, delivering leading-edge sales team development solutions to all six continents, via a team of top sales experts and a network of global partners.

 

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