Posts Tagged ‘sales process’

Challenging the Sales Leadership of “We’ve Always Done It that Way”

How many times have you heard those in sales leadership roles when given a new way of thinking state something like “We’ve always done it that way?”  This tunnel vision thinking fails to move the individual, the team, the organization and even the customers forward toward even greater success.

Those involved in continuous improvement hear this statement or something similar to this statement numerous times.  For example, a chair is in the corner of a room and has been there for years.  When asked why is the chair there, the answer is “because it has always been there.” The chair serves no purpose except requiring cleaning people to move it to dust and clean around it.

I remember a story about a young woman who questioned her mother why her mother cut the ends off a roast. The response was because that was what grandmother did.  The young woman asked her grandmother the same question.  Grandmother’s answer was to get the roast to fit into the pan.

“We’ve always done it that way” is being heard more in SMB sales leadership than ever before. This statement becomes a fallback position of complacency.

With greater emphasis on content marketing, social media marketing and changes in the buying decision making process, how the sales process is implemented may require minor as well as some major tweaks.  Yet, reluctance to let go of the status quo by many in sales leadership roles is still very much present.

Last night I heard a compelling presentation about how a local airport could be a dazzling economic gem. Beyond what appears to be considerable mismanagement, there also appeared to be an attitude of “we’ve always done it that way.”

For anyone in any sales leadership role including those on the sales team as well as all employees within the organization to be satisfied with the status quo of “We’ve always done it that way,” limits everyone within that organization. Human beings are designed to change.  Organizations are created by human beings.  Efficient and effective change is required to stay competitive in today’s dynamic business marketplace.

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to be that change? – Your decision
  • What do you need to do to be that change? – Your critical thinking skills
  • How will you go about to ensure the change is positive and sustainable? – Your ability to execute
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Why Are So Many Salespeople Hungry for the One Size Fits All Solution?

Right now I cannot count the number of articles, books to sales training workshops that promise to deliver what I call the one size fits all sales solutions.  From the top five closing questions to a proven sales process, each of these sales solutions fail to recognize these three critical buying axioms and one selling axiom.

#1 – People Buy From People They Know and Trust

The fallacy of these one size fits all selling solutions presume the salesperson has established a sound relationship with the buyer and every relationship is the same.  Building rapport in sales (I truly dislike that designation because most people can build rapport with a dog) takes time, a lot of time. Sales research continues to suggest very few people can earn the sale on the first contact.

#2 – People Buy First on Emotions, Justified by Logic

More and more sales research is being complied about the importance of emotions and how those emotions (emotional intelligence) are connected to the brain (neuro science).  Books like Sales EQ by Jeb Blount help salespeople to understand the power of emotions for both the buyer and the seller.

#3 – People Buy on Value UNIQUE to Them

Since each of us are unique individuals, what we value is unique to us. One of my dearest friends will only buy white or silver cars as her current house is white.  She has shared with me numerous times how car salespeople try to sell her a red car and ignore her desire (think value) for a white or silver one.

#4 – Most Salespeople Do Not Know Their Talents; Thereby Fail to Leverage These Talents

After working with hundreds of salespeople, I can honestly say the super majority, well over 90%, do not know their talents.  The one size fits all solution works against not with the talents of these individuals.

Yes I know salespeople are hungry to increase sales. However, when that hunger ignores these three buying axioms and one selling axiom, the goal to increase sales will not be achieved or it will be much harder to achieve.

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I Have 13,000 LinkedIn Connections Now Justifies Bad Marketing

Bad marketing is rampant on LinkedIn. Yesterday after accepting a second degree connection, I received a message to read his article and get on the pre-order list for his book.  My response was:

So you reached out to me to make a sales pitch? Not the best use of LinkedIn. I will be disconnecting from you. Possibly next time attempt to establish a more personal relationship before the sales pitch.

He then said “The article is free.”  I responded “But the pre-order is not.” His comeback response once again reflected he is clueless about marketing:

Correct. I have over 13,000 connections. I have been forced to compress the “establishment of personal relationships” somewhat. No offense was intended.

Hmm, “forced to compress the establishment of personal relationships, somewhat.”  Double speak and makes sense since he teaches at the college level.

Real world translation is:

“I don’t have time for you to get to know and trust me. Just pre-order my book because I have 13,000 contacts.”

Personally I don’t care if this individual or anyone else has over 13,000 or 50,000 LinkedIn connections.  Plain and simple this type of email marketing is bad marketing.

Unfortunately social media has only worsened the problem of bad marketing.  People fail first to have a sales process and second fail to walk through that sales process without skipping steps. They believe they can send a sales pitch without developing any personal relationship.

The first phase of any sales process is marketing.  Here is where you as the salesperson get to know the sales lead and hopefully the sales lead is qualified.

If you are fortunate you are invited for a face to face meeting or even a phone call.  Now you are entering the second phase of the sales process – selling.

By listening and asking the “right questions,” you further learn the sales lead’s situation and may discover not only wants and needs, but more importantly what this potential ideal customer values.  Then you can connect your solution to his value drivers.

If you wish to increase sales, stop with the bad marketing (sales pitches), stop with justifying bad marketing and look to build real, authentic, personal relationships.

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Uncovering Buying Criteria Takes Times

Wouldn’t it be great if all your sales leads had the following buying criteria checklist somewhere on their bodies?

  • Decision maker
  • Want or need
  • Allocated budget
  • Urgency
  • Commitment

Boy you could really increase sales by focusing on those sales leads that had all five.  Yet reality is each criterion is probably uncovered as the buyer-seller relationship develops unless of course the sales lead shared all five with you during the first sales conversation.

Since most buying decisions happen between the fourth and 12th contact, then during the first three to four contacts is probably when the first three buying criteria surface.  As the sales conversations continue, you as the salesperson can sense or develop a further sense of urgency to take action.  Possibly you may actually spur the sales lead to become more committed as you continue to develop the case to take action.

When salespeople rush the sales process (marketing, selling and keeping), they also may trip over or ignore these five buying criteria.  Sales leads in many instances will not share information with people they don’t know or trust.  Getting to know you and to trust you as a person takes time.

What is so sad is much of the sales training or sales coaching hype looks to the quick fix and ignores these fundamentals that have been true for decades. 

Download this Free:

Buying-Criteria-Check-List

Sometimes in sales as well as in life, we fail to take the small steps. Remember we learn to walk first before we learn to run. When we invest the time to walk by following the sales process, we can learn to avoid tire kickers and those not in a position to buy.  This doesn’t mean that at sometime in the future they cannot become buyers, but at this moment in time they are not ready to buy.

Want to speak with Leanne?  Click HERE to schedule your 30 minute telephone call.

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The Continuing Sales Leads Dilemma – Quantity or Quality

Sales leads are the life blood for any person selling.  For without those potential buyers, there would be no one to sell one’s solutions.  And we all know without sales we remain pocket poor.

With the recent emphasis on social selling, there appears to be a presumption that quantity is now more important than quality.  This belief is put enough sales leads into your sales funnel and eventually gravity will pull at least a few of them through. We can see this belief is real time when we hear this questions being asked:

  • How many followers do you have on the social media networks?
  • How many contacts do you have on LinkedIn?
  • How many social media sites do you actively engage in to reach more potential sales leads?

My personal sales philosophy has always been quality over quantity.  Since I believe sales is 100% first about relationships, developing key authentic relationships is essential for me to increase sales.

Additionally the quantity tactic is more than likely to catch a lot of unqualified sales leads (tire kickers) and it does take time to sort through all those leads. Being a people and process clarity strategist, I cannot afford to waste time sorting through all those tire kickers.

Imagine for a moment if you took all those business cards you have accumulated and started calling three to five people each day.  Then you could begin to sort them based upon some buying criteria including:

  • Decision maker
  • Want or need

Further contacts with each person may allow you to further sort them into:

  • Allocated budget
  • Urgency

Finally between the fourth and 12th contact, you may secure this final buying criteria: Commitment

When you have completed this process, you will probably see your pile of qualified sales leads is much smaller.  Possibly by redefining your sales prospecting process, you could have avoided a lot of those calls and redirected your limited time to quality sales leads instead of quantity ones.

Schedule your time, by CLICKING HERE, to speak with Leanne if you wish to increase sales.

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Are Sales Negotiations Overlooked Sales Objections?

Sales negotiations are part of earning the sale.  Yet I am beginning to question if in some instances the reason for the negotiation is because specific sales objections were never reconciled. For example if price requires negotiation, then this might suggest the salesperson failed to do all of her or his homework regarding the budget, the return on investment, etc.

Sometimes to earn the sale or close the deal does require an adjustment to the delivery of the solution.  Had the salesperson explored the urgency dictating the consideration of his or her solution possibly there would not be a need for any sales negotiations?

Of course not all sales negotiations happen because of unreconciled sales objections. Yet I believe the reactionary behavior to engage in negotiation may reflect some miss steps in the selling phase of the sales process.

If for example a new decision maker enters into the sales conversation and starts requesting changes to the offered solution, my question would be “Why didn’t you know about this person?”  One of the most basic questions to ask is “Is there anyone else involved in this buying decision?” Yes sometimes there are surprises, changes within the organization.

These changes can be addressed by this two-fold question during the presentation of the sales proposal. “Has anything changed since we last met or are there any changes coming that may impact this solution?” Usually buyers have a good idea of what is happening within their organization.  If the buyer responds yes, then the salesperson returns to sales fact finding to determine if said change will affect the offered solution.

Depending upon the new facts, the salesperson has the opportunity to reschedule the sales presentation so he or she can address these new facts in his or her sales proposal.  By taking this action reduces future sales negotiations.

From a sales coaching perspective, maybe it just may make sense to revisit past sales negotiations and determine the why behind the negotiation.

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The Sales Shortcut Mentality – Is that You?

Have you ever viewed those headlines in emails or advertisements announcing this or that “shortcut” to improved results be it in sales, leadership, business operations, etc.? One of the results of all this messaging is it appears to be fostering a “sales shortcut” mentality.

Most reasonably intelligent business people know down deep inside there are no shortcuts to success.  Yet, people especially salespeople seem to still gravitate to that possibility.

Why?

  • The sales manager is pushing hard to increase sales
  • The salesperson is looking to make her or his sales quota
  • The sales culture makes it difficult (works against the sales team) to increase sales

The sales shortcut mentality also shows up in the recruiting, hiring and onboarding of new salespeople.  Salespeople are added as warm bodies, given a list of businesses and told “Go sell.”  There is no process for onboarding, for ongoing sales training and development and forget about sales coaching or mentoring.

Good to great salespeople use a variety of tools to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.  They understand the sales process and how to leverage that process of marketing, selling and keeping in their daily behaviors.

Some of these tools could be viewed as shortcuts such as Hootsuite where multiple postings can be scheduled over multiple days with a few cut and paste actions. CRMs can also be viewed as a shortcut provided the salesperson or salespeople invested the time to input the required data.  Saving websites,  using folders or creating spreadsheets again are actions that improve sales prospecting.

Yet in spite of all the tools, top sales performers do not embrace a “sales shortcut” mentality. They almost instinctively know such an attitude will not lead to increase sales and ultimately to sales success.

If you are thinking about using or worse yet buying this or that shortcut with the hope to increase sales, I would caution you to rethink your decision.  Ask yourself why?  Remember the first buying rule in sales, “People buy from people they know and trust.” There is no sales shortcut to building trust.

 

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Finally a Sales Expert Took Zig Ziglar To Heart

Years ago I read the following definition for sales by Zig Ziglar: “Sales is the transference of feelings.”  As someone who consistently writes about the impact of emotions in sales, I was so glad to read one sales expert who took the time to write a book about how to transfer those feelings through emotional intelligence.

sales-expertJeb Blount’s new book, Sales EQ, should be immediately ordered, read and committed to memory.  Blount has provided those in sales with a road map to understanding how to use what Ziglar recognized so many years ago.

Emotional intelligence is the missing key within most sales training programs.  The inability to apply EQ might help to explain why 50% of salespeople miss quota.

Just this past week I wrote about how certain words such as “need” should be eliminated from the vocabulary of salespeople.  The use of need in a sales conversation reflects emotional intelligence or the lack there of.

As a noted sales expert, Blount provides many more tips and strategies in a well written and well crafted book.  Even though the book is to help with complex sales, this book will help the SMB salespeople  to earn more sales because people buy first on emotion justified by logic. (Sales Buying Rule #1)

The application of emotional intelligence works with any sales process and must begin within the first phase of attracting attention otherwise known as marketing.  For those in sales who resist the word marketing, then call it prospecting.

Still, an elite group of top 1 percent of sales professionals are crushing it. These Ultra-High Performers are acutely aware that the emotional experience of buying from them is far more important than products, prices, features, and solutions.  As Jeb Blount wrote in another book, People Buy You.

As someone who is considered by some to be a sales expert, I look forward to your thoughts about Sales EQ. Please share your thoughts here or post them on your social media site.

 

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Always Remember Customer Service Is SALES!

How many times do those in B2B or even B2C industries fail to understand customer service is sales.  A new report just released by Astound Commerce through secret shoppers recognized seven retailers who excel in customer service through:

customer service

  • Must have website
  • Visibility
  • Overall customer service
  • Speed of delivery
  • Efficiency of checkout

One of the top seven performers was The Home Depot. I know from personal experience this firm understands how serving the customers within the store will increase sales.  Here in Valparaiso IN, the store has hired certified and licensed electricians, plumbers and carpenters to assist customers with their questions. Even though my husband is an engineer, he has been advised by these professional tradesmen of better ways to do home improvement as well as some of the new products.

For example, toilets for years had a wax ring that attached to the bottom of the toilet and closet flange.  Over time the wax dries out and cracks.  Several years ago through the plumber at Home Depot, my husband learned of a neoprene boot that is attached to the bottom of the toilet and then fits past the closet flange.  The end result is a far better seal and one that does not not replacement.  The cost of a wax ring under $5.00 versus the cost of the neoprene boot around $15.00.  Husband spent $30 instead of $10 has he replaced not just one wax ring, but two.

Today I read Home Depot’s quarterly earning were ahead of expectations. Much of this was due to improved housing market and I also believe much was due to increase sales by loyal customers.

All SMBs have a 7-step-sales-process-advsys Within these 7 steps are third phases:

  • Marketing
  • Selling
  • Keeping

The third and final phase of keeping is one where both salespeople and customer service people work to keep those loyal customers.

Yes customer service is sales and if as a SMB owner or sales professional you forget this simple fact, you may be exposing yourself decreasing sales, declining profits and increasing stress.

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Suffering from the Retreat Sales Mentality Are We?

Sometimes when the going gets tough instead of the tough get going what happens is the retreat sales mentality sets in.  This way of thinking attacks the self-confidence, self starting ability and overall personal accountability on two fronts:

sales-mentality

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  • Conscious
  • Subconscious

A pending sales lead suddenly changes course and leaves you wondering why should I continue?  Retreating and seeking another sales lead appears to be a better route.

If you disagree, then how do you explain sales research that 44% of salespeople give up (retreat) after one followup? (Source: Scripted)

Possibly another reason for the retreat mentality is the salesperson has different expectations than the sales lead.  These expectations may be a quick sale to an easy sale (less decision makers).  However reality in the B2B marketplace runs contradictory to those self-imposed expectations.

  • 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.   (Source: Marketing Donut)
  • 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy.   (Source: Gleanster Research)
  • Firms with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decision.   (Source: Gartner Group)

Another example of retreat sales mentality surfaces during the selling phase of the sales process.  Far too many salespeople are quick to reduce price to get a sale instead of being able to demonstrate the value of their solution respective to the desired end results for the potential ideal customer.

In sales having a strong and positive mental attitude is a prerequisite for success. Giving up when the first limitation arises only reinforces this sales mentality to retreat instead of to persevere.

I believe the words we use and think are critical to overall sales success as well as success in life.  Maybe the next time you become discouraged, ask yourself are you retreating?  What does it mean to retreat?  Is there another way to win this sale for you as well as for your customer?

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