Posts Tagged ‘sales prospect’
Have you ever read a article about selling that discussed the first rule of sales? I know I have. These articles usually refer to one of the following such as:
- People buy from people they know, like or trust
- Ask open ended questions
- Research your sales prospect
- Understand your solution
- Know your market
Yet even these are great suggestions, I contend the first rule of sales is to know yourself. Knowing yourself is not as easy as one might think.
Over the last 10 years, I know that 98.2% of salespeople do not know what they do well. So if you don’t know yourself, what you do well, how can you improve? How can you leverage your talents or strengths to actually increase sales?
Not knowing yourself is nothing new to the human endeavor. Thaleus (620BC) one of the Seven Sages wrote:
“The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”
Aristotle (384BC) said:
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Later, even Shakespeare recognized the importance of knowing oneself when he penned these words:
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
When you do not know yourself, you can appear to be false (unauthentic) to others including your sales prospects, your customers as well as to family and friends.
So where does one begin to know the first rule of sales or one’s self? Reflection is one simple activity. By writing down what has happened, reflecting on daily events allows you to gain greater clarity as to your own individual behaviors and beliefs. This activity can increase sales.
There are some proven assessments (psychometric assessments) that reveal information regarding how you:
- Make decisions (Attribute Index based on the works of Dr. Hartman and Axiology)
- Communicate (DISC Index based on the works of Dr. William Marston)
- Are motivated (Values Index based on the works of Dr. Spranger and Allport)
Yes there are others, but these three provided a fairly reliable picture of the How, the What and the Why of who you are.
So as you move forward, remember the first rule of sales probably begins with you knowing who you are.
P.S.Why not schedule a short call to learn more about these assessments with me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith? CLICK HERE to find a convenient time or just call 219.508.2859 MST.Share on Facebook
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was just one question that could boost your negotiations and sales results? No longer would you have to remember all those other opened ended sales questions that have you so focused on remembering what to say next, you lose sight of the desired end result – successfully negotiating or closing the sale.
In a conversation with one of my colleagues, Viveka von Rosen, she shared how this article, Women Make 87 Cents on the Dollar! Seriously? at LinkedIn was creating a plethora of private messages from women seeking a negotiation specialist. Many of these women recognized they were not as successful as they thought they could be in negotiating and closing sales.
Nearly 20 years ago I learned one powerful question that has continued to increase my negotiations and sales results. I wish I could say it was my creation, but is wasn’t. My continued thanks to Tammy Kohl who is now President of Resource Associates Corp for sharing this simple question.
The reason this question is so powerful is in its simplicity as well as how it subtly changes the dynamics of the sales conversation. Additionally, this question is quite emotionally intelligent in that it is incredibly authentic by being sensitive to the sales prospect’s thinking process.
This question does presume you have asked the right questions up to this point. The question also presumes you have done your research and your questions showcase you as the Red Jacket not all the other gray suits who have asked those common open ended sales questions that potentially reveal their sales training program.
Of course, there is one behavior that must accompany this question or the question will fall flat on its face and leave you pocket poor.
Can you be silent?
I mean can you remain totally silent for 5, 10 to even 20 minutes after you ask the question because the next person to talk must be your sales prospect. Silence in this instance is very green.
So the question to boost your negotiations and sales results is simply:
Where do we go from here?Share on Facebook
How many times have you heard this word “obstacle” in many sales training programs or books on sales fact finding? This word makes you sound like all the others salespeople out there peddling their solutions. Considering changing your sales behaviors by replacing this overused and now almost trite word with this word – limitation.
When the word obstacle is heard, many people receive a visual in their heads because we hear words, but think in pictures. This visual may be so large, so filled with a lot of hidden emotions, it possibly can shut down the sales conversation or make further sales conversation even more difficult.
Now speak the word limitation to yourself. Do you see in your mind’s eye some foreboding potentially humongous obstacle? Or do you see something much smaller, something that may have been consistently ignored?
Possibly there are far more limitations keeping the sales prospect from moving forward than one or two major obstacles?
These limitations may have been ignored by other salespeople because their sales training told them to look to the obstacles.
One obvious but often overlooked limitation is alignment. There is misalignment between the various leaders, managers or departments. Rarely in my nearly 20 years when speaking with sales leads rarely have I heard any mention of misalignment until I bring up this limitation.
Check out Fail-Safe Leadership to better understand how misalignment can easily happen.
Our sales behaviors when they are aligned to the emotional, neuro pathways and experiences of our sales prospects can literally propel the sales conversation forward far faster. Of course the challenge is to go with the flow of the sales conservation and not stick to some sales script that is several paragraphs behind.
Unfortunately many in their daily sales behaviors are so busy thinking what we are going to say next, they fail to actually listen to what is being said. The good news is everyone has the capacity to change provided they are willing to do so.
If you are not happy with your sales results in 2016, then consider scheduling a free 30 minute conversation (CLICK HERE) to learn how to close the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals.Share on Facebook
People buy from people. This is a fact. Since people buy from people, then to develop those people relationships is very dependent upon the salesperson’s capacity for empathy. This may help to explain the sales success for many top performing salespeople.
Years ago I heard the difference between empathy and sympathy. Both of these terms recognized the emotions and situations of others. The difference was this one word – agreement.
- When we are sympathetic we are in agreement with the other person.
- When we are empathetic we acknowledge the other person’s situation, but do not necessarily agree with it.
Sales success is built upon understanding the emotional wants and needs of the sales prospect. How we share that understanding is very much about our empathy and its foundation of emotional intelligence because we:
- Recognize and understand the emotions of others
- Recognize and understand our own emotions
- Manage both of these emotions
Back in February of 2013, I wrote this:
When sales people have the capacity to perceive and understand the feelings of others, this bodes well for their ability to build authentic relationships. This sales leadership talent of empathetic outlook does involve being consciously aware of the impact of your actions on others. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Empathetic outlook is all about interpersonal intelligence within the realm of emotional intelligence.
Today some sales training experts continue to focus on sales skills, technical tools and yet fail to truly acknowledge the importance of empathy specific to building relationships. For example, a sales prospect does not call when he or she promised. The salesperson begins to first focus only on his or her emotions of disappointment to discouragement. When the salesperson and the sales prospect finally reconnect, those emotions may surface or are still submerged. The prospect may sense those emotions and this may have a negative impact on the interaction.
Empathy is a necessary behavior for sales success. To ignore this talent, this capacity, may harm future business and individual growth.
Learn about these 78-core-talents-self-eval-dl and consider the special offer.Share on Facebook
Sales prospecting presents many dilemmas for salespeople. Some sales research suggests more salespeople are going rather than staying with prospects.
- 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)
- The average salesperson makes only two attempts to reach a sales prospect (Source:Sirius Decision)
Possibly part of the reason for more going than staying with this activity of sales prospecting is because there has been no time invested in strategic planning and identifying the ideal customer.
As one of my colleagues, Bill Napolitano, said “There are a lot of Captain Wing Its out in the SMB marketplace.” I further added this statement “who spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.”
Unless salespeople have sales leads they will remain pocket poor. These leads must be nurtured because not everyone is ready to buy during that first encounter. Years ago I read that just 2% of all closed deals happen during the first contact.
By short changing the strategic planning process, one of the results is short changing sales prospecting because it leads to spraying and praying instead of targeted prospecting. Does it not make more sense to prospect strategically with the ideal customer in mind than anyone with a pulse?
If you believe anyone with a pulse is your best sales referral, then read this posting that has gathered over 10,000 views.
Currently there are two great books to help you with sales prospecting:
High Profit Prospecting by Mark Hunter. Mark provides some very applicable templates to catapult your prospecting efforts.
Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount. Jeb also shares great tips and actionable prospecting ideas.
To be able to answer this question forthrightly will only happen after you have invested the time to think and plan (note both are verbs) and then determine your ideal customer.
Download this free Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template to support you in your sales prospecting efforts.
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For some inexperienced salespeople, there is a moment when they feel they must “Flee” the sales conversation. The conversation is not going well and internally the salesperson is thinking, “I can’t wait to get out of here.”
Then there are those sales folks who appear to engage in a fight with the sales prospect. From the potential ideal customer, these sales conversations appear to take on the appearance of being pushy or even bullied.
Maybe the most common “F” word in sales conversations is “Freeze.” The questions from the sales lead create an almost instantaneous freeze in the head of the salesperson. “What do I say next?” quickly puts an end to the flow of the sales conversation.
All of these “F” words can be avoided with planning and practice and more practice. Sales role playing helps to overcome these “F” words during sales conversation. Reflection immediately before and after any sales conversation also helps to keep flee, flight and freeze responses to a minimum.
When salespeople master their knowledge of their solution and about their sales leads; become autonomous in knowing when to make the right choice and remember to relate to the person across the desk, they will only increase their own internal motivation to increase sales and not be detoured by these three “F” words.
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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.Share on Facebook
Norman Vincent Peale said “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
If you are in sales, what would be those differences?
- More loyal customers?
- Less hours?
- Bigger bank account?
- No stress?
- Easier sales interactions
Years ago I modified Peale’s simple mantra to “Change your words; improve your results.”
For I believe the words we speak and write make even a greater difference to the results we desire especially when we are in sales.
This change came after doing some personal research on emotional intelligence and becoming very self aware about the reaction by others to specific words.
For example, the word “need” is very prevalent within sales training.
What are the customer’s wants and needs?
What does the sales lead need to do to take action?
How can your solution create the need for urgency to move forward?
Yet need is perceived to be very judgmental word. Internally people may balk at this word and the sales leads may not even know the word “need” is creating this negative reaction. Other similarly judgmental words include “should” and “think.”
What I have discovered is instead of speaking “should,” I now use this phrase, “you may wish to consider.” For the often used word, “think,” my substitution is “my sense is.”
Then there is the word “yes.” For salespeople this is a great word because it can move the sales conversation forward to actually earning the sale.
However the word yes has no emotional value what so ever for the prospect. A far better word is agreement.
When we ask to have agreement, we are subconsciously implying an invisible contract between the sales prospect and ourselves.
Recently in speaking with a colleague, Tom Lemanski, he shared another word that makes a difference – visit.
Salespeople are always looking to schedule appointments. The word appointment now is perceived as being more neutral to even negative.
When we change the word appointment to visit, this sounds more emotionally engaging and far less sterile. The additional value inherent is we have differentiated ourselves from all those other salespeople who use the word appointment.
Since communication is an evolving process, the word we speak and write will continue to have different impact on those who hear or read them.
Yes words do matter in sales and the advice is to choose your sales conversation words wisely.
Would you like to increase your business results by 20% in 60 days?
Would you like to discover the problems within your sales process?
Consider giving Leanne Hoagland-Smith a call at 219.759.5601 CST especially if what you have tried has not worked and you are ready to challenge and then change the current status quo.
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So you want to be recognized by how you demonstrate sales leadership?
You want to stand out in the crowd, to Be the Red Jacket in that sea of gray suits?
Yet, sometimes you still feel you are one of the many instead of one of the few in how you demonstrate sales leadership.
What I have learned is people are busy, very busy even crazy busy. They have trouble remembering the schedule for the rest of the week less alone what happened yesterday or last week. Doesn’t it make sense to take their time troubles and turn them around especially when you are equally as busy.
Most in sales leadership roles use some sort of customer relationship management (CRM) system or program where they type into the database what happened on each sales call. This information allows them to remember what transpired and what actions they may have promised to take.
Since the customer relationship information is already there, why not re-purpose those notes into an executive summary for the sales prospect, sales lead or qualified prospect? With free shareware programs such as Cute PDF Writer, files are easily converted into PDF format and then can be quickly emailed.
If you think this is a waste of time, it isn’t. This past week I received several comments about the executive summaries with one sales prospect stating “Wow, very thorough…. I see how you made that top 25 list, ha.”
By investing the additional 5 minutes to demonstrate sales leadership and that is all it takes to capture the key points of the meeting does differentiate you and that could be just enough to give you a competitive advantage.Share on Facebook
Merriam-Webster defines abundance as ‘an ample quantity’ or ‘relative degree of plentifulness’ what a great way to approach sales! Start with the crazy idea that there are enough prospects out there for all of us to find our ideal customers, work together, and make money.
Taking an attitude of abundance means that every time you meet a new sales prospect, your brain believes that there are enough prospects out there and is evaluating if THEY ARE GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU. That may sound elitist, bear with me… not all prospects are created equal!
Out there are prospects who:
- Buy what you sell
- Need what you do
- Have money to spend
These are the prospect you want to turn into customers!
They value what you bring to their life – job – business and are willing to pay you for your expertise. I’d challenge you to think of this both in terms of the results people get from your product/service AND what they receive from you as an individual.
On the other hand – there are also sales prospects who use the products/services you sell, yet don’t need what you do. When chasing prospects who don’t need what makes you unique, a few things could happen.
First, you waste time chasing and never earn their business. Even worse…. they become your customer! Then you spend a lot of energy trying to be the vendor they were looking for, doing things that are outside your normal scope of activity, all to live up to an expectation you’re not interested in meeting anyway.
Unfortunately every day I meet salespeople who think in terms of scarcity instead of abundance. They hold on tight to anyone who is willing to do business with them. Their fear of not having enough, impeding their ability to let go of the unprofitable! Yet letting go is the only way to make room for earning their ideal customers.
I’m not sure who introduced me to the idea of attitude of Abundance vs. an attitude of Scarcity because if I could remember I would give them credit here. This was probably one of the most important concepts that I learned – it helped me truly embrace walking away from bad customers, the ones who cost me more in time/energy/effort than the revenue I get in exchange BUT want to give me their money.
Embrace Abundance and believe there are people out there who not only buy what you sell, they also need what you do – that is uniquely yours. Now take a look at your list of customers, who are your bad customers? Find a way to disengage and gracefully break up with them… if you need help listen to Paul Simon “…the answer is easy if you take it logically…” (50 Ways to Leave Your Lover).
Lynn Hidy founder of UpYourTeleSales.com, is the specialist at creating profitable telesales sales people and organizations. Working with Lynn you will learn to create a phone experience where they will forget you aren’t actually having a cup of coffee together.
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