Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Walt Gerano

Recent Posts

9 Strengths of Consultative Sellers

adults-agreement-beverage-567633

“It’s not you, it’s me!”  I love that scene from Seinfeld. 

In today's blog, we answer the sales question, "Is it me or is it you?"

Selling has changed a lot in the last 10 years and, if you haven’t noticed, some of the tried and true ways might not be as effective as they once were.

My vote is that the buyer and the buying process have changed the most, so it’s “them”. So, now that we have established who is at fault, let’s talk about why and what to do about it.

  • It continues to be harder to get to prospects. Everyone is busier and gets more e-mails, calls and texts.
  • Because they are busier, they don’t feel like they have time to meet.
  • Unless you have something compelling to say, they are less likely to listen.
  • Today, more than ever, the buyer starts the process; therefore, as salespeople, we enter the sales cycle much later than before.
  • As much as price was an issue before, it may be an even bigger issue for some today.

 So… what is a salesperson to do?

According to Dave Kurlan at the Objective Management Group, you need to sell more consultatively.

What does that mean?  Well, here are the 9 attributes for consultative selling from the OMG sales evaluation:

  1. Asks “Great” Questions. They must be questions that help uncover a problem not just lead to an issue that causes you to go into presentation mode.
  2. Asks “Enough” questions. Do you dig down beneath the surface to understand the impact of the problem or stop when you think you have enough to put together a proposal?
  3. Develops strong relationships. This goes beyond the chit-chat to a place where real trust develops.  It is a process, not an event.
  4. Presents at the appropriate times. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to present and, other times, we get ahead of the prospect.
  5. Uncovers issues. Real problems that exist or might come about if the situation is neglected.  It has to be beyond the “product”.
  6. Understands how prospects will buy. Remember, it’s their process; however, your questions can help drive urgency.
  7. Takes nothing for granted. Even if it looks like the others, it’s not!
  8. Able to ask tough questions. Anyone can ask the layups; prepare to ask questions even when it is uncomfortable.  That is one way to establish yourself as a trusted adviser.
  9. Able to listen and ask questions with ease. Listening does not mean waiting for your turn to talk.  Listen to understand what the prospect is really trying to tell you and then ask your question to clarify what you heard.  Don’t assume you know.

This is a lot of stuff to think about.  Could working on some of these 9 help you be more effective and sell more?  I think so, but it’s up to you.

4 Steps to Create Client Advocates

Tags: creating advocates, solving sales issues, exceeding customer expectations

A guest post by Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

advocate_checklist.jpg

Today's question is this: “What are you doing to keep your clients coming back... and telling their friends?”

Can you think of a place where you go, wait in a long line, spend a lot of money and yet can’t wait to tell others how great it was and go back again?  Well, that could describe a number of places, but the frame of reference I want to use today is the Disney experience.

No one would argue with the success that Disney has in exceeding expectations and creating advocates. When you go there your first time, it is more beautiful than you ever imagined.  You have such a magical time that you forget about how much things cost or how long the lines are for almost everything.  In his book, Inside the Magic Kingdom, author Tom Connellan shows us (in story form) the seven keys to Disney’s success and how they work to create a dazzling experience for all of their guests.  As you read the book, you can only imagine what would go into building and sustaining that kind of relationship with your customers.

In order to achieve “dazzling”, you must have a process that is consistent and predictable.  People need to know what they can depend on when they trust you with their business.  In other words, it’s not a once-in-a-while thing; it is just the way you do things.

Keep in mind that it does not have to be the same thing for all of your clients.  The way you support your top 20% needs to be different from how you support your bottom 20%. But, at the heart of it all, everyone gets the basics.

So, how DO you create advocates?

  1. You have to find out what they want.How do you do this?  Ask!  Give them a list of things to choose from with the option to add things that might not be on the list.
  2. Next, prioritize critical areas. The key here is to find out what they won’t tell you.  How many times have you left a restaurant after you told your server everything was fine when they asked… then you  get back to your car and vow to never go back?  Some of your clients may do the same thing.
  3. Identify performance levelsand find out where they are setting the bar; don’t assume you know.
  4. Negotiate expectations. Now is the time to deal with anything you are not willing to agree to. Sometimes we say “yes” because we think it’s a deal breaker; just ask and then decide.  If it is outside your process, then you are better served to move on because, unfortunately, it will always be a struggle and they will never become an advocate anyway.

The only way to exceed your customer’s expectations is to know what they actually are, not what you think they are.  Start by having that conversation first and soon you will have them coming back for more and telling their friends.

Additional Resources:

Solving Problems for Prospects

Take Charge of Your Sales Meetings

Tags: sales meetings, sales prospecting, effective sales process

sales-meeting-web.jpgsales-meeting-web.jpg

A guest post by Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

Prospects are great at being prospects; let’s face it, they get plenty of practice.  Every salesperson that calls on them gives them a chance to try things out to see what salespeople do when the prospect asks a certain question or responds in a certain way.  Advantage prospect.  Probably not the position salespeople want to be in on their next sales call.

So, let's ask the question, “Who’s in charge here?”

Sometimes salespeople are so happy to get in front of a prospect that they allow prospects to control the meeting.  Whatever question the prospect asks, the salesperson answers it.  Whenever the prospect asks for information, you give it to them.  When they want a proposal or quote, you go back to the office and begin to work on it. Who’s in charge?

If you don’t have an effective sales process and a methodology to prepare, you wind up answering questions, being on the defensive and have a difficult time finding out if prospects even qualify to do business with you.  After all, isn’t that why you are there?

I would agree that we should be ready for some of the questions designed to put you on your heels, but you must also have a “counter-attack” planned as well.  Suppose prospects ask you a question like, “Why should I do business with you?”

First off all, you should be ready for it and find out the real question.  Sometimes it’s a throwaway question… meaning that they toss it out there hoping you will spill the beans and give them some helpful information without any commitment. Or they have a problem and are trying to find out if you are good enough to help them.  Find out the real question and then answer it.

How will you use what you learned on the phone call to set up the appointment to help you qualify the prospect?  You must prepare questions in advance that help you discover the “Big 4”.

  1. Do they have a problem (PAIN) that they are committed to fixing?
  2. Do they have the time, money and other resources to commit to a solution?
  3. Do you know their decision making process and have you met with all decision makers prior to agreeing to present a solution?
  4. Did the prospect agree to a decision, yes or no, when you present?

If you answered “yes” to those 4, you have a prospect.

Regardless of the things the prospect does to derail you, remember these 4 things:

  1. You must find out why they took time to meet with you – the “why am I here?” question.
  2. You have to be of the mindset that they have to qualify to do business with you.
  3. You have the right to get all the information you need to do the job being asked of you.
  4. You have the right to make decisions that are not popular with others… and the right to walk away as well.

“Why should I do business with you?”  Tell them, “maybe you shouldn’t”, but if they have the Big 4, you should at least talk about it.

SUMMARY

Remember: To take charge of your sales meetings, find out if you have the Big 4:

  1. Do they have a problem (PAIN) that they are committed to fixing?
  2. Do they have the time, money and other resources to commit to a solution?
  3. Do you know their decision making process and have you met with all decision makers prior to agreeing to present a solution?
  4. Did the prospect agree to a decision, yes or no, when you present?