Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Close More Sales with AWATL

Tags: close more sales, effective sales process

A guest post by Jack Kasel, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

“What we have here . . . . is a failure to communicate.” 

You may recognize that line from one of my all-time favorite movies, Cool Hand Luke.  If you get nothing else out of this Sales Brew, do yourself a favor and go rent that movie.  You will be glad you did. 

Struther Martin’s character in the movie, Cool Hand Luke, makes that statement when the prisoner’s don’t do what is expected of them.  This same execution problem can occur during the sales process and it can cause problem with moving the sale to a timely close.  It usually manifests itself when something like this occurs . . . . . I think I know what you are going to do and you think you know what I’m going to do, but neither one of us really knows for sure what the other one wants or needs.  Thus, the need for the AWATL.

The AWATL stands for “As We Agreed To Letter”.  It is a brief correspondence that the salesperson should send out to clearly indicate what the expectation is (for both parties) on what is needed and expected.  It can be used early in the process or during the middle and is also extremely effective just before you present your solutions to the prospect.

The AWATL process is pretty simple, but it can be very effective.  It is a bullet-point letter or email which spells out the go-forward expectations for both the salesperson and prospect.  It also contains date-specific deadlines to make sure the process doesn’t get stalled or delayed.  Everything works better with deadlines and that is especially true when closing sales.  As mentioned previously, it can be VERY effective just before your closing presentation. 

The important elements of the AWATL includes:

  • The problems you have uncovered that your prospect NEEDS to fix
  • The budget you need to stay within
  • All the decision makers who will be present
  • Finally, and most important, the agreed-to and anticipated date when a decision will be made.

As sales professionals, we should try to control as many aspects of the sales process as possible.  We believe the AWATL can help you help you accomplish that goal… or at least help eliminate any misunderstandings that may hinder you from closing more business. 

In closing, please remember this, someone needs what you do . . . . make sure you don’t “fail to communicate” with them.

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Take Charge of Your Sales Meetings

Tags: sales meetings, sales prospecting, effective sales process

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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?

Effective Selling - Are You a Good Pitcher?

Tags: close more sales, effective sales process

Great closing pitchers get batters out. They always don't get people to strike out. Sometimes runners get on base, but then the next batter hits into a double play and now there are two outs and no one on base. The third batter hits a fly ball to the outfield, the outfielder catches the ball – ballgame. Another save for the closer.

Everything started with the pitch; the same is true in effective selling. Take a look at the cartoon from the Cincinnati Enquirer in November of this year:

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Lt. Fuzz is the salesperson. Imagine you are Lt. Fuzz and you are calling the general on the phone instead of face-to-face. Or you are meeting someone on the chicken dinner tour and you are introducing yourself and what you do. Your initial “pitch” is “I have some nifty ideas that will do -, I’d like to come by and show you/tell you more about how this can save you money, improve effectiveness, reduce risk…”

Until you identify a benefit that benefits the prospect directly – something that has personal impact/appeal - then your pitch will miss the mark.

Several years ago, I heard Matt Hogan talk about the concept of “thinking presidentially.” I have often shared this concept with sales people and sales managers over the years during training sessions and keynote speeches. The idea is to think like the president of the company you are calling on.

Think about the things that matter most to the president. Yes, saving money is important, but why? Yes, reducing risk is important, but why? Yes, managing cash flow is important, but why? If you understand the why and address the why when you initiate the call, you are more likely to get the “I’m all ears” response rather than “I’m not interested.”

Additional resources:

Ted Talk – Simon Sinek – The Golden Circle of Why

Tony Cole Youtube Video – What’s Important to Your Prospect

Sales Process Grader – Is Your Sales Process Being Executed Effectively?

Are Curve Balls Putting You in a Sales Slump?

Tags: close more business, sales prospecting, Sales Strategies, effective sales process, asking sales questions

A guest post by Mark Trinkle, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

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“Straight balls – bats like very much…curve balls – bats afraid.”

If you are a fan of the movie Major League, I’m sure you recognize that opening line from the outfielder, Pedro Cerrano, who had a lot of trouble hitting curve balls.  So, in honor of baseball’s All-Star Game that was played in my hometown of Cincinnati, today’s post is all about curve balls.

Do you know who else has trouble hitting curve balls?  Salespeople. And I’m not talking about resurrecting memories from their baseball playing days, but rather I am talking about the curve balls that get tossed at them by their prospects during a sales call.

At Anthony Cole Training, we define curve ball questions as questions that could make you nervous…or questions that might make you squirm. Quite simply, they are questions you wish the prospect simply would not ask.  Now, clearly, the remedy for curve ball questions is adequate pre-call planning, but let’s leave that for another day and another Sales Brew.

For now, let’s look at some of the typical curve ball questions. Here are just a few:

  1. Why should I do business with you? Now that question is one prospects are taught when they attend prospect school; it gets covered on day 1.  If you want to diffuse it, your best bet is to simply respond with “I’m not sure that you should.”

  2. How big is your company? That is another question that has been known to make salespeople look foolish.  And, no doubt, part of the problem here is that the salesperson generally does not know why the prospect is asking the question.  So, here is your response… “I’m curious, I get that question a lot…why do you ask?”

  3. What makes you unique…or how are you different from your competition? Answer this question and you immediately begin to look like a salesperson.  Your best bet is to be able to succinctly sum up what your existing clients would say are the reasons why they hired you.

  4. We’re impressed with what you have presented, but we need some time to look over your proposal. Clearly, this happens most of the time because the salesperson delivers a solution without setting up the expectation around the yes/no option (i.e. we don’t deliver solutions without knowing we are going to get an answer.)  But, nonetheless, your best response here is to ask either “What happens to your problem while you do that?”…or “What have we missed or what is unclear that is preventing you from making a decision today one way or the other?”

Here is the thing about curve ball questions.  They are usually pitches in the dirt.  Stop swinging at them.

Thanks for listening…now go sell like a champion today.

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