Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Why Prospects are Like Fruit

Tags: Pipeline management, sales prospecting, closing sales

Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline.  He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.

“In The End, We’re All Just Fruit” – Watch the video!

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That phrase has stuck with me all these years, and we continue to reference it when we are presenting our Effective Sales System (this article has 2600 views – it’s worth reading) workshops and when we are working with our new clients for hirebettersalespeople.com. 

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME "SHELF LIFE"

Prospects:  They have a shelf life just like fruit: some of them a little longer than others.  Bananas – not so long, apples and mandarins a little longer, potatoes – not forever, but if they start to sprout, you can at least plant them in the ground and get more potatoes.  The bottom line is that none of them last forever.  You need to either eat them or find a way to preserve them for later.

As you go about looking at the shelves (prospecting in the market) for the produce you need for tonight’s meal or for meals over the next couple of days, you need to be somewhat selective so that the food you select today is fresh enough for cooking and or consuming over a short period of time.  I can buy a bag of potatoes and probably use them in two weeks.  Buy a bunch of bananas and we’ll need to eat them soon or else next week we will have to turn them into banana bread.

WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME

The same holds true for prospects relative to their buy cycle.  They are not in that cycle forever. Depending on what services you sell, they could be off the shelf in a week.  They may be in the looking, considering, “thinking about” cycle for a while, but once they decide to buy – it’s time to buy!

Years ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle.  The Chevy Avalanche had been out for a couple of years and I knew, when the day came, that was going to be my purchase. There is a Chevy dealership just down the road from my house in Montgomery, Ohio where I had purchased vehicles in the past from the manager Bill Wentzel.  When the day came – my lease was expiring – I went to Bill, told him I had a check in my pocket and would like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked him if he would get me a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way and just let me buy.

Two hours later – that’s because the paper work takes that long- I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.

***Note to bankers, advisors and insurance sales people***  
Your prospects are ALWAYS in the market.  EVERYONE you sell to is using, consuming and/or shopping for the services you offer.  Your timing has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be great. What has to be GREAT is your constant contact with them so that, when they are ready, you are top of mind.

 

DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH

Here is my real point.  When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with produce/prospects that aren’t quite ready or are already past their prime time for consumption:

  • Potatoes too green
  • Bananas too green
  • Tomatoes too yellow
  • Peaches too mushy
  • Stickers on meat packages that say “reduced”
  • Just renewed my insurance
  • Our lease expires in 11 months
  • We have to wait until this election is over

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects – work with them on solving their problem. Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf.  Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready.

Additional Resources:

How Effective is Your Sales Process?

Do You Need Better “Shoppers” (sales people) Who Won’t Perish? Sales Mistake Calculator

How to Determine a Qualified Prospect – Post-Call Checklist/Scorecard

5 Sales Activities that Lead to Success: Are Your Salespeople Assertive Enough?

Tags: sales competencies, sales management, sales prospecting, Sales Strategies, asking sales questions

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Assertive (not aggressive) salespeople win more business than others.  They care so much about doing the right thing for their clients that they are willing to risk the relationship and the deal in order to make sure the prospect or client makes the right decisions.  Does that describe your people?  Are they assertive?

When we say assertive, what do we mean?  What sales habits do assertive and successful people do day in and day out?  In 2010, I wrote a blog entitled 5 Direct Sales Activities That Lead to Sales Success that has been one of my highest readership blogs.  I went back and reviewed and here are the five steps:

  1. Activities that lead to getting names - networking, speaking engagements, sponsored seminars, meeting with centers of influence and/or asking for introductions
  2. Calling a suspect on the phone for an appointment
  3. Conversations and meetings to qualify a suspect
  4. Gathering additional information that leads to a presentation meeting
  5. Presentations/pitch meetings that lead to decisions

Steps 1 and 2 have changed dramatically in the last 6 years.  Social selling and the evolution of the buyer’s process utilizing all of the multiple channels of information has completely changed the process of prospecting for business.  Step 2 - getting a suspect on the phone - is virtually impossible with voicemails and phone trees.

Our Own Prospecting Case Study

Earlier this year, we decided to test the waters for our hiring business solution, www.hirebettersalespeople.com.  We had some initial success right off the bat with our launch in January of 2016, but then activity seemed to cool down.  We purchased a local lead list based on company size and title and I began calling.  Here are the calling results:

  • 66% of the dials took me directly into a recorded phone tree
  • 25% of the calls took me to a receptionist who was very helpful and informative but transferred me to voicemail
  • Of the remaining 9%, I had in depth conversations with 3 people, met with one and generated one sale from that contact

3 people fit our profile; I met with 1 and sold that one… but not to help them hire better salespeople, but rather to help them test, train and track some of the salespeople that were not “hitting their weight”.  The second was not interested at the time and the 3rd introduced me to someone in the home office. That contact has put us in the middle of negotiations for a 5-figure initial engagement.

I tell you that story to make the following points about step #2:

  • Calling prospects on the phone doesn’t work like it used to.  
  • It requires more attempts and effort than ever before - you have to have a different tactic and message to differentiate yourself.
  • Once you make contact, you have to be extremely good at what you do and have a compelling reason for people to listen and stay on the phone. THAT is where being more assertive makes a difference.

Steps 3, 4, 5:  How to be More Assertive at Qualifying, Presenting and Getting Decisions

In our primary markets of financial institutions, investment services and insurance brokerage, we ARE the resource for sales growth solutions.  We coach our clients on the fact that the reason for either their sales growth or loss is due to their peoples’  1) effort or 2) execution.  But what does assertiveness have to do with Effort and Execution of steps 3,4 and 5?  In a word, EVERYTHING.

Steps 3,4, and 5:

  1. Conversations and meetings to qualify a suspect
  2. Gathering additional information that leads to a presentation meeting
  3. Presentations/pitch meetings that lead to decisions

In each one of these steps, the skill of asking the right questions, the right way, at the right time is critical.  In our selling system, we explain that -  in order for a prospect to qualify - they must:

  1. Have compelling reasons to buy, make a change, do something different
  2. Have the capability and willingness to invest the right time, money and effort required for the purchase/change
  3. Be in a position of decision making and be able to make the decision to find a solution to the compelling (have to fix) issue,  can make the money decision, can leave a current or add to a current relationship, and say yes or no.

There are lots of questions that need to be asked in order to find out if the prospect qualifies in these three areas.  Some of these questions require a sales person to be assertive.  Questions such as:

  • How will you go about telling your current broker/banker/relationship that you are no longer going to do business with them?
  • If you don’t have the money, how will you solve the problem?
  • The budget you have won’t be enough to get you the outcome you want. What part of the solution do you want to eliminate?
  • What will you tell your partner when they say they don’t want to make the change?

Additionally, sometimes statements are required that would be considered counter-intuitive to selling, gutsy and risky.

  • Based on our experience and deep domain knowledge about your business, your best action to take would be this: ________.  If that doesn’t seem to work for you, then there’s a possibility that we won’t be a good match.
  • If I treated my clients the way you’ve been treated, then I would expect to be fired.
  • When we finish our presentation, solve all of the problems you’ve asked us to address within your budget and answered all your questions, I’ll need for you to be in a position to make a decision on whether we’ll do business together or not.
  • Maybe the most important thing for you to consider is “fit”.  If there isn’t a fit between our two companies, then our products and pricing really don’t matter.

Imagine for a second that you had salespeople that were gutsy enough to have these types of conversations. What would happen?  You might fear that you would lose more business. But… suppose that wasn’t the case.  Suppose by being more assertive and gutsy, your salespeople eliminated tire kickers earlier.  Suppose this lead to the elimination of “think it overs” and actually got people to decide.  Imagine for a second that your salespeople stopped making presentations to people who could only say “no” and never had the authority or intention of saying “yes”.  What would happen?

Your people would sell more, more quickly, at higher margins.  They would stop wasting time, stop getting delays, stop being shopped by a prospect that was just trying to keep a current provider honest.  

Here’s How Sales Managers Can Get Their Salespeople to be More Assertive

Sales managers must hold their salespeople accountable to the right level of sales activity.  To do this, you must have a success formula and a well-defined sales process so that you can identify where the choke points are for individuals when they fail to close “sure thing” opportunities.  You must also have a pipeline tool that actually helps you predict the possibility of an opportunity closing rather than a tool that just reports that there is activity in the pipeline.  And, finally, you must have a full pipeline – an anemic pipeline makes cowards out of salespeople. These are the tools you will need to help your salespeople be more assertive and close more business, more quickly, at higher margins.

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How to Win Business in Any Market at Any Time!

Tags: sales prospecting, performance management, increase sales, selling in today's market

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Selling in Any Market is one of my favorite keynote/workshops to deliver. When addressing a group of sales people or sales managers, I always create a stir when I loudly pronounce that the way to sell in any market is to “STOP making excuses and JUST SELL.”

When there are disruptions/economic conditions in your industry that cause you to get out of your normal flow in business, sometimes you end up spending more time playing defense than you do playing offense. 

In our primary markets – insurance brokerages, banking and investment services - disruptions have become a quarterly occurrence.  In my 20+ years in this business, I have asked audiences across the country if they have ever gone through a three-year period in their business when there wasn’t some sort of the disruption in the “normal” flow of business.  In short, their answer was no. In fact, disruptions in flow of business have become the norm.

In a recent discussion with one of our current client’s brokers, they described that the market is a hard market right now meaning that some prices are stable and some are going down.  As a result, some of the markets/carriers were lowering prices to grab market share.  When this happens, a broker’s own clients sometimes decide that it’s time to go for better premiums with the same coverage.  So, when this happens, brokers (like my client) have to play some defense to protect their turf.  And when that happens, brokers have a tendency to take their eyes off of prospecting – they stop playing offense.

I have several clients in the bank-owned investment brokerage business.  Last week, the Department of Labor passed new fiduciary regulations that have caused and will continue to cause a MAJOR disruption in that business.  Studies indicate that companies will literally spend billions of dollars to make sure they are compliant with the new regulations.  Not only will this require an investment of an enormous amount of money, but it will also take millions of hours invested by many for compliance training.  None of these activities are offensive in nature and so, in the end, will actually cost millions, maybe billions, more in lost productivity.

This is not necessary!  Here are just a couple of things to keep in mind as you attempt to manage performance during difficult periods:

  • Unlike 2008 (when a substantial piece of the market DID shrink), the current situation is not the same.
    1. Businesses are not going out of business because insurance premiums are going down.
    2. The amount of money in play in retirement and personal savings has not shrunk. If it’s a multi-billion/trillion dollar pile of money today, it will still be a multi-trillion pile of money once the Department of Labor regulations are fully implemented (January 1, 2018)
  • If your clients have a tendency to want to shop in a tough market, so do the clients of your competitors. Companies are in play, but you have to take the phone “off of the hook” and call them.
  • People that have invested their money with advisors that have not treated them in a way that is consistent with the new regulations (client focused/fiduciary responsibility) will be in the market to find an investment advisor/representative who will.
  • If you find that it is your smaller clients that want to shop – let them. My guess is that, if you let the bottom 20% of your insurance clients go, it will represent less than 5% of your total revenue.  One new client that looks more like your top 20% will replace at least 10 of your bottom clients.
  • If you are a financial advisor – DITTO. Frequently, my friend, Kevin Mummau from CUSO Financial, and I discuss the segmenting of books of business. Time and again, the 80/20 rule applies. Actually, based on his business intelligence, that industry looks more like 30/70.  But, still let the smaller accounts work with licensed bank reps or bring in an associate that can grow by growing with smaller accounts.

The bottom line is this: as a sales leader in an organization, you have the responsibility to keep your people focused on what it takes to win in any market, any environment.  Regardless of the score of the game, you have to…

Just like in a sport of any kind, stuff happens.  A team gets a big lead, catches a break, the wind shifts and the kick goes wide.  It doesn’t matter!  You cannot win just playing defense.

Sooner or later, you have to score more points than the opponent. That is offense!

When Your Sales Prospect Wants to Shop Around

Tags: sales prospecting, sales tips, shopping around

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

“My momma told me, you better shop around…shop, shop…oh yeah, you better shop around.”

Perhaps you recognize those lyrics from the 1960’s hit by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.  Maybe (and it probably depends on how old you are) that triggers memories of the good old days.  If you are a salesperson, maybe it triggers emotions around how frustrating it can be when your prospect goes shopping.  Smokey Robinson wrote those lyrics from the perspective of a mother’s advice to her son about making sure he finds the right girl to marry.  Of course, prospects use those lyrics to make sure they don’t “marry” the wrong supplier or the wrong vendor.

You and I both know that prospects shop…that is to be expected.  We use the term “buy cycle” to talk about the process that people go through when they make a significant purchase.  And most people have a buy cycle that is heavily influenced by lessons learned over many years of being a consumer.  Throw in some early lessons they might have learned from mom and dad like “don’t buy the first thing you see” and then add to that the messages that they receive from advertisers such as “you can get it for less here” and it is no wonder that buyers today are more convinced than ever that going shopping makes sense.

So, what can you do about it?  What can you do when your prospect wants to go Smokey Robinson and the Miracles on you?

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Understand that is perfectly normal for your prospect to take the buy cycle they use as an individual consumer and apply it to the purchases they make as a business.
  2. Remember that their buy cycle has generally benefited them as a consumer as it has probably saved them money.
  3. Remember that while it is ok to challenge their buy cycle, you don’t want to confront or challenge them directly. You should ask, “I’m curious; could you tell me more about the process you are going to follow for making this decision?”  As Stephen Covey has said, “Seek first to understand before being understood.”
  4. Be strong enough to ask, “What are you hoping to accomplish by shopping?”
  5. Deal with their buy cycle upfront. The best salespeople always understand two things:  why the prospect will buy and how they will buy.  Address that early in the sales cycle as opposed to worrying about it after your presentation.

 

That’s all for now, folks. Now, go sell like a champion today.

SUMMARY

When your sales prospect wants to shop around, remember these 5 things:

  1. It’s normal for your prospect to have a buy cycle in their business purchases.
  2. Their buy cycle has generally benefited them as a consumer to save money.
  3. Ask, “Could you tell me more about the process you are going to follow for making this decision?”
  4. Ask, “What are you hoping to accomplish by shopping?”
  5. Deal with their buy cycle upfront.

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?

Keep Doing What You’ve Been Doing… Unless You Need Different Results

Tags: qualifying prospects, sales prospecting, close more sales

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

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There is a saying that goes something like “If you do what you have always done, then you will get what you have always gotten.”

I talk to a lot of salespeople who continue to plow ahead working harder to make more sales with the same approach they have used for years. In the words of Dr. Phil, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”

You would probably agree that the basics around what salespeople need to do to be successful hasn’t changed – they still must hunt, qualify and close.  If your results are not what you want them to be, then maybe what needs to change is the way you go about those three critical tasks.

How is your Hunting?

  • Are you still hunting with old technology or are you using Sales 2.0 tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to connect with prospects, customers and former customers?
  • Are you still relying on mass marketing approaches in the hopes that enough people will respond only to realize that most of those that do are looking for free information?
  • Do you have a systematic approach to generating a stream of introductions and referrals or do you still depend on cold calls?

What about Qualifying?

  • Are you still telling the prospect why they should do business with you or asking them why they agreed to meet with you?
  • Do you have an effective selling system that tells you when to stay and when to walk away?
  • Are you selling consultatively? Asking good questions, asking enough questions, developing relationships early in the sales process, understanding why prospects buy and listening effectively?

And what about Closing?

  • Does your prospect agree to give you a decision after you present your solution or do you get a lot of “think it over” and “we’ll let you know?”
  • Do you get derailed because you present without all of the decision makers present?
  • Do you finish presenting your solution and NOT ask for the business by asking, “What do you think” or “What questions do you have” OR will you close with “What would you like to do now?”

 

Today’s buyers have access to information that used to be unavailable to them and there are always going to be desperate salespeople that will give them whatever they want with the hope of getting a “shot” to write the account.

Maybe your results are where you want them to be, but if not, think about what YOU are going to get if you don’t do some things differently.

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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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Is Your Opening Hurting Your Sales Closing?

Tags: Initial Sales Call, sales prospecting

 

Business people at starting line

(**To hear the audio version, click here!)

When I was in high school, I ran track.  During my sophomore and junior years, I ran the 1-mile race.  Though I normally like to take the lead early, I really wasn’t entirely focused on a “great start” because I had 5,280 feet to make up for a slow start.

During my senior year, I ran the 880-yard event.  Not a sprint, not the exhausting 440, but certainly a little more demanding of speed and a good start than what I needed when I ran the mile.  I had half the distance to make up a poor start.

My best friend was Neal Stevens.  Neal ran the 110 high hurdles.  He has zero time to make up for a slow start.  And I don’t recall Neal EVER having a slow start.  His great start and his ability to time the hurdles perfectly was awarded in the state championships in 1973 when he won the gold medal in that event.

This concept applies to many things in selling, but especially when it comes to meeting, engaging, qualifying and eventually attempting to close a new piece of business.  I know that most of you, if not all of you, have heard the expression, “You only get 1 chance to make a great first impression.”  I am convinced of that adage as well as you only get one chance to conduct a great first meeting that improves your ability to close a piece of business.

If you think about the reasons you didn’t get a piece of business or secure an account over the last year, what are some of the reasons?

  • Price too high
  • Not talking to the decision maker
  • Didn’t provide the exact solution to match the prospects problem
  • The incumbent relationship came back and matched your offer
Or…
  • The incumbent came back, begged for the business, and promised to do better
  • You didn’t know about the competition
  • You didn’t understand the decision making process
  • The client was looking at other alternate solutions

This list is pretty long and probably close to all-inclusive.  So, why do we get these objections at time of close?

It all comes back to the first meeting.  Each and every one of these items can be and should be addressed early on.  Certainly most of them should be addressed in the first meeting because this helps you “disqualify” the suspect early so that you can get to those suspects that will qualify.  I understand sometimes this information may come out as you develop the relationship and work to determine if you want the business and can get the business. You may not get to all of these items in the first meeting, but all of this information should be known to you prior to presenting. If these are the objections you are going to get to buying from you, deal with them before you do all the work and invest all of your time going to underwriting, preparing proposals and practicing your presentation.  Negotiate all of the potential objections up front so that, when you finish, you can simply ask, “What would you like to do now?”

As always, thank you for reading and have a perfect day.

 

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Overcoming The Money Problem in Sales

Tags: sales prospecting, closing sales

A guest blog by Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert

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You must be PREPARED.

  • Have specific questions to respond to the price issue
  • Help them discover that low price may not mean lowest cost
  • Find prospects that place value on something besides just price
  • Look at why others are doing business with you
  • Keep a full pipeline

“Show me the money.” 

It’s a critical part of every effective sales process, and yet, sometimes that very discussion causes us to get “off track” and lose focus on the objective of the call.

Welcome to this week’s Sales Brew about “The Money Problem” - overcoming the reluctance to ask the tough questions.

While I won’t argue that price is part of the decision making process, what do you do when the prospect tells you it is the driving factor?  This can be challenging, but you can use this information to your advantage to make critical decisions. Once you understand the motivation of the buyer, you can and should decide early in the sales process if it makes sense for you to work on an opportunity or not.

Realize that there can be times where making a price-based sale could be bad for your business. So, let’s talk about the problems of selling on price.

  1. You sacrifice margin, which means making more sales to achieve your revenue goal.
  2. It’s a short-term versus a long-term strategy to building your business.
  3. You trade “building the kind of business you want” for revenue today.
  4. You will constantly be “defending” the sale over the next 12 months from the “price attackers.”
  5. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Win on price, lose on price

So, what should you do when you find out that it’s a price-driven decision? Well, you need to recognize the following:

  1. First, it’s part of the official buyer’s manual. Buyers have been conditioned to believe that there is always a lower price and a salesperson desperate enough to go there.
  2. Sometimes they buy on price because that is how THEY personally make buying decisions.
  3. When the prospect tells you up front that this is a price-based decision, you need to ask what else besides price is driving this decision and, if the answer is “nothing”, be prepared to move on.

 

So, what can you do to overcome the money problem?  Answer:  You must be prepared.

  • Make sure, in your pre-call preparation, you have specific questions to respond to the price issue, i.e. questions that look for things that are important to them other than price.
  • Ask questions to help them discover that low price may not mean lowest cost. Price is what you pay for something; cost is what you end up paying or losing out on because of that decision.
  • If you are committed to achieving your goals, then you must find prospects that place value on something besides just price.
  • In order to do that, you must look at why others are doing business with you.
  • Keep a full pipeline. The lack of an abundant pipeline puts pressure on us to work on low probability opportunities.

 

Don’t let your business be driven by price shoppers.  Get out there and prospect everyday.

March Madness Thursday and Selling

Tags: Selling, sales prospecting, closing sales, march madness

MarchMadness123rf

This might be the biggest stretch ever in the history of my blog. How can I possibly tie the NCAA Basketball Tournament (also known as March Madness) to selling? Honestly, I’m not sure…so I will be making this up as I go. Let me begin by setting the stage for selling and how I see it is similar to the event of March Madness.

  • Prospecting > games that are played by all Division I teams throughout the year.
  • Qualifying > Selection Sunday – based on performance of the teams, 68 teams qualify to make the tournament.
  • Assessing the Opportunity to win > selecting your teams from the ‘brackets’ that you think have the best chance to win OR the teams you want to win OR the teams you think will be the upset and give you a chance to win the office pool.
  • Presenting > The Madness begins on Monday night in the play in gams and then on Thursday the real fun begins with a full slate of 16 games where the participating teams play their hearts out and let the ball bounce where it may
  • Closing > In some cases, the game is over before it begins – Villanova. In other games there are more questions that need to be answered (overtime) before a victor is declared – Ohio State and Cincinnati! (Both WINNERS). In some cases an unexpected outcome – an upset – a 13 seed beating a 4 seed and the favored winners Iowa State and Baylor are going home.
  • Get a decision > The loser goes home, the winner savors the victory before facing the next big challenge – Cincy vs. UK and OSU vs Arizona. Xavier is still in the hunt, but they play the upset winner - 14 seed Georgia State.

And as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now… the rest of the story.”

Think about some of the outcomes of the presentations you’ve made where you were the top seed, you were the one in the game with all the right things in place to help you win the business. You have the talent, you have the bench strength, you have had great coaching, you’ve prepared, you have presented to the prospect what you said you would but then… in the final seconds… someone throws up a “buzzer beater” and there goes your sale. What happened?

  • The prospect let the incumbent come in and they matched my price.
  • I couldn’t get underwriting to change a covenant.
  • They took it to the decision maker and that person didn’t want to change
  • They said it was too expensive
  • They are thinking it over
  • Etc. etc. etc.

And just like in the ball game, it’s easy to point to the last play in the game that seals the upset – RJ Hunter’s 3 pointer with less than 2 seconds left to win the game for Georgia State – (You have to watch the video!!!).

But, when the coaches that lose review the game video with their team, they point out to their team that there were several opportunities during the game that, if the team had performed better/differently, the outcome would not have come down to the last shot.

The same is true in selling. It hardly ever comes down to the last shot when determining if you will win or lose the game:

  • Matching price – you should have uncovered earlier who was going to win a price tie.
  • Changing covenants – you should know beforehand the exact specs you need to get the deal done and, if you cannot meet those specs, you don’t present.
  • Decision making – you should know the decision making process before presenting.
  • They said it was too expensive – Why didn’t you know the budget before you presented?
  • Think it overs – you must eliminate this as an option when discussing the decision making process.
  • Etc. – uncover in advance what can go wrong and deal with those things prior to attempting to present and close.

As the sales manager/sales executive, it is your responsibility to:

  • Put the best possible team on the court.
  • Make sure you have provided your team the resources they need to win.
  • Prepare them with a solid strategy to win.
  • Practice what you expect them to perform.
  • Debrief after they perform so you can help them change behaviors and improve skill

Once you do your job, and you do your best to make sure they are doing their job then get them on the court and see where the ball bounces.

Additional Resources:

Sales Management Environment – Duilding the structure to improve your chances for winning.

Sales Talent Acquisition Routine – Hire Better Sales People - get the right people to come to your team to play and WIN against the opponents in your market.

Goal Setting and Business Plan Development – Build a foundation so that your team has the required internal motivation to win in all market conditions.