ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Show Me the Money

Posted by Alex Cole on Wed, Mar 13, 2019

Without revenue, a sale cannot be made.  However, making a sale is not all about the money, and it is a salesperson's duty to overcome their prospect's money problem and be prepared for what objections are thrown their way.

In this article, we discuss the preparation involved in overcoming this common problem, and ultimately, the notion that, "If you win on price, you’ll also lose on price."

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Money is 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.

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 the opportunity or not.

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

  1. 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.

When you sell off of price, you sacrifice margin, trade “building the kind of business you want” for revenue today and constantly need to “defend” the sale. Unfortunately, we know that if you win on price, you’ll also lose on price.

Don’t let your business be driven by price shoppers. 

Topics: selling in today's market, sales advice, new age selling, salespeople, sales opportunity, price, money

How to Bring the Closing Magic

Posted by Walt Gerano on Thu, Mar 07, 2019

Great salespeople are masterful at asking open-ended, courageous questions of their prospects that either lead them towards, or away, from saying "yes" to their solution. There are many instances throughout the sales process where trial closes are appropriate to identify the prospects true compelling reason to make a change.

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Everyone is always asking me: “What are the magic questions when closing?” My answer is simple: There is nothing magical about it. People who consistently close business do so because they have an effective process that they execute every time.

If the only time you are closing is when you have presented a solution, you might be working on too many opportunities that are not really opportunities.

1.) The first opportunity we have to close is during the appointment.  When it sounds like there is some mental anguish or pain, we should ask the prospect to invite us out to discuss in more detail, or agree to another phone appointment when selling long distance.

2.) Our second opportunity comes after we have identified a problem.  They must tell you they are committed to fixing the problem.  In other words, they are going to pursue solutions until they find the one that works for them.

My 3 favorite questions to ask at this point are:

  1. Do you believe I understand your problem?
  2. Do you believe I have the ability to fix your problem?
  3. Do you want my help?

Remember this all happens BEFORE we go back and begin to work on solutions.

Our final opportunity comes after we have presented our solution and answered every objection and every question. 

This one is easy, simply ask:

“What would you like to do now?”

When they don’t respond right away, avoid the temptation to jump in and rescue them.  Wait for an answer.

If it’s a yes, schedule the next step, if a no go back to the pain.

Follow this process and your results will be MAGICAL.

Topics: closing more sales, Closing business, Closing skills, closing sales techniques, sales opportunity, when to walk away

Solution vs. Budget

Posted by Jack Kasel on Wed, Feb 27, 2019

Typically, when a salesperson doesn't win an account it's due to a few different factors; the prospect didn't have a compelling reason to make a change, the salesperson didn't do enough to uncover their capacity to invest, or the incumbent wasn't properly eliminated from the running.

In this article, we discuss the 3 Rules every successful salesperson must follow in order to eliminate stalls and objections during the sales process.

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There is an age-old debate about which came first, the chicken or the egg. While that debate may never be solved, there is one “which comes first” situation that shouldn’t be up for debate and that is “see the solution first or know the budget first?” 

In my work with helping client’s develop their sales talent, I know there are two topics that get avoided on a regular basis, and both are to the detriment of the sales person. Those two “taboo topics” are discussing the incumbent and uncovering the budget. I will address the incumbent discussion in a later blog.

When I refer to the budget, I am referring to it in three categories commonly known as ‘TMR’—Time, Money, and Resources. What are they willing to commit, in the context of time, money and/or resources to make their problem go away? It is my experience that the stronger sales professionals don’t shy away from that discussion. They are successful because they follow these rules.

Rule 1#

Have the conversation. The 800 lbs. budget gorilla is in the room so talk about it. Don’t make it part of your opening conversation, but don’t ignore it either. If the need is big enough, and your solutions fixes it, most of the time, they will find the money.

Rule #2

Provide context. Regardless of the investment your prospect needs to make to fix their problem, it needs to be framed in the context of their pain and your ability to eliminate it. If the pain is minimal, then your solution won’t seem that great. We’ve had prospects tell us their problem is a “two-comma problem” meaning their cost of turnover was over $1 million dollars. That’s context.  Know their cost before you proceed

Rule #3

Don’t show your solution until you know the budget. It’s really that simple. If you have ever provided a solution to a prospect only to hear them say “that’s more than we intended to spend”, then you have an issue discussing the budget. Does it make sense to know their appetite for change, including budget, before you provide your solution? Here is where the strong sales professional is different. If the prospect doesn’t want to discuss budget, they know it can be for one of two reasons. They haven’t uncovered enough pain or the prospect simply wants to use you as a pencil sharpener for the competition. You don’t get paid to be a pencil sharpener so don’t become one.

In closing don’t be afraid of the conversation. In the history of sales, no one died from discussing budget. I doubt you will be the first.

Topics: how to get a commitment to buy, consultative selling, providing value to customers, qualified leads, sales acceleration, sell faster, overcoming rejection

Is Your Current Sales Opportunity Real?

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Feb 21, 2019

In this article, we discuss and identify the three main reasons why salespeople get duped into believing a specific opportunity will close and why some deals are not worth chasing.

They are:

  1. Weak pipeline
  2. Failure to ask tough questions
  3. Afraid to pull the plug

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“Reality is merely an illusion.  Albeit a persistent one.” - Albert Einstein

Throughout my sales coaching career, I have yet to meet a salesperson who does not understand that sales will require hard work.  Yes, they might all have a different willingness to put in that hard work, but they understand that selling is not for the faint of heart.  They know that there will be some rough days.  They also understand that when they accomplish what they need to each week, they will generally be tired come Friday afternoon.  They don’t mind working hard.

But what they do mind (and this is universal), is chasing hard after a deal that, as it turns out, they had no chance to win.  They were punching above their weight class.  And as a result, they wasted their time.  In my opinion, there is nothing more expensive to you as a sales professional than spending time pursuing an opportunity that you have no chance to win.  Simply put, you can’t get the time back.

So why does it happen so frequently?  If you knew you were lost, when would you want to know that?  I am guessing before you wasted more gas going in the wrong direction.  Right?

I believe we can identify three main reasons why salespeople get fooled:

  1. Weak pipeline – We know that weak pipelines "make cowards of us all."  If you have not eaten in a while, any food looks good to you.  It won’t matter if it is the right food…or if it is good food.  It is food so you will eat it.  Which is precisely why you should not go grocery shopping while you are hungry.
  2. Failure to ask the tough questions – The best day to lose an opportunity is the first day. The second best day to lose one is today.  Are you asking the tough questions of your prospect that will allow them the opportunity to self-select out of the decision?  Or are you asking the easy questions to get you to the next step in the process?  What are you pretending not to know?
  3. Afraid to pull the plug – Sometimes opportunities start well, but then the salesperson is met with radio silence from the prospect. And rather than “politely” confront the prospect with what the radio silence means, the salesperson keeps chasing.  Radio silence can mean the problem has gone away, the problem has been swallowed up by other priorities, or the prospect has solved the problem with someone else.

So, is it time for you to “get real” with a prospect in your pipeline?  The time you save is yours.

 

Topics: sales competency, how to improve sales results, sales advice, think it overs, salespeople, sales interjection, sales opportunity, radio silence

5 Commonly Overlooked Sales Tools

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Feb 13, 2019

In a business world filled with an abundance of technologically advanced CRM tools, there are 5 tools that salespeople must use and sales managers must implement throughout their day-to-day activities and agendas, in order to be successful.

They include:

  1. Effective Personal Goal Setting
  2. The Ideal Week
  3. Sales Process
  4. Huddles
  5. The Success Formula and the 10% Difference

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Do you have all the sales tools you need to succeed? If yes, then forget about this article and go to The Truth About Prospecting.  If you feel you don’t have the tools, or the tools you have are not getting you to your desired sales results, then read on.

I was first introduced to sales tools when I was recruited into the Life Insurance business by David Zimmerman. That tool was the One Card System developed by Al Granum of Northwestern Mutual Insurance. Al’s process of tracking and holding insurance agents to a formula for success is legendary in the Life Insurance industry and is the basis for most CRM strategies used today. Simply stated, Mr. Granum’s research identified that an agent needed 10 leads (suspects) to generate 3 prospects (who will participate in a full fact-finding meeting) to get 1 client.

Over the years, I have seen many variations of this but ultimately the objective is the same. Help a salesperson understand exactly what they need to do to hit their objectives. But this tool by itself is not nearly as effective as when combined with other tools.

Despite all the fuss with sales force automation, lead generation and pipeline management, we know the following to be true: 

  • 33% of the production team is responsible for over 90% of sales results
  • 67% of the team is responsible for less than 10% of the sales results
  • None of the 67% were hired NOT to succeed

So, what is the problem? Why the variance of performance when all these tools purchased and implemented were supposed to fix sales? Here are the 5 commonly overlooked tools that salespeople must use and sales managers must implement.

#1: Effective Personal Goal Setting- Too often companies establish goals for their sales people and then 3 months later the argument ensues about ‘whose goal it was’.  Goal setting must be a personal activity. This is what drives internal motivation and it is internal motivation that keeps your people focused on shareholder value. Spending a day with your people with a thought-out plan to help them focus on personal goals and a corresponding work plan is the bases for the other 4 tools. 

#2: The Ideal Week- We conduct a full-day session on helping companies drive internal motivation and eliminating the excuse of - “I don’t have time”. The reason salespeople don’t have time to do the required and necessary lead generation activity is because they don’t control their business. They sacrifice pleasing outcomes for pleasing behaviors. In other words, instead of sticking to their schedule and making calls at 10:00, they take the inbound customer service call.

#3: Sales Process- Our data shows that over 85% of elite sales people (only 7% of all sales people) use a milestone-centric sales process. The first step in the journey is to get a name, the last step in the journey is to get a decision. Everything else in the middle must be identified as a step and measured.

#4: Huddles- Think of huddles as a communication system that allows the user and manager to collect real time information so that real time feedback can be given, or realized, and real time coaching and instruction can take place.

#5: The Success Formula and The 10% Difference- This is simple math based on the theory of Mr. Granum but a little more granular. 

Topics: development of sales, predictable sales growth, sales motivation, no excuses, sales skill, sales acceleration, salespeople

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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