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Mark Trinkle

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Houston, We Have a Problem (How to Avoid Selling on Price)

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Apr 14, 2022

In all moments of selling, there are many things that can go wrong. And when something goes wrong, it is in fact time to say “Houston, we have a problem.”  But who is the “we” that caused the problem?

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How to Avoid Selling on Price

I have always loved President Theodore Roosevelt’s quote on problems: “If you could kick the person in the pants who is most responsible for most of your trouble you would not sit for a month.”  Just like in tennis or golf, many of our problems are self-induced.  They are “unforced errors.”

Our sales coaches, we are always dealing with sales challenges that span the entirety of the typical sales process.  From the opening moments of finding a lead to uncovering an opportunity to presenting and getting a decision, there are many things that can go wrong.  And when something goes wrong, it is in fact time to say “Houston, we have a problem.”  But who is the “we” that caused the problem?

Speaking of Houston, I was there this week delivering a keynote address at the 2022 Mid America Lenders Conference.  My training was on selling in a rate-sensitive environment which is a hot topic given that 2022 will be a year with multiple rate increases.  In my keynote, I asked the attendees if they were working on the right end or the wrong end of the problem.  When a prospect asks you at the end of the sales process for a concession (rate or terms), that tends to be a real trouble spot for salespeople.

Every company we work with believes in the power of having a value-based selling approach.  None of them want to be the low-cost provider in their respective industry.  And while we are called upon to help with last-minute or late-cycle negotiations, that is working on the wrong end of the problem.  The right end of the problem is at the beginning of the sales process where it is essential to introduce value into the equation.  After all, the primary reason why salespeople struggle to defend value at the end of the sales process is that they fail to introduce that value at the beginning of the sales process.  

From the sales assessment tool that we use by Objective Management Group, here are the skills of a value-based seller:

  • Focused on value over price
  • Comfortable discussing money
  • High threshold for money
  • Willing to walk if the prospect does not see value
  • Always positions value
  • Sales process supports value
  • Learns why prospects will buy
  • Doesn’t need approval
  • Asks enough & great questions
  • Avoids making assumptions
  • Quickly develops rapport
  • Not compelled to quote

Start helping yourself by positioning your value early.  Make it impossible for your prospect to miss it.  Find out if your prospect values it and protect your bottom line.

Free Evaluation of the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: sales challenges, value-based selling

Value-Based Selling in Challenging Markets

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Mar 24, 2022

Do your lenders provide your prospects and clients with the consultative financial and business advice that establishes value and makes you rate-resistant?

One of the areas where we are spending a significant amount of training time in 2022 is on sales negotiation strategies, value-based selling, as well as sales negotiation techniques.

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As a 29-year-old sales training company dedicated to serving the needs of financial institutions, we have learned much about the challenges that confront those institutions on an almost daily basis. From concerns around regulations to concerns around declining net interest margins to concerns around intense competition, it is fair to say that times have been quite challenging. And now in 2022, we are likely to see several rounds of rate increases that will provide another challenge to profitable loan growth.

One of the areas where we are spending a significant amount of training time in 2022 is on sales negotiation strategies as well as sales negotiation techniques. And based upon my numerous conversations with CEOs and Presidents, the ability to sell value has become quite a conundrum. The leader gathers his or her lenders together for a meeting and says the following with passion: “We are better than our competition so stop cutting rates to get deals done.”

The reaction to this is almost always the same. The lenders smile and nod their heads in tacit agreement. Then after the CEO walks out of the room, the lenders have the meeting after the meeting where they commiserate and ask each other how long their CEO is going to spend on Fantasy Island. After all, it is brutal out there in the field. And the thinking goes if they don’t match or beat rates then it will be all but impossible to win deals.

All of that leads me to want to talk about working the “right end of the problem.” The knee-jerk reaction is to focus on negotiation training and that is not a bad thing. But the right end of the problem means recognizing where the problem is really starting and that is during the very first sales call or conversation. What’s the problem? Simple – the lender is not providing any value as they speed through the process with the prize being able to send the prospect a term sheet. And since the prospect does not see or experience any value…because the prospect is not taken through a differentiated experience…and because rates are easy to understand and compare, the prospect simply decides to use rate as their yardstick in comparing the difference between the available options.

The key is to add value early in the sales process by tailoring your message for resonance. Differentiate yourself from your competition by taking a consultative sales approach. Get the prospect to wonder why other banks have never asked them the questions you are asking them.

After all, the main reason why lenders don’t do a very good job of defending value is quite simple. It is hard to defend something that was never provided in the first place. Time to start working on the right end of the problem – how your bank and your lenders can differentiate and provide your prospects and client with the consultative financial and business advice that makes you “rate-resistant.”

Meet with one of our Banking Sales Training Experts

Topics: value-based selling, sales negotiation techniques, sales negotiation strategies, consultative sales approach

The Four Cs of Great Salespeople: Part 4

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Mar 03, 2022

We have identified the four Cs of great salespeople and how mastering these traits will lead to better relationship selling and advanced selling skills.

This week we are focusing on the critical trait of Charisma and how being able to attract, charm, and influence those you engage with will help you be more successful. 

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Three weeks ago, we kicked off a blog series focusing on the four Cs of great salespeople. So far, we have covered curiosity, confidence, and courage. Last week we focused on courage and the two primary challenges salespeople face that require them to be boldly courageous. One of those challenges is when a salesperson must provide pushback or challenge a statement that a prospect has made. Secondly, walking away from a piece of business when it does not qualify or fit.

This week we are turning our attention to the trait of charisma. Great salespeople are usually quite charismatic. The questions worth asking are twofold: 

  1. What is charisma?
  2. Where do you go to get charisma if you don’t have it?

Let’s start by defining charisma. It is the quality of being able to attract, charm, and influence those around you. It is generally very easy to identify when someone is charismatic. The challenge is being able to pinpoint the skills or qualities that charismatics have that others do not.

Charismatic people are very interesting to be around. I love the coaching I once received that reminded me that to be interesting you must first be interested. As in being interested in the person you are meeting with (at least more interested in them than you are in telling them about you). How much time are you currently devoting in your pre-call plan to identify the questions you intend to ask your prospect that will convey that you are genuinely interested in them and their problems?

In terms of question #2 above, I don’t know of a place you can go to obtain more charisma. Like your IQ, which is typically fully set around the age of 20, charisma is similar. Some people are simply more charismatic than others. But don’t let that deter you. You can still improve your ability to attract, charm, and influence the people around you. All you need to do is to be interested. That may lead your prospect to find you to be interesting (if not even charming).

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: relationship selling, advanced selling skills

The Four C’s of Great Salespeople: Part 3

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Feb 25, 2022

We have identified the four Cs of great salespeople and how mastering these traits will lead to better relationship selling and advanced selling skills.

This week we are focusing on the critical trait of Courage. There are two primary challenges for salespeople that require the most courage.

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Over the last two weeks, we have been building a blog series on the four Cs of great salespeople. So far, we have covered curiosity and confidence. Last week we focused on confidence and the three areas where that confidence is most evident during the sales process. Great salespeople are confident in; their company's value proposition, that they do not need to be liked to win business, and most importantly, their approach and sales process.

This week we will be focusing on the critical trait of courage. Great salespeople are always courageous. The question worth asking is, where does that courage come from? Maybe the other question worth asking is, how did they get that courage?

Mark Twain once said, “courage is resistance to fear…it is mastery of fear…it is not the absence of fear.” Great salespeople will always have moments in their sales process where they are challenged. Where they will need to have what Susan Scott calls a “fierce conversation.” For more on that topic, I encourage you to read Susan’s wonderful book titled Fierce Conversations.

It is my judgment that there are two primary challenges for salespeople that require the most courage:

  1. Providing pushback. The prospect has said something that is just flat-out wrong. They want to do something that is just not right. As a salesperson, you have two options: you can simply remain quiet and let it go, or you can push back and challenge the prospect. Remember – it is never ok to confront or challenge people. But is ok (and quite frankly essential) that you challenge the statements that people make. And this starts with asking permission. One example would be; “Hey Mary, you just said something that I have a divergent opinion on…would it be ok if I offered a different perspective?”
  2. Walking away. Salespeople hate what I call the “Crowded House” moment in a tribute to the rock band’s 1986 hit single “Don’t Dream It’s Over”. You know the words- "hey now, hey now, don’t dream it’s over." But what if it is over? Wouldn’t you want to know that so you could move on? Would you be concerned about wasting your time? Of course, you will only walk away if you have something else (other deals, other prospects) to walk away towards. If your pipeline is empty, walking away can be hard to do.

Do you want to be more courageous? Suppose I told you that you can be just that. Look for moments to push back (ask permission and be nice) and prospect like crazy, so you are operating with a full pipeline. Remember – you would like their business. But you certainly don’t need it.

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: relationship selling, advanced selling skills

The Four C’s of Great Salespeople: Part 2

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Feb 17, 2022

We have identified the four Cs of great salespeople and how mastering these traits will lead to better relationship selling and advanced selling skills.

This week we are turning our attention to trait #2; Confidence. Great salespeople are almost always confident and express that confidence in three areas.

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In last week’s blog, we began a series focused on the four Cs of great salespeople, starting with the first C- Curiosity. We discussed that the two most critical skills that a salesperson must master are being good at asking questions and being even better at listening. Both of which are advanced selling skills and keys to being a great relationship selling salesperson.

This week we are turning our attention to trait #2; Confidence. Great salespeople are almost always confident, and they tend to express that confidence in three areas:

First, they are confident in their firm’s value proposition (how their firm helps businesses or people solve problems). They are believers. By that I mean they believe their company can do everything they say they can do. They have “proof of concept” and share that with confidence. By the way, these confident salespeople rarely, if ever, think they need to have the lowest price. They position value, and they defend that value.

Secondly, they are confident in their approach. They know that they must interrogate reality, as Susan Scott says in her book “Fierce Conversations.” They must figure out whether the prospect is truly a prospect with a problem they have to solve, the money with which to solve it, and the conviction and clarity to make a decision when presented with a solution. Confident salespeople ask the tough questions, and they ask lots of those tough questions.

Thirdly, confident salespeople are confident in their belief that they do not have to be liked for the prospect to do business with them. Don’t get me wrong – they do subscribe to the philosophy that people generally enjoy business relationships with people they like. But they confidently believe that the buying decision is made because the prospect has trust and confidence that the salesperson can do what the salesperson says they can do – and that is to solve the prospect’s problem. Being liked has very little to do with any of that.

So, how confident are you? And is that confidence contagious?

Topics: relationship selling, advanced selling skills

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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.

     

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