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5 Proven Tips That Can Increase Virtual Sales

Posted by Gaia Hawkes on Tue, Jun 21, 2022

Many people prefer purchasing things online nowadays. In fact, three-quarters of surveyed buyers prefer virtual sales over traditional sales.

If virtual selling is already part of your business strategy, you might want to ramp your efforts up. Here are 5 proven tips to help you increase virtual sales.

virtual sales

Image: https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1612831455359-970e23a1e4e9 Credit: Unsplash

Many people prefer purchasing things online nowadays. In fact, three-quarters of surveyed buyers prefer virtual sales over traditional sales. For buyers, this means that they can have more frequent communication with the seller because they need not meet in person. It’s also cost-effective and convenient, removing the need to leave their house or travel to purchase products or services. Lastly, purchasing online allows buyers to interact with more sellers. Through a simple call, message, or email, they can even converse with multiple sellers at once to find the best product for them.

If virtual selling is already part of your business strategy, you might want to ramp your efforts up. Here are some proven tips to help you increase virtual sales:

Acquire virtual sales training
While the time, effort, and resources needed to train people can make it a little tedious, virtual sales training is critical in increasing sales. A thought leader in relational and collaborative sciences, Keith Ferrazzi, notes how today's new virtual dynamic is an opportunity to recalibrate teams to be more collaborative and effective. With the pandemic increasing the number of prospects willing to purchase things online, virtual sales training equips employees with the right skills, such as persuasion and proper online presentation, to carry out their job more efficiently.

Repeat important points
According to neuroscientist Carmen Simon, customers will remember very little about your conversation, especially in this digital, information-filled era. They can only retain information for a few seconds at a time before it is replaced or distracted with new thoughts. This is why it's important that you repeat important points once every minute — especially if your sale is happening via a call. If you're selling products via email, repeat words that will convince them to purchase your product, such as the benefits it can give them. More often than not, your customer will remember the points you’ve made, positively impacting their purchase decision.

Practice listening
While this seems trivial, listening to what a potential customer has to say mid-sale can go a long way in convincing a lead to feel their value to your company. In fact, sales strategist Michelle Seger believes listening to your clients' thoughts and opinions is crucial, despite the consequence of a delayed agreement. This allows salespeople to know how to provide better service, explore how leads want to buy from the company, and make better deals moving forward. Knowing when to switch from selling to listening is key in securing sales.

Keep your social media platforms active
Social media is a convenient way for sales teams to potentially "seal" deals with prospects before even meeting them. After all, consumers and potential clients will visit your social media profiles before making purchasing decisions. It’s the most accessible way for them to get to know about your company and product, so these platforms must be active. As such, consistently publish relevant social media content regarding your products and services so potential clients stay informed.

Encourage product reviews
Finally, don't forget to tell your customers to leave a review if they like the product they've purchased. Product reviews can influence a potential customer’s buying decision more compared to star ratings alone. Apparently, it’s the text that makes a difference; without it, potential customers are not swayed. Thus, encourage buyers to leave a product review with their thoughts and experience. If you're selling a service, receiving a testimonial from them via email or virtual call (and posting it on your website) works just as well.

Virtual sales are becoming the preferred method of the majority of buyers. Hopefully, these tips help you satisfy leads and increase your sales.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: increase sales, virtual selling, virtual sales process

Terminating “Think it Over”

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jun 09, 2022

In the profession of selling there is a response or an answer we are often confronted with that causes great distress, delays in decision-making, or loss of opportunities. That response is: “I need to think it over”.

There are three major areas that "think it over" typically appear- the initial phone call, the first appointment, and the presentation. 

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In the profession of selling there is a response or an answer we are often confronted with that causes great distress, delays in decision-making, or loss of opportunities. The response is: “I need to think it over”, or what we at Anthony Cole Training refer to as “TIOs”. Today I am going to do my best to help you minimize and or eliminate TIOs in your professional selling career.

Keep in mind that TIOs don’t just show up after you’ve presented a product or business solution. TIOs can and do occur when you first call someone in an attempt to convince them to meet with you. TIOs also show up after you’ve met the first time, delivered a bit of a pitch, and asked the prospect what they think. They may respond with, “let me think about it and I’ll get back to you”. Or, “let me run this past my team and I’ll get back to you”.

So, let’s take the three major areas: The phone call, the first appointment, and the presentation, and help you TERMINATE TIOs!

The phone call: You’ve made contact with your intended target, had a discussion about your offerings, benefits, or products, and the prospect has expressed some interest. But when you ask for the appointment or get invited to meet, they tell you they want to think it over or they ask you to give them a call next week. Here are your options:

  • Ask the prospect if you can make the decision easy for them, they will say yes and then say, “Why don’t you just tell me no”.
  • Tell the prospect that you hear that a lot and what most people are trying to do is just get you off of the phone without hurting your feelings and ask if that is what is happening here.
  • Suggest to the prospect that you’ve had others make this request, and when you follow up as requested, the prospect never takes your call or answers your email. Ask the question, “how do we keep that from happening here?”

The appointment: The best way to avoid TIO at the end of your first appointment is to do the following:

  • When you attempt to close for the appointment, your close should sound something like this: “Can I make a suggestion? Why don’t you invite me out to see you and we will ask each other a lot of questions. I will find out more about your current situation/challenges and ask you for more detail about some of the things we discussed today. You will be able to ask me lots of questions about what we do, how we do it, and some possible solutions. When we are finished talking, we will both know if it makes sense to go any further. If we should take the next step we will, if it doesn’t make sense, you can just tell me no and we won’t worry about meeting again. What objections do you have to that process?”
  • When you start the meeting, review what you discussed on the phone and the agreement to decide at the end of the meeting if you will move forward or not.

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At time of presentation: Let me make this perfectly clear. It is unreasonable for me to think that you will completely terminate think it overs at this stage. The idea of asking to eliminate think-it-overs is really a strategy to help you more clearly understand the decision-making process of the prospect and possibly terminate think-it-overs. At the very least, you will get more clarity on a timeframe for a decision. Here are the steps:

  • In the meeting prior to the presentation review everything you’ve covered with regards to:
    • Compelling reasons to act, make a change, purchase
    • The monetized value of not taking action, changing, or making the purchase
    • The capacity to invest time, money, and/or resources to fund the purchase, gather, and deliver additional information to proceed to the proposal, and willingness to invest the time required
    • The ability and willingness to undo any current relationships
    • The timeframe for action
    • The decision-making process within the organization
  • Once you’ve completed the review, you share with your prospect what you are prepared to do:
    • Provide a solution to eliminate their problem or help them leverage the opportunity they have
    • You will provide a solution within their budget
    • You will be able to answer ALL of their questions at time of presentation
    • IF you can’t solve the problem within their parameters, you will not need to meet again
  • Share with them how you will finish the meeting:
    • When I finish, I will ask you three questions;
      • Do you believe we understand what you are trying to accomplish?
      • Given how we’ve presented our solution and our company, do you feel we can help?
      • Do you want our help?
    • When I ask the third question you can tell me yes or no, I’d rather hear yes but no is okay. What objections do you have to that process?

So again, you will not completely eliminate all TIOs but think about the very last question. What objections do you have? That question will help you uncover anything you missed especially about money, decision-making, and the ability to leave their current relationship!

Last bit of advice: These suggested solutions will help you get started. I will warn you though that to execute this kind of out of the comfort zone response you will need to have: 

So why am I in the hazmat suit you might be asking. Simple answer: I’m trying to terminate the squirrels in my attic!

Topics: increase sales, think it overs

Increase Sales by Earning First Call Status

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Nov 24, 2021

Every salesperson wants to win now and increase sales. But what are the chances that you will actually reach your prospect when they have a problem they want to fix?

In this blog, we will discuss how to best position yourself with your prospect so you are top of mind, even when it means sitting at 2nd place.

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As a sales training and coaching company, Anthony Cole Training Group is always hired…no matter the industry…for the same reason which is to increase sales. Every salesperson wants to win. Every salesperson wants to win now and increase sales. No doubt the instant gratification world that we live in has contributed to this reality. Amazon has made it abundantly clear that there is really no need to wait for anything.

But for salespeople, patience is more than just a virtue. It is a requirement. Think about all the sales activities that a salesperson must execute in their sales process. They make outreaches in order to schedule appointments. They go on appointments to find opportunities. They do the work necessary to make those opportunities lead to proposals. They position their value to win their fair share of deals from those proposals.

I don’t know about you, but to me, there are a lot of stars (and a lot of sales activities) that must line up just right in order to win a deal. What are the chances that you will reach out at just the right time, i.e., when the prospect has a problem that they are thinking about fixing?

For that reason, while everybody wants to be #1 it is my belief that is ok to be #2…while you continue to build your relationship with your prospect. I have previously blogged about pull-through rate – which is defined as the percentage of first-time new business appointments that wind up becoming your client. For most of our clients that number runs around 15%. That means it is much more likely than not that you are not going to find the stars aligned on that first appointment. Maybe the prospect does not have a problem. Maybe they do have a problem, but the timing isn’t right.

When you create your pre-call plan, don’t forget to plan what you are going to do if the stars don’t align. How will you leave the appointment with the door open to future relationship-building activities? My suggestion is to ask your prospect to think about who they would call in the future if they did need to make a change. Who has earned first call status? Tell your prospect that you would like the chance to work your way onto that list.

There is nothing wrong with being #2. Think about what sales activities you can be doing until you get to #1.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: sales activity, increase sales

The Data Driven Sales Executive

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jul 15, 2021

Data Driven Sales Approach

In our business, one of the greatest sales challenges that most companies face is how to properly implement a data-driven sales approach. Some companies chase a bunch of data without any regard for the story that the data tells. Others struggle when they launch sales coaching without any data at all.

All of that leads us to what we call the “pull-through rate.”

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One of my most treasured memories of my younger days was buying and trading baseball cards. Perhaps I am being a bit too nostalgic, but those days were good days, and growing up in Cincinnati during the 1970’s I was a huge fan of the Cincinnati Reds and the Big Red Machine.

I particularly remember studying the back of each baseball card because it told the story of each player. And I can still recall the quote “everybody plays to the back of their baseball card” which is a reminder that year over year statistics can be used to forecast future performance.

In our business, one of the greatest sales challenges that most companies face is how to properly implement a data-driven sales approach. Some companies just chase a bunch of data without any regard for the story that the data tells. Other companies struggle when they launch sales coaching without any data at all which means they are simply guessing on both whether their people can improve and what it will take to cause that improvement.

Pull-Through Rate

All of that leads us to what we call the “pull-through rate.” Let’s start with not getting this confused with your hit ratio or close ratio. Both a hit ratio or a close-ratio are computed in the same way by dividing the number of wins by the number of presentations or pitches. That means a company that delivers 100 presentations and wins 30 new clients has a hit ratio of 30%.

What is Pull-Through Rate?

A pull-through rate is a different deal altogether. It is calculated by comparing the relationship between first-time or initial sales calls and the number of wins. For example, a salesperson who has 200 first-time sales appointments and who winds up with 30 new clients has a pull-through rate of 15%. For years Anthony Cole Training Group has taught that most prospects are not qualified to do business with you and the numbers across the country support that conclusion. In fact, our own pull-through analysis supports that conclusion as our pull-through rate runs around 20%. Nearly 80% of all the firms we have initial conversations with never become a client of our firm.

Pull-Through Rate Example

Finally, one of the most interesting parts of the pull-through calculation is that it allows your sales team to “dollarize” each sales call. For example, if your average sale is $50,000…and your pull-through rate is 15% then every time your team goes on that first initial call they are in theory making $7,500 every single time they run a sales call.

Conclusion

I still have my baseball cards (at least the ones my mom did not throw away). And the back of each card still has the statistics that tell a story. What does the back of your salesperson’s card look like? Do you like the story it is telling you?

Topics: unique selling approach, Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales challenges

What We Know: A Consultative Sales Process

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jul 08, 2021

On average, salespeople possess only 15% of the attributes required to sell consultatively. 

In this blog, we discuss the characteristics of a consultative salesperson and the impact having and following a strict sales process can have on increasing sales.

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Consultative Sales Process

I have always enjoyed the Farmers Insurance commercials. You know the ones, right? They always end with the tagline “we know a thing or two because we have seen a thing or two.” And guess what? At Anthony Cole Training Group, we have indeed learned a few things about a consultative selling approach over the last 28 years.

To be more specific, what we have seen are dramatic increases in sales productivity when companies are willing to give full attention to two things:

  1. Building, executing and inspecting a staged sales approach
  2. Teaching a consultative sales process

A sales process is important because a) most firms don’t have one and b) it is really hard to hold salespeople accountable in the absence of a stage-based and milestone-centric sales approach. If each salesperson is simply doing his or her own thing it becomes nearly impossible for sales management to coach salespeople. And of course, that interferes with a sales leader’s ability to answer two main questions:

Why is your sales team failing?

What are you going to do about it?

Our Consulting Sales Process

So here is what we know: companies that don’t have a well-defined sales process who decide to implement one can expect a 15% increase in sales production. Even if they disagree with all of our other observations, if they will agree with our methodology around the sales process, they will see on average a 15% increase in the sales results of their team. That is how powerful a sales process can be. But we also know this: according to Objective Management Group, the average score from looking at data on over 2,000,000 salespeople tells us only about 45% of all salespeople follow a sales process.

And here is what else we know about those nearly 2,000,000 salespeople: the same data from Objective Management Group shows that on average salespeople possess only 15% of the attributes required to sell consultatively…which we define as being great at asking lots of questions…that are robust questions…challenging questions…and being great listeners. These are the kinds of salespeople who become trusted advisors to their clients and even more importantly, to their prospects. Their prospects wind up paying more attention to them than they do to their current provider. Our consultative sales training is built around coaching the specific traits necessary to become a trusted advisor.

Here is another thing we know. You can easily and inexpensively find out how your sales team measures upon not only the sales process and the consultative sales process but on 18 other key sales skills as well. If you would like more information, we would love to hear from you.

Do you need to find out if your salespeople have a consultative
sales process?

Topics: increase sales, effective sales process, consultative selling

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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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