ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Make the "Business-to-People" Sale

Posted by Alex Cole on Thu, May 23, 2019

Most Sales Managers would agree that completing prospecting activities and hitting sales goals are critical to success. However, what happens when we focus too much on the numbers and not enough on being a resource for prospects, we impact (or lose) the human element of our business.

casual-cellphone-cheerful-1289898In general, there are two different types of classifications in sales; Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C). B2B — meaning you supply a product or service directly to an organization — i.e. you provide a chemical coating that will be sold to an aircraft manufacturer and applied to rotors. B2C — being that you provide a product or service directly to the end user — i.e. you sell anti-aging skincare products using social media and your network to women 30+. But what if what you do falls somewhere in-between?

What if you are in the B2P (Business-to-People) business?

I believe that Anthony Cole Training Group fits within that category. Before we get too far into this topic, I do realize that B2C sales technically describes what we are about to discuss below, but for the sake of this article, I ask that you expand your realm of thinking. See, we (ACTG) primarily provide sales hiring and production training for financial institutions. We usually work with pre-existing sales teams to uncover the problem areas they face and build our training and development around addressing those problems. But at the end of the day, it is the people that we impact first, not the organization. I would imagine 99% of the organizations that are considered B2B still have to sell to a real, living, breathing person who is responsible for making a decision.

So, at the end of the day, you’re in the business to people game too.

So why does this matter? Sometimes, we get so caught up in our day-to-day activities of producing, prospecting and checking off our individual tasks, that we forget we're here to help people. We focus more on the RFP (Request for Proposal) in front of us than on the company and people behind it.

Typically, in B2C sales, the salesperson shares more of a personal relationship with the prospect as well as flexibility around conversations and decisions. In B2B sales, there is usually more restriction to the branding, marketing and positioning of products or services, as well as how we can approach people in the market. Now I’m not suggesting we should throw the handbook out the window, but I am suggesting that those of us in the B2B space can probably benefit from a healthy dose of “authenticity” and “the human element”.

Don't you think?

At the end of the day, you must remember that you are impacting people, regardless of the type of work that you do. The aircraft manufacturer that is buying your chemical coating still has a team of people they are responsible for, so they must confirm that the chemicals are safe and regulated—so talk with them about that. Not only why your coating lasts so much longer than your competitors’ brand!

When we stop focusing (solely) on the next sale, the next dial, or the next commission check; and instead focus on being a go-giver for our clients and prospects, more sales will occur. Be in the Business-to-People, or B2P, business.

It will be your most rewarding sale.

 

Topics: go givers sell more, how to improve sales, sales advice, steward, new age selling, salespeople

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."

dollar-499481_1280

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

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

shaking-hands-2499612_1920

“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

Asking “Is It Over?” Can Lead to Greater Sales Success

Posted by Alex Cole on Wed, Feb 06, 2019

Part of being a highly successful and effective salesperson is having the ability to walk away from an opportunity. After numerous attempts to contact a prospect and close a deal, there will be a time when you as a professional must determine when and how to call it quits.

105917320_m

As the quote says, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

There is always something to be learned when it comes to a sale we have lost. One of the most distinguishing traits of successful salespeople is that they always learn from the mistakes they make in selling. And, generally speaking, they will not make the same mistake twice.

One of the mistakes that I observe salespeople making is they fail to ask what I have termed, “The Animal House” questions. Do you remember the 1978 movie, Animal House? Of course, you do- it’s a cinematic classic. Think of the scene near the end of the movie when the Delta fraternity members are being kicked out of school when Bluto says, “Great… 7 years of college down the drain. Over?!? Did you say it’s over?!?!  Nothing is over until we decide it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

Now, while Bluto was just a little off in his recall of history, he DOES give us an excellent reminder that there are times when we need to simply ask our prospect, “Hey, is it over? Are we done here?”

Perhaps they’ve promised you some information and you still don’t have it. Perhaps they’ve promised to set up a meeting but it still hasn’t been set. Or maybe they’ve promised to make a decision and now we’re two weeks past that deadline and they’ve gone radio silent. Do yourself a favor- sell like Bluto. Muster up the courage to ask the Animal House questions, “Is it over? Are we done here?”

Find out, and if you are done, maintain control of your sales process and move on. Don’t let the rejection get in your way of pressing forward, learning from your mistakes and hunting for real qualified prospects.

Topics: sales skill, qualified leads, how to prospect, sales advice, sales acceleration, think it overs, salespeople, overcoming rejection

Bringing Clarity to Ambiguous Conversations

Posted by Jack Kasel on Wed, Jan 23, 2019

adult-american-analyzing-1059111 (1)

In selling, properly qualifying a prospective buyer is crucial in order to move an opportunity through the pipeline and ultimately close in your favor. Highly effective salespeople do this through the art of asking great sales questions and not fearing the outcome if they challenge a prospect’s statement, or question, in order to gain clarity.  

In this blog, we cover the 3 things to remember about all prospects and how to fully understand and qualify their motivation to make a change.

 

Seek to understand, rather than being understood is a very loose paraphrase of what Steven Covey said in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. I think that statement is especially true for sales professionals. When we coach our client’s we try to get them to understand and remember these three tips when in conversation with prospects and client’s:

  1. The statement they make isn’t the actual statement.
  2. The question they ask isn’t the true question.
  3. The problem they have isn’t the actual problem.

Your job is to fully understand, is this a symptom or a problem? Problems get solved, symptoms are tolerated. I was working with a prospect and he kept saying he needed to fix his cash flow problem. The more we talked, it became clear that wasn’t the real problem, the real problem was he missed out on an opportunity to purchase one of his competitors. The symptom was cash flow, the problem was missing opportunities to acquire market share. We focused on fixing his true problem. There are many ways a sale can be killed. Too many times sales are killed by Assume-icide. We assume we know what they want.  However, we never truly understand the real problem or challenge.

One of the ways, and really the only way, to bring clarity to the conversation is by asking or saying the following when we hear prospects make statements or ask questions

  • Tell me more about that . . .
  • What happens if that problem isn’t fixed?
  • When you say (insert statement here), I’m not sure I know what you mean.
  • Many people ask me that question for a variety of reasons; I would like to hear yours.

We also need to listen to emotionally charged words such as . . .

  • Need to fix. .
  • I’m going to. .
  • We simply can’t tolerate. .
  • Others include. . Worried, upset, mad, frustrated

These are emotionally driven words and emotion drives sales.  Listen for them!  Facts and figures justify sales, but emotion drives it.  If we don’t fully understand the reason for the statement, the purpose of the question, or dig deeper to find the real problem, we will waste time and miss opportunities. 

Topics: qualifying prospects, Qualifying skills, sales management, consultative selling, sales advice, salespeople

    Follow #ACTG

     

    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.

     

    Subscribe Here

    Most Read

    Recent Blogs