Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Don’t forget to keep asking question when presenting

Presentation or demonstrations should not mean that the sales person believes they do all the talking. The importance of asking questions is not confined to the needs and problem identification stage.

Asking questions as part of the presentation can be critical. It provides the opportunity for you to confirm you have fully understood the prospect’s needs. In most basic terms it is the simple question – “Is this what you are looking for?’ Also questioning enables the salesperson to establish if the prospect has fully understood the proposition and not been turned-off by technical jargon or not seen how what is being presented relates to their requirements.

This approach gives the prospect the opportunity to ask anything that they are not happy about or that is not entirely clear to them. Too often salespeople think that presenting has to be one way traffic and actually miss one of the core opportunities to enter into meaningful business discussion, which in turn underpin an eventual successful sale.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Do You Believe?

I recently read a list of top sales tips, one of which was “It is not what you say, but what the customer believes”. The premise being that however good your presentation may be, if the prospect or customer does not believe in what you are saying then you have no chance. The solution therefore being to make absolutely sure you are asking the right questions, becoming fully engaged with the client so that you truly understand their needs and can align your proposition and solution accordingly.

This is of course unquestionably correct, but there is one stage before this! The first question (and you make think it is too obvious to even ask) is do you believe?

I regret that too often I am shocked to find salespeople that have relatively little belief in what they are selling – they just go through the motions and on too many occasions would not buy their own product or service. This does not mean that we have to blindly think that what we are selling is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but rather that we have a core belief that what we are doing can have a positive impact with regard to helping our clients achieve their objectives.

If you don’t believe, work out why and do something about it!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Just maybe drink is the answer!

I have recently been mentoring a lady who felt utterly devastated as the result of losing a major sale that she had been working on for the last six months.

I am not for one moment suggesting that putting in months of concerted effort by you and the team supporting you only to lose is anything less than horrendous, I have been there on more times than I would care to admit - and I am sure I will be there again. But as I get older I am learning not to take it personally.

I used to have a Sales Director who would say what ever happens at the end of a major sales campaign I am going to get drunk. What he meant was actually good advice. If we win I will get drunk to celebrate, if we lose I will drink to drown my sorrows, but either way tomorrow I will wake up with a hangover, feel rough and then move on to the next challenge. What has happened has happened, providing you have given it your very best shot, then make sure you learn from it, but after that do not take it personally. There will be more opportunities to celebrate in the future - just go out and find them.  

Friday, 12 June 2015

Tell me one simple thing I can do to be a better manager?

The above question was recently asked of me by a relatively senior sales manager in an IT services organisation. My reply seemed to shock him. In retrospect I think he must have been expecting something with regard to management style, ways to motivate or even some new insight into increasing his team's close rate.

He certainly was not expecting what I said which was "Never ever be sarcastic with people who report to you".

The dictionary definition of sarcasm is 1) harsh or bitter derision or irony 2) a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark. Now that you see that definition in black and white I hope it instantly becomes clear why sarcasm is such a bad thing to ever use with anyone that you manage.

Other than simply not being a nice thing to do, at least when used outside of business the person on the receiving end has an opportunity and even a right to reply - not when such sarcasm is coming from the boss, so it becomes a form of bullying and hugely demoralising and disorientating for team members.

Think about how you feel when someone higher up the food-chain is sarcastic to you and use this as motivation not to do it yourself - be better than them!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

In Sales keep using the "A" word.

In B2B sales we should occasionally try to distil down to the most basic level what it is we are attempting to do and by doing so then build back up from that position to make sure we don't lose sight of that primary objective.

And what is that primary objective? What are we selling? What are we asking the clients to pay us for?

The "A" word - Achieve. By buying something from us, our client is looking to 'achieve' something for their business that they would have otherwise not done. In a commodity sale it may well be down to price and delivery - we are helping them to achieve a better price than they would otherwise have done or achieve delivery of product more quickly that they would have done. In selling services we are perhaps helping them 'achieve' greater levels of efficiency than they have previously been able to manage. Selling Sales & Marketing solutions - you are helping them 'achieve' higher and/or more profitable levels of business.

You get my point? Any sale should help the client achieve what they need to do and ideally achieve more effectively than they otherwise would have been able to!

So on this basis, how well do you know and understand what your clients are trying to achieve in their business? Without knowing how can you really engage in a meaningful way and of course always remember the competition may know already.

The answer? Just ask!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Think about purging your propsect list

Sometimes we tend to simply hang on to prospects that do not deserve our attention!

They are consciously or subconsciously kidding us that there is a real chance of doing business or it is you who are consciously or subconsciously kidding yourself that there is a real chance of doing business.

Get brave with regard to putting a line through those prospects that in the cold light of day you have to admit have never really engaged with you in any meaningful sort of way, that never return your calls or reply to your emails.

Maybe even give them one last chance and tell them that you are planning not to contact them again unless they tell you otherwise. What have you got to lose - they never do anything with you anyway and at least you are going to make yourself some time to work with prospects who are giving you a chance!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Be willing to take “No” for an answer and move onto the next “Yes”

It is a sad but true fact of sales life that we cannot win every piece of business that we go after – however good you are! For most of us we look at a pipeline ratio in the region of 3-to-1. For every three opportunities we work on, we will win one. Now we can argue about that ratio and how it may be different for different markets, but with very few exceptions, I am sure we can agree that we lose more than we win?

So with that in mind, try and see rejection in a slightly more positive light. At the very least, if it is a numbers game and you win one in three, then the more times you get a “No” then proportionally the more “Yes” you will receive.  It is not the number of times that we hear “No” that causes failure, but how we react to that word. Seeing “No” as a reason to kick-on to the next “Yes” is the trick.

Also with the right attitude and by paying close attention to what happens, each rejection you deal with will be a learning experience. With every rejection, you'll want to take a time to analyse the situation in order to benefit from it. Rather than letting it ruin your attitude for the next time, you should find yourself saying, "What have I learnt and how can I apply what I now know that I didn't before?"