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How To Overcome The Prospect Who Needs To ‘Cut Costs’

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

Cutting costWhen negotiating with a client recently, I noticed she was often coming back to the issue of pricing for our services, trying to get me to reduce the fees for some specific services we were offering.

Now, I realise that, although MTD are tried and trusted with many clients, new prospects haven’t had the opportunity to see how we can benefit their business, so I can understand that they can’t see the value in some of the specific offerings that we have.

I asked her why she felt we needed to reduce the price. (This is always a good tactic, as it helps you build up the rationale behind the request).

She told me that she needed to ‘cut costs’ and that this was one of the items that needed to be cut in price so that she could justify the investment.

Notice she didn’t say that the company didn’t need or want the service…she wanted it, but at a price that she thought right for them.

I said that the fact she was paying anything for the services proved that actually she wasn’t looking to cut costs; she would still have to pay for the services so that wouldn’t help her to cut costs.

What she actually wanted was for us to help her make a profit from the services. Actually, no company wants to ‘cut costs’. It’s just a simple way of saying you want to make a profit, and you think the easiest way is to cut back.

So I identified her positioning statement of ‘reduce your price’ as exactly that…a position.

I wanted to really identify her actual needs, so I could pinpoint her interests.

I asked her what benefit she would see in MTD reducing the price. She replied that she needs to see her departmental profits increase for the next 12 months, and she sees this as one area that will help.

Having seen the real reasons, I said “So you really want to improve profits and you see one way of doing this is by us cutting our fees, is that correct? Well, if we were able to show you how we could help you maintain and increase profits using these services, enabling you to utilise these facilities in a way that would immediately have an impact on business, would you say the fees we are charging are reasonable?”

After a little contemplation, she had to say ‘yes’ to this, as it was providing the solution she was looking for. As we offer a guarantee on our services, I was able to persuade her to accept our fees, with no discount, on the proviso that it would help her achieve her profit goals.

So, I worked with her to see how the return on investment would be greater than the initial outlay, and she was able to see the rationale and agreed to go with us.

This is the value of moving away from ‘positions’ in negotiating and moving towards ‘interests’. People always have hidden interests that are served beneath the surface of their positions they are taking. Uncover those needs and interests and you have a greater chance of succeeding when you are negotiating, rather than just relying on working on their positions.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Negotiation Skills | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The 8 Essential Skills You Need To Become A Perfect Listener

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

Woman listening with ridiculously big earWe have spoken many times about the key skills required to become an expert salesperson, and we always keep coming back to the specific skill of being able to listen effectively.

Listening is a skill in that it can be learned, developed and improved. Here are some ideas that will help you keep developing this essential addition to your armoury:

- Practice listening skills: Yes, the more you practice, the better you will become. It’s not something you will ever become perfect at – your brain is set up to continually ‘self-talk’ so when you are talking to yourself, you obstruct the ability to listen effectively. Spend time listening in to conversations and practice closely listening to the meaning behind what people are saying, rather than getting ready to jump in with what you want to say.

- Keep an open, curious mind: This is a great skill to develop. It stops you being judgemental and allows you to open up the conversation because you’re more interested in what the other person is thinking and feeling rather than what you are wanting to say and do

- Link what you listen to with what you already know: This helps you build your knowledge and determine connections between what was said and what you know already. That will help you see how these connections could be built up further and also turn you into an interesting conversationalist as you share ideas that are linked up.

- Resist external distractions: Noises, other conversations and such-like are often key distractions that might interfere with your ability to pay attention to what someone is saying. You need to focus and concentrate so these extraneous distractions are placed into the background rather than brought to your conscious attention. If distractions become too much, see if you can move locations or pick up the conversation at another time.

- Ask questions to clarify understanding: People will delete and generalise information because they are reciting from their own perspective and from their own opinionated ideas. Recognise that they may not see things like you do. It doesn’t mean they are wrong; it just means they see things differently. Listen to understand before being making yourself understood.

- Summarise often: It’s good to stop off now and again in a conversation to summarise your understanding of what has been said so far. It stops you from misunderstandings and allows you to backtrack if necessary and ensure you have a complete understanding of what has been said by the client so far.

- Analyse non-verbal signals: Remember that people say more with their subconscious body language than they do with their conscious words. Watch out for mannerisms, eye-contact, specific gestures and other signals that may not be in sync with their overall message. Ask questions that determine the real meaning behind what they may be saying

- They listen to content and emotion: many people will hear the content but miss the emotions that drive the content. In conversations, the emotions may actually mean more than what is being said, so listen out to the signals that may mean the person has hidden agendas or has more concerns than they are letting on.

As you can see, listening is a skill that you will never perfect, and if you keep practicing you may find you get to know more than you had perceived before.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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How To Take Effective Notes During A Client Meeting

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bMany salespeople ask us about the best way to broach the subject of taking notes in a client meeting. Some actually state they’re worried about asking or simply taking out their notebooks because it may put the client off or slow down the meeting.

Also, some have asked whether it’s OK to use a tablet rather than a notebook, or whether it may look a bit pretentious to use such technology.

Actually, I’ve never met a customer who has objected to me making notes during a meeting. It’s a natural thing to do, but still some may not know how to do it effectively. Here’s my take on making it look professional:

A Chinese proverb states, “The faintest ink is better than the greatest memory”. Just like an Ed Milliband speech, you don’t want to miss out something important in your records. So it is always good to have some form of record of what the meeting was about

The way to approach it is, at the start of a meeting take out your tablet or notebook as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.

As you open it up, establish eye contact and say “You’re ok with me taking notes, aren’t you?” Say it as if it’s a foregone conclusion the obvious answer will be “Yes, of course!”, which it almost definitely will be. (I’ve yet to come across a prospect who has said, “Actually, I would like you to memorise my every word rather than write them down!”)

The benefit of taking notes is that you can control the pace of the conversation. If the prospect sees you writing, they are more likely to slow down rather than race ahead. Also, they may take more time to consider what they are saying, if they know that each word may be dissected and transcribed.

Write down only the key points. You’re a consultant, not interviewing a star for a front-page tabloid story. The main points are those things that are most important for you to remember and will help you assimilate the solution for this specific client.

Writing notes will help you resist the temptation to interrupt, as you will be concentrating on what they are talking about rather than thinking through what you wish to say in response. It actually changes the whole complexion of the conversation and turns you into the listener rather than the salesperson. This will aid you in building rapport, rather than losing it, as many people think when they take notes.

When you get to a specific point, you can then take control by saying something like, “So, Mr Client, what I see from our discussions so far is….” and you can then cover the main points so the client can see you’ve really appreciated the situation from their viewpoint.

After the meeting, use your notes to be absolutely clear on the needs of this specific client from this meeting. If necessary, link them up with notes from other meetings you may have had from them, so you can see the connections and identify the way forward from now on.

As you can see, there isn’t really any need to feel nervous about taking notes. They are simply another way to show the prospect how important you see the discussions. Done correctly, it will add to your professionalism and help them see the benefits of dealing with you, the real consultant.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Sales Meetings | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Why The Lowest Cost Can Sometimes Be The Riskiest Option

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

economía y finanzasWe all know that when you buy a cheap solution, you are also losing something that paying extra would bring for you. But many people buy cheap because they don’t see the worth of paying extra.

A friend of mine refuses to buy high-ticket brands because, as he puts it, ‘paying for the name doesn’t make people feel any different about me when I wear it’

So, what he’s referring to is that he doesn’t see the worth of paying £30 or £40 for a branded tee-shirt when we can get a perfectly good, cheaper one without the name on.

‘Worth’ is in the eyes of the buyer, and if that worth isn’t built, the result will be one of ‘it’s not worth it to me’. I suppose that explains the success of L’oréal’s catchphrase ‘Because you’re worth it!’ on their adverts…they’re trying to make you feel that you, personally, are worth paying more for yourself, and hence increasing your own worth.

John Rankin’s quote comes to mind. Written over 150 years ago, it still sounds as if it could have been written yesterday:

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Sound advice. Today, we say that if you buy cheap, you also buy risk. The risk of the item not doing what you intended it to do; the risk of it failing more quickly; the risk of it not providing the results you intended.

Your customers, when they say they want the cheapest, often mean they want to see the best value in the product or service. Your questions have to revolve around what they see as the best solution for their situation. If that means the initial investment or the overall costs being higher than what they originally intended to pay, it should be clear to them what risks they are overcoming if they go with your solution.

A minimising of the risks may well be worth more than the extra costs. That should help them see they are getting good value.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Sales Tips | Tagged , | Leave a comment

7 Ways To Destroy The Relationship With Your Client

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Two young businessman boxing againts dark backgroundCustomers often judge us by the quality of the back-up service we offer. If everything goes well before we actually start working with them, they may see fit to buy our products and services.

The proof of the pudding will be after the deal is done. If the back-up isn’t there, we may as well say goodbye immediately to this customer being loyal to us.

Naturally, good quality service is the requisite for customer satisfaction. It got me thinking, though, about all the poor service we’ve experienced, and I have devised an acronym on the word ‘service’ to remind us of what we shouldn’t be doing. All these will destroy customer relationships:

Sloth: The dictionary definition is “habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness”.  A good work ethic is essential to excellence in sales. If you don’t want to work, feel that it’s just too much effort, or that good enough is good enough, then maybe sales isn’t the right career for you. Being lazy on things like quality of communications will simply tell your customer that you don’t care and you don’t deserve their attention.

Excuses: Passing the blame onto things that you feel are the cause of problems and lack of opportunities is the epitome of a poor sales attitude. A blamer will never think that anything is their fault and that the whole world is conspiring against him or her. They will blame the economy, customers’ lack of decision-making, the quality or price of the products they are selling – in fact, anything that means the blame doesn’t fall squarely on their shoulders.

Lack of Responsibility: Following on from ‘Excuses’ comes the age-old failure to accept responsibility for things that go wrong. It may not exactly be your fault that the traffic caused you to be late for the appointment, or that the competition have a better/cheaper/more cost-effective offering than you, but you still have the ability to respond (response-ability) to anything in a way that drives towards solutions rather than concentrating on the problem.

Vicious Circle:Sales people who wallow in their own pit of despair caused by the above are also quick to find themselves in the vicious circle that perpetuates their poor and negative attitude. One bad result leads to another, poor attitudes build further obstacles, one negative customer turns into the whole world being against you, and before you know it, the circle comes around again and the negativity continues.

Incredulity:The inability to grasp the real situation for what it is and deal with it so you can see the causes of the problems and deal with them. We often see salespeople who lack responsibility and make excuses fall into the vicious circle of not believing it’s their fault for anything that goes wrong. Being incredulous blinds you to possibilities and doesn’t allow you to see past the current obstacles.

Cocky Attitude:Seen in many networking events where the salesperson feels they must justify their claims of being number one in the industry. We’ve all met them and have a negative feeling towards them. Customers then say, Yes, your product may be better than the competition, but show us the results it will get us, rather than just overloading us with details of how good it is. Being cocky will just make people think you’re a fool and won’t believe your sometimes-outlandish claims.

Egotistical:No-one likes a big-head, simply because great salespeople don’t need to tell anyone how good they are; they simply deliver results that speak for themselves. When a person’s ego gets above their station, we tend to think badly of them because it often hides a feeling of insecurity that needs to be covered up. A great salesperson will not try to prove he or she is great by being the loudest or most brash, so that people will hear them. The ego needs to be kept in check or others will see you for what you are…someone to be avoided!

So, that’s my take on the antithesis of a great ‘service’ provider. I’d love to hear if you have some other words that would fit the acronym.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Customer/Client Retention | Tagged , | Leave a comment