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Be A First Rate Version Of Yourself, Not A Second Rate Version Of Someone Else

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

1st placeI remember years ago being on a training course where we were learning coaching skills. The facilitator was coaching someone to use a golf putter when they had never played golf in their life. It was fun to watch this person try to hit a golf ball a few yards across the room into a cup laying on its side.

The person tried a few times, and with the coach’s help, eventually managed to get the ball into the cup, to cheers and applause from everyone around. The smile on his face showed he was proud of his accomplishment, even though a little embarrassed by the attention.

The discussions centered around how we could improve as individuals and one person said that if we modelled someone like Tiger Woods (who was number one at the time), we would eventually be as good as him.

The facilitator then said that even if we did model ourselves on Tiger, would we ever be as good as him? Our conclusion was that, as Tiger had been hitting golf balls since he was 3 years old, we probably wouldn’t ever be as good as him. Then the facilitator said something that I wrote down and have had in my learning journal ever since.

He said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, rather than a second-rate version of someone else”.

It’s an interesting phenomenon that we as humans tend to compare ourselves against others’ accomplishments and feel that we have to in some way ‘compete’ with them in order to be a ‘good’ person. The winner is honoured, the losers forgotten. (Do you remember who came second and third to Usain Bolt in 100 metres at the London Olympics?).

But that quote from the facilitator on that day brought it home to me that, actually, we would probably always lose if we were trying to copy someone else. In sales, this would include trying to use the script of someone else to sell our products, or copying a successful person’s characteristics when with a client. What could be the possible outcome?

Well, we might try to be as assertive as another person, so we can come across as being confident and assured. Unfortunately, if we move outside our comfort zone without a support mechanism behind us, we naturally fall back into that zone, as we feel safe there.

It’s far better to take our own skills, talents and attributes and try to improve those, instead of looking at what someone else does and trying to emulate or live up to their standards. You are not them. You don’t have their thought patterns or abilities. You don’t have their mindset.

By all means take note of how successful people have achieved that success. But make them applicable to your own persona, build confidence from building your own foundations and create situations where you have the natural ability to improve, rather than thinking you must try to be like someone else.

That first rate version of you will always make you feel better than the second rate version of someone else.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com
(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Posted in Lessons For Sales People | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Who Do You Compare Yourself Against When Judging Your Own Performance?

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

start raceThe European Athletic Championships have just finished and it was great to see these athletes competing at the highest level. I’m amazed how some of these runners can perform the way they do and hardly be out of breath at the end. If that was me, I’d have collapsed in a heap just after the starting pistol had sounded!

What made me smile were the occasions when a runner would be celebrating with arms raised, even though they hadn’t finished in a medal position. The fact was these athletes may not have beaten others in the race and gained a medal; but they had looked at their finishing time or their performance in the field and realised they had achieved a ‘personal best’. That is, the performance they had just given was the best they, personally, had ever done.

To them, it was a cause for celebration, even though they hadn’t won a medal, because they had beaten everything they had ever done before.

It reminds me of Zig Ziglar’s quote “Our problem is we make the mistake of comparing ourselves with other people. You are not inferior or superior to any human being. You do not determine your success by comparing yourself with others; rather, you determine your success by comparing your accomplishments with your capabilities. You are ‘number one’ when you do the best you can with what you have”.

By comparing yourself to others, you run the risk of falling short in many areas. Other people may have had a different background to you, a better education, more ‘lucky’ breaks, greater abilities in certain areas or better working situations.

It may be that you will never hit the heights of a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs. You might never make a trillion dollars in commission or be number one salesperson in the country.

But if you concentrate on building on your personal skills and achieving what is possible just for you, you can consider yourself to be a success, because there will never ever be another ‘you’. No-one has had your background, your conditioning, your upbringing. No-one has the same belief systems, rules, standards and values that you have.

The only time I consider myself a failure is if I didn’t do my best and fell short of the standards I set for myself. I try to learn from every sales opportunity that comes my way. If I do that, I have the chance to build on my skills and learn how to do better next time.

Zig said that you should ‘determine your success by comparing your accomplishments with your capabilities’. Look back at what you did in the last week. Did your results reflect the effort you put in? Did you learn from any failures? Did you try to beat your own personal best, whatever that might be measured against? How did your attitude measure up?

The answers to all these questions will help you build on your current successes and allow you to compare yourself against the only person who really matters in this regard; You!

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com
(Image by Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Posted in Sales Mindset | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Features & Benefits Don’t Work in Today’s World

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

ID-10036035 (2)How many times have you heard that you shouldn’t just present features of your product, but you should also reiterate how those features benefit the prospect?

It has been the staple diet of most salespeople over decades of selling, and is used in most sales interactions.

However, what if the benefit isn’t?

That is, what if one of the benefits highlighted on one of your products actually isn’t of any use to the prospect? What does it then become? Yes, a useless feature that adds no value to the prospect and probably makes them want the price reducing.

For example, if you heard this interaction between a salesperson and a customer, what does it prove?

Salesperson: Yes, our new WX model has great acceleration, which means it can get you out of trouble if an accident is imminent, and get you away from the lights quicker than anyone else!

Customer: Mmm, actually my boy-racer days are long-gone, and economy is much more important to me these days, so the great acceleration figures don’t interest me. Sorry, I’ll look at something else.

Benefits always are product-related and can often just sound as bland as the product features, especially if they don’t relate to the customer’s real needs or wants.

Instead, identify what your product or service’s unique strengths are and how they relate to the specific concepts that are important and valuable to that specific client at that moment.

Features and benefits only work when customers actually recognise and accept the value of the benefit to their situation. In the above illustration, the acceleration in the car was not only a non-benefit to the customer, but it also caused him to re-evaluate whether he wanted the product at all.

What you need to find is the value proposition that means most to this customer and then talk about that proposition.

Is the customer interested in long-term, fixed-rate savings for his family’s future? Then highlight the stability of the portfolio you are offering, its consistent returns and the stable interest rate it offers.

Is the customer willing to take a risk and go for the advantageous higher returns? Then highlight the better returns of a different portfolio, and how you could help him mitigate the risks by putting some money aside in a different plan as well as building up a nice nest-egg for the future.

The benefits will only be beneficial if they appeal to the criteria that the individual sees as important to them.

So, identify what unique strengths your company’s offerings have for specific situations. If it’s possible that you are able to see a niche in a particular market, you may be able to offer strengths that would hit a market opportunity others haven’t yet tapped into.

Those unique strengths can be made into benefits that appeal to companies or individuals who have specified needs and to whom the benefits can be laser-beamed into their unique situation. By recognising that features and benefits are now just too generic for today’s business world, you create an offering that is right for the particular market and build a reputation for knowing a business’s real reason for choosing a solution – unique needs and wants for their unique customer base.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com
(Image by renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Objections: Why They Occur & How You Can Prevent Them In The First Place

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ID-10088853 (2)If there is one question that occurs the most on our sales programmes, it has to revolve around dealing with objections. Many delegates say that if they could just have the magic wand to overcome objections, they would love their job. But because salespeople allow objections to be raised in the first place, they face the uphill task of having to deal with them head-on.

In fact, think of the language used when referring to objections; ‘deal with them’, ‘overcome them’, get round them’, ‘blast through them’. Boy, it sounds like a real battle before you even start!

Why do they occur? Easy, really. It’s because the decision-maker cannot realistically see the value or worth of buying over the price that is being charged.

The equation is simple: V minus P

Here, V = Value and P = Price. For the decision to be made in your favour, perceived value in the buyer’s eyes has to be greater than the price or cost of making that choice.

Remember, value is in the eye of the buyer, so if one person thinks that item is worth the price and another doesn’t, the difference in viewpoint will affect the decision.

For example, how much would you pay for a small bottle of water?

You might consider £1 to be the right price for it. If it was £10, the ‘worth’ in your eyes is greatly diminished.

But if you were dying of thirst in the desert, and had £10 in your pocket, would the ‘worth’ to you now go up? Of course.

So, how can you tell what is most valuable to a prospect and how can you overcome what might be potential objections later in the conversation?

Well, questions are the answer. Find out what criteria the decision-maker will be using to make their mind up when the time comes. If you are able to identify this and you know it may be an issue later on, you can prevent it before it actually comes up.

Let’s take an example: You discover that budget is a key issue for the prospect you are talking with. You determine that your solution may be a little higher in price than the prospect wants to pay. You can prevent what might be an objection against your price by saying something like:

“We discussed earlier how you want the widget to last a long time and how reliability is really important to you. We also talked about how much it costs to repair your current widget every time it breaks down.

If we were able to cut all those costs and improve the reliability at a stroke, do you think it would be worth looking at? As you said, repairs are costing around £1500 per year. Our solution will save you that and take away the worry of further costs in the future, especially with our optional extended warranty”

What has this immediately done? It has raised the value of your solution in the customer’s mind, so he is more likely to accept a higher price. Remember V minus P?

If the value has been raised in their mind, the objection that you might have expected about your higher price won’t be an objection anymore, as the prospect sees how much better off they would be with your solution, especially as they won’t have to pay out the continuous repair costs that would have been grating for him.

If you are able to face the objections head-on, and highlight them before they are raised, they cease to become the obstacles they might have been and actually create opportunities for you to highlight how the product or service can be more beneficial in the long-run.

Value is in the eye of the buyer. Build that value up, so when a potential objection could be raised, the potential benefits can outweigh any drawbacks.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com
(Image by adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

 

Posted in Objection Handling | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Digging Deep to Find the Gold – The Art of Asking Quality Questions in a Sales Call

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ID-10040951 (2)I once read of an expedition to find hidden treasures in the Middle East. Rumour had it that wealth beyond compare had been buried in caves by ancient people who had been trying to escape war-mongering looters.

The surveys carried out had revealed there were indeed treasures to be found beneath the surface of the ground in the caves that had been the subject of their investigations.

Sure enough, just days into the search, many treasures were unearthed and the team were ecstatic at their findings. Gold, jewels and silver were taken away, examined, dated, valued and put on display at various museums. The findings were seen as a treasure trove  from the past.

Years later, other excavators decided to re-examine the caves. This particular team felt that not all the treasure had been uncovered. They felt there may well have been more hidden deeper in the caves, and that the original teams had stopped digging too early when they found the treasures.

Sure enough, after digging only a relatively few feet further down, this new team uncovered more valuable treasures, valued even more than the original find.

If the first team had only continued digging, they would also have found these buried treasures. They were literally just a few feet from finding even more value than they had originally uncovered.

When I read this, it reminded me that the best salespeople are able to uncover and find out much valuable information about a prospect if only they were to dig deeper. We can do this by recognising that the quality of our questions will determine the quality of the information we obtain.

We can catagorise questions into three levels: Surface, shallow and deep.

If we seek for something at the surface, it won’t reveal much of what is hidden. Similarly, surface questions won’t uncover much detail.

Surface questions could include, for example, “How is business?” “Judging by the photos on your desk, I see you have two children, yes?” “How many salespeople do you have at the moment? “What kind of products sell best for you?”

You may need to start of with ‘surface’ enquiries, but they don’t reveal very much about the business or the way the person makes decisions. We need to dive a little deeper.

Shallow questions build on the information you have uncovered. They could include, for example, “How do today’s figures compare with last year’s?” “What further inroads into this market could you make if you were able to?” “How has the improving economy affected the way you market your products?”

These are slightly deeper questions and obtain more information. They could uncover more treasures as the prospect reveals more about their business and future plans. These ‘shallow’ level questions reveal whether you are able to assist the prospect in a more meaningful way.

These type of questions open the way to the level of questioning that reveals the real treasures…the depth of which will help you to present solutions that create opportunities for the prospect that maybe they hadn’t seen before. ‘Deep’ questions uncover information and build on previous data that may well take the discovery journey on a different path or deeper purposes.

Examples might include, “So with the increase in business you’ve seen in the last few months, what changes to your current business practices will help support the further growth you are expecting?”

“If the current trend continues, how do you see the departmental structure and set-up in the next few months?”

“ Could you describe the criteria you will be using to choose your future business partner, so you are certain that relationship will bring the desired results you have described?”

You’ll notice these questions dig deeper to get the prospect to open up about the future operations and allow you to formulate plans that will assist in their business development.

You then have the chance to build your future partnership with the prospect instead of it becoming a transactional-type relationship, built on shallow foundations with surface or shallow information.

So, think through in your call-preparation what information would help you get the most information possible from the prospect. Imagine you only had time to ask three questions. What would those questions be to get the best and most useful information possible? Those would then be the ‘deep’ questions that you could ask during the conversation.

Treasure could be buried deep in the ground, and it could take time and effort to uncover it. When you do, you may discover opportunities that wouldn’t have been available previously.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com
(Image by Photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Posted in Questioning Skills | Tagged , , | Leave a comment