All posts by Sean McPheat

Hi! I'm the founder and Managing Director of MTD Sales Training - we offer sales training solutions for companies both large and small. I'm blessed to work with 25 of the most talented trainers in the UK....well, I did recruit them! ;-) Today, we've delivered training in over 23 countries to over 3,500 different organisations and 100,000 staff. Our clients include Xerox, Friends Provident, Starbucks, Taylor Wimpey, CISCO, Allianz and Lloyds TSB to name but a few.

Here’s How You Know You’ve Earned The Right To A Referral..

Referrals are probably the easiest type of business to get because they are opportunities that are given to you by buyers or decision-makers who know you and trust you enough to put their reputation on the line.

But what is a good definition of a referral?

One word that comes to mind is ‘risk’.

It’s risky for a company to give you a referral because of the risks involved in giving them.

Here are a few questions to think about if the customer doesn’t give you a referral when you ask for it:

Did they like your product or service enough to warrant referring you onto someone else?

Have you built up enough trust with them for them to say they have the courage to give you the details of someone else?

Did you deliver more than you promised, so you earned the referral?

What memorable memories did you leave them with so they think, ‘This is something I want to pass onto someone else’?

How did you minimise the risks involved in them giving you a referral?

At what point in their relationship with you would they be willing to give you a referral and minimise the risk?

What have you done to earn the trust and reduce that risk to the customer?

How have you built a high level of comfort, a great history of performance and a deep level of trust with the customer before even thinking about asking for a referral?

Remember, they are risking a business or personal relationship with someone else by referring that someone to you.

So, when is the best time to ask for a referral?

The best time is after the risk has been eliminated!

If you ask for a referral as soon as the sale is made, you can forget it. You haven’t proved anything to your new customer, and the risk is still high in their mind.

At best, the chances are weak that they will know someone else who wants your product because, at that point in time, they aren’t thinking about anyone else; they are thinking about the relief of having made a decision to go with you.

They are not in the right frame of mind to now start thinking about who else might benefit from your products or services, so now is not the right time to ask.

When you perform higher that they thought possible, when you deliver beyond their expectation, then you have earned the right to get referrals.

The best salespeople aim for unsolicited referrals, as that means your customer loves you, and haven’t been forced to think of someone on-the-spot.

So, don’t ask your customers to do your selling for you.

Build the relationship, deliver more that you said you would and create reasons why they should recommend you to others.

Then you’ve really earned the right to be referred.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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21 Questions That Will Build Instant Rapport

This sales blog is an excerpt of 450 Sales Questions – click here to download your complimentary copy

Although rapport should be built all throughout the sales interaction via the tonality that you use, your body language gestures and through active listening skills, when you first meet with a prospect you need to break the ice.

This can be when you first meet them at reception, as you walk together to their office or meeting room, on the phone and when you’re on the way out of the meeting or at the end of the call too.

Remember, rapport building is not a stage of the sales process.

You should be building rapport at all times and all throughout the sales process.

RAPPORT BUILDING WARNING

Please do not think that building rapport just covers topics like the weather, favourite football teams or cheesy comments on how beautiful their kids look from the photos on their desk.

Instead, you should build rapport by keeping things light but business like.

Here are 21 questions that will build rapport at the start of your sales interactions:

“I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you’ve only been here for 3 months. How are you settling in?”

“I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you used to work for ABC Company. I used to work for them / we’ve done work for them/ what did you do there?”

“Looking on your website I noticed that you’ve just done this / achieved that / won this contract / moved to bigger offices / (anything newsworthy to talk of) how’s that going?”

“How’s business?”

“How long have you been with the company?” (If you don’t know via LinkedIn)

“So you’ve been with ABC for 5 years?” (If you do know via LinkedIn)

“So you’re the title/position. What exactly does that entail?”

“So as the title/position, do you also oversee…”

“How many people in your department/do you manage/ do you employ?”

“How long have you been in that/this field all together?”

“How long have you been in the/this business?”

“How did you get your start in the business/field?”

“How did your company/business that you own get started?”

“How many people do you manage?”

“Does your company have other locations?”

“Does your role involve a lot of travelling?”

“How do you keep up to date on important information in the industry?”

“What periodicals do you read?”

“What are you up to this weekend?” (On the way out of office / meeting / end of call)

“What have you got planned for the rest of the day?” (On the way out of office/meeting/end of call)

“What have you got on for the rest of the day?” (On the way out of office/meeting/end of call)

Use whichever ones are appropriate – read the situation and try a couple for size during your next sales interaction!

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

To celebrate ‘Learning At Work Week’ – this sales blog post is an excerpt of ‘450 Sales Questions’. Click below to download your free copy and use these questions in your sales interactions!

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How Modern Day Gatekeepers Are Ruining Your Sales Figures

To celebrate ‘Learning At Work Week’, here on the MTD Sales Blog we are giving away materials and resources that will help you enhance your sales skills.

This week we have launched our new ISMM accredited ‘Sales Excellence Award’.

The award consists of 36 bite sized sessions spread across 5 modules – each session is no longer than 5 minutes and can be worked through on your desktop, tablet or mobile device.

This means that you can work through it on your way to the sales meeting, at your desk in the workplace or from the comfort of your own sofa!

To celebrate the launch of our new ‘Sales Excellence Award’ – we are giving away a free session on prospecting.

Even if you’re not interested in the award itself – our free session on getting through the gatekeeper will be helpful to you!


 



Happy prospecting!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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6 Ways You Can Fulfill Your Prospect’s Needs

Many salespeople struggle to find the best way forward when they have to work with existing clients because they still put the emphasis on their own products and services.

The more successful salespeople spend their time identifying the real needs of the businesses they are working with and creating opportunities for them to advance their businesses.

This opens up chances to talk about their services in a much more beneficial way.

But what exactly are the main needs of the businesses you deal with?

Aren’t every business’s needs different?

For questions about identifying needs and wants and also moving the sale forward, click here to download ‘450 Sales Questions’

Yes, they are, but there is a pattern, a composite list if you like, of similar needs and wants that link businesses together.

When you know these needs, you are able to to link the products and services you have with those needs and help companies to build their own customer base with your help.

What are these composite needs and how could you provide more help to businesses by using them?

Tony Robbins, one of my favorite speakers and coaches, speaks of six basic human needs.

They ,in essence, sum up everyone’s character and talks to us at the personality but also spiritual level.

We can also apply them to business needs too, and I’ve listed my take on these components below.

The first is the need for certainty.

As humans, we have an innate need to feel certain about things.

When we are certain about how things work and how others behave we can predict what will happen in the future and so feel safe.

When we are certain about others, we can trust them.

When we feel safe, we can relax and reduce our constant scanning for threats.

For questions about identifying needs and wants and also moving the sale forward, click here to download ‘450 Sales Questions

As businesses, we need to have some certainty about the future, the economy, the legislations we work to and that our suppliers will be able to provide us with the ideas and services we need to be productive and profitable.

As salespeople, we can provide that confidence by being consistent in keeping our promises to our clients, by showing our trustworthiness and by building strong relationships with the buyers of our products so they see they can have that confidence we will deliver when we say we will in the way we said we would and in the best time frame possible.

Next comes the need for variety.

This sound the opposite to certainty, and in a way it is.

While certainty is important, too much is boring.

We also want stimulation and novelty to add interest and fun to our lives.

This is why people try new things, take risks and gamble, even when they do not need to do so.

As businesses, we also want to offer variety in the way we do things for our customers, the services we offer and the products our customers experience.

Without that variety, we get staid and monotone.

Our competitors take over from us and we lose market share.

As salespeople, we can offer variety by changing the way we work with our buyers.

We need to stimulate their thinking and bring some kind of innovative thinking to way we work with them.

If we see different ways that we can market our products to clients we open up chances for this need for variety to be shown and demonstrated.

Thirdly, there’s the need for Significance.

We need meaning in our lives and want our lives to have purpose and direction.

We want to be important and for others to look up to us.

We may gain this in many different ways, from becoming well-qualified to being friendly and helping others.

As businesses, this significance is gained by becoming important in the specific market we operate in, creating new offers and showing our competitive nature in the products and services we offer.

Some show this in the way they define their businesses, others find a niche in the way they develop products and others may steal an advance by their price points.

Whatever way they do it, businesses strive to be significant among their competitors.

As salespeople, we can build on our client’s needs for significance by helping them increase market share for themselves, open new markets that didn’t exist for them previously and help them develop practices that work efficiently for their existing and future clients.

Next comes the need for Connection.

Without company, we easily get lonely.

We are social animals and connecting with other people is important for us. In this ways, we bond with others as we form friends and extend our sense of who we are.

Just as variety balances certainty, so outer connection with others balances the inner need for significance in ourselves.

As businesses, we need some connection with the outside world so they know how we can help.

No business can survive without that connection to outside markets.

It’s often said that you might have the best product in the world, but if it’s not marketed well, it’s next to useless.

As salespeople, we can assist our clients by creating opportunities for them to connect with their prospects and customers.

By going beyond the normal salesperson-client relationship, we increase our chances of being valuable to our buyers, as they see we help them to connect effectively to their market opportunities.

Those first four needs assist businesses at the ‘personality’ level, helping them to become a force in the market place by being recognised through their services and product quality.

The final two needs look at the spirit that the businesses can offer, those etherial qualities that often differentiate one business from another.

The next need is that of Growth.

Beyond fulfilling the previous needs, we want to learn and become more than we are.

For this purpose we study and want to develop our careers.

As a higher need, we can live without it and some people seek little in way of growth, while others are highly motivated to make something more of themselves.

As businesses, if we don’t grow, we stagnate and allow our competitors to take over our market.

Growth and development permeates the spirit of those companies who succeed and contribute to the success of others.

They seek suppliers that enable them to achieve their growth plans and allow them to become more dominant in their market place.

As salespeople, buyers welcome us if we create opportunities for their businesses to improve market share, increase productivity, improve quality or build profit opportunities.

We need to assist businesses in this key component on value-add, helping them see how your products will help them grow and achieve the goals that would make them successful in their and their customers’ eyes.

The last need is that of Contribution.

Combining growth and connection, contribution takes into account other people and the world at large.

If we are active in contributing to other individuals and groups, rather than just ‘belonging’, we increase our connection with them and it feel good as our sense of identity is expanded.

As businesses, we often want to go beyond just selling and providing products and services, and we want to feel we are contributing more to society in general.

Often business’s ‘sense of identity’ is tied to their contribution to the community, green issues, health and safety or similar.

This ‘contribution’ shows we care about things greater than profits and allows others to see us in a different, more favourable, light.

As salespeople, we can assist businesses in this need by providing chances for them to see how they can build community spirit, open their doors to the public to see their success in the community, or contribute in some way to their successful operations through their own services.

This build even more value in the buyer’s eyes as they see you’re not just in it to sell products; you really are interested in the success of the buyer’s company.

Each of these needs create an opportunity for us in sales to build relationships with clients, and take us away from being simply a supplier of products and services to being a really valuable asset in many ways to the buyer’s business.

They begin to see you as someone who has their needs in mind and allows you to open up more market opportunities, not just for current but also for new customers too.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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7 Steps To Build & Maintain Connections With Your Clients

If there’s one quality that we can always develop on our journey to being great at salesmanship, it’s the quality of connection.

Ask any buyer what cements the relationship between them and their best suppliers, somewhere down the line this concept of connection will rise up.

No buyer I know will say that they continue buying from a company without some form of bond or relationship with them.

This ‘connect’ is often done at the personal level (people buy from people) or at the business level (they provide great products for us).

So how do we build, develop and maintain this relationship?

What are the key components that make connections successful?

Well, we can see a number of ideas by taking the word ‘connect’ and using that as an acronym so we can remember it better.

Here’s my take on the seven aspects of ‘connect’.

Conscious

All connections have to be at the conscious level.

In other words, we need to be aware of what our client needs, what their motives are, what changes they are going through, what challenges they are facing and allow ourselves to be immersed in assisting them to deal with them.

Too often, we drift through our client relationships, only contacting them when we need them to buy from us, or when we have an offer for them.

By consciously being aware of what’s happening in their business, we make ourselves valuable to them and they see us as a great asset to them.

Organised

How many times have you forgotten to check in with a client when you should have, or simply mislaid a contact’s details?

Great salespeople realise the importance of being organised to achieve their and their connection’s goals.

By identifying what’s most important in the relationship, you make sure you are organised to help them and won’t arrive at meetings berating yourself for forgetting that vital file or your laptop pore cable!

Needs

The buyer isn’t interested in you and your products.

They couldn’t care very much about your company either.

If you went away, there’s someone else ready to leap into your place.

No, they only feel connected to you when you care about their needs.

What challenges are top-of-mind for them at the moment?

What dangers lurk in the murky waters of future changes?

By dealing with their current and future needs and wants, you become more valuable than ever to them and they like that attitude of caring.

Negotiate

This is a skill that builds the connection between salespeople and buyers.

The buyers needs to feel they have got a good ‘deal’ (whatever that means in their mind) and also has to recognise you have to make a profit in order to keep servicing them.

So, developing great negotiating skills can help you connect well with the businesses you deal with.

Emotional

We often forget when immersed in the cut and thrust of business dealings that we are dealing with human nature.

People make decisions based on what makes them feel confident and good.

The emotional connection is important to remember.

Simply by being the cheapest or the most effective won’t always cut it.

We need to remember the emotional impact we can have by making the buyer feel confident they have made the right decision in choosing you.

Create

It’s easy to fall into that malaise that often affects relationships; the attitude of taking the partner for granted.

It’s often the first thing that insidiously infects any relationship and can creep up on you without realising it (hence the need to be consciously aware of what’s happening).

By creating new ways to build value in the customer’s mind, you bulked reasons for them to know you are interested in them and so maintain that connection.

Take Action

This final one is obvious but is often overlooked.

The connection between your company and your key accounts can only be maintained through activity.

Leaving the contact between you to chance or ignoring the proactive nature of account management can cause you to lose contact and only be seen as a salesperson instead of a consultant whose really interested in their business.

Keep action at the top of your list of priorities.

So that’s my take on how to start, build, develop and maintain connection with your clients.

To summarise, you need to consciously be aware of the needs of their business, taking action to recognise the emotional impact of your relationship, creating chances to show your value and negotiate at a deep level so they see your value.

That way, you are organised to show your client how you can help them build their businesses in the future.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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Apply These 8 Characteristics To Boost Your Sales Success

How would you define success?

More importantly, if someone were to ask you what are the key components of success, would you be able to list the top eight?

Richard St John,researcher, marketing guru, and CEO speechwriter, writes about 8 keys to success and I’ve listed them below with some comments for sales consultants in how to apply them.

The first he lists is that of Passion.

One definition is “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something”.

If you lack enthusiasm, or or simply going through the motions when it comes to your role, you lack one of the fundamental skills you need to travel the road to success.

Have you ever known a successful person who wasn’t enthusiastic or excited about what they were doing?

I’ve not come across any.

So there must be an element of passion in what you do to go on that route.

Next, he lists Quality of Work as a key. 

St John mentions that we tend to overvalue talent and undervalue hard work.

He has found that it’s only in the dictionary that success comes before work.

By working our way through challenges, upsets and discouragement, we prove to ourselves and others that we recognise how important the quality of our work is.

Thirdly, he mentions the we should Focus on the activities that make us valuable to others and to ourselves.

Successful people tend to specialise in being really great at a few things rather than being a jack-of-all-trades, so we need to make sure we have the right interests that need to be concentrated on.

Next, he talks of Pushing Yourself to achievement.

Many people get too comfortable in what they are doing and they don’t stretch themselves to always be looking how they can become better.

By identifying what has to happen in order for them to get better at something, successful sales consultants recognise they should always improve.

By pushing yourself in a direction that goes towards increasing your valuable knowledge, you prove you are going toward the end goal of success.

St John then mentions an interesting component of success. He says that successful people have a plethora of Ideas.

He talks about successful people making mental connections between diverse things.

They are able to be creative and see what connects the success of one company and apply that thinking to help other companies succeed.

Sixth on the list is the idea of Constant Improvement.

Successful people never seem to accept ‘good‘ as good enough.

They practice to consistently improve themselves and what they do.

They are able to see their strengths and build on them and work on their weaknesses to the necessary minimum standards.

Creating opportunities for constantly improving what you do takes you further on the journey.

Next comes Service.

This is a fundamental component, and often differentiates those who really want to succeed and those who fall short on the journey.

Successful people ask what value can I provide for companies and others to enhance their abilities or results.

This differentiates them from those who only think of their own products and services.

Another component St John talks about is Persistence.

He talks about failing a lot.

Most successful people have failed many times before succeeding, because they learn from those failures.

By persisting in the venture to be successful, it proves you’re not one of those who easily give up when confronted with obstacles.

Instead, you view those situations as opportunities to test other ways of working and seeing if they work.

Colonel Sanders failed 1009 times in persuading restaurant owners to take his fried chicken before he heard his first ‘yes’.

Legend has it that Sylvester Stallone was kicked out of nearly 1500 agents‘ offices before he was given his first job.

If both of them had not been persistent in their ventures, we wouldn’t have the dining delicacies of KFC, or seen the wonderful acting abilities of Sly.

So, think of those eight components when it comes to determine how you can go on the journey to success.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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5 Factors That Prevent You From Being A Sales ‘Nearly Man’

One of my friends likes a flutter now and again.

Oh, he’s not a bona-fide better, just someone who now and again enjoys taking the risk of seeing if his horse can beat the others.

There’s one big problem.

He always bets on the horse to place.

When you place a bet on a horse to win, your bet pays only if your horse finishes in first place.

When you place a bet on a horse to place, your horse needs to come in first, second or third place for you to win.

The pay-out for placing is lower than the pay-out to win.

So, he reduces his risk by always looking for his horse to place.

Even if it wins, he will win less than if he had bet on it to win.

His risk-aversion means he might as well back an also-ran, that is, a horse that never wins but nearly gets there.

In sales, there are key factors that separate the winners from these also-rans.

The Rain Group recently conducted a study where they found out what most sales winners do that also-rans (the guys who don’t win) don’t do.

The list is really interesting.

Here are the top five components or factors that made the difference:

  • The salesperson educates the prospect with new ideas or perspectives
  • The salesperson collaborates with the customer and their business
  • The salesperson convinces the customer they will get desired results with their solutions
  • The salesperson listens to the customer
  • The salesperson understood the real needs of the customer

Nothing ground breaking there, but it’s always interesting to see how great salespeople do these things consistently and with vigour.

The also-rans may well do some or even all of these, but it seems to be hap-hazard, without a pattern and certainly not strategically thought-through.

What was also interesting from the study was that these components didn’t figure in the top five for the also-rans.

In fact, in the study, these top five took the following places in the list of factors for the also-rans:

Educating the customer (1st) came 42nd in the also-ran’s list.

Collaborating (2nd) came 26th in the also-ran’s list

Convincing (3rd) came 41st in the also-ran’s list

Listening to the customer (4th) came 19th in the also ran’s list

Understanding the real needs (5th) came 27th in the also-ran’s list

So the message that came through clearly from the survey was that the most important areas to the successful salespeople barely registered a flicker in the also-ran’s list.

This is serious stuff, as those top five factors for the winners all focussed on the prospect’s business and gaining results for them, whereas these came so low on the list of the also-ran’s priorities that it’s obvious they will never be seen as anything but also-rans in their clients’ eyes.

It’s important, therefore, that if you want to consider yourself a winner, you need to identify what makes customer want to do business with you, and most often it has nothing to do with your products or services.

It has everything to do with what changes and improvements you can bring to the prospect’s business.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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How To Show The Prospect The Future’s Brighter With You

Sigmund Freud had a way with words.

One of his theories was that pain can be more immediate than pleasure, leading us to become more concerned with avoidance of pain and hence paying more attention to it.

Many salespeople have heard this reckoning and have identified how recognising a client’s ‘pains’ and ‘problems’ can have a big effect on the decision-making process.

But the main caveat here is that many clients don’t realise they actually have a problem.

‘Find-out-what’s-wrong-and-fix-it’ salespeople are sometimes at a loss in this situation.

They are so used to talking to people who are in ‘pain’ (loss of profit, lower productivity, lack of results, increasing costs, high levels of change, etc.) that when a prospect says that they don’t perceive anything bad enough to make a decision to change, they don’t have many other options to offer them.

So what’s the option?

Well, try moving away from the pains (the negatives) and start highlighting the gains (the positives).

This requires you to start creating opportunity-thinking in the buyers’ minds, focussing on aspirations and possibilities that might not have considered before.

This involves a shift in focus by salespeople from highlighting what is wrong with situation to what could be right with future change.

What this means is the customer now is not concentrating on what is wrong (and conceivably there might not be anything worth changing for) but on what possibilities there may be with your products and services for their future.

It would sound something like this, if one of our business development guys was talking to a prospect:

“You’ll recall, Mr Prospect, that we discussed the idea of coaching your senior salespeople in advanced communications techniques. I know your team have attended many courses on this subject, and have seen improvements as a result. What I’d like to show you is how the return on your future investment will mean greater profitability for you and job satisfaction for your senior people too.”

Notice here that the emphasis is on the future benefits, not the current or past pains.

In many cases the prospect doesn’t see the need for change.

At that point, you need to shift the focus away from what is not happening to what could happen in the future.

If there’s nothing wrong at the moment, no convincing arguments on your part are going to change that perception.

Instead, change the modus operandi.

Start focusing on what benefits the future changes will bring, so it becomes so compelling to the prospect that they are drawn in that direction, thinking about the returns they will achieve, the increased production or the higher profits.

That way, you take them out of the comfort zone of current thinking and show them the opportunities of future ideas.

Try it, and see if the results you get are measurably better.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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How Sales People Get Beyond First Base…

Many sales people ask us for that ‘one thing’, the idea that will solve all their problems and enable them to hit their goals every time.

The ‘magic pill’ if you like, that will make them their sales managers’ dream machine.

Sorry, but there isn’t just one thing that will make you successful.

But if there is one bit of advice that I can give you that will take your success further, it is this:

‘Do things that unsuccessful salespeople don’t’

Gee, thanks, that’s really helpful!

Well, let me go one step further.

If you do what most salespeople do, you’ll just get to first base.

By this, I mean you understand buyers’ needs and you build solutions for them.

You may even listen to their needs and be on their wavelength.

You might connect with them and build some kind of relationship with them.

That, as I say, only gets you to first base.

It’s what most salespeople do these days. It isn’t enough.

To get to second and third base you need to do more.

Here’s what the great salespeople do that the average don’t:

  • They concentrate on the results they will help their prospects achieve
  • They inspire confidence by building trust
  • They reduce risk in using their solutions
  • They are proactive and take the initiative rather than wait for the prospect to ask for help
  • They are experts in the fields that are important to their prospects
  • They educate them with new ideas that add value to the relationship
  • They become an essential resource to their prospects and customers
  • They share the ownership of progressing the sale with the prospect

Do you notice what each one of these ideas entails?

Yes, it takes effort, guile and willingness to go further than others would go.

And that’s sometimes the challenge; many salespeople don’t want to do the hard work that makes selling easy.

Selling isn’t hard, unless you’re one of the unsuccessful ones.

Salespeople who complain about their lot should take a long, hard look at the bullets above, identify where they need to improve and work to make it happen.

Remember: the only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary!

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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How To Respond To “Why Should I Buy From You?”

Look up the word ‘commodity’ and you’ll find definitions like “a basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other commodities of the same type” or “a type of widely-available product that is not markedly dissimilar from one unit to another.”

Another definition may be, “a product that is the same as other products of the same type from other producers”.

The common thread here is the similarity of each product classed as a commodity.

In fact, the biggest differential often comes down to price.

If the buyer cannot differentiate between your products and a competitors’ then oftentimes price will be the determining factor for the sale.

What do you say, then, when a potential buyer says, “why should I buy from you?”

Do you fall into the trap of stating features and benefits?

Do you start to rattle off what your product will do over the product they are currently using?

The big danger with this is that it turns what you have into a commodity, something that will be compared with your competitors’ products and services.

You need to take the buyer’s mind away from the products you are offering.

Your answer to the question of why should I buy from you should be along the lines of “We can solve the issues you currently have better or differently than our competitors.

But until I know what those issues are, I can’t tell you why you should buy from us.

Is it OK if we go through some ways we can help you and see if there’s a compelling reason for us to work together?”

What you’re doing here is moving the buyer’s mind away from thinking of your products and services, and thinking about you helping him to solve his current problems and creating a better future.

As long as the focus is on products, the buyer will be in comparison mode and will look to see what is better or worse about your solution.

The way to decommoditise your products and services is to identify the prospect’s biggest pains – and then show how you can solve it better than anyone else can.

Remember we said that commodities can usually be differentiated by price?

This journey takes the emphasis away from things that can be compared, and onto the results the buyer will get if they choose your offering.

Think about how you can de-commoditise your products.

What aspects of what you sell could be taken out of the realm of being compared on price?

What have you got that can add value to the buyer’s business or change their lives in a different way to your competitors’?

By doing this kind of thinking, you move away from the world of comparative pricing and move toward the solution-discovery that will mean a whole lot more to the businesses you are dealing with.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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