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 Why Customer Satisfaction Is WORTHLESS

I’ve just finished reading Jeff Gitomer’s book “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless” and I’d really recommend you get a copy if you’re in customer service.

It offers some interesting insights into service and some great stories that resonate in many areas.

It got me thinking as to why I’m loyal to some companies and not to others.

Have you ever visited somewhere for service (a restaurant, for example) and been ‘satisfied’ with the whole experience, but never returned?

Companies we work with measure ‘customer satisfaction’ and think that means they understand the voice of the customer.

The trouble with CSI and CSPs and the like is they never tell you what the customer needs to experience for them to become loyal to you.

You may wonder what makes customers loyal to your business?

It doesn’t take much to find out – you simply go and ask them!

We have many companies who have renewed their business with us over many years.

When we ask them why they keep coming back, the answers are many and varied, but basically they come down to three key components:

  • We are consistent with the level of quality and performance 
  • We are pro-active and follow up on our promises
  • We are easy to work with 

There are obviously many other components that cause them to be loyal, but those are the major ones that keep cropping up.

What this means is that we can work on these for our existing customers and start conversations with new customers to discuss how we could maintain their loyalty over the years to come.

We’re not the cheapest consulting and training company around, but our loyal customers know they get more than they pay for, so money is seldom an issue.

What’s most important is that we help their businesses to be better than they would be without us.

So, don’t settle for customer satisfaction.

It may be good for one-off transactions, but if you want and require loyalty for your business to thrive, try finding out what makes your customers want to come back to you and build on that for a solid future.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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How To Take Control Of The Conversation With Your Prospect

Do you remember the saying years ago that went along the lines of ‘He has the gift of the gab….he should be in sales!’?

According to many people in the old days, if you could talk a lot, you could convince someone that they should buy from you.

How times have changed!

Today, it’s the customer who holds all the aces.

It’s the customer who has done their homework and research, and it’s they who set the rules for the conversation.

So, now that product knowledge is not the main concern of the prospect, how can you still control the conversation so you are taking it in the right direction?

Well, the main thing to remember is the new saying that has replaced the old: “He who asks the best questions controls the sale”.

What this means is that the quality of the question determines the quality of the answer.

You may think that the customer is king and that they control the pace of the dialogue.

The truth is that you can control exactly what happens during the conversation through the type and quality of the questions you ask.

Before you make contact, research what the prospect already knows about you and your company.

Have they used your products or services before?

If not, who have they been using to get the results they have achieved so far?

Do you know where they falling short at the moment?

What this allows is for you to create the type of question that will take you further than your competition can get.

You control the pace of the conversation by discussing those areas that are important to both you and them.

You highlight what you know already and then work with them to see how the future can be different.

Remember…your prospect will only buy if they see your solution will create a better future for them, in whatever way they measure it.

By determining the best questions to ask, you hold the reigns in the conversation and build a firm foundation for constructing the direction of the discussions and what information you uncover.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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Use This Simple Technique To Get The Decision Maker On-Side

When we are putting our presentations together for a client meeting, we often, if not always, concentrate on the overall benefits to the client of our products and services.

We concentrate on what our products will produce for them, how they will make them more competitive in the market place, the profitability they will bring or the increased productivity that they will gain.

These are often seen as the major reasons why buyers choose to use you.

But there is also something that should be highlighted on top of all these company benefits, and it is often left out.

By doing so, we may miss the biggest reason why the buyer should make the decision to go with you.

You could call it ‘the icing on the cake’ for many deals, and it’s simply the benefits that will come to the individual who is making the decision.

We often forget that buying is based on emotion; that is, how someone feels about the decision.

Yes, you’re right in talking about how the business will benefit and what gains the department or the team will get from making the right decision.

By highlighting the overall benefits that the individual will achieve, we now hit a nerve that might be otherwise overlooked.

Think of it this way; if the buyer makes a decision that will save his company money, he’s done just that…saved the company money. But what gains has he himself achieved?

If you showed him what the personal gains would be, that might swing the balance in your favour.

Suppose you are selling products that make savings in production costs.

How will the company benefit?

Yes, they could use those savings to develop other areas in the business.

But also, the individual themselves will benefit by being seen as the one who saved the money.

A simple presentation point could be:

“We’ve seen how this new product will cut your overheads by up to 15%, but how will it benefit your team as well? No doubt they’ll experience the lower effort and the time-savings this will bring. It will make their jobs easier and allow them to do more important things. And who will they thank for that? Yes, you!”

Here, you are showing the accolades that will personally come to them.

The overall benefits of this will be that the users will see the decision-maker making things better for them.

This will result in better relationships and more acceptance of the future decisions made by the buyer.

The buyer themselves will see that you have provided these results for them, and will feel in your debt for that.

So, when you have the opportunity, concentrate on how the individual will benefit from making the decision.

Show them the gains they will personally achieve and what people will be saying to them.

That way, you’ll get them on your side and the icing on the cake will taste even sweeter!

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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You vs. The Competition…Want To Win? Here’s How…

I’ve been speaking to more of my clients recently.

Not that that should surprise you, but I’ve taken some time out to find out some of the key issues they are facing and identified many of the specific ideologies that drive them to make decisions.

In some cases it’s been eye-opening, and has allowed us to tweak our offerings and practices so we are in line with their requirements.

I recently read something from Jill Konrath, an American who helps salespeople to sell more.

Here’s a quote from one of her books:

“I had lunch with the president of a half-billion dollar division of a major corporation. She told me that if someone contacted her and said she could reduce waste in her company by just 1%, she would meet with them immediately.

Why? 

Because she knows exactly how much her company spends on waste, and it was a lot of money.

Every penny she saves goes right to the bottom line.”

That’s an interesting viewpoint, and it should help us to analyse what our products actually do for the customer.

You see, no-one is interested in your features and benefits.

If you roll out a long list of what your product does, it’s hard work for the prospect to make the link between what you’re saying and their long-term objectives.

Any proposition you put forward should emphasise what the value is of using you and your services.

So, one thing that should be on your to-do list is “call my best clients and ask them two things: Why did they buy from me and what results are they getting?”

Now, this can be done on a routine call or you can plan a special call for this information.

The truth is, if you don’t get this information, how can you prove what you say to prospects is actually true?

How can they trust you when you make your claims?

The questions will sound something like this:

“What were some of the main reasons you bought from us initially?”

“Which competitors did you survey?”

“What was better about about our products than theirs?”

“What specific results have you got from using our products?”

“How much money have you saved, or made, from using us?”

You’ll see that these questions are very specific, the answers to which will help you develop your value proposition for new clients.

For example, which of the two following statements would make the bigger impression on a prospect?

“Our new widget has 32 less moving parts than our main competitor, so there is less to go wrong and maintain, thus giving you more peace of mind and less risk”

or

“Joe Smith at ABC has been using our new widget for six months now, and he tells me he has saved about 15% in down time and produced more than 20% more items than he was with his previous machine. He estimates he has saved over £xxx in Th. last six months”.

Both statements make the same claims (that the widget is better than the competition), but the second one is more appealing to the customer, because they don’t have to do the hard work thinking through what the repercussions of the claims are.

They would be able to identify with the second statement more, as this tells them the results they will achieve with  the product.

See if you can check the results your clients are getting with your products.

They will tell you what’s most important to them and give you testimonials to take to other prospects too.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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How Salespeople Can Get Into Their Buyer’s Brain

One thing that many salespeople come on our workshops to learn is ‘the Holy Grail’, that is, what can they do to guarantee success every time they try to sell their products.

Without being presumptuous and claiming I’ve cracked the Enigma Code of Sales, there truthfully is only one reason why buyers would decide to buy from you.

Of course, you can talk about value and cost effectiveness and returns on investment and security and pleasure and comfort, etc. etc. etc.

And all of these would be true when they are contemplating which option to choose or what product to go for.

But when it comes to saying they want to buy in the first place, what is that first step they take?

What do they think about that takes them on the journey to deciding what to buy?

This isn’t rocket science, folks, nor will it stun you into silence and send your head spinning.

But it is vitally important that you comprehend the meaning behind it and learn from it.

The one reason why everyone decides to buy something, (or rent it, or lease it, or whatever) is simply they need to change their current situation for something better.

There. Simple, eh?

Yes, but like all good things, simple is often profound.

What are the implications for us in sales when we realise this?

The biggest implication is that we need to establish exactly what that change needs to be, and from where to where.

Imagine a customer is seeking to buy a new product.

The reason is their current situation doesn’t produce the results they are looking for anymore.

It may have done in the past.

Their solution may even have given them everything they wanted.

Now, though, things are different.

They realise there are better things out there, or they could get better results (however they measure them) with a new product or service.

Whatever the reason, they recognise they need to change for something else.

If they aren’t in this state of mind, they aren’t going to buy from you.

Period.

It’s only when they recognise that things could be better or they are experiencing something ‘not good’ with the current situation that they will make a decision to change.

So the first stage in determining whether you have the products or services they need is to ascertain what ‘pains’ they are suffering now or, if they approach you, what they are looking to change.

Without knowing this, you could be in danger of presenting solutions that don’t match the future needs they have, based on their current position.

When you’ve found that out early in the conversation, you have the chance to formulate the plan of action to take the prospect in the direction they need to go to make a decision to choose you.

Without that you haven’t created the real need to change, and hence resistance will always be put on the journey.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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3 Quotes That Will Inspire Your Future In Sales

I came across three interesting quotes while doing research the other day, and they all give an insight into the future of sales.

See what you think when you read these:

“The modern consumer is digitally-driven, socially-connected and mobile-empowered. Sales reps will need to adapt or be replaced” – Jill Rowley, Evangelist for Social Selling

“Your lead-generation methods need to be assessed. Do your best to move from less assertive methodologies to those that are more assertive and more effective. That’s where the results are” – Ken Krogue, Inside Sales

“Technology is a double-edged sword. Just as salespeople are moving into the future, the buyers are already ahead of us” – Koka Sexton, LinkedIn

What it made me think is that the future is approaching us much more rapidly than many of us suspected.

What does this mean for us involved in sales?

If the future prospect is digitally-driven and socially connected, we have to match their need for technology-based opportunities.

Today’s sales processes will not work in the future, because they are grounded in the way old buyers used to buy.

By embracing the new way buyers are making decisions these days, you become the kind of salesperson that buyers actually want to see.in the future.

B2B buyers are self-educating online before making any enquiries about the products and services you may be offering.

This means that prospects are and will be wanting companies to make their buying decisions easy, and it’s going to be the digital path that will guide them to the right decision.

What does this mean for you?

You don’t need me to tell you this means your digital brand and digital presence needs to be improved exponentially.

The old way of selling (prospecting, information-seeking, presenting, negotiating, closing) needs to be evolved to integrate all the digital technology that is now available.

Buyers will be making decisions before they even contact you.

This entails a lot of pre-work on their part, but the information that is available to them will help them drive their decision-making process further down the line before contacting you.

Take a look at the direction that your digital marketing is going now, so you can see what needs to happen in the future.

If you don’t, you may see yourself and your company falling behind in the sales stakes.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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4 Quick Tips On Dragging Your Sales Process Out Of The Dark Ages

I was thinking about our business last week and the many customers who have used our services over the years.

There is one common denominator that joins them all together; they have all changed their buying process as time has gone by.

So, every year, my team renegotiate the terms and conditions with them.

Every year, the buyers find different values that need to be assessed. And every year, it makes us realise we have to change the way we deal with the buying process.

We recognise that sales processes are out of date when certain things are happening that were happening years ago and have not evolved with the times,

Here are some of them:

The main focus is about the price

As soon as price is the issue, then the customer starts focussing on what they can do to reduce that.

Volume discounts, shipping charges, costs scheduling, warranties, technical back-up, etc, etc. can become the main topics of conversation.

This price erosion has a direct impact on your profitability.

Incentive schemes are constantly being tweaked to match better pricing and better margins

All this does is make the salesperson look for ways of keeping the price high and doesn’t help in developing the relationship.

The negotiating policies involved are naturally obliqued towards profit instead of building value for the customer.

The attention is on your customer instead of your customer’s customer

Many salespeople we speak to only think about the relationship with their customer.

This is fine up to a point, but remember; your customer will have customers and it’s those people who will make your customer a success or failure.

You are unsure, unclear or ignorant of how the customer works

Customers’ businesses work in a unique way.

Many salespeople think that the sale they made to a previous client will work with the next prospect too.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work.

How the company makes money, what the prospect’s priorities are, how they work day-to-day, how the products would be used within their business and what they plan for the future are keys to ensuring the relationship lasts.

It’s necessary for you to update your processes every year.

If you don’t, you run the risk of being left behind in the proverbial dark ages.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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How The Best Salespeople Build Relationships On LinkedIn

Many people we train on using LinkedIn have many contacts but have not used those contacts to increase their sales opportunities.

For some, LinkedIn is an unused asset gathering dust on their hard drive.

What would be one way that you could use those connections to increase sales opportunities?

Well, you always would start a conversation when you meet someone at a networking event, so why not do the same kind of thing, but online?

But you should always think through what you want to say and how you want to come across to them.

The best way is to share your insights and experiences with people.

Find a comment that one of your connections has made and return the comment with something of real value.

Show the connection that you appreciate their thoughts and reciprocate with something that would make them see you as a great connection to keep tabs on.

Commenting is a great way to nurture a relationship on LinkedIn.

The receiver will get an email as well as a notification on LinkedIn to say you have commented.

They are much more likely to read your comment on LinkedIn than on a cold email, so make sure your comments are worth reading, rather than just a simple ‘I agree’ or ‘Good point’.

Who should you want to comment with?

All your connections are in your Connections Hub (along the top black bar under My Network) and all your LinkedIn communication is all in one place on each person’s profile.

From here you can set a reminder, make notes and see previous emails all in one place.

For each connection, you can update your communications and add them to a tag that allows you to contact them with a specific offer or specific news item.

Imagine that you have seen some really interesting industry news, something that you think would be useful to one, some or many of your contacts.

Many websites have a ‘share’ button that allows you to send that article or news item with people on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Search for that button, click on it, go to the LinkedIn button and choose the people who you would like to share the article with.

Write a personalised note that shows you were thinking about those people when you read it, and tell them why you think it’s important they see it and read it.

Don’t worry; the recipients won’t see who else you are sending the article to.

You’re bound to get some appreciative comments back and that shows the contacts have read and digested the material.

It also shows that you are a valuable connection and that opens many doors to future contacts.

Make sure you build the value up with your connections before you contemplate trying to sell something to them.

If you make the approach too early, you run the risk of sounding like every other salesperson and be seen as pushy.

LinkedIn gives you so many opportunities to build relationships – use it wisely.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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10 Questions ALL Sales People Must Ask Themselves At The End Of The Month

I love the expression “Questions are the answer”.

It reminds us all that the quality of the answers we get in life are determined by the quality of the questions we ask.

Much of what we experience in life goes over our heads, created by things that are out of our control.

What we focus on will get us our results.

And that focus is very often derived by the questions we ask.

Tony Robbins has gone so far as to assert that all of our thinking is simply us asking questions of ourselves.

Is he right?

Could thinking simply be a series of questions we are trying to answer?

If so, could the quality of our questions dictate the quality of our answers?

What have I just done?

Asked myself a series of questions!

So, are there certain questions you could ask of yourself on a regular basis that would help design your life better?

Of course there are, and I’ve listed a few that I ask of myself at the end of every month that might help you start your own questioning process:

1. What have I done really well this month that contributed to getting me closer to my goals?

2. Do my short-term goals help me on the journey to achieving my long-term objectives?

3. Who could I talk to or read about that would help me learn more about my chosen fields?

4. How can I make more time in the next month or so for things that are really important?

5. To whom could I add value in the next few weeks, and how?

6. Who needs my help today, tomorrow or next week?

7. What could I do now that would make my next month easier to deal with?

8. What have I learned last month that will stop next month from being a repeat of the same stuff?

9. What specific information can I share with colleagues, prospects or clients that would make their jobs easier?

10. What book could I read, DVD could I watch, podcast could I download or webpage could I visit that would provide me with a nugget of gold to make a real difference in what I am doing?

There’s one thing that connects all these questions; they all are created to make us think about getting better, improving, growing and contributing.

It’s a sorry life if we only consider ourselves.

Life teaches us many lessons and one great one is that the quality of our results are directly associated with the contributions we make in life.

If we are able to determine the answers to the above questions, we concentrate and focus on making not just our own but also others’ lives better.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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Use These 2 Examples To Uncover Prospect Needs

You’ve probably been on courses where you’ve discussed the different types of questions that are available to you.

You’ll have heard of open questions and closed questions.

You’ll be familiar with probing questions and possibly leading questions, too.

But the truth is that this can bog you down into thinking you’ve got to vary your questioning type and it can lead to confusion and a lack of flow in the conversation.

Instead, we recommend you think of your questioning session as one where you talk benefits every time.

This negates the need to be thinking “Have I asked enough open questions? Have I probed enough? Should I be asking more closed questions now?”

You just get bogged down in structure and forget why you are there in the first place!

Instead, think about how you can get the prospect to think of what you have in terms of how it will benefit them.

One way is to present a beneficial situation from another customer’s viewpoint and then ask the decision-maker if that appeals to them. It may sound something like this:

“Tom, many businesses in the construction industry have been able to save over 15% in their long-term buying cycles by using our preferred supplier status discounts. Is that something you’d benefit from too?” 

“Rich, we’ve partnered with many large companies like yours here in (city) as a printer service who can provide quick turnaround options when their in-house services can’t achieve their objectives. Would you ever require a service like that?”

Both these examples use ‘benefit-statements” and a quick-fire question to follow up.

You offer a solution that other companies who use you have enjoyed in the past and then identify if that’s something they would be interested in.

This helps you see what is most important to the prospect.

Imagine setting out your proposal or presentation and after going through loads of information and then finding out the prospect has other needs and you’ve just wasted yours and their time!

A quick benefit statement, followed up with a specific question relating to that benefit may save you and them a lot of time.

These questions now allow you to open up the conversation to deeper questioning and a further examination of the prospect’s specific needs.

So, don’t waste your time thinking about the types of question you should ask….instead, think about the results you’ve achieved and see if those results would be of benefit to this particular prospect.

It creates a closer link between your products and their overall needs and speeds up the whole buying process too.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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