Powerful Advice For The New Sales Person

You can always find a multitude of tips and tricks for sales people. Sales techniques, closing strategies and prospecting avenues abound. However, I have found that usually these pillars of advice pertain to the sales person who has been with their company, at least for some length of time.

I am also guilty of this, in that most of my training and advice, assumes that you have at least some minimal sales experience. Yet, there are those out there who are just jumping into the game, just getting started and face some very different challenges.

Below are some essential tips for the brand new sales person who is just walking in the door.

Become a Customer
If it is at all possible, be a customer or user of your own product or service. Selling at its core, is a transference of feeling. In other words, if I can make you feel the same way I do about this product, then you will want it.

All the training and experience in the world, cannot take the place of true, personal enthusiasm for what you sell. If YOU are personally excited about what you sell, the prospect will see and feel that as well. When the prospect can see that YOU believe…THEY can believe.

If it is not possible to own what you sell, then get with customers. Get their feedback, feelings, and opinions. Get testimonies.

An Advantage Over the Experienced Pros
This is one way that the new, rookie sales person can actually have an advantage over their more experience co-workers. After selling the same product and making the same presentation over and over for years and years, many sales people begin to lose that genuine excitement for their product or service.

Let loose with a childlike passion and joy about representing your product, and you will soar above many experienced pros that have become lacklustre in their sales interactions.

Just Happy to Be Here
In addition to expressing your heartfelt enthusiasm for the product or service, let the customer see and feel how genuinely excited you are about the company you work with. If you have done your due diligence before you went to work for the firm, then you should have confidence and trust that you work for the best company in your industry. Let the prospect know that you believe in the firm, and they will too.

Leverage the Experience of Long-Term Colleagues
Boast of your successful team members. Let the prospect know that yes, YOU are new, but most of the people in your firm have been with the company for years, and have tons of happy, long-term clients. In fact, the longevity of the sales people and their reputation in the market place is the main reason you joined the firm, and you feel confident that you also will be there for the long term!

It Comes From Within
If you are new to the world of selling or just new to the company, there is a lot you have to learn and much growth is in store. There are skills and techniques that you do not know and that you need to know.

However, the old adage is true; people do not care how much you know, until they first know how much you care. Your belief in what you sell and what you do, will carry you as you learn and grow.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

(Image by  Digital Art)

Sales Blog Call to Action

How To Choose The Sales Company That Is Right For You

Sales people can find a plethora of tips and tricks on closing sales, and sales managers can easily locate information on how to find good sales people to work with. Yet, there is not a lot of information for the sales person on how to find a good company to work with. Here are a few tips to help you find that company that will pay off for you, as you pay off for them!

#1 – Caution!
Unfortunately, besides actors and models, sales people are the most mislead group of employment seekers in the world. The sad truth is that there are tons of unsavoury, slip-shod companies selling all kinds of unproven and substandard products and services. These companies prey on new and eager, yet unsuspecting sales people that possess little knowledge of the industry.

These companies often promise pie-in-sky, get-rich-quick schemes that have little or no basis in reality. So as a sales person, the first word is be careful and do not be too quick to believe everything you hear.

#2 – Believe in the Product or Service More Than the Money
The second step in choosing a company to work with is to choose a product or service that you can truly believe in. Only sell something that you would sell to a close loved one, should they be a qualified prospect for the product or service. You have to believe in what you sell and choose the company on that, rather than the potential income.

To choose a company primarily because of the money you think you can make will usually prove to be a serious mistake. See the product or service in your heart before you see the money in your pocket.

#3 – Research
Now, do a lot of research on the company and the entire industry. Not only check the company’s web site, check everything else including complaints against the company, industry laws and future, competition and longevity. Keep in mind that a lot of the information you get from the internet may be bogus, so consider the source of all the information.

#4 – The Numbers
Finally, if the company qualifies to the point where you get an interview, ask the sales management some of these questions where applicable:

a. How long has the average sales person worked with this firm?
b. How long has the longest, most senior sales person been here? No matter how you phrase it, find out about employee turnover. If sales people leave within a few months, there is a problem.
c. What sales support do the sales people receive? How much of their time are sales people able to commit to actual selling, and how much is non-income producing responsibilities?
d. How long is the average sales process from ‘hello’ to check in hand and commission paid?
e. How long is the sales interaction, presentation?
f. What is the closing average for the average sales person?
g. What is the amount of the average sale?
h. How much is the average commission?
i. What is the closing average for setting appointments? How many calls does it take to secure one solid appointment? How many contacts with DMs does it take to set one appointment?

The Essential Questions
Please note that if the management is not intimately familiar with such numbers as closing and other sales performance and activity statistics, consider that a serious red flag and be concerned. If they have to guess or give you hypothetical numbers, watch out. They should be able to give you real data based on actual performance.

With the above type questions, you can figure out what is true about the commission structure and potential income.

As an example, let us say the sales manager told you that you can easily earn £1,000 per week and that most sales people make at least that much. However, from your questions you found that:

1. It takes 20 calls to reach 10 DMs to set one appointment. You realise that at a reasonable 5 or 6 minutes per call, it is likely to take you two hours to set one good appointment. Therefore, in a full day, you can set 4 to 5 appointments.

2. You also find that, including travel, the average sales interaction takes 2 hours. Thus, you can perform maybe 3 or 4 per day.

3. Therefore, if you took 2 days a week and set 10 appointments, you can then run the 10 appointments the other 3 days of the week at 3 or 4 per day. So, you can run 10, and as many as 12 appointments per week.

4. The sales manager also informed you that the closing average is 20% or 1 out of 5 and the average sales commission is £200.

As you can see, the numbers do not add up to what the manager is telling you. If you ran 10 appointments and closed at a 20% rate, that’s only 2 sales at £200 each which is only £400 not £1,000. If you were somehow able to run 16 appointments a week and close at 25%, you still only close 4 sales and you would still come up short.

Of course, that is a generic example, but if you ask the right questions, you can figure out what is real and what is smoke-and-mirrors.

Use caution – don’t believe everything you hear.
Choose a company because you believe in what they sell.
Exercise real due diligence in researching the organisation.
Study the numbers.

Then go to work!

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

(Image by JS Creationzs)

Sales Blog Call to Action

When Should You Let A Sales Person Go?

You can always find much discussion on how to hire top sales people and how to recognise and find people who can be top producers.  However, when is it time to give up, admit your mistake and let a sales person go?  Other than unacceptable performance, dishonesty or blatant unprofessional behaviour, is there a time when you need to fire a sales person?

Sometimes you may need to rid your organisation of a weak link-in-the-chain, not only forthe benefit of the team, but for that sales person as well. Below are three tips on those situations when you need to consider “cutting bait.”

Note: Before ever considering any of the following situations, you first need to make sure that you have done your job—completely.

  • Has this sales person received all of the necessary training?
  • Does the sales person have access to all of the needed sales support tools?
  • Have you done all you can do to properly motivate and lead the sales person?
  • Have you talked to, and more importantly, listened to the sales person?

If you can answer yes to all of the above, then consider watching for the following scenarios.

#1. The Walking Personal Problem
We all have our share of personal problems, and a shortage of money often magnifies them.  However, some people not only appear to have a disproportionate share of problems, but have major difficulty keeping their problems from disrupting their work.  I am not talking about the sales person who has that unfortunate incident here and there.

I am referring to that individual who seems to have some major catastrophe every single week! Every other day, some personal situation has the sales person completely distracted or out of the field entirely.  Understand that it is not a matter of having empathy (or the lack thereof) for the sales person.  If the person is unable to perform and earn a respectable sales person’s wage; then to dismiss the individual is in their best interest as well as yours.

#2: I Did It My Way
In every sales process, there is plenty of room for sales people to be themselves and integrate their own personality and style.  However, there are also areas that your company has decided are standard practice.   For some systems, processes or logistics you have an established S.O.P. (Standard Operating Procedure).   That is, of course until that sales person comes along who is determined to change everything.

I am not referring to that sales professional who thinks out of the box, or that enterprising old pro who likes to try new things.  I am talking about that one that, with little or no experience and knowledge, feels he or she knows better than everyone in the industry knows, and is going to do everything the exact opposite of what the book says.   If they want your position…let them find it at another company.

#3: The Sower of Negative Seed
Occasionally you will have the pleasure to employ that sales person who is a walking pile of negative energy.  That person is pessimistic about being a pessimist.  It may not be too bad if these people could keep their depressing thoughts to themselves.  Invariably though, these naysayers spread their doom and gloom like a religion.

That unconstructive attitude is contagious and can grow in your organisation like a cancer.  It doesn’t matter if this person is a top producer (which is unlikely); you need to jettison this individual straight away.

If you have a sales person who is not performing at least to minimum standards, you are not doing them any justice to keep them on.   Do everyone a favour and allow him or her to seek other employment.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
Bestselling Author, Sales Authority & Speaker On Modern Day Selling Methods

MTD Sales Training

Sales Blog Call to Action

Use Personal Recruiting To Build Your Sales Team

With the advent of the Internet and numerous sites like CareerBuilder and LinkedIn, job searching has become largely electronic.  Yet finding top sales people, especially those who will become long-term loyal assets to your firm, remains a difficult task.

However, with all of our advanced technology, word-of-mouth is still a powerful and effective tool, not only in selling, but in recruiting sales people as well.   When sales people are doing well, making good money and happy in their position, it seems natural that they would tell their friends.   Nevertheless, it does not happen automatically.

Below are a few thoughts to help you focus more on personal recruiting to build your sales team.

Winners Associate with Other Winners
Top sales producers usually have friends who possess like qualities.  As the old adage says, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Chances are your best sales person knows people who are as enthusiastic, hard working and determined as he or she is, and in this economy, the odds that one of those people is looking for a new opportunity are good.

Offer Personal Recruiting Incentives
Offer some incentives for those who refer other sales people for a position with your firm.  Perhaps you give some small inducement for those who submit a qualified resume.  Then, more for those who interview, and even more for those who sign on.  Then you can offer an additional reward for those who refer sales people that you hire and that attain some basic level of performance.

Monthly or Quarterly Recruitment Lunch
Have a regularly scheduled recruitment luncheon or outing, in where members of the sales team invite friends and relatives they feel may have the qualifications and interest to join your firm.

Sales Help Wanted Advertising
In constructing your next ad to hire sales people, get some input from your sales team.  Ask your sales people what type of ad would attract them and people like them.  This will also help sales people to begin thinking about people they know who may be likely candidates for the job.

Help your sales people spread the word to grow their team.  You will build a stronger, more loyal sales force and save some advertising money as well.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
Bestselling Author, Sales Authority & Speaker On Modern Day Selling Methods

MTD Sales Training

Sales Blog Call to Action

6 Qualities Of The Modern Day Sales Professional

You probably know already that I often speak and write about the evolution of the modern-day buyer.

However, simply adapting to some new and advanced techniques is not enough.  Today’s sales professional has to evolve along with the modern-day buyer in every aspect.  So, let’s take a moment and identify some of the qualities needed for today’s modern-day sales professional.

#1:  Today’s Sales Professional is a True Believer
You have to believe wholeheartedly in what you do and sell.  However today, that requirement is more important than ever before.  Today’s consumer is so up to date on your industry and is willing to play you off with the competition, that you need an unwavering conviction in your product, service and company more so now than at any time in the past.

Today’s buyer will test you, like never before.  Current clients threaten to leave; prospects demand more for less, and the economy bites at your profits. If you do not know in your heart that your product, service and pricing is the best value and benefit for the customer, you have a problem.

#2: Today’s Sales Professional is an Expert
Today’s modern consumer is educated and has access to more information about you and what you sell, than ever before in history.   It’s not uncommon for the prospect to know as much or even more than the sales person about their product or service.   Having rudimentary information, experience and skill about what you do is no longer acceptable.  Today you must be a bona-fide expert in your field, which requires hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of study and due diligence.

#3: Today’s Sales Professional is Technologically Advanced
If you are not yet making the most use of current technology you are a dinosaur awaiting extinction.  Things like CRM maximisation, sales process management, time management, multi-media, e-marketing, e-prospecting, and social networking avenues and techniques are no longer a luxury—they are the foundation of your business.

If you are still using sticky-notes to follow up on prospects, a hand-written time and appointment scheduling system and you have no idea of how to integrate your message into sites like LinkedIn; then you are operating in the past.

#4: Today’s Sales Professional Has a Plan
Nothing that you do today as a modern-day sales person should be by sheer fluke.  Everything you do should be part of a sophisticated and well thought out plan, from your daily work schedule, to your sales interaction to your answers to objections.  Today’s professional has all of these things planned out in advance and is never caught by surprise.   If you do not already know exactly what objections you will get, precisely how many telephone calls you need to make next week; how many emails you need to send out or how many proposals you must write to reach your goals, then you have not arrived.

#5: Today’s Sales Professional is a Performance Analyst
In addition to knowing how to gather all of your sales performance data via sophisticated CRM software, you must know what to do with the information.  While today’s modern sales professionals works hard; they work smart.

When sales are off, it is not always the result of not closing enough sales.  In fact, slow sales may not have anything to do with your closing average.  You must know how to analyse your performance to know exactly where you need to make changes or improvements.   Perhaps the problem is the length of response time to web inquirers, or maybe it is that you are having a problem with gatekeeper screens.   Yet still, maybe your lack of sales is due to prospects that stagnate in the sales process that you never get a chance to close.

#6: Today’s Sales Professional Uses Updated Sales Techniques
It is clear that the sales techniques of the past are not as effective as they once were – take cold calling as an example. Today’s sales professional has continued to study and learn new modern sales approaches.  Gone are the days of the smile and dial rhetoric, and the old pitch mentality meant to slam the prospect with benefits.  Today’s professional understands how to uncover problems, expose needs and offer solutions.   The modern sales expert is an advisor.

Today’s sales professional has evolved along with the modern-day buyer, make sure you upgrade your game!

Happy Modern Day Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
Bestselling Author, Sales Authority & Speaker On Modern Day Selling Methods

MTD Sales Training

Sales Blog Call to Action

A Question To Use When Hiring Top Sales People

Hiring the right sales people is a difficult task and this little role playing scenario will help.  Keep in mind that this is not to be used as the only deciding factor in your hiring choice.  We also recommend that you test (with assessments and also during the interview) for competencies, skills, attitude and ability. This is just a useful exercise to test their current mindset and how they currently handle resistence – it’s just a tool that can help you gain a deeper insight into the sales person’s character.

In, “An Effective Way To Identify Top Sales People,” I proposed a role playing situation to use with the sales applicant.  The sales person plays the part of a fire equipment sales person and the interviewer is the prospect.

Sales Person:

“James, based upon your requirements I have determined that the only system that will adequately protect you and your family in the event of a fire is four of our heat detectors and two of the smoke models.  This is because you have so much electronic equipment, that a fire is likely to be one that produces little smoke.  So your fire protection system comes to £1,300.”

The prospect offers some resistance:

“Well, that looks good.  But it is much more than I had in mind.  I was planning on spending closer to £800, maybe £900 tops.  What can you do for me for that much?” 

Now, see how the sales person handles this resistance.

The Typical Response
The typical response you will get from the average sales person is the one who immediately begins to work the math and reduce the offer to meet the prospect’s price. As an example:

“Well, James, what if we went with just two of the heat detectors and two of the smoke detectors?  That would be a total of only £800.  Can we go with that?” 

Potential Integrity Problems: The sales person who quickly chooses the above option could be a problem.  First, you clearly said that the sales person’s proposed offer was the only system that would, “…adequately protect you and your family in the event of a fire…”  Therefore, how can the sales person immediately change the system? Anything other than what was first proposed is obviously inadequate.  If another, lesser system will work, then why did the sales person propose the first system?

Is this the type of sales person that is willing to do anything to make the sale?  Is this a sales person who will look at commissions above the needs of the client?

Listening Skills: Perhaps the sales person never really heard what you said when proposing the role play.  This too can be a problem.  It is likely that the problem is some combination of the two: poor listening skills and professional integrity.

The Second Response
Then, you will get the sales person who tries to get the prospect to raise his price a little in effort to strike a deal.  The sales person will ask you (as the interviewer) if he or she has some flexibility to offer a discount, and then close on a price drop.

“Well, James, we can’t go as low as £800 but let me see if I can get you a better deal.  Could you work with £1,100?”

Price Only Sales Person with Poor Listening Skills
This too can be a problem when it is the sales person’s first choice.  Is this the sales person who, as soon as a prospect says, “Boo…” is ready to drop the price? Also there is a real problem with listening skills here as well. The prospect never said that he could not afford to pay the original £1,300.  All he said was that it was more than he had in mind and asked for a lower price.

The Best Response
The best response you can get from the sales applicant is the one who continues to build the value on the original offer.   You want that sales person who comes up with value building statements and stands firm.

“James, as I said, the system I proposed for you is the only thing that will adequately protect you and your family.  Think of the value of your home and possessions, let alone the safety of your loved ones…”

You’ll see that these sales people will ask questions about the objection to qualify it and to find out more information about it.

The Ultimate Test
When you get that sales person that remains firm and continues to build value and ask further questions…do not give in!  As the prospect, remain solid on your £800 or £900 and do not budge. Test to see if they are an order taker or if they have currently got a good level of negotiation nouse.

Remember, this is only one of the methods used to test the sales person’s CURRENT mindset and approach to selling. You’ll also want to get them to complete assessments and personality tests to get a rounded view but this quick scenario can give you some insight into how they are currently approaching their selling and will give you some more information to work on.

Happy Selling,

Sean

Sean McPheat
Bestselling Author, Sales Authority & Speaker On Modern Day Selling Methods

MTD Sales Training

Sales Blog Call to Action

An Effective Way To Identify Top Sales People

Finding and hiring good people is a challenge in any industry.  However, identifying and hiring people who can become top sales producers is a monumental feat few have been able to achieve with any level of consistency.

However, I have found that this one test, this short role-playing scenario, can help you identify people who have all of the necessary traits that make top producers.  Use this during the interview process and it will give you a deeper insight into the candidate’s personality and help you uncover some diamonds in the rough.

The Concept
This idea is far more sophisticated and modern than the old sales interview role play of, “If you are such a good sales person, then sell me something.”  This role play will help you learn more about the applicant’s disposition in key areas such as integrity and listening skills.  It accomplishes this by posing a challenge to the sales person that is not exactly what it seems.

Below is a generic example of this role play.  Of course you can alter it significantly to fit your industry and selling situation. However, you can use this example as it is with small changes to the wording.

The Role Play
Towards the end of the interview, propose this scenario:

Interviewer:   
Suppose you sell home fire protection equipment: fire alarms, heat and smoke detectors.  You sell two types:

Type A: Heat detectors that sell for £250 each
Type B: Smoke detectors that sell for £150 each

I am the prospect and during the sales interaction you tell me…

“Mr Prospect, I have done a complete and thorough analysis of your needs.  And I have determined that the only system that will adequately protect you and your family in the event of a fire is four of our heat detectors and two of the smoke models.  This is because you have so much electronic equipment, that a fire is likely to be one that produces little smoke.  So your fire protection system comes to £1,300.”

As the prospect I answer with this objection:

“Well, that looks good.  But it is much more than I had in mind.  I was planning on spending closer to £800, maybe £900 tops.  What can you do for me for that much?” 

How would you handle that objection?

The Answer
Now you have the sales person role play his or her answer to the objection with you.  The key is that the sales person will do whatever he or she can to “sell” you and close the sale (since this is an interview for a sales position).  However, how the sales person goes about answering this objection, speaks volumes about his or her personality, honesty, professionalism and true potential.

Three Responses
You will usually get one of three types of responses to the above role playing objection:

1. The sales person who immediately begins to work the math and discount or change the offer to meet the prospect’s price.

2. The sales person who attempts to get the prospect to come up a little, as he or she slightly lowers the pricing or the offer to find some middle ground.

3. The sales person who refuses to drop the price or alter the offer in any way, and continues to build value and close on the original offer at the original quoted price.

What does each response say about the salesperson?

Check out the next posting on: Nov 11, 2011:
– The Ultimate Test For Hiring Top Sales People

Happy Selling,

Sean

Sean McPheat
Bestselling Author, Sales Authority & Speaker On Modern Day Selling Methods

MTD Sales Training

Sales Blog Call to Action

How To Make A Sales Hiring Decision

I’ve been receiving a lot of CV’s lately from sales professionals who have either been made redundant who like what we do and want to work for MTD!

A lot of them talk a good game and have very impressive CV’s but who do you choose?

And if you’ve been recruiting for sales positions then you probably know what I mean.

So how do you make your hiring decision?

What do you base your decision on?

Well, I’ve written a lot about what criteria you should use for making your sales recruitment decisions here but when all is said and done you need to ask yourself one question:

“Would you mind if this person worked for your biggest competitor?”

Answering that question will enlighten you as to whether you want to take this sales person on.

Try it!

It works like a treat!

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training
MTD Sales Blog

Sales Blog Call to Action