Building sales rapport

Use These 5 Icebreakers To Gain The Most Info From Your Prospect

April 21, 2015

Building sales rapportWhen you have your first meeting with your new prospect, it is vital that you make a good impression, as this will create the impact that will determine the opinion of the prospect to both you and your products or services.

Having witnessed quite a few initial meetings myself, it often puzzles me why salespeople don’t think this stage of the sales process through more thoroughly, as it could make or break the relationship there and then.

Oftentimes, when a salesperson comes into our office, I overhear their opening ‘pitch’ from my office, and it sometimes makes me cringe.

  • What do you do to get their attention?
  • How do you make them think deeply?
  • What’s the best way to open the conversation?

These are questions that you should be thinking about long before you meet and greet the new prospect.

Imagine you’re meeting in their office for the first time. You’ve spoken to them on the phone and via email, and you’ve done your searches on their company profile through various search engines.

You’ve checked out their profile on LinkedIn and maybe even connected up.

Then how can you use your preparation to make a big impression?

After the usual small talk to build rapport, it’s time to get down to business. Read these typical opening statements and see what kind of impression they would make:

  • “So, Mr Prospect, how long has Acme Ltd been in business?”
  • “So, Mr Prospect, I’ve bought along a couple of samples, so would it be OK if I showed you how they work?”
  • “So, Mr Prospect, can you tell me your biggest problems that keep you awake at night?”

On the face of it, these opening statements don’t seem too bad. They are taking you into the business part of the meeting and act as a bridge to get you both mentally prepared to discuss what you’re really there for.

But they don’t make a BIG impression. They don’t make the prospect sit up and take notice. The first example above shows you’ve done no homework. The second makes it obvious that you’re only interested in showing up and throwing up. And the third is a cliched question that is too deep and intrusive in the first few seconds of the discussion.

So, what would be the best way to get into the meat of the meeting? What can you say that will make the prospect really want to converse with you?

Here are some examples:

  • “Mr Prospect, as you know, it’s important that I get to know something about your business first so we help you achieve your goals. Is it OK for me to ask a few questions first?”
  • “Mr Prospect, I’ve come prepared to show you how we can help ACME Ltd to achieve their goals for the future, but I have a few questions first, the answers to which will help me see how we can help you best. Is that OK?”
  • “Mr Prospect, my research showed that you’ve weathered the economic storm quite well and things are beginning to pick up now. You’ve opening two new offices and taken on over 20 new workers. May I start by asking what is driving this improvement and how you see things developing in the next year or two?”
  • “Mr Prospect, when I researched your company, I found a number of interesting facts that threw up a few questions. Are you OK if I share that information and ask you those questions?”
  • “Mr Prospect, I saw in the trade press that the operation is beginning to consolidate and that you’re interested in taking on more people. That sounds like it’s the sign of advancing sales. May I ask, what do you see happening to to sales in the next few months? Your answer will help me to see if, and how, we could assist you in selling more.”

What you’ll notice about these examples is that they politely enter the sales process by asking for information or confirmation before even thinking about talking about your products.

They put the prospect at ease, while showing them that you’re interested in their business.

They impress upon the prospect that you have carried out research before visiting. It shows that you’ve done your homework and that they don’t have to start from scratch in getting you up to speed with what’s happening.

This first impression is vital to get the prospect on your side and it enables you to advance the discussions much quicker than if you were simply to start with details of your company or products.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

not very sales savvy

4 Steps To Become More ‘Sales Savvy’

April 16, 2015

Not sales savvyBeing sales savvy is to have the business acumen, practical knowledge and active ability to carry out your sales job effectively and efficiently.

Most salespeople would mark themselves fairly high when asked if they are savvy when it comes to selling.

Very few would admit they don’t know how to promote their products or are unable to improve in their overall skill-sets.

Increasing your savvy-ness in sales will always be beneficial, as you will provide additional value at every step of the customer journey.

Here are some steps you can take to increase your abilities and become more savvy:

Become a highly-educated sales professional

This doesn’t mean going back to high school or university; it means finding out as much about your products and services as you possibly can. Then it means identifying how your customers can benefit from them. Finally it means knowing how your customers’ business can improve by using your services.

By being the expert in your area of responsibility, you encourage more and more businesses to approach you because of the benefits you will bring them.

Become a person of influence

You need to get your name known widely by writing articles, joining networking groups, adding information to LinkedIn and giving people reasons to see you as influential. To influence people, you need to become valuable to them. This means you show them how being a business partner with them will increase their productivity or productivity. Your influence is increased by showing them the results you have gained with other similar companies or businesses within the same industry. Buyers are more willing to discuss opportunities if they see you as an asset to their business, rather than a supplier of goods and services

Become street-smart in everything you do

This means recognising what works and what doesn’t, and learning from what does and what doesn’t. Savvy salespeople don’t ever fail; they learn so that they don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over. That isn’t failure…it’s improving at every step. You need to recognise how what you do gets the results you want. Then you need to see how each small step can be improved or corrected so that you progress closer and closer to your goals

Become a person that is results-oriented

Most salespeople become so engrossed in the actions they need to carry out that they miss seeing the big picture and get dragged down into how many calls they need to make or how many prospects haven’t been contacted. Instead, work on the results you are required to achieve, identify the best use of your time to achieve those goals and create opportunities to improve results by analysing the quality of the tasks you carry out in the time available rather than just hitting numbers. I’d rather my team get sales results than hit a call target.

Becoming smarter by becoming more sales savvy is a great way to improve your attitude and your abilities in every facet of your job. By highlighting how you can always be on the lookout to increase this key skill will give you plenty of opportunities to see success.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

key performance indicators

Are Your KPI’s In The Way Of Your KRA’s?

April 14, 2015

Key Performance IndicatorMost salespeople we train know they need to achieve their KPI’s, as this is the key measurement against which their performance is analysed.

Normally these performance areas revolve around the number of calls they need to make, the amount of leads they need to generate or the time spent on each lead.

It is necessary to have these performance indicators so you can identify where your time is most usefully spent and they give your management the opportunity to see where development needs are required.

However, sometimes we see salespeople so bogged down with indicators that they are either impossible to achieve fully or there are so many of them that it’s simply impossible for them all to be ‘key’ indicators. In fact, one salesperson told one of my trainers he had over 50 KPI’s he had to meet.

That seems nonsensical to me, as no-one can spend their time hoping to achieve that number of goals. So instead, I ask my team to concentrate on KRA’s, that is, Key Result Areas.

Now, it may sound pedantic or petty, but there really is a big difference between the two.

Take, for example, the Call-Centre KPI of answering the phone within a certain number of rings, or the salesperson KPI of calling so many prospects in a week. It’s entirely plausible for these KPI’s to be hit every single time; yet the outcome may not be a satisfied customer or a new client.

I pay my guys on the number of clients they close because that is when we get the money rolling in. The fact they answer the phones quickly doesn’t always necessarily close the deal. Granted, not answering the phone quickly or professionally may lose the deal but it doesn’t automatically close it.

So, I ask my team to concentrate on results. I call these the ‘What to achieve’ goals, or the Key Result Areas. What they do to achieve them are called the ‘How to Achieve’ steps.

The KRA’s are the results I want. The KPI’s are the steps to achieve them.

I’ve often found that if I give a team member a KRA, they find different ways or steps to achieve them, without being constrained by a series of KPI’s.

I use KPI’s whenever a team member falls short of a target, so they can get back on track. But I’d rather them get 5 sales from 15 calls than 2 sales from 50 calls. They may hit the KPI of making 50 calls, but if they don’t get the results I want, it could be constituted a waste of valuable time. Quality beats quantity every time.

So, don’t let your KPI’s get in the way of your KRA’s. Ensure they help you achieve what you need rather than just be there so you can say you’ve been efficient. Efficiency doesn’t always equal effectiveness.

You may find you become more creative and innovative by aiming for your fewer Key Result Areas than for your greater Key Performance Indices.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

sales out of nothing

Can You Create Selling Opportunities Out Of Nothing?

April 9, 2015

Sales out of nothingOne of the keys to opening the door to a buyer’s wallet is to determine the position they are in at this moment, and how that position could change in the future.

It’s really important to ascertain the ‘mode’ that a buyer is in, because if we try to ‘pitch’ our product or service to someone who is in the wrong mode, then no amount of salesmanship will succeed.

We need to determine which of three modes the buyer might be in at present:

The ‘OK with my current position’ mode

This is where the potential buyer is happy with their current position and doesn’t need to change

The ‘alternative’ mode

This is where the potential buyer recognises that their current solution doesn’t fit their current or future needs and is actively looking for something different

The ‘dissatisfaction’ mode

This is where the potential buyer may be dissatisfied with the current situation but is not actively seeking an alternative.

Depending on which mode the buyer is in will determine the the price a buyer is willing to pay for your services.

Buyers will pay the value they associate between their current position and their next buying mode.

If the buyer is in the ‘OK now’ mode, the difference between what they have now and your solution is normally too high for them to consider buying from you.

When the buyer recognises that the solution they now have doesn’t meet their needs, they move into the ‘dissatisfaction’ mode. This means that the value of the difference between their current situation and what you provide decreases, and they become a potential buyer.

They see the perceived value of your services as higher than when they are OK with their current position. The value they see you offering means they are more likely to give you a higher profit margin because they associate your product with success for them or their business.

When you make greater profits, you are able to assign more sales resources to servicing the needs of these clients. So, you create a spiral of ‘expectations’ that are met with the quality of your back up service.

This continues to add value to the relationship with the new client and hence takes them out of the ‘dissatisfaction’ mode and into the ‘OK’ mode, meaning they will be less prone to leaving you and going with the competition.

How do you get someone to move from an ‘OK’ mode to one of dissatisfaction’?

You should raise the buyer’s expectation of how his current solution should be performing.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Show him how your product can make his business more successful (better productivity, less downtime, greater profit opportunity, etc)
  • Show the buyer how your solution can help him stay ahead of his competitors (offering a better solution at a lower price or at greater value, etc)
  • Show the buyer how your company can be a more desirable partner to his business in the long run, so that it increases your value to him even if they are in the ‘OK’ mode at the moment

All three of these steps will encourage the potential buyer to think of your solution when they have any dissatisfaction with their current position. Not all potential buyers are in the market right now. Where you need to be is in the buyer’s mind when they are ready to change.

That’s when they are in the ‘dissatisfied’ mode and when your solution will make everything ‘OK’.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

influencing skills

6 Quick Ways To Improve Your Influencing Skills

April 7, 2015

hypnotistMany of our delegates on our sales workshops want to improve or increase their influencing skills because they want to impress potential buyers into buying from them.

This is natural, because we want to give reasons to buy and hence gain more opportunities.

The skills we need to influence or persuade others doesn’t have to be forceful or manipulative.

In Robert Cialdini’s book ‘Influence: The psychology of persuasion’, he sets out six specific techniques that will help us influence others when done ethically and with honesty.

These six will help us achieve influence because the potential buyer doesn’t feel manipulated; instead, he feels it’s the right thing to do.

The first technique is ‘reciprocity’. This is a common law in human nature. If we are given something, we feel obliged to return the favour. So, if you are able to give of your time and expertise to help a potential; buyer, they feel that they have to, in some way, reciprocate.

This obviously doesn’t mean that they view it as a bribe. As soon as the buyer senses we are doing something for ulterior motives, he will feel under obligation and will probably resist. But when the value is seen as honestly given, they are more likely to see you as a benefit to their business.

Technique two is known as ‘commitment or consistency’. Here, you need to have strong belief that your products and services can benefit your customers and their businesses. You need to look and act professionally at all times with these buyers so they recognise a high degree of value associated with personal and intellectual strength. By displaying this confidence and strength of character, you increase the value your are perceived to give.

The third idea is ‘social proof’. This means that people will do something if they see that others are doing it and benefitting from it as well. When buyers see that other companies of similar size to them in industries similar to theirs are succeeding with your products, they are more likely to see the benefits themselves and buy into your solutions.

Third=party testimonials on video, statistics on how others have improved, case histories on what others have done to succeed with your services are all examples of social proof.

Then, there’s ‘likability’. Jeffrey Gittomer says that ‘if you’re not likable, get out of sales!’ and there’s some evidence behind the truth of that tongue-in-cheek statement. We all know that people do business with people they like and trust. So, we need to recognise things that will make us likable to others and practice these often and with sincerity.

Following on is the level of ‘authority’ that you display. If you come across as an expert on your industry, you are more likely to be listened to. Identify a subject that is close to your potential buyers’ hearts and write an article on it. Share it on Facebook, link to it on Twitter, and place it on all your group sites on LinkedIn. Create an infographic about it and get it published.

The more people who see your articles and share them with others, the more likely it is that you get known as an authority in your business and industry.

Lastly, Cialdini speaks of ‘scarcity’. Anything scarce is perceived as having a high value, as you will recall if you’ve ever been gasping for air while in the swimming pool, or dying for a drink on a hot day!

Cialdini states that ‘not only do we want the same item more when it’s scarce, we want it most when we are in competition for it’.

Witness the queues outside the shops on ‘Black Friday’. See the clamour in the Apple stores when a new product is launched. Notice how advertisers use the ‘Hurry, last few available’ strapline when they want to entice customers.

Scarcity can be used if you are able to show the benefits of a limited edition model or a product that you can’t get many of. Identify how the specific buyer could benefit from this and how the competition would love to get their hands on it too. This will increase its perceived value and create more interest.

Cialdini’s six principles offer an insight into human dynamics and can be used with integrity within sales if you are attempting to influence buyers’ decision-making processes.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

attract convert retain customers

3 Quick Tips On Building Long Term Client Relationships

April 2, 2015

Customer retentionWhenever we discuss salespeople’s skill-sets and the development of such, we always get round to the power of building relationships and the long-term benefits of maintaining and sustaining the connections with clients.

The value of doing so has been covered many times, and it is always advantageous to revisit the reasons why these long-term networks can improve profitability and productivity alike.

While we know it’s important to keep these relationships going, how do we start them in the first place? What can we do to preserve the relationship and build trust so that the sales just keep on coming?

Here are three of the best tips for this:

Identify what you customer wants from you that will support their long-term goals

Very often, we concentrate on how we can sell more to customers through improved quality of products or offering discounts for multiple sales and the like. However, it might be that the customer needs more specific areas of support in maintaining their business interests with their customers.

Here, you would be better off looking at how you can support their efforts and long-term goals by identifying the level of service they require from you to accommodate the increase in performance they are requiring. So ask questions like, “What can I do for you that will improve your productivity with your customers? How can we support your marketing or sales efforts so that it is easier for you to break into new markets?”

The more assistance you give to clients that helps them achieve their goals, the more likely it will be that their improved results will be down to you. Hence, they’ll associate you with their success in the future.

Build up a network of supporters within the customer’s business

If you are only talking to the buyer or the person responsible for making final decisions, you run the risk of being held ransom whenever there’s a need for changes. That one person may hold all the purse-strings or they may be the only decision-maker that has the power to use your services.

It’s much better to get to know others within the business, networking with them to see what other people’s goals are in working with a supplier. You are then able to spread your influence throughout the company, rather than putting all your proverbial eggs in the one basket.

Determine who would be the best contact in accounts. Identify who in production would be an ally of yours. Seek out the best person in the marketing department who will be your friend when it comes to building relationships at a sales level.

The more you spread the word around the company about your usefulness, the less likely it is for one person to make or break your relationships.

Make the customer more profitable using your company than not using you (and prove it!)

It may be beneficial for a customer to buy from you when you discount your products once. But if you want to maintain business, you need to prove how your products and services are actually affecting their results.

If you sell photocopiers, you need to prove how much extra savings your thousands of copies are actually making them over competitors’ solutions.

If you are selling consulting services, you need to prove the value of your services and build your reputation on what future opportunities might occur when using you.

Building reasons why the customer or their business is better off using you gives compelling reasons for them to use you again and again. Repetition is the key to gaining further business, so create chances to prove how your services are improving results, in whatever ways are important for the customer.

By identifying what you can do to activate the ‘repeat-business’ switch in your buyer’s mind, you are building reasons for them to stay with you and increase opportunities to maintain the account for the long-term.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Customer Engagement

How To Improve Your Lead Engagement Process

March 31, 2015

Engage leadsThere’s more to lead generation than just cold calling.

Nowadays most companies have an inside sales team of some sorts that react to incoming calls and other engagement opportunities.

In today’s world, it’s necessary for you to combine your outgoing strategic prospecting with identifying ways to engage with people who are providing you with incoming leads.

It’s the engagement of the lead that should determine the time, effort and creativity you put into dealing with it. The more engaged the prospect is with your company, the greater the chances of helping them learn how you can help their business.

Examples of this engagement could include:

  • They visit your website and make an enquiry

A quick response to this kind of engagement will set the expectations of the prospect. If you can get back to them while they are still on your website then even better!

  • They opened your unsolicited email

The research shows that the percentage of people who open these emails is in single figures, so they may be the ones who are really interested or curious. A straightforward ‘thanks for your interest’ email back may open up some more opportunities, then a follow-up with ‘we have helped companies like yours, so maybe we can help you too’ might open up a few more.

  • They typed in a relevant key phrase for your business into social media

This will help you to detect proactively what they are looking for. A simple question on social media may well lead to something more, especially if you responded in a friendly manner rather than just making a sales pitch. Something like ‘Hey there, if you want to know more about this xxx, just let me know’ won’t put any pressure on; it may be the answer they were looking for.

  • Someone may mention your company on social media

Whether it’s good or bad news, it is a prospective customer who made the link. If it’s because of a bad experience, being able to turn it round quickly could make a real difference to their future buying process. If it’s a good mention, it’s an idea to thank that person and see if there’s any way you can encourage them to look further at your company

  • They might be following your company, you or your Chief Exec on Twitter

What a great way to show your ability to assist them in knowledge or background of your company or products. No need to do overt selling; just add valuable information to the twitter feed so they feel you are interested in them, rather than just trying to get their money

  • They might request to link up with you on LinkedIn

Always, always thank them for their request and ask how you could be helpful in the future to them. The fact they have requested to link up with you rather than the other way round, shows a definite interest in wanting to stay in touch. Don’t just jump in after connecting with a brochure-type sales pitch; instead, send them items of value for their industry or their specific company. That way, you will show them it was a good idea to link up and it won’t run the risk of being just another dead number in your LinkedIn profile

  • They download one of your eBooks, comment on your blog or like your Facebook page

These are great opportunities to build your prospect base. Thank the person as soon as you see it. Identify the level they work at within their company. See what else you have that might be of interest to them. Their response will have been for some ‘stand-out’ reason, so it will be effective to follow up their interest.

As I said, you need to check out the level of engagement the prospect has with you.

Remember, these are incoming leads from people who have expressed some kind of interest in you or your products and have done something pro-active to tell you as such.

These kind of leads will outweigh any cold-calling leads any day, so make sure your systems allow you to find out about and follow-up on these leads of gold.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

following stale leads

The 23 Word Email To Shake Up Stale Deals – Infographic

March 26, 2015

sales man no leadsWe’ve all been there before – those deals that have gone all stale and quiet.

It can’t be a coincidence that every time you call the once keen prospect – they’re away from their desk, on another line or in meetings!

You’ve called and emailed to the point where any more would deem you a pest!

So, how do you re-engage with these prospects?

Below, the infographic ‘The 23 Word Email To Shake Up Stale Deals’ highlights exactly that! This 23 word email is ideal for re-engaging and igniting those stale deals!

Stale Deal Infographic


Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)