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Lack Of Sales Getting You Down? Try This…

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

Stressed Young Businessman at OfficeI had an email from a salesperson recently, saying that he had (in his words) “become downhearted, demotivated and discouraged” about his job, as he wasn’t hitting targets and his boss was always on his back and did I have any tips for him?

I wrote back and helped him to determine what he could do to deal with this situation, and I’ll share some of the ideas here.

Basically, feeling discouraged and demotivated normally occurs when you are going through a bad patch. Nothing new there – but what perpetuates it is what you focus on.

For example, if I read the newspapers for my daily motivational push, I would soon be down in the dumps because of what they always seem to focus on…bad news sells, as they say.

When you are going through a bad spell, you tend to keep your focus on what is going wrong, the poor results you’re achieving and the rejections you constantly keep getting.

It might sound profound and pie-in-the-sky, but you have to be focusing on your purpose, that is, the significant reasons why you are doing what you’re doing. What gives you your passion? What makes you see your future as something to look forward to? Your purpose has to be bigger than the current results you’re getting. If it isn’t, you will simply equate your whole persona with things that are out of your control.

There’s one thing that normally drives bad results, and that is the inability to take personal responsibility for what is happening in your job. If you check back, you’ll see that your successes were mainly down to you putting the effort in, making the calls, seeing the right people, identifying the common objections, negotiating well and being positive about gaining commitments.

When things start to go badly, you may well notice that most of the reasons are put down to things outside of your control being against you. In other words, you are happy to take the accolades when things go well, but tend to blame others when things go poorly.

Learn from past successes. Identify what you did right then and see how you can apply those ideals in the future. You need to make plans that you can have control over.

Remember how that word is actually broken down: dis-courage-ment. Yes, it takes courage to look to the future, accept responsibility for what is happening now and identify what can change to make it something you could start looking forward to.

Your focus has to be on what you can do to help others, rather than moping around or blaming everything else for your situation. Concentrate on how you can get your biggest and best customers to be even better than they are now. Concentrate on success. Whatever problems you think you may be facing will probably fade into insignificance when you see the much larger problems your customers are facing, and then you can switch perspectives to help them overcome the challenges, which in turn will help you refocus on yours.

Discouragement and demotivation are just attitudes that you choose to display through focusing on what’s wrong. I’m not suggesting you behave Pollyanna-ish and close your eyes to what’s really going on. No, when you see weeds in the garden, don’t ignore them…do what needs to be done and get on with life.

Focus instead on what action needs to be carried out to get yourself back up and running. Action is the antidote to misery and when you think of what needs to be done and how you can do it, you create a more positive mind-set and start taking more courage to turn things around and get moving in the right direction.

I sent an email back to that salesperson, and received a nice message back, thanking me for my uplifting words. Hopefully, they will help him, and you, to overcome any discouragement in the future.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Sales Tips | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How To Turn Failure Into Success In Sales

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

optionsLet me say something that, on the face of it, may sound puzzling.

You learn more when things are going badly than when they are going well.

Go on, admit it…that’s an interesting statement (even if you don’t agree with it!)

What I’m referring to is the fact that no-one goes through life being successful every time. The only way you can avoid failure is if you stay in bed all the time. And even then you might fail to get up in time to get to the loo! (oops, failed again!)

Do you know anyone who has never failed? Nor do I. So why are we so worried about failure?

Actually, we’re worried about failing because of the consequences. We might lose the sale or get a rollicking from the boss or miss out on a promotion. Yes, the consequences of failure can often be hurtful. However, our attitude towards failure can often make the difference in the future.

As the saying goes, ‘It’s not the falling over that’s the problem….it’s the not getting up again that causes the problems.’

I like that quote because it proves that actions are the remedy to failure. A failure only remains a failure if you don’t learn something from it. If you learn something, it’s an outcome that won’t be repeated, so it’s not classed as a failure.

So what can you learn when things go wrong?

You learn what not to do next time. You learn how that particular person needs to be approached in the future. You learn how to present better, matching product benefits with customer needs. You learn what will make that person happy. And you learn the difficulties that can be caused to a client if we get our service wrong.

In other words, if you learn from when things go wrong, the chances of the same thing happening again are vastly reduced.

Compare that with what you learn when things are going swimmingly.

You might see a long-time prospect become a new client. Doesn’t that feel good? Of course! Though if you tried the same technique with a different prospect, you might not get the same response.

No, the truth is that you can learn better lessons when things go wrong, because you can identify the rationale that caused you to make the mistake and you can ensure you put in strategies so it doesn’t happen again.

An old boss of mine said to me, ‘Fail often. At least I know you’re trying. But make sure you learn your lessons well. I’d rather that than you try nothing in case you fail.’

I’ve always remembered that, as it has given me the confidence to try out things that I might not have done before. If I apply the idea that you should learn from failures, it guarantees I won’t go down the wrong road twice.

Michael Jordan once said, ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’. By taking the shot, missing, re-aligning, matching up, learning from what went wrong and applying those lessons, we stand a much better chance of hitting the next shot successfully.

Applying that dogma to sales, we see lots of failures magnified against the backdrop of poor results and we think we will never get better. On the contrary, if we examine the way things are done and make sure they don’t get repeated in the same way, we can’t help but get better and aim higher.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Sales Mindset | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How Do You Respond To ‘Send Me More Information’?

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

Businessman holding paper with printed question markSo you’ve finally got through to the decision-maker and had some form of conversation with them. They seem interested in what you have to offer. You get a tiny thrill of excitement, as you think this could actually be a sale in the offing.

Then they say those deflating words that make your heart sink. “OK send me a brochure or some info in the post and I’ll take a look”.

There could be many reasons why they want the information. They could genuinely want to know more before they make a decision; they might need to clarify some things before they take it further; they may be comparing other solutions and want the information to make that comparison; or they may be trying to end the call politely, just to get you off the phone.

You may not know at this stage, so it’s important you get some clarification.

Firstly, agree with what they have requested. “I’d be happy to send some information”

This maintains the ‘agreement-frame’ that you will have built up with the prospect.

Next, clarify exactly what information you will be sending. “So I don’t waste your time, exactly what would you like me to send and what will it enable you to do?”

This will help you to know what to send and also why they want it. You’re looking for them to use words like “we want to explore…..achieve…..solve….avoid….secure….”

These action verbs show you they’re serious about what they want to achieve and how the information will help them improve things from their perspective. If they say something along the lines of ‘Just send whatever you’ve got’, be aware this may not be a real need and you may want to probe a little deeper to see if the request is legitimate.

As soon as you’ve ascertained the reason for the request, you can confirm what information you will be sending through and also what the prospect will be doing with it. It also gives you a reason for calling back. It could go something like;

“OK, I’ve got some valuable information along with some testimonials that will help you in making your decisions, Mr Prospect. I’ll put it in tonight’s post to you, first-class. Let’s assume you’ve looked through the information. What will your next steps be?”

This confirms the tasks you will carry out and by when they should receive the information. It also helps you assess the next stages and determines the level of interest of the prospect. You can confirm what your next stages will be, so the prospect will be expecting your follow-up call or email.

Gaining commitment to the next stage is important here, as you don’t want to just send out information for the sake of it. That’s costly and could raise hopes when none really exist.

You need to identify the opportunities and show that you exist as a potential partner rather than just a possible supplier.

Depending on the prospect’s answer to your ‘next steps’ question, you can determine the level of interest and highlight what will happen next.

Something like, “Naturally, you’ll have questions related to the information, so I’d like to give you the opportunity to have those questions answered. If we schedule a call this time next week for a no-obligation assessment, we can see how this solution could fit in with your needs” could be a good step forward.

So, clarify why the prospect wants the information, specify exactly what they want it for so you can send the correct details, identify what they will be doing with the information and then plan the follow-up. This process will give you the best chance of success after the prospect has made a simple request.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Objection Handling | Leave a comment

How To Be Specific When Locking Down The Customer’s Needs

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Do You Know Your Customers?Have you ever been in a discussion with a prospect and felt that you weren’t on  the same wavelength, or your understanding of their needs was too vague to button down?

Have there been situations where you possibly misunderstood their meaning and came to conclusions that were not accurate?

Don’t worry, it happens every day, and it’s often caused by the conversation being too generic and there being a lack of clarity in what’s being discussed. As humans, we try to make sense out of what is being said by matching them against things we have experienced before.

For example, if I was to say the words ‘increased productivity’ to you, what would your immediate reaction be? Probably an improvement in the amount or quantity of what was being produced. But by how much, exactly? The term used is too generic or general to answer that question.

The same goes for words like ‘partnership’, ‘quality’, ‘streamlining’, ‘reduction’ and such-like. When we use these expressions, we have an idea of what we mean and, if requested, would be able to specify the meaning. However, we often think that others know what we mean because we know what we mean.

It is important that we get the prospect to go from general to specific by highlighting the concept that is being generalised and focussing in on the meaning so it becomes more specific.

Here are some examples of generalities:

“We’ve been trying for some time to reduce costs, but have only been partly successful” 

“If we could improve the sales processes, I’m sure we’d see improvements pretty quickly” 

“I really want to develop a partnership rather than just have a supplier relationship”

In each of these, you’ll see the need to get the prospect to be more specific. In the first example, the prospect will know what efforts they’ve made (trying), how long they’ve been trying (some time), how much they have to save (reduce costs) and exactly what they’ve achieved so far (partly successful).

Unfortunately, your none the wiser, so it would be necessary for you to focus in on the meaning behind one or more of these generalities.

Examples of your questions may include:

“When you say ‘trying’, can you give me an idea of what you’ve done so far and the impact it has had on reducing costs?” 

“You mentioned ‘improving the sales processes’. Exactly what improvements are you referring to and what improvements would you looking for?”

“We like to work with customers in that way too. Could you let me know specifically what you mean by ‘partnership’ as it’s important we’re talking about the same thing here.”

Each of these questions take your customer or prospect’s thinking to a more focused, detailed and specific level. The answers will help you clarify the position your customer is at and what possible changes you could help them achieve in the future.

Getting the conversation from generic to specific will help you develop solutions that will take your prospect’s business further and quicker because you don’t have to rely on mind-reading to assess what your prospect actually wants or means. That will develop your understanding quicker and with more accuracy than if you tried guessing what those generic terms actually meant.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Communication Skills | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How These 4 Vision Questions Stimulate Your Customer’s Thinking

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

e27555ad-6027-48c6-a297-44924cdae311When in conversation with your customer or prospect, there are many things said that are important but maybe overlooked.

This happens in every conversation we have, because the normal flow of conversation means that we are discussing ideas, concepts and principles that mean different things to different people.

Every customer wants to have a better future for themselves and their businesses and often we hear these expressed in certain ways during our conversations but we may miss them because of our inability to listen intently and think of what we want to say, both at the same time.

Identifying that better future for the customer is vital if we are to create a need that can be fulfilled by your products and services.

It’s possible that you could outline exactly what the future will be for your prospect’s company if they utilised your services.

However, we know that we are more convinced if we convince ourselves, rather than being persuaded by someone else. This is where the concept of Vision Questions comes in nicely.

Vision questions are exactly what you might expect them to be, but it’s the wording and timing that makes them so powerful. Look at these examples to see how the future can be planned out in advance.

“How do you see the department should be set-up in two or three years’ time to match and beat the competitive elements you mentioned?” 

“You said that improving the processes would save around £50,000 in the first 6 months. What impact, other than financial, would that have on your future progress?” 

“If those savings we discussed were made over the next three years, what would that allow you and your company to do differently?” 

“With those changes you are proposing, how will that affect your future career opportunities within the company?”

Each of these questions enables the prospect to think about the differences a better future would have on themselves, their department and the company as a whole.

Vision Questions enable you to forecast a better time in the future and also equate your solutions to that better state.

You probably don’t need to ask more than one or two of these type of questions to uncover a real desire or need within the decision-maker(s). They are powerful enough to drive a decision pretty quickly, but be careful not to make them sound too patronising, or you may undo the good that these questions can accomplish.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Communication Skills | Tagged , | Leave a comment