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Why Features & Benefits Don’t Work in Today’s World

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

ID-10036035 (2)How many times have you heard that you shouldn’t just present features of your product, but you should also reiterate how those features benefit the prospect?

It has been the staple diet of most salespeople over decades of selling, and is used in most sales interactions.

However, what if the benefit isn’t?

That is, what if one of the benefits highlighted on one of your products actually isn’t of any use to the prospect? What does it then become? Yes, a useless feature that adds no value to the prospect and probably makes them want the price reducing.

For example, if you heard this interaction between a salesperson and a customer, what does it prove?

Salesperson: Yes, our new WX model has great acceleration, which means it can get you out of trouble if an accident is imminent, and get you away from the lights quicker than anyone else!

Customer: Mmm, actually my boy-racer days are long-gone, and economy is much more important to me these days, so the great acceleration figures don’t interest me. Sorry, I’ll look at something else.

Benefits always are product-related and can often just sound as bland as the product features, especially if they don’t relate to the customer’s real needs or wants.

Instead, identify what your product or service’s unique strengths are and how they relate to the specific concepts that are important and valuable to that specific client at that moment.

Features and benefits only work when customers actually recognise and accept the value of the benefit to their situation. In the above illustration, the acceleration in the car was not only a non-benefit to the customer, but it also caused him to re-evaluate whether he wanted the product at all.

What you need to find is the value proposition that means most to this customer and then talk about that proposition.

Is the customer interested in long-term, fixed-rate savings for his family’s future? Then highlight the stability of the portfolio you are offering, its consistent returns and the stable interest rate it offers.

Is the customer willing to take a risk and go for the advantageous higher returns? Then highlight the better returns of a different portfolio, and how you could help him mitigate the risks by putting some money aside in a different plan as well as building up a nice nest-egg for the future.

The benefits will only be beneficial if they appeal to the criteria that the individual sees as important to them.

So, identify what unique strengths your company’s offerings have for specific situations. If it’s possible that you are able to see a niche in a particular market, you may be able to offer strengths that would hit a market opportunity others haven’t yet tapped into.

Those unique strengths can be made into benefits that appeal to companies or individuals who have specified needs and to whom the benefits can be laser-beamed into their unique situation. By recognising that features and benefits are now just too generic for today’s business world, you create an offering that is right for the particular market and build a reputation for knowing a business’s real reason for choosing a solution – unique needs and wants for their unique customer base.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com
(Image by renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Posted in Prospecting | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Objections: Why They Occur & How You Can Prevent Them In The First Place

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

ID-10088853 (2)If there is one question that occurs the most on our sales programmes, it has to revolve around dealing with objections. Many delegates say that if they could just have the magic wand to overcome objections, they would love their job. But because salespeople allow objections to be raised in the first place, they face the uphill task of having to deal with them head-on.

In fact, think of the language used when referring to objections; ‘deal with them’, ‘overcome them’, get round them’, ‘blast through them’. Boy, it sounds like a real battle before you even start!

Why do they occur? Easy, really. It’s because the decision-maker cannot realistically see the value or worth of buying over the price that is being charged.

The equation is simple: V minus P

Here, V = Value and P = Price. For the decision to be made in your favour, perceived value in the buyer’s eyes has to be greater than the price or cost of making that choice.

Remember, value is in the eye of the buyer, so if one person thinks that item is worth the price and another doesn’t, the difference in viewpoint will affect the decision.

For example, how much would you pay for a small bottle of water?

You might consider £1 to be the right price for it. If it was £10, the ‘worth’ in your eyes is greatly diminished.

But if you were dying of thirst in the desert, and had £10 in your pocket, would the ‘worth’ to you now go up? Of course.

So, how can you tell what is most valuable to a prospect and how can you overcome what might be potential objections later in the conversation?

Well, questions are the answer. Find out what criteria the decision-maker will be using to make their mind up when the time comes. If you are able to identify this and you know it may be an issue later on, you can prevent it before it actually comes up.

Let’s take an example: You discover that budget is a key issue for the prospect you are talking with. You determine that your solution may be a little higher in price than the prospect wants to pay. You can prevent what might be an objection against your price by saying something like:

“We discussed earlier how you want the widget to last a long time and how reliability is really important to you. We also talked about how much it costs to repair your current widget every time it breaks down.

If we were able to cut all those costs and improve the reliability at a stroke, do you think it would be worth looking at? As you said, repairs are costing around £1500 per year. Our solution will save you that and take away the worry of further costs in the future, especially with our optional extended warranty”

What has this immediately done? It has raised the value of your solution in the customer’s mind, so he is more likely to accept a higher price. Remember V minus P?

If the value has been raised in their mind, the objection that you might have expected about your higher price won’t be an objection anymore, as the prospect sees how much better off they would be with your solution, especially as they won’t have to pay out the continuous repair costs that would have been grating for him.

If you are able to face the objections head-on, and highlight them before they are raised, they cease to become the obstacles they might have been and actually create opportunities for you to highlight how the product or service can be more beneficial in the long-run.

Value is in the eye of the buyer. Build that value up, so when a potential objection could be raised, the potential benefits can outweigh any drawbacks.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com
(Image by adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

 

Posted in Objection Handling | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Digging Deep to Find the Gold – The Art of Asking Quality Questions in a Sales Call

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ID-10040951 (2)I once read of an expedition to find hidden treasures in the Middle East. Rumour had it that wealth beyond compare had been buried in caves by ancient people who had been trying to escape war-mongering looters.

The surveys carried out had revealed there were indeed treasures to be found beneath the surface of the ground in the caves that had been the subject of their investigations.

Sure enough, just days into the search, many treasures were unearthed and the team were ecstatic at their findings. Gold, jewels and silver were taken away, examined, dated, valued and put on display at various museums. The findings were seen as a treasure trove  from the past.

Years later, other excavators decided to re-examine the caves. This particular team felt that not all the treasure had been uncovered. They felt there may well have been more hidden deeper in the caves, and that the original teams had stopped digging too early when they found the treasures.

Sure enough, after digging only a relatively few feet further down, this new team uncovered more valuable treasures, valued even more than the original find.

If the first team had only continued digging, they would also have found these buried treasures. They were literally just a few feet from finding even more value than they had originally uncovered.

When I read this, it reminded me that the best salespeople are able to uncover and find out much valuable information about a prospect if only they were to dig deeper. We can do this by recognising that the quality of our questions will determine the quality of the information we obtain.

We can catagorise questions into three levels: Surface, shallow and deep.

If we seek for something at the surface, it won’t reveal much of what is hidden. Similarly, surface questions won’t uncover much detail.

Surface questions could include, for example, “How is business?” “Judging by the photos on your desk, I see you have two children, yes?” “How many salespeople do you have at the moment? “What kind of products sell best for you?”

You may need to start of with ‘surface’ enquiries, but they don’t reveal very much about the business or the way the person makes decisions. We need to dive a little deeper.

Shallow questions build on the information you have uncovered. They could include, for example, “How do today’s figures compare with last year’s?” “What further inroads into this market could you make if you were able to?” “How has the improving economy affected the way you market your products?”

These are slightly deeper questions and obtain more information. They could uncover more treasures as the prospect reveals more about their business and future plans. These ‘shallow’ level questions reveal whether you are able to assist the prospect in a more meaningful way.

These type of questions open the way to the level of questioning that reveals the real treasures…the depth of which will help you to present solutions that create opportunities for the prospect that maybe they hadn’t seen before. ‘Deep’ questions uncover information and build on previous data that may well take the discovery journey on a different path or deeper purposes.

Examples might include, “So with the increase in business you’ve seen in the last few months, what changes to your current business practices will help support the further growth you are expecting?”

“If the current trend continues, how do you see the departmental structure and set-up in the next few months?”

“ Could you describe the criteria you will be using to choose your future business partner, so you are certain that relationship will bring the desired results you have described?”

You’ll notice these questions dig deeper to get the prospect to open up about the future operations and allow you to formulate plans that will assist in their business development.

You then have the chance to build your future partnership with the prospect instead of it becoming a transactional-type relationship, built on shallow foundations with surface or shallow information.

So, think through in your call-preparation what information would help you get the most information possible from the prospect. Imagine you only had time to ask three questions. What would those questions be to get the best and most useful information possible? Those would then be the ‘deep’ questions that you could ask during the conversation.

Treasure could be buried deep in the ground, and it could take time and effort to uncover it. When you do, you may discover opportunities that wouldn’t have been available previously.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com
(Image by Photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Posted in Questioning Skills | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Questions To Ask Yourself When You Review The Sales Call

Posted on Have Your Say: Leave a comment?

ID-100111200 (2)Whether you are successful or not in a sales call, it is always advantageous to review what you did and didn’t do.

The main reason for this is to check whether you and your prospect got the most out of the interaction. If you did well, you can learn how you can apply those ideas in future calls. If you didn’t succeed in your main objective of the call, you can identify what learning opportunities the experience can give you.

Here are some specific questions you can ask yourself in reviewing the call. Identify which ones are most important for you and create a checklist for yourself to review after each call.

1) Was I prepared enough at the start?

Did you arrive in time, with confidence and with the right amount of preparation to achieve your goals? Simply turning up with a suite of questions isn’t enough these days. You have to have your reviews of their business, their problems, their needs and the individual buyer’s profile as the basics before you start.

2) Were my questions ‘deep’ enough to gain specific information?

I hope you didn’t turn up just to present your product! If you did, you risk sounding like every other salesperson. Your visit should include questions that go deep into the real needs of the prospect.

3) How did I deal with questions about my ability to deal with their needs?

Ask yourself: Did I simply try to ‘big-up’ my product? Or did I align the product details with the specific situation the prospect is currently facing?

4) What objections came up and how did I deal with them?

Did I create a good feeling about the way the products and services would change the future of their company? Was I able to handle objections in such a way that the prospect felt good about moving on? Are specific objections coming up regularly with prospects, and if they are, what can I do to stop them from become obstacles to the progress of the sale?

5) Did I end up with some form of commitment from the prospect?

Remember, you won’t get a sale on every call, but you could get a commitment to agree to a further product presentation, or an agreement to compare your offer with a competitor’s, or an arrangement to meet with another decision-maker. It doesn’t have to be a failure if you didn’t achieve your main objective in the call; having a secondary objective may well be a good compromise so that you have opportunities to advance with this prospect in the future.

By asking quality questions like these as you review your call, you give yourself the chance to learn from every experience and you then build confidence in dealing with future situations that you may have been concerned about in the future.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

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

(Image by stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Posted in Telesales | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Guidelines For Asking The Best Quality Questions In A Sales Meeting

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ID-10046949 (2)The brain is the most wonderful computer on the planet. In fact, it’s pretty much an insult to the brain to compare it to a computer.

Even the most powerful computer built is left a distant second to the brain in efficiency ratings.

The interesting thing about human brains is it is always searching for meaning.

 

When it’s faced with a situation, new or old, it will automatically ask itself (hence, you!) ‘what does this mean?’

In other words, questions are the way the brain computes information and analyses what it should do with it. Think about it. Ask yourself a question now. Any question.

What did your brain immediately start doing? Trying to find the answer!

Asking questions, of course, has been the habitual way that most salespeople have started their meetings for years. But how about the quality of questions you ask? Have yours improved over the years you have been in sales? Or have they basically been the same, not stretching or challenging the buyer to think on a different level?

The fact is, the quality of the question will determine the quality of the response and information you receive.

So what would be the best quality questions to ask in a sales meeting? Here are some guidelines:

1) Ask questions that prove you’ve done your homework

By asking basic questions like, ‘What do you do here?’ and ‘How many people do you employ?’ you’re proving that you haven’t done your research and it takes a long time to get to the position of moving the conversation on. Instead, show how important the prospect is in your eyes with questions like, “I noticed from my research that your sales have levelled out after a promising start this year and that fewer customers are repeating their orders. What impact is this starting to have on your revenues?”

2) Have a few questions written down but make them conversational

There’s value in pre-planning questions so you get the relevant information to assist you in presenting solutions, but don’t get your notebook out and interrogate the prospect with a long list.
Instead, listen to the answers they give to your initial questions and frame conversational questions around them.
For instance, after one bit of information you gain, you could say, “That’s interesting, could you elaborate on that for me, please?” Or “I didn’t realise that. Why do you think that is happening and what are your plans based on those results?”

This makes the buyer feel it’s a proper consultative conversation, not an interrogative process they are sitting through.

3) Ask yourself, what information should I get that will help me find the solution for this specific situation in the most efficient and effective way?

The best questions you can ask are those that drive the conversation on to a level where decisions can be made. If the buyer gives you loads of valuable information through your quality questions, you are then armed with the ability to make concise and concrete suggestions, backed up with the knowledge that you are solving the precise problems the prospect is currently facing.

Each of these guidelines will help you establish a good standing with the buyer, as they will see you uncovering problems that might not have been obvious before. This will help you build a natural bridge to help them gain solutions quickly and more easily.

So, just as the brain is more efficient than the biggest computer, you are tapping into the one thing that will get you answers to problems more efficiently and effectively than anything else; quality questions!

Happy Selling!

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

(Image by Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Posted in Sales Meetings | Tagged , , | Leave a comment