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The “A” In AIDA – 3 Ways To Actually Grab It!

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aida concept model

AIDA Sales Model

We are supposedly exposed to over 5,000 marketing, advertising and other types of messages each day. Personally, I think it’s a lot more, especially when you think of how many emails we get!

What does this mean to a hard-working, stress-induced salesperson? Well, it could mean that when you approach any new prospect, you are fighting ever harder to even get attention against the background of a plethora of other screaming demands.

What, then can you do to get attention and establish credibility with your prospective customer?

OK, what would make YOU sit up and take notice?

Psychologists have studies this for some time now, and it seems to boil down to around three components that make a real difference to gaining someone’s attention.

These three are classed as Trustworthiness, Expertise and Similarity

Firstly there’s Trustworthiness

How do you build trust with anyone? It is based on what people believe your intentions are. Other people want to know why you are taking the particular position you are.

There are two elements that make up the building of trust. The first is ‘knowledge bias’, that is, if the other person thinks your position or job role prevents you from being objective with them, they will not trust your motives. That’s why it’s good to have testimonials or references from people who have used your services previously.

If these comments are on video on your website; even better. People are then able to see the results of your services even before they see you.

Building trust is vital in getting attention. Could you send proof of what results you could achieve before you even sit in front of your prospect? That will intrigue and challenge their idea of ‘knowledge bias’.

The second component that builds trust is ‘intention bias’. If people think you’re just saying something to impress them, or saying what they want to hear, you lose their confidence in your intentions. You can overcome this by talking about the prospect’s business and not putting any emphasis on your products until you have established trust in you overall motives.

Secondly, Expertise. 

How have you demonstrated your experience, before you meet the prospect?

You could forward details of your LinkedIn page, making sure it’s up-to-date with relevant, interesting and creative ways to demonstrate your expertise.

If you have specific industry experience that would be of value to the prospect, you can send your biography to them before meeting, so they see how your expertise would benefit their business.

What successes have you had with your products and services that would impress new prospects? If you could let them know about those results, you build credibility before even meeting up.

Ensure any expertise you show is relevant to the specific customer you’re meeting; saying you’ve worked in the banking industry for 15 years to impress them with your financial awareness, when the prospect is only interested in whether the product will last a long time, is missing the point entirely.

Finally, Similarity. 

Another way to make your prospect sit up is to show how much like them you are. People tend to pay more attention to people who are like them.

This likeability factor cannot be understated. If your ideals, values, principles, standards and approach are similar to the other person’s, you give subliminal reasons why they should agree to your suggestions and recommendations.

Dress according to the guidelines given by the prospect before meeting them. Watch for any interests the prospect has that you could ask more questions about. Show interest in what is important to them. Listen effectively so their needs are clearer to you.

Doing these simple things will create good rapport and links between you. You’ll find it easier to understand their needs and support their goals if you find those ‘similarity bonds’

These three ideas (Trustworthiness, Expertise and Similarity) will help you build the foundation of a good relationship with the prospect and increase the likelihood they will sit up and take notice of you.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Posted in Customer/Client Retention | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The 3 Things That Buyers Want

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Business man and cloud“But I sell a great product Sean, why won’t they buy?” 

It’s a question I get asked a lot!

Many salespeople think that just having a great product is good enough – that it will sell itself but in these days of massive change, this will never be enough to be successful.

The changes that have driven us to where we are today will take us on a faster and faster journey in the future. The way buyers structure their decision-making processes today are so different that it can leave many salespeople just scratching their heads, wondering what to to do next.

The facts are unless we change the way we blend with the decision-makers’ different way of assimilating success for their businesses, we will be left behind.

Here are three facts that will make you stop and think about the way you sell.

When buyers say they have no budget, they really mean they haven’t seen the value of your solution in measurable financial results. 

Norbert Kriebel of Forrester Research found that “regardless of role, altitude level or geography, executive buyers select sellers who engage at the ‘what to do’ stage 74% of the time and the ‘who to choose’ stage only 26% of the time”.

This means that the majority of salespeople are often too late to approach a decision-maker. When the budget has been set, the decision has often already been made.

The fact is that budgets are set after the buying vision has been identified. Think about it…do businesses pick a figure and then see what they can spend their budget on, or do they see a need or opportunity and then decide how much they want to spend on it?

In by far the majority of times it’s the latter. So what you need to ensure is that you are in the running with the buying vision before the prospect has set the budgets.

Buyers don’t want your products and services. They want the future results that dealing with your company will produce. 

Think about what’s uppermost in your prospect’s mind when you meet with them. They’re not interested in the latest whizz-bang feature that you’ve been spending eons developing…they only want to know how their business will fare in the future if they buy it.

Forrester Research again…”88% of buyers indicate the salespeople they see are knowledgable about their products and services…but only 24% are knowledgable about the prospect’s business”

This fact ensures only one thing; the client has to do all the hard work to determine how the product will benefit them in the future.

What you need to do is prepare your presentation around the changes this will incorporate in the buyer’s business. Gone are the days when you could just wing it and hope thew price would be the deciding factor. You need to be on the wavelength of the prospect from the first to the last minute.

Buyers don’t want you to sell, and they don’t want to buy, either. They want to co-create solutions that will change their performance 

Michael Norton, writing in the Harvard Business Review, found that recommending an approach by saying ‘Here’s why this will work and this is what it will cost’ actually pushes the buyer away from the solution. Norton states that the buyer’s scepticism increases as they see and feel themselves being persuaded and influenced towards a certain outcome.

What his research showed was that when buyers are actively involved in the decision-making themselves, they value them more. The more time and effort invested by the buyer in the stages of the purchase, the greater the chances of them ‘buying into’ the benefits they will achieve.

What this means is that you should get your buyers involved early on in determining the success factors for them and their businesses, and develop your conversational skills that will enable them to choose the benefits for themselves and hence increase their value.

I’m not saying these ideas will create consistent results for you, but these factors may help you determine the best way to engage and interact with your buyers so they see the benefits of your products and services without you having to push them in any direction.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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22 Ways To Critique Your Sales Meetings

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COne of the best salespeople I ever worked with gave me a hint into his working life and what made him so successful. He once said to me, “Sean, what do you do after a sales meeting that ensures the next one will be even better?”

That question struck me because, basically, I hadn’t considered it much before. I used to simply write up my notes, put them on the CRM system and carry on from there. But it got me thinking about what would be the best way to learn from the meeting experience and determine how I could improve next time.

There are essentially two things you should reflect on after you’ve met with a prospective buyer…the how and the what.

The ‘how’ is the process that the meeting took, how you conducted the conversation, what worked well and what didn’t. In other words, how did the dynamics of the sales conversation go?

As you learn from experiences, you can ask yourself three fundamental questions:

  • What happened?
  • What does that mean?
  • What will happen next?

In the ‘what happened?’ section, you can recall what the client said and how you responded. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • How did the meeting start?
  • How did the buyer bring up their problems or opportunities?
  • How did I respond to those?
  • What questions did the buyer bring up?
  • What turning points occurred in the conversation?
  • Were there any points they brought up that I couldn’t answer?
  • How did I build value in the solutions?
  • How did I get the buyer involved in those solutions?
  • What direction did the meeting take, and was I able to keep it on track?
  • How did I deal with any objections that came up?
  • Did I summarise and gain commitment to the next stage?

In the ‘what does that mean?’ section, you can highlight the rationale behind the meeting direction and the implications that might come from it. Ask these types of questions:

  • What positive signs came from the buyer?
  • What more could I have done to have built value in their eyes?
  • What weaknesses or disappointments did you take away from the meeting?
  • What would you do to turn round those disappointments?
  • What else would you change if you could?

Quickly scanning those questions after the meeting will help you rationalise what happened and the meanings behind them.

In the ‘what will happen next?’ section, you identify the learning points behind the results you achieved and determine what will change next time. Let’s assume you realise your sales conversation could have involved the buyer more, especially when it came to making decisions for advancement.

You can ask yourself

  • What should I stop doing?
  • What should I start doing?
  • What could I improve on and do better?

Maybe it shows that your industry knowledge needs to be brought up-to-date. You recognise you haven’t been reading the blogs, writing articles and identifying the trends in business lately. Maybe you could plan for an improvement by setting aside a couple of hours a week to update yourself on what is new, and the implications of those changes to your potential customers.

Now onto the ‘What’. The ‘what’ is the actual content of the meeting and what you gained from it. By reflecting on the content, you will learn what will benefit this or the next contact when you meet up with them.

This debrief will help you determine the next steps for the relationship-building part of the interaction. Go over your notes and decide what were the ‘need to know’ items from the meeting and the ‘nice to know’ items.

The ‘need to knows’ are those things that the buyer can’t do without. Things like increase in productivity to keep up with competitors, decrease in staff turnover to reduce costs or improvement in quality to enhance margins might be seen as ‘baseline’ benefits. In other words, without those benefits, the buyer won’t progress.

The ‘nice to know’ items are the more personal or emotion connections that would make the buyer feel better about any solution. He may have mentioned that his bonus is tied up with improvements in sales, so this is something you recognise as an opportunity to discuss further.

You could think of these points as getting to know your buyer better, identifying their personal goals, what obstacles they are facing and how they will personally be measured on the projects on which you are working with them.

The whole purpose of going over the content of the meeting afterwards is to decide how you can demonstrate value, build relationships with the decision-makers and create real reasons for their business to use your services in the future. It’s probably the most basic area of review that you can do as a salesperson, but most don’t do it properly and hence miss out on the opportunities they may have found out in the meeting itself.

So, think about both process and content. When you review your well-scribed notes after the meeting, build value in the time you spent by seeing what you learned and identifying the way forward now that you’ve created the springboard for advancing your knowledge and understanding of your prospect’s business needs.

That salesperson I mentioned at the start went on to manage a successful European operation, and I could see why. His advice has stayed with me over the years and I trust it will help you also to improve your client relations.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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

Double Your Sales With A Sat Nav?

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bignavIt’s my lifeline, my saviour, my instant access to finding new destinations.

Yet, since I started using satellite navigation systems, I have been lulled into a false sense of security, allowing it to control my thoughts and, against my better judgement at times, leading me down roads and motorways I would have been best avoiding.

Still, I’d rather have it directing my every move than have to rely on the old method of tracing a line with my finger on a road atlas while doing 69 mph!

It got me thinking about the connections between my sat nav and the sales processes we follow.

When we set out on a journey, the first thing we put into it is the destination, the end goal, the outcome. We make it as precise as possible, like the post-code or office number, so we can straight there.

Then, it works out our current position, the situation we find ourselves in. This is our starting point and allows the system to generate the journey from point A to B.

My system then gives me options to follow, maybe taking a quieter A road rather than the motorway, or routes to avoid tolls.

Finally, on the journey, I get feedback from the sat nav, outlining if any changes need to be made on my journey, diverting me away from blockages and traffic jams.

The sat nav is a good metaphor for our sales processes and, if followed precisely, can help us reach our destination (the close) in good shape.

Firstly, we can help the prospect identify his final goal, the destination if you like, or where they will be when they succeed.

Questions like, “How will you know this has been a successful project for you?” or “What will the end result be for you?” are good ways to find exactly what the prospect is looking to accomplish.

Then, we can find out what the current situation is like with questions like “What are you using at the moment and why isn’t that good enough to get to the position you’ve just outlined?” and “What are you using now,, and how has that served you up until now?”

These positioning questions help you identify what the gap is between the ‘now’ and the ‘future’.

We can then discuss options with the prospect. Asking things like “What changes do you see having to happen in order for you to achieve those goals?” and “What options do you see as you look to improve results here?” will help the prospect identify the various ways they can travel to achieve the end goal.

And finally, you can assist the prospect on the journey by outlining what needs to be done to achieve the final result. You can make suggestions, offer advice and build relationships by keeping them informed of what is happening as things progressing, offering feedback on his results and showing how the situation is changing as time goes on.

So, next time you program your sat nav for a journey, reflect on how it can help you with your sales process as well and adapt your meetings so you can fit in with the direction your prospect will want to make n their journey to results.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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The 7 Habits Of Highly Ineffective Salespeople

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Risky contractOur brains are wonderful things, in that it always tries to find the best for us. We can justify every and any action we take simply by identifying some kind of gain for us or achievement we attain.

When we are happy to carry out some task without even thinking about it, we call that a ‘habit’, i.e. something we do without having to think about it.

As salespeople, we tend to slip into habits by default, some good and some not so good.

Very few of us would deliberately sabotage our success by habitually doing things that would damage our chances of success.

But there are things we do that drive us toward failure without even realising it.

Here are just seven bad habits that could well influence and affect our success for the worse:

1. Not Having Any New Ideas Or Perspectives To Share With Prospects

This is simply poor execution of our sales processes. Very often we think that the product or service we have should sell itself and we simply pitch it to this product in the same way we have to everyone else.

Prospects are looking for new ideas, new perspectives and new concepts that will take their business further than it is now. If you don’t get into the habit of developing new ideas, you run the risk of becoming stale and being like everyone else.

2. Thinking The Product Is More Important Than The Solution

Many prospects know about your product before you step foot in their building, so resist the temptation to revert back to the 1980’s pre-internet age and assume the prospect knows nothing about you. Instead, form the habit of thinking about solutions for the prospect that will drive their decision-making forward. Just verbalising the details or components of your products or services runs the risk of losing momentum and causing the prospect to do all the hard work of applying what you say to their situation

3. Failing To Plan Effectively

I was talking recently to a salesperson who had been in sales since he left school in 1976, and he shared with me his exasperation of seeing many people ‘wing’ their presentations with poor or no proper preparation. Even though he has been in sales for nearly 40 years, this salesman said he strived to learn as much about his prospect’s business as he could before he approached them. He said this is one habit that has kept him in good stead at all times. It’s one of those habits you should not neglect as it just causes so many challenges

4. Knowing Little About Your Competitors’ Offerings

There can’t be many things more demoralising than presenting your product and the prospect bringing up details of your competitors’ solutions that are actually better than yours, and you didn’t know about it.

Knowledge of the market is imperative if you are to keep ahead of what is being offered out there, and it is an easy habit to fall into when you don’t keep up-to-date with what is happening.

5. Not Listening To The Real Needs Of The Prospect Nor Identifying How Your Solution Can Benefit Them And Their Business

Most humans only listen at the ‘surface’ level, and it’s a bad habit to fall into, because most of what you need to know occurs at the ‘deep’ level. Premature evaluation of situations can bring many problems, so resist the temptation to jump to conclusions without finding out more information.

6. Blaming Things Out Of Your Control For Your Performance

This is a very easy habit to fall into. People are naturally defensive when it comes to analysing why things occur the way they do. If you don’t get the results you want, our default position is that something other than us must be responsible. We tend to want to justify and defend ourselves by passing the blame from ourselves to something else, so our egos and self-esteem are kept intact.

Professional salespeople understand that we have to control the controllables and leave the uncontrollable to get on with what it needs to do. Make sure you don’t fall into the habit of passing responsibility for your performance to things that are not under your control.

7. Accepting Average Performance As The Norm

This is also a bad habit to fall into, as it can lull you into a false sense of being better than you really are. What this involves is seeing yourself performing at a level you think is the best you can achieve. The truth is that most salespeople never hit their true potential. They accept the performance level they have achieved and think it’s the best they can do, with justifiable back-up excuses that seem right to them.

Instead, think of yourself on a never-ending journey towards excellence, knowing there is always going to be a higher, better, more successful step that you can take. If you have that mind-set, you will never settle for average performance, the sort of “that’ll do” rhetoric that doesn’t allow for the improvements you know in your heart is achievable.

These seven bad habits should wake us up and make us more determined than ever to professionally drive ourselves forward to achieve more than we have ever done before.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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