I had a very interesting conversation with one of my clients this week.
We had trained many of his sales people, and he wanted more development for a select few of his team who had been with the company for a relatively long time, but had plateaued in their performance and their results. He said he wanted this band of sales guys to be more effective in their sales conversations.
I asked him to be more precise. His comments showed me that his ideas weren’t going far enough.
By being more effective, he said he wanted them to achieve more sales and get better results. I replied that the only way he would achieve that is if his team concentrated less on effectiveness and put more emphasis on affectiveness.
‘What’s the difference?’ he asked. And I hear you asking the same thing.
Effective can be defined as successfully achieving the result that you want. Affective includes appealing to the emotions of the prospect and puts the emphasis on ‘doing’. It’s an active verb that conveys the feeling of drive, motion, energy. When you affect someone or something, you proactively influence the decisions they make. The result is the ‘effect’ that you have on the company or individual.
So if you think of what you can do to ‘affect’ people’s decisions, it gives you and your prospect strong motivation to make changes. If you emphasise what the differences will be if they take your advice, you build a great deal of trust and get them to listen to you, because they see the results they will achieve.
The end result is that you become effective. But affective comes first. Think of it like a strong wind blowing in from the north. It affects the temperature at any given time. The effects are felt later on the ground, the results being frost or snow or ice.
So, just like I discussed with my client, by putting the focus on affecting the prospect’s decision-making criteria, you get them to see the end result before they start. Their thought processes are affected by what you say and do, and the end effects are the results of listening to your ideas.
This change in emphasis made my client think about what his sales team needs to do to induce action out of their prospects, and we will be putting a programme together that will have an affect on their techniques, so they will get effective results!
MTD Sales Training
How much do you REALLY LOOK FORWARD to your sales meetings with the boss?
Chances are your immediate response ranged from ‘somewhat’ to ‘I’d rather have root-canal work done!’
Why do many sales meetings end up being a rehash of the “same-old same old”, with the end result being a mixture of ‘glad that’s over’ and ‘let’s get on with some real work now’? I think the answer can often come down to the attitude we as salespeople choose to take into the meetings. If we had the right mindset first of all, we might actually get results.
Here are some tips on contributing effectively to your sales meetings so they don’t always turn out to be a waste of time:
1. Bring some possible alternative solutions to every problem you bring up. If you’re always expecting someone else to answer your problems and challenges, you’ll always be reliant on someone else to earn your money for you. By coming up with possible solutions, you put the emphasis on looking forward rather than backwards
2. Discuss ways in which challenges you are experiencing could benefit other team members. Your challenges will never be unique and it may be that other team members are facing the same situations as you. Sharing possible answers will set a good tone for the meeting and encourage all to think of real-time solutions
3. Don’t get dragged into the minutia. Boring meetings kill creativity, so leave the mundane to another time when you can discuss it with people who can do something about it. We all hate administration and we’d rather be out there selling, so reject the discussions that drag everyone down
4. Look for ways that something CAN be done, rather than highlight the reasons why they CAN’T. We all know that positive thinking doesn’t always work and can lead us to reject reality. What we can do, though, is concentrate on what might work, rather than driving everyone into the metaphorical black hole of despair by raising all the reasons why something won’t work. Contribute from the angle that ‘there must be answer…we just haven’t found it yet!’
5. Be the kind of person that others look to for motivational and well-thought-out comments. You don’t have to take the Pollyanna approach to every situation, but you can encourage others to look for solutions
6. Make the time well-spent. Meetings are only a waste of time if the outcomes don’t match the value of the time devoted to them. Ensure your contribution is directed towards investing the time spent rather than throwing it away.
Next time you attend a meeting, do a quick calculation on how much the time spent is costing the company. For example, if six people attend for half-an-hour, and the hourly salary averages out at £15 for each attendee, then the meeting should come out with ideas worth more than the £45 you’ve all just cost the company.
By contributing effectively to your sales meetings, you encourage everyone to think about future solutions rather than current challenges, and you give yourself a great chance of getting great results.
MTD Sales Training
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Due to circumstances well beyond your control, the new software version upgrade will not ship as promised. The sales team has anxious clients waiting for the upgrade, in addition to many prospects who are interested in seeing the new version. Moreover, the delay means that regular monthly maintenance fees are suspended and the sales team will not receive their monthly residual commissions!
In business, things do not always go as planned and there are times when your firm may have to endure negative, costly and painful information. How you deliver such information to your sales team is critical.
The Positive Sandwich
You may have heard of the concept of the positive sandwich, in when delivering disconcerting information, you simply position the bad material in between two positive discussions. Lead off with something good, quickly disseminate the bad, and then close with something good. While there is nothing wrong with this concept as it makes sense and works quite well in many situations such as public speaking; today’s modern sales people may need a bit more.
Start at the Bottom and Go Up
Eliminate the emotional rollercoaster. Begin with the worse news possible, and then deliver good news. Follow that by even better news and then the best news. Finally, show some example of this good news in action.
As an example, using our hypothetical software upgrade above, you would deliver the bad news that the upgrade is late as are residual commissions. Then, share the good news that the upgrade has additional features and benefits. Better news; that clients who upgrade will get a reduction in their monthly service fees. Follow that by best news that sales people will get a raise in their residual percentage. Finally, share an example of the good news with the fact that the new features will open up new markets and more sales opportunities for the sales team.
Expectations Shape Perception
The most powerful way to deliver bad news to your sales team is to shape their expectations of that news.
Have you ever felt a movie would be the best movie of its genre you have ever seen, only to find that the movie was not as good as you thought? Alternatively, the movie you thought would be a flop, was not as bad as you thought it would be.
A company earns $200 million in profits. However, the company failed to meet the Wall Street expectations of $206 million, and therefore did not perform very well. Expectations greatly influence perception.
When you need to deliver bad news to the sales teams, start by shaping their expectations of the upcoming news. Let the team know that in the next meeting, you have some very bad news to share. You do not want to exaggerate or lie, and you don’t have to. Individual human imagination will run rampant as sales people envision their own worst possible nightmarish fears.
Now, by the time you deliver the actual news, you can rest assured that it will be nowhere near half as horrible as they thought. Now use a nonchalant, light-hearted tone of voice when delivering the news and the sales team’s perception will be that the news was really not that bad at all!
MTD Sales Training
In the recent post, “The 3 Worst Practices For Conducting A Successful Sales Meeting,” I highlighted the three main DON’Ts for a successful sales meeting:
Now let us look into three BEST practices to help you structure your sales meetings to raise people up, increase sales and elevate your sales team to the next level!
#1. DO Educate
While this important “DO” seems obvious and easy, it’s usually not the case in most sales meetings. You need to coach or train during every meeting. Sales people need to learn more and such continuing education is everlasting and is an investment.
The problem is that many managers have difficulty in figuring out exactly what to train/coach/teach. The sales team has already gone through the company sales training. You went over objections a dozen times and there seems to be nothing left to talk about when it comes to prospecting. In fact, the sales team feels that they know everything.
So where do you get educational topics that are not only informative, but also useful and timely solutions?
Uncover Problems and Pain
Just as when dealing with prospects, with your sales team, you need to unearth their problems even when they are unaware that they have any.
You then need to use those problems as the basis for your sales meetings.
You should have a personal one to one meeting with each sales person at the end of every day or month, depending on the logistics and your sales cycle, even if it is by telephone. During that individual meeting, you want to make note of the problem areas the sales person has. However, do not correct those issues then.
If your correct the sales person at that time, it will come across as a de-motivator. Instead, make note of the issues, and uplift the sales person. Then, in the sales meeting, do not single out that sales person. Simply use that issue as a training topic.
Here’s an example:
In your one to one meeting with Steve, you noted that at least twice, he lost sales you think he should have closed. You ask some questions of Steve and find that he is not correctly demonstrating how to run the Profit & Loss Reports of the accounting software.
There are three ways you can handle this situation.
a) You can inform Steve of the problem right then…
“Oh Steve! I can see exactly what you’re doing wrong. You are not showing the P & L report the right way. It’s in your manual! As soon as possible, come in and I will go over it again with you…”
While this appears to be an innocent approach, what really happened is that Steve went home depressed. He knows he lost a few sales he should have closed and that he is probably doing something wrong. His self-esteem is at an all-time low. Then his wife hammers on him that money is tight and he should forget that sales thing and get a real job. Then he calls his sales manager, who confirms the fact, “Yep, Steve! You blew it!” Not good.
b) You can bring up Steve’s problem during the sales meeting and completely embarrass and berate Steve. Not good.
c) You can bring up the problem as a general training topic for the group.
You can bet that if Steve is having the problem others are as well. Also, it cannot hurt to reiterate something that is apparently so crucial that it can mean the difference in closing the sale or not.
With this method, you single out or berate no-one, and the sales teams always receive just-in-time training topics that are always relevant.
Ask questions to uncover the problems and then offer the solutions as educational topics in your sales meetings.
By illustrate, I’m referring to demonstrating, or proving what you say. This relates to such things as in the above example. Demonstrate the method of how to show the P & L report. If you have sales people who may be experts with that part of the sales interaction, then have them illustrate to the group. In this way, you not only keep the older pros interested, but you also help ensure they stay on track.
Illustrate other topics as well. When you speak of goals and milestones that are possible, exemplify such with someone who has done it. The key is always to back up, show and prove what you say.
As you can see, with this structural process, there is already a certain amount of motivation embedded into the sales meeting. In fact, the very structure itself leads to motivation.
Now it’s time for the rah-rah, pep rally. Now is the time for the cheering, congratulations and new sales incentives. Now when you talk about reaching new heights, the sales team can believe it because you demonstrated exactly how. You illustrated how to do it or showed how someone did it in the past. Also, you gave them the education and the tools they need to reach the next level.
Do this and your sales team’s belief will expand their reach and their reach will always slightly exceed their grasp.
Bestselling Author, Sales Authority & Speaker On Modern Day Selling Methods
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While a good sales meeting can invigorate sales people and increase revenue, a poor sales meeting will cost you more than you can calculate. Incredibly, many sales managers take the structure of a sales meeting for granted. It is the old, “If it’s not broke don’t fix it…” attitude.
However, here are three basic things to understand about sales meetings:
1. There is no such thing as an ineffective sales meeting. Sales meetings have either a positive effect on your sales team, or a negative one.
2. The sales meeting is never the blame. When sales are off, typically the blame falls on sales people, market conditions and everything else, other than sales meetings.
3. Sales people do not tell you that sales meetings are ineffective. First, many sales people would never understand if a sales meeting is effective or not. Second, a sales person is not usually going to go to his or her boss and say, “Your sales meetings are boring and I am not learning anything…”
The point is that just because it does not appear to be broken, does not mean it is not. Below are three DON’Ts, the worst practices for conducting a good sales meeting. Then, posting December 15, 2011, I will detail the three best practices, the DOs for sales meeting success!
#1. DON’T Berate
While you may never have a conscious goal to demean sales people or in anyway, put someone down, it happens all the time in the sales meeting. When a sales person has a problem, or is not performing well, it is easy to use that person’s situation as an example. Never point out someone’s shortcomings in a group sales meeting. Always discuss a sales person’s negative issues in private. Also, remember that as I explained in the post, “The Zero Tolerance Approach to Sales Management,” that a sales person’s failures…are actually YOUR fault!
#2. DON’T Intimidate
Be careful not to intimidate sales people with pressure or threats. Some managers believe that negative motivation is a useful tool in that fear is a far stronger emotion than desire. While it is true, that fear can get people to do things they might not otherwise do; unfortunately, that includes the good as well as the bad things. In addition, when you intimidate one person in front of the group, the negative affects spread like an airborne virus throughout the group. Also, be aware that you can intimidate people without actual threats. Challenges and goals that are beyond the sales person’s belief or imagination, can intimidate, frighten or embarrass a person when done in front of other people.
By definition, to subjugate is to bring a group under control or submission by force: to overwhelm, overpower and conquer them. Unfortunately, such is the organisational philosophy of many sales managers. Demanding better performance is not managing. To lead, people must follow, and that does not mean forcefully dragging them behind you.
Be careful not to build yourself up, in meetings. Instead, uplift the team. In addition, never demand the team do things that you cannot, have not, or would not do yourself. You want to lead, not rule. In sales meetings, be careful not so issue orders or commands. Instead, offer objectives and action plans to reach those objectives.
Just as in dealing with a prospect, with your sales team, you need to PULL, not PUSH. You need to ASK not TELL, and you need to HELP not SELL.
Don’t demand that your sales people succeed, and order them to do it. Instead, show them how to succeed and help them do it.
Posting December 15, 2011:
The 3 Best Practices for Conducting A Successful Sales Meeting
Bestselling Author, Sales Authority & Speaker On Modern Day Selling Methods
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Your product knowledge is an essential tool in your sales armoury, and must be used at the correct time. By this, I mean that if you just present your product without finding out what the real issues are the customer is facing, then this scatter-gun approach will do more harm than good in your sales meeting.
The best salespeople we work with are expert questioners and use this undoubted skill to earn the right to deliver their product knowledge. You need a bank of questions that will draw out the challenges, issues, problems, rewards and opportunities that will make the prospect think about using you.
Here are some questions to ask before you even think about stepping foot in your prospect’s office:
1) Are my questions clear, precise and relevant? Does the customer understand the implication of the questions I have planned?
2) Do my questions make the customer think about the solution coming from my services or products? How can you phrase them in a way that links the solution to you?
3) Do my questions take the prospect down a new road of thinking than they would if they were talking to my competitor? How would the competition ask them, and how can I go deeper?
4) Am I supporting the direction the prospect is thinking by asking quality questions down that path? Are my listening skills sufficient to keep track of issues they bring up?
5) Are my questions making the prospect think about the pain of staying in the position they are? What will be the outcome if the prospect does nothing?
6) Do my questions concentrate specifically on the business situation the customer is facing now? What is the exact current situation?
7) Are my questions directed towards the rewards the customer may get by changing the current situation? What opportunities might there be for them in the future?
8 ) Do my questions make the sale easier? What do they expect the product to do?
9) Am I creating enthusiasm for the solutions I may come up with for the client? Do my questions make them feel they want to know more?
10) Have I lined up some commitment questions that ensure the customer feels safe and confident they are making the right decision by choosing me?
These are questions that will help you achieve your goals by pointing you in the right direction to formulate quality questions in your sales meetings.
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training
Cliché warning alert!:
“First impressions last.” “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”
OK, I know. You can groan now! But let’s think for a second. What if these old clichés are actually true? What if the impression you provide could make or break the relationship with the prospect?
It’s said that people make judgments on other people within the first few seconds of meeting them. If that’s the case, what can we do to ensure that the first impression at least gives you a chance to go on and make a lasting impression?
Here are some tips:
If you make that great first impression, it lays a great foundation for furthering the relationship with the prospect. And that can only be good for business!
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training
If you want to make sure that your next sales meeting and visit bombs quicker than Liverpool’s chances of winning the 2009 Champion’s League then make sure that you take the advice of Ivegotta Closeya, one of the most successful, unsuccessful sales people in the world.
Here’s his top 6 tips for making sure that your next sales meeting is well and truly a sales meeting from hell!
1. Just Wing It!
Go into the meeting with no specific objectives in mind. Just play it be ear and have no specific outcome for what you want to achieve. That’s a real test of a salesperson! Fly by the seat of your pants!
2. Research Is For Whimps
Conducting clent research is a real pain in the 8ss! Just don’t bother. After all, sales is a numbers game isn’t it? If the next sucker doesn’t buy then some other sucker will…won’t they?
3. Decision Maker? Keh?
Assume the person you are going to meet is the decision maker. After all, they must be important to be meeting you right?
4. My Kit Has Never Let Me Down Before
No need to check your laptop cables, your laptop batteries or whether you’ve got a back up plan if the laptop packs up. What’s the use of that? Also, you’ll have plenty of business cards either in your brief case or in your jacket pocket so no need to waste time on them.
5. That’s Enough About Me, What Do You Think About Me?
Me, me, me, me, me! Love it! I’ve perfected my pitch and I’m gonna close this person and get them to buy it. I’m not going to waste time hearing about their pain and their issues as I know these already. So I’m gonna go for the kill. Wish me luck!
6. I Get Objections All The Time, I’m Great At Handling Them!
I was once told by my Sales Manager and some Bald Sales Jedi Guy to frontload my objections into my presentation but that’s a waste of time. I love it when objections surface at the end and then I have a ping pong match in overcoming them. Oh, yes, that’s the true test of a sales rep! 15 love!
And now a tip from “The Bald Sales Jedi Guy” – Ivegotta Closeya is a complete loser!
Make sure you reverse his logic and tips and be prepared for your next client sales meeting!
Happy Sales Meetings!
“Bald Sales Jedi Guy” – thank you Ivegotta!
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