What’s the best part of the day for you? Be honest!
Some answer that question with ‘the call where I get an expected yes!’ or ‘the time where I have the time to catch up on important things’.
Others will say ‘the time when I pack up and go home to the people who are most important to me’ and that is, for many, the real reason why they do what they do.
Whatever the answer, you have to believe you made the right decision to come into sales in the first place and your clients have better businesses and greater profits, plus clearer futures simply because you are there.
Attitudes are key to how well you perform in sales. You don’t need me to reiterate that fact. And our attitude can be affected very much by our state of mind. So let me ask you…How do you feel at the end of the day when it’s time to think about packing up and finishing? Do you have the energy to do just one more call? Make one more contact? See one more prospect?
The reason why I ask this is, if you decide to do just one more, and you treat it in a relaxed but confident way, it can prove to be the best part of the day for you.
You know you’ll be finished after this conversation, so it will help you relax and be yourself. It also opens up an opportunity for you to be on the same wavelength as the prospect. It can actually make it easier for you to make contact and plan for the next appointment.
It can go something like this. “Oh, hi, Mr Prospect, I know it’s late in the day and we’re probably both getting ready to wrap up, but I have something of real value that I really wanted to share with you. I know your company are looking to expand soon, so can I send something across to you that will help in that regard? Thanks! The information will be in your inbox when you get in tomorrow, and I’ll give you a call to discuss it further.”
This enables you to get hold of the client, quickly build value and get permission to contact them again.
Remember, if you did this every working day, that’s 20 more calls every month, over 200 in a year.
Imagine if you had this relaxed attitude for each of those 200 calls! What results could you muster?
Make the last call of the day the one you really look forward to. Make it a call the client remembers too, and you’ll have a good journey home, a great evening and a new opportunity you might have otherwise missed out on.
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We know that clarity brings results. It helps us focus on what we desire and so attracts the right results our way. But how do we establish that clarity? What can we do to ensure we have our goals with a client visible at all times?
Here’s an acronym that should help you achieve that clarity at all times. I’ll keep it simple and use the word ‘CLEAR”.
C) This reminds us to Communicate effectively with the client. This means we need to ensure the information we obtain is precise, concise and meaningful. Quality communication makes things clear and unambiguous. It ensures correct understanding with little chance of misinterpretation.
Assess your communication skills and ensure they are as effective as they can be.
L) Listening is a fundamental skill that should be practiced every day. Frustrated clients should be allowed to vent, as it lowers the emotional connection to a situation and lets you hear exactly what the meaning is behind a particular stance they may be taking. This creates rapport between you when they realise that someone is taking a real interest in what they are saying.
Take the opportunity to practice your listening skills whenever you can, outside of a sales situation. That way, you will learn a lot and be able to show this necessary skill in the clutch moments when you might be emotionally charged.
E) Showing Empathy might not always be top of your list of priorities when with a client, but you’d be surprised how effective it might be.
A 1999 experiment entitled ‘Can 40 seconds of empathy reduce patient anxiety?’ researchers found that giving just 40 seconds of uninterrupted compassion and empathy to a patient actually reduced their visible anxiety levels. Just 40 seconds. Imagine if you were to show empathy for a client’s current situation for that amount of time, and the rapport was built up between you. You would then be able to make suggestions that would be in the client’s interests and probably receive a listening ear!
A) It may seem obvious, but taking Action is often the most neglected part of a salesperson’s day. Picking up that phone to make a difficult call may not be top of your list of likes for the day, but when the action is taken and the results achieved, you feel so much better about yourself and the day starts to seem just that bit better, as you are carrying out promises to yourself and feeling more confident.
Actions are the end result of effective planning and organisation. Without proper planning, you will find yourself doing for the sake of doing, and it will never achieve what it could have done if you had been ‘up for it’.
R) The end results of proper communication, good listening, showing empathy and taking action are the Rewards you achieve. Whatever you carry out or don’t carry out, you will end up with outcomes. As the saying goes, whichever road you take will take you somewhere so you might as well choose which direction you will go, or someone else will choose for you.
You can choose the rewards you want by committing to achieving the goals you set for yourself. Apply the CLEAR motto on every occasion and you’ll soon find yourself benefiting from the outcomes.
Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:
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In today’s era of the modern and educated buyer, many sales people wonder if the idea of a planned sales interaction is best, or if you should essentially throw mud against the wall.
The thought is that today’s buyer is too sophisticated to deal with the old style “pitch” and therefore it is best to just know everything there is to know about what you sell, and then just “wing it;” maintaining the flexibility to adapt to the buyer’s direction and responses.
The problem is that there is still some confusion about the difference between a PLANNED SALES INTERACTION and an old fashioned PITCH. So first allow me to explain.
The old fashioned sales pitch is one in where the sales person follows a rigid, rehearsed, near word-for-word script that is the same for every prospect. The sales person rattles off the script often without much thought, listening or interaction. The entire sales presentation is “CANNED.”
A Planned Sales Interaction
A planned sales interaction, on the other hand, is simply a “strategy.” While a planned presentation may have a few words or phrases that you might use verbatim, it is not a “canned script.” A planned sales interaction is more of a methodical process that has the flexibility to adapt to any situation, but has the controls for the sales person to steer the process.
A Plan vs. Mud Against The Wall
With the above definition in place, I will say that I believe that in most selling situations today, you should use a well-planned and structured sales presentation. In such, you should define every “stage” of the sales interaction and have clear goals to accomplish at each step.
You can keep your sales interaction feeling impromptu, but you must have a way to control the direction and outcomes. You should have a step-by-step process that leads to a successful conclusion. In such, you can maintain the flexibility to adapt to responses, yet keep the process on track towards your objective.
Throwing the proverbial mud at the wall may appear to actually work for a time, but you are losing money. In dealing with today’s sophisticated and educated buyer, now more than ever, you need to have a well thought out plan.
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Let me give you a rather quick, short and sweet answer to a common question. However, in the answer, I want you to really understand the concept; the idea that I am trying to make. Understand this and you will help solve more problems and close more sales as you answer this all too popular question.
Tell Me About Your Company
This question can come in many different forms and times during the sales process. Often it is one you get at a trade show or some other less planned introduction. Nonetheless, when it comes, you need to be prepared to knock this one out of the proverbial ball park.
We Do This and That…
The typical answer from the average sales person is an explanation of a plethora of products and services for which the company sells. The sales person goes into a litany of things, most of which have absolutely no relevance to the person asking the question. Much like a talking brochure, the sales person tries not to leave out anything that the company does in an effort to land on an item that may spark the person’s interest. Instead of reciting a long list of potentially irrelevant products or services, try the following approach.
Turn The Beat Around
First, give the prospect a broad idea of your overall company vision and overview. Then let the prospect know that in reaching the goals, there are many different aspects in which you HELP customers. Finally, ask the prospect to explain how and where they may fit into this ideology so that you can really explain what it is exactly that you do. Confused? Let me give you an example.
At a trade show…
ABC Computer Consultants? Yeah, I think I’ve heard of you. Tell me about your company.
Well, we are one of the largest technology training companies in the world and with that, we deal in dozens of different areas from desktop applications to the most sophisticated hacker intrusion detection. Actually, how we help different companies is almost unique in every case. Let me ask you a couple of quick questions and then I will be able to give you a very clear picture of exactly what we do. Ok?
What does your company do?
We are a cellular phone manufacture and my plant deals primarily with applications development.
Great. So, your developers have to be up to speed on the latest in writing virtual code and mobile app technology?
Oh, of course.
Well one of the ways we would help your company is to not only ensure that your technicians were up to date, but help with certification, training, testing and even hiring…
You get the idea?
Unearth Problems And Create Opportunity
First give a broad idea of what you do. But then let the prospect know that to fully explain what you do, you need to understand what THEY do; what their potential needs are. Get the prospect to talk, to explain their problems and you have opened the door!
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So many sales people and organisations still talk about their pitch or making their pitch or pitching the prospect. But if you just think about this for a minute, I think you will also see that pitching is not what a professional sales person does.
In every aspect the word pitch (the verb) means in some way to throw something at someone, as in to pitch a ball. Or, to set something up to be used, as in to pitch a tent. In both cases, a sales person should not ever pitch. The bottom line is that to pitch is to conduct a one-way conversation in the hopes to get it past the prospect who cannot hit it back.
To pitch, no matter how you look at it, is to PUSH. However, as professional sales people of the modern era, we need to PULL!
A Win-Lose Situation
When a sales person pitches a product, in a sense they throw a rehearsed set of words at the prospect in an attempt to get past them. The objective is to strike the prospect out. The prospect uses objections as a bat, swinging at the sales pitch. If the sales person (or pitchman) is able to get enough pitches by the prospect, then the sales person wins. If however, the prospect is able to hit the pitch with some of those objections, the prospect wins. Someone has to win and someone has to lose.
You hear sales people talk about “losing” the sale, or “winning” the sale. The pitch mentally says that the sales process is essentially a war, a battle in which someone wins and someone loses. The pitchman’s objective is to win or beat the prospect.
Win – Win
However, in professional sales, there is no such thing as a win-lose situation. If you make the sale, you helped the prospect and you both win. If you fail to close the sale, then you failed to help the prospect get something that would benefit them and therefore, you both lose.
Understand that you and the prospect are on the same side, you want the same thing. Help the prospect get what they need and understand that if you fail to close the sale, the prospect did not win. When you do not close the sale, the prospect and you both lost and you failed the prospect.
Let’s rid the word pitch and the pitch mentally from the modern era of professional selling.
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A great sales interaction is not an accident. While an expert-level sales professional can make a sales presentation LOOK like a casual, impromptu conversation, does not mean that it actually IS a causal, unplanned conversation.
In fact, a great sales presentation is very much like a good golf swing. Don’t worry, if you are not into the game of golf, I’m sure you will understand my analogy.
A professional golfer can make hitting a golf ball look easy. Tiger Woods steps up, grabs a golf club, let’s say a seven iron, and hits the ball 225 yards, it goes straight and ends up very close to the little flag. Ok.
To the average human, in particular those unfamiliar with the game of golf, the response is, “So what’s so special about that?” And understandably so. Tiger made it LOOK easy.
The fact however, is that what he did was the result of practicing that same swing, in that same situation, over and over again; not hundreds, but thousands or TENS of thousands of times.
That swing that looked so easy, is the result of a lifetime of training those exact muscles to hit that ball that way. That simple, easy golf swing is the result of thousands of hours of relentless study, countless hours of physical conditioning and dozens of years of repetitive rehearsals, scientific research and intense mental, emotional and psychological conditioning.
It LOOKS easy, but it is actually an unbelievably sophisticated, thoroughly complex, well-planned and orchestrated performance.
The Sales Interaction
Ask yourself, what is your sales interaction? Is it a well-planned, not canned, sophisticated strategy? Is it the result of countless hours of practice and study? Is your sales presentation something that you have mastered and can perform? Or is it just something that you threw together, so you just show up and throw it up?
A great sales presentation should appear to be a simple and spontaneous conversation. Yet it should actually be an extremely sophisticated and controlled plan executed by a master conductor!
Just how much time have you really invested into learning, practicing and perfecting your craft?
As for me, all I can say is…FORE!!!
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Often you get that prospect that wants to get you into a conversation about a sensitive issue such as political beliefs or theology. Also, there are those prospects that wish to use you as their personal sounding board for personal views on everything from racial issues to the sexual relations.
It does not matter if your personal views on such issues are the exact opposite of the prospect’s, or if they align perfectly. Views on unrelated personal beliefs are always a bumpy and dangerous road to travel in a sales situation.
Of course, you don’t want to be rude, and closing the sale is on the top of your mind. So how do you get the prospect back on track, without throwing away your chances to close the sale? Here are a few thoughts on that subject. In every case, you want to “side-step” the issue with a quick comment and then change the subject with a question.
#1 – That’s Interesting, but Deserves More Time
Let the prospect know that the subject matter is interesting but requires far too much time and in-depth discussion to engage in now. Then change the subject with a question.
“You know Steve, that is a very interesting point of view, and it certainly deserves a lot of time to discuss. Maybe we can get into that someday, but for right now, let me ask you… Do you know exactly how many of your web hits are being converted into solid leads for your sales team?”
#2 – Too Excited About the Product
Let the prospect know that you are so engrossed in what you sell, that you cannot even think about such other topics right now.
“Sarah, I can appreciate how you feel about that. However, I am so excited about our XJ2000 software that I can hardly think about politics right now…How many servers are you running at this location, anyway?”
#3 – Your Issues, Problems Are Too Important
Inform the prospect that his or her problems and issues are your paramount concern right now and you can only focus on that.
“Susan, I understand how you feel about that issue, but right now my main concern is that you are losing a ton of money in your warehouse. My job is to help you put some of that money back into your pocket. Do you have last month’s shipping report available?”
From the warm up to the close, keep the sales process on track.
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Whenever the idea of a planned presentation comes up, usually the first thing sales people think about is a “canned script.” In a canned script, I am referring to the old-fashioned, smile-and-dial era, word-for-word, rehearsed, “Pitch.” Such was a primary tool of sales people, in particular telemarketers, years ago. Alternatively, we had the opposite of the canned spiel with the show up and throw up method, where sales people just walked in and did whatever they thought came natural.
While most sales professionals have rose above the smile and dial pitch, the question arises of the validity of using a planned sales presentation today. While not exactly a throw-up tactic, many still believe it is best to know all you can know about your product and prospect, and then just go in and let the sales interaction flow impromptu, directed by the prospect’s interests. So, dealing with today’s modern and educated buyer, should you play-it-by-ear and wing it, or use a planned and structured sales interaction?
Defining a Planned Sales Interaction
I believe that for the majority of selling situations, you should use a well-planned and structured sales presentation; but allow me to define exactly what I mean.
Although with a planned presentation, you may have a few words or phrases that you might use verbatim, I am not talking about a canned script. By a planned presentation, I am referring to “a thoroughly interactive, yet totally controlled methodical process that systemically moves the sale through incremental, yet critical stages, accomplishing interim goals at each step, while maximizing the odds of closing the sale.”
You can keep your sales interaction feeling impromptu, but you must have a way to control the direction and outcomes. You should have a step-by-step process that leads to a successful conclusion. In such, you can maintain the flexibility to adapt to responses, yet keep the process on track towards a narrow objective.
A Planned sales interaction is a strategy. With a planned interaction, you want to know what you need to accomplish at each stage of the presentation. For instance, in your first step, you may want to design proper seating arrangements as soon as you arrive. Or you may want to find out more about the prospect’s delivery systems during your warm-up talk. Perhaps you need to uncover more about the current contract the prospect has with a competitor.
In your second stage, perhaps you need to uncover exactly how much the prospect is spending on the outdated system, how much time their people are wasting due to lack of training. It is a plan on what you need to accomplish and when.
Planned VS Canned
So what is the difference between a planned sales interaction and a canned pitch?
A Canned Script – PUSHES: Pushes benefits, forces ideas, and minimises interaction.
A Planned Structure – Pulls: Pulls out problems, uncovers pain and maximises interaction.
A Canned Script – SUPPRESSES: Suppresses responses and objections and stifles emotion.
A Planned Structure – EXTRACTS: Extracts responses and objections early or avoids them and stimulates emotion.
A Canned Script – TELLS: Tells the prospect things.
A Planned Structure – ASKS: Asks the prospect questions.
In dealing with today’s sophisticated and educated buyer, now more than ever, you need to have a well-thought-out plan. You must have a strategy to accomplish every sales goal, including just setting an appointment.
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“Find the prospect’s hot buttons!” “Push their hot buttons!” We’ve heard these thoughts before; but what do they mean? Is it to say that as a sales person you should try to discover your prospect’s primary areas of interest? How do you push those so-called buttons anyway? How do these hot buttons help you close sales? Exactly what is a Hot Button?
The Hot Button
For most sales people, the term Hot Button refers to some topic, product or service-point for which the prospect has very strong interest or desire. With this avenue of thinking, many sales people look to the benefits their product or service offers. They think, ‘find a benefit the prospect likes and push it to make the sale.’ Unfortunately, this is a mistake.
Merriam-Webster defines the adjective, “hot button” as, “An emotional and usually controversial issue or concern that triggers immediate intense reaction.”
The key words to remember are emotion and intense. A benefit does not usually create an emotional reaction that leads to a buying decision. Also, understand that the fear of loss is a far more intense emotion than the desire for gain.
Find Hot Buttons
To find the prospect’s emotional triggers, you need to find their problems. Unearth the prospect’s problems and pain and you will discover their hot buttons. Then present how your product or service will solve those problems, and you will be pushing those hot buttons.
Don’t Confuse Interest and Desire with Hot Buttons
Often when a prospect mentions some area of interest, the sales person assumes such is a hot button, and relentlessly pursues the idea. However, such initial areas of interest usually just scratch the surface of the prospect’s situation.
Also, keep in mind that today’s modern buyers are smart, and are not too quick to reveal their emotions and concerns, as they know doing so will weaken their negotiating strength. In addition, the prospect’s true hot buttons, those areas of serious problems and pain, may not be immediately evident, even to the prospect.
Solutions to Problems = Hot Buttons
You need to have a systematic method of asking questions to uncover the prospect’s problems. Find areas the prospect is losing, hurting or suffering in some way due to the lack of your product or service. Exemplify those areas of problems and pain, and then present your solution and you will hit the hot buttons on the head.
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Practice, practice, practice because practice makes perfect! While that age-old sentiment is nice, it is not true. Practice does not make perfect. Only Perfect practice makes perfect. I ask sales people if they routinely practice their presentation and often I get the response, “Oh, I have been doing this for years. I got it.” Or, “I’ve done this presentation so many times, I can do it in my sleep.”
Well, I have been “practicing” my golf swing for over 20 years, and it’s still not perfect. While you need to invest a significant amount of time in practicing your craft, you must make certain you are practicing the right stuff! Furthermore, you must routinely “check in” on yourself to ensure that you have not deviated in the wrong direction or got into bad habits.
Below are a few tips on practicing your sales presentation to get it perfect and to keep it that way! Depending on how long you have been selling some tips may not apply.
One of the best places to practice your sales presentation is alone, in front of the mirror. It is imperative that you first become very comfortable and natural with your sales presentation. No matter what you say, if you are uncomfortable saying it, you will have problems in the field. Practice adapting the presentation to fit your personality and style. Of course, assume the prospect responds as your presentation predicts.
Better still would be to video your presentation and then play it back.
Friend, Loved One
Now practice in front of a friendly, non-threatening, non-judgemental audience. Once again, this will help you to become comfortable in front of people.
Management or Trainer
Now get in front of your sales management or someone in your firm who is a confirmed expert in delivering the same sales presentation. It is important that this person or group are “qualified” to offer criticism and to help you correct your mistakes. Understand that this may not include your fellow sales associates.
A major mistake is to practice in front of and look for advice from an associate. Unless this person is qualified as a sales trainer who is authorised by your company to teach the sales presentation, do not choose such an audience.
Because a sales person has a higher closing average than you have, or is even a top sales person, it does not make him an expert to teach the sales presentation. That sales rep may do or say things that are grossly incorrect, but due to his personality, experience or any of a dozen other reasons, he is able to close successfully. However, it is possible that those same mistakes that cause one sales person no harm, can destroy another.
Practice with a qualified trainer, making adjustments until you know that you are practicing perfectly and then record your perfect presentation. If possible make a full video recording of your presentation.
Now get out there and practice in front of people who can write a purchase order!
Periodically, record yourself again, and compare it to the last recording of your sales presentation. While there may be some deliberate changes and enhancements, you will see when you begin to deviate too much. Keep practicing with the perfect presentation as the guide.
Tip For Sales Managers
Here is a way to help ensure that sales people practice perfectly and that the more experienced sales people do not get too far off track:
Have the more senior, experienced sales people perform the sales presentation in front of the sales team. You can do this as a sales training session or at a sales meeting. Give the sales person a few days advance notice that he or she is to perform the sales presentation for the team to help train the newer members. Inform him or her that your goal is for the new sales people to see the presentation done exactly the way it is supposed to be done, by a pro!
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