Remember the Sales Basics by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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In recent years, sales professionals have faced loads of new challenges. Internet sales, in particular, have taken the market from manindex2y professionals and made it far more difficult to meet quotas. In addition, many industries that were once more service related have become more focused on price competitiveness. If you’re in sales, it’s critical to remember the basics that help you achieve your sales goals even when competing with a lower price and Internet sales.

  1. Retention. If you sell anything that offers the possibility for repeat sales, retaining your customers is critical. It costs much less to keep a customer than to look for a new one. Customer service, follow up and attention to details will help you keep the customers you have.
  1. Trust. If you are trustworthy, customers want to buy from you. Be sure that you follow some simple rules when it comes to dealing with customers. Tell the truth and represent your product accurately. Do what you say you’ll do. Follow up and readily provide information.
  1. Knowledge. Become an expert in your field. People want to buy from someone who knows more than they about the product they seek. They want you to be able to handle this part of their life from them, and they’ll often walk away if you don’t know the technical answers.
  1. Be a fixture in your industry and your community. The key to keeping a pipeline of prospects is to work to being the name that comes to mind when people in your territory need what you sell. Know your territory and invest in that community. The more people see your face and associate you with caring about your product, your customer and your community, the more likely they will be to seek you out when they need what you sell.
  1. Create connections. There is no substitute for being able to connect with people. Hone this skill so that you become someone people want to buy from. Believe in your product and be your authentic self, as most folks can spot a phony a mile away. It’s not about being a slick salesperson; it’s about a human connection that makes people want to do business with you.

All of these traits transcend industry and type of sales. When you can master these traits, you’ll be able to compete regardless of how competitive your industry becomes.

 

CASE STUDY: Sales Training

TOPIC: Sales Training

INDUSTRY: Banking

ASSESSMENT/SITUATION: During an introduction meeting, I was asked if I did sales training. I said that I did and proceeded to learn more about this need. Once I had all of the details of what they were looking for, I booked a follow-up appointment to meet with their VP & Director of Sales.  This program was for a group of newly-hired mortgage advisors who had never worked in a role that required them to be their own bosses. Some had sales experience, but the majority of them did not.  The VP and Director of Sales wanted them to learn sales skills, plus gain an understanding of what it is like to work as an entrepreneur.

ATHENA PARTNER MATCHING: On occasion, when the need is a fit for my offerings, I will submit my personal proposal.  This was the case for this client.

SOLUTION:  I designed an interactive program that included sales skills, networking skills (including a mock networking event), objection handling (including practice in handling their most common objections), designing their unique selling propositio, understanding their mindset and how it affects their results, the importance of tenacious self-leadership and continuous follow-up.  I included exercises that had them identify their centres of influence, as well as new and creative ways to prospect.  Both the VP and Director thought I hit the nail on the head with the program content.  We decided to run a pilot first before rolling out across Canada.

RESULTS: The feedback from the pilot program was fantastic; as a result, for the next 1.5 years, I delivered the program at locations across Canada.  I often get comments on LinkedIn from some of the attendees, thanking me for what they’ve learned and how implementing those techniques have made a difference for them in their sales results.

Confidentiality is very important to us at Athena Training and Consulting Inc.  The case studies outlined in the “Athena In Action” series are being shared as examples of the variety of solutions we have provided to our clients for over a decade.  The company names and individuals have been kept private in compliance with our Privacy Policy.

 About the Author:  Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

I have an unquenchable passion for life-long learning and continuous improvement. I am a Training Agent, Certified Coach and Sales trainer. I work with organizations to simplify the process and reduce the risk of outsourcing training, coaching and HR Consulting.  I provide a one-source solution to finding the “Perfect Fit” training solution for sustainable results.   I believe contributing to the strengthening of my client’s most powerful asset, their employees, is today’s most valuable investment.

cstradling@athenatrainingandconsulting.com

www.athenatrainingandconsulting.com

416-290-5227

 

 

CASE STUDY: Developing Sales Swagger

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TOPIC: Annual Sales Conference Options

INDUSTRY: Healthcare

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ASSESSMENT/SITUATION:  I received a call from a client who was looking for a creative way for her sales team to demonstrate more confidence in their jobs.  Most of the sales team had over ten years’ tenure with the firm; due to the seriousness of their product, they had developed a serious approach to sales.  The client wanted the reps to have more “swagger” and excitement in their interactions with their clients.  They had had motivational speakers and various sales training courses in the past and, while they were great, they didn’t address the issue of confidence. This was the type of challenge I love to work on.

ATHENA PARTNER MATCHING:  One of the members of the Athena Alliance is very experienced in delivering Improv sessions. After speaking with my partner, I knew that this would be a great option to help transform the sales team.  Lots of laughter and doing things outside of their comfort zones would help them to shift their perspective.

SOLUTION:  The Alliance partner provided a one-day session using Improv techniques to get them out of their comfort zones and learned techniques to communicate more powerfully and to have more of a presence when they entered the room.

RESULTS:  The Director of Sales was thrilled with the session.  Although a few of the sales folks had some challenges doing all of the exercises initially, they all eventually participated.  There was a lot of laughter, and the Director shared with me that the team expressed their gratitude for arranging this important session.  They felt energized and excited to return to work.  The team also bonded during the exercises in a new way, a bonus as far as the Director was concerned.

Confidentiality is very important to us at Athena Training and Consulting Inc. The company names and individuals have been kept private in compliance with our Privacy Policy.

Blind Spots ~ Solving Hidden Business Problems (Excerpts Part Four)

Why is it that some leaders are successful, while others struggle?  In this guide in narrative form, Russell Baxter, a fictional character and outgoing CEO, shares his secrets of success with incoming CEO Amir Ahmed.  Baxter demonstrates that great leaders need tobookcoversmall be aware of their vulnerabilities or blind spots and take action to make necessary changes.Filled with practical advice, Blind Spots shows the value on drawing on experts to develop valuable skills that can take your business to the next level.  For the month of September our blog will highlight short excerpts from our book Blind Spots ~ Solving Hidden Business Problems.

Blind Spot Ten: Presenting Without Authenticity

GOOD PRESENTATIONS USE CONGRUENT ELEMENTS

A presentation is more than just saying the right words. It’s about being your personal best. This performance hinges on congruency: making sure how you look, how you speak, and what you say, is aligned with your intent for the presentation.

When we prepare for a presentation, too often we focus solely on our words. We don’t practice delivery, and we don’t wonder about the time, place, or mood of the audience. But, we can harness these elements to empower a presentation.

EASY WAYS TO ENGAGE AN AUDIENCE

Use a golden thread. It’s not enough to just ramble on in a presentation, you have to connect everything you do in a certain flow. A strong opening and closing are vital, as are that congruency we talked about earlier.

 Ask questions. Genuine or rhetorical questions can quickly grasp an audience’s attention. It brings them into an engaged role with the presenter, as opposed to being passive observers in the presentation.

Minimize distractions. Think of the setup of your room—does it focus audience attention on you? Think of when you’ll give handouts—will people start reading ahead and divert their attention from you?

Go minimal for Powerpoint. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then one slide is worth eight minutes of talking. Instead of overloading your slides with transcripts from your speech, use them as visual aides to highlight your points. A good rule of thumb is to have a maximum of eight words per line, eight lines per slide and one point on every slide.

Be comfortable. You don’t have to be Tony Robbins, just be your authentic self. If you try to be someone you’re not, the audience will sense it, and they’ll disengage from your message.

 Blind Spot Eleven: Selling Without Understanding Needs

 GOOD SALESPEOPLE ASK QUESTIONS

Good sales aren’t about picking up the phones and talking; good sales are about asking great questions, listening to the client, and then helping them discover how your products and services can help them.

Neil Rakham’s SPIN model is one mode of selling by asking questions. In SPIN selling, the salesperson lets the client do the talking by asking questions. These questions begin by understanding the client’s situation, learning about the client’s problem, finding out the implications of that problem, and then discovering the payoff that they would receive from buying your product. Throughout this period, the client voices their concerns, and comes to their own conclusions about buying. Since a client naturally trusts an opinion they arrive at themselves more, this makes for a powerful selling tool!

EDUCATE YOUR STAFF ALL THE WAY UP

Your entire sales team, from top to bottom, exists to sell your product. As such, your entire team needs to be geared towards that goal.Sales is a unique business practice, and managers need insight into that practice to drive sales. Salespeople benefit more from coaching than from managing. A manager can say “go make this many sales” but a coach can fire up their staff, driving them to complete their task. By giving your senior staff management and coaching training, you’ll give them superior tools to manage your sales staff, and to coach them to achieve more results.

Blind Spot Twelve: Not Engaging Your Remote Workers

 WHY VIRTUAL TEAMS?

With the world becoming increasingly connected and globalized, the need for work to be done face-to-face is diminishing. And with the evolution of technology, it’s cheaper and easier than ever to hold a virtual meeting and conduct business from around the world.

 ENGAGE VIRTUAL WORKERS ON A PERSONAL LEVEL

Virtual teams have a downside. If nobody initiates social interaction or makes an effort to build enduring relationships, it’s easy for employees to become disengaged. Think about how isolated and disconnected a virtual team member can feel from the rest of the team!

The solution is to build more intimate relationships with your teammates. Although work-related chatter is important, it’s necessary to get to know the personal side of your colleagues.

You can do this by making room for small talk. On special occasions, such as welcoming a new team member, you can arrange virtual pizza parties—just have pizza delivered to your team at lunchtime, and for those in a different time zone, send them a gift certificate for their local coffee shop. Gestures such as these will make everyone feel like an integral part of the team.

You can even play games to kick off a meeting, such as posting a map of the world and asking your team members to use a pointer tool—available with many web conferencing tools—to pinpoint their location. Engaging in any kind of game or activity gets team members involved in pre-meeting discussions.

Your associates will reciprocate your persistent attempt to get to know them better by being more interested in you.

 

 

 

12 Top Best Practices for Successful Sales Professionals – Part Four – by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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12 Top Best Practices for Successful Sales Professionals – Part Four – by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Continued from Part Three

10) Recap for Understanding During a sales call I am always taking notes. I want to remember and document the pertinent information from each of my sales calls.  This is particularly important when I am doing a needs assessment.  I make a habit of recapping my understanding of what there need is, the timing of the project and any other particulars that are relevant to the proposal.  I find when I read back the notes from our discussion there is often additional information and ideas that the client will add to our original discussion.  It also saves me from going off and preparing a proposal with any misicheck marknformation.

11) Know Values/Benefits  To me this is a critical to a salesperson’s success. I am sometimes surprised to see how many of the participants in my sessions sell features.  I learned very early in my career that people buy benefits.  What can your product or service do for me? The WIIFM for everyone is critical.  I like to take it a step further and make sure that how you communicate the values and benefits be authentic to you.  Companies spend millions of dollars every year coming up with branding and slogans to let the world know who they are.  I think a salesperson should also infuse their own personality and values to any value proposition.  This goes a long way to deliver a truly authentic message from the sales person making the presentation.

12) Matching Styles – As humans we have a tendency to get along with and trust people who are much like ourselves.  I have found if I match pace and tonality when I am speaking with people on the phone, leaving voice messages or meeting face-to-face helps to connect more quickly.  I have been in meetings where I simply didn’t connect with the person initially, and once I consciously started to match their pace and tonality I seemed to be able to develop rapport.  The key here is to be subtle and natural, otherwise the prospect will sense you are not being genuine.

Let’s make this a baker’s dozen…

13) Tell the Truth – Like most salespeople, I have been faced with delivering some not so good news to clients.  I have found that even bad news can be delivered professionally.  If I don’t know something, I simply take great notes and tell my prospects and clients that I will find out and get back to them.  I make sure I follow up in a timely manner.  Customers have told me that they appreciate my honesty.  This just makes good business sense to me if you want your clients to trust you, you have to be trustworthy.

12 Top Best Practices for Successful Sales Professionals – Part Three – by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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12 Top Best Practices for Successful Sales Professionals – Part Three – by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Continued from Part Two

7) Talk to the Decision Maker – I know this sounds obvious but it can be tricky at times to get to speak with the senior person who ultimately makes the decision. Decision makers are busy people and have people to support them in a variety of duties, including screening incoming calls.  It has been my experience to make friends with the assistant as a first step.  If you can’t speak to the decision maker first hand, I will start to develop a relationship with their assistant.  I recently confirmed an account with a large financial institution because I did just that.  It was over a year before I was able to get in front of the decision maker.  The VP said she admired my persistence.

8) Pleasant Persistence Pays – if there is one best practice that has yielded me the most results, it is being pleasantly persistent.  I have a system of staying in touch with people that helps them keep me top of mind.  I know that often when I am cold calling there is very little chance that the prospect would     have a need for training when I call. (in fact I read recently it was a 3% chance that the person I was calling would have a need at the exact time I placed my call)  I have a very soft approach and because I am so lit up about the value we deliver and the benefits of working with me.   Often the prospect is curious about how Athena Training and Consulting could help them and are willing to meet with me.  My introduction meetings are very short and people are so pleased that I called them.  I provide them with a unique one-stop solution that simplifies their process.  I simply love sharing what we offer and I know what a difference it can make.objection

9) Objection Handling – Accepting that objections are simply part of the sales process.  Knowing your top three or four objectives and preparing to handle them is one of the keys to ongoing success.  Often people’s objections are a signal that they either don’t fully understand how your solution will solve their problem or they want more information.  With some people their automatic first response is no. Years ago I lost a big opportunity because I wasn’t fully prepared to handle the objections that came up in a sales presentation.  I learned from that experience and now I do my best to assess any possible objections and I put them right up front in the presentation.  I deal with them before they even come up.

Making the Shift from Manager to Coach by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC (Part Two)

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 Making the Shift from Manager to Coach by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC (Part Two)

Profile and Characteristics of an Effective Sales Coach

1.    Walk your talk – model the behaviour you want to see in others

2.    Follow your heart, not your head in a coaching session (ie: not just asking from a list of questions)1to1coaching

3.    Know when to give them the answer (sometimes they do need you to tell them)

4.    Develop our own coaching style and be consistent

5.    Be willing to give up your own agenda

 Masterful Coaching Principles

1.    Embrace fear

2.    Be present – get out of your own head

3.    Coach from an agenda-free space and detach from the outcome

4.    Be accountable for the message and what the other person is hearing (own your communication and adjust if needed)

5.    Be driven by the process rather than the results (execute the process which produces the results)

6.    Coach for new possibilities versus expectations – subtle but powerful difference

a.    Possibility – something that may exist or what could happen – creating opportunities that didn’t exist or were not visible before

b.    Expectation – rigid agenda with a specific outcome leaving no room for creativity

Erickson Fundamentals

1.    Okayness principle – people are OKAY – there is nothing wrong

2.    People already have all the resources to be successful

3.    Behind every behaviour there is a positive intention

4.    People always make the best choice available to them

5.    Change is not only possible, but inevitable

Don’t Believe Everything They Say

Often Client Representatives have a number of ways to justify their behaviour, performance and circumstances.

·         Stories

·         Beliefs

·         Mindset

·         Assumptions

·         Past experiences

·         Blind spots

·         Values

Everything will come back to “Reasons or Results” – the choices made in the moment.  Effective coaching coaches the person on the relationship to their stories, beliefs to uncover what is really going on.

The 80/20 Rule on Coaching Questions

During any true coaching session, the salesperson should be doing 80% of the talking, and the sales coach should be doing 20%.  A well crafted question can cause a tremendous breakthrough when coaching someone.  Asking questions is an art form.  When you give people the space to digest the right questions, you will open up to new possibilities that neither you nor your Client Representatives have ever experienced before.

What Exactly Can You Coach?

1.    The Who values, passion, standards, boundaries, integrity

2.    The Attitudebeliefs, mindset, philosophy, outlook and assumptions

3.    The LessonWhat have they learned? Why are the same lessons repeating themselves?  Are they getting it?

4.    The Ideal Characteristicsthe ideal qualities you have defined that encompass a sales leader or manager. (Extroverted, actionable, curious, organized, strong integrity and presence, knowledgeable, comfortable disposition, smart, responsiveness etc).

5.    The Skill– Is there any missing discipline or one that needs further development?

6.    The Activity– Are they engaging activities that support their goals?

7.    The Strategy – How do they plan to achieve the intended result?  What resources are needed?

8.    The Commitment– Observe their energy level, consistency, enthusiasm and motivation.

9.    The Communication – The language, dialogue or communication regarding style, deliver, presence and disposition.

10.  The Relationships– The relationships they have with intangible concepts and feelings as well as their stories, beliefs, mindset etc.

According to the Gallop Organization, “Only 20% of employees working in large organizations feel their strengths are in play every day – that means most organizations operate at 20% of their potential and capacity.”

 

 

 

Making the Shift from Manager to Coach by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC (Part One)

coachingcycle

Making the Shift from Manager to Coach by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC (Part One)

For the most part managers today spend a great deal of their time managing projects, data, processes, troubleshooting, problems and information.  Although the usual job description would state that managers manage people, this is often not the case. When managers move to a coaching model it gives Sales Representatives the opportunity to generate their own insights, solutions and possibilities that will have them drive their results.  It is an advise free conversation and process of discovery.  Coaching is based on the belief that the question is the answer.

coachingcycleWhat is Sales Coaching?

Coaching is a process of inquiry that is interactive and collaborative.  Coaching builds accountability when it is performed in a safe environment for people to honour their commitments.

Coaching helps tap into a person’s unused strengths and talents that advances their personal growth and learning.  Coaching helps people discover their personal best.

Effective sales coaching is a co-creation without attachment and wanting more for your sales people than they want for themselves.  Coaching is about the sales person not the coach. If you find yourself thinking about or using the word “I” a lot while you are coaching – it has become about you.  Sometimes new coaches make it about themselves and wanting to “do it right.”

Often new coaches are so committed to providing results they give the person the answers prematurely.  Give the sales person the space they need to arrive at their own conclusion.  Sometimes just listening is a powerful coaching process and may be all that is needed. Providing a safe place during a coaching session where the sales person can talk freely and openly without feeling vulnerable is one of the most powerful coaching strategies.

Coaching Sales Representatives is about what they want for themselves more that what you want for them.  People unintentionally lie to themselves and believe the lies to be true. 

Sometimes people are afraid to admit they don’t have the skills. Good coaches need to constantly gauge the resistance level, if pushed too hard Sales Representatives will either shutdown or push back.

Finding out what the salesperson’s expectations are from the coaching, the value they expect and how they would like to be coached will greatly impact the results.

Once the sales manager takes full accountability for themselves as well as their team members, they will then be able to empower others to be fully accountable for themselves.

Making your people right, even when they are wrong makes a huge impact on their productivity and attitudes.  To see the rightness in Sales Representatives, you must believe that people are doing the best they can at any given moment.  If their best doesn’t meet your standards, you always have the choice to make changes.

Managers may think they don’t always have time to coach their Sales Representatives, but think about the things that are taking you away from coaching and meeting with your Sales  Representatives in the first place. Coaching is about having the Sales Representatives grow on their own.  Questions broaden their peripheral vision so they can best respond to the events or things that are coming at the.  Ask your Sales Representatives how they want to be coached. Three fundamental rules of sales coaching:

1.    Let your Sales Representatives do all the work.

2.    Let your Sales Representatives do all the work.

3.      See rules one and two and let your Sales Representatives do all the work.

12 Top Best Practices for Successful Sales Professionals – Part Three – by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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12 Top Best Practices for Successful Sales Professionals – Part Three – by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Continued from Part Two

7) Talk to the Decision Maker – I know this sounds obvious but it can be tricky at times to get to speak with the senior person who ultimately makes the decision. Decision makers are busy people and have people to support them in a variety of duties, including screening incoming calls.  It has been my experience to make friends with the assistant as a first step.  If you can’t speak to the decision maker first hand, I will start to develop a relationship with their assistant.  I recently confirmed an account with a large financial institution because I did just that.  It was over a year before I was able to get in front of the decision maker.  The VP said she admired my persistence.sales coaching

8) Pleasant Persistence Pays – if there is one best practice that has yielded me the most results, it is being pleasantly persistent.  I havea system of staying in touch with people that helps them keep me top of mind.  I know that often when I am cold calling there is very little chance that the prospect would have a need for training when I call. (in fact I read recently it was a 3% chance that the person I was calling would have a need at the exact time I placed my call)  I have a very soft approach and because I am so lit up about the value we deliver and the benefits of working with me.   Often the prospect is curious about how Athena Training and Consulting could help them and are willing to meet with me.  My introduction meetings are very short and people are so pleased that I called them.  I provide them with a unique one-stop solution that simplifies their process.  I simply love sharing what we offer and I know what a difference it can make.

9) Objection HandlingAccepting that objections are simply part of the sales process.  Knowing your top three or four objectives and preparing to handle them is one of the keys to ongoing success.  Often people’s objections are a signal that they either don’t fully understand how your solution will solve their problem or they want more information.  With some people their automatic first response is no. Years ago I lost a big opportunity because I wasn’t fully prepared to handle the objections that came up in a sales presentation.  I learned from that experience and now I do my best to assess any possible objections and I put them right up front in the presentation.  I deal with them before they even come up.

 

Sales Coaching for Accelerated Results

sales manager - coach salespeople, support, encouragement, accountability, rightness

 

Sales Coaching for Accelerated Results

by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

 

Coaching is about change. Change comes from a dream of something better.  Coaching engages your imagination and at the same time is immensely practical in the real world.

When we dream we use our imagination, we soar beyond the confines of our lives into a wider world where many things are possible and we are not restricted to the cards we have been dealt.  We are free to take any wild card and transform our hand.  Dreams take us beyond ourselves.  Every change in our life starts as a dream, We use our imagination to project ourselves into the best of all futures.

 

What is Sales Coaching?

Coaching is about giving salespeople the opportunity to generate their own insights, solutions and possibilities that will have them drive sales-manager-coach-salespeople-support-encouragement-accountability-rightnesstheir results.  It is an advise free conversation and process of discovery.  Coaching is based on the belief that the question is the answer. Coaching is a process of inquiry that is interactive and collaborative.  Coaching builds accountability when it is performed in a safe environment for people to honour their commitments.

Coaching helps tap into a person’s unused strengths and talents that advances their personal growth and learning.  Coaching helps people discover their personal best.

Effective sales coaching is a co-creation without attachment and wanting more for your sales people than they want for themselves.  Coaching is about the sales person not the coach. If you find yourself thinking about or using the word “I” a lot while you are coaching – it has become about you.  Sometimes new coaches make it about themselves and wanting to “do it right.”

Often new coaches are so committed to providing results they give the person the answers prematurely.  Give the sales person the space they need to arrive at their own conclusion.  Sometimes just listening is a powerful coaching process and may be all that is needed. Providing a safe place during a coaching session where the sales person can talk freely and openly without feeling vulnerable is one of the most powerful coaching strategies.

Coaching salespeople is about what they want for themselves more that what you want for them.  People unintentionally lie to themselves and believe the lies to be true. 

Sometimes people are afraid to admit they don’t have the skills. Good coaches need to constantly gauge the resistance level, if pushed too hard salespeople will either shutdown or push back.

Finding out what the salesperson’s expectations are from the coaching, the value they expect and how they would like to be coached will greatly impact the results.

Once the sales manager takes full accountability for themselves as well as their team members, they will then be able to empower others to be fully accountable for themselves.

Making your people right, even when they are wrong makes a huge impact on their productivity and attitudes.  To see the rightness in salespeople, you must believe that people are doing the best they can at any given moment.  If their best doesn’t meet your standards, you always have the choice to make changes.

Managers may think they don’t always have time to coach their salespeople, but think about the things that are taking you away from coaching and meeting with your salespeople in the first place.  Many of the issues and problems that need to be dealt with are often actually a result of not coaching and connecting with our salespeople.

Coaching is about having the salespeople grow on their own.  Questions broaden their peripheral vision so they can best respond to the events or things that are coming at the.  Ask your salespeople how they want to be coached. Three fundamental rules of sales coaching:

  1. Let your salespeople do all the work.
  2. Let your salespeople do all the work.
  3. See rules one and two and let your salespeople do all the work.