Remember the Sales Basics by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

index2

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: Developing Sales Swagger

AIA 600x314 (2)

TOPIC: Annual Sales Conference Options

INDUSTRY: Healthcare

AIA 600x314 (2)

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

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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

Group of happy business people laughing

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.

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

question mark

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

Continued from Part One

4) Listening – Often people think that the sales people who have the “Gift of the Gab” are the most successful in sales.  I used to think that many years ago when I first went into sales.  I learned very quickly that this is not the case at all.  Sales people who have the ability to listen to what is being said, as well as what is not being said, often report a much deeper connection with their customers.  I have found it very helpful to not only listen to the words a prospect or customers says but also to listen to the non verbal communication.  Sometimes listening to tone of someone’s voice can reveal their level of commitment or enthusiasm about what you are offering.  Observing body language during a meeting is also another way to observe the level of interest.  It iquestion marks one of the greatest gifts we can give to someone, the opportunity to be heard.

5) Questioning – It has been my experience that when I go into a meeting, whether a prospect or a client I have more success when I come to the meeting with some relevant questions to ask.  It is not so much about telling a customer what I can do for them but more about finding out what they need and then I can fit the solution to their specific need. I personally use the SPIN model for questioning and I find it works very well. When I am training other sales people I find that most of them don’t ask the tough “I” questions.

S- situation questions – solicits data and facts in the form of background information and descriptions of the buyer’s existing situation.  These questions are used early in the sales call and can provide sales people with leads to fully develop the buyer’s needs and expectations.  Situation questions are essential and should be used in moderation.  i.e. Who are you currently dealing with?  Who is involved in the purchasing decision?

P- problem questions – used to further probe for specific difficulties or areas of dissatisfaction.  Problem questions more actively involve the buyer and help them better understand their own problems and needs.  i.e.  What kind of reliability problems are you experiencing with your current supplier?

 I- implication questions – the purpose of these questions is assist the buyer into thinking about the possible consequences of the problem and understand the urgency of resolving the problem in a way that motivates them to seek a solution. i.e.  How does this affect your profitability?

N- need-Payoff questions – these questions propose a solution and develop commitment from the customer.  These questions refocus the buyer’s attention to the solutions rather than the problems.

i.e. If we could provide you with increased reliability, would that be of interest to you?

 6) Qualifying – I agree with Zig Ziglar – there are suspects, prospects and customers and everyone is a suspect until they are qualified.  I have many customers in many different sectors but they all have some common criteria.  I have found that once I identified the most relevant information that I need to qualify a potential customer, it helps me to move past the ones that most likely won’t do business with my organization anyway.  It is worth the time to identify what companies meet your qualifying criteria.

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

goals2

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

For the month of August am going to republish an earlier series of blogs. During my sales training programs I am often asked about the best practices I have adopted for myself over the years.  I have distilled them into twelve and will share three per week for the month of August.I have always believed that we are all in sales in one form or another so these best practices do not only apply to those in the selling profession and can be applied to many situations.

1)    Attitude is everything – this may not sound like a best practice, but believe me it is.  How we do anything is how we do everything. If your attitude is negative or cynical before you undertake any task it will definitely affect not only your results, but the experience of everyone who interacts with you.  Before you pick up the phone, go on a sales call or interact with others in your organization, do a personal check in.  Do an attitude check and ask yourself “Am I present and focused right now.  Is my intention positive or negative?”  When I do this I ask myself “Am I working in Mediocrity or Mastery today?”  I always choose Mastery and it sets the tone and my results for the day. target

2)    Goal, objective and targets – setting BIG goals and high targets has always been the way I go about setting my objectives for the year.  I set annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.  I find by keeping the BIG goals in sight, broken down as daily actionable items really helps me stay on track.  Monthly I review my activities to see where I am on or off target and take any necessary actions.  I have a call sheet that I created so I can track my daily activities such as calls, proposals submitted or connections made, again a simple visible tool to let me know how I am doing.  There is a saying I heard years ago “Inch by Inch Success is a Cinch” and it sounds simple but it really does come down to what you do with your minutes to achieve your desired outcomes.

 3)    Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan – this is the Intel slogan that I am in total agreement with. In addition to setting my goals and targets for the year, I also create an annual plan for marketing, new program offerings, newsletters and sources for new prospects.  There are 5 questions that I learned from a Landmark Education leadership program to ask myself when I am creating my plan that really help:

a.    What do I know to do? (what’s obvious)

b.    What am I saying I will do? (get present to what you say)

c.    What do others expect me to do even though I haven’t said I would do it?

d.    What do I have to do to have my work complete?

e.    What do I have to do to do this as it was meant to be done?

I find when I ask these questions it gives me a deeper connection and commitment to my plans, yielding me greater results.

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

1to1coaching

 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.”

 

 

 

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

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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.

 

That’s Interesting, Tell me more… (Having a powerful Elevator Communication)

elevator pitch speech communication

That’s Interesting, Tell me more…
(Having a powerful Elevator Communication)

by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

elevator pitch speech communicationHave you ever had the experience of asking someone at a business function what they did for a living, only to have them ramble on in great detail about their roles and responsibilities?  I know I have and frankly, I usually stop listening very soon after they start to talk.  A much more effective way to engage people in conversation of this nature is to have a brief elevator communication.  Some people refer to this communication as an elevator speech or elevator pitch.  Personally I have found that if you call it a pitch or a speech that is what it sounds like, that is why I prefer calling it communication.

The purpose of having this short statement is to pique people’s interest and have them ask you to tell them more and to keep the conversation going.  When I work with groups during my sales training programs to create their own authentic elevator communication, the results are very inspiring.

Recently I had a group of 28 people participating in a sales training program and I had them go through a process to help them clearly define their own unique value they add.  Each of the 28 people were selling exactly the same products and services and yet they were able to each come up with their own authentic statement.  It was inspiring to listen to each of the participants share their elevator communication.  They all were so amazed at how different each message was and agreed this would help them in the future when they met new people.

Take a few minutes and create your own authentic communication using the process below!

Let’s  get started!

Answer the following questions:

  1. What I do for my customer ?

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

  2. What difference does what I do make for my clients?  What impact do I have?

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

  3. What are some of the common issue with my clients?  Are there common triggers that cause them to buy?

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

  4. Reasons people do business with me (i.e. save money, save time, productivity, higher quality, better service)

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

  5. What do I personally bring to the offering?

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

Break your communication into two parts:

 

  1. Describe what you do

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

  2. Benefits to the customer

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

How long should it be?

The shorter the better. Some suggest 15, 20, 30 seconds, never more than 30 seconds.  Most important is that you are authentic, and comfortable with your message and you can say it smoothly. Once you get into a conversation with the other person your elevator speech has done it’s job.

 

When to use?

  • When introducing yourself to others
  • On your outgoing voice mail message
  • In your outgoing email signature
  • On your literature, advertising, business card or letterhead
  • When you leave a voice mail
  • On your website
  • When you are in a conversation with someone on the phone
  • Networking events

 

Tips

  • Write your elevator communication
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Preface your elevator communication by asking for permission to continue – during a phone conversation (say something like “Do you have a moment?”)
  • In the beginning some people include a “So That” phrase as a connector between parts 1 and 2 – not necessary and usually once you are comfortable with you Elevator Speech you may find you will not use this at all
  • Use your elevator communication everyday