The paperclips didn't need a sales pitch. Neither do your clients.

SELLutions

Five important keys to winning when recruiting, hiring salespeople

by GSchulz 25. August 2012 02:08
From "Sellutions" South Florida Business Journal by Greta Schulz Date: Friday, August 17, 2012

I am currently working with a well-established organization and the following questions arose (as they do fairly regularly): How can I avoid making expensive hiring mistakes? How can I hire salespeople who will actually sell on value and not price?How do I find the top sales people and recognize that they are successful? I thought I would answer them here since it’s an ongoing organizational issue. Many resumes, which are what we typically look at when we are deciding who to hire, look good. Most people can make themselves look presentable for an interview. 

However, most organizations spend too much money hiring the wrong sales managers and salespeople. In most cases, it takes a year to replace those ineffective individuals. That costs you thousands of dollars in lost time, wasted wages and lost revenue.Traditional hiring approaches are typically reactive, ineffective and flawed. The decision-maker becomes dissatisfied with sagging sales numbers and says: “Get some new blood in here.” This promotes a recruiting blitz involving advertising, search firms and asking employees to identify attractive talent. Then we search, sort through resumes, do interviews, make offers, and hope and pray.This time-worn process often leads to failure. 

Profiling or benchmarking the ideal candidate for your organization, and testing or assessing to hire the right people that fit into your organization is imperative today.

Step 1: Benchmarking Identify the right candidate. The question CEOs need to ask themselves to determine the ideal sales candidate is: What are our primary target markets?Whom should they be calling on, and at what level in the organization? Are they doing that now? What is the financial commitment required of a prospect? This will show the comfort level of the individual selling if they always sold at that level.What are your competitive advantages? Are you the least expensive or most expensive in your industry? Are you very well known or brand new?What is your prospecting approach? Are you very proactive? Do you make cold calls from a list? What’s the level of product knowledge in-house and in the community?

Step 2: Search Companies that practice continual sales hiring – as opposed to as-needed hiring – do things differently. A salesperson is an asset, not a liability. So why are you not always looking for someone better than your best salesperson? If your approach is recruiting top-level salespeople, they are not always available when you need them. The best ones aren't looking for a job for long, if at all.Continuous recruiting starts with developing a staffing plan that helps you manage both the additional and potential reductions in your staff. Developing a plan months in advance will help you avoid crisis hiring. Make recruitment an important aspect of your corporate culture.

Step 3: Quantify Whether you outsource your recruiting or do it internally, make sure you know what you are looking for. Understand what qualities you're looking for and know where to look.Pre-qualifying on the phone is important. Your salespeople will likely be on the phone at least some of the time, so you need to know how they handle themselves. Find that out by asking some questions and seeing how they react, getting a feel for tonality and articulation. This will also help you avoid wasting time on an unnecessary meeting.

Step 4: Assessing the candidate Use an objective performance test to disqualify or validate your candidate. We tend to make decisions in our gut. Though our gut feeling is very strong, it’s also based on our own personal history and experiences. That is a good thing, but it needs to be used in addition to something that’s more intellectual and factual. Having a test to be able to look at the candidate objectively is very important.

Step 5: The interview is the most critical step. An effective interviewer sets the stage for the candidate to act and respond in the same manner he or she would with a prospect.To separate the high achievers from the ineffective salespeople, you need to stay away from the ”so tell me about yourself approach.” Get the candidate through a tough selling situation right away and see how they handle themselves.

For example, it’s important to push the candidate back some. Put them in a situation they’ll be when they try to sell to a prospect. They are not going to have an easy situation every time.I know this may be a little uncomfortable for most of us, but it is important to get a feel for how they react with a little pressure because that’s what sales is about. They will be getting pressure out in the field, so let’s give them a little pressure in the interview and see if they can stand up to the challenge.

Greta Schulz is a sales consultant for businesses and entrepreneurs.
For more sales training tips and tools, or to ask her a question, go to www.schulzbusiness.com or email greta@schulzbusiness.com.

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Selling Me A Car

by GSchulz 29. April 2012 17:27

I’m always trying to illustrate how professional sales really works -- helping your prospect self-realize that he or she needs (or in some cases, doesn’t need) your product or service. One of the best examples I’ve ever seen is one that happened to me when I decided to purchase a new Jeep.

Several years ago, I married a wonderful man who had two children. I also had a child of my own, so we were going to need a more “Brady-esque” car. After a lot of research, we decided that a Jeep Cherokee would do the trick. At that time, A Cherokee Laredo, the base model, would cost $299 a month to lease for three years with $1,000 down. A good deal for us by all accounts.

Since I know how car dealers work (or so I thought), I felt very strongly about staying emotionally detached and just purchasing the car for the price I wanted. I called the local Jeep dealership and asked for the sales manager. Richard (who I believe is still there) answered the phone. I explained to him that I wanted a Jeep Cherokee Laredo, dark green in color, and that I’d be willing to buy it today if he could match the price I wanted: $299 for a 36 month lease plus $1,000 down.

I was strong in my demand, making sure he knew I was in charge. Richard said he could match the price, but the only Cherokee Laredo he had on the lot was army green, not the dark green I wanted. Even though I was disappointed (the dark green is so much more “me”), I decided it was the route to go.

We arrived at the dealership, and I commanded my fiancée and the kids to stay in the car. “Wait here,” I said. “I’ll handle this.”

I walked into the showroom, where Richard greeted me. “You must be Greta,” he said with a sincere-looking smile.

“I am, “ I answered cautiously.

He smiled. “OK. Let’s go drive the car.”

I stopped him. “Oh no,” I exclaimed. “I want to talk money first!”

“Okay,” Richard replied. “But didn’t you say $299 for three years with $1,000 down? Since that’s what we agreed to, that’s what it is, right?”

With a half-smile on my face, I nodded proudly. “Right!”

As we walked through the lot to the army green (more of a pea green, actually) Jeep, Richard asked which car in the parking lot was mine. I pointed to the blue BMW where my fiancée and our kids waited. As we got into the Jeep, Richard made an interesting comment. “This car doesn’t have a leather interior,” he said. “It’s cloth, but that shouldn’t be a problem. I’m sure your kids don’t spill things at their age.”

“No, that’s OK,” I quickly replied.

As we pulled out of the dealership for the test drive, Richard played with the radio, then asked what kind of music I liked.

“Oh gosh, jazz. Top 40. Lot’s of different things.”

“Really?” he replied. “Do you have a lot of CDs?”

“Oh yes!” I proudly proclaimed. 

“Hmmm,” he mused. “You know this car doesn’t have a CD player, but I’m sure you’ve got cassettes.”

“Or I’ll just play the radio,” I said, not without reservation.

He smiled. “Of course you can,” he replied confidently.

As we pulled back into the dealership lot, Richard asked “So, what do you think?”

“Pretty nice,” I hesitantly replied. “It drives more like a truck, but hey, it’s not a BMW and you have to give up something, right?”

Silent, I walked into the showroom to go sign the papers.

“Hey Greta,” I heard Richard suddenly say. “That emerald green on that car down at the end of the lot…was that the color you originally asked me for?”

I felt sudden excitement. “Yes! But I thought you didn’t have one.”

“Not for a Laredo. But that’s a Grand Cherokee. It’s got all the bells and whistles, you know…CD player, leather seats and a smoother drive train. But that’s not the one you said you wanted.”

I couldn’t resist. “Ummmmm … how much more is it?”

Guess which one I drove away in (and only paid $70 more a month more for)? You got it!

And guess what I said to my fiancée when we were walking toward our new Grand Cherokee? “Honey, it’s more expensive, but I’m in sales. My car is like my office. I have to be comfortable.”

So what happened? Well, Richard did a really good job of finding out what was important to me. But he never told me those things were important. Instead, he asked the right questions that got me to self-realize that I wanted those things.

And what did I do? I made an emotional decision and justified it intellectually to my family. Remember, people love to buy, but they absolutely hate to be sold. So help them buy and stop selling them. It even worked on me, and I saw it coming.

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of "To Sell is Not to Sell" and a columnist for business journals around the country. Greta does corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs.

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The Take-Away

by GSchulz 27. March 2012 20:34
“I really can’t say that what you’ve shown me, Bob, does anything for me,” stated the prospect.

“In fact,” he went on, “your choice of colors is nowhere as extensive as your competitor’s, who was just in here this morning, by the way.”

Bob hated this type of prospect. And for some reason, the past five months had been filled with them. Gosh, thought Bob, this is going to be one of those meetings where he raises the hundred objections and I try to beat them down one after another.  There’s got to be a better way to make a living. “I didn’t know you were looking at anyone else,” responded Bob.

“Well, it’s what I should do. And I’ll tell you this now, right upfront, her prices are extremely favorable.  I doubt you could beat them.”

Here goes, thought Bob, start knocking them down. “Let’s talk about the colors; our colors are by far the…” Two hours later, Bob crawled out of the office with a signed purchase order. Totally exhausted, he got into his car, called the office and read them the order.

“Good work,” the sales manager responded, “but how come he’s ordering less than before?”

“The competition has got a proposal on the table,” responded Bob, “you wouldn’t believe what I had to do to get what we did.”  With a felling of dread he added, “I’m going back next week to see if I can knock them out.”

Bob was so afraid that he was going to lose the client that he was prepared to do just about anything to keep him. Bob had the guts to spend another two hours butting heads, but he did not have the guts to find out if he really needed to do this.

Taking a sale away, taking yourself out of the running, and then waiting for a response from the prospect/customer takes real guts. This is not a technique for those with weak knees. No one can fault Bob for his dedication to task. And most salespeople and sales managers would agree that in the above story, which happens every day, there was nothing else to do but “gut it out.” But there is something else.

Before Bob launched into meeting every objection, he could have done something very simple. He could have said, “You might not realize what you are telling me; I want to make sure that I have it right. The competition has more colors, the price is good, they were here this morning, I guess it’s over for me. When you gave the order to the salesperson this morning, was she excited?” And then wait for a response from the prospect, no matter how long it takes. In order for this technique to work, your really have to mean it and be prepared to “walk out the door” and not look back. If you cannot do this, this technique will blow up in your face. However, if you are truly prepared to walk away, this technique is incredibly powerful at eliminating objections. There are a multitude of words and gestures that you can use to “take it away” depending on what you are trying to accomplish and with whom.

Customers and prospects alike are famous for stating, in so many words, that the other guy can do better for less. In essence, you want to mirror back to them what they just told you and then state, not ask, “You did place the order.” Then do not speak until you get a response. Either the order has been placed or not. If is has, it probably really is over for you. If it hasn’t, then you deserve to know the reasons why. And when you find out why? You are now learning what you need to do to get the order or keep the order.

Prospects who gave given all the indications of being ready to buy, but who just resist closing, are especially susceptible to having it taken away. “Bill, you have given every indication that you are ready to buy. But for some reason you just aren’t sharing, you keep stopping short. I think I should leave.” Then wait for a response.

MORAL: Take it away ONLY if you are prepared to walk out the door. Once you take it away, wait for a response regardless of how long it takes.

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of "To Sell is Not to Sell" and a columnist for business journals around the country. Greta does corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs.

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Employee Motivation

by Admin 1. March 2012 18:11
I often get questions about motivating employees. My overall belief is, "you can’t motivate anyone to do anything, just give them an opportunity to motive themselves". That being said what do you do to give them an opportunity to motivate themselves?

As a business owner, you don't want employees who are only motivated to perform well so they can "win a prize". You want employees who are motivated to perform well every day, no matter what carrot you're dangling in front of them.

What you really need is a team of employees who are emotionally invested in your company. A feeling of ownership. To cultivate that, you need family support. No amount of job awards can out-influence the home front. You can offer praise and gifts left and right, but you won't see much improvement in your employees performance if she goes home to a partner who says, "How much longer are you going to work there if you’re not happy?"

Please don’t mis-understand, I'm not suggesting that your employees need to have a love affair at work. It's just that the men and women your employees go home to at night that have the power to motivate (or de-motivate) far better and faster than you could.

Here's the key to winning over an employee's family: Start from day one. The first thing your newly hired staff member will likely hear from a significant other when he gets home is, "How was your first day?" If he spent it mostly filling out a three-foot stack of forms, ordering his own business cards and eating lunch alone, he might rightfully answer: "Lousy." His better half will quickly get down on your company, too, and hardly encourage the top-notch performance you want to see.

There's a full-proof way to get employees, and their loved ones at home, excited about working for your company from day one. First, really make them feel welcome. We want to be liked and accepted. Start a new employee program at your company. Have all employees (depending on the size of your organization) make a point through out that first day to stop and say hello to the new employee and welcome them. I also really like the idea of a sign at the front door that says, “Welcome Jane Smith We are glad you are here”. Additionally a welcome cake at lunch for all to stop by and enjoy is a great idea as well.

So, what happens if your new recruit comes home with a great story about his amazing first day? His better half will realize the opportunity he has—she'll become the ultimate motivator, rather than detractor.

Keep in mind, there are many definitions of family. Your new employee may be single (or soon to be). It's your mission to find out who makes up his or her support system and give accordingly. Perhaps it's a gift card for a night out with pals or a matinee with mom.

When your employees hear daily words of encouragement from their closest confidantes like, "I can't believe how lucky you are to be working for that guy!" their motivation rises to levels you've never tapped before. It's worked for me in all of my companies. And even if you can't afford more than a home-baked cake or thank-you card, giving your new employees a best first day ever is the key to keeping them motivated for years to come.

There are so many statistics about how much better and more productive your employees are when they feel good about working for you. We spend lots of money to recruit, and hire a new team member. Lets not forget their value after they are hired.

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of "To Sell is Not to Sell" and a columnist for business journals around the country. Greta does corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs.

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It's Not Net Sit, It's Not Net Eat, It's NetWORK

by Admin 21. October 2011 18:14

Question of the Day
I enjoy reading your column as a marketer and small business owner I appreciate all of your good advice.  Have you ever addressed the issue of getting buyers, or your potential decision makers, to answer your phone calls or emails? One of the most frustrating parts of my business is connecting with a potential customer and then they never return calls or emails. Any suggestions? At what point do you stop trying to connect? Example, several weeks ago I was at a networking event and a woman gave me her card and said to call her to set up a meeting, we spoke at length and she was very interested in my services. I called she suggested we get together the first of April and gave me a list of questions I needed to be ready to answer. First week of April I contacted her she said call her April 8th, on April 8th she said call her the 15th...etc, until a week ago when her assistant said she will call you back, of course no call. I am sure I am not the only one who experiences this. Your thoughts?

-Joan

Well first of all Joan congratulations on networking. That is of course your best opportunity for you to find opportunities. When you speak to someone at a networking function you always want to ask about them first. The questions I recommend asking to everyone you meet are;

“What do you do?"

“How long have you been doing it?"

“What do you like about it?"

And “What is a good referral for you?"

The reason these questions are good is because networking is not just about you it is about learning about the other person. You are not trying to sell, you are trying to learn to see if you can help them and potentially build a “strategic alliance”(a strategic alliance is someone you build a relationship with to try to help refer business to each other).

There are times when someone will say, “Hey you sell web design, our company really needs a new web site, why don’t you call." Then you call the next day and leave message upon message and nothing happens. People are willing to say lots of things to be “nice." In a networking environment, people often think of themselves being in a somewhat social atmosphere so people say what they might socially with not a lot of meaning.

I recommend when someone does approach you about your product or service, always pull-back a bit. What I mean by that is if someone says they need a new web site, say to them, “wow you guys are a very well known company, I can’t imagine you need help with your web site?”. You will either hear something like, “well, you never know…” which means there is really no need they are just being nice or they might say, “ no we really have been looking into updating ours. We really don’t know what we need but we talked about making some real changes”. I would ask a few more questions to pre-qualify that this is real and say, “ Well if you want to sit and talk a little about what your needs are, I would be more then willing to learn more about what you need to see if I can help. What do you think?”.

It is important to pre-qualify any opportunity to see if it really is one. Pulling back with a few “take-away” questions with assure one way or the other if it is a true prospect or not.

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