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

SELLutions

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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Sales Assessments: To Test or Not to Test

by GSchulz 4. September 2011 18:16

When hiring, employers must make sure that the application and assessment process meets defensible standards. With the excessive use (and often misuse) of internet- based “quick, easy and free” personality tests offered as hiring tools, violations of rules set forth by the Department of Labor are becoming more frequent. Though the Department of Labor document citing the guidelines is considered unexciting and often tedious reading, it should be considered required reading for any employer or manager in charge of hiring or promotion decisions. Adhering to the guidelines as best as possible could keep employers out of harm’s way when it comes to legal battles.

The Department of Labor offers 13 different guidelines that employers should follow when deciding on an “assessment initiative”. They are as follows:

  1. Use assessments and assessment tools in the manner in which they are indicated or advised (follow the directions!). When employers misuse an assessment tool or program, they could potentially face legal issues in the future.
  2. Use the “whole- person approach” when testing. Remember, no test is perfect! Use an assessment test, or maybe even a combination of tests, that will give you as much information as possible about behaviors most important to your business.
  3. Use tests that are unbiased and fair to all groups. Even tests that inadvertently discriminate may keep employers from gaining a qualified and diverse work group and may kindle, you guessed it, more legal battles.
  4. Use tests that are reliable. Make sure that the questions offered on the test are not tricky and that they seek specific responses.
  5. Make sure that the assessments being used are valid for the specific purpose intended. This may be considered one of the most important criterions in the selection process. Validity is simply the specific assessment’s ability to measure the target characteristic at a level that can be useful to the employer.
  6. Assessment tests must be appropriate and applicable for the target population of desired employees (a.k.a., tests must be specific to your trade). For example, you would never give a person applying for a job at a burger joint an assessment designed specifically to assess dental hygienists.
  7. Instructions and all other documentation must be completely comprehensive and easy for applicants to understand.
  8. If the assessment test requires proctoring and/or administering, make sure that the people performing these actions are properly trained and qualified to do so. Some instruments require an extensive certification process to administer, proctor, and score tests.
  9. Provide consistent standard and uniform testing conditions in order to obtain more consistent results. The key is keeping test takers from being distracted to assure the integrity of the test results.
  10. Provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. Remember: no group should ever be disadvantaged by the test or the conditions under which the test is taken.
  11. Strong test security is important if the test results are going to be useful. Tests and their scoring should never be assessable to the general public.
  12. Test results must be maintained in a confidential manner. Most effective are tests taken over the internet requiring a username and password.
  13.  Accurate interpretation of results is tremendously necessary. Nothing is worse than bad interpretation of good data. Don’t let that happen to you!

Though these guidelines might sound dull and restricting, the Department of Labor does support the use sound testing and assessment strategy, and actually acknowledges the difficulty employers now have of “attracting, developing and retaining the best employees.” They go on to say that a well built and solid assessment strategy can “maximize chances for getting the right fit between jobs and employees.” (DOL publication, “Testing and Assessment: An Employers Guide to Good Practices”)\



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Common CEO Questions

by GSchulz 26. August 2011 15:12

I thought I would write about the most common questions I get from Presidents and CEO’s around the country about their sales organizations. It doesn’t matter the industry, the time of year or the economic outlook, these are pretty consistent.


1. Why don’t our sales people prospect more as opposed to waiting for business to come in?

Human nature is to take the path of least resistance. If enough business for them-and this might be a completely different number then for you and your goals- is walking in the door or calling on the phone, why should they prospect? Being reactive is a whole lot easier then being proactive so if you haven’t made those activity goals very clear then why should they?


Revenue goals are important but activity goals are a whole lot more important. Yep, you read this right, more important. When someone is consistency meeting their activity goals then you have the ability to track #1, are they committed to what you have asked them to do (this is huge), #2 you can help them on what they are actually saying and doing in front of  a prospect to improve their closing ratio. Without knowing the amount of calls they are making consistently, this information is completely irrelevant.


2. How do I motivate my sales team to do more?


First of all, do more then what? There needs to be goals established for them as mentioned above, for revenue and activity. You may already be doing that and congratulations if you are. They still may be falling short so I have a few questions for you to ponder.

  1. Are they making more money then they have previously either in this position or another? If so, they may not be motivated enough to work hard enough to reach a goal you want them to reach. We often take the goals we set for them last year (and the year before and the year before) and hike that number up 10% or 15%. That may be your goal, but if it isn’t necessarily theirs and if they don’t see a need to reach so high, you could be in some trouble. They can be motivated to reach that number, but you better have that discussion with them not for them. 
  2. If your salespeople don’t reach goal (whether revenue or activity) what is the consequence? Salespeople -actually all of us-are just big kids. They need what is expected of them to be clear and laid out, they need to know the benefit of reaching and exceeding those expectations and the consequences if they don’t. Be careful not to just assume that if you tell them the goals and leave them alone they will get there. They might but if they don’t, wouldn’t you rather try to help them rather then having a revolving door of salespeople through your organization?   


3. I can talk to a local business person about our product/service and sell it and I’m not even a salesperson? Why can’t they?


In order to answer this, I'm going to make a few assumptions. As the owner (president ,CEO) of an organization, a conversation you have with a colleague will be different then a sales person has because you aren’t selling anything. You are more often then not, having a conversation about some other topic as well, the local state of business, the economy, politics, take your pick, but there is a much higher level of conversation happening so it doesn’t feel like a sale. There are other factors as well. Maybe you are someone of stature or clout in the community and people look at you as an equal, a partner, maybe even someone that can help them down the road. So shouldn’t your salespeople be seen different then you? Actually, the answer is no. Every day we teach people how to treat us. If we are acting like a salesperson, they will be treated like one. You don’t act like one. So the key here is you need to get your salespeople to act as an equal, a partner not a person trying to “pitch” something. When they accomplish that, they will be able to sell like you do.


Have more questions about the best way to train your sales team? Looking for a program to help increase your sales? Need a keynote sales speaker for your next business event or conference? Contact our sales consulting company to help!

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A CEO Perspective - Hiring Sales People and Simple Math

by GSchulz 16. February 2011 23:01

Are my salespeople the best they can be? Are they doing all they can do? These are questions I often hear from CEO’s and Executives in the business world. When I ask them what they’re doing now, they refer to their revenue. Beautiful, but how do you know that they are long term, A-players? Are they executing the correct behaviors to grow your business in the long term, or are they just collecting “low hanging fruit” for today?

Complete this simple exercise and calculate how much profit improvement potential exists within your sales force. Ask yourself these four questions:

  1. a) On average, how many new prospect contacts does my average seller make a month? b) How many would the ideal, “A-Player” sales person make?
  2. a) On average, what is the closing ratio (%) of my average seller? b) What would it be for an “A-Player?”
  3. a) On average, what’s the dollar value of an average sale for my average seller? b) What would it be for an “A-Player?”
  4. a) What is the total number of people in your sales force? b) How many “A-Players” do you have now in your sales force?
Now complete the following simple math to examine existing sales force:
  1. Subtract (4a)-(4b). This represents your “talent-gap.”
  2. Multiply (1a) x (2a) x (3a). This represents the “old-you.”
  3. Multiply (1b) x (2b) x (3b) x (4b) x (12 months). This is how much incremental revenue you could book in 2005, simply by raising your expectations. Staggering isn’t it?

So how do you get these results? Raising your performance expectations demands improvement from your sales team in three areas, and from you in one: For your team:

  • Your sellers must be more effective at prospecting. That means creating a prospecting plan and holding them to it. That means ‘calling high’ in your prospect’s organizations. That means creating and delivering a compelling message about the problems you can solve for your prospects. That means planting their feet and getting appointments instead of just sending literature.
    1. Your sellers must also understand the process and skill of true networking. I don?t mean going through the motions of showing up at an event, with drink in hand, while only speaking to friends and colleagues that you already know. That means having a plan and a goal before you walk in and not leaving without it being completed.
    2. Your sellers must improve their closing ratios. That means learning how to listen to a prospect’s real problems. That means getting your prospects to discover your company is worth a premium. That means getting prospects to make and keep commitments. That means delivering powerful, moving presentations that hit your prospects’ real needs, every time. That also means your sellers stop wasting time with people who are not going to do business with them.
    3. Your sellers must raise the amount of money they ask for. That means calling on larger prospects. That means eliminating discounting. That means giving your price, at your terms, and having your customers delighted to give it to you.

    The commitment that you, as CEO, must make is this: You must do whatever it takes to eliminate the status quo in your sales force. If you don’t have the best, develop those that aren’t, or replace them with those that are.

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