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

SELLutions

Are you the 20% guy (or girl)?

by GSchulz 17. February 2014 13:31
Do your prospects perceive you as a commodity, even if you don’t? Do they see you as the person they’ll consider working with if you can give them a discount? Guess what? You're the 20 percent guy (or girl).How do you know? They say things to you like: “Things are tough and I’d like to give you a shot, but you have to beat this price.” And you fall for it. 

So here’s the question: If you are not always the cheapest and you have business, how is that possible? If everyone buys because it’s all the same and they’ll only switch with a discount, how does anyone have any business? I recently worked with an insurance agency that gets it. Their top salesman was giving examples of how he works with – or, in some cases, refuses to work with – his prospects. 

Right from the beginning, he is clear that he may not be able to save them money and may even cost more then they are paying now, but he has the ability to bring a true consultative approach to the conversation. And if they respect and are open to that, he can do a true diagnosis of the situation. Some of the prospects he talks to are quickly brushing him off. 

They tell him that if he can’t save them money, then forget it. He is so thankful when that happens. Why? Because time is the only true asset we have in sales, and to save some by spending more time with qualified prospects is invaluable. What does qualified mean? It doesn’t mean, for example, that you only call on organizations with a minimum of 200 employees. 

Since they fit that criterion, they’re qualified. No, it’s much more than that. Consider: Do they have needs that aren’t being met by there existing representative? Are they willing to share these with you and openly discuss their situation: the good, the bad and the ugly? Will they open their “files” to you so you can do a true analysis and not hold back? What will they do if you are not going to be the least expensive, but solve some of the issues you uncover and give them a true assessment? These are a few of the things that need to be dealt with when you prequalify a prospect. 

What are we really talking about here? Plain and simple, we are talking about trust. Yes, trust. This is the deciding factor in any relationship. Without trust, you have game playing, bidding wars and all-around time wasters. How is trust gained? Certainly not by telling them you are trustworthy. Why not? Because people trust you based on your actions, not what you say. It’s the way you work with them, the questions you ask them and truly listening to what they say. 

Don’t jump to a proposal, and don’t promise them anything – especially not too early – and always pull back when questions like “Can you save us money?” and “Can you give us better coverage’s or better service?” come up. Yes, pull back. The answer to these questions should be something like: “I certainly hope so, and that’s our goal. But it’s too early in the process to really tell you any of that with confidence”Scary? Yep. I get it, but start telling the truth – even if it hurts. 

Have the tough conversations with the tough questions. That’s where true respect and trust come from. You sure don’t want to be the 20 percent guy, do you? 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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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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A Great Salesperson is Not Your Best Manager

by Admin 6. February 2012 16:43

The most common questions I think I get, hands down, are: “Greta, where do I find a good sales manager?” or “Who on our team do you think would be a good manager?” Most of the time, they take their best salesperson and promote him, or they take somebody who has been in the field or sold before and hire her. What happens? Well, I’ll tell you: More often than not, it’s unsuccessful. To illustrate why, I’m going to tell you a story about Evan.

I work with a very prominent, high-end Web design company, one of the largest in the country. It has a wonderful reputation, and its salespeople are skilled, though they needed to learn some process. So the company hired me about a year and a half ago.

The sales manager they had was absolutely fabulous at sales – one of the best I’ve seen. And when I taught them my sales process, most of them – and certainly him – took to the process like a duck to water. The sales manager, named Don, took this process and made it his own. He totally got it, he understood it and he started selling like nobody’s business.

Well that’s great, but how were the others doing? They weren’t really hitting their potential. Why? Because they weren’t really being managed. Now, don’t get me wrong. Don was one of the best salesmen I’ve ever seen, but management and sales are two completely different things. So the owner and I sat down and talked. I said: “You know, I think you are holding Don back by making him a sales manager. He could be not only your top salesperson, but he could make a heck of a lot more money, and I don’t think he enjoys what he’s doing.” He said: “Well, what do you think we should do?”

Now, before I talk to you about Evan, I want to tell you a little bit about how the organization works. They have salespeople who will go out, cultivate the business, gather it, get it to a point where they have some technical conversation ready to happen, and then they have what they call “business consultants” come in to talk more on the technical side. That being said, their salespeople and their business consultants were both involved in my training and both learned the process.

But Evan, who was a business consultant, learned the process inside and out. Why? In my opinion, it’s because he’s a real process-oriented guy. Most salespeople believe whatever they want to believe, but Evan believes one plus one equals two.

So, when I suggested to the owner, Jeff, that he should make Evan the sales director, he almost fell over. He looked at me like I had three heads, and told me that Evan had never been in sales before. I said that’s precisely it. What I meant was that most of us think incorrectly about what we need in a sales manager.

A sales manager does not need to be the best salesperson because, unless you can teach someone through osmosis how to sell, that particular skill is not transferrable unless it is taught and accounted for. Even if they could articulate it, it really doesn’t make any difference because it can’t be repeatable and made accountable for unless it has steps to follow. Here is why Evan is a good sales leader:

  • Strong coaching. He could coach because he didn’t have his ego all tied up in “when I was a salesperson, this is what I would do.” He was a coach because he understood that coaching through a particular process allows for repeatable, accountable success and a clear understanding of what went wrong if a sale isn’t made.
  • It takes leadership. A leader is somebody who doesn’t tell someone what to do, but asks questions and gets them to realize what they should do. Evan was very skilled at this because the most intelligent people are the ones who ask, not tell. When someone self-discovers an answer to a question, it becomes theirs. When it is theirs, they learn.
  • Keeping people accountable. This is the one that most sales managers miss on. Because they will allow a salesperson to say everything looks good when nothing is happening. So, the proper way to manage a sales group is by keeping them accountable by the activities they do. Coach them through each step of the sales process to get closer to the next step in the process, which is closer to the close.

After pondering this for a month or two, Geoff decided to make Evan a sales director for about 90 days to see how it went on both sides. It’s almost a year later, and it had to be the best decision they ever made. In one year, they went from $3.5 million in revenue to more than $5 million. I think I can take some credit for that, but Evan can take much more of the credit for keeping them accountable, coaching and leading them to success.

So, how are you going to find your next sales manager?

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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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How Professionals Sell

by GSchulz 21. August 2011 15:06

About two weeks ago I was doing a seminar for a variety of professionals. Some sales professionals and some non-sales professionals. I often find that non-sales professionals (attorneys, doctors, engineers, architects) believe that the expertise they possess is what is most important when “selling” their services to others. It could be, but most often, a layman does not have enough knowledge to know the level of their expertise so it is most often assumed by the prospect. Therefore, what are the next criteria they use to makes decision on who to work with?

 

“Well, Greta I understand that you need to ask clients what they are looking for but it is different for me” (by the way, whenever someone says to me their business is different, I tell them that they owe me one dollar. I am collecting dollars from everyone who says their business is different and I am very close to retiring….).

 

When I asked him why it is different, he exclaimed that in professional services (he was an attorney) people make decisions on the professionals level of expertise. Yep he told me they are buying “expertise”. Well let’s evaluate this for a minute. Most people who are buying these services are assuming expertise. Since that is an assumption, what is the next level of decision making? That is the question isn’t it. I will tell you it is not based on what you often think it is based on.

 

First of all, unless you are calling on robots, your business is not different. If you are trying to gain additional business from humans it has more to do with the way they make decisions, not what you sell.

 

So let me give you an example. If you went to the doctor and told him, “Doc I have a real pain in my ankle” and the Doctor (a professional, remember) said, “Yes I’ve seen that before. Take this (handing you a sample of a white ointment) and this I’ll work”. How do you feel? Ripped off, uncomfortable, not confident? But why, he used his expertise, right?

 

Let’s try this again. Same symptom, same situation. You go to the Doctor and say, Doc, I have a real pain in my ankle”.  He asks a series of questions; “How long have you had it? Is it a dull or sharp pain? Have you injured yourself at all recently? Does it hurt more at different times of the day? He takes an X-ray and says, “I know just what it is. Take this (handling you a sample of white ointment) this will help your pain”.

 

How do you feel now? Better about the situation. Why? The prescription was the same. So is it about the answer or how you get there. It truly is how you get there. Sales like anything else is about belief. Belief is an emotion not an intellectual thought. Belief comes from different places but I will tell you it most often comes from creating self-realization in the person you are selling to.


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

 

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