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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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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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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Why Fishing and Sales are Similar

by GSchulz 30. March 2011 23:47

Being the fun-loving Floridian that I am, I absolutely love to fish! A couple weekends ago, my husband and I were out in the boat with a friend of his that happened to be a novice fisherman. Peter and I were determined to teach him the ropes.

After watching him fish for the first half of the day, I figured out what he was doing wrong. Every time he saw that he was getting a nibble, he immediately jerked the line to attempt to catch the fish. What he didn’t realize was that when he jerked the line, he was yanking the bait out of the fish’s mouth. Every real fisherman knows that when you see you’re getting a nibble, you have to let the line out a little bit in order to really allow the fish to get a hold of the bait. Then when the next nibble comes, let the line out even more to really let him grab on. Finally, when you get a really big bite, you can jerk the line, hook the fish, and reel him in.

As I was explaining all of this to Peter’s friend, I couldn’t help but to see the similarities between fishing and sales. Think about it…in fishing, the first nibble isn’t the time to reel the fish in. In sales, the first time you speak with a prospect and he shows a little interest, you can’t expect you’re going to close the deal right then and there. Just like in fishing, you have to tease your prospect a tiny bit by “letting the line out” slowly. And when the prospect bites hard, you reel in the deal.

To better understand this concept, let’s look at an example. Sue with ABC Company is meeting with James of XYZ Company to discuss potential business. When Sue begins to recommend which of her products would be best for James, he retorts with a quick “you know, I think what you’re saying might be great, but I think the company that I’m with now has a product that better fits me.”

Instead of assuming that James is 100% happy with his current company and has no interest in making a change, Sue should let the proverbial line out a little bit and reply “You know, maybe you’re right. If they have a product that better suits you, maybe you should stay with them.”

“Well, I do like the complementary products you offer, but I’m just not sure,” James says.

“We do have some great complementary products, but do you really think that if you’re not happy with the primary product that we offer, you’d be happy with us in the long run? Maybe it would be better for you to just stick with the company you’re with.”

Finally, James replies, “No. You know what, I really admire your honesty and I feel like your company is the better fit for me. How do we get started?”

The moral of the story Sue didn’t immediately give her entire “we’re great, we’re wonderful, switch to us” spiel when James showed his first bit of interest. Instead, she continued to go negative and push James away, helping him self-realize that ABC Company was the better fit for him. People don’t believe what we tell them, they believe what we ask them. If Sue were to come straight out and tell James that her products and company were the better fit for him, do you think he’d believe her? No! Sue had to help James realize for himself that ABC Company was the better fit.

So the next time your prospect starts to go negative by saying they’re not sure your company is right for them, go MORE negative. GO FISH! Let your line out! Once you get a big enough bite, hook that prospect and reel in a client!

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