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

SELLutions

Don't Take Shortcuts in Sales

by GSchulz 3. November 2014 08:46
Tim, a software sales rep, had been having a rough day. He’d been bombarded with questions from several customers and had gotten behind on a proposal that he needed to finish before the end of the day. Then he got a call from Gene, a prospect who introduced himself by saying:

- "I’ve heard great things about your accounting software package. I saw a demo about a year ago, and was not in a position to purchase it at the time, but since then it’s become very apparent that I need to integrate it immediately into my system."
-"Wow," thought Tim. "This will be easy. It’s about time something went right today."

Then Gene said:

-"I need to know about pricing and availability. And tech support is important, too. Tell me how that works."

Tim went into his pitch. He discussed tech support in detail, covered availability and other options, and explained that the price was $8000 with 30-day terms. Gene’s response was unexpected. He said that $8000 was quite a hefty price tag and he needed a couple of days to consider the purchase more carefully. He’d call Tim back next week. Tim did a double take. "What just happened?" he thought. "This sale was in the bag, a sure thing, and now he’s thinking it over? He said he needed the software right away." And that was the end of the call.  

Diagnosis: Tim got lazy, plain and simple.

He thought Gene was sold. All he had to do was give Gene the info he needed, then write it up. He got conned into doing a presentation without getting Gene to demonstrate why he was so excited about buying the software. The entire transaction was conducted at the intellectual level.

Prescription: Don’t be lured into taking shortcuts.

Don’t mistake the prospect’s enthusiasm for your product or service as a sure sale. Take the time to qualify the prospect and make sure he’s real before you make your presentation. In Tim’s case, a couple of quick questions would have made a world of difference. He might have said, "Before we discuss pricing, help me understand why this software is so important. I want to make sure the application is correct for you. Mind if I ask you a couple of questions?" Of course, you’re probing for pain and one of the most important things to find out is the financial impact of not implementing a solution. Having discovered the financial impact and, assuming it was significant, you will find that the cost of the solution disappears as an objection.

Don’t take shortcuts! Don’t assume anything. Get the prospect involved at an emotional, not an intellectual, level. Use the system, qualify completely, and get the sale.   Click here to share this post.

Is social media killing our sales skills?

by GSchulz 27. October 2014 07:11
Recently, I spoke to an organization that spent an ungodly amount of time, energy and money on Social Media to create Lead Generation.

So my question was, "Now what?” they said, "What do you mean?" I said “Okay, so you got a whole bunch of people calling you or contacting you through a web form, email etc. How's your closing ratio?” They looked at me like I had three heads.

The issue is a simple one, just because we believe that we have found a new way to generate business, it is not generating business…alone. Lead generation is Interest, lead generation is getting people to the door. Are they coming over the threshold and are you closing the door behind them? That's a very Important step. One without the other results in no revenue.  

Between Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and Bing ads on any of the Social Media sites, Blogs amongst other things we do today to build leads is it really working? That's one question. If we’re doing all of the things that we need to do in Social Media and all the ‘white noise’ is going out, what is it bringing us? Well, it should be bringing us Leads. It should be bringing us Emails, filling out contact Information or a website, web forms and phone call, and if that's happening, Great you have reached step one. This is a very important step but it is ONLY step one.

The million dollar question is "Now What?"  It's important to make sure that we know once people contact us or when we contact them back, we are using the right process to follow up from any kind of lead generation that we get. Are we setting some ground rules at the beginning of the conversation? Are we asking good. Thought provoking open-ended questions to engage them and truly understand their needs beyond what the told you? DO we have a true picture of all of this before we have the cost conversation and do you clearly understand the next step and what that means as opposed to just “checking back” or following up with them?

It's important to understand that when someone contacts you, they are often contacting several people within your industry. You don't have a relationship built, there were just some low levels of interest that got them to contact you. Is it better than you calling out cold? Well certainly it is but you still needs the same attention to process as you always did. Getting somebody to call you is only the beginning. So, what are the other steps: What are we doing when we contact them or they call us. Are we using the process properly? 

Here is what we typically see;    When we get them on the phone, they will typically ask you a simple question that I call a "Wall Question" which is they put up a wall and the question sounds something like this:

- "Hey, I see you guys sell widgets. Can you tell me if I bought a hundred widgets what that would cost?" and we say,
- "Sure, let me look. What kind of widgets you are looking for?

- "We're looking for widget A or widget B."
- "Okay well, widget A would be $75,000 for a hundred widgets and widget B would be $82,000."
- "Oh, that's a lot of money. "
- "Well, maybe I can do a little better."

You negotiate a price and they say

- "Okay sounds good, ah we'll call you back” Or “Sounds good, can you send me a proposal / price sheet/ some more information?"  

We get their email, we send that information in writing and cricket, we never hear from them again. We try to contact them back, they don't contact us. We try to call them, they don't take our call, and we leave messages. Sound familiar? Of course, it does. The same situation that happened before when you did your prospecting more proactively occurred. Prospecting hasn't changed. Sales and the sales process hasn't changed just because they're contacting you.  In fact, I would say that it is more difficult now because we are not as on top of our game since they contacted us we feel it is a ‘hot’ lead. Not only do you need to do a good job on working on the sales process in closing the sale, you need to do a better job than you ever have before because remember, they have control. They're the ones that are calling you but they're also calling your competitor. So they've done a little homework, they know who's out there and they know what the pricing is out there. That's where the sale process comes in. If you don't have a process, you're going to fail. Whether they're lead generating through Social Media or not.  

Greta Schulz is President of SchulzBusiness, a sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of “To Sell IS Not To Sell” and works with fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips go to www.schulzbusiness.com and sign up for ‘GretaNomics’, a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com     Click here to share this post.

Everything You Need To Know About Social Media Etiquette For Business

by GSchulz 12. October 2014 07:46

Over the last few years, social media has evolved into a powerful tool for businesses. Not only does it help businesses build a strong reputation online, but it can also help businesses reach more customers and increase engagement.

However, before you can dive into social media, there are a few rules you need to know first. Although it might seem like social media is a simple marketing tool, there are some important factors to help in mind:

1. Always respond to customers.

Whether it’s a good or bad comment from a customer, always respond to their feedback. It’s also crucial to respond to their questions within in 30 minutes to an hour. This rule applies primarily to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

2. Carefully use hashtags.

Hashtags are a powerful communication tool for your brand, however they can become very tricky, too.

When using hashtags to boost engagement, use hashtags that relate to your brand and industry. Especially if you’re sharing content on Twitter and Instagram, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right hashtag to connect with your audience.

3. Publish engaging content.

If you want to build relationships with your customers through social media, then you need to create engaging content.

Post videos, photos, and interactive media to your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts. Visual content is key to building relationships, so make sure your strategy follows this rule.

4. Be human.

When customers engage with a brand on social media, they want to feel like they’re talking to a person. As you post content and respond to customers, use a friendly and genuine voice. This will improve your brand’s reputation and build stronger relationships with your audience.

If you follow these rules, you’ll greatly improve your business’ social media strategy. To learn more of the rules regarding social media etiquette, check out the infographic below:

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The Frustration of Others in Sales

by GSchulz 30. September 2014 02:42
I just got off the phone with a very upset salesperson. Sandy is what you might call a “people person”. She is very outgoing, vivacious and friendly. She is chatty at times which doesn’t always make for the best salesperson but, when push comes to shove, she gets the job done.   She was upset because her new boss, Valerie, sent her a very “cold” email. Response and she got upset that she is in some sort of trouble. 

I asked her a bit about what she thinks it might be about and she didn’t know but was really worried. She loves her job and hopes the new boss likes her.   Sandy sent Valerie an email telling her about a great sales call she had. Sandy gave lots of detail in the email about how they got along, what questions she asked and how interested the prospect was to get together and talk further about working together.  

Asked Valerie if she would be able to go with her on this appointment she had set up for next week since she doesn’t feel she know the product as well as she would like and would feel more confident if Valerie joined her.   Valerie send back an email that simply said,” I’ll have to deal with this tomorrow”. That’s it. No “Hi Sandy”, no “good job on this” and no “from Valerie” at the end of the email.   

I actually was surprised at Sandy’s emotion behind this so I asked her to send the correspondence to me.   So what happened here? In a word, nothing. Sandy sees things, like we all do, though our own eyes.  There have been several studies over the years about how people interpret things. There are huge cultural differences but even among people with similar cultures there are different personality traits and styles that we often don’t recognize, or even think about.   

I want to review some so we can get clear on our understanding because lets face it, in business as in life, we have a distinct advantage if we can read another person and help them feel more comfortable with us. I am not suggesting that we change out personality. I am suggesting we be more aware of the differences and work to mirror them. When someone sees you as similar to them, which is the idea of mirroring, they begin to feel more comfortable with you, often only subconsciously. That is enough though to start out the conversation or relationship on the right foot.   

First of all there are four different personality styles that we all general fit into.  We are often combinations of a few but here are the general definitions;   Dominant – A dominant style is the person whose need is to be in control and have power. This person is typically a leader in an organization because that is how they see their role. They are typically very task oriented and say things like “just get to the bottom line”. They are not very patient because they are always on to the next thing. Influencer- The life of the party owns this style. This is the ones that you’d say, ‘you’re a real people person’. Lots of these people end up in sales because they feel like they can persuade others to their way of thinking. This is not necessarily true. We often fall victim to this. It takes more to sell they just the ability to bond with another. (Sandy in the above example)   Steady Relater- A steady relater is just what it sounds like. 

This person has a need for little change and little conflict. If someone possesses this style they are often great supporters for your organization. Give them a task and they will get it done. Just be careful not to make quick changes on them, they will silently rebel.   Cautious Thinker- This is the detail oriented , data driven organized employees. These people are very bright, well read and often initially a bit skeptical of others. They will get the task done as well but they will cross all T’s and dot all I’s so have some patience and don’t ask for it too quickly.   

Hopefully this will shed some light on why some people do what they do and if you understand why they do it, you can work better together. Getting frustrated because someone is different then you and does things different then how you might do them is only going to frustrate you more. Understanding will help get things done.  
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Is Your Sales Manager Managing Time well?

by GSchulz 23. September 2014 08:24
Is he or she balancing priorities properly? How do you know? A big dilemma faced by most executives is what is my sales manager doing and more importantly what should they be doing?  It is a mystery but it shouldn't be.

There are 3 priorities in my opinion that should always take the bulk of your sales managers time. Some are obvious and some not. Priority one is hiring. Yes hiring. I am tired of hearing executives say to me, “well of course we have the regular 80/20 rule; 20 percent are really good and making their numbers consistently and the other 80 percent are inconsistent, one month up one down.” Why is this ok? Why is this an accepted practice? The most common reason for this is a simple one. We have 6 territories to fill and we have sales people in each of the territories so we have no hiring need. What? Here is the question. If your sales manager or any of your salespeople told you they have a good amount of accounts right now, they are pretty happy with them and if they lose one, then they will look for another to replace it, what would you do? Most executives say to me, “Are you kidding? I would fire them.”  Well that’s what you’re doing when you allow your sales force to stay stagnant with non-performers and look for replacements when someone leaves.  

Looking for sales superstars is something that is ongoing and constant. If you found someone better then your best person tomorrow wouldn't you find a place for them in your organization? Of course you would so why are you not constantly looking for that? Your sales manager should spend no less then 30 percent of their time on all that is hiring; looking, phone interviewing, doing assessments, in-person interviewing etc.    

Priority two is coaching. Who do we coach on our team to get the most from them? Where do sales managers spend their time, with A B or C players? Most would tell you with the A players to help close deals, then they would tell you with the Cs since they need the most work. I would tell you the B players will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Though this is priority two, this should take up about 40% of your sales managers time. Lets first Identify what each of the players are.

A players are typically about 20% of your sales force. They are consistently hitting their numbers, driven to continue on that path and don’t allow excuses to get in their way. B players are good strong salespeople, have good attitudes but really need some help to reach the next level and are open to it. Probably about 40% of your group. The C players are excuse makers, blame others for their failures and are inconsistent in their sales numbers.

They make up about 20% of your sales force. Also my own observation only, I often notice these are the reps that have been around for a long time and either have fallen in success and been ok with that or have always been average at best but have been in the organization for a long time so they have simply moved along. These are typically about 20% as well. Spend time with B players. They want to learn and will take best to the coaching.

Your ‘most improved’ nominees are sitting here. Priority three is accountability. Keeping your sales people accountable is very important for several reasons. First of all if they can track what they are doing activity-wise, they can themselves track what is working what isn’t. In sales you are in some respects, in your own business.

Sales people can create the amount of money they want to make and to help them by identifying what that looks like and help them analyze successes and changes they should make for the most success is the sales managers job. Additionally, we need to know for ourselves what it truly takes to make a success in a particular area of the business to create forecasts and projections.

This should be about 10-20 % of their time. Greta Schulz is President of SchulzBusiness, a sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of “To Sell IS Not To Sell” and works with fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs.

For more information or free sales tips go to www.schulzbusiness.com and sign up for ‘GretaNomics’, a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com     Click here to share this post.

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