While listening to a webinar today by Dan Pink, best selling author of “To Sell is Human” he mentioned that one of the qualities we need to engage more is to be of service to others.
It was kismet in that earlier in the day, I was walking to an appointment with a client and the phrase “open my heart” came to mind. Not sure why. I know I really want to help this gentleman. He is starting his own business, is a nice guy, earnest, hard working and struggling a little. This was our last scheduled meeting for me to coach him so I wanted to do as much as I could for him.
Open my heart. God does that sound nauseating, even to, or especially to me, but it is in the vain of what I am doing personally and think I can help others with as well.
So what does it mean and how does it relate to selling. Several interpretations of an open heart include:
“that the ultimate goal of opening our hearts and minds is so that people can experience the openness, wisdom, and warmth that is the essence of our being”
“it means being more compassionate”
“it means being less worried so you can be more present and listen”
It is obvious that these qualities will help you help your customers and have them be more open, responsive and trusting of you. It also helps “leave our ego outside” so we can do the same.
BTW, my meeting with my customer went 30 minutes longer, was the best meeting of many great meetings we had, AND I have several more opportunities because of it.
Let me know what you think.
Yesterday while I was volunteering at a food pantry I got an email that a client had decided to use my coaching services. I was taken by surprise since I wasn't in a business frame of mind, but nonetheless very happy and, being the pro-active person I am, I responded by saying so and giving him some days and times for us to speak.
Without getting into the details of how email messages can be misunderstood, or not written properly (my bad) we went back and forth several times.
I started to worry about his being concerned working with me when our email interaction was not as tight as it should have been. On my way to meet my brother for dinner, my worry became anxiety, a feeling my meditation is helping me deal with more effectively, but I struggled with it this time. My mind had a hard time letting go. I tried:
- A logical approach
- A so-what approach
- An ignore it approach
- A get involved in what I am doing approach
- but none of it worked.
So I decided to do something very basic and simple. I took a few minutes to get centered by concentrating on my breathing. After that, I brought to mind the situation and the anxiety I was feeling, and in this more relaxed place I watched and observed my reaction vs. being controlled by it.
I ended up calling vs. emailing and telling him this call was the official message of time and date to meet. I also sent him an invite. End of story the meet is on, and probably would have been regardless, but I am focusing on anxiety and I felt much less anxious.
- I was less harsh to myself and more accepting that it wasn't as bad as I was making it, and if it didn't happen, “I would survive “.
- I caused the anxiety by “rushing” into my additional response. No need to even when excited about the situation.
- Worry and anxiety are OK in healthy proportions but if they bring upset , than something is amiss.
- Maybe by taking a few breaths to calm yourself and get some perspective, you will see more clearly, feel less anxious and get better results.
What do you think? What do you do to prevent or relieve worry and anxiety? Thanks.
I am involved in a fairly emotional, complicated, expensive sales negotiation with several (8 others) intelligent and very successful people. These people are all over the world so we have to do this over the phone (otherwise I would always do this in person).
The issues are starting to become contentious, and for those of you who know me, or have seen me, you know I can get emotional/angry at times :-)
I did not want to have my anger get the best of me so I thought of some simple techniques (keep phone on mute, write things down, count to 10 , etc) so I could present myself in a mild, objective manner and be heard, vs. having them react and shutdown.
As some of you know, I have been meditating quite regularly for the last 6 months and have been wanting to integrate this more into my sales approach. So I meditated a few minutes before the call, but more importantly I said the following to myself so help me be calm:
First I said:
May I be Safe
May I Be Happy
May I be Strong
May I be free from suffering and the roots of suffering
May I be filled with loving kindness and compassion
Then I said (imaging the people on the call):
May YOU be Safe
May YOU Be Happy
May YOU be Strong
May YOU be free from suffering and the roots of suffering
May YOU be filled with loving kindness and compassion
Can’t tell you that this is the only reason the call went so well, but it did.
Let me know if you want to know more?
Last week, I sent out emails to 3 Owners or VP’s of Sales, people who I have spoken to, worked with and/or met separately.
In all 3 instances I have not heard back. If only to say they are unsure of the status of things we are communicating about, (including not being interested in moving forward), were busy or whatever.
To me this is the greatest of paradoxes, that people in the sales or sales training profession don’t have the courtesy to get back to others in their same line of work. It could also be a reflection of these individual’s perception or attitude towards me, and is something I have to examine, whether I am respected and bring value to them. If not, I should cut bait. If I do, I need to decide if I want to work with people who don't respect the trade.
As salespeople, we are all dealing with this from our customers but shouldn't we show, and be shown more respect from our prospects or customers? Are you getting the respect you deserve? Are you holding on to cuystomers or opportunities that don't honor you and your value? You might say that is part of the game, and I did, and still do. But less so every day and hopefully soon, not at all. As Bob Dylan says "you gotta serve somebody" and i dont mind that. I actually like it. But with respect and dignity!
What do you think? Let me know.
Every industry has to come up with something new, or seemingly new to keep itself going and maintain it’s viability. For example, in fashion it is color or cut of a garment. One of these things in the marketing, sales and sales training industry is buyer personas.
What is a buying persona? According to Hubspot, a company I use and admire A buyer persona is:
“Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.”
This breakdown of a potential buyer and his or her “persona” along the way of a sales process or decision is good for marketing since the right message can try to be sent at the right time.
BUT I SAY ENOUGH WITH BUYING PERSONAS FOR SALESPEOPLE!
- they can be highly inaccurate
- they pigeon hole people/prospects and thus pigeon hole salespeople
- they restrict what prospect might want or a salesperson might ask
- it is difficult and awkward to be mindful of smoothly integrate them into a sales approach
- they are difficult to use for a salesperson who has multiple assignments, accounts and/or sell to many different people and industries (this is less so for people have a much more finite focus or responsibility)
- salespeople can become dependent on or falsely led to believe that these personas are sacrosanct and all they have to do is what they are told and the sale will happen. HOGWASH I SAY!
Here is what I think is more important:
- relating to people and being more empathetic and intelligent about their world
- understanding a prospect’s or buyers UNIQUE responsibilities, priorities and needs which a persona does address to some degree
- salespeople having the skill set to interact with an individual/S to see exactly what these are for them and their organization
- giving salespeople an intelligent and flexible structure (such as the S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue) that they can use in multiple scenarios with much greater impact
That’s all I have to say on the subject for now. What do you think?
If you haven’t started already, now is a good time to start planning for 2014. Here are some of the ways to do it and questions to ask yourself:
- Do I know where my success came from last year? What did I do to make things happen and be a successful salesperson?
- Do I know where I want to put my efforts into this year? Are they the same as last year or different? Have I created smart goals for myself?
- Which of my offerings has real advantages that I should take advantage of?
- Are there particular vertical markets or segments that I want to focus on?
- What people, sales technology and resources will I surround myself with so I can get help when I need it?
- What will I:
- Continue doing or do more of that is working
- Stop doing that is in the way of my success
- Start doing that is needed because of market conditions or opportunities
- Who, at work or home do I need to help me stay disciplined enough to the things that are most important?
- What have I been putting off that needs to be done?
- Have I targeted the accounts I want to sell?
- Do I know the one or two that would really put me over the top?
- Am I using social media, LinkedIn, blogs, etc. to keep me in touch with the people and events that are critical to my success?
- Am I using free services like Google Alerts to do the same?
- What support mechanisms do I have to keep balanced?
- What is my quick start program so I have a great quarter and make the rest of the year a “little” easier?
- Are my manager and I on the same page so he/she supports me vs. interferes?
- Can you tell yourself what you are or are not willing to do so you are happy and successful?
- Can you identify what motivates you, or like most about your job so you can spend as much time and do it as often as possible?
- If your compensation plan is here, do you know how you will make the most money from it?
- Do you know your offering inside and out so you can present it in more ways, with more effect than your competition or co-workers?
- Can you be more organized and/or effective by being more focused and wasting less time in a day?
- Can you identify the 3 or 4 most important priorities for your success?
- Can you create an image for yourself of what short and long term success looks and feels like to keep yourself motivated, positive?
- What technology will I learn to help me sell more?
Please let me know if you would like to talk or I can help in any way. I wish you the best, healthiest, most fulfilling 2014.
I was going on my first sales call as Regional Director with one of my sales reps, Karen. We were meeting with Warren, at a division of one of the worlds largest healthcare companies. According to Karen who had met with him several time, Warren was not a nice person. A real mean S.O.B. From what I was told, we were two diametrically opposed forces in suits; Good and Evil (Karen and I were the good ones of course).
I had just gotten back from a week’s meditation retreat and was in a very mellow and peaceful space. You can call it relaxed, I would call it calm, present and happy, very content with myself and being where ever I was. I was not worried and afraid about not being successful (which is why I went away on the retreat). I was very aware that I was a Regional Manager who was responsible to help my people sell, but not feeling as pressured by it or more importantly, as defined by it. Nor was I as fearful of Warren. I felt confident in this space.
What happened at our meeting was quite remarkable. Karen and I sat in front of Warren’s big macho desk. Karen introduced me and I just began to talk to Warren about him, his position, what was important to him, what he wanted to have happen, what he wanted to avoid, etc. Then suddenly, Warren let down his guard and his defenses and was the nicest, most open person. It was as if his desk disappeared. He actually came out from behind his desk to sit with Karen and me. Why? Because he was responding to my manner, how I was feeling vs. the words and he felt safe. It was an incredible meeting and we got the deal 30 days later.
So what is the moral of the story? People can feel where you are coming from. It you are coming from a place of safety, generosity, wholeness, curiosity and kindness, people will feel that. If you are not, people will feel that as well.
Who would you rather buy from?
Many salespeople prospect to one person and one person only. They keep knocking on the same door and it isn’t opening. This is frustrating and non-productive.
Identifying the best positions/titles/functions to contact is critical for your prospecting success. In general, in a B2B environment, there are usually four to five departments or functions in an organization that can probably benefit from your offer, including:
- Functional (HR, sales, manufacturing, etc.)
Of course, different industries have different functions that may limit you. For example, when selling to the government, healthcare and education verticals in particular, there are often more centralized or regulated models for an organization to buy things. Federal government sales need to abide by Government Securities Act (GSA) rules or an existing contract that has been awarded to a specific company or companies. If your company doesn’t fit into either of these, it makes it much more difficult to sell to the government. Large companies may force you into selling only to the procurement department, limiting your ability to penetrate an account.
If this is the case, you can play by their rules and see where it gets you. If you don’t succeed, then you might consider talking to other people in the company to influence the main buyer, or someone else who might be able to act on his or her own, if necessary, and if your offer is really compelling. It is very doubtful that if the general counsel or CFO said he or she wanted something, procurement would say, “No, you can’t have it.”
Using the database of your choice, search for the titles and names you want to sell to. For example, if you sell a product for a sales organization, you might search for several titles, including VP of Sales, VP of Channels, VP of Customer Service, VP of HR or Training, and CFO, because they can all benefit from your services. Who else can benefit from what you are selling?
You should also use your own connections and contacts to see if you or an acquaintance knows any of the people, specifically, or in the companies you want to sell to. Social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook, Pinterest, and even MySpace (if you are in the music or entertainment industry) are good for this. Of course, if you are using a database you pay for such as Hoover’s, The List, OneSource, or others, you need to refer to these as well.
The Ubiquity of Technology and Data is a Double-Edged Sword.
On one hand, the sheer volume of information can make selling more difficult. It can become unwieldy, confusing, and overwhelming to you and your prospects, thus hurting your sales efforts. However, if you know how to control and use it, know which bits of information are important and which are a distraction, you are in an enviable position to sell more. How you best engage with technology and information and use it to your advantage to get the optimal return is paramount. Salespeople need to become master craftsmen, able to do things with the tools they have better than their competitors. This has always been true but more so now because of the impact technology is having.
As a salesperson, the best and easiest way to do this is to know who you want to sell to (title of person and/or industry) and use that as your filter for information. This could be in addition to the personas are developing for you in their own marketing efforts.
Used properly, technology allows us to expand our skills and markets, get greater exposure, and allow more people to find us so we have more sales opportunities. It allows us to differentiate ourselves which is becoming harder and more important.
Let’s look at one of the issues arising in today’s sales world from this onslaught of technology.
Technology and the Web Can Commoditize All Offerings
From the buyer’s side, the abundance of products and services to choose from is much greater than ever before. For example, if you enter the words “managed hosting” into a Google search box you will get more than 9 million results. The dilemma of deciphering the differences can be so overwhelming that buyers will often simplify their decisions by making price the deciding factor and lumping all the other variables into a “they’re all pretty much the same” category. This makes it easier for them to decide. They might not give you as much time, either, because of the time pressures they are under or the medium you are using. (In general, people give you less time virtually than they do in person.)
Vendors contribute to customers’ penchant to commoditize an offer in large part by using the same terms or labels as each other. For example, many vendors in the managed hosting business (companies that host websites for businesses) use the same terms, such as “24/7 support,” to compete and differentiate themselves. What this term doesn’t tell a buyer is how many people are available at any one time during their 24/7 support, or how well trained or qualified they are. Salespeople therefore need to make sure that their offer is presented in a way that is differentiated from others.
So companies and salespeople need to learn to differentiate themselves, be more skilled in a way that has meaning to the prospect and helps them stand out from the competition. This not a technology issue, this is a sales/skill issue which needs to be paid attention to.
If there were a Hall of Fame for salespeople, and you closed 30% of your deals, you would be a candidate. Forty percent close rate is a sure first ballot entry and at fifty percent they would dedicate a wing to you.
MAKE Closing Easier
Some of the biggest deals I have ever closed happened when I was away on vacation. Why? Because I did all the right things during the sales cycle so the close happened very easily and naturally (perhaps I should always go on vacation when I am working a big deal!). This includes many elements, including:
- Selling into your “Sweet Spot” as much as possible
- Doing a S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue with the people involved in the decision, especially executives or people in positions of authority
- Building rapport and developing trust during the sales cycle
- Presenting your offer in a compelling way that shows your differences and the benefits of your offer
- Handling objections through out the sales cycle
- Constantly getting a firm next step that is relevant to the client and advantageous to you
- Being responsive to the prospect throughout all stages
Too many salespeople think of closing as only asking for the deal at the end, which of course is essential (or many salespeople are afraid to ask for the close). However, it is just as important for salespeople to be closing throughout the sales process; to keep a sale moving forward from one stage to another and to keep people focused on your product or service, vs. other’s. An important psychological rule of getting people to say yes when you do ask for the order is to have had the prospect take action and invest themselves as much as possible during the sales cycle. The more they are invested, the more difficult it is to back away or to say no.
So let’s define closing as the act of asking someone to do something. It could be little like respond to an e-mail or question or it could be big like visit your office, let you visit them in their home (if you are selling that type of product), meet your family members (if you are selling something that a family can use), have a meal with you or introduce you to their boss in a professional setting.. Closing is done all the time, regardless of the communications medium (in person, over the phone, e-mail, etc.).
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Are you keeping people focused on your offering through a series of actions and commitments called T.E.E.M. (time – energy – emotion – money)?
- Are you testing the waters/trial closing to make sure you are on track with the people you are selling?
- Can you identify buying signals, warning signals, hidden objections and what to do with them?
- Different types of closing techniques, when to use them and which techniques work best with different DiSC styles?
- Are you getting firm, decisive next steps that are relevant to the client and favor you and your company?
- Do you know what your sweetspot it and sell to it as much as possible?
When is the first time you close? At the very beginning when you ask for an appointment. And the last? When you ask for the deal or negotiate the final item! You need to have a plan to apply as many of these elements to win as much business as possible.
“Closing is not a moment in time but a continuous act throughout the sales cycle”