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Sales Tips From Jonathan London

Sales Tip – 6 Seeds to Plant During Your Initial Meeting

Posted on Wed, Oct 02, 2013

seeds resized 600Regardless of what sales process you are using, IPG’s R.E.A.L. tm Selling or any other, it is important that your first interaction with a client impress them and influence their thinking, whether it's just agreeing to another meeting or something more.

This is best done by having a dialogue, avoiding presenting too much and finding the right balance. It means avoiding the tendency of salespeople to go off on a subject they know they can do well, which stops the dialogue and becomes a monologue.

A great way to do this is by planting seeds during the dialogue and conversation. A seed is something you do well or differently, even uniquely. It is something that you might emphasize in your presentation or white boarding. An example of a seed would be:

  1. something your product does differently or better
  2. a story or anecdote about something you or your company has done for another company
  3. a personal insight about something in the application or industry you have done
  4. a question you ask that shows expertise or insights
  5. if you know your competition, a trap you can set without specifically mentioning your competition
  6. your financial stability or number of locations

 

These should be short and sweet, no longer than 30 seconds or a minute, and staying with the idea of a seed, in order to plant it the right depth, you should ask, trial close or confirm what they think about the seed you planted.

Seeds are also a way of giving something back to the person you are talking to vs. it just being an interrogation by just asking questions and then going into the big pitch.

So before you go into your next meeting, know which seeds you want to plant and when you think it best to do so. Your initial meetings will go much better and you will have more control and influence in your sales opportunities.

 

 

Tags: Sales Advice, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Effectiveness, S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue, Sales Process, Buying Process

3rd Most Difficult – Understanding the Customer’s Decision Process

Posted on Tue, Jun 25, 2013

3rd resized 600

According to the poll I did on Linkedin, the third most difficult part of the sales process was understanding the customer’s decision process.

This is understandable for many reasons:

  • the customer doesn't want to tell you
  • you don't ask
  • you don't ask properly
  • the customer/prospect isn’t being honest with you
  • the customer/prospect only knows to a certain point (i.e. knows the next signature but not necessarily any more)
  • the customer/prospect doesn't really know at all (this could happen because they never bought something like you are selling, or are new to the company or position or aren’t supposed to know)

 

Obviously, the bigger the customer or bigger the sale the more complex, convoluted and difficult it will be.

As a salesperson, you want to know in order to:

  • forecast accurately
  • use your internal resources effectively
  • try to hold the customer/prospect accountable
  • understand the politics and influences others have in an opportunity

There are some very simple ways of asking:

  • work backwards from the time they want to implement to whatever date you are meeting with them
  • ask what happens after they get your proposal
  • tell them you want to align with them so it is helpful to know the timing and the steps of their decision
  • ask them what they have to navigate and get through to meet their timeline, whether they go with you or not
  • ask directly what is the process, who is involved, where is the critical path,
  • ask who is most likely to approve or not

Don't be surprised at the end of they issue an RFP or purchasing gets involved. If that happens, you didn't ask or the customer/prospect wasn't telling you the whole story.

Also, with larger deals develop and ally or coach so you can bounce questions or ideas off of them to validate what you have heard about the decision process. Use linkedin, twitter and others to stay in touch with what is happening in an account. Let me know if you have any other ideas or questions around this subject.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, b2b Sales, Buying Process

Sales Tips - Forecasting & Closing - Last 12 Questions to Ask

Posted on Wed, May 22, 2013

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In my last blog, I discussed the importance of asking the right questions in order to know if you are forecasting properly.
Actually, the 22 questions from this week and last week are meant to improve your sales closing and selling skills. These selling questions are meant for you to get more information so you can be more strategic about your opportunities.
  1. What is the exact process from now to PO? Inc peoples names and roles
  2. What could prevent this (holidays, people, etc.) from happening?
  3. Has this been account you are forecasting been delayed before? If so, why is it being forecast now?
  4. If we got the verbal, what needs to happen to turn it into revenue?
  5. Any opp’t to upsell or get more on the RFP
  6. Any chance we will get less?
  7. Is the competition eliminated?
  8. How can we move it up or money from elsewhere into this deal?
  9. Where are we vulnerable
  10. Do we need executive involvement
  11. Can we make into smaller pieces so they can process it more easily
  12. What’s the next step?
What questions do you ask? If you want a list of these and other great questions, click here and I will be happy and send them to you

Tags: Sales, Sales Advice, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Closing, Buying Process

C Level Selling - 10 Things to Measure That You Don't To Sell More

Posted on Wed, May 08, 2013

10

 

In developing a sales process for a customer we were dong the normal stuff you should be measuring:

decision process, decision criteria, budget, competition, compelling event, etc.

But when we looked at the deals they were winning, we found a whole other set of measurements that weren't being looked at and were much more important.

  1. do we get along
  2. does the customer give me access
  3. are they giving me feedback to make the proposal better
  4. are they coaching me a little
  5. am I making an impression on them with my knowledge, insights and candor
  6. can I see that they want to do business with me or buy from me
  7. are they allowing me to be honest and direct
  8. are they giving me access and positive exposure to important people
  9. do they respond to my emails and invites
  10. do they accept my Linkedin invite

 We realized that these indicators are as if not more important than the price or quality of your offer, because if they are not responding as described above, it also tells you there is a problem you have to attend to.

So what is the moral to this story? Doing the things that can be empirically measured can be less important than doing the things above. What else do you look at?

Tags: Sales, Sales Advice, b2b Sales, Sales Effectiveness, sales deal, Social Media, Buying Process

Sales Advice: 16 Different Questions You Can Ask About Budget

Posted on Thu, Mar 07, 2013

16 Different Questions to Ask About Budget

 There are so many questions we can ask about a prospect's budget but we tend to ask only a few. Here are some ideas for you from the basic to more interesting questions.

  1. Is there a budget for this project?
  2. How much is it?
  3. Can you give me a rough idea or estimate or range?
  4. Who was involved in setting the budget?
  5. What % of the overall project is the budget for what we are discussing?
  6. What elements went into the budget?
  7. Is the budget approved?
  8. Is it an op ex or cap ex?
  9. What are the different signatures required to get the budget?
  10. Are you competing for this budget or is it a line item for you?
  11. What can make this budget disappear?
  12. Whose budget/money is it?
  13. If not budgeted, how do you get money?
  14. Is there a precedent you can use that would be successful?
  15. Where is the most perilous path in spending the money?
  16. What internal or external obstacles can prevent this budget being allocated?

Do you have any others that you use? Do you have a deal involving budget you would like to discuss?  

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales, Sales Advice, Sales Training, Sales Strategies, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Buying Process

5 Steps to Accelerate the Sales Process by Turning it Upside Down

Posted on Fri, Feb 15, 2013

 

 Accelerate the Sales Process by Turning it Upside Down

In working with a client in helping define their sales process for an enterprise solution, we went through the usual steps of what has to happen, when and who has to do what.

We created a master list and then we chose the items they could apply to existing deals in order to shorten the sales cycle. This was extremely helpful in having them see what they could do.

Finally we turned the whole sales process upside down and started with the end in mind.

So here is what we suggest:

 1.    In first meeting the client, tell them what your objective is which is to demonstrate a   significant cost savings.  In fact, the account they are speaking to was chosen from the few that met their criteria.  If they didn't meet the criteria, they, the vendor wouldn't have reached out.
2.    The vendor is so confident of their offer they will do real testing and modeling showing the prospect what their actual savings is (you may have to offer something else based on your company’s capabilities).
3.    Of course, the vendor needs to show them how it will be done and answer questions, but
4.    After that is done they are asking the person they are meeting with to sponsor this project in the organization.
5.    If the prospect doesn't know how to make this happen, the vendor will show them how it has been done in other organizations.

Of course in the real world there will be many prospects who will not respond to this and the vendor may have to go back to a more traditional model.

In addition, the vendor and salesperson has to avoid being too verbose or arrogant but present the offer in a way where the prospect can see the opportunity in front of them.

I hope you like this idea. Try it in some accounts to see how people react.

Reach out to me if you have any questions.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, Sales Training, Sales Strategies, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Closing, Sales Process, Presentations, Buying Process

10 Sales Meeting Tips - How to Engage if Prospect is Far Along

Posted on Mon, Jan 28, 2013

10 Sales Meeting Tips

 

It can be overwhelming to watch how many technologies are available to generate leads. And all the latest research says that prospects are way ahead in their decision process once they speak with you.

 

So assuming this is true, what does a B2B salesperson do differently? In my experience in working with my clients, here are some suggestions:

 

  1. Dig in deeper to understand where they are in their sales process. Are they:
    • just beginning,
    • have they been at it for a while
    • what stage are they in
  2. Ask how they make their decisions and what influences it including:
    • People involved in the decision process
    • Any body outside of the company they rely on
    • Any online resources, blogs, research etc.
  3. More people are involved so ask:
    • Who is involved
    • What is their role
    • What would they need to see to feel comfortable with your company
  4. Ask if there are any internal or external obstacles or influences that could prevent them from moving forward in the time frame they shared with you.
  5. Stay engaged with them in between steps via any automation tools you have or, as mentioned in my last blog, sending them info yourself
  6. Set up your own Linkedin group for all of your prospects and customers so you can update everybody at once.
  7. People are crazy busy so see if you can get a commitment on next steps with a specific date and time and objective
  8. Ask questions that are about their obstacles and process, independent of whether they go with you or not. It will bring their defenses down.
  9. If they are far into their process, ask what it is about your company that caught their attention so that they are meeting with you.
  10. Ask them their priorities and share insights they may not have to capture their attention.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, b2b Sales, Buying Process

Salespeople, Automating Your Customer Interactions without Automation

Posted on Mon, Jan 14, 2013

Without Automation Fotolia 42642452 XS resized 600

Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, etc. all automate the process of interacting with a prospect or customer from the beginning to the end of the sales process.

But what if you can’t afford any of these services, or for whatever reason you are not using them.  What if you are a small company or even a sales person working on your own?

The most important thing you can do is to understand the SOE (sequence of events) that increases your close ratio.

Sales Time Line

Bring to mind a deal you are working on or have won in the past that you would like to repeat as often as possible.  Do you recall what steps you took with the prospect during their buying process?

It is important to know that the more you can get a customer to do with you the more likely it is you will get the sale since they have committed a lot to you. They will want to recoup their investment of time, energy and sometimes even money.

 

Customer's Decision Process

Here are some ideas of things you can do during the sales process:

  • Have a reference call the prospect
  • Send some information or a white paper if you have one
  • Use Google Alerts or other source to keep track of what is happening with the client or their industry and use that to stay in touch
  • Have them visit your office or set up a time for entertainment
  • Use LinkedIn or others to see where you have common connections and let the person know
  • If you know their personal interests or hobbies, send info about these.

If you can identify the tactics that work best, you can put them into your process and just remind yourself with Outlook or some other tool to remind you what to send and when to send it. It will have the same impact as the more sophisticated solutions available in the market.

Let me know if you have any suggestions, need help or want to talk about it.

Tags: Google Alert, Outlook, Sales Advice, Sales Training, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Effectiveness, Closing, Prospecting, LinkedIn, Sales Process, technology enabled selling, Buying Process