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Sales Tips From Jonathan London

Sales Tip: Technology is a Double Edge Sword

Posted on Tue, Oct 22, 2013

double edge swordThe 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.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, Sales Training, b2b Sales, technology enabled selling, sales technology, Internet

7 Sales Tips - Closing is Not a Moment in Time

Posted on Tue, Oct 15, 2013

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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:

  1. Selling into your “Sweet Spot” as much as possible
  2. Doing a S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue with the people involved in the decision, especially executives or people in positions of authority
  3. Building rapport and developing trust during the sales cycle
  4. Presenting your offer in a compelling way that shows your differences and the benefits of your offer
  5. Handling objections through out the sales cycle
  6. Constantly getting a firm next step that is relevant to the client and advantageous to you
  7. 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:

  1. Are you keeping people focused on your offering through a series of actions and commitments called T.E.E.M. (time – energy – emotion – money)?
  2. Are you testing the waters/trial closing to make sure you are on track with the people you are selling?
  3. Can you identify buying signals, warning signals, hidden objections and what to do with them?
  4. Different types of closing techniques, when to use them and which techniques work best with different DiSC styles?
  5. Are you getting firm, decisive next steps that are relevant to the client and favor you and your company?
  6. 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”

Tags: Sales Cycles, Sales Skills, Sales Advice, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Tips, Closing, Closing, S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue, DiSC Styles

Sales Advice: 3 Frames of Mind When People Object

Posted on Thu, Oct 10, 2013

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To a large measure, based on where you started, and how well or poorly you have qualified and worked an opportunity, people will be in one of three frames of mind when you try to overcome their objections:

1.     Not Interested, No Way:

This probably means you shouldn’t have been selling to them in the first place but didn’t qualify the opportunity early enough using the S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue or any other method. Or you might be chasing business that looks big and appealing because you don’t have enough in your pipeline. Of course, people can always lie and make you believe they are interested, or might be at the moment but change their mind, but they usually know from the start. The sooner you know you are wasting your time, the better. Go elsewhere as quickly as you can.

2.     I’m Open

Unless you are the only game in town, this situation occurs often. You want people to be more inclined then less to buy you or at least be open minded to the possibility of doing so. This occurs by following the steps in your sales process, qualifying the prospect re. their interest in your offer and where it stands regarding other priorities they might have. It might also be a good time to ask the prospect what could internal or external variables could prevent them from making a decision. You can also ask if their objection is with the idea of buying you vs. excluding you.

3.     I Want You

You probably have done all or most of the right things for this to occur. This will happen more and more often with experience, knowledge and application of good selling skills and experience in your business. It will also happen more often if you prospect or market to your sweet spot, meeting with the right people, building rapport, asking good questions and making a persuasive presentation that is tailored vs. boilerplate.

I learned about these 3 categories  in my first job selling against IBM. At the time, they had over 90% market share so there were a lot of people and companies who wouldn’t consider my offering, even if I showed them it was better and sold it to them for much less money. Two stories stand out vividly. I remember once talking to a Procurement Manager at a University who had just ordered 120 IBM’s to put into storage. I asked him why and he said because “you never know when you will be able to get them”. The second is when a secretary hugged her IBM she was so emotionally attached to it.

 Fortunately, there were plenty of opportunities in “Open Minded” and “I Want You” categories. You need to weed out any and all prospects in No Way category as early as possible. They are a waste of your time and unless you have magical powers or can hypnotize people, you will never overcome their objections.

 

Tags: Objection Handling, Sales Skills, Sales, Sales Advice, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Effectiveness, Closing, S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue

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

12 Tips to Sell Larger Deals with Customer Coaches

Posted on Wed, Sep 11, 2013

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In a recent workshop we were talking about some of the differences between a small and large sale and an enterprise sale. One of the most obvious differences is the length of time it takes. This has become even more so in today’s economy.

One of the other major differences is that salespeople have to develop relations and coaches. Since much of selling is happening on the phone today, you may not have the chance to build the relations and coaches you need.

So let’s define what a coach is; he or she wants you to win the business and will tell you things or give you indications about what you have to do to win a deal. Some of the indications that a person could be a coach are:

  1. the person is responsive to you
  2. they have a behavior style who likes to be heard and talk
  3. they tell you things without you asking
  4. there is good chemistry

So:

  1. don't only focus on a great technical solution
  2. don't only focus on a sellable price
  3. don't just focus on value and relations
  4. don't just focus on being responsive

Make sure your strategy and tactics are developing a coach so he or she can tell you what you need to know to win more deals. You can do this by:

  1. being responsive to them
  2. telling them things you don't tell others
  3. visiting them, especially if they are difficult to get to
  4. making them look good in front of others

Good luck selling and don't forget your coach!

Tags: b2b sales; sales, saled deals, Sales, Sales Advice, Sales Strategies, Sales Strategies, b2b Sales, b2b Sales, b2b Sales

17 Sales Tips and Questions on Lead Generation

Posted on Tue, Aug 06, 2013

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When thinking about your lead gen strategy, here are 17 interesting questions that are relevant for a salesperson or sales organization:

  1. How many leads are you getting in total from both inbound and outbound activities?
  2. Are the ratios correct from each? Is lead gen giving you the number of quality leads you need or should you spend more money and time on outbound?
  3. Do the 2 feed off each other?
  4. What is your close ratio on each?
  5. Are you getting enough leads (stupid question to ask a salesperson) to meet your number or do you need more leads or a higher close ratio
  6. Quality of leads – which lead is better regardless of volume – your own outbound or the inbound
  7. For your outbound do you have named accounts that you are going after
  8. Are they verticalized? They should be if they aren’t
  9. How many accounts are on this list?
  10. Rotate accounts – how often do you rotate them? What is your criteria for this list? Do you have an ideal profile?
  11. Assign by contacts – are you taking advantage of social media and assigning accounts by who knows who?
  12. Do you allow people to trade accounts based upon criteria that gives them a better chance to sell them?
  13. If you are a manager, do you take accounts away from people since they are not active?
  14. If you are using a lead gen capability, how and when do accounts go back in for a “drip” campaign?
  15. If you are a manager, what is your lead distribution philosophy? Is it round robin, or do you have someway of distributing leads to those who are performing better and doing better with the leads?
  16. as a sales leader are you giving your lead gen/marketing group enough direction?
  17. should you be using more targeted lead gen activities if you are in a very tight

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, b2b lead generation, Territory Management, Inside Sales

Salespeople ask "What Do You Know About Our Company"

Posted on Tue, Jul 23, 2013

questionWhat do You Know About…

I used to hate when salespeople would ask this at the beginning of a sales call. I used to get upset with them for doing so. I thought all it could do was minimize you and lead the customer to say things like “I never heard of you” or “very little.” If they knew about you, then you didn't need to ask.

But now, because I am such an open-minded person smiley face, I am always looking to learn and improve; and studies are showing most prospects are checking you out way before you even meet I think this could be a very important question to ask.

Why, you say?  Because:

  • more than ever people are researching you and your company before they even meet you
  • they are using this information to decide if they even want to meet
  • they are developing a pre-conceived notion of you and your company
  • if they are a High “C” DiSC style they probably know more about you and your company than even you do.

So, you:

  • want to understand where they are coming from
  • where they are getting their information from
  • how they will continue during their decision process to use and get more info

For those of you who have been fortunate enough to take my class or read my books (my mother would be so proud), the best way to do this is in the “S” or the “N” of the S.PRI.N.G.™  Dialogue.  Here are some examples of how you might ask:

  1. What do you know about my company (you would say your actual company name)?
  2. I was curious about what you know about my company?
  3. I was curious about what you know about my company and how you attained this information?
  4. A lot of my customers have done some research online before we met. Did you do so as well? What resources did you use? What did you find out? Anything in particular catch your attention?
  5. How will this information influence your decision or decision criteria?
  6. Besides yourself, or, who assisted you in doing this research?

You will notice I said “you” and your company. That is right. They are checking you out to see what kind of person or business person you are. So:

  • watch what you say or post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Phinkit, etc.
  • make sure your personal LinkedIn and Facebook business pages are full of great information about you, with lots of written recommendations
  • if you have a blog, let people know about it and make it interesting.

I know you probably won’t, but I always want to ask you to share your thoughts or best practices. It helps everyone and makes me feel like somebody out there is paying attention.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Skills, Sales Advice, b2b Sales, b2b Sales, Sales Effectiveness, S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue, Sales Coaching

Sales Tips - The 4th Most Difficult Part of Selling - Differentiating

Posted on Tue, Jul 02, 2013

4th

Salespeople, Differentiate Yourself

 In my recent Linkedin poll (which are only offered in groups now) the 4th most difficult part of the sales process was differentating yourself.

 Don’t you hate it when a prospect tells you that you and your competition are all the same?

Why might this be happening?  Because:

  1. It is a ploy to get you to drop your price
  2. You haven’t done a good job selling or differentiating yourself
  3. You are using the same boilerplate proposals for everyone
  4. They haven’t done their due diligence in order to see the differences
  5. They really aren’t that interested in what you are selling
  6. You don't know what your differentiators are
  7. You don't know what they are or how to express your differentiators
  8. You are not preparing for your call or the objection and you are caught off guard. 

How can you differentiate yourself?


Experience to Differentiate:

  1.  Get to know an industry using your knowledge and industry jargon
  2.  With an application by showing insight into how it can be used. don't just show the basics but show them how you can do things they can't read about or the competition doesn't have or didn't show them.
  3.  In a certain business area in the same way as you would an industry
  4. With a certain business problem. Focus on the business problems all the companies in an industry has and really use this knowledge in all phases of the sales cycle.
  5. How to finance a solution. Creative financing can be a huge differentiator. The same with T&C's
  6. Telling stories or anecdotes or analogies to get your point across
  7. Using industry acronyms or language to create the aura of expertise

 Intelligence, Insights and Knowledge to Differentiate:

  1. Gained from reading about an industry - stay on top of issues that others dont make the effort to do
  2. Gained from reading about the trends in their or your industry
  3. Just being smart by applying your knowledge to their priorities and needs in ways that your competition doesn't
  4. Having sold other clients in their industry or application area, use this knowledge in ways already described
  5. Using case studies
  6. Having active references as leads or to close the business
  7. Using whitepapers to prove your point
  8. How to use resources to express different points
  9. Have active references 

Basic Sales Practices that Differentiate:

  1. Do some research before your call so you are more impressive
  2. Build rapport so they are more comfortable with you. Use your DiSC training if you have had it already.
  3. Listen more than you talk. Use the S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue as a platform to ask, listen and engage with the prospect
  4. Be straight forward and honest. Dont manipulate everything to a yes
  5. Do what you say, including follow-up
  6. Use your personality

 

What have you done to differentiate yourself? Let us know.

 

 


Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, b2b Sales, Sales Effectiveness, Sales Productivity, Presentations

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

Posted on Tue, Jun 25, 2013

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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 Insights vs Sales Training

Posted on Tue, Jun 11, 2013

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I was recently hired by a company that is growing, doing well and wants to develop and train their salespeople to create a repeatable process for their current and future salespeople.

As often happens, the client is not willing or able to spend the amount of time and money up front to have us experience their environment as well as do our extensive research and analysis.

We interviewed salespeople and managers, pre/post support people. We looked at win/loss reports and reviewed their current presentations and proposals. We talked with the people responsible for their CRM. and created a clientized program for their them that addressed the most significant areas including:

  • Mirroring using a combination of DiSC and Meyers-Briggs
  • Prospecting to be less dependent on incoming leads
  • Discovery and planting seeds via our S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue to better qualify the sales process
  • Presenting and Objection Handling to present more value and navigate the sales process and close more business.

 The training went well. People were participative, receptive and open to the new techniques we were practicing. The feedback was excellent. However, the most relevant, significant, important and impactful part of going through and experiencing the training were the insights that we had together.

 Here  is my summary to my client regarding these insights:

  • salespeople need to use S.PRI.N.G.  to keep better control of a sales process and not get lost as often as they do
  • salespeople need to integrate and address the issues much earlier in the sales process that are most common, important and prevent sales from occurring. These include:
  • Planting seeds that differentiate and demonstrate XYZ's value
  • During the S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue, asking qualifying questions (budget, process, competition, etc) later in the process vs. too early to help get better answers
  • address the reasons people defer
  • and understand where XYZ's solution fits in their priority scheme, ESPECIALLY if there is no definitive compelling event
  • Develop a standard presentation and proposal format that captures the key elements of the S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue AND addresses the most common reasons people defer on going with XYZ
  • Practice the best ways to anticipate and handle the most common objections
  • Get more comfortable using analogies to present XYZ's process so that people don't get confused
  • Create their hit list of accounts they want to sell and use the prospecting techniques and why you why now to get more appointments

 The management team needs to:

  • Embrace and become experts at the key elements noted above especially around mirroring
  • Develop, mentor and reinforce a repeatable sales process 
  •  Integrate these into the sales fabric of XYZ including:

- Commit to a weekly schedule of practicing and role playing

  - Use in 1:1's and forecast sessions

- Bring into discussions of deals that are crucial or in trouble

- Integrate into CRM as a support mechanism

I look forward to discussing this and other elements of success when we talk next.

If you would like a copy of the S.PRI.N.G. Dialogue form, please click here, or call or email me.

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