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Sales Tips From Jonathan London

Are You Aligned and Have Agreement for Sales Success

Posted on Tue, Jul 15, 2014

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As many of you know, S.M.A.R.T. Goals are a foundation of success for any individual or organization. I define S.M.A.R.T as:

  • Specific – I will make $100,000
  • Measurable – I will measure every month how much I have made and also measure the activities needed to make the money
  • ALIGNED/AGREED – I am ALIGNED and AGREEMENT with others who are critical to my success
  • Realistic – it is an achievable goal
  • Timed – I will make the $100,000 by the end of 2014

I was with a client this week that understood this and demonstrates the importance of the ALIGNMENT/AGREED step, which is the most difficult and most important.

My client is a very successful high tech company who is #3 in their market, but whose growth has been stagnant for the last 6 quarters. Recently, they dramatically realigned their entire sales organization, from the inside out. Many people’s responsbibilities were changed, or minimized, and they had grave concerns. They were distracted and demotivated.

The people who are in front of the customer and make the most money are the outside people. The people who make the least (they are still well paid) and touch the customer least are the inside sales people. HOWEVER, the key to the outside teams success is the leads the inside team can qualify and generate.

So what did my client and I do? We started with training the inside people and we ALIGNED/GAINED AGREEMENT that there role was critical. My client shared the executive level view and insights with the team, and allowed them to question and challenge them.

They were aligned and had agreement from top to bottom, from executive to salesperson and most of the concern and distraction were removed.

We then were able to develop and train them on the new skills and knowledge they needed to be successful as individuals and as a company.

Moral to the story: spend more time than you are, or think you need to, in order to make sure people understand and agree to (as much as possible) the changes and direction you are taking.

Don’t think if it is said, or just because you say it, will make it happen.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales, Sales Advice, Sales Training, Sales Strategies, Sales Tips, Sales Effectiveness, Coaching, Sales Productivity, Sales Process

Sell More by Opening Your Heart

Posted on Wed, Feb 26, 2014

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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.

Tags: Sales Skills, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Productivity, Sales Process

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

Salespeople, Is Discounting Bad?

Posted on Wed, Apr 24, 2013

 

Is Discount Bad?


 

In a recent poll I did on LinkedIn, approximately 80% of the people who responded said that discounting was a necessary part of the sales process (although 14% said they felt bad about doing it).

I did the poll because of some dialog I had in one of my LinkedIn Groups about discounting where most of the input seemed to me to be very intellectual and not really grounded. That is not to say there weren’t great insights and comments made about how to show value, differentiate yourself, use ROI properly and more. But most of the input was implying that discounting was a bad practice and bad salesmanship.

I don't want anyone to think that discounting should always be done, no matter the circumstances.
1.    If business can be won without doing so, go for it.
2.    If you can do all the right things in a sales situation and avoid discounting, do so.
3.    If you can add value vs. discount, go for it. 
4.    If discounting sets a bad precedent for future business, than avoid it.

What got me though was the dogma of never discounting.

So why do people discount or feel it is OK to do so?  Because:

1.    the prospect is expecting it because of the competitive nature of the business
2.    the company a salesperson works for expects it to close business
3.    revenue is the key element vs. profit
4.    it meets a salesperson’s individual needs or goals
5.    it is part of an overall margin and profit plan and the margin comes from elsewhere
6.    there is plenty of margin built into a product and it is an intentional part of the sales   process
7.    it is a way of gaining market share and getting margins from other items
8.    to make up or thank a customer for their loyalty
9.    it allows you to be more productive by potentially shortening sales cycles or only applying to companies that are appealing or unappealing geographically
10.    you are offering a new service or a new product (look at all the stuff you can get for free on the internet. If that isn’t "discounting," what is it?

I would love to know your thoughts about discounting.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, Sales Strategies, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Effectiveness, LinkedIn, Sales Process

12 Questions to Ask about a Prospect's Sales Process

Posted on Tue, Apr 09, 2013

Sales Process:  12 Questions

 

 

1.          Have you ever made a decision like this? Is there a sales process you use?

2.          How do you make decisions of this nature.

3.          Where are you in that process now?

4.          Other than yourself, who else needs to be OK with this decision?

5.          What roles do others play and what do they need to see or hear?

6.          In the past, how have you made these kinds of decisions?  Will it be the same

             or different this time around?

7.          What are the steps?  Who is involved, what is their role and what do you

              need  to get their buy off?

8.          Even if you don’t go with us, what are the obstacles you have to navigate to  get approval?

9.          Are any of the people you mentioned more critical than the others?

10.       Who is driving this at an executive level?

11.       What is the compelling event driving this?

12.       Why now?

You can reach out to me if you have questions on the 12 Questions.

12 Questions on Sales Process

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, Sales Strategies, b2b Sales, Sales Effectiveness, Sales Process

Sales Training: 16 Reasons Coaching is The Best Way of Training

Posted on Fri, Apr 05, 2013

 

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In working with all size companies for the last 19 years, I know the critical role coaching plays in developing sales people and managers and getting the most from them.

Whether this coaching is done as part of a formal sales training process or independently; 1:1 coaching is an incredible tool to improve performance. You can:

  1. give each person what they need  vs. a blend for everyone
  2. offer a person an opportunity to learn from an outside perspective
  3. allow people can voice their opinion which they would not feel comfortable doing otherwise
  4. extend the reach of your management so they can get to other things while their people are being developed
  5. give your best and most senior people get the attention they need so they don't quit
  6. ramp new hires more quickly
  7. have your management team can be coached to improve their skills and all the benefit that come with that
  8. give people specific assignments that are targeted to their specific needs
  9. have sessions be recorded for people to review
  10. give as many or as little sessions as are required by the individual
  11. get a great ROI since the investment is similar to classroom training
  12. provide motivation to people who are in need of a lift
  13. have previous top performers who are lagging reach their potential again
  14. coach in person, via video or web to keep costs down
  15. increase sales in a very short time frame
  16. strategize large deals with expertise not in house.

Let me know if you want to discuss or have questions on coaching for you or your team.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Training, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Effectiveness, Coaching, Sales Process, Sales Coaching

Salespeople, 19 Ways to Close Bigger Deals: Part 2

Posted on Tue, Mar 05, 2013

 

Salespeople, 19 Ways to Close Bigger Deals

Below are ideas 5-8 that can be helpful in closing bigger deals.

5.  Know their decision process and the people involved so you don't have to chase or guess.

     Bigger deals involve many more people and checks and balances. Companies are very bureaucratic and processed when larger deals are involved. Different people have different signature authorities for money or influence dependent upon their role. Find out as early as possible what the process is so there are no surprises and you can align resources

6.  If you must, use discounting wisely. Keep something in your back pocket.

     Regardless what people say, discounting is a standard or common part of a sales process. I am not saying you should discount haphazardly or unnecessarily, but if you have to offer anything, do not offer it too early and not have anything left at the end. Having said that, if you can offer something has more value than money to the prospect, then do that.

7.  Use your management and pre/post sales support team early and often.

     A lot of salespeople do not use their resources well or properly. Specifically, they don't introduce the people that will be supporting the client. It diminishes your ability, makes you look smaller than you are and puts you at a competitive disadvantage, especially if the competition is doing it. It also gives you different people to establish relations and get information that is critical to win large deals.

8.  Know your negotiation strategy so the deal doesn't get delayed.

     There are multiple negotiation strategies you can use. The way you start establishing your negotiation strategy is to use a selling strategy that reflects the same. You can take a more direct, conciliatory or integrative approach with the prospect. It also means knowing how the prospect tends to negotiate and setting the right expectations in what might happen in a negotiation.

Stay tuned for more, in the meantime, do reach out to me if you have any suggestions or questions.

Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, Sales Training, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Effectiveness, Closing, Sales Process

Salespeople, 19 Ways to Close Bigger Deals

Posted on Mon, Feb 25, 2013



Ways to Close Bigger Deals

The next 4 blogs will break down 19 different action items, tactics you can take to close bigger deals.

This is certainly not the definitive list, but it will help you be mindful of some of the most important things to do.

1.   Assign an executive sponsor early as possible
•    There is an old saying “build the bridge before the flood”.
•    Having an executive sponsor will help you get into higher levels of an organization.
•    This is essential because you can use this relationship to gain information you would not
         gain otherwise and to either close the deal faster or save the deal if you are in trouble.

2.   Increase Face – Face time
•    Big deals take longer to close.
•    Many of us have so many accounts and responsibilities that we work on what are in front
         of us and forget to pay attention to the bigger deal.
•    Having face time with the prospect is critical because it puts you in a position of
         advantage if your competition isn’t doing it and builds the relationship at many levels.
•    This is particularly important if the prospect is far away from everyone and rarely gets
         visited.

3.   If the deal crosses territories or oceans, share in the wealth and work with others
•    More often than not, compensation plans are not written to promote cooperation amongst
         different territories or regions.
•    Larger deals often have people in the decision process who are in multiple regions
         or countries.
•    It is incumbent upon you to get other people involved even if it means a smaller part
         of the commission.
•    It is difficult to cover this kind of opportunity otherwise and shows the depth of your
         organization to handle a larger opportunity.

4.    Get contracts done or issues ahead of time. Use contract as part of close
•    If you can get the contract process done earlier than later (which is not easy),
         you can shorten the sales process and you can use the contract to close the deal.
•    If it has already been invested in, and it is a good contract for both parties,
         you have already taken a lot of the pain out of the process.

Watch for my next blog and if you have any questions reach out to me




Tags: Sales Skills, Sales Advice, Sales Training, b2b Sales, Sales Tips, Sales Effectiveness, Closing, Sales 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

Salespeople, Automating Your Customer Interactions without Automation

Posted on Mon, Jan 14, 2013

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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