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Sales Advice

Always Be Selling Pt 2 – A Brave New World

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Always Be Selling Pt 2 - A Brave New World

The sales industry has changed from the old school, knock on your door days, and referrals. People pick up the phones less, buyers are more educated, and sellers now need to take a modernized approach it customers. Understanding how to run a formalized BDR/SDR (Business Development Rep/Sale Development Rep) program is essential to staying active in the sales industry, including sending out emails and other touchpoints to prospective clients to make a sale.

Exhausting every option to gain a customer’s interest is now industry standard. The amount of activity and resources spent to make a sale has increased because the amount of relationship building with customers in the pre-sale stage has decreased. Sales are now primarily driven by campaign data, so business owners can start to understand where sales call drop-offs will be, expected responses, and bookings.

Hiring sales staff that are able to quickly understand the different types of personalities when speaking to people and adjust to them will bring in more sales every time. Using a combination of a call, voicemail, email, and backed up by marketing messaging (documents) provides the highest rate of success. Ultimately, coming up with a sales strategy, including script, target market, and campaign (based on data) will give your business the best opportunity to succeed in the sales field.

Stopping Yourself Before You Even Try

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Stopping-Yourself-Before-You-TryHow many times have you wanted to try something, only to stop yourself before you even attempt it? Travel to a country where you don’t know the language, jumping into a cave with a pool at the bottom, asking someone on a date… or perhaps more relatable, asking for the close when fear has the nasty habit of making you say “I can’t do that” before you even attempt it.

I’m not going to go into the psychology or anything too heavy about fear, but what I am going to try and do is convince you that you’re you own worst enemy. Thinking about it logically, the reason that you think that you can’t do something is because you’re afraid of the negative outcome. If you’re scared about jumping into the cave with the pool at the bottom, you’re most likely scared that you’ll hit something on the way down. If you’re afraid of asking for the close, you’re most likely afraid that they’ll turn down your offer and all your hard work will be for nothing.

When it comes to fear holding you back when you’re selling, I can offer you two points of advice based on my own experience:

You Won’t Know Until You Try – Why would you put in all the work of building a connection with a prospect, getting to know them and realizing that your service can genuinely help them, only to stop yourself before asking for a close? Getting cold feet near the end of the sales process can be tricky, but the absolute worst case scenario is that they’ll say no. Afterwards, the solution is simple…

Worst Case Scenario: Move On – So you do the big ask and they say no. Was it as bad as you imaged? The reality is that it probably stung a bit, perhaps it was a tad frustrating and threw off your day, but you moved on right? Even if we don’t admit that we can, moving on is just something that people do naturally. Of course, it comes easier to some than others, but no matter what it’s important to simply deal with whatever outcome has happened and grow from it, instead of dwelling on it and letting it prevent future opportunities.

It’s better to cope with failure than live with the “what-ifs”, both in life and in sales. Trust me, once you get rid of all fear when selling, you’ll excel further than you thought possible and soon enough be sitting on that cash throne.

Integrity When Selling Makes A Difference

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SuperBowl49_EMR0100a_2014_SCC_SRGBI have no doubt that many of you were glued to the TV watching the championship games to see who would make it to the Superbowl in a couple of weeks (Patriots vs. Seahawks in case you missed it). While the Seahawks incredible comeback is its own story, I want to focus on the Patriots.

On the surface, the Patriots dominated the Colts 45-7 and earned Tom Brady another trip to the Superbowl. However, what happened after the game were accusations that the Patriots were cheating – specifically for deflating footballs during their championship game. As of writing this, the investigation is fresh and will probably take a while to fully examine. That point though is that this isn’t the first time that the Patriots have been accused of cheating. Back in 2007 they were fined $250,000 after a NFL investigation found them illegally videotaping their opponents.

This leaves the Patriots in a very interesting position, regardless of whether the allegations are true. I know many people who instantly scoff at any mention of the Patriots because of all the constant cheating allegations that have followed them. While they’re undeniably one of the top football teams, their credibility is always up for debate. The question I ask you is this: has anyone on your sales team made it so that your company’s credibility is lost? Worst yet, have they ever blatantly lied just to make a sale?

Whether it’s stretching the truth or promising things that simply aren’t possible, there will be a time when your client finds out the truth and then your trust is broken. Having integrity when selling is something that you would think would be common sense, however I thought it would be important to discuss why being dishonest during your sales process is simply a terrible idea:

Distrust Leaves A Lingering Taste – The biggest problem with the Patriots’ latest scandal is the fact that people are generally saying “again?” Obviously this is not the kind of reputation that any team or company would want when nasty things are being said about them. This doesn’t always have to be about blatant “cheating” as well. Terrible customer service or anything that makes anyone’s experience with your company unpleasant will unfortunately linger a lot longer than a good memory.

Hard To Earn Back Trust – As mentioned above, it is going to take a long time for the Patriots to lose their reputation as cheaters, and for fans to just see them as champion-level team instead of anything else. Earning trust is already a difficult task, but earning back someone’s trust after you’ve wronged them is an entirely different beast. It’s simply much better to not get into that situation in the first place.

Ensuring that integrity is something that is constantly talked about to your sales team will ensure that your company’s reputation stays intact.

Limit The Options To Close The Sale

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Ever had those days where you just want a simple product, but are overwhelmed with the amount of choices involved? Let’s say you want to buy a MP3 player for Christmas and wander into Best Buy thinking it will be easy – but what colour do you want? What brand? Should it be water proof? Do you really need Bluetooth? What about the batteries it takes? There have been so many times where I go to buy something and am simply put off by the amount of options available that I lose interest in the product and put it off getting it – or sometimes I don’t get it at all!

This got me thinking to the typical sales person who tries to sell a “complete” solution to someone who doesn’t really need all of the bells and whistles. Offering the right solution to potential customers is critical to closing the sale, but giving them a list of too many options is bound to turn them off. Once your prospect suffers from information overload, they’ll either delay the decision or lose interest. Here’s what you should do to prevent this from happening:

Discuss Their Exact Needs: The first step of any successful sale’s process is having a deep understanding of what your prospect is looking for, meaning that you need to have an in-depth conversation with them – probably multiple conversations actually. It’s no secret that you need to develop a relationship with your potential clients since it’s rare that you’ll sell someone a product or service on your first meeting. As such, when you’re getting to know them you need to see what exactly they’re looking for in a solution and if you can concisely offer them the service instead of saying things like “You might like A, but B and C are probably better! And we can’t forget D, E and F either.”

Custom Tailor A Solution: Chances are that you may not one concise solution available to solve all of a customer’s problems, which is why you offer them so many solutions. In this case though, it would help a lot if you move things around to make a solution that best fits for them, that way they have all of their problems solved in one fell swoop. Sure, it might be a bit of a pain, but there’s no doubt that they’ll appreciate the effort you put into making something work for them. This will also limit their options to their yes or no, making the close dramatically easier.

By making the decision process for your prospects easier and making their choices meet their needs, I guarantee that you’ll have more success with closing sales.

Build A Relationship With Your Prospects

By | Achieving Wealth, Sales Advice, Business Growth, Business Health, Foundations of Success | No Comments

build-relationshipWhen you’re selling to potential customers, I sincerely hope you’re not taking a “one night stand” approach with them, for lack of a better term. As always, this was a point I touched on in my last blog post that I really want to elaborate on. No one wants to be sold to, which shouldn’t be a surprise to people anymore. The question then, is how do you sell to people without selling to them? The answer is to build a potentially long lasting relationship with them.

There are many benefits to establishing a relationship with your prospects, but the most obvious advantage is the fact that they’ll trust you, and people are more accepting of products and services being offered to them from people that they trust. Here are some insights to help you keep a personal touch with potential customers.

Don’t Treat Them Like a Target – Stop the sales pitch and start a conversation. In order to build a sincere and serious relationship, you need to have real conversations with people. That means that your sales pitch can’t sound ANYTHING like a sales pitch. Even if you’re just having a conversation, the instant that anyone thinks you’re trying to sell them something it’s over. Talk with them, find out their problems and treat them like real people.

Take Genuine Interest In Them – Taking the last point a little further, don’t feign interest in something a prospect brings up just to impress them. A critical part of building a relationship with people is that you have to be yourself. I know it’s cliché, but you shouldn’t have to put on a “sales persona” every time you talk with a potential customer – in fact, that’s probably the WORST thing you can do. Even though you may think that you might be doing a good job feigning interest, I guarantee that the person you’re speaking with knows and are just politely playing along. Only take an interest in topics that are of actual interest to you, and you’ll get a much better response.

Take Notes And Follow Up – When you’re talking with potential customers, a habit you should already be into is taking notes while you’re chatting. But try and take some notes on comments they make that might be interesting later, like if they mention they’ll be away on vacation or mention they’ll be out of the office to see their child in a play. When you follow up with them and bring up these little anecdotes, you’ll definitely stand out.

What kind of techniques do you use to build a genuine relationship with potential customers? I look forward to your feedback in the comments.

Ask For The Close To Get The Close

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Let’s face it, closing the sale is the end game for every sales person. And while we’re at it, let’s face another truth – it’s also the most difficult part of selling. But that doesn’t have to be the cace. A lot of the time, difficulty in closing a sale is only perceived to be much more difficult than it truly is. While every case is different, here are three things to keep in mind that’ll help you close that pesky sale.

Focus on the Customer Problem – The best sales people aren’t out there pounding the pavement just mindlessly pushing their product or service in front of people. The best sales people are the ones that actively listen to their prospects and try to understand their problem first. More importantly, they understand that what you’re trying to sell simply can’t solve their problem. This is truly what will set you apart from the rest! Take the time to actively listen and discuss the problem that they’re having. Prep yourself with some questions to ask to learn about their problems, like “what would you like to focus on improving during the next few months” or even a straight to the point question of “what’s the biggest problem your department is currently dealing with?” You’ll lose hard earned rapport if you just present a solution without listening to the problem. If they feel as though you genuinely want to solve their problem, I guarantee that they’ll be more likely to want your product.

Develop a Relationship – People don’t like being sold to, so don’t treat a prospect like just another target. If you’re thoroughly trying to solve a potential customer’s problem though, this shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s extremely rare that you’ll be able to close any deal from just one meeting or phone call. This means that you’ll need to keep in touch with the prospects who show interest, or who you truly believe that you’ll be able to solve their problems with your product or service. By regularly keeping in contact and paying attention to the conversations that you have, you’ll be able to pick up on some little details about their life that you’ll be able to bring up again in regular conversation. These little gestures will mean a lot when it comes to closing a sale, because I know from experience that people are far more likely to buy something from someone who asks “how was your daughter’s dentist appointment” instead of someone who clearly doesn’t care about you.

Ask For It! – As like with many things in life, it’s extremely rare that you’ll simply be handed something without working or asking for it. There have been many instances where my sales team is lamenting the fact that they were discussing a sale with a potential customer for a long time, but it just didn’t work out. Then I ask if they actually asked for the sale, and they almost always say no. This ties back into an old blog post I had about fear, and it’s almost always fear of rejection that makes people not simply ask them if they want to buy what you’re selling. If you’ve been focusing their problem and have developed a great relationship with them, the results will almost always be positive.

Does this closely follow what you’re currently doing? If not, what steps are you taking to make sure that you close the sale? I’d be very interested to hear your techniques in the comments.

Make The Most Of 24 Hours

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24-Hours24 hours in a day – to some people it seems like that’s never enough to accomplish anything, but then there are the people who seem like they can get everything done in that time, plus still have time for their family, friends and a million other personal tasks. Your gut reaction might be to be envious of these people, but it’s not as if they’re cheating and getting an extra hour from somewhere. We ALL have 24 hours to make the most out of, which means that it really just comes down to time management.

Managing your time really is an art. It takes a lot of practice and experience to know how to best use your time, especially when you’re a sales person. Selling isn’t as simple as calling random names in a phonebook (which admittedly is a dated phrase), sending random emails and then patiently awaiting the results. You’ll need to be tactical of how you organize your time to ensure that you’re getting the best results while taking advantage of the time you have. I’ll provide you with a few insights from years of selling:

Write EVERYTHING Down – The key to any form of time management is to keep track of your day. Eventually you’ll be able to adjust and plan ahead, but to first start things out you should just write down everything that you’re currently doing in a typical day. This way you’ll get a solid understanding of how you currently spend your time. You’ll also get a very stark view of how much time you’re not using effectively, which might be difficult to accept. Everyone likes to believe they’re productivity machines, but we all fall victim to distraction.

(Try To) Limit Distractions, Or Schedule Them In – Once you get an understanding of how you’re using your time and see how you’re distracting yourself, the next step is to try and limit your distractions. I put an emphasis on “try” because I know that it’s not as simple as just cutting yourself off from the internet or turning your phone off. At the end of the day, we’re all human and can’t keep working hours on end without some form of distraction. What you can, and should, start doing is penciling time to be distracted. That way, you’ll make the most out of the bit of time that you have. Keep in mind though, that there will be many times when you can’t predict things coming up, and you’ll need to just act on instinct.

Know When You’re Good – Not everyone is an early bird, and not everyone is a night owl. Every person is efficient at different times of the day. For example, those who prefer working early mornings will tackle their most important tasks first thing, while those who are more functional in the afternoon will focus their mornings on less vital tasks and preparing for the tasks ahead. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to this. Figure out what works best for you and try to work around it. If you can prove results to your manager, you can even try changing your working schedule to accommodate this!

Like I mentioned, each step might vary slightly based on the results that you find, but once you find out what works for you, stick with it and you’ll find yourself using time a lot more efficiently – both in your work life and personal life.

Sell with Confidence to Sell with Success

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It’s well known that the people who have an extraordinary amount of success in business are generally those who are confident. Unsurprisingly, this is essentially the foundation of success when it comes to being an excellent sales person.

Sales people are generally known for their confident demeanour. If you think about any time someone has sold you something, you’ll probably remember how confident the person was that you would genuinely see benefit from the product.

Of course, unless you’re a confident person from the get go, this is actually really tough. And even if you are confident, sometimes being in front of a person or talking on the phone can completely change a person’s confidence levels! Here are three tips I can offer that should be able to help you sell with more confidence.

Believe In Your Product – This is the most important point I can make, and something that you need to understand before you fully commit to a sales position. Do you truly believe in the product you’re selling? Can you find the positive features of the product and understand how it’ll improve things for your customers? If you hesitated for even a second, then take some time to re-evaluate things. How can you realistically sell something with confidence if you personally don’t find value in the product or service? This is important because when questions come up from those you’re selling to, people will be able to hear your hesitation in your voice.

Let Go of Fear – I’ve dedicated an entire blog post to this in the past, but letting go of your fears is one of the most essential things to selling. Be it fear of rejection or anything related, your doubt will be conveyed when you speak. The way you speak and tone of voice are vital because it’s one of the few ways to let your potential customer know that they can trust you – and people don’t buy things from people they don’t trust!

Practice What You’ll Say, But To A Point – After being in a sales position for a while, you’re bound to notice that the same concerns from people will come up over and over again, or that if you tell potential customers how your product works in a certain way, they’ll understand a lot quicker. Having key points memorized, or even working off of a script can work wonders for your sales efforts. But much like with a speech or presentation, you don’t want to memorize everything word for word. If you do, you’ll risk the chance of coming across robotic or fake, which means people will lose interest very quickly in what you’re saying.

Gaining confidence is not an overnight act, and I’m by no means trying to simplify the process. My hope is simply to give you a solid starting point so you can sell things easier. Let me know if you have any insights!

The Challenges of Executing and Delivering

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Wish_Group_Summer_ReunionWhether you only have one employee or 50 employees, execution will always be difficult. By execution I mean of course the way that you are completing tasks that will grow your business, and deliver positive results either to your leadership in the company or to yourself.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the Wish Group went away for our bi-annual team building trip a couple of weeks ago. During these trips we like to have an overall theme for the event that will put a focus on the learning we’ll accomplish, with this year’s theme being execution.

The main goal for these trips is of course team building, but taking the time to discuss challenges and triumphs with your team is also an excellent way of doing that. When it comes to executing, we focused on four different areas that were loosely based on the four disciplines of execution, with a spotlight on sales of course:

Make Important Goals – The only way to achieve great success is to make goals that you can focus on. It may sound simple, but without a goal to focus on you simply won’t have the same drive that other sales people or companies have. One of the tasks we asked everyone at our Summer Reunion to complete is to write down their Wildly Important Goals for the year. This first step is really what sets the tone for how you’ll achieve success, since it’s important to actually define what success means to you!

Define Your Lead Measures – Even if you have a goal, what’s the point if you don’t have a practical way of reaching it? I put an emphasis on practical because it’s common to rush towards a goal instead of tackling it strategically. The best way I can explain this is with a common weight loss analogy. Your important goal may be to lose 50 pounds, but you can’t just make this goal and hope for the best. You’ll be keeping track of how much exercise you’re doing daily and even how many calories you’re taking in. The same thing applies to your sales team. Sure, they want to close a certain amount of deals, but victory lies in preparation. They’ll need to keep track of who they’re contacting, what prospects make the most sense to reach out to and what hasn’t been working for them in the past, just as a few examples.

Track Your Progress – It’s hard to admit, but there are only winners and losers when it comes to sales and business. People don’t pay to see two sports teams kick a ball around and not keep track of who wins. We pay to see one team win, which means another team has to lose. Keeping a scorecard of all of your successes will keep you focused on your goals in two ways. On one hand, having a visual record of the times when you didn’t quite reach your goals will motivate you to keep trying harder to turn those failures into triumphs. On the other hand, with the notes you keep from your lead measures combined with your scorecard, it’ll be extremely rewarding to have a solid trail of your success and how hard you’ve worked to get there.

Accountability to Yourself and Your Team – Your plans, your efforts and triumphs don’t mean anything if you don’t hold yourself accountable by actually following through with your action plan. It’s important to understand that this means keeping track of your failures too, because you’ll never be able to improve if you don’t look at both sides of your endeavors.

As you can clearly see, executing is by no means an easy task, and overnight results shouldn’t be expected. Like with most things in life, if you want to achieve greatness, you’ll need to take it one step at a time. And like most things as well, the first step is always the most difficult – but after that I guarantee that you’ll be able to do it!

Pushing Aside Fear When Selling

By | Comments & Opinion, Success & Inspiration, Self Education, Business Insights, Sales Advice, Foundations of Success, Personal Accountability | One Comment

In my blog post last week, I talked about fear holding you back when you’re an entrepreneur and discussed different methods that I thought would be useful for getting over your fears. Once you’ve understood and overcome your fears, you’ll be able to help others get over theirs. This will come in particularly handy with your sales team.

Your sales team may be holding themselves back from getting new clients simply because of their fears. However, like I discussed last week, these can be overcome with constant work and luckily most sales people have very similar fears, either consciously or unconsciously. Here are the most common fears of sales people that I’ve seen, and what you can do to help them overcome it.

Fear of Closing the Sale – No matter how amazing the product or service you’re selling is, it’s extremely rare that people will blatantly tell you that they want to buy it. Most of the time, you have to ask people to buy your product – which is a surprisingly big fear for most sales people. When I’ve asked people in the past why they’re afraid of closing the sale, they told me that they were afraid of coming across as forceful or stubborn. In reality, you should NEVER be afraid of what other people think of you. At the end of the day, you’re doing your job just like everyone else. You shouldn’t fear how someone will react to you doing something that you love.

Fear of Following Up – Tying in with the above fear of other people’s perception, some sales people never follow up with their prospects because of a fear of being perceived as annoying or obnoxious. You need to put this aside, simply because it’s extremely rare that you or anyone will sell something successfully on your first try. In fact, according to The National Sales Executive Association, only 2% of sales are made on the first contact, while an astounding 80% of sales are made on the twelfth contact or higher. If your sales people never follow up due to fear, they’ll never sell your product or service.

Fear of Rejection – This is the big one, and it doesn’t only happen to sales people. Fear of rejection is one of the biggest and most common fears that people have. There’s no set method to get over a fear of rejection, but the best piece of advice that I can offer you is to not take it personally. While your personality does play a role in whether or not you make a sale, most of the time your prospect won’t buy a product from you for a variety of reasons, not because they dislike you, so there’s no point in blaming yourself for a lost sale. Just learn your lesson from it, and move onto the next prospect.

Does your sales team regularly talk about their fears with you? If so, how do you mentor them to overcome them? I look forward to discussing this topic with you.