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Wows, Webinars and Whoops!

June 1st, 2013

Who loves to get a WOW!?  All sales people love to get a WOW! Sometimes, in our zest, we become too feature-function-gadget driven and forget about involving our buyers. Yes, we get a WOW, but we might also overwhelm our audience.  At least when we are face-to-face with our customers, we can see their reactions!

Selling Challenge:

  • If we host a web meeting or webinar, we cannot see their faces.

On a recent Webinar, this happened to me.  My blue tooth headset was charged, the 4G internet connection has 4 bars and like magic, I am presenting my solution to a
buyer hundreds of miles away. It was a competitive situation, so I wanted to show as many capabilities and exclusives as possible.  In the online meeting, the buyer did say WOW
a number of times.

Later that week, a fellow sales person called to discuss this particular buyer. Because he is selling a non-competitive product, we network, share sales tips and try to help each other succeed. He told me that a mutual customer shared that she was overwhelmed by my products and services.  Yes, this is the same buyer that participated in the Webinar. In the demonstration, too many applications came at the buyer in too short of time.

  • Yes, I got WOWS – but at what cost? Whoops! I had made a basic selling mistake.

My friend provides vital feedback to me that webinars are a great time saver but are very dangerous because you cannot judge the buyer’s reaction. His advice was to slow down and ask questions like:

  • “How do you see that working for you?”

The risk of having experience is that we become very confident. That confidence can often lead to mistakes and we can spiral into a negative sales cycle.  My friend shares his  feedback and helps me avoid losing an account. I call the buyer immediately and set up a follow up call. This time, the pace of the call was slower. The review of capabilities became interactive and customer focused. There were questions like:

  • “Where will this help you?”
  • “Why?”

This WOW junkie had to tame the urge to show too many features. The enthusiasm is there, but tempered. Now when I get on Webinars, I avoid the trap of talking too much. Questions help slow the pace and get the buyer involved. It takes focus, concentration, questions and listening.  These are some of the fundamental skills of selling. Just because we have new technology does not mean we stop practicing the fundamentals. If we forget this lesson, the result is WHOOPS! Mistakes can cost us customers, commissions and even,careers. This career sales person just got a lesson he will not forget.

If you have a tip, please post a response. If you have a question, please post that or visit facebook/salestrainer4U for a steady stream of tips and relevant sales education.

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“X” is for eXisting Concern

May 4th, 2013

The entire point of consultative selling is the find out the needs, wants and concerns of the buyer. By asking questions and listening, you should get a short list of issues to address in your product or service presentation. On your tablet or notepad, you can write a letter ‘X” and then address each concern directly with a feature, advantage and benefit.

Then, ask a checking question.

This confirms that the issue has been solved in the mind of the buyer. Simple? It is if you know the right questions to ask. If you want to know more about sales questions, visit facebook/salestrainer4U. Let’s visit a Case Study and then learn a method.

Case Study:

Let’s imagine that you are selling online advertising. You have asked great questions and found out that the buyer wants to reach a certain type of buyer in a limited geographic area.  There is a budget, but the business owner is old school and very skeptical about new media. Here is a sample XFAB:

Feature:

“We can offer you a Targeted Package in the geography you want”

Advantage:

“This will give your business a combination of powerful online promotional tools”

Benefit:

“This is a greater value for you because it reaches a niche audience”

Now Check with your buyer:

“Does that address your concerns about a test package that can reach your audience in the towns  that you want to target?”

If you know the issue and can help, then use XFAB Check method:

eXisting Concern:

Hidden needs, wants, concerns, issues of your customer

Feature…

The capability of your product or service

Advantage

What the feature does to fix the situation

Benefit…

What it ultimately means to customer

Check

Confirmation Question

Using the XFAB Check method will keep your presentations organized and relevant.  Remember to ask questions, listen and take notes.

Tailor your solution to your buyer’s needs and sales will go up! Visit me on Google+ or Facebook… I want to hear how you used this to help your buyers!

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Y is for YES

April 6th, 2013

‘Yes’ is the word forsales people, business owners, job seekers and anyone that is in sales. For sales people, agreement is the key to earnings. For business owners, YES means
that your customer has said they trust you to perform services or to deliver the
products. For a job seeker, the job offer is validation of worth and hope for a
better tomorrow.

Oh, you don’t think that you are in sales? We are all selling something!

  • When you ask someone to marry you, are you hoping for a yes? If not, why bother?
  • When you apply to a college, is not acceptance the goal?
  • When you are on a job interview, are you selling yourself?

Yes, Yes, Yes. It is a wonderful word and it comes in many forms. You have to expect
a yes to listen for it. Expectancy is the positive thinking part of selling. Then, when you hear a positive buying signal, you are conditioned to hear a ‘Yes.’ Here are some ‘Yes’ phrases that you may hear:

  • “We are thinking about January for installation”
  • “When we build our home, we are going to install carpet from your company”
  • “When we hire you, there will be training”

These are examples of verbal buying signals. A verbal buying signal is an implied yes and a sign that agreement is at hand. This is when you hear good business people say:

  • “Then we better get the paperwork approved”
  • “Great, let’s get the order filled out”
  • “When do I start?”

Think positive, expect a yes and then listen for it. Be ready to accept a little adversity and a few obstacles. But when a Yes comes along, smile and role with it!

Do you really think that your products and services are a nice fit for the
customer? Do you believe in your carpet line and know that it is perfect for
the new homeowners? Will you be a good employee? Yes, Yes, Yes.

What a wonderful word YES is to hear! Listen for it! Expect it! Now go get ‘em Tiger!

 

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Are you ZENACIOUS?

March 4th, 2013

You may have heard of Zen and I bet you have heard of
tenacity, but have you heard about ZENACITY?

It is an awareness of the customer that surpasses normal
thoughts and feelings; a sixth sense. It is a perceptual field that triggers a
compulsion to go above and beyond; to excel. Tenacity without empathy is like peanut butter without jelly.  The peanut butter is good for you! We know it
is protein and it does taste good with a banana (try it!).

Zenacity is the process of merging empathy with tenacity that multiplies
inner awareness with outward energy.

Zenacity is the use of all senses to get the mind and body
focused on needs fulfillment.

Are you observing? Do you watch not just for
buying signals but for confusion?

Have you detected clues that others miss or
conducted deep research that gives you the competitive edge?

Are you listening?

Does your focus and concentration kick in when
others speak?

Do your questions and needs analysis uncover the causes behind
the issues?

Can you listen emotionally?

Are you mature and sensitive enough to pick up
on values, passion and topics that are charged with feeling?

Do you follow up? From probing with fervor to e-mailing
after a sales call, do you really believe in your dream of success? Do you stay
with the customer through all of their doubt and fickleness? Or, are you like
the majority that give up, go home and fade away?

Sometimes people buy because a product fills a need. Maybe
they buy because the price fits the budget or someone they knew was very
pleased with a company or service.
People most often buy from someone they like!

Buyers like sales people that understand their needs and who are reliable both before and AFTER the
sale.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. For them, the sale begins when they start using your product or service. The goal is complete satisfaction.

Zenacity means that it is your mission to develop heightened awareness and drive so that you facilitate customer satisfaction.

Are you ZENACIOUS?

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Why Sales People Need to Train Like Olympic Athletes

June 30th, 2012

The top sales people in the world want to be the very best. To be at the top of your game, it takes knowing your products and what they can do for your customers. Learning about the competition is one of the best ways to learn about your industry. When you compare and contrast, it helps you differentiate your value proposition from the competitive offerings. Behind each company that you are competing against is another sales person – just like you!

Olympic Athletes have a training mentality because the difference between winning and losing can be a split second. 60 Minutes ran an interview with Michael Phelps and Anderson Cooper after the Beijing Olympics. It is widely known that Phelps won the gold in the 100-meter butterfly final at the Water Cube. What is not widely known because it was impossible to see with the naked eye was that he won by ONE-Hundredth of a second due to one small difference.

On the final stroke, Phelps kept his head down remaining streamline while Serbian competitor, Cavic, lifted his head creating a speed bump effect. The training and conditioning Phelps endured day after day, month after month; year after year mattered to qualify him for the Olympics, but what mattered more at the end was a slight difference in execution.

Well, check out this June 29, 2012 headline:

2012 Olympic Swimming Trials: Michael Phelps Dominate In Men’s 200m IM Semifinal

That’s right. Phelps is back to his winning ways.

Do you want to win at sales? There are a lot of people that answer yes to that question without understanding the commitment. Notice that I didn’t ask you if you want to get by, be second best or even be a member of your local country club. I asked you if you want to win! Winning means organizing your life, rearranging your attitudes and getting all your activities into a winning pattern.

Winning at sales means that you recognize a gold medal mentality. When you are called upon to sell, you must be ready. Readiness suggests that you have trained for the NOW moment and can achieve at the highest levels. You can compete against the best in the world and walk away victorious. Do you have this gold medal mentality? A gold medal mentality means that you want to be marginally better today than you were yesterday. It means that you have a competitive fire that burns brighter than the pretender they call your competition. A gold mental mentality means that you can separate your ego from your behavior to learn new strategies, tactics and methods.

For these reasons, sales people need to train like Olympic Athletes. In the weeks ahead, we will be tracking the Olympic athletes preparing for the London 2012 Games. Stories will appear on the salestrainer4u/blog and on facebook/salestrainer4U about Olympic athletes, their training regimen, their attitudes and their discipline.

Why? There will be winners and losers, just like in sales. Even athletes who train hard can lose. Will they keep their focus? Will they practice and perform under pressure? Will they dig deep when other people have written them off? Not all sales people want to be the best. But if you have read to this point of the article, my belief is that you do. You want to win at the highest levels of sales greatness. In that case, stay tuned to this blog and join in the facebook/salestrainer4u dialog. It’s time to go for the gold!

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Book Review of Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach by Linda Richardson

April 22nd, 2012

You do not need to be a C.E.O. or Business Owner to benefit from reading and learning from
Linda Richardson’s classic business book: Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach. One primary theme is that coaching helps people remove obstacles.  I’ve applied many of these concepts to family life, church organizations and volunteer work. If you are motivated to make a difference in the world, than I would recommend that you read Sales Coaching!

  • One of my favorite quotes from the book is: “Coaching takes Strength – real emotional muscle” page 91

It is a privilege when you are in the Coach role. If you try to be analytical without taking in culture, values, feelings then you may misread a situation. In both professional and personal situations, I’ve found that emotional intelligence is vital in assisting others to become capable, dynamic citizens. Linda Richardson makes an early observation that “most coaching comes in the form of telling.”

  • The point is that we should ask questions and let people come to their own conclusions.
  • This shows respect and allows learning and growth to occur.
  • By asking questions, you can establish a dialogue based on actual behaviors.
  • These conversations can then take place over time and be referenced
    in different situations.

My only critique of Sales Coaching is the author’s point that “coaching is about how to change by doing things differently.” Most really good business people find what works and do it over and over again. They find the best practices, or success habits, of achievers and pattern their attitudes and behavior to reach new levels of performance. There are times to get people to change their behavior and there are times to reinforce what people are doing right.  Saying “coaching is all about how to change” sounds like a cliché.

To elaborate, let’s compare coaching to a really good golf lesson. The best golf instructors observe, ask questions and make small changes over time. One lesson that I took involved being recorded on a digital recorder.  My swing was compared to the swing of a golfing professional. The technology allowed frame-by-frame assessment. My golf coach pointed out my strengths and areas of improvement. Small changes were made and my golf game improved. This also allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of the game so I could enjoy it to the fullest.  A coaching mindset in business follows a similar theme:

  • We help people identify and remove obstacles so that they can be more productive and enjoy their lives, relationships and careers!
  • The art of asking questions helps the people understand their best qualities.
  • This instills the confidence to make small changes.
  • This works with co-workers, family members and children.
  • Praise is a powerful, positive and wonderful motivator!

Sales Coaching gets a five star recommendation as both a skill building book and a tool kit. There are plenty of examples with excellent questions. There are also checklists and forms that you can use as resources. For more resources, please visit facebook/salestrainer4U. A like will get you a steady stream of emerging markets, tips, positive news and skill building resources.

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Book Review: “Please Understand Me” by Kiersey and Bates

March 20th, 2012

Personality is one dimension of psychology that is both interesting and practical. In the classic book “Please Understand Me” by Kiersey and Bates, there is support for the research conducted by Myers-Briggs. One immediate gain you will get is a self-test (non-computerized) that is easy to grade. Once your ‘type’ is identified, you can read about your tendencies and preferences.

This book is recommended for:

  • Improving family relationships
  • Getting along better with the opposite sex
  • For sales / business people who would like  to learn how to influence others

This is the book that popularized the term “extrovert and introvert.” Most people believe that an Extrovert can be identified as a social person. That is a tendency of an extrovert, but the real way to understand either an Extrovert or an Introvert is to understand how they recharge their batteries. “The person who chooses people as a source of energy probably prefers extraversion, while the person who prefers solitude to recover energy tends toward introversion.”[1] A very common misconception is that introverted people do not enjoy people or socializing. In my family, we have two extroverts and two introverts.  All four members of the family enjoy friends, family and parties. Each member of the family mixes at a party; engages in conversation and would be described as friendly. The two introverts are drained after hours of interaction and need time alone to get recharged. The two extroverts have 100 % battery power! But extroverts get drained as well by having long periods of solitude, paperwork or individual assignments.

By taking time to understand (and discuss) our differences, you can be more considerate. As an extrovert, my adjustment would be to tame the socializing and leave the party at a decent hour. The very fact that you have taken an effort to learn and adapt to family members is a goodwill gesture. A great application of “Please Understand Me” is taking the Myers-Briggs personality test and comparing types. For instance, my wife and I have opposite characteristics. The section on potential clashes in personality between our two types was both fascinating and eerily accurate.

There are many more dimensions to the Myers-Briggs personality studies. Some of the topics include:

  1. How We Learn (and Teach!)
  2. Decision Making dynamics
  3. Task vs. Relationship orientation

Displaying the book on the kitchen table normally generates curiosity and spurs conversation. When someone in the family asks ‘what are you reading?’; Just reply “Oh, I’m reading about you!’ (then make eye contact and smile!) You can put the book down and in about 15 minutes, someone is looking at your copy trying to see what you are learning! That is the chance (the opening) to read (out loud) the passages that relate to your family and friends. Don’t miss this opportunity – it’s why you got the book!

Imagine if you could extend that positive energy towards co-workers and customers. So there are several pay-offs for reading “Please Understand Me.” That’s good because while the first third of the book is easy reading, you will have to be motivated and persistent to get through the middle section of type comparisons. I’ve read this book four times and still find nuggets in different sections. But building better relationships is hard work, right? My prediction is that you will get years of enjoyment out of the knowledge and skills gained by reading this fundamentally sound book about the Myers-Briggs personality research.  If you apply it in business, it should improve your ability to positively impact people and get more profitable results. Challenge yourself to purchase, read and apply “Please Understand Me.”


[1]
Please Understand Me. Kiersey and Bates. 1984. Promethetheus Nemesis Book
Company.

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DRIVE by Daniel H Pink

January 2nd, 2012

Dan Pink’s DRIVE jumps on motivation and rides it like a motorcycle on a mountain road. There are twists and turns, but the more you ride, the hotter it gets. You know that feeling of freedom, raw excitement and the sheer rush of being alive. Oh – haven’t felt that way in a while?

It may be that your organization, team or family is using extrinsic motivation (carrot and stick) to motivate team members. You may want to pick up DRIVE and upgrade yourself up to Mr. Pink’s three elements of intrinsic motivation:
• Autonomy
• Mastery
• Purpose

While the book was written for workplace teams, the concepts can be applied to home, physical fitness, charity and any other dimension of your life. First, autonomy means that you have the freedom to make decisions. Mastery means that you are striving to conquer an area of interest, skill or subject. Don’t forget purpose, knowing ‘why’ you get up every day!

Re-wire yourself to ‘Positive’
One of my favorite quotes from the book is that positive psychology has “reoriented the study of psychological science away from the previous focus on malady and dysfunction and toward well-being and effective functioning.”[1] In other words, study the well-adjusted, successful people if you want to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. Look at the habits of high performing people and replicate these behaviors. Trace the behaviors back to values, morals and internal beliefs. Set your compass to a positive outlook based on autonomy, mastery and purpose. If you like these ideas – read Drive by Dan Pink. I’ve barely scratched the surface and every one of my friends and associates that read this book felt like there was renewed energy in their personal and professional lives. 

[1] Drive. Pink. Penguin Books. 2009. P 73

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Tribes

November 12th, 2011

Tribes, by Seth Godin, is a suggested book for business owners, managers and sales people who want to develop loyal fans and customers.  Godin’s style is to share stories about successful people and companies to weave the argument of being different; for taking risks. Yes – it is about leadership but there are great lessons for sales professionals who want to think and act differently to achieve success.

Godin makes the point early that “the real power of tribes has nothing to do with the internet and everything to do with people.”[1] We often make this point with new sales people who think that social media will make sales and generate revenue. Our opinion is that Social Media might be a way to get leads – but getting face-to-face with a decision maker is still the best path to making a sale. Yes, a web meeting is also fantastic – and so are phone calls.  Sales is a contact sport – so the more live people that you interact with – the better.

In Tribes, Godin frames a beautiful paradox about taking chances: “the safest thing you can do feels risky and the riskiest thing to do is to play it safe.” [2] A sales professional must be able to get outside personal comfort zones to reach a higher level of performance. Taking risks means that we must often go see customers with no guarantees of making the sale.  Playing it safe in sales is very risky – because low activity in sales is almost always a predictor of a drop in future opportunities.

There are career implications for sales professionals too. I love Seth Godin’s attitude altering statement: “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is – maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” [3] One of the reasons that I decided to view sales as a sport was to create a fun life for myself.  By becoming a sales athlete, my life became more exciting and challenging. I would encourage you to turn sales into a game and make it fun!

The ultimate lesson of Tribes for sales people is the power of references – people who can vouch for your products and services. If your tribe includes customers who will voluntarily say nice things about what you offer – then a positive gossip starts. Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising – (even more than facebook) because customers believe other customers.  So my recommendation on this book is to buy it, read it and then apply it in your selling efforts.

[1] Tribes. Godin. Penguin Books. Page 6

[1] Tribes. Godin. Penguin Books. Page 64

[1] Tribes. Godin. Penguin Books. Page 101

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Saturday: Balancing Family and Work with Zoning

September 17th, 2011

It’s easy to get consumed by your work and neglect your family. Communication with your spouse on both family and business objectives means that you are both in agreement on
the weekend.  Even though Saturday used to be ‘down time’ – there may be professional projects that simply must be accomplished.  Try to isolate time that does not compete with important family or social obligations.

We can do that with a Time Management application called ‘Zoning.’

Zoning is picking out a productive block of time for complete focus. Let’s identify the early morning hours of Saturday:

  • You bought the book on how to write a business plan, but there has been no time – until now.
  • Block off the three hours before anyone gets out of bed!
  • This will allow you to still have time for family and personal activities – with the sense of accomplishment that you are moving ahead with
    your goals!

Here is a sample schedule:

6:00 Read a chapter on market segmentation while you have a cup of coffee

6:30 Surf the internet to identify industry resources

7:00 Who Are the Market Leaders?

8:00 Where are the areas of opportunities?

8:30 Where is the one market niche where no one is focusing?

At nine, it’s time to move on with life and spend some time with the family. You’ve documented your progress and saved the document. When the time is right, share your progress with your spouse and thank your husband or wife for the support. This communication will show that you are serious about your new business, with a common realization that it is going to take a lot of hard work.  Zoning will help you balance both family and work as you achieve your dreams one step at a time.

 

 

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