In this column I’m going to share some lessons from the farm. Recently, as I was thinking about how I respond in difficult situations, I realized something that I want to share with you.
Growing up as a kid, I worked on the farm. No, that’s not sexy. And no, it’s not brutal. It was ugly. I picked strawberries. I don’t know if you’ve ever picked strawberries, but it’s hard work. The strawberry picking season would start right after school let out in June and through mid-July. Every year, the bus came by to pick me up about 5:30 a.m. … Read the rest
People continue to say how cold calling is dead and how in today’s environment, it no longer can be cost justified. The answer is both “yes” and “no.” Let me deal with the “no” first.
In the past few months, I’ve watched numerous salespeople shift all of their prospecting efforts to developing social media with such vehicles as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. The problem with this is it becomes a giant time sucker. The payout of social media in terms of developing sales short-term is very poor.
To develop a social media strategy requires time, and I’m a firm believer … Read the rest
Sell to the customer’s value expectations, not to your value propositions.
We’ve all heard the rule of listening to what the customer has to say, and there’s not a salesperson who thinks they don’t listen to the customer. Reality, however, is quite the opposite.
I find time after time when I’m working with salespeople across any number of industries that the failure to listen is a huge issue.
Too many salespeople believe that because they know the products they represent much better than the client, they know exactly what the customer will see as real value. It’s as if because … Read the rest
One of the new marketing trends is “disruptive selling.” This is defined as any marketing strategy that is bold enough, unique enough or out of the ordinary enough to create buzz and, consequently, sales. It could be marketing that runs counter to the time of year when competitors are running campaigns or that runs in the opposite direction of other campaigns.
This counter motion results in greater effectiveness and far less cost in terms of time and money.
Launching a successful disruptive marketing or sales program usually follows four basic steps. The first step is to throw out pre-conceived ideas … Read the rest
It’s been said that to be a successful salesperson, not only do your listening skills have to be great, but your closing skills have to be even better. However, I believe that while these skills are helpful, they are not essential. In my opinion, to be a top-performing sales professional, you must be a great leader. It is a fundamental character trait.
Although we have all known salespeople who have had stellar years based on the luck of a few great clients, those with sustained, long-term success always exhibit great leadership skills.
What is a leader? Leaders are people who … Read the rest
You will always be your number-one customer. It’s not the big account you service, nor is it the hot new prospect you just uncovered. It’s you. The reason is simple. If you’re not completely confident in what you’re selling, you will never come close to maximizing your sales potential. Your sales motivation will always lag behind what it really could be.
The current sales environment makes the need to sell yourself even more important. If you think you’re the exception to this rule and you’re not completely confident in the products or services you offer, ask yourself this simple question: … Read the rest
It’s the meeting for which you’ve been waiting.
Finally, you’ve been able to secure a meeting with the CEO of the company you know you can help. For the past year, you’ve been researching the company and developing relationships with as many people as possible.
In particular, you have gotten to know the two gatekeepers who have been up to now blocking your way to the CEO. Last week your call to the administrative assistant finally hit home and you’re on the CEO’s calendar in three weeks.
Now is the time to get ready.
The degree to which you prepare … Read the rest
Finding a quality person to fill a position is not an easy job. Although many people think they can be effective in sales, the reality is that few can do it well. Even more amazing is how many employers want capable salespeople, but are not willing to compensate them accordingly or invest in their development.
I once read a survey conducted by the employment organization, Manpower. They polled 32,000 employers in 23 countries. The results indicated that the number-one position they had trouble filling was not specialized like an engineer or accountant as some would expect, but, rather, sales representatives. … Read the rest
We all know that sales is really all about “closing the sale.” There is not a salesperson alive who does not use a variety of techniques to help them be successful with customers. However, I believe passion is the most underrated and underutilized sales tool in our arsenal, because it is too hard to measure and no one has found an effective way to teach it.
Why don’t more people use passion to their advantage? It’s simple. Passion exists in those who are humble, focused and unlikely to advertise their expertise.
Passion is an effective sales tool because it isn’t … Read the rest
Too many salespeople view their buyers as anything but smart, especially those salespeople who deal with purchasing departments. In far too many sales communities, there exists an attitude that buyers and purchasing departments are nothing more than barriers that need to be broken down.
Well, yes there are barriers. Ironically, though, they are barriers that more often than not are there due to the very actions of the sales community. One simple thing salespeople need to keep in mind is the fact the professional buyer sees far more salespeople in the course of a week or month than most salespeople … Read the rest
Anyone can sell if the price is cheap enough or if what is being sold is something people can’t live without. However, for the vast majority of us, neither of these luxuries are part of the scenario in our sales strategy.
The difficulty of selling is compounded by the fact that most customers have a wide range of options available to them regarding what they can buy. Therefore, in order to close the sale, it becomes necessary for us to stand out from other salespeople. One of the best ways to be different is by displaying a confident personality.
A … Read the rest
One position that has not been impacted by the economy is sales. Ask any CEO and you will hear that one of their biggest issues is finding and retaining good salespeople.
Something happened on the way to a sour economy: Too many companies learned the hard way that their salespeople didn’t know how to sell. Instead, their salespeople were good at taking orders and providing customer service. There is nothing wrong with this approach, as long as the marketplace is always going to serve up new customers and keep current customers in business. Does that kind of marketplace always exist? … Read the rest
I’ll never forget the first time it happened to me.
The presentation with the customer was going well. I had prepared extensively. In fact, I had not just spent more time than normal, I had stayed up nearly all night to make sure I had every element covered perfectly in my presentation. For me, this sales call was going to be a huge success. My boss had told me this was going to be a difficult quarter, and that’s all I needed to hear to motivate me to close this particular sale.
The customer I was meeting with was tough. … Read the rest
Salespeople love to complain about buyers. One of the complaints salespeople share the most is that buyers never seem to make up their mind. Just about the time it looks like they’re going to make a buying decision, they suddenly hold off.
Yes, there are times when a buyer legitimately can’t make a decision. Many times, though, the delay is nothing more than a tactic on the part of the buyer to get a better deal. This is especially true of professional buyers, who see numerous salespeople on a regular basis. Why should anyone make a decision quickly if they … Read the rest
Selling a price increase can be difficult in nearly any type of situation, but trying to sell one in a soft market can be downright brutal. Yet, as unpleasant as it can be, it is often essential.
The problem of selling a price increase in a soft market usually stems from the fact that the salesperson and the customer are coming at the situation from different perspectives. Especially in times like this, it is imperative for the salesperson to understand that regardless of what the market or economy is doing, if a price increase needs to be sold, it needs … Read the rest
Recently I spoke at a large conference on the subject of how to maintain your price and avoid discounting. After the presentation, a business person approached me and asked what my strategy would be if his company needed to discount price to create cash flow. This is not an easy question to answer.
Sure, I could easily throw out a response that implies that the reason a company has to discount is that it hasn’t done a good enough job of building its pipeline or hasn’t invested enough in the right type of marketing. I know, though, that this isn’t … Read the rest
My mom always used to tell me how we learn more in life from our failures than we do from our successes, yet for too many of us in sales, this concept doesn’t seem to sink in.
I’ve lost plenty of sales in my life. If I wanted to get really down on myself, all I’d have to do is take a piece of paper and start writing down as many as I could remember. If I wanted to go into a complete state of despair, all I’d have to do is to write down next to each sale I … Read the rest
We all have at least one — a customer with whom we just don’t like working. Before you get too excited thinking I’mgoing to say it’s okay to fire any customer — regardless of the reason — guess again.
What I am talking about are customers we don’t like because after we do everything we do for them, we simply are not making any money from them. Not making any money off of a customer goes beyond your commission or bonus. It’s the bottom-line profit your company is not making because of the customer. No salesperson is going to intentionally … Read the rest
So you now own an iPad or other type of tablet and you’re wondering if you should use it on a sales call.
Here are some quick rules to consider:
Don’t use it just because you have one.
Who really cares? Just because you own the newest electronic gadget doesn’t mean the customer you’re seeing doesn’t own one too — or worse yet, despises people who do own them. It only makes sense to use one on a sales call if you have a purpose for using it.
Do use it if it simplifies your sales call.
Using an iPad … Read the rest
Social media has blown onto the scene the last couple of years with the popular websites of Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and many others. Nobody can tell for sure what social media will look like five years from now, but what everyone can agree upon is that the concept of using the Internet to socially communicate is not going away.
For salespeople, an important question is: “Can social media help in negotiating?”
My answer is, “Yes, it can.” I’m not saying you should directly negotiate with another person by way of a social media (although I suppose there might be exceptions … Read the rest
Every customer has a price range where they are willing to make a decision without any further thinking. I refer to this as the Price Tolerance Ratio — also known as the PTR.
Knowing your customer’s PTR is critical. I believe it is one of the major obstacles salespeople fail to comprehend. As a salesperson, when you don’t understand a customer’s PTR, at least one of the following results is inevitable:
• You offer a price that does not maximize the profit potential.
• You get the order but encounter resistance from the customer that hinders the relationship.
• … Read the rest
Want a quick way to destroy sales motivation and profit at the same time? Picture yourself as a sales manager who suddenly receives a phone call from a salesperson who is on the verge of closing a sale. Here’s a sample of that typical conversation:
Salesperson: “We have to cut our price to get the first order. Then, once they see what we can do for them, we will be able to raise our prices. I’m sure once they see how good our service is, I’ll be able to convince them to pay the regular price.”
Hmmm. Really? I’ll let
… Read the rest
Have you ever really considered how price affects your customer with regard to their perceived benefit? Too often, we use a simplistic approach to determining a price — figure the cost to produce a product or service, tack on some arbitrary percentage, and call it good, right?
Price, though, is consequential in ways we may not initially consider. The price a person pays for something goes a long way in determining the perceived benefit they expect to get from it. The perceived benefit cuts two ways. First, the expectation of service goes up the more a person pays for … Read the rest
“We’re forced to close because the bank will not lend us the money we need.” Phrases like this have been heard too many times the last several years, and yes, it’s unfortunate, but here’s my perspective: “Companies don’t fail due to a lack of financial capital. They fail due to a lack of intellectual capital.”
Let me put it in even simpler terms: Companies fail because people don’t think. It’s always easier to blame someone else for our problems. It’s what most people do, and besides, we all believe we’re brilliant. Any setback could not possibly be associated with us; … Read the rest
It’s easy to view purchasing departments as evil. The number of salespeople who have told me stories about how much they can’t stand working with purchasing departments is huge! I’ve heard every reason “why” salespeople don’t like working with purchasing departments, but let’s cut to the chase.
When a salesperson does nothing more than bash a purchasing department, the only thing they’re doing is chipping away at their own personal motivation and credibility. Talking negatively or thinking negatively isn’t going to help the situation one bit. It’s more important to view the purchasing department as an asset to their company, … Read the rest