Selling to Value: The Art and Science of Discovery

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Pat was not happy as she left the meeting with a long-term customer, or should I say, former customer.

“Pat, we have done business together for a long time,” her customer started, “but we have decided to go in a different direction this time.” The customer went on to say how ABC Company, one of Pat’s biggest competitors, worked with them to integrate ABC’s solution into the customer’s systems, resulting in faster inventory turns with fewer shipping errors, and they were able to demonstrate how this will increase margins and profit for the customer.

The ABC Company’s salesperson sold value.Read the rest

Master Versatility to Drive Sales Results

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Applying social styles to gain access, increase close rates, and protect your customer base.

Have you ever experienced any of the following?

  • A salesperson returns from an important client call with no new information or insight into the customer’s need or problem.
  • You have a surprising sales loss at the proposal stage because of an undisclosed need or concern.
  • A customer cut a meeting short or doesn’t return the salesperson’s calls.
  • A salesperson uses an approach with one customer to great success, but the same approach with another customer causes them to become impatient and tense.

The common factor among … Read the rest

The ABCs of Sales Coaching

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In today’s sales’ environment — where product and service solutions and customer relationships are growing more complex — there is an increasing need to continually raise the skill level of salespeople. Managers play a critical role in making sure those skills are learned and used.

Statistics speak loudly that manager support/coaching is the number-one action that can amplify an organization’s sales performance:

  • Organizations can gain a 29 percent increase in top-line salesforce performance as a result of the skills of sales managers, independent of the skills of their salespeople.
  • Manager coaching has a great impact on performance over and above
  • Read the rest

Earning the Status of Trusted Advisor Key Principles You Need to Know

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While it is all well and good — even honorable, really, to associate selling success with being a trusted advisor, what does it take to earn that status with customers in today’s buying environment?

Research by CSO Insights, the Aberdeen Group, and others has shown that just telling salespeople to be trusted advisors has not worked: win rates have fallen, no-decision rates have grown. Customer behaviors seem to be saying that they don’t trust salespeople’s intent, and don’t see them as a credible advisor.

To address this concern, let’s explore key principles that point the way to becoming a trusted … Read the rest

Improving Sales Through Eight Critical Networking Skills

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Growing revenue is critical to all organizations. Yet finding new markets, new buying points, or new needs in existing clients is increasingly difficult. That is why organizations desperately need all employees, not just salespeople, to be able to effectively uncover new opportunities.

But it is not that easy.

  • A U.S. engineering firm, thinking that a financial incentive would generate new business, began offering its consulting engineers a bonus for uncovering new business from the clients they service. However, after a year, of their 35 engineers, only three had found new business opportunities.
  • Research at the Stanford Shyness Institute suggests that
  • Read the rest

Aligning the Selling and Buying Processes

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Who’s in charge of the sales process? Today, it’s the customer. But six key steps in the emerging sales process help salespeople get a strong foothold in today’s buy-sell relationship and build better long-term relationships.

If you think your salespeople can control the way buyers buy — think again. The old adage that “people love to buy, but hate to be sold” has changed to “people know how to buy, and won’t be sold to.” But, that doesn’t mean it’s time to fire your sales force. With a little insight into today’s buying process, salespeople can understand how customers buy … Read the rest

Don’t be Blindsided by the Competition

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Know What the Customer Really Values

A sales rep had a long-term relationship with the head of an in‑house printing group, and he expected to get the business when the company decided to outsource its printing services. The rep was shocked to find out the deal went to a competitor. His contact told him the other company offered a “better value.” The sales rep thought he knew the customer, but now he wondered, “What did the other guy know that I didn’t?”

The sales rep in this example was sure he knew what the printing manager was looking for — … Read the rest

Competitive Strategy Influencing the Decision to Win the Sale

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How does a done deal come undone? Your rep had a good relationship with a great contact, the right solution to meet the customer’s needs, and strong buying signals right up to the last. Then came the dreaded call: “Thank you for the proposal, but we’ve decided to go with someone else.” So, what happened? Could this loss have been prevented?

In our experience of looking at thousands of win-loss reviews and talking to salespeople and sales managers, in many cases the salesperson did not have a full picture of how the decision was being made, who was influencing the … Read the rest

Differentiation Through Enhancing the Value

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A recent conversation with a VP of sales highlighted the frustrations of many sales professionals in this weak economy. “How do we gain the attention of customers when they are being flooded with calls from so many sales reps?” he asked.
“How do we differentiate ourselves enough that they want to talk to us and not feel they are getting the same story they hear from every other company?”

These are good questions in a market where customers have smaller budgets and less time available to talk with suppliers. More companies are turning to RFPs as a way to limit … Read the rest

Strategies for Retaining Your Most Profitable Accounts

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Sellers as well as buyers are taking stock of priorities as the economy continues to show weakness across most industries. As a result, most sales organizations are pursuing new business — which often means taking advantage of competitors’ complacency or mistakes in providing service to customers. In the face of relentless competitive pressure, sales leaders are looking for smart answers to an urgent question: How can we protect our customer base from erosion as competition intensifies?

While there are a variety of potential answers to this question, most fail to get to the crux of the problem: a lack of

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Can Your Managers Answer These Critical Questions?

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Would you ask the best violinist in the orchestra to take over conducting without any preparation to be a conductor? Probably not. And if you did, you wouldn’t have very high expectations for the orchestra’s performance. Yet this is exactly what most organizations do. They promote high-performing salespeople into management roles without preparing them to be confident and competent in the critical areas of coaching, motivating, and developing their people.

It’s not that companies don’t recognize the value of the manager’s role. When a group of sales executives was asked what was most important to improving sales performance, 88 percent … Read the rest

Don’t Leave Good Business on the Table: Five Strategies To Negotiate Win-Win Deals

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“Your price is too high.”
“Can you match the price your competitor is offering?”
“We need to have that service included in your price.”

How do your salespeople respond when they hear these kinds of statements from customers? Everyone wants to make the sale in this challenging economy, and it’s hard to resist the temptation to cut the margin, reduce the price, or give away “value adds” the customer really should pay for. Of course, everyone is being squeezed. Customers are pressured to control costs and limit spending, and salespeople feel they are forced to compete on price. It seems … Read the rest

Sales Versatility: Connecting With Customers Every Time

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When it comes to sales, the most important thing is the customer. By improving your salestream’s adaptability to different customers and situations, you can increase your sales noticeably.

As a sales leader, you probably debrief sales calls, review sales campaigns, analyze prospecting activity, and ride along on certain customer calls to observe or assist. No doubt you have noticed that each salesperson has some customers and prospects that they easily connect with, and others that they don’t. And you might have seen cases where the same approach that succeeded with one prospect or customer caused another to become impatient and … Read the rest