Tuesday, March 14, 2017

5 Constituents of Every Successful Sales Conversation

5 Constituents of Every Successful Sales Conversation
Sales is the heart of a business and a determinant of a company’s profitability. This is the reason why companies send their sales staff on multiple training programs to help them learn the tips and tricks of the game. Likewise, here are five components of every successful sales conversation that will let you know what it takes to be a force to be reckoned with.

Clear Two-Way Communication


All parties in a communication have two roles; being the speaker as well as the listener. So, in order to present a logical and relevant solution that will be accepted by your prospective client, you first need to listen to the problems and the requirements of that client.

Jumping right in and presenting them with a solution may result in a flawed problem identification process and as a result, an incorrect judgment and solution proposal which might be the opposite of what the client was looking for.

Asking Open-Ended Questions


Qualitative reasoning is what sales reps should aim for through the questions they ask prospective clients. Why? This is because it does not bind the respondents to a simple “Yes or No” answer. Instead, it allows them to answer the question in more subjective terms.

Instead of asking, “Is the product/service working fine?” you could ask, “What issues are you facing regarding the product/service?” This will give you a clear insight into the thought process of the individual, allowing you to clearly identify the problem and present a relevant solution.

Customizing the Solution to Cater to their Need


Solution selling training 101; another reason why you should ask open ended questions is because not every client you come across will have the same problems and the same solutions to solve them; that is what makes every situation unique.

Successful sales reps do not present a generic solution to all the problems people might be dealing with. They extensively question people to get an in-depth understanding of a problem after which, they fit in their product in the solution, giving the client no option other than to accept their well-thought of proposal.

Honesty is the Best Policy


If this might not have been bought up in any solution selling training session you were a part of, let us tell you that this can actually make or break your career in the sales industry. Seriously! Nobody likes a person who lies to get what they want.

Many a times, the solution you are offering might not be what the other person is looking for. Instead of forcing the other person to avail it at the expense of communicating incorrect information and making false promises, you should be honest and admit that it might not be in their best interest to choose you. Always remember that in order to cover up a lie, you will have to come up with another lie; it’s an endless cycle! Also, nothing is worse than the client finding out that you lied to them. It could cost you your job as well as your reputation.

Affirmation


To show your prospective client that you have been listening to what they have been saying and to make sure that both of you are on the same page, show your affirmation either in the form of visual cues, such as nodding in approval, or by verbally voicing it, such as “ok” or “got it”.

Additionally, use it in combination with questions as a means to recap whatever the client has said. At times, there is a lot that has been said and on some occasions, even the best listeners and note makers may miss out on or incorrectly note down what was said. This can help you clearly identify the problems and requirements of clients and to present a solution based on this information.

Top 3 Mistakes Sales People Make When Engaging With Prospects

Top 3 Mistakes Sales People Make When Engaging With Prospects
Making a sale is not the easiest task in the world. A lot of hard work and thought goes into making a single sale, right from the moment sales representatives shortlist a list of prospective clients up to the moment when they have verbal or written approval by the customers that they are on board.

However, in the rush to close numerous deals and to meet their quarterly sales targets, many salespeople make some poor and hasty decisions which cost them a sale or worst, their job. To help you avoid those mistakes, we are listing three of the most common mistakes people make when approaching prospective clients which need to be avoided, as highlighted in numerous solution selling training sessions.

Don’t be like a Broken Record


This is the first and most common mistake made by almost every other sales representative. What most people fail to understand is that making a sale depends more on listening to what prospective clients have to say rather than indulging in one-way conversation where the majority or the talking is done by them.

Listen to what the other person has to say. Letting them communicate the problems faced by them and what their requirements are helps build trust and re-assures them that their problem will be dealt with in the best possible manner.

It will also help you in knowing the situation better, helping you come up with a solution that will most likely be welcomed by them and ultimately, will allow you to close the deal.

Not Researching the Client


Yet another unwanted characteristic which many salespeople are guilty of possessing. Sales personnel should realize that every prospective client they come across might not necessarily have the same set of requirements and may not be facing the same set of problems.

Thus, it is better to conduct a bit of research to study the nature and complexity of what is bothering your prospective client and to come up with ways in which you could attract business from that client.

This will give you a clearer idea of how to approach them and which features/benefits to sell your product/service on. Moreover, the prospective client will also be impressed by the fact that you have done your homework on them, serving as a sign of your commitment and determination.

Overselling


As you might have learnt in any solution selling training session, this is a complete no-no in the world of sales. Most sales personnel tend to glorify the product/service they are selling to the extent that they even end up lying to them in order to close the sale.

For those who have treaded on this path know all too well what this can result in; for starters, it could damage your as well as your product’s/service’s credibility and reputation in the market.

This is not something you should do if you want to build a long-term relationship with your clients. Creating a false image of a product/service in the eyes of the consumer can form a negative association with the brand. 

It can also make the users expect more out of a product/service, something which cannot be delivered and can decrease the satisfaction derived from the usage.

Monday, October 31, 2016

How to Use Solution Selling to Move from Vendor to Advisor

2 cartoon businessmen sharing ideas with light bulbs over their heads

Solution selling training teaches you how to build valued, long-term relationships with clients where you help your clients to become successful. It helps you act in a more consultative way as you align with your customer’s buying process and business goals. Your ideas and proposed solutions are shared in a way that highlights your value to the client not simply as a vendor but in the much more important role as trusted advisor.

For those of you who have not had the benefit of a proven solution selling training program, here is a quick digest of what you need to do to become that advisor your clients rely upon for information, advice, insights and, ultimately, solutions that address their most critical problems.

Trustworthy solution sellers and business advisors know how to:
  • Demonstrate their unwavering commitment to their customer’s success
    They know how to show that they have the knowledge and experience to address their clients’ concerns. They are not self-serving but are genuinely interested in their clients’ challenges. They know how to ask the right questions and listen to the answers with understanding. They do not push products, features and benefits.  They design specific solutions to help with their clients’ most pressing priorities.

  • Act professionally
    They are on time, appropriately dressed, confident and respectful. And they are always fully prepared for a meeting so no time is wasted.

  • Be true
    Trusted advisors and effective solution sellers are authentic. Whatever their true personality, they do not pretend to be other than who they are.

  • Are forthright and honest
    Solution sellers must be willing to disagree with their customers when they see failure ahead. You may lose the current deal but you will gain the respect of your client and perhaps earn a referral and/or the right to address their next opportunity.

  • Establish rapport
    True solution sales people communicate effectively and naturally. The goal is to establish common ground with clients upon which a working relationship can be solidly built.

  • Develop trust
    When you are accountable for your actions and always keep your word, trust is built. It happens over time with your consistent delivery on commitments. It is the basic building block of all strong interpersonal relationships.

As you prove yourself knowledgeable, experienced, caring and reliable, you will achieve the higher and more respected role of advisor in your customer’s eyes…a much more enviable role than that of a mere vendor.

Download Solution Selling Toolkit for Leaders Now

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sales Coaching + Solution Selling Training = Success

a cartoon man is walking from one mountain top to another with the help of a coach

Coaching in any arena is an interactive process. Whether on the athletic field or on a corporate sales team, it occurs person-to-person and its objective is to provide perspective and improve performance. The focus is not necessarily only on outcomes; coaching more appropriately focuses on the behaviors and strategies that, in the final analysis, get the desired results.

Here are some best practices for sales coaches who work as a follow-on to customized solution selling training programs:
  1. Set up a sales coaching scheduleRegular, frequent, structured meetings are the most effective long-term. With an agreed-upon agenda and a standard meeting time, both the coach and coachee are increasingly committed to the relationship and the specific goals and objectives they have set. The process becomes so embedded in the learner’s weekly program that behavior change is just part of their plan and expectation.

  2. Select (and/or train) the right sales coachesCoaching well requires special solution selling skills. Coaches need to genuinely care about the success of the person they are assigned, know how to give feedback in a constructive way, fully understand the consultative sales process and be experts in sales performance management. The better your sales coaches, the better the sales results. If you don’t have good sales coaches internally, look outside the company for sales coaching experts who know how to do it right.

  3. Provide multiple sales and leadership toolsFace-to-face meetings or side-by-side sessions in the field may be the best venues for sales coaching, but they may not always be possible. When a sales coach must work virtually, try to provide them with a variety of delivery methods. How about simulations that are designed to teach specific skills like negotiating or presenting effectively? There is an element of competition in simulations that increases engagement. Another method is to conduct meetings by webcam. The interpersonal connection is more powerful than meetings by phone.

Sales coaching is the perfect answer to your desire to continue the learning beyond the solution selling training program. Sales coaches can encourage the value selling skills you know breed success and see that those sales skills are practiced correctly on the job. 


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

5 Steps to Get More Sales Referrals than Your Peers

a graphic depicts a circle of people connected in a referral network

As solution selling salespeople, we know that referrals from clients, friends, partners and peers are one of the best ways to grow a business. So why aren’t salespeople better at obtaining them?

One of the most valuable pieces in our solution selling training program has to do with getting referrals. Every sales training expert will tell you that referrals can significantly boost your revenue but few tell you how to ask effectively. Here is the process we recommend:
  1. Do differentiated work.
    Sales referrals are earned.  And the first step in earning a referral is doing great work and having great solutions.  The second step is using your solution selling training skills to build trusting relationships based upon your competence and character as a sales professional.

  2. Ask the right people.
    Just as you would be reluctant to ask a brand new acquaintance for a favor, so should you be uneasy about asking a target client for a referral until you have proven yourself enough. How have you helped your client succeed? Have you had a chance to show that you have both the character and competence to earn their trust?  It does not have to have been a huge contract or a long length of time. You may simply have provided value with special insight or expertise that helped them look at their problem in a new way. The more delighted the customer, the warmer the referral.

  3. Make your request specific.
    Some people resist giving a referral because sales people ask in a way that creates too much additional work and time. Make it easy for people to provide you with referrals by telling them exactly who you would like to speak with. 

    Be specific about your sweet spot client in terms of title, responsibility, and industry – even company name and specific person if possible. You might say something like, “I’m so glad our solution made a really positive impact on your sales growth. 80% of our business comes through referrals from clients just like you.  What high tech sales leaders do you know who would like to improve sales performance?”

  4. Ask for an email or phone call introduction.
    Though your referral source may not always provide this, it certainly helps to break down the door. If you need to introduce yourself using their name, craft a succinct email or voicemail message that asks only for a brief call to explore possible opportunities to work together.

  5. Circle back.
    Keep your referral source informed as to your progress. And, if the referral ends up with a sale, a handwritten thank you note or small gift would be in order.
Too many salespeople resist asking for referrals or ask ineffectively. But they shouldn’t. Most clients are happy to help salespeople who provide consistent and measurable value.  It is far easier than most salespeople think as long as you do it right. Go in with the attitude that you have something of real value to share. Then it’s not so much asking for a favor than spreading the word of a good deal.




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How to Improve Your Weekly Sales Meetings and Why

The words "Time to Improve" are printed on a blackboard

At almost every solution selling training workshop we hear sales reps complain about internal sales meetings.

We’d be surprised if you have not heard the same complaints from the sales team that the weekly meetings are a waste of time.  Shame on sales leaders. It is time to improve. If you are going to take your team off the streets on a weekly basis, make sure you make their attendance worthwhile.

Maybe it’s time to get back to square one and remember why you scheduled these sales meetings in the first place. In general, the purpose of sales meetings should be to help your salesforce to succeed through some combination of:

  • Clarifying, monitoring and adjusting sales strategies and sales plans
  • Modeling and rewarding behaviors that align with your desired sales culture
  • Building relationships
  • Celebrating successes and brainstorming challenges
  • Working together to solve problems
  • Sharing market knowledge, expertise and best practices
  • Reinforcing key sales skills learned in solution selling training
  • Discussing what is happening at the corporate level

With the purpose in mind, think about how to keep a tight agenda that provides real value. Sales meetings should instruct, inform and inspire. 

  1. Instruct
    Focus on a specific solution selling skill or step in your sales methodology that needs fine tuning. Your primary responsibility as a sales manager is to improve the performance of your team. Improvement requires the opportunity to learn and grow. What is it that is holding them back? Perhaps they need more work on overcoming objections or presenting more effectively. Make sure you equip your team with what they need to succeed.

  2. Inform
    Every sales team member should be very clear about what they are expected to do and how their success will be measured and rewarded. Check in each week for a quick measure of where the team stands in relation to your top 2-3 sales targets. Work together to figure out what buttons need to be pushed to succeed.

  3. Inspire
    As a sales leader, you need to inspire your sales team. Your confidence in them, your support, your readiness to provide sales performance coaching, and your upbeat attitude will set an example for them to follow. And, don’t forget to have fun. Sales team meetings should help forge the bonds that tie a high performing sales team together. Enjoying and respecting one another is a prime motivator for putting in the extra discretionary effort and committing to common goals.

With the purpose and content back in the forefront as you plan each sales meeting, don’t forget the basics of good sales meetings management. You need an agenda, a strict start and stop, and a facilitator who can keep you on task while encouraging open communication.

Now let’s see what your sales team says about your next sales team meeting! 



Sunday, July 31, 2016

3 Smart Ways Top Performers Close In On Sales Targets

A cartoon of a signed contract with 3 main points checked

If you are a sales leader, you no doubt spend a good deal of time worrying about reaching your sales targets for the month, the quarter and the year. It is often a constant source of tension for sales managers and sales teams.

Sales managers through their team are held accountable for attaining their revenue targets. They become successes or failures each and every quarter and then the sales cycle begins all over again…the cycle of trying to meet and exceed sales expectations. Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend less time agonizing over making quota and more time encouraging your sales team across the finish line?

Here are three ways you can improve your sales outcomes and rest easier at night:


  1. Make clear what your sales team should be doing to succeed.
    Do you know what critical few behaviors and activities drive sales success in your marketplace? Do you know the top 5-10 sales scenarios that matter most?  If not, you absolutely should. You and your sales team should know explicitly what drives success for you and your target customers.

    First establish a profile of sales success by analyzing what your top performers do that works. Then see that the rest of the team is trained to follow a proven sales methodology and incentivized to practice those critical few behaviors. Unless you are selling a simple commodity, your team should receive customized solution selling training so they know how to solve real customer problems. Complex sales require business savvy, great communication skills and the ability to persuade customers that the solutions you sell are exactly what they need to succeed.

    When your sales team has the solution selling skills combined with the understanding of what activities make the most sense for your specific sales strategy and culture, you will see improved results.

  2. Know what you need to do to enable your sales team members.
    How should you best spend your time to see that your sales team is successful? It may be to coach them on-the-spot toward those customer-centric behaviors you know work. Or it may be that you need to re-vamp the sales compensation system to reward the activities that foster success. Or perhaps you should review the sales territory maps for more efficient use of your team’s time. Figure it out.

  3. Measure and track.
    How else will you know if you are making a difference? As the sales team adjusts to applying new solution selling skills and behaviors and as you adjust to how you spend your time enabling the success of your sales team, gather the data that will tell you if you are moving in the right direction.