Sales Tip No. 29 - Who are you really competing against?

We frequently hear sales people saying "there's no competition on this deal".  When we dig deeper we find that there is competition after all, but not from where they think.  The "competition" is coming in the form of 1) lethargy, the easiest decision is no decision, do nothing or 2) competition for use of the funds earmarked for your deal - not a directly competing product, service of solution.
Lethargy is always a challenge - remind the prospect of why you are there in the first place - the need has not gone away, spell out the business drivers and compelling event that you are addressing and re-present your value / ROI case - proving how they can't afford to do nothing .
Competing for use of the funds - that's a bit trickier. In most organizations there is always someone with the power (the influence and/or the authority) to find budget where other people can't. The consequence?  If you have not made a strong case, if you don't have an ally or champion fighting for you, then you are exposed to the risk of having your budget stolen by that someone.
Make sure you have a good value based proposal with a strong ROI case with the prospect, coach your ally / champion on making your case on your behalf.  Ensure the budget owner is on your side and he/she wants to buy as much you want to sell and they will, as a result, be willing and able to defend their budget.

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips. Tagged as competition, Competitive Advantage, Power Base Selling, sales skills, the fox.

Sales Tip No. 28 - New Year Rapport Building

New year, new accounts, new opportunities for many sales people and account managers. Then, as we enter 2017 many markets seem to be heating up and so some sales people start to get a little complacent, some even aggressive (thinking they are being assertive!).  Even in an up-market taking time to build rapport is still important, so here are 5 reminders for building rapport:
1.     Be empathetic - put yourself in the customer's shoes.
2.     Use good listening skills - ask open questions, prove you are listening with active listening techniques.
3.     Be assertive not aggressive - if you are "challenging" the customer be careful how you do it.
4.     If you say you'll do it, do it - promises are easy to make and even easier to break.
5.     Talk at the customers level - you are there to understand the customer's needs and explain what you do, not show off what you know.
If you want more detailed information about rapport and empathy email me and I'll send you a white paper.

Rapport - make it happen, don't wait for it to happen!

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips. Tagged as Assertiveness, Challenger sale, Rapport, sales tips.

Sales Tip No. 26 Negotiation - are you really in a position to negotiate?

The current presidential election campaign in the US has me talking to quite a few clients and participants about negotiation skills.  As one candidate claims to be such a good negotiator it has become a hot topic!
In any real negotiation there has to be two conditions in play.  Both parties must have the will to vary the terms and both parties must have the authority to vary the terms.  So here is the challenge in many negotiations - unless you have true executive authority in your organization, the ability to really vary the terms may not be yours - no matter how willing you are to vary them!
This means preparing and planning for your negotiation.  You need to work out before you go into any negotiation three factors.  1) your "walk terms" (your last resort terms, the lowest $ amount for example, that if you don't get you will [have to] walk away.  2) your "like terms" (this is what you ideally would like to get and this would be a very good deal for you.  3) your "accept terms" (this is what you would accept and although maybe not what you would ideally like, is still an acceptable deal for you).
Of course you have to be at the right stage in the sale too.   Most sales people start [trying] to negotiate too early - see my earlier blog / Sales tip no. 6 "are you negotiating too early?"

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips. Tagged as closing the deal, negotiate, negotiation skills, preparation and planning.

Sales Tip No. 25 - Cold calling, no names policy?

Are you cold calling (yes many people still do it) or following up on leads or cleaning lists - but can't get hold of the right contact, especially when the target company has a "no names policy" on the switchboard?
Try this - it sounds counter productive but its not.  Do the research call and the sales call as two separate calls.
Call the target company's switchboard - in a  very friendly non threatening tone say "I wonder if you can help me, please do not put me through to any one, I do not want to talk to anyone.  I am sending an invite to a seminar to your [job title / description], who would that be please?".  Get the details, get off the phone, wait a couple of days and then call them (using your get past the gatekeeper techniques).  
If you want a white paper on calling for appointments, getting past gatekeepers - email me.

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips.

Sales tip no. 24 - No pain? Sell the gain!

Interesting situation with a sales team I am coaching at the moment.  They have been taught to find the technical, business and personal pain - exactly the right thing to do.  Recently on a particular campaign they were finding the people they were approaching had "no pain".

When we dug down into what their solution actually did we found they delivered benefits that could be "of gain" - not just "address a pain".  So when their prospects were saying everything is great we don't have any problems our client was able to put forward arguments to make them "even more productive", "even more efficient", "free up even more staff".

Sounds obvious but with careful positioning and good questioning skills "the pain" became not taking advantage of "the gain".

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips. Tagged as addressing the pain, business gain, business pain, compete selling, no pain, relationship selling, solution selling.

Sales tip No. 23 - Winning over the decision influencers

Getting the "Go To" people on your side

When the decision maker does not understand something they are buying who do they ask?  Their "Go To" people - the decision influencers.  Typically we do not spend enough time seeking out these particular decision influencers, we are too busy trying to sell the decision maker something he or she does not understand!
We need to spend more time finding the "Go To" people and then getting them on our side. Ronald Reagan once [allegedly] said "there is no limit to how successful you can be if you are prepared to let someone else take the credit".
You need to find the "Go To" people who can take the credit for finding your solution and the business benefits you deliver. They get kudos from taking it to the decision maker, you get the order Read more

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips. Tagged as decision influencers, Go to people, sales tips.

No 21. Build rapport - don't pitch to early

BIG, BIG debate on LinkedIn prompted this one!  It is very easy to pitch products and services too early - before we have sufficient information or have built any real rapport.  How do you avoid this trap?  Use this structure - get the prospect talking about 1) themselves, 2) their organization, 3) their present application / useage, 4) their technology / method.  Dont forget - use open questions HOW WHAT WHY WHERE WHEN WHO. Make it a conversation not an interrogation.

Whatever you are selling this works but if you want a variation on this technique for selling professional services, consultancy, legal services or accountancy, rather than products, email me

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Posted in Weekly Sales Tips.

No. 20 - have you found the budget?

We all know about prospect qualification - Need, Timescales, BUDGET, Decision Maker - but we get fooled into thinking we have all four boxes ticked.  We think we are dealing with the "budget holder" when in reality we are dealing with the "budget caretaker".  Let's take the example of Purchasing Managers, unless they are buying something for the purchasing department, they are not the budget holder - they are spending someone else's money, they are the budget caretaker.  So ask yourself, "have I found the budget holder?" - and make sure you get to see them too.  Could be your prospect is not qualified after all.

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Posted in Weekly Sales Tips.

No. 19 – Partnership pitch

How often do you hear "we want a partnership not just a supplier customer relationship".  This is frequently code for "we want a discount"?  When the customer says the magic word "partnership" ask them what they mean, then tell them what you mean!  In partnerships both parties share rewards, risks, accountability and philosophy.  Develop a short pitch about what you mean by a partnership and watch your relationship move away from price to value.  For ideas developing your "partnership pitch" see my blog.

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Posted in Weekly Sales Tips.

No. 18 – Year end closing plan


Many sales and business development people are looking at how they are going to finish the year and bring in their outstanding deals to hit quota  so here is a closing checklist to help you. 1) Are you really dealing with ALL the decision makers?  2) Is your proposition a "nice to have" or a "necessity"  what urgency to buy have you created? 3) Have you submitted a quote or proposal? 4) Does your proposal show hard cash savings or revenue gains  with a real ROI agreed with the prospect? 5) What risks do you have to minimize to avoid a no go decision?  5)What else could "your" budget be spent on instead of your solution or service  how will you counter this?

Don't fool yourself, if there is the slightest doubt go back get this information. Make a list of what you need to do to close the deal, with dates, and have a formal closing plan.

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Posted in Weekly Sales Tips.

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