How Sellers Can Benefit from Social Selling

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By Miller Heiman Group | Sales Enablement

iStock-1059661514-576x382Conditioned by their experiences as consumers in receiving personalized and seamless experiences from brands, today’s B2B buyers expect sellers to provide a similar experience throughout the buying cycle. Sellers must understand the entire customer path and develop experiences that place customers at the center. As buyers wait longer to engage sellers and as adoption of digital platforms evolves, many 1:1 conversations take place outside of traditional channels like email, leading to the rise of social selling.

Social selling is the process of researching, connecting and interacting with prospects and customers on social media channels like LinkedIn or Twitter. CSO Insights found that companies with social selling adoption rates between 76% and 90% have 61.5% higher win rates than those with lower adoption rates.

This is just one reason why the modern seller needs to understand how buyer behaviors have changed and must adapt their approach to engage buyers where they want to be engaged. In this digital-first world, forging relationships with buyers online has become an important ingredient for both connecting and providing value during the sales process.

Social selling allows sellers to leverage their networks to engage prospects and build relationships to achieve their sales goals. Organizations should implement a social selling strategy to establish credibility and earn the right to connect with buyers.

Social selling is not “selling” or a digital version of cold calling. It’s the process of leveraging social networks to find, engage and connect with prospects to start conversations, build relationships and establish a personal brand to develop credibility.

LinkedIn is widely recognized as the best-suited network for sellers in the B2B space as 62% of decision-makers visit a seller’s LinkedIn profile to determine whether that seller has the credentials to deliver solutions that solve their pain points. Here are three key elements for implementing social selling techniques with your team.

1. Start with Your LinkedIn Profile

Facebook and Twitter can also be used for social selling, but for reasons we outlined earlier, sellers often find the most success with LinkedIn. B2B buyers are selective about vendors they engage with, and so your LinkedIn profile should be complete and used as an extension to your professional brand. LinkedIn is often viewed as a recruitment tool, but it’s much more than that. It’s a personal selling platform that allows professionals to connect with decision makers. Having a compelling professional profile is critical to social selling success on LinkedIn. Sellers should use a professional headshot and keep their ideal customer in mind when filling in information.

For an effective profile that establishes credibility, sellers must address how their solutions solve the buyer’s pain points. Every sellers’ profile should answer three questions:

  1. What problem do you solve?
  2. How do you solve it?
  3. How have you helped your customers in the past?

More importantly, as your team adopts social selling techniques such as sharing content and connecting with prospects, your sellers will receive more visits to their profiles. Seventy-seven percent of decision-makers want to buy from people who demonstrate an understanding of their business problems and expertise in solving them. If sellers’ profiles lack clearly defined expertise that addresses the buyer’s pain points, they lose an opportunity to engage in a sales conversation with a prospect.

2. Engage Your Prospects

Social selling isn’t about engaging with as many people as possible. Instead it’s about strategically targeting prospects that sellers seek to engage at an organization. Buyers are inundated with unsolicited sales emails and connection requests. Messaging to them must be clear, concise and of value.

As a result, your rep’s strategy to engage the buyer should not be limited to performing a search and sending a connection request without any context or engagement. The last thing your rep’s prospects want is another connection that immediately starts selling them. Sellers should look for opportunities to establish credibility in a prospect’s industry or area of responsibility, then make the connection request.

3. Connect with Your Buyers

One technique to effectively engage with prospects is what’s called social surrounding, where sellers connect with their prospects’ peers, direct reports and even those above them on the org chart. At this stage, sellers can provide value to the prospect’s sphere of influence while learning about their priorities. Once sellers acquire enough insights, they can leverage these connections for an introduction to the buying influence of their choice. Building rapport with a prospect via connections is an important step in setting up an initial conversation.

This long-term strategy requires patience and planning, but leads to more valuable conversations with the right people at the account because the prospect is more likely to accept a meeting with a seller if someone they trust introduces them. As a result, you should consistently ask your sellers to articulate their long-term strategy for engaging with contacts around their prospect.

To connect with buyers, sellers can establish credibility by sharing relevant content on LinkedIn such as videos, blogs and downloadable reports. This allows sellers to develop their personal brand and establish themselves as experts in the space.

An effective way to engage prospects through content is by monitoring company news and sharing examples of customers that your company has served in similar situations. For instance, a seller could use a prospect’s recent acquisition as a starting point by sending a message such as, “I read about the recent acquisition. Some of my clients in the same situation struggled with integrating technology. This case study shows how we helped them resolve this challenge.” Taking this approach shows expertise, personalization and experience with similar situations, differentiating your sellers from their competition.

Drive Social Selling Success

Sales is about building relationships, establishing rapport and credibility, and providing the right solution to the right prospect at the right moments. Social selling is always evolving and is another tool that allows sales professionals to expand on existing relationships, build new ones and provide value. Are your sellers engaging with buyers early in the sales process? Discover how the Strategic Selling with Perspective teaches a proven roadmap for winning more deals.

Posted in Sales Enablement, Social Sales, Social Selling

The Winds. The Tides. The Sales Career. They All Change.

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 by Jeffrey Gitomer

Screenshot_2019-10-10 The winds The tides The sales career They all changeA career in sales means adapt to change or die. Changes occur in a sales job every minute.

On an average day a salesperson will make several cold calls, follow-up ten prospects, make three presentations, go to a networking event, send five letters or proposals, get turned down a few times and make one sale. WOW.

And when you consider the changes taking place around him while all this is happening, the word WOW takes on new reverence.

Why do so few salespeople rise to the top? Because they are unable to synergize their superior sales and personal skills with the flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing facets of sales in conjunction with company and family (read that again). A salesperson’s ability to accept and roll with the tides of change, are at the fulcrum point of his or her ability to succeed.

Here are the defined areas of “sales” change. I have added success tactics for each area to help you utilize these elements of change to your highest advantage:

Product Changes. This is the easiest change to accept. Usually it means newer and better.
Success Tactics: Immediately learn and master the changes. Determine what new competitive advantages these changes bring. Look for ways your customer will benefit from these changes and focus on them.

Policy Changes. New rules. New procedures.
Success Tactics: Don’t swim upstream. Fighting policy changes leads to employment changes. Spend as much time figuring out a way to use the new procedures to your advantage as you do griping about them.

Price Changes. The price goes up.
Success Tactics:
Stop selling price. Sell value. Sell cost over a period of time. (When they raise the price of a Mercedes $2,000 do they lose market share? No. Neither should you.)

Market Condition Changes. There’s not enough demand for your product. Now what?
Success Tactics: Fight harder to increase your customer base. Network more. Sell like it was your survival (It is.) Start an hour earlier. Stay an hour later. Utilize your time to it’s maximum. Don’t blame the conditions for your inability to get the job done.

Competition Changes. Your competitor lowers prices and talks trash about you. You find this out from your best customer who your competitor has just stolen.
Success Tactics: Find out why. Make the changes necessary to ensure that it never happens again. Then find out where your competitive advantages lie and sell from them.

Customer Changes. New buyer. New owner. Change in business stability. New growth.
Success Tactics: Determine how this change affects you. If there is a new person, become a resource to help him or her understand their new corporate culture from your perspective.

Company Changes. Sometimes it’s difficult to produce when the structure of the company, or the internal organization changes. Partner buyouts. Internal restructuring (reengineering). Changing the corporate culture you’ve become secure with.
Success Tactics: Now is the time to seek to understand and harmonize. Don’t fight it. Be proactive towards acceptance. Ask how you can help. Support the leader. Don’t grumble to anyone.

Pay Changes. When salespeople get very successful, management panics at the amount of money they make. Territories get cut, commissions get lowered, positions get rearranged. This tradition strikes fear, anger and resentment in the hearts of most salespeople.
Success Tactics: Figure out what it really means to you from a workload and a dollars and cents position. Is the change acceptable to you? Can you live with it? It may be time to look to another company or start your own.

Staff Changes. People come and go. If your friend is fired or a real jerk gets hired, it can cause a lot of stress.
Success Tactics: Look at why the change took place. Look at the last few changes. Is there a trend? Are you next? What do you need to do to get to the top?

Personal Growth Changes. Marriage. Divorce. Kids. Death. Too much debt. Desire to excel.
Success Tactics: Leave your personal problems at home. Maintain your success focus goal achievement may take a renewed effort. Listen to positive attitude tapes every second you’re in the car

Often you cannot affect the change…It effects you. Your responsibility in dealing with the changing elements of life and career is to:

  • Understand them first (no knee jerk reactions).
  • Create the attitude of acceptance.
  • View change as a challenge and learning experience.
  • Make a plan to harmonize with those things or people that affect you.
  • Speak about changes in a supportive way.
  • Focus on adaptability your ability to compromise.
  • Act on changes in a building way.
  • Maintain your positive attitude at all costs.
  • Don’t allow change to divert your focus and drive to succeed.
  • Adopt the perception that you will take advantage of change.

New is better…We buy “new” in the grocery store. It’s the second most powerful marketing word (free is first). If people crave it in the store, eat it up on TV, why do they resist it, actually fight it, on the job? Here’s why:

  • Fear of the unknown.
  • Fear of loss of existing security.
  • Poor attitude toward growth.
  • Lack of self-confidence that they can adapt.
  • Lack of desire or personal motivation to change.

Don’t get trapped…There are pitfalls to beware of. Others may not be able to take change like you can. Don’t get caught up in their crap trap.

Don’t join their pity party.
Don’t agree with their plight.
Suggest good things or solutions.
Offer a meeting to discuss and uncover opportunities.

Add one new inevitable to the original two: death and taxes. Change.
Harness it’s power and succeed. Fight it and fail.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer, @GITOMER,KING OF SALES, The author of thirteen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude.

Posted in Personal Improvement, Sales

Business Lessons from Moneyball

by Joe Nelson

Blog_Moneyball2019-300x200It’s hard to believe the calendar has turned to October. For sports fans, that puts baseball front and center because the playoffs are starting. For us as sales leaders, it means the third quarter is over and the pressure is building to make our numbers for the year. Fortunately, the world of sports can offer business lessons for those of us in sales.

If you are a sales leader, you’ve probably already identified your superstars for this year. You know who is likely to make quota and who is going to fall behind. At the same time, there may be a wild card out there who can surprise you.

From a sports perspective, anytime you think of the playoffs you know, historically, who’s going to be in there. Some of the larger market teams like the Yankees and the Dodgers will be there. At the same time, there are teams on the wild card hunt as well. It’s fitting that (as of this writing) the Oakland A’s actually are on the verge of qualifying for the playoffs. After all, few examples have impacted businesses as much as the Oakland A’s own story – what we now know of as “Moneyball.”

The movie, and the book it was based on, (Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis), showed how the Oakland A’s took advantage of rigorous statistical analysis to find better talent and compete against larger markets.

At GrowthPlay, we are about the same thing – using rigorous statistical analysis to help sales organizations find better talent and be more competitive in their markets. Here are just a few of the business lessons and connections we see between baseball statistics and sales talent analytics.

Data Beats Gut Feel Every Time

Historically, baseball managers relied a lot on gut feeling, hunches, intuition, and personal hypotheses about what made the prototypical baseball player and how to field a winning team.

In sales, we’ve learned a thing or two about hiring based on gut feeling. Rather than using interviews to get at demonstrated skills and relevant experience, many managers use interviews to “get a feel for fit.”

A study conducted by the International Personnel Management Association analyzed how well job interviews accurately predict success on the job. The surprising finding was that the typical interview increases your chances of choosing the best candidate by less than two percent. In other words, flipping a coin to choose between two candidates would be only two percent less reliable than basing your decision on an interview.

Successful scouts and sales managers know they can improve the quality of their decisions by using objective data and predictive statistics instead of gut feel.

All Stats Aren’t Equally Predictive

Back to baseball. Even when managers and scouts leveraged statistics, they focused on conventional wisdom about what mattered – things like home-runs, batting averages, and stolen bases. For pitchers, it was always wins and losses, strikeouts, and innings pitched. These “superstar stats” like home runs and strikeouts may or may not work if you are like the New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Dodgers that have the money to spend on top notch proven talent. But, if you’re in a small market like the Oakland A’s, you need another way to compete. When the A’s used more modern technologies and ran advanced analytics, they found that the stat that mattered most to them was getting on base. As a result, they were able to look for the talent they needed to even the playing field and successfully compete with some of these bigger market teams.

In sales, we sometimes see managers who also want to use analytics to improve their hiring, but who choose the wrong measure. Take personality-based assessments as an example. Tools like these might measure extra-version or how competitive one is. They seem to be relevant and an improvement over gut feel, right? In reality, personality tests show no correlation with sales success. Solid statistical research from many objective sources shows little correlation between any personality factor and any specific job.

You might enjoy knowing your sales candidates have self-confidence and energy, but to build a winning team, you need the ability to reliably predict who can develop sales leads and who can close deals. That’s why the creators of GrowthPlay’s Chally Assessment started measuring aptitude for specific sales behaviors. Many, many years ago before anybody else was doing it, we were using advanced statistics to identify what competencies truly differentiate success in specific sales roles.

Posted in Sales, Sales Leader

Five Reasons Why Consultative Selling Outperforms the Challenger Sale

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By Miller Heiman Group | Modern Learning

iStock-909931954-576x385The buyer-seller gap is real: According to the CSO Insights 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, buyers’ dwindling reliance on sellers during the early phases of the purchase process and the presence of numerous influencers and decision-makers means that sellers must take a different approach to build relationships and close more deals, realigning their selling process with the buying cycle.

For some sellers, that’s meant moving away from solution selling to a more aggressive approach, like the Challenger Sale model popularized after the 2011 book of the same name. The Challenger Sale model encourages sellers to retool their selling process, suggesting that sellers should use aggressive tactics to create friction, control the sales conversation and win more business.

While the Challenger model understands that buyers favor sellers who provide them with useful insights, it diverges markedly from solution selling—which has evolved over the years into perspective selling—a consultative selling approach that we emphasize in our training methodologies, including Strategic Selling with Perspective.

Here are five reasons that a consultative approach beats the Challenger Sale for enterprise selling.

1. The Need for Perspective
The Challenger method asserts that solution selling is dead. It describes solution selling as showing up blind to a potential customer, without having done any research, and asking them questions of little or no value along these lines: “Hi, will you tell me all of your needs while I write them down?” That approach won’t work with today’s sophisticated, well-informed buyers. But that is also an outdated depiction of solution selling.

Solution selling didn’t die; it evolved to bring buyers the value of perspective. Perspective is when sellers give their buyers new knowledge that helps them see their problem in a different light to achieve their business goals. Providing perspective builds sellers’ credibility, by differentiating themselves and their solutions and turns them from a vendor into a trusted, solution-based partner. Buyers want experiences where they feel confident that sellers understand their needs and that sellers are able to deliver value. Perspective delivers that value.

A consultative sales approach also opens doors to additional conversations early in the sales cycle. Most buyers (65%) find value in discussing their needs with sellers, and the overwhelming majority (90%) are open to talking to sellers earlier in the purchase cycle. To take advantage of these opportunities for earlier engagement, buyers must follow an insightful approach to the sales process: they need to offer perspective.

2. Selling Is Still a Mutual-Value Activity
Taking control of a relationship does not endear sellers to customers. When working with strong-willed buyers who are less reliant on sellers than ever for information, you won’t build any momentum if you try to tell them what to do or how they should make decisions.

Fifty-five percent of buyers say a seller’s ability to educate them during the sales process influenced the last large purchase decision they made. A consultative approach to sales  earns sellers the right to engage with buyers earlier and more often in the sales cycle.

Sellers must demonstrate that they’re trustworthy before buyers want to take the next step forward in a deal. In turn, the process of exchanging perspective builds credibility and trust: two essential pillars for a long-term sales relationship.

3. Relationships Last Beyond the Sale
Creating tension with a new contact by challenging their assumptions may temporarily differentiate you in a crowded field of sellers. But after you’ve made a sale, where does that leave you? How do you turn that relationship into a lasting one? All too often, you can’t. Challenger’s adversarial approach frequently leads to a single transaction—and no more.

The Challenger approach ignores a key principle of sales logic: for most businesses, about 70% of revenues come from existing customers. In fact, post-sale account expansion is where you’ll find the lion’s share of revenue opportunities. To cultivate relationships, sellers and buyers alike must engage in open, honest and regular communication—and their conversations must start long before the next opportunity begins to take shape.

In solution selling, organizations prioritize alignment between sales and customer success. Service professionals communicate with customers as much as 10 times more than sellers, which means organizations need to emphasize true collaboration between service and sales with intense focus on the customer.

When service and sales put the customer at the center of their work, customer satisfaction levels increase, which leads to deeper levels of brand loyalty and increases the likelihood of repeat business and deal growth.

4. Buyer Stereotypes Don’t Work
The Challenger selling philosophy requires a one-size-fits-all approach to sales. But a singular approach won’t work with all buyers. Not all buyers appreciate this method’s “rational drowning” approach—a strategy that makes buyers uncomfortable by bombarding them with data designed to create fear, uncertainty or doubt and thereby establish a rationale for addressing a problem or seizing a market opportunity.

Modern buyers differ in how and when they want their insights. According to the Miller Heiman Group Executive Impact program, executives exhibit five different decision-making styles, all of which consume information differently. Some want insights up front, while others don’t, depending on their decision-making style. As a result, sellers must research and communicate with a prospect to discover the best way to tailor their sales delivery to their buying influence’s preferred style. Agility is required; sellers cannot stereotype and assume all buyers value the same approach.

5. Seller Stereotypes Don’t Work Either
The Challenger seller profiles are difficult to follow for hiring and developing talent—and talent is a primary concern for organizations planning for the future, according to the CSO Insights 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study. The five profiles—Relationship Builders, Hard Workers, Problem Solvers, Lone Wolves, and Challengers—are not mutually exclusive from each other. They also don’t clarify the differences between inherent attributes—those that you cannot train—from the behaviors that you can teach.

At Miller Heiman Group, we take a data-driven approach to creating a comprehensive talent strategy. Our research shows that a successful seller profile depends on the sales organization—and it isolates the traits that allow sellers to thrive in their selling environment. The traits that differentiate between sales success and mediocrity are about the salesperson’s approach to work or their learning agility—talents and skills that must be teased out through talent assessments, compiled into a hiring profile and then developed throughout a salesperson’s career.

There Are No Shortcuts to More Sales

To win more business, you don’t need a sales gimmick or tactic. You need a proven sales methodology backed by perspective—a combination of skills, mindset and insights—that offers buyers greater value. Ready to close more deals? Get perspective.

Posted in Consultative Selling

Powerful Lessons from the Research on Sales Talent Development and Motivation

by Tasneem Khokha

Blog_TalentMotivationAt GrowthPlay, we make it our mission to help leaders of professional services firms optimize their most important resource—the talent of the professionals who serve their clients every day. By examining what research-based sales talent development has to say about motivating professionals to do their best work and unlocking their hidden potential, we can create a framework for leaders to follow as they build teams and pursue goals for overall growth. Here are three powerful lessons we’ve learned from the research:

1. We know what no longer works. Daniel Pink’s book Drive takes a clear-eyed look at the old (or, in some places, current) model of motivating people in the workplace: carrots—encouraging desired behavior through rewards like promotions, raises and accolades—and sticks—discouraging unwanted behavior through punishments like negative performance reviews and a loss of status. When Pink took a deep dive into the data, he learned that carrots and sticks are no longer an effective method for motivating people.

2. We know what does work. Pink goes on to suggest a new model for motivating people organized around three core values: autonomy, mastery, purpose. People bring more energy and commitment to work when they have some autonomy and control over how they execute tasks. And, when they feel that their work is tied to some broader purpose, whether that is a company mission or a vision for a client account, they will be more motivated to do good work. Finally, as we think about developing sales talent, mastery is perhaps the most powerful path to creating deep and sustainable motivation.

3. Analytical tools facilitate the development of mastery. Getting professionals to a place of mastery is not just about encouraging excellence in their work. It’s also about determining whether their assigned work, and the way they approach that work, is a good fit for their natural capacities and competencies. The GrowthPlay Chally Assessment, a 45-year-old talent-profiling tool that has been used on more than 750,000 people to measure skills and motivations attributed to success in high-performing organizations, helps us identify the competencies professionals possess and match them with others who have complementary skills so that everyone on the team gets better at what they do.

With a research-based framework for unlocking talent potential, firm leaders can leave behind ineffective management strategies and use what we know about sales talent development to increase motivation and fuel overall growth for the firm.

Posted in Motivation, Talent Management

29.5 Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make

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 by Jeffrey Gitomer

Screenshot_2019-09-26 29 5 biggest mistakes salespeople make (and how to cure themNot making enough sales? Want to know why? Easy, you’re making mistakes, big mistakes. The problem is that salespeople and entrepreneurs don’t want to know (much less admit) what they are. Here’s the list with a few caveats…

This list will hurt. It is as eye opening as a double espresso in the morning.
This list is long. It will take 4 weeks to complete it. It may take you years to conquer it.
This list is reality. Reality from the only perspective that matters the customer’s.
This list is about sales. Your sales.
This list is about success. Your success.

My challenge to you is that you read this list and only think of yourself. The mistakes of you made this morning are your opportunities for greatness this afternoon if you admit your mistakes. If you have the guts to rate your own reality. Here goes 29.5 BIG mistakes and the success tactics that will turn them into sales.

How to Cure Them

1. Knowing everything. All salespeople think they know everything. To the prospect (or anyone else) there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confidence permits a sale to take place, arrogance prevents it. Success tactics: Leave “I am the greatest” at the doorstep. Think “you” not “me.” Look for ways you can help. Listen for problems. Look for and offer solutions. A big part of professional sales is humility. Employ it.

2. Thinking the customer is stupid. Salespeople are the smartest people of the world. They use timeworn sales tactics (which anger and alienate the prospect). They talk down to the customer. Success tactics: Think of your prospect as the smartest person in the world. The only thing he doesn’t know is how your product will help him, or help serve his customer. All you have to do is share the information and a sale is sure to follow.

3. Not making friends first. People would rather buy form someone they know and like. If the prospect doesn’t know you very well, the likelihood of a sale is diminished. Success tactic: Find something to laugh about. Find one link with the prospect. Something you both know about and like.

4. Prejudging the prospect. If you prejudge the prospect by his surroundings or the type of character you think he is you will miss half your sales. If you think “he won’t buy,” or “he doesn’t look like the type,” you’re setting yourself up to fail. Success tactics: The worst judgment you can make is a “pre” judgment. Think “open mind equals open wallet” and you  will lose all prejudgements. Look for individual characteristics. Don’t try to “type” the person. Sell yourself on “he will” not “he won’t.” Set your mind to help everyone.

5. Thinking the customer is broke or doesn’t have enough money. The worst of the prejudgements. Missing opportunities because of judging a book by it’s cover. True story A farmer, dressed in seedy overalls, went to a car dealership to buy a truck. No one would wait on him because the “street smart” car salespeople new it would be a waste of their time. Finally the car salespeople made a rookie go a wait on the farmer. The farmer said, “I want me a new truck.” The salesman asked, “What price range were you looking at?” The farmer reached into the top bib pocket of his overalls, pulled out a stack of $100 dollar bills, and said “I only brought $15,000 with me, but I’ve got plenty more back at the farm.” . Success tactics: List every way people can afford to begin using what you sell. Create and expose needs so high that “money” becomes second to “need” The sale is driven by need not money. Money satisfies need.

6. Thinking your price is too high. If you think the price is too high, the first thing you’ll do is make excuses, or try to sell too hard. Success tactics: Make a list of 25 reasons your price is fair. Sell value. Sell cost to use over long term. Sell service. Sell yourself. Sell help.

Screenshot_2019-09-26 29 5 biggest mistakes salespeople make (the nightmare continues)The Nightmare Continues

My challenge to you continues as well – read this list and only think of yourself. The mistakes you made this morning are your opportunities for greatness this afternoon but only if you admit them. If you have the guts to rate your own reality. Brace yourself:

7. Poor presentation skills. Fidgeting, poor enunciating, verbal hesitating, monotone salespeople don’t make many sales. But they don’t know it because they can’t see themselves. Success tactics: Take a fellow salesperson with you just to evaluate your presentation. Ask him to be brutally honest. Join and involve yourself in Toastmasters. Record yourself and listen to it in your car.

8. Not asking the right questions. A sale is made (or lost) based on the questions you ask. Success tactic: Ask prospects questions that make them evaluate new information. Ask questions that qualify needs and finances. Ask questions that separate you from your competition.

9. Selling before needs have been established. Why tell the prospect anything about what you’re selling until you’ve established what is needed? Sounds elementary, but at this moment millions of sales people are doing it. Success tactic: Develop some form of needs assessment. A test, a factory tour, a series of ten questions. Something that will draw out specific needs before a sales presentation is made. (See #8)

10. Lack of knowledge about how your product is used. Not a bunch of boring features and benefits. Real world information. Success tactic: Spend a few days at the customer’s place of business observing (and working with) your product. You can learn more spending a day at a customer’s than you can on 1,000 sales calls.

11. Selling in terms of yourself, not the customer. Not saying how you help. Know the kinds of problems you solve. Know the types of needs you fill. Sell that. Success tactic: Tell stories about how other customers have succeeded using your product or service. Don’t worry about your commission, think about how much help your service will be, the sale will follow.

12. Talking too much. Salespeople are under the huge misconception that they have to talk a lot in order to sell something. Nothing could be further from the truth. They must give the prospect a chance to buy. They must ask a lot in order to sell something. Success tactic: Ask questions at least 50% of the time. Draw out responses that keep the prospect dominating the conversation and giving buying signals.

13. Being too pushy. Pressing forward makes the prospect doubt you and run for cover. Forced sales get canceled 85% more than any other type. There’s a fine line between a “close” and a “force.” Success tactic: Relax. Backoff. Ask more questions to involve the prospect, and help him buy.

14. Not making it easy to buy. Customers don’t want to fill out forms or wait in line. Customers don’t want (or need) to know your problems. Don’t let your situation interfere with the ease of product delivery. Success tactic: Do it all. Fill out every form, don’t keep anyone waiting, personally deliver what you sell and set it up. “I’ll take care of that.” is your new motto.

We’re about half way. Painful isn’t it? While there are no “quick fixes,” there are adjustments you can make that will begin to show some immediate improvement. Start by adjusting your attitude. It’s the single biggest results-oriented adjustment you can make.

Go back through the first 14 items and you will see that most of them are attitude driven. If you’re serious about self-improvement, you must begin with the right outlook.

Jeff Olson says, “The ugliest answer for where you are, is the one you must deliver to yourself.” I will add to that, “Your attitude will allow you to get ugly with yourself, and see a way to make it pretty.” Go get some makeup. Go get a mirror. Go.

Screenshot_2019-09-26 29 5 biggest mistakes salespeople make (oh no-- not more)Oh No – Not More

My challenge to you continues read this list and only think of yourself. The mistakes you made this morning are your opportunities for greatness this afternoon but only if you admit them. If you have the guts to rate your own reality. Read on and reap:

15. Being unprepared for objections. You know what the objections are. You haven’t heard a new one in years. Success tactic: Brainstorm solid responses with the entire sales team & upper management. Then work the answers into the presentation.

16. Downing the competition. It’s so easy to slam the other guy but it makes you look bad. It also creates doubt in the mind of the prospect. Doubt = delay. Success tactic: Sell for yourself, not against someone else. Substitute the words “industry standard” for competition. Never say one bad word about anyone else ever.

17. Arguing. Everyone loses an argument. The fool is the one who thinks he won. Success tactics: Agree first. Say, “I used to believe that, then _____(explain what changed your mind)_______ happened, and it changed my feelings about it.” Rule of thumb: Argue with your customers and your competition will settle the dispute.

18. Lying. Not big lies. Just “over promising.” Telling the customer “what he wants to hear” will get you a sale and into big trouble at the same time. The customer will eventually find out the truth making you look like even a bigger jerk. Success tactic: Tell the truth even if it hurts. The truth is short term pain a lie can cause permanent injury.

19. Being late. Lateness says I don’t respect your time. Lateness sets a tone about you, your company and your delivery. Success tactic: Set your watch 15 minutes ahead. Make your appointments 5 past the hour. If you’re going to be late, call ahead even if it’s just two or three minutes, it shows respect to call.

20. Showing greed. It shows. Too much pressure, poor attitude, impatience, thinking commission instead of help. Success tactic: Be cool. Just help the other person. If you help enough, all the money in the world is yours.

21. Poor followup. Not clearly establishing or tying down the next step in your sales cycle. Followup is 80% of sales. Poor followup guarantees one thing – poor results. Success tactic: If it’s a call back, make the prospect mark it in his or her calendar. When the customer says, “Call me back Tuesday at 11am,” you say, “Great, let’s mark our calendar’s right now, and I’ll call you at 11 on the dot.”

22. Thinking the customer will return your call. Right, and Santa will visit you on Groundhog’s Day. Success tactics: Get the administrative person on the other end to give you the best time to reach the decision maker. Call them back at the best time.

Screenshot_2019-09-26 29 5 biggest mistakes salespeople make (mistakes who makes mistakes )Mistakes? Who Makes Mistakes?

Reality is the grimmest when it’s yours. This list has generated more responses of, “thanks for the wake-up call,” than I could have imagined. Here is the last of the 29.5 biggest mistakes that salespeople make and the success tactics that will turn them into sales.

My challenge to you continues. Read this list and only think of yourself. The mistakes you made this morning are your opportunities for greatness this afternoon only if you admit them. If you have the guts to rate your own reality. Rate on:

23. Not putting in enough time or using your time wisely. Sell when others are available. Plan or push papers when others are sleeping. Not bringing new ideas to the table. People buy creative and new. Success tactic: List the top five things that you do best. List the top five things that will lead you to money. Spend 80% of your time doing those things.

24. Getting ready to get ready. Wasting time. Sales time. Coffee machine, talking to everyone in the office about the weekend or the ball game, personal calls, reading the paper, and assorted other non-sales-productive moves. Success tactic: Set specific time allotment goals to prepare. Set minimum amount of time you must be face-to-face with prospects.

25. Not networking enough or effectively. Networking is the most powerful business tool of this decade. You can build your base of influence and a pool of prospects at the same time. Success tactics: Go to the meetings and events of your best customers. Make a two year plan of where to get involved and how much time you’re willing to commit.

26. Keeping personal information positive. No one wants to hear about your problems. No one wants to hear what went wrong. Negative talk creates a negative impression. Success tactic: Talk about things you did that were successful. Talk about things you did that helped others. Talk about things you have in common with the prospect.

27. Playing general manager of the universe. Since salespeople already know everything, they try to get in the middle of things that are none of their business. The more you mind your own business, the more business you’ll get. Success tactic: Stop trying to solve everyone else’s problems in the world. Stick to your own and those of your customers that relate to your product.

28. Blaming everything and everyone except yourself. Don’t worry about whose fault it is. If you could have done something to prevent the problem, it’s your fault. Other people or things are just an excuse. Take responsibility for making it happen. Success tactic: Carry a small mirror with you. Every time you start blaming people take out the mirror and look at it. That’s who’s to blame.

29. Thinking you’ve got it all together, when you really don’t. It’s important to believe yourself. It’s dangerous to fool yourself. Success tactics: Take a personal inventory of weaknesses every 30 days. Make a plan to correct two at a time. Believe you are the best, but don’t say it, prove it.

29.5 Celebrating or bragging too soon. Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, tell me what you did. Success tactic: Deposit the money in the bank first, then let the check clear, then celebrate.

Whew! That’s a pretty long list of mistakes. How many fit you? Too many?

Here’s how to make the most of your shortcomings. When you assess yourself, do it privately first. Then ask a coworker or fellow salesperson someone you respect. Someone who has seen you work. Have them assess you. Compare theirs with yours. You may not agree with their assessment, but before you shrug it off in your “know it all sales arrogance” their perception is reality. So is your prospect’s.

Make a specific plan for each weakness. Work on your worst one first. Spend 20 minutes a day on it thirty days. Then go on to the next. If you can turn twelve weaknesses into strengths in one year, you’d better call your local wallet dealer and order a size extra large. You’ll need it for all the money you’re about to make.

Posted in Motivation, Sales Leadership

Three Ways to Win Manufacturing Deals When You Can’t Compete on Price

miller heiman group logo

By Miller Heiman Group | Modern Learning

iStock-1063557222-1024x683-576x384Price is a common objection that sellers face during every sales process in every industry. Modern manufacturing sellers are no different. In fact, they typically face more price objections than other industries because of the impact from lower-cost competitors from other regions and geopolitical challenges, like tariffs or fluctuating costs of raw materials.

When price is the primary focus of a prospect, salespeople need to find a way to focus the conversation on value so they can continue building the relationship. Let’s explore how manufacturing sellers switch buyers focus away from price by showcasing solutions that demonstrate value, emphasize the total cost of ownership and helping your stakeholders succeed.

1. Demonstrate Value by Engaging Early and Establishing Expertise

The earlier in the process sellers engage buyers, the more opportunity they have to identify and prioritize their needs. In fact, 90% of buyers told CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group, that they would be willing to engage sellers earlier in the process. This also provides more time for the seller to establish how your solution solves the specific challenges facing each buying influence.

Sellers must have a strong understanding of the buyer’s business and their general pain points, such as the impact of rapid shifts in technology and changing government regulations, and offer unique solutions to those challenges. Otherwise, the buyer will not see any differentiating value in your seller versus a competitor. By providing expert insight and perspective that buyers can’t find anywhere else, your sellers show prospects that they truly understand their business goals and how your specific solutions help achieve them.

Additionally, sales leaders need to coach sellers on tailoring their messaging to buyer roles to increase their effectiveness. As an example, many manufacturers experience consolidation in some form.If your buyer’s company recently acquired or merged with another organization, your seller can share a case study about how your solutions helped  a customer achieve success during a similar transition. This type of personalization pays off, too—in CSO Insight’s 4th Sales Enablement Study, they found that sales organizations that give sellers messages tailored to buyer roles have 9% higher win rates than those that leave tailoring up to sellers.

2. Emphasize Total Cost of Ownership

Often, manufacturers compete against companies from other regions, like China, which now leads the United States as the largest manufacturing nation. During recent years, these competitors have also closed the technological gap to improve their products, but the overall quality often still lags. When facing these competitors and confronted with price objections, sellers must refocus the conversation on the total cost of ownership, which can include supply chain efficiency, customer service and product quality, among other elements.

Sales leaders can coach sellers on specific messaging to emphasize what your company delivers beyond the initial price tag. For instance, if the competitor has an unreliable supply chain, teach sellers how to calculate the potential costs of significant downtime, which carries more long-term costs.

Another element  of cost of ownership is the potential risk to a company’s reputation. If your buyer chooses an inferior product because of a lower price and that product malfunctions, how will that impact the company’s brand? This could be costly when combined with supply chain issues or poor customer service in response to the malfunctioning product.

3. Help the Individual Stakeholder Succeed

Companies don’t buy products—people do, each with individual needs beyond company objectives. Once a seller understands the external factors impacting a decision, they must address the differentiating elements of their solution through the lens of the individual buying influence.

For instance, if one of the buying influences needs to bring costs down, your seller can focus their messaging on the tangible, short-term benefits of your solution, such as decreased costs in the first quarter after implementation. Or perhaps the buying influence overseeing the supply chain needs to improve efficiency because of constant issues with the current vendor. Your seller can share data on the reliability that your product delivers to similar customers.

Conclusion

While lower costs may tempt your prospects, the most effective approach for many manufacturing sales teams is to provide perspective throughout the buyer’s path. By engaging all the buying influences earlier in the process, sellers can identify and prioritize the needs of each influence and the company’s business challenges.This allows sellers to  focus on delivering value proposition messaging such as total cost of ownership to focus buyers on your total solution, not solely on the price of your product.

If your sales team needs training on how to offer a stronger value proposition, Strategic Selling with Perspective teaches how to simplify complex sales to create a consistent and repeatable sales approach backed by technology.

Posted in Sales Strategy

Running is Like Selling. A Race to the Finish

Gitomer

 by Jeffrey Gitomer

Screenshot_2019-09-11 Running is like selling A race to the finishEditor’s note: This is a Gitomer throwback article but the message is still relevant today.

I just ran my first race. An 8K (five miles for us anti-metric devotees) road race. I’ve been in sales for 25 years. I’ve been running for six months.

As the gun sounded to begin this race, I realized with a rush of adrenaline that it’s the same feeling I get when I’m trying to land a big sale. It’s the same atmosphere crowded. Everyone trying to get ahead. Lots of competition.

As the race progressed, the similarities became so overwhelming that I began asking fellow runners if anyone had brought a pen and paper. Runners (like salespeople) love to talk during the event.

Here are the similarities. As you progress through them, select a few areas where you may be weak. Try to use this sports analogy to focus on your capabilities and qualities that can make you a winner.

Believe you can do it. Thinking you can is the most important aspect of any endeavor. You become (and accomplish) what you think about.

Train before you participate. You don’t walk onto a running course and complete it with no training. You don’t walk into a prospects office with no training and expect to win (make a sale).

Make a plan to finish. Know how fast you can run, and what you have to do to cross the finish line before you start the race (sale).

Be prepared. The right equipment makes all the difference. Having it when you need it makes all the sales. (It also makes you look good)

Be on time. There’s no second chance. Be there before the gun goes off.

Pace yourself. Know your pace before you begin. If you want to run faster, the answer is simple: train more.

Make friends by helping others. Encouraging others actually helps you. Giving positive energy to others increases yours twofold.

Don’t be influenced by others at your level. Don’t worry if a few people pass you. Let them run their race. You run yours.

Be prepared for change. Things happen during a race (sale) you weren’t counting on (I got two cramps along the way I think it’s called a gut check) Be adaptable to the situation. Be prepared to bend. And don’t lose sight of the goal no matter what gets in the way.

Don’t do too much too soon. If you go too fast too soon, you’ll burn out. Save your best for last.

Don’t quit. Finish the race no matter what. You only lose if you quit.

Find a mentor. Winning races or sales is easier with someone wise to help show the way. Mentors can save you years with a few words of wisdom.

Beat your personal best. Be your own winner. You don’t have to beat everyone else. You just have to beat your own best time. Being better than you’ve ever been before is a great victory.

Have fun. The race (sale) should be exhilarating, challenging and an atmosphere that’s happy. You set that atmosphere in your mind long before you enter the race (office). If it ain’t fun, don’t do it.

Celebrate victory. Bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Talk to others who have shared the experience. Buy yourself for something. Get in the habit of feeling good after an achievement you’ve earned it.

I came in 902nd out of a field of 1,400 runners. For the record, my time was 44:57. You can learn a lot from losing to 900 other runners, just like you learn every time a prospect tells you “no” and you lose a sale. Losing helps you learn how (and become more determined) to win.

The good news is that I placed 86th in my age group. Evidently people my age (I’m in the “nearly decrepit” group) have better things to do on Thanksgiving morning when it’s 40 degrees outside. The great news is that I finished the race. I did it. I participated in an event that I trained for. I exceeded my goal of “finishing ahead of someone.” I actually finished ahead of more than 500 people. WOW.

The overall winner had a time of 23:54. Five miles in less than 30 minutes. How long do you think it took him to prepare to win? Do you have that same dedication to prepare to win your sale? If not, look behind you, your competition is about to pass you like you were standing still.

You don’t have to come in first to be a winner, you just have to finish the race. Training and preparation earns you the right to enter the competition.

To compete is the challenge.
To compete is the learning.
To compete is the reward.
To compete will lead you to victory.
Your personal victory.

I’m ready (eager) to enter the next race. I wish my knees felt the same way.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer @GITOMER KING OF SALES, The author of thirteen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude.

Posted in Personal Improvement, Sales Performance Improvement

3 Tips for building stronger relationships with your customers

by GrowthPlay Library

Blog_Relationship-Building-768x512Relationship building has become one of the most important facets of any business’s sales strategy. Your relationships with your clients or customers can provide the needed advantage that helps differentiate you from your biggest competitors.

Try the following tactics to build stronger relationships with your customers and to create a business that is known for its ability to form long-lasting relationships.

1. Enable your salespeople to be as transparent as possible

A transparent business earns the trust and loyalty of its customers. If you don’t know what customer success means to your business, you can’t effectively meet customers’ expectations or offer them a transparent glimpse into your values and company architecture.

For instance, improving customer alignment can help you anticipate your customers’ needs and reliably communicate with them at the right time in the buying cycle. Qualifying your leads is just the start; you must also form mutually beneficial relationships based on the value and differentiation your solution provides your customer.

When you make these factors a priority, your sales strategy will inspire confidence and loyalty. Because you consistently offer just what the customer needs — at the precise time he or she needs it — you become an indispensable resource.

2. Invite Constructive Criticism

Who doesn’t enjoy hearing customers’ praise? However, it’s often the criticism that makes the most profound impact on how you organize, run, and structure your sales strategy. From criticism, you can glean key insights that help inform strategic action. Every customer touch-point is an opportunity to add value. If you don’t maximize it as a sales organization, you run the risk of diminishing value for your customer.

Foster long-term customer relationships by making yourself open to feedback — whether positive or negative.

3. Use Social Media to Engage Customers Earlier

Social media helps your sales organization drive pipeline by giving you the ability to engage with buyers early in the sales cycle, maintain relationships with current customers, and demonstrate valuable market insight. Your customers have a wealth of information at their fingertips. If your salespeople are able to engage with customers digitally, beginning conversations early in the buying cycle, you’re able to capitalize on the opportunity to show value before your competitors even know there may be an opportunity.

Posted in Customer Relationships, Relationship

Sales Training Must Include Learning and Reinforcement

miller heiman group logo

By Miller Heiman Group | Modern Learning

reinforced-learning-576x418Earlier in my career, my company regularly required our team to attend training sessions or workshops. Each time, we started out eager to learn and would quickly soak up the knowledge only to go back to work and, after just a couple of days, forget to apply it. This shouldn’t surprise you. Research tells us that 70 percent of new knowledge is lost within 24 hours.

It was like reliving the movie Groundhog Day.

While it’s important to focus on the consumption of learning that leads to improved performance, we tend to forget the other aspect to it – how to help learners retain the knowledge they just received.

You can teach from the best intellectual property (IP) in the world, but what good does it do if your learners start to forget what they’ve been taught hours after they hear it? IP can only provide value if it’s applied, tested and embedded consistently over time.

We know the problem: Sellers need to learn, but a lack of time and limited resources always seem to get in the way. We live in a world where most workers feel pressed for time, have shorter attention spans and are distracted by multiple devices throughout their day.

Organizations are faced with learning challenges, too, such as the cost; logistics of training a large and dispersed staff; sustaining best practices; and embedding IP as part of their culture.

Learning must include one or all (or any combination) of the following learning modalities to blend IP with customized delivery services to help businesses meet their learning challenges, and equip learners with what they need, when they need it and how they best retain the investment made:

  • Instructor-led training
  • Digital
  • Integrated
  • Reinforced

We’ll take a deep dive in the specific aspects of each modality in the next few weeks. In the meantime, to learn more about how you can meet the challenges facing the modern learner, join us for the webinar, The Sales and Service Training Shift: Technology’s Impact on Effective Learning Methods, on Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. EST.

Posted in Sales Training

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