How Sales and Customer Success Can Align to Better Support Customers

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By Miller Heiman Group | Sales Enablement

iStock-675649842-1-576x384While sellers focus on the first two phases of the customer journey, awareness and purchase, they stop short of the implementation phase—the phase that matters most to their buyers—and the phase where customer success takes over. A skilled customer success team is especially critical to sales success because they touch an account 10 times more than the sales team. Customers report that sellers don’t show enough interest in them after a sale, according to the 2018 Buyer Preferences Study

When sellers and customer success teams work together, they set customers up for more success and create lasting relationships that lead to more sales. In this blog, we’ll explore how collaboration between sales professionals  and customer service professionals benefits companies and buyers alike. Successful collaboration draws more revenue from existing customers, identifies new opportunities for cross-selling and upselling and creates a symbiotic relationship aligned on retaining and growing customers.

Increasing Customer Revenue

More than 70% of a company’s revenue comes from its existing customer base. That means sellers who stop focusing on their buyers after the sale risk losing significant income. If sellers have lost touch with a buyer after a sale, service can step in to fill the gap and reconnect sellers with their buyers.

Because customer service reps interact with customers more than sales reps do, they build strong, sustainable relationships with buyers. Through these contacts, they uncover  buyers’ challenges and pain points, by mastering questioning techniques designed to elicit this information. Once the service team fully understands customers’ needs, they can share the feedback with the sales team and direct them to additional sales opportunities. A customer experience best practice for organizations to cultivate is an information pipeline between service and customer success: with open and frequent communication so that no opportunities are missed.

Identifying Cross-Selling and Upselling Opportunities

Customer success reps are often first to know of a customer’s business plans. By knowing how to communicate clearly, guide customer conversations and ask questions that uncover the need behind the need, they deliver a qualified leads to the sales team.

As an example, if a service rep visits a customer and learns of their intent to expand their business, whether in footprint or in offerings, they should ask about what products or solutions the customer needs to fulfill that expansion. If the buyer has yet to identify a supplier to fill those requirements, customer success should report the customer’s need for new products or services to the sales team. By doing so, customer success gives the seller an opportunity to engage with the customer earlier in their buying journey, increasing the likelihood of a sale.

Creating a Symbiosis

Sales and service are part of the same continuum, squarely focused on customer satisfaction. Customer experience best practices show that  these teams must be aligned to reach their goals of retaining and growing customers. After all, sales sells the first deal, but service sells all future deals.

But some organizations lack sufficiently strong connections between their sales and customer success teams. These organizations need to focus on their customer experience strategy: ensuring a customer-centric focus throughout the organization to prioritize customer needs, improve customer satisfaction levels and raise the chances of repeat sales.

To strengthen the relationship between sales and service, sales leaders should encourage sellers to schedule regular touchpoints with service reps as part of their customer experience strategy. During these sessions, they should ask their counterparts in service about the buyer’s business plans, future projects and timelines. They should also gather feedback about any problems that the buyer has with their existing solution and whether they need to make changes or upgrade. These questions deliver important firsthand insights and buyer motivations that sellers usually can’t access.

Give Your Customers Experiences They Won’t Forget

Sellers must recognize that their responsibility to the buyer doesn’t end when the deal is signed. Once the customer has the product or service, they must start thinking about the next opportunity—and there’s no better partner than the customer success team to help find it. Similarly, customer success teams must be equipped with the skills necessary to gather information to fuel sales.

A customer experience strategy that spans the entire organization, from first contact to most recent, is the foundation for a winning enterprise sales strategy. Our training programs, Service Ready, Conceptual Selling with Perspective and SPIN Selling Conversations, help sales and customer service connect with each other and with buyers, creating a positive—and unforgettable—customer experience.

Posted in Customer Satisfaction, Customer Success, Networking, Relationship, Sales, Sales Enablement

You’re Fired! By the Real Boss – Your Customer.


 by Jeffrey Gitomer

Screenshot_2019-12-04 You're Fired By the Real Boss - Your Customer - Jeffrey GitomerWarning! The information contained in this column will be painful to read.

You’re fired! By the real boss – your customer.

Presto!  Every customer returns for a second dose of whatever you sell or serve. Is that the reality? Or have you sold them once, and then got fired (and now they’re being served by your competition).

You see, people don’t stop doing business, they just stop doing business with you. Each of us has lost a customer or ten in our business career. Why? Lots of reasons. We all know what to do, the problem is we just don’t do it.

Being fired is not just maddening and frustrating, it’s also an opportunity. An opportunity to figure out why and fix the problem. 

Here’s a list of 14.5 reasons why customers fire you:

  1. Showing no genuine or personal interest. Impersonal service. Insincere people. Commission (only) hungry salespeople.
  2. Poor response. Takes too long to get back to a customer or service a customer, and they will find someone else. People will even sacrifice quality for speed.
  3. Unavailability. People or product. Formula: “Can’t get the stuff I need or can’t reach the person I want, equals go someplace else.”
  4. Hard to do business or order. Long waits on hold. People who are not product knowledgeable. Computer voice attendant rather than a real human being to answer the phone, and going through three minutes of crap only to get lost or put on eternal hold. Bye bye.
  5. Unfriendly person on the front line. It never ceases to amaze me how many angry people serve on the front line of multimillion (billion) dollar businesses. The first rule of every corporate policy in America should be one word, “smile.”
  6. Poor or rude collection practices. This is a big one. Taking away someone’s dignity when collecting a bill is common practice in businesses. Most have never taken the time to point out to collection people that keeping the customer is as important as collecting the money.
  7. Overpromising. Customers are like elephants, they never forget. You overpromise and underdeliver, you lose.
  8. Inadequate capability to handle the customer’s problem. Poor product knowledge, or too many service problems and not enough service people. Double jeopardy if you make a lame excuse about it.
  9. Too eager to do more business. (Too pushy, too much pressure) No one wants to buy more from a high pressure person. Help, don’t sell. Create an atmosphere of buying (asking about them) not telling about you. Don’t be a pest. Have a solid reason for following up.
  10. Poor professional package or image. Customers want to feel that the quality of their business will be reflected by the quality of those they deal with. How’s your image? How’s your package?
  11. Dumb excuses about why you “can’t.” Customers are calling because they want help. They want help with their situation, not hear a bunch of baloney about yours.
  12. Nickel and diming. Charging for every incidental like copies, phone calls, and interest on late payments, puts a bad taste in the customer’s mouth.
  13. Poor product quality. No matter how much people pay, they expect a quality product. If you’re selling price and sacrificing quality, eventually you will lose the business to someone with opposite thinking.
  14. Poor service delivery. Everyone expects fast service that’s right the first time. How’s yours? How’s the attitude of those who deliver it?

14.5 Poor training. Don’t fire the problem employee. Shoot the person who trained them. Poor or ineffective training is the root of customer dissatisfaction. Success tactic: Make “reasons for customer dissatisfaction” the basis for a new training program.

What happens to angry customers? From a variety of reliable research, here is a compilation of interesting statistics.

  • 91% who leave will never return.
  • 96% who leave won’t tell you the real reason they left.
  • 80% will do business with you again if their problem is handled quickly, and to their complete satisfaction.

When the incident is real bad and they leave, stories about what happened will be retold for years.

Interestingly, most of the time when we lose (get fired by) a customer, it always seems to be their fault. I’d love to have a dollar for every customer who was wrongly blamed. Ninety nine percent of the time it’s easy to assess who’s to blame – just look in the mirror. Your mirror.

I’ll leave you with this question: What are you doing to build loyalty and ensure repeat purchases?

Written By Jeffrey 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 Customer Relationships, Customer Success

How to create a “Value-Added” client relationship

by Jim Durham

063847058-business-colleaguesThere should be a note on every lawyer’s desk that says, “What have I done today to make clients and others in my network more successful and more comfortable?”

One of a client’s best measures of a lawyer is whether or not they add value to the work and the relationship. Value means providing more than the basic legal work for which the client hired you. I have heard the word “value” described in many ways, but for a client working with a lawyer it almost always means: “I get something more than what I paid for.”

If the legal work you did was competent, and the fee you charged was appropriate for the work, then (using this definition) the “value” would be zero. Providing a client with what they asked you to do is not a bad thing, but without more, the perceived value is minimal. In a competitive marketplace like the one in which lawyers practice, you must provide more than simply that for which you were hired.

Forms of Value-Added Actions

For some clients, extra value can be found in helping them stay abreast of regulatory developments, or providing regular summaries of the status of matters, or helping their best friend get a job or tickets to an event. To another client, value comes from the fact that you spend time at their offices learning more about their business, or having a great number-two lawyer on the team. For some people who do fast-paced deals, value is found in the fact that you are not constantly calling them for input and instructions; for someone else, it is the fact that you often seek their input. To know what your clients value, you must communicate regularly and clearly.

Practice Effective Matter Management

One increasingly important value proposition is effective matter management. Great lawyers keep the client informed of the progress and status of their matters (without overdoing it, or being a pest); they tell the client who is handling the work and when it will be done; and they make clear what the client needs to do to help the lawyer get a good outcome.

Clients also find value in lawyers who are on top of specific, relevant legal or industry developments that might impact their business strategy, and they value the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback, so long as the lawyers are willing to make adjustments to their service approach if the client asks for it.

It Doesn’t Take Much Time

Much of what it takes to add value to a client relationship takes only a few minutes a day. Lawyer value is not found in writing lengthy transmittal memos, doing excessive research, or making speeches; it comes from calling, emailing, or visiting clients to learn what they are thinking, and what problems you can help them solve. It means initiating contact to show that you care.  This latter point is particularly important when you are not actively working on a client matter.

It takes seven contacts per year for someone to have you in mind when they need a lawyer or they have a chance to refer someone to a lawyer. The biggest mistake I see among lawyers who are trying to build a practice and establish a great reputation, is that they do not initiate contact with or stay in touch with people for whom they are not currently working.

Posted in Relationship, Talent Management

Transform Your Sales With the Right Talent

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By Miller Heiman Group | Sales Performance

iStock-1009846686-576x384Advancements in technology have changed the way sales organizations recruit and hire their sales force. The 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study revealed that just 32% of organizations believe they have the right people in place to meet their business goals, and only 24% assess why their top performers are successful.

Less than one-quarter of buyers see sellers as an important resource to help them solve their business problems, which is why sellers need to not just meet, but exceed buyer expectations. To exceed expectations, sellers must execute top-notch interactions, focus on business success, come highly prepared and provide insights that educate the buyer.

Take these steps to better understand your sales force and exceed buyer expectations and transform your sales.

Measure Your Talent Strategy

Many sales organizations face two talent problems.

  1. Organizations rely too much on their top performers.
  2. Talent gaps are costly. The process to get a new salesperson up to speed is lengthy:  four months to recruit and nine months to onboard to full productivity.

Luckily this can be fixed. Use talent assessments to see where your employees have undeveloped potential, whether that’s the ability to lead a team, take on major accounts or pilot sales of a new product. Then understand why your top performers win. See what makes your best salespeople tick and what behaviors drive their success, use a mix of indicators, including result consistency, performance KPIs like quota attainment and qualitative analysis like customer feedback. This helps you identify the seller behavior you want to replicate and those you don’t. Sales analytics platforms like Scout show which seller actions led to wins and losses, enabling you to replicate successful patterns across your sales force.

Align Sales and Service

Sales sells the first deal; customer service helps sell every deal thereafter. The 2018–2019 Sales Performance Report from CSO Insights shows that more than 70% of revenue comes from existing customers. It’s essential that positive buyer experiences continue long after you’ve closed the deal. On average, your service team touches an account 10 times more than your sales team. It’s the role of customer service to deliver on the promise of the initial sale. Every interaction between sales, service and your customers is an opportunity to build customer loyalty. Sales and service teams share the goal of building customer relationships that improve company performance.

What Sets Your Sellers Apart?

Understanding why your sellers win and stronger alignment between sales and customer service contributes to a stronger sales performance. By evaluating what makes your top sellers successful and aligning sales and service, you’ll set yourself up to identify and grow talent within your existing sales force. Get started today by taking our Sales Conversation Metric, which analyzes how your sellers deliver added value and insights to your customers.

Posted in Sales, Sales Talent

The Secrets of Telling (Selling) Your Story with Impact


 by Jeffrey Gitomer

Screenshot_2019-11-21 The Secrets of Telling (Selling) Your Story with Impact - Jeffrey GitomerHow do you sell? No two salespeople sell the same way. In fact, two people selling the exact same product will almost never present it the same way. It not just what you say, it’s also the way you say it.

In a sales presentation, there are four elements that determine whether a sale will be made or not.

  1. Rapport – Putting yourself on the same side of the fence with the prospect.
  2. Need – Determining what the prospect deems as the factors that will influence his motivation to listen with the intent to purchase.
  3. Importance – The weight that a prospect assigns to a product, feature, benefit, price or time frame.
  4. Confidence – Your ability to gain credibility. Your ability to remove all doubt. Your ability to gain comfort that the risk of purchase will be less than the reward of ownership.

While all of the information from these elements can be acquired by asking the right power questions, the difference between good and great salespeople is the way they present (deliver) their message.

Want to put your presentation together?

Here’s the glue: 10.5 Success Tactics to best employ the strategic elements of how you say it…and get great at presenting…

  1. Get a grip. Shake hands so firmly that the other person notices. A solid handshake sets a confident aura about you from the first moment of contact.
  2. Set the mood. It’s your responsibility as a great salesperson to create an atmosphere where information can flow comfortably and naturally.
  3. Pace your delivery. Get a feel for time and timing. Regulate and balance your timing between the needs of the prospect and the requirements of your product or service. One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is going too fast. Even though you’re giving your presentation for the 1,000th time, the prospect is hearing it for the first time.
  4. Tag team sell.For evaluation purposes, have a coworker of your boss go with you once a week, and make them listen. Create a review form and have it filled out immediately after your performance. Talk about what you could do to improve immediately after the presentation. Write down your strengths, as well as your weaknesses.
  5. Record your sales telephone conversations. Use them as a self-monitor of your ability to present a clear and confident message. Play them back, if you dare. If you can’t stand your voice, change your pitch.
  6. Read and record a chapter from The Sales Bible (my book) onto your phone. Listen it in your car. You’ll learn about sales and about how you present. Would you buy from that presenter? If not, record another one with style and emotion.
  7. Record your opening five minutes. Use a friend or coworker as a role play prospect. Watch the video together and rate your performance. Have a sickness bag from an airlines nearby because when you see yourself, you’ll puke or deny it’s you. Repeat the process once a week for two months.
  8. Be your own video critic once a week. Watch your own video at home. Work to eliminate the two worst habits, and at the same time, work to enhance your two best strengths.
  9. Be prepared. Know your product cold. Rehearse your words before you present them. Get comfortable with your process and your story.
  10. Be yourself. Don’t put on an act. Your personality will shine if you believe in what you are saying. Being genuine will win the confidence of the prospect (and the order).

10.5 Join Toastmasters. An organization dedicated to helping others get better at presentation skills. An inexpensive and dynamic way for you to get peer evaluation once a week.

The next time someone tells you, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” tell him he’s half right.

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 Sales Performance Improvement, Sales Presentations

How to hire sales talent that’s right for your organization

by GrowthPlay Library

bigstock-Interview-86599889_600xHiring sales professionals that not only have talent, but that also fit well into your organization, is more complicated than many sales leaders realize. The right person needs to have the skills and abilities necessary to blend in with your existing team, connect well with prospects and clients, and commit to growth within your organization.

The following are some helpful tips to assist you as you attempt to hire sales reps that are right for your business.

Develop Systematic Hiring and On-boarding Processes

Talent Management is likely on the bottom of the list for most sales managers. When it comes to sourcing a great salesperson or closing an opportunity, the immediate revenue possibility often wins out.  If you leave your talent process to chance, you’ll create constant fire drills every time a salesperson quits.

Your sales organization can greatly reduce the time and resources needed for talent management by creating a consistent process to help you recruit, hire, onboard and retain a high-performing sales team. Taking the time to develop the right process for your organization can save you hours and money wasted on the back-end.

Office_PictureDefine Sales Roles

The skills required to sell a medical device for example, are likely much different than what’s required to take a prospect from freemium to premium for a SaaS solution.  To hire the “right fit”, you need a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities required in the position.

If you want to drive productivity, you need to align your hires with the sales tasks that they will be required to master, if they’re to be successful in the role.

Use Predictive Talent Analytics

Data strengthens confidence in creating the profile of the ideal new hire for a given position. Analytics provide your organization the ability to hire based on data, rather than gut feel.

In his article, “Most HR Data is Bad Data,” Marcus Buckingham details how many HR rating systems are based on inputs that aren’t backed up by science. He writes,

“It means that all of the data we use to decide who gets promoted is bad data; that all of the performance appraisal data we use to determine people’s bonus pay is imprecise and the links we try to show between our people strategy and our business strategy – expressed in various competency models – are spurious. It means that, when it comes to our people within our organizations, we are all functionally blind.”

Predictive talent analytics combined with a process to manage to the data puts science into your talent management process. When you’re trying to reach aggressive revenue goals, there’s no better way to make sure you’re hiring the right salespeople.

Always Be Prepared for the Rule of Three:

  • Someone will be promoted
  • Someone will resign or be fired
  • Someone will surprise you

Sales talent management needs to be a consistent priority for sales managers, who want to attract, hire and retain top sales talent. Human resources can help, but they shouldn’t be the lead owner of your recruiting efforts. You, as a sales manager, need to participate in your own rescue by developing an effective strategy for talent management. It’s a crucial component to the success of your team. Here are three steps you can take to own your own talent process.

  • Conduct three sourcing efforts a week (E.g., a phone call, LinkedIn reach-out)
  • Get three candidate names from each contact you make
  • Maintain the contact with your top three candidates
Posted in Sales Talent, Talent Management

Don’t Wait a Moment: The Case for Coaching in the Flow

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By Tim Conroy | Sales Coaching

iStock-1059661326-576x384In this guest blog post, Tim Conroy, one of our inaugural Miller Heiman Group Icons, learning and development director with Applied Materials and an expert on sales coaching strategies, shares how he drives sales managers to perform their best.

Most sales managers arrived in their position because they’re outstanding at selling or at managerial skills like developing market share or driving revenue. But that doesn’t mean that they’re equipped with one of the most essential skills to develop their team: sales coaching.

For many organizations, sales management coaching isn’t a primary focus because of time constraints. Many sales managers harbor the misconception that sales coaching takes too much time away from selling. Some sales managers wait for salespeople to seek advice, ask permission to take the next step or get a review of a deal.

But it should be the other way around: sales managers should actively look for coaching opportunities to share information and communicate with their team. This is where many companies have significant room for improvement.

Why Sales Management Coaching Matters

Salespeople have a lot of information to absorb, whether it’s sales methodologies and processes, product information or value messaging. The more information you throw at your salespeople, the less they’re likely to retain.

The Ebbinghaus Curve, a mathematical formula devised by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, shows that when people learn something new, they’ll forget 80% of what they learned within 24 hours. But Ebbinghaus also discovered that it’s possible to lessen the learning loss by repeating what you learned at regular intervals—what he called “spaced repetition.”

I’ve seen this play out with sales teams at my company. With continual reinforcement and relearning of concepts over a certain period—say that we retrain our sellers every couple of days or once a week—the learning curve flattens out and retention stays higher. We’ve been able to reverse the curve through relearning, micro learning, reinforcement and—one of the key components—sales coaching.

Sales managers need to help their team relearn by coaching in the process of work. By coaching in the midst of deals, it helps sellers retain key knowledge and become more effective over time. This is a concept I call “coaching in the flow.”

I borrowed the concept from analyst and talent and learning expert Josh Bersin, who devised the idea of “learning in the flow.” The sales manager should coach while the seller is in the process of selling, analyzing what is happening to deliver real-time feedback. Immediate, in-the-flow constructive criticism encourages salespeople to stop behaviors that aren’t working and to adopt new, more effective selling strategies. By using this process, we’ve gone from an 80% learning loss to 80% learning retention within four or five reinforcement cycles.

Here’s an example of coaching in the flow using Strategic Selling with Perspective. To follow the sales methodology in this course, sellers must identify all of the relevant stakeholders or decision-makers for a deal. One way that sales managers coach sellers in this process is by asking, “How are you sure that you’ve identified all of the stakeholders?” The goal is to ensure sellers are able to say with confidence that they’ve done it correctly. After we’ve gone through this process four or five times, our sellers get the concept, and we move on to coaching on the next topic.

The important thing for sales managers to remember is that coaching isn’t a one-and-done project or a check-the-box item: it must be ongoing to succeed.

Tim Conroy has 26 years of experience in semiconductor service and product sales and has risen through the sales ranks over his career. He also has a passion for sales training and development that he applies in what he describes as a “triumvirate” of roles at Applied Materials: sales process enablement support, employee development, and learning and development.

Posted in Sales Coaching

Want to Give The Greatest Presentation in the World?


 by Jeffrey Gitomer

Screenshot_2019-11-07 Want to Give The Greatest Presentation in the World - Jeffrey GitomerThe old adage is, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Wrong. In sales it’s both. Making a great sales presentation is a marriage of “what you say” and “how you say it.” Today we’re going to concentrate on how you say it.

Your first responsibility as a great salesperson is to create an atmosphere where information can flow naturally. Much is said about sales techniques to coerce or persuade the prospect to buy. Not much is said about sales presentation skills fundamental communication competence, combined with public speaking adeptness to blend a symphonic (sales) pitch.

How do you say it? If you deliver the greatest sales pitch in the world with no enthusiasm, sincerity, or belief, you’ll lose the sale.

Your skills must be used throughout the entire presentation, but they’re critical at the start, because they create an impression and sets a tone for the rest of the meeting.

I’ve compiled a list of essential skills and definitions for implementation.

Here are the strategic elements of how you say it…

Speak clearly. Sounds simple, but if the prospect doesn’t understand you, (accent, dialect, speak too fast, jump around) your communication won’t be understood. You also won’t get the sale.

Lean forward. Lean into the presentation to give the prospect the sense of importance and urgency.

Don’t fidget. Knuckle cracking, pocket jingling or other nervous habits detract from the presentation.

Don’t fumble. Fumbling around means you’re not prepared. It makes the prospect on edge and impatient. It also makes him unsure of you therefore unsure about your company, your product and your service.

Don’t “um,” “ah,” or “er.” Vocalized pauses, hesitations, and repeated words are so irritating, they make the prospect focus on the flaws rather than the message. The biggest cure for this is practice.

Be animated. Wide eyed, as though you just had the most fantastic thing just happened to you.

Use lots of hand gestures. Not wild handwaving, but pointed compelling gestures. Pantomime (act out) the words as you speak.

Use a wide range of vocal variety. Loud and soft voices. Not singing, but close. Go from high to low tones. Punch the critical words. Compel the prospect to listen. Say it with style.

Whisper some important stuff like it’s a secret. Get the prospect to lean into your words. Make him or her feel special to get this message.

Stand up when you present. It adds impact to your gestures and to the story (even if you’re on the phone).

Stand up (sit up) straight. Posture determines the direction of your words. If you’re stoop shouldered, your words are spoken to the floor, instead of to the prospect.

Look them in the eye. Your eye contact is a telltale sign of credibility to the prospect. Use direct eye contact. Looking at the other person in the eye is a confidence builder.

Take presentation risks. Don’t present in a shell. Say new things. Invent new methods of presentation on the spot. It may mean that you get a bit uncomfortable, so what? That’s how you grow.

Stay within the range of the prospect’s personality. If the prospect is stuffy/conservative, don’t get too wild.

Say it with conviction. The prospect must buy you before he buys your product or service. Your self belief will account for a large portion of the sale.

Select the right words. Sound intelligent. You don’t have to quote Shakespeare, but you do need to be a wordsmith. Use the prospect’s industry buzzwords. Build ten new words into your vocabulary every week. No swearing, no matter what. (Even if the prospect swears, you have a professional standard to maintain.)

Emphasize important words. When you come to a critical word or phrase, punch it and pause to let it sink in.

Use your entire body to sell. Gesture with your hands and arms. Stand, get up and walk around.

Nod yes. This small subliminal body language technique is among the most powerful in sales. It sets a mood of “Yes” throughout the presentation.

Smile. This isn’t brain surgery, it’s helping other people. It’s fun. Your facial expression of smile makes the prospect feel good inside.

Relax. High anxiety makes the prospect nervous too. The main reason salespeople are nervous is they are unprepared or they need the money they’re about to make when the sale is completed. Calm down. Never let them see (or feel) you sweat.

“Business owners, executives, managers and salespeople fail to realize how much of their success is dependent on the way they speak. Poor speaking habits can destroy credibility,” says Ty Boyd founder of the Excellence in Speaking Institute (Charlotte, NC). “Most people don’t realize how weak their presentation skills really are and how easy it is to reverse the process if they just focus on the fundamentals.”

Great advice from a master. How many of you will take the challenge to raise your skills? Need a push? Next week I’ll share the best methods to put fire in your throat, without being perceived as a dragon.

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 Sales Presentations

3 Ways to Prevent Turnover on Your Sales Team

by Tasneem Khokha

Blog_Prevent-TurnoverTurnover is an ever-present source of stress for firm leaders working hard to increase profits and drive growth. Losing a member of your sales team can throw strategies off course and slow progress toward your goals. While some turnover is inevitable as people’s careers unfold and their lives outside work require changes to the plan, leaders can prevent turnover on sales teams by remembering to focus on a Triple Bottom Line comprised of profits, people, and planet.

While profits will always be important, success also depends on how an organization makes an impact on the broader world and on the way it treats people. The client experience is one half of that “people” equation. The employee experience—the factors that decide whether top talent wants to build their careers at your firm—is the other half. If you have turnover on your sales team, inadequate employee experience may be a factor.

The good news is that leaders can take concrete steps to change how employees experience their work and create the kind of firm where people stay. Here are three:

1 – Harness the power of talent analytics. Teams fail when they are not created with intention or when team members do not have a clear idea of the roles they will play in a collaborative effort. Talent analytics tools such as the GrowthPlay Chally Assessment, a 45-year-old talent-profiling tool that has been used on more than one million people to measure skills and motivations attributed to success in high-performing organizations, can help you identify the competencies your professionals naturally possess as well as the business development roles in which they are most likely to succeed. Then, you can group people in ways that complement each other and play to their strengths, making it much more likely they will succeed.

2 – Offer professional development. Once you have identified your team members’ natural competencies and grouped them into carefully designed teams, it’s time to consider what kinds of coaching and training will translate individuals’ potential into action and success. People aren’t born knowing how to sell, and it can be demotivating to experience frustration and lack of progress when you don’t have the tools to succeed. Managing client relationships, leading teams and creating buy-in, and developing business are all skills that can be cultivated through professional development, training, and coaching. Your talent pool is your most valuable resource, so invest in making it stronger.

3 – Create wellness policies and programs. Well-being is an important aspect of the employee experience, and an unhealthy culture often prompts employees to leave an organization. While providing effective professional development is an excellent way to help people thrive, it’s also important to embrace humane policies and programs across the board, whether that be through flexible scheduling, training in stress management and resilience skills, team-building events, or other initiatives. When employees understand that you care as much about their well-being as you do about their productivity, they will feel like valued members of the organization and are more likely to stay on.

Preventing turnover on your sales team starts with thinking about the experience of working at your firm from the employees’ point of view. Creating an organization that values the whole person, and not just the worker, will make your firm a place people want to work for a long time to come.


Posted in Sales Leadership, Sales Performance Measurement, Sales Talent, Sales Team

How the Right Questions Help Your Customers Realize What They Want

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By Miller Heiman Group | Modern Learning

iStock-1149004362-576x384 Right QuestionsMore than half of B2B respondents to the CSO Insights 2018 Buyer Preferences Study said they found value in discussing their situations with salespeople, while only 2.6% preferred to avoid sellers entirely. The remainder fell in the middle: they found some sellers helpful, while others wasted their time.

It’s no wonder, then, that buyers often don’t view sellers as a valuable resource when making a purchase decision. That’s because most sellers meet—but don’t exceed—buyers’ expectations. As a result, buyers today look to other resources, such as third-party subject-matter experts, vendor websites or their peers, when solving a business problem.

CSO Insights found that more than 70% of buyers wait until after they have already defined their needs to engage sellers—because they see sellers as product representatives, not as problem-solvers, and often see little to differentiate one seller from another. This makes it hard for sellers to exert much influence—and the seller loses any opportunity to differentiate themselves. As a result, the gap between buyers and sellers is widening, launching a cycle we call the buyer apathy loop.

To break out of the buyer apathy loop, sellers need to exceed their buyers’ expectations by finding the right opening that provides the best solutions, which allows them to engage earlier in the sales process. One way to break the cycle is to create a better buying experience using the questioning techniques taught in SPIN Selling Conversations. SPIN helps sellers engage customers in conversations, questioning and listening until they understand why their customer is exploring new solutions.

Ask Better Questions

Four Types of Questions Lead to Better Deals

The better your dialogue with your customers, the better your results. And good dialogue begins with good questions asked in a strategic way.

The research behind SPIN shows that salespeople who close more deals tend to ask the same questions in a similar order. As with all elements of enterprise sales strategy, process and consistency matter.

SPIN provides sellers with the questions and skills to uncover buyer needs and overcome hesitations and objections, which results in an outcome that’s better for both the seller and the buyer. The acronym SPIN identifies the four stages of the questioning sequence designed to move the customer toward closing a deal:

  1. Situation
  2. Problem
  3. Implication
  4. Need-Payoff

Let’s take a closer look at each type of question.

1. Situation Questions
Situation questions ask about the buyer’s background and show you where your customers stand. Use these questions to collect facts about the buyer’s current state, processes, challenges, competitive strategies and results.

Be careful, however, not to ask questions that you could find the answers to easily through online research or preliminary calls. Spend some time gathering information before your conversation to avoid this problem. Given the availability of information online, this should be your shortest set of questions.

Situation questions include:
- What are your company’s goals over the next 24 months?
- What products/services are you currently using?
- What is your process for accomplishing [a goal]?

2. Problem Questions
Problem questions deal with the buyer’s difficulties and obstacles that stand in their way. These questions probe more deeply into buyers’ needs and dis-satisfactions, unearthing unstated needs. They also give sellers an opportunity to show their understanding of the buyer’s problem, enhancing your credibility.

One technique to generate these questions is to work backward from the solutions you offer to problems, ultimately linking your offerings to the buyer’s areas of opportunity.

Problem questions include:
- What is lacking in your current product/solution?
- How much time of your day do you spend doing [a task]?
- Are you happy with your current provider/supplier?

3. Implication Questions
Implication questions ask about the impact of a problem that you’ve diagnosed. These questions combine the seller’s critical thinking skills and industry insights to help buyers understand the magnitude of the problem, to increase their urgency to solve it.

Implication questions include:
- What is the productivity cost of [this problem]?
- Would your team be more satisfied if you didn’t experience the problems related to [this issue]?
- Have problems with [this issue] negatively affected your customers’ satisfaction?

4. Need-Payoff Questions
Need-payoff questions focus the buyer on a potential solution and its benefits. They ask about the value or usefulness of a solution, gently moving the buyer to put the solution’s benefits in their own terms. This persuasive technique is much more compelling than if you, as the seller, described the benefits yourself.

Need-payoff questions should build off your implication questions including:
- Could solving [this problem] raise your productivity?
- Would your team find value in fixing [this problem]?
- Do you think your customer satisfaction scores would increase if you didn’t have [this problem]?

The goal is to frame the solution in a way that the buyer hasn’t considered.

It’s Time to Get the Answers You Need to Close the Deal

Customers don’t want to be told what they need—they need sellers to ask questions designed to guide them to a solution. The key is identifying hidden needs rather than accepting the customer’s statement at face value.

To learn how to ask these questions, sellers need sales effectiveness training that teaches them to ask the questions that unlock what buyers truly want, allowing them to provide the insights and perspective to help buyers see it.

SPIN Selling Conversations gives your team the skills and practice to develop the questions that uncover buyer needs and overcome objections—all in the moments when deals are made and lost. Put a new spin on your sales conversations and improve win rates by registering for SPIN here.

Posted in Asking Questions, Sales Process, Selling Techniques

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