- Prospect aimlessly…grab anyone who will listen and give them the same sales pitch over and over and over again
- Be oblivious to the prospects buying rhythm…just jump in and sell!
- Lead with as many features as possible…something’s BOUND to stick
- Sell as low in the organization as possible…never bother the decision makers
- Try to sell something to someone who can’t buy
- Make sure that your demos cover every aspect of every feature…or at least until your audience falls asleep
- Bad mouth the competition
- Miss deadlines…break promises
- Discount your price early and often
- Never differentiate yourself from your competition…after all; we’re all the same aren’t we?
Naturally, the best salespeople do the exact opposite. If you want to improve your closing percentage, increase your average order size while maintaining your margins make sure that you follow these five steps:
- Understand your prospects needs
- Analyze the financial and operational impact of those needs
- Create a new vision with a bias towards your capabilities
- Differentiate yourself from your competition in the eyes of your prospect
- Cost justify your solution to make it easy for your prospect to do business with you
Here are the top twelve responses we received in rank order:
- A sense of achievement/closing business
- Opportunity for promotion/growth
- The “thrill” of the chase
- Challenging work
- Good working conditions
- Company loyalty
- Being “in” on things
While you may not think our sample size is large enough to be accurate (or predictive) we have found that once you receive 50 to 75 responses to a specific question the percentages don’t really change very much as the number of respondents increase so we believe that these responses are pretty representative.
I am hopeful you won’t just think to yourself…wow, that’s interesting but rather what it means to your organization and more importantly what can you do with this data.
A successful on-boarding program is critically important if you want to shorten the ramp time of new hires and should be developed well in advance of a new salesperson joining your team! I suggest establishing a written, on-boarding schedule (at least a 30-day schedule but even better yet a 90-schedule) for all new salespeople. You want your salesperson to learn the culture and function of your company but you also need to support them during their ramp-up time.
Set realistic expectations for the first 90 days around learning and actions…not performance! New salespeople need product application knowledge, operational knowledge, company history (the good and bad), information about the competition and why your customers buy from you versus the competition. They need to understand how orders flow through your organization most efficiently. They need to learn the chain of command and how to get problems resolved internally. They need to meet department heads and understand how departments work together as an organized, efficient team.
Make sure you have a hiring profile/job description for your sales position. I’m talking about strategically delineated action items so the new hire will understand what meets minimum and what over-achievement looks like. At the minimum these action items should include:
• An Individual Success Formula
• A Compensation Planner for the Year
• Weekly Activity Levels such as:
- Number of outbound calls
- Number of outbound emails
- Number of face-to-face meetings
- Number of new opportunities uncovered
• An Objection Response Library
I’ll be posting specifics on each of these action items to detail how this new hire fits into your strategic business plan. Read my posts to ensure that you aren’t missing crucial steps in this process on:
Confident salespeople want to work the room! They are prepared and eager to get out there to proactively network in business settings. So why do so many salespeople shy away from working a room? It’s simple. They don’t have confidence in their ability to handle themselves in a social/business networking situation. They say things like I’m shy, I hate talking to strangers, I don’t know what to say or maybe…my boss made me come. Well the good news is that this is an easy problem to tackle. When you are prepared with a list of conversation starters you will know how to interact with different types of people and your confidence will build so that networking will become easy for you!
As part of your strategic sales plan you want to network with a purpose. Look at networking as a series of conversations meant to engage prospects. Some subjects work well to steer the conversation towards your product/service. Some subjects are basic human interest (i.e., current events, sports, weather, etc.). All conversations, regardless of topic, are valuable in developing a business relationship.
Here are some pointers to get you started networking with a purpose:
- Have a short list of conversation starters with the purpose of getting the prospect to start talking (e.g., giving you information)
- Have questions prepared to get the conversation started in the direction you desire. For example: I see you work for XYZ company…what does your company do?
- It’s always good to ask probing, open-ended questions to start with. o For example: Why do clients buy from your company versus your competition? You need to be well versed in your company’s solutions and how they benefit your customers.
- Be prepared to answer the same question about you and your company by sharing your company’s Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
- Practice, practice, practice! Thoroughly know what you know so that when you answer a question it is completely natural and to the point so you can steer the conversation where you want it to go.
So you’ve have made it through the initial conversation with your prospect and now comes your action items to begin your business relationship. Follow this thread on:
- LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/rjohnboyens/
- Twitter at https://twitter.com/JohnBoyens
- Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BoyensGroup
Your sales manager will be glad you did!
Let’s see how good your memory is…do you remember any of the following ten products/brands?
Woolworth’s Department Store
Tab (soft drink)
Do you know what they all have in common? They were all once iconic/recognizable brands that no longer exist! So why do successful brands become commoditized? Here are the top twelve reasons:
- Market saturation/Too much supply
- Lack of perceived value/Inability to articulate value
- To many competitors
- Inability to differentiate product, service or Brand
- Competitors offering discounted pricing
- Internet providing “free” or “low cost” solutions
- Market believing they can get the same products from someone else
- Maturing market
- Lack of innovation/product development
- Ignoring trends, market place conditions, competitive forces, etc.
- Reacting to competitors (or the market) versus being proactive
- Rapidly changing technology/innovation
So what actions should a company take to avoid commoditization? Here are tried and true ways to avoid the commoditization trap:
Find your voice…your unique market message (Leverage your Brand Positioning Strategy)
Understand how your customer defines value (Quantify the value you bring)
Be an expert on the unique needs of your customer (Offer solutions to address their needs)
Better leverage social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube)
Become the subject matter expert
Weave a web of influence…avoid single-point failures
Sell value…not price
Assess and focus on your strengths…not your weaknesses
Provide quality products at a fair price
Deliver customer service excellence
Make complex solutions less complex
Create visions for new ways of doing things
Don’t let your competition define you…increase your feet-on-the-street
Happy New Year!
I’m excited to announce that John Boyens will be facilitating a one-day, Sales Productivity workshop (“Creating a Productive Selling Zone®”) that will be “open” to the public on January 22, 2014. The workshop will be held at the exclusive Richland Country Club in Nashville, Tennessee. This highly interactive workshop will include the sharing of sales and sales management “best practices” from over 25,000 salespeople and sales managers from a variety of industries across the globe, over 15 years of buyer-based research data as well as small group breakout sessions and role-plays to ensure that each attendee will walk away with tools/techniques that will positively impact their business the very next day.
The Productive Selling Zone is not a journey nor is it a destination…it’s a state of effectiveness! If you’re a salesperson or sales leader that’s looking to improve the size/quality of your pipeline, increase your average order size, shrink your sales cycle and grow market share you can’t afford to miss this workshop.
Seating will be limited to 25 workshop attendees to ensure an optimal learning ratio so please let us know if you’re interested in attending. Please call our office at (615) 395-0200, visit our website at www.boyens.com or email John at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat today!
Lastly, John has continued to see an increase in connections (newsletter subscribers, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends and followers of his blog). Thank you to all who have spread the word!
As a reminder…here’s where you can find John:
LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/rjohnboyens/
Be sure to tell a friend!
Too many business owners/sales leaders spend most of their time working “in” their business versus “on” their business. They’re focused on the tactical steps of running a business versus the strategic planning steps of growing a business. So what are some strategic action steps that other successful business owners have taken to grow their business?
Here’s a quick checklist for your consideration:
- Do one thing to increase your company’s visibility
- Identify a person/company who could help generate more revenue in the near term
- Better leverage technology
- Identify one mundane, time-consuming task that you could outsource to an employee, business associate or partner
- Better leverage social media
- Defer something you are working on that really doesn’t need to be done in the near term
In addition, here are six; strategic questions business owners need to answer to effectively and consistently grow their business:
- If you were starting your business from scratch today is your current organizational structure and distribution model what you would choose?
- Is your current compensation plan driving the kind of behavior and delivering the results you want?
- Is your compensation/benefits package competitive in the market place?
- If you were starting your business from scratch today what percentage of your people would you hire back in their exact, same roles?
- Have you facilitated customer feedback sessions and/or customer focus groups to validate/invalidate the market place perceptions of your company?
- Is your market messaging (i.e., website, social media, collateral materials, trade show booth/display and what your salespeople say when talking with prospects) consistent?