Gatekeeper: Friend or Foe — It’s Up to You

August 28, 2012

A  company’s sales process management needs to address all steps in the sales cycle, including those which occur well before the appointment, in order to qualify its sales process as a thorough system. Handling gatekeepers is one of these steps — an art form that is not stressed enough. Gatekeepers are defined as the assistants, employees, family and associates of a decision maker which control access to said decision maker.... read more

Overcoming the Dreaded “Price” Objection in Sales

August 23, 2012

Of all the objections that salespeople are hit with, the one that seemingly causes the most trouble relates to the price of their offerings. To inexperienced sales staff, phrases such as, “it costs too much” or “we can get it cheaper elsewhere” seem to be solvable only through price reductions, which take a chunk out of both a salesperson’s commission as well as his company’s revenue. Salespeople that compete solely on price have to take shortcuts somewhere to remain profitable, which can lead to dissatisfied customers.... read more

The Five Characteristics of Super Salespeople – Is Natural Talent a Myth?

August 21, 2012

The cost of hiring the wrong salesperson can be substantial, even for companies that do not pay a base or draw against commissions. Once advertising, trade shows, hiring bonuses, training expenses and lost revenue opportunities are tallied, the price tag for each failed salesperson can reach many thousands of dollars, even potentially reaching six figures for B2B salespeople selling complex, high-priced solutions.... read more

“Prove it!” – Smart Strategies for Product Demonstrations

August 16, 2012

After a salesperson gets their foot in the door and moves past the qualification stage, she earns her keep depending largely on what she does during the next stage: presentation. It can be said that here is where true salesmanship most shines, as the salesperson must communicate benefits, features and competitive advantages while holding the interest of the buyer and making a compelling case for the sale.... read more

Understanding the Four Personality Types

August 13, 2012

Once salespeople have been trained in the basics of a company’s formal sales process and product offerings, it might be tempting to simply let them out in the field and let them sink or swim. This, however, leads to tremendous waste due to the needless turnover of employees that might have turned into top producers with some continuing education in sales.... read more

Overcoming the Dreaded “Price” Objection in Sales

August 9, 2012

Of all the objections that salespeople are hit with, the one that seemingly causes the most trouble relates to the price of their offerings. To inexperienced sales staff, phrases such as, “it costs too much” or “we can get it cheaper elsewhere” seem to be solvable only through price reductions, which take a chunk out of both a salesperson’s commission as well as his company’s revenue. Salespeople that compete solely on price have to take shortcuts somewhere to remain profitable, which can lead to dissatisfied customers.... read more

The Art of Steering the Prospect to the Close by Being a Trusted Advisor

August 6, 2012

Salespeople acting as “trusted advisors” might be frowned upon by some corporate sales training professionals, misconstruing the term to mean taking a roundabout, feeble approach to selling. This is erroneous — the whole point of advising the client is to ensure they succeed in their endeavors by making the right purchasing decisions. If a particular company’s product or service truly provides the best solution, then obviously that is what the buyer should happily get involved with, and it is the salesperson’s job to help lead them to this decision.... read more

The Five Deadly Habits that Kill Sales

July 31, 2012

Sales coaching is a fluid, dynamic field that needs to be responsive to both changing technology and the mercurial tastes and sophistication of buyers. Despite the constant refinement of techniques necessary to be successful, there are several basic truths in sales that have always held true, and will always hold true, no matter what is being sold or to whom. Some of these truths include what not to do if one wants to make a living in sales.... read more

How to Recover from a Lost Sale Using the Consultative Sales Process

July 26, 2012

In the sales profession, it is inevitable that even the most promising transactions fall through despite the best efforts of the salesperson. One of the things that separate the top professionals from the lesser ones is how they deal with these failed closes. One can become severely dejected after losing out on a potentially huge commission, or leverage the lost sale as a learning and business-building experience.... read more

The Five Characteristics of Super Salespeople – Is Natural Talent a Myth?

July 24, 2012

The cost of hiring the wrong salesperson can be substantial, even for companies that do not pay a base or draw against commissions. Once advertising, trade shows, hiring bonuses, training expenses and lost revenue opportunities are tallied, the price tag for each failed salesperson can reach many thousands of dollars, even potentially reaching six figures for B2B salespeople selling complex, high-priced solutions.... read more

Sales Training Skills: Ghosting Discriminators – Not Spooky, Just Effective

July 20, 2012

Salespeople are in the fortunate position of being in an occupation where their own wits and determination determine their pay amount, as opposed to non-commissioned workers that are at the mercy of unchanging hourly or weekly rates. Maintaining this freedom, however, requires continuously updating their knowledge and skills as part of the sales process management cycle. New methods to improve basic skills like presenting, handling objections, and distinguishing themselves from the competition are therefore valuable to all salespeople, regardless of how long they have been selling.... read more

How to Use Social Media in Your Consultative Sales Process

July 17, 2012

Social media’s continued growth indicates it has passed the “fad” stage and is now a fixture in the marketing landscape. Some B2B sales organizations have been slow to develop social marketing strategies, and rightfully suspect the call of some gurus to abandon traditional outbound sales tactics. While social marketing enjoys certain benefits over traditional outbound methods, a good flesh-and-blood sales staff that has gone through professional sales training is still the best way to procure prospects and turn them into paying customers.... read more

Effective Questioning to Discover the Highest Needs

July 12, 2012

Executive sales training is needed for anyone selling to the C-suite, especially when the product or service is a highly complex, large-ticket solution with a much longer runway in getting each sale closed and fulfilled. In this high-stakes sales niche, consultative selling works very well due to its focus on asking questions and allowing the prospect to talk, rather than aggressive pitching.... read more

Sales Training Skills: Customer Retention Secrets

July 9, 2012

Successful companies share one secret – their ability to retain their customers. Instead of looking at each transaction as a one and done experience, they focus instead on building lasting relationships with their clients. With just a few simple changes to your sales process management strategy, you can take advantage of the benefits of high customer retention rates, and the referrals that these relationships can generate.... read more

High-Dollar Sales – How to Sell to C-Level Executives

July 2, 2012

Selling to C-level executives is a high-stakes, competitive endeavor that can provide years of revenue for a company and a lucrative stream of commissions to salespeople skilled enough to master this arena. The difference between selling to a typical corporate buyer and a corporate executive is that the buyer is usually trying to protect their job by playing it safe, while the executive is seeking real, measurable competitive advantages.... read more

Neuromarketing and the Mindset of Top Salespeople

June 25, 2012

Marketers have always sought every advantage possible in order to drive buying behavior, including studying psychology and attempting to apply that knowledge to sales training and development. One misfire in the past was the notorious subliminal marketing fad of the 1960s and 1970s, where hidden messages were placed in print, TV and theatrical ads in an attempt to increase sales by affecting the subconscious mind. A more modern attempt lies in the field of neuromarketing.... read more

How to Become a LinkedIn Rockstar and Grow Your Business

June 20, 2012

Social networking keeps growing, and despite Facebook’s recent spotty IPO, businesses continue to flock to it and other platforms to extend their marketing efforts and engage on a deeper level with their prospects. The king of social media for B2B professionals, however, is not Facebook, but LinkedIn, which proves especially popular with recruiters and job seekers alike.... read more

Sales Training Skills – Make a Positive First Impression (and More Money!)

June 14, 2012

One item that salespeople need to appreciate more than professionals in other careers is the value of a good first impression. Although stereotypes can be considered a negative thing, the truth is that in practical life we are all judged by others within seconds, even if unconsciously, as to our background, trustworthiness, and professionalism simply by the way we look, speak and move. Fair or not, salespeople should pay extra attention to this and leverage it to produce better results as part of their sales process improvement routine.... read more

Sales Training Skills – Growing Your Business by Referrals

June 11, 2012

Looking for an easy way to grow your business? Want leads that are already informed about your company and ready to buy? Look no further than the power of referrals. In today’s competitive business world, you need every edge you can get and having prior customers recommend your product or services will provide you with the leg up on your competition.... read more

How to Make More Money Using a Formal Sales Process

June 6, 2012

Salespeople are in the fortunate position of being almost fully in control of their earning power. While external factors, such as a recession, competitors, and government regulations do of course play their parts, in reality fortunes are made in sales even when those conditions are present. The difference in those that make the big money, and those that don’t, lies in the actions each performs on a daily basis.... read more

Sales Training Skills: Become the Problem Solver

May 29, 2012

One of the first things you will learn as a sales person is the power of consultative selling. Unlike other types of selling, this method relies on providing solutions and acting as a trusted consultant to your client. Once you’ve developed this kind of relationship, the selling portion of the process becomes very easy, in fact, you won’t even have to do anything special once you’ve reached this point.... read more

Improve Your Attitude – And Your Closing Ratio!

May 21, 2012

Sales can be a tough profession, full of pressures from management seeking to drive revenue, difficult customers, and income woes if there are insufficient closings in any given month. It is no wonder a 2011 Harvard University study reports that roughly 30% of the nation’s sales force quits every year. Despite these challenges, salespeople employing a consultative selling process must maintain a positive attitude or risk alienating a prospect or losing their business.... read more

Prospecting for Dollars – 5 Tips to Generate a Steady Stream of Leads

May 17, 2012

The lifeblood of every sales style, including consultative selling, is having a steady flow of prospects in order to build a pipeline of potential closings.  Without continuous prospecting, even leading companies will suffer from stagnation as customers are lost to competition, macroeconomic conditions, or other factors.... read more

Small Business Growth Strategies: 5 Reasons to Start an Inbound Marketing Program

May 14, 2012

Many small businesses have embraced inbound marketing as an effective way to increase their revenue. According to a report by eMarketer, 36% of small businesses are using Search Engine Optimization to grow their businesses and 35% are using social media. However, if roughly 35% of small businesses are using inbound marketing tactics, 65% are not.... read more

How to Ask the Right Questions to Overcome Sales Objections

May 7, 2012

During sales training, one adjustment that often has to take place in salespeople is to reduce the amount of time spent talking and increase the amount of time spent listening. Through listening, we find out about the prospect and her business, and determine the best way to address her concerns with our offerings. In every sales cycle, however, the comes a time when the salesperson must quickly switch gears and actively do some talking — and one of those times is when the buyer throws out an objection.... read more

Optimize Your Sales Process with Courage

May 3, 2012

Many hopeful men and women become involved in sales work with visions of closing big deals and earning top dollars. Unfortunately, a large number of them never realize these dreams. It is estimated that the sales profession experiences a 30 percent annual turnover, according to a 2011 Harvard University study of 100,000 business to business salespeople. This represents a massive waste of dollars in both onboarding expenses and opportunity costs as inept salespeople fail to close perfectly viable deals.... read more

5 Ways to Find the Right Marketing Message for Your Consultative Sales Process

April 30, 2012

Your marketing message has the potential to make or break your sales campaign. If you don’t have just the right message, you simply won’t reach your prospects in the way they need to be reached. Not only do you need to find the right way to impart your product or service’s benefits, you may also need to fine-tune your marketing message for each prospect.... read more

3 Tips to Overcome Negative Perceptions of Your Company or Product

April 26, 2012

In sales, external factors are less important to success than the actions performed by a salesperson. Meaning: even in a bad economy, with a high price-point and perhaps even an inferior product to the competition, salespeople can still win if they become extremely competent and knowledgeable about their tools and products. However, one external factor does present a real barrier regardless of the salesperson’s competence — and that is a bad reputation regarding her company or product.... read more

Become A Trusted Advisor by Using a Consultative Sales Process

April 22, 2012

In examining the various styles of salesmanship, it can be seen that there has been a major shift over the past few decades from the used car salesman or slick stockbroker approach, which can be expressed as “hook ‘em, get the money…and run,” to a more consultative style.  This style relies less on overwhelming the prospect with the pitch and more on becoming an expert advisor to the prospect that builds trust in order to win the business.  This new approach pays off in many ways, not limited to glowing recommendations and reduced marketing expense as clients are not “churned and burned,” but instead come back for more.... read more

5 Easy Ways to Build Rapport With Your Prospects

April 18, 2012

Handling prospects often requires a consultative sales process. This is a needs-based approach that requires a strong relationship between the sales person and the prospect. This relationship must be built on trust and that can often be a difficult commodity to come by in today’s marketplace.... read more

Research Your Prospects to Improve Your Sales Process

April 12, 2012

If you are noticing that your sales numbers are lagging, or you just can’t seem to meet your goals, it is vital to take a look at how you are selling and how you are handling your prospects.  Thoroughly researching your prospects is a necessary part of sales process improvement.  Let’s take a look at a few easy ways that you can find the gold hidden in your prospect list.... read more

Know When to Close: The Importance of the Buyer’s Shift

April 9, 2012

Sales training often concentrates on the beginning of the sales funnel, stressing activities such as marketing, prospecting and presenting. Some even get as far as drilling on handling objections. Too many salespeople are therefore only competent at finding people to sell and presenting, but cannot “seal the deal” when the moment of truth comes, costing both their commission and the firm’s lifeblood — revenue.... read more

Rank Prospects in Your Consultative Sales Process

April 5, 2012

New prospects are the lifeblood of your company, but not all prospects are equal. In order to utilize your time wisely, it is vital to set up a ranking system for your prospects and then allocate the time you spend.... read more

Customer Complaints are Sales Gold – Use Them!

March 29, 2012

Success in sales is largely determined by the actions taken on a daily basis, and these in turn derive from a blend of the salesperson’s knowledge and attitude.  Basic attitude directs how situations are approached and is probably the single largest factor in whether a salesperson does the effective thing or sits idly by while business goes to the competition.... read more

Three Ways to Leverage Account Management to Develop More Business

March 25, 2012

Account servicing might be looked at as simply a time consuming, unproductive activity by both salespeople and their managers, unless a major fire has to be put out to prevent an account from being lost. After all — as most top sales trainers teach — the top money making activity is actively selling, not doing administrative work. With a shift in approach, however, account servicing can be quite rewarding as far as generating more leads and business.... read more

The Importance of a High-Quality Sales Process in Driving Sales

March 21, 2012

A 2011 survey of 80,000 business customers performed by H.R. Chally Group indicates that the most important factor in choosing a vendor for their purchasing solutions is the salesperson’s competence. This tops the suitability of the offering, product quality, and price, and indicates that any sales process improvement is very worthwhile. Research reveals, however, that a sizeable majority of companies lack a standardized sales process and methodology—one of the biggest contributors in the success of a salesperson.... read more

Consultative Selling – It’s Not About You!

March 15, 2012

The term “consultative sales process” frequently gets bandied about without much understanding. A salesperson, especially a rookie, might tend to assume that it means to simply adopt some professional-type mannerism and tell the prospect that, as their consultant, they recommend such-and-such product. While adopting an air of authority and professionalism does not hurt, the backbone of the consultative sales process is to shift focus from the product and “the pitch” over to the prospect.... read more

Listen to Improve Your Consultative Sales Process

March 12, 2012

One of the basic truisms used in training sales people to develop a consultative sales process is “sell people how they wish to be sold, rather than the way you want to sell them.” This requires, for some, a dramatic shift in how they view the sales cycle and, even more fundamentally, how they communicate with people in general. The biggest skill most salespeople need to develop to truly excel in this type of selling is simply the ability to listen.... read more

Increase Sales Optimization Through Organizational Growth

February 29, 2012

Successful businesses will strive for growth. Sales optimization will improve if a company’s reach and abilities are not static. For small businesses, growth represents potential in several areas, including increased survival rate, greater profits, and marketplace power. There are many ways to measure growth, with profitability being the leading indicator. Sales, number of employees, and increased market share are other parameters used to determine growth.

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Sales Optimization Through Value-Added Selling

February 24, 2012

In a competitive marketplace, how do you differentiate your offerings from all of the others? You can achieve sales optimization by clearly defining the attributes that make your product or service better, or worth the price. This is known as value-added selling.

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Top Ten Skills of “Super Salespeople”: Sales Training to Inspire Them

February 21, 2012

The numbers say it all. There are millions of people in sales. A recent US census reveals that there were 25 million B2B salespeople. How many of them are top-notch? A Harvard study shows that 4% of the country’s salespeople sell the vast majority of the country’s goods and services. This indicates that roughly one million sales people are top producers. Many reach this goal through effective sales training.

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Add Prospect Personality Assessment to Your Sales Training

February 6, 2012

You’ve identified a prospect and are ready to begin your sales process. You have great product knowledge, you have information about the prospect’s needs, you may have even begun to formulate your opening pitch. But what happens if your style of communication, or area of focus doesn’t sit well with your contact? Psychology may not have been part of your sales training, but being able to make an assessment of personality types can help you to avoid making a negative first impression.... read more

Personality Types: How They Impact Your Sales Process

January 30, 2012

Knowing what sort of personality you are dealing with has an impact on your sales process. Understanding how to approach different personalities requires an assessment on your part, and that assessment will drive your choices when it comes to communication, style, and timing.
    Just as there are no two snowflakes that are alike, people are unique. And it is safe to say, that typically people fall into one of 4 categories when it comes to basic personality types. The details of how they behave and respond to things, and why they do so, can be traced back to these personality types. We have already examined two of these… the Driver and the Motivator. Now we’ll be looking at the Thinkers, and what makes them tick.
      The Thinker
      As the name implies, this is a person prone to serious thought before action. A Thinker is not impulsive. Their low Ego Drive is best suited for a sales process that includes preparation, organization, and detailed analysis. A Thinker prefers a step-by-step methodical approach. Their low Empathy keeps them from being distracted by personal relationships. Some examples of some well-known Thinkers are CEO and Chairman of Microsoft Bill Gates, economist Alan Greenspan, and professional golfer Tiger Woods.
        A Thinker is an analytical person who needs structure and procedure. They thrive on details and can process a lot of information. Often seen as a perfectionist, the Thinker is deep, thoughtful, careful and conservative by nature. Thinkers can also be skeptical and therefore want the whole story. Motivated by security, they are slow talkers, systematic, and even- paced. Possessing a cool demeanor, the Thinker hates to be wrong, and will respect people who provide them with thorough analysis and organized background information. Emotions or feeling aspects of a situation do not resonate.
          Recognizing a Thinker
          You will know you are dealing with a Thinker when you see or experience the following:
          • greet you with formality and without enthusiasm
          • show no emotion or facial expression
          • has a neat, organized workspace and conservative dress
          • overly cautious, writes things down/takes notes
          • over-analyzes before speaking – says “I think” rather than “I feel”
          • wants facts, figures and details
          • skeptical of others intentions and insensitive to other’s needs
          Getting a decision
          While it may seem a less than welcoming situation when dealing with a Thinker, there are some do’s and don’ts that can help you navigate their territory. Keeping these points in mind can increase your chances for a successful sale.
            • be well organized and on time
            • prepared with detailed analysis
            • provide written materials and thorough research in advance
            • be patient, persistent and polite
            • provide facts and numbers, be accurate, don’t exaggerate
            • follow through on promises; missing a deadline is seen as an affront
            • close only after addressing all concerns
            • get in their space or lean forward
            • be casual, loud, overly friendly or emotional or expressive
            • waste time with small talk or jump from subject to subject
            • be disorganized or messy
            • try to rush decision making
            Presentations and meetings with a Thinker require a lot of preparation, so take extra time to prepare your approach and cover all of your bases.
              Using a bit of psychology and personality assessment in your sales process can go a long way towards making the right connection with your prospect. The success of that connection could determine whether or not you achieve your sales goal.
                Next time we will introduce you to our final personality type, the Supporter, and help you to prepare for dealing with them. Until then, let us know what type of personality you are, and what works for you.
                  Or, for more on improving your sales process, contact us today.
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                  Assessing Buyer Personality as Part of Your Sales Process Steps

                  January 27, 2012

                  You’ve done your research and learned about your prospect’s company and their needs. What else can you do to prepare for your meetings? Using a little psychology with your sales process steps is something to consider. Understanding what type of personality you’ll be dealing with can mean the difference between a struggle for closing, and success.
                    Last week we introduced you to the Driver personality type and how to recognize and approach them. This week, we will provide some insight into the Motivator.
                      The Motivator:
                      These people are characterized by a high Ego drive and high Empathy which motivates them towards meeting and entertaining others. Their high Ego results in impatience and the need to be socially active. The high Empathy factor makes them relationship centered, giving them a desire to relate to others. Some examples of well-known Motivators are former President Bill Clinton, actor/comedians Jim Carrey and Robin Williams, and Oprah Winfrey.
                        Motivators are expressive, personable, outgoing and magnetic people. They are demonstrative, talkative and have a good sense of humor. You will also see these qualities:
                          • fast-paced, energetic and goal oriented
                          • thrive on options, plans, and change
                          • creative “big picture” types that are not always strong with follow-through
                          • avoid details
                          • desire to please, fun to work with
                          • innovative, interactive, articulate, and cooperative
                          Motivators are great communicators who like selling and influencing others.
                          These high-energy, likable people can be enjoyable, but may also make you feel as though you’re on a wild ride. You know you’re meeting with a Motivator when you receive an enthusiastic greeting. They will stand close to you, lean forward when they speak, and demonstrate active and expressive body movements. Take a look around their workspace and you will see personal information, possibly even some toys. Other traits include:
                            • open and friendly – like to talk about their personal life.
                            • shift subjects frequently
                            • poor listener, easily bored
                            • not good at time management
                            • rely on hunches
                            Getting a decision from a Motivator:
                            Be aware of the motivator’s style, likes, and dislikes and you could have the inside track in effective communication with this type of prospect. As with any type, there are certain do’s and don’ts for interaction.
                              • greet them informally and with enthusiasm
                              • use examples and stories
                              • compliment them and drop names if appropriate
                              • be ready for a shift in direction and support their ideas
                              • be patient, allow them to consider options
                              • stay with the big picture
                              • provide testimonials from people they perceive as important
                              • allow them to talk about themselves and to express feelings and opinions
                              • be interesting and entertaining, but brief
                                • put up barriers or be cold or tight-lipped
                                • control the conversation or cut them off
                                • emphasize facts, figures, or abstractions
                                • provide unnecessary detail
                                • be competitive or argumentative
                                Motivators don’t like making decisions. Allowing them to come to a decision in their time, and without too much distraction with details, will increase your chances for success.
                                  Next we will examine the Thinker personality and how best to approach them.
                                    For more on understanding personality types as part of your sales process steps, contact us today.
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                                    Assessing Buyer’s Personalitites, What Your Sales Training May Not Have Taught You

                                    January 25, 2012

                                    Your sales training has helped you to identify your company’s products or services, and to craft a solid, persuasive argument. Is this enough to make you a truly effective sales person? There is one part of the equation that is often left out, and that is reading people. Understanding, and being able to tailor your approach to different personality typesrequires insight. It may also require an assessment made while in the midst of an initial encounter.
                                      Over the next several weeks, we will take a look at the 4 main personality types we evaluate, and will look at how to appeal to them for better sales optimization. First, we will examine the “Driver” personality.
                                        The Driver:
                                        This person focuses on the results, rather than the process. Their high Ego drive and low empathy can cause impatience and keeps them from being distracted by personal relationships. These are characteristics you’ll see in a Driver personality.
                                        • They tend to be dominating and competitive.
                                        • You’ll recognize them because they are often fast-talking, high-energy types who are impatient and have a short attention span.
                                        • These folks are results oriented and prefer to talk about the bottom line.
                                        • A Driver is decisive.
                                          Recognizing a Driver:
                                          When you have your first meeting with a prospect, scan their workspace or office to get a read on what type of personality they reveal. A Driver’s space will be formal, sometimes cold with few personal items.
                                            Their greeting will be formal and may lack charm. Watch them and take note of their facial and body movements.Driver’s will be non-expressive. You will note that they are direct and to-the-point. If you find they do a lot of the talking, it is because they typically have poor listening skills. They are also opinionated.
                                              Getting a decision from a Driver:
                                              There are certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to selling to a Driver.
                                              • Use spoken, rather than written communication
                                              • Be punctual and precise
                                              • Maintain eye contact and exude confidence
                                              • Be clear, specific, brief, and to the point
                                              • Stick to the big picture
                                              • Come with organized support material
                                              • Let them control the sales interview and tell you what they want
                                              • Selling points – money, time, power, status, efficiency
                                              • Allow them to make the decision via choices
                                              • Tell them about other high-profile decision makers who do business with you.
                                              • Get in their space by leaning forward
                                              • Appear disorganized
                                              • Leave any issues cloudy or with loopholes
                                              • Talk about details
                                              • Emphasize a personal relationship
                                              • Exaggerate features or benefits
                                                Be sure to check with us next week for insights into another business personality type.
                                                  For more details on this subject and it’s importance to your sales training, contact us today.
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