CustomerCentric Selling® Sales Training Blog

Sales Insight into "No-Brainers"

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 30, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Sales Insight: Why You Should Never Use the Term "No-Brainers"

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Imagery Majestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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As a sales manager, there were occasions when sellers referred to opportunities as “no-brainers”. The inference was that offerings were so compelling, that buyers had no choice but to buy. Looking back, many no-brainers didn’t close. As with many selling issues, the problem is that this term is taken from an inside-out view rather than an outside-in customer/buyer perspective. It reflects an attitude of: Why wouldn’t they buy?

As described in Chapter 4 of the second edition of CustomerCentric Selling®, seller opinions about forecasting opportunities are unreliable. We suggest following Ronald Regan’s “trust but verify” philosophy. Calling opportunities no-brainers reflects the opinions of sellers that hope to get the business. Further drill-down is needed.

Ask sellers reporting to you: Why will the buyer spend the money? It’s a subtle but important shift because the seller is forced to attempt to take the buyer’s perspective. When executing CCS®, answers provided by buyers can be summarized in emails to buyers and then confirmed. Ask sellers how the highest level they’ve called on in a given opportunity would answer the following questions:

  • What business outcomes/goals do they want to achieve by using your offering?
  • For each goal, what are the reasons the goal can’t be achieved today (without your offering)?
  • What capabilities that you can provide address these reasons?
  • What is the value of achieving the goal(s) vs. the cost of your offering?

As a sales manager, if the debriefing questions are documented and agreed-to by buyers I’d have a much better feeling that an opportunity is qualified. That said, there are many potential twists and turns. Competitors vie for the business. Logic, egos, emotion, personal agendas, risk, politics and committee decisions come into play. Business priorities change. Buyers opting to make “no decision” should always be considered an option.

Buyers don’t view large expenditures as no-brainers. Sellers and managers shouldn’t either.

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tip: Understand the Value of Your Offering to Your Prospect

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 28, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Sales Tip: Understand the Value of Your Offering to Your Prospect

By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of MisterMong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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“Do you understand the value of your offering to your prospect?”

I had a client who sold a software application that enabled petroleum engineers to analyze seismic and geological data to make informed oil and gas exploration and drilling decisions. The cost of the application was $15,000. They struggled to sell it, and when they did, it was often at a deep discount. 

Even with little knowledge of the oil business, do you think it would cost more than $15,000 to drill a well? And if you could prevent the drilling of an unproductive well based upon a low probability of finding gas and oil deposits, do you think it could save at least $15,000? Inversely, if you could select the most promising sites and enhance the probability of drilling a productive well, what would a typical well be worth? Do you think that would be worth a $15,000 investment? 

It was this type of conversation that the company's salespeople learned to have after attending our workshop that allowed them to begin to understand the value the prospect organization could realize from a relatively small investment. They had an epiphany! As a result, they modified their approach to their market. They began prospecting and selling to VPs of exploration, changed their packaging to five (5) user increments, raised the price to $75,000 and enjoyed record sales. More importantly, when the customer demanded a discount at the time of purchase, the first reason the salesperson gave for not being able to entertain such a request was the enormous value that the customer indicated they would derive from purchasing and using my client's offering.

If your product or service offered real value in good economic times, it offers even greater value in today's uncertain economy. Knowing the potential value that your customer will receive through the use of your offering will give you confidence, courage and a legitimate business reason to say 'no' to a request for a discount.

 

buttonNeed some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Submitting Proposals

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 22, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Submitting That Proposal

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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My observation is that a high percentage of proposals are provided too soon. In the random world of sales, tangible events are welcome. Many sellers view proposals as being steps toward getting orders. They can be, but I’d suggest some questions before issuing them:

  1. Has a cost vs. benefit been created that justifies the expenditure you’re asking for?
  2. Is the person you’re giving the proposal to able to fund the initiative?
  3. How many of the people that may be in the buying committee have you spoken with?
  4. Do buyers understand the outcomes they are looking to achieve with your offering?
  5. Do buyers understand the reasons they can’t achieve those outcomes without your offering?
  6. Can buyers articulate specific capabilities within your offering will that address the reasons?
  7. Have the buyers been provided with documented results other companies have achieved with your offering?
  8. Will the proposal be forwarded to any people you haven’t already spoken with?
  9. Do buyers have everything needed to make a buying decision?
  10. Why are you issuing the proposal now?

Sellers give up a great deal of control once proposals are issued. Response times to requests often go from hours to days because buyers have everything they need. Once a proposal has been out for a week or two, buyers don’t want to feel pressured because they’ve not yet made decisions.

Given a choice, my preference would be to err on the side of providing a proposal too late rather than too early. Have a look at your pipeline and circle the opportunities where proposals have been issued and there has been not activity/contact in the last 30 days. 

Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique, proposals

Sales Tips: How to Respond to "How Much Is It?"

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 16, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Respond When Asked for Pricing

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Many sellers hurt their chances of winning opportunities by providing pricing too soon. Often these are self-inflicted wounds caused by mentioning products prematurely that prompts buyers to ask:  How much is it?  The underlying issue is that before establishing value, any pricing that’s shared is going to seem high.

If buyers ask about pricing before value has been established, my suggestion is to indicate that you would prefer to better understand their needs before giving an estimated price. That will usually be deemed reasonable. If buyers persist, you have a choice:

  1. Provide a range of costs
  2. Provide a “not to exceed cost”

I prefer the latter because in my experience, weeks later buyers invariably remember the lower number when given a range.

Once value has been established, sellers should consider providing estimated costs. Price is a qualifier and buyers should be aware of “ballpark” pricing relatively early in buying cycles to minimize the chance of wasting their time and the sellers’ time. 

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique, pricing

Sales Tips: How to Handle "Give Me Your Best and Final" Pricing

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 9, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Handle "Give Me Your Best and Final" Pricing

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Non-Key Players often ask sellers for “best and final” pricing. If a number is quoted, sellers cede control as well as margins. In some cases they meet later with decision makers only to find the starting point for further negotiation is the “best and final” figure quoted. Any further discounting means it wasn’t your best price. Once you start down that road, it’s a slippery slope.

Before giving a best and final number, a question can help keep sellers from getting backed into a corner:  Am I the vendor of choice, and is price the only remaining obstacle to doing business?

Common answers and suggested responses:

  • NoIt looks as though you have more work to do in making a decision. Why don’t we leave price as an open item. If and when you decide you would like to do business, I can bring my manager to meet with (the decision maker) and you to see if we can come to terms.
  • YesCan you schedule a meeting with (the decision maker) so that we can attempt to reach an agreement?

It takes some courage not to discount if the buyer’s response is:  No. That said, if you aren’t the vendor of choice, you run the risk of putting a low-ball number on the street that probably won’t get you the business and has the potential to cause you problems in future transactions. If you are the vendor of choice, the buyer will come back to you.

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips to Boost the Second Half of Your 2014

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 2, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Boost the Remainder of Your 2014

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

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Early in my sales management career, I was astounded by how hopeful salespeople were that had achieved 35% of their annual quota going into the fourth quarter. Most came far short of their numbers for the year. Those that squeaked through were faced with a mountain to climb the following year as they started the New Year with little or nothing that was closeable in the first quarter.

Train wrecks happen a month at a time. With the second quarter of 2014 just ending, my advice to sellers and their managers is to start looking a sales cycle ahead every month to optimize the chance that there’s enough in the pipeline. My suggestion is to try to be realistic vs. optimistic:

  • Withdraw proposals that are over 90 days old. Sellers often assume an unrealistic percentage of these will close. Politely withdrawing them offers two benefits:

    • A more realistic view in removing unqualified opportunities from pipelines.
    • In some cases buyers may still be interested and otherwise dormant opportunities can be revived.

  • With ongoing opportunities, try to determine when buyers want to make decisions and see if a written Sequence of Events (SOE) with activities and dates can be negotiated.

  • On an ongoing basis, do the math as to how many new opportunities must be found each month to reasonably cover your monthly revenue objective.

  • If/when sellers fall below YTD, tweak activity levels to make up the shortfall.

Scrambling in the last quarter is stressful for everyone involved. Take action now while there’s still time to get YTD or better.

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, boost sales, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: Accelerating Sales and Buying Cycles

Posted by Jill Perez on Jun 26, 2014 2:01:47 PM

Sales Tips: How to Accelerate Sales and Buying Cycles

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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As a general rule, sellers push to get orders earlier than buyers are ready to make decisions. Sellers are under monthly, quarterly and annual quota pressure. Discounts offered to get decisions made for a given month or quarter can result in three (3) outcomes: 

  •       Sellers get transactions and lower revenue
  •       Buyers don’t purchase and expect discounts weeks later
  •       Sellers push so hard buyers decide not to buy

Many sellers fail to establish value. If and when they are successful in doing so, buyers have an incentive to make earlier decisions.

Imagine you just bought an older home needing $200K in improvements but you only have $100K to spend. Most likely you would prioritize the sequence of the work to be done. Before you begin spending your money, a salesperson raises a concern about energy costs causing you to realize the 45-year old furnace in your basement is far more inefficient than current models. In reviewing the previous owner’s heating bills you conclude a new furnace would pay for itself in the first year. You re-juggle your improvement list to free up the needed $7,500 now. 

In early September you sign an agreement with ABC Energy Inc. and the seller informs you that they will deliver and install the furnace in mid-May. Your response:  Be here with the furnace next week or I’ll call the BCD Energy Company! 

Once buyers or committees recognize delays mean lost savings or revenue, they don’t want to delay. Sellers that establish and document potential buyer savings can create situations where both parties want to get decisions made without dragging things along. 

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique, sales cycles, buying cycles

Sales Tips: How to Leverage Your Unique Capabilities

Posted by Jill Perez on Jun 20, 2014 5:30:00 PM

Sales Tips: How to Leverage Your Unique Capabilities

By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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When your buyer is contemplating which vendor best meets their needs, do you want to be lumped together with all of the other vendors that are competing for their business? Or would you like to be viewed as a provider of unique capabilities that they must have in order to: achieve a goal, solve a problem, and/or satisfy a need?

If you haven't already done so:

    1. Make a list of those features/functions that are unique to your offering. What are those things that your offering alone can provide?
    2. Determine in advance how you will introduce them into your sales conversation (by using plausible emergency questions).
    3. During your conversations determine how your buyer operates today without your unique capability(ies) and determine what the value would be to them, the organization, if they were in possession of that capability today.

Buyers are taught to position every product as a commodity; something they can obtain from any comparable vendor as a tactic to get a lower price. If you can leverage your unique capabilities, you can begin to:

    • differentiate your offering from your competitor's
    • eliminate potential competition
    • prevent yourself from being treated like a commodity, and
    • arm yourself with a legitimate business reason not to agree to a request for a discount.

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Qualification: Don't Talk, Just Point!

Posted by Jill Perez on Jun 18, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Sales Qualification: Don't Talk, Just Point!

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Qualifying opportunities can be a vexing ongoing problem for sales managers. This issue rolls up to senior executives that need top line revenue visibility to project earnings. Organizations without a tactical sales process often rely upon the opinions of salespeople under pressure to show adequate pipelines. Sellers that aren’t YTD against quota become overly optimistic.

There are four (4) pre-requisites to improving pipeline accuracy and visibility: 

  1. Defined pipeline milestones (often multiple sets of milestones are needed based upon opportunity sizes and types).
  2. A standard skill set for salespeople so they can execute the process.
  3. Consistent positioning of offerings by mapping capabilities to business outcomes.
  4. Auditable documentation that reflects buyer actions to validate that milestones have been achieved.

0-pointingA CEO of one of my clients enlarged a graphic of the CustomerCentric Selling® (CCS®) process and displayed it prominently in his office. He had tired of getting lengthy answers when sellers or managers were asked about the status of transactions that often could make or break a quarter.

After sellers and managers attended CCS® workshops, he had two (2) rules when they were asked the status of opportunities:

  1. No talking allowed.
  2. Point on the process map to indicate where things stood.

This philosophy was consistent with my experience as a sales manager and executive in that the longer the answer was to where opportunities stood, the less confident I felt about them.

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, sales pipelines, sales qualification, qualifying opportunities

Sales Tips: How to Leverage Thunder and Lightning in Prospecting

Posted by Jill Perez on Jun 16, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Sales Tips and Techniques: How to Use "Thunder and Lightning" to Improve Prospecting and Business Development

By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“I’ve heard about Thunder and Lightning.  What is it?”

Tell me if this, or something like this, has ever happened to you.  You’re sitting at your desk working on a project or assignment when you realize that you don’t have all of the information you need to continue. You ask yourself how you can get the information quickly, then it dawns on you that one of your coworkers has the information you need. You quickly pick up your telephone and dial his number.  It rings, rings, rings and you finally receive a voicemail greeting advising you that your coworker is not available, inviting you to leave a voicemail following the beep.  Disappointed, you leave your message: “John, it’s Gary.  I’m 0-thunder-lightningworking on a project against a deadline.  You have information that I need in order to complete it.  Please call me as soon as you get this message.”  Concerned that John may not check his voice messages or that he is out of the office, you draft a quick email:  “John, I don’t know if you’re in your office, but I just called and finished leaving you a voice message.  I’m working on a project, trying to meet a deadline, and you have critical information that I need in order to complete it.  Please call me as soon as you get this message.”  You press “Send.”   Remaining concerned, you sit back in your chair and begin thinking about how to proceed without the needed information when all of a sudden your phone rings.  It’s John: “Sorry I wasn’t available when you called; I was tied up.  However, I just saw your email message and wanted to get back to you.  What information are you looking for?”

I’m going to assume that the scenario I just described (working on a project, missing information) is not identical to what you may have experienced.  But perhaps you've needed to speak with someone, a prospect, placed a telephone call, left a voice message, and then concerned that your voice message may not be retrieved, sent off a quick email - and within seconds you received a telephone call or email from the person you were trying to reach.  Has this ever happened to you?

I call this method of using the telephone and email synchronously, “Thunder and Lightning.” You’ve heard the expression, “The whole is greater than the sum of it parts.”  This is a perfect example.  You will find that when you leave a carefully crafted, short telephone script, followed instantly and synchronously with an aligned and carefully crafted email, your ability to get your prospect to engage with you improves exponentially.  Go ahead, try it and see.

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, sales prospecting, business development, prospecting, prospecting skills

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