CustomerCentric Selling® Sales Training Blog

Sales Tips: Strive for R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 24, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Sales Tips: Strive for Respect and Level the Playing Field

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

Image courtesy of PinkBlue at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

0-respect-trustEleanor Roosevelt has been quoted as saying: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." In the first few minutes of meeting executives, many sellers feel they must win them over, resulting in efforts that can appear forced to get buyers to like them. My question: If you’ve ever tried to get someone to like you, how did it go?

When meeting peers, decisions about liking people evolve over time. Sellers may feel pressure because they have a finite time in the initial call to establish a relationship.

Executive buyers enjoy many advantages when dealing with sellers. They decide whether to meet, can end calls at any time and ultimately control the checkbook. In my mind, competent sellers have two (2) major assets in their arsenals to level the playing field with executives:

  1. They are subject matter experts about their offerings, but at executive levels it is necessary to go beyond product knowledge. Superior sellers understand and can articulate title-specific business outcomes that can be achieved through the use of their offerings.

  2. They can help buyers establish and understand potential value (savings minus cost) to make it more likely that expenditures will ultimately be made.

Over time, being respected and being liked are not mutually exclusive. In an initial meeting I feel sellers would be better served to strive to earn executives’ respect.

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

Sales Tips: The Benefits to Having an "Enterprise" View

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 17, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: The Potential Benefits to an "Enterprise" View

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

Image courtesy of Stock Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

0-meeting-roomIn past blogs I’ve shared my opinion that it’s unlikely that people doing extensive research on offerings via vendor Websites are executives. Their interests and viewpoints tend to be from personal, user or departmental perspectives. A Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) study showed over 50% of sales cycles that end with sellers involved, result in buyers making “no decision.” I believe a major contributor is a lack of compelling business cases.

When trying to justify expenditures, a seller’s challenge in complex sales is to provide an enterprise view of value. Consider a seller’s software that could measure usage and age of capital equipment and predict when to perform maintenance to avoid outages.

Let’s assume the seller only called on the maintenance department, and the manager of the department readily saw that maintenance costs could be reduced. The seller provided a proposal and nothing happened. Why? One reason could be that the recommendation reflected a departmental view of the maintenance group and never uncovered other potential benefits. 

If the seller could have taken it a step further to help buyers realize unscheduled down time could be avoided, then other Key Players within an enterprise that could become stakeholders and derive benefit include:

  • The Production Manager could improve uptime, reduce overtime and meet production schedules.
  • The Plant Manager could lower operating expenses and meet shipment schedules.
  • The VP Sales could avoid lost customers due to production delays caused by outage.
  • The CFO could improve margins by virtue of reducing costs and revenue shortfalls caused by outages.
  • The CEO could report stronger earnings and top line revenue to drive the company’s valuation higher.

The price quoted would be the same whether it was in a proposal to the Maintenance Manager or the committee of Key Players. An enterprise view makes the buying decision far easier.

Competent B2B sellers that get involved in buying cycles provide all parties an early qualification check: Is there sufficient value to justify the cost of the offering being considered? Without an answer to that question “no decision” seems more likely than getting funding.

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.

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Business Radio X Talks Sales with Frank Visgatis

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 12, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Special Feature: Business Radio X Talks Sales with Frank Visgatis

Recording of live broadcast from Business Radio studios in Atlanta, Georgia.

business-radio-x-frank-1Listen to the recording of Business Radio X's live interview with Frank Visgatis, President & COO of CustomerCentric Selling® from their studios in Atlanta, Georgia.

Listen Here

 

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales methodology, sales tip

Sales Tips: "Search and Replace" These 2 Common Terms

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 10, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: "Search and Replace" These Two Common Terms

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

Image courtesy of Stock Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

0-taped-mouthAs a new hire I attended monthly meetings at the IBM Branch Office in Hamden, CT. To avoid a wardrobe gaff my mentor suggested dressing as though I were attending a funeral. For the first several months it sounded like a meeting in the United Nations building. I would have appreciated a headset with translations of all the acronyms and product and feature names that were so prevalent. It caused me to wonder what impression a prospect wandering in off the street would have.

With that as a backdrop I wanted to offer two minor “search and replace” changes that may help your sellers appear more customer-centric. My concern is that terms used internally by sales management and sellers may be used externally with prospects and customers.

The first is the word “deal.” That word stirs up lingering memories of interactions in car dealerships. In any selling situation, words or phrases that remind buyers of car salesmen are probably better not used. A far safer substitute is “transaction.” It certainly will work internally. Externally, I hope you’d agree you’d rather hear a seller ask: Would it be possible to complete this transaction before year-end? rather than: Would it be possible to complete this deal before year-end?

The second is the phrase “sales cycle.” My suggested substitute is “buying cycle.” While subtle, at least it has internal staff looking outward vs. inward and realizing a human being is going to be faced with making a decision to spend money. It also is consistent with the fact that most people prefer to buy rather than being sold. Sales cycles are more about the vendor with the buyer being another notch in the belt.

It’s unlikely that adopting either or both suggestions will have a significant impact, but avoiding a term car salespeople use and putting buyers first seems to be pointing your team in a better direction.

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

Sales Tip: Don't Forget this Important Player in Buying Decisions

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 3, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Sales Tip: Don't Forget Value's Role in Buying Decisions

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

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

0-cost-ben-analysisOne of the core concepts of CustomerCentric Selling® is:  People make emotional decisions for logical reasons. There are many instances when sellers are not privy to all the emotional components of buying decisions.

An important logical reason for doing business is a compelling cost vs. benefit. In many cases it seems the seller is trying to tell buyers how good it’s going to be and base that on industry statistics and potential improvement. As it relates to value, often both parties aren’t on the same page.

The numbers used in any cost vs. benefit must be the buyer’s opinion if they are used to justify the expenditure. We suggest that for each Key Player in a buying committee, sellers should list the desired business outcomes (goals) and wherever possible have the buyer establish a base line of where they are without using your offering. After presenting documented results your customers have achieved, ask the buyer to estimate what improvement they feel is possible. 

Register Now for Reducing the Pain of Prospecting: Approaches and Tactics to Help You Better Engage with Your Buyers on October 21st at 11am EST.

For enterprise decisions, the cost vs. benefit is a summary of projected improvement of each committee member’s desired outcomes. Doing cost vs. benefit analyses in this manner: 

  • Is a major step in qualifying opportunities
  • Gives buyers a better chance to fund initiatives
  • Helps buyers understand the cost of delaying decisions
  • Provides buyers a logical reason for making purchases

Sellers often overlook that they compete for funding with other sellers that aren’t competitors. Assume for a minute you are one of five non-competing vendors that have quoted about $100K for their offerings and the financial approver only has $300K that can be spent. Only one vendor had included a cost vs. benefit analysis in their proposal. How much higher are the chances that seller will be one of the three that will get good news?

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

Sales Prospecting: Is Cold Calling Dead?

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 27, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Sales Prospecting: Is Cold Calling Dead?

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

Image courtesy of Pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

0-rip-phoneMany prospects that have answered cold calls probably hope the rumor is true and are actively trying to spread it. Getting executives interested in discussing offerings is one of the hardest tasks sellers are told to do. That mindset crystalizes the crux of the problem and sets most sellers up for failure. Executives able to spend unbudgeted funds have little interest in learning about offerings.

In the first minute or less, the challenge is getting executive buyers interested in improving business results through the use of a seller’s offerings. Few sellers are capable of getting buyers to share their business goals in a brief phone conversation. Without identified business goals there is no reason to engage with sellers. If a goal or problem is shared, the seller must understand the buyer’s needs before offerings are discussed.

After analyzing 15,000,000 dials and 770,000 conversations last year, a Miller Heiman Research Institute study concluded 8.5% of the sales professionals surveyed could be considered “world class.” The study also found average salespeople convert 4.76% of conversations into meetings and 5.91% of conversations into referrals. The figures for 

world class reps are 12.73% and 24.76%, respectively.

If traditional cold calling is dead or in critical condition, few can be sad about a fate it richly deserves. Averages sellers making sporadic attempts to contact executive buyers by leading with offerings will net a horribly low percentage of new opportunities. If you look at the numbers above for average sellers it is difficult to justify having average sellers do business development activities left to their own devices.

Making the challenge even more daunting is the AMA study that found it takes an average of 7.2 attempts to reach executives while at the same time discovering that few sellers made more than 3 attempts to contact prospects. 

What to do?
Here are a few suggestions to improve the fruits of business development (bus dev) by using best practices:

  • Provide sellers the titles they should be targeting for given offerings or verticals.
  • For each title create menus of business problems that your offering addresses.
  • Provide a series of scripts (phone and voicemail) and relevant collateral.
  • Combine phone, voicemail and email to create a series of touches that will be done over a finite period of time. Have each touch focus on a different business issue.
  • Define a lead as a title that admits one or more problems from their menu.

Inbound leads are often with companies that don’t fit your profile and buyers that are low entry points. Best practice outbound Bus Dev efforts allow vendors to target companies and titles that meet their criteria and should yield much higher close rates.

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 prospecting, prospecting, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

2 Sales Tips to Consider before Rushing to Issue Proposals

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 20, 2014 8:30:00 AM

STOP! Why Rush to Issue Proposals? Here Are 2 Sales Tips to Consider First

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

Image courtesy of Scott Chan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

0-stop-signIn my experience, most proposals are issued prematurely. Sellers view issuing proposals as a step toward the ultimate goal of obtaining orders. Proposals should provide buyers the information needed to make buying decisions. If the seller hasn’t had access to the decision maker, proposals can be a poor way to get those levels onboard.

Prior to buying, decision makers want to know:

  • Business outcomes that can be improved
  • Why those outcomes can’t be achieved without the offering being considered
  • What specific capabilities the offering provides to allow achievement of desired results
  • The cost vs. benefit (value)
  • Implementation efforts and support (if applicable)
  • Pricing and terms

Issuing proposals before these areas have been addressed often causes opportunities to stall. Many ultimately result in buyers making “no decision.”

Buyers don’t like premature closes because they feel pressured. Here are two suggestions before you issue proposals:

  1. Ask if the buyer is ready to buy. Proposals amount to asking for the business. Unless you’ve addressed all the issues listed above, you’ve got more work to do. This also provides a “sanity check” to validate that the buyer is ready to receive a proposal.
  2. See if buyers will agree to review a draft proposal to provide an opportunity to ensure the proposal reflects what they buyer wants/needs to see and make any necessary changes or additions.

Unlike fine wine, proposals don’t improve over time. After a month or so has passed, the chances of getting orders begin a slow fade. Months later sellers remove them from their forecasts. Having the patience to issue proposals when buyers are ready to buy can minimize the number of stagnant proposals in a seller’s pipeline.

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

Sales Tip: Do you want your buyers to like you or respect you?

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 13, 2014 9:30:00 AM

Do You Want Your Buyers to Like You or Respect You?

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

Image courtesy of Pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

0-liked-or-respectedHave you ever tried to get someone to like you? My wife and mother have tried for decades. It hasn’t been especially productive. When meeting executives for the first time, many sellers are anxious to make positive first impressions. Buyers are working from positions of power as they have granted you permission to meet and can terminate the call prematurely if it isn’t going well.

Consciously or subconsciously, some sellers decide their objective is to have buyers like them. By looking at a new relationship from this perspective, it makes sellers view themselves as subordinates. Consider for a moment how unlikely it is that the buyer is trying to get you to like them. 

Instead, it may get you to a better place if your first objective is to have buyers respect you. Especially when making Key Player calls, the source of your power lies in being a subject matter expert. Ideally your knowledge extends beyond the offering and you have the ability to uncover business outcomes that can be achieved through usage of your products and services.

Being liked and respected aren't mutually exclusive. Given a choice of which decision I’d like to have buyers make first, it would be respect.

 

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

Sales Tips for Decoding Procurement's Pricing Myth

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 6, 2014 11:30:00 AM

Inside Look for Sales: Decoding the Procurement Pricing Myth

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

blank-check-procurement

Few sellers look forward to working with procurement to finalize transactions. Besides delaying orders, agents have the advantage of being unaware and uninterested in knowing much about offerings, how badly they may be needed, potential paybacks, etc. They try to have sellers believe it’s all about price.

When buying commodities (products lacking differentiation), there are some areas of potential concern. Procurement doesn't want to choose vendors that: 

  • Provide poor quality
  • Don’t meet delivery commitments
  • Provide poor service
  • Try to enforce tight payment terms
  • Provide poor support

People within their organization are their customers and procurement wants to avoid any complaints about suppliers that are awarded transactions. With commodities they may well be able to dictate which vendor to do business with.

If a buying committee has done an extensive evaluation and has chosen a vendor whose offering and support are not commodities, the items listed above are in play but there is another concern for procurement. While they can ask for better pricing, they don’t want to alienate the seller. It isn’t an option to say they couldn’t come to terms with the committee’s vendor of choice and suggest choosing Vendor X.

If/when Procurement delays decisions, it’s helpful if sellers have gotten buyers to agree to a compelling cost vs. benefit.

ACTION: My suggestion is to:

  • call the most senior person involved in the buying decision
  • remind him or her of the potential value being deferred
  • ask if they can check with procurement to expedite the P.O.

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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 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

0-why-not

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

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