CustomerCentric Selling® Sales Training Blog

Sales Tips: Stop Relying on "In-Basket" Selling

Posted by Jill Perez on Oct 15, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Sales Tips: Don't Wait for Opportunities - Find Them

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

Image courtesy of StockImages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

0-lazy-happy-salesmanWebsite inquiries can be intoxicating for B2B vendors. My hope is that companies and sellers realize qualification efforts are necessary in following up on inbound leads to gain access to higher levels and establish value for offerings. Inbound activity seems to have reduced the focus on outbound reaches.

“In basket” selling occurs when started by inbound activity. Is it possible the deluge of Website visitors has caused a reduction in efforts to proactively initiate new opportunities? Consider some inherent limitations of inbound leads: 

  1. Prospect organizations may not meet a desired prospect profile. This can cause sellers to waste time and ultimately need to disqualify prospects.
  1. It’s likely visitors earning high enough activity scores are not ideal entry points from the standpoint of having the ability to secure funding for offerings being considered. If budget hasn’t been earmarked, sellers must get to higher levels. This can be a challenge with people that avoid talking with sellers for as long as possible, believe they understand their requirements and are concerned about being manipulated.
  1. Inbound visitors may be doing research driven by personal curiosity about offerings with little regard for business outcomes that can be achieved. 
  1. To understand and justify the value of B2B offerings, it is necessary for buying committees to take “enterprise” rather than personal or departmental views to develop cost vs. benefit analyses.

Sellers may get complacent in expecting that their pipelines should be filled with inbound leads. When they aren’t making their numbers, they may be unable or unwilling to take the trite but valid advice often given in high school yearbooks: Don’t wait for your boat (leads) to come in, row out (proactively generate interest) to meet it.

Takeaway: Inbound leads can and should be developed. That said, proactive reaches to targeted companies aimed at Key Player levels facilitate top down buying cycles and are likely to yield higher win rates.

Prospecting a pain? Register for the Webinar on Oct 21 to learn how to better engage with buyers and reduce the pain of bus dev!

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: How to Not Lose Control in Transitions

Posted by Jill Perez on Oct 8, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Not Lose Control in Transitions

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

Image courtesy of Hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In my mind, sellers are in the business of asking relevant questions. A good measure of how well sales calls go is the percentage of time buyers are talking. Let’s assume you call on the CFO of a prospect for the first time.

1. Set the Table with Objectives
Besides the initial rapport whether it be limited to shaking hands or a few minutes of small talk, I believe it’s up to sellers to set the table with the objectives of the call. This can be as simple as:

Today I’d like to briefly introduce ABC Co., tell you about the CFO of a manufacturing company I worked with and then learn more about your organization. We should be able to mutually determine if further conversations are warranted. 

My thought is that sellers’ initial objectives are to have buyers conclude that they are sincere and competent. These decisions are critical if you expect a buyer to open up and share either business goals or problems they want to achieve/address.

2. Revisit Your Company Positioning Statement
The company positioning statement (what you help clients do) should be 15 words or less about what you help organizations do, followed by 3 or 4 facts (no hype) about your company. 

0-passing-baton3. Share a Success Story
The next step would be to share a relevant Success Story, which should usually be for the same title/industry as the prospect. At that point you would turn it over to the buyer to tell you about their situation. This transition will be critical in determining the outcome of the call. Best case, the buyer shares a business goal and you can then begin to develop his or her needs.

If the buyer doesn’t readily share a business goal or problem, the transition hasn’t gone as well as you’d like. Be prepared with 3 or 4 environmental questions (often starting with the phrase: How do you …?) that probe potential problem areas. If a business issue still hasn’t been shared you could then offer a menu of goals for that title that your offering can help address.

Key: Being prepared for transitions can make a higher percentage of your calls successful.

Prospecting a pain? Register for the Webinar on Oct 21 to learn how to better engage with buyers and reduce the pain of bus dev!

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: Two Ways to Better Manage Your Time

Posted by Jill Perez on Oct 6, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Two Ways to Better Manage Your Time

By Frank Visgatis, President & Chief Operating Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“I don’t need sales training. I need time management!”

0-hourglassOver the course of training salespeople over the last 20+ years, I have had the opportunity to work with people across the experience spectrum. From people whose first day in sales was sitting in my workshop to engaging with sales pros who have been at it for 10, 15 or 20+ years.

I always start my workshops by asking, “What is a particular selling difficulty you’d like to get addressed over the course of this workshop?” More often than not, the length of their tenure in sales directly impacts what they would like to focus on. In other words, the longer the tenure, the less likely they are to have an internal locus of control versus external. Quite often, especially from the more experienced people in the group, I hear quotes such as the one referenced in the above title.

While I won’t claim to have a solution that fits every single salesperson, my experience is that there are two universal things that salespeople can do that will dramatically impact their ability to manage their time in a positive fashion.

1. The first is to honestly grade their pipeline and flush out the crap that just isn’t real. Too often we confuse activity with accomplishment when the reality is that if we would just aggressively qualify the deals we are working on, the number of “opportunities” eating up our time would decline dramatically.

2. The second is to get better at negotiation. The ugly reality for a salesperson is that if they provide a percentage discount in order to secure a piece of business, what they are really doing is just creating more work for themselves. In other words, if you discount a deal by 20% in order to secure the business, does your quota go down by 20%? Nope. Now ask yourself this question: “How many new opportunities do I have to put into the top of the funnel to replace the revenue I just gave away?” 

As the theory of Ockham’s Razor states, (and I’m paraphrasing): When all things are equal, the simplest solution is probably the right one.

Don't miss the upcoming Webinar on October 21, Reduce the Pain of Prospecting: Approaches and Tactics to Help You Better Engage with Your Buyers!

Register for a sales training workshop or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

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

Sales Tips: Does It Hurt Bad Enough?

Posted by Jill Perez on Oct 1, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Is the Pain Bad Enough to Change?

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

Image courtesy of Ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

0-fire-alarmOne of the fundamental aspects of human behavior is a resistance to change. As referenced in previous blog posts, a seller’s primary competitor is often buyers making “no decision” at the end of buying cycles. It may be helpful for sellers to view the objective of calls being “hurt and rescue” missions.

After buyers share goals or admit pains, sellers should do thorough diagnoses of the current situation to identify the “hurt”. This amounts to helping buyers understand the reasons goals can’t be achieved (or pains can’t be resolved). The reasons uncovered should be addressable by capabilities within the seller’s offering.

After having the diagnostic conversations, it is helpful if sellers can uncover base lines, meaning how the buyer is currently performing in terms of the goal being discussed. The “rescue” occurs when the buyer realizes the capabilities needed to achieve the goal being discussed. To quantify value, an important question is asking how much (% or dollar value) buyers could improve.

A major reason for “no decision” is that value is either insufficient or never quantified. It is important for buyers to realize the potential lost value if they delay or make no decision.

Don't miss the upcoming Webinar on October 21, Reduce the Pain of Prospecting: Approaches and Tactics to Help You Better Engage with Your Buyers!

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: 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.

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

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

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