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Sales Tips: Stop Measuring Customer Satisfaction

Posted by Jill Perez on Jan 10, 2018 3:35:34 PM

Sales Tips: Stop Measuring Customer Satisfaction

By Connie Schlosberg, Primary Intelligence

We recently worked with a company trying to fix their high customer attrition rate with annual customer satisfaction surveys. Their survey project was successful. Fixing the attrition rate was not.

Customer SatisfactionBut why?

The company measured satisfaction, and the numbers said customers were not satisfied. To raise the numbers, the company formulated and implemented action plans. Sounds like a solid plan, right? The problem:

The company was measuring how their customers felt, but not why they felt that way.

They knew perception of their services was low, but couldn’t figure out why. Measuring satisfaction provides no predictive analytics that score the likelihood of renewal. 

The account teams were earnest in their actions to attempt to solve the issues, but the actions were misguided because the surveys failed to ask the customer: What are we doing wrong or right? The team was assuming root causes based only on customer satisfaction numbers and their own best guesses about what, exactly, was causing those numbers.

Measuring Satisfaction is Not Enough

“Satisfaction” (including NPS) tells you if they like you. It gives you a thumbs up or thumbs down.

It doesn’t, in our opinion, accurately tell you what it’s like to be your customer (the customer journey). It also doesn’t necessarily help you retain customers because it leaves a host of questions unanswered. What will the customer care about when considering a renewal? What will drive their perception of value and ROI? A score can’t tell you either.

Customer experience analysis is ultimately about renewals.To really retain those renewal dollars, you need to do it differently.

Now, let’s be clear:

If you are not measuring your customer’s satisfaction, stop reading this post and do it now. It’s that important.

We are not really advocating doing away with customer satisfaction numbers. Instead we are advocating changing what is measured and how.

Start Measuring the Journey

The Buyer's Journey

Instead, start measuring and analyzing the customer’s experience. Customer experience analysis is different from customer satisfaction because it helps you walk the same path as your customer. At Primary intelligence, we’ve found a three-pronged approach works best.

  1. Feedback – Figure out what the customer thinks and why. I’d recommend conducting interviews using both quantitative (scale, ranking, binary, etc.) and qualitative (open-ended) questions. Create a formal discussion guide to create consistency and a focused discussion, but don’t be shy about going off script to probe for details. Figure out what will be driving a renewal decision and the overall perception of value.
  2. Discovery – Although the customer has filled in the gaps on what they are feeling and why, your account team needs to round out the view. Ask everyone involved with the account to review the interview feedback and then schedule a debrief session. Focus the session on what the team is doing – good or bad – to drive those perceptions and what will likely drive a renewal decision. (Get more tips on debrief sessions in this webinar.)
  3. Act – As you end the debrief and move into planning mode, identify specific actions the team can take to resolve concerns and emphasize value. Also don’t neglect identifying growth opportunities and how you’ll act on those. Ultimately determine what you want the customer to say during the next feedback session.

The When Matters Too

And while you’re at it, adjust when you measure. Reaching out to all customers at the same time each year doesn’t do your account teams any favors. They need feedback throughout the customer’s journey, so map the feedback timeline to that journey. No time is more important than 3 to 6 months prior to a renewal event. Give the team enough time to shore up weaknesses and plant seeds for growth opportunities.

Remember: Your customers are future buyers. Stop just asking if they’re satisfied. Instead use customer experience analysis to predict the likelihood of renewal.

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Sales Tips: 3 Keys to Diagnosing the Current Situation

Posted by Jill Perez on Jan 9, 2018 11:13:34 AM

Sales Tips: 3 Keys to Diagnosing a Buyer's Current Situation

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

Sales Tips for Diagnosing Buyer's Current SituationIt seems everyone is in a hurry these days unless they’re retired. When people ask for one word that describes how superior vs. mediocre people sell I give a one-word answer: Patience. By that I mean they know you must first understand a buyer’s needs before having any product discussions.

Key #1: One of the ways to slow sellers down is to have them realize there is no selling to be done until a buyer shares a business goal (or a problem) they’re willing to spend money to achieve. If sellers entered every call with a menu of potential goals for each title, I believe there would be a significant improvement in the outcomes. 

Key #2: A very unfortunate thing can occur after executives share goals. Some salespeople believe it gives them permission to launch into product pitches because buyers have expressed interest. Once again, patience is required.

A Players realize buyers they call on don’t fully understand why they can’t achieve their desired outcomes.

Discussing Current Situation with BuyersIf buyers knew, they’d fix things rather than take time to talk with salespeople! 

A top-performing seller will ask a series of diagnostic questions to help buyers realize what may be “broken” in their current approach (without a seller’s offering). I refer to selling as a “hurt and rescue” exercise. When a buyer and seller are in agreement as to what areas are preventing desired outcomes to be achieved, wonderful things happen. It means the seller has established credibility and competence and that the buyer is more ready for the “rescue.”

Key #3: At this point, based upon how buyers answered diagnostic questions sellers should only discuss capabilities relevant to achieving the desired goal. This ultimately allows sellers to empower buyers rather than sell them. The question becomes: If you had the capabilities we discussed, could you (achieve your goal?)

The seller that does the best diagnosis is most likely to win the business.

Remember: People buy from sellers that are sincere, competent and empower them.

INFOGRAPHIC: 3 keys to diagnose buyer's current situation

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Sales Tips: A 2018 Resolution for Sellers

Posted by Jill Perez on Jan 2, 2018 2:29:02 PM

Sales Tips: A Resolution for 2018 and Beyond

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

2018 is here, a time for making resolutions that you may or may not keep. I’d like to suggest trying what may be a different approach to finding new opportunities.

The best leading indicator of future performance is the quality and quantity of opportunities in a seller’s pipeline. 

charts-calculator.pngStarting 2018, the condition of each seller’s pipeline reflects how they finished the year. If it was a sprint to end 2017 there’s work to do. Regardless of where you stand I’d like to offer an approach that can allow you to shorten sales cycles and increase win rates moving forward.

Most sales organizations have an increasing reliance on inbound leads. If you’re selling complex or expensive offerings, these leads are likely to:

  • Provide entry points below Key Player levels
  • Put you in contact with people interested in products that don’t have budget
  • Have you contact people concurrently evaluating several vendors in a given space
  • Have you contact people unaware of business results that can be impacted
  • Yield a high percentage of “no decisions” and low close rates
  • Represent quantity more than quality

It takes courage and initiative but there is a way to start opportunities with Key Players that enables sellers to establish themselves as “Column A” from the start with buyers who can find budgets for new initiatives. Key Players don’t have time to visit websites and evaluate vendors. For that reason many are unaware of value and payback offerings can provide. 

key-player-senior-executives-meeting.pngThese buyers have latent needs, not for offerings (an erroneous assumption many sellers make), but rather for achieving desired business outcomes. I recently used an approach Michael Higgins (Selling at the C-Level) provided. He suggested this:

👉 Review a prospect’s annual report to learn the company’s objectives and challenges and select a specific title and outcome that an offering could help them achieve.

Here’s my experience using this approach:

  • I researched a Fortune 500 company and sent a one-page letter via snail mail to their Chairman.
  • Four days later I called.
  • After being heavily screened I was told the admin was busy and I should call that afternoon.
  • 45 minutes later I got a phone call from a senior vice president that had been asked (or told?) to contact me.
  • A buying cycle began with a Key Player.

Superior salespeople sell outcomes rather than offerings. 

These sellers pique senior executive interest by leading with relevant business goals or issues.

Leading with offerings puts sellers out of alignment with Key Player buyers who don’t have the time nor interest to learn about products.

I hope 2018 will be prosperous for you and that you may try this new approach to generate new opportunities. 

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Sales Tips: How Staying on Top of the News Can Help You Close Sales

Posted by Jill Perez on Dec 28, 2017 12:37:32 PM

Sales Tips: How Staying on Top of the News Can Help You Close Sales

By Drew Steigerwald, Co-Founder of 1440 daily news digest

Creative Commons photo: Source

“Hey, did you hear that Elon Musk built the world’s largest battery in under 100 days on a bet?”

No, it has nothing to do with what I’m selling you. But staying on top of the news not only keeps you informed of industry trends but makes you seem savvy and smart – a person you’d want to do business with.

The problem is that you – like me – probably feel deluged with constant news and information, and don’t have time to stay on top of what’s happening. That’s okay – there are solutions for that. But here’s why staying in the know across many topics, not just your own industry, can make you a better salesperson.

Staying on Top of News Helps Close More Sales1. Keeping up with the news helps breaks the ice and humanizes you

Salespeople can get caught up in the repetitive nature of their role. Aggressive sales tactics that salespeople might use to reach their quotas can give the industry a bad reputation for caring more about the sale than the customer. Staying abreast of current events and using them as ice breakers can help you soften your sales technique.

Whether you make sales in person, over the phone or via email, start the conversation by talking about something interesting you heard in the news. By not going straight into your sales pitch, your potential customers will sense that you care more about building a relationship rather than talking money. You will also come off as interesting and cultured, which will reflect well on your company and product.

In general it is best to stay away from incendiary news topics like politics.

By chatting about current events before diving into your sales pitch, you will build a rapport with your customers, which will help you close the sale.

Rather than searching a dozen online publications to catch up on all of the day’s top stories, you can get an overview of all of the day’s need-to-know news with an email newsletter like 1440 or news aggregator like Google News.

2. Staying local helps you know when to change your approach

It is very easy to get caught in a bubble during the workweek. You are focused on your week’s goals and may not be paying attention to what’s going on outside of the office. However, keeping up with the news in your customer’s region is tied to reaching your sales goals.

If you are based in New York City but your accounts are in the Midwest or China, it is professionally more important for you to follow the news in Chicago or Shanghai than New York. Staying abreast of current events in your potential customer’s region will help you anticipate and further sales decisions.

If you live in New York but pay attention to Chicago news to know what’s going on with your Midwest customers, you will learn of events that don’t become national news but that will affect your sales. If you typically conduct sales in person but see that a snowstorm will affect the Midwest, you can accommodate your potential customers by suggesting a video conference instead of an in-person meeting to avoid the back-and-forth of rescheduling due to bad weather.

If you hear that China is facing an economic depression, you may anticipate your prospect’s troubles by offering a discount or relieving them of an onboarding fee to help you close the sale.

Keeping up with your customer region’s local news will impress prospects and help you close the sale.

You can stay up on local news from your customers’ regions by searching their local newspapers’ online editions, visiting Patch.com for hyperlocal reporting, or using the local edition of an industry-specific site like Curbed or Eater.

3. Industry trends help you improve your sales technique

Outside of keeping up with general news, keeping up with industry trends will help you close sales by inspiring you to always be innovating. Sales and marketing blogs like CustomerCentric Selling®'s will help keep your sales skills sharp so that you, the salesperson, can reach and surpass your sales goals.

By learning what filler words to avoid during your sales pitch or why you should plan your sales call, you will learn new skills, sharpen weaknesses and become a better salesperson.

4. Keeping up with the competition helps the product sell itself

On a more macro level, staying on top of industry news will help you keep an eye out on what your company’s competition is doing. Whether you are the Chief Sales Executive of your company or a Junior Sales Associate, you will make yourself a valuable employee by letting your employer know what competitors are doing and how your company can keep up.

By suggesting features that competitors are introducing, you will help keep your product the most innovative in the industry. When the competition isn’t competitive, the product will sell itself and you will close more sales.

To find the latest news in your industry, join your company’s industry association. To keep an eye out on the giants of your industry, follow these top business publications.

Author Bio: Drew Steigerwald is the Co-Founder of 1440, a daily email news digest that empowers professionals by curating, explaining and serving the day’s top news stories and more on a silver platter.

1440’s social media accounts:


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Sales Tips: 6 Strategies to Get Buyers to Talk to You

Posted by Jill Perez on Dec 27, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Sales Tips: 6 Strategies to Get Buyers to Talk to You

By Connie Schlosberg, Primary Intelligence

Are you having a hard time getting buyers to talk to you?

How many times have you tried to find out how your most recent sales opportunity went and got no response? Or attempted to talk to a customer to see how it is going only to hear crickets? Frustrating, isn’t it?

After completing well over 20,000 interviews with busy buyers, we’ve learned a thing or two on how to get them to talk to us. We also know:

Getting feedback from buyers is the best way to improve your win rates.

And talking to your current customers to see what benefits they’re receiving from your solution is a highly effective plan to retain them. By going straight to the source, you discover what is and isn’t working for you and most importantly, why.

Here’s an infographic sharing our top 6 strategies to get the conversation started.

Top-6-Strategies-to-Get-Buyers-to-Talk-to-You

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Sales Tips: 4 Foolproof Ways to Increase Sales Productivity

Posted by Jill Perez on Dec 19, 2017 10:33:25 AM

Sales Tips: 4 Foolproof Ways to Increase Sales Productivity

By Sam Holzman, Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo

Stressed SalespersonWith quotas and long term goals constantly at the forefront of our minds, sales professionals are under constant pressure to perform. With this in mind, it’s no wonder 65% of B2B companies say sales productivity is the biggest challenge they face on a daily basis.

Many organizations increase sales hiring as the only means to reach the goals they have set for themselves. Yet, many hesitate to make changes to their actual sales strategies. To truly boost sales productivity for the long haul, managers must examine every part of their sales process.

If you struggle to increase sales productivity, keep reading. We’ve compiled the top four ways you can increase your sales productivity today.

1. Provide ongoing sales training.

Sales training is an expensive process, both financially and in terms of the time it takes. However, an extensive sales training program is integral to your sales productivity in the long run.

Studies show that 84% of all sales training content is forgotten after 90 days. To remedy this problem, place an added focus on sales coaching and ongoing training:

Sales Training WorkshopsBy investing a small amount of each month on ongoing sales coaching, managers can ensure that their sales reps are always learning and absorbing best practices – and that will have a lasting impact on productivity.

To learn more about the many merits of sales training, check out these articles:

2. Invest in technology to automate non-selling tasks.

Did you know the average sales rep spends only one-third of their day talking to prospects? It’s true: the majority of a salesperson’s day is spent on administrative tasks like reading and writing emails, attending meetings, scheduling calls and conducting research. With so many tasks to juggle, it’s no wonder so many companies struggle with sales productivity.

Not only do administrative tasks cut down on selling time, but they actually damage your overall performance. Multitasking is often considered a desirable trait in sales reps, but research shows that juggling tasks can actually hurt the quality of your work.

The solution – automate these tedious tasks. By crafting the perfect sales technology stack, businesses can cut down on the busywork and ensure that more time is spent selling.

3. Prioritize sales and marketing alignment.

One of the biggest inhibitors of sales productivity is a lack of alignment between sales and marketing departments. And unfortunately, studies show that only 8% of companies have tight sales and marketing alignment.

Sales and Marketing Working TogetherSales reps waste valuable time when they aren’t on the same page as their marketing counterparts. To start, both departments should establish an agreed upon definition of a qualified lead.  This is because, 61% of marketers send their leads directly to the sales department, but only 27% of those leads are qualified. Not only does this waste time, but it strains the relationship between the two departments and leads to further roadblocks.

Your sales and marketing departments must operate using the same goals and data. By doing so, you will see massive improvements to both your sales productivity and overall business performance:

For a deeper look at sales and marketing alignment, check out the following articles:

4. Don’t be afraid to take a break.

That’s right – one of the most overlooked ways to increase productivity is to step away from your desk once in a while.

76% of all people report the top two causes of stress in the US are job pressure and money. Because sales is often commission-based and money-driven, stress and pressure run rampant in this profession.

While taking a break may seem counterintuitive, psychological studies say that taking breaks throughout the day dramatically improves your mental performance. Rather than thinking of a break as a waste of time, think of it as a necessary step to keep yourself at peak performance.

Final Thoughts

Given the high-pressure nature of the industry, productivity will always be a top concern for sales professionals. Looking for a single, quick solution will rarely make a long-term impact on your team’s productivity. Instead, take a step back and look at every aspect of your sales process, from big picture strategies to day-to-day practices.

Sales productivity must be top of mind at all times and, therefore, integrated into your daily sales processes. Consider talking with your team members to determine their biggest inhibitors and motivators. Then, test new strategies and tactics.

Contact CustomerCentric Selling® today, to learn more about sales productivity.

Contributed by Sam Holzman, Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo offers the most accurate and actionable B2B sales intelligence to help organizations accelerate growth and profitability. The continuously updated database enables sales and marketing teams to execute more effective marketing campaigns and improve lead generation efforts. Visit zoominfo.com for more information. 

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Sales Tips: A Strong Qualifier for Prosposals

Posted by Jill Perez on Dec 10, 2017 11:00:03 PM

Sales Tips: A Strong Qualifier for Proposals

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

When asked in a word to describe the difference between A Players and B/C Players I would say: 

Patience.

By that I mean they avoid prematurely talking about offerings that helps them avoid early pricing decisions. Top performers also understand how much control sellers give up after issuing proposals. 

Ask Your Buyer to Review a Draft of the ProposalI believe proposals should document and confirm discussions with buyers and provide a buyer or buying committee everything that is needed to make decisions. Premature proposals often hang in seller’s pipelines and often wind up being removed months later after no decision has been reached. 

A Strong Qualifier
If and when proposals must be issued, most sellers miss out on a strong qualifying step. My suggestion is they ask a buyer or the buying committee to review a draft copy of what will be in the final proposal. 

  • The advantage to buyers is there will be no surprises in the proposal.
  • The advantage to sellers is the ability to get it right the first time.

I suppose it’s a pink, if not a red flag, if sellers can’t get agreement to review a draft and may be a potential sign that sellers are not Column A.

After a review of the content and after buyers have approved the content, the seller has a great opportunity at that point to ask for the business. I feel it’s the perfect time to close because it is the first time the seller has earned the right to close. Even if you choose not to close it offers the chance to get in front of buyers a week before decisions will be made.

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Sales Tips: Collecting Customer Feedback through Phone Interviews

Posted by Jill Perez on Dec 10, 2017 12:06:43 PM

Sales Tips: A Better Way to Gather CX Feedback

By Connie Schlosberg, Primary Intelligence

CX Phone InterviewWhen collecting feedback from our customers, we know we need to get the sincerest input from them if we want to provide customers with the most valuable experience.

While NPS surveys, on-site visits, one-on-one interviews are effective ways to collect feedback, they don’t fully capture the golden nuggets we’re looking for.

Companies often neglect the most cost-effective and beneficial way to understanding customers and their specific needs.

Customer Phone Interviews

After interviewing customers on their experience with our clients for almost 16 years, we’re confident we know how valuable a phone discussion can be. If you want the most honest assessment from your customers, your best bet is to talk with them, get to know them, and understand how well—or not so well—things are going.

With customer phone interviews, you’ll find helpful answers to your most pressing questions. You’ll also get the opportunity to learn about issues that you didn’t even know exist. These issues could potentially prevent your customers from renewing or purchasing additional solutions. (Read Why Phone Interviews Are My Favorite Method for Collecting Customer Insights for a more in-depth discussion.)

Why Phone Interviews Are Better

Having a phone conversation with your customers is the best method for the following reasons:

  1. It’s low effort for the customer. Most conversations are under 30 minutes.
  2. It’s low cost. You don’t have to worry about travel expenses or loss time from work.
  3. You get detailed insights. Pair the phone interview with an online survey and you’ll gather a scorecard of your performance along with the reasoning for the scores.

For tips on a highly successful customer phone interview and the best way to get customer experience feedback, click or tap on the following infographic.

A Better Way to Gather Customer Experience Feedback

PI-Phone-Interviews-1.png

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Sales Tips: 4 Tips to Maximize Email ROI and Improve Business Development

Posted by Jill Perez on Dec 3, 2017 9:09:03 PM

Sales Tips: 4 Tips to Maximize Email ROI and Improve Business Development

Unless you enjoy a dedicated marketing team to gather customer data on your behalf, we must collect that information ourselves. Yet, as Sage discovered in a recent survey, collecting customer data and transforming it into sales is a common challenge.

With more advanced applications and cloud-based tools promising improved ROI every day, it can be tempting to spend money on the latest emerging technologies for our online marketing campaigns rather than using tried and tested methods.

In fact, despite email being one of the “older” online technologies, email marketing campaigns offer an ROI of 73 percent - larger than organic or paid search results, and content or affiliate marketing.

Email and Business Development TipsWith such promise of improved sales, here are 4 tips to increase customer subscriptions and optimize your email campaigns:

1.    Increase subscription opportunities

Firstly, place a link on your business’ “About” page, as clients who tend to be interested in the history and people behind an organization are more likely to want to learn later.

Also, inserting an optional pop-up in the corner of your website is an inviting yet inconspicuous method of encouraging customers to sign-up for your campaigns; anything more is likely to turn customers away.

This tactic is also suitable for brick-and-mortar store salespeople and owners. While placing a sign-up sheet beside the tills might encourage purchasing customers to share their contact details, placing those same sheets around the store with purchase incentives to write down their email addresses can simultaneously boost sales and subscriptions lists.

2.    Personalize marketing

In 2016, more than 25 percent of sales were attributed to email campaigns. A key reason for their success is customers feel engaged, which, in turn, means they will be more likely to offer you repeat business and to recommend your services to a friend.

The easiest way to offer customers an engaging experience is to personalize your emails. For instance, use the customers’ names when addressing them, with personalized emails delivering 6 times as many transactions.

Further, segmenting users by their location, age and interests allows you to create targeted campaigns which interest potential buyers, without upsetting those less likely to indulge in that particular campaign.

Mobile-friendly email3.    Mobile ready

In 2017, 54 percent of email campaigns were opened on a mobile device. This is up from 27 percent in 2012. So noticeable is this increase that promotional emails are now more likely to be mobile-centric than desktop-centric, with 55 percent of smartphone users having made at least one purchase via a campaign email.

Take advantage of this trend by ensuring your emails are mobile friendly and responsive, keep headers short so they can be read quickly, and invite users to open them with a call to action.

4.    Automate campaigns

Using automated reminders lessens your own workload as you can create mass, personalized emails, to be received by clients at specific times of the year, boosting sales.

For example, greetings card companies frequently send out seasonal reminders for popular holidays like Christmas and Mother’s Day. Also, by giving customers the option to set reminders, they can remind them of upcoming birthdays for friends and family they have sent cards to in previous years.

With affordable tools making it easy to build email lists and tools helping you track the effectiveness of your campaigns, email marketing remains a crucial strategy for maximizing sales.

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Sales Tips: Types of Questions to Ask High and Low

Posted by Jill Perez on Dec 3, 2017 8:42:32 PM

Sales Tips: The Different Types of Questions to Ask at High and Low Levels

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

I believe superior salespeople are curious and ask questions more often than they make statements. They avoid control questions that elicit short responses and therefore don’t facilitate conversations.

Instead they prefer to ask framing questions such as, “How do you create revenue forecasts today?” These questions usually begin with the word “how” and elicit lengthy answers about areas the seller wants to explore. 

When calling at executive levels I suggest you try to avoid asking questions they can’t answer.

Types of Questions to Ask at High and Low LevelsMany senior executives will seize opportunities to delegate salespeople to lower staff. Their response is usually something like:

I don’t know but can put you in touch with the right person.

Not a good outcome for a salesperson.

When calling at lower levels, consider asking questions buyers either can’t or don’t want to answer.

Asking subordinates to speak on behalf of higher levels or the organization will cause many to say they aren’t sure. For example:

In considering a new CRM software, what is your organization hoping to accomplish?

If a buyer can’t or won’t answer, the seller has an opportunity to ask who within the organization would know. 

👉 My rules of thumb: At high levels avoid asking questions buyers can’t answer. At lower levels feel free to do so.

Purchase a copy of Rethinking the Sales Cycle now from Amazon!

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