Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Don't talk yourself out of a sale

Sales Tips
Knowledge should be one of the most powerful tools in our toolbox. Knowing how to use specialized industry vocabularies should also be one of our basic and power tools.

In reality, for many of us, knowledge and specialized lingo are powerful — in costing us business.

Naturally, a great many new salespeople are tempted to try to impress prospects and clients by demonstrating their product knowledge and slinging their newly learned industry vocabulary around. They tend to oversell, answer questions no prospect has ever had, dazzle with words the prospect and client may not be familiar with.

They talk about the fine points of their product or service; discuss how their service or product will impact ROI; how their product or service creates a new paradigm to address the prospect's issues or needs; and the list goes on.

Some say that if you want credibility with your prospects and clients you have to speak their language. I don't have a problem with that in the least — if you're actually speaking your prospect's language. But how many prospects actually talk about creating a new paradigm to address an issue or problem? There's certainly something to be said about just talking to the prospect in plain English.

And very often new sellers butcher their newly acquired vocabulary and confound and frustrate their prospects with their enthusiastic demonstration of their knowledge of the minutiae of their product or service. Many lose more sales than they capture because of their lack of discipline and their need to impress.

Unfortunately I've noticed over the past several years that this desire to impress isn't confined to new sellers. I consistently run across experienced sellers who should know better that are making the same rookie mistakes. The only real difference between these experienced sellers and new salespeople is experienced sellers tend to have a better grasp of the industry lingo.

In the current tough selling environment even experienced sellers are falling into the trap of trying to oversell and to impress with their knowledge and "deep" understanding of the prospect's issues. We tend to pull out all the stops and often end up losing our discipline and the prospect's attention. We try to force the sale.

Rather than creating new clients, we end up alienating them.

Whether you're a relatively new seller bursting with enthusiasm and wanting to impress your prospects or an experienced seller feeling the pressure to produce, you need to step back and relax. Giving in to the pressure to oversell and force the sale is self-defeating. Address your prospect's needs and leave the unnecessary demonstration of knowledge and the impressive vocabulary at the office.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sales Tip: Building Trust

Building Trust
Continually setting, and meeting, expectations is one of the easiest and most direct ways to build the strong, trusted relationships you need to close deals.

Building trust allows you to:

1. Set the agenda. If each encounter goes as expected and the prospect gets what they want, they will let you drive the process -- that, in turn, allows you to control the sale, determine the process, set next steps, and take it where you want.

2. Mitigate risk. Buyers want to be sure they are making the right decision. Unfortunately for them, any purchase decision comes with risk. You can mitigate this risk by providing direction at each step of the sales process. If there are no surprises, you create a sense of certainty in an otherwise uncertain endeavor. Certainty helps eliminate doubt in the prospect's mind, removing a major obstacle and allowing you to move the sale forward faster.

3. Be seen as the expert. Delivering as expected demonstrates a certain mastery that inspires confidence in you, your company, and what you are selling. This positions you as the thoughtful and trusted expert as you answer questions, listen and demonstrate understanding, and provide recommendations.

4. Demonstrate what it is like to work with you. Trusted relationships are built over time, and you can start building that trust during the sales process. When you consistently deliver on what you promise, you demonstrate what it will be like to work with you and your company day in and day out.

However, if you over-promise and under-deliver -- by missing deadlines, showing up late to meetings, setting inappropriate expectations -- you lose out on your best opportunity to build trusting relationships with your prospects.

Trust does not come overnight, in fact it can take months, in some cases years, to build, yet it takes only one instance of not following through on your promise to destroy it.

Be mindful of this in your sales conversations and interactions with prospects. Think things through, take the time to make appropriate decisions, and give each prospect the respect they deserve; this allows you to maximize the trust factor.

Take it one step further and think of how you can over-deliver in the sales process. I'm not suggesting you sandbag it. I'm suggesting you set expectations that you're sure you can meet and leave some room for yourself to go above and beyond.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Selling Yourself

Sales Tips
Just as you are selling to people, you must also remember that you are not only selling and representing a product or service, but you are in effect selling yourself. When beginning a sales relationship, it is important to remember a few key aspects to representing yourself well.

First, be interesting. If potential customers are bored by you, they have less of a chance of being enthralled by any product or service you are representing.

Develop intellect. Of course you are an intelligent person, but can you converse in an intelligent manner? Can you discuss related subjects with thoughtfulness and hold your clients' interest? You are in their territory now, can you speak their language?

Never be arrogant -- never talk up or down to your potential clients. It's rude and will serve only to alienate them. Respect the buyer, and they will respect you.

Along the same lines, develop your empathy levels. If you can relate to your customers' situations authentically, it helps to build rapport.

Rapport is the most important process in influencing others. It is vital if you want to maintain relationships. Without it, you are unlikely to achieve willing agreement to what you want. People who have excellent rapport with others create harmonious relationships based on trust and understanding of mutual needs.

Finally, the greatest compliment a customer can pay you is to describe you as "professional."

Being professional is not one thing, it is three -- It is what you do, what you say and how you present yourself.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Keep It Short

Sales Tips
Can you present your idea in 200 words or less? Agency and corporate decision-makers have less and less time and bigger and bigger stacks of irrelevant proposals piling up on their desks.

If you can encapsulate the campaign idea and why it makes sense for their product, brand, or service in 200 words or less, you've got an excellent chance of getting a meeting where you can dig deeper and co-craft a homework assignment; a key element to making the sponsorship sale.

Only 200 words, you ask?! Remember, the Gettysburg Address laid out a vision for the nation in only 272.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Understanding Body Language

Body Language
Body language is a mixture of movement, posture and tone of voice. Research indicates that in a face-to-face conversation, more than 70 percent of our communication is nonverbal.

Our body language reveals our deepest feelings and hidden thoughts to total strangers. In addition, nonverbal communication has a much greater impact and reliability than the spoken word. Therefore, if your sales prospect's words are incongruent with his or her body language gestures, you would be wise to rely on the body language as a more accurate reflection of their true feelings.

Be mindful of your own body language gestures and remember to keep them positive by unfolding your arms, uncrossing your legs and smiling frequently.

Create harmony by "matching and mirroring" your prospect's body language gestures. Matching and mirroring is an unconscious body language mimicry by which one person tells another they are in agreement.

The next time you are at a social event, notice how many people are subconsciously matching one another. Likewise, when people disagree, they subconsciously mismatch their body language gestures.

An effective way to begin matching your prospect is to subtly nod your head in agreement whenever your prospect nods his or her head, or cross your legs when they cross their legs, etc.

By understanding the meaning behind your prospect's body language, you will minimize perceived sales pressure and know when it's appropriate to close the sale.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

7 Paradoxical Sales Principles

Sales Tips
Recognizing and acting on these 7 paradoxical sales principles is critical to your long-term success.

1. To win more sales, stop selling.
When people feel like they're being sold, they react negatively and put up barriers. Focus on helping your prospects achieve their business, professional and personal objectives -- not making a sale.

2. To speed up your sales cycle, slow down.
The more quickly you push to a close, the higher resistance you encounter. Go one step at a time. When your prospects know you want to help them make the right decision, not a rash one, the process moves faster.

3. To make decisions easier, offer fewer options.
When you increase the complexity of the decision, you decrease the likelihood of winning the sale. To help your prospects move forward, give them less to choose from. Keep it simple -- always.

4. To be more natural, prepare like crazy.
Today's customers suffer no fools. If you're not ready with the right message, questions or presentation, you'll stumble or be stilted in your meeting. When you do prepare, you can be your best self.

5. To get bigger contracts, start smaller.
When you pursue the "whole shebang," decisions are more complex and costly, making it much tougher to get approval. Reduce the risk by starting small and proving your capabilities. Then, it's easy to grow.

6. To speed up your learning curve, fail fast.
It's inevitable that you'll make mistakes. So don't wait till you've figured out the "perfect pitch" before moving forward. In sales, there is no failure -- just lots of opportunities for experimentation, learning and growth.

7. To differentiate your offering, become the differentiator.
That's the biggest reality in today's market. Your products, services or solution are secondary to your knowledge, expertise and the difference you make for your customers. Invest time in yourself.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sales Tip: Rushing to Judgment

Sales Tip
As a salesperson, you should work to focus all of your attention on your customer and his/her needs. It's all too easy to swoop in to present a solution instead of listening to your customer's complaints and the specifics of his/her situation.

In this rush to cut to the chase, you're in danger of coming across as arrogant, and your customers end up feeling their input is unimportant and unappreciated. This understandable mistake happens for two reasons:

* You want to come off as the "expert" or "hero," showing off all your knowledge by providing the solution before your customer even has a chance to finish her thought.
* You're in a hurry and don't have the time and energy to devote to your customer.

For example, let's say you're about to leave for a week's vacation when a prospective customer calls. He starts to go into a long story about his business and all the problems he's encountered in the last five years. You realize that you have heard his story -- or at least a similar one -- many times before, so you interrupt him to give your answer to his problems. You try to end the call as soon as possible so you can leave for vacation.

In this case, even though you might have given your prospect a good solution, chances are he won't feel satisfied with the conversation. He didn't have an opportunity to tell you about his business, so he feels shortchanged.

What should you have done? Next time, embrace any information your prospect gives you, whether you believe it's valuable or not. If you truly didn't have time to talk at length with this prospect, you should have requested the opportunity to call him back after you returned from vacation. Otherwise, you should have put down your briefcase, closed your office door, and listened to him for as long as he needed.

Remember, even if you hear the story all the time, it is unique and personal for each customer. Instead of interrupting your customer with your standard solution, let him have the floor and explain his problem. Only then can you proceed with the process of finding a solution for whatever ails him.