Wisdom From The Trenches Of Sales


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Musings about sales based on experience of several salesmen in several businesses.

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Wisdom From The Trenches Of Sales

  1. 1. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Wisdom from the Trenches of SALES Copyright © 2009-2010 by Engago Technologies Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from Engago Technologies Ltd., except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 1
  2. 2. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Contents The difference between wanting and buying – The ROI in sales 4 The 26 sales meeting mistakes to avoid 5 If you trash your competitor, you are likely to trash yourself 9 All sales bonus systems will fail due to change 9 As the traveling salesman says: All hotel ceilings are white 10 Go climb a mountain and conquer it for your confidence ! 12 Selling common products to a dull market isn’t sexy but challenging 12 Your CRM is crap when marketing …. 14 What if your competitor releases a Sales Cowboy 14 When the Master of the Universe gets into the Spiral of Negativity 16 Do you have the handshake of a salesman ? 17 How to win from the market leader 18 What is the most important in the B2B buying process ? 20 The 25 conference requirements for salesmen 21 You Are Eliminated ! is common in the complex B2B sale 22 The 7 great pretenders on trade shows wasting your time 23 Why should a new client get a discount? 25 Why Google has become your main competitor in Sales ! 26 Unbearable silences during meeting potential customer 28 The 7 benefits of asking in order to understand your customer 29 Don’t posh with your Porsche while selling 31 Should you take ‘No’ as final in Sales? 32 Don’t despair if The Stig in Sales is your Competitor 33 Point break customers 33 Should you sell if there’s no fit? 34 Death of the Salesman as BtoB Sales goes online? 35 Overcoming objections by turning them into the fuel for selling 36 When your buyer is living in the past 38 The grass is always greener on the other side: not in sales 39 Desperate housewives are better off than desperate salesmen 40 Customers get attention like crying babies do 41 The B2B complex sale is a marathon – don’t sprint 42 People you avoid at parties can be in your sales meeting 42 The 14 virtues of the salesman 44 Do you have a Bachelor or Master Sales Degree? 46 How to become successful by applying 2 easy steps 47 How good are you at voicemails during the sales process? 48 Why cars do matter in the sales process 49 Your B2B customers are The Transformers – Are you G.I Joe? 51 The quarterly closing puts any sales closing under pressure 52 Selling is removing the risks due to change that buying brings 53 Don’t sell your market leadership – bring them solutions 54 Emotional Stages of a Salesman during the Sales Process 55 Are you in Sales? What’s on your business card? 56 The reasons why you sell and close deals in B2B 57 8 Reasons for selling fear of missing opportunity instead of discounting 59 How to sell more to a customer? Use the endowment effect 60 The Jar of Luck and The Jar of Experience of the Salesman 61 The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 2
  3. 3. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales What is the best for you: selling the cornerstone or an emerging product? 62 Engage into a conversation instead of questioning before the sales pitch 63 Increase sales by just following-up on emails and calls 64 The hardest thing to say to a customer is: “No” 66 When the deal is lost, only then the real selling starts 66 The Raiders of the Lost Deal – the selling starts when the deal is lost (2) 68 The 14 facts the callee wants to know from the cold caller 69 You talk too much: shut up and listen to your prospect 70 Customer Relation Management or Control Reps Manager? 71 Every benefit has a downside too 72 Reaching your potential customers through their trusted party 73 Improve your sales success by preparing your cold call 74 What to do when most attendees on a conference are vendors? 75 The top 24 facts for selling more in B2B 76 The Origin of Salesmen Species – not by Darwin 79 Stop wasting time by blind Cold Calling – Call interested parties 80 Who do you cold call? The Manager or the CEO? 82 What to ask on a trade show in order to start a conversation 83 Most important in complex B2B sales: Branding or Salesman? 85 Top 25 warning signs of losing a sales deal in B2B 86 Killing your sales with a Product Overview Comparison Chart 87 Just closing is for losers, keeping the doors open is for winners 89 Matching your style to the buyer for building a relationship 89 Concerning LEADSExplorer 90 The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 3
  4. 4. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Introduction: The Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales represents the experiences of several salesmen over many years in different markets. If you are in sales you will recognize situations and learn about certain tactics and strategies. The difference between wanting and buying – The ROI in sales Consumers People and people in companies want many different things. People and companies only buy a limited number of things. We all want many things that could make life better or to have a better feeling about life. Companies Managers want or aim for getting many things or solutions for different reasons: - Productivity increase - Convenience for their employees or workers - Social status – enterprise status - Ego - Expressing of their power - Spending lots of money or running an expensive department can help a career. - Clearing out the budget at the end of year Decision takers who are employees of a company mainly think or consider themselves first and the company comes in second position. - They want a lot of things. - They get little. Decision takers who are founders of the company are entrepreneurs who will take risks in order to grow the company faster. - They want a few things. - They get almost all. Both want different things for different reasons giving salesmen different chances to actually sell to them. The ROI in sales: the expertise of the salesman However when it comes to the actual purchase the gap between wanting and buying becomes clear and evident: a budget or an economic reason needs to be present. The power of a decision maker is a big parameter. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 4
  5. 5. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales All capacities in a company are limited. Also the capacity required for selling is limited. Hence a Return On Investment (ROI) needs to be made based upon estimated chances. The salesman, using his expertise acquired over many years, needs to differentiate between the wanting or the needing demand of the lead. This is where the salesman plays an important role by evaluating, qualifying and deciding whether a suspect or lead is a prospect or not. His experience and expertise are is required to estimate the chances for success (= sales) with a suspect or lead as he (or the VP Sales) decides to invest more or less time in a potential customer. However he needs to take the power of the decision maker into the calculation as his ego, his social status, his enterprise status or his need for expressing his power can overrule any rational or economic reason. How many times have you mistakenly took wanting instead of needing? The 26 sales meeting mistakes to avoid This is a list of mistakes made before, during and after sales meetings and conference call which are to avoid. Although most seem obvious, many of them occur frequently: - Giving a bad impression - Feeling of being less important customer - Losing trust Before the meeting 1. Ignoring small customers You don’t want to waste time by meeting small customers that don’t increase your sales significantly. Ignoring those companies saves a lot of time. - Smaller companies can grow bigger. Management of small companies can refer you to friends and relations in bigger companies. References help selling. 2. Travel more than meet You spend more time traveling than meeting face to face with the customer. - Plan your travel better in order to have more time available to meet and to prepare your meetings. 3. Always rescheduling meetings Rescheduling meeting or conference calls for whatever reason gives a bad and unorganized impression. - When the appointment has been made to meet or to call just make the call on time. Stick to it as your customer needs to be available too. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 5
  6. 6. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales 4. Arriving too late You know you will be late for a meeting is a sign of lack of respect for the time of your customer. - If you know in advance you will be late, so warn him by giving him a call. 5. Getting lost Getting lost is no excuse anymore as GPS systems are available at fair prices. Driving without a GPS is like taking an additional gamble to miss a sales deal. - Get a GPS system. 6. Key content missing When having planned a meeting or call but missing an important piece or key person the event will have less value. Why meet when the information is not available or the specialist is not able to participate? - Once the meeting is scheduled make sure the valuable time with the customer is spend wisely and your opportunity keeps in existence. If key content is missing then cancel the meeting. - If the specialist cannot be present physically, getting him to call in by phone or video conferencing can be a feasible alternative. 7. Basic customer investigation Not knowing anything of the customer business or news seems a lack of interest in this era of the Internet. - Before you have a meeting make sure you visit their website during 5 minutes allowing you to prepare some questions showing your interest in their business and awareness. 8. Meeting with somebody When addressing the reception desk without knowing who you will be meeting gives a very bad impression and indicates being a less valuable customer or person. As receptionists speak with most employees and managers of the company the word will travel fast in the company. - Make sure you know exactly who will be in the meeting. During the meeting 9. Not knowing your customer personally Your meetings and telephone conversations are limited to the business. Still you miss out the human part and possible relationships. As relationships matter in sales you miss a very important part. - In order to be able to understand the problems to be solved and their decision process you need to know the customer better by using the small talk before each business conversation. 10. Smart phone playing Playing with your smart phone during the conversation gives the impression of being uninterested as your toy is more important or interesting. - Just keep your phone in your jacket and put it in meeting mode or even turn it off. 11. Cell phone answering You just answer any phone call on your mobile that you receive during the meeting or The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 6
  7. 7. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales even a conference call. Your customer will feel unimportant and not respected. - Set your telephone to quiet mode or even turn it off as during a meeting or conference call your customer is the most important (at that moment). 12. Too long presentations Your presentations just take too long wasting the precious time of your customer. - Be to the point with your presentations. Moreover the attention span of all people is limited. 13. Time flies Your meetings and telephone calls always demand more time than average. - Stay on topic and be brief with your information concentrating on the possible business opportunities. Effectiveness counts while not wasting the time of the customer. 14. You always talk You just keep on talking and pitching and forget about their problems. - Make sure the customer talks the most and explains you about their problems, situations and limitations. Ask open ended questions. 15. Wild guesses Pretending to know what you’re talking about while you really haven’t got a clue. As the customer probably knows more than you, he will spot this immediately and your trust is destroyed. - Be honest and admit you don’t know, write down the question while promising to get the information as soon as possible which gives you a cliffhanger for having a subject during a follow-up conversation. 16. The big pretender You pretend to know all in order to make a big impression. - A meeting is not to impress, but to co-operate and find solutions together. 17. No added value Your information is what can be found on the company website or internet: there is no added value from your visit. - Bring your expertise or experience in order to make a meeting or telephone call interesting and beneficial for the customer as you help to solve their problem. 18. The co-operation lie Your co-operation proposition comes down to selling stuff to them or through their channels. You have raised expectations that wasn’t your plan thus distrusting your customer.There has to be a benefit for both in a co-operation. - If you want to sell to them, then make it clear upfront. 19. Trashing the competitor In the heat of the discussion you could trash your competitor. - Never ever trash your competitor as it will likely trash you too. Your customer considers the company as your competitor due to a certain merit or impression created. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 7
  8. 8. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales 20. The questioner gets all the attention During the meeting you mainly pay attention to the person asking the most questions. However it is likely this person is not the decision taker but merely an influencer He is probably a geek who can ask more questions than you ever can answer. - Make sure you pay enough attention to the decision taker and involve him into the conversation in order to find out what he really wants. Geeks don’t buy. 21. Yes man Promising to do everything or being capable of delivering everything the customer asks won’t fly long. - You need to say no to your customer. Limit your offering in order to stay credible and being capable to supply what has been promised within the agreed delay time. 22. Granting additional discounts In order to win a customer, you give additional discounts. - Once you have started this discount game, customers will continue to ask for more discounts for the next purchases. 23. The soon promises Your production or shipments are delayed still you keep the customer believing the goods or services will be delivered soon. - Be honest and set the exact new delivery dates you can keep instead of lying. Breaking the trust will be reflected in your future sales. After the meeting 24. Dropping slow customers If a customer or lead requires too long to decide, you forget about them. - Slow moving customers can become big customers as these bigger companies have a longer decision process. 25. The invoice After all the negotiations on delivery terms and pricing, a minor item gets added to the invoice. Why did you have all those meetings for? - Make sure there are no surprises (even minor ones) on the invoice as the price has been agreed upon as you need to have new meetings with them. 26. Neglecting to contact afterward Once the deal has been closed and the invoice paid, you forget about your customer as you don’t find it anymore challenging or you see no obvious additional sales. - Acquiring customer cost many times more than keeping a customer. A customer who has decided in your favor, you need to keep as they have taken the risk with you. Any of these mistakes apply to you? The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 8
  9. 9. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales If you trash your competitor, you are likely to trash yourself During any conversation with potential customers or customers you need to avoid to trash your competitor as this is likely to have a negative effect on your image and business too. Often during meetings and telephone calls your competitors become one of the items discussed. Then you have to avoid to say anything really negative about them. The worst thing you can do is presenting bogus reasons why their solutions are less good or your solutions are better than the ones of the competitor. People know more than they say they know and by using the Internet they have access to a vast amount of information and knowledge. When you start trashing the competitor it is often perceived as being on a losing strike. Any negative statement will reflect negatively on you too. However you can state the main differences in function, features, market segment or even years of experience. Try to steer the conversation away from your competitor to another subject like: - Your references or successes - Back to the problem that your customer needs to get solved Your competitor has its’ merits and benefits too, else he wouldn’t be perceived as your competitor by the customer. All sales bonus systems will fail due to change Sales bonus plans for continuous growth If sales bonus systems would be the perfect motivator, then market leading companies would only grow bigger as the sales bonus system would continue to fuel the sales(men). However this seems not to be the case. Could it be that sales bonus systems are not really stimulating and motivating? Or stimulating the wrong or less effective sales actions and efforts? Not optimal ? Even the most complex commission plans (that are hard to understand) can miss their initial beneficial goal for the company. Salesmen will optimize their benefit As with any mathematical system based on rules and conditions, salesmen will optimize for their own benefit. Thus the smallest mistake in any of the assumptions made during the design and development of the bonus plan will generate less optimal sales efforts as the salesmen will optimize their bonus – not the benefit or bottom line of the company. Their bonus is the most important. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 9
  10. 10. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Salesmen have no full control On the other hand the salesman is not completely in control of the products or solutions he can propose to his potential buyers: R&D, development, quality control or production can be late in delivering the new product, version or the specific adapted solution for a market segment. Delayed delivery means fewer bonuses for the salesman. The assumptions are wrong due to constant change All bonus system are based upon assumptions and starting from a given fact or measurement. However during the course of just one year the market changes, new products are introduced by the company and the competition. Hence the assumptions or starting point are no longer reflecting the reality of the market and the level of competition. Sales bonus systems are locked-up systems that reward sales efforts in a changing market. Commission systems will always fail as the market is constantly changing. As sales people are driven by their commissions much effort is wasted to achieve the wrong goals. As the salesmen of the bigger or leading companies have the wrong focus or goal, it creates opportunities for the competitors or smaller companies to step in or start-ups to have a window of opportunity. the larger the company the slower it will react to the ever changing market. What if there would be a bonus system for R&D or development dept.? – A bonus system for delivering products on time – A bonus plan for delivering products with a minimal number of bugs Or should salesmen have no commissions a constantly changing commission plan is not manageable? As the traveling salesman says: All hotel ceilings are white At first it seems interesting and challenging: To be a international traveling salesman voyaging from customer to customer visiting many cities in a continent or even the world. It seems the journey opportunity of your life. The chance of your life-time to see and meet many different people and cultures. Seems like holiday forever all paid by the company. However the reality is: - You leave home in the early morning or even in the weekends - You spend many hours waiting for the next connecting flight - You need to commute from the airport to the customer with a taxi driver that you have to trust - You need to verify every spending to make sure they don’t cheat upon you - You need to collect and keep all the bills for your expenses report The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 10
  11. 11. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales - You take your lunch alone on the way to the customer - You have meetings with people that seemingly have no time pressure, unlike yourself - At the end of the day you have dinner again alone - You prepare the meetings for the next day or reply your emails alone in your room - In the hotel room you zap the TV-channels – mainly viewing the news as you can’t follow tv-shows. - Maybe have brought some movies DVD’s to watch on your portable - You might read a book, but these consume space and weigh a lot to carry - When trying to go asleep you stare at the ceiling which is remarkably similar to all other white hotel ceilings - In the middle of the night you wake up due to the jet-lag and stare at the white ceiling again. - You have your breakfast again alone - You pack your luggage, hoping to leave nothing behind (stress) - You pay the hotel bill – hopefully at the agreed rate – else you need to discuss and argue - Leave for meeting the next customer - The stress you get from waiting lines in the airport, queuing in the taxi line, missing or canceled flights - You go through many climate changes in a short amount of time (one week) - In the air plane you are with many other people who can have diseases and viruses: more chance to become ill - You get ill over the weekend at home - The air miles earned are harder to spend than you ever could imagine. You hardly can use them: mainly for an upgrade to business class. The life of the traveling salesman becomes boring rather soon as you start missing your family, your social contacts at home, your spare time activities and your free time. In the end you come to the conclusion that: - All hotel rooms have white ceilings - The excitement of travel becomes the stress of travel - You hardly meet up with local people - You hardly see any foreign cultures as all major cities have become rather similar - You may know many people that you don’t know really You are locked up between travel, waiting in the airport lobby’s, commuting, meetings, lonely meals, your emails and the hotel rooms with the white ceilings. The apparently challenging and exciting life of the traveling salesman is asocial and becomes boring too soon as all the hotel ceilings are white. What was your expectation as a traveling salesman ? How fast did you get cut off from your family, friends and social life – and got bored ? The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 11
  12. 12. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Go climb a mountain and conquer it for your confidence ! If you are in sales you need to be confident. Potential customers from the influencer, decision marker to the purchasing manager will all notice when you are lacking confidence. This can lead to the spiral of negativity making you loose one of the virtues of the salesman. Your jar of luck can become empty before your jar of experience has become full. In order to keep or regain your confidence you need to climb a mountain. It doesn’t need to be a physical mountain: it can be anything from a physical effort, to a travel, a journey. It doesn’t even need to be a physical challenge as it can be something you achieve in your social life that you have considered as a challenge. The goal is that the conquering of the challenge only has to make you feel good and give you the confidence to be able to achieve something special. You are special. The climbing and the conquering of your of challenge, the achievement to reach the top or your goal will: - Give you your confidence back - Increase your confidence You so necessarily need for achieving in sales by being confident in sales. Find your mountain. Climb it. Become confident. Selling common products to a dull market isn’t sexy but challenging Some markets are considered as sexy: information technology, mobile systems, aviation, fashion, … and even cars. However most businesses and markets seem to be dull with dull products: not at all sexy at all as they have: - No new technology breakthroughs - No market changing new entries - No gamer changer - No innovation in products or solutions - No real surprises and instant changes in leadership – just slow evolutions. This is what makes them challenging to sell as the products are not remarkable. Avoid competing on price Still the challenge to sell remains in this market with fierce price competition as this together with high service remains the main reasons to sell. People know your product or solutions and have the same level of knowledge about your The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 12
  13. 13. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales direct competitors. The problem for your sales meetings is there is not much to tell or news to bring as business has become recurrent business with known competitors, known products and known service levels. All that remains is to discuss the pricing and quantities to be delivered over the next period. In all circumstances this pricing discussion should be avoided at first as your need to bring the benefits and advantages of your solution. Price discussions will only lower your price. Continue or break the mold You have 2 choices: - Continue - Break the mold Continue: Continue to do business the way it always has been. Nothing will happen as long as your competitors don’t move or change. The problem with this is that in business nothing is constant. The only constant is change. Thus just continuing like before can turn out badly sooner or later. Break the mold: Start making your meetings interesting with presenting additional free information concerning the business you are in, concerning your customers’ business. This information can be: - Viewpoints from respected industry or economic leaders related to the business of your customers. - Case studies: people always like to know how competitors are doing - Related university research findings - Results of surveys your company has done - Look for solutions beyond your solution by offering a complete solution concept In every business or market there are interesting stories, events or related interesting stories or findings. Additional related information will expose your content to others. The interesting content challenge The goal is to make your visits more interesting in order to get more attention and be remarkable. Alternatively or additionally you can publish this information on line. The challenge is in creating and providing sufficient interesting content for your customers or potential customers in order to stay ahead or to differentiate of your competitors. The goal is to engage your customers or future customer by content and information allowing you to surpass the competition. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 13
  14. 14. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Will you break the mold or just continue like always was? Your CRM is crap when marketing …. Your CRM is crap when your marketing dept. issues a procedure on how to upload contacts using a spreadsheet as this indicates: - Too many useless fields are required to be entered - Contacts can’t be entered without a project set-up - Spreadsheets are already in use as CRM by sales people instead of the CRM - The CRM sole purpose is marketing not sales - Sales are using a different system to keep track of their contacts and customers / leads - The CRM has no significance for the salesman The result is that the CRM is not supported by the employees, especially not the sales people. They find the CRM crap as it sucks. The main danger and cost is the existence of spreadsheets in use as a CRM by the sales people: there are at least 2 sets of data exist within your company (data redundancy – data duplication). This increases the cost of maintaining the data: in the spreadsheets and in the CRM. Instead of issuing a procedure for uploading data using a spreadsheet into the CRM, marketing should investigate how to make: - The input into the CRM convenient and effective - The CRM useful for sales people One of the main objectives should be that the CRM should become a source of information instead a data entry system for marketing and management purposes. There is enough data available in the company and on the Internet to make a CRM an interesting source of information to sales and marketing. This will allow having the CRM supported by the entire company. How crappy is your CRM? Where did it fail? What if your competitor releases a Sales Cowboy You have been selling several years; you know your business and your competitors. Your world is steady and controlled as every party knew the other. You all trusted and respected each other. The business is under control. The change of the controlled world One day one of your competitors replaces the sales rep. with a rather young sales guy. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 14
  15. 15. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Although he is inexperienced in the business, he manages to set-up meetings with most of your customers in a very short amount of time and seems to move ahead with negotiations at a speed you are not used to. Nothing wrong you think until you start finding out he is making propositions you cannot compete with – propositions and offers he cannot realize without making a loss: - Breakneck prices - Full services at entry level pricing - Incredible or not feasible promises Then it comes clear to you: you are facing a “Sales Cowboy”. This type of salesmen will do whatever it takes to win a customer. Their goal is to win any customer and gain market share and even try to face you out. Disaster has struck for you! Competing with the Sales Cowboy Now you have to overcome the objections and the pricing the Sales Cowboy has communicated with your customers. Counter the inexperienced Sales Cowboy As the Sales Cowboy is new to the business he will not know the business of the customers. You will have to build trust using your knowledge and experience of the business. Provide your knowledge and assets to the customer for free. Counter with facts and benefits Previously your products or solutions had good facts and benefits that sold. As the market and business hasn’t changed overnight you should use these facts and benefits over and over gain. The price war Don’t compete on the price war. You need to survive. The Sales Cowboy is aiming to eliminate you in order to control the market afterwards. Let him do so as he will have to report to his VP Sales and explain. The unfeasible promises You know the Sales Cowboy cannot realize the promises he has made. Let him fail. The customers will return to you. The growth problem As the Sales Cowboy has made many promises and can have acquired many customers he and his company need to deliver what has been promised. All companies come under stress, strain and run into operational problems when the sales increase significantly over a short period of time. This will happen and cause problems with the customers. Soon these customers will come back to you and never return. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 15
  16. 16. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Internal envy and competition As the Sales Cowboy is successful as a newbie in the company, he will not be loved and liked by all of his colleagues. They will take care of him too or avoid supporting him. Sales cowboys don’t last long, but in the meantime they will hurt the business. When and where did you encounter your Sales Cowboy? Or are you a Sales Cowboy ? When the Master of the Universe gets into the Spiral of Negativity When you close sales on a regular basis and have customers signing contracts, you feel great – almost invincible. It feels like you are the part of the ‘Masters of the Universe’. The spiral of negativity However when you have a series of missing sales and deals, you start to doubt about yourself. If you start doubting about your capacities and skills, you will start to show too much negativity in your conversations and in your attitude: your body language will show signs of negativity. This will reflect in your sales: even less deals. The switch from ‘Master of the Universe’ to ‘Failure’ (or ‘Looser’) can happen relatively fast. You just need a series of lost deals and you will feel as you have lost the magic touch. You will start doubting about every step you take in the sales process. About every call, every email, and every bit of information you send. You are getting scared about the next mistake you will make. The spiral of negativity has taken possession over you. This whirlpool of negativity will take over your entire life: both professional and private. Unwind the spiral of negativity with success If you don’t have any achievements, nothing to be proud of in your business life then you urgently need success in your private life. Just to reassure yourself. The success in your private life can be anything and it doesn’t need to be big or fantastic. Just some small successes in your private life will help. You can build on these successes to overcome the negativity in you business life. - Rejoice - Show confidence again - Be proud of yourself The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 16
  17. 17. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Yes you can do it! Being the Master of the Universe is just a belief in yourself. Do you have the handshake of a salesman ? In sales a firm handshake can make the difference as it brings trust. A good handshake can create a favorable impression. A bad handshake can give the wrong first impression. How is the firm handshake done ? When offering your hand and during the handshake look into the eyes of the other. - Then put the thumb to the thumb. - Smile while saying a greeting. - Shake one, two, three, and out. Make sure the grip is firm but don’t crush the other as it really can hurt which will give a negative feeling. The bad handshakes The trained too firm grip: The typical firm grip is sometimes so firm you don’t trust him any more as you feel it has been trained. Not honest – not from his hart. The Sandwich handshake: The free hand sandwiches the other person’s hand. Then one can get really scared, as this method is certainly trained – over trained. The salesman wants to make a too good impression he is too smooth. The Over-The-Top handshake Touching or tapping on your shoulder with his free hand during the handshake. This gives you the feeling you are being cheated or lied upon. The salesman is not to be trusted at all as he is coming too near to you. Sweaty hand: A sweaty wet hand gives a really bad feel. If people have sweaty hands, they should swipe their hand(s) before they shake. Why is the salesman sweating? Is he so unsure? Is he hiding something? No clean hand: People should make sure their hand is clean – including their finger nails. The bad impression having dirty hands – or you are not important enough to take care of his dirty hands. The too brief shake: If the hands just touch and the handshake is just down and the person opens his hand The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 17
  18. 18. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales again, then apparently he doesn’t want to have anything to do with you. He doesn’t want your business. The soft hand: Some people just can’t give a firm hand and you can feel the weak hand tissue. Apparently you are not important enough to close his hand firmly for you. If you as a customer are not important then how will he be or treat you after you have signed the deal? The hesitating handshake The salesman hesitates for pressing firmly. He is clearly thinking about something else. You are not his focus or on his mind. Then why do business with him? The eternal shake The salesman keeps on shaking your hand and greeting and smiling. This can be embarrassing, but also could express the hopelessness of the salesman as he hopes to be closer to you. The salesman clearly has problems reaching his budget. The fingers only handshake Apparently the salesman finds you not interesting enough to give you his whole hand in order to keep the contact brief. Clearly not having the need for your business or he is convinced you will buy in any case. Not all fingers Instead of reaching out with all fingers, one or two finger are bent back. Not clear what the purpose of this is, but this game is not to be trusted. Crossed fingers People have their fingers crossed as it is a symbol of breach of contract. Don’t do business with them. Do you have a firm handshake of a salesman? Any bad handshake types? How to win from the market leader “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” Quote of Will Durant. It is always hard to win from the market leader. People in companies will buy the products or solutions of the market leader just because of: - The brand name - The references The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 18
  19. 19. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales - The fact of not risking to get fired by choosing the leader - The wide spread availability The great civilization of the market leader Your market leading competitor is the great civilization with all its’ directors, managers, employees, products, solutions, marketing, branding, distributors, resellers and world wide support. You cannot conquer or win from the leader or overtake the leader as long as their operations and internal working are fine as these are operating smoothly. They have the best salesmen, the best presentations, the best sales engineers, the best marketing, … The market leader seems invincible. The decline of the market leader However as with any larger company, the internal affairs, the internal politics, the ego- trippers and the financial engineering become more and more important than the actual operations. As a market leader it is likely the company acquires smaller competitors or companies in other markets in order to expand ad grow business. The effects and problems of a larger company are: - Managers start to aim for more power or prestige. - Employees start to aim for higher positions. - Internal differences in status and functions give friction. - Identification with the company is lost. - The wrong people get promoted over the people that really should get rewarded. - People are promoted for all the wrong reasons. - Managers get promoted above their capabilities: Peter Principle. - Politics become more important than the individual performances. - Tax evasion schemes and financial investments can bring in more money than the operations. The leading competitor starts losing focus on its’ main operations, marketing, sales and product innovations. The leading company is destroying itself from within. Look for signs of decline In case you are competing with a big market leader then start looking for signs of self- destruction from within. Then it is time to attack and win their customers focusing on the newly emerged weak spots. This time you have the advantage of being small: it will take the great civilization very long before they will react upon their new weaknesses and your attacks. In the meantime you will have gained customers and market share. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 19
  20. 20. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Do not attack them earlier as you will be wasting your time. A great corporation is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. How is your market leader evolving ? Have you spotted the first cracks ? What is the most important in the B2B buying process ? During the purchase process when people need to decide on buying, they not only focus and evaluate on functions, features and benefits, but their main concern is about limiting the risks related to this decision. Risk indicators in B2B purchase process How does a potential client decide if it’s risky to do business with a vendor or supplier? - Established company or a sole trader? - Company registration number? - Where are the offices located? - Is the company address on the website? - Telephone number available? - Can the company really be called? - The time it takes to reply an email? - Possible to set-up a face-to-face meeting? - Are the names of the C-level available? On the Internet (LinkedIn?) Buying risk avoidance - References and referrals - Their personal experience with the vendors from previous project or purchase - The approved vendor list of the company: the creator of the list takes the risk - The brand importance of the vendor: the more a household name the less risk expected - Their personal risk: How big is my own risk? What can I loose? Maybe the last one is even more important as people don’t want to expose their career (or even life) to any risk. If they take a daring decision that turns out into negative result or bad experience then they can be at risk themselves: end of career, end of job. Therefore strong brands and companies with good referrals will score better in B2B. Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM or Microsoft. Google on the other hand has still problems entering the BtoB market: Google is great for a free service like search and maps, but when it comes to real business or business processes then decision makers tend to avoid Google. Recession vs prosperity The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 20
  21. 21. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales During recession or limited growth economy companies having well-known brand names and long referral lists will receive the highest amount of inbound leads. They will be the most successful as people will address to these companies in order to avoid risks. On the other hand during prosperous times when: - Companies need to innovate in order to keep ahead of their competitors - Time is (more) money - Better efficiency is most important The importance of the risk factor decreases as opportunity knocks instead. People are eager to take risks in order to: - Progress - Move ahead in their career Then lesser known companies will see an increase of inbound leads as the challenge is to innovative or have cost reducing solutions in order to compete the competition. How do you perceive the risk avoidance of your buyers? The 25 conference requirements for salesmen Initially the main goals of conferences are to learn about new methods and techniques from colleagues and vendors and allowing you to reach out the experts in the matters in one location. However for anyone in sales the content of the conference can be of a lesser importance as the main purpose of any salesman is selling. What are the ideal characteristics of a conference for a salesman? 1. Networking possibilities: the more the better 2. Enough professional attendees 3. Not too much people as you will have problems selecting and meeting with all of them 4. Big tags in order to read company and name allowing selecting people and addressing with appropriate question. 5. Walking lunch and dinner: sitting at a table is a waste of time as you can only address 3 to 4 people around you. 6. Enjoyable environment: dark rooms and lobbies will sell less good 7. Boring speakers can be a benefit as you could have more people to grab in the patio. 8. Too boring speakers and they all go elsewhere (shopping?) 9. No Wifi as else people on their portable will not be approachable for a conversation 10. No Internet access booth in order to have people open for a conversation instead of waiting silently in lines 11. Things to complain about making it is easier to open a conversation 12. Reasonably priced else only a very select number of people will show up 13. Not near by a shopping centre in order to have people stay 14. Rain or freezing cold in order to have the attendance stay 15. Limited number of Vendors – if the number of vendors out number the others there is The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 21
  22. 22. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales no lead generation possible. 16. Just long enough coffee breaks (15min) in order to have people stay on the conference or lobby (not hotel room) 17. Frequent coffee breaks (2 in the morning – 1 in the afternoon) 18. No heavy lunch: else people fall asleep in the conference room 19. Limited wine supply during lunch: if tipsy or drunk they don’t remember you or what you were trying to sell 20. Capability of stealing the attendee list before your competitor steals the list. 21. The dinner is a special environment in order to have the complete venue joining this event 22. The less people know each other the better: as salesmen you can talk to all 23. No adjacent trade show as it draws the attention to the trade show boots 24. No major sports event happening as people will watch the sports on TV-sets instead. 25. No major world crisis as it affects everybody and draws the attention to: TV, Internet, newspapers Do you have any other suggestions or requirements on your conference whish list? You Are Eliminated ! is common in the complex B2B sale Reality TV series are hard The horrifying phrase contestants of reality television series like Big Brother, Americas’ Next Top Model, Idol, The Apprentice, Runaway Project,… don’t want to hear is: “You Are Eliminated”. As the build-up to the elimination is painstaking slow, the contestants are all nervous which leads to the eliminated person to show his emotions and express very openly preferably with tears. Or even warn for a future revenge. It is even better if one or two of the survivors also burst out in tears for their lost friend or companion. The more sadness, aggression or anger the better for the TV Reality Show. The B2B complex sale is harder Every complex B2B sale is a similar elimination game with several rounds in the sales process. The big differences with the reality TV-shows are: - The salesmen can guess their competitors but don’t face them - The salesmen never meet in front of the jury side by side - The incomplete jury: the CEO decides but doesn’t participate in the meetings - The elimination decision isn’t communicated that easily – salesmen need to inquire - There is no drama involved - The salesman has no place to show emotion or think of revenge - The competition in reality TV shows takes a short time span (hours – sometimes days), whereas the sales cycle can take months and even years The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 22
  23. 23. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Still “You are Eliminated” is a common happening in everyday life of the salesman and he will not express his anger or aggression towards the missed client. Instead he will try to keep doors open and hoping for a next chance with this company. How about your emotions when you loose a deal? The 7 great pretenders on trade shows wasting your time All kinds of people come to tradeshows – even to business trade shows: - The real decision makers - The influencers - The R&D - The employees - The salesmen of your competitors - The head hunters - The pretenders The pretenders are maybe the worst kind as they consume your time and no business will ever be generated: 1. The former decision maker People with a certain maturity or even notoriety that used to be in the driving seat of a company, but have been promoted to the ‘Director of the Garage or Printing dept.’ or even dismissed. Still on the trade show they will pretend to still be important and will ask questions of all kinds that are quite related to the past and not the present. Avoid them if possible if you can recognize them. Due to their previous experience they are hard to recognize. 2. The geek as non-influencer Some geeks pretend to be influencers and will fire many questions to your sales people on your booth. Questions they can’t answer due to the highly technical matters. Hence the need for the presence of a sales engineer or people with a technical background in order to answer adequately the questions posed. Still they are probably a waste of time. The problem is how to segregate the real influencers from the fake? - Asking their business card in order to see their title or position in the company. - Asking about the relation with the decision makers in the company. - Asking about the amount and timing of budgets available for such projects or products. 3. The sole trader with big plans Typically they have wild or disruptive ideas that they are testing or looking for confirmation by asking questions to your sales people. By asking simple questions about their company or just reading their business card can The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 23
  24. 24. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales reveal the smallness of the company they are presenting. Maybe this can be interesting for your product managers to catch new ideas or concepts but for your sales people and the purpose of the trade show they are a waste of time. 4. The businessman in need for a business They pretend to be in charge of a big important company with many relations to the large corporations or even government in their company. They hope to start an additional business with your products and solutions as their current business is no longer profitable. By pretending to have the keys to the foreign market they try to get a new deal or even exclusive deal with your company. Not only the time of the salesman is wasted, but also the VP Sales will get involved and waste his time listening to the stories the pretender will server to state his status and relations. As this is a bout the market in a foreign country with mostly unknown players in the market, it is very difficult to know if the person is a pretender or not. Still the more important he presents himself the less likely he is really successful as successful business men aren’t looking for new opportunities on a trade show: they get new products and solutions presented to them due to their importance in their market. 5. The dreaming entrepreneur These people have defined or created a concept solution for which they see a market opportunity, but need the technical and practical matters to be solved. In order to do so they hope to find answers and solutions on the trade show. However chances are the market is virtually non-existent, the technical issues will make the solution to expensive and the legal or certification requirements are hard to overcome. A good salesman should see the warning signs in the vague business plan or concept the entrepreneur is trying to present. 6. The failed entrepreneur They used to have a thriving business but as technology has changed or the market opportunity has passed, they now hope to make a comeback. They will pretend all is fine and under control and having many relations with possible customers in the market based upon their previous success. They hope to get a distribution or reseller contract for your products. As they are running out of funds, they cannot invest enough capital to be a distributor or reseller. However the lacking of funding, employees and the relations with companies have long gone, this is not the right partner to start with as distributor or reseller. It will be difficult to spot the failed entrepreneur as he can rely upon his experience of the past. Only by asking direct, precise and specific questions about people at companies you will be able to scratch the surface of what he pretends to be. 7. The consultant The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 24
  25. 25. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales They will start with pretending interest in your products or solutions. Instead of inquiring for a possible purchase, they will turn the conversation into selling their services to you. The longer it takes that they need to start their sales pitch, the more time is wasted for your salesmen. In most cases these consultants are very well dressed, speak clearly and are knowledgeable about your market. The fastest way to reveal their identity is by analyzing their business card: - Company name: Whatsoever & Partners - Title: unclear function - Email: web based - Website: no domain name - Address: located in a residential area Trade show pretenders are costly As a trade show is very costly and a lead will cost above $1,500 or even $2,500, it is utmost important that the qualification of anyone presenting on the booth is handled quickly. The more time a salesman wastes on a pretender the less chance to obtain a real lead. Even worse is when a bad or missing qualification has happened and the contact information of the pretender gets registered with a write-up into the leads file. Then it gets processed into the CRM system: more worthless costs like follow-up emails and calls. As in The Platters’ song: Pretending that I’m doing well My need is such I pretend too much Adrift in a world of my own I play the game but to my real shame Why should a new client get a discount? Customers expect discounts It is always a joy and a thrill to acquire a new customer, due to the excitement for the potential new sales. During the negotiations for the first order, salesmen are tempted to give a discount. Just in order to avoid that the new customer should walk away from the deal as people expect to get discounts. However should a new customer be given a discount for his first order? The customer hasn’t proved anything as he just is making promises about the first and future orders. He hasn’t even proved to be able to pay on time. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 25
  26. 26. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Thus if they want a discount, it is probably better you let him walk away from the deal. If you start giving a discount on the initial order, where are you going to end up on all the subsequent orders? If the customer really wants a discount, then you still can propose: - A rebate for the next order in order to retain him as a customer. - A free additional service that has a marginal higher cost price for you. Stick to the pricelist If there is a pricelist, then you should stick with the pricelist for a start. Typically the price list contains volume discounts allowing granting these if he buys sufficient large quantity. If not there is no reason for giving him a discount. If you start giving away a discount on the first order then you only can grant a bigger discount on the subsequent orders. Only in case when there is a special offer on hand then the new customer can get this exceptional discount. These types of discounts are clearly defined and limited in time for not creating a precedent. Thus the next time he shouldn’t expect to obtain the same pricing. The same applies to coupons which are one time events too. Discounts Discounts have 2 functions: - To attract new customers with a bargain or special deal pricing - To retain the customer as loyal customer A new customer doesn’t deserve a discount as he only has made promises and suggestions about his future purchases and payments. Moreover as he has gone through his B2B purchase cycle, a discount is not at the order as he had already decided upon the pricing without the additional discount. Do you give a discount at the first purchase order? Do you give rebates for the next order? Why Google has become your main competitor in Sales ! The purpose of emails, calls, webinars and meetings Do you bring more value to the table than Google? If so then you can send an email or have a call, a web seminar or a meeting! If you as a salesman can’t bring more information to your probable customer then why should they take time for: - Reading your email The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 26
  27. 27. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales - Talking to you over a call - Participate in a web seminar - Have a meeting? Reading an email is less costly than having a call, which is less costly than participating in a web seminar. The costliest is having a meeting with several people at your office location. Of course the time required to search on the Internet has a cost too but that is often ignored. The sole reason people take time to have a call or a meeting with you is because you bring additional or structured information that they can’t find on the Internet or is difficult to aggregate from the Internet information. It is your expertise and your (free) consulting that is required and makes the difference as in most case all information is available on the Internet: On-Demand information without the hassle of making an appointment. Google, Bing and Yahoo are your competitors The issue is about the time you consume from executives, managers and mid-level decision makers as their time is limited. If they grant you time to have a call or a meeting or even reading your emails, they have to decide what their best investment is: - The Internet information using Google, Yahoo or Bing: apparently free - The email, call, webinar or meeting with you - The email, call, web seminar or meeting with your competitor What is the most beneficial for their company and themselves? Why waste time with you or your competitor? If they are capable of getting the same information directly from the Internet, your next request for a call, web seminar, meeting or opening your email will be ignored. Thus you need to bring value with every communication you make. You need to bring a scoop – a first – a new point of interest – an additional benefit. Your information, expertise and consulting should make the difference Google & Co have raised the bar for your sales efforts and no longer is your first competitor the salesman of the typical competitor: it has become Google, Yahoo and Bing. The problem is: Google, Yahoo and Bing are open 24 x 7 from anywhere Your prospects can search on the Internet from anywhere and anytime: while you are asleep, during the weekend, while you are on holiday, … While you will only be available a certain business hours at at certain places. The Internet search is not solely used during the initial selection process, but also during the entire buying process. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 27
  28. 28. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales You have to compete with Google as your main sales competitor and bring more adequate, problem-matching or problem-solving information than what is available on the Internet for free. In order to compete with Google, you have to bring the art of understanding people, their business problems, internal politics and pains in an organization, your consulting and convert or translate all the issues or problems into solutions (preferably fitting your solutions) and define goals for results. How well do you compete with Google? How much information can your customers find on your solutions on the Internet? How competitive are you compared with Google? What do you bring additionally to the table? Unbearable silences during meeting potential customer During any conversation a moment of silence can happen. Even during a meeting with a potential customer or a client. There is nothing wrong with the silence itself if the conversation picks up afterwards naturally. It is probably not that bad to have a short silence in any meeting or discussion. However it could be an indication of disconnection between the 2 parties involved. In some case it can become unbearable and give discomfort for both parties. You all will feel the pain. However it can also be used as advantage for your sales process if you keep your mouth shut. Some people feel the need to jump in and fill the silence immediately. This can be: - You the Salesman. - Your Support engineer. - The Influencer. - The Decision maker. Not breaking the silence You as the Salesman As the salesman, you should be able to keep the uncomfortable silence for a while and if nobody speaks then re-launch the conversation that engages both the decision maker and the influencer. If you can pose an adequate open question the discussion will start again. Still it is not easy to ask such a question. In any case avoid starting a sales pitch! Your Support engineer The worst case is when your support engineer tries to open the discussion again: The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 28
  29. 29. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales especially with technical matters. Technical matters as he probably is mainly interested in the more technical or features aspects of the solution or the problem and not the business itself. Thus just hope he keeps silent or in the best case poses an open ended question. The customer should break the silence The Influencer If the Influencer starts talking, let him talk. Make sure you engage in a conversation that the Decision maker finds interesting. However chances are the Decision maker is not interested in the specific items or matters the Influencer finds interesting. If the Decision maker is not interested, you need to change the subject as soon as possible by asking an open question to the Decision maker. Else you will loose attention of the Decision maker or he will start a second conversation with the Support engineer which will beyond your control. The Decision maker The best case is if the Decision maker starts talking again as in this case he probably will tell too much by: - Elaborating about the problems to be solved - Your competitors or competing products - Explaining more about the internal matters related to the decision. Whatever he tells it will be interesting for you and your sales process. The silence after a question In case after you have posed a question there is a silence, then wait at least 10 seconds. Typically you or your Support engineer will interrupt the silence within 3 seconds mainly by repeating the question or even by suggesting the answer. People being questioned need up to 10 seconds to formulate an answer. Thus give them the required time. Remember they need to speak out and inform you – not visa versa. Thus take your time and wait until they answer you or continue the conversation without answering the question. If after 10 seconds they haven’t answered the question then repose the question. What did you do with unbearable and uncomfortable silences during a meeting? Did you start talking again? Did you start your sales pitch again? Or were you able to pose an open ended question? The 7 benefits of asking in order to understand your customer Did you or do you understand the problem of the customer that he just explained? Most people (even in Sales) don’t listen or just hear half of the story or the problem. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 29
  30. 30. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales As soon as they see or recognize a pattern, a recognizable event or an indication they have seen before, they jump on conclusions and start their sales pitch. Ask, listen and learn about the problem So did you understand fully the problem of the customer ? No: Then shut up and start asking questions. Listen to what he has to say or how he describes the problem. Maybe you will understand and can offer him help. Yes: Then shut up and ask questions in order to be certain of the best suiting solution or to be able to dig deeper into his problem. Listen to what he has to say or how he describes the problem. Maybe you will understand and can offer him help. For all meetings and all telephone calls the goal is to have a conversation, not a reason to start your product pitch. During your conversation you can evolve slowly into your product pitch when you are certain that you are offering your best matching solution. The internal selling is the hurdle As it is in only rare cases people can decide without approval of their superiors, your buyer, influencer or decision maker needs to sell internally your solution too. If there is something missing or there is a uncertainty about the solution in relation to the problem, it will cause a delay in the decision or the internal selling will even not stand any chance. If there is an uncertainty or missing part in the sales pitch, your internal seller needs to come back to you and formulate the difference or the perceived difference between the solution you proposed and the problem he had defined or has been defined by his internal audience. Being able to define or describe this difference requires effort and attention: causing delays or even missing the deal completely if your competitor has done a better job of listening and asking. The 7 benefits of asking in order to understand the customer Thus the better you understand the problem: 1. The better match you can provide with your solution. 2. The better explication you can provide supported by suiting reasons. 3. The less missing parts there will be between problem and solution. 4. The better you can drill your internal seller about your solution. 5. The lesser questions that will be raised by the others. 6. The higher the likelihood the internal selling can be successful. 7. The better you stand out compared to your competitors. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 30
  31. 31. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Thus the next time you think you understand the problem, just ask a few questions more. As people always tell you more than they want to, you will get more information and learn about issues and even about your competitors. How well do you listen? Don’t posh with your Porsche while selling After years of success in sales, you want to treat yourself by having one or more luxury goods: a Porsche, an expensive watch, Italian suits, … However when you park your newly bought Porsche, that you have earned after years of hard work in sales, on the parking lot of the next potential customer, it can be you just decreased the chances of winning this next client significantly. The employees, the managers and the CxO will notice your car. The external luxury you show off to your potential customers can have a big negative impact on your sales immediately. The Porsche can indicate how successful you are, however the customer will guess the Porsche cost is also included into the price quote you offer: even though you are offering them bargain prices. Your potential customer will understand he is somehow paying for your luxury and might look for another vendor in order to get a better deal. Customer is paying for your luxury Thus in order to sell properly and unbiased, don’t show off too much of your luxury you actually can afford. The $10,000 watch, the $5,000 Italian suit, the $200,000 Porsche, …leave it at home. Don’t posh with your Porsche while selling or brag about your latest expensive voyage. The customer knows he will be somehow paying for your luxury. Bragging to the CxO equals fail The CEO or the CxO of the company you are dealing with can probably not afford your luxury as he can be married with kids or even worse when he has been divorced with kids. Thus bragging about or showing off with your luxury can finish your deal faster than you would expect. Similar can happen when you brag about your (extreme) sport achievements as the CxO is maybe incapable of any physical exercise whereas you live the life of a hero during your weekends. People want to deal with other people who they can relate to or feel equal. Buying from a superior or more successful person is unlikely to happen in most cases. You don’t want to fail due to things beyond the business matters. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 31
  32. 32. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Keep low profile Keep your profile average not overwhelming your potential customers at the same time have some hints of your successfulness: a more expensive PDA or small portable as these are related to your activity and can increase your performance. What car do you drive as a salesman? Do you brag about your spending during the small talk? Should you take ‘No’ as final in Sales? In any sales deal there comes a point where the potential customer will tell you about the deal: Yes or No. Never ever take the first time No. - Ask for an explication. - Challenge the decision taken. - Determine if there is an alternative solution or a compromise. - Try to reach a higher placed officer in the company. - Offer a different product. - Offer additional services your competitor can’t offer. - Make a single one-time offer. - Introduce fear. Checking your website In order to know if there is still some interest lurking around at the prospect company, you could verify the visiting activity of the company on your website. If there are still visitors the deal could not be completely lost. Then the quest is to find your advocates within the company. In any case it will give you additional hope and reasons to continue. More than just the missing the deal Now you need to know how deep or how much you want to offer to get the order. It is not solely the winning of this deal, but also the stronger your competitor can become due to winning this order: - Another important reference - A larger production volume allowing for lower purchase pricing or costs - An additional geographic sales area - The possible recurrent future revenue - The possible follow-up orders - The prestige of winning over your company - The defeat weighs on the sales team Thus instead of taking the ‘No’ you will need to weigh the pro and contra of losing this prospect. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 32
  33. 33. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales To sell or not to sell? Anything is allowed if you really want this prospect to become your customer. When the customer says ‘No’ and for reasons that can reach beyond the prospect, the real selling starts as the opportunity and part of the market has been lost. Did you ever win a customer after losing the sales deal? Don’t despair if The Stig in Sales is your Competitor You’d better not encounter The Stig in Sales. The Stig is the best salesman in your business. However as he is only interested in large deals bringing him a big commission, he will pay less attention on the smaller and even medium sized deals. He has to manage his time too you know. Only the biggest deals bring enough return on investment! He will drop or pay little attention to the smaller and medium sized deals as his return on investment on these deals is less. The Stig wants to maximize his earnings so why should he waste his precious time? This leaves the opportunity for the smaller and medium sized deals where you can build your references and grow your brand name. This will eventually allow to go head to head with The Stig on larger deals. Are you The Stig in Sales? Have you ever met The Stig in sales? Point break customers The more waves a customer generates, the more breaks there are at the point: inside sales or salesman. Your sales people are just riding those waves. Customers that make the most noise get the most attention. On the one hand there are the ones that make a lot of noise, but once your resolve their issues, they become your most loyal allies, recommending others to your products or services. Then there are the ones that continuously communicate with you or complain or just attract attention all the time. They are never fully satisfied with anything and probably never will be (for some people this is part of their character). Maybe they shouldn’t have been sold your solution? A CEO I used to work with called these ‘the kindergarten clients’. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 33
  34. 34. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Although these customers get the most attention, they are often not the most profitable ones, especially as you have to spend time and effort to satisfy them with answers and care. Time that could be spend attracting more customers of the easy, satisfied kind instead. At the same time you might be neglecting your better customers. Customers that are satisfied with your business, that place their orders and pay on time. Customers that are probably much more profitable than the very demanding ones. A customer should receive the amount of attention that he deserves in relation to the profit generated and in relation to your other customers. The only way to find out is to keep track of the profitability by customer and the amounts of time spend handling him or her. Often there are no standard tools within the company to do this, but just tracking the time spent in a textfile or spreadsheet for a week can be a real eye opener, giving enough evidence that the customer might be a waste of time. More often than not you will find that these cry-babies shut up without leaving when you stop giving them attention (just like real cry-babies). Instead of trying to satisfy the noisy customers, wouldn’t you rather nurture the ones you don’t hear about? Or even use that time to attract more customers of the easier kind? How many noisy customers do you need to to offset losing an easy customer? If you only had noisy customers, how many would you be able to handle before they start leaving for not getting enough attention? Don’t forget to nurture your easy customers! Should you sell if there’s no fit? Even if the customer asks for a certain product or service, qualify the customer and then decide if you should sell or not. If there is no fit – no good qualification – it is probably the best not to sell and explain clearly to the customer eager to buy the reasons why. Be honest and stay positive. The reasons not to sell are in order to avoid: - Bad word of mouth - Bad press – bad blog posts – bad tweets on Twitter - Unsatisfied clients that will never buy anything else from you - Missing selling to their peers or relations - Wasting time of both companies - High after sales service costs Not selling will build your credibility and it is your chance to become a trusted advisor and not just a commissioner. Will you sell if no fit? The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 34
  35. 35. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Death of the Salesman as BtoB Sales goes online? E-commerce: consumer Consumer goods have been available on the Internet since the early beginnings of the Internet: e-Commerce was all the hype during the Internet Bubble. The website were and are about consumer goods and consumer web services (in many cases related to the action of buying consumer goods). Online selling Internet BtoB services Since a few years during the Web 2.0 era a new breed of e-Commerce sites have emerged: web services for businesses. Previously all business to business services required a physical presence of a sales rep. or even a sales team in order to sell. As the Internet has infiltrated business and web services are being promoted and provided over the Internet without human interaction or interference this change of trend just has happened. In order to enable selling business to business the web services have become specialized or specific services with a minimum of functions and features. Instead of promoting a complex ERP system with (too) many functions and functionalities (for buyers to fully grasp) solutions with only one or two business processes are being offered: CRM, collaboration, invoicing, lead generation or cash management. The process of marketing and sales can be completely automated as: - The marketing message is less complex due to the limited number of business functions - Marketing is done using the Internet presence: website, advertising, blogs, reviews, and email campaigns (spam) - Companies are identified while visiting the website - Selling is limited to answering emails and providing a sign-up page with a payment scheme. No man to man interaction required except for the email conversations. Online marketing As the current method of getting a solution for a problem in a business is mainly started by a search on the Internet, the Internet presence is most important. The online marketing consists of: - The website with content related to the problems the business service solves. - The well positioned advertising of companies - The social media marketing – even for BtoB - The email campaigns The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 35
  36. 36. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales All the online content has become more important for the decision than any other marketing channel for attracting interested parties which are the potential customers. They will visit the website if the vendor throughout the entire buying process. In order to attract Internet buyer-searchers the content and multiple presences on the Internet are king. Both Outbound and Inbound marketing have theirs place. However there is a bias or preference towards Inbound Marketing as: - Inbound marketing is always active instead of the on/off functionality of Outbound marketing. - Inbound marketing has a broader reach. Selling by a salesman is not really required for these web service providers. The persuasion by the content and the presence on the Internet have become more important for engaging the potential customers. No death of a Salesman for complex solutions For solutions offering just one or two business services or functions the death of a Salesman is near. However in all cases with greater complexity of the solution provided the greater need for human interaction by salesmen: discussions, interactions and meetings. If the service is too complex the Internet is not yet convincing enough. Still all decision makers and buyers will visit the website of the vendor during the entire sales process. The online B2B Sales currently is only feasible for relatively simple and straightforward solutions and services limiting to one or 2 business processes only. The question is how far the bar will be raised: up to what level of complexity people in business will buy without human interaction? Currently most companies are still selling the traditional way. The question is how long will this traditional selling last as the Internet has become ubiquitous and will move up the ladder of complexity of business services offered? Has your BtoB sales already been affected by the Internet? Will the Internet kill the salesman? Overcoming objections by turning them into the fuel for selling When the potential customer has an objection, then most sales reps start to feel bad or uncertain: the stress for failure increases. Even if you can formulate an answer correctly or refute the objection, then chances are: - You talk too much and initiate a complete different conversation. - A second objection is brought to the table. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 36
  37. 37. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales This is exactly what you don’t want in both cases: - The lost conversation without a direction - Even more objections. Take your time with objections Most people will try to formulate an answer or refute the objection as fast as possible. Instead of replying it is better to take your time by asking him to explain what he exactly means. Hear him out. The clarification or the restatement of the objection can contain already part of the answer. When listening to his exposé you have a second chance to understand the objection and to look for answers. Then rephrase the objection: if you have it wrong you will be corrected and probably more information is contained in the correction. Moreover people will always tell too much. In order to explain they will reveal more information and reasons of the objection or even the origin of the objection: a director, a previous experience, a similar case of a colleague. The more they explain what is holding them back to buy the better you know what to do or answer and turn around the objection into an advantage. The objection discussion Chances are the objection is getting discussed by the managers of the potential customers amongst them. You don’t have to participate but to correct or acknowledge facts or figures that are mentioned during their discussion. This will certainly work if your advocate is amongst them as he will know: - The situation better from the inside. - Where the objection is coming from. In case there is no discussion and you have no direct answer then you need to get the interest back to the benefits and advantages of your product or solution. The best is to acknowledge the objection and immediately ask how fine the benefits or advantages fit with the problem or need of the company. The battlefield of objections The best salesmen consider objections as the battle field. The sooner they find out about them the better as they then know what lies ahead of them. By knowing the objections they can build a strategy. You have a strategy and in control instead of being rushed and driven out of the deal by the customer. Once you have a strategy you have an advantage over your competitors who might still be clueless. Maybe objections are not that bad after all if you know how to handle them. The objection can become the fuel for selling. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 37
  38. 38. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales The sooner you know the objections the better. The more the potential customer talks the more chance to win as they always will tell too much. Turning objections into sales takes time to learn, but the rewards will be high. How do you handle objections? Have you ever turned objections into a sale? When your buyer is living in the past When the officer or manager your are dealing with for the next purchase constantly refers to the past using: - I remember when … - We used to … - Formerly the … - Things used to be better then … - When we … - Those were the days … It is clear he is living with the past as his memories seem to be more important than the current facts and events that are happening. The Account manager If you are in the business of recurrent sales as an account manager then there is little to worry about as it is unlikely the person wants any change. Especially because not changing suppliers as that includes a departure from the past and a risk. In this case stick with the officer or manager and carry him further with his memories. Just keep an eye on possible competitors that present new solutions to other officers and managers you are not related to or dealing with. The Sales hunter On the other hand if you are proposing a new method or solution that more or less implies a radical change from the past, then you need to start doubting if you are addressing the right person to defend and sell your new solution in this company. Probably not. Someone who lives too much in the past is unlikely to favorable for any change. There are 2 cases: - Your competitor is pushing a radical change and he can not live with it - Your competitor still presents the well known and proven solution. Competitor pushes a new solution In case your competitor is pushing the new solution, then it could be better to propose the conservative solution again. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 38
  39. 39. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales However be careful as your company might be classified as outdated whenever there is a change taking place in this company. You present a new solution In case you are pushing the new solution; it is very unlikely your officer or manager is going to buy. Then you need to get into contact with a different officer or manager. This requires your imagination and sales skills as you need to: - Identify an alternative officer or manager - Getting into contact with him - Make appointments for meeting(s) - Assure he is in favor of change And at the same time taking care to bypass the original contact without upsetting him. Are the decision makers of your customers living in the past or the future? The grass is always greener on the other side: not in sales Although the grass seems always greener on the other side: - The products when needed: get commissions as one can sell - Better customers: not complaining or just easier - More revenue: more commissions - Higher margins: higher commissions - Recurring customers: continuous commissions - Growing customers: increasing commissions More commission means a better life for the Salesman. In sales you need to treat your current customer as if he was the greener one. He needs to feel as important as if he was the most important customer. Problem: limited capacity of caring Caring for your customer takes time and effort. When you aim to give all your customers the feeling of their importance then you will be out of capacity before you know it. There for the need to create and give the feeling of their importance, still managing your time between your different accounts. That is hassling of your capacities. Time management: leads versus customers Typically management and sales people will dedicate more time to new leads and potential customers mainly because: - They could hold more potential - All people like the idea of new and fresh - To boldly go where no man has gone before is more challenging The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 39
  40. 40. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales However nurturing your customers is much more profitable and will be much more rewarding: those people have already decided for your products before thus they are likely to choose them again. Instead the Salesman and the Sales Manager both pay more attention to the leads. It is better to care for what you have than what you could have. Managing your time and effort between the exciting new leads and the old known customers is hard to do. Still you need to give the customer the impression that they are the most important whether they are small or big, old or new, recurrent or potential which requires time management. In all cases you have to show interest for their messages and information as your primary aim is listening in order to react and anticipate when needed. Take care for the customer you have and who is talking to you and balance your time between customers and running behind potential customers with the most likely reward in mind. What is most important to you: a customer or a new lead? Desperate housewives are better off than desperate salesmen We all know what the housewives in ‘Desperate Housewives‘ encounter and react in different situations, but this is nothing what salesmen will do when they get desperate: - for a lead - for closing a deal - for a reorder Salesmen need to get sales in order to get paid in order to pay their bills. The life of a housewife goes on without any doubt. The life of a salesman more or less stops when he has no leads, no deals from new customers or no new orders from existing customers come in. In their being desperate Salesmen will do anything: - Call whatever possible customer - Steal customers from colleagues - Make appointments that will not generate an order - Visit customers without a proper appointment - Visit customers without a real reason for them - Promise additional features or solutions that cannot be realized - Invite customers to lunch even if they are not present in the funnel Still these desperate attempts will hardly work as the salesman will start looking less confident. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 40
  41. 41. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales Being desperate is the worst that can happen for a salesman as he starts doubting about himself: his skills, his personality, his communication capabilities, his (14) virtues. One thing housewives and salesmen have in common: they will keep up the appearances until the end (whatever the end is). However that will not solve the problem for the salesmen. They have to decide and take the course of their future in their own hands: change products, change geography or change company / business. How desperate have you been in your career? Customers get attention like crying babies do Customers urging for attention Customers or leads that make the most noise get the most attention. It is like crying babies getting our attention even if they scream for little problems. It is not because these customers or leads demand a lot of attention they are really worth all of your time. Somehow you should have a metric to dose the amount of your time for each customer or lead. Quiet customers need attention On the other hand when kids are quiet it is when you need to pay attention as they usually are doing things that they shouldn’t. Exactly the same as when you don’t hear from your customer it is urgent to contact them and find out if anything is up or not. They might be considering switching supplier. A customer or lead that contacts you is actually helping you getting the conversation going. A customer you don’t hear from is a problem: he needs to be addressed with the best possible and suited message or question. Just sending a newsletter by email is not good enough to engage him: you need to address him with something that relates or matters to him. Using the Internet or RSS feeds for starting to look into their company news, news of their competitors, industry news or market trends in order to formulate a message or a question that could start a conversation. Distribution if your attention Still the problem remains as how to distribute your time in relation to the importance of the business or profit they generate. Not easy to measure. How do you distribute your attention? The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 41
  42. 42. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales The B2B complex sale is a marathon – don’t sprint If you would try to sell B2B like a sprint, you will never achieve the marathon. In consumer and retail business selling is like a sprint as people can decide within a few seconds as in many occasions the decisions are subjective. A salesman can even accelerate the buying process by giving advice or influencing the buyer. Endurance for the B2B complex sale In business to business it just takes longer: from problem definition, over presentation, over evaluation, over the last round, to the final decision. It is a much more rational buying decision. You can try to move ahead for an intermediate step, but you will not be able to overhaul your competitors as a consensus by all the different people involved needs to be obtained. They decide and control the speed of the buying process, not you. Endurance is required to sustain the contacts and relations and keep the focus of closing the deal. The fast competitor isn’t necessary winning Of course a competitor can try to move or even move ahead faster; however as the purchase process takes more time they can or will become exhausted by the time the closing of the contract is in sight. Or your fast competitor could just loose interest himself as it takes too long. As the fast moving competitor might have been pushing too much a decision taker or an influencer the sales process this might just turn against them. The B2B complex sale is not a sprint – it is a marathon. If you try to run the B2B sales process like a sprint, you will never finish the marathon. Are you a sprinter or a marathon runner? People you avoid at parties can be in your sales meeting At parties there are many types of people you will meet - The Real Party people – no conversation possible. - The Frat Boys - who will get drunk - The Snarky Women - who complain about anything - The Attention grabbers – loud and noisy - The Snobs – boasting about their lifestyle and purchases - The Not Interested – you can find them in the kitchen - The Wallflowers – mentally absent The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 42
  43. 43. Wisdom from the Trenches of Sales - The Aged Beauties – on their way back - The Killjoy – too serious to be on a party - The Heavy Drinker – looking for the next bottle in the scullery - The Cocky Person – telling about his achievements - The Person Who Forgets to Bring Something – accidentally always - The Couple Who Make Out In front Of Everyone – but stay together - The Guy Who Knows Everything – so boring - The Sucker – will make you feel negative - The Too Deep in Conversation for You – not the right moment - The Living Memories – talking about the past as things and life used to be better then You have the option avoiding and not speaking to certain people at the party. You are not obliged. Sales meetings During any sales process you will meet with all kinds of people and you need to talk to them as they are a part of the sales process. At a party you can identify them by their appearance, clothes, attitude, body language, loudness and location, whereas during the sales meeting people sit on their chair, show less body language and their verbal expressions are limited. As there are rules and the environment is more stringent in a meeting, less information about the character of the person will show and less will you know about them. At a party you can leave people behind in order to seek other more interesting parties. However during a sales meeting you are stuck with these people until the meeting is over. How do you: - Identify the character of the people in your meeting? - Pose the right open questions in order to know about each of them? - Handle all these types of people? - Stay in good relation with them even if your opinions differ quite? - Handle people that keep on bragging about their achievements? The problem even becomes more difficult if different types of people are together in one meeting room and you as salesman needs to participate in or get dragged into a (social) conversation that the other might not interest at all. Lunch meetings The worst is of course if you have to invite people to lunch, that you would like to avoid at a party. Or as you little know about their characters find out about them during lunch with no way out but to keep the conversation going even you or they have no interest. During the lunch you will be stuck with these people you would prefer to avoid for at least 1 hour. Equally the people who accepted your invitation can find out about you and get less motivated to buy from you as your characters don’t match. The LEADSExplorer blog www.LEADSExplorer.com by Engago Technologies Ltd. 43