Monday, May 30, 2011

SINFS (Rewind): Three Terrible Selling Habits to Break in the Second Half of 2010

Even though we are in 2011, these bad habits to break still apply today.

Bad Habit 1:
Do you let days pass, or even weeks go by without calling prospects? Break that bad habit and you’ll sell lots more.

Bad Habit 2: Are you complaining to fellow salespeople about low cost, price buyers, but never make any move to replace them? Stop wasting energy on something you can’t change. Instead, find new customers who love you, appreciate the value you bring, and will pay for it. Then, fire the cheapskates.

Bad Habit 3: Do you write long emails to customers and prospects? You’re wasting time because no one is reading these “War and Peace” communications. Aim for 50 to 75 words. Go for brevity and brilliance. Read messages out loud to catch unnecessary words and eliminate them.

Friday, May 27, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): Guest Blogger: Lucy Ke - The Technology of Listening

In the comedy “Last Holiday,” Queen Latifah’s character becomes so frustrated by her boss’s preoccupation with his cell phone, she winds up smashing it as a prelude to quitting.

Why is that funny? Why are handhelds used as symbols of arrogance? Obviously, it struck a chord because audiences cheered and laughed when Queen Latifah finally demolished her boss’ phone.

Ever worked with a bad listener? Ever worked for a bad listener who also derived a sense of personal importance from being “always on,” constantly texting and responding to cell phone calls when others are trying to speak? In her book Seven: The Number for Happiness, Love, and Success, former Reader’s Digest editor Jacqueline Leo remarks, “Our own conceit becomes one of the reasons people can’t put their machines down. They make us feel too important.”

Not being heard is frustrating and draining, and can usually mean business gets done ineffectively, with needless errors, or not at all. Relationships also suffer from the lack of courtesy.

Regardless of technological advances, being heard is a basic human need.

We’re so preoccupied by “digital traffic” we forget how important it is to listen, and to develop those skills. What’s more, we’ve forgotten the value of the listener in routine human contact. Being listened to has a transformative effect on human beings—they feel valued and revitalized—better information is exchanged, and relationships deepen and strengthen.

So bear this in mind the next time you put someone off because you’ve just got to get that text across: these devices are intended to help communication, not hinder them.

Lucy Ke is president of KeFactors, which provides leadership and customer service training, course development, and coaching for organizations eager to tap into their associates' talents and potential. With 30 years in design and marketing, Lucy believes in cultivating more strategic individuals for a more productive workplace. She can be reached at 404.444.0747 or

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A to Z Guide to Selling More: R is for Risk

Before a buyer makes their first purchase from you, you must alleviate or eliminate worries about risks. The unknown is always scary. Buyers may want to improve their current situation, but they won't change if they are afraid they could end up worse off.

Grab a pencil and a piece of paper. List all the things that could go wrong when a buyer chooses a new vendor and put together a plan to address them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A to Z Guide to Selling More: Q is for Qualifying

Qualifying prospects is a critical selling skill set. When you qualify a prospect, you have conversations with prospects to learn:

· Does the prospect buy what you sell?

· Do they want to solve the problem you can solve?

· Do they want the value you provide?

· What bundle of benefits is the prospect looking for?

· Will they purchase at your price point?

· What alternative products/services are they considering?

· Are they willing to buy the product/service from you?

To qualify an account, you must ask questions. Great questions interest buyers and make them think. They also position you as a smart sales professional who is genuinely dedicated to helping customers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Qualities of Trustworthy People

They keep their promises—not just to you, but everyone else in their lives, including and especially their children. This covers everything from tangible deliverables to intangible pledges of support. And if they see they can’t, they let you know as early as possible, and discuss alternatives. Also, they take it as a learning opportunity to improve on their own promise-keeping skills.

They’re disciplined. They’re self-disciplined. They understand responsibility. If they make a mistake, they own it and strive to never repeat it. They spend hours in self-reflection and thus build their own self-awareness.

Trust is a big deal to them. It’s a value, a daily consideration. It’s part of the question they ask themselves when they look in the mirror at night and ask, “Have I done my best today?” They’re not afraid to require it of their relationships, or to deliver on it. Be very wary of anyone who lives out trust in a situational or compartmentalized manner (eg, an individual whose boss can trust him, but whose wife and children cannot).

They’re skilled listeners, or they’re striving to be. Is this so surprising? They understand trust is psychological safety, and how can you achieve that if you can’t demonstrate you’re listening?

They perceive relationships as collaborations, and are very articulate about the gains and losses in achieving any “win-win” compromise. Anyone who sees “winning” as a zero-sum game is not trustworthy.

They perceive relationships as longterm bonds. Again, be very wary of anyone who sees trust as the situational commodity of a relationship.

They have long-term relationships in their personal and professional lives. In this, your Grandaunt Sallie was correct: For Pete’s sake, don’t “marry” the person who has a history of short-lived friendships. It points to an embedded haywire somewhere….All human relationships are flawed, complex processes, and the individual who has longterm friendships very likely has good relational skills.

Trustworthy people are individuals who “get it.” Look for signs of emotional and social intelligence, for habits of lifelong learning, as well as professional know-how and attentiveness to the customer’s experience of the work being provided.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A to Z Guide to Selling More: P is for Pain

Eliminating pain is the shortest route to a new sale. To find pain points, talk to customers about their problems. Learn what they complain about on a regular basis.

When calling prospects to set up initial meetings, this is an effective way to cold call.

· Introduce yourself.

· Describe a problem you solve.

· Ask the prospect if they want to solve that problem.

· If they do want to solve it, explain your solution in 15 words or less.

· Ask for meeting for further discussion.

Complaints don't always lead to sales. This is the case when buyers complain, but the problem isn’t critical and they won’t spend money to eliminate it.

Often, the person complaining doesn’t have the authority to fix it. Or, the problem is complex and affects several departments. To sell in this situation, you have to a higher level and identify the person who can authorize a purchase.

Good questions to identify pain points are:

· What is the biggest problem you want to fix today?

· What problem does your boss want you to solve?

· What keeps you awake at night?