Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Well Is Dry

Do you want to sell more? Stop spending time trying to get water out of wells that have run dry. By that, I mean stop spending time on customers who have communicated one of these common messages repeatedly.

1. We no longer buy what you sell. The customer stopped spending money on printing one or two years ago. So far, they’ve seen no compelling reason to start investing in these marketing materials again—or they are still suffering from the effects of a tough economy and they have no money to spend on these products.

2. We found a cheaper source and we’re perfectly happy with them. When people are happy with their current situation, they’re hard to sell. Move on! There are plenty of dissatisfied buyers in the market place.

3. We found a cheaper source. Their quality/service is not as good as yours, but we don’t care. Your competitor is good enough. This may be an opportunity—if you can find an new angle to approach the customer. If the new angle isn’t obvious right now, look elsewhere but stay in touch.

Spend your time wisely. Remember, time is money. Stop visiting customers where sales have dried up hoping for something to miraculously change. Figure out a way to make change happen or look for new wells.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A to Z Guide to Selling More: Z is for Zig Zag

Selling is challenging because we are constantly adjusting to changes. Conversations with prospects don't go as intended. Unanticipated competitors wedge their way into good accounts. Loyal clients take new jobs, and you don't click with their replacement.

To meet your goals, you must zig and zag. Scan the road ahead, anticipate obstacles and try to imagine what is waiting around the curve.

Before making a call, ask two questions.

  • Why would the customer buy this for me?
  • Why wouldn't the customer buy?

Best and worst-case scenario thinking keeps you nimble in a call and helps you keep up with the client when the road to a sale zigs and zags.

Friday, June 24, 2011

KeFactors Friday: What does it take? Part 2

There’s no real secret formula to life but here are qualities I’ve observed in others I consider successful, as professionals and as human beings.

Practicing trust and humor is a good way to boost personal courage, especially during stressful episodes. Trust means readily showing others proof of your intent, your motives. Even saying “I’m still not sure what I want from the situation” is better than nothing.

Humor loosens up tense muscles, enables rapid learning, and makes it fun to collaborate over the most difficult tasks and situations.

Most of us practice the wrong sort of humor, however; rather than being situational, humor is used to poke fun at someone else. But charming people know the most engaging humor is self-deprecating. For example, have you ever noticed that very arrogant people have a weak sense of humor?

Be kind. This can be hard, especially if you work in a place where a good day is one long defensive play. But if you think a colleague really has it out for you, wait for a pattern to develop before you stage a pre-emptive strike against them. If you receive credit but know it was wholly a team effort, don’t be a credit hog: share it.

If you listen more than you speak, you’re probably doing a lot of things right.

Kindness is too often confused with permissiveness. To be kind is not to be soft and yielding, but — in tough situations — to be disciplined in communicating difficult concepts so that we don’t take down the other person’s dignity at the same time.

I knew a guy once who was brilliant—articulate, ambitious, driven. He aspired to be, and was, “first in everything,” winning industry award after award—until I heard his assistant mutter behind me, scoffing, “First in everything? Last in people’s hearts.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A to Z Guide to Selling More: Y is for Yes

Sales professionals love to hear buyers say, "Yes."
  • Yes, I’ll meet.
  • Yes, I'll let you quote on an opportunity.
  • Yes, you have the order.

Every time the buyer says this magic word, you have a golden opportunity to improve your selling skills. Spend a minute and think about the situation. What went right? Why did you do to elicit a positive response?

When we hear a buyer saying no, we think about it. We ask ourselves, "What went wrong?"

When we hear a yes, we need to ask ourselves, "What went right,” because that knowledge also serves us well.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A to Z Guide to Selling More: X is for X-ray

In sales, you need to use "X-ray vision” to see below the surface of situations. Prospects may smile and nod their head as you're talking, but behind this agreeable fa├žade, objections often lurk. If you don't identify them, they could fester and prevent the sale from taking place.

We see below the surface by observing body language. Is it congruent with the customer's words? Is the buyer saying one thing with their lips while communicating something different with posture?

Pay attention to what buyer said he –and WHAT THEY DON’T SAY. Listen past what you are hoping to hear to what is really being said. For example, the buyer says, "Yes, this looks like it will fit our needs." Does that a sale today or does it mean they buyer is considering your product for a future purchase?

All salespeople use X-ray vision to try and figure out what is going on inside the buyer’s mind and heart, and they make assumptions. Great sales professionals clarify assumptions by asking questions. That stops the sales pro from misreading the buyer's willingness to buy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

KeFactors Friday: What does it take?

I’m always telling myself to have courage, to be stronger today than I was yesterday, not because anything bad is happening, but because the present can be so beguiling, so quiet and flat and innocent. And yet tomorrow begins today. I don’t want to cope with life by becoming an unconscious person who destroys things and moves on heedlessly.

I wrote that as my status post on Facebook a couple weeks ago, then was surprised by the reaction it got: friends “stole” it for their own status posts and later their friends reposted it as well.

But why?

Life requires courage—not always the adrenaline-pumping sort where you rush into a burning building to save a client’s project, but the extra nudges it takes to face the phone yet again (cold calling), to sort through complex questions (client may be unhappy), and to build solutions at work (too many deadlines looming), often with people you may not even like working with, who may whine and bellyache every step of the way.

Tomorrow does start today. A history buff, I like considering the influences of the past on our lives today, but to get things done—to be productive—we have to appreciate how actions today set up results tomorrow. If you don’t cold call today, it’ll be even harder to start tomorrow—and tomorrow may be when you need the new revenue. Got a problem with a colleague? Talk bad about them behind their back? Tomorrow you may have to account for yourself. Be ready.

The point to life is to become a more conscious person, to outgrow narcissism, to realize we may rationalize well, but in the end a hurtful action here and now will have a painful reaction there and later, even if the one you hurt is too proud or savvy to show how they’ve been damaged. There’s no getting around it: if you live and work heedless of anyone’s interests but your own, sooner or later you’ll have to understand what you did, and it could be a very difficult reckoning.

Next week: OK, so what?