- NEVER allow failure to enter your vocabulary
- NEVER talk politics or religion with a prospect or customer
- NEVER look at your email first thing in the morning... It'll suck you in
- NEVER ask questioins about things that can easily be found on the company's website
- NEVER look at your cell phone during a meeting... In fact, you should turn it off
- NEVER jump into the presentation too soon (Ask more questions untill you're sure you fully, completely, 100% understand your client's needs, wants and expectations and then, and only then give your sales presentation)
- NEVER presume the prospects need
- NEVER fail to uncover the budget, up front
- NEVER fail to get the buying commitment, from someone with authority to buy (many great presentatoions are made to folks who can't say yes)
- NEVER try to control or manipulate the sale
Create a Stronger Sales Team: How to Diagnose Problems, Identify Strengths & Take Your Business to the Next Level
The foundation for success starts with an objective diagnosis to ascertain your current level of effectiveness.
Clear communication and honest self-assessment are fundamental attributes for firms that want to achieve above-market growth. To maximize successful areas of operation – and, conversely, shore up dysfunctional or underperforming areas – sales leaders need an impartial way to examine current operations.
While many assessment tools exist to qualify candidates for hiring and overall business operations, very few assessments are designed with specific focus on sales and marketing.
Even the strongest managers are not mind readers. Without an impartial way to assess operational strengths and weaknesses as well as current strengths and processes, it is difficult to know how to align your leadership and make critical decisions that will most strategically benefit the business.
The foundation for success starts with an objective diagnosis to ascertain your current level of effectiveness – i.e. a baseline. Without an impartial tool, however, assessing current efforts can be a biased, complicated, and ineffective endeavor. Top executives want to align the goals and objectives of their sales and marketing teams, but without a fair arbitrator and a structured process for defining the underlining issues, it’s quite possible to miss critical ways in which to organization is misaligned.
Sometimes it’s lack of trust. Other times it’s the lack of a comprehensive, objective process that gives everyone an equal – and in some cases anonymous – method for providing feedback. Executives need factual data about what people are seeing and thinking, without bias and all the drama. Leaders are entrusted to provide a proper environment and method to capture which strengths need to be expanded and which constraints need to be assessed.
The Sales Baseline assessment helps organizations uncover misalignment in areas related specifically to sales productivity and results. As an in-depth diagnostic tool, the answers to Sales Baseline questions give leaders an objective look at overall performance and alignment issues. Based on feedback from this assessment, sales leaders can easily identify the most immediate areas they can affect in order to drive revenue growth.
The Sales Baseline assessment has the unique ability to pinpoint where misalignment is occurring and why. Because of the way the assessment is structured, results can be categorized by division, branch, or role (field sales, marketing, customer service, senior management, etc.). That means leaders can pinpoint exactly where underperformance, misunderstandings, or misperceptions are hurting the organization. These results allow leaders to resolve minor problems quickly and identify high-payoff initiatives for action.
The sales results can be immediate and extraordinary by taking action on high pay-off initiatives that can catapult your sales to the next level.
Have questions or need more information?
Contact Bill Kliss - Bill is Chief Salesologist of Bill Kliss Consulting and a Certified Sales Baseline Trainer. Bill can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 714-202-6082.
It never ceases to amaze me how many times I hear sales people say they have to be the lowest price in order to win the deal. When I hear this I cringe, as deep down I know they haven’t sold the value of their product and didn’t present a distinct differentiation from the competition.
It’s not always price people… when you’ve clearly conveyed value propositions and have client buy-in you can oftentimes charge more… a lot more!
Here’s An Example… and there are many
Recently I was brought in to evaluate and turnaround sales for a company that provides design and printing solutions for all sizes and types of companies.
I found that while the Company had high quality products that should demand higher than average prices, they were loosing to the competition primarily based on price.
What I found was their sales team was simply gathering customer requirements and forwarding a pricing quotation via email… going through the motions so to speak.
I recommended modifying the sales process to stress the value of their offering rather than price.
Now for the change to their sales process…
I simply had their graphics team mock-up photos of the prospective clients facility reflecting the proposed solution. Why? I wanted prospects to visualize the proposed solution installed at their facility and see the value it would bring.
When completed the sales team would email a copy to the Artwork Proposal to the prospect, pricing was not included. Pricing was always reviewed during face-to-face meetings. We also changed language the sales team would use when speaking with the prospect… you guessed it; value points of their solution were stressed.
By simply showing and discussing value before discussing price, sales wins rose 65% and better yet deals were oftentimes priced 2 to 3 times greater than the competition!
I recently read an interesting blog by a highly regarded sales development expert that caused me to pause.
The writer stated that "when a salesperson fails to land a deal, sale or order which they expected, projected, forecasted and pre-banked, nine times out of ten, you can lay the blame on one of the following ten conditions."
And, while I tend to agree the writer, one key condition was missing… do you know what it is?
10 conditions referenced in the blog…
1. The salesperson did not have an effective sales process.
2. The salesperson did not follow the sales process.
3. The salesperson was not coached on this opportunity in the context of the sales process.
4. The salesperson was not held accountable to applying the sales process.
5. The salesperson did not use a CRM oriented toward a sales process.
6. The CRM application did not include the sales process.
7. The CRM application did not require the criteria for each stage of the sales process to be met prior to moving to the next step.
8. The sales process lacked criteria for each stage.
9. The steps for the sales process were improperly sequenced.
10. There was no CRM application.
Here’s the missing condition… and it should be 1st on the list!
1. The salesperson targeted the wrong person and didn’t reach the decision maker.
The majority of opportunities are missed because the salesperson targets the wrong person within the organization.
Salespeople, because they are solution providers, typically call on and develop a deep relationship with the solution owner, but they don’t own the problem, they’re merely helping to solve the problem.
It’s the decision maker who owns the problem and ultimately makes the purchase decision… and too many salespeople aren’t calling on them.
After 25 years of leading and training sales teams I’ve found most salespeople are merely exposed to general sales techniques and strategies… they’re rarely taught how to transition that knowledge in to a highly persuasive message designed to get the attention of the decision maker.
What I teach sales organizations is that secret sauce…
I teach a perfected technique of combining the salespersons knowledge, social psychology and leverage into highly persuasive communication process. This technique opens doors to decision makers, bypasses the lower level manager and works with virtually all types of products and services.
I’m often frustrated with sales-people as they rarely book appointments with the decision maker. They usually settle for a lower-level person; then they have to slowly and gradually work their way up, hoping to ultimately get heard by someone who can make purchasing decisions.
The technique I perfected early in my sales career, and what I teach sales teams and individuals today, will by-pass the lower-level person and open the doors of decision makers.
What’s the technique… It’s a perfected method based on a specific pattern of persuasion. It’s to a certain extent about developing your natural inborn talent as a persuader (and yes, everyone has it). But it’s much more about putting together a series of specific steps and strategies that are incredibly persuasive and virtually unstoppable.
These steps and strategies are extremely important… without them the door of the decision maker door will remain closed… and, if you’re not granted access there’s a slim, if not zero, chance of making the sale.
What it’s NOT about… It’s not about using heavy handed or unethical tactics.
What it’s about… It’s about causing that right person to want to pay attention to the sales person and granting their request to connect.
First, if you deal with executive assistants correctly, they will often give you what you want. Never try to bully or B.S. the executive assistant, you want to include them in your strategy of getting in the door.
Here’s a technique I’ve used...
When doing prospect research I uncovered a large nationwide auto lending institution that was a good opportunity for our product. I found they had stopped doing business in fourteen states because of lending risk and our product was designed to mitigate risk.
I decided to include the decision maker for this organization in an online survey. I then designed survey questions around problems my research showed they experienced.
The title of the survey was “Have a Latte and Goody on me”. All the person had to do to receive a $10 Starbuck gift card was to simply complete a 10 question online survey… pretty simple.
The targeted decision maker responded and his survey confirmed their desire to expand, but needed a risk mitigation solution. Now I had my opening and I wasn’t simply going to drop a Starbucks gift card in the mail.
I found out the name of his executive assistant and gave her a call. After introducing myself I informed her that her boss had responded my online survey and by doing so he was to receive a $10 Starbucks card. I told her I wanted to do something special for him and asked if she would assist me. I asked if there was a Starbucks close by and she said yes. I then asked, if I send you a $50 Starbucks card would she pick-up his favorite latte and one for herself? I told her she could keep the remaining money on the card as my way of saying thank you. I then said, one more thing, I’d like you to coordinate the latte delivery with a basket of Mrs. Fields cookies I’m going to have delivered, can you help with this? The executive assistant was now helping and coordinating everything on my behalf.
Along with the $50 Starbucks card I enclosed a letter the executive assistant was to hand deliver to the decision maker. It was a simple Thank You for completing the survey with not a lot of product details other than stating our product would mitigate the risk they had experienced and hoped we would have an opportunity talk at some point.
The day he received the latte and cookies I received a call. He laughed and said how he liked how I got his staff to coordinate everything and wanted to know when I could come to his office to discuss our solution.
Oh, and I closed the sale in record time…
How to reach the decision maker… that’s the proverbial question of sales.
One technique I’ve used to reach decision makers is a targeted survey. The survey is comprised of only ten questions and the reward for completing the survey varies depending on revenue potential and size of the organization.
The goal is simple…
Here’s just one example… and I have many
An auto titling company I was working with wanted to reach the executive suite of national auto lenders. I targeted ten institutions, but knew making a connection would be difficult as the titling company was small and unknown.
I designed a very focused survey and to be sure it was read the "subject line" and "opening paragraph" let recipient know they had a 1 in 10 chance to win a 64G iPhone 4S… there was only going to be 10 surveys sent to national lenders and each reply would be entered into a random drawing for the iPhone.
The survey received a 50% response rate and the auto titling company entered into high-level discussions with two national lenders.
Do you have the courage to correct a wrong? What if the wrong involved your largest client?
This was the dilemma one of our regional managers faced.
Seems his boss, our VP of Sales and my direct report, inflated database processing fees to our largest client and the regional manager knew the client was beginning an audit. He felt there was going to be repercussions and decided to resign rather than address the situation.
When I heard of his resignation I asked to meet. He told me about the inflated fee's and stated he didn’t want to take the blame for loosing the account. My response was…
“I don’t care if you resign, but don’t do it until we both visit the client and address this problem head on. We must do the right thing and if we loose the account so be it… at least we had the moral strength to correct a wrong”. He said OK and arranged the meeting.
The meeting was tough and deservedly so. When it was my turn to speak I apologized on behalf of the company. I told them that, as COO, I had taken corrective action and this would never happen again… then I authorized:
This was one of those occasions… we didn’t loose the client and we closed an order that day. After 6-months of free service we received a license fee order totaling $245K/year for those 7,000 sites.
A Little Background…
I was trying to strengthen my personal bond with some top Asia-Pacific distributors. Through many conversations I learned that while they felt my company produced leading products, they each felt undervalued by the company and prior regional sales manager.
I knew I had to do something fast to turn this around as they were actively evaluating replacement products.
Our European office was making plans for an upcoming Distributor Conference so I gave them a call. I asked if I could invite three key Asia-Pacific distributors to the conference and if they could participate in some meaningful way. Our European team loved the idea and my clients were stunned when I called with the invitation.
Now On To The Helicopter Ride....
During the conference there was four-hour period slated for European-only discussions, so we were going to have some free time. I had previously scouted the village of Zermatt hoping to find something fun to do and came upon a Swiss Helicopter Rescue station. I thought this would make for a fantastic bonding experience, but didn’t know if they took charter flights to the Matterhorn. It never hurts to ask and guess what, they said yes.
I told my group that we had to keep this quiet, as I would no doubt get in trouble for taking our biggest Asia-Pacific distributors on a helicopter joyride to the Matterhorn. While it seemed fantastic to me, I knew there could be repercussions from my company. I told each of them why I couldn’t expense the flight and they had to pay their own way, and most importantly they couldn’t tell any of our European colleagues about our excursion.
The flight couldn’t have gone better. We were in a bubble helicopter with a pilot who actually flew in one of the James Bond movies… and you guessed it, he laid the helicopter on its side while descending the Matterhorn, just like in the move… Talk about a bonding experience.
Oh, my clients had so much fun they couldn’t wait to tell everyone what I had arranged for them to do that afternoon… and yes I did get a reprimand from the CEO.
3 Things Learned From The Flight…
1. Relationship Building: In order to build a brand promise that your customers can count on you must first have a good client relationship.
While my Asia-Pacific distributors felt our brand was strong, our company and previous sales manager treated them so poorly they were looking to drop our products entirely.
2. Personal Bond is Crucial, especially when selling internationally: Many societies stress personal relationships in business. When firms operate globally, close ties are useful for overcoming time, distance, language, and cultural barriers.
By inviting our Asia-Pacific distributors to participate in the European Conference they understood the company and I valued them. This coupled with that helicopter ride was the foundation for my establishing a strong and lasting bond.
3. Sometimes You Need to Take Risks: While I knew there could be repercussions from taking our biggest Asian-Pacific distributors on a helicopter joyride of the Matterhorn, I also knew I had to take a risk if I were to breakthrough and start building a personal relationship.
Risk Payoff… I didn’t loose one distributor and the Asia-Pacific region grew to an 85% market share. Oh, and the CEO sent me another letter... this time congratulating me on turning this region around.
1. Invest in Understanding: Why would a Company trust anything you tell them if you clearly don’t understand their business.
2. Make Time for Face Time: You should do this, especially in the early days. We’ve all had email and texts we’ve taken the wrong way or misunderstood. Knowing the sender helps build the relationship. That’s best done in person – I once had international clients that had difficulty with English. If I hadn’t spent face time with them I could have taken many of their messages the wrong way.
3. Honesty: We all know mistakes happen and that the World’s not entirely perfect. It’s what you do about the mistake that earns Trust and Respect.
4. Education: Help your clients to understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
5. Pay it Forward: Don’t expect a client to trust you if you don’t demonstrate trust or respect for them.
Bill Kliss has been teaching his perfected technique of opening doors to reach decision makers for 30-years. His cutting edge approach has increased sales wins for virtually all types of products and services.