The 1 Minute Sales Success Checkup

Hey there…

During my recent field trips with my sales super stars working with me at http://www.ourvivaha.com, I noted that very often some basics were missing from their preparations before a sales call.

And THAT set me thinking on doing this piece for my team as also for the benefit of all my brethren in sales …

So here goes….

As with any great art, success in sales is a matter of mastering the basics.  Here are four simple questions that measure your grasp of the basics:

  • QUESTION #1: Can I describe my ideal customer?
  • QUESTION #2: Do I spend time with customers matching that profile?
  • QUESTION #3: Can I articulate how I can meet that customer’s needs?
  • QUESTION #4: Can I articulate value to the customer in 25 words or less?

If the answer to all four question is an emphatic “YES!” then you’re poised for success in sales.

However, if you have the slightest bit of doubt about any one of them, you need to spend time on the basics. Here’s how:

  • If you’re unsure about QUESTION #1: Review the customers that have bought in the past, either from yourself or other reps.  Look for the characteristics that identify a likely prospect.  Write them down, so you can remember them.  Then keep your eyes and ears open for customers that match that profile.
  • If you’re unsure about QUESTION #2: Start tracking the time that you spend on various sales activities.  Look for areas where you’re spinning your wheels or doing things that aren’t really connected to serving the customer.  Then increase the amount of time you spend on really productive selling.
  • If you’re unsure about QUESTION #3: Learn more about the customer’s business model and how your offering gets used in the customer’s environment.  The best way to do this is to spend some time with a customer who is actually using your offering.  Ask plenty of questions, because you’re sure to learn a lot.
  • If you’re unsure about QUESTION #4: Write down your value proposition and then edit it down to something short and sweet.  The most important thing here is that it must describe something of value to the customer — not just a description of your products and services.

Wanna read more on sales management, then please follow my blogs on https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

you can also connect with me on FB at https://www.facebook.com/the.ashishtandon

as also on twitter @taurus13 AND @ashishtandon

Have a great weekend and keep those comments and recommendations coming !!

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How To Sell by Word of Mouth

Hi there,

This post follows the one that I just posted some minutes back…https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/how-to-screw-up-a-referral-sale/

WHY?

Because in this post I am talking about asking your clients for referrals at the right time !!

But in this post I am also touching on aspects of a successful sales strategy that the intelligent sharp sales rep can deploy to maximize his outcome from his referrer..

Here’s how I believe that a successful sales rep could win by selling using WOM

Nothing sells better or faster than word-of-mouth.  Sales generated through referrals are larger than those resulting from other lead-generation activities.  Why?  Simple.  By making the referral, the “referrer” is eliminating uncertainties like “can this rep be trusted?” and “is this rep worth my time?”  The sales process builds momentum more quickly, resulting in an easier, faster close.

There are three rules to developing sales opportunities through word of mouth:

  • Rule #1.  Ask for a Referral at the Right Time. Reps typically ask new customers for referrals when the first sale is closed, as in: “do you know of anyone else who needs our product?”  That’s dumb.  Why should an existing customer – who has already stuck his or her neck out by buy from you – stick it out further by risking their own business contacts?  The time to a referral from a customer is AFTER your product has produced a measurable benefit for that customer’s firm.
  • Rule #2. Ask Your Source to Take Action. If all you get is some contact information, you’re just setting up a cold call.  Instead, ask your current (happy) customer to call or e-mail the contact.  That way the current customer is essentially “endorsing” you, which will jump start your sales process.  IMPORTANT: Ask your current customer to give you a heads-up when they’ve sent the email or made the call.  Without this confirmation, you won’t know the best time to call the contact, which is within a day (preferably less than an hour) after the referral has taken place.
  • Rule #3. Keep Your Source in the Loop. Your existing customer is likely to have ongoing commuication with the prospect, and can help you move the sale forward simply by remaining involved as a interested spectator.  So follow up!  Contact the referrer within a day after the promise to send the email.  Express gratitude and (if necessary) gently remind the customer of his or her commitment.  After you meet with the new contact, send another e-mail with a thank-you and a status report. (E.g. “You were right; Fred’s firm does have a need.”)  Finally, if the referral actually results in a sale, be sure to send another thank-you.

If you found this blog useful, please visit me on https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com and follow me !!

Feel free to write in to me at ashish.tandon@gmail.com

How To Screw Up a Referral Sale !

Hi followers!

Thanks for all your comments, suggestions and critique ! These help me with my writing and the topics that seem to be in vogue and demand…

Referrals as we all in Sales know is a great way to get a foot in the door and eliminate the first 3 -4 steps of a prospective sale.

BUT as young sales reps we have certainly done our fair bit of screwing up a referral sale and this piece is an attempt to help the newbies in their sale careers!!

I have identified 4 instances of how we can potentially screw up a referral sale and used these descriptions to teach young budding sales stars to be mindful of this intricate process..

  1. You provided a detailed quote without a quid pro quo. If you’re going to do any significant work for a client, you must be “paid” by some concession to you that leads towards closing the deal. You should have demanded to present to personally to the CEO — or something else that might have given you an inside track.
  2. You didn’t differentiate your firm or your offering. While you may consider yourself to be a “boutique” firm, you obviously didn’t convince the prospect of that, because you ended up in a discussion of price. If you actually were a boutique firm, you’d be charging the highest price, and the customer would be happy to pay it.
  3. You bid on a deal without local resources. Since web development tends to be something of a commodity product, one of the few differentiators available to a provider is the quality of the sales rep. You needed a warm, personable body working the customer personally, in order to stand a chance of competing.
  4. You didn’t take the hint that you lost the deal. If the prospect is consistently blowing you off, they aren’t going to buy. Period. You’re just fooling yourself if you think that you’re still going to get the deal.  Any resources that you expend pursuing this deal further is wasted.  It’s over; deal with it.

To read more blogs from my pen, please visit my blog on https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

and follow me!!

How to Respond to “It Costs Too Much”- the 12 questions mantra !!

Ha!!

This one had to come up one way or the other !!

Budgets are tight…contract negotiations are tighter still !!

My sales stars are sweating when their prospects retort at quotations saying ” you are pricing yourself out of the market!!”

So in order to address this very real problem, I decided to write about this..hope this helps scores of you out there facing the same dilemma and resistance from your buyer as my sales team is.

“it costs too much.” in todays times, you all would have heard it all too often !

This universal but ubiquitous objection is the bane of many a sale pro’s existence, so we are now going to destroy its power over you, forever. There are twelve classic “comebacks” that will not just neutralize the objection, but keep the sale cycle, going. Here they are:

Prospect: “It costs too much.”

Sales Pro: “No problem. Just out of curiosity…

  • …when you say it costs too much, what do you mean?”
  • …what has been your past experience with solutions like ours?”
  • …how do you know that it costs too much?”
  • …what do you know about us or our industry?”
  • …what has been your past experience with companies like ours?”
  • …what are some of your priorities around _________?”
  • …what if our solutions weren’t really expensive at all?”
  • …what if it turned out that we didn’t really cost as much as you thought?”
  • …what if really could solve the problem of __________?”
  • …what if we really could generate a measurable business value?”
  • …what if we could help you create a competitive advantage?”
  • …what if we could show you how our solution would actually save money?

Create you sales playbook with my blogs and empower yourself and your sales teams…would like to hear your stories if these ideas made a difference to your top line contributions and your bonus !!

You may also like to read this blog of mine https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/how-to-read-a-customers-mind/

and read all my blog only on https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

How to Read a Customer’s Mind !

Hi guys,

Trust that this blog finds you all well at work and play….

The subject of this one came up today as I was talking to one of my smartest sales reps. She was talking to me about one particular prospect who responded exactly as would be expected of someone who would be keen to place his order ..BUT at the last moment , would apparently back down and the “deal” would go bust !!

So I dug up my best from the last 20 years of sales and marketing experience and came up with this..hope it helps you guys as well…so here goes

A seasoned sales professional categorizes customers into four basic styles of behavior, based upon their tolerance to risk (recognition vs. security) and attitude towards work (goal-oriented vs. process-oriented). These four basic styles are:

  1. DOER (results oriented, needs recognition). Tends to make decisions quickly, prefers brief presentations, and resents time-wasters.
  2. TALKER (process oriented, needs recognition). Desires social approval and thus will avoid making a decision until everyone is happy.
  3. CONTROLLER (results oriented, needs security). Highly logical and analytical, and will generally look for what’s wrong with any situation.
  4. SUPPORTER (process oriented, needs security). Seldom looks at the bottom line but instead is more concerned with getting a job done.

According to my experience, customers have a primary and secondary style of behavior. For example, a CEO might be a Doer when dealing with underlings but a Talker when dealing with fellow CEOs. Similarly, a bank manager might be a Controller when it comes to writing loans, but a Supporter when it comes to working with top management.

In order to “read the customer’s mind”, you watch and listen carefully for clues about styles of behavior when interacting with a customer contact.

A Doer, for example, will often wear flashy or distinctive clothing and is likely to communicate in short bursts. Similarly, a Supporter will tend to dress conservatively and use catchphrases like “the way things are done here” and “the powers that be.”

Once you’ve determined the customer’s primary style of behavior, it becomes easier to predict how they’ll react to various situations that might come up in the sale cycle.  For example, a Controller will probably surface objections quickly and frequently.

That information allows you to adapt your sales approach. For example, when selling to a Doer, speak quickly and get right to the point. By contrast, when selling to a Supporter take the time to explain, in detail, how what you’re selling fits into the status-quo.  With a controller, you play devil’s advocate and let him argue against you, thereby selling himself on your product.

If you’re going to use Willingham’s conceptual model effectively, it helps if you’re aware of your own natural style. If you have a technical background and tend to naturally fall into the Controller style, you’ll need to take on more of an air of authority (become a “doer”) when calling on a CEO, for instance.

Top sales professionals can not only intuitively sense the customer’s style of behavior, but find the corresponding style in his or her own character that best matches the situation.

Obviously this is not a panacea for all sales strategists and it is an acquired skill that becomes a part of your persona as you mature by listening and learning throughout your career!!

To read more blogs about various aspects of sales that I have covered in earlier posts, please visit https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

How To Plan Your Next Selling Move

Hey folks!

This blog follows the one that I just posted and had to be written ASAP because my brady bunch sales reps were after my life to get their questions answered !!

Had to do this to get my neck off the hook or they would have chewed me alive!!

so here goes…

In every complex sales opportunity there are points where even a seasoned sales professional asks: “What do I do next?” Even I ask this of myself today after 20 years in the business…..

And that question leads to yet other questions? Do I pitch to another stakeholder?  Do I wait until I hear back?  Do I send a reminder email?  Do I send more information?

These are the wrong questions to ask.  Every deal has a natural order of events, but that order differs according to the individual customer.  To understand what to do next, you must assess what’s supposed to happen — at the customer end — and understand what you’ve done, and still can do, in order to influence those events.( Developing consumer insights is key to a successful sales strategy !!)

With that in mind, here are six key questions that, when answered, tell you exactly where you should be putting your selling energy:

  • QUESTION #1 of 6. What do I understand about the customer’s buying process? You can’t possibly know what to do next if you don’t know what’s supposed to happen next. For example, if the customer’s buying process requires that you meet with the CFO to get initial buy-in, you are wasting time if you’re negotiating installation dates.
  • QUESTION #2. How have my selling activities helped the customer commit to taking action? If the customer is driving the buying process — and you’re just there to take the order — it really doesn’t matter what you do.  However, if you’re driving the sale forward, you need to identify (and leverage) what you’ve done to help it forward.
  • QUESTION #3. What actions has the customer already committed to? A big commitment (i.e. to buy) is always preceded by a dozen smaller commitments.  What had the customer already said or done that lets you know the customer is serious?  Which of those commitments are leading towards an eventual purchasing decision.
  • QUESTION #4. What actions has the customer not yet committed to? What still needs to happen in the customers decision-making process before a final decision can be made?  Is there a key meeting that needs to take place?  Are there pending decision about budget priorities?  Are there business issues to be resolved before buying?
  • QUESTION #5. What can I do now that might help the customer make the next commitment? You assessed where you are in the customer’s buying process, how you helped them get there, and what commitments still need to be made.  Now figure out what you must do to help the customer commit to the next step.
  • QUESTION #6. What am I prepared to do if the customer refuses to commit? If there’s a pending commitment that’s reasonable and appropriate, given previous commitments, but the customer won’t commit, you need a backup plan.  You’ve invested your time; don’t let the deal to be needlessly scuttled because you won’t walk the extra mile.

Hope that these tips help you folks plan your next selling move !!

To read more blogs from my table, please go to https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

and connect with me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/the.ashishtandon

Happy reading!! and thanks in advance for following me..

How to Pre-Qualify a Sales Lead

Hi readers,

Apologies for the long hiatus…been busy with my travels and tours and enjoying the monsoons hit the sub-continent!

Been thinking about writing on this subject for some time and was waiting for the right impetus to do so…this impetus came to me recently when one of my key account managers came upto me and asked me…”you have written and spoken extensively about qualifying sales leads,….BUT what about pre-qualifying sales leads??”

That was it and here I am …

(Please read my other blog on the subject- https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/steps-to-qualify-your-sales-leads/)

So now you got a long list of prospects?  Don’t know where to start?

Your challenge is to focus your time and energy on the prospects who are the most likely to buy.  And that means pre-qualifying your sales leads….before you call them.

and here I believe is what you need to do..

  • Step One: Visualize Your Target. Ask yourself the following questions: What is the specific benefit or improvement of my customers’ lives that will occur as the result of them using my product? How will they feel differently because they are using it? Who is most likely to experience these positive feelings? What is their income, position, experience and level of authority? Your goal for this step is to determine your ideal customer.LIVE A DAY OF YOU TARGET CUSTOMER !!
  • Step Two: Identify Your Strengths. Ask yourself the following questions: What is that we do better than any other company? Why should our ideal customer buy from us rather than the competition? If our competitors were asked (and answered honestly) what would they say that our company does better than anyone else? Your goal for this step is to determine what’s unique about your company’s offer, so that you can match those characteristics more closely to the expectations of potential customers.DEFINE AND UNDERSTAND YOUR USP!! and repeat that USP over and over and over again…
  • Step Three: Match Strengths and Targets. Ask yourself the following question: who, specifically, are the customers who would value and appreciate what our offering does better than our competitor’s offering? Your goal for this step is to determine specific type of customer which is the best match for your offering. This is a process of elimination, not inclusion! You want to pick your shots, so think like a sniper rather than a machine gunner.LOOK AT THE LOWEST HANGING FRUIT BY APPLYING YOUR OFFER TO THEIR IMMEDIATE NEED !! its that simple….
  • Step Four: Concentrate your Sales Efforts. Focus on those few customers who can benefit the most from your company’s offering. Your ideal customer should want your product, need your offering, be able to use your offering and afford your offering. Making sales calls with customers who don’t fit the profile you’ve created will probably be a waste of your valuable time.FOCUS ..FOCUS…FOCUS…
  • Step Five: Provide Feedback to Marketing. If you’re still getting long lists of undifferentiated leads, you need to help your marketing team (or whomever is passing you those leads) to better focus their lead generation efforts.  Your goal in this step is to make the four step process above more automatic, so that you don’t have to spend your own time eliminating unlikely prospects. MAKE MARKETING WORK!!

For more blogs on sales management, career management,marketing , please go to https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

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please follow me and leave your comments-feel free to use my work for your sales processes!!