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 !!

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 Tell Your Boss He’s Wrong

Hi readers,

This blog has come about after a lot of introspection about my experience with start ups in Africa and India.

Whether its a product based start up or a technology start up, the dynamics remain just the same, irrespective of the vertical, the geography, or the people who were the founders !

So let me build up this piece like a story…

I was recently hired in a sales leadership role, to which I was bringing deep experience. Over the first few weeks, I gathered data and information, which led me to conclude that my territory was doomed to failure (as it had previously failed) if we followed our company’s current strategy. Since I reported directly to the CEO, I wrote him a professional report explaining why the current strategy would fail, what should change, and how the firm would benefit from that change, with a detailed cost/benefit analysis. The CEOs response was: “I felt you were criticizing me!” Everything went downhill from there and I was canned. The way I saw it, I had a choice between speaking up and losing my job in three months, or being quiet and losing my job in six. 

So what do you think my options were in this classic situation where I was caught between the devil and the deep sea??

I think personally you dont need to  use your “deep experience” in sales to sell your ideas in these tricky situations. Your CEO would obviously feel that you were criticizing him because… actually you were criticizing him!

The fact that your argument was compelling, and backed with a cost/benefit analysis, just makes the situation worse. No wonder you get canned. That is lousy salesmanship!

Suppose you had a customer that was doing something stupid and hadn’t yet figured out what was wrong. How successful do you think that you’d be selling to that customer if you opened your cycle by sending them a detailed report that said: “You’ve been doing stupid things, and you’ve been too stupid to figure that out, and here’s what you need to do differently?”

Ideally, the best way to get around your CEO in these sort of situations is to treat him like your prized customer and here’s how it would possible look like.

TEP 1. Lay the Groundwork. Spend one-on-one time with the boss, finding areas where he is open to new ideas and planting seeds of discontent with the current strategy. Ask questions like: “Why did this strategy fail in the past?” “What other strategies have you considered?” and “What strategy might we pursue if this strategy doesn’t pan out?” This is, of course, very basic consultative sales theory.

STEP 2. Offer a Face-saving Alternative. Give the boss an excuse to change strategies without looking like an idiot. Blame changes in the outside world that have suddenly made the current strategy financially impractical, rather accusing the boss of persistent wooden headedness. Example: “Due to rapidly changing market conditions, our current strategy will require an additional $25 million in marketing to guarantee success.”

STEP 3. Transfer Ownership of the New Strategy. Package your new idea as something that the boss created, and which you have subsequently fleshed out into a practical alternative to the current strategy. Example: “As you suggested in our meeting on 6/20, the most viable alternative to our current strategy is… And here are some suggestions for implementing your backup plan…”

STEP 4. Present the Alternative in Person. Because the boss feels ownership of the current strategy, the alternative strategy should be presented face-to-face (or even lips-to-butt), so that you can better sense the boss’s reaction and help him make the transition. This is exactly like presenting your solution to a customer and then closing the deal.

To read more blogs on career, sales management and marketing, log into https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

Connect with me on http://www.facebook.com/the.ashishtandon

AND on linkedin at http://in.linkedin.com/pub/ashish-tandon/4/427/188/

and follow my tweets at #taurus13  and #ashishtandon

Solutions marketing in Flexible Packaging Industry

The definition for Solutions Marketing is given as “A combination of products, services, and intellectual property focused on a specific business problem that drives measurable business value. The solutions components can be from either the vendor or one or more partners, and the solutions implementer can be the vendor, the partner, the customer itself, or a combination of the three.”

I was recently introduced to this definition by Mr. Steven Hurley, MD of Solutions Insights Inc., a renowned marketing professional and practitioner of Solutions Marketing, erstwhile director of the ITSMA ( Information Technology Services Marketing Association), former Director at Arthur D’Little management consulting group and my Professor of Solutions Marketing course at the HULT International Business School, Boston.

As the information and knowledge sank in and my understanding of the subject was relatively better, I started to connect the dots between what I am learning in class and what I have practised as a sales functionary in the flexible packaging industry in India and Nigeria.

It was almost an epiphany in class when I substituted the key words in the classic ITSMA definition with those from the flexible packaging industry and started to see a connection. This quick analysis is appended below ;

A combination of products (Flexible packaging laminate, pre-formed pouches), services (Art work development, printing plate development, gravure printing drum development), and intellectual property (Lamination technology, knowledge of multi-layer laminates, Knowledge of materials, chemicals and adhesives) focused on a specific business problem (Client’s specific challenge in developing the right packaging for his product that meets his product performance requirements) that drives measurable business value (Customer saves in economic value terms by using less packaging material, through down gauging, superior barrier with innovative materials).

The substitutions are given in bold type.

The classic definition ends with a concise explanation of how the inter-stakeholders relationships are woven together to provide the framework for a successful solutions marketing initiative- and it goes like this: ”

The solutions components can be from either the vendor and one or more partners, and the solutions implementer can be the vendor, the partner, the customer itself, or a combination of the three.”

With this definition I drew a simplistic version of how the solutions marketing initiative would work in the flexible packaging industry, which is depicted in the insert.

I would request you all to ideate on this and to comment with your thoughts on this.