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.
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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/
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.
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I hope you have been enjoying these blogs dealing with how some customers play mind tricks with us sales reps!
Do take out time to read the last 3 blogs, on the same subject…
Now lets talk about this trick that customers play with us….
TRICK NUMBER 4
False Cold Feet
- Explanation: During the final negotiations, the prospect pretends to question the wisdom of the deal.
- Example: “I realized we’ve been working on this for a long time, but we’re not really sure that this is the right thing for us to do at this time.”
- Their Hidden Agenda: They’re trying to scare you into thinking you’ll lose the deal so that you’ll offer some concessions.
- Your Strategy: Determine whether there’s a real problem. If so, roll back the sales cycle; if not, push through.
- What YOU Say: “Exactly what is making you question the deal?”
- What Will Happen: If (as is likely) the objection isn’t real, the negotiation will proceed as before.
- Warning: If the objection IS real, you’ll need to step back from the negotiation process and return to an earlier stage in your sales cycle.
From my little experience, this trick is not real in majority of cases, and the way that I handled this trick was simple.
Dont react to this obvious shock to begin with- maintain and calm demeanor and immediately inform your boss of what happened.
Walk away from the final negotiation table, clearly mentioning to the customer that when ever they are ready, the negotiated terms would have to be re-visited; do inform the client that while the terms can be fast tracked since a lot has already been invested in the engagement over so many months, but a sweet deal cannot be guaranteed under the present circumstances ( postponement of the decision).
On the way out, tell them that a window of 24 hours is open for a rethink on this decision by the client and that the file would be kept “hot” until that deadline. Be polite, BUT be firm and in many cases, the client does get the message that you meant every word you said, and he will in all probability call you up in the next 24 hours.
Try it and let me know if this worked for you.
This series of blogs is to do with the reality that many of us in Sales function face every day.
While we may have had the best of training, with the best of trainers and mentors and bosses, we may have been born with the sales smarts, we may even have picked up some selling acumen through sheer experience, we have to live the with reality that CUSTOMER is indeed KING ….has been, is, and always will be.
NOW…your customers/clients KNOW this reality and despite all your selling prowess, still play dirty with you, trick you and lead you up the garden path. Sadly , very often, you do fall victim to your customer’s tricks and these series are an attempt to highlight some common tricks that customer’s play with you.
DIRTY TRICK #1: The Free Consulting Request
- Explanation: A demand that you provide substantial up-front work without any commitment from them.
- Example: “We’ll consider you for the job if you write us a detailed, 50 page requirements document.”
- Their Hidden Agenda: They want the benefit of your experience and knowledge for free.
- Your Strategy: Before agreeing to do any up-front work, demand a significant concession that will help you close the business.
- What YOU Say: “We’ll be happy to work with you on that document, providing you give us regular access to your top management team.”
- What Will Happen: You’ll get the inside track on developing the opportunity.
- Warning: If you don’t demand something significant, the customer will know you’re a patsy.
Personally I have faced this dilemma ever so often and have just learnt to discern the serious customer from the one who is playing you.
There is no short cut to “learning” this…it comes from a series of cases, of failures, rewinding the entire “case” in your mind, discussing with your mentor/boss, analyzing what exactly went wrong in the engagement, and imbibing that into your client engagement SOP and looking for warning signs the next time around, so that you are not walked across the garden path again!
LET THE CUSTOMER BEWARE!!!