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.

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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

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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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How To Cope with Sales Rejection

Hi guys,

I have been wanting to take on the subject of rejection in selling professions for quite some time , BUT its not a very easy topic to write about.

I think homo sapiens are not attuned to accept rejection easily and therefore this becomes a very prickly issue in our lives.

BUT its an issues that needs attention especially for those of us in Sales who are front ending our corporate brands and bringing in the moolah.

I think that in order to be successful at sales, you need to be able to cope with rejection — an even to turn it into a goad that creates more success.

Once you understand this, rejection loses is power over you, and your ability to sell.

Your experience of rejection depends entirely upon three qualitative, subjective measurements:

  1. Frequency. Everyone can deal with some rejection, but how much rejection can you experience before you start taking the negative feedback to heart?  How many times can you contact a qualified prospect and get a negative response before you begin to take it personally?  Increase your tolerance, and rejection loses its hold over your future performance.
  2. Emotional Involvement. How emotionally involved can you become with somebody before you feel that the other person might know you so well that criticism hurts?  For example, you might be reluctant to close because you’re afraid that your customer might feel “buyer’s remorse” and stop liking you — a form of rejection.
  3. Perceived Importance.  As a sales rep, you’re likely to feel most comfortable contacting people who are of a similar (or lower) social class or educational background.  However, you might find yourself avoiding people whom you feel are more important than yourself, because their rejection of you might seem to carry more weight or authority.

Each elements is easily changed, fortunately.  Here’s how:

  1. Frequency. To make yourself less vulnerable in this area, you must differentiate between valid and invalid rejection. If the rejection is based upon something valid (like your basic approach), then you blame your approach and then change it.  If the rejection is invalid — as when a prospect “dumps” frustration — it has nothing to do with you, so you can easily ignore it.
  2. Emotional involvement. The cure for this subjective ailment is to believe in yourself and in your product.  If you truly believe in both, then there is absolutely NO reason why you shouldn’t want your true friends to be your customers.  If it turns out that your friend doesn’t want or need your offering, it’s not a rejection of you, but of the product and firm.  So it should have no power over you.
  3. Perceived importance. My mother always recommended imagining that you’re talking to the bigwig while he’s sitting on the toilet.  That doesn’t really help me, but I know what she’s talking about.  Look: most bigwigs are exceedingly average people who’ve stumbled into their success.  Their opinion means nothing in the long run, so don’t let it have any power over you.

I think the key skills that a mature sales professional needs to imbibe in himself/herself, is that of EQ (Emotional quotient)….a strong EQ will best equip you with the balance and poise to manage rejection when you go out there to get your business!!

I have extensively covered numerous aspects of selling skills and sales management in my blogs on wordpress….https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com

Please check out my blogs and feel free to ideate and provide me with your insights and suggestions…happy to learn from my peers and thought leaders.

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You could also connect with me on LinkedIn http://in.linkedin.com/pub/ashish-tandon/4/427/188/

Don’t Let Your Brain Screw Up Your Sale

Hi readers,

I have often been asked by my mentees after a f_ck_d up sale on ….”where did we go wrong!!!???”

I did EVERYTHING that you taught me…EVERYTHING to the “T”, and yet the sale went to my competitor !!

Alright….

When it comes to success in selling, your brain can be your own worst enemy.

If you’re like most sales stars, your brain has a tendency to chatter away about the future, when having a conversation with a customer.  Even though you’re trying to listen, your brain is sending out all sorts of subliminal messages to your subconscious like:

  • “If I don’t make my quota for the month, my boss is gonna kill me…( Really…ask yourself this…are your KRAs all about numbers??? tch tch numbers are only 50% of your KRA my sales pro!!)
  • “If I don’t make this sale, I won’t be able to buy that Versace dress from my girlfriend…” (Man, get your priorities right, and then understand that those who love you will love you whether you got them that dress or NOT!!)
  • “I hope this guy doesn’t tell a boring story, because I’ve got a flight in two hours…” (Patience is a virtue in Good salesmanship my friend!! didnt you know this..)
  • “What should say say next, in response to what he’s saying now…” (Being presumptuous are we …)
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

This mental chatter frantically pulls your attention away from the customer and towards your own priorities and goals.  That can be fatal to actually making the sale because you’ll miss cues and clues about what the CUSTOMER wants.

In short, the CUSTOMER will cease to be king in your subconscious and you will inevitable wander AWAY from a sale that YOU THOUGHT was in your bag!!

The solution is to treat selling more as a process and less as an achievement.  Here’s how:

  • STEP #1: Open your posture. Body language and engaged listening are inter-related. When the customer is talking, you’ll be more interested, and seem more interested, if your expression and posture indicates that you are interested.  This is not trickery; it’s everyday human behavior.
  • STEP #2: Look AT the customer. When you’re thinking of the future, or something that you’re going to say, your eyes will lose focus or drift slightly upwards.  Keeping your eyes FOCUSED on the customer (without staring through the customer) forces your mind into the moment.
  • STEP #3: Be aware of your breathing. Because you’re human, it’s nearly impossible to keep all of your thoughts away from yourself.  Rather than listen to your internal chatter, become aware of the sound and flow of your breathing, which won’t distract from your focus on the customer.
  • STEP #4: Stop to take notes. When the customer says something that you’re sure is important, rather than breaking your focus by glancing down and making a note, ask for a moment’s pause, and then make a note.  Segmenting the two activities ensures that you’re present during the conversation.
  • STEP #5: Trust your instincts. You may believe you need to analyze everything that’s going on in the conversation in order to come up with the “right” response.  However, you’re more likely to say the “right” thing if you’re actively listening and then responding in a way that “feels” right.
  • STEP #6: Be patient with yourself. Selling is the study of a lifetime, so you can’t expect to grasp every concept or master every technique immediately.  Fortunately, what’s most important in sales is the combination of intention and attention.  Make the sale about the customer.  It’s really that simple.

To know more about sales acumen read

https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/what-every-manager-should-learn-from-sales/

https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/what-we-can-learn-from-sales-gods-and-succeed/

https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/if-you-want-to-sell-more-get-curious/

Connect with me on LinkedIn http://in.linkedin.com/pub/ashish-tandon/4/427/188/