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.

Do connect with me on my professional FB page http://www.facebook.com/the.ashishtandon

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

How To Make a Flawless Cold Call- PART 1

Hi confident cold callers!!

I bet I got your confidence up by many a notch after the last 2 blogs on the subject of cold calling jitters and how to win!

So I thought that it is now the right time to discuss some key steps that will help you make flawless cold calls and deliver results!!

I have a total of 6 points to discuss with you and I shall do that in 2 parts- THIS IS PART 1, which will cover the first 3 points..

STEP #1: TARGET REAL OPPORTUNITIES

 

If you’re going to cold call, you need to target people who are likely to buy.

There are many ways to get lists of leads, but typically you’ll either get them from your marketing group or you’ll have access to an online service that allows you to pull potential prospects off the web.

The challenge is winnowing down that list to the prospects who are most likely to buy.  There are three general criteria that are always important:

  • Target Industries. Based upon your experience (and that of your colleagues), figure out which industries have both the greatest need for your offering as well as the money to purchase your offering. You should limit your target to one or two industries at most.
  • Target Job Titles. Within each industry there are “natural” buyers who either purchase offerings similar to yours or greatly influence such purchases. Based on your experience (and that of your colleagues) figure out the two or three specific titles that this natural buyer usually has within your target industry.
  • Trigger Events. For most products (especially B2B) there are key events that signal a likelihood to buy.  For example, if you sell services to help companies integrate normally-incompatible computer systems, a corporate merger or acquisition will usually open up a sales opportunity. Other trigger events are job changes, reorganizations, big sales wins in the prospect’s firm, etc

STEP #2: CREATE A WINNING SCRIPT

An effective cold calling script has the following characteristics:

  • It is about 30-45 seconds long.
  • It includes absolutely no small talk.
  • It delivers a specific, compelling reason for the prospect to want to continue the conversation.
  • It uncovers a problem in their business that you can help them fix.

If the prospect (not you) identifies something that is having negative ramifications on their business (a problem) AND they are serious about getting rid of that problem, then you “may” have a possible reason to continue.  If so, you can set an appointment to explore the possibilities of helping that prospect in some way get rid of that problem.

An effective cold calling script has the following structure:

  • Tell them your name and company
  • Ask permission for 45 seconds and tell them they can end the conversation after that if they want to.
  • Get right to the point
  • Help then identify their business problems by offering a short “menu”

STEP #3: PRACTICE YOUR TECHNIQUE

Many sales reps “sound like” sales reps — and that can be a big impediment to making the sale.  If you’re selling to decision-makers, you need to sound like a decision-maker, not a sales rep.  Every time you sound “like a salesman,” you’re communicating that you’re only there to sell and your credibility flies out the window.

So how did you find these points?? Write back to me , comment on this blog and wait for PART 2!!

How to Conquer Fear of Cold Calling

Hi readers,

Apologies for the sabbatical. Been travelling all over the place to deliver to folks who have retained my services as a consultant.

Well…. recently traveled to a client in Mumbai and he asked me to do a workshop for him for his sales team. As is my practice, I began with personal interviews with the sales team members and realized by the end of the day that the highest common factor ( remember our 2nd grade math!) that impedes their performance was FEAR OF COLD CALLING!

That set me thinking and I began to analyze first the reasons for this underlying fear…and my assessment revealed the following

  • Fear #1: Fear of Sounding Stupid. You’re afraid that once you have a target in your sights , and you are able to muster enough courage to just walk up to his door without an appointment,you will stumble and be turned away from his door by his secretary.  This is not a fear of “rejection”; this fear comes from not having mastered the skill of converting a conversation into an appointment over a telephone call.
  • Fear #2: Fear of Wasted Effort. You’re afraid that you’re not “working” the target correctly; that you are in a random pursuit.  A call here, a call there; leave this voicemail; craft an email, etc., etc. . You’re flailing and you fear your results will correspondingly flail and your efforts will be ineffective.
  • Fear #3: Fear of Lousy Process. You have the same hesitation and take the same deep breath you would take before starting to put clothes on the drying line in fierce a wind storm. Experience says that, even if you’re successful in getting the appointment, there is no efficient way to develop and close the deal.

Post this assessment, my question was- now we know the fears, so now what?

So I came up with a simple 3 point program to help address the fears mentioned and identified above – and these tips are

  • Step #1: Develop Your Skills. Either through available training or available written material work to improve the ability to control the flow of the conversation, to handle pushback’s and to secure an agreement to meet.  You must learn how to deftly and professionally handle the predictable negative responses to a request for an appointment and still secure an appointment.  As a result, you’ll feel the confidence that comes from being able to control the conversation.

Step #2: Adopt a Sales Methodology. Find (or create) a written methodology that sets in place the specific pursuit of any group of suspects, including how many times to call, the frequency of those calls and the messaging used in voicemails, emails, and/or videos. Developing the “Best Practice” model will eliminate the feeling of flailing or being caught up in a random pursuit going nowhere

Step #3: Measure and Adapt. Either manually or with available technology develop a way to execute your best practice and training in a way that enables you to track the pursuit of targets very precisely and in the most efficient way. By tracking activity you will gain control and give purpose to your telephone activity. You can begin to determine how many initial appointments you need to make quota, how many conversations you need to get those appointments, how many calls you need to make that conversation goal.

P.S- Marketing has a crucial role to play in ensuring their sales team members are empowered through various devices ( training, sales playbooks, technology, tools etc) and have the confidence to go out there and get their business and makes their quotas!!

Hope this helps my brothers in the sales teams across the world!!

The 7 Myths of Selling to Smaller Firms

Hi readers,

Forget G-15, Forget OECD countries, Forget the mature, developed economies of the Western Hemisphere, the future belongs to the newbie emerging economies.

The BRICS and MINT are the way to go!!

BRICS- Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa/ MINT- Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey

Do you know what is largely driving these economies even in these trying times?

An entrepreneurial spirited, and driven, SMB segment! Yes, these economies are largely fueled by small and medium firms that are driven by first generation entrepreneurs,  often betting their own financial resources to chase their dreams…

The SMB segment is fast emerging as a focus for major B2B focused businesses across the globe.

B2B businesses who wish to successfully convert SMB clients often find it challenging to generate traction and business in this fast growing segment and for lack of a comprehensive understanding of this segment, and its long term business implication in their business eco-systems and respective economies, they often lose out.

Sales reps who have had qualified successes while working with larger firms , often use myths to justify their lack of success in the SMB segment and thats where they need to revisit their sales process when working with SMB clients..

Selling for an SMB can be challenging, especially if you’re used to working for a larger firm.  There’s usually not much in the way of sales support, and people often end up doing multiple jobs. All of that is manageable, however, providing you have the right attitude about your job.  This RIGHT ATTITUDE is best explained by mentioning the 7 myths that hinder your sale to the SMB client, and what you need to do to redress this and succeed!!

  • Myth #1: Prospects won’t buy from us because they’ve never heard of us.
  • Truth #1: It’s an advantage when prospects lack negative preconceptions.

 

  • Myth #2: Prospects won’t buy because we’re new in the business.
  • Truth #2: Prospects are always interested in something new and different.

 

  • Myth #3: We can’t compete because we’re only a tiny handful of people.
  • Truth #3: It’s an advantage not to have a bureaucracy to weigh us down.

 

  • Myth #4: Customers won’t buy because our product is new in the market.
  • Truth #4: In today’s world, true innovation is (almost literally) priceless.

 

  • Myth #5: An enterprise CEO can’t possibly be interested in speaking with us.
  • Truth #5: It’s in a CEO’s best interest to learn what we’ve got to offer.

 

  • Myth #6: Prospects are asking us to do a lot of work to get their business.
  • Truth #6: We have the right to ask for major concessions in return.

 

  • Myth #7: Big companies have more resources, so they’re likely to win.
  • Truth #7: Big companies frequently bite off way more than they can chew.

Lets get us some SMB business now!!

The 10 Immutable Rules of Sales Success today!

Hi readers,

This blog is the result of constant badgering by my sales team, when I was P&L head of a CPG startup business in Africa, from 2007 till 2011.

My senior sales managers would hound me to “extract” every bit of knowledge to comprehend the elements that ensure “sure shot” success…

I was exasperated to the point of repeating myself a thousand times that …guys there is no simple mantra for sales success…a fast paced , dynamic business eco-system means that us folks in the field have to evolve into super smart, super flexible , quick thinking and quicker acting professionals and to leverage our basic selling skills to close our deals successfully.

BUT…on closer introspection, it was apparent that there were some basic fundamental rules that governed sales success across business eco-systems, irrespective of how the economy was today and what it will evolve into, tomorrow.

Here is my take on what I believe are the 10 ( dare is say immutable ) rules for sales success!

  • RULE #1: Have a sales philosophy that emphasizes relationship building.

Relationship building skills, with customers, both internal ( your boss, his boss, the production head, the finance head, the CFO, the account head, the logistics head etc) and external, is MOST CRUCIAL to your sales success. Imbibe this skills, work on it life long, and leverage it strategically and you will succeed.

  • RULE #2: Value the relationship more than making your quota.

Work on your relationship management and development skills- relationships last you a life time, and they are PRECIOUS in sales- take it from me, I have 18 years selling experience in some very inhospitable business environments, and succeeding against all odds!

  • RULE #3: Consider yourself and your firm as the best at what you do.

Be proud of what you have achieved as a sales professional and you will have generated positive aura around yourself. MOST important, believe that the firm that has employed you IS THE BEST IN ITS CLASS AND CATEGORY…( even if the CNN, WSJ rankings tell you otherwise!!). You have to sincerely believe , that you are a game changer, a winner and best in class performer, and once you have taken this route, your firm will automatically be the best place there ever was! Winning can be positive and infectious ….

  • RULE #4: Achieve a perfect job of delivering what you promised.

Perfection comes from life learning, constant improvements and practical application in different challenges that you address as a sales rep every day. Practice makes perfect, and perfection ensures that your delivery is first class every time.

  • RULE #5: Provide absolutely impeccable service after the sale.

After sales service is the success mantra of every product or service based business, BUT many times, that level of service after sale, that the client expects , is wanting. Learn to pick the slack on behalf of your other team members, and go the extra mile to serve your client , even at your own cost- not only would you have created genuine opportunity for customer delight, BUT would have served your firm well!! The satisfaction that you would have achieved after this would be worth many awards!

  • RULE #6: Help the customer build the customer’s own business.

Go beyond selling a simple product or the service- consciously evolve into a solutions sales specialist, who is able to work in a matrix, complex organization, and develop the sensitivity and perspective to understand FIRST from the customers point of view, BEFORE getting headlong into a sales pitch- believe me , all traditional businesses in B2B and B2C can be valued added for your client as a “solution” and not simply as a product or a service- do this , and you will have a client and customer for life.

  • RULE #7: Think end-of-time friendships not end-of-month totals.

Go back to Rule # 2, Relationships, first, then evolved to a life long friendship, if you implement Rule # 6. When your clients ( both internal as well external) see how you are different from the rest of the sales team, are able to think out of box, are analytical , as opposed to simply quota driven and commission driven, YOU ensure your longevity in the firm! mark my words…

  • RULE #8: Define your niche and position yourself as the expert.

Regularly conduct critical self assessment, based on what your career plans are, and see that in the context of current business eco-systems, as also the predicted and likely business eco-systems of the future. Read deep and read well and talk to those who have been in your field of work long before you ever thought of working in sales, pick on their brains, learn from them, and re invent yourself with the changing times- you would not have to call your self an expert, your clients, and peers will!!

  • RULE #9: Translate what you offer into the customer’s business results.

Again, evolve into a solutions sales professional as opposed to a quota driven sales jock- understand the value that your product or service currently offers its clientele, assess that offer versus your competitors and replacements, analyse, yours firms comparative and competitive advantages, and use that insight to re-define the offer to your client, ensuring that you peg that offer directly to your clients business results ( increase in profit , by reducing up front cost, as also total cost of ownership over a life time!!)- get your number crunching skills upto speed and you would be well on your way to the sales hall of fame!

  • RULE #10: Remember that the road to success is paved with setbacks.

There is no sure shot to success that will not have a setback or two- setbacks are like wake up calls, and the mature sales rep will learn from that episode, imbibe into his system, and develop the capability to NEVER REPEAT THAT mistake twice. The less repetition you have in your career, the more likely you are to succeed as a sales star!!

The Six Rules of Selling for Start-ups

Hi readers,

This blog is a result of my current professional engagements with 2 great start-ups, that I believe will disrupt our markets in India and empower the key stakeholders in their respective eco-systems, like never before.

THATs why I am with them!!

START-UP number 1 – Confidential / Secret/- Disruptive tech based and enabled platform for the $ 5 billion marriage services market.

START-UP number 2- http://www.fleximoms.in/ – Disrupting the flexible work niche in the labor market in Indian AND empowering women (yaay!!) at the same time!! (Double yaay!!)

These 2 great start-ups define awesomeness! and as I would say in Boston, …they are WICKED cool !!

So , the question is you have a tech enabled platform, ready to rumble and roll, NOW WHAT?

Well…revenues silly!

Who gets the revenues? The sales team of course?

And how do they do it in a start up? thats the million dollar question I wanna answer in this blog- hope you like it…

Selling for a startup presents unique challenges even for highly experienced sales professionals. Because your company is new, your potential customers don’t know anything about it and, sad to say, in business unfamiliarity breeds contempt. Not to worry, though. Here are the six rules of selling for startups:

  1. You are an entrepreneur. You aren’t in a big company, so ultimately the only person you can really count on to get things done is yourself. Don’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to move the sale forward, even if it means giving up your weekends.
  2. Don’t be afraid to bail. If a deal doesn’t make sense for your company, it’s not worth pursuing. Don’t let wishful thinking propel you into wasted effort. For example, if you can’t meet with the real decision-maker, you aren’t going to get the business. Period. Move on, without regrets.
  3. Don’t be taken advantage of. Insist that every customer relationship is a relationship between equals. Adopt a policy of “Quid Pro Quo” – that anything the customer or prospect asks you to do give you the right to ask them to do something comparable in return.
  4. Believe in your greatest strength. What startups offer customers is unique, and that’s good news, because top executives don’t have the time to sit with down with cookie-cutter sales reps, but always have time for somebody who can redefine problems and devise solutions.
  5. Don’t scuttle your credibility. Never take on an apologetic air, try to explain away the inexperience of your firm, or (ugh!) beg for the business. Savvy customers can smell fear and will ask for steep discounts or even amuse themselves by making you jump through meaningless hoops.
  6. Dare to be honest. Share your feelings with the prospect to move the sale forward. If you believe that the customer is treating you unfairly or asking too much, respectfully point out why you see the situation that way and then ask for reasonable concessions.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Selling

Hi readers,

I have been blogging at length about sales management, selling skills, personal attributes of great sales stars, selling acumen and so on.

I also wrote about the tricks that our customers play on us and watching to see if we would blink, and then take advantage of our intrinsic weakness to “close the sale” and achieve our quota targets….

I have been meaning to speak of 7 major points that for me are the proverbial “deadly sins” that often impede our performance as sales professionals.

These are the Seven Deadly Sins of Selling.

  1. SIN #1: Not being personally accountable. Don’t pass the buck somebody else in your firm; your customers want your personal skin in the game.
  2. SIN #2: Failing to understand the customer’s business. Don’t expect customers to answer dozens of questions just because you didn’t do your research.
  3. SIN #3: Being an adversary, not an ally. Since customers are risking their career doing business with you, they expect you to represent their best interests.
  4. SIN #4: Selling products not solutions. Don’t burden customers with features and functions; tell them how your solution will help their business.
  5. SIN #5: Being inaccessible when needed. If customers are important to you, you’ll answer their email or voice mail within minutes, not hours.
  6. SIN #6: Selling rather than helping. Customers want you to be thinking about how to help their firm, not how to sell your products.
  7. SIN #7: Wasting the customer’s time. If your solution isn’t the right choice for the customer, say so.  Don’t waste their time pitching something they don’t need.