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sales tips

waiting to close the deal before it dies

Sometimes it’s better to sell backwards

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Sometimes it’s better to sell backwards

Do I really mean that? Well maybe not everything should be done backwards, but it is certainly worth setting out at the beginning of the meetings, the expectations you have for the end of the meeting!

Let me clarify.

OK – here is a familiar scenario to anyone who has been in sales. Have you ever been in the situation where you talk to your prospect, you do pretty much everything right and then you struggle to pin them down to a start date, or a date to sign? This, by the way, has nothing to do with the prospect creating objections – we will assume they are happy with everything but they are just reluctant to actually commit. It’s very frustrating and, short of just ringing them to ‘check on progress’ or ‘see if it has been signed off yet’ there is not much you can do.

So if this is something that is happening to you a lot, then try this strategy:

When you begin your discussion, start straight away by asking about the date of installation, or use or application – in other words – the date they need your product or service to be in their possession, doing it’s thing.

This means you can use this date as a starting point and work backwards. You can explain your turnaround times and included details of important stages such as production, delivery and testing (depending on what you do of course). After all, that’s exactly what you would do if you were managing a project. And in many ways, selling is exactly that – project management.

Once you have done this, the prospect has a clear picture of time frames and you can guide them that they need to make a decision by a certain date in order to achieve their desired outcome. This gives them clarity and it gives you a genuine reason to chase them if, for any reason, they start to slip beyond the dates you have discussed.

Not all sales solutions are complicated!

Happy selling!

Come and have a chat about how we can grow your sales. Here’s a link to my calendar

 

successful sales people

10 Things successful salespeople always do

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10 things successful salespeople always do

 

There are always some high achievers in sales who, no matter what, always seem to be able to smash their targets, whatever else is happening in the world. So what do these individuals have in common and what can you learn from their behaviours to improve your own sales? Well here, in no particular order, are my top 10:

They believe in what they are selling – anyone anywhere would struggle to sell something that they don’t like or believe to be great (interestingly, it doesn’t actually have to be great – but the salesperson must believe it is). If there is no genuine belief, then customers will sense the insincerity and they will not buy.

Persistence – Top sales people keep going even when times are tough, because they know that hard work now will pay off later. So they just keep plugging away, doggedly. It might not be sexy, but it’s very effective.

Spend time planning – great sales people have a plan – they know their targets, their territories, their ideal customers and their products. Chances are your highly successful person has a tight diary and knows exactly what they are doing several days if not weeks in advance.

They ask really good questions – they know that it is all about the customer – what are their pains, their goals, their challenges? Once a salesperson knows that, they can determine whether their solution will help. Without this knowledge, they won’t know what really matters to the customer.

They  are prepared – when an over achiever has a meeting, you can bet they have a their business cards, laptop (with all the right data on it), a notebook, a pen, research about the client, examples, case studies, pricing details, order forms [insert or delete as appropriate depending on your situation]. There is a good chance they have spares too – extra pens, spare chargers, whatever they think they might need. There is no chance they are going to lose a deal because they forgot to bring the right document.

They are on time – actually they are early. If customers have given you their time to meet them, the least you can do is get there promptly or start that call when it is scheduled. When you arrive early at a customer’s premises, you can learn lots about them too.

They never stop learning – these are the people who are always reading the latest book, going on all the training they can and who invest in self-development. Although so much in sales is the same as it has always been, change is a constant, so they know they must keep up to date and stay ahead of the competition.

They have a mentor/coach – if you wanted to be a top Olympic athlete, there is no way you could do it without using a coach – well the same is true in sales – high performers always have someone – whether it is a brilliant boss, or someone you employ to coach you individually, constructive feedback and advice can enable you to continually get better.

They practice – by this I mean they practice scenarios, closing techniques, questions. Whether it is in the car, in the office, with other people, they visualise different outcomes and how they can respond to move the sale forward.

They are always truthful – if they don’t know something, they say so, if they cannot do something for a customer they will be honest about it. They do not ‘enhance’ the truth in order to win a deal. Instead, they will overcome any genuine objections with confidence and remain authentic and genuine.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this list. Is there anything you would add?

Happy selling!

 

Come and have a chat about how we can grow your sales. Here’s a link to my calendar

 

selling the unfamilar

How to sell the unfamiliar (or “there is a reason people are afraid to buy”)

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How to sell the unfamiliar.

Research shows that customers are unlikely to choose an unfamiliar brand over one they know and recognise – even if there are clear or obvious shortcomings with the known brand. That can even extend to using a dangerous brand. In a fascinating article in The Harvard Business Review, it is explained thus:

Consumers in a recent study believed that airlines whose names they recognized were safer than unrecognized carriers. On the whole, this belief persisted even after participants learned that the known airlines had poor reputations, poor safety records, and were based in undeveloped countries. In other words, a lack of recognition was more powerful than three simultaneous risk factors.

There is a name for this interesting behaviour; Neophobia.

Wikipedia defines it like this:

“Neophobia is the fear of anything new, especially a persistent and abnormal fear. In its milder form, it can manifest as the unwillingness to try new things or break from routine. In the context of children the term is generally used to indicate a tendency to reject unknown or novel foods.”

So what has this got to do with sales?

Well, simply put, if your customers don’t recognise you or your brand, then you could face a harder sale. Let’s look at the airline example again. Even if the known brand:

  • had a poor reputation
  • a poor saftey record
  • was from a undeveloped country

Customers were more likely to use them. Now it doesn’t seem logical does it?

So let’s explore some practical things you can do if you are not as well known as your competition:

Do a comparison

Literally list, side by side all your features and benefits compared to theirs. This is useful for the customer, who, let’s face it, is probably not aware of what you can offer. It makes it easier for them to make a decision

Take the Long Term View

If the potential client doesn’t know you, then they are unlikely to just drop everything and go with your offering. This is where, as a salesperson, you should keep in touch, follow up, send samples, share reviews and make the unfamiliar much more familiar. Make sure you involve all the key decision-makers and stakeholders too, otherwise you will be back to square one. Remember that (depending on your industry) you may need to ‘touch’ your prospects at least 10 times before they are ready to buy. This figure could be higher if you are completely unknown. Check out this post on following up

Build Trust

If you say you will do something, then do it. If you can prove a great statistic, do it. Have fabulous customer reviews ready.This blog will help you: Are you using the power of case studies in your business If it fits your offering, can the customer ‘try before they buy’? Do all you can to show that you can deliver.

So don’t let neophobia stop you getting the sale!

Happy selling.

Come and have a chat about how we can grow your sales. Here’s a link to my calendar

success A to in sales

How to get YOUR sales from ‘A to B’

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How to get your sales from A to B

 

Would you like to earn more money?

If the answer is ‘yes’, I have another question – would you like to do it easily and authentically?

Assuming you probably said ‘yes’ to that as well, why isn’t everyone sloshing around in too much money? After all, we all seem to want it.

It is probably something to do with the gap between where you are now (A), where you want to be (B) and, most importantly, what to do to BRIDGE that gap.

So where are you now?

  1. Maybe you are stuck in a discounting trap and you are not charging what you are worth
  2. Perhaps you are in a cycle of ‘feast and famine’ because your sales fluctuate
  3. Potentially you are always worried about money
  4. Possibly you see competitors doing better than you, even though your product or service is better than theirs

So where do you want to be instead?

  1. Imagine an endless stream of clients who pay a fair price for what you do
  2. Here you can be working normal hours and spending time with your loved ones and the people who matter
  3. What if you are making a difference to people’s lives instead of treating everyone like a cash machine
  4. Picture being able to have enough money to outsource all the jobs you hate while you so all the things you love

And what is the magic ingredient that can achieve all this? Well, it is sales and selling.

It’s important to focus on this because…

  1. Every business needs sales to survive – if you’re not earning money, it’s not a business, it’s a hobby
  2. Instead of throwing extra money at marketing, you can easily make a ton of sales just by getting better at converting your existing leads or selling more to existing customers
  3. The chances are that you’ve never been taught how to sell, yet there are simple tools and techniques that any business owner can use
  4. You may be able to raise your prices and people will still buy from you, so you will earn more from the same effort

Now is the time to focus on this because….

  1. 4 out of 10 small businesses fail in the first 5 years. That means that nearly half of you reading this might not be here in 5 years time and I don’t want that to happen to you.
  2. The main reason businesses fail is cash flow – and that means sales
  3. It’s noisy out there – social media is bombarding us with messages and adverts from your competitors. You need to make sure you stand out
  4. Lots of small business owners pay their staff and their suppliers before themselves
  5. Once you have lost a day of selling, you will never get that day back – so you will never make up the money you didn’t earn.

So do you want to learn more about how to sell?

You should. Let’s chat:

Janet Efere is an award-winning sales trainer and coach based in North London

frustration from no sale

When is a Sale not a Sale?

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When is a Sale Not a Sale?

Many people who are new to sales experience the frustration of thinking they have made a sale, but then, when it comes to the delivery of the product or service, confirmation in writing, or payment of a deposit, the customer does not seem to be able to finalise things and get going.

 

It can be difficult to work out what has happened and it can feel awkward re-approaching the customer to say the equivalent of “what is happening then?”.

 

Tips

  • Have a formal process in place, which might include a contract

  • When a sale has been agreed and the delivery of the product or service is not immediate, it is normal to put everything in writing and then both parties know exactly what to expect

  • Has the customer said ‘yes’? Make sure that when you close, you have not misinterpreted what they said. For example, they might mean ‘yes, but not for 6 months’ which makes a considerable difference.

  • If a deposit is needed and they haven’t paid the deposit, then do not start work until they have!

  • If they said ‘yes’ and then you can’t get hold of them, they may have reconsidered going ahead.

Read More

teenage boy good at sales

He’s 13 years old, so obviously he knows how to cold call better than me!

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He’s 13 years old, so obviously he knows how to cold call better than me!

OK – It’s Hallowe’en and I’m doing Trick or Treating with my 2 children and their 9 year old cousin. Clear instructions are issued:

  • Only go to the houses with pumpkins or decorations outside

  • Be polite

  • Don’t be too scary (he’s a good kid, but at 13 my son towers above many of the householders)

So off we go. Instructions are followed, sweets are collected, everyone is happy.

After a while, we meet with another cousin, the same age as my son. His loot is so impressive he has nearly filled a rucksack. We join forces and continue. His strategy, however, is different from ours. Read More

yes or no Woking school child

How a split second decision as an 8 year old changed my life

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How a split second decision as an 8 year old changed my life

About this time of year, 43 years ago, I was sitting in my classroom at Goldsworth Middle School in Woking. The teacher was asking us to audition for parts in the Christmas carol service. The format was simple: come up to the front of the class and read a passage. Then the class would vote for whoever they thought did the best reading. The winner would take part in the carol service as the representative of our class.

Many hands went up to volunteer, all of them belonging to boys. Read More

50p the cost of great customer service

Why Outstanding Customer Service Doesn’t have to be Complicated

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Why Outstanding Customer Service Doesn’t have to be Complicated (or expensive)

This morning I had an almost flat tyre.  Not an actual puncture, but something I noticed last night and forgot to deal with.

I was on the school run, so I had to make sure the children were dropped off on time, then I gently drove the car to the nearest petrol station and parked up by the air machine. Then I realised – I had been on the school run, so all I had was keys and my phone.  No money. I needed 50p.

I did the regulatory scrabble under the seats, in the nooks and crannies and glove compartment and came up with ….36p. Not enough.

Faced with the choice of driving home and possibly damaging the tyre, or throwing myself on the mercy of the staff at the petrol station, I chose the latter.

“Excuse me, I need your help – I’ve got a flat tyre and I’ve only got 36p. Is it possible…….?”

I never got the chance to finish. The man behind the counter walked off, grabbed something and plopped a 50 pence coin into my hand.

I started to thank him and promised to call by later. He just waved me away and smiled.

Now, I am sure he is a kind man who just wanted to help a fellow human being, but he actually did so much more than that – through his simple act of kindness he made a potentially complicated day suddenly simple and helped a rather frazzled mother on the school run calm down instantly.

Longer term though, he will be the winner. Of course he will get his 50p back. But he will get much more. Because of my gratitude and the fact that I will remember that feeling of panic which he diffused, I will use his petrol station again. In fact, I will probably make a point of using it even more. So he will sell me petrol, the children will ensure we buy sweets and drinks, I will definitely use the car wash and it is likely that we will make various spur of the moment purchases, just as everyone does.

He will reap far more than 50p. Maybe knows it, maybe he doesn’t, but if he treats all his customers like me, I have a feeling he will have a very successful business.

So, if you are in Edmonton, London, go to the Jet Garage at 134 Hertford Road. There! Now he’s got a referral too!

See how that 50p has grown?

Happy Selling!

Annoying sales issues

7 Things that we all hate about selling

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7 things that we all hate about selling

1. Cancelled meetings – especially when they ‘forget’ to tell you and you’ve physically travelled to the venue before you find out. Also annoying when you have done tons of preparation and they no longer want to see you.

2. Being stereotyped as a pushy charlatan – this image persists, yet nearly every salesperson I know is a thoroughly decent (normal) human being. In fact, the people who are best at sales are usually highly focused on helping clients. They are some of the kindest and most empathetic people out there, but everyone else thinks salespeople are a cross between Attila the Hun and Gordon Gekko.

3. Being nice to people who you don’t like, but who have the power to approve the sale. You get to deal with all sorts in sales and so by the law of averages, you are going to come across a few you don’t like. However, if their money is good and they are a good fit, you must still deal with them and try and make it look like a pleasure.

4. Shaking on it then they change their mind. You do the work, you agree terms, everyone is happy so you shake hands (or get verbal agreement, or whatever your standard is for the thing you do). Then, you get that call (and often they just leave a message) saying they no longer want to go ahead or they have changed their mind. Can you get back to them to talk about it? Of course not. The draw bridge has gone up. Leading me on to ….

5. Not returning calls. When they are interested or want your help or advice, clients will talk to you. In fact, they may call you at all sorts of strange times. However, when they have other things on their mind, or when you just need a bit of feedback to move the sale forward, what happens? Yup – suddenly it’s impossible to get through. Messages go unanswered, colleagues can’t say when your contact will be available and you hit a brick wall. You know what’s coming next don’t you?

6. Answer machines – I prefer speaking to actual people. I suppose we all do – but now everyone has an answer machine, somewhere between 50% and 85% of calls go straight to voicemail. Do you ring once, twice, 5 times, 10 times? And at what point do you turn into a Stalker? And then there are the messages left on your own phone that you miss, then 3 days later you just decide to check, only to discover that something urgent needed to be dealt with yesterday.

7. Asking for a discount. I blame car boot sales for this. It’s acceptable to ask for a discount when someone is selling their leftover and unwanted things from their home, but actually it’s not OK to ask for a discount when you are discussing a high quality, well crafted, bespoke product or service that is probably priced fairly for the market place. Yet still prospects do this. Even if, as the person selling, you have done everything right; showed the value of what you offer and demonstrated how many of the prospects needs and objectives you solve, you can pretty much guarantee that, before you get the sale, you will be asked if you can drop the price.

So, if you’ve been in sales for more than 5 minutes, I’m sure you recognise a lot of these. Fortunately, nothing comes even close to that feeling you get when you smash that target!

Happy selling!

 

Janet Efere is an award-winning sales trainer based in Enfield, North London

scared customers

5 Things that could be scaring your customers away

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5 Things that could be scaring your customers away (and what you can do about it)

Let’s face it, customers can be tough to win, so the last thing you want to do is scare any of them away. However, if you are involved in selling in any way at all, make sure you are not doing anything on this list:

Projecting desperation

It doesn’t matter whether it is business or life in general, we can always sense if someone is desperate and we don’t like it. In fact, we are likely to react by withdrawing, because that’s the human response. Remember your focus should always be on your customers and their needs (not your salary, bonus cheque, meeting your target or anything else financial). So even if you are struggling, push it as far to the back of your mind as you can and concentrate on helping your customer.

You don’t look professional

OK, we are not all supermodels, but can you honestly say you project the right image for whatever it is that you are selling? By the way, you don’t necessarily have to turn up in a suit and tie – if you are in an office environment, then that is fine, but you should dress appropriately for the thing you do. I go to a lot of networking meetings, full of serious businesspeople and all of them dressed differently. But the constant? Even the people who work in the more manual type of organisations can always manage to look professional. Clean, neat, tidy. See – it’s not so hard is it?

You promise everything

Seriously, the chances of you being able to give every customer every thing they need is small, so don’t feel pressured to say ‘yes’ to each request – if you do that and then the customer wants it, you are going to be in big trouble further down the line.  It is better to be honest (or perhaps sell them an upgraded package with the ‘thing’ they want for more money!). It might not be easy, but a lot of sales is about compromise anyway – just give them all the facts and keep mentioning the benefits of your solution. If you do your job well, there is a good chance you will get the sale anyway. Better than a false sale followed by a refund!

You don’t take notes

This is about two things:

  1. Listening carefully and paying attention to the person who has been kind enough to grant you some of their time. This is respectful. There is a phrase ‘people buy from people’ and one of the building blocks of a good relationship with customers is the ability to listen and understand.
  2. Ensuring that you don’t forget important details and, because you have written down key points, you can summarise and check your understanding. This is professional and it reassures the customer because it shows that you are less likely to make mistakes with their precious money if they use you.

You are irritating

What does your voice sound like and what is your body language saying? Do you repeat things, tell boring anecdotes, take ages to get to the point, or make negative comments about other people? Now of course, we all think we are wonderfully interesting, but what if (shock horror) we are not as engaging as we think we are? Look out for signs that you are boring or irritating your customers. Yawning, loss of attention, or early conclusions to meetings are tell-tale signs that you are being less than captivating. Consider taking someone you trust out with you on a sales call to give you some constructive feedback and help you improve.

So with any luck you are not a desperate, unprofessional, “say yes to anything”, irritating salesperson with no notebook. However, if you are, perhaps you have a few things to work on!

Happy selling!