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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!

Historical lady saying no

Have you ever talked yourself out of a sale?

By | customers, entrepreneurs, marketing, negotiation, sales tips, Training | No Comments

Have you ever talked yourself out of a sale

(and what should you have done differently?)

It is important to understand when to talk and when to stop. When we are being sold ‘to’ none of us likes to be with someone who talks constantly; it is irritating and it can make us feel resentful because it is taking up our time. This is especially true if we have already made our mind up to buy.

When you are the one doing the selling, you should also be aware that not every customer needs to know everything about your product or service – all they really need to know is whether it will solve their problem or meet their objective and how. Anything else is just clutter and can put the sale at risk. Read More

take a break from selling

5 things a child knows about the Summer sales dip that you don’t

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5 Things a child knows about the Summer sales dip that you don’t.

Work, work, work. That’s what so many of us do isn’t it? We work really hard, putting in the effort and the hours and then, despite our best efforts, during August a lot of our businesses just slow down. Everyone is either on holiday or talking about their holiday. There are fewer paying clients around and, unless your business offers something seasonal, the chances are that this is a quiet time of year and your sales drop. Read More

sales training - don't say you are the best

Don’t tell customers you are ‘The Best’

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Why I’m not going to tell you I’m the best

Today I got pitched at by an over-enthusiastic insurance sales person. Although I’m not in the market for insurance, the salesperson in me loves to listen to other people’s sales calls because, well, they are fascinating! Anyway, this chap did his pitch and I said I wasn’t interested (so far so normal) and then he asked me ‘Why?’ Now that’s a great sales question – even it he wasn’t doing it in quite the right place. Anyway, I replied that I was happy with my current provider. He then did someone wrong – he proceeded to tell me that his Read More

sales training USP

Why you will get gobbled up by the big fishes if you don’t nail your USP

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Why you will get gobbled up by the big fishes if you don’t nail your USP

USP stands for Unique Selling Point. USPs are the benefits or features that set your product or service apart from similar things which are offered by your competitors. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have something which is completely new or unique then knowing your USPs becomes less critical (although that opens up a whole different range of problems, which I am not going to tackle here!), but most of us are not that fortunate. Examples of USPs could be:

  • Ethically sourced
  • Quality of ingredients/components
  • Easy payments
  • Smaller versions available
  • Extra functions
  • Better after sales service
  • Good location
  • Free delivery
  • You (especially if you are a sole trader, as you are the ‘face’ of your business)
  • Extensive experience in the sector
  • Highly trained staff
  • No quibble money back guarantee

You will also notice that your USPs might change from time to time. It is really important to keep up to date with what your competitors are doing, because the chances are they will be watching you and might adopt some of your best USPs, (in which case they are no longer unique!) or it may be that you come up with something else new and better that you should tell customers about.

If your product or service is something that has wide appeal to many people, this might, on the face of it seem ideal. However, in reality, this can actually make it more difficult to sell it because it can be very expensive to try and market to lots of people. You will also be competing against huge brands with enormous marketing budgets in what is known as The Mass Market. These are the big fishes I was talking about and, yes, they absolutely will gobble you up if you cannot differentiate your product or service from them.

Instead, a lot of smaller businesses have more success with identifying a particular niche into which they can focus their efforts. A niche is a small segment of customers, for example a clothes store selling to petite women or a food store focussing on vegan food. By identifying this niche and then focussing your marketing money and effort into it, you will be become a specialist and people who need that particular thing will seek you out. But even within your niche, there will be competitors, so you still need to know your USPs. This is something I cover in detail on my course “I’m not a Salesperson”

For example, I know that some of the USPs of Tadpole Training include:

  • Award-winning trainer (me)
  • Teaches sales in a non-pushy and non-salesy way
  • Has extensive practical experience of running a growing a business
  • Can create bespoke training courses to fit your requirements request more information

If you have never sat down and thought about your USPs before, take 5 minutes to work them out now. Make sure you include them in your marketing materials and remember them when you are talking to customers, because you never know when that particular USP will make the difference that leads to a new sale. Best of luck!

If you want more training on USPs or any general sales skills, get more information here

If you just want some simple sales tips right now, download Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips

 

The surprisingly effective sales question you are probably not asking

By | customers, entrepreneurs, sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

Some things you learn through training. Some things you learn through actual real life experience. The question I am about to share with you is an example of the latter.

As a sales rookie, I went on loads of training courses which undoubtedly helped me go on to have a successful sales career. However, it is true that you don’t really start to learn the best lessons until you are interacting with real life customers in all their glorious variety! Although I have since come across training which suggests using this question, it is one I stumbled upon by accident and, realising how powerful it was, I still try to incorporate it into as many discussions with customers as possible.

So what is this question? Well it might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but the question is simply this. When you get an enquiry from someone about working with your company, ask them:

“Why are you interested in working with us?”

or, a slight variation of this is when they ask about using a particular service (or indeed buying a product):

“Why are you interested in [insert name of product or service]?”

See – very simple isn’t it?

So why is this such a good question? Well I started using it because I wanted to make sure that prospective delegates were signing up for the right course. There is lots of competition in the training world, as well as a whole raft of different courses offered at different levels with varying objectives and for a wide variety of people. So, I began asking this question to make sure that organisations and individuals signed up to the correct programme that best met their needs.

This is important for several reasons:

  1. Clients often think they know what they want but, after gentle probing sometimes reveal that actually something else is driving them. If I can find out what, I can offer the best possible solution
  2. Business is really not just about taking the money. It can be hard sometimes to question someone who is on the verge of buying, but you have to think long term. Good advice now may yield better results in the future than just the cost of one lost sale. You should be thinking in terms of a lifetime of customer loyalty and you won’t achieve that if you don’t give the best advice you can.
  3. If I get an enrolment and a client comes on the wrong course, they won’t get the maximum results from it, may end up being bored or detached because the content is not relevant and of course, will leave not having achieved their objectives.
  4. This has a knock-on effect within the rest of the class because it changes the group dynamic negatively.
  5. An unhappy delegate will go away without that all-important ‘Wow’ factor, which is so vital. Their feedback won’t be as good and they won’t give referrals as willingly, because the course didn’t meet their needs
  6. Because the overall group wasn’t as engaged, then again, overall feedback is less good with similar results to point 3.
  7. Over time, my brand gets eroded and that is bad for business
  8. The dissatisfied client goes away and has to spend even more money going somewhere else for an alternative solution.

I will admit it’s not always plain sailing. I have had customers visibly surprised when I ask them about why they want to go ahead; after all, in their minds, it felt a bit like I was hesitating to work with them. However, when I explain that I just want to find out what their objectives are, to make sure the course is right for them, then without fail, they understand what I am up to.

Which brings me onto another reason why this line of questioning can be so powerful. By asking why a customer wants to use you (or your service), what will you get? Oh you get something wonderful! You get a list of reasons why they want to buy from you. Pause for a moment and think about that. They actually tell you WHY they want to use you! How fantastic is that? As a salesperson, that has got to be the Holy Grail of selling surely!

It is a super-effective way of making sure you align completely with what customers want. Or indeed, if you can’t help them, you can now save everybody’s time and tell them so – ideally with a recommendation of an alternative supplier.

I not only love the simplicity of this line of questioning, I love the powerful and immediate way it engages with the customer and you get to understand what really motivates them. So much in selling is understanding customers’ needs and to do this effectively, you need to ask powerful and probing questions. So in my book, this is one of the best.

I would urge you to try this question and please let me know how you get on and what results you experience.

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link now.

Click Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips

biggest threats to your business

Do you know the single biggest threat to your business right now?

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Do you know the biggest threat to your business right now?

 

Well, if you don’t you should. I speak as someone who has experienced what happens when an 18 year old established business gets wiped out pretty much overnight, due to a change in Government policy. And for anyone in Britain, 3 simple words: “British Home Stores”. Do I have your attention now?

Whilst every business is different, I would urge you to use some simple management tools – a favourite of mine is the good old SWOT Analysis – in order to give yourself an objective overview of what is going on in your business right now. Depending on the size and sophistication of your outfit, you may want to use other management tools or industry experts, but whatever you do, choose something and get yourself prepared.

So here, in no particular order, are some of the biggest threats that could be facing you and your precious business:

 

Long Term Sickness or Injury – in many small businesses, one person is the key to everything. If this person couldn’t work because they were ill or injured (or even dies), then how would the business replace them – would there be funds available, or would the revenues dry up completely because everything revolves around that person? If you haven’t, then you should consider taking out Key Person Insurance, which will provide you with financial security should the worst happen.

Not managing your Sales Pipeline – many small business owners are not sales experts (they are experts in their core business after all) and once the sales start to come in, it can bring a false sense of security that things will always go on this way. However, it is a fact of life that customers leave (they find someone else, they relocate, they close, they don’t need you any more). So how would you cope if your biggest or most profitable customers suddenly left? You need to have a constant pipeline of potential new customers to replace the inevitable losses that always occur.

Lack of Planning – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” goes the saying. But if the last time you had a proper strategic business plan was when you started, then the chances are that your business is just drifting along. So do you regularly schedule time in for planning? Do you have a 6 month, 12 month or 5 year plan? Do you have an exit strategy? When is the last time you did some strategic planning? If you want to know more about how, read about how to do a SWOT Analysis here Without a plan, how can you possibly put in place the steps you need to take to achieve your goals? Too many small business owners get bogged down in the daily detail without taking the time to look at the big picture and then, when something significant happens, they are not prepared.

Not spending enough resource on sales and marketing – by resource I mean both time and money. In today’s world you can’t just stick up a poster advertising your business and watch the money roll in. You need to experiment and work out which types of promotion work for you and which are most cost effective. Many people think marketing is about promoting your business, but that is just part of it – you need to make sure your product and prices are competitive and that you offer something that people actually want. How do you make it and get it to the customer? Do you have testimonials, processes and procedures to make the buying process smooth? And do you have someone with enough sales skills to turn potential customers into actual paying clients? If this all seems too intimidating, then get expert help and hire someone who can do it for you.

Cash flow crisis – bad debts can often become a major issue for small businesses. Lack of capital to reinvest in your business can destroy it over the longer term, but if it has no liquidity at all, your business can be shut down instantly. So do you have terms and conditions that clearly state your payment terms? Are you good at chasing outstanding payments? Do you insist on deposits or payment up front and do you make credit checks on new customers? It might seem like a lot of hassle, but it is nothing like as painful as buying stock up front, fulfilling an order and then never getting the money.

There are, without doubt, many more threats to business than those I have discussed here. I would welcome your thoughts on what you believe are the biggest challenges small businesses face in the UK at the moment.

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link now.

Click Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips

Are you SWOT-ing enough?

By | entrepreneurs, marketing, sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

That’s not bad grammar by the way – the eagle-eyed amongst you will realise I am referring to that wonderful tool The SWOT Analysis.

Although I predominantly deal with sales issues, when I am working one to one with a client, I like to take it back to basics so, along with reviewing their vision, mission and values, I do a SWOT with them. There is a good reason for this – many small business owners get so bogged down in the day to day they end up working “in” the business instead of “on” the business. In other words, they are failing to plan and implement strategically. That’s really important to address, because if I am putting together a bespoke sales training solution for someone, it’s a complete waste of everybody’s time if I end up doing something which is at best “not quite right” or at worst completely wrong for their corporate direction or which doesn’t match their values.

So I thought it would be a useful exercise to revisit SWOT and, for those of you who haven’t come across it before, explain why it is such a fabulous business tool.

The objective of a SWOT Analysis is to help you develop a strong business strategy. It makes sure that you have considered all of your business’s strengths and weaknesses and also the opportunities and threats from the wider world.

So Strengths and Weaknesses are internal and Opportunities and Threats are external to the business.

What you need to do is critically appraise where your business is and fill out a chart which should look something like this:

SWOT Analysis - tadpole training

You don’t need to be particularly detailed, in fact it’s best to approach this as a sort of brain storm – put down things as you think of them and tidy them up later. If you have a team, it can also be a good idea to get them involved too – not only will they contribute things you might not have thought of, but if you do later decide to implement something and they have had input, you are likely to get much more buy-in because they have a feeling of ownership.

Once you have completed all of these sections, you will have a very clear snapshot of exactly where your business is right now and then you can go through it again and prioritise according to the highest and lowest priority in each section.

When you have finished, you can use the information to develop long and short term strategies to drive your business forward. You should aim to capitalise on the strengths and opportunities and either minimise or avoid the weaknesses and threats.

Finally, none of this is any good unless you actually implement what you have created, so make sure you include any actions in your overall strategic plan. It is also a good idea to regularly revisit your SWOT as things will change. I tend to do it every quarter, but do what works for you.

If you have any questions about how you can use SWOT Analysis to help develop your strategic sales and marketing plan, then please drop me a line.

Happy selling!

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link now.

Click Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips

 

love getting objections

Why I love Sales Objections and you should too!

By | entrepreneurs, sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

Why I love Sales Objections and you should too.

As a sales trainer, one of the things that I get asked about probably more than any other (with the possible exception of how to close better) is overcoming objections.

There is something about an objection that can strike genuine fear into the hearts of salespeople – particularly if they are less experienced – but it really shouldn’t be like that.

 

Now, I do accept that part of the mindset of being in sales is that thrill you get from moving a prospect on towards becoming an actual paying customer (yes, you’ve guessed it, when I was in direct sales, I was a ‘hunter’!), but what if sales isn’t your natural world and you find elements of it a real struggle? If that is you, then here are some practical things you should consider, which will hopefully change your perspective a little bit – or maybe even a lot.

 

  1. You can prepare for objections in advance. It is likely that most customers will broadly be worried about similar things, so do your homework, make a list of possible objections and work out what you can say to overcome them.

  2. Make sure you have lots of reviews, testimonials and case studies from happy customers. If a potential customer objects to something specific, it can be very powerful to say “Well my customer AAA had a similar concern, so we did BBB and the results were CCC.”

  3. Don’t rush to answer objections with tons of facts. It can be a lot more powerful to ask probing questions instead, such as “why is that important to you?” or “tell me a bit more about your concerns”. By encouraging potential customers to explain in more depth, you may find that the objection they stated was actually secondary to something else, which is fantastic, because now you can address the genuine objection.

  4. It might sound strange, but when a customer gives an objection, it can often mean that they are very close to buying. An objection means that they are considering using your product or service and are just checking that everything fits properly. If they have a genuine concern, then it makes sense to air it and make sure that it is not a deal-breaker.

  5. Some customers can just throw in an objection to put you off – so getting an objection can sometimes have absolutely no bearing on whether or not they are going to buy from you. Just as in life, customers come in a whole range of personalities!

  6. Once you have dealt with an objection, it is useful to ask a follow up question (known as a confirmation question), such as “has that answered your concerns?” or “is there anything else you would like to know?” By doing this, you find out whether you have dealt with their objection to their satisfaction and it allows you to move onto the next stage of the sale. After all, if you don’t deal with their objection properly, then there probably won’t be a next stage of the sale!

I hope these simple strategies will help you worry less about getting objections. Instead, acknowledge that objections are simply part of the sales process and can be a great way of cementing that sale.

 

Happy selling!

 

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

 

 

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link now.

Click Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips