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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.

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Sell well

Are you giving a great buying experience?

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

Are you giving a great buying experience?
When I run one of my sales training courses, I usually do a bit with the class at the beginning about ‘what makes a good sale’. I ask delegates to think about a time when they had an outstanding buying experience and to share it with the group. The results are often a surprise to participants and really get them thinking about what it feels like to delight customers. It also shows them in a very real way that not all buying decisions are based on price. So what exactly goes into creating a great buying experience? Well, in no particular order, these are the things that usually come top of the list:

“They took time to listen to me” – the salesperson listened attentively, asked questions, showed they understood the answers and tried to find out what was really important to the customer. Read More

Why you need to understand procurement professionals better

By | customers, sales tips, Training | No Comments

Why you need to understand procurement professionals better.


Have you ever really sat down and thought about some of the pressures your customers are facing, particularly if a key part of their job involves the procurement function? Come to that, do you treat them like proper human beings or just ‘problems’ to be overcome or sold to?

 

If you don’t, not only are you being unprofessional, but you are genuinely missing out on sales opportunities. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment – and see how you, if you were buying, would like some of these scenarios:

 

1. Day after day you meet with salespeople who range from wonderful to downright obnoxious.

Unfortunately, many salespeople have egos the size of a small country and think you are just some sort of obstacle to be ‘got round’. So you have to spend your working day talking to arrogant, self-centred and just plain unpleasant people. And that’s not taking into account Read More

Sales training - helping customers to say yes

Make it super easy for your customers to say ‘Yes’

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

Make it super easy for your customers to say ‘Yes

Is it possible that you’ve been making things too complicated for your customers? If so, you might be stopping them from buying. That’s because all of us humans like easy decisions rather than hard ones. So what can you do to ensure that your customers are going to find it easy to buy from you? Let’s look at some really simple things you can do straight away.

 

KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Whatever you are doing – demonstrating, presenting, or just explaining, don’t overwhelm your customer with information. Simplicity is the key here. So instead, do your homework and find out what they are likely to be interested in and then, through effective questioning, get to the core of their issue Read More

Are you giving your customers confidence?

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

Are you giving your customers confidence?Sales training: learn how to create confidence in your customers
That’s not strange question – if your customers don’t have confidence in you, what you are selling and your organisation, then your chances of getting a sale are tiny. Customers tend to buy when they like you, believe in you, trust you and HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOU. So if you’ve just been with a customer and failed to get the sale, you could do a lot worse than check the following and see if you are guilty of any of these:

1. Did I turn up on time for the meeting? If not, then you started off wrong and it’s hard to get back from that.

2. Was I prepared? Did you have all the things you needed (notebook, pen, samples, proposals, whatever) or did Read More

In sales, sometimes you need to get out of your own way

By | customers, entrepreneurs, sales tips, Uncategorized | One Comment

In Sales, Sometimes you need to get out of your own wayIn sales, sometimes you need to get out of your own way
This is about lacking self-belief, something which I proved to myself spectacularly yesterday. 

To give you the background, the Christmas before last, I went over a speed bump too fast and knocked off the right side of my car’s bumper. I shoved the broken bit in the boot, gave myself a good telling off for not taking more care and got on with things.

Over the next few weeks, I kept thinking ‘I need to get that fixed’ but put it off with a variety of excuses – I haven’t got the time, it will cost too much to order a new bumper, it will be inconvenient to take it to the garage, it doesn’t really matter, blah blah. 

After a while I got used to having a broken bumper and it sailed right down my list of priorities. 

Yesterday, I was clearing out the boot of the car and, tucked right at the back was my broken bit of bumper. My current mindset is a lot different to my mindset 18 months ago and I looked at this piece of debris and Read More

How good are you at managing your customer records?

By | customers, sales tips, Uncategorized | No Comments

How good are you at Managing your customer records?Tadpole record keeping
I admit I love a good sales database. At Tadpole, it was one of the first things I made sure I had, because in order to grow my customer base and so sell my services, I needed some prospective customers and I needed them fast.

So how good are you at keeping records? Have a look and see where you fall on this scale:

  1. I have a formal CRM system
  2. I have a proper indexed filing system (i.e. postcards)
  3. Pile of business cards
  4. It’s all on my phone
  5. Scraps of paper
  6. It’s all in my head
  7. Errr….what records?

Now, you will be relieved to know that I am not going to spout off about how a pile of business cards is no good, or that in this Read More

Are your customers thirsty enough?

By | customers, sales tips, Uncategorized | No Comments

The Parable of The Young SalesmanSales training - great poster

I recently saw this terrific Oasis advertisement and it reminded me of the following Parable:

A young Salesperson was disappointed. He had lost an important sale. In discussing the matter with the Sales Manager, the young man shrugged. “I guess,” he said “it just proves you can lead a horse to water, but you can not make him drink.” “Son,” said the Sales Manager, “let me give you a piece of advice: your job is not to make him drink. It’s to make him thirsty.”

I reproduce this lovely little parable because it sums up what selling really is and what it absolutely isn’t.

Read More

Make someone happy today – recommend them!

By | customers, Uncategorized | No Comments

Make someone happy today – recommend them!how to sell - happy people

In my job I train people how to sell. When it works it is amazing – they get something they can use for life and, sometimes it transforms them. That’s a wonderful feeling. What do you do that helps people? Perhaps you provide a service or product that they love. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but don’t you just love that terrific warm feeling of a job well done and a customer with a smiling face?

So why not spread a little happiness around? When someone is kind enough to thank you, praise you or publicly compliment you on what you have just done for them, don’t you feel just a little bit taller, a little bit Read More