was successfully added to your cart.

Cart

Category

entrepreneurs

scared customers

5 Things that could be scaring your customers away

By | customers, entrepreneurs, sales tips | No Comments

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!

biggest threats to your business

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

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

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

Is your sales focus wrong?

By | entrepreneurs, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

Is your sales focus wrong? 

Most people, when they find out I am a sales trainer, ask, perfectly reasonably, about getting help with skills like closing, overcoming objections or improving conversion rates.

But actually, although these are important, so many people forget (or perhaps don’t realise the importance of) the basics. What do I mean by basics? Well, the stuff that you need to sort out before you even come close to speaking with a customer. The thing is, if you get these basics right, then it makes the whole sales process so much simpler, because you are doing the right things in the right order. You can keep closing ’till the cows come home, but if the customer isn’t interested because you haven’t done the right things at the beginning, you are very unlikely to get the sale.

Let’s have a look at what I mean. Here are some examples:

Belief in your product or service – Without a genuine belief that what you are selling is good, how can you possibly expect others to believe in it enough to part with their cold hard cash? We all have a built in ability to spot when we are being deceived and customers will sense even the slightest lack of confidence on your part – even if they cannot tangibly identify what it is. So make sure you love what you are selling.

Know who your ideal customers are – the chances are that there is a particular group or niche who are the ideal customers for your product or service. If you don’t know who they are, then you will probably waste a lot of time trying to sell to the wrong people.

Know the benefits inside out – if you just list a whole load of features about what you are selling, then you are going to speak a lot, bore your customers senseless and not be very effective at selling. Instead, take time to work out the tangible benefits of every single feature. An old trick to do this is to think of a feature and then say “so what?”. Your answer is the benefit or benefits.

Provide Proof – customers won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you, so make sure you have stories (ideally written down) of how you have delighted previous customers.  Whilst simple testimonials are better than nothing, the ideal type of proof is where you can show how you made a tangible change and helped customers either overcome a problem or achieve an objective.

Keep good customer records – there are loads of amazing CRM systems out there, but none are any good if you don’t actually use them. Even a simple filing card system is OK if it works for you, but you have to use something. Otherwise how will you store customer contact details, notes about conversations, diarise meetings, or manage your sales funnel?

Of course it is good to have an overall knowledge of the skills and techniques which will help you to sell, but if you spend a bit of time making sure these basic things are in place, then selling will be both more pleasurable and more effective.

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

 

50p the cost of great customer service

Why Outstanding Customer Service Doesn’t have to be Complicated

By | customers, entrepreneurs, sales tips | No Comments

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!

5 star tadpole training

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

Annoying sales issues

7 Things that we all hate about selling

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

5 star tadpole training7 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

yes or no Woking school child

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

By | entrepreneurs, Food for thought, sales tips, Training | No Comments

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

teenage boy good at sales

13 years old knows how to cold call better than me?

By | entrepreneurs, marketing, sales tips | No Comments

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

A man who has just sold something

The language that makes customers avoid you

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

Positive Language can make a huge difference to your sales conversation, so don’t go using language that makes customers avoid you.

There are certain words and phrases that are considered clichés in the world of selling. If you want to avoid looking like an insincere salesperson, or one who is just following a script. Then it is a good idea not to fall into the trap of using tired, unimaginative words and phrases. That doesn’t mean that you need to have the vocabulary of Shakespeare. But you should at least try to say things in your own way.

One of the key things you can do is ensure you use positive language. Here are some suggestions:

Tips

  1. Don’t use clichés – instead, use your own words.
  2. Listen to yourself – if you can, record some of your calls – you will notice all sorts of things that you didn’t realise you were doing and then you can work on eliminating bad habits.
  3. Never start a call with “How are you?” Why? Well it absolutely screams “You’re trying to sell me something” (particularly if you don’t care, because then you seem insincere as well – see 5 below).
  4. Always remember you are talking to a real person – for all you know they could have had 20 other people calling them today. They would be trying to sell to them. Therefore, put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel if someone rang you up and talked to you like you were just a number.
  5. If you sound insincere, then as far as the customer is concerned, you probably are insincere. Work hard to show that you are genuine.

Case Study

Edwin was new to sales and he was determined to do well. He had been out with his boss during his training and now he was starting to go on visits by himself. Edwin was bursting with enthusiasm, loved the products. Which were advanced water treatment systems – and he really enjoyed going out and meeting new customers.

He started to close sales but soon realised that selling was not always as easy as his boss had made it look. In particular, he really struggled with some of the seasoned and experienced buyers that he had to approach to stock his product.

One refused to give Edwin an appointment. He tried every week to arrange a visit, but the buyer just wasn’t having any of it. In frustration, Edwin asked his boss if he could listen in to his phone conversation to see if there was something he was missing. In fact, his boss went one step further – he recorded the call. When Edwin asked for feedback, his boss told him to listen to the call and see if he could work it out.

Edwin was horrified. He heard himself using what seemed like every cliché in the book. “How are you today”, “To be honest”, “Quite Frankly”. It was as though he had suddenly lost the power to speak in English!

sales training - don't say you are the best
I got it wrong

More about Edwin’s situation.

His boss kindly explained that the buyer didn’t want to talk to an automaton who only spoke in trite sales terms; rather he wanted to talk to a real human being who cared about what was important to him. He also pointed out that by using phrases like “Frankly” and “To be honest”. He was coming across as insincere and was giving the impression that he was either hiding something or worse, lying.

By asking “How are you today?”, Edwin was coming over particularly insincerely – as his boss pointed out, his job was to sell, the buyer knew his job was to sell and, apart from wasting time it was probably actually annoying the buyer and eroding confidence in Edwin’s product. He explained, the moment you hear someone you have never met before say that on the phone, you know they don’t care. That they are trying to appear polite, but actually couldn’t care less how you are – they just want to sell you something.

Edwin’s boss gave him some other pointers too – for example, making sure he was never rude or disrespectful to the competition, never starting a conversation by asking if the buyer wanted to place an order and to just use his own authentic and real words.

With his boss standing by him, Edwin rang his elusive buyer again. When he got through, he apologised for his previous call, saying he was new. He used his own language. Explained that he thought he had something the buyer might be interested in seeing and politely asked for an appointment. The buyer said ‘yes’, on the condition that Edwin did not use the word “Honestly”. Edwin unreservedly agreed.

So often, we fail to get the basics right. Sometimes, all we need is a little help from someone to point us in the right direction. To be smart about using positive language appropriately.

This is an adapted excerpt from my book “Small Business Sales Dilemmas – 50 Real Life Case Studies to Help you Sell More.” (Which is available on Amazon.)

Image from Pixabay

Do your staff struggle with sales?

If you know they are, then they might need an introduction to selling. Check out our regular course “How to Sell”. Currently run over 6 weeks part-time (normally a 2-day programme, but obviously subject to current restrictions)

This covers all the main issues faced by today’s salesperson:

  • How to prospect effectively.
  • Best way to convert leads to sales.
  • How to close.
  • Proven techniques to overcome objections.
  • How to avoid giving discounts to win the sale.

Find out more here