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waiting to close the deal before it dies

Sometimes it’s better to sell backwards

By | marketing, sales tips, Training | No Comments

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. So 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

Check out more of Tadpole Training’s blogs

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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



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

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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

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Are women better at selling than men?

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

Are women better at selling than men? This is a tricky one.are women better at selling than men?
In my role as a sales trainer, I probably train roughly 60% women to 40% men. Now this is interesting. Does this mean women are worse at selling than men, that they ‘think’ they are worse at selling than men, or just that men are simply less inclined to go on my sales training programmes? I suppose any of these could be true, but without a proper study, any response I make will be extremely unscientific.

However, about a year ago, I did undergo a very interesting bit of research (again, not rigorous in any way, but nevertheless the results were fascinating). I posted this on LinkedIn:

“I didn’t know there was a difference, but I went to an event yesterday (women only) where we were encouraged to be feminine and let the business ‘flow’ to us, as well as using masculine techniques like actually ringing people up and making appointments. I must admit, I’m a bit sceptical about all this! 

What does everyone else think?”

Well, I got a big response. From both men and women. Some of the best ones are reproduced below:

  • Assuming you and a male competitor are both proactively pursuing the same opportunity, and that you both are equally professional, I think you, as a woman, have several decided advantages. Women sales professionals tend to listen better, read body language and non-verbal ques more accurately and develop personal rapport faster than men.
  • Women are much better at everything. They listen. They learn. We suck. A woman can learn a smooth golf swing in an hour – we spend 20 years trying to kill the ball. Women just make sales “look” easier because they are smarter and they listen better.
  • As a marketing Director I use a program that records incoming calls and allows me to listen to the sales reps speaking to leads interested in our services….. The women dramatically out sale the males. After listening to calls for months, I noticed the female will quickly determine what the customer wants to hear and how they need to be sold. Women can change tone, aggressiveness, and her overall persona within 30 seconds of speaking with the potential client. Males seem to stick to what has worked in the past. They don’t seem to listen or ask as many questions as females do at the beginning of the call.
  • Janet, none of us in sales can sit and wait for business to come to us. As xxxxx points out, we sell differently and very successfully.
    We are exceptional at making connections and building and nurturing relationships.That’s one of the reasons we gravitate to referral selling. Our clients and peers look for opportunities to refer us. But again, we can’t just go with the flow. We must ask for referral introductions from the people we know well. It’s important to stay true to our style and to be authentic.
  • Most people are afraid (or at least wary) of being scammed or tricked by a “shady salesman”. Notice the word “man” is in the word “salesman”. When they think of a “shady salesman”, they stereo-typically think of a man. So naturally, when they are dealing with a strange man in a selling situation, customers have their guard up right from the get-go. But most of the time they don’t have a stereo-typical picture in their mind of a “shady saleswoman”. That means customers are often noticeably less guarded when dealing with a strange woman in a sales situation. So a female salesperson often has a much easier time building trust in the earliest stages of the first customer contact. This, of course, tends to make the entire sales process easier for the woman.
  • Janet, great topic. My two cents, your a woman, just be yourself, if your a man, just be yourself. Lots of great input. Most significant is do LESS talking/selling and more listening.
  • The “male and female” concept in selling refers to the style, method, technique or approach.For example, women are noted to be a nurturer and a softie. Having said that, it connotes the traits of being patient, persevering, accommodating and supportive. Being masculine means strong, forceful, dominant in nature and vigorous. Implementing those qualities (women’s plus men’s) create powerful sales tactics and strategies with strong sales execution.
  • For sure, you need to be aggressive in sales, but there’s also a place for letting the business come to you. In this day and age we’re ‘all’ so inundated with marketing messages that we either tune them out or react equally as aggressively (and in a non-sales-conducive manner). Sometimes at a show, I just talk to people without trying to sell them on my products or services…usually what we’re doing there comes up in conversation and by talking to them and listening I can get a better idea of whether I should push them or not. Even if you can connect with this person on LinkedIn or other social media, the opportunity to sell to them (or for them to sell to you) might come later. You just never know!

Wow!

So what are the conclusions? Well, having gone through this little lot, the main themes seem to be that women are:

  • Better listeners
  • Better at reading body language
  • Develop rapport faster
  • More customer focussed
  • More flexible
  • Ask more questions
  • Good at making connections
  • More authentic
  • More likely to be trusted
  • More patient
  • Better at nurturing
  • More supportive

However, ladies, don’t let yourselves pat yourselves on the back just yet. If you are in selling:

  • You do still need to approach people
  • You need to try to close
  • You need to be persistent

All of which, it would seem are slightly more masculine traits.

So what is my conclusion? Simply this – I’m not brave enough to start a gender war. So just make the most of your natural abilities (whether you are male or female) and remember that ultimately, selling should be about helping people.

Janet is an award-winning sales trainer based in Enfield, North London and specialises in teaching small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. For some great free resources, head over to the Tadpole Training website and pick up some more sales tips: Click here

Are you giving good follow up?

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

Are you giving good follow up?

I ask because you don’t have to be a sales expert to use this very simple strategy to increase your sales.

If you take a look at this chart* then you will see that the majority of sales are not closed on the first, second, third or even fourth contact with the customer – rather they are closed somewhere between the fifth and the twelfth. Although this statistic will, of course, vary between sectors and markets, it’s not a bad average to be working with.

So what counts as follow up? Well the main choices are: Read More

Sell well

Are you giving a great buying experience?

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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

sales training - sales funnel

Do you use a sales funnel?

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Do you use a sales funnel?colourful tunnel
Do you even know what a sales funnel is? Perhaps you have heard the term ‘sales pipeline’ – well they are pretty much the same thing.

In my view, they are one of the most effective tools you can use to help you win more sales and the good news is that you don’t need a complicated system – a piece of paper, pen and some post-its are really all you require. So let’s have a look at what a sales funnel is and how to use it:

Look at the diagram below. The top of the funnel is wide and, a bit like a sausage machine, this is where you feed in all your potential customers. As you go down through the funnel, your potential customers drop out the side (not interested, no money, something changes) and eventually you are left with a smaller number at the bottom who convert into actual paying customers.

Let’s look at the stages, starting at the top:

Tadpole Training Sales funnel done at MBN

SUSPECTS
This can be pretty much anyone – at this stage you haven’t had any contact with them and you may only know their name or the name of the company.

PROSPECTS
This is where you start to interact with your potential customers. Perhaps they have visited your website, shop, or seen a leaflet. You may have had a conversation with them and know a bit more information. When a potential customer is in the prospect stage, you really want to find out as much as possible about them so that they can move down into the next stage, which is:

LEADS
These people or companies have a genuine need for your product or service. Perhaps they have asked for a quote, or have indicated that they want to go ahead and buy. They may not be ready to buy now, but within this category you can then subdivide them into ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ leads, depending on how close they are to making a decision.

CUSTOMERS
Customers can be defined as anyone who has either actually paid you or committed to purchase from you. Once you have got someone to convert to a customer, you should ensure you maintain high levels of service as these are far more likely to use you again than anyone else.

Final note. I use post-it notes because they can be instantly moved around the funnel as you lose them or develop them through the stages. The best tools are simple to use and this is a perfect example. Good funnelling!

 

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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Why you need to understand procurement professionals better

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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