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basic sales skills Archives - Tadpole Training

A man who has just sold something

How to make sure you’re not using 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 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

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 and 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 and 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

sales is like a marriage. Sales trainer

Don’t ask me to marry you on our first date

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Don’t ask me to marry you on our first date!

The trouble is, many people in sales do exactly that. They charge in, take everything too quickly and then try to close the deal before the other person is ready.

So what should they do instead? Well really, it’s common sense. As a sales trainer, I encourage my clients to think of selling like building a relationship and that means there are certain stages to go through. I call it GENTLE selling and the stages are:

Greet – you know – say ‘hello’, shake hands, kiss on the cheek or whatever works for you. You make small talk about the weather or the traffic and perhaps compliment each other on how jolly fine you both look.

Expectations – what are you both hoping to achieve, both short term and long term – is it a quick fix, a short-term dalliance or something where you are going to be close for a long time? Perhaps you don’t want to give too much away – after all a little mystery can be advantageous – but if one party wants something substantially different from the other, then you will probably not be a good match.

Needs – Find out what is important to the other person – the things they need and want are what motivates them to make a decision, take action or invest their time and money.

Together – It’s not just about you! If one of you does all the talking and the other one is wishing they were somewhere else, then this is a mismatch. Together you need to work out what happens next – that way the customer (date) feels in control of things. 

Lead – as in lead them to a solution. It’s very hard to force anyone into a long term relationship (business or romantic) so lead, suggest, encourage and state the benefits of the solution. Make sure they are happy at every stage, because then you can pop the question (close)

Evaluate – What can you learn from the experience and do differently next time? Of course if it doesn’t work out, then you will know what you are doing next time round! And there are, as they say, plenty more fish in the sea!

Happy selling!

If you would like more information about how we can help you transform your sales team, please contact Janet on 07748 994 334 or email jefere@tadpoletraining.com

man looking for his marketing money.

You had better be getting inbound right…..or you’re throwing your marketing money away

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Inbound – how good are they in your company?

Whether you are a one-man band, or a multinational organisation, you will inevitably be spending a chunk of your budget on marketing and promotion. The idea of course, is that you will encourage sales, or at the very least, leads and enquiries. So what you do with these leads is critical.

I do a lot of work with companies who have a front line sales/customer service team and, despite pouring loads of resources and effort into generating interest, suddenly seem to lose the plot a bit when it comes to responding to the leads that marketing generates.

Let me tell you what I mean.

These are just 4 of the things I see frequently when inbound calls are not handled properly:

No proper introduction

Have you ever rung up a company to be greeted with just ‘hello’? It doesn’t inspire confidence. After all, have you got the right phone number? As a potential customer it makes you feel uneasy and slightly wrong-footed. So use this SIMPLE formula every time – it’s clean, professional and straightforward:

• Good Morning/afternoon

• Name of company

• Your name

• How can I help?

So for me, this would be: “Good Morning, Tadpole Training, Janet speaking, how may I help?”

Don’t ask the person’s name

What is one of the easiest ways to build rapport? Yes, use a person’s name. How do you get their name? You simply ask: “Who am I speaking with please?”

Don’t get a contact number

I used to head up business development at an international college. We got enquiries all the time from overseas and often, the line was dreadful and conversations vanished. If we lost an enquiry, that could mean that £6,000 in fees had potentially just evaporated. So we developed a simple strategy to ALWAYS get the phone number as soon as we had the person’s name. Try this:

“[their name], just in case we get cut off, what’s the best contact number for you?” 

It is simple and people then understand why you are asking. 

Don’t find out the source of the enquiry

Remember that we are talking about your marketing money here. Often inbound staff don’t ask how people get to the stage of picking up the phone to enquire. You need to know how they found out about you. Apart from anything else, you need to understand which of your marketing pounds are pulling in the punters (spend more if required) and which are not (get rid, reduce or change).

This simple question will not only tell you how they heard about you, but it also gives you the opportunity to position yourself as a trusted company to work with:

“Who recommended you to us?” [wait for answer]

Whatever they say, then respond with:

“The reason I ask is that most of our business comes to us from personal recommendation.”

And before you worry that ‘most’ of your business does not come from personal recommendation, simply adapt the wording to ‘a lot’ or ‘X%’, whatever is authentic and accurate for you.

So there you have it, some simple tips to get your inbound team answering the phone more effectively and making sure they have the most important details of every single call. 

Happy Selling!

If you would like more information about how we can help you transform your sales team, please contact Janet on 07748 994 334 or email jefere@tadpoletraining.com

your new sales team

5 tips for starting new sales role

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So you have a new sales job!

The excitement, the enthusiasm, the nerves! Read on to learn our 5 tips for starting new sales role!

Anyone who has been in sales remembers this – I know I do. You want to make a big impression quickly – show them that they made the right decision in choosing you and that you are going to not only do well, but crush it.

The trouble is, there might be a lot of blanks – blank diary, blank deals on the table, huge big blank space in your head where there should be lots of knowledge about your customers. Sound familiar? So here are 5 sure-fire tips to get you up and running and performing quickly.

1 Be really clear on what is expected of you

By this I mean have a proper talk with your manager and discuss your territory, your customer base and how things have been performing up until now. Do they expect you to do your target straight away, within 3 months or within a year? Your manager will be able to give you loads of really valuable information – who to focus on first, who is in urgent need of a phone call, who in the team has extra information that will be useful.

2. Work out your metrics

Someone in the team will have loads of statistics on things like:

  • How many calls lead to sales conversations
  • How many conversations lead to a sale

So work it out. If it takes 50 calls to have a sales conversation and the closing ratio on these conversations is one in 5, then you know you need to make 250 calls to get a sale. If your target is 2 sales per month, that means you need to make at least 500 calls to be safe. You get the idea.

3. Make friends with the high fliers

Who in the team is constantly on top of the leader board? If you haven’t been allocated a mentor, proactively seek out the high perfomers and seek permission to spend some time with them – anything from observing their calls to seeing how they handle their admin. You’ll pick up some great tips (and learn what not to do as well!)

4. Be free with praise

Has someone helped you? Did a more experienced member of the team help you close a deal? Well shout it out nice and loud. Give loads of praise (and keep quiet about the times people didn’t help you – no one likes a moaner) The point here is that everyone likes to be appreciated – especially in sales where a lot of people are really motivated by recognition.wine

Oh, and if you haven’t worked it out already, get some wine. Not to drink, but to hand out as a ‘thank you’!

4. Don’t Panic!

Remember sales is a long term game. There is a reason why you have an annual target. Your job is to make a difference over the longer term. Now if you are putting in the effort, you know your metrics, you are doing the work and you are keeping your manager in the loop, then if you don’t achieve top spot in the first month, no one is going to mind.

Make sure you keep focused and the results will come.

5. Invest in yourself

Does your company provide training? Ask to go on every course you can. You will need to understand your product or service of course, but anything that can help you with sales skills should be grabbed with both hands.

What if there is not much training available? Well, any decent company will have something in place, but there is no reason why you can’t sort something out yourself – there is a plethora of brilliant sales training available on line or via platforms such as LinkedIn. Here is a link to my website – I do training at all sorts of price points. Also, did you know you can ask for a mentor on LinkedIn and get advice from an expert?

Learning is truly a life-long experience – you genuinely never stop learning, so get in the habit as soon as you can.

I hope these tips will help you – now go earn yourself some commission and show your boss you were worth employing!

Happy selling!

If our 5 tips for starting new sales role, consider check out our other blogs here! Or our Facebook page here!

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

successful sales people

10 Things successful salespeople always do

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10 things successful salespeople always do

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Happy selling!

 

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

 

selling the unfamilar

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

By | sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

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

happy staff using CRM

What is the single most effective tool that will transform my business?

By | customers, entrepreneurs, marketing | No Comments

What is the single biggest tool that will transform my business?

All around us, ‘gurus’ (of varying degrees of credibility) are pushing this system, or that product, or some package or another which will miraculously ‘transform’ your business. Some are excellent, but some are not and there is, of course, a price point for every pocket.

However, I am a great believer in simple things. I have lost count of the number of wonderful sounding tools or gizmos which I have invested in, but which were too complicated to learn or I just never used.

So, as a sales trainer and small business owner, what is my favourite transformational tool? It’s a CRM.

OK – I  bet you thought it was going to be something a lot more exciting didn’t you? Or perhaps that I was going to prefix it with words like “Secret” or “they don’t want me to tell you about this”.

Well I am just as fed up as you are of hearing about the NEW BIG THING only to find out it’s a recycled version of an existing thing. 

So let me explain. I don’t really care what sort of system you have, but you MUST have some way of tracking your leads and your customers. For some people it’s a pile of business cards (don’t really recommend that, but it does work for some people). Others use notebooks, scraps of paper (ouch!), their phone or products like Microsoft Access. 

Read More

frustration from no sale

When is a Sale not a Sale?

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When is a Sale Not a Sale?

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

 

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

 

Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Read More

Small Business Saturday

I love Small Business Saturday (and you should too)

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Well, what is Small Business Saturday?

The website www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com explains:

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

The day itself takes place on the first Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. In 2017 Small Business Saturday is on Saturday, December 2nd.

On Small Business Saturday, customers across the U.K go out and support all types of small businesses, online, in offices and in stores. Many small businesses take part in the day by hosting events and offering discounts.

And it works….look at some of the stats from 2016:

How the UK supported Small Business Saturday 2016:

  • Customers spent £717m with small businesses on Small Business Saturday, an increase of 15% on 2015 spending

  • Over 140,000 tweets were sent on the day reaching 130 million people, trending on Twitter in the UK and globally

  • Over 80% of local authorities across the UK actively supported the campaign in a variety of ways, from networking events to free parking, meaning wherever you were in the UK, Small Business Saturday was happening nearby

So what are you waiting for? Check out some of the events happening locally. I’m taking part – I’m delivering a free seminar at Enterprise Enfield. If you want to come along, here’s the link How to Sell Without Selling.

But there is loads of other good stuff too

I hope to see you there!

 

teenage boy good at sales

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

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

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

  • Only go to the houses with pumpkins or decorations outside

  • Be polite

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

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

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