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sales is like a marriage. Sales trainer

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

By | sales tips, Training | No Comments

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

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?

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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. 

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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.

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50p the cost of great customer service

Why Outstanding Customer Service Doesn’t have to be Complicated

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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!

scared customers

5 Things that could be scaring your customers away

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5 Things that could be scaring your customers away (and what you can do about it)

Let’s face it, customers can be tough to win, so the last thing you want to do is scare any of them away. However, if you are involved in selling in any way at all, make sure you are not doing anything on this list:

Projecting desperation

It doesn’t matter whether it is business or life in general, we can always sense if someone is desperate and we don’t like it. In fact, we are likely to react by withdrawing, because that’s the human response. Remember your focus should always be on your customers and their needs (not your salary, bonus cheque, meeting your target or anything else financial). So even if you are struggling, push it as far to the back of your mind as you can and concentrate on helping your customer.

You don’t look professional

OK, we are not all supermodels, but can you honestly say you project the right image for whatever it is that you are selling? By the way, you don’t necessarily have to turn up in a suit and tie – if you are in an office environment, then that is fine, but you should dress appropriately for the thing you do. I go to a lot of networking meetings, full of serious businesspeople and all of them dressed differently. But the constant? Even the people who work in the more manual type of organisations can always manage to look professional. Clean, neat, tidy. See – it’s not so hard is it?

You promise everything

Seriously, the chances of you being able to give every customer every thing they need is small, so don’t feel pressured to say ‘yes’ to each request – if you do that and then the customer wants it, you are going to be in big trouble further down the line.  It is better to be honest (or perhaps sell them an upgraded package with the ‘thing’ they want for more money!). It might not be easy, but a lot of sales is about compromise anyway – just give them all the facts and keep mentioning the benefits of your solution. If you do your job well, there is a good chance you will get the sale anyway. Better than a false sale followed by a refund!

You don’t take notes

This is about two things:

  1. Listening carefully and paying attention to the person who has been kind enough to grant you some of their time. This is respectful. There is a phrase ‘people buy from people’ and one of the building blocks of a good relationship with customers is the ability to listen and understand.
  2. Ensuring that you don’t forget important details and, because you have written down key points, you can summarise and check your understanding. This is professional and it reassures the customer because it shows that you are less likely to make mistakes with their precious money if they use you.

You are irritating

What does your voice sound like and what is your body language saying? Do you repeat things, tell boring anecdotes, take ages to get to the point, or make negative comments about other people? Now of course, we all think we are wonderfully interesting, but what if (shock horror) we are not as engaging as we think we are? Look out for signs that you are boring or irritating your customers. Yawning, loss of attention, or early conclusions to meetings are tell-tale signs that you are being less than captivating. Consider taking someone you trust out with you on a sales call to give you some constructive feedback and help you improve.

So with any luck you are not a desperate, unprofessional, “say yes to anything”, irritating salesperson with no notebook. However, if you are, perhaps you have a few things to work on!

Happy selling!

sales training USP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The surprisingly effective sales question you are probably not asking

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

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

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

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

“Why are you interested in working with us?”

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

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

See – very simple isn’t it?

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

This is important for several reasons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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