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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

It’s not MAN anymore – it’s FAN

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I’m subsituting MAN for FAN because it’s time to move with the times!

Those of you in sales will be very familiar with the acronym MAN as standing for:

Money

Authority

Need

(in other words, a simple way of identifying the best person to have a sales conversation with). So, it’s simple and it works, but of course the thing is, it’s MAN (i.e. not WOMAN or female or whatever you want to call it).

I’m sure it isn’t a deliberate thing, but there are undertones of ‘You’ve got to be a man to make the decision’. Now if you’re an [actual] man reading this, you might be thinking ‘what’s the fuss all about – it’s just an acronym?’ So, to all the women out there in sales, I bet there are a few of you who wish there was, well, just a better acronym.

Well my lovely clients on in a recent training session nailed it.

We had a conversation about MAN and they came up with ‘FAN’ ! It’s so simple:

Finance

Authority

Need

So obvious, so brilliant. So guess what I’m going to be using from now on!

Janet trains sales teams and provides one to one sales coaching to business owners who have got a bit stuck with their sales. For information about how to work with Janet, book a discovery call here


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

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

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!

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

biggest threats to your business

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

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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

Are you SWOT-ing enough?

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

That’s not bad grammar by the way – the eagle-eyed amongst you will realise I am referring to that wonderful tool The SWOT Analysis.

Although I predominantly deal with sales issues, when I am working one to one with a client, I like to take it back to basics so, along with reviewing their vision, mission and values, I do a SWOT with them. There is a good reason for this – many small business owners get so bogged down in the day to day they end up working “in” the business instead of “on” the business. In other words, they are failing to plan and implement strategically. That’s really important to address, because if I am putting together a bespoke sales training solution for someone, it’s a complete waste of everybody’s time if I end up doing something which is at best “not quite right” or at worst completely wrong for their corporate direction or which doesn’t match their values.

So I thought it would be a useful exercise to revisit SWOT and, for those of you who haven’t come across it before, explain why it is such a fabulous business tool.

The objective of a SWOT Analysis is to help you develop a strong business strategy. It makes sure that you have considered all of your business’s strengths and weaknesses and also the opportunities and threats from the wider world.

So Strengths and Weaknesses are internal and Opportunities and Threats are external to the business.

What you need to do is critically appraise where your business is and fill out a chart which should look something like this:

SWOT Analysis - tadpole training

You don’t need to be particularly detailed, in fact it’s best to approach this as a sort of brain storm – put down things as you think of them and tidy them up later. If you have a team, it can also be a good idea to get them involved too – not only will they contribute things you might not have thought of, but if you do later decide to implement something and they have had input, you are likely to get much more buy-in because they have a feeling of ownership.

Once you have completed all of these sections, you will have a very clear snapshot of exactly where your business is right now and then you can go through it again and prioritise according to the highest and lowest priority in each section.

When you have finished, you can use the information to develop long and short term strategies to drive your business forward. You should aim to capitalise on the strengths and opportunities and either minimise or avoid the weaknesses and threats.

Finally, none of this is any good unless you actually implement what you have created, so make sure you include any actions in your overall strategic plan. It is also a good idea to regularly revisit your SWOT as things will change. I tend to do it every quarter, but do what works for you.

If you have any questions about how you can use SWOT Analysis to help develop your strategic sales and marketing plan, then please drop me a line.

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