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Depending on when you are reading this, the Score More Sales Summer Sales Challenge is about to begin or it has begun already. No matter, you can get in on it at any point, although the sooner the better.

For some people the Summer months are for planning long weekends, outdoor barbeques, and trips to visit family and friends – or just to get away on vacation. Sales can dwindle over this time – but they don’t have to.

This is a leadership issue. It’s not your reps’ faults that they feel distracted during this time. I live in New England and Summer is big here – probably because the winters are so, well, wintery. This is our time to enjoy!

“The abilities of salespeople with goals is 32% greater than the abilities of salespeople without goals” – OMG research.

I propose that you can do both – have fun AND build sales. You need to mix it up and shake up the status quo a bit.

I’ve always been motivated during June, July, and August because of many childhood Summers spent with Summer reading programs at our local library. It was always exciting to sign up early and learn what the prizes would be (I love to win!) and what the format of the program was so that I could strategize and be successful. I would always have a fun break from school but also read a lot due to the program that kept me tracking my progress and accomplishing results.

Leaders – it’s on YOU to keep your team inspired over the Summer months.

If you have a Sales Engagement platform or gamification tool or other way to track sales activity – determine a 3 month program now. What would be an amazing reward?

Remember you have sellers who are extrinsically motivated that like dollar awards and actual prizes but you also have sellers who are intrinsically motivated and prefer time off to help a non-profit or who would prefer lunch with the CEO for example. Make sure your prizes get the attention of everyone on the team regardless of how they are motivated.

Let’s get started – share your program on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #SummerSalesInspiration and reach out if I can be of support!


Lori Richardson is President of Women Sales Pros and is working to see more women in sales and sales leadership in companies where there are male-majority sales teams. She is also Founder and CEO of Score More Sales.

The post Summer Sales Challenge Grows Revenues appeared first on WOMEN Sales Pros.

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In selling, the term “value added” has taken on a life of its own. This term has a variety of meanings and interpretations which is confusing for buyers and sellers alike. Here are just a few examples of what “value added” has meant in different industries:

  • We will throw in some extra features or upgrades at no additional cost.
  • We will wine and dine you, give you some baseball tickets, or invite you to our special event.
  • We will discount our price if you buy or sign before a certain deadline.
  • We will make you an exclusive, premium or featured partner to market your own business.
  • We will offer expertise in consultation or design to improve customer satisfaction.
  • We will finance your purchase or extend favorable credit terms.
  • We will bundle together services to create convenient, one-stop shopping.

Within these examples, you can identify free and low-cost add-ons as well as extra that might actually increase cost but improve quality, convenience or benefits to the customer.

Within all these examples, however, there is an important value-added component that is missing. The untapped potential of this missing value-added offering far exceeds any of the examples given – both for the buyer and for the seller. That missing piece, the single greatest way that a buyer could have true added value, is… YOU, the seller.

How can you (not your company, not your product, but YOU) add value to your customers? I can think of at least five ways:

  1. You can help the customer sort through a mind-numbing number of options, variables, and decisions related to ordering your product.  To add value, you’d do this in a way that saves time because you know your customer and your own products well enough to make well-reasoned suggestions and to anticipate future needs.
  2. You can ask questions that make your customer think strategically. You add value to the conversation when you ask thought-provoking questions that help your customer plan long-term and think beyond a single transaction.
  3. You can offer relevant, timely suggestions about new products or services. They will be relevant and timely because you’ll have taken the time to understand your customer’s needs. You won’t be wasting their time with generic pitches.
  4. You can demonstrate professionalism, integrity and genuine interest in every interaction with your customer. When your customer knows that you are trustworthy, it adds value to the equation by easing their apprehension that a slick seller will take advantage of them.
  5. You can follow up on the customer’s order to make sure that it makes its way through your internal processes and is delivered on time and as ordered. Knowing that you are there and able to troubleshoot and follow through on the order gives your customer peace of mind

Sellers and their companies don’t always take these steps, mainly because they feel that this is an inefficient way of doing business. Sellers tell me they don’t have time to spend learning about customer needs or babysitting orders that have been placed. In my observations, the reason these sellers don’t have time is that they are spending a lot of time looking for new business and cleaning up preventable messes. The old saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” applies here. So why not spend time taking exceptionally good care of the customers you already have, creating value by serving them well?

For companies with sellers who add value, there is strong competitive differentiation and marked customer loyalty. In a time when it is increasingly difficult to have a truly unique product and to sustain it at a truly competitive price, the greatest advantage a company can have is its people. Buyers choose sellers that add value, and smart companies are responding accordingly.

Recent research reveals that buyers expect, even demand, more from sellers than ever before. The “Challenger Selling” approach advises that sellers simply must be prepared to continually educate and challenge their customers with new ideas. Customers want sellers who partner with them by helping them explore and see new ways to improve their effectiveness.

In other words, buyers are telling sellers exactly what they want to see as an added value.

Unfortunately, many sellers are missing the mark. They resist learning about a customer’s needs, feel uncomfortable asking questions that would help them learn about the business, refuse to challenge a customer, and wonder why the seller isn’t more receptive to impersonal “value added” offers.

In response, buyers are finding ways to distance themselves from sellers who don’t choose to partner with them. Wal-Mart, for example, asks its suppliers to completely eliminate the seller role and allow them to order directly. They’ve asked suppliers to apply what would have been sales commission to the savings they extend to Wal-Mart. For them, the value of working with a seller just didn’t add up.

As buyers, you may be doing the same thing – avoiding sellers while you shop online, for example. The reason is simple. Your time is precious, and you don’t want to waste it on a seller who will not add value for you and about you.

Sellers can add tremendous value. Or they can become irrelevant, annoying and unnecessary. It’s a matter of choice that each company and every seller should consciously make. And soon.    

Deb Calvert, President of People First Productivity Solutions, is a Top 50 Sales Influencer who’s championing the movement to Step Selling & Start Leading. Deb provides consulting, training and coaching for companies aiming to improve their sales, leadership and team connections.

The post You Are the Ultimate in Added Value appeared first on WOMEN Sales Pros.

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Lauren Bailey, President of Girls Club, asked me to deliver the closing keynote at their first annual conference. This presented a challenge for me.

I teach sellers how to sell stuff…Now, I’m being asked to “tell my story” and share the failures and successes that got me where I am today.  I had to be vulnerable and reflect rather than share my competence.

We spend a lot of time thinking and strategizing, but not nearly enough reflecting on why we do what we do, and how we might proceed with more honesty and clarity. We gather data and recipes for success. But information alone is never enough. Knowledge without wisdom leads to action without purpose.

Upon much reflection, I shared three principles that have shaped my success over years.  

1) Forced Optimism

We can either look for what’s right, or we can look for what’s missing in our lives. When I focus on what’s working rather than what’s lacking, my confidence and my success grow exponentially.

You’ve heard the expression, “Do you see the glass as half-empty or half-full?” Top performers see their glass as overflowing. The best sellers not only look for reasons their qualified customers will purchase; they’re dumbfounded when they don’t.

This idea is even more critical when leading others. According to a new article in Harvard Business Review, The Feedback Fallacy, “Focusing people on their shortcomings or gaps doesn’t enable learning, it impairs it.”

2) Relentless Tenacity

Ross Perot once said, “No doesn’t mean no — just ‘not now’.” When I started my training company in 1997, I set out to see how many no’s I could get, knowing that after a certain amount of them, I would hear a yes. I called every prospect I could and reframed feelings of embarrassment and self -doubt when they rejected my offer.

I offered free training if the CEO would sit in, and even sent a pizza with a poem to a prospect who wouldn’t return my calls. Once you change your mindset regarding the word “No,” you’ll change your life.

https://youtu.be/No86NeIplys

Relentless tenacity also means giving each customer your very best.

When asked why he gave his all, even in statistically meaningless games, Joe DiMaggio responded: “There’s always a kid who came to the game to see me play for the first time, He deserves to see me give my all.”

Every audience deserves your best performance.

3) Compassionate Prioritization

I used to be “that woman.” I was the dedicated, childless executive who admonished other parents who requested time off to be with their families.

“What do you mean you don’t work on Christmas Eve?”

“A school play, what’s the big deal? Don’t they film them these days?”

What I learned over time is that unless we are true to every aspect of ourselves, we can never reach a sustained level of proficiency.  When people use the phrase work-life balance, most of them imagine a seesaw. This implies that work is something to be balanced against your life. But the opposite tends to be true. When we have fulfilling, purposeful work it radiates through our lives. And when we have secure, loving relationships, they emanate through our work.

The key to purposeful self-reflection is simply that we do it often. We act, we reflect on our actions, and we make small changes to our actions. What are your life principles? What are the guiding philosophies that determine your daily practices? Stop and reflect.

Shari Levitin helps sales teams bridge the gap between beating quota and selling with an authentic heartfelt approach. As the founder of the Shari Levitin Group, Shari has helped create over 1 billion dollars in increased revenue for companies in over 40 countries. Shari is the bestselling author of Heart and Sell: 10 Universal Truths Every Salesperson Needs to Know, a contributor to Forbes, CEO Magazine,and Huffington Post.

The post The key to your success may be less thinking appeared first on WOMEN Sales Pros.

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I can’t tell you how many times people tell me they “could never” be in sales. When I ask why, I get vague answers about not liking to sell or not being good at it. Eventually, when I bring it up, they’ll agree that one of the big issues is, they couldn’t handle the rejection.

Most people’s default in life and in their business is to avoid having people say ‘no’ to them at all costs. No one likes to be rejected but the results of this mindset are lost opportunities, reduced business, and a shrinking comfort zone. We must change how we handle rejection in order to lead more successful and happier lives.

I teach two major ways to stop taking rejection personally.

The first is to reframe the focus of the rejection. Understand that rejection is never personal even if it’s about you.Picture this: a woman is walking down the street in a white dress covered with large red cherries wearing a giant red hat, too. You and I are walking past her, and you tell her, “I love your outfit!” Of course, she seems happy to hear that. I say, “I think your outfit is horrible.” I imagine she’d be offended and maybe hurt. It’s not a nice thing to say for sure but here’s the question: which one of us is correct? Me? Or you?

The answer is, neither. There is no right or wrong – just our opinions based on our own beliefs and past experiences. To achieve real freedom, this woman should not take either of our comments personally. The positive and the negative. While they are made about her, they reflect who we are, not her.

When you hear people say things and instead of internalizing them,remember everything being said is a reflection of who they are and not who you are. It takes practice but you can reach a much more effective state of mind when you do. As you can imagine, this works in selling, leading a team, and everything in between.

And this brings me to the second way to stop taking rejection personally which is to maintain a level of emotional detachment.

Sales professionals are best served when they remain detached from the emotional reaction when getting a yes or a no. It’s easy to fall into the trap of looking for validation from prospects or customers about your company, your product, and even about you.

Unfortunately doing so can send you on emotional rollercoaster – with constant ups and downs – which is hard to get off. I’ve been guilty of this and it requires mindfulness to avoid doing it. Yeses and no’s happen all day long in sales. A yes doesn’t mean you’re a sales genius and a no doesn’t mean you’re a total failure. Look at each objectively and take the next step forward, avoiding “reading” into what either answer means about you.

Practice developing these two mindsets simultaneously and you will find yourself enjoying a new level of personal emotional freedom which will translate into better results in every area of your life!

Andrea Waltz is the co-founder of Courage Crafters, Inc. and co-author of the best-selling book, Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There, a short, powerful fable for organizations and sales professionals of any kind who must overcome fears of failure and rejection to be successful. For more NOtivation from Andrea, visit www.GoforNo.com

The post How to Stop Taking Rejection Personally appeared first on WOMEN Sales Pros.

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Ask sales managers what they look for in a salesperson and inevitably one of the top three responses is some variation of enthusiasm, passion, or energy. But can enthusiasm be a liability?

In a coaching session with a junior sales rep this morning, I was role-playing the client and the rep was playing herself on a sales call to a major account. After “Hello,” I, as the “client,” thought a tornado had suddenly entered the room. She-was-SO-happy-to-see-me-and-had-SO-MANY-WONDERFUL-ideas-for-me-and-what-she-wanted-to-do-was-to-share-these-FABULOUS-ideas-to-help-my-business-and-ask-me-JUST-a-few-questions-so-that-we-could-see-how-we-could-PARTNER-together-and-was-that-okay-and-let-me-give-you-an-overview-of-what-we-do… Whoa!

Slow Down. You Move Too Fast. (Thank you, Simon & Garfunkel)

The first challenge in a client meeting is make the client feel comfortable and interested in talking to you. Assaulting him/her immediately with unbridled enthusiasm, often accompanied by a too-fast pace and a lot of self-serving comments, is rarely a good strategy. You will be far more successful speaking initially in an upbeat, but calm, businesslike manner as you go through:

  1. Greetings
  2. Stating the reason for your call based on homework you have done
  3. Laying out a suggested agenda for the conversation that includes appropriate next steps and
  4. Getting agreement to that agenda
 Lights! Camera! Enthusiasm!

After agreement to the above and a brief discussion about their situation, when it is time to explain how you can help them, then, by all means, let the passion rip! Enthusiasm means “to catch fire” and that is exactly what you want your client to do during your presentations: get excited about what you are offering. Just remember, timing is everything.

If your success depends on selling, presenting, or public speaking, reach out to Anne Miller, Sales & Presentation Pro to achieve the results you want.  Junior rep or CEO, Anne has worked with them all from Dubai to Denver. Check out her remote coaching service for help when and wherever you need it. Get sales cult  book “The Tall Lady with the Iceberg: how to use the power of metaphor to sell, persuade or explain anything to anyone.”

The post You Lost Me at “Hello” appeared first on WOMEN Sales Pros.

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By the time two parties to a negotiation are sitting across the table from each other, the negotiation
may already be over. If you didn’t plan ahead, chances are that you’ve walked in to a fait accompli, a
done deal, a ship that’s already sailed. If the other party has prepared in these ten ways and you have
not, then you’re at an extreme disadvantage. It’s unlikely that you can recover from this inferior
preparation. But there’s always the next time.

Here are the ten ways to prepare so that you don’t find yourself in those dire straits. When you prepare
in these ten ways, it will be the other guy – not you – who is left behind.

1. Ask questions before it’s time to negotiate.

If you wait until the negotiation begins, you’re going to get answers that are intentionally
limited. During the negotiation, people withhold information. Before a negotiation, ideally in a
non-threatening needs assessment, learn all you can about what the buyer values and what
alternatives the buyer has to doing business with you.

2. Know what the other party values.

It’s absolutely critical to understand what the other party values. Don’t make assumptions.
Different people value different things at different stages in their lives. What mattered in the
last round of negotiating may not matter as much this time. Do your research, ask questions,
test the waters to probe and suss out what matters most to the other party.

3. Be prepared to anchor what matters most to you.

Do internal research, too, to determine what matters most to others in your own organization.
When you know what the terms need to be, you will be in a position to make the first offer and
anchor any counter-offers that follow. For the most important terms of the agreement, it is
usually better to make the first offer.

4. Consider how to manage urgency in your favor.

Time pressure can work against you in a negotiation. If you have a tight deadline, chances are
good that you will make overly-generous compromises just to get a deal done. Preparing ahead
of time means you can start the negotiation sooner and avoid letting the other party run the
clock down so that you will cave in to the time pressure. To manage the feeling of urgency,
attach terms to the deadline – a percentage increase, for example, that expires or a range of
selection that is only available for a limited time.

5. Know your own position and interests.

Your position is what you want to achieve in the negotiation. Your interests are the underlying
motivations, the reasons why you’ve assumed this position. You need to know both so that you

don’t miss an alternate solution that fully satisfies your interests even if it does not quite match
the position you assumed. That may be okay, and it will give you significantly more flexibility if
you have the “whys” in mind.

Likewise, it helps to know the position and interests of the other party. If you haven’t been able
to determine this ahead of the negotiation, be sure to ask “why does this matter?” questions
throughout the negotiation.

6. Build in a few giveaways and concessions.

If you plan ahead, you can include a few terms in your initial offer that you know are
expendable. This is called “log rolling,” and it’s a common practice in negotiating. When you
plan ahead, you can avoid being pressured into trimming something that was vitally important.
Instead, you’ve added some fat that can be trimmed without taking away from what really
matters to you.

Think, too, about equivalent concessions. Unlike log rolling which amounts to giveaways,
concessions are framed as if/then trade-offs. You’d pre-plan for these, for example, by
considering what you’d ask in return for expected add ons that the other party might request.

7. Frame the conversation so you set the scope of the negotiation.
Before the negotiation, frame it up so that you’ve set and communicated what the scope of the
conversation will be. Open the negotiation by reiterating what you’ve already outlined. This is a
little like setting the agenda for a meeting. It sets boundaries for what is on the table and what is
off the table.

8. Know your own BATNA and the other party’s, too.

BATNA stands for “Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.” Your BATNA is your back-up,
your Plan B or second-best plan. It is important to know this before you walk into a negotiation.
A strong BATNA means you have a good back-up plan, another customer who can and will come
close to the terms you’re attempting to win here. A weak BATNA or no BATNA puts you in the
undesirable position of really needing this particular deal. You would, of course, make different
decisions in a negotiation based on how strong or weak your own BATNA is.

Learning the other party’s BATNA is also helpful. If they have a strong alternative to doing
business with you, you’ll know that you need to weaken their perception of that alternative
and/or include deal sweeteners to widen the gap between doing business with you and with the
alternative. If they have a weak BATNA, you’ll know that you can hold fast to the terms you’ve
set.

9. Determine your walk-away point.

Rather than making decisions like this in the heat of the moment, plan ahead and set
parameters that you will stick to for where to start and where to end the negotiation. At a
minimum, pre-determine your walk-away or reservation point. As a seller, this is the minimum
price you’d accept or the minimum contract term. As a buyer, it would be the maximum price

you’d be willing to pay or the maximum contract term you’d agree to. This is your walk-away
point because if the terms exceed it, you will walk away from the negotiation. No deal.

10. Know who will do what during the negotiation.
When you will be joined by others from your company for the negotiation, plan ahead for who
will do what. Will there be a good cop/bad cop dynamic? Who is the final approver of terms?
Who fields questions? Who will make the initial offer to anchor the conversation? You’ll also
want to be sure that everyone on your side of the table is informed and in agreement about the
other nine preparation steps on this list. And, just to be sure you stay aligned, set up a signal so
you can call a time out and regroup as needed.

With these ten steps, you will be prepared and confident walking into any negotiation.

Deb Calvert, President of People First Productivity Solutions, is a Top 50 Sales Influencer who’s championing the movement to Step Selling & Start Leading. Deb provides consulting, training and coaching for companies aiming to improve their sales, leadership and team connections.

The post Ten Ways to Prepare for a Tough Negotiation appeared first on WOMEN Sales Pros.

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Every week, someone asks me (at least once) about a specific situation a woman has had in the workplace – usually on a sales team – either to get some advice, tell what happened, or simply to share in a safe space about an incident involving them or someone they know.

I’m happy to be a sounding board and while I have some solid opinions based on 30+ years in sales in male majority workplaces,  I’m aware that I don’t have all the answers.

It was great to see that Lean In came out with activity cards and short videos, 50 Ways to Fight Bias which highlights 50 specific examples of gender bias in the workplace. It also offers recommendations which are research-backed (and references the research) to help everyone better understand what to say or how to react when they see, hear, or say something in the workplace that seems inappropriate, biased, or just feels wrong. Check out the intro video for more information.

You can learn about five DIFFERENT types of gender bias (did you know there were 5 types?)

Performance Bias

Attribution Bias

Likeability Bias

Maternal Bias

Affinity Bias

There are also women who can face double (or triple) discrimination due to race, age, a disability or other aspects of their identity in addition to identifying as female.

I will be talking about each form of gender bias in future posts.

Randomly pulling out cards from the deck, I found one very real situation –

“A woman suggests an idea in a meeting and it falls flat. A few minutes later, a mam suggests the SAME idea and gets an enthusiastic reaction” –

What to do – You can remind everyone that the idea originated with your woman colleague: “I think [NAME] made that point a few moments ago. I like this direction.” Advocating for women coworkers in this way can help them get noticed for their contributions – and it can also position you as a leader.

WHY IT HAPPENS

Rooted in Attribution Bias

Because we tend to underestimate women’s performance and overestimate men’s, we often don’t give women as much credit for their ideas. This can play out in meetings. The team doesn’t “hear” an idea when a woman raises it, but when a man says the same thing, they pay attention. [Heilman and Hayes, “No Credit Where Credit is Due”]

That is just one of the fifty cards, above. Watch for more on this topic and in the meantime, check out the video referenced above, or buy the cards from LeanIn.org

Lori Richardson is President of Women Sales Pros and can be reached for speaking, consulting, and writing about more women in sales and sales leadership roles.  #WomenInSales

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When it comes to mastering the art of sales, sometimes it can be more important to understand
what not to do when trying to get the sale. Sales is one business where you cannot fake
success. Your numbers, your goals and your bottom line results will always reveal your sales
skills or lack there of!

You can learn a lot from watching what sales professionals do to get the sale, but even more so
from what they don’t do. You’ll learn what not to do so you don’t lose the deal.

Here are six must-know things to have at the top of your “no do” sales list:

Mistake # 1 Focus On The Market Vs Customer – understanding your best and most
profitable markets is just the first step in achieving your sales goal To sell more you have to
stop focusing so much on the market, and focus more in the individual customer. Within every
market, every target that you choose to sell are customers that will be great to do business
with, and customers that won’t be so great to do business with. You need to invest the time
and understand the difference.

It is a sales mistake to just focus on a market, and call on any and all customers in that market.
Finding those customers that fit your niche, you enjoy working with, and are most likely to buy
your products is your best strategy for selling more and closing more deals. You have to focus
on the right customer vs focusing on the right market.

Mistake # 2 Forget About Digital – the majority of your customers are right now, at this
moment, while you are reading this article, they are online getting information, learning about a
new piece of machinery, or googling for product details and ideas. If your website, if your
name, or information about your products and services is not popping up, then you are already
behind the sale. In today’s marketplace you cannot forget about Digital. To sell successfully
into any market you have to not forget about digital. You need a great website, a strong blog,
and an active social media presence. Remember your future customers will look for you online
before they meet you in person.

Mistake #3 Don’t Implement the Pareto Principle – This rule is true in most areas of life,
and especially when it comes to sales. The Pareto Principle is the old 80/20 rule. Eighty percent
of your business will come from 20 percent of your top clients. If you want to increase your
sales, then stop trying to treat all your customers the same. Get a solid understanding of who
your top twenty customer’s are, and put more of your time and attention there. It is a mistake
to forget to take great care of your top clients, and to forget to implement the Pareto Principle.

Mistake #4 Gloss Over The Small Opportunities – selling is a long-game, it takes time to
establish trust, build relationships and get good at proactively recognizing and understanding
your customer’s need. And while looking for the big opportunities, or the large sales is always
top of mind, you have to remember not to gloss over the small opportunities. Just getting in
the door, or making a small sale is a start, and if you treat every small opportunity as a step in
the right direction, then you will be well on your way to surpassing your sales goals..

Mistake #5 Never Give Up – here is a news flash not everyone wants to do business with
you, and here is another news flash, you don’t want to do business with everyone. Sometimes
the best sales strategy you can have when selling into manufacturing is to give up. Because
trying like crazy to make a sale to a difficult customer is time spent away from calling on better
prospects.

Mistake #6 Keep Talking – and last but not least, and probably most important is the worst
thing a manufacturing sales rep can do is to keep talking. Listening is one of the most valuable
sales skills we have, and the only way to listen is to actually just stop stalking.
When it comes to sales you can learn a lot from observing what works, but you can learn so
much more from paying attention to sales people who struggle to win a sale or to do a quick
review when a sale you were working on goes south!

High energy and highly interactive, Business Growth Strategist Meridith Elliott Powell’s keynotesworkshops and innovative coaching programs help leaders and business owners learn the new rules of success today, including how today’s economy has changed, how that has changed today’s customers and employees, and specifically how that impacts your business.

The post Six Sales Mistakes Guaranteed To Kill The Sale appeared first on WOMEN Sales Pros.

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Every January 1st brings with it a new round of resolutions, both personal and professional. You’ve made it through the first week of the year and your goals are hanging there. You may be feeling as if you’re already behind, or you’ve missed them already.

For me, the first week went by in a blur. One of my personal resolutions was to post a new article to our blog every week to keep you current on what we’re finding is working in sales and marketing. And here I am, 11 days into the year, and late already.

So do you give up? After only 11 days?

Sales can feel the same way. You set a bright, shiny optimistic goal, thinking that this year you really can exceed your quota by 20%, or earn 15% more than last year. You’re going to get out there, talk to more prospects, and win more clients.

By the end of January, you’re discouraged because it’s the same old story. Prospects are too busy to take your calls. December’s proposals are still lingering. Your pipeline is going stale. Your boss is standing over you – or if you’re the boss, you’re glaring at yourself in the mirror.

Okay. Enough of that. We aren’t going there this year.

Rather than set a lofty sales goal then wait for the power of positive thinking or The Secret to deliver, let’s do something different. Let’s set ourselves up for sales success now, when we still have 354 days left in the year.

Your revenue goal is a destination. Like any destination, you can get there with a sales plan. You can even get there early with a plan.

Consider what your sales plan should be. Here are 10 actions that will help you achieve your sales goal faster:

  1. Measure your sales activities. You’ve probably heard that which gets measured, improves. It’s true. Choose 3 metrics and monitor them closely all year. Consider measuring your prospecting time, number of new appointments, appointments that convert, proposals delivered, to name a few. Then see how you can improve them.
  2. Monitor your pipeline. I look at my pipeline every day. I get nervous if it’s low and that motivates me. The rule of thumb is to maintain 3 times your quota in your pipeline at all times. Watch your pipeline to see where you need to focus to stay on track.
  3. Improve your close rate. The better your close rate, the fewer new leads you need and the faster you’ll reach your sales goal. If yours is less than 50%, look for ways to improve it.

  4. Reduce the length of your sales process. Perhaps the fastest way to do this is to qualify opportunities consistently through the sales process, and to follow up more frequently. You’ll spend less time on opportunities that aren’t real.

  5. Increase your average sale. A simple strategy is to give your prospect something extra in their proposal. Include one additional item or a second option that you think they’d find valuable based on their issue.

  6. Align with people who can bring leads. Review your LinkedIn connections and make a list of all the people who interact with your potential prospects and network with them. Create your own leads group.

  7. Ask for more referrals. Referrals are the easiest way to get more business, yet the most frequently ignored prospecting strategy. Set a goal for yourself to ask for 2 referrals a week. That’s a pretty easy goal to achieve.

  8. Don’t accept the first “no.” Too many sales people have lost their persistence. Stay fully engaged until you get a definitive “no thank-you.” Then set an activity to check in with the contact again next quarter.

  9. Prospect consistently. Regardless of your sales role, you need new opportunities. Schedule time every week to prospect and don’t allow anything to keep you from it. Following up on marketing qualified leads, prospecting in a large account, and drop-by cold calling all count.

  10. Have fun. Life is too short not to, and the more fun you’re having, the more your prospects and clients will want to work with you. If it’s not fun, step back and examine #1-9 and figure out what’s not working.

No matter how much time you have left in the year, these actions give you the sales plan to make your goal. Go for it!

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the award winning books “The Sales Magnet” and “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.

The post 10 Ways to Achieve Your Sales Goals Faster appeared first on WOMEN Sales Pros.

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There are, of course, right ways and wrong ways to respond to buyer objections. This blog post doesn’t go into that. Instead, this post focuses on a fundamental first step that most sellers forget when responding to an objection.

Unless you take this critical step, no response to the objection will really be adequate. You’ll lost valuable time and blow “hot air” no matter how eloquent and technically correct your response may be.

The critical, imperative, absolutely essential first step in addressing an objection is to be sure you are dealing with the REAL objection.

You know how this works. When we are buyers, we know it’s expected of us to offer an objection. If we don’t, we look like a pushover. That’s why we have pre-conditioned responses. Like when you walk into a furniture store and the salesperson says “Hi. May I help you?” And you automatically say “No thanks, just looking.” Then, just a few moments later, you are actively looking for the salesperson because you did have questions and need some help after all.

This pre-conditioning and societal role expectation also compels us to complain about or ask about price when buying a car or any other item with a price that might be negotiable. We do this even when we would, actually, be perfectly willing to pay the full price. Then we get all bollixed up in an internal struggle (I would have paid full price, but I don’t want to let the seller know that, so now that they aren’t working with me should I still buy it or should I teach ‘em a lesson?).

In addition to that automated response which isn’t an objection at all until the seller treats it as such, there is another situation when buyers offer something other than their real objection. It’s a smokescreen objection, meant to deflect attention from the real objection.

Why do buyers offer smokescreen objections? At times they do this because they are embarrassed to share the real reason. Maybe they’ve had a financial setback but choose not to talk about that. Perhaps they simply aren’t comfortable with change but prefer not to seem change-resistant. Or maybe they have a standby objection that works well with other sellers, so it’s the one they use as a first line of defense – budget constraint objections are frequently effective at turning away sellers, for example.

When sellers go to great lengths to overcome automated or smokescreen objections, they miss the mark. They accidentally leave the impression that what the buyer said (and didn’t even mean!) has some validity and should be taken seriously. Worse yet, the real objection remains unanswered and now has this additional layer that a seller has added by dignifying the throwaway objection with a response.

A much more efficient and effective approach is to find out whether or not you’re dealing with a true objection. This requires some restraint. As a seller, you just naturally want to jump to the defense of your product or price. When you hear an objection, your adrenaline kicks in and can easily carry you away to reciting facts, figures and arguments to refute the objection.

To use this approach, you’ll have to put a lid on your response. You can come back to it when you know you’ve got the real objection.

There’s only one way to find out for certain if you have the real objection or not. What you have to do is state the opposite. You have to do this very narrowly in order to use this as a screening process for testing the realness of the objection. Check out these three examples to see how it works:

Buyer: “No, I already have a contract with your competitor.”

Seller: “If you did not have a contract with my competitor, would you buy from me today?”

Buyer: “No, I didn’t get on-time delivery the last time I ordered from your company.”

Seller: “If you had received your delivery on time, would you then be placing an order with me today?”

Buyer: “No, it’s not really the right season for us to be stocking up.”

Seller: “If it were the right season for you to stock up, would you accept the proposal I’ve offered?”

Note how each response is only stating the opposite. There is no way to change the past, and that’s not the point. This is not about offering a solution, an apology, a justification or an explanation. The sole objective of asking this question with the opposite condition expressed is to find out whether or not this objection (and only this objection) is what’s really preventing the buyer from buying today.

With each of these questions, you’ll hear one of two responses.

If you hear an affirmative response that sounds like “Well, yes, I suppose if he hadn’t had delivery issues we’d still be doing business with you,” then you proceed to respond to the objection. You now know it is the real objection. You won’t be wasting time by focusing here since it turns out to be the real, true and only barrier left standing.

If, however, the response is negative, you will likely uncover the real objection. The response will sound something like this “No, I wouldn’t go back to doing business with you because I’m saving 20% by doing business with the ABC Company.” Now you have the real objection, and that’s the one you need to respond to with all your might.

This is really pretty simple. But there are two more things you should know as you prepare to use this technique.

The first one is to remember that most objections are based on something subjective. In the examples above, we dealt with fact-based objections. When you run into an objection based on opinion, there’s a word you need to add when you state the opposite question. Take a look at these examples:

Buyer: Your prices are just too high.

Seller: If you didn’t feel our prices were too high, would you proceed with this plan today?

Buyer: Your service is not satisfactory.

Seller: If you didn’t feel our service was unsatisfactory, would you be doing business with us?

Buyer: I’m comfortable with our current vendor.

Seller: If you didn’t feel comfortable with your current vendor, would you consider our solution?

Because these are subjective, the addition of the word “feel” is important. It keeps your response with the opposite from sounding like a promise or solution. You wouldn’t want to say “If our prices weren’t too high would you buy from us today?” because it sounds like you are agreeing that your prices are too high and that you’re going to offer a price reduction. Instead, you want to deal with the feelings related to your price, so you position your statement accordingly.

The final nuance to consider is that you are not offering a solution. So you need to word your opposite question narrowly and make sure it include the word “you” instead of the words “I” or “we.” Saying “If you had received delivery on time” is not the same as saying “If I could assure you of on-time delivery.” The second statement goes toward the solution without first making sure this is the real objection.

To use this technique effectively, keep a narrow focus on simply stating the opposite. Your sole goal with this one step is to determine whether or not you’ve got a real objection.

Deb Calvert, President of People First Productivity Solutions, is a Top 50 Sales Influencer who’s championing the movement to Step Selling & Start Leading. Deb provides consulting, training and coaching for companies aiming to improve their sales, leadership and team connections.

The post Before You Respond, Make Sure You’ve Got the REAL Objection appeared first on WOMEN Sales Pros.

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