Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Selling in the year of the shrinking budget

1% of something is better than 100% of nothing

Have you or your team heard these a few times this year

  • We are holding off on this until the market picks up
  • This has been a tough year so we aren't spending
  • Our budget has been slashed
  • We'd love to go ahead but we wont be able to get the job approved
  • Can we postpone this purchase until next year?
  • We've got a freeze on non essential spending this year
To succeed in selling in 2009 you must develop strategies for dealing with these.

I'm not denying that some of these are not genuine.

A lot of the time you here these objections (lets call them excuses) because you have failed to sell in enough value.

I'd say get hungry and work hard to bring forward the purchase. The longer you leave it, the more likely it is you'll end up with nothing at all.

Do you really understand their needs?

Do you really understand their decision making process?

Do you understand their current process, issues, agendas, the roles of the people you are selling to?

As great sales people know you can normally predict (With about 90% accuracy) what a prospect will say when you are pitching to them.

Be prepared for the above by trying some of these:
  • " That's OK, lets process an order now and we will invoice you next quarter "
  • " Fine, lets break down the payments into bite size pieces"
  • " How much , realistically do you think you can access at this point in time?"
  • " What do you suggest is a way of bringing this purchase forward?"
  • " With what you have to spend, lets look at still providing you with a short term solution "
  • " Lets look at a solution that costs you 30% less and still can assist you"
  • "If you had the money, from what you've seen from me, what would you spend it on?"
Practice these responses at your next sales meeting. Modify them to suit your business.

Get hungry. As Billy Joel says, " Don't let a good thing slip away "

Sunday, August 23, 2009

You have to be cruel to be kind

Have you ever noticed that it’s the poor sales reps that cause you so many headaches?

13 of my favourite excuses from poor performing sales reps

Poor reps develop a pretty good list for why they are not hitting their numbers.

See if you recognise any of these:

1. Personal or family health issues
2. Our price is too high
3. The market has changed
4. The GFC has kicked in and people are holding off their purchasing decisions
5. Those customers are going through a restructure at the moment
6. It’s hard to get appointments at the moment, everyone’s too busy
7. The leads I’m getting from telesales / telemarketing are rubbish
8. The decision maker is not available every time I call
9. I’m waiting on marketing to provide me with more materials
10. I’m still waiting to hear back from them
11. I don’t want to hassle them
12. They are happy with who they currently use
13. This is a poor territory that hasn’t been properly looked after for a long, long time

4 groups you should spend more time with

I think the hardest decision you make as a sales manager each day is how to allocate your time.

Your NRG vampires will drain you. Spend a lot less time with them.

Remember the song by Nick Lowe – Cruel to be kind.

It may be cruel, but really aren’t you just being kind, if you ignore them.

You are helping them to accelerate their career development. Ideally working for your best competitor.

Hang them out to dry. If they really want to be successful they’ll lift.

If you spend too much time with them you’ll run out of NRG pretty quickly.

I suggest spend more time with these groups:

1. Your best performers – Convert them from Good to Great

2. Reps who have the right attitude, a willingness to learn, but may be lacking in the skills

3. Potential reps for your team – Go and have a coffee with someone you’d like to have joining your team

4. Your customers – ideally whilst you are out on the road, coaching your best reps and your emerging stars

So before you leave today, organise to double your coaching with your best 3 performers and half your coaching with your duds over the next month.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting back in front of your clients

Ruth set up over 100 appointments last month.

This is a great effort and shows what can be done when you get focused on what you want. She's also a credit to New Zealand. She beat all the Aussies she was up against.

She won a Borders voucher from NRG Solutions for being the best performer.

I love a good contest for sales people.

Ruth works as an area sales manager for adventure travel company Kumuka.

She knows she needs to be in front of as many of her clients as possible each week.

The challenge for Ruth and her team is when she calls to set up appointments , her clients often say

" There's no need to see me this month, we're OK at the moment ."

Like any great sales person you need to be creative to get back in front of your clients:

9 ideas for getting back in front of your clients

1. We have something new that I have to show you. It's amazing
2. I'd love your feedback on something
3. My turn to buy you lunch / coffee / breakfast
4. I have a referral opportunity for you we should discuss
5. I left my wallet in your office last week (the George Costanza technique)
6. I haven't met your new staff member yet and want to train them / show them
7. I want to discuss a joint promotion with you and get your thoughts about it
8. My new boss would like to meet you - He's single and very good looking
9. I'd like to do a proper price comparison with you, it's easier to explain this face to face

What's your best tactic for getting back in front of existing contacts?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sales Management

How much time are you spending searching for great people?
I went to a talk last week about leadership in business. The piece of content that really caught my ear was around great sales managers and what they are always doing.
The success of your business is all around getting the right people. We all know this, yet how much time are you spending working on finding them?
A couple of the key take aways for me were:
1. View recruitment as a process not a transaction. As a sales manager, you need to be constantly searching for great people. Find them, wine them and dine them. Stick with them. Let them know you want them on your team. Finding great people takes time. Build your network and allocate time for ongoing recruitment.
2. The poor performers (in sales) are always scanning the job ads. The good performers are not actively looking. You need to get active to get to them.
3. Build a culture that will attract great people to your team. If you think you have a great culture now, ask yourself why more people aren't ringing you up to join your team?
4. Keep coaching them once they come on board. The best way to keep your best people is to invest in them. Watch what happens to them as you invest your efforts in to them. The returns can be amazing.
Have a look here for some of my favourite questions an MD should be asking their sales managers.

Coaching speakers for conferences

The actor Michael Caine was once asked by Michael Parkinson who have been some of the toughest competitors he has faced throughout his career? His answer was:

" You don't compete with your peers, you only compete with yourself. You have to ask yourself did I do it better than last time?"

Nothing could be truer in the world of corporate speaking.

Earlier this week Melony and I completed our speaker coaching program for the Microsoft tech Ed speakers.

Webinar to kick off the coaching

The program kicked off a few weeks ago with a short sharp webinar for the speakers. This helped the speakers get a better understanding of how we can best assist them.

The webinar included content on:

Structuring a presentation

Handling questions

Telling effective stories

Maintaining audience engagement

Personal delivery skills

Building effective slides

As the coaches Mel and I needed to ensure that we allowed each individual to really fulfill their potential. Remove any roadblocks that may be restricting them as speakers.

What we asked the speakers to focus on:

There were a few key take away messages from the speaker coaching program this year. We really put the onus on the speakers to work hard at:

  • Using real stories from their own experiences to highlight their messages
  • Providing evidence or proof that their ideas will have traction
  • Inspiring their audiences to take the next step and find out more
  • Looking out for props to use to illustrate their points
  • Engaging their audience with a powerful hook and some compelling reasons to tune in
  • Thinking about the types of questions they could receive and preparing appropriate answers
  • Letting their natural style flow through their presentation
  • Packaging their content in an engaging and free flowing fashion
  • Having a clear and well thought out call to action or next steps
  • Using humour at appropriate times

Some of my thoughts on coaching

The more I coach experienced speakers the more I realise a lot of your success is about getting out of the way of the speaker.

Asking them a range of questions can help them to identify for themselves what would work best for them.

There is no right way or wrong way to deliver a presentation. You just have to ask yourself are you really giving it your best shot?

An effective coach will help a speaker to consider other options and provide effective and timely feedback to them.

One of the key skills in coaching speakers is in adapting your coaching style according to whom you are coaching.

The GROW coaching model

I like to use the GROW model in coaching sessions. In fact I love it.

This is a way of asking the coachee a series of questions.

G = Goal - What are you hoping to get out of this session?
R = Reality - Where are you placed at the moment?How much work have you already done?
O = Options - What are some options we should consider?
W = What next - What are the next steps between now and your presentation?

To get a better understanding of coaching please click here.

Click here to see my top 10 tips for delivering great presentations

One tip for better coaching

To become better at coaching you need to coach, a lot.

If there is one tip I could give to most coaches, it would be this.

" Ask more questions and listen more effectively "

As Michael Caine suggests the real battle for speakers is more with themselves than it is with their peers.