Thu, 07/30/2015

The customer is always right phrase has been tossed around the business world for years.  The intent of the phrase is good:  serve the client and exceed expectations.  The problem is that in our desire to serve and exceed expectations, we often don’t set clear expectations with clients to insure mutual success.   Great business relationships are built when both the vendor and customer accomplish goals. 

For example, how many of you have sold a product/service to a new customer and then find disaster hitting.  The deal is falling apart because the customer isn’t honoring commitments on their end of the agreement.   Information needed from the customer to move forward on a project is missing.  Key people from the client side aren’t attending meetings and deadlines are missed.   

In an effort to serve, your team puts on their tennis shoes and starts jumping through hoops to achieve the promises stated in the proposal and sales conversation.    They are trying hard but success is a two-way street and the goals can’t be accomplished without the client partnering with the vendor each step of the way.   

So what can you do to insure a successful launch of a new client?  Create an on-boarding process for new clients.  This process might include a hand-off meeting from the salesperson to the operations team or client services team.    During the hand-off meeting, apply the emotional intelligence skills of reality testing and assertiveness.  Discuss potential elephants (problems) that can jeopardize success such as:

  • Deadlines and needed information.  Get very clear on what your team needs in order to achieve milestones.  Discuss the uncomfortable.  Is the customer okay with changing a deadline if their team fails to supply necessary information in a timely manner?
  • People involvement.  Everyone is has busy schedules and so availability of personnel can be a predictable obstacle to success.  Talk about this potential problem---before it becomes a problem!   What’s the plan if key stakeholders can’t make it to a meeting?    How does their lack of participation affect goals and milestones? 

You get the idea.   Keep the intent of serving and exceeding client expectations.  Apply reality testing and assertiveness skills and set clear expectation for mutual success.   Remember, success is a two way street between a vendor and client doing what they said they would do. 

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, sales leadership, sales management, colleen stanley, Emotinal Intelligence
Thu, 07/23/2015

As many of you know, I am an avid reader and like to share great books with clients and colleagues.  My new favorite is Triggers by author and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith.  He shares a lot of great ideas and tools on how to be a more effective in both your professional and personal life.   

Here is one of my favorites tools shared in his book.    At the end of each day, ask yourself a series of “Did I do my best” questions to evaluate how you are showing up every day.   It’s an active question that gets to the heart of whether you’re showing up ‘all in’ or simply coasting through life.   

Here are a few questions to consider: 

  • Did I do my best to add value to every client interaction?
  • Did I do my best to invest time in pre-call planning to insure the meeting was valuable for the prospect and me?
  • Did I do my best to eliminate excuses and take personal accountability for my success?
  • Did I do my best to improve an emotional intelligence skill or hard selling skill?
  • Did I do my best to learn something that will add value to my work with clients?
  • Did I do my best to avoid the pull of instant gratification?
  • Did I do my best to be fully present in all conversations with colleagues, clients and prospects?
  • Did I do my best to recognize other people on my team for their contributions towards my success?
  • Did I do my best to be an effective leader and manager?
  • Did I do my best to run a great sales meeting? 

You get the idea.  Repetition is the key to mastery and this tool shared by Goldsmith is a winner.  Craft your questions and find an accountability partner to review your questions---and answers with each day.  Get started on doing your best every day!  

Good Selling!

 

tags: sales, consultative sales training, sales management, Sales Manager, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Thu, 07/16/2015

Emotional Intelligence skills are critical in achieving hard sales results. Well-intended sales managers often work on the wrong end of the problem when diagnosing sales performance challenges. They continue to teach and coach hard selling skills, which are important.  But if a salesperson has been taught selling skills and still is not executing the selling behaviors or skills, it’s time to look at coaching soft skills.

Assertiveness – the ability to state what you need -- is an important emotional intelligence skill needed to create win-win relationships. Salespeople lacking assertiveness turn into sales victims. They complain that prospects and customers taking advantage of them when in reality, they lack assertiveness. 

Budgets are one area of the sales process where lack of assertiveness creates poor sales outcomes.

Here’s the scenario. The salesperson is at the selling stage where they must discuss budgets. When the salesperson asks how much money the prospect has set aside for investment in his product or service, the prospect responds with a predictable answer.  “I have no idea. Just put something together.” 

The non-assertive salesperson goes along to get along.  He spends valuable time putting together a recommendation.  He sets up a meeting with the prospect and shares recommendations, only to hear, “That’s more than I wanted to invest.” 

The prospect obviously had a budget. The salesperson wasn’t assertive enough to uncover it. This salesperson just wasted valuable selling time on a prospect that wasn’t qualified to be in her pipeline.   

The first step in being more assertive is to raise your self-awareness.  Ask yourself this powerful question: What are you afraid of losing? In this case, the salesperson is afraid of losing a deal. He believes that if he asks about a range of investment, the deal will go away. So he goes along to get along.  And you know the end of the story. 

If you want to close more business in the second half of the year, work on your team’s assertiveness skills. Help team members to learn to share what is needed to create true win-win opportunities. 

Good selling!

tags: denver sales training, sales management training, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, sales
Thu, 07/9/2015

“Shark Tank” is a popular show where enterprising entrepreneurs showcase their products and services, with the goal of gaining an investor, strategic partner or both.    

I am surprised that so many entrepreneurs show up unprepared to meet and sell to the sharks.  The sharks are master negotiators.  They throw out counter offers and question the success of the product. More than one entrepreneur has become flustered, blowing his pitch or giving away too much of his/her company. 

We all run into sharks in the sales profession.  Here are some lessons from “Shark Tank” to apply on your next sales call.   

#1:  Emotion Management.  If you’re going to play with the sharks, it’s wise to improve your emotional intelligence skills. When the negotiation tactics begin, it’s easy to go into fight-or-flight mode. Nothing intelligent is landing in your brain or coming out of your mouth.      

Solution  – Normalize the interaction.  Good negotiators negotiate, so be prepared! Visualize the predictable responses from the sharks. Practice your responses in the mirror. It’s important that your nonverbal communication matches your verbal communication. Strong negotiators can spot a crack in the armor.   

#2:  Pre-pitch planning.  There is a basic principle taught in every negotiation course.  “If you can’t walk, you can’t talk.” Translation:  you have to know your walk-away point in any negotiation.  On a recent  “Shark Tank” episode,  a gentleman got so flustered that he conceded 10% more of his company than he needed to.   He wasn’t mentally prepped and certainly had not figured out his walk-away point. 

Solution – Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em, prior to walking into an appointment. 

#3. Be assertive and ask for what you need.  Negotiators typically use time pressure as a tactic. Again, this is predictable behavior from the sharks.  You have to make a decision right now or I am pulling the offer off the table. 

Solution -- There’s a pretty simple fix to eliminate this tactic. Be assertive and set expectations at the beginning of any negotiation. In the case of “Shark Tank,” entrepreneurs should politely inform the sharks that they are going to call on each shark to hear their opinion and possible offer.     

Are you ready for “Shark Tank”? Visualize and rehearse responses to predictable objections and negotiation tactics. Figure out your walk-away point.  Be assertive and ask for what you want. Remember: Sharks put on their pants, skirts and shoes the same way you do. 

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence
Wed, 07/1/2015

There is an old Chinese proverb, “Talk doesn’t cook rice.”  I laughed when I read this quote because it reminded me of how easy it is to fall into the trap of getting ready to get ready. 

For example, in the sales training business, I see a lot of salespeople getting ready to move from average selling and influence skills to great selling and influence skills.  Let me explain. 

If you’ve been in sales long enough, you know some of the predictable questions and/or objections you will hear from a prospect.  One of those predictable questions will be, “Tell me about your company?” 

This predictable question should be answered with a predictable answer:  a customized value proposition designed specifically for the buyer you are meeting with.  Instead, most salespeople answer with a value proposition focused on what they do, not problems they solve.  As a result, look and sound like their competitor.  The sales conversation moves to a transactional sale, not a value sale.  I.e. What’s your price?  

The salesperson walks out of the appointment or hangs up the phone and says to himself, “I really need to work on getting a better value proposition.”  Translation:  This salesperson is getting ready to get ready.   

Here are a couple of tips to help you start “cooking sales rice.” 

  • Make a decision.  Apply the emotional intelligence skills of reality testing and self- awareness.  Take action and stop talking.  Decide if you are going to be average or great.  If not, quit thinking and talking about what you’re going to do.  You are boring yourself and everyone around you.
  • Get an accountability partner.  Marshall Goldsmith, popular author and executive coach, pays his coach to call him every day and ask specific questions designed to keep him on track, moving forward on personal and professional goals. 

It’s halfway through the year.  Stop talking and take action because, “Talk doesn’t cook rice.”     

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, Sales Manager, sales management
Fri, 06/19/2015

At some point, all of us have walked out of an appointment or hung up the phone and said, “Wow that was a difficult meeting.” It’s easy to shift blame to the prospect. “Gee, she was having a bad day.” Or, “Guys like him don’t just don’t respect salespeople.”

The next time you encounter a tough prospect, own the outcome. Don’t complain about tough prospects. Be grateful for difficult prospects because they are your best teachers. Tough prospects elevate your selling skills, keeping you competitive.

Heck, you may even want to write difficult prospects a thank you note! Here is an example to get you started.

Dear Mr. Prospect:

Thanks for meeting with me this week. Your good questions and thought provoking questions made me realize my selling tools are in need of serious sharpening.

I wasn’t prepared for the meeting. I chose the ‘wing-it method’ and didn’t invest the appropriate time in pre-call planning. The questions and objections you asked aren’t new. However, without preparation, I stumbled on answers---which probably raised concerns in your mind about my company’s credibility and ability to execute.

Thanks for reminding me that I might be getting complacent. In this day and age of information, there is no reason not to be prepared for a sales meeting. If I had been better prepared, perhaps the meeting would have been more relevant and a second meeting would be on the calendar.

I also want to thank you because you made me realize might be taking my existing customers for granted. My complacency is rolling over into how I manage existing clients. You’ve motivated me to figure out new and better ways to WOW my customers. (I’ll be writing them a thank you note as well.)

Thanks again for a being a tough prospect. I will reach out next week and admit my less than perfect sales performance. If you give me an opportunity, I will show up prepared and ready to add value.

Best regards,

The self-aware and accountable salesperson

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence
Fri, 06/12/2015

Click on image above to watch video blog.

I’ve read the book Seabiscuit and watched the movie Secretariat.  Neither one of those things really puts me in a position to comment on horse racing.   However, I was intrigued by the media hype around the possibility of a potential Triple Crown winner, a feat that had not been accomplished in 37 years.  I watched the Belmont Stakes, along with thousands of other people, and cheered on the winner, American Pharoah.      

The interviews after the victory provided some great lessons.    The first came from listening to media interviews from the owner, trainer and jockey.  All three parties seemed reluctant to take any credit for winning the Triple Crown.  However, they were all consistent in giving one entity the credit:  the horse, American Pharoah.   

Lesson:  Give credit where credit is due.   The horse certainly couldn’t speak up, however, his entourage did so on his behalf.    

I love hearing the “back story” on all the people involved in these types of events.   For example, I learned that Bob Baffert, the trainer of American Pharoah, is the second oldest trainer to win a Triple Crown at the age of 62. 

Lesson:  You are never too old to show up, try and win.   Age doesn’t determine your ability to participate at intense, high levels. 

The jockey, Victor Espinoza also has a wonderful story.  The eleventh of twelve children, Victor grew up in Mexico herding goats, not riding horses.  He eventually moved to San Francisco with his brother and was overwhelmed trying to adapt to a new environment.  He adapted and went on to become a great jockey.

Lesson:  It’s not where you come from.  It’s where you end up.

A final lesson is that of generosity.  Victor Espinoza has always donated a portion of his winnings to the City of Hope, a California based cancer research and treatment center.   Winning the Belmont Stakes is no different.  He donated his entire winnings to the City of Hope.

Learn and apply the lessons from the Triple Crown.    Look around your office and give credit to peers and colleagues that deserve recognition for your success or the company’s success.  Quit using age as an excuse for not showing up and competing at a high level.    And stop worrying about where you came from.  Get busy creating a new and better ending to your personal and professional life.    

Good Selling!

Colleen Stanley

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Fri, 06/5/2015

The sales meeting is going well and then the curve ball, better known as an objection, is thrown out by the prospect.  Objections range from timing, we are satisfied with our current vendor or we’re not sure we need to change. 

When salespeople hear an objection, one of two selling behaviors usually occurs.  The first behavior is to overcome the objection.   Unfortunately, too many salespeople have been taught to overcome the objection---at least three times.  Now, that’s an annoying sales call.  Prospects learn to avoid bringing up potential concerns.   As a result, the salesperson can’t get a second meeting because the spoken or unspoken objection has not been discussed.    

The second selling behavior that occurs is panic.  Emotions take over the meeting and salespeople move into defend and justify mode.    The salesperson is now in that uncomfortable position of convincing rather than influencing.    

The best way to handle objections is to bring them up.  Every salesperson knows the objections he or she is going to hear from a prospect.   So why wait for your prospect to bring up the objection?  Bring up the objection and put yourself in the offensive position, not defensive position.   

Bringing up potential objections requires the emotional intelligence skill of empathy.   Successful salespeople step into their prospect’s shoes and see the world from their perspective.  For example, if a prospect was recently “burned” by the existing vendor, she might be worried about:   

  • Can your company really deliver?    
  • What is your level of service after the sale? 
  • Is it going to be worth the hassle of switching? 

A great way to demonstrate empathy and proactive objection handling is to say something like, “Joyce, I know you shared your existing vendor is falling short on delivery.  If I were sitting in your seat, I would be concerned on whether or not my firm is going to have some of the same issues.  Should we discuss that further?”   Or, “Joyce, if I were you, I would be concerned about the hassle factor of moving the business.  Should we discuss that?” 

Be real world and authentic.   Bring up objections.  Put yourself in a proactive position rather than a defensive position.  Your prospect really doesn’t want you to overcome the objection seven times. 

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, sales management
Fri, 05/29/2015

Michelle's post originally appeared on Rain Today.

You read all of the time about how people are busy and don't have the time or patience for long emails or long-winded phone conversations—that you need to get your point across quickly and get out.

That might be true. I know when I receive an email three or four paragraphs long, my first instinct is to delete it. But being succinct in your communication doesn't mean you can't make a personal connection. It's those personal connections that get people to take notice, start to trust you, and want to hear what you have to say. They get you past the email delete barrier and the automatic hang-up barrier.

It involves taking some risk, as Charles H. Green writes in his article Trust Takes Time—Not.

"There's no two ways around it: you have to take a risk if you ever want to create trust," he says. "The best kind of risk to take, on trying to get meetings with new clients, is a combination of credibility and intimacy."

For example, when trying to set a meeting via email, you want to mention personal connections—one of their blog posts, an idea for a future blog post, the person who referred you, etc.—and you want to take risks by hypothesizing their situation and leaving the decision to them.

When you take risks, you feel vulnerable. And that trait is a key factor in having successful sales conversations, says David Newman in his article 15 Dating Tips to Boost Your Sales Success. Other rules he follows include asking great questions, being a source of humor and fun, focusing on the other person, not talking too much, and being open.

Keep the Conversation Going

Similarly, Mark Goulston says you want to keep the person talking until they sell themselves on your solution. To do that, pay attention to adjectives and adverbs they use during conversation and invite them to expand on what they mean, he says in his podcast interview Talking with Customers Is Like Talking with Hostage Takers.

"So, when someone says, 'Oh, this is an amazing opportunity' or 'We have to do this quickly,' when they finish—even if they say, 'So, what do you think?'—you say, 'Well, say more about the amazing' or 'Say more about how you need to do this quickly,'" he says. "What you'll notice is they will go deeper and they will develop more emotion in the conversation."

During the conversation, you can also use phrases such as "Really" and "Mmm hmm" to encourage them to talk more and go deeper into the topic.

If you don't do that, Goulston warns, you're just like your competition. You're purely transactional, and you're missing an opportunity to get your customer to open up to you.

"What I suggest to people is get [your customers] to open up, focusing on adverbs, adjectives, hyperbole, and inflection. Have them speak more, so they're getting more off their chest, more in the conversation, and more wanting to hear from you," he says.

Communication Guidelines

If you have a team of sellers, you want to provide them with written guides, processes, and definitions to help them with their email and phone conversations with customers, writes Elisa Ciarametaro in her article 8 Factors for Building a Strong Inside Sales Pipeline. Reps should be instructed on the process created for them so they can perform their jobs efficiently.

Give them guides and scripts for phone calls and emails, and include success stories and qualifying questions that they can incorporate in their conversations, she says.

New sales reps should also learn from experienced reps. They can do this via informal discussions, such as lunch meetings, and by observing sales calls.

With the right tools, guidance, and practice, all of your sales reps can make personal connections with customers that improve conversations and lead to new business.

Michelle Davidson is Editor of RainToday. As such, she oversees all of the articles published on the website and publishes the weekly newsletter, the Rainmaker Report. She also produces the site's weekly podcast series, RainToday's Sales Tips & Techniques Podcast, and the site's webinars. You may contact her via email at mdavidson@raintoday.com and via Twitter at @michedav.

tags: sales, sales training
Fri, 05/22/2015

In the classic book, “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill introduced the importance of having a mastermind alliance.  He describes it as an alliance of two or more minds, blended in a spirit of perfect harmony and cooperating for the attainment of a definite purpose.   Sounds easy, right?  So why aren’t more sales professionals engaged in this powerful strategy of growing their sales?   

Salespeople often confuse a mastermind with a networking or leads group.  The definite purpose is different for these types of groups.  The purpose of a leads group is to create opportunities by providing warm introductions from each person’s network. 

A mastermind group’s definite purpose is to help fellow participants create new opportunities by bringing their unique talents and perspective to help you think about your business in a different way. 

For example, in my speaking mastermind group, there is a variety of brilliance in the group.  One person is really great at publishing and public relations.  Another person is excellent with leveraging technology and social media.  Still another has developed a great strategy to engage large companies.  Each person’s expertise helps every member continue to grow their business. 

So how do you get a mastermind started?  Look for other individuals with similar values and goals.  Be careful that you don’t attract people that are looking for just another social outlet.  You have enough friends.  Look for partners that elevate and stretch you and your business.  

Look for truth tellers.  Think of the title of Marshall Goldsmith’s popular book.  “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”   A strong mastermind group can help you get there by challenging assumptions and business models.  They are good at asking, “Now, what’s the reason you are doing that….want to do that….need to do that?”   

Mastermind groups are not just for CEO’s and executives.   If you want to grow as a sales professional, surround yourself by the best and the brightest.   Create a sales master mind group.   It worked for Ben Franklin, Andrew Carnegie and Napoleon Hill---why not you? 

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, colleen stanley, Mastermind, Emotional Intelligence
Thu, 05/14/2015

Emotional intelligence and sales are usually not even put in the same sentence.  Sales management professionals often confuse emotional intelligence with being soft and a push over—two traits that are not going to accelerate sales results.

It might be time for a reality check.  Emotional intelligence has been taught in the leadership world for years.  And there is a substantial amount of research showing that EQ is a key factor for success in effectively leading a team. 

#1:  Emotional self-awareness.    In the words of Socrates, “Know thyself.”  It might be time to ask yourself the tough question:   am I the problem?  Emotionally intelligent sales managers take time to reflect on how they show up every day with their team. 

For example, are you really paying attention when meeting with members of your sales team.   I have had more than one salesperson tell me that he or she doesn’t go to their  manager for advice because, well, the sales manager  just can’t seem to quit checking email or taking phone calls.  (It’s the equivalent of someone holding up a newspaper as you are talking to them.)   As a result, the salesperson doesn’t feel important, quits asking for advice and expertise and skills don’t grow.  Neither do sales. 

Make a decision to be present when meeting with members of your team.   Put away your smart phone, close the door and put your phone on do not disturb.  Treat your salesperson like you would treat your most important customer---because he is!   Make a decision where you want to be. 

#2:  Self-regard and assertiveness.   There’s an old saying that it’s lonely at the top.  Without confidence, sales managers avoid holding truth telling conversations with members of their team.  Salespeople are not held accountable and the result is a sales culture of mediocrity, complacency and excuses.    

Tough love managers are confident and willing to hold truth telling conversations.  That conversation might be around a salesperson’s unwillingness to turn in needed reports for forecasting or a bad attitude.  Assertive sales managers state what they need nicely without getting aggressive or emotional.  

Got EQ?  Soft skills, emotional intelligence skills, do produce hard sales results.   

Good Selling!

tags: Emotional Intelligence, sales, sales training, sales management, colleen stanley
Thu, 05/7/2015

I’m excited to introduce you to a great new book being released this month, Activate Your Brain:  How Understanding Your Brain Can Improve Your Work—And Your Life.   Author, Scott G. Halford, has put together some tremendous insights in harnessing the power of the brain to be more effective at work and in life.  I suggest watching this video at your next sales meeting.   It provides great information on ways to activate your brain and achieve greater results. 

There were so many things I gleaned from Scott’s book, however, here are a couple to get you started.    

#1:  Reframing.    We’ve all heard the phrase that perception is reality.  The same holds true in bringing your “A” game to work and life. 

If you’ve been in sales for any length of time, there is a good chance you’ve run a lousy sales call.  It’s easy to beat yourself up and let the negative self-talk take over.   “I’ve lost my touch.  I have the worse prospects.  I’m not sure I can do this.”  None of this negative chatter is going to help you improve or change. 

Reframe a lousy sales call by asking yourself one question, “What’s the lesson learned and how will this lesson serve me during the next sales meeting?”   By reframing a less than perfect sales call to a lesson learned sales call, you decrease stress and get back in the sales saddle.   A focus on the lessons learned rather than your shortcomings improves future sales results.    

Another way of reframing is normalizing a stressful situation.  Scott shares a great story in his book where he was feeling overwhelmed with the daunting task of writing and rewriting content.  His editor reframed his perspective by replying, “Scott, it’s supposed to be hard.”  That simple statement normalized the stress he was feeling.  As a result, he had a new perspective and new energy toward the project - a great lesson for all of us to learn.   Achieving great things can often be and is supposed to be hard. 

#2:  Get some sleep.  I have never attended a sales or sales management training course where the instructor encouraged the participants to get more rest in order to close more business. 

Research shows that lack of sleep leads to brain decay.  It affects your ability to learn and focus.  Not surprising, it also makes you cranky and magnifies your perception of the negative in your environment.  Decision making is impaired and memory becomes faulty.  I could go on but I think you are getting the picture.  A rested sales team just might be your most important competitive advantage.  Go to bed!

#3:  Read the book.    Successful salespeople and leaders recognize that education never stops.  As simple as that sounds, some people are done learning.  My belief:  when you’re done learning you are done earning!

My copy is highlighted, tabbed and used as a resource for bringing my A-game to my personal and professional life. Get your copy today!

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales management, Scott Halford, Activate Your Brain, colleen stanley
Wed, 04/29/2015

It’s called an elevator pitch, a 30 second commercial and a value proposition.    Whatever you choose as a name, the goal is the same:  deliver a statement that quickly engages your prospect’s interest and desire to continue a sales conversation.

Value propositions are one of the most important selling tools a sales organization can develop and hone.  A poorly crafted value proposition quickly leads to a ‘what’s your price or we already have a resource’ objection.   Unfortunately, there are a lot of mediocre value propositions being used by salespeople, e.g., “We have a national footprint, we do this, this and this.” 

Here are two tips to help improve your value propositions and open up value sales conversations. 

#1:  Sell emotion, not logic.  Most value propositions are focused on what the company or product does, with the emphasis on the positive features and benefits of the product or service.  Research shows that people buy two to three times quicker to eliminate pain.  It’s neuroscience 101.  The reptilian portion of the brain is wired to avoid pain. Effective sellers create value propositions focused on problems they solve for customer, not positive benefits.   

#2:  Customize, customize, customize.  Today’s sellers expect you to know their world.  They are being trained by the like of Netflix, who gives you suggestions of movies you should watch based on your last selection.  (And yes, that can backfire after watching a bad movie….) 

Generic, one size fits all value propositions do not emotionally connect with potential buyers.  It’s really common sense.  Look at all the buying influences involved when purchasing your product or service.  Is the economic buyer going to have a different set of pains and needs than the user or technical buyer?  Is the power buyer going to have a different set of goals and worries than the influencer buyer?  The answer is yes.  Effective sellers use the emotional intelligence skill of empathy to demonstrate that they have walked a mile in their prospects shoes and customize their value propositions to each buyer’s pain.  The buyer feels understood and is open to further conversation. 

Sharpen your value propositions by selling emotion, not logic.  Create and customize value propositions by the position and industry.  Create value propositions that open up value sales conversations, not what’s your price. 

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, Emotional Intelligence, sales management, colleen stanley
Fri, 04/24/2015

I just finished presenting and participating in the AA-ISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals) Leadership Summit 2015 Conference and was thoroughly impressed by the content and sophistication of the attendees. 

Inside sales is a broad term and one often associated with a sales team that is smiling, dialing and setting up calls for the outside sales team.  It’s time to remove that paradigm and start evaluating how inside sales professionals can accelerate your company’s revenues.  

There are many reasons for the changes.   Prospects have been ‘Amazonized.’  They are comfortable making big purchases without a face-to-face appointment.  On-line tools nurture prospects through the buying journey, educating and building trust through the use of e-books, demos and videos.  This is not your mothers inside sales team.  Many inside sales teams are carrying big quotas and closing big deals.   

Times are a changing; however, not everything has changed in the world of sales.  What hasn’t changed with inside or field sales professionals is the need to conduct a value added sales conversation.  Case in point. 

I recently downloaded an e-book which had peaked my interest in a product. I promptly received a phone call from the company’s inside salesperson.  Their technology had alerted the sales rep that there was a potential buyer ‘on the loose.’  The company did a good job of getting me interested, however, that’s where their good sales and marketing efforts came to a stop.   

 It became apparent to me that this organization had focused more time and money on marketing automation than teaching their sales team good consultative selling skills. The sales conversation quickly moved to a product dump and my interest, along with my willingness to invest money, waned.   

What’s the lesson?  Embrace the new and old approaches to selling. Integrate new selling models, ideas and strategies.  Don’t forget proven principles of influence such as listening, asking questions that make your prospects brain hurt.  

Is it time to get a new pair of selling jeans?    

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence
Thu, 04/16/2015

Here’s the sales scenario.  You’re meeting with a new prospect and it’s a pleasant meeting full of statements such as, “It’s always good to look at other options.  We are committed to being best in class.”   The salesperson digs, questions and probes to uncover pain or that big hairy audacious goal---without any luck.

At the end of the meeting, the prospect says, “Let’s continue the discussion.  This sounds interesting.”  Now, the salesperson didn’t really hear any reason to continue meeting with this prospect because the prospect doesn’t have any real pains to solve or goals to achieve.  However, she schedules a second meeting, wasting valuable time that could be better invested with qualified opportunities or new opportunities.  Why? There are two reasons.   

#1:  Lack of assertiveness.  The salesperson lacking assertiveness goes along to get along.  She forgets that sales is a two-way street.  If a prospect doesn’t have a big enough problem to fix or goal to achieve, it’s okay for a salesperson to disqualify the prospect.    

The assertive salesperson knows that he has the right to continue working only with opportunities that are serious about taking action.  Salespeople scoring high in assertiveness are comfortable stating the obvious and doing it respectfully.  ”Mr. Prospect, I’m not sure I am hearing enough reasons for you to make a change….what am I missing?” 

#2:  Mistaking interest with evidence.    It’s easy to get caught up in motivational rhetoric such as, “We are always looking to do better.”  The salesperson has not heard any real reasons for getting better.  He’s confused hearing information with hearing evidence. 

Effective salespeople are heat seeking missiles for gaining evidence for the stated need.  Is the need to get better coming from the fact that a competitor is getting more aggressive?  Is the need to get better coming from the changing demands of customers?  Or is the need to get better really about the prospect’s ability to open up new markets and verticals?  

The most effective salespeople get to the truth quickly.  They only work with prospects that have a problem big enough to address or goals large enough to achieve. 

Improve your assertiveness and evidence gathering skills to better qualify or disqualify opportunities.  Not every prospect deserves a second meeting. 

Good Selling!

tags: sales, Sales Trainin, sales management, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence

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