Learning to sell well opens doors for all levels of people within an organisation; from CEO to the sales team, making it possible for a business to not only excel, but also thrive. Thousands of articles and books have been written on selling, and almost every one of them contains one or more nuggets of wisdom. Some are classics that convey ideas, techniques and strategies that salespeople can use in almost any market.
Three imperatives for building superior sales performance:
Sales Imperative #1
The Iron-Triangle of Selling
There are three steps to sales success that have stood the test of time: prospecting, presenting and closing. They form the three points of the “iron triangle” of selling.
To prospect effectively, you and your sales team must first clearly determine what it is your company is selling. Most people only define their product or service in terms of its qualities, characteristics, features and the way it is produced, distributed and delivered to the customer.
However, the most important part of your product description is what the product does for your customer. People don’t buy products or services; they buy the results (or ’benefits’) they expect to experience by using your product or service. You must therefore determine what your product or service really does for your customers. Find out what makes your product superior to other products or services. Only then are you ready to tackle the three key steps to sales success:
Of all the prospects in your market, which can benefit most from what your product does better than the competition? The rule is that although there are many prospects, they aren’t all your prospects. You must be specific about which prospects you can sell your most important benefits to the most effectively.
The ability to design and give a good sales presentation will determine your success as much as any other factor. Based on more than 30 years of experience, I can say every sales presentation could use some improvement.
A good presentation shows prospects that your product or service is the best choice for them. After highlighting a feature of your product or service that’s relevant to the customer, ask a question to invite feedback, such as: “Is this something you would use in your situation?” If you’ve given a good presentation, the prospect should fully understand the offering and be ready to make a buying decision. If you don’t get this reaction at the end of your presentation, rework your presentation until it is so overwhelmingly conclusive that the sale almost falls into your hand at the end.
It is absolutely amazing how many sales are lost because the salesperson fails to follow up and ask for the order at the end of the sales conversation. The best way to close a sale is to set up the closing question with the words: “Do you have any questions or concerns that I haven’t covered so far?”
If the prospect says no, you can then ask for the sale: “Well, then, why don’t you give it a try?” If the prospect is unsure, say: “I really think this would be ideal for you, based on what you’ve told me. Why don’t you give it a try?” You will be amazed at how many people are on the verge of buying and simply need an invitation.
Sales Imperative #2
Understand How The Game Has Changed
In recent years, the field of selling has changed dramatically. During the boom of the 1990s, individuals and organisations were producing and selling products and services hand over fist. There was demand and an enormous amount of money chasing after products and services in almost every field.
Many salespeople who began their careers in the early ’90s never learned how to sell because it wasn’t necessary. It was a seller’s market. As a result, most salespeople became professional order-takers. They followed up on leads, collected cheques and came back to the office feeling like heroes. In today’s uncertain economic landscape, there are more sellers than buyers. There are more companies offering products and services than there are people with money to buy them. Times may be tough, but the fact is that cycles and trends are a natural part of life. Markets go up, and markets go down. This is normal, and we need to adjust to it when it happens.
Sales Imperative #3
Being In The Top 10%
1. Learn to Focus
To succeed in selling today, your sales team must focus more narrowly on the few prospects who are the most likely to buy what you sell. You have to define your ideal prospects more clearly and separate high probability prospects from low probability prospects.
But before you’re able to focus your selling, you must prepare. The more thoroughly prepared you are, the more and better sales you will make. There are three steps to preparation. First, do some pre-call research. Learn everything you possibly can about your prospects before you call on them for the first time. This will help with building your credibility. Next, set your pre-call objectives. Know your goals, and write down any questions you need to ask.
Lastly, perform post-call analysis. Always write down every detail discussed in the sales call immediately after leaving the prospect; don’t rely on your memory or the sales report forms you fill out at the end of the day. The next time you visit this prospect, review your detailed notes from earlier conversations. This three-step process of preparation will thoroughly equip you with the tools necessary to build high levels of credibility and trust with your prospect throughout the sales process.
2. Concentrate on your best prospects
Once your team has identified your most important prospects it’s time to dedicate all your energy to the top 20%of prospects in your market who account for 80%of your sales. In the 1990s, it was easy to hit prospects all over the place without really trying. But today the market has changed, and to win you must concentrate your energies carefully on those few customers who can make a significant difference in achieving your sales quota.
3. Commit to forward action
To succeed in sales today you and your team must be in continuous motion, always looking for new and better prospects, both in your traditional markets and in markets you may not have thought of in the past. The more approaches you try, the greater the probability you’ll try the right thing at the right time to make the kind of sale you really want to.
For this reason, nothing is more important in a tough market than your commitment to continuous forward action, to calling on more and better people every single working day. You should spend about 80% of your time prospecting until you have so many customers that you don’t have enough time to handle more.
If your sales force (or career if you’re a sales person) is going more slowly than you would like at the moment, step on the accelerator of your own potential and rev up the number of people that you see and talk to on a daily and weekly basis. The good news is, the faster you move, the more energy you will have. The more energy you have, the more people you will see and the more experience you will get. And the more experience you get, the better you will become at selling when you finally come across the ideal prospect for your product or service.
Because of this action orientation, you’ll make more sales and, as a result, get more positive feedback. This will motivate you to make even more calls on even more prospects and close even more sales in the weeks and months ahead. Over the years, good times come and go. The economy booms, and the economy recedes. But the sales organisations that practice these six essential principles day in and day out, no matter what may be happening around them, will always find success. You can do the same.
5 Ways To Drive Leads And Double Your Profits
Data is the secret sauce to grow your business and dominate your marketplace.
As a marketer, the right digital strategy can drive leads, increase profits, and eliminate the competition. But in a crowded marketplace, how do you cut through the noise?
Enter Joshua Harris, entrepreneur, master marketer, and member of The Oracles. His company, Agency Growth Secrets, teaches entrepreneurs how to grow highly profitable digital marketing agencies and win their clients unmatched results.
What’s the key ingredient to his secret sauce? The right data. “The data we use plugs into Facebook and Google, slashing the cost on these platforms by 25 percent to 75 percent,” shares Harris.
Here are five data-driven strategies that Harris uses to drive leads — and generate insane profits for his company and clients.
1. Eliminate non-buyers from your targeting
To get the biggest bang for your buck, eliminate non-buyers from targeting. “In Chet Holmes’ famed market pyramid, he showed that only three percent of people are ready to buy immediately. So, any money you spend on the remaining 97 percent of people is a waste,” Harris explains.
“Current ad platforms don’t have a way to eliminate these non-buyers, so marketers leave money on the table with the standard pay-per-click model,” he adds. Instead of using the “spray and pray” method of broadcasting your message to everyone, Harris recommends using precision targeting to identify people who are ready to get out their credit cards now.
“If you know who’s right for your offer, you don’t need to pay $10 to Google for a click. You can put your offer on The Google Display Network. You can send the prospect a postcard. There are multiple ways to reach someone when you know who they are.”
2. Implement a closed-loop attribution tool
To prove your value proposition to marketing clients, show how your work has influenced sales. The right big data technology has the power to do just that.
“The platform we use shows metrics on a consumer’s browsing history, where they encountered our ad, and how that ad influenced them to buy,” Harris shares.
With closed-loop reporting, cookies and other tracking codes (such as UTM parameters) are used to flag a URL to identify specific visitors. These codes are then used to track where a visitor encounters your ad and how that interaction informs a sale.
What you can’t measure, you can’t manage. By using closed-loop reporting, you can measure success and manage your business.
3. Embrace people-based marketing
People-based marketing means being able to recognise the name of who you’re dealing with. “Website traffic is mostly anonymous and fraught with fraudsters and bots,” Harris cautions. “With people-based marketing, you track channels to ensure your ad or message is getting delivered to a real person.
“We track URLs, buy data from publishers, and use paid subscriptions to create profiles of our target customers. When we reach out, we know we’re communicating with an actual client.” If you want real results, you need to verify that each person you’re targeting is an actual person.
4. Predict a path-to-purchase
By analysing data correctly, marketers can predict who is going to do what next. “With our platform, we feed a hundred potential buyers into our system,” Harris explains. “Then we examine all the different online behaviours of prospective buyers before they purchase. Their searches leave a trail of breadcrumbs, and we connect the dots.”
When analysing data, Harris advises focusing on what signals potential customers give off before they buy. “If you put the pieces together, you can anticipate a client’s next move by their online behaviour before they do.”
5. Advertise across channels
Once you’ve targeted the right client, reach out across channels. “Instead of spending $1,000 on just Google AdWords, use content management software that works across mobile and desktop platforms,” Harris advises.
“Use Facebook, Google, YouTube, Pinterest, Display, direct mail, phone calls. The point is not only to use the best channel, but to use all channels. In other words, become omnipresent. If a prospective buyer sees you everywhere, they’re more likely to buy from you than an obscure competitor.”
Ultimately, with the right data tools, you can consolidate your marketplace and eliminate the competition. As Harris points out, “a competitive advantage is either operating cheaper or commanding a premium price. Our platform allows you to operate at a lower cost with your ads. Because your costs are lower and your frequency is higher, you can convince your customers that you have a better offering, set the buying criteria, and drive profitable sales.”
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The 5 Best Actions You Can Take To Improve Sales Calls
Ditch your script. Record your calls. Analyse your patterns. There are new, non-conventional ways to approach calls. Have you tried them?
We’ve all got a ton of digital tools to help us boost brand awareness, attract subscribers and followers and ultimately convince people that our brands have something to address their needs. However, closing the deal still usually depends on a one-on-one conversational interaction – or series of interactions – the traditional sales call.
Your top salespeople work tirelessly to track down leads generated by your marketing team. They reach out to previous customers to renew interest. And they work to convince interested buyers to finally take the plunge.
You can improve those close rates by: 1) asking your top performers to train your newcomers; or 2) sweetening the pot by offering more to your prospects in the first place.
But if you want to get even more out of your sales strategy, you’ll need to optimise your and your salespeople’s calls themselves. So, how, exactly, do you improve those calls?
Here are five ways:
1Ditch the script
First, let’s be clear: Sales scripts can be helpful. They’re a useful rubric for guiding the conversation in the direction you want to go, they’re a useful resource for training new candidates; and they’re a nice crutch for anyone who is shy or anxious about talking on the phone.
But there are two big problems with sales scripts on calls: First, they have a tendency to sound fake (especially if you’re using a template). Most customers can tell the difference between a sincere conversation and one that’s been over-rehearsed or pre-planned, and you’ll lose sales if you always sound insincere.
Second, scripts lock you into a single routine. It may be a decently effective routine, but you’ll never know if there’s something better out there.
2Record your calls
Have you ever experienced that phenomenon where the sound of your recorded voice is alien compared to what you’re used to hearing? This happens because of the vibrations we pick up in our own head, but it represents a bigger idea; we don’t know what we sound like until we listen.
Accordingly, your underperforming salespeople may be making critical mistakes they could pick out in an instant – if only they realised they existed. Start recording your sales calls, and make your sales staff listen both to their own calls and those of others. You’ll become collectively more acquainted with proper sales techniques, and be able to isolate some of the most egregious mistakes your people are making.
3Analyse your patterns
Unfortunately, there’s only so much the human mind can pick out in a single episode of listening of a sales call. That’s why artificial intelligence (AI)-powered speech recognition and analytics tools are starting to grow more popular. These tools automatically transcribe your sales calls, then analyse the text, looking for specific keywords that can tell you how the conversation is progressing, and where (for better or worse) the turning points are.
It’s an automated way to dissect how your sales calls develop, and a perfect tool for brainstorming new angles and tactics.
4Control your progress with goals
You should also make sure your progress remains steady and measurable by setting goals for your salespeople. These need to be both short-term and long-term, so your salespeople can see steady progress and feel motivated by their own efforts. Your goals also need to be both individual- and group-focused, so you can keep your team working together while still inspiring a bit of competition and individual improvement.
5Experiment and observe
Finally, don’t let yourself get too comfortable with any one set of tactics – even if your phone-call recordings guide you in that direction. Just because a strategy is good doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best, so if you want to keep improving, you’ll want to experiment, sometimes with drastically different approaches.
Related: 8 Tips for Dominating Online Sales
Observe how these experiments develop, and scrap whatever doesn’t work. Inevitably, you’ll find something worth exploring.
A note on conventional tips
You’ll notice that I haven’t included any conventional tips to directly make your calls better, although there are plenty out there that seem to work. For example, there are no recommendations to start the call with a positive anecdote, or to make calls while standing and walking around to bring more energy to the meeting.
These can be helpful, but they’re short-term fixes, and they aren’t going to fix any glaring problems with your strategy. They’re also limited in how much value they can deliver.
Instead, the strategies listed, in contrast, are methodologies that can be applied indefinitely. They’re tools to help your team members learn and improve on their own. Accordingly, they won’t give you an instant boost in productivity or effectiveness, but they will yield the most powerful results – especially when applied over the course of months or even years.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Have We Lost Our Face-To-Face Sales Ability?
Do we actually know enough about selling online to the point of being able to forego the traditional face-to-face selling?
When it comes to selling there are ample strategies around to help you become a confident closer. There is a lot of content on the topic of face-to-face selling as well as cold calling and closing on the phone.
A quick Google search will list copious amounts of books that will help you close deals, make money and smash your sales goals. And this is because a business can’t really be considered functional unless it’s selling. But in the current market much of the selling that happens, is via digital platforms. And yet, do we actually know enough about selling online to the point of being able to forego the traditional face-to-face selling?
We’re still in the learning phase of online selling
And we don’t know enough yet, we don’t have all tools to understand how to successfully close deals and so we’re not ready to rely on our digital sales alone. However, many companies do heavily rely on their online and social media presence alone to garner their profits. Are they wrong? Well, for the most part, yes. Because solely relying on online marketing efforts to increase sales and profit margins is not wise.
By relying on digital sales alone things become less personable. Yet all online strategies encourage companies to create as personable an interaction with each client, as possible. So in reality, face-to-face selling goes hand-in-hand with the online game.
The thing with online strategies is that they’re not actually sales orientated but rather, marketing campaigns and plans. As you develop online strategies, you’re working towards as many lead conversions as you can garner, but you can’t rely on those leads alone.
Those leads are the by-product of a robust online marketing campaign that has created brand awareness, promoted products and made it possible for the business to offer advice and guidance.
Digital marketing is not selling; digital marketing has a variety of different elements that lead towards a sale. Human interaction is always needed for you to enjoy many sales and fat profit margins. But in this digital age, it would appear that we’ve begun eliminating the personal interactions of traditional sales.
In fact, the invaluable networking and selling opportunities found at large conferences are slowly disappearing too. Webinars have become the new go-to in place of conferences or large meetings.
What do we lose when all of our interactions with a client are online?
Well, the answer to this is arguable. So, it’s best to look at only the facts. Historically, salespeople spent a good portion of their time knocking on the doors of bosses’ offices trying to secure an appointment. Or they could be found driving from place to place to see client after client to introduce their new product. And so because they quickly became a regular face, they were a part of the company in a way.
These relationships that were built over time became enduring and when products or services needed to be procured the client pledged loyalty to the salesperson.
Why? Because the relationship had become interpersonal and could be considered a work friendship. That type of bond is broken when things are purely digitised. And so it’s no wonder clients switch between service providers quickly and easily.
There’s no face to put to the name, there’s no relationship built and there’s no additional personal value offered. No one’s feelings are hurt and no excuses are necessary.
Human connection is often the value-add that a client enjoys and requires. And if you read up about excellent social media strategies they will all tell you to respond to clients online as quickly as you can.
You should call your client by their name when chatting or emailing and ultimately, make them feel like you really care. But do you know what’s better than that? Having a salesperson prepare a solution and present it to client.
How do you tick all the boxes?
Your fierce digital strategy will keep you competitive and ensure you remain relevant online. Your social media style will see you winning followers and your content offering will help you rank as an authoritative voice in the industry. But your sales team must work constantly on touching base with your current clients and potential new accounts.
Scheduling a round trip to see all your clients is an excellent idea. Getting creative about how you connect with them will be exciting for everyone involved. And arriving armed with data showcasing how you’re assisting your customers will likely win you more business.
If you’re a new business or you have a brand new sales department then make every effort to have your sales people attend sales and marketing courses. Coach them in relationship building and create networking opportunities for them.
A good place to start would be to attend conferences in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban – the biggest cities – especially those with exhibition areas and high foot traffic. This is the perfect place to fine tune your pitch and create connections.
You see, digitalising your company and creating an online offering was never meant to take the place of your sales team. It was meant to assist them with doing better and smashing those goals you set out.
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