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.
3 Ecommerce Trends You Must Prepare For In 2019
The ecommerce explosion continues, but there’s also an element of evolution. To take your ecommerce presence to the next level, take advantage of these emerging trends.
Retail ecommerce sales continue trending upward, and consumer confidence has reached an 18-year high. Conditions are ripe for brands with an established ecommerce presence, but that doesn’t mean business as usual will always suffice. Instead, the organisations that excel will be those with a forward-thinking approach to ecommerce.
Ecommerce is thriving because enough companies have kept up with changing technology and consumer expectations. For example, as mobile purchases increased in popularity, ecommerce retailers began specifically catering to this shopping avenue. Mobile purchases constituted the majority of ecommerce sales in 2016, and eMarketer estimates that 72.9 percent of online purchases will be made on a mobile device by 2021.
Device preferences aren’t the only thing in transition – search methods are also quickly evolving as technology becomes more sophisticated. According to predictions from ComScore, 50 percent of all search queries will be made via voice by 2020. And it’s likely that more people will be audio searching for buyable goods soon: Devices such as Google Home Hub and Amazon Echo Show are integrating voice and image search so that shoppers can see what they’re asking to buy. Ecommerce retailers that can’t cater to a voice-activated future (Read: optimise for natural language search) will quickly lose ground to their rivals.
Ecommerce companies are also partnering with payment processors to make online purchases as frictionless as possible. By offering payment options such as PayPal, Venmo and Amazon Pay at checkout, customers can leave their credit cards in their wallets, so buying becomes even easier.
No matter how mature your ecommerce presence might be now, you need to keep looking ahead to ensure future success. To elevate your ecommerce efforts in 2019, take advantage of these three emerging trends.
1. Sell your wares on social
Effective marketing is about optimising your messaging to appeal to your target audience, but messaging won’t matter if the audience never sees it. Meeting your audience members where they spend their time is crucial, and here’s a tip: If your customer base is online, it’s on social media one-third of that time.
If you’re not selling on social media, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Most social media platforms now support integrated buy buttons that transfer users to your website to complete a sale, and apps such as Instagram and Snapchat offer shoppable stories, too.
Retail brands like Jordan have also capitalised on event-related social commerce opportunities. For the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, Jordan partnered with Snapchat to offer access codes to an exclusive sale of the special edition Air Jordan III Tinker shoe. Users could only receive a code if they were near the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and the sneakers sold out in 23 minutes.
2. Remix the buyer’s reality
Mixed reality technologies have yet to see mainstream adoption, but they have made huge strides in that direction. Vertebrae’s launch of its AR/VR ecommerce platform Axis aims to prove that the tech is much more than a novelty, and IKEA’s Place app provides shoppers with an AR-powered glimpse into what IKEA products would look like in their own homes.
“Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the internet. Only this time, much faster,” says Michael Valdsgaard, leader of digital transformation at Inter IKEA Systems.
AR might not be everywhere yet, but ecommerce retailers that successfully incorporate AR capabilities into the shopping experience stand to gain a significant advantage over their competitors.
3. Strengthen your Amazon strategy
Amazon has established a pre-eminent place in the ecommerce ecosystem, and Salmon’s “Future Shopper Report” indicates that 68 percent of American shoppers head straight to the site when browsing for products. What’s more, even when customers plan to buy from another site or store, 80 percent read Amazon reviews and check prices there.
Clearly, mastering Amazon is critical. Trevor George, founder and CEO of Amazon marketing agency Blue Wheel Media, says that the only way for sellers to win on the platform is through ads: “The future of Amazon is advertising, and if a brand wants to make money now and into the future, it needs to be able to navigate Amazon’s advertising platforms.”
According to George, that means investing in auto-bidding tools such as Prestozon or Ignite, isolating the right search terms, and incorporating negative keywords so your appliance company isn’t spending money to appear in searches for Easy-Bake Ovens.
The ecommerce boom isn’t waning anytime soon, and capitalising on it requires a thoughtful strategy that keeps your brand ahead of the competition. Keep social commerce, mixed reality shopping and Amazon advertising on your mind through 2019.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Get Ready To Sell Your Business – Advice From Marnus Broodryk
If you’re thinking about selling your business, there are some critical steps you need to make first.
MAKING THE SALE
A successful transaction will mostly boil down to having a solid business with great systems in place that is making decent money and the starting point for these transactions will be financial information.
Some entrepreneurs are ‘starters’, they like to start a business, get it off the ground and then flog it. Others are ‘growers’, they look for existing businesses and have the ability to grow them beyond their original value. Both will probably get to the same end point: Selling the business.
But entrepreneurs are often misled when it comes to the sale. They have put everything into the business and it is worth a huge amount to them because of it. But buyers are seldom willing to match the price, because what is being sold, and what is being bought, are not the same thing. Sellers see the emotional and financial investments they’ve put in; the buyer mostly looks at one thing: Profit.
Effort does not equal profit. The balance is out.
Prepare for the challenges of selling
Once you get to market you will soon realise that there are, unfortunately, fewer buyers than you’d like. Unlike listed companies, you can’t sell shares easily and quickly on a public platform. Instead, you need to find an interested individual or business, many of whom just aren’t buying what you’re selling.
Some of them are, but that doesn’t guarantee a sale. Most SMEs must put their faith in a cash deal, since banks will never finance anyone wanting to buy them. In reality, this means that you may have a genuinely interested buyer for your business, who won’t be able to get finance for it from the bank. So, after a few months, you’re back to square one. After a few rounds of this cycle many entrepreneurs will just sell out of desperation, forgetting what the business could actually be worth.
Selling a business can be very emotionally draining and this will be compounded by many people who will waste your time and mess you around. You spent a large portion of your life building this, but others will not see it the same way you do. Ensure that you prepare and mitigate against all of those issues, and have the stomach for the fight.
Always keep the end in mind
If you are looking at exiting your business, it is crucial to allow enough time to prepare yourself for it. Maybe you’re simply tired of your business and you just want to get out, but, because the business is not in a great state at the moment, you’re too fed up to care, and you simply don’t have the energy to fix the issues.
You’re at risk of letting your business go for next to nothing. All the hard work for hardly any reward.
If you have the end in mind, and prepare for it, it can be a very different, more lucrative story. A successful transaction will mostly boil down to having a solid business with great systems in place that is making decent money and the starting point for these transactions will be financial information. You need to have proper financial records for your business and you need to be able to show the potential buyer how much the business is making and how it is making it. It sounds so elementary, yet most entrepreneurs don’t have financial information when they want to sell their businesses. If you think you may want to sell in the future, make sure you’re keeping solid records now.
If your business’s financials are messy, start cleaning them up at least twelve months before trying to sell your business. Remove all your personal expenses from the business and ensure that all transactions are properly recorded, and that your taxes are up to date and accurate. Work with your accountant to prepare a sales pack with all your financial information, including details of your clients, employees, suppliers, what your strong and weak points are and how the business could grow in the future. It’s at this stage that you can pick up on issues and resolve them before taking your business to the market, making it a much more attractive product.
With some (more) hard work, you will be in a great position to sell your business, you will have serious buyers and the valuation that you deserve for all your hard work. If you don’t, why bother?
4 Rules Of Engagement That Wildly Increase Your Odds Of Closing The Deal
If someone calls about what you sell, call them back. Not in a week, right now.
Sales is a process that can be learned but is comprised of many topics and categories that you have to master to become an expert. No one book or recording can cover everything you need to know to become great.
Consider that every salesperson has a unique personality and then add to that that every customer interaction and customer personality is unique and you can see how complicated it can become. Surgery is almost less complicated for the doctor because he is dealing with bodies that are unconscious while the salesperson is dealing with personalities, egos, insecurities, uncertainty, economics, competition and more.
Here are a few of the topics that salespeople need to learn and understand:
New to Sales
- Fundamentals of Selling
- Road to the Sale
- Handling Objections
- Negotiating Strategies
- Social Media and Sales
- Closing the Deal
- Follow Up for Owners
- Follow Up for the Unclosed
- Sales Manager
- Sales Meetings
- Understanding Customers
- Incoming Calls
- Outbound Calls
- Cold Calls
- Internet Response
- Customer Service
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with the different topics so let’s narrow the focus and talk specifically about four general rules to follow once you have actually gotten a customer or prospect in front of you. What approach will you take? Not knowing means you’ll be missing out on deals every day.
In business, you must have a pipeline and a belief system that you can sell to anyone. Once you have become engaged here are four general rules to help you in the process.
No matter what the buyer says, states or demands, you should under no circumstance ever disagree, make the buyer wrong or suggest their request is impossible. This simple strategy is very powerful and will save you lots of sales once you perfect it.
The old saying – the customer is never wrong – is not true. In fact, often the customer is wrong; sometimes they even lie, but that doesn’t mean you should call them out. When you tell someone you can’t, you won’t, you’re not allowed to or that’s impossible, you only cause the customer to become more dug-in on their position. You make it more difficult to come to an agreement.
Train, drill and rehearse avoiding all variations of no, not, never, can’t and won’t. Any and all variations of “no” and “can’t” must be eliminated from your vocabulary.
Now when you hear this you may think, “I don’t want to mislead the customer and I am not going to over promise and then be unable to deliver.” The problem here is when you tell someone early on you are unable to do something because you are “so honest’” you just eliminated any chance of being able to do anything for the customer. Try this when a customer asks for the impossible, “I never say no until I have to – if that is possible, there is no better place for you to be.”
Role play this law of selling until you no longer get into confrontations with your buyer and make them more difficult than they already are. Perfect “no problem, happy to, my pleasure, exactly what I am thinking, done, you got it” and then learn how to negotiate from a place of agreement. This does not mean that you simply lie down and give the buyer everything they want. It means you use the agreement to keep the negotiations loose enough to be negotiated.
Just because this is simple do not underestimate the time and energy necessary to get GREAT at it.
You must give them an offer and your proposal should have a figure and be presented with confidence. These seems basic but 72 percent of salespeople never present a proposal to their customer, which is part of the reasons why 87 percent of all salespeople miss their quota.
Simply increase the number of people you show a written proposal to and you will close more deals.
Wrap the deal up and get them to purchase. When you get to the close, make sure you are with the decision maker. Qualify them and have a sense of urgency. Without urgency, there’s no point in doing the deal today or tomorrow.
Selling, presenting, demonstrating, promoting, marketing, building trust, etc. are all very commendable and admirable actions but in no way compare to finally closing the deal. Closing is when you finally benefit your buyer.
Closing allows you and your company to expand. All the things that took place prior to the close were necessary to get to the close but will not allow for expansion and survival. Close the deal! Be willing to do whatever it takes to close the deal, knowing that only when you close do you provide any real value to the customer.
The close is ultimately for the buyer, not for you or your company. Until the customer closes they cannot benefit from your service or offer.
Related: 6 Ways To Win A Better Deal
This is the Holy Grail of sales. It’s the most important thing there is but few people and companies do it. Consider that 48 percent of salespeople never follow up and that 64 percent of companies admit they do not have any organised way to nurture a lead. Follow up is a massive opportunity. Then add to that the average company takes almost 72 hours to follow up a lead, even though contacting a customer in the first five to 10 minutes increases your chances of contacting the customer 900 times. Text them in the first five minutes and your chances of closing them increase 50X.
Learn the rules and use the rules and make deals.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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