Friday, April 10, 2009

SALES Series: Selling is an ATTITUDE

Sales is not about manipulation. It is about helping.

If your attitude is about "getting," not "giving," your buyers will often experience remorse.

Positive selling attitude begins with self-confidence. Confidence that what you offer really will help the person with whom you are engaged in conversation. That confidence drives you to ask good, open-ended questions and engagingly listen to the answers. It will fuel persistence to move on in the face of rejection.

People are attracted to positive personalities that enjoy life and conversation. You cannot control the prospect's attitude: you can control yours. In the face of unhelpful, antagonistic prospects, you have an opportunity to smile and be gracious. Your attitude counts.

The best sales reps I have ever known were those who listened well and talked little. They worked at understanding the problems their customers were trying to solve. Adopting a servant-leader's mindset, they walked in their customer's shoes before trying to offer a solution.

If you attitude is "I got it and I'm going to manipulate the conversation, the moment and the interaction to push you into the corner of buying it" you are not selling: you are manipulating. Manipulators don't care about the customer: sales people do.

Effective selling is fueled by an attitude of advising, helping, and providing a real solution to an understood problem.

Got the "attitude?"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sales Objection: You’re Too Much Money

You thought the sales call was going well – after all, a discussion is developing about the cost. But, then the prospect tells you that your solution is just too much money!

STOP! Think, where am I in the process and what have I not done?

You have done your pre-call preparation. You have qualified this person as a prospect, not a suspect. You have worked to establish rapport, gained the prospect’s attention and developed the opportunity for you to ask questions for the purpose of problem recognition. You made your presentation focusing on benefits, value delivered, and metaphors to create word pictures that increase understanding. As the conversation continues, you have clearly demonstrated that you have clear insight into the current situation, the points of pain, the attributes of an ideal solution and the drivers of buying behavior within the prospect’s organization. And, then, as you move to yet another trial close, the customer states this price objection.

“Oh, why is that?” or “What do you base that on?” you ask and then listen.

If you are told that a similar solution is available from a competitor for far less, you must retrace some steps to establish the value you deliver. Probe first. Understand if this is a “real” comment. Is the competitor really delivering the value and is the nature of that value the same as yours. What about total cost of ownership (TCO) and what role does that play in the comment about cost?
Another option may be to ask: “What, in my presentation, drove you to believe/think/feel/know [that verb is important! Reflect back to the prospect the communication style he chooses to use] that our solution costs too much?”
You want to discover what you have not communicated well – NOT what s/he did not hear. You take the burden of responsibility.
Reasonable people understand switching costs and other drivers of buying behavior that will affect TCO and if that is the nature of the objection, you probably have a buyer to whom you do not need to sell – your role is now that of a negotiator – working on a mutual commitment to a win/win solution.

Your strategy in a price objection is to justify the higher price. Price is never the only reason for objecting. If it were, you could just send a catalogue out with prices and that ends it. You play an important role in the conversation that will lead to understand what the prospect values and how well you can deliver that value. Your strategies could include:
  • Break the price down and spread it over the period of the life of the product (could include a discussion of initial and ultimate costs)
  • If you have a unique differential advantage, build the justification around the value this uniqueness delivers
  • Compare and contrast strategy with competitive offerings and the value differential you deliver
  • If the objection came early in your presentation, postpone it until you have time to establish value.

Remember, if the prospect thinks your price is too high, you have not laid a solid foundation of benefit and value.

Of course, this is just an overview of handling objections. Need more help? Click here and let’s discuss how we go about establishing a working relationship.

Friday, March 13, 2009

SALES Series: Handling the objection: “I’m Not Interested”

You are making cold calls. You’ve done your research. This company you’re calling is in your target market. Their web site confirms that they need your equipment to fulfill their mission. But, your company is currently not the supplier. An opportunity. You find a live person with whom to speak and, after they know who you are, they say, “I’m not interested!”

Now, if you have not even begun any probing questions, or even asked for an opportunity to meet with the “right people,” you might respond, “Oh, you’re not interested in, ah, what?” Asked with humility and a touch of inquisitiveness, you have asked a question that can start a conversation that will give you insight in how they currently are meeting the need your product/service fulfills.

Other tactics include asking:
“I understand. How are you handling ___(the need)__ today?”
When they tell you, ask, “What do you like most about ____(product/or company)?”
To that answer ask, “How did you select ____(present supplier)___?”
The key for conversation to continue is that you are mirroring and matching their communication style – people like people who are just like them. You must establish rapport with these questions: not create an enemy. Listen carefully to their speed cadence and mirror it. NOT the accent, the cadence. Is it fast and you could imagine their arms moving as they talk? Is it paced with clear enunciation of the vowel and consonant sounds? Is it slow, methodical – heavy – as if they “feel” their words? Mirror the cadence. You want rapport.

There are several more questions you might be able to ask:
  • “What would you need to see or hear to allow me to visit with you further about ___________(the problem)_____?
  • What would interest you enough to try us?
  • How do we go about establishing a working relationship with ___(their company)____?"

Note: you have not even begun to tell them about the value your solution provides. You will do that when you better understand their need and how well it is currently being met.

Remember the goal of every call is an order, another call or a visit (if appropriate). Keep it conversational but direct. Your attitude must be that you have something of value that can better meet their needs and save them money or improve their processes, or you would not be wasting your time making this call.

If you don’t believe your product or service can best serve their needs…well, that’s a different problem for a different blog!

Looking for coaching, training or consultation about your selling process. Click here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Leveraging the Power of "So What!"

When a prospects responds with anything resembling "So What!" you know that the value of the feature or attribute you were explaining was not clearly understood.

When a prospects responds with anything resembling "So What!" you know that the value of the feature or attribute you were explaining was not clearly understood.

The "so what" exercise that can help you better understand the value - from the customer's perspective.

Click HERE to find the POWER that the "so what" exercise yields.

Monday, March 9, 2009

SALES Series: Handling the “We’re happy…” Objection

You are making the cold call and you actually connect with a real human. That human immediately tells you, when they discover why you have called, that “they are happy” with their current vendor/supplier/consultant.

You say, “Thank you, please call me if you ever become unhappy and, goodbye.” Right?

Wrong. There is another response. Several, in fact. At your next sales training meeting, try several of these to see what works best for you.

1. What makes you happy with your _____current solution or supplier­­­­_______?
Listen and learn. Think about what is being said and what is not being said. Consider if you are receiving trivial messages or real drivers of their buying behavior. Did they talk about a problem, or pain? Did they link the solution to the problem?

1.1 If not addressed in their statement, ask “What do you like about how they do business with you?

1.2 OR, “What made you choose them and their solution?

1.3 And/or, “How do you judge whether you are happy or not?

2. They say “We’re happy.” and you ask, “Compared to what?” (Use this sparingly – you must discern if you have a bottom line prospect, on who thrives on direct statements.)

3. What would you like to see improved or enhanced with _____solution or process_________?

4. Describe the ideal solution (or provider relationship). OR, what would make life easier in the way of ______your solution or provider­­­­_____?

You want to understand their pain points and the kind of solutions that would relieve the pain. You want to discover what drives their buying behavior.

5. How do we go about establishing a relationship with your company?

6. What would you need to understand, or see, or hear to give us a chance?

7. How will you judge your happiness with us or our solution?

The goal, as always, is to generate a conversation where you discover what their current state is, what in that state is not going well (a problem), what solutions they have explored beside their current one, and then end with a clarifying statement that shows you have listened to their need, to what drives them, and what they, in an ideal world, would like to achieve. Then, share why your solution better fits their need – and ask for the business.

Need help with your selling process, click here.

Copyright © 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sales Objection: “Send me some information…”

Ah, the deadly phrase. You know what it means: Good-bye!

Hey! It does not have to be that way: this phrase could be the start, not the end of a conversation. Consider a phone exchange that may go something like this:

“Send me some information…”
You [enthusiastic and sincere]:
"Great! What information would you like me to send you?”
“Ahh, well, you know, your stuff about xxxxx?”
You [quietly confident]:
“OK, what would you be looking for from a company like ours for {a product like _____}?"
“this and that …and sales reps who get off the phone ….”
{it really does not matter what the prospect says – you want to listen to content, ignore editorializing and agree with making this conversation come to an end quickly…}

“Thanks for that insight (OR something like: "Boy, do I ever understand that"…) and tell me, how are you presently handling ______________[the problem that needs solved by your product]________?”

“We do this and that and use so and so…”
“Yes, I see…describe the “ideal” ____________ for you (or the company)….”
“ideal stuff”
“Thanks: If you like what I send you, how do I go about getting a meeting with you?”
OR “Thanks: describe the ideal working relationship that would interest you in working with my company?”

OR “Thanks: once you receive the information, where do we go from there?”

“We really would like to develop a business relationship with your company: how do we go about doing that?”

Remember: always ask for the business, because nothing really happens until somebody sells something.

  • If you are looking for help in branding, re-positioning, messaging, sale training, motivational speaking check out Lindell Associates.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

SALES Series: Objection - “We don’t have a need” or “We don’t have the budget.”

Selling is about communication - overcoming objections, understanding problems, getting a handle on value expectation - specific communication.

In today’s environment, we now have the opportunity to learn more about needs if we think of a set of goals for every sales call. Of course, closing the deal is the primary goal: reality is that this goal may not be real for your prospect in this economic downturn. Building a relationship, understanding needs, making a connection, building a friendship are each an example of other goals that might be accomplished in the sales call.

When you receive the “put off” response, don’t stop: ask a second question. Consider questions like the following as conversation starters:

1. How will you go about using a company like ours when there is a budget or need? [Then listen: if they say something to the effect that “they can’t imagine that ever happing.” Then you need to understand not only why, but also what needs to be done to change that state. Think of their response as simply a state analysis exercise – this is where they are today and what needs to be done, by whom, doing what will move them from current state to future state?]

Another approach is more indirect. It explores more fully what is being done now to solve the problem your solutions solves. Remember, this is a conversation, not an inquisition. You want to build understanding. You acknowledge their point of view. Now is the time NOT to be defensive. If they attack your company, respond with “Tell me more about that? “Help me understand what lead-up to this state of affairs…”

2. What are you doing now to ______________ (fill their need).
a. What do you like best about that solution?
b. What do you like least about that solution?
c. What would be a perfect (or ideal) solution?
d. How will your company go about evaluating a new solution when budget is available or need is acknowledged?
e. What would make your life easier in that evaluation process?

[NOTE: you have not told them anything about your solution yet. The key is to actively listen to what they are telling you. Your assumption is that your product (service) provides a real, substantial benefit to them; therefore, this conversation will help the both of you understand the problem and the value of the solution – listen and learn.]

3. What would your expectation be of our company should you decide in the future to team-up with us?

4. The recap: “If I have heard you correctly, you like [this and that] about your current solution, and if you could make any changes in that solution they would be [such and such]. Evaluating a different solution would involve looking at (or measuring, etc) [reflect back the list]. Have I heard you correctly?” [Now, if the mood has changed, if the prospect is more open to talking, ask for the business by telling them (if it is true) that you have good news for them since what your offer meets the criteria. Then, explain the value you deliver directly aimed at what you have learned. No more. No less. NOW, ask for the business.]

  • If you are looking for help in branding, re-positioning, messaging, sale training, motivational speaking check out Lindell Associates.