How to Overcome Objections & Stalls

November 11, 2011 at 8:15 am | Posted in Sales Training | 1 Comment
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Let’s face the facts. If you’re involved in sales, objections and stalls are simply a fact of life. While you can’t avoid these inherent frustrations altogether, you definitely have options on how to deal with them. And, it’s truly how you deal with them that will ultimately determine your success as a salesperson.

Objections and stalls can undeniably throw you off of your course and make you want to pack up and head home. However, it’s solely up to you to view them either as permanent stops or detours on the road to making a sale.

What does an objection or stall mean to you? Sure, you can look at it as your cue to find a new prospect, or if you delve a little deeper, you might just discover that the person who you’re trying to sell to is attempting to gain more information, more confidence in what you’re offering, or more selling points. This is often the case when they have to present what you’re offering to other people involved in the decision making process.

In other words, their objection might be their way of asking you to better explain what makes you different and why doing business with you will equate to some sort of improvement in their situation.

By changing your mindset and rethinking objections and stalls as simply opportunities to present more information, you definitely up your chances of winning a job. Here are some basic strategies for handling these situations:

Take a Deep Breathe

Getting thrown off and discouraged by objections is often a knee-jerk reaction by many salespeople. It’s understandable and perfectly natural. We’re all taught as children to take “no” as an answer and to not nag and continue to ask for what we want again and again. Well, salespeople have to learn how to quiet those old tapes playing in their heads. A “no” might be a veiled request for more information, and if you immediately retreat, you will be shutting the door on a potential sale.

Acknowledge Their Hesitancy

You need to demonstrate that you “get” where they’re coming when it comes to an objection. By stating that you understand how they feel, you show that you are listening respectfully, not tuning them out, and can actually empathize with their hesitancy.

How can you articulate your sensitivity? Here are a few statements that will help you keep that sales door open:

1.     Mr. Prospect, I understand how you feel.

2.     I understand what you are saying

3.     We have other clients that have felt the same way.

These three statements will go a long way to making your prospect feel more comfortable and engaged with what you’re trying to say. Remember, the goal is to maintain rapport and not to alienate or cause anxiety.

Restate Your Value Proposition

Once you’ve patiently acknowledged and responded to their objection with a benefits statement, you’ve earned yourself the right to resell. This is the pivotal point and critical moment in dealing with an objection. Don’t stop and trail off after your resell statement. You’ll only confuse your prospect on what they should do next. Instead, take control of the dialog by asking a question. Word your question accordingly so that you get a positive response or at least will know what the answer will be. With this strategy, you should now have the opportunity to resell features and benefits.

So that’s it – a simple roadmap for how to handle and hopefully overcome objections. But what if you’re faced with something not as black and white? You weren’t given an objection, but you’re instead getting the sense that they’re just putting off making any decision at all.

These are the folks that are stalling and handling them effectively will also help you to close more business. When dealing with stalls, the first and most important step is to uncover its real reason. Until you know the reality of the situation behind the stall, you cannot possibly overcome it.

In order to find out the true reason for stalling, you must utilize some effective probing. Here are some questions that you should have ready to roll off of your tongue:

“Can you tell me more about …..?”

“How are you currently handling….?”

“What is your feeling about…..?”

By using open-ended questions like these, you will encourage dialogue and eliminate the shut-down that you may encounter when using closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.

The reality is that there are many valid reasons for prospects to stall. For instance, an accounting firm might stall about making a decision for an office renovation because the decision comes smack in the middle of tax season. Their plate is full, their minds are distracted, and a stall about making a decision is entirely valid.

However, more often stalls beg for clarification. Here are some statements to watch out for:

“I have to think about it.”

“I’m not certain. Let me talk about it with ….”

“Call me in a few weeks/months.”

“Not now/maybe later.”

These “classic stall statements provide you with little or no insight into a prospect’s “real” situation and require you to probe for more insight. Here’s how to respond:

“Can you please clarify what exactly you need to think about?”

“What’s going to be different next week, next month?”

“How about you and I speak with (the decision maker) together?”

Are you thinking that these types of responses might be too aggressive? If you remember that your objective is to uncover the reason for the stall, you will clearly see that these questions are essential for finding out the information you need to do your job effectively.

A prospect’s stall might be based on the fact that they don’t see enough value, or that they’re just not really sold yet. By uncovering their need for more information, you put yourself in a better position to make the sale. Remember – you can’t lose something that you don’t have, and since you haven’t yet won the job, you can’t be at risk by probing for information.

No one likes to deal with objection and stalls, but they are a very real part of the sales dance. Get used to it, get comfortable with it, and by employing these techniques, you’ll find yourself in the driver’s seat and winning more jobs than you ever thought you could!

 

 

 

 

3 Tips to Make Your Marketing (More) Effective

October 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Posted in sales, Sales Training, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Great Brand?  Check!

Awesome website?  Check!

Robust involvement with social media?  Check!

Marketing initiatives galore?  Check!

Yep, sometimes you have it “all” covered but don’t seem to be opening enough doors and winning enough new business. What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, there’s everything wrong if you’re not paying equal attention to your sales process, pipeline management and persuasive selling skills.

Yes, these 3 P’s are critical for your sales success.

Process:  What are you doing with the leads that are generated by your marketing efforts? Are you following up with them in a timely manner and do you have your sales team ready for action? (And if your sales team is..well..just you, are YOU ready to get into the ring and start selling?) A structured sales process can mean the difference between success and failure and getting ROI from your marketing efforts or not. Take the time to develop or refine your process BEFORE you start marketing. If you market first you just might not be ready to handle the inquiries, or to proactively reach out and connect with segments of non-responders.

Pipeline Management:  Unless you are involved in a very transactional business, most leads need to be nurtured and your sales cycle can be months and even years. You must keep your sales pipeline filled with leads that are in various stages of being “worked.” A skimpy pipeline means that at some point in the future you might not have enough active business to keep you afloat. Look at your pipeline on a monthly basis and if you see that the volume of prospects is skimpy, make certain to get proactive and start to prospect for new business.  And, most important, don’t allow your existing prospects to forget about you. Practice exquisite touch point management (connect with me and I’ll share the “3 I’s,” a strategy that works every time!) so that you stay on the grid.

Persuasive Selling Skills: Are your sales competencies as sharp as they need to be?  Are you confident that you and/or your team are skilled in presenting value and benefits, effective probing, overcoming objections, closing…and more? If you have even a smidgen of a doubt then I highly suggest that you make the effort to refresh or enhance those skills so that you are certain to get a return on your marketing investment.

A great brand and marketing program are just the beginning. It’s important to know how to execute on the marketing strategy. Do it ineffectively and your marketing is for naught.

The Importance of Selling

September 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Posted in sales, Sales Training | 3 Comments
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I never thought that it would get to this.

No, I never thought that I would be propelled to write a post about the importance of selling.

After all, it’s pretty obvious, right? If you’re in business, if you have a trade or a profession you must try to win new customers and retain and grow your existing ones.

Simple.  You…sell.

Fact: you shouldn’t develop a groovy new logo, create a brochure, procure some promotional items or dive deep into social media without thinking about your ultimate goal, the acquisition of new business.

And regardless of whether you have a transactional type of business or one that is very consultative, the desired end result is the same: increased business.

So before you march into the land of marketing make certain that you have:

  • Established a well-oiled sales process
  • Created your follow-up and touch point management program (for long-term ROI on the marketing initiatives)
  • Fine-tuned your sales strategies and techniques

Marketing is great but it’s not a stand-alone. It must be tightly integrated with your sales efforts and if it isn’t, all of your marketing efforts will simply cost you time, money and momentum.

3 Top Tips to Build Sales NOW

August 4, 2011 at 7:25 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training | Leave a comment
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Business has improved a wee bit but certainly not enough for any of us to be cavalier about where our next project is coming from.  Here are three tips to help you build business right now:

1)    Be flexible, creative and make an offer that people WANT. Don’t be rigid and stick to what you’ve always done before. These are different times and old tricks just might not work.  Do you know what your prospects want, what they crave, what they’ll say “yes” to?  You don’t? Then why not do a survey and find out. The best way to increase sales to provide products and services that the market wants.  Even if you’re a superstar salesperson, if they don’t want it, you’ll probably have a difficult time getting them to buy. Why work so hard? Ask the right questions and the market will tell you what they want and need and perhaps even what they will pay for it.

2)    Have you looked at your existing database lately? The fasted ROT (return on time) comes from your existing clients, dormant accounts and even those prospects that never said “yes” but are still in that undecided stage. So take a close look; do it now! Start with the clients that have given you the least amount of business and find out if that is because they truly have no more sales potential or are they giving a portion (perhaps the larger portion) of their business to your competition. (You didn’t really want to leave business on the table, did you?)

3)    How good are you at staying on the grid? If you allow yourself to be “out of sight, out of mind” then you are simply not getting as much out of your prospecting efforts as you should. We are all inundated with marketing messages and if you are “checking in” and “touching base” then you are being banal and not winning the attention and interest of your prospects. Remember the three I’s (information, invitations and introductions). Deploy them and you will be a sales superstar.

Start now; the sooner you take action, the sooner more business will flow into and through your sales funnel.

Any questions, give me a call.

Instant Karma

July 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, Sales Training, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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You know it when it happens. Instant karma, the kind that sets your sales mind soaring and gets your energy sky high.

Yep, instant karma’s gonna win me the business!

Um, not so fast.

As a sales consultant I’ve seen lots of sales gone bad, instances in which a sales rep was absolutely CERTAIN that the deal was in the bag. There was, after all, instant karma.

But guess what, instant karma can’t always save the day. In fact, it rarely does and here’s why:

  • A great connection and good vibes can help pave the way but a less than stellar presentation of benefits and a compelling value proposition are really what seal the deal.
  • A “feel good” conversation often spirals out of business boundaries and there isn’t enough probing to uncover the red flags. Heck, why probe? We’re buds, right?
  • People do business with people they like but people also do business with people that they respect, trust and admire. If you come across as too much of a pal, the respect and admiration might become just a tad diluted.

    Yes, instant karma is fantastic and it sure feels good. It can also aid you in developing and closing business but you can’t minimize the importance of old-fashioned sales skills and techniques.

 

Why Can’t I Close More Business?

July 8, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training | Leave a comment
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This is a question that is put to me with some regularity: “why can’t I close more business? What am I doing wrong?”

Despite the type of business or size of the company, the issue of “difficulty with closing” is put to me by frustrated sales reps, sales managers (usually stated as “why can’t THEY close more business”) and business owners alike.

It’s simple, right? JUST ask for the order. But no, it’s not as simple as that; in fact, it’s not simple at all. Closing is actually one step in a complex sequence that done correctly will help you to win business.

But remember winning new business is the end result! Before you can get to the end there is an intricate sales dance that must be executed flawlessly. What you do first, and then throughout the interaction or series of interactions, will set you up for the “right” to ask for this business.

Follow these steps and you’ll find yourself in a better position to win increased new business.

• Make certain that you have clearly and succinctly explained your service or product’s core value proposition. What “improvements” will you make in your prospect’s business or personal life?
• Utilize exquisite probing to uncover your prospect’s wants and needs as well as to uncover potential hesitancies that will stand in the way of a successful “close”.
• Have a response for all objections and stalls. These are critical moments in the sales dialogue. If you are unprepared you might just lose the prospect’s interest and attention.
• Don’t proceed too quickly. Engage your prospect and allow time for a dialogue. The faster you move through the interaction, the less time to allow the prospect to visualize just how your offering can benefit them.
• Make certain that when you are ready to “ask” for the business it won’t come as a total shock and surprise. Remember that closing is the last step in the sales interaction. It shouldn’t come out of left field.
• Utilize trial closes to get a read on what your prospect is thinking and if they are in sync with what you are offering.
• Timing is everything. Think about your process and adjust as you move through the sales cycle.

At the end of the day prospects need and want you to attempt to close the business. If you don’t, they are left hanging and are uncertain about what to do and, when uncertain, their only recourse is to respond negatively.

So now take a close look at your prospect database. How many of them remain to be closed? What percentage do you think will turn into business and within what time frame?

Pick up the phone and start to deploy some of these tactics and see if you can improve your closing ratio. Start now!:)

How to Make the Sale After Your Fling With Social Media

June 23, 2011 at 7:29 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Marketing, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, social media | 1 Comment
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We are all aware that social media plays a huge role in our current sales and marketing landscape. Creating visibility, softening the market, starting and/or maintaining a dialogue with customers and prospects alike, well, I think we can all agree that’s it’s a pretty terrific tool.

But…and this is a VERY big but, if you have anything other than an internet based business you had better become reacquainted with the importance of old-fashioned sales skills, the kind that existed well before Mark Zuckerberg made his mark or Linkedin became the darling of business prospectors.

Yes for most businesses it is people that woo, wow and win clients and if you forget that fact and get lost in the land of facebook, linkedin and twitter, you might find yourself with less business that you might have had if only you had deployed sales best practices.

–Make sure that you know the value and improvements that your business provides to customers so that you can present these benefits concisely and coherently when engaged in your business prospecting efforts.  To that end, embrace your points of differentiation but be sure that what makes you different is truly what your prospects “want” and need.

–Understand the critical importance of effective probing and seek to uncover everything that you possibly can about your prospects and clients. Asking questions helps to gain rapport and is always more insightful than simply checking their status update.

–Be prepared for pushback and hesitancies. This is always true but especially so during our current economic situation. People are nervous and conservative and it takes extra sales ability to help them to pull the trigger and say “yes”.

–While ABC (always be closing) is a cliché, it is certainly important to be proactive when leading your prospect to a “next step” for that is what closing is, simply a next steps scenario of which both you and your prospects are aware

–Don’t lean on technology instead of the “personal” touch.  Make it a point to reach out and call your prospects and customers on a regular basis. Too overwhelmed and busy to make the calls? Break them up into very small allotments. You CAN make 1-3 calls per day, can’t you?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to underestimate the power of social media. As the owner of a small business, I thrill at the fact that, to a certain extent, it has leveled the marketing playing field. But people do business with people and when companies forget that fact, all the social media in the world won’t save the day.

Do You Ever Stumble?

June 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, Sales Training | Leave a comment
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Sales is most definitely a process. Sure you can throw a bunch of names against that proverbial wall and emerge with, well maybe something, but quite probably all of your effort will be for naught.

Yep, sales is a process. You start with some due diligence to identify your best suspects, develop the most effective marketing materials designed to woo and wow those prospects, schedule sales presentations to help seal the deal and then, of course, deploy exquisite follow-up and follow-through (aka touch point management) to make certain you can carry that new prospect all the way to closure.

Throw in some tracking and measurement and you have a peek at a very simplified sales process. (Yes there are lots of additional steps but you get the point, right?:) )

Ignore any of the requisite steps and you run the risk of failure because all of them—that’s all of them—are critically important to your ultimate sales success.

So take a look at what you’re currently doing.

  1. Are you sure that your marketing materials and web site communicate your brand and message?
  1. Have you constructed a well-integrated sales and marketing campaign?  Marketing may crack open doors and create awareness but it must be solidly tied to sales competencies, processes and follow-up.
  1. Have you identified your best prospects?
  1. Are you utilizing well-crafted touch point initiatives?
  1. Have you instituted a CRM program in order to track your prospect and client activities?

Yes? No?

Don’t stumble. Put this into action now.

Don’t Sweat it This Summer But Don’t Sit On Your A__ Either

June 9, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, Sales Training | Leave a comment
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It’s hot in the summer. Time for the beach, vacations, margaritas and the like.

It’s also a good time to reconnect with inactive clients, get closer to existing accounts and even prospect for new business.

(Altogether now repeat after me: Not EVERYONE goes MIA in the summer!)

Yep, it’s a great time to do some business because well, some other sales people have determined that nothing gets done in the summer. That means there’s less folks out there trying to get those appointments and win the business.

Look at it another way, even if there seems to be less activity, it is a fantastic time to plant seeds for Fall. We all know that we have to hit the ground running in September and isn’ it better to get some traction now rather than try to zoom into action after Labor Day.

So don’t miss out on those margaritas. And certainly take a vacation and do the beach thing too.

But don’t back off from business development or you just might find that your sales pipeline and business revenue stream are pretty skimpy come Fall.

Keeping the Faith—OR—Do Something To Make Certain Those Dormant Accounts Find Their Way Back To You

June 6, 2011 at 7:26 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, small business, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Faith is a wonderful thing and yet having it, in great quantity or not, will do little to help you regain business from dormant accounts.

You know the situation.

The project is completed and there is nothing left to do. You did a good job and the client is more than satisfied but you heard me, there is nothing more for you to do.  (And yes, you’ve explored ALL of the tangential projects as well.)

Yes. It’s over and time to move on to other projects and clients however although you are moving on, must you really get “divorced” from your previous, and now, dormant account?

The answer is a resounding no. Separation perhaps, but not divorce, because there is always the potential of a renewed relationship on yet another project further down the line.

But just how will you get that next project / renew the relationship?

Might it be by “keeping the faith”?  Definitely…NOT!

While faith is fab it does little to renew business relationships. You have to continue to add value to the business relationship even when that relationship is in a hiatus period. You want to maintain a connection but you must do it in a way that provides a benefit. That means sharing information and invitations. Extending worthwhile introductions. It doesn’t mean “checking in” or “touching base” and other overtures that will waste your (inactive) client’s time.

Yes, maintaining the relationship in such a manner that your reach-outs are desired.

So feel free to keep the faith but make certain to deploy sound sales and marketing tactics too. Then, and only then, might you see that client again.

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