How To Overcome Objections

October 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Oh my. This oldie but goodie topic will never go away not as long as there are suspects and prospects that don’t “immediately” acquiesce and buy your product or service.

  • No need
  • All set
  • Have no money
  • Have no budget
  • Happy with whom we are currently using
  • Under contract
  • My brother takes care of that for us
  • No time to deal with that right now

And so on.  If you’re in sales you’ve heard some (or all) of these at one time or another.

So, what’s a sales person to do?

Okay, let me start by stating what not to do.  Just because a prospect has offered a bit of pushback DON’T immediately back down and assume that you should simply offer to send them information and get the hell off the phone, out the door…whatever!

Ouch.

Don’t immediately offer to be a second source or fallback supplier.

Ouch.

And don’t immediately say that you’ll “check in” with them in another few months to see if their needs have changed.

Ouch.

All of these are far too passive and unless you are fortunate enough to sustain your business with simply picking “low hanging fruit” then I suggest you consider some of these tried and true approaches:

The “We’ve Heard That Before” approach

3 simple steps but done exquisitely and you’re golden.

  • John, I can appreciate that you think that way
  • We’ve had other clients say the same thing when we initially started to speak with them
  • What they found out, however, is that we have been able to effectively reduce / enhance / increase their __________ and the results have been wonderful. How are you _________

This approach requires that you understand exactly how your product or service will equate to an improvement in the prospect’s situation and are prepared to restate this improvement in your rebuttal. You end the rebuttal with an open-ended question that allows for the dialogue to continue.

 

The “Maybe You Didn’t Hear Me: Restate / Rephrase Benefits” approach

I hear you. What if we could RESTATE THE CORE BENEFITS PLATFORM SPECIFIC TO THEIR REVEALED NEEDS. Would that be of value to you?

Once again you are going to take this opportunity to restate benefits but make certain to draw a line between the improvements you are offering and the current situation they are in.

 

The “Step Down But Not Away” approach

That’s understandable. We’d welcome the opportunity to show you how / what we do. How about if we work it this way…PROVIDE A DIFFERENT SOLUTION / ALTERNATIVE

No one likes change and inertia is the biggest obstacle that you will encounter. Make it easy for your prospect to buy. Be out front with them and explain you’d like the opportunity to show them what you can do (on a small project or assignment) and that you are not asking for them to change the way that they are currently doing things without doing a small trial run first.

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t simply ignore the propsect’s concerns and objections. They won’t go away and you can’t bully them into submission. You must “earn the right” to win their business and in order to do so you must be respectful and address their issues.

And of course the very best strategy is to make sure that you are probing and addressing the prospect’s concerns at every step of the selling process. Doing a “gut check” and getting a read on what they are thinking / feeling is an effective way to make certain that you are not blind-sided at the end of the sales dialogue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Ask for Business Without Being a Pushy Salesman

October 9, 2011 at 11:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The following post was written by David Ackert, Founder of Practice Boomers.  I agree with David; as you know I preach a very consultative and solutions oriented approach to business development and sales. As a sales trainer, I know that it generates the best results!

Here’s what David has to say, especially as it relates to sales and professional services providers:

When I speak to groups, I often ask for a show of hands to this question: “How many of you regularly ask your clients or referral sources for business?” Consistently, only 10–15% of the audience raises their hands. The other 85% confess that they aren’t very proactive when it comes to growing their practice. They wait for their clients to think of them, then they react and provide service, then they wait for the next email or telephone call.

When I ask them why they proceed in this passive fashion, they ultimately give the same reason: They don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. They don’t want to come across like a pushy salesman.

Who can blame them? We’ve all had that moment just before dinner time when we answer the phone from a blocked caller only to be bombarded with a sales monologue from the local carpet cleaner or cable provider. On they drone about their unique cleaning formula, and two minutes later we’re still waiting for them to pause long enough so we can tell them we’re not interested and hang up.

The thing that irritates me most about the sales tactic isn’t the pitch itself, it’s the manipulation. If they had called and asked me if I was interested in hearing what they had to say about their services, I could have said “yes” or “no” without much inconvenience. The exchange would have taken five seconds.

But the worst of the telemarketers waste my time and leave me feeling like I’ve been forced to listen to a scripted pitch, irrespective of my interest level. My only recourse is to hang up on them. Either way, the call leaves me grumpy.

Now, you’re not a telemarketer. And the services you provide are much more sophisticated than carpet cleaning. But since there is such an overwhelming concern that any direct attempt at selling our services will be reminiscent of a hard sell, we can learn a valuable lesson from the missteps of the pushy and eliminate the risk of sounding like them.

If you force the buyer into a sales conversation about a service they don’t want, you’re sure to turn them off. But if you are respectful of their time, if you propose a dialogue that explores their needs, if you listen and respond to them rather than manipulate them through a script—you will leave the ranks of the many who wait for business, and join the 15% who know how to ask for the business they want.

So the next time you’re meeting with a client, ask them questions that will begin a business dialogue. Something along the lines of “How is business? or “How is the year going for you?” If that doesn’t work, just be honest with them. Tell them that asking for business is uncomfortable for you and inquire if they’ve ever been asked for business in a way that was natural and respectful. Their advice may illuminate the very approach you’ve been hoping to find.

 

David Ackert is the Founder of Practice Boomers®, a business development E-Learning program for professional service providers. He is also the President of The Ackert Advisory™ which provides business development coaching and training for service firms and their professionals.

Maximize Your One-to-One Communication

October 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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My guest blogger Diane Diresta is a speaking strategist, professional speaker and consultant and I think that her insights here are incredibly important and relevant to salespeople in EVERY industry.

Here’s what Diane has to say about one-to-one communication (because after all, isn’t that how we sell!)

One-on-one conversations happen more frequently than any other kind of communication. One of the biggest mistakes people make when speaking one-to-one, is not treating it as a presentation.  While people prepare extensively for group presentations, when it comes to one-to-one, they wing it. Even the most casual conversation benefits from preparation.

Speaking to an individual is different from the group experience. Whether you’re training someone, selling, coaching, or asking for a raise, here are some tips for speaking one-to-one.

Eliminate distractions. Choose a comfortable setting-perhaps your office or a conference room with good lighting. Block off distracting window views and minimize interruptions. Clear the table of clutter.

Sit next to the person at eye level. Sit side by side rather than across a desk from each other. This has psychological and physical effects. It creates a feeling of being on the same side and allows both people to look at materials from the same perspective.

Maintain good eye contact but don’t stare. In a group, you make eye contact with everyone. With individuals, you don’t want to lock eyes. Break eye contact from time to time. A good guide is to look at the person 70% of the time.

Use visual aids. Props, pictures, and objects can serve as effective visual aids. Visuals are important learning tools, and you shouldn’t overlook them in a one-to-one situation. Be sure your visuals are appropriate to the situation. A few carefully placed props and occasional use of a table easel can enhance your presentation.

Clarify but don’t repeat questions. In a large group, you repeat the question so that everyone can hear it. But in one-to-one settings, the same technique would be silly. You may ask for clarification: “Are you saying that you need more practice?” Or you may restate the question in your answer: “The procedure for this project is…”

Maintain a comfortable physical distance. Don’t invade the other person’s space. When sitting side by side, don’t lean in or take over the person’s materials. Ask permission to demonstrate with or alter their materials.

Pause. The brain needs a few seconds to process information. Don’t overload the learner with too much data. Pause between thoughts to let the information sink in.

Use smaller gestures. Show enthusiasm and get involved with the learner. Allow yourself to be natural and expressive. But contain your gestures, because the physical space is smaller in one-to-one situations. Wide, sweeping movements will seem out of place.

Prepare and organize. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re working with only one person. Whether you train one person or a hundred, the preparation is the same. Without adequate preparation, you’ll seem disorganized and unprofessional. Prepare an outline and establish time frames.

Watch for nonverbal cues. In a group, different personalities react in diverse ways. Someone in the group will often say what others are thinking. In a one-to-one situation, however, the person may feel reluctant to tell you that he or she needs a break or doesn’t understand. Watch for body language and continually check back: “You look like you disagree.” “Are you ready for a break?” “Is this something you can use on the job?”

Whether you’re speaking to one person or a thousand, communication happens one- to- one.  It’s all public speaking.

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.

Don’t Worry Baby

September 20, 2011 at 6:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Don’t Worry Baby was a pop hit released by the Beach Boys in 1964.

Don’t worry baby

Everything will turn out all right

Agh. If only the Beach Boys were spot on but the sorry truth is that everything does not always turn out all right neither in love nor in business. You know that things can fall apart, clients (lovers) go astray, projects get won and then lost in an amazingly short amount of time, your sales funnel gets constipated…well, you know the drill.

But are you a “don’t worry baby” kind of businessperson? Do you think that everything is going to be all right?

I don’t want to be typecast as some sort of business “downer” but things aren’t going to be all right unless YOU make them so. Here’s how:

1)    Don’t be a vendor. Repeat after me…don’t be a vendor. Vendors are marginalized out of existence, they can be bought and sold with little impact and there is little, if any loyalty. What do you want to be instead? Well, a business resource of course. Someone that your client cannot do without, someone that helps them in ways that would never be expected and is the go-to person when there is a question or problem.

2)    Yes, it comes back to staying on the grid. You better worry if you’ve allowed yourself to be invisible and out of contact. Staying on the radar screen is as easy as the three I’s: invitations, introductions and information. Deploy these three faithfully and you’ll see how easy it is to be visible.

3)    Make sure that your customer service is exceptional, not good, but exceptional. Conduct Voice of Customer surveys to make certain that you are getting honest and important feedback from the very people that you are looking to maintain and grow.

4)    Sales funnel got ya down? What are you doing to keep it filled? Are you actively going after new prospects at the same time as you are moving existing prospects further through the funnel and, hopefully, out the end as new business.  No matter how busy you are you can’t stop prospecting. That’s a rule.

The good news is that by doing all of the above you don’t have to worry, baby.

Have You Abandoned Your Social Media?

September 12, 2011 at 7:58 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training | 2 Comments
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I truly appreciate the following blog post by Julie Levitch, of SayCurrent but I feel the need to chime in with another “must-do”.

Even WHEN you have ongoing execution of your social media campaign and have captured the eyes of readers on Facebook, Linkedin, your blog and more, you MUST have a follow-up sales program in place or you will surely not recognize the ROI that you should be getting.  Sales is a people game. The social media cocktail party tees you up but YOU have to hit the ball!

From Julie:

Social media continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Multi-national corporations, local restaurants, and retailers of all sizes are setting up Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and blogs to engage their audiences and hopefully increase their sales. This is all good stuff!

But, what we’re seeing over and over again are businesses that have gone through the efforts to start social media campaigns, only to give up after a short while. We’ve even happened upon several large-scale companies that have all but abandoned their Facebook pages and blogs. What’s going on here?

We think we have the answer. Businesses spend the time and money for the initial setup of their online marketing efforts, but don’t consider the ongoing investment in maintaining them. Social media is not a one- time project! It’s a process, and the longer you keep it going, the more successful it becomes.

Part of developing a social media plan is figuring out who is going to execute it over months and years. If you have someone in-house to do this, then consider yourself lucky, and give them the time to get the work done! If you don’t know who is going to do it, find an outsourced social media provider who can become part of your team to generate the copy and manage the flow.

Neglecting your already established social media efforts is literally akin to paying for a space at a tradeshow and not showing up. There are huge opportunities in social media for those who take the time to generate fresh content and keep their online communities engaged. So, if you haven’t updated your blog in months and have no idea who is “liking” you on Facebook, it may be time to regroup and start again!

Big Girls Don’t Cry

September 6, 2011 at 7:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Big girls don’t cry over:

• Prospects that ultimately say “no”
• Clients that decide to reduce their retainer
• Vendors that raise their fees
• Networking intros that “go south”

Nope. Big girls don’t do that.

Here’s what they do:

• They go out and assertively find more prospects using some of those time-proven techniques like phone and mail integrated with social media, PR and more

• They continually work with clients providing extra value and benefits and become a true business resource (and not a vendor)

• They ask for introductions and referrals to sources that provide the best work for the best price and insist on getting competitive bids when prices seem to be out of whack

• They understand that not all networking connections will be valuable and are prepared to not get discouraged and just move on

Are you a big girl (or boy?) Do you let any of these situations get you down, throw you off your game and ultimately put you and your business in a vulnerable position?

Remind yourself that you can move forward even when adversity hits you. Be resourceful and stay true to your goals. And, no crying (or at least not for long.)

What to Do If and When Your Networking Contacts Don’t Reciprocate

August 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Networking | 1 Comment
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Here’s the situation.

You’re a diligent and thoughtful networker, trying at all times to help your networking contacts with introductions and contacts. When you can do so, you make direct introductions to potential clients; at other times, you help people get connected to other influential connectors and referral sources.

You’re fairly diligent about it, and not a week goes by without some sort of introductions being made.

And…you don’t EXPECT anything in return. Well, not really.

So, does this describe you?

Okay, if so, then you know that at some point you might want/need to be so forthright as to ask some of your networking contacts for specific introductions for yourself, maybe not to a specific company but perhaps to a suitable category of business.

Okay then. You make your request in person or perhaps through email or the phone. And nothing happens. The request is either totally ignored or the person says that they’ll “get back to you with some names and introductions”.

And again, nothing happens. What’s a networker to do?

I get asked this question quite often and this same situation has even happened to me causing me to ponder…well…next steps.

Here they are:

1. Make certain that you have made your initial request loud, clear and unambiguous. This is not the time to be coy; make sure that your request for contacts leaves nothing to the imagination.
2. Be sure that you haven’t asked for introductions or connections to folks with whom your networking contact has absolutely no involvement. Be confident that the person that you are asking does, in fact, have the desired relationships.
3. Give the person a wee bit of time. While we live in an era of “Internet time” not everyone moves at the speed of light and your request might languish for a few days or weeks until such time as it rises to the top of the ” to do” list.
4. If you have done the above and are still not receiving the introductions that you feel “should” be coming your way, you can do the following:

A. Make your request again and ask the contact for the reason/s that the intros are not forthcoming. Do this gently as it might be uncomfortable and even if you believe this person has not risen to the networking “occasion” they are still in your networking circle of contacts and you want to maintain a positive relationship.

B. Move on and forget about it, realizing that not everyone is as receptive to the idea of making introductions for others.

C. Think about if there are any unspoken or underlying reasons why the introductions are not being made. Does this person have a better relationship with someone else that does exactly what you do? Have they ever been “burned” by an introduction and therefore are very loathe to feel that vulnerable again? Do they not respect the quality of your work? Be honest with yourself!

Most of all, don’t let the non-responsive folks “get you down” and cause you to lose your enthusiasm and interest in helping others with introductions and referrals. While it might not always come back to you (even when you ask!), it’s still the right thing to do.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Your Sales Results are Suffering

August 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, sales | 1 Comment
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If your sales results are less than good (great?), please ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you “rely” on email for prospecting and reactivating dormant accounts rather than using the telephone to make personal contact?
  1. Have you slacked off on your networking efforts resulting in a greatly reduced volume of new contacts and connections?
  1. How much new business prospecting have you been doing? (Really!)
  1. Have you taken a good look at your product or service offerings? (When was the last time that you did an in-depth SWOT analysis?)
  1. Are you “depending” upon social media to do much of the business development work for you and are you thinking that your web site and marketing efforts are most of what you need to win new business?

What were your answers? Do you need to make some changes?  If so, move fast because the all important Fall selling season is upon us.

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg (Mmm, Perhaps)

August 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training | 1 Comment
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Ain’t too proud to beg.

Times are tough and there’s no need to belabor the point. We get it.

Our clients (and potential clients) get it too and so we’re all in this together, trying to keep our collective heads above water, go about our business and do what it is we do to keep our businesses afloat (dare I even say profitable!).

So if we’re all in this together then why is that some clients keep trying to extract that extra ounce of blood, get their project implemented at an even lower price, going over and beyond in all of their wants and needs and insisting that we simply acquiesce to their demands.

It’s difficult to be an agreeable sort, to provide extra value and be proactive when you feel battered and bruised when winning the business.

It sometimes seems that they want us to beg.

Note to clients everywhere:  Play fair. Provide fair compensation for worthy work, be honest and forthcoming and don’t try to get something for nothing. (Maybe I should write that into every client’s playbook!).

Unfortunately that isn’t the case and again, since times are difficult many companies have to cave in to the demands of their clients.

But I ask you to consider this when dealing with “these” clients:

–Are you LOSING money for every hour that you work on that client’s program?
–Is executing the project causing a major drain on morale?
–Is the client causing your staff to burn-out?

Can you even AFFORD to take on this project?

Sometimes we have to just say “no” and turn-down and walk away from a client, and it’s a tough thing to do, especially when winning new business is as difficult as it is. You want to win and retain business based on mutual benefits. Begging, caving in and being beaten down by a client’s unreasonable demands should not be acceptable.

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