You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello

March 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Posted in sales | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

You say goodbye and I say hello.

But here’s the thing, I’m not referring to the disconnect in our personal lives but rather the disconnect that can occur in our business relationships as well.

  • The client is pleased with the work you’re doing but you’re losing money for each hour that you work on the project.
  • You are attempting to do everything that the client asks but somehow no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to meet their demands.
  • The client is convinced that you are overcharging them despite the fact that you have kept them apprised of the hours accrued and dollars spent every step of the way.

You say goodbye and I say hello. It all boils down to simple communication. Or as it seems to be in many situations, not so simple communication.

In my almost 25 years in business I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to communicating. Everyone seems to agree that it’s critical to be on point in all business situations but just how to do so can be a bit elusive.

Here are a few things that you can do:

  • Document everything. Seems simple doesn’t it but how many times has there been no email trail to fall back upon when a miscommunication arises.
  • Attempt to make everything clear and concise right from the beginning. If you start with ambiguity it will only get more confusing with time.
  • Don’t let matters fester. If you feel that there is a disconnect address it immediately before it gets blown out of proportion.
  • Kiss…yup “keep it simple stupid.” Don’t make things unnecessarily complicated.
  • Agree to disagree but also agree to try and work it out if and when a problem arises.

Keeping these few rules in mind will help to ensure better communication and more smooth business relationships.

Remember, we can work it out.

Advertisements

Everybody Loves A Winner

February 21, 2012 at 8:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

That’s right, everybody loves a winner. We all tend to gravitate towards the people that are positive and confident, enthusiastic and well, joyful.  And while they might not ALWAYS be a winner of new business and corresponding revenues, they seem to approach things with an upbeat attitude and don’t dwell on what is bad.

How do you come across? Are you generally positive and upbeat or do you reply to the question “how are you doing” with a somewhat morose “hanging in there”.

Everybody loves a winner or at least everybody loves someone that doesn’t bring them down. Maybe the sympathy vote works with your family and perhaps even your friends but don’t try to use it with your business contacts and at business gatherings. (You’ll find people flee from you like from the plague.)

Times are tough. We’re all out there slugging away and trying to make it. Everybody likes a winner or at least the person that communicates as if they are one or are confident that success is in their future.

You’ve Made Me So Very Happy

February 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

You’ve made me so very happy.

You’ve experienced it right….that very first rush of sheer joy that comes with the word “yes” spoken by a prospect that you’ve been trying to win for so very long.  They’re now a client!

Yep, it was a long haul. The proposal went out and then there was the usual waiting (and guessing) game. Calls and emails back and forth and true to your stellar sales competencies you were able to stay on their radar screen. Damn right! Stayed on the grid and yes, won the business. Okay sure, there had to be a little re-negotiation and so maybe the terms of that original proposal were changed, but what the heck you’re thinking, that client is MINE and they’ve made me so very happy.

That is until that re-negotiation on terms and budget has pretty much eaten away all of the profit in the project. In fact, you are almost losing money for every hour spent on their work and the pleasure that came from the win is starting to wan now that the economics of the situation are more evident.

Sound at all familiar?  Salespeople tend to be a pretty emotional lot and just to be safe, need to follow a few guidelines BEFORE bursting with unbridled joy about winning a new client. Here ya go:

  1. Make sure that any re-negotiation is really something that you can live with financially. Don’t bend on price until you are totally certain that you can “afford” to do the program.
  2. Don’t let your emotions color your business sense. Evaluate the project carefully and then determine how / if it fits into your core competencies.  Having a client say “yes” to a project that you are not fully comfortable delivering is one that should be cause for extra caution.
  3. No matter how willing you are to simply give in to win the project, a successful negotiation calls for flexibility and concessions from both parties. When it’s a one-sided negotiation, the project is pretty much doomed from the beginning.

So be careful and make sure that the happiness you’re experiencing doesn’t cost you time and money in the long-run. Take your time, evaluate carefully and you’ll wind up with a more mutually advantageous project.

How a Busy Sales Trainer Can Also Be a First-rate People Connector

January 18, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Posted in Networking | 2 Comments
Tags: , ,

The other day I announced via social media that I had made a New Year’s commitment that called for me to make 10 (networking) introductions per day.

Yep, that’s right. 10.

I immediately received a barrage of emails from folks that were simply incredulous. “How in heaven’s name do you have the time to do that?”. “How in heaven’s name do you know that many people?” (Really, “heaven” was mentioned several times:) )

Simple I said and so in the hopes of shedding some light on my methodology (some might say madness) I decided to share my tips:

1.  I set a quantitative goal and like I said, my particular number is ten. But, that doesn’t have to be your goal, not at all. The important thing is to have a goal and to stick to it. No excuses, just do it. You know that you can. (Hint, like with all goals you should set one that is a wee bit of a stretch but can definitely be achieved if you work at it.)

2.  I’m incredibly proactive and by adopting that model, I am better able to make a higher volume of introductions.  I don’t wait for low hanging networking fruit (“Hey Adrian, do you know someone that can……”). Rather I look for connections that might have longer-term value and don’t necessarily equate to an immediate piece of business.

3.  I keep in mind that introductions to referral sources are as good as, and maybe even better than, introductions to a client. One good referral source can equate to many introductions which should (potentially) lead to business. A client is, well a client…a good thing for sure, but might not turn into many additional referrals over time. (We all know that some clients are truly raving fans and tell many others about our products/services. That’s terrific but there are just as many clients that are very closed-mouthed and don’t spread the word regardless of how pleased they are with our business.)

4.  I keep (mental) track of the folks to whom I make introductions. So, for instance, if you tell me that you network with and get lots of business from ____ firms, I do everything in my power to introduce you to as many ____ firms as I know.  So for example, if you’re on the receiving end of those introductions from me you should be thinking  like this:  Gee, since Adrian is introducing me to so many ____ firms, perhaps she’s like to know more of those types of companies too. Maybe I’ll introduce her to the ones that I know and that she doesn’t.   Makes sense doesn’t it?

5.  I try very hard to be creative when making introductions.  Let’s say that you know some of your contacts share a particular hobby. That might be enough to start to a terrific relationship that can potentially yield lots of business opportunities. How about introducing two of  your own business vendors to each other recognizing that since they are going after similar types of clients (i.e. owners of small business) and since they are not competitive they can probably help each other big-time.  How about 2 people that actually do the same thing but who specialize and work in different segments. They might be able to refer business to each other. You never know and if you don’t make introductions, the possibilities are crushed before they even start.

So there ya have it. Just a few ideas on how to be a more prolific networker.  Told you that it was simple.

Help Me, I Think I’m Falling In Love Again

January 16, 2012 at 11:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Oh Joni, I don’t know what it is. Could be that I’ve been working so hard to win new business or maybe I’m just plain easy and want to love those new prospects that come my way, but really, shouldn’t I have learned my lesson by NOW, 24 years after launching this business.

Are you like me? Do you fall in love with clients so quickly that it makes you blind to signals screaming out watch it, this client just might not turn out the way you want!

Do you believe so strongly in yourself that you just “know” that you can make it good, make it better and well, make it right?

I know that I’ve fallen into that love-trap more times than I really wish to admit but well, maybe I’ve gotten more cynical, less needy or just plain smarter and recognize all of the red flags BEFORE I get into trouble.

For instance:

  • The project is so far out of your sweet spot that you’re going to lose money, time, sleep and credibility for every minute that you’re working on it.
  • The client is asking you to do things that just don’t feel right  (defer billing, overlook something that seems legally binding, talks poorly about your competitors). You know what I mean, right?
  • The decision-makers at the client change so frequently that you can’t even keep track of them and you’re losing time and money in meeting after meeting where you meet the “new” client team.
  • The “direction” of the project changes multiple times while you’re still in proposal stage.

It’s nice to be in love with clients but a good dose of reality should keep the stars out of your eyes.

And when all else fails, a good pre-nup can help you to avoid a financially devastating and business crushing divorce.

The

How to Overcome Objections & Stalls

November 11, 2011 at 8:15 am | Posted in Sales Training | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , ,

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!

 

 

 

 

No Reply

November 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

As we head towards the end of 2011 I’ve been starting to review my sales results for the year, the clients that I’ve won, the ones that I have lost and the prospects that are in limbo.  It’s this last category “limbo” that causes me quite a bit of angst because I simply don’t understand why it has to be.

Let me clarify.

My prospects that are in limbo (aka unresponsive) are folks that I have met with and at the conclusion of the meeting asked me to submit a proposal for services. (Key into those all-important words please…they asked me to submit a written proposal as a follow-up to the meeting).

Now before I go on please understand that I am particularly rigorous in my “screening and qualifying” of potential clients. I want to make certain that there is a good fit between the services that I provide and the requirements that they have. I’ve been known to turn down a Request for Proposal. I don’t think that it is worth anyone’s time to propose something that you know you can’t do well.

And maybe that’s why I am particularly flummoxed by the prospects in my sales funnel that are MIA.

Of course I’ve attempted to follow-up and have used all sorts of methods to get back in touch. My voice mail messages are compelling, my emails well-positioned and still, nothing.

Why is that?

  • Are these folks feeling shy because they asked for a proposal for services but knew they didn’t have the budget? (I always inquire about budget before submitting a plan.)
  • Did they suddenly lose their decision-making power or did they fool me all along into thinking that they had that responsibility?
  • Are they particularly adverse to any sort of confrontation and do they perhaps think that by rejecting the proposal they might prompt a hostile response from me?

It seems that falling off the prospect grid happens a bit more often now even when I pay scrupulous attention to making certain that the proposals are truly desired.

And it’s not just me. I’m hearing this from more and more of my business colleagues and from my own clients as well.

Yes, there seems to be an increase in “no reply” and all we salespeople can do is just keep trying.

So remember that you can’t lose what you don’t have. Be persistent in your follow-up and don’t automatically “assume” that the prospect isn’t interested.

No reply isn’t no. You deserve an answer.

No Reply!

WTF!!! Why Network If You’re Not Going to Play The Game?

November 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Networking | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Excuse me if I sound a bit exasperated but well, I am. Seems there’s quite a bit of NFT (no follow-through) going around these days and honestly, I can’t figure out why. Sure we’re all busy but that’s not a good, or even rational, reason.

The simple question:  Why bother going to networking breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings and NOT continue to network AFTER the event?

You know the deal. You attend a meeting or event and circulate around the room, making contacts, exchanging cards and doing what needs to be done to START the business ball rolling.

Yes, that’s right…START the business dance but certainly not finish it while at the event.

Business development takes nurturing, time and attention.  You need to establish mutual respect before any sort of introductions can be made and this respect can only be established in (ongoing) follow-up conversations and meetings.

The blatant truth:  if you don’t take the initiative to reach out proactively and/or respond to your networking contacts you are simply wasting your time going to these events in the first place.  You might as well stay home.

 

Do You Believe in Magic (aka best practices on how to NOT win more new business)

October 31, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Posted in sales | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Do you believe in magic?

These last few months of 2011 are extremely important not only to scoop up every last remaining piece of business but to also lay the groundwork for 2012.  There’s lots of work to be done, magic be damned. Elves and fairies have nothing to do with it…or do they? What are YOU doing to develop the kind of revenue stream that you want? (Wishing, waiting and hoping do not count as strategies.)

Okay, now that we know that wishing on a star doesn’t mean a thing, let’s take a close look at the actions that can make a difference:

Action 1:  Go through your database with a fine toothcomb and pay critical attention to dormant accounts and proposals that were never won. Can companies in these two categories be resurrected? And what about your existing accounts? Are you getting ALL of their business or are you leaving some of their business on the table? If you are then consider yourself open and vulnerable to the competition because you can be sure they will try to come in and snatch up your share of the work as well.

Action 2:  Are you engaging in “strategic” networking or are you simply attending as many events as you can. This quantity vs. quality approach will ultimately cost you valuable time and henceforth money and can you really afford to waste either?  (I thought not.) Develop a strategic networking plan paying careful attention to the events and groups that you visit and join. Remember that “6 degrees of separation” is an important networking mantra. One or two good “people connectors” can be vastly important in your business development efforts since they can “lead” you to an infinite number of contacts and connections that may ultimately turn into business.

Action 3:  Now that you’re re-engaging with select prospects and clients in your database and are networking with care, you MUST develop an effective “touch point management” system. Business development is like a garden. You plant seeds but then you must nurture them in order to have anything grow. It’s the same with business development. Unless you are engaged in a highly transactional business, generating clients takes time.  And you MUST stay on the radar screen of everyone that you deem “worthy” whether they are a potential client or even an influential referral source. (Utilize the three I’s for the best results!)

Action 4:  Throw pennies into a fountain. Okay, not really but if you are not doing all of the above, you just might believe in magic and you never know, maybe those pennies might be just the ticket to sales success.

Bouncing On The Marketing Mattress

October 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

A great brand and superb marketing materials can really help a company to establish visibility and credibility with it’s audience. So too can PR and advertising help to pave the way to a successful service or product.

But they simply pave the way or in my mind, they are the mattress upon which sales must bounce.

A fantastic sales rep can close business without the benefit of marketing collateral and a brand promise.  Yes, they can, although they have to work harder and longer in order to do so.

Marketing helps the sales effort.

But make no mistake about it, marketing does not pull through closed business. It can help…it does help but people, processes and qualified sales reps acting on exquisitely crafted sales campaigns are what really generates most new business.

Most sales consultants know this is true and so when they meet a prospect they often (always?) inquire about the marketing campaign that is in the wings. They also review the web site, social media platforms and other such marketing initiatives that are “out there” for all to see.

But rarely, and I do mean rarely, do marketing professionals ask definitve questions about the prospect’s planned sales campaign that will integrate with their marketing program. It’s almost as if they are engaged in marketing for marketing’s sake.

How do I know this?  Simple. I’ve been a sales consultant for 24 years and I can count on one hand the number of times that our firm has been brought in by the marketers working on a program.  Yet in a large volume of our projects we make a concerted effort to identify the right marketing resources for the job and then send out RFPs to help us / our client make our selection.

I’m not sure why this schism exists but it does. I also know that clients would be better served if we all just played nicely together.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.