Simple Sales Tracking Blog

The best time to plant a tree

Many businesses delay training of any sort as they see it as a burden not an investment, it’s just something they have to do.

But consider that sales is the only function of your business that actually brings in an income. I was speaking with a colleague the other day who was deciding if they should bring on another accounts person or a new salesperson. They remarked that hiring a salesperson would be a no-brainer as they “pay for themselves”.

The same goes for sales training, it is something that pays for itself. Our clients are able to measure and see the results in a relatively short time frame.

Most of us start off in business with no formal sales training in place. We just wing it for as long as we can and hope for the best.

If however you have discovered you have a need for sales training it is best to act immediately (if the resources are available)

You have to ask yourself, what do I have to gain by putting off the training and more importantly what do I stand to lose?

There are many reasons that may cause you to put off training, some common ones are “What if I train them and they leave?”… This is a valid point, but the flip side to this is, what if they stay and don’t have the tools necessary to bring in new business, or mess up a big deal?”

Another common one is that they are too busy to implement training; they are right in the middle of their busy season and couldn’t possibly spare the time. What often happens is three months later the work finishes up and they are left scrambling for new prospects.

By not having a strong sales process, you risk missing out on prospects that you may have got across the line. Perhaps it was that one question you didn’t ask or that one prospect you forgot to follow up. Training helps us to plan ahead for quiet times so we aren’t stuck cold calling during our off season.

Sales is like anything in business, if you put a process around it, it functions better. They say – what gets measured gets managed. Consider the following questions to see if you may need a stronger sales process –

1. Do I have a standardized process or questioning method for interviews, or do I ‘play it by ear’ ‘let them do the talking’ or ‘show and tell’.
2. How am I managing the prospects in my sales funnel? Do I keep a record of our conversations to measure what stage they are at in the deal?
3. How do I manage my existing clients and what products they buy from me, what are they buying from other sources that I could be providing? What percentage wallet share do I have with each?

If you have been considering training your team or yourself, the best time to do it is now. You will see immediate benefits and a solid return on investment.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”–Chinese Proverb

Hayden Burgess
Sales Associate
Sales Impact Group

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

So how much is this going to cost me? aka “Don’t drop your pants on price”

I was with a client the other day and they mentioned a conversation they recently had with a prospect.

After a warm referral they made the initial phone contact, and a few minutes into the call the prospect asked the dreaded question “Can you give me a price? My current provider charges $$$ what can you do it for?”

This left the client stuck, as the price mentioned was his standard hourly rate he paid his staff and so was not even in the running.

Don’t worry though; we all get tripped up from time to time when it comes to these types of questions around price.

Here are some ideas to help you negotiate your way around that nasty elephant in the room we call ‘price’.

– First off, don’t ask about their budget. This is one of the biggest no nos in sales. If you do this, you have already created a ceiling. If you come in higher than the price they expect to pay for your offering, you will have a battle on your hands to get them to come round to your price point.

– However, if they ask about price early on, you can reply by simply saying “I need to know more about your needs before I can give you a price. All our solutions are customised to the client” – you can’t prescribe until you have done a full diagnosis.

– Watch out for benefit buckshot, as this can kill you in a sales interview. Benefit buckshot is when you reel off the benefits of using your product or service in quick succession. It’s kind of like shooting a shotgun in the air and hoping a duck is flying past. More often than not the client then says “well we are already getting that from our current supplier, how much discount can you give me if we don’t include that in the price”. Be wary of this and remember – It’s only a benefit if the prospect tells you it’s a benefit.

– Another key thing to remember is not to sell on the phone. If you have been referred to a prospect, the only outcome you want from that first initial phone call is an appointment to meet in person. Otherwise you may find yourself having to justify yourself or sell on the phone. Questions like “what can you do for me” and “what makes you different from my current supplier” are killer and best avoided or handled in person.

– When you start to negotiate on price, or even justify why you charge a certain amount, you are arguing with the prospect. The key to getting around this is showing the return on investment that your prospect will receive if they go with you. This may mean they save money or make money. Either way, by showing a strong return on investment, you will avoid having to stand up for your pricing, or debate about your price points.

– Ok, so if you really have to drop your price, then for goodness sake change your deliverables!! If they insist on paying less, then perhaps they pay more up front, or you may suggest a staged delivery. But remember, if you are crafting the perfect solution for your client; beware about cutting corners here and there in order to make it more appealing financially. If you change the price you must change the conditions!

Happy Selling!

Hayden Burgess
Sales Trainer and Programme Developer
Sales Impact Group

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy

How many sales are you losing through poor Sales Process?

“To train or not to train?” – that is the question

Many businesses spend thousands of dollars on marketing and advertising to generate inquiries and yet spend nothing on training their salespeople to convert these same inquiries into sales.

A common misconception is that if the salesperson has great product knowledge they can make the sale. These types of salespeople rely on what we term “show and tell” selling which leads to price focused buyers rather than needs based selling.

Many sales are lost as a result of poor or even non-existent sales processes. The analogy I often use is when baking a cake you follow a recipe and if you do you get the same result each time. When you decide to change the recipe and say use less baking powder you may still get something that is edible but not the best result.

Well it is the same with many salespeople who have never had any formal sales training – they may have a recipe/process they are following but some of the key ingredients may be missing, resulting in missed sales which invariably leads to increased cost of sales not to mention lost sales revenue.

When you consider the cost of making a sales call can be from $90 to $500 depending on type of call and then take into account the lost opportunity costs it often comes down to leaving sales to chance.

I meet many businesses who would gain immediate sales from sales systems but will delay sometimes up to 12 months before starting.

The great thing about sales training is that it is entirely measurable and the return on investment can be seen almost immediately.

The cost of missed sales can be huge even for small businesses. An example might be a business where an average client may spend $200 per month over 12 months – this adds up to $2400 p.a. If the average client stays loyal to this business for 5 years then the average lifetime value is $12,000.

Now if our untrained salesperson is fumbling one sale per week over 46 weeks this amounts to $552,000 in lost business and over 5 years this could come to $2,760,000 and remember this is per salesperson.

Quote:

From Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company, who once was asked by a wholesaler why he invested so much in training his people, when ultimately they might leave.

His reply was “what if I didn’t train them, and they stayed?”

Action Steps:

Review your sales processes – do you have systems for:

• Asking for referrals
• Managing new leads
• Identifying potential prospects
• Making appointments using the telephone
• Conducting sales interviews
• Quantifying your prospect’s problem in dollar terms

Hayden Burgess is a Sales Trainer with Sales Impact Group

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , ,

Starting 2016 the right way

I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas and New Year’s break, it’s crazy to think we are already one month into 2016.

With that in mind, I wanted to write about one facet of something that many of us have a challenge with. I’m talking about prospecting and more specifically, referrals.

Let’s start the New Year off prospecting strong with these three tips to get the most out of your referral system.

  1. DON’T OVER-QUALIFY YOUR LEADS
  • Many of us make the mistake of thinking too much about if a prospect is right for us, all we should be asking is – Do they potentially have a need for what we offer? If yes then add them to your suspect list.
  • The same goes for the person referring, if you are making an introduction for a colleague, don’t look too far into it, they know best if they can potentially help the prospect. It is up to them to discover this through good questioning.
  1. WARM/COLD/HOT REFERRALS – KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
  • Cold referral – A colleague has handed a client/prospect one of your business cards and said ‘give them a call if you need….’
    ◦ This is akin to a cold call because there is no trust established, all they know about you is what is on your card – save these for C and D prospects
  • Warm referral – A colleague has mentioned your name to their client/your prospect.
    ◦ Again this is not ideal, your name has been mentioned but there is no next step for them, you can’t start the relationship based on this.
  • Hot referral – Now this is key, your colleague has introduced you to their client/your prospect and let them know that you will be giving them a call.
    ◦ These are ideal as the prospect is expecting your call AND you get a buying signal because if they were totally uninterested in what you have to offer they wouldn’t meet with you in the first place.
  1. BE SPECIFIC
  • Once you have established a list of the prospects you would like to work with, share it! Share it with your colleagues, at referral groups or at networking groups. Be specific about who you are targeting, it makes it much easier for people to refer to you.

Many people we meet through our business say they are too busy to prospect, or the phone doesn’t stop ringing.

However, having a strong prospecting and referral system is key. You will be glad you planned ahead and filled up your pipeline for the long winter months.

Oh, and the best way to get a referral? ….To give one.

So let’s start this New Year off the right way, help each other out, and in time it will come back around to you tenfold

Hayden Burgess is a Sales Trainer with Sales Impact Group

 

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

Have you seen the white whale – the danger of relying on one or two large clients

In Herman Melville’s eponymous 1851 novel “Moby Dick” the crew of the Pequod seek out the mysterious and legendary white whale Moby Dick. I was thinking about the novel and how it relates to business and it got me thinking. The crew of the Pequod are driven and in a sense kept alive in treacherous waters by the idea of their white whale, and there is an allegory here for us in business.

Too often we rely on a whale to keep us afloat; these whales are often one or two large clients who give us all our business.

Unfortunately what can often happen is these large clients are drawn away, close up shop or change hands. When we lose them it can be the thing that sinks a business, or in this case a ship. It is just as important to bring on smaller clients as it is larger ones; it is often the smaller clients that keep you afloat from month to month while you are waiting for your next order from your ‘whale’.

This is also why it’s important to prospect. Too many businesses tell me that they rely on word of mouth, they do a great job for one client and they give them their next client. While this is good in theory it doesn’t always work that way, and it means we are leaving the fate of our business to the gods. Even if you have too much work on your plate to handle, ask for that referral, you can always action it later but if you don’t ask now how can you expect to fill your sales funnel two or six months down the line?.

In order to stay in control and not be taken down by the white whale you need to become a proactive salesperson. In sales speak we talk about reactive and proactive sales people, the difference between the two is like the difference between buying your meat from the butcher and hunting it yourself. The proactive sales person is always looking for new opportunities to grow their business whereas the reactive sales person just waits for it to walk through the door.

At the end of Melville’s novel after pursuing Moby Dick for three days, the boat and crew are destroyed when the whale turns on them, the Captain Ahab, drowns in the icy sea. My message here is don’t let your white whale sink your business when they turn on you and say they are moving to another supplier. Remember your A client is someone else’s A prospect.

Takeaways

– Always be prospecting – If you are offered a referral but are too busy, tell your referrer to hold off, but the important thing is to ask! When you attend referral groups always ask for referrals by name don’t get caught in the “I’m too busy at the moment so I don’t need any referrals” trap.
– Don’t rely on one big client to keep your business afloat – I hear this all the time, and most often the people saying it know they are in a precarious position but don’t do anything about it. Smaller clients are just as important when cash flow is key.
– Be a PROACTIVE not a REACTIVE salesperson. Don’t wait for your next client to walk in the door or hope that someone you did a great job for will mention you to their mate. Stay in control of the situation and make your own luck.

“The day you decide to do, it is your lucky day “ – Japanese Proverb

Article by Hayden Burgess – Sales Trainer – Sales Impact Group

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy

What makes the best salespeople? aka the myth of the “gift of the gab” salesperson

It’s an age old adage that never seems to be shaken off. The idea of the ‘gift of the gab’ salesperson. It conjures up images of the sleazy car salesman with a polyester suit, and slick back hair who applies pressure and coercion in order to get his next commission cheque.

Fortunately for us in these days this is pretty much just a myth. The truth of the matter is that the dynamics of sales have changed greatly in the past 20 years with the advent of needs based selling. In his book “To Sell is Human”, Daniel Pink tells us that “the correlation between extroversion and sales performance, which is how many times you make the cash register ring, is almost zero”.

So, if sales is not just about being the big extroverted gift of the gab personality, what factors make the best salespeople in 2015?

– Adaptability

When you are meeting with a client, consider what type of personality they may have, are they extroverted and want to talk a lot or are they introverted and more interested in the finer points of what you have to offer. If you can adjust your personality style to the situation you will have a much better chance of closing the sale. In Pink’s book he notes that the average wage for an adaptable salesperson is $208 per hour – almost double that of the average introvert or extrovert personality.

– Always add value

Whether it is a client or a colleague, always aim to help. If you are constantly adding value to those around you, you will be more satisfied in your role for one, but you may find that it will come back to you in spades. Even if that buyer doesn’t say yes to you straight away, you have at least enlightened them to a problem they may be having and they were previously unaware of. Share a referral with a colleague or give them some timely advice and this will only be to your advantage.

– Have a process

Do you know why Toyota is the most successful car manufacturer in the world? Process. The Japanese have a very process driven culture and this is what allowed them to overcome Ford
and GM in the race to the top. It is the same in sales, when you have a process, or a blueprint to follow, you are taking out a percentage of the risk that comes from being unprepared for an
interview. What if you missed that crucial question that would have got you over the line? Have a process that works for you and stick to it.

– Sell yourself

And by that I don’t mean your physical body! Whatever you are selling, you must always sell yourself first. How many times have you heard of that great salesperson that works for an unreliable company and takes all their best clients with them when they leave? It has to be about selling yourself first, build that trust, then comes your product/service and finally price. People buy the value you deliver, the peace of mind they get from dealing with a reliable salesperson who will look after them through the whole process.

“You can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want”
Zig Ziglar

Article by Hayden Burgess – Sales Trainer – Sales Impact Group

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , ,

How to get through the winter slump

Winter is pretty tough; it can be cold and bleak. Unfortunately, for a lot of businesses winter correlates with a slump in trade. Often we accept this as part in parcel of being a business owner and as a result fail to plan for this time of year.

A wise person once said the best thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise and is not preceded by periods of worry and depression (or something like that).

But it doesn’t have to be this way! By planning ahead and getting our sales funnel in order we can stay on top of things so we are prepared for winter and with that ready for the prosperous spring and summer that follows.

Here are some ideas for getting ahead of the winter slump.

– Always be prospecting

We say prospecting is a 24/7 activity, always be looking for your next client. This may be as simple as noting down business names when driving through your local industrial area, reading the local paper and sharing your suspect list with colleagues. Take note of what is going on in the business community, who else can you add value to?

– Target specific businesses

Many of us attend networking and referral groups, but more often than not attendees stand up each week with the same spiel – “Hi I’m so and so from so and so business, we specialise in this and that if you know anyone who is interested, please get them to give me a call”. The problem with this is it’s a rare occasion when someone actually says to a colleague, “Hey I’m looking for something, do you know anyone who does that?” It’s an even rarer occasion that this occurs when you are actually looking for the referral. So instead, at your next event, target referrals and businesses you would love to work with and ask for them by name. See what happens.

– Use winter as a time to reskill your sales team

Sometimes no matter how much we prepare; there will still be quiet spells. Use this time to upskill your sales team; look at their KPIs, their weekly sales activities and their sales funnel. When you are a growing business, you must constantly review your salespeople, their sales process may be working for them but is it working to grow your business?

– Review your current clients.

They say it now costs ten times as much to bring on a new client as it does to maintain an existing client. So for every dollar you spend on retention of existing clients you will need to spend $10 to gain a new client. Now is a good time to review your current clients who haven’t bought off you in the last six months. Consider how you can add more value to their business. You may have a range of products; your client is buying products A and D from you but who is providing B and C? Your clients already know and trust you; it is your responsibility as a provider to make sure you are fulfilling all their requirements.

I hope these ideas help, if you implement just one it could be the influencing factor that makes the rest of this winter and the next more profitable and less stressful. Stay warm everyone!

Article written by Hayden Burgess – Sales Trainer – Sales Impact Group

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , ,

The Cost of Delaying Training

Many businesses delay sales training as other systems and budgeting demands take priority.

These delays come at a cost as sales are the only function in any business, with the exception of not for profit type businesses that bring in income.

You can have the best products in the world but unless somebody actually makes a sale – nobody in the business will be paid.

The majority, if not all, of the businesses that fail ultimately do so because of the lack of sales.

The lack of a sales process leads to salespeople missing many sales opportunities.

If we look at McDonalds they didn’t achieve consistency by waiting to hire the very best trained people. Rather they created a system through the use of checklists, processes and repetition and then trained people to use it. This approach applies to any business that is striving for consistency in the results they achieve.

The very best salespeople are systematic in their approach to selling while ordinary salespeople are haphazard and tend to “wing it”

How would you be feeling if just before your routine surgery you overheard your surgeon telling the nurse he hadn’t done any prep and was going to wing it this time? Sounds ludicrous however many salespeople know the fundamentals of selling however have no set process they follow.

I like to use the analogy of baking a cake when talking about sales processes.

My wife follows the programme “Chelsea Home Baker” and I happened to watch the finals with her. One thing I noticed was that the contestants all spent time writing out detailed plans and checklists for their baking even down to estimated timelines for each element of the bake.

Most of us have a rudimentary understanding of baking and could probably follow a recipe to produce something edible. If we were to continue practicing eventually we would become very good bakers.

The problem occurs when we’ve been using the same recipe and we become over-confident and eventually stop following the process relying on memory and experience to produce results.

This often leads to ingredients being left out which in turn leads to some pretty inedible results.

The same occurs with many salespeople.

The trouble with leaving major ingredients out of our sales process is missed opportunities leading to inconsistent results.

So what does a sales process consist of?

  1. Sales Plan – Targets, Time Lines
    2. Prospect Plan – Prospect Profiles. Suspect Lists
    3. Prospect Research Process – Key Information
    4. Sales Interview Process – Questioning Process, Closing Process
    5. Follow-up and Contact process – 90 days Maximum

With this in mind, consider your current selling process and answer “Yes” or “No” to the following questions to see how your processes stack up –

1 Do you have a system for optimising referrals?
2 Do you have a system for calculating the cost of your prospect’s problem?
3 Do you have a list of the key questions you should ask each time to uncover the prospects needs?
4 Do you have a presentation process?
5 Do you have a follow-up process?
6 Do you have a prospecting system?
7 Do you have a pre-interview planning process?

How did you score?

If there were a number of “No’s” then these are the areas you will need to focus on.

Many see training as a cost to the business where in fact it is an investment.

The key question I always ask companies I am meeting with is – “How many extra sales would each salesperson need to make to recover the investment?”

The answer more often than not is – “one new client”

Quote:

From Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company, who once was asked by a wholesaler why
he invested so much in training his people, when ultimately they might leave.

His reply was “What if I didn’t train them and they stayed?”

 

Hayden Burgess

Hayden Burgess  is a Programme Developer and Facilitator for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , ,

Top Five Easily Avoidable Mistakes of Sales Presentations

We’ve all been there, you walk out of a sales interview that was almost across the line and wonder to yourself, what could I have done differently that would have made for a different outcome.

Luckily as humans most of us learn from our mistakes and with that in mind here are five easily avoidable mistakes of a sales presentation. If you keep these in mind and avoid them you will be well on your way to making more sales and making the most of your selling time.

Not Being Prepared.

This may seem like common sense but many salespeople do very little preparation before a sales interview. The more prepared you are the more confident you will feel walking in the door. Consider what information you need to obtain about your prospect in advance, what industry are they in, who are their competitors, what are the possible challenges they may face?. Good preparation will save you on the day.

Being late

Well this one just rolls on from my previous point, but once again many salespeople make this mistake. They believe their time is more important. But consider this, in the prospects mind if you are five or ten minutes late without an explanation, how does this reflect on the delivery of your product or service?. Plan to be early but if worst comes to worst phone ahead and let them know if you are running behind.

Focusing too much on your product.

This is perhaps more harking back to the old days of selling but it is still very common. We want to go in and spout on about the great things our product or service can do for the prospect, how we can solve all their problems if only they would sign on the dotted line. You will get more sales across the line if you focus on the prospect and their needs first then worry about what your product can do for them later.

Giving price too early

Say you are going to buy a new PC, you have in mind that you want to buy a basic laptop that you can use to browse the internet, watch movies and do basic word-processing. The salesman at the electronic store instead quotes you on a workhorse desktop PC that will cost twice as much. The mistake was instead of asking you what you were after he made an assumption and quoted the price too early. When making your sales presentation make sure you uncover if they have a need for your service and justify it before price is ever mentioned. Only then will they be considering how, not if they can afford to use you.

Focusing on ourselves instead of helping the prospect

There is so much competition in the business world that sometimes we can be so focused on trying to sell sell sell that we forget that we provide solutions where there is a need for what we offer. If we are pushing to get everyone across the line even if they don’t need our services we are doing ourselves and our clients/prospects an injustice. Find out if your prospect has a need for your service, qualify them, then set about filling that need.

Hayden Burgess

Hayden Burgess  is a Programme Developer and Facilitator for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , ,

Top Eleven Networking Tips

As business people many of us see networking as something you just have to do. It means we can tick the box to say that we have been out and about drumming up contacts for future business.

However it is vitally important to make the most of your time at networking and referral group events. We have to consider that the time spent is taking us away from other important business activities, or if outside business hours family and recreational time. Therefore the more efficient we are at making the most of these events, the better.

Here are some ideas to make the most of your networking time.

  1. Don’t try to talk to everyone!
  2. Treat networking at referral groups as you would any other social interaction, don’t just focus on the business side of things, be friendly and useful first.
  3. Don’t dismiss anyone! You may think you do not need to know or meet this person, but you don’t know who they may know, or where they may be in the future, give everyone the time and respect they deserve.
  4. Your first goal at every meeting is to help someone else, build the trust first, help another, and eventually they will reciprocate.
  5. Be more interested than interesting!! its not all about you, no one wants to listen to someone else talk about themselves and their business for 15 minutes, they will be looking at their watch and making excuses to sneak off to get more canapes.
  6. Introduce people who have similar interests and may benefit from the relationship, help someone else first.
  7. Always follow up! Be prompt and follow up when you say you will, people will appreciate your punctuality, it says I value your time and I come through when I say I will.
  8. Never sell at a networking event!! There are many reasons for this, just don’t do it.
  9. Ask good questions in order to get a strong idea of what the other person’s business offers, only then are you in a position to help them.
  10. Be clear when introducing what your business offers, people are not interesting in in depth explanations of your products and services, use case studies of how you have helped others to explain what you offer.
  11. Add value! This goes with the previous statement, when discussing your business make it about them not you, how can you help them? This could be as simple as updates on current regulations if you are in the health and safety industry, or changes to tax laws if you are an accountant.

Finally, be picky, don’t be the person who goes to every networking event who talks to everyone but never makes any strong connections. Have a purpose at each event, make the most of every interaction. You need to get a return for the time invested.

Hayden Burgess

Hayden Burgess  is a Programme Developer and Facilitator for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , ,

About

Simple Sales Tracking is web-based sales CRM software for the tracking, analysis and forecasting of individual and team sales pipeline and contacts.

Built with simplicity at its core, focus is kept on key sales tasks, while eliminating unnecessary ones, helping to ensure buy-in of the entire sales team.
Go to SimpleSalesTracking.com

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