Simple Sales Tracking Blog

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, , , ,

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, , , ,

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

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , ,

Does Your Sales Team have the Right Weapons to win the Sales War

Last time we looked at the average cost of making the sale and also the general lack of sales skills training within most businesses.

This time we will examine the importance of developing the sales skills within our salespeople and how that translates into profits.

During the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Czar prepared his troops for battle in the following manner.

The first wave of charging infantrymen were given rifles, the second wave were provided with clubs, but the third wave was given nothing but good wishes. They were supposed to pick up the weapons from their fallen comrades and then continue the attack.

If you were recruited into that army, which wave would you chose?

That’s exactly how new salespeople feel when they are sent into the field without adequate tools to do their jobs. This is no way to break in a new salesperson; it’s a sure way to increase staff turnover.

Sales training is the foundation upon which product training should rest. Many companies assume their salespeople and the salespeople they hire already have a solid foundation in sales skills and systems. Salespeople who don’t perform are simply written off as part of the 80% in the old 80/20 rule of selling: 80% of the sales force produces only 20% of the company’s sales. Or, put another way, 80% of the company’s sales are produced by only 20% of the sales force.

Denying the training and support systems, which every jittery newcomer needs to get started in selling, is a short-sighted and counterproductive view of the sales team-building process. New sales reps are entitled to all of the help and tangible support that a business can provide.

Success in selling is inversely related to a salesperson’s FUD factor – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – which they experience every day in the firing line. Because selling will always be a problem if it is not learned as a procedure, it is mandatory that selling skills – as well as product knowledge – be emphasized in your training programmes. Without adequate preparation, new salespeople will surely fail in the field – just as the ill-equipped and poorly trained Russian soldiers did.

Many salespeople I’ve trained over the years have been very successful in selling before they undertook the training however what I often hear from these people is the comment
“I didn’t know what I didn’t know” as we introduce them to a structured sales process.

Without a structured selling process many sales are lost that could have been converted with the right preparation, asking the right questions and then following up.

They say more sales are lost through poor questioning than are ever lost on price.

What this all means to businesses is that the cost of making sales goes up as these opportunities are missed.

A national client I was working with achieved over 40% improvement in sales through following a structured sales process.

For every business I have worked with over the years there is a recipe of the right questions to ask a prospect to uncover firstly if they have a need – No Need = No Sale, and secondly how urgent that need is. Yet most salespeople have a few standard questions they ask and then launch into their sales pitch – generally before the prospect has fully understood their own needs – this then leads to “leave it with me I need to think this over”.

With the right questions and processes the prospect should be able to make a decision based on the information presented.

We will look at team development and the correlation to sales staff retention next time.

Quote of the Week:

Every sale has five basic obstacles
No Need, No Money, No Hurry, No Desire, No Trust

Zig Ziglar

 

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

Which Type of Salesperson Are You?

There is an old quote which we can adapt that goes –

“There are three kinds of salespeople – those who make things happen, those that watch things happen and those who are wondering what happened.”

It’s an oldie but a goodie.

In fact there are generally two types of salespeople I come across in my business.  The first are what I would characterize as “improvisers” – they seldom do any preparation and rely on intuition and instinct to carry them through.   They approach every sales interview as an adventure and while they still make sales they tend to be very inconsistent.

The second type are the “systemisers” – these are the professionals and they have a sales plan which includes activity targets and strategies to insure consistency and more importantly predictability in their results.

The systemisers are characterized by pre-sales planning and follow through during and after the sale.  This of course leads to repeat sales to existing clients and referrals to new prospects.   Typically they have lists of the most common objections/conditions they strike with prospects along with the answers.  They also have prepared questions that help the prospect to uncover potential needs if they exist and they have strategies to advance the sale.

So we have two types of salespeople who achieve different results.  Each one follows a pattern, one unstructured and one structured.

Where do you see yourself?

Most systemisers have developed their skills through training and practice – there is
no such thing as a “natural born salespeople”.

Zig Ziglar – Author and Sales Trainer extraordinaire in his best selling book “Zig Ziglars Secrets” says he’s travelled the world and seen that women have given birth to boys and given birth to girls but had never seen that a woman had given birth to a salesman.  He goes on to state that he had seen salesmen die so draws the conclusion if they are not born but die, then obviously between birth and death – by choice and by training – they become what they decide to become, namely trained professional salesmen.

Key Message –   You can become whatever you decide to become as long as you are willing to put the time and effort into the training required and follow the disciplines learned.
Action Steps –

1. Make  list of all the problems that your solutions and products overcome for your prospects
2. Make a list of all the issues associated with each of these problems
3. Develop questions around each of these problems and issues that will help the buyer to focus their thinking
4. Once this list is developed put each of these questions in order of logical sequence

Quote:
Failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day
Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer 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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