Simple Sales Tracking Blog

Are You Dressed to Sell?

It probably isn’t fair but you seldom get a second chance to make a great first impression. What we wear and how we present ourselves not only colours our attitude towards ourselves but also influences others perception of us. John T Molloy, author of Dress for Success says in almost all situations, one’s appearance makes a statement, either “I am important, please show me some respect, or I am not your equal and do not expect to be treated as such”.
There was once a school of thought that suggested salespeople needed to dress down to the level of their client or prospect, whether this is gumboots and a swandri on the farm or shirt and jeans at a creative firm. However studies have shown that we should be dressing to the level of our prospect’s advisors. The psychology behind this is that it is easier to take advice and act on recommendations from someone who looks professional and dresses like an executive than someone who doesn’t.
When you are meeting with a prospect, consider that they are buying you first, then your product/service and finally your company. In this sense you should dress in a way that takes nothing away from the message or value your company brings. If you are selling a $5000 product or service, dress like you deserve to.
Of course it is important to consider different industries dress codes i.e. a banker would have a different standard of dress than a graphic designer, but in general those in professional services should try to adhere to the unwritten rules of business attire. The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that our clothes are associated with meaning, and in turn put us in different mindsets. In this sense we associate a suit and tie or formal business wear with professionalism and hard work.

For salespeople, a tie says a lot. In my previous life in customer service, it always occurred to me when I met someone in a suit and tie that they must be important. This was my impression as someone from outside the business world, and it illustrates just how subtly the way you dress conveys a message. As salespeople we never know who we will meet on a day to day basis making sales calls, so it is vital that we always look our best.
Along with a suit and tie, good grooming is integral. It shows attention to detail and conveys professionalism, we take pride in all aspects of our appearance and it shows. A series of studies published in the Evolution and Human Behavior Journal in 2013 found that people change their behavior to match their dress. When you are well groomed and well-dressed you have subconsciously stepped into your professional persona and are ready to make that sale.
Dress in a way that says to the prospect that you respect them and have made an added effort in your personal presentation for them. Their business matters.
Action Steps
– Dress to a level one above your prospect/client – dress like their advisor
– Always be well groomed – the small details matter
– When appropriate wear a tie, it says a lot

Hayden Burgess

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

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, ,

Monthly Sales Toolbox – Top Sales Tips

Here are my top tips for making the most of every sales interview and getting the most out of your referrals.

Never bag the opposition – This goes without saying but we can all fall into the trap of bagging the opposition, but be aware, sometimes this can be a test from the client of your professionalism. If the client comments negatively about the opposition, it is better to apologise for them, “I’m sorry to hear that”, if they make positive comments then agree with them “that’s good to hear, I have heard good things about that company”. This will show that you are a professional and your reputation will grow as a result.

Share the business – The best way to succeed in your business is to help someone else to succeed in theirs. So work with your colleagues from other non-competitive businesses with whom you share clients with to provide market intelligence, and referrals if possible. Grow your networks and align yourself with business people you respect and like. In a small business community it is to everyone’s benefit to work together to help each other achieve more.

Be genuine – find the need – When you walk into a sales interview, remember that your aim is not to make the sale, but to find the need. You need to assess whether the prospect has a need for the product or service you offer. The only party that can close the sale is the buyer, remember too that you are adding value to their business so don’t feel like you are begging for the work, stand by your product and if the need is there it will sell itself.

Be timely – This goes without saying but always be early for your appointments, no more than ten minutes, or else you may make the prospect feel uncomfortable to leave you waiting. The prospect’s time is valuable as is your own, and if you are looking for an ongoing relationship with the prospect, get off on the right foot by being prompt. The same goes for email correspondence, if you can reply to emails the same day you receive them, your clients and prospects will respect your punctuality.

Respect the local market – Most businesses grow to a certain size and start to look outside their backyard for bigger jobs and prospects however it is important not to overlook smaller accounts. Too often in business we rely on a large account to carry us through the financial year but when these accounts fall through or move on as they are prone to do, it is often the smaller jobs that keep us on an even keel.

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, , , , ,

Looking ahead to 2014

2013 was a great year for us at Simple Sales Tracking.  We welcomed a mass of new customers and steadily added new product features, being careful to keep Simple Sales Tracking easy to use and work inline with what you’ve come to expect.  Thanks for making it a great year!

Looking ahead to 2014, one of the areas we’ve committed to add to is the Reports area.  We receive many requests for new or altered reports and we’d like to provide them.

In the very first release, you’ll have probably noticed the existing detailed sales reports have now been renamed to “Custom Detailed”.  If you look at the filters for the report, you’ll find you can now add/remove columns in the generated reports – to make them include the data you want and clear out what you don’t.

Wishing you Sales Success! and All the best to you in the new year!

Filed under: Company News, New Features, , , , ,

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, , ,

Where Do The Dollars Come From?

When considering this question many of us think of activities such as marketing and advertising, operations, lead management – the list goes on.

The fact is that only one activity brings money into any business and that is sales, unless of course you are a non-profit organization.

There is an old saying “Nobody gets paid until a sale is made”

You can have the best products in the world but unless someone is actively selling these you will go out of business.

If we can agree that sales are one of the most important activities in our business then the next question to consider is “are our salespeople making the most of the opportunities that are out there?”

Sadly the answer to this question in the majority of cases is “No”.

Here is some data from a study conducted with the Fortune 500 companies in the States, which found –

98% of salespeople do not have a consistent methodology for their presentation
95% talk too much
93% volunteer a price decrease without being asked
86% ask the wrong questions
87% of sales inquiries are never followed up – not even once
90% depend almost totally on leads from marketing efforts

What this information points to is a lack of sales skills training for the sales teams.

According to ASTD research conducted in 2008 – 48% of salespeople learn selling through trial and error. How many prospects do these people waste while learning?

Many of the people I train have been in sales for years and have basically learnt through this method.

The most common issue I see with the trial and error training methodology is a lack of confidence in the salespeople.

The next most common group I come across are the salespeople that did a sales course ten or so years ago and are still using the old style selling techniques.

Sales like any other business activity should be systemised.

When selling becomes a process your salespeople will become more confident, your sales closing ratio will increase and your cost of sales will decrease.

The cost of making a face to face sales call can range from $90 – $500 depending on the location and time.

What many of us fail to take into account when working out these costs are the hidden cost such as technical support, administration support, on-going training – the list goes on.

Using $150/hour as an example let’s look at what goes into making a sale

Preparation and getting the appointment 1 hour
Face to Face presentation (including travel) 2 hours
Preparing Proposal 2 hours
Follow-up appointment to present/discuss proposal 1.5 hours
Miscellaneous – phoning, research etc 1.5 hours
Total 8 Hours

The equation is 8 hours x 150 = $1200

This is assuming that you make the sale however there are very few companies in the world who have a 100% closing ratio. Most companies average 35%. This relates to proactive selling (you approach the prospect) as opposed to reactive selling (the prospects approach you)

We will look further at developing sales teams in the next article.

Quote of the Week:

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 –

“What if I didn’t train them, and they stayed?”

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

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

20 Ideas to Find New Customers and Increase Sales

Whether you’re stumped for ideas or looking for a few new ones, we’ve put together a comprehensive bread & butter list of some of the most important.  Have we missed any?  Include your suggestions following in the comments.

Here they are in no particular order.

1. Ask for referrals.  Your social and business network may reach farther than you think.  Get in touch with others who know and trust you, your products and services.  Ask them if there’s anyone they know that they’d suggest you contact.  When you make the contact, be clear who referred you.

2. Ask for Feedback.  Learn what’s working and what’s not about your product or service.  Show that you care about your current customers feedback, implementing changes based on it.  They’ll love you for it and tell their friends.

3. Know your Customer.  You’d be surprised how few business owners really know who their customers are.  Do a survey, keep track, do whatever works.  By knowing your customer you’ll be able to refine your market and target more accurately; leading to less wasted time and increased sales.

4. Know your Products & Services.  Also known as “eating your own dog food” and “drinking your own champagne”.  Don’t just know about them, but use them yourself.  When you look through the eyes of your customers you’ll learn a lot.

5. Make it Easy to Buy.  Take out as many obstacles as possible to the sale.

6. Ask for the Business.  Don’t leave a sale open to chance and don’t shy away from closing the sale. If your prospect show they’re interested. Always be clear on the next step and when the sale can happen.

7. Include a Call to Action.  On all of your marketing material, always include a Call to Action. What is the next step you want the prospect to take.

8. Consider an Incentive or Referral Program. As mentioned in #1, referrals are important.  If you want to increase the scale of your referral network, try creating an incentive or referral program. This is no substitute for one-on-one relationships and requests for referrals from people who know and trust you.

9. Up sell & Inline Sale.  Not usually considered a strong method of attracting new customers, but one of the best ways to increase sales with existing ones.  Your customers already know and trust you.  Offer them something else they’ll also find valuable.

10. Be professional. On your website, in printed marketing material, how you dress.  Professionalism encourages trust. Disorganization and sloppiness promote the opposite.

11. Be Customer Focused.  Focus on the needs of your customer, not on your own needs.  Look closely at your written material. Does it focus on “I”, “We”, “Me”, or “you” and “your”?

12. Give Outstanding Customer Support. We’ve all waited on hold or worked through a labyrinth of phone menus trying to reach a support team.  Don’t be them. Be easy to reach, approachable, and friendly.  It doesn’t mean always saying yes, rather it means showing you care – even when the answer is no.

13. Develop a Sales System.  Any system – just make one and use it.

14. Provide More Value More Often.  Listen to feedback, produce and iterate.  Do this regularly and let your customers know you’re doing it.

15. Toot Your Own Horn.  We’ve all seen this done distastefully.  Done thoughtfully, it’s a great way to build up customers turned promoters. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team.

16. Be Trendy.  Don’t go out of your way to be trendy. But if you notice a trend that correlates to your offering, consider including it.

17. Don’t be Shy. Make sure everyone you know, knows what you’re up to.

18. Tell Everyone About Everything.  You might be selling XYZ, but at some point, make sure you let the prospect know about your other products and services that are appropriate. Sound obvious? It is. Yet, still this gets forgotten or ignored more than you’d think.

19. Give your Customers the Inside Scoop. Make sure you let your customers know about what’s happening. They’ll feel like they’re “in the know” and a stronger relationship will be developed.

20. Give Something Away For Free. Something of real value to your customer, but doesn’t necessarily cost you very much.

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

Prospecting Plan – Do You Have One?

People don’t deliberately plan to fail but often fail to plan.

In sales one of the most crucial elements is a prospecting plan.

A challenge for many salespeople is they do not have one and as a result spend the vast majority of their selling time with their “friendlies” (clients they get on well with), who may be great people but not necessarily their “A” or “B” customers.    This often results in poor sales results and leads to a lack of growth.   These type of salespeople are often referred to as “Farmers”.

To develop a prospecting plan we need to start with clear sales targets and goals, as without these we cannot work out the activity target and our numbers.   Once we have a number we can work out our average sale which we divide into the total sale target to then come up with the number of sales we need to achieve the overall target.

From this we can divide by our closing ratio to see how many sales interviews we need to achieve our overall target.

We can now work out how many referrals we need to generate by again dividing this number by 80%.  Generally with referred leads 80% will give you an appointment.

This is what it looks like –

Sales Target  $500,000
÷           10,000        Average sales over 12 months
50         Sales required this year
÷                50%       Closing Ratio
______
100        Sales interviews this year
÷               80%       Appointment closing ratio
______
125        Referrals required this year to achieve sales target
÷                 46        Working weeks in year
_______
2.7        Referrals per week
=======

We now have the numbers, the important one for us is the number of referrals needed each week e.g. 2.7 as our example shows.  The next step is to plan where these referrals will come from.

Referrals come from many sources including existing clients, peer groups, referral groups, social networks, centres of influence, family and friends etc.  The challenge with many of these sources is at best they are spasmodical and at worst we get none at all.   We as salespeople are leaving referrals and our sales success to chance.

A survey conducted by CSO Insights in 2007 which analyzed lead generation published the following results –

5.7%    customer service
17.5%   customer referrals
24.4%   marketing programmes
11.6%  other
40.8%   self generated by salesperson

What these results clearly show is the greatest opportunity for frontline salespeople and business owners who have to sell their services to grow their business is through self generated leads.

To achieve this we need to systemize our referral systems, firstly from our existing clients and then through centres of influence, our two biggest/best sources of referred leads.

A question I often ask experienced salespeople is “how often do you ask your clients for referrals?” and the answer I get is   “hardly ever”.

The reason is they used to ask but after many “can’t think of anyone right now but will think about it” they gave up asking.   I often say the quality of your questions will determine the quality of the answers so if you want more referrals from existing clients stop asking “who do you know who might be interested in what we do?” and ask for a specific referral to someone you know they work with or associate with.

In my next article I will look at the key activities of a prospecting plan.

Quote of the Week:

                                             If you don’t ask the answer is always “No”

 

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

 

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

How Effective Is Your Networking?

Everyone talks about networking to improve business; however I find it to be an overused word and underused strategy by many of the salespeople and business owners I meet at so called “networking events”.

Many people think of networking as going to a business event in search of business opportunities however it is much more than this.  It’s a very cost effective way of doing business through referred leads if it is managed correctly.

The “Barrons Business Guide” Dictionary of Business Terms defines networking as –
“making use of professional contacts”

You can break network into two words – “net” and “work”.
Your “net” is made up of the people and businesses you interconnect with
Your “work” is the building and maintenance of your net.

To be effective in your networking you need to have systems.

A “system” is defined as “organization of functionally interactive units for the achievement of a common goal”

Some systems for networking would include –

  1. A clear strategy for each event/meeting
  2. A clear profile of the type of prospects you are looking for.  Many salespeople don’t have a clear picture of this and tend to say they are interested in anyone and are then condemned to spend their time with the wrong prospects
  3. Lists of prospects you may want introductions to – be specific
  4. An “elevator speech” or “value statement”
  5. List of questions to ask new contacts
  6. Follow-up contact systems

Let’s look at some of the “sins of networking”.

1. Attending the wrong events –

When I first got into sales I attended every event that was going and eagerly gave away as many of my business cards as I could as I had read somewhere you should give away 5 cards each day.   I now believe there are three uses for business cards –

  • Free lunch (lucky draw)
  • Possible leads – networking events (dubious)
  • Get the other persons card (No.1 reason)

2. Talking Too Much –

Let’s face it we love talking about ourselves and our businesses and I know I’m no different to anybody else.  I think it was Mark Twain who said “a bore is someone who opens their mouth and puts both feats in it”
Another favorite – “a closed mouth gathers no foot”

Many of us are so busy “waiting to talk” that we are barely listening to the other person.  Something I strive to do in these situations is “to be more interested than interesting” which brings me to sin no. 3.

3. Not asking enough questions –

More importantly-  enough of the right questions.
The most effective way to build trust and rapport is to ask good questions that connect with who you are having a conversation with.
A question I am often asked is – “what if they don’t ask what we do”?
The law of reciprocity usually kicks in and eventually they will ask, but at the end of the day if nothing else you’ve learnt a lot about them and their business.

I will continue with more “sins of networking” in my next article, in the meantime keep your sinning to a minimum!!

Quote:

Internalize the Golden Rule of sales that says –

“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to,
those people they know, like and trust.”
                                                                                                          Bob Burg

 

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

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

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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