Sunday, November 30, 2008

Buying Versus Selling Made Easy For Salespeople

I often find that prospective customers would rather buy than to be put through some sort of sales process. Don't get me wrong, some situations require a little "push" to get the job done and put a sale on the board. A salesperson, however, should not have to continually fight an uphill battle with every prospect on "what's your best price" and "I am happy with my current vendor".

When these questions arise it is obvious that the salesperson has not taken the time make sure he or she is credible in the prospect's eyes. In short, the prospect has no perceived value in dealing with you when these questions come hurling at you like darts.

When selling is done correctly, buying should take place without any push from the salesperson. If the prospect has been qualified, the salesperson has taken the time to show third-party proof to enhance credibility, and the proposal is profit-justified, a sale should take place with no closing skills of any sort. If the prospect is qualified and believes in you, they will certainly believe your proposal and the money, time, or productivity you are putting back in their pocket.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Will I Have to Cold Call for the Rest of My Sales Career?

Will you have to cold call for the rest of your sales career? While I might have said yes to this statement five years ago, I'm not so sure anymore. As a moved in my sales career over to becoming a top producer, I found myself struggling to remember the last time I actually made a 100% pure cold call.

Make no mistake about it, every salesperson starting out needs to be able to cold call with some success. After all, the biggest reason why most people get out of the sales profession is their lead generation is inadequate. Therefore by default, they simply do not have enough prospects to sell to. This leads a salesperson down the path to either a loss of job or not enough income to justify staying in the sales profession.

After you have survived in sales for a few years, however, the monotony of cold calling will start to burn you out. It is awful hard to be seen as an expert salesperson by so many of your customers and then have to pick up the phone to cold call (in other words, to make hundreds of cold calls to people who don't want to speak with you).

Garbage in = Garbage out (usually). I don't care how strong your desire or attitude is - it is very hard to displace all of the negativity that comes with cold calling. This is especially true when so many alternative lead generation options are available. Amazingly, I still know a lot of salespeople who use this as their primary or only way to obtain leads.

Most alternative lead generation activities take time and a lot of effort before they become effective. If cold calling is your primary way of obtaining new customers, I'm certainly not advocating that you stop this tomorrow. What you need to do instead is to start building and developing other lead generation methods to replace your cold calling activities over time.

When you move from being a mediocre salesperson to a top producing salesperson, you will find that your biggest problem is not filling your lead bucket but rather having the time to get to everyone who is in the bucket. The happy trouble of having too many people who are eager to do business with you (only for you to turn them down due to time constraints or lack of qualifications) should be your #1 goal. When this happens, you simply won't have the time to cold call. Listen up as this is important, because you don't stop cold calling because you don't like it - you only stop cold calling when you don't have the time because your lead bucket is overflowing.

So the short answer to the question in my book would be - no- you probably won't have to continue cold calling for the rest of your sales career. This will only become true, however, if you take the time to learn & develop alternative lead generation methods. At the same time, you don't want to paint yourself in a corner with believing it will never become plausible for the need to cold call in the future, either. If your alternative lead generation activities dry up or become inadequate for whatever reason, you must be prepared to cold call your way back to being a sales success.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sales Bloggers Union

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be voted in and accepted as a contributing member of the Sales Bloggers Union. The Sales Bloggers Union is comprised of various sales experts from a variety of backgrounds. When you are looking for a diversity of expert opinion on the overall sales experience, I cannot imagine a better resource that exists on the web.

The Sales Bloggers Union website will feature a new topic every two weeks in which all contributing members will have a written submission that will be posted. In the current cycle, the topic is negotiations. Please make sure to check out my first article which was just published today - The Top Five Items a Salesperson Needs to Know Before Heading into Negotiations.

There were several people I would like to thank who where instrumental in getting me involved and "up to speed" as a contributing member of the group:

-Brad Trnavsky of Sales Management 2.0, who has always been willing to help me out without asking for anything in return. You planted this seed with me for this group a while back.

-Skip Anderson of Selling to Consumers, who took the time to speak with me on what was involved in being a contributing member and who helped me get "up and running".

-Nesh Thompson of Symvolli, who has also been instrumental in getting me up to speed and involved on the website.

I would also like to thank the other contributing members of the Sales Bloggers Union for allowing me to be involved with the group:

-Ian Brodie of Sales Excellence

-Tim Rohrer of Sales Loudmouth

-Tibor Shanto of The Pipeline

-Colin Wilson of The Entrepreneurial Salesman Blog

and last but not least...

-Karl Goldfield of Sales Training by Karl Goldfield

Thanks again to all of you and I look forward to offering all of our readers quality sales advice that will make a difference in their lives. I would also like to encourage my readers not only to be regular visitors to the Sales Bloggers Union, but also to the individual websites of each contributing member. May all of your sales be great ones!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bad Economy = Your Chance to Increase Your Market Share

If you are sick of hearing about the bad economy right now you are not alone. Bailouts, rescue packages, unemployment, and massive upcoming federal debts just seem to dominate every news cycle. Quite frankly, if you watch the morning news it is very easy to convince yourself that making a sales call is a waste of time. Do yourself a favor, turn off the news and don't fall into this trap.

Companies will pay more attention to whom they do business with during a down business cycle. There is no doubt about this in my mind whatsoever. If you take the time to show your prospects how to improve their productivity, increase their revenues, and decrease their expenses you will find more ears that are willing to listen. I'm not blowing coffee house smoke here, this really is your chance to shine and improve your market share.

While many sit home and whine, others are putting together and closing some of the biggest deals in their sales career. A down economy puts pressure on a company to do things better - and this where your expertise will be welcomed. Don't miss this opportunity to get in doors that you otherwise wouldn't, because that good economy everyone is looking for is right around the corner.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Small Gifts of Appreciation Go a Long Way in Sales

This past week I was out working as usual when I realized I was driving on fumes. Not wanting to run out of gas, I stopped at a new gas station for the first time. It was really cold, and I was pumping I looked up to find a sign that offered a "free cup of coffee" with any purchase of a tank of gas or diesel.

This sounded great and after I filled up my tank I headed inside to take them up on the offer. The lady inside was unusually nice, and directed me over to the coffee station. I gladly filled up my cup of coffee and waived goodbye as I headed back to my vehicle.

Being that I was involved in a beverage business that sold to C-stores years ago, I knew that cup of coffee probably only cost them a nickel or so. To be truthful, it really wasn't that great of a cup of coffee, either. This didn't seem to matter to me, because after filling up my vehicle twice a week for more weeks than I care to remember - this was the first time that someone was giving me a small gift of appreciation for my patronage. I'm positive I will be back, especially on some of these cold days that reside in the future.

This also reminded me once again of how far small gifts of appreciation go in sales. When someone takes the time to give you a referral or a customer gives you a first order, a small gift of appreciation is certainly in order. A couple boxes of doughnuts, a lunch, or $25 gift certificate is hardly anything for what you get in return.

Keep these gifts small, however, so they will not be understood as a bribe or someone trying to buy their business. This activity is all about appreciation - from a grateful person who knows where their success comes from. Many times in sales when we do something worthwhile without expecting any sort of benefit in return, the rewards we reap are far greater than we could ever expect.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What Exactly Qualifies as a Cold Call?

One of the most talked about subjects in sales is cold calling. While I've read hundreds of articles on the subject, I don't ever recall anyone clearly defining what exactly qualifies as a cold call. When I researched the definition on the internet, I found the following definition - "A telephone call or visit made to someone who is not known or not expecting contact, often in order to sell something".

In order to understand cold calling, don't you think it would be important to know exactly what would be considered a cold call? Even among experts, I still believe their is much debate. For instance, would a customer who has not purchased anything for several years be considered a cold call if he or she was contacted? Would a prospect who has been confirmed to be a purchaser of your types of products or services within your industry qualify as a cold call?

Again, these are all great questions and the "cold call" in the subject of cold calling is rarely defined. I decided to put together a short list below to describe what I believe would qualify and would not qualify as a cold call. Here is my expanded definition.

What qualifies as a cold call:

1) Calling on anyone in which you have no idea if they need your products or services.

2) Calling on anyone who is a former customer that has not purchased from your company in over a year (this only applies if you have not met the customer before and you are unknown to them).

3) Calling on anyone who has been confirmed to be a user of your types of products or services but you as a salesperson are unknown to them; These prospects will remain in this "bucket" of classification until you become known to them.

4) Calling on anyone who has been referred to you but the referring party was not used in any capacity to make the initial contact.

Here is what I believe would not qualify as a cold call:

1) Calling on anyone in your customer database that is presently a purchasing customer of your company's products or services but you as a salesperson are still unknown to them.

2) Calling on anyone in which you are a known salesperson (even if they are not presently purchasing your products or services).

3) Calling on anyone who initially contacted you first for an inquiry on your products or services or subsequently contacted you after you made a cold call on them.

4) Calling on anyone who was referred to you but the referring party makes the initial introduction or first contact on your behalf.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't Get Wrapped Up in Where Your Sales Reports Rate You in the Present

Sales reports are a vital tool in analyzing your sales efforts as they stand in the present. It is important to break these numbers down "shotgun style" to see your strengths and weaknesses in your sales plan as it is being carried out. While this sort of activity is critical in adjusting your strategy, don't get wrapped up on where your sales numbers stand in the present.

I can't tell you the number of salespeople and sales managers I have worked with in my career that put way too much effort into keeping a daily eye on where their sales numbers stand. Instead of spending all your time worrying or gloating about your current numbers, put this energy into something constructive for your own sales future. Remember, your sales future will be determined by your actions, not any report that your company or management team will put forth.

You can have the greatest sales plan around, but it means nothing without your actions. Never analyze your way into believing you cannot force a change in the trajectory of your sales numbers. And don't get too wrapped in your present sales reports, as the future you have the ability to create is just around the corner.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Will Perry Fultz - Baseball Stats

Obama Presidential Victory Shows the Value of Great Sales Presentations

President-Elect Obama won a very clear victory this past Tuesday for the Presidency of the United States. Sure, you could break down the exit polls to see exactly how he won or make the assumption everything was in his favor with an unpopular President sitting in the White House belonging to a different political party. Looking at the larger picture, however, I believe this election all came down to great sales presentations.

Obama, did not have a wealth of experience or accomplishments to run on. His ideas and plans (just like McCain's) were not really all that specific. What he had, though, was a series of great sales presentations to the American people that he was smart, ready, different, and able to make the sort of changes that voters where looking for. His sales ability, I believe, above all else was the overriding reason he won.

There is great lesson for those of us in sales here to learn. This teaches us that if we have a product or service that is untested, has little history, or is unknown, these difficulties can be overcome with great sales presentations. It is always better to have a successful track-record on your product or service, but Obama's victory certainly emphasizes that a well thought-out strategy and plan can negate these advantages held by your competitor.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Never Give Up, Never Surrender in Life or Sales

One of the most beautiful things in this life is that none of us are failures until we quit. As November 4 dawns tomorrow, another Presidential election will take place. This reminded me of the famous election of 1948 in which the incumbent Democratic President, Truman, was pitted against the Republican Governor of New York, Dewey.

Dewey was so far ahead in the polls, President Truman's family actually did not believe he could win. Truman never gave up, and campaigned his heart out across most of the small towns in America. When he awoke after election day, he found that he had solidly defeated Dewey in spite of what the pollsters had predicted. The Chicago Tribune even had went to print with the story that "Dewey Defeats Truman" before the final outcome was known.

The election of 1948 will always be remembered as the biggest political "upset" in Presidential politics. More importantly, it reminds us yet again to never give up and to never surrender in life or in sales.