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zondag 30 december 2012

Sales 2.0

What is Sales 2.0?

Sales 2.0 is the use of innovative sales practices, focused on creating value for both buyer and seller and enabled by Web 2.0 and next-generation technology. Sales 2.0 practices combine the science of process-driven operations with the art of collaborative relationships, using the most profitable and most expedient sales resources required to meet customers’ needs. This approach produces superior, predictable, repeatable business results, including increased revenue, decreased sales costs, and sustained competitive advantage.

From Sales 2.0 by Anneke Seley and Brent Holloway

Result Oriented Leadership

Result Oriented Leadership

When you ask any group of businesspeople the question ‘What do effective leaders do?’ you will hear a range of answers like leaders set strategy, they motivate, they create a mission, and they build a culture. Then ask ‘What should leaders do?’ If the group is experienced, you’ll likely hear one response: the leader’s most important job is to get results.

How? The mystery of what leaders can and ought to do in order to spark the best performance from their people is very old. In recent years, that mystery has spawned an entire cottage industry: literally thousands of ‘leadership experts’ have made careers of testing and coaching executives, all in pursuit of creating businesspeople who can turn bold objectives (be they strategic, financial, organizational, or all three) into reality.

Still, effective leadership eludes many people and organizations. One reason is that until recently, virtually no quantitative research has demonstrated which precise leadership behaviours yield positive results. Leadership experts proffer advice based on inference, experience, and instinct. Sometimes that advice is which precise leadership behaviours yield positive results. Leadership experts submit advice based on inference, experience, and instinct. Sometimes that advice is right on target; sometimes it’s not.

But new research takes much of the mystery out of effective leadership. It found six distinct leadership styles, each springing from different components of emotional intelligence. The styles, taken individually, appear to have a direct and unique impact on the working atmosphere of a company, division, or team, and in turn, on its financial performance. And perhaps most important, the research indicates that leaders with the best results do not rely on only one leadership style; they use most of them in a given week (seamlessly and in different measure) depending on the business situation. Imagine the styles, then, as the array of clubs in a golf pro’s bag. Over the course of a game, the pro picks and chooses clubs based on the demands of the shot. Sometimes he has to ponder his selection, but usually it is automatic. The pro senses the challenge ahead, swiftly pulls out the right tool, and elegantly puts it to work. That’s how high-impact leaders operate, too.

Valuable Career Advise

zaterdag 29 december 2012

How to motivate the unmotivated?

How to motivate the unmotivated?

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best approach is to start with carrots and move to using a stick only if carrots bring no results. But since your team is up against the wall there's no time for just carrots. Senior management has already threatened the stick, so your job at this point is to be fair but be firm.
Because research shows that only seven percent of workers know how their work contributes to the big picture, let's start there.

A. Hold a meeting to connect their work with the big picture.

1. Remind people of the vision / mission of the company and that everyone in the company is on the same team.
2. Inform them you've personally observed unacceptable performance and that it's these types of actions that give them their reputation as a "toxic energy dump."
3. Ask them to think through their near-term future. Do they want to work elsewhere, or do they want to be part of the company team and its vision and mission? Don't worry if people opt to leave. If they won't support the company, they shouldn't be there.
4. State that people not dedicated to the company vision and mission will be identified by the quality of their work. Those people will be asked to find work elsewhere.
5. Ask what the department can do as a team to help the company achieve its goals. Write down what they say, as this begins to form goals for your department.
6. As a team, turn these ideas into SMART Goals with specific actions and deadlines.

B. Select your best people and put them in charge of tracking progress on the goals, one person per goal. They should be 100% responsible for ensuring those goals are met. Make progress and achieving those goals part of those employees' performance reviews.

C. Revisit and rewrite job descriptions for all employees in the department. Then use those job descriptions to train people and also for evaluating them .

Motivation is fire lit from within. You can't light that fire, but you can create the conditions for that fire to burn brightly.

donderdag 27 december 2012


PSS - 'Professional Selling Skills'

We have all heard the term Professional Selling Skills, the highly structured selling process pioneered by the Xerox photocopier sales organization, but how many of you have heard the term Unprofessional Selling Skills? Although the terminology is not commonly known, many salespeople are actually practicing it. Professional Selling Skills (or “PSS”) is not about throwing a price on the table, allowing the customer to respond to it, and then offering up a discount. To succeed in today’s sales world, it takes a person who is dedicated to continually improving their selling skills. This means they’re willing to invest their time and money into learning as much as they can about how to sell more effectively. They’re not afraid to try new things and, most importantly, they embrace an attitude that drives them to always find success. Start today by examining how “professional” your skills really are and then make the changes where necessary.


woensdag 26 december 2012

The Socratic Selling Method

The Socratic Selling Method

Socratic Method:  A method of teaching or discussion, as used by Socrates, in which one asks a series of easily answered questions that inevitably lead the answerer to a logical conclusion.

- Respect the customer
- Help the customer think
- Help the customer make decisions.

The most common complaint about sales people is, from both customers and sales managers is that sales people simply talk too much. And since most of us do indeed talk too much, what do you think the second most frequent complaint we hear about sales people would be? Sales people don't listen.

One simple way to combat both of these short comings is to integrate the Socratic Selling Method into our transactions. We can trace its origins all the way back to 400 BC! That's when Socrates, the famous philosopher from Athens, first introduced the art of collaborative debate or asking easily answered questions to help someone come to a logical conclusion.

The customer owns the past.
The customer has no stake in the future – until the past has been dealt with.
Help the customer tell the story.

We learned early on in our selling careers that the person asking the questions has control. It's just that most of us only take the time to learn questions that help us land the customer on a particular unit and close the deal. (remember the ABC: always be closing) These are questions that our customers perceive as only serving us, not them. With Socratic questioning, each question draws us and our customer closer. We get a better understanding of how best to serve our customer. They get a feeling of being valued and understood. We both join our strengths in a collaborative effort to satisfy their needs. The result is a less stressful, much less combative, and much shorter (time wise) transaction.

Here's what's involved:

First, we need to open the transaction with what's called a "Socratic opener". Typically, this occurs right after our greeting and it gives notice our intention of serving our customer's needs and not ours. If they mention a product/service they are interested in, we say, "Mr. Customer, I'm fully prepared to discuss the xxx with you, so first let me get your perspective on it, that way we can focus our time together on the things that interest you the most."

If they don't have a particular product/service in mind, we can modify it this way, "Mr. Customer, I'm fully prepared to help you make the best choice, the one that's right for you. So, first let me get your feelings about your needs, and that way we can focus our time together on the things that interest you the most."

By announcing we are "prepared," we demonstrate that we are responsible and competent. By acting responsibly, we begin the building of our own credibility. By inviting our customer to tell us what is important to them, we show them that we value their time and their input. We also begin the transaction in a collaborative manner. By stating we want to focus the time spent together on what they think is important, we give our customer the control most buyers long for. We also tell them that we won't be wasting their time.

Next, we need to help them put more of their information out on the table by using Socratic probes. Socratic probes are nothing more than easily answered questions. "Tell me more...", or "What else should I know about...", or "Why is that important to you?", or "How will you be using...", or "What else would help me understand...", or "Could you please expound upon...". These questions are also very easy for us to ask. As long as we have the front part of the question committed to memory, the rest of the question just sort of asks itself based on what our customer has already told us.

Another important aspect of encouraging our customers to share their wants, needs, fears, and goals is that, once they do, our solutions will be more credible. Now our suggestions will be much more appealing because they have been tailored specifically to them. By allowing our customer to do the majority of the talking, we also get to pace two of their most basic human needs. We get a chance to help them feel valued and understood.

Another benefit of Socratic probes is creating urgency. Often salespeople still use time of the month, sales quotas, or expiring incentives to create urgency. What most salespeople do not realize is that many of their customers perceive these "reasons" as only benefiting the dealership and salesperson ("Do I really have to care about your sales quotas to get a good deal?") or, even worse, as artificial sales ploys ("How long have you guys had rebates now? Twenty years? Isn't it mysterious how they always seem to be 'just about to end' right about the time I decide to buy a car?"). The customer goes along with them, of course, as they do with most other dated sales practices, as simply something they have to put up with to buy a car.

We can use Socratic probes to create truly relevant urgency. We can ask: "Why now?", or "You said you weren't in a hurry, right? That's interesting. So what made you visit a dealership at this time?", or "What makes this urgent?", or "What made you get started today?". This is information we can use later to help create real urgency that is relevant to our customer. These are our customer's reasons to do business based on our customer's needs. Now to create urgency, we only have to remind our customer about what they said was urgent enough to make them set foot on a car lot.

Major buying decisions are made emotionally first and then we'll grab whatever logic is available at the time to justify the emotional decision we've already made. We can get a handle on what our customers are feeling by asking questions like: "What worries you the most about this?", or "I can tell you're frustrated by this, how come?", or "What do you want to avoid this time?", or "Why is this important to you?", or "How will this affect you and/or your company?", or "How does that make you feel?".

I suppose now would be a good time to remind ourselves that in order for these questions to have their desired effect, we need to listen to what our customer is telling us. The skill of Active Listening is one that most sales people ignore and is one of the skill sets that separates the good sales person from the truly excellent sales professional.

The four elements to Active Listening are:

- Attentive Body Language (head nods, eye contact, smiling, etc.)
- Verbal Attends (small grunts like "uh huh", "okay", "sure", "I see", etc.)
- Leading Questions (open-ended questions that encourage them to talk more)
- Restate (paraphrasing back what our customer has said to us).

Active Listening is not simply waiting for our turn to talk. It's not interrupting them to show that we already know what they are talking about. It's not interrupting them to interject how our product or service satisfies the need they just shared with us. It's not anything more than simply allowing our customer to completely share with us their story, then playing that story back to them, and gaining clarification or confirmation by asking: "Do I have it right?", or "Did I hear you correctly?", or "Am I getting the picture?", or "How's that sound?", or "Did I miss anything?".

You haven’t listened until you can show you have listened.

We continue to ask the questions we've all been taught while landing them on a specific product/service, performing a good feature/benefit presentation.

Then we can advance the decision making process by asking easily answered questions like: "If you were to go ahead with this, how would you like your insurance agent updated with the new vehicle info?", or "If you decided to proceed, when would you like the xxx installed?", or "If you were shown three compelling reasons to do business with a particular dealership, would you be willing to at least keep an open mind?", or "On a scale of one to ten, ten meaning you love it and are ready to own it, one meaning you hate it and wouldn't even take it if it were given to you, where would you say you are?", then, "What would have to occur to make it a ten?".

In these questions we reduce the pressure by using conditional words like: if, were to, and would. We also reduce the pressure by eliminating words like: us, I, me, and we. We can make them even easier to answer by excluding our product brand or dealership name and by refraining from the use of words like: now, or today. When they answer us, we can assume the "us", "our product", "our dealership", and "today". Besides, we'll have plenty of time to be "more concrete" later on if the need arises.

In the negotiations, our goal is to keep the process one of collaboration and not one of confrontation. We can start by stating their interests through summarizing what our customer has told us concerning their wants, needs, time urgency, and feelings. We get their clarification or confirmation by asking: "Did I get it right?", or "How's that sound?", or "Did I miss anything?". Then we make our proposal based on what they've told us, making sure we tie the recommendations to benefits and tailor them to our customer. We then seek their approval by asking: "What's your feelings about this?".

If an objection comes up, we can give them an answer tailored specifically to them by what they have stated to us already. If a tailored answer isn't clear to us, we can get clarification by helping our customer think it through by asking: "Why is that important to you?", or "Why is that important right now?", or "Why do you ask?", or "What is it you're wanting to discuss?".

If they make a counter offer that is not acceptable, we can preserve the collaborative environment by

-          stating again their interests (their wants, needs, time urgency, and feelings)
-          restating their position (whatever their counter offer is)
-          saying, "It's important to me that you understand why what you're asking is a bit more than they are able to do."
-          giving the reasons why we can't do what they are asking
-          saying, "May I share with you a solution I think will be acceptable to everyone?"
-          making a counter proposal.

Don’t negotiate just to get the sale. Negotiate to upgrade the sale for yourself and the customer.

Help the customer make the buying decision. Regain the momentum by summarising. Make a diary statement. “In order to do this for you, let’s get out our diaries and schedule the next steps.” Specify the next steps:
-          Actions the customer offers to take.
-          Actions the customer wants you to take.
-          Actions you offer to take.
-          Actions you want the customer to take.
-          Attach dates to all action steps.

Time is the recorder of responsibility.  Close on a point in time.

As with any new skill, the Socratic Selling Method requires lots of practice and refining to our vocabulary, personality, and philosophy of doing business. Making the sales transaction one of collaboration and not one of confrontation is possible when we engage our customers in the process. By asking easily answered questions, we not only gain insight into what our customer's dominant buying motives are, but we also help our customers feel valued and understood. By taking the extra time to get to know and engage our customer, we actually dramatically speed up the buying process.

We've all heard this before, "Our customers don't care how much we know until they know how much we care." Socratic Selling gives us the opportunity to demonstrate to our clients that we really are different and that we actually do care.


zaterdag 22 december 2012

Motivate your sales team

How to motivate your sales team?

A motivated sales force can exceed your expectations for revenue and for profit. How do you motivate them to go above and beyond? Here are some ideas:

Foster a team environment
Coach and mentor them
Create some friendly competition
Listen to their pain points
Give them the tools they need to succeed
Show them the money and appreciation

1. Foster a team environment

Many companies find that a team mindset can provide great results.
Do your sales people feel like a team or is everyone out there as a lone ranger? Even if the nature of your business requires people to work individually there is value in having a shared sales goal and business identity.

When people communicate, they can also begin to collaborate better. Senior salespeople can help junior salespeople. Sales conferences, group training, team meetings, team building events, and social gatherings can all help you foster a better team environment.

2. Coach and Mentor Them

Sales is an evolving role. Today it’s not about just selling but about fostering relationships with customers. Foster relationships with your sales people and you’ll get better results from them just like you will with your clients.

Coaching and training sales staff can result in significant improvement in results. People respond to individual feedback on performance. You may consider implementing one-on-one meetings on a monthly basis with all of your salespeople, for example. This is where you can give praise when it’s due and help struggling salespeople overcome challenges as well.

3. Creating some friendly competition

Salespeople tend to be competitive by nature and motivated by money. Internal contests can inspire great results and can also be a great way to foster team collaboration, too. Regular contests can make a big difference in the mindset and the morale of your sales team.

4. Listen to their pain points

Regular sales staff meetings and individual one-on-one meetings can help address issues and problems that your salespeople are experiencing. Listen to your salespeople and act on their concerns. A happy and steam lined sales team leads to motivated and long lasting employees.

5. Give them the tools they need to succeed

Do you have outdated sales tools? Do your sales tracking, CRM, and order fulfillment tools help salespeople do their jobs or do they make life difficult or just add another step in their day? Upgrading to the sales right tools can help your staff become better at what they do. Your efforts of continuously improving processes in the company can translate to a salesperson being able to continuously improve his or her results.

6. Show them the money and appreciation

Recognize excellence with compensation. You can do this with cash, gifts, plaques of appreciation, and so on. This probably seems pretty obvious but how long has it been since you reviewed your company’s compensation plan?  Is it considered competitive for your industry? Are you rewarding the performers and inspiring those who are struggling to try a little harder? Regularly review compensation and incentives to make sure you continue to inspire people through rewarding excellence.

Whether you implement some of these suggestions or all of them, continually working to motivate your staff can yield some great results!


zondag 16 december 2012

Why a Sales Director is important

Why a great Sales Director is important

What’s the best? A team of excellent salespeople with an average manager or a team of average salespeople with an excellent manager?

Many will choose for the team of excellent salespeople:

•"It's salespeople — not managers — who develop and nurture the customer relationships that drive sales."
•"Replacing one average manager is easier than replacing an entire team of average salespeople."
•"An excellent salesperson doesn't need managing."

Others will argue for the excellent manager:

•"Excellent managers consistently recruit the best sales talent. 'First-class hires first-class; second-class hires third-class.'"
•"Excellent managers motivate excellent salespeople, develop average salespeople to make them excellent, and keep the entire team engaged and aligned."
•"Excellent salespeople make sales today, but eventually they retire, get promoted, or get wooed away by a competitor." 

Clearly, the best sales forces have both excellent salespeople and excellent managers. A team of excellent salespeople will win sales and make this year's goal, regardless of who the manager is. But the success of that team will be short-lived. Eventually, an average manager will bring all of the salespeople that he manages down to his level. On the other hand, an excellent manager will bring excellence to all her territories. An excellent manager may inherit average salespeople, but in the long run he will counsel, coach, motivate, or replace salespeople until the entire team is excellent.

Companies that have winning sales forces start with excellent managers. Most sales organizations focus considerable energy to build a team of excellent salespeople, yet regrettably, they focus too little attention on building the management team, which is truly "the force behind the sales force." Consider the following evidence.

Role definition: Most companies have a job description for salespeople, and many have a defined sales process specifying how salespeople should work with customers. But too many companies don't do a good job of defining the more varied responsibilities of managers. Managers must play three roles, people, customer, and business managers, so they get pulled from all sides. We hear all the time about "role pollution" in the manager's job. Without role clarity, managers execute tasks that are urgent or within their comfort zone, rather than focusing on what's most important for driving long-term performance.

Selection: Companies devote substantial energy to recruiting the best sales talent, but when it comes to managers, most simply select their best salespeople for the job. Yet what it takes to succeed as a salesperson is very different from what it takes to succeed as a manager. Unless you select salespeople who have strong managerial tendencies, in addition to respectable sales skills, your sales management team will be average at best.

Development: Too often, when sales managers come into their jobs after having been successful salespeople, their company expects them to know how to manage with minimal guidance. Most of the companies spend training their sales forces every year, very little gets directed towards sales managers. The result is inconsistent competency across most management teams, as new managers struggle to make the critical transition from salesperson, and experienced managers can't keep up with ever-changing job demands.

Support: Sales managers typically rank third, behind salespeople and senior sales leadership, when it comes to prioritizing sales force support initiatives (such as access to support personnel and resources, and data and tools that enable good decision making and increase efficiency). Rarely do managers get enough support resources for getting everything done — and done well.

Sales managers serve as key points of leverage for driving long-term sales performance. It's a mistake to underinvest in this group. By building a winning sales management team, you can capitalize on a high-impact, tangible opportunity to drive sales effectiveness and top and bottom line results.

zaterdag 8 december 2012

Best Practices in Sales 2.0

Best Practices of top performing salespeople

The big difference between Sales 2.0 and Sales 1.0 (= old school selling) is where sales people should spend their time and energy in the sales process.
The graph illustrates this point. It shows the time and energy sales people need to put into the sales process graphed against the stages in the sales process. 

At a high level the four stages in the sales process are:
1. Prepare
2. Prospect
3. Progress (move opportunities towards closure)
4. Close
Many people wonder what separates a top performing salesperson from the rest of the pack. In most cases, it’s because they apply a number of best practices in their daily routine.

1. They set HIGH TARGETS and goals. Top performers don’t wait for their manager to issue an annual or quarterly quota. They set their own goals that are usually more ambitious than the corporate targets.

2. They carefully PLAN their quarter, month and week, as well as their daily schedule. Too many salespeople fly by the seat of their pants and only look at the day or week ahead instead of planning their month and quarter. Look at the big picture.

3. They set OBJECTIVES for every sales call. It is essential to know exactly what you want to accomplish before you make your call (face-to-face or telephone).

4. They ASK high-value questions that probe to the heart of the issue. Sounds simple but most salespeople fail at this and ask weak, feeble questions. Top performers are comfortable asking tough questions that make their prospect think.

5. They LISTEN carefully to what their prospects and customers say instead of waiting for their turn to speak.  Listen to your customer. You can ask all the questions in the world but if you don’t hear what people tell you, you won’t be able to present the proper solution.

6. They CLARIFY the issue when they are unclear what their prospect means. People often say things that are unclear and most salespeople assume they know what their prospect means. Top performers take the time to fully understand by asking “What do you mean by that?” or “Can you clarify that for me?”

7. They WAIT TO PRESENT their product, service, solution or idea until they know exactly what their prospect’s situation is. The majority of salespeople jump too quickly into their “sales pitch” but top performers are patient and wait for the right moment.

8. They begin every sales presentation with a brief RECAP of their understanding of the prospect’s situation. Again, a simple concept but one that is greatly ignored by many salespeople. A quick summary of your customer’s situation gives you the opportunity to ensure that your presentation addresses their key issues.

9. They know how to ADAPT their sales presentation if their prospect’s situation has changed. Making changes on-the-fly is challenging but it is one way to stand out from your competition. Learn how to modify your presentation when a customer’s situation has changed from the time you initially met to the time you are delivering your presentation.

10. They know how to properly and effectively POSITION their product, service or solution. The vast majority of salespeople fail miserably at this. They talk, talk, talk but usually end up talking about aspects of their product or solution that have little or no relevance to their customer’s situation.

11. Their sales presentations FOCUS on the prospect. Most sales presentations focus on the seller’s company, their product, or other trivial information that is of no interest to the customer.

12. They are PREPARED for potential objections. Top performers anticipate objections and plan their response before their sales call.

13.  They always establish the NEXT STEPS. Decision makers are busier than ever which means they are more difficult to connect with. Avoid losing contact with a prospect. You do this by agreeing on the next steps after every sales call. Do this in face-to-face meetings and telephone calls.

14.  They FOLLOW-UP after the initial call or meeting. Many a sale has been lost because the sales rep failed to follow up after the initial call. You cannot rely on your prospect or customer to call you; you need to take this initiative. Set this up during your call or meeting.

15.  They PROSPECT continually to keep their pipeline full. It’s not uncommon for sales reps to experience peaks and valleys in their sales. This is usually a result of failing to prospect for new business on a regular basis. Avoid the highs and lows and schedule time to prospect for new business every week.

16.  They deal with the DECISION-MAKER whenever possible. Dealing with people who have little or no buying authority is a waste of time. However, many salespeople fall into this trap because it is easier to connect with people other than the decision maker. And that may be true. However, in the long run, they end wasting their time because they don’t close the deal.

17.  They look for ways to KEEP IN TOUCH with their customers. A sale is not a one-time deal. However, you need to find ways to keep your name in your customer’s mind to prevent a competitor from squeezing in. Top performers incorporate this into their schedule and make it a priority.