Tag Archives: Sales Tips

How Do You Manage “Talk Time” Selling Activities?

 

By Michael Pedone 


“Shouldn’t my Social Prospecting (LinkedIn, Twitter, Emails etc) be counted towards my TALK TIME selling activities?”

(This question was in response to a post on how much talk time a salesperson should have per day where I recommended 60-dials & or 3 hours of talk time per day)

Answer:

Prospecting, INMHO, no matter what your method (including social media etc) should not be counted as “talk time” for this very simple reason…

You can prospect / generate all the leads you want, but if your talk time is low, it won’t matter.

Most salespeople make the mistake of using what I call the “hunt and peck” method of selling… they come in to work, fire up the computer and start prospecting for leads… find one, call it, leave voicemail… Prospect for another lead, find one, call and deal with gatekeeper… prospect for another lead (etc, etc)

This is an ineffective sales strategy. I’ve found it to be much more profitable to have my list of calls (divided up into two groups:

  • First time calls and
  • Follow-up calls

These groups should be ready to go before ever walking into the office the next day.

Time Management Prospecting

9 A.M. till 9:45 A.M.

If I come in and have my first time prospecting calls lined up and set aside time from 9 A.M. till 9:45 A.M. and do nothing but make first time calls, by my third call, I’m getting into a rhythm and I’m prepared on the type of lead so I’ll know what to say no matter if I get the gatekeeper, voicemail or prospect.

9:45 A.M to 10:00 A.M.

Now, from 9:45 A.M to 10:00 A.M. I can check email, take a quick break etc.

10:00 A.M. till 10:45 A.M.

I’m back at it hitting the phones calling a list I had already prepared the day before.

Following a system like that you can knock out 40 calls before lunch or have a high talk time before Noon (assuming you have a solid sales process / posses top phone skills)

1:00 P.M. till 1:45 P.M.

Lunch time do your thing, and at 1:00 P.M. till 1:45 P.M. make your follow-up calls.

2:00 P.M. to 2:45 P.M. the same.

By 3 P.M. you’ll have made more calls in one day than some do in 3 days and you’ll want a break from the phone… So now take an hour to prospect, build your list for tomorrow etc. Then get back on the phones to finish the day out.

Of course you’ll have call backs and new inbound leads coming in and you’ll handle those on a case by case basis, but I’ve found that having some structure / game plan produces better results than does being a Captain Wing It.

So to answer your question, NO, for me, I would not allow myself to use “prospecting” as part of the 3 hours of talk time. The other 5 hours of the day could be part of that, but not the 3 hours of talk time.

 

Relationships Are Everything

By Brian Tracy, Salesopedia

Your Foundation for Success
Relationship Selling is the core of all modern selling strategies. Your ability to develop and maintain long-term customer relationships is the foundation for your success as a salesperson and your success in business. Relationship selling requires a clear understanding of the dynamics of the selling process as they are experienced by your customer.

Propose a Business Marriage
For your customer, a buying decision usually means a decision to enter into a long-term relationship with you and your company. It is very much like a “business marriage.” Before the customer decides to buy, he can take you or leave you. He doesn’t need you or your company. He has a variety of options and choices open to him, including not buying anything at all. But when your customer makes a decision to buy from you and gives you money for the product or service you are selling, he becomes dependent on you. And since he has probably had bad buying experiences in the past, he is very uneasy and uncertain about getting into this kind of dependency relationship.

Fulfill Your Promises
What if you let the customer down? What if your product does not work as you promised? What if you don’t service it and support it as you promised? What if it breaks down and he can’t get it replaced? What if the product or service is completely inappropriate for his needs? These are real dilemmas that go through the mind of every customer when it comes time to make the critical buying decision.

Focus on the Relationship
Because of the complexity of most products and services today, especially high-tech products, the relationship is actually more important than the product. The customer doesn’t know the ingredients or components of your product, or how your company functions, or how he will be treated after he has given you his money, but he can make an assessment about you and about the relationship that has developed between the two of you over the course of the selling process. So in reality, the customer’s decision is based on the fact that he has come to trust you and believe in what you say.

Build a Solid Trust Bond
In many cases, the quality of your relationship with the customer is the competitive advantage that enables you to edge out others who may have similar products and services. The quality of the trust bond that exists between you and your customers can be so strong that no other competitor can get between you.

Keep Your Customers for Life
The single biggest mistake that causes salespeople to lose customers is taking those customers for granted. This is a form of “customer entropy.” It is when the salesperson relaxes his efforts and begins to ignore the customer. Almost 70 percent of customers who walked away from their existing suppliers later replied that they made the change primarily because of a lack of attention from the company.

Once you have invested the time and made the efforts necessary to build a high-quality, trust-based relationship with your customer, you must maintain that relationship for the life of your business. You must never take it for granted.

Action Exercises
First, focus on building a high quality relationship with each customer by treating your customer so well that he comes back, buys again and refers you to his friends.

Second, pay attention to your existing customers. Tell them you appreciate them. Look for ways to thank them and encourage them to come back and do business with you again.

5 Simple Strategies to Sell Successfully

By Vanessa Merit Nornberg, Inc.com

Sales is a journey. If the customer does not understand where you are headed and why she should come along, she won’t.

Making a sale should be easy, especially when you have the right product. But lots of people make it more complicated than it needs to be, and lose the prospective client in the process.

Here are my five “make it happen” steps to get the green light rather than put on the brakes:

Cut to the chase.

A good sales person doesn’t waste time with filler words. He starts talking about the product right away. Here’s an example. A website developer calls your company and starts by saying, “I am glad I finally got a hold of you. It took me more than 10 minutes to find your contact information on your website. My company does web development, and we could help you quickly fix that. Your customers would then be less frustrated and more easily able to contact you. Can I go over the site with you and find out what else you might like it to be able to do?” As the person being pitched, I am now fully engaged in the web developer’s product–because he showed me he did his homework, and can solve a problem I did not know I had.

Skip the jargon.

Whether your product is technical in nature or you just tend to be on the know-it-all side of the spectrum, find a simple way to explain your product that anyone can follow. Customers don’t want to need an explanation–they want to understand right away. My husband and I recently looked to buy a new mattress, and were confronted with all kinds of features to choose from. Rather than use empty pseudo-technical terms like moisture-wick and memory foam, a salesperson carefully went over why his mattress would last longer, how its structure would keep us from waking each other with our movements, and why the two different materials on its faces would help us be comfortable in any weather.

Paint a picture.

You will not always have the luxury of meeting with your customer face to face. Learn how to describe your product in a way that even someone who has never seen it can imagine what it is. At my company, we sell products over the phone. We have several items that are made of wood, and often lesser-known wood species, so they can be hard for the customer to envision. We received a new product last week, and I had not yet seen it, but I heard one of our sales reps describing it to a customer as looking like the inside of a tree when it is freshly cut. I was pleased; I knew immediately that it was lighter in color, had a ring pattern, and a visible grain.

Get curious.

When you speak to a customer, concentrate on finding out about the customer instead of making your pitch. Asking open-ended questions, and then carefully listening to the answers will always get you further than delivering a monologue. A bank I never would have considered recently landed a meeting with me because the sales rep–after hearing I was not interested in changing credit card processors–asked me if there was anything I was frustrated with at my current bank. I was mad enough to want to talk about it, and he was astute enough to carefully connect my discontent to how his bank is different.

Make it matter.

Your product may have a ton of benefits, but they are worthless if the customer you sell to doesn’t need them. Be able to constantly reframe those product benefits so that the particular customer with whom you are speaking understands the direct impact the product could have on his world. Our current health insurance broker won my business not because he explained to me how he was going to save me money (that was not a priority for me), but because his product offered a web portal that was able to help my employees clearly understand their health care options, and made my job as the administrator less burdensome. Those were the high priorities on my list.

A good way to think of selling is like a journey on which you are leading your customer. If the customer does not understand where you are headed and why she should come along, she will either choose not to take the trip, or wander off in a different direction midway through. All you have to do is get her excited about the destination, tell her all the beautiful things she will see along the way, and answer any questions she has so she feels safe and can enjoy the route.

Are Sales People Afraid?

By Monika D’Agostino
CONSULTATIVE SALES ACADEMY

I know, it sounds a bit silly. Afraid of what?
Well, here is the thing. In my experience, many sales people are actually afraid of rejection. Why?

Because there is no business practice where you have to bring yourself in as much as when selling. Whether it’s selling a product or a service, sales is emotional and personal. We professionals in sales live by how well we perform. That means our livelihood is in the balance every day, every call, every client interaction. Though not as common in a traditional sales environment, fear can also be felt in a consultative sales environment.

So where does this fear originate? 
It starts with the cold calling/prospecting efforts that most sales people are terrified of. Hint to CEOs and sales managers – sales people who don’t like cold calling will most likely try to avoid it at any cost.

It could be a mindset issue that is keeping you from breaking through to others. Although counter-intuitive, being afraid of success is something fairly common in the business world (or on a personal level). In a sales environment it’s a lot more transparent and easier to detect. The effects are also a lot more drastic, because so many sales people depend on earning commission.

Fear-less Cold-calling/Prospecting? Is there such a thing?
There is various ways to deal with the fear of cold-calling issue.
You can hire an inside sales person or a lead generation team to take the cold calling off your sales people.

You can help your sales people overcome the reluctance of cold calling. Structuring the prospecting process with the right kind of research and providing training are two of a number of ways to reduce the fear of cold-calling.

But the fear usually doesn’t stop after that. Sales people need to bring themselves in at every step of the sales process. Sales people are mostly measured by numbers. And if we don’t put numbers on the books it puts enormous pressure on us.

Afraid to Ask for a Sale? 
Not everybody is equipped to ask for money and that’s essentially what we need to do in a sales environment. We are asking people to trust us to part with their or their company’s funds. If our prospects end up buying from us and the product/service doesn’t meet their needs, we will be held accountable for that decision. All of those areas are deeply emotional and directly connected to mindset. A good salesperson can be trained on how and when to ask for a sale that is not fear-inducing!

Is Fear Rational Behavior? 
In the world of sales, fear is often irrational. Just as we are not afraid of flying because we don’t like to be up in the air, we are afraid because we could die and we have no “control”. Doesn’t sound very rational when we put it in those terms, does it? Take the fear of public speaking – it is so intense that some people freeze up although there is no imminent danger lurking.

Help Can Be Right There In Your Team! 
The most effective way to help sales people be more comfortable in a sales environment is to help them feel more confident. Confidence often stems from having been successful, so when companies establish an environment where sales people are nurtured and trained rather than pushed and reprimanded, success flows more freely.

Also, understand what your sales people are good at and where the weaknesses (or as we prefer to say: the opportunities) lie. That is essential when helping them. If you have a strong cold caller on your team, tap into that talent (trust me, it’s rare) and share commission when revenue is closed.

When you have a strong “closer” on your team, bring him/her into final meetings to lend support. Very often we ask too much of sales people and the feeling over being overwhelmed results in panic, desperation and in the worst case scenario unprofessional behavior.

What Are We Best At? 
So, in the end, always try to analyze why your sales people are not producing. Develop their strengths, and nurture their areas of opportunities through training and support. The investment you make can pay off manifold if you choose training that actually effects real behavioral change!

And finally, just maybe, some sales people might not really be equipped to be in sales. You might detect that in the way they position your company offering, or in their attitude and/or work habits. You will definitely find out if revenue is lacking. Whatever changes you decide to make to increase your sales revenues, make sure you know your sales staff well. They are your first and foremost representation. We should all shine as sales people, and we should be supported to do just that. And that will result in a lot more “fearless” salespeople!

 

Secrets of Top Sellers And What You Can Do To Become One

By Jill Knorath

Selling is tough! There’s no doubt about it. Customers demand more at the same time their loyalty is plummeting. Cutthroat competitors seem willing to practically give things away just to get the business. Even setting up meetings with new prospects is a major ordeal. Busy decision makers don’t want to “waste” their time with product-pushing peddlers.

There are a hundred million reasons why you can’t sell today. I’ve heard them all. Yet some sellers are having their best year ever. They’re not one bit smarter than you are. Nor are their product or service offerings superior to yours.

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But they do think differently from you. Here’s what you can do to be like the “best of the best.”

Be Personally Accountable

Top sellers regularly encounter the same challenges you do, but steadfastly refuse to blame the economy, competitors, marketing, pricing, or even customers for lackluster sales results. These are simply obstacles that must be overcome. They assume personal responsibility for their future, believing they can impact it—a simple decision with far-reaching consequences.

When faced with difficult situations, average sellers bemoan their miserable fate then pose questions like these:

* When will management do something about these problems?

* Why is our quota still the same when it’s obvious the economy is down?

* When will marketing get their act together?

* Why can’t our prospects understand our products value?

* When will they offer us some good training?

* Who came up with that ridiculous promotion?

* When will customers stop being so demanding?

Perhaps you’ve even voiced questions like this at some point in your career. These why, who and when questions ensure blame is deflected towards others. If “they” do something different, then you can be successful. This puts you into a victim mode. You’re stuck with a lousy situation over which you have no control. No wonder you can’t succeed!

But if you talk to top sellers, you’ll find they ask very different questions. For example, you might hear them asking:

* How can I meet my numbers despite the difficult market conditions?

* What can I do to help customers understand why our products are a better long-term value?

* What new skills do I need to learn to be more successful?

* What can I do to help marketing realize I need different tools to sell more?

* How can I use my customer’s demands to solidify our relationship?

Because top sellers accept the responsibility for their success, their questions start with “How can I” or “What can I?” These kinds of questions also stimulate thinking. You’ll be amazed at how many new ideas you can come up when you change the question. Your brain will kick into gear, making connections with other strategies you’ve used previously to overcome similar problems. Simply by changing the question, you find solutions you didn’t even know existed.

Say I Will, Not I’ll Try

This may sound too easy, but it’s a key step. In these turbulent times, what you’ve always done to be successful in sales may not work as well as it used to. Acknowledge this and make an “I will” commitment to change. Not I’ll try, but I will—there’s a big difference.

For example, have you ever said you’ll try to lose weight? Did you? Losing weight means doing things that make you uncomfortable—like watching what and how much you eat, and exercising on a regular basis. If you’re like most people, you lost some weight initially but after awhile returned to your old habits and the pounds came back on.

The same thing happens in selling. Many sales professionals know new ways of selling are needed. They try new strategies or tactics they’ve heard worked for others. But the first time they try these new behaviors, they’re miserably uncomfortable and feel like a novice again. When immediate results aren’t forthcoming, they quickly revert to their comfort zone convinced the new techniques don’t work—at least for their customers.

Top salespeople say, “I will figure out how to succeed in today’s crazy market.” When trying new behaviors, they feel the same discomfort as you do but accept it as a natural consequence of learning. They keep practicing till they’ve mastered the new skill. If the desired results still don’t come, these top sellers continue searching for knowledge and skills that lead them to success.

Do you see the difference? Top sellers don’t say, “I’ll try.” They know change is difficult, takes time and is an on-going process. Their “I will” commitment keeps them going even when times are tough.

Take Action

Last, but certainly not least, top sellers don’t just come up with a bunch of ideas. They act on them. If they feel their selling skills need to be enhanced, they sign up for workshops. If the company won’t pay, they use their own funds. If customers don’t value their products, they try different approaches until they find one that works. If a customer’s service problems affect future sales, they do what it takes to resolve them. If better sales tools are needed, they work with marketing to develop them.

If top sellers are stymied by a sales situation, they get help from a variety of resources. They brainstorm with colleagues. They seek their boss’s advice. They call internal or external consultants who might have valuable insights. They enlist corporate leaders to make high-level sales calls. They explore new ways of working with business partners.

Do you do that when the going gets tough? Or do you talk at length with fellow sales reps, lamenting the dire economic conditions, competitive pressures and miserable state of affairs in your company?

Everyone gets down occasionally and blows off steam. But top sellers don’t wallow in self-pity. Very soon they ask “How can I” or “What can I” questions to stimulate options and move themselves to action. Meanwhile, their less successful counterparts are still on the phone playing the “Ain’t it Awful” game.

An easy way to get started on this process is to analyze a sale you’ve recently lost. Ask yourself: What could I have done differently to increase my likelihood of success? Dissect your sale in detail, looking at every stage of the sales cycle to identify where mistakes may have been made, steps omitted, the process rushed or important information overlooked. Think about what else you could have done or how you could have handled things differently. You don’t have to do this alone; your colleagues can provide valuable insight based on their unique perspective.

Write down all your thoughts, ideas or suggestions on paper. Then analyze the list, separating symptoms from root causes. Try to determine where changes in tactics or strategy could have impacted sales success. Again, get input from others.

Finally, commit to growing from this valuable learning experience and take action. Perhaps you need to strengthen your presentation skills—get a book, watch a peer, or role-play with your manager. Perhaps you need a better grasp of customer needs—write down questions to ask for tomorrow’s sales call. Perhaps you need to call on higher-level decision makers—do it now on an in-process sale. Whatever you learn in this process is an incredible opportunity for personal development.

The Reflection in the Mirror

Being brutally honest with yourself can be painful, but top sellers willingly do it on a regular basis. To be like them, you need to take a good hard look in the mirror too.

During tough times, do you ask “How can I” and “What can I” questions or do you point fingers to assign blame? Do you say “I will” and commit to change or do you say, “I’ll try”? Do you take action or wait for somebody else to do something?

No one can make you do things differently; the decision to change is yours alone. However, to be a top seller, you must commit to personally accountability for your success and act on it. There aren’t any shortcuts or quick fixes. It’s a life-long process of growth and development. But if you make this commitment, you will be a top seller—maybe not overnight, but over time and consistently. Results are guaranteed.

 

You’re the Missing Link in Your Sales Success

By Joanne Black

Make a direct connection with your referral network. It makes all the difference.

When salespeople receive a referral, their close rate exceeds 50 percent (clients tell me typically 70 percent or higher). Leads from other, less-direct sources have a 1 to 3 percent close rate.

“Personal” Pushes Sales to Success

The definition of a referral is a personal introduction. The introduction can be by phone, email, or in person. If you just get a name, you are making a cold call. Yes, a cold call. You interrupt the person, they don’t expect your call, and they might not even believe that the person you mentioned actually referred you.

I view nearly everyone as a part of my Referral Network. And the people who know the people I want to meet become my Referral Sources. These Referral Sources are the (really cool) people who offer to introduce me.

Your Referral Source (your mutual connection) must reach out to your desired contact first and verify that it’s OK for you to contact them. Then, an email introduction makes sense, as you then share relevant contact information. Too many salespeople ask for referrals through technology alone—leaving your Referral Source with very little information. Plus, you miss the opportunity to reach out and reconnect.

With a little “instruction” you can empower your Referral Source to introduce you. Teach them how to introduce you. (For example, how do you want “what you do” to be described?) Teach them about your Ideal Client, and provide them with the answers to these critical questions:

  • What business issues do you solve?
  • What is the function of your Ideal Client? (CEO, VP, IT, Marketing)
  • In what industry or geography do you work?
  • What size company is your sweet spot?

Want to gain traction with your referrals? Always reconnect before you ask for the referral introduction. Don’t rely on technology alone to boost your referrals. Remember, people do business with people, and referrals are based on a trusted relationship. The missing link…is you.

Territory Management: How to Prioritize Your Sales Activities to Produce Maximum Results

By Alan Rigg

How you prioritize your sales territory management activities depends upon whether you are managing a territory that has existing customers, or whether you are building your customer base from scratch.

If you manage a territory that has existing customers, your first priority should be to introduce yourself to every single one of your customers. This should be a pleasant, low-key introduction along the lines of, “I just wanted to introduce myself and see if there is anything I can do to help you.” Then, as you are chatting with your customers, you can ask, “Would you mind sharing with me how you think my company’s relationship with you has been going so far? What have we been doing well? Where could we improve?”

Collecting this kind of feedback is a great way to start relationships with customers. It also helps you draw any festering problems out into the open. If you can address the problems quickly, it can really jump-start your relationships with the affected customers.

This same approach can also be effective for customers that have been reducing their purchases from your company over time, or customers that have stopped ordering completely. It is never much fun to listen to people complain. But, if you can isolate and solve the problems that are causing the dissatisfaction, you can produce a rapid and substantial boost in sales.

If you find customers that are really happy with the service your company has provided, drill down (with more questions) to determine just what has made them so happy. Their answers will provide you with a template for successfully managing their (and other) accounts. Also, ask these happy customers for referrals, regardless of whether you have contributed in any way to their happiness! Happy, satisfied customers are usually delighted to share their positive experience with others.

Once you have met all of your existing customers, the next step is to identify target prospects in your territory

Start by checking with your manager. If they have been managing your sales team for any period of time, they should be able to suggest some good target prospects.

Once you have compiled a list of target prospects, determine which ones you will pursue first. Which target prospects have the greatest potential to purchase the largest amounts of products and services? Which ones are likely to be “quick closes”? If you have both types of target prospects on your list, pursue several of each type at the same time. In the words of a well-respected executive that I used to work with, “Elephant hunting is great.but those rabbits sure taste good in between the elephants!”

When you are ready to begin pursuing your target prospects, start by asking your existing customers whether they know anyone that works in the target organizations. If they do, ask for referrals. Once you have exhausted available referrals, proceed with the other activities in your prospecting plan – but tailor these activities to attract the attention of your target prospects.

Conclusion

Effective sales territory management begins with touching base with every single one of your existing customers. Ask questions to gauge their satisfaction with their relationship with your company. If they identify any problems, work aggressively to solve these problems as your first priority.

If a customer expresses happiness and satisfaction, ask questions to determine what your company has been doing right. Use this information to create a template for managing all of your accounts. Also be sure to ask for referrals, both in general and to specific target accounts. Exhaust these referrals before you begin the other (less productive) activities in your prospecting plan.

Prioritize your activities as described in this article, and you will maximize sales growth in your territory!