Friday, April 24, 2015
“Nothing happens till someone sells something".
Top 10 reasons why sales people fail.
1/ It’s Not Their Fault
* Ideal characteristics of the sales people - no psychometric testing and benchmarking
* Whether their primary role is find and convert new prospects or service existing clients? (There is a difference.)
* How will they be managed? What are the expectations regarding the way they are to report and their level of accountability?
* What training will they require - technical, personal development, selling skills?
* Whether they are intrinsically or extrinsically driven?
* What are their triggers? Their hot buttons? Their motivators?
* Their level of motivation energy?
* What equipment, collateral, and other support will be needed?
* Ideal prospects and clients for the organisation? Their A class prospect? (All prospects are good. Good for you and good for your competitors!)
* Developing synergy within a sales team with a healthy competitive culture. (Too often it is ‘I win you lose’ esprit de corp.)
2/ They have no or few goals
3/ They have no Plan
4/ They don’t know the sales process.
5/ Lack Enthusiasm.
6/ They are disorganised.
They must become organised in:
* Time management
* Structure of their Sales Presentation
* Preparation to meet each prospect (beginning with pre call planning before even making the initial contact)
* Their territory management
* Follow up - routine and timely
* Meeting all promises and commitments
* Week’s goals and predetermined outcomes
* Knowing why they are meeting and the wanted outcomes to each meeting.
*preparation of sales reports and expense claims
*weekly update (at least) of CRM system.
To gauge a sales person’s preparedness and personal organisation; a manager might check their:
* Presentation folder- current brochures, price lists, order books
* Personal grooming
7/ Spend time in their Low Payoff Activities
* Sales Presentation (which could also be expressed as being in front of a Prospect/Client and discussing their needs)
* Prospecting or getting referrals (which could be networking at industry functions or where other prospects hang out; but only with the clear intent to walk away with one or more prospects)
* Setting up appointments for Sales presentations
* Preparing proposals & quotes
* Follow up proposals
* Attending Sales skills training and Personal development sessions
8/ No Ongoing Prospecting System
If you must, other means include:
* Industry associations
* Channel partners and affiliates
* Trade media (possibly general media)
* Strategic Alliances
* LinkedIn connections
9/ Lack of Desire
10/ In the Long term it’s not their Fault
The ones that take a professional approach and only hire the best people and make available ongoing training to their people, will succeed, grow and prosper. Maybe if this is not you, then it could be your competitor.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015
How high do you want to Fly?
I was brought up to believe attitude was everything.
I agree but I believe there is something even more important than the big A. Another A. ALTITUDE.
We can have the right attitude, but at a level which is far lower than the potential we might be capable of.
We are being conditioned by our community, our government, our industry, media and our family and friends. Often by people who love us the most but want to save us from ourselves. From being hurt.
These people often judge the world from their perspective and how they would react.
Listening to people we respect the most, and if the 'cautions' are repetitious, we start to doubt ourselves and develop a reluctance to take risks. Welcome in the ‘bubble wrap’ and the ‘helicopter’ parents (and grandparents) who hover around their children. Shielding them from any danger or risks.
We become ‘small’ thinkers. Risk adverse. Takers of the soft and safe option.
One refreshing exception was shown on prime television Million Dollar Minute, when an ordinary bloke, Andrew Skarbak, decided not to take his prize of $750,000, but risk it all for $1m.He had been challenged by cancer and was in debt for his treatment. He risked it all NOT once but three times. (While his wife was supportive the first time, her patience was tested by the final chance). He showed both courage and ‘take a risk and not die wondering’ attitude. He looked on the event from a lofty altitude.
What would you have done? Honestly?
The exciting message for us is he won. “The good guy won!” What a relief. What does this message convey to us?
Maybe this gives us courage to welcome risks over the beige world of mediocrity. Go for GREATNESS.
To ensure we Fly with the Eagles and not walk with timid mortals we must
- Protect our Health- Health is everything. Our and our family’s. Do we pursue a wellness program?
- Protect our Energy- Lethargy is a killer. Do we spend our years living? Or dying?
- Protect our Sleep- Many Australians suffer sleep deprivation. Don’t kid ourself. We need 8 hours sleep.
- Protect our Imagination- Kids are creative, imaginative and dreamers. Are we too ‘grown up’ for this?
- Protect our Self talk- our worst enemy is us. What do we say to ourselves? The enemy within.
- Protect our Mental health- rising depression in our community. We need to seek treatment or acknowledge a problem
If you wish to Fly Like an Eagle, Action to take:
- Read The Magic of Thinking Big” by Dr David Swartz
- Watch a daily dose of TED to see that the impossible is possible
- Listen to Radio National Podcast : Big Ideas
- Try something new each day- change your route to and from work
- Select a new dish from the menu
- Go somewhere new for holidays
- Develop a BIG picture Vision board.
- Take energy sappers from your life.
- Develop a stress management program which could include meditation, yoga
- Be aware when you are being conditioned and your imagination and possibilities lowered.
- Get yourself some BHAGs. ( Big Hairy Audacious Goals)
- See the world through 10 Times Mind Expander ( Check out Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan for details)
- Take 5, relax and take an eagle eye’s view with John Denver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7C78SUXHIM
Remember no one ever said on their death bed they wish they had taken less risks.
Today start dancing on thin ice! Live your Potential. Fly higher than you ever thought possible.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
of the worst salespeople I have known. They are professional services people - accountants, lawyers, consultants, financial advisors, mortgage brokers, and the like.
Did I ever tell you about the best consultants or accountants I've met? Lawyers, financial consultants? Yes? Well actually they're in both groups.
The groups are not mutually exclusive.
Let me just qualify what I am saying so I have a fighting chance of retaining friends who happen to be consultants, advisors, lawyers and accountants. The fact that they are ordinary salespeople is no reflection on their professionalism to do what they are retained to do. Which I know is excellent.
Just that personal service professionals do not like selling. I will rephrase that they hate the idea of selling.
"Build the practice and they will come" approach.
Apologies to Kevin Costner and one of my favourite movies.
They truly believe if they provide a good service that their practice will build automatically and they will be successful.
Well not quite. No cigar. Just yet.
Their practices will grow incrementally, more by default. But not sufficiently fast to satisfy the owners, defend them from faster more savvy competitors or take them from a practice to a true business.
Some wanting to change this paradigm will go and do a sales course and learn the sales process. Full marks for effort. But unlikely to have a tinker's chance of improvement .
Because the value of gaining sales knowledge will not be applied frequently enough for the right habits and attitudes be created. So we are back to square one.
So what is the alternative?
Let's keep it simple. Real simple.
Once consultants and professional services practitioners realise this they have a rubicon moment to not only increase their chance to attract new business but also gain improvement in their processes which will greatly enhance their service.
A true opportunity to stone two crows with the one yonnie.
Instead of learning the complexity of the sales process. Just adopt processes that will both exceed clients' experiences as well as gain you new business fees, both from your existing clients as well as new customers.
Adopting processes that could do both? Yes. This change would form the basis of better client work practices and also put you in a good position to be recommended as the service of choice.
So yes, meeting your client needs is critical but it is only part of the story.
It requires exceptional client experience. Most would agree but not know how to achieve this.
So to strive for great client outcomes which lead to a major increase in business consider the acronym AEDAA:
Attention Engage Desire Action Acclamation
Gain the ATTENTION of your target demographic group. Until you have taken the time to decide who they are you will never know when you come across them.
Anybody can attract customers by sheer chance- some ideal, some clogging up your client list and others who are high maintenance and low yield.
There are good clients for you and then there are good clients for your competitors. Its knowing the difference.
What are the psychometrics and sociometrics that define your best clients. Their age, gender, roles, postcode, personality traits, industry categories, to start with.
Take your top 20% client, and aggregate their features. You will be surprised how common they are. As they say, birds of a feather flock together.
Next step is to hangout where they do. Where do their interests lie? Football, Yachting, Quilting, whatever. If you are in B2B then join their industry association. Your current clients know people who know people who would also be ideal clients for you.
Better a big fish in a small pond.
We like to be with people who are like us.
Get ATTENTION by not being beige and forgettable. Be different. Be noticeable.
What is your point of difference?
Marketing guru Seth Godin authored a wonderful book on this topic titled Purple Cow. In essence when you go for a relaxing drive through the countryside and you arrive home. How many cows did you see? It might take a moment to remember if any. But if there had been one purple cow you wouldn't hesitate to remember.
So what is your Purple Cow? Maybe it is your incredible high level of service, maybe your pink vans, or is it your giant pineapple in the front lobby which has you stand out like the proverbial (ie. the purple cow)? Whatever. But make it unique.
Ian Molly Meldrum is a unique and quirky character. I shared a friendship and accommodation with Ian in London in the 70s. His (and my) greatest influence was The Beatles. When he had a chance to meet his hero John Lennon he fainted. Imagine how many people John Lennon would have met, likely in the thousands, before his untimely death. But he always remembered Ian as that "crazy Aussie" that fainted and fell flat on his face in the London club when he met him.
That was Molly's Purple Cow which served him well later getting exclusive access to the super group.
Also ATTENTION in meetings with prospects and clients. When you meet with them in their office make sure they are present. What do you say? Yes, they may just have had an argument with their partner, got off the phone to a client about late deliveries, or simply just distracted.
So make sure they are mentally present as well as physically there . Otherwise anything you say or discuss will not be heard or remembered or acted upon later.
Best way to get their attention is to focus your and their attention on them. Compliment something personal or an interest or a sport you know is important to them.
What do consultants and advisors meeting with clients and prospects do? They are always in a hurry. Time is tight. So they launch straight in without the 'small talk ' which has such an important role at this point of a meeting.
'Tune in' the other person's frequency to your's before you move into the business part of the meeting.
Think about the Australian coast watchers in New Guinea during the war risking their life to pass information about Japanese shipping movements . They would crank up their valve powered short wave and start calling Port Moresby all the time swivelling the frequency modulator. They knew that there was no point transmitting until Port Moresby acknowledged their plea for attention.
The key to today's age is engagement. We are bombarded by thousands of stimuli each day that are filtered out and only the most pressing and beneficial get through.
Plus there are so many ways and means we can ENGAGE. For many years it was restricted to face to face, mail and telephone. Then came radio and then television. Then fax arrived . Wow did we think it was Christmas every day.
Herald in the Internet and the permutation of engaging people has progressed exponentially.
As a senior executive from Disney visiting a conference in Melbourne said last month at a breakfast he was asked to address:
Are you engaging with your prospects and clients on as many platforms as possible?
It is a question, he said, is asked at every meeting of his team at the Disney studio.
That is what has become expected today.
We can only best ENGAGE if we know what our clients are interested and concerned about. How do we do that? We set out to understand what their concerns are, their problems and their pain points which can only be done through asking probing questions.
Questions that not only reveal their goals but their deep seated concerns and problems.
As Rob Jolles says, former head trainer for Xerox the pioneer of sales training, prospects only make decisions to solve problem. BIG problems.
Whilst many consultants and advisors know they must ask questions, they usually do without knowing the protocol and hierarchy of questions. Most are superficial first degree non probing questions. And their questions are left at that level.
Often the level of probing questions can be directly linked to our own self image. Only asking questions which will not upset our rapport and register a negative response.
SPIN Selling , which was released by Hathaway gives an excellent example and structure of questions that every professional services practitioner should study to be more effective. SPIN being Specific, Problem (Identifying), Implication and Needs (or benefits) questions.
We must aspire to be not just a provider but to esteemed position of trusted advisor.
One based on Trust and centred around their needs and their wants. This can only come from an honest concern for our clients welfare, by knowing their goals and desires.
Which come from questions!
DESIRE is what drives decisions. DESIRE to gain pleasure or avoid pain.
To help prospects and clients make decisions, to avert procrastination, we must 'dial up' the benefits or aversion to losses.
"What if" questions help our prospects envisage a future if they proceed the path they are currently travelling or if they decide to change direction by making a decision.
We should not expect the person in front of us to automatically be able to imagine their future, but that is our professional skill to guide them down that path.
A good principle to use is that expressed by the President of Mattel:
"Never offer a solution until you first have the prospect verbalise their problem"
This is where we need to become big on questions and slow on statements.
It is human nature when we have endless time to make decisions, even for things we desire, we tend to put off because our fear of being wrong or a fear of failing as a result.
To increase the level of desire and the need for action we can create a sense of scarcity. Scarcity of opportunity, availability, profit, or time.
I am a good case study. Best expressed: I have some 364 days to buy one important Christmas gift, my wife's present. In all fairness I start thinking about it a week before Christmas Day. Come Christmas Eve morning I am now on a mission. By midday I am getting a little nervous as the count down begins in earnest. My level of desire is quickly rising like a barometer on a hot summer's day. Money becomes less important, because the solution is a matter of life and death. My personal safety is at risk.
This level of urgency in the financial advisory area comes with bass statement deadlines, ASIC reporting or our year end annual tax return. Or minimising tax through superannuation instalments before the end of the financial year.
The level of pain or gain must rise to be greater than that of inertia before we move into action.
Our job is not done until we clearly have actions to be taken. Many professional service representatives often stop short. Thinking that if we give a prospect all the information that they will automatically make decision to go ahead. Wrong and in many cases a fatal error in getting a prospect on board.
A major error is that we give far too much information for a simple decision to go ahead or not .
We have blinded them with our cleverness and suitably impressed them with our knowledge.
The next words likely to come out of their mouths are " thank you we will take this home, (office or wherever) and think about it"
What we need to do is to take an assumptive stance and set a time table sign off," how are you placed next week to meet ?"
So before the initial meeting ends, a clear timetable should be proposed and diarised. Anything less will cost time and money and increase doubt that the project will go ahead as discussed.
Is that the end. Well for most it is.
But not for good professionals on their way to being great.
If we had a prospect which has now turned into a client we are now behind. What the? Yes we are now behind. We have one less prospect than we started with.
We should see our business model as a continuum. Otherwise just like everyone else it becomes a roller coaster of feast and famine.
We started by saying there is nothing that professional services people like worse than when they have to sell their services.
We are wrong.
There is one thing they hate worse. Asking for referrals!
Well we have a viable alternative to this very important element in the business development continuum.
That is to identify our brand advocates.
People who are pleased as punch with the service we have given and more than willing to recommend to others.
Once the project is completed a thank you letter is sent to our client for their business and a request which asks them to rate our service :
1/ on a scale of 1 to 10 would they give a value of the service they received?
2/ what is the likelihood that they would recommend on a scale of 1 to 10?
First this exercise tells clients that you are looking to build your client base. Often it is thought, wrongly, that you have enough clients and not looking for more, or whilst we feel it would be top of mind to recommend us, in real truth it just never enters their mind.
Second by identifying those who would give their experience an 8, 9 or 10 you could follow up to ask them for a testimonial to be placed on your web page.
Also a direct request if they can recommend to associates and others.
Third to the rest you might ask them with subsequent questionnaires what it would take to improve their rating.
AEDAA offers a sustainable process that is repeatable and reteachable for all in your professional team to contribute to getting new clients.
Without relying on the practice rainmaker.
It also provides simple practice process to deliver superior service and enhance the client experience.
Why not try it. Nothing to loose and everything to gain
Footnote: For every statement there is an exception. The best salesperson I know is in professional services. I would go as far as saying that he and his brother established the most successful financial services practice in Australia 50 years ago and Tony Bongiorno still today does 35 new business presentations a week in Sydney and Melbourne. When the norm is more like 15. Without doubt in my experience he is the best salesperson of any product in Australia. Tony lives by many of the principles in this post.
If you found this post interesting and of value we invite you to like and share with others.
Other posts by the author are:
12 ways to pick Low Hanging Fruit
14 Keys to Effective Checklist creation