Author: Sean O'Shaughnessey

Don’t Send Your Prospect Your Sales Presentation

Don’t Send Your Prospect Your Sales Presentation

Almost daily, you are presenting to your prospects from one of your favorite presentation decks. The ubiquitous question at the end of the presentation is, “Can you send me your deck?”

Don’t do it.

While you should say that you will be sending the deck, you shouldn’t do it. Few things are so poorly understood as a well-created deck presentation without a narrative.

An excellent presentation has a minimum of words and explanations on each slide. It contains a few bullet points with maybe an appropriate image or graphic. The content of the presentation is all with the speaker, and the slides are merely there to give examples or prompt the discussion.

If your slides are appropriately made, how in the world would a prospect understand the message without you there to narrate? Worse is if those slides are forwarded to someone that wasn’t in the original audience for the live presentation.

A much more convincing document is a Word (or similar) document that has the slide images embedded into the material, but the “script” is also included. The script can be well-edited with appropriate marketing language and messaging. The end result is a superior document to the original presentation.

Here is a thumbnail of a document that uses this technique. It guides the user through the slides and uses the slides as images to give credence to the written explanation. This is a far superior way to share your slides with your prospect.

Marketing can help but shouldn’t be an excuse

Unfortunately, as with all great things that salespeople have to do, it is quite likely that your marketing department won’t create this document for you. It is one of those things that you will likely have to create to set yourself up for success.

If your marketing department will not create this document for you, it is not an excuse. Salespeople need to understand that they are the last line of defense. It is up to all salespeople to do whatever is ethically required to win the deal. Don’t make excuses. Don’t take the easy way out. Just get it done.

Salespeople should not be afraid to create this document. While it would be helpful for your marketing department to build the foundations of the delivered document, the salesperson should be free to customize the end result.

The reasons for customizations are simple, and marketing departments cannot expect to be able to react. The reasons include:

  1. A specific question or side conversation that happened during the presentation should be further expanded in the written overview document.
  2. Many sales presentations are combinations of other slide decks or a subset of a library of slides. There is no way to know what a finished slide deck will be for any given prospect or any given sales team.

While the challenges are real, marketing departments can mitigate this issue with a bit of thought and effort.

For the first issue above, the sales team wants to react to a specific situation that occurred in the meeting. The marketing department could create a standard “handout” document, but allow individual sales teams to customize it as needed.

In the other situation of a library of slides, the marketing department can easily create a similar library of descriptions. Then the sales team can quickly combine the standard pieces of text to create a handout document customized to the particular prospect.

If you are inspired to bring the handout document to your meeting, resist this urge. Most information handed out in a meeting gets thrown away almost immediately. While your followup handout document may also be thrown away, at least it will happen several hours or several days later, allowing your name to be on the prospect’s mind again. This is far superior to having your marketing message thrown in the restroom trash for the bio-break that happened immediately after your meeting. 

Header Photo by ttreis (Pixabay)
Do You Send Your Recruits YOUR Resume?

Do You Send Your Recruits YOUR Resume?

Recruiting great salespeople is an essential part of the job for any sales leader. New members of the company affect the overall culture and harmony of the company. Every added person expands and evolves the company in proportion to the numerical count of the employees, but also in proportion to the size of a given department of the company. The 5th member of the company or the department has a more considerable cultural influence than the 500th member.

Salespeople are different. They affect not only the sales team’s culture but also the outward culture of the company’s persona to the customer base. According to Mindflash, after a bad sales hire, 36% of their respondents reported a negative impact on employee morale along with a 22% negative impact on client solutions.

It gets worse. I would argue that salespeople are in a demographic of positions that are highly paid and have strict criteria. The Center for American Progress puts the turnover cost of that type of job at over 200% of the salary costs.

I would like you to view recruitment from a different perspective. Since this is a sales-oriented blog, you should look at it as selling and buying. If you are reading this article, you likely have changed jobs a couple of times, and perhaps you have hired or at least helped interview sales candidates in the past. So you may be an expert at hiring and getting hired. My philosophy is that hiring people is selling and buying at the same time.

Interviewing is selling and buying at the same time

While interviewing, both parties are trying to sell and buy at the same time. The interviewee is trying to show that s/he is qualified for the position and would fit into the company culture (this is selling). At the same time, the interviewee tries to figure out if this position fills personal goals and needs better than a current job or other companies being considered (this is buying). Both activities simultaneously occur – selling of skills as well as purchasing the culture and opportunity.

The company and interviewer are also buying and selling at the same time. The company is trying to deduce if the prospect has the skills and temperament to fulfill the needs of the company (this is buying). At the same time, the company is presenting itself as a great place to work with a financial package that is competitive in the marketplace (this is selling).

Sell your recruits by selling yourself

Do you sell yourself to your recruits? When you are in a startup, one of the biggest reasons that a recruit would want to join is YOU. They want to learn from you. They believe in your vision of what the company will accomplish. They want to draft off of your success to propel their success.

A great way to enhance your reputation when talking to potential new hires is to send them your resume. Yes, they will have surely checked you out on LinkedIn, but there is information in your resume that is not on LinkedIn. You probably have statistics like the number of times you have made quota on your resume. You may have the types of companies that you have sold to on your resume. All of these facts were placed on your resume to impress others – why not use them to influence the great salesperson that you want to join your team?

In my book, Eliminate Your Competition, I repeatedly tell my readers that they are selling three things:

  • The product
  • The company
  • You

These three things are also evident in the recruiting process. The candidate wants to know about the product. For instance, they will want to understand if it works or is it still slideware. Do customers like the product and find it worthwhile? 

They will want to know about the company. Does the company have decent benefits? Does the company have a good reputation with its employees and its customers? Does the company, as a startup, have a vision for the future?

The candidate also wants to know about you as the sales leader. Have you been personally successful? What kind of things are you going to teach a new salesperson? How are you going to help that new salesperson be successful? Your personal resume is a great selling tool during the recruiting process. Use it to convince the person that you want to join you and make your company a success.

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10 Things Sales Managers Should Know About Performance

10 Things Sales Managers Should Know About Performance

The following are key statistics every smart sales manager should know. The source of the following data is TAS Group which is now Altify, part of Upland Software.

  1. 2/3 of all salespeople miss quota
  2. 1/2 of all salespeople close at less than 40% of their quota
  3. The best reps are 250% better at qualifying leads
  4. 40% of salespeople can’t understand customer pain
  5. Only 46% of reps feel their pipeline is accurate
  6. Almost 1/2 of all sales teams don’t have a playbook
  7. Only 52% of salespeople can access key players at their prospects and customers
  8. When Sales/Marketing works well together, it adds 25% quota achievement and 15% win rate
  9. As I talk about in my book Eliminate Your Competiton if you make your response to your competitors part of your strategy, you are 39% more likely to be a high performing salesperson.
  10. Sales contribution to company strategy means a 15% revenue increase
Header Photo by PublicDomainPictures (Pixabay)

Are You A Salesperson For The Money?

Are You A Salesperson For The Money?

Why are you a salesperson?

Many people that have just begun their careers in Sales do it because they couldn’t find another job. Due to the high failure rate in Sales vs. other professions, entry-level jobs always seem to be plentiful even in the worst economic times.

However, after a few years of staying in this profession, why are you staying? Are you staying because you like free lunches when you take clients to lunch? Are you staying because you can occasionally play golf with clients? Are you staying because you like to be measured every day on your quota attainment?

Hopefully, you are in sales because you have the drive to provide for yourself and your family with the wealth that few other careers offer. Successful salespeople are among the highest-paid people in the community. While doctors and lawyers may get all the accolades and envious discussions, a successful salesperson can often generate more personal wealth than nearly every other profession.

While salespeople can be highly paid, it is not unusual that salespeople have very uneven paychecks. Even with the skills that I teach in my book, Eliminate Your Competition and on this site, you will not close massive deals every two weeks. In fact, if we define a large deal as being at least 10% of your annual quota, you will probably only close five to ten large deals per year. This requires a bit of wealth planning for a successful salesperson.

Immediately invest 10% and immediately donate 10%.

My first suggestion before you do anything with the commission (after paying any applicable taxes) is to donate a portion of the commission. Do it immediately, before you get other priorities. Taking care of your fellow man is one of the most important charters of well-to-do professionals. Many people do not have the blessings and capabilities that you enjoy, and it is your responsibility as a caring human to make their life easier.

While everyone has different targets for sharing their wealth with others, I strongly suggest that you set 10% as your goal. Giving 10% of your income to charity has been a template for caring for others since words were written on bark, animal skins, and parchment. It is a time-honored tradition and has proven to be completely within the capability of anyone who has been given great gifts in life.

The next thing that you should do with your big commission check is to pay yourself. Regardless of your effort, you will hit a dry patch of revenue. Maybe the industry or locality that you are in will suffer a recession. Maybe your company will fall behind the competition, forcing you to find new employment. As with everyone, eventually, you may want to not sell every day and may want to sit on a beach, visit family, climb mountains, or tend a vineyard. No matter how much you love your job, someday you will want to do something more enjoyable.

To save for that rainy day or even that day when you don’t want to work, you need a plan. That plan is well described in my book The Confident Investor, but it starts with paying yourself first. It starts with taking 10% of that commission check and putting it into an account where that money will work for you and grow. My book The Confident Investor and its accompanying site can help you make that money grow more quickly than most methods, but the first step is to set the money aside.

So right now, before you get that check for the big deal you are working on, prepare for the commission. Find two or three charities that you can support. Find out how to efficiently donate to them. You don’t need to set up a trust or anything fancy – just find out where to send the check. If you don’t have a specific charity, consider a donation to your neighborhood church or The United Way.

After the charity has been found, open up an investment account. There are multiple brokerage companies that you can consider and my book The Confident Investor will help you find them. If you don’t want to buy my book, consider opening an account with Fidelity, TD Waterhouse, or Schwab.

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Give Yourself A Trophy For Big Wins

Give Yourself A Trophy For Big Wins

I was recently interviewed by Colin Stewart on his podcast “Predictable Revenue.” It was an enjoyable experience for me as Colin is a great interviewer with a lot of experience in B2B Sales.

In that podcast, Colin asked me about intermediate rewards during the course of the business year. I gave some examples of how I used to reward myself when I was a direct salesperson. In this post, I would like to expand on that topic more than I did with Colin.

Winning the deal is important. You will receive more financial security in the form of loyalty from your employer as well as increased commissions. However, you need to put an internal incentive into your mind to help you through the tough times of the next sale.

We all know that there are times in the selling process that are just plain frustrating for the sales team. The prospect may be asking questions that are very basic. Or the prospect may be making it difficult to create a positive relationship. Whatever the frustration, it is helpful to have a little extra incentive to motivate you through the tough times.

Think of a sprinter in a track and field event. The sprinter wants to win so that her team will get more points and win the event, but that is not the sprinter’s only motivation. The sprinter is also motivated to beat her personal best time. The sprinter is also motivated to beat her arch-rival in the lane beside her. The sprinter is motivated to hear the cheers of the crowd and the accolades of her teammates, friends, and family. 

This personal motivation is used by the sprinter to fight through challenging practices. She visualizes winning the race when she is trying to do that last painful lift in the weight room. She visualizes the first place award when she practices her first three steps over and over for hours. She doesn’t visualize the team winning; she visualizes her personal win. It is the personal win that inspires the extra effort and sacrifice.

The sprinter’s job is to score more points for the team. That is why she is on the team. While she wants the team to do well, she also wants to do well and needs her own motivation. You are like the sprinter, and it is your job to sell your product. Selling the product keeps your company afloat and helps to employ all of the people in the company. Just selling the product and having your company do well may not be enough to fight through those challenging sales calls.

You should develop your personal win award. You may think that your manager should do this for you, but you cannot depend on others for your success. You need to create a personal win that will motivate you to push through those tough sales calls.

I suggest that the personal win is something that you greatly enjoy, but you can live without it on a daily basis. Set aside one activity that you will only do when you have won a deal of 5% or 10% of your annual quota. Once you have identified that win, never do it without closing a deal. It is your trophy activity.

Celebrate Any Win Over 5% Of Your Annual Quota

It is not possible for me to select your trophy activity. I can give you suggestions based on what others have selected. None of the following list may be personally motivating for you, but hopefully, it will give you some ideas.

  • Massage (or if you get massages frequently, a stone massage)
  • Dinner at a specific restaurant that you only go to when you win a big deal
  • A trip to the casino
  • Tickets to the local sporting event (or maybe better tickets than normal if you regularly attend)
  • A specific bottle of wine (or other favorite beverage – in the podcast, I discussed tequila)
  • A round of golf at a specific course (make sure it is not your regular course – you want this to be a special treat)
  • A new handbag or pair of shoes
  • Tickets to a show

It is worth repeating the one rule regarding deal trophies. Whatever activity you select as your trophy, make it an activity or purchase that you never do unless you win a deal. So if you chose to purchase a pair of shoes, a handbag, or attend a show, perhaps it is a certain style of shoes or handbag, or it is shows that are only at a specific venue.

After a couple of wins and the resulting reward, you will be able to visualize yourself doing this activity again when the sales process is challenging. You will be able to fight through the tough times because you know that there is a trophy at the end.

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Salespeople Affect The Decision-Making Process Of Their Prospects

Salespeople Affect The Decision-Making Process Of Their Prospects

I was recently interviewed by Colin Stewart of Predictable Revenue in his podcast. I have posted links to that podcast as well as the transcript.

During that interview, I made the point that sales is nothing more than affecting decisions. I contend that it is the job of a salesperson to influence the decisions of a prospect. I will take this one step farther and say that a salesperson tries to affect the prospect making a favorable decision in the desired timeframe.

Making a decision in an organization is a very complicated process. It is not like the criminal TV dramas where the wise old judge weighs the evidence and renders a sound decision. It is more like jury trials – relationships between individuals and their personalities are far more powerful than the facts. The reader is encouraged to read “12 Angry Men” or watch the movie starring Peter Fonda and George C. Scott. It is an excellent example of emotions getting in the way of making an impartial decision. It also shows that a poor salesperson (the defendant’s lawyer) can blow the sale. Peter Fonda’s character is an excellent example of a Champion who can sway the emotions of the decision-making group.

The team making a decision is not trying to select the best solution. They will settle for a product that satisfies the majority of their perceived needs. They will look at enough options to make themselves confident that they have a good market sampling.

If you have ever wondered why a company bought a competitor’s offering and not yours, perfection is not the goal in most buying decisions. In many cases, the goal is simply to make a choice that isn’t terrible. It is your job as a salesperson to put your product into those decision criteria.

Do you know how your prospect is making their decision?

This is a common question by every sales manager for all time when reviewing the deals in the pipeline. The question comes even more frequently if the individual salesperson is relatively new or tends to lose deals too often. The simple fact is that your deal is at a significant risk if you do not know the answer to this question.

Of course, if you do know the answer to that question, you may still be at risk if you do not understand that it is your job to influence that decision-making process. The first step is to understand, and the next step is influence, but you cannot affect what you do not understand.

If you want your boss to get off your back about your deals, then know the answer to that vital question AND understand how you will affect that decision. Once you have those two things under control, your manager will be much more interested in the timing of the deal and if you have the resources to execute on your plan to influence the decision.

Too Much Information Doesn’t Help Your Prospects

Too Much Information Doesn’t Help Your Prospects

The prospect’s role in the decision-making process is to collect information pertinent to their problems and find a solution to these challenges. Your stated role in this process is to provide information to the prospect that will allow them to purchase your product. Your unstated, but understood, role in this process is to affect the buyer in such a way that your competition loses the order, and you win. You are a combination of an information provider and a decision influencer.

You must give the prospect information to assist them or else they may not see value in you and may not purchase your product. You also must help them eliminate choices that do not benefit you. Therefore you must choose the information that you give them very carefully so that it not only helps them understand the benefits of you, your company and your solution but also helps them understand that your competition’s solution is not a perfect fit. It does not matter if your product is a perfect fit since it is rare for any product to be a perfect fit. You are probably familiar with the adage ‘putting a round peg into a square hole.’ Unfortunately, most prospects do not truly understand what size hole they have, or the shape. Your goal is to make them see that they have a hole that is the size and shape that perfectly accommodates your peg.

Many salespeople will assist in the decision-making process by overwhelming the prospect with too much information about their product or service in the hopes that the prospect will make the decision that they want. How many times have we shopped for hours or days for a particular product (home, stereo, TV, car, etc.) to make sure we understand the pricing schemes and the features and benefits and then end up buying from the last store that we enter? Surely it was not random fate that the first salesperson that we talked to in each case was very incompetent and could not match us up with the perfect product. Rather, what happens is we start the process by gathering information. When we understand the specifications and the issues regarding our planned purchase, we start eliminating choices, then we delve into those few remaining products that we know we like and we make a decision to purchase one. However, we rarely go back to the first person who started the education process – we buy from one of the last few. We are simply too tired to go back to the first person – we have suffered from information overload, and that first salesperson is going to lose the sale. 

You probably have purchased a house/condominium or rented an apartment. Invariably, your search began by driving around neighborhoods that you thought suited your needs. You may have evaluated your financial situation and decided on a price that you could afford. You also probably started looking at properties that might fit your needs and goals. 

In your search for a new living place, it is doubtful that you selected the first place that you visited. Instead, you began to evaluate your options and change your criteria based on the available amenities. You started to look at flooring options, wall coverings, the sizes of rooms, the arrangement of rooms and dozens or hundreds more choices. As you looked, it is likely that you modified your list of needs and goals as you became educated. Eventually, after days or weeks of looking and changing your list, you decided on a place. Most house hunters do not go back to the first few places to compare them to this new, modified list – those properties have lost the sale to you.

So, what does a Trapper salesperson do in this situation? It is almost impossible to get only educated buyers, and in fact, we probably do not want to be in that situation. If we only have completely educated customers, then they will only evaluate us against their pre-determined conclusions and ultimately make a decision on price, terms, and conditions. Instead, you need to position yourself to educate the prospect, but never fully let the prospect leave your control. This applies to all sales situations – the consumer salesperson knows the prospect is going to leave and needs to make sure that the prospect returns. The corporate salesperson knows the sales cycle is going to be long and it is impossible to be at every meeting. So he provides enough information early on to be seen as being valuable, doesn’t want to spend so much time on the company that he can’t close other business, and still wants to make the short list to be involved in the close at the end.

If we only have completely educated customers, then they will only evaluate us against their pre-determined conclusions and ultimately make a decision on price, terms, and conditions.

We know that there are going to be competitors on the deal, so we need to anticipate that they are going to give the prospect information. We need to structure our information as being incredibly valuable so that we are seen to add value to the prospect’s search but at the same time not spend all of our time educating the prospect on all of the minutiae. This is a delicate line, but experienced Trappers learn how to find this balance.

No one makes money by giving out information. So why do we do it? Why are we doing something for free? Simple – because we think we get value out of it. The goal should be to maximize the value that we receive. We do this by breaking our information into Bait. Bait needs to be benefit-based and not feature-based so that it is immediately ‘tasty’ to the prospect. The Bait is big enough to get our point across but not so big as to be confusing. Most importantly, Bait needs to lead to a Trap that makes the prospect think more highly of you, your company, and your product and allows the prospect to see your advantages over your competitors. In chapters six and seven of my book, Eliminate Your Competition, we discuss how to break up features and benefits into Bait.

You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

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Focus on unrealized goals with your prospects and not pain

Focus on unrealized goals with your prospects and not pain

During my recent podcast with Colin Stewart of Predictable Revenue, I discussed the concept that people do not buy from pain but rather from missed goals. I want to build on that topic in this post as it is a critical concept in your thought process.

When people make a decision to spend their own (or their company’s) money, they do so because their goals do not align with their reality. They wish that they were in a different situation and their desire to be in that situation is acute enough that they are willing to invest their time and their money to get closer to that goal.

Many people discuss ‘pain’ as the reason that people buy. This belief is not entirely true. Pain is the result of not realizing goals. Therefore, ‘pain’ is a ‘lagging indicator’ of the situation. In a competitive situation where there are no Trappers, pain may be a good driving force. Trappers try to get ahead of the situation and drive the buyer into a situation that is conducive to them winning the order. If you wait for ‘pain’ to occur, you run the risk of involving many more competitors and being much later in the sales process. Instead, you want to control the process, which means that you want to discuss the goals of both the organization and the individual people.

In addition to ‘pain’ being a secondary and lagging situation, it also has very negative connotations. It is much harder to discuss an individual’s ‘pains’ than it is to discuss the individual’s goals. Goals have a very positive feel and therefore make you a valued partner to the prospect. 

A similarity from your everyday life: if you have knee pain then you may see a doctor. While you and your insurance company will likely give the doctor money to cure that pain, it does not give you a positive feeling about the doctor – it is more of a necessary evil. However, you may have a goal of getting into shape and losing weight and therefore join the local gym. You are more likely to develop a long-term friendship with that gym and its employees even though you may give them much more money over the term of your membership. The people who are working in the gym are helping you get to your goal whereas the doctor is solving a problem or a ‘pain.’

Pain means that something is broken. It is a negative. While it may be common in this age of social media to whine and complain about broken things, it does not create a feeling of excitement or enjoyment. The excitement only comes when you are trying to achieve a goal.

The athletes on your favorite sports team don’t work hard in practice because they want to avoid the pain of losing. Instead, they work hard because they want to win. Winning is the goal. The desire to accomplish a goal allows everyone to be motivated to work hard. Talking about pain with an athlete is to talk about losses, hard practices, and injury. The athlete is much more motivated talking about the game wins and the plans to win the next games. The same is true with your prospect.

Pain is also not the reason to choose one product over another. Pain may justify the purchase, or it may start an evaluation process. If all the products solve the pain, then ultimately price and ‘terms and conditions’ will be the deciding factors. However, most evaluations are more concerned about goals and achieving those goals. In my book, I give an example of buying a TV, if your pain is that you have a broken TV then any TV should solve your pain. If your goal is to watch sporting events and feature films on the best-looking and best-sounding audiovisual system on the market, then your list may be more detailed and more demanding. 

Similarly, if your pain is that you cannot get to work in the morning, then hundreds of automobiles, along with some public transportation options, will solve your problem. If you have a goal of getting to work in a sporty red convertible, you will eliminate many of the choices, and the car salespeople must help you meet your goals.

The chosen product will match the goals of the prospect, not just the pains of the prospect.

In sales, we can use this to our benefit. We will center our initial questioning and needs development with our prospect on goals and the ability (or inability) to reach those goals. By doing this with the Discoverer (a role that we discuss more in my book, Eliminate Your Competition), we have the advantage of being a long-term and trusted ally. As the sales process evolves, other vendors are brought in to ascertain their possible remedies, but the prospect sees them as solutions to a problem (pain) that you have helped them identify because their reality was not the same as their goal. You, on the other hand, are a trusted confidant who only has their best interest at heart and you are willing to guide them as they explore their goals.

If you are curious about some of the terms that I use in this post, you may want to read my book. You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

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