Category: Product or Book Review

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.

Photo by Tumisu (Pixabay)
Don’t Send Role-based Emails

Don’t Send Role-based Emails

Nearly all great prospecting salespeople send out emails to potential prospects. I even teach some of these tactics in my book Eliminate Your Competition.

However, no respectable salesperson should ever send a blind email to a role-based email address. It is fraught with potential repercussions and almost guaranteed to fail. It is simply not worth it.

What is a role-based email?

As the name says, role-based email accounts are associated with a particular role like sales, editor, admin, etc. A role-based email account is not associated with one single person, but with a group of peoples or a department. Role-based email accounts start with admin@, editor@, sales@, inquiry @, etc.

Downsides of role-based emails

As a role-based email account is associated with a group of people or a department, it is harder to show explicit permission of each recipient. Explicit permission is required by email marketing laws and best practices.

You are more likely to put yourself on a black list if you send role-based emails. Various blacklist services like Spamhaus treats marketing emails sent to role-based email accounts as spam. Because such role-based email accounts are either harvested or used without the explicit permission of recipients.

Role-based email account not only increases the risk of spam complaints but also pulls down the overall engagement rates of your marketing campaigns. The majority of the email service providers like MailChimp maintains a suppression list of role-based email accounts meaning emails will not be sent to such email accounts for maintaining email deliverability rates and protecting senders reputation.

A better way

If you must send blind emails to people, don’t send it to a role. Instead send that email to a person. You should follow the suggestions I put into an earlier post to find the email address of real people at your prospect and send that individual a personalized email.

One of the best tools that I have seen is Hunter. I first learned of Hunter from Emanuel Carpenter and his book Brain Dump: 167 Tips & Tricks from a Six-Figure Sales Prospecting Legend. You should read that book if you want to develop great skills for prospecting.

Carpenter, E.R. Brain Dump: 167 Tips & Tricks from a Six-Figure Sales Prospecting Legend (Kindle Locations 617-622). Forest Wade Press. Kindle Edition. (content reformatted to make it easier to read on this site)

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Do’s And Don’ts For Your Sales Kickoff

Do’s And Don’ts For Your Sales Kickoff

I am a big fan of Sales For Life, so when I read their recent article on sales kickoff planning, I had to mention it here. This is the time of year when many companies are starting to plan their next sales kickoff (SKO).

You would think that companies could do this well, but the statistics show that success is far from easy. Many companies may be falling short, according to BrainShark’s State of Sales Kickoff Meetings survey. Despite billions of dollars spent on these events annually (not to mention hours upon hours of preparation), three out of four attendees (74%) say their company’s SKO doesn’t merit an “A” grade, with 29% rating it a “C” grade or below – leaving ample room for improvement.

Jaime Shanks of Sales For Life creates some great Do’s and Don’ts. Here are my favorites:

Do

  • Bring clients in to share why and how they bought. Let your sales team understand what it’s like to be in your customers’ shoes. Have them share their buying journey.
  • Get the skills part of your training early in the event – tired minds don’t absorb. You don’t have to use this time for product training as it’s the easiest for reps to get a hold of that information. Try focusing on skills development early in your SKO and then product training.
  • Make your event fun and gamified. You already know sales reps are competitive so bring them competition and fun.
  • The most successful companies we’ve observed have made their SKO a business function with a celebration wrapped around it and not a celebration with a little business wrapped around it.
  • Set clear expectations around attendance and consequences for non-attendance or non-participation.

Don’t

  • Don’t try to do too many activities – focus is the key. Focus on tying everything back to the main company goals and objectives for the year.
  • Don’t focus so much on product training. You have all year and all the support in the world to disseminate that information. Use this time to teach new selling skills like courses in social selling mastery, digital sales, ABSD, storyboarding, video selling, objection handling, effective sales research and so much more that doesn’t involve product knowledge.
  • Don’t have leaders and reps in different sessions. This is the perfect time for each to gain new perspectives and learnings from each other. Being on the same page should be a part of your theme.
  • Don’t accept latecomers who slept in because of a difficult night the night before. Your company may have invested millions so treat it that way.

Header Photo by Editor B
Six Ways To Gain Credibility

Six Ways To Gain Credibility

I have spoken of trust, honesty, and credibility before. When you understand that you sell three things:

  1. Your product.
  2. Your company.
  3. Yourself.

In nearly every sale, you probably have a competitive product that is very close to the same features and benefits as your product. You rarely have a massive competitive advantage in your product. Also, it is very rare that the quality of your employer is so much better than your competitor that it is the deciding factor in the decision-making process by the prospect. Alas, it is usually the salesperson and the sales team that makes the most difference to the prospect. Does the prospect trust you? Does the prospect think you are honest? Are you a credible vendor to the prospect?

John Care is a good friend of mine that has published two books and runs a consulting company that helps technical sales teams. One of his books is titled The Trusted Adviser Sales Engineer. The very description “trusted adviser” is the cornerstone of making sure that the third item that you sell (you) is the best that it can be. While John’s book is targeted to Sales Engineers, every person on the sales team can learn from his words of wisdom. I have recreated a couple of paragraphs from John’s book and also his six ways to gain credibility.

“What makes a customer actually trust you? It is much more than your technical knowledge and capabilities, as those are the basic table stakes that customers expect of any [salesperson] with. For [a salesperson], it is a combination of honoring your commitments, speaking the truth, and acting in the best interests of the customer – even if that may occasionally conflict with the best interests of your own company.”

“The downside is that once [a salesperson] loses credibility with a customer it can be very difficult to regain it. Giving vague or misleading answers to a question or being factually incorrect are classic examples of this.”

  1. Tell The Truth. Always. Plus, you get the benefit of never having to remember what you said!
  2. Be Considerate With That Truth. Younger [salespeople] can sometimes be too blunt – directly saying, “that is never going to work!” to your client may not be the best approach.
  3. Use I Don’t Know Wisely. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so, and then promise to go get it for the customer . Don’t make stuff up! You can only do this a few times in a meeting – excessive “don’t knows” shows that someone is in the wrong meeting.
  4. Show Passion. Show some passion and enthusiasm for your product/ solution/services and for helping the customer. Do relax and take a breather so you don’t speak too quickly from an adrenaline high.
  5. Utilize Your Credentials. It’s OK to cite your credentials, but don’t overdo it and do make it relevant. So yes – you can put CISSP, ITIL or vExpert on your business card and eSignature, but just use one. A raft of acronyms after your name is excessive. (Note: “MBA” isn’t going to make much difference in most countries. ) Also, be sensitive to cultures – it is much better for someone else to cite your credentials in many parts of the world than to use the US testosterone “in-your-face” approach.
  6. Do The Research. Know as much as feasible about the company, their issues, and the people that you meet. Just saying “I read that article in the Straits Times yesterday” can really help – as long as you actually did read it!

You can purchase John’s book wherever books are sold. I suggest that all my readers get a copy and read it, regardless of your role in the sales process

 

 

Care, John. The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer (Kindle Locations 266-270). Mastering Technical Sales. Kindle Edition.

Care, John. The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer (Kindle Locations 412-414). Mastering Technical Sales. Kindle Edition.

Care, John. The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer (Kindle Locations 422-444). Mastering Technical Sales. Kindle Edition.

 

A Thank You Note For Those With Lousy Handwriting

A Thank You Note For Those With Lousy Handwriting

I recently encouraged you to send handwritten thank you notes to your prospects and customers. What do you do if you have lousy handwriting?

First of all, don’t be so hard on yourself. Your lousy handwriting is part of the reason that the note is so important. However, there is a solution for those of us that have lousy handwriting that is so bad that we cannot read what we wrote. If you still want to send a personalized note: use Bond.

Download the basic version of the Bond app, and you can type out a message, pick a card and handwriting style ranging from the messy cursive of “Gramercy” to the clean all-caps “Hudson” and upload your signature and address. Then everything else, from postage, envelope stuffing, sealing, and drop-off, is taken care of by Bond. You don’t see the note or deal with the hassle of mailing it. You get an email when it ships.

Bond offers about 20 different handwritten house styles. After the note and address are composed, and the type style is chosen, robotic pen-writers (who never worry about hand cramps) write the notes on selected paper and envelopes. The notes can be reviewed online before being snail-mailed.

You can also utilize your own handwriting style via an intake form that requests you write various sentences and characters. All alphabet letters are covered, and Bond’s software generates a couple of dozen variations for each written letter.

When the note is written, the software employs the variations of each alphabet letter to compose a unique version of the chosen handwriting style for each note.

I have no financial interest in Bond, I am just a happy user. When I signed up a long time ago, they allowed me to send a sample note to myself so that I could see the process and the final product. From that point on, I use Bond whenever I post a thank you note to a customer.

Get To The Point – Bottom Line Up Front

Get To The Point – Bottom Line Up Front

I recently read a great article to help sales professionals remember to be direct and concise in their conversations and communications with their prospects and customers. The article is by my old friend, John Care, who has written a couple books that are the premier advice books in the pre-sales technical sales world. If you have the job of being the “smart person” on the sales call, then you need to read John’s books. If you regularly have technical experts on your sales calls, I highly advise you to purchase this book for each of your team members (links below).

John’s advice is to remember the acronym BLUF. BLUF is a military acronym for “Bottom Line Up Front.” The purpose is to place the most crucial piece of your communications at the start of any discussion. Visualize that as being on a cell-phone with only 15 seconds of battery time remaining. Why use BLUF instead of the usual corporate fluff? Because it gets your message across faster and saves everyone time.

Reverse the situation and think about all the times you have patiently waited for someone to get to the point. Remember that whenever you start with the background (“once upon a time”) and take minutes to get to the point, then busy people will just ignore you. By the time you get to the Very Important Point, you have lost their attention. The same principle applies to email. Any time I need to read the History of the Universe merely to find out what the sender wants me to do – I am far less likely to take action.

If you have read my book Eliminate Your Competition, then you know that I think using acronyms and acrostic devices are critical to helping our customers and prospects remember things. These tricks also work for us on the sales team. By remember BLUF, you will be more effective in your communication. 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.

Make sure you click through and read John’s full explanation of BLUF here. Also, don’t forget to purchase a copy of his excellent books for everyone on your technical team. These books really are the standard for pre-sales professional teams. Everyone that has that job should read John’s advice.


 

Header Photo by geralt (Pixabay)
Effective Salespeople Know How to Write

Effective Salespeople Know How to Write

Probably the most critical skill of a salesperson is to be able to communicate effectively. Some sales managers will even have a job candidate do a presentation as part of the interview process. Also, many sales managers will review resumes and cover letters for signs of poor writing.

If you want to be a top producer in sales, you need to be able to write effectively. You will be writing emails and letters to prospects and customers. You will be writing proposals. You will be modifying presentations. You should also be writing LinkedIn posts and blogs. Effective writing is a required sales skill.

In my book “Eliminate Your Competition” I gave you several examples of newsletters and prospecting letters. 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.

Your ability to communicate your ideas and your thoughts will improve the more you do it. In this post, I am not overly concerned with how you structure your communication. In this post, I want to make sure you are not writing with 4th-grade grammar and 2nd-grade spelling skills. If you are using the Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools, you can have that tool give you suggestions on spelling and on grammar. Unfortunately, it is not the best tool available, and I suggest that you look at Grammarly.

Grammarly is a great tool. It can be embedded into your browser or in Microsoft Office, or you can just use the web tool.

Once you create a Grammarly account for free, take a tour of the Grammarly editor. It shows you how to get feedback on your writing quickly, make your writing clear and adjust feedback to your preferred writing style.

Then open a new document and set a goal for your writing. You can set writing goals based on your:

  • The intent, e.g., inform, tell a story or describe
  • The audience, e.g., general or expert
  • The Style, e.g., formal or informal
  • Desired Emotion, e.g., mild or strong
  • Targeted Domain, e.g., academic, business or technical

When you’re ready, merely paste extracts of your writing for proofreading, grammar checking and catching spelling mistakes. Or you can write directly in Grammarly and then paste your work into your writing app of choice. After a few seconds, this proofreading tool underlines grammar mistakes similar to what you see in Word.

Grammarly Premium also provides a more detailed explanation than the free version (or Word) about why you made a writing mistake. This is particularly useful if you want to improve your knowledge of English grammar.

The free version contains most of the features of Grammarly Premium apart from an advanced grammar checker, a plagiarism detector, and some vocabulary enhancement suggestions. In other words, the free version of Grammarly is ideal for salespeople with a minimal budget for writing tools.

Grammarly Premium provides detailed information about each of your grammar mistakes. It also provides additional writing insights and an ability to set writing goals. It also finds and fixes more errors than the free version.

You can pay for premium on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. I currently pay for a monthly premium subscription as this strikes me as a nice balance between affordability and managing my expenses.

Yes, this blog post (in fact nearly all of my writing) was double-checked with Grammarly.

What’s at the next exit?

What’s at the next exit?

Most of us in the sales profession drive a great deal. Your territory may be named accounts in your city or maybe a geographic patch within the city. It also could be several states in your area.

No matter the size of your territory, you probably find yourself driving down the highway. During those long lonely drives when you are burning up your cell phone plan, you might get hungry or thirsty or need to visit a clean restroom. The more you drive your territory the more you learn the best exits to stop at. However, what do you do when you are driving an unfamiliar route? Or maybe, you are in need of a Starbucks. Or maybe, you are hungry for a particular brand of hamburger and don’t want McDonald’s but instead, you want Whataburger or In-N-Out Burger.

You could always do a search on your mapping application on your phone. But that isn’t especially helpful because as smart as your mapping application is, it doesn’t give you destinations in the direction that you are going on the highway. What good is it knowing that Starbucks is five exits the wrong way?

Put iExit on your smartphone. You will love it if you drive down the interstate regularly. Open the iExit app on or near any interstate nationwide and watch the magic unfold. It finds you automatically, shows you exits ahead, and allows for easy searching. Your GPS will tell you how to get there, but iExit will tell you where to stop along the way.

The app offers a directory of services and businesses within 1.5 miles of the next 100 exits you will pass. This eliminates much of the guesswork that goes into road trips. Should you stop here, or will there be better food coming up? How far is the nearest gas station? Will there be a hotel in about half an hour? Now you know.

In addition to hotels, restaurants and gas stations, iExit will locate rest stops, campgrounds, RV parks, hospitals and diesel fuel. If you tap on the icon for each service or business, it opens with more details.

So the next time you are hurting for a Starbucks, open up iExit. Put Starbucks in the search window and you will be rewarded with every Starbucks convenient to the highway for the next 100 exits.

The app is available for an iPhone as well as Android.

I don’t get paid to recommend iExit to my readers. I am simply a fan and I use the app all the time.

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