Category: Sales strategy advice – trending

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.

 

Stop Selling and Start Helping

Stop Selling and Start Helping

Zig Ziglar frequently told his audiences and students to stop selling and start helping. This is great advice. This is one of the critical steps of becoming a Trapper as opposed to one of the traditional salespeople: a Farmer, a Hunter, or a Gatherer.

I spend a lot of time in my book talking about starting the sales process early in the sales cycle. You cannot just show up at the last minute, make your pitch, and then expect to win. Sure, that scenario happens but it also ends in defeat more times than not.

In my book, Eliminate Your Competition, I discuss the decision-making process. Since all buying is merely making a decision and all selling is just influencing a decision, it is critical that you understand how a typical organization makes decisions. It is even more critical that you understand how your prospect makes decisions.

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.

When you are spending time with a prospect early in their decision-making process, you aren’t asking them for an order. Your prospect is not ready to buy so asking for a rush the decision is merely a waste of your time. If you conclude that they are not prepared and walk away until they are ready, they will learn about the capabilities of the products in your space from others and not from you.

So it is essential that you help the raw prospect learn about your product and your industry. It is much better to help the prospect through that process and be patient with the evolution of their thought processes. It would help if you created standard documents, reports, and white papers to help the buyer become more informed about your product. You want these to be readily available for the customer because you don’t want to work at the education too hard. Essentially, you need to map out the key elements that all of your customers and prospects need to know and send this information to them over time. Think of this plan as a weekly lesson on your marketplace – every week you send prospects that are interested, but not quite ready to buy, a new lesson.

You also want to teach prospects that don’t even know they are prospects yet. People that you think will eventually need your product, but today they just haven’t acknowledged that they have a problem that you can solve. To do this, you need to show up and see them on a regular basis, not to sell them but instead to offer your assistance. What can you do for them today? You also need to send them a regular newsletter on your industry that makes them more intelligent about what is going on. This newsletter isn’t to sell them, but instead, it is to help them become more intelligent. As Zig famously said, “Stop selling and start helping.”

Header Photo by madsmith33 (Pixabay)
What Is Your Personal Benefit To Your Prospect?

What Is Your Personal Benefit To Your Prospect?

There are three components to the benefits to every sales transaction. Those component benefits are the product that you sell, the company that you represent in that sale, and yourself. It is easy to understand the benefits of the first two, the latter can be more difficult.

Invariably, we all see ourselves through rose-colored glasses. It would be very difficult to do our job if we did not have a positive impression of ourselves but we cannot let that impression get in the way of our sale.

Create a standard Ben Franklin “T” chart on your Benefits and Detriments. On the left side, record all of the Benefits that you bring to your customer. On the right, put your Detriments. Make sure that each statement is in benefit format NOT feature format. You should be able to say each statement verbatim to a prospect and they will not respond with a “So….”

A bad example would be “I have been selling this service for the last 8 years.” A more appropriate statement would be “My 8 years of experience with this service allows me to guide a prospect through the decision-making process.” An example of a Detriment may be “I don’t understand the business drivers of my prospect’s industry.”

After you have created the chart, you need to use it. Make sure that all of your Benefits have been communicated to your customers and prospects. If you ask them the benefit that you bring to them, would they say any of the items on the list?

More importantly, look at your Detriments. How are you going to get them fixed? If this was a problem with the product or the company (the other two components) there would be a committee formed and people would be working hard to fix the issues. You need to do the same – sit down with your manager, your peers, and your trusted existing customers. Find their perspective on how you can improve the items on your Detriment list. You may even want to sit down with your significant other and let them guide your thoughts.

Another worthwhile endeavor in this process is to sell against yourself. Argue with yourself as to the true worth of a Benefit. This will make you defend its importance and develop a stronger case. Similarly, by internally berating a Detriment, you may discover how to make it a positive or at least diminish its negative influence.

This exercise only works if you are 100% honest with yourself. This is not your resume. You are only going to share this with 3 people: “Me, Myself, and I.” Use this list to focus on your Benefits and to take corrective action on the Detriments.

Photo by MinaLegend

9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making Each Morning

9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making Each Morning

Studies show that mornings count when it comes to being successful. But are you guilty of wasting some of the most crucial minutes of our day checking social media or grabbing a coffee? There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you might be surprised to find out that drinking coffee between 8 and 10 a.m can make you more stressed throughout the day. That’s because caffeine early in the morning interferes with the time that the stress hormone, cortisol, is peaking in your body. It’s best to get your fix between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Not all of the mistakes we all make in the first 10 minutes of the day are caused by procrastination. In fact getting on with our work in the wrong way can have a negative an impact on our productivity. Checking your work emails first thing is a common mistake. New York University’s Adam Alter says that it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back to being most productive after you’ve checked your emails.

9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making in the First 10 Minutes of Your Work Day, courtesy of Resume.io

Header Photo by @lattefarsan
35 Productivity Habits

35 Productivity Habits

Tech

  • Limit email replies to one per minute
  • If you can’t understand what an email asks, don’t answer
  • Tune out the news. Nothing important happens, most of the time.
  • Do not answer the phone, unless it’s a true emergency. (Emergencies are rare)
  • Use keyboard shortcuts.

Clothes

  • Define your fashion uniform.
  • Wear it daily.
  • Wear smart fabrics.
  • Carry an all-occasion outfit with you.
  • Discard what you stop using.

Hacks

  • Visualize your end product
  • Start before you feel ready, avoid chicken-and-egg.
  • Assume you are right, when in doubt
  • Decisive is productive.
  • If you can’t write it down, record it.
  • When you read something helpful, write to the author.
  • Manage anxiety – run, swim, dance
  • Sleep more. You will get more done.
  • Take naps when energy runs low.

Schedule

  • Do the easiest things first.
  • Prioritize one item per day.
  • Set a daily routine.
  • No meeting unless they are decisive.
  • Better done than perfect.

Food

  • Routinize your diet.
  • Eat healthy food.
  • Get delivery to save time.
  • Negotiate a daily deal with your trusted cafe.

Mind

  • Notice the 80/20 rule. Which 20%? of work produces 80% of the results?
  • Focus on the important, suppress the urgent.
  • Decide the outcome before even starting.
  • Start ‘Idea Dump’ book for genius ideas you can’t work on now.
  • Eliminate trivial decisions, like what to wear.
  • Learn to ignore. No need to respond to everything.
  • Do a bad first draft. You can’t edit a blank page.
  • Treat time as your money.

 

Header Photo by mohamed_hassan (Pixabay)
The Perfect Elevator Pitch

The Perfect Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitches are important, not just for people, but for businesses as well. A presenter must consider many things including the audience, message, and place when crafting a pitch, and provide value in less than a minute. Awkward physical and tonal cues can be off-putting, so practicing is crucial. When talking to potential clients, investors, or even partners, it’s vital to be prepared to give a pitch quickly and effectively.

Header Photo by TheMuuj