Tag: company

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.

 

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

Are salespeople necessary in the Internet age?

Are salespeople necessary in the Internet age?

The question is often asked, “Are salespeople necessary in the Internet age?” The theory is that with the ability of the Internet to allow for massive research of technologies and products, what role does the salesperson have in the modern economy.

I will cut to the chase on my answer and then explain it later: The CFO can eliminate his sales force only if all of the following is true:

  • Your product is so simple and your relationship with the buyer is so straightforward that no Internet research is required. In other words, think of things that you buy in a mall or a grocery store (although I will explain an important caveat later in this post).
  • You have a commanding market share – probably in excess of 50%.
  • Your VP of Manufacturing and your VP of Supply Chain has told you that they cannot handle any increase in orders.

In every other case, your sales force is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

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You are the most important value offering that you sell

You are the most important value offering that you sell

What are the various “value offerings” that you sell or that your prospects buy? If we break it down into broad categories, inevitably it is three high-level value offerings:

  1. Your product that gets the prospect to their goals.
  2. Your company that produces and supports the product.
  3. You.

If you think about all of the sales calls you have made in your career, the questions all fall into these three big value offerings. The prospect wants to know all about the speeds and feeds of your product. They want to know all about the pricing model of the product. They want to know all about the support options and warranty of the product. They want to know how long your company has been producing the product and what the roadmap is for your company. They may even want to meet some executives of your company to be comfortable about the management of the company.

During all of these sales conversations, they are also learning about the value offering that you bring to them. They are learning about you as a person. Are you reliable? Are you knowledgeable? Does the prospect trust the words that come out of your mouth? In short, they are trying to figure out if they should buy from you or, in essence, can they buy you.

Yes, you are for sale if you are in sales. You are a part of the value offering that the prospect considers in the evaluation. At a minimum, do you offer enhance value to the prospect over just buying the product over the Internet?

Here is the rub, you are the most important value offering. Not the product and not your company. They are secondary to the importance of you as a value offering.

Let’s be perfectly blunt, is your product that much better or worse than the competition? When you answer questions about your product, aren’t 90-99% of your responses positively answered regarding the customer’s concern? How many times do you answer a question, “No, we don’t have that feature.” Obviously, you will give that answer at times, but in those cases, you probably are not a good fit for the customer and will lose the deal immediately. If your product doesn’t have that required feature, then you are not talking to a qualified prospect for that product.

Isn’t your competitor’s product in a similar situation? Don’t most of their features match up fairly well to your own product’s features? I am sure that you do a little better at feature A or B. Although your competitor probably does a little better at C. When you add it all up, it is probably pretty close to a dead even tie. Worse yet, your prospect probably can achieve their goals perfectly well without buying the best product on the market (yours) because the second best or third best product will accomplish the goals. They don’t need the best; they simply need the product and company to be good enough to accomplish their goals.

Similarly, how many times do you have to explain to your prospect that your company isn’t very good at supporting the product? Do you ever really lose a deal based on company longevity or commitment to the market? Of course not and neither do your competitors.

As a Sales Trapper, I continuously advise salespeople that features that do not differentiate do not matter. Does the car salesperson spend time explaining the value offering of the accelerator on the floor? Of course not, all modern cars have them. Does the TV salesperson explain that the remote will change the channel and volume? Of course not, all TVs have remotes with a value offering that do that. In both cases, there was a time when those were unique and differentiating features but not in today’s competitive market. The TV and automobile manufacturers have added those features as standard, and the features no longer differentiate the products. Since none of these features add a differential value offering, there is no reason to “sell” these features to the prospect. A salesperson that spends a lot of time talking about the value offering of these benefits is simply wasting valuable time.

So why do you spend so much time talking about your company and your product? Obviously, you need to do the minimum amount to make sure you check off all of the check boxes, but that is all you are doing. All you are doing is showing that your company and your product are good enough to match the competition. As soon as you achieve that parity, you need to sell the one benefit that only you can provide.

You need to sell you. You need to prove to the prospect that you offer more value than your competitor. You demonstrate this value offering by the information that you share with the prospect. You demonstrate this value offering by the benefit that you provide understanding your prospect’s business. By helping your prospect improve his or her personal skills and achieve personal goals, you make yourself irreplaceable.

If your product can help the prospect achieve a goal, then it is likely that your competitor’s product can do the same. If your company can support the product and the customer, then your competitor can do the same. You, personally, are the only truly differentiated benefit to the prospect, and you need to make sure your prospect understands this benefit (and the associated value offering).

You know that you have truly won the deal if the prospect says they would buy either your product or your competitor’s product from you. You were the most valuable part of the sale. Have you ever heard those words from a new customer?

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net