Archives for July 2012

[May I help You] Through the Buying Process?

How often have you found yourself in the middle of the buying cycle, and the process slows down, and the communication pattern shifts? Perhaps, all of the excitement that has built up to this point has damped the spirit of your team, simply because the process is not moving as fast as they would like, and the prospect has exceeded the time line they provided – in some cases demanded.

Sound familiar? I’m sure it does. So what can you do about it?

Simple – be smart!

This is where doing your homework on the front end of the cycle with your prospect will payoff. Examples of this include:

  • You qualified your prospect thoroughly before you began for a good business fit.
  • You asked pertinent questions and listened to their priorities, goals, and objectives. (hang on you will need these again).
  • You took the above data and feedback and matched your offering with their goals.
  • You separated your group from your competitor by offering alternative solutions to the objectives.
  • You received agreement, and/or were invited to move forward in the buying cycle.

The first impulse is to make a call to your best contact to see what is going on. In many cases that works well and is appropriate. But your best contact may be one of many involved in the decision, and can offer his perspective and minimal information.

Careful, this could translate into desperation, depending upon the personalities, and circumstances.

That’s a start, and a relief. But there is more to consider:

  • Is the project still a go?
  • Has there been internal changes with those involved?
  • Has their customer altered their priorities?
  • Has the funding been declined or altered?

In the majority of the cases you may never know the real cause for delay. Your best strategy is to go with what you know, with the understanding that as time draws closer, priorities often shift.

Suggestions:

  1. Remain calm and steadfast.
  2. Revisit their priorities, goals and objectives.
  3. Pull your team together, and create a ‘new’ solution or idea that will enhance suggestion #2.
  4. Reach out to the group, or key decision maker asking for an opportunity to share your new idea or solution.

My experience has taught me that taking this course of action enhances my consultative position, and will often reveal the nature of the delay.

Questions:

  1. How often are you faced with this scenario?
  2. Which tactics did you implement during the waiting period?
  3. What was your outcome?

To your success,
Andy

[Selling Outside the Radius] 6 Characteristics That Will Attract More Sales

What is ‘selling outside the radius’ and how can it help you?

Have you ever met a sales rep that experienced huge success in a manner that was unique, and winsome at the same time? If so, you know that this experience can be refreshing and inspiring to say the least.

I had the opportunity to meet a person earlier this morning with these unique qualities. After our discussion, we had a few minutes to sit down over a cup of coffee. Wow! Her insight and approach fits perfectly with the mind set of ‘selling outside the radius’. My first step was to thank her for taking a few minutes to speak with me, and to mention that I am in the process of studying successful sales reps that ‘sell outside the radius’, or for those that desire to go beyond the ‘status quo’.

With that brief explanation, I posed the question “Based on your success record and approach, how would you define ‘selling outside the radius’?”

Our short conversation left me with six key characteristics, and a short explanation that I think you will be interested in:

  1. Teach, don’t sell – Most qualified buyers are interested in learning, but avoid at all costs being sold to.
  2. Be clear in your offering – Know your stuff and present it in a manner that is easy to apply.
  3. Be authentic in your approach and timely follow up – Think before your write. Blend hand written hank you notes in with our social media strategy. Timely follow up is a broad topic, but you get the gist.
  4. Keep it fresh and inspiring by offering new ideas – Use step 2 to create new ideas throughout the buying cycle.
  5. Avoid assumptions by asking key questions – When possible ask questions versus making statements.
  6. The power of choice – Choice is one of our greatest options available. You must choose to make a difference.

Has choosing the ‘status quo’ ever kept you from making progress?

I am curious to hear your thoughts (share below).

To your success,
Andy

[Six Simple Questions] Preparing For New Business Acquisition

Depending upon your sales culture, new business acquisition may score at varying levels in priority. If your world is like that of many sales professionals, each year you are faced with a new (often higher than the previous year) number to achieve. The fundamental questions that often surface are “Why new business acquisition?” and “Which prospects do we want to acquire”?

These are fair questions.

In some cases your number can be achieved with a robust organic growth initiative. While this is a solid strategy, unfortunately in some cases organic growth falls short and winning new business is necessary in meeting your sales growth objectives.

Quick story…
I began my sales career in the chemical industry selling cleaning products to the healthcare and food service industry. This industry is loaded with ‘me too’ products; but is an industry that I still hold a passion for and have made life long friends after 24 years. In the final day of training, my manager handed me an Atlanta phone book and asked that I create a prospect list in the above market segments.

If you have experienced anything similar to my story, I would ask that you consider the following key questions:

1. Hypothetically speaking, what would have happened if you had not won any new business in your territory (or company) in the last year?
2. Which approach has worked best for you in acquiring new business? (i.e. referral from an existing customer, social media, email, trade shows, etc.)
3. What do you see as the primary challenges in acquiring new business? (i.e. What is standing in your way?)
4. Which target industries are the best match for you and your offering?
5. Within question #4, which prospects within each industry are the best match for you and your offering?
6. What is their preference for communication? (email, voice mail, social media…)

We all lose business for reasons that are often beyond our control. Attrition can come in various forms (competition, M&A, shift in infrastructure, closure…). These loses can only be countered by winning new customers throughout the year.

Something to think about…

As you prepare for new business acquisition, has a lack of direction ever kept you from making progress?

I am curious to hear your thoughts.

Moving forward,
Andy

[Creating a Successful Presentation Outcome] Part #3 – 5 Proven Steps in Addressing Radio Silence

You have the right prospect, the timing is right, you have earned their trust, which lead to the big appointment with your prospect, you presented successfully, you followed up in a proficient and professional manner and for the past week – radio silence. In other words, you received a response to several that you followed up with, but silence from your primary contact(s).

What happened? Probably nothing, but it is normal to be curious, but more than likely no need for alarm.

What now?

3 Proven Steps in Dealing With Radio Silence

1. Read through your meeting notes for a quick refresher to make sure that you haven’t overlooked a reason that might support their reduced communication.
2. Give it a full week before making contact.

I bet by now they have made contact, if not consider the following.

3. Contact your best contact, letting them speak first. If they are in neutral offer an authentic idea that could make a significant contribution- one that was not addressed in your presentation. If your prospect is genuine they will clear the air and offer an explanation of where thy are in the process.

4. If step 3 is to no avail, contact one of your their players that are involved in the process that you have a solid relationship with, one that you can trust.

5. If one or both of the above suggestions do not yield the results that you were hoping for, then have your boss contact their senior leader for a ‘peer to peer’ discussion. If they are sincere, then the truth around the new time line and next steps will surface.

Has one of your key prospects ever gone into radio silence with everything in perfect alignment?

I am curious to hear your thoughts.

To your success,
Andy

[Creating a Successful Presentation Outcome] Part #2- Your Initial Follow Up Strategy

Wow what a feeling! Earlier today, we completed a super successful presentation with our prospect in Albuquerque and we are getting off the plane in Orlando.

Now is the time when we pull our notes together and create the initial follow up. A thorough follow up process, sets the stage for on going conversations with your prospect.

The ‘why’ behind follow up is simple – you show your prospect that they matter to you! And they do.

First and foremost, let’s pull together 8 key questions that will help you in the process.

8 Key Questions for Discussion:

  1. What critical information did you gather from the discussion ( new contact names, position in the company, current activity, future projects, time lines, next steps…?)
  2. Who are their current suppliers for your prospect?
  3. What was your impression from the discussion?
  4. Did they expand on their requirements and expectations? If so what were the specifics?
  5. What new interests were added to the process? (hard to find parts, special service needs…?)
  6. What were the agreed upon next steps?
  7. When is your next scheduled discussion?
  8. What information did you post in your CRM?

Now that you have these questions established , its time to implement your follow up process.

Stay tuned for part #3.

To your success,
Andy

What has been your experience in creating your follow up strategy?

[Creating a Successful Presentation Outcome] Part One – It’s All About Them!

YOU have worked hard, applied your skill set, the timing is in your favor and you have just scheduled a presentation with your top prospect senior team.

Congratulations! A successful presentation will advance you to the next step in the buying cycle.

To add to the thrill, you just received an email – they will all be there, each of the key decision maker and influencers, and each with their chosen topics of discussion.

A lot has gone into advancing to this level in the buying cycle. You are excited, your team is excited, the questions are endless as well as the internal emails. In short, the office dynamics are at maximum capacity.

Now what, as you begin the initial steps of preparation?

Short reminder – it is all about them!

Two simple tools that will achieve this objective:

1. A List of Pre-Call Sales Objectives
– this includes both primary and secondary objectives
– a notes section

2. A Unique PowerPoint
– you know their objectives, begin with these (5-7 slides max!)
– transition to your company highlighting how your model can meet their objectives (3-5 slides max!)
– list your references with contact information (1 slide will do!)
– Q&A
– Next steps discussion

These tools are for starters as you prepare (why invent the wheel?). Contact me  and I will send you proven templates for each of these tools.

To your success,
Andy

[1 Simple Question] 3 Simple Responses

‘Why Should I spend time Prospecting’?

I love sales people, not because I am one, but just because most sales people that I come into contact with ask the truly tough questions and expect a straight answer, moreover an answer that is real!

Does this sound familiar?

On Friday during a customer meeting, one of the high producing reps asked a simple question – why should I spend so much time prospecting? In the same breathe he made the justifying statement, I am having a record year, and have a full plate in handling my existing customer base. The fact is that he is having a remarkable year.

My response was simple enough. The easy answer is you don’t have to. It really is a choice.

The room went stone silent.

I restated, you don’t have to prospect if you have solid answers to the following questions:

  1. Does any one customer represent more than 15% of your total sales? If so, you are out of balance.
  2. What is the annual attrition rate for your industry? (for many industries it is up to 20%)
    The fact is customers transition and many times it is beyond your control.
  3. Within your existing, or your companies pipeline, are there enough qualified prospects to absorb a significant loss to one of your key customers?

Healthy sales organizations are encouraged to have a solid balance of customer retention and prospecting for new business in order to secure their future.

What has been your experience in creating a balance?

To your success,
Andy