Archives for August 2012

Living in a Fool’s Paradise: The Ideal Competitor

Fools Paradise

How often have you heard the phrase living in a fool’s paradise? Well, a frightening observation is to see it practiced from a sales perspective!

In our world, a fool’s paradise is defined by the following choices that our competitors make.

  • an unwillingness to change
  • happy with the status quo
  • no thought or preparation for the future
  • they bring nothing to the table except their established relationship(s)

In today’s sales world you and I are always looking for the ideal prospect. But how about the ideal competitor? One that is living in a fools paradise?

Looking closer

A competitor that has fallen into this trap has grown soft, feeling that present circumstances will carry them into the future. The sad observation is many of these organizations have their customers (your prospects) caught in their downward spiral. You know the type, those that claim and hide behind their relationships alone.

Five proven solutions to expose the fool (your competitor) and his fool’s paradise:

  1. Pull the gloves off.
  2. Drive change beginning with one influential person that is looking to leverage their knowledge. Find this person and partner with them offering fresh ideas and solutions.
  3. Reach an agreement with your contact that you may be going higher in their organization and ask for the blessings.
  4. Leverage your successful customer testimony with a peer in your prospects organization.
  5. Stay the course, progress at their pace.

By taking this path with a prospect that is looking to change and is interested in innovative ideas you can, and will prevail. You can save your own customer from the downward spiral of accepting the status quo, better known as a fool’s paradise.

Questions

  1. Have you ever been lulled into settling into a fool’s paradise?
  2. What did it take to shake you from this mindset?
  3. How many of your prospects have fallen into this habit?

As always, I am here to help.

To your success,
Andy

How to Increase Your Customer’s Market Share

market share

A Quick story…

On Wednesday morning July 11, I walked into the office of one my best customers and was met by one of their veteran sales people. After a short exchange he asked if I had a few minutes. I listened to his concern and have summarized below a few of our discussion points that I would like to pass along to you.

  • You have the proven skills to increase your market share within any of your customers. You work both hard and smart.
  • You are ahead of last years sales by double digit figures. Congratulations, you have not grown complacent.
  • The concern is that one of your best customers offers a huge growth potential, but you have been unable to penetrate further and gain market share with additional products.

He agreed to all of the above and was sincerely looking for a helpful solution. After listening carefully, I suggested the following that is often overlooked by sales people; including me.

The How to…

I simply asked have you ‘adjusted to their buying pattern’ and have you asked the decision maker ‘how do you prefer to purchase these additional products’?

He agreed to implement the above. We left the conference room and I have not spoken with him until yesterday when I received an email with a copy of an order that he received earlier that afternoon from his best customer. To be more specific, this was the largest order written this year in his division. Needless to say, he was excited.

Success…

His success took just over two months. He altered his approach by adjusting to their buying pattern. He asked the simple question,”How do you prefer to purchase these additional products?” By doing so, he reached his goal in gaining additional market share with his best customer.

He achieved his goal by implementing these simple steps and by focusing on follow up. You can too!

To your success,
Andy

How ‘Street Cred’ Can Influence a Buying Decision

Street CredHave you ever given thought to how ‘Street Cred’ can influence a buying decision?

Before going further, let’s define what Street Cred, or street credibility is and how it can work to your advantage.

Street Cred is defined as respect you earn through proven accomplishments, not empty posing, or bragging. It is not easy to achieve, since it is based on proven skill and experience.

How does this relate to you?

Earlier this week our group finished a 90 minute final presentation after a lengthy buying cycle. We were one of the finalist in the evaluation process, and the committee asked that we present last in a list of five final competitors.

At the end of our presentation we answered the final questions and were asked to step outside while the committee met as a group. After a thirty minute waiting period we were called back into the room. The committee announced that we we were the chosen supplier.
As you can imagine the feeling of accomplishment was incredible.

We hung on every word they said as they explained the next steps in the process. At the end of their discussion the committee leader asked if we had any questions. The senior sales rep raised her hand and asked ‘what was the deciding factor’?

Without hesitation the committee leader responded by saying you and the members of your team have won our confidence with your ‘Street Cred’. You understand the nuances of our business and articulated your practical experience and created value in a manner that was unmatched. Your Street Cred influenced our buying decision in the following five ways:

Five Levels of Influence

  1. You listened to our requirements and expectations.
  2. You brought fresh ideas and solutions to our team.
  3. You related well to our people.
  4. Your follow up was incredible.
  5. You live what you sell.

Conclusion

You have to ‘walk the walk’, and not simply ‘talk the talk’ to develop the level of trust and acceptance required to influence a buying decision that is in your favor. In the professional world of sales you can apply the five levels of influence to attract the best customers to your organization. You can have Street Cred.

To your success,
Andy

Improve Your Sales By Improving Your Product Knowledge

ImproveEffective sales leaders lead from the front and offer encouragement for you to maximize your true potential.

You are good at what you do. More than likely you posses the level of product knowledge to reach your goals, your company’s sales target, and to excel well beyond your toughest competitor. So, how can you maximize your true potential?

You really don’t need another book, Webinar, or another sales meeting to win your toughest prospect. You simply need to apply your product knowledge.

Your industry is covered with sales reps that know less than you know, are not as capable as you are, lack the resources, yet produce the results that you desire. You are better than that! It’s time to improve.

A Choice To Take Action

It is your choice. A choice to take action. To take action to learn and master your product, and to develop a belief system that will make an even greater difference in the lives of your customers and prospects.

In today’s competitive landscape good is no longer good enough. Your customers and prospects are looking for you to provide solutions for their challenges. Your product knowledge can help them solve their problems and help you to maximize your true potential as a sales professional.

Questions

  • What is the gap between your results and your goals?
  • Where can you take action to improve your product knowledge now?

The choice to continue your success at a higher level is yours. As always, if I can support your sales success, please let me know.

Stay the course,
Andy

Go Ahead, Take the Next Step, Make the Call

Take the next stepWe’d just finished lunch and my sales colleague’s cell phone rang as we were walking back to the office. As we all do, he looked to see if he recognized the number. He did – vaguely, and took the call. After a short exchange, he tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to his phone with a thumbs up. What had occurred was one of his prospects returned his call from an introductory voice mail that he left earlier that morning.

How often have you heard:

Just make the call. They are going to buy from somebody, so it might as well be you.

Is it really that easy?

Yes, it really is if you have prepared and done your homework on the front end.

As a sales professional you know that successful prospecting is an ongoing process of researching heavily on the front end using social media and leveraging your industry contacts and relationships.

Once your research is done and you are fully prepared, the next step, and only next step is to make the call.

In certain cases your fact-finding may fall short due to limited information. This may be a poor website, or (believe it or not) their group is not involved heavily in social media.

So take the time to prepare, reach out, and take a chance! As with any prospect there must be a beginning point.

Questions:

  1. Does this sound familiar?
  2. What has been your experience under these circumstance?
  3. How did you feel after you made the call?

Your prospect has a need, and you have a solution – go ahead, take the next step, make the call. You will be glad you did!

To your success,
Andy

3 Proven Steps to Reduce Your Prospect’s Buying Cycle

Reduce Your Prospects Buying Cycle

While beginning a morning training session, I posed a simple question to get the juices flowing:

What can you do to reduce your prospect’s buying cycle?

Hands shot up across the conference room immediately. After writing their responses on the white board, the number one answer was ‘better prospect qualification’. That was simple enough. My next question was ‘how’? This is where the fun began. I say fun, because what they offered was real life experience that is working. I would like to pass this along to you.

Let’s refer to these as 3 Proven Steps to Reduce Your Prospects Buying Cycle

  1. Qualify ruthlessly – why are they looking to change suppliers, when are they looking to change, what are their requirements and expectations, what are they looking to improve upon?
  2. Refuse to become a vending machine – the explanation here is often buyers will feed you their time, press your button, and expect a full compliment of your solutions. Provide information only if a strong reason is provided.
  3. Measure progress, document results, share frequently – in completing this step you will know what they are trying to accomplish. Create a matrix that measures each objective, and share it in acceptable intervals throughout the buying cycle.

So as you can see, the reduction of the buying cycle is done on the front end and also throughout the buying process.

Your qualified prospects often lead to solid customer relationships. In no way should a buying experience become a competition between you and your prospect. However, your time and resources are valuable. Using the above criteria will place you in a position of strength in developing your pipeline of qualified prospects.

To your success,
Andy

7 Qualification Steps to Avoid a Sugar High

Sugar High
If your prime prospect has now opened the doors allowing full access, and gone beyond their normal pattern of communication, there may be reason for further qualification around their requirements,expectations, and time line.

You have been there many times I am sure. Your prime prospect returns your call, the conversation flows well beyond your expectations, meetings are set, presentations are being prepared, and everyone is excited.

Time out! Is the timing working in your favor, or is your prime prospect setting you up for a sugar high?

A sugar high is defined by your prospect taking unusual steps that span beyond their previous buying pattern just to glean additional information.

I would suggest having an active discussion with your prime prospect using the seven qualifying steps before going further:

  1. What has changed for the prospect?
  2. Why do they want to change, or explore changing now?
  3. How much time is left on the existing contract, if there is a contract?
  4. How long has the incumbent(s) been in position?
  5. Who is leading the charge, who is the point person?
  6. What staff changes have occurred internally?
  7. Have the priorities changed since the beginning of the buying cycle?

Only you can know the sincerity of your prime prospect. Your time and your company’s resources are valuable. More importantly, your emotional energy around a prime prospect must be guarded to avoid the sugar high of false expectations.

To your success,
Andy

One Simple Solution for Avoiding Customer Confusion

[Notes from a previous workshop – Part 1]

Two weeks ago, my team and I met with one of our key customers. What started out as a training session on creating loyalty and “becoming a member of your customer’s team” transitioned into a thought provoking workshop. The thoughts below are a recap of this four hour discussion around their real challenge of identifying, and avoiding customer confusion.

How many times have you put in the time, applied the latest sales methodology, leveraged your relationships…and got zip?

Simply put, we all have. It is part of our craft as professional sales people.

After working closely with my customers (more specifically, my customer’s customers), I have noticed a contributing factor that is deeper than them being ‘busy’, or wearing many hats. The challenge is simply that their customers and prospects are confused. The confusion may stem from delivering a fresh message in a recent M&A, poor branding, product and service parity, or a host of other reasons.

As in certain cases, customers and prospects are confused, and it creates certain challenges. Some of these may include a hesitancy to explore other products for upselling opportunities, or endless efforts in gaining your first appointment for new business acquisition.

In piecing all of the parts of the puzzle together, it became evident, and was agreed upon that they lacked a clearly defined cause for doing business with their company. In short their cause is defined by knowing and aligning with the customers needs, and articulating a clearly understood solution in a persuasive manner on a consistent basis.

Solution: Identifying your cause will eliminate their confusion.
Fact: People will unite around a cause.

Something to consider….

  • As a sales professional do you know what your company’s ’cause’ is?
  • As a sales leader does your sales team know what your ’cause’ is? Moreover, do they believe what you believe?

Questions

  1. What are the ‘game changing’ benefits of your ’cause’?
  2. Have you clearly communicated your ’cause’ so it is understood by your customer?
  3. How have you aligned your ’cause’ with the needs of your customers, or prospects?
  4. How have you taken this information and developed it both strategically and tactically?
  5. Do you have a new ‘idea’ that stands out?

You can remove your customers’, and prospects’ confusion by identifying your ’cause’ and implementing it using the five questions above.

The above is a small piece of the story. Contact me and we can go into greater detail.

People will unite around a cause…what is yours?

Stay tuned for part #2.

Keep selling,
Andy

[5 Characteristics] of a Good Business Fit

Robert Lee Griffin III (aka RG3) won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor, and is now the newly drafted quarterback of the Washington Redskins. With the season before us, several feel this is a bad fit. A bad fit for the team, and bad fit with his coach Mike Shanahan.

I suppose that time will tell.

We see the same in suits, jobs, relationships and business.

So how does this relate to our world – sales?

We know what a bad fit between your company and prospect, or existing customer looks like, and the experience that it creates. To use the well worn cliche’ it is like trying to fit a ’round peg into a square hole’. The only way it fits, is with undue pressure with all involved.

For the sake of the next few sentences, let’s focus on defining the ‘best fit’ for organic growth with your customers, and potential prospects. In working with a customer earlier this morning, the following five characteristics stemmed from our team discussion. Perhaps some, or all of these can be a ‘good fit’ for you.

5 Characteristics of a Good Business Fit

  1. Their culture is a close match to ours. (In this case innovative and proactive)
  2. Both organizations are scalable. (we can grow together)
  3. Their needs fit with our core offering.
  4. We can meet their needs without burdening our resources.
  5. Our existing products and service model fits well for organic growth.

So how about you…

  • What has been your experience in discovering the right fit?
  • How often have you tried to make a bad fit work for the right reasons?
  • How are you defining a ‘good fit’ customer, or prospect?

There are plenty of good fit customers and prospects available. Spending time cultivating and nurturing these can make all the difference in your success.

Keep selling,
Andy