As the economy begins its ascent, it is more important than ever to provide your team with the tools to succeed. In sales especially, your team has been hard hit by the tough economic times. As a sales manager, it will be your job to engage your team, build confidence, and coach for success.
This newsletter focuses on what tools you can use as a sales manager to build on success, and prepare your team to take advantage of the upswing. It is still tough out there, so make sure you are giving your team all of the tools to succeed!
Achieving Customer Commitment
When customers procrastinate their purchase decisions, even after you have successfully resolved all objections, use a Value Summary to restate the value of your solution, create a sense of urgency, and overcome delayed decisions.
Building a Value Summary
Remind yourself of what your buyers want (primary interest) and why they want it (dominant buying motive), then do these three things:
- Remind your buyers that they are currently missing out on the benefit your solution can provide and get their agreement. Describe how your solution appeals to their dominant buying motive.
- Remind your buyers that your solution will satisfy that need.
- Paint a "word picture" of your buyers using your solution, enjoying it, and benefiting from it.
Guidelines for Value Summaries
- Be clear and concise
- Describe in the present tense
- Link your solution directly to the buyer's dominant buying motive
- Be believable and realistic
- Show examples of the buyer benefiting from your solution
- Appeal to the buyer's senses - sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell
Asking for Commitment
After you have presented your Value Summary, be ready to ask for a commitment - the "close." Consider the following methods:
Often the best way to gain a buyer's commitment is to ask for it. Ask a direct question that calls for a decision.
"Are you ready to go ahead with this decision?"
Alternate Choice Method:
Ask the buyer to select one of two options.
"Would you like the K80 with the standard stock, or would you prefer to choose from our specialty line?"
Minor Point Method:
Ask the buyer to make a minor decision that indicates that the larger buying decision has already been made.
"In whose name should this title be drawn?"
Next Step Method:
Assume that the buyer has already committed and look ahead to the next step.
"When would you like for me to schedule the installation?"
Present the buyer with a brief window of opportunity when options are available. This can be an effective method to use with a buyer who is ready to buy, but who is procrastinating the final decision.
"You know that our prices increase on September 1st. I know that you'd want to take advantage of these lower prices now, right?"
If the buyer still has second thoughts about making the purchase, show him or her how the return on investment outweighs the cost.
"Let's do what many people do when making a major decision. Let's weigh the ideas causing you to hesitate and the value you'll realize from going ahead."
Avoiding the Tyranny of the Urgent
You need to commit to establishing priorities and enhancing productivity. Specify activities you will stop doing to increase your productivity and actions you will take to gain better results. Have a clear vision of your expected results.
How to Prioritize
- Prepare a to-do list.
- Include quadrant 2 activities.
- Arrange the list in order of importance to you, both personally and professionally. Take into consideration how certain items on your list might affect others (for example, someone might need something from you in order to do his or her job. If so, you can't neglect that responsibility).
- Develop deadlines for each item. Create deadlines for quadrant 2 activities.
- Examine the consequences for failing to accomplish a certain task by the deadline.
- Identify the rewards of completing the task on time.
Cold Call Test
This True/False test will help clarify some common myths and misperceptions about cold calling. We've based the "correct" responses on research found in books written specifically on cold calling and on our own experience as a global sales training provider.
Keep in mind that some of these questions could have different correct responses in special cases. So be sure to answer from a general sales perspective rather than from the perspective of a unique selling situation.
1. The only goal for any business-to-business cold call should be to schedule an appointment.
TRUE: Salespeople often make the mistake of selling their solutions when cold calling. This is a deadly error. Sell only one thing at a time. If the person is willing to talk now, focus on getting the appointment.
2. Cold calling will generally generate results that are just as good as referrals.
FALSE: Referrals tend to have higher closing ratios for appointments.
3. It is not a high priority to qualify prospects when cold calling. The key is to set up as many appointments as possible.
FALSE: Save time for you and your prospects by ensuring you have qualified leads before taking the time to make and attend an appointment with a prospect.
4. You should leave a message for the buyer when you get voicemail instead of the actual person.
TRUE: Never miss an opportunity to leave a positive impression about you and your company. Also, remember that many people use caller ID. They may be wondering why you called and then failed to leave a message.
5. Most salespeople stop cold calling a prospect after four tries.
TRUE: Unfortunately, most salespeople give up after only four tries.
6. After you've made a certain number of cold calls, it becomes less important to keep records of your results.
FALSE: Most salespeople hate paperwork and keeping records, but it is the only way to find out what is working. And just because something works (or doesn't) this year, that doesn't mean it won't change next year...or next week.
7. Always make friends with the gatekeeper.
FALSE: Good relationships with gatekeepers can be a salesperson's best asset. These individuals can give you a positive look into the customer's organization. So you should always be friendly with the gatekeeper, but you don't need to necessarily befriend the gatekeeper. These individuals may feel that your interest is an intrusion and suspect that you are trying to manipulate them, or they just may never have contact with any decision-makers in the company. Be cautious about feeling that you are making great progress when you could be wasting your time and theirs.
8. If a prospect doesn't want to talk to you, it's probably personal.
FALSE: You have no idea what is going on in a person's world when you cold call. Remember not to take anything personally.
9. Less information is better when leaving a voicemail.
TRUE: Thirty seconds is about as long as you can hold someone's attention with a voice mail.
10. Experienced salespeople are past prospecting and develop all their business from current clients and referrals.
FALSE: Over time, we all lose customers because they go out of business, relocate, change their business, and for a host of other reasons. Experienced salespeople plan for this loss of clientele and continue to look for new prospects.
11. Experienced professionals use scripts when prospecting on the phone.
TRUE: Scripts help us make sure we are using the words with the maximum impact on prospects. Professionals practice them enough so that they don't sound like scripts.
12. Cold calling doesn't have to be a constant activity. Once your business gets going, you should be able to eliminate it.
FALSE: The majority of your business should eventually come from existing clients and referrals, but if you stop cold calling, you are missing potentially valuable business opportunities.