How do you handle a customer who talks all the time?

This is Sales Question and Answer #63 from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
When you ask a question, you direct the customer's thinking, interrupt his train of thought... Dave Kahle
Q. How do you handle a customer who talks all the time?
A. Your question reminds me of an ex-neighbor – the ultimate non-stop talker. A single guy, he had adopted our family as his, and was in the habit of showing up for dinner at every holiday. One year, he had Thanksgiving dinner at our house. He and I were relaxing afterward in the living room. He was droning on and on. I’m sure you know about the after-Thanksgiving dinner drowses. I nodded off in a short nap. When I woke up, he was still talking. He never slowed down, or even noticed, my ten minute nap. Now that’s a talker.

It might be OK to nod off in the middle of your neighbor’s monologue, but it’s not a good idea on a sales call. There is, however, an easy solution. Politely interrupt with a question. The question should direct the customer to the subject that you want to explore. When you ask a question, you direct the customer’s thinking, interrupt his train of thought, and move him to think and then respond to your direction.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your customer started in on last night’s football game, and has been going on for seven or eight minutes. You’re beginning to get a little groggy, are having a hard time staying awake, and visions of lunch keep popping into your head. In a moment of desperation, you interrupt: “John, excuse me, can I ask how you’re doing with those green widgets you tried last month?”

John pauses, and then launches in on the widget evaluation.

Notice that you were very polite. Notice also that the question stopped his train of thought, and re-directed his thinking to an issue that you wanted to put into the conversation. That’s how the best sales people do it.

This is just one application for the sales person’s most powerful tool: a good question. The incredible power in a question is that it directs the thinking of the person to whom the question is directed. There is something in human beings that, when we are asked a question, we automatically think of the answer.

Conversation proceeds from thought. To stop or change the conversation, you have to interrupt or redirect the thoughts. And, the most powerful tool to do that is a good question.

That’s just one thing that what makes a question such a powerful tool in the hands of a good sales person. A good question has multiple other uses.

So, whenever you want to deal with a customer, or anyone, who is talking on and on, just politely interrupt with a question that directs the customer’s thinking to the area that you want to go.

To learn more about how to yield the power of a good question, check out my book, Question Your Way to Sales Success.

Good luck.

Copyright MMX by Dave Kahle.
All Rights Reserved.
Originally published at davekahle.com

About the author:

Dave Kahle is a successful entrepreneur who, for over 25 years, has served as an internationally-recognized authority in sales and sales systems. His twelve books have been translated into eight languages and are available in at least 20 countries. His focus now is to share the wisdom and insights he has gained with people who want to grow their businesses, enrich their careers, and live a more fulfilled life. He has presented in 47 states and 10 countries. In addition, he is a chapter president for Truth@Work Christian Business Roundtables, and facilitates both local and virtual executive meetings. He and Coleen split their time between Sarasota, Florida and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visit his blog here.

Free Trials of CRM Software Can Be Practically Worthless

Ever heard the saying 'People buy with their eyes?'

Ok, management has decided that they need a CRM solution to streamline business processes and enhance internal communication and you have been chosen to investigate the options available. Like most people you have very little experience in this area so you Google CRM software and click on one of the myriad of lists that pop up such as; Top CRM, Best CRM or Top 40 CRM’s. Of course, the companies presented in these guides have all paid a fee to be in them so they are not necessarily the best solutions for your business, but it’s a start. So far, so good.

Next, you click on the ones that have met your initial criteria (which more often than not has not yet been defined). Perhaps you will just select one or two low-cost ones, a mid-priced offering, and a high-priced solution and compare them. With a single click, you can download a free trial and test them all out. This is great and is easier than you initially thought. You now have four free trials to review. But without specific criteria on what the company is looking for the CRM system to do, how can you possibly determine which one is best suited for the business? You can’t. Now what?

My advice! Just stop what you are doing because all the free trials in the world will not get you closer to making the right decision. Instead, force management to define what they want the CRM system to do. Is it to consolidate, manage, and share customer data; automate the sales process; build brand awareness via marketing campaigns; or perhaps manage projects? Without clearly defined requirements you are just wasting time. You could download 20 free CRM trials. It doesn’t matter. They are practically worthless at this stage of the decision process.

Don’t Make CRM a Beauty Contest

Ever heard the saying ‘people buy with their eyes?’ It is true and especially in the software industry. I cannot begin to tell you how many people have indicated that they like one product because it looks easy to use or another one because it has colorful graphs or icons. Some people are so enamored with this that they lose sight of what they are trying to achieve and end up selecting a solution that looks good and is easy to use, but does not address their business requirements. In many instances, they have no documented requirements so the decision is based simply on cosmetic appeal and price.

The Right Approach

Selecting CRM software without taking the time to document what you are trying to achieve, or choosing one product over another due to aesthetics or cost, will result in a failed implementation. To ensure that this does not happen to you I recommend the following:

1) Document your business requirements and do not even look at a CRM solution until you have this fully vetted.

2) Check to see if the solution provider(s) have addressed similar requirements with businesses your size or in your industry.

3) Have the CRM solution provider do a demonstration or walk through of their product to illustrate exactly how they will address your needs. Any vendor who refuses to do this should be removed from the selection process.

Do keep in mind that for some low cost or freemium vendors, they cannot afford to interact with every customer, nor do not have the resources to do so. This should be a red flag all on its own because CRM software is people intensive and you cannot expect to realize the maximum value from the software without assistance from the software provider. In fact, you should make this a key component in your decision process. Quality customer service is as important as selecting a quality product. Hope this helps you with your decision process.

Is 2017 the time to upgrade to an affordable project management software?

A wise man once said, “nothing worth having is free”.  That’s as true of project management software as it is of anything else.

Maybe your business is small, or medium-sized.  Maybe you think that what worked for you as a boiler room operation will take you into a future of growth, with no discernable consequences.

But if your business is using free, open source project management software I can guarantee, without reservation, that if growth if your objective you’ll need more project management muscle.  The good news is that it’s affordable.

So, is 2017 the time to upgrade to an affordable project management software?  Here’s what we think.

Staying on the rails.

Free software for project management is like rolling the dice.  While you may be comfortable with its performance as a smaller operation, if you’re growing, then you’ll need the enhanced functionality of an affordable solution.

When calendars aren’t adequately coordinated, all manner of disaster is lurking.  Can you afford to roll the dice when customer satisfaction is at stake?

Not if you really want to grow.  Staying on the rails and keeping your teams on the same project management page is crucial to your business’s success.  As your customer base grows, this factor becomes increasingly important.

The ducks don’t keep themselves in a row.

Trying it on for size.

At Commence, we know it’s tough to let go of the belief that free project management software is the answer.  But as your business grows, so do its needs.  To stay nimble and ready to take on increased customer demand, you need to commensurately pony up for what you need to achieve that.

That’s why we’re here to convince you and to do that, we offer you the chance to test drive our software.  We know that what we’re offering you is solid, reliable and affordable.  Why wouldn’t we want you to experience it for yourself?

Swallow your pride.

Who doesn’t love a freebie?  Who doesn’t love to tell anyone who will listen that they got something free of charge that’s “just great”?  But there comes a time when reality knocks.  That’s when you swallow your pride and admit that the free option isn’t serving your organizational needs anymore – that it’s beginning to drag you down, because your requirements have grown.

It’s OK, because admitting that you need an upgrade isn’t an admission of defeat.  It’s a win!  You get project management that keeps your team on top of timelines, deliverables and resources and that keeps your customers coming back.   They know you can rely on you, when you’re giving them what they need, because your affordable project management software is giving you what you need.

It’s time.

Breaking up is hard to do, but when you take an objective look at your needs, sometimes you realize that breaking up opens the door to a healthier relationship.  That’s why Commence encourages you to test drive our affordable project management software.

Commence is here to help you get things done, right on time.

Keep your project going smoothly, with integrated project management

Recently, we’ve discussed why you should keep your CRM and project management software together.  In this post, we’ll discuss the advantages of integrated project management.

In simple terms, project management is the art of keeping your ducks in a row.  All project personnel need to be closely adhered to the objectives of the project and that means access.  When CRM and project management exist in silos, communications can to break down.  That costs valuable time, team discord and customer dissatisfaction.  At Commence, we know there’s a better way and that is integrated project management.

Centralization.

The centralization of all functions of the project are served when management of tasks and deliverables is centralized.  All staff having access to a centralized system means communications are streamlined.  With one overarching framework, culture is served.  Disparate streams of thought about how projects are to be managed are brought together in common purpose.

Total collaboration from all stakeholders brings clarity to projects.  Problems can be seen at their germination and corrected in a timely manner with all eyes on the same ball.

Streamlined reporting.

With integrated project management, the need for reports to address the nuts and bolts of projects is brought under one rubric.  This reduces the human resources drain caused by multiple reports which tend to overlap.

Centralization of the reporting function precludes the need for superfluous reporting, providing all players with the same information, in the same format, covering the same key aspects of the project.  Commence provides pre-built, customizable reporting that precludes resource drain and keeps projects on track.

Resource allocation.

A particularly attractive aspect of integrated project management is the ability to coordinate calendars and schedules.  This allows for nimble allocation of resources and helps to ensure needed project capacity.

Continual evaluation of project need is another way integrated project management helps with resource allocation.  Tasks, timesheets and deployment of resources is governed by up-to-date information about the cost and scope of the project.  Changing needs can be rapidly identified, serving optimal use of resources.

Rapid response.

A key advantage of integrated project management is transparency.  When all personnel are on the same page, with access to the same information, issues are more readily visible.  That means organizations can respond rapidly and resolve potential hitches.

In summation.

Integrated project management that brings your team together enables project managers to practice efficient planning and management of resources.  Project timetables are integrated, allowing close collaboration between project functions in your organization’s various departments.

Centralization of project functions allows for streamlined reporting, clearly defining resource requirements and allowing project managers to respond through re-deployment.  Issues are diffused throughout the system, so that all personnel have a bird’s eye view of status, allowing for rapid response.

Commence CRM optimizes project execution by bringing integrated project management that defines objectives and deliverables.  By uniting your teams in common purpose, we keep your project going smoothly with integrated project management that allows timely completion and adherence to your budget.

Take a test drive, here.

Rewriting the sales script

This is a Sandler Weekly Sales Tip from guest poster Shulman & Associates.

Sandler Sales Training Tip

Why Did You Ever Consider Us?

The STORY:

“So,” continued Melinda on the phone, “would it be fair to say that it’s over?”
“I think so,” responded Beth. “But I want you to know that I really appreciate the fact that you’ve been so diligent in getting back to me the past month.”

“This may sound like a dumb thing to ask, but I just want to be clear…” she waited for a response.

“Go ahead, it probably isn’t dumb.”

“You and I are not going to do any business, correct?”

“Not now,” said Beth, “but in the future we will definitely consider you again.”

“Understand. Can I ask you one more dumb question?”

“Sure.”

“Knowing that we aren’t going to do business, why did you ever consider us?”

Melinda planned on waiting for a response however long it took. I took a good 15 seconds.

“Well, I don’t think I ever told you why I called to begin with…you were recommended by John Tate over at Carrier Corporation. He couldn’t say enough about you.”

“That’s interesting; I’ll have to thank him. But now there’s a problem…maybe you could suggest how I deal with it.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, this is kind of embarrassing for me…I’m going to call John, thank him, and then he’s probably going to ask me what happened. What do I tell him?”

Another 15 seconds of silence ensued. “Well, it seemed that we needed better terms with your company than you could give; I don’t suppose you could help us out with that.”

“By better terms, you mean…”

“Well, on the large orders like we talked about, if somehow we could have…”

The RESULT:

Melinda turned this “no” decision into a situation where the prospect is reconsidering. In addition, she learned that the payment plan had to be more flexible. Whether this prospect can be accommodated is something Melinda’s company will have to decide. Melinda turned a “no” into a “Let’s work on it.”

DISCUSSION:

Why do many salespeople bail out when a prospect says that the sale is not going to happen? One reason is that many salespeople expect, before the call is even made, that the prospect will end it. “I call any 10 prospects and nine of them are a waste of time. Nine times out of 10 I lose.”

So they gear themselves up to not succeed. They expect not to succeed. It’s now a lot easier, when the call is headed toward “no interest,” to give up. They know what the prospect is going to say, and they know what they are going to say. Both are following the “no interest” script. Both are comfortable in their respective roles.

Is there any reason why salespeople should act out their role in a script that leads them to give up? Why can’t a salesperson rewrite the script?

Because the original script is the way it is? Because that’s what you’ve been doing in the past? Because it’s easier to give up than try something different? Because that’s what the prospect expects you to do and who are you to disappoint the prospect?

None of these reasons seem valid, especially if the salesperson wants to go to the bank.

Who should make the decision to end it? The prospect or the salesperson? If you let the prospect make it, you bailed out, and worst of all, you know that. If you make the decision to end it, you leave without any doubts in your mind. That’s a much healthier mental attitude to go away with.

APPROACH:

If the prospect figures that the pressure for her to make a buying decision is over, just about any question you ask her at that point will be answered. Once she makes that “no” decision, she’s relieved. Once you seem to accept the “no” decision, she’s even more relieved. “Thank God that’s over with.”

Yes, it may be over. No matter what you do now, you won’t make the sale. But you need to try one last time so that the “end it” decision is yours.

“Why did you ever consider us?” you ask.

As you saw in the story, the prospect began reciting all of the reasons why she should be doing business with the salesperson. Isn’t that what you want?

THOUGHT:

You have nothing to lose by asking a prospect, who has told you “No, thanks,” to give you one more chance to get back in and do business.

About the author:

Shulman & Associates is a professional development firm specializing in sales and management training and sales force evaluation. Visit their website to register for a FREE Sales Training Workshop. Learn how to increase sales, improve margins, and accelerate new business development. Lunch is included in this workshop.