Let Go of Unproductive Behavior

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

The STORY:

“The best sales thing I ever did,” said Melinda between sips of soup at lunch, “was give up trying to reach a dollar goal.”

Bob stared with a shocked expression on his face.  “Sure,” he said, “you who could coast for a year on what you’ve closed in the last fourteen months.  Easy for you to say.”

“I suppose you could say that, but that’s not how I got to where I am.”

“Come on; get real.  It’s me, Bob.  Remember we both started the same day three years ago?”

“Sure,” she replied, “I remember.  I also remember that for the first year, I had a sign hanging up on my bathroom mirror that had the monthly amount I needed to make on it.”

“Yeah, and you hit it more often than not.”

“Yes, I did.  But that’s when I discovered something else more important.”

“What’s that?”

“That not a single prospect or customer gave a damn whether I reached it or not.  As far as they were concerned, there were 10 other salespeople selling the same thing; I just happened to get there first.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“I just did; you just don’t want to hear it.”

“What?”

“Here, I’ll make it simple for you.  They don’t care about me, but I need their money.  To get their money, I have to give them something they need.  The more energy and time I can spend on their needs, the more I can give them.  The more I give them, the more money they give me.”

“Hate to admit it, I still don’t get it.”

“You’re thick.  I have a new sign on my bathroom mirror.  It reads, ‘What prospect needs have you discovered today?'”

“And this makes you more money.”

“Who’s the one, as you put it, who could coast for the rest of the year?”

“A low shot, Melinda, a low shot.  Finish the soup.”

The RESULT:

Melinda has discovered for herself that no matter what she wants, her customers and prospects are the ones who put money in her bank account.  The only Melinda behavior that counts is what makes those deposits happen more and more often.

DISCUSSION:

Why do some salespeople insist on using a certain pen?  Why do some have a lucky tie?  Why are others convinced morning appointments are “closable” and afternoon appointments a waste of time?

Simple.  At some point in time, a sale was made and a certain pen was used.  Or, that blue tie was worn when the Jones account closed for seven figures.  All of these could be dismissed as salespeople exhibiting superstitious behavior.  Unfortunately it’s not that minor.

All of these beliefs have a common element underlying them.  In essence, the reason the sale closed had nothing to do with the customer’s need or had nothing to do with the ability as a salesperson; the sale closed for some other reason.

What other reason is there?  If the customer didn’t need what was being sold, would the tie make the slightest bit of difference?  If the customer did have the need but the salesperson was a bumbling idiot, would the felt tip pen matter at all?

APPROACH:

Ask yourself a question.  Do the prospects care whether I put money in the bank or not?  Are they going to stay up all night worrying about my personal financial condition?  Probably not.  Why should they?  Absolutely no reason in the world they should.

Consider this line of thought.  Why should I waste my sales time thinking how much this sale would mean to me if I made it?  My prospect doesn’t care about my needs; he only cares about his needs.  If I take time to think about my needs, that’s time away from answering the needs of my prospect.  That lessens the chance of the sale being made.

Thus, the more of my time I can devote to my prospect’s needs, the more sales I will make.  Seems pretty simple.  It is.

Does each task or behavior you engage in during the sales day solve a prospect’s need?  If they do, you have let go of unproductive behavior.  If there is any behavior done during the sale day that does not attempt to solve a prospect’s need, it should be done on non-sales time.

What’s non-sale time?  Those are the hours when you could not possibly make a sale.

THOUGHT:

Does a salesperson put money in the bank by focusing on a monthly sales amount or by closing sales?  Pick one or the other.

About the author:

Shulman & Associates is a professional development firm specializing in sales and management training and sales force evaluation. Visit their website and sign up to receive the free sales tip of the week. Learn how to increase sales, improve margins, and accelerate new business development.

Commence Adds Project Management to Popular CRM Software

CRM with Project Management

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Commence CRM offers a suite of modular applications for managing sales, marketing, customer service and now project management. Commence fits squarely between low cost, out-of-the-box CRM solutions and overly complex expensive products like Salesforce.com. Customers consistently give Commence a five star rating for the company’s customer service. To learn more about Commence CRM visit the company’s web site at commence.com.

Learn What Unproductive Behavior Is

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

If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.

The STORY:

“Well,” said Bob, “the whole point of this brochure is to make sure that the prospect remembers me a week later when he comes across it.”

“I have to say,” Janet responded, “they look very nice sitting on the corner of your desk in that plexiglass holder.  Did you have them printed?”

“No,” responded Bob, beaming a smile in return, “I found this paper catalog that has these tri-fold brochures pre-printed in color.”

“How did you fit the text in then?”

“The same company has the word-processing templates.  You tell the program what tri-fold template you have, and it automatically fits the text into the designs.”

“Still must have taken a ton of time to do.”  She reached over and took one.  Opening it up, she remarked, “Gee, these are really well done.”

“Thanks.  Took me at least a week using every minute I had here that I wasn’t actually talking to a prospect and then at least a couple of hours every night.”

“If I paid you for some more of their paper, do you think you could print some up for me?  I’ve got a couple of ideas for some different text I’d like to use.”

“Sure,” responded Bob, “since there’s no one in right now, why don’t you drop what you are doing and we’ll start now?”

“Sounds like a good idea.  The only thing I was about to do was call some of the folks who came by two months ago to that open house we had.  This sounds like more fun.”

“Yeah, I figure that this brochure will mean more to prospects a week later when they come across it instead of the run-of-the-mill business card.”

Janet looked at Bob’s brochure for a moment.  “You know,” she began, “if you made this type size about twice as large, the business phone number would definitely stick out further.”

“No problem,” said Bob, “let me fire up the computer right now.  I can make the change, print one, and then we can see.”

The RESULT:

Bob produced a very professional-looking and well-written brochure.  It’s now proudly sitting on the edge of his desk in one of those “Take one” plexiglass holders.  All he needs to really be satisfied is for someone to take one.  What has Bob really accomplished?  What is Janet really going to accomplish?

DISCUSSION:

Setting goals for yourself is not all that complicated.  There are no secrets.  You’ll probably never see a half hour on one of the cable channels dedicated to “The Secrets of Goal Setting.”  Nor will you find 25 CDs for three easy payments of $49.95 plus tax, talking about the wonders of this guaranteed sales closing technique called “Set Goals, Close ‘Em & Reap Millions!”

In the story, Bob readily admits to spending the better part of a week on creating, laying out and printing the brochures.  But does he ever ask himself, “Does this activity reach any of the goals I have set for myself?”

Sadly, the answer is “No.”  In fact, at best, Bob’s response would be nothing more than a repetition of what he told Janet.  “If the prospect doesn’t buy from me, then she will have something to remind her of me later on.”  If this truly were the goal of the brochure, might not a telephone call of two or three minutes length, a day or so after the first meeting, accomplish the same result?  And accomplish it in a much more efficient manner?

But Bob had no goal for the brochure.  His goal was to fill up a week of sales time with an activity that might somehow lead to sales sometime later down the road.  This he accomplished.

APPROACH:

You may have heard the old saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”  This is the situation with far too many sales people, which is allowed to happen by far too many sales managers.

If the salesperson does not have specific and measurable goals, then how can that person ever decide on what behavior to follow to reach those goals?  Since there are no goals, then any behavior will get him there.

Should you think you have goals, try this simple test.  Write down exactly what you think they are and what your performance responsibilities are.  Now ask your sales manager to write down what he feels are your goals and performance responsibilities.  Compare the two lists.  If you match 20% or less of the time, you have no specific, measurable, or agreed upon goals.

It’s time to set some goals and to formulate behavior that will help you reach those goals.

THOUGHT:

If you don’t know what the specific and measurable goal of the behavior is, then the behavior is unproductive and nothing more than a time filler.

About the author:

Shulman & Associates is a professional development firm specializing in sales and management training and sales force evaluation. Visit their website and sign up to receive the free sales tip of the week. Learn how to increase sales, improve margins, and accelerate new business development.

Three Keys to Handling Objections Effectively

Sales tip: find a way for the customer to be right. Kahle Wisdom

By Dave Kahle

It’s the moment that many sales people dread.  You’ve asked the customer to do something – give you an appointment, issue a P.O., or schedule a demonstration and, instead of saying “Yes,” the customer gives you a reason why he/she does not want to do what you’ve asked him or her to do.

During all the interaction before this, the customer and you have been on the same wavelength.  You’ve found something you have in common, and you’ve jointly uncovered and analyzed some pain.  Now, however, the nature of the interaction has changed.  From a cooperative, give and take atmosphere, a hint of conflict now appears.  You want him to do something, and he doesn’t want to do it.

It’s an objection.

What do you do?

Here are three keys to effectively handling the objection.

One:  Preparation.

Objections are a natural part of the sales cycle.  If you are going to talk to customers about your product and service, you are going to hear objections.

I know your product is terrific, and everyone should buy it.  But people and companies are different; they don’t always think like you do.  They may see the situation differently.  Rather than being stunned into quiet confusion by an objection, think it through and prepare for it beforehand.

After just a little experience with a product or service, you can anticipate the most common objections you are likely to hear.  Spending a few minutes thinking about and preparing for your most common objections will provide you with a great deal of confidence.

This isn’t as intimidating as it may seem.  A few moments spent thinking about the objection and how you will handle it can make a huge difference.  If you are prepared, you’ll find yourself being more confident, and actually looking forward to the objection.

Sit down in your office with a blank sheet of paper or a computer screen, and ask yourself, “If my prospect says this…, how should I respond?”  Create a short 3 – 5 item outline.  Then craft some powerful language that you may want to use, and finally think about what “proof” you can supply which supports your position.

With just a few moments of this kind of preparation, you’ll be ready for almost any objection you are likely to hear.

Two:  Attitude.

For many sales people, the natural reaction to an objection is either to argue, or to leave.  Neither confrontation nor flight is effective.  Rather, welcome the objection.  It means that your customer is working with you and respects you enough to tell you why he/she isn’t ready to do what you want them to do.  That’s a good thing.

“Overcoming objections” is a phrase that we’ve all seen frequently.  It helps encourage an attitude that I think is unhelpful.  I’d rather you think about handling, not overcoming.  Overcoming implies that you are going to struggle with the customer and eventually win.  In any struggle, there is a winner and loser.  So for you to overcome, your customer has to lose.  If you enter into this phase of the sales process with the attitude that you must struggle with the customer, that attitude will show itself.  Your customer will become defensive, and potentially harden his position – creating exactly the opposite impact than that which you want.

The opposite is also true.  If your attitude is open and collaborative, it will show as well.  Your attitude should be that you and the customer are in this together, seeking ways to agree, and that you welcome and accept the customer’s thoughts.  This creates sincere interest in you, and your customer responds with a softer attitude as well.

Three:  Implementation.

Your tactical response at the moment in which you react and respond to the customer is very important.  Those moments in which objections are exchanged are often tense moments, when saying or doing the wrong thing can blow the sale.  Treat the customer aggressively, say a couple of wrong words, appear unconfident – all these things can trigger a negative and harder reaction by the customer.  So attention to the details of techniques of implementation is important.

Here are a few suggestions regarding tactical implementation:

  • Always keep the other person’s ego in mind. Find a way for the customer to be right.
  • When in doubt, ask a question. It buys you time to think, gets the customer talking, and almost always provides new information for you.
  • Watch your language. Words like “yes, but…” signal that you differ from your customer, and put him/her on edge.

The list of specific tactics can go on and on, but you have the idea.  The few moments of interaction that surround an objection are often the most potent in the entire course of the sales process.

If you are going to catapult your sales performance to higher levels, focusing on effectively handling objections will take you part of the way.

Originally published on davekahle.com

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every salesperson at every level. To connect to the Sales Resource Center use this link:
http://www.thesalesresourcecenter.com

Is Your Sales System Clogged with Accumulated Gunk?

The quickest way to improve a sales team’s productivity is to improve their time management. - Dave Kahle

By Dave Kahle

Recently, one of the sales people with whom I was working volunteered that he often obtained demonstration samples by coming into the office, visiting the warehouse, opening a box of the product he wanted to sell, taking one out, and re-closing the box. When it comes to good time management for sales people practices, this was at the bottom of the list.

As you can imagine, this gave the warehouse manager fits.  However, there were more consequences to this practice than a furious warehouse manager.  This is an example of sales system GUNK!

What’s gunk?

Any practice that detracts from the sales person spending time with customers.  In other words, other things the outside sales people do instead of meeting with customers.

When we boil down the job of the typical outside sales person to its essence, it is clear that the one thing we want of them, the one place that they bring value to the organization, the one thing they do that is the essential reason we have them, is interact with the customers.  Everything else is a means to that end.

Most drainage pipes, over time, accumulate layers of gunk that clog up the system.  So, too, most sales systems, over time, accumulate layers of habit and practice that erode the time the sales person spends in front of the customer.

Here are some examples of sales system gunk.

In the example above…

not only did the sales person detract from the purity of the inventory, cause needless stress for the warehouse manager, and potentially short ship a customer, he also spent time doing something that took him out of his territory.

In a gunk-less sales system, the sales person would call or e-mail the person who was responsible for maintaining samples, and ask for the appropriate sample to be sent.  It should have taken two minutes to send an e-mail instead of an hour driving back and forth to the office.

Sales literature.

In a gunked-up system, the sales people drive into the office regularly and collect the literature they need from a variety of sources.

In a gunkless system, they maintain literature inventories in their cars or home offices, and regularly replace their inventory by e-mailed or faxed requests.

Emergency shipments.

I was recently scheduled to interview a number of sales people for one of my clients.  We had sessions scheduled every hour.  One of the sales people didn’t make the appointment.  The reason?  He had to drive home, change cars with his wife, use the larger car to drive to the warehouse, pick up an emergency shipment, and deliver it to a customer.

While on one hand we can applaud the sales person for taking care of the customer, on the other hand, we need to recognize that this practice is extremely costly gunk.

This whole episode probably took the better part of a half-day of the sales person’s time.  Not only was that an extremely expensive delivery, but the episode detracted from the sales person’s time and focus.

That’s several sales calls that were not made because the sales person was acting as the company’s highest paid delivery driver.  The company could have hired a limousine service to deliver the product in a stretch Lincoln for less.

In a gunkless sales system, an inside person expedites backorders and arranges for emergency shipments so that the sales people are free to concentrate on interacting with the customer.

Office time.

This is one of the largest contributors of sales system gunk, depositing large clumps of smelly sticky stuff whenever it occurs.

In a gunked-up system, sales people come into the office regularly.  Maybe they start every day there.  That time in the office is generally their least productive time.  There is coffee to be drunk, phone calls to take, mail boxes to empty, colleagues to talk with – all gunky practices that take up expensive selling time.

This is such a large issue, that I have even developed a law, similar in scope and dependability to Einstein’s law of relativity.  I call it Kahle’s Law of Office Time.  It states that,  “Whenever a sales person has 30 minutes of work to do at the office, it will always take two hours to do it.”

In a gunk-free system, sales people are not allowed in the office before 4:30 PM on Fridays.

The list of examples of gunk can go on and on.  But you have the idea.  Gunk is any habit or practice within your sales organization that detracts from the sales person spending time in front of the customers.

From my experience, gunk is inevitable, and often hardly visible.  Gunk habits develop with time and become part of the unwritten rules about how things are done in your organization.  Yet, they suck valuable time and energy out of your sales system.

One sure way to improve the productivity of your sales system is to clean out the gunk, freeing the sales people to spend their time and energy on the essence of their job and the activity that will bring you revenue – being in front of the customers.

Here are five steps to de-gunk your system.

  1. Identify the gunk. Have someone interview the sales people, asking them to recall a blow-by-blow description of how they spent their day or week.  Look for gunk.  Sometimes, gunk is so deeply ingrained in the sales force’s habits and routines that they don’t even recognize it.  So, it may work better to have someone spend a day with each sales person, making notes about all the gunk.  Make a list of all of the things that the sales people do that could be done better or cheaper by someone else.
  2. Work with a team of inside people and sales people to develop alternate ways of handling each of those activities.
  3. Create policies and written procedures. Job descriptions may have to change.
  4. Roll out the new procedures in a sales meeting. Start with the big picture.  Explain why you’re making these changes, and how it will help them and the company to be more productive.  Talk through some scenarios, answer their questions, and then chisel the new program in granite.
  5. Appoint someone to watch over the implementation of the changes. Remember, we’re talking about habits here, and habits are hard to change.  Someone needs to monitor the new program, reminding everyone involved of the new way to do things.

Once you’ve augered out the drainage pipes in your home, you can probably rest easy for a year or so.  So too with sales system gunk.  Once you’ve gone through this process and cleaned it up, you won’t need to revisit the issue for a while.

Rest easy, you’ve just made your sales system more productive.

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Copyright MMV
Originally published on davekahle.com

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every salesperson at every level. To connect to the Sales Resource Center use this link:
http://www.thesalesresourcecenter.com