Personal Development: Question and Answer

This is a Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

By Dave Kahle

Q. I’m one of those salespeople who hasn’t spent $20.00 this year on a book or seminar to improve myself.  I just don’t want to go to the trouble.  I believe that I can learn sufficiently on the job, and I’m tired of going to school.  Should I feel bad?

A.  Now that’s an honest question.  Should you feel bad?  My knee jerk reaction is to say, “of course.”

Aim HighBut, on further reflection, it depends on your approach to your job, and on your aspirations for yourself. First, a definition —  “mastery.”  You achieve “mastery” of any profession when you are in the top 5% of performers in that profession.  Pursuit of mastery is the continuous striving to achieve and then to remain in the top 5% of your profession.

I believe that every serious professional salesperson ought to strive for mastery.  If that applies to you, then you want to become as good as you can become. If you want the greater sense of fulfillment, the greater degree of respect, and the increase in economic status that mastery brings, then, yes, you should feel bad because you are not acting consistently with your aspiration.

I am highly suspect of the idea that you can learn all you need to know “on the job,” particularly in the profession of sales.  The world is full of experienced salespeople who don’t sell well, but think they do.  Somehow, they have not learned “on the job.”

There are a number of reasons for this.  Here is just one: Sales is an isolated job, with no clear standards of performance readily available to the sales person.  Let’s take one of my pet issues:  asking better questions.  Left to your own, how do you know that you did well in asking questions?  You could go merrily on your way, thinking you did an adequate job, when in fact you totally blew it.  How do you know?

That’s the issue.  Unless you get out into the greater community of sales people, and expose yourself to the best practices of your profession, you’ll never know.  Having no idea of what “best” looks like, you have no standard to which to compare yourself.  So, you naturally default to the behavior that is comfortable.

I hate to sound so harsh, but total reliance on “on the job” is most often an excuse that allows mediocrity and lack of accountability.

As a side note, this is why we have created behavioral assessments in The Sale Resource Center, so B2B and distributor sales people can compare themselves to the “best practices,” and create a development plan. We’re not talking about going to school here.  We’re talking about delivering sales development instruction over the internet.

So, from one perspective, I have to say, yes, you should feel bad. You have some wrong ideas.

But it is not an ideal world.  And, realistically, only about 20% of salespeople have such aspirations.  Most are content with the status quo.  Most just want to do their job, go home at the end of the day, and be done with it.  If that’s you, then I guess you are living a life consistent with your values, and that’s OK.

The difference is what you want for yourself and your family.  If you are perfectly content with your situation and your results, if you do not want anything that can be achieved by higher performance, if you don’t want to become something better than you are, then you are perfectly content, and contentment is the enemy of growth.  If you want to be or achieve something that you are not now, that discontentment should lead you to the realization that you must change if you are going to achieve something more. And that realization should stimulate you to invest more heavily in your own development.

I guess, if you are satisfied and content, and want nothing more, that’s OK.  I just don’t want you selling for me.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and seven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.  Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog.  For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

Image Credit: By Youth Hostel (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Best Practice #46: Plans for four aspects of every sales call

This is a Sales Best Practices article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

By Dave Kahle

You should have an objective for every sales call.” That’s a bit of sage wisdom that we have all heard, probably multiple times, throughout our sales careers. Unfortunately, I disagree.

I believe you should have four objectives for every sales call. Every sales call is an opportunity to accomplish these four things:

1. To connect with the customer more deeply and more intensely than ever before.

2. To learn about the customer in more depth and detail than previously.

3. To present something to the customer that he/she will likely think of value.

4. To gain some agreement on what happens next.

These four goals really reflect the four fundamental competencies of the best sales people. They are exceptional at connecting with the customer, learning about the customer, presenting to the customer and agreeing with the customer.

As a result, they accomplish far more in a sales call than their less disciplined colleagues. Each more effective sales call ads to the total, and they become super stars as a result of excellent execution of each sales call, one after the other.

Every sales call is an opportunity to practice your craft, to improve upon your skills in these foundational areas. As you focus on achieving the four goals of every sales call, you naturally become more and more adept at them, until you achieve excellence. Excellence expresses itself in great sales calls.

I have two rules for planning a sales call: 1) You must plan to do all four things, and 2) You must plan to do each as well as you can, given the constraints of time and the situation.

Visualize a sales call as being organized like a dart target. Imagine the dart sphere being divided into four quarters – each representing one of the four fundamental goals of a sales call. Then, imagine the rings – large on the periphery of the target, but increasingly smaller until they end in a tiny bull’s eye in the middle.

You understand that you have four darts to throw, and each dart that sticks closer to the bull’s eye scores more than those on the outskirts of the target.

So it is with a sales call. You have four goals, and you can achieve each with various degrees of proficiency – i.e. closer to the bull’s eye. For example, you can connect with the customer when you both acknowledge how miserable the weather is outside. On the dart target, that’s the very outer ring of the target, where it doesn’t count very much, if anything. On the other hand, you can share some deep common bond that you discover. That’s a dart that sticks much closer to the bull’s eye.

You see then, that each sales call is an opportunity to accomplish four objectives, and to accomplish each as deeply as possible.

The best understand the power of a sales call, and plan to wring the greatest value they can out of every sales call. This is a way to do it.

To learn more about this best practice, consider my one-hour training seminar: Best Of Dave #1: Target Sales Calls. If you are subscriber to The Sales Resource Center, consider course C-2, The Kahle Way® B2B Selling System, or Pod #1: Target Laser Sharp Sales Calls..

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and seven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.  Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog.  For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

The Three Biggest Mistakes in Sales Presentations

This is a Sales Best Practices article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

By Dave Kahle

sales presentation tips 1-2-3 The sales presentation is the ultimate purpose of every sales process, of every sales call, and of every sales system.  The job of the sales person revolves around the point in time when he offers the customer something to buy.

The sales presentation can take a variety of forms.  If you demonstrate a product, for example, that is a sales presentation.  If you use a hard-copy brochure or a CD Rom presentation on your laptop, that is a sales presentation.  If you deliver and detail a sample, that is a sales presentation. If you respond to the customer’s request, and provide a price, deliver a proposal, or submit a bid, each of these are sales presentations.

Without the sales presentation, there can be no sale.  It is, then, the foundational step in the sales process.  Everything that happens before is in preparation for the presentation, and everything that happens afterward is a result of the presentation.

You would think, then, that every sales person is extremely well-trained in the science of making an effective sales presentation.

Alas, that is not the case.  Left to learn on their own, many sales people make the same mistakes over and over again.  Here are the three most commonly made sales presentation mistakes.

1.  Lack of preparation.

In my very first sales position, I had to endure six weeks of  sales training.  In those six weeks, the entire training class had to memorize two four-page sales presentations, and give them to the training class.  We were videoed and critiqued, over and over, for the six weeks.  At the end of that time we were thoroughly prepared to give that sales presentation.

Now that may have been a bit of an overkill, but the point remains:  Preparation is the first step towards an effective sales presentation.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you memorize the presentation.  But it does mean that you organize it, that you secure and check your collateral (the sample, brochures, price quotes, etc. that form the basis of what you are selling), and that you practice the presentation several times until you are comfortable with it and confident in your ability to deliver it.

Unfortunately, preparation is a discipline that seems to be fading from the routines of many sales people.  The world is full of sales people who either have little respect for their customer’s time, no particular interest in doing their jobs well, or an over-inflated view of their own ad-libbing abilities.  Any of these produces the sense that they don’t need to prepare, that on the spur of the moment, they will come up with the most persuasive things to say, in the most effective manner.

That’s too bad.  Preparation is the first step toward a better sales presentation, and lack of preparation is endemic in the world of sales.

2.  Information purging.

This occurs when a sales person thinks his/her job is to relate everything he/she knows about the product, service or proposal.

I was deeply into a training program wherein we work with six sales people every day for a week.  Sales people role-played various situations, we videoed them, critiqued them, and had them role play again, only better.

We were methodically working through the sales process, and it was time to make the sales presentation.  The class was taught to organize the presentation on the basis of what they learned about the customer in the previous “find out what they want” role play.

One particular sales person never got that message.  He thought a sales presentation was like an oral exam in school.  It was his opportunity to spill everything he knew about the product.  What should have been a 20 minute presentation dragged on and on for 45 minutes.  Even though it was a role play in front of the class, even though it was being video recorded, the person playing the customer began to fall asleep.  The hapless sales person continued on, purging himself of every bit and morsel of related information.  I had to finally step in and put an end to the tedium.

While that may have been a dramatic example of this mistake, it occurs in smaller ways thousands of times a day.  It occurs when sales people feel the need to tell the customer everything they know about the product or service they are presenting, whether the customer cares or is interested in that feature or not.

The problem is greater than just “too much information.” Sales people who do this disrespect the customer, as they don’t take the customer’s interests and requirements into account in the presentation.

As a result, customers are turned off and tuned out, and sales people leave shaking their heads, unable to fathom why the customer didn’t buy all the incredible features of his sales presentation.

3.  Failure to include the customer in the presentation.

This occurs when the sales person thinks that the presentation is all about his product, service or proposal.  The truth is that effective sales presentations are always about two things: the offer, and how it can impact the customer.

When sales people simply talk about their offer, and ignore the second half of the equation, they make one of the most common mistakes.

Customers are far more interested in how the thing being presented impacts them, than they are in the details of the offer.

The sales person may be impressed with all the neat details and features, but that reflects his/her values, not necessarily those of the customer.

The best sales presentations describe the salient features of the offer, and then relate them to how they impact the customer.  Remember “features and benefits”?

This third most common mistake occurs when sales people emphasize the features, and forget the benefits.

If you are guilty of any of these mistakes, or, as a manager, if your sales force is guilty of them, their sales presentations are not as effective as they could be.  You are leaving money on the table.  Fix these mistakes, and watch your sales rise.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and seven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.  Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog.  For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

Cloud CRM Vendors – Not For Beginners

Cloud CRM Applications
The hype about cloud computing is all around us from television commercials, to businesses to college campuses and for good reason. Cloud computing has shown to provide exceptional value to businesses both large and small enabling them to scale their business and computer resources quickly with minimal upfront investment. In the Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) sector, CRM software providers are including “cloud computing” in their marketing materials and product presentations, but there are some false claims about some of the vendor’s cloud environments and multi-tenant architectures. This is because cloud computing is evolving and there is little consistency with regard to its definition or its meaning among consumers.

Cloud computing is all about providing shared configurable computer resources such as servers, applications, storage and other computer related services. Similar to application software hosting, cloud computing is a service, but with several very important differences. Cloud computing enables a customer to scale their computing requirements upward and downward often without vendor intervention, share virtual resources in a multi-tenant environment, access data anytime and anywhere via a PC, tablet or mobile device and pay only for the computer processing and resources utilized. Unlike a hosting service tied to a specific server or servers, with cloud computing the access to computer resources can in effect be limitless.

Providing application software that performs properly in a cloud computing environment is not for the faint hearted. It starts with the selection of a world class cloud computing service, offered by several companies including RackSpace and Amazon.com as examples. This is coupled with CRM software that has been designed for a multi-tenant architecture and can perform well under high transaction volumes. Many CRM vendors have struggled with delivering reliable and scalable software solutions in a hosted environment and simply do not have the experience to migrate their solutions to the cloud. As a result many customers have experienced poor performance and downtime. The way to avoid this is to select an established proven CRM software provider that has the experience and track record for delivering their customer management software in the cloud.

Companies like Commence Corporation have been delivering software as a service or (SaaS) based solutions for several years. Commence began as a hosting service and has evolved into a true cloud based computing offering that offers the scalability, resource pooling, reliability and performance you would expect from a top rated CRM software provider.

For more information about Commence CRM and the Commence cloud services, call one of our experts at 1-877-266-6362 or visit the company’s web site at www.commence.com.

Image Credit: by Bpgriner at en.wikipedia source Wikimedia Creative Commons