Sales Best Practice #16 – Has cultivated a unique personal presence

A best practice for salespeople by Dave Kahle.

Stand Out From The Crowd by Master isolated images ID-100219515

There is something about a superstar sales person. They radiate confidence and make an impression that you notice and remember.

That’s because they understand, and implement, this best practice. They intentionally and thoughtfully cultivate a unique personal presence. They understand that they will be more effective if their customers remember them positively, and so they work to stand out in the customer’s mind.

What makes this best practice so interesting is that it arises out of the unique combination of strengths and experiences of each individual sales person. It requires that each sales person look at himself/herself with an objective eye and to identify those portions of himself that can be accentuated to build a powerful personal presence.

For example, I inherited my mother’s DNA as it related to the color of my hair. It turned pure white a number of years ago. So, I decided to build on that, and wear it longer than may be fashionable. It’s OK, it is part of my personal image. Here’s another piece. Because I travel so much, I make packing a personal challenge. I can easily pack couple of week’s worth of clothes into a carry on. Wearing silk T-shirts instead of starched dress shirts and ties saves a lot of room in your suitcase. Since I discovered that a few years ago, I’ve gone to wearing nothing but them. Now, it’s part of my unique personal presence.

While this example speaks to your physical appearance, there are other elements to your unique personal presence. For example, some sales people make it a point to bring an article that may impact the customer to every sales call. Others always have a set of well thought-out questions to lead and direct the conversation. Those who have the gift of being able to regularly and predictably make people laugh have cultivated that skill.

That’s the kind of thing we’re talking about here. Using your unique combination of attributes and experiences to forge a personal presence that is positive and memorable – that makes you stand out in the customer’s mind.

That’s what the best do. That’s why it’s a practice of the best.

To learn more about of this best practice, review Pod #14: Differentiating Yourself from the Competition in The Sales Resource Center®.

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. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level.

You may contact Dave at The DaCo Corporation, PO Box 523, Comstock Park, MI 49321, or dave@davekahle.com

Copyright MMXIV by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sales Performance Tips – Astute Planner

(Excerpted from Chapter Four from Take Your Sales Performance Up-a-Notch)

 By Dave Kahle

Here’s one of the foundational principles for sales success: You’ll always be more effective if you think about what you do before you do it.

Can you imagine a football team not creating a game plan or not practicing before the big game?  Can you imagine a musician not preparing a piece of music before the recital?  Can you imagine a politician not practicing the big speech?  Or a doctor not reviewing the x-rays and the procedure prior to a major surgery?  Or a lawyer barging into a case without having planned it?  The answer to all these questions is, “Of course not.”  In every event of any importance at all, professional, effective human beings plan and prepare beforehand.  It’s an essential step toward success.
Business Plan concept by bplanet ID-10084821

The same is true for sales people.  If we think about what we do before we do it, providing we think about it in the right way, we’ll significantly improve our performance.  Unfortunately, many sales people are often guilty of the same mindset that provided this speaker an excuse for his lack of concern and preparation.  Our intuition and incredible spur-of-the-moment, ad-lib skills will get us by.  WRONG!

You have a great treasury of wisdom and insight that you’ve acquired through a rich set of life experiences.  Much of that wisdom and insight can be directly applied to your sales job, if you will only tap into it and use it.  Of course you’ll be able to tap into some of that accumulated expertise on the spur of the moment, but you’ll be far more effective if you take the time to tap into it before you get into the situation.

If you’re going to be effective with this hat, you’ll think about what you do before you do it – you’ll think about every telephone call, every sales call, every customer, every presentation, every interaction with your customers and prospects.  Yet it’s not enough to think about what you do before you do it, you must also think about things in the right way.

Good planning is a matter of asking yourself the right questions, and then answering them with detail and precision.

An amazing thing happens when you ask yourself questions – you think of the answers!  What sounds so elementary is really a powerful key to unlocking your success.  When you ask yourself a good question you stimulate your thinking.   For example, you could ask yourself, “What are the three most effective things I could do to improve my sales performance?”  That question would prompt you to analyze your performance, develop some possible changes in your behavior, and then select three that appear to be the highest priority.  That’s a very worthwhile set of thoughts.  And they were prompted by the question you asked yourself.

While this is just one example, the principle is incredibly powerful.  Learn to ask yourself good questions, and you’ll think more effectively.

It follows, then, that if you want to think well, you need to ask yourself the best questions.  For example, you could ask yourself the question, “What are all the things that the customer will not like about me in this upcoming sales call?”  Ask that question, and your mind will dredge up all the flaws and faults you’ve filed away in your memory.  That’s probably not the most effective way to prepare for a sales call.  After thinking about that question, you’re liable to be depressed and discouraged.  Rather, you could ask yourself the question, “What are two or three things I could find out about the customer that would uncover things we have in common?”  Think about the answer to that question, and your mind will dwell on your customer, not yourself, and focus on finding common ground in order to build a relationship.  Which of those two questions will be the better one for you to ask yourself prior to a sales call?

The answer is obvious.  But the point is this – if you’re going to adequately prepare and plan for your sales interchanges, you need to ask yourself the right questions.  When you ask yourself the right questions, you think in the most effective way.

In order to implement this principle, you’ll need to master two basic processes.  Each of these processes is really a series of questions, asked in a certain sequence.  Master these two processes, and you’ll master the first hat, Astute Planner.  You’ll gain a competency that will serve you well the rest of your working life.

The Processes

To implement this principle and acquire the power of the first hat, you’ll need to master two processes: The prioritization process, and the planning process.

The prioritization process is used to help you make good decisions about where to spend your time, about what to plan.  There is just not enough time in the day for you to plan everything.  So, you must first prioritize those things that are important enough to plan.  You then follow that up with the planning processes.  You’ll find that you use the two together.

Few sales people have been taught exactly how to plan for their sales success. We can help.  Review our selection of on-line courses dedicated to helping you plan more effectively.  Here.

Reach the expanded version of this article for an explanation of the prioritization process.

This article is available in an expanded version.  Click here.

The Planning Process

The planning process is a matter of asking a set of seven questions of yourself, asking them in the right sequence, and then answering them in writing.  The resulting written answers become your plan.  You can use this process to plan anything worth planning – your territory, your approach to key accounts, each sales call, your month, your week, etc.

Here is each step and the seven questions to ask.

Step One.  Start with a goal.  Ask, “What’s the objective?”

Always, the first step in the creation of a plan is the identification of the purpose of the plan.  If there is no purpose, why have a plan?  The purpose of the plan is your objective.  Regardless of what aspect of your business you’re working on – planning a sales call, developing a strategy for a key account, organizing your territory, creating a plan for a new product line – you must begin with an answer to this question.

In order to illustrate each of the steps of this process, we’ll identify a situation and then work through it step by step.  Let’s begin by setting a personal, financial goal.  While sales is a fulfilling, challenging career, most of us wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t get paid.  To some extent, our sales success is a means to an end, not an end in itself.  And that end is our financial rewards.  So, let’s focus on your personal financial goals.  Let’s say you’re going to select an objective with which to begin the planning process, and that objective is, “To make $75,000 in the next calendar year.”

Step Two.  Assess the situation.  Ask, “What’s the situation?”

This step requires you to describe, as accurately as possible, the current situation as it relates to the area about which you’re thinking.

Let’s consider our objective from above.  You’ve decided you want to make $75,000 next year.  So, you describe the salient aspects of your current financial situation like this:

You have a salary of $50,000.  You’re paid a commission of ten percent of all sales above your quota.  Last year you had a quota of $750,000 and just made it.  This year your quota is $850,000.  To achieve your goal, you’ll need to do considerably better than last year.

You’ve just described your situation.

Step Three.  Identify the obstacles.  Ask, “What will hinder me from achieving the goal?

Identifying obstacles is a powerful step in the planning process.  This step alone will give you incredible confidence and positive power to achieve your goal.  As always, you just think the question in as much detail and precision as possible.  The resulting answers to the question form the next step in the planning process.

In the example, let’s say that you have identified these obstacles:

  • Only three of your current accounts are growing.
  • Two new competitors are active in your territory.
  • There are a lot of changes going on in your market.

Step Four.  Identify your strengths and your resources.  Ask “What do I have available to me that I can use to accomplish my goal?”

Soberly consider your strengths and your resources.  What do you have on your side?  Do you have some personal skills that you can apply?  Has your company provided you some helpful tools, strategies, or competitive advantages?  Is there something working in your favor?

In our example, let’s say that you may have a hot new product line, a commitment on the part of your credit department to loosen the rules a bit and speed up the credit-approval process, and you have your boss’s verbal assurances that she’ll do everything in her power to help you penetrate those large accounts.

The quickest way to improved sales performance is to become more effective at planning and time management.  Dave’s classic book, Eleven Secrets of Time Management for Sales People, teaches you exactly how to master this incredible skill.

Step Five. Create an overall plan. Ask, “How am I going to accomplish my objective?”

          This is the heart of the process.  Now, you must consider the best way to reach your goal, taking into consideration the current state of affairs, the obstacles you must face, and your strengths and assets.

In our example, let’s say you write the following plan.

1.   Focus my time on high-potential accounts, expanding the business in “A” accounts by 50%.

a.   Get the boss to negotiate with the corporate office for some favorable terms and concessions.

b.   Push the new product line aggressively.

2.   Acquire five new accounts.

a.   Use the new product line as a door opener.

b.   Get the credit department to approve some of the formerly marginal customers who may be having a difficult time buying from my competitor.

Step Six. Identify the materials and tools you’ll need. Ask, “What will I need?”

In this step, identify all the tools and materials you’ll need.  In our example, for instance, you might say that you need:

1.  Some forms to help identify the highest potential accounts.

2.  A list of high-potential prospects.

3.  All the usual sales aids.

4.  A bunch of new credit apps

5.  Some literature and samples of the new line.

Step Seven.  Create a detailed action plan.  Ask “Specifically, what steps should I take?”

This requires you to think very specifically, and to create a to-do list that precisely identifies each of the steps you’ll need to follow, to put them in sequence, and to assign a deadline completion date to each.

In our example, we’ve arrived at a skeleton plan for the first half of our overall plan.  Although the final plan would be more detailed than this, the example below is designed to simply illustrate the process:

1.       Focus my time on high-potential accounts, expanding the business in “A” accounts by 50%

a.    Identify who those are.

1)  Collect some good information using an account profile form.  Jan.15

2)  Discuss the results with the boss.  Feb. 3. 

3)  Agree on the top 20%  Feb. 1

b. Get the boss to negotiate with corporate for some favorable terms and concessions.   Feb 15

c. Push the new product line aggressively.

1)  Make appointments to collect info in each of them.  Feb 15

2)  Have initial presentations made in each.   March 15

3)  Push forward on demonstrations /evaluations as appropriate.

When you’ve finished this simple seven-step planning process, you will have created the best plan you’re capable of developing.  You now have in place a specific strategy for accomplishing your goal, along with a checklist of tasks and dates by which to measure your progress.  You created that plan by following the seven-step planning process, asking yourself the questions and answering them in writing.  The planning process will work for any aspect of your job.  Discipline yourself to use this process, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master of this powerful skill.

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. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level.

You may contact Dave at The DaCo Corporation, PO Box 523, Comstock Park, MI 49321, or dave@davekahle.com

Copyright MMX by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

Image courtesy of bplanet / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

CRM for Sales Automation No Substitute for Good Sales Management

As an executive you are angry and frustrated with the performance of your sales team. Sales are stagnated, leads do not end in closure and every month is a repeat of the month before. Something has to change. You start thinking that maybe you need to shake up the staff or get a CRM system so that the team can get organized and close more business. My advice. Don’t do it, at least not yet.

Businessman Showing Magic by digitalart ID-10053224

When it comes to the above you are not alone, but the answer is not a CRM system. Why? Because you have bigger challenges in front of you. CRM is a tool and yes in the proper environment it can help your team get organized and keep on top of new business opportunities, but that’s not why you are suffering.

CRM software is not a replacement for good sales management. If you are getting fewer leads, not closing business and have a frustrated sales team chances are you are not targeting the right prospects, have the right message or do not understand why the competition has a more compelling offer. CRM software won’t fix this, but good sales leadership and management will. If you do not have an experienced sales executive leading your team go get one, then take the time to answer the following questions.

  • What customers do we serve better than anyone else?
  • What are these customers competing alternatives?
  • What services do we provide to this segment better than anyone else?
  • How are we going to get this message out to the market?
  • How are we going to turn all of this into new sales?

Once you have the answers a quality CRM product with value added services such as best practices for sales, marketing and customer service can be the right tool to take your business to the next level.

About the author

Larry Caretsky is the president of Commence Corporation, a leading provider of CRM software and best business practices for improving sales, marketing and customer service. Caretsky is considered an expert in sales automation and has written numerous articles on the subject of CRM. These may be viewed on the company’s web site at www.commence.com.

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net