Just a Half Hour of Your Time

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

Sandler Sales Tip: Badgering a prospect for a meeting rarely ends well. | Sandler.Shulman.com

The STORY:

Oh God, thought Maria, holding the phone at arm’s length, it’s another one of those obnoxious salespeople.  Don’t they know what “no” means?

“Look… Tim, isn’t it?” she asked.  “I already have one here, and we’re happy with the way it works.  Really, it would waste your time to come by.”

“I understand Maria, but I’ll be in the area next Thursday at an account two blocks over.  Just give me a half hour.  That’s all I’m asking.  You don’t even have to buy it.  I’ll just show it to you.  A short 30 minutes.”

Maria and Tim went back and forth for another five minutes, and finally Maria gave up.

“Okay, you win.  Next Thursday at one o’clock.”

“Great.  See you then.”

As she put the phone down, she wondered if it would be worth taking a long lunch next Thursday.  Then she remembered the last time she had done that with one of them-the guy had hung around until she came back.

The following Thursday, right on the dot of one o’clock, in came Tim, trundling his product on a four-wheel cart.

“Hi,” he said, “you must be Maria.  You’re in charge, right?”

Maria didn’t even try to hide the fact that her eyes rolled.  “No, I’m not.  Show me what you have.  You’ve got 30 minutes.”

“In 30 minutes you’ll see why you can’t function without this little gem.  Trust me.”

Sure, thought Maria, just like they all say.

And 30 minutes later she said, “Thanks for stopping by Tim; if we ever need these really impressive features, I’ll call this number on your card.  Right?”

Well, thought Tim as he carefully backed his cart down the stairs, she did promise to call me when they want to move up.  This is better than sitting in the office making phone calls.

The RESULT:

The first result is no sale.  The second result is that you wasted your time and the prospect’s time.  The third result is that you now have a prospect whose memory of you is that you wasted her time.  The last result is probably the worst since you will have little to no chance of ever getting back in front of that prospect with any product.  Is this a way to sell?

DISCUSSION:

Badgering a prospect for an appointment only reinforces in the prospect’s mind that you are just another one of those “pain-in-the-butt” salespeople.  This will happen even if you get the appointment.

Now consider this situation from the prospect’s point of view.  She was forced into a situation where she had to give up.  No one likes to lose.  Second, her commitment to keeping the appointment with you was shaky at best.  Any excuse to cancel the appointment will be happily used.  Perhaps you won’t find out it has been cancelled until you show up for it.  Suddenly she is “unavailable” and has asked you call her later in the week.

But let’s assume she keeps the appointment.  Her attitude during the half-hour will be one of “let’s get this over with” and/or “I’ve got nothing better to do.”  In other words, she certainly does not perceive your meeting as a time to conduct business.

Will you make the sale?  Perhaps out of a hundred forced appointments, you will make one or two sales.  Is it worth it in time and commissions to operate like this?

APPROACH:

Never beg for an appointment.  Never force someone to make an appointment.  Rather it would have been so much simpler for Tim to have asked, “Doesn’t sound like we will ever do business regarding (fill-in the product/service).  Is that fair to say?”  If the answer were “yes,” he would now be in the position to ask two things.  “Should I ever have another (fill-in product/service), may I call to see if you have any interest in that?”  He would be leaving the door open with the prospect to do future business.  If the answer were “no,” then he could accept it and move on.

The second thing he would ask, regardless of the answer to the previous question, is, “Who else do you know that might have an interest in (fill-in product/service)?”  He might be told no one, but possibly he would be given a warm referral.  Now he could call someone with a reference.  It may not be much, but it would be infinitely better than cold calling.

THOUGHT:

Begging a prospect for an appointment, when you both know it won’t go anywhere, not only wastes both your time and hers, but also leaves the prospect, should you ever call again, remembering that you wasted her time once before.

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.

All customer contact must go through me

Ideas that hinder sales performance:  All customer contact must go through me

A sales person is not a 'go-fer' for the customers. | DaveKahle.com

by Dave Kahle

It’s a common mindset. The field sales person wants every communication with the customer to go through him/her. In other words, instead of calling customer service with a problem, the customers are instructed to call the sales person first. Instead of calling technical service for a repair issue, call the sales person. Need a price? Don’t call inside sales, call the sales person.

It’s easy to see why so many sales people adhere to this idea. It makes them feel important – look at all the phone calls they receive. It puts them into more regular contact with the customer, hopefully providing opportunity for enriching the relationship. And, since the sales person is, in effect, providing some service to the customer, the sales person believes that he is bringing value to the customer, and that the customer will come to rely on the sales person.

At one level, all of that sounds good. However, that idea costs both the company and the sales person dearly, and frustrates the customers. It is an insidious hindrance to sales performance.

Here’s why. First, it fills the sales person’s day with needless administrative tasks that can be done better and cheaper by someone else inside the company. Here’s an example. The customer received ten line items on their last shipment, and one of them is not the item they ordered. In the “everything most go through me” scenario, the customer calls the sales person, who interrupts a visit with another customer to take the call. He tells the customer he’ll get back to him. Then he calls customer service and makes arrangements to handle the problem. Next he calls the customer, and gets his voice mail. The sales person leaves a message for the customer to call him. The customer does, but, alas, gets the sales person’s voice mail. The cycle repeats until live contact is made, and the sales person conveys the message.

The net impact is to increase the frustration on the part of the customer, to add costs to the selling company, and to weigh the sales person down with needless tasks. This kind of thing happens multiple times every day.

Look how much time the sales person wasted. He really didn’t need to be a part of any of this. If the customer would have called customer service directly, the problem would have been handled immediately – saving the customer and the sales person lots of time. The customer service rep is far better (and cheaper) at responding to service issues than is the sales person.

The culmination of hundreds of these kinds of scenarios, played over time, combine into a huge cost to the company. Not only is the selling company using an expensive asset (the sales person’s time) to accomplish a task that is more efficiently done by a less expensive asset (the customer service rep), but the opportunity costs are even larger. While the sales person was spending his time on the phone in this needless set of tasks, he wasn’t calling on another customer. In other words, the sales person made the choice to involve himself in this administrative clutter rather than use the time to sell something. Add those costs up, and the numbers will keep you awake at night.

But an even more insidious effect has to do with the message you are sending to the customer. What is the implication of “call me for everything” on the customer? He perceives that there are no competent people working for your company other than the sales person. Why else would you need to call him first? There must not be any infrastructure to take care of customers — no systems to handle these kinds of issues.

If the only person you can talk to is the sales person, then there must not be much of a company supporting him. Why would you want to do business with a company like that?

The real culprit in this very common situation is the errant mindset of the sales person relative to how he/she sees his job. It’s the fundamental answer to this question: “How does a sales person do his job?”

The world is full of distributor sales people who think the answer is to become a mobile customer service rep. Their job, so they believe, is to be a super-responsive “go-fer” for the customer — have every communication come through the sales person, respond to every whim of the customer, solve every problem.

This “mobile-customer-service-rep syndrome” lives at a deeper level in the sales person psyche and in the culture of the company that employs him. In our Top Gun Seminars for Distributor Salespeople, we identify it as the entry-level sales mindset, but one from which most sales people never progress.

This approach, of course, fills the sales person’s day with “stuff”, and makes him feel busy and important. Unfortunately, it leaves little time for the nuts and bolts of selling – proactively uncovering the customer’s deeper needs, presenting products, services and programs that help him grow his business and do his job better.

The symptoms of this syndrome pop up all over the place. Sales people who make sales calls with nothing to sell. Sales people who rarely make cold calls on prospects they don’t know. Sales people who spend their days on the cell phone, making needless calls for things that rightly should be done by others.

As long as the sales person is burdened by the mobile customer service rep mentality, and as long as the company’s culture supports that mindset, the sales people will never grow to reach their potential, and the company will be forever burdened by the costs of ineffective sales efforts.

Copyright MMIX
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. For more insight, register for the Kahle Way Sales Management System seminar (November 30 – December 1, 2017). Learn a profoundly simple and practical sales management system proven to increase sales productivity and accelerate your growth. For more information use this link:

http://davekahle.com/wordpressblogs/the-kahle-way-sales-management-system-seminar/

Time to Replace That Expensive Over Bloated CRM Solution

Time to replace that expensive over bloated crm solution

Years ago, Salesforce.com ran relentless campaigns against several companies claiming that you don’t need a high priced over bloated CRM solution to manage your business. Because it was cloud-based, customers did not have to deal with hardware and software implementations, therefore, reducing the cost of the overall implementation. It worked and Salesforce became a household name. Now several years later customers have discovered just how expensive and cumbersome this product is to use and are seeking a replacement. The good news is that many more vendors have entered the sector with competitive products that are less expensive and offer comparable functionality.

One of these companies is Commence Corporation.  While not yet a household name Commence was recently listed by the Gartner Group’s Capterra evaluation team as one of the top 20 most popular products for small to mid-size businesses and Commence was included in a Forbes report of great CRMs you probably never heard of. The company has been in the CRM sector for several years and is gaining popularity for the quality of the product, coupled with friendly customer service – something Salesforce.com is not known for.

Commence CRM is targeted at companies that need more functionality and flexibility than that offered by lower cost CRM solutions, but not the high cost and cumbersome nature of enterprise level solutions. In addition to contact and account management, sales and lead management, Commence CRM offer a marketing application, a customer service or help desk solution, a document library, a web-based customer portal, and a fully integrated project management application.  The product is modular in design so customers can select only the applications they require for their business. Full integration is provided with MS Outlook and mobile is included with each product edition. Simply stated, Commence CRM is a comprehensive solution at an attractive price.

If you are looking for a feature-rich CRM solution that is affordable, easy to use and offers best in class customer service take a look at Commence CRM.  For more information visit www.commence.com or call Commence Sales at 877-COMMENCE.

3 Ways to Encourage Dealers to Sell your Product

This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.

Q: How do I devise a program from the manufacturer to encourage our dealers to push their sales forces to sell our product instead of some other product, motivate the salesperson to quote our product more frequently in overlapping situations, and appeal to retail users that are taking bids from outside competitors not represented by our distributor?

3 Ways to Motivate Dealers to Sell More | DaveKahle.com

One problem we continually face is this we have been historically more generous with programs to our distributors but find that it gets put into their gross profit and doesn’t get to the retail end, and we are either not competitive, or not price advantaged. It seems that our distributor network expects it now and doesn’t take it as a bonus. Your thoughts, please?

By Dave Kahle

A: I think too many of us operate on the assumption that money is the only motivator, whether it is for an employee sales force, or a group of dealer or distributor salespeople. I’m coming to appreciate more and more the power of other kinds of motivators.

Let’s start there. Don’t assume that more money in the deal is going to get you the results you want.

What else can you do? The best thing, of course is to have a product that uniquely solves some of the end users’ problems, so that you and your dealers are selling a unique solution. While that may be the ideal, it’s very rarely the real situation, and most products have competitors which, at least in the mind of some customers, are thought of as equal.

Let’s assume that’s your case. Now what?

There are three ways to influence a dealer/distributor sales force to become more active with your product line: relationships, education, and “easy, secure money.”

Let me deal with each:

#1 Relationships

Think of the dealer/distributor reps as customers. Work at creating close business relationships with the good dealer/distributor reps in the same way that you would with end user customers. Focus on the good ones and spend little time with the mediocre. With the higher quality reps, discover their interests, uncover their values, find things you have in common, get to know their spouses and families, spend non-business time with them, etc. As you build strong relationships with them, you’ll find your dealer/distributor reps naturally becoming more involved with your product lines.

#2 Education

Focus on the concept of “comfort zones.” Most dealer/distributor reps have a virtually unlimited number of products that they can promote. Most eventually settle on those products and applications with which they feel most comfortable – they develop product/customer/application comfort zones. If your product or application doesn’t fit into a specific rep’s comfort zone, he/she is going to spend little time with it. So, you must get to know your good distributor reps (see the above) and then you must help them expand their comfort zones to include your products and applications. That means that you must lead the way, showing them how to find the opportunities, how to specify and present your product lines, and how to close and services those sales. Until the distributor rep is comfortable with your products and sales processes, you’ll be swimming upstream.

#3 “Easy, secure money”

Yep, money is still important. But notice the emphasis on the first two words. Easy means that you make it as easy as possible to deal with you, to sell your product. You have the best-selling literature, a generous sample policy, the quickest and most responsive inside people to respond to the dealer’s questions and requests, the simplest price list, the easiest policies and procedures in each of these issues. When your company is easy to deal with and when your product is easy to sell, you’ll find more and more support for it among the dealers and distributors.

“Secure” means that you provide some security for the sales person who decides to spend time promoting your product. You protect that investment of time by making sure that none of his competitors can come into an account and low bid it, after the salesperson has done the work to get your product trialed and accepted. If a dealer rep, invests in selling your product, and experiences a competitor who did, nothing to sell it, come in and steal the business out from underneath him, just once, you will likely lose that rep’s loyalties forever.

Hope these three strategies will help.

Originally published on davekahle.com

Copyright (MMXII)

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.  For more insight, register for the Kahle Way Sales Management System seminar (November 30 – December 1, 2017). Learn a profoundly simple and practical sales management system proven to increase sales productivity and accelerate your growth. For more information use this link:

http://davekahle.com/wordpressblogs/the-kahle-way-sales-management-system-seminar/

Meet With an Agenda

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

The STORY:

“Well,” said Mike, the regional sales director, “I’d like to start the meeting since we’re already running 15 minutes late.  But I think we’ll wait another 10 minutes or so to see if anyone else makes it.”

The chatter of conversation around the room almost drowned out what Mike said.

“Mike,” asked Bill, sitting in the back, “what was that you said?  I missed it.”  Before Mike could respond, Bill looked to his right and nodded at Sarah.  “Hey, I have to thank you for that suggestion yesterday.  It worked out.”

“Bill,” yelled Mike across the room, “we’ll start the meeting in about 10 minutes.”

“Sure.  OK.  Say Sarah, I had this idea…”

Mike walked out to where his secretary, Janet, was sitting and asked, “Everyone knew what time this started, right?”

“Sure thing, Mike.  Sent the notices and left messages for everyone a week ago, and yesterday I called and left another message for everyone.”

“OK.  Just checking.”

As he walked back into the room, Janet remembered that five salespeople had asked what the meeting was about, and she couldn’t tell them.

“Oh,” said one, “another Mike no-meeting.  Don’t tell him, but I’ll just skip it.  I only need to speak to Wild Man Bill about something.  I’ll call him and ask what I missed besides coffee and donuts.”

As Mike resumed his position at the front of the room, he decided that the next meeting would start on time no matter what.  Might as well start this one.

After about four minutes getting everyone’s attention, Mike was about to start when Janet walked in.

Her eyes met Mike’s, and he just threw up his hands.  “Bill,” she said, “That prospect you talked to yesterday is on the phone.  Do you want to take it?”

“Sure,” said Bill, getting up, “someone take notes for me while I’m closing this guy.”  And out the door went Bill.

The RESULT:

Based on how the meeting was starting, there probably was no purpose to the meeting.  Meetings that are called for no purpose turn into social gatherings.  While nice, most social gatherings don’t get any business accomplished.  People who hold meetings without agendas should expect nothing more.

DISCUSSION:

Unless you are a rare individual working in a rare company, no one likes to attend meetings.  Most meetings begin as a social get-together.  Everyone leaves having only accomplished the wasting of time and social stroking.

If the agenda of the meeting was social stroking, then the meeting was a success.  However, that usually is not the purpose of the meeting.

APPROACH:

Having a meeting that accomplishes something is as simple as having an agenda.  The agenda does not have to be the document to end all documents.  Indeed, it may not even be written.  It should, however, have at least the following components:

  1. A simple declaration sentence as to why the meeting is being held.  For example, “This meeting is being held to discuss how this TACTICS card can be used.”
  2. The second part of the agenda is crucial to the success of the meeting.  Conversation is directed toward a purpose.  In this example, the directed conversation, the purpose, could be the reading aloud of the card.  Thus everyone present has his attention focused on the same idea for the balance of the meeting.
  3. The third part of the agenda is to get the reactions of those participating in the directed conversation.  These reactions must be written down.  Ideally on a board so that all can see them.
  4. The fourth part is taking the written reactions and ordering them from most important to least important.  This should also be done on a board.
  5. The fifth part is determining what needs to be done by whom to make the three most important items happen.  Selecting more than the top three for action invariably leads to nothing happening with any.
  6. The sixth and final part is setting actual dates by which the top three items will occur.  Don’t say “within two weeks.”  Everyone will then leave wondering when the two weeks start, no one will start and nothing will get done.

THOUGHT:

Meetings that are held with no written agenda start late, last forever, and accomplish only the wasting of everyone’s time.

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.