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Simple Sells. 4 Steps to Simplify Your Selling.

Keep it Simple

4 Steps to Build Trust and Win Orders

Simple sells.

I have written often about the need to strip the complexity from your selling. My favorite quote I use to illustrate the value of simplicity in selling comes from Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. In an interview published in the Harvard Business Review, he says about Amazon’s sales efforts: “We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”

Selling is not about persuasion. Selling is not about convincing. It is simply about helping a customer make a purchase decision. And the goal of every action a sales person takes should simply be to help their prospects make informed purchase decisions with the least investment of their time possible.

As business people we compete in a world where the unabated pace of technological innovation and the rapid globalization of our economy have lowered the barriers to entry into most markets, creating an explosion in the number of competitors in nearly every product category. The net result of these forces is that it has become exceedingly difficult for any company to establish and maintain any sort of meaningful product differentiation. In the eyes of our prospects, we increasingly all look alike.

This means that the first line of competitive differentiation for a company is primarily based on how they sell their product or service, not what they sell. It is how you sell that builds trusts, develops credibility around your solution and provides value to the prospect by making it easier for them to make a decision.

Provided, of course, that you actually do make it easier for them to make a decision. Too often I see companies whose sales performance is hamstrung by the very complex sales systems and sales methodologies they employ. The system takes precedence and takes the focus off of the customer and helping them make a decision.

Simplifying your selling provides value to your prospect by making it easy for them to gather the information they need to make a decision. And it provides value to the seller as well.

Simple Research

Siegel + Gale, a New York-based branding firm recently released it “2013 Global Brand Simplicity Index.” Based on its research, the firm found that making it simpler for customers to reach a buying decision paid dividends in three ways:
1.     It increased the likelihood of repeat business. (Cue Daniel Kahneman’s Peak End rule.)
2.     A significant fraction of customers (up to 29% depending on industry) were willing to pay more for “simpler experiences and interactions.
3.     75% were more likely to recommend a company that provided simpler interactions.

Siegel + Gale’s report concluded that “[simplicity] brings clarity instead of confusion, decision instead of doubt, and the rewards are real…Simplicity inspires deeper trust and greater loyalty in customers…”

Practical Sales Tip: Here are some steps that you can take to simplify your selling:

1.     Make Every Touch Count: Every interaction with a prospect has to provide value that will help them move one step closer to making a decision. If it doesn’t, don’t do it.
2.     Be Absolutely Responsive: Every customer inquiry or request requires a complete response in the shortest time possible. Don’t let a rigid sales process put you at a competitive disadvantage to a responsive seller. 2nd place is no place to be.
3.     Clarify Your Offer: The customer has to be able to quickly understand what they can buy from you that will satisfy their requirements. As Einstein was reported to have said “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” If the customer has to work too hard to understand what you are selling, you won’t.
4.     Reduce Repeats: Every time a customer has to repeat himself or herself it reduces your chances of getting the order. For example, if your prospect tells their requirements to a sales person but then has to repeat the whole story to a sales engineer, your odds of getting their business just got smaller. The simpler approach is cut out the middleman and eliminate the need for the customer repeat their story by hiring sales people who have the expertise and experience of your sales engineers.

       

Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts training, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to teach them practical selling strategies that use responsiveness, speed and simple sales processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable and practical sales tips and strategies, “Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2013

 

Posted by Andy Paul in Practical Sales Techniques, Practical Sales Tips, Responsiveness, Sales Process, Selling with Maximum Impact.

To Cold Call or Not to Cold Call: Is That Really The Question?

Hamlet Business

     

3 Questions to Help Define Your Prospecting Strategy

“To cold call, or not to cold call–that is the question:
Whether ’tis wiser in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous rejection
Or to take aim against a sea of prospects
By email and Linking with them. To call, to fail–
No more–and by a fail to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That sales is heir to…” (With deepest apologies to William Shakespeare)

Which side of the great Cold-Calling Debate are you on? There is a
seemingly never-ending debate in sales circles over the relative and
absolute merits of cold-calling as a method for lead generation and
prospect development. The proponents on either side tend to view this as
an “either-or” proposition. It shouldn’t be if you are asking the right
questions.

On one side of this argument are the “traditionalists” who believe that
cold-calling, even in today’s information-driven economy, remains:
a) An effective tactic for reaching new prospects
b) A productive use of a salesperson’s limited selling time
c) An essential skill that every sales person needs to possess.

On the other side are the “progressives” who believe that:
a) Cold calls are unnecessary as there are a variety of tools that
enable a seller to connect and engage with prospects before the first
call is made.
b) Cold-calling is an inefficient use of a salesperson’s limited
selling time.
c) Contemporary sales skills, such as social selling, are more
crucial to sales success than the “elevator pitching” skills of cold
calling.

While the arguments put forth by both sides in this debate have some
merit, the correct solution for most companies and individual sellers is
not an “either-or” answer. Managers and sales people have to ask
themselves a few key questions in order to decide which approach to
prospect sales lead gen and prospect development is the most practical,
and effective, for them.

Question 1: What Do I Need To Accomplish?

The first question to ask is “What do I need to accomplish?” Be specific
and determine how many prospects you need at any one time in order to
meet and exceed quota. Define how many leads you need to develop within
a certain timeframe in order to develop a certain number of qualified
prospects. Having this information in hand will let you determine
whether cold-calling, or some other prospecting activity, is the optimal
strategy to achieve your prospecting goals. What will be the most
effective use of your selling time?

In this day and age, given the abundance of new sales tools that exist
to make it easier to connect with potential customers, it seems unlikely
that even the most fervent advocates can unequivocally state that
cold-calling is the only answer to Question 1.

Question 2: What Am I Good At Doing?

The second question to ask is: “What am I good at doing?” Or, “What is
my sales team good at doing?” It is essential to align your prospecting
activities with your sales strengths.

The fact is that not everyone has to be good at all forms of
prospecting. Success in cold-calling, or the lack thereof, can be due as
much to a salesperson’s temperament as their skills. And no amount of
training can change that. The most talented and successful salespeople I
have ever worked with in my career were not very good at cold-calling.

Personally, I don’t like cold-calling. In 30+ years of a very successful
sales career I have avoided cold-calling whenever I could. It doesn’t
suit my personality and I have never grown comfortable with it. Even
when I was in the field, working my territory and making 30-40 cold
calls a day.

However, I almost always had a healthy list of prospects. What did I do?

Question 3: What Are The Alternatives?

Without question, there is almost always more than one method for sales
people to generate a sales lead, whether it is social selling,
referrals, inbound marketing or cold-calling to name a few.

It is important to not be reactive and make the assumption that there
will be only one solution to a problem because in most prospecting
scenarios it will be a mix of activities that will produce the optimal
results.

I mentioned above that I didn’t like to cold call. However, I have done
it throughout my career because I have needed to. I haven’t lead my
prospecting with cold-calling. I was never fortunate enough to work for
a company where new prospects would knock down my door begging to buy
the products I was selling. So, I would start prospecting with the
non-cold-calling activities that I thought would produce the biggest
return on my time. Sometimes those activities would generate enough
leads for me. Often times they didn’t. That’s when I would make
cold-calls. It’s one thing to say you don’t like to cold-call. But, if
everything else you try isn’t working, it is still your job to develop
new prospects, close orders and make quota. There is no hall-pass in
sales. If that means making cold-calls to help make your numbers, then
that is what you have to do.

Practical Sales Tip: Start your prospecting with those activities that
are best aligned with your strongest capabilities, or those of your
sales team. But if those activities aren’t generating enough leads, then
you have to try something else. Even if it means picking up the phone
and making cold-calls. (As Shakespeare said “ay, there’s the rub…”)

For more on this topic click here to read: Doing What You Need To Do

       

Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them practical selling strategies that use responsiveness, speed and simple sales processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable and practical sales tips and strategies,Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2013

 

Posted by Andy Paul in Practical Sales Techniques, Practical Sales Tips, Prospecting.

Do You Visualize Sales Success?

mental try-outDo you dream about being successful in sales? Or do you visualize your sales success? Do you dream about winning the order? Or do you visualize the actual steps you will take to help your prospect make the winning purchase decision?

You only have only a limited number of opportunities to interact in meaningful way with each prospect during their buying cycle. As I write in my book, Zero-Time Selling, the era of the ad hoc sales call is finished. Your prospects don’t have the time to waste on unproductive sales calls with sellers that do not provide them anything of value, that do not help them move closer to making a decision.

This means that when you have the opportunity to engage with a prospect you should leave nothing to chance. You have to be prepared.

One crucial step of preparation for each sales call is to use a simple visualization technique.  For each upcoming sales call with your prospects, whether it is in-person, online or on the phone, do you mentally establish a goal and a desired outcome for that interaction? And then, do you mentally walk through the steps you need to accomplish to achieve that outcome?

This is a necessary discipline that salespeople need to practice and sales managers have to coach their direct reports to use.

There are three easy steps for visualization that you can exercise to improve your sales results.

1.    Establish a Desired Outcome for Each Sales Call

What is the outcome that you envision for the sales call? (This could be a phone call, video chat, in-person). The outcome needs to be defined in terms of an action your prospect will take to move one step closer to making a decision.

2.    Mentally Practice the Steps You Will Take During the Call

What is the process you will follow, what are the series of steps you will take, that will result in the outcome you desire? Identify and practice the specific questions you will ask the prospect.

3.    Anticipate the Prospect’s Answers and Follow-on Questions

You have to mentally visualize the “if-thens” that could occur during the sales call. What this means is that if the prospect asks question A; then what will be your response? If the customer asks Question B, then how will you respond? You need to know how you are going to answer those questions before you speak with the prospect. Create a list of these questions and visualize how you will answer them. If you want to be extra-prepared use a colleague or a manager to help you role-play and rehearse important sales calls. You can’t anticipate with 100% accuracy every question the prospect may ask, but you can prepare.

Remember that an important sales call is the time for preparation, not improvisation.

       

Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies, Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2013

 

Posted by Andy Paul in Responsiveness, Sales Management, Sales Process, Sales Tips, Sales Training, Selling with Maximum Impact.

Are You Managing Sales By Anecdote?

Once upon a time

Why are you just guessing?

I was talking to Dennis, a client, last week.
“We want to work on reducing the length of our sales cycle.”
“What is the length of your sales cycle now?”
“12-18 months.”
“You’re sure?”
“Absolutely.” Dennis was emphatic on this point.
“So, which one is it? 12 months? Or 18 months?”
“Umm…”

Umm, indeed. There is a non-trivial difference between the two. It makes a crucial difference in terms of evaluating sales productivity and analyzing the use of your available inventory of sales time.

Like too many sales teams, Dennis and his managers make important decisions about how to structure their sales process, how they allocate management attention and sales resources, and how well they serve their prospects and customers based on assumptions that are built on hearsay and anecdote.

In my experience I have seen that sales managers too often rely on those few gross quantifiable measures of sales performance that provide precious little insight into the effectiveness of the underlying sales processes: sales rep performance against quota, revenues by product, size of the pipeline. Everything else is largely guesswork.

I asked Dennis:
“What percentage of your sales leads are followed up by your sales team?”
“All of them? Honestly, I don’t know.”
“How long does it take distribute sales leads for follow-up?”
“I’m not sure. A couple of days, I think.”

Before you undertake changes to your sales processes, it is imperative to ask yourself: What do you really know about your sales processes? And what data do you have about their effectiveness? What hard facts, not assumptions or anecdotes, do you actually possess about how your sales processes function?

  • How many sales hours did your sales reps spend on each deal they worked?
  • Did the sales hours invested correlate to your win ratio?
  • Did the sales hours spent correlate to the size of the order?
  • How many sales support hours were consumed on each deal?
  • Do the number of sales support hours vary by salesperson?

And so on.

As important as the data on the deals you win is to have hard data about the deals you lost. The typical lost sales analysis is consumed with answering the question “why.” It is also crucial to understand the facts about lost sales. How much sales time was invested in lost sales opportunities?

It is critical to stay on top of your key sales metrics. Just make sure that they are actual measures and not estimates, assumptions or folklore. Metrics have no meaningful utility if they are not factual and accurate. The beauty of technology is that everyone has access to tools that can track your sales data.

If you’re ready to move beyond anecdotes, start by measuring one hard number that measures a process that is directly relevant to getting an order. Don’t guess. Then experiment with the process. Make changes to improve it and measure the outcome to ensure it has the desired result. Then keep measuring and refining.

Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies, Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2013




Posted by Andy Paul in Sales Management, Sales Planning, Sales Process.

Selling 9 to 5 Just Doesn’t Cut It

9 to 5 figures

What Separates The Best From The Rest?

I am often asked about the attributes that comprise the top sale professional. Here is one that I believe is vital to consistent sales success: The best salespeople I know are continuously strategizing about the opportunities they’re pursuing. They are thinking 24/7 of new ways that they can help their customers make an informed purchase decision. They know they can’t afford to mentally “lock away” their prospects when they leave work at the end of the day.

The most successful salespeople I have worked with possess a complete command of all the details of every sales opportunity they currently are working on. They let them continuously tumble around in the back of their minds, ruminating about possible winning strategies and tactics. They don’t have an “off” switch.

As I wrote about in my article titled “The Uncertainty Principle in Selling” the process of selling to your prospect invariably changes their requirements and decision criteria moving forward. The very process of discovery, of helping the prospect define their requirements, and providing the data and information in response to their questions, forces them to re-assess their needs and what the criteria will be that they use in evaluating sellers and making an informed purchase decision.

Salespeople who sell from 9 to 5 and mentally lock away their customers at the end of the business day invariably fail to take notice of these changes. They choose to believe that sales and buying cycles are static processes that proceed in a linear fashion from Point A to Point B and they lose out to the salespeople that recognize the vagaries and flexibility of those cycles.

A client of mine had a salesperson named Ty. Ty was a veteran salesman and typically developed a good rapport with his customers. But he didn’t store any of the details of his sales opportunities in his head. He was an avid user of the company’s CRM system though, into which he entered every bit of data he needed about his customers. But, because he knew that all his customer information was available from the CRM system it disappeared from his mind the moment he hit the Enter key. Poof! When asked by his manager to do a review of his sales opportunities at a sales meeting, Ty couldn’t recall details about his accounts without referring to the CRM system. And he wondered why he was always in reactive mode with his prospects and customers. Ty thought sales was an open-book test. Unfortunately sales, and life, don’t work that way.

It is a temptation for today’s sales professional, with all the technology they have at their fingertips to assume that they can always stay on top of the deals they are working by referring back to the data in their CRM system or their notes. But what sets the great salespeople apart are that they are always working their deals, constantly thinking of new ways to provide value to their prospects in order to win more orders in less time.

       
Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies,Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2013




Posted by Andy Paul in Sales Management, Sales Process, Sales Tips.

Are Your Stories Worth Repeating?

gossip
Take Advantage of the “Telephone Effect”

A lot has been recently written about the power of stories in selling. The power of stories to communicate context and value is undeniable, if they are used correctly.

The effective use of stories requires you to remember that the exclusive audience for your story is not the person to whom you initially tell the story. Even if that person is the final decision maker. You have to make your stories memorable and repeatable. Because they need to be retold throughout the prospect’s company to take advantage of the “telephone effect.”

What’s the “telephone effect?” When you were a kid, do you remember playing the game called “telephone?”

The rules were pretty simple. You and your friends sat on the floor in a big circle. One person started the game by whispering a short piece of gossip or fiction, usually something slanderous about one of the kids in the circle, into the ear of the kid sitting to their left. That kid in turn whispered what they had heard into the ear of the kid sitting to their left. And on and around the story traveled from ear to ear until the last kid to have heard the “telephone message” stood up and repeated what they thought they heard. What started out as “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water” invariably turned into “Jill hijacked a pill truck with Gayle, her daughter.”

This same dynamic is in play with the stories and the presentations you tell your prospects. You need to harness the power of the “telephone” dynamic to your sales advantage. Here’s how to do it and it all starts with the stories you tell. (If you haven’t read my article on sales stories, What’s Your Story, click here to do that first.)

Your stories have to be memorable so your prospect wants to repeat them internally. Your internal sales advocates have to be able to communicate the value of your product, service and company to multiple audiences throughout their organization. What you hope is that those people will in turn re-tell the story to other internal audiences. When that happens your value, features, benefits and reputation inevitably are amplified and solidified through the retelling. This is the “telephone effect” kicking in and working to your advantage. The more memorable your story, the more often it will be re-told.

In order for the prospect to effectively re-tell them, your stories have be easy to remember.  The key to making your stories repeatable is to make certain they follow a common structure that quickly answers four simple questions in logical order:

  1. Why did the customer call your company to help solve their problem?
  2. What problem(s) were they trying to solve?
  3. Why did they select your company and product/service?
  4. What value did the customer receive from your product/service?

Answer these four questions and your stories will be concise and flow in a logical fashion that the prospect can remember. Practice telling your stories to your colleagues. You want to be certain that they are absolutely clear about the value you provide.

Stories that are memorable and repeatable will accelerate your ability to Sell with Maximum Impact in the Least Time and compress buying cycles.

       


Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies, Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2013




Posted by Andy Paul in Responsiveness, Sales Management, Sales Process, Sales Tips, Sales Training, Selling with Maximum Impact.

What Do You Need to Unlearn This Year?

An Open MindSelling is a learning-based profession. The key to mastering your craft as a sales professional is to constantly learn new perspectives on selling and master new sales skills.  It is important to take the time to inventory your current strengths and weaknesses and assess what you need to learn to help you develop more prospects and close more orders.

At the same time it is important to have an open mind about the unproductive sales beliefs and practices that you should eliminate, or “unlearn,” that waste your limited selling time and decrease your upside sales potential. You have to perform an honest self-assessment and ask yourself: What do I need to unlearn this year?

Here are a few examples of counter-productive sales beliefs, behaviors and practices that I encounter in my work with clients as a sales coach that need to be unlearned:

1. Marketing-generated sales leads are worthless. It is invariably a sign of trouble when salespeople say that the only good sales lead is the one they developed themself. Once upon a time there may have been some validity to this point of view. But not now. Potential prospects have the information at their disposal to substantially pre-educate themselves about products and services before they ever reach out to engage with a seller. When they initiate contact they are well into their buying process and need to be taken seriously.

2. There is always time to respond to leads and customers. There isn’t. The operating assumption for you, the salesperson, has to be that prospects are making decisions based, at least in part, on how effectively you utilize their time. Waiting for you constitutes a bad use of their time. If the prospect invests time in you, and you make good use of that time, they will reward you with additional time in order to continue selling. Your prospects have plenty of options. Waste their time at your peril.

3. Customer relationships are built on interpersonal skills. This needs to be unlearned in a hurry. At the end of the day relationships with prospects and customers are based on Needs and Deeds (link to post). You can be as personable and sincere as the day is long but if you aren’t meeting the prospect’s needs, you won’t develop a productive, long-term relationship with them. The best salesperson I’ve seen in action in the past decade was pathologically shy. But he knew his products and understood his customers and was able to guide them through their buying cycle faster than his competitors.

4. It is all about the product. It isn’t. In most instances, the customer could care less about your particular product. What they care about is whether you, and your product or service, can provide the optimal solution to their problem. Whether the solution they buy is your product or a product from the World-Wide Widget Company, doesn’t make a difference to them.

What do you have to unlearn this year?


Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies, Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2013




Posted by Andy Paul in Sales Management, Sales Planning, Sales Process, Sales Training.

Are You Giving Your Prospects A Clear Choice?

yes no maybeIn his book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, a professor at Swarthmore College, put forth the thesis that one of the serious downside consequences of our modern economy is that businesses and consumers have too many choices. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of offerings for nearly every category of product and service. As a result, buyers have become paralyzed by the mere act of having to choose.

Schwartz also writes that he believes that buyers that have had to choose from among too many alternatives are also typically less happy with the choice they made and more likely to experience some form of buyers remorse.

What does this mean for salespeople? I believe the paradox Schwartz describes speaks to a shortcoming in most of us who sell. When the product or service we are selling is perceived by our prospects to be largely undifferentiated from those of our competitors, it means that we haven’t given them a clear reason to purchase our offering. As a seller, it is our responsibility to reduce the number of choices for the prospect by standing apart from our competitors, making it easier and quicker for them to make a decision. When products and services are perceived by customers to be very similar the basis for their decision turns to the intangibles.

In this environment the task for us, the seller, is to differentiate ourself and present a clear and compelling choice to the prospect based on how we sell our product or service. Are we being responsive in Zero-Time to the customer’s request for information they need to make an informed purchase decision with the least investment of their time possible? Are we Selling with Maximum Impact in the Least Time to provide substantive value on each customer interaction? Are we creating the positive First Perception that provides a first mover sales advantage in building trust, creating credibility and differentiating us from the competitors? Do these things and we will create substantive value for the prospect by standing out from the crowd, giving them the opportunity to make a rare, clear-cut choice.

I don’t believe the problem is that buyers today have too many choices. I believe the issue confronting customers today is that the many choices they have are largely undifferentiated. If the alternatives from which a customer has to choose are perceived to be virtually identical then it is natural that they would be curious about whether they could make the “best” decision. Buyers remorse is a reaction on the part of the customer that their decision to purchase from us was not an affirmative choice to buy the absolute best solution but of choosing the least bad of the alternatives. As a seller, we absolutely have it in our power to ensure that our customers always feels like they made the best, and only, decision they could have made.


Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. 

© Andy Paul 2013



 

Posted by Andy Paul in Responsiveness, Sales Management, Sales Planning, Sales Process, Sales Tips.

Is Yours A Vicious Sales Cycle? Or A Virtuous Sales Cycle?

By Andy Paul

Virtuous Sales Cycle

Which One Are You In?

Most everyone is familiar with the concept of a vicious cycle, or vicious circle (i.e., a repeating sequence of connected events in which each cycle reinforces the previous one, in this case, negatively).

In sales, a Vicious Sales Cycle stems from bad sales practices that lead to poor results combined with an inability or unwillingness to change, which leads in turn to a never-ending, self-reinforcing cycle of unacceptable sales performance. Unfortunately too many sales professionals operate within a Vicious Sales Cycle.

What are some key behaviors that open the door to a vicious sales cycle?

1. Lack of consistently applied sales processes. Success in sales is based on a foundation of well-defined, documented sales processes (and associated metrics) that establish clear expectations for how selling should occur in your organization.

2. Lack of responsiveness. Today’s customer is substantially pre-educated about your product or service before they ever engage with your sales team. By definition, when they do contact you for the first time their need for information in order to make a decision is urgent.

3. Lack of urgency. See #2 above. The timeframe for every sales action should be immediate. It’s what customers expect. Anything less is the start of a slippery slope.

4. Lack of product knowledge and business acumen. Customers rely on you to provide the necessary content and context they require to make a fully informed purchase decision. Customers will be reluctant to invest their time to build relationships with sellers who can’t provide value.

Your goal should be to build a Virtuous Sales Cycle. A virtuous cycle is defined as a “Self-propagating advantageous situation in which a successful solution leads to more of a desired result or another success which generates still more desired results or successes in a chain.”

A Virtuous Sales Cycle is what happens when best sales practices are consistently applied to produce above-average results, which in turn create a chain of positive results that feed off of each other to generate even better performance.

Therefore, the aim of every salesperson should be to convert their sales efforts into Virtuous Sales Cycles rather than the all-too-typical Vicious Sales Cycle in which unresponsive, time-wasting sales behaviors spiral downwards into a never-ending series of poor performance.

What are a few of the behaviors you should use to create and perpetuate a Virtuous Sales Cycle?

1. Sell with Maximum Impact in the Least Time. Selling with Maximum Impact in the Least Time means that every interaction with a customer must be pre-planned to achieve the maximum impact and provide the maximum value for the customer with the least investment of their time possible.

2. Be absolutely responsive to the customer in Zero-Time. Because the timeframe for every sales action is immediate anything that you put off, any customer interaction that you defer until later, is less likely to ever occur. In my training courses I teach that “later” lives on the same street as “never.”

3. Continually fine-tune your sales processes. Nothing stays the same. Products change. Customers change. Technology changes. How you sell your product, and the metrics used to measure the effectiveness of your processes, have to evolve to keep pace with these changes.

Let’s put this in context and see how you can use these to initiate your Virtuous Sales Cycle. What happens when you consistently sell with Maximum Impact and enable your customers to make informed purchase decisions with a smaller investment of their time? By virtue of selling more effectively you will naturally compress the customers’ buying cycle. Compressing their buying cycle will not only win you more orders it will also create more selling time for you to sell to additional prospects. (Reduce your prospects’ buying cycle by 5% then you will suddenly have 5% more sales time. This could be equal to an extra 13 selling days per year. How many more orders could you win with that extra time?) If you sell to these additional prospects in the same effective manner then this process of positive sales outcomes becomes self-propagating. Success begets success and you have kick-started your Virtuous Sales Cycle.


Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read?Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies,Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2013

Posted by Andy Paul in Qualifying, Responsiveness, Sales Management, Sales Planning, Sales Process, Sales Tips, Sales Training, Selling with Maximum Impact.

When Deals Slow Down: Are You The Solution or the Problem?

By Andy Paul

When Deals Slow Down, How Do You Fix It?

I attended a conference this year where it was suggested that just as customers have the ability to use social media and other forums to publicly rate their suppliers so too should sellers have a forum to rate their customers. The suggestion was offered in a somewhat humorous vein but there was an air of seriousness behind it. One of the main rating criteria for the customer that was put forth was whether the customer was a slow buyer.

Posted by Andy Paul in Lead Follow-up, Objections, Prospecting, Qualifying, Responsiveness, Sales Management, Sales Planning, Sales Process, Sales Tips, Sales Tools, Sales Training, Selling with Maximum Impact.