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4 Strategies to Build a Responsive Sales Culture

Being responsive doesn’t just mean being first to respond.

Responsiveness in sales involves two inseparable elements: information and speed. It’s about how you structure and execute your sales process to provide the valuable information and insights your customers need to help them move through their buying process as quickly as possible.

Watch my short video below to learn practical strategies you can easily implement to instill a culture of absolute responsiveness in your selling.

Andy Paul 130x96Andy Paul is author of Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers To Make Fast, Favorable Decisions (AMACOM Books, 2014)and  Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to teach them how to maximize the value and power of their selling to rapidly increase their 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 2014

 Click here to pre-order your copy of my new book today! 

AmUpYourSales

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

Visualize Sales Success: 3 Techniques to Help You Achieve Your Sales Goals

You have very few opportunities to meaningfully engage with your prospects during their buying process. It’s essential that you are prepared to maximize the value you deliver to the prospect when you have the chance. You can’t afford to waste a minute of their time.

Check out my video below. I give you three valuable tips on how visualize sales success to help you achieve your sales goals. Now.

Andy Paul 130x96Andy Paul is author of Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers To Make Fast, Favorable Decisions (AMACOM Books, 2014)and  Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to teach them how to maximize the value and power of their selling to rapidly increase their 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 2014

 Click here to pre-order your copy of my new book today! 

AmUpYourSales

Posted by Andy Paul in Lead Follow-up, Practical Sales Techniques, Practical Sales Tips, Responsiveness, Sales Management, Sales Planning, Sales Process, Uncategorized.

If You Want To Sell More; Sell Faster

3d winning race

The logic is unassailable. If you want to sell more, sell faster.

As you might expect, I read a lot about sales. And very few sales thought leaders write about the importance of speed in selling. I find this to be more than a bit mystifying because this is exactly what your customers want. Increasingly they want to be able to more quickly gather the information they need to make fully informed purchase decisions with the least investment of their time possible. (If this weren’t true, why are your customers all using the Internet as their default method of investigating and researching new products?)

A study by the research firm IDC found that IT buyers want to chop the length of their buying process by 30%. Why? The better question to ask is ‘Why not?’ Think of all the other profitable ways a customer could invest their time if they could compress their evaluation and purchase cycles by 30%.

Invest 10 minutes in a no-cost assessment of the responsiveness of your sales process. Click here to start.

Helping your prospects to make faster (and hopefully, favorable) decisions is a source of tangible value to them. This is not hand waving value of the kind that salespeople typically claim to provide. This is quantifiable, take-it-to-the-bank value for the customer that can be expressed in dollars and cents.

Selling faster doesn’t mean to cut corners. In fact, just the opposite is true. In order to sell faster, you have to be more disciplined in your approach to qualification, discovery, and all of your core sales processes. And you have to be more rigorous and disciplined in using metrics to manage, fine-tune and and accelerate your processes.

Chipotle is a company in the business of selling burritos. And they understand that their ability to increase their sales is not solely limited by how many people they attract to their doors. They have found that they can generate increased sales based on how quickly they help their customers make their decision, pay for their order and send them on their way to eat their food. They are defying the knee-jerk assumption that doing something faster will necessarily result in a degraded customer experience. In fact, they have learned that shrinking the amount of time that their customers have to spend with them is a way to increase satisfaction and build repeat business.

Which is just what your customers hope you will do for them. They don’t want to spend time with you. It’s nothing personal. They just have many other things that they need to do and spending time with a salesperson stands in their way of accomplishing them. Salespeople have a tendency to think that they need to maximize the amount of face time they have with a customer in order to increase their share of mind with the decision-maker. In fact, the opposite is often true. The way you maximize your share of mind with the customer is to have them identify you as the resource that can help them make great decisions faster.

Here are 3 simple steps you can take right now to sell faster:

1. Follow up everything immediately.

If you get a sales lead, an inquiry from a prospect or a question from an existing customer, follow up immediately. Every minute that you delay in following up works against you. You never want to keep a prospect waiting for you. That means that you are wasting their time.

Create metrics that set expectations for your follow up. How long should it take to respond to a lead? How long should it require to respond to a customer question?

2. Be 100% responsive

It is not enough just to follow up quickly. You also have to provide the answer or information that the prospect needs. And you need to provide it in one call, one email or one voice mail. Making prospects wait while you dribble information out to them slows down their decision-making. A quick follow up that is without content is a waste of the customer’s time.

You have to train your prospects to expect to receive something of value from you each time you communicate with them. Scrutinize every potential sales interaction to ensure that it meets that standard for responsiveness.

3. Make a plan for every sales interaction

Selling is about preparation. Not improvisation. Every sales touch, no matter how big or small, needs a plan so that you know exactly how you are going to utilize the customer’s time. What information or insights are you going to provide in that touch that will move the customer at least one step forward in their buying process?

Look at every planned sales interaction from the perspective of the buyer and ask yourself if it will achieve the goals you’ve established and produce the outcomes you desire.

Andy Paul 130x96Andy Paul is author of Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers To Make Fast, Favorable Decisions and  Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to teach them how to maximize the value and power of their selling to rapidly increase their 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 2014

 Click here to pre-order your copy of my new book. 

AmUpYourSales

Posted by Andy Paul in Lead Follow-up, Practical Sales Techniques, Practical Sales Tips, Prospecting, Responsiveness, Sales Process, Sales Tips.

It Takes Just 1% More Value To Win

1 percent reduced

The difference between winning and losing any sales deal you are working on is 1%.

Close your eyes and think back for a moment about every order that you have won. Or lost. Or better yet, think back to the first really big order that you won. That was a moment to savor, wasn’t it? You probably crushed the competition, right? So, let me ask you a question: how much better than your competitors were you? After all, the customer had to have had a compelling reason to choose you. Were you 75% better than your competitors? 50%? 25%? 10%? Did it matter?

Now, let’s go back and remember that big order you lost. The one that you thought for sure you were going to win. But didn’t. Was the winning competitor chosen by the customer 100% better than you? 50%? How about 5% better? Does the margin of victory matter? Not at all. Because you only have provide 1% more value than the competition to win the deal.

Customer decisions usually come down to the small stuff.

You would like to believe that you have provided your prospects with a compelling and highly differentiated value proposition. And that the decision to buy from you is not even a close call. But, it doesn’t work that way. In a globalized economy where there are increasing numbers of competitors in every category and when the differences between products are narrowing, not growing, it becomes increasingly difficult for customers to differentiate between products and services. If sellers increasingly all look alike to buyers, how big of a margin of incremental value do you really need to offer to win an order?

As you sell it helps if you think about the fact that the difference between winning a sale or losing a sale will likely be a razor thin margin. Plus or minus 1%. You only have to be perceived to be 1% better than the alternative products or services your prospect is considering in order to win their business.

Click here for my popular eBook on maximizing the value and impact of your selling.

The key question is: Do you know what you need to do to provide that extra one percent?

What is that 1% more value that you can provide to help your customer justify the decision to buy from you? Think about the customer’s evaluation and decision-making process like preparing the batter for your favorite cake (the flavor is up to you. Though I like chocolate.) The first things that go into your mixing bowl are the wet ingredients. You turn on your mixer to blend those together and then add your sugar and flour bit by bit until everything is smoothly combined. And then at the end, dashes of favorite spices are added here and there. These are the baker’s secret ingredients that make the ultimate difference in how the cake tastes.

Similarly, your prospect starts their evaluation of your proposal by throwing into the mixing bowl the information they gleaned from your website and any content they downloaded online. When that is mixed together they add in your proposal or quotes along with references and endorsements. At the end they toss in the value-added insights and the overall buying vision you provided along with dashes of their gut feeling, intuition and perception about you and your offer.

It is in these final additions that your incremental value can make all the difference. Did you respond more quickly and completely to their inquiries and questions? Did you provide tangible value at each step of their buying process? Did you ask perceptive questions about their requirements? Did you provide a new insight into their business that helped them better understand their requirements? Did you require a smaller investment of their time than the competition? Did you make it easy for them to make the decision to do business with you? It all adds up.

1% more value added at the right time can make a 100% difference.










Andy Paul 130x96Andy 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, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to teach them how to maximize the value and power of their selling to rapidly increase their 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 2014









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

Does Your Sales Hiring Compare To How The NFL Evaluates Players?

businessmen football

Does Your Hiring Process Stack Up Against Pro Football’s?

Professional football teams invest tremendous sums of time and money in scouting, testing, interviewing, assessing and grading elite college players in an effort to hire those who have the skills and potential to help their teams succeed on the field and win championships. How much time and money do you invest in your sales hiring process?

Pro teams amass a mountain of data about the past performance and the potential of each of the young men that they select in the NFL draft, and yet, when that day arrives the best that these experienced evaluators of potential can say is that they are making what could best be called educated guesses about the players that they select. Only 30% of the first round picks in the draft are ever selected to the Pro Bowl team even once in their career (which is the all-star event that I’ll compare to making President’s Club for a salesperson.)

Does that sound familiar? How many of your top sales hires have become superstars at your company?

If these hard-nosed, experienced evaluators of potential talent are so often proven wrong, what does it say about your hiring process?

Grab your copy of my free eBook about the 4 steps to create an effective sales hiring process at your company. 

Let’s compare how the pros evaluate potential draft picks to your hiring process.

A)  Teams employ scouts (or scouting services) that spend their autumn weekends attending a lot of college football games in an effort to identify players who they think have the potential to play at the professional level. and succeed in the NFL.
B)  Are you, or members of your management team, regularly networking with potential sales hires? Are you building a list of salespeople that you’ve met, or competed against, that you think would be a good fit for particular needs you have on your sales team and could succeed?

A)  Teams employ evaluators to watch video of virtually every play a player was involved in during their college career in order to assess their skills and potential to succeed at the next level.
B)  Do you ever see potential sales candidates “in action?” before you make the hiring decision?

A)  At the Combine (which is like a big job fair for the draft-eligible college players that the various pro teams agreed had the highest potential to succeed in their league) team officials subject the players to a blizzard of personality testing, aptitude testing and extensive interviews.
B)  Are you utilizing off the shelf tools like sales assessment tests to help you gauge the suitability of a candidate for your position? These assessments provide a valuable data point to incorporate into your decision making about a sales candidate.

A)  A player’s job specific knowledge is also tested. In interviews with a player coaches will map out scenarios about certain game situations and ask the player to describe in detail what their responsibilities would be in those situations, how they would react and what actions they would take.
B)  Are you testing for the specific product and industry knowledge that a salesperson must possess in order to succeed at your company?

A)  The players are physically tested at the Combine. They are run through a series of drills to demonstrate how fast, quick, agile, explosive and just plain strong they are. Players also showcase their talents in private workouts for teams. In these workouts the players are put through drills that require them to demonstrate mastery of the skills that are specific to the role that they could play for that team.
B)  Are you testing the sales skills of candidates before you make a hiring decision? For instance, if they need to make cold calls or formal sales presentations, are you testing their skills in these areas as part of your interview process?

A)  The teams and the NFL conduct extensive reference and background checks on the players.
B)  Are you just going through the motions with your reference checks? And, like most managers, are you conducting reference checks only after you have already decided to hire a specific individual?

Only after this exhaustive process of collecting and analyzing all of this data to teams begin the process of deciding who they want to hire for their team via the NFL draft.

How Does Your Process Stack Up To The NFL’s?

If pro football’s sophisticated and extensive player evaluation process yields unpredictable results, in terms of the productivity of the new hire once they are on the job, what does it say about your sales hiring process?

  • Are you using tools like personality and aptitude testing to assess the potential of a candidate?
  • Are you formally testing candidates for their product knowledge and industry expertise?
  • Are you testing candidates for the job skills that you believe are required to succeed in a sales position at your company?
  • Do you test their written communications skills?
  • Do you require them to make a sales presentation to you?
  • Do you perform role-playing about certain sales situations?
  • Are you conducting reference checks early in the interview process before you make a decision about the candidate?
  • Most importantly, are you measuring the success of your sales hiring process? And refining it to make it more effective?

So, how does your sales hiring process compare?

To learn more about creating a strong sales hiring process in your company, click here.

 

NFL is a registered trademark of the National Football League.

Andy Paul 130x96Andy 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, coaches and consults with CEOs and sales teams to teach them how to maximize the value and power of their selling to rapidly increase their sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable strategies to help you maximize the value and power of your selling, “Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2014









Posted by Andy Paul in Sales Hiring, Sales Management, Sales Process, Selling with Maximum Impact.

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.