The Sales Profession and The Power of One

The sales profession can be one of the most rewarding and yet frustrating. Remove the frustration by harnessing the power of one.

The Sales Profession

001_56First, let me address the reference to sales being a profession. There are many like doctors and lawyers who may challenge the combination of sales and professional in the same sentence. They are wrong. People in the sales profession are committed to their particular service or product. Just as a doctor, at least the good ones, believe in what they do. If you are a committed sales professional, you are always striving to improve, not just your numbers but to improve yourself. Whether you are attending seminars and workshops, watching video online or reading, improving yourself can’t help but improve you as a sales professional.

While working on improving ourselves, we are trying to land that whale of a client that is going to solve our financial challenges, and then continue looking for that next whale. The problem is most of us are looking for a way to swallow that whale whole.

The trick to eating a whale is the power of one. One bite at a time.

The Power of One

CompensationMy friend Bill Guyther with LegalShield was in the Toronto area yesterday and did a great training session when he introduced “The Power of One”. He talked about eating an elephant one bite at a time. The bite he referred to is getting the opportunity to present, ideally in a face to face sit down. For some, it may be getting approval to send an email or connect via social media to have a discussion specifically for business. Win one meeting at a time and so on.

Bill used the example of doubling one penny every day. Day one was a penny, day 2 was 2 cents. At the end of 31 days, you would have approximately $10.7 million. Miss the last day, you only have half. To get any result, you have to start with ONE! In the example above, it was one CENT. It wasn’t even a DOLLAR. Bite off what you can chew. As Bill suggested, work on winning the meeting, not the sale. I’m sure you have been to enough sales training to know that sales is the result of activity.

Do enough approaches to win a meeting, do enough meetings to win a sale. Do enough sales to make a great living as a sales professional. Note the power of one at work here, it all started with one call. Focus on winning enough meetings and you will get the sales.

Will you make that one call? And then the next one?

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Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great leaders. I’m thankful for opportunity. I’m thankful for every new day. What are you thankful for today?

Imprinting – Why First Impressions Matter

A great example of imprinting is the old story of the ugly duckling. A baby swan was taken under the wing of a duck. Because the duck was the first thing he saw when he came out of his egg, he immediately believed he was a duck. Because he was different, the others saw him as ugly until the day he saw his reflection in the water and realized he was a beautiful swan.

This is why first impressions matter!

Is Your First Impression Imprinting?

When we meet someone for the first time, we instantly make a judgement about a person. The problem is, you could be dead wrong!

soccerplayerI’ll use the example of years ago when my son was in high school. There had been a teacher’s strike and there were no sports that year because teachers were working to rule and there were no extra-curricular activities. I didn’t like it but could respect they had a right to take job action. The following year, again, no soccer. What?! Why? Because “the teachers were still hurting from the strike” the previous year. Now I was angry.

My son came home the next day and asked if I would coach the team. He had asked all the teachers if they would coach and they declined. Then he approached the principal and got his agreement that if teachers would take turns on the bench, I could coach (insurance required a teacher present). Great! But, I woke up at 2 in the morning angry that it happened in the first place. Oh, the power of the Internet! I fired off email to the local news paper and TV stations where I knew a couple of people. I didn’t hear anything but they showed up at our first game and my son was on the news for having “made the team happen”.

According to a teacher we were providing daycare for at the time, the teachers were not happy!

The next parent council meeting, I decided to go and see what was going on at their school. You could have heard a pin drop. I could tell they were expecting a tirade as a result of the imprinting caused when we raised an issue with the soccer team. What they didn’t realize is the issue was old news to me. Done and dealt with. My reason for going to the meeting was to learn, not disrupt.

Reserve Judgement AND Behave Yourself!

ScalesTwo things to consider here. Your actions and your reactions. Don’t be that customer who comes flying in the door screaming about whatever it is that you didn’t like. The person who provided you the product or service very likely wants you to be satisfied. Your language and demeanor can make all the difference in the world. You will leave an imprint, good or bad. How do you want to be seen? How will that help you? If you are the service provider, put the shoe on the other foot. You know your client is frustrated for some reason. Recognize that it is about the situation, not you and don’t let it get personal. Take time to understand before making a conscious decision on how to react.

Remember, imprinting is natural and often based on first impressions. What do you want yours to be?

Make it a great day!

Barry.

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for patient people. I’m thankful for second chances. I’m thankful for the internet! What are you thankful for today?

Sales and Service: Land of Promises and Land of Broken Promises!

Sales people are forever making promises and service people always let them down. We need to remember how much we need each other or we will all go broke!

Sales: The Land of Promises

Have you ever worked in sales and had to work with the service department to keep customers satisfied with your post-sales support?

I have been in sales for a number of years. I learned, sometimes the hard way, just how much I needed the service department’s support in order to be successful. Here are just a few things that can make a world if difference:

And those are just a few.

When I was designing small to medium business technology solutions, I would often spend time with technicians in the service department bouncing ideas off them before making a pitch to a client. That feedback prevented me from embarrassing myself or them in the eyes of the client.

sales information exchangeThe salesperson is the public face of the company. They are expected to:

  • Identify need;
  • Clarify need by asking probing questions;
  • Handle objections;
  • Help client make a buying decision.

It’s when this process breaks down that the land of broken promises starts to develop. One unanswered or unasked question at a time.

Land of Broken Promises

In an ideal world, the service department is your before and after sales support that gives you good decision making information before the sale and then keeps the customer satisfied with your solution after the sale.

When we land in Broken Promises, it’s usually because of at least one of these things:

  • Bad technical information;
  • Poor Communication;
  • Unexpected problems during delivery;
  • Unrealistic expectations;
  • Dishonesty.

person cryingInformation and Communication

Bad technical information isn’t necessarily the fault of your technical/service support. You may not have asked the right questions or truly understood what the client needed. You need to ask enough questions that the client almost starts to become annoyed. Then you have to do the same to your technical/service support people!

It’s better to have a client tell you they are not willing to go through the pain to achieve their objective, or a technician to tell you your plan won’t work, than you have to go through the pain of resolving a conflict with the risk of having an unsatisfied client out there telling everyone their experience. It takes 10 client success stories to make up for the one that got away!

Unexpected problems are usually the result of not asking enough questions. There could be a mixture of generations of technology and the client forgot how old something was but it is an important part of their business. This caused a problem with your solution but guess what? You’re the professional. You are supposed to know everything. At least, that’s what the client believes.

Expectations

Clients may have unrealistic expectations. You did such a great job “selling” your solution, they expect it to solve all their problems without a hitch. This is a good place to pre-handle objections. For example, I had a client ask me if I could I could guarantee they would never have a problem with me or my company. My response was that this is a long term relationship and I can guarantee that we will face a challenge at some time. The difference is that I won’t hide from or run from a problem. Note earlier I used the word challenge? There is no such thing as a problem!

Set expectations up front. How will cost be handled? Build in a bumper and be clear it’s to allow for the unexpected. Oops! I guess that’s expected now. Be clear that you are willing to face up to disagreements as long as they are handled with respect, and so on.

Dishonesty is a real problem. Many times it’s the client that is guilty. They knew about a potential challenge but hoped it wouldn’t show up. Out of embarrassment, they may try to transfer the guilt to you. Don’t get caught up in the blame game. If you made a mistake, own it and ask forgiveness while proposing a solution that shouldn’t really cost your client. If it’s the client, don’t apologize but recognize this is one of those “challenges” you expected you might face. Offer a way for the client to save face with as little cost to them as possible.

The Land of Broken Promises is a horrible place. Try your best to stay out of there and help your team support people stay there with you. You are the leader. Lead!

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great teachers. I’m thankful for great clients. I’m thankful for opportunities to learn. What are you thankful for today?

Social Media Can Be A Mine Field

Social media is a great tool for marketing and staying in touch with people in far away places. Just remember that it can be fraught with danger!

SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE A MINE FIELD

One of the challenges with social media is that people can’t usually see our faces and body language. That means they only get about 40% of the message. Is that enough to ensure you aren’t misunderstood?

Mom&BrettI’ll use a personal example. I wrote a blog in January of 2012 about how great a year 2011 had been and posted it to my Facebook news feed. My reason for 2011 being so great was that in 2010, we almost lost our house, my mother died, my father had a stroke and my son died. In 2011, I had been in a new job for a year, we had managed to save our home with the help of friends and family, my other kids appeared to be getting their lives back on track after losing their brother the year before. When you compare the two, 2011 was a great year.

What I forgot about was that my nephew had died that year.

I received a call from my brother-in-law. He was furious. “How could you say that!”. My wife asked me to take down that blog because of the pain it was causing my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Although not sorry for what I said, I was sorry for how it made them feel and took the blog down.

If you are going to be active in social media, be prepared to eat some crow once in a while. I’m not saying not to be honest and say what you feel. Just be prepared that not everyone will agree with you and you might bruise some toes once in a while and have to explain yourself.

Social Media and Business

When it comes to business, the challenges are even greater. My brother-in-law might not be happy with what a I said a few years ago but he has forgiven and moved on. We are friends again. That took a couple of years!

criticismIn the case of business, prospects and clients aren’t necessarily so forgiving. I’m still married to my brother-in-law’s sister so he was forced to be near me and that gave us a chance to “kiss and make up”. Your followers and customers don’t have to. With a click of a mouse, you are unfollowed. If you are lucky, that’s all. With the power of social media, your followers, prospects and customers have a voice.

Look at Air Canada for example. There was an incident in February of 2017 where a plane had been grounded due to weather. It was midnight and passengers were told there was no food available as everything was closed. A West Jet pilot was in the same airport. He took the initiative to order pizza and came to the Air Canada passengers saying that “‘Hey … I am from WestJet and we do things differently. Who wants pizza?”. Facebook postings went nuts! Lucky for Air Canada, most of the commentary was positive for the West Jet pilot as opposed to directly negative for Air Canada.

Air Canada, to their credit, was quick to apologize and recognize the West Jet pilot for his efforts. Silence could have been deadly. Social media is a mine field. Tread carefully.

Have A Voice But Remember Words Matter

Question?By all means, have a voice. Just remember that words matter. Your readers may not have your language as their first language and are interpreting into their context. For example, “I’m going to the park” may translate to “I’m making a trip to the park” in a Latin language. If you’re lucky, your comments translate that well but not always. What if it’s something like “I beat my wife at a game of chess” and it translated to “I played a game of chess with my wife and I beat her”. If English isn’t my first language, I might be concerned you were beating your wife!

Words mean different things to different people. I highly recommend reading The Secret Language of Leadership by Steve Denning. Choose your words carefully but just as important, try to understand how your readers will interpret them.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for social media. I’m thankful for family. I’m thankful for opportunity. What are you thankful for today?

Pre-Handle Objections. Be Up Front.

Pre-Handle objections by addressing the elephant at the front of the room. Save yourself time and stress by being up front with whatever the biggest objections are.

Pre-Handle Objections

Image representing Canadian justice.What does Pre-Handle objections mean?

I’ll use a great example I heard at an Advanced Product Training with Legalshield this past weekend. Melissa Wilder was in town to address the Ontario market. As part of the agenda, the guest speaker usually delivers a business briefing. That’s a presentation of both the product and the opportunity. She noted that it’s common that the price is what is sitting at the front of a guest’s mind and causes distraction from the message. She actually said something similar very early in the presentation and briefly mentioned the price of the Canadian membership, clearing the air and allowing people to focus on the presentation.

Let’s imagine that you have someone convinced to come to see your service or business opportunity. You told them the meeting would be a little over an hour and that the group likes to go out for some camaraderie afterward. You agreed that you would pick them up and drive. Now, you are about to leave and bring them to the meeting. Because they are a half hour away, you call to confirm. The conversation could go one of two ways.

Option 1

Man giving thumbs down.Hi, this is John Doe. We spoke earlier this week about you coming to a business briefing. (Because, of course, you were up front about that and they already saw something about the service so there are no surprises!) Are you still able to come? Stop right there! You just gave them an out. It doesn’t really matter what the story is, they can make up just about anything.

“I’m sorry I can’t come tonight. Something has come up. Maybe next time?”

You can believe there is no next time. There is no sense of urgency. You didn’t say anything to indicate otherwise and the urgency is all yours, not theirs.

Option 2

photo agreeingHi, this is Jane Doe. We spoke earlier this week about the video I sent previously and you indicated that there were a couple of things that you might be able to use our membership for. I explained that you could learn more and have questions answered at our business briefing. The briefing takes about 45 minutes and after that you would be able to decide if you saw value in staying for further discussion and clarification. After the meeting we typically go for some fellowship and you would be welcome to join us or I would take you home.

Thanks for agreeing to come tonight. When we spoke last, we agreed that after the business briefing, it will be your decision on next steps. Does that sound about right? (As long as you have been up front and your statement is accurate, the answer can only be yes.) It’s kind of hard to say no when you use their own words.

“That’s great! I should be there in about 25 minutes.” And, don’t be late.

Be Honest and Up Front

Honesty and integrity is key in any business. I need to know what you are asking me for and what it’s going to cost me. Keep in mind that my time is worth more than my money. I don’t know about you but the only thing I hate more than a thief is a liar. So, don’t steal my time and don’t lie to me!

Use the Up Front Contract every time. Make it a habit to start every conversation by stating the up front contract that brought you to this point in time and be sure to end every conversation with your next up front contract, whether that is the next meeting, or agreement to part friends. The other thing is to be sure to listen and use language that everyone understands.

Will you always get people to agree to the next up front contract? Nope. But, that means you have both just saved a lot of time and energy, parted friends and can get on about your business.

People like to deal with people they know, like and trust. You will build more lasting relationships being honest and up front and the business you win sticks. Who knows, maybe no means not right now. Because you built a lasting relationship, you will get the future business and/or referrals.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great teachers. I’m thankful for integrity. I’m thankful for growth opportunities.

What are you thankful for today?

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