Haven’t You Changed Yet? 3 Things Sales People Must Do Now

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question guy

Haven’t You Changed Yet? 3 Things Sales People Must Do Now

You know it’s true.

You know that when a prospect calls, fills out a web form or pings you with an email these days that they have already and absolutely done research about you, your products and your company.  Like a lot of research.

I’ve read a dozen studies that say most folks are 50% to 75% through the sales process by the time they get to you, the live breathing sales rep.

Well that stinks.  It’s sure not like the old days.

Remember the days when prospects or clients needed you to tell them all about your company, the products, the pricing and the options?  Yeah, I do.  It was like the early 2000’s was the last time that was real life.  But now there is the internet, the websites, the blogs, the reviews and all that good stuff.  What do the prospects need you for?  (Answer: to confirm pricing, terms and other such mundane stuff it seems).

But it doesn’t  have to be that way.   There are three things you should be doing all the time now dear sales person, before and during that time when that phone rings, that load leads or that email arrives.

 

  • Differentiation is Your Lead Story:  If the prospect is contacting you – they already have a need; so ease up on hitting the needs discovery so hard up front for criminy sakes.  Instead, focus on differentiation and do it presumptively.  An old colleague of mine taught me the critical question sales must always answer for prospects; “Why with all the competitive alternatives available to me, should I buy from you?”  OK – you know that is important but you need do this presumptively without being asked.  “Yes, it runs around $60 a month and what makes that unique versus others that may offer the service is….”  Or “My guess is you’ve looked hard at options here, one thing to consider unusual but awesome about how our products delivers is…..”    Your job with differentiation as your lead story is to snap the prospect out of price or terms shopping – that’s where they think they are when they call you – and that is what you must change.

 

  • Teach Existing Customers Something New Every Single Day:   Some of the best sales reps in the world don’t like the leads they get today.  They really don’t.  The leads they get today as I’ve said are often folks who have so much research available to them that by the time they contact you – you’re just a talking head sometimes confirming stuff they already know.   The best sales people create their own leads.  They educate and teach before the need arises or do so in such a way that they create the need and therefore are front and center playing the role of a human (and way more engaging) source of research and information than the web.  And they teach about new products and services for sure but in such a way that they are problems solvers and industry challenge averters and hurdles faced but that help to succeed.    Maybe you’re in the lead generation business in your role, maybe you are in the closing end of it too.  It makes no difference – teach, teach, and then teach some more.

 

  • Be a Story Teller:  You know what doesn’t work all that well on the web?  Customer Testimonials.  They really don’t.  No offense to any of the talented marketing folks who nurture, create and publish testimonials.  Some are effective for sure; some are even emotionally moving videos about using a product.  But by and large, the quotes, the blurbs and the statements supporting the products and services on a website or brochure are let’s be honest, not always believed to be credible to the prospect.  But a story told by a real sales person like you who had a real interaction with a real customer who better yet,  looks a lot like the prospect you are talking to;  A story told well that way – now that has influence!   Get good at telling stories.  You all have them.   You have those real success stories with real customers.  (Bonus tip; Fit your story into the Hero model for greatest impact;  1) the customer who feared/resisted change or was down on their luck 2) took the leap of faith 3) ran into some unexpected challenges 4) recommitted to the effort 5) achieved mastery and had awesome results!).  Story telling was never part of anyone’s sales training class – that I can assure you; but it darn well should be now!

 

Times change.  Technology changes.  Buying processes change.   Make sure you are too.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Big Data Done Small

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I just just landed in DC for a learning conference but Patrick our flight attendant, already taught me something awesome about using Big Data for a Wow experience

 

 

 

Seriously, Which Is Better?

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Somebody walks into your shop or calls you.  You can ask a series of silly questions or a wicked awesome one.  Which will you do?    First of a series on the topic!

 

 

 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

Mark’s Blog

Mark’s Twitter

Platinum Question(s) Are Better

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platinum

Longer post today, but I think worth it.   Scroll worthy for sure – maybe even print worthy.  Hang in till the end but only if you want to be more successful.    

If you are in sales or marketing, you’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase the “Golden question”.  It’s usually a crafted discovery question in which the answer tells you the sales person, whether the client or prospect is “ripe” for a sale, cross sell or upsell. 

Golden questions are fine.  Many aren’t that golden however.  [Although I do remember one from a pet supply mail order company where the agent asks the inbound caller “Are you going to get little (insert pet name here) something for Christmas this year?” and if the caller says “yes” – then release the hounds ( pardon the pun) of sales pitches, cross sells and upsells now!!!  That one wasn’t bad.]

Golden questions are fine but have drawbacks.  They usually come out of no where, reek of “Here comes the sales pitch” and have no perceived immediate value to the customer or prospect that has to answer them.   Platinum questions are much better. 

Platinum questions are a term I use for questions that give you the same valuable information as a golden question but do so in such a way that does not raise sales tension or customer fatigue in the interaction. 

In more detail … Platinum questions are presumptive discovery questions that make sense to the customer or prospect. They make sense because the answers are beneficial to them and the reason they called, stopped by or visited your site.  In addition, Platinum questions give you the seller, vital information and credibility to leverage and transition from in the sales process. 

That’s a mouthful so let’s put it to real life.  Let’s say you work in a print shop that does lots of things for a small business like a wide range of print, to designing logos, to providing websites, to offering online marketing products etc etc.

In walks a customer who wants to reorder some business cards.  Perfect.  Now, you could do what you’ve always done and say “Is everything staying the same on these on these cards?” and then (unless you feel like getting rejected) you could start pitching all of your other services.

Or you could ask a Platinum question or two.

  • “You’re ordering more business cards.. Great. Since you last ordered these have you made any changes to your website, your email address or social media sites you use for the business?”

Anything the customer answers is valuable.   Even the simple “No – nothing’s changed” (which tells you a lot) to “Um…I don’t have a website yet” to “..What social media sites do you mean?” to just asking “Why do you ask?”  are awesome answers.

And the answer to “Why do you ask?” of course is the truth – you ask because you are a pro and know that many small businesses put their website address via a QR code and all their Twitter/LinkedIn/FaceBookr logos on the business cards these days (I’ve even seen them on printed checks).  So these questions make sense to the customer as to why you are asking them – these questions are in their interest to help you get this business card order done just right.   And the answers give you amazing, as good as golden information with half the pain. 

Here’s the real beauty of the question; It’s presumptive ( “…have you made any changes?”)  – it assumes the client already has a website and uses social media generously.  You ask it like you’ve been there before and that other small businesses do this all the time.  That’s brilliant on your part because you are educating and teaching at the same time.  It also tells you in an instant; (in a way that does not sales stress or fatigue the customer) whether they even have a website (or ever thought of a QR code)  and how they feel or don’t feel about online marketing (i.e. if they use social media for business that’s a good hint they may have interest in focusing more calories there).  In so many ways, you have a painless transition point to talk about other services much more easily than by just pitching and praying.

You’re not done with Platinum questions just yet in your print shop.  Let’s go for two.   

  • “Any major changes in your business since last time you ordered business cards – any new services, products or anything?”

 “Why do you ask?”

  •  “Oh, well sometimes folks want to call it out on their business cards, or even update their logos to reflect the changes”.

Ding Ding.  You get it.  You asked a presumptive question in the interest of the client’s need to get the business cards done right. Makes perfect sense.  And you learned if you have inertia to talk about a logo refresh.

Platinum questions take some crafting- so do those supposed Golden questions.  But Platinum is soooo much better.

It doesn’t matter if you sell forklifts for a living and are moving into propane delivery services or maybe you sell commercial insurance and are branching into risk and compliance consulting – when those customers call you for maintenance or to renew policies- you’ll have crafted those Platinum questions optimizing the customers current need and setting the stage for further help and sales.

It doesn’t matter if you are in customer service or technical support and have some obligation to upsell or generate leads – crafting Platinum questions works perfectly well here too.  Those discovery questions that help the client get their problem fixed well but tell you much about them and lead to great sales conversations are doable (I know, I’ve helped craft them before). 

In the end, you don’t have to do Platinum questions and can continue to do discovery the old fashioned painful way:  ‘Do you have a website?” “Ever thought of updating your logo”?  or “Who is your current propane delivery provider?” You can do that and raise sales tension, customer fatigue and get what you’ve always got right up to through your golden years.

Or, you can spend time right now by yourself or with your team – and go Platinum. 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

Mark’s Blog

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2 Videos, 3 Minutes and Grow The Business

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Two very short videos today.  One about doing something way better than the phrase “How I can help you?” and the other about the power of not always having the answer!  Take the 3 minutes and apply right away.  Business growth ahead! 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

Mark’s Blog

Mark’s Twitter

Funny Bus(y)ness

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Bumpus a.k.a. Snowball?

Bumpus a.k.a. Snowball?

Funny Bus(y)ness

It’s Friday and it has been a very busy week.  Time for something fun.  

Funny things happen when you’re really busy.   It’s true.   So here’s to this week’s funny moments (mine anyway), for they are precious levity in the crazy busy times.  Maybe a bit of levity for you too.

  • I so badly butchered the word “glorious” sending an email on my IPhone, that it autocorrected and sent as “halitosis” as in “Your daughter’s wedding must have been a halitosis day!”  The guy is only a valued partner of my company is all.
  • On Monday, there was a project kick – off meeting in the morning and then seriously, the first project meeting for that same project, was 5 hours later.
  • “Did Snowball go potty recently?” I asked my wife Tuesday night as I walked downstairs toward the back door.  Our dog’s name is Bumpus.  I don’t have, never had, and never will have an animal named Snowball or beach ball or butter ball.  And just look at him, makes no sense.
  • I watched “Bridezillas” by accident.  I don’t think I realized what was happening as I stared at theTV.    I’m feeling better now, thank you.  Though some things, once you see them, you cannot unsee them.
  • On a conference call with about 11 people Wednesday, a beep came on and the meeting owner actually said  “ I think someone else just joined the call, if you need to tell us who you are you can,  but we are gonna just keep going….’ 
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran for dinner Wednesday night.  Yes, it was awesome. 
  • In less than 2 hours Thursday my team created a 3 minute quality training video for hundreds of employees from concept, to design, to development, to production and delivery all with imagery, animation, voice over, and video because…..that’s what was needed. (Nothing funny here (except the timeline!) – (Shout out to simply the best L&D team in the history of the world!)

That’s my week (so far).  I think it would be awesome if you share some of your signs of a busy week – that would be fun today. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

Mark’s Blog

Mark’s Twitter

1 Minute Helpful Videos Anyone?

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I’m experimenting with a new media but with the same goal of giving you something to help.   I’m a little addicted to it I admit this week while traveling.   So two for you today.

3 Powerful Words and How to Avoid Sales Pain in the Shower.  How can you resist?  

If they help you grow your business even a little bit, that would be (as we say where I’m from), wicked awesome!  Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

 Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

Mark’s Blog

Mark’s Twitter