Infocusselling’s Blog

February 14, 2010

Doctorate Study on Sales Practices

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This is a study on sales practices being conducted as part of my doctorate program. We are collecting data from a wide set of people, including those in sales and those who are not in sales, on how they view various sales practices. If you would go to the link below and complete our survey, we (the authors and researchers) would greatly appreciate it.

Sales Practices Survey

Thanks in advance for your time and feel free to forward the survey to other friends and associates.

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November 29, 2009

2010 Fast Track Sales Training for Doctoral Project

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 10:07 pm
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Along with all of my consulting and training, I am well into a doctorate in marketing with a research emphasis of sales process and sales ethics. For one of my projects, I am looking for 15 sales people who want or need to increase their 2010 sales results and are willing to invest about 3 hours a week for fifteen weeks–2 hours in class and about an hour a week of homework related to sales.

Update as of Jan 4t–only 3 seats left! 15 weeks starting NOW!

This special program carries special pricing and focused content from our regular full blown sales training program.

We will cover:

DISC Communication Styles (how to read people)

Networking (how to get attention and get people to want to meet with you)

Telephone Strategies (how to get calls returned and appointments set)

The Seven Steps of the INFOCUS Selling Process:

  • Introduction
  • Name your Purpose
  • Find a Goal
  • Outline a Goal
  • Crystallize Gains and Losses
  • Uncover Blocks and Obstacles
  • Secure Final Commitment

Selling with a structured process is faster and considerably more profitable.

If you or someone you know is looking to increase your 2010 sales and personal income, this is a rare opportunity for you to take part in professional sales training that combines high level marketing with street level sales tactics that reflect today’s markets and today’s relationships.

Call me or email me for full details. We are starting now and the program completes on April 15th so act fast.

October 19, 2009

Welcome 2010!

Only 75 days to get 2010 launched towards success! Do I mean 75 days left to finish strong in 2009? That might be important, but more important is to start now on 2010. 2009 is basically over. Even if you peak in the holiday season, your product line, inventory, and marketing are probably too far along to change enough to make dramatic differences in your total 2009 results. Therefore, it’s time to focus on 2010.

      To launch 2010 strong, focus on three issues:

  1. Objectively evaluate your market for 2010. I don’t mean take 2009 and add the 40% sales increase you hope you can get. I mean look at all the economic and market indicators and very critically examine what will and will not change in 2010. Determine how big the market will be and set a sales goal that reflects reality, not stupidity. You can grow in a flat market; just look closely at issue 2 and 3 as you set that goal.
  2. Objectively evaluate your strengths in your market and know what will bring you business over your competition. This will form your marketing plan which should be implemented today.
  3. Objectively evaluate your weaknesses against the market and know what weaknesses your competition will exploit against you. This forms your development plan so that before spring comes you have minimized the opening that your competition is going to leverage for their success.

The problem with starting in January is the lag between marketing, prospecting, and gaining commitments. You have 75 days to evaluate, launch, and see immediate results in January instead of seeing the cold winter warm into the spring thaw.          

For a workshop on adding new tactics and skills to use in making 2010 the year you want and need, watch our website for the half day workshop, Launch 2010 Now!

August 11, 2009

Making the Telephone your Secret Weapon

Converting Phone Time to Profit Time

If you are calling people who are not waiting by the phone for you to call, then you need to attend. This workshop is for you!

Cold calling is nothing more than calling someone who is not waiting by the phone for your call. Ever call a referral or someone you met last week and they have no idea who you are? Not a great way to start the call! This workshop is for you!

Warm calling is calling when you think you have a referral, but find out that the referral is not as strong as you thought. Not a cold call, but darn near. This workshop is for you!

“Jeff helped me with some great phrases to improve my telemarketing skills.” Beth in Staffing

We’ll cover…

  • How often do you call?
  • When do you call?
  • What do you say if they answer?
  • Do you leave a message if they don’t?

We’ll also cover gatekeepers (a.k.a., the first decision maker), call reluctance (a.k.a., I’m not hitting my numbers and this isn’t working), working through blocks and obstacles (a.k.a., asking the wrong person for an appointment at the time), reading personality type from voice mail (a.k.a., why I prefer to reach your voicemail), and how to get appointments when you want them (a.k.a., your time is as valuable as theirs).

Basically, if you use the phone to contact prospects to get the sales appointments you need to book more business, this workshop is for you!

You will walk out with ideas, action plans, approaches, responses, and new ways to convert phone time to profit time.

September 2, 2009   2:00 pm – 4:30 pm

“Jeff is an excellent speaker and coach. His seminar on telephones has greatly boosted my confidence and has made me better prepared.” Angela in Office Furniture

Registration is FREE, but please RSVP so we can reserve a space for you as our seminars fill up quickly!

RSVP to: seminars@actumgroup.com

July 26, 2009

Selling before Negotiating?

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 10:58 am
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I read an interesting Twitter post that negotiation starts after selling stops. I respectfully disagreed and said that true sales professionals do them concurrently.

Selling is uncovering need, understanding value, and building urgency to make a buying decision. According to dictionary.com, negotiation is the “mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement.”

Let’s look at two scenarios. In one scenario, you stop selling and start negotiating which is discussing terms. This must mean that you are no longer going to mention or reflect on the prospect’s needs, or time frame of delivery, or the value that he mentioned during your selling time. You are strictly limited to discussing price, payment time frame, and delivery time frame. Any discussion of need, why it is needed, discovery of impact of various deliver schedules, or other people who might be involved are not allowed because you are done selling and are now negotiating.

In the other scenario, as you are working through your sales process, you are uncovering the value of solving the problem and the loss of value in not solving the problem at hand (the “C” part of INFOCUS™) then you move to what is in the way of solving the problem and what block or obstacle you must jointly solve or resolve before you can secure final commitment (the “U” and “S” of INFOCUS™). During this dialogue (which by definition means two people are talking), you have the prospect prioritize options and characterize implications of various delivery time frames. As you secure final commitment, you continue to discuss all of the above as you settle on the investment and delivery time frame which satisfies buyer and seller, which includes ongoing discussions of trade-off in the value the prospect sees until a final agreement is reached. No matter how well you do during “selling,” negotiation uncovers more value trade-offs which impact how much the prospect is willing to pay and, in many cases what level of service may be included after the sale.

Negotiation is about continuing the process of discovery of value and continuing to build urgency for a positive decision now, until a decision is consummated with whatever form of agreement or contract exists  in your business. If that’s not sales, then I’m really confused.

July 11, 2009

Sales Training Assignment

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Stay tuned, on Monday, July 13 there will be a special posting right here to help you focus your sales.

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June 17, 2009

When to Dump a Networking Group

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 11:37 pm
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In one of my last articles, I asked, “Is it possible to network too much?” A related question is, “Should I stop networking in this group?” Depending on what is happening, the answer may be a resounding, “Yes!”

Sales today is about being vigilant in using limited time. Most salespeople spend less than 30% of their time in active selling and less than 50% of their total time in any aspect of selling. The rest of the week is filled with travel, marketing, company meetings, training, client problem resolution, and paperwork. All of these are part of sales so we can’t get rid of them. What we can get rid of is unproductive networking time.

Networking is a sales function inside another business—the networking group is its own business with income, expenses, and they hope profit. The group exists to make money by providing the service of connections. Think the chamber of commerce isn’t a business because it’s a not for profit? Ask their president how long they could survive if they took in less money than they spent and you’ll hear the answer: not very long! Most other networking groups are for-profit businesses whose ongoing success is based upon collecting dues money from members and meeting fees from visitors.

Is that bad? Not at all. In fact, it’s very good because it makes them deliver a product that you are willing to buy. If the group is working for you, you are (or should be) happy to pay your dues. If the group isn’t working for you, then you should take your business elsewhere and the group should understand that it failed to satisfy you.

How do you know if a group is working for you? First, make a list of every networking group you work and then add up over the last six months the total number of hours you spent on that group. Include meeting time, driving time, follow up phone and email time, appointment time, one on one time—everything that took time away from you doing anything else, and get a total for each group. Next, look at your sales during the same timeframe and tie each sale to the networking group where the lead for that sale first originated. Don’t stop at one generation, but go as far back as you can trace it. Maybe Ken called you because Mary gave him your number, but if Mary got your number several months ago from Larry, and you met Larry at Networkers Inc., then Networkers, Inc. was your source. Do this for every client and then add up the number of sales dollars under each networking group. When you are done, divide sales for each group by hours for that group, and you have sales per hour invested. Finally, compare your groups.

Are some groups more valuable than others? Most likely, yes. Is one group dominant? Could be. Either way, you should reward your best group—spend more time at it, take a leadership role, expand your reach in it. Go where you are making money. At the same time, the group at the bottom of your list needs to be taken off your schedule because there are too many great opportunities out there to let a bad group take up your valuable limited time. It’s a cold, hard, objective business decision on which group to dump—the one that is giving you the lowest sales per hour. If you wish to belong to a group that does not bring you value, that’s a charitable contribution decision that falls outside of sales.

Will the group you dropped complain and try to get you to reconsider? Probably as they are a business and their continuation is contingent on receiving income from members. But, at the end of the day, your first priority is to your business. When a group is not performing, dump it and find a new one or invest more time in the groups that are really ringing the bell.

There’s a lot more we could talk about on this and if you want additional details drop me a line or give me a call. Right now, it’s time to do some cold hard number crunching.

Jeff Bowe, Principal of ACTUM Group, is a sales trainer and outsourced sales manager who focuses on helping sales people make as much as they think they are worth, while increasing corporate profit as well. For more information, Jeff can be contacted at 317-577-3750 or jeffbowe@actumgroup.com.

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March 4, 2009

Creating a Structure for Sales Success

It’s been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Experience tells me it should be, “If you fail to have a good plan, you plan to fail.”

Do you have a good plan for what happens during a sales call? That plan is to have a structured question sequence that walks a contact from beginning to end, from the introductory opening to the final commitment in getting an order. Having that plan separates a Sales Leader from a sales rep.

The acronym to use for building an effective question sequence is INFOCUS—hence the name INFOCUS Selling™. The acronym reminds us of the best sequence for your questions, giving your questions a plan and a purpose. Let’s take a look at INFOCUS Selling™, letter by letter.

I for Introduction—This initial phase introduces who you are and who you represent so that you
are not talking with a stranger, stated in a way that the other person wants to talk with you.

N for Name Your Purpose—This defining phase sets the parameters for an open dialogue
between you and your contact, that you are there to ask questions and collect information to see
whether there is a match between their needs and your offerings at some time in the future–not
that you are going to ask them to make a decision today.

F for Find a Goal—At this phase you begin to discover the desired pressing goal or overall
objective of this contact, a goal that is important to them in their world, both personally and
professionally.

O for Outline the Goal—Through this phase you help the prospect identify and explore the
details of the goal so that both you and the prospect have a full, complete, and comprehensive
understanding of the goal or objective.

C for Crystallize Gains and Losses—During this phase you have the prospect determine the
good, positive, and pretty things that will happen personally and organizationally if this goal is
achieved, and the bad, negative, and ugly things that will happen personally and organizationally
if this goal is not achieved. Together you calculate positive and negative financial values for both
achieving and failing to achieve the objective.

U for Uncover Blocks and Obstacles—In this phase you dig for what is in the way of
accomplishing the goal; what must be overcome or at a minimum handled or addressed for the
project to be successful or the goal to be achieved. This may also be the reason the goal has not
already been accomplished or achieved in the past.

S for Secure Final Commitment—This last phase is where you get the last commitment you need
to start a client/vendor relationship. When the entire process is done correctly, this is a natural
outcome and a natural progression of the questions you have asked up to this point.

These letters that spell INFOCUS™ indicate the process and sequence to take your sales from
wherever they are today to above whatever chart or goal you and your boss have devised. We
will deal with all of the letters in future postings as we dissect each step of the INFOCUS
Selling™ process.

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February 22, 2009

When Closing Seems Harder Than it Should Be

Salespeople love to close a deal. Making a sale is what you’re paid to do. Ever have trouble convincing someone to buy? No matter how hard you try, you can’t move them from “think it over” to “where do I sign?” Maybe you should stop trying to convince and close and go back to why you are there—to collect information and help them make a decision.

Sales is about a series of structured and intentional questions, not a canned pitch about features, advantages, and benefits. You cannot push your prospect to a close through talking, because you do not know what your contact needs nor do you know their value from your solution. You going in and giving a feature pitch is selling in the worst context of the word, and it will not help you gain the commitment you need to move forward.

And that is a much better word than closing—commitment. Forget about closing because closing is for doors and windows. More on that next week.

Before you go on your next call, have a plan for getting the necessary information on the table. Think about what you and your client both need to know to make sure that you are a good fit. You know your business but unless you own the other company, you don’t know their business. They are different from your last prospect and different from your next prospect. Instead of assuming what he or she wants and needs, start asking questions.

A structured question plan can help you guide the conversation so that your contact becomes a prospect at the highest dollar value and in the shortest amount of time. Your sequence walks a contact from beginning to end, from the introductory opening to the final commitment in getting an order. Having that plan separates a Sales Leader from a sales rep.

Stay tuned for more on how to create your powerful question structure using the INFOCUS Selling™ process.

November 3, 2008

Selling with Your Eyes & Ears

Selling with Your Eyes and Ears
by Jeffrey J. Bowe

Over the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to travel on sales calls with several clients. It’s always fun to watch someone in action, but it’s also frustrating to see simple lessons forgotten in the heat of the moment. If you want to have better results in your sales calls, here are three things to watch and listen for.

Continued…

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