Infocusselling’s Blog

February 14, 2010

Doctorate Study on Sales Practices

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 12:57 pm
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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.

September 27, 2009

Putting Our Mouth in front of Your Money

Filed under: ACTUM Group — Educated and Aware @ 4:23 pm
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23% Off is one thing. 23% In is quite another.

Our belief in our economy has been proven over the past year. We are clearly rebounding due to good old fashioned hard work. Some segments remain pretty tough but no industry has disappeared. As our economy turns around, those who plot the right course now will grow during this blip and come out geometrically stronger than their competition—some of whom will not make it out at all. To grow a business now means taking market share from the competition. It happens every day and you can be on the winning end or losing end—it’s your choice.

We believe in ourselves. We know the last thing people are doing right now is looking for places to spend money, regardless of how bad their sales trend is. But the bottom line is your sales skills have never been more important. The more competition you have, the more you have to out sell them. Our track record tells us that when our clients show up, pay attention, apply and integrate new behaviors and tactics, amazing things happen. We’re confident that record will continue.

We want to believe in you. We are looking for up to 20 sales people, teams or individuals, who want to be high earning sales professionals but right now are more like struggling sales workers. If you want to be a successful sales professional, or if you want your team to be successful, we’re willing to let you go 23% in and we’ll earn the rest. That’s right. You invest only 23% of our normal training fees, and we’ll get paid more only if we can change your sales results. Email us at jeffbowe@actumgroup.com to find out how to get started

I bet you and your team get paid for results, why shouldn’t your sales trainer?

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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 4:10 pm
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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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July 2, 2009

Halftime

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 11:32 pm
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July means we are more than half through 2009. Amazing or not, it’s true. When sports teams go into the locker room at halftime, they regroup and rethink their second half strategy. Whether or not you like sports, we should learn from them and ask when you look at your first half performance, what do you need to change for the second half to win the 2009 game?

Good strategists look at offense and defense. Offense is what you are doing to get in touch with your target market and how you are actively converting prospects to customers. Your strategic change is what you are going to do differently to get in front of more prospects. What are you going to do differently to convert more prospects to clients? Look at your sales activity and identify the weak link. If you have more than one weak, pick the most important two aspects and address them. Don’t try to change more than two aspects of your sales process at one time. If you try to tackle too many things at one time in your sales process, you will most likely end up not doing any of them…and you will finish 2009 the same way you are at halftime.

Defense is what you do to protect your market from competitors. Are you losing projects that you should get? How and where are they beating you? What do you need to do to alter that balance? Just like changes to your offense, defensive strategy is to identify the one or two things that you need to do to re-position yourself so that you are in a stronger position relative to your competitor. Don’t try to change too many things or again, you’ll end up 2009 the same place you are at halftime.

Your game is sales and your goal is to sell the volume you projected in January. The good news is, no matter where you are today, you have the time to still win the game. Strategists, like winners, act, evaluate, adjust, move forward, and repeat the cycle. Be a strategist, be a winner.

June 17, 2009

Going Too Far: Appreciation, Incentive, or Inducement?

I recently heard a speaker (David Steele) comment about changes in selling today. He commented that in the past, expensive dinners, golf trips, and high priced tickets were the norm. I know from experience that unless a new car showed up in a driveway or a rep’s beach condo was used by a customer for vacation, no one really gave much thought to corporate gift giving. But today, expensive dinners, golf trips, and front row ticket are much less common. Have the rules changed? And if so, is it due to the economics of business that no longer allow fat margins to cover gifts, or have the ethics of business changed so that the potential impropriety of gifts given in anticipation of or as a thank you for business is no longer acceptable?

When a gift is given, what is the intent? Does the timing matter—a gift given before or after an order? A gift given before a purchase is likely intended to sway a decision than one given after, unless there was a promise of such a gift made during the sales process. Does it matter who initiated the conversation? The seller could say, “I’ve got tickets to the finals every year, and I always take my newest account. I hope you can get this order placed so it can be you.” If so, that could be construed as an inducement. But a buyer could also say, “I want to go to the playoffs this year, and last year my supplier got me tickets. Do you think you can do the same?” This could imply a requirement to the seller as part of the purchase decision, an intent by the customer to extort special favors as a result of his or her discretionary purchasing power.

What about on-going customers? Do we give gifts to on-going customers to maintain their business, or to sincerely thank them for being loyal and supportive to us? Who is more valuable? The first time buyer or the repeat buyer? Sure you have to get the first order to get to the second order, but think how much easier it is when you have on-going customers instead of a long list of one hit wonders. If we only give gifts to repeat buyers, does that look more like a sincere thank you and less like a blatant inducement?

In the end, it comes down to intent. What is the intent of the buyer and what is the intent of the seller. If the intent is to influence a decision, it sounds questionable. If it is done post order and the buyer didn’t know it was coming, it sounds more sincere. I can’t answer the question for anyone but myself, but I’m noticing a change in trend that might mark a new direction in buyer/seller expectations.

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April 6, 2009

Sales Management 2009: Even More Necessary Today

I was writing about sales management for this newsletter when I found others writing around the same topic. It looks like we are all onto something. This person talks about what is needed in a sales manager Hiring a Sales Manager.

Here is what you must get from your sales management function today:

  • strategic direction-how to create the maximum short and long term impact in your market in a niche that is underserved yet highly profitable
  • skills coaching and training-continually honing phone skills to get appointments and appointment skills to get commitments
  • performance mentoring-keeping salespeople motivated and working at their peak
  • feedback to top management-sales and marketing issues need to be fleshed out and communicated
  • ride along support-coaching the team in real time to get more commitments from more prospects.

The last numbers from Career Builder Salary Research showed that an average sales manager carries a salary over $85,000 and a top one costs over $130,000 plus benefits. For that kind of money, hold your sales manager accountable for results. What are they doing on each bullet point above? Every bullet point is critical-there’s no room for second rate today.

But what if your team is small and you can’t afford and don’t really need a 40-60 hour per week sales manager? Is the performance of your team any less important?

Even if you do not have a full time sales manager, someone needs to perform the functions listed above. Every sales team from 1 person to 1000 people needs direction and training. Several years ago I wrote about outsourcing as a strategy Outsourcing Inc. Today, outsourcing is more critical as companies look for ways to conserve cash yet have access the specific skills needed to grow a business. CRM Magazine wrote that outsourced sales training is more effective than internal sales training Outsourced Sales Training. It makes sense that a sales trainer who is engaged in full time training is going to be more effective than someone who does it 5-10% of the time.

ACTUM Group specializes in helping salespeople and sales teams reach and exceed their potential. If your team needs more direction and it seems to be missing the skills to get appointments and clients today, we should talk. We can provide sales management skills for the exact number of hours you need each week, without incurring the high overhead of full time employment. Call us at 577-3750 or email us at jeffbowe@actumgroup.com to tell us what you need to make this your best year yet.

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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.

Click here to print this out as an article.

February 19, 2009

ACTUM Group Perspective Archive

New to INFOCUS Selling or ACTUM Group?  Or missed a few issues of our information packed monthly newsletter?

Click here to check out back issues of The ACTUM Group Perspective newsletter.

January 5, 2009

Resisting an Invitation to Give Away a Quarter Million Bucks

Article by Chris McEvoy

Setting the stage, back a few years, when I’m president of PALLM, Inc., an Indy-based insurance software company.

 It was the English chap on the phone from Tokyo.

“Good news, you got the deal! They’re OK with your pricing. They want you to bring a technical person to Tokyo to present to the computer geeks while you finalize the deal.”

Continued…

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