Infocusselling’s Blog

August 11, 2009

Selling Today is Simple

I made this comment while speaking at a Rainmakers event and I got some raised eyebrows from some very tired salespeople. I said that selling involves three simple steps, and I believe that to be true. Here are the three steps.

First, meet more people. By meet, I don’t mean LinkedIn or Facebook friends. I mean meet more people face to face. When you are growing a business, you are the brand whether you are the owner or a salesperson. You are the face and your face needs to be everywhere. The more people you meet, the more people will know you and your company, and the more people who will be prospects for your offering.

Second, meet with more people. By meet with, I mean face to face, one on one, in a location where you can have a serious discussion without interruptions. You cannot have the type of discussions you need to grow your business in a room full of people, or over the telephone, and definitely not via email. Get out of your office—and your comfort zone—and have sales appointments. Sales is a contact sport so get make contact with your prospects.

Third, have simple conversations with the people you meet. Too many business owners and sales people talk about their business using techno-jargon that doesn’t mean anything to the prospect. Forget terms that mean something only to an expert like you. You must be able to break your business down to a simple result statement. “We help our clients become filthy, stinking, rich.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that! Ask simple questions and use examples that any high school graduate should be able to understand. “What about your computer bothers you the most?” I can’t tell you about DRAM and registry errors but I can sure tell you that taking five minutes to boot up is a real pain in my day. Build your credibility by asking questions that only an expert would know to ask, and by providing answers in a way that anyone can understand.

Selling today is simpler than ever. Let your competitors focus on being part of the noise. You need to take the path they have forgotten—meet people, meet with people, and have simple conversations.

Advertisements

April 16, 2009

When Sales Are Down, Do We Really Want to Reduce the Team?

Ran across this great post from another smart person! Why when sales are down, do companies cut the size of the sales team?

Who is Running the Sales Effort?

If  you have the wrong players, that’s different. But this is MARKET SHARE time! Go take market share now, and as your industry turns, you will experience incredibly rapid growth.

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.

To Print this as an Article Click Here

How Much Networking is Too Much Networking?

Is it possible to network too much? It depends. We’ve talked here before about how to network and where to network, but not about how much to network. Can you overdo it? Let’s go back to how networking is part of sales strategy and process.

Sales starts with identifying a prospect. For most people, networking is a way to avoid cold calling to identify prospects which is a pretty good reason to network. Cold calling will never be as effective as receiving a phone call from someone who got your name from a networking partner who said you were the person to solve their pressing need. Networking is a tactical way to meet prospects and contacts who can fill your schedule with pre-qualified prospects who want to talk with you.

We network to start the sales process, not get in the way of it. I had a client tell me one time that he was too busy networking to set sales appointments. That’s backwards and very dangerous. You should network as much as it takes to meet enough people to fill your sales schedule—and no more. If you are networking so much that you cannot follow up in a timely fashion, then you are probably not taking advantage of maximizing your new contacts. If you are having trouble fitting sales calls in between your networking meetings, then you are definitely putting the emphasis on the wrong activity. Remember, we network to meet prospects and contacts because without them, it’s really hard to make that monthly sales quota.

To Print this as an Article Click Here

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 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.

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.

February 3, 2009

When Networking Isn’t Working

Article by Jeff Bowe

“I can’t sell when I network, I’m there to build relationships.”

“I have lots of one on ones, but no one I meet is a prospect.”

“I network all the time but I just don’t get anything out of it.”

At the risk of upsetting a very large apple cart, it’s time to debunk some myths about networking.

Continued…

January 5, 2009

Superheroes and Perceived Expertise

Recently we talked about superheroes having arch enemies that consume the majority of their time and attention. Who is your arch enemy? What is in the way or between you and wild financial success?

When you identify one major roadblock or one major enemy between you and unbridled financial success, you can focus all of your attention on that roadblock or enemy.  It sounds simple and it really is. Success is not about being the smartest person in the world. Success is about being known as the most effective person at solving one specific need or problem better than anyone else. In fact, Jerry Garcia said it well. “It is not enough to be the best at what you do, you must be perceived as the only one who does what you do.”

Thirty-six years ago my mom met Dr. King. Dr. King was known as the best nephrologist in Indianapolis. Dr. Leroy King I am sure he knew a few things about arthritis and cancer and viruses, but his specialty—what he was known for—was nephrology. His expertise is what drew my mom to him. She didn’t care that he understood migraines or high blood pressure or hang nails. She went to him because he was the expert in nephrology. Nothing else mattered—she knew his focus and was willing to pay the price for that focused expertise because of her need.

Do you have people flocking to your business because of your narrow area of perceived expertise? Do people seek you out because you can solve their problem better than anyone else? Have you spent the time and energy in one area to become known as the expert in solving one burning issue or one need or one problem better than anyone else? Can you solve one problem better than anyone else? If not, then that might be part of your problem. Would you hire #2 if you could work with #1? But more important than reality, is perception. If you are perceived as #1, that perception becomes reality for your prospects.

At this time of year, the most important part of strategic planning is to know where you will sell next year, and to focus all of your attention on being become known as the expert in that field. The smaller the field, the better and more profitable, as the most profitable specialists are always those with the narrowest field and the highest level of perceived expertise in that narrow field of need. There is too much to know in the world today to be a world class expert in a wide range of fields. My mom never asked Dr. King about cost or about how to solve other medical issues.  She sought out and paid Dr. King bills because he was the expert in nephrology and she had a very specific need for that very specific expertise.

Put in your plan now how to become perceived as a world class expert in a narrow field—and you will make world class income from a shorter list of prospects and clients who are suffering from on the one problem you are perceived to be best person solve.

December 2, 2008

Never Make Your Prospects Lie

Never Make Your Prospects Lie

by Jeff Bowe

Have you ever been asked a question when buying something that prompted you to lie while answering? Not a big lie, just a little one. I am guessing you have and I bet the question was, “Are you the decision maker for this purchase?” You probably said “yes” even though you knew you had to consult with someone else.

When you ask your prospects the same question, you are begging them to lie to you in exactly the same way. This isn’t a great way to start a relationship nor does it give you the information you need to make a sale. Let’s look at why this is such a dangerous question.

Continued…

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.