• Too Much Product Knowledge can cost you

    If you’re like most sales professionals, you work hard to learn as much as you can about your product or service. You take pride in how much you know about your business. When you can answer any technical question that might come up in a call with a prospect, you feel confident. That’s only natural.

    But as important as it is to be knowledgeable, your eagerness to display that knowledge can damage a relationship and cost you sales.

    To avoid this problem, you need to remember that expertise can be intimidating. It can turn people off.

    Using technical terminology, for example, can leave one of two impressions. First, the use of buzzwords or industry-speak can make some prospects suspect you’re bluffing. They can think you are showing off and using language you don’t really understand yourself.

    Second, it can give the impression that you really do know what you’re talking about, which makes the prospect can feel at a disadvantage.

    In both cases, you’ve made your prospect feel uncomfortable, and someone who is uncomfortable is not likely to make the emotional investment necessary to build the relationship and buy the product.

    If prospects really don’t understand what you’re saying, they probably won’t ask questions. That’s because they don’t want to admit their ignorance, which your expertise has brought to light. (Who really likes to ask for directions?)

    Remember, too, that discomfort is a kind of pain. You’ve come to remove a prospect’s pain-the secret of all sales-but you’ve only created more of it.

    Prospects placed in a potentially embarrassing position are likely to remove that pain themselves by removing you. They’ll say they are impressed with your company and ask you to leave some printed information, and show you to the door. They’ll promise to review the material and get back to you, but the chances this will happen are slim.

    If you don’t protect the prospect’s fragile self-esteem, you will not make the sale.

    It’s never a bad thing to be the smartest person in a room. But if you want to make sales, you probably shouldn’t act like you are.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • Farewell Star of LinkedIn

    Maybe you hadn’t noticed the star on some LinkedIn profiles. And now it’s too late.

    Until 25 Feb, there’s a small star on your 1st degree connections, and other profiles under the photo in the top section of profiles on LinkedIn by the word relationship. Your 1st degree connections are automatically saved to your LinkedIn Contacts when you connect to them.

    Contacts in your email address books and other sources are also saved when you sync them.

    Why does it matter?

    That Star was particularly useful because you could save profiles that are not your connections by just clicking the Star icon in the top section of the profile under their photo. The word Relationship would appear next to the star for saved contacts.

    On 25 Feb that Star is disappearing. LinkedIn are “retiring” the Star and the Save to Contacts feature. You’ll still be able access all of the Contacts you’ve previously saved by going to your Connections list, choosing the Filter By Tag option, and selecting the Saved Contacts tag.

    So get a move on today if there’s anyone you want to track without paying.

    Why are they removing it?

    It was a really useful feature – which most people didn’t use. I’m not surprised that LinkedIn are removing it – they need to pay the bills. And that means encouraging us to use their premium services.

    What do we use instead?

    We recommend Sales Navigator – if you are doing any business development or sales. LinkedIn is a great tool – when you know what you are doing. And when you do you LinkedIn prospecting regularly. Just having a profile and connecting with people you meet is not a prospecting activity. It’s essential to moving LinkedIn prospects off line and qualify them by phone for face to face meeting with you to get payback for the monthly fees and the time you invest.

    You can learn more about making LinkedIn work for you in the book we wrote with LinkedIn – [ download your copy here]. You’ll get the practical steps for prospecting – which work really well with Sales Navigator.

    And if you want to find out why we train LinkedIn, Salesforce and other global blue chip companies as well as all sizes of businesses across the UK, sign up for one of our Executive Briefings across the UK here you can find details or our training centres here: http://www.uk.sandler.com/locator/?country=GB  

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies runs Sandler Training in East Anglia with monthly Master Classes in Norwich

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  • How Sales Professional are like Shrinks

    We don’t ordinarily think of sales as one of the “helping professions,” but maybe we should. People tell their problems to psychologists. They pour out their hearts to their local hairdresser/barber. But they tell their troubles to sales professionals, too, so we should develop our “helping profession” skills.

    I have often noticed, when a sales pitch is going well, how the conversation resembles what I understand a therapeutic session to be like. That is the way it should be, if the salesperson knows what he or she is doing.

    For one thing, there are times when-acting as a counsellor might-it is best to answer a question with a question. It’s even important to pause thoughtfully after a question has been asked, which isn’t easy for salespeople. Many are fast talkers, eager to make their sale as quickly as possible. That’s a mistake.

    It’s important, before answering a question, to know why it’s being asked. The only way to find out is to follow with a question of your own.

    Let’s say you’re selling an ad agency’s services to a restaurant chain, and the potential client asks how much experience you have with restaurants. Too many salespersons, without bothering to find out why the client wants to know, immediately answer by quoting the huge number of restaurant accounts the agency has handled.

    When they are done, the prospect says, “Well, I hope you aren’t planning to present me with recycled ideas.”

    Now the salesperson is cooked. If he had asked why the prospect was asking about his experience, he might have learned how important it is for the restaurant to be seen as unique.

    Answering questions with questions allows you to learn as much as possible about the prospect’s needs so that when you do respond with definitive answers, they are the right ones.

    There’s at least one other reason to take a therapeutic approach to sales calls. They create an atmosphere in which the prospect is likely to talk about the problems their business faces-that is, their pain.

    Once you understand their pain, you can explain how your product or service will remove it.

    Approach your sales calls this way, and you’ll make friends and sales.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • Turn Bad Times to Your Benefit

    Yes, sales at the big stores are awful. The housing market in many areas is lousy. Consumer confidence is weak and may be even weaker by the time you read this. I don’t disagree with any of that. Facts are facts.

    What I do take issue with is the notion that this can’t be a time of strong productivity for the sales professional. It can be and should be a great time, no matter how discouraging the economic indicators may be.

    Pessimism may be contagious, but it shouldn’t be.

    There are at least two reasons this should be a period of profit and productivity for the savvy sales professional.

    First, most sales people are paralyzed in today’s environment. They don’t have a system for success and, facing a difficult environment, are only reactive. They’re shot-gunning their efforts. If you have a process or system, and you trust it and embrace it, you enjoy a distinct advantage over other sales people.

    Second, you need to identify the real issues facing decision makers in this environment. When you have identified those issues, you will be able to position your product or service so that your prospects must have it to resolve the problems they face. Most CEOs right now are trying to streamline processes, decrease expenses and increase revenues. So you will need to help them discover that your product or service is necessary to their success in meeting those goals. That’s how you distinguish your product or service. It goes from being a nice-to-have to a need-to-have.

    This is not a time to talk about your product or service’s features. This is a time for a pain-based approach. You need to identify your prospect’s pain and demonstrate how what you are selling removes that pain.

    Here’s why the prospect’s discomfort works to your benefit. A lot of expert salespeople have never learned this, but successful sales depend less on the sales professionals’ ability to talk rather than on their ability to listen. (Many sales people who rely almost exclusively on their own gift of selling tend to burn out quickly and needlessly.)

    The secret of selling lies in getting prospects to talk about their pain. That’s because the way to make a sale is to identify the prospect’s discomfort and then to show how the product or service you are selling makes that discomfort go away. Simple, isn’t it?

    And it is in down times like these that prospects are most likely to speak with the greatest honesty about the problems they face. Sometimes they will pour their hearts out to you, which is not often the case when they’re flying high.

    Plus, they’ve got the time. Now it’s up to you to seize it.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • Slash the Sales Cycle!

    Are you:

    • Fed up chasing prospects, clients even?
    • Frustrated that your people tell you “It’s in the pipeline” and then that pipeline gets longer and longer?
    • Furious that deals slip from one period to the next?
    • Annoyed by the number of proposals it needs to get one decent client?
    • Worried that the longer it takes for the client to make a decision the more likely it is they won’t do business, and yet often there is too much invested to let go?

    Why do we business people allow the sales cycle to take so long? It is, after all, usually our fault whenever these challenges arise.

    If the client or prospect is taking too long to make a decision, then either they do not have the decision-making power we thought or they are holding us off to compare with alternatives (including doing nothing) or they were never really interested in the first place. If we allow that to happen then we must, at least, have the courtesy of helping them make a decision by offering to close their file.

    If we are not in direct control of the timings but we are dependent on people that we have hired to make it happen and the timing gets longer and longer, then either they have not been in control of the sale or they are not being honest. That lack of honesty could be as much about fooling themselves as it is about wanting to duck the difficult truth that the deal was not a good enough match to start with when they first reported it to us.

    Perhaps we encourage ourselves and our people to throw lots of quotes and proposals at the problem of long sales cycles. “Quote and hope” as we cynically call it. If we do enough presentations, somebody must surely sign up at some time, if only by accident. A formula, however, for huge amounts of wasted resources and time.

    When a deal is taking longer and longer to close and the prospective client wants more and more detail and tweaks, (the deal stopped being good for us some time ago) we cannot afford to back out, so we have to keep going just to recoup our losses. Much better to have worked out very early that there was not a profitable enough match. But that means being open to leaving the potential deal at any stage. Hard to do, particularly when the numbers look nice. But experience tells us those numbers can look a whole lot different once the juice has been extracted by the potential client.

    Some sales cycles, however, are just going to be long. So long as we know precisely where we are, what needs to happen next and then next, we have all the right decision makers all going the right way, we can weave our path through to a successful conclusion. For that, we need strategies, tools and techniques for complex selling or “enterprise selling”.  At Sandler, we have 13 tools to guide through 6 stages of a complex sale. They make sure we stay on track and invest the right amount of resources and credence, keeping the sales cycle as short as it can possibly be.

    So the sales cycle length is often largely down to us. Not the potential client. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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