Tag Archives: b2b sales

Be Mindful of Their Time

Some years ago, a rep popped in to give me a quote. Even though I mentioned at least 5 times how hectically busy I was, he still engaged in story after story about his wife, kids, old school pals and more. Almost an hour later, I was literally hopping from foot to foot and finally had to politely edge him closer to the door in order to “escape”.

As a sales professional, do you really want your customer to be praying that you’d just shut up and leave? Do you really want them to start avoiding taking your calls? Or when a customer sees your car pull up unexpectedly, would you want her to quickly hide in the storeroom to avoid spending 2 hours with you?

As Jill Konrath so aptly describes, customers and prospects are ‘crazy-busy’ at the best of times. They don’t have time to waste. Especially the real decision-makers.

Sharper Buyers, Sharper Sellers

Buyer diceI was chatting to a senior procurement manager recently. When he asked me what I did for a living and I said that I helped business owners and sales managers sort out their sales challenges, he laughed and said that he hoped that my work didn’t include ‘hard-sell’ sales training. Intrigued, I asked him to elaborate.

He said that he can sum up a salesperson from the minute they walk into his office. Some take ”the look to see what I can make small talk about” approach whilst others immediately whip out their laptops and presentation folders to start their “show and tell”.  He said if he picked up that they hadn’t done their research ahead of the meeting, he’d politely end the meeting within 10 minutes.

I smiled wryly because it just reinforced my thinking that many procurement folks have wised up to the ‘same old, same old’ style of selling. If you’ve been reading the SalesBrief for a while, you might recall that I’ve mentioned a training course for procurement people that specifically addresses how to outsell and negotiate with the average salesperson. That was 8 years ago. Imagine how many more South African buyers have attended that programme since.

So ditch the 15 alternative closes, drop the contrived approach and just be authentic. Sure, you have to ask for the order at the right time. Sure, there is a sales process that should be followed but not in such a way that you look and sound like a Sales 101 robot. Nowadays, the chances of getting five yeses in a row as a way to close a deal are getting slimmer and slimmer. Why? Because the person on the other side of the desk could be well aware that this is a staged and/or manipulative sales approach. As a result, you could personally be viewed in a negative light.

In 2015, selling is about the customer, their needs, their challenges and the way they buy. That’s the part of the ‘sales approach’ that needs your focus.

Integrity, authenticity and collaboration rules. Buyers are sharp.

The Role of Trust in Sales

As Sales Managers, we are entrusted with a team of individuals who have faith in use and depend on us to lead, manage and guide them to success in their sales careers. People mostly rise to the expectations we have of them. In what ways do you instil confidence, trust and belief in your team to deliver results.

And by the same token, as salespeople, what ways do we instil confidence, trust and belief in our sales manager that we will deliver results?

Set Your Salespeople Free … To SELL

What’s your current sales team set-up based on?

Is it …

# 1 : Each sales rep being essentially self-sufficient i.e. get their clients, keep the clients and do all that needs to be done, including process the order and collect the payment?

Or is it …

# 2: Configuring your sales “production” process much like you would in manufacturing/factory environment?

I favour the latter. For years, I’ve been calling for companies to start isolating sales tasks and activities and to set up individuals to manage this for the external sales team. Specifically when it comes to sales research (aka qualifying new prospects and opportunities). By doing this, you will free up your external sales team to do what they were employed to do – be out there, all day, every day seeing quality new prospects and making meaningful appointments.

Ten years ago, I thought we would be seeing job ads posted on LinkedIn and on career portals for specialist “Sales Researchers”within a few years. People whose job it is to literally tee-up potential opportunities from prospects as well as existing clients. People whose job it is to stay on top of all new developments in market verticals. People whose job it is to provide insights to the external sales team who in turn use the information to provide even more value to customers.

But this has not happened. We are nearly all still stuck with outdated sales thinking which requires a salesperson to manage the entire sales process on their own – even dragging them into pre-sales social media marketing and post-sales customer care responsibilities too .

Justin Roff-Marsh, based in Australia is the guru behind re-engineering the sales process. I highly recommend that you take a look at his work. This ‘division-of-labour’ principle is working wonders for many companies around the world. Sales have soared and costs have plunged.

In simple terms, the system is based on separating the admin of sales from the face-to-face of sales. And then going further by employing internally-based specialists for every phase of the sales process.

When you release your sales executives from having to do all of their own pre- and post sales admin and shift most of the account management/customer service activities to a slick in-house support team, your sales will increase.

Remember To Dump Your 2012 Sales Baggage

There’s no use in holding onto old sales baggage. Whilst it’s best to do a mental sales “detox” on a daily basis, sometimes we forget and before we know it, we’re carrying a whole load of sales junk that weighs us down mentally. It’s a sure way to dampen our spirit and enthusiasm for this brilliant career path we’re on. Selling is as fun, exciting, interesting and rewarding as we make it.

So forget the orders that didn’t happen, the delivery frustrations, the missing documents, the duff up with the commission calculations and all those little things that can side-track us from doing what we love – being in front of prospects and clients, trying to help them to offer a better service or product to their customers.

Start 2013 off on a clean sales slate. Dump last year’s B2B sales trash and take only the lessons learned and the very best memories into the New Year.

Here’s to Your Abundant Sales Success in 2013 – we’re with you all the way.