Tag Archives: sales

Is Procrastination Good for Sales People?

By Stu Schlackman

Stu SchlackmanRemember those good ole days back in college when you knew you had finals lurking just a couple of weeks away and you committed to study a little bit each night? You promised to be disciplined and not wait to cram everything in at the last minute. And what happened? Sure enough, finals week was staring you right in the face. The proverbial all-nighter is inevitable. You are now cramming for exams and scrambling to finish your projects.

Panic sets in and you wonder how you let this happen swearing that you would be disciplined as the semester was ending.

Why do so many people wait to the last minute? Why don’t they spread their workload out over a realistic timeframe? The bottom line? We procrastinate!

Many can relate to this. Procrastination is part of human nature. We live in such a fast-paced society that forces you to juggle multiple balls on a daily basis that getting to your priorities seems to always have delay. The more output you have the more chances for originality. Click To Tweet

But while procrastination may lead to a last minute, stress-filled scramble, it also has its advantages.

Procrastination as a Positive: So what is the advantage of procrastination? The more you wait on accomplishing a project, task or creative endeavor, the more time you have for your ideas to simmer and develop. Ideas can mature in your subconscious without you realizing it. As you procrastinate you give yourself more time for ideas to mature. It serves as an incubator for your ideas.

As we amass multiple ideas in our mind, we start connecting the multiple ideas to formulate new ones. Procrastination helps this process develop.

When team members have brainstorming sessions, multiple ideas are put on the board. As we look at the ideas, we start to combine them to form new ideas. This is how creativity happens. It’s connecting the dots of multiple ideas that brings about new ones.

In other words, it leads to great achievements and innovation.

So procrastinating might not be so bad after all.

For many of you who work 50 to 60 hours a week juggling multiple accounts and opportunities, preparing a new presentation for a prospect might come down to the last minute. We kick ourselves for not being more organized in advance, but we often perform better under pressure. Also, we can expect our past experiences to kick in when we perform. Great sales people are known for thinking on their feet.

Quantity Over Quality: Sometimes quantity is better than quality. The quantity of ideas you have can lead to new ideas that are unique and creative and just might fit the customer’s need.

This makes total sense to most sales professionals. We multi-task, having many different tasks to perform for numerous accounts and that can help us be more original and creative. It’s like when your kids were playing football or any other sport; their grades were better than when they were not playing sports. You are more productive when you are busy. The more output you have the more chances for originality.

So the bottom line when preparing for a major customer presentation or developing a large proposal is to gather your team members and generate as many ideas as possible as to why you’re the right fit. Ask, “What can we communicate about our company, our value, or competitive advantage?” The more quantity of ideas, the better your chances of the quality ideas that are more original than those of the past.

As a sales professional, you are the quarterback on the team for your clients. You are responsible for touching or leading every aspect of the opportunity. You must be involved in creating the proposal, making the presentation, understanding the customer’s needs, and even understanding their credit situation. You are the go-to person for the client.

You need to leverage all your experiences to become more original. It’s been said many times that you learn more from the sales you lose than the sales you win. That’s where you gain experience. You learn from your mistakes and for the next opportunity you have more experience and insight as to what can work versus what might not work. You learn how to read customer situations as you relate them to those in the past that were similar. In other words what’s worked versus not worked.

When the pressure mounts at the last minute to get a presentation or a proposal ready for a customer, realize that all the experience you’ve acquired over the years gives you a mental advantage in preparing that you just might not realize. You never learn from mistakes you’ve never made.

The next time you’re down to the last minute in preparing for a customer, realize there might be a positive aspect in those final moments of preparation. Be open to the fact that a great idea for the customer might be just minutes away.

Good selling.

Stu Schlackman is a sales expert, accomplished speaker and the author of Four People You Should Know and Don’t Just Stand There, Sell Something. With over 25 years of success in the sales landscape, Stu provides his clients and audiences with the wisdom, techniques, and practical advice to compete and win in business and in life. For more information about Stu, please visit www.stuschlackman.com.

A Game Plan for Closing the Deal

By Joe Curcillo

Joe CurcilloYou walk out the door thanking the potential client for their time, and tell them that you will stop back in later in the year to review their needs. You leave upbeat and happy, but you did not get the deal.

You poured your heart and soul into the close, but you were rejected. Well, you know you weren’t actually rejected, so you remind yourself: tomorrow is another day.

The biggest fear that people experience is the fear of rejection. Many times, that is what stands in the way of your ability to ask for the sale or close the deal. Unfortunately, the sales pitch is the combined fear of losing a deal and a fear of public speaking wrapped into one intimidating experience. In order to overcome the fear, there are three things you must remember.

  1. Be mentally prepared for the closing.
  2. Remain adaptable during the close.
  3. Be sure the timing is under your control.

Mental preparation begins when you realize that you cannot close every deal. It is a numbers game. The old adage, “you win some you lose some” is very true in the sales arena. As you go forth and try to acquire new clients, you are going to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince or princess. The only option you have is to prepare for these momentary defeats as you progress.

If you start with a firm foundation, it will build your confidence and it will lead to a higher closing rate. Your foundation is all of the information that you acquire and organize as you begin the entire sales pitch. Closing the deal is not something you can do unless all of your ducks are in a row. You have to know your product or service inside out, and you have to know all of the weaknesses that need to be addressed during the entire sales pitch. Not everyone is going to be as excited about doing business with you as you are with them. Knowing that, it is important that you understand the necessity of creating the excitement as you go through your presentation.

  • Have you given them enough evidence to support a conclusion that they cannot live without your service or product?
  • Have you addressed all the potential challenges so that your widget stands alone as a necessary component in the client’s arsenal?
  • Have you completed all of the prior necessary steps in your selling process?

Ultimately, when you stand up to close the deal, you must know that you have given them sufficient information that they can reach a conclusion in your favor before you ask them to do so. Therefore, your closing pitch or argument must be outlined to encompass all of the highlights of your presentation. The highlights are the reminders and triggers that will allow them to make a conclusion on their own. No one wants to be forced into a decision, nor does anyone want to feel that a decision was made for them. It should be your goal to feed your prospect enough information through the presentation itself so that when you highlight the information in the closing, the path is clear. When you’re making your final pitch—and you watch heads shake in acquiescence—it’s comforting to know that you’ve done your job. As a result, ever so often they will say yes even before you ask; and that is when you know you have done well. Just do not expect it every time or you will be disappointed.

Be Adaptable in your presentation. Adaptability is your ability to relate to the prospect or prospects. Being able to communicate and be understood while keeping both your integrity and objectives intact. The last thing you want to do is sound like a con man. A con man is always ready for what’s in it for them. They will talk circles and bring it back to their own needs and wants. A good closer knows how to keep the focus on the prospect and answer their wants and needs. You have to be able to identify with the prospect, and they must be able to identify with you.

  • Maintain consistency in your actions and speech so that the true you will shine through.
  • Address all of the highlights of your product or service to remind them of your effort to answer their questions.
  • Anticipate their challenges and address them truthfully and honestly with the agility of a prizefighter in the boxing ring.

Timing is everything: Make sure your prospect is ready to close before you ask. It is essential that you paid attention to the reaction of those in the room throughout your presentation. Whether it is one person or several, you must be sure that they’re comfortable with what you are selling. You must make sure they’re comfortable with you. Your ability to anticipate and address their questions will give you a feel for their comfort level and their readiness to give you a yes.

Sometimes, a trial close is the best option. For instance, you may turn the question or question or mission on them to see if they understand the importance of your product. Or, you may ask them if they see how their business will be advanced with the use of your service. Whether they hesitate or acquiesce will let you know whether you’re ready to move forward with an ask, or if it is necessary for you to provide more information before doing so.

Consider whether you have addressed all of the areas of objection in your closing.

  • Have you established trust?
  • Have you financially qualified your prospect to be sure they can afford your service?
  • Have you provided them all of the positive information they need?
  • Have you provided them a comfort level so that they’re ready to make a positive change to their business?

Get the Yes! In the end, you can only win if they win. You want to create a win-win situation. Most prospects don’t truly care whether or not you win.

As long as they trust you and believe in your product or service, they will be in a better position to determine whether or not their business can be enhanced by your request for the sale. Have you convinced them that you have their best interest at heart, that your interest is sincere,, and that you understand enough about their business that when you tell them they need you, they can’t help but say “yes?”

Lastly, are you as confident in hearing “yes” as you are in hearing a “no?” If you’re ready to walk out the door happy with either answer, you have the confidence to make the sale. Likewise, that confidence will shine through and go a long way to getting you the “yes” that you desire.

Joe Curcillo, The Mindshark, is a speaker, entertainer, lawyer and communications expert. As an Adjunct Professor at Widener University School of Law, Mr. Curcillo developed a hands-on course, based on the use of storytelling as a persuasive weapon. He has been a professional entertainer helping corporations and associations improve their communication techniques since 1979. For more information on bringing Joe Curcillo in for your next event, please visit www.themindshark.com.

The Color Wheel of Relationship Selling

By Stu Schlackman

Stu SchlackmanGreg graduated sales school at the top of his class and was eager to start his new career in Tennessee. His strength was his ability to connect with people, and much was expected from his sales manager.

He met with a prospect in Birmingham, Alabama that wanted a presentation on why his computers were superior to the competition. Fresh out of sales school, the answer was an easy one for Greg. He decided to focus on what was considered his company’s unique differentiator—technology. Even though Greg is a relationship person, he decided to answer with the facts since he thought that was what the prospect wanted. The common question the prospect had: “Why should I do business with you?”

Greg’s response: “Our products can move from a PC to a mainframe and never change operating systems; saving you hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

But Greg misread the situation.

That’s not what the customer wanted. Instead he wanted to get to know Greg to build trust. He wanted to know Greg was there for him whenever he needed information, advice, or just someone who would go to bat for him.

Unfortunately, sales professionals don’t get a second chance at a first impression, so Greg was not able to establish the relationship the prospect was looking for. This opportunity sailed into the sunset never to be seen again.

What should Greg have done? What does it take to establish a relationship with others? The first key to effectively building relationships is to identify the personality style of your prospect.

Most personality models have four styles. This one is based on colors, as it’s easy to remember a face with a name and with a color. It’s also easier to remember the characteristics of a color than an acronym or a name. Blue (the people person), Gold (the planning person), Green (the perfection person) and Orange (the performance person).

Values of Colors: One of the differentiators between the four personality styles is in what they value. As a sales professional you must adjust how you present the value of your offering based on which personality style you believe they are.

  • Blues will not make a commitment until they know you and trust you. For the Blue personality, relationships come first. Because trust is paramount, you must never pressure the Blue. They might view this as selfish on your part.
  • Golds value commitment and follow through. They expect detailed information on your company and its record of accomplishment. Golds value timeliness and a tight process, and believe that you say what you’re going to do and do what say.
  • Greens value details and facts. They will take their time to analyze every aspect of your company’s offerings and how the value equates to their future vision. Expect many questions from Greens since they are skeptical by nature.
  • Oranges value winning and performing. They look for the immediate results and want to look good inside of their organization. They also value relationships, but it’s based on convenience and easy access to the sales person.

Remember the key is to connect with their style, not yours.

Color Communication: Communication is the next key to connecting with prospects and customers. And, as you can guess by now, each style has a different preference.

  • Blues ask questions about you so they can build trust. Small talk is very important and can focus on the personal side. Family, friends, and acquaintances are important to the Blue personality. Blues are also indirect in the communication, which means they will elaborate on what they say. Don’t rush the communication with Blues.
  • Golds are more methodical and direct in the approach. Golds are excellent listeners and will balance the communication. They are structured and prefer an agenda and a reason to have a discussion and are more formal in their approach.
  • Since Greens are the analytical type, they will ask questions on the details of your products and services. Getting personal is not a priority for the Green. Understanding your offerings and how they might solve issues is their top priority. They are succinct in their approach but can be indirect as they expand on what they are looking for. You must have facts to prove your point of view to the Green.
  • Oranges communicate by wanting to get the bottom line. They are big picture oriented and like to be the center of attention. Therefore, let the Orange do most of the talking. Oranges are also direct in their approach. They will tell you exactly what they are looking for.

Communication is about balancing the conversation. Blues and Greens tend to ask questions, while Golds and Oranges tend to tell or prefer to lead the conversation. So as you converse with different styles you need to be aware of what they prefer so you can adapt to their style.

Selling Across the Spectrum: Every sale requires a decision, so understanding when to ask for commitment is crucial and must consider the style of the prospect. So as we looking at selling across the spectrum here is an approach to take.

  • Blues and Greens tend to be slower in finalizing their decision. Give them space to make the decision and when you feel it’s time to help them ask: “What would you like to do for next steps? What else can I provide you in moving forward?” Being too aggressive with these two will lose the sale. They need their space.
  • Golds and Oranges are more decisive. It’s fine to ask these colors for a decision. Ask the Gold when they plan to make their decision, and with the Orange, tell them you can get started today since they look for immediate benefits.

People tend to sell from their point of view. The best thing you can ever do is ask yourself, “Who am I with?” Pay attention to their words and actions; keeping the focus on them will help you understand the approach you should take. Using their style will build trust, gain you credibility and will move you closer to the sale. Remember this: it’s not what customer’s buy, but why. Knowing their color will help you understand what they value, how they prefer to communicate make decisions.

Good Selling!

Stu Schlackman is a sales expert, accomplished speaker and the author of Four People You Should Know and Don’t Just Stand There, Sell Something. With over twenty-five years of success in the sales landscape, Stu provides his clients and audiences with the wisdom, techniques, and practical advice to compete and win in business and in life. For more information about Stu, please visit www.stuschlackman.com.

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5 Tips When You Have 5 Minutes With a Prospect

By Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

Patricia FrippIf you are on the phone, a webinar, or in person, and you have a few minutes with the executive, what do you say to keep on track and be professional? Here is an invaluable framework. Adapt it to your situation, and boost your confidence and credibility.

Imagine that you have a satisfied client company for one of your offerings. You feel now is the best time to discuss your next and higher investment offering. The team, your main contact, is ready to view a product demonstration set for the next day. All your demos are delivered in a webinar. At 2 p.m. you get a call from your main contact who says “Great news! Tomorrow our boss, who is the real decision-maker, is going to be in our office. Rather than just showing our team what you have to offer, the boss said he would like to sit in on the first five minutes. I know you will do well.”

Don’t panic. This is a great opportunity, and once you make a positive impact, the sales cycle is going to be cut short. You will not have to hear, “We love this, but now we have to convince our boss.” This is, however, now your number one priority to prepare. You may be seasoned, but take this seriously. Your sales manager is always telling you, “Sell to the C Suite.” This is your chance. Remember these five simple suggestions for sales success.

1) Build rapport before you speak. It is easier to connect if you can make eye contact with the client, so turn on your webcam to welcome everyone and then again when you answer questions. Although many professionals say they are not comfortable doing this, it has many benefits. Who can resist your friendly smile? You will look more confident, and it is tougher to say no when they are looking at you.

2) Be prepared, and get to the point. Remember, with an executive you need to be clear, concise, credible, and able to articulate the bottom line of your message. The higher up the corporate ladder you go, the more quickly you need to get to the point and demonstrate value. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the less time you have in which to present your case, the longer you will need to prepare. You may have friendly chatter with the team before you get to business, but in this case every second counts. Be polite, respectful, and get to the point fast.

3) Remember you are not alone. Speak on behalf of your leadership. This way you can feel you are making a connection with the position, even when you are not holding that position yourself. You will discover that this technique adds to your confidence.

4) Remind the executive they have already made a wise decision by doing business with your company. Remind them that they have already researched your company and that they were comfortable enough to make you a vendor of choice. This is just a logical next step.

5) Make heroes of the team you are working with. These are your internal champions, and although they may not make the ultimate decision, they certainly have influence and can sabotage your sale. Your job is to work closely with the team or champion who will give you information. Do your research so that you are on target with your questions about their company and the approach the executive will most likely respond to.

When you have to deliver an executive overview, be clear and concise and sound credible. When you adapt this framework to your situation, you will get results. For example:

“Good morning, Mr. Smith. On behalf of our leadership and my team, thank you for your business. As you know, we are committed to delivering the best service for our valued clients like you.

On a personal note, working with John and Mary is a delight. They are both helpful and incredibly efficient.

The purpose of this call is to deliver a high-level overview of our product that you have invested in, review your results compared to your expectations, and then introduce you to three other ways in which we can be of service.

Once we have proven the power of (our product), most of our clients find it logical to add ________ and ______ to their package.

John suggested you are most interest in seeing . . .

Mary mentioned you have ambitious goals for next year to . . .

That is an area in which we could be very advantageous to you.

My understanding is that we have four more minutes. Is that correct?

Let me roll up my sleeves, and you just sit back, watch the demo, and be amazed.

Please feel free to interject at any time.

Do you like what you saw?

Then our next logical step is to continue the conversation with John and Mary and prepare a draft proposal for your review.

 Does that make sense to you?

Moving forward, is there any other area you would like for us to pursue?

Again, thank you for your business and the opportunity to demonstrate how we can continue to streamline your company.”

Can you see the five suggestions in this simple outline?

Turn on the webcam when you open and close the conversation. This makes it easier to make an emotional connection.

Because you are on a webinar, you can have your opening script and outline printed.

Once you internalize your new, tightened script, it will become second nature.

Make sure you smile. Your client will hear it in your voice.

Companies who want a competitive edge hire Patricia Fripp. She is a Hall of Fame keynote speaker, executive speech coach, sales presentation skills, and on-line training expert. Patricia is also a subject matter expert for Continuing Education at XTRACredits. When your message must be memorable, your presentation powerful, and your sales successful in-person or online Patricia Fripp can help. To become a great speaker easily, conveniently and quickly you sign up for FrippVT. Why not sign up for your trial today: www.fripp.com.

10 Biggest Mistakes Sales Professionals Make in Their Presentations

By Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

Patricia FrippLike Hollywood actors, sales professionals put themselves and their companies on the line with every word—taking a risk in the hope of a favorable outcome. Just like actors, even the best, most experienced salesperson benefits from script review, rehearsal, and coaching.

Here are the 10 most common mistakes seen on the sales stage and ways to avoid them:

  1. Unclear Thinking: Imagine that a busy executive says, “You have exactly ten minutes to tell me I need to know about your company.” You should know in advance what your prospect is really asking. The real question is, “What do I need to know about how your company can improve our company? Will your products or services solve a problem, create new opportunities, increase savings, maximize earnings, simplify our processes, develop our human capital, or increase market share?” Accomplish this, and you can present your options more formally.
  1. Talking Too Much: The key to connecting with a client is conversation and asking questions. The quality of information received depends on the quality of your questions and waiting for and listening to the answers! A successful encounter early in the sales process should be mostly open-ended questions—the kind that require essay answers rather than just yes and no. And never rush on with preprogrammed questions that ignore the answer you’ve just received!
  1. Wrong Structure: Do not build your talking points and presentation structure around your company. Structure them around your prospect’s interests, challenges, or opportunities. Put their words into your presentation. Yes, you will be talking about your company, your satisfied clients, and your uniqueness to prove that you can appeal to their interests, solve their challenges, and maximize their opportunities.
  1. No Memorable Stories: People rarely remember your exact words. They remember the mental images your words create. Support your key points with vivid, relevant client success stories. Create a movie in their minds by using satisfied clients as memorable characters. What was their starting situation? Their problem that your prospect can relate to? What are their results since you worked with them?
  1. No Emotional Connection: Your customer or client justifies working with you for analytical reasons. What gives you the edge—what I call the unfair advantage—is an emotional connection. Build an emotional connection by incorporating stories with characters they can relate to, by using the word you as often as possible, and by talking from their point of view. Congratulate them on their success. Thank them, not for their time, but for the opportunity to present your solution. Don’t say, “I will talk about . . .” Say, “What you will hear is . . .” Remember, their unspoken question is, “What’s in this for us?”
  1. No Pauses: Good music and good communication both contain changes of pace and pauses. As counterintuitive as it may seem, you actually connect in the silence. This is when your audience digests what they have heard. If you rush to squeeze in as much information as possible, your prospects will remember less. Remember the rule: “Say less, say it well.” Give your clients enough time to ask a question or reflect.
  1. Hmm, Ah, Err, You Know, So, Right: Non-words and low quality words often fill spaces where silence is needed. How often have you heard a presenter begin each new thought with “Now!” or “Um” or “So” as they figure out what comes next. Rehearse in front of your sales manager or colleagues, asking them to call out whenever you hem or haw. Audio-record yourself, and note any digressions. You will never improve what you are not aware of.
  1. Weak Opening: Engage your audience with a powerful, relevant opening that includes them. For example, “You have an awesome responsibility,” or “Congratulations on your company’s recent success.” Then focus on their needs: increasing sales, reducing errors, cutting overhead, expanding their market, increasing their digital footprint, or perfecting their sales presentations. How can your product help?
  1. Weak Closing: After reviewing your key ideas, answering their questions, making suggestions for the next logical step, and thanking them for the opportunity, make your last words linger. Conclude with a strong, positive sentence that will be embedded in their minds. Do not introduce a new idea. Reinforce one of your main advantages or benefits; e.g., “Remember, 157 profitable quarters,” or “99% of the Fortune 100 do business with us,” or “We are large enough to satisfy all your requirements and small enough that you will be a valued client.”
  1. Lack of Specificity: Specificity builds credibility and helps position you above your competition. Tons and bunches? Can you really get a ton of ideas? Do you leave the trade show with bunches of business cards? Don’t say, “With our program, you will really grow your business.” Instead, “There are no guarantees; however, our last three clients increased sales an average of 32% in seven months.”

Avoid these, and you’re on your way to being a sales star, delivering a dazzling performance every time.

When your message must be memorable and your sale successful, sales expert Patricia Fripp can help in person and also with online training:  www.frippvt.com, pfripp@ix.netcom.com, 415- 753-6556.