Posted on Leave a comment

What can Sales people learn from “The Walk” and Philippe Petit

From Wikipedia: “The Walk is a 2015 American 3D biographical drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Christopher Browne and Zemeckis. It is based on the story of 24-year-old French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974.”

the-walk-movie-642628

 

What were the steps taken by Philippe Petit to achieve the final outcome of walking between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York in 1974 ? How did he achieve what he wanted to ? What must have gone through his mind during the event ? How can someone achieve such a rare feat ? And what can we learn from his walk on the high-wire ?

Let us now examine one after the other.

Steps taken by Philippe Petit:

  1. He dreamed at an early age and thought it was possible to walk on the tight rope at such an altitude.
  2. He came to know from a magazine about the construction of World Trade Center while sitting in a dentist’s clinic and found that it will be the tallest building in the world.
  3. He conceived his idea.
  4. Planned meticulously.
  5. Traveled to New York several times.
  6. He and one of his collaborators, a photographer rented a helicopter and photographed the under construction towers.
  7. Had few other collaborators and friends who helped him. One of them provided financial assistance as well.
  8. Entered the building as a Journalist and in the pretext of interviewing the workers observed the towers from close quarters.
  9. Got caught by a Policeman once but that didn’t dampen his dreams.
  10. He and his team settled on the bow and arrow attached to a rope to pass the cable and they perfected this technique by practicing it several times.
  11. He and his crew got an opportunity to travel in the elevator to 104th floor on the day of the event. With their heavy equipment. Call it miracle if you wish.
  12. Finally executed his plans.

How did he achieve what he wanted to ?

  1. The central theme of the whole thing – that is, the events leading to the big event – was a firm belief that he can achieve what he wanted to.
  2. He was committed to it.
  3. He was ready to sacrifice anything and everything to achieve it.
  4. Was there fear in his mind ? Must have had fear but gradually did overcome that fear and succeeded.
  5. He gave everything that he had to achieve it.
  6. He had a good team who also sacrificed, risked and provided solid support to him.
  7. He was focused. He breathed, ate, slept, walked [?] high-wire walk.
  8. He was positive and had overcome all obstacles.

What must have gone through his mind during the event ?

  1. He must have forgotten that the world exists.
  2. He must have forgotten that he is walking at such a high altitude [1350 feet from the ground].
  3. All he saw was the wire.
  4. He focused his mind towards balancing the walk on the high-wire.
  5. He must have walked as if he was performing at a low altitude – like his past performances.

How can someone achieve such a rare feat ?

  1. Discipline.
  2. Preparation.
  3. Courage.
  4. Positive thinking.
  5. Single minded focus.
  6. A team that fully supports.
  7. When others think it is death, he thinks it is his life. Coming out of the fear zone.
  8. Meticulous planning.
  9. Execution.
  10. Skills. Training. Practice.

And what can we learn from his walk on the high-wire ?

  1. If you think you can, you eventually will.
  2. Dreaming is very important. Everything was originally a dream.
  3. Commitment, sacrifice, putting effort, training, practice, single minded focus are important.
  4. Not to get cowed down by obstacles.
  5. Not to get discouraged by friends, family but to continue with your plan against their warnings.
  6. Skill development – is a given.
  7. Positive thinking makes things happen. The whole world conspires with you.
  8. Taking risks.
  9. Great team. And Team work.
  10. Identifying what gives you happiness and relentlessly pursuing it, come what may.

Happy Selling !!

Posted on Leave a comment

Why I love consultative selling and you should too…..

What is Consultative Selling ?

Customers’ needs or pain points forms the focal point of the sale. Your product or service does not. You ask open ended questions and listen. In the process, you learn what is the pain point or needs of the customer and you propose a solution to address that pain point. Sometimes it is also called as Solution Selling.

I am of the strong opinion that the “Selling” in “Consultative Selling” should be renamed “Helping”. It should then be “Consultative Helping”. Because that is what it is. Selling does not happen here because there is no need to. Customer buys your solution since you have solved the problem or addressed the pain points.

Help your customers. They will ensure your success. They will be your brand ambassadors.

What are the benefits of Consultative Selling ?

  1. Customer Experience and Customer Satisfaction is enhanced.
  2. Relationship with the customer gets stronger.
  3. Sales Forecast is more predictable. Shorter sales cycles. In reality, that is. Though people may say the sales cycles are long and sales is highly unpredictable in Consultative Selling and that is not true.
  4. Customer does not get the feeling that someone is “selling” to them. Instead he will start feeling that someone is helping. So, you essentially remove the resistance to selling.
  5. Focus is on the Needs or Pain Points of the customer. Right from the beginning. Sale happens only if you solve those pain points. So, no question of customer becoming unhappy later.
  6. It is a win-win situation. You win only if the customer wins. In the first place.
  7. Referrals: There is more likely-hood of customer referring you to his friends.
  8. You are regarded as an Authority in your field of work. That is a recognition. To strive for.
  9. Customer values your time as much as he values his own.
  10. No false promises or false commitments on either side.
  11. You say what you do. And do what you say.
  12. The relationship is not anymore seller – buyer. It is more of a Partner – Business.
  13. There is more likely-hood of customer trying to adapt or adjust to your product or service. Really.
  14. Return on investments is higher.
  15. You are more likely to clock a high value sale. But that is not the idea. The idea is to address the pain point and make the customer win.
  16. Customer knows, understands and values that you are committed to solving their problems / pain points and not just dumping your product or service on them. So, they trust you. Remember, Trust cannot be bought. Ever.
  17. You don’t have to ask, probe or find out – what are the other needs or plans or goals that the customer has in pipeline that you can solve or help them achieve – instead he tells you what are those – before you ask
  18. Similarly, you identify and tell the customer what they might need in the near future, even before they realize it. This is exactly the reason they need you. This is where you score over others.
  19. You throw competition out of the window.
  20. You don’t win on price. Not anymore. Because, there is no need to.

Do you still need more reasons to practice Consultative Selling err Consultative Helping ?

Don’t “SELL”. Just HELP. And allow the customer to BUY.

Posted on Leave a comment

I was asked “What is a CRM” and this is what I answered…..

CRM is not anymore a buzzword. It is not just another acronym that an IT Professional builds skills on to grow in his / her career. CRM, as you are aware, stands for Customer Relationship Management. When someone says CRM, they refer to an application software used by Sales, Marketing and Customer Service departments of a Business entity. Typically, CRM has these three modules – Sales, Marketing & Customer Service. Analytics is either offered as another module or as part of all these modules.

Coming to the Sales module, the App helps Sales people of a business close more deals. The Sales CRM application helps in Account Management, Activity Management, Lead Management, Contact Management, Opportunity Management, Pipeline Management.

Typically sales people get leads from Marketing department and start validating those leads. Sales people also generate their own leads as well. Starting from a cold call, qualifying a contact as a lead or validating the leads passed to them and then finding an opportunity with that lead and converting that lead to an opportunity and taking that opportunity through various Sales Stages – for example from Needs Assessment to Closing and beyond, the Sales CRM helps sales people perform their job more efficiently.

CRM is unlike traditional applications used in an enterprise. By traditional applications, I am referring to the transaction oriented applications – say for ex, Financial Applications [that is used to track the finance from order to pay or purchase to pay etc] or Enterprise Resource Planning [ERP] application that helps in the back office business processes. These applications capture limited customer information – order and payment details of customers and cannot satisfy the requirements of the sales people.

Sales people are the face of any business. They occupy and run the front office. They are the point of contact when a customer walks into a business. They handle all the customer inquiries that are received through various channel. This is inbound traffic. Customers get in touch on their own and express interest in a product or a service. While sales people handle this inbound traffic, they also run outbound sales to identify customers who may be a good fit for their products or services and can benefit from them. The sales people do a number of activities to acquire new clients.

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs, Apple

Coming to Sales CRM, it captures customer data in detail and it is mapped to the Sales Process of an Organization. The sales process of an Organization is the process followed from the first contact with a prospective customer till the order closure. It starts with the sales person contacting a lead, understanding the needs and evaluating the needs, checking product fit or service fit, budgeting, Mapping Customers Organization Structure, Identifying Decision Makers / Budget holders / Influencers, Demonstrating, Proposal submission, PoC [Proof of Concept], Closing, Following-up.

The Sales CRM captures all the data through this entire process. It is a complete salesforce automation. Contact management is the basic feature that helps sales people to keep all customer contact details in one place. They can map social media accounts of their contacts as well. They can even create a field to capture the news feed about the customer’s organization from the web.

Sales CRM captures all the leads. Allows one to convert those leads into opportunities as they get qualified. The opportunities then follow a predefined sales process through various sales stages. And sales people can then visually see which opportunity is in what stage. A series of opportunities in various sales stages is a pipeline. And sales people can have multiple pipelines – one each for a specific product or a business entity or a division or a geography.

Sales pipeline management is critical to success of any organization. The low hanging fruits will be taken care of. But it is those warm leads that needs to be nurtured for long term success of an organization.

We sell Pipeliner CRM. It is a Pure play Sales CRM. You can visit this link to download a trial: http://www.pipelinersales.com/crm/free-trial/?referral=926.

Pipeliner CRM is a visual CRM. That is, at any given point, the sales people will be able to see which opportunity is in what stage and the app has a Sales Navigator that intuitively tells where the sales people should focus their energies and what should be done with all the other opportunities and other leads as well.

CRM is useful for any business with either one sales person or 200 sales people. Whether it is a B2B or a B2C. Regardless of whether it sells a capital intensive product or everyday use product. Whether they sell directly or through the distribution channel. Whether they sell online or offline. Whether their sales cycle is long or short. As long as they sell and want to grow by selling more, they need a CRM. CRM is an essential tool in today’s competitive world. Without that, businesses will be doomed.

It is not anymore a buzzword.

Posted on Leave a comment

Things to remember during a follow-up call

Marketing department in an organization uses 4P [Product, Price, Promotion, Place] to plan and execute its marketing strategies. And its aim is to create a market for their company’s products and services, if it is a new product or a service. If it is not a new product / service, then their aim is to create a market share for their company. Their job does not end with acquiring leads and passing them on to Sales. They need to validate the leads and qualify them as well. But that’s not all. They need to evaluate their campaign effectiveness, understand which channel delivers the maximum bang for the buck spent, analyze how the market responds to various campaigns and accordingly fine tune their campaign strategy in future.

Sales gets the leads from Marketing plus they also generate their own leads. Sales get references from their existing clientele. Due to word of mouth, sales people get calls from prospects that are hot.

Sales puts all the leads together and starts managing them. They need a good lead management tool [that is part of a CRM] to make their job easier.

While the leads are qualified as either hot or cold, there is a need to classify them as warm as well. In my experience, I have found that I had a competitive advantage over my competitors when I handled such warm leads very well over a long period of time.

Let us now take a look at things to remember during a follow-up call:

  1. Don’t say you are just following up.
  2. Don’t say you are checking in or just wanted to touch base.
  3. Say things that will arouse his/her interest in your products/services.
  4. Highlight the benefits of your products or service.
  5. Repeat the value your product or service delivers or the USP. Let it remain etched in his/her memory.
  6. With every touch, learn something new about the prospect and record it in your CRM.
  7. If you say something that resonates with the prospect, the deal will close faster than you think.
  8. Don’t educate the prospect on your product / service during a follow-up call. Unless, he asks you to.
  9. But definitely add value – give him information on your recent client acquisition or share news from your industry or the prospects industry.
  10. Ask the prospect, if this proposal is still in their high priority list.
  11. If it is still in the high priority list, ask when is it going to be taken up and what is it waiting for and how can you help.
  12. Get commitment from the prospect on the next date and expected progress from his side by that date else you commit to get back with some important information on a certain date.

Happy Selling !!

Posted on Leave a comment

How to eliminate the resistance to buy ?

As mentioned earlier in one of my previous posts, the buyer is anywhere between 60 and 70 % of his buyers journey when they decide to contact you or your company. But there is still some resistance to buy. Let us find out how to eliminate the resistance to buy.

But let us first understand your sales situation and then the current market situation.

You have a product or a service to sell. And your marketing team does a fantastic job using the 4Ps of Marketing [it is still relevant] or the Marketing Mix, as it is famously called. They also used all the latest fad in Digital Marketing. They even hooked up a film star as a brand ambassador to create brand awareness. All this is fine.

Your company then starts attracting leads. And these leads are then passed on to you, to work on it and close those deals.

The problem is that your competitors also do the same thing. Branding. Marketing Mix. Star campaigns. All the works. Absolutely. But they commit mistakes and I am going to tell you what are those mistakes and how not to commit those mistakes. And how to remove the resistance to buy and Close the deal.

  1. Your competitors follow some dumb process. Without any respect for the customer.
  2. They sound very corporate and treat prospects like buying machines that exist only to buy their products or services.
  3. They are arrogant.
  4. They are absolutely unemotional.
  5. They are good at complicating things.
  6. They are not truthful.
  7. They have no regard for the prospect and don’t pay any attention to what the customers say.
  8. They are good at promoting themselves without knowing that the customer has just rejected them.

Today’s buyers are very knowledgeable. They have plenty of options. And they evaluate each one of them very seriously. Before they talk to you, they identify their problems and also get to learn why your product or service is a good match to solve those problems.

But you still have lot of work to do before the client can sign on the dotted line. Here are some pointers for you, with a focus on how to eliminate the resistance to buy:

  1. Differentiate your offering from the competitors.
  2. Simplify things and do not complicate.
  3. Highlight real long term benefits to the prospect. Not the honeymoon. Or the discounts.
  4. Be truthful. Accept your shortcomings. Your credibility will then improve.
  5. Say only what you can do. And do what you said.
  6. Find out the prospects’ real reasons for considering your product or service and highlight the same to them. People like to win and they won’t shoot down their own reasons.
  7. Make a short statement that is memorable to remember and make sure that it summarizes what you do and why should people buy it.
  8. Remove the risks for the prospect. This is the deal clincher.
  9. Resistance to buy is a sign of fear. Remove the fear and the deal is yours.
  10. Promise to handhold the customer in case of any issues. Stand by that promise.

Happy Selling.

Posted on Leave a comment

Are you on the same page, with your prospects ?

Listening is an art. And Sales people should listen attentively to their prospects and customers, without which it is going to be difficult to make the sale or solve a problem. The prospect always tells us what he / she wants, what problems are they facing and where they need Professional help in solving problems. Unless, we listen to them carefully, it may not be possible to initiate a discussion forget getting the deal.

Future belongs to those who listen with an intent to understand truly !!

Listening helps you get information. And empathizing with your prospects will help you understand the situation / problem in its true sense. Forget your sales pitch. Just listen.

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” – Bernard Baruch

There has been too much of a bad reputation that the Sales people have built over the years and it is time to change that perception. Firstly, the prospects think that Sales people are interested in only pushing their products or services down their throat whether they have a need for that or not, whether their product or service solves their problem or not. This is a bad reputation that the Sales people have built for themselves. I am not blaming the entire community. But many are the reasons for this reputation. So, you need to get this changed right at the first interaction with the customer. But, how will you do it ?

  1. Show respect to the prospect
  2. Don’t rush things
  3. Carry yourself well
  4. Think and Act like a true Professional
  5. Show seriousness
  6. Ask open ended questions and shut up – I mean shut your mouth but keep your mind, eyes and ears wide open
  7. Take notes
  8. Ask qualifying questions
  9. Align with them
  10. Summarize and ask if you have understood them correctly

This will go a long way in building a relationship with them. Customers don’t buy products / services just to meet their needs or solve their problems. It is much more than that. It is purely an emotional bonding with your products or services or with your company. And that emotional boding happens due to the way you treated them or due to the way you handled yourself during the call. You are your company to them. Good or Bad is in your hands. Deal with it responsibly.

Using Sales Techniques is one thing but Building relationship is entirely a different ball game altogether.

Being on the same page with the Prospect ensures that you have understood their problems correctly and have agreed to do certain activities towards helping them solve those problems. So, your deal has a good chance, a good probability. And your competitor who is not in Sync with your prospect is on a tail spin at the moment.

Continue to Listen to your Prospects and Customers and keep fine tuning your offering, products, services, sales processes, customer service so that you may achieve true customer satisfaction

Listening involves using all sensory organs and not just your ears. Get the full import. And implement these ideas in your next sales call and let me know what happened next.