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Where do you get ideas, ask my friends!

It makes me think. Where do I really get ideas to write?

It’s a beautiful rainy day. Sitting by the side of the window in our beautiful office, my thoughts are flowing and my fingers are typing them as they flow. It’s 10 past 6 in the evening.

Except for the occasional interruptions I have from the notifications on my android phone [I hate notifications], I am not disturbed at all.

I get inspired by the daily events in my life and the conversations I have with others. And the conversations I have with myself too. 🙂

The other day, a friend told me that he doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings. Wow! That’s a good behaviour. But is it possible to live like that?

Let us examine this in the Sales context.

You cannot afford to hurt customers. No matter how rude they are.

You may not agree with them all the time. But you need not express that in a way it hurts them.

The work around is to find a solution to their problems that fits them in all sense. That would make them say “Yes”.

Some thoughts around this:

  1. Proposing the right solution
  2. Increasing their productivity
  3. Cost savings
  4. Easy to switch, use & adopt
  5. Low maintenance cost
  6. Availability of resources
  7. Future road map, upgrades, new features
  8. Far easier to exit.
  9. RoI
  10. Vendor commitment [that’s your commitment]

We have got their back covered. There cannot be any more objections. The question can now only be: “How soon can you deliver/implement?” or “where should we start first?” or “what variants/options do we have?”

Look for those buying signals.

Close Deals. Win.

Happy Winning!

Happy Selling!!

sales at zignalytics.com

#sales #closing #artofdealingwithclients

 

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20 steps to becoming a “Trusted Partner” of your customer

Why should you become a Trusted Partner of your customer? Because, that is the only way you can do business with him/her. Trust can win you business and keep you in business. Old school techniques in Sales do not pay off anymore. So, things like smooth talking, hard persuasion, piling on the prospect, under-cutting, anti-marketing, pushing your product without knowing whether the prospect has any need for it or not and many others do not work anymore. So, what is essential today is to earn trust and respect.

trophy-2

So, what will help you become a Trusted Partner of your customer?

  1. Forget targets. Forget Metrics, Deep analysis, Demographics, Your Business Plans, Your KRAs etc. These don’t mean anything without customers to serve.
  2. Focus on your Customers – past customers, current customers, past prospects [those that didn’t buy from you], current prospects and the target industry that you serve or want to serve.
  3. Understand them well – their Industry, their challenges, their road maps, their business plans etc.
  4. Use a Consultative Sales approach.
  5. Do not be short sighted. Do not focus just on the deal on hand. Instead focus on helping the customer.
  6. Have an outlook that sets you apart from your competition. May be [may be] your competitor is just focusing on the deal at hand, does not show care and concern for the customer, looks at it as just another transaction, is inhuman etc. Fix these things. You have won the Trust already.
  7. Use every opportunity to serve them well. You will not get a second chance to make a first impression.
  8. Share knowledge. Willingly.
  9. Think that there is a solution to all the problems your customer faces. There is. Go find that solution.
  10. Be a part of their team. Give your sweat and blood.
  11. Stake everything you have to solve the customer’s problems.
  12. Show extreme seriousness when you deal with their problems.
  13. Have a systematic approach. Let the customer know before hand how you are approaching the problem.
  14. Break the steps to solve the problem into series of smaller achievable steps. Show progress at every single step.
  15. Involve your top resources on the job.
  16. Invite your customers to your office, introduce them to your gems, show how you work, show what level of professionalism, commitment, ethics & love, you and your colleagues have towards work.
  17. Let your customer see some of your works that are truly remarkable.
  18. Show you are committed to solving their problems.
  19. Don’t ever sell.
  20. Customers are looking for these everywhere – a sales person who delivers on his promises, a product/service that is a fit for them, a product/service that they like and one that is going to increase their profits, a partner who can be trusted and loved. Will you deliver all these and more?

Then, You are that Trusted Partner of your Customers.

Happy Selling !! Err, Happy Partnering !!!

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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.

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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.

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How to align with your prospects in their Buying decision process – Part II

It is not about you anymore. It is about them. The dialogue starts with them, their needs or problems, their Industry, the challenges in their industry, their competition, their achievements, awards, recognition, their goals etc. How you align with your prospects during their buying journey and how enjoyable you make it for them will determine your success. You exist for your customers and because of your customers.

Sales is getting complicated. Companies now have multi channel to sell their products or services. To name a few, you have field sales, inside sales, customer service, loyalty programs, corporate website, partners, resellers, social media channels etc. It is essential to speak with one voice and ensure that the prospect gets the same look and feel [in other words, same experience] whichever channel he chooses to get in touch with your company.

Listen

Listen to your prospects. When they talk they are giving you information about their thought process, their values, their expectations, their style of working, their experience, expertise, their problem statements, their idea of a solution etc. Unless, you are attentive and keenly listening to your prospects, you will miss many of these things.  And you may miss the information on how he expects you to sell.

When you listen, you listen and pay attention and not just pause and wait for an opportunity to make a pitch.

Why should you listen ?

  1. That is the only way to start aligning with your prospect, if you want the deal, that is
  2. To understand their needs or problems
  3. To get to know their expectations
  4. To understand their buying decision process
  5. To find out the stage the prospect is in, in their buying decision process
  6. To understand what is the perception he holds on your company or products or services
  7. To get to know their perspectives
  8. To know their priorities and urgency

Introspect

Instead of asking yourself – Why should this person buy this? Why should they buy from me? Why should they buy at a particular time? etc – ask yourself the following questions, if you are aligned with the prospect :

  1. Why this company / organization exists ? How is their current problem statement / need aligned to their “why” ? Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” says “It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters Why you do it.” If you take a re-look at the problem statement with this understanding, a new perspective may emerge out of it. You will then buy the idea of your prospect. Now you will start thinking like your prospect. Perfect alignment. Great start.
  2. How can I add value or help them so that I can join them in solving the problem together ? How can I make the prospect “want” to take me into confidence and consider me their trusted consultant ?
  3. How urgent is it for your prospect to get the problem solved to continue to inspire their customers and add value to them ?

Help

Your prospects are looking for your help in the following :

  1. How to do things in a much more easier, simpler way and save time and money
  2. How to get more business with less and less effort and also spending lesser and lesser
  3. How to get more done with less
  4. How to make it easy for your prospects to buy, implement and use your products or services

Provide Value

What is value? It is an individual perception and it denotes the greater importance or worthiness that something deserves.

  1. Show them increase in efficiency in shorter time frames
  2. Provide something that helps them do things in a more powerful manner
  3. Give them that which no one else is offering for the same cost or for a little more
  4. Provide them tools that will help them become a leader in their industry
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How to align with your prospects in their Buying decision process – first in the series

It is all about Aligning with your Prospects in their Buying decision process. It takes intelligence, maturity and experience not to be pushy or salesy during the sales process. Instead, understanding your Prospects’ Buying decision process in detail and aligning with them in their process will help you land the deal. The power has shifted to the buyers now. And most of the time, your prospects may know more than what you know. It is good to have that assumption. That assumption will only make you handle the prospects with utmost respect and not underestimate their intelligence. Prospects will like that attitude.

Buying Decision Process consists of various stages and these stages were first introduced by Engel, Blackwell and Kollat in 1968 and popularly called as EBK model. The stages are:

  1. Problem/Need recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post-purchase behavior

These stages are not in any order and you cannot expect your Prospects to follow it strictly in the above order. They may have their own order and may or may not go through each of these buying stages. However, Problem/Need recognition is the first step without which no purchase can take place.

Prospects may want to start the dialogue with the Price. You may not like this and you may actually want to show the prospects the value they are buying instead of looking at it from a purely transactional perspective. But prospects who are very knowledgeable and are serious about your product or service and have spent considerable amount of time researching about your product or service would want to discuss Price in the first call. How you handle that will decide the final outcome.

You may promise, your prospects, to answer that question on pricing during the course of that call itself but tell them that you would like to get their permission to explain your product/service first. They will most likely agree to this. This is an opportunity for you to show the value the prospect is buying.

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

If you can inspire your prospect with the WHY of your Company / Product / Service, your deal is done. People definitely like to be part of something worthwhile and want to pitch in and participate.

While aligning with your prospects on their buying decision process, the following are some of the things to avoid during the first call:

  1. Asking questions related to the people responsible for the purchase
  2. Asking for the timeline
  3. Asking who is the budget holder
  4. Asking about their organizational goals or what they are trying to achieve or why they are buying this product or service
  5. Avoid being pushy [does it mean that can I be pushy during the second call ? No. Never.]
  6. Making a pitch
  7. Avoid being aggressive, persuasive, judgemental, persistent, know-it-all etc.
  8. Don’t talk about your customer references from the same industry [not during the first call]

Instead you should do the following, during the first call:

  1. Listen
  2. Provide value to the buyer [we discussed this above]
  3. Be helpful
  4. Completely align with the prospect – discuss Price, if they want you to
  5. Explain your Product / Service
  6. Allow them to buy, Give them time, Be patient
  7. Offer help only when asked
  8. Look at it from their perspective
  9. Undertake research about your prospects prior to the call
  10. Show genuine interest in their products/services

Let us take this discussion forward and see how to align with prospects and create a win-win relationship with them.