Posted on Leave a comment

How not to communicate…

Well, I am a great fan of emails. After the invention of wheels, I consider email application as the greatest invention. Even after whatsapp, messenger, skype etc, email still holds its place in this era of instant communication.

But do we really know how to write an email?

That sparks interest in the reader’s mind to know more about you, your company, your products etc.

I received an interesting email today from someone trying to sell me something. This was her second email. The first email from her was received by me on the 19th of last month. I am not letting you know who that is. That’s not important.

In the first email she had said that my company [with name] has been shortlisted as the “most powerful company in XYZ domain” and will be featured in their magazine and she had stated the benefits of getting published in their magazine. Then she had asked me to revert so that she can share the quote. Wow! From “Cold Call” stage to “Quotation” stage in a snap. I wish I can do that as well. Not really.

I replied to her then, asking her to remove my email id from her mailing list since it didn’t interest me. Neither did I subscribe to anything nor did I express interest on any of their services.

After a month, today I received the second email in spite of me asking her to remove my email Id. What’s more. This time it was more stronger in language.

Excerpts [if the language is not right, please excuse me, it is published here exactly as I received]:

In the rare opportunities, I have to work on client acquisition, I have not had much success reconnecting with you. It might just be that you don’t have any interest in talking with me — and that’s okay. I just need to know whether or not to keep trying.

So, to make this nice and easy for you, you can reply with a simple keystroke. Just reply with either A, B, C, D, or E and I’ll know what to do, but please do reply so that I can stop emailing you if you’re not interested.

A. Stop emailing me with attempts to connect but continue to send invites for future opportunities.

B. Don’t send me anything, remove me from your list. We don’t currently and won’t ever need your opportunity.

C. I want to talk, we need some help, but the timing isn’t right. Keep trying.

D. I would like to schedule a time to talk. We need some help. Please send your calendar link.

E. I forgot who you are. What’s this about?

 

The funny part is this: “to make this nice and easy for you…..”. In fact she wants me to make it easy for her. You can’t do prospecting over cold email and also automate it. It is so naive, unprofessional, bossy, accusing, all rolled into one.

Instead, the sender should have used a professional email marketing tool with “unsubscribe” buttons and sent an intro email with few lines and asking for permission to continue writing without any demands. Forget business.

Clients are not waiting in queue with the cheque to handover to you. Stop dreaming.

Write well.

Spark interest.

Serve without any expectation.

Build trust.

Pick up the phone and ask for an appointment.

Meet.

See if they have any problems that you can solve.

Add value.

Propose.

Negotiate.

Close.

Deliver.

Retain.

Where is this sales person right now, in this process? She hasn’t even started yet. But thanks to her for teaching us how not to write emails.

 

Happy Selling !!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Questions to ask yourself about your Sales Function

What Sales methodologies do you use ?

  1. Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff, popularly known as SPIN
  2. Keeping it Simple, being iNvaluable, Aligning your activities with your Customer’s priorities or SNAP
  3. Conceptual / Solution Selling
  4. Consultative Selling

Do you have a proven Sales process ?

The steps right from leads / cold calling / known universe to various sales stages till closure including but not limited to Prospecting, Validating, Needs assessment, Budgeting, Mapping Customers Org Structure, Demonstrating, Proposing, Closing, Following-up is a Sales Process. The question is to ask is: Is your Sales Process proven? Has it delivered the desired results quarter after quarter?

Do you need a CRM [Customer Relationship Management] Software? Why?

  1. What problems are you trying to solve using a CRM ?
  2. How are you currently handling sales ?
  3. Where and how do you find your clients ?
  4. Why should customers buy from you ?
  5. What implication will CRM have on your organizational goals ?
  6. Why is it important for your Organization to think like your customers ?
  7. Do you know the things you should keep in mind while implementing a CRM ?
  8. Why is CRM Adoption more important than anything else ?
  9. Do you know that a CRM can be used for Field Service, Channel or Partner Management or even for Product Management ?
  10. And it can be used for Banking and Financial Services Sales ? Have you heard of Vertical CRMs ?

Do you understand the power of CRM Analytics or in other words Customer Analytics?

  1. Why do you think CRM Analytics important ?
  2. Lead stage to Close – how much time did the Prospect spend at each sales stage
  3. Activities Vs Deal size – is your salesforce spending time and effort on high value deals
  4. Weighted Vs Goal, Balanced Vs Goal, Pipeline Overview & Other snapshots
  5. Forecasting, Forecasting Vs Actuals
  6. Is 20% of your prospects giving you 80% of your revenue and vice-versa ?
  7. Have you invested on Customer Analytics ?
  8. How Dashboard Creation can help you and your Top management ?
  9. What is the purpose of Campaign Analysis & Customer Segmentation ?
  10. Why should anyone undertake Trend, What-if & Pipeline Analysis ?
  11. Are you getting actionable insights from your customer data ?

Sales Training and Motivation:

  1. When was the last time your Sales Force attended a Training program?
  2. How often do you train your Sales Force?
  3. Are they equipped to take your company to the next level?
  4. Are they motivated enough?
  5. Who fixes the compensation for your Sales Force?
  6. What incentives do you give them?
  7. Do you recognize your best sales persons?
  8. What plans do you have to continuously educate your Sales Force?
  9. Is your back end team [Product Management, Delivery Teams] taking regular feedback from your Sales Force?
  10. Are you occasionally involving your Product / Delivery people  to meet prospects and customers along with your Sales Force?

I am sure these questions will help you frame fresh Sales Strategies, Process and Methodology. Spruce-up is not just desired but mandatory for growth.

Happy Selling !!

 

 

Pic Courtesy: http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/businessman-agreement-cartoon_774932.htm

Posted on Leave a comment

Step by Step Guide to Prospecting

What is Prospecting ?

The process of identifying prospective or potential new clients for your business is called as Prospecting. It is during this process you qualify prospects [or leads] and see whether there is a fit between what he/she needs and what you have got to offer.

Why should you undertake Prospecting ?

Prospecting is done to identify new customers. It is very important to do Prospecting on a continuous basis. New customers are very important for a business to grow. It is also worthwhile to remember that existing customers have to be retained at any cost since the cost of acquiring new customers is too high compared to the cost of retaining existing customers. But that doesn’t mean we should stop doing prospecting or stop acquiring new clients. The only way to Growth is to acquire new customers at whatever cost.

Sales people normally do cold calls to identify prospects. But traditional Cold-calling, as we know it, is dead. In today’s world, one does a lot of homework before picking up the phone. Whether one is calling a list from a database or calling on the leads that have come in through their website or Ad campaigns, one has to do plenty of homework before connecting with the Prospect.

Let us now take a look at how to do Prospecting.

Step by Step Guide to Prospecting:

  1. The first step is to define your target market. Or your target segment.
  2. Then undertake a study of your target market or target segment.
  3. Understand what is causing them headaches or what goals do they have for their organization this year.
  4. Find the right set of people in Organizations within the target market, those who are most likely to have a need for your products/services.
  5. You may use LinkedIn and/or any other service that gives you access to your target segment including the decision makers direct phone nos.
  6. Understand the Buyers’ Persona.
  7. Make a list.
  8. Run a campaign. Whether yours is a B2B or a B2C. It can be an Email campaign or an Ad campaign on the web or both.
  9. Now, get your Story ready. [Not the pitch.] People like stories. Let the Story be inspiring. Let it make the buyer sit upright and take note of it and let it induce the buyer to take action. The buyer will then help you sell to their organization. It will be his/her baby from then on.
  10. Attend Trade Shows, Road Shows, Industry Conferences, Workshops, Seminars where your target segment is likely to participate. Network. Exchange cards.
  11. Make a refined list. Include those who came through your Campaigns and those whom you networked with recently.
  12. Invite them over to Breakfast meetings on Saturdays. Make Powerful and Inspiring Stories and Tell them these stories. StoryTelling is an art.
  13. Story Telling & Other Ways to Engage a Prospect.
  14. Generate awareness. On your Products and/or Services.
  15. Qualify your Prospects.
  16. Questions to ask your Prospects: What Questions to ask your Prospects ?
  17. Prepare a Qualified List of Prospects, those who are a fit and those who are most likely to buy your products or services in the near future. With this, Prospecting is completed. But the Sales Process continues. Keep doing these steps on a regular basis to have a constant supply of Prospects for your Business.

Happy Selling !!

Posted on Leave a comment

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 !!!

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

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
Posted on Leave a comment

Which of these Sales methodologies do you use ?

What are Sales Methodologies ?

Sales Methodologies are nothing but Strategies used in a Sales Process. We will come to the Sales Methodologies in a bit. Let us first look at the Sales Process.

Sales Process is a series of steps right from the lead stage to the closing stage. It contains steps from lead stage to various sales stages till closure including but not limited to Prospecting, Validating, Needs assessment, Budgeting, Mapping Customers Org Structure, Identifying Decision Makers / Budget holders / Influencers, Demonstrating, Proposing, PoC [Proof of Concept], Closing, Following-up.

But across the Sales Process, you need to use a Methodology – or in other words – methods / rules to run your Sales Process smoothly till closure. What should be your outlook through out your Sales process ? How you will sell your Products / Services ? That is captured by the Sales Methodology.

There may be many Sales Methodologies. The popular ones are:

  1. SPIN Selling : Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff, popularly known as SPIN. This was coined and popularized by Neil Rackham.
    • Situation: Questions to ask to understand the customer’s current situation.
    • Problem: To ask the prospect: What is your problem statement ? What are you trying to solve ?
    • Implication: What will happen if you don’t solve the problem ? What implications will it have on your organization ? On your financial results ?
    • Need-Pay off: What if the problem is solved ? What is the pay-off you get by solving this problem ?
  2. SNAP Selling : Keep it Simple, be iNvaluable, always Align, raise Priorities or SNAP. This was conceptualized and promoted by Jill Konrath in her book SNAP selling.
    • keep it Simple: Prospects are busy and are hard-pressed for time. Hence savvy sellers keep it Simple and make it easy for the Prospects to move forward.
    • be iNvaluable: Prospects now want to work only with Sellers who are knowledgeable. So you can now stand out from the crowd and make a difference. To differentiate yourself and win over frazzled prospects, collaborate with them as if they were already customers.
    • always Align: If you are aligned with the prospects’ goals, objectives and mental make up, then selling is easier. In fact, you don’t sell; you actually help the prospect reach her goals and objectives in the most effective manner.
    • raise Priorities: Your prospects need some outside validation on what you say you can do. Provide them that in the form of conversations with your existing clients, video testimonials etc.
  3. Conceptual Selling : You don’t proceed with a pitch of your product or service. Instead you ask questions to uncover the prospects concept of your product or service. This methodology stresses on Listening. And you focus on Getting Information, Giving Information and Getting Commitment. You ask smart questions to do these three things. And it should be a win-win transaction else you should walk away from the deal.
  4. 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.