Posted on Leave a comment

Create a fast paced business climate!

I had just then begun to settle down in Mumbai. I started liking the place & the food. I fell in love with the business climate more than anything else.

What were the reasons for the fast pace in business?

In one word: Prospecting.

A forced one, that is. Due to lack of time.

You had no time to waste. Hence you did tight prospecting.

Customers didn’t have any time to waste too. He was crystal clear on his needs, budgets etc.

They meant business.

Is it possible to create the same climate anywhere else?

Definitely.

To recreate that fast pace:

1. Do prospecting well.

2. Value your time & prospects’ time.

3. Keep yourself extremely busy.

4. Squeeze more into your calendar & just get it done.

5. Plan the logistics & the route. Start early.

6. Keep the meeting agenda clear & concise.

7. Work like there’s no tomorrow.

8. Keep yourself fit.

9. Some rock music [like another one bites the dust / those were the best days of my life by Bryan Adams] will help you get into the groove.

10. There’s an opportunity around every corner. It won’t come to you. You have to GO GET IT.

You can say I was plain lucky or the stars were in my favour. Within days of my moving to Mumbai, I closed a big ticket ERP sale @ Johnson Controls.

“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” – Jack Canfield

Happy Selling!!

#happyselling #setthepace #gogetit

Posted on Leave a comment

Microcall

A friend of mine called up the other day. It must have been a couple of years since we met or spoke. Yet, we spoke like as if we last met only yesterday. That’s real friendship.

The call didn’t last for more than two and a half minutes. Microcall, if you wish to call it that.

That’s when an idea struck me.

I ask customers for an hour of their time. Worst case, 30 minutes. That’s too much to ask for, I now think.

Whether it’s an Intro call or a Discovery call, it can be done in 10 minutes flat, to start with.

Ask them, “would it be a great idea to catch up for 10 minutes on Wednesday post lunch?”.

I hate wasting my time or my prospects’ time.

I tend to be specific, clear and achieve something in every interaction.

It is possible to do that in a short call/meeting as well.

Happy Calling!!

Happy Selling!!

Posted on Leave a comment

Add Value, not Tax!

Once, I was pretty late into an Account. The deal was almost signed when I entered.

Can’t change it.

But I did the unusual.

I didn’t walk away.

Instead, kept in touch. Shared some interesting anecdotes from other customers.

Over time, I became the most trusted advisor.

The customer wouldn’t buy anything without consulting me.

He called me one day & reminded me about what I had told him months before about how a particular solution can save them money & time. I had almost forgotten about it.

The rest is history.

I closed that deal.

I even sat in discussion with their ISP, negotiated a good deal for them.

Implemented the solution. Customer realized ROI in no time.

It was a feather in the cap for him internally.

My learning:

1. Never underestimate the potential of any customer.

2. Just because you lost a deal, it doesn’t mean you will not win any future deals.

3. You can’t win without playing the game.

4. If you add value, you will win.

5. Show up everyday, deal or no deal.

6. Keep rocking, be energetic, smile always. They will like you if you do.

#HappySelling

#b2b #changethegame #scienceofsales #prospecting #sales #underdog #marketing #ABM #rapport

Posted on Leave a comment

Track your competition!

Those were the days I was hungry for leads.

I used to trouble my tech support guys for leads.

Not a good lead source, you say. Hang on.

One such day, my tech support guy said “go to xyz [name of a place]” unable to bear my pestering.

Not knowing where to go, I knocked on all doors & accidentally found a training institute & met few people. Left my cards with every other department where I couldn’t meet anyone.

Two days later, the unimaginable happened.

I got a call.

Rest is history.

That turned out to be a very big order for many software for multi location.

My colleague had been in touch with his ex-colleague & friend. He casually heard him say that he had been to that place but didn’t tell him the client name.

I found it out.

Later, I asked my colleague how did he get that lead. That’s when he told me about his conversation with his ex-colleague.

This story helps me work with optimism till date.

Takeaways:

  1. Follow your competitors, if you cannot be there before they do.
  2. Be optimistic.
  3. Ask your colleagues, if you are stuck somewhere.
  4. Be at the right place at the right time. If you cannot be early, that is.
  5. Highlight your strengths.
  6. Allow the buyer to contact you & help them make it their decision to choose you. This is very important.

#HappySelling

#b2b #changethegame #sales #marketing #leads #business #leadgeneration #competition

Posted on Leave a comment

Rediscovering the “Art” of Prospecting!

John Barrows & M. Jeffrey Hoffman conducted the webinar “John Barrows Goes Back to School: Rediscovering the “Art” of #Prospecting” yesterday or today [depending on where you live :)].

I enjoyed it thoroughly. What an energy & insight. Learnt about “Why you? Why you now?” technique to turn cold calls and cold emails to hot ones. How to get them to call you back?

It is important to connect with the C level but start from bottom. Bottom-up approach. That Fedex story is going to stay with me forever.

My takeaways:

1. Fake it to yourself until you actually make it.

2. Connecting with the non-buyer first to learn something that you can use when you have the live conversation with the buyer.

3. Prefer live conversations with a non-buyer over email interaction with a buyer. [more relevant now, when all of us are getting thousands of emails]

4. Look for triggers while prospecting.

5. Energy and enthusiasm are important in Sales.

6. Keep yourself busy always.

7. Do not jump on the inbound leads at once. Give it some time before you do that.

8. Do not use all that you have learnt in an MBA when you interact with the C Level.

9. Have the maturity to walk out of a deal early if there is no fit.

10. During discovery & prospecting call, disqualify more than you qualify.

#Happyselling #b2b #sales #salesprocess #changethegame

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. Maybe [maybe] 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.