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Developing a customer’s mind-set!

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

I started my career selling Publishing Software & High Resolution Laser Printers before moving into Enterprise Software.

Working with Printers & Publishers & also coming from a Mech Engg background, I quickly developed an eye for precision in printing.

The first line in this post is a Pangram – a sentence that contains all of the letters of the English alphabet [not Google’s parent company]. 🙂

This is to check the typeface or fonts. Initially, I used to wonder what the meaning of this sentence is.

My clients looked at the samples I gave them, with lenses kept close to their eyes.

I gave them both image & text samples.

I met clients in their shop floor where printing was on. I have seen the printing units of many newspapers / magazines / security printers / big printers / small printing shops.

At one point, I started thinking like the way they think. Call it “mirroring customer’s mind-set”.

From then on, I was forever on the “Problem solving mode”.

Some lessons learnt:

  1. Understanding market needs
  2. What’s your expertise?
  3. What’s the [one] problem that you are solving?
  4. Who is your customer?
  5. Who are his current vendors?
  6. Why should they buy from you?

I strike the best conversation with customers when they are at work but are little relaxed & are in a vacation mode.

These festive times are one such time if your clients are from the manufacturing sector.

I met a Senior editor at a magazine at a time when he was just then blessed with a baby girl. He gave me a box of sweets. That was my first meeting with him. I came back to office & shared the sweets with my colleagues.

#HappySelling!!

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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!!

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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

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Conversation Starters!

How are you?

That’s weird & not what you should be asking your prospects or customers.

It doesn’t mean anything. Certainly not a conversation starter.

For you to have a fruitful discussion over phone or in person, you need to engage your customer in a way that sparks his or her interest.

If you understand their business & the person, you will readily have a range of things to speak about.

Some ideas:

  1. Innovations in their domain
  2. Pet projects they are working on
  3. What they truly care about
  4. Ask, what they are working on right now, in a non-intrusive way
  5. Milestones reached by them
  6. Their Products/Services
  7. Their People
  8. Their Work culture
  9. Their CEO
  10. Their campaigns & all the noise they are making in the marketplace

You got it.

It’s out and out their Story, their Show and your love for their Company.

Get them talking.

You shouldn’t be talking.

You just listen. And. Take. Notes. In your Mind.

#HappySelling

#b2b #sales #enterprisesales #business #changethegame #conversationstarter #engage #people #customers #prospects

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Optimism can win business!!

Little bit of negativity is enough to spoil.

Imagine two glasses, half-full, one with water & another with coffee.

Take one spoon of water & mix it into coffee.

You don’t see any difference.

Keep mixing spoons of water into coffee.

At one point, you will see that the coffee has become transparent.

Now, do the reverse with two fresh glasses of water & coffee.

Take one spoon of coffee & mix it into water.

What do you see now?

You are right. You are able to see the difference immediately.

#Negativity is like that. A little bit is sufficient to spoil the show.

Whereas, #Positivity takes time to show results.

In our interactions with our Clients, we should always be optimistic even though it takes time to show results.

Every interaction can translate into Sales if we have the right attitude & perseverance. I am assuming, product fit is present & the lead is qualified.

Post qualification, optimism & energy can win you business.

Thanks to Peggy McColl for the story.

#HappySelling

#b2b #changethegame #business #optimism #entrepreneurship

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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

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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

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Networking in Sales!

That was Year 1996.

I had just then started selling to Corporate. Until then, I was selling to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Selling to corporate called for lot more skills than selling to entrepreneurs & small businesses.

Networking skill is one of them.

We didn’t have #LinkedIn then.

I was hanging out where my clients met.

Road shows, seminars, conferences, product launches, workshops and any event where the corporate was in full attendance.

In most cases, the event would be conducted by our Principals – Microsoft, Oracle, IBM etc. We used to get a stall outside the hall to showcase our solutions.

Do you know how and when I met my clients?

During tea breaks and lunch time.

I sacrificed my lunch to go around and meet people. When they were having their lunch.

It used to pay off.

I would introduce myself. Exchange business cards. Would ask them if they are looking for some help.

I then promise to visit them soon and talk further. They’ll agree.

If there were 2000 people in attendance, I would have met at least 40 customers. That was just 2%.

But I have 40 contacts now.

I would start my outreach immediately after the event.

I provided value to my prospects before they bought anything. And I provided more value after the sale.

Coming back to networking, I networked not just with prospects and customers but also with competitors, partners and principals. Literally, anyone in the Eco-system.

I would know about the purchase of Air Conditioners by my prospect through the AC vendors, even though I was selling only Software.

All those strategies apply these days as well. On LinkedIn as well as otherwise also.

Stay tuned for more stories.

Happy Selling!!

#sales #customers #prospects #networking #skills

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Match the speed of your Prospect!

I was patiently waiting at a clients place to sell a particular software, let us call “Product A”. I knew before-hand that I am likely to meet a foreigner, a Brit working in India. And I was there to solve an urgent problem. That was a UK company into oil exploration & drilling on the coasts of Chennai.

What happens when you are the last to meet a customer on a given day is he/she would have already made the decision. But there is a distinct advantage when you are not the first to meet him. While I was waiting, many thoughts were flashing through my mind. Suddenly, I saw my competitor getting out after meeting, who else but, my prospect. I normally don’t see him unless he is closing a deal. I decided to roll up my sleeves and stay put there until I get that order that day.

I was called in. He was very friendly. Immediately, he handed over the server [I was a sales guy, technically incompetent, but can do a demo] to me, asked me to go ahead with the installation and demo. I have never handled a server until then. With no-help from anywhere, I went ahead and did a great demo that day. He was convinced.

All the stages of the sales process were started and completed that day. I called up my manager, took an approval to give a discount and quoted the price. Only verbal quote. And he typed the order in front of me, signed the order, got a cheque prepared since I asked for 100% advance. Can you believe this? What’s more? I came to sell one piece of software but sold him a suite of products.

Well, I won an additional order for another product that he had almost finalized with my competitor. And I picked up that order as well after a couple of days.

Take Away:

  1. Always [ALWAYS] match the speed of the customer.
  2. Don’t stick to your process.
  3. Get the problem fixed. Before your customer pays or even decides to buy from you.
  4. Ask for the order. If you don’t, how on earth do you hope to get it?

Happy Selling!