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Stay Safe! Happy Working from home!!

I was living in Singapore then. Until I got a job in Singapore & went to work there, I had only seen Singapore in movies & it is needless to say that I was fascinated. From Chennai, I took the noon Air India flight, landed in Singapore after 3.5 hours & it was already 6 pm local time.

There was a pick up. The person who picked me up was doing the driver’s job as a part time one & he was working full time with the Singapore Radio. He was a Tamil, spoke to me like a long lost friend & dropped me in the guest house.

From then on my daily commute was in the MRT to office & back. Found my own PG acco later. The entire city was beautiful & I loved every single day.

I found a Punjabi Restaurant in City Hall & loved Singh’s Aloo Paratha meal for Lunch. I would be doing injustice if I don’t talk about my experience at Hotel Annalakshmi. My boss, Bala, took me there first & I instantly fell in love with the food & experience. Definitely not because of their policy that states “Eat what you want, Pay what you like”. Definitely not. I am not that kind of a guy. I just love good food & ambience.

In the work front, I had never seen such speed & agility. Buying decisions were rapid & coming from a laid back, slow & long sales cycle market, this was a different world altogether for me. I scaled up very quickly.

All this lasted for a while. Then came a shock. It was SARS. Many Indians went back home then. But I didn’t. I stayed back. Singapore Government did their best to contain it. All the elevator railings, lift buttons were cleaned every minute & the admin staff of MRT did their best. Health care people, I read then, were doing a phenomenal job. Unfortunately, many of them laid down their lives in line of service. Dedication. Salute them all.

Such a wonderful place. Suddenly there were many deaths. It was contained soon & things bounced back so quickly.

I am seeing a similar situation now. It has brought all of us together because we have a common enemy. Love & respect for fellow human beings have increased & is at its peak. Did you ever think this could happen?

Stay Safe. Follow advises strictly.
But don’t stop dreaming or creating or taking action or marketing or selling.

Things are going to be fine very soon. Much faster than you think it’s going to take. Will you be ready to quickly bounce back, then?

Happy Working!! [From Home]

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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!

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Do you want to look good or stay healthy?

They are mutually exclusive, it might seem. Let me explain why and how they are not.

But before that, let us get some facts straight. Looking good is so powerful, the “in” thing to do, to go for. I get that. Not to mention the opinions people might have about you by just looking at your looks.

When “looking good” is approached separately, it may or may not be healthy. Sometimes, you may even be pursuing something very unhealthy. If you know the science behind the fairness creams, for ex, you will know this and you will readily agree with me.

But not when looking good is approached together with staying healthy. When “staying healthy” is the goal, “looking good” happens anyway. It’s a by product. You cannot help it. Even if you don’t like it, it will happen. So, it makes sense to go for good health.

This is a Perfect Analogy for “Getting Business” and “Building Relationship”. Now, if you find & replace “looking good” and “staying healthy” with these two words, it makes perfect sense. Yes or no?

So, there you get it. You go for “building relationship” and the other naturally happens. It has to.

In the initial days of my Software Sales Career, when I was wandering the Tier 2 towns and cities in the State of Tamilnadu, India, frantically searching for customers, I found one automobile dealership that had all the required DNA to become our software reseller in that region. We eventually appointed them as our Partner for the region.

The owner had done his Engineering from IIT & PG in Management from abroad. I bet, you cannot say that when you first look at him. He had that ruffian looks. But after he starts speaking, you may have to change your opinion about him. He inspires confidence, commands respect. When you are with him, you get a feeling that you can achieve anything. Yes, any dam’n thing. What a man, he is. I am yet to see anyone who is like him. My salutes and respects to him. He continues to inspire me till date.

Take Away: Focus on building the relationship. May your interactions with your clients inspire confidence in them & command respect from them. You will get a call from them when they need your services.

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Dine with your customers!

There used to be light rain almost every day in the afternoons in Singapore. The already clean roads get washed up yet again. Smell of the earth would be evident all around. It makes you feel energetic and more productive.

One such afternoon, I was learning how to hold the chop sticks. From one of my customers. I was a Vegetarian then [Vegan now] but that was a Chinese restaurant that considers small fish as Vegetarian. I had to explain several times to the bearer both symbolically [in sign language] and verbally saying “no small fish”.

My guest taught me how to hold the chop sticks and I really learnt it. You won’t believe, I was picking up rice with the chop sticks. It surely helps to eat less quantity in one mouthful and chew it well. May be, a lesson in Sales as well: Take up only what you can chew. And chew it well.

What happens when you dine together? You get to know the person personally. You get to know their interests, likes, dislikes, passion, hobbies etc. You build a strong trust based relationship. You don’t go with an agenda. You go with the flow. Eventually, you build a great relationship.

That was not the first time or the last time I dined with Customers. Even in India, I have dined with Customers. That’s a secret recipe for a great relationship. Customers want to deal with someone who is as much human as themselves.

In the last few years, I have built a style that I follow, when I dine with customers & prospects. I narrate stories from my life and what I learnt from it. That sets up the conversation. I don’t intend to close or anything. But I have probably created a strong emotional buy-in in the minds of my customers.

I am sure you have stories like these as well from your Sales experience.

I think, majority of us in Sales, that includes me, do not stay in touch with customers with whom we had built a great relationship.

Take away: List down some of your old customers and get back in touch this week. You may be in for a surprise.

Happy Selling!!

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Going the extra mile in customer service!

Those were the happy days of my career. I was just then starting off in Sales and beginning to learn the ropes. One thing I was very clear right from beginning was that I would deliver on the promises I made and see to it that the customer benefits from the association. And “business is not always done for profit” is something I truly believed. In every interaction I wanted to provide value.

There was an account, a Public Sector Bank, which I wanted to break into. [No, not as in “I wanted to break into a bank”.] Jokes apart, it was pretty difficult. Then an opportunity came by. I did everything I should and won the order. It was an order for a software with multiple licenses, one for each location. That must have been during the year 1996. The Software was available on CD but this client requested for floppy disks. Well, we had an option for 3.5″ disks. But the client had only 5.25″ floppy disk drives in all locations. I committed to the client that we will deliver the software in 5.25″ media that can be installed. Of-course after checking with my tech support executive.

Going the extra mile to satisfy the clients.

I was fortunate to have had colleagues who would back me up and deliver on the promises I made to the clients. One day rather one night, the tech support executive and I stayed back in office. My colleague cracked it and created a installable copy on 5.25″ floppy media. All I had to do next was copy that set onto blank 5.25″ floppies. Though it was a very laborious task, I did that. We must have been awake till about 3 or 4 in the morning that night. Finally we delivered on our promise.

Do you have such stories to share? Please let me know in the comments.

Happy Selling!!

#customerservice #salestips #sales

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Sales professionals are positive thinkers!

I am passionate about Sales. I truly believe that Sales is one profession that is unlike any other. No business can survive if Sales does not perform and perform well. Come to think of it, all the sales folks across industry verticals share some common traits. They are all performers. They all think they are born to win, lead, educate, help, bring about a smile, change the way anything is done, change the world. They all generally treat people very well. They trust others. If you look closely at Sales people, they will not discourage other sales people. I answer my phone with courtesy and talk with enthusiasm to the caller and answer her questions in the most polite manner even when I know that I have no use for what she is trying to sell – be it a personal loan or a credit card or a car loan. It is a frame of mind. Positive one at that. If you are a true sales professional you will get what I am saying. That positive frame of mind is what makes us different. That’s what makes us go out in the market, do prospecting, meet clients, build relationships, build trust and finally truly help customers achieve what they want to. No pitching. No “Sales”. No hype. No “Marketing”. What I am good at is what I will do. And leave the rest to the professionals who are experts in the respective areas.

Now you know why I love Sales.

Let me tell you a story. Week after week I was projecting a very big number from one particular account in my reports. My manager asked me not to project it. But I continued projecting it. That was a time I wouldn’t listen to anyone. And speed did matter to me as well. Usain Bolt wasn’t known then, else I would have considered him my role model. In this particular account, things were moving at the speed of a tortoise. But I wasn’t ready to give up. We had a meeting with our Principals [whose products we were selling] and I continued my projections even in that meeting without naming the account since there were other competitors. So much so that the Country Manager asked for a meeting with me and my colleagues after that session. Obviously, when the number I quoted was far higher than the sum of all the other numbers quoted by all of them [present there] put together. I was confident. I was asked what was my plan, how will I make it happen, how did I break up the numbers and what are the billables. I answered them all. Our Principals promised to work with us in that account. Eventually we won that order. It was huge. One of a kind. Record breaking during those days.

The message I am carrying with me all these years is this: I am a successful sales person who strongly believes in helping customers. There is no other sure shot smart way, I can think of.

Hope I pumped up your energy levels. You have it in you. Don’t forget your past successes. There lies the recipe for your success. Feel the raw energy in your veins. I listen to peppy music. I keep a hand grip on my table and keep pressing it from time to time. More importantly I keep a list of accounts on my table that I have won so far in my career starting from my first job. That inspires me a lot than anything else. Try it out for yourself and let me know.

Happy Selling!!

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15 Tips for Winning a Sale!

How many times have you been so close to closing a sale but lost it in the end? I have been there many a times. But I didn’t lose the lesson. Let me sum up my learning and guide you to make a successful closing.

1. Ask for the order:

If your prospect keeps postponing the order without any real reason then they are trying to avoid you. You need to have the courage to ask them for the order and hear their real objections.

2. Qualify, Qualify, Qualify:

In the prospecting stage, we all make this mistake. In order to have as many prospects as possible in our pipeline, we try to qualify in a hurry and let some prospects into the pipeline but in reality they aren’t ready yet or do not have the need or money or both.

3. Probe, Probe, Probe:

Ask as many questions as possible during the sales process. Questions only lead you to find the real objections, find the real needs, know the budgets, get to know the decision makers and buyer’s perspective of your brand / product / company.

4. Face the objections and solve them:

Unless you face the objections and solve them you will lose it to your competitor. If there are no objections, then it means there is no need or you simply haven’t sold enough.

5. Assume you have won the order and talk about the next steps:

When you reach the closing stage in the sales process, ask them if they would need the delivery in a week or can they afford to wait for a fortnight. Would they prefer to get their people trained at their office or at your office?

6. Nurture the prospect:

Create the need if there is no need in the first place. Make them want it. Keep feeding them. Grow the relationship. Become the only face to remember for their needs.

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

7. Figure out the reasons why they will not buy:

Early in the Sales Process, write down the reasons the prospect may have for not doing business with you or for not buying now. Try to address those. If it’s not possible to address them, drop it and move on to the next prospect.

8. Read the buying signals:

Have you implemented this for any other customer in our Industry?

What’s the RoI?

Can you provide me a cost savings calculation with your solution Vs competitor’s or Vs current systems.

How long will it take for you to deliver?

9. Align with the buyer’s journey:

Understand what stage the buyer is in right now and align with the buyer accordingly. If you are behind, it will be an insult to the buyer and if you are ahead then it would mean you are jumping the gun and in a split second the buyer would have got his reasons to reject you. Now, the prospects do their homework online prior to calling you, the salesperson.

10. Be confident.

11. Be Persistent. This is the key.

12. Build Trust. No one wants to do business with someone who is not trustworthy.

13. Be Patient:

It’s a marathon and not a sprint. Sales is not a sprint but a marathon!!

14. Put their needs before yours.

We get it. You have monthly targets to meet. But that’s not the prospect’s problem. They are not there to solve your problems. On the contrary, you are there to solve their problems.

15. Help them buy. Don’t sell. Ever.

All of us like to buy. Don’t we? We think the product or service that we are buying is going to make us a super hero. It is going to make us look modern. Belong to a cult. Put us in the upper crest. Will help us reach our goals. Make us knowledgeable. Make our lives easier, comfortable and efficient. Now, help the prospect achieve his / her goals and help them buy.

Happy Selling!! [I hear you ask: doesn’t this contradict the 15th item above? :)]

 

 

 

 

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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 !!

 

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Your Greatest Weakness is Your Greatest Strength!

Sales People are by far the only ones who do not stop learning. Yet they feel inadequate and identify areas of improvement. And continuously they upgrade, refine & groom themselves.

Your Greatest Weakness is Your Greatest Strength!

Identify your Greatest Weakness / your business’ Greatest Weakness and you will be on your way to achieving Great Success.

Some thoughts to help you identify your weakness:

  1. Customers are smart. If you fit the bill, you are in. Else, you are out. It’s that simple.
  2. It is all about Perception. How do customers perceive you? What you think about yourself does not matter. What matters is what other people think of you.
  3. First impressions last longer. So work harder and give a good first impression to your customers.
  4. Dressing up well to give a Professional outlook. Or having a sparkling office that readily proves your worth.
  5. Giving respect to Customers.
  6. Asking for feedback.
  7. Your knowledge on your Product or Service.
  8. Being in tune with times.
  9. Customer Experience. In every step of the buying process and beyond.
  10. Being Sincere.
  11. Showing utmost seriousness in solving customers’ problems.
  12. Ensuring that the excitement that you created around your Product / Service stays forever. Or work on that and keep the excitement on.
  13. Delight: Always having something to surprise the customers.
  14. Easily accessible, no waiting time, more parking space, to the point, forward looking, well meaning, helping & solving problems.
  15. Adding Value. Don’t you want to move up the value chain?
  16. Working with you & your business adds to the Customer’s Brand Value.
  17. Do your existing customers vouch for you?
  18. Meeting your existing customers regularly.
  19. Does your Customer Service team meet the demands of your customers and generate more business from them?
  20. Are you an early adopter of Latest Technology?

Do you have any thoughts on this. Share your valuable thoughts with us.

Happy Selling!!

For any help in Marketing, Sales, CRM please contact:

kannan@zignalytics.com