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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

 

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Sales is not a sprint but a marathon!!

I happened to watch a portion of a documentary on marathon running. What I learnt is that it calls for more preparation than what is required for a sprint. Endurance is key for a marathon.

While speed and agility are important for a Sprint, one should save energy and stay in the game at a consistent pace, to be successful in a Marathon. But both require stringent practice. It’s needless to state that the training is completely different for each.

What can we learn from these and apply in our day to day Sales situations?

  1. Sales is not done on a level playing field.
  2. Techniques are for short term whereas in the longer term these simply don’t work.
  3. While a good start can give us a boost and make us look confident, it is only consistent performance that is going to keep us in good stead in the long term.
  4. Practice makes us perfect. So, let’s start practicing.
  5. Each situation is different. It may be a well laid out road / a pathway / a narrow path filled with stones or thorns / an uphill or downhill and it may rain / shine. Just like running a marathon, Sales situations also call for using our judgement on the ground.
  6. We should use our limited resources in a rationale manner.
  7. Let’s be prepared for the long haul.
  8. We may have to incorporate changes [slowing down or picking up speed] as we go along.
  9. We should focus on the rhythm and keep going forward.
  10. We should have less burn out for maximum productivity.
  11. We should know the route map well and be prepared for the encounters on the way.
  12. Most importantly we should enjoy the journey.

Some portions of a marathon resembles a sprint. So, the techniques will come in handy. We must be trained to handle such sudden sprints as well. And we should respond with speed and agility when the situation demands.

So, Sales is not just a marathon but a “series of sprints” as well. Success in one sprint or couple of sprints don’t guarantee success in the marathon. Marathon is a different ball game altogether.

If we know how to enjoy it, it will be a breeze.

Happy Learning!

Happy Selling!!

Contact us at:

sales at zignalytics dot com

#sales #salestips #crm

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What should your dashboard show?

Dashboards have been in use for more than two decades now. Initially, it was available only for the CXOs to stay up to date on their teams’ performance and targets. But it is now important for each one of us to use a dashboard to stay focused and reach our goals.

Let us take a quick look at how dashboards can help Sales folks:

  1. To get the focus back on deals that really matter.
  2. To get instant intelligence on deals.
  3. To know the Opportunities, Activities & Tasks – that calls for your attention.
  4. Reminders and Notifications: those missed deadlines, targets, largest open opportunity, some opportunity staying in one sales stage for longer than usual [velocity issues] etc.
  5. Your personal assistant of sorts: Suggestions and advice for you to take action before your manager gets to know about it.
  6. Closing possibility: what deals can close this month?
  7. Revenue level: what are the big ticket deals that are in the pipeline?
  8. Total open opportunities Vs YTD [Year to Date].
  9. New leads – created, qualified, lost etc.
  10. Weighted / Unweighted / Balanced / Ranked / Won Target – the various ways to look at the sales data and take action.

If you want a dashboard, please contact us:

sales at zignalytics.com

#sales #data #dashboards #targets #CRM

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America, August, Apple, Amazon – A’s & the Aces!

You must have read the news, I am sure.

Apple became the first $ 1 Trillion company in terms of market valuation in August this year, followed by Amazon, the second $ 1 Trillion company.

What makes Apple & Amazon tick?

One thing I am sure, they are focused on Customer Experience & making lives simpler for their customers.

Daniel Martins, an independent researcher says: “It’s too high of a bar to assume that they’ll succeed at everything that they do.” “But at the same time, I think Amazon is the best combination in the world of the scale of a large company and that entrepreneurial DNA with the spirit of a startup.”

So, that’s the secret.

It is reported that Apple took long to reach there whereas Amazon sprinted to get there. Amazon took 3 months to cover the last 200 billion whereas Apple took 15 months to do the same, news agencies reported.

Apple was founded in 1976 & Amazon in 1994.

Amazon generates an annual revenue of 178 Billion & in 2018 it may make a paltry sum of 8.5 Billion as profits. It employs around 550,000 people worldwide.

While there are differences between these two Trillion Dollar Giants, the common thing is this: They both know how to market and sell.

Jeff Bezos = Bill Gates + Warren E. Buffett, in terms of Net Worth.

Between Apple and Amazon, one sells at a premium whereas the other lowers prices consistently. You know who.

Some ideas to follow:

  1. If you do Marketing right, everything will fall in place.
  2. Create great Customer Experiences.
  3. Create excitement – on your products & services – and for people to work with you
  4. Have an entrepreneurial DNA.
  5. Have the spirit of a start-up.
  6. Be agile. Respond faster.
  7. Make lives simpler, better & a lot easier.
  8. Sell your dreams. Products will follow.
  9. Create a community of believers.
  10. Last but not the least: You can even start today. And Create. [I didn’t say “Compete”, for a good reason.]

Happy Creating!

Happy Selling!!

#sales #startup #ideas #marketing #branding

Contact us at:

Sales at zignalytics .com for any help in Marketing / Sales / CRM.

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An Interior Designer reveals his secret!

I asked him how me manages his customer data, in the hope that I will generate interest for a CRM.

He is my friend. And it was a casual conversation. He laughed & said “we don’t have too much data to manage”.

What he said after that makes sense.

He said that he & his team complete the interior designing of a flat or a villa or an office space & hand it over to customers. We make sure that they are happy, he said. They refer customers to us & most of our business comes only through word of mouth & referral, he added.

He said, he mostly gets invited for the inauguration of the property. It is there he meets his prospective customers. Now there’s the secret sauce. Hang on for a second. He said, if those people, his customer’s friends & relatives, who come for the inaugural function, like his work, they will take his business card & call him when they have a need.

This is nothing but in-bound marketing coupled with social proof, touch & feel & non salesy approach all put together. What more can you ask for? He has all the relevant marketing strategies with right mix & proportion. It is a well oiled machinery. It will take care of itself.

He should only concentrate now on deliveries, quality, speed & customer satisfaction. Fantastic, isn’t it?

Some pointers for us, to work on:

  1. Be where our customers are.
  2. Be non-salesy.
  3. Provide social proof.
  4. Let the word of mouth spread.
  5. Provide good customer service.
  6. Create a community of happy customers.
  7. Let our customers touch & feel. Test Drive, Free Trial, Freemium, Freebies, what have you?
  8. Get referrals. No sales involved with the referred prospect. Our customers do the marketing & sales for us.
  9. Pick up the phone. Meet face to face.
  10. Be friendly. After all, we don’t live to sell or do business & make money. Only.

Happy Marketing!

Happy Selling!!

sales @ zignalytics .com

#marketing #inbound-marketing #wordofmouth #referral