Posts Tagged ‘overcoming objections’

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Practice to Win, or You Never Will

February 9, 2011

Your biggest competition in business is “don’t know”.

If the customer doesn’t know what your product or service can do, they’ll never buy. And, if your competition is telling your story for you, then the customer will never know how you can make a difference. (And, by the way, it’s “the” customer, not “your” customer, because of what they don’t know).  The same concept applies to the management of sales teams, where “don’t know” can mean the difference between a lost sale and a major victory. The way to defeat “don’t know” from a management perspective is to create an environment for sales practice.

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Professional sports teams and performers practice much more than they actually play – but in business, it’s just the opposite. How do you get better at sales, if you never practice?

If you are really in the advanced class for weekly sales meetings, then you have the skills to explain exactly what to watch out for, and what to do in particular situations. Ask for volunteers to answer the tough questions! In a “What would you do if…” situation, you play the customer, or the client. Call somebody up to the front of the room and let them shadowbox a little on the competition, or pricing, or other key objections. Let the best come forward and show their stuff. It takes guts, but if you do this right you will teach volumes to your team!

Look, I know that sales management isn’t acting class, but if you want a great performance from your people you better show ’em how it’s done. Practice makes perfect, but you can’t expect perfection if you don’t demonstrate it first.

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Dealing with “No, I’m Not Interested”

February 7, 2011

Often our perceptions are what keep us from hearing “YES” from the customer.

Instead of selling to people, consider that it is your job to teach them how to buy. (Of course, the way to buy is “profitably for your business”. I think it’s important to advocate for the customer, but not at the expense of the company that signs your paycheck). What information, if known by your customer, would change indifference to action?

“No, not interested” is the stepchild of “I don’t know” and “I don’t care”.

What do you need to teach the customer, to change their perspective? How can you teach a customer what they need to know, so that you can overcome your biggest competition (that would be “Don’t Know” and “Don’t Care”). Fight disinterest with knowledge, and teach your customer how to buy what they need. Teaching customers how to buy is the service that changes the game.

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Your Career Potential

December 3, 2010

For more information on reaching your potential, consider one of the upcoming seminars in Dallas – featuring career management strategies with Chris Westfall.

December 6 – Career Strategies with Chris Westfall, Westfall and Associates LLC

December 17 – Interview techniques with Chris Westfall, Westfall and Associates, LLC

For more information: Contact Chris Westfall at Westfall and Associates, LLC http://westfallonline.com

214.205.4662

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Fixing Alec Baldwin

September 17, 2010

While “Always be closing” makes for some interesting drama, it’s a recipe for disaster in this economy. Real sales strategies don’t come from Hollywood –  so, how about a plan that you can actually use?

Every sales person, every Alec Baldwin fan, maybe everybody who can read and write, knows the slogan, “Always be closing”. That was the message from his character, Blake, in the classic movie, “Glengarry Glen Ross”.  As much as I enjoy Alec Baldwin as a performer, “Always be Closing” is a recipe for disaster in the current economy. I’m seeing a lot of individuals “go for the close” (and fail) when what they really need to know is: how to go for the sale.  While Web 2.0 tools have opened up new ways of communicating and marketing to customers, there’s still a need to get face to face to close a deal.    If that scenario is something you deal with on a daily basis, then read on, MacDuff.

Here’s a little secret that is the one common characteristic of every successful sales engagement, and every successful sales person. The one most important characteristic of sales success isn’t the killer close, or mental toughness, or a strong forceful personality, or…or whatever.

The best salesperson is ALWAYS the one who is in front of a customer who wants to buy what they are selling. Think about it. Finding a customer that’s buying is the secret ingredient. It’s not some slick closing strategy or verbal kung-fu that forces a sale. If you have the talents of a monkey, and a customer that wants to buy what you’ve got, you are going to close a deal… and be able to pick up objects with your feet. Impressive! Qualifying an opportunity has never been more important. And, opportunities are scarce! So, how do you do when it comes to qualifying opportunities?

Based on my experience, the number one thing you can do to help grow your business -especially if your business is the “business of YOU”: learn how to “always be QUALIFYING”, and the transaction will take care of itself.

Are You Qualified to Drink This?
Questions are a great way to approach an opportunity, because of what is implied behind the curiosity. (And I’m not talking about questions like, “If I can drop the price by 2%, will you buy TODAY?!?”) The questions I’m talking about are the kinds that yield results – a series of “yes” answers that helps you to clearly define the customers needs. Your concern, your caring, your experience, your product knowledge all are conveyed …indirectly. It’s a style shift, and it can be subtle, but the results are huge. The message behind the message is that you are genuinely concerned about the customer’s concerns – and, quite frankly, the mutual fit for your agendas. You go from “telling and selling” to helping your customer to solve a problem. As you help to identify their needs, you tailor your services and solutions for what they want, not just what you can do. The best person to articulate customer needs is always the customer. If there’s no need, there’s no sale.

Of course, there are many more aspects of qualification. What’s the budget? How did you hear about me/my company/my gorilla-like reflexes, etc.? Have you ever seen/used/owned equipment like this before? What is the salary for this position? Etc. etc. All important questions, and all must be asked as part of the needs identification and implementation phase.

You still have to ask for the business. But closing is just the final step in the qualifying process. First, make sure that you’ve got a qualified customer that’s come forward with some real clear needs, and you are almost home. With all due respect to Alec Baldwin, remember to “always be qualifying”… unless, of course, all you want to end up with is a set of steak knives.

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“Please Just Send Me Some Information…”

June 22, 2010

Have you ever heard that one before?  When you’re talking with a prospect, and you just know that what they need isn’t information – it’s an exit strategy from your conversation?

For me, when I’m not interested or if a service isn’t appropriate, I say so and I also say why.  I sell for a living, and I always appreciate honesty, so I try my best to provide it when I’m in the customer’s seat.  I have found that people like to know where they stand; polite honesty is what I seek and what I try to give.

Still, if you are running into this objection more than you’d like, you may be getting the brush off.  Maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at your approach.

“Sell Your Cleverness and Purchase Bewilderment” – Rumi

So, is “more information” just another way of saying, “I’m not interested”?  You have to trust your instincts. If it feels like a blow off, it probably is. My question would be: Where does their interest go away? Is there a point in your story or your value proposition that is a turning point (or turn off, I guess you could say)?

The obstacle probably appears before they ask for the information. There are a lot of choices for products and services, but there should be a strong reason to invest (if it’s the right prospect and the right product).   But how do you know if it’s the right prospect and the right product?  After all, it could be that everything’s right…except you.

If I were you – and I felt like I was getting a brush off from a good prospect – I would put a great big pile of truth on the table. When I’ve been in situations where I’m getting a lot of pushback, I’ve used a version of this speech and it always breaks the ice.  It takes courage and sincerity to lay these cards on the table, but it has been very effective for me in the past.

If someone says, “Just send me some information”, try this response [with comments in brackets]:

“Yes, of course. [You can’t say “no”, because then you might look sneaky, evasive or even unprofessional!]  But I’ve run into this request a few times before, and it seems to always end with no interest. Quite frankly, I’m starting to think that there’s something I’m leaving out. Maybe you need to know more before you can agree to a meeting, or maybe it’s just not a fit for you right now. Either way, that’s ok. [Always always make it OK to say no –  unless you know how to squeeze people until money comes out 😉  ].

“But, would you help me to know if there’s one particular reason that you need additional information? Maybe [my product or service] is not a fit for you – but I’m interested in getting your opinion, so I don’t keep repeating a pattern that doesn’t seem to be productive. I’m sincerely interested in meeting with you, if for no other reason than to make my approach as professional and effective as possible. Would you be willing to give me 15 minutes of your time, and a little advice, so that I can understand what information is missing – and what you need – so that I can be more effective?”   (Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment…and get ready for a fastball from your prospect.  Summon your courage for what you hear in reply; it may not earn you commission, but you won’t get a sale until you find what’s missing.)

This approach changes the conversation: you are asking for advice, not for sponsorship. You must be sincere in this request (not a bait and switch, where you push them hard for $$), or it won’t work. And the prospect has to be willing to be really straight wtih you (not everyone is). It really does have to be OK for them to say no to the sale, because now you need info (not revenue, that comes after the learning). If an actual prospect can give you some advice, it would really help. With some clear feedback, you would know if “send me information” is sincere, or a smokescreen.

It’s also a good idea to call someone who did decide to buy in to your product or service, and ask them why. Then, use that information as a testimonial to explain to prospects what another customer saw as a key benefit. Step your prospects through that process – the one that ended with a sale – and explain how you would like to begin the same exploration with them.

The antidote for objections is always truth serum.  Get the issue out on the table, and see if the prospect can help you to find what’s missing.  Focus on the customer with a sincere curiosity, and it could give you just the clues you need to close that next opportunity.

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Sales Leaders’ GPS

June 2, 2010

A personal story:

As a young salesperson, I was in a training session at AT&T, getting bombarded with all sorts of “Latest & Greatest”  verbal kung-fu, cleverly disguised as sales strategy.  How was I going to remember all this stuff, in front of a customer?

Cerebral Iguana

My Brain at Work

My lizard brain was on overload!

I was concerned that I might not get everything out on the table, when I was with a prospect. What would I do if I forgot something?! I raised my hand and asked the sales manager, “there’s a lot of detail here…what happens if I leave something out?”  (Ever felt that way?)

He replied with one of the wisest things I have ever heard, and a piece of advice that I use to this day. Beyond the concepts and the process, you have to focus on the customer.

FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER AND YOU WILL NEVER LOSE YOUR WAY.

I keep this technique front of mind for myself personally, and for all who I have the opportunity to coach. Specifically, it means getting the attention off of yourself – you product, your process, and your “concepts” – and asking questions to make sure you are qualifying your prospect, meeting their needs, getting to their goals. At the same time, you will qualify your answers and create your own roadmap to the purchase decision. There’s no substitute for knowing your offer in detail, but knowing the customer trumps all else! By focusing on the customer, you will make sure that you find what you may have forgotten – and arrive at your destination (along with the order)!

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How to Go from Good to GREAT in Sales

April 23, 2010

I’ll let you in on a little secret, about how to transform from good to great in the sales game. The one thing that makes a good salesperson great: It’s always the customer.

If you have the talents of a monkey, but you are sitting in front of customer who wants to buy what you are selling, you will close a sale. Additionally, you will be able to answer the phone with your feet, but that’s another story.

Westfall and Associates, How may I help You?

(phones answered by 800 pound Gorilla)

If you want to see a great salesperson in action, concentrate on what the customer is doing. Great salespeople inspire action by meeting needs. Good salespeople do a lot of demos, and keep busy saying things like, “activity breeds results!” while hoping for the best.

If you can only do one thing right, Focus on the customer. If you lose your way in the sales process, focus on the customer. The customer will bring you back on track.

If sales is about meeting needs, the needs you need to meet (great english, huh? sorry friends, it’s my 9th language 😉  ) are only found within the customer.

For more thoughts on how to identify a buying customer, follow this link: http://bit.ly/deouak