Take a Risk

Do you want to get to another level? Then take a risk. If you always stay within your comfort zone emotionally you will stunt your growth professionally as a sales person. We avoid things we are afraid of. The reason we avoid doing certain things is not because of the “danger” inherent in the action, but the perceived problems that will befall us if we take the action. We are not afraid of actually asking for a referral. We are afraid of the consequences we imagine that will accompany the ask. We might be afraid the client will see us as presumptuous, or pushy, or too salesy. We might be afraid that they will reject us. We fear the imagined consequences of asking. Here is how growth works. You face the fear and do something you have been avoiding. You get a result. Most likely what you are afraid of does not happen. There is no rejection. The client gives you a referral or explains that as much as they would like to give you one, they don’t know the type of people you are asking to be referred to. You notice that the stuff you feared the most either never happened or was not as bad as you imagined it would be. The next time you think of asking for a referral the fear is not as bad as it was the first time. The same result occurs. Eventually you realize that there is nothing to fear in asking for a referral and it is a natural part of your sales process. Most of your work starts to come by referral which is a much easier way to sell. Your pipeline and your income grow and you are at a new level and ready to get out of your comfort zone again to get to the next level.

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Be Proud of Your Price

Are you proud that your price is high? Or, do you constantly seek to justify it to prospects. If you think your price is too high, you will be vulnerable to rice objections from the prospect. The minute the prospect even hints at putting downward pressure on the price your inner voice will say “I KNEW IT. Our price is too high just like I have been telling management!”! If you have belief in your product or service and are proud to be one of the higher priced options in the market, when the prospect mentions that your price is high, your inner voice will say “and worth every penny and then some”! Something else will come out of your mouth in response to the prospects statement. Whatever that is will be powered by the belief that your product has value worth paying for. If you are not proud of your price you need to sell yourself first that your product is worth what you are asking for it. This is a simple but very powerful concept that will pay huge dividends.

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Fear is Temporary

You generally avoid what you fear. In sales what you fear rarely happens. If you avoid making sales calls because you fear that bad things will happen and horror of horrors you will get rejected, the rejection won’t happen, but neither will the income that would result from the call. Even if the rejection happens, the hurt is temporary. However, when your income is not what it should be, you may regret that you did not push yourself out of your comfort zone for a very long time. It is a fact that hardly anything really bad can happen on a cold call. The worst that can happen is that they don’t buy from you. And if you are rejected, so what? Your parents still love you, your kids still love you, your spouse still loves you and if all else fails your dog still loves you. Don’t live your life regretting sales calls you wish you had made. The hurt that you fear is very temporary, but the regret will last a very long time.

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Be Consistent

Consistency in any endeavor is the basis for skill development and compound growth. Deposit money consistently in your retirement account and you will experience true exponential growth in your savings. The same is true in many things. If you are consistent in your workout routine muscles will develop and your growth as an athlete will amaze you. Unfortunately, the same salesperson who routinely saves money and works out might also be erratic in how and when they apply a sales process. Their sales call pattern may also be very uneven, 12 calls today then nothing for a week while they work on other things. In order to grow at a rapid pace, it is necessary to use your sales process on every call and in every conversation not just when the mood strikes you. That is the only way to build skill and to internalize the sales process and the sales tactics. If you do not routinely use your sales process, then it will never become internalized and your results will be uneven and unpredictable. Likewise, your calling pattern should be relatively consistent. Your monthly call volume should be spared as evenly as possible over the workdays in the month. Wildly varying call patterns will most likely lead to not being consistent in how you approach each call. So, the problem compounds itself. Consistency in your work ethic and in your approach will yield compound growth in both your sales effectiveness and in your bank account.

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Don’t solve Symptoms

Do your deals get stuck? Maybe you are addressing symptoms instead of consequences. Most salespeople are pouncers. They hear something that sounds like a problem and they pounce. The prospect says that “deliveries have been a little slow” and the salesperson pounces on that hint of pain. They say “well mister prospect, we have an excellent expediting department and we are able to guarantee a 98.34 percent on-time delivery”. The prospect nods and the conversation moves on to the next topic. What the salesperson should do is ask more questions of the prospect to uncover what the consequences of the late deliveries are. For example, the late deliveries could be causing a problem in their production lines leading to production down time and lost productivity. That would possibly be a problem worth paying money to solve. However, the elite salespeople go even deeper. They realize that a true compelling reason to buy requires that significant consequences must result from the problem under discussion or the prospect will not be “compelled” to take action. Having a compelling reason to buy I s the first element in having a truly qualified prospect. A few more questions and the elite salesperson might discover that the prospect is a subcontractor to a major government contractor and late deliveries are causing their vendor rating to be depressed which has the effect of prohibiting purchasing agents to issue subcontracts to them no matter how good the product or how low the price. This severe consequence will most likely demand that the prospect take action. so the lesson is, don’t solve symptoms dig deeper to get to the consequences that will cause action to be taken.

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Challenge Implicit Assumption

When prospects make statements they are often based on unstated assumptions. Often these assumptions are not based in fact. If you challenge the assumption you can get to pain much more quickly and you can get into a deeper conversation. It is also more likely that you will be having a conversation with the prospect that the competitor is not having. What better way to differentiate yourself? The only problem is recognizing that the prospect is making an implicit assumption. That I can’t help you with since it is entirely dependent on the situation and to a very large extent dependent on a deep understanding of the domain, the technology or the application. But, once you recognize the assumption you should challenge the assumption. For example, in a software application, if you realize that the prospect is assuming that average delay in response is 2 minutes when they make a problem statement, you should ask something like “how do you know it is 2 minutes”? They might respond with “well we made an assumption”. You could then ask “based on What”? and now you are into a discussion of the problem at a deeper level. This might lead to a discovery that the prospect does not have a complete understanding of the origin or magnitude of the problem which could lead you in a whole different direction. For instance, it might lead to a contract to define the problem. The lesson is to listen for what is not being said as you uncover pain and challenge any implicit assumptions you “hear”.

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Be a Pain Seeking Missile

Sales calls sometimes get bogged down and go nowhere. Did you ever lose the thread of a conversation and end up having the conversation go in a direction that was not helping to move the pursuit along the way it should have? One way to combat that is to become a pain seeking missile. Just follow the pain where ever it leads, even if it seems like it is going nowhere. When you get to the real pain the prospect is more likely to act. Once you can get the prospect to open up and discuss what is really bothering them (at the deepest level) you will accomplish two things. First you will know what problem to work on solving and the prospect will more than likely move the ball forward. And second you will discover that you have a closer bond to the prospect. And the bonus is that if your missile fizzles without finding any pain, you can move on to a prospect who does.

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How do you know

Salespeople need to go deeper on sales calls. Prospects make problem statements or give information describing how bad a situation is. Salespeople accept those statements and move the conversation forward often without uncovering how serious the problem is or how valid. It is important for salespeople to dig deeper to get to the real pain and they struggle with how to that without sounding like they are prying or being pushy. A simple way to simultaneously get to a deeper level and validate that the problem is worthy of addressing while at the same time appearing merely conversational and not pushy is to ask a simple question. When they make a statement of what purports to be fact just ask “how do you know”. Or you can ask “what do you base that on”. Sometimes you find that there is no basis for the statement, it is only opinion and sometimes the question leads to further discussion about the origin of the problem and hence it’s severity. When asked with the proper tonality (honest curiosity, humility), it will never get you in trouble and it will enrich the conversation.

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Don’t Jump to Conclusions

Don’t jump to conclusions. Some salespeople are so eager to tell their story that they don’t wait to hear the real problem before they leap in with some statement about how wonderful their product is or a solution to what they assume the problem is based on sketchy initial statements. This behavior on sales calls will cause you to lose control of the sales call or even worse make you look pushy and cost you lots of money in lost sales. A better approach is to relax, listen, ask questions and dig a little deeper to verify that the prospect has the problem you initially assume they have. In addition to the problem, you need to understand the consequence the prospect is experiencing due to the problem and how he or she is reacting to the consequences of the problem. Only then can you begin to think about the solution to the problem. And remember the problem may have consequences you never thought of or it may be more or less important to the prospect than you initially thought.

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Only one Salesperson

When you bring people on a sales call there must only be one person who is the principle salesperson. One person should “run” the call. There should be a plan for the call and there should be a role for everyone on the call. If you don’t do this, chaos most likely will ensue. The reason is that people think they have to contribute to the conversation to justify their existence. As an example, the technical person may interject extraneous, though highly interesting, information that derails the salesperson’s line of questioning which was leading to pain.

At the beginning of the meeting it is best to define the roles of the attendees on your side so there is no confusion. Then one person should orchestrate the call. Who does most of the talking and leads the conversation depends on the goal of the call and the stage of the pursuit. For example, if the goal of the call is to engage in a technical discussion with the prospects technical people to determine if our solution will work, then the salesperson might introduce everyone, state the purpose of the call and hand the “baton” to the technical person to carry the conversation. Then, at the end of the technical discussion, the salesperson could wrap things up and close for the next step. However, if the goal of the call is to qualify the prospect, the technical person might just be there in case a technical question comes up. In that case the tech would not have a speaking role if no technical questions arose. Those are two extremes but the major point is that on every call, roles should be defined in advance, made clear to the prospect and there should only be one salesperson on the call.

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