All Sales Problems are Management Problems

Face it, you should be selling more.

You’d like to make more money, you’d like to increase your market share, you’d like to get one over on the competition. You need to increase cash flow!

But your commercial director is telling you times are tough. Rates are under pressure, and the competition is doing crazy stuff to win business.

Your sales manager tells you that the team are working so hard they are wearing themselves out! They are struggling to find new leads, and once engaged in the sales process everything takes longer then ever to progress.

Or maybe you are your own seller? You do everything in your ‘one person band’ including product deliver, finances, accounts and everything else, and there is never enough time to devote to finding the next client or even to properly look after the ones you already rely on.

Selling is hard, times are tough, people harder to get hold of these days, buying is automated, margins are being squeezed, your suppliers are driving increasingly hard bargains, you’re no good at negotiating, you never know how to introduce yourself, the competition do such a good job, recruiting good people is really hard, you don’t pay enough to attract the right talent, marketing don’t supply the right leads, your website is rubbish, your CRM system is antiquated, your sales collateral is out of date, your inbound strategy is flawed, your pricing isn’t competitive, your product set is below par, you don’t have enough awareness in the market place… The list goes on.

All or some or none of these things maybe be true. But thats not the point.

‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else’ (Benjamin Franklin)

Either you manage the sales team or the sales team manage you. Either you mange your sales process, or the sales process manages you.

All sales problems are management problems.

Hire, train, and retain the best people in the market. Have a sales philosophy. Something that will stand up to the most demanding scrutiny. Have a plan – what you need to do in order to win – and make sure your sales people (or you yourself) stick to the plan.

Its that simple. And that difficult.

I can guarantee, that unless you are literally the ONLY player in your market, someone is taking cash off your table, by out promoting you and out selling you.

What are you going to do about it?

(With thanks as ever to my mentor in all things Dave Gifford)

How to ask for BIG money!

british_money_185257
Big Money

One of the biggest weaknesses I see in sales people, whether they are new to the job or dyed in the wool veterans, is a problem when asking for ‘big’ money.

The stutter on the price, or the hesitation is bad enough. But I’ve even heard sales people tell a prospect to ‘sit down’ because the price is coming and it’s clearly going to knock them off their feet! Or worse,  they start to go there with discounts before the price just asked for has even sunk in…

The one idea to get your head around is the link between price and value.

The issue is that if we think there is a problem with the price, or we think that the thing we are selling is expensive – it means we don’t value it. And that’s clearly problematic for the person we are asking to buy.

Business is a battle for the mind

The fastest way to position a product is through price. You don’t need expensive advertising campaigns or loads of PR. You don’t need website links or social media chatter.

Basically, if something is ‘expensive’ I perceive it to be good. 

If something is cheap, I perceive it to be not so good.

All things are relative, and your perception of reality IS your reality.

If I am considering cars for instance, I intuitively understand the ‘premium’ pricing of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari sets it apart from the day to day ‘run abouts’ of a Ford or a Fiat.

Interestingly, many of the cars in today’s marketplace are actually owned and made by the same people. So for instance, Ferrari is owned by Fiat. Volkswagen owns Bugatti. At one time Ford owned Jaguar and so on.

In reality, the difference in these products is very slight. They all take us from A to B. They all do it with four wheels and an internal combustion engine. They all run on air filled tyres and have some kind of exterior shell to protect us from the elements.

The only REAL difference in any of them is the price! And its the price that helps us understand the value the sellers are trying to convince us these products deliver.

Everything else is just buyer justification. Once we have decided we want to buy something everything else from the packaging to the warrantee is designed to justify the purchase to ourselves.

Ever thought about insurance?

Even the briefest investigation into our once  a year purchase must lead to the conclusion that its a huge gamble to buy insurance? The actual chances of something going wrong, heaven forbid, are really small – which is why the insurance companies are able to make so much money!

We bet against ourselves having problems with our cars, or houses or holidays or health, and for the vast majority of people nothing ever happens. And the insurance company keeps the money.

We justify it by asking ourselves ‘what if’?

I justify buying new golf clubs by telling myself they will make me a better golfer. I justify buying new clothes by telling myself I need look good to feel good. And so on.

And inexorably tied into our feelings of want and need are the prices of things. When we buy something that we want to make us feel good, a new car or a computer or a piece of jewelry – we intuitively understand that more is more. The higher the price, the higher the perceived value.

On the other hand, if we have to buy something we need for other than purely hedonistic reasons, like insurance, we want to get it as cheaply as we can. We don’t value it in the same way, but we convince ourselves we need it, so we want to drive the cost down as much as we can.

Is it like that for your product? Are you selling something luxurious like fast cars? Where the high price is actually an aid to your ability to sell? Or are you selling something like business services or marketing? The value of which is much harder to ascertain?

What you have to grasp is that according to the value sets we have all grown up with, the more expensive something is, the more we automatically perceive it to have value (generally speaking).

Actually under pricing yourself or your product or stumbling over the price / cost implies that you think its expensive. This so fundamentally undermines your efforts its not true. If you want to paint a picture of a highly valuable product, you need to do little else other than price it highly, and then come over as completely confident in that price.

You know that feeling that the sales people are weighing and measuring you when you walk into the Porsche garage? That’s exactly what happens! The prices there are really helping the sales people. If you can’t afford them you shouldn’t be there.

If you have to ask the price, you're in the wrong place!
If you have to ask the price, you’re in the wrong place!

If you can, then you are a bona fide prospect. In fact the psychology of the purchase is that you get a lot out of the fact that most people cant afford that car. That’s probably why you are buying it in the first place!

How much?! 

Ultimately, the reason you cant ask for the big money, or your stumble over the price is because you think that the product you are selling is ‘expensive’. In other words it isn’t valuable enough.

You don’t have faith in the thing you are selling in the first place. Therefore your chances of actually convincing the prospect of value are very slim indeed.

Go back to basics. Why are you selling what you are selling? How does it benefit the customer?

Look for success stories you can share with your clients to ‘back up’ your claims and the pricing structure that is attached to your product.

Speak to some of the more experienced people on the sales team. What do they think of the price? How do they ‘justify’ it to themselves? Never mind the clients!

Programme yourself to believe, and you will believe.

“Buyers only buy when buyers believe” (Dave Gifford). And you have to make them think that you believe, in order for them to believe.

And if you cant convince them?

Fake it until you make it.

All the world is a stage, and all the sales people players!
All the world is a stage, and all the sales people players!

Sales is about performance. Telling stories and turning the dial up on your language and approach so that you can convince the client you mean what you say is pure performance.

Asking for the cash is no different. Just do it. Practice saying it. Practice saying it until you can do it without that psychological stumble or the reflexive offer of a discount before the client has even asked for one!

The subconscious isn’t discerning. If you tell it something often enough you start to believe it! Ask for the cash with enough conviction for long enough and before long you’ll believe every word you say.

Otherwise, maybe you shouldn’t be selling it in the first place?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Minute Podcast: How to Overcome Any Objection

I think a lot about this topic, and how the very act of overcoming a clients objection can immediately set you off on the wrong foot.

They basically mean ‘I don’t want to talk to you’ and you need to tread with caution when overcoming these attempts to forestall the conversation. In fact, you should ignore the first objection!

As ever, please let me know what you think! And thanks for listening

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3 minute Podcast: Trust Like Respect

Another bash at the very clever medium of podcasts today. This one is prompted by a comment on the first podcast I did about why your customers dont buy from John Heany.

It was a great comment, very well thought out, and John talks about the trust that must exist between a brand and its customer before communication, much less sales can occur.

I slightly disagree with John, I’m not sure it’s that easy to build trust in this way. Have a listen to why I think that

And as always, please leave a comment below or email me at TonyDowling@completelyfreemarketingadvice.com

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Guest Post: Dressing for Effect

Jenny Bersin
Jenny Bersin

Another guest post today, from the lovely and talented Jenny Bersin, style consultant! You may remember Jenny’s previous post which created a bit of a stir with people coming out in favour or against personal style consultants. Though to be fair, few had issue with anything that Jenny said. 

Creating an effective personal style is as relevant for those in business as it is for superstars. Style: the Road to Freedom by Jenny Bersin of Jenny B Style and Image Consultancy, puts forward the case for having a strategy, or road map, for creating our own personal style. Here are some key pointers:

  • A perfectly clear style strategy gives us a real opportunity to be ourselves, and to present ourselves, in the way that we wish. To quote Gore Vidal: “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn.”
  • A style strategy gives us the chance to look at where we are and where we want to be; to signal who we are effectively and powerfully and manoeuvre change in a way that suits ourselves.
  • The difficulty in finding our personal style is when we have little, or no, direction – we need a plan for our journey as we would for a road trip.
  • Don’t confuse fashion and style.
  • Effective personal style is about speaking clearly without saying a word.  It is not about setting up a barrier to shield ourselves from the outside world.

Dressing for Effect

Dressing for effect can boost your business performance – research show that how you look affects not only how you feel about yourself but how you much you earn.  Polished and professional equates to 8-20% more pay .     (see: Why You Should Dress to Impress  the ROI of Fashion. Neil Patel & The Salary Reporter. Does Casual Dress Hurt Your Income. Lydia Dishman).

First Impressions Count

Meet someone new and it takes just three seconds for you to have made that indelible first impression.  With just a glance, you evaluate them. Two things happen so quickly they could almost be as one: firstly, you notice the quality and level of energy they give out; whether they are open or closed, charming or alarming, secondly, you respond to how they look from their grooming to what they are wearing… and they do the same to you!

In those same three seconds, they have appraised your visual and behavioural appearance from head to toe. They have instantly analysed your dress, mannerisms and body language. You may intrigue some and disenchant others but feel something about you they certainly will. If they like what they see they will unconsciously tend to see the best in you and look for opportunities to say “yes”. If they don’t like what they see, the opposite is true.

Then, inside a further 87 seconds, without you having said a word, you have been appraised and decisions have been made as to how good you are at your job, what your social standing is, how educated you are and how much you can be trusted. It will take six months for those first impressions to be changed.

On first meeting, only 7% of what you say counts, the rest is down to your dress, demeanour and voice. This is the basis on which interviews, meetings and sales pitches are won or lost!

Your height, weight, hair, symmetry of face and body are a big part of this first impression. Some of these things are beyond our control but with the art of style you can create the illusion of a near perfect business body.

Tease or Please – Your Choice

Those that tease are generally of the opinion that others must take them as they find; they may look dishevelled, disorganised or drab but beneath they are a power house of vibrancy, intelligence and diligence. They let their clients be amazed when they discover the person who lies below the surface!

Those that please take an easier route; designers and creators make it their business to look as though they have flair, originality and inspired thought, whereas teachers and solicitors meet the needs of their clients by looking dependable, honest and with integrity.

body language
body language can tell a highly detailed story  (Photo credit: shuaib_y)

Inspiring Confidence

Looking good at what you do inspires those you meet to have confidence in your skills.

So, how you move, gesture, sit, make eye contact and dress can directly affect what you earn. Get it right and you can be making 8-20% more than your competitors who don’t.  Making that right indelible first impression is good business sense and understanding how and why your appearance affects your business success enables you to create a salary boosting appearance and clinch the art of being in demand.

Getting results

Hard Skills – your IQ, certification, level of education ….. will get you an interview. Your Soft Skills   your EQ, time & team management, ability to communicate effectively … will get you the job and help you to move upwards. Much time is spent in the formal development of out Hard Skills. Too little time is spent on developing our Soft Skills. It is assumed that we just – “know”. Not true too many jobs and opportunities both professional and personal are lost because our Soft Skills have failed us. Soft Skill training gets us hard results!

Jenny Bersin of Jenny B Style and Image Consultancy, and Author of Style, the Road to Freedom

Soft Skill Training: Perfecting Personal Effectiveness, Dressing for Success, Addressing Dressing and The Art of Fiscal Attraction are just a few of the subjects covered in Jenny’s talks, workshops, small group and one to one consultations. To find out more contact Jenny on 01661 844190, e-mail jenny@jennyb.co.uk; or visit www.jennybstyle.co.uk.

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3 Minute Podcast: The Only Weapon We Have

Thanks for the feedback! I’m so encouraged by the first couple of podcast experiments I’ll try a few more, as always please let me know what you think?

This one is about the only weapon sales people have, and how to make sure its working at its optimum for you.

Enjoy!

Here’s the link to the site I mentioned SalesHowTo.net – Starring Mr Dave Gifford!

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