Archive for April 2008

Your Sales Ingredients to Success: Part IIIb

April 24, 2008

Today we are going to focus on the second section of negotiating, namely the questions we ask during the process of negotiating the deal.

Questions: Discovering the How, Why, When and Where

The biggest thing I need to mention here is good preparation makes for good questions. While there are basic questions that need to be addressed with every client, nevertheless every client is unique, so tailoring the items that need discussing is critical.

One caution here though: Always remember that most sales people have presentations that sound completely canned. And in our day, our cans even come with a pop-a-top! How convenient! So just be aware of yourself and your presentation to avoid the pop-a-top action…it’s loud and completely noticeable. Just trust me on that one!

  • Open-Ended – These are the types of questions you should ask because your goal is to find out how they fell, what the are thinking, and what they truly want. If you use too many “yes or no” type questions, you not only get limited answers, but it can very discouraging for other people responding and they are certainly not going to warm up to you to share more detail.
  • Need-Based – You need to have true insight into what they need to accomplish. One of the ways to do this effectively is to ask them what is keeping them from accomplishing what they want. Have them describe the limitations. Some people don’t do this because they are afraid the answers may be the very problems their own product has. Don’t worry about that! Remember, we are looking for a good fit and if we truly can resolve the issue, why waste each other’s time?
  • Motivational – These are unique from the needs side in that they explore the desires and feelings of what is wanted. What is the true motivation behind the decision? Most of the time this can also pinpoint the time-frame for the buying decision so that you have a calendar of when things need to get done. Are their deadlines that need to be met? Is there some training involved to get them to that level quicker? Truly discover the motivation behind the needs and wants.
  • Probe; don’t Pry – I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to sales professionals that say things like, “You do want to save money right?” or “You do want to get this done by the end of the week right?”. I am sure you can see how unreceptive you might be if someone asked you these questions. How would you respond? You already know the answer to this anyway because you asked the right questions in the first place, so avoid the offensive questions you already know the answers to. Be cautioned about how you phrase the questions as well. This is where preparation ahead of time can help you think of better ways to ask the right questions.
  • Keep it simple – Keep your questions simple and easy to answer. Why? Because one you don’t want to make them feel stupid or ignorant to their own problems. Ask questions they will definitely know the answers too, and again keep in mind the phrasing. The smarter they feel in answering your questions, the greater you make them feel.
  • 3 Levels deep – This is a principle I learned long ago when I served a mission for my church in Chicago. It is a principle that basically says if you haven’t gone at least 3 levels deep, then you still don’t know what they truly want.
  • Guide the Interview – Be sure to ask questions that guide the conversation where it needs to go. Some people do like to ramble, so be aware off this and always find ways to bring the conversation back to the main focus: resolving their problem. I have seen so many sales professionals that use this guidance as an excuse to provide the answers for the prospect. This accomplishes nothing! At that point all you have done is come to your own conclusions without really addressing the main concerns or getting the real answers.
  • Listen to the Silence – I know we covered the listen part in the last section, but I cannot emphasize this enough as it accompanies a word that most people for some reason fear: Silence. Have you ever been in a conversation and let there be a moment of silence? It so powerful, but most sales people think that if there is silence that this is a bad thing. It is the complete opposite! It gives everyone a chance to reflect for a brief moment and truly think about their response. Don’t ever feel like you need to fill in a moment of silence. More often than not, this moment of silence was exactly what was needed. So let it happen! Think about it. When there is silence, are you not at the edge of your seat waiting for the response? When there is silence, how much more likely are you to truly listen to the response that comes because you had to wait a little extra for it?

So there you have it. In the last section of part 3, we are going to get into the details of negotiating. Please feel free to leave comments or email if there are specific examples or challenges you are facing in this area that I can address.

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Your Sales Ingredients to Success: Part IIIa

April 23, 2008

So before moving on to the “real” part III of these ingredients, I wanted to address the area of listening as it is a subject that I think needs to be detailed a tad bit more. As I thought about the section of negotiating, I also realized that listening is a part in and of itself. So this section will be dedicated to that of listening. A reader asked me to help out with more questions as well to understand this part of the process to develop a good basis for negotiating, so I am going to include another section on questions. As a result, part 3 will have a listening section, a questions section, and then the negotiating section. So on to listening!

Listen

Here are some key factors when it comes to listening. You may have heard these before, but the reality is you have to think about how well you are actually applying them to your sales process and in your presentations and negotiating skills.

  • Listen; Don’t Talk – Basically what I am trying to say here is pay attention. In fact, paraphrase what they are saying in your own words just to be clear. Sometimes they struggle conveying what it is they are trying to say, so listen first and then see if you understood it.
  • Switch off the Negative – Sometimes we hear or know things about those we are presenting to that keep us from concentrating on what is being said. Turn those thoughts off! Be receptive to their message, since it is going to help you in your delivery later.
  • Don’t Plan Ahead– What?! What do you mean don’t plan? What I am trying to say here is oftentimes as people are speaking, we are always thinking about what we are going to be saying next. Remember, you are not on your time, but theirs. Their agenda is your agenda until you know what they want to present later.
  • Analyze – Think about what they are saying and what they are not saying. This is similar to the listening part mentioned above, but by analyzing what is said it helps in paraphrasing and trying to understand what is truly behind their reasons for wanting what you have.
  • No Interruptions! – Not only is it inconsiderate, it is rude, and can ruin their train of thought as they seek to express why and when they will buy from you. Why would you want to jeopardize knowing that information?!
  • Gauge them in Conversation – Asking the right questions is critical here. Plus it shows you are truly listening and asking deeper questions because you are being genuine in knowing and understanding their wants and needs.
  • Take Notes – Ask permission to take notes during the conversation. Jot down the most important points to remind you later how to prepare your presentation or to refer back to later on in the meeting to clarify and adjust your presentation.
  • No Distractions – I remember when I was playing baseball, one of the player’s dad owned this airplane (you know the kind…very loud and sometimes had flapping words dancing in the wind as it rolled in the sky). Every year with the new freshmen that came in, this dad would fly the airplane overhead during tryouts. For those of us who were veterans we knew the routine, but for the newbies, they had no clue that the coach was testing them on how distracted they were during play and testing. I am sure you can imagine what happened to those who just couldn’t focus. You need to concentrate on your client, whether or not that sign flying by in the sky has your name on it!
  • Focus – Look them in the eye; lean forward; use gestures of understanding and body language that shows you are listening.
  • Calm and Collected – Part of the focus factor is to remain calm even when the client may get revved up in what they are sharing.

So there you have it! Like I said, this may be a repeat of things you may already know, but even the greatest sales gurus review the fundamentals. Especially on a down day.

Your Sales Ingredients to Success: Part II

April 22, 2008

So here we are to the second step to your sales ingredients. I apologize for not writing sooner as personal issues with my home and the fun sewer line has caused some delays, but I am back!

Presenting the Solution

  • Finding out the problems – Before you can truly present a solution, you need to understand the need or more importantly, the want. One the challenges many sales people face here is they like to jump right into the features of their product before they even understand whether or not the product is going to help the prospect or not.
  • Whose schedule are you on? – One of the other challenges is recognizing that the prospect is moving on their own time schedule, not yours. Are you willing to dedicate the time necessary to close a deal? Does the time needed justify the time spent? Don’t rush, and don’t ever sell when you need to, because the focus is no longer on them, but on you. Trust me…they’ll know.
  • Know the why – Why would they make a purchase now or in the future? What might some of the resistances be? Now this is not an invitation to pull out your set of answers to pre-determined questions or concerns that might come up. You need to truly gauge the prospect and understand the solution they actually need and want.
  • Budget – what budget are you working with? Are their constraints that need to be known up front? What is the buying cycle (same as above in knowing the time frame to buy)? What have they bought in the past (and not just from you but from competitors as well)?

Engage the Prospect

In order to truly present the right solution, there is an engaging process that needs to take place to get you the right information as you prepare the solution. Prospects can read you very well. When I interview people I can always tell when I ask a question or say something that puts the candidate in an interesting position. That’s why I ask them of course! They can see your confidence, attitude and belief about your product based on gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, and other movements (eyes, hands, etc). So if you are nervous, you need to rethink your position.

When I played baseball, it did not matter how good my skills were, or how well the strategies we had in place worked int he past. If I was nervous, or mentally out of it, I did not play well. Period. You are entering the game at this point, so be ready to play the mental game. Don’t worry so much about the skills as you have practiced already (at least I am assuming you have) just play the game. When I coached little league, I always told the players to focus on what they were good at during the game and nothing else. Practice was a time to focus on shortcomings, but once you started the game the only thing you should be thinking about is how good you are, and how great you are going to play.

When you sit down to present, you are in the game. FOCUS.

Listen

It all starts with listening. And not just to words, but you need to be what is known as an active listener. What is an active listener? Well I am out of time for today, so I will post tomorrow for sure and continue with a fun list of ways to know if you are good listener in the sales process. This will lead into our third part in negotiating the details. Until then!

New Business Starting

April 21, 2008

So I have been working with a developer for a new business idea that will be launched at the end of this year or early next year. The great news is that for those of you within my network that would be interested in becoming a member of my network can earn money by referring those you know for open positions in the Utah area. So I am inviting you to subscribe to a blog I have dedicated to updating you until the website launches. You are welcome to view it here:

http://hiremynetwork.blogspot.com

Thank you my faithful readers!