Sunday, January 20

Close more sales 

Just submitted this to Sales & Marketing Management - I'm on fire!!

Closing effectively is all about answering this question: "What can you do to minimize the risk to the prospect of buying your product or service?" Look at all the products out on the market that offer risk-free, money back guarantees. Do you offer guarantees, warrantees, refunds, free trials or make-ups?

In today’s “do more with less” business environment, many economic decision-makers have a new top priority – and it’s not “making the very best choice.” It’s “not making a mistake that will cost me my job.”

If you can reassure someone with this mindset that buying from you is smart and safe and risk-free, you will automatically close more sales.

Ask yourself the following questions:
* How can I provide a free version of my product or service?
* What can I learn from the auto industry’s new trend of “the 24-hour test drive”?
* What does the buyer have to lose if they buy from me?
* What do they have to gain?
* How can I ensure the buyer’s success – not just their satisfaction?
* How can I employ the concept of risk-reversal – meaning that the risk is all on my side if they don’t achieve success?

When most sales training programs talk about overcoming objections, they usually don’t discuss the real objections that are in most buyers’ minds. These are things like:
* I don’t trust you
* I don’t believe this will get the results you say it will
* This sounds too good to be true
* If this works, I would have heard of this solution already
* Who says so besides you?

You should understand (and expect) that people probably will not trust you in the beginning of the sales process. They have been sold stuff all their lives “against their will.” They bought the steak knives, the insurance, the Girl Scout cookies, the raffle ticket, or the car and regretted it later. (OK maybe not the cookies.) Trust has to be earned over time.

To address these aspects of buyer resistance, you can use a battery of smart sales tools. You may be using some of these already, but the more you pile on, the more effective they will be.

Start to collect, use, and document:
* Client testimonials (letters are good; audio and video are even better)
* Awards and industry recognition of your product/service
* Press clippings and articles mentioning you or your clients using your product/service
* Objective, fact-based side-by-side comparisons with competing products/services
* Cost analyses and comparisons between using your product/service, using the competition, doing it themselves, and doing nothing

All of these items will help reduce risk, build credibility, and pave the way for closing more sales - even to your toughest clients!

-- David 610.716.5984

Thursday, January 3

Sales lead management for consultants 

I wrote the following for Sales & Marketing Management and wanted to share it with you here as well:

If you want to start increasing your percentage of closed sales, one simple way to start would be to increase your awareness of sales lead management - the tightly-linked sequence of steps that your own particular sales process involves.

Here is an example of what a well-linked sales lead management process might look like:

1. Research industry, company, decision-makers, and current business situation.
2. Send relevant article /tip sheet/ newsletter.
3. Send introductory letter and 2nd info item of value. Mention intention to call.
4. Call to set appointment.
5. First appointment - listen, share, verify and apply research from Step 1.
6. Mention follow-up and next step (another appointment, a free trial, assessment, phone call, etc) and set specific date.
7. Send follow-up item addressing specific issues from appointment learnings/ discoveries or needs assessment. Set meeting to discuss and customize.
8. Compile and send needs assessment findings.
9. Second appointment. Address questions, issues and ask for go/no-go decision.
10. Submit proposal with three options.
11. Third appointment to discuss proposal details, options, pricing, timing
12. Implementation decisions: payment terms, delivery schedule, etc.

The overall idea is to never move off the current step in your process without agreement on the next specific step. Make sure YOU remain in charge of the process; this is proactive selling.

Get agreement and follow up with a reminder of the agreed-upon steps, meetings, dates, etc. The linkage of “agreement to agreement” also gets the prospect in the mindset of saying YES to you, which during the final agreement [closing] will be important.

Use broad (and thus comfortable, non-confrontational) checkpoint questions such as “Does this make sense?” or “Would this make a difference to your situation?” or simply “What would you like me to do next?”

Set up a clearly defined, well-linked sales process, and then use lead management systems to automate, track, distribute, and report on the results. But using sales systems without an underlying consistent sales process is just sloppy selling.

-- David 610.716.5984

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