structure - strategy - sanity

I was thinking the other day about my consulting practice and what others are doing in the sales training space. I was wondering what I do that keeps my clients engaged (and paying my invoices!). The answer is that I provide a strategic sales strategy with specific tactical sales training that works dependent on what is going on in the sales pipeline. I do simple, common sense, chop wood – carry water strategic and tactical sales training.

Other trainers do a lot more tactical stuff and a ton of it is great. The questions I have are when do use a tactics like, scripts for appointment setting, objection handling, trail closing questions and so forth? How do you coach effectively a team where there is naturally a difference in skill set and personality?

So back to strategic and tactical. What the heck does that mean?  What is the difference between tactical and strategic? Now the truth is that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so for that answer I turned to someone a bunch smarter than me… my wife! (it’s way true).  She said think of it this way.  During a war, there is a strategy set by leaders with an overall goal in mind.  Tactics are the individual actions necessary to carry out the strategy that moves you incrementally towards that goal.  Tactics are the substance of strategy and require solid management and leadership. Ah ha!

I tell my clients that they need to be careful not to confuse the activity with results. Very likely they are confusing the tactics with the sales strategy. Are we arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? How do we keep from getting caught in this dilemma? Simply, by keeping a keen eye on the sales strategy with incremental key measurements towards the goal and then adjusting and sales training around the tactics that support it. All of the best tactics in the world won’t get you there with a flawed strategy. A simple sales strategy defines and measures the tactics that create a successful outcome, not the other way around.

Bob Davis is the President of simple.sales.strategy in Austin, TX providing sales training and holding sales people accountable to a proven, systematic sales system. He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com



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Sales Training Tiger

I love to tell the story of my typical client. She builds a company on a real passion for the widget. The passion is her sales strategy. She is so passionate and enthusiastic she brings down a few accounts and starts to grow. She has not had a day of sales training.

The pressures of the business keep her inside in manufacturing, operations and management activities, all necessary but taking away from her sales activities. Ah! The Solution! Hire a sales person, “my widget practically sells itself!” So she reaches out to find a sales person. Let the sales training begin!

A candidate is found, good resume, sold some stuff before, has a nice personality and a bonus, she likes him. The hire is completed, her new rep is sent into the business for a few weeks to learn the ins and outs of widgets. The next step is to travel around meeting clients to learn why they buy this particular widget. Now it is time to show the rep to his new office to belly up to the phone, boot up and thumb through this year’s Austin Business Journal Book of Lists to research leads. As she leaves his office she will say (9 out of 10 times this happens!) “Go Get em’ Tiger!” End of the sales training.

Fast forward 6 months later and well…. It’s surprising how many small and medium businesses (and startups) are guilty of this action plan–and the problem is that many business owners wonder why it didn’t work and then become concerned (rightfully) about the cost of training and salaries (there is no or little commission!) that they invest in unsuccessful sales hires.

The Fix? A PLAN– based on clear action steps, understanding your best clients/prospects, knowing that most reps quit at 3 calls and having a system to contact prospects 7-8 times (that’s when they buy), performance metrics that drive accountability, appropriate training and corrective action while systematically driving a series of prospects down a structured pipeline and as a result – booking business.

Motivating your sales force is a necessity–but what separates small businesses from larger businesses is a true sales plan, based on clear action steps, building a pipeline, and holding sales people accountable for either closing deals, moving prospects to close and managing profitable business.

The good news is that building a sales plan is not difficult–but it does take management and persistence. So you shouldn’t be surprised to know that is what I do and I do it well. Let me know how I can serve you.

Bob Davis is the President of simple.sales.strategy in Austin, TX providing sales training, strategy and holding sales people accountable to a proven, systematic sales system. He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com

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sales training

Let’s Make Hay !!

On May 29, 2014, in Sales Process, Sales Training, by bob davis
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What a wonderful “not-like” Austin Texas Spring we are having! It makes me think about the long hot summer to come. So I need to ask…. is this an excuse for slowing down and taking it a little easy or is it time to make “HAY!”? Your call of course, but if you are in the “Let’s make Hay Camp” here are a couple of Austin networking and Austin sales training ideas to jump into June with some momentum.

Networking Events

At The 8 Minute Ripple !
Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
815 West 47th Street #100, Austin, TX
This Friday May 30th
11:30 AM TO 1:00 PM
REGISTER

Austin City Wide Happy Hour
This month Author, Speaker, Business and Socialization Expert Patti DeNucci is going to kick us off. Patti is the Author of the award winning book The Intentional Networker.
iPic Theaters
3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, Austin, TX
Longhorn Lounge
Wednesday June 4th
Doors open at 5:30 pm
Kickoff at 6:00 pm
REGISTER

“7 Ways Great Sales People Think (and Do!) “
Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce Luncheon
Hill Country Bible Church, 12124 RR 620 N.
(the corner of 620 & Little Elm) Northwest Lobby entrance
Wednesday June 11th
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
REGISTER

And I am Building an Accountability and Coaching Sales Team in June
If you would like a high accountability MASTERMIND Sales group that is not only supportive but provides selling solutions, check this out.
Alternate Tuesdays + Thursdays are being scheduled now.
DETAILS or call me to discuss 512 658 9500

 
sales traning

Sales Training Sucks

On May 21, 2014, in Sales Plan, Sales Training, by bob davis
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Well!! A little strong you might think? Is it really? That sound is your hard dollars going right out the window. Here is another great sales training idea – lets provide that training when your prospects are buying and then we can add the cost of lost opportunity to the sales training and get an even better sound!

Now I don’t want to get carried away here, there are a lot of great sales training “systems” out there and they work. For a while. That is the problem, the  “for a while“. How about a solution then? In order to offer that up I need to ask a few questions about your sales team.

  • Which rep knows what a valuable prospect looks like?
  • Who is your best appointment getter?
  • Who manages their time efficiently?
  • Which rep makes the best presentation?
  • Who has the deepest product knowledge?
  • Which rep can build “value based solutions” beyond the price?
  • Who can build rapport easily?
  • Who is your best closer?
  • Who nurtures and grows accounts?

If you were to take your top rep and grade her on the abilities above, I would bet that she executes them all really well. Some she might like doing, others not, but she does them. So the answer. Identify the specific weakness or weaknesses, train and coach your sales team on the individual areas of improvement.

It is that simple. That is how you can make your sales training dollars work. The only way to know this is to measure activity in a defined pipeline or stage. Building a sales pipeline and measuring the results gives you the information that will allow you to improve results for everyone on your sales team and the ability to provide solid sales training. When you see a “choke” in the funnel, get them help -provide specific training and direction. It does not cost a lot of money or demand a lot of your resources. In fact the internet alone can provide great tools to point them in the right direction. Or consider one of the methods to get this information  to you via the TRAINING tab above.

Measure and Manage. Simple and Sustainable Improvement.

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In my sales trainings I’ve noted that most reps often consider sales objections as a negative. A quick look at the other side of the coin will allow you to see that they are positive part of the sales process.

Consider this idea. Sales objections are part of the communication. Often they are a “stall”, used in an effort to get you off the phone. In many other cases objections are “signals”. In either circumstance they are valuable if you use them to your advantage. How?

Here are some thoughts, guidelines and scripts to consider.

While there is no way to anticipate all combination of sales objections and responses, it is important that you make a list of the common sales objections (there are a lot less than you might think) and have a series of questions and responses that help you move the conversation towards your value proposition. In this way the conversation will allow you to differentiate yourself and company, creating an “impression” with the prospect.

Plan it out, anticipate and role play. The goal is to address the objection in a way that creates enough interest in the prospect to set an appointment, demo or next step that keeps the prospect and conversation alive or qualifies them as a lesser prospect for your product or services so you can move on to more valued prospects.

In general there are two types. “Buying Signal” or the “Brush Aside or Stall”

Buying Signal Objection Guidelines

  • Empathize. – Acknowledge that you understood.
  • Repeat – Confirm your understanding.
  • Question – Based on the objection, question or probe to flush out the reason for the objection.
  • Listen – Carefully listen to determine if your product/service has a differentiating value.
  • Respond – Reply with your value proposition. Try not to sell on the phone (unless that is your current process).
  • Ask – Ask for an opportunity to set an appointment to discuss in detail your product/service and to learn more about your prospects needs.

Here is an example of how I handle a “Buying Signal” objection in my business.

simple.sales.strategy  Intro: “Good morning Mr. Prospect, My name is Bob Davis with simple.sales.strategy – I help businesses such as yours develop and execute a sustainable and simple sales plan.  I have engaged with over 30 companies in Austin and they speak highly of my work, I have helped them increase revenue and margin while building a strong and effective sales team.”

Prospect Objection (aka sales objections): “We have done sales training in the past and it didn’t work for us.”
(Note: What I’m really hoping for is … “Who are you working with?” Then I have stories that illustrate my value.)

S3:  “Mr. Prospect.. I understand. What about that training was disappointing?”

Prospect Objection (aka sales objections): “We did not realize sustainable improvement.”

SSS: “Mr. Prospect, many of my clients have had that same experience with other sales training programs. What they found in working with me is that I first develop a sustainable strategy that is simple and scalable, and then we move towards tactical execution. Our strategy creates consistency and measurable results over time.”

Pause and await other sales objections and if so.. handle. If not ask for the appointment in this way.

S3: “Mr. Prospect I know your time is valuable as is mine, what I would like to suggest is that we spend a half hour together so I can learn more about your challenges and share why my services will add value to your business. If I can’t do that in a half hour, I will pack up and go.”

If you determine it is a “Brush Aside” A few examples are

“I don’t have time for you now”
“I don’t need your services”
“We are all taken care of”

How about something like this?

S3 “You know Mr. Prospect… some of my best customers said that the first time we spoke and after they met with me they realized that I deliver a simple, scalable and affordable sales solution. I have created value for companies like Best Star Foods, Big Tex Investment and Austin Internet. I have strong referrals to owners and testimonials of the value that I deliver.”

Pause and handle any other sales objections and then ask for the appointment

S3: “Mr. Prospect I know your time is valuable as is mine, what I would like to suggest is that we spend a half hour together so I can learn more about your challenges and share why my services will add value to your business. If I can’t do that in a half hour, I will pack up and go.”

Summary

If you take the time to list your most common objections and plan your responses you will find that in many cases you can respond naturally while engaging your prospect into a dialogue that will allow you to define your value and purpose as well as keep the sales process moving forward. You won’t be able to convert all your calls to an appointment, the idea is to improve your percentages and leave an “impression” with your prospect of your value and brand.

How can you use this to knit it all together? Take a look at my digital version of
“Building a Simple + Sustainable Sales Plan”. It includes cold call scripts and additional sales objection handling scripts, structure of the call and more resources to improve your sales results. Details are HERE 

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Connect with Bob Davis on LinkedIn 

Bob Davis is the founder and president of simple.sales strategy in Austin, TX providing effective sales training and support to small and medium size businesses and individuals by building an effective, simple and proven systematic sales process that is scalable, sustainable and sane.
He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com

Building a Simple + Sustainable Sales Plan
 - Step by Step Simple Instructions -
Digital Presentation
 with Tools to Execute
$49.00

Need a Sales Plan?
100 % Guaranteed – Doesn’t work for you – 100% Refund
Over 200 people have purchased this training with only 3 Refunds ! 

Order HERE

Use for your Team Training – Sales Meeting – On-boarding New Reps.
All tools included to execute as ONE or MANY.

In this 90 minute digital workshop I outline a sustainable and simple sales plan to help an individual or a team deliver sustainable results quickly and over time leveraging a simple process that works in large as well as smaller companies. Includes sales tools, scripting and formatting documents.

You can review and use as many times as you like and at your leisure.

I will identify and breakdown into simple components a selling process by defining the structure, identifying the tools and key strategies to improve sales results.

Outline:

  • Sales Audit– Identify and focus on key prospects and customers
  • A Qualification Funnel – To provide accurate Account and Prospect Ranking
  • Sales Pipeline Development
  • Word and Script Development – The appropriate words to accounts/prospects along a structured selling pipeline
  • Building a CRM. (Customer Relationship Management Tool)
  • Selling tools and specific strategies (cold calls, voice mail, etc.)
  • Objection and Questioning
  • Additional Resources

What you will receive:

  • A structure that you can implement immediately
  • How you can build or repair an existing foundation
  • Tools to better manage activities and define next steps
  • Works for One or for a team
  • See account/prospects “stucks” and take corrective action
  • Ability to identify areas of future skills improvement

Sales Tools

  • Building an effective Elevator statement and Value Proposition
  • Scripting and Structure Outline and sample scripts
  • Spreadsheets Account Management for Importing into a CRM
  • Spreadsheet for weekly metrics reporting and management
  • 50 Probing Outline with open ended questions
  • Pipeline and Ranking outline
  • Note outline of the presentation

To Purchase
Order HERE

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Sales Strategy referal

Sales Balance

On August 22, 2013, in Sales Management, by bob davis
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In this interconnected universe balance is a critical component of all things, including sales. Sounds a little silly huh? So shouldn’t we have what I call “sales balance” in our sales process?

Well, let me illustrate. Most selling conversations are around my product, its features and the benefits. Sales 101 right? The prospect has the sales rep run around providing information and the sales reps thinks that he just hit a double. Phone calls are made, messages are left, emails are sent, PowerPoint presentations are shown over and over, case studies are reviewed, proposals are developed, tours are scheduled, demos are run… you get my drift. All these activities are sales related, driven by sales with the hopes that we hit a pain point that resonates with the prospect. The rep gets down the road with all of this activity and then… you got it… the prospect goes “dark” “cold” “silent”! The process is out of balance.

Solution. As always it is simple . Here are a few ideas

  1. Ask… ask.. ask…. “Does this make sense?” “Are we on track?” “Who else do we need to have in the room?”
  2. Put your prospects shoes on… really on. Ask yourself if I were them what would be the most important reason for them to consider my services. Really pull those shoes on!
  3. By asking a lot of questions you can determine what you are going to ask the prospect to do. They need to have some skin in the game. Can you determine what actions they can do to help you prove your value? How about; a budget, a tour of their facility, a sample of their product, a view into their systems and procedures or an interview with one of their customers. Of course a lot of this depends on your product or services and your prospects business, however, if you think about it you can find ways to engage your prospect and get the process back in with “sales balance”.

Click here for a copy of “Fifty Questions” – How to probe, uncover and discover your prospects pain.

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Do this one thing, FIVE times this week and voila… More Money!

What is the one thing that you can do to improve your sales pipeline and even add an order or three to your sales efforts this week? It is Sales 101 stuff but we tend to forget the power of… Tada!

 The REFERRAL!

 I do this with my clients at the end of every quarter and they get orders. Yes, ORDERS as in PO’s, Billings, and Invoices. You know, those things that buy the baby new shoes.

Here is what you do in THREE simple steps.
(Email me or go to “tools” on my website if you would like a script)

  1. Make a list of your top, most favored or strongest relationship based customers.
  2. CALL them up (don’t email) and
    1. Thank them for the business and the relationship
    2. Ask them who they know that might be a good referral for you *
    3. Ask them if it is OK to use their name
    4. Take notes
  3. Call the referral and mention the person who gave you the referral, use your intro script, value proposition, handle any objections and BAM! New qualified prospect and in some cases, ORDERS. (See definition above!)

* Bonus. Use LinkedIn to see who they are connected to. This can prime the pump.

REFERRALS on Steroids
Okay you say “That’s cool but EXACTLY how do I do that?” Or if you are saying I really don’t have an intro script or a value proposition and I struggle with effectively handling objections then you might want to get with me.  If you want to put this tactic on steroids you will need a practiced plan and a structure for the call. But the truth is even if you wing it, you will be doing positive, high return sales activities that can increase your sales.

If you would like more information, let’s talk. I will share with you the scripts, the structure and a few high value tips to leverage this tactic.

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When I was growing up in New York my team was the NY Yankees. The Yankees had a second baseman named Willie Randolph.  I always admired Willy because every time I turned on the TV to watch a game there was Willie doing his thing; hitting, fielding, stealing bases, making double plays. Willie was on the field early and then he headed home to the family not the night club. Willie was doing the basics day in day out, chopping wood and carrying water for 18 years in the Pros*.  Not much “Rock Star” about Willie. You never saw Willie in the gossip pages or mug shots.

Contrast that with the “Rock Star”. You don’t have to think too hard to get my drift. I would take a team of “Willies” any day. So that is what I look for; consistent, measurable progress and results. Continuous improvement and corrective action measures when necessary. I like a full balanced sales pipeline, even, fair and honest communication with clients, prospects, management and employees. No pop sales psychology, no manipulations, no tricks, no hard closes.

Hiring Sales People

So how do you get there? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Hire reps that test well on personality assessments for sales skills and take the time to review the results to make sure they fit YOUR culture.
  2. Understand that past performance (or non-performance) is the best indicator, not the only, but the best indicator of future performance.
  3. Build a sales plan that outlines sales stages incrementally through the sales cycle; from qualification, appointment setting, presenting, proposals and closing percentages.
  4. Develop a set of key performance metrics or indicators on the stages above that are simple to measure and review.
  5. Manage sales challenges and skill sets based on the performance indicators, develop sales skills like trial closing, probing, qualifying, objection handling and consistently coach “stuck” accounts.
  6. Create “teams” not individual players. Create competition that supports the good of the whole.
  7. Watch their feet – Not the words. Measure, Measure, Measure.

Look at Willies stats below. Now think of your favorite rock star. How are they measured? Again, not too difficult to get my point. But what is the ultimate upside? You won’t end up with a trashed hotel room on their expense account!

* Willy ranked fifth in major league history in games at second base (2,152), ninth in putouts (4,859), seventh in assists (6,336), eighth in total chances (11,429), and third in double plays (1,547).

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Managing the Sales Team

Managing a Sales Team

On July 19, 2011, in hiring, Sales Management, by bob davis
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Many owners of small businesses fall into the same trap–they hire sales people because of a compelling interview about the individual’s “sales prowess” and on day one they are given a Book of Lists from the Business Journal, introduced to the sales team and then the encouragement…“Go Get ‘Em Tiger!” Several months go by, and there’s very little sales activity, and the business owner has spent money, time and energy and gotten results that are far below expectations. They often find great difficulty in effectively managing a sales team.

The problem is that this type of management style is that it has no measurement for activity prior to the quotations/proposals/RFQ stage–so you’re well into the sales cycle before any corrective action can take place. (And in fact, it’s really no management style at all–but that’s another post).

The solution to this problem is to build reporting into the stages from the time that a target is deemed a “suspect” to the point that it can be closed. (Coffee is for closers).

But I hear you saying, “selling is a numbers game” right?

In reality, it’s not the raw number of calls, presentations, proposals and closes–It’s the quality of the targets, the sales skills sets (or lack of) in each of the Stages. Every great sales team has defined stages and accountability metrics–and that’s where the numbers game really applies.

When you look at the following, notice that there are activities, disciplines, skills and behaviors that are unique between the steps:

Typical Pipeline Stages and Associated Discipline
1. Suspect – Qualification through a Defined Funnel.
2. Qualified Prospect – Ranking A-B-C-D. and Confirming
3. Introduction –Appointment Setting – Objection Handling – Value Proposition Positioning.
4. Appointment – Presentation – Value Qualification – Probing for Pain – Trial Closing – Building Consensus
5. Action – Relationship Building, Value Building and Confirmation.
6. RFQ – Proposal Building, ROI Statements and Pricing Strategy.
7. Closing – Culmination on confirmation of Trail Closing in previous Stages.
8. Maturity – Building a Valued and High Margin Customer.

When you are able to measure the activity between each stage you have an average. (i.e Introduction Call to set Appointment = 40%.)

With this information you can manage each member of your team effectively, provide specific training (corrective action) in areas where they are weak, encourage an upward goal for continuous improvement and identify tools, content and training that adds value to their efforts and ultimately your bottom line. The bottom line.. you are now effectively managing the sales team.

Anything less is a waste of time and money–but as an entrepreneur, you’ve got plenty of both, right?

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Bob Davis is the principle of simple.sales strategy in Austin, TX providing sales training, sales strategy and structure while holding sales people accountable to a proven, systematic sales system. He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com

 
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