Gandhi had it down

Mahatma Gandhi

”A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

– Mahatma Gandhi to his employees at his hotell in Agra

The quote from Gandhi is spot on. I don’t know how many times I’ve met sales people and even though I’m actually interested in their offer I still feel like I’m interrupting something…

Here’s todays task for you:

  1. How do you respond to a potential customer? Do you always make the most out of it? Think about how you treat people in general and reflect over what the quote from Gandhi means to you in your sales job.

To succeed in sales is to master how you meet and handle people. Gandhi is just one good example of just that. Whatever he did, he put his heart to it.

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Make a circle with your hand

Circle

Sometimes you need to change perspective. You think you got it all down. But you don’t. You think you see everything from the customers perspective. And yet again – you don’t.

I’ve met so many organisations and companies that are so confident they are customer centered in everything they do but just that view is usually the first warning sign of the opposite.

Here’s todays task for you:

  1. Hold you arm pointing down. Now start making a circle with your finger clockwise. Now slowly start raising your arm and hand. Keep doing the circle. When you hold your arm and hand pointing to the ceiling, are you still doing the circle clockwise…?

Sometimes we just have to change perspective. This task is just one way of showing just that. 😉

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It helps to be creative

When you work with sales, it helps to be creative. Today at the office we did a creativity task. I don’t know if you’ve ever written a Haiku. It’s a Japanese poetic form in which you have 5 syllables in the first row, 7 in the second and 5 in the third. Often a Haiku hold some sort of reference to a season in some way.

Sometimes a framework gives new freedom. If I’d say: “Write a poem” a lot of people wouldn’t know where to start. So even though a Haiku holds a very clear framework with a set of rules it still gives freedom for you to be creative.

Here’s todays task for you:

  1. Write a Haiku. Or write a couple. Exercise gives excellence.

As a sales person it’s always useful to train your creative ability. To write a poem, in this case a Haiku, is one way to train this.

Here’s mine:

”Leaving winter time
Greeting the light squinting
Hot cheek smiling soul”

Why don’t you post yours in a comment below? 😉

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How to get more…

…pondus in your voice. Sales is a lot about being able to make something sound just as positive it can – without lying according to me anyways. And a lot of that is how your message comes through. Do you sound confident? Do I feel that I can trust you when I listen to you etc.

When we speak the fact how we finish a sentence in pitch will actually affect how my message comes across. If I finish every sentence by going up in pitch it will sound in one way. And it’ll sound totally different if you instead try to go down in pitch in the end of a sentence.

In the first case it’s likely that you’ll come across as insecure, and that you’ll reduce your message – and yourself. And why should you? There is really nothing to gain from doing this. If you instead as in the second example try to go down you will send out a signal that you are confident about what you’re talking about. People are more likely to put their trust in you. And the only difference might be the pitch. The message might even be exactly the same but it comes across as two totally different messages.

Here’s todays task for you:

  1. Do a short presentation for someone you know. Ask them to listen to your pitch and then ask them to feedback how you sound. If you do finish your sentences by going up in pitch you’ve spotted some potential!

Sometimes the best way to learn is to listen to others. If there is someone you feel was good at presenting take some time and think about why you felt that way. Often there are little things we can try to copy that will improve our own way of presenting.

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Take a seat – on the other side

Chairs

Have you thought about the fact that how you sit during a sales meeting can actually affect the outcome? The most common position is that we will end up on the opposite side of a table with the customer on the other side. That’s not necessarily the best way. It can create an ocean of distance between you and the customer.

If you instead take the chance when you get it to sit next to the customer on the same side of the table as he or she you’ll most likely notice something different. At first you’ll probably feel uncomfortable because you’re not used to it. But think about the signal it sends to the customer. That you’re not on the opposite side. You’re on the same side. On the customers side. And whatever you propose is of course to help the customer with whatever he or she needs help with. How could it be anything different? You’re on the same side! Right?

Here’s todays task for you:

  1. The next time you head in to a meeting think about where you sit and that signal it sends. Take the chance to try to sit on the same side of the table as the customer.

This might challenge the ordinary. It might be uncomfortable and maybe a bit scare. But if you always do what you’ve always done you’ll only get the same result as you always have. So if want to improve you need to step out. Out of your comfort zone. Out in the unknown. That’s where development happen. So I challenge you to take a seat – on the other side.

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What’s your golf strategy?

Golf

I started to play golf some years back. One day I got a question from a friend of mine: “What’s you golf strategy?” I must admit I didn’t really understand what he meant. I mean – how hard can it be? You’re supposed to get ball in the cup right? I don’t know if you play or have played golf but if you have you know that each hole has a par which is the number of times you can hit the ball and get 2 points if you have zero in handicap. When you start you have a high handicap so you get extra hits. My friends point was that if I aimed to be on green on par and then did a 2 put I would always get points. Thing was that I didn’t do 2 puts. I did 3 and 4 puts…

One day when I was about to put I realised that I didn’t visualise the ball actually going in the cup but rather coming close… And obviously I wasn’t hitting my 2 puts and therefore I didn’t get the points I needed either. So I started changing my way of thinking and visualising the ball actually going in instead of coming close. The result? I got more points.

Here’s todays task for you:

  1. What do you aim to accomplish when you head in to a sales meeting? Do you visualise to get close or do you see yourself closing a new deal? Think about it for a moment. Then before your next sales meeting: Decide what you want out of the time you’re investing in that meeting.

It’s striking how the rules of attraction works. If you think something the possibility for it to actually happen goes up. I’m sure you’ve done lots of meetings without setting a clear goal. For me this has meant that today I expect to sell something in every meeting. If I do? Nope. But I know that I’m selling way more thinking this way than if I didn’t. It’s all about putting your heart in to it.

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How to understand “FAB”

And when I use the word “FAB” it’s not as in Fab Five. It has more to do with understanding the difference between features and benefits. Features (characteristics of a product or service) support the benefits or value to the prospect and his or her company. Benefits are often expressed in terms of dollars saved or enhanced, time saved or enhanced, and/or reduction of risk. It’s just that simple and not any more complicated.

So how should you think about this? Well, the customer value lies in the benefit but too often salespeople stay talking about the feature or at best about the advantage. So if you want to position whatever value proposition you have you need to grasp the whole concept of benefit. FAB is one model you can use to simplify this. Here’s hos you can think:

Because it has…..FEATURE

You will be able to…..ADVANTAGE

What that means to you is…..BENEFIT

Let me give an example. One of my daughters has gotten the hang of this. Therefore it’s not unusual that she on a Friday will say something like this:

Dad, since it’s Friday shouldn’t we get some take out? If we do you don’t have to fix with dinner…

She knows precisely what she’s doing when she says this. She knows that I’m usually tired when Friday night comes. She likes to get take out and she know how to sell it because she can point to the benefit for me.

1. The feature: food.

2. The advantage: we could get take out.

3. The benefit: I don’t have to fix.

Here’s todays task for you:

  1. Take some time and think through what this look like for you with whatever you are selling.

If you do this task and identify the features and work out the FABs you’ll find both negotiating and selling will be easier. And that’s the heart of it.

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Are you sure you know what it’s worth?

One trap you don’t want to step in as a sales person is to tell some else what something is worth unless you are very sure. If you do, you might risk to argue for whatever you are offering from the wrong angle. You might be right ut you never know so why take the chance?

”In a consumer society, people wallow in things, fascinating, enjoyable things. If you define your value by the things you acquire and surround yourself with, being excluded is humiliating.”
– Zygmunt Bauman

When you prepare for a negotiation of some kind you probably have thought through your value offer. However, you can’t be certain that the value you’ve identified is the same for the other person or if you have many, that the other person has ranked the value in the same order as you… So what to do?

Back to one of the most important tools for a sales person: Questions! The best way to find out is to ask. So ask!

– What do you see as the biggest value?

Here’s todays task for you:

  1. In your next sales meeting let your customer describe what he or she sees as the biggest value before you start listing what you see. It just might not be thing that you are aiming for.

It might just be that customer sees something that you don’t. And by not asking this question you might miss out on nailing the actual value the customer is buying into. Sure, you probably do know but every once in a while there are actually stations that come up with new angels that you haven’t seen or prepared for. So instead trying to tell someone what they should think find out what they actually do think. And I’d say that but putting this question out there, you are showing that you’re putting your heart in to it.

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Find the pain

Bandage

That’s where you’re adding true value. You don’t go to the doctor if you’re not sick, right? So why should I buy something that doesn’t really address a problem I don’t have? Or even worse try to point out that I sure do have a problem even though I keep saying I don’t… There’s are few worse things than a way too assertive sales person.

My last blog posts I’ve spent around questions in different ways. But the point, or at least my point why you should ask questions is to get to the actual pain. Where does it hurt? And not just where but aslo why?

The reason to find this out is so that you can supply the best solution. You don’t want to recommend someone a plaster on their left foot if they just have a soar throat, a headache or a bruise. Right? Still, this is what so many sales people do over and over again. I’ve been through it myself several times. Some reaches out to offer something but they don’t do their homework and therefore no sales.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re selling week recipes to people that have just lost their inspiration to cook or don’t care or have the time to plan ahead. A bonus in your offering is that the recipes comes with a simple shoppinglist with everything you need to cook. These are some of the questions you could use:

– What’s your biggest obstacle when it comes to cooking?
– What challenges do you experience in your everyday cooking?

And sometimes there just isn’t neither an obstacle nor a challenge in sight. What do you do then? Maybe try something like this:

– How could you improve you everyday cooking?
– If you were to dream, how would you want your everyday cooking to work then?

This gives you something to work with.

Here’s todays task for you:

  1. In your next sales meeting with a potential customer – try to apply the example above and see where it takes you. Don’t forget to not just ask for the pain but also what causes the pain. If you do and can help out around that with whatever you are offering, I’m sure you’ll get more satisfied customers over time.

Don’t run around and offer plasters to people that just need a bandage and the other way around. If you want to retain your customers you should be interested in what’s causing them trouble and take care of that. It might sound simple but it’s the simplest thing that’s often the hardest to do.

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Don’t settle for the tip of the iceberg

If you’re really serious about sales – why settle with the just the tip of the iceberg? I always get stunned when I meet a sales person that goes hard to close a deal. It’s not as common as you might think. But what gets to me even more is when a sales person tries to close on the first thing that comes up – without asking any questions…

Often when we meet a possible customer they will only reveal the “top of the iceberg”. If you start asking questions you will reveal so much more of his or her needs which if course is more opportunities for sales!

Iceberg

Sure. It’s always import to be quick to close but don’t be too quick. Because if you are you might loose out on more and possibly bigger sales. What you see of an iceberg on top of the surface is approximately 10%. The rest of the iceberg, the other 90% lies below the surface. It’s not a lot different from what we meet everyday as sales people when we meet new potential customers. As customers we usually have a number of underlying motives to why we are asking about something.

Here’s todays tasks for you:

  1. Instead of trying to close on the first thing you pick up in a meeting, try to ask some questions about the motives behind. By doing so you’ll most likely expose more sales opportunities.

There’s is another positive side effect from doing this. You’ll show the customer that you not only care for the sale but also for the customers need/needs and situation. This is key to retaining your customers over time. And you should be interested of this because there is no cheaper sales than to sell to those that you’ve already sold to, that know who you are and what you do. So by using this – you’ll show your customer that you’re putting your heart into whatever they are asking or looking for.

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