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The Power of ‘No’

Many traditional sales approaches emphasize the importance of getting prospects and customers to say 'yes'. Here are some examples:

"A small 'yes' (a demo, accepting literature, etc.) leads to a big 'yes' ( a closed sale).

"A prospect who is saying 'yes' is still a prospect (even though the 'yes' is seemingly a willingness to take an action step, such as "I want to think this over." but is really evasive and non-committal).

A salesperson who accepts these types of affirmative responses has developed a set of "happy ears" and probably has a sales pipeline that is bulging at the seams with opportunities that look good but never seem to close in the forecasted quarter. A salesperson with happy ears has never learned to accept a 'no' from a prospect or to get the prospect to say 'no' so the sale can really begin.

High performing salespeople however, have an entirely different perspective of 'no'. They understand the power of this two letter word. Using the word 'no' (or a form of it) at the right time with the right person:

-Enables them to level the playing field with prospects who attempt to commoditize their product or service offering.

-Allows them to put the possibility of not doing business together on the table in the first sales call which is a powerful strategy in the sales process.

-Gives the prospect the right to say, "I don't think there is a fit between our two organizations"…but also gives the salesperson to say the very same thing to the prospect and qualify out of the sales opportunity.

These are just a few of the benefits of using the word 'no' when talking to potential customers.

If you are a President, CEO or business owner, ask yourself this question–"How do my salespeople view the word 'no' and how do they use it with our prospects and customers?"

 

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What’s In It For Me?

I recently attended the 2008 WMEP Manufacturing Matters! Conference in Milwaukee. One of the speakers was Doug Hall, founder and CEO of the Eureka! Ranch, a business development consultancy that helps companies discover measurably smarter choices for growth.

Doug had several valuable insights about growing businesses that apply to the sales process as well. One of these insights related to three questions that customers ask themselves when evaluating whether to do business with your company:

“What’s in it for me?…What’s the benefit to me? What kind of experience will I enjoy by doing business with you? Can I quantify it and put a number to it?”

“Why should I believe?…Are you for real? Will you do what you promise to do do? What reason do I have to believe you?”

“Why should I care?…Is there any difference between what you are telling me and what your competition is saying? Is the difference dramatic enough to make me stop doing what I am doing (with someone else) and start doing it with you?”

How does this relate to you if you are a CEO, President or Owner of a business? Here two questions to ask yourself?

1)       “Does our sales team’s sales messaging address customers’ questions about

       our company?”

2)       “How effective are our salespeople at introducing and answering these questions

       in front of customers?”

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Selling With Purpose

Often in working with salespeople, I find one of their biggest challenges in performing effectively in the sales process comes down to being able to detach themselves emotionally from the selling situation. Instead of limiting their emotional involvement they tend to start to think too much during the sale. The thinking could include analyzing, creating, worrying, panicking, getting excited and strategizing on the fly–all activities that can sabotage a sale. This thinking is often caused by a lack of mental discipline.

Right about now you are asking yourself, "What is mental discipline?" It's a structure of behavior and attitude that helps a salesperson (and non-salespeople) execute in the 'moment'. (Saying the right thing to the right person at the right time.)

Behavior shapes thought. If a salesperson disciplines his behavior, then he will also discipline his mind.

And more importantly, it is a structure that reduces the sales process to a series of simple tasks. The salesperson's personality isn't at the center. The salesperson's talent isn't at the center. The task is at the center.

By putting the task at the center, we shine a light on the way the body and mind communicate with each other. It was once thought the mind existed above the body–remember the advice to "be a third party in the sales call'?–but that belief is disproved by the evidence. In fact, it's easier to change the mind by changing behavior.

And by putting selling task at the center, the salesperson quiets the self. They push their thoughts away from their own qualities–their expectations, nerve and ego–and allow the salesperson to lose themselves in the task.

What lesson can professional salespeople take from all this? First, the importance of following a sales process that can be broken down into a series of tasks to be completed. Examples would be: Setting the ground rules for all sales calls, asking great questions, getting commitments as to 'what happens next?' that help to advance the sale. Second, following this process repetitively (not robotically) will enable them to develop the mental discipline requred to quiet their mind and detach emotionally from the sale.

Often in working with salespeople, I find one of their biggest challenges in performing effectively in the sales process comes down to being able to detach themselves emotionally from the selling situation. Instead of limiting their emotional involvement they tend to start to think too much during the sale. The thinking could include analyzing, creating, worrying, panicking, getting excited and strategizing on the fly–all activities that can sabotage a sale. This thinking is often caused by a lack of mental discipline.

Right about now you are asking yourself, "What is mental discipline?" It's a structure of behavior and attitude that helps a salesperson (and non-salespeople) execute in the 'moment'. (Saying the right thing to the right person at the right time.)

Behavior shapes thought. If a salesperson disciplines his behavior, then he will also discipline his mind.

And more importantly, it is a structure that reduces the sales process to a series of simple tasks. The salesperson's personality isn't at the center. The salesperson's talent isn't at the center. The task is at the center.

By putting the task at the center, we shine a light on the way the body and mind communicate with each other. It was once thought the mind existed above the body–remember the advice to "be a third party in the sales call'?–but that belief is disproved by the evidence. In fact, it's easier to change the mind by changing behavior.

And by putting selling task at the center, the salesperson quiets the self. They push their thoughts away from their own qualities–their expectations, nerve and ego–and allow the salesperson to lose themselves in the task.

 

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Sales Messaging – A Lost Art?

I came across some interesting research recently that got me thinking about what companies are doing (or not doing) with their sales messaging. Before I go any further let’s use this working definition of sales messaging—saying the right thing, to the right prospect, at the right time in the selling cycle.

I asked myself the following question. Does sales messaging give a sales organization any competitive advantage in the market place?

Research seems to suggest that it does in several profound ways. Companies that devote time and attention creating and effectively delivering great sales messaging see up to one-third more of their salespeople achieving their sales goals, see their reps win opportunities 20% more often and experience about one-third less turnover on their sales staffs.

Companies that excel in sales messaging appear to do four activities better than their competition:

  • They identify the real value they offer to customers
  • They link their real value to the customer’s value requirements
  • Their sales messaging describes differentiation that has staying power in the marketplace.
  • They get the message out into the marketplace.

Making these activities come to life requires two more necessary steps. First, sales organizations make sure their sales teams not only buy into the sales messaging but that they also ‘get it’ and can effectively communicate it to customers. Second, flawless execution in front of the customer is absolutely essential to complete the process.

Looking for a strategy to help you hit your sales numbers this year? Fine tuning your sales messaging may be the answer.

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Hello!

My name is Jim Nelson, principal of Exsell Inc., a sales development firm specializing in helping CEO's, company presidents, business owners and entrepreneurs grow revenue profitably. I spend the majority of my time coaching sales leaders and their organizations to get more of their desired results in the sales process.

Please check back to read my sales tips, observations and general thoughts regarding the challenges companies and their sales teams are facing everyday in their marketplace.

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