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Why It’s Better to Walk Away from a Sale

This is probably one of the biggest questions in sales – when do I give up on a prospect? When do I walk away from a sale?  Every salesperson struggles with this, and more than a few of us have stayed too long at the party trying to get that elusive and difficult prospect to […]

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Why It’s Better to Walk Away from a Sale

Walk Away from The SaleThis is probably one of the biggest questions in sales – when do I give up on a prospect? When do I walk away from a sale?  Every salesperson struggles with this, and more than a few of us have stayed too long at the party trying to get that elusive and difficult prospect to commit. Walking away is hard especially after spending all that valuable sales time and energy.

And while working too long on a prospect can be frustrating, the worst offense of all is staying so committed, working so hard, that you wear that tough prospect down. You actually land business that in the long run turns out to be one of the worst decisions you ever made.

That unfortunately is my “M.O.” the way that I tend to roll. I love to sell so much, love the challenge, that I will stay in the game, working hard to win over my prospect, that sometimes I wind up with business I do not want.

For example, it happened to me last week!  I worked on this prospect for months, it was a keynote for a small group of business owners and sales professionals. They actually had come to me, after visiting my website.

In talking with the prospect, I could tell from the start he was really hesitant. He came right out and told me he was not sure that he even needed or wanted a speaker. On top of that, he was not sure I was the right fit, and if the topics I talked about was even something his clients would benefit from. Now, I should have taken the hint – right!

Instead of listening to those hesitations, I took them on as a challenge. I jumped in and started to sell. I worked so hard to convince him that I could “make” his conference fantastic. I invested so much time taking on and pushing past his objections– far more than I have had to do with others. We had conference calls, and I shared countless emails, we reviewed the meeting agenda and discussed my presentation in detail and at length.

Still, he was hesitant, really not sure, but I persevered and got the contract signed. My thought was I was going to go in there and just blow them away. I put on the full-court press –  I had researched the company, done interviews, even gone so far as to visit some of their locations. I was ready!

I flew in the day before, went to the opening night party, mingled and connected with their attendees. The next morning, I was up early, wanting to make sure that I heard and took notes on every speaker coming before me.

During lunch, I went back to my room and worked on my presentation. I updated it with key points and details of every speaker that had gone before me.  I punched up with jokes and included more interaction given I was speaking right after lunch, and I was the only “non-industry” speaker on the agenda.

I delivered, and thought I rocked – the audience was engaged, laughing, taking notes. Wow, boy, was I wrong – the audience loved me but my client not so much. One day after my presentation, I could not even get the meeting planner to return my call. When he did finally answer my email, it was curt, short and to the point. The email told me while they appreciated the effort, it was not the presentation they had in mind.

At first, I was shocked, I had gotten LinkedIn invites from their attendees, and a few emails from some saying that they had enjoyed my presentation. What went wrong? How could I be so misaligned with the event planner?

Why? Because I sold a product to someone, who did not want to buy it. I set myself up for failure by winning a sale that should never have been sold. I missed the clues, ignored the signs, and put energy into a sale that had no chance of being successful.

So how do you know when to walk away, or what are the signs that a sale, even if you win, is not a sale you want? Again, there is not an exact science or set of rules, but here are some tell-tale signs it is better to walk away.

3 Solid Reasons You Don’t Want the Sale

  1. They’re Reluctant: my first clue should have been his reluctance. He had more reasons why he should not do business with me than why he should, and I should have been listening. I took those on as a challenge, rather than as the reality that maybe he did not see the value in what I had to offer.

Reluctance is natural in a prospect, and as a sales professional, we have to help them see why doing business with us is the right decision. However, when a prospect’s reluctance is not something you can help them get past, perhaps there is more to the story. If your prospect is not more elated than you to sign the contract, then this is not a contract that should be signed – a clue I missed.

  1. They Beat You Up On Price: my next clue should have been the price. When you have listened intently to their needs, their goals, and provided a value-add solution, and every question they have goes back to price, you have just gotten another strong clue this is not the right prospect.

When prospects are keeping focusing on price, when every point in the conversation takes them back to price, then maybe it is time to walk-way. In my case, this prospect had never hired speakers before; they had always used sponsor and allowed them to sell from the stage. (Another clue – this is not my ideal client.) So, every time we discussed price, he went back to trying to convince me to do it for free or significantly reduce my fee. Neither of which I would do, and when he signed the contract he did so still thinking he was paying too much. I should never have made that sale. If a client cannot see the value, is not comfortable with what they are paying, then you have set yourself up for at least a hard climb of convincing them they made aright decision.

  1. Never Good Enough:The moment this contract was signed, my new client wanted more. More meetings, more time to review everything I was doing, and more time to tell me how to do my job. Now don’t get me wrong, I love it when clients engage, but nervous clients do not know what they want, so rather than relying on your professional expertise, they take control of the situation. You end up investing valuable time and energy working to make them happy, rather than investing in delivering a relevant and quality product.

Walking away from a sale is never easy, but as professionals, we (well, especially me) need to learn that sometimes it is the smartest decision we can ever make. While investing the time and energy to get the deal to close, it took me away from selling to other prospects who would have been far happier with what I was delivering. Besides I ended up putting valuable resources and time into aa client I could never make happy.

Believe me, my sales goal for 2019, is knowing when and having more courage to walk-away!

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6 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Business

Yes, it’s coming, whether you like or not, at some point this economy is going to shift.  Depending on which economist you follow, it looks like the downturn will hit somewhere around end of 2020 beginning of 2021. Now before you put this article down because it’s beginning to sound like doomsday, realize that a […]

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6 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Business

How To Recession Proof Your BusinessYes, it’s coming, whether you like or not, at some point this economy is going to shift.  Depending on which economist you follow, it looks like the downturn will hit somewhere around end of 2020 beginning of 2021. Now before you put this article down because it’s beginning to sound like doomsday, realize that a down shift in the economy is not necessarily a bad thing.

Over the course of your business lifetime, and long before then, the economy has been going up and down. The market has been hot, cold, ripe to do business in, and a serious challenge. That is just the way it is. What goes up must come down, and what goes down will go up.

The difference between people who struggle through the downturns and the people who thrive through them merely comes down to whether you prepare for what’s coming or you don’t.

No matter how hard you will it, fight it or refuse to believe it, you have no ability to stop the economy from shifting. Rather than wasting that valuable energy on trying to stop something you can’t control, let’s turn that energy into positioning yourself to succeed no matter what the economy does.

6 Business Tactics You Need to Implement Now

  1. Set Focus – step one is getting clear on whom you serve, what you offer, and what differentiates you in the marketplace. One of the biggest challenges you face in a shifting economy is fear. Fear that you are not doing everything you can do, fear that you are not offering the right products, fear that your competitors have a better idea than you do – fear. You need to get clarity on what you do well, that way you do not chase every shiny object that comes down the pipe. In tough economies, resources are scarce, and margins are tight, meaning you have no money or time to waste. Set your focus!
  2. Get Outside Perspective – there are more things external to your business than internal, that could impact your ability to be successful. That means you need to stay alert, informed, and on top of what is happening in the outside world. As business owners and sales professionals, you get so focused on what is happening inside your business, that you forget to focus on external forces. Thinking about, and knowing what is changing with your customers, your competitors, your industry, and the economy, will position you to see what is coming.  Then when you need to, you can change direction easily.
  3. Invest In Talent – understand the only thing that is differentiating you in this economy, the only one thing, is the talent you have around you. This is a marketplace where your reputation and the customer experience are the things that are growing your business. Ensuring you deliver on both, comes down to the level of talent you have around you.  There is a war on talent, finding top talent is tough, and about to get much harder, you need to start now if you want to win.
  4. Increase Sales – the tougher the economy, the longer the sales cycle. The two go hand-in-hand, so you need to be prepared. To succeed in a challenging economy, you need to be selling from a place of power, never from a place of need. It is time to start overfilling your sales funnel, having so much moving through the pipeline that if a deal slows down or goes south, you can remain calm and collected.  Remember, when the economy goes down, customers want to deal with professionals who are confident and secure, not ones desperate to make a sale.
  5. Lockdown Top Customers – your best customers are always your competitors’ best prospects, and even more so in a shifting economy. Don’t leave the door open, don’t invite them in. Make a list of your best customers and put yourself on a consistent schedule of staying in touch with them. Then take it one more step and be proactive. Don’t wait for them to come up with ideas of how to do more business with you, stay one-step ahead.
  6. Create Partnerships – and last but not least, (at least for this blog – I got lots more ideas), reach out and align with other influential professionals. Take a look around you and see who else in related industries, community leadership and industry influencers you need to know, connect with and create solid partnerships.

Economic shifts are merely a normal part of business, and no matter how hard you try and fight or ignore, it is going to happen. Quit sitting around waiting for this downturn to hit you. Take the bull by the horns and position yourself now to succeed no matter what this economy does.

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Posted by Meridith Elliott Powell in Business Strategy & Customer Service and tagged , , , , , ,

Why You Are Losing Customers

4 Strategies to Increase Retention, Expand Relationships and Drive Referrals. This week I moved my business from one of my long-time vendors, – and hired someone new. The new vendor is not any less expensive, does not have a better product and is actually slightly less convenient to work with regarding availability and response time. […]

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Why You Are Losing Customers

Why You Are Losing Customers4 Strategies to Increase Retention, Expand Relationships and Drive Referrals.

This week I moved my business from one of my long-time vendors, – and hired someone new. The new vendor is not any less expensive, does not have a better product and is actually slightly less convenient to work with regarding availability and response time.

So why did I move? Good question and an important one to know the answer to if you want to know how to succeed in today’s marketplace. I dropped my long-time vendor, moved the relationship because I didn’t feel that my long-time vendor really valued my business anymore. I still liked him, even liked the product, and found him responsive when I reached out. But I can’t remember the last time he showed a genuine interest in my business.

Now that may seem obvious, but I challenge you with these two questions: When was the last time you called on your long-term customers just to check-in? When was the last time you reached out for something other than business?

If You don’t do it, Your Competitor will.

You must remember that your best customers are your competitor’s best prospects. And if you are not calling on your best customers, believe me, they are. In today’s economy the worst thing that could happen to you – the very worst. It is not that you don’t get the sale, it is that your best customers find out about a product or service they need from someone else other than you.

Remember, customers can buy the products and services they want anywhere, and from any time, that is not why they work with you, and not why they are loyal to you. That happens because of the relationship. And relationships are about more than selling products and services, they are about more than reacting to customers requests, they are about investing more in your customers then you ask them to invest in you.

4 Simple Ways to Increase Client Retention, Grow Relationships and Drive Referrals

  1. Just Say Thank You – wow, sounds so simple; well believe me, it is just that easy. Every once in a while, you should reach out and just say thank you to your best customers. Let them know you value their business, recognize the trust they have put in you, and that you look forward to expanding the relationship. Not every interaction with a customer needs to be about business, sometimes it is just important to let them know you realize you are lucky to have them on your team.
  2. Share the Good News – realize that your best customers want to be in the know, feel like they are part of the team. So, when great things happen in your business share the good news. You hit your sales goals – send them a thank you note announcing the win and letting them know you could never do it without amazing customers like them. You are expanding your business – invite them to the grand opening as a special guest.
  3. Inquire About Goals – their goals, that is. Take the time at least once a year if not twice, to reach out and ask what is new in their business, what challenges they are facing, and what their goals are for the coming year. Just asking those questions will open a robust conversation that ensures your customers feel listened to and valued. Besides, you will uncover a list of opportunities in which you can use your products and services to move their business forward.
  4. Add Value – your goal with your best customers should be to help them grow their business. Whether that means inviting them to a conference, sharing a great article or sending them a piece of business. Whatever it is, a few times a year your best customers should feel you are doing more to grow their business than they are doing to grow yours.

So yes, investing in our existing customers is one of the smartest strategies we have to grow our business. Existing customers buy more from us, refer us business; and help build our reputation in the marketplace.

If my existing vendor had done any of these things, I promise I would still be their customer. So, put these strategies into place, and watch as you open more doors and close more sales.

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Why You Can’t Close the Sale

3 Sales Strategies to Seal the Deal Do you know when the most difficult time is to close a sale, the toughest time to close a sale? Yes, you are right, when you need the sale to close.  I don’t care if your best friend or your mother is your prospect, you can bet that […]

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Why You Can’t Close the Sale

Why You Cant Close The Sale

3 Sales Strategies to Seal the Deal

Do you know when the most difficult time is to close a sale, the toughest time to close a sale? Yes, you are right, when you need the sale to close.  I don’t care if your best friend or your mother is your prospect, you can bet that if you are desperate for that sale to close, something will happen that will prevent it from happening.

It is as if the universe senses our desperation, smells our fear, and is going to do everything in its power to ensure a “slam dunk” completely misses the proverbial basket. The moment we as professionals and sales associates get ourselves into the position of needing a sale to make our quota or reach our goals you can bet that Murphy’s Law will rear its ugly head and prevent it from happening.

Your Sales Approach Needs to Change

Selling today is different, and if you want to succeed, close more deals, then you need to understand just how different it is. In today’s marketplace, both the economy and our customers have changed. Today’s economy is not up or down, but shifting, radically changing, and in fact, economists agrees. Economists say that we have moved out of what is known as a push economy, and into what is known as a pull economy. That shift means that consumers, your customers, have moved into the position of control. They are calling the shots, and they have all the power of who, what, when and how they buy.

Add to that, this newly empowered customer is highly skeptical, squarely in control. No longer are consumers interested in what we say about our products or services, they are turning instead to their friends, families and even Google reviews to determine if our products are good and if we are “worth” buying from. They are far more interested in our reputations and the experience they have, than they are in traditional advertising and selling tactics.

So if we know that both the economy and our customers have changed, wouldn’t it make sense then that our sales strategies need to change? Doesn’t it make sense that you need to change your approach and up your game if you want to close more sales in this economy?

3 Big Reasons You Can’t Close The Deal (and what you need to do about it!)

  1. Lost in the White Noise – today’s consumers may be in control, but to the tell the truth they are overwhelmed. This global economy, the Internet, and the increases in the competition have burdened today’s consumers with too much choices. To them, we all look the same. What we sell has become a commodity, but how we sell it is going to be our competitive advantage. You need to give customers a reason to choose you, stay with you, and buy from you. To sell anything, you need to stand out from the competition, and if you want to close more sales, you need to manage your reputation, and the customer experience proactively. You need to attract the business before you ask for the business.
  2. Sales Lifestyle – remember consumers are in control of where, when and how they buy, not you. So, in this economy, patience is a virtue and the need for instant gratification is a curse. If you push your prospects in this economy, they will move on and buy from someone else. So if you want to close more sales, you need to take more turns at bat. Selling for you “targeted” turn at bat you take, the more deals that you will close. There is something about a salesperson who is calm and confident when a deal gets delayed, that ensure that the next six deals coming behind it will close without a hitch. In today’s economy you win when you sell from a place of power, you lose when you sell from a position of need.
  3. Customers First – in today’s economy the worst salesperson on your team is you! Oh calm down, I am not insulting your ability or your skill, it is just that I told you consumers today are different. They are no longer interested in what we say about our products and services, no, instead they are turning to their friends, families and even Google reviews. So if you want to close more deals, you need to be putting more time and energy into caring for your existing customers. The better their experience, the more they trust you and the more value you add to their relationship, the more they will tell other people. The more they tell other people, the more deals you are going to close.

Yes, these are at best challenging times, but it does not mean we can’t succeed, build our businesses or close many sales. This economy is different, your customers are different, so take a different approach to how you sell and sit back as you not only close more deals, you will enjoy doing it.

 

 

 

 

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How to Get Ready For 4th Quarter

5 Sales Strategies You Need to Drive Results We are about here, October 1st marks the beginning of the MOST important sales quarter of the year! Why? Because whatever you do in the fourth quarter will determine just how successful you are going to be in 2019.  Yeah, it is THAT important! Laying the groundwork, […]

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How to Get Ready For 4th Quarter

How to get ready for 4th quarter5 Sales Strategies You Need to Drive Results

We are about here, October 1st marks the beginning of the MOST important sales quarter of the year! Why? Because whatever you do in the fourth quarter will determine just how successful you are going to be in 2019.  Yeah, it is THAT important!

Laying the groundwork, making the calls, and setting the stage now will ensure you start 2019 strong, and if you want to increase sales in 2019, then you need to start planning now. Funny thing about fourth quarter is that most of us tend to back off, slow down and just not put the energy into our sales planning that we do throughout the rest of the year.

And I get it. First, you’re tired. You have been going at it for the last three quarters, giving it everything you’ve got, and you need a break. Then there is the understanding that by the end of third quarter, you know whether you are going to hit your sales goals for the year or not, and nothing you do in the fourth quarter is going to change that. Add to that, it is the holiday season, starting right at the end of October and running until the first week in January, it seems like every week there is some sort of celebration going on. As a result, you’re busy, your customers are busy, and no one has the time for a sales call.

The excuses are valid. The fact remains is the work you do in the fourth quarter determines the number of doors you will open and sales you will close in 2019. Then, how do you keep the energy going, and make your fourth quarter rock?

5 Sales Strategies You Need To Increase Sales Performance for Next Year

  1. Get a plan – now is the time to sit down, take an hour or two and think about what you need to accomplish in the 4th Look at the holiday schedule, the commitments you have made, and determine what time you will have available to make sales calls. Then set some goals – put some hard numbers to networking, sales calls, and sales follow-up calls. networking events will you attend, how many sales calls will you make, and how many proposals will you write?Going into the fourth quarter with a plan will ensure you use the limited time you have as effectively as possible and will keep you from getting off track with the busy work that comes with end-of-the-year commitments.
  2. Build your list – Think about your best customers, your top prospects, leads that have gone cold, and those prospects that are still on your wish list. Being proactive with your calls in the fourth quarter is vital to your success.Then sit down and write out exactly who you are going to spend this fourth quarter calling on, where is the highest and best use of your time?
  3. Get creative – on how you will call on them. Again, fourth quarter can be tricky – holiday season, end of the year reporting, and just the hustle and bustle of trying to get everything done on time. To make sales calls in the fourth quarter requires you getting out of your box and thinking differently. Maybe you will have a holiday party and invite prospects and customers; you will perhaps do an end-of-the-year review with your top customers. Perhaps you will make a “thank you for your business” call to anyone you closed a deal with this year. Whatever it is, get out of your traditional sales calling strategies, and take a more creative approach.
  4. Set the stage – the most important sales strategy for the fourth quarter is setting the stage. While fourth quarter can be a tough time to ask for business, it is the perfect time to let your prospects and customers know that you will be calling them right after the new year to design a plan for making 2019 their best year on record. Setting the stage ensures you have permission to start making sales calls right after “Happy New Year.” If you don’t set the stage, then guess what – you not only blew 4th quarter – you will lose the first two weeks of January too.
  5. Review and adjust at the end of every month – October, November, and December, take the time to review and adjust. What is going well with your fourth quarter plan, what results are you getting, and what if anything, would you change?

Yes, the fourth quarter is the most powerful sales quarter of the year. Follow these strategies, and you will position yourself to open more doors, close more sales and start 2019 strong!

 

 

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