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The Only Sales Strategy You Will Ever Need

Think about this, most things that can impact your sales success today are  outside of your control.  For example, new competitors entering the market,  advancements in technology or even the fluctuations of the market. Anyone shift or change of direction with any of those and your sales strategy can be greatly impacted – positively or […]

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The Only Sales Strategy You Will Ever Need

The Only Strategy You'll NeedThink about this, most things that can impact your sales success today are  outside of your control.  For example, new competitors entering the market,  advancements in technology or even the fluctuations of the market. Anyone shift or change of direction with any of those and your sales strategy can be greatly impacted – positively or negatively.

So as a sales professional you need to be adaptable. You need to be open to trying new things, resilient in the face of challenges, and even be willing to change up your strategy now and then.   The one guarantee you have with sales is that change is constant, and it is those sale professionals who can embrace change and go with it, will be most successful.

Recently, I was working with a client who was one year into a three-year sales strategy. One that they had been consistent in using and were quite successful with when all of a sudden their top competitor went bankrupt.  Out-of-no-where they announced they were going out of business.

At the time, my client had thirty-one percent of the market share, and this competitor that was going under had close to forty-percent. For my client, this was a major opportunity.

She quickly went to her sales team and asked them to change their strategy immediately to focus on their failing competitor’s clients. Great idea right? Accept that her sales manager was not adaptable, he was struggling with why he should walk away from a strategy that is working, one his sale team was succeeding with, and change direction to take advantage of the opportunity.

Sounds crazy right? Why wouldn’t you immediately drop everything to take advantage of a situation like this? Because often change can be hard, and as sales professionals, we are creatures of habit, we know what works and pushing out of our comfort zone can be difficult.

However, the one thing I can guarantee you have with sales is that everything changes.  New products come out, better technology, new competitors and even periods of financial challenge. Your ability to embrace those changes, to take advantage of them and remain positive will greatly contribute to your sales success.

Change for most of us is hard, and just going with the flow can be easier said than done. Here are a few strategies to help you be more adaptable.

  1. Stop Whining – it is a waste of time and precious energy – energy that you are going to need to adapt. I get it, whining is fun, but the problem with it is that when you are finished whining nothing has changed. You still have to deal with the change, even having to adjust, and you have solved nothing. So stop!
  2. Shift Your Paradigm – we tend to think of change as something that is being done to us. You need to shift your paradigm and start to think about change as a good thing. Change is progress, and if your company and your customers are not asking you to change, then there is a good chance you are going to be left behind. So, shift your paradigm, how you see change, embrace it as a sign of progress rather than an obstacle.
  3. Get Your Head Out – of your office that is! You can get so focused on the day-to-day things we have to do, what is happening in your own world that you don’t see the need for change or the changes coming. If you get your head out and think about what is happening with customers, competition or even the economy, you will see the need to change and see the changes coming. If you see change coming it presents an opportunity; if you don’t see it coming, it can be a significant threat. So get your head out now and then, look around and see what is happening in the world and your marketplace.
  4. Have Plan B – change is unpredictable and knowing what is going to work and what won’t is less than an exact science. So, having a plan and using a strategy is essential, but so is having a backup plan. To be adaptable, you must be willing to get back up and try again when things don’t work.  You have to see failure as just another opportunity, and you need to be full of lots of ideas and strategies of what to try next. You need a plan B.

No one can predict what is going to happen in today’s marketplace. How many new competitors will enter your market, what interest rates will do, and what new technology will completely change how you and your customers do your jobs. However, we can predict that everything about the way you sell today, will be different tomorrow, and to succeed you will need to adapt!

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Six Sales Mistakes Guaranteed to Kill the Sale

When it comes to mastering the art of sales, sometimes it can be more important to understand what not to do when trying to get the sale. Sales is one business where you cannot fake success. Your numbers, your goals, and your bottom line results will always reveal your sales skills or lack thereof! You […]

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Six Sales Mistakes Guaranteed to Kill the Sale

Six Sales Mistakes Guaranteed To Kill the SaleWhen it comes to mastering the art of sales, sometimes it can be more important to understand what not to do when trying to get the sale. Sales is one business where you cannot fake success. Your numbers, your goals, and your bottom line results will always reveal your sales skills or lack thereof!

You can learn a lot from watching what sales professionals do to get the sale, but even more so from what they don’t do. You’ll learn what not to do so you don’t lose the deal.

Here are six must-know things to have at the top of your “no do” sales list:

Mistake # 1: Focus On The Market Vs. Customer – understanding your best and most profitable markets is just the first step in achieving your sales goal.  To sell more you have to stop focusing so much on the market and focus more on the individual customer. Within every market, every target that you choose to sell are customers that will be great to do business with, and customers that won’t be so great to do business with. You need to invest the time and understand the difference.

It is a sales mistake to focus on a market and call on any customers in that market. Finding those customers that fit your niche, you enjoy working with, and are most likely to buy your products is your best strategy for selling more and closing more deals. You have to focus on the right customer vs. focusing on the right market.

Mistake # 2: Forget About Digital – the majority of your customers are right now, at this moment, while you are reading this article, they are online getting information, learning about a new piece of machinery, or googling for product details and ideas. If your website, if your name or information about your products and services is not popping up, then you are already behind the sale.  In today’s marketplace, you cannot forget about Digital. To sell successfully into any market, you have to not forget about digital. You need a great website, a robust blog, and an active social media presence.  Remember your future customers will look for you online before they meet you in person.

Mistake #3: Don’t Implement the Pareto Principle – This rule is true in most areas of life, and especially when it comes to sales. The Pareto Principle is the old 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your business will come from 20 percent of your top clients. If you want to increase your sales, then stop trying to treat all your customers the same. Get a solid understanding of who your top twenty customers are and put more of your time and attention there.  It is a mistake to forget to take great care of your top clients and to forget to implement the Pareto Principle.

Mistake #4: Gloss Over the Small Opportunities – selling is a long-game, it takes time to establish trust, build relationships and get good at proactively recognizing and understanding your customer’s need. Also, while looking for the big opportunities, or the large sales is always top of mind, you have to remember not to gloss over the small opportunities.   Just getting in the door, or even making a small sale is a start, and if you treat every small opportunity as a step in the right direction, then you will be well on your way to surpassing your sales goals.

Mistake #5: Never Give Up – here is a news flash not everyone wants to do business with you, and here is another news flash, you don’t want to do business with everyone. Sometimes the best sales strategy you can have when selling into manufacturing is to give up. Because trying like crazy to make a sale to a demanding customer is time spent away from calling on better prospects.

Mistake #6: Keep Talking – and last but not least, and probably most important is the worst thing a manufacturing sales rep can do is to keep talking. Listening is one of the most valuable sales skills we have, and the only way to listen is actually to stop talking.

When it comes to sales, you can learn a lot from observing what works, but you can learn so much more from paying attention to salespeople who struggle to win a sale or to do a quick review when a sale you were working on goes south!

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Why Every Sale Is A Complex Sale

3 Strategies To Get The Deal Closed Think about this, since you have woken up this morning, gotten online, started reading this article on how to close more deals, your future customer has already begun the sales process. Right now, your prospects and customers are online, “googling” to discover information and ideas around products and […]

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Why Every Sale Is A Complex Sale

3 Strategies To Get The Deal Closed

Why Every Sales Is Complex Meridith Powell

Think about this, since you have woken up this morning, gotten online, started reading this article on how to close more deals, your future customer has already begun the sales process.

Right now, your prospects and customers are online, “googling” to discover information and ideas around products and services you sell. They are going to an industry meeting, where an expert or guru is speaking, and networking among companies and sales reps seeking referrals, or they are calling their peers or reading industry magazines to try and discover cutting-edge information.

If your name, your products, and your company are not coming up in those searches, if you are not being referred to in conversation, or are not even being mentioned in presentations and articles, then by the time you go in to make the sale, you are already behind. Your future buyers need to have heard of you and about you if they are going to buy from you. Moreover, your existing customers need to be hearing from someone else other than you, how amazing you and your products and services are.

Everything about today’s marketplace is different:  Customers are far more demanding, skeptical and well-informed. Products and technology are continually changing at a rapid pace. Global opportunities have changed the competitive landscape. All of this impacts you and your sales process.

As a sales professional, you have to shift your process from that of traditional sales strategies such a product knowledge, and relationships building to a more complex sales strategy that combines marketing, sales, and value-added selling.  You need to be prepared for a longer selling cycle and be ready to sell to and win-over multiple decision makers.

Remember, every sale is unique, depending upon whether the product you are selling is a commodity or a unique, custom product. Depending on the number of buyers or decision makers you have to interact with and ultimately sell. Also depending on the specific needs and challenges of the individual prospect on whom you are calling.  Even if you specialize in one industry.

There are so many moving pieces in selling today, and that makes it complicated. Industries are experiencing so much change, and feeling the pressure of global competition. To sell in any industry, you need to know more than your products and services.

Your buyers need you to deeply understand the industry, the trends, and the players. They need you to ask strong and insightful questions that pull out the right information to get at the heart of their issues. Even help them uncover the problems beneath their problems, the ones they did not even realize they had. Plus they need you to have the resources and strategies to provide valuable and high-quality solutions that do more than sell them a product, they increase their revenues and streamline their production.

Selling today requires you to overhaul your sales strategy, and question what you are doing to move from traditional sales rep to that of a valued resource and partner.  In essence, you need to know your customer’s industry, competitor, and company better than they do.

Here Are Three Strategies To Get The Deal Closed:

  1. Attract Before You Ask – you have to dominate your market if you want to open more doors and close more deals. If you think competition is fierce for you, imagine it from your customer’s perspective. The amount of sales reps calling on them, and the companies to choose from, they are overwhelmed with choice. They are going to go with the path of least resistance, what is most comfortable for them. You need to be that choice. Work on building your reputation in the marketplace, getting above that white noise and standing out from your competition.
  2. Do Your Homework – this is not your father’s marketplace. Just having a little product knowledge, and being able to crack a few jokes does not a sales rep make. You need to do your homework, do your research, and understand both the customer and the industry in which you are selling.
  3. Go Deep – sales today is only partly about selling what your customer needs. It is really about helping them uncover the problems or opportunities they did not even know they had. Your job is to go deep, as the questions that get to the heart of their issues, and provide value at a level your competitors have not even thought about.

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The Must-Have Skills Of The Modern Sales Professional

What are the sales skills the Modern Sales Professional is going to need? What a great question – and why the “modern” salesperson? Because everything about selling today is different, and it takes a new (modern) approach. The economy, customers, and technology –  they have all changed the game. So in times of extreme marketplace […]

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The Must-Have Skills Of The Modern Sales Professional

High Five Meridith Elliott PowellWhat are the sales skills the Modern Sales Professional is going to need? What a great question – and why the “modern” salesperson? Because everything about selling today is different, and it takes a new (modern) approach. The economy, customers, and technology –  they have all changed the game.

So in times of extreme marketplace shifts, hyper-competition, and demanding customers – what are the range of sales skills you need to exceed your goals, expand your business and achieve sales success?

They fall into two categories:

Soft Skills – the relationship building skills, the critical thinking and customer service skills, the skills that encourage people, your prospects, and customers, to know you, like you and trust you.

Hard Skills – the more computer, technical and formal skills that you most likely learned in sales training. Things like building your sales system, setting goals, and industry-related skills.

While the boundaries between the two can blur at times, it is essential to understand and be able to identify the difference between the two. You are going to need both skills to sell in today’s modern marketplace.

“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” -Anton Chekvo

So let’s dive a little bit deeper in into the soft skills you are going to need:

What are the top “must-have soft skills” for today’s sales professional?

  1. Flexibility – how stretchy are you? Being in sales is about change, overcoming obstacles and bouncing back.,
  2. Communication – your ability to craft a message in a way that inspires others to take action.
  3. Connection – the ability to get along and connect with people. Get them to want to know you, like you and trust you.
  4. Listening– in other words, knowing when to shut up, really hear what your client or prospect is trying to share with you.
  5. Relationship Building – Both with customers and team members. Success today is a team effort, and the more you invest in others, the more they will invest in you.

Moreover, the hard skills:

  1. Sales Systems – understanding and having an actual sales process. A game-plan and a consistent way you approach sales.
  2. Lead Quality – how to define, research and gain quality sales leads.
  3. Track, Measure, Adjust – how to review and learn from your sales system to track your progress, measure your success and make needed adjustments.
  4. Sales Technology (I should say enablement here) – an understanding of the tools and technology you need to enhance your sales ability.
  5. Negotiation – how to work with customers and prospects to find a deal that works for everyone involved.

I am guessing that by now there are some sales skills you recognize here both in the soft and hard skills that you feel good about, that you know you are solid in. I am also guessing if you are honest, that there are some that may be a little out of your comfort zone.

Well, don’t worry, the great thing about sales is that it is continuously evolving. Moreover, those skills you have mastered – congratulations. For the ones that may need a little more work, there are plenty of resources and tools out there to ensure you can up your sales game! Grab a book, spend a little time “googling” or take a course.

Continual growth is the key to sales, and in a world where the marketplace is constantly shifting, remember the perfect blend of the hard and soft skills is what it will take your sales game to the next level.

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6 Strategies To Develop A Great Sales Conversation

You can sell the best products, have all the knowledge in the world, and be sitting in front of the most qualified customers, but if you cannot deliver a meaningful and engaging sales conversation, you will never get the sale. A productive sales conversation is a powerful tool as it engages your customers, provides you […]

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6 Strategies To Develop A Great Sales Conversation

Man and Woman ConversationYou can sell the best products, have all the knowledge in the world, and be sitting in front of the most qualified customers, but if you cannot deliver a meaningful and engaging sales conversation, you will never get the sale.

A productive sales conversation is a powerful tool as it engages your customers, provides you with valuable information and sets you apart from your competition. In fact, it is your best shot to stand out from your competition. Customers who feel heard, understood and validated are far more motivated to buy.

Building sales conversations are about ensuring you have the steps in place to meet the needs that are most foundational to a strong sales conversation.

Below are six strategies in developing great sales conversations with your clients:

  1. Build rapport – customers buy from people they like – period. So, for them to like you, your customers have to feel connected to you. Building rapport is about merely taking a sincere interest in your customer. An interest that goes beyond the business at hand. I always love to know how my customers got started working in their field. Alternatively, what do they enjoy doing in their spare time? Give it a try, take a minute now and then, come up with one or two questions that you could use to establish rapport.
  2. Explore the opportunities – next, you need to start asking those open-ended questions that will help you understand where your customers’ pain point is or where their opportunities lie. You cannot sell anything until you know your customers’ goals and their obstacles.
  3. Transition to value – with their pain point established, it is time to validate that you heard their challenge and understood it. Next, you can transition to value. Value is about the solutions you have (i.e.) products that will solve the issue. In a sales conversation, you have to position your products as solutions to the problem or opportunity you and your customer have identified.
  4. Listen to resistance – invite your customers to ask questions, challenge your ideas and resist the idea of purchase. In this part of the sales conversation, it is important to slow down, not talk, just listen. If you listen to the resistance, you will understand how to approach the next step.
  5. Create the vision – now is your time to create the vision. Resistance happens because customers are still unsure of the value, or what difference your product or service will make for them. If your customer is challenged by a lack of cash flow, and the inability to meet financial deadlines. You may offer a line of credit that eases the burden and provides cash at times when they most need it. However, your customer is still worried – worried about paying fees, becoming dependent on the line or their ability to pay it down as the product requires. So, creating the vision would be helping them to see how much more time they would have to generate more revenue or develop efficiencies in their business if they did not have to worry about cash flow.
  6. Plan for success – the end of every sales conversation either ends with a sale or with the seed planted to continue to have more sales conversation. More often it is about planting the seeds. A closed sale is the result of many sales conversations that follow this exact pattern.

So now it is your turn, follow the steps, put them into action, and you will create a strong sales conversation.

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