Is Selling Immoral?

When I talk to many Small Business Owners and Business Executives they turn their nose up at Sales and Selling.  They know they have to Sell and they believe in their Products and Services.  So, why the bad taste for Sales?

I think there are two basic challenges:  Marketing and Manipulation.  Let me address the second one first.  Everybody can picture an old fashioned Used Car Salesman in their mind.  When they do, they don't want to be associated with this person.  This is the personification of Sales and the Salesperson in many.  But modern selling is all about matching needs with Products and Services.  There are plenty of potential customers out there.  If you are talking to a Prospect, they are in the market for the kind of goods that you offer.  There are only two questions left at this point:  Does your offer meet or exceed their needs? AND Does the Value and Trust you represent meet their Price?  If you do, then Closing a Sale is like falling off a log.  If you don't then you probably don't have a Sale.  Again, it is that second question that is most key - Value and Trust.  Have you been able to present your Value in a way that builds Trust?  If not, then you may have a Sales Process or Brand issue.  Those are both things that can be developed and improved over time.

So why is Marketing a problem?  Well, some modern Marketing techniques (E-mail and Telemarketing in particular) can be intrusive.  People confuse this type of Marketing with Selling.  The goal of these techniques is to produce a Prospect, not to turn a Prospect into a Customer.  People don't like these techniques used indiscriminately.  The thing is that this is not Sales it is Marketing.  These techniques work so they will continue.  These techniques have attracted the Criminal Element and thus you have Scammers and Hackers trying to obtain your information for nefarious purposes.  So, don't blame Sales for a Marketing Challenge.

Modern Selling is not Immoral.  It presents you as a choice and provides information about your offer. If you are just down to Price versus Value, then we are talking about a Negotiation.  That is another topic for another day.

Have a great day!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

 

Have a Sales Process!

I was recently visiting with a friend of mine. She was telling me that she was working on a couple of clients who were the kind of clients she was hoping to land. Problem is that they were taking longer to make a decision than she thought they should. There was that desire not to pressure for a close but on the other hand the desire to get the business.

What I recommended to her was that she ask her clients how they were going to make their decision. Many times clients haven't really thought it through and go with a gut reaction. By asking them how they are going to make the decision, it will cause them to actually think it through. There are a couple of advantages to this for you. First, you might be able to influence how the decision is made giving you a bit of competitive advantage. Second, there is the possibility of being seen as a trusted adviser. This will also help the decision lean towards you. This is all about helping your customer select one vendor or another. When I was in Telecom, we did formal RFPs that asked for proposals. We would get as many as a dozen replies. We would sift through the responses to get to narrow the field to 3 vendors. We would then set up presentations for each of the vendors. After all the presentations, we made a group decision. This gave us a timeline and a process that we could give to vendors and they would know what was happening. We would update them each step along the way.

So, if you don't have a Sales Process and your prospect doesn't have a selection process then education is a great way to start. What you do is help them define the decision criteria that are important to them in selecting a vendor. You can use external market surveys (like Gartner Magic Quadrants) or similar tools as guidelines. This means you should be very well prepared to answer a question that the prospect may have and you get to demonstrate your knowledge of them along the way.

By the way, this will help you develop your own Sales Process and improve your product offerings. Think about it. If you are thinking about how your prospects make decisions on how to buy your products, doesn't it make sense to adjust your products and services to fit the decisions? I often talk about Outside-In thinking and this is exactly what I mean. Put yourself in the role of your prospects and customers and think about what they value. You may find it is different than what you value in the transaction. Outside-In thinking is the best way I know of to build an effective Marketing and Sales process. Know what the value you bring to your customers and tell them that is what you do!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

Overcoming Fear in Sales with Preparation

Two weeks ago I posted about how many Business Owners did not want to be associated with Sales. I hope I convinced you that today there is an ethical way of Selling. One of the other objections to selling is that people fear rejection. For many Small Business Owners, they take a lost sale as a rejection of them as a person. This means that they are less likely to want to sell going forward. This is not a great way to succeed, so we need to change that. Remember that customers don't buy for a myriad of reasons. A competitor might have a better solution for that prospect (or be a personal friend of the prospect). The prospect may not be ready to buy or be unable to buy. You have to remember the sale is not about you, it is about the prospect. Some will and some won't.

But to help alleviate the fear, even more, there are some proactive steps that a people can take to improve their chances at closing deals. By taking these steps, they will be in greater control of the sales process. This reduces stress and fear as a by-product of the work.

The first preparation is to create a list of objections. Now we need to put price objection to the side for the moment. Everybody gets price objections and we have ways of working on that. If you are down to negotiating price, then all we are talking about is whether the deal is good business for you or not. You want to create a list of 3 to 5 objections, that you hear on a regular basis. Then create 1 or more responses to each of these objections. You want the responses to be natural for you and be complete for the prospect. Remember, objections are a good thing. A silent prospect is unlikely to buy. If they are talking about your product, you have a chance to overcome them and close the business.

The second preparation is to research the prospect and his or her company. The starting point is the company website. There is information about what they care about on the site. On top of that, you can find even more information on the blog, presentations, and social media pages of the company. Now these latter items are sometimes created by 3rd parties, so have lesser value than the website. But don't stop there. Look into the social media presence of the prospect. You will find out things about what the person is like and what they like. All of this information should allow you to tailor your presentation to the prospect. That customization will show effort and will be rewarded with trust.

The goal here is to help you take control of your sales processes. When you do that, you will relieve your stress and your fear. In turn, you are more likely to close sales. And that is the name of the game.

Have a great day!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

Why do Small Business Owners Hate Sales?

Well, they like the results of Sales. I run into so many people who tell me indignantly, "I don't SELL!" Then they go off and describe their Sales Process. Some of these processes are very inefficient and I often think as they are telling me that it would simply work better if they would admit to the fact that they are selling. Because Small Businesses need to be very efficient in our Sales and Marketing. It is the thing that makes these Businesses work or not.

The funny thing is that so many Small Business Owners tell me how much they like serving their customers. They deliver quality and value and talk about how much satisfaction that they get from delivering their products and services. You can get them to smile and talk about what they do endlessly. Of course, if they don't tell that to their prospects then they won't have customers. And this is the heart of Selling.

There is the stigma of manipulation from the movies. If you watch Glengarry Glen Ross or Tin Men, you would think the whole idea is to get people to buy things that they don't need or want. But if these Business Owners are smart they will be convincing those that need the products and services to buy them from them. If these businesses deliver quality and value, then it is just the right thing to do. They will help the right people get the things that they need.

However, there is a caveat here. Everybody has customers that buy from them that they shouldn't. There is pretty much nothing you can do about that. It goes with the territory. Nothing wrong with it, just one of those things that happen. But if you are willing to turn people away that should not buy, then that goes with truly modern selling. As a member of a BNI group, I often give referrals to those that have professions close to mine. My view is that if the prospect is best served then that is best for all of us. I won't have a customer who is unhappy and the right people will be providing their quality of service. The prospect will have a greater appreciation for a business that I turn away. 
The good news is that if you are clear about what you do and your core customers then you won't have to turn people away often. You can hone your message and be clear about what is great about your Business. Then you can provide a clear presentation, have answers to objections, and ask people to buy from you. That is Modern Selling is the right way to do business. Honest, Ethical, Moral are the watchwords of the Sales Person.
Next week we will talk about why this is so important. Oh wait, make that 2 weeks! I won't post on Labor Day as it is a Holiday. Have a great week!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

Small Businesses, Product Marketing, and Sales

Over the past couple of years, I have done a significant amount of Sales Training in Smaller Businesses. This process has been greatly rewarding but I want to write today about a function that is often missing from smaller companies. That function is Product Marketing.

Most smaller organizations are very thoughtful about Audience Development and Lead Generation. These are the parts of Marketing that get people in the front door. The chief Salesman/Saleswoman at that point is the Business Owner themselves. They close deals and the business grows. The problem comes in with scale. They need to hire people to close more Sales than they can do themselves. Business Growth puts more pressure on their time and they need to solve the problem by hiring others to make Sales.

Most businesses struggle with this first step. They look outside for someone with Sales experience. They particularly look for someone from their own industry. The person comes in and often struggles. There are lots of reasons for this revolving around the Sales process, but one of the biggest ones is the lack of Product Marketing.

So, let me define Product Marketing in this context. Each lead that comes to the business is part of a sub-market for that business. Very few businesses (and fewer small ones) have a homogeneous set of prospects and customers. That means that the Products and Services of the business fill a slightly different niche for all of those sub-groups. And it is here that Product Marketing comes in. It is the ability to translate the broader message of the company into more targeted messages based on these sub-categories. The whole point of Sales is to take this broad message and translate it to the specific customer. The idea here is to package these solutions for Sales.

And that right there is the point. Often times I see companies that expect their Sales team to find their own path instead of helping them along to be productive. That means that the person will be hit or miss instead of a win for the business owner. Think about this, you spent the time and money to search for this new Sales person. You want them to succeed to make your Business grow. And then to let them sink or swim on their own just means that you might have wasted your investment. By providing that skeleton of support, you can turn what a problem into a great hire. It will help you grow and hire even more Sales people.

Much of this is true for all employees, but depending upon a Sales person that is hit or miss is a great way to stifle your business growth. So, take some time think about Product Marketing and make this work!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

Selling in the 21st Century

I am going to add some blog posts on Selling and Sales. Sales are such a critical function in Business and Small Business in particular. The fundamental problem is that most Small Business Owners have a lack of formal Sales background. This means that their Sales techniques are not as effective as they can be. Sales are all about efficiency. Alignment, which I have blogged often about, is the key to efficient Sales and Marketing.

So, this type of blog will focus on that as the first type of topic. Basic Sales efficiency. This is true in creating Sales Processes and Sales Training. It is also true for Product Marketing. This is that boundary function between Marketing and Sales where Product Value Creation has to be explained. Marketing's job is to create Audience, Brand Awareness, and Prospects. Sales' job is to convert those Prospects into Customers by connecting the needs of the Customer to the right products/services within the company. I hope you can see that Boundary Problem now. Which group takes accountability for the Benefits of the Product as it relates to different prospect segments. In larger firms, this is a Marketing job. In smaller companies, it often falls to Sales. This is a great place to start talking about Sales Process.

The second thing that we will talk about is the stigma associated with being in Sales. I know you are all thinking about a Used Car Salesman. Many of us have seen movies like Tin Men or GlenGarry, Glen Ross and associate Sales with that ABC (Always Be Closing) attitude. But most Sales today is done in Relationship Selling. This is a different style than what was done in the deep past. The goal is not to close everybody, but to convince people that need your products/services to buy them from you. You know what you have to offer is good. Why would people that need what you have to offer not want to buy it from you?

The third thing that we will discuss in Fear. Fear is the enemy of Sales and Closing Business. Business is Business. You can not expect everyone to buy from you. So, don't worry about those that don't and put them back into the Prospect pool. If you don't take a loss as a rejection of you as a person, it will remove your Fear. This will allow you to go into tough Sales calls and win. Not all of them, but enough where it will be worth it.

So, I hope that you enjoy what I put out in this kind of Blog and have a nice weekend!


Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!