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Businesses lose substantial dollars in revenues and profits each year because their sales and service people do not effectively sell the value of their product and service offerings.
Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi said, “Inches make the champion.”
The same applies to the selling profession; it’s a game of inches. Every business day your salespeople have opportunities to win new business. How effective or ineffective they are in their customer interactions determines their success or failure – and ultimately the return (or lack thereof) on your sales staff investment.
The fact is your salespeople are always on the verge of either making or losing their next sale. What if they could execute better and win a sale that they would have lost? How about if they did that on a consistent basis? Now multiply that by the number of salespeople you employ. That’s your value opportunity!
Defense! Any coach worth his whistle will tell you that a strong defense is the best solution against a good offense. The reality of many organizations is that their customer’s have a better system (defense) than they do of selling them on their value (offense).
Ask yourself: Ever had a prospective customer request a discount, postpone an order, or worse, cancel purchasing from you? Well, then it’s a good bet they don’t understand your offering’s true value.
Wait a minute you say, no one wins them all. You’re right, but those who effectively sell value win more often, accelerate their sales cycle, and make customers feel better about their purchases in the process.
True Value Areas
Value is in the eye of the beholder. In the case of selling anything, it’s the customer’s perceived value that matters, is essential and vital – not the sellers.
Customers don’t want all your stuff! They only want what they perceive and believe will help them. This is especially important to understand in product or service sales where potential customers can quickly be turned off by technical features and functions they don’t understand or perceive to be unnecessary and of little or no advantage.
All too often sales staffs employ a one-size-fits-all, throw it against the wall and see what sticks presentation. I’ve witnessed countless phone and face-to-face encounters that were cut short because the sales person says some version of “just let me show you” and moves too quickly into the product demonstration without first really understanding the customers’ needs and true value areas.
To effectively sell value, sales people need to engage the customer in a proper discovery process first to uncover what is important to them and why. It is only with this understanding that the sales person can effectively communicate value and tailor a presentation to fit the needs of the customer. By implementing this consultative approach, the buyer-seller relationship is strengthened by properly positioning the sales person as a consultant/advisor.
In addition, sales people need to know what their competitive differentiators are, the areas that their product/service business is better/faster/more cost effective than the competitive offerings the customer may compare them to.
When these Selling Value areas are proper incorporated, sales people have much better control of the sales process, become more efficient, improve customer experiences, and ultimately produce better results for themselves and the businesses they represent.
Steve Ferrante is the Grand PooBah & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For detailed information visit saleawayllc.com. Steve can be reached directly at 866-721-6086 ext. 701 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click-On for a printable pdf of this article > Sell Value or Pay The Price
No doubt you’ve heard someone referred to as “a born salesman” but is this old adage true?
Having spent 25+ years in the sales industry in every role from rep to manager to trainer of reps and managers, and having observed a countless number and wide variety of salespeople over that time, I am uniquely qualified to answer that question with a tried and true “yes and no”.
How many born doctor, born attorney or born scientists do you know? Likely not many. With many years of teaching and training to achieve those occupation designations it would surely be improper referring to those (or any other honorable profession) that way.
Put in an athletic perspective, you are not “born” to be a great basketball player, a great golfer, a great tennis player, etc. It is true, however, that many great athletes are indeed born with good genes and innate physical characteristics that, when properly developed and applied, result in great achievement.
So while many “born salesman” have natural attributes like “outgoing, articulate, optimistic, assertive, nurturing” that lend themselves well to success in the sales profession, top ‘Pinnacle Performers’ combine this with a set of skills learned over time, and reinforced through continuous practice and disciplined application.
For companies that are hiring new salespeople, that means ideally you would want to start with an individual that has that strong foundation of natural attributes and then build a top performer through a consistent skills development program.
As I cover in my Strong Selling In A Weak Economy presentations, this is especially important in a down or ultra-competitive market. Why? Because many of those alleged “born salesman” (and saleswoman) fail under those circumstances. Often these folks have those natural ‘gift of gab’ attributes to talk the talk but come up short in the training and development required to walk the walk and perform in those tougher selling environments.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” That applies to success in sales and any other profession. Top performers don’t rely on fate/destiny, they decide and commit to being a student of their profession and work to master their craft over time.
The fact is, top performing sales people are not born. However, they can be made by combining natural talents with proper training and development.
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Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services for your team visit Sale Away
Back in our school days (or school daze for some) there were specific academic achievements that needed to be accomplished to graduate from one grade to the next, from grade school to high-school, high-school to college and so forth. The track was all laid out and it was clear (to the non-dazed folks at least) what needed to be accomplished to move forward and succeed.
At some point, we entered the working world and all that changed. We had multiple tracks to choose from and the path to success became considerably more fuzzy.
Some people chose a less than desirable track. These folks can be found complaining about their job most days. Other folks were headed in the right direction but then, for various reasons, got side-tracked. Both folks will find that if they continue heading in the wrong direction they’ll ultimately end up in the wrong place.
What you do today shapes your tomorrows. Where you end up then depends on what track you’re on now.
This principle applies to not only your long-term goals but also your short-term objectives. In sales, what you achieve in a given month will determine if you’re on track to meet your goal for the quarter. A successful quarter will put you on the right track for a successful year.
And, of course, a successful Monday will put you on track for a successful week!
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How do we measure training? It’s a question I hear frequently from my prospective Pinnacle Performance clients. By that they mean, “we’ve budgeted X amount of dollars for sales and/or customer service training, how do we measure our results and ensure we receive a worthwhile return on our investment?”
That is a great question, one I would no doubt ask if it were I in their position.
An obvious answer is to track and record sales results, close rates, customer appointments and other key performance metrics prior to training and then compare them to the results after training. While that is certainly recommended and should be charted throughout the course of any training implementation, this method does little to let you know how you stand in real time.
The best way to measure the effectiveness of training and employee’s sales performance is to monitor activity at the point-of-sale.
There are two point-of-sale areas that business owners should be monitoring on a day-to-day basis; face-to-face and telephone interactions.
For an objective look at employee performance in face-to-face interactions, I highly recommend contracting the services of a professional mystery shopping company. A high-caliber mystery shop company will use well-trained “secret shoppers” to provide you with an accurate picture of the customers perspective while conducting business with your company. Over my 10 years in the training industry, I have had experience with both very good and a few not-so-good mystery shop companies. If you’re looking for a recommendation, email me with your company website and contact info at email@example.com and I’ll provide my best choice for your consideration.
Then there’s the phone. As detailed in my Top 3 Reasons Why Phone Skills Training Is Most Important In Sales article, for business’s that sell both face-to-face and on-the-phone, phone skills is the most important area of employee development.
The best way to manage employee performance on the phone is to record and evaluate actual customer calls. While call-in mystery shops can be useful to establish a baseline and determine if employees are performing their selling fundamentals, these scripted interactions simply don’t have the spontaneity and challenge employees the way genuine customer calls do.
I am quite familiar with the companies that provide call recording services and have found none better than my resource partners at Convirza (formerly LogMyCalls). For ease of operation, recording and tracking capabilities, scorecard administration and reporting analytics their program is simply top notch and my recommendation for all my Pinnacle Performance clients.
It’s important to note that many companies are already recording their customer calls. If so, you’re only halfway there. The other half – the more important half – is monitoring and evaluating those calls on how well employees are meeting, or not meeting, the established selling system.
In the case of my clients, industry-specific scorecards are created to evaluate and measure every element of the Pinnacle Performance sales/customer service model as tailored for the business. Armed with the evaluation data, we can then pinpoint precisely where an employee is weak or missing key elements and provide the coaching to improve sales/customer service performance in real time!
As renowned management consultant Peter Drucker once said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That is certainly true of sales/customer service training and there’s no better way than evaluating employees real-time performance at the point-of-sale.
For Details Visit > MEASURING TRAINING EFFECTIVENESS
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Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Leadership training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services for your team visit saleawayllc.com
As a professional sales/customer service trainer, I work with many businesses that sell (or have opportunities to sell) both face-to-face and on the phone. Of course, from a development perspective, both of these point-of-sale areas need to be addressed with an effective methodology and a process institutionalized to maximize selling opportunities.
But what area is more important, face-to-face or on-the-phone? I can attest with unwavering certainty, that for businesses where the same employees sell both ways, the phone is by far the more important of the two areas. In fact, I often paraphrase Sinatra’s famous line when speaking about telephone relations to my training clients: “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” Why are phone skills most important?
Here are my Top 3 Reasons:
1) Resistance is Greater
Simply put, selling face-to-face is easier. When a prospective customer takes the time and effort to visit your store or office they have made a higher level commitment to buying from your business than they would have simply phoning in. More often than not a prospective customer’s visit is premeditated, they have determined in advance that you can provide what they need/want and arrive with the intent to buy.
That’s not to say that salespeople don’t lose face-to-face sales opportunities as this is a regular occurrence in companies where the salespeople are not well trained and/or don’t follow an effective sales process. It’s just easier as face-to-face customers’ resistance is typically much less than the phone-in prospect that is often just ‘calling around’ for pricing and specifications.
2) Escape-ability is Higher
When a customer is face-to-face they cannot easily do anything but interact with you and other members of your team. When a customer phones the business expressing purchase consideration in your products and/or services it is extraordinarily easy for them to disconnect and call one of (or all of) your competitors at light speed if they are not effectively engaged.
Human nature plays a role here too. There’s an emotional element when two people interact face-to-face that doesn’t exist on the phone. Accordingly, it’s considerably easier to hang-up and end a phone interaction than it is to walk out on someone face-to-face.
Add in the fact that (to point #1) they took the time and effort to visit your location, most customers are far more willing to stay put and try to make a deal even if the interaction with their salesperson is less than a high quality experience. Contrast that to a phone interaction where if the caller is not engaged and/or doesn’t feel they’re receiving the best service to meet their needs they can swiftly move on to the next service provider with a few clicks.
3) Communication Deficit
While number one and two have a major impact, the single biggest reason phone skills training is most important in sales is in communication itself.
As you may know, there are 3 elements that compose communication; words, tonality and body language. In face-to-face interactions, salespeople have all of these communication tools at their disposal to maximize their selling capability. Conversely, on the phone, the single biggest component of communication, physiology (body language) is absent and the salesperson must rely only on what they say (words) and how they say them (tonality).
For these reasons, any business that has salespeople that sell both on the phone and face-to-face should emphasize phone skills training and development to offset the disadvantages and maximize their sales opportunities!
Printable PDF of this article > Top 3 Reasons Why Phone Skills are Most Important in Sales
Now that we’ve covered the importance of phone performance, what should you and your team be doing on the phone to maximize results? Plenty and much of it is covered in this Tire Review magazine cover story featuring yours truly > Phone Skills Drill
Have a look and, by all means contact me if your team needs help with phone skills to win more customers for your business
Make a Great Day!
Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services for your team visit saleawayllc.com