Way back in 2002, Richardson’s founder, Linda Richardson, published a Cyber Sales Tip called “Make a Thank You Call to Help Build Relationships.” I found this email newsletter while cleaning up some of our archives and in honor of #tbt (Throw Back Thursday) and the pending holiday weekend, I thought I would post it to our blog site as these points are sometimes lost in today’s digital world and are still quite relevant even 13 years later. Hope you in enjoy this post and “thank you” for your readership and support of our blog.
Make a Thank You Call to Help Build Relationships
If you like feeling appreciated by your clients, if you want to strengthen and build relationships, and if you want to win more business, start making thank-you calls today.
Certainly the thank-you call after a meeting or when you win a deal is expected, but the ones after the sale at any time or triggered by a milestone (such as one month or one year after the project, pilot, or implementation…) to say thank you has tremendous relationship and selling power. For example, you could say, “It has been a month (a quarter, even a year, we just completed X and since…I wanted to call…) and I wanted to say thank you…”
Whether you get voice mail or actually reach your client, the power of the thank-you call is the same.
Here are some guidelines:
Tickle in » Continue Reading.
5 Things That Matter Most in Sales Forecasting
The key to improving the accuracy in sales forecasting rests with knowing what you need to measure to find out what you want to know. With today’s technology and the near ubiquity of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, it’s more important than ever to give forethought into how you construct your sales forecasts. Otherwise, the data that you get from your time and technology investment may not be what you need to make the right decisions or achieve a real difference in results.
Here are five things that matter most in sales forecasting:
Don’t bother with CRM if you don’t have a sales process. Without an effective sales process in place, how can you trust your CRM technology to provide relevant insights into where deals are stalled or progressing in your pipeline? How can you begin to measure verifiable outcomes and assess the performance (or coaching needs) of your sales force? How will you recognize leading indicators of customer engagement and gain greater confidence in forecasts? There’s an old saying: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Without a sales process, the metrics you pull from your CRM will often be just numbers. Forecast with metrics that matter. Many sales forecasts are built on probability analysis using weighted metrics. The scenario might go something like this: My historical win rate for opportunities in Stage » Continue Reading.
We Asked and You Answered! What is your biggest training challenge?
What better place to take the pulse of learning and development professionals than the ATD 2015 International Conference. We did just that, in Orlando in May, discovering some hot issues in that hot climate. Richardson randomly stopped conference participants to ask a single question: “What is the biggest training challenge you are currently facing?”
Among the leading training challenges uncovered were:
1) Training Reinforcement
2) Measurement/ROI of Training.
In my recap of the full survey which was published on the ATD Blog site, we identify 24 issues that are top of mind, along with insights into ways of dealing with the top five.
Learn more about Richardson’s Consultative Selling Sales Training Solutions.
2 Essential Elements for Building Client Relationships
It’s not rocket science. There is no app. No magic tricks are needed. When it comes to building client relationships, the most fundamental aspect is who you are.
Too many sales professionals confuse client relationships with Customer Relationship Management. The first is a human endeavor — person to person — while the second, known as CRM, is basically a software system that automates the collection of data related to customers and sales opportunities. Think of the two as cause and effect; you have to build a relationship with your clients in order to have data about it to organize and analyze.
Before you can add insights and value to the process of working together — and before you can even win the deal — you have to win over your client. Here are two essential elements that are foundational for making that connection and building client relationships.
1) Be authentic
When I began my career in selling, for Xerox, many years ago, I approached working with my clients as authentically as possible. What I mean by authenticity is being reliable, dependable, and genuine. If you are not “real” with your customers, and you don’t sincerely care about them, they get that message right away. You just can’t fake being authentic.
You relay your authenticity by talking with clients naturally, looking for common bonds and interests, and being friendly. Conversations should be, well, conversational » Continue Reading.
3 Barriers to Better Client Dialogues
When it comes to effective selling practices, there’s often a difference between what’s commonly known and what’s commonly practiced. We know people make buying decisions based on a combination of emotion, logic, credibility, and both business and personal needs and wants. We know that client dialogues are crucial for uncovering needs, exploring solutions, establishing next steps, and building relationships.
And yet, too many sales professionals falter in the interpersonal skills needed for open, effective, engaging client dialogues. Here are three barriers to look for so that you can adapt your approach.
Different communication styles You might be an extrovert, and your client an introvert. Financial folks want numbers; technology groups understand systems and software; HR departments focus on the people element. How do you communicate with these different styles and information needs? The answer is to match your client’s demeanor, while still being yourself. You have to remain authentic to who you are and accommodate your client’s way of approaching business. With technology groups, your presentation should be succinct, based on solid data, with some charts and graphics to convey your message. For financial folks, the focus should be numbers and the economic benefit of pursuing your recommendation. In conversations with HR departments, you might focus on how your solution will make employees more productive. Beyond just considering job function, you should also try to pick up on what motivates your clients. Are they » Continue Reading.
What are Some of the Best Open-ended Questions for Winning Sales?
There is no magic wand to reveal the five best open-ended questions to ask for all sales situations. That’s the bad news. The good news is, there are several ingredients that will make asking five great questions easier. Here is the recipe for success:
Remember the old joke, “Where does an 800-lb. gorilla sit? Anywhere it wants to.” Don’t be that gorilla, starting the questioning dialogue with the questions YOU want answered. Start the sales dialogue by asking about the client’s short-term objectives and needs. This approach allows clients to take the conversation where they want, so they can share what is top-of-mind for them, what keeps them up at night, and what is most important to them in the near future. Even though you control the conversation by the questions that you ask, let the clients control which areas they want to direct the conversation.
Here are some sample questions to consider and adapt, as appropriate:
“In speaking with your senior account manager, he mentioned three key drivers: X, Y, and Z. What specifically are your key objectives related to these drivers?” (This question leverages your preparation so that the question doesn’t feel too basic or unprepared.) “What are you trying to accomplish in the next six months?” “What is most important to you in your business right now?” “What has prompted the shift in strategy from » Continue Reading.
Probing questions are at the heart of an effective, consultative selling approach
Being able to win opportunities is what separates a great sales professional from a good one — those who excel, understand the structure of sales meetings, and stay in control. Great sales professionals know where they are going with their questioning strategy and what they want to accomplish at every point in the dialogue. They hone their focus on probing, learning, and fully comprehending the client’s needs before ever talking about their own product. In my last blog post, I focused on tips that will help with open-ended questions, today, I will look at probing questions.
Probing questions are at the heart of an effective, consultative selling approach — one that is all about the client, not how much the sales professional knows or the great products to be offered.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
― Theodore Roosevelt
At the start of a client relationship, you should show interest in the other person’s world, which may include work and family responsibilities, hobbies, sports, or career development. Let the client take the lead, and then use probing questions to explore what the client has just said and to demonstrate your level of interest and caring.
Probing questions are a great way to demonstrate to your clients that you are listening and picking up on key “neon words” » Continue Reading.
Open-ended Sales Questions Allow Sales Professionals to Learn More than Just the Obvious
When you ask yes-or-no questions during sales calls, you get yes-or-no answers, which either confirm or deny whatever you had posited. When you become more strategic about asking questions, you can often discover important, underlying, and previously unknown issues that matter to the success of prospects and clients.
There’s a skill to asking the right questions at the right time. At Richardson, we include Questioning as one of our Six Critical Skills for sales, and we define it as the ability to explore needs and create dialogue. Open-ended questions allow sales professionals to learn more than just the obvious, observable things. As a result, sales professionals are better able to be more consultative and position the best products and services to meet client needs, while demonstrating understanding and caring in helping clients achieve their goals and objectives.
These five tips will help you get beyond the usual questioning strategy to discover what’s really on the minds of your clients:
It’s OK to leave your agenda behind. In fact, we encourage it. Going into meetings without preconceived ideas frees you to focus on what is important to clients. You can more easily step into their world, identify their needs and objectives, understand their worries and challenges, and align your offerings with their strategies. Don’t focus most of your sales dialogue on open-ended questions related to your » Continue Reading.
Better Sales Negotiations Go Step by Step
Sales negotiations don’t have to be stressful, contentious affairs. Yes, there’s a lot riding on the outcome of a sales negotiation. Just think of it as one more chance to uncover opportunities to provide value to the customer.
The secret to successful sales negotiation is all based on knowing what the customer is trying to accomplish, converting demands into needs, and then demonstrating and justifying your value.
Richardson teaches the following sales negotiation framework to help sales professionals to structure their dialogue with customers:
Preparation for the Negotiation — It all begins by planning the strategy and tactics, including bottom-line terms, to achieve the maximum outcome that meets the needs of both parties. Opening the Negotiation — The sales professional should set the stage and lay out terms at the outset. Counter-opening — This step draws out the customer’s opening terms and demands in order to maintain control and avoid negotiating elements in a piece-meal fashion. Converting Demands to Needs — The customer’s real requirements may not surface without probing more deeply to convert demands to needs and gaining insight into their true agenda. Value Justification and Concessions — At this point, sales professionals need to protect essential terms by trading expendables, positioning value to persuade the customer that it is worthwhile to make concessions, and trading concessions to achieve essentials. Closing the Negotiation — The last step is to maintain the » Continue Reading.
Are You Caught in a Negotiating Trap?
Here’s a common scenario: You’ve just presented your truly tailored, well researched, totally relevant proposal. The customer, who had been nodding in agreement all along, now has a strange look on her face. The change happened the minute you mentioned price.
She says your price is too high.
It’s your move. What do you do? If you start negotiating on price, trying to find a figure that she’ll accept without hurting your business, you’ve just landed in a negotiation trap.
The trap is in starting to negotiate too early, before justifying your value. This is how a lot of money is lost, either by discounting too early or by leaving money on the table.
Getting pushback on price is a common occurrence for sales professionals. That’s why it’s important to recognize the negotiation trap and learn how to avoid it.
First, don’t start off trying to resolve any immediate price objections; focus instead on justifying the value of your proposal.
Consider the objection as an opportunity to learn more about the customer’s situation. Where does the objection come from? Is the customer at the end of a budget cycle? Would splitting payment over two cycles be workable? Or, would changing delivery options add value?
The point is, you need to understand what the customer is trying to accomplish so that you can determine which terms are most important. This can be more » Continue Reading.
Training Industry Executive to Lead Richardson; John D. Elsey Named New CEO
Philadelphia, PA — June 1, 2015 — Richardson, a global sales training and performance improvement firm, today announced the hiring of John D. Elsey as president and chief executive officer. Effective June 1, 2015, Elsey will replace Interim CEO Carter Brown, who remains a director of the Richardson Board. For the past 15 years, Elsey held C-suite positions with commercial training and education companies formerly owned by Informa Performance Improvement, most recently as president and CEO for ESI International — a global leader in strategy execution training solutions — and concurrently as president for the portfolio of four other training businesses within the group holding.
“John is a training industry veteran with a strong, global perspective and success in driving results. He is a proven leader who focuses on both top-line growth and bottom-line profitability, with international expansion a key element in his strategic thinking,” Brown said.
“John brings great value to Richardson with his demonstrated ability to work with C-suite customers of large, sophisticated organizations. He understands the subtleties of a conceptual sale and the operational, quality, and financial metrics of an exceptional business service organization.”
In leading ESI International, Elsey substantially grew revenues and margins while spearheading the growth and integration of the Americas, EMEA, and APAC businesses. He also established product development priorities and the go-to-market and brand strategy.
“I look » Continue Reading.
Building Rapport with Six Critical Skills
Some people are extroverts; others are introverts. Some people have expressive communications styles; others get their points across quietly but with authority. There is no right way to be. The only right thing is to appreciate the other person and make an effort to building rapport.
In my last two blog posts, I discussed the importance of building rapport in the articles, Five Tips for Building Rapport and Building Rapport with WIIFO, not WIIFM. To be honest, building rapport is one of those concepts that often can’t be explained, but you know it when you see it. You hit it off with someone or get along well. Rapport is about building understanding and harmony with another person in a way that supports easier and more effective communication.
At Richardson, we often talk of the Six Critical Skills for consultative selling. They also are useful skills for rapport building, which is essential in differentiating yourself in a sales situations and establishing a personal connection.
Presence: Ability to project confidence, conviction, and interest in body language and voice Relating: Ability to use acknowledgment, rapport, and empathy to connect Questioning: Ability to explore needs and create dialogue Listening: Ability to understand content and emotional message Positioning: Ability to leverage client needs to be persuasive Checking: Ability to elicit feedback
The first two skills — Presence and Relating — come into play immediately » Continue Reading.
Philadelphia, PA — March 3, 2015 — Richardson, a leading global sales training and performance improvement company, has been named to TrainingIndustry.com’s 2015 Top 20 Sales Training Companies list for the seventh consecutive year. The Top 20 list recognizes the top providers for sales training services and technologies, and Richardson is one of seven companies included in the list each year.
Richardson develops customized sales training programs that change behaviors and provide measurable results. From assessing talent and developing sales teams through verifiable outcomes, coaching, and reinforcement, Richardson employs effective learning methodologies that draw on the best of interpersonal interactions to help build individual and organizational capabilities. Richardson has spent 30 years examining every type of sales conversation — deconstructing them, rebuilding them, and making them learnable and repeatable for each stage of the sales cycle which Richardson has covered in their eBook, The Sales Conversation Pendulum.
Richardson has been recognized for providing outstanding service and a proven track record for delivering superior training and improving the impact of sales organizations. Inclusion to this year’s Top 20 Sales Training Companies list was based on the following criteria:
Industry recognition and impact on the sales training industry Innovation in the sales training market Company size and growth potential Breadth of service offering Strength of clients served Geographic reach
“Being named to Training Industry’s list for the seventh consecutive year is a great accomplishment and » Continue Reading.
The Ultimate Checklist for Mission Critical Group Sales Presentations
“Mission critical” is a term that you see in many different activities, up to and including military operations. When mission critical aspects do not go well, barring an extraordinary piece of luck, the mission fails. If your group sales presentation does not go well, barring an extraordinary piece of luck, your sales effort will fail and you will not get the contract.