Becoming Hardwired to Close Deals
One could argue that the whole point of selling is to close deals. That’s often easier said than done. Many sales professionals struggle with asking for the business or next steps to maintain momentum on sales opportunities.
From my own experience working with sales professionals, I know that by the time you get to the Close, you should already have created such strong sponsorship within the situation that it’s hardwired for the Close. In fact, we tend to think about the collaboration leading up to the Close as just as important, if not more so, as planning for the Close.
The situation we recommend that you are in at closing time is this: your sponsor and you should be in it together. You are creating a plan for how you are going to execute and make the deal happen, going well beyond just getting the right signatures on a contract.
There are several things you can do throughout the sales cycle to put yourself in this superior position to close deals:
Find the right sponsor. Look for someone on the decision-making team who is invested in moving the deal forward. They typically have a lot on the line in terms of wanting to see this through and achieve the desired results. » Continue Reading.
How to Close a Sale? Generate Urgency!
In my previous post we provided 3 closing techniques for getting a client invested in the deal. Today I will review creating urgency in how to close a sale. The Close of business deals can be frustratingly slow. The solution is to generate urgency at every juncture so that you create action that moves the deal forward and, in turn, builds velocity toward the Close.
Consider the complexity of many sales initiatives and the stakeholders involved in decision making. To elevate the urgency, you need to understand what the triggers and dynamics are internally and then build upon that.
Risk is a huge trigger for many clients. While they might consider the risk involved in going forward with a project, you can focus on the risk of not taking action. If you can quantify the risk of not moving forward, that’s even better because that elevates the sense of urgency around action, which gets people to mobilize and commit.
For example, we have recently worked with a company that has a relatively high Net-Promoter score. In this scenario, they want to go from good to great, and to do that, they have to engage with their clients in such a superior fashion that it clearly differentiates them from their competitors. The problem is there has been some leakage in scores that could impact their future. The level of urgency for action is high, » Continue Reading.
Creating a compelling Case Against No Action is Critical in Closing a Deal. Learn 3 Sales Closing Techniques to Help Clients and Prospects Get More Invested So It Feels you’re Closing the Deal Together
One of the skills we reinforce and model during Richardson sales training sessions is the Close: asking for the business or next steps to maintain momentum on sales opportunities. This is something sales professionals struggle with, as do clients who don’t want to be pressured into making buying decisions.
That’s why getting clients invested in the Close early on in the sales process is so important.
How this plays out is a lesson in role play — not the kind we do in our training sessions but in adopting different roles depending on the sales scenario.
Here are three sales closing techniques and roles for getting clients invested in the Close:
Be a cheerleader. Early in a sales call, talk to the person about desired results. Learn what is important to them both professionally and personally. With that information, you can become a cheerleader giving them a pep talk. “You are in a position where this could be career defining for you. Have you ever thought of it this way?” Then paint a picture with examples and evidence to support this statement. People who are fortunate enough to be leading these kinds of projects have the opportunity to make an impact in a meaningful » Continue Reading.
Moving Beyond Price: Differentiating Yourself through a Consultative Selling Approach
When we interview our clients to learn why they picked us for a sales training solution, the reason we hear given most often isn’t what you might expect. Although we offer comprehensive sales solutions, exceptional customization capabilities, outstanding facilitators, and many other tangible strengths, the reason we hear the most is that “you were the best fit.” When we look further into that answer, we usually hear phrases, such as “you really got our business and our culture” and “we had confidence in your ability to deliver what we need.” In a time when buyers have instant access to volumes of information at their fingertips, soft factors still matter. They can matter a lot.
As a sales professional, you work in a world where your competitors may be able to match you in price, product quality, and even features. So, how do you convince a potential client to buy from you? You must use a consultative selling approach to help differentiate your solution and yourself from your competitors. You don’t just offer yourself as someone who can supply good solutions; you offer yourself as someone who is fully vested in the client’s success, not just someone trying to sell to the client. You strive to be the best “fit.”
So, how do you become the best fit? This process starts with preparation before the conversation. You need to identify the » Continue Reading.
Sales Prospecting Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint!
It’s OK to want immediate results from sales prospecting. In an ideal world, every call would lead to an appointment and the start of a beautiful business relationship. A more realistic view, however, is one that recognizes sales prospecting as the long-term activity it most often becomes.
Too many people gauge sales prospecting success by the number of appointments scheduled. Yet, if your two-minute call only focused on getting in the door and your conversation didn’t cover any meaningful ground, you won’t be well prepared for any appointment that might result. So, your first meeting could easily be your last with that prospect.
I judge sales prospecting success by engagement, the kind of dialogue conducted, and whether I was able to gain a greater understanding of the prospect’s needs. Success is being able to take the next step in forming a relationship or, better yet, a partnership. An appointment may not come out of the first or second or third conversation. But, when I do finally get in the door, it will be because I have engaged the prospect in learning more about how I can solve the needs or problems at hand.
When you bring value to conversations and put the prospect first, it becomes easier to schedule follow-up calls. And your calls tend to get answered. At least, that’s been my experience with a high percentage of prospects whenever » Continue Reading.
Do’s and Don’ts of Sales Prospecting
During my 20 years in sales, I’ve seen more than enough examples of best practices, fair practices, and I-can’t-believe-it practices related to sales prospecting. I’ve worked in technology sales, leading high-performance teams, and I’ve been responsible for generating engagement with clients who weren’t actively in partnership with me or my then-employer.
Based on my experience, I’ve developed a short list of things that you should do to be effective in sales prospecting and, conversely, things not to do.
DO: Be disciplined. If you are methodical in using a consistent process over time to contact prospects, you will be more successful with your prospecting. It is as simple as it sounds. Set aside a certain amount of time each week to reach out to prospects, be it an hour a day or a half-day each week. By scheduling the time, you can develop a rhythm that includes pre-call preparation and follow-through dedicated to specific clients.
DO: Leverage your account-planning process. Specifically, use the process to understand two things about each targeted account: 1) What is relevant to that organization? What is happening internally and also within the industry? 2) What messaging can you put together that will resonate with those factors in mind? What this information will give you is a roadmap for how to prepare for your prospecting call.
DON’T: Lead with your product or capabilities. Your opening should focus on what’s » Continue Reading.
7 Quick Sales Tips for a Strong 2015 Close
The year has once again flown by and, for calendar-year companies, the fourth quarter looms ahead. For sales professionals, this means pedal to the metal to close out the year on a strong note. For sales managers, it means coaching and guiding teams to reach the finish line in good shape.
Here are some quick sales tips that may prove helpful in bringing 2015 to a strong close.
Adapting Learning for the New Workforce
The reality of the generational shift in today’s workforce is undisputed. Much has been written about the sea change taking place, with baby boomers retiring in record numbers as millennials are entering the workforce and taking on their first supervisory roles. Consider these numbers:
10,000 daily Medicare enrollments 73,000,000 — the size of the Baby Boomer class 2015 — the year that millennials become the largest demographic in the US workforce
What does this mean for the Learning function? In a word: Opportunity.
Programmatic Learning as we once knew it is dead! Now is the ideal time to conduct a post-mortem on past practices from a content, process, and delivery standpoint. With today’s technology, we can more fully engage tomorrow’s leaders while improving efficacy.
Beyond the issues of learning content, instructional process, and delivery vehicles, the Learning function can make greater contributions to any organization by thinking beyond traditional functional boundaries. Learning opportunities and “teachable moments” reside within and across the entire employment experience and lifecycle, including the following:
Organizational structure: The trend toward flatter organizations scares people if they think about career growth from a traditional perspective… always up. Cross -functional assignment, rotations, and special, entrepreneurial projects present opportunities to engage and retain employees? Processes: Are there clear expectations about what to do and how things should be done? We’ve been lobbying for clear expectation setting for years … and not doing » Continue Reading.
Best Sales Questions that Work
You may love watching police dramas on TV, but a good salesperson never recreates the interrogation room in a prospect’s office.
The foundation of a good sales questioning strategy is creating a well-paced dialogue based on asking open-ended questions.
Here is a list of questions that I typically draw on in developing my pre-call strategy. They can be easily honed for specific situations and are intended to draw the other person into a meaningful conversation.
What is the opportunity?
What is the initiative we’re here to talk about today? Why is now the right time for this initiative? What is the driving force behind this initiative?
What are the expectations?
How will you recognize or define success? What changes do you want to see in your organization? What do you want your people to be doing differently How do you see this working within your organization? What are the roadblocks? Are there any champions or other stakeholders with an interest in this initiative?
What are the circumstances?
How have you been addressing this issue? What is your time frame for getting started? What does your decision-making process look like, and who will be involved? What are next steps and your time frames for implementation? When can we schedule time for a presentation to all of the decision makers?
Who else is in the running?
Who else are you considering » Continue Reading.
Educational Technology and Digital Content Innovator Joins Richardson; Christopher Tiné to Head Product Development
Philadelphia, PA — August 5, 2015 — Richardson, a leading global provider of sales training and effectiveness solutions, announced today that Christopher Tiné has joined Richardson as SVP & Chief Product Officer. Previously, Tiné was Vice President of Product Development for ESI International and IPS Learning — both part of the Providence Equity Partners family of companies — where he headed the group responsible for product development and design, digital strategy, curriculum, and professional services.
The Best Sales Questions to Ask on a Second Call
Life would be fantastic if initial sales calls resulted in every question being answered, in full, with enough detail to go straight to the close. That rarely — if ever — happens. That’s why it’s necessary to plan the best sales questions very carefully for the second sales call.
In my previous post, The Art of Asking Sales Questions to Engage Prospects, I discussed the kinds of questions and strategy that salespeople should use in calls with prospects and clients. Now, let’s consider the best sales questions to focus on for the second call.
One of the first things to do is share your understanding of the initial conversation. The reason is twofold: it validates your understanding of the situation based on what you heard, and you can gauge reactions and uncover additional perspectives in various areas.
What I typically do is to put together a conversation summary, highlighting my understanding of the conversation and what the prospect is trying to accomplish. This makes for a good starting point for a second meeting, and I always ask if there are others who need to be engaged in these conversations.
The questioning strategy at this point should be designed to drill down into more detail of the initiative under discussion. Many of these would focus on implementation and on uncovering each individual’s point of view:
How do you see this working within » Continue Reading.
The Art of Asking Probing Sales Questions to Engage Prospects
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin
Salespeople who call on prospects or clients without well-researched, well-prepared sales questions are likely to walk away knowing little more than when they began.
The four main objectives in any initial sales dialogue should be these:
To establish yourself as a credible professional and partner by being prepared and thoughtful in the sales questions that you ask To seek to understand the prospect’s current situation, which includes an effort to validate what you’ve researched or the assumptions that you’ve made To uncover a broader and deeper range of information, from strategic objectives to immediate business needs To seed new ideas to either influence or disrupt the prospect’s current thinking
With those four objectives firmly in mind, your next step is to develop a series of open-ended questions that you will ask to engage clients in a meaningful dialogue. Sequence your sales questions to create a flow. Forget about yes-or-no sales questions. Don’t provide multiple-choice answers. You want each question to elicit a thoughtful answer from the prospect’s or client’s point of view.
What is the initiative we’re here to talk about today? What is the driving force behind this initiative? Why is now the right time for this initiative? How will you recognize or define success?
Just as important as specific sales questions are the » Continue Reading.
Aligning Key Stakeholders in Rolling out Global Sales Training Programs
“Not invented here” is probably the leading challenge facing the rollout of global sales training programs.
What happens in too many cases is that someone or some group in corporate headquarters says, “We need a training program for all our locations. We will develop it here, in our home country, and then roll it out around the world.”
It doesn’t matter where that corporate headquarters is located. If a training program comes solely from any one place, the rest of the world will say, “That won’t work in our country.” It could even be that the proposed program is exactly what they themselves would recommend, but the fact that it came from somewhere else makes it tainted.
The resistance to a program developed in Country A being implemented in Country B, C, or D is high and often justified because the targeted customers — their communication styles, their customs — are different. Overcoming this resistance is possible and can be relatively easy. It just takes collaboration and alignment of stakeholders.
The people in Country B, C, and D should be considered stakeholders, not recipients, of the proposed training. Taking the time and effort to ask their input may not significantly change the construct of what the program would have been without their involvement, but it will make a huge difference in adoption.
The stakeholders will feel » Continue Reading.
Today’s blog post was exclusively submitted and written by The Online Expert
Three Easy Steps in Building your Mobile User Persona
The digital boom has helped marketing and sales reach new heights. From conventional print, radio, and television, to the viral, social selling activities, online marketing, and now mobile, the pattern of business development strongly suggests that it will follow the type of medium most used by people. Smart Insight reported that mobile marketing will be vital in the success of marketing and demand generation campaigns for businesses this year.
However, there are a lot of factors to consider if you want your mobile demand generation campaigns to be more effective. Start by building mobile user personas necessary for your campaigns.
But first, what is Mobile User Persona?
Mobile user personas are essentially your ideal target market classified in different personalities depending on how they use their mobile devices, the type of mobile devices, how they consume content via their gadgets and a slew of other factors. It basically provides sales and marketing with ways to identify customer motivations, habits, personalities, expectations, and goals.
Building such personas will allow you to create strategies based on the mobile habits of your ideal customers, which can lead you closer to reaching your goal/s.
How to create mobile user personas quickly?
Building personas for your mobile demand generation and prospecting isn’t really different from defining your target market. The only difference is that you are » Continue Reading.
For the Third Consecutive Year, Richardson has been Named to Selling Power’s 2015 Top Sales Training Companies List
Philadelphia, PA—July 20, 2015 — Richardson, a leading global sales training and effectiveness company, announced that it has been included on Selling Power’s 2015 list of the Top Sales Training Companies for the third consecutive year. The Selling Power Top 20 Sales Training Companies list identifies leading companies that excel in helping sales leaders improve the performance of their sales teams. Selling Power editors say that the firms included on the 2015 Top Sales Training Companies list have “demonstrated an excellent awareness of the skills and tools required to succeed and remain competitive in today’s selling environment.”
According to Selling Power magazine publisher and founder Gerhard Gschwandtner, sales training is a vital component of a high-performance sales organization. “Great salespeople require the right toolset, the right skillset, and the right mindset to win,” he said. “A great, consultative sales training initiative can address all three areas. Sales leaders should use this list of the Top 20 Sales Training Companies to find the solution that best suits their needs.”
“We are very thankful and honored to be recognized once again as one of the top sales training companies in the industry,” says Jim Brodo, SVP of Marketing at Richardson. “Richardson’s success is a direct outcome of working with some of today’s most innovative clients and by the excellence and » Continue Reading.
5 Key Elements for Rolling out a Global Sales Training Initiative
I am an American who has lived outside the US for 27 years. I’ve worked in 42 countries, lived in the Far East for eight years, in Europe for the last 19 years, and am now based in the UK. At Richardson, Europe Limited, I am a consultant, facilitator, trainer, and coach. I work with European firms, FTSE 100 global companies, and many, many foreign subsidiaries of US companies around world.
A Global Sales Training Program Can Be Challenging, but it’s Worth It!
Global companies often have global customers, which creates certain global expectations. While customers desire customization on the local level, they require consistency across countries. Often, customers negotiate a global agreement so that they can have similar terms around the world, regardless of their volume in different countries — and they expect supplier representatives in all countries to understand the agreement and to know how to support local differences in applying the agreement.
The challenge is that the people who develop the sales relationship and service the account in one country are not the same people who do the same job in other countries. As a result, unless they’ve all been trained the same way, the sales experience for customers of a global supplier will be all over the map.
The need for a consistent sales process across domestic and foreign subsidiaries is clear. To achieve this, global companies need to implement a global sales training program that brings the same skills, methodology, and process to those who work with or support customers around the world.
Equally true is the need for consistency in companies that are expanding their geographic reach to find new business. Often, these growth-oriented companies want their customer experience in new countries to be based on the same best practices developed where the headquarters is located. This means replicating these practices across » Continue Reading.
How do you get the most out of your CRM for Sales Forecasting?
If you were an early adopter of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology, you probably found it to be an expensive, complex tool that often fell short of delivering on expectations. Today, CRM is easier to use, more cost effective, and a must-have for managing nearly every aspect of business data.
Now that you either have or are probably considering a CRM system, how do you get the most out of it? Here are five tips for leveraging your CRM for sales forecasting to gain greater confidence in sales forecast accuracy:
Can micro-moment sales and marketing help restore balance in the playing field?
Mobile devices and 24/7 access to information have certainly changed the way business is conducted. Case in point: More than half of all searches on www.Richardson.com are done on mobile devices, the numbers rising to 52% from 19% in less than a year.
In a B2C world, such a dramatic and rapid shift would make more sense, driven by on-the-go searches by consumers looking for restaurants or best product prices. But for a B2B company like Richardson? It’s hard to imagine someone waiting in line for a latte to suddenly tap her iPhone and say, “Siri, I need to implement a sales training transformation for my 5,000 global sales reps — which providers should I call?”
The Real Moneyball: The Importance of Analytics to Improve Sales Forecast Accuracy
The term “moneyball” is best known for applying an analytical approach to evaluating players on the baseball field, as written about by Michael Lewis in his book of the same name. The concept of moneyball can also apply to the field of sales, where analytics are used to improve sales forecast accuracy.
In my role as Director of Sales Operations at Richardson, I manage support functions that are essential to sales force productivity. When I took on this role in 2012, my primary goal was to improve sales forecast accuracy by providing insights into performance trends, identifying gaps, and recommending ways to fill those gaps.
To do this, I had to develop meaningful reports that would highlight trends and key deals, while assisting the sales team in managing the pipeline. These reports also had to give senior management the detail and visibility needed for decision making on additional strategies and whether to become personally involved in specific opportunities.
To me, there are two key aspects of sales forecasting. One is the analytics of deals in the pipeline. I use these metrics as a pressure test to qualify the risk of the forecast. This is important because, at the end of the day, if senior leadership is making decisions about investments, incentives, or promotional programs on the basis of information that I’m providing, I need to make » Continue Reading.
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 Sales Forecasting Techniques to Improve
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 Two of » 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 negotiations 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.