Viewing Posts for: Kevin Smith

June 30th, 2016

Selling Techniques That Can Help You Win Renewals

Practicing Effective Selling Techniques by Avoiding Incumbency Trap

Proficiency using many different selling techniques is a desired objective. It denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. An over reliance on certain selling techniques can lead sales professionals into traps that sabotage relationships with clients. In this series of posts, I will share four -proficiency traps and how to avoid them. The first was The Technical Trap; the second, The Execution Trap; the third, “The Networking Trap; and this fourth and final trap involves the problem with incumbency mindsets.

A Good Offense can be the Best Defense in Winning Renewal Business

No matter how entrenched sales professionals become in a client organization, at some point they are likely to face competition for renewals. The trap is in taking an incumbency mindset to defend the business as-is instead of forming a fresh deal strategy that is better positioned to win.

When sellers think like incumbents, they want to defend the relationship and preserve everything the way it currently stands. They justify why they should be retained, based on factors such as their long-standing relationship, past excellent service, or the higher costs of transitioning to a competitor.

The problem with this selling technique is its defensive posture. What the situation requires — and what competitors will do — is take the offensive. As an incumbent, we should ask ourselves: What can we » Continue Reading.

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June 28th, 2016

Professional Selling Skills & The Importance of Networking

professional selling skills & networking

Your Client Network May Not be as Strong as You Think

Proficiency in sales is a desired objective for individuals interested in building their professional selling skills. It denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. Yet, certain proficiencies can lead sales professionals into traps that sabotage relationships with clients. In this series of posts, I will share four proficiency traps and how to avoid them. The first was The Technical Trap; the second, The Execution Trap; and this third involves networking within the client organization.

Your Professional Selling Skills Can Be Improved by Focusing on Constant Networking

Sales professionals are usually quite good at building a network of relationships within client organizations. The trap they fall into, however, is taking these networks for granted. They fail to track how the structure, politics, or budget priorities change over time, and they overlook relationships that should be cultivated with other influential stakeholders.

Some buyer-seller relationships have been so longstanding that sales professionals begin to feel a little too secure. They may have earned trusted advisor status with key stakeholders and built a large network of contacts at different levels. This is all good — until it isn’t.

Few, if any, client organizations are static. Change can be fast or slow; come in spurts or be ongoing. In an increasingly challenging sales environment, change is to be expected and anticipated. » Continue Reading.

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June 23rd, 2016

Building Selling Skills: Avoid Always Saying “Yes”

selling-skills-avoid-immediate-yes

When you are thinking about developing your selling skills you might focus on your ability to demonstrate execution proficiency. This sales proficiency is a desired objective for anyone who wants to improve their ability to build client relationships. The ability to execute against client requests denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. Yet, providing an immediate “yes” to all client requests can sometimes lead sales professionals into a trap that winds up sabotaging relationships with clients. In this post I explore the sales trap that involves excellent execution. To learn more about other common sales traps, check out this article on The Technical Trap.

Your Selling Skills Should Be Built on more than Execution

Sales professionals who build client relationships based on responding to their requests with outstanding performance can find themselves in an execution trap.

Consider this scenario:

You have a legacy program or solution in place, and because you have such a solid relationship with the client, he/she asks you to do something else. You are such a known entity that he/she feels comfortable making this request, and you respond by doing what is asked. What could possibly be the problem here?

The trap is that your strong client relationship gets diluted every time you immediately say yes. When you simply do what the client asks, you become just another order-taker. Instead of seeing great value in your ability to execute with excellence, » Continue Reading.

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June 20th, 2016

Build Sales Skills: Avoid Relying on Technical Expertise

build sales skills & avoid technical traps

Improve Your Sales Skills by Avoiding Over Reliance on Technical Expertise

The ability to demonstrate technical proficiency is a desired objective for anyone who wants to improve their sales skills. It denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. Yet, certain proficiencies can lead sales professionals into traps that sabotage relationships with clients. In this series of posts, I will share four sales proficiency traps and how to employ alternative sales skills to avoid them. The first trap involves an over reliance on technical expertise. To learn about other traps to avoid, check out this article about the dangers of always saying yes.

Your Sales Skills Should Be Built on more than Technical Expertise

Sales professionals who possess superior technical expertise can easily fall into the trap of making this the focal point of relationships with clients. In doing so, they tend to overlook the strategic, organizational, and personal value they could be providing.

As soon as a client need is identified, these technically savvy sellers jump straight to solutions. They talk about themselves, their company, and their expertise to solve the problem. The dialogue becomes focused on the seller, not the buyer, so the client is less engaged. The scope of the solution discussed is limited to the initial need uncovered.

Improve Your Sales Skills by Employing Strategic Dialogue

To avoid this trap, a more strategic dialogue approach can be implemented — one that frames client needs » Continue Reading.

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February 9th, 2016

Planning for Rapid Sales Growth? Make Sure to Develop Your People First

rapid-sales-growth

How are you planning for rapid sales growth?

I recently met with a prospect who shared his company’s plans for rapid sales growth. I asked about the company’s salesforce and how good the salespeople are. He replied that some are better than others, some are superstars, and some are not as productive as they could be.

I asked what the superstars are doing in meetings with customers that has led to their high success rates. The prospect couldn’t really tell me. Assumptions could be made, but there is very little direct witnessing of the superstars’ selling behaviors.

Then, I asked how the sales managers are coaching the sales professionals, which is one way to gauge the selling behaviors that managers find important for success. The answer was that their coaching styles are more directive. Sales managers are telling their people what to do in each selling situation or, when participating in customer calls, taking over the calls themselves. Their first priority is to get the deal closed, not to develop the skills and craft of their sales professionals.

I immediately sensed a disconnect. If the company is planning on fast growth and hiring more sales people, then relying on sales managers to jump on calls with sales professionals to help them close deals isn’t going to allow the company to scale up very rapidly. This means that its aggressive plans for growth aren’t likely to be sustainable.

If, instead, » Continue Reading.

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February 4th, 2016

Sales Coaching for the Moment of Truth

sales-coaching

The B2B buying process has changed considerably in recent years, thanks to digital and social technologies. But, the one constant that can open doors or shut them forever is how well the sales professional performs in the moment of human interaction with the buyer.

Because the sale is truly made in those moments in front of the prospect and in the execution of compelling customer dialogues, there is still a great need for improvement in this area among salespeople:

Only one in ten executives say that they get value from meetings with salespeople. (Forrester Research) The #1 reason salespeople miss quota is an inability to articulate value. (Sirius Decisions) Only 17% of salespeople get a second meeting with an executive. (Forrester Research)

These numbers could be significantly improved if sales leaders coached their teams to the desired behaviors necessary for engagement.

The impact of sales coaching has proven its value time and again. According to Forrester Research, in 2014, 63.2% of organizations with a formal sales coaching methodology achieved quota vs. 54.6% of organizations without coaching. Additionally, only 27% of organizations reported having a formal coaching methodology in place.

From the salesperson’s perspective, the Amabile Study (Harvard University, 2010) found that salespeople are more motivated when they make progress and grow. This speaks to the outcome of coaching, which supports the personal and professional development of those being coached.

Additionally, in 2009, the Gallup Organization reported that top » Continue Reading.

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February 2nd, 2016

How Effective Are Your Sales Professionals?

sales-professionals-increase-sales

In conversations I’ve been having lately with prospects and clients, I’ll ask how well their sales professionals are performing on the job. Their answers focus on the more tangible areas of sales performance. They might refer to lagging indicators, such as where the sales person is in relation to quota goal, revenue attainment, number of closed deals, and growth vs. the prior year. On the other hand, they might reference leading indicators, such as the number of opportunities created, value in the pipeline, or number of calls or meetings with prospects.

Even with all of these proof points, what they’re not able to evaluate very well is this simple question: How good are they? How well does each sales professional perform during those crucial moments when they’re interacting with the buyer? This kind of assessment is important because it’s really where the rubber meets the road — in those human moments of interaction.

Part of what differentiates a seller in the buyer’s mind is being able to trust the seller and knowing that the seller understands the buyer’s business and the issues that the buyer face. It is the quality of interaction, more than technical knowledge, marketing materials, or the value proposition, that creates a connection and convinces the buyer that the seller has his/her best interests in mind.

So, when I probe to find out how sellers’ sales professionals are really performing when interacting with prospects, they often don’t » Continue Reading.

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