Category Archives: Six Critical Skills
But, Did Your Follow-up Ruin the Deal?
As CEO of Richardson, I head an organization focused on helping other organizations improve their sales execution. And, as a CEO, I am continually the target of prospecting calls and e-mails by sales professionals who base their approach solely on my position.
In my two previous posts — So, You Want to Sell to the C-suite? and So, You Got in to See the CEO. — I shared reflections on what works and what doesn’t. Now, I want to talk about the sales dialogue itself and follow-up.
Gaining access to the C-suite is not an invitation to launch into a soliloquy where you talk entirely about yourself and your organization. You’re there to start a relationship, and what goes a long way in building relationships is making the prospect feel truly heard. In our time-tested and proven Richardson consultative selling methodology-speak, listening is one of the Six Critical Skills in selling. Simply put, listening is the ability to concentrate on meaning, and when listening at the highest level, you are fully engaged and fostering effective sales dialogue.
As a proponent of the importance of listening in the sales process, I expect sellers to focus on what I say and to be attentive. If you’ve gotten my time, don’t miss the chance to actively listen to the information I am providing you. Too often, I am surprised by » Continue Reading.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Build 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 build 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 upon » Continue Reading.
Why Consultative Selling Fosters Trust
In my last blog post, I focused on why Consultative Selling is still relevant. Today, I am going to look at why using a consultative selling approach can foster trust.
A Consultative Selling approach comes to life in the dialogue between the seller and the client with use of the Six Critical Skills: Presence, Relating, Questioning, Listening, Positioning, and Checking.
These skills give sellers the ability to navigate the dialogue in the moment by connecting with clients and gaining and keeping their openness and willingness to engage in productive dialogue.
Being consultative helps sellers accomplish two important things:
They gain needed information to deeply understand client needs, identify the right solution, and tailor what they say about products to ensure relevance and impact, and By maintaining their focus on and connection with the client, they create a positive buying experience for the client that fosters an ongoing relationship and trust.
By using the Six Critical Skills in a consultative dialogue, sellers can make sure the client feels heard, respected, understood, helped, and genuinely cared for. Just as important is what the client does not experience: a true consultative approach means the client never feels manipulated. Thus, trust has a place to sow its seeds and grow. So, the outcome of a truly consultative approach is a closer relationship and trust.
Six Critical Skills for Successful Sales Conversations
Fundamental communication and persuasion skills that flex as needed during a sales conversation
There are numerous factors and variables that go into a sale or selling situation. Many of those are beyond the sales rep’s control or influence, but the one aspect that is absolutely in the rep’s control and can make or break the sale is the conversation.