Assess Yourself on 13 Critical Selling Activities

Sales DialYou may have read or heard of the book Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Many people don’t appreciate the difference between negotiating and selling with some thinking that selling is telling customers why they should buy, highlighting the features, benefits, and great value, whereas negotiating is the fine art of coming to an agreement on terms. I propose that selling is a process that encompasses 13 activities that drive customers to say “yes” over and over again and is much bigger than negotiating.

All sales people have limitations in their selling abilities and strengths. Even if they’re strong in most areas, they only have 24 hours in a day like everyone else. What salespeople should understand are the critical factors for selling success, self-evaluating themselves across those parameters, and finding ways to cover weaknesses within the defined boundaries of work-life balance. Those 13 critical selling activities are:

  1. Defining the competitive landscape
  2. Prospecting
  3. Qualifying leads/customers
  4. Planning calls
  5. Building relationships
  6. Identifying customer needs
  7. Presenting value
  8. Managing customers objections
  9. Negotiating
  10. Closing the sale
  11. Managing accounts
  12. Managing sales portfolio
  13. Developing a customer pipeline

Sometimes a sales coach can provide perspective and tools to organize, prioritize, and help strengthen these selling areas. Sales coaches can be a resource in brainstorming techniques in specific sales situations and markets. They can help you self-assess your impact and work as a partner toward improving skills while providing a non-biased and safe relationship. Dial in your sales success by investing in a sales coach.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business coaching. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Negotiation: What Questions Are You Asking? And Why?

questions

I’m a business, sales, and leadership coach, so I ask a lot of questions. Why? Because it’s my profession, and I get paid to ask questions. In all seriousness, I find people spend more time assuming, telling, and trying to convince as opposed to asking the right questions. You might ask, “Would you tell me more?” If so, you’re now getting the hang of it.

What do questions have to do with good negotiating? Their value is delivered in the answers, the insights and information, the other person shares that helps your negotiation strategy.

What are good questions to ask? There are different types appropriate for different stages of the negotiating process. General open-ended questions give you valuable information, because they allow the other party to express his or her opinions.

  1. What’s been your experience with…[insert product, service, supplier, etc.]?
  2. What do you think of…?
  3. How do you feel about…?

Depending on the answers, you may follow with more direct questions to pinpoint specific information such as dates, money, etc. These questions may include:

  1. Who is involved in the decision-making process?
  2. When will the decision be made?
  3. What budget range did you have for this project?

The conversation can be brought full circle when you use paraphrasing questions that help ensure agreement in your understanding.

  1. You believe you could decide by [insert date], if I provide the product specifications and price by [insert date]?
  2. You could issue a purchase order, if our price proposal was in the [insert price range]?
  3. You believe the product will work in this application, if we can get it to [insert performance criteria]?

Questions are powerful tools to help the negotiating process move forward. I’ve observed some salespeople make a pitch, pause, and wait for the customer to say something without a question even being asked.

If asking questions is not one of your refined skills or in your comfort zone, try practicing in other areas of your life and let it carry over into your work. Go to a party, introduce yourself to people you don’t know, and make a point to ask questions. Use the 80/20 rule. Use 80% of your words for asking questions and only 20% for answering someone else’s questions.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Sales Negotiation: How to Close the Deal

shaking hands 3

If you’ve read Sales Negotiation: Set Yourself Up for Success and Sales Negotiation: Action Strategies, you should have some powerful tools to successfully negotiate your next contract or purchase. However, the best negotiators don’t stop when the handshake closes the deal. They leave the other party feeling like he or she was a strong negotiator who got the best deal out of you.

Have you ever negotiated for a souvenir in a third world market and wondered whether the seller would have taken less than you paid even though you were comfortable with the price you paid? People want validation that they made a wise decision regardless of its price. It doesn’t matter whether the item was a trinket or a car. This human need drives many people to continue comparison shopping after they’ve agreed to a deal and can’t back out.

As a best-in-class negotiator, you want the other party to believe he or she struck a good deal and that you wouldn’t have settled for anything less. Why should this be a priority? You never know when you might have to negotiate with them again, and besides, it’s just the right thing to do—leaving them with peace and confidence in the outcome. Below are a few remarks you can share when you ink the deal.

  • I’m glad we could strike a deal. I have to say that you’re one of the toughest negotiators I’ve dealt with in a long time.
  • You negotiated well. I wasn’t planning on giving away so much.
  • You drove a hard bargain. I hope I don’t have to negotiate with you again.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Sales Negotiation: Set Yourself Up for Success

negotiation 1

The 80/20 rules applies to many situations and negotiation may be no exception. Sales negotiation can be thought of as a three-step process: (1) preparation, (2) engagement, and (3) deal agreement. Some people may say that 80% of negotiation success is in the preparation, which may or may not be overstated. However, it does beg the question: what are you doing to set yourself for success before going into a negotiation?

Key Negotiation Prep Factors

Although the objective of a negotiation should be to reach a win-win, it pays to be smart, and smart usually means being prepared. In my business tenure, I’ve negotiated long-term deals that were worth hundreds of millions of dollars, so I know a few things about negotiating, including some learned the hard way—through the experience of trial and error. I do believe success is heavily influenced by the degree of preparation and a few of my favorite preps include:

  1. Be prepared to walk away. The only way that most negotiators are prepared to walk away is if they know their drop-dead minimum and why it’s their drop-dead. Is it margin, risk, or some other variable? What’s the alternative value of the resources or asset utilization? Many people think they have a minimum position, but when the negotiating gets intense, the minimum usually moves to a lower position. When negotiators have thoroughly thought out their position, the minimum doesn’t move, and it becomes easier to confidently walk away.
  2. Brainstorm things to offer and concede. When entering into a negotiation, people aren’t necessarily wanting the same thing nor assigning the same priority to certain items. Knowing that a negotiation will likely mean trading off and giving positions to the other party, a savvy negotiator will make a list of things to ask for that can easily be conceded, because they don’t hold much value.
  3. Position yourself so you don’t make the first offer. The party that makes the first offer takes on more risk of leaving value on the table. Is the first offer significantly below what the other party was willing to pay? On the other hand, if the first offerer asks for too much, he could position himself out of the negotiation. Always think of a strategy and questions to ask that will get the other party to make the first offer. If asked to make the first offer, an experienced negotiator will answer with a question that puts the other into a position of offering first.

Many people are at least slightly intimidated by the negotiating process. What many don’t realize is they are negotiating daily with their coworkers, boss, family, friends, and kids. Any time you got your way, you negotiated. Negotiation is a skill and just like a muscle can be strengthened when intentionally exercised.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

See Your Revenue Increase When You Switch from Sales Training to Coaching

Sales Growth

Will 2020 be the year when companies have 20/20 vision on how to best invest in their sales team to deliver targeted performance? US-based companies spend nearly $20 billion per year on sales training. Why do they settle for traditional sales programs where 85% of the content is lost within 90 days (SRG, 2018), when strategic and tactical coaching can potentially increase revenue by 20%.

Many sales leaders don’t have the coaching skills or time to invest in their sales staff. For this reason an external sales coach can be part of the sales training solution—working with the sales leader and meeting one-on-one with account reps or in small sales groups on day 30, 60, and 90 after initial training. In most cases, sales coaching brings substantial and sustainable benefits regardless of whether formal training is part of the process.

A coach can help the sales professional with approaches to new clients and how to sell deeper with an existing accounts. A coach can also help the sales team to:

  • identify and overcome specific account obstacles
  • prioritize accounts based on risk/reward
  • create specific customer strategies
  • review and understand contributors to success
  • develop plans for improvement
  • build general sales skills in account planning, preparation, and execution
  • improve negotiating approaches
  • increase sales team cohesiveness and teamwork

More companies are realizing the value of individual coaching for their sales team. Group training can still be part of the process, but to sustain the impact of training investment it should be paired with one-on-one coaching. Coaching is the sign of the future. Are you ready to get on board and make more effective use of your training dollars?

Reference

Sales Readiness Group. (2018). Maximizing the Effectiveness of Sales Training: Five Factors for Developing Sustainable Selling Skills.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Is DISC in Your Sales Tool Kit?

discprofilewheelSalespeople are usually seeking ways to connect with customers, and some of the most strategic utilize the power of DISC. If you haven’t heard of the DISC personality profile, it’s an acronym representing four behavioral styles: dominance (D), influence (I), steadiness (S), and conscientiousness. People can be a mixture of all four but typically act out behaviors that align with one or a blend of two primary styles. Strategic salespeople leverage the power of DISC by adjusting their approach, words, presentation, and pace to the prospects’ preferred style and the role the customer plays as influencer, approver, decision-maker, or recommender.

DISC (www.discprofile.com) measures (1) the degree a person naturally prefers to be outgoing as opposed to reserved and (2) the extent to which a person is people- versus task-oriented. Although there are many exceptions, people who gravitate toward finance, accounting, and analysis are typically strong C’s. CEOs tend to be D-driven. Commonly, salespeople are strong I’s, which explains why they typically approach their clients with enthusiasm, as if they too are I’s. Strong S-people are drawn toward jobs where they can support teams such as Human Resources and Training & Development.

Salespeople should ask enough questions to determine what behavior styles each client favors. The clients’ preferences and role they play in the purchase decision should influence how the salesperson approaches the sales process. For example, “C” clients will prefer to know the facts, measure the ROI, thoroughly understand the alternatives, and focus on efficiency. They will likely ask a lot of questions and may extend the sales process until they get answers. On the other hand, a “D” client will be about action. Once D’s decide something needs to be addressed, they look to solve it and solve it fast, so they can move on to the next decision that needs to be made. Salespeople should focus on the benefits and minimize the details; otherwise, they will lose the attention of this decision-maker.

High-performing salespeople intentionally get to know the personalities and behaviors of their clients and adapt their style to match. They don’t have a one-size fits all approach. Although salespeople have a tool kit, the DISC personality assessment can be one of their most effective tools when they know how to use it.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Sales Success: Where Do You Focus First?

Zig ziglar

As a coach, I’m an advocate of always having a vision for every area of your life, whether it be marriage, career, or what you want to accomplish in the position you currently have. In my opinion, salespeople have some additional pressures, because their success is usually dependent on influencing others as opposed to working on tasks that are easily self-controlled. You could say that sales people have pressure to “close the deal” by the “close of business” which is no small task.

With so much emphasis on closing the deal, where does the salesperson spend most of his or her time, energy, and effort with a customer? A search for the best sales training would have you believe it’s anywhere but the beginning, as promotions abound for “selling with stories,” “driving to a close,” and “sales presentation training.” I’m sure there are useful insights delivered by each program, but what I believe is missing is how to take the very first step with the customer, which is the farthest point from winning the deal.

Instead of focusing on the end, I suggest the focus be on taking the first successful step with the customer. You’ll never have the opportunity to make a second first impression, and a first impression is made within the first 10 seconds. Studies show there are two questions a person will try to answer about you when they first meet you: (1) Can I trust you? and (2) Are you competent?

Maybe the best way to successfully close business is to focus on how to open business—the first conversation. I’m not referring to idle chit-chat or talking about your credentials. Forget about the weather or traffic, which are meaningless banter. I’m talking about forming a genuine connection based on finding out who you know in common or asking questions about your prospect’s background?

If you’re good with your opening, your customers will be able to answer “yes” to their two burning questions. When you earn trust and credibility, usually everything else that follows falls into place.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Are You Measuring the Right Sales Metrics?


ROIAlmost everyone has heard of, if not experienced, the 80/20 Rule, such as 20% of the employees contribute 80% of the output or 20% of the customer portfolio contributes 80% of the revenue. In the case of sales, many companies do derive the majority of their sales revenue from a handful of customers and tend to focus their efforts on satisfying the needs of those customers. In business, however, it’s not as important how much you bring in (revenue) as it is in how much you keep (profit).

Some companies have no idea who their most profitable customers are, because they don’t have the financial software, the correct cost basis, or the means of tracking all the costs to service a given customer. The largest customers are likely to be the most demanding and for good reason. They believe their status gives them the right to the best service and lowest cost a company can offer. How do these demands impact the bottom-line?

Instead of or in addition to calculating the sales revenue or even gross margin, what is the return on investment (ROI) for each client? The customer mix that applied to an initial 80/20 Rule for revenue may fall short for ROI. Better to measure and manage your strategic relationships so you know they are valuable assets.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She coaches individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

What Movie Best Describes Your Sales Team’s Performance?

Sales GraphBringing some humor to the topic, what movie best describes your sales team’s performance this past year? Does He’s Just Not That Into You characterize your primary customer relationships–those who buy from you until a better offer comes along? What about the movie Titanic? You’ve invested heavily in sales salaries, training, and tools. The sales ship has sailed, and revenue seems to have hit an iceberg and is sinking against expectations. Or is your team acting out one of the Rocky movies? With seven title releases, you may be asking, “Which one?” Is your sales team the underdog who diligently works the plan to become your customers’ major supplier, or the team who was once a sales champion and now finds itself working to reclaim that title?

Every sales team is filming its own movie. Whether the sales team will make an awarding winning film will be heavily influenced by several factors:

  • acting skill [sales people skills, experience, and competencies]
  • quality of the script [sales strategy and execution plan]
  • script appeal [quality of products and service]
  • passion of the actors [emotional engagement of the sales team]
  • director’s skill [sales leadership ability]

If all five elements of the movie are strong, you’re likely to produce a film that will draw a large audience [customers]. With the kick-off of a new year, I would encourage businesses/sales organizations to rate themselves on the above five factors using a scale of 1-10? Which area is weakest and how could you move that rating higher? What movie would you hope to have your sales organization reflect?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.