Sales Excellence: How to Close Anything and Everything in Any Vertical

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

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I was listening to CNN on Satellite Radio and in between rants about the immigration ban, protests, the federal judge who issued a stay, and Trump's first week's worth of executive orders, an advertisement came on promoting How to Close Anything and Everything, no matter what you sell and who you sell it to.  And to make their offer even more enticing - it's being offered for free!  Did you hear it?  It wasn't a promotion for my company...

Closing is awfully important. Nothing happens until the business gets closed.  But most people don't know the real truth about closing.

I am going to share the real truth about closing and it's quite different from what you've read, what you've listened to, what you've watched, and probably from what you've practiced.  Countless books, tapes, videos and podcasts have been devoted to closing techniques.  Thousands of companies deliver seminars and training programs to help salespeople develop their closing skills.  They're all wrong and they have all wasted your time.

I have written 1,600 articles and not once have I shared the closing secret that I am about to share in this article.

Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated and assessed over one million salespeople.  If we review the 21 Sales Core Competencies, zoom in on the 10 Tactical Selling Competencies, and then filter the results to show average scores for elite salespeople - only the top 7% - you will see this:

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Top 7% of All Salespeople

Notice that the best salespeople in the world possess fewer than half of the attributes of the Closer competency - it's their second worst score next to Social Selling (isn't that ironic?).

If closing is so important, then how come the world's best salespeople don't have very good closing skills?

The top 7% have closing skills that are twice as good as the general sales population who average only 23% of the attributes of the Closer competency. 

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All Salespeople

But this isn't about contrast. I told you that I want to share the truth about closing.

The average scores for elite salespeople are very good for Hunting, Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Presenting and Sales Process.  

If you start with an effective sales process and follow it, keep your pipeline filled through consistent hunting, use an effective consultative approach, and thoroughly qualify, the business will simply close and most of the time, you will be the one who wins it.

However, if you don't have an effective, predictive sales process, don't take a consultative approach and don't thoroughly qualify, then the pressure will be on you to be a great closer.  And even if you are a great closer, most of the time, it still won't be enough to get the business.

Some of the companies that have asked me to help were winning an incredibly small percentage of business.  Most of them believed they needed training to improve their salespeople's closing skills when the reality was that they were not executing the milestones and competencies that precede closing.

Winning business is not brain surgery, but developing the skills to execute an effective process, be a consultative seller and qualify effectively takes time and a lot of practice.

Great salespeople do this.  Great sales trainers know how to teach this.  Great sales managers know how to coach to this.  Nike said it best.  Just do it.  

It's not a secret anymore.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Closing Skills, Closing Sales, closing excellence

It's Coming Sooner Than You Think - 5 Keys to Prepare Your Sales Force for the Recession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 @ 06:03 AM

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You remember the last recession - the great recession - right?  I remember that in November of 2008, the business stopped coming in as if someone had turned off the faucet.  Bam!  We lost a third of our revenue overnight - and we were prepared for it!  I predicted the last recession as early as September of 2006 with this article and in the summer of 2008 with this article.

In my business, I can see two trends ahead of others and I began seeing both of those factors begin to kick in last month.  Do you know what  they are?

The first is sales candidates.  For about two years, there has been a very significant shortage of great candidates.  But that began to change last month, when in the areas where it has been most difficult to find good sales candidates and sales management candidates, we are now beginning to see more of them express their interest.  Why?  Things are not looking all that rosy where they are working and they are out ahead of the curve looking to make a change.

The second is spending freezes.  We are starting to see the larger companies put all unnecessary spending on hold - they are hoarding cash again - and when that happens, the economy stops growing, begins to shrink and bam - we are in a recession.

I sure hope I'm wrong, but the signs tell me I'm right.  So what does this mean for you?  These are the top 5 things you must do right now:

  1. You had better sell your ass off while you can because we just might have another 2-3 year dry spell.  It's not a coincidence that by the time the 2008 election took place, we were deep into it.  And what's coming up at the end of 2016?  Right.  And with the way the election is shaping up, our choices might not be the ones that we had envisioned.  If things continue the way they are heading, the choice will be the guy who is bad for business or the guy who is bad at being presidential.  (Just an observation, not a political stance!)
  2. You must be better at differentiating, selling consultatively, selling value, qualifying and closing than ever before.  On the line are the opportunities sitting in your pipeline today.  If you fail to get them closed because you skipped a step or two, or you accepted a put-off, you might not get that business closed until 2019!
  3. Prospect like never before.  Get every possible new opportunity into your pipeline while prospects are still willing to meet with you, talk with you and share with you.  Then see #2.  The window won't be open for very long.
  4. Salespeople who do OK when things are good, tend not to do so well when things take a turn for the worse.  If you have any salespeople that suck when it comes to getting people to spend money when they don't want to, then now is the time to get them trained.  Do not put this off.  Training for reasons like these is not  a nice to have, it can mean the difference between killing it in a recession and being killed.
  5. Coaching!!  Sales leaders must become masters at coaching - now - because the one thing that can make a difference is constant, effective, non-stop, coaching.  Impact every opportunity.  Grow every salesperson.  The timing is perfect as my top-rated annual Sales Leadership Intensive is coming up in May.  Attend this comprehensive two-day coaching extravaganza and you should be able to coach your salespeople through a recession.

Get ready because here it comes!

Topics: sales pipeline, Closing Sales, sales effectiveness, long sales cycle, sales win rates, recession of 2016

Why This is Still a Great Selling Sales Book After 10 Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 @ 09:01 AM

 

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I continue to be amazed at the staying power of my 2005 book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.  3 publishers have contacted me this year about writing a 10th Anniversary Edition, a revised and updated edition, or a follow-up.  Yesterday, Pete Caputa, VP at Hubspot, wrote a really great article about the 3 sales books that are must-reads for salespeople, why, and Baseline Selling was one of the three.

I was speaking to a group of CEO's in NYC yesterday and when they wanted to know about Sales Process, Solution Selling, Value Selling and The Challenger Sale, the easiest way to explain both was to show the visual of the Baseline Selling sales process and show them how it all fit together.  So it got me thinking.  While other books come and quickly go, why has Baseline Selling continued to sell, resonate, help, fit and make sense, even as selling as a profession continues to experience dramatic changes?

After giving it some thought, I came up with the following things that differentiate Baseline Selling from all other books:

  • It is a complete sales process that can be customized to fit any business, role, vertical, service or product.  It has stages, milestones and steps.
  • It is also a complete methodology.  It has a well-defined approach, a dialog or conversation, that helps salespeople move from stage to stage and milestone to milestone
  • It has plenty of examples, stories and sample dialog.
  • It identifies and explains how to manage and overcome deficiencies in Sales DNA - weaknesses that interfere with successful selling.
  • It is very easy to follow, memorable and easy to apply.
  • It is a fast and fun read.
  • If you like baseball, it's even more fun to read.
  • It stresses fundamentals and as a result does not lend itself to becoming obsolete.
  • It pays tribute to the authors of historically time-tested and effective strategies and tactics and builds on them for the 21st century.
  • It was written based on my experiences with companies from more than 200 industries, has examples from many industries and, as a result, it has a much wider appeal than most books on selling.
  • Most readers found that laying out the sales process over the baseball diamond and using the base paths as stages was quite helpful.
  • Some mentioned that they found the rich bibliography of other sales books very helpful.

The book is rated 5 stars on Amazon and this morning the paperback ranked 8th in Sales.

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And the Kindle edition is ranked 14th in Negotiating (I know - don't ask.)

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And this is after 10 years! You can read the reviews there.  In addition to the reviews on Amazon, 23 experts added their reviews on BaselineSelling.com.  All those people can't be wrong after all these years...

While we're talking books, you can also get a free copy of my eBook, 63 Powerful Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, Closing Sales, top sales books

Increase Sales by 20% - Guide to Creating an Effective Sales Process

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 13:09 PM

Earlier this week I received this inquiry form from our "Ask a Sales Expert" page:

I am currently conducting a Research Project at school on the 5 step sales process. i am focusing on: (1) prospecting, (2) the initial appointment, (3) the presentation of the product, (4) the followup of objections or changes to offer (5) the close of sale. I am researching which one of the above steps is off greatest consequence/ importance to a company and why? I was wondering if you could please help me? Thank you.

Someone from my team always responds to these inquiries and it was my turn.  I want to share the correspondence, but it's even more important to read the accompanying explanation, interpretation, warning and lesson.  If I can help you to understand this and get your sales process correct, the data suggests that there is a corresponding 20% increase to sales!

I’m happy to help you.

Where did you find those 5 steps?  They’re not the right steps and they are not in the right sequence.  It sounds like the steps are around 40 years old!

You might find these articles helpful as you do your research – feel free to reach out again if you need any help.

I received this reply from him:

Thank you.

A salesperson that i work with gave me those 5 steps. But i do agree with you becasue (Sic) i have struggled to find these steps in that order or just those 5 steps by themselves.  I was wondering whether you could give your opinion on those five steps becasue (Sic) unfortunately i have already started my research? Be glad to take your advice.

 

I wrote:

The most important step is missing! It can be called many things but the names that are tossed around most often are discovery and needs analysis.

 

He responded back to me with:

Thank you again for responding.  I understand what you are saying now.  Sorry to be annoying, but would you be able outline the steps that you believe i should be researching? Also explain what the discovery and needs analysis is!

I replied with:

Did you read those articles?  You’re supposed to be doing research…

His final response was:

Thank you for your help!

There is an important reason that I shared this with you today.  Not only is this a great example of laziness and incompetence, but like the salesperson who shared the 5 steps, nearly every salesperson and executive believes that they possess and follow a sales process.  In the White Paper, The Modern Science Behind Sales Force Excellence, 70% of executives claim that their companies have a sales process.  My issue with that information is that in both instances we are talking claims, not science.  If we look at the actual science, we know for certain that despite all that has been written, as well as the opinions collected in surveys, 91% of the nearly 1 million salespeople evaluated and assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG) are not following a formal and/or effective process.  There may actually be a process, but it's either not being enforced or it's not very effective as constituted.  There is a huge difference between the existence of a process, whether or not the process is effective, and whether or not the process is being consistently followed by all!

I can also share this.  Whenever Kurlan & Associates hosts its Sales Leadership Intensive, all of the participants claim at the outset that they have a sales process that they are happy with.  After spending two days with us, they admit that what they thought was a sales process, was useless, ineffective, and ill-conceived.  And they certainly have a process when they leave!  The same phenomenon occurs with clients.  They all have a sales process until we evaluate their sales force and report that few of their salespeople are following it or using it effectively.  They are shocked!  And when we work with them to redesign, customize, optimize and introduce a sales process that will work for their company they admit that what they had was nothing more than several of the wrong milestones.

There is a huge misunderstanding when it comes to sales process.  It's a lot like electrical work.  Everyone needs it, but they think that because they know how to change a light bulb they don't need to call an electrician.  Getting your sales process right is a lot more like needing electricity in the middle of a stone wall with no nearby source to tap into.  For you?  Impossible.  For an electrician?  It's all in a day's work.

How do you make your sales process better?

I can share what I do with my clients...

First, I collect all of their steps, milestones and to-do's.  These vary - a LOT - from client to client depending on how many they have identified on their own, how complex their sale and the markets they sell to.

Next we divide the sales process into 4-6 stages and place each of their existing steps, milestones and to-do's into the most appropriate stage.  Stages can be as simple as Suspect, Prospect, Qualified Opportunity and Closable Opportunity.

Then, we identify all of the steps and milestones that are missing from their process.  When we get to this point, most clients are missing anywhere from 6-15 important milestones!

Next we need to optimize by identifying the proper sequence.  This is a VERY CRUCIAL step because the sales process must build upon itself!  

Then we identify ideal time lines for each stage of the sales process.  

We weight the most crucial milestones in order to calculate the likelihood of closing.  The accuracy of your sales forecasts is in direct proportion to nailing the proper weighting!

Then we enter the sales process, time lines, weights and underlying rules into a spreadsheet that an integrator can use to customize a CRM application.  We also map the 4 stages and steps onto a Baseball Diamond so that we can introduce it to a sales force visually and they can understand the flow.

Finally, we spend about a year training the salespeople to achieve sales velocity which occurs when we achieve consistency relative to:

  • The process flows naturally
  • Salespeople are having the right kinds of conversations relative to the step and stage of the process
  • Meetings and calls are conversational
  • Opportunities are constantly in forward motion
  • Each salesperson understands exactly where they are in the process
  • Salespeople are investing the appropriate amount of time on only the most relevant opportunities
  • Sales process is embedded in the sales culture
  • All coaching is in the context of where a salesperson is relative to the sales process
  • Pipeline reviews are in the context of the stage of an opportunity and the likelihood of closing.

Do you remember the 5 steps that the student researcher wanted to me to help with?  They were essentially:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Initial appointment
  3. Presentation
  4. Handling Objections
  5. Close

If were were to place those 5 steps into a 4 stage process, prospecting would not be a single step but would actually be 2 steps in the 1st stage including Conversation, Meeting Scheduled.  

Initial appointment would be a step in the 2nd stage where there are at least 5 important steps missing.  Presentation and Close are both milestones that occur in the last stage of the process.  There are at least 8 missing steps for the 3rd stage of the process and many more throughout the rest of the process.  Handling Objections is not and never should be a step.  It's part of the ongoing conversation that makes up the entire sales process!

Do you still think you have a viable and effective sales process?

We have a free tool that you can use to check out and score your sales process Give the Sales Process Grader a try!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Closing Sales, steps in a sales process, improve win rates

Apply Jack Reacher to a Modern Sales Approach

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 @ 16:06 PM

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I'm a big fan of the Jack Reacher thrillers and movies. Perhaps you've seen one of them...

While reading Lee Child's newest Reacher book, "Personal", I saw a huge connection between how the Jack Reacher character survives and succeeds on all of his highs: high-risk, high-stakes, high anxiety missions; and how a successful salesperson survives and succeeds in the sales equivalent of a Jack Reacher story.

One of Reacher's trademark expressions is, "Expect the best but prepare for the worst." That is very consistent with what I have always taught, "Be eternally optimistic about your outcome, but completely skeptical of everything you hear along the way." I believe that regardless of which expression or quote resonates the best, that mindset is essential for surviving and succeeding in sales. Without it, roadblocks, hurdles, surprises, and disappearing acts will knock you off your game as surely as white sticks to rice. That mindset provides a bonus gift too - it will prevent you from ever developing happy ears!

Another of Reacher's trademark expressions is, "The fastest thinker wins." This speaks not only to strategy, but tactics as well. It's not enough to "Let me see what I can do and get back to you tomorrow." You need to be quick on your feet, adapt as your environment changes, respond as your prospect challenges you, and demonstrate your agility on the fly.

Finally, as scary as some selling situations are for some salespeople, as intimidating as some prospects can be, as difficult as some prospects act, and as tough as some of the competition is, selling is not life or death. Although with the way that some salespeople respond to it, you might think it is. You don't need a deadly weapon - just your eyes, ears and mouth as ammunition. Add a modern, predictive and reliable milestone-centric sales process, a modern methodology, and a never-ending supply of questions, patience for listening, and the ability to carry on a conversation with your prospect that nobody else has ever had.

In the end, no matter how bad it seems, no matter how hopeless the circumstances, regardless of the position you are in, with these two expressions and your ammunition having your back, success is not a matter of if, but when.

Reacher is coaching a young CIA agent throughout the new book. I'll be hosting my annual Sales Leadership Intensive - absolutely our top event of the year - on August 27-28 in the Boston area. Check it out and join us for the finest training available on mastering the art of sales coaching.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, handling objections, great sales management training, complex sale, jack reacher

Closing Sales, Process, Hauntings, Training & More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

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Photo Credit: Psychic Library

Today I will explore the least-read articles I have ever written.  That's right.  The least read.  It's very fashionable - and a best practice - to continue promoting the most-read, most-liked, most-favorited, most-shared, most-tweeted and most-commented articles; but I don't think anyone has gathered up their worst work and said, "Look at this!"  It's actually not my worst writing.  It's all every bit as good, and in some cases, better than my best articles.  Sometimes crappy articles spread like wildfire and the good stuff comes out on a day when people aren't paying attention.  So here are the 10 best articles I ever wrote that hardly anyone noticed.

Closing Sales - The Fine Line Between Patience and Pressure  August 2007

The Impact of Sales Training  October 2006

Great Sales Opportunities That Don't Close March 2010

Salespeople - Can Their Work Ethic Be as Good as BB King's?  March 2007

How to be Memorable - Things to Do When You are Selling Yourself  August 2009

What Do Sales Managers Do with Their Time?  May 2007

My Sales Process, Strategies and Tactics in Your Voice  October 2010

But I'm a Sales Guy! The Story of Motivation and Compensation June 2007

Top 14 Requirements to Perform a Sales Force Makeover April 2009 

Hauntings and Salespeople  November 2006

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales motivation, Sales Tactics, Closing Sales, sales compensation, sales opportunities, bb king, how to be memorable, time management for sales managers, sales methodologies

Bad Guys - How We Lost This Deal

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 13:02 PM

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Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Lost deals, as well as sales calls and sales meetings that go south, make up a huge portion of our coaching calls with clients and their salespeople.  After all, everyone can learn a lot more from what went wrong than they can from what went right.  We also coach clients and their salespeople on how to win the deals that are currently in the later stages of their pipelines.  They tend to be overly optimistic, so for a dose of reality, we always ask about what could possibly go wrong.  They rarely know what could go wrong, so we help them out and introduce them to a long list of possibilities.

Today, Murphy's Law made a rare appearance at our company.  My favorite law from Murphy is, "Beauty is only skin deep. Ugly goes straight to the bone." Unfortunately, that wasn't the law that appeared.  Of course, it was, "If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong."  Here's what happened...Last week, we received a verbal go ahead from the CEO of a company and a formal agreement was to be signed today.  There didn't seem to be anything that could derail this deal and in addition, they had tremendous urgency to get started.  They knew they needed help and in my opinion, things were even worse than what they thought.

Last week, they were very excited about what we could do to help and couldn't wait to get started.  We were talking with both the Chairman and the CEO, so we couldn't have gone any higher in the company.  We are uniquely qualified to provide the very specific help that they required in both the short and long term and there was terrific alignment on both sides of the table.

Blindsided

Today, we learned that they were going with another company due to the relationships that two of their outside investors had with the competitor.

Wait a minute...what outside investors?  Isn't the chairman the outside investor?

How did we miss that?  

In an action adventure novel, there is never only one bad guy trying to kill the hero; there are always at least two!  And the mastermind never sends just one team of bad guys, he always sends a backup team just in case his first team fails.  

Remember this!!  It doesn't matter whether we are talking about bad guys or outside investors.  There are always at least two!!

It turns out that there are more than two more outside investors.  Would knowing that last week have changed anything?  Maybe.  We could have asked if the outside investors would have input.  We could have asked to include them in the conversation.  We could have asked if they knew anybody in our business.  We could have asked what would happen if they wanted to work with someone they had personal experience with.  We could have sold them on working with us.  We could have done more than we did.

The Lesson

In professional sales, there is a qualified opportunity and then there is thoroughly qualified opportunity.  On the opportunity in question, we substituted qualified for thoroughly qualified.  It does not help to know that our version of qualified is still at least 10 times more qualified than what the typical salesperson calls qualified.  Does-not-matter-one-bit.  If you miss something, whether or not you should have known about it, you still missed it.  If something catches you by surprise after the fact, you still missed it.  If a new competitor, a new stakeholder, a new issue, a new budget, or even a new time line comes up at the 12th hour, you still missed it.

It's our job to know everything.  We failed because we didn't do our job.

There is yet another way to lose a deal and that's by losing control of your emotions.  Read this article on the Hubspot Blog for more.

Join me for one of the following free presentations coming up in the next couple of weeks:

February 19 at Noon Eastern: How to Hire Your Next Salesperson presented by TAB.

February 26 at 11 AM Eastern: The Magic Behind OMG's Legendary Sales Candidate Assessments presented by Objective Management Group

March 5 at 9 AM Eastern: The Power of Sales Process and Pipeline Management/CRM presented by Membrain and Kurlan & Associates

Finally, the latest issue of Top Sales World Magazine is available today.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales qualification, reaching decision makers, lost sale, lost deal, outside investors

The Next 'Can't Miss' Game Changer for Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 09, 2015 @ 14:01 PM

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Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Another game changer?  After so many in the last 5 years?  It's coming - no doubt about it.  I'll give you the background and tell you why this incredible tool will be the one to supercharge your sales.

Today, Social Selling (like blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter and others) is all the rage.  Experts are evangelizing these tools, touting their power to connect, and providing training on how to best use them.  And they're all correct about these tools.  Every seller should be using them, but therein lies the problem.

Soon, every seller will be using them!

Would you like to start blogging?  Good luck finding your audience from among the more than 2 million articles that were posted - not in the last 5 years, not last year, not last month, not this month to date - but more than 2 million posts today alone!  It's a very difficult time to start blogging.

Would you like to start sharing articles, asking questions, and commenting on LinkedIn or Twitter?  How will your tweets, comments and shares be noticed above the noise from all of the salespeople who have begun to do that?

Would you like to host webinars, or send a weekly or monthly newsletter?  How will you get people to read those when they are routinely barraged with hundreds of useless emails each day?

Would you like to have your own YouTube channel?  There are 4 billion YouTube views per day - that's a lot of people watching videos, but how can you possibly get their attention when there are millions of YouTube channels for them to watch?

Yes, friends, Social Selling certainly works - and can work well - for the people who already have well-established audiences and followings.  I'm fortunate enough to have an award-winning Blog with a nice loyal readership and get lots of organic traffic from Google searches.  A late start in any Social Selling channel may cause you to become very discouraged.

But there is hope!

I know of a tool that works better than everything I have mentioned so far.  While it doesn't have the power to reach as many people in as short a time as Social Selling, or as I prefer to call it, Personal Marketing, it is much more effective for targeting and reaching specific prospects.  Not only that, the communication is in real time, with no latency, lagging, or delayed response times.  Doesn't that bode well for having a real, rather than digital, conversation?

Even better, if you are an early, rather than late, adopter of this game-changing approach, you'll be one of the only salespeople using it, and unlike Personal Marketing, there won't be any noise!

Are you ready?

As has been the case for the better part of the past 30 years, I am way ahead of the curve on this.  Would you like to know about it?

I have become aware of a tool that allows you to reach any prospect, anywhere, at any time, without even knowing their email address, twitter handle, or public LinkedIn page!  There is no limit to the number of characters, length of message, or size of content.  Your prospect can respond to you as easily as you can reach out to them and the technology is readily available to anyone who wants to avail themselves of it.  And the best news?  It's covered by nearly all of your existing subscriptions and fees.  Doesn't that sound awesome?

It gets better.  Email, InMail and Twitter messages don't always convey how you wanted to sound and can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted.  Not so with this technology.  

Introducing the Tool of the Future

Today, I would like to be the first to introduce you to the sales tool of the future.  A Direct Line of Communication to any prospect in the world.

You may have seen this tool before, but you may have to use it in a way that is different from how it was intended.  Today, most people use these devices to send text messages, tweets, emails and upload photos and videos.  But if you poke around enough, you will find that manufacturers actually included a nicely hidden feature that allows you to punch in about 10 digits and you can actually speak - LIVE - to anyone - anywhere - on demand.  It is SO COOL!  And the device will remember those numbers so that you don't have to punch them all in again.  Amazing.

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Copyright:  123RF Stock Photo

Free Demo!

And for a limited time, I can provide you with a demo of how this works.

Go to your device, find the application called PHONE, and tap the following 10 digits in the field provided:  800-221-6337.  Press the green button.  You will hear a sound to indicate that you have initiated an attempt to reach me.  There is a very good chance that a live person from Objective Management Group will answer your very first ping.  I'm going to provide you with a promo code that will give you direct access to me.  When they answer, say, "Dave Kurlan, please" and the live person will actually reroute your ping directly to me!  And if I'm speaking live with someone else at that moment, I have a digital clone that will answer and you can tell my clone exactly what you wanted to tell me, leave any kind of message you want, and I can actually listen to it later and return your ping.  It's truly amazing, friends, and will revolutionize the way selling takes place in the future.

I'll bet that you're thinking that this entire article is a joke - that I wrote it with tongue-in-cheek.  Wrong.  I am dead serious.  Do you know how many phone calls I received today?  One.  Nobody uses the phone anymore and that's what makes the phone such a perfect and obvious choice for building your pipeline and accelerating sales growth.  Web-based tools are awesome for marketing and generating interest, but most of us have to sell!  And trust me when I tell you this:

It is a lot easier and much more powerful to sell on the phone, via video conference and face-to-face than it is hiding behind your computer screen.

Please take advantage of my limited time offer to demo this new technology.  Try it for yourself!  Call me now - 800-221-6337 ext 212.  Remember the promo code: Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales tips, social selling, lead generation, game changer

Key Sales Strategies for December

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 07:12 AM

snowmen

Copyright mreco99 / 123RF Stock Photo

It's hard to believe that it's December already.  It seems like only yesterday that I made my annual reposting of one of my most popular articles of all time - a terrific holiday article that is worth a read even if you read it each of the previous 4 Decembers.

Top 3 Lessons from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker

Does that resonate for you in December?  All year long?  Every day?

So let's discuss December sales strategies.  What can you do to assure that December (a short month with only 17 business days) as well as the 4th quarter and the year finish - all have a strong finish?

You won't like my answer at all, but it's the truth.  

Not. Much.  

About the only thing you can do in December that will benefit the month of December, the quarter and the year is to make sure that the truly closable, qualified, and forecasted opportunities actually close.  If you pull out all the stops, but do it with opportunities that are not truly closable (in December), you run the risk of alienating your prospects.  This is where it is so important to know the difference between what you consider closable, and what your prospects consider closable.  How do you know?  At some point, they told you that you will get this done in December and you have a meeting or call scheduled to do just that.  If that hasn't occurred, then in all likelihood, you are guessing that you can close these opportunities in December.

Some companies need to spend their money this month or they risk losing it.  Do you know which of your opportunities are in that situation?  Those companies will buy from somebody this month - do you know whether or not it will be from you?  Again, you would know because you would have learned that as you qualified them, not because you have a good feeling about it - a guess by any other name.

There are some things that you can do this month, that will have a tremendous impact....on next year....

Most salespeople spend their December days trying to close deals, sending cards, delivering wine, chocolate, fruit baskets, nuts, pretzels and special gifts.  While important, minimal time should be devoted to those things.  Instead, salespeople should be filling their pipelines, scheduling January meetings, and assuring that the 1st quarter of next year is strong.

How can you get prospects on the phone in December?  This is a great month to use a service like ConnectAndSell, which provides up to 8x the conversations that reps get by dialing on their own.  Instead of wasting all of their time dialing and not connecting with anyone, salespeople actually spend their entire calling session speaking with their prospects.  It's very efficient, powerful and useful!  And when you find out how helpful it is in December, you'll want to use it year-round for pipeline building.  Whether it's inside or outside salespeople that do the calling, maximizing your call time in December will be the one thing that will guarantee a strong start to next year.  

There is also an emotional component to December.  Many of us will be on well-earned breaks, staycations, vacations and trips between Christmas and New Years.  There are four possible outcomes for December: 

  1. You closed the forecasted business and built a strong pipeline for next year.
  2. You closed the forecasted business, but failed to build a strong pipeline for next year.
  3. You failed to close the forecasted business, but built a strong pipeline for next year.
  4. You failed to close the forecasted business and failed to build a strong pipeline for next year.

The outomce you end the year with will determine your mental state for not only your time off, but for when you return.   How would you like to be feeling?  Would you like to kick back and relax during your vacation or sulk around, beating yourself up for blowing it?  How would you like to feel when you return on January 2?  Do you want to be energized or still feeling the effects of screwing it up in December?

Close what you can close today, but your emphasis in December must be on building for the near future.

Top performing companies have higher win rates, shorter sales cycles and stronger revenue growth.  Learn what they do differently by downloading my newest White Paper, The Modern Science Behind Sales Force Excellence.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, Closing Sales, accurate sales forecast

Why Prospects Don't Buy From You Today!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 14:10 PM

world Series 2014

Did you watch any of the 2014 World Series?

I watched a few pitches of Game 6 and I'm a baseball guy!  Why so little?  I was watching Jake Peavy give it his all, trying to hold things together, and thought to myself, "Why am I watching this?  I don't care about either of these two teams.  I'm not engaged."  I'm guessing that if you're not a Giants or Royals fan, you may not have seen too much of this World Series either.  I do plan to watch Game 7 - as long as it keeps me engaged.

Engagement.  There is a huge connection between what I experienced with the World Series, and what prospects experience with salespeople.  If you can understand and apply this analogy it will make a huge difference in the quality of your calls and meetings.  Here are the four most important things for you to know.

Think back to the last time you were a prospect - for something - anything.  Other than a shiny new car or your next home, were you excited?  Really excited?  Were you anxious to talk with a salesperson about long distance or VoiP, insurance, payroll, shipping, a new machine, software, office furniture, computers, legal and accounting, landscaping, seal-coating your driveway, a fence, an industry-specific tool or device, anything?

No, of course not.

So, it stands to reason that your prospects aren't all that excited about meeting with you or your salespeople either.  That helps to explain all of the cancellations and postponements that so many salespeople experience!  The prospects will meet if they have to - if they need to - but not because they are simply interested.  Even that is interesting.  You know they need to meet, but they aren't admitting that.  So, you ask why they wanted to meet and they explain that they are "investigating other options, exploring what's available, or curious about your capabilities."  But, if you know that they are meeting with you because they need what you have, you can push back.  You can say, "Most people are too busy to meet with me unless there is something they were really hoping I could help with.  In your case, what would that be?"

Making this situation a bit more challenging is that salespeople get really excited about talking to, meeting with and presenting to their new prospects.  The reality is that there is a huge lack of alignment in the levels of excitement between salespeople and prospects.  So, how can you get them as excited as you are about discussing and showing them what you have?

It's not easy, but you can do this if you can help them solve a business problem.  At the same time, that's the exact mistake that so many salespeople are making.  They start by trying to demonstrate that they can solve a business problem.   I know.  I sound like I'm contradicting myself even though I'm not.  What I'm saying is, you can't demonstrate your ability to solve their business problem until they have admitted that they have a business problem!  This can't occur until after they have:

  • Told you about the issues that contribute to their business problem,
  • Told you about the business, personal, emotional and financial impact or consequences of their business problem,
  • Quantified the cost of this problem if it's left unresolved, and
  • Expressed their desire to accept your help.

You still need to qualify them.

My favorite Qualification Articles are: 

Top 5 Reasons Why Salespeople Don't Qualify Effectively

Top 10 Reasons Salespeople Struggle to Get Decisions

Top 10 Criteria for a Qualified Sales Presentation

Then, and only then, is it appropriate to demonstrate how you can solve their business problem.  Then, they will be as excited as you are.  Then, they will be ready to buy.  Then, they will take action.

How can you make the transition from demonstrating your product, to demonstrating your ability to solve a business problem, to doing that only after having learned about their desire to get your help?

I'll be honest with you.  It's not easy.  It involves learning to master the art of Consultative Selling, and specifically, how to listen and ask follow-up questions the right way.  For most salespeople, that takes 8 months of training from someone who actually knows what they're doing.  And not many sales trainers and coaches have the ability to teach this the right way.  It is a very elite group!

Prospects will get as excited as you when you learn how to get them excited - not by doing demos and presentations, but by asking enough good, tough, timely questions to learn about them and their business issues.  Then you'll know they are saying, "Wow, she really gets it.  I want to work with her!"

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling tips, Closing Sales, sales presentation, sales qualifying, Jake Peavy, 2014 World Series

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years.  Dave's Blog earned a Bronze Medal in 2016 and this article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016. Read more about Dave.

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