The Second Most Important Sales Lesson of My Life

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 08, 2016 @ 15:09 PM

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Earlier this week I posted an article that told the story of the biggest sales lesson of my life.  I received so many emails about that article because it seemed to really resonate with my readers.  Yet, as much as it resonated, there was one question that several of them asked in their emails.  They wanted to know why we were in that tenement building in the first place.  And the answer to that question leads me to the second most important sales lesson of my life.

The year was 1974 and as a very young salesperson I assumed that I should target families that were financially secure.  After all, that cutlery I was selling was very expensive and only the well-to-do could afford it.  We were taught to sell complete sets - $175 or so back in 1974, which equates to around $675 in 2016 dollars.  Pricey knives!  This is what happened.  I called on 100 couples of means - all known to me as family, friends, relatives or acquaintances.  They all purchased from me but not one of them bought the complete set.  Almost every one of them bought a single knife.  My average sale was around $15!  Now, I certainly understand had I not been known to them they might very well have purchased nothing from me, but felt obligated to buy something, and bought the least expensive thing they could.  It's also possible that they were all frugal, believing that a single knife could do the work of 10.  And it's also possible that my sales managers knew what they were talking about when they redirected me to young couples and teenage girls that didn't have any money.  

By that point I had run out of family acquaintances and as long as I had to begin knocking on the doors of strangers, why not broke strangers?

The other big lesson I learned was around judging.

I couldn't use where they lived, the size of their homes, the cars they drove, what they earned, or how they furnished their home as a predictor of what they could or would spend.  And $5 per week for the first nice thing a young person would ever own was much more appealing to someone who had limited income, than additional nice, but seemingly unnecessary thing to someone who had plenty of income.  Targeting is important but making assumptions about who you target will get you into trouble.

Those early lessons apply today, in B2B selling, just as much as in 1974 in B2C selling.  For example, a startup, operating out of a one-room office, may have more urgency to buy a product or service than a mid market company generating $150 million annually.  To the buyers of products and services, there are three categories:

  1. No Interest
  2. Nice to Have
  3. Must Have

When companies do demos to generate interest in their products, scenarios 1 and 2 will be the most common outcomes.  That's the primary reason why sales cycles are so long and win rates are so low.  However, when the same company uses a consultative approach, uncovers their prospect's compelling reason to buy and sells value, they will often create a scenario where their product becomes a must have.  Once your product or service moves into must have territory, your prospects will find the money.

Companies with cash often won't spend it on your products or services because if it fails to be viewed as a must have, they can easily put off the joy of something that is merely nice to have when the pain of installation, training, change, and push back make the purchase undesirable.

In order to cause your prospects to believe that they must have your product or service, you must take a consultative approach.  There is simply no other way to get there.  Most salespeople don't sell that way, relying on demos, product knowledge and price to get prospects to take action.

You can train the salespeople you have and it will take the better part of a year to get them there.  It's not the easiest way to sell.  Or, you can hire salespeople who already know how to sell that way.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales lessons, sales tips

Why Salespeople Need to Negotiate and 10 Other Timely Sales Lessons

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 05, 2016 @ 12:05 PM

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Regular readers know that I have written more than 1,400 articles to help them better Understand the Sales Force.  Some of the articles won awards.  A few were stinkers.  I intended for all of them to be very helpful and I believe they are.  Over the years, some of my favorite articles were completely overlooked, getting relatively few reads compared with the most popular articles that were viewed by tens of thousands of people.

Today I wrote an article for LinkedIn that not only explains Donald Trump's rise to presumptive GOP nominee, but identifies ten, great selling lessons associated with his rise.  It doesn't matter whether you love, hate or are neutral to Trump, I invite you to read my observations and lessons and contribute to the conversation.  You can read the Trump article here.

Speaking of lessons, when salespeople miss key milestones in the sales process – and they are often missed – it leads to proposals and/or quotes that rely on guesswork instead of facts, assumptions instead of agreements, and hope instead of acceptance. When salespeople send proposals to their prospects, they hope the proposal will do the selling for them, but it causes one of four things to happen instead. An article I wrote that appears today on the Selling Power Blog identifies those missed milestones and the four things that happen instead.  You can read the Selling Power article here.  

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales lessons, time management, negotiating, sales groups on linkedin, Donald Trump, sellingpower, sales milestones

How to Find More Sales Opportunities (without Cold Calling)

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 @ 05:06 AM

The two biggest problems for most companies right now, in this economy, are delayed closings and not enough new opportunities.  I've tackled delayed closings, so today, with a little help from my friends, I'll tackle not enough new opportunities.  I mentioned in my last post that (most of) you need three times more opportunities than ever before to make up for the late stage opportunities that aren't closing right now.

Rick Roberge, The Rainmaker Maker (did you ever click the link up top to read the Rainmaker Maker Blog?) was my guest on the most recent episode of Meet the Sales Experts.  Rick has had quite the sales career and your salespeople will find this show quite helpful.

Here are some of the highlights from my interview:

Rick talked at length about several additional ways to find new opportunities but stressed that they are all supplements - not replacements - for cold calling. Among them he included:

* Blog
* Hang out where they hang out
* From people who will say nice things about you or your company
* Someone else's customers
* Orphan accounts
* Centers of Influence
* Networking

 

Speaking of Networking, Rick's shared his Secrets to Successful Networking. He said the biggest mistake salespeople make is that they do not follow up!  He said it is not part of their plan and he gave this formula for Networking Success - 2x2x48.  Listen to the show to hear what that means!

Rick discussed the lessons he learned about rejection from his early days in sales.  You see, the biggest obstacle he had to overcome was his shyness and since he still battles that problem to this day, he not only knows how to get around it, he shared it on the show.


Rick's view of successful selling boils down to this point: "It's not ever about you, your company, or the owner.  It's what your prospect needs.  Until salespeople make it all about the customer, nothing happens."

Rick also shared his Rule of Low Hanging Fruit, his Magic Sales Lesson and his concept of Clique Selling, which he learned about in B2C sales but he says still applies to B2B sales.

So while a major emphasis in sales development is to make salespeople more effective on the phone, there are other things you can have your salespeople doing to find more opportuntities today.

On the next edition of Meet the Sales Experts my guest will be Sales Development Expert Casey Coffman, CEO of The Coffman Group. Listen in on Thursday, June 25, at 1 PM ET. Click LISTEN LIVE. If you can't make it, check back after June 27th and click this link.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales lessons, improve sales, sales tips, Rick Roberge, Rainmaker, Rainmakermaker, networking

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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