3 Tweaks to Your Sales Approach Are Steps Toward Sales Greatness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 @ 06:03 AM

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Consider how frustrating it is to approach a traffic circle, or as we call them in Massachusetts, a rotary, during rush hour.  You very slowly make your way towards the circle in a long line of traffic, attempt to merge into a congested circle, travel around to the other side of the circle, and finally exit the other end.  Being a bit impatient, I'm usually screaming to myself, "Come on - don't stop! - let's get moving - let's go!"

Hold that thought.

I believe that role-playing is the single most important thing I can do with salespeople to help them to become great.  There are three kinds of role-plays:

  1. I play the salesperson's part and the salesperson plays the prospect. This is my preferred method as it demonstrates exactly what the conversation should sound like.
  2. I play the prospect and the salesperson plays the salesperson.  This approach works best when conducting pre-call strategy and usually serves to show me how ill-equipped the salesperson is to have the desired conversation.
  3. The salesperson plays the salesperson and another salesperson plays the prospect.  This type of role-play occurs later in training when the salesperson has the foundational skills to execute the sales process correctly and to play the sales part with some confidence.

When I finally reach scenario 3 with salespeople playing their own part, it seems a lot like approaching the traffic circle. Let me explain.

When there is a question they need to ask or they need to summarize what they heard, the traffic circle scenario comes to life.  They slowly approach the circle, and when they finally reach the circle, travel around it a couple of times before exiting and finishing their comments.  In other words, they talk in circles, confusing, distracting and boring their prospect.  Take a step toward greatness: Be direct and concise because less is more memorable and powerful while being less confusing and boring.

Consider how a professional baseball or golf coach may break down swing.  Take a practice swing or two, get in your stance, use the proper grip, bend at the knees, open some at the waste and shoulders, eye on the ball, smooth, extend, hold your follow through, etc.  If you want to hit the ball solidly you must do those things in that order, but you can't be saying those things to yourself as you get ready to swing or bad things will surely happen.

Hold that thought.

You may have several talking points.  You may have rehearsed or even memorized those points; what you want to say about them and the order in which you want to say them.  But if you use your talking points and sequence, your prospect will be totally bored by the logic and mind-numbing time it takes for you to go through them.  A step toward greatness: Abandon the formality and sequence and simply have a conversation.  If there is a question or comment that makes it appropriate to introduce one of those talking points, then fine, but keep it conversational and do not become presentational.

Don't you hate it when a good prospect derails your momentum by asking for references?  This is truly a combustion point in selling.  (There is a great Disney book on combustion points called Be our Guest) You don't know if the prospects really want to talk with people or are using the reference requests to get rid of you.  You don't know whether to provide references, which ones to provide, whether they'll follow up with a call, or what your customers will say to them.

Hold that thought.

Today, it's helpful to have video on your smart phone, of several happy customers that can speak to any concerns your prospects might have.  No delays.  No wondering.  On demand references and testimonials.  Take a step toward greatness:  Everyone on the sales team must record a couple of great 1-minute videos from their best and happiest customers. The videos can be shared across the sales team so that everyone has a robust library of customers who can do the selling for you.  Third-party testimonials are much more powerful than the promises of a salesperson any day of the week. 

Speaking of testimonials, many of you have read my best-selling book, Baseline Selling.  Since writing that book, I have written, shared (complimentary) and given you the opportunity to read more than 1,700 articles on sales and sales leadership right here on my Blog.  I would be most grateful if you would return the favor by writing a review of my book at Amazon.com.  

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, talking points, listening skills, sales conversation, sales presentation

5 Keys to Get Prospects to Trust You and Then Buy From You

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 27, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

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For most of 2017 those of us in the US have been inundated with political news.  That means lots of talking points (or spin) and of course talking points and selling go hand and hand, right? 

Maybe. 

While catching up with the latest news during the Thanksgiving break, I heard talking points from both sides of the political spectrum. I was very disturbed with the lack of facts in those talking points.  First we'll discuss the lack of facts and then we'll discuss how to make sure your talking points hit home with your prospects.

Last week the political topic was tax reform and hosts and their guests were obsessed with making the other side not only wrong, but depending on who was speaking, making sure we knew that those on the other side of the aisle are very bad people.

The Republicans bragged about the great tax cut for all Americans and how tax savings for companies will create jobs and economic growth.  Well, it is a cut but not that big, and not for all Americans. My companies will get tax breaks but they won't be significant enough to pay another 6-figure salary. I will pay even more in personal income tax, not less. 

The Democrats say that the middle class will pay more, corporations will be the big winners and that tax reform is nothing but a tax break for the rich because of the repeal of the estate tax.  Well, big corporations will win but when big companies win we all win.  A CEO's job is to use profits to grow the company and that means jobs and expansions.  As for the death tax, that money was already taxed, probably at one of the highest rates, so that tax was completely unfair in the first place.

Who's right?  It doesn't matter.  It's worth saying again.  It doesn't matter who is right.

The takeaway is that even one false argument discredits the entire argument.  When the Democrats say it's a tax break for the rich, who already pay 70% of the taxes, that is an out and out lie.  When Republicans say it's a huge tax break for the middle class, who live pay check to pay check, that is an out and out lie. 

It only takes one lie for people to stop listening to the bullshit. 

When Trump tweets something that is untrue, instead of being guilty of being incorrect on that one issue, it makes him a liar for all time.  When Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi make stuff up, like, "This bill will kill millions of Americans" in response to the proposed healthcare bill they disagree with, that makes them liars.  Not just about this one thing, but for all time.  What's interesting to me is that Trump supporters seem to know but don't really care when he lies while those aligned with Schumer and Pelosi seem to believe their lies.  Politics is all about whose lies attract the most support.

That brings us back to selling.

Not only must your prospects believe you and trust you for all time, but they must also give you their money and money changes everything.  They want value and if they believe you less than they believe your competitor - whether or not that's fair - your competitor will win.

Make these five changes in order to build trust and credibility:

Talking points - Eliminate your talking points!  Prospects recognize talking points as the hard sell so you are better to allow them make up their own talking points about you, your company and your products and services.  Read this for much more on why you shouldn't use talking points.

Facts - You can't be mostly true.  Selling with integrity requires you to always be truthful.  Read this for the one exception to being honest.

Testimonials - Your prospects will view your customers as authentic and believable because they already gave you their money and their story will be trusted.  Leverage your customers to talk about your honesty and integrity.  Isn't that what prospects want from a reference?  "Did Dave do what he said he would do?"  "Were the results what you expected?"  "How was Dave with your sales leaders and salespeople?"  "Did they find him helpful?"  "Would you use Dave again?"  Read this article for more on giving references.

Resistance - the single most important thing you can do when selling is to be aware of and ready to lower your prospect's resistance.  Period.  Nothing else matters if your prospect's resistance is high.  Read this article on how to manage and lower resistance.

Selling - Stop selling! Begin to have meaningful conversations that get your prospects to share their compelling reason to buy and buy from you.  Read this article for more on how to be more effective with your consultative approach to sales.

Image copyright iStock

Topics: Trust of Salespeople, credibility, Donald Trump, nancy pelosi, chuck schumer, talking points, Dave Kurlan

Why Do Salespeople Use Facts and Logic to Combat Objections?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 @ 12:10 PM

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The easy answer to the title question is that they have been trained to do that since they first arrived at sales kindergarten.  Whether talking points, bullet points, inarguable facts, competitive differences, ROI, value proposition, brand promise or cost of ownership, these words and phrases have been reinforced since day 1.

The problem is that while salespeople confidently spout off these return volleys, the only thing accomplished is to make it more difficult to sell anything.  When a prospect states an objection their resistance goes up.  When a salesperson attempts to counter the objection with logic or facts, the prospect hears the hard sell and resistance is raised some more.

Logic does not overcome objections.  So what does?

Agreement.

The first rule of dealing with resistance, even if it appears as an objection, is to lower the resistance even if it means agreeing with the objection.  For example, let's pretend that your prospect says, "Your company has a bad reputation."  Instead of arguing the fact, let's respond with, "Your right."

Watch the air get sucked out of your prospect's argument!  They will be speechless.  And their resistance will have dropped too.

Then you can say, "We had a terrible reputation.  That's why I'm here now and the person who was responsible for our bad rap is long gone and hard to find."

Don't expect your customer to ask, "Where do I sign?"  They might say, "That's good to hear."

And you should follow up with, "But in your mind, doing business with us is still carries a huge risk."

Expect them to say, "That's right" because nothing has changed - yet.

And you can ask, "Can we talk about that?"

They'll clarify their concerns and you can ask, "What if I could address  each of those concerns and mitigate your risk?"

Assuming that you hear some version of "that would be good" you can proceed to ease their concerns, one at a time, remembering that less is more.  Don't start selling.  Just make them comfortable enough so that they can buy without you getting their way.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: using facts to sell, using logic to sell, talking points, bullet points, Dave Kurlan, buy emotionally, handling objections

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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 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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