Category Archives: selling value

Sales Call Frequency – How Often is Too Often?

customerservice2People often ask, “How many sales calls can we make on a prospect before going over the line?”

Here are a few guidelines…

First, consider the following facts, which we shared last year in a related article – studies show that approximately 80% of those involved in business development approach prospects two or three times and then give up.

Now, consider the importance of these National Sales Executive Association stats regarding the importance of following up:

  • 2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
  • 3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
  • 10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
  • 80% of sales are made after the 5th contact

Next, consider the fact that sheer “frequency” does not guarantee success. Each contact must be “value-added” in order to properly impact our target prospects. This requires research, planning and good communication (probing and listening) skills. In addition, if we make better calls (i.e., better quality), then we will accomplish more during each call and won’t need to make as many calls to each prospect!

Considering this information simultaneously, the best answer to the call frequency question is that we “cross the line” when our calls have no value for the prospect or customer.

What is the One Thing Your Organization Has That No One Else Has?

glueWe frequently ask sales teams to answer this simple question:

“What’s the one thing your company has that none of your competitors have, nor would they claim to have?”

At first people rack-their-brains to identify that illusive feature… “Ease of use!” or “Simple integration!” or “Exceptional support!” or “An extra whatever…”

But these answers are not correct… because competitors most likely have, or at least claim to have the same things.

The correct answer is always the same… YOU are the one thing that is truly unique… the one thing that can not ever be duplicated by anyone!

Our competitors will all claim to have similar or better things to offer; they will talk about “high quality products, excellent technical support, the latest technology, great customer service, return on investment, on-time delivery, guarantees, the best of the best…, and so on, and so on.”

In one of his daily sales tips, author Jack Falvey states, “If you’re part of the sale, there’s no such thing as a commodity!”

He goes on to explain that our product or service becomes a commodity purchase only if we declare it so; because if we are part of every sale, our product or service is automatically differentiated and becomes unique (and worth paying a premium for!).

So the real question is, what can YOU add to every transaction… to every proposal or quote?

Whatever it is, it does NOT need to be tangible. We’re not suggesting an extra discount or a “throw-in.” Rather, what can YOU add that is truly unique?

  • Better analysis?
  • Better advice?
  • Convenience?
  • Superior buying experience?
  • Honest interest?
  • Faster turnaround?
  • An extra set of eyes?
  • A conversation with a support expert?
  • A referral to solve an unrelated problem or satisfy a different need?
  • Preparation of documents…?

Obviously the answers will vary depending upon your buyer’s needs, interests and priorities . But if we consistently probe to determine what “little extra” they might value and make sure it is part of our value proposition, we will then differentiate ourselves and our offer from all others.

What’s Your Story?

story3In a past post we shared some simple yet powerful insight on the power of storytelling. Among other things, stories are much more memorable when compared to selling presentations or lectures, and they often inspire others to take action!

During the selling process, the ideal times to incorporate a story are when trying to reinforce the value proposition or when addressing a concern or objection. Stories area also an excellent way to engage an audience when making presentations.

But it is also important for sales professionals and sales leaders to recognize that a poorly-told story can have the opposite effect!

Here are six guidelines for crafting and telling the most compelling stories when engaged in selling or making a presentation:

  1. Start with a character your audience can relate to. Make your ideal customer the hero of your story.
  2. Set the stage. One quality of a bad story or storyteller is the feeling that you being subjected to pointless rambling.
  3. Establish conflict. You can’t have an interesting story without conflict.
  4. Foreshadow.  Foreshadowing is a simple technique of hinting at what is to come, thus building suspense and value.
  5. Use dialog. Stories are about people, and people talk. This can enable us to vary tone and “voice” during presentations as well.
  6. Keep it interactive. Use receptivity tests or rhetorical questions to keep the audience engaged.

Read the full article…

The Order of Things…

readyfireaimDoing things in the proper sequence is often critically-important.

For example, in mathematics we have the standard order of operations. If we’re to reach the right solution our calculations must be performed in the right sequence, which is “Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, and then Addition and Subtraction.” A common technique for remembering this sequence is the phrase “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”

Similarly, a good chef will tell you that the key to success when following a recipe is to not only add the right quantity of the right ingredients, but also to do so at the right time.

And as depicted in the image above, if we fail to aim before we fire, we are likely to miss our target!

So… there is an order of things.

And this “order of things” certainly applies to the selling process. Consider this simple but not-always-easy sequence, which helps sales professionals establish personal value, engage their customers, and shorten selling cycles:

  • Sell yourself
  • Sell the company
  • Then sell products and services

Read the full article…

 

“Foreshadow” to Build Value During Sales Calls

fortune_cookie_message2In a recent post we referenced the cardinal selling-sin of making premature presentations during sales calls.

These “premature” presentations sound like old-fashioned sales pitches that are based more on “what we offer” rather than “what you’ll get.”  In other words, they are feature-rich and benefits-poor.

Good Intentions / Bad Results
In many instances, a sales person’s good intentions can lead to a premature presentation. This happens when a buyer’s need or problem surfaces and the seller “rushes” to the rescue by immediately offering a solution.

Despite the good intention, the result is usually bad because the sales person has not taken the time to establish the true value that might well be associated with the solution.  Yet the urge to satisfy the buyer is strong, and can be tough to resist…

A better course of action is to use the technique of “foreshadowing,” which allows the seller to provide some instant satisfaction to the buyer while still holding-off on going too far before confirming that the solution will be the right one and also confirming the buyer’s receptivity level.

A simple method of foreshadowing would involve the sales person saying something like, “Wow! Based on what you’ve just told me I think you’ll really like our solution… but before I tell you about it, can you tell me a little more about the impact of this problem…?”

This approach is truly win-win, as both parties are able to recognize that something good is coming (something of value!), but the seller is still able to probe further into the situation before presenting the solution in full. This enables the seller to uncover or confirm the implications of the need, to measure the buyer’s initial reaction, and hopefully, to quantify the benefits and value that the soon-to-be-explained solution will provide.

If all goes well, the result will be a happy buyer as well as a happy seller!