Tag Archives: sales process

Glue X 2…?

Selling is a process, not a one-time event, and it is best to adopt the proper long-term perspective if we’d like to achieve long-term success.

Using the sample circular visual below as a guide, there are two important yet often over-looked fundamentals to consider:

  1. The selling process never ends; once we meet a prospect and go through the cycle once, our goal is to maintain an appropriate contact frequency based on a number of need-based variables, and to both retain the customer and identify a new need at some future point
  2. The ability to move at an optimal pace from one step to the next and to do so in unison with our customers is the key to success

Once we adopt the proper long-term view, the means by which we will move from step to step is follow-up. In fact, we often refer to effective follow-up as the “glue” that keeps the process together and moving forward. If we follow-up diligently, on a value-added basis and with the right frequency, we’ll be able to keep the process (and the customer) moving toward our ultimate goal.

But be advised! If we move too slowly, we run the risk of losing-out to a competitor or to shifting priorities; if we move too quickly, or skip steps, we’re likely to alienate or lose the customer.

Therefore it is imperative that we maintain a keen awareness of the process steps, establish goals for each, continually seek customer feedback, and master the art of value-added follow-up.

You can review a detailed summary of the activities and goals associated with each step on our website.

glueIn addition, and as noted in an earlier post, others have used the “GLUE” analogy with respect to managing customer relationships, and have suggested it is an acronym for Give Little Unexpected Extras!

Please note, these little “extras” need not be material in nature – the simple act of “thinking” of someone and sending or giving them information or recognition can go a long way…

Who’s In Charge of Our Sales Calls?

sellwithconfidenceWe all strive to take control of the sales calls we make, hoping to comfortably lead each conversation to a productive conclusion i.e., closing or advancing the sale.

But many sales people struggle to articulate exactly how they go about controlling their sales calls, often confessing that they more-or-less go with the flow.

If this sounds familiar, you might consider making a more strategic approach to taking charge during sales calls by applying two simple principles:

  1. Ask more questions. Consider that the person asking the questions tends to be the one in control of most conversations. This can be challenging for some of us because we tend to talk too much! But, truth be told, we’re better-off asking questions and listening before we speak.
  2. Commit to the practice of pre-call planning, and do so in writing! Be sure to identify multiple objectives, list benefit statements you’ll make and, to support the suggestion made in item #1, make a list of the questions you’ll ask. Make sure to include both open-ended and closed-ended options, which can be used strategically to either promote or control the flow of conversation.

Those who have been able to apply these two simple suggestions have consistently reported significant changes (for the better!) in their sales calls, indicating not only improvements in maintaining control but also in optimizing results.

But more significantly, we’re not the only ones who will notice the difference in the quality of our sales calls our customers and prospects will notice the difference too!

 

“Send Me a Quote?”

salesadvancecontinueWhile in more transactional selling models success is most often determined on a “sale or no-sale” basis, more complex selling processes involve more steps and, therefore, take more time to complete. These facts can also make it more difficult to determine the degree to which each sales call within these multi-faceted sales processes has, in fact, been successful.

With this in mind, author Neil Rackham, creator of SPIN selling, has identified two important measures of success for more complex selling situations. And like all metrics, it is important for us to be honest in assessing our success, or lack thereof, after each sales call!

The two outcomes are:

  1. Advance
  2. Continue

The simple difference between these two outcomes is  defined by the level of commitment gained by the seller.

“Send me a quote…” – Success or Failure?
Any action that the buyer agrees to take which moves the seller closer to completing the sale is termed an advance and constitutes a successful outcome.

The outcome of a call that does not reach agreement on action that moves the sale forward is termed a continuation and considered unsuccessful. For example, a buyer’s request for a proposal or quote is not an advance unless the buyer also agrees to take some action – i.e., agreeing to meet or schedule a call so the seller can present the quote.

It’s crucial to set realistic call objectives that make advances possible, Rackham explains. His research also shows that the early introduction, qualifying and assessment stages are the most crucial in more intricate selling situations or processes. This is in contrast to the more old-school belief that closing is the most important step.

So, if your  sales effort is of the “more involved” variety, it’s important to be diligent in the earlier steps of the process and to obtain the right commitment at the end of each sales call. As noted in previous posts, maintaining a key awareness with respect to logical or ideal next steps is a good way to help us “advance” the sales process rather than simply continue it.

 

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…

 

Sales Process Waste?

ChasingWasteOutOfSales2Based on research from Conway Management Company, the largest waste (or opportunity for improvement) in most commercial and industrial organizations is the lost gross margin that results from lost sales, sub-optimal pricing, excessive costs, and unnecessary costs in the sales and marketing processes.

Some of the most important processes in need of improvement include the process of selecting target markets, identifying prospects, connecting with those prospects, identifying needs, presenting the right solutions, closing sales, and retaining customers.

All of these can be systematically studied and dramatically improved.

We developed Chasing The Waste Out Of Sales to help every organization  create a high performing culture that produces increased sales dollars.

The book explains tools and techniques that will make real differences in your bottom line.  It’s the first and only book available to teach those in customer-oriented and management positions how to:

  • Collect and analyze key data
  • Share the information on a macro level
  • Study and improve processes
  • Make the changes in your organization that count

Read more…

An Important Way to Grow Your Business: Don’t Lose Any!

BusinessDevelopmentPlan copyOver the past several years the most frequently-downloaded resource from our web site has been a sample annualized business development planning tool.

Do you have such a plan?

If not, please read on… (and please, download the free sample guide!) because having such a plan can make the difference between success and failure, or possibly between a good year and a great one!

First let’s define the terms. An annualized plan is simply a schedule of which activities will be done and at what time. Plotting this information by month allows you to take advantage of any seasonal opportunities, and also to determine overall time and cost commitments. Business development is a multi-faceted practice that keeps your business moving ahead. It consists of various components, including:

  • Promoting your organization to develop a presence in your marketplace
  • Identifying new business opportunities with known and unknown prospects
  • Generating new business from prospects
  • Generating new or incremental business from clients
  • Business retention

A close review of this list reveals three very important facts. First is the fact that our customers and clients are also prospects for new or incremental business.

Second, there is a big difference between “identifying” business opportunities and “generating” them. While the former might, at times, be easier to accomplish, both activities are essential. Successful business development, therefore, requires a combination of marketing and selling skills; and if we don’t maintain a pipeline of new opportunities, our business is likely to shrink – quickly!

The third key fact, simply stated, is “one easy way to grow your business is to not lose any business!” Customer retention is an important element of every business development plan, because any lost business must be made-up if we are to achieve our overall goal.

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