by Marta Malyk | Apr 24, 2023 | Best Sales Practices, Building Relationships
As a salesperson how you manage your business can communicate volumes about how you perceive your role and the solutions you offer. Ideally, a salesperson should be perceived as having a strong conviction that they are offering something of value to clients. Also, they should be viewed as a trusted peer with your sales prospects and clients. Unfortunately, we may be communicating something very different because of the way we are managing our time and relationships. This could impact our earning potential.
As a seasoned sales professional, I’ve learned that it’s possible that a salesperson could come across as less confident about their solution than they are, and that they could be communicating in a very subtle way that they don’t see themselves as their prospects’ equal.
Let’s look at how this could happen.
Is everyone a serious prospect for you?
It’s important to recognize that not everyone will or should be your customer. The most important part of the lead qualification process is to determine if there is a need and a fit. This is an acknowledgment that not everyone needs your solution immediately and even those who have a need may not be a fit for your specific solution. When you implement a strong lead qualification process, you must take a step back and understand the value that the solution offers a prospect and assess whether the prospect is an ideal candidate for your solution. Doing this assessment with your prospect communicates that you recognize the value your solution provides, and you are not someone who works with everybody. When your prospect recognizes this, you might become more attractive to them as someone to do business with.
Are you always available?
When you connect with a new prospect are you attempting to meet with them immediately – looking for the first moment that they have available time? Or are you sharing that you have a set time each week that you have allocated to meet with new clients and proposing one of those timeslots? Seeking the first available timeslot might cast you as more “needy” than you might like. In addition, it makes sense to allow time to research your prospect before you meet. Having certain days of the week that you meet with clients suggests that your time is in demand and that you have a business process that is well-organized and thoughtful.
Are you working all the time?
We all need personal time. And with all the discussion around work-life balance, there is increasing awareness of the need for it. In fact, by placing limitations on your own time, and creating set work hours, once again, you are demonstrating that you proactively managing your business, not scrambling to meet every need. Of course, there are emergencies that we need to handle, but those should be exceptional. We all need to recharge – and that not only includes taking time for relaxation and family but for engaging in ongoing learning in our field. Placing limits on our time creates the opportunity to recharge, learn, and interact with our clients and customers when we are at our best.
In my experience, salespeople give themselves the best chance for success when they strive for these strong sales management traits.
- They realize that not everyone is their ideal customer and use a robust lead qualification process.
- They organize their time well, including when and how they meet with prospects.
- They work to balance their work activities with their non-work life.
I know that achieving this consistently can be a struggle for some of us, but there is real value in working towards this for our well-being and for how our business is perceived by others.
If you need help bringing out the best in your sales team, reach out to us at One of a Kind Sales. We love cold calling, and we understand the systems that need to be in place to do it effectively. Give us a call at 908-879-2911.
by Marta Malyk | Mar 27, 2023 | Best Sales Practices, Sales Training
I’m feeling revitalized! I just returned from the annual Sandler Sales Leadership Summit in Orlando. I’ve been a proponent and student of the Sandler Selling System for the past 10 years. Each year I have attended this particular summit. Why? Because I always come away inspired and motivated having learned something new and having interacted with many other highly motivated sales professionals.
What Impressed Me?
The “BAT” Triangle. This is a foundational Sandler concept that describes three elements required for success in any activity. BAT stands for “Behavior,” “Attitude,” and “Technique.” David Sandler believed that the most important of these is Behavior. Engaging in the right behaviors can favorably impact your Attitude, and as you use these behaviors, your Technique will improve. David Sandler said, “You cannot manage results, only behavior.”
This makes sense to me. If we focus on results and have no supportive behaviors directed at achieving those results, we end up frustrated about our performance. This brings to my mind a scenario in which a sales rep is worried about achieving her sales plan, but not making any sales calls.
At One of a Kind Sales, we see daily proof that intentional, consistent deployment of key behaviors or practices drives our results. And those results support our positive attitude (team morale). As a leader, I reinforce those behaviors with training focused on honing our technique.
And Next Year?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, ‘I’ve been doing this for my entire career, so I don’t need to go to a conference where I will hear something I’ve possibly heard before.’ But I know I will gain a different way of seeing things, reinforcement of best practices, and a strong commitment to continuing this proven approach. As a result, I will continue to attend these Sandler Leadership Summits. (I’ve already reserved my spot for next year!)
My team and I engage in weekly Sandler training sessions. The Sandler Selling System has contributed directly to our success and I believe it sets us apart from the rest. You need to invest in yourself so that you can utilize your best skills on behalf of your clients. As my team and I work with our clients, we know that we are using best-in-class approaches and we can consistently get results, even in an increasingly competitive environment.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love selling. We are experts at cold calling, in particular. If you want to discuss how we can help you and your team, please contact us at 908-879-2911.
by Marta Malyk | Mar 14, 2023 | Best Sales Practices, Cold Calling, Leadership, Sales Best Practices
Salespeople hear the word “NO” often, and that can be very demotivating. If your business depends on a sales team for growth, it’s important to ensure that the team can weather those disappointments and not lose momentum. Cold calling, in particular, is one of the most difficult aspects of sales. As an expert in cold calling, I know we will hear a lot of NOs before we hear the YES response that makes all the negative feedback worth it. In my experience, it’s critical to keep the team motivated. Here are some steps I recommend you take to keep your sales team moving towards their next win.
Develop a personal relationship. Show interest in your sales team members as individuals. Set aside time to meet with them individually, get to know them, and let them get to know you. You’ll begin to develop a deeper understanding of what motivates them.
Facilitate a “team-centered” approach. Encourage the team to share wins and losses in an environment that is non-threatening. They can learn from the successes and failures of team members, and this will make your team stronger and build trust within the team.
Be open to and seek feedback. Being on the front line, your salespeople may be the first to recognize gaps. By engaging and addressing these issues directly with your team, you demonstrate your respect for them and their important role in the business.
Set achievable goals and compensate them for what they deliver. Competitive salespeople are goal-oriented, and they will have a good sense of what is realistic versus what is not. For cold callers, the goal is to make an appointment with a qualified prospect. When that happens, they should be rewarded for it, and they should not be penalized if the appointment must be rescheduled.
Invest in your team. I’m a strong believer in ongoing training. If you value your salespeople, you should want them to have the strongest sales skills that they possibly can. This will drive excellent performance and increased sales. Investing in your salespeople with training communicates to them that you value them. This will maintain their motivation and increase their loyalty.
Cold calling is our specialty. At One of a Kind Sales, we create the plan, establish the tracking process, build the skills, and make the calls. If you need help creating an environment that supports an effective cold calling team or want to add cold calling to your sales mix, give us a call at 908.879.2911.
by Marta Malyk | Nov 22, 2022 | Advice, Best Sales Practices, Sales efficiency, Sales Tips, Sales Training
I was recently at a meeting about sales efficiency where a debate broke out about what salespeople should do when a prospect says, “I’ll think about it.” Participants were divided. Some felt that this meant that the selling process was not complete and they should continue to engage the prospect. Others strongly believed that once a prospect tells you “I’ll think about it,” they should move to the next prospect. I firmly believe you should move on.
As a professional salesperson, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with prospects over the years. Because I’m focused on my sales objective and the need to be efficient with my time, it’s critical to know when to move on. We all know that we should not rush to close a prospect. We all know that we should be looking for signs to disqualify a prospect throughout the discussion. When these signs appear early, perhaps it’s easier to recognize that the prospect is not a fit for our solution and end the discussion. But when the signs show up later, they can be more difficult to recognize, perhaps because we are more emotionally invested. But that verbal message, “I’ll think about it” is a clear red flag to me. To confirm whether it’s really time to move on, I might ask, “Is there anything else I can tell you?”, and if the prospect says “yes,” I will address the question. But if the answer is “no,” then it’s clearly time for me to move on.
Why move on? Continuing to sell to a person who is telling you that they need to think about it after you’ve had robust discussions delays you from moving to a prospect that you might be able to more readily convert. Frankly, “I’ll think about it” is really the kiss of death. Experience tells me that this prospect is not likely to make a positive decision and I would be wasting time continuing the conversation.
You may be thinking, ‘well I’ve spent all of this time getting to know this prospect and I hate to let it drop.’ But that is not what you should do. You should move the prospect into a nurturing program with a plan to revisit them at some point to see if conditions have changed.
It might be very attractive to continue discussions with someone with whom you’ve already developed a relationship in the hope that they will convert. But you really are fooling yourself. We need to be clear-eyed about what’s going on in a sales engagement. Ideally, we never ask for the sale until the time is right. At that point, if they say they still need to “think about it,” it’s time to gracefully move on.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love selling and we are experts at sales and cold calling, in particular. If you would like to discuss how we can help you and your team please contact us at 908-879-2911.
by Marta Malyk | Nov 7, 2022 | Best Sales Practices, Cold Calling, Cold Calling Success, Cold Calling Tips, Sales, Sales process, Sales Prospecting
A quiz for you:
Communicating your expertise and product knowledge to your prospect leads to a successful sale:
I came across this question in a session with a world-class expert in the Sandler selling method. This is one that can spark a lot of debate.
I’m aware that many salespeople are trained to be product experts. In fact, product or service training may be the lion’s share of the formal training that they receive from their company. Often, salespeople are coached to share their knowledge in order to establish their expertise with a prospect. This might be because the business perceives that the offering is so differentiated that once a prospect fully understands it they will jump at the opportunity. So, an encyclopedic knowledge of the offering and the ability to communicate it is often perceived as a major sales success factor for a salesperson.
However, consider the problems that could arise with this approach. What if we miss something critical because we are so busy “communicating” about our offering? When we first meet with a prospect, I believe it’s important to let the prospect communicate with us. What are their current issues? Why are they even talking to us about our offering? What problems are they trying to solve? If we move into “presentation mode” without knowing the answers to these questions, we risk losing the prospect’s attention by not addressing their core concerns. In order to get at these concerns, we need to take the time to ask the right questions and then engage in active listening so that the prospect can communicate with us and so that we can internalize what they are saying. We need a two-way conversation and, particularly early in the discussion, it’s ideal if the prospect does most of the talking. This is where we learn what we need to know in order to confirm if they are a good fit for our solution and then close the sale.
So what’s my answer to this question?
False: I’ve concluded that product knowledge and expertise aren’t enough to close the sale.
- Avoid getting into the “nuts and bolts” of a product presentation immediately with a prospect.
- Slow down and take the time to get to know prospects in order to learn what motivates them.
When you truly understand their situation, you can then start to use your understanding of your offering to highlight how your solution will make a real difference for them. In my experience, taking this approach will improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love to sell and are lifelong learners when it comes to selling. Cold calling is our specialty. If your business needs help with getting appointments with qualified prospects, give us a call at 908-879-2911.
by Marta Malyk | Oct 24, 2022 | Best Sales Practices, Closing Sales, Sales efficiency, Sales process, Sales productivity
As business owners, we all want to grow by winning new clients. But many of us find it difficult to “convert” new opportunities into paying clients. This leads to frustration.
In my 20+ years of experience as a sales professional, I’ve observed that many business owners meet prospects and then immediately move forward to “sell” without taking a pause and assessing what needs to happen next. They don’t actively manage the selling process. There are four actions you can take to help increase your sales efficiency.
Step 1—Talk to the Real Decision Maker
There is nothing more frustrating than discovering that you’ve walked through an entire sales process only to discover that your prospect needs to bring in another party who will ultimately make the decision. The step of confirming that your contact is the real decision maker is often overlooked. We get excited over the prospect of new business with a long-sought company and it’s easy to assume that our contact holds more power than they do.
Make sure you explore the company’s decision-making process with the person who is your contact. Be prepared to say you can only go so far in the process without having the ultimate decision makers involved. Your likelihood of getting to a commitment is greater when you speak directly to the decision maker(s).
Questions you can ask to move this along are:
- What is the decision-making process for services or products like mine?
- Who else will be part of the decision making?
- Are there other major stakeholders who would be involved in the decision?
Step 2—Ensure Your Solution is Relevant
It’s better to learn quickly if there is no current opportunity with a target company rather than to invest your time selling to someone who doesn’t need or value the solution you offer. Once you confirm that you have a relevant solution, take time to understand how the problem has impacted their business. This allows you to adjust your discussion to speak directly to their experiences. It may feel unnatural to not push to a close immediately upon confirming their need. But if you invest your time in this dialogue, your prospects may actually sell themselves. They are reminding themselves why they should be talking to you. And they realize that you are listening to them. This makes them more amenable to moving forward.
Ask the following questions:
- How has this problem affected your business? And for how long?
- What resources has this problem consumed? What did it cost you?
- What have you already done to address it?
Step 3—Seek Confirmation Along the Way
Throughout the discussion, make sure that you are getting mini buy-ins. Check for agreement at key points, ideally using open-ended questions. Don’t wait until the end of your presentation to ask their opinion. This way, you’ll be able to assess your prospect’s level of engagement, confirm their interest, and address potential objections as they occur. Moreover, this approach will ensure that this is a two-way conversation.
Use these prompting questions:
- How consistent is this with what you experienced?
- What are your thoughts on this?
- How does this sound to you?
Step 4—Let Your Personality Shine Through
Throughout the engagement, never forget that “people buy from other people.” Let your personality shine through! If you are staying true to steps 1 though 3, your empathy for their situation will be apparent and you’ll build credibility and trust. Ultimately, you want your prospects to feel good and look forward to working with you.
Getting to the Close
Using this approach, the natural outcome of a discussion between you and your prospect is to move to a proposal.
- You are talking to the right person.
- You know they have a problem that you can solve.
- They’ve validated for themselves that they have this need.
- They know that you have a deep understanding of their situation.
By the time you get to this point, your prospect should have reached the unavoidable conclusion that your solution is just what their business needs.
Here’s the final piece of “magic”—if you’ve taken these steps, once you are ready to close, you can simply ask, “What would you like to happen next?”
When you get your next opportunity, take a step back, consider this guidance, and see what happens.
If your business is facing sales-related challenges, please reach out to us at 908-879-2911. At One of a Kind Sales, we are experts in sales and we particularly love cold calling. We look forward to speaking with you!
This article, written by Nancy Calabrese of One of a Kind Sales, originally appeared in The Bottom Line, No. 3: 2022, the quarterly newsletter of NJAWBO, New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners.