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May 23, 2016

Sales Tips: On the Job Training for New Sales Teams

On the job sales trainingWe recently had a comment on the blog from someone who had been employed to lead a team of young people with no formal sales training or experience.

Productivity was poor on the sales calls and we were asked for advice on how to get the team up and running.

Here are our thoughts:

I seem to recall a statistic that stated that 73% of companies believe their most valuable learning approaches are informal, yet only 30% of resources are focused there.  How accurate that is I am not sure but I would certainly agree that informal on-the-job sales training can sometimes suffer from a lack of focus and structure.

Here is our advice on how to develop on-the-job training that will lead to the most likelihood for success:

  1. Focus on product/service knowledge first to make sure the new team know what they are talking about and can answer questions comprehensively.  Nothing undermines credibility more than waffling or not answering a questions directly because you aren’t sure of the answer.  Also ensure that the benefits of the product/service are clear to the new salesperson.  It is natural to focus on features but remember no-one buys a drill because they want a drill … they buy it because they want a hole!
  2. Products/service knowledge can be embedded through some shadowing with experienced sales people, and some observation of sales calls.  This also helps the new hires to get a sense of how to handle themselves with the customers
  3. If possible, get them into a smaller part of the sales process quickly, for instance prospecting, so that when they move into the whole process it is less daunting.  Gradually build up their involvement as they develop their sales skills and understand the process
  4. If possible start on the easy sells.  Early quick sales will build confidence and also give new hires the chance to find their feet in building relationships with the customer
  5. Assign someone more experienced to take them under their wing and show them the ropes.  The first 90 days are crucial for someone new to sales, and unless you can help them to feel comfortable and supported they may well become discouraged and leave.  The company has invested time and money into them so this is the last thing you want to happen.  Ask the more experienced salesperson to keep an open dialogue with them so that they have someone to come to with questions or concerns.
  6. Share success stories across the team as these are a great way for new hires to learn on the job, and they also motivate the existing team.  This can be done in weekly meetings, or in just sending out a weekly email to highlight successes and share sales tips
  7. Do a weekly check-in for the induction period.  This shows the new salesperson that you care about them and you want them to succeed.  It can be as simple as a quick phone call to see how they are getting on and whether there is anything you can do to help.  But it is a powerful message that their success is important to you.
  8. If you haven’t already, start to document every part of your sales process.  For new hires retaining the amount of information needed to do the job is impossible.  If you can carefully documenting every part of your sales process such as scripts, frequently asked questions, CRM processes, etc, then they can easily look up the basic information they need (and that they may have forgotten) and it will save you having to answer the same questions over and over again.  It also means they don’t feel they are constantly asking about everything and can just seek advice for the more detailed queries
  9. Encourage your experienced sales team to contribute to the documentation too as they learn new tips and tricks on how to sell your product, to ensure new information is shared with everyone.
  10. Celebrate big successes with the whole team to create a sense of a unified team and to motivate all members.

Team having on-the-job sales trainingFollowing our tips should help to increase the chances of the new hires being brought up to speed quickly, staying with the company and going on to be successful in their sales careers.

And it should lead to increased sales too!

Do you have anything to add from your experience?  If so, please let us know by commenting below.

May 2, 2016

Sales Tip: Using Powerful Body Language

Everyone knows something about body language and how it impacts the way that people perceive us.

We all know a firm handshake is good, eye contact relays confidence and smiling makes us more likeable.

But did you know your body language has a scientifically proven impact on your own body and your emotions?

Sales Tip - use the Wonder Woman power pose for confidenceBy adopting certain postures for only 2 minutes, such as the wonder woman pose here, you can make yourself feel more powerful and confident… a very useful tip when you are preparing for a high pressure situation such as a difficult meeting or an important sales pitch.

By Changing your Body Chemistry ….
Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School Professor and social psychologist, is known for her interest in emotions, power, nonverbal behaviour, and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels.

During her research into social stimuli and hormones Amy proved that certain body postures that she calls ‘Power Poses’ can immediately change your body chemistry, which in turn changes your emotional state.

…You Change your Emotional State
Research into successful and powerful leaders has shown that as welLean forward in a meeting to project powerl as sharing similar mindsets they also have similar hormone levels.

They tend to have higher testosterone levels which are associated with power and dominance, and lower cortisol levels which indicate decreased anxiety and a better ability to deal with stress.

Levels of both of these hormones can change rapidly depending on the social, physical and environmental cues around you. If you are in a situation that makes you feel anxious or less then confident (ie. a difficult meeting or an important pitch), you can counter that by changing your body posture.  This will in turn change your testosterone and cortisol levels which will change your emotional state.

Power Posing
To increase your testosterone and reduce your cortisol Amy suggests 2 minutes in a high Power Pose.

This involves opening up your body, stretching and expanding it as much as possible. Basically you are making yourself appear bigger – think Mick Jagger strutting on stage!

Power poses help you to feel confidentIf you need to feel more confident we suggest adopting a high power pose for 2 minutes (ideally before your meeting and not whilst in it!) to help your body to create the right balance of testosterone and cortisol to help you to feel more powerful and relaxed.

If you continue to use power body language in your meeting or pitch (see the  picture at the end of this post for examples) you will positively impact how others perceive you too.

It is also useful to be aware of your posture so that you avoid ‘low power’ poses, where you are hunched or making yourself smaller (look down at your notes or slouching in your chair).

Power poses help to decrease anxietyWe drew on Amy’s research in the development of our C3 Model of Influencing, and we use her Power Posing ideas as one of the ways to boost your confidence when in a high stakes situation.

Below are some examples of high power poses with the associated low power pose underneath to avoid.

Amy’s TED talk on how your body language shapes who you are is one of the most popular talks of all time is and definitely worth the 20 minutes to watch if you haven’t seen it

Amy Cuddy's Power Poses

Apr 6, 2016

Our Favourite Quotes on Selling and Success

Sales Quotes

 

We hope you enjoy these quotes, which all speak words of truth to us.  It’s always good to have a reminder of what will keep us on track and on target – and usually it’s doing the basics right!

 

"You are your greatest asset" Tom Hopkins1. “You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort and money into training, grooming, and encouraging your greatest asset.”
Tom Hopkins – Speaker, trainer and author

 

 

2. “With confidence, you have won before you have started.”
Marcus Garvey, Political leader, publisher, journalist and entrepreneur

 

"The path to success is massive, determined action." Tony Robbins3. “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”
Tony Robbins, Speaker and author

 

 

 

4. “No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur, author, public speaker

 

5. “Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.”
Stephen Covey, Author"Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply. " Stephen Covey

 

6. “Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.”
David Frost OBE, Journalist, writer and media personality

 

7. “Quality performance starts with a positive attitude.”
Jeffrey Gitomer, Author and speaker

 

"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." Zig Ziglar

8. “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
Zig Ziglar, American author, salesman and motivational speaker

 

 

9. “My objective is not to close the sale but to open a relationship.”
Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling

 

10. “The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs… one step at a time.”"The elevator to success is out of order. You'll have to use the stairs... one step at a time." Joe Girard
Joe Girard, ‘World’s greatest salesman’

 

Now check out our other sales quotes.

Mar 14, 2016

Sales Tip: How to Resolve Customer Problems

How to resolve problems with your customersIt is a fact of life that inevitably difficulties will crop up during your business dealings with you customers.  How you deal with those difficulties is crucial for the on-going development of your business relationship.

When difficulties arise
Difficulties can include any issues that have the potential to disrupt the business relationship.  They include situations such as:

  • A late delivery to your customer
  • Having a particularly aggressive negotiation over terms
  • Mistakenly giving the customer incorrect information
  • Not following through on a commitment you make.

Whilst we do what we can to avoid these situations, when they do arise we need to address even the smallest of difficulties.  Just because something is not, on its own, enough to create a big problem it is important to know that if we ignore it or respond in a way that doesn’t truly satisfy the customer then it can then compound.  And then the next ‘small thing’ could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

How to deal with customer problemsIn our research for Brilliant Selling we found that how issues or problems were tackled was one of the things that separated Brilliant Salespeople from the rest.

The easy solution
These small individual difficulties are called ‘pinches’ and the Pinch Model describes what happens if we don’t deal with individual pinches effectively.

When we first become aware of a pinch, the temptation might be to resolve it in the quickest way possible.  For example, if we send out an incorrect invoice and our customer queries it, we may be tempted to simply correct it and send out a new one.

But this doesn’t address the wider effect of the error.  The mistake may have impacted our customer’s trust levels, or made them feel less confidence that we can take care of the detail.  They may feel less valued leading them to question other things and the quality of our relationship.

How to deal with issues that arise with customers

What we should do
When there is a pinch, even if it is only small, we must fully address the issue to prevent future issues building up and damaging the relationship by creating a ‘crunch’.

The first thing to do when we become aware of a possible pinch point is to recognise that this is something that might be really important to the customer, and then use it as a way of going back to them to:
a) let them know we are concerned and want to address the issue in the right way, and
b) use it as an opportunity to create more clarity on how we will be working together going forward to avoid similar issues occurring.  

By stating relationship expectations and ways of working in this way we continually build a stronger relationship going forward.

How to resolve customer problemsHow to do it
One thing that can hold us back from having difficult conversations is that we don’t know how to approach it and we are fearful of the possible reaction.  There is no substitute for being honest, and it is best to address the difficulties as they occur.  You can say something such as:

“I have just realised that I gave you some mis-information and because our relationship with you is important I want to put that right”, or
“As I think back to our negotiations last week I am concerned that I might have been too aggressive and I want to talk about it so that it doesn’t negatively impact our relationship”.

If you want to raise your game in building lasting customer relationships then think ‘pinch’ and ‘crunch’ each time you have a problem and use the opportunity to strengthen your relationship.

Have you had any customer experiences that you wish had gone differently?  We would love to know, please comment below.

Feb 9, 2016

What worries entrepreneurs most about selling

What worries entrepreneurs most about sellingA recent survey asking what entrepreneurs fear most about selling revealed some very common fears that I think apply or have applied to most people at some point in their careers.  The ability to sell is a skill that everyone in business needs to master, but a surprising number of entrepreneurs find it a challenge.

In the survey carried out by Business2Community.com, the top fears that were on the mind of many respondents were:
• Being seen as too pushy
• Not being able to get the prospect to see the value in their product/service
• Getting rejected because of price
• Having difficulty starting the sales conversation

Do any of those sound familiar to you?  I bet they do.  So what can you do if you are suffering from any of these fears right now?

How to sellBeing seen as too pushy
One of our favourite sayings is “very few of us like being sold to but everyone is open to influence”.  We all know when someone is trying to sell to  us, and most people find this off putting, feeling the salesperson is more interested in the sale than in meeting their particular needs.  However most of us are not aware when we are being influenced.  One useful technique is to use the concept of pace-pace-lead as a subtle way of gently initiating a sales conversation.  It involves questioning and carefully listening to understand the prospects real needs, seeing the problem from their point of view, acknowledging their problem and showing that you understand it, and then adding insight and value to illustrate how you can help them solve that problem.

Asking credible questions when sellingCommunicating product/service value
If you have asked the right questions and listened carefully, you will understand the details of the prospect’s problem and how you can truly add value.  But quite often we can be busy thinking about what we are going to say next, or how we can jump in and illustrate why they should buy from us, without taking the time to listen and build a connection with that person.  If you change your mindset away from selling and think instead about how you can help someone then you will naturally want to listen, to empathise and you will communicate the value more naturally.

Price shouldn't be an issue if you show the valueGetting rejected because of price
If you have communicated the value effectively through questioning and active listening, then you have also had an opportunity to qualify the prospect and get an idea of how likely they are to buy from you.  Remember you also need to take the time to establish your credibility, and to build up trust.  If you have done all of this then price shouldn’t be an issue. Remember that objections are really a request for more information and are an opportunity to show again the value of your product or service, so don’t be put off by them.  However, if you are rejected, take the time to think through what happened during the sales conversation and use this as an opportunity to learn and improve and perhaps try doing things slightly differently next time.

Difficulty starting conversation
If you have difficulty in starting a sales conversation then it might be that you are over-thinking things.  It’s a good idea to start by asking questions to see if that can naturally lead into a sales conversation.  If you still find it hard then consider if perhaps it might be a question of belief – that you don’t fully believe in yourself or your product/service.  If this might be the case then you can work on reminding yourself of the best work you have done, and the positive feedback you have had from customers and clients.

The ability to sell is something that we all have within us – whether you are an extrovert of introvert, you can find your authentic sales approach and what works for you.  But the fundamental fact is that you can’t build a thriving business if you can’t get people to do what you want and buy from you.  Fortunately selling is an easily learnable skill once you take the time to think about what is holding you back.

Focus on how you can add real value