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:
- 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!
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Celebrate big successes with the whole team to create a sense of a unified team and to motivate all members.
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.
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?
By 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.
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.
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!
If 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).
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
A 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?
Being 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.
Communicating 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.
Getting 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.
Question: I’m enjoying your book, but wonder if you ever come across people who are reluctant to sell their company’s product, and who don’t necessarily believe in what they are selling? This is an issue where staff have been drafted into telesales from other areas of the business where their skills are no longer needed. Any thoughts on how to tackle this?
Answer: Not everyone who finds themselves in sales set out to be there. I would definitely class myself as an ‘accidental sales person’ in that it wasn’t something that I set out to make a career of. But what if you find yourself in a selling environment where you don’t fully believe in the product or service you are providing? Or perhaps simply don’t believe that you should be selling or that you are any good at it? What can you do in these situations to maximise your success?
I should say that it helps dramatically to believe in what you are selling and to believe in your own abilities: self-belief is at the very heart of effectiveness along with self-awareness. But there are practical steps you can and should take if you find yourself in this situation outlined above on the basis that your mind-set and beliefs impact your behaviours which will impact your results.
Firstly, you can only change that of which you are aware. You need to stop and ask yourself what do you believe about either the sales aspect of your role or about the product or service you are selling. Clearly, it is best not to sell something that you feel is unethical or which you fundamentally disagree with but there are a lot of instances where your feelings won’t be so extreme. Once you are aware consciously of exactly how you feel you can do something with it.
A key to success is not to simply try and put the belief behind you and ignore it – that will rarely work. Also, it is unlikely to help if you simply choose to tell yourself that the product or service is great. The challenge is to think about what you can believe (something that could also really be true for you) about the product or service that would be more helpful and so that you can still remain authentic.
For example, if you were selling car insurance and did not feel positive about it, you could choose to think about the fact that the insurance would give people peace of mind or help others who’s vehicle might have been damaged in a crash. If you choose to hold that more positive thought in your mind as you engage with the activity of selling it will make you more resourceful and lead to more positive results.
Another thing that can help is setting activity based goals. Set goals around the specific things you need to do (even if they are things that you don’t want to do) to make the sale (number of calls, number of conversations or meetings etc.) and give yourself a small reward when you have hit them. Often, these small things help keep you focused and motivated.
So, mind-set is critical for sales success but in those cases where a positive mind-set doesn’t come naturally, you can take conscious action that will enhance your results and your experience. As with any skill though, it takes practice…
Do you agree? Let us know your experiences, we read all of the comments.
When you are in a sales situation one of the most important things to do is to appear credible, and asking intelligent and thoughtful questions is a great way to demonstrate and build your credibility. Asking questions promotes thought in the other person – particularly if the questions you ask are open (cannot be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’) and come from a state of curiosity.
When planning your questions, think about what you can ask early on in the conversation or presentation that will cause the other person to really think. Asking a question that causes thought, directs attention or encourages the other person to question their perspective can all build your credibility, providing the question is authentic (or sincere) and not simply designed to lead the other person.
Here are some ideas on devising your questions:
- Plan your questions. By planning your questions you increase the chance of asking something that really resonates with the other person. Being curious and brainstorming possible questions with a colleague will also help.
- Ensure it is authentic. Resist asking a question simply to lead the other person to your point of view. This is often ‘obvious’ to the other person and can come across as manipulative
- Leave silence. Once you have asked a good open question, resist the urge to dive into the silence that follows (which often results in you giving the other person a multiple choice answer for them to pick!) and be comfortable with the silence. Silence is a sign that the other person is truly considering your question and giving it thought
- Using framing. Make a question ‘safe’ or prepare the other person to answer it. Framing is a technique where you give an explanation for why you are asking the question before you ask it. This gives the listener the context and reason for the question along with a little time to think making it easier for them to answer. For example, instead of asking: “what has led you to that conclusion?” in a situation where the question might be taken negatively, you could frame it as follows: “In order to understand your thinking so I can give you what you need (this is the frame), could you explain what has led you to that conclusion?”
You can find out much more about how to build your credibility in The C3 Model of Influencing™ Field Guide, available on Amazon. It teaches our simple Influence Model that will enable you to be more confident, more credible and connect more easily with your sales prospects.
Here are some quotes that ring true with us and help us to keep focused. All valuable advice – enjoy them!
1. “If you are not moving closer to what you want in sales (or in life), you probably aren’t doing enough asking” – Jack Canfield, US inspirational self-help author and success coach
2. “A setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve” – Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group
3. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” – Mary Barra, CEO at General Motors Company
4. “Everyone lives by selling something” – Robert Louis Stevenson, author
6. “People rarely buy what they need. They buy what they want” – Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur and public speaker
5. “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy” – Norman Vincent Peale, author and a progenitor of “positive thinking”
7. “Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying ‘make me feel important’. Never forget this message when working with people” – Mary Kay Ash, businesswoman and founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics
8. “Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination” – Fitzhugh Dodson, US clinical psychologist
9. “Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and win big success” – Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President
10. “Performance = Potential – Interferences” – Tim Gallwey, author
This is because we all influence in our everyday interactions, whether we are aware of it or not, and of course we often try to influence consciously in many of our business situations.
So Tom was excited to be invited recently to talk to Nick Peters, journalist and Editor of Business First magazine, on his weekly programme on Share Radio.
You can listen to the interview here.
The show, called “Shop Floor”, is all about work and the workplace in all its forms. Nick was interested in the idea of sales as a culture, not just something that someone who has the word SALES in their title does. He wanted to explore how influence can be used to empower everyone in the organisation to ‘sell’ the company every time they deal with a customer.
Tom had a great time talking to Nick about C-cubed influence, how mindset effects our ability to influence, and how C-cubed influence is having an impact in organisations around the world.
Share Radio is one of London’s newest radio stations, and you can listen to the radio interview here.
We do a lot of work with individuals in sales and business development functions. We find we are often asked by managers to ‘clone’ the highly successful individuals: to teach a group how to become like someone who is held up as an exemplar. But this is a dangerous request and in our experience it just doesn’t work.
People are individuals and trying to clone someone who is highly successful and tell others that this is how they need to be implies they need to change their personality. But influence is not something that can be easily detached from personality.
Our definition of influence is to ‘produce an effect on an individual or group by imperceptible or intangible means’. It’s about being a compelling force to produce an effect on the behaviours, actions and opinions of others. At its simplest, influencing is about putting your point of view across in a compelling way that motivates another person, or group, to take the action you desire. The root of the word influence comes from the medieval English word ‘influent’ meaning to ‘flow in’. So influence is about a flow rather than simply something you ‘do’ to someone.
In most situations that you will encounter, influencing is subtle. It takes place outside of conscious awareness and is a combination of what you communicate and how you communicate it- verbally and non-verbally. You might want them to:
- take a certain decision
- buy a product or service
- agree with and commit to a course of action
- simply to hear your point of view.
You will be using your voice, body language, and the power of language to either create a compelling message – or one that falls on deaf ears.
Whilst some people seem naturally and easily able to influence, it is a skill that can be learned by paying attention to, and developing, the right things and by putting your awareness on your current preferences in how you influence, so that you can be more flexible in how you communicate with different people.
We created our C3 Model of Influencing™ to give you the framework to do just that. What’s more, it’s based on research and has been proven to be effective in a wide variety of influencing contexts and situations.
The C3 Model of Influencing™ Field Guide is available on Amazon.
We had a good question on our TomandJerryUK facebook page recently about credibility, asking us how to judge whether a question will build your credibility or not.
Asking insightful questions is of course a great way to build your credibility, to show that you really know your subject, and also to build a connection with someone by showing you are interested.
Our advice was to avoid boring questions, or those to which you already know the answer. What we teach in our Business Development/Sales programmes is that a great question is “what is important to you about….?”. This elicits values and if you can then match these values with what you deliver then you are more likely to win the work. Shared values definitely form the basis of successful business relationships.
The example we often use is that of finally getting in front of a long-courted client for a briefing prior to submitting a proposal. Having asked the “what is important to you about” question in relation to buying training he mentioned the word ‘rigour’. So we of course ensured that we included the word ‘rigour’ a couple of times in our proposal. When we found that we had won the work we asked the client what it was that made him chose us. The reply? “You seemed to speak our language”. Whilst its not as simplistic as that, it illustrates how finding out values and responding accordingly can have an impact.
Here is a reminder of our 7 core principles to guide you in asking questions. You can find more details in our ‘Asking the RIGHT questions’ blog:
- Start with an attitude of curiosity
- Have a clear outcome for your questions
- Let the conversation flow naturally
- Use both open and closed questions
- Make your questions understandable
- Ask questions that help you to pinpoint the dominant buying motivations
- Avoid offending your buyers!
Interestingly our chapter from Brilliant Selling on Asking the Right Questions has now been included in Pearson’s (our publishers) new book “10 Brilliant Chapters from 10 Brilliant Books“.
Do you have any questions that you find work well? We would love to hear about in the Comments below.
The focus of transactional selling is finding prospects with a requirement to develop relationships, focus on features and benefits and to take orders for desired products at an acceptable price for all parties. The customers have a clear need for a ‘standard’ product or service and will be interested in sources that can provide it at the right time and at an reasonable price.
Consultative (or solution. relationship) Selling
In consultative, solution or relationship selling (all synonyms), the salesperson develops a greater understanding of the challenges faced by the customer and there is likely to be a tailored solution. Communicating features and positioning statements become less important, whilst questioning and listening becomes more important.
The actual purchase decision is often managed through a proposal, contract negotiation and solution delivery. The consultative selling approach is much more common nowadays and is most appropriate for businesses that offer a transformational product or service, such as consulting or specialised items.
To quote Neil Rackham, English writer and speaker on sales and marketing:
‘Too many salespeople are “talking brochures”, trying to show customers how their products or services are better than competitors. Salespeople must become value creators.’
Do you agree with what Neil says? You can download the comparison table Transactional vs Consultative Selling here.