Apr 102017
 

My friend Chris texted me a picture of the The Boss Baby from the movie of the same name that is in cinemas right now. The baby’s line “… Cookies are for closers.” is a reference to Alec Baldwin’s character from the seminal ‘sales’ film Glengarry Glen Ross of course. In that film Alec Baldwin and a host of sales characters interact in a real-estate sales office as the company goes about countering slumping sales with, er, leads and, cough cough, some motivation.

Boss baby

So, need some sales inspiration? Need to find the tip of the spear of materialism? Need to laugh at the exaggerations, salesmanship, hyperbole or incredible lines? Here is a list, in order of release, for you salespeople and observers of salespeople.

These films should mostly focus on the ‘sale’ rather than are about salesperson’s lives and other endeavours, but included are films that at least delivered a good line or two.

Now don’t go watching these! Instead, get out there and sell something!!
1. Tin Men (1987)
2. Cadillac Man (1990)
3. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
4. Jerry Maguire (1996)
5. Boiler Room (2000)
6. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
7. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009)
8. Love & Other Drugs (2010)
9. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
10. Unfinished Business (2015)

Let me know what I missed.

*Things That Need To Go Away: High-pressure aggressive sales (which thankfully is as obsolete as the cathode ray tube television).

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Mar 142017
 

Unless one is dealing with an invading army (whose soldiers have eyes that emit their version of LASER no less!), being ignored is rarely a nice experience. It makes one feel unwanted, rejected and base – all the qualities that evolution has taught humans to dislike. Some may be more immune to the negative reactions that come with it than others. Most persons, however, would regardless take it badly.

Every salesperson has experienced it time and time again. The customer who does not reply. The prospect who does not follow up subsequent to a first conversation. The follow-up call that does not happen. The e-mail goes unreturned.

It is a sad reality that whether out of carelessness, a lack of class, being busy, politeness or pressures at work many sales e-mails go unreturned. It is ironic because promptly responding or a firm ‘no’ would go a long way towards saving everyone time, but alas let’s not launch into a discussion of logic and illogic here.

Instead, let’s look at what to do in such situations.

First and foremost, you have read it here before. Make you communication relevant and personalized. If you have not already then read this. Spending time researching calls and e-mails is better and more conducive to success than the alternative. It is ultimately a time-saver to invest time to look for relevant and applicable information.

Secondly, every salesperson should be frank enough to disqualify as well as qualify his or her customers and pipeline. Time and resources need to be spent on productive work and not folk who are uninterested or inattentive. This is not an invitation to rely exclusively on inbound marketing, but rather insistence to deal in reality and productivity. If you have more good leads than bad or more leads than time then you are in a good situation to execute on this advice anyway.

Thirdly, if the salesperson knows a game is being played the best advice is to not play. After all, one is not gamed if he or she is not playing. Focus should be on productive work. At the very least, one has detached himself from the negative effects of this behaviour.

With that said, here are several bullets based on my experience that will help with the response rate.

  • Be prompt. Respond right away to inbound calls, e-mails and leads. First, this in and out of itself increases one’s chances, but also if multiple follow-ups and attempts are needed the first one was the aforementioned. Importantly, per Insidesales.com, “the odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times and from 5 minutes to 10 minutes the dial to qualify odds decrease 4 times.”
  • Do leave a voice-mail. Voice-mails are likely retained whereas missed calls are not. Hearing your name and reason for call also begins the process of awareness.
  • Unanswered e-mails require follow-up. No, not of that kind. Of this kind: forward your last e-mail and keep it as short as possible. Exclude a salutation and signature and ask a simple follow-up question. The details and explanation are in the original e-mail that are being forwarded.

“Want to follow up in case this e-mail got buried.”

“What would be a good next step?”

“Is there some way to find out if this is a priority?”

That is it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Things That Need To Go Away: Sales And Customers Working Against Each Others’ Interests. Collaboration, Service and Honesty Wins.

 

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Jun 112016
 

Fear sells. We know that much.

What else sells? You might think ‘competence sells’ or ‘return on investment sells’ or ‘likability sells’ or even ‘fun sells,’ et cetra. However, the question of the day is whether insulting a customer sells? What about boring a customer? Does that sell?

Take a look at the following videos. In the first, a man who appears to have been in business a number of years (success?) utilizes something he calls G.U.T.S.* Sales Training Method or the *Great Un-Orthodox-Un-Traditional Techniques Of Selling Success to insult the customer into buying from him.

In this video, the world’s most humanlike automaton cranks out calls at rates that would put those embarrassingly useless automated dialing computers to shame. Is he.. could he… be successful?

What do you think?

*Things That Need To Go Away: Calling Lying, Half-Truths, Fudging Or intimidating ‘Sales.’

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Jun 052016
 

Does anyone need reminding that when we say a successful salesperson should have attitude, we are not taking about bad attitude. We are talking about something else.

Sales is there to align customers’ stated or latent needs with goods or services.

Here comes another pushy, rude and annoying salesperson who is doing exactly what gives the worst of the profession a bad name.

Vacuum salesman stays until 1am, leaves pile of dust

Assertiveness and persistence win. They should be coupled with the abovementioned alignment. Stunts like the one pulled by the vacuum salesperson are a black mark and unfortunately hallmark of someone who does not have a good product and is not expecting to return or repeat business.

facts

*Things That Need To Go Away: Pushy Salesperson Who Lie

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Mar 202016
 

road construction fail

It is one of the biggest challenges in the sales world. The salesperson has a process with his or her customer and the customer goes dark. AWOL. MIA. Radio silence.

What is going on?

Manners, etiquette and social politesse aside, the sum of the situation is that the selling party has received his or her answer. The customer is either not interested in moving forward or is not quite ready yet.

These pages have written about the actions that need to transpire before this point:

  • Salespersons must ask the ‘why’ question
  • Salespersons must be well acquainted with their customer (and if your prospect does not allow for it then the action speaks for itself)
  • Salespersons must interact with at least three employees at the customer’s company.
  • Customer must have demonstrated the MAN acronym, which is comprised of Money, Authority and Need (Desire).

As it turns out humans like to succumb to inertia and dislike change (ironically, hence the million and one quotations about how change is normal). The customer has decided to stick with the status quo, do nothing and let inaction prevail. So, the question really becomes ‘what does it take for you/customer to undertake a change?’ and ‘do you/your employer want to change the situation?’

Either a customer can answer the question to both parties’ satisfaction or the answer comes indirectly through conversation, questions, change action and triangulation. Do not allow your sales pipeline resemble a menagerie of company names.

In addition, it is important to track the customer’s decisions and choices online in the same manner that one listens for indirect verbal cues. Which one of your marketing activities is engaging the customers? Which e-mail campaigns elicited clicks from your customers?  Which of your web pages or assets is the customer touching and in which other websites are they engaged? That is, hopefully, your marketing team is tracking the online world for you. Are they?

*Things That Need To Go Away: Lack of Bi-Directional Communication

standby

 

 

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Mar 022016
 

You may have come across the phrase ‘sales strategy’ or ‘sales process’ on this site. Moreover, several book reviews on the website contemplate and discuss the subjects. Either way, you have seen or read about the same elsewhere.

I have come to understand that the difference between the two is not always clear however. A sales organization or department needs both complementary concepts to function or, at least, to do so well. Here are the distinctions:

Sales Strategy

  • Organizational goals and plans especially vis-a-vis customers
  • Your objective SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) analysis
  • Financial actuals and reality
  • Interaction with other departments
  • What is the internal and external story that aligns to, and addresses, your SWOT

Sales Process

  • How the sales strategy is executed
  • How do the junior and senior, inside and outside, farmers and hunters, pre, post-sales, sales professionals and their hierarchy do their job? Moreover, are roles and responsibilities clear to everyone?
  • The degree of autonomy and self-management versus scripted and regimented methodology
  • Which tools and skills are required and leveraged in the sales organization

*Things That Need To Go Away: Expectation of success without a sales strategy, process and consultation with sales.

sales process and strategy

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Jun 072012
 

What does your prospect think about? It depends on the customer’s role. Salespeople who target that position’s specific thoughts and concerns will be more successful. This is called role-based selling. For the purpose of this article I am skipping two crucial discussions. First, Assistants need to be marketed to as well. A salesperson must believe he or she deserves the executive’s time. After all, you are not wasting time, are you? Two, the approach to C-level and V-level roles needs to be personalized and stand out. More on those elsewhere as well as in future discussions. In the meantime, align your sales to the position’s objectives, while ensuring you are speaking correctly to the right ‘C’ (‘Chief’ title) or ‘V’ (‘Vice”-President title).

Peruse the below, but ultimately they need to tell you how to sell to them by telling you about their needs. This is why questions are important. This is why preparation in advance according to the below is important.

President or CEO

What? Grow and lead the company

Pains and Concerns:

  • Grow revenue
  • More profitability/declining profitability
  • Shareholder value
  • Happier and more productive employees
  • Company reputation and
  • Determining strategy and direction

Financial Managers (VP Of Finance, CFO, Controller, Treasurer)

What? Financial management

Pains and Concerns:

  • Knowing and measuring financial drivers,
  • Profitability,
  • Information and reports to manage events and conditions,
  • Reducing costs,
  • Return on investments and return on assets
  • Accounts reconciliation and forecasting (treasurer)
  • Business value (controller)
  • Shortening transaction times,
  • Line of business accountability
  • Closing books faster or consistently having them ‘closed,’
  • Ensuring consistency among territories, divisions and currencies,
  • Drive operational efficiencies,
  • Better, more consistent and more centralized reporting
  • Make better decisions faster and
  • Analyze and predict.

Human Resources Managers (VP Of Human Resources)

What? Manage the business’ people. A business’ most valuable asset is its people. Everything the company does or wishes to achieve is tied to its people’s skills and abilities.

Pains and Concerns:

  • Business and society, and employees, constantly change.
  • Doing more with the same or less,
  • Improving productivity,
  • Delivering and tracking education that is related to work,
  • Budgeting for, finding, hiring and calculating the cost and return on employees,
  • Enabling employee self-service for faster and more efficient control and removing bottlenecks and
  • Local currency and regulations.

Manufacturing Management (VP Of Manufacturing, Chief Operating Officer)

What? Producing timely goods at the lowest cost

Concerns:

  • Manufacturing on demand with the shortest possible lead time,
  • Manufacturing to order,
  • Forecasting demand,
  • Customizing and configuring to order,
  • Collaborate and communicate with supply chain including suppliers, sub-contractors and distributors including view into demand and inventory via EDI or the web,
  • Track costs,
  • Operational justification to understand where cutting cost won’t impact operations
  • Analyze efficiencies,
  • Predict inventory cycle and
  • Eliminate waste.

Sales and Marketing (VP Of Sales, VP Of Marketing, CMO)

What? Increasing sales, improving top and bottom-line and tracking to forecast

Concerns:

  • Knowing the customers,
  • Sales growth,
  • Customer satisfaction/customer turnover
  • Margin growth and maintenance,
  • Forecast accuracy and visibility,
  • Company profitability,
  • Monitoring sales channels and trend analysis,
  • New customer acquisition
  • Company image
  • Productivity of sales and marketing staff,
  • Effectiveness of marketing programs and motions,
  • Positioning products, services or people
  • Efficiency of different types of marketing (such as promotions, web, channels, viral, etc.),
  • Campaign budgets and ROI (Return On Investment),
  • Anticipating trends and consumption,
  • Lead management and visibility into each representative’s achievements and pipeline.
  • See http://www.alighaemi.com/wp/?p=846 for different types of marketing.

Information Technology (VP of IT, CTO, CIO)

What? Lead the company’s information technology

Pains and Concerns:

  • Running the company’s information technology
  • Which hardware, software and service
  • Enabling productivity
  • Interoperability among internal and external customers
  • Flexible systems that can scale up or down with the business
  • Saving the company money
  • Eliminating disparate systems

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Jun 052012
 

I firmly ‘believe’ that having belief is one of the keys to success. This is not some spiritual intangible. It is an imperative. Wayne Gretzky, a Canadian hockey player, is often quoted as saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” It is as simple as that. Believing is about doing. Time and time again when a salespersons is convinced that an effort is futile it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Successful salespeople know that when all hope is lost the worst possible thing to (not) do is to give up. One last e-mail beseeching customers, one more call exploring alternatives, one strategic question to a prospect may turn things around.

One needs belief however. The belief that something may happen. Ironically, it is the more experienced and tenured salespeople that often fall victim to a lack of belief. They internalize the mistakes, failures and objections and project them into various current situations. It should be the opposite. The more pertinent question invoking belief is ‘have I sold before?” or ‘have I interviewed for such a job successfully before?’ or ‘Did I win in a similar situation in the last year?’… then why not again?

Your believing not only determines what you do, but it also determines that you do it. Moreover, it is the duty of the management and company to give, instill and maintain that belief. Salespeople are humans. They need support as much as anybody.

 

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Jun 042012
 

People in sales and marketing might occasionally forget or possibly not be able to say what they know as succinctly as ‘fear sells,’ but unfortunately fear does sell. Think about the nightly news where the leading stories are negative items designed to instill worry, catastrophe, disaster or concern into the minds of the viewers “if it bleeds, it leads.” Think about salespeople scaring you that should you not buy X you will lose your health/pay more later/fall behind, etc.

For instance, a security alarm company will never approach homeowners with information such as “99% of houses in your area were not burglarized.” Rather, the message will go something like this: “a house down your street was burglarized. You could be next!” Cue homeowner to order security monitoring for the house.

Another related psychological imperative is the need to avoid pain. People are compelled by the need to avoid pain more instantly over seeking or finding pleasure. Think about it. Does someone want to avoid or escape a predicament first or seek a new pleasure? Pain Avoidance is a prime technique for making pressing sales and accelerating sales velocity. This instinct is inherent in our genes.

In sales the formula for success is quantifying the pain and problem and demonstrating to the customer that the solution being offered costs less than the problem it displaces.

Similarly, the sales collateral, proposals and discussions should be fashioned in the same way.

Examples (with ‘better’ prompting more urgent action than ‘good’):

  • Good: “you can sign our contract and get the product”  Better: “Get the papers out of your hair”
  • Good: “your solution will bear many years of results”  Better: “Your problems are about to disappear”
  • Good: “your promotion is likely” Better: “Your boss will immediately get off your back”
  • Good: “people will enjoy the new menu and word will spread” Better: “No more bad reviews or food poisoning”

However, and very importantly, a salesperson needs to 1- have asked about the pain 2- understood the imperatives (listening skills) 3- quantified the challenge and 4- has calculated a Return On Investment (ROI) aligned to the solution offered. As such, the above

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Nov 282011
 

Salespeople: do you know why you should undertake a task? Do you have a reason you can convey to customers that explains why doing something is beneficial? Has your sales manager explained to you the ‘why’ of what you are being asked to do or shortchanged you in the interest of simplicity and saving time and only given you the ‘what?’
Managers: Have you explained the ‘why’ to your teams? People who know why they need to do something, why they need to do it a certain way or in certain timeframe do it better as they are armed with a reason, rationale or logic. Take the time.

Asking ‘why’ also helps instill continuous improvement by questioning why something is done in a certain way and if a better process could come to be. Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story Of Success has a detailed briefing on the risks of ‘soldier mentality.’ For example, Korean Airlines’ poor safety record in the 20th Century is partly attributed to pilots, co-pilots and other personnel never questioning an order and never examining the ‘why.’ It makes for interesting reading.

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