Category Archives for "General Sales Tips"

Jan 07

7 Simple Ways To Out-Perform, Out-Manoeuvre & Out-Sell Your Competitors in 2020

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains 7 simple ways that enable you to get (and stay) well ahead of your competitors this year….. and what you need to be doing to ensure customers are coming to you, rather than going to your competition…..

Whenever I’m talking to salespeople or business owners, a question I’m often asked is ‘Andy, how can I ensure I stay ahead of my competitors?’ So here are 7 things that you can implement to ensure that you stay ahead of your competition for the rest of this year and beyond!….

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 1 – ‘Ringfence’ All Your Existing Accounts

If you want to get ahead (and stay ahead) of your competitors this year, the very first thing you need to do is ‘ringfence’ all your existing customers.  More and more companies are looking to replace lost revenue and profitability through acquiring new business – and some of the ‘new business’ your competitors are targeting will include your existing accounts!

As a lot of salespeople (and a lot of companies) have got complacent, they’ve tended to neglect existing accounts – and those are now the ones that have been taken by their competitors, or the ones most at risk.

What are your relationships like with your existing accounts?  What about the ones you haven’t spoken to for a while?  The ones you don’t get on as well with?  Would they tell you if a competitor had been in?  And if they did, would you retain the business at the same price, or would you have to ‘price match’ to keep it?…..

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 2 – Focus Your Prospecting

The quality of your prospecting will be one of the biggest factors in how successful you are (or not) this year.  As the individual salesperson is asked to do more and more, it’s VITAL that the time you spend prospecting is time well-spent.

Saleswoman Juggling Upcoming Activities & TasksThat means you knowing who is a good prospect for you.  Most people THINK that they know.  But most times they don’t.  They’ll say things like ‘anyone who needs printing’, or ‘anyone who wants a new mobile phone’, or even worse – ‘any small business’.  That’s a BIG sign that they haven’t really got a clue!

There will be certain specific criteria that make certain prospects more ideal for you than others.  If you don’t know what they are, you need to find them out – and fast!  If you’re really not sure, take a look at your existing client base.  What was it that made them purchase at the moment they did?  What was it that made them buy from you and your company, rather than going to someone else – like your biggest competitor?

Then look for ‘commonalities’ or ‘patterns’ in why (and when) they bought. That will start to give you some ideas on what you need to look for in other prospects too!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 3 – Become A ‘Valued Resource’

Some of the best salespeople I know are a ‘valued resource’ for their clients.  They’re someone whose opinion their clients respect.  They’re someone their clients turn to first to get information about purchasing decisions – either now or in the future.  They’re someone that has a high level of credibility and clients trust their opinions and advice.

Not all salespeople get to this position however!  A lot of salespeople complain that their clients ignore their ‘advice’.  That they don’t listen.  That they don’t take their calls or see them when they ‘pop in’.  What bigger signs do you want that clients don’t see you as a valued resource?

In order to be seen as a valued resource, you have to earn it.  You have to give value first.  You have to get updated on industry trends, technological advancements and understand the impact that these could have on your client’s business.  You have to be able to hold a business conversation with the level of decision makers you’re meeting.  Invest the time to do things like this, and it will pay you back tenfold!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 4 – Have A Plan For Your ‘Attack’

Plan Your Sales StrategyOne of the best ways to get ahead of the competition this year is to get some of their customers off them!  This is a great way of distracting them from their own ‘new business’ efforts (so also helps you potentially ‘defend’ your own existing customers), plus it’s a great motivational factor for you and your team when you successfully win business at your competitor’s expense!

In order to have the best chance of success, if you’re in field sales why not ‘map out’ competitors accounts in your territory?  Who they’re working with and where they are? Then create a call plan for getting into see them, and focus on winning their business.

If you’re in internal sales, make notes on the prospects that are currently using your competition, then filter the data by competitors name.  Then you can create a phone campaign designed specifically to convert their customers to your customers instead!  Experience shows that dedicated and focused approaches like those above have a far better chance of success – and also put a big ‘dent’ in your competitor’s motivation at the same time!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 5 – Increase Your Activity

Now, once you’ve targeted your prospecting, the next thing you need to do is crank up the ‘volume’.  If you’ve seen me or worked with me before, you’ll know I’m a big fan of a high level of activity – as long as that activity is good quality and is done with the right mindset of course!

One of the biggest reasons for this is that the more deals you have in your ‘pipeline’, the more you can afford to lose!  If you only have just enough in your pipeline to hit your targets (or close to), then you’re always going to be struggling as you’ll be counting on every deal converting, and it’s devastating to you when any of them ‘drop out’.

Purely by increasing your activity, you increase your chances of success – and therefore increase the amount of money you can earn.  Who wouldn’t want to do that?!!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 6 – Develop CONSISTENT Motivation

We all know that motivation is important for a salesperson.  But it’s the salesperson’s ability to be CONSISTENTLY motivated that will help them stand out from the rest, and stay ahead of their competition this year.

This is something I talk about a lot when I’m working to improve motivation levels within sales teams all over the world.  In order to be motivated on a consistent basis, the salesperson has to take charge of their own motivation, rather than waiting for other people (or other things) to motivate or de-motivate them.

They need to have compelling reasons for doing what they do.  In particular the ‘tougher’ parts of their role – like cold calling, canvassing, or the things they like doing the least!  Without a compelling reason, they’re less likely to get the results!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 7 – Sharpen Your Sales Skills

If you truly want to stay ahead of your competition this year, you’ll need to sharpen your sales skills.  This means getting up-to-date, relevant sales tips and advice from trusted sources.

If you get some internal training at your company, great!  If your company invests in bringing an external trainer or motivator to help you improve, even better!  If you’re one of those people that believes in investing in yourself (even if your company doesn’t) I take my hat off to you.

However, you don’t have to spend money to keep your sales skills updated – plenty of articles like this one are free of charge, there are various audios around that are free or low-cost, and there are plenty of seminars you can attend without spending a fortune – just make sure you put into practice what you learn, and I look forward to hearing how you’re staying ahead of your competition this year!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2020. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Jan 03

Top 10 ‘New Year Resolutions’ For Your Sales Team

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what the successful sales leaders and salespeople are implementing right now to make sure they have a great year this year!….

The New Year is always an interesting time for salespeople and sales teams. Plenty of people make New Years’ Resolutions at this time of year, and some people will have included within them ‘resolutions’ for their sales figures, their career or for their business.

I thought it would be useful therefore, to give you an idea what I’m working on with the sales leaders and salespeople I work with regularly, to help them make great sales this year – so that you can implement the same things to get great results as well!

Here are my suggestions for the Top Ten New Years’ Resolutions for your sales team……

(If you want the full article, then go to http://www.andypreston.com/contact-us/
 and request the ‘resolutions article’ – and I’ll send it to you with my compliments).

Sales Resolution No 10 – Increase Your Prospecting Activity

If your ‘goal’ or ‘outcome’ for this year is to increase your sales, or that of your team, one of the things to look at is to increase your prospecting activities.

Most salespeople tend not to have enough prospects, and therefore rely on most of their ‘deals’ coming off, in order to hit their targets. That’s a recipe for failure.

Take a look at whatever prospecting activities you’ve been doing (that have been working for you, of course) and look at how you can increase them. You might also want to increase the ‘range’ of activities as well.

Whether your prospecting activities include networking, cold calling, referrals, cold canvassing or anything else, simply upping the activity will generate better results. Once you’ve done this, it’s now time for the second step…..

Sales Resolution No 9 – ‘Filter’ Your Prospects Better

You can only do this step, when you have a lot of prospects (hence my recommendation in ‘Resolution 10’, above), so if you haven’t got enough prospects yet, go back to that step until you have!

One you have enough prospects, the next step is to ‘filter’ them. What I mean by that is to look at which prospects are better for you. So how on earth do you judge which are better than others?

If you’ve already ‘profiled’ your prospects, then you’ll already know what I mean. If you haven’t, here are some quick tips. From experience either you or your manager will have an idea which of your prospects are most likely to convert, which will do so faster than others, and which will be worth the most money.

This might be based on their industry, the level of decision maker you’re talking to (or not!), their buying motivation (you have found that out, haven’t you?) size of project, approval process and impending deadlines etc.

Based on the results of your ‘filtering’, you can now work out which prospects you need to focus on, and which ones require you to qualify them a little harder. Please note, if the thought of doing this makes you hesitant or concerned that you might ‘lose’ a prospect or two, then you probably haven’t got enough prospects in the first place – go back to Resolution 10!

Sales Resolution No 8 – Improve Your ‘Pipeline’ Control

Pretty much EVERY sales leader I speak to, wishes their salespeople were better at controlling their sales pipeline!

Most salespeople have deals in their pipeline that actually have no hope of coming off, yet they often don’t realise it! Also, when I ask salespeople to talk me though their pipeline, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re not ‘on top’ of it, they don’t know where they stand in relation to others in their deals, and often don’t have a concrete plan for bringing that piece of business in, rather than losing it to a competitor.

That needs addressing, right now! Every salesperson should be on top of their sales pipeline. They should know where they stand in relation to their competitors in every deal. They should know the buying motivation of the client, who they need to influence, and what timescales are at work as a minimum. They should also know what actions they need to take (and by when) in order to win the business, rather than lose it to a competitor.

If you’re not on top of your pipeline, it might be time to look at your qualification of prospects, or your ability to get the ‘deeper needs’ from the client earlier in the sales process. Or it could be down to your failure to ‘stand out’ from the competition right at the start of the process. Find out which one it is and do something about it, now!

Sales Resolution No 7 – Improve Your Online Prescence

For those of you that read my articles regularly, or have seen me speak at one of my events, you’ll know I’m a big fan of salespeople using online networking to win more business.

However, I say that only when it’s used in the right way! Social Media and Online Networking can be the biggest waste of time in the world when done badly, or a great contributor to your ‘new business’ activities when done well.

As you’ll know, the network I most recommend (and has proven so far to get the best return-on-effort for salespeople is LinkedIn. If you’re not on there yet, go to www.linkedin.com now! If you are, connect with me on there – and I can then give you some more tips on getting the best out of it.

As far as I’m concerned, the results I’ve seen from showing clients how to use it effectively as a sales tool have been nothing short of astounding! When I run courses on how to get the best sales results from it, delegates often see extra sales very quickly – so if you’re not on there yet, you can bet your competitors are already doing business from it.

If you’d like a copy of my article ‘The 10 Biggest Sales Mistakes Most People Make On LinkedIn’, then go to http://www.andypreston.com/contact-us/ and request the ‘linkedin article’ – and I’ll send it to you with my compliments.

Sales Resolution No 6 – Develop ‘Consistent’ Focus

When I’m working with Sales Leaders all over the world, many ask me how they can keep their sales team focused on a more consistent basis. They’re often finding that their salespeople are distracted by other things, they lose their focus and they fall into ‘habit’, of doing the same things over and over again, and don’t generate the sales results that they should.

One of the things I work on with my clients is developing a ‘monthly’ focus. It can be difficult for anyone to maintain focus on a consistent basis over a long period. By making it a ‘monthly’ focus instead, it makes it much simpler, and by changing the focus every month, it’s kept ‘fresh’ and interesting for the team.

All you have to do is make the ‘focus’ for that month relevant to the goals of the Sales Leader, or the company – and looking at what behaviour you want to encourage from within the team itself.

One of the biggest barriers to improved sales results is changing the ‘everyday’ sales behaviour of the team. They’ve got results (at some level) so far by doing what they’ve done, so many doing see the point in changing it! Or even worse – they’re resistant to changing it because they haven’t got much else apart from it!

By implementing some simple things within their EXISTING sales behaviour you can see some small changes have an impact on their sales results almost immediately. Drop me a line if you’re struggling for some ideas….

(If you’d like the 2nd part of this article, then go to http://www.andypreston.com/contact-us/ and request the ‘resolutions article’ – and I’ll send it to you with my compliments).

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..
This article is copyright Andy Preston 2011-2019. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.
Dec 11

7 Things To Do Over Xmas To Make Your ‘Next Year Sales’ GREAT!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

With the Christmas break nearly upon us, I’m finding a lot of people asking me ‘Andy, how can I use the Christmas break productively, so that I can get ahead of my competition and set myself up for great sales next year?’

If you’re one of those people that has some spare time over the break, and want to use it to help your sales figures next year, here are some ideas….

And here’s a quick tip – if you don’t have these exact figures to hand, use your ‘best guess’ – any figure to work from is better than nothing, and you can always adjust the figures later….

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 1 – Work Out Your Numbers

First of all, in order to prepare to have a great year, you need to know what ‘numbers’ you need to hit! This will either be a sales target figure (particularly if you’ve been given a sales target by your boss), or a revenue/profitability figure if you’re a business owner for example.

You also need to work out your average order value (or average profit if you’re targeted on profitability figures), and then work out how many orders you need to hit that target.

Don’t be one of those people that says ‘I don’t have an average order, my orders are all different!’ Simply take your revenue/profit total from last year and divide by number of orders.

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 2 – Anticipate Existing Customer Spend

The next stage is to look at what your existing customers have spent with you last year, and then work out what you think each account will spend next year.

For most people, this will involve a certain amount of ‘educated guesswork’, however it’s still an exercise worth doing as it will help you to understand how much business you think you can get from your exiting base next year.

Don’t fall into the trap of being overly optimistic (or overly pessimistic) – and if you really have no idea what they will spend, use last year’s spend figure if you’re in a business that gets repeat business from their customers, rather than one-off purchases.

One you have your ‘existing customer’ figure, take that from your total revenue/profit needed and move onto the next step….

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 3 – Separate Your ‘New Business’

Magnifying GlassThe figure you’re now left with (total revenue/profit, minus existing customer spend) is the figure you’ll need to achieve this year from ‘new business’.

You’ve already worked out your average order value, so now it’s time to work out your ‘average new client value’. In order to get this figure, find out how much each ‘new customer’ spent in total last year.

The figure should ‘average out’ – in other words you’ll have some clients that spent a lot, and some that spent little – perhaps because they only came on board towards the end of the year for example.

This will now tell you how many new clients you need this year to hit your targets. Again. I’m not expecting these figures to be perfectly correct – you can always adjust them to be more correct as you go along, but at least it gives you a ‘base’ to work from….

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 4 – Look At Your Activity

Now you’ve got all your overall ‘numbers’, now it’s time to break down those figures in terms of activity. You’ll know the critical numbers in your company of course, but the usual ones to look are phone call to meetings, meetings to quotes, quotes to orders etc etc.

These figures will then enable you work out how much ‘activity’ you’ll need to do in order to hit the targets that you’ve set.

Once you’ve got these figures, you’ll notice you start to feel a little more confident about hitting your targets for this year. Now it’s time for the next step…..

Andy’s Tip Number 5 – Work Out Your ‘Stretch’

The figures you’ve worked out above are based on purely ‘hitting’ the targets you’ve set. The next step is to ‘stretch’ you a little.

Once you’ve got all your figures together for the above tips, work out those figures again – but this time for 120% of your target, 150% and 200% for example.

This will give you the figures (and the activity) required to hit those 120%, 150% and 200% figures (sales managers/directors normally love this part!)

Then I’d pick one of the ‘stretch’ targets to aim for (rather than just the 100% of target). Don’t worry if it makes you feel a little uncomfortable – that’s part of the process!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 6 – Break Them Down

Now you’ve worked out how you’re going to hit 100% or more of the targets you’ve set (or you’ve been set), it now time to break those figures down.

You now want to break those yearly figures into quarterly ones, monthly ones, weekly ones and even daily ones! This will enable you to see the revenue/profitability figures you need to be aiming for – and more importantly for the salesperson – the activity you need to be doing on a daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly basis, in order to hit (and exceed) the targets you’ve set.

If you’ve done the above steps properly, you’ll now start to feel more confident about hitting the targets you’ve set, as breaking them down usually makes people feel like they’re more achievable.

However, depending on your activity levels in 2017, you might have given yourself a bit of a shock, in terms of how much activity you’ll need to do this year to hit your new targets. However it’s better to know that now that find out half way through they year when you’ve got less chance to do anything about it!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 7 – Work On Yourself

This is probably THE biggest tip I can give you to set yourself up for a great year!

You see, most salespeople and business owners won’t have even taken the time to READ this article, let along do anything about it!

If you’re one of the few that not only has read this, but is actually taking the time and effort to work out these numbers in order to give you the ‘edge’ you need, I congratulate you.

Now it’s about keeping that motivation up consistently this year, and now you’ve given yourself a ‘head-start’ over your competitors, making sure you stay there!

Good luck with your sales this year, and if I can help you in any way, get in touch!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..


This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2019. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Dec 05

Sales Failure 5!! LinkedIn Selling Fail!!!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


In the ‘Sales Failure!’ series, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston takes real-life examples of ineffective selling, and uses them as tools to learn how you can avoid the same mistakes, and what to do instead to improve your own sales results….

In this edition of ‘Sales Failure’ we take the example of Mark from a video email marketing company (names have been changed to protect the guilty party!).

Mark attempted to ‘sell’ some video email marketing via LinkedIn recently, and his email serves as a useful example to dissect his approach – and examine the lessons you can learn from it – in order to improve your own sales approaches and increase your sales!

Here’s The Complete LinkedIn Email I Received From Mark…

Hi

How are you today?

I wanted to share some interesting stats with you about email marketing!

That’s right statistics prove that Video email marketing can improve your results by as much as 280%.. now that’s powerful stuff.

So why aren’t you using it yet ?

1. Never heard of it …
2. Worried at being in front of the camera
3. Costs too much

So lets answer those objections … you now know that video email exists, there are loads of different ways to market using video with out putting yourself in front of the camera … and the cost doesn’t come into it when you see the results it can provide you and your business, but even so for a meager $20 a month you get the full range Video Email, Video Autoresponder and Video Conferencing! Imagine how much time and money is saved just from the video conferencing!

Get started here http://blahblahblahvideosolutions.com (weblink changed to protect the guilty party)

I look forward to helping you with your video email marketing.

Regards
Mark

Now, let’s just put aside for one moment the fact that he’s tried to start his ‘sales relationship’ by ‘Selling By Email’ (or in this case, LinkedIn Inbox message – so in effect the same thing) – a MAJOR error in my opinion as I write in my ‘Selling By Email – 5 Mistakes’ article!

Let’s look at where Mark went wrong, and what ‘Sales Lessons’ we can learn from his poor sales approach….

Sales Failure Lesson No 1 – Is ‘How Are You Today?’ The Best Call/Email Opening You Can Manage?!!!

Now, if you’ve been on ANY of my sales courses, you’ll know my opinion on opening your call/email to a prospect with the opening ‘How Are You Today?’ Urrgghhh… It’s awful! Stop doing it! Now!

Think about how YOU feel if someone starts their call like that to you… for example….

You’re sitting at home, having your dinner/tea and the phone rings….. you get up to answer it, to be greeted by an irritatingly cheery voice on the other end of the phone that starts with…. ‘Hi is that xxx? How are you today?’

How do you feel right now? Irritated? Annoyed? Frustrated? Perhaps even put the phone down straightaway? That’s the emotional state you put people in when you use ‘How Are You Today?’ to a prospect you don’t know that well!

That’s not a great emotional state to put people in if you want to sell, persuade or influence them afterwards, is it?

So stop doing it! Now!!!

Sales Failure Lesson No 2 – Stop LYING To People!

If you’re making this mistake, it can get you into BIG trouble! And fast!


In Mark’s email to me, he said ‘I wanted to share some interesting stats with you about email marketing!’ But he didn’t did he? Apart from the fact he only went on to share ONE stat (see my next point), his ‘purpose’ or ‘reason’ for the email was NOT to share stats with me, but to get me to sign up for his service! He’s lying. I know he’s lying. That’s not helping me to buy from him (or even buy INTO him in the first place!).

So why would you say something other than what you really mean? People can spot that a mile off, and it not only STOPS people buying from you, but also affects your reputation! Not a good move, is it?

So think about what the ‘reason’ or ‘purpose’ of you sales approach is… is it to arrange a meeting? To share something of value to them (WITHOUT SELLING – like this blog). To get them to sign up for a webinar? To arrange a demonstration? To discuss their needs in relation to…. Whatever it is, make sure your reason (or purpose) is clear at the start of your sales approach.

Decision Makers value their time, and by not wasting it (and getting to the point of your approach quickly) you’ll gain respect and rapport, and build better long-term relationships.

Certainly more than you would do by LYING in your sales approach anyway!!

Sales Failure Lesson No 3 – If You Say It, PROVE IT!

If you’re going to mention a statistic in your sales approach, then you better be prepared to back it up!

In Mark’s approach to me, he said ‘Statistics prove that Video email marketing can improve your results by as much as 280%…

In Mark’s case it’s even MORE important that he backs this stat up, as he uses the word ‘PROVE’ in his statement!!!

When you quote a stat like Mark did (improve your results by as much as 280%) you NEED to provide evidence. Is there a link to an article that backs up your claim? Can you quote the source so it has more credibility? Is it from an independent source, or a respected authority so it can actually increase your credibility as well?

Most people are cynical. That’s even more the case in UK and most of Western Europe. So quoting this stat (and not backing it up) actually gets them thinking ‘Does it now? Really? Where’s the proof? I’m not sure I believe that…’.

Now you’ve got a BIG problem. Your prospect is now in the emotional state of ‘I don’t believe you’. So now you’ve got a Credibility issue, and you have to be REALLY careful with the next statement you make – because if you give them the chance to disagree with you there too, you’re potentially just lost the person, the relationship, the opportunity, and any chance you had of making the sale!!!

Not a great outcome for your sales approach is it?!!

Sales Failure Lesson No 4 – Don’t ‘Belittle’ Your Prospects’ Problems

If you’ve done your research, you’ll know the problems your prospects have – plus how you can overcome those problems/objections to give yourself more chance of moving them ahead in the selling/buying process.

In Mark’s case, he’s listed the following ‘objections’ in his email…

So why aren’t you using it yet ?

1. Never heard of it …
2. Worried at being in front of the camera
3. Costs too much

Now if those are the biggest objections your prospects have to proceeding with a product or service you offer (in Mark’s case, video) do you REALLY think you’re going to overcome ALL 3 OF THEIR BIGGEST PROBLEMS with a short paragraph afterwards?!!! Really?!!

If you ‘belittle’ a prospects problems (or objections) they feel like they’re not being listened to. They can feel as though you’re not interested in them. And then can feel like you’re trying to ‘sell’ to them without having taken any of their concerns on-board!

None of those are great outcomes, are they? So if you want to avoid this problem, STOP belittling your prospects’ problems!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2019. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Nov 15

Call Me Back After Christmas! Are You Getting This Objection From Your Prospects?

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why it is that so many business owners and salespeople get the ‘call me back after Christmas’ objection…..only to find in January that they can’t get hold of the person ever again!…..

Now we’re heading into the festive period, many business owners and salespeople will get the ‘call me back after Christmas/call me back in the New Year’ objection – yet fail to deal with it well enough!

I’m sure you’ve had people say those words or something similar to you? They can even start to appear from the middle of November onwards!

How about when you ring those people back in the New Year?  The people you were trying to get a buying decision from? The people who needed to ‘run your proposal past a few people?’ Or maybe the people you were trying to get an appointment with?

Very often (those same people that gave you the ‘Christmas objection’) when you call those people back in the New Year, they either still haven’t made a decision, they give another ‘fob-off’, or even worse – you can’t seem to get hold of those people ever again! Has this ever happened to you? If you’re anything like the hordes of people that ask me what to do about the ‘Christmas‘ problem every year, you probably get it quite a lot!

So Why Do They Do It?

Business Selling PsychologySo why is it that the buyers and decision makers give us the ‘Christmas‘ objections? There are various reasons for this. Sometimes, there’s a genuine reason why they can’t proceed with the order (or appointment) until January – perhaps a colleague is away that needs to be involved, perhaps there isn’t a budget until next year, perhaps even that the person is so focused on delivering existing projects, they just can’t even think about another one!

However as mentioned above – in a number of cases, decision makers use ‘Christmas objections’ as a convenient way of getting salespeople and business owners to ‘go away‘. And they keep using them because they work! Far too many salespeople and business owners ‘fall‘ for these objections, take the decision makers at their word – only to be surprised come January when they can’t get hold of that person.

The challenge is – unless you learn to do something about these ‘Christmas‘ objections, you’re going to suffer the same problems year after year, after year! If you’d like to do something to tackle it now, here are some ideas for you….

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 1 – Prepare To Tackle Them

Sales Tips - Objections During The Holiday SeasonYou know you’re going to start getting these sorts of objections from November onwards, so you need to prepare for them!

I hear so many business owners and salespeople fall for these same objections year after year! Why not consider how you’re going to deal with them and practice your responses? Most people fail to do even those simple things!

This means working out your objection handles, then practicing them with friends, colleagues or even in meetings with the rest of the sales team! The better prepared you are for when the objections come up, the better you’ll deal with them! That goes for the other objections you face as well, but let’s focus on the ‘Christmas‘ ones for now!

And please, don’t leave this until the last few moments before your telephone call or client meeting (or even worse – until you’re waiting in reception), do this in ‘small chunks’ – a little bit at a time but done on a regular basis – that helps you remember and use the objection handles best.

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 2 – Think About What They Really Mean

Thinking BusinessmanOften when the buyer or decision maker says the words ‘call me back after Christmas’, that phrase might have a different meaning than the one you’ve accepted at face value!

Let’s face it – if everyone who said those to you either met with you or bought from you in January, then there wouldn’t be a problem, would there? So I’m talking here about the people that use that phrase, but then don’t seem to necessarily follow through come January.

Let’s think about this a little deeper – might some people use that phrase when actually what they really mean is ‘go away?’ Or perhaps ‘it’s not important enough for me to look at right now?’ As someone who originally trained as a professional buyer, I can guarantee you that’s the case!

Here’s a quick distinction – the more ‘new business’ your telephone call or appointment is, the less rapport you have – therefore the likelihood of them ‘fobbing you off’ is much higher! If you’re with an existing client you have personally a very good relationship with, it’s more likely that they’re telling the truth.

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 3 – Try Asking Better Questions

Most salespeople and decision makers I meet struggle with asking ‘good‘ questions. Questions that get them the information that other people don’t get. Questions that elevate the decision maker’s perception of you. Questions that make the decision maker think….

Most salespeople and business owners seem to think that the other person says ‘call me after Christmas’ or something similar, that means end of conversation/meeting! Who said that it did?!! Before the end of this conversation or meeting you need to ask some more questions to get the information you need!

The most important thing to find out here is if they’re trying to ‘fob you off’, without asking or accusing them directly! There are a number of ways you can do this, but the important thing to find out here is the motivation or urgency behind the project (if you haven’t already of course).

If you can establish there are genuine reasons to put the order/project/appointment on hold until the New Year, you’ve lessened your chances of being ‘fobbed-off’ and it should be relatively easy to pick things up from when you left off come January.

If on the other hand, the decision maker doesn’t appear to give specific reasons for the delay, they don’t seem as interested/motivated as they were, or they seem to want to get rid of you as fast as possible, that’s a pretty big sign they’re trying to fob you off!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 4 – Have The Right Attitude

Sales Tip No. 4 - Have The Right AttitudeThe attitude of the salesperson or business owner is also vital in getting the results that you want here. I’ve seen far too many people trudge round on appointment after appointment, or from phone call to phone call looking and sounding like they’re terminally depressed! Not many people are going to buy from you in that state, are they?!!

If you pick up the phone or walk into a meeting expecting the other person to say ‘call me back after Christmas’ then guess what you’re probably going to get in most cases? You guessed it!….

If you’re in a competitive market you can bet that the buyer or decision maker is talking to other suppliers. And all it takes is for the salesperson at one of those companies to be better at dealing with the ‘Christmas‘ objections than you are…..then when you ring back in January they’ve bought! But off someone else….

The decision maker might say ‘oh we went with xyz firm because they had a better proposal’ or ‘we went with abc because they have us a cheaper price’……but in most cases what they mean is ‘we went with xyz because they dealt with the ‘Christmas’ objections better than you did….and that won them the business’.

Now that you’re aware that’s often the case, you’re not going to let that happen to you in future…are you?

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..

If you want more help dealing with ‘Christmas’ Objections, contact Andy on +44 (0) 161 401 0142 or contact the office here

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2019. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Nov 05

Sales Failure 6!! Saracens Rugby Selling Fail!!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


In the ‘Sales Failure!’ series, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston takes real-life examples of ineffective selling, and uses them as tools to learn how you can avoid the same mistakes, and what to do instead to improve your own sales results….

In this edition of ‘Sales Failure’ we take the example of Saracens Rugby Club when I was trying to buy tickets for a Premiership Rugby game recently. My ‘experience’ trying to buy the tickets serves as a usual example for us to ‘dissect’ and discover what we can learn from it to help increase our own sales figures!

Now, regular readers of my articles and people I’ve worked with in the past will know I’m a fan of Sale Sharks Rugby. In fact, more than a fan – I’ve been a sponsor for the past 10 years and attend most of the games and the corporate sponsors events (when I’m in the UK).

This particular ‘Sales Failure’ situation happened when I rang up to get tickets for the Sale Sharks away game at Saracens……

Phone Call Number 1 – I Call Saracens Rugby Ticket Line…

Me: I’d like to get 2 tickets for the Sale Sharks game please….
Them: Okay.
Me: Can I get them with the Sale Sharks fans please as I’m a Sale supporter…
Them: No, we can’t do that here.
Me: I’m sorry?!!
Them: We can’t sell tickets in the Sale section, we can only sell Saracens tickets.
Me: So how do I get tickets for the game and sit with the other Sale supporters?
Them: I don’t know. We don’t sell them here. Try Sale themselves.

Now this was pretty bad…. but wait…. it gets worse!!

Phone Call Number 2 – I Call Sale Sharks Ticket Line…

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the away game at Saracens please….
Them: We don’t sell those, you’d need to call Saracens.
Me: I’ve just called them, and they told me I’d need to ring you as they can’t sell tickets to Sale fans.
Them: Oh really? We don’t sell them here. Let me give you the number for the stadium….

Slightly confused by now, but determined to buy these tickets, I make my third call…

Phone Call Number 3 – I Call Salford City Stadium (Sale’s Home Ground)…

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the away game at Saracens…
Them: We don’t have any here.
Me: Oh, Saracens told me to call the Sale ticket line and they then sent me to you!
Them: Let me check for you….. we did have some, but the allocation was returned to Saracens a week ago – you’ll need to call them.

Now by this stage I’m getting a bit annoyed and more than a little frustrated… luckily for Saracens I’m a motivated buyer, so I’m still wanting to buy at this stage…. so I made my fourth phone call…

Phone Call Number 4 – I Call Saracens Ticket Line (AGAIN!)

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the Sale game please…
Them: Okay.
Me: I’m a Sale fan, so I want to sit with the other Sale fans. Your colleague said you couldn’t do that, and to call Sale. I’ve called the Sale ticket line, they sent me to the stadium, and they’ve sent me back to you as their allocation has been returned. Can I buy 2 of those tickets please?
Them: No we can’t do that. We can only sell tickets for Saracens allocation.
Me: ?!!! So how do I buy 2 tickets for the game?
Them: You can buy them from me, but I’ll have to sit you with Saracens fans.
Me: There must be another option surely?
Them: Nothing I can do. I can give you a number to call the ground?
Me: Okay, I’ll try that…..

Frankly at this point, it’s getting ridiculous. Is it this hard to buy tickets for the game?!! Luckily for them, I really want to go, so I’m motivated enough to make another phone call!

So, here I go with my FIFTH call!….surely I’ll be able to buy the tickets this time?!!

Phone Call Number 5 – I Call Saracens Ground

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the Sale game please…
Them: You’ll need to call our ticket line to do that.
Me: I’ve done that already. They said as I’m a Sale fan they couldn’t do that. They sent me to the Sale ticket line. Who sent me to Sale’s ground. Who sent me back to Saracens ticket line. Who have now sent me over to you. Any chance I can actually spend some money with you and buy 2 tickets with the Sale fans.. before one of us dies?!!! (Slightly frustrated and a good Fawlty Towers reference, for those of you that remember!)
Them: We don’t actually have a separate section for the Sale fans. We’re just mixing you up with Saracens fans, so a normal ticket will be fine.
Me: You’re kidding?!! Why doesn’t anyone else know that?!! That would have saved me a lot of time and effort if I’d have known that before!!!
Them: I’ll sort you 2 tickets out from here mate, save you calling the ticket line again.
Me: That would be great – thank you….

Now I’m sure you’ll agree – the situation was more than ridiculous! So what Sales Lessons can we learn from Saracens Sales Failure?

Sales Failure Lesson Number 1 – Make It Easy For People To Buy!

This is such a simple lesson, but one which a lot of companies fall foul of! It’s true in pretty much ANY sales situation, but even more so when your product or service has competitors, or other places people can go to purchase a similar offering!

In this case Saracens were lucky. They had a ‘unique’ offering at a time when I was already in London (this Saracens game was played at Watford), so I had already decided to purchase, and had strong motivation to do so. Had that not been the case, they more than likely would have lost this sale…. and probably many others too!

How easy is it to buy from your company? Have you ever rung your own company and tried to do so? Might be an interesting experience…..

Sales Failure Lesson Number 2 – Educate/Train/Get Rid Of Your ‘Sales Prevention Department’

The cause of many companies lost sales – the Sales Prevention Department! These people thrive on telling you why something ‘isn’t possible‘, ‘we don’t work that way‘, or ‘we can’t do that here‘.

These people are one of the biggest causes of lost sales. Think about where they might ‘live’ in your organisation… Accounts Department perhaps? Project Management? Or even worse – the people handling the incoming sales enquiries?!!

In most cases, it’s where ‘non-salespeople’ get involved in the sales process. Like office managers, sales support, accounts, IT, in fact – most departments really! They thrive on telling you policies, procedures and process – and love to say ‘no’. They’re almost like the Traffic Wardens of business! And they’re costing you sales right now!

It often astounds me how much money companies spend on generating incoming sales leads – advertising, marketing, web sites, social media, networking, SEO etc…. and then don’t focus on the people handling the incoming sales enquiries in particular!

Where are these people located in your company?…

Sales Failure Lesson Number 3 – The Longer It Takes To Buy From You…. The Less Likely People Are To Purchase

In reality, most people are busy people. And they can get irritated quickly, particularly if they perceive what they want to buy as a ‘simple task’ – and it turns out to be anything but!

Therefore your sales process needs to be as short as possible (combined with my ‘easy’ point in Sales Failure Lesson 1 above). The quicker that people can buy, the better – and the more likely they are to do so. This is even more true when it’s an ‘instant purchase’ item like tickets are in this example.

How short is your sales process right now? How many ‘hoops’ do people have to jump through to buy from you? And can you shorten the process?

So above are 3 of the lessons you can learn from Saracens Sales Failure in this situation. Put them into practice in your company, and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on…..

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