Category Archives for "General Sales Tips"

Jan 29

Eventex In Dublin – How To Sell More Sponsorship, Advertising & Exhibition Stands

By Andy Preston | Andy Preston News

So after the warmth of South Africa, the next stop was Dublin, after an overnight stop at Heathrow to pick up the video crew who would be with me for the rest of the week.

Dublin was pretty warm considering, a balmy 11 degrees that was pretty much T-shirt weather compared to London! And it was a short taxi ride from Dublin Airport, to the Croke Park Hotel, across the road from Croke Park itself, where the event was being held for the next couple of days.

It was the first event with a new concept, an 80/20 event, where most of the time, there would be a number of workshops running concurrently, with just an ‘opening’ and ‘closing’ piece each day with everyone together.

My workshop was 5 hours of ‘How To Sell More Sponsorship, Advertising and Exhibition Stands’. This is something I’ve delivered a number of times, for Event Organisers and their membership body in South Africa. Plus my experience helping leading sports clubs sell more sponsorship, advertising and hospitality deals.

Croke Park PP Full

Here Are 3 Quick Sales Tips From My Workshop

Now, these tips will work whatever you are selling, not just for sponsorship, advertising and exhibition stands, so you can apply them to any country, any industry, and any situation – with a little ‘tweaking’ if necessary.

Andy’s Tip No 1 – Create Urgency

There HAS to be urgency present in every single buying situation. If urgency isn’t there on the side of the buyer, the salesperson HAS to create it. Without it, there is no impetus or momentum in the process, and that often results in the buyer ‘thinking about it’ – which usually means no sale!

Andy’s Tip No 2 – Understand Their Reasons For Interest

For anyone to be interested in buying space at your exhibition, sponsoring your event (or part of it) or buying advertising in your magazine, show guide or digital package, there has to be a reason behind their interest.

It might be something personal to them (self interest), it might be something that their business can take advantage of (a PR opportunity, or associating themselves with your venue or show for example), or it could be they are desperate for sales leads!

Either way, if you find out what their specific interest is FIRST (instead of just ‘pitching’ your product or service at them without asking questions), you’ve got a far better chance of securing the business afterwards – often at higher rates!

Andy’s Tip No 3 – Control The Process

One of my favourite sayings is ‘The Salesperson Should ALWAYS Be In Control Of The Sales Process’. Yet often they are not. Often they let the buyer take control of the situation, dictate what will happen next, and then find themselves chasing with endless follow ups that never seem to go anywhere!

The Stand-Out-Salesperson makes sure they are controlling and leading the sales process, and therefore they get the outcome that they want more often, and secure the sale. That’s what we all want to be aiming for!

Good luck with your future sales!

Are you interested in me speaking at your event, kickoff, roadshow or Sales Conference?

Or alternatively working with you or your team to overcome some of their problems with sales pipeline, managing their sales opportunities, cold calling and prospecting, or converting incoming leads?

Then please contact me here, or call +44 161 401 0142 to see how I can help you!

Jan 04

5 Essential ‘New Year’ Sales Resolutions For Your Sales Team For 2017

By Andy Preston | Andy Preston News

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 2017….

The New Year is a great opportunity to set some new sales goals, and some ‘Sales Resolutions’
Here are my suggestions for the Top Five New Years’ Resolutions for your sales team……

Sales Resolution Number 1 – Increase Your Prospecting Activity

If your ‘goal’ or ‘outcome’ for 2017 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 sales opportunities coming off, in order to hit their targets. In most cases, that’s a recipe for failure.

red-phone1_smallTake 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 Number 2 – Stop Being Bullied By Prospects

This is starting to happen more and more, as buyers take control of the sales process. By ‘bullying’ I meant things like…….

• Playing you off against competitors
• Using you as ‘price fodder’ in the process (with no intention of buying from you and wasting your time)
• ‘Commoditising’ the sales process
• Ignoring your suggestions and advice and insisting on ‘their’ spec
• Forcing you to lower your prices and eroding your margin/profit

APFar too many buyers now are taking control of the process and forcing salespeople to dance to THEIR tune – usually resulting in the salesperson having control over the process, no influence on the process, and no sale at the end of the process!

Make sure you don’t fall into this trap!

Sales Resolution Number 3 – Filter Your Sales Opportunities Better

You can only do this step when you have a lot of Sales opportunities (hence my recommendation in No 1 above), so if you haven’t got enough opportunities yet, go back to that step until you have!

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

If you’ve already ‘profiled’ your opportunities, 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 opportunities 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, 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 opportunities 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’ an opportunity or two, then you probably haven’t got enough opportunities in the first place – go back to the first resolution above!

Sales Resolution Number 4 – Improve Your Pipeline Control

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

Saleswoman Juggling Upcoming Activities & TasksMost 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 Number 5 – Work On Your Sales Skills

Right now we’re in a competitive market. With competitors’ after our clients more than ever before. With prospects comparing us to others more than ever before. With meetings with Senior Decision Makers being harder to get than ever before.
Act Now - Red Button

So it often comes down to your salesperson versus your competitors’ salesperson. Their sales skills, versus their competitors’ sales skills. Who is going to win in that scenario? Who would you put your money on?

Now is the time to work on your own sales skills, and those of your team. To look at areas in which you could perform better. And to regularly invest time (and money where appropriate) in getting your team to where they need to be, in order to make sure YOU are winning the business, rather than your competitors!

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

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2017. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Jun 17

Sales Lessons From Steve Jobs

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains the sales lessons that we as salespeople can learn from Steve Jobs……and how we can implement them to benefit both our own sales, and those of our team..…

Note: This article was originally written a few weeks after Steve Jobs death. It’s now been updated and all of the distinctions below are still relevant – hope you enjoy it!

Steve Jobs was inspirational to me personally, as he was to many people.  The difficulties he overcame, the things he was able to accomplish, and the devices he was able to bring into people’s everyday lives had a profound impact on me personally, as I’m sure they did on you too.

From a ‘sales’ point of view, I especially admired his ability to release new products that people don’t even realise they needed… until he released them!  At which point they became ‘must’ purchases for a lot of people.  And that’s said by someone who’s bought iPods, iPhones, Macbook Pros and iPads and iMacs!

While Steve may no longer be with us, his legacy will continue to be.  So what ‘sales lessons’ can we learn from it?……

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 1 – Don’t Be Afraid Of Being ‘Different’

Steve Jobs was never afraid to be different.  To ‘stand out’ from the crowd.  To pursue things ways of doing things that other people thought were stupid.  Until he did them and people stood back and applauded.

In a sales context, what aren’t you doing right now because other people think it’s stupid?  If other people say ‘cold calling is dead’ that’s great!  It means less people are doing it, so less competition to your calls – so long as you’re still making them that is!

If colleagues or competitors are saying ‘prospecting is ‘hard work’ or ‘difficult’ – that’s great!  It means they’re doing less than they should – so a great opportunity for you to win business from the people they’re not calling on, and retain your best accounts as they’re not bothering calling them either!

If people are saying ‘sales is tough right now’ or ‘business is tough out there at the moment’ you can bet they’re not picking up the phone (or walking into their sales appointments) with the right mindset – meaning they’re less likely to win the deal!  That means there’s more deals for the people like us that are prepared to go out there and get them!

Being different and doing things other people don’t want to do, (and even tell you not to do) takes a certain mindset.  The mindset that you’re not going to worry about what others tell you.  That you’re prepared to work harder than they are.  That you’re prepared to win the business that they would have given up on ages ago.

Steve Jobs wasn’t afraid to be different.  Are you?

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 2 – Love What You Do

One of Steve’s favourite sayings was ‘Love what you do’.  My question to you is ‘do YOU love what you do?’.

The answer for most salespeople (and most people in general) is ‘yes, when things are going well!’.  I’ve always said that in my opinion, sales can be the best job in the word… when things are going well…. And the worst job in the world when things are going badly!

So for those of you that don’t currently love what you do,  you need a more ‘compelling reason’ or ‘outcome’ for doing what you do.  That can be a compelling reason for your customers, for example – we want everyone to have access to better quality IT support at a more competitive price’.

It can also be a more compelling reason for yourself ‘I want to have my family be able to have 2 foreign holidays per year and be able to afford the things they want’.  I could also be an even bigger compelling reason…

Mine for example?  I want to be able to change the quality of life (for the better) of everyone I come into contact with.  How do I do that you ask?  By increasing their sales… thereby increasing their income…. thereby helping them to increase the quality of their own lives… and those of their families.

Do you think that ‘compelling reason’ drives me to be better at what I do?  Do you think it drives me to give as much value as possible in my speaking and training engagements?  Do you think it drives me to do whatever it takes to get the best possible results for my delegates and people that train with me?  Of course it does!  Do you think I love what I do by any chance? 😉

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 3 – Turn Your TV Off!

I remember Steve saying ‘We think you watch television to switch your brain OFF, and work on your computer when you want to turn your brain ON’

I’ve always loved that saying.  When I ask most salespeople ‘How much time do you spend on trying to improve your sales (or your sales career) against how much time do you spend watching TV?’ guess which one is normally most popular?!!

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t watch TV.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use it relax, or watch it with your kids.  After all, it’s your personal choice what you do.  I AM saying however, think about how much time you spend watching it, as opposed to working your sales career.

Most salespeople I meet rarely work on their sales career outside of work.  And even ‘inside’ of work they rarely work on improving it, more that they just end up ‘doing’ it.  When I ask most salespeople ‘when was the last time you listened to a CD to improve your sales?’, what do you think their answer is?  The same answer I usually get when I ask them when they last read a sales book or had some external sales training or coaching!  That answer is usually ‘never’ or ‘not for a while’.

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 4 – Create A ‘Buying Experience’

Sell New Products To Existing Customers : Sales TipSteve Jobs and Apple were fantastic at creating a ‘buying experience’ every time you bought one of their products.  Pretty much anyone who’s bought from Apple will confirm this!  Whether it’s been an iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac or anything else in their product line, if you’ve bought one you’ll know that it’s a bit different to the usual buying experience for example.

If you’ve also experienced the Apple Store in person, you’ll have an even higher opinion.  Forget trawling around a ‘usual’ computer store trying in vain to find someone that knows ANYTHING about what you’re trying to purchase, and isn’t just the ‘Saturday boy’ (who now seems to work every day of the week by the way!).

An Apple store experience is just that – an experience!  The majority of people on the shop floor know exactly how to answer your query, or find someone who does in a minute!  Does that have any impact on how many people buy more products from Apple?  Of course it does!  Apple is one of those manufacturers that once you have one Apple product, most people go on to buy more!

The sales lesson in this is therefore – how do you currently go about making buying from YOUR COMPANY an experience like the Apple one?  Or maybe if you’re a salesperson, how do you go about making buying from YOU an experience like the Apple one?

Because if you can create that kind of ‘buying experience’, then perhaps you can create the kind of customer loyalty and ‘raving fans’ that Steve Jobs and Apple have managed to create around their company and their products and services.  Don’t try to tell me that wouldn’t be useful for your sales figures?!!

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 5 – Don’t Fear Failure

The majority of people I speak to, at some point, have to deal with failure.  So therefore most people also have to deal with a fear of failure.  Something that happens in advance of an ‘event’ that they think will mean failure for them.

So one of the things that I do when I work with an individual or sales team is to look at what ‘failures’ they’re afraid of.  Number one on this list is usually cold calling, or in some cases, any kind of sales call at all!

Now the second will seem strange to those professional salespeople out there, but for some ‘non-traditional salespeople’ – i.e marketing staff trying to make appointments for field sales reps, business owners who’ve never been in sales, professional service people for example – getting over the ‘fear’ of making a sales call or cold call is probably the biggest barrier that’s getting in the way of increasing their sales!

You might not even be thinking of it as ‘fear of failure’ because you might not be physically ‘afraid’ of it, but what if I changed the question into ‘what are you putting off right now that you know you need to do?’ that would bring up some interesting answers!

How many of you (or your team) are putting off calling a prospect that could be a really good source of income for you, because you feel like you’re ‘not ready’?

How many of you are putting off calling a customer back that’s called in with a complaint?  Even why you know it’s better to deal with it swiftly and smooth things over?

How many of you aren’t calling a prospect right now that you’ve sent a proposal to, and are just allowing them to ‘decide’ without you trying to influence it to come to you?   Might that be because you’re ‘afraid’ of messing it up?

If ‘fear of failure’ is affecting you or your team right now, if you send me a message through my website here, I’ll happily give you some ideas how I can help….

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 6 – You Can’t Join The Dots Forward…..

I remember watching a recording of Steve’s speech to Stamford University in 2005, where he said ‘You can’t join the dots forward, only backward….’

It was a great speech and I remember the impact the above phrase had on me.  For me, it meant that sometimes you only realise what actions got you to an outcome – once you’ve got there!  And whilst we can plan and prepare and go for our goals, we never know what action helped us get there, until we get there!

In sales, as in life, there are no guarantees.  Just because you make 10/30/100 prospecting calls today/this/week/this month, doesn’t necessarily GUARANTEE you hitting your target.

Just because you decide to pick up the phone or get out of your car and speak to that prospect you’ve been thinking about contacting for ages (but done nothing about it) doesn’t GUARANTEE that you’ll get their business.

And just because you write a great proposal, make a great presentation and do your best sales meeting ever, doesn’t GUARANTEE that you’ll win that account.

There’s one thing i can guarantee you however – if you don’t make the effort in the first place, you’re definitely not going to win enough deals!

Far too many people dismiss someone else winning a big deal as ‘luck’ – when in fact that salesperson has probably put in lots of effort in the past, in order that they can look back with satisfaction now!  Winning business on a consistent basis usually leaves behind a trail of good sales activity and behaviour – can you be proud of your behaviour and current activity levels?

And don’t worry if things seem tough ‘in the moment’ – put the effort in now and you’ll see the results happen for you going forward.  Then you can look back once you’ve achieved the results you want… and join the dots going backwards…. realising you have success because of that activity and behaviour that everyone else gave up on… apart from you 😉

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

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2016. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Mar 30

Selling By Email – 5 Mistakes Most Salespeople Make

By Andy Preston | Digital Selling

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why most people struggle with ‘selling by email’ – they don’t understand it, they don’t know when to use it (and when not to) and they don’t know how to use it for best results…….……

After reading this article you’ll be able to utilise email to add value to your sales efforts – instead of hampering them – and get your sales figures back where they belong!……..

When I working with sales teams all over the world, Sales Managers and Directors often tell me that they believe all salespeople are inherently lazy. I’m not sure I agree with that hugely sweeping statement, but I do think salespeople often look for the quickest way to do something!

I think this is partly down to the fact that a lot of salespeople only start earning real money when their commission kicks in, so any task that isn’t directly related to bringing in new customers, orders or money, they tend to try and find the quickest way to do! Hence why the managers think they’re lazy.

As salespeople though, this ‘quickest route’ habit can often cause us problems! Particularly as technology has advanced and email is a popular communication method for many. However, this often results in salespeople resorting to email communication – at the expense of their own sales figures! Have a look at the examples of common email sales mistakes below, and see if any ring true for you……

Email Sales Mistake Number 1 – Using It To ‘Follow Up‘ Your Pipeline

Let’s look at this from a ‘new business’ perspective. You’ve spoken with (or met with) a client previously, you’ve started to develop rapport, but they’ve probably got an existing supplier, or existing way of doing things. So you didn’t pick up their business from your initial call or appointment.

Your boss has probably been putting pressure on you about your sales figures or your sales pipeline. So you decide you need to ‘follow up’ with a few people, this particular prospect included. So what do you do next? Pick up the phone and call them, establish their current situation and needs and potentially see how you may be able to add value to what they’re trying to achieve over the next few months? Close for another appointment, attempt to dislodge the existing supplier (or existing process) and pick up their business? Or send an email?

If you’re in the ’email’ category, stop it! Right now!

Email Sales Mistake Number 2 – Just ‘Adding‘ People To A Mailing List

Another great idea from the marketing department. Sending an email newsletter or similar to keep people ‘informed’ of your products and services. The funny thing is, how many newsletters do you get that you don’t read, or you don’t read in full? I bet it’s quite a few. If you don’t know the sender well, you probably don’t read it at all. Sometimes even when you know the sender well you still don’t read it!

Don’t sit back and think that just because someone is on your generic email list that that’s helping you ‘sell’ to that person. In most cases it isn’t. That’s more of a ‘nurture’ campaign for the Marketing department to worry about!

The responsibility to move that person through your sales pipeline is still yours!

Email Sales Mistake Number 3 – Sending Mainly ‘Flyers’ By Email

Please tell me you’re not still doing this? Even worse if the email is titled ‘offer of the month’ or similar! If the person hasn’t used you before, you’re relying on ‘luck’ for the person to buy from you. And the more competitive your marketplace and the higher the price of what you sell, the less likely people are to buy!

Plus as mentioned in my last point above, it’s hardly ‘personal’ communication to that prospect, is it? Is this really the professional sales job you were employed to do? If this is the best you can do in terms of ‘sales persuasion’, you’re in trouble!

Email Sales Mistake Number 4 – Responding To New Sales Enquiries Via Email

Let’s think about this one. You or your company has expended time, money and effort in producing the incoming sales lead. Whether it’s come from a previous phone call by you or a colleague, networking, advertising or over the internet, you’ve managed to get a precious incoming sales lead.

oopsThe next question is, what are you going to do about it? Pick up the phone and find an excuse to start a dialogue to understand their needs in more detail, positition a ‘next step’ in the sales process and look for some committment from that person. Or just send a quick email giving some information and leaving them to ‘wander’ on their own, with no idea how motivated they are to purchase, their timescales, or what other options they’re considering?

Looks like you’ve missed your chance again, doesn’t it? In most cases if they come back to you, it’s because when they enquired with your competition, they did a worse job than you did (hard to believe I know, but it could be true). Is this really the best way of dealing with that precious incoming sales lead do you think?!!

Email Sales Mistake Number 5 – Sending Proposals Or Quotes By Email

Now it’s time for my personal favourite! Sending proposals or quotes by email. This has become an interesting area over the last few years, with many prospects asking you to send your quotes/proposals etc via email.

Now, most of the ‘old school’ trainers will tell you that you HAVE to go in and present the proposal face-to-face. That that’s the ONLY thing you can do.

I don’t agree.

I agree it’s BETTER to be able to present the proposal face-to-face and talk it through. I agree that the more expensive the product (and the more value you have to build before presenting the price) the more important it is to try and get in face-to-face to present it.

But what happens if you’re not in Field Sales/Outside Sales? What if you don’t have the opportunity to visit the prospect? And how about the prospects that ask you to send through your proposals and quotes via email?

Andy’s Tips On Sending Proposals Or Quotes Via Email

The main thing you need to be aware of is that the minute you send through your proposal or quote via email, you lose most of your control over the sales process. You allow the prospect to go into ‘hiding’ – not returning your calls or emails, and basically going quiet on you!

Therefore you need to have asked ALL your ‘sales questions’ BEFORE sending through the proposal, otherwise your chance of winning the business is dramatically reduced!

If you are interested in me working with you or your team to overcome some of their problems with proposals, pipeline management and closing, then contact me here, or call +44 161 401 0142 to see how I can help you!

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).

Mar 02

Are You Winning Customers? Or Transactions?

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, Leading Sales Expert Andy Preston talks about why most companies don’t win customers, they win transactions – and what you can do differently in your business to make sure that doesn’t happen to you!…………

This has been a regular topic of conversation while I’ve been on my speaking tour of the Middle East and Africa over the past few weeks.

If you’re in a business where you want regular business from people, not just one-off ‘transactions’, then making sure people buy from you more than once is critical!

However, most businesses and most salespeople aren’t aware this actually starts at the first transaction.

The best opportunity to generate repeat business is in the first transaction. How you deal with that can massively affect your chance of getting ANY repeat business, let alone lots of it!

Here are 3 tips to help you gain more Customers, rather than just Transactions….

Andy’s Sales Tip No 1 – Make The Process More ‘Human’…..

There has been a big trend over the last few years to ‘dehumanise’ the sales process, and rely on peocheesy manple buying from you mainly via the internet. Now that’s fine if you have a huge brand like Tesco. Or Walmart. Or Pick and Pay. But not so good if you’re a smaller business.

As a smaller business, the ‘human’ part of the transaction is (or at least, should be!) your competitive advantage! The reason WHY people buy from you and not your competition (even if they are cheaper). They are buying from YOU, just as much as they are buying from your company, if not more!

So why on earth would you seek to ‘dehumanise’ the process? Trying to get people to be ‘loyal’ to a web page, rather than a person? How is that a recipe for driving customer loyalty and long-term business? Here’s a clue. It isn’t!

Andy’s Sales Tip No 2 – Think ‘Customer’, Not ‘Order’

This is something else we need to do. Once we have put more ‘human’ back into the process, we need to start thinking more ‘customer’ than ‘order’.

That means rather than just taking or processing their order, we need to think about what potential future needs they may have for our products or services. Ask questions about the sort of products they buy, and how often. And particular times of year they order (for regular exhibitions, trade shows, promotions for example).

We should be using this opportunity to work out our future contact strategy with this customer. When we should be speaking to them next. What we should be speaking to them about. How we can advise and serve them best, with long-term solutions in mind, not just taking their order.

Without any of that being done, we run the risk of the customer completing the order, and then not speaking to us again, irrespective of whether we try and reach them afterwards – it’s too late!

Andy’s Sales Tip No 3 – Focus On The Customer Experience

What is it really like to buy from you, and your company? Is it easy? Pleasurable? Or do your processes and procedures make it difficult and frustrating?

magnifying glassIn my experience, it’s usually the latter. And the less ‘human’ the process is, the more frustrating it can get! Have you ever called a company, only to get an ‘automatic message?’ (press 1 for…..). That’s a great example of what I’m talking about. The ones where you end up screaming ‘just let me speak to a human being!!!’, while bashing the 0 button, in the hope it will shortcut the process!

Most companies have something like that in their order process, that makes customers (and potential customers) frustrated. So what is it in your company? Your accounts process? Your ordering process? Your delivery process?

This is your opportunity to ‘wow’ your customer, To turn this from a ‘transaction’ into a ‘customer’. Maybe even a loyal customer! IF you do this part well enough!

Remember – your delivery/implementation/client visit to your premises is the last link in the process of this particular order. That’s the last thing they will remember. Are they remembering something positive about you, that will make them want to become not just a customer of yours, but a ‘raving fan’ – that tells other people are great you are to deal with and gets you great referrals?

Or is the experience something else, that just encourages them to go somewhere else for their next ‘transaction?’. Think about it.

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

(This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2016. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines).

Feb 02

4 Awful ‘Sales Phrases’ That Are Probably Costing You Business Right Now!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains 4 awful sales phrases that most salespeople use, and why they will cost them (and you) business going forwards……

Whenever I’m listening to salespeople on the phones (or face-to-face) they often use awful sales phrases that cause them problems in the sales process, and often cost them sales! Here are 4 typical ones you need to avoid using (but appear to be in ‘common’ use in most sales teams)….

AWFUL SALES PHRASE No 1 – “I’m Your New Account Manager”…..

SITUATION – When you’ve just taken over an account from a colleague, who may also have just left the business

WHY IT’S BAD – The effect your words have on the client. They hear something like “the last guy was crap so we fired him” or “our company isn’t very good so lots of people leave” (especially if the last person wasn’t the only account manager they’ve had’

sorryOr even worse “I’m new here, haven’t a clue what I’m doing, and YOUR ACCOUNT is going to be the one I learn and practice on!”

Can you imagine the impact on the client, and what they’re thinking when they hear those words?!!! Awful!

Even worse (and I hear people doing this FAR too often) is using this phrase when the ‘customer’ you’re calling has never spent any money with you!!

That’s right. They’re NOT a customer. They are a prospect. So when they hear you say “I’m your new account manager”, the impact of that is “well it hasn’t been ‘managed’ very well, as we’ve not got any account with you and have never spent any money with you!” Often closely followed with “and we’ve got a supplier we’re happy with for that anyway!”

Why would you be so stupid as to walk into all of that stuff, and a strong objection as well? Yet still I hear a lot of people doing it…….


AWFUL SALES PHRASE No 2 – “I’m ‘Just’ Calling”…..

SITUATION – Making an outbound sales call

WHY IT’S BAD – You’re ‘just’ calling? No you’re not! You’re not ‘just’ doing anything!

In this circumstance it’s a ‘downgrading’ word. It downgrades your call in the mind of the prospect (or the client), and downgrades your own credibility!

In this situation, it takes your call from being positioned as important and valuable, and reduces it to ‘unimportant’, ‘an interruption’ and about as valuable as ‘market research’

Why would you want to start your call by giving the recipient extra motivation to want to get rid of you?!!!

AWFUL SALES PHRASE No 3 – “Thank You For The Opportunity To Quote”……

SITUATION – Client/Prospect has just asked you to quote them

WHY IT’S BAD – This is awful!!! Truly awful! Your positioning on this is terrible! Are your seriously ‘thanking’ someone for asking you to give a quote?!!

This is the problem with all the ‘Customer Service’ stuff that’s been spouted over the last few years. ‘The Customer Is King’ and ‘The Customer Is Always Right’. I’m in agreement that we need to give people good service, but when it comes to sales there is a difference between ‘Service’ and ‘Subservience’.

remorseYou want to be perceived as an ‘equal’ by the client. Not more important than them. Not less important than them. As an equal.

When prospects and clients perceive you as an equal, it changes the way they treat you. Generally speaking, they respect your opinion more, they ask your advice more, they tell you more and are more honest with you! All things that would help us make more sales!

When you are ‘subservient’ to a client, you typically lose control of the sales process, get beaten up on price, you waste lots of time ‘running around’ after them, and then not getting the sale anyway!

Using this phrase so early in the sales process will count against you afterwards. It ruins your positioning and the prospect/client’s opinion of you. Don’t do it!

AWFUL SALES PHRASE No 4 – “How Are You Today?”

SITUATION – On An Outbound Sales Call

WHY IT’S BAD – This is my ‘pet hate’. It’s probably THE WORST thing you can say as the introduction to a sales call, but many people still say it, and even worse, are TRAINED to say it! Terrible! And the colder the call is, the worse it is!

Now if you’re making a call to someone where you have the level of rapport to say ‘John, how are you doing? How are the kids? And how was your weekend?’, you’ve obviously making a call to someone you know extremely well, and have a very high level of rapport with, so that circumstance is exempt from this.

Fail Post It - SmallWhen however, as many people do, if you’re using this on a call where you don’t know someone that well at all (or even worse, on a cold call) this will cause you major problems!

It comes across as fake. Insincere. And a ‘cheap’ attempt at trying to gain rapport with someone that you hardly know. And it will cause you big problems. Stop it. Now!

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

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2016. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Oct 14

4 Places To Find ‘Hidden’ Revenue In Your Business

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading sales expert Andy Preston talks about the problem of ‘hidden’ revenue, and how you can find the hidden revenue in your business…..

I’m often asked by business owners, sales managers and sales directors to help their sales team increase sales. And part of that focus is always on driving new-business revenue.

But what about the ‘hidden’ revenue that’s already in the business? The revenue that’s there to be had, but isn’t being unlocked currently by your salespeople? There’s often lots of that, especially in low-transaction-value, repeat order businesses!

There’s gold in them thar hills! So let’s have a look at where it might be in your business……

Hidden Revenue Number 1 – Annual Existing Customer Orders

One of the areas where you may be missing out on revenue, is in orders from your existing customer base. Don’t get me wrong – if you’ve already locked down 100% of your customer’s spend then that will help – but even then you could be missing out!

CalendarSome customers will buy on an annual basis. Especially if they buy for an event, trade show or exhibition for example. Why not think about getting together a list of customer orders from 12/13 months ago (depending on your lead-times), and calling those people to see if they need anything?

And if you make a note on your CRM or database that they are ordering for a particular event, you can ring them next year as well, talk about the event, and seem really informed and on the ball!

Some customers need a prompt to buy. And not ‘prompting’ them might mean they don’t buy. Or they don’t buy as much as they would have with a ‘prompt’ much earlier.

Hidden Revenue Area Number 2 – Your ‘Lapsed’ Client List

Another source of revenue that you’re currently losing lies in your ‘lapsed’ client list. You know the companies that used to order from you, but haven’t bought anything for ages.

You probably feel a little awkward contacting these people, as it’s likely they are now using someone else, yet they are one of the easiest types of prospect to persuade to buy!

They made a decision to buy from you at some stage. So they must have been happy at that time. They Thinking Businessmanare already set up on your system. They probably also have credit facilities with you.

You may have a problem to solve, or a difficulty to overcome when you contact them (as that may be the reason they no longer buy from you), but most people change suppliers based on ‘perceived indifference’ – so just the act of getting back in touch might bring you business!

Hidden Revenue Area Number 3 – Your ‘Lost’ Deals

Another area of ‘hidden’ revenue is your lost deals. You know, those deals you pitched for that you didn’t win? The ones that chose to go with someone else when their annual contract came up, or they called you in for a review?

Just because you didn’t win the contract, doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t buy from you! Even people who say ‘we are under contract’ and ‘we don’t buy outside of it’ often still do – especially when they need something that their existing provider cannot provide in time!

There’s no harm at all in ringing up your ‘lost deals’ 3 months, 6 months or 12 months later, to see what’s changed. Who knows, the person responsible for buying may have changed, and suddenly you have an ‘in’. Same if their existing supplier has just let them down with something!

Remember – if you don’t call them, you have no chance of winning 😉

Hidden Revenue Area Number 4 – Your Existing Client Base

Interestingly, your existing client base can also be an area of ‘hidden’ revenue that you’re not currently unlocking!

Most companies I work with tell me they have ‘clients’ or ‘customers’. Yet what they really have is ‘transactions’. Unless you have locked down the majority (if not ALL) of your customers’ spend for the products and services you provide, you’re leaving money on the table!

Improve Sales ConversionsDo you have any idea what percentage of spend you have of your clients business? How much currently goes to you, and how much currently goes to your competitors (for the products and services that you could provide).

Customers will say things like ‘I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket’, or ‘we like to keep 2 or 3 suppliers on the go’. What they really mean is they’re not giving all their business to you! But they could be giving MORE of it to you!

If you can get an idea of how much they spend with others (and perhaps in what product areas), then you can get an idea what the potential for extra revenue is for you! Remember, we don’t need to take all the business off another supplier (and usually that isn’t possible), but you CAN get more of it to come to you!

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

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2017. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Aug 03

4 Big Lies Buyers Tell Salespeople (And What They Really Mean!)

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why buyers lie to salespeople…..and what they really mean when they say those things to you…….

I’m often amazed how many salespeople and business owners are surprised when, after we’ve de-briefed their sales meeting or phone call, they realise the ‘buyer’ or decision maker they were talking to has lied to them.

Do buyers lie? Of course they do! Having been one, I GUARANTEE you that’s the case!

In many cases the salesperson will actually defend the buyer – saying things like ‘well they’re just not ready to buy’, or ‘they have to see all the salespeople first and then make a decision’, or ‘they need to check with a couple of colleagues first’.

If there are any sales managers or directors that are hearing things like this from their sales team, then get in touch with me right now! What the salesperson often means when they say something like the above is ‘I haven’t done my job properly’ – yet not many are willing to admit it (and some aren’t even aware of it!)

So here are some phrases that buyers or decision makers will say to you or your team – and what they really mean…….

Buyer Phrase Number 1 – ‘I’m Happy With My Existing Supplier’

Don’t you just love this old chestnut? I’m still astounded when most salespeople fall for this one, and either exit the call or almost mentally ‘give up’ when they hear this phrase.

manhairThe average salesperson hears this so often, you’d think they would have learnt to deal with it by now, wouldn’t you?!!

When the buyer says something like ‘I’m happy with my existing supplier’, in most cases what they may actually mean is ‘I don’t know you well enough to consider you as an alternative supplier just yet’ or ‘I don’t like you as much as I like my existing supplier’ or even ‘Your call or visit has interrupted me and I’m going to use a phrase that gets rid of most salespeople (but might not even be true)’.

Yet still most salespeople hear this ‘objection’ and let it affect them in a negative way – and some don’t even get as far as asking another question. How crazy is that?!! Let’s be honest here – if this is your first decent conversation or visit with the potential new client, isn’t it fairly normal for them to be ‘happy’ with their existing supplier at this stage?

It’s your job as a salesperson to understand their current solution, and how your product or service adds value to what they’re trying to achieve with it. If you only relied on being ‘lucky’ as mentioned above – you’re missing out on the majority of your sales opportunities!

Buyer Phrase Number 2 – ‘I Need To Think About This And Come Back To You’

Another classic example of something a lot of salespeople fall for! I was doing some ‘field sales assessments’ where I attend appointments with the salesperson last week. The decision maker said to the salesperson ‘I need to think about this and come back to you’. The salesperson’s reply? ‘That’s fine, here’s my card. Give me a call when you’ve had time to decide, or need some help deciding.’

No, No, No, No, No! When someone says the phrase ‘I need to think about this and come back to you’ Fail Post Itwhat they might well mean is ‘I haven’t got enough information to be able to make a decision on this yet (or you haven’t given me enough!) What they might also mean is ‘I’m not sure about you, so I’m going to check you and your company out on the internet while you’re not here’. Or even ‘I’ve already decided not to use you but I’m not willing to tell you that!’

Whichever of those it is, leaving the appointment or phone call at this stage is the worst thing you can do! Even if they are considering you and truly thinking about it in more detail, what that means is that they’re going through that process (and even reaching their decision) without you being involved. What chance have you got of putting any element of persuasion into that process? None whatsoever! Not the best use of your sales skills, is it?

Buyer Phrase Number 3 – ‘I’m Under Contract At The Moment’

Another old favourite! Again something a lot of salespeople fall for. This has even got to the stage where the buyer or decision maker is starting to take the mickey out of the salesperson! I was out with a client doing some door-to-door cold calls last month when the salesperson was lucky enough to meet the decision maker when we walked in! What a great bonus you might think? Not if you don’t deal with it properly!

keep_existing_accountsThe decision maker’s first objection was ‘We’re under contract at the moment’. The salesperson replied ‘and when does that contract finish?’ (Which is a really stupid question by the way). The decision maker then said ‘Oh, not for another 5 years!!’

Now even though the salesperson knows that 5 year contracts don’t even exist in his industry, he still accepted it without challenging! Isn’t that crazy?

When a buyer or decision maker says the phrase ‘I’m under contract at the moment’, what they might well mean is simply ‘Go away!’ Or perhaps ‘I don’t want to be pitched by you right now’. Or even as a challenge, as in ‘Let’s see how he handles this one!’

Again if you fall for this, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

Buyer Phrase Number 4 – ‘I’ve Had A Better Price’

What a great negotiation tactic this is! Yet many salespeople don’t realise it and fall for it almost every time – particularly if they’re struggling for sales figures or income.

Often, when the buyer or decision maker says ‘I’ve had a better price’ what they may well mean is ‘Let’s see how much you can reduce your price by’ or even ‘Let’s get a cheaper quote from you, so I can go to my existing supplier and get their price down as well!’

Buyers and decision makers know this works because the salesperson’s first thought is ‘I need to drop Increase Costsmy price to get the deal’ rather than ‘I need to find out more about this’.

The conversation then turns to how much the buyer or decision maker wants the price reduced by – also known as ‘haggling’ – and in some cases the price ends up somewhere between 50-70% of what the salesperson originally stated.

The salesperson then justifies to themselves that what just occurred what necessary to ‘win the order’, whereas the buyer or decision maker thinks ‘Fantastic! Just got 30-50% off something I would have paid full price for!’

Not the outcome you really want as a salesperson, is it?

Want ideas on getting Buyers and Decision Makers to tell you the truth more often, and stop lying to you?  (like they do to most salespeople).

Call Andy on +44 (0) 161 401 0142 or Contact Andy here.

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010-2019. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Jul 14

5 Ways To Qualify Your Meetings Better

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston discusses 5 ideas that will help qualify your sales meetings with prospects better…..

Okay, so I’m a big fan of qualification. Qualification of the prospect. Qualification of the opportunity. Qualification of the individual. And most certainly, qualification of the meeting.

This is something that most salespeople miss (or are scared to do), that often comes back to haunt them later on in the sales process!

The task of qualification is made a little more difficult is someone else is making the calls for you, particularly if it’s not someone in your organisation, i.e. you’ve given the task to a telemarketing agency or similar. You now have two choices. You can either get the person making the initial call to do some qualification for you (if it’s an internal person) or make a call once the appointment has been booked to do some additional qualification yourself.

A good rule of thumb to use here is that the more time and energy you’re investing in an appointment (in terms of research, driving time, appointment time and paperwork), the harder you should qualify. Most salespeople should certainly thing twice about attending an appointment made for them “blind” – without much knowledge of the company, their potential needs or what they’re after.

If you haven’t made the appointment yourself, then it’s always a good idea to make a call to do some additional qualification. First of all, this will give you a good idea of the quality of the appointment, but it will also allow you to build up valuable rapport with the prospect and start to understand more about their potential needs – making the face-to-face meeting much easier.

Now I know some of you will be saying “But Andy, doesn’t that make it easier for them to cancel the meeting?” Yes, at some level it does. But let’s be realistic about it, an appointment that cancels when you ring them to do some additional qualification was very likely going to cancel anyway, or turn into a “no show” or an “I forgot you were coming”.

Also if it’s done in the right way, very few (if any) meetings cancel, and the ones that are attended are more serious!

So let’s take a look at the sort of things that we should consider qualifying or finding out before the meeting……

Qualification Question 1 – Is The Meeting With The Decision Maker/s?

I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many appointments are booked with people who aren’t the decision maker for what you offer! There are many reasons for this, ranging from people being scared to ask the question, just assuming the person the person they’re talking to is the decision maker and even the old favourite “I need as many appointments as possible to hit my activity target, so any appointment will do!”

Qualification Question 2 – Is There A Budget For The Product Or Service I’m Offering?

Now I know this is not needed for most salespeople, but for some of my clients it’s essential! The larger the purchase and the longer the sales cycle would mean that there has to be some sort of budget set aside, or “financial sponsor” in place, otherwise the project has little chance of moving ahead.

Qualification Question 3 – What Are Their Expectations Of The Meeting?

Are they expecting you to come and do a presentation? Or come and look at their challenges and suggest potential solutions? Or are they interested in what you have to offer? Depending on what their expectations are, the meeting will need to be prepared for and conducted in a different way.

Qualification Question 4 – What Solutions Have They Already Looked At?

How have they tried to solve the problem already? Have they looked at any of your competitors? What are the other solutions they could do? (including doing nothing).

Qualification Question 5 – Have You Confirmed All The Appointment Details?

This is the last step and one of the most important! I’ve lost count of the amount of salespeople who’ve told me that they’ve arrived at the wrong premises, for an appointment with someone who works at another office! Make sure you confirm time, date, location, who will be attending, any equipment or facilities needed etc.

Obviously the suggestions on the list above are purely ideas of qualifying questions you could ask. Depending on your market, your role and your industry you will have various things that you may need to qualify before it’s worth going to an appointment – including distance, potential spend, potential of future business etc.

The exact questions asked are entirely up to you. Just make sure you ask them and start to qualify your appointments properly!

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

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2017. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.