Category Archives for "General Sales Tips"

May 03

Sales Lessons From A Barber Shop…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what sales lessons we can learn from a barber shop…. and we can do to implement the learning to improve our own sales figures….

Recently I needed to get my hair cut. Those of you that know me know that I like to keep my hair fairly short, and therefore go to my local village hairdresser about every 2 weeks or so. On this occasion, the hairdresser wasn’t able to fit me in, and as I was travelling all around the UK as normal, I needed to find a hairdresser in central London.

So what do I do? Use the internet of course! I knew I wanted more of a barber than a hairdresser, as I’d heard horror stories of central London prices for a simple cut like mine being £50 or more.

Starting The Search…..

Therefore I searched for barbers in the London postcode that my hotel was in and looked at a few. A few of those were eliminated straightaway as they didn’t have websites – there’s a lesson there about being accessible! I was only looking for simple information – opening hours and pricing, but if I can’t even get that, you’re unlikely to be winning much business from that source.

Anyway, I managed to find a barbers that I liked the look of, was local to the hotel that I was staying at and was able cut my hair for £35 – not bad in central London I thought. Therefore I made a note of the address and opening times, and decided arrive there the minute they opened to get my hair cut and make the rest of my appointments for the day.

Now, before I tell you any more, there’s something really important here. £35 is nearly 3 times the price I pay for my haircut at my local hairdresser at home. Why was I willing to pay nearly 3 times as much for perceivably the same service?

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 1 – Be Convenient

Firstly, I was willing to pay a much higher price, because it was convenient! I was able to get the information I needed in order to make a buying decision. How many of you are preventing your customers from making buying decisions right now?

How convenient are you to your customers? If they need you out of hours, can they get essential information on your website? This was the first lesson – in the example above, some barbers that were more local to my hotel missed out on my business because they didn’t have a website! I wasn’t looking for anything fancy, just some basic information.

If they didn’t have that, they missed out on my business. How much business could you be missing out on right now by not being “convenient” enough to your customers or potential customers?

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 2 – Demonstrate Value

Secondly, I was happy to pay a much higher price because the barbers I chose were able to demonstrate value. Whilst I was looking for the basic information on price and opening times, the look and feel of the website was able to demonstrate value to me.

Classic yet contemporary, I immediately felt I was not just going for a haircut, but more of a time to relax and unwind. They’d obviously spent time thinking about their target customers and what they wanted and this was evident when they’d had their website put together.

How often do you demonstrate value to your customers or potential customers? Or is your website just a list of your products and services?

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 3 – Motivate Your Buyers

Thirdly, I was happy to pay a higher price because the barber shop got me motivated to spend my money! Once I’d been on their website and seen what they were about, I actually became more motivated and excited about spending my money with them.

I was motivated by their company brand as well as what they offered in terms of products and services (they also sold shaving and grooming products).

How often do we think about what would motivate and excite our buyers? How often do we include this within our core messages, whether that be from our salespeople, our marketing or our website?

If we’re looking for our buyers to be excited, motivated, and enthusiastic we need to help make them that way! If they’re bored, tired or disinterested when they examine our products and services, is it any wonder they don’t buy, or don’t buy as much as they could?

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 4 – First Impressions Are Vital

Fourthly, think about how crucial the first impressions of your business are to your customers or potential customers. The first impression of your company may come from one of your salespeople, your website, your marketing literature or even perhaps their first “inbound” phone call to your business.

It is imperative that you get this right – that is if you want to maximise your potential new business opportunities. If you don’t create that positive first impression of our business you may be missing out on business that you didn’t know existed – from a lot of potential customers that have chose to “walk away” rather than spend their money with you.

And this unfortunately was where the barber shop fell down. They managed to do the other 3 points really well, but failed to impress on this point which will result in them losing business.

The barber shop in question opened at 9am, so I decided in my wisdom that I’d turn up at 8.50am in order to get my hair cut, then get on with the rest of my appointments for the day. Finally at 9.25am, just as I was beginning to wonder what on earth had happened (no one was answering the phone either) a guy came to unlock the door and said “do you have an appointment?”

Was I The Inconvenience?!!

What on earth was he thinking? Talk about destroying most of the “goodwill” and any positive impression the shop had already built up with me! He arrived 25 minutes late and was asking me if I had an appointment, as if it was my fault!

In one sentence (added to the fact he was late) he managed to destroy most of my positive impressions and potentially lose future profitable business. I did proceed with my haircut, but left feeling a little deflated and like my expectations hadn’t been met.

Which lead me to wonder….how many of you do that to your potential customers? People who actually want their problems solved? People that are actively looking to spend money with you on a regular basis and you do something that prevents that from happening?

You can also ask any questions about this article or sales in general, by contacting Andy here

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

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

Apr 12

Sales Lessons From A Cupcake Shop…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains the ‘sales lessons’ you can learn from a cupcake shop, and what you can put into practice……. right now…… to increase your sales…..

This particular ‘Sales Lessons’ article was inspired by a visit to St Martins Tea Room and Grill, Bowness-On-Windermere – located in the Lake District, Cumbria, UK. The owner, Stephen, had created some amazing cupcakes and was looking at ways of selling and promoting them (and his tea room) better.

While I was there I gave him a few ideas for the business….. and so far they have made a significant difference to the way he’s promoting and selling the cupcakes! So I thought I’d share some of the ideas in order that you all can use them to increase your sales as well!

So, here are some of the ‘sales lessons’ we can learn from Stephen’s ‘cupcake shop’….

Sales Lesson Number 1 – You Don’t Have To Have A ‘Unique’ Product

cupcakes tall

One of the first things to realise is that you don’t necessarily have to have a ‘unique’ product to gain a market (or sales) advantage. As business gets tougher, and markets become more competitive, the chance of your product or service being ‘better’ than the competition is small…… and getting smaller by the day!

The speed at which your competition can copy you, your products and your service is quickening by the day – so therefore any ‘market advantage’ you could gain isn’t likely to be an advantage for long!

So if you don’t have a ‘market’ advantage, you have to make your own advantage – by being better, faster or more specialised than your competition, or your competitors salespeople.

The cupcake is not a new invention….. nor is it ‘exclusive’ to Stephen and his tearoom, yet because of the way he’s selling and marketing his home-made offering, it’s making a massive difference to the amount of people he’s getting in his tearoom – and the amount of sales he’s making!

Sales Lesson Number 2 – You Have To Get Excited First!

Sales Tips by Andy Preston - Sales Training Expert

I’ve met Stephen a few times now, and whenever I see him, he’s always excited about what he does! If you’ve seen me speak, you’ll know I’m a big fan of being passionate and excited about what you do – because if you want others to be passionate and excited about what you do, guess where it has to come from first? That’s right, you!

The way Stephen talks about his cupcakes and other cakes, you can’t help but get ‘drawn in’ and you’re far more likely to purchase! How passionate and excited are you about your products and services right now?…..

Sales Lesson Number 3 – Make It A Good ‘Experience

steve cupcakeFrom the moment you step into Stephen’s shop, you have a great experience! The food, the service and the quality all stand out! The cupcakes and other cakes are all home-made by Stephen himself and he takes time to ‘connect’ with every customer possible, so they’re coming back as much to see him as they are to experience the cupcakes!

By creating such a good, positive experience, Stephen is increasing the likelihood that people will return to his shop, and also tell their friends about it! This is where the real value comes in, as word-of-mouth advertising costs nothing, yet can be the most effective advertising of all!

What kind of ‘buying experience’ do you and your company provide your customers with? One that encourages them to ‘rave’ about how amazing you are to their friends and contacts? Or is it more of a ‘rant?’….

Sales Lesson Number 4 – Find Out Where Your Market Lives….

This is one of the most effective things that Stephen has done. When I originally met with him, I talked about the massive advantages Facebook could bring to his business. Now, those of you that have trained with me in the past know that I’m a MASSIVE fan of LinkedIn, but Stephen is selling business-to-consumer, not business-to-business, so that changes the ‘game‘ for him slightly….

His target market live on Facebook. They recommend and ‘share‘ things with their friends on Facebook. They post pictures of themselves with his cupcakes on Facebook! What better place to start his marketing and promotional activities, than somewhere his target market is already interacting?

Where does your target market ‘live?’ Are you marketing and selling to them in the most effective way at the moment?

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

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010-2017. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

May 10

Send Me A Proposal – 7 Things You MUST Do First!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

Write Successful Business Proposal

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains 7 things you need to consider finding out, before sending your proposal or quote to the prospect….

I’m often astounded when someone says ‘send me a proposal’ or ‘can I have a price on that’ to a salesperson, they go away and work on a proposal or quotation, then ‘blindly’ send it off to the prospect, just assuming it’s going to go ahead!

These same salespeople are the ones that wonder afterwards why they never hear from that prospect ever again!

If you follow these tips below, you and your team won’t get caught in that trap – and will not only convert more sales opportunities, but also be able to prioritise your time and have more idea which are likely to convert the fastest, for the most money!

So let’s have a look at the 7 things you MUST do, before sending that proposal….

Andy’s Tip No 1 – Establish FULL Specification Of The Project/Job

Full SpecificationThis might sound simple, but you’d be astounded how many salespeople fail to do this properly!  Most salespeople will get the majority of the specification down, but some have to call back a second time to get things they forgot, or that their colleagues tell them will be needed in order to produce an accurate quotation or proposal.  Some salespeople have to call back a third time to get information they failed to get on the second time!

You can imagine the impact this has on the prospect!  If you’re in a competitive market with other people ‘pitching’ for the work, you’ve put yourself on the ‘back foot’ before you’ve even started!  Not a clever move….

Andy’s Tip No 2 – Establish WHY NOW?  And WHY YOU?

These two areas are ESSENTIAL areas to question around in EVERY sales opportunity, not just at ‘proposal time’.  However, when someone says ‘send me a proposal’ and you DON’T get these answered, you’re setting yourself up for a fall.

You need to establish early on in your sales conversation how serious they are, and how serious the project/job is.  Even more important however is getting the WHY YOU bit answered.

The aim here is to uncover both the buying motivation, and also what chance you have of picking up this business!  Remember – the ‘fluffier’ the answers to the questions you ask here – the less likely you are to win the work!

Andy’s Tip No 3 – Establish Decision Makers and DM Process

The GatekeeperThis is again something that most salespeople fail to do properly!  Failure to establish the decision makers involved will mean that you could go all the way through the process, and then fall at the final hurdle as someone else comes in to influence the buying decision that you weren’t aware of!

Once you’ve identified the decision makers, you can then decide your approach for ‘engaging’ them.  It’s pointless knowing who they are without getting ‘airtime’ with them either over the phone or face-to-face, otherwise the same thing will happen as if you didn’t know who they were!

You also need to identify the process they’re going through in order to make the decision.  If they’re cagey about the process this time, it might be that the person you’re talking to is low-level in the organisation (and the decision).  In which case, simply asking about a previous process for similar projects will uncover most of what you need to know.

Andy’s Tip No 4 – Establish Their Other Options

Another word for ‘other options’ would be ‘competition’.  Yet I didn’t use the word ‘competition’ in the title because most salespeople then ask a question like ‘what other companies are you asking to quote on this?

Get Ready For Competition!That’s a bad question because the person you’re speaking to will know that you’ll gain an advantage by knowing that information, so will usually say that they ‘can’t tell you’ or ‘it’s confidential’.  Therefore you need to ask the question differently 😉

Asking about the other options they’re considering will usually set the platform for you to get information about other potential suppliers/vendors.  It will also get you vital information about ‘alternative competition’ – either them finding another way to achieve the results they want, doing it themselves in-house, or not doing it at all!

In addition, any other project they could spend money on right now is ‘competition’ to your proposal being auctioned and approved – so question around this area as well….

Andy’s Tip No 5 – Establish Their Timescales

Sales Time Scales

Another area you need to question around is their timescales.  In order to find out how serious they are about this project, you need to find out when they’re looking to move ahead.

Most salespeople make the mistake of only finding out about when the clients want to implement the project, or when they need to take delivery of the product.  If you only get this timescale then you’re missing out on something that’s potentially more important!

The other timescale you need to ask question about to uncover is when they are looking to make their decision on the project.  Just because they don’t want to implement the project for a few months, doesn’t mean that they aren’t deciding on it quicker than that!  Make sure you understand the timescales they have to buy in order to give yourself the best understanding of how to handle the proposal, and give yourself the best chance of winning it!

Andy’s Tip No 6 – Establish Budget Or Funding

It’s VITAL in ANY sales opportunity, let alone a proposal situation, that you identify budget or funding as early as possible.  As most decent-sized projects require money from someone’s budget, or the company to have thought about how they’re going to pay for it, failure to identify this can mean the project ‘stalling’ at the last minute – when you’ve put lots of time and effort into it!

Make sure that you’ve got the ‘budget’ area covered and you’ll reduce the risk of the project being put on hold, or shelved – plus it may also bring to your awareness other people involved in the buying process that you weren’t aware of! 

Andy’s Tip No 7 – Establish Commitment

handshakeThe final (and most important part) of ANY sales situation, and even more vital at proposal stage!  Now for those of you with a short sales cycle, you could also think of the word ‘closing’ here.  For those of you on longer sales cycles, usually with higher-value items or projects at stake, think about gaining commitment to the next stage and to yourself and your company.

Failure to get commitment to the project and/or next stage, and also to you and your company will mean that you’re likely to be disappointed when it comes to announcing who won the business…..and who lost it.  So gain commitment to ensure you end up in the winner’s enclosure!

So, make sure you take action on the above and the best of luck with your sales!

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

Apr 08

Email Selling Mistakes….

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

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. 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 don’t do 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.

The 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. You’re in field sales and you’ve had the meeting with a potential client ……the prospect then asks you to ‘send a proposal’……and you put it in an email. Really?!! Now you’re in trouble.

Why on earth didn’t you position your offering when you were face to face with the client? When you could read their body language and reactions to your offering (and your price) best….when you could judge whether you had got the proposal right or not?……when you had the best chance of getting them to say ‘yes’?

Even if you needed time to put the details together, why on earth didn’t you organise a second meeting to discuss it in more detail? Crazy! You’re giving other salespeople a better chance to win that business over you – why on earth would you want to do that?!!

Note – if you’re in internal sales or do most of your selling over the phone, it may not be practical to go out and see the prospect face-to-face, and if you can’t get them to come and see you, you’re almost ‘forced’ to send the proposal via email – however, you know when you do this it’s less persuasive.  As an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM you should have covered my ‘7 Things To Do BEFORE You Send A Proposal’ – otherwise I’m still going to be hard on you!!  Anyway, back to my ‘field sales’ example….

So Why Do Field Salespeople Send Quotes Or Proposals Via Email?

Normally field salespeople send quotes or proposals by email for a few reasons. The first reason is fear of rejection. It ‘hurts’ less to send it by email as at worst, they just send an email back saying ‘no thanks’ – much easier to deal with than them saying it to your face, isn’t it?

Or if they don’t reply to you (or send an email back saying they’re thinking about it) they haven’t really rejected you at all, have they? Can you see how that kind of thinking is holding you back from making more sales?!!

The second reason is laziness. You probably would say it’s because you’re busy, but it’s laziness. This is one of the most important parts of the sales process, and you’ve decided to email it because it’s ‘easier’! From an objective perspective, how stupid is that?!!

The third reason is because is ‘normally’ do it that way! Does that mean it’s the best way? Or even any good at all?!! Let’s think about this – it could be the most important part of the sales process, and you’re just sending it off into the ‘ether’ and hoping they’ll give you a positive response. Again – the more competitive the marketplace, the higher the price of your product/service and the longer the time elapsed from your initial conversation/meeting the less likely you are to get the business!

You can also ask any questions about this article or sales in general, by contacting Andy here

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.

Mar 29

3 Classic ‘Follow Up’ Mistakes Most People Make With Their Sales Calls…..

By Andy Preston | Cold Calling

Here’s the challenge…’ve spoken to a potential client in the past, and now they’ve come up again in your “follow up” list….

Now, depending on the quality of your “follow up” call, the opportunity for you to do business can be won or lost at this point. Which puts a lot of pressure on you for this call, doesn’t it?

It won’t surprise you to learn that the majority of follow up calls that I hear made are fairly poor (and some are truly awful) so here are a few mistakes you need to avoid, in order to get more business from your calls.

Mistake Number 1 – Being Desperate And ‘Lying’

Now I know we’re in sales (or have to do sales as part of our role), and sometimes we may have to “bend the truth” a little on occasion, but I’m not sure that outright lying helps our cause as a professional, trying to build profitable business relationships.

An example of a call I heard made earlier this month went like this…….”Hello Mr X, we spoke 3 months ago and you asked me to call back today to make an appointment with you”.

Why was this so bad? Not only because the potential client hadn’t said anything of the sort, but also because the salesperson had never even spoken to the client before!

What could that potentially do to your credibility in the eyes of the potential client? And if you’re speaking to a decision maker with any level of authority, expect to be challenged on it quite strongly with something like “No we did not” or “I don’t remember that” – leading to either an argument or a rapid climb-down on your part – and probably the end of the call.

Now whilst the above statement by the salesperson is quite unusual, it does have a similar, more common “cousin” – the “Hi we spoke 3 months ago and you asked me to call you back today”. Usually said by salespeople who are desperate and don’t have a better opening “statement” or in their misguided belief that lying will help get them “rapport” with the decision maker – not likely!

Mistake Number 2 – Talking About Literature (Or Emails)

Be warned – many of you are going to cringe when you read this one! A lot of you are probably guilty of doing this, and this may be painful reading for those amongst you still doing it.

The biggest mistake I see most people make when they follow up literature or an email is when they say something like this……

Hi Andy, it’s Fred from XYZ company, we recently sent you some literature…..I’m just calling up to make sure you received it…..

No, No, No, No and No! This is truly awful, yet how many of the calls I hear made go something like that? That’s right, nearly all of them! And a large number of you make a similar call, don’t you? Go on, be honest!

Let’s think about this for a minute….what are the two most likely responses from a decision maker that you don’t have that much rapport with? Something like “No I didn’t, would you please go through the same rigmarole again, just for my amusement?” Or how about the other option….”Yes I did, and I’ve got all the information I need right now, thank you”.

Where on earth are you going to take the call now?

Even if you’ve sent literature and been lucky enough to get the decision maker to take the call (as a request for information can often be an objection – but more about that in another article) you run the risk of the call being very short, with another “call back” scheduled for a later point in time, but without having moved forwards with the prospect in any way.

Mistake Number 3 – Having Endless Call-Backs

This is another big mistake that many people make without even realising it! Far too many salespeople end their previous call badly (or without a defined outcome). What kind of impact do you think that has on the potential success of their next call? That’s right, a negative one!

How do you think this affects your attitude when the call comes up in your “call back” list? Might the fact you got nothing from the first call and the person won’t even remember you in some cases play on your mind a little?

Of course it might! Have you ever had a situation where you’ve gone down your list of prospects and thought….”I’ll ring that one……(miss a few out) then that one…..(miss a few out)…then that one?

If you’re like most people, of course you have! One of the reasons for this “cherrypicking” is that you know you got nothing from the call last time and you’re worried that the same will happen this time and you’ll “ruin” the prospect.

Also, because your attitude has been affected, might that affect your confidence in making the follow up call a little? Might you sound a bit less certain? A bit more timid? Less likely to handle objections well and give up too easily? You bet!

Are You Falling Into The Classic Trap?

Therefore, most follow up calls start something like this…..”Hello Mr X, we spoke about 3 months ago about you xyx and I was just calling to see how things are going for you at the moment”……

Awful, awful, awful! Let’s imagine you were the senior decision maker you were trying to reach with that statement (you were going for the person who makes the decisions, weren’t you?!!). What would you think of a call like that, that interrupted you doing whatever you were doing to take the call? That it has real importance and value for your business? Or that it’s pretty much a waste of your time, exactly like most of the other calls you receive on a day-to-day basis? My guess is for the second one 😉

Is it any wonder that the response decision makers give to that sort of opening is something like “Things are fine. What do you want?” Hmmmm. Now we’re under even more pressure, aren’t we? It’s pretty hard to rescue the call from here, unless you just happen to get lucky (which may happen on occasion).

So, if you’re about to do a follow up call session, or try and reach people you’ve spoken to in the past, make sure you don’t make any of the mistakes shown above and you’ll have far greater successes with your calls!

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.

Apr 14

Stand Out Selling!

By Andy Preston | Andy Preston News

You may well have heard Andy speak, have read one of his articles or heard about Stand Out Selling. You may well be interested in how it works, or simply just curious about what it is!

In this article, we’ve transcribed part of an interview with Andy on the topic…..

So, What Is Stand Out Selling?

Stand Out Selling is my unique Sales Methodology, based on my background as a professional buyer, the top selling salesperson in the UK and now working all over the world to improve Sales Performance – over 50,000 people worked with in over 15 countries so far!

Its purpose is to help you stand out from your competition, close more deals, and win the business – even when you’re a higher price!

Where Does Stand Out Selling Come From?

From my own background! There are plenty of good sales methodologies and approaches on the market. Spin Selling, High Value Selling, Consultative Selling etc. I just found in my sales career that I couldn’t get any one of them to work on the majority of occasions – so I felt that I was leaving money on the table, and losing deals that I didn’t need to be losing!

That’s what made me find my own way of selling… in a market where I had over 150 direct competitors on my territory, selling pretty much the same thing…usually at a cheaper price…. that took me to the top salesperson in the country.

Then when I moved into running a sales team, I started put down what I did – to become very successful – into a process and structure of techniques, tactics and strategy that was proven to work in the majority of circumstances!

So, How Does Stand Out Selling Differ From Other Methodologies?

As I mentioned before, there are plenty of good sales methodologies on the market – although some salespeople haven’t been trained in them! The beauty of Stand Out Selling however is that it doesn’t ‘replace’ any current behaviour, strategy, techniques or sales systems you may be using (and probably getting a level of results from).

Stand Out Selling ‘fits over the top’ of them and complements them! Meaning that it can be used in conjunction with any selling style, any methodology, in any market!

The key to Stand Out Selling is that it has the ‘Person’ at its core. It’s about differentiation in the sales process, being seen as the provider of choice, and the prospect wanting to buy from you! That changes the whole selling process around, and makes it much easier!

Why Does Your System Get Better Results?

I guess if you asked my clients they say things like ‘cuts through the ‘theory-style’ sales training that often doesn’t work in the real world’, ‘helps people improve sales immediately without destroying what they do now’ and ‘deals with the biggest problems salespeople are facing right now – and solves them’.

Stand Out Selling focuses on how people make buying decisions – then aligns the sales process to that – resulting in less resistance and objections, better closing ratios and more revenue and profit at the end of the process!

It embraces ‘Digital Selling’ – ways to use digital technology to increase our ‘win chance’ in the sales process. That includes using online networking sites like LinkedIn, influencing people through ‘sales persuasive’ emails and Online Chat and other digital tools to make people more likely to buy from you!

In short, it helps you sell more, more often! Which is why that’s our company strapline, and our focus anytime we work with a client!

And as for results, I believe client testimonials speak for that, far better than I can! I’d suggest looking at the recommendations from people I’ve worked with on my LinkedIn Profile…. 275+ people can’t be wrong!

So How Do We Find Out More About Stand Out Selling?

Simply call the office on +44 (0)161 401 0142, or send me a message over LinkedIn, and I’ll be happy to see how Stand Out Selling can help you and your team Sell More, More Often!

This article is copyright Andy Preston 204-2017. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Mar 04

Sales Lessons From Roberto Martinez

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

This article was written when Roberto Martinez was manager of Wigan Athletic. The lessons are still valid, even though Roberto has since moved on to other clubs….

I was lucky enough to be invited to a lunch recently with the Wigan Manager, Roberto Martinez. I was impressed with both what he talked about, and his philosophy on the game. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m a big fan of the link between sports performance and sales performance, so in this article you’ll find some of what Roberto said, and how it relates to sales. Enjoy!

Sales Lesson No 1 – Fans Are Really Important…

One of the most impactful things Roberto shared was that fans really make a difference. When your own fans are loud, it makes a difference to the team. Supportive fans give the players a ‘mental boost’ and a feel good factor – they make a massive difference to the players and how they feel.

On the flip side, when your own fans are quiet, players make mistakes, negative comments from the crowd give impetus to the opposition, and affects both teams and the referee. So the fans are really, really important!

So in a sales context, who are YOUR fans? Who supports you when times are tough? Who gives you the ‘mental boost’ when you need it? Do you get that from your own company? Your friends and family? How about your own ‘inner voice?’ Does that support you? Or knock you down?

You can also use the the power of ‘fans’ in another way. Think about how often people are influenced or persuaded to do something (or at least be more likely to) by the behaviour of others! Think about how you can use that by including case studies or testimonials more in your sales efforts. Particularly if you can get them as a ‘reference site’ – so that prospects can call them, or you can get their testimonial on video, and have it on your iPad or laptop to show straightaway – very powerful.

Sales Lesson No 2 – Manage From The Technical Area!

One of the other guests asked Roberto a question regarding why managers watch games from the bench, rather than in the stand, where you can see more of the strategy of the game going on?

Roberto’s answer was fascinating. He replied that he much prefers to ‘manage’ the game from the technical area, stood on the side of the pitch, as close as possible to the players. The reason for this is that you get to know the players and how they’re playing… he can tell from their breathing patterns if they’re tired, concentrating (or not), he needs to take them off or make a change in the team’s approach for example.

He finds this far more useful than watching from the stands – where you can see more of the ‘strategy’ of the game, but you don’t get the insight into the individual players as much.

So how does this apply to you? Well if you’re a manager, then getting ‘up close’ to your team members will definitely help you to understand what’s going on in their heads, their levels of motivation and confidence, how they’re applying their sales skills and tactics in meetings etc, rather than managing by ‘figures’ back in the office.

If you’re a salesperson, and don’t have that ‘hands on’ interaction from your manager, it’s about knowing yourself… when you need to re-energise…. and having tools like this blog, audios in the car or reading books regularly to keep your own levels of confidence and motivation up! Then putting them into practice in your own ‘technical area’ – your sales meetings!

Sales Lesson No 3 It’s Harder To Manage When You’re Losing

One of the best comments of the day came from Roberto when he said ‘it’s harder to manage when you’re losing!’ Now that might seem an obvious comment to make, but it was the context in which he made it that was very insightful.

Roberto was talking about when he moved from Swansea to Wigan. One of the biggest things he had to get used to was losing! From going from Swansea (who at the time were winning the vast majority of their matches, 9 out of 11 before his move) to Wigan (who weren’t!) was a big change.

It wasn’t so much the players that were the difficulty – Roberto could work on their confidence and motivation – it was the non-playing staff at the club that were the bigger issue!

He went on to say that if a team doesn’t win in 2 months for example, motiving the non-playing staff is much more difficult that you would initially appreciate. It’s very easy for their heads to drop and get de-motivated, and that feeling spreads through the club really quickly if you’re not careful!

So think about you and perhaps your organisation (or the people you spend your time around most). Very often it can be the non-playing (non-sales) staff that are affected most when a company is struggling. The Customer Service staff when complaint levels rise. The Administration staff when orders are taken wrongly. Project Management or Operational staff when we’re trying to get something done ‘differently’ to the usual process. Management when the company doesn’t win the big deal they were hoping for.

We need to keep them motivated as well – especially if, as a salesperson, we rely on them to ‘back us up’ in delivering our products or services to customers and prospects! How motivated and helpful are your non-sales staff right now?

Sales Lesson No 4 – What Would You Do With More Resources?

One of Roberto’s most interesting comments came when the person next to me asked him ‘Roberto, if there was a takeover of Wigan right now and you had lots more money to spend, where (or who) would you spend it on first?’

His answer was very interesting! Roberto said that the very first thing he would do would be to look at getting his younger, most promising players on longer-term contacts, on a higher wage, so that he could retain them longer and stop the ‘big clubs’ poaching them.

At the moment, as soon as one of his younger players plays well for a number of games, they suddenly start attracting the attention of the bigger clubs…. and the wages they offer (as well as the opportunity) mean that they often move on quickly. With more resource, Roberto would then be able to afford longer-term contracts and higher wages to be able to keep that talent for another season or two, which would have massive benefit for the club.

This was Roberto’s immediate preference in terms of spending money, rather than bringing in ‘bigger name’ players with a high transfer fee, his preference was to keep his existing culture and work with what he’s got for longer – rather than risk disrupting the culture that he’s worked hard to build, by bringing in a number of players from elsewhere at high fees – like many other clubs would do.

So if you had more resource at your disposal right now (money, assistance) what would you do? Would your first answer have been to work with what you already have? Improve the skills of yourself or your existing team members? Or is your immediate assumption something else?

Sales Lesson No 5 – Teams Adapt When You Play Well…

This was another great point Roberto made when he was talking about how other teams have ‘stepped up’ when they’ve come to Wigan this season. As a result of their run of wins at the end of last season, they were more on the ‘radar’ of other teams than before, and the other teams had adapted their play to counteract Wigan’s style.

Before the other teams would have concentrated on their own game, but now they were focusing on Wigan were trying to do as well – and how to stop it! Whilst Roberto saw that as a great compliment, it also made things more difficult than before!

This also happens in sales. When competitors (and particularly competitors sales reps) don’t see you as much of a threat, they focus on themselves and their offering. When you become more successful (or win some clients from them) they suddenly start paying more attention to you, and selling against you.

That’s the exact time you need to step your own game up another level. The time your objection handling, negotiating and your other core sales skills need to come to the fore. The time you need to sell better against your competition again, and the time you need to ensure your own mindset isn’t affected! Game on!

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.

Oct 28

Sales Lessons From The Lance Armstrong Fiasco….

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

This article was originally written a dew months after Lance Armstrong was accused of using performance-enhacing drugs. The lessons are still valid, even though it’s now some time since that happened….

Well. It’s been an interesting few months for Lance Armstrong, hasn’t it?!! I must admit, when the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) allegations started coming out a few months ago, as a Lance ‘fan’, I was quick to defend him – coming from a family affected by cancer as many are, I loved his book ‘it’s not about the bike’ and found his story inspirational, coming back from cancer twice to win the Tour De France 7 times.

I was even on his side when USADA tried to take him to court with the ‘evidence’ they had compiled, and his statement about him stopping resisting it anymore because of the impact on his family etc (see Lance’s statement here)

I could relate to him having had enough of ‘fighting’ allegations for years, the effect it had on his family, the fact that he’d never (allegedly) failed a drug test, etc etc.

But Then More Evidence Came Out….

The more ‘evidence’ that came out against Lance, the more I looked into it.

When I saw the statement and the evidence provided by USADA (see their evidence here) read that page, as well as their ‘reasoned decision pdf’ and the ‘appendices and supporting material’ (both tabs on the webpage above) and the fact that Nike and other sponsors looked into it and decided to drop their sponsorship – I started to change my mind.

In light of all that evidence against him, I now believe it was highly likely that Lance DID take performance enhancing drugs and use blood transfusions etc to gain a competitive advantage. It’s pretty hard to think otherwise when you see all that evidence.

I have heard some people still defending him, saying that ‘if they were ALL taking drugs, it was a level playing field, and he still won’. I understand that argument, but it’s not correct. A large number of riders, probably most of the participants, were doping – if the stories now coming out are to be believed.

But the race still wasn’t ‘fair’. It wasn’t about the skill of the rider. Their endurance. Their ability to ride through the pain barrier and still come out on top.

It appears now to have been about who was the most skilled at doping…. and not being caught.

That’s a shame, as at the very least it’s tainted what Lance had achieved and done for so many people.

So what sales lessons can we learn from this?

Sales Lesson No 1 – If You Make A Mistake – Put It Right, Fast!

The first Sales Lesson we can learn from this is that if you make a mistake, put it right fast! Most of the time, if you or your company make an error, the quicker you tell the customer and the quicker you put it right, the better it is for your reputation, your relationship, and your chance of repeat sales.

The more you procrastinate on a problem, hoping it will go away, the more damage you do to your own reputation, and your chances of more business from that particular client. In these days of social media, small problems can magnify quickly and spread a piece of bad news faster than previously possible – make sure you and your company don’t fall victim to this by sorting out customer problems and complaints quickly!

Sales Lesson No 2 – Selling Is All About EMOTION

It’s been interesting to watch both sides of this debate. And how much people have got stirred up by it. How much they’ve been strongly defending Lance, and others have been strongly opposing him and saying how much he’s let everyone down etc etc.

Ultimately this has stirred up emotions within people. And that’s what selling/buying does.

Good salespeople sell on emotion. They transfer emotions from themselves to the buyers in the sales process. You can hear over the phone when someone is confident…. certain……positive…… and when they’re not!

So, what emotions are you currently transferring to prospects in your sales process right now? Positive ones that are MORE likely to help them buy from you. Or ones like bored, tired and disinterested instead?

Sales Lesson No 3 – Focus On The 2%

A lot of people trying to defend Lance, talk about his taking of performance enhancing drugs and blood transfusions ‘not affecting performance that much’. That much is true. In fact in his New York Times article in August, a previous team-mate of Lance, Jonathan Vaughters stated that the difference all the doping made was only about 2%

2% in the Tour De France however is the difference between finishing around 100th place… and winning the thing! So that little 2% matters quite a lot!

So that got me thinking about Sales. What are YOUR 2% things that make the difference?

Is it making those extra calls you’ve been putting off? Working on your objection handling to make sure you don’t get ‘stumped’ by them? Working on having more of a ‘top performer’ mindset?

Think about what things would be the 2% things for you…. And those 2% things could make all the difference!

Sales Lesson No 4 – If You Cheat, You’re Cheating Yourself

We’ve all heard phrases like ‘cheats never prosper’ or ‘you’re only harming yourself’. But what does this actually mean for us in Sales terms?

In Sales, most people aren’t able to ‘cheat’ on a scale that Lance Armstrong has allegedly done. But what are the things that you do to ‘cheat’ yourself out of things?

Not preparing enough for Sales Meetings or important phone calls? Not striving to perform at your best a much of the time as possible (legally!). Not being ‘on your game’ as much as you could be? Not doing the extra things you know you ‘could’ do that would make a difference to your figures?

By taking ‘shortcuts’ or not doing the above, you’re just cheating yourself out of what you could achieve. And in the end, it affects you more than anyone else.

The more evidence I hear against him, the less impact Lance’s amazing feats (like this one) have on me.

And I’m left wondering what to do with the Livestrong band on my desk… and the montage of Lance Armstrong pictures on my wall. I just don’t have the same emotion about them anymore…..

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.

Oct 25

Sales Failure 4!! Manchester United 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 Zoe from Manchester United (no point trying to change the names as it’s all over the press and websites already!).

Zoe attempted to ‘sell’ some premium executive seating via email recently, and the furious reaction her email received serves as a useful example to dissect her approach – and examine the lessons you can learn from it – in order to improve your own sales approaches and increase your sales!

Here’s an excerpt of the article in the Manchester Evening News…

Manchester United have been forced to issue an embarrassing apology after they offered sought-after derby tickets as a sweetener to potential corporate clients.

The Reds contacted would-be customers via email and told them that if they paid upwards of £1,539 for posh seats and executive boxes at Old Trafford for the rest of the season, they would receive two tickets for the clash with City at the Etihad Stadium in December.

Derby tickets are hugely desirable. Around 2,600 were allocated to the Reds last season – there were 20,000 applicants – and the incentive has prompted a furious reaction from supporters.

But the club said although the offer was discussed, it was subsequently scrapped and should not have been sent out to potential new customers. The tickets that would have been used would have come from the staff allocation, club bosses added.

The offer was emailed out by business development executive Zoe Beckett.

But when news of the offer spread, she was contacted by a number of furious Reds. Several of them wrote to Ms Beckett who issued the apology.

Zoe had to apologise…

In response to one she wrote: “Firstly please accept my apologies as I understand that this has caused offence. We were given a very small handful of tickets as an incentive to gain new business as we are further into the season. I do understand that you are long-standing supporters of the club and we do appreciate your support throughout the years. I will speak to my manager about this matter.”

Replying to another, she wrote: “We had two pairs (of tickets) available. However, they were released from another department and not from the executive club allocation. I am really sorry and I understand why you are frustrated… I can promise that it won’t happen again.”

Dale Haslam, editor of fans’ website Reds Away, said: “The club has a policy which states only executive members, season ticket holders and players can gain access to away tickets and this shocking marketing move flies in the face of that.

Some fans pay around £1,200 a year just to be able to apply for away games and yet do not get a single away ticket for the entire season. And yet in this case, a high roller would have been able to pay about £2,000 for an executive package and stroll into the City game – the most-wanted ticket of the season – without even having to apply.”

Okay, so let’s dissect Zoe’s approach…

Now, aside from the fact that she’s tried to start her ‘sales relationship’ by ‘Selling By Email’ – a MAJOR error in my opinion as I write in my ‘Selling By Email – 5 Mistakes’ article!

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

Sales Failure Lesson No 1 – Don’t Use Email To Try To ‘Sell’ or ‘Persuade’

Email is a communication tool designed to inform or notify the recipient of information that they need. It is not persuasive – if it was, salespeople would just send their PowerPoint presentation to a prospect – without ever meeting them – and then win the business!

Yet you won’t find many Salespeople doing that! That’s because it’s lazy, ineffective and often causes problems like in this instance – with Manchester United.

Sales Failure Lesson No 2 – Don’t Make Them an Offer BEFORE Qualifying the Prospect

Another mistake salespeople make is not qualifying the prospect BEFORE making their offer. Therefore, they have no idea how they (or their offer) are seen by the potential buyer.

Making an offer without qualifying the prospect is like turning up for a first date, talking about yourself all night, taking no interest in the other person whatsoever, and then wondering why the other person doesn’t call you back about a second date!!

Don’t fall foul of this – make sure you qualify your prospects properly first and make offers that are likely to be accepted by them!

Sales Failure Lesson No 3 – Stop Using Email To ‘Initiate’ Your Sales Process!

A large number of salespeople use email to start their sales process! Often that’s the WORST place to use it!

Anything you put in writing to a client ‘can and potentially will be used against you’ as the saying goes. Its far better to make offers verbally over the phone or face to face to gauge the prospect’s reaction to your offer (or sales incentive), tweak it where necessary, then email to confirm what has already been agreed.

This avoids all the problems that Manchester United have encountered in this circumstance!

So, make sure you use email to CONFIRM what’s already been agreed, not to initiate your sales process.

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.

Oct 18

Sales Lessons From The Mercedes Benz Factory

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading sales expert Andy Preston talks about the sales lessons you can learn from the Mercedes Benz factory….…..

On a prior trip over to the Mercedes Benz factory in Bremen, Germany to collect a new Mercedes, I noticed a number of things that would be useful ‘sales lessons’ for us all to be aware of. Read the article in full and improve your sales figures (and those of your team) by putting the lessons into practice!

Sales Lesson Number 1 – Work The Process

On the factory tour itself, it was fascinating to find out that the whole factory operates on a ‘conveyor’ system, at different levels. Everything is timed and they know how long each procedure should take before the cars move onto the next ‘station’. Should they fall a few cars behind schedule however, it’s not as if you can get a few people to come in on a saturday to ‘catch up’ – the entire factory has to be there as everything relies on small jobs on each station before moving on the next one!

The sales lessons we can take from this is to think about our own prospecting ‘process’. In order for it to work as effectively as possible, it needs to be consistent, not stop-start! One of the biggest traps salespeople fall into is only prospecting when they’re quiet – yet only prospecting on a consistent basis will being consistent sales figures!

Otherwise we leave ourselves open to the ‘sales roller coaster’ effect – our sales figures alternative between good and plain awful because we don’t keep prospecting when we’re busy!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 2 – Focus On The ‘Handover’

The ‘handover’ is a key part of the process in sales, just as much as it is in the car business! Think about the ‘handover’ you and your company may have to do at the moment. It might be a handover between colleagues, such as a salesperson and a project manager, or a salesperson and an account manager for example. It might even be a ‘handover’ form the salesperson to the customer, or a delivery person to the customer. Whatever is the case, it’s a vital part of the process – and also an area where a lot can go wrong!

The ‘smoothness’ of the handover counts for a lot – and is often the part when things go wrong! Whether it’s the salesperson not preparing the account manager or project manager properly, or not managing the customer ‘experience’ well, this part usually needs more focus than most people tend to give it!

Mercedes excel at this part. A specially created coffee lounge where all the new owners sit and their cars are driven into the ‘handover’ part of the showroom, everything is checked and you’re given a ‘tour’ of your new car and what it can do.

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 3 – Do Something ‘Extra’ They Don’t Expect

Lots of people talk about ‘adding value’ to their customers. Lots of companies bang on about their ‘value proposition’ and how they excel at customer service. Yet most miss the opportunity to create even more buyer-loyalty by failing to ‘wow’ them with a simple gesture!

Doing something ‘extra’ that they don’t expect – yet you know will be viewed as valuable to the customer – is one of the best ways of creating more enthusiastic and loyal customers, and more importantly, generating a stream of referrals! Yet most people still don’t do it!

For Mercedes it was simple. Providing a map of sights and visitor attractions for a few miles around the factory was useful, as was the customer service staff member casually mentioning that because they knew I had a long drive back to the UK, they’d made sure my new Mercedes had a full tank of petrol at no extra charge!

Now, am I naive enough to think that they ‘only’ did that for me? No. Am I daft enough to imagine it was something special they dreamed up on the spot? No again. But did it create loyalty, gratitude and a great impression nonetheless? Of course!
So how can you create that yourself in your sales process?….

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 4 – Follow Up Swiftly After They’ve Bought

One of the most critical parts of the sales process is what happens just AFTER the new client has purchased from you!

This is an area that most salespeople neglect, as often they’re not involved once the customer has bought, or have moved on to other prospects! Some time taken here to speak to the new customer can help avoid buyers remorse, solve any difficult issues, and also be a good time to ask for referrals and testimonials!

It also creates the impression that you care about more than just getting the ‘sale’, and therefore deepens the salesperson/customer relationship – and that’s never a bad thing for business going forwards!

Mercedes excel in this area. Not only is the salesperson in touch a few days after you getting/taking delivery of your new vehicle to see how things are going, but they also have an independent customer survey call afterwards to see how they performed!

Now I’m not saying that you have to go to those lengths, but if you or your colleagues put in a call swiftly after your customers have purchased from you, would that help your sales figures going forwards? You’re damn right it would!

Follow the tips above and watch your performance and that of your sales team soar!  I look forward to hearing about your future success…. 

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

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