Category Archives for "General Sales Tips"

Oct 24

Sales Lessons From The Rugby World Cup

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains the sales lessons we can learn from The Rugby World Cup……and how we can implement them to benefit from increased sales….

 

After 6 weeks, the Rugby World Cup is at an end, and most rugby fans are wondering what on earth they used to do early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, instead of watching the rugby!

So now the teams and their managers have the opportunity to reflect on what went wrong (or right) for them and what lessons they can learn from it for the future. So what can we as salespeople, managers and directors learn from it?

 

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 1 – Decide On Your Best Plan – And Stick To It!

One of the reasons the critics pointed to for England’s early exit at the Quarter Final stage against France was that they didn’t seem to pick a settled team, or at least in key positions. They seemingly couldn’t decide whether to play Jonny Wilkinson or Toby Flood at fly-half for example, and had a number of other constant changes within the team.


So what does this mean for us in a ‘sales’ context? Simply that when deciding on a strategy or ‘plan of attack’ to try and win a customer or account that you need to pick your best strategy and stick with it!

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when you need to realise things aren’t working and change your approach, but doubting your initial plan is a recipe for failure!

Self-doubt is one of the biggest causes of lost sales, and therefore lost commission for the salesperson! Once even an element of self doubt creeps in – whether it’s about the approach, the people involved, or even the chances of winning the business, you’d be amazed how quickly the deal seems to disappear down the drain!

So in order to avoid this, work out your best plan for winning the business and stick to it!

 

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 2 – Find The ‘Angle’

Often when I’m working with Sales Teams, I talk about ‘finding the angle’ – that helps prospects see the value in what you’re offering, and enables you to win profitable business, at a decent margin.

There is a great example of ‘finding the angle’ from an enterprising individual, based in Napier where the Canadian team were based for their games. You’ve probably heard about 3 members of the Canadian team growing beards for the tournament as they’ve been regularly featured in the press for a couple of months now.

In New Zealand, a particular local individual, Denis O’Reilly, spotted some fake ginger beards for sale at a discount store out of town. Spotting the opportunity, he immediately bought out the entire stock and out them on display right at the front of the village shop in Napier!

As Denis thought, ‘Beardo-Mania’ hit town as soon as the Canadians arrived and the beards sold out very quickly – giving Denis a very nice profit for his great idea.

So my question on this point is ‘Are you as good at finding the angle as Denis?’ Think about it when you next go for a client meeting. If you ‘find the angle’, you’re more likely to win the deal, and more likely to make it more profitable too!

 

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 3 – Be Prepared To ‘Grind Out’ A Result

As the group stages finished, and the so-called ‘2nd tier’ nations went home, the high-scoring group matches were a thing of the past, and the games were much closer from then on.

The victories might not have been as ‘pretty’, but it often came down to the teams abilities to grind out a result, even when the losing team had periods of the match where they were on top – Wales vs France and NZ vs France in the final for example.

There are also times in sales where you need you need to be prepared to grind out a result. Usually doing the activities that you least like doing, but are necessary in order to get the final result you want.

Prospecting would definitely be one of those activities, and cold calling in particular! The salesperson that’s prepared to roll their sleeves up and grind out a result when things aren’t going their way has far more chance of getting their desired result in the end, than the salesperson who gives up too early.

So my question is, when the going gets tough are you prepared to grind out the result? Or are you one of those people that gives up too easily?

 

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 4 – Be Strong In Key Areas

Another big lesson in the Rugby World Cup was to make sure you and your team are strong in key areas. A large number of games were decided by key areas like the scrum, line outs and goal kicking.

The try that won the final for the All Blacks was a set move. Line out with two men jumping (in order to confuse the opposition), quick ball down to the forward who darts through the gap between the two – resulted in the try that helped win the game for New Zealand!

The New Zealand coaching staff admitted afterwards that the play was a ‘set move’ they’d saved all tournament – and it ended up winning it for them.

So, giving this a sales context, think about the key areas for you and your team. What are yours? Maybe they’re things like objection handling? Negotiating? The ability to make appointments? Questioning? Closing?

And when it comes to the crunch and you need to pull out a ‘set play’, can you count on your ability to be successful? Or will you be found wanting?

 

Andy’s Sales Lesson No 5 – When The Call Comes, Be Ready!

Interestingly in sales, you don’t often know when the ‘call’ will come!

Take the example of All Black, Stephen Donald. He wasn’t chosen in the final squad for New Zealand for the World Cup, and there were 3 other players chosen in front of him in his position, including the probably the best Number 10 in the world, Dan Carter.

He therefore went on a fishing trip with his friends, drinking beer and catching whitebait. Yet when all 3 number 10’s ahead of him were injured, he found himself not only in the squad, but coming off the bench in the final to kick the points that won New Zealand the World Cup!

In sales, there are times when you don’t have the best preparation. Times when not everything will have gone your way. Times when things don’t seem fair and everything seems to be against you.

But those are the times you need to step up, and be ready to make the difference in the crucial moments!

So my final question to you is, when the ‘call’ comes, will you and your team be ready to step up and kick the winning goal? Or will you be found wanting?….

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

Mar 23

Is Sales All About ‘Luck?’

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what impacts your sales that people label as ‘luck’…..but might actually be something else….

You know, I’ve lost count of the amount of times someone has called another person ‘lucky’. And that situation happens just as much in sales, as it does in other aspects of life!

This article was inspired by a business contact asking me ‘Andy, what impact do you think that ‘luck’ has on the sales process, or the salesperson themselves?’

I thought that was a great question, and it deserved longer than just a quick reply – so I’ve put my thoughts below for everyone else to see as well…..

So How Much Of Sales Is About ‘Luck?’

In my opinion? Very little. You’re probably aware of the famous quote from golfer Gary Player ‘the harder I practice, the luckier I get’. It’s normally down to something else, rather than just ‘luck’ or ‘fate’.

It’s very easy for someone to label something as ‘lucky’ – especially if they don’t understand what has occurred to produce that piece of ‘luck’.

It’s very unusual for something to occur just by ‘luck’ – there’s usually some sort of event, or behaviour, that triggers an action – which may be perceived as ‘luck’.

How About An Example For Sales?

Here’s an example. This year, in the first hour, of the first working day we received an email from a new client, saying that they wished to go ahead with a substantial piece of work. This occurred without any phone calls from us this year, or any contact, or anything!

Would you call that luck? Because some people would! Let’s explore the circumstances behind that ‘luck’…

The new client had contacted us looking for someone to speak at their company events and train their sales team. Their approach to us started in the middle of last year. They came to see me speak at a large conference, and then train a smaller group of people twice.

They asked us to come in and present to the board of directors, along with 5 other speakers and training companies. They then asked to speak to a number of people we’d worked with in the past to see what their experience (and results) had been.

They then had to get budget approved for the whole programme, and sent us the email on the first working day, once budget had been approved.

So What Impact Did ‘Luck’ Have In The Process?

PAs you’d expect, I was interested in what impacted the new client’s buying decision to come to us, rather than one of the other companies they were originally talking to.

Their answer was a combination of our approach, my ‘style’ as a speaker and presenter, how we planned to structure the programme, how professional we were to deal with as a company, the proposal we submitted, the presentation we gave, and the results we had got for the clients they spoke to.

That seems like a lot of things influencing the process, just to put it down to ‘luck!’

So How Can YOU Get That Kind Of ‘Luck?’

In this content, I like to describe what other people call ‘luck’ as ‘R.O.P.E’ – which stands for Return-On-Previous-Efforts.

In sales, effort usually comes before results in most cases. In other words, you have to do the activity first, before you can reap the rewards later.

And the more ‘new business’ the activity is, the more pertinent that rule becomes! It applies to cold calling over the phone, cold canvassing face-to-face, networking, following up leads or mailshots, and pretty much every other business development activity!

The difficulty always is that at the time those activities feel as though they were pointless – as you got no reward at time! Those rewards only come later – IF you continue to do those activities!

THE WORST thing that you can do is to stop doing those activities, seeing them as ‘pointless’ or ‘not the best use of my time’ – because then you’re not going to get the rewards that would come from those activities later! This is a common trap that most people fall into. And the longer the sales process is in your organisation, the bigger the gap between your efforts and your results – make sure you don’t give up too soon!

So What Sort Of Activities Should We Be Doing To Have More ‘Luck’?

What sort of activities should we be doing in order to have more luck? Pretty much any business development activity! As long as it’s done in the right way of course.

In order to get the most amount of ‘luck’ on your side, you need to do these activities on a CONSISTENT basis. ‘Occasionally’ or ‘when we’re quiet’ just won’t cut it I’m afraid.

You should be scheduling those ‘new business’ activities in your diary, just like any other appointment! And if you’ve been to any of my seminars or training sessions, you’ll know I often say that they should be the first thing IN your diary, and the last thing to be moved OUT of your diary – they’re critical to your future business, so don’t mess around with them!

Remember, Sometime You Have To Deal With ‘Jealousy’

In sales, sometimes you have to deal with other people’s jealousy.

It could be the jealousy of another member of your sales team that’s annoyed because you got a piece of business in, and they didn’t. It could be the jealousy of a ‘non-sales’ member of staff that knows you’re on commission, and they’re not. Or it could even be jealousy from a family member or friend that knows you’re going to earn more than them.

Whoever it is that may be ‘jealous’ of your success, you need to come to terms with the fact that it’s not necessarily about you, it’s just something that’s reminded them that they’re not performing as well as they could be in some area – and that’s the thing that’s causing them to act in that way, not you.

So, Can Luck Have ANY Impact?

I think there are certain occasions when you can be ‘fortunate’. For example when a competitor does something that rules them out of the sales process. Not sending an email for example, turning up late for their appointment, or delivering an awful presentation.

When it’s something that someone else doesn’t (or doesn’t do) then I can see the argument for that not being solely down to your indivdual efforts. However, I do think there’s some truth in the argument that because you’ve done things well in the process so far, it’s made it easier for the potential new client to remove your competitor from the process!

Now get out there and start doing some new business activity, so In a few months you can look back and smile as you start getting the Return-On-Previous-Efforts!!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..
This article is copyright Andy Preston 2011. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.
Feb 27

7 Ways To Stay Ahead Of The Competition In 2011……

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains 7 ways that you can stay ahead of your competition in 2011….. and what you need to be doing to ensure customers are coming to you, rather than your competitors…..

Whenever I’m talking to salespeople or business owners, a question I’m often asked is ‘Andy, how can I ensure I stay ahead of my competitors?’ So here are 7 things that you can implement to ensure that you stay ahead of your competition for 2011 and beyond!….

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

In order for you to stay ahead of the competition in 2011, the first thing you need to do is ‘ringfence’ your existing customers.  More and more companies are looking to replace lost revenue and profitability through acquiring new business – and some of the ‘new business’ your competitors are targeting will include your existing accounts!

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 2 – Target Your Prospecting

The quality of your prospecting will be one of the biggest factors in how successful you are (or not) in 2011.  As the individual salesperson is asked to do more and more, it’s VITAL that the time you spend prospecting is time well-spent.

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 3 – Increase Your Activity

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

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 4 – Become A ‘Valued Resource’

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

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 5 – Plan Your ‘Attack’

Plan Your Sales StrategyOne of the best ways to get ahead of the competition in 2011 is to win some customers off them!  This is a great way of distracting them from their own ‘new business’ efforts, plus it’s a great motivational factor for you and your team when you successfully win business at your competitor’s expense!

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 6 –Develop Consistent Motivation

We all know that motivation is important for a salesperson.  But it’s the salesperson’s ability to be CONSISTENTLY motivated that will help them stand out from the rest, and stay ahead of their competition in 2011.

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 7 –Sharpen Your Sales Skills

If you truly want to stay ahead of your competition in 2011, you’ll need to sharpen your sales skills.  This means getting up-to-date, relevant sales tips and advice form trusted sources.

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

However, you don’t have to spend money to keep your sales skills updated – plenty of articles like this one are free of charge, there are various audios around that are free or low-cost, and there are plenty of seminars you can attend without spending a fortune – just make sure you put into practice what you learn, and I look forward to hearing how you’re staying ahead of your competition in 2011!

You can 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……..

About The Author:

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker

He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here
Dec 20

7 Things To Do Over Xmas In Order To Make GREAT Sales In 2011

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what the successful salespeople and business owners are doing over the Christmas break, in order to prepare to have a great 2011…..

With the Christmas break nearly upon us, I’m finding a lot of people asking me Andy, how can I use the Christmas break productively, so that I can get ahead of my competition and set myself up for a great 2011?’

If you’re one of those people that has some spare time over the break, and want to use it to help your sales figures in 2011, here are some ideas for you.

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

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

First of all, in order to prepare to have a great 2011, you need to know what ‘numbers’ you need to hit! This will either be a sales target figure (particularly if you’ve been given a sales target by your boss), or a revenue/profitability figure if you’re a business owner for example.

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

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

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

The next stage is to look at what your existing customers have spent with you in 2010, and then work out what you think each account will spend in 2011.

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

Don’t fall into the trap of being overly optimistic (or overly pessimistic) – and if you really have no idea what they will spend, use their 2010 spend figure if you’re in a business that gets repeat business from their customers, rather than one-off purchases.

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

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

The figure you’re now left with (total revenue/profit, minus existing customer spend) is the figure you’ll need to achieve in 2011 from ‘new business’.

You’ve already worked out your average order value, so now it’s time to work out your ‘average new client value’. In order to get this figure, find out how much each ‘new customer’ in 2010 spend in total in the year.

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

This will now tell you how many new clients you need in 2011 to hit your targets. Again. I’m not expecting these figures to be perfectly correct – you can always adjust them to be more correct as you go along, but at least it gives you a ‘base’ to work from….

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

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

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

Once you’ve got these figures, you’ll notice you start to feel a little more confident about hitting your targets for 2011. Now it’s time for the next step…..

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

The figures you’ve worked out above are based on purely ‘hitting’ the targets you’ve set. The next step is to ‘stretch’ you a little.
Once you’ve got all your figures together for the above tips, work out those figures again – but this time for 120% of your target, 150% and 200% for example.

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

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

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 6 –Break Them Down

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

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

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

However, depending on your activity levels in 2010, you might have given yourself a bit of a shock, in terms of how much activity you’ll need to do in 2011 to hit your new targets. However it’s better to know that now that find out half way through they year when you’ve got less chance to do anything about it!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 7 –Work On Yourself

This is probably THE biggest tip I can give you to set yourself up for a great 2011!

You see, most salespeople and business owners won’t have even taken the time to READ this article, let along do anything about it!
If you’re one of the few that not only has read this, but is actually taking the time and effort to work out these numbers in order to give you the ‘edge’ you need, I congratulate you.

Now it’s about keeping that motivation up consistently in 2011, and now you’ve given yourself a ‘head-start’ over your competitors, making sure you stay there!

Good luck with your sales in 2011, and if I can help you in any way, get in touch!

You can 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……..

About The Author:

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker

He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here
Dec 07

7 Ways To Stay Ahead Of The Competition In 2011……

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains 7 ways that you can stay ahead of your competition in 2011….. and what you need to be doing to ensure customers are coming to you, rather than your competitors…..

Whenever I’m talking to salespeople or business owners, a question I’m often asked is ‘Andy, how can I ensure I stay ahead of my competitors?’ So here are 7 things that you can implement to ensure that you stay ahead of your competition for 2011 and beyond!….

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

In order for you to stay ahead of the competition in 2011, the first thing you need to do is ‘ringfence’ your existing customers.  More and more companies are looking to replace lost revenue and profitability through acquiring new business – and some of the ‘new business’ your competitors are targeting will include your existing accounts!

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 2 – Target Your Prospecting

The quality of your prospecting will be one of the biggest factors in how successful you are (or not) in 2011.  As the individual salesperson is asked to do more and more, it’s VITAL that the time you spend prospecting is time well-spent.

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 3 – Increase Your Activity

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

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 4 – Become A ‘Valued Resource’

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

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 5 – Plan Your ‘Attack’

Plan Your Sales StrategyOne of the best ways to get ahead of the competition in 2011 is to win some customers off them!  This is a great way of distracting them from their own ‘new business’ efforts, plus it’s a great motivational factor for you and your team when you successfully win business at your competitor’s expense!

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 6 –Develop Consistent Motivation

We all know that motivation is important for a salesperson.  But it’s the salesperson’s ability to be CONSISTENTLY motivated that will help them stand out from the rest, and stay ahead of their competition in 2011.

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

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

Andy’s Tip Number 7 –Sharpen Your Sales Skills

If you truly want to stay ahead of your competition in 2011, you’ll need to sharpen your sales skills.  This means getting up-to-date, relevant sales tips and advice form trusted sources.

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

However, you don’t have to spend money to keep your sales skills updated – plenty of articles like this one are free of charge, there are various audios around that are free or low-cost, and there are plenty of seminars you can attend without spending a fortune – just make sure you put into practice what you learn, and I look forward to hearing how you’re staying ahead of your competition in 2011!

You can 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……..

About The Author:

Andy Preston is a leading Sales Expert, Trainer and Motivational Speaker

He runs the Ecademy ‘Sales And Cold Calling Tips Club’ as well as writing for magazines, newspapers and trade journals all around the world on anything related to sales and selling.

You can get Andy’s free cold calling and sales tips HERE

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here
Nov 15

The 10 Biggest Sales Mistakes People Make On LinkedIn…..

By Andy Preston | Digital Selling

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains that although LinkedIn is one of the best business development tools available, many people don’t use it properly, and even worse – make mistakes that actually LOSE them sales, rather than WIN them…..

Whenever I’m talking to salespeople or business owners about online sales tools, the one that they mention most often is LinkedIn. Yet I’m often amazed at how many people admit they don’t really use it properly – and even those that ‘think’ they’re using it properly don’t get the sales results they could from it.

Even worse that, some people make various ‘sales mistakes’ over LinkedIn – often without realising – that cost them valuable leads, connections and ultimately sales.

If we’re not connected already, connect with me here – http://uk.linkedin.com/in/andypreston/ for specific ideas on how to get better results for your time spent on there, but in the meantime, here are the 10 biggest sales mistakes people make on LinkedIn……

Sales Mistake Number 10 – Not Having A Good Profile Picture

LinkedIn is an online networking site. What’s one of the most critical factors in networking? People getting to know you, like you and trust you. And that’s even more important in first impressions online. Yet many people don’t have the best picture when you click on their profiles!

So what do I mean by not having the best picture? Well if you’re on LinkedIn for business development reasons (and most of the people I speak to are) then you need a good, clear picture of you (so people can see what you look like and recognise you ‘offline’ if necessary). It also needs to show you in a ‘professional’ light, not look like a picture that belongs on Facebook instead! That doesn’t help your professional credibility – and if you’ve got a company logo there instead – even worse!

Sales Mistake Number 9 – Having A Twitter ‘Feed’ Into LinkedIn

This is even more serious than the last point! With the advent of ‘Social Media Automation’, it’s very easy to put automatically put your twitter feed straight into Facebook, LinkedIn etc – but just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea!

What most people forget is that they’ve changed ‘platform’ (from Twitter to LinkedIn for example), so there’s also a change of context. What might be acceptable on Twitter can actually be VERY DAMAGING on LinkedIn!

For example, one of the things LinkedIn does that Twitter doesn’t is store previous status updates on your profile page. So all the people you’re trying to impress and gain professional credibility with, are now reading your late-night Twitter updates about how many bottles of wine you’ve drunk, what you think of a particular football team, or which person on television you fancy – don’t laugh because I’ve seen it hundreds of times! It’s safe to say – those people have DEFINITELY lost business because of that!

Sales Mistake Number 8 – Getting Poor Quality Testimonials

As more and people get onto LinkedIn, this is a problem I’m seeing more and more frequently. As people are trying to gain credibility with their profiles (or get their ‘profile completeness’ up to 100%), they’re asking people for testimonials or recommendations that are in fact, worthless!

In terms of raising credibility online, testimonials and recommendations are obviously critical to that – but only the good quality ones will help you – the poor quality ones can actually make people think worse of you!

So what do I mean by a poor quality testimonial? One that says ‘Andy is a nice person’ or similar is pointless! As is one that’s from a colleague! Pointless! As is one that’s obviously from a ‘mate’ – especially if you’ve given them one back! We can see through that sort of thing very easily – and now the credibility of those testimonials (and your own credibility) has just dropped through the floor. Not a smart move.

Sales Mistake Number 7 – Talking Too Much About The Company

Another mistake most people make on LinkedIn is to talk too much about their company, rather than themselves. Now, I’m not saying that I want to read about how many cats you have, or what you got up to at weekend – save that for Facebook!

What I’m saying is too much of a ‘corporate face’ and not enough about you individually and what you do will switch people off from connecting with you, networking with you, and doing business with you.

Your profile wants to introduce me to YOU first, then your company later. Company profiles are where the majority of the company information goes. I want to know about YOU first – what you do, who you are looking for, and how you can help – before I want to know anything else.

Sales Mistake Number 6 – Having Too Many ‘Applications

As LinkedIn release more and more applications, the number (and relevance) of the applications of your profile become more and more important. Too many people are including too many – and irrelevant – applications to their profile.

Unless you’re an IT contractor or an interim manager (or you’re looking for a new job!), uploading your CV is irrelevant to your LinkedIn profile. In fact it can have a detrimental effect as people think they can’t trust you enough to do business with you as you’re probably moving on quickly.

And do people really need to know your travel movements? ‘On a trip to Basingstoke’ or ‘on a trip to Grimsby’ don’t have quite the same ring as ‘on a trip to New York’ or ‘Las Vegas’.

And don’t think that uploading your corporate presentation to slideshare helps you either. It’s probably been designed for people who have agreed to see you, or asked for the presentation. Contacts on LinkedIn wouldn’t fall into either of those categories. It will be boring and irrelevant at best!

People want to get to know YOU first, before they want to get to know your company or your products and services. Therefore, you want to encourage them to connect with you, message you, or make an enquiry BEFORE they are a qualified prospect for you. Pushing ‘company information’ at them at this stage won’t help – and may even get in the way of them being interested going forwards.

To get the other 5 Biggest Sales Mistakes Most People Make On LinkedIn, go to www.andy-preston.com/ask-andy and request ‘LinkedIn article’.

Oct 19

Sales Lessons From Europe’s Victory In The Ryder Cup…

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains the sales lessons that we all can take from Europe’s victory against the USA in this year’s Ryder Cup…..

After watching Europe’s victory against the USA in the Ryder Cup, I was aware of how many ‘sales lessons’ could be gained from Europe’s victory. So, here are the biggest ones and how they relate to your sales, and those of your team…

Sales Lesson Number 1 – Up Your Game

There’s a big lessons here for salespeople and managers alike. When you’re most up against it, you need to up your game. Before his foursomes game against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood was quoted as saying that when you’re up against the No 1 in the world, you need to up your game.

And that’s a huge lesson for sales. When you’re going for a big deal, when you’re up against strong competition, when you know you’re not going to have it all your own way, you need to up your ‘sales game’.

That means you have to be better at planning, preparation and research into the client. Better at questioning. Better at uncovering their true needs. Better at drawing out their objections and concerns – and handling them. And of course, better at gaining commitment and closing the deal.

And you can trust Lee Westwood to know what it takes. He’s beaten Tiger Woods in 6 of their last 7 matches together.

Sales Lesson Number 2 – Get Other People Involved

This is not just a lesson from this year’s Ryder Cup, but from the last one as well. Last time around in the US, Europe Captain Nick Faldo tried to do it with a small support team, taking most of the pressure on his own shoulders.

This time around however, Europe Captain Colin Montgomerie had a number of vice captains, and seemed to be appointing more vice captains by the day as ex-players kept turning up! At one stage it looked as though Europe were going to have a vice captain for every match out on the course!

Montgomerie was clever. He surrounded his team (many of whom were rookies) with experienced professionals, people who knew what it took to win tense, close-run Ryder Cup matches (as they had done it themselves). People who could motivate and inspire his players on his behalf.

The lesson here for sales is – you don’t have to do everything on your own! You’ll have people around you – other salespeople, your sales manager, other colleagues who can help and give ideas on deals you’re currently working on. Or perhaps you’ve even got a sales coach or mentor that can help inspire you.

Sales can be a lonely and difficult occupation when things aren’t going well – so that can often be the BEST time to ask for help from those around you.

Sales Lesson Number 3 – The ‘Little Things’ Count

In golf, like in sales, the little things can count for a lot! In a close game where Europe won 14.5 to the USA’s 13.5, every hole that was ‘saved’, every birdie and every close hole that was won – they all counted.

You could even go back to individual matches – in particular the Molinaris against Cink and Kucher. Francesco Molinari hadn’t made a putt all day (missing some very ‘makeable’ ones), yet when it mattered on the 18th green, he made the one that counted, securing half a point for Europe when they looked like losing that match for most of the round! That half-point instead of a loss meant that Europe won the trophy, rather than the USA retaining it.

You can point at plenty of ‘little things’ that made the difference in the Ryder Cup – just like you can point to plenty of ‘little things’ that make the difference in sales! Often, it’s the little things that the salesperson does (or doesn’t do) that make the difference in sales.

Sometimes it can even be simple things, like arriving on time for an appointment, sending information when you promised, preparing useful items for a meeting, or doing some research on the prospect!

There are plenty of ‘little things’ that some salespeople dismiss as ‘unimportant’. Make sure you don’t make that same mistake.

Sales Lesson Number 4 – Get Inspired

Inspiration is a much undervalued part of sales. Inspiration can be the thing that makes the difference between a salesperson winning – or losing – a deal. It can be the difference between a company being invited in to tender – or not. And it can be the difference between you and your team hitting their targets – or not.

Yet often ‘inspiration’ is taken for granted, or overlooked – both by salespeople themselves and by their managers. When it’s not there however, it’s noticeable by its absence – in the tonality, body language, and sales figures of the salespeople involved!

There’s no better example of the difference inspiration can make than Ian Poulter at this year’s Ryder Cup. A lot of people would say that Ian is a good golfer, but he’s never really gone on to fulfill his potential.

Yet it’s obvious to everyone watching that Ian is inspired by the Ryder Cup. The effect that has is that he feels more confident, more determined and resolves to play to his ultimate best – all of which are great attributes for sales, wouldn’t you say?

Out of interest, Ian has now won 7 of his last 9 Ryder Cup matches, and EVERY SINGLE ONE of his singles matches – just think what a difference inspiration could make to you and your sales team……

Sales Lesson Number 5 – Deal With The Pressure

Pressure is part of sales, just like it’s part of golf – and any professional sport for that matter, The individual’s REACTION to pressure however if often what makes the difference.

So how do you and your team react when the pressure is on? When you’re invited in to present to a board of directors up against 5 other companies – how do you feel? When you’re going in for your second meeting with the prospect and you know they’re going to base their decision on YOUR meeting – will this meeting really be the best it can be? If this is going to be the biggest deal your company has ever won, does that make you more nervous, or anxious to make sure you win it (rather than lose it!)

When Europe’s Graeme McDowell faced up to a 15-foot putt on the 16th green, he’d just lost the 15th hole and knew that the team, the fans, and most of Europe was counting on him to win – for if he lost or drew, the USA would retain the Ryder Cup. No small amount of pressure there then!

Yet McDowell was calm enough to hole that 15-foot putt under tremendous pressure, and when the USA’s Hunter Mahan fluffed a short chip on the 17th, he conceded and Europe won. Would you and your team be able to handle pressure like that and still come out smiling?

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