Category Archives for "Small Business Owners"

Jan 07

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

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 2 – Focus Your Prospecting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 5 – Increase Your Activity

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

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

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

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 6 – Develop CONSISTENT Motivation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 03

Top 10 ‘New Year Resolutions’ For Your Sales Team

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Sales Resolution No 10 – Increase Your Prospecting Activity

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

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

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

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

Sales Resolution No 9 – ‘Filter’ Your Prospects Better

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

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

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

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

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

Sales Resolution No 8 – Improve Your ‘Pipeline’ Control

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

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

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

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

Sales Resolution No 7 – Improve Your Online Prescence

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

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

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

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

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

Sales Resolution No 6 – Develop ‘Consistent’ Focus

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..
This article is copyright Andy Preston 2011-2019. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.
Dec 05

Sales Failure 5!! LinkedIn Selling Fail!!!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


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

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

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

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

Hi

How are you today?

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

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

So why aren’t you using it yet ?

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

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

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

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

Regards
Mark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So stop doing it! Now!!!

Sales Failure Lesson No 2 – Stop LYING To People!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why aren’t you using it yet ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 05

Sales Failure 6!! Saracens Rugby Selling Fail!!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phone Call Number 5 – I Call Saracens Ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where are these people located in your company?…

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 02

Sales Prospecting Mistakes – 5 Signs Your Sales Team Is Guilty Of ‘Poor Prospecting’

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading sales expert Andy Preston talks about the problem of Poor Prospecting, and how to spot if any of your team are guilty of it……

I’m often asked by business owners, sales managers and sales directors to help their sales team increase sales.

A large part of this is getting better results from their prospecting. Yet the more work I’ve done in this arena, the more I’ve come to believe that great Sales Prospecting is less common than it used to be!

Poor Prospecting is now more common than ever, and its affecting salespeople’s numbers and company budgets and profits massively right now. It’s really important that if your team are guilty of it (or starting to become guilty of it) that you ‘catch’ it as quickly as possible, so your own and your teams’ numbers aren’t dramatically affected going forward.

Here are some signs to look out for that may indicate your sales team are guilty of Poor Prospecting right now….

‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 1 – They’re Avoiding Prospecting Activities!

One of the first signs that your any of your sales team are bad at prospecting is when you notice them avoiding it!

fearfulIf their role involves other things as well as prospecting – attending meetings, an amount of paperwork, or dealing with existing clients, they’ll try and use these as ‘excuses’ as ‘reasons’ why they can’t do more prospecting!

If you hear your team say things like ‘I don’t have enough time to prospect more’, ‘I’ve just got to finish this xyz thing first…’ or ‘cold calling doesn’t work for me….’, these would all be BIG signs that your sales team (or some members of it) are guilty!

 

‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 2 – They Don’t Do Enough!

Another indication that your team are guilty of Poor Prospecting would be that you notice they aren’t doing enough of it!

As simple as this may seem, this is a great indicator! People don’t get better at prospecting by Act Now - Red Buttonresearching more. They don’t get better at prospecting by doing admin tasks or ringing an existing client. They get better at prospecting by DOING IT!

Therefore, the less your team are prospecting, the worse they’ll be at it! Therefore they won’t get the results they should. Therefore they do less of it!

And this problem then compounds itself going forward.

 

‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 3 – Travelling Excessive Distances For Appointments

Another good indicator of Poor Prospecting is if any of your Field Sales team are travelling long distances for appointments. As business has become tougher the last few years, many salespeople are finding it harder to get qualified appointments with senior decision makers.

Therefore when they manage to get a meeting (or someone else in your organisation books one for them) they’re so glad of actually getting one, they’ll travel almost ANY distance for that single meeting! And if they don’t book many other meetings in that same area, there’s your ‘Poor Prospecting’ indicator!

Plan Your Digital Sales StrategyI’ve seen salespeople travel 2 hours or more to a meeting (and therefore 2 hours back) without booking other meetings in that area (or if they do, they’re probably with existing clients with no immediate need, not qualified ‘new business’ ones with prospects). That often means most of their day is ‘lost’ because of their own Poor Prospecting abilities.

 

‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 4 – Over-Reliance On Web/Social Media

This particular ‘indicator’ has become more prominent over the past few years.  Now, I’m NOT saying that using the Web or social media is WRONG, I’m saying that over-reliance on it is a problem!

One of the challenges with the web/social media is that it’s an easy thing for salespeople to use as a way of getting out of other prospecting methods, pretending they’re doing something useful that will give them the ‘edge’ when they eventually contact the prospect…. The key word in that last sentence being ‘eventually’ of course 😉

A common trait in Poor Prospecting salespeople is to do HUGE amounts of research… only to find the decision maker isn’t in when they call, or they can’t get through to them anyway – waste of time!

Yet in their sales activity they can put down they did lots of ‘prospecting’… just poorly 😉

The key to successful prospecting is using a range of methods in order to spread the risk and rewards – so don’t just rely on the one!

‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 5 – Complaining About Internal Issues

Salespeople guilty of Poor Prospecting just love deflecting the attention away from themselves and their prospecting abilities by ‘blaming’ internal issues or people for their poor performance.

My favourite one of these has to be ‘My sales figures are low this month because Telesales didn’t Poor Presentation Skillsmake me enough appointments!’ Classic! Closely followed by ‘Nobody’s heard of us because we don’t do enough Marketing!’ And backed up by ‘Our prices are too high so no one would be interested anyway…

These classic excuses are dragged out by salespeople all over the world as justification for poor prospecting results, therefore ‘reasons’ why they shouldn’t do it, or do less of it.

Don’t fall for it! They’re just guilty of Poor Prospecting!

If you want some help getting your team to get far better results from prospecting, call +44 (0) 161 401 0142 or contact Andy here……..

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

Oct 26

Why You Get So Many Objections On Price

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading UK Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why most salespeople and business owners get so many objections to their price……and the mistakes that most of them make…… that often result in lost sales, or lost profit………

 

Whenever I’m working with salespeople and business owners, they are frustrated that they get so many price objections, particularly because they don’t understand why, or how they should deal with them! As the market gets tougher, you’re probably finding that people are objecting to your prices, and negotiating with you more than ever before – are you prepared well enough to deal with that?

What salespeople and business owners often don’t realise is that there are a number of reasons that clients object to their prices, and sometimes they generate those objections themselves – something in their approach or what they have said has generated the price objection for them – and then they don’t deal with it well!

So let’s have a look at the main reasons they get the price objections, so we can lessen the chances of getting them in future…

Reason No 1 – It’s A Negotiation Tactic

As many regular readers of my articles know, before my successful selling career, I started out as a professional buyer – beating up salespeople for a living! It gave me a great insight into how people buy….and often how people don’t sell well to others! I’ve lost count of how many awful sales pitches I endured during that period!

Any buyer worth their salt (and also a lot of business decision makers these days) knows, the minute a potential supplier to us gives their price, if we come back with a response like ‘ooh, that’s too expensive’ or ‘that’s higher than your competitors’ most potential suppliers crumble!

Most suppliers end up saying something like ‘well how much were you thinking of paying?’ Daft move! The buyer then thinks ‘fantastic, got these guys on the run!’ Their response then is something like ‘ooh….about half that!’ Now you’re in trouble. You’re starting to negotiate from a price that 50% below where you wanted. And if the buyer is any good, the price is only going down from there! Not a good situation to be in, is it?

Andy’s Tip – Sometimes it’s a negotiation tactic – expect it and be prepared to deal with it. Prepare and practice your response.

Reason No 2 – You Don’t Give Enough Value First

This is really, really important – but it’s often overlooked! If you’re the sort of person that never quotes a price up-front, listens intently to what the customer is saying, questions well to uncover their needs, matches back your product or service with those needs, demonstrates huge value and then closes for the business….every single time….then you probably don’t have anything to worry about here.

If however, there’s ever been a time where you’ve been under pressure to deliver a price earlier than you wanted to, where a client didn’t really seem to think your product or service was worth the price you wanted, or where the client bought from someone else – even when you’re product or service would have been better for them – then this is vital that you read this and digest it fully.

The problem is we often let the client control the meeting and the flow of the conversation, so the conversation turns to price quicker than we would like! We haven’t had time to get the client to appreciate the value in what we’re offering, so is it any wonder we get a price objection here?

As the market gets tougher, it’s more important than ever for the client to appreciate the value in what you provide. The faster the conversation goes to price, the less chance you have of the client appreciating the value in what you offer – which then means you get a price objection!

Andy’s Tip – Don’t give prices out before you’re ready – be prepared to deal with the client asking the price and how you’re going to deal with it.

Reason No 3 – You Talk About Price!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing some ‘field sales assessments’ – accompanying some salespeople on their prospective client meetings. The client said that their salespeople had been getting a lot of price objections recently, and had put it down to the ‘credit crunch’ and their particular industry.

When I was observing the salespeople in their meetings though, it wasn’t the prospective clients that were taking the conversation towards price, it was the salesperson themselves!

Think about it. If you ask a question like ‘how much do you normally pay for…’ or ‘what’s your normal rate on this sort of thing’, then what else can you expect from the other person but a question about your price?!!

Even worse, if your only way to differentiate your offering is on price – saying things like ‘we’re cheaper’ or ‘we’ll match/beat their prices’ then who’s to blame for taking the conversation towards price? You are!

Andy’s Tip – Stop asking questions or making comments that refer to price, and watch the impact that has on getting you less price questions from the client!

Reason No 4 – You Don’t Differentiate Yourself Enough

In the current market when times are tough and there seems to be more competition than ever before, it’s absolutely vital that you can differentiate yourself from your competition.

Yet many salespeople and business owners fail to do this adequately. I was doing some work with a recruitment company the other day and one of their consultants got an objection on a live call I was listening in to. The prospective client said ‘I’m happy with the agency I use at the moment’. The consultant then proceeded to ‘tell’ the prospective client how they were different – by saying ‘but we’re different to other agencies!’

The reply from the prospective client was fantastic. They said ‘yeah, every consultant who rings me up says that too’. Hilarious! All the consultant achieved by saying ‘but we’re different…’ was to make themselves the same as all their competition!

Differentiating yourself from your competitors is not done by just saying ‘we’re different’, but by acting, saying and being different – starting with your initial phone call! If your call sounds the same as all the rest, you ask the same questions as all the rest and you say the same things as all the rest, is it any wonder that clients consider you the same as all the rest?!

Andy’s Tip – Start to differentiate from your initial phone call into that client by saying and doing different things to your competitors. Not sure what to do? Contact me for some ideas…..

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

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

Oct 11

How To Convert More Inbound Leads Into Orders

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains how to take the incoming enquiries you get for your business….. and turn more of them into orders…..

Whenever I’m working with businesses and their individual salespeople, this topic keeps coming up!  It seems that whole many people can often convert enquiries from their existing customers into orders (although some even struggle with that), many are struggling to convert their new enquiries into orders and grow their customer base.  This article is designed to help you with that!

So whilst, I can’t cover everything you’d need to do to convert more enquiries into orders in this short article, here are some ideas on the major things you’d need to know, in order to convert more enquiries into business, right now!

Andy’s Sales Tip No 1 – Understand Their Interest In YOU!

you samThis is something most people don’t do.  Sometimes because they don’t think about it, and sometimes because they’re scared to ask!  Most people will ask ‘how did you hear about us?’, which is a marketing question, designed to help you understand what parts of your marketing are working, so that you spend more money in those areas!

Yet they don’t often ask about why the enquirer has come to them for a price or quotation!  What interest they have in your company specifically.  What prior knowledge or experience they have of you, and what has motivated them to approach you on this occasion?  Having the answers to those questions can completely change your sales process, and how you convert them into business.

Andy’s Sales Tip No 2 – Understand Their Readiness To Buy

Another critical area is to find out where they are in their buying process, and how ‘ready’ they are to buy.  Far too many salespeople waste time on people that are just ‘shopping around’, or getting an idea of price – when they aren’t ready to make a buying decision.

Showing Your PricesLet’s face it, if someone is just after an ‘idea’ of price, but has got some prices already, they already have an idea of price, don’t they?  Giving your price when they already have a number of prices from other potential suppliers usually results in you LOSING the business, unless you have done a number of critical things first!  Unless you are by far the cheapest price of course, but even that doesn’t guarantee you winning the business!

How quickly can they make a decision?  Are they ready to buy right now?  Or do you want to discuss other things first, before entering into a conversation about price?

Andy’s Sales Tip No 3 – Understand Their Other Options

finishing lineThis something I would CERTANLY want to do before giving a price (as mentioned in the last tip).  You need to know WHO and WHAT you are competing with, BEFORE you give your price!

There are 3 levels of competition to you winning this order, and potentially this customer.  You will always come across ONE of these competitors, and sometimes ALL of these competitors, in every single deal!  And you need to know what you’re up against, in order to sell effectively against them.

The three levels of competition are…..

1)    Direct Competitor (another company that provides a similar product or service to you)

2)    Indirect Competitor (usually a competitive process that they may choose instead of your solution)

3)    ‘No Change’ Competitor (the prospect decides to ‘stay as they are’ for now)

All of the above are ‘competitors’ to you winning the deal – and you need to know which are true in each sales situation, in order to sell against them effectively, and give yourself the best chance of winning the deal!

Andy’s Sales Tip No 4 – Understand Their Buying Process

If we’re going to give ourselves a good chance of converting this enquiry into an order, we need to understand the prospects buying process.  In other words, how they are planning to buy.

Plan Your Digital Sales StrategyFailing to understand their buying process (or who is involved in it) will often result in the deal being ‘taken away’ from you, often at the last minute.

One of the best ways to find this out, is to ask them what process they went through when they last made a purchase like this.  That will give you an idea of their usual process, and potentially who is involved as well!

If the person you’re talking to doesn’t know what their process is (last time and this time), that’s a clue how much involvement they have in the decision process!

You need to have a level of influence with everyone involved in the buying process (where possible) to have the best chance of converting your enquiries into orders!  Good luck!

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.

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