Category Archives for "Small Business Owners"

Feb 23

Are You Guilty Of ‘Cherrypicking’ Prospects?

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains the dangers associated with ‘Cherrypicking’ your prospects, and the impact it can have on you and your team…..

The Challenge……you’re sitting down to make some sales calls……….you’ve got your list of prospects in front of you (or on the computer)…..and you find yourself going down the list and “evaluating” who to call…….

Can you relate to this situation?!!….This happens quite often for salespeople and business owners!

So why would you spend ages researching who to ring, and put them into your diary/contact system for calls today, only to “filter” through them just as you’re about to ring?!! Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

Empty Notebook PageIn fact I can imagine you right now….sitting there……looking through the list….and saying to yourself “he won’t be in today, I’ll call him next week”, “He’s just back from holiday, better not disturb him yet, he’ll be busy”, “hmmm, that would be some good business for me but I’m not ready to ring them yet, I’ll make a coffee first”….and so on!

So why do you think this is? This procrastination about who to ring?

Having worked with thousands of salespeople and business owners around the area of cold calling and sales in general it seems to come down to a number of things…..

Andy’s Reason Number 1 – Lack Of Confidence In Your Cold Calling Abilities

How do you feel when you know you’re about to pick up the phone? Enthusiastic? Motivated? or more like Nervous? Afraid?  How you feel before you pick up the phone will have a strong impact on how you perform on the call!

How are you feeling right now?

Andy’s Reason Number 2 – A Poor Prospect List

You’ve got hold of the “data” somewhere and anywhere will do – there’s been no research done into the company or any initial call to find out the name of the decision maker, let alone any idea if this company is even a prospect for what you offer.

Andy’s Reason Number 3 – The Last Call To This Prospect Was Rubbish!

red phoneThe last call to this prospect was really bad wasn’t it? So bad in fact that you’ve been procrastinating about calling them for days (or even weeks or months!).

It’s been in your callback list for ages and you keep moving it back in your diary because you remember how the prospect treated your call last time – and you’d hate to go through that again, wouldn’t you?

Andy’s Reason Number 4 – You’ve Already ‘Decided’ That This Call Is Going To Be Terrible!

You’re worried about this call aren’t you? Something is stopping you making it and you’re imagining it’s going to go very badly. Perhaps due to one of the above reasons, or it might also be that the prospect would represent a very good deal for you and you’re frightened of messing it up if you don’t do it properly?

finishing lineSuccessful athletes talk about the value of “visualisation” or “mental rehearsal” – a process where they visualise the event happening in their mind (before it actually takes place) and “see” it happening perfectly – exactly as they wanted it.

What we tend to do when it comes to Cold Calling (or even Warm Calling!) is what I call “negative visualisation” – we see the event happening, but always predict the result to be terrible! That would include not getting through to the prospect, them not seeing value in what you offer, having the phone put down on you etc etc.

The challenge is – when we “cherrypick” prospects, we’re usually only making the “easy” calls, the ones where we feel most comfortable with the people on the other end of the phone! In fact, we’ve probably got a few favourite clients haven’t we? The ones we can call for a “chat” so we can feel like we’re doing something to develop our business, rather than avoiding calling – but they never seem to buy any more from us?

This Happens In Field Sales Too…..

cupcakesThis is exactly the same as field-sales people doing what I call the “Tea and Biscuit Tour” (or ‘calling for cake’ as one of my clients calls it) – calling on existing clients or prospects they get on well with (usually for a drink and a chat) in order to avoid walking into potential new clients or trying to win new business!

Cold Calling (or any kind of calling for that matter) is about energy – keeping up the energy and enthusiasm from one call to another. Which means you have to make call after call after call so you’re in the “flow” or the “zone” as an athlete would call it.

If you’re wasting time between calls – “cherrypicking” prospects, searching through the database, playing with your email, making coffee etc, you’re probably not aware of how much it is affecting your calls, or the results from them.

In summary, the big lesson in this article is – never “cherrypick” your prospecting or cold calls – The next person you ring could have an order waiting for you……or be giving it to someone else if you don’t make the call!

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. 
Jan 05

7 Ways To Stay Ahead Of Your Competition In 2012!

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 2012….. 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 2012 and beyond!….

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

In order for you to stay ahead of the competition in 2012, 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 2012.  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 2012 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 2012.

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 2012, 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 2012!

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

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
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 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
Jan 27

Small Business Owners – Are Your Sales Skills Sharp Enough To Cope? (Part 2)

By Andy Preston | Small Business Owners

The Challenge – As a business owner in the current economic conditions, you can’t afford to take their ‘eye off the ball’. In a recession, business is tougher. Existing clients beat you down on price, therefore losing you valuable profit.

Customers are afraid of making a wrong decision, so take much longer to decide whether or not to proceed with your proposal. Even people not directly affected by the recession start to hold onto their cash ‘just in case’. Are your sales skills ‘sharp’ enough to cope?

In a recession, sales skills come to the fore. More so than in any other market conditions, right now if you’re struggling to win profitable business then it’s probably down in no small part to your lack of sales skills. Most small business owners I speak to are not ‘traditional’ salespeople, haven’t been through weeks and months of rigorous sales training, and don’t continually practice their skills by selling full time.

Most small business owners I speak to would hate to call themselves ‘salespeople’, and because of everything else they have to do in the business – strategy, leadership, production, distribution, delivery, accounts etc, sales is traditionally only a small part of what they do.

Therefore if you want to thrive (or even survive!) the economic conditions we’re experiencing, you’ll need to look at your sales skills, at the very least in the following areas….

Sales Skills Area Number 3 – Cold Calling or Follow Up Calls

Now I know, I know. You hate cold calling don’t you? Most of you probably have avoided doing it altogether, or only done it when times are hard and you’re more desperate. Right now would be one of those times (or very shortly!).

The question is, what else are you doing as a pro-active new business development activity. When I’ve asked this question to business owners in the past, people have said to me ‘oh but Andy, I have a website’, ‘I get all my business through networking’ and ‘I don’t go after new business, I just deal with my existing clients’.

Aha. Those would be the people that will be struggling in the current conditions, wouldn’t they?! Incoming enquiries are drying up, people are putting off making purchasing decisions, you’re being driven down to almost no profit on your prices, and you’re still sat there, wondering if the phone is going to ring?!!!

You’ve got to do some sort of pro-active new business development activity in the current market, but how prepared are you to do good follow up calls, let alone cold calls?

Sales Skills Area Number 4 – Questioning and Uncovering Needs

Most professional salespeople are poor at questioning, so this is another area where you need to take a close look at your current skill levels. Most business owners I meet commit the ‘cardinal sin’ of talking too much about their product or service too early in the sale! The end result being is that most decision makers ‘switch off’ from that sort of sales approach and the business owner wonders why more people don’t buy from them!

In addition, most business owners only ask ‘information’ based questions of the potential client, questions that give the business owner more idea if they can sell their product or service to the potential client, but have little or no value for the decision maker whatsoever, resulting in the decision maker being bored at best, or having very short meetings at least! Again, neither of these is a great result for the business owner!

Sales Skills Area Number 5 – Closing

Now this is the biggie! The most misunderstood and poorly executed part of selling, closing and closing skills will be one of the biggest things that causes success or failure of many businesses in the current climate.

Again, even professional salespeople struggle with this part, so business owners will definitely need to work on this area. However, most of them find this part a challenge, as it’s not something that comes naturally to them or they don’t feel a huge amount of confidence in doing.

The challenge is, if you can’t master the closing part of the sales process, you’re probably missing out on a lot of deals. This isn’t a big problem when you’ve got a huge amount of prospects, or lots of business is coming from existing clients. However, in the current market conditions, not many people are lucky enough for that to be the case. The problem is, it may have been a few months ago, but now you have to adapt.

If you struggle with closing, clients will procrastinate over making a buying decision, more so now than ever before, because their fear of taking risks has risen in the current economic conditions and also they’re looking to hang onto their cash more – all bad news for you if you’re trying to get business off them.

In summary, in a negative market, if you don’t work on your selling skills and keep them ‘sharp’, you’re virtually handing business to your competition on a plate and allowing yourself to struggle to survive. When would be a good time to work on your sales skills do you think?!!!


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

You can also see more about Andy’s training for small businesses at www.salestrainingbreakfastclub.com

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2009. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here

Jan 17

Small Business Owners – Are Your Sales Skills Sharp Enough To Cope? (Part 1)

By Andy Preston | Small Business Owners

 

 

The Challenge – As a business owner in the current economic conditions, you can’t afford to take their ‘eye off the ball’. In a recession, business is tougher. Existing clients beat you down on price, therefore losing you valuable profit.

Customers are afraid of making a wrong decision, so take much longer to decide whether or not to proceed with your proposal. Even people not directly affected by the recession start to hold onto their cash ‘just in case’. Are your sales skills ‘sharp’ enough to cope?

In a recession, sales skills come to the fore. More so than in any other market conditions, right now if you’re struggling to win profitable business then it’s probably down in no small part to your lack of sales skills. Most small business owners I speak to are not ‘traditional’ salespeople, haven’t been through weeks and months of rigorous sales training, and don’t continually practice their skills by selling full time.

Most small business owners I speak to would hate to call themselves ‘salespeople’, and because of everything else they have to do in the business – strategy, leadership, production, distribution, delivery, accounts etc, sales is traditionally only a small part of what they do.

Therefore if you want to thrive (or even survive!) the economic conditions we’re experiencing, you’ll need to look at your sales skills, at the very least in the following areas….

Sales Skills Area Number 1 – Objection Handling

How good are your objection handling skills? Most full-time salespeople are not great in this area, so as a small business owner, how do you rate yourself? Are you used to dealing with rejection and objections? Are you prepared for objections like “we don’t have the budget for that at the moment’ or ‘call me back in 6 months’, ‘that’s too expensive’ or ‘leave it with us and we’ll come back to you when we’re going ahead?”

Then, can you deliver credible answers to those confidently and with certainty, bringing the conversation ‘back on track’, position more value and then close with conviction?

Sales Skills Area Number 2 – Negotiation

You know people are going to negotiate with you in the current market, because your existing clients have already started to negotiate with you, haven’t they? In market conditions like these, clients become more price-focused than ever, and start to look around more and evaluate other options before making a decision (or putting it off entirely!).

You know you’re going to get existing clients and potential clients negotiating with you, particularly on price and payment terms in the current market – are you properly prepared for this? Or do you find yourself ‘caught out’, suddenly caught in the middle of a negotiation before you realise what’s happened?

That is only going to result in a poor end to the negotiation for you – either you don’t get the business, or you end up giving away most of your profit in your desperation to at least ‘win’ the deal. Neither of those is a great result for you.

Sales Skills Area Number 3 – Cold Calling or Follow Up Calls

Now I know, I know. You hate cold calling don’t you? Most of you probably have avoided doing it altogether, or only done it when times are hard and you’re more desperate. Right now would be one of those times (or very shortly!).

The question is, what else are you doing as a pro-active new business development activity. When I’ve asked this question to business owners in the past, people have said to me ‘oh but Andy, I have a website’, ‘I get all my business through networking’ and ‘I don’t go after new business, I just deal with my existing clients’.

Aha. Those would be the people that will be struggling in the current conditions, wouldn’t they?! Incoming enquiries are drying up, people are putting off making purchasing decisions, you’re being driven down to almost no profit on your prices, and you’re still sat there, wondering if the phone is going to ring?!!!

You’ve got to do some sort of pro-active new business development activity in the current market, but how prepared are you to do good follow up calls, let alone cold calls?


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

You can also see more about Andy’s training for small businesses at www.salestrainingbreakfastclub.com

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2009. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines. Media enquiries – details here