May 28

Launch of the Leeds Sales Breakfast – feedback……

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

 

PRESS RELEASE

Leeds Businesses Get Early Morning Wake Up Call From UK Sales Guru

Small business owners and sales people in Leeds were put through their paces by UK sales guru Andy Preston after his Sales Training Breakfast Club arrived in Leeds.

During the early morning training session which started at 7.30am at The Village Hotel, Leeds South, Andy Preston addressed business owners and sales professionals from local businesses including BMW, Auditel and TLC Business Supplies, on how to win more business from cold calling.

“In the current climate, the ability to win new customers or gain more appointments over the phone is vital. I felt that is was particularly important for local businesses in Leeds to get the results they deserve from their cold calling activities” explains Preston, Director at sales performance company Outstanding Results.

Feedback From Attendees….

The event provided food for thought for many in attendance with Andy Ryalls from BMW commenting, “Andy has totally changed my mindset about the ‘worst’ part of my job’, and Jo Elsy from TLC Business Supplies said the session left her feeling ‘very positive’. Preston believes that it is critical to help boost the morale of small business owners and equip them with the skills they need to thrive, despite the downturn.

“We all know that small businesses are helping to keep the economy going yet most have little or no budget available to dedicate to sales training, but need to be good at selling to stay in businesses! The bitesize training given at the Sales Training Breakfast is perfect for busy business owners and sales people and is proving extremely popular both in the UK and abroad,” adds Preston.

The Sales Training Breakfast Club is hosted in a number of locations including London, Manchester and Dubai and is designed to help small business owners, consultants and salespeople get more sales and more customers every month. Launched in early 2008 by Preston, The Sales Training Breakfast Club was created specifically to help give businesses across the country access to quality sales training at a price they can afford.

Further Events….

The next Leeds Sales Training Breakfast will be held on 4th AUgust 2009 at the VIllage Hotel, Leeds South at 7.30am. For more details or to book a place, call Andy Preston on 0845 130 6779, or visit http://www.salestrainingbreakfastclub.com/salestrainingleeds.html

The other Sales Breakfast events can be seen here – http://www.salestrainingbreakfastclub.com

Places are in high demand so early booking is recommended.

May 20

Why Your Cold Calling Isn’t Working……(part 2)

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

 

 

 

 

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why you’re not currently getting the results from your cold calling that you could be…..and what you can do about it to get the results you deserve……..

Please note: This is the second part of a 2-part article. To read the first part, go here now.

Whenever I’m talking to business owners or their sales teams, the topic of new business development and cold calling in particular always evokes interesting reactions.

Cold calling is one of those topics that everyone has an opinion on – even those that don’t do it! And the salespeople and business owners that do it normally fall into one of the camps – love it, loathe it, or tolerate it!

However, no matter which of those camps you or your team fall into, most people don’t get the results that they want from cold calling, so below are some reasons why that is the case, and also some ideas on what to do about it!

So why isn’t your cold calling working as well as it could be?…..

Reason No 5 – Wrong Attitude

I always find it interesting how many people start a cold calling session that are defeated before they even start! These people can always find an excuse for not doing the calls ‘oh I haven’t got the time’, ‘I’ve just got to ring a few existing customers first’ and ‘I just need to tidy my desk for the 17th time this week!’

And when they actually have to make some calls, they are convinced that decision makers don’t want to speak to them, that no one will buy because of ‘the recession’, that cold calling is a pointless activity and won’t work, etc etc.

What kind of impact does this sort of thinking have on the potential results of their cold calling sessions do you think? Might it be affected in a negative way? Of course!

Then, when it comes to handling objections, the same negative attitude and mindset affects them here as well. Let’s take the example above, where the salesperson has ‘decided’ that no-one is buying because of the recession.

What do you think will happen to that salesperson’s attitude the minute that the person they’re talking to says something like ‘we don’t have a budget’ ‘or we’re cutting back at the moment’? That’s right, they’ll say to themselves ‘see I knew it, no-one’s got any money at the moment because of the recession, maybe I should get out of sales and get another job?’

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But it’s happening a lot more than you’d think. What happening to trying to handle that objection, position back the value and re-close for the business? Didn’t even show up! All because the salesperson had the wrong attitude and had already ‘decided’ that the person wasn’t going to buy – and the first piece of ‘evidence’ that seemingly confirmed their suspicions, they gave up….

Reason No 6 – Lack Of Pride

I’m often astounded when I meet salespeople (and business owners who have to ‘sell’ as part of their role) that don’t appear to be proud of what they’re doing. Instead of being proud of themselves, their role, their company and their products and services, far too many salespeople sound like they’re almost ashamed instead!

Think about when you’ve ever received a call from someone trying to sell to you. If the person has sounded weak, uncertain and has started to apologise for the fact that they’re even calling you, what kind of impact has that had on your perception of this person, their company, and their products and services? My guess would be that it wouldn’t be particularly favourable!

I’ve even heard some salespeople say things like ‘oh I’m sorry to bother you’, or ‘sorry if this sounds like a sales call but…’ It IS a sales call! Be proud of the fact! Be proud of the fact you’re in sales, your company and your products and services, instead of apologising for them!

God knows what the potential customers think of the salespeople who apologise! Do those salespeople think the client’s going to say something like ‘there, there, it’s okay. I don’t mind this sales call. It’s okay, please go ahead and pitch me….?!!’

Sales is a difficult job to start with. Cold calling is even tougher. Why on earth would you want to make your job even more difficult by trotting out this kind of rubbish?!!

Reason No 7 – Lack Of Activity

Now I know some of you are going to complain about this one (those would be the sales whingers ;-)) But seriously – lack of new business activity is one of the biggest reasons salespeople don’t hit their turnover or profit targets.

And before any of you start banging on about ‘oh but Andy I want to make quality calls, not quantity’, let me explain further. I don’t mean that I want you to make lots of random calls with no direction, no quality and no value. What I mean is that I want you to make quality calls, I just want you to make more of them!

Let’s face it – no matter how poor (or how good) your sales skills are, based on your existing conversion rates if you make 10% more calls, you’re going to get to speak to 10% more decision makers, make 10% more meetings, 10% more proposals, and therefore 10% more business! Just from a 10% increase in activity alone!

Now if you were to read the rest of this article (and the first part) and work on your sales skills, you can increase your sales figures even higher…..and some of you could also increase your activity by more than 10% of course 😉

And this also comes back to ‘reason one’ that I mentioned in the first part of this article – that mentioned ‘preparation’. If you haven’t planned to do a cold calling session uninterrupted, how on earth can you expect to get in the ‘zone’ as athletes call it – ready, focused, motivated and call after call continuing with the same energy and enthusiasm that’s needed to help persuade people over the phone?

Reason No 8 – Lack Of (Or ‘Rusty’) Sales Skills

This is a topic that people are becoming more and more aware of in the current market. There is a general lack of sales skills, but especially so in the ‘new business’ and ‘cold calling’ arenas.

For far too long, cold calling has been viewed by some people as a ‘necessary evil’, something that ‘junior’ salespeople do, and generally looked on as something that people with a year or more of sales experience don’t have to do anymore. They’re wrong.

Cold calling and new business generation is something that every salesperson should do, regardless of age, seniority or experience. It helps to keep you ‘sharp’, being able to deal with the tougher objections (so when they come up from existing clients, you can deal with them easily) and helps you to fill your sales pipeline.

For some salespeople however, they’ve never developed those skills, possibly because they’ve been in more of an account management or ‘incoming’ sales role. It might also be that they haven’t had to cold call for a while and their skill are ‘rusty’ at best.

To be successful at cold calling and new business generation, you need to have a good level of skill at call openings, getting past gatekeepers, questioning, objection handling and closing at the very least! How do you currently rate yourself or your team in those areas? And when would be a good time to do something about it?!!

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

May 04

Why Your Cold Calling Isn’t Working……(part 1)

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

 

 

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why you’re not currently getting the results from your cold calling that you could be…..and what you can do about it to get the results you deserve……..

Whenever I’m talking to business owners or their sales teams, the topic of new business development and cold calling in particular always evokes interesting reactions.

Cold calling is one of those topics that everyone has an opinion on – even those that don’t do it! And the salespeople and business owners that do it normally fall into one of the camps – love it, loathe it, or tolerate it!

However, no matter which of those camps you or your team fall into, most people don’t get the results that they want from cold calling, so below are some reasons why that is the case, and also some ideas on what to do about it!

So why isn’t your cold calling working as well as it could be?…..


Reason No 1 – Lack Of Preparation

If this is you, you’re not alone! Most people fail to prepare for their cold calling sessions properly. You’d be astounded how many times I see people ‘start’ a cold calling session by looking for their list of people to call, trying to find their diary, finishing off an email, taking a call from an existing client, tidying their desk, going to get a drink or have a quick cigarette…pretty much anything but start making the calls!

Often, this means that the calling session that was due to start at 10.00 now really starts at about 10.40. Then, by the time the salesperson has made a few calls, the session is over! The salesperson might have achieved their objective of ‘avoiding’ the session, but has the session really contributed to the success of the business? Hardly!

Cold calling is best done in focussed ‘sessions’, with no interruptions. That means no emails, no incoming phone calls, no interruptions from colleagues, no going to get a drink etc – do all of that before the session starts. And if the session is meant to start at 10.00, then the first phone call should be at 10.00 – not 10.05, 10.10, or 10.20!


Reason No 2 – Lack Of Belief

A number of business owners and salespeople I meet still aren’t convinced that cold calling actually works, or could work for them and their company. And those people are usually the ones who have tried it (or are currently doing it) and aren’t getting the results that they could, or they haven’t tried it but have already decided that it won’t work!

I always find it interesting when I talk to people who have this belief as they often that that ‘cold calling just won’t work in my industry’. Then, when I ask them what they do, they are in the same industry as someone that I have trained that is getting great results from cold calling! Perhaps what the people with the negative beliefs really mean is – I’m not sure of the right approach that would make it work for me?

Whatever the reason, if you or your team is making cold calls with the belief that cold calling doesn’t work, do you think that might stand in the way of the potential success of your calls a little? Of course it will!

In my experience of making and listening to tens of thousands of cold calls in all sorts of industries, if you start with that sort of belief, your activity levels will be lower, your voice tone will be monotone and boring (instead of bright and enthusiastic), you’ll accept the first objection too easily and you’ll do anything to avoid doing the calls – so is it any wonder that cold calling isn’t working for you at the moment?!!


Reason No 3 – Inability To Deal With Rejection

This is always an interesting subject. This can affect anyone, particularly if you’re new to sales, new to cold calling, or only do it as part of your role. For example, if your role consists of mainly account management, if your boss has just told you that you need to start making cold calls, or you’ve started up your own business and need to start cold calling, then this could be affecting you right now!

Let’s face it – if you’re cold calling you’re going to face some rejection. Some of you will have to deal with the fact that people will give you objections. Some of you will have to deal with the fact that people will say ‘no’ directly to you. And some of you will have to deal with the fact that people will put the phone down on you fairly regularly.

When you’re cold calling, the majority of people you speak to are going to be hesitant, resistant and say no to you at some level. The point is, you’re not expecting to get a ‘yes’ on every call. You’re expecting that 90%, 95% sometimes even 97.5% of people are going to say no. The reason you’re calling is to get the smaller percentage of people that are going to say yes to you – yes I’ll consider you, yes I’ll meet with you, yes I’ll look at buying from you.

However if you can’t deal with (or learn to deal with) the rejection that you’re going to face, do you think that might stop you making the calls, or do your best to avoid it? Of course it will!


Reason No 4 – Failure To Stay Motivated

Cold calling can be difficult. And because of the amount of objections and rejection you face it can sometimes be difficult to stay motivated. However your failure to stay motivated could actually be causing you problems on your cold calls.

Many people I talk to find selling over the phone difficult. Particularly if your role involves selling face-to-face, or has done in the past. This is because when you sell face-to-face, you can read the other person’s body language, build rapport faster and watch their reaction when you deliver your price. However when you’re selling over the phone, all you have is your voice tone and your delivery.

And if your role involves a lot of cold calling, it’s very easy for your motivation levels to drop later in the day if you’re not careful! For many people cold calling is about sounding bright, enthusiastic, confident and certain. And all these traits can be heard in your voice tone, can’t they?

However, I’ve lost count of the amount of calls that have been made when the salesperson or business owner isn’t motivated. Their voice tone has gone from being bright and enthusiastic to bored, tired and disinterested. They might as well be saying ‘Hi it’s Andy from XYZ company…..you probably won’t be interested in what we have to offer…..you’ve probably happy with your existing supplier, so please put me out of my misery and tell me to go away, so I can ring someone else and hit my call target to get my boss off my back….’.

Now, you don’t have to be a genius to work out that making that sort of call is going to produce pretty much zero results, do you?!


This article is continued next month, where we look at 4 more reasons why your cold calling isn’t working for you. If you have any questions in the meantime, ask Andy your question here

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


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.salesbreakfast.net

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

Mar 03

Sales Lessons From Manchester United’s Carling Cup Win……

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

Manchester United’s win against Tottenham on penalties in the Carling Cup Final has been put down to goalkeeper Ben Foster pulling out a video ipod just before the penalty kicks started and watching previous footage of Tottenham’s penalty takers. Foster claims that doing this enabled him to better ‘guess’ where Tottenham’s penalty takers would place their kicks, and therefore give him an advantage in saving them! There’s more to this than meets the eye however, says leading Sales Expert Andy Preston, who explains what ‘sales lessons’ we can take from the incident……

It’s interesting that Ben Foster puts his success in the penalties down to watching the ipod video clips. There are some important things to note here than Ben himself probably isn’t aware of, that can have a positive effect when it comes to sales as well!

Let’s have a look at what positive impact the ipod ‘incident’ had on Ben, and how that relates to our own sales……..

Sales Lesson Number 1 – More Confidence

Do you think that purely by watching the video clips gave Ben more confidence about his ability to save the penalties? Of course it did! We all know that the good penalty takers don’t place the ball in exactly the same place every single time, but purely from watching the video clips, Ben would have had more confidence in his ability to save the kicks, right at the critical moment, just before the kicks were about to start.

Quick question – how often do you feel really confident before you pick up the phone, or go into a sales appointment?

Sales Lesson Number 2 – More Certainty

By watching the video clips of the kicks beforehand, do you think Ben felt more certain that he was going to save the kicks than he did before? Of course! Certainty is linked to confidence and is an inner feeling that you’re going to make something happen, no matter what. By being more certain in his abilities, Ben gave himself more chance of being successful in the penalty shootout.

Remember the quote from Hannibal? ‘I’ll either find a way or make one’. That is an example of certainty at work. It inspires the people around you as well, so could definitely have had an effect on Ben’s team mates taking the penalties as well. Just imagine a team starting a penalty competition with no confidence in their own goalkeeper!

Quick question – How certain do you feel that you’re going to do business with a prospect, prior to the call or appointment?

Sales Lesson Number 3 – Being Prepared

Preparation often leads to confidence. Without this step, often people’s confidence is affected. If he hadn’t watched those video clips, do you think Ben’s performance would have been affected in a negative way? Of course it would!

How often do you give yourself enough time to prepare for your sales calls or appointments? Enough so that you feel confident and certain in your ability to win the business?

Follow the tips above and watch for the massive improvement in your sales. I look forward to hearing about your successes!

Feb 27

How To Lose Business At Exhibitions!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why most companies struggle when it comes to getting business from exhibitions……and how some simple tips on what to do instead can make a huge difference……

As the market gets tougher, more and more people are turning to other ways of generating new business – cold calling, marketing and in particular, doing business through exhibitions.

Now for most businesses, their experience of exhibitions, conferences and roadshows is fairly limited. They have perhaps attended a few, maybe even exhibited at a few in the past, yet are still unsure as to how to get the best return-on-investment from them. In fact, when they do exhibit, they’re probably guilty of making some of the common mistakes that most people make when it comes to exhibiting.

The Common Mistakes That Mean You Losing Business At An Exhibition…..

Most people lose business at exhibitions because they commit some of the following common mistakes. Let’s look at these in turn and then what we can do to avoid them.

Mistake No 1 – Not Thinking About Your Outcomes Beforehand

This is a critical step that most people miss. It’s essential to think about what you want from an exhibition in advance! Is it to ‘showcase’ a new product? To gain new sales leads? To have a ‘presence’ for buyers and show them you’re still around and want their business?

You also need to think about what will make the exhibition a success for you. Is it number of new enquiries? Orders placed at the show? Orders that come in afterwards?

In addition, which potential customers are you hoping to meet at the show? Have you sent them specifically targeted invitations, perhaps to an event you’re hosting after the show starts?

Mistake No 2 – Trying To ‘Sell’ On The Stand

This is a huge mistake that most people make. Think about it – you’ve invested all that money, time and effort in having a presence at the exhibition, all the staff costs you’ve incurred for them attending, and you’re letting valuable sales leads ‘drift away’ because you’re caught up in conversations with other people trying to ‘sell’ them on what you offer? Big mistake.

Exhibitions should only be about the first part of your sales pipeline – meeting and qualifying your potential customer. Anything more and you’re going to be losing business because of the number of people you missed speaking to because you were too ‘caught up’ in trying to sell someone else what you offer.

Use the exhibition as a way of meeting, identifying and qualifying prospects, then you could potentially set up one-to-one meetings with prospects during the event in a quiet corner of the cafe, or an external venue. Alternatively why not do a presentation on your company after the show one evening, and arrange meetings after that?

You’ve paid good money for your company and your staff (and yourself!) to be at that exhibition. Don’t let valuable sales leads walk away because you’re too focused on one person.

Mistake No 3 – Not Being ‘On Top Of Your Game’

I’ve lost count of the number of exhibitions, conferences and roadshows where the company has spent a large amount of money on the exhibition stand, taken the majority of the sales team off the phones or the road in order to ‘man’ the stand for the event and then proceeds to allow (and in certain circumstances encourage) them to get seriously drunk in the evenings.

Now I’m the last person to stop someone enjoying themselves and having fun, but think about it. The amount of time, money and effort you’ve invested in the exhibition could go to waste if when the potential sales opportunity comes along, your salesperson isn’t at the top of their game and fails to deal with it properly.

At far too many exhibitions, salespeople appear visibly hung-over, tired, and sometimes even still smell of the previous night’s alcohol – not a great first impression for a potential new client, is it?

Exhibitions can be long days. You need all your energy and focus to maximise the sales opportunities that come your way, without ruining the opportunities before they even have a chance to get started.

Mistake No 4 – Not Following Up Properly

This is probably the biggest mistake of all! I regularly speak at exhibitions and conferences and I often go over to stands, engage the salespeople in conversation and show interest in their products and services. Usually they take my details (I give them my training company card) and I then wait to see how pro-active they are in following up my interest?

I reckon about 10% of the time I receive a phone call, and about 50% of the time I receive an email. That means that 40% of the time, I’m not getting any follow up from that company at all! And even more scarily 90% of the time, the salespeople don’t bother pick up the phone and call me! And I’m not alone – whenever I speak to others about this, those numbers seem to be about right for them as well.

So why would that be? Their company has spent all that time, effort and money to generate that lead, yet the salespeople don’t follow up? Here are three quick reasons that explain in more detail……

Reason 1 – Your Salespeople Didn’t Take The Exhibition Seriously

Some salespeople still see exhibitions as a chance to get away from work and get drunk on the company (see mistake number 4 above). They don’t take the leads seriously, see it as a hassle, and can’t wait to get back to ‘normal’ work.

Reason 2 – You Gave It To The Wrong Person To Follow Up

Another big reason is that you gave to the wrong person to follow up! A lot of the time, follow up is done by marketing departments or office staff, not trained salespeople – and then wonder why the leads don’t result in much business!

Reason 3 – You Left It Too Long!

People that are visiting exhibitions will probably be talking to you, and your competition. If they’re in the market for your product or service, they may well be talking to other suppliers outside the exhibition as well. Yet you’ve done the work, you’ve met the person, you’ve got the lead…..then what do you do? Wait a couple of weeks to follow it up? Hopeless!

Make sure if you’ve took the time, trouble and effort to get the lead in the first place, that you follow it up within 3 days, maximum!

Follow the tips above and watch for the massive improvement in your negotiations. I look forward to hearing about your successes!


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

Feb 03

Sales Negotiation Lessons From The Egyptians…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

 

Sales Negotiation Lessons From The Egyptians…..

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why most business owners struggle when it comes to negotiations (and in particular negotiating over their price)……and how some simple negotiation lessons can be learned from the Egyptians……

Whenever I’m working with business owners, something I often come across is a lack of confidence or comfort with the more critical parts of the sales process. Examples might be ‘objection handling’, ‘closing’ or in particular ‘negotiating’.

Particularly as the market is now getting tougher, those critical areas of the sales process are becoming even more critical – yet many business owners lack the attitude, skills and knowledge to be successful in those areas, particularly when it comes to negotiation.

That could be because they’re not used to negotiation, it could be that they’re naive to the tricks that the other side can play, or it could be that they’re desperate for the order and will cave in to any demand the other side will make. Or it could be a combination of any or all of those reasons! Whatever the reason, without some element of knowledge of the negotiation process, the business owner is going to continue to struggle.

So How Do The Egyptians Come Into This?…..

Over Christmas, I was working out in Egypt with a well-known, multi-national IT company. On the last afternoon of the course, we went into Cairo Old Town (my Egyptian friends will know I have the Arabic pronunciation well practiced, but I’ll use the English version here so everyone else understands what I’m on about!).

Cairo Old Town is well known for being a kind of market, a trading ‘zone’ where there are many small, independently owned shops where you can buy local goods, gifts and souvenirs.

The main business in the area is tourism, so therefore the shopkeepers are pretty well practiced at getting tourists into the shop, and trying to sell everything in the shop to them (or maybe it just feels like that) at the highest price possible!

Watching these guys operate is like watching masters at work! It’s fascinating. They are ‘old hands’ at bartering, trading and negotiating – why? Because they do it every day! They know what their potential buyers are going to say often before it comes out of their mouths! Everything they say and do is well practiced and designed to give them the upper hand in the negotiation.

So How Does That Relate To You?

Well, because the Egyptian traders are negotiating all day, every day, they are used to the things that happen in a negotiation. The things that the other side will do to try and gain the upper hand. That certain things you say can make….or break …..a deal.

If you’re not used to negotiating, yet the person you’re sat in front of negotiates far more often than you do (and has probably been on courses do learn how to do it well), doesn’t it stand to reason that you’re going to be at a disadvantage? That they’re more likely to get their outcomes than you are to get yours?

So what lessons can we learn from the Egyptians that will help us in our negotiations?

Andy’s Lesson No 1 – Be Prepared For The Negotiation

How prepared do you think those Egyptian traders were for their negotiations? And how prepared are you for yours?

Your first answer is probably something like ‘fairly prepared’. Think again! Has there ever been a time when someone has said to you ‘how much is that?’ or ‘how much do you charge?’ and you’ve not handled that with confidence and certainty?

How often have you mumbled a price? Or worse still, gone in at a lower price than you’d want to charge, and justified it to yourself as you ‘need’ the business?

You’ve just found yourself in the middle of a price negotiation…….unprepared!

Andy’s Lesson No 2 – Think About What You Want

This is essential before going into any negotiation. How often do you find yourself in the middle of a negotiation without any idea of what you actually want from it? I don’t mean what you’d ‘like’ to have, I mean a solid, tangible outcome that you want to achieve? Your minimum expectation from the negotiation otherwise you walk away? What your anticipated outcome is and why the other side should agree to that?

If you haven’t got this sorted before your negotiation starts, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Not to mention giving the other side everything they want…at your expense.

In the example of the Egyptian traders, do you think they’ve thought about what they want, even before they’ve started the negotiation with you? Of course they have!

Andy’s Lesson No 3 – Think About What The Other Side Might Want

Not only should you be thing about what you want, but also what the other side might want! What do you know about them so far? What might they be looking for from this negotiation? What have they been tasked with achieving by their bosses?

Another thing worth thinking about is what are their alternatives to dealing with you, or continuing dealing with you?

Far too often business owners go into a negotiation without thinking what the other side’s possible options are…..and end of agreeing to something that they never should have done – only to find out later that the other side were in a weaker position! Doh!

When you study the Egyptian traders, they’ve already thought about what you might want. They’ve asked you questions about what you’re looking for…..they find it (and if they don’t have it, they’ll get it off another stall to sell it to you) and therefore they’re in a very strong negotiation position!

They’ve asked you what you want, provided it, and now all they have to do is achieve the price they want! Simple!

Andy’s Lesson No 4 – Use Time To Your Advantage

Time can be a big advantage to you in a negotiation – if you use it wisely! You can speed things up to put pressure on the other side. You can slow things down to give you the advantage if the other side has some time pressure to conclude the negotiations (think car salesperson at the end of the month). Alternatively, don’t be afraid to postpone negotiations if you feel you’re not ready!

The Egyptian traders are great at this! They know you don’t have a lot of time to shop at the different places in the market. They know that you have more than likely come to the market to buy souvenirs. They know that you don’t want to go home empty handed, so if they make it easy for you, you will buy!

Follow the tips above and watch for the massive improvement in your negotiations. I look forward to hearing about your successes!

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

Jan 15

‘Selling In A Creative Industry’………

By Andy Preston | Design/Print/Media

The Challenge – You’re working in a creative industry and have a “sales element” to your role that requires you to bring in new business (or you’re in charge of hiring or managing a team to do so). However, you’d probably hate to think of yourself as a “salesperson” and hate the thought of being seen as one, and being seen as too “pushy”.

Do you think this might affect your ability to bring in new business?

Of course it will!

There are a number of reasons you (and a large number of others in the creative sectors) will struggle with sales over the next year or so, and to help you avoid falling into the traps that most of your competition will do, I’ve given you some reasons and some tips below.

So why will you struggle to get new business over the next year or so? Are you ready for some “home truths” that might hurt a little? Okay, off we go……

Reason No 1 – You’re too “soft and fluffy”

This is one of the biggest problems for people trying to sell in a any “creative” industry. You’ve either come into the industry as a “technical person”, i.e. web developer or graphic artist, or you’ve come into a role like PR account manager and think it’s all about taking clients out for lunch and being “nice” to them.

In either case you’re in for a bit of a shock. Winning new business is usually not about your level of technical skills or how “good” you are. Nor is it about how “nice” you are to the potential client. Nor is about how many times you take them out for lunch or the size of your expenses budget. And if the only thing that you think is different between you and your competitors is how much wine or champagne you can buy potential clients, then that’s a pretty sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

Don’t think that the best “creative” will win you new business either – it’s proving to be more and more the case that your sales skills or presentation skills (or lack of them) will either win you the business……or not.

Reason No 2 – You rely too much on your existing clients

For most creative companies and agencies this is most certainly the case. Whether it’s laziness, apathy or your comfort zone, this is probably the case in your company too.

Don’t believe me? Let’s put it to the test. If you were to lose your two biggest clients right now, what kind of impact would that have on your company or your sales figures? Now are you a little more concerned? Thought so!

Don’t think “oh that won’t happen to me” by the way, it happened to a Creative Director friend of mine a few months ago. His company lost two of their biggest clients at pretty much the same time, and the “salespeople” just seemed to accept it! No real efforts to try and win the accounts back, no real efforts to bring in new customers to replace them, just an attitude of “oh well, never mind”. Never mind? Are you mad? That kind of attitude will cost people jobs over the next 12 to 18 months – and expect yours to be one of them.

Most creative companies that I meet are too “top heavy” – they have one or two very large accounts that give them the majority of their business, and then a number of smaller accounts that aren’t as much of a priority. Make sure this isn’t the case for you, or if it is, you do something about it quickly!

As happened to that friend of mine, you can lose business through no fault of your own – companies merging or being taken over, new contact comes from another company with their own relationships and existing suppliers they are happy with for example. Make sure you have enough potential business in your pipeline to cover these eventualities. You do have a sales pipeline, don’t you?!!

Reason No 3 – Clients are cutting back

You’ve probably heard lots of people talking about the fact that we’re heading for a “recession”, or if you believe some people, we’re in one already! Now whilst I don’t completely buy-in to that mentality, it is true that clients are being more careful what they spend – particularly in the areas of marketing and PR.

Now I know that clients really shouldn’t cut back on marketing and PR, particularly in the current economic climate (and I’m sure you say that to them), but the fact is that they are doing so right now!

So even if you don’t lose your current top clients completely, if they suddenly drop their spend by 25%….or 50%…..where are you going to replace that work from? What “prospects” do you have that are spending the “lost” amount (or more) with your competitors? You do know how much your prospects are spending with your competitors don’t you? You do have a list of prospects you’d like to be converting into clients right now, and what you’re currently doing to convert them, don’t you?

The sad fact is for most of you, the answer to both those questions is probably “no”. Now you might have an “idea” in your head of who you might like to be working for, but it’s probably based on the strength of that company’s brand (or your own ego trip) that it is about how good that account would be to have, and how profitable it would be.

Reason No 4 – You lack the sales skills necessary to succeed

Oh, this is another tough one! Why not truly scare yourself and rate your current sales skills on a scale of 1-10, 1 being “hopeless” and 10 being “amazing, couldn’t be any more perfect” and see where you think you are when it comes to new business sales skills. And answer it honestly…… 😉

Why not have a look at the attributes of a top “new business” salesperson and see how you fare in these areas? Things like Tenacity? Determination? Resiliance? Confidence?

How about the skills or activities needed to bring in new business? Cold Calling? (you do that, rather than shy away from it, don’t you?), Getting Past Gatekeepers? Objection Handling? Making Appointments? Closing?

You might think I’m being a little tough on you, but it’s for a good reason! If you don’t do something about this now, you’re going to lose business to your competition that you could have won, and struggle in sales or in business in general.

How would you rate your sales skills against an experienced professional salesperson from one of your biggest competitors? People that you’re probably going to come up against time and time again when you’re trying to get new clients?

When was the last time you invested in yourself (or your business) and had some professional sales training that will help give you the skills you currently lack and help you win more business easily?

And having read this article, are you going to do something about it? Or are you going to continually sit there and be miserable and continue to struggle, while your competition are taking business off you hand-over-fist?

I hope I’ve inspired you to take the steps necessary to focus on (and win) more new business. I look forward to hearing about your sales “wins” and the situations you learn from!

If you liked what you read above, and you’re interested in knowing more about how we may be able to help you, call 0845 130 6779 or contact us here….

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2009. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Jan 05

How To Have Your Best Sales Year Ever!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

I always find it interesting at this time of year how people’s attitudes can affect the actions they take towards having a successful year, or an unsuccessful one! Particularly given the current market conditions, a good start to the year is possibly more important than ever!

It’s also a very interesting part of the year, as many people choose to set ‘new year resolutions’. These resolutions are usually set around personal things like losing weight, stopping smoking, or exercising more often for example, but most people don’t tend to set them for their sales careers or for their business.

On a humourous note, the resolutions that they do set are probably the ones they set last year (and broke in early January), and the year before, and the year before that…and so on!

With that in mind, below I’ve given you a list of areas to focus on, that if you read and take action based on them, will help to make 2009 your best sales year ever – regardless of the market conditions!

So let’s have a look at these in turn……


Andy’s Sales Tip No 1 – Get Focused

It’s always very important to get focused on what you do and make sure you do it as well as possible, but in the current market conditions it’s more important than ever! Perhaps over the past few months (or even longer in some cases) you’ve allowed yourself to be distracted by other things. Well now’s a really good time to re-focus your energy and your efforts.

If you’re a business owner or salesperson, look at your core sales proposition and your core activities. Are these as strong as they could be? Can you clearly articulate what benefits your product or service brings to the customer? Do you do that regularly enough on your marketing literature, your website, your emails and verbally to clients and prospects?

Andy’s Sales Tip No 2 – Stay Positive

Staying positive is another crucial part of making 2009 your best sales year ever. As in any other year, you’re going to experience some setbacks. If you’ve heard me speak you’ll know how much I drive home the point that it isn’t what happens to you that natters, it’s your attitude to what happen to you that matters!

If you’re been watching television, listening to the radio or reading newspapers for the last few months you’ll have heard negative message after negative message about the economy, lack of sales and that people aren’t buying. Is that going to help or hinder your attitude towards getting new business?

Which do you think customers and prospects value more, someone who sounds like they’re terminally depressed, or someone who remains upbeat and positive about their company, products and services, and themselves? Which do you think they’re going to buy from?

Andy’s Sales Tip No 3 – Do More Prospecting

More than ever before, prospecting is vital to your chances of making 2009 your best sales year ever. The challenge is that when market conditions are easier (as they have been for the past few years) prospecting is one of the first things that a business owner or a salesperson stops doing!

In a market where people are negotiating harder with you and you’re losing business through no fault of your own (customers being taken over, going out of business etc) then doesn’t it stand to reason that you need to do more prospecting?

So whether you prospect by networking, referrals from existing clients, cold calling, whatever method you use, just make sure you do more of it! Let’s be honest, there are people out there that have a need for what you offer, but don’t know you exist! Make sure you do more prospecting, it’s one of the keys to making this year a success for you.

Andy’s Sales Tip No 4 – Look For More Cross-Selling / Up-Selling Opportunities

Once again, in an easier market, simple up-selling and cross-selling opportunities are often overlooked. You’ve probably got plenty of existing clients that don’t use every product or service you offer, haven’t you? I wonder if you’ve ever heard the immortal words from a client ‘oh I didn’t know you did that’ when you asked them why they’ve just bought from a competitor?

One of the first things you can do is make clients aware of your full product range or all of the services that you offer. This maximises your cross-selling opportunities. In a market where the economic conditions aren’t as good as they were previously, one of the quickest ways to get more business is to get more orders from your existing client base! Think about it – they already like you, have done business with you and have everything set up to order from your company – why not get them to order more items from you?

Another important area to look at is up-selling opportunities. Every single time a customer places an order with you, you’ve got an opportunity to ‘up-sell’ them to a higher priced item. A lot of people don’t feel confident in doing this and ‘assume’ if the customer wanted the higher-priced item, they would have asked for it! Don’t make the same mistake. Why not offer the client 2 options on their next order? It’s an easy way to get more business!

Andy’s Sales Tip No 5 – Keep Your Sales Skills Updated

This is always an interesting one! In any of my seminars of speeches, whenever I ask the question ‘how many of you have read a sales book, listened to a CD or done something to hone your sales skills in the last 6 months?’ hardly anyone puts their hands up! I find this astounding.

Some people say ‘Oh I don’t have time’, some people say ‘oh I don’t need I, I know what I’m doing’ and even more frighteningly some business owners say ‘oh I’m not a salesperson!! How crazy is that?

If you’re in a competitive market right now (if you have competition, that’s you!) then your sales skills (or lack of them) could be the difference between you winning a customer, and losing a customer. How are your cold calling skills? Your questioning skills? Your objection handling skills? Your closing skills? Could they do with some work? You have to work on these and keep yourself ‘sharp’ so you don’t miss out on sales opportunities you could have won!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing of your sales success!


Want to learn more? This month I’m doing a webinar on ‘How To Make 2009 Your Best Sales Year Ever’. Contact me through the webpage and quote ‘Andy’s Blog’ and the first 10 people get a free place with my compliments (normally £77).