Archive for 31. December 2009

Sales Consulting

Sales ConsultingI love my job. My mission statement says “…provide immediate sales results…” When I walk into a new business I get a chance to tweak their sales process just enough to do just that.

I get to make an immediate positive sales impact on their business.

What make me especially good at my job is my 25+ years of sales, sales training and especially sales management experience. There is rarely a time when I can’t look at a company’s sales process and pick out the areas that can easily be tweaked.

I was doing just that this week when towards the end of the meeting the business owner was making detailed notes and he was inserting his words into my process. It dawned on me that I wasn’t clear in what I was saying.

He substituted the word “qualify” for “probing questions.” 

“Let’s qualify the prospect to make sure they can purchase our product.”

That’s great and definately needed but that doesn’t mean that they WILL buy your product. That is where the salesmanship comes into play. There is a difference between qualifying questions and probing questions. Qualifying is a fundamental task, probing questions are part of the actual sales process. Just that small tweak, that understanding that there is a difference is why many companies need a sales consultant.

Business owners and C-level executives get stuck on what they perceive is ultimately important. Typically they are right they need this particular information – HOWEVER that is not the “end-all, be-all” of the conversation.

Just this small tweak delivered by a Georgia Sales Consultant can make the difference of converting a prospect to a customer:

“Prospects become customers for their own reasons not yours.”

I love my job.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Atlanta Sales Consultant / Georgia Sales Consultant

Can you trust a salesperson?

Can you trust a salesperson - Atlanta Sales TrainingIf you are a regular reader of this blog you will know my motto which is

Sales is a process and that process can be taught!

So I believe that every person with a few needed characteristics, some energy and tenacity should be able to succeed in sales.

So why is it that so many salespeople fail? They can be good listeners, very good at describing their products. They can follow the sales process all the way to the close and still not get the sale.

When this happens enough times the salesperson rightly so starts 2nd guessing themselves, their product, and their company. Ultimately they just move on.

They move on to another product and/or a new company and the whole process starts over – they become adequate or worse they fail again.

You have probably met this salesperson yourself. They are on their 9th job in 15 years. They appear to be great at their  job. That is why they get so many opportunities to move on to new challenges.

Again my view is that salespeople can be trained. People are not necessarily born to sell, they have to learn the skill set. That is what I teach in my Atlanta Sales Training classes. The sales process and how that process if followed can make them successful.

If they continue to fail after following the sales process then it boils down to one major point. Look at the picture above – Is this person ready to buy? The answer is obviously no.

She is missing the “trust” factor. While trying to build rapport the sales representative missed one of the fundamental tasks that must be accomplished around each phase fo the process. In this case the rep failed to build trust in himself, which leads to mistrust in his company and product.

People buy from people they trust!

The only exception to that fundamental rule is when they are “held at gunpoint,” or “over a barrel” and they have to buy. Stuck on the side of the road with a car repair is a good example or being held at gun point.

Other than that if you fail to build trust you will not complete the sale. So the next time you run into that salesperson that is on their 9th job in 15 years, help them out a little bit, talk to them about building trust on every step in the sales process.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Telephone Sales Training

telephone sales trainingI spent the 1st 10 years of my career either flying or driving to my next sales call. I was a real life traveling salesperson.  A road warrior.

During this time my career excelled. I started in sales, move up to sales management, did a little brand management, and a whole lot of sales training.

It was a great job and a great company to work for. We always hit our numbers and we grew like a weed.

Then something funny happened… I started a family and the road started getting tough.

By 1999 I had enough of flying every single week to a new location. I loved the job and the company but I wanted to sleep in my own bed for at least a decade.

Here’s what I did: I made an amazing jump to an inside sales position. I went back to being an account representative making outbound cold calls for a local Internet company. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I may never go back on the road again.

What has led me to believe that I will never go back on the road again?

My 1st, 2nd, and 3rd largest sales have been made to people who I have never met face to face! That’s right I have learned that people will give you money right over the telephone!

Inside sales, telephone sales, telesales, call center sales, what ever you want to call it, it works. People buy from people they trust. You can build that trust without physically meeting them.

Telephone sales is extremely cost efficient.  You can make more sales calls from one telephone in one day than you can make in a week using your car. Add in the cost of fuel, insurance, meals, hotels and other travel expenses and you can see why so many corporations have turned to telephone sales to at least produce leads or set solid appointments.

Once you move beyond lead production and appointment setting you will need to conduct formal telephone sales training to get the telesales process down.

Formal telephone sales training is needed for your representatives so they can learn the new skills that will allow them to perform at a high level. It’s not enough to just smile and dial.

Your representatives will need to be formally trained. Here are just a few items that they will need instruction on:

  1. New listening skills
  2. Painting the virtual picture
  3. Anticipating and delivering trial closes
  4. “Reading” the customer’s emotional state
  5. Identifying time frames, budgets and decision makers
  6. Lead tracking

All of those items will have to be explored as well as training on the standard sales process.

Telephone sales can be extremely profitable, rewarding and a very fun job. But to get started on the right foot please send your sales representative to a formal telephone sales training class in your area.

Failure to do so will probably result in a lot of “pissed” off prospects and a huge ongoing turnover in your sales force. Train them right when they start. Don’t let them develope bad habits.

 David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Ha – I was going to buy it

Sales Consultant Georgia, I tried to buy it.Here’s a little known fact, actually it is a well-known fact that is just plain ignored most of the time:

If you let them people will buy the items that you offer. It may not happen every single time that you offer it but it will happen. Just keep offering your goods and services and someone, at sometime, will buy it!

Here’s is a real life situation that happened to me just yesterday. I went to get my oil changed at one of the nationally branded oil change businesses. These companies have been around since the 1970’s, and these days they do much more than just oil changes. 

These days they can do almost any simple maintenance from greasing the transaxle, to changing a wiper blade. And if you go to the same one enough times they know what you need.

You probably know this drill, I went in for an oil change and an emissions check. A few minutes later the technician starts walking towards me with his clipboard. I know what he wants, he’s going to offer me a plethora of other services. 

I’m in sales and I even hate to see these guys walking towards me. You know on that clipboard are the things that I’m supposed to be doing to this car. There was one item that I was going to give him today even before he opened his mouth. I know that I need to change the transmission fluid.

As a Sales Consultant working in Georgia I can’t help but critique these selling situations. And this one was bad. Here’s how it went down…

Salesperson: “The manufacturer recommends that you change the transmission fluid every “x” amount of miles. It’s been “x+” so you need to do it. We have two services one that drains and fills for $39.99 and one that drains, fills, and flushes for $99.99.”

Me: “So what’s the difference again?” (I couldn’t understand him he was mumbling and  looking down at his clipboard as he spoke.)

Salesperson:  “The $39.99 drains and fills, but the $99.99 drains, fills, and flushes and that is what I recommend that you have done today.”

Okay so far so good. Besides the mumbling, the rapid speech, and talking to the clipboard, I’m about to buy a transmission fluid change for $39.99. But wait…

Just before I say let’s do it, he says…

Salesperson: “I would never do the $39.99 service its worthless.”

Hmmm so this nationally branded oil change business is trying to rip me off with a worthless service. Sounds like a quick call to the Better Business Bureau is needed here.

I didn’t call the BBB on this outlet. I knew he probably didn’t mean what he said. He was trying to sell me. But as a sales consultant I’m thinking about the impact on this chain’s business if this “salesperson” is doing this 15 times a day, 5 days a week! That is almost 4,000 bad sales pitches every year.

Heck, I tried to give them $39.99, now I’m going to give them a cold call on Monday morning. I think they could use just a little bit more sales training!

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Atlanta Sales Consulting

Atlanta sales consultingOne of the reasons why I like being an Atlanta Sales Consultant is that I get to work with companies that are in their infancy. Especially their sales infancy.

Lately I have been specializing as an Internet Sales Consultant. Most of the Internet web sites that I work with have a lot of traffic, some sales, some customer service, and a fair bit of automation. What most of these web sites are missing is enough revenue to stand on their own two feet.

By the time they get to me they have already optimized their sites (SEO or Search Engine Optimization) for their favorite Internet keywords. Sometimes they have a couple  hundred of these keywords being optimized. Also there is typically a lot of PPC (Pay for Clicks) happening as well. So there is qualified traffic.

My job as a sales consultant is to find the right path that will be used moving forward to monetize the site. I don’t try to reinvent the wheel. They know what they should be selling  however they really don’t know the best method to sell that product.

I’m working on a case right now that allows me to cold call other web sites trying to sell my client’s  backend services. It took me a little time to get the owner to see the light on the types of prospects we should be calling on. I’m going to proceed in this manner for at least a month then I’m going to send this prospecting to a call center to produce the leads.

If one person can show success gathering leads and closing sales image having 25 people calling  on this same sales path using a BPO (Business Process Outsource Company) for lead production.

What has struck me as unbelievable is that how hard the web sites that I’m trying call make it to get in touch with them. Why is it that people (webmasters, or web site owners) think that if you create a beautiful site that people will automatically follow your path and purchase exactly like you expected them to purchase.

I  bet  30% of the web sites I’m trying to call on don’t even  have a phone number. Are you kidding me, people buy from people they trust and you will not even give me your phone number?

Another 20%  either A: refuse to give you their email address or B: post the email address in a picture, or written  as “david (at) AtlantaSalesandConsulting (dot) com.” These  web sites are trying to MAKE SURE that you never contact them.

They are screaming at the top of their voice saying UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES do we want to hear from you.

I know what they meant to say. I think they were trying to say that the best method to contact us is the contact form. But what they really said is DAMN IT, I TOLD YOU NOT TO CALL!

Here’s the ironic point of it all. I’m going to find you, that is what I do. And when I do get you on the phone we are going to have a good conversation. That’s what I do. I make you feel comfortable, I make you want to listen, I give that warm and fuzzy that at least  allows me to carry on a conversation.

These web site owner must be made to understand that very few people will take the time to find them. And if they can’t get a hold of a person then how will the web site give them the warm and fuzzy that they need? Instead they are going to go… Click. They move away from these sites quickly and the site owners are left scratching their heads.

Okay that’s harsh but I spend a lot of time consulting with Internet web site owners on how to monetize their sites. Having me tell you to put your name, company name, address, phone number, and best email contact is not part of the money that you will pay me. If I don’t see at least that you don’t even get to talk to me about monetizing your web site.

Sorry, sales consultants like myself like to work with professional businesses. Just because you have a web site that is nice to look at doesn’t automatically make you a professional business.

So quit scratching your head, put your contact information on every page possible. Make it easy for prospects to get a hold of you.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Yes or No, I just need to know!

Follow-up calls, yes or no I just need to knowI just left a networking event at the Chamber of Commerce this morning. At these events I always give a free sales tip when it is my time to speak.  Today’s tip was “you have to make that next call.”

It’s true if you don’t make that next call no one  else will.

After the meeting several people came up to me to thank me for the tip and they brought up the next logical question. How do you know when to stop calling?

Does this sound like you?

“I keep calling  this solid prospect that definitely needs my product yet they will not return my call.”

This is a very common problem that I cover in my Atlanta Sales Training classes. How do you know when it is time to stop calling? How do you know if a lead is dead if your prospect will not pick up the phone or send you an email?

Let’s look at this from your prospects point of view. There are probably a couple of reasons they are not returning your calls.

  1. They might not know anything new about your project so they don’t want to return the call yet. (“I’ll call him when I need him.”)
  2. They may be very busy. (This is typically not the reason, so don’t think that this is the reason.)
  3. More often than not – The project has been delayed, cancelled, or awarded to another firm and they are AFRAID to tell you no.

That’s right. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, so it is easier just to ignore your call. Their thinking is, eventually you will stop calling and they never have to tell you no.

And that is the frustrating part for sales representatives. Do you just stop calling? The answer is obviously no. You can’t stop calling until you get either a yes, no, or a  maybe. It’s pretty simple this prospect is either cold, medium, or hot. But until you can define what you have you must keep calling.

My suggestion is to change the message that you are leaving the prospect on their voicemail or email.

Change it from:

“This is David, I’m just following-up to see if  we are preceding…”

Change it to:

“This is David, I haven’t heard from you, I feel like I’m bugging you but could you please tell me if this project is moving forward. It is really okay if it isn’t I just need to know…”

A sales reps time is valuable. And by clogging up your prospects voicemail you are technically wasting their time. But in the end they need to tell you yes, no, or maybe.

Keep calling  just change your message. If it really is a no then you need to know. Nothing is worse for either the rep or the prospect than another call that is just wasting everyone’s time.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

New Hire Sales Training

new hire sales trainingI was rewriting my new hire sales training program last week to try to drill down to the basic points that can be achieved in a 2.5 day training seminar.

The sales process is not that complicated but it does take practice. Each of the process steps of Open, Probe, Pitch and Close could be a class on their own. However in a 2.5 day seminar each step becomes just a 3 hr class.

Within that 3 hours also comes role-playing on each step as well so each rep can practice the process. So I try to break down the 3 hour segment to 2 hours of teaching in an interactive manner and 1 hour of intense role-playing.

New hire sales people, especially those who have never sold anything need the basics of the sales process and they need the fundamental tasks that must be accomplished every day. Those fundamental tasks were spelled out in yesterday’s post.

The newly hired sales representatives should leave each step in the process with the basic understanding on WHY you need to move each sale in a specific direction. Also they need to leave knowing what happens if you skip or rush a particular segment of the sales process.

I have a lot of favorite sayings. Here’s another one –

“Watch out for the sale that closes a little to quickly, typically this means that A: Someone else around you has already educated the customer and they are going to be very mad that you just sold them or B: They just bought it and will probably return it when it doesn’t fulfil their needs.”

New hires need to stay on the path. It is always open, probe, pitch and close. Don’t rush the sales process or skip around on the process. Never open then close, or pitch then probe. It is a process for a reason.

Teach your new hire sales representatives to follow the path of the sales process. In the end they will be much more prepared for what is thrown at them on a daily basis.

To read about my new hire sales training program click here.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

Atlanta Sales Training

Atlanta Sales TrainingSales is a process that can be taught.

We at Atlanta Sales Training believe that if you can get your sales department to learn the  sales process then you can be successful. No question about it… sales is a process that can be taught. So if you believe like we believe then not only can it be taught it can be learned and applied.

The sales process is OPEN, PROBE, PITCH and CLOSE. Pretty simple. There are about 900 different approaches to that sales process depending on who is doing the sales training. But in the end you have to do those 4 things well to succeed.

Around that sales process is also other “fundamental tasks” that must be accomplished on a daily basis. These include prospecting, lead tracking, follow-up both before and after the sale, product training, etc. These fundamental tasks happen daily if not hourly.

The fundamental tasks all support the sales process. The sales process is used as a guide to let you know where you are in the sale and what should happen next. The process if followed properly and in order will lead you right to a close.

If your sales department is having trouble closing the sale then maybe it should take a step back and ask the question of every prospect… “Just where is this  prospect in the sales process?” You may find that you are NOT having trouble with closing you are having other process issues.

David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting