Great salespeople are made not born.
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The selling landscape has changed.  Simply showing up and telling your customer about your company and it’s products and services just doesn’t cut it with today’s more demanding buyers.  Sellers have to provide more value than product knowledge or pricing – things the customer can often learn on their own with a few clicks.  In fact, recent research suggests that most customers don’t even engage a salesperson until they are 60% of the way through the buying process!

To compete in the new world of selling, you need to be equipped with better skills – skills that don’t simply get acquired by adding years of experience.  Making the same selling mistakes over and over again will not make you better.  There ARE selling techniques and strategies which work better than others and the good news is that you can learn them if you’re committed to continued growth.

Northbound’s methodologies work – period.  They have been culled from hundreds of sources and have been proven to work in the real world.  Our programs contain street tested ideas and actions that you can put into practice immediately.  The formidable combination of workshops, coaching and tools will help you implement the ideas into your own sales process.

Click here for a complete list of workshops for salespeople.

Click here to learn about full sales team development programs.

Contact us to arrange a complimentary no obligation workshop.  Contact Michael at mcaron@northboundlearning.com or 416.456.1440 to get details.  We are always happy to discuss your sales challenges.

Workshops for Salespeople

Resources

This is a great article from Fast Company on the importance of daily practice in mastering anything – skateboarding or sales.  It emphasizes that quantity, not quality is what needs to happen.  Ask yourself, when was the last time I honed my selling skills by formal practice?  Most salespeople should be practicing the fundamentals weekly and any new skill, daily, as the article suggests.  See the full article here.

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Knowing where your time is being used will allow you to spend more time on the sales activities that make you money.

 
I don’t read many books but at least I try to implement good ideas from the ones I do get around to reading.  One of the oldest books on my shelf that is still in my top 10 is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  The chapter on time management speaks of all activities in you life fitting into one of four quadrants.  The concept is that there are two variables that can be attached to any activity: 1) Level of urgency and 2) Level of importance.  Plotting one of these against the other produces four quadrants as in the diagram below.  Armed with this insight, you’ll be able to make better choices deciding what you’re going to spend your time on and be more effective.

Let’s first be sure we understand the difference between urgency and importance as people often confuse them with each other.  “Importance” represents the amount of value that this activity brings to you.  A good example would be preparing a proposal for a big prospect.  On the other hand, “urgency” refers to how quickly it needs to be done.  Responding to a complaint from your biggest customer is a good example of an urgent activity.  Combining both urgency and importance allow us to place them in quadrants 1 through 4.  You’ll see some examples of common activities also noted in the diagram.

The problem is when we end up spending most of our time reacting to urgent activities, quadrants 1 & 3, the important but non-urgent activities in quadrant 2 take a back seat — sometimes forever!  People who live in the world of urgency often love the thrill of the accompanying adrenaline rush but fail to grow.  Sadly, they also find themselves suffering from areas of their career and life that have been ignored.  We’ve all heard the stories of hard driving executives whose health is failing.

Closer to home, I’ve see countless salespeople who want greater sales success but can’t manage to find the time to attend training sessions or do 1 more hour of prospecting each week.  They spend their time on low value, urgent things or even worse, low importance, low urgency activities like surfing the web or watching TV.  They “major in the minors.”  I’m not saying that web surfing and TV can’t be very entertaining but if it’s at the expense of building your career, getting healthy or spending time with your kids, I’d argue that it’s not the best use of one’s time.

Why does this happen?  Because quadrant 2 activities take planning and discipline to happen.  They don’t just appear out of nowhere crying for your attention whereas urgent activities, by definition, do.  If you don’t workout today, what’s the big deal?  It won’t kill you — at least not today.  If you don’t make those 3 extra calls, it’s not going to kill your career — at least not today.

Your homework:  Set the alarm on your smartphone to alert you every half hour.  When it goes off, write down what you did in the last 30 minutes.  Do this for 3 days and then mark beside each item which quadrant it falls into.  Add them up in total time.  I promise you that you will be shocked when you see how much time you are spending in quadrants 3 & 4.  I’m also very confident that you will want the time you spent on quadrant 2 activities to increase.  The good news is that after this exercise, it will start to happen as you gain increased awareness and focus of where your time is going.

Effective people, in sales or otherwise, are experts in managing their time and have developed a ruthless approach to “time suckers.”  Apply this knowledge and you too can be one of these people.

Happy selling.

Megahorn Medium

There’s a difference between being persistent and being a pest!

“What’s a reasonable amount of follow-up?”  “If I’m not getting a response, when should I give up?”  “Am I jeopardizing the sale if I’m too persistent?”  These are all questions that often come up in our Power Prospecting workshop.  How often to contact a prospect is a complex subject and one that I hope to clear up for you.  Let’s take a deeper look at this issue.

The effort required to connect with someone, especially by phone, is dramatically greater today than it was even a few years ago.  In the mid-90’s, just when voicemail was becoming commonplace, a business person could expect to connect to another business person 22% of the time or just shy of 1 in 5 times.  Today, that number has jumped to 1 in 7.  With the daily tsunami of email, getting people to respond by phone is more difficult than ever.  This adds up to salespeople getting pushed to the bottom of the priority list in the business world.

To get someone’s attention and raise the level of urgency requires more frequent contact attempts than most salespeople are initially comfortable with.  I think you’ll agree that proper business etiquette is to return voicemails within a day.  For this reason, if you don’t connect live and instead, have to leave a voicemail, I recommend you give your prospective customer a day or so to return it.  It’s helpful to set the expectation in your voicemail by saying something like, “If you don’t have a chance to get back to me in the next couple of days, I’ll try you again at your desk on Thursday morning.”  When you call them on Thursday, this does a couple of things for you.  First, it separates you from some salespeople in that you kept your promise.  Second, your prospect will quickly understand that you’re going to be persistent in a polite, professional way.

A popular mistake by some salespeople is the mind reading they do of their prospect. “Gee, they haven’t called me back so I guess that means they aren’t interested.  I don’t want to annoy them.”  This assumption is very wrong.  In the vast majority of cases, your prospects are busy people, just like you are, and unfortunately, returning sales calls falls to the bottom of their to-do list.  When you eventually do connect, you will find that your polite persistence will most often generate a response something like, “I got your voicemails.  I’m really sorry I haven’t called you back.  We’ve just been crazy busy around here.”  Frankly, I’ve made over 3000 prospecting calls since founding Northbound and I’ve only had one person ever say, “If I were interested, I would have called you back.”  That’s right … ONE!  Just last week, I finally got through to two prospective customers who I had left several voicemails and emails with.  Did they say, “Michael, you are annoying me.  I’m obviously not interested.” Not at all.  In fact, both of them apologized profusely for not getting back to me and I booked meetings with each of them.

Polite, professional persistence is what often separates low performers from the great ones.

Your actions this week:

  1. Mix up your contact methods with prospects you’re trying to connect with this week.  Use a  combination of voicemail, email, LinkedIn messages, hand written notes, personal visits, even fax!  You’ll see that it increases your response.
  2. Keep careful track of your contact attempts along with dates.  Try to get at least 2 contact attempts in per week and don’t give up until you’ve tried at least 7 times.

Northbound’s “Connecting to Mr. Big Cheese” workshop teaches you a proven system to connect with high level decision makers and motivate them to want to meet.  To learn more or for pricing, contact Michael at mcaron@northboundsales.com or 416.456.1440.

Happy prospecting!

Negotiations

We define a win/win negotiation, as an agreement that is equally beneficial to everyone.

All parties come out of a negotiation with a workable agreement that benefits everyone involved. If your current negotiation strategies are not working for you, change your strategy. Think win/win and let the other person know about it right away. Be up front and explain your strategy. Talk about the benefits to both of you from this approach. This type of negotiation will produce a satisfactory agreement for both sides, and in a style that will leave both parties satisfied. Win/Win Negotiation involves these seven steps:

1. UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE – People negotiate with people. Getting their agreement that a Win/Win approach is fair and good for business over the long haul.

2. UNDERSTANDING THEIR INTERESTS AND ISSUES – Both business and personal. Know what the win/win looks like. Determine how you can satisfy what they are looking for and what you are looking for.

3. EXPLORING AND INVENTING OPTIONS – Brainstorm several options that make sense.

4. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT – Know what you want the deal to look like after the negotiation. Specifically, what will make this a fair arrangement for you?

5. KNOW WHAT THEY WANT – Interview all the key people involved. Make sure you understand what they want.

6. DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Understand their motivations style and adapt your style to address these motivations. Research answers to the important issues involved in this negotiation in advance. Consider the important questions and concerns everyone will have.

7. FINDING MUTUAL SATISFACTION – What do the parties want? What constitutes a win for each person involved?

So the best negotiating technique is a Win/Win approach. It is based on collaboration and refers to partnering with the customer, so that the end result is a satisfactory outcome (a win/win) for both sides. Collaboration allows both sides to come out as winners. Never underestimate the importance of preparing to negotiate. Pre-Negotiating Planning allows salespeople to understand the prospect’s needs and motivation and provides the essential elements to make the win-win a reality.

About the author – Len D’Innocenzo is a Co-founder of Corporate Sales Coaches, a US based provider of cutting edge performance development programs for over 20 years. Northbound Learning has an exclusive Canadian partnership with Corporate Sales Coaches.