How To Overcome The Top 10 B2B Sales Challenges

How to Overcome The Top 10 B2B Sales Challenges

 

 

The number of salespeople meeting and or exceeding sales quota is dropping each year. Why? If you were in the quality department and not sales you would find root causes. What are the top 10 root cause problems B2B salespeople face and how to you solve them?

 

Thomas Williams and Thomas Sain just released an excellent book: The Seller’s Challenge to help salespeople and sales leaders fix common sales problems.

 

Why is The Seller’s Challenge relevant to every B2B seller and their leaders?

 

Take a look at some of the common sales problems this book discusses and gives you applicable advice to solve.

 

  • What is the best way to sell multiple buyers?
  • What is the best way to research and execute a sales call that moves the sale?
  • How do I influence buyers who are strongly committed to a different course of action? (they are happy with what they have)
  • Why are y sales calls bombing and how can I fix this sales problem?
  • What is the best way to address gatekeepers?
  • Why is the status quo my #1 competitor?
  • When should I participate in an RFP?
  • Why is selling to committees so hard and what should I do?
  • What is the best way to manage price and discount demands?

 

Do I have your attention now?

 

The authors captured my attention because I frequently was asked to solve a number if not all of these sales problems in my career.

 

Not only did I find the content extremely relevant to solve seller challenges, but the way it is written is brilliant.

  • A summary of the sales challenge
  • A story to help you quickly emotionally connect to it
  • Discussion of the challenge and all the dynamics involved
  • An illustration or model to resolve the sales problem
  • A solution and best practices
  • Summary of key takeaways
  • Commitment and action steps quickly after the content for the reader to apply what they just learned
  • Chapter addendums illustrating exactly how to implement the best practices

If you are like me and have been in a sales role or leading sales teams you will agree sales has changed a great deal over the years. I find companies continue to be prisoners to outdated sales processes and they fail to identify the root cause of their sales problems they face each day. The result? Sales teams continue to fail to achieve sales and profit quotas year over year.

 

What do most sales managers recommend who have not read this book?

  • Try harder
  • Try more
  • Sign up for Sales training

Or my personal favorite: “Just make it happen!”

 

And how’s that working for you?

 

Be honest its just us…

 

I highly recommend The Seller’s Challenge as a strategy roadmap to help your sales team achieve and surpass their sales quotas by fixing some of the most common root cause problems they face in todays marketplace.

 

 

 

 

Achieve Sales Goals: Turn “Sales Rep’s” Into “Trusted Advisors”

Achieve Sales Goals: Turn “Sales Rep’s” Into “Trusted Advisors”

 

 

On average 48% of salespeople fail to achieve their sales quotas…why? The number of salespeople not achieving sales plan continues to grow year over year…why? Why do 58% of buyers surveyed share meeting with the sales rep today added no value to the buying process? We have 79% of business buyers share it’s absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson that is a trusted advisor.

 

It is time we turn “sales rep’s” into “trusted advisors “ and the book: The Trusted Advisor by David Maister gives you a roadmap to accomplish this objective.

 

The author starts the first chapter with a simple yet critical question I want you to think about.

 

“What benefits would you realize  if your customers trusted you more?”

 

Maister then goes on to share a list of benefits your company and your sales associate will realize when your buyers trust you more. There is a list of 16 benefits and below are three I have personally experienced.

 

  1. They reach out to you for advice
  2. They bring you in on more advanced strategic issues
  3. They share more information that helps you help them

 

This is not the first thought leader to discuss the importance of trust. In Stephen Covey’s book: The Speed of Trust he shares the specific financial impact to your companies’ bottom line when you have high trust.

 

Where do your salespeople fall on the client advisor relationship spectrum?

 

First we have salespeople who sell on price. It drives us nuts, we have taught them to sell based on the value our product or solution provided but the reality is they sell on price.

 

Then we have product experts, subject matter, and process experts. If a client shares a problem with them (big if) then they connect the dots to solve the problem with a product or service.

 

Next we have the subject matter expert problem solver. This type of salesperson clearly understands their customers, markets and common problems they have. They hunt for customers with those problems and help clients solve them. They are a valuable resource for their customers.

 

Last and the level very few salespeople achieve is that of the Trusted Advisor. They have product, market, and application knowledge. They also know how to help solve problems. The big difference is they also know the customers business of their business. They have a strong grasp of financial business drivers and business acumen. They ask questions and help customers find better more efficient and effective ways to run their businesses and they have a measurable impact on their customer’s bottom line.

 

This level of sales professional is seen as a trusted advisor to their customers because they use a value based sales approach.

 

As you can tell I like to share sales and marketing research findings on why buyers buy and must have in our markets of today to make buying decisions. (Sorry)

 

To paraphrase the research results from a report by The Rain Group…

 

“85% of buyers today expect salespeople to present their solution and identify the value it will bring and less than 15% of salespeople today actually meet this key buyer need.”

 

So how you feeling right now?

 

Are we hitting a little too close to home?

 

From my experience with business owners and investors they usually admit this conversation makes them feel a bit uncomfortable.

 

They know what they want: profitable repeatable growth.

 

They have invested in a sales team, marketing, operations and often product development to achieve what their shareholders want.

 

They have invested in sales training but are not seeing sales behaviors change to meet what buyers require today.

 

Quietly …on their drive home or when they are taking a shower, or if they are like me at 3:00 am a thought interrupts your peace.

 

I don’t think we will hit sales plan and I need to fix this problem

 

If you are a salesperson where do you fall in the Client Advisor Sales Spectrum? (be honest its just us)

 

How much of your day is actually spent helping your customers solving problems? If you are like most salespeople today less than 20% of your time is spent selling.

 

If you lead a sales organization where do most of your salespeople fall on this spectrum?

 

From my experience teams typically hover in and out of product experts and problem solvers. Each team has about 10% of salespeople selling based on price and they are significantly underperforming.

 

If you own a company what impact would it have to have your typically 60% of salespeople on your team who are mid-level sales performers coming in under plan every year produce the results your top 20% of sales performers produce?

 

When your team is trained to understand market problems and sell with a value based sales model they will become trusted advisors to your customers.

 

If you want (need) your salespeople to fix their sales problem of not hitting sales goal and profit objectives I highly recommend you buy the book The Trusted Advisor and follow the author’s roadmap to help your team move from “sales rep “ to “trusted advisor”.

Increase Sales Profitably: Put A Collar On Non-Selling Behaviors

Increase Sales Profitably: Put a Collar on Non-Selling Behaviors

 

 

What % of your salesperson’s time is actually spent selling today? (are you sitting down?) The average salesperson is spending less than 20% of what I call “sellable time” actually doing sales behaviors today. That’s a problem, a big sales problem we need to fix to keep our sales leaders, owners and shareholders happy. In this post we will discuss how to put a collar on non-sales behaviors.

 

Meet Duke, pictured above. He is our current Lab rescue. Our family fosters Labs, and Lab mixes for the Lake Erie Lab Rescue. (an awesome non-profit organization of people who love animals) When the rescue found Duke he was a hot mess: two ear infections, could not put weight on a hind leg, underweight by about 20 lbs., lime disease, and also anemic.

 

For the last few months we developed a plan to bring him back to health so we could find him a forever home. Our plan had very specific behaviors we executed, tracked and even logged on medical forms. We gave him various medicines and a special food. We slowly started walking him and exercising him including water therapy. We put drops in his ears and basically loved on him. He was not thrilled about all these new behaviors but is a gentle old soul and went along with it.

 

The last thing we always do before adoption is spay or neuter. The surgery went great and Duke came home. To insure the incision healed we had to make sure Duke did not bother it. We corrected him many times but his nature was to lick the incision and it started to get infected. So we collared this behavior with a cone he wears for a few weeks.

 

So what does a lab rescue with a cone collar have to do with growing your sales profitably?

 

I thought you would never ask!

 

If you want to increase your sales profitably and create sales velocity for years to come you need to reinforce the sales behaviors you have seen that drive profitable sales and collar non-selling behaviors.

 

Like what?

 

If you read my content you know I have served many companies in a variety of markets both domestic and international over the last 35 years. At the fear of sounding like an attorney, the answer to what behaviors drive profitable sales for you depends. It depends on your company, markets and what your buyer’s journey looks like. That is why we do voice of the customer work and data analysis before we develop strategies and plans.

 

If you have done your voice of the customer work you understand what your buyers want and need in their buying journey. You know their buyer personas, and the value drivers for their businesses.

 

I have worked with 1,000’s of salespeople that have been on my teams and on distributor sales teams and some of the common behaviors I have seen salespeople doing include:

 

Lead Generation

Building and leveraging relationships

Qualifying opportunities

Qualifying prospects

Qualifying leads

Follow up

Making presentations

Servicing customer needs for information on deliveries

Account management

Networking

Trade shows/ Industry conferences

Territory management

Creating monthly email newsletter blasts

Training and education

Training accounts and distributors

Handling Quality issues

Helping AR collect past due funds

Searching for content

Driving and transportation

Creating new customer target lists

Lead nurturing campaigns

Writing content for industry articles and trade publications

Weekly reports

Call reports

CRM updates

Phone calls

Emails

Social Selling

Customer visits to your plant or corporate office

Applications advice

Helping customers sort parts that may have quality issues

Visiting end users with distributors

Tracking order status

Expediting ship dates

Finding out why orders did not ship on time

Dealing with product damages that occurred in shipping

Reviewing plant inventory

Personal Social Media

Personal emails

Webinar training updates

Team sales meetings

Product demonstrations

Creating content

Working with field service to resolve customer problems

Entertaining customers

Booking hotel rooms

Booking airfare

Booking rental cars

Expense reports

Family time

Workout time

Plant tours with customers

Driving late orders to customers

Picking up material and driving to your plant to help make late order re-promises

Meeting with customer engineers and influencers

Meeting with other buyers at key accounts

Meeting with C-suite executives at key accounts

Product installation and repair

Monitoring and helping with product tests

Distributor training

Distributor management

Customer audits and assessments

Computer and IT issues

Booking advertisements

Managing point of purchase

Ordering content for customers and distributors

Company vehicle cleaning and maintenance

Ordering and stocking sales tools

Creating new sales tools

Customer events and outings

 

And you thought you had a lot to do…

 

Is it any wonder when we ask salespeople why they are not prospecting for new business at current and new accounts say it is because they are too busy?

 

Is it any surprise we find the below statistics for sales teams today?

 

The Average Salesperson spends less than 20% of their time selling today

 

30% + of time searching for sales tools (or building them and that’s really scary)

 

40%-50% administrative

 

10%+ non-selling activities

 

Multitasking decreases productivity by 20-40%

 

Workers waste an average of 40% of their workday because they have never been taught organizational skills and how to focus on behaviors that matter.

 

I have yet to meet a salesperson that is not busy. We are all hard working competitive people and the top performers are seen as strategic advisors by their customers.

 

The question becomes: is your sales team busy doing the behaviors you know drive profitable sales based on the VOC work and sales analysis data, or are they just busy?

 

Here’s the deal…some salespeople believe if they are busy they are safe. So they get real busy. How do they determine what to do? There is a high probability they are doing what their sales manager did when they were in sales. They are prisoners to an out-dated sales process…Let that sink in a minute or two.

 

“You mean to tell me my salespeople are doing the behaviors my sales team did say 20 years ago? 20 years ago before we had a customer service department, the Internet, a CRM system, a formal sales process? Before we spent all that money with the consulting firm? Before invested in new IT systems? Before we invested in a marketing department?

 

Yep!

 

Salespeople, like all of us, will gravitate to their comfort zone of behaviors they like to do. If someone has been in sales for any length of time they likely spend a great deal of time in service and relationship activities.

 

One last consideration is fear. Sales people have been managed (not led, true leaders inspire and motivate they do not use fear) by fear for years. If you are fear filled the creative and strategic part of your brain shuts off. So they do not see what behaviors drive the best results so they do what they are told and stay “busy” to feel safe. They are in fight or flight mode.

 

The shame is busy salespeople lack focus and they often experience problems and not hitting their sale numbers like 70% of the sales people and then what do you do? We put them on a PIP…performance improvement plan and share what happens if they don’t improve. Then we see behaviors that really hurt the bottom lines like unnecessary discounting, extended payment terms, promises our products and services could never meet. This results in more fear, even more busy behaviors, more stress, altercations with other departments and so it goes.

 

How do we put a collar on non-sales behaviors?

 

Do your voice of the customer work

Create buyer personas

Map buying journey and what buyers need today to make a buying decision

Mirror your sales process to the buying process 

Determine the behavior your data shows drives sales velocity today

Determine the top 5 behaviors that drive the sales you want

Train your sales leaders 

Train your sales people 

Train support departments on new sales process and how they help

Establish / reinforce service expectations for support departments

Track support indicators weekly

Create leading indicator behaviors sales must execute

Measure those behaviors

Have sales report on those behaviors weekly and in each coaching discussion

Coach those behaviors on four legged sales calls with your team

Coach sales to eliminate, put a collar on non-selling behaviors 

Inspect what you expect

Reinforce behaviors you want

 

When we implemented the above in a number of companies we experienced:

  • Sales growth exceeding 20%-40% year over year
  • Gross profit increases of 6%-10% in 18 months
  • Customer satisfaction increase
  • New business increases at current accounts
  • New customers (one company realized over 200 new large accounts in 12 months)
  • Sales close rate increases of 30%-50%
  • Improved moral inside sales team
  • Improved sales efficiency
  • Reduced cost of customer acquisition
  • Improved relationships with other departments
  • Reduced marketing expense
  • Improved engagement form entire team
  • Reduced turnover
  • Reduced recruiting expenses

 

If you want profitable sales increases you must focus your sales teams behaviors on those activities that drive the maximum return. When your sales team is aligned with what buyers have shared they need and you deliver it when they need it in their buying process your team too will experience the healthy sales results above too.

 

As for Duke, he is meeting with his new forever family today. He is happy, healthy and not only walking on his hind leg but running! He did not want to do everything we had to do get him strong and healthy but we coached and trained the behaviors that would lead to this day where he will be placed with a loving family, and put a collar on those behaviors that did not support our long term goals.

Increase Sales: Sweet Sales And Profits From Value Based Sales

Increase Sales: Sweet Sales and Profits from Value Based Sales

 

 

In my last post: The Oscar for Best B2B Sales Methodology goes to Value Based Sales I shared why a Value Based Sales method is by far the best B2B sales method. Over the last 34 years of solving sales problems I have observed sales teams using a variety of sales methods. In this post I will share how one team I served leveraged value based sales into sweet sales and profits and created a lifetime customer.

 

If value based sales produces more profitable sales faster why do so few salespeople use this sales method?

 

From what I have observed in the field on four legged sales calls coaching my sales teams the average B2B salesperson is much more comfortable discussing their products features and benefits than the customers’ market and business issues.

 

However when you ask buyers what they value and how salespeople can become more important they want B2B sales representatives discussing and sharing solutions that are relevant to their business.

 

 

According to SBI, on average 87% of the revenues in complex B2B sales environments are being generated by just 13% of the sales population.

 

Value based pricing adds value in B2B sales.

 

As Value Based sales thought leader Bob Apollo shares:

 

This terrible mismatch has profound consequences. There’s abundant evidence to suggest that one of the most significant differences lies in their ability to systematically create unique value to their customers through the disciplined application of value-based selling techniques across their entire sales and marketing organization. And the results can be seen in top line revenue growth that far exceeds market averages.”

 

In 2000 I was asked to help a company Innis Maggiore. Back then they were called an advertising and marketing company. They had been my vendor partner for years. Today they have evolved into one of the top strategic positioning firms in North America. They wanted my help landing large accounts with the focus on creating lifetime customers.

 

The trouble is all large accounts have marketing departments who own strategy and already have relationships with advertising firms. What most business development salespeople do is try to wear down the buyers with features and benefits of their services, all the awards they have received and so on.

 

Our team created a list of large accounts that matched our ideal customer profile and one of those accounts was Harry London’s Chocolates just 4 miles from our corporate offices. Harry London’s Chocolates are a premium chocolate supplier and we wanted to serve their team because everything they did demonstrated a value for quality and providing their customers a strong buying experience.

 

We tried sending brochures and examples of our work. We called their marketing department with a regular cadence  and dropped of creative demential mailers…nothing. We heard “ we are happy with what we have, and if we ever need your help we will call you.” (They even say no thanks in a quality way…we have to work with this company.)

 

What if we took a Value Based Sales approach?

 

We did market research into possible new markets for Harry London’s. Our firm had experience serving the floral industry for many years and about 30% of a florist’s revenue are non-flower product like vases, candles and even …chocolates. (Interesting)

 

We did more research and used our relationships in the floral industry and found:

 

Number of florists: about 33,000 retailers

Revenue of industry: $7 Billion

Approximately 30% of revenue not flowers: $2 Billion

Estimate of possible Chocolate sales: $750 Million

If we won just 10% of market share: $75 million in incremental sales

Estimated Gross Profit impact to Harry London: $25 Million

 

We interviewed three local florists on tape and asked them about their business, their challenges and how they increase sales and profits. Each business owner mentioned adding non-floral  products to their services. We asked about chocolates and they all admitted they use chocolates as an added value offering to bouquets. (Back then the interviews where on VHS tapes and the cameras were so big we looked like a news crew). We asked what brand of chocolates they were using? None could share the brand. (sounds like an opportunity for a leader in quality chocolates to position themselves) We asked if they ever heard of Harry London’s chocolates and what that brand meant. They all shared yeas, and their perception was it was one of the top quality chocolate manufacturers, We asked if they thought using a premium brand chocolate supplier like Harry London’s would give them the opportunity to increase their selling price and increase their gross profits because their consumers would value this brand and each agreed it would.

 

I reached out to the CEO of Harry London’s chocolates.

 

First he received an amazing custom floral bouquet with his chocolates in the arrangements with a short note: “we found a sweet new profit opportunity for your company, I will be calling you this afternoon to discuss it. Mark Allen Roberts , Innis Maggiore”

 

That afternoon I called the CEO and my call went through to him. I asked for 20 minutes latter that week to share a new market opportunity, and I asked if we could have a TV and VHS player in the room and he agreed, …but just 20 minutes.

 

We started the meeting exactly on time and shared the size of the market opportunity and our estimates and some of his senior leaders baulked at our hypothesis. I remember sharing : “tell you what, lets say we are wrong, lets say we are off by as much as 20%…that would still be a huge amount of incremental revenue wouldn’t it?”

 

“Nothing speaks louder than the voice of customers”

  • Mark Allen Roberts

 

About 10 minutes had passed and we could tell they were interested but skeptical.

 

You know that look like …if this was a good idea we would already be doing it …look?

 

We put in the VHS tape the player and you could have heard a pin drop.

 

The senior leaders were listening and watching florists share how they would value buying their high quality premium chocolates.

 

I looked at my watch, about 18 minutes had passed so I took out the tape when it was over, closed my portfolio and said: “we promised to only take 20 minutes, thank you for your time, and we would appreciate the opportunity to help your team add $20-$25 million in incremental profits in the floral market, a market our firm has served for over 20 years…” and I started to get up from the conference table.

 

Their CEO said: “where are you going?…please sit down lets discuss this more and tell me more about your company.”

 

After following up and some negotiating we won their business back in 2000 and even after they were acquired years later , Innis Maggiore still has their business in 2018. Why? Because when all the other ad firms (and there are many of them) came in talking about their company and all their awards and cutting their hourly rates, we came in and gave Harry London’s Chocolates a new business opportunity that would increase sales and ultimately add net income to their bottom line.

 

That was a Value Based Sales Approach.

 

Lets break it down to its key components:

 

  • Determine your companies value drivers, how you create value for your customers’ businesses
  • What possible new customers match your ideal customer profile
  • Research the company
  • Research their leaders
  • Take time to understand their value proposition, brand and positioning
  • Take time to understand the business of your customers’ business
  • Know your customers’ markets
  • Create a challenge, a hypothesis, a way to create value for them
  • Present the hypothesis in the language of business
  • Build trust in every aspect of communication
  • Follow up
  • Negotiate after you establish value
  • Close with clear next steps
  • Follow up and verify the value created
  • Ask for another opportunity to create value

 

 

How do your salespeople sell today?

 

Why do you win sales?

 

Why do you loose sales?

 

Does your team use a value-based model?

 

Why wouldn’t a value-based sales model work for your salespeople?

 

That CEO is now the CEO of a custom candle company. Maybe my old team at Innis Maggiore needs to send another custom floral bouquet with a candle made from bees wax?

 

Like I shared in posts about the value of doing voice of the customer work in a number of posts sharing examples, I will share other value based sales examples in the next few posts so stay tuned.

 

 

10 Sales Enablement Resources To Improve Sales Results

10 Sales Enablement Resources to Improve Sales Results

 

 

 

In my last post I shared how teams want to fix common sales problems they need to break free from the prison of out dated sales processes.  We shared how to determine if your sales process is out dated and  how voice of the customer work helps understand your buyers, how they buy and what they need to buy today. Sales enablement is about strategically giving your buyers the right content at the right time in the right format to help sales close faster and at higher gross margins.

 

I received emails and calls from past clients wanting to learn more about the topic of Sales Enablement since it has such a large impact on increasing sales revenue and having a greater ROI on the marketing assets you create.

 

Below are 10 resources I found particularly useful on the topic of Sales Enablement.

 

1.Sales Enablement Infographic 

 

2.The definitive guide to sales enablement

 

3.Sales Enablement Best Practices

 

4.Sales readiness technology buyers guide 

 

5.The Value Shift eBook: Designing and Implementing A Mobile Sales Enablement Strategy 

 

6.8 keys for a successful Sales Enablement Program

 

7.What is Sales Enablement?

 

8.Sales Enablement buyers checklist

 

9.Use Buying Process Exit Criteria to IncreaseYour Sales Effectiveness

 

10.GARTNER’S MARKET GUIDE FOR DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGEMENT FOR SALES

 

 

Sales Enablement is about providing the right information, in the right format at the right time in the buyers buying journey.

 

When your team does your voice of the customer work to understand the buying process and criteria your buyers must have, and implement a sales enablement business development strategy your team will experience:

 

Sales revenue increases

 

Gross profit per sale increases

 

Increase in sales close %

 

Higher customer satisfaction

 

Sales will close faster

 

Increase in engagement in your sales team

 

Improved retention of sales top performers

 

Sales will hit forecasts

 

Increase in Brand value

 

New product launches that meet or exceeds ROI targets

 

Open new profitable markets

 

 

If you have found other useful articles and or EBooks and web sites that share useful Sales Enablement information please share the links in the comments below.

 

Has your team implemented a sales enablement strategy?

 

What impact has it had for your business?

Increase Sales: Help Your Salespeople Become “Rejection Proof”

Increase Sales: Help your salespeople become “Rejection Proof”

 

 

 

Why do some salespeople consistently achieve their sales growth goals while most (60%)struggles? How do we fix this common sales problem? We must help our salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and become Rejection Proof”.

 

Your salespeople have their sales goals. You shared what you expect in terms of growth from current business and identified the delta. The delta is the difference between the new sales goal and what your current business should do. I refer to this delta as: New Business Needed.

 

Most sales teams will have a big sales problem in November…it will be obvious they will not achieve the New Business Needed part of their sales plan and they will come in around 78%-90% of their sales plan.

 

Why?

 

The most common reasons I have observed over the past 30+ years of leading and coaching sales teams are …

 

A Dated Value Proposition 

 

Do not understand their market and buyers today 

 

Fear of Rejection

 

I have shared in a number of posts how to fix the sales problem of dated value propositions and in others posts how to quickly understand your markets.

In this post I will share how to help your salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and become rejection proof.

 

What is rejection and why do we all try to avoid it at all cost?

 

Rejection occurs when people interact and one says “no” and refuses to act on something that was asked. Rejection is a moment in time judgment made based on a number of factors most people do not realize…

 

Immediate need

Perceived value

Historical Experiences

Cultural differences

Psychological factors

Emotion

Risk tolerance

 

From my experience salespeople experience rejection when the buyer decides, based on what they have been presented and what they believe to be true, they do not trust the product or service will solve a problem or need. Or the buyer fails to have the problem the product or service solves and that is the sales problem of properly qualifying opportunities.

 

At this point in my sales career rejection does not scare me. A “no” just means “not yet” but it took me years to get to this point.

 

I do not own rejection and I do not see it as some badge or scar I need to carry with me and worry that others see it. I see rejection for what it is: a judgment based on information at that moment in time.

 

As I shared in a recent sales conference…

 

Rejection is a moment in time occurrence based on the information at that time… not a painful stain on your soul…once we see it for what it is we can stop being afraid of it”

 

The trouble is as humans we seek acceptance and approval from other people. Couple our deep need for acceptance in our DNA with the needs for safety and comfort and we should not be shocked salespeople avoid asking for the sale due to the fear of rejection. If we feel rejection and not observe it as a judgment we fail to feel safe.

 

How do we help salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and ask for the new business we need?

 

How can we teach salespeople to become rejection proof early in their careers and not wait 20+ years until they see rejection for what it is?

 

I was preparing a workshop to help salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and a friend suggested I should look into the work of Jia Jiang and watch his TED Talk. He has a number of very popular you tubes on rejection and a book titled: Rejection Proof, how to beat fear and become invincible through 100 days of rejection.

 

 

The book: Rejection Proof should be in everyone’s library, particularly sales and sales leaders.

 

The author shares how he set out on a quest to overcome his fear of rejection by purposefully experiencing 100 rejections over 100 days.

 

It is a fun and quick book to read.

 

The examples he shares have a great deal of humor like asking for a burger refill at his favorite hamburger joint.

 

What I found fascinating though is not everyone said “no” to some of his crazy requests like asking Krispy Kreme donuts to make him a donut shaped like the Olympic rings. The store manager not only made one for him but she gave it to him for free!

 

This made me wonder…

 

How many sales could have been won if the salesperson would have asked for the sale and not feared rejection?

 

I led the class on rejection, specifically overcoming rejection and I suggested everyone check out Jia Jiang’s You-Tubes and read his book.

 

What happened next I did not expect…

 

  • One person shared how he was at his fitness club and tried to be rejected by asking for a free massage…they gave it to him!
  • Another shared how he was in a long line at Chipotle, and asked for free chips for his inconvenience…they gave it to him!
  • Another boldly asked to drive my 1972 Corvette, a car that was my dad’s…I said “sure, its just a car
  • Some heard very loud “No’s” like the young man who asked for an attractive young girls phone number while she was sitting with her date (not one I would coach you to try)
  • Or the young man who asked for a “good guy discount” at an auto parts store. The clerk said “ a what?” The young man said I am a good guy and would like your good guy discount… he was rejected!

 

Could it be one reason why top sales performers consistently achieve and surpass their sales and profit goals is because they have had so many rejections they too have become Rejection Proof? I believe it is.

 

I look back over my career calling on customers like: Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, CAT, Blockbuster Cummins Engines, Sony Music, Ford, Nintendo, CA, Microsoft and many more…and I received many more rejections than purchase orders. Those rejections over 30+ years made me rejection proof today.

 

What if we strategically insure our sales teams receive many rejections early in their careers and actually made it an application exercise in their training?

 

If you do…you will have a team of sales super stars blowing their sales goals out of the water!

 

If you need to fix a sales problem, the fear of rejection, I recommend you ask your team to read Rejection Proof and have them set out on a quest of their own to receive 100 rejections as fast as possible.

How about your team….

Are your salespeople losing sales they could have won simply by asking?

What impact would it have your your bottom line if your sales team was rejection proof?

 

Is QDD Crippling Your Sales Growth?

 

 

 

 

 

Salespeople are disqualifying 70% of leads, why? Of those 70% of possible new customers disqualified, 80% go on to buy from someone in the next 12 months! Those lost sales are sales you could have (and should have) won. In this post we will identify a disease called QDD and how to cure it and fix your sales problems.

Your marketing team developed a lead generation strategy that is dropping a number of potential opportunities into your marketing and sales funnel. The accounts feel like they have a good possibility of becoming orders since they are from your core industries and you know they are buying products and or services just like yours. You have been tracking this  activity and it looks like you will see a strong return on marketing dollars invested based on the number of new opportunities. The entire senior management team and the board are excited and they are waiting in anticipation of hitting the sales and profit numbers. However as the sales leader you are not seeing these opportunities moving along the sales journey from opportunity to prospect to customer, and you are not seeing closed sales dollars increasing? Why?

 

Your salespeople are suffering from QDD.

 

I get excited when a team embraces the concept of marketing and driving what should be warm opportunities to my sales teams. They took the time to do voice of the customer research and determined problems their markets have, understand how buyers buy, and what buyers need today to make buying decisions. They positioned their products as solutions to those current problems in their markets. They understand their company’s value proposition and launched their message. The number of new opportunities is climbing each week and reviewing some of the account names you know they buy a product or service like yours…but you are not seeing new orders? How can this be? Having lived this scenario more than I care to admit, what you are experiencing is QDD; Quick to Disqualify Disorder.

 

When presented with new opportunities sales super stars say;

 

awesome, I know they buy products like I sell and I will one way or the other figure out the problems they currently have and help them”.

 

If your salesperson is suffering from QDD they say;

 

ah, I have heard of this company( even if they haven’t) , I tried to sell this company six years ago( one voice mail) , I doubt they will buy, they are probably happy with their current supplier and just price shopping us, so I will follow up.”

 

Do you hear the difference in mind set? The sales star understands the value he and your products bring and is excited to help authentically serve one more person. The salesperson suffering with QDD will “go through the motions” but already believes he or she will not sell the account. ( and they won’t) The sales star is seeking to serve; the QDD salesperson is focused on disqualifying the opportunity quickly so no one asks the status and next step to win their business. Who do you think will win the sale?

 

How do you know if you have someone on your sales team suffering from QDD?

 

By the Numbers

The first thing I do is look at the numbers…how many opportunities has this person been given in the last 3-6 months and how many went from possible opportunity to lead to close? Compare this to others on your team and if you find a disproportionate amount of opportunities are not turning into qualified leads, your salesperson has QDD.

 

By Mix

Review the product mix sold by your team. Quickly you should see a few patterns emerge. Look for anyone on your team who does not meet a similar product mix. What I am particularly looking for here is new products; sales from products you have been aggressively marketing. Salespeople suffering from QDD will have their product mix heavily weighted with older products or services in your offering.

 

By Margins

Assuming your marketing group has done their job and the products you have and are launching are brilliant solutions to unresolved market problems, you should have priced them at a higher margin based on the value they provide. Salespeople with QDD will have the lowest blended profit margin for their area of responsibility. They do not understand how to sell value so they take a commodity and relationship selling approach.

 

By Listening

Sales super stars will focus on the value, the value the customer will receive once their problem is solved. They are excited to help the customer, serve the customer they are shocked if they don’t move to the next step in the sales process. Salespeople with QDD will tell you their (your) customers are all about price and we are too high.

 

The shame is when I interview buyers on why they do not buy, rarely is price even on the list. What buyers do say is the salesperson did not seem to understand my problem, did not listen, and therefore I did not trust their solution. You very likely could have, should have won their business, but because your salesperson is suffering from QDD the buyer lacked trust.

 

You will also hear another why you are not able to break into this account and it will sound something like; “a competitor’s got a great relationship with his current supplier and won’t even consider us.” Relationships are important don’t get me wrong, however if a buyer trusts you can better solve a problem than a current supplier you should at least move to the next step in your sales process and not be dismissed so early.

 

View the CRM

Take time to review the CRM entries. Sales stars will be logging discussions, and have future appointments scheduled and maybe even new business quoted. Salespeople with QDD will have a series of entries that say; “left voicemail” and “sent email” and the prospects will only have one or two entries. Sales stars know you need to engage with buyers 8-15 times before activity occurs. QDD salespeople go through the motions, as if to say; “yes, I did my job, I made the call, but they obviously were not interested or they would have called me back,” They are focused more on showing activity than driving results.

 

One company I helped had a 42% close rate historically so 58% of the time they did not receive a return on their lead generation and cost of sale investment. Each of their sales team had QDD to some degree. Over the years they tried to fix their sales problem by adding more people, more costs and focused on having more quotes. They even rewarded sales with a variable compensation based on numbers of quotes ( not quotes closed). Sales were declining and profit margins were dropping.

 

We did customer voice work, created a repeatable sales process, trained sales, coached sales launched a strategic business development program and increased the average close rate to 68%,and key whale account close rates to 90% in 18 months.

 

We opened over 250 new customers and sales from new customers represented over 24% of total sales year in year three.

 

The good news is QDD is curable and does not need to be terminal. 

 

So how about your sales team…

 

Are you hitting your sales and profit goals?

 

Do you have one salesperson consistently missing their goals?

 

Do you have a number of new leads that are not turning into revenue?

 

Are you seeing this salesperson not moving opportunities through your sales process to the next level?

 

Are you concerned one or more of your sales team has QDD?

 

QDD cripples sales and profit growth efforts.

 

QDD salespeople believe if new sales were out there they would have already won them. They are not sold on how sales occur today and are waiting for things to get back to normal. Well, this is the new normal and they must adapt.

 

The first step in solving any problem is identifying you have it.

 

If this post made you wonder (or made you a but nervous) about one or a couple of salespeople on your team I recommend you take the five steps above to learn if one of your team members has QDD.

 

Aside from lost sales and profits you team could have won, should have won, I want to warn you QDD is highly contagious and must be identified, quarantined and cured as soon as possible.

 

This condition is curable if the salesperson agrees they want and need to fix it.

 

Some teams will put the QDD salesperson into more of a farmer than hunter role.

 

The trouble is QDD cripples sales results for new products to current customers just as selling new customers.

 

If you find QDD has infected your sales team you must cure it or remove to as soon as possible while there is still time to hit your numbers.

Differentiate And Grow Your Sales With: Authentic Communication.

Differentiate And Grow Your Sales With: Authentic Communication.

 

 

When you think of the word: “sales” or “salesperson” what comes to mind? Chances are it is not a positive image? Why? If your role in your organization is that of a salesperson, sales manager, or sales leader how can we stand out and differentiate ourselves in a market full of salespeople? In this post I will share a methodology I have used for years to grow sales faster and more profitably than my competitors…being authentic.

Would it surprise you to learn what we think about ourselves has a huge impact on how we communicate and relate to others?

Let me ask you…Who do you think you are supposed to be?

When you think of the word “salesman” or “salesperson” you may (like most people) have a negative image of sales. Chances are this belief was established at some time in your past as the result of a negative sales experience.

I heard David Meerman Scott speak at a marketing and sales conference and he asked two simple questions:

How many people here like to buy stuff?….

Every hand in the room was raised!

How many people like to be sold?…

Almost every hand went down. Why?

 

For years when we heard the word “sales” we think of a manipulation. The salesperson wins and I loose somehow.

So I looked on the Internet and asked “why we hate salespeople”, why we don’t trust salespeople?

One article seemed to sum it up.

Six reasons why we hate salespeople 

  1. Has a lack of transparency (they’re in it for the sale!)
  2. Is not trustworthy
  3. May not honor their promises
  4. Might not be selling me the right product/services for my needs
  5. Does not understand my needs
  6. Is too pushy

 

Author Perter Smith shares Why do we hate ( our own) sales people

Have you ever noticed that in a company there often seems to be jealously, almost bordering on hatred, for the company’s own sales team? 

A myth I see in a lot of companies is that the sales reps are overpaid, underworked and often only a bystander to the sale. 

 

I speak in local colleges in the area quite often. I asked a room of soon to be graduating seniors how many plan to go into sales? Not one hand raised in a room of 40. So I ask college seniors why,… why they do not want to be a salesperson and here are some of their common responses and perceptions…

  • Salespeople sell us things we don’t need, I do not feel I can do that
  • I did not go to college and spend what I did to become a salesperson
  • I don’t want to travel and be away from home very night
  • I don’t want the pressure to hit a goal
  • I don’t like dealing with unhappy customers

Their comments go on and on, and each has one thing in common they are all negative!

What I found interesting about these articles and what college seniors believe is they captured how many people feel about sales, and how some salespeople feel they need to be to be successful.

Could it be that what we think about what sales is,  is shaping our behavior, communication, and how we relate to buyers?

I believe it does.

When we ask buyers why they don’t buy…

I did not trust what the salesperson proposed would solve my problem…

I feel salesperson is more focused on hitting their goals than helping me..

 I found another article: Why buyers do not like salespeople?

Most salespeople bring to their buyers only information.  Interestingly, information is something any buyer can gather from other sources. At the end of the day, you as a salesperson must ask yourself, “Am I merely a conduit of information?”  If you are, then you’re wasting your time, your company’s time, and your customer’s time.”

What do buyers want?

“…you need to develop questions to which you don’t have answers.  More than likely, these will be questions to which your buyer doesn’t have answers either.  By asking these questions, you’re helping move the buyer to viewing you differently.  Your role is to be seen as the one salesperson who is genuinely committed to helping them move themselves and their company to a higher level. This may be by growing their sales or helping them reduce their costs.”

What if we looked at this as an opportunity to create a distinctive competence in the market?

What if we listened to these perceptions and developed a strategy to stand out in the market and be unique?

What kind of salesperson would business leaders, customers, and graduating seniors want to be?

An authentic human being who has an interest in helping buyers identify and solve problems. ..Someone I can trust.

How do we change this?

With trust, like-ability, and the feeling that they know you – you’ve got the winning combination for higher sales conversions, more repeat business, greater profits, and a windfall of referrals.”

-Peter Smith

“Differentiate and grow your sales with: Authentic Communication.”

-Mark Allen Roberts

What you think about yourself shapes how you communicate with others and the relationships you build. Over time we experience interactions both positive and negative. How we often adapt to those situations is to create masks. This concept of creating masks based on who we think we are supposed to be, or what others expect is something we all do. Masks are also created as protective defense mechanisms. The trouble with masks is they interrupt authentic human communication. If you are wearing a mask and your buyer is wearing a mask  you never get to the real issues to be solved (as I shared in a post about the iceberg principle) and never build a meaningful relationship.

If you think salespeople are manipulative commission junkies who win orders and customers loose…that is how you will act.

If you treat your salespeople like pushy salespeople who are only out for themselves…that is how they will act.

However, if we start seeing sales, as I do as the ultimate act of service, helping your customers identify and solve problems, how you interact with buyers will change.

Its time for the Authentic Sales and Service!

Its time to stop wearing masks you think your buyers want to see or you think your companies want you to wear and be your authentic self and serve others. Buyers can sense a mask a mile away and will never open up to you.

Sales is about acts of service not trick-or -treat.

Being an authentic sales service partner focused on helping your customers identify and solve problems will become your distinction in a sea of other salespeople playing trick-or-treat.

You will become that salesperson buyers can’t wait to meet with, and value. Because buyers trust you and your motivations and they will want to have a relationship with you and give you more business. Buyers will share their burning issues and problems the other trick-or-treaters never hear.

When this occurs you sell more, gain more referrals, you sell based on the value you create and your gross margins increase and your company will notice your contribution.

Sales is a difficult but very rewarding profession. I have used the above advice for over 15 years and driven profitable sales growth for many sales teams.

Still not a believer?

Below is what the Vice President of one of my past top customers wrote about my acts of service …

Mark is an awesome example of understanding what it takes to build success – focus on your personal relationship with anyone you’re attempting to do business with, and all the rest will follow. People want to conduct business with people they trust and feel are adding value – two traits Mark exhibits every time you have contact with him. He truly wants you to be successful – not just lip service for his own gain – and will help in any way he can to assist that “.

-David Sullivan

Or another customer wrote…

“Mark’s infectious personality is evident from the moment you meet him. Everyone wants to work with a professional who is a strong communicator, team member, who has strong interpersonal skills such as empathy, tact and humor. He is intellectual, innovative and creative. He is always a pleasure to work with. You won’t be disappointed when working for or with Mark

-Jack Brake

It feels like I’m bragging… so I’ll quit.

My goal in sharing the above comments is to better capture how your customer partners can feel when someone is authentically committed to serving them and their business. (If you think the above quotes are a fluke, you can read over 60 more similar comments on my LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/markaroberts/)

Its time for salespeople to be proud of the contribution they make for their organizations.

Its time for business leaders who may have seen salespeople as a necessary evil in the past due to bad experiences to value their contribution today.

Its time salespeople become committed to understanding and solving buyer problems.

Its time for we, as salespeople to drop the masks we wear and be authentic with our customers and improve or acts of service and relationships.

One final point, whatever your formal title is, I hate to be the one who tells you this… you are a salesperson. When you are convincing your operations team to stay over time you are selling. When you are at home with your spouse trying to take that cruise vacation instead of touring New England towns…you are selling. As the quality manager working with the auditor to win your ISO certification…you are selling. When you are meeting with new employees to join your team you are selling. As a sales leader working with a salesperson that is not hitting goals you are selling. When you are meeting with your board and investors and discussing how you plan to hit your numbers this year you are selling! Now that we are all in sales…what do you think of salespeople?

It is time for us all to change what we think about sales and salespeople!

Should we create a new title perhaps? …Customer Solutions Advocate 

It’s time we all drop our previous beliefs about sales and salespeople and masks we created and start having authentic meaningful conversations that build trust early and often.

When you hear the word “salespeople” how does it make you feel?

Do your customers value your salespeople?

What masks are your salespeople wearing today?…hows that working for you?

If you are a salesperson, are you being your authentic self or wearing masks you think your buyers and your company want you to wear?

As the leader of your company do you see salespeople playing a critical role in helping you achieve your sales and profit goals or a necessary evil?

Would you like to have your customers making comments about your salespeople like those above about me?

Who do you think sells more and at higher margins…someone authentically committed to serving their customers or a salesperson wearing the mask of a commission junkie? 

The market is hungry for authentic service providers who are authentic and solve market problems. It starts with how we think of the profession of sales and how we treat our salespeople and buyers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Benefits Of Voice Of Customer

 

 

 

 

Understanding the voice of your customer is critical to achieving your sales and profit objectives today. Taking the time to clearly understand your buyers, how they buy, what they need to buy and why they don’t buy today is critical in developing a strategic business development growth process.

 

Below are 17 reasons why companies who capture and leverage the voice of their customers consistently win year over year.

  

1.Fix Sales: Knowing Buyer’s Journey is like Creating a GPS for Your Sales Process

 

2.Fix Sales Problems With The Power in the  “Voice of the Customer”

 

3.Leverage Customer Voice into “Explosive Sales Growth”

 

4.Who Owns the Voice of Your Market and Voice of Your Customer? . Hint (not sales!)

 

5.Voice of Market Identifies “Roundabouts” in your Sales Process

 

6.Voice of the Market Identifies Key Buying Triggers

 

7.Increase Sales: Key Buying Seasons Surface in “Voice of Market” Work

 

8.“Voice of the Customer” Increases Profits…Lesson from a Christmas Ham

 

9.Voice of Customer Finds “Sales Secret Weapons”

 

10.Voice of Customer: Understanding the Entire Iceberg of Purchase Decisions Today

 

11.Improve Sales Productivity With Voice of the Customer Research

 

12.What is The Biggest Threat to Customer Voice Research? (It may surprise you!)

 

13.Give Salespeople More Time to Sell With Voice of The Customer Research

 

14.Customer Voice Research Identifies Content Buyers Need Today

 

15.Identify Purchase Influencers with VOC

 

16.The End Of The Greatest Show On Earth and What We Can Learn About Training

 

17 Voice of your customer identifies new markets and channels

 

How does your team capture the voice of your customers today?

 

How often do you conduct this research?

 

Is there any reason you feel you should not understand the voice of your customer today? (please share)

 

Have you experienced other benefits from capturing the voice of your customers?

 

We serve dynamic markets today. How buyers buy today is much different than how they bought 5 to 10 years ago. How buyers buy tomorrow will likely change as well.

 

Market leading organizations understand the importance of capturing your customer voice today and leveraging what they learn to increase sales and profits.

Voice Of Customer Identifies New Markets And New Product Applications

Voice of Customer Identifies New Markets and New Product Applications

 

 

 

 

Capturing and leveraging the voice of your customers is a powerful tool to grow your sales. In addition to helping your sales team realize explosive growth in sales and profits, it also can identify new markets.

My daughter and son in law just bought their first home. Like a lot of starter homes it has a number of fixer upper projects. Each room needed painting, the kitchen cabinets needed updated and the wallpaper in the bathroom had to go. What I learned is, as dad’s we typically get the jobs no one wants like removing layers of wallpaper.

It is a small bathroom but the first day I spent four hours removing wallpaper. I shared my frustrations with a friend and without missing a beat she said…Did you treat the walls with downy fabric softener first? What? I was using a tool to score the wall and a steamer, what will fabric softeners do? I figured it could not hurt so I tried it.

It turns out this is something home remodelers use often to make removing wallpaper much easier and quicker. I searched the Internet and there are article about using fabric softener you typically would buy for your clothing for stripping wallpaper. There is even a You tube video that shares how using fabric softener helps making wallpaper removal easier. A do it yourself website talks about using this process.

It worked so well, if Downy did voice of customer research they might offer small 4-6 ounce bottles at Home Depot and Lowes in the wallpaper isles. I would recommend they charge between $3.50 and $4.95 for these small convenient bottles to be mixed perfectly with one gallon of water when stripping wallpaper.

 

How do your customers use your products and services?

 

What problems do your products solve?

 

Could you have a new market you are serving today that you can expand?

 

Take the time to capture the voice of your customers and learn how they buy, what they need to buy, and how they use your products.

 

You may find new markets and new distribution channels for current products that can grow into profitable new business.