Sunday, 16 October 2011

A Longer Course in Stakeholder Analysis (Sales)

This is another excellent post courtesy of S. Anthony Iannarino of thesalesblog.com. For excellent debate on all things sales, business to business related (including public speaking) have a look at this website, Focus, which you can access by clicking here and connect up with me (and Anthony too, who I follow).

This article is about stakeholder analysis which is actually part of a series which you can read on Anthony's blog - which is well worth a visit.

A Longer Course in Stakeholder Analysis (Sales)

 This is the seventh and final post in this series (I think it might make a pretty good eBook). The series started with The Gatekeeper, moved on to The End-User Stakeholders, weaved into The Ancillary Stakeholders, delved deeper into Understanding and Creating Value for Management Stakeholders, avoided avoiding the Professional Buyers, and rested with The Decider: Understanding and Creating Value for Executive Management.

Over the past six posts, we have covered a lot of distance when it comes to knowing who the key stakeholders are within your dream client company. We have also covered some ideas about how you create value for these stakeholders, and what your risks are from the view of value creation.

There is still a lot more ground to cover. An opportunity that is complex enough to require a stakeholder analysis is complex enough to require a deeper dive into the ideas and issues that exist on a different plane altogether. There are some foundational ideas that you need to consider, and then there are some ideas that go beyond the foundation to the complex and to the political.

The Foundation

To create and move an opportunity from target to close, you need to identify three things within your dream client.

You need to find receptivity, someone that is willing to give you an audience. You need to find dissatisfaction, the people who have the problems that you can help to improve. And you need to find authority, someone with the power to bind your dream client to a deal.

I’d love to tell you that these three foundational ideas are from my personal observation, but they’re not. This observation belongs to Neil Rackham and you can find it in Major Account Sales Strategy, a book I believe to be more important in many ways than SPIN Selling.

Receptivity: In a stakeholder analysis, it’s helpful to identify who is receptive to you and your message. This is often the easiest point to get in, and this is why I cringe when I hear salespeople suggest that they absolutely have to get in at the C-level, or not at all. If the C-level executive isn’t receptive (and they are already overwhelmed and time-starved), then the salesperson believes, incorrectly, that there is no way in and no path to a deal. This isn’t true.

Receptivity can exist at any level of the organization. You can find it in the end-users who struggle to produce results with the product, service or solution that they are presently using. You can also find it in the management stakeholders, who struggle to help their end-users produce results while meeting the goals and objectives of the company. You can even find it in ancillary stakeholders.

Receptivity is the path in. It doesn’t mean that you have what you need to create or to win an opportunity, only that you may have found a way to gain access to the rest of the organization. It means you found a source of access and information, and you need that access and information.

Dissatisfaction: Opportunities aren’t created when everything is going swimmingly well. Opportunities are created when there are problems or challenges.

Some of you will challenge the idea that dissatisfaction is necessary. You may argue that opportunities are created when your dream client has a potential opportunity of their own, and that it doesn’t require dissatisfaction. If it requires your help, then the problem is not having what they need to capitalize on the opportunity. It’s all dissatisfaction; it’s a gap between current state and a desired future state.

Dissatisfaction can (and does) exist at all levels of an organization. The executive management has challenges in competing and growing in their space, and they have crushing pressures to produce results that are measured each quarter. The management stakeholders have dissatisfaction in the challenges they have in executing, in serving their own clients, and in producing the results that roll up to executive management’s financial results. Lower in the organization, you find end-users who are dissatisfied with the things that prevent them from producing the results that they are required to produce. It’s everywhere, top to bottom.

Whatever you sell, whether it is a product, a service, or some form of solution, you won the clients you have because you solved some form of dissatisfaction. It preceded your opportunity, and you found it and used it to create an opportunity. Or you created dissatisfaction by helping your client to see that there was in fact a gap.

Authority: To win an opportunity, someone has to have the authority to sign off on a deal. I have heard some salespeople wrongly discuss needing a C-level executive for a deal that could be easily be made without needing a C-level executive at all. I have also watched salespeople fail miserably because they didn’t locate the source of authority necessary to make a deal. These salespeople believed that receptivity and dissatisfaction were enough to win; they’re not.

Authority is not a simple idea, and it’s not always easy to find. But it does exist on a continuum, with the authority to make smaller, less complex, less strategic decision existing at lower levels within the organization. Larger, more complex, and more strategic decisions tend to require a greater level of formal authority. Wherever it is, you have to find it.

More Than Foundational, Political

To gain a real understanding and complete a real stakeholder analysis, you need to move beyond the foundational. There are other, more complicated and complex factors that need to be considered.

These ideas aren’t for the feint of heart, and I apologize in advance if some of this sounds a little Machiavellian. Some of it is in fact a little Machiavellian. Politics is a blood sport, despite any appearances to the contrary. The fact that you don’t like politics doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, and it doesn’t mean that you benefit in any way from ignoring the politics, the silos, and the turf wars.

Influence, Authority, and Power: In sales, we tend to focus far too little of our attention on influence and power, and instead focus our attention on formal authority. Because we need someone with formal authority to sign an agreement, we focus our attention, our energy, and sales efforts on that individual—often to our detriment. The real power can and does exist in other individuals and in other groups of individuals, even if these groups need someone with formal authority to sign an agreement.

In every organization, there are people who influence other people within the organization. They possess a moral authority and leadership role that isn’t found on an organizational chart. They may show up as an end-user when you look at an organizational chart, but they may have enough influence to be the real source of power.

An easy example would be a Vice President of Manufacturing who is weak and challenged by his peer group and a strong Plant Manager. It’s easy to believe that you need the Vice President’s signature, when in reality he may himself be on an island, ostracized by his peers. The decision may be made by the Plant Manager who is has deep relationships with the Chief Executive Officer and her Chief Operations Officer. You can’t see this power or influence on an organizational chart, but it exists nonetheless, and it is formidable.

Your stakeholder analysis has to take influence, authority, and power into consideration.

What is the person’s title? What are their roles and responsibilities? (This information gives you some idea as to what their basic concerns are—or what they should be.)

With whom do they have formal relationships? Who reports to them? To whom do they report? (This information allows you to see the organization as it exists on paper, the formal organization. It also allows you to begin to outline a path and determine who is necessary to a deal. It allows you to start to visualize the path and how power really travels through the organization.)

Who do they influence? Who influences them? Who do they trust? (This information allows you to determine where the real power resides. It helps you find the real buying committee and to design a sales strategy that builds consensus around your solution and stacks the deck in your favor. If you feel bad about this idea, it is helpful to remember that this is how work gets done within your client’s organization—and your own. Some people with power build consensus with their peers. One other critical fact here to remember is that much of the real selling occurs between these groups after you have left the building; they keep selling.)

Who has the real power? (There is often a person or a group of people without whom you cannot create or win an opportunity. Don’t look only to the C-Level executives on your organizational chart. Instead look to who has the greatest influence and who has the real power. Most C-Level executives trust their people. Most of them listen to the consensus of the individuals that are closest to the problems, closest to the decision, and who will ultimately own the outcome. You may spend an hour with a C-level executive, but their people have her time and attention when you are gone—their access and their responsibilities give them a greater influence than you may possess now–or ever.)

Who has the formal authority? (None of this is to suggest that you can ignore the formal organization or power. Sometimes, you need a signature. You may need the person or people with the real power to get you to the point where you can get that signature, but you need to know and understand what is going to be required of you to obtain it.)

Motivating Factors: Dissatisfaction is the motivator. But there are other, more complicated reasons that people buy. Take a deep breath, some of this is a bit unpleasant.

Within companies, there is a struggle for power. Your product, your services, and your solutions can end up smack in the middle of a struggle for power between departments who are vying for resources, and between individuals who are vying for position, authority, and power.

Maybe your product, service, or solution is the sexiest thing that marketing has ever seen; they absolutely have to have it. Your very same offering may look like something that gives the engineering or manufacturing department nightmares. At the same time, there may exist a personal struggle to define the future of your dream client’s company, with turf wars between departments and between individuals to define that future. This is occurring whether you are aware of it or not.

Then, there are the defenders of the status quo. Your solution may bring dramatic changes and kill the status quo. The defenders of the status quo can organize against you and any consensus you have built. Sometimes the most powerful motivating factor against you and your solution is that “it isn’t the way we do things around here.”

What is motivating the individuals I am working with? (How you sell may depend on these motivating factors. Who you need on your team may depend on these motivating factors. Even though you may not be interested in playing politics, politics may be interested in playing you.)

Constraining Factors

There are constraining factors that can kill your opportunity. Some of these exist because what you do to produce a result for your clients may be in conflict with some other results that the client must also be able to produce. These constraints can be the root cause of the conflict between individuals and departments, and they can put you in the center of a political conflict.

Where does my product, service, or solution cause a problem for some stakeholders? How can that problem be overcome or mitigated? (Asking and answering these questions can help you to surface the motivations to kill your solution. Once you surface these ideas, you can work to overcome the politics, and, if you are really savvy, you can find a way to mitigate the problems that your solution causes some of the obstacles between you and a deal.)

There are also human constraints. There are some people who will do whatever is necessary to kill your opportunity, sometimes with good and pure intentions, and sometimes because they have political motives.

Who is likely to kill this opportunity and why? What are their personal motivations? (Some of the people within your dream client company have vendors with whom they have long and successful relationships. Some of them have a political axe to grind with another department and they are going to grind that axe on your opportunity—and maybe on you! You and the team of stakeholders you assemble are going to have to deal with this reality, even if it is an unspoken reality).

This is a longer, and still incomplete, course in stakeholder analysis. But these ideas and these questions are enough to start you down the right path in figuring out what you need to know and what actions you need to take to effectively move your complex opportunity from target to close.

Questions

When as an opportunity complex enough to require a stakeholder analysis?

How do you determine who really has power and influence? Is it always the person with organizational chart authority?

What questions do you need to answer to find a successful path through your dream client company?

Is it possible to avoid your dream client’s politics and still win? Is it better ignore them and hope for the best?

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I hope you enjoyed this article and I'd be delighted if you'd leave a comment. If you're a business networker and would like to connect on one of the lesser known business networking sites (and perhaps discover a few new ones) you can contact me via my own About.me page; via my profile at the excellent Profiled.com website and via my professional profile page on the site, aptly named!

Other posts on a similar theme:

Presales Qualification
The Three Biggest Killers of Sales Productivity
Sales Tips Article via The New York Times
9 of the Best Sales Tips for Hight Performing Sales People
How to be Interesting and Useful to C Level Executives
What I Love about Sales and Selling

Friday, 14 October 2011

Ikea's 'Man Land' - no kidding :-)

Thank you for visiting this blog. If you'd like to subscribe after viewing this article, there are links on the right hand side of the page - and if you liked a post please leave a comment! If you'd like to connect on one of the social networking sites you can inbox me at Facebook and you can also inbox me via my Google+ profile.

Ikea's 'Man Land' - no kidding :-)

I thought this was one of those spoof video things but it's for real - IKEA have launched Manland: Ikea's new creche for mollycoddling men (and a great idea imo). Just need to break out a few beers and you won't be able to keep them away :-)



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Other posts on a similar theme:

All New Landrover to help Motorists Overcome Mountainous Kensington Terrain

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Introducing The Fox Den

Introducing The Fox Den

I wanted to give a small plug to The Fox Den which is the new online community of Holden's Power Base Selling alumni of which I'm a member and for which I'm trying to garner a little bit of support. If you've ever read and enjoyed the book or better still done the course and benefited from it, I think you'll enjoy this new facility. If you haven't read Power Base Selling then you can read mine and others' reviews and buy the book at Amazon.com - I also reviewed it on the Goodreads website. I think anyone in B2B sales, (particularly major account type sales) will get something from it.





Holden International's President Ryan Kubacki sees The Fox Den as a logical extension of Holden's pioneering Power Base Selling methodology. "Selling is a science. That science is what sets Power Base Selling apart, and it's what sets Holden graduates apart from their competitors," Kubacki says. "The Fox Den will provide them with an ongoing source of valuable information, and critical connections, that will help them attain even greater levels of company and career success."

Holden alumni will be eligible to enter the inner chambers of The Fox Den, giving them exclusive access to white papers, rich media content and other Holden materials. Holden alumni and friends of Holden can register their interest now by visiting http://www.holdenintl.com/news/register.html

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If you're a business networker I'd like to introduce to a few of the lesser known sites on the web which you may find interesting to participate in; you can get an idea of the 'about.me' site via my profile, and also my profile at profiled.com and via the  professional profile site, aptly named.

Other posts on a similar theme:

Presales Qualification
The Three Biggest Killers of Sales Productivity
Sales Tips Article via The New York Times
9 of the Best Sales Tips for Hight Performing Sales People
How to be Interesting and Useful to C Level Executives
What I Love about Sales and Selling

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Lotus Esprit Sport 350

Thank you for visiting this blog. If you'd like to subscribe after viewing this article, there are links on the right hand side of the page - and if you liked a post please leave a comment! If you'd like to connect on one of the social networking sites you can reach me at my Facebook profile and you can also send me a message via my Google Plus profile.

Lotus Esprit Sport 350

Lotus Esprit Sport 350 by Matt-Hill
Lotus Esprit Sport 350, a photo by Matt-Hill on Flickr.
This Esprit comes closest to what my ideal Esprit would look like from the bodywork perspective; I found this photo on Flickr. I like the front spoiler which has modified air intakes, much more attractive and more 'scoopy' than the standard Esprits. The side skirt also looks more curvy to me.

I would take the wing off the back - apparently these and later models have a slightly more upturned 'tail' negating the need for a spolier without which I didn't feel the Esprit looked finished. And I don't like the transfer markings on the sides too much, purists won't like it but I'd remove them, (too boy racery). Apart from that this is pretty much the ideal Esprit for me. :-) I also like the slightly fat wheel arch extensions which I haven't seen on some others.

If you landed on this page because you're interested in Lotus then I'd like to give a little plug to The Lotus Forums where I also post on occasion. :-)

My photos can be found at Photobucket and Flickr.

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Other posts on a similar theme:

Lotus Esprit Sport 350
All New Landrover to help Motorists Overcome Mountainous Kensington Terrain
Lotus Esprit Love Affair

Monday, 22 August 2011

What I Love About Sales and Selling

I hope you enjoy this article and I'd be delighted if you'd leave a comment. If you're a business networker and would like to connect on one of the lesser known business networking sites (and perhaps discover a few new ones) you can join and follow my updates at the sales community at The Fox Den, via my 'About me page', via my profile at Profiled and via the the  professional profile site, aptly named.

What I Love About Sales and Selling 

via www.FearlessSelling.com

Selling is an honorable career even though it is fraught with ups and downs, challenges and obstacles. However, at the end of the day, selling is a great way to earn a living.
Here are a few of things I love about selling.

Every day is different

Regardless of what you sell and to whom, every day in sales is different than the previous day. Every day is a new experience waiting to happen and even though yesterday was not successful, today can be completely different. Prospects can be more willing to talk, you can be more effective, and

The thrill of capturing a big sale

One of the most rewarding aspects of selling is closing the deal that was falling off the rails. Being able to recover and capture a sale is exhilarating and exciting. However, (personal admission coming up!) I do get distracted when I cIose a large deal and the rest of my day is usually not as productive as I would like.

Dealing with different people

Even though they may have similar needs every prospect and customer is different. Plus, every person you encounter has different objectives and personality. Being able to adapt your approach to address is fun and challenging.

No limits on earning potential

Unless you work strictly on salary you determine your earning potential. When I first started my sales training practice I put in part time hours and earned what I had when I was an employee. When I ramped up my efforts and doubled my revenue, I realized that I had been doing myself a disservice. The harder and smarter you work, the more money you can make.

Learning about different businesses and companies

Every company you deal with has their own idiosyncrasies and learning about their respective challenges can help you develop as a business person. Every conversation with a new prospect teaches me something new.

You can be your own boss

This doesn’t always work, especially if your boss is a micr-manager but most sales leaders give their top performers lots of freedom and flexibility. Even when I worked in retail, the best sales people looked at their job from a entrepreneur’s perspective. They couldn’t set their own hours but they treated their customers as clients and worked diligently to achieve their foals and quotas.

Figuring out the best approach

The approach you use with one person or company doesn’t always work with others. Being able to figure out the best approach is challenging and intriguing at the same time.

Delivering sales presentations

Being a sales trainer, I love delivering a sales presentation. I enjoy meeting with prospects, exploring their challenges and presenting a solution that will address those business issues. When my presentation hits the mark and my prospect’s eyes light up I know I have been successful.

Helping people solve a business problem

Decision makers face a multitude of problems and it is rewarding to determine the best solution for each prospect’s situation. This is particularly challenging when multiple people are involved in the decision making process but it’s something that I consistently enjoy.

Discussing business

I love business and I thoroughly enjoy discussing business trends and problems with my clients and prospects. Every time I talk to a new prospect or an existing client, I learn something new about business.

Learning new techniques

If you’re not evolving, you’re going to lose business to a competitor. What worked last year may no longer be relevant which means you constantly have to modify your approach and apply new techniques and strategies. They don’t all work but when you implement a new idea and it gets the desired results, it’s awesome.

Developing relationships

As a highly social creature I enjoy developing strong relationships with my clients. As you earn their trust they open up and share insights that your competition may not be aware of. These relationships allow me to discover additional opportunities and position myself as a resource rather than just someone hawking a product or service.

Developing proposals

The vast majority of sales people dislike creating a proposal; however, I enjoy crafting a proposal that accurately addresses each prospect’s issues and demonstrating why they should buy my services rather than a competitor’s. Proposals make me thing and look at the purchase from my prospect’s perspective. What do they need to know? What will seperate my proposal from my competitor? How can I clearly demonstrate the value of my products and services?

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Other posts on a similar theme:

Presales Qualification
The Three Biggest Killers of Sales Productivity
Sales Tips Article via The New York Times
9 of the Best Sales Tips for Hight Performing Sales People
How to be Interesting and Useful to C Level Executives
Introducing The Fox Den

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Ace Cafe London - Lamborghini Gallardo

Thank you for visiting this blog. If you'd like to subscribe after viewing this article, there are links on the right hand side of the page - and if you liked a post please leave a comment! If you'd like to connect on one of the social networking sites you can reach me via my Facebook page and you can also send me a message via Google Plus.

The Ace Cafe London - Lamborghini Gallardo


Lamborghini Gallardo by Roz Bennetts
Lamborghini Gallardo, a photo by Roz Bennetts on Flickr.
This was taken on 8th August at The Ace Cafe London. I'm not a great photographer but this was my favourite shot as it managed to capture the venue and the prettiest car there.

The Ace Cafe is a licensed cafe near Stonebridge Park in West London. They are the legendary venue for bike meets and Supercar meets. The Lotus Forums have a meet-up there once a month but this one was taken at the 'Petrolhead Nirvana' monthly get together which is organised by a chap called Harsh who posts at The Lotus Forums where I also post on occasion. They've had a De Lorean at one of these before but it wasn't there this time - so I'll try again next month :-)

My photos can be found at Photobucket and Flickr.



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Other posts on a similar theme:

Lotus Esprit Sport 350
All New Landrover to help Motorists Overcome Mountainous Kensignton Terrain
Tiny Dancer - Elton John

Monday, 15 August 2011

How to Be Interesting (and Useful) to C-Level Executives

This is a truly excellent post courtesy of S. Anthony Iannarino of thesalesblog.com. I've met precious few sales people in my career that were entirely comfortable communicating at C level and I think this is because there are precious few 'C level sales people' so most of us are automatically selling outside our normal operating 'comfort' zone when we are addressing these people. If you're in B2B sales I hope you enjoy the article whether or not you think you're already good at this.

How to Be Interesting (and Useful) to C-Level Executives

More and more, there is an increasing demand that salespeople, account managers, and operations people developing the skills to engage with senior level executives in their client and dream client companies.

The level of value we create as a sales organization is limited by our ability—or inability—to have the necessary dialogue that allows us to create higher levels of value. It isn’t easy to develop the skills necessary to engage in a strategic dialogue with C-level executives. But there are some things that you can do to make it a lot easier—and to enjoy much greater success when you do.

Know How You Create Value 

C-Level executives are consistently short on one thing: time. They are protective of their time because they have so little of it when you compare it to the demands of their organization and its stakeholders or against the results that they need to produce. This means you have a very limited time get your C-Level executives attention. You are expected to know exactly how you create value for companies like theirs, and you are expected to have some understanding of what you can do for them—even before you speak with them. This isn’t always about research; it’s about knowing who you are, what you do, and how you make a difference. When you call on high-level executives, you don’t have the same time to build rapport as you might if you were calling on someone lower in an organization. Someone lower in the organization may need more time for rapport building because you are going to work closely with them should they choose to move forward with you. You also don’t have time to fish around for ideas that might indicate some dissatisfaction. That might work where and when you have time, but you don’t have that luxury here. You have to know how and what you can do to make a difference. This is why I believe it is a mistake to believe that you should always enter an organization at the top (this is, of course, a generalization and all generalizations are lies) You must able to ask questions that demonstrate you know where the issues are, and that you know how to increase revenue, increase profitability, and reduce costs (all dissatisfaction ultimately rolls up into one of these categories). Know how you create value and get to the point.

Possess the Business Acumen to See Through Their Eyes 

To sell and engage an organization at this level, you have to possess the business acumen necessary to see the business through your c-level executive’s eyes. You may not ever be the subject matter expert that your c-level executive is when it comes to their business, but you better be able to quickly comprehend the big moving pieces that you touch. You have to understand what drives their business so you can relate what you do to pull those levers. You don’t have to have a perfect understanding, but you better know how they look at their business. There are lots of c-level executives that will be willing to give you an education (or the rest of an education), but you have to have a basic fundamental understanding of how business works so you can keep up; this means you need business acumen. Your c-level executive is interested in talking about business. You have to be able to keep up.

Prove You Will Own the Outcome 

C-level executives work for all kinds of shareholders. They have their management team to serve. They have their employees to serve. They have clients to serve. They have a board of directors to serve. The last thing in the world that they need is another dependent. To get a c-level executive’s attention and be useful to them, you have to prove that you are going to own the outcome. This is what they want from you, and this is what they are willing to pay you for doing. To be interesting and useful to a c-level executive, you are going to have to demonstrate that you are going to own the outcome that you sell. They aren’t hiring a salesperson to work for them; they are hiring a manager that will own the result and do what is necessary to ensure that it is achieved. Explain that you are going to own the outcome, and that you will be there to see the objective achieved.

Own the Next Steps

What you want from a c-level executive is permission to proceed. You own the next step. All you need from them is their blessing to move forward. If they have to do work for you to move forward, it isn’t going to get done and they won’t need you. Instead, you are going to end up with unanswered voicemails, unanswered emails, and a serious sense of disappointment. If you need information, ask your c-level executive whom you should work with to get it. Then you go get the information. If you need access to people, ask the c-level executive to forward an email that you write and send to the parties you need to engage with. You aren’t interesting and useful as a dependent. You are useful and interesting as someone who is going to get things done while they move on to other priorities. You have to take initiative. You do the work. You own the next step.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and I'd be delighted if you'd leave a comment. If you're a business networker and would like to connect on one of the lesser known business networking sites (and perhaps discover a few new ones) you can join and follow my updates via the sales community at The Fox Den, contact me via my About.me page via my profile at Profiled.com and via the one page professional profile site, aptly named.

Other posts on a similar theme:

Presales Qualification
The Three Biggest Killers of Sales Productivity
Sales Tips Article via The New York Times
9 of the Best Sales Tips for Hight Performing Sales People
What I Love about Sales and Selling
Introducing The Fox Den

Saturday, 13 August 2011

9 of the Best Sales Tips For High Performing Sales People

Some more great sales tips I just came across by: Jon Gilge

If you enjoy this article I'd be delighted if you'd leave a comment and if you're a business networker and would like to connect on one of the lesser known business networking sites (and perhaps discover a few new ones) you can send me a message via my About.me page via my profile at the Profiled.com site.

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Can a collection of the best sales tips make you a great salesperson?

I doubt it.

But can the best sales tips give you something to think about, point you in new directions, help you rediscover sales techniques and practices you may have forgotten, remind you of why you sell, refresh the reasons that you got to where you are, or show you how to get to where you want to go?

Yes, the best sales tips can do that.

The Best Sales Tips From My Career in Sales
Sales Tip #1: Talent is a myth, effort is what makes salespeople successful. In business, sports, life and the profession of selling talent matters much less than effort applied to the mastery of the skills that lead to success. Those who succeed outwork those who don’t every time. Because effort is a choice, we all can be successful in sales.


Sales Tip #2: Attitude is the most important element in consistent sales performance. Attitude is the lens through which the mind receives information. It assigns value to the experiences we encounter in selling. When it is positive even negative events are perceived as encouraging, hopeful, and opportunities to learn. When it is negative, even positive events are seen as discouraging, hopeless, and without value. Consistency in selling is about maintaining a positive outlook, and a positive attitude make that possible. The good news- attitude is a choice that you make.


Sales Tip #3: Start every sales conversation by asking the prospect what they need to know about your company and product. Rather than telling them what you think they should know, ask them what is important to them. Once they tell you, what you say in response is no longer selling them, but rather a much less threatening answering of their questions. Prospects are much more receptive to this, leading to less resistance to the information and the greater likelihood that they will receive it positively.


Sales Tip #4: Dress and Groom yourself exactly as you want to be perceived. Anyone who tells you that you can’t judge a book by its cover is missing the fact that if the cover doesn’t look good no one will open it. As a salesperson your image creates an impression that influences all aspects of your customer interaction. If you want to sound smarter, seem more trustworthy, be perceived more credibly, then let your dress and grooming represent those things.


Sales Tip #5: Practice every day. There isn’t always time to practice for hours, nor is there probably the need after you have established your skills, but you should make the commitment and get in the habit of practicing something every day. When you practice, don’t just read or review dialogues in your mind, practice by saying it out loud. Learning is contextual, and what you learn by reading doesn’t do much for your ability to use the information in a conversation.


Sales Tip #6: Get comfortable with talking to yourself in the mirror. From time to time we all need a good talking to, and who better to do that than the person who knows us best- ourselves. You can’t always rely on someone else to pick you up when your are down, or scold you for not doing the things you know you should be doing. So do it yourself, in a mirror, out loud.


Sales Tip #7: Be meticulous with your follow up. For every company I ever worked the number one cause of customer dissatisfaction and lost sales was lack of communication. Excel at followup and you will excel at selling. Because people have come to expect poor follow up, when you are different you get noticed and that attention will get you sales. When you need to call someone back, give them an exact time and then call them back at the promised minute. They will be amazed and likely to put complete trust in everything else you say.


Sales Tip #8: Set goals that you look at every day. Far to often sales people set goals and then forget about them until it is too late. Don’t be that person. Sales goals only work when they serve to convince you of the inevitability of the outcome. It’s not about having an objective, is about subconsciously creating the outcome so that your mind can figure out how to get you there and motivate the behaviors that will. Read them every day- out loud- and into a mirror when possible.

Sales Tip #9: Sometimes it’s OK to give yourself a reset. We all have bad weeks, and sometimes those weeks turn into a month when we just can’t seem to make the sales happen. Oftentimes the momentum of a bad streak becomes to much to overcome and we suffer from the pressure of being unable to hit our targets. Get out from under this pressure by giving yourself a reset- forget about the first two weeks of the month and set new goals for the last two weeks- starting over at zero for zero. Taking the pressure off of coming back from insurmountable odds is often enough to turn your slump around and get you back to making sales. As a sales manager you can also apply this advice to managing your team.

~~~


Other posts on a similar theme:

Presales Qualification
The Three Biggest Killers of Sales Productivity
Sales Tips Article via The New York Times
How to be Interesting and Useful to C Level Executives
What I Love about Sales and Selling
Introducing The Fox Den

Friday, 29 July 2011

Tiny Dancer - love this song

Thank you for visiting this blog. If you'd like to subscribe after viewing this article, there are links on the right hand side of the page - and if you liked a post please leave a comment! If you'd like to connect on one of the social networking sites you can reach me via my Facebook page and you can also send me a message via Google Plus.

You might have heard this song first (as I did) during the movie 'Almost Famous' starring Kate Hudson as a band groupie. That was where my love affair for this song started and this is the studio recorded version of it. I found a live recording of Elton John singing Tiny Dancer on TOTP way back when, and I encourage you to listen/watch it as in my opinion it's almost flawless. You can watch it on my Bebo page and after you've watched it come back and let me know what you think in the comments!



~~~

Other recent posts:

The Ace Cafe London Lamborghini Gallardo spotted
My ideal Car (nearly) Lotus Esprit Sport 350
Lotus Esprit thanks to Bill Mant
Another Winnie the Pooh Extract

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Sales Tips Article courtesy of The New York Times

This is an article that appeared in the New York Times which I dip into occasionally, on 25th July 2011. I like it because it manages to convey what I do every day to non sales people and at the same time managed to give me a new perspective.

~~~

My Top 10 Sales Tips
By TOM SZAKY


My biggest sales lesson came from a good friend who is now our head of Canadian business development (a fancy term for sales), Robin Tator. Robin taught me that sales is not about what you are selling, but about making friends and about getting someone to see the world the way you do. If you do that, everything else will take care of itself.

Sales can be a melancholy job. On one hand, many people (especially nonsales people) feel that it’s sleazy and lowbrow. On the other hand, Until there’s a sale, there is no business. Personally, I’ve gone from thinking the former to believing the latter and honing my skills over a decade to where today I am effectively the chief sales officer of TerraCycle. I don’t know exactly when this transition happened, but it took me a few years to embrace it the way I do today.

I recently wrote a friend who is starting a nonprofit and suggested that the role of a company leader is to become the chief convincing officer. In the end these two titles are synonymous, because selling is really the art of convincing someone to believe and buy into your concept, whether by buying your product or service or by investing in your company or by working for your company. Here are my top 10 sales tips, all of which have served me and our staff for years:

You can sell only if you yourself are convinced: If you are not sold on the product or service, it will be an uphill battle to sell someone on else. Your lack of conviction will scream through.

Be clear and direct: When pitching do not use complicated diction. Pride yourself instead on being able to explain the concept as quickly, clearly and simply as possible. This is important because the biggest problem in sales is client confusion. Confusion does not lead to a Yes.

Pressure is an art: Creating FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) in your client’s mind can be a good thing because it will lead to serious consideration of your concept. In the TerraCycle world, we award brand exclusivity by country and by category. I often need to tell potential clients that their competition is also talking with us. The trick is to mention this once and to NOT rub it in, which is likely to anger them. No one who is angered into saying Yes.

Know your client: Make sure to research your potential clients, know their challenges and their needs. One size hardly ever fits all, and you look much stronger if you care about the business enough to invest in the research. I can’t tell you how many times I get cold calls from sales people who don’t even know what TerraCycle does.

It’s all about the presentation: Building an amazing deck is critical to the sales process. Practice it, memorize it and be prepared to shift your emphasis based on how the energy changes when you give the presentation. Internally, we always ask ourselves: “Is the flow of this deck right? Will it convince?”

Be passionate and exciting: Most presentations are BORING! So create a show and make it exciting. Excitement is contagious – just like a yawn.

If you don’t know the answer, do not guess: People will ask you tough questions, and you may not always know the answer. The person asking you may be testing you, knowing the answer full well. And if you fumble, it’s very hard to rebuild credibility. Do not guess.

Answer questions directly and clearly: If you are asked a question and you give a “politician’s answer” – in other words, if you don’t answer the question – your credibility will decline, and you will hurt your chances of making the sale.

Humor is a great lubricator: Funny stories always break the ice. Instead of using business cards, everyone in our company uses stamps (see right) to leave our contact info. It’s eco-friendly, it never runs out and it makes for a nice ice-breaker at the beginning of every meeting.

You can always be better: Sales is an art, not a science. Which means it’s never perfect and can always improve. TerraCycle has a standard sales deck most of our associates use. We’ve gone through 94 versions in the last three years and version 95 is around the corner.

Bottom line: sales is a critical function that is more art than science, so hone your art. And please share any of the sales tips you’ve learned.

~~~

Thanks for reading: if you'd like to connect with me on some of the business networking sites you can reach me at the following locations: The Holden Fox Den (Power Base Selling), LinkedIn, Twitter and there are a few other links via my website here.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

No One Makes You a Leader

Another post courtesy of The Sales Blog by Anthony Iannarino, (my favourite sales blogger).

If you like this article I'd be delighted if you'd leave a comment and if you're a business networker and would like to connect on one of the business networking sites you can send me a message via my About.me page, via my profile the the Profiled.com site and you can also write to me via LinkedIn.

All the best,

Roz

~~~

Selling effectively in business-to-business sales requires that you possess leadership skills. Much of the results you help your clients to produce will come through leading a team of people, people from your company and from your client’s company.

As a salesperson, you are called upon to also be a leader. You are a strategic orchestrator, making sure that everyone is working together to make the outcomes you promised a reality.
No one makes you a leader. You become a leader by leading.

You Lead By Taking Ownership for Outcomes

There are dozens and dozens of attributes that great leaders possess. And there are as many opinions on what makes a great leader as there are great leaders.
But one thing that makes a leader a leader is taking ownership and responsibility for outcomes.

As a salesperson, you have to take ownership for the outcomes that you have sold and promised. This means you sometimes have to lead members of your client’s team, and you also have to manage members of your team (which is sometimes more difficult than managing your client’s team).

Your role is to make sure all of your efforts are aligned and that everyone is playing their part. You have to remind people of the vision. You have to remind them how important their role in the mission is, and you have to serve those you lead by solving problems and making certain they have what they need to get things done.

Leadership means that while you may not be responsible for actually completing the tasks or transactions, you are responsible for ensuring the result is achieved.

You take ownership of the outcome; no one gives you ownership.

No One Will Fight You For Ownership

One of the most interesting things about leading is that once you decide to take a leadership role and own a difficult outcome, no one will stand in your way. No one. In fact, a lot of people will take one giant step backwards so as not to have to lead.

This is especially true the more difficult the outcome is to achieve. The more difficult the task, the less likely anyone is going to argue with you taking the leadership role. This is equally true when there is a lot at stake and the results are going to be visible. No one wants to be captain when there is risk of the ship sinking . . . but someone has to guide the ship through the storm.

If you would sell effectively, you must lead effectively. Don’t believe that it isn’t your job or that someone will make you a leader. Step up. Own the outcome. Lead.

Questions

Why does selling major B2B accounts require that a salesperson be a leader?
How do you lead when you lack the organizational chart authority? Is moral authority more valuable and effective than organizational chart authority?

Who makes you a leader?

What makes you a leader?

Why do so few resist someone else stepping up and taking a leadership role? Why do so many avoid leadership when the outcomes are going to be difficult to obtain and visible?

~~~


Other posts on a similar theme:

Presales Qualification
The Three Biggest Killers of Sales Productivity
Sales Tips Article via The New York Times
9 of the Best Sales Tips for Hight Performing Sales People
How to be Interesting and Useful to C Level Executives
What I Love about Sales and Selling
Introducing The Fox Den

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Selling Diamonds (or any Small Business) on the Internet

As I've mentioned elsewhere I was running my own diamond selling business for a while and one of the things I wished I'd done earlier was start using the internet properly. Whilst I was by no means unsucessful without it I wish I'd invested a bit of time to understand what Twitter was all about and all these social bookmarking sites and the like.

It was at the tail end by the time I got around to it, but in a very short period of time I realised what I had been missing out on. I was mostly dealing in the imperfect end of the diamond market where buyers are looking for a diamond that gives them most bang for their buck.

Whilst not something that you'd think of buying online I did find that at this end of the market people are happy to transact with you providing you:

a) Look like an honest person
b) Have some sort of reputation
c) Are willing to give them their money back if they're not happy

It took me by surprise but complete strangers will part with thousands of pounds just as long as you can tick all those boxes. But during this exercise I learned many things and one of them was the additional value you can get by harnessing the power of social media to drive traffic to your sites and to create credibility when you're really operating out of your bedroom.

It's about being credible, visible, reputable and helpful.

If you're an entrepreneur or a one-man band then you have to have a strong online presence these days and I would recommend you spend some time to investigate the many low cost (even free) ways you can promote yourself on the web by way of online business profiles, social media, bookmarking sites and so on. I'd even go as far to say that if you don't you'll be kicking yourself when you find yourself losing business to a competitor.

Some of the online activities I'd recommend to others looking to establish their business on the internet are opening an About.me page (my one linked) - about.me is a great way to establish an identity for yourself or your brand. If you're a one man band or small business you also might want to consider creating an account at SunZu - or the other good sites for entrepreneurs such as ProSkore and Biznik. Other things you can do include: establishing a personal website, creating a blog such as this one (obviously targeted to your field) or create a Facebook business page. If your business is closely associated with your name you might also want to tidy up and make presentable your Myspace page, LinkedIn profile and any other profiles which you already have such as your personal Facebook page plus ones which you might have forgotten about Bebo, Flickr - even Friends Reunited! I've linked to some of mine here to give you an idea. Good luck :-)

~~~

Other posts:

All New Landrover to help Motorists Overcome Mountainous Kensignton Terrain
Tiny Dancer - Elton John

Monday, 30 May 2011

Prepare a 20 minute speech in 5 minutes or less

An article on how it's possible to construct a twenty minute presentation in five minutes. Before I read this I was sceptical.

If you like this article I'd be delighted if you'd leave a comment and if you'd like to send me a message or connect you can do so via my website where I've listed links to some of my other profiles on the web - and you can follow me on Twitter.

If you'd like to subscribe there are links on the right hand side of the page. If you're a business networker and would like to connect on one of the business networking sites you can send me a private message via my About.me page, via the Professional Profile site and you can also message me via LinkedIn.

All the best,

Roz

~~~~

Speech Writing… the Marcus Method

Before I delve into the title of this post, let me start off by saying I used to be just like most people – I had a complete and utter fear of speaking in public. In fact, when I was in high school I once gave a ‘speech’ in front of the student body that went so awfully bad (between the heat flashes, shakes, loss of words, and near collapse) that I committed at a young age to never venture in front of an audience again.

But as time went on, somehow things began to change. Where I once dreaded the thought of public speaking I came to love the results that great communication – the idea of changing lives for the better through your own words. As we all know, there is a special power behind the spoken word, and I’m glad that I can now say that I embrace this gift we’ve all been given.

But I digress. What say ye that we get down to the nitty-gritty? You want to know how to prepare a speech fast, and a good speech at that. I’m here to give it to you.

For many, the process of preparing a talk, speech, or seminar is more painful than passing a kidney stone. They spend hours of reading, writing, and editing just to come up with a few pages of words that will hopefully have an impact on listeners.

If you’ve ever gone through such a routine, I’m here to tell you there is a much, much easier way.

Simple Conversation

Let me ask you a question. When you’re at the office on Monday mornings, how long does it take you to ‘prepare’ what you tell your friends and peers?

Or when someone asks you, “How were the holidays?” how much time does it take you to start to answer?

If you’re like 99.9% of the world, these types of conversations are something you don’t think about.
There is no preparation. You simply are telling others about a snippet of your life.

So my question is why don’t we follow these same steps when we speak in a public setting?

Why do we add so much agony to the process of preparation?

Frankly, the whole thing makes no sense.

How to Burn 20 Minutes at the Snap of a Finger

Recently I was asked by a company to give a seminar to a business group. They told me I’d need to speak for about a half-hour, to which I said it would be my pleasure. The only problem, they said, was the fact that they were having this seminar just days away, which meant that I’d have little time to prepare.

Upon hearing this concern I told them to stop worrying, as I could easily talk about business for 3 hours that same night if they wanted me to.

How is such a feat possible?

Think about it, let’s pretend you’re a business owner and you went to dinner with a friend who asked you, “What’s the dumbest thing you’ve done as a business owner?”

I bet you could sit there with your friend and go on and on for hours about different experiences you’ve had over the years and the lessons you’ve learned from each.

And again, you achieve all of this ‘discussion’ without a lick of forethought.

The Magic of Brainstorming Our Past

This same principal applies to the seminar I mentioned above. As soon as the lady asked me to participate, I sat down at my desk and thought about the 5 worst decisions I’ve ever made as a business owner. Within a few minutes, this brainstorming activity had produced over 10 examples of mistakes I’d made, all of which I knew would make for a great personal experience, and corresponding lesson, in the seminar.

Knowing I had only 30 minutes to speak, I chose the 5 experiences I thought would have the best impact and voila.. I was done. That was it. A 30 minute business seminar had been prepared in 5 minutes.

I relate this story because it’s applicable to every speaking opportunity (well over 200 events) I’ve had over the past 10 years. As soon as someone gives me a subject, I sit down and brainstorm experiences I’ve had that had anything to do with said subject, as well as the lessons learned from each.

With the average personal experience/story taking 3-6 minutes to tell, it’s easy to see just how quickly one can come up with 20 minutes of great speaking material.

Now I know some of you may be thinking, “But what if people don’t like my experiences?”
Let me tell you right now this simple rule of thumb that, if followed, will make your speaking days ahead much, much easier:

“If any experience in life has taught you a lesson… it will likely teach others as well.”
So throw away the script, quit with the worries, and start relying on life and her many lessons folks. By so doing, I can assure you that not only will the process of speech preparation become much, much easier, but there will also come a day when you’ll anticipate the opportunity to change lives with your words.

About Marcus – Marcus Sheridan had his first book on Public Speaking published when he was 24 years old. Since that time, he has become a popular speaker and writer, and has been known to produce some pretty awesome articles on business, marketing, and life at his popular blog, The Sales Lion. I hope you liked Marcus's post as much as I did.

Other posts related to public speaking:

Presentation Skills from around the World
Thoughts on Public Speaking
Thinking of joining Toastmasters, here's my experience

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Three Biggest Killers of Sales Productivity

This post courtesy of The Sales Blog by Anthony Iannarino, (my favourite sales blogger).

I work in B2B sales and if you're about to read this because you do too then I invite you to hook up with me on a few sites and resources that I find useful. You can connect with me at The Fox Den. The Fox Den is a newish community for alumni of Holden Power Base Selling or for anyone that enjoyed the book. If you haven't read Power Base Selling then you can read mine and others reviews and buy the book on Amazon; I also reviewed it on the Goodreads website where it's on my recommended books list. If you haven't read it then I think anyone in B2B sales, (particularly major account sales) will get something from it.

~~~

Sometimes you are the real obstacles to producing greater results.

We can easily get bogged down in doing things that make no impact on our sales results, even though these tasks feel like they are important to our sales efforts. Some of the tasks are necessary but can steal time, some are unnecessary but feel important, and some indicate deeper avoidance issues.

Identify and determine which of these three productivity killers destroy your results, and take action to reclaim your time—and produce better results.

Tasks On the Periphery of Sales

There are tasks that are close to sales, but that really aren’t selling. Some of these tasks may be necessary, but if you over invest in these areas, you destroy your ability to be productive and to produce results.

You need to do some research before prospecting. But too much research can result in too little prospecting. You need to send some follow up emails and respond to some emails. But too much time in the inbox means too little time face-to-face with your clients and dream clients.

You need to do some call planning and some reporting; both of these are important tasks. But spending more time than is absolutely necessary on these tasks means that you have less time for producing real results, the results that are only produced by selling.

All of these tasks may be necessary, but they are on the periphery of selling. They aren’t selling. To protect your time for real sales activities, you have to invest only the time that is necessary on these sales-related tasks that aren’t really selling.

Block out time for these tasks at the end of the sales day, and protect your sales time for the real work of sales, like prospecting and face-to-face sales meetings.

Tasks Belonging to Others

There are tasks that feel like they belong to you, but that really belong to someone else in the organization.

When your client calls and needs information, are you the right person to get them what they need? Or is there someone else on your team who is responsible for providing them with the information? Is there someone who, by having the responsibility, would do a better job getting information to your client?

When your client has a service issue, you should make sure that they are heard and that their issue is resolved. You might be the right person to listen and to express that you care, but are really the right person to manage the service problem? Or, is there someone else on your team who is both responsible and better prepared to get them the result they need?

Sales isn’t an operation role (I know that there is always some gray area here).

Learn to turn over the tasks to their rightful owners. If you need to give better guidance on how to serve your clients, invest your time developing the internal relationships that will let you to do so with confidence that the people handling the issues will not only complete the task, but will do so better and faster than you would have.

Tasks That Don’t Belong At All

If you spend your time creating documents, creating forms, creating your own internal paperwork, you are destroying your ability to be productive and to create results. Period.

If you setting up filing systems, cleaning your desk, or organizing and reorganizing your email you are spending time where no sales result can or will ever be produced. Period.

You can rationalize away the wasted time if your wish, but it still won’t move the needle.

The trouble with the tasks listed above is that they have some alluring qualities: your intentions are good in that you believe they will make you more productive. They make you feel like you are busy accomplishing something.

The sad and brutal truth is that you are most likely avoiding the real work of sales because of some deeper and more nefarious reason, like you lack confidence or you don’t believe in what you are doing. Worst of all, it may be that you lack the primary attribute of all successful people: self-discipline, the ability to make and keep commitments to one’s self.

What you believe is the greatest driver of your sales results and the actions that you take. Take some time to reflect on why you are avoiding doing the real work of sales, and get some help finding your way out the wilderness. The sooner you stop wasting time, the sooner you are really productive.

Questions

What are the biggest killers of your productivity that you control?

Have you done a time survey to understand how much time you spend on sales-related but non-selling tasks?

What tasks do you spend too much time on that really belong to someone else? Are you able to give the operations tasks to the operations team without a second thought? What you would have to do to be able to do so?

What are the tasks that you sometimes spend on time that really have nothing whatsoever to do with selling? Do you undertake these tasks to avoid doing something that you really don’t want to do? What is at the heart of that issue?

~~~


Other posts on a similar theme:

An article I wrote about Presales Qualification
Sales Tips Article courtesy of The New York Times
9 of the Best Sales Tips for Hight Performing Sales People
How to be Interesting and Useful to C Level Executives
What I Love about Sales and Selling
Introducing The Fox Den

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Lotus Esprit Love Affair

Thank you for visiting this blog, if you'd like to subscribe after viewing this article, there are links on the right hand side of the page - and if you liked a post please leave a comment! If you'd like to connect on one of the social networking sites you can reach me via my Facebook page, I have a Myspace page plus you can also send me a message via Google Plus.

I just wanted to give a big thank you to another Esprit nut, Bill Mant for letting me use his pictures. His 'love affair' with the Esprit is similar to mine with the only exception being that we got our colours the other way round: he got a red one first and then a white one and me vice versa. But it's nice to find someone who's so likeminded - and on the subject of being likeminded I'd like to give a little plug to The Lotus Forums which is a great resource for any Lotus enthusiast.

~~~

Other posts on a similar theme:

The Ace Cafe London Lamborghini Gallardo spotted
Lotus Esprit Sport 350
All New Landrover to help Motorists Overcome Mountainous Kensington Terrain

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Presales Qualification by Roz Bennetts

I wrote the following article a while ago on the subject of pre-sales qualification. I work in B2B sales and if you're reading this because you do too then I invite you to hook up with me on a few sites and resources that I find useful. I'm happy to give a plug and invite you to join and connect with me at The Fox Den. The Fox Den is a newish community for alumni of Holden Power Base Selling or for anyone that enjoyed the book. If you haven't read Power Base Selling then you can read mine/others reviews and buy the book on Amazon, I also reviewed it on the Goodreads website. If you haven't read it then I think anyone in B2B sales, (particularly major account type sales) will get something from it.

~~~

Jim Holden, author of best-selling sales book 'Power Base Selling' once said "Know this about yourself: there is only one reason salespeople lose orders and that is they are OUTSOLD."

I believe this is a true statement but I don't think that he meant that a sales person was supposed to win every single opportunity that came their way, rather I think we can agree he meant those opportunities that we considered were winnable and therefore pursued - and then lost.

It is probably true to say that the biggest waste of resources occurs when a sales-person commits his own time, and those of his organisation, into trying to win a sale which does not come to fruition.

For his own good then and for the good of his organisation it is vital that the sales person be able to qualify which opportunities are winnable and those which are not as early as possible in the sales cycle.

The ideal scene of course would be that the sales person would be able to know without any error exactly which opportunities his organisation will win and those he will not up front. This may be impossible in practise but pre-sales qualification is all about moving as close to this ideal scene as humanly possible.

This is sometimes easier said than done. The reasons a sale might be won or lost may be an obvious reason such as the product does or doesn't do some function that is deemed to be vital to the customer, or it might be something a bit more difficult to discover, such as having or not having a particular reference or having a better or worse one than someone else.

Also, as much as companies purchasing departments may try and level the playing field for bidders it is not unknown for a senior executive's personal favourite to still find themselves the recipient of additional advantage.

To complicate matters further the 'sands' of the sale can be constantly shifting as you and your competitors try and move the goal-posts to suit your own particular offering - so the landscape of the sale may change as the customer re-evaluates his requirements as he spends more time learning about yours and your competitors offerings.

In a nutshell then, pre-sales qualification can be extremely complicated and our questioning must also reveal areas where we might shift the sands and areas where our competitors could also do so the same.

The ability to formulate questions around all these areas without alienating yourself or your organisation but at the same time actually getting the answers you require is the difference between the amateur and the professional. But it is also something that sales people get better and better at as time goes on, after all there is no worse feeling than getting to the end of a sale where you have invested months of yours and your colleagues time to find out that you were probably playing catch up all along.

It's therefore important to know what you know and even more important to know what you don't know and resist falling into the trap of assuming you know when you don't.

This is the area where I think most sales people fall down: they get so excited about the opportunity to bid for a major piece of business in an important client that they get blinded by their own excitement and optimism.

I'm not suggesting that pessimism is a good thing but I do think that a healthy sense of paranoia can get a sales person a lot further than unbridled enthusiasm.

Call it caution if you will; the cautious sales person will be looking for gaps in his knowledge, will be playing all sides of the game and anticipating the moves of his competition whereas the super confident one may miss important pieces of the picture. There is a time and place for confidence and enthusiasm and a place for the exact opposite in every sale.

Some final thoughts

Once you have committed yourself to bidding and the client knows it you always lose a little bit of power, and depending upon your relationship with a client you might want to delay committing if you are uncertain about the strength of your bid.

The phrase 'before we decide to bid' followed by a clinch making question can be very powerful if you are in a position where the client needs or expects you to bid and you are unsure whether you're wasting your time. You may think that this can come over as arrogant (it can) and I'm not suggesting you use it all the time but if you've done a good job you may have got the potential client in a position where they do want you to bid.

When you use this phrase you will usually want to get some form of commitment from the client so it's not a phrase that you want to overuse, but in the right hands with perfect timing and sincerity it can clarify areas of the sale faster than any other method. It can also backfire though so in some ways it's safer to prime the CEO/MD to ask this kind of question when you involve them in the pre-sales qualification process. Do it with sincerity though - these aren't tactics for manipulation, it should be a shift in your attitude more than anything else. In other words, foster an mindset that yours' and your company's time is as valuable as your clients.

Expanding upon this last point, if you feel you are weak in a particular area that is going to lose you the sale further down the line (or could potentially) then there is a lot to gain from calling a meeting with the client to explain your reasons for not bidding 'at this stage.' I add the phrase 'at this stage' because you always want to leave the door open in case you are wrong.

Two things can happen: now that they are no longer under pressure from you and are probably respecting you for your honesty:

a) They may reveal that you are correct or

b) They may also share with you why you are wrong which they would be unlikely to do under any other circumstances.

Either way you win. And in the worst case scenario that you are correct you've probably improved your relationship for future business opportunities.

ENDS

I'm always interested in hearing from like minded people so feel free to drop me a line via my personal website or LinkedIn.

~~~

Other posts on a similar theme:

Great article - No-One Makes You a Leader
I write about joining Toastmasters
Professional Development Ideas

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Will Smith on Life

Thank you for visiting this blog, if you'd like to subscribe after viewing this article, there are links on the right hand side of the page - and if you liked a post please leave a comment! If you'd like to connect on one of the social networking sites you can reach me at my Facebook page, I'm on Myspace plus you can also send me a message via my website.

This is a selection of snippets taken from interviews given by Will Smith at various times over the years. I love his philosophy on life which seems to be: work incredibly hard, believe in yourself and be positive - but he puts it so much better! Well worth a look.




~~~

Other posts on a similar theme:

No-One Makes You a Leader
This is my first Toastmasters Speaking Group Post
Personal and Professional Development

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Economist debate: Is the internet inherently a force for democracy?

A worthwhile debate that had I had been pondering before this article appeared. Economist debate: Is the internet inherently a force for democracy?

If you'd like to subscribe to this blog there are links on the right hand side of the page. If you're a business networker and would like to hook up on one of the business networking sites you can send me a private message via my About.me page, via the Professional Profile site and you can also message me via LinkedIn.

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Other posts on a similar theme:

Must read: The Dangers of a Rising China via The Economist
Using the internet to support an online business
No Nonsense Professional Development

Thursday, 10 February 2011

No Excuses EVER - Professional development

Nice article via www.Biznik.com, Biznik is a great resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses
If you liked this post I'd be delighted if you'd leave a comment and if you'd like to send me a message or connect you can do so via my website where I've listed links to some of my other profiles on the web - and you can follow me on Twitter.

If you'd like to subscribe there are links on the right hand side of the page. If you're a business networker and would like to connect on one of the business networking sites you can send me a private message via my About.me page, via the Professional Profile site and you can also message me via LinkedIn. There are a couple of other sites I use too: Workspace (used to be BusinessCard), Chamber and Naymz.

All the best,

Roz

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No Excuses EVER - Professional development

What IS the most important characteristic of a leader? Read any leadership book and you will find tens of possible answers: character, strength, a genius IQ. Our research led us to this answer: no excuses. The technical term for this might be “accountability” or “responsibility” but we like “no excuses” because it conveys the real, raw truth of the matter.

The real, raw truth is that a fantastic executive is able to make things happen and she never makes excuses when she can’t do it.

Take the stories of these two real-life executives. One, the CEO of a technology start-up, ran into trouble with her company. The idea of her company was a unique and ingenious one, but she just couldn’t get any traction in the market. A fantastic executive herself, she ordered an immediate review of herself, with interviews from all of her investors and a harsh but truthful look at her executive skills. She found several deficiencies in herself such as a weak financial background and some difficulties in PR and marketing. She instantly hired a consultant to help her with her PR and marketing, and she found a part-time CFO to fill in her financial gap. She started really kicking the market in the teeth and got on the cover of a major magazine.

Another CEO, head of a $35 million technology company that was in the transition phase from startup to mid-size found himself losing the buy-in of his executive team. He lost his VP of Sales and his Chief Engineer before he called us. Then, when we arrived, he went on and on for hours about how the problem was the founder of the business. The only problem with his excuse was that the founder had been around long before the exodus had begun. It just didn’t add up. This CEO was completely unable to look at his own contribution to the recent problems.

The difference between these two types of leaders is a simple one. The first CEO was a no excuses CEO! She was able to face up to her weaknesses and charge ahead with solutions, unfazed by any critical or difficult feedback she might have gotten. The success of the company was more important to her than her personal pride. The other CEO, unfortunately, was so involved in finding who to blame that he couldn’t even see beyond his own nose.

A “no excuses” executive does not judge his company or his team by whether everything is perfect. That would be the wrong standard. The question is whether he can look at his company or team and, despite everything that is wrong, still make things turn out right. In the process, such an executive might even find that he or she has much to learn or many changes to make before all is well. Despite these difficulties, a no excuses executive charges ahead.

If you aren’t sure if you are a “no excuses” leader, take this short quiz:

1. When something goes wrong, do you usually search for who is to blame?

2. First thing in the morning, do you look at the day ahead and see only problems?

3. Do positive people annoy you?

4. Do you wonder why everyone around you is so much dumber or lazier than you?

5. Do you blame any recent career or job failures on the “bad economy”?

If you answered “yes” to more than three of these questions, you are having a tough time being a “no excuses” leader. You may need to take a longer leadership assessment test to determine why you have a tough time taking responsibility.

We are the first to admit that being a “no excuses” leader is not easy. On rough days or around tax time, we all might wish for a good scapegoat. The hard, unfriendly truth of the matter is that those who have the most success are the ones who can look at any situation and determine how they caused it.

So if you are looking at a financial disaster in your company, or a human resources nightmare, or any of the myriad problems that can occur, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and consider this:

1. Just because you are “no excuses” does not mean you should engage in self-pity or blame. Just acknowledge the situation and get moving on a solution.

2. A good analysis of how the problem occurred goes a long way toward solving it. If you can’t figure it out, get a professional in the area to help you.

3. Don’t get distracted. Just because something is unpleasant does not mean you should avoid it. Put on your riot gear and attack!


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Other posts you might like:

The Dangers of a Rising China via The Economist
Another good Economist Article
How to do: Professional Development