[expand title=”The 4 Key Skills of a Customer Focused Sales Professional”]

By: Ernie Chen

With the advent of globalisation, corporations in Malaysia must now prepare their sales force to be customer focused sales professionals in the competitive environment. Excellent sales professionals are no longer defined by just suiting up and looking good for the clients. For individuals to be innovative and competent sales professionals, they must leverage on the four distinctive key skills of a self- driven and self- directed sales professional to meet the changing needs of the new economy.

The four key skills are strategic thinking, knowledge responsibility, creativity and solution focus mindset.
These key skills with the support of technology will enable a sales professional to achieve sustainable performance and ultimately competitive advantage for their organisations.

A structured identification exercise must be conducted to establish the 2 major preferences in thinking – Left- Brained versus Right-Brained thinking. The Left-Brained thinkers tend to be factual and logical, and the Right-Brained thinkers tend to be intuitive and non-linear in their approach. For a sales professional to be thinking strategically, one must be able to stretch outside the boundary of their preferred thinking mode to achieve desired goals. Strategic thinking will assist a sales professional to address personal deficiencies and to have a strong conceptual mind.

A culture of responsibility towards knowledge must be inculcated into the daily routine of a sales professional. Firstly, sales professionals must constantly support their leaders, colleagues and peer groups with current and specialised knowledge by asking who am I accountable to for knowledge. Secondly, identifying people who can provide critical and valuable knowledge to assist us in selling by asking who is accountable to me for knowledge.

Sales professionals must have a strong desire for ideas generation and a passion to create critical and valuable knowledge at their battlefield. A significant focus on creativity must be in place to make things happen. Sales professionals must have knowledge, skills, an attitude and habit for self-driven continuous innovation to achieve significant work improvements.

Solution focus mindset is the belief that there is a solution to every sales challenge and having the positive end result in mind. This can be done through a culture of preservation by capturing, storing, updating and constantly leveraging on valuable knowledge to address sales challenges.

External motivations such as sales compensation given to sales professionals are no longer sustainable because this ploy will only work if the market is healthy. Today sales professionals must have professional discipline to develop a high degree of professional pride to achieve excellence through self-directed initiatives increasing favourable perceived value. Sales professionals must continue to form strong positive work habits and loyalty towards their chosen profession and not organisation. This is the result of the emergence of extreme careers and the departure of dream careers where sales professionals are searching for organisations that can provide employability and not employment.

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[expand title=”Preparing Sales Professionals for the NEW Economy…”]

By: Ernie Chen

Whether we like it or not, the emerging new economy will not be controlled by physical assets which is used to determine wealth in the old economy. It is no longer those who own more land that matters, but those who possess knowledge and intellectual capital. An example of intellectual capital is the human capital, where knowledge resides. The question is: Will our sales force be ready for such challenges? Will they survive in a competitive economy? What do the new organizations look for in sales professionals?

Globalization waits for no man and survival is on how competitive you are and the organization you belong to. The difference lies on how innovative and creative your organization is and how they manage intellectual capital to enhance sales targets to ensure the competitive advantage.

Traditional selling is no longer enough and let alone our sales management that is yet to encourage creativity in their approach. Many organizations are challenged to produce creative customer focused sales professionals who can contribute to organizations of the new economy. Students graduating with a basic degree are no longer sufficient to meet the demands of customers. One needs to be equipped with the 4 key skills and competencies of a customer focused sales professional to compete favorably in the market place. This will be the differentiating competitive advantage for sustainable growth for any organization and the sales professional himself or herself. A sales professional’s value will be determined by how well he or she leverages on these core competencies and skills sought after by such organizations.

Customer focused organizations will look for sales professionals who have the ability to think strategically, is creative, has knowledge responsibility and has a solution focused mindset. The focus of sales professionals in the new economy is to develop the “Know-What”, “Know-How”, “Know-Why” and “Care-Why” to exceed customer delight. A forward thinking organization will prepare their customer focused sales professionals to have in depth knowledge (Know-What) of the products and services in which they sell. In addition, the customer focused sales professionals will be trained on the advanced skills (Know-How) required to further enhance their relationship selling skills. Many organizations succeed in providing the knowledge and skills required to sell that are externally driven. However, these are no longer sufficient to meet the demands of the new economy. The customer focused sales professionals must be internally driven to have a positive attitude (Know-Why) and habitual practices (Care-Why) to excel in their respective industries.

The new challenge has begun for individuals and organizations to embrace the customer focused sales environment.

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[expand title=”Differentiating and Positioning Our Services”]

By: Ernie Chen

Kotler defines differentiation as, “the art of designing a set of meaningful differences to distinguish the company’s offering from competitor’s offerings. Organizations are competing to achieve sustainable differentiation to continuously position themselves as the niche market player within their industries. There are 5 key differentiation elements an organization can play and leverage on to enhance their positioning in the market. The elements include product differentiation, services differentiation, personnel differentiation, channel differentiation and image differentiation.

Products can be differentiated with basic characteristics that supplement the product’s basic function or better known as features. Many products also differentiate with performance and conformance quality. Organizations with higher quality will achieve higher return on investment. Customer perception towards a product will be positive if the product is known to be durable, reliable and repairable. A key selling point of products today in addition to the features and quality is the style that captures the emotions of the customer. The branded experience is an elusive concept that is here to stay.

The second differentiating element is the service differentiation. In the new service economy, we need to ensure that service is an essential feature of a company’s offering. Organizations are making themselves more customer-oriented and market-oriented by providing more for less value-add services such as easy access, fast deliver, accurate installation, free customer training and consulting, and continuous support on maintenance and repair.

The third differentiation element is the personnel differentiation. Kotler argues that there are 6 characteristics of better-trained personnel. They include, competence, courtesy, credibility, reliability, responsiveness and communication. This can be achieved through continuous training and development of the personnel on the knowledge, skills and attitude of their personnel. We cannot deny the fact that people do make the difference and hiring the best people is definitely not an easy task.

The fourth and fifth differentiation elements are channel and image differentiation. An example of leveraging on channel differentiation would be Dell, the leading suppliers of mass customization of personal computers by selling their products via telephone and the Internet. According to Kotler, “positioning is the art of designing the company’s offering and image so that they occupy a meaningful and distinct competitive positioning the target customers’ minds.” Therefore, creating an image and leveraging on it as a differentiation element is key in persuading our customer purchasing decisions.

With the key differentiating elements in place, the company must communicate its positioning strategy to its target segment and this can be done through the 7 marketing mix that will be discussed in the following article – The Ultimate 7 Marketing Mix Capturing Mind Space.

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[expand title=”Selling With The Branded Customer Experience”]

By: Ernie Chen

People buy because they need to fulfill a need or want that is being offered. That would answer the question of why do people buy. The next question would then be why do people choose the brands they choose? What are the buyers’ hot buttons? In the past, if the brand was a better known brand in the minds of consumers, it would be considered a better brand. The brand would be better known because it would be big. It would be big because the brand would advertise most with a bigger budget, bigger operation and the brand would sell the most products.

Many organizations would agree today that they no longer can just advertise the most and do a ‘good job,’ but they must create an excellent brand that signifies the quality of their product and services. The difference lies on how innovative and creative the organization is and how they manage to create the branded customer experience to ensure sustainable competitive advantage. The branded customer experience is beyond just a captivating logo or tagline but it is about creating experience with a difference for the customers. This can be achieved through a clear understanding of the customers need by capturing the emotional requirements that will enhance customer loyalty.

Some brand names become so big they become the names of their product categories. We say Coke and Xerox when referring respectively to any cola beverage or photocopy. But majority of the products will have to work hard just to be noticed. Selling good products and services are no longer enough. This needs to be supported with a continuous creation of a buying experience for the customers. The brand equity can be created, managed and marketed through the use of research and listening to the customer, the marketing plan, understanding the core brand’s personality clearly, defining the value of the brand, maximizing public relations, remembering the unique selling propositions and advertising.

Brand focused organizations will leverage and compete on their brand by providing cutting edge brand positioning and brand value propositions to enhance sales revenue. Brands will be around as long as the marketers of the brands keeps their fingers on the pulse of the marketplace. This will be a market of network branding and organizations will have to keep their brands alive or be diluted into a point of insignificance.

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[expand title=”The Show Business Of Selling”]

By: Ernie Chen

Shakespeare once commented that, “we are all actors in this big stage known as the world continuously performing at our very best to amaze others ”

With Malaysia and the world experiencing a quantum leap in the way business is transacted, unless the traditional concepts and models of leading and conducting business are discarded, any organization will be left behind. Today’s selling is very much a performance. A survey showed that 70 percent of shoppers would switch stores if it were more entertaining to do business according Scott McKain in his book, “All Business Is Show Business”. The focus is now place on how to capture the emotion of customers. To survive in the future economy or better known as the experience economy, businesses must create branded and positive connections that will exceed their customer delight.

In response to the new economy challenges of selling, organizations are using innovative methods to entertain their customers thus creating a bond that ensures sustainable brand loyalty. The 3 key and effective methods being practice are:

1. Creating a Powerful Business Concept with A Difference.

2. Developing a Compelling Story of your Organization to Share with Your Customers.

3. Enhancing Each Contact Experience with Your Customer.

When we examine the key elements of successful powerful business concepts with a difference, we find the following key characteristics – Relevant to Customers, Original and Impactful. The powerful business concept with a difference must be relevant to your customers that interest your potential audience and relates to their concerns. Your customer involvement is critical to the success of your business that ultimately is about “Wowing”” them. Secondly, the powerful business concept must be original. Every organization can claim to the experts or specialists in a particular business that could be pretty boring. The originality is about making your powerful business concept easy to describe, understandable and memorable. Lastly, the powerful business concept must be impactful to capture mind share of the customers mind. This is part of the reason in which all business is show business.

Businesses today are no longer just selling quality products and services but a quality experience. The customers are interested in the artistry involved in the process of success. KFC has the story of how this retired colonel creating his secret recipe of 11 spices with his retirement fund. HP speaks about their founders Bill and Dave starting out in their garage. And Bill Gates being a college dropout. These amazing stories relate successful individuals to the customers with their humble and motivational career paths.

With the first two methods in place, the final step is to ensure the customer contact experience is one that delivers on the promise made by the story of your powerful business concept with a difference. The customer contact experience must be based on the customer’s point of view that is consistent and measurable.
Forward thinking organizations understand that they are in the business of show business and they must implement key strategies to keep their customers amazed, thrilled, and astounded to keep them coming back for more. In order to achieve this, the show business of selling becomes vital in the success of any organization to achieve sustainable competitive advantage.

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[expand title=”The Next Big Thing”]

By: Ernie Chen

Just when we started to adopt the knowledge economy, we are now exposed to an exciting and promising experiential and emotional economy. The focus of leading experiential organizations is beyond selling products or services but consistently build brands that sell relationships. The objective of these organizations is to connect with the customer by establishing true differentiation and ultimately creating brand loyalty.

Experiential organizations continuously work toward:

1. Understanding the customers desires, emotions and lifestyle

2. Developing passion to increase knowledge and expertise

3. Making the “touchable” personalities real

4. Building interactive relationships with the customers

A very successful local low budget airlines service provider has truly understood the meaning of becoming a leading experiential organization – Air Asia. Air Asia with it bold and striking brand personality continuously reminds us of the experiences we share with them. With their tagline, “Now Everyone Can Fly” and positioning “The Lowest Airfare,” Air Asia has truly understood their customers’ desire, emotions and lifestyles.

Air Asia is also an organization that has the passion to increase their knowledge and expertise to continuously exceed their customers’ expectations. This is shown in the improvement of their daily operations to increase quality and reducing cost that would means cheaper airfares and better deals for the customers.

In many organizations, it is sometimes ironic where top management is always “too busy” to spend a little time listening to their customers. And yet they make the most important decisions serving their customers. This makes them sitting on the zenith of corporate excellence in which they are far from understanding their real customer desires. Tony Fernandez and many of his earlier success low budget airlines gurus in the world has always been “touchable” personalities in which they would be seen serving the passengers with drinks and sometimes peanuts.

Most importantly, an experiential organization focuses on building interactive relationships with customers. This is important for the purpose of acquiring, growing and retaining the customers. Value-added services are no longer sufficient to customers today. The only way we can keep them loyal is to create a branded emotional experience that will capture their hearts and souls.

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[expand title=”Sales Success: Do You Have What It Takes?”]

By: ATCEN

Sales is either an exhilarating career that adds meaning to your life, or a depressing job that drives you to despair. No matter what your product, company or background, much of your success is based on what you do. It’s easy to blame the product, your boss, the company, the customer, the economy, or even the weather. The truth is the ultimate factor of success or failure belongs to you.

Do you have what it takes to become a Successful Sales Professional? Of course there is more to being a professional salesperson than the basic attributes stated below, but they are a great place to start.

1. Commitment
You need to have real commitment to what you’re doing – total and full commitment to be in service and communicate with your customer. For example, meeting customers’ needs with a fast response time shows you are committed and interested to earn their business. Commitment also includes persistence. Many salespeople are unable to handle early failure; most of them feel that after three calls to a prospect, it’s time to give up. Either they expect instant success or their egos were too fragile to take failure. Just hang in there if the sale has potential.

2. Overcome Rejection
To be good in sales, one must understand the difference between a business refusal and a personal rejection. Once you understand that when a client says ‘no’ it is not a personal rejection, you make a quantum leap into the ranks of professionalism. Speak positively and proudly about your company, product/service, and yourself, we don’t have to disparage competitors. We build upon our strengths, not the weaknesses of others.

3. Listening Skills
Good sales professionals “explore” people’s needs. They ask questions, and listen. Sales
professionals should see themselves as counselors and problem solvers, not hard-selling sales people. By developing effective questioning and listening skills, sales professionals can create an understanding of the client’s concerns well enough to offer solutions.

4. Enthusiasm
A positive attitude is a strong asset especially in sales. Enthusiasm reflects a salesperson’s excitement for the product and what it can do for the prospect. Rarely will one find a successful salesperson that isn’t sincerely excited about his/her product or service.

In short, success in sales can be yours, provided you’re willing to work on these basic attributes. Keep working on them, and then work some more. Sales can drive you to the bank, or drive you crazy. The choice is yours.

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[expand title=”Conquering the “No”s”]

By: Ernie Chen

Selling is perhaps the oldest profession in the world and we have come a long way in terms of finding new ways to sell to our customers. From the days of hard selling to what we practice today – relationship selling, the sales pitch is managed and marketed through the use of research and listening to the customer, the marketing plan, understanding the core brand’s personality clearly, defining the value of the brand, maximizing public relations, remembering the unique selling propositions and advertising.

With all these in place to ensure our sales pitch is solid, we are still constantly faced with challenging objections from our customers. There are many reasons why our customers object to our proposition and the most common are no need, no interest, no time and no money. These objections have become icons in the “hall of objections” in which customers make it a habit to object. We have become as numb as customers toward the sales pitch that may or may not meet our needs. Thus saying ‘NO’ seems like the right thing to do each time we are sold something.

Customers that say no to us may not necessarily mean a dead end objection. Many a times, we may have customers buy from us after many rounds of objections. The reason behind this is the psychology of the customers buying behavior. Customers have created this self defense mechanism to protect themselves from intruding sales professionals by saying no to test the persistency, consistency and sincerity of the sales professionals. Many organizations have created a perception that sales is just a numbers game. They believe that the more customers one speaks to, the more sales is achieved. This is today a myth and no longer holds true. In addition to increasing the number of sales pitch, we must continuously find ways to improve on the sales pitch.

There is a structured approach to handling objections successfully that all sales professionals must learn to practice. The approach is known as the Acknowledge, Defuse and Refocus (ADR) approach. Many sales professionals fail in their early attempts to make sales close because when they are provided with an objection, the sales professional immediately moves into a defensive mode. The sales professional will continuously find new reasons to convince the customer to purchase. When a customer says no, they do not mean never. They simply mean no and maybe sometime later. We as sales professionals must learn to Acknowledge the customers objection and Defuse their focus on the objection. Upon achieving that, we will then Refocus the customer once again on a possible opportunity to resell to them.

The ADR approach is a structured and systematic method, and when perfected will promise great success to any budding sales professional in this exciting profession. We just need to be consistent and persistent in our journey to conquer the “NO’s.

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[expand title=”What’s In a Name, If There Isn’t Personality?”]

By: Ernie Chen

Brand focused organizations will leverage and compete on their brand by providing cutting edge brand positioning and brand value propositions to create a strong brand. Huge budgets have been allocated to create distinguished names with logos, trademarks and design packages that represents a company or its’ products, and services. However, many have forgotten that while a name is an identifying designation, the brand name requires a sense of definition and personality.

Traditionally, better known brands in the minds of the consumers would be considered better brands. They were usually better known due to bigger advertising budgets and they would advertise the most. However, bigger brands could only do so with bigger returns through the highest quality of their products and the right pricing. The image that it creates is the “feel good” quality. This is the reason for many purchases; people believe that they are buying quality at an acceptable price and getting it with a feeling of style, accomplishment and recognized status.

Today, brands with personality will have to do more that just creating a “good feeling.” The decision to remain loyal to a brand is based on the brand image and value that comes with the brand that includes price, quality, convenience, availability, satisfaction and service guaranteed. Service is one of the most overused words and undelivered practices in business today. Business has known it for a very long time, promised it in their communication channels yet seem forever inadequate to the task. The face of service, “Customer Service Centers” and “Customer Interaction Centers” is where the customer is supposed to receive their solutions. However, due to lack of focus on the brand promise, the reason for a high level of dissatisfaction can be traced to over promising and under delivering.

The secret in creating brand personality is considering the following:

1) Understand your customer
2) Understand what your customer wants
3) Satisfy your customer
4) Continuously and consistently satisfy your customer
5) Understand the need to remain the same and the need to change
6) Use your market research

What’s in a name if there isn’t personality that creates brand loyalty? Brand loyalty is ultimately building on quality, price, image, and service – the key elements that constitute the value of a brand.

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[expand title=”Before You Can Sell, You Have to Believe “]

By: Ernie Chen

First and foremost, you have to believe in your product/services so much that you can confidently sell it to anyone, without any fear or doubt!

The mindset as to what you’ll be doing is not “selling” but rather providing a solution to help others has to be internalized. When selling a product or service, you have to be genuinely trying to help others by offering a solution that you really believe would make his/her life better in some way. How can you do this? Get excited over your product/services! This means genuinely excited – not just ‘acting’ excited. Learning how to be excited about your product will translate into energy when talking or presenting your product.

To really charge up your “excitement” over the product or service you sell, transfer those mental pictures, emotions and excitement onto paper. Each time you sit down to write your sales letters, start by getting in touch with those feelings and mental pictures that get you excited about the product/services. Feel how you would feel when you see the customer reaping the benefits.

Ask yourself why you are selling the product/services. Is it because of the money? Or is it a solution, a benefit, an end result that you want to share with your customers that will add more value to their lives in some way? Or is it for the company?

What is the main message here? Here are 3 situations to consider:
1. You won’t see the CEO of Ford Motors driving a Honda, nor will you see Ray Kroc (founder of McDonald’s) eating in a Burger King.
2. If you have never tasted something, how do you know that you don’t like it?
3. Do you jump into a bath, without testing the water first?

McDonald’s believes in their product – despite other competitors knocking them down. Yet, they still make vast profits each year by sticking to what they believe in – selling to people just like you and me. If one of your friends asked you to recommend your favorite restaurant, you will recommend based on your past experiences – something that you have tried before, and LIKED.

In short, the moral of the story is:
1. Find out why you want to sell what you’re selling, and you’ll learn to sell it better.
2. If you haven’t “experienced” the product/services you are selling, how do you know it works

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[expand title=”Infectous Excuses in Sales  “]

By: ATCEN

The demands prospects have on sales professionals in today’s business climate is one that leaves nothing to be much excited about – at least from the sales person’s perspective. The threats of globalization and mergers have left cuts and bruises in many (but not all) sales professionals struggling to emerge as champions in the sales environment.

For those who are still trying to find light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps these individuals should not have ventured into the ‘tunnel’ in the first place. These are people who are in a state of uncertainty, complaining that sales are down, constantly making excuses as to why.

If you believe in these excuses, you can and are about to sabotage your sales career! Having an attitude of self-pity in sales is a sure road to self-destruction and could probably be infectious. Let us address these damaging excuses associated with sales and why they could be ‘infecting’ you.

Excuse #1: I am not a born sales person.
Who ever came up with this notion, definitely had not realized that everyone is capable of selling. Nevertheless, not everyone can achieve the desired result(s) without adequate knowledge and skills, coupled with the right attitude. These are acquired through formal and informal training. As a sales person, we should be asking, “What new knowledge or skills have I gained today?”

Excuse #2: I am not talkative. Thus, I can’t or might not succeed in sales.
There is a saying, “An empty barrel makes the most noise.” Prospects/Customers in the Knowledge Economy demand relevant information and not empty conversations. In fact, a majority of successful sales professionals practice “Consultative selling” compared to “Didactic selling”, whereby the former requires one to listen more and ask questions.

Excuse #3: I do not have a great or the best product to sell.
If a product is so great and is considered the best amongst its category, there is no need for sales people. As of this moment, there isn’t a product that can claim this stature. If a sales person is unable to find a niche for its product, then it is time to differentiate.

Successful sales professional never believe in excuses or luck. Quoting Robert F Kennedy, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

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[expand title=”The Contemporary Selling Philosophy”]

By: ATCEN

Why do people buy? People buy when there is a need and also a supply to their needs. People’s buying behaviour is changing as they are becoming more sophisticated and having more alternatives that they have never had before. They are being bombarded with advertisements that offer all kinds of products and services, and even substitutes that offer lower prices!

This is one way consumers are changing today. They are looking for people who are not just there to sell them something, but who are there to understand their needs and help them achieve their objectives. Alternatively, the changing trend in satisfying consumers needs forces ‘selling’ to change in some ways so as to meet their needs and requirements.

The typical ideology of selling is merely telling people about your product or service, what its features are, the advantages and benefits, why people should have it, and ultimately ask them to buy it. This is the method used by some sales people today – which is causing them to fail. People are seeking the experiential buying experience, where there is an emotional connection throughout the whole process in buying between the buyer and seller. Focus on creating value for people rather than just selling products or services to them is the exact experience that people are seeking today!

As customers become increasingly sophisticated, sales strategies need to be modified accordingly. Customer-focused selling is an attempt to tap into customers’ minds, find out what they are thinking and why, what their problems are, what do they want and how to help them meet their needs. Besides that, there is also a need in focusing on how to deliver as much benefit as possible towards the customer’s objectives. Leave your objectives, your sales goals, and your quotas at the door. Instead, think of helping customers find solutions that will help them achieve their objectives.

Why do people fail to sell? Selling, like any other job, needs to be approached systematically and the best approach for improving ability is the KSAH approach. Learn the right KNOWLEDGE, develop the correct SKILLS, build the proper ATTITUDE and ensure that those skills are applied over and over until they become a HABIT. To be successful in selling, it is important to combine the knowledge of the market, your product / service and your company with the prospects. From there, apply the right attitude and positive approach to problems, and develop selling skills of professional standards. Finally, success in selling requires that the skills are practiced, drilled and rehearsed until they become an automatic process in our daily routine.

Always remember to tell people how good you are, and give them reason as to why they should evaluate your product as well as they should. Most of the time we want people to give us good comments, but we fail to “sell” our product. To do so, we have to know absolutely what, how and why we do what we do!

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[expand title=”Success Reminders in Outbound Telesales”]

By: ATCEN

Mass selling with the telephone has come a long way since its introduction in the 1960s. What started out as an individualistic selling approach has now turned into a performance intensified team-based job; thanks to the emergence of call centers. The call centers role in sales has brought about new terminologies like telemarketers and outbound telesales.

Such revolution in sales has changed much of the conventional face-to-face selling environment. Call center sales professionals are required to be vocally captivating instead of visually pleasant; quick on their fingers instead of their feet. Thus, selling over the telephone requires a new set of “secrets to success”, where many have been taught and said. The following are amongst the many “golden rules” in outbound telesales which we ought to remember if we wish to succeed in closing sales seals over the telephone.

Reminder #1: Opportunities don’t come knocking. You got to do the calling.
A successful telesales individual does not hold truth to luck. He/she seeks to change his outcome and results by action, for he/she lives by a strong principle of every action ultimately gives an assuring reaction. Stop wishing that every prospects/customers will revert to you voluntarily with your desired answer. Keep asking for the opportunity to close.

Reminder #2: The more you hit, the more you get. It’s a numbers game.
Certain sales gurus are trying to defy the notion that outbound telesales is a numbers game, by readdressing the issue of ‘cold call’. We should never forget, sales is and will always be a profession of prospecting. The ability to reach as many souls on the other line will always be the first step towards a sale. That is the Law of Probability.

Reminder #3: Improve your Law of Average Hits.
The Law of Average Hits acts as the differentiator towards achieving the desired results in both effort and time. A successful telesales professional does not leave his/her faith solely to the hands of the Law of Probability. He/she knows by putting the extra effort in knowing the prospect (prior the call), perfecting the sales pitch, and enhancing one’s communication skills; results can be achieved by half the time and cost. While others are closing 20 deals by the hundred hits, you would have closed 40.

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[expand title=”First Timer Sales Traps”]

By: ATCEN

Most sales and business development executives today will use cold calls as one of the standard modes of approaching new clients. However, there are some obstacles I’d refer to it as traps, which the executive will fall into. Almost all first timers at sales will fall into either one of these traps, if not all of them. In most instances, it is a matter of phases before an executive will eventually fall into all of them. Here, we take a look at the context at which the executive singles out one full day a week to make cold calls. Here are four of the most common traps [in no particular order]; 1) getting started, 2) the first call of the day, 3) Standardization, & 4) over-preparing.

The first call of the day is usually going to be the hardest call of the day. Imagine a new recruit, coming just in time to work, taking 15 minutes to settle down, arrange his things and getting his cup of water/tea/coffee/Nescafe, and finally, he is ready to make his 1st call [when in fact, by then, he should already be at his 5th -8th call]. Then there’s the pause. The clearing of throat, the verbal preparation, the anxiety of making that first call. All in all, he would have wasted anywhere between 20-40 minutes of precious prime time [there’s only 8 hours of it in a single day, and minus one hour for lunch!]. That’s almost 10% inefficiency/redundancy/waste, and you’re never getting that back!

Fortunately, for everyone, there is a solution. It’s called Professional Discipline. By gauging the amount of time needed for oneself to get settled in, warmed up, and ready to make that call [it usually takes between 15-30 minutes of preps], and then coming in to the office with that space of time to get prepped, you can immediately get on the phone at the start of prime time, and get the intended person right at the start of the day.

Now, we move on to the first call of the day, at which you will never quite be fully prepared for. Notice that I said never. It’s true. No matter how long you’ve been in the business, how many sales orders you’ve closed, how much time you’ve spent on the phone, you will still never be fully prepared for the first call of the day. How can I say that? Because you will find yourself sorting things out in your head as to how the pitch should go for this first call, what you know and remember of this client, what your expectations are and what is your strategy/approach, all within a time frame where you are still a bit groggy and still haven’t reach optimum performance levels. Most executives find themselves delaying, procrastinating that very first call of the morning to try to be as prepared as humanly possible, but the only thing they succeed in doing is wasting valuable prime time.

Time would be better spent just getting over that first call. In the words of Nike, Just Do It. Of course, I am not asking you to jump on the phone and randomly call any number that appears on your screen or notepad [which would put you in a totally unprepared poise and most likely lead to you being severely humiliated and losing any chance of doing business with that same client]. What I do suggest is to call a lead of which you have done enough research to know who they are, what they do, and what you can provide for them that would benefit them. Also, to minimize the cost of making blunders of the conversation, choose to call a client of which the prospects of doing business with them are the lowest, where if you lose this account, you wouldn’t be banging your head on the wall. Although in reality this seems like a practice call, treat it like a big deal, by being genuinely interested in providing the client with options from your company that can increase, develop, or enhance their business.

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[expand title=”6 Secrets to an Effective Consultative Sales Approach”]

By: ATCEN

Zig Ziglar once said, “In order to achieve what you want in life, you must first help others in achieving what they want”. This quote has since been the mantra of every successful and would be salesperson. Gone are the days of a “didactic” selling approach, where the salesperson would feed information or instructions on a certain product or service he/she is selling, without first understanding the needs of the customer. In today’s business environment, customers want more than just assurances on how well your product or services is. Instead customers would want assurance on will you as a salesperson be able to understand and cater to my specific requirements, and whether can you as a salesperson provide him/her with something others can’t? This is where a consultative approach is needed in gaining the customer’s confidence and ultimately closing the sales. Listed below are the six ways to an effective consultative sales approach;

Keep Your Introduction Short and Listen Actively
This is crucial in the first few minutes of the sales interaction as you want the set the proper expectations and first impressions. Do not ramble on about your product or service. After all, at this point, what could you possibly talk about? You have no idea if what you’re offering is of any use to your prospect.

Sell Through Questions and Show Excitement in Serving Your Client
Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Forget about trying to “sell” your product or service and focus instead on why your prospect wants to buy. To do this, you need to get fascinated with your prospect; you need to ask questions (lots and lots of them) with no hidden agenda or ulterior motives.

Speak To Your Prospects As You Would Do Normally
There’s never any time that you should switch into “sales mode” jargons, clichés and tag lines. Affected speech patterns, exaggerated tones, and slow, hypnotic sounding “sales inductions” are never acceptable in today’s professional selling environments. Speak normally, (and of course, appropriately) just as you would when you’re around your friends and loved ones. Customers are creatures of feelings too.

Pay Attention to What Your Prospects Isn’t Telling You
Pay attention on whether your prospect seems rushed, agitated or upset?

Most salespeople are so concerned with what they’re going to say next that they forget there’s another human being involved in the conversation.

Only After Correctly Assessing Your Prospects Needs, Do You Offer Your Products
By now, you should have a good understanding on your prospects needs in relation to your products and services. Knowing this and having built trust and rapport you know should gain a commitment of closure from the prospect.

Gain a Commitment of Action From Your Client
This principle obliterates the need for any “closing techniques” because the ball is placed on the prospect’s court. You don’t want the prospect to be reminded that he or she is dealing with a “salesperson.” You’re not a salesperson; you’re a human being offering a particular product or service. And if you can get your prospect to understand that, you’re well on your way to becoming an outstanding salesperson.

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[expand title=”Developing Commitment in Sales “]

By: ATCEN

Commitment is a simple word to understand but it carries a whole lot of weight when it comes to decision making. To be able to commit oneself to something is more than just saying that simple word. It is a life long journey of challenges and responsibilities. Whatever attempts we plan to accomplish in life will involve commitment, same goes to being a successful sales person.

Before making a commitment, a sales person needs to think hard and look into themselves about their passion and life’s goal. According to The Sales Board Inc in their research, one reason for failure in sales is due to the fact that nearly 80% of sales people are not aware of their main goal. Identifying the goals precisely will determine what and where they want to reach in life. It must come together with a burning desire to commit in term of our willingness to invest time, effort and any other resources to make things happen.

Because building our forte in the sales industry is never easy, especially in today’s economy, where selling is not only perceived as an occupation but professionalism is highly expected from the sales person. In order to gain the understanding of trends in today’s market place, a sales person needs to be aware that meeting KPI’s simply will not assist them in developing effective skills and knowledge within them.

Accordingly, in order for us to develop commitment, we need to see ourself as a talent and take action by firstly developing our own portfolio. This portfolio will include all the needed material customized to sell more effectively. As a result of preparation, during execution, it will demonstrate competency and confidence. The sales professional portfolio includes:

Positioning Statement

This is important because by having a strong and clear statement, it will make it easier for your client and prospects to refer and remember you by. For example; having a niche speciality such as “Specialist in Customer Focused Selling Skills”

A Trust-Building Strategy

Build competitive advantage over your competition. The one thing you sell is always the same. Despite of industry or businesses, the one and vital thing you sell is trust. By developing a quick and meaningful bond of trust between your client and you, it will benefit us because with trust, clients exude loyalty.

Feedback and Questions Section

Take each phone calls and clients questions and comment as a knowledge. A sales person will acquire the same basic questions asked on a regular basis. Consistent probing in understanding clients needs is a stretch of opportunities to prepare the person in developing a more effective and powerful responses.

Evidently, you provide more value as you polish up your best responses to your frequently asked questions, and the results will show from the more positive decisions make by clients or prospects about you. And they will do it more quickly.

Success Stories

During cold callings or sales presentation, it is not advisable to focus on selling solely. All business is show business implied that entertainment way of presenting yourself and your business to people as “sharing success stories” effects clients feeling.

Often clients and prospects want proof that there are other companies that have benefited from your work. Story telling is important because we are buying emotions that will help the clients feel better in doing business with us.

Questions

To enhance your chances in getting sales, it is essential to ensure the quality of questions asked. We need to plan and speak out our best and powerful questions as it help in convincing clients to buy into our ideas.

On top of all the plan and direction lay out and expected out of us, it comes down to ourself which is to always believe that we are able to reach the ultimate objectives.

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[expand title=”Business Development”]

By: Samantha Siew 

Many people are confused with the terms business development and sales. Business development is the effort to identify business opportunity by researching, analyzing and introducing a new product or a new service to the market. It focuses on th implementation of the strategic business plan of financial, technologies, products and services, companies, and the establishment of strategic partnerships to improve organizational profit. The cash position of an organization is important and is measured primarily with net profits. Therefore, a successful business development within an organization is seen when the business grows and generates more cash then expenditures. On the other hand, the sales function is only part of the business development activity where, a sales person is required to sell the product or service. It is just a selling activity.

The 80/20 Rules in Business Development.

80/20 principal (Pareto principle) is essential to balance up between the output (expenses) and the input (revenue), cause and consequences, and effort and results in a business. This principle helps to create the stakeholder value and generate most money with the least expenditure of assets and efforts (time). 80/20 rule is important to guide where the business is making profits and where the business is losing money. In business development, innovation is important. There are four ideas in which we are able to help in business development.

1. 80percent of the result is from 20percent of the business planning.

2. 80percent of the value is from 20percent of the resources.

3. 80percent of the growth and profits comes from 20percent of the customers.

4. 80percent of the product or service is from 20percent of the cost.

80/20 Rule in Sales Performance

Business Executives always complain about 80/20 performance, where 80percent of the sales are produced by 20percent of sales people. There are some sales skills that can be learnt by asking “Who” “When” What” “Why” “Where” and “How.” When we use all the 5Ws and 1H questions instead of Yes and No questions, prospects will share more information with the sales person. This increases the chances of getting the lead or sales by finding out the customers need.

Example:

Who is the target group

When is the targeted period that the customer is planning to get the product or service

What is the reason the customer is having the product or service

Why is the product or service important to the customer

Where is the good location to deliver the product or service

How much is the customer’s budget

In a sales environment, many of the sales people are struggling to meet their quotas.

There are a few areas that we need to focus on.

Is it the state of the economy?

Is it because they do not work hard enough?

Is it because they do not have enough product knowledge?

Do they need to work harder on their selling skills?

Do they need more coaching from their manager? A sales person is required to develop a good prospecting plan by using the 5Ws and 1Hs for their customers in order to generate lead opportunities and the ability to answers the questions above themselves.

[/expand]

[expand title=”Are You Business Development or Sales Person?”]

By: ATCEN

Many people are confused with the terms business development and sales. Business development is the effort to identify business opportunity by researching, analyzing and introducing a new product or a new service to the market. It focuses on the implementation of the strategic business plan of financial, technologies, products and services, companies, and the establishment of strategic partnerships to improve organizational profit. Therefore, a successful business development within an organization is seen when the business grows and generates more cash then expenditures. On the other hand, the sales function is only part of the business development activity where, a sales person is required to sell the product or service. It is just a selling activity.

The 80/20 Rules in Business Development.

80/20 principal (Pareto principle – Vilfredo Pareto, July 151848 – August 191923 ) is essential to balance up between the output (expenses) and the input (revenue), cause and consequences, and effort and results in a business. This principle helps to create the stakeholder value and generate most money with the least expenditure of assets and efforts (time). 80/20 rule is important to guide where the business is making profits and where the business is losing money. In business development, innovation is important. There are four ideas in which we are able to help in business development.

1. 80 percent of the result is from 20 percent of the business planning.

2. 80 percent of the value is from 20 percent of the resources.

3. 80 percent of the growth and profits comes from 20 percent of the customers.

4. 80 percent of the product or service is from 20 percent of the cost.

So, analyze your activities and reassess the application of sour resources. Do you engage in Business Development or are you a Sales Person?

[/expand]

[expand title=”80% of Sales Revenue Comes from 20% of Sales People”]

By: ATCEN

Business Executives always complain about 80/20 performance, where 80 percent of the sales are produced by 20 percent of sales people. In order for a sales person to move into the top 20%, there are some sales skills that can be learnt by asking “Who” “When” What” “Why” “Where” and “How.” When we use all the 5W’s and 1H questions instead of Yes and No questions, prospects will share more information with the sales person. This increases the chances of getting the lead or sales by finding out the customers need.

Example:
Who is the target group?
When is the targeted period that the customer is planning to get the product or service?
What is the reason the customer is having the product or service?
Why is the product or service important to the customer?
Where is the good location to deliver the product or service?
How much is the customer’s budget?

In a sales environment, many of the sales people are struggling to meet their quotas. There are a few areas that we need to focus on.

Is it the state of the economy?

Is it because they do not work hard enough?

Is it because they do not have enough product knowledge?

Do they need to work harder on their selling skills?

Do they need more coaching from their manager? A sales person is required to develop a good prospecting plan by using the 5Ws and 1Hs for their customers in order to generate lead opportunities and the ability to answers the questions above themselves.

[/expand]

[expand title=”Successful Selling Today “]

By: ATCEN

How are your sales people selling today?

Customers today are bombarded with advertisements that offer all kinds of products and services, and usually all at reasonable prices. In return, the typical salesperson today is merely telling their customers about their product or service, what its features are and ultimately asking them to buy it. This is the method used by many sales people today – which is causing them to fail. The sophisticated customer today wants and expects more.

Understand Me : Customers are looking for people who are not just there to sell them something, but who are there to understand their needs and they want customize solutions to achieve their objectives.

Value-add to Me : Customers want more than just a solution; they want value-adds to their organization, product, process and to themselves in the form of what is next after the solution.

Provide an Experiential Buying Experience for Me : Customers want an emotional connection throughout the whole process of buying with the salesperson. They want to feel special and that they are making the right decision. Furthermore, the more they can connect with the sales person the easier the decision will be.

However these 3 simple fundamental rules of selling are repeatedly being broken over and over again by many salespersons. Yet these salespeople wonder why they fail to get the sale. They don’t understand, they don’t add value and there is no experiential buying experience. Isn’t it time that we changed that.

Fortunately, selling like any other profession when approached systematically can deliver fantastic results. What a salesperson needs to do is continuously practice KSBH. That is continuously Learn new and better selling KNOWLEDGE. Next, apply the knowledge so that it becomes a SKILL. Practice the skill continuously so that it becomes a BEHAVIOR that is practiced consistently so that ultimately it becomes a HABIT that is used continuously. So start KSBH today for better sales revenue.

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