- Knowledge Center
Our topic for this month is “Coming Out of the Confusion.”
This lockdown and quarantine have certainly been a confusion, and I think I speak for everyone when I say we’ll all need help coming out of it, and finding our way into a somewhat normal business landscape once again.
With this month’s blogs and newsletter, we’re certainly giving you some great approaches. With this particular blog, let’s look at a factor that could mean a great deal when reaching back out to your prospects and customers: why should your customer trust you?
Your Value Proposition
That question will, of course, have a multifaceted answer. The first thing you should do, if you’ve never done so, is to look over what makes your company the best. What sets you apart from your competitors? What gives your product or service the edge over others like them? What is your value proposition?
In answering these questions, also take a look at any services or products that are totally unique to your company. Are there things that only your company offers, or does? Or, was your company the very first to do something?
For example, let’s say your company develops a CRM (customer relationship management software, which salespeople use to track sales). Your customers coming out of the lockdown will have to be able to track sales and their potential with extreme accuracy. If your CRM will help them do that and does it better than others, they’re going to trust you more than they would one of your competitors.
The Trust Factor
Another aspect in answering “why should your customer trust you?” is, of course, the trust factor itself. Have you made it possible for your prospect or customer to trust you?
Trust must be established early in the sales process. As we’ve discussed in many other places, historically in companies 20 percent of the salespeople make 80 percent of the sales—something called the 80/20 rule. A prime reason for the remaining 80 percent of the salespeople not doing so well is that they fail to establish enough trust with the prospect for the prospect to tell them what they’re really thinking. If the prospect doesn’t tell you what they’re really thinking, you’ll never be able to bring them the rest of the way through the sales process.
Because of previous bad sales experiences and lack of trust, people tend to resist salespeople. As part of this resistance, they’re not telling you everything they’re thinking until you start to develop trust. They then start to develop hope that they can trust you. At that point it’s fragile, so you need to continue developing that trust, causing the prospect to develop more and more hope, up to the point they realize it’s real and they can truly trust you.
In Coming Out of This
The more value you can bring to your company, products and services, the more you’ll shine as we come out of this confusion and into this new environment. Such value provides further incentive for prospects and customers to buy from you. And beneath it all, you must consistently develop trust with your prospects and customers.
To learn more, sign up at SELLability.com
Our topic this month is “Coming Out of the Confusion.”
This quarantine and lockdown certainly have been a confusion, especially for businesses and their clients.
A major reason it has been such a confusion is the proliferation of conflicting information. Information asserted as factual turns out to be false, while vital facts go virtually ignored by major media in the interest of pushing bad news for ratings. Mix in opposing political views, and you have a real mess. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who or what do you believe?
There is only one answer to that question: you. You must be able to evaluate information, think for yourself, and come to your own conclusions.
The media (on both sides of the political fence) greatly enjoys pretending that people watching, or listening do not have to evaluate information—the media will do it for them. People who accept information from “authorities” in the media then end up greatly confused because another “authority” comes out with something different. People do not know what to think.
The bottom line: you must be able to operate on facts. As a drastic example, someone could come up to you on a bright sunny afternoon with the firmly stated opinion that it is midnight and totally dark. You would laugh at them because you know for a fact that it is daytime. Their assertion that it is midnight would not confuse you at all. But when we have various authorities telling us about a dangerous virus, that we must quarantine everyone, and people receiving this information have little to no real facts about the virus’s actual danger—that creates confusion.
Coming out of this confusion, let’s take the safe approach, at least when it comes to business and dealing with customers: stick to the facts.
What does this mean? It means to look for, and accept, only things you can authenticate. This would be information not simply based on authoritarian “you must believe,” but information you can verify as factual.
As a businessperson, look for facts in the marketplace and the overall economy that will help guide you as you evolve sales, marketing, and business strategy. This includes facts and demographic information about your potential buyers.
On the selling side, make sure that what you are offering your customers are facts, too—facts that support your product or service. As you bring customers through the various stages of your sales process, make sure each stage is supported by facts. Facts such as why they really need your product or service, and facts that back up reasoning on your company being the best provider of that product or service. That way, when you reach the Agreement stage of the sales process—that stage where your prospect agrees to buy—it is based firmly on facts and will stably remain through the close. Being supported in this way also means that their decision to buy will not be blown away by competition.
Learn more! Sign up at SELLability.com.
Appropriately, our topic this month is “Coming Out of the Confusion.” With this 2 – 3-month (depending on where you are located) quarantine and lockdown, we can certainly say it has been a confusion.
When the lockdown happened, each of your deals was in one stage of your sales process or another. The first thing you should do is analyze each of these deals and verify at which stage each of them was. Once you have done that, you have done your past analysis.
Now, you need to reach out and talk to each of your customers and have real conversations to discover at which stage of the sales process each deal sits now. You should then create a new plan for each deal, which may require taking the deal back one or more sales process steps due to changes in circumstances.
Once that is accomplished, you have now created an accurate picture of each deal. This will allow you to create a precise path forward.
For example, let’s say that before the lockdown, a particular deal had made it through the Qualifying stage, and was ready for the Education stage. The Education stage has, as a result: The customer knows that your product or service will exceed their expectations, and the customer is inspired to take action to obtain the product or service.
In communicating with your prospect, though, you discover that the lockdown took the prospect back a way. The customer had almost become convinced that your product or service would exceed their expectations but had not yet become inspired to take action. In talking to them, you realize that they are now back at the beginning of the Qualifying stage. The Qualifying stage has several separate results:
a) You know all the reasons why the prospect should buy, from the prospect’s point of view.
b) Ideally, you also know, as part of that, how to save the customer money, and save them time. How to make them money, what problems you are solving for them, and how you are supporting their goals.
c) You also know how long they’ve had their problems, how long they’ve had those goals and dreams, and how much money and time have they wasted on similar products and services that didn’t get them the result.
d) You have decided if you are willing to have a lifelong relationship with that prospect.
There are two additional steps that are also important, but secondary to a – d above. Only worrying about these logistical steps is a major reason salespeople do not close:
e) What is the prospect’s buying process?
f) Does the prospect have the budget?
In discussion, you find that your prospect has lost the clarity of how long they have had their problems, goals, and dreams. You must bring them back through step c) above. You can then complete the Qualifying stage, then take them through Education and, finally, Closing.
The successful way out of this confusion, for individual sales, is to exactly analyze past, present, and future for each of your sales, and proceed accordingly.
For more information and assistance, sign up at SELLability.com
Our topic this month, for blogs and for our newsletter, is Customer Relationship—the 8th “C” of the SELLability 8 Cs. For many companies, it is the missing element keeping them from being a super-success; lack of it is holding them down to only being a fair success, or worse.
The Customer Relationship comes after the close. It is the successful transferring of the sale from you, as the sales rep, to the delivery team, who will now keep the customer as happy as you kept them throughout the sales process.
When this is not done, the customer will come back to you with any questions or issues they have with the product or service. As a rep, you are not usually equipped to service the client in this way, and additionally, your attention will be constantly pulled from pursuing new deals to handle any customer service shortcomings.
After the close, and as the Customer Relationship phase begins, both you and the customer should be happy. Both of you should have won.
The perfect definition of a sale is an exchange where both parties win.
The Wrong Way
But all too often in today’s sales landscape, this definition does not apply. For example, the sales rep manages to “push” the prospect into buying something that they do not really want. The rep wins a commission, and the prospect loses to the degree that they have purchased something that will not really help them.
There can even be the extreme that we’ve all heard about, and some have unfortunately experienced, in which the prospect is sold something totally useless, like the used car that gives out two blocks from the lot where it was sold.
It does not have to be this drastic to remain unbalanced. For example, once the close has happened, the customer cannot reach anyone that will really help them implement the product or service or solve issues about it. The sales rep and their company got paid, and the customer got the product—but the customer is missing the vital service that will really make them happy.
It is these types of scenarios that create the bad reputation salespeople often suffer from, and the sales resistance that they so often encounter.
It can happen the other way, too. A salesperson can be so desperate for a sale that they will do anything to get the prospect to buy, such as offer a ridiculously low price that contains no profit for the company. Here the customer won, and the salesperson lost. Unfortunately, the salesperson’s company lost, too, and it may mean that the salesperson loses their job.
The Right Way
How does this win-win actually come about? It happens when the salesperson is able to discover, using good communication skills, the prospect’s goals, dreams, interests, and problems they are looking to solve, by way of what it is they are looking to buy. It is easier guiding someone through the sales process when you are totally certain that your product or service is the correct fit for the prospect.
Doing this right means guiding the prospect to the point where they realize—as you realize, too—that your product or service is a perfect match for them. By both of you realizing that you end up with that perfect definition for a sale: an exchange in which both parties win.
There is much more to learn about creating a win-win sale. Sign up at SELLability.com today
If there is any fault with the run-of-the-mill sale, it is that it is viewed too shallowly: the contact, the pitch, the close, and we are done. Once the sale is closed and the customer has paid, the salesperson and company move onto the next prospect.
As detailed in another of this month’s blogs, this is where things can go wrong. If there is an issue or problem with the product or service, the prospect is going to contact the last person they had a relationship with: the salesperson. The salesperson, not having enough time to really deal with it, is going to become weighed down and not be able to fully pursue other prospects.
In short, that is what happens with the “quick sale.” That quick sale, though, instead of saving the salesperson and the company time, can cost more time through mishandling of customer issues, and lose the salesperson and the company considerable revenue because of unhappy or only mildly satisfied customers.
The missing step is the customer relationship, which is technically established following the close. It is where the crucial delivery of the sold product or service takes place. It’s also where the buying cycle begins all over again—after all, the better the fit of the product or service to the customer, the more your new client will make the decision to retain your services and become a lifelong customer.
Let’s say that again: “lifelong customer.”
How much more revenue will you and your company obtain from a lifelong customer, as opposed to that “quick sale”? If you want to build an ever-affluent company, you must establish relationships with all your clients that extend beyond the close.
From the Beginning
While the customer relationship step occurs following the close, the approach begins at the beginning of the sales process. Right up front, you want to approach your prospect as if you are going to have a lifelong relationship with them. In fact, one of the top 10 reasons salespeople can’t close deals is, “they didn’t care enough about the customer and view them as a customer for life; someone who is going to use their product or service and refer customers to them for life.”
Yes, when you first meet that prospect, your approach should be that they will be a client for life. You do not have a lifelong relationship with a mere acquaintance—which is as far as you get with the “quick sale”—you have a lifelong relationship with a friend. Throughout the sales process, you are developing that friendship. By the time you get to ask about the prospect’s future vision, goals, and dreams, you have a nice solid relationship that is now being strengthened.
Just as with any other long-term relationship, it is one you must care for. The key points are being interested and fully understanding what the prospect says. If you do not understand something, ask more questions. Care enough to truly understand your prospect’s (friend’s) viewpoint.
When you do this right, that relationship is unbreakable. That means your competition cannot break it, nor can anything else.
Get the details of establishing a lifeline customer relationship. Sign up at SELLability.com.
CPR for Customer Relationship
When looking at how to revive some “mostly dead” sales, it is very important to take up the customer relationship. Especially now, customers have many choices. Recent studies estimate that customers are receiving 1000s of marketing messages each day. So, the relationship you create with the customer is VITAL.
Here are 8 vital actions that must be part of your Customer Relationship program.
1. Lifelong! The best way to start is to take the approach that you are going to create a LIFELONG relationship with your customers.
2. Realize that this starts before you ever meet your customer. Your Public Relations image for your company must show amazing relationships with your customers. Real stories How that relationship changed and improved those customers and their business.
3. Provide valuable information for prospective customers before you ever talk to them. What free information and/or services can you provide prospective customers searching for help and information on the internet?
4. The result of your social media presence should be “Prospects trust my company and we are a valuable source of information for them.”
5. Now with the trusted relationship foundation in place. Offer those prospective customers further value if they choose to make contact. This can be a free analysis or test or evaluation of their existing situation with an expert. Or having them take part in a study. This is a custom creation by you based on your products and services.
6. When that prospective customer reaches out to you, make their experience amazing! Inspire them! Your approach needs to match or exceed all they have already experienced and heard about your company.
Remember that in the 1000s of messages they have received and the 10s of 1000s this month, they chose to reach out to YOU! Cherish this! Thank them for calling and introduce yourself! Let them know they are appreciated! Then transition to the next step. Note this is from reception to Sales, ALL must approach this customer with the view that they will be a LIFELONG customer!
7. Roll out the red carpet when the customer arrives. Make them feel welcome and appreciated. Offer them a comfortable seat, water coffee, snacks. Absolutely nothing is a problem. They are your guest! All of this is strengthening the foundation of trust built from step 1.
8. Maintain and further develop this trust and relationship throughout your sales process. Imagine how you feel as a salesperson receiving the customer at this point? Confident with a great start to the sales process! Closing rates will improve!
Now we invite you to take up these points with your sales that are “dead”. You may find they are only Mostly Dead not all dead! Revive them with this month’s Sales CPR!
Our topic this month, for the newsletter and blog, is Customer Relationship—the 8th “C” of the SELLability 8 Cs. And in case you did not know, there is a very important relationship between the customer relationship and referrals.
Just a Name…or a Referral?
It can happen that, when you have closed a sale, you then ask, “Who do you know that should be using our product or service?” Your new customer then provides one or more names and contact information.
What do you now have? Well, you have just got a name. Sure, when you call them, you can “drop” the name of your customer. But it’s only a little better than a cold call—they still don’t know you and don’t even know if you really made a sale to the person who referred you unless they hear it from them. And on top of that, they do not know if your customer is a happy customer.
A true referral, if it is really going to carry some weight, must include an introduction. Your new customer needs to send an email or call up the person they are referring you to and introduce you. They can mention they have just purchased your product or service and are very happy with it. Then you will be able to contact the referral and get somewhere.
Now, taking a step back, what is going to cause that new customer to refer you so enthusiastically?
It is the customer relationship. The lifetime revenue that can be realized from a happy customer is phenomenal, not only in relation to return-on-investment but also referrals.
The customer relationship rests heavily on the transition from you to your delivery team, with all details, which must be done after the close. This is done so that the delivery exceeds the expectations you have communicated all throughout the sales process. That is the only way you are going to get great referrals from that customer.
Power of Referrals
Forging and maintaining a strong customer relationship with each and every customer makes for a successful sales team and successful company. Too few happy clients lead to too few referral opportunities—and the reverse is also true. The great salesperson makes a great living from referrals, and referrals come from great delivery. Great delivery is the foundation of the customer relationship.
The successful salesperson never misses an opportunity to win referrals at the right time. Their current and past clients are loyal to a fault, and always help to drive new business.
If you have not done so, you should develop a regular referrals program in your company that continuously takes the necessary care to get referrals and acknowledges the clients who provide them. This “machine” can be a continuous generation system so that there is never a shortage of referrals.
Once you get a referral, you must ensure to maintain a high level of service you have with all your customers. A referral is usually a colleague or friend of your client, and you are now entrusted by your client to handle their friend or colleague in a manner that validates the fact that they recommended you and your company.
Do your homework. Find out all you can about the referral and their company, including asking your client why they feel this referral would be a good fit. You should have a very good understanding of the referral before you make contact.
Contact the referral immediately. We’ve been told countless times by companies we were consulting that they “didn’t have enough prospects.” The first thing we do is look for referrals that were never called. Not contacting them will shut down the number of referrals you are getting. So, once you have done your homework, contact that referral.
Use good manners. Remember that you are not only representing yourself and your company but your client and their company as well.
Establish trust and communication. Before moving to the sales appointment, establish solid communication and trust. Do this before getting into a discussion about your products or services.
Keep your client informed. Let your client know how it is going with the referral they gave you. It’s important to the client that the referral is well taken care of.
Acknowledge your client. At the very least, saying “thank you” for the client’s help with a referral is especially important and goes a long way toward obtaining additional referrals in the future.
Start the cycle again. Once you have taken care of the referral well and established them as a new client, ask for referrals from them. The process then begins all over again.
There is much more to learn about customer relationships and referrals! Sign up today at SELLability.com.
There are too many companies that do not realize the importance of the customer relationship when it comes to the primary measure of the company’s success: revenue.
Chasing the “New”
It’s only natural that, when a company is getting up and running, they’re going to be primarily focused on new business. There’s nothing else, yet—they haven’t been around long enough to have built up a customer base. And of course, new business will always be important.
It’s a sad thing, though, to see a company that’s been around for several years that still concentrates solely on new business, without putting at least an equal amount of attention on their customer base. They are sitting right on top of but neglecting, a million-dollar endless source of income.
Theoretically, a customer already sold on your product or service is going to be a far easier sale for more of that company’s products or services. When you take marketing costs into account, a company’s cost-of-sale for an existing customer is considerably lower than for a new one.
Beyond the Close
We say “theoretically” above because this only works if the customer relationship has been properly attended to, with each and every sale. In other words, the sale does not end at the close. It is not enough to “just make the sale” and move on. The final stage of customer relationship involves the crucial delivery stage of your product or service. It is also where the buying cycle begins all over again.
We believe that selling is an exchange where both parties win. The better the “exchange,” the more your new client will make the decision to retain your services and become a lifelong customer. To state it simply, the better your client is serviced, the more that client will be a continuing source of revenue.
Through properly servicing them and maintaining the customer relationship, your customer base is a never-ending source of revenue.
The 3 Flows
There are 3 flows of potential prospects that should be coming into your company, and carefully monitored:
1. Marketing leads and reaches, new prospects that are flowing directly from marketing.
2. Referrals from happy customers (which we will be taking up in a separate blog).
3. Happy customers continuing to buy more products and services.
If you have all 3 of these working, you are not going to have a scarcity of prospects to sell to. If you are missing one of those 3, then you run the risk of scarcity, which places more pressure on your sales process. If there is too much pressure on the sales process, you are going to make mistakes.
There cannot be enough said about the customer relationship. As stated earlier, too many salespeople move beyond that customer once they get that close. But if you want to build a lifelong, ever-after affluent company, you must establish great relationships with all your clients.
There is much more to learn about the Customer Relationship. Sign up today at SELLability.com.
by Lisa Terrenzi
Let’s take a look at what critical action, when missed, causes sales teams and salespeople to miss quotas and lose income for their companies.
Interestingly, that action starts with the close, which is where too many salespeople think the sale ends. In a shallow look, it makes sense. We won! The customer bought the product or service! We got paid! I got my commission! Woo-Hoo! Let’s go party!
Okay, let’s hold on here, and take a step back.
At the point the sale closes, your new customer has not had a chance to use their brand new product or service, or it might not have even been delivered. Once that delivery occurs, they might have questions. Or worse, there might be an issue with the product or service—it does not work quite right, or (in the case of a service) they are not able to access it.
In such an instance, who is your new customer going to call? Well, who was the last person at your company they had a great relationship with? That would be you, the salesperson, of course!
Only you are not available. For you, that sale is over. You have celebrated and moved on to your next deal. The last thing you want is calls from your new customer having problems with the product or service. So, you refer them to customer service or support.
But the customer service or support person is not someone they have dealt with before. Customer service does not have a relationship with your customer.
Such an approach—unfortunately, one taken by far too many companies today—can leave the customer feeling very “left out in the cold.” Think about it: they had this warm, friendly series of conversations happening, which resulted in them purchasing a product or service they really needed. Then they got it, and it does not do what they expected. They call in, and instead of talking to the person they had this great relationship with, they are shunted over to someone they have never spoken to, who they do not know.
At best this can result in a customer who is serviced by your customer support team but is still a bit annoyed that they did not get to talk to someone they knew. At worst, it can result in a terribly upset customer who ends up canceling the sale.
Okay, let us start all over and see how it should actually go.
At the end of the sale comes the close. But at this point, something else must occur which will make it a true win-win for both the salesperson and the customer. And that is, all the necessary paperwork and logistics are completed to successfully transition the prospect over to be an actual customer, and (here is the important part) start the delivery process.
The transition of the customer to your delivery team with all details is critical so that the delivery exceeds the expectations you have communicated during the sales process.
It can happen that delivery does not go well or has problems. But if this final step is truly completed—the transition of the prospect to the delivery team—the new customer will not keep bouncing back to you, the salesperson. That is because the transition if done right, is conducted with both the salesperson and the delivery team representative present. That way there is total agreement on what will occur during delivery between the salesperson, the customer, and the delivery representative. The delivery person in charge of that customer’s account should emphasize that if there is a problem, the prospect should call them.
The end result here is that the delivery person in charge of the customer’s account takes full responsibility for that customer and that customer’s service. In this way, the customer, if they have an issue, will maintain their communication with the person now in charge of their account. If you fail to have someone in your delivery team fully responsible for that customer account, it will always come back to the salesperson, and this will interfere with your future sales.
What else does this smooth transition accomplish? It brings the customer into the next “C”—Customer Relationship. A fantastic customer relationship means that:
• The customer will be happy with your product and service and will not be going anywhere else.
• You will make future sales with that customer.
• That customer will be happy to provide referrals to you.
Transitioning the customer from the close to the customer relationship is almost as important, or maybe even more important, than the close itself.
Note: There is far more to learn about establishing a customer relationship. Become an expert by signing up at SELLability.com.
You might be thinking, “Great! I need to learn all about closing because closing sales is the whole point! If you can’t close, you can’t do anything!”
In response, I’ll repeat a message which we repeat again, and again, and again, and which is in fact the title of our forthcoming book: Closing is not your problem!
We’ve known this for a long time. Years back, Nick and I began researching the issues associated with sales training. Billions of dollars are spent yearly on sales training by companies, but the same rule persists, year after year: 80 percent of sales are made by 20 percent of the sales reps.
Digging further, we discovered that most sales training focuses almost exclusively on closing. Of course, everybody knows closing is important—that’s where the money is made. But there is a great deal more to a sales process than closing.
You can observe this error everywhere. You can just go into a mall and start talking to salespeople. You’ll find that every conversation begins with a push toward the close. Even a “Can I help you?” It is an assumption that you need help, rather than just a simple welcome to the store.
What came out of our research was a simple, observable fact: if all that money and time was being spent on improving sales, but 80 percent of sales were still only being made by 20 percent of salespeople, and the focus of the training was on closing, then closing must not be the problem!
Further, we found that the sales training focus on closing was in part causing the problem!
When it came down to it, the number one reason salespeople had so much trouble down through the years was this: from the very beginning of the conversation, they’re trying to close the sale.
The bottom line, and the primary lesson you’ll learn from SELLability sales training, is that you won’t arrive at the close without fully completing each and every step of the sales process.
All that said, let’s see what there is to know about closing in this month’s newsletter!
Yours in Sales,
Lisa Terrenzi, CEO