The skills we teach deliver real ROI.

Archive of ‘CRM’ category

Acquiring New Business

The Differences Between a Lead and a Referral

I often hear the terms lead and referral used in the same context when, in fact, they are two very different things. Both are used to acquire new business. Yet one far outweighs the other in its effectiveness in getting closer to a sale. Entire marketing campaigns are built around finding new business using leads. Likewise, sales processes build in methods for finding new business using referrals. One method, leads, works off volume while the other, referrals, works off quality.

So what’s the difference between a lead and a referral and how should a company and, more importantly, a sales person take advantage of each? Additionally, why is it important to distinguish between the two? To begin with, a lead and a referral should be treated with different priorities since a referral is at least one step closer to the prospect than a lead. In other words, leads are strangers, referrals could be prospective customers. If a sales rep receives a lead, he shouldn’t treat it like a referral. And more importantly, if he receives a referral, he shouldn’t treat it like a lead because referrals have a higher priority than leads. Knowing the difference between the two is vital to knowing how each should be handled by a salesperson. (more…)

Value-Added Selling Part 5

Selling Benefits, Not Features

Last post I discussed engaging with your customer in part four of this five part series on value-added selling. In this final part of the series, I’ll discuss the importance of selling benefits instead of features, and how to present your solution — the right solution — to your customer.

The value you add to the sales situation is demonstrated in various ways, many of which we already discussed in previous portions of this series. However, it all comes together in the way in which you present the solution to your client. Let’s discuss exactly how this is done.

First, we must cover a simple lesson on features versus benefits since it is critical that you understand the difference, and many people get them confused. A feature is something you want while a benefit is something you need. For instance, when you go to a hardware store to buy a ¼ inch drill bit, is that what you need or what you want? You don’t need a ¼ inch drill bit. You NEED a ¼ inch hole, but you WANT a ¼ inch drill bit in order to make the hole. The salesman in the hardware store, in knowing what it is you actually need, can help address what it is you’ll ultimately want to buy. (more…)

Value-Added Selling Part 4

Engaging with Your Customer

In my last post I discussed relationship selling as the third part of this five part series on value-added selling. In this post, I’ll discuss how to engage yourself in your customer’s business.

As I had previously mentioned, value-added selling means becoming more than a sales rep trying to sell something. It means being truly concerned about your customer’s needs and becoming more of a partner than a vendor. For instance, there are many things you can do to become more engaged with your customer’s business than just working with the one contact (person) you have.

First of all, you should always try to call at the highest level of management as possible. If you sell too low in the organization, you probably won’t be talking to the decision maker. Sometimes this is unavoidable since the manager might have delegated the research and recommendation phases to one of his direct reports. If this is the case, then you’ll have a more difficult time reaching higher levels until you’ve convinced this lower-level individual to recommend your company and product. But that doesn’t mean you don’t try. (more…)

Value-Added Selling Part 3

Relationship Selling

In my previous post I discussed selling your company in part two of this five part series on value-added selling. In this post I’ll discuss the importance of building a relationship with your customer by becoming a trusted partner that can help solve their problems.

Today customers are more sophisticated and knowledgeable. They are more skeptical and resistant to spend their hard-earned money. So they do research on what’s available, who the competitors are, the market, pricing options, and anything that will help them make a more informed decision. And sometimes they may know more about your company, your products, your competitors and your market than you do. How? Simple. A little thing called the internet has put a wealth of knowledge into the hands of consumers and businesses. So you have to make sure you know what they know, and even more. (more…)

Value-Added Selling Part 2

Selling Your Company

In my last post I introduced part one of this five part series on value-added selling where I discussed adding value by first establishing your credibility. In this post, I’ll discuss the next step, which is when and how to “sell your company” to your prospect.

The Elevator Pitch

The first thing you need to do is develop a “sell the company” statement, which helps position your company. This statement is typically referred to as an “elevator pitch” because it should be short enough to tell someone exactly what you do in the time it takes them to get on and off an elevator. Here’s the drill – You’re in an elevator and someone enters with you. They say, “Hi. What do you do?” You have about 4 floors to get them to understand what you do before they walk out. Can you do it? Possibly not. (more…)

Value-Added Selling Part 1

Add Value by Establishing Credibility

I would like to focus this post on value-added selling. But this topic is big. In fact it’s so big that I am going to cover it over five posts. In this first installment, I will define value-added selling and talk about how establishing credibility is an important first step in selling value to your customers.

What is Value-Added Selling?

Value-added selling simply means there has to be some inherent worth to the client from what he is purchasing from you. Obviously, to present and sell the right solution (and the right solution means one that has value to your client) you first must understand what your customer needs, how they operate, what problems they may experience, and more. Therefore, you should learn about your customers’ businesses, what products they offer, who they sell to, what their market is like, who their competitors are, the lingo or catch phrases they use in their industry, their unique business challenges, and any information that will help you better understand them and their business problems. (more…)

Dealing with Difficult Customers

Top 6 Tips for Handling Unreasonable Requests

Customers – Some times ya love ‘em. Sometimes ya want to kill em’. We’ve all dealt with difficult customers before. I’m not just talking about the complainer or the “problem child.” I’m talking about the one who keeps making unreasonable requests of you and your company, or has unrealistic expectations about what you should be doing for them. And no matter what you do for them, they don’t seem to be happy about it. How do you deal with these difficult customers? Here are six tips for handling these difficult customers and their unreasonable requests. They may not work all the time, but I know they will help you most of the time, and at least help you keep your sanity while not harming your business.


The Changing Face of Sales

How Sales Has Changed Over the Past Few Years and How to Adapt

Over the past few years the sales environment has changed in a number of ways. The reasons are vast but typically relate to the changes in our society, economy, business models, technology and more. When it comes right down to the actual selling environment, there are a few distinct attributes that stand out today that didn’t seem to be as noticeable, or even a factor, just a few years ago.

The key for all sales organizations and individual sales professionals alike is to understand and adapt to these changes. Few organizations today still live through the experience of the ‘90s where prospects would actually call them and buy something without having to work hard at finding and acquiring these leads. Back then, even poor sales performance was rewarded with revenue and quota achievement, in spite of a lack of skills and hard work.

Now that things have changed and the phone doesn’t seem to ring off the hook for many businesses, sales people have to work harder to find and sell to these illusive prospects. In order to be successful in sales today you, as a sales professional, need to understand what changes have occurred and work harder and smarter to make sure your prospects believe that your offerings will solve their problems, and that what they are purchasing is better than your competitors’ offerings. Let’s discuss a few major changes that have occurred to get a better understanding of what you might need to adjust in order to adapt and become even more successful in sales today. (more…)

Prospecting: All pain, no gain?

Prospecting – Everyone has to do it, but few people like it. Without new sales, businesses fail, it happens every day, in every industry. Why are some sales reps more successful at doing this than others? Based on my experience working with sales teams, I have found that those who take a disciplined approach, follow time management skills and have the proper tools will succeed.

My starting point with sales people I work with is to first look at your current pipeline. This will help you to determine the percentage of your time you should spend on prospecting. If you want to be successful and make your numbers each month, then you need to set a minimum amount of time each week prospecting for new business. This amount may go up or down each month depending on your pipeline and forecast. If you have a strong pipeline you may want to spend more time moving your deals through the sales process and closing business, and less time prospecting. But if you’re new to a sales position, or your pipeline is weaker than you need it to be, then you may need to increase your prospecting time to fill your pipeline with more qualified leads. (more…)

Close the Sale, Not the Door!

Master the Science of Good Closing

The Close doesn’t have to be a big event that’s intimidating or uncomfortable for the prospect and the sales person. It shouldn’t be treated as a major occasion that you approach after overcoming painful hurdles and then confront the prospect in an adversarial way. The Close is actually the opening of a new relationship and should be approached in a natural and positive style. If handled properly it is a pretty easy and simple step in your sales process.

Let’s start with some of the basics, like phrasing the close. You should try to use words that promote a more positive feeling, instead of those that are considered negative words. For instance, try changing the phrase, “If this purchase occurs…” to “When this purchase occurs…” This makes a positive assumption that is based on what previously led to this point, which is the dialogue you’ve been sharing with the prospect and the solutions you presented that matched their requirements. You can even take this statement one step further by saying, “When you make this investment” instead of using the word “purchase”. Investment is a benefits-oriented word, where purchase, sale and cost are words that can be viewed as being negative to a prospect. (more…)