Archive for the ‘Sales Management’ Category
By Dr. Wesley Carter
Rodney braced himself for yet another request for a favor of free consulting. His neighbor, Larry, approached him while carefully dodging the pile of freshly raked leaves. Rodney switched his rake to his other hand and gave Larry a firm handshake. Larry wasted little time before he launched into a diatribe about the trials and tribulations of owning a business in today’s economy. Within minutes, Larry asked Rodney do him the favor of reviewing his marketing plan.
Rodney stiffened at the tenth request for free consulting services in as many days. Friends, family, and even a few strangers routinely asked Rodney for consulting services without any intention of paying for the services. Rodney exhaled as he quickly calculated how much revenue he had sacrificed over the years by doing consulting favors.
Without waiting for an answer, Larry reached in his pocket and pulled out a thumb drive with his marketing plan. But, this time, Rodney was ready. He looked at Larry and said, “Larry, it is time to give your business the attention that it requires. Why don’t you call my office with a couple of possible meeting times for us to get together next week? I want to give your business my full attention.”
Larry’s hand froze in midair. He had hoped to avoid paying for Rodney’s services. But, Rodney had had one too many lectures from his accountant. Every month, he gave away enough consulting services to turn a nice profit. Instead, he continued to struggle to make ends meet. Occasionally, he had to pick up teaching jobs at the local university to supplement his income.
Larry made one last feeble attempt to persuade Rodney to look at his marketing plan over a bottle of wine later that evening. Again, Rodney declined, pleading fatigue, and repeated his request for Larry to call the office. Rodney felt a little embarrassment even as he stood his ground.
After an awkward good-bye, Larry headed back to his house, thumb drive in hand. Larry resumed his yard work and prepared himself for more of the same conversations in the coming months. Until he had satisfactorily trained his circle of family and friends, he would be having similar conversations.
Larry had already gotten thousands of dollars of consulting with his requests for Rodney to review his financials and operating model. Rodney used to look out of his office window and see that Larry’s lights were out while he toiled over Larry’s documents. Rodney was tired of taking time from his paying clients to work on nonpaying projects for family and friends.
Rodney recognized that he was to blame for making it so easy for others to take advantage of him. More importantly, Rodney finally realized he had devalued his services by giving them away so freely. He knew that Larry would probably be resistant to call his office and become a paying client. Rodney was determined to get paid for his services.
Entrepreneurs frequently suffer requests for free services from family and friends. Whether from ignorance or more unbecoming intentions entrepreneurs are often asked to provide free services or products. Entrepreneurs must respect their value to resist being taken advantage of by others.
In anticipation of requests for free services, entrepreneurs should establish a budget for the amount of free services they are comfortable with providing each month. In addition to a budget, it is wise to establish criteria to assist with decision making regarding the requests that will likely come. Perhaps a portion of the services may be allocated to nonprofits. Services can be provided to individuals based on need or referral potential. Invoices should be provided for all services and a professional services credit should be reflected at the bottom. This small detail reminds that receiver that there is a cost associated with provided free services. It also establishes the foundation for requesting payment for future services.
Research indicates that 80% of small businesses go out of business within the first two years. It isn’t a stretch to consider that some of those businesses likely forfeited revenue due to the provision of free services to family and friends. It is important to remember that entrepreneurs garner respect for their products and services when they manage their business professionally. Others will respect Rodney’s services, as long as he holds to his commitment to terminate giving business away indiscriminately.
WESLEY CARTER DM, authors an advice column that leverages leadership and management strategies to solve common business problems. Carter holds a Doctor of Management (DM) degree with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership, an MBA, and a B.A. in Management. Carter is a partner at KRS Consulting, LLC in Charlotte, NC. If you have a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions become the property of Wesley Carter. Call (704) 992-1211 or email to book an engagement.
by Dr. Wesley Carter
There are few things more frustrating that trying to get an appointment with a resistant prospect. Even when you have conducted your research and presented yourself professionally, some prospects are still resistant to being pinned down for a meeting. Sometimes a conversation goes awry because the prospect simply does see any value in meeting with you or, conversely, talks so much that you cannot get a word in.
Sales success is dependent upon the ability to build rapport and trust with prospects. But first, you must get the prospect’s attention. Maybe you have successfully met with a prospect and struggled with getting the next meeting. Or perhaps, you have difficulty getting the first appointment with a particularly difficult prospect. Either way, it is time to commit to a set of strategic scripts designed to help you get in front of your prospects.
Always attempt to schedule your next appointment before the close of the first meeting. If you are attempting to schedule a first appointment, it is better to have the conversation face-to-face. Try to avoid asking a yes or no question when requesting an appointment. Instead, say, “Would earlier in the week work better than later in the week for us to get together? Morning or afternoon?”
How a prospect responds controls the next step. Learn to recognize a soft decline. Prospect soft decline responses range from “my secretary manages my calendar” to “I don’t have my calendar with me” or “Let’s touch base in a couple of months when things calm down.” Each response dictates a different appointment strategy.
If the prospect responds by claiming their secretary controls their calendar, you will need to listen carefully for the unspoken message. If the prospect notifies you that their secretary will be contacting you to schedule the next appointment, chances are, they are at least committed to the next appointment. However, if the prospect simply states that their secretary manages their calendar and does not offer a specific commitment to arrange another appointment, they are giving you a soft decline.
This is when you need to step up and tactfully take charge. Say, “I can only imagine how busy you must be. If you will give me your secretary’s name and phone number, I will gladly take responsibility for arranging for us to get together. Will you also ask her to expect my call?”
Now, be quiet and allow the prospect to respond. If they are genuinely interested in meeting with you again, the secretary’s information will be forth coming. However, if the prospect is resistant to providing you the requested information, you have not successfully convinced them of your value proposition. In this case, you need to uncover the reason for the resistance. You may need to go back and tweak your value proposition or competitive advantage.
Sometimes you may ask for a meeting only to hear, “I do not have my calendar with me.” It is unlikely that a prospect really does not have a calendar available because most cell phones include a calendaring function. However, it is courteous to give them the benefit of the doubt. Offer a solution, “If you will give me your email address, I will email you a couple of days and times to connect. Would morning or afternoon work best for you?” In this situation, try to make it as easy as possible for the prospect. If the prospect honestly does not carry an electronic calendar with them and they are open to getting together, they will accommodate your suggestion.
Every salesperson has been put off with the old, “Call me in a couple of months when things calm down at work.” If left untended, it is unlikely that the prospect is actually going to meet with you in two months. Pushing to get a meeting scheduled despite their request to wait two months could backfire. Instead, research the prospect to learn about professional affiliations, social roles, or noteworthy events.
Begin to identify articles, studies, events, or other information that might appeal to the prospect’s interests. Attach a handwritten note to the information and mail new information to the client every two weeks until you get closer to the end of the two month moratorium.
When you get an appointment confirmed, be sure to follow up with a handwritten note to thank the prospect for their time in advance. Include a recap of the appointment specifics such as the time, date, objective, and location. Do not forget to include your contact information. Now, go get’em!
WESLEY CARTER DM, authors an advice column that leverages leadership and management strategies to solve common business problems. Carter holds a Doctor of Management (DM) degree with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership, an MBA, and a B.A. in Management. Carter is a partner at KRS Consulting, LLC in Charlotte, NC. If you have a question, email email@example.com . All submissions become the property of Wesley Carter. Call (704) 992-1211 or email to book an engagement. This article originally appeared in The Charlotte Post.
By Dr. Wesley Carter
Closing the deal is the most important stage in the sale cycle. Ask any salesperson and you will get the same response, closing the deal is paramount to sustainability. Whether you are selling through relationships or cash and carry, closing the deal is still the most important phase of the sales cycle. Every successful sale is a product of the close.
Becoming a better closer requires four very specific skills; relationship skills, listening, courage, and emotional literacy. While the depth may vary depending on the complexity of the sale, developing a relationship with the client is pivotal. We have all heard the old adage a million times – - people buy from people they like. If a substitute is available, customers will often go out of their way to avoid buying from a sales person they do not like or trust. The higher the price of the service or product, the stronger the relationship required to close the sale. The foundation of any strong sales relationships is partnership. The challenge is to persuade the client to view the salesperson as a trusted advisor. The difference between being perceived as a trusted advisor as opposed to a salesperson is huge. Customers are more likely to share their buying criteria with a trusted advisor to reap the benefits of the seller’s knowledge. Developing a sustainable relationship with customers requires a salesperson willing to delay instant gratification to provide an optimal solution at the risk if sacrificing revenue in the short-term.
Actively listening refers to the process of interpreting customer responses with respect, kindness, and honor. A talented closer listens without preconceived notions and seeks points of commonality to build personal connections with customers. Gestures such as nodding, smiling, and other expressions of empathy communicate sincerity. The body language of the listener should demonstrating positive regard toward their clients. Most importantly, closers listen intently to discern the customer’s frame of reference. This information will be critical to identifying an appropriate closing strategy.
Closers overcome obstacles to sales with bravery and fortitude. It takes great bravery to satisfy customer demands and respond to objections. Closing a complex deal can take months to consummate. Yet, many salespeople lose the deal because of the awkwardness for asking for the business. After the hard work of identifying the decision maker and resolving doubts and unspoken reticence, closers enact resolute endurance and take action in the face of uncertainty to seal the deal.
Emotional literacy in sales refers to the degree of self-awareness, self-control, intuition, and empathy possessed by the salesperson. Sales engagements can be quite complex and therefore, resistant to simple rules. From a sales perspective, there are three primary components of emotional literacy; controlling and channeling one’s emotions, recognizing the emotions of the customer and influencing those emotions to consummate the deal.
The effectiveness of every closer is a product of the degree to which they take responsibility for guiding the sales process and bringing it to a successful close. Closers grasp the larger sales experience and anticipate future objections and unforeseen hurdles to position their products and services advantageously.
While there are numerous closing techniques, there are a few strategies that consistently net great reward. Close on the minor terms first and focus on quality instead of price. Leverage repetition to drive the value of the benefits home. On large ticket items, break the price down into daily increments to reduce sticker shock. Point out the opportunity costs associated with forgoing the purchase. Attempt a trial close to gauge the customer’s amenability to closing. Remember, the deal is not closed until either money has exchanged hands or the paperwork has been signed. Now, go sell something!
WESLEY CARTER DM, authors an advice column that leverages leadership and management strategies to solve common business problems. Carter holds a Doctor of Management (DM) degree with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership, an MBA, and a B.A. in Management. Carter is a partner at KRS Consulting, LLC in Charlotte, NC. If you have a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org . All submissions become the property of Wesley Carter. Call (704) 992-1211 or email to book an engagement. This article orginally appeaed the Charlotte Post.
By Dr. Renae Sanders
What is my sales cycle? Understanding this simple concept is the critical step toward building sustainable revenue for your business. While customers represent organizational relationships, business is won or lost on the people who touch the prospect or client. Each relationship is established and built throughout the sales cycle. Keep in mind, however, that trust is not established until the final product is delivered to the client’s satisfaction.
The sales cycle is defined as the period from which the sales person makes the initial contact with a prospect to the point when the deal is finalized. Some businesses consider the deal finalized when the contract is signed, others when payment is made, still others when the product is delivered. I define the sales cycle as the time lapsed from the initial contact with the client or prospect to final delivery of the product. When you can determine the length of time between contact and the contract and the period from “yes” to YES, you can best forecast your sales projections.
An accurate sales forecast has numerous benefits. It is helpful when planning for future up/down turns in the market, decision to reinvest in your company, building the case for credit, or enlisting the support of investors for raising capital. Sales management is another important role related to the sales cycle. Leaders can better monitor the activity of the sales team and coach employees who need the attention.
Sales Cycle = Prospect > Suspect > Signed Contract > Implementation> Payment
As the old adage goes, you get what you measure and what better metric to measure than your sales. Whether a micro business or large corporate, the sales cycle is the respiratory system of the company. Start tracking the lapsed time from contact and final product/service delivery and watch your sales increase.
Dr. Renae Sanders is the Managing Director at KRS Consulting, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in organizational relationships. Believing people are the link between strategy and success, Renae works with organizations, leaders, and managers to strengthen internal relationships. You can reach Dr. Sanders at email@example.com.