sales

Handling Sales Objections: "I Need Time to Think It Over"

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It was just 238 years ago that a few rabble-rousers decided to get out of the British Empire. With the Declaration of Independence, they pledged their fortunes and their lives to declare their fight for freedom. But you may not know that only 2 men out of the eventual 56 signers actually sealed their commitment and signed the legendary document on July 4, 1776: John Hancock and Charles Thomson.

The remaining signatures were applied a few weeks later on August 2, 1776, after copies had been distributed to all members of the Continental Congress.

They needed time to review the document. To consider their position. To decide to go all in and rebel against their parent nation.

They needed time, in other words, to "think it over.”

Remember this the next time someone gives you the age-old objection that they “need time to think it over.” Even the founders of our country were not willing to be sold in a moment’s notice. When presented with the Declaration of Independence, they were not asked to sign immediately.

They were invited to an event in a few weeks, where everyone else would be signing. If they decided to sign with everyone else, they were welcome to participate. If they didn’t sign - well, everyone else would be watching.

This was a masterful use of selling skills. John Hancock allowed the members of the Continental Congress “time to think it over.” He gave them the exact amount of time they had to consider it, with an appointment to make their decision.

In front of everyone else.

How can you apply this lesson to your own sales process?

When your presentation is over, if your prospective customer won't meet your eyes, and mumbles something about 'time to think it over,' all you need to do is establish the boundaries of the thinking time.

1. Set an appointment for the decision.

"You should consider all the facts before you make a decision. I'll come back this time next week. That should be enough time for you to think it over, right?"

2. Discover any unresolved questions.

"While you are thinking this over, what are the questions that you need to research before our appointment?"

3. Invite a current client to the meeting.

"When I come back, I'd like to bring one of my current clients with me, so that you can ask them any questions that you develop over the next week about what it's like working with me."

Saying "I need time to think it over" is often interpreted by salespeople as "no." The Founding Fathers didn't take it that way, and neither should you.

6 Open-Ended Questions for Sales Starting Conversations

As sales techniques go, asking Open-Ended Questions isn't just a good idea.

It's mandatory.

Open-ended questions will get your prospect talking about what they really want to buy, how they want to buy, and their real reasons for buying.

1. Ask, "What do you look for in...?"

If you're a realtor, simply asking a prospect what they look for in a house will get you some good information to match them with the right property. But also asking them what they look for in a realtor will give you key details on how to keep them happy, and generate referrals.

2. Ask, "What have you found in the past that...?"

The past experience of your customer is crucial because it's the yardstick they'll use to measure your success. If you exceed their expectations (expectations that were set by what they have found in the past) you've got a referral partner for life.

3. Ask, "How do you propose we handle...?"

What are their ideas? Do they have particular ways of doing things? You may have a system all laid out, but involving your customer in the planning process helps them take ownership over your transaction.

4. Ask, "What would you change about...?"

This works well when you're trying to lure a customer away from the competition. Identifying where their dissatisfaction lies and providing stellar results in that particular area will make you their hero.

5. Ask, "Are there any other factors that...?"

Make sure you've got everything covered. This catch-all question can uncover the most left-field, unexpected concerns that your customer has, which they might otherwise never tell you about.

6. Ask, "How are you currently...?"

What is their current solution?

And more importantly, why is that?

The answers to these open-ended questions can foster trust in you as their advisor, because you're showing sincerity when you ask about their issues, their problems, and their concerns.

You can learn more about Open-Ended Questions, asnd their effectiveness in making you stand out from the crowd, in the webinar "Differentiate or Die."

What It Takes to “Get It"

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“You get it." Ever heard a customer utter those words? Whether your customer says it or thinks it, those three words are the precursor to any customer relationship.

So how do you get your customers to get that you get it? There’s no trick, script, or system. You have to prove to the customer that you see what they see - that you fully grasp their perspective.

Eight years ago, I met a customer who had fired 4 providers before me. He found me via Google and asked me to give a pitch. He was willing to spend big money but said he fired his previous providers because they didn’t “get" what he was trying to do...

The man was a brilliant engineer whose company sold sonar imaging software. During our meeting he explained the details about his business and the goals that eluded him. But not being an engineer myself, I was lost in the techno-speak.

I wanted to help him, so I asked him to show me his software. “That was a first," he said.

I replied, “What do you mean?" He said I was the first marketer or creative consultant who wanted to observe his product before developing campaigns, promotions, and website content.

He took me to a control room and sat me at a computer hooked to nine monitors stacked three levels high, all flickering with waves of data. The system curved around me like the controls of a spacecraft. Enthusiastically, he began showing me how it all worked.

2 hours later, I had a cursory understanding of sonar imaging and how his system improved sonar data for nautical use.

But then a funny thing happened...

The man’s speaking pattern transformed from technical jargon to heartfelt conversation. He began sharing his ultimate goals for the business, his passion for his unique team, and how he began the company on a shoestring budget.

At this point, I didn’t have to “engage the customer." He was engaging me. I didn’t need to “sell" him. He wanted to buy. See the difference?

I began to understand who this man was and what was meaningful to him. Making money wasn’t his primary driver. He wanted to create something important - to use his imagination and intellect to contribute something to the world.

We spent the last hour of the day with a whiteboard. He shared ideas with me. I shared ideas with him. I knew his product and goals well enough by then to contribute real value to the brainstorming discussion. I offered a specialty he didn’t have - marketing and branding expertise. In less than a day, I had become a member of his planning team.

The appointment was over, but just before I cleared the security checkpoint exit, he said, “Thank you for getting it."

Notice: There were no sales barriers. No qualifying questions. No slick presentation. No need to close the prospect. I simply took the time to do what no one else had done - care, listen, see, understand, and contribute.

I went beyond simply selling a customer. I saw from his eyes, walked in his shoes, and shared his perspective of the world. When you do, your customer will award you with a slice of trust. And that slice is all you need, because people naturally equate a willingness to listen and understand to wisdom and selfless friendliness - two of the most scarce traits in the business world today.

Do you get it?

I’m sure you do! Perhaps you have an example similar to mine or a story that sheds new light on the topic. Add your contribution (or question) to the comments below!

Slightly Behind - The Best Place to Compete?

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My brothers, identical twins, are a year older than I am. I also have two younger sisters. That gives me lifelong membership to the Fraternity of Middle Kids.

As a middle kid, I occasionally whined to my parents about being overlooked and ignored. They always patiently replied, "Stop being ridiculous, Anthony." I yelled back, "It's Andy!"

OK, OK, that last part's a joke – but all kidding aside, I'm not the only middle kid who ever griped about feeling attention-deprived. Over the years, I've met plenty of others who could identify with me.

In talking with other middle kids, I've observed another shared characteristic. As adults, they're almost all fighters with a strong competitive drive. Just like me, many felt the need to work a little harder to garner the same attention as their first and last born siblings.

Finally, I found some research that backs my observations and may offer insight to help sales managers stoke the competitive fire in the bellies of ALL their reps.

In the latest Harvard Business Review "Defend Your Research" section, there's a reprint of an interview with Wharton School of Business marketing professor, Jonah Berger. He explains that his research reveals people compete harder when they're slightly behind (just like a middle kid). The methods and results of his research were quite convincing.

His findings state, "People who are slightly behind in a competition are more likely to win than those who are slightly ahead." He says, "Bonus structures typically reward the best performers. Our research shows there are better ways to motivate people."

If Berger's research holds up, what are some ways to apply his findings to your sales team?

Here are a few ideas:

Leapfrog incentives. 

Typically, sales incentives are awarded for reaching defined milestones or being the top performer. Imagine if sales managers incentivized sales reps just for outselling the rep in front of them. That way, your 20th place performer might be more motivated to improve based on the achievable goal of beating the numbers of your 19th performer.

Weeklong Contests.

Every once in a while, hold a weekly contest. Whoever closes the most business that week or whoever is the first to land a sizable contract before the week's end gets a big prize. Make sure the prize is good - an iPad, football tickets, or a Kindle Fire. This type of contest levels the playing field so under-performers have the chance to dig it out for a week and win.

Incentivize 2nd Place. 

Challenge your 2nd and 3rd place performers to overtake your top seller. Offer them a special incentive if they dethrone the leader in the specified period of time. To make it fair, inform your top seller that if they remain the leader after the challenge ends, they get the bonus instead.

Alternative Incentives.

Shake up your top leader by offering incentives for those who are first to a new vertical, capture the most twitter followers, or deliver their personal ezine first.

Target a Nemesis.

Offer double commissions for a period for stealing work from a competitor. This incentive puts your top performers, some of which may be on cruise control, in the slightly behind position and may kickstart that competitive drive again.

Professor Berger's research makes sense and may have some practical and powerful applications to sales, though I wonder how much his research cost the university. To discover that those who are slightly behind compete harder, all he had to do was to ask a middle kid.

Do you think Jonah Berger's research nails it? What ideas do you have for pumping up your competitive drive? Post your comment!

Passion Vaccum - The #1 Reason Sales Suck

I observe salespeople. It's my job. I search for traits in those who are successful, then share them as improvement tips with those who struggle. The attribute that fuels success more than any other isn't work ethic, brains, charisma, product knowledge, or raw talent.

It's passion!

You need those other characteristics too. But passion is the X-factor. Its presence enables salespeople and business people to make big things happen. Customers come running. Trust is granted. Obstacles are overcome. Excitement explodes. Wallets open. Proposals are signed. Competitors scribble notes. Followers amass. Leadership is bestowed. Dreams are realized. Lives are fulfilled!

Passionate people don't sell. They listen. They share. They smile. They ask questions. They care. They vibrate with energy and radiate enthusiasm. They go the extra mile. They love what they do. They enjoy themselves. They see the bright side. They look for the best in people. They shake off bad news. They celebrate good news. They have fun. And when they do, people line up to buy!

Does this describe you?

Life. Soaking it in? Or is it being sucked from you?

Do you have a "Passion Vacuum?"

If so, you're not alone. Many others are right there with you. Empty. Tired. Bored. Frustrated. Painting on smiles. Wondering how they got here and wishing they were anywhere else.

It's time to fill the void with meaning, direction, vision, hope, and the passion that's been missing.

Login to your Ace of Sales account to view this 30 minute webinar with practical steps to:

  • Shake off recession blues
  • Find your selling groove
  • Create a buying atmosphere
  • Escape quota stress
  • Have fun every day
  • Discover what you want to be when you grow up
  • Awaken your passion

The Dirtiest Phrase

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What's the dirtiest word or phrase you know? Afraid to say it out loud? I'm not...

"No Perceived Difference"

GASP! Did I just get the Sales Caffeine spam flagged? Don't cover your ears - I won't say it again.

Yes. It's a vile term indeed. Sticks and stones can break your bones, but the name "No Perceived Difference" will always hurt you. Crud, I said it again.

This week, I popped in the corner food mart to grab my daily supply of Dr. Pepper (my one addiction, my precious life blood). At the counter, I glimpsed a new product on the impulse buying shelf - 6 Hour Energy shots. How brilliant! The ubiquitous and popular 5 Hour Energy shots have been one-upped! POW! Why would I choose 5 hours of energy when I can have 6?

Everyone will pick 6 over 5, right? Wrong. Regardless of price, placement, pizzaz, or promises, 5 Hour Energy, will almost always win.

When there is no perceived difference between competing products or services, consumers and customers will select the perceived original as their safest bet. The perceived original is not necessarily the first, but rather the first to symbolize the product category. Hydrox cookies were first, but Oreo became the symbol for the black and white cookie category. Over 100 years ago, Coke and Pepsi hit the market at nearly the same time, but Coke became the classic representative for cola and is still out-selling Pepsi today.

When buying, customers often follow this mental process:

  1. What category of product do I need?
  2. Who is the safest bet, the perceived original, in this category?
  3. Are there any compelling reasons to consider anyone else?

How does this apply to you?

In sales, your prospects will seek the perceived original in your industry or region and automatically attribute a higher level of trust and respect to them. If it isn't you, you'll have to dramatically slash your price, max out quality, garner exceptional reviews, or offer breakthrough features to overtake the perceived original.

The easier route is to create a new category in which you can become the perceived original. Example: Dr. Pepper (how I love you so).

But what if you work for a company that isn't the perceived original?

Then you focus on your personal brand. YOU become the new category. YOU become the significant differentiator. YOU become Dr. Pepper (lucky you).

Sounds hard doesn't it? That's why I created my latest webinar, "Create a Killer Personal Brand." Packed with under-the-hood explanations, examples, and visuals, it has the idea-energizing power of a case of 5 Hour Energy. Almost 1000 have already been served.

The HD recording is now available in your Ace of Sales account. Just click on the "Video Training" tab. It's right there with Jeffrey and my other 100+ videos.

Don't have an account yet? Sign up for a 30 day trial account with promo code "killerbrand" at www.aceofsales.com.

 

The Value of a Little Adventure

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In third grade I had a choice – walk home from school alone or ride the bus for an hour (my house was the last stop). I chose the shorter path even though I despised “The March of Boredom" more than brushing my teeth or washing the dishes. So... I did what any imaginative eight year old would do. Each day as I headed home, I pretended I had a fatal stomach wound inflicted on me by a gunman atop the school. The goal was to survive until I made it to the hospital (my house). Clinging to life, I staggered up Lynn Dell Road. I reached the Powell’s yard and could go no further. Clutching my abdomen and wailing in agony, I crumpled into the soft green grass to die.

The first time I “pulled this little stunt," Mrs. Powell burst from her house slippered, bathrobed, and screaming hysterically. From then on, I was only permitted to “die" in my own yard. It worked out pretty well, because my mom fit perfectly into the fantasy as an angel sent to resurrect me with a Little Debbie snack cake.

Though I no longer “die" in my neighbors’ yards anymore, I still combat the vanilla moments of life by adding the chocolate syrup of adventure. I find it doesn’t take much to transform monotonous exercises into more enjoyable experiences.

Guess who else prefers life topped with a little extra excitement? Your customers!

Add touches of adventure to your customers’ experiences to strengthen your relationships, create memorable moments, and build a personal brand that’s “to die for."

End result: Customer loyalty and referrals that are very, very real.

Here are 5 tips to add a little adventure to customer experiences:

1. Book a training excursion with a top customer.

It could be a half-day event in your locality or a full-blown mini-vacation to an event neither of you will forget. Jeffrey’s Boot Camp in Vegas anyone? Pay for their ticket and they’ll pay you with undying gratitude.

2. Mail a treat to a customer only they would appreciate.

Recently, a customer of mine named Bob reminded me how well this works. While cleaning out his house he found a vintage sticker featuring Superman, my favorite comic hero. He mailed it to me with a nice note. I’ve only showed it to about 5,000 people.

3. Host your own networking event somewhere unusual with just a few business friends.

Another customer of mine recently used Ace of Sales to send out a chocolate tasting invitation to a select group of customers. They met at a local premier chocolate shop to get away from the unsweetened tedium of the week and enjoyed casual conversation over dessert.

4. Add a little personality to your proposals.

Make the buying process a little less ordinary, especially when you’re the long shot. I once tacked on this phrase at the end of a proposal, “The next document you sign for me will be your testimonial." I got the sale AND the testimonial.

5. Boost the excitement of your presentations with the power of show-and-tell.

Before you launch into your next PowerPoint, start off by using a physical object as a story illustration. Have you ever seen Jeffrey’s fake barf used to represent how your brochure sounds to customers? It rallies the room every time!

Holsters Empty No More! From Jeffrey Gitomer's Sales Caffeine

"'Stay in touch' is the most powerful, least used sales tool." Jeffrey Gitomer tweeted, referencing his new online service Ace of Sales. You'd think the most powerful weapon we have as salespeople would be the one we wield the most! At Jeffrey’s public seminar last month in Atlanta, I did some investigating with hard-working, in-the-trenches salespeople. I asked the question, "How would you rate how well you 'follow up' and 'stay in touch?' 1 is terrible. 5 is excellent." I even added: "Be honest. It's OK to brag." Of the dozens of salespeople I asked, not a single person rated themselves above "terrible." A few declined with the answer, "I'm embarrassed to say." Now that's honest. How would you rate yourself?

When I asked "Why?" most people answered, "I just don't have the time." What would Jeffrey say to that? Probably something about how much TV we watch and a few other truths that make us all cringe and nod.

Well, there's good news and bad news...and then more good news.

The good news is that most of the salespeople I met that day are now using Ace of Sales to follow up and stay in touch. I've heard back from many of them who are now benefiting from Jeffrey's Ace of Sales video tips and strategies. They're also sending emails, postcard mailings, greeting cards, and gift cards in seconds; all designed with the salesperson's vibrant branding, messages, and images. They're even publishing customized ezines!

In reading their stories, I was reminded why we do such a poor job staying in touch with customers. It's because our holsters have been empty. But when you give salespeople a weapon that works, they will wield it and conquer their customers' hearts.

One of the salespeople I met that day was the gregarious James Maher, Director of Sales and Marketing for DoubleTree Hotel in Atlanta. He even recorded a video about Ace of Sales. He says, "Ace of Sales is hands down the most useful sales tool I've seen to date." He described Ace of Sales it's not overly complex yet not too limited – perfect for salespeople.

Watch James' video testimonial for Ace of Sales.

The bad news is that even though Jeffrey has advised us all to build loyal relationships and publicize our personal brand, you may still be rating yourself a one. Is it because you just can't give up your American Idol, Survivor, and Dancing with the Stars? I hope not. Chances are, you're just like the phenomenal people in Atlanta who have busy lives, limited time, and an empty holster when it comes to 'stay in touch.'

So here's the "more good news" part. Jeffrey and our team created Ace of Sales so you can be EXCELLENT at staying in touch! It's fast, easy...and actually fun to use! The interface is straight-forward. Technology and design are automated. All the tools you need are there. Everything is secure and accessible. It's affordable – only $20 a month. Trust me – it's loaded! All you have to do is pull the trigger.

 

Being On Your Game, Even When You’re Not Playing

When you’re running your own business, you know you have to be “on your game" even when you’re not technically “working the business." Some things to consider:

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  • ALWAYS keep business cards with you – you never know who you’re going to run into at the grocery store, the library, at your son’s little league game, etc.
  • Don’t be shy—strike up a conversation about your product or service whenever possible. Don’t assume someone won’t be interested!
  • Be aware of your appearance. Dressing neatly and being well groomed show you are a professional ALL the time.
  • Keep a small notebook handy – you never know when that great idea is going to hit you!

Sales Makers

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Send Sales Makers by clicking on the icons in your Sales Makers bar.

Send Branded Emails, Email Greetings, Ezines, Postcards, Greeting Cards, and Perforated Cards, all with your logo and company color, to a Group, or just one contact.

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