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From the Editor
"Ask an Expert" Briefs
"Courting" the Customer
What's your 'pickup' line? 'Hi sailor, been in town long? I'm a Libra, you must be a Capricorn.' For a business, the pickup line for buyers might include the trigger words 'Free,' 'Sale,' 'Bargain,' etc. In a business-to-business relationship the message is more subtle, talking about 'quality,' 'integrity,' 'reliability,' etc. Somehow a seller must attract buyers. Using a 'courting' analogy, sales guru Bob Ayrer will show you how to move from love at first sight to a lifelong relationship.
Are You Listening to Me? Six Steps to Closing More Sales
All the modern forward thinking gurus of selling agree: 'Telling ain't selling. Listening is.' Without question, it’s the number one skill of closing sales. But what the gurus often fail to tell you is what to listen for...and how to listen. In this article, legendary sales trainer, Bob Ayrer, will give you six steps to closing more sales.
Behavioral Science and Selling
In the early days of organized selling, when behavioral science was coming of age, some of the companies fielding large numbers of door-to-door sales people turned to the new science for help. They adopted highly manipulative psychological tactics to their selling processes. After championing selling as an honorable profession (and spending over ten years teaching sales people how to sell with integrity and honesty), I was distressed to find a program sponsored by a leading university that taught the kinds of manipulative behavioral skills that helped give selling a bad name over 80 years ago....
Beyond Consultative Selling
Selling may be simple but consulting is hard -- and it's different! You're kidding yourself if you think you can hire a 'sales trainer' to teach your sales people how to be consultants -- No way! We're talking about a completely different set of skills. It's not about 'Selling skills.' Let's back up. What is consultative selling and why do you need it now? To find out, keep reading...
Coaching Sales People
All the books you've read, all of the 'rah-rah' rallies you've attended, all of the workshops you sat through don't mean squat if you don't convert the knowledge into skill. Take a lesson from the pros and get yourself a coach....
From Success to Significance
The issues of attitude and motivation seem to confound most sales organization. Companies will go looking for a 'motivational speaker' to pump life into a lethargic sales group. Sales managers will search high and low for the latest gimmick to try to stimulate their sales effort. What they don't seem to understand is that they have the power to unleash the motivation of their organization by focusing on the significant contributions. What do we normally focus upon? Budgets! Sales Forecasts! Expenses! Activity Reports! Here's where we should be focusing our attention....
Great Sales People Are Great Fishermen!
Most sales people have problems with closing because they don’t understand the Big Secret of selling. They think you close the sale by asking for the order. Wrong! You close the sale by getting the buyer to acknowledge that they are going to get everything they want from your proposal. The Big Secret: Close the sale before you ask for the order! To find out how to do that, just keep on reading...
Hiring Sales People...Getting Behind the Mask
The hardest hire you will ever make is finding and hiring a good sales person. Sales people are trained to mask their behaviors and feed a prospect what they want to see. Now they are selling themselves to you. In this article, you'll learn how to use proven techniques to look behind the mask and improve your chances of hiring an effective sales person.
Low Bid Syndrome
We know you've been taught that people buy based on value, not price. But, let's face it, you don't believe it do you? In the real world, too often you experience losing an account because your bid was higher...or at least that's what the prospect tells you. In this article, master salesman, Bob Ayrer, draws from his past experience in the contracting industry where the same issue has been debated for years. While the focus is on a different industry, the points made easily translate to insurance.
Making a Sales Plan
An 18-wheeler slid into a ditch. A little old lady pulled up with her two Chihuahuas in the car and called to the driver, 'Throw me a chain and I'll have my dogs pull you out of the ditch.' 'Lady!' he replied, 'How are you going to get those two little dogs to pull this diesel truck out of a ditch?' 'I'll use whips!' she answered. The moral? If the plan is flawed, using whips will not help! According to the IIABA-commissioned Insurance Distribution Study, less than half of all agencies even have a formal sales plan, much less a flawless plan. Here's how to get one....
The year was 1943, World War was raging. Spies and saboteurs had infiltrated our country, establishing themselves as normal citizens and were busily (and invisibly) at work trying to destroy our ability to make war. This internal threat became known as 'The Fifth Column' (a term from the 1938 Spanish Civil War and memorialized by Hemmingway’s book of the same name). Is there a 'Fifth Column' in your agency?
Sales Training...Fact or Fraud?
Most claims of success by sales trainers are a fraud. Many sales trainers are like roosters taking credit for the dawn...they crow about the effectiveness of their workshops when, in fact, there is virtually no way to substantiate their claims. Most sales training is done because management doesn't know what else to do to improve performance! Wake up! More of what doesn't work still doesn't work! So, how do you make sales training work? Keep reading....
Selling to a Higher Purpose
How often have you heard the sales gurus talk about the 'pain and gain' issues in selling? And how to identify those sensitive targets as buying motivations and sell to them. In fact, the real issue is Passion. What is the Buyer (not you) really interested in doing? What problem requires solving? That's the hidden, often unspoken, see-if-you-can-find-it Passion Point. The trick is to find the passion point and sell to it....
The "Born Salesman" Myth
Probably no myth is more pervasive than the idea that there are 'born' sales people. What a crock. Granted there are some people who seem to naturally have the attributes we associate with 'good selling.' However, most of the vision of what constitutes selling is manufactured by media portrayals of sales people, not what they really are. That high-energy dynamo that is out to change the world is every sales manager's dream....
The Danger of the Stockholm Effect
In many organizations, we are now seeing the modern equivalent of the World War II Stockholm Effect (see below), with sales people transferring alliances to the customer. This could lead to your worst nightmare...your best sales people taking your customers away to a newly formed company or a competitor. To combat the Stockholm Effect....
The Myth that Price Drives the Sale
Know why price is perceived by so many sales people to be the driving force? Simple: Most sales staff are trained by BUYERS, not employers! What has happened over the decades of poor sales training is that buyers have filled the void and have trained the sales people...but, of course, to their advantage. Added to that, the majority of ordinary sales training teaches techniques and strategies, not HOW to sell....
The Relationship Selling Myth
It is important to continually raise the level of relationships within an account. It is the producer's job to identify prospective customers out of the field of buyers and move them through being a buyer to a satisfied buyer, to a loyal customer -- this requires cultivating relationships at every level of the account. However, the role of relationships in making the sale and retaining customers is largely mythical and certainly misunderstood....
They Taught Us How to Sell...Then Sold Us Down the River
A sales person can’t create genuine value for a client if the focus is on unit pricing. Price is always a product of poor selling and inept sales management. If your company genuinely offers value and you are not getting the margins you deserve, it is time to change the way your sales people take your program to market. Change your processes, change the results. If you don’t, you won’t!
Training and the Sales Manager
The most often misunderstood function in a sales plan is the training of staff. The first rule of training is that nothing stays fixed. Training is an ongoing process that occurs whether you want it to or not. Your choice is not whether you train or not. The choice is whether you train your staff deliberately, to the achieve positive results; or, unthinkingly, to behaviors that may not be positive to the goals of the enterprise.
Who Made Price the Problem? We Did!
Price is always a part of the final equation in selling, but the real reason people choose one supplier over another is almost never price, nor does it have anything to do with your product lines or core services. To learn what you can do to overcome the price dilemma (and learn about the problems of the 'Show Up and Throw Up' school of selling and the 'Stump the Chump' method of closing a sale, keep reading...
Wrap Around Selling
In order to migrate (develop) a prospect up to buyer and then on to loyal customer requires a sales person to have an overall account management vision. What's needed is a new view of how to 'get out of the box' of being a Willy Loman...an order taker. The game is to raise the relationship between the vendor and client to an ever higher purpose. And, at each level, the sales person is required to raise him or herself to a new level of professionalism. Let’s consider the 'pull' strategy, or 'Wrap Around selling'....
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