Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Show Up and Throw Up

I am literally writing this blog post while on a conference call with a bad salesperson. Why do people in my profession do this? They get on a demo, say they're going to "keep it short" and then they talk for waaaay to long about an assortment of features that are of no interest to me. When I do interrupt them to ask a question they don't answer it. They get back to what they want to talk about. Pitiful.

Features don't sell software in B2B. Integration and other concepts are more important. I assume that it has all of the features I need. I want to know about third-party tie-ins and things that would address how this software might be pertinent to my particular business.

Listen, salespeople. Stop rambling on about stuff while the buyer sits in silence for 15, 30, 45 or (God help you) 60 minutes! Your job (our job) in sales is to LISTEN and ask questions and LISTEN. If you're talking...you're not selling. You're alienating your buyer.

Ugh.....she's still talking...... I'm going to take a nap......

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Great Advice for Sales People from Sandler

Sandler Sales Institute is one of my favorite sources of timely, relevant advice for sales people. Here is a blurb from Lissa Versteegh (Lissa@sandler.com) for you folks in my line of work:

The "More Prospects" Paradox

Logic suggests that “more prospects” will lead to more sales. While that may be true for some salespeople, for many others, “more prospects” actually leads to fewer sales.

“Prospects” is undeniably the essential element in the sales process. However, the quality of the prospects and the pattern of interaction with them after the initial contact will determine if the sales process leads to closed sales…or closed files (and fewer sales).

What accounts for the difference?

It starts with the salesperson’s mindset. Some salespeople are of the mindset that “everybody’s a prospect.” These salespeople jump at the chance to tell their stories to anyone who will listen—voluntarily or otherwise…whether they’re truly interested or not. And, that mindset gives rise to two problems.

First, the salespeople spend an inordinate amount of time chasing prospects of questionable quality. Their quest being to convince those prospects that the product or service they have to offer deserves consideration. The more time they are in “chase” mode, the less time they have to develop and close sales.

Second, during the appointments they eventually schedule, they waste additional time attempting to “convince” prospects of the merits of their product or service. Their “convincing” approach (along with their “everybody’s a prospect” philosophy) fails to recognize the difference between a suspect (someone who may be curious about or have a casual interest in the product or service) and a prospect (someone who has a recognized need or acknowledged desire for the product or service).

Another element that accounts for the difference between “more prospects” leading to either more closed sales or more closed files is the process used to qualify and develop opportunities. The more structured (and perhaps stringent) the process of qualifying an opportunity, the more quickly suspects can be weeded out (wasting little time with them) and the more quickly opportunities can be developed and sales closed with qualified prospects. Salespeople with the “everybody’s a prospect” mindset, however, are likely to have an extremely flexible selling process (which in some cases means no defined process at all).

If you want “more prospects” to lead to “more sales,” first, be more selective about the people you target as prospects and with whom you invest your time. Develop a profile of the “ideal” prospect derived from the characteristics of your most consistent and/or profitable customers and then target prospects that most closely fit the profile. Even then, when a potential prospect expresses an interest in your product or service, quickly determine if that interest is driven merely by curiosity…or an actual need or desire for the outcome your product or service delivers. Sometimes, it takes nothing more than a direct question like, “What specifically sparked you interest in…?” or “What are you hoping to accomplish by investing in…?”

Next, be more stringent in qualifying the various aspects of the opportunity. Prospects must not only have a legitimate need or desire for your product or service, but they must also have the wherewithal to obtain it. And, they must be in a position to make a decision in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable time frame—reasonable for you, that is.

When you focus your efforts on quickly identifying and weeding out suspects, and then use a selling process to methodically qualify the remaining prospects, “more prospects” will lead to more sales.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Perspective for Dads

In 2008 I just knew that this "economic downturn" would only last the winter and that things we be on the mend within 12 months or so. This is silly, of course, because I'd seen the dot-com crash and had even suffered the brunt of it having been in the technology sector since before the dot-com hey-days. I should have remembered that these things don't blow over in a few months. For that matter, I'd seen tough economic times in the 80's as well.

It seems, to me, like we see this in cycles. 80's, late 90's, 2000's......every 15 years or so. I'm sure somebody will find it necessary to correct me, but that's just my sense.

What has me feeling so reflective now is that this ongoing period of tough times is really starting to effect people in tough ways. Fear of losing ones' job is not as bad as actually being jobless, granted. However, there are unfortunate side-effects of this economy on the employed none-the-less. More on this in a minute.

Like many people, I know friends and family members that are faced with coping right now with all of the pressures from rising fuel prices, a horrible housing market and rising taxes while on top of it all dealing with being unemployed. I know senior citizens with no health care insurance. I know young people that are running up credit card bills because they are under-employed. (though...sorry to say...some of the young people are stuck in a sense of entitlement that is their biggest liability) The news is horrible and only perpetuates the situation we are in. I'm watching BIll O'Reilly right now and they're talking about how the economy is in "peril". I agree, but man...I can't listen to it everyday.

One of the things that I will admit is that while I'm gainfully employed I have a constant fear of losing my job. With 4 small children and a wife to support I have had this nagging feeling of "any day now I'm going to lose my job and disappoint my family". Some people tell me I'm being silly. Others tell me I've got to stay grateful and stay in action. Yet others tell me that they think I'm a baby and have nothing to whine about. But the fact remains that even the employed right now have pressures that don't seem to be letting up. I make the argument that while yes, it is "easier" for the employed there is still a toll that is being taken on them that is not letting up. It's the ever-present pressure that weighs one down. Living in fear of losing your job, making ends meet with the paycheck you do earn and watching those around you struggle all makes for a somewhat depressing existence.

So here is where I break from my gloom-and-doom and say what I need to say. (I'm going to talk straight here and it isn't always pretty. Sorry, in advance.)

Life is 5% what happens to you and 95% how you react to it, in my opinion. Cliches. I have some.

"Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'" That's one.

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Corny, but true. "Bloom where you are planted" is another one.

"Life is hard, you have to change." Thanks to Shannon Hoon for that one.

I absolutely believe that the more I"m consumed with self-pity and fear the more likely I am to find that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and I actually end up sabotaging my own success.

It might not get any better for awhile, guys. (Yes, I'm talking to myself here, too.) Suck it up. Work hard. Live within your means. Spend more time working harder and smarter. Spend less time complaining. Help somebody else out, because somebody has helped you out lately. Enjoy your kids. I'll say that again, enjoy your kids. They need you and they are counting on you. They don't give a ripabout a recession or what issues you're facing with making ends meet. They just want their Dad to spend time with them and someday you will wish you had spent more time with them. Quit trying to bring other people down. Quit spending your money on crap like gambling, selfish extravagant hobbies, alcohol and all the other stuff that is draining your bank account while you sit there and complain about how broke you are. And while I'm on my rant: Men, quit messing with your babysitters, nannies and girls at work. Keep it in your pants and go take care of your family. Your wives are counting on you and one sure-fire way to jack up your life is to cheat on your wife and end up paying child support so that some dude can take your ex and your kids to Disney with your cash.

It sucks right now. True. But you don't remember whatever it was you were stressed out about in 1997. Do you? No. But you do remember how pretty your wife was when you got married that year. You don't remember what bills you were stressed about in 2003 but you can recall with great detail the day in the summer of that year that you took the kids to get ice cream and you laughed and laughed and laughed when your ice cream fell off onto your new tennis shoes. You get the picture. Life isn't about all the crap your dealing with it's about the good memories and 20 years from now you won't remember that jack-hole boss you had in 2011 but you'll remember the camping trip you took in the fall of 2011 with your kids when you had so much fun. (and they'll remember it for the rest of their lives)

Enjoy the ride, my friends. The destination will come way too soon.