Sales

Role Play for Profit

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In training there are certain things that can make people start to groan and generally not want to participate. Probably top of all of these has to be when you announce role-play. It has got to the point where I now introduce that we are about to do an activity and explain the activity exactly the same way as I would explain a role play activity without using the word. It is incredible how merely dropping a simple phrase can make such a big mental difference.

In this blog I wanted to briefly touch on why it is so powerful to do role-plays - even if they make you initially feel like you would rather run for the hills or set your hair on fire.

The human brain is designed primarily to keep us alive and anything that it perceives is dangerous, it will generally tend to avoid. Role-plays are often perceived to hold a lot of danger: the risk of embarrassment, there's the risk of looking silly, of messing up, you've been asked to do something you don't know how to do etc. It is for this reason that so many people want to avoid it. However the human brain is also an incredible creation and once it has done something once and ascertained that it is both possible and not fatal, it has an amazing knack for being able to do the activity again a little bit quicker, a little bit smoother and more effectively.

I recently have had a number of clients attend expos, field days and trade shows. There are three parts to this: there is the preparation before-hand, the actual event and, of course, the follow up after the event. For teams who put the effort in before the event and practice role-plays, the effect of the result speaks for itself. Ironically the very thing that people fear inside of a role-play is totally eliminated in real life if they have practiced well. What so many people (who dread what a role-play might bring) end up finding is the reality of being prepared in a real world situation with real customers when it really matters.

Doing a role-play allows us to fully understand who we are and what we bring to the situation. It gives us an opportunity to understand the value that we offer and why people might be interested. It also enables us to practice how to engage, how to answer questions and how to use the short space of time we have effectively for both parties.

An effective way of doing role-plays is to set some clear goals for the salesperson and then have the customer come on stand with a backstory, as well as the interests that they have. For example, they could be the buyer for a large organisation who is under a huge amount of pressure to find a new supplier who can deliver on time because they have been badly let down. However the main KPI on a day-to-day basis is the GP. Added to this, the person could be having troubles at home with the kids and maybe has just received a request to go and see the doctor after some results have been received in and they are are worried what this might mean.

The rest of the team then observes how the role-play pans out. The Rep obviously guides the client through the stand that is on display in the practice room and asks the questions that they've got prepared. The rest of the team observes and makes notes. It is important after a role play to ask each party what they believe was done well. I often find the people immediately want to jump to what was done badly but we need to rewire people's brains to know that they have done things well. You get more of what you focus on, so focus on what you want more of. The very fact that they have done it, is good and so therefore the only feedback we want to know is: "What did you do well?" and "What will you do differently and or better next time?".

Ideally the salesperson should have uncovered that the key driver for the person was around reliable delivery and while price was important, it wasn't the deciding factor. Depending on the amount of time you have in the role-play - whether you are planning for a face-to-face meeting, a presentation or an event, being very clear on the design and outcome is important.

Once you've done this a few times it becomes easier and easier to do. When it is acted out in reality, the confidence levels it gives will often see role-plays being added as a stable part of a sales meeting - which is what indeed they should be. If you've never done them before, I strongly encourage you to give it a go before your next big meeting, presentation or event and watch the results speak for themselves.

Here's to your success!

Customer Experience - The Insatiable Desire For More

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Things change.

Expectations move.

If you are smart you are driving the change.

If you are progressive, you are looking at the current landscape and seeing that the internet, mobile apps, augmented reality and artificial intelligence is speeding up the pace of change, feeding and nurturing the insatiable desire for more. Customer service, which for years has been a point of difference for companies who want to stand out from others who merely supply products and services, has reached maturity and is now an expected rite of passage to even be considered as competitive in the current marketplace.

The goal posts have moved from service to “experience”. It is no longer just about how well you serve me - No, no, now you have ensure I ‘feel’ great and feel like engaging in business with you was good for me.

This self centric view is fueled, encouraged and constantly fed by the increasing reliance of us all on social media ratings and reviews. I remember reading in September 2016 that ratings and reviews were going to become a key part of the Google algorithm - if people did not share their experiences when interacting with you then you were doomed to be removed from the oasis of first page rankings and cast into the desert of page 2 and beyond.

If this dawning realisation is becoming evident for you and you are wondering about a way forward here are a few things to consider:

Your internal culture will always be directly reflected in the external customer experience. One of the best ways to get a quick gauge on this is to listen to how people in your team talk to each other and about each other.

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Consider where you put your focus. You get more of what you focus on, so focus on what you want more of. Do you operate on the old adage of “no news is good news” or have you advanced to the point where you are aiming to catch people doing things right?

Do you have a team charter and clear service promises that the whole team knows, lives and is committed to? While good, old fashioned politeness goes a long way in creating a good experience, it helps when the whole team is intent of ensuring your unique experience is felt and enjoyed by every customer who encounters your business.

People process information based on their personal knowledge, skill, experiences, culture, faith, schooling, upbring and so much more. All of these create filters that will often cause us to act and react in a certain way. Well trained team members know that they are not responsible for other people's actions and reactions, only their own.

The customer experience is no longer the next frontier but rather the one you must face now or forever be left behind to fade into the sea of mediocrity.

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5 Basic Sales Techniques

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In the world of business, the core activity is sales - without these there are no customers, no income and no business. Time spent to train your sales people well gives one of the best returns on investment any management can make. Run your sales team through these basic techniques and see how you can lift your game, serve your customers better, and get more sales.

See and hear your customer. Do role plays and/or observe people selling. Be aware of body language e.g. eye contact and stance. Notice how 2-way the conversation is. Be interested in them and why they’re there, more than in what you can sell them. Practice looking at them and identifying information about them that can help you to engage with them in a way that they’ll know you care.

Ask intelligent and engaging questions from outset. Eliminate “Can I help you?" or "Are you alright?" "Are you just looking?” and “Hi, I just touching base,” from your vocabulary and replace them with intelligent questions that will help your customers know you’re there for them. “What are you after today? A …. Or a ….?” is far more engaging. In business to business setting, going in with clear purpose to add value shows from your first question.

Know your products thoroughly - where, what, who, how, why and when of your features and the advantages of them. You’re the expert - they can research, but they’re coming to you for a real experience consultation - give it to them. Relate the features and advantages they are interested in and show them how they will be of benefit.

Make recommendations. Yes, it’s their choice, but they’re in your space to get help. Have an opinion and be able to show alternatives. Once you have gone through connecting and asking intelligent questions use your knowledge, skills and experience to make recommendations based on your client’s needs and wants.

Cross-sell on every applicable occasion. It is your duty to ensure your customer is informed and knows what is available. Don’t let them get home with the video camera to discover they need an SD card to take photos. Tell them what else they need so they can make informed choices.

Genuine interest, intelligent engagement and great product knowledge are basic areas of expertise. When your customers know your people are there to serve them, they will travel further, spend more and bypass opposition with identical product to work with you. Work as a team to constantly upskill in the core areas.

How To Get What You Want

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A number of years ago, after listening to an inspirational message, Mike developed the daily practice of writing out his top ten crazy ridiculous dreams in life for the day.  At a period of life which most people would find incredibly challenging, he chose to focus on what he wanted to build - a solid family, a home and business, and a way to help people make their lives better are the broad areas that are covered in the lists he made.

The incredible thing about this small and consistent action, is that most of the things he wrote on his list were really a total dream - with not a shred of possibility.  Each day they were written without consulting the previous day, so they vary a little. And yet five years on, almost every single one is a reality.

Looking at life from an attitude of what you have and what you want to build, as opposed to what is hindering you and what you don’t have, changes everything.  This building attitude means that you look at things differently. Because you are always looking for what is good and positive about your circumstances, and where it will lead you, you have a more abundant mindset.  This focus on the positive and building means that you get to enjoy life.

An attitude of gratitude is developed by making the deliberate choice to focus on on what you have and what you want more of. There's a lovely poem which says:

Thank heaven for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell.  
While other folks go hungry, we're eating very well.

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An attitude of gratitude means looking at every single thing and realising there are two ways to see it - positive and building, or negative and tearing down.  You get to choose what you will focus on. Be grateful for a needing petrol in the car because it means you have a car and access to petrol.  In business - be grateful for your tax bill because it means you made a profit. Be grateful for a customer who complains because they're talking to you rather than the competition and giving you the opportunity to improve. Be grateful for the number of calls that you've got to make because it means that there's an abundance of opportunity. Be grateful for all the skills you need to learn because it means that there are new ways to improve and serve customers.

If there’s something which is particularly niggling and pulling you down, sit down and write down all the things which are bothering you about it.  Having done that, deliberately shift your mindset and see how many things you can find which are positive and building from it. What is it teaching you?  How can you look at it differently? What positive options can you see? Are you learning perseverance, resilience, communication skills, creativity, management?  These are skills only learned through challenge.

When you are having trouble managing a person or situation, make it a point to always speak
to the positive in the situation.  Separating the problem from the people is a valuable skill.

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A few years back, we were dealing with a young man whose response to challenging situations was to sulk and get resentful.  This brought a tense atmosphere and made it difficult to work. We worked with him to develop the skill of negotiation - this meant that we were attacking the problem, not the person.  When the sulky attitude and lack of feedback was observed, we would invite him to share what he was perceiving as negative about the situation, and what other options he saw. As we consistently worked on building positive response, he grew in character and today is a real asset in his ability both to manage his workload and aspirations, and in the way that he affects the people who are working around him.

Mike has another mantra which is not uncommon in his conversation - he will always win, because if he wins (insert the game, the sale, the discussion) then he wins, and if he does not win, he learns.  Either way, he wins.

Look for the positive, grow your mindset, and here’s to your success!



3 Myths About Sales Reps

One of the activities I’ve watched Mike carry out in sale training is a word correlation game.  He gets everybody to get their pens ready and to be ready to write down the first word that comes to their mind about a particular topic which he is about to share.  It can be a good word, a bad word - it can even be a swearword if it needs to be, just write the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the topic. Here it is…

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Common answers include pushy, sleazy, carshark, liar, talking, suit and tie.  This is a sad reflection of one of the most vital roles in all of business. Sales reps have a really bad rap because they are correlated to carsharks and door to door salesmen and the reality is that this is a myth.  Here are three top myths about salespeople - and their mythbusters.

Myth #1.  To be a good salesperson you have to be able to talk a lot.

Truth.  The most important part of sales is your ability to listen and serve.  Although salespeople are often talkative people, it is more because they like people and are interested in them than because it is key in the role.  The greatest salespeople know how to get the customer talking, and sharing the things which are relevant to the products and services they provide. All this requires is a genuine interest in people and desire to help them meet their needs - aka a great set of questions!

Myth #2.  Salespeople are sleazy and tell lies so they can get your money.

Truth.  Good salespeople are in their role because of a genuine desire to make a difference to people with the product and/or service they happen to be selling.  They know how it can change lives, add value, and serve you, the customer. They’ve seen the effect it’s had on dozens, hundreds and even thousands of other people, and they want to share that goodness with people who need it.

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Myth #3.  Salespeople spend most of their days drinking coffee and talking.

Truth.  Although many salespeople drink coffee, it’s not essential for survival in a sales role.  (Some sales reps might disagree with me on this point!) The coffee is a tool which helps find a point of connection with the client - sharing a coffee, the weather and current relevant news shows that you have points of connection and genuinely care about the person you are meeting with rather than just wanting to sell them something.  A good conversation has a number of elements which include genuine interest, points of connection and sharing information which the other person may not know and may be useful for them.

Sales starts in your head.  Your mindset determines who you bring to a meeting.  Do you see yourself as someone who is useful, helpful and willing and able to make a difference?  If you related to any of the myths up above, we encourage you to take a moment and think what other myths you really need to bust to help you have a positive mindset about the sales role.  If we can help in any of this space, give us a call. Here’s to your success!

Strategies To Increase Sales Through Leadership

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Market leadership starts with knowing which market you want to lead. ~ Mike Clark

Is your sales team clear on your strategy?

Is each team member focused?

Do you lead your market niche?

When analysing successful companies, there are many lessons to be learnt. Countless articles are written on leadership styles, culture, vision, values and marketing prowess. Many of these are difficult to duplicate in small to medium businesses. We simply do not have the resources of manpower, budget, market share, brand power, etc. Yet each of these ‘giants’ started small.

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A lesson we can take from their growth story, and continued success, can be summed up in a single word: “Focus” Successful companies get clear on:
Who they are best set up to serve
What they offer
Why people want it & what people are really buying (remember people do not buy what you sell - they buy what it does for them)

Clarity bring focus. One of the best tools to help focus marketing and sales efforts is The Awnsoff Matrix. 

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Use the above matrix to decide which strategy will best suit your growth plans and then aim to be the best at what you do in that space. Owning a space requires clarity on what you say “yes” to and saying “no” to a lot of options.

Where will your your company excel? What strategy is best for your team to use with your client base? Would you be best trialling a few options/strategies and seeing which is the most successful?

Chart your path. Travel the course. Check in on progress – Review. Improve. Become the best at what you do for the people you are best set up to serve.

Sales Skills Are Core Skills

Can you sell?

What one skill would help you sell more?

How much could a core sales skill be worth to you and your organisation?

Provocative questions and statements are a great way to stir people up and heighten engagement. One of my favourite questions is, “What is the most important department in this business?” In a world of equality and ‘equal rights’ etc, that can get people quite animated! Then I state, and argue, that it must be sales because if you do not sell something no other role is required.

Irrespective of your stance every business acknowledges they need sales. Who's responsible for sales in your business? Do you have a “sales mindset” that defines your culture or is sales the domain of one or two individuals or a department?

Know WHY I should buy from you!

Of all sales confidence killers, there is one to watch for. Its danger lies in the fact that it is so common, people become comfortable in its presence. It is easy to fix. Yet it remains and festers over years, through companies, permeating and draining teams until they succumb to such normality that they do not stand apart. What is this crippling malaise that brings such despair? A lack of an answer to one simple question.

How Product Knowledge Affects Sales

When I want anything to do with cell phones I go to see Michael at 2 Degrees in the Palmy Plaza. I often have to wait to see him as he is the most popular sales rep. It is worth the wait as he “knows his stuff”. Can you relate to this - having a sales rep worth waiting for, your own “go-to” person?

How many people would see you as the “go-to” person?

We exist to Sell

It really is very simple. If you want to be in business you need to sell.

Sales is not just a front end exercise performed by the sales team. If you want to succeed, it becomes vital to realise that sales needs to be so much more than just the collection of the order. The customer experience is determined by their first contact, by the ease of paying, by the manufacture/delivery of the product and/or service.

Hit the phones, the street, the database

Do your sales have a pumping heart?

Do you have a reliable circulatory system?

Are you feeding and nurturing the heart of your business?

Without sales you do not have a business. In some way, shape, matter, kind or form, people need to hear about your offering and care enough to want a piece of it and/or be a part of it. This article has 6 keys to feeding your funnel (skip to the end if you do not have time to read). There are 3 key parts to feeding sales -