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For Managers Category

Coaching Tool Review: Refract

I’m often asked to recommend a tool managers can use to coach inside sales reps based on actual calls and demos. One such tool is Refract. After receiving a thorough demo, I recommend Refract be included on your list for exploring potential fit. In addition to the basics, here are the strong points that jumped out for me:

Transcribe Voice to Text / Jump from Text to Voice

I start here because Refract offers an impressive set of features in this area. I won’t list all of them because each user is likely to find different features valuable. That said, there are less well-known reasons why these features can be valuable and I’ve covered these near the end of the review.

Conducive for Longer Sales Calls and Demos

Though a manager can certainly listen through entire calls or demos, a number of Refract’s features allow us to essentially scan the call or demo for key words or phrases. The manager can then jump to that portion of the call to dig in a bit more. (more…)

Fine Tunes for Benefit Statements

Benefit statements are a staple of sales and customer service. This article focuses on some of the nuances, including tips for teaching others to create their own benefit statements.

Reminder: There are myriad ways to express benefits but they fall into just six categories: convenience, save money, increase money or value, peace of mind, appeal to image, fun/enjoyment. (See this article for more refresher.)

Features Usually Come in Sets

We tend to start with the product/service, identify its features, and build benefit statements for each feature. This is an excellent way to learn the skill; however, feature-and-benefit, feature-and-benefit… can backfire in real life. To illustrate: (more…)

How to Add Power to Benefit Statements

Features and benefits: a sales and service basic, right? Yes, expressing benefits is a fundamental skill but that doesn’t mean pros don’t need refreshers. Here’s a mini-lecture on why working on benefit statements is a good idea:

There are now more opportunities for expressing benefits. We’re communicating via text and chat and email and webinar and social media, as well as on the phone and in person. Repeatedly using the same benefit statements makes them flat and ineffective.

Benefits can get fuzzier as we keep up with lingo changes. “Interventions” become “solutions” and even morph into “disruption.” As we alter our language, we can forget not just how to express the actual benefit, but how to identify it in the first place. For example: We’ve provided solutions to business owners for twenty years. Okay, twenty years is the feature – easy peazy. Now tell me, what’s a benefit of all that experience?

Mini-lecture over. Here’s the refresher. (more…)

Phone Phobia: Not Just for Old People Anymore

phone phobia(Article updated June 2017) Reports of phone phobia among younger people are still numerous. Is this scourge affecting ‘Millennials’ different from what ails older people? The answer is yes and no. The no part is that the end result is the same: not making calls, or being less successful with calling. However, the reasons behind fear of phone are indeed different for younger people. Resolving those concerns sometimes requires a slightly different approach, too.

Surprise: It’s Not About Attitude

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say everyone born in or after 1985 is “younger.” Everyone else, moi included, is “older.” That younger group includes Millennials, who are often described as having self-centered or entitled attitudes. Describing younger generations as having a poor attitude is a tradition that’s been around for…well, millennia. The presumptions rarely hold true and in this case are also irrelevant. What makes phone phobia different for younger people is what happened in 2003: Do Not Call laws went into effect.

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Do You Suffer from Quarter-end Choke?

It’s mid-March, mid-June, mid-September, or worst of all: late November. Your sales numbers are not where you want them to be. Hot prospects have cooled off. Your manager is pushing like mad. You feel like your brain and confidence are crawling through thick mud.

That, my friends, is supposedly a choke, to which I say baloney! To understand why it’s baloney, and how to avoid the situation, we have to start with the origins of a “choke.”

The Origin of “Choking Up” in Sales and Why it Matters

Like many other sales performance concepts, to “choke” comes straight from sports. The idea is you’re competing in a game. The score is close, you (or your team) are behind or ahead by just a little bit. What’s key to the concept is there’s no sense of an inevitable win or loss, instead, there’s pressure surrounding the game. To “choke” is to be so nervous under that pressure your performance suffers and you lose.

What does that have to do with selling? Good salespeople supposedly thrive under pressure. That’s true. However, there are all kinds of pressure, which leads us to why the origin of this particular pressure (sports) matters.

That there are many other sales concepts which come from sports does not overcome this singular fact: selling is not a sport. Embracing that reality is step one in handling the challenge of trouble at quarter-end. (more…)

Comprehensive Marketing and Selling

sell-the-sameOrganizations often say they want a comprehensive or consistent approach to marketing and selling. Their various business groups often say they need something unique. Here’s a look at which things should be the same—and which should not.

Use the Same Basic Definitions

An organization that speaks the same language has good communication and consistent expectations—which feed strong performance. Language involved with ‘marketing’ and ‘selling’ should start with which is which. Here are definitions that fit no matter the department or how simple or complex the products and services:

  • Marketing is the stuff we do proactively to gain prospects’ attention, and regain customers’ attention. Marketing tools include advertising, email, mail, calling, social media (to name just a handful).

Marketing also includes responding to inquiries from prospects and customers. This includes responding when someone calls us, emails us, or walks in and asks for information.

  • Selling begins once the prospect or customer has agreed to discuss the fit between what they want and what we have to offer. Selling does not begin unless and until we have that agreement. This is true even when someone has approached us: just because they’ve got questions, that doesn’t mean we have that agreement.

Why Agreement is the Best Line

No matter how sophisticated or simple the products and services, an assumptive approach generates problems. Using agreement as the gate means employees need to ask for a sales conversation, which helps prevent assumption from the start. (more…)

Rating Prospects: Selling

Rating SystemHow likely is this deal to close? What percentage would you attach to that? What does the pipeline look like?

Rating prospects helps you project new business and highlights where you should focus your efforts. Unfortunately, many rating systems and CRM pipeline features don’t really help you do that. Here are common approaches that don’t work well — and what to do instead. (more…)

PowerPoint vs. Word: Choosing Well

read mysteryPowerPoint is often the program of choice for creating any ole document — and often the wrong choice. For more about how we acquired this bad habit and why you may want to break it, see this article. This article provides tips on which program to use for what.
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Why to Fight PowerPoint’s Power

Nap by powerpointThis article is not meant to bring the news PowerPoint tends to induce boredom—we all know that—it’s about why that happens. The inspiration is the many organizations which use PowerPoint for almost every sort of document, even though that’s less productive and most people dislike seeing it.

So how did we get to this sad state? Here’s what I think got rolling when PPT came out:

First of all, creating and decorating decks was fun. It was suddenly easy to insert spiffy clipart, add color, make text into neato shapes–kind of a business version of playing with crayons and a coloring book. It’s still fun to create and decorate slides, so much so we often forget about meaningful and effective content.

Secondly, the deck presentations were impressive. When PPT came out back in the early 1990’s, audiences were rightfully wowed. Beautiful backgrounds, fancy charts, slides that seemed to move. Zowie. The PowerPoint habit lives on, even though most people are now unimpressed and many decks are crammed with text. Which brings us to the biggee…

PowerPoint dropped the bar for acceptable writing quality to an unprecedented low. All you needed to write was headlines and bullet points–didn’t even need full sentences. This is still true and I have a hunch it’s one of the main reasons PowerPoint is still prevalent and so often used inappropriately.

The Power of a Bad Habit

A quarter-century after PowerPoint hit our PCs, many who reluctantly use it say they do so because it is expected (it’s an organizational norm). Some say they use it because it supposedly helps them quickly produce a deliverable. Here is why that speed is a myth, and why breaking the PowerPoint habit is worth it. (more…)

Rating Prospects: Marketing

Rate Marketing ProspectsMarketing and selling are related but different. Accordingly, when it comes to complex products or services, we usually need two rating systems. The rating system for marketing-prospects is simple but you may need some background to understand why it’s effective, starting with the difference between marketing and selling.

Marketing vs. Selling

Marketing is what we do to gain prospects’ attention and regain customers’ attention. Marketing tools include calling, mail, email, and web-based marketing. Selling begins after a prospect has agreed to explore the fit—we’re not selling unless and until we have that agreement.

The rating system described here focuses on marketing (see this one for selling). It can be applied to:

  • Prospects you have not yet connected with.
  • Prospects you’ve connected with and that’s about it.
  • Prospects who said they may be open to exploring the fit but not now.
  • Prospects who have agreed to have a sales conversation but that has not yet occurred.

There are four things to note before I cover the rating system itself. (more…)

How to Save the World with Post-its

How to Save the World with Post-itsThink that’s a lofty title? Using the Post-it method, you can tap your creativity, focus effectively, plan and follow through brilliantly, and even sleep better at night. Who knows what that might lead to?

The method is perfect when you need to create a report, paper, plan, presentation or proposal. It’s a great tool to use when you want to reinvent or refocus or regroup.

It’s ideal when you need to get a handle on preparing your organization to roll out new products, comply with regulations, or handle a merger. Same goes for marketing strategy or scheduling the timing to apply the strategy.

The Post-it method is effective when you want to create a work aid, and vital for creating training programs or comprehensive curriculum.

If you need to determine what to delegate and what to do yourself, when you’re not sure which resources you have and which you need to locate – start with the Post-it method.

You can use it to figure out what should be on your vacation to-do list. If the moving parts in the move-Dad project have been keeping you up at night, the Post-it method can give you some peace.

The method helps you prepare for questions and objections. You can use it to figure out website navigation. When you have a decision to make and the good old pros and cons list isn’t cutting it, upgrade to the Post-it method.

Those are just some of the situations for which the method is the perfect tool. Here is why it works so very well: (more…)

The Post-it Method Step-by-Step

Materials:

You need a bunch of Post-its and something to write with.

It helps to use just one size and one color Post-it. However, that’s not vital — use what you have as long as they are large enough to write on. (But do not plan to use different colors or sizes to organize, prioritize, and so on because that will be counter-productive.) (more…)

Why Making Calls in Class Does Not Work

Someone recently asked me why Savage and Greene cold calling training does not include torturing students by forcing them to make cold calls in front of all of their peers. Well…I slightly edited their question but you get the idea.

The short answer: Making calls does not have the desired effect (not even close) and wastes a ton of time better-spent on things that will help students succeed. The longer answer is shown below, including a bit of fascinating history. (more…)

Recording Calls in Training

“Instead of having participants make calls, we’re interested in having two or three calls made and recording them so they can be analyzed and discussed in training.”

That seems like a reasonable compromise but the bottom line is an even stronger “no” because recording involves the issue of consent.

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Tips for Using the Rating System

Read “Rating Prospects” first. Otherwise these tips will make no sense. (more…)

How to Hold Great Meetings

Meetings can be a colossal waste of time. Here are tips for avoiding that, especially for sales and service team meetings held on a regular basis. (more…)

The Incentives Trap

Do you pay your sales or service reps “incentives”? Are you working on strengthening your sales culture? Here is some insight into how one can undermine the other. (more…)

Good Reasons to Hold Meetings

Everyone knows that holding meetings is the absolute best way to promote productivity, right? Ha! Most meetings are a waste of time.

Meetings that waste time usually falter in two areas: There’s no real objective or set of objectives, and the meetings are not conducted effectively. This article tackles potential objectives for sales meetings in particular. Tips for conducting effective meetings in general will be covered in a separate article. (more…)