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 and 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 this have to do with selling? Good salespeople supposedly thrive under pressure, to which I again say baloney! or at least, “depends on the kind of pressure,” and this leads us to why the origin matters.
As noted, the origin of this concept comes from sports. 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…)
Organizations 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 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.
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 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…)
36 years ago, after putting it off as long as possible, I entered Professor Keston’s classroom to begin a year of required statistics. A year! Tried to sit in back but those seats were already taken by other psych-major-math-phobes. With dread in my heart, I took a seat near the front. By the time I successfully passed the final I was forever changed. (more…)
Few people are aware that Rod Mckuen, Emily Dickinson and Theodor Geisel were in sales before they hit it big as poets. Let’s honor their hidden legacy — and have some fun — with a sales poetry slam. Be it in iambic pentameter, haiku, limerick or free verse, add your own using the comments.
Oh, silent prospect
These prospects like me, of that I’m sure
We think, it depends and we offer so much more. We think, we prefer strategic relationships or sell on price, lose on price. In other words, we want to have a different conversation than the prospect does. Here are tips for doing that, starting with some things to avoid. (more…)
“Qualifying” is how you figure out how hot of a prospect you’ve got. Using it wisely prevents frustration and highlights your best opportunities. But it’s not all about you. Qualifying also helps develop strong business rapport with prospects and paves the way for a great business relationship.
A truly hot, fully-qualified prospect is one that:
Consultants who must also sell often experience a number of challenges. Let’s tackle them one by one.
Discomfort With the Sales Role
If our picture of “selling” includes a pushy unprofessional person who cares mostly about their own wallet… It’s no wonder we don’t want to take on that role. Fortunately, that’s an outmoded image no one need take on. The perfect sales approach for consultants is “consultative” selling:
Uncovering each prospect’s wants, needs and interests. And then – when appropriate – offering services and products to meet those wants, needs and interests.
Too Much Consulting, Too Little Selling
This issue is part nomenclature and part…well, part conceit (not that yours truly is personally familiar with that). Here’s the scoop:
Normally, consultants ask questions to gather information to assess the situation. In selling this is called “uncovering wants, needs and interest.” That’s a matter of nomenclature. Once consultants recognize how to apply these familiar skills they’re part way to success.
After some sort of informal assessment, most consultants then give general or high level advice. They talk about how they would solve the problems, improve the situation, help reach objectives. In selling this is called “presenting.” Again a matter of nomenclature but here is where many consultants run into difficulty.
Consultants can get so caught up in showing off their marvelous advice-capacity, they forget the deal is not yet set. They leave the meeting feeling great—then crash when the “client” doesn’t come through with a contract, after all.
There is another problem to bring up before covering how to address the above issues. (more…)
Read “Rating Prospects” first. Otherwise these tips will make no sense. (more…)
There are many different ways to organize sales conversations. I teach and use variations of the one you see below. Its major parts are shown in caps with a bit of explanation below each. See other articles for more on certain elements, and on how to manage selling over several conversations. (more…)
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…)
I didn’t get a sales job I really wanted. In the interview, my potential boss said he was looking for people with a fire in their belly. I think in my answer I blew it. How could I have shown him that I have that fire?
Shawn says: (more…)
A Definition: Selling versus Marketing
Many people use “marketing” as a euphemism for selling but they’re really two different things. Understanding the difference helps set appropriate expectations, which helps prevent frustration. Understanding the difference also helps focus your efforts. Last but not least, understanding the difference prevents behaviors that send prospects running in the other direction. (more…)