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Retail Sales Training: What it Takes to Succeed in Retail Sales

Cameron Johnson

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Working as a salesperson in retail has evolved into a very unusual profession. When people walk into a store, it’s a fair assumption that they would like to buy something. Otherwise, they wouldn’t really have any reason to enter the store. Ironically enough, though, many people will do everything in their power to avoid engaging a salesperson. They will avoid eye contact, “casually” wander into a different part of the store, or sometimes, just turn around and walk right back out the door.

It turns out that people typically do want to buy something when they enter a store—but they don’t want to be sold to. For centuries people have been bombarded with images and stories of the crooked salesman. And, even the salespeople that don’t have shady intentions, are portrayed as being a “hassle.” How often do you go into a clothing store looking for something in particular and tell the salesperson you are “just looking” in response to his/her offer to help you?

So how does a good salesperson succeed? How can you sell something to someone who doesn’t want to be sold to? What can sales workers do to go beyond the negative stereotypes and help their customers to walk out the door satisfied with their purchase?

While some parts of finding success in retail sales come naturally, there are other skills that can be taught and honed through retail sales training. Our team at Shapiro Negotiations can help you and your team to develop these skills and so that not only will you be able to make the sale—your customer will be happy with their purchase.

So what are some of the skills your team will want to develop to be really successful in sales?

Sincere Customer Service

One of the most important skills any retail salesperson can develop is customer service. After years of distrust, most customers are wary of salespeople. In some instances, they see the salesperson as their adversary, someone who is trying to sell them something that they don’t want to buy.

Part of a salesperson’s job is to convince the customer that they are not, in fact, an adversary who is trying to convince them to buy something they never wanted. Instead, the salesperson is an ally and a facilitator. The salesperson is there to help them buy something they do want. Considering the fact that they have already taken the first step of walking through the door, this is a fair assumption.

When working with customers, be sincere. The minute a customer suspects that a salesperson is trying to manipulate them, they will snap a wall into place. Once this happens, any potential sale essentially becomes a lost cause.

Communication

When we are trying to convince someone of a point, the natural tendency is to talk more. After all, the more a salesperson talks, the more of a positive impression they can give of their product. If the salesperson talks enough, the customer is sure to by, right?

Hardly. A successful salesperson listens more than talks. In order to better determine what the customer wants, it is important for them to ask sincere, probing questions. As it becomes clear what the customer is looking for, the salesperson can then help to guide them to an appropriate choice. Dale Carnegie put it best with a short couplet in his 1936 book, How to Win Friends and Influence People: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

SNI’s retail sales training is based upon our founder Ron Shapiro’s book, The Power of Nice.  The goal is to find a situation where everyone wins. After all, if a customer walks out the door satisfied with the purchase he has made, he’s much less likely to regret the purchase and return it. Meanwhile, he is more likely to return and even recommend the store to others.

Product Knowledge

In order to convince someone that a particular product will meet their needs, a salesperson should have a solid working knowledge of that product. The salesperson serves as an expert on the product and should be able to answer any questions the customer asks. If a salesperson demonstrates that they are unfamiliar with the product they are pushing, it can seriously damage their credibility in the customer’s eyes. After all, if a salesperson doesn’t know anything about the product they are selling, then how can they honestly know that it will do the job the customer needs?

A good salesperson must be able to identify and capture the value that their product will deliver to the customer. To do so, they need to know the product backwards and forwards. The customer will naturally have objections, and a salesperson will need to overcome those objections. SNI’s trainers can instruct sales teams just how to do so through a five step process and help them to develop answers to some of the most common objections in our clients’ fields.

Industry Knowledge

A salesperson’s knowledge should go beyond just the individual products they are trying to sell. Knowledge of the industry is important as well.

By knowing about recent innovations in the industry, a salesperson can make recommendations to a customer, sometimes even beyond those that they have available to sell (see Sincere Customer Service above). SNI’s trainers can teach your team to discern what exactly a potential customer is looking for and then apply industry knowledge to direct them to products they may not even know about.

All of these skills can be significant assets when negotiating with a customer or helping to direct them to the right product. Also, keep in mind that many customers will come in seeking to use their own set of tactics to negotiate a lower price. As part of our training, SNI can teach your sales team how to recognize and respond to these tactics. For more information, contact us, and we will help you to determine how best to train your sales team so they can achieve the best results possible.

Super Bowl 2017: X Lessons in Sales From the Best Commercials

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With another Super Bowl in the books, the world can once again analyze some viewers’ favorite part – the commercials. Your sales team can benefit the most from looking back on the failures and successes of this year’s Super Bowl advertisements to more effectively reach customers.

 

Understanding the Weight of Super Bowl Ads
One thing that’s important to understand is just how much most of these companies risk with their advertising techniques. Each 30-second ad costs a whopping $4.5 million, and, of course, longer ads run an even higher tab. The successes are extremely powerful and the flops hit exceptionally hard, so every reaction should be seriously considered.

DO: Make a Powerful Statement

The best Super Bowl commercials this year (such as Budweiser and #LikeAGirl) have one thing in common – they make a statement. They’re bold, unabashed, and ready to add a lot of power behind their message. Whether it’s your own commercial or a mission statement, you have to figure out the power behind your company and run with it. Be bold and powerful about what you’re doing or what your company offers, and don’t let anyone stand in the way.

DON’T: Use Advertising Without a Plan

You can’t just throw up commercials or sales pitches without purpose. If you’re talking just for the sake of talking, it will only devalue your brand and its benefits. Always lean on having a purpose. If you don’t have a clear one, wait until you figure it out before pushing further.

DO: Make Your Brand Memorable

People remember things that are unique. You must make your products and services stand out against a host of competitors. Figure out what it is that sets you apart and cling to it. Different might be a bit intimidating, but it can definitely be a golden ticket.

DON’T: Go Too Far

Uniqueness and memorability are vital, but you must remember to keep things in line with your company beliefs. Often, things like excessive vulgarity may help potential customers remember you, but in a negative way. Salespeople should never tarnish or devalue brand promises just to make a deal. Find your purpose and pursue it, but don’t go too far.

DO: Back Up Every Claim or Pitch

If you’ve been spending time saying you’re the best, make sure you’re ready to prove it. Whatever your purpose, you need to have skill and passion to follow up your claims. Some of the biggest Super Bowl flops are those in which the commercial was better than the brand itself.

Lessons From the Avengers: How to Assemble a Super-Powered Sales Team

Cameron Johnson

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If we’ve learned anything from the rampant success the Avengers movies continue to see, it’s that if you pull together the right group of individuals, anything is possible. But it’s not just a matter of putting a bunch of talented people into the same room and telling them to do something amazing. It requires the right people with the right abilities and the right training, plus a dash of that secret sauce that turns a group of strangers into a team.

As you learn how to build a sales team, you’ll face some of the same challenges. Sure, you’re not trying to stop an alien force from destroying New York or fighting a megalomaniac robot with the charisma of David Spader, but you still want a group of people who know how to work together and produce results. You’ll need to assemble team members who have the right mix of influence training and natural-born talent to convince customers that they’re making the right decision when they choose to do business with your company. So let’s take a page out of Nick Fury’s handbook and have a look at some of the lessons the Avengers can teach about putting a team together.

Spoilers from the movies may follow.

Lay out and prioritize your requirements

Before you even start recruiting, you need to determine what exactly your sales team is missing and how you can fill those gaps. In order to find the right people to fill out your team, you have to know just what you’re looking for, whether that’s someone who can quickly understand customers and make a connection, someone who knows the product backwards and forwards and can recite intricate specs from memory, or a viking god with a billowing cape and the power to control lightning.

Personality

You want your team to be able to work well in a wide variety of circumstances. If one team member is trying to hog the spotlight and take sales away from another, it leads to bad blood. A team needs to be able to function as a team, and they need to be willing to place the team’s goals first.

At the same time, not just any temperament is cut out for sales. You need teammates who are willing to put themselves out there and chase down leads. They have to want to go out there and actively sell your product. You can usually determine whether an interviewee has the right personality when you meet them, but a DISC profile assessment can also be a helpful tool as you choose members for your team.

Experience

Experience is one of the most effective teachers you can find, but it’s not always the first requirement in sales. In fact, it’s generally a good idea to have a wide range of experience on your team. Team members who have been working in the field a long time have often learned which techniques tend to work and which don’t. Meanwhile, team members who lack experience also haven’t had time to develop any bad habits and can bring fresh new perspectives with them.

Skills

Different workers have different skill sets, whether inborn or trained, and you want to fill out your team with a variety so your workers can handle different situations. Recognize which skills are just a part of who a person is and which can be taught. Sales and influence training can boost an employee’s effectiveness more than you might assume, but the person has to be willing to learn.

Build an effective hiring process

Once you’ve figured out the type of people you need to fill out your team, you need to lay out a plan for how to attract and recruit those people. In the case of Mr. Stark and Captain Rogers, SHIELD sent in a grizzled veteran with an eye patch and a wicked scar to talk to them about the “Avengers Initiative.” Meanwhile, Dr. Banner’s rage issues required a lighter touch in the form of a visit from a femme fatale who could manipulate even the most hardened criminals—and could handle herself in a tight spot, if necessary.

Fortunately, the team you’re putting together probably doesn’t include an enormous, green rage monster, but you still need a plan of attack that will bring in the right people.

Searching for candidates

Without a vast network of satellites orbiting the earth, you’ll need to resort to more mundane search tactics. There are several different ways to go about your hunt for new sales candidates.

Putting out ads and posting on job search sites provide a quick way to circulate the word that you are looking to hire, and it reaches a wide range, while referrals and recruiting events can help to bring in specialized applicants who will actively get things done.

Advertising

Placing ads in newspapers and on job boards is one of the fastest ways to reach a broad audience, but it also contains the least amount of pre-screening. If you have the time and resources to invest in weeding out the less-qualified candidates, though, chances are you’ll have a wide variety of options to choose from in order to best suit your team. Posting on LinkedIn has the added benefit of looking through a candidate’s online profile for qualifications that may get missed in the basic application.

Referrals

These referrals can come from current employees, people with whom you do business, family members, or friends. As long as the recommendation comes from someone whose opinions you trust, referrals are basically a way to have your candidates pre-screened to some degree before you even interview them.

If you want to encourage your current workforce to submit referrals, be sure to create some incentives so they’ll be more likely to do so.

Recruiting events

Job fairs and other recruiting events provide a lot of candidates for a relatively low investment. People who attend recruiting events are typically hungry for work, but other companies seeking to build their own sales teams will be actively competing for the same candidates. Show what sets your company apart from others and why the best candidates would want to join your team.

The interview

Just about anyone who has searched for a job before can tell you that it’s the employee’s first chance to make a good impression, but don’t forget that the same goes for you. If you want the best people to work for you, then show them why they want to work for you. Try to predict the types of questions they will ask beforehand and have answers prepared.

Remember that job applicants are basically trying to sell you something during their interview—themselves. Keep an eye out for just how they do that and take note of things like the way they present themselves, their body language, their grooming, and just how comfortable they seem to be with you. If they seem overly aggressive and pushy with you during the interview, they likely will be the same with your customers. If they feel more natural and genuine in their interest, they will likely be better equipped to put customers at ease.

Continue to hone your team, even after you hire

Sometimes, even after going through the process of searching for and hiring a candidate, you may realize that someone is just not the right fit for your team culturally. If you notice that a team member is having trouble working with your other team members, you may need to step in and make some changes. Extra training might be in order. If things don’t improve, you may need to let a team member go and replace them.

Emphasize ongoing training

While a state-of-the-art training facility in upstate New York—fully equipped with the best tech money can buy—may not be in your budget, you still need to make sure that your team members have their instincts honed and are ready to take on any situation. By regularly putting your team through sales and negotiation training, they can learn and refine the skills they need when they talk to customers and pull in that hard sale.

Proper sales training isn’t just a “do it once and then you’re good” sort of thing, and it’s definitely not just something you do when you need to fix a problem. Proper negotiation is a process rather than an event, and negotiation training is no different. Once you spot a problem, the time for training has probably already passed! Training is an opportunity for your team members to develop new skills and sharpen the ones they already have. After you have a big professional sales training event, continue to hold regular, smaller trainings among your team to keep the things your team has learned fresh in their minds. Encourage your team to teach and learn from each other, and as your team grows and evolves, hold additional formal training events, like those Shapiro Negotiations offers, to build your team’s skill base and fortify other skills they’ve learned.

Don’t skimp on the manager

For the most part, Nick Fury wasn’t on the front lines, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t know how to handle himself in an explosives-riddled car chase against a dozen heavily-armed HYDRA agents. Your team’s manager should be familiar with each of his team member’s capabilities and know in which situations to deploy each. The manager needs to understand the job better than anyone, and be able to get involved as needed.

Even when they’ve got a team of incredible salespeople, a mediocre sales manager will eventually lead to a mediocre team. A good manager knows just when to step in and encourage, where to coach salespeople and teach them new skills, and when the time is right to come back from presumed death and give an inspiring speech before the team leaves their safehouse and fights an army of killer robots on a flying island.

Encourage cooperation

Team members need to be able to work together. Some sales managers operate their teams under the facade that having their salespeople constantly competing hones their “killer instinct,” but that wastes a lot of potential and can eventually lead the team to implode. Some healthy competition is fine in sales, but team members should still put the group’s needs ahead of their individual wants. Otherwise,  it starts with a disagreement over a sale, and eventually, your two best team members are leading opposing factions, throwing explosive trucks at each other while the new guy grows to the size of a small office building and tears the wings off an airplane.

… Well.

Okay, so it probably won’t reach that point, but pitting your team members against each other all the time can still lead to bad feelings and worse results. Emphasize the fact that your sales team is just that—a team. Customers can tell when there are bad feelings between workers, as well, and it gives off an unpleasant feeling when teammates are trying to undermine each other. They’re all on the same side, and by working together, your team can achieve some pretty incredible results.

Once you learn how to build a sales team and then pull together the right group of people, anything is possible. Whether you’re trying to save the world or save your business, you want the best team you can put together fighting by your side. So bring in the right people. Give them strong leadership to point them in the right direction. Make sure they’re equipped with the best resources and the best training you can give them. Keep them focused and working together on the same goals.

Then maybe, after a hard, successful day in the trenches together, go out and grab some shawarma as a team.

Six Tips to Nail Your Sales Position Interview

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Interviewing for your dream sales position is no different than making a sales call. Remember that you are your product, and you are making the pitch. Here are six tips to help you close the deal:

1. Dress for the Occasion

You get only one chance to make a first impression, or so the saying goes. It turns out this saying has scientific proof behind it. A study the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology published may surprise you. It found that interviewers take 15 minutes to cut a candidate. What can a candidate do to make a good impression in those 15 minutes? Show up to your interview well groomed and well dressed. Your clothes don’t need to be expensive, but they need to be clean and pressed.

2. Do Your Research

To be a successful salesperson, you need to know your customers’ needs. Before your interview, research the market for your industry. Read industry blogs and study the key players. Do background research about the company with which you are interviewing. You should know the product or service it sells and its customers. Educate yourself about the company’s competition. How does this company measure up against the competition?

3. Show Your Work

You are a salesperson. Now is the time to sell yourself. How was your performance at your previous position? You should have your previous sales numbers ready to show your interviewer. Hiring managers want evidence that you are great at your job. Specific numbers are more impressive than general self-praise.

4. Any Questions?

When the interview is over, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. It is a grave mistake to say no. This is the time to signal your interest in the position. Prepare a list of questions for the interviewer while researching the company. Your questions should demonstrate that you have done your homework. Make sure your questions include asking about the type of employee the company wants to hire. This creates yet another opportunity to sell yourself.

5. Ask for the Job

Interviewees may talk about their qualifications so much they forget to say they want the job. Remember, this is a sales position. Now is the time to close the deal. Make sure not to pressure your interviewer – you should never ask if you’re hired. Let the interviewer know you want the job by asking about your next steps.

6. Follow Up

Old advice tells us we should send a hand-written thank you note after the interview. That’s good advice, but we live in the digital age. Write the note if you must, but you should also write an email to your interviewer. This shows that you want the job and keeps you on your interviewer’s radar. Don’t just sit at your desk waiting for a response. You are a salesperson – go chase that sale.

How to Influence Without Being Pushy

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Sometimes leads are already interested before you start your pitch, but how you attempt to influence them will make or break the deal. There’s a big difference between influencing and selling – your audience is less likely to take your words to heart if you come off as pushy, rehearsed, or “salesy.”

When it comes to influencing people, a few key strategies will lead you to more effective interactions with more positive results. Keep the following in mind.

Build Trust

When you have rapport with other people, it’s easier to speak with them. You need to be able to reach people on a personal level while staying professional. Carefully listen to their concerns and address them fully. Try to take your resolution a step beyond what they may expect from you to show them you are acting with their best interests in mind. Find common ground and work from there. You cannot force people to do things. Instead, you should try to persuade them to want what you want.

Focus on Positives

Of course, you want to be able to relate to the other party if you want them to see things your way, but it’s important to stick to your guns while staying positive. Instead of sympathizing with their complaints, get them to focus on the positive aspects of your discussion. Demonstrate value and emphasize how they will benefit from the decision you want them to make.

Speak Naturally

You may work on your speaking technique in private, but it’s important to be prepared without sounding rehearsed. If you want to influence people, the number one way to fail is to to be unprepared and not know what you are trying to say or sound like you’re selling something or reading from a script. Speak as you would in any other conversation (again, remember to stick to your professional boundaries) and be relaxed. Pay close attention to body language – both the other party’s and your own. Don’t come off as rigid, closed-off, or unapproachable. People will be more willing to converse and be influenced if it feels natural.

Generate Enthusiasm

One of the best methods of influencing others to do what you want is to demonstrate what an amazing opportunity they have and make them excited to see it happen. Generating energy and enthusiasm is a great way to get others on board with your vision and get them to see things from your perspective.

Be Adaptable

Your conversation style needs to be flexible – you can’t speak with everyone in the same way, and every interaction has unique factors that you need to consider. This is the biggest reason that maintaining a natural demeanor is important – when you lock yourself into a routine, it becomes much harder to deal with the unexpected. To influence the other party, you need to be on your toes and ready to handle any question or concern they have. .

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your next major conversation. Remember that influencing is all about getting other people to want what you want – not hammering them until they see things your way.

18 Proven Sales Tactics That Work in Any Industry

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Developing a strong sales program is the most critical aspect of any business. Without effective sales strategies, companies will not be able to compete and grow. Sales professionals must learn how to implement proven sales tactics that work.

As a sales team manager, one of your responsibilities is to provide your team with effective sales strategies that will increase your company’s profits. Effective sales processes are not just about working hard and putting in long hours. In fact, many sales teams work long and hard without experiencing results.

sales professional at work

Effective sales strategies involve employing the best strategies in the right situations. Here are 18 sales tactics that can work for sales teams in every industry.

  1. Be persistent with leads and develop the habit of following up with each customer. According to the latest sales research, 80 percent of sales transactions require 5 interactions after the first contact with a customer. Many salespeople are primarily concerned with immediate sales. If they do not get the sale at the first meeting, they silently give up and continue their hunt for the next immediate sale. However, savvy sales professionals understand that they must nurture viable leads until an action is taken. These ‘rock star’ sales professionals send emails, direct mail, make phone calls or send brochures to customers at designated intervals. By taking this action, your customers will think of you when it is time to make their next purchases.
  2. Solve your customers’ problems. Successful businesses thrive in competitive industries because they provide solutions to meet their customers’ needs. There are many sales professionals who do not fully understand their roles in the transaction. Consider this fact. As many as 70 percent of your leads are reaching out to you to solve their problems. When customers contact your sales team, your sales professionals must be able to demonstrate to them how they can quickly and easily solve their problems.
  3. Develop the ability to actively listen to customers. Customers have access to pages of information on the internet. In many instances, they may be as knowledgeable as your sales team. When sales professionals interact with knowledgeable customers, they might be tempted to talk constantly to show them that they are qualified. It is important to remind your salespeople that they should never get into a knowledge power struggle with customers. Sales professionals should always listen more than they talk. They should ask questions that probe into their clients’ thought processes and carefully consider the responses. The goal is to make customers feel as if they are respected throughout the sales process.
  4. Use polite terms when you discuss the competition. Your sales team should always strive to present themselves in a positive light and use professional language. There is nothing that screams unprofessional like using derogatory terms to discuss other people or companies. Although customers may participate in the negative conversation, bad mouthing any person or company is never a good sales tactic. If a competitor does not have a good reputation, the members of your sales team should remain neutral.
  5. Earn your referrals before you ask for them. Sales professionals know that referrals are the proverbial ‘holy grail’ of marketing. In fact, 91 percent of customers will provide a referral contact to a salesperson that they like. Before you think about asking your customers for referrals, you should focus on providing them with a quality customer service experience. During the transaction, your goal is to develop positive relationships with your customers. After you have determined that they are happy with your services, it is a good idea to pursue the referrals. When it comes to soliciting referrals, timing is important.
  6. Ask for referrals from your customers. You might not believe it but only 11 percent of sales professionals ask clients for referrals. According to this data, the majority of salespeople are leaving money on the table. Most customers are generous, and they would happily share your good customer service with friends, family members and colleagues, but you have to ask. If your sales team waits for their customers to initiate a conversation about referrals, it might never happen. Teach your sales team how to integrate referral conversations into the sales process at the appropriate time.
  7. Adhere to strict deadlines with your customers. Sales professionals must create a sense of urgency with customers, or the deals will take much longer than necessary. Changing deadlines according to the whims of each customer makes sales professionals lose credibility. The old adage, where there is a will there is a way, applies here. If customers want to meet the obligations of a transaction by the deadline, they will definitely find a way to make it happen.
  8. Develop relationships with your customers. Without customer relationships, it can seem as if you are always in the vicious cycle of trying to ‘drum up’ new business. Your past customers can be an excellent source of new transactions for years to come. When your initial transaction is completed, you do not have to end the relationship at that point. Find creative ways to keep in contact with your customers.
  9. Identify your customers’ needs and meet them. Sales professionals should never lose sight that the only purpose of the sales transaction is to help customers. Since transactions are closely associated with money, it is easy to lose sight of this fact. Create a list of questions that you can use to pinpoint exactly what the customer needs from the transaction. These questions will enable you to save time with customers and get to the heart of the matter. Once customers believe that you understand their predicament, they will work with you to meet their needs.
  10. Be able to distinguish a lead from a customer and act accordingly. Brace yourself for this disheartening fact. According to a report by Gleanster Research, only 25 percent of all leads are legitimate and ready to complete a transaction. Leads are potential transactions, and you cannot bank your future on potential. You should categorize your leads and create campaigns to interact with each type. For example, warm leads should have a different marketing strategy than cold calls. Time is a limited resource. It is best to use it wisely.
  11. Solicit targeted leads. A difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn is that every person with a pulse will not be a customer. Since this is the case, sales professionals must create a strategic plan to attract customers that fit their target markets. One way to do this is to make good use of technology to find leads that could use your services. For example, credit professionals who are targeting people who are recovering from bankruptcy can use the public record to find people who fit this profile. Once you have found your potential customers, create a customized sales pitch that will appeal to each demographic.
  12. Learn to uncover each customer’s pain points. Television advertisements are known for pushing the viewer’s hot buttons in order to get them to take action. Fear of loss is the most common pain points that advertisers address. The primary mission of every sale professional, as emphasized in our negotiation training courses, is to find a customer’s pain points and use them to their advantage. Ron Shapiro said it best when he stated, “In order to get what you want, help them get what they want.” Sales professionals can start the search for pain points by asking closed-ended questions that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. As the customer begins to feel comfortable, the salesperson should ask open-ended questions that will prompt customers to reveal additional information. Once the vital information is discovered, salespeople can use it to help their customers take action.
  13. Master the art of storytelling. When sales professionals meet with customers, they are usually armed with all sorts of facts and data. Although data may seem important, studies suggest that only 5 percent of people remember statistics after a presentation. However, an impressive 63 percent of people remember stories after a presentation. Sales professionals need to arm themselves with stories about relevant experiences of people who have received favorable results after using their products and services.
  14. Stand by your product or service and offer some type of guarantee. If your customers are willing to part with their cash, your company should at least be willing to offer a guarantee on the product or service. The guarantee can be a refund or replacement. If you are afraid of most of your customers taking you up on a money back guarantee policy, you should not be. Less than 10 percent of customers return items each year. A product or service guarantee provides your customers with peace of mind that lets them know that they are protected in the event that something goes awry.
  15. Find prospects who want the things you have to sell. The best way to navigate through water is to go with the current instead of swimming against it. In sales, going with the current means that if you are selling chicken, your leads are people who like chicken. If your prospects are vegan, then it will be nearly impossible to sell your chicken products to them. If you want to be certain that your clients need the items you are selling, you should pre-qualify them before you actively market to them.
  16. Develop compelling goals and an actionable plan. Successful people know where they want to go, and they develop an action plan to help them propel toward their destination. Goal-setting and planning are critical to any sales team’s success. According to a study conducted by Inc. Magazine, sales teams that set goals realized a 28 percent increase in sales. Teaching goal-setting strategies should be a mandatory part of every organization’s corporate sales training manual.
  17. Show customers proof that your product or service actually works. When you look at infomercials for weight loss products, they often show ‘before and after’ pictures of previous users of the products. They understand that new customers are motivated by social proof. Sales professionals should keep customer testimonials in a binder or in their laptops to share with customers. When customers are able to view the visible proof, they will be more likely to invest in your product or service.
  18. Maintain a positive mindset. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by the number of sales professionals who develop a jaded outlook because of sales slumps. Sales professionals must make every effort to remain positive in good and tough times. Developing a positive attitude has many benefits. Customers can tell when you are not in a good mood, and it will affect the transaction. A positive outlook helps sales professionals look for solutions to pending problems. When your sales professionals are positive, they will be able to handle stressful situations.

In this competitive business environment, sales professionals need to learn all the tricks of the trade in order to close a deal. By using these sales tactics that work, your sales team can learn to thrive in any economic climate.

The Pros and Cons of the Indirect Sale

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Many companies—particularly new or small firms—may wonder if there’s profit in indirect sales. The debate has been going on for many years, and any simple internet search will render countless opinions about the best business decision. Like most things, there are pros and cons that you need to examine fully before you make your choice.

Pros

  • Indirect sales channels have more visitors. Since these websites and businesses are already established, they have an existing customer base. People get exposure to your brand during their regular shopping, even if they’ve never heard about it before.
  • A sales channel can be more functional. Larger companies may have access to better programs and technology, making for a more sophisticated customer experience. You can eliminate the need to build your own website when you list products with an affiliate or on a marketplace.
  • They provide lower maintenance once established. Since you’re not in charge of the channel itself, you don’t have to worry about upkeep or updates. The initial setup may be a bit extensive, but after that, your ride may be significantly easier.
  • Expansion is at your fingertips. Working with an indirect sales channel can give you nationwide or global access Instead of having to build your own team, you can rely on their existing resources to get your brand into the far corners of the world.

Indirect sales are a clear answer for some businesses, but not others. Considering the downsides of third-party involvement is important when choosing the future of your business.

Cons

  • They’re not as passionate. Since you have your own time and money invested in your business, you want it to work. It may be a lifelong dream or even your lone source of income. But no matter how incredible your products are, an affiliate will never be as eager. They have their own companies to run, and if you want maximum drive, you’ll have to do it yourself.
  • There can be conflict. The world is full of competitors, and it may be hard to find a channel that can work for you—particularly in more heavily populated areas.
  • You have more competition. Most partners aren’t going to stock only your brand—after all, it’s less profitable for them. Customers enjoy having options, and it’s likely that the product of your hard work will be right next to its biggest contender.

With the proper relationship and platform, indirect sales can be incredible. They may reach far greater heights than you ever could alone, but it won’t come without cost. Consider all the facts and make the choice that’s best for your business.

Sales Effectiveness Guide

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sales effectiveness success

Sales effectiveness is a measurement of a company’s ability to succeed at each stage of the buying process, from the first interaction with the customer to the last. Most of the time, that interaction happens before a sales representative has even become involved, with the customer becoming engaged through marketing, or even the client’s own web search for a particular product or service.

The purpose of sales effectiveness strategies is to increase the company’s revenue through more involved processes that not only acquire new customers, but engage them, win their sales, and creates a relationship that encourages the sale of other products and services with that customer and others. Obviously, any company is going to want to increase its revenue, but sales effectiveness is crucial, and several companies have invested time and energy to boost the effectiveness of their sales processes with impressive results. With the training that Shapiro Negotiations offers, your company can achieve similar results.

Assessing Your Sales Effectiveness

sales contract

Improving sales effectiveness is best done through several multi-stage and systematic processes. The first step is, of course, to assess your team’s current sales effectiveness. According to a survey conducted by Vantage Point Performance and Sales Management Association, 44% of sales executives believe that their organization is ineffective at managing its sales pipeline. This study included 62 B2B companies, a third of which had revenues over $1 billion. There is a direct relationship between sales effectiveness and revenue, and it comes from this relationship between the sales reps, the pipeline, and sales managers.

In order to properly assess this relationship, it is crucial to create metrics to measure how effective your sales tactics are. These are ratios that quantifiably relate different aspects of the sales process to the actual revenue generated from sales. These can be sales vs. conversion rate, sales vs. win rate, sales vs. pipeline accuracy, etc. The metrics are important, and will ultimately arise from each team’s skills and perceptions of the pipeline. In a 2010 study by MASB as part of their Common Language in Marketing Project, 54% of 200 senior marketing managers found these sales effectiveness metrics to be useful.

Defining the Process

sales process

After assessing your sales effectiveness, the next logical step is to improve the actual process itself. The best way to do this is to come up with a clearly defined sales process. The sales pipeline is, after all, just a representation of a team’s strategies, and the actual structure of the pipeline is what is most important when boosting sales effectiveness.

To do this, take the time to invest in a well-defined plan of action for the entire sales process. With the Corporate Sales Training and negotiation training that Shapiro Negotiations offers, companies won’t be forced to scrap the entire process and start from the beginning. Because each course is tailored to the individual client, SNI takes the client’s existing sales platforms and improves upon them, incorporating new tools, skills, behaviors, habits, and systematic processes.Because salespeople are able to keep using the processes with which they are familiar, the training and new tools don’t disrupt their work. Instead, the training incorporates those processes and improves upon them, enhancing the process’s ROI and improving sales effectiveness across the board.

As much as the sales process should remain a formal part of the company plan, however, it is important to pay attention to the team’s dynamics and to receive input from team members. Sales is an art, after all, and many sales reps are going to be more used to judging a situation for themselves. They should still be trusted with that, but by defining the flow of pipeline, you are strengthening it, cutting the fat away from the process to optimize it for all of your employees.

By viewing sales effectiveness as a systemic relationship between each part of the business, rather than a simple equation, it becomes clear that communication is paramount. Not only should managers be trained to communicate effectively with sales reps, but different departments, marketing in particular, must be involved in the communication as well. Marketing is most often the first encounter that a customer has with the company, and it is  an integral part of sales generation. Therefore, it is helpful to promote sales objectives across departments, and to get each department invested in the success of the company as a whole.

Marketing generates sales for the sales teams, and the sales teams close on those opportunities and build connections with the customers, who will likely recommend the product or service to others. This is how the ideal sales pipeline functions, but as simple as it seems, it requires a well thought out plan of action, along with clear objectives and incentives to foster communication.

It is possible to over-engineer a process, but without any structure it will be impossible to make changes that actually improve things. Too often, while trying to increase revenue, a company will rely on software or departmental shifts that do not actually bring improvement and only serve as a symbol of progress.

By communicating with many departments, and by facilitating communication, the process will actually come to define itself. By formalizing the process further, sales reps are able to follow previously-set precedents for customer interactions of which they may be unsure, and sales leaders can follow along the pipeline, keeping up with every part of the sale. Not only that, but sales managers can build contingencies for problems when they arise and neutralize them quickly, sometimes by intervening, but ideally by training the sales reps to adequately deal with any issues that may arise.

Up-keeping and Revitalizing the Pipeline

sales funnel effectiveness

This brings up another important aspect of sales effectiveness: management training. According to that same survey from Vantage Point, 61% of sales executives claim that their sales managers are not properly trained for the positions they occupy. Obviously, it is impossible for an employee to perform a job to the expectations they are given if little, or improper, training has been given.

Management training in sales effectiveness extends beyond simply projecting sales and using CRM tools, it means acquainting the managers with the pipeline as a process and having them make decisions on a daily basis, all while closely watching their team follow the pipeline. They need to understand which step is the most crucial, determine at what their team or even particular members are especially skilled, and then utilize those features to their full potential. Not only that, they need to understand the pipeline well enough to recognize when new technology needs to be implemented, perhaps to bolster a flagging step or streamline a step that takes too long for the rewards that it returns.

Along with training the management, it is recommended that at least a few hours each month should be used to manage sales effectiveness. This can take many forms, and will usually change from month to month. If meetings are held, they should consist of more than just sales projections—they should actually ask for input on the sales pipeline from participants, as well as suggestions for improvements. This time could also be well-spent reviewing the company’s sales effectiveness through your previously set metrics, or even proposing new metrics. Whether you are using the time for meetings, review, selection of employees who are well versed in the pipeline and giving them more training, or implementing new technology, actually spending the time is what’s most important.

The Results of Proper Sales Effectiveness

According to the Vantage Point study, companies that follow these basic guidelines, especially those who defined their process, saw an increase in their sales revenue of 28%. Further, those that spent at least 3 hours a month reviewing their pipeline and sales effectiveness saw an additional 11% increase in revenue over companies that did not.

Sales effectiveness is about more than revenue, though. By increasing the efficiency of your company’s communication, you trim away wasted work, wasted ideas, and wasted time while actually creating a better environment for all employees. A critical part of managing the pipeline is getting people invested, and when the pipeline conforms to skills that your team already has and has defined ways to foster those skills if they are lacking, then the value of everyone involved rises alongside the value of the company.

Three Selling Techniques to Avoid and What to Do Instead

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Through Corporate Sales Training, you can learn that sometimes your potential clients may be interested in what you have to offer, but your demeanor turns them off. While the temptation to “go in for the kill” on an interested lead may arise, it’s important to be mindful of the image you project. Are they going to feel valued? Will they have a positive impression of your interaction that they’ll remember for future sales?

You may be surprised when you hear some of the more manipulative and underhanded sales tactics being used today. Negotiation is an art, and the compromise is the key to successful negotiation. Tricking customers won’t enhance your organization’s reputation or your own as a trustworthy salesperson. We’ve compiled a list of some sales tactics that may be tempting but which you should certainly avoid.

Bait and Switch

A customer enters a store planning to buy a promotional item, only to find it isn’t available or wasn’t depicted accurately in the advertisement. The salesperson then immediately encourages the more expensive option. While it may be tempting to try to get something into the hands of every customer who comes to your store, they’re going to leave disappointed if they can’t get what they intended to buy, and will only grow more frustrated if you attempt to upsell them on something they don’t want.

Instead, turn the interaction into a conversation. Ask them why they wanted that particular item and find out what they thought it would do for them. You can then offer something that fits their needs or correct any misunderstandings they may have had about the initial item. You may be able to turn a failed sale and frustration into a future sale. They’ll appreciate the time you took to answer their questions and address their needs, even if you didn’t have the right product at the time.

The “Flyfish” Close

This technique puts pressure on the buyer to make an immediate decision, possibly by offering a percentage discount if the item is purchased immediately. While you might assume that instant savings would appeal to buyers, customers know when you’re pressuring them into buying something they don’t need.
Rather than pushing for an immediate close, take the time to find out exactly what your customer is looking for and what you have that fits the bill. By taking the time to address their needs, they see you are more concerned with them being pleased with their purchase than you are with just making a sale.

Assuming the Sale

You want to ask for the sale, not assume you’ve made it. Using assumptive language with a customer is an excellent way to turn them off from buying anything from you again. Assuming the sale usually stems from the seller’s expectation that if the customer seems to be indicating that they’re buying something, they’re rude if they don’t. What actually happens is that the customer feels rushed.

Don’t assume that because the buyer displays interest that you’ve got the sale. Wait for them to make closing statements and ask them if they want to complete the sale. They may have lingering questions; address them fully so they can feel confident about their purchase.

 

5 Little Tips to Perfecting Your Sales Approach

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The sales profession is one of the oldest and most prolific out there. Selling products can be fulfilling and enjoyable, but finding the right sales approach is often a challenge. The wrong sales approach can ruin negotiations and keep you from getting what you need from a deal. If you need to improve your sales approach, several easy, proven tips exist.

Determine Your Audience 

What do you do best? Who needs what you do or sell? How will they use it and benefit from it? Experts agree that asking questions like these can be extremely helpful even before you’ve found one client or customer. Perhaps you are a fiction writer but you don’t know who your audience is yet. Think about the genres you like best or the characters you most often create and the story arcs they experience. Then ask yourself who is likely to read that type of story. Who can relate to these characters and why? Are there books on the market similar to yours? Answering such questions will make it easier to sell your product and create a marketing vision when a publisher asks for one.

Set Measurable Goals 

Almost everyone knows about goal-setting, but most people don’t do it correctly. They set goals like “I’m going to sell more products this year” or “I’m going to increase my productivity by 10%.” These are good starting points but they aren’t real goals. Goals should be broken down into manageable steps. Instead of saying, “I will sell more products by March,” write down how much you want to sell per month. Outline the steps that will get you there, such as the ads you will write and the social media accounts you will use. Plan how you will obtain and use customer feedback.

Use Time Wisely 

Time management is a huge obstacle for many people in sales and negotiation. We often think we have more time than we do, so we procrastinate on important matters. Examine your activities each day. Which ones need to be done immediately? Which ones can wait and for how long? What tasks are easiest and most difficult? Break your activities down using a system that works for you, and stick to it.

Listen to Customers 

Even the best listeners need help maintaining their skills. Most of us get so excited about sales or negotiations that we don’t actively listen to customers’ reactions. Ask for feedback often and utilize it. Perhaps you own a sporting goods store, and your sales are down because customers find your merchandise boring or outdated. Then listen to what the customers tell you. You’ll often find they are looking for an experience alongside the product.

Learn Strengths and Weaknesses 

Every salesperson has a special set of strengths and weaknesses. These can come from his or her personality, past experiences, and many other factors. If you don’t know what yours are, you might be inadvertently turning customers off. You can learn your strengths and weaknesses, and how to capitalize on them, through corporate sales training, conferences, and other venues.