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5 Little Tips to Perfecting Your Sales Approach

Jeff Cochran

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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.

Ways to Ensure Employee Retention

Jeff Cochran

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For most employers, recruiting new hires is easy. The problem comes when the same employees want to quit once they’ve worked for you only a few months or even weeks. If you struggle with employee retention, you aren’t alone. It’s a tough market for employers as well as employees, but there are things you can do to improve retention. Today, we’ll discuss why employees quit and how you can keep them from doing it.

Why Employees Quit

For every hundred employees, there are a hundred reasons to quit. According to the experts, though, the top reasons most people quit include:

  • Lack of trust. Your employees will quit if they don’t feel you treat them as adults. Stringent penalties for being five minutes late, managers constantly looking over their shoulders, or surprise meetings where they’re quizzed on performance all make employees anxious and frustrated. Most people work hard to get their jobs, and they deserve to be trusted to do what you hired them for.
  • Lack of vision. Walt Disney got the idea for Disneyland while watching his kids ride a carousel – he wanted to create a place where children and adults could have fun together. Disney had a gift for sharing his vision and getting others to believe in it. If your employees don’t know why they’re with you, they’ll leave.
  • Lack of people skills. Employees want to know you’re listening. If you ask for suggestions in a meeting, take them to heart. Don’t interrupt when a worker talks to you. Remember names and faces, and ask friendly questions.

How to Retain Employees

Now that you know why people leave jobs, you might wonder how to keep them. Most business owners agree on a few key strategies, including:

  • Know your numbers. How high is your turnover rate? What time of year do most employees leave? What departments have the highest and lowest turnover? These numbers will show you where you need to improve.
  • Look for stressors. The workplace itself is stressful, but some jobs are more demanding than others. For example, doctors, police officers, teachers, and pastors are all particularly vulnerable to burnout. Find your company’s specific stressors. Are they confined to certain departments? Pinpoint the stress and invite employees to help you address it.
  • Evaluate the hiring process. Who are you hiring and why? Many potential employees get discouraged because interviews focus on personality and “soft skills,” not the skills they need to do the job. Strike a balance between professional and personal.

How to Respond to 7 Common Sales Objections

Jeff Cochran

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One of the most terrifying words in the English language is ‘NO.’ It’s the spoken expression of rejection, and it can really sting. For those who work in sales or jobs that involve heavy amounts of negotiation, and interpersonal communication the word ‘NO’ sounds like a death sentence. And a long-term string of NO’s can turn into a situation that does more than just sound like a death sentence. Human being communicate with each other all day long. Our capacity for language is what distinguishes us as a species. But, because it comes naturally to us, many of us tend to take it for granted.

Those of us who have an aversion to hearing the word ‘NO’ need to stop doing that. Really elegant communication skills are an art form, something that requires practice, study, and long-term cultivation. For people who work in sales and negotiation jobs, communication is their bread and butter. The following infographic outlines a few of the ways people say ‘NO.” It also includes some of the techniques we teach in our corporate sales training and sales negotiation training programs, to ensure that ‘NO’ is not the last word in the conversation.

INF--7-most-common-Sales-Objections-AUG-19-2015 (1)

What Are Sales Enablement Tools, and How Do They Work?

Jeff Cochran

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Automation software can be greatly beneficial for sales and marketing professionals. Not only does it make sales processes and marketing campaigns easier to design and launch, but it can enable a sales team itself. A variety of sales enablement tools exist, each offering a different way to manage your sales and marketing team. Here’s how a bevy of sales enablement tools can help you gain real insight into your customers and empower your teams to sell.

Go Beyond Leads

Most sales and marketing departments use sales enablement tools for generating leads. Some go beyond that and use these tools to follow up with prospects, as well. But sales enablement tools have the potential to do more. In fact, using their data collection capability, you can gain insights on your buyer and mitigate a lot of legwork.

Gain Insight 

Sales enablement tools let you collect deep pools of data for developing buyer insights. You can find out who has buying power in a certain company, what their company challenges are, and what industry trends are influencing their behavior. This type of data, paired with market research, gives you the information you need to empower your sales team. Enablement tools like Amacus automatically collect and analyze data like this and display real-time sales analytics.

Stay in Front of Your Customers

Following up with your prospects and providing them with valuable content keeps you in the forefront of their minds. Content marketing is a great way to do this across a variety of channels. You can keep your customers up to date with social media, e-mail newsletters, and blog posts. However, some busy sales teams might not have time to dominate all these channels.

Platforms like LogicBay help you create and optimize multiple sales channels and manage individual leads. Likewise, Eloqua by Oracle is marketing automation software that optimizes both sales and marketing efforts. It analyzes prospect behavior and delivers it in a way you can use to launch new campaigns and improve old ones.

Manage Your Sales Team

Some enablement tools put everything you need to manage a sales team right in your hands. Help your sales team perform like they are meant to with coaching tools, best practice policies, call management, and playbook development. The PlayBoox platform, and other platforms like MindMatrix, let you manage the processes and tools you use to run your sales team efficiently. These platforms offer insight as to what material you need at any given point in the sales cycle, and they then help you develop them.

Using a combination of these tools, you can manage every step of the sales cycle. From lead generation to prospect nurturing and follow up, and even managing sellers themselves, sales enablement tools give you full control.

Sources:

http://www.docurated.com/all-things-productivity/top-54-sales-enablement-tools

http://www.customshow.com/sales-enablement-best-practices-solutions/

https://salesenablement.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/work-in-progress-list-of-sales-enablement-vendors/

 

The 5 Worst Negotiation Tactics and How to Avoid Them

Jeff Cochran

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Of all the negotiation tactics used over the centuries, there are some that stick out as being particularly low-down and dirty. At Shapiro Negotiations, we offer negotiation training that focuses on productive and mutually beneficial tactics, but not all negotiators have the courage to negotiate with integrity. Knowing how to handle nasty tactics when you encounter them is vital for novice negotiators. Here are a few of the most common bad negotiation tactics and how to avoid them.

  1. Exaggerating future sales growth. Some negotiators, in an attempt to make their company more intimidating or more appealing for a partnership, will lie about their estimated future sales growth. The way to combat this is simple: do research. If you come prepared with copies of their past growth records, then you can nip this strategy in the bud.
  2. Pretending to back out. This is a somewhat childish but unfortunately still effective attempt to persuade other negotiators to cave to their demands. By making it seem like their company is no longer interested, negotiators hope to force opponents to offer better deals to bring them back to the table. Recognize this farce for what it is, and call the negotiator’s bluff. Retract your offers, and if his company is truly not interested, you can find better deals elsewhere.
  3. Withholding important information. Negotiations are most effective when everyone at the table has all of the information they need. If you are negotiating a corporate buyout, for example, you need to have all of the sales information for the company you are buying. If your fellow negotiator withholds that information or other important documents, you may end up making a bad deal. Do not be afraid to be direct with your questions, and accept nothing less than a straight and complete answer.
  4. Faking offense at typical questions. When you ask direct questions about a company’s finances or sales success, your opponent may act offended and insulted. In all likelihood, he or she is simply trying to avoid answering the question. With the right corporate sales training, negotiators should be prepared for all business-related questions, and if someone takes pains to avoid giving an answer, you should be wary of them.
  5. Demanding last minute changes. Do not give in to last minute demands; they are often nothing more than a ploy to take advantage of your surprise. When you have settled the stipulations of an agreement, stick to them and do not change them just to keep the other negotiator in the game. If the other company is successful in making minute demands before entering into an agreement, then they will try to take advantage of your company again in the future.