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What Science Can Teach You About Sales

Jeff Cochran

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Selling has traditionally been an area that is conducted based on the instincts of the best salespeople. Not surprisingly, in an era of big data and the ability to analyze techniques on a massive scale, we can learn a lot about what makes those instincts right or wrong. Science can provide some important insights on what makes sales.

Offering Multiple Options

Research has shown that offering a single product for sale leads to about a 10% sales rate. However, offering two products to choose from leads to a 66% sales rate of identical items. The psychology of choosing whether to buy one item assigns a higher level of risk to the purchase. However, when two options are presented, the psychology shifts from asking “Should I buy?” to “Which one should I buy?” Take advantage of this fact to increase sales, but don’t go crazy with it! Too many options to choose from leads to decision paralysis that could kill the sale.

Mirroring Body Language

Regardless of that you are selling, your actual product is trust. Trust in the product, but more important, trust in the person selling the product. Mirroring a customer’s body language creates a subconscious rapport that inspires a feeling of trust that goes beyond the customer’s belief in the product you are selling.

A study in 2009 showed those who mirror their partner’s speech and posture were able to reach agreement 67% of the time, while those who did not only succeeded in reaching an agreement 12.5% of the time. Use this to your advantage by subtly mirroring your customer’s gestures and expressions. Again, be careful that you don’t cross the line to mimicry or come off as insincere. The subtle use of mirroring is what builds a sense of trust.

Relentlessly Improve

Stanford University conducted a study that showed those who have a mindset that they can improve their skills through hard work are more likely to be successful. The top performers have a commitment to relentlessly improve their skills, continuing even after they were at the top of their game. Embrace a way of thinking that sees failure as merely feedback guiding you to a better way of approaching a problem and commit to continuously improving your skills to take your success to the next level.

You may not have been born with the gut instincts of a top performer, but with work and insights from science, you can achieve the results of a top salesperson.

Business Lessons From Elon Musk

Jeff Cochran

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Elon Musk has radically disrupted three major industries. Just a few years ago, his plan for SpaceX to land and reuse rockets was deemed impossible by most experts. Tesla’s mission to start a new American car company focused solely on electric vehicles was considered laughable as well. Musk’s plans to dramatically transform the electric storage industry with his Gigafactory was derided as a dangerously risky scheme. Yet despite his vocal critics, Musk is making waves and effecting change.

The principles outlined below that drive Musk’s success can drive yours as well.

Dare to Attempt a Unique Solution

In every business Elon Musk has been involved with, he has brought a vision of a new way of doing things that transformed the industry. It takes courage to do more than talk about thinking outside the box. It is a lot easier to present a slightly different spin on a tried-and-true sales pitch than to dare to try something unique. Great success often comes from those willing to put in the effort demanded to make such ideas succeed.

Align Your Goals with a Higher Purpose

Elon Musk works more hours in a week than many people work in a month. Tesla and Musk’s home power packs factory are driven by his conviction that we must take drastic action to stop pollution. SpaceX was founded on the belief that we must have a sustained presence on Mars to avoid potential disaster on earth. If meeting your sales goals is just a matter of keeping the manager happy or getting a bigger paycheck, those motivations will rarely push anyone to put in the effort needed to be truly successful. When you find the higher purpose in your life and see your sales goals as a way of achieving that purpose, you will find yourself working harder and succeeding more.

Embrace Your Failures

SpaceX’s first three rocket launches ended in disaster, and Tesla almost failed as setbacks mounted. Yet Elon Musk did not just move on from failure. Rather, he openly embraced it and owned up to it. Owning up to failure is a difficult and humbling process. We often experience the most growth because of what we learn from failure. Embrace your failures and make them a part of your success in the future.

While few people have the drive and ingenuity to succeed to the extent Elon Musk has, by drawing from his approach, anyone can enjoy greater success, meet sales goals, and find new ways to expand their business.

Successful Sales Goes Beyond What You Say

Jeff Cochran

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So much of sales training focuses on what you say and how you say it that many people forget to think about body language. First impressions, posture, and microexpressions all factor into sales communications. To succeed, sales people must come across as approachable, credible, and confident.

 

Why Does Body Language Matter?

 A great product will sell itself, but it will not always eliminate the need for effective sales. Today, the average consumer can choose from at least two or three viable competitors who meet their needs in the marketplace. In these cases, the only thing standing between your company and competitors is the sales interaction.

From the moment you enter a consumer’s field of vision, you’re influencing sales – even if you never directly speak to the individual. Consider your own experience with sales and the sales people you automatically like and trust compared to those who leave you with a feeling of unease. That gut feeling of insecurity often arises from nonverbal communication cues, like a shrug here or a diverted glance there.

 

Tips for Improving Body Language

 Practice strong body language everywhere. In addition to an effective sales tool, body language can change your experience at the grocery store checkout line, when you greet your neighbors during a morning jog, and when you walk into a job interview. Actively practice a few of these techniques for a week. You may find they change your attitude, feelings of self-confidence, and your verbal communication, too.

1. Stand up straight. While appearing as a stoic and straight-backed British royal guard is unnecessary, standing up straight shows confidence and openness.

2. Practice your handshake. The handshake is not obsolete. People will still judge you for a clasp that is too tight or limp. This first physical connection can immediately impart notions of credibility and confidence to others. Make it count.

3. Stay natural and upbeat. Salespeople often exaggerate their smiles, responses, and hand gestures in an effort to come across as approachable. Consumers can easily see a fake and phony performance a mile away. You’re a unique person. Discover what works for you. Pay attention to the way you talk with your closest friends – that is your genuine self and often the best way to connect with strangers.

4. Listen actively. Avoid feigning interest. If you can’t focus on what someone says when you’re looking directly into his or her eyes, then don’t. Look up occasionally, but take notes, ask questions, and stay engaged in the dialogue first. If you focus too much on coming across as accessible, you may miss a key customer motivation.

5. Read your customers’ body language, too. While prospects are making snap judgments about you, you are almost certainly making judgments about them even if you don’t realize it. If you feel uncomfortable, insecure, or incapable of meeting the needs of a client, pass off the communication to someone who does feel comfortable.

 

Much happens in the average sales communication. Those who can balance verbal and nonverbal communication with a number of different client personalities will excel in any negotiation. Effective sales training means practicing as many body language tactics with others as you can to find the behaviors that work best for you.

How to Influence High-End Clients

Jeff Cochran

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Many business owners are so preoccupied with the task of acquiring more customers, they stop attracting the right customers. Even in the world of retail and services, sometimes quality is much more important than quantity. For many small and large businesses, high-end clients can significantly boost monthly revenue, profitability, and growth. All you need to do is know how to reach and influence them.

Step One: Mindset

Before you can start bringing in those premium clients, you must be mentally prepared. It’s not enough to just want to bring them in. You also have to believe in yourself and your product and stop any negative thoughts before they even begin. “I can’t imagine charging such a high price,” or “Who am I to work with these high-end people?” are the sort of phrases you should avoid at all costs. Identify and dispose of those thoughts, or you could end up limiting yourself from the beginning.

 

Step Two: Build a Customer Profile

Before you can target your ideal customer, you must know who they are. Building a customer profile will allow you to put yourself in their shoes and think about the sort of products and services they need and how to market to them.

Draft at least one profile (more are better), complete with demographics of the customer to whom you want to appeal. Age, income, sex, location, industry, emotional buying triggers, and company size are all things to consider. The more specific you are, the more thoroughly you’ll be able to understand their point of view.

 

Step Three: Create the Right Message

Now that you know who your ideal customers are and what they want, create a message that will appeal to them. It should communicate the feeling or ideal end-result your products or services offer. Remember, people make purchases based on their benefits and emotional appeal. Use the most effective angle for your customer profile

 

Choose Your Channels

Premium clients, in all likelihood, won’t be visiting the same channels as more mainstream consumers. Some will be reachable through online campaigns and traditional outlets, while others will rely primarily on referrals and networks. Think about how you’re likely to get to them, and focus your efforts there. It may take some mixing and matching to get the results you’re looking for, but, again, your customer profile will be helpful.

Planning ahead is the most important part of reaching premium clients. Put your effort into fine-tuning your understanding of your customers, and it’s sure to pay off.

How Sleep Deprivation Negatively Affects Your Work

Jeff Cochran

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It’s widely known that sleep deprivation negatively impacts a person physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our ability to focus, handle stress, and think clearly are all at stake. No matter what your profession, not getting enough sleep has a negative impact on your performance. But when you are a sales professional or a training manager, it doesn’t just affect you – it affects your whole team.

Here are some of the results of sleep deprivation:

* High blood pressure

* Heart attack

* Stroke

* Obesity

* Psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders

* Mental impairment

* Poor quality of life

For your health and your team’s, follow these critical steps to make sleep a priority.

Set a Bedtime Routine and Stick to It—Even on the Weekends

Prepping for bed starts early. Try to begin the process at the same time each evening. Follow these guidelines for a greater chance of success:

* Prohibit alcohol and caffeine consumption within several hours of your desired bedtime

* Exclude screen time one hour before bed

* Don’t do any exercise within three hours of when you want to sleep

* Wake up at the same time each day; don’t sleep in on weekends

Create a Restful Space

Cluttered bedrooms lead to cluttered (and restless) minds. Take some time to create a peaceful, tidy space in which to sleep. Invest in a good mattress and linens. After all, we spend about a third of our lives in bed – which justifies a more substantial investment into that part of our homes!

Consider Incorporating a Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness and meditation practices can lead to falling asleep more quickly and having better quality sleep. By managing stress and keeping you focused throughout the day, mindfulness can also improve performance in other areas.

It’s safe to say that sleep is one of the most influential factors in our daily performance. There’s no such thing as making up for lost sleep, so prioritizing it is crucial. For those in high-pressure sales jobs or people in charge of training programs, it’s even more important to take care of this easy to neglect need.

Ensure that you’re firing on all cylinders and aren’t running the risk of blowing a gasket when things get heated in the office – or when deadlines are looming. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your team. Follow the tips above, and work your way toward more restful nights and more productive days.

Six Tips to Nail Your Sales Position Interview

Jeff Cochran

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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

Jeff Cochran

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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.

The Pros and Cons of the Indirect Sale

Jeff Cochran

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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.

Three Selling Techniques to Avoid and What to Do Instead

Jeff Cochran

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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.

 

How to Negotiate with Different Genders

Jeff Cochran

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Successful negotiations often depend on how well you relate to the other person. For example, many people wonder how to negotiate with different genders. If you find yourself negotiating with people of different genders on a regular basis, there are tips you can follow to ensure everyone walks away friends.

Empathy vs. Aggression

In today’s culture, striking a balance between empathy and aggression is vital, but can be difficult. For example, women are often taught not to be assertive. They are told that assertion is the same thing as aggression and that it makes them seem uncaring. Therefore, women sometimes take an overly empathetic approach to negotiations and don’t push for what they want or need.

On the other hand, men are often taught that aggression shows strength, while too much empathy shows weakness. They are told that if they are too empathetic, they will lose negotiations, letting themselves and others down. Thus, some men “play hardball” more than they should.

The key to solving both these quandaries is to find your personal balance between empathy and aggression. To do so, analyze the type of negotiation you are in. If you want to sell a product or service to a client, for instance, you need to find points of agreement and empathize with his or her needs, rather than push for a decision.

Establishing Authority

Establishing authority is another tricky part of negotiating with different genders. Authority equals control, and exerting too much control could be seen as arrogant or demanding. Both genders tend to have a difficult time with this, although women are often more reluctant to take seats at the head of the table, make wide gestures, or use up space.

Experts agree that there are key ways men and women should establish authority without looking aggressive. For example, spread your materials out instead of keeping them in a small, neat stack. As much as possible, avoid reading from your material; this can make you look unprepared and not confident. Maintain friendly eye contact. Use silence to emphasize a point or give people time to think through what you have said.

Listen

When most people think of negotiations, they think of talking. Talking is a big part of any negotiation, but listening is even more vital. Both genders can be accused of not listening, or of using silence to plan what they want to say next. Learn how to actively listen, perhaps through professional negotiation training. When the other person is talking, maintain eye contact, nod, or say things like, “Tell me more about that” to show engagement. If you didn’t hear or understand something, be honest and ask for it to be repeated.

Don’t Bow to Stereotypes

Don’t let stereotypes influence your success in negotiations. If you are a woman who needs to be more assertive, ask for tips or assertiveness training from other women you trust. Seek opportunities to negotiate with men, and learn from key phrases they might use such as “I think” or “you know.” If you are a man, don’t be afraid to compete as much with women as you do other males. Learn from women as well – for example, women are less likely to “wing it” during negotiations, and this can help them succeed.