Make Price a Non-Critical Issue

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Price Cut

Some salespeople will tell you that price is all-important and making it a non-critical issue is nigh-on impossible. Not so! I’m about to show you how you can make price a non-critical issue in any non-transactional sale.

Price is almost always a critical issue in a transactional sale. A transactional sale is one where the salesperson doesn’t have to do a lot of selling. This is because the prospect has usually decided what it is he or she wants to buy. Most commodity sales tend to be transactional in nature. In this type of sale, price is usually the key, if not overriding, factor. The farther away you move your product or service from being a commodity or transactional sale, the better your chances of minimizing the impact of price on the end result.

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The Myth of Multi-Tasking

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Multi-tasking

I always thought being great at multi-tasking was an essential part of being successful in sales. At a high level this is true – you have to be able to do a lot of different things and do most of them well to be successful.  The problem is, when trying to execute, doing different things and doing them well don’t usually go together, at least not at the same time.

There’s a book called The Myth of Multi-tasking I came across recently that talks about how you brain can’t physically do two things at the same time. Your body can, but what your brain is doing to make this happen is called ‘task switching.’  Every time you do something different (take notes while trying to pay attention to a presentation) your brain is switching tasks.

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Learning a Sales Method Using Excel

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Sales Cycle Excel

Ed. Congratulations to Enio for creating an imaginative and useful Excel template. His article explains why the sales process can be computerized by using a simple spreadsheet. There is a much easier and more elegant way to get this functionality and much, much more. The app is free here.

Sales methods are usually associated with two statements by salespeople: “very strict, with little flexibility” or “our business is to be at the client and not in front of a computer.”

We agree that it is more important to be in front of the customer than typing information at a computer. And, we agree that information put into the computer should produce results that are relevant to the successful outcome of the sales process.

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What Does Sales Certification Certify?

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Training Certificate

I recently got involved in a LinkedIn group thread that led me to rant a little on college and university sales education – specifically on the lack of any respect by sales professionals for a college degree. That, in turn, led the CEO of the Institute of Sales & Marketing in the UK, Stephen Wright, to contact me. He told me they are a UK-based professional and government-approved awarding body that develops qualifications for professional certification under the regulation of the UK government.

He went on to tell me that their qualifications have been adopted by a number of organizations in different countries and asked about such qualifications here. My answer could have been delivered by Sergeant Schultz in the old Hogan’s Heroes television show – I know nothing.

It was an interesting question, so I set out to find some answers. I did a Google search for sales certification and here are the top five hits for getting yourself certified:

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The Professional Salesperson’s View of a College Education

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No College Degree

Degree? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Degree.

I followed a LinkedIn discussion thread about sales education recently and I came away surprised and disappointed. The thread was in a professional sales group and the contributors were presumably all sales professionals, were presumably interested in their profession because they are active on LinkedIn, and were presumably intelligent and successful in their jobs.

The question, paraphrased, asked about what your sales education should be. Not training, mind you, but college or university education. Here are the metrics from that thread:

  • There were nineteen comments in addition to the original post and the follow-on comments made by the poster.
  • There were sixteen distinct commenters.
  • Not one of the comments suggested the need for college or university level education, although one came dangerously close.
  • Thirteen of the comments said, in varying degrees of intensity, that a college degree was a waste of time for sales professionals.

Those who saw no need for a college education all called on the school of hard knocks and street smarts as the only academic requirements. They cited sales success stories and capabilities and knowledge that could be acquired without ever setting foot on a campus, unless you were there to sell something.

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Sales Coaching: Effective Feedback

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Sales Coaching

It amuses me that “coaching” has become a universal buzzword in the skills development lexicon over the last three or four years. It amuses me because coaching has been an integral part of our business process for twenty-six years. We realized back then that training without coaching produces minimal improvement at best, whereas training plus coaching produces a four-fold increase in new productivity according to a study conducted by the American Society for Training and Development.

Providing coaching feedback is not as easy as it might appear, though. The key to successful coaching is to provide feedback that preserves a person’s self esteem while motivating them to change and improve. You need to provide constructive feedback that praises and reinforces the person’s strengths, as well as identifies and rectifies their weaknesses.

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Teaching Sales Methodology at the Business School Sao Paolo

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Business School Sao Paolo

Five years ago, on a trip to Canada, I met Keith Thompson, Salesways founder and Chairman, and author of the book Sales Automation Done Right. After that meeting, I realized that my career as a professional salesperson was built based on empirical knowledge, field practice and the courses that companies I worked for offered me.

Back in Brazil, with the book in my hands, the first thing I did was to visit some universities and business schools to understand how the sales discipline was handled. Recently, talking to some teachers, I heard that “it was much easier to learn about sales in specialized external courses out there”, as mentioned by Philip Broughton, in the introduction to his book The Art of the Sale (2012, Penguin Press).

Walter Friedman, in his book Birth of a Salesman (2004, Harvard College), noted that “while business schools were still offering some type of instruction in sales management, usually in larger contexts of marketing courses, they do not offer programs aiming at sales skills.” Also according to Friedman, these current courses, as it was at the beginning of the last century, seemed more suitable to the popular “how to” or “memories of a successful salesman” books than with the objective of training professionals under the academic point of view.

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Sales Education: The Sales Course Catalog #2

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Education Ignorance

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article describing a fictitious course catalog from a fictitious college for a fictitious degree of Bachelor of Arts in Professional Sales. The reason for all the fiction was that there is no such thing! That is an exaggeration – there are several schools offering such a degree. Several, out of 4,500 accredited colleges and universities in the U.S.

I posted my own curriculum for such a degree, and started describing some of the sales-centric courses that I feel demand attention. These included Introduction to Professional Sales, The History of Sales, Sales Methodology, and Sales Automation. Today I’ll continue that effort with four other courses from my fictitious curriculum.

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Negotiation: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

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Negotiation

Ed. – Our first guest contributor this week is Jonathan Farrington, international business coach, consultant, author, and the founder and CEO of Top Sales World magazine. His work can be found in The Washington Post and The London Times and other high-profile publications, and he is consistently ranked amongst the global Top 20 influential sales and marketing experts. We’re privileged to offer some of his thoughts here at The HUB.

I understand and appreciate that many frontline sales professionals – and senior executives too, for that matter – are not comfortable negotiating. I enjoy it very much, and I have always particularly relished the final act, where things can get very tense.

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Our Price Is Too High

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Lowest Price

Ed. – Today we present a classic. Not only a classic HUB article, but a classic complaint that you’ve heard (or used) many times before. Chris relates an experience that both answers the complaint and tells you something about the value of interaction among your sales team

I was in a workshop a few years back with a few different companies, all in similar industries, attending. Within the first hour, an intense discussion had erupted around pressures on pricing.

Many of the sales people present felt that there was commoditization in their markets and price was the sole criteria for decision making. All the sales person does is take price and delivery calls. They can’t get past the purchasing agent or buyer, and have no chance to differentiate their company.

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