Posts Tagged ‘Sales Skills’

Any Salespeople For Tennis?

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I played tennis when I was a kid. I liked it a lot. I preferred one-on-one sports to team stuff. I don’t play now, but I watch the big stars playing, mostly because my wife loves those guys.

I once wrote about the important of statistics in baseball, with a view to applying that way of doing things to sales. Indeed, metrics have now become one of the hottest topics in selling. Tennis is a sport wrapped up in stats too. One number that has always interested me describes the importance of the first serve in the game.

Novak Djojovic wins 87% of his service games (where he serves first against his opponent.) So if you want to beat him you had better be prepared to break his serve. The thing is, advanced players can do lots of sneaky stuff with that first serve, and their opponent usually doesn’t know what’s coming. The opponent has to take a defensive position. A good first serve can determine the positional and strategic flow of the game – in favor of the player who made it.

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Setting Priorities: How Do You Spend Your Selling Day?

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When I did my research for this article, trying to see what statistics are available about how sales professionals spend their time, I got some very useless information. Things like “24% of the salesperson’s time is spent on generating leads and researching accounts.” How is that useful information? First, is 24% of my time working at this too much? What is the right amount of time? And why do they bundle generating leads and researching accounts? These are very different activities with very different goals and skills.

There was a lot more of these statistics that seem, on a quick read, like valuable information. But when you stop and think about it, what benefit is it to you in your selling or sales management role? I did find some good advice, though.

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Objections – No, They’re Not Great Buying Signals

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No matter how good you are at selling, objections will arise. Some occur because the customer needs something that you cannot provide. They want a 12-month service contract and your company only offers one for 6 months.

It is also true that some objections occur not because of what you are selling but because of how you are selling. For example, a great way to generate objections is to jump in and starting talking about a solution before you have a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s problems.

Have you heard that objections are good because they indicate buyer interest? This is an untruth floating around in the Sales world – objections are not buying signals. They are barriers, concerns, and problems that need to be prevented and/or handled skillfully.

So let’s take a look at three best practices for dealing with objections.

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Selling Skills: Part 1 – Sales Cycle Fundamentals

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Selling Skills

While preparing for this series I was looking through a set of posts that John Darrin did a while ago so there would be no overlap. When it came to selling skills, this is what John had to say:

“These three skills are used with varying emphasis from the start of the sales cycle (Probe – Probe – Probe and maybe a little Prove) to the end (Close – Prove – Close again). In fact, the sales cycle itself can be broken into stages defined by the application of the appropriate skill. The first stage is predominantly Probing with a little Proving. As you progress and learn and plan, you Prove much more and still Probe. Finally, there comes a time when you Close, still Proving as you encounter obstacles and Probing a little to be sure your knowledge is accurate and nothing has changed.

Go ahead – name a sales skill that doesn’t fit. “

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What Are Sales Skills

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Sales Skills

If you ask that question of ten different sales people, you’ll get twelve different answers. Try Googling “sales skills” and see what comes up.

What doesn’t come up is any consistency whatsoever. You’ll find everything from “managing the buyer/seller relationship” to “good listening” to “controlling your state of mind.” At just the first four hits, there are twenty-one different skills, with only six of those appearing on two or more sites. With this kind of latitude, I could classify good grooming as a sales skill. The only clarity gained here is that everyone has an opinion about the critical sales skills, and we don’t agree too often.

Now, each and every one of those twenty-one skills are valid and important (although “having more fun” is really a universal skill, not so much sales-specific, and one I try to practice at every opportunity), but aren’t these really more techniques that you practice rather than skills that you learn? The dictionary defines “skill” as “the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc. to do something well.”

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Our Price Is Too High

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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.

Others just thought their own prices were too high and it put them at a competitive disadvantage in a time when everyone’s prices are posted somewhere on the Internet.

A sales manager stood and looked to the audience and said, “Well, if price is the only criteria, what the heck do we need sales people for?”

The room went silent. Every single sales person in the room understood this, instantly, and the conversation immediately moved on to ideas on how to sell better and not get locked into a price war. This is an example of yet another benefit of getting your sales team together. In this case, it was a soft reset button on applying strategy to the sales process.

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