concessions-3We should be trying to create a win/win outcome  in every negotiation in order to insure a strong  and lasting business relationship. While concessions are an essential element in any  negotiation, they can be a threat to maintaining  your credibility.  The following suggestions will help you improve your results when concessions are necessary.

  • Make a list of value items.

Prior to the negotiation, identify and list the important items/issues for the other party but which have little value to you.  Likewise, make a list of items/services that you want in return (these may be both valuable or small concessions for the other party).   Use these items when concessions are brought up.  Be prepared!

  • Never respond immediately to a request for a concession.

Take your time.  A pause will add uncertainty to the other party, it will add value to the concession if you do make it and you will have more time to think about a comparable concession to request.   All of this raises your credibility.

  • Never make a concession without asking for one in return.

As  previously  mentioned,  making unilateral concessions is a big mistake.  It sends the wrong  message  and you lose an opportunity  to improve your position.  Always ask for something of equal or greater value in return.   If you are asked for a concession, you can simply respond, “The only way I could do that is if you could do something for me. I’d need you to ____________. How do you feel about that?”

  • Beware of “insignificant”  concessions.

Small, “insignificant” concessions can add if up if the other party constantly asks for more.  Always read their entire proposal before agreeing  to a “small” concession.  This gives you more power/credibility and provides chances to ask for more concessions from their side.  If this becomes an issue, call them on it:  “In addition to that, are there other items that you’re interested in?”  This forces the other party to reveal all of their wishes at once so that they don’tcontinue to peck away at you with more requests.

  • Try to design a system for making  concessions.

When necessary, such as negotiating with someone who wants to play hardball,  set the tone and the ground rules up front so there is no miscommunication.  An easy approach would be to say,  “You give me a concession, and I’ll give you one.”  This is an honored technique that’s been used cross-culturally  for thousands of years and can be used today with anyone in almost any negotiation.

  • Never say never.

By saying “no” or “we can’t do that,” you limit your own options.  Instead, consider saying to the other  party,  “Hmmm…that  may  be difficult for us.  Can  you  think  of  any  possible alternatives you may want to consider?” or, “It’s a possibility if you can do ________ for us.”  To use this approach effectively, you must know your list of value items well.

  • Don’t ask for unreasonable concessions.

You want to reach a final agreement by finding mutually agreeable items for both sides.  Therefore, don’t ask for concessions  you don’t believe you will  get.  Also, be prudent with any offer because the other party may accept it.

  • Know your business’ needs and bottom  line.

Never give something away or work for a concession if it doesn’t make sense for your business.

  • The “value” of  price.

Price is seldom the real issue.  The conviction that a person has that he is receiving overall value in the deal is usually the true issue.  Consequently, a good deal results from the belief that the person is receiving a good deal.

  • Make sure the other party walks away feeling like a winner.

If the other negotiator can go back to their company and say, “This is what I won for us from the deal,”  he will feel like he succeeded.    Successful negotiators with a win/win  philosophy can make this look easy.

We’ve all received questionable sales advice at some point during our careers – some from mentors or managers, some from peers, and sadly some even from training experts and consultants who are paid to know better.

We’ve spent some time scouring the web to uncover some of these pearls so we can share them here with you here. Enjoy!

1. “Here is a script, read it…”

Nothing says “I have no clue what you do” more than using a generic sales script. Reading from a script is impersonal and prevents you from having a genuine two-way conversation and building rapport.

2. Sales is just a numbers game

Sales is not just about numbers, and cold calling alone is not going to drive results. If you’re only relying on cold calls alone and not finding genuine leads who are actually interested in your product, you’re wasting your time and their time.

3. “Selling is telling”

This one made us laugh – it’s got a quite a ring to it, you must admit. Unfortunately, it was actually a common theme to training programs during the early 80’s. How wrong it was, yet, unbelievably, so many “sales professionals” thought it was right!

4. Always be closing (ABC)

This one conjures up an image of the stereotypical used car salesman. Unfortunately, as any good sales professional knows, customers hate being pushed and really hate pushy sellers. Customers want you to have their best interests at heart and to help them make the best decision, even if that decision is to buy elsewhere or not to buy at all. That’s impossible when you’re concentrating exclusively on closing the sale.

5. Mirror and matching

This one has to be our favorite – as if sales people don’t have enough to handle building rapport, adding valuable insights, asking the right questions and taking great notes. Do we really expect them to cross their arms when the prospect crosses their arms? Really?

What is the worst sales advice you’ve ever received?  Don’t be shy…chime in! This stuff is too good not to share.

Channel surfing used to mean sitting front of a television with a remote in hand, click click clicking away. But these days, with so many ways for salespeople to make contact with prospects, you might describe channel surfing as switching from one means of communication to another as we try to figure out the best way to reach out to potential customers.

As salespeople in the digital age, we all have the channel we’re most comfortable with. Someone older might prefer the phone while someone younger might reach out directly via LinkedIn. And then there’s someone in the middle who is most comfortable with email. But guess what? What we want doesn’t matter. We as the salespeople have to choose the channel that works for our prospects, not for us.

There are several reasons for this: One, you’ll make a better impression by using the channel your prospect prefers and they will feel more comfortable with you from the start. Two, they’ll be more responsive because they get to respond using that channel. And three, you’re setting the stage for a better experience from the start by putting their preferences first in this way.

How do you know which channel to use for which prospect? You can’t really, although you can make educated guesses. But what you can do is understand the reasons for and against using the three most common channels for contacting prospects, and when one channel might be preferred over another.

Email—for the coldest of cold calls

Although phone calls used to be the primary prospecting tool, email has replaced the telephone as the most common way to reach out to new prospects. On the plus side, it’s less intrusive when compared to a phone call—especially when they don’t know you—and it gives the prospect an opportunity to respond when the time is right for her (or not at all). For the salesperson, it takes less time than a phone call, allowing for more prospecting in a day. In addition, an email can offer links to a website or other information the prospect might be interested in, and they can act on that interest when they want to.

On the other hand, not knowing if a prospect read or even received your email is one of the downsides to this channel. So is the competition you’ll face in that inbox. It would be wonderful if your email was the only one to pop up, but we both know that’s not the case. Your email could be one of a hundred your prospect receives on any given day.

The phone—for the prospect you’ve met before

Although the phone has really fallen out of favor among salespeople as a way to contact prospects the first time, and Millennials don’t want anything to do with making or taking phone calls, a phone call can be effective when you’ve been introduced to someone or been given their name by a referral. So don’t cross it off your list just yet. Plus a you’ll know when a phone call got through—unlike an email—and you can get to know the person on the other end of the line when you do connect with them in a way you can’t digitally. And that’s true of your voicemail message too: You can convey much more warmth and personality in a voicemail than an email!

Social media—get to know someone before reaching out

Then there’s social media, the new way to contact prospects. Social media might be the best channel if you’re trying to reach someone who is obviously active in that arena, with plenty of followers and a lot of time spent on the platform. In addition, using social media—in particular LinkedIn—gives you a chance to get to know that prospect and even connect with them in advance of reaching out.

With social media, you can comment on a discussion they’re part of or an article they’ve published, join the industry group they’re most active in, and make yourself visible. That way when you reach out the first time, they will already know who you are—and you’ll know about their business and pain points!

On the other hand, social media is probably an ineffective way to contact someone who has never heard of you or your business, because we’ve all been on the receiving end of those messages. And is there anything less “social” than a total stranger messaging you directly in that way?

Keep in mind the context and connection

When choosing a channel, keep in mind the context and the connection you have thus far. Email might be best for the coldest contact, a phone call could work for someone you’ve been introduced to, and a social media connection can work if you’ve built some kind of rapport online already.

Then you can stop surfing, and simply choose the channel that works best for each prospect right from the very start!

Plenty of sales reps think that productivity is the same as staying busy, or at least “looking busy”.  Strategy meetings, internet research, emails, social networking, golf dates, and dinners may be keeping reps “busy”, but such activities may be inconsequential to the bottom line.  Let’s define sales productivity as the ability to produce.  Productivity is measured by yield or throughput.

Here are four tips to help increase the productivity of your sales team giving them more active selling time:

1.  Analyze Current Processes

Do a health check on the selling processes currently being followed by your team.  Although each sales rep’s process may be unique, consider the following key productivity drains across your team:  How much time is spent weekly on administrative tasks? How many calls are being made on qualified vs. unqualified opportunities?  How many in-person calls end in a sale?  What is the average time of lead to sale?  What is the current cost of sale?   A good sales process based on the analysis of the data retrieved from these questions will provide guidelines for keeping productivity in check.

 

2.  Define Expectations/Goals

Every team member needs to know what is expected of him/her.  Once new expectations are set, look at your team and see who needs help organizing their time and territory.  Help reps prioritize which opportunities are worthy of their time and get rid of the ones that are not qualified.  Being on qualified sales calls is where results will happen.  Once you set expectations, expect them.  Set up a streamlined accountability process of reps’ progress toward outlined expectations.

 

3.  Leverage Technology

Reduce the administrative responsibilities required by your reps by providing an electronic format for as many tasks as possible.  A good CRM system will automate certain tasks and keep customer data organized.   Technology can also aid you in getting quality lead lists.  Monitor social channels.  Set up alerts on topics of interest and respond to those who show buying signals.  Consider timesaving video calls and web conferencing.  There are hundreds of time saving sales technology tools out there that can help increase the productivity of your team.

 

4.  Increase your Team’s Skills and Knowledge

Sales training, and coaching are important for every salesperson, no matter how experienced they are.  There are always new skill sets to learn and new tools to master.  Analyze deficient sales skills in the individuals on your team and coach to those needs.  These skills may include phone etiquette, product knowledge, industry knowledge, customer engagements and rapport, presentations, and everyone’s favorite topic:  negotiation.  Look for a training company that will offer a customized approach to developing specific relevant skills for your team.

 

Try these tips and you will see increased productivity in your team.  The measure of success will be evident in a yield to be enjoyed: More revenue!

It seems ridiculous to think that change from a typewriter to a computer was anything but a “no brainer”. It wasn’t. In fact, there are still published authors, John Irving to name one, that write entire novels in long hand or on typewriters. Without the vision of how a change will provide benefits, very little may occur.

Getting a prospect to adopt your product or service and make a fundamental change in how they do business is hard, yet sometimes necessary. The best way I know to get a prospect from no to “Yes, I’ll consider making a change”, is mastering the 3 M’s of establishing value. If they can’t see any value or in other words a compelling reason to make a change, then they will stay firmly in the no column.

  1. Measurement. –  find out how the buyer measures value.  What we want to measure is something that gets a number in dollars. The best numbers are not based on opinion or conjecture. Asking questions helps determine what numbers the buyer values most.  With medical devices, value dollars are measured by recovery times and reimbursements;   with fleet management it’s fuel efficiency and driver safety, and in the food business it’s waste and storage costs.  These are all costs, costs that you can help them reduce with your product. How much can you help to reduce their costs?  This is establishing value with monetary results.   Dollar savings is a powerful value illustrator.
  2. Mechanism – What’s the mechanism you use to calculate the value?  In the food industry it’s cost to store food per square foot, in fleet management it’s miles per gallon.  Does your client have one?  If not, co-create it.  To have an effective mechanism the prospect needs to agree on the way the value is measured.
  3. Meaning – How do you analyze the data you created or co created with the buyer in step 2?  These numbers should be analyzed to improve the bottom line.  For example, a driver in a truck’s fleet reduces the average driving speed from 65 to 64 miles per hour; the driver will realize $100 savings from increased fuel efficiency per month, thereby, saving $1200 per year per vehicle in fuel. That alone has meaning to the buyer.  To provide greater meaning and more value as a sales partner, the seller should also provide context.  Give them context as to what you’ve seen in your industry or with other clients.  This is what context sounds like, “Mr. Buyer the other companies in your industry that has adopted this fuel efficiency strategy, and they realized on average a savings of $ 1200 per year per vehicle.”

The 3 M’s are measurement, the mechanism by which value is measured and meaning (dollars) to the measurement.  When value is established, the risk of changing is diminished.  If there is still hesitancy, start again at step one because you never found out the measurement that the buyer valued most.  We help clients frame the conversation with their buyers to include value in their conversations.   These tools, if used properly, will help buyers change from their old ways to your new ways.

Let Flannery Sales Systems help your sales staff sharpen their skills in establishing value.

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Over the past few years, the majority of the work that we have done with customers is on defining (or refining) their sales process. This was necessitated by the dramatic changes exhibited in buying behavior during the pandemic. And indeed, the most important aspect of our customer’s sales processes is that it mirrors how their customers buy from them.  During conversations in both a formal and informal settings, we are asked “how many steps should there be in the sales process?”  If we knew that exact answer for each of our customers, we would be retired and they would have Instagram-like success!

So instead of trying to pinpoint the exact number of steps in a sales process, here are the must have, Top Three milestones that each team/seller must have in place to assure success. Please note that very few of our B to B customers have only 3 milestones (or stages), but when pushed to the wall, here are the 3 you can’t live (or sell) without:

1-     Access to the Key Players (Decision Maker): there is nothing new to the notion that you must get access to all of the key players, but the budget scrutiny that many organizations have placed on all expenditures since 2008 has made this step even more difficult. A clear articulation on how all important titles would benefit from the usage of your product/service is a mandatory requirement for completing this stage.

2-     Clear Understanding of Value: once you have the access as described in #1, can the individuals understand the value that your offering provides. Without this, you will be dancing in the dark when it comes time to go into the evaluation phase.

3-     An Approved Implementation Plan: approved as you co-develop the opportunity with your customer/prospect, not after the deal is signed. This sole step can help you to determine your “pole position” deep into opportunity development, and the seriousness of the participant’s gauges how “sticky” your solution will be thereafter.

One of our customers in the Medical Device industry was struggling to get into conversations with the key players in their existing customer base on a new offering they had obtained through an acquisition. The offering was an existing diagnostic test with a new enhanced feature.  The challenge was that the enhanced feature  provided a benefit that had never been completely commercialized. We sat down with a cross functional team from their organization and built a pro-forma model of what impact the solution had on the existing practices in the testing environment, and who would benefit from this.  They went searching for data to substantiate their assertions of what value this add-on widget could provide.  They found a reputable research company that had done a study that provided the information they were looking for.  We were able to help build a dollar value and a testing value into a pro-forma model (Benefit Summary). The Benefit Summary provided all involved with a complete understanding of the value of their new enhanced feature.

Next, we helped them to create a prototype of an Implementation Plan that correlated with how they could roll this out to their customers. Once completed, the sales process plan was delivered and executed with their main customers.  As a result, they have successfully sold an additional 12% in total revenue on this product alone in an $80 million dollar division.

What are you or your organization waiting for to drive more revenue? Let us help you to define (or refine) these steps and start picking up incremental revenue now!

how to be an effective presenter

We all have to deliver a presentation at some point our lives. The kindergartener “presents” in show and tell, the politician presents in hopes to get elected, the PhD candidate presents in pursuit of a title. And, of course, the sales rep presents in order to close a deal. 

Over the course of my career, I have delivered hundreds of presentations and sat through my fair share as well. Some were good and others made me want to jump out the nearest window. So, what was the difference? Here are some best practices I’ve developed over the years: 

1.PREPARE – When you’re creating your presentation, keep things simple.  No fancy power point transition can deliver a message as effectively as you can through your words.  Over the years, I’ve learned that less is more on a slide, which means I need to know my material well to effectively explain what’s not there. 

 

2. PRACTICE – In our workshops, we ask our attendees to role play what is being taught.  I’m consistently amazed at how people struggle with this.  But, the only way to really practice is to make the words come out of your mouth. It’s funny how halted and jerky a presentation sounds during my first practice run, when in my mind I was so witty and articulate. But sure enough, after three, four and five times, the words start to flow, I build my cadence, and I can add some finishing touches like pauses for emphasis, interesting asides, and, of course, a bit of humor, to help my words really stick. 

 

3. CONNECT – In order to be engaging presenters, we must be entertainers, too. How do we entertain? If size permits, engage the participants by asking them thoughtful questions. Invite discussion. Many presenters are fearful to do this because they are unsure of what the responses will be and how they may derail the presentation. But, I’ve found that the better I know my material, the more effective I am at steering the dialogue. Yes, there has been some unscripted participation that has been shocking, but some that is also memorable, entertaining and engaging. 

 

If asking questions seems too daunting, then share a personal experience and relate it to the concept being presented.  Recently, I shared a story about meeting a 20-year-old who had never flown before, and helping him from the ticket counter, through security and to the gate. I related my story to the sales process steps that I was teaching. When I asked the client how she thought the presentation went, the first thing she mentioned was my story. Real life examples are engaging and memorable. 

 

Need tips on effectively presenting when you and your prospect are not in the same roomCheck out our article on being a more effective virtual salesperson. 

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On return from a recent trip, I was making an international connection in an airport and passing through security for the second time. The security guard asked me the same standard questions, but the last question she asked me I found to be most curious. She said, “Should I trust you?”  I paused and then answered in the affirmative, but it got me thinking.

When meeting with a prospect for the first time, how do you establish trust?  This is not the same type of trust that you have with a family member or loved one, but the trust that allows someone to have a candid conversation about their business issues.

There is plenty written about how not to do it, such as being pushy, talking too much or just falling into stereotypical selling behavior. But in that critical window of time (some say as short as a minute) how do you make a connection that allows the prospect to feel comfortable sharing information with you.

In his recent book “The Speed of Trust”, Stephen M.R. Covey identifies trust as the one thing that changes everything. He defines trust as confidence, confidence that the words that come out of a salesperson’s mouth show genuine interest in understanding the situation before a “spray and pray” feature dump.

Here are a few simple steps to follow to make sure that you can earn initial trust:

1-    Be prepared with questions geared towards the prospect’s organization and needs, not statements or brochures around your product, service or organization.

2-    Allow the prospect to set the pace for the meeting, and only offer suggestions for items to review after they have expressed their priorities.  Help the prospect discover needs by listening to what they say.  A few well -constructed questions will help the prospect come to their own conclusion.

3-    Be sincere.  Being sincere means doing what you say you are going to do. The first way to establish sincerity is a prompt, written follow up after an initial meeting that captures the important components for the prospect and their organization.

Some think trust takes years to cultivate and develop.  The security guard in an airport thought it could take one second, a reaction to a question.  One thing is certain; establishing trust is a central component to all healthy relationships.

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