One Thing You Should NEVER Do with a Prospect

April 25th, 2018

One Thing You Should NEVER Do with a ProspectThe tall, gangly man wore an old t-shirt and cutoff jean shorts. His long black hair hung unkempt halfway down his back. And he arrived at the luxury car dealership on a bicycle. The veteran salespeople knew better than to waste their time with him. They sent the rookie out to deal with him.

The man was rock star, Alice Cooper.

And he bought not one, but two top-of-the-line vehicles from the fortunate sales rookie. Who received not only a nice commission, but also a valuable sales lesson: Never judge a prospect on their appearance.

I hear similar stories all the time from attendees in my seminars and workshops: experienced salespeople who mistakenly assume a particular person isn’t a buyer because of how they look, sound, or act.

It’s a habit most of us get into at some point in our sales careers. We only have so much time, and we want to spend it with people who are most likely to buy. So we ignore anyone who doesn’t seem to measure up at first glance.

But that’s a terrible habit. Because first impressions can be dangerously misleading. You may have a clear idea of who your ideal buyer is, based on years of experience, but that doesn’t mean that anyone who doesn’t fit that profile isn’t also a potential buyer. Prospects come in all ages, sizes, genders, colors, ethnicities, and abilities. And if you make a snap judgement that they aren’t a buyer because of circumstantial information, you’ve already lost the sale.

How do you avoid making this deadly mistake?

1. Assume all prospects are buyers.
Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Make them feel important and appreciated.

2. Engage them.
Ask questions. Learn about their needs, wants, concerns, budget, and so on. If they aren’t a good prospect for you, a few questions will uncover that pretty quickly.

3. Help them.
If they’re a good fit for your product or service, proceed to the next step in your sales process. If they’re not right for you (and vice versa), help them anyway. They’re still people with needs. Provide them with information; suggest alternatives; recommend competitors. The goodwill you create may lead to referrals. Or this particular individual may become a customer of yours in the future.

Looks can be deceiving. But don’t let yourself be deceived. Because it will cost you sales. Just because a buyer doesn’t look like your ideal prospect doesn’t mean they can’t become a great customer. But if you treat them like they can’t, then they won’t.

Remember: Buyers don’t need to impress you. You need to impress them.

Eight Ways to Make Your Sales Meetings More Valuable

April 19th, 2018

Eight Ways to Make Your Sales Meetings More ValuableIn my seminars and workshops, one of the most frequent complaints I hear from salespeople is that regular sales meetings are a waste of their time. Unproductive sales meetings not only drain the morale of your sales team, they can actually cost you sales, because your people are sitting in a meeting room rather than actually selling.

I’m not saying you should abandon your regular sales meetings, just make them more valuable to your salespeople. Here are some ideas for turning your sales meetings into can’t-miss events:

1. Prepare Yourselves for Objections
Your salespeople already know the objections that always seem to come up, so deal with them ahead of time. Each meeting, bring up a common objection. Spend ten or fifteen minutes brainstorming answers to it. Choose the best, then role-play the objection and response so everyone can practice in the safety of your meeting room. Have the group critique each person, providing both positive and constructive feedback.

2. Dissect Your Competition
Collect your competitors’ sales and marketing literature. At least a week before your meeting, give a salesperson the information from one of the companies. Have the person deliver a presentation on the strengths and weaknesses of the company or one of its products or services. Then discuss how best to sell against them. Have a different salesperson review another company (or another specific product or service) each meeting.

3. Practice Your Introductions
Discuss ideas for effective fifteen, thirty, and sixty-second introductions. Practice them each meeting, so salespeople can recite them smoothly and easily at networking functions.

4. Tackle Challenges
Allow each person to share some challenge they’re experiencing, whether in general or with a specific situation. Spend a set number of minutes brainstorming ways to overcome it.

5. Share Success Stories
Give everyone an opportunity to share good news, an accomplishment, a discovery, a new tactic, or anything else positive. Celebrate everything with prizes, candy or at the least, wild applause.

6. Make Commitments
Have each person make some kind of commitment. Record them all and follow up on each commitment the following meeting. Again, reward people who follow through on the commitment they made.

7. Bring in an Expert
A professional speaker or sales trainer can help your salespeople dramatically improve their skills at prospecting, qualifying, presenting, overcoming objections, negotiating, closing, asking for referrals, and more. It’s an investment that can pay massive dividends.

8. Hear from a Customer
Invite one of your clients to join you to act as a one-person focus group. Ask them about their experiences with your company and encourage them to be brutally honest. You’ll likely be surprised by what you hear, both negative and positive.

In addition to the above strategies, ask your sales team what they would find valuable. Incorporate as many ideas as possible and you’ll increase your participation rate, your team’s enthusiasm and as a result, your sales!

Customer Service By the Bucketful

April 11th, 2018

Customer Service By The BucketfulJames Saucedo isn’t a salesperson. But most salespeople could learn a thing or two from him.

James drives a shuttle van for the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Austin, Texas. I had the pleasure of riding in his van when I flew into Austin not long ago. Just before he pulled the van away from the airport, he turned in his seat, handed me a metal bucket, and asked, “Would you care for a snack?” In the bucket was an amazing assortment of granola bars, cookies, and candy bars.

As I gratefully munched on some peanut butter cups, I asked him about the bucket. He explained that he often picks up Delta flight crews late at night. They’re typically tired and hungry, but the hotel restaurant closes fairly early, and there is nothing else close by. So he got a bucket and filled it with snacks. Using his own money. And he still does.

Naturally, people who ride in his van leave him glowing ratings. (Talk about creating a positive first impression!)

And you can just imagine what it does for his tips.

How can you surprise, delight, and impress your customers? This is a question not only you, but everyone in your organization should be asking constantly.

James Saucedo isn’t a salesperson. But he’s definitely increasing his company’s sales.