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Archive: Jun 2019

7 tips for customer commitment

Posted: June 25, 2019 8:39 am
Customer commitment doesn’t necessarily mean closing the sale. However, it’s just as important in terms of achieving a desired outcome. The process of obtaining customer commitment requires a careful approach – so many customers are put off by feeling like they are being forced into something, and so the sale is lost. Instead, working with the customer to create that commitment as a series of collaborative milestones is much more like to generate the best results.
  1. Give yourself an overview of what’s likely to happen next. Few – if any – customers go straight from the point of interest to the point of sale. So, map out the journey that you think this customer commitment is likely to take, including what you think is going to happen – and when – what input you’ll need to provide and what the customer will need to do at specific points, and why.
  1. Avoid a one sided process. The more collaborative the process feels the more likely the customer is to commit to it. There are many ways in which you can do this, from using joint language such as ‘we’ as opposed to ‘I’ or asking for feedback and input from the customer at various different points. You could even hand over control of a demo to the customer or ask them to contribute during a presentation so that they feel much more involved early on.
  1. Fast forward to the future. This means providing the customer with some insight into what a future of working with you might look like at this stage. So, be super responsive to emails, available on the phone and answer questions with clarity and transparency. Demonstrating the quality standards you adhere to now will make a customer much more likely to commit for the future.
  1. Ask the right questions. These are the “closing” type questions that might signal to the customer it’s time to commit. “Have we met your expectations” and “Is there anything we could have done better” are good examples.
  1. Share your timeline with the customer. You don’t have to reveal the overview that you already created but you can share the sense that this is a time critical process. This is most easily done by agreeing deadlines jointly and then following up to ensure that those deadlines are met.
  1. Prepare some commitment closing ideas you can call on if you need to. For example, you could ask the customer to proof parts of the final document, arrange follow-ups or ask that the customer gather views internally for research.
  1. Don’t be oblivious to the signs of imminent closing. Sometimes, the closing itself is not as far off as it might at first seem. It might be the simplest question, such as “shall we go ahead?” that triggers the start of the closing process.
Understanding the process of getting customer commitment is key to successful closing. Our Gaining Commitment on the Telephone course is designed to help refine style and techniques over the phone to achieve better results

Top sales skills each professional must master

Posted: June 18, 2019 8:38 am
Developing sales skills is an essential part of becoming a fully fledged sales professional. For most people, the art of selling – and selling well – does not come naturally. It’s something that needs to be acquired and nurtured through training and development. These are just a few of the top sales skills that anyone with ambitions to be an exceptional sales professional needs to master. Understanding your product Deep product knowledge is the most basic part of great sales – if you don’t really understand the product and its benefits it will be impossible to sell effectively. Product knowledge includes understanding how a product works, what its benefits are and how it can deliver value to your target customers. Establishing remote rapport Selling over the phone is often more challenging than face-to-face. So, it’s a real skill to be able to build a remote rapport. Advance research can help here, enabling common ground to be established, as well as the ability to empathise and understand the other’s point of view. Listening proactively Selling isn’t just about speaking or convincing others, listening is just as important. Proactive listening means focusing entirely on what the prospect is saying, the objections they raise and the potential opportunities that may exist for progress. Listening actively and then asking intelligent questions are both crucial to professional sales. Effective communication Studies have found that only 7% of communication is based on the content of what is being said. 38% of communication is about the way it is said, such as the tone of voice. Effective selling requires some attention to these attributes of communication, from subtly mirroring the prospect’s tone of voice, to ensuring you’re not speaking in a monotone and letting just enough personality shine through. Asking clever questions Many salespeople approach a prospect by being convinced of the benefits of their product and aggressively pushing these. The better approach is to start by asking a series of questions that are designed to identify what that person actually needs and whether there are issues that your product could solve. Then you can apply the benefits of the product to the actual needs of the customer to demonstrate specifically where value can be added. A strategic approach to objections Dealing with objections is just part of the process in sales. Taking a strategic approach to this not only means being prepared for likely objections but taking steps in advance to prevent them. Where objections are common it may be possible to pre-empt them before they have even been raised, clearing the path for the sale to progress. Closing and commitment This essential part of the process includes a number of different stages. It will be key to ensure that the right people are included in the pitch – i.e. those who are the decision makers – and that there is a focus on securing commitment from the prospect. Closing doesn’t have to be aggressive it’s much more about guiding your prospect towards reaching mutual agreement with you. These key sales skills are essential for anyone looking to progress in a sales career. Our Key Selling Skills course will teach you how to maximise your selling potential and get ahead in your chosen career.

Top tips for negotiating to a close

Posted: June 11, 2019 8:37 am
Negotiation skills are essential to a successful sales process. Without them you’re unlikely to get to the point of close with any frequency. Luckily, these are skills that can be learned and, once you’ve got the right perspective and honed an effective approach, you’ll be able to improve your outcomes on an ongoing basis.

Negotiating to a close – top tips

Here are our top tips for negotiating to a close:

Set out the process before you begin

If negotiations aren’t going well it may be because the roadmap for navigating through them was not defined at the start. This can be an incredibly useful way to begin a negotiation process, as it involves setting key boundaries such as when certain isues will be negotiated and what the ground rules are.

Acknowledge that the clock is ticking

It’s going to be important to identify certain milestones along the negotiation journey – and also to have a final deadline that everyone is aware of. Although you may feel like this puts pressure on you, it will also be the same for the other side who are likely to be equally under pressure to reach objectives.

Identify when it’s time to take a step back

Discussions may have gotten heated – or just gone on too long – so, sometimes it helps to take a step back from the situation and have a break. This allows time to pause and reflect, to identify what has been achieved and regroup before returning back to the negotiating table.

Consider locking out the competition

Depending on the circumstances, you might find it useful to suggest an exclusive negotiating period during which all your competitors are locked out. This can provide a useful forum in which to reach agreement but you may need to offer incentives to agreement, such as access to valued networks.

Switch your team

If you’re working with others on a negotiation and one or more is not contributing, or having difficulty with the closing, it’s often a good idea to bring in fresh talent with new ideas.

Suggest a neutral third party

Depending on the negotiations in question in can sometimes be useful to bring in an objective third party with no ties to either side. This could enable everyone to disclose to that third party – confidentially – what their bottom line really is to see whether there is any realistic potential for meeting in the middle.

Don’t quit at the close

When you reach a stage in negotiations where you potentially have agreement it’s often worth looking at a condition, such as bonuses for specific delivery – or penalties where certain objectives aren’t met. Our Negotiating to a Satisfactory Close course is designed to help improve negotiating skills and build confidence. It will focus on the importance of creating a negotiating strategy and then being able to execute it simply and effectively. When talks don’t reach the point of close it’s often simply because negotiation skills are poor – it’s entirely possible to do something about this so that you can change the outcome of your negotiations in future.

Top tips for closing more sales

Posted: June 4, 2019 8:35 am
What does it take to be a great closer? If sales are key to your career then improving your numbers is important progress to make. However, there is an art to closing more sales and it’s often much more subtle than many people think.

Don’t get too hung up on closing

That’s right, if you want to close more sales you need to stop focusing on the closing. Instead, look at this as a process of encouraging the customer to take a series of steps, overcoming their objections and helping them to move towards an end goal. If all you’re doing each time is helping them to take another pace forward, the pressure is off and it’s easier to perform.

Be ready to make your product relevant

You may know all the benefits of your product and the USP of your brand but the secret to being successful at sales is to make what you’re selling relevant. Ensure you’re able to show the features and functions that are the most relevant to customers if you want to get them to engage.

Put the customer first

Your motivation might be to sell because you need the sale but it’s the customer’s interests you need to focus on if you want to close more sales. Think about why the sale should be important to the customer, as opposed to you, to achieve that essential perspective shift.

Make sure you know your customer

You’ll struggle to make your product relevant or to understand what the customer’s needs are if you don’t know anything about the customer. There are many different ways that you can research your customer today, from reading press releases and browsing a company website to going on LinkedIn to look for information and updates.

Avoid the sledgehammer approach with your competitors

It’s often a good idea to ask the customer whether they are speaking to a rival business. However, it’s important to avoid trashing that company’s product or reputation. Say something positive about the rival and then don’t mention them directly again. Instead, subtly work into the conversation the ways in which your product or service is the better choice.

Be a valuable resource

As soon as you become a valuable resource to your customers then you go beyond a straightforward selling relationship. This is what helps to build trust, especially if you’re able to use your knowledge, insight or connections to make the customer’s life easier.

Ensure you’re well connected

The reality of closing a sale with a larger organisation may be that you’re dealing with multiple approvals at different levels throughout the business. Where you know that there is more than one decision maker involved try to make connections at various different levels so that you can have more influence over the eventual outcome. Closing more sales is often much more about understanding and supporting the customer than driving them towards your own goals. Our Closing The Sale & Dealing With Objections course is designed to analyse the way that you currently handle the process and identify opportunities for improvement.