The Shrinking Attention Span vs. Relationship Sales

Here is a problem I have seen developing in sales over the past 10 years – shorter attention spans in salespeople having to deal with longer sales cycles. First, some background from a quick American Management Association: Whenever I teach students, I tell them, “Your chance of being successful has gone up exponentially because all you’ve got to do now is actually try to pay attention for more than five minutes.” Ok, that is disconcerting.  You can see where this is going.  The integration of the Internet into our lives has provided prospects with a unique ability to research your company, and more importantly, your solutions.  We often talk about… Read More

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Oddities That Make Strong Salespeople-Noncompliance

I’ve been assessing salespeople since 2001 which, as you can imagine, has provided some unique experiences.  These experiences have revealed some odd factors that seem to be supportive of sales success. The oddity is that there seems to be a yin and a yang to abilities…a give and a take.  Here are just a few: Fearlessness vs. Compliance This oddity might be the most common.  There is a component to successful selling that involves a fearlessness to adroitly ask difficult questions to qualify prospects.  Many (most) people are uncomfortable asking these questions. For instance, it is “impolite to discuss money” is one of our social mores.  However, you will not… Read More

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Collaboration Kills Commoditization

There is a trend developing in the sales world that has caught my eye over the past couple years.  This Sales & Marketing Management article opens with a terrific summary of what I have experienced (emphasis mine): According to Harvard Business Review, “Traditional sales methods are increasingly unproductive. In fact, aggressive sales styles and product-focused selling are now so outdated that some customers are simply refusing to meet with salespeople using these techniques. In this situation, focusing on product features in the sales meeting is a waste of everyone’s time. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that high-performing sales people are those who listen and respond, who are flexible,… Read More

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Make Time To Daydream

I’m not kidding.  From the Harvard Business Review: Thanks to our smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it’s easy to be working all the time. But our devices can actually make us less productive by interfering with an important mental process: daydreaming. To be effective, our brains need opportunities to be “off,” which is hard when we’re constantly taking in new information through our devices. And research has found that letting our minds wander facilitates creativity and long-term thinking. If we’re facing a challenge that needs new ideas, we’re more likely to find some if our minds drift away from the problem for a while. So the next time your mind starts… Read More

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Interrogating A Prospect

Questions are the backbone of qualifying any sales opportunity.  Yet, many salespeople seem to flounder with this approach and I believe it comes from over coaching/training.  Ask this series of questions, use this linguistic trick, turn the tables on them…improper use of these “moves” stands out to every prospect. To that point, here is an excellent excerpt from a recent Eye on Sales article: We’ve all been taught the difference between closed-end and open-ended questions. We’ve been given instructions on when to use which type question.  Some trainers have given us formulas; others have given us specific questions to ask. It’s these detailed guidelines that seem to get many sellers… Read More

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3 Ways The Brain Handles Info

This article is from Eye on Sales with some key points about how our brains handle information (emphasis mine): It all goes back to how your brain is wired to work. Despite how advanced our technology has become, the brain inside your head is brilliantly primitive. There are really only three ways that our brain handles any information that it receives: If it’s boring or expected, the brain ignores it. If it’s too complex, the brain dramatically summarizes it. If it’s threatening, the brain makes you fight or run. So what you’re saying doesn’t really matter. Especially if the brain in the person listening to you is feeling threatened or… Read More

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A Not So Amazing Stat

Just read a resume that boldly stated, “Made over 500 cold calls in 1 year.” One year. In my younger days, I was in sales jobs that required at least 50 cold calls a day so cranking out 500 in a year is…underwhelming.

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Emotional Decision Making

This excerpt is from the Herman Trend Alert and it highlights a very important fact for all salespeople (emphasis mine): "Loyalty will focus more on emotions than on rational, incentive-based initiatives." According to behavioral economists, economic decision-making is 70 percent emotional and 30 percent rational. Thus, the loyalty programs that touch us emotionally will work the best; those that focus on the emotional side of the decision making process will create connected, passionate, and engaged customers. Expect to see more emotional appeals that involve our families, relationships, those in need, etc. I’m going to breeze right past the “behavioral economists” title (sounds like a great description for a salesperson) and… Read More

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ROE Over ROI

Here is a somewhat ethereal concept I have been encountering in this present economy.  It starts with this – return on investment (ROI).  ROI has been the backbone of sales since time immortal.  This is the basis of sales in that customers pay the money to receive the solution.  As long as the customer views the return on their investment as greater than the investment, they will make the purchase (generally speaking). The top-performing salespeople possess this motivation pattern (called Utilitarian).  They view prospects in terms of ROI – how much return ($) will I receive if I invest time to close them.  This principle has changed in the present… Read More

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Selling Through Cycles

A thought I had about sales approaches based on economic conditions: Booming Economy – Salespeople should focus their message (value proposition) on efficiency and velocity.  Their solution should essentially provide an improvement in productivity. Recessionary Economy – Salespeople should focus their message on reducing waste/improving profits.  Their solution should provide a method for getting more out of what the customer has today. Perhaps I am oversimplifying things, but I think this approach has merit.

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