Saturday, June 27, 2009

Two Great Mistakes in Selling

These mistakes are very common and committed by many salespeople. If you want to be successful in your sales career, pay attention carefully to whether you do these mistakes or not. What are these most two sinful mistakes?

1. Trying to sell to everyone or every company.

This is the most terrible way to sell. In the past time, we had mostly been taught that everyone or every company was a prospect and had a possibility to buy. If you try to sell to everyone or every company, you'll surely have a bad experience in sales. This way of selling is just very ineffective and it makes you frustrated.

You'll face a lot of objections, rejections, unfriendly responses from your prospects, and the worst is that it wastes a lot of your time, energy, and even sometimes your money. It's like trying to catch the fish in any given pond or river you can find.

Instead of selling to everyone, focus your sales effort only on your qualified prospects. Profile your prospects and focus on them. Choose the right pond in which a lot of fish gather. Selling this way saves a lot of your time and energy, yet at the same time increases your efficiency and sales results.

Ok, now you'd probably say like this: "I sell office equipments. Doesn't it mean that every company needs my products?". Yes, it's correct that every company needs office equipments. But still, you should not try to sell to every company.

Perhaps the office equipments you sell are the premium ones, then you should not try to sell to small companies. Or you can profile your qualified prospects from their territory. You can even profile them based on competition existence by targeting only those companies who have not been very familiar with your top competitors.

2. Selling before collecting information.

How many times do you receive phone calls from someone trying to sell something to you, and you feel that this person just utterly wastes your busy time?

Recently, a marketing staff from a certain English course company called me. She tried to persuade me to enroll the course. I told her that the course is too far from my home and I had no time to go to the course. After all, I don't have any urgent need to sign in to any English course.

This is a very classic example of how a salesperson often forgets (or ignores?) to get the information as much as he needs to help him sell. Had the woman from that English course gathered some information about me, she would have saved a lot of her time and avoided a frustration due to my rejection.

The reason why you should acquire as much information as possible is to quickly determine whether your prospects suit the criteria of your qualified prospects. If they don't, then you can leave them immediately and move on to the next prospects. It saves a lot of your precious time, doesn't it?

Are You Sure You Want to Build Rapport with Your Prospect?

I once heard a story of a newbie salesperson trying to establish rapport to his busy prospect. It was the first time this sales rep met his prospect. Since he had already been taught before that building rapport was important in sales, he intended to apply it to that new prospect.

When this rep entered the room of his prospect, he noticed that there was a frame of fishing award or championship certificate, or sort of that, hanging on the wall. After taking a seat, the sales rep then opened the sales meeting with comment like this:

"Oh, what a great award you have! Can you tell me how you finally won that award?"

I know, this sales rep was actually attempting to create what we all call as ice-breaker. He expected to get a warm response by talking about his prospect's interest. Instead, this was the response he got:

"Forget about that damn award! Let's get down to the business."

Many salespeople have been taught that they should do a little light conversation about their prospects' interest to build rapport or ice-breaker. It's believed that it will make your prospects more relaxed and warmer. I also did this method in my sales, but I found it didn't really help my sales.

Put your feet on your prospects' shoes. They all are busy people. They have no time to waste to talk about their hobbies and personal interests. After all, they frequently meet insincere salespeople talking about their interests and hobbies. Now you come in to their office to talk about the same thing of which they know it's just your strategy to get a deal from them.

Again, sell like a professional. Come to them with your solutions, not your insincere care about their interests. Start your sales meeting with problem-oriented questions, not with stupid chat about fishing, baseball, or irrelevant question like "how did you start this awesome enterprise?". Make your sales meetings straightforward, relevant, and professional.

Instead of establishing that shallow rapport, there are more valuable things you can develop to create a deeper relationship to your prospects. These things are what I frequently try to show to my prospects. What are they?

They are trust, relevant solutions, and good service. I never use rapport to make my sales easier. In fact, it just makes my sales more difficult. Instead, I always build trust, relevant solutions, and good service. When you show these three qualities in your sales process, your prospects will respect you more than they do to those sales reps with shallow rapport. They will think that you are not just another salesperson trying to waste their time. In fact, they will start building rapport with you, not the other way around.

In fact, in B2B sales, that's what a rapport means: trust, relevant solutions, and good service.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm New in Sales, Where Should I Start From?

If this is your first day as a salesperson who has to sell to companies, you'd probably have no idea about what you should do. Due to it, most salespeople spend their time in the office doing email blast. It's quite easy and comfortable to do, but danger awaits you if that's what you always do.

A friend of mine works in an IT provider. He's new and has just started his job. He's responsible for getting more clients. In short, his job descriptions are much the same as a salesperson. At the first day of his job, he didn't know what to do or where to start from. As the result, he just sent a lot of formatted sales emails to any address he could find in Yellow Pages or internet.

This is what most rookie salespeople do. I also did.

Before you start selling, there are three important things you need to learn first. Here they are:

Product Knowledge
Have a good product knowledge before you go out to sell. Trying to sell before having information about your product knowledge is like going to the battlefield with all the great weapons but you don't know how to use them.

Company Knowledge
You need to know, for example, what procedural actions you have to take if a prospect agrees to buy, which sales form to be signed in when a sale is made, whom you should contact in your office for the shipping, what the terms of payment are, etc. Every company has different policies and procedures in this matter, so you better ask your manager about them.

Competitor Knowledge
The legendary Chinese war general, Sun Tzu, would agree with me. We have always been taught about how great OUR product is, but rarely about our competitors. It makes us falsely believe that the product we sell is the greatest product in the market. Having confidence that your product is a great product isn't wrong, but never assume that it's the greatest one and no competitors could match the greatness of your product.

Discover why some companies buy from your competitors, what the weaknesses and strengths of your product compared to theirs, how their sales force sell it, and so on. You could search it from internet, newspapers, or (this is the most valuable source) directly from your prospects.

If you are new, spend most of your time in the office learning those there important subjects. You don't have to master them all in every detail; it's too much wasting time. Just learn what you need to know sufficiently and necessarily.

I'm not saying that email blast is ineffective or shouldn't be done. In fact, this friend of mine got a lot of positive responses from the emails he sent. The problem was he just couldn't answer excellently what his prospects asked because he hadn't mastered well these three basics.

Remember, in B2B selling, the questions your prospect would mostly ask about are around these three topics. If you cannot answer them convincingly, even for some simple questions that you're supposed to be able to answer, it will quickly turn off the prospect's interest and ruin your credibility.

Do your homework.

Welcome to B2B Sales Blog

Dear salespeople,

Thank you for visiting my B2B sales blog.

In this blog, I'd like to share my knowledge and experiences in B2B selling. I believe that by sharing my sales knowledge, I also sharpen mine as well at the same time. I cannot claim myself as a sales expert, but the techniques I'm about to share here come from real sales world based on my own experiences.

I'll try to update it regularly with valuable contents about sales strategy, prospecting, making sales calls, closing, etc. The world nowadays is changing very fast and we need the latest sales techniques to stay ahead of competition. What works effectively today may not work well tomorrow.

I live in Jakarta, Indonesia, a non-English country. I'm afraid my English confuses you a little bit, as I don't really master this language. However, I'll do my best to give my best English writing.

Enjoy the reading and sell more!