July 2014 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • How to Differentiate Yourself from Your Competition by Bill Lee >>
  • How to Become Invaluable to Your Customers by Jim Meisenheimer >>
  • How to Get People to Actually DO Something by Art Sobczak >>
  • Is your ROI Too Good to be True? by Michael Nick >>

How to Differentiate Yourself from Your Competition
by Bill Lee

When prospects ask you the question: "What's Your Price?" the worst decision you can possibly make is to answer that question before you have added value.

When prospects prematurely ask me my price, I do everything in my power to dodge the question and begin asking questions of my own I have designed to raise the odds the price I eventually do quote will go uncontested. Here are a few examples:

• "Before we get into pricing, please tell me a little bit about your business."

• "What techniques do you use to attract new customers?"

• "What obstacles do your company's salespeople face that prevents them from achieving their full potential?"

• "What do your prospects tell you is the number one reason they buy material from one of your competitors instead of you?

• "Would you please tell me the biggest challenges you believe your salespeople are currently facing."

Why am I asking these type questions? Because my goal was not to quote the prospect, it was to earn the right to quote by differentiating myself from the other salespeople who are soliciting his business. My goal is to find out what I can do to help this customer or prospect. The primary way I earn a prospect's business is to first do something for my prospect that he/she cannot do for himself.

Most salespeople answer the price question the prospect asks and they answer it prematurely. When they do so, they have given the prospect an open invitation to tell them their price is too high.

The salespeople themselves must be skilled at asking good open- ended questions and delivering the resources the builder needs to win the battle for business their respective markets.

Bill Lee is a consultant and sales trainer to building supply business owners and managers. For more information to BillLeeOnLine.com or dial 803-303-8366


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How to Become Invaluable to Your Customers
by Jim Meisenheimer

Did you ever wonder why some words mean more than others? For
example the word "Value." By itself it has one meaning. Add
the suffix "less" and it doesn't mean as much. With the prefix
"In" added to the word "valuable" its meaning changes dramatically.

Salespeople seek to increase the value of their products and
services without always being successful. If you want to become
invaluable, you must first increase your value. You do it by
putting something in to the existing value.

Here are eleven things you can do to substantially increase your
value, real and perceived, to your customers.

1. Do lots of little things.
There's an old saying that little things mean a lot. In sales
it's untrue because the little things mean everything. Remember,
the little things are paramount. Examples include: handwritten
personal notes, birthday cards, a warm and sincere thank you after
an order has been received, are several examples of little things
that often mean a lot to people.

2. Always be positive.
Your attitude casts a big shadow. Is it the one you want it to have?
Acting positively is a function of thinking positively. The only way
to act positively is to constantly fill your head with positive
thoughts. A quick way to check your attitude is to observe your
reflection of the person you're with. Your attitude is everything
about everything.

3. Tell customers what you are doing for them.
Be sure you share the reasons regarding how and why you do things.
Don't ever assume that your customers know too much about you, your
products, or your company. A well informed customer is a loyal one.
This goes double for bad news. If you're going miss a delivery schedule,
call them with the reasons and the revised schedule. They'll appreciate
your directness.

4. Keep asking questions.
It's the only road to discovery. Ignorance is never bliss. Questions
show your interest; and after lots of good questions, you'll end up
knowing an awful lot about your customer. The more you know about
your customers, the easier it'll be to personalize your solutions
using your products. And for Pete’s sake take good notes!

5. Ask, how are we doing?
Don't assume everything is going according to your customer's
expectations. Always keep in mind that your customer is someone
else's prospect. Make certain you keep well-informed on all areas
of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, no matter how small it is.

6. Ask, how can we do it better?
If you liked the last question, you should love this one. This
is the essence of letting your customers drive the momentum of
your business. Asking about the little things that would make
your products and services better, telegraphs to your customers
that you care and value their input. If you know how they would
make it better before the competition does, you'll never lose the
loyalty of your customers.

7. Listen carefully.
There are two distinct benefits for sales reps who listen to their
customers. First, you'll be very popular with them. Second, you'll
probably learn something you didn't know. Listening increases knowledge
and builds rapport faster than anything else in the world.

8. Speak right.
For people who sell and communicate, the words you use will differentiate
you from all competitors.

Careless language is no better than a misspelled word. Remember the
importance of impact; try to grab your audience at the very beginning
of your talk or presentation. To be really effective and memorable,
focus on a strong opening and a memorable closing. We are judged not
only by what we say, but increasingly by how we say it.

Think of the world as your stage.

9. Think platinum.
The golden rule created during Biblical times shouldn't be forgotten
as much as it should be modified for today's business environment. The
golden rule says you should treat people the way you want to be treated.

In sales, that unfortunately puts the focus on you rather than on the
customer where it should be. The platinum rule simply says to treat
people the way they want to be treated. Apply that to your customers
and watch your sales take-off.

10. Empower those on whom you rely.
Salespeople rely on customer service personnel, product managers,
shipping clerks, manufacturing representatives, accounts receivable
staff, research and development departments, and upper management to
adequately serve their customers.

Too many sales reps try to shield their customers from people at the
home office under the banner of "Nobody knows my customers like I do."
Give others in your organization an opportunity to serve your customers
and watch them rise to the occasion for you.

Oftentimes, this will free you up to start selling more.

11. Award "Little Oscar's."
Recognize that recognition motivates. Most people can count on
recognition for every home run they hit. For most of us there are
lots of innings between home runs. Folks are starving for recognition.

Even in its simplest form, it packs a tremendous wallop. Handwritten
notes work great, phone calls, flowers, a bottle of wine, a lunch or
dinner, and even a very warm and sincere thank you all create recognition
for the people who help you.

Remember you determine the value that your customers see. Add value at
every opportunity you get.

Also remember that profitability is the applause of a happy customer.

Make sure you check out Jim's Sales Trailblazer program: http://salestrailblazer.com

Jim is a Sales Strategist and is the creator of No-Brainer Selling Skills. He shows salespeople and entrepreneurs how to increase sales, earn more money, have more fun, and how to do it all in less time. His focus is on practical ideas that get immediate results. He offers Advanced Sales Management Workshops, Sales Coaching, Consulting, In-house Sales Training Programs, and a wide variety of Learning Tools i.e. books, special reports, sales manuals, and CDs.Jim Meisenheimer is a member of The National Speakers Association, where he earned the C.S.P. designation, Certified Speaking Professional. He has authored five books including, "The 12 Best Questions To Ask Customers," and the recently published “57 Ways To Take Control Of Your Time And Your Life”.

Websites: http://www.startsellingmore.com


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How to Get People to Actually DO Something
by Art Sobczak

Here's something you've probably experienced too:

I bumped into an old acquaintance at the grocery store.
We played on the same rec basketball team over 25 years ago and all the guys would go for beers after games.
I haven't seen him since then, and wouldn’t have recognized or remembered him.
He recognized me, and after exchanging small talk about the younger days, he awkwardly suggested we get together sometime.
Uh oh.
You know the feeling.
I've got really good friends I want to make time to see more and want to be with. I sure didn't want to commit to carving out time with someone that was just a fringe acquaintance from the late 80’s.
So I used the universal wienie way out:
"Yeah, we should do that sometime."
He ended with the equally-wishy washy phrase,
"Let's stay in touch," perhaps suggesting he didn't want to get together any more than I did.
What was missing from the conversation, which would have firmed up the idea of actually getting together, was the attachment of specifics and very importantly, a time frame.
For example, if either of us said,
“Great, how about Happy Hour on Friday at The Office bar down the street?”,
that would have forced a decision.
Similar scenarios happen in sales situations.
I see far too many sales opportunities lost because time frames are not attached to wishes, or intentions.
For example, recall situations where someone said,
"We'll need to talk about that ...".
It's a safe bet that this intention is never followed through. If you're serious about it, get others to commit to time frames when you hear these wishes or intentions.
For example,
Prospect: "We'll need to talk about it."
Caller: "Yes we will. Let's do it now." Or, "Let's schedule a call to do that."
Prospect: "Something we'll need to do sometime is have those accessories installed."
Caller: "I agree. How about next week?"
Prospect: "We'll have to get around to that at some point."
Caller: "Yes, we will. I suggest putting it on the agenda for the next call."
Best Yet: Get them to attach the time frame.
Caller: "Mike, by what date will you have those figures ready?"
Caller: "Susan, when will you recommend my proposal to your boss?
It's simple; attach time frames and things happen.
State wishes and desires and they float away.

Action Step: The next time you are faced with a nebulous discussion of a possible future event, get specific and attach a time frame to actually make it happen.

Now, continue making this your best week ever!

About the Author:
Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople--both inside and outside--designing and delivering content-rich programs that participants begin showing results from the very next time they get on the phone. Audiences love his "down-to-earth,"entertaining style, and low-pressure, easy-to-use, customer oriented ideas and techniques. He works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them get more businesses by phone. Art provides real world, how-to ideas and techniques that help salespeople use the phone more effectively to prospect, sell, and service, without morale-killing "rejection." Using the phone in sales is only difficult for people who use outdated, salesy, manipulative tactics, or for those who aren't quite sure what to do, or aren't confident in their abilities. Art's audiences always comment how he simplifies the telesales process, making it easily adaptable for anyone with the right attitude.

Contact Info
Art Sobczak
Business By Phone Inc.
Phone: (480)699-0958
Fax: (402)895-9399


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Is your ROI Too Good to be True?
by Michael Nick

One of the most common challenges sales professionals share with me is when they use a Return on Investment (ROI) model in their sales process the numbers come out too good. The results are simply not believable. Too often the prospect looks at the Business Case and says there is no possible way to reach these results.

In the next few paragraphs I will teach you a technique you can use to bring your results into line with the real world. However, putting this issue aside for a moment I would like to talk about process first.

Sales process is a key factor to sales success. More specifically the discovery phase of the sales process. Discovery is where you meet with a prospect and identify their issues, pains, and goals. This discussion is absolutely vital to the success of not only the ROI, but the entire sale. If you lack discovery skills, or don’t have a set of questions that help you completely understand the problems your prospect is facing, then your chance of winning are diminished greatly.

Discovery is where you begin to collect the data that is used to complete an ROI model. The questions must drive the ability to capture and calculate the prospects current cost of status quo. What this means is discovery is performed in two parts. First identify pain, second calculate the cost of said pain. Once you able to feel comfortable with this activity, next you will want to have the key discussion of goal setting.

Goal setting is where you and your prospect break down their issues one at a time and determine what value is needed to deliver a successful project. In other words if the prospect has an issue of spending too much on inventory carrying costs, then you must (with the prospect) determine how much value you need deliver to bring their carrying costs in alignment. Another great example is your prospect manages a sales force of 100 sales professionals. Only 40% of the team achieves quota. You must (again with your prospect) determine how many additional sales professionals they need to achieve quota to consider your solution a success.

The point of this exercise is to establish three key measurements:

  • Determine issues pains and goal
  • Capture and calculate current cost of status quo
  • Establish a goal to reduce costs, increase revenues and / or avoid costs

There is no need to be aggressive in your goal setting. Most prospects want big returns on an individual line item basis. Herein lies your problem with “too good to be true” syndrome. Your first step in bringing an ROI into alignment is to look for ways to deliver small incremental values to each line (issue, pain or goal) in your ROI. When you add up the entirety of document you will realize the ROI is bigger than you thought.

Next, add a calculation called a “risk factor” to your ROI Model and use it in your discussion with your prospect. A risk factor looks at the estimated value returned (prospect goal established) and factors it (typically down) to take into account the risk of not delivering all of the value estimated.

Here is an example:

Current Inventory carrying costs = $1,000,000
Established goal = Reduce carrying costs by 25% or $250,000 in the first year
Risk factor = 50%
Result: First year goal = $125,000 ($250K *50%) 

The key to this exercise is the discussion around the risk factor. You will want to explain your goal remains at 25% reduction in carrying costs, however there is a risk in achieving this goal. The risks include internal issues at your prospects location, employee pushback, issues arising that are out of your control, etc. Therefore, we are establishing several potential measurement points.

You will want to determine the risk factor with your prospect. The percentage you select is irrelevant because it will reduce the goal established by some factor. Any reduction helps bring the goals into alignment with a more logical expectation of the results.

I cannot encourage you enough to be very conservative in your approach. I would also look into a 360 degree ROI program where you are able to measure the results and use the data to prove your deliverables over time.

Here is a synopsis of using a risk factor:

  • Identify issues pains and goals
  • Capture and calculate current cost of status quo
  • Establish a goal for cost reductions, revenue improvements, and / or cost avoidances
  • Determine a risk factor and calculate likely results—keeping in mind the original goals established
  • Discuss the impact of using a risk factor

For more information on this and more take a look at my book The Key to the C-Suite.

About The Author:

Michael Nick is considered to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of value estimation selling. Michael’s first book, ROI Selling (Dearborn Publishing ©2004) was a business best seller. In 2010, Simon & Schuster picked up the reprint rights giving ROI Selling another five years of availability in the market.

Over the past 13 years Michael has worked with Companies like, HP, Autodesk, Fiserv, Ingersol Rand, Trane, NEC, Checkfree, Bomgar, Rockwell Automation, Oracle, Great Plains,and more.

Visit him at: http://www.roi4sales.com

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