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By admin

Solving the Sales Conundrum

Solving the Sales Conundrum


What has happened to your team’s sales effectiveness? Just what are they doing wrong? Many company sales leaders and CEOs ask themselves this when turnover isn’t what it should be. And it’s why they automatically assume they need a course in sales training. But is that really the case? Could their current lack of sales be down to something more than just poor sales performance?

And, anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense to find out exactly what the underlying problem really is before going ahead and spending hundreds – or thousands – of pounds on something that could be solved much easier (and at far less cost) at home instead? In this post we’ll go some way to attempting to help you solve that sales effectiveness puzzle of yours by yourself. For instance, we’ll get you to ask yourself the following questions:

What is the real problem with sales?

The reason your sales staff aren’t doing too well could be for any number of reasons, not necessarily simply their sales performance. Could the answer be, for instance, down to a lack of knowledge about the product they are trying to sell? Then again, it could be that you, as a company, haven’t provided them with the right sales tools in the first place i.e. they may have a poor Customer Relationship Management system or poor sales materials. Is the data base any good? And on that note, is the sales coach doing his job properly? Another reason could be that your selling incentives just aren’t motivating your staff enough for them to go out and give the performance of their lives.


Analyse sales performance

One way to find out for sure why your sales performance is down is to analyse the performance of your sales people – do you have the right people in the right positions to begin with? Then again, you could look at the sales pipeline to find out where exactly you need to introduce some form of training and, finally, review your sales turnover. These are the three main aspects of sales activity that an analysis of should certainly start to throw light on where it’s all going wrong.


Find out what’s missing from sales performance

Go out on the road with your sales team and find out individually how each of them really performs. Are they, for instance, as good at closing a sale as they say they are? Is there something they are missing from their sales performance? What skills are they lacking in this arena?

Get your sales staff to be fluent

If they are lacking and embark on sales effectiveness training, then encourage your staff to practice their new sales technique. It’s the only way for a sales person to achieve fluency i.e. so they are never back-footed by a question and can answer queries instantly. By practicing they will build up that particular ‘sales muscle’ and won’t be tempted to fall back into bad habits. Golfing is an analogy which is frequently referred to in this respect i.e. it can take a golfer up to 500 swings before he or she has learned a new technique.

It’s all down to role-playing and is definitely a lot like being an actor; repeating your lines until they’re word perfect. Then again, perhaps an improvisation comedian is a better analogy – they don’t know what’s coming so they’ll have several practiced scenarios up their sleeve at the one time.

Role-playing and improvisation acting also help your sales people remain present in their conversation with potential buyers – a skill that is pretty much essential when it comes to tackling a tough sale. Not only that, but it instills confidence. Knowing he or she is not going to get wrong-footed by a customer because they have already rehearsed all the possible answers, gives your sales person an added advantage.

So, how’s your team’s sales effectiveness? If poor, could it be time to give it a proper analysis, rather than just pick up the phone and order more sales performance training? Contact us at WIN Programs for more information

By admin

How to Monitor your Margins for Better Profitability

How to Monitor your Margins for Better Profitability

If you’re not satisfied with your current profit margin then it could be time the company reassesses its current offering to clients. If you’re in the business of producing products, for instance, could you add a service side too?

Certainly, an article by researcher and Professor of Marketing at the University of Cologne, Werner Reinartz, in the Harvard Business Review, pointed to the far higher profit margins that could be achieved by adding on a service provision – to the extent it may turn out that the services side is more profitable than the actual products themselves.

Selling services: a whole new ball game

But it’s not simply a case of adding on a service and getting the sales team to start pushing it. Selling is a service that is different to a product. Not only that, but the people you’re selling it to (i.e. the existing ‘product’ contacts) aren’t necessarily the correct people for sales. And, in order to ensure sales effectiveness by getting that company to invest in a service which is a completely new concept you would usually have to go higher up the management chain for approval.

In his studies of more than 20 industrial companies who started adding services to their product offerings Reinartz found that one group had profit margins for those new services which were eight times higher than its product profit margins. However, another company struggled to even break even considering the investment they had put in. Reinartz concluded this was down to the fact they didn’t take enough time to study their sales offering and tried to introduce the services too quickly.

“Successful firms begin slowly, identifying and charging for simple services they already perform and using those to build enthusiasm for adding more-complex ones,” he explained. “They then standardize their delivery processes to be as efficient as their manufacturing ones. As their services become more complex, they ensure that their sales force capabilities keep pace.”

One final step, he pointed out, was to ensure that management switched its focus from the way the company set up and delivered the services, to what the customers needed i.e. if they were having difficulties with a product or it could be made to work more efficiently, then what services could be added in order to make this happen? And what did the company need to ensure they could provide those services?

Essentially Reinartz recognised four key issues to ensure sales effectiveness when adding services to a product offering. These were:

Understanding there is already a service there

The French arm of international pharmaceuticals company Merck never charged for deliveries or insurance. When they did introduce the cost to 100 existing customers as a trial, a huge 90 per cent of them simply paid it. Only 10 per cent queried their higher bill and insisted on reverting. Once the service charges were added to every customers bill, Merck’s profit margins took quite a jump.

Reviewing and monitoring existing services

Air Liquide had the habit of sending all its customers a gas-consumption report. However, on review learned some of them didn’t even bother reading it. The company then stopped producing that service for those customers and increased its profit margins as a result.

Ensures sales are capable of selling services

Services mean longer sales cycles and decisions are made higher up. Schneider Electric encouraged its sales team to focus on cost-plus value-based pricing rather than cost-plus when introducing services. This meant educating them on how their customers’ managers justified decisions internally. In this way the sales team could help the managers ‘sell in’ the services to the decision-makers, increasing their sales effectiveness.

GE Medical Services refer to those in its sales team who sell products as ‘hunters,’ while services sellers are ‘farmers’ i.e. the latter cultivates relationships with customers in order to grow their offering over time.

Looking at customers holistically

Understanding what the customer needs to function can result in increased service offerings as forklift company Fenwick found out. After installing sensors in fork lifts they ended up selling customers new services such as remote monitoring technology and forklift driver training – to the extent their service side today makes up 50 per cent of their profit margin. As a Fenwick spokesman explained: “Whenever we can’t directly break into a customer account with a product, we’ll offer to provide services on a competitor’s product.”


For more information, contact us at WIN Programs. We’ll be happy to help!

By admin

Do you get lots of “maybe” or “I will think about it” after your first call with prospects?

Do you get lots of “maybe” or “I will think about it” after your first call with prospects?

So far, I have posted a lot of content which tells you about general mistakes in a sales call. Today we are going to talk about the situation when you do everything right but still get a “MAYBE” as an answer.

Most people subconsciously avoid decision making after the first conversation. Every sales guru knows and advises that one needs to adjust their conversation to guide the prospect to come to a decision. This can be tricky as salespeople can become very pushy. So the big question is: how do we guide the conversation while still making the prospect feel like they’re in control?

There is a very simple solution for this: set up an agenda before the meeting. It will align you and your prospect on a plan for the meeting and make sure you’re both on the same page and moving forward together toward one of three outcomes:

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Figuring out the next steps – Future meeting date & agenda

By following the above process, you are avoiding a limbo stage. The main advantage of this process is that you are saving valuable time on the lead follow-ups. This can feel awkward at first but if you practice it in your next meeting and make it your own, you will start seeing positive results that you’ll want to use again and again. If you have any specific questions or suggestions about the implementation of this process, we are here to help!

By admin

What happens to a prospect when they go dark and getting to the real objection

When I first started selling, I often experienced the following scenario.

I’d have a meeting thinking I totally nailed it, only for the prospect to go dark after my attempts to follow up.

What the heck was I doing wrong? Well there were a few things, I’d made a classic error: I’d fail to uncover the secret objection my prospect still had at the end of our conversation.

Unless you directly ask, it’s easy for a prospect not to reveal their actual objections to buying. Not only is it too hard for a prospect to pin down the objection on their own, but there’s a stigma associated with rejection, and they don’t want to feel like a bad person by doing it to you.

Also, although the prospect realised both a pain and solution, they were still stuck with an existing process and habit which is hard to break.

On my side, there was still a lot of work to do if I wanted to consistently move these deals forward. The way you can motivate someone to make a change is to continue to play investigator. A few questions I like to use are:

  • Do you want to change this? (sounds simple, but no one asks this)
  • Where would making a change like this sit on your priority list? (get specific, are you in their top three or bottom three? you can learn a lot here. maybe you can solve other priorities and they don’t know it yet)
  • How committed are you to changing this in the next ______? (this gives you a sense of timeline to close/implement assuming you’re on their priority list)

These questions sound basic, but surprisingly very few have a habit of explicitly asking them.

What is your strategy to face this situation? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

What happens to a prospect when they go dark and getting to the real objection