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Everyone hates “Sales People” BUT they love “Experts”

Solo oily heed text

Everyone hates sales people – admit it you do as well – even sales people hate sales people!

When a sales person approaches you in a store and asks “can I help you” unless you are in the Apple Store or maybe PC World you automatically say “no thanks just looking”.  Even if you are not just looking, even when you really could do with a second opinion on which shirt goes with the trousers you just picked out.  When a telesales person gets you on the phone you will rarely give them the chance to tell you about the deal they have for you or the service they offer.  At the networking event when someone you just met delivered his elevator pitch before you have even had a conversation and tried to force his card on you, the only person watching who didn’t know that you were not going to do business is the salesman.

The rare exception I mentioned was when you go into the Apple Store or PC World you actively seek out the salesman to ask advice we value their expertise, you understand that you may know less than them and so you are desperate to tell them what we need, how we will use it and how much you can afford and boy will their advice influenced your buying decision.

Why?

Because everyone hates “Sales People” BUT they love “Experts”.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

In the 80s and 90s sales people were trained to push information, to state the features and benefits overcome objections and then try to close the deal.  The world has moved on but sales training in the main hasn’t.  People don’t want to be sold to they want to be engaged, advised and empowered to make the buying decision themselves.   Engaging means sharing expertise, questioning and delving deep into the needs and wants of the buyer, engaging is far more powerful than running through the old style sales script.  Engaging empowers the buyer to make the decision, it is easier than selling, it’s more fun AND everyone I coach to engage increase their sales by at least 25%.

So stop selling people what you want them to buy and start engaging and helping people buy what they really need.

Fortunately becoming an expert is easy, yes you need to read your product manual and service level agreement etc but that’s just background info.  The best way to become an expert and be loved by your clients is to ask questions.  A field sales person will meet between four and a dozen buyers a day, a telesales person will talk to at least 20 decision makers a day and a retail sales person will talk to up to a hundred.

Now imagine if those sales conversations were used to engage and to understand the reasons that the buyers may want to buy and to understand the problems and pain experienced by the buyers of their service.  How long would it take for every one of them to become real experts in their marketplace, to be able to offer really credible advice and to share information that will empower the buyers, make them respect the sales person and make it far more likely that they will buy?

Results can be instant but to make engaging a habit and get 25% plus sales increases usually takes people I coach about three weeks.  The person in every business that is best placed to access the knowledge required to become an expert is the sales person but most of them just keep trying to force the sale through rather than listening to reasons that their prospect needs to buy and that’s a pity because everyone hates sales people BUT they love experts.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise Be Brilliant

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How to drive Instant and Easy Organic Sales Growth

Arrow textI get really angry and frustrated sometimes when I consult with sales managers who say they are desperate to increase sales and then tell me that their solution is to make more sales calls and increase the activity levels of the sales team.

If your sales guys are making more than 50 contacts a day then they are NOT sales people they are order takers.  If you have a team of order takers and especially if your average order value is so low that the decision to buy can be instant then you could get most of your current sales via e-commerce, a good email campaign or at least a much lower paid customer service team.

If you are going to hire real sales people you need them to sell so that your business can grow. You need to have deeper conversations with fewer and more highly targeted buyers and crucially invest more time in your existing clients that have with the potential to drive organic growth.

In this Blog I am going to concentrate on Account Management as less than half of the businesses I meet that NEED an Account Management approach have one and most of those that say that they Account Manage usually don’t have a clue as to what Account Management really means.

So what is Account Management?

Well it is not ‘just being a bit nicer to your best accounts’ which sums up the answer I get from most people. It is consultative selling turbo charged and mixed with a strategic approach to selling to your most valuable accounts.  By strategic approach I mean you actually have to have a strategic plan, set objectives, goals, strategies and measures for each key account.

OK here is the sales bit – Account Management is a strategic process for maximising the revenue and profit opportunities within your top accounts – and its not that complicated!

Take a look at your client base – 80% of your revenue comes from your top 20% of clients.  Don’t believe me get the spreadsheets out and do the math, in any mature professional sales business this 80/20 rule applies and it’s called – Pareto’s Law.

Now ask your self the question – Which of your clients do your competitors want?  Yup that’s right whilst your team are cold calling 100 people a day who don’t want to speak to you your competitors are calling your best clients and (because they can’t sell either) offering them a discount to move their business away from you.

If you don’t engage your most important clients on a deeper level then you are vulnerable to cost cutting but here is the good news

  • It is 50% easier to increase your sales to existing clients than it is to find new ones of the same value
  • Pricing can be 10-20% higher on a well managed account over time!
  • If you target fast growing companies and then Account Manage them your sales will grow organically and you won’t have to win more business to increase your turnover.
  • Account Management vastly reduces customer churn

So should your business adopt a Strategic Account Management approach?

Intelligise – Account Management Questionnaire (5 mins)

Answer the following questions of your company YES or No and then count the YES answers to find out:

  1. If you need to adopt a Strategic Account Management approach
  2. If Account Management is right for you what level of sales and price increase should you expect to generate after one year.

Questions

  1. Do you sell mainly on a lower price than the competition?
  2. Do you have transactional relationships rather than close relationships with your larger customers?
  3. Are you in a position to give knowledgeable advice so that clients could make smarter purchases and use your products more effectively if only they would listen?
  4. If your customers used your products more effectively would there be additional revenues to be had for your company?
  5. Are your clients unaware of that you could do for them?
  6. Are your larger clients loyal only till someone offers them a better price?
  7. Do your clients often have offices in other locations / divisions / subsidiaries that you could also service but don’t?
  8. Do your clients have multiple budget holders and dispersed decision making?
  9. Do your sales decrease rapidly when your competitors chase your business with discounts?
  10. Do your sales efforts focus mostly on chasing new business and do you feel that in this economy that is getting harder?
  11. Would your clients find it hard to say that you were always on time and gave fantastic customer service?
  12. Do you spend more time fire-fighting customer problems than selling and driving the business forward?

Results: Number of “Yes” Statements

0 – 4 = Low requirement but you may get some benefit from handling your top two or three accounts this way

5 – 8 = Account Management approach required for your top 20% of accounts size wise as they should be generating 80% + of your total turnover. Adopting a successful Account Management strategy could result in turnover increasing by between 10 and 20%, and price by between 5 and 10%.

9 – 12 = You need to adopt a consultative selling and strategic account management approach – tout de suite – your business is vulnerable to competitor action and could decline rapidly. Adopting a successful Account Management strategy could result in turnover increasing by between 15 and 25%, and price by between 10 and 20%.

Note: If you have a large number of clients (50+), Scored between 9 and 12 on the test and currently do not adopt an Account Management approach you need to restructure your approach ASAP. If you are based in the UK get in touch today and I will see if I can help you http://www.intelligise.co.uk

Everyone else watch this space for more helpful tips on Account Management soon

Gordon Intelligise – Be Brilliant

It’s the Network Stupid

shared brainIn a legendary moment of political strategising Bill Clinton’s team were debating what issues they should run for the presidency on. Issues like abortion, fiscal policy, foreign policy, military funding, you name it were all in the mix with no agreement on what the message should be. Then came the epiphany Clinton smacked himself on the side of the head and exclaimed “it’s the economy stupid”!

This became the message of the campaign and every reporter was (no matter what was asked) was answered in terms of the economy and how Clinton’s reforms would get it going again. A sign carrying the slogan was placed above the door in the war room and after a day or two someone scribbled in pen” and don’t forget healthcare” and the biggest turnaround in presidential electoral history began.
What’s this got to do with the new golden rules of business or with getting better at sales and marketing? Well if I had my way there would be a sign above the door in every sales office in the world that said “It’s the network stupid” and after a week or two you might want to scribble “and don’t forget your business cards”. Twenty years ago you might have had a sign that said “Don’t forget to close” a decade ago the sign might have read “remember to win-win”.
One of the New Golden Rules is “No Network No Growth”.

Now I am not saying no network no sales, you can always drop your price to the point that you buy the business rather than win it but selling more product than last year at a lower price, isn’t net growth it is gross stupidity. The only growth worth having is an increased ratio of profit to turnover, if your turnover increases and your profit ratio decreases you are a busy fool and on the slippery slope to seeing all your profits disappear. Been there seen it done it!
So how do you develop a sales strategy that generates a better profit ratio? It’s the network stupid!

Your personal networking strategy is now far more important to your sales performance than your company’s product development strategy, marketing strategy or financial strategy.

I am going to make you read that twice

Your personal networking strategy is now far more important to your sales performance than your company’s product development strategy, marketing strategy or financial strategy.

Attending a networking breakfast once a month, just going to the local chamber event or taking extra business cards to a conference just doesn’t hack it anymore. You need to engage on a deeper level.

Six keys to developing an intelligised networking strategy:

  1. Care – It’s not about creating pitching opportunities it’s about connecting to and helping people. If you must think of it in sales terms then understand that nowadays (far more than ever) the relationship makes the sale.
  2. You need to Engage on a deeper level – caring widens the communication channels between yourself and others in your network. If you organise monthly networking events and connect online with people in your network on a weekly (if not daily) basis then information will flow and your market knowledge will grow. Knowledge gives you a sales advantage and an engagement advantage. Once you start the process your reputation just grows and grows.
  3. Pay it forward – Don’t give to get – just give – if you only care about your own business you are not building a network. If you genuinely care about your clients and potential clients business and show a genuine interest in them as people then you are building a relationship.
  4. Position yourself – people respond to expertise nowadays in the way that they used to respond to brands – trust is everything and the best way to establish trust is to have your peers recommend you. People don’t recommend people they have transacted with people recommend people they are connected to and people they are currently engaged with. Look at my testimonials page on http://www.intelligise.co.uk or the recommendations on my Linked-in profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/GordonMacIntyreKemp. Want to do better than that? Shoot video testimonials and put them on your site.
  5. Broadcast – As your knowledge begins to grow so will your wish to share your expertise and just as importantly your personality to the market. If you are like me you will have big thoughts and little thoughts – both are as useful to people inside and outside your network and the best ways to convey them are:
  • Blogs – look at these as macro entries in your export diary.
  • Twitter – same thing really but you are limited to 140 characters including spaces – writing tweets as they are called takes a great deal of skill and discipline and its not easy to make them interesting and relevant. I have several twitter accounts and have just started one on networking and social media – I don’t pretend to be the best but take a look at http://twitter.com/theintelligiser

6. Intellicast – People always ask me what are the best networking events to attend and they always get the same answer – the best networking event is the one you run yourself.

  • Seminars – people might not accept your cold sales call but they will actually apologise to you if they can’t make an expert seminar you invite them to. If you don’t know the best way to become an expert read points 1-5 again. Honestly are you still selling to people one client at a time?
  • Speakeasy – Got a dozen people you want to connect with but can’t find the time? Send them all an invite to a bar at 4.30pm one day and connect with them all at once – introduce them to one another and you start to create a meshwork and that’s the best kind of network.
  • Coffee catch ups – set your self a KPI (activity target) of at least two a week you don’t need to have an agenda or a pitch to make just engage and see where it goes.
  • Hot topic dinners – Like a seminar but posher and more expensive so often best used for a group including some of your VIP clients and prospects.
  • Partner Seminars – Who do you know in your network who is completely non competitive with you but targeting the same buyers? Why not share the costs of an event and cross invite your clients. As long as you add value to the event they usually say yes and it’s easy to get 50 people in a room. Need an idea ask me to present on social networking strategies it’s the hot topic at the moment.
  • Caveat – if people attend one of your events and it turns out to be a sales pitch they won’t come back. Use the event to engage, connect and pay it forward your pitch will be welcomed and listened to and trusted. What more do you want?

After a few months you will have more knowledge, deeper relationships, more trust, higher visibility and a better reputation in the market place that your competitors. In short you will become someone that people want to do business with – someone that is indispensible to your clients businesses on a level beyond just the actual transaction, or the features and benefits of your product or service.

Your personal networking strategy is far more important to your sales performance than your company’s product development strategy, marketing strategy or financial strategy.  Hopefully I don’t need to repeat that.

Video Engagment and Online Advertising

blogI think that video will have a larger role to play in business promotion in the future and that targeted digital advertising spend will dwarf traditional broadcast media advertising spend in just a few years.

If you want to make a lot of money invest in an online advertising agency as they will be swallowed up by the big ad agencies at a premium in the next five years as they will need the skills.

Anyway

I have been shooting some promotional videos for my seven sales training courses running in August and September and I would value some feedback as – well – I don’t like them!

I am absolutely sure that video promotion and video blogs and video testimonials are the future but I would give my first attempts a B minus for the sales video and a C minus for the networking video: the camera angle is wrong it needs to be eye level, lighting is cold, sound is poor and I have gone on a diet and managed to loose 8lbs since I shot them (LOL) but any observations and ideas would be well received.

You can access them here http://www.box.net/shared/zkf3d59pb5

They say “the whole world is a critic” I hope so!

thanks

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Long Live the Blog Card

The business card is dead – long live the blog card

For years people have obsessed over fonts, the placement of information, and the size of logos: networkers like to have white spacMugger blog card no logoe on the back so that people they meet can make notes on their cards at events and creative people like to cover the card with images and art.

Vista Print has made getting a business card easy but it is not the free business card phenomenon that is killing the business card; it is that business has become more personal and engagement needs to be deeper than a bit of white card with your contact details on it.  Go to Google, type in my name and in 0.34 seconds you will get 32,000 results, ten seconds later you can email me through my Linked-in page or 15 seconds later see my mobile number on my website. Double those lead times and have how long it would take me to access the same information on you via my mobile phone after I met you at a networking event.   Now tell me – how does your business card help you engage on a deeper level, how does it convey your passion and your expertise, how does it help you generate the trust required to encourage a new prospect or new contact to take the relationship to the next level?

It doesn’t: The business card is dead – long live the blog card.

Let me explain: I started this blog to help people, to share my knowledge and experiences and to help companies adjust to the new social realities of business. When I meet people in networking situations or sales meetings I want them to know that I write this blog, I want them to see that I am an expert, that I have a vision and the drive to make change happen. I also want them to see my sense of humour and more importantly to see that I am innovative and forward thinking – because – well that is what people hire me for.

So I give them a blog card (still in its beta design phase) and I want to share my idea with you. On one side the blog card has my Golden Guy Intelligise logo and all the usual contact details you would find on a normal business card, + my blog and Linked-in details etc (I don’t Twitter I use the “Gordon is” function on Linked-in). On the other side it has a teaser from my blog.

So far every card given out has generated 10 views of my blog and 70% of Blog Card recipients email to say they liked the blog and a few have even posted comments. I have not yet categorised, optimised or promoted the blog other than through Linked-in and yet after only two weeks the blog’s readership is in the hundreds.

Have a look at my draft designs and see if this concept or a similar idea will help you to engage on a deeper level – if it works for you tell your contacts you have found a blog with brilliant advice on sales, marketing and business improvement.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Leadership and the New Golden Rules

Intelligise LeadershipIn today’s paper I read that the Chancellor has backed the £9 million pay and bonus package given to Stephen Hester the man charged with turning around the fortunes of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

This begs the questions:

1. What is a CEO of a big financial institution really worth?

2. What is the definition of a very modern major general any way?

I had a meeting with RBS this week at their spectacular Gogarburn headquarters (just outside Edinburgh) and it struck me that RBS a once great company actually is still a great company – it had been failed not by its people but by its system of leadership.

The human brain (amazing as it is) is extremely limited (if you don’t think so you are not as clever as you think you are) and a business as complex as one of the worlds largest banks can not be run by one man. With staff in the hundreds of thousands a major financial institution has almost unlimited brain power. Surely modern leadership is all about capturing and utilising an organisation’s shared knowledge? It isn’t about having one man make all the decisions and everyone else fall into line.

The Chancellor explained “To earn his full £9 million Stephen Hester would have to generate £15bn profit” and here lies the problem. As I have pointed out above the logic is flawed, it is the combined effort of all the banks employees that will earn the £15bn and the new core skill of leadership is facilitation not the ability to enact a military style dictatorship by a solo super leader. To earn £15bn you bet the RBS will have to cut staff and given it is now a publicly owned company that will cause problems in public perception not yet unforeseen by government or the bank itself.

We now live in a society where you can find out when Stephen Fry is having a cup of tea even if you have never met him. The internet, mobile apps, knowledge management, social networking and 24/7 information access has given companies access in a previously unheard of way to the brainpower, opinions, experiences and attitudes of the workforce. Ignoring this and continuing with the “super leader delusion” that led the financial system to collapse is the very definition of modern major stupidity.

To be fair Stephen Hester may well see himself as a facilitator, a team leader, as passionate about his staff, and maybe he is. Put yourself in the shoes of any multi millionaire CEO and think about the lifestyle you would lead and ask yourself this question; How in touch with the lifestyles of receptionists, nurses, small businessmen, firemen, refuse collectors, teachers, even local bank branch managers, in other words your staff and your customers?

In every financial institution that failed there were dozens even hundreds of staff (frontline, middle and senior management) who knew what was happening but felt they couldn’t do anything about it. Even people outside the banks knew what was going on – I myself as a Director of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce had an opportunity to lobby David Blanchflower on the Bank of England Monitory Policy Committee to act quickly to head off a credit crunch led recession ‘this was back in April 2007’. He told me that “Scotland in particular had been performing well” and “he didn’t think that my premonitions of economic doom were merited”.

They called the leaders of the banks and fast growing financial institutions the “Masters of the Universe” we will get our economy back when we collectively reject the delusion of super leadership and understand that the real “Masters of the Universe” are you, me, the customers, the staff, ordinary people who have the conversations that create economies.

Is Stephen Hester is worth the £9m if he turns the bank round without loosing tens of thousands of jobs?  I don’t think one man or even a management team can achieve that but I will bet his staff know how. If he can harness their collective intelligence £15bn will be small fry but who gets the bonus?

Must we live in an upside down world?

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise – Be Brilliant

Top 10 Mistakes Salespeople Make – #4 Mugging the Buyer

#4 Mugging the Buyer

Mugger textSo when is the right time to close a sale? “Close early and as often as you can”, remember that little gem from sales class circa 1970. Things have moved on and the old fashioned closing techniques don’t work any more.

In today’s relationship and trust driven sales environment if you use a hard close you may as well have pulled out a gun and mugged the buyer for his wallet for all the long term value you will get from that relationship?

Everyone hates sales people! Admit it, when they call your home you can’t wait to hang up the phone, when they approach you in a store you insist you are “just looking” even though you need advice. That is why I train people to be Client Engagement Specialists it’s still sales but buyers WANT to do business with them.

The right time to close is when you have eliminated all the danger in doing business with you. It’s not when you have finished listing the features and turning them into benefits or when the buyer has asked five questions or when you have managed to get him saying yes to a bunch of dumb questions. It is when you have established enough trust for him not to perceive any danger in buying from you.

The Sales process THEN and NOW:
1. Then – In the past the process was different you called enough people to get a set number of meetings. Now – Cold calling is declining in effectiveness (it doesn’t work anymore). If you used to make 10 calls to get a meeting I bet its now 20-30. Training and recruitment sales (sold in most cases sold by cold calling) are suffering the worst with some companies laying off 20-30% of the sales staff.

2. Then – You turned up five minutes early to see if there was a brochure in reception you could have a quick look at (if you were really good you got the receptionist to tell you something interesting). Now- There is so much information about companies and on individuals on the internet, on Linked-in and Facebook etc, buyers will expect you to have done your homework and already be an expert on the company and its marketplace.

3. Then – You asked a few stock relationship building questions and launched into the presentation. Now – You need a relationship before you get the meeting, face time networking, online contact, referrals and recommendations are key and if you are old style they are hard to get.

4. Then – You present the features and benefits. Now – The buyers should be able to get all the information they want on features and benefits from your website and won’t be impressed that your machine has a red button or that you insist on presenting twenty minutes of meaningless drivel.

5. Then – You get them saying yes, mirror their body language, and destroy those objections. Now – Manipulation isn’t seen as a great way to get people to like you and start a relationship. Everyone knows these techniques and they are as obvious as a mugging and far more likely to kill the trust and kill the sale.

6. Then – Close with action questions like “When would you want me to deliver?” or “Would prefer that in black or red?” Now – Because of the new social realities of business you are not closing a transaction but opening a business relationship. The only close that still works most of the time is to “agree the next steps” and the buyer is as likely to ask for that as you are (they ask, you suggest, there is your close).

The social dynamics of business have changed yet many people are still refusing to change the way they sell. It’s a bit like trying to watch Digital TV with an analogue only set, currently you can still get a limited set of channels but soon the signal will be switched off and your TV will be redundant. Change and change now or you too will be redundant soon

No mater how good your pitch, if you haven’t established trust you haven’t removed the danger of buying from you.

The problem is that generating trust often can’t be done in the sales meeting as two thirds of trust is not directly related to the meeting.
• What people say about your company
• Your website saying the same thing as you do in the sale meeting
• Your Facebook not being about getting drunk and partying (for the younger guys and girls)
• Having more than two connections and no recommendations on Linked-in
• Doing your homework on the company and the buyer
• Making sure your blog doesn’t have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors (err no scratch that one!)
• And finally what clients say about you in their testimonials and were you referred or do you still need to cold call people?

Your personal brand, your company’s reputation, your professionalism and your genuine interest in helping the other person are what close the sale nowadays NOT an old style closing technique.

So stop mugging the buyer and start being the sort of person people want to do business with.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp