THE SALES PATH LESS TRAVELED

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In general the purchase decision boils down to a solution and a problem as quantified by a person, or group of. Someone or some business needs something fixed or built and then a search for solution begins. Most sales people are looking for these people who are looking for a solution. The most traveled sales path is a game of GO FISH. Every so often, the sales person needs to contact their prospect and ask if they are yet in search mode. You know, “just touching base”. Checking to see if you have any kings? There are others playing against you. And like the card game, this sales game is about being the lucky one to call at just the right time? The less traveled path is to build a relationship with the person based on how you approach problems. Examples of what you have done are helpful but more helpful, is the process by which you assessed the problem that led to a solution. The fundamental difference between the two paths is that the path less traveled focuses on the prospect and the process by which problems are defined. The more traveled approach is focusing on solutions. On the less traveled path, we speak with prospects and discuss the process by which we approach and appreciate problems. This path is that of the trusted adviser. underdog-meet-for-coffee

WE BUY AS WE READ?

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When reading the paper, I skim headlines, sometimes read lead paragraphs and sometimes read the article.

Is this selection process similar to the purchase decision?

The articles I read, like the things I buy, are interesting to me; and ”interesting” is that which is similar (or non-threatening) to what I already think and believe.

I will not read the entire article if it is disagreeable or contrary to my thinking. Reading the full article is akin to buying the product.

May I propose that people buy that which interests them, is similar to them, fits their current mindset and or situation. And people will not buy that which is too far from their current mindset.

People prefer to serve their current position and will not be open to something too different.

This seems congruent with the proposition that people do not like change, big change. Big change is disagreeable or contrary.

But, we all want, or at least have an interest in, better. And so, the change we want is small and gradual.

And so when bringing something to market pay attention to each prospective buyer as the individual they are. Understand their current position because where they are now is most critical to their decision to change (buy your offer.)

Do you know your prospective buyer’s mindset? Your product value remains constant, the difference in the likelihood of sale is the buyer and how close are they to your product value.

That which is for sale is somewhere between near and far from the buyer’s mindset; that which is purchased is near.

I base this proposition on my reading selectivity. I think it a similar decision.

Do you?

SMALL AND SLOW THE WAY TO GO

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SMALL: A small, very well-defined and identified niche will yield better results than a large and vaguely defined mass market; especially true for we who have very little advertising budget.

Are sales made or are they found? Perhaps both, but if we find better prospects, shouldn’t we make more sales?

SLOW: A sales process that has more steps would be considered slower, right? Adding a meeting to your sales process would take more time — slower.

The case for slower:

[1] What do you call someone you have never met?

Stranger.

[2] What did your mother tell you about strangers?

Don’t talk to them and for goodness sakes, don’t buy something from them!

[3] Thus, the first time we meet a prospect, let’s remove the issue of being a stranger.

Take this first meeting, the entire first meeting, and build rapport and perhaps some trust, so our next meeting can be all about business .

Adding this one step will make your process slower and it will make your next meeting better.

Small and Slow … the way to go … for more sales.

Differentiating your response to “What do you do?”

Differentiation

Perhaps the most often asked question in human existence is, “What do you do?”

The answer is frequently called an elevator pitch.There are many different formats and strategies to crafting this answer. And we seldom stay with the same one for very long. Therefore, we might be better served to have several different answers.

Here are 5 different takes on your “quick pitch”:

[1 – Exceed Help] Don’t use the verb “help”. Do something more meaningful.

[2 – They hire me to] In one sentence mention one of your niche markets and the reason they hire you.

Small business owners in Charlotte hire me to rewrite their Linkedin profiles.

[3 – I Solve] State boldly, “I solve this”, after a brief statement of the problem you solve.

You know how business people tend to delay and avoid their bookkeeping and accounting responsibilities? I solve this Problem. I solve it by ….

[4 – The Lean Couplet] There is much written today about the Lean Start-up and the Lean canvas. When this methodology is focused on a business, it begins with 2 questions that must always be answered in tandem:

[1] What is the problem that your business solves? And [2] Who specifically has this problem?

One person businesses (solo-preneurs) wear many hats and have constant issues with time. Finding and meeting with new prospects is a time-consuming, inefficient and important exercise. I teach them how to use Linkedin to meet with a steady and planned number of prospects every week, spending little time.

[5 – Glorious Result] After the problem has been determined and you have been hired and did your thing, what did the customer then experience?

My customers are business owners who now know for sure that their sales people are well paid and that their company bottom line is and will be as forecast.

Too many times our “quick pitches” are not quick and not memorable.Next time, be armed with several answers and use the one that might best suit the person who asked.

PS — 2 extra thoughts on differentiation:

[1] Avoid superlative adjectives. They are over-used. Simple unadorned sentences are more professional.

[2] Being “passionate” is over-used today. Just because you really really enjoy doing something does not add anything to the customer’s decision to hire you.

b2b Tribe — New Magazine Serving Business Owners in Mecklenburg County

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Business owners – we who own and operate – we are 90% of all licensed businesses. We are best served when we serve each other. This magazine is devoted to us. Here we can learn who we are and what we do. It is a brilliant resource for owner operators. Sign up and then meet up. What if, we collaborate more among ourselves?

Fabi Preslar, owner operator of Spark Publications, is inventor, publisher and editor.

First, we need subscribers. It’s free, sign up at b2btribe.com. And then, what if we collaborate more with each other? What if all our suppliers and vendors were our own neighbors? Can we raise the tide to float more boats?

There are many business resources within Mecklenburg county aimed to serve and assist small business owners and operators. If you have not already, you might reach out to these Charlotte resources;learn of their value; connect with them on Linkedin,

Ronnie Evans / SBA Network

Mike McGraw / GoSmallBiz

Bill Franklin / Mindset

Wanda Montano / TAB

David Cauble / Network Charlotte

Jeff Green / Collaborative Ventures

Richard Marcus / Vue Coaching & Sales TRaining

Jeff Wolfberg / CEO Focus

Don Minges / Fractional CFO

Gary Nowicki / Ace of Sales

Dick Timpone / Local Marketing Associates & . . .

Heather Johnson / The Creative Stack

They all bring value and support to Mecklenberg county business owners and they’re all members, I’m pleased to say, of Street Smart Sales Forum.

Business owners – we who own and operate – are 90% of all licensed businesses. What if we collaborated more often among ourselves?

I think this magazine can and will help. Subscribe. Meet each other. Collaborate.

YAKTIVIST OR ACTIVIST

DO IT

The “yaktivist” is one who talks more than they do.

It’s hard to know what or who a person is until they are seen in action. It’s activity that defines a person. Be careful of smooth talkers. And keep a reserved opinion of them until their actions are seen, heard or felt.

There is one particular American occupation that exemplifies this point – politician. Partly, this is due to the process by which they get hired. For until they get elected, we have no idea what their actions might be. Until they get elected, they are all words.

So too are we who sell. Until a prospect buys and uses and experiences our solution, we too are mostly words.

Sellers can and should learn from politicians. Their use of words is usually very smart. And if we can figure out a way to display some action within and during our sales process, perhaps we can enhance our influence.

EXTRAORDINARY IS NOT ORDINARY

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Whom do you serve?

Who is your best customer?

Who is the one for whom you can do something extraordinary?

This idea was inspired by Seth Godin who wrote …

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/03/compromise-design-and-the-literal-edges.html

Seth writes about making an improvement to a product. I’m suggesting we improve our customer selection. To whom exactly can we be of extraordinary help?

Think small. Think narrow. Be specific and for each prospect carefully craft a customer acquisition strategy. Plan several visits and be prepared for each. Speak about challenges and how they arose and how wonderful things might be if fixed.

Seth writes that there is safety in compromise and similarly there is safety in a large market. When we contact new prospects and they do not immediately buy, we take comfort in the next prospect. We know that there are many more we can contact. We do not make a customer-focused effort with each one because we are already moving towards the next one.

Extraordinary is not ordinary. If you want your prospects to think that you are extraordinary, you might begin by thinking that they are.

HOW MANY APPOINTMENTS WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE THIS WEEK?

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In a perfect world, with no hurdles or challenges, if you could snap your fingers and presto, your week would have — how many — meetings with prospects ready and waiting for you?

The majority of the people in my workshops do not know this answer, because, they spend so much time trying to set appointments that their real job is “appointment seeker”, not sales person. And their results are so poor.

A great week is one in which they are able to set enough appointments. This is the first metric in the pursuit of business — the appointment per contact, or per call made.

What if there was a method that would give you 1 out of every 2 or 2 out of every 3 or 8 out of every 10?What if your appointments were a given?

Linkedin, used gracefully, with a non-threatening profile can produce appointments with up to 80% of the people we choose.

INFORMATIONAL PARITY — GOOGLE IT

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Dan Pink in his book To Sell is Human introduces the concept , “Informational Parity”.. It describes almost every sales market today. It is the ubiquitous availability of information.

Today, every buyer knows everything they want or need to know about anything that they might be interested in buying. And they research it prior to contacting a vendor.

Prior to this informational explosion, way back in say 2007, sales people brought news, product knowledge and insight into their products and services. Today, not so much.

Today, no matter what the question, “google it” is a viable and very common answer.

Often, by the time the buyer contacts a seller today, the buyer is more informed about the product or service than the sales rep who will be soon arriving, which is why many companies employ sales engineers, who must know the product specs and details perfectly.

And so, if knowledge is not a differentiator, what then are buyers considering in their decision making process? Why would they choose you?

PARK YOUR PASSION

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When we first meet, your passion does not persuade. Your belief might, but your passion usually just gets in the way. It can and does make people who don’t know you uncomfortable.

Other than writing in your resume or LinkedIn profile that you are passionate, how do you actually reveal your passion?

Using every superlative in the thesaurus has no positive impact upon people who do not know you. And once you get to know someone, don’t you actually stop with the superlatives?

On the other hand, if your passion drives you to act: to get out and do something rather than just yack about your super-awesome-what-ever-ness, well then, your passion is a good and valuable thing.

The distinction is between you and them. Yes, let your passion drive you to action, but park it when talking to prospects. It makes us think you’re strange, different, weird, and not someone we might like to do business with.