Business Savvy Sales Professionals Secure More Deals

Business Savvy Sales Professionals Secure More Deals

If you look under the hood of your client’s and prospect’s business to understand what is happening in their business and financial numbers, it can turn into greater sales numbers for you.

Let me explain.

Rather than increasing product knowledge, you need to understand how business decisions are made. This is a new sales skill that helps in gathering client intelligence on how key decisions are made in your customer’s business or your next hot prospect.

The New Sales Skills: Business Acumen

It’s time to develop a business acumen for sales, especially in navigating B2B sales, to gain insight into their business.

You might be wondering what we mean by “business acumen”. Fundamentally, it means understanding how your client’s company makes and uses money and then using that knowledge to make smarter, more informed business decisions for your client.

Understand Your Client’s Financials

One of the ways of gathering client intelligence is understanding their financials. Reading and understanding a customer’s financial statements can seem like a foreign language. Below is one way to help you with this.

For publicly traded companies and/or non-profit associations, they have to post their financial statements for public access on their website under “Investor Relations”. You can easily download their annual and quarterly financial statements, annual report, and even listen to their investor relations calls and hear their CEO speak. It’s like sitting in the same room as the CEO!

It’s time to develop a business acumen for sales, especially in navigating B2B sales, to gain insight into your client's business. Click To Tweet

Client Insights You’ll Gain

Here are client insights you can gain by going through this exercise:

  • Status of their revenue over the last year
  • Status of their profits
  • Their net earnings
  • Their gross margin
  • Their EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation Assets), and how it compares to previous years
  • Forecast for the coming months or year
  • Major capital investments or acquisitions, if any
  • Cash flow (to approve the expenditure of your products or services!)
  • Major initiatives during the past year and into the future
  • Future outlook as shared by the CEO and/or Chairman of the Board
  • Changes in the Board of Directors and/or senior leadership team, if any
  • Growth strategies and outlook for the future

This information can be overwhelming, yet very insightful to better understand their future direction and to find out if your solution is the right fit and if there is budget allocation.

Change your sales mindset and instead demonstrate how you can help your clients or prospects grow their business based on their strategic initiatives. If you do this, then you grow your business acumen, your business intelligence, and ultimately your sales.

Does your team need help in developing their business acumen? Contact me at Lisa@TeneoResults.com or 519-863-3975.

Is Your Personal Brand Sabotaging Your Sales Success?

Is Your Personal Brand Sabotaging Your Sales Success?

A salesperson’s brand can help change the sales stigma and perception.

In prospecting, it’s even more critical to differentiate your personal sales brand to make a great first impression and secure the first meeting.

Mistakes in Prospecting

When prospecting, most sales professionals are asking for only 10-15 minutes of a potential customer’s time; are sending numerous generic type emails in hopes of it creating an opportunity to meet; and are using the word “unique” to differentiate their products and services.

This approach is not differentiating you or your brand.

That reality is, customers and buyers don’t want to meet with salespeople and they already have numerous vendors.

You need to find a way to differentiate yourself, and still be valuable to the buyer.

How Are You Different in a Way That’s Valuable to the Prospective Buyer?

How will you differentiate your personal sales brand in prospecting, to position you as a trusted business advisor?

1. Change your words

Many sales reps use the words that focus around:

  • pitch
  • deal
  • right products
  • quotes
  • best price
  • sell

What kind of salesperson brand does this convey?

Change your language to:

  • solutions
  • expertise
  • value
  • conversation
  • business
  • ROI – return on investment

What kind of salesperson does this convey?

How will you differentiate your personal sales brand in prospecting, to position you as a trusted business advisor? Click To Tweet
2. Do your research & customize

A unique value proposition is not about you or your services being unique. It’s about you customizing your email, your value proposition to make it unique to the customer/buyer you are approaching.

In our new Prospecting Power program, participants are quickly learning the power of doing their research about the buyer and customizing an email message or telephone call to the buyer. In this class, they are given time to customize their email and then send their email to a prospective buyer. They are surprised at how many are responding to their email within the hour. Very few sales professionals do the research and customize the message; it takes time – yet produces responses and results.

3. Send an agenda for the meeting

Very few sales professionals send an agenda for the meeting, in advance. This will differentiate you and improve your professional sales brand.

Ensure the agenda is focused on their business, not just a presentation of your company and products. You can even add your great questions to your agenda to give them time to prepare, and of course differentiate your personal sales brand.

4. Focus on their business – not your business

Is your email or telephone message focused on what you, your products and your business can do for them, or are you focusing on understanding their business, providing custom solutions and improving their business metrics?

5. Your title and email signature

What does your title and email signature say about you and your company brand? How can you improve your personal branding and position you as a trusted business advisor? This is great real estate space to link to an article, event or simply state a thought provoking question. Is your title “Sales Rep” or Territory Sales Rep or Business Advisor or Consultant?

6. Your LinkedIn Profile

Many buyers will check you out before they will agree to a meeting. What does your LinkedIn Profile branding look like? Does it demonstrate you as an expert? Is it a great professional picture? What does your summary say about you, your expertise and your brand?

7. Your clothing attire

In today’s business world, casual business attire is becoming more prevalent. What does your attire say about your brand? Do khakis and blue jeans represent your professional sales brand?

Sales Reps, work on differentiating your personal sales brand to help you in your prospecting efforts.

Why Is There Still a Stigma Associated With the Word “Sales”?

Why Is There Still a Stigma Associated With the Word “Sales”?

Why is there still a stigma attached to the word sales, even after 25 years?

And why is there still a negative association with the sales profession?

When you ask people, including salespeople, their perception of a sales professional, you’ll still hear reference to the “sleazy car salesperson” – a profession ranked only second to politicians in least respected jobs according to a Global News Report from 2018.

Even though I’ve been in sales for over 25 years, it’s pathetic that this negative perception of salespeople still exists, and the needle has moved very little.

What do sales professionals have to do to change this perception?

It’s simpler than you think.

The good news is that the demand is very high for sales professionals with no immediate signs of it slowing down.

Professional Sales is ranked as one of Canada’s 7 most in-demand future-proof jobs, according to a recent study by the CPSA – Canadian Professional Sales Association. 90% of commercial sales professionals believe sales is a good job. 70% of sales professionals would recommend a job in sales to family or friends considering a new career.

If we want to change the stigma associated with sales and sales professionals, we need to be creating a sales movement. Click To Tweet

But in order to change this sales stigma, we need to ask ourselves:

What do other career professionals, like accountants, engineers, human resource practitioners, teachers, lawyers, and doctors, do to earn respect and trust?

They simply ask questions to learn more about a person/business situation, and then they prescribe solutions and recommendations.

We need to do the same in order to change the stigma associated with the sales business.

When you look at the chart below, which side are you hanging out on?

STOP the Sales Stigma START the Sales Movement
Talking Listening
Being an order taker Adding more value
Re-active Pro-active
Product & Price Conversations Purposeful Business Conversations
Being just another vendor Earning Respect, building trust & Partnerships

If we want to change the stigma associated with sales and sales professionals, we need to be creating a sales movement.

Ask relevant questions, listen carefully, and provide solutions and recommendations that are in their best interest.

Do Customers Love Salespeople?

Do Customers Love Salespeople?

Customers may love your products or service, your business, and even your customer service team. But do they love salespeople?

What can we do to earn respect and feel the love by customers and others who are not in sales (including my own university daughters)?

Here are our Top 5 Strategies to Get Customers to Love Salespeople:

1. Don’t be a professional visitor. Turn great relationships into business partnerships.

Many business owners cringe when they observe visiting salespeople chatting about last night’s sports game with their employees – they feel it’s wasting their people’s time. Yes, sales professionals love to build rapport in a meeting, but there are other ways to do this without upsetting the business owner.

Take this conversation to a higher level and take the time to develop and focus on their business. Start by asking questions like:

  • What are your biggest initiatives to grow business this year?
  • What is the top challenge that is getting in their way of your business?

Customers and buyers – especially business owners – LOVE talking about their business. Earn their appreciation and loyalty by turning your product conversation into a business conversation.

2. Be proactive, not reactive, by being one step ahead of your customers.
Always be thinking about their business, rather than your business. Click To Tweet

Good salespeople want to proactively better serve, provide value, and be one step ahead of their customer.

When you do this, it demonstrates you are proactively managing their account and the necessary activities to ensure you meet their timelines, their expected dates of delivery, or whatever else it takes to gain their business and long-term loyalty.

  3. Develop a Key Account Plan for your top 2-5 customers.

Personalize your approach with potential client growth.

According to CPSA, one of the key emerging trends is documenting a key account plan to high value customer accounts. A key account plan will help you better understand your customer’s business and future goals. Once the plan is created, meet with them to share and collaborate on the key account plan strategy and plan execution.

4. Bend over backwards. 

In one of our “Cracking the Code” Buyers Webinar one buyer panelist stated that to earn their business and loyalty, you have to bend over backwards. This could mean almost anything; your role is to find out how each customer defines “adding more value. Ask them exactly what you have to do to outperform your competition and be better than everyone else!

5. Send a hand-written Thank You note! 

In today’s fast-paced, digital-social-email-driven world, do something different to get noticed and even loved! Show your customer the love and you’ll feel the warmth and perhaps the love, too! Build this simple strategy into your sales process.

Customers often stop feeling the love after a sale has been made. That means they stop buying from you. Make sure your sales team continues to nurture customer relationships. Call me if you need help.

Recognizing the Best in Sales Performance – Star Worthy Awards

Recognizing the Best in Sales Performance – Star Worthy Awards

The Star Worthy awards all started with a simple “star sticker” we would give out in our training. One of our trainers started this and I thought it was a bit hokey and even a bit representative of primary school.

I was so wrong!

I quickly learned that sales reps are eager to step it up and demonstrate thought-provoking sales insights, connect the dots from the consultative methodology training to their own customer scenarios and are very proud to be recognized for doing more than the ordinary. Every training session we conduct, we have participants proud and vying to earn a star and build their sales confidence. Many of them receive accolades at home when their children are impressed that mommy or daddy received a star at work. Some leaders ask for extra star stickers so they can continue to reward star worthy moments.

At Teneo, we wanted to kick up the star worthy stickers and moments to the Star Worthy Awards at our annual Evolve Sales Leader Think Tank Event. This will be the third year we are offering the Star Worthy Awards.

Sales reps are eager to step it up and demonstrate thought-provoking sales insights, connect the dots from the consultative methodology training and are very proud to be recognized for doing more than the ordinary. Click To Tweet

Some of you might be thinking, “I don’t need an award to know that I’m doing a good job – the proof is in the sales numbers”. I personally learned the powerful impact and importance of sales awards.

With many changes in the re-building of our business this last year, I started to write these weekly blogs, host a buyer’s webinar and create a few videos to help increase the importance of high performing sales teams and expectations by buyers. The Marketing Manager on our team suggested submitting some of our work to the Top Sales World Awards. I didn’t think it was a priority on our very long to-do list. But she insisted and went ahead. I was very surprised when we were short-listed in three categories for best blog, video, and webinar. On Dec 20th, we learned we won Silver Award for the Webinar on “Cracking the Buyer’s Code”. It was an incredible honour to earn this among the tough competition of top-notch sales leaders. It was more than just a great way to end the year, it really did help me to build confidence that we were recognized for doing a webinar incredibly well and different than others.

Sales is tougher than ever before, and we need salespeople to be confident in their sales calls and doing more than just ordinary sales.

According to OMG Sales Assessments, only 6% of salespeople are elite sales performers and the sad reality is 50% of salespeople are weak.

Who do you know that exemplifies Star Worthy achievements, based on their sales performance in 2018? Is it a sales professional who increased their sales skills, capabilities and blew it out of the park? A sales team who created stronger sales culture and strengthened their sales process to earn a new caliber of trust with their customers? Or is it your sales manager or leader who did an exemplary job of leading and coaching your team and earning a new level of respect by the organization?

There are six categories of Star Worthy Awards and you can submit multiple nominations. We’ve kept the nomination process simple with only five to seven questions taking you less than ten minutes to complete.

Six Star Worthy Sales Awards categories are:
• Star Worthy Customer Experience
• Star Worthy Sales Professional
Star Worthy Sales Team
Star Worthy Sales Leader
Star Worthy Best Practices
Star Worthy Overall Culture and Customer Focused Organization

Each of the awards is given to an individual, team, or organization for their outstanding sales excellence. Nominations for the 2018 Star Worthy Sales Awards are open for submissions until Friday, March 8th.

Sales Goals Achievement – Are YOU Getting in Your Own Way?

Sales Goals Achievement – Are YOU Getting in Your Own Way?

As we progress into the sales year, are YOU getting in your own way of achieving your sales goal success this year?

In two recent goals webinar, we polled the sales rep community to hear what they were predicting for their sales goals for the year ahead. We were fascinated and even a little surprised by the results.

Check out question five for the most surprising poll result and what truly impacts sales performance and sales goal achievement…and it’s not your competitors or your organization!

Here’s a quick summary of the combined results *. How do your responses compare to this polled sales community?

Q1 – Did you achieve your sales goal for the past year?

The research found that 26% of salespeople slam dunked and exceeded their sales goals by meeting their quota, yet 58% did not achieve their sales goals, and in the sales world, that’s reality – yet very disappointing. We truly need sales professionals to make more sales and achieve company sales goals as it’s vital to a strong economy.

Q2 – What is your sales goal increase for this year?

Over 21% are expecting a 20%+ growth for this year – very optimistic!

Less than 10% are expecting small sales targets of 1-5% growth this year. The majority (28-55%) are expecting a double-digit growth of 10-19% growth. This is fascinating to see how optimistic sales professionals are in future sales growth opportunity to increase sales, yet it contradicts their actual goal achievement.

Q3 – What is your long-term sales goal for 2022 – three years from now?

A) No idea – don’t plan that far ahead = 21%
B) My company sets those goals = 19%
C) Steady growth – approximately 20-30% growth in three years = 42%
D) Double my sales in the next three years = 18%

This shows confidence in sales with strong future growth for the next three years, despite rumblings of a more challenging economy ahead. Great to see sales professionals continue to be optimistic for a strong future.

Are you getting in the way of achieving your sales goals? Click To Tweet

Q4 – What is your strategy to achieve your sales goals?

21% of sales reps and sales leaders said with existing customers, 56% said hunting or prospecting to find at least five new customers this year, and only 6% said referrals. At Teneo this year, we found the referral strategy the most effective way to grow our business. There is still a surprisingly small percentage of sales team members who admit that “winging it” is still their strategy to achieve their goals.

Q5 – What is getting in the way of achieving your goals? The most surprising poll result!

24% said there’s just not enough time in the day, a few said their boss, but 43% said it was them! They were the biggest factor that was going to get in the way of achieving sales growth this year! In our second webinar, 58% of the attendees admitted that they get in the way of achieving their goals.

If YOU are the reason for not achieving your sales goals, then I suggest making a list of all the obstacles that YOU allow to get in the way. Then, in a second column on this list, identify a strategy to overcome these challenges.

I’m a learning junkie and was attending my first session of Strategic Coach, a great program for entrepreneurs, and they had us do a similar exercise to set sales goals and stretch goals. I found it very empowering and encouraging to do this exercise, as it improves your own self-talk, builds confidence, along with setting realistic actionable strategies that will help you to realize there is a way to overcome the obstacles and achieve your goals.

*note – Since we are combining two poll results, the percentages will not add up to a 100%.

Catch the On Demand version of the webinar I’ve been referencing, 7 Factors that Get in the Way of Achieving Your Sales Goals, here.

In addition, download our 3 Year Goal Planning Table to set your objectives and achieve your 90 days, one year and three year goals.