The Biggest Mistake B2B Salespeople Make

Bryan Kreuzberger offers the following thoughts on the biggest mistake B2B salespeople make:

I’ve had 100’s of sales calls. Over 90% of the calls, never resulted in a sale. For years I didn’t understand why my customers didn’t buy.

The thing I hate about most sales systems is that they only talk about it from the seller’s point of view.

“What do I do to close them?”
“How do I increase my close ratio?”
“Why don’t MY customer’s get it?

The mistake? Thinking like a salesperson is inherently flawed. If you want to persuade or influence a customer, you should think about their point of view — not your own.

Here’s what we are covering:

  1. The 4 qualifications every prospect must have to become a customer
  2. The biggest mistake almost every B2B salesperson makes
  3. B2B Sales vs. Consumer Sales
  4. How non-decision makers (NDM’s) are ruining your pipeline

Let’s start by identifying the 4 qualifications prospects must pass to become a buyer. This will save you time and lead to more closed sales.

The 4 Qualifications Prospects Must Pass to Become Buyers Are:

  1. They must have the authority to make a decision
  2. They must have the ability to buy (i.e. The Money)
  3. They must be in pain
  4. They must be looking to make a decision now (or at least very soon)

Pretty simple right?

But most B2B salespeople make all kinds of mistakes with this.  Making a mistake here leads to long sales cycles, deals that never seem to close and endless follow up.

Out of the four qualifications, there is one qualification that wastes 80% of your time and leads to all kinds of frustration.  The first one…

1) Your prospects must have the authority to make a decision

In short, they need to be able to say yes to you.

The ability to “say yes” is the big difference between B2B sales and consumer sales. With consumers they are in charge of their own buying decision. In B2B sales, only one person at a company typically has the authority to make the decision.

Most salespeople make the simple mistake of assuming that they are talking to the decision maker.

However, in reality they are only talking to people involved in the decision. The salesperson is talking to stakeholders, researchers and users.

The one person they aren’t talking to is the actual buyer. They aren’t talking to the person who can approve the project.

Why does this matter?

If you aren’t talking to THE Decision Maker the likelihood of closing a sale goes down by 50%.

The primary reason for this decrease is that you have little influence on the sales process.

When working with sales people I start by evaluating their pipeline.

I was working with Rich, a salesman last week. He was frustrated because his sales cycles were taking forever to close. As we looked at his pipeline, two thirds of it was made up of non-decision makers. He projected that these same deals had a probability of closing anywhere from 65% – 80%.

The reality is more like 50-50.

Rich was wondering why these deals weren’t closing. It’s not a mystery — it’s because he is in the wrong room.

When I started in sales, I was just happy to be talking with anyone. I didn’t realise that I was wasting my time with guys who were a few rungs below the actual decision maker. I was taking meetings with guys who could say no to me — but they couldn’t say yes to me.

When I say they couldn’t say yes to me, it means they didn’t have the authority to say yes. They had to go to someone else (typically their boss) to approve the project.

To make matters worse — the non-decision makers would rarely introduce me to the decision maker. The non-decision maker reports to the decision maker. They have more to lose than to gain by introducing me to their boss. Why would they risk it? No one wants to look bad…

I didn’t want to go around the non-decision makers and risk the deal. But I also didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing.

 

Step 1: The first step is to acknowledge the problem.

Step 2: Identify where you have the problem in your own sales. Look at your pipeline ask yourself how many of these deals are you talking with the FINAL decision maker? How many of sales are you talking to someone who is just involved in the decision?

Step 3: If you aren’t talking to the FINAL decision maker, your next order of business is to get in front of him.

2) Your prospects must have the ability to buy

This one is pretty straight forward.

If you’re calling on a company that simply can’t afford your service or product — you’re calling on the wrong customers.

Why this matters.

Don’t make the mistake of working with people who are just getting started or have “cash flow issues.” (Customer translation they have no cash) The goal of this blog is to help you generate sales with customers who can pay you. Not to help you make connections with people who may be able to pay you in the future.

Wealthy companies are difficult to get into, but once you’re in, they make it much easier to get paid a lot of money. They don’t cause headaches that small companies do. The UK loans office is the same idea. They ask for less than small companies do. And if you do a good job, they will buy more.

The third element is the key to influencing or persuading someone.

2) Your prospects must be in pain

You should be looking for clients who have a “bleeding neck.”

The concept is simple.

Imagine you’re a surgeon who works in the E.R. and your prospects are all the people who are in the waiting room.

Who do you choose to work on first?

It’s not the guy who has a skinned up knee. He’s in pain, but he will live. It’s not the hypochondriac who wants information and to be assured that he is ok.

You want to work on the guy who is bleeding out from the neck and screaming for help.

I know that’s graphic — but that’s the kind of desperation you are looking for with prospects.

You need to focus on finding those companies that need your service so badly that when you find them, they see you as a lifesaver.

Why this matters.

When you work with companies that have a bleeding neck, not only will it be easier to close sales but you will also be providing a service that the customer will truly appreciate.

This leads to an easier working relationship, happy client interactions, creates immediate value for the client and opens up the possibility for future work.

4) Your prospects must be looking to make a decision now

A few years back I owned a 4 year old Audi.

The problem was my Audi kept breaking.

I found a garage to fix my car. A year passed, the Audi was still breaking. I was educating myself in car maintenance. I was interested in fixing my car but not motivated. I wanted a quick fix. I was making do, but more problems arose.

Fast forward. My car wasn’t leaving the garage.

I was losing business because I couldn’t reliably get to meetings.

I was motivated.

I made an offer on a new Audi. It was accepted!

Two weeks later the deal fell through.

Now I was scrambling.

Now, I had an urgent problem.

I couldn’t find the car I wanted. NOW, I had a bleeding neck.

I found a car I liked. I made three offers in three different dealerships.

I negotiated against all three of them.

I got a great deal.

Why does this matter?

Let’s look at the progression of our purchase.

1. Education –> 2. Interest –> 3. Motivation –> 4.Urgency

It wasn’t until we had an urgent problem that the deal was closed.

If you’re going to spend your time on a sale, you need to know the person is qualified. And if they aren’t qualified you need to be talking with someone who is.

The moral of the story. Don’t waste your time and resources on prospects who aren’t qualified.

In recap:

The 4 Criteria Prospects Must Pass to Become Buyers Are:

  1. They must have the authority to make a decision
  2. They must have the ability to buy
  3. They must be in pain
  4. They must be looking to make a decision now (or at least very soon)

Here is the action for you this week.

Step 1. Look at your pipeline and ask yourself how many of these deals are you talking with the FINAL decision maker?
Step 2. In how many of the sales are you talking to someone merely involved in the decision?
Step 3. If you aren’t talking to the FINAL decision maker, your next order of business is to get in front of him.

Email Marketing is dead – Long live email selling!

Death_to_stock_BMX1_9_600A recent LinkedIn discussion on the merits of email marketing showed the massive polarity of responses.  On one side was heard:

  • I hate spam. I never read any email from anyone I don’t know
  • It doesn’t work – I’ve tried and failed
  • Email is dead anyway, numbers using email are declining. Social Media is the way forward
  • No one read our marketing emails that we’ve spent a fortune having designed

And on the other hand comments like these appeared:

  • Email is a great channel to find new customers
  • We mainly use email to retain clients
  • Our email strategy gives the highest ROI of any of our marketing

So what’s going on?  How can a relatively homogenous group have such different views on the effectiveness of email as a promotions and sales channel?

I believe the difference is between those that see email as a broadcast medium and those that seek to engage contacts by sharing knowledge and advice.  To differentiate the two, I have coined the phrase email selling to describe this second activity.

The difference is stark:

Email Marketing Email Selling
Designed emails with lots of HTML and pictures Plain emails, often short with limited or no design
Content talks about the sender “we’re great”, “we’ve got lots of clients”, “look at our services”, etc… The content is focussed on the recipient:  Useful knowledge; valuable advice and relevant stories
Everyone gets the same message Recipients are segmented and receive different messages and customised content intended to be directly relevant to them.
Messages often originate from the marketing department Messages are usually created with the involvement of sales department or other line of business users
Focus is on propagating brand and being “on message” Focus is on giving great value to the recipients
Fire & forget Regular engagement with further email or telephone follow up around the topic the recipient engaged with
Campaigns don’t evolve based on user behaviour New messages are created and targeted based on engagement with past content
ROI difficult to measure Known ROI based on a regular stream of new leads and closed sales

So next time you are thinking about your email strategy think email selling over email marketing.

Three reasons your sales team miss target

sales statsThere are many reasons a sales team can miss target.  The three that we come across most often are these.  Do you suffer from any of these?

Not enough leads

Sales people generally fall into one of two categories: those that love generating their own leads and those that don’t!  Most don’t.

The rare salesperson that is comfortable generating leads also tends to be poor at qualifying those leads into the pipeline.  This person has worked hard to get leads into the pipeline so does not want to just dismiss them if they don’t quite fit.  So you will often find their pipeline full of hopefuls that are never going to turn into business.

If you are lucky enough to have a salesperson that is good at generating leads, try switching them to only generating leads for the rest of the sales team and compensate this person for lead generated.

Should you not have this person in your team, dedicate resource and budget to generating good quality leads.  You can do this by hiring into your team or use an external business like Nett Sales to bring you a regular stream of new leads for your sales team.

Poor or no CRM

How do you track your sales prospects?  Can you identify all live prospects by sales stage, next action, predicted revenue and know why you lost and won every deal within a minute or so of being asked?

If not, you’re wasting time and working inefficiently.  This information and so much more can be at your fingertips without wading through spreadsheets or lengthy reports.

CRM vendors don’t really help as most systems are complex, fully of unnecessary junk and don’t let you do what you want to do – progress prospects through a defined process and know where you are with each one.

Nett Sales deploys CRM systems that actually work, supporting sales teams to achieve their goals and giving them the information they need when they need it.  Our CRM guru is happy to spend an hour on the phone with you helping you to get the most out of your current system.

No re-engagement of old leads

This is the biggest failing of every sales department we come across.  Of the leads that you worked on in 2015, how many turned into customers?  Maybe 10%.  What about the other 90%?  They had a requirement but the time was not right or they bought from a competitor or someone just forgot to call them back.

You don’t have time to call each of these leads every month or so – and you’d probably upset them anyway.  So enrol them into a regular “engagement” strategy where you share relevant and interesting knowledge, hint and tips with them so that when they are ready to consider a purchase, you are front of mind.

When we run these campaigns for many businesses, we will do them in such a way that we know which old leads are engaging with the campaign and so can identify these to your sales team to get back in touch.  Where we run these campaigns we often get another 10% to 20% of the old leads back into live sales situations within months.

You’ve already paid for these leads either with money or the effort of your team, so why not optimise the return on them?

You will also benefit from an integrated CRM system so that leads can be scored and tracked effectively.

Helping you succeed

Above are three areas where sales teams tend to fall down.  It’s relatively easy to fix all three of these challenges with the right help.  Nett Sales was set up 9 years ago to provide sales teams precisely this support – that’s all we do.

So please do get in touch if you want to regain control of your sales team and your life.

Nett Sales telemarketer job – Dec 2015

We have an immediate requirement for one or more telemarketers to work with Nett Sales LLP, in our premises South East of Swindon (close to M4 Junction 15). Initial training and most of the work will be held at Nett Sales. Once set up we are happy to accommodate flexible working and allow the successful candidate to work in their own offices/at home one day per week.

This will be a fantastic role for the right person. This is a flexible, permanent requirement for one or two individuals to work between 12 and 30 hours per week – mornings, afternoons or both (agreed in advance) in telemarketing and telephone sales support.

The calls that will be made will follow up warm leads for Nett Sales and selected clients. You will be calling as a researcher or customer service person to start conversation and assess interest amongst people who have just engaged with white papers and articles. The caller will require a conversational style, rather than following a sales script. The ability to quickly establish rapport on the phone and talk knowledgeably about a subject, based on a conversation plan, is vital.

More info:

The work will be predominantly telephone based but the successful candidate will become involved in most parts of the Nett Sales business. Opportunities for extended hours will be available from time to time for the fight person.

Nett Sales: A leading edge, digital media, sales and telemarketing business. The work is traditionally only offered by big City agencies. But now done in rural Wiltshire! You will be helping to research companies and start conversation with known contacts to generate sales opportunities for clients using email, telephone, web & social media.

Key skills:

• Successful calls will be where a conversation has taken place and the contact has been qualified into one of a number of defined categories
• A genuine interest in sales, lead generation and customer relationship is important
• You must be able to think for yourself and contribute to the debate on getting more sales and winning opportunities
• Must be able to communicate verbally, in writing and be efficient in typing
• Interpersonal skills important – the ability to chat to business people
• Confidence on the phone
• Confidence to express opinions
• Ability to ‘mirror people’; talk with them the way they talk with you
• Can work unsupervised
• ‘Can do’ attitude
• Good knowledge around IT, technology and business use of IT is helpful be not essential
• Interested in people and their views
• Experience in a customer facing, telephone sales or telemarketing role is preferred but full training will be given

A member of staff who chooses to work from home (1 day per week max.) will require home PC with Windows 7 or 8, MS Office 10, home / office broadband and WIFI. In order to help you be as effective as possible we train in advance, make test calls with you, track the calling efforts, record all calls and give you regular feedback. For the right person and for exceptional work, small top up bonuses are available.

Duties will include:

• Making conversational, telephone follow up and sales calls to follow up knowledge led emails sales or web registrations, to an engaged contact list
• Working with an experienced telephone and sales team in a senior, experienced telephone sales role
• Updating client data and telephone activity in a CRM system
• Various web research
• Processing email replies
• Handling new customer enquiries and questions
• Handling feedback, product updates, offers and additional training from the above parties
• Working with team to run sales campaigns

Located in Aldbourne, 6 miles from Swindon on the 46 & 48 bus route from Swindon & Marlborough. And with staff parking available
Friendly and relaxed office. Can fit hours around bus times and a contribution towards travel is possible.

All calls will be made within normal UK business hours but within reason you can select mornings or afternoons with us in advance. Salary rates are between £8 and £10 per hour rate. Wage quoted is approx. and will depend upon experience. Payment will be based on hours worked and telephone performance levels achieved.

Previous sales, customer service, call centre or telemarketing experience is preferred but not essential. If you are interested and believe you have what it takes to give this a try, please submit your application and CV.

Nett Sales will be holding a New Year, January afternoon open day for regional candidates, entitled ‘No Trust Bye!’ This will help interested individuals to:

  •  explore career opportunities in telemarketing and telephone research
  •  understand the key skills behind a conversational telephone approach
  •  see real examples of telephone conversation starting, but short on scripts and big on conversation
  •  discuss the role of trust in sales and customer service
  •  learn how to be interesting and interested in customer views, opinions and feedback

And if you like what you see, get the opportunity to hone and show your skills with us and our clients.

If you want to book your place on the Open Day, to apply for the position, or have questions please call Carl Wheatley or Simon West on 01672 505050 or email carl@nett-sales.com

Nett Sales senior telemarketer job – Dec 2015

We have an immediate requirement for a senior telemarketer to work with Nett Sales LLP, in our premises South East of Swindon (close to M4 Junction 15). Initial training and most of the work will be held at Nett Sales. Once set up we are happy to accommodate flexible working and allow the successful candidate to work in their own offices/at home one day per week.

This will be a fantastic role for the right person. This is a flexible, permanent requirement for one or two individuals to work between 12 and 30 hours per week – mornings, afternoons or both (agreed in advance) in telemarketing and telephone sales support.

The calls that will be made will follow up warm leads for Nett Sales and selected clients. You will be leading our telephone team and calling as a researcher or customer service person to start conversation and assess interest amongst people who have just engaged with white papers and articles. The caller will require a conversational style, rather than following a sales script. The ability to quickly establish rapport on the phone and talk knowledgeably about a subject, based on a conversation plan, is vital.

More info:

The work will be predominantly telephone based but the successful candidate will become involved in most parts of the Nett Sales business. Opportunities for extended hours will be available from time to time for the fight person.

Nett Sales: A leading edge, digital media, sales and telemarketing business. The work is traditionally only offered by big City agencies. But now down in rural Wiltshire! You will be helping to research companies and start conversation with known contacts to generate sales opportunities for clients using email, telephone, web & social media.

Key skills:

• Successful calls will be where a conversation has taken place and the contact has been qualified into one of a number of defined categories
• A genuine interest in sales, lead generation and customer relationship is important
• You must be able to think for yourself and contribute to the debate on getting more sales and winning opportunities
• Must be able to communicate verbally, in writing and be efficient in typing
• Interpersonal skills important – the ability to chat to business people
• Confidence on the phone
• Confidence to express opinions
• Ability to ‘mirror people’; talk with them the way they talk with you
• Can work unsupervised
• ‘Can do’ attitude
• Good knowledge around IT, technology and business use of IT is helpful be not essential
• Interested in people and their views
• Experience in a customer facing, telephone sales, account management or telemarketing role is essential, but full training will be given

A member of staff who chooses to work from home (1 day per week max.) will require home PC with Windows 7 or 8, MS Office 10, home/office broadband and WIFI. In order to help you be as effective as possible we train in advance, make test calls with you, track the calling efforts, record all calls and give you regular feedback. For the right person and for exceptional work, small top up bonuses are available.

Duties will include:

• Making conversational, telephone follow up and sales calls to follow up knowledge led emails sales or web registrations, to an engaged contact list
• Taking a basic telephone brief in order to ‘test call’ contacts, report back and put a telephone conversation plan together for the rest of your team
• Leading an experienced telephone and sales team in a senior, experienced telephone sales role
• Tracking, motivating and providing feedback to the telephone team
• Involvement in the client briefing and setting up the campaign
• Client liaison
• Updating client data and telephone activity in a CRM system
• Various web research
• Handling new customer enquiries and questions
• Handling feedback, product updates, offers and additional training from the above parties
• Working with team to run sales campaigns
• Compiling and checking weekly telephone reports
• Collaborating on hints and tips, opinion, advice and knowledge share articles to engage new and existing clients

Located in Aldbourne, 6 miles from Swindon on the 46 & 48 bus route from Swindon & Marlborough. And with staff parking available
Friendly and relaxed office. Can fit hours around bus times and a contribution towards travel is possible.

All calls will be made within normal UK business hours but within reason you can select mornings or afternoons with us in advance. Salary rates are between £10 and £14 per hour rate. Wage quoted is approx. and will depend upon experience. Payment will be based on hours worked and telephone performance levels achieved.

Previous sales, customer service, call centre, account management or telemarketing experience is essential. If you are interested and believe you have what it takes to give this a try, please submit your application and CV.

Nett Sales will be holding a New Year, January afternoon open day for regional candidates, entitled ‘No Trust Bye!’ This will help interested individuals to:

  •  explore career opportunities in telemarketing and telephone research
  •  understand the key skills behind a conversational telephone approach
  •  see real examples of telephone conversation starting, but short on scripts and big on conversation
  •  discuss the role of trust in sales and customer service
  •  learn how to be interesting and interested in customer views, opinions and feedback

And if you like what you see, get the opportunity to hone and show your skills with us and our clients.

If you want to book your place on the Open Day, to apply for the position, or have questions please call Carl Wheatley or Simon West on 01672 505050 or email carl@nett-sales.com.

The Maths of data

Darts_in_a_dartboardOften when we are planning an email campaign for a client, one of the biggest questions we face is “how many records are needed to achieve the results expected?”

Whilst we are firmly of the opinion that you can never have too many contacts to engage with, there are practical limits, especially if you are purchasing records or gathering them by telephone research.  So here is our rule of thumb for email campaigns:

  • Starting at the end and working backwards…
  • Campaign outcome: Require 4 good leads per month
  • Therefore need 20 interested contacts (1 in 5 can be classified as a lead)
  • Need to call 200 contacts following up the email campaign (one in 10 being interested) so we need to generate 200 interested contacts with the email campaign
  • Anything from 5% to 0.1% of contacts will engage with a good email campaign depending on the data used, message and market sector.

For well targeted, researched and opted in data you can achieve 1.5% engagement, for cold, purchased data, the figure is probably closer to 0.4%.  This means that if you want 4 good leads per month, you need:

For Good, warm contacts: 13,300 records and for cold but well targeted purchased data: 50,000 records.

The good news is that if you are willing to invest in your campaign and allow interest to build over a few months and be very rigorous with re-engaging the contacts that were “maybe”, you can reduce your data requirements by half, but this is still a lot of data to acquire, manage  and engage with…

Nett Sales is recruiting!

Part time Telemarketer

We have an immediate requirement for one or more telemarketers / researchers to work for Nett Sales LLP at our office in the beautiful village of Aldbourne, south east of Swindon on the Marlborough Downs (close to M4 Junction 15).

This will be a fantastic role for the right person. This is a half-time ongoing requirement (4 hours per day) for telemarketing and telephone sales support for a major client in the training market.

You will be making calls to follow up interested businesses.  This is NOT cold calling!  You will require a conversational style, rather than following a sales script. The ability to quickly establish rapport on the phone and talk knowledgeably about a subject based on a brief is vital.

Initial training and most of the work will be done at Nett Sales but there is the opportunity to work from your own office / home part of the time.

Key skills

  • A genuine interest in sales, lead generation and customer relationship is important
  • You must be able to think for yourself and contribute to the debate on getting more sales and winning opportunities
  • Must be able to communicate verbally, in writing and be efficient in typing
  • Interpersonal skills important – the ability to chat to business people
  • Confidence on the phone
  • Can work unsupervised
  • ‘Can do’ attitude
  • Good knowledge around IT, technology and business use of IT is helpful be not essential
  • Interested in people and their views
  • Experience in a customer facing, telephone sales or telemarketing role preferred but full training will be given

The Job

This position is for an ongoing ‘half time’ (4 hours per day) member of staff to join our telephone team. The successful applicant will be able to work flexibly and choose their hours within reason.

Any work undertaken outside Nett Sales office will require Windows PC with good Broadband.  We will provide a VoIP phone for making calls. In order to help you be as effective as possible we record all calls and give you regular feedback.

Duties will include:

  • Making conversational, telephone follow up and sales calls to follow up knowledge led emails sales or web registrations, to an engaged contact list
  • Updating client data and telephone activity in a CRM system and / or spreadsheets
  • Various web research
  • Process email replies
  • Handle new customer enquiries and questions
  • Handling feedback, product updates, offers and additional training from the above parties
  • Weekly and monthly sales admin and reporting into Excel spreadsheets
  • Working with the team to run sales campaigns

Location:

Located in Aldbourne, 6 miles from Swindon on the 46 & 48 bus route from Swindon & Marlborough in a friendly and relaxed office. Parking is available.

Hours:

All calls will be made within normal UK business hours but within reason you can select mornings or afternoons with us in advance. Salary rate is approx £10 per hour rate. Wage quoted is approx and will depend upon experience. Payment will be based on hours worked and telephone performance levels achieved.

If you are interested, please call Carl Wheatley on 01672 505050, email carl@nett-sales.com or visit www.nett-sales.com.

 

How to use your credibility to be a great speaker

email selling is deadLove them or hate them, presentations are a large part of a salesperson’s life.  They can vary from a quick 5 minute impromptu talk for one person to a structured talk to many hundreds of delegates at a major exhibition.

All presentations hinge on the speaker’s ability to hold their audience’s attention.  There are many reasons why an audience may be listening to a speaker so the speaker needs to understand why the audience is listening to them.

For example, if people have paid to attend a motivational seminar, the speaker is likely to have a very receptive audience to start with.  How receptive the audience is after they started is down to the speaker!  If a manager has bullied a sales team into attending a product presentation, the speaker is less likely to start with a receptive audience.  Again it is down to the speaker whether the audience will stay dis-interested or will start to sit up and respond to the presentation.

Step number one in preparing your presentation is to consider the audience. You must establish credibility in the eyes of your audience.  Remember: beauty is in the eye of the beholder!  For your presentation to succeed you need your audience to believe that you have the knowledge, authority and right to talk on the subject.  This task can vary depending upon the audience.  If you are talking to three people who know and respect you already, your credibility is beyond question.  If you are presenting to an audience that does not know you, you will need to build credibility.  Here are some of the factors you can use to build credibility with your audience:

Display your credentials

  1. 1.       Nothing establishes competence better than credentials.  You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner, but any Degrees, certificates and licences you hold that are relevant to your audience add weight to your character.
  2. 2.       If you have any honours or awards, even something ten years ago for being the best hamburger salesman can be relevant to a group of salespeople!  Has your community, or charity honoured you?  All of these seemingly small points help to build your credibility with your audience.
  3. 3.       Have you ever been published?  Even an article five years ago in a trade journal carries weight.  There is still something about the printed and published word that impresses people.
  4. 4.       What experience do you have?  Presumably you are working in the industry about which you are presenting.  Experience is important – it implies competence.

So how do you inform your audience about your impressive credentials?  It is a bit unseemly to stand up and launch into a ten minute commercial for yourself and how great you are!  The best way is to let the person introducing you handle the bulk of the chore.  Prepare a written briefing for them to read.  If this is not possible as you are not being introduced, you will need to introduce the relevant points into your presentation.  Don’t force them, use them as logical supports for your points.

Associate yourself with high-credibility organisations

Can you claim membership of a credible organisation or, failing that, link yourself to one?

Admit failings

You can build credibility by admitting past mistakes or shortcomings.  Doing so will help you be perceived as honest.

Display similar values

People have a natural tendency to believe those who hold similar values, beliefs and attitudes and to distrust those who don’t.  If you have similar values to your audience let them know early in your presentation.

Lead by example

Are you recommending a particular course of action?  If so, it will lend credibility to your presentation if you can show that you have already followed your own advice.  Any time you can reference an action that supports what you’ll be saying – do it.

Find testimonials

It is far more convincing for someone else to sing your praises.  Get quotes from satisfied customers and industry figures held in high regard.  Get the person introducing you to work some of these into their introduction and use some yourself in your presentation.

Now that you have prepared to build your credibility to an all-time high with your audience all you have to do is to deliver your presentation and sit down!

The best Time Management tip… ever!

IMG_3310_lgThere must have been more books written about time management than any other area of business.  I personally know of over 30 and they all miss the point!

Traditionally time management has helped you to manage your time to fit in the maximum activities with the minimum wasted space.  Unfortunately most systems do not distinguish between important, urgent, not important and not urgent so you end up doing more but not doing the things that need doing the most.

Steven Covey tells a story of how in one of his seminars he asks some delegates onto the stage and presents them with a large jar and some big stones.  He asks them to get the maximum they can into the jar.  Once they have put as many of the large stones into the jar as possible he asks them how to get more into the jar.  They say they can get no more in.  He then presents them with some smaller stones that they can fit in around the big ones.  After they have fitted as many of these in as possible he asks them the same question.  Someone suggests filling the cracks with sand so they do this.  The jar is now completely full and they are confident that they cannot fit in any more until he presents them with a jar of water!

The point of the story is that if they had started with the water, sand and small stones then they would not have accommodated the big stones in the jar.  The same is true when managing your time.  Identify the “big stones” and then fit in the other bits around them.  In order to identify your “big stones”, perform the following exercise:

Print this out and fill out on the six blank lines below your six most important things that you need to do today:

  1. ___________________________________________
  2. ___________________________________________
  3. ___________________________________________
  4. ___________________________________________
  5. ___________________________________________
  6. ___________________________________________

Start off doing number one until it is finished or you can do no more then move on to number two, then number three and so on.  The reasoning behind this is that these are the six most important things that you must do today.  If you do not do them this way, then you were not going to do them any other way and at the very least you have made a start on the most important things in your life.

This idea comes from a young business analyst who was asked by the boss of a large American steel company to help him improve his efficiency.  The young man asked the steel boss to perform exactly this exercise.  The steel boss was so impressed with the results that he told all of his managers and soon the whole company was using the technique with dramatic results!

The young man suggested that the steel boss simply send him a cheque in a few months for whatever he felt the idea was worth.  The young man received a cheque for $25,000!!

Review your six most important actions above and try this technique for a week – it really does work.

12 Steps to Outstanding Sales Conversations

IMG_1108You may have hundreds of conversations each week, some long, some short, some business related, some personal. But not all conversations are equal and your sales conversations are probably the most crucial to get right.

Therefore by turning your attention to these conversations and improving their content, you will get more sales. Big claim, I know, but read on and humour me for a minute…

The basic rules are as follows:

  1. Think of a chess clock.  This is two clocks in one.  Only one of which is running at any one time.  When one player has made his move, he presses the button on his side.  This stops his clock and starts his opponents.  When his opponent has finished his move, he presses the button on his side.  This stops his clock and re-starts the first player’s clock.If you view your conversations in this way, giving your “opponent” a chance to talk then when she has finished, she will give you the chance to talk.  Apply the “two ears to one mouth” rule so that if they “overrun”, you can gently interrupt with a closed question (one that required only a one word answer) and then start talking.

    Shining the light on the other person in this way will help her to open up and give far more information than you would have received otherwise.

  2. Maintain eye contact.  If you keep looking at the other person while he is talking, not only will you pick up all of the non-verbal signals he is giving off (unintentionally), but you will also reassure him that you are paying attention and listening.
  3.  Make notes.  I am not blessed with a photographic memory and unless you are, you need to make notes.  This also re-assures the other person that what she is saying is so important to you that you want to write it down!
  4. Don’t finish others sentences.  This ranks as number one most annoying habit with many people.  Tempting as it may be, let him finish – you may be surprised!  This point is particularly important when listening to someone with a stutter.  Let him finish on his own.  He will be extremely grateful and you will build great rapport, as most people automatically finish his sentences for him!
  5. Don’t jump to conclusions.  This goes hand in hand with finishing others sentences.  Give them time to finish and elaborate.  They may well reveal more information than you were expecting.
  6. Do respond.  There is nothing worse than talking to a person who sits with a blank face not saying or doing anything.  We all need the verbal and non-verbal responses to reassure us that we are being listened to and appreciated!  Nodding, smiling, “hmm” and leaning forward in our seat are all reassuring gestures to keep the other person talking.
  7. Watch you speech habits.  The moment you meet someone, they are judging you.  By the time you have spoken a dozen words they will have decided in which “box” you belong.  People will judge you as much by how you say something as by what you say.  If you have a weak ineffectual style then no matter how positive and upbeat your words, you will be judged weak and ineffective.  Watch how you judge other people!
  8. Use Questions.  Questions are great!  You can use them for clarification, to show interest, to voice objection, to show support and many other uses.
  9. Watch body language.  Be aware that your body language speaks far louder that your voice.  If there is a conflict between what you are saying and how you feel about it (maybe you are uncomfortable giving the information) any astute observer will spot the conflict and probably either ask highly penetrating questions or dismiss the information she is receiving.  Where there is a choice, people tend to accept the non-verbal communication (body language, posture, etc.) as accurate and the verbal as false.
  10. Ask “Why?”.  In many situations, this simple three letter word can extract more information than any other approach.  The simple act of asking “Why?” after someone has made a statement and then sitting quietly, leaning forward slightly in your seat, pen poised, will cause most people to gush forth with information.  When repeated (“Yes buy why?”) it can be even more revealing.  It also demonstrates that you are interested in what the speaker is saying.
  11. Take a pause.  There are two good uses of a well-placed pause in conversation.  The first is when the speaker has finished.  If you pause and look as if you expect him to continue, he may well do so and give you more information.  A variation of this is to pause and if he does not continue say simply “..and?”.  This may prompt further where the pause on its own did not.The second use of a pause is when answering a question.  Just before you answer a question pause and take a small breath.  This does two things: first, it gives you a chance to think before replying; and second, it shows that you are considering the question carefully.  This will add weight to your answer in the other persons eyes.
  12. Remember what she said.  If you are able to demonstrate your complete recall of previous conversations with a person, they will be impressed.  Active listening helps you to remember, making notes will also aid your memory.  A useful technique that you can use is to repeat back to yourself everything that the other person says.  As she is talking simply repeat the words to yourself (don’t move your lips!).  You will find that this helps your concentration as well as improving your memory as you are hearing everything twice.During your conversation ask questions about topics that you discussed previously.  She will be impressed that you remembered and you will be able to build rapport.

I have found that jotting down keywords in meetings and then writing up the meeting notes afterwards is the best way of ensuring complete recall.  Review your notes before the next meeting and pick on a few points to raise at this meeting.