Sales Velocity 101 for the WIN.

In the non-capital industrial sales business (sales with a unit value under $25,000.00), speed counts.

In fact, very often the supplier with the fastest response to both an inquiry and the ability to accurately quote & deliver will get the sale.

Here’s Why:

This may not be a budget or cost management process, but it may be a “Do You Have…” process”.

Here is a key to understanding this. If the customer starts with this question, “Do You have _______ In Stock?” Something has happened on his or her end that has moved their need into a near urgent or potentially urgent state.

Understand that the customer does not want to appear to be in need of what you are selling because they do no want to be taken advantage of.  However, if they did not NEED IT NOW, they would not have asked whether you had it in stock.

So, with this understanding of your customers need now uncovered, you have the opportunity to become the hero to your customer.  Just with a few simple words.  “Yes, we do have that in stock”, or “Yes when would you like it delivered?” and the sales is in motion.

The next step is simply to close the sale and fill the order.  This is done by capturing the customers contact info and forwarding them the quote to be signed off on as quickly as possible.

If you are going to win, you will need to have to have a high-speed quoting system. It could simply be a form to fill out and fax. Or a spread sheet  in which to enter data into and fax/email. It could even be a server or cloud based quoting system.  (I personally love the cloud based quoting program www.socketapp.com) Whatever your method, it is important to get the order confirmation delivered within 5 minutes or less to avoid competitors to quote ahead of you and win the sale.

Following sending the quote to the customer, is important to now use a soft touch.  Do not push the order process too forcibly. You will need to assure them the product will launch upon order confirmation and that you will be ready to act with the speed that they require.

In no time, you will get the order confirmation back or a request to process the payment.  If they are on account, get that order in motion.  If they do not have account, run their credit card and get that order in motion.

Be sure to let your customer know all the way along the sales process that you are being proactive in filling their order and never use language, vocal tone or body language that gives them the idea that you have them over the barrel.

If it appears that you are taking advantage of the customers need for your product or service, the sale will be on one-time deal.  They likely will not become a repeat customer.

On the flip side.  If you treat your customer with respect, understanding, precision and solid communication, you will be respected as the supplier who got them out of a jam. Your positive actions will earn you respect, trust and referrals.   Your attention to their needs and the promptness of your actions will also earn you the ability to sell at full price.

After all, the value is in what the item they just bought will do for them! It is not in what it cost them nor what it is. Those are just the minor details.

Change your value, change your world.

To learn how to apply this strategy to your business, get in touch.

It must be nice… To Not Need Business

Here are two simple and highly productive sales lessons that will go far in improving your customer relationships and making more sales.

Answer your voice mail.

I have been trying to get a hold of a seller to connect him with a client of mine for a solid week, all without a response. Wait that is not true, I did get a response from his voice mail system telling me that his mailbox was full and could no longer take new messages.

It must be nice, when business is so strong that you can ignore phone calls, let voice mails go without reply and build up until there is no room left for new messages, customers or opportunities.

Now do not get the wrong message here, I am and will not be a proponent of dropping everything to take a call any time the phone rings, but that said, it is good practice to check your voice mail 3-4 times a day, return meaningful calls promptly and never, ever let a voicemail box fill up to the point where there is no room for new messages.

The seller in question is making deadly mistakes, after all if you cannot even manage a voice mail box why should I let you manage my several hundred thousand dollar a year account?

Here is another simple and highly productive sales lesson that will go far in improving your customer relationships and making more sales.

Check and return Email messages.

Turns out the same guy will not respond to or in fact even check his own email account…? I have sent him no less than three emails, two with read receipt notices (telling me for a fact my messages have not yet been opened) and a Linked-In in-mail message over the past 3-4 days all of which have gone without any reply.

Again it must be nice to have so much going your way that you can afford to not respond to a willing buyer, or perhaps…

He has not come to realize that there is a direct correlation between responsiveness and customer perception. Now let’s this clear, this person represents a highly credible company the reality is that I have every reason to want to connect this seller to my client and my client will most likely become a major client of his going forward, however this deal may never off the ground because the “Perception” being built is that the seller does not care about even the smallest of things, voicemail, email etc…

I am of the philosophy that if one proves he/she does not care about the small things, they should not be trusted to look after the big and truly meaningful things.

In this I think I am like most of you. So here is the sales lesson, show respect, be prompt in your replies and take advantage of every possible opportunity to listen to your customers and prospective customers.

If you are going out-of-town and cannot answer or respond to an inquiry just use a telephone service, leave a message say you are away or program an auto responder to flow back to incoming email.

Sucess-V2A “DO NOTHING” strategy will directly bring a “GET NOTHING” result.

Strange thing is, in my career, the more I learned to shut my mouth and open my earns the more sales I made.

How about you or your sales team, have developed bad sales habits and taken on a pattern of missed calls, un-answered voice mails and ignored emails? If yes, you have a major opportunity in front of you, get proactive with customer communications and watch your sales grow and grow.

If you want to learn more, get in touch.

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The Whistle Dog Factor

Or how $.25 destroyed a customer for life

The facts have not been changed to protect the guilty.
Gourmet Grilled All Beef Hots Dogs
Gourmet Grilled All Beef Hots Dogs with Sides and ChipsOK, I admit it I have a secret love of hot dogs, to be specific an A&W Whistle Dog, Onion Rings and Diet Root Beer. Now don’t get me wrong this is not a daily or even weekly thing, but it was a twice a month thing. So you say, “OK you like some fast food every so often, what’s that got to do with a sales based blog posting”. Well this is where things get interesting. My regular Whistle Dog fix costs me about $11.50 a hit and I go twice a month so that’s $23.00 a month or $276.00 per year.

I am a nice, quiet, very predictable, repeat customer and I bus my own table when done. This makes me pretty much every A&W shop owners dream customer right? You bet right, so then why am I now being charged $.25 for one little plastic disk of BBQ sauce to go with my onion rings? I mean WTF. I am seriously miffed.

I think it was Robert Burton (and not Ben Franklin) who coined the phrase “penny wise and pound foolish” and that’s exactly what is going on here. I just dropped $11.50 on a hot dog, badly cooked onions rings and $.03 worth of root beer and they have the nerve to put the touch on me for a single serving of BBQ sauce?

Well first I asked the sales clerk if she was serious, and she was so I very politely paid the lady the $.25 and have not been back for two months, those two months will just keep going and going as I have now started my one man boycott against dumb sales policies and practices. Be warned from now on if I see them, or experience them I am going to write about them.

Yes, the A&W shop owner got their $.25 and now I am going to keep my $276.00/year times the next 20 years and believe you me that $5,520.00 plus inflation is going to by me… well I guess I am on the lookout for a new hot dog shop. Oh and I do hope that the A&W shop owner comes to realize that no matter how many coupons you give it, it will never make up for “Taking Your Customer For Granted”.

OK, my rant is over, now let’s look at the sales lesson, you have a fully qualified customer, who is paying their bills on time, every time, so what happens? Some number-cruncher in the organization says we are losing money on (enter your example of the BBQ sauce here) and we have to pass this charge onto the customer no matter what.

If you agree to start doing this; congratulations you have just joined the Penny Wise, Pound foolish club. You will lose customers by the dozen all because you did not follow one of most primal product pricing policies… Thou shalt not insult your customers by “nickel-and-diming” them.

There are dozens of pricing strategies to not only get incidental costs covered but to use them to build customer loyalty (none of which appear to be covered in the A&W shop owner’s operations manual).

Now apply this our daily industrial sales reality, we are busting our back sides, to make sales worth thousands of dollars a unit. Getting sales, providing great service and earning customer loyalty is hard work. Are you losing sales, sometimes big sales over policies and practices that are seen by your customers as them getting nickel-and-dimed?

Three key questions:

1.     Are you’re pricing policies and/or practices triggering negative emotions in your customers, compelling them to go shopping?

2.     What if your biggest barrier to more sales is the pricing program you are following?

3.     Are you taking the $.25 as asked for and trading away loyal customers for life?

If you want to know more get in touch.

The Trust Factor

The Trust Factor.

When I have dark moments of self-doubt (and I do) and question my direction, value, skills etc… I cut the negative process short and head instead for the “Red Tin”. In this “Red Tin” I keep the original copies of every recommendation and/or testimonial I have ever received going back to the 80’s.

If you read these you will quickly note what they do not say is… you said you would… and then sort of came close. Instead they say, you listened, understood and then just shut up and did the right thing, and you did it over and over to earn my trust.

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These documents are all past tense, they speak to what was done, not what was promised. They speak to listening, little talk, and much action, they speak to investing in learning the real needs of the customer and meeting them head on, they speak to putting others first to then gain the reward of a long-term, profitable relationships.

Today, too many sellers are just pitching the stuff they are “told” to sell, they are not sales professionals, they are order takers. A sales processional seeks to understand a true need and then fill it. They seek an honest relationship, one in which they earn an equal voice with the buyer and can either agree or disagree with the buyer to truly define needs and then fill them.

Is todays, wham bam, thank you man, sales approach what is missing is “TRUST”, trust that the seller actually cares about the buyer needs, and trust that the seller is actually looking out for the buyers long-term, best interests.

The overriding problem is time, companies looking to grow and their sales people do not understand that developing real relationships takes time, and is much more about hearing and not about pitching, it’s about listening and not about talking.

ThisSales Statistics chart, to my experience is brutally true. Most sellers quit round about the 2nd call when in fact the sales magic happens in the 5th to 12th call or direct contact with the buyer.

It may appear counter to what you are being told today, but taking time to get to know someone and their needs, while slower and far less fancy is in fact a clearer path to more sales and thus more commission that any other sales approach.

Being a genuine human being, caring about others first, is in fact the fastest way to forming a trusted relationship, and in the cold light of dawn, buyers will always choose to do business with those they know and trust above anyone else.

All I can say is that anything worth doing, takes time. Relationships take time, understanding takes time, but from relationships comes trust, and from understanding comes sales orders. From meeting needs over the long run comes reputation and from a positive reputation, the testimonials and letters of reference. All hard-won and of deep value, that endlessly reaffirm that I took my time and did it the right way.

Are you an order taker or a sales professional?

http://www.wiebeindustrial.com

What’s Today’s Challenge?

In just the last week we have encountered the following sales client challenges:

  1. How to find qualified, self-motivated sales staff?
  2. When to hire, who to hire?
  3. How to manage the post application process for internal candidates who applied for sales positions but did not get selected for the position?
  4. Who to send to a major international trade show?
  5. Do I hire a technical sales representative to take over part of my sales responsibilities or an executive assistant to leverage more time to sell?
  6. I don’t have enough sales horsepower but I have 200 qualified leads in a company whose average sales is 5mm/sale?

Read more

It’s Dollars Not Deals

Once again I have been witnessing an exchange of opinions on how to account for sales performance, this time taking place inside a Linked-In™ sales management group. I continue to be amazed that anyone who calls themselves a “sales professional” would engage in using a “deal count” as a “sales close ratio”.

The bottom line in sales is dollars not deals.

Case in point (names changed to protect the guilty):

If Sally writes 100 quotes in one month worth a total of $250,000.00 and then closes 50 deals worth $32,000.00. Her deal close rate is 50% but this is not SALES, this is deals!

Sally’s close rate is $32,000.00 / $250,000.00 = 12.8% and Sally sucks as a sales person.

Sales people like Sally, want to avoid accountability at all costs. When they are in the accountability spot light they want to be reviewed for non-tangible performance, such as time with customers, solving claims/credits etc. Then, when under real pressure, will throw out their quote to closed deal ratio as a key performance metric, in hopes of a positive review. This type of sales person wants top salaries, company cars, perks, spiffs along with no quota’s or commissions.

Sam wrote the 100 quotes in the same one month period worth a total of $250,000.00 and then closed just seven deals worth $167,000.00. His deal close rate is just 7% but this also in not SALES, this is deals.

Sam’s close rate is $167,000.00 / $250,000.00 = 67% and Sam is a rock star sales person.

True sales professionals only want to talk in terms of accountability, since real accountability “defines” real sales performance. Sales professionals like Sam want top commission rates and hold their sales quotas in contempt as minimum standards, they want car allowances, spiffs and scotches as tokens along the road to their success. Yes, they will take your perks; however, they really are focused on managing their sales franchise to their (and thus your) maximum benefit.

The difference between Sally and Sam is the attitude. Sally complains to all who will listen to her about her poor lot in life, her bosses’ unrealistic demands or her thin bank account. Sally lives a negative and unbalanced life, working paycheck to paycheck. Meanwhile, Sam spends his time in self-improvement, learning about his customers and sharing his positive attitude; not by talking about it, but by demonstrating his positivity to all he comes into contact with. Sam lives a positive and meaningful life, paid for by selling value into his many professional relationships.

Raising Employee Engagement Brings A 9% Increase In Operating Profits

Great but how do I make that happen? You start by shifting employee attitudes and to be more specific your attitude which is far and away the biggest single item that will determine your ability to get along with others, define what plans you will make and how you will execute those plans. The results of engineering this shift is well researched, for every 1% improvement in employee engagement you can see up to a 9% improvement in operating profit[1] .

Thankfully building a great attitude is a skill set than can be learnt and developed, allowing you to get significantly more out of life and business. Your positive attitude, or lack of, is what attracts or repels the people you come into contact with, and nowhere is this truer than in sales and customer service. We have all encountered the condescending, rude and/or fully disengaged sales person, these are examples of the negative engagement we encounter every day and unfortunately, too often found in our own businesses.

To take your engagement and your business to the next level you need to know three things:

  1. That a positive attitude is the result of deciding to have one;
  2. It will only work for you in direct proportion to the effort (learning, training, practicing and consistent application) you put into it;
  3. That attitude, both good and bad is highly contagious. As such when you develop and role model a positive and engaged attitude you lead others towards the same.

Do you have a positive attitude (most like to think they do, but, in fact do not)? Most do not understand that their lack of positive attitude and disengagement is keeping them from their own goal achievements.

Crafting a progressive attitude, and resetting your goals based on it will raise yours and others engagement levels and excel you towards the accomplishments you are hoping for.

Thanks for reading

Gerry L. Wiebe, Founder | President

[1] Sources: Gallop, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, IES & Towers Watson.

Is A Coffee Card Networking’s Secret Weapon?

In the last three weeks our company has secured three major new clients.

What’s unique is that each of these clients was referred to our company by a past or current client and our cost to land each one was just a cup of coffee.

How networking skills and a Coffee Card can be the secret weapons of business development and sales success.

Meeting for a coffee is a simple method of establishing a friendly meeting place and controlling costs.

Here is what you should be doing:

  1. Go out of your way to meet people, network purposefully and ask them what they do;
  2. If what they do is connected to what you (or anyone you know) might need, swap business cards and tell them to expect a coffee invitation;
  3. Go for coffee (somewhere convenient to them in terms of both time and place), pay with your coffee card and start asking purposeful questions that take time and detail to answer. Speak very little and listen a whole lot;
  4. During your meeting ask the question, “what is your perfect customer and how would you best like to deliver your product or service“;
  5. Use your speaking time to describe what your perfect customer is and how best you deliver your product or service to them;
  6. After 20 – 30 minutes have passed, coffee is over, and back to work you go. Your total time including driving was no more than 45 minutes and out-of-pocket costs are only about $5 – $7.

Now keep doing this, once a day with intent. Two times a day if you can. You’ll soon build up a network, not just of business cards but a working knowledge of what each and every contact does; and likewise they will know what you do.

Now Here Comes the Magic

When what someone does lines up with the needs of your network, you set up a coffee meeting with you and both parties. Again you buy coffee, you make introductions, confirm the connection, and give them both your best regards before leaving.

You have now provided unprecedented value. You have taken the risk of validating the supplier, and you have introduced a qualified buyer to the supplier.

In this process, aside from gaining a reputation as the value provider, it’s just a matter of time until you become the recommended supplier and land a job; this is when things get really interesting.

Over time your networking along with delivering great value to your customers will evolve into fans making raving recommendations about what you do. Now repeat, repeat, repeat. Build a network in which you deliver value first by connecting needs and your networking efforts will soon be landing you new business all for a bit of time and on a coffee card budget.

Thank you for reading

Gerry L. Wiebe, Founder | President

Accountability, Anaconda Style

Leading by Leaning or… Accountability, Anaconda Style

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“Watch out guys, here comes the boss. Look busy.”

Unfortunately, the above is a common statement in many businesses and if you are not sure what this is a sign of, let me tell you. It is the sign of failed corporate culture, bad management, missing accountability and a tangible symptom that a cancer has taken root in your organization.

How little can you do while getting a paycheck or even getting promoted has become synonymous with business in today’s marketplace? It is by many if not most HR surveys the operating standard of today’s business climate.

To force the point, a recent infographic published by SocialCast© detailed that out of 42,000 employees who were surveyed, 49% were disengaged from their jobs, while another 18% were actively disengaged from their jobs and proactively engaged in harming their employers while picking up a paycheck. This means that 67% of the entire workforce is disengaged or worse. Holy crap, this is bad.

What has allowed this cancer to grow and in fact escalate within many businesses? Well, as usual I have a few rather pointed thoughts…

  • 1. Missing or failed accountability, resulting in…
  • 2. Failed executive leadership, resulting in…
  • 3. Failed management, resulting in…
  • 4. Failed supervision, resulting in…
  • 5. A failed business

Somewhere along the professionalism timeline it became a bad thing to be great at what you do. “Fear of failure” became rooted, accountability was used and abused to define what had not been done instead of measuring and rewarding what had been done.

Think about your own workplace, how effective are your metrics?

  • Are they well-defined?
  • Are they public?
  • Are they shared in real-time?
  • Are they a source of pride?
  • Are they a source of reward?
  • Are they a source of team dynamics that culls non-performers, prior to even becoming a management issue?
  • Is your team striving under their own self management to excel past all benchmarks and in fact redefine the metrics of your organization, if not your industry?

If your answer to any of the above in “no” then you have some excellent improvement opportunities ahead of you.

Long story short, in business excellence is gained by setting and striving towards demanding benchmarks, developing methods and sound practices, and holding to them. Solid metrics and accountability will then come into play.

anaconda-1How is this achieved? Just like the anaconda, you sink your teeth into your prey (goals and objectives,) wrap yourself around it (your methods,) and never let go or back off. You see, most people think that the anaconda crushes its prey, but what it really does is constrict just enough that the prey can exhale, but not inhale, causing the prey to succumb by suffocation. A masterful balance of expended energy, for maximum return.

Your choice as the anaconda wraps you up in his way of doing things (his culture,) is to escape or to let the unrelenting nature of the anaconda’s process take place.

So, if accountability is your anaconda, then the same process takes place. We select our goals and objectives, engage our methods/culture and hold to them with solid resolve until measurable results are achieved.

Accountability defines and measures true success, as real performers are attracted to accountability. Likewise, it repels poor performers as all they see is the stare of the accountability anaconda, now looking hungrily at them to perform or perish.

Thanks for reading,

Gerry L. Wiebe Founder | President

Marketing Strategy – Four Simple Marketing Ideas

Four Simple Marketing Ideas

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As a part of a winning Marketing Strategy you need to review the use of a frequent contact program to communicate with customers in order to gain a larger share of their business.

When doing so, here are some simple ideas to carefully consider:

1.       Most businesses invest too much in chasing new customers and too little in doing additional repeat business with their existent customers;

2.       The satisfied customer is predisposed to purchase again. Purchase more and purchase something different (not to mention refer you to people he knows);

3.       It costs less to motivate a known customer to purchase again than to acquire a new customer;

4.       Customers are only fickle because a new competitor (or the previous company you got the customers from) is paying more attention to them than you are.

In business-to-business marketing many companies make the huge mistake of having all their contact with their customers go through the sales representative. This leaves the customers vulnerable to theft if the representative jumps to another employer. It also leaves too much opportunity for negligence on the representative’s part.

Regardless of the layers of distribution between you and your customer you should establish some direct link. The owner of a restaurant can do that by coming around and chatting personally with the customers. The chief executive officer of a large company can do it with a newsletter and maybe a hotline telephone number.

Here are some of the ways that direct mail or email can be used to communicate with established customers.

A.       To introduce new products or services;

B.       To reinforce existing products or services;

C.       To give advance notice of and explain price or fee increases;

D.       To offer special discounts or premiums;

E.        To provide useful information;

F.        To give recognition to top customers;

G.        To announce seasonal sales;

H.       To announce and introduce new staff and what they do.

I’ve rarely seen a business that could not increase and improve through increased direct marketing to present customers.

Now here’s a real marketing secret and it is a true secret. Most companies make a critical, crucial error in this area. I’ve personally made this error many times in the past and work hard at overcoming it.

Here’s the secret: When marketing to established existent customers you should still tell your entire sales story every time. Do not make the mistake of assuming knowledge on the part of the customer.

Do not take shortcuts with existing customers and do not feel that you are boring them by telling the same story repetitively. If you have quality, service, guarantee price or other advantages point them out each and every time you deliver a sales presentation.

American business desperately needs to place a new higher value on the customer. That’s been the message of Tom Peter’s initiated excellence movement. It’s the message behind the government hearings taking place investigating the airline’s industry of abuse of its customers. If your business is not performing as well as you would like it’s a message you should listen to also.

Bottom Line; communicate more with your customers and you’ll do more business.

This article originally posted on Craneblogger.