Sunday, August 29, 2010

15 Essential Questions To Achieve Success in Selling

While there are many factors, I have found that much of the long-term success in selling is due more to consistently and persistently following a sales process, a system, and establishing a reputation of being an expert, a trusted advisor to the clients and the marketplace, rather then having any "magic bullets".

In addition, in my experience, much of that sales success begins with having clear answers to some key questions. Some of those are:

1. What do sell? Think not just in-terms of your products and service (tangibles) but also what the perceived value is to your clients (intangibles). Ask yourself, what business are you really in.

2. How strongly do you believe in what you are selling? In other words, would you say sell it to your mother?

3. How does selling what you're selling and for whom you're selling help you live the life you want to live?

4. Who do you want sell to?

5. Where will you find those you want to sell to?

6. How will you get your message to them, of what you have to offer and the associated value? For example, where will you speak? network? How will you reply to the commonly asked question, what do you do?

7. Why should they buy your products/services, and why should they buy from you?

8. How will you get your first meeting?

9. What questions will you ask and what will you say in your first meeting to move the conversation forward?

10. If/when they don't buy from you right away, which is quite often the case specially in B2B sales, how will you stay in touch, maintaining top of mind awareness and building the relationships?

11. How will you get them to try you?

12. Once they do buy, how will you serve them, engage them, move the relationship forward, so they buy from you again?

13. When something goes wrong, which invariably will at one point or another, how will you handle it?

14. How will you ask them to refer you to others?

15. Last but not least, have clarity on what success looks like, how you will know if you're on track as you do the necessary day-to-day work, and how you will know when you have achieved it?

What has lead to your success in selling? What's your best sales tip?

Who Do You Trust?

  • Would you let a doctor operate on you if you didn't trust him?
  • Would you eat at a restaurant if you didn't trust the food to be safe and clean?
  • Would you invest your hard earned money in a financial institution that you didn't trust?
In the Washington Post recently, there was an article entitled "Soldier Dies, Insurer Profits". It shared how some major insurance companies mislead (not fully & correctly disclosing key pieces of information) insurers and their beneficiaries.

As I had significant amounts of money (for me anyways) in one of these financial institutions mentioned, reading the article shook my faith and confidence in the institution and I immediately pulled out my funds. Logically, I am sure they were safe and sound but deep inside of me, in essence, regardless of all logic, I simply lost trust in the institution. I can't help but wonder how many others felt the same and took similar steps.

I then further realized how strong a factor trust is in in our lives, not only personally but also professionally and for our enterprises. Without trust, we have nothing. When it really comes down to it, all meaningful and lasting relationships are built on trust. When trust is strong, everyone wins and grows. When it breaks down, eventually everything breaks down cause all successful relationships and enterprises are built on the foundation of trust.

So, how does one go about building trust? After much reflection, I come up with several key elements that provide the foundation to building trust. Here they are:

1. Communication & Accountability: Do you communicate clearly, authentically, honestly, fully, and consistently? Do you hold yourself accountable, doing what you say you're going to do? Do you keep your words?

2. Understanding Each Other: I find that many of us do not truly understand human behavior, and therefore each other. For example, if someone say is being "aggressive", in the absence of proper understanding, such folks are frequently labeled as being pushy, a jerk rather then for the true gift they offer. It's often a question of intention vs. impact, fact vs. judgment. As an aside, it is this lack of understanding that often leads to misunderstandings and leads to disengagement which in turn has significant negative impacts on our enterprises and our various relationships, personal and professional.

3. Walk and Talk Alignment. Are your words, deeds, decisions, behaviors & actions aligned?

4. Systems & Processes: Do you have systems and processes in place that provide forums actively seeking open & honest feedback? And when feedback is provided, do you do something with it as well as communicate with those who provided the feedback that you heard them and took appropriate actions?

In the end, trust is built by the little things, such as the the words you speak, your behavior, your actions, your body language, your tone. And when we have trust, organizationally speaking, as the graphic above depicts, it leads authentic conversations, stronger relationships, genuine engagement rather then just going through the motions, some risk taking in the spirit of innovation, real caring service and all that ultimately leads to on-going renewal and growth. Everyone wins.

For those you trust, what is it about them that leads you to trust them?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How The Mighty Fall?

Jim Collins in his recent book "How The Mighty Fall" presents the five step-wise stages of decline. They are:

1. Hubris Born of Success
2. Undisciplined Pursuit of More
3. Denial of Risk and Peril
4. Grasping for Salvation
5. Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

While this may apply to specific organizations, what I have been reflecting on is how does an entire industry fall? What keeps them from reinventing themselves? Does the answer lie in how they define their business and the unit of measure they use to measure success? Please allow me to elaborate.

For example, thinking of the music industry, in connection to the graph above, here's what comes in my thoughts:

WHY: To record and distribute music
WHO: Target markets for various types of music
HOW: Sign-on artists with various labels
WHAT: To distribute music via various mediums. Initially the record, then tapes, CDs and now electronic distribution.
IMPACT: Enjoyment by music by many while achieving business success

So where did they go off-course? The more I reflect on it, the more I believe it's in how they defined their businesses. For example, we use to hear terms like: record stores, which record label did a musician sign with, how many records sold, and so on. And profits were tied to number of records sold and therefore infrastructures were developed to sign on popular artists with the express purpose of selling more and more records. Thus the measure of success was number of records sold.

In other words, they were in the record business and success & profitability was defined and measures by how many records were sold (and later tapes and CDs). Then came in MP3 players and as they say, rest is history.

I wonder how would they have functioned and where they would be today if they had defined themselves as more as being in the music business and measured success by number of songs sold, rather then being defined by the medium through which music was recorded and distributed?

What are your thoughts? What business are you in? How do you define and measure success for your organization?