Archive for October, 2013

In part one of 3 Keys to Sales Success – Visibility, Relevance & Timing we examined out Visibility is the first key to Sales Success. In part 2 we took a look at how Relevance is essential to the sales process. Let’s now take a look at the 3rd key to Sales Success – Timing

Key # 3 – Timing

Timing is one of the most challenging things to control in the sales process.  Compounding the problem is continual pressure from upper management feverishly driving for record weeks, months and quarters.   You know the type – no matter how well you did last month its always “what have you done for me lately”.

Work the Calendar

One of the tips that I’ve learned to help create urgency to close a sell is using the customer goals to drive the calendar.  For example I recently signed a new customer that wants to have our mobile solution ZenTouch in place by November 1.  Using this target date I worked the calendar backwards to outline the steps required to meet that deadline.

  • Launch Date – November 1
    • Since November 1st lands on a Friday I recommended we move this date to November 3rd. This allows us to launch on a full week instead of a Friday
    • Training – October 28th and 29th
    • Integration with their backend database – Week of October 21st
    • Server and System Setup Up – Week of October 14th
    • Signed Papers and Deposit received – by October 10th

Using the customer’s calendar, I built a plan based on their internal goals. This simple but effective strategy enabled the customer to see the urgency of signing contracts to meet a goal they had articulated – not by my personal goal to close in October. Guess what we closed today.

Working the calendar has proven an excellent strategy in guiding customers to signing papers. Why? because the sale is motivated by a date relevant to the customer and ultimately driven by the customer.

Timing – What to do when the stars don’t align?

Inevitably you will come across a situation where you’ve done a great job of being visible, your product is relevant only to find out your prospective customer already has a competitive product.

Time wasted? I think not.

This will happen. Don’t get discouraged. Stay engaged with the prospective customer. Focus on building a relationship with the prospective customer.  You might ask how this can be accomplished when the customer has said “no”.  For the time being forget the sell and build a relationship. As your building the relationship provide relevance to the prospective customer that will help them succeed in their role.

How have I done this?

  • Share blog articles relevant to the prospective clients industry, expertise or interest.
  • Provide guest tickets to trade shows that are applicable to your potential customer. I do this every year for the main trade show we attend.
  • When I have a new release in our product send the prospective customer a personal email letting him know of the new features and how they could be relevant his business.

This has proven very successful.

You never know when things might change.  If I’ve learned anything things do change.  New management comes in, current product support or features change, they outgrow their current solutions, your point of contact moves to a new company where your product could be a fit, etc.

There are a myriad of opportunities that can arise if you stay engaged. I’ve learned if you stay relevant and don’t become the pesky sales guy, a potential customer whose timing isn’t right now, will do one of two things – refer me to a colleague or buy from me in the future when the timing is right.

Read the 1st 2 articles of 3 Keys to Sales Success

Related Blogs:

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Jody Sedrick
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenewareinc
LinkedIn Profile  | Zenware

In part one of 3 Keys to Sales Success – Visibility, Relevance & Timing we examined out Visibility is the first key to Sales Success. Let’s now take a look at the 2nd key to Sales Success – Relevance

Key # 2 – Relevance

3 Keys to Sales Success – Key To RelevanceLet me give you an example to illustrate relevance. At a recent sales training event I asked one of the participants to sell me their watch.  The participant began to “sell” me their watch listing the various features of the watch. I asked a few questions about features not mentioned by the participant. To both our surprise she commented, “I don’t know, I never paid attention to that.” Revealing features in her product she didn’t know anything about. After working through the sales pitch for several minutes I interrupted telling the participant, “You can never sell me that watch or any watch for that matter.” Perplexed the participant asked me “Why not?” “Because I don’t wear a watch.”  I responded. I then explained that my not wearing a watch stems back to my bachelor days when I used not having a watch as a way to meet girls.  Knowing that it was close to lunch or dinner I would approach a young lady and ask the time.  This would provide a nice lead into ask her out to lunch. Since then watches have lost their relevance and thus I don’t wear a watch. The participant made the same mistake most sales professionals make she sold features not relevance.  She didn’t ask herself how the watch applied to me before beginning the sales process. The interesting thing as I reflect on the experience is that the features she knew nothing about were actually relevant to me because I’m a diver.  She assumed the additional timing components just added style to the watch.  She hadn’t taken the time to learn about all of the watch’s features.  Understanding the additional components of the watch would’ve enabled her to explore areas of potential relevance based on undiscovered need.

Feature Don’t Sell

Remember features don’t sell. How features benefit me is what’s important.  Think of it this way Features answer the question What? Relevance answers the questions How? Why? or When? Your responsibility, as a sale professional, is to understand how every feature of your product applies to a potential customer. Remember not all features are equal because not all problems, needs or situations are equal. In the case of my sales training participant’s she simply wanted a watch to tell the  time while looking stylish in the process. In my case, I don’t generally care about the time.  But, when I’m underwater time becomes very important. Thus I have a situational need for a watch that could have been exposed.  Asking the right questions would have enabled her to discover situational relevance or timing that could have opened the door to a sale.  Asking questions helps you to discover, build and fortify relevance. The important thing to remember is that relevance comes from the customer.  A customer doesn’t buy a drill – they buy the hole the drill will provide.   When a customer buys your product they are really buying the solution your product solves. Here are a few examples of exploratory questions to build relevance:

  • How does that problem affect you?
  • Who else is impacted by the problem?
  • What else could you be doing if that was solved?

If you don’t sell relevance you simply become the pesky sales guy schlepping a product because it has no meaning, or relevance, to the customer. Ideas to remain visible and build relevance through the sales process:

  • Send a link to a blogs or technical articles that discuss solutions or strategies that directly relate to your customer’s problem.
  • If you customer is looking for mobile device options share device comparisons. Tech Crunch, Mashable and the Chris Voss Show always have good information.
  • Share case studies of how other companies solved similar problems with your solution
  • Send a sample of your product. This week I received a creative follow-up from a radio sales rep. He sent me a professionally written, produced and voiced 60 second radio spot demonstrating how my product could be sold on radio. Guess what he caught my attention because he made it relevant by showing how it could be down.

It doesn’t matter how good your product is if it’s not relevant to the customer you will not make the sale.

In our next blog, we’ll explore how Timing is a critical component to winning the sale including when to recognize when your product is relevant but the timing may not be right today.

Coming Soon – Key #3 to Sales Success – Timing

Missed Part 1 of 3 Keys to Sales Success; Visibility, Relevance and Timing?

Read – Key #1 To Sale Success – Visibility

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Jody Sedrick
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenewareinc
LinkedIn Profile  | Zenware

There are three keys to sales success.

  1. Visibility
  2. Relevance
  3. Timing

If you are missing any one of these you will not make the sale. We will look at each of these over the next couple of blogs. Let’s get rolling.

Ninja Sales Tips - 3 Keys to Sales Success - Key 1 VisibilityKey #1: Visibility

Most sales people are really, really good at being visible. If you ask some customers they might say sales people are too visible.  Sadly to say in some cases that may be true.

As you look at your weekly sales activities are you visible to your customers in a productive and relevant manner?  Do they know your products? Do they know how your products apply to them? Do they know your company? Most importantly, do they know you?

Visibility is the first key in driving sales.  

Many sales people give themselves the illusion of being visible. .  They send emails and leave voice messages that start off with the weak “I was just checking in…” .

They attend networking groups, trade shows, participate in local chambers, etc. They even attend events that aren’t even relevant to their market.

Most sales people do a great job of being visible but they don’t do a good job of being visible and relevant.

When’s the last time you evaluated the relevance and effectiveness of your weekly activities? We’ve all left a networking group or trade show wondering “Wow, was that even worth my time?”

Yes they may be visible, but are they visible in the right areas? I call this Strategic Visibility.

Are you engaged in social media?  Actually the right question is “Are you engaged in social media in a way that strategically builds your visibility and credibility as an expert in your field?”

Unfortunately too many sales professional slip into the trap of sell, sell, sell corrupting their social media and personal message into the annoying white noise of just another sales person trying to close a deal.

I’ve learned that sharing industry information, trends, new technology and new innovations, etc. with the sole purpose of educating potential customers maintains visibility and builds credibility.  Prospective customers and business partners begin to see you as “the go to resource” not only because you are visible but you are relevant as well.

Visibility is the first key to sales success. However visibility isn’t enough. Visibility needs to be coupled with relevance to really kick open the door to a potential sale. Remember it doesn’t matter how good your product is if it’s not relevant to me I’m not buying.

In part 2  we will discuss Key #2 to Sales Success – Relevance and in part 3 we will discuss Key #3 to Sales Success – Timing

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Jody Sedrick
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenewareinc
LinkedIn Profile  | Zenware