Michael was thrilled recently when one of his clients asked MBCC to groom a talented new sales professional who had graduated from a local University and joined their team in an acquisition sales territory. We immediately accepted the assignment and begin the grooming process. As we worked together, Michael shared with his protégé a long list of Sales Best Practices that he’s documented during his long corporate career and in the last decade that he has been coaching Sales Managers and Sales Teams. This series of articles on Sales Best Practices is the culmination of us emptying out the bin of fantastic sales behaviors we’ve identified over the years. We hope you enjoy the series and find them valuable to you and to your sales team. If you have a best practice you’d like to share and have us give it some visibility in a future article, reach out to us…
Negotiate Like A Master When you’re a new sales professional it’s going to be challenging to imagine yourself negotiating like a master, but the sooner you develop the skills to master negotiation, the sooner you are going to taste the sweet taste of sales success. Become a very skilled negotiator and treat all negotiations as an opportunity to create lasting value for all involved parties by building a Win/Win solution. Preparation for a successful negotiation is paramount to your ability to achieve a great outcome. While negotiating, spend more time listening and thinking than you spend speaking. Ask powerful questions designed to allow you to understand exactly how you can help your prospect to win while ensuring a win for you, your team, and your company simultaneously. Understand the best alternatives to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) for your prospect and also for your own company. Focus on trying to deliver results that will help both parties to arrive at a solution that matches their interest, and not necessarily their original initial positions. Approach the negotiation like your objective is to arrive at a joint solution that benefits everyone, not just your team. Be prepared to say no, and learn how to say no in such a way that it seems like anything but a no. Be prepared to ask for a quid pro quo in a negotiation so that you can avoid being abused, and don’t forget to ask for the ability to publicize your win to gain positive PR for important new customer acquisitions, when appropriate.
Customer Relationships Need To Be Great Relationships Be sure that you think long-term when measuring the value of your customer relationships. The value of a sustained successful relationship with a customer who views you as a partner is significantly more strategic than any transaction you might do in business. The return on investment in retaining a customer is usually at least five times more than the initial value of gaining a new customer. Having a relationship with your customer that operates more like a partnership brings more value than just the revenue and margin that you gain from the transactions. Great customers will make you better at what you do if you are smart enough to ask them some thoughtful questions and listen to their feedback. Don’t give in to the temptation to measure customer value by the most recent quarter’s revenue or margin associated with that customer. There is always more to the story than the recent transactional data if you are building great customer relationships. The true value of the relationship is never about what you’ve done together in the past, it is always about what you’re going to do together in the future! Invest in the relationship and watch the relationship and the value of the relationship grow over time. Small customers often grow to become medium-sized customers. Medium-sized customers tend to grow and become large customers.
Nothing Beats Face-To-Face Contact Buy a ticket often, and get face-to-face with your customers and prospects. We realize that this has often been difficult or even impossible during the past two to three years, given the pandemic, but you need to realize how much more valuable face time is when it’s really “face-to-face” style face time. These days, it seems that technology is frequently getting in the way of sales professionals getting out and visiting with their prospects and customers in person. While text messages, email messages phone calls, and web sessions are tremendous advancements, they don’t help you to build relationships as much as sitting together with your prospect and sharing an experience in person. Such tools are incredible technologies that reduce sales expenses dramatically and positively. They also increase your ability to be ever more responsive, but there is never a better alternative to showing your prospect that you care enough to visit with them face to face! Use ALL of your tools effectively, and avoid getting into a rut of overutilizing email, text messages, and web technology.
Nothing Kills Deals Like Time Get the deal you are working off the street as quickly as you possibly can. Time kills deals, but only if you let it. If your prospect or customer is ready for the deal to close, gather up your confidence and execute your strategy to close the deal. Ask for the order, and follow your plan to close and deliver quickly, to prevent your competition from their “one last chance” effort to steal the deal from you. Offer a meaningful inducement that will create value for your customer to encourage them to get the deal done now, instead of next month, or next quarter, when you’re convinced that the customer wants the solution you’ve offered and you’re worried about the competition getting desperate and crafty in their efforts to steal the deal from you with a last ditch effort.
Creative Financing Wins Deals More Often Than Most People Realize Some of the most successful sales professionals are as successful as they are because they understand finance and how important the structure of a deal financially is often the most important factor to your prospect or your customer. You’ll never know how important the financial structure is to a deal until you explore a creative financing solution to help get a deal done. Consider well in advance HOW your prospect will finance this purchase, especially if it is a large expenditure. Will it impact their capital expenditures, or just operating expenditures? Will there be a strong likelihood that the customer will need financing? Be proactive, and avoid all of the nasty surprises that occur when you are careless or reluctant to make financing a priority topic of discussion. Be proactive and offer creative financial solutions early in the process or risk losing the deal later because you specifically DIDN’T ask enough questions to understand the prospective customer’s project or their purchasing process that will lead to the execution of their purchase.
By now, our budding future sales superstar was beginning to have a lot of qualification questions and processes to think about as she began her journey to sales mastery. We were seeing the lights go on in her eyes as all of these necessary questions and conversations and decisions were beginning to deepen her appreciation of the complexities of a modern technology sales process. She began to learn to negotiate like a master and prioritized getting together with her prospects face to face. She began to prioritize building lasting relationships with prospects and clients as never before and started working to get her deals off the street quicker with each week that went by. She began to learn how to build her skills in putting together creative financing for her clients when their deals were large or complex or when financing was going to help the client to get the deal done when finances were tight. Check back with us next week for another article about this talented Emerging sales star in the making. Follow her as she rockets up the leaderboard at her new company.
Michael is an award-winning Master Coach, certified by the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. Michael’s firm, Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting features five coaches in the United States, helping fast-growth technology companies and small and medium businesses with Executive Development and Leadership. MBCC’s coaches also provide health and wellness and traditional business coaching and consulting services. Michael’s firm is one of the best in the world at developing Emerging Leaders so that they can rise to the challenges and opportunities of a first management position in their career. If you’re interested in more information, check out www.michaelbeachcoach.com or email us at email@example.com. You can also learn a lot about leadership by checking out Michael’s podcast for Leaders and Emerging Leaders, “What Are You Doing?” Podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts. You may also want to check out Michael’s free videos about leadership and Business Best Practices on Youtube…