Have You Got Your Sales Pipeline Boiling Yet?

Is Your Sales Pipeline Boiling Over
There is a wise old saying that tells us “A Watched Kettle Never Boils“.

I reckon if you watch a plugged-in, switched on kettle long enough and it doesn’t boil, your kettle is probably broken.

The phrase originated before electricity of course, but it was still nonsense back then.

If your kettle wasn’t boiling, your fire clearly wasn’t burning hot enough or the kettle was too far away from the heat.

Watching it neither warmed it up nor cooled it down.

Here are a few pieces of modern ‘sales wisdom’ doing the rounds – you may have heard a few recently yourself;

There’s no business out there

Nobody’s buying

These days, you just can’t get through to the decision maker

Customers never return our calls

No one is attracting prospects like they used to

It’s not about value; it’s all down to price.”

“It’s the wrong time of year.”

If you hear these lines – or spout any of them yourself – take two minutes to answer these next 3 questions and where appropriate, pose them to your team;

  • Something needs correcting to improve the quality of our pipeline, what is it?
  • If we really want to get things on the boil, how can we get closer to the heat?
  • All checked, all working fine – what do we do next to stoke the fire to burn even more fiercely?

I challenge you to answer those three questions with solutions that you can implement immediately and without blaming the marketing department even once.

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My new book – Selling with EASE: The Four Step Sales Cycle Found in Every Successful Business Transaction is now available from Kindle and as a Paperback.

If you’d like a preview, you can download the first 30 pages as a PDF document – completely free – by clicking right here

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Chris Murray is founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz Training, a UK based company created to deliver sales training that really works – not in theory and not just sometimes, but sales training that really works. You can find out more about Varda Kreuz Training HERE or give us a call right now on 0844 293 9777 (UK)

His other books include The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club – which has been an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller and heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople.

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5 Reasons Why Selling is Like….Organising a Picnic

Now that spring has truly sprung – I thought it was about time to start thinking about a little al fresco eating – so here’s why picnics and selling ( selling anything at all) have got so much in common

picnic wine food quality

1. Serve something tasty & let them help themselves

It may surprise you to learn that your prospects might not want to be SOLD AT.

However, that doesn’t mean to say they don’t want to BUY!

Stop forcing what you are selling down their throats, and instead help them to choose something that will brighten their day.

The difference might be extremely subtle.

Think of a selection of your favourite food and drink, beautifully presented and accompanied with a few expert recommendations in fabulous surroundings – you can pick whatever you like.

Taste good?

Feel good?

Now imagine being held down and aggressively force fed the same meal.

Not very pleasant?

The question is – which of those scenarios describes the way you sell to people?

2. You’ve got to choose a space big enough to play in….

The size of your area or prospect list must be adequate to feed your pipeline and hit your targets, but it isn’t about darkening every door in the land, hoping that someone – somewhere – will buy.

When I was working with Minolta, I met one chap who only had the left hand side of Regent Street in London and his colleague had the right.

But I also know a business development manager whose market is so niche that he is the only sales person in his company looking after half of Europe.

And I’ve met legions of sales people who jump in their cars and drive for hours just because it makes them feel busy.

So, a word of warning – Don’t cross oceans before you’ve crossed the road!

3. …but an area small enough to keep an eye on the kids

When you’ve developed that pipeline (and even managed to turn some of those prospects into paying customers) you’ve got to have the ability to monitor what’s going on – otherwise you won’t know which opportunities you’re missing – or notice when they go wondering off into someone else’s field!

If you haven’t got one yet, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system – like all things these days there are low cost alternatives available on the internet.

ZOHO (Link here) for example have a free version available for businesses with smaller teams (Go to the main page and click on Business APPs and then CRM) – and if you’re just looking to keep an eye on your existing clients and possible opportunities as you build your pipeline – it’ll do the job fine.

4. You’ve got to expect a bit of rain

So it’s not all going to plan – stop being so hard on yourself.

Unless you go and work for Pixar, you might just have to accept that one or two people won’t like what you do every now and then!

Let me ask you this – Do you know your numbers?

How many (real) potential customers – on average – say NO compared to YES?

Let’s say it’s 10 to 1 – well, that must mean that even if your last 100 prospects said NO, the next 10 will more than likely say YES!

Every NO is leading you towards the next YES – work out your numbers and understand the forecast!

5. It’s your picnic, put your heart and soul into it.

Imagine you have just been given the best Christmas present ever, on the most amazing Christmas morning of your entire childhood.

Everyone that comes round gets a full presentation of its utter brilliance – you are just so excited about – well – everything!

It’s precisely the same when you are out there selling.

Don’t just settle for the boring company script that someone else made up – customers hate having it rattled off to them.

Be natural and sincere – be YOU!

Wonderful, original, excitable, passionate YOU!

Just like that Christmas morning kid.

This is your picnic – so fill it with the things that you’d appreciate if someone else had made it and invited you along.

Make it with passion and delight.

So, if the success of this picnic rests with you – tell me – How much do you really want to be here?

How much do you care about its delivery and contents?

And How much enthusiasm will you put into making it special for everyone involved?

Here’s to Your Success – Bon Appetite

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My new book – Selling with EASE: The Four Step Sales Cycle Found in Every Successful Business Transaction is now available from Kindle and as a Paperback.

If you’d like a preview, you can download the first 30 pages as a PDF document – completely free – by clicking right here

****************************************

Chris Murray is founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz Training, a UK based company created to deliver sales training that really works – not in theory and not just sometimes, but sales training that really works. You can find out more about Varda Kreuz Training HERE or give us a call right now on 0844 293 9777 (UK)

His other books include The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club – which has been an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller and heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople.

Trade Fair Nightmares? How to Become Best in Show

Hurray – it’s almost that time of year again when the sales team all hide behind unnaturally tall tables, while desperately trying to appear professional in their (ill-fitting) branded polo shirts, stylishly matched with their business suit trousers.

trade show exhibtion quality

Yes – it’s trade shows season – or at least it soon will be.

And I can guarantee that – for at least 80% of the businesses who take a stand – it’ll be a complete waste of money.

Over the past couple of years we’ve worked closely with a number of clients to build workshops that prepared their teams to be 10X more effective than in previous years – and ensure they got the absolute best ROI at every exhibition and trade show they’ve attended since.

So – before you start to root out all those pop-up banners that no one ever puts away properly – and for all you people who have decided that the time has come to engage in more meaningful conversations than the ones you have with the semi-clad models who hand out pens and flyers – I’ve listed a couple of nuggets from those workshops below.

Put this advice to work – and I promise you – your stand will be one of the most effective, professional and successful in the entire hall.

1. Stop Feeling Embarrassed

You are not a charity worker standing on the street accosting innocent passers-by, nor are you knocking on people’s front doors trying to make them change their religion.

The people walking past and hanging around your stand chose to be there today – more importantly, someone has probably paid them to be there.

Are you evangelical about the solution your company delivers? If not – why not?

If all the people coming within ten feet of your booth can be classed as prospects or potential customers (and if they’re not, then you’re probably at the wrong show my friend) – find out if and how you can help – and then show them.

And do it RIGHT NOW before they walk straight past and go round the corner to your unscrupulous competition, who are just sitting there waiting to rip them off and sell them something that won’t do the job half as well for twice as much.

When someone lingers and looks your stand up and down, approach them immediately and invite them to find out a little more about your products or services.

Oh – and don’t keep anyone waiting for no reason – studies show that people will give you a maximum of 30 seconds before they start to feel unloved and move on – and they probably won’t come back.

2. Know What You’re Trying to Achieve

What is the main purpose for attending this event?

Work this out – write it down in a simple, easy to understand single line sentence – and then put every ounce of your energy into achieving that – and only that.

This information is rarely communicated properly before an event – mostly because it’s assumed that everyone already knows it – but trust me, they don’t.

Once you’ve distilled your answer into something everyone can remember – you’ll be able to;

  • Focus your efforts only on the people who fit this criteria
  • Tailor your questions to qualify genuine prospects
  • Measure yourself against a real target
  • Recognise the team members who misunderstood the message and get them moving in the right direction

3. Don’t Just Chat – Ask Great Questions

When prospects float past you, tapping someone else’s brochure on their chin and trying not to make eye contact, it can be quite tough to engage them in a conversation or attract them to take a closer look.

First of all – remember this – you’re not working in a shoe shop (unless you’re at a footwear trade show and then you sort of are).

What I mean is, you don’t want to greet people with an uncomfortably tepid opener that just has them shuffling past even quicker and pretending not to have heard you.

You know the kind of thing, stuff like; “Can I help you?” or “Hello there, seen anything you like?”

Also if you ask them a question that requires a yes or no answer – a large percentage of people will automatically give you a no.

Instead, ask a question that will tell you if they’re a prospect or not, something like;

“What are you hoping to find at the show today?”

Then, once they join you on the stand, ask questions that filter those prospects down even further by concentrating the conversation on your own products or service.

Questions like;

“Which of our new range of Italian Sausages do you think will be the biggest hit with your customers?”

“What feature is the most important to you when you’re out looking at new caravans?”

You don’t need a script or elevator speech – they rarely work, are dead obvious and sound naff.

Instead, walk over to genuinely help – and then ask the right kind of questions to see if your product or service is going to be useful to them.

4. Populate Your Stand with Exceptional Volunteers

I’ve worked for businesses where trade show attendance was mandatory – no one escaped trade show duty – it was the law.

That makes sense if you’ve only got a small team or the trade show is region specific, but some people don’t shine in this kind of environment – and you really don’t want a stand of people who are treating the experience like some kind of punishment.

If this is the company rule – make sure that it’s explained to everyone at the interview stage so that they can’t complain or turn in a bad performance when it comes round.

If you’ve missed that boat, why not tell your sales team exactly what’s expected at the next sales meeting.

After that, tell them that you only want the best of the best – this trade show is going to be manned by a hand-picked elite.

Now invite them to put their names forward.

By the way, those team members who you count amongst your sales superstars but who still snub this challenge, might not be as business hungry or brilliant as they’ve previously led you to believe.

5. Lead from the front

Don’t stand at the back like a First World War General sending the troops pointlessly over the top and hoping for the best.

If you’re on the stand, you’re either there to sell, you’re a potential customer or you’re in the way.

Engage with prospects in exactly the same way you expect your team to – lead by example, strive to be the most successful person there, lay down a silent challenge for everyone to try and keep up.

However, you also need to make sure they don’t take advantage of – or hide behind – your high levels of activity.

Make sure that – whatever it is you’re measuring – is being achieved in near equal measures by everyone on the stand.

A Couple of pointers that shouldn’t need saying but….

* Don’t sit down unless at a table designated for having business meetings

* Don’t eat, drink, or smoke where prospects waiting for attention can see you.

* Take that gum out of your mouth

* Buy some mints if last night’s meal is keeping colleagues at bay

* Don’t block the entrance to your stand (and ask prospects to move politely if they’re stopping others from coming in)

* Stop handing out your literature to everyone who’s walking past

* Get off your laptop – what’s more important than being here?

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My new book – Selling with EASE: The Four Step Sales Cycle Found in Every Successful Business Transaction is now available from Kindle and as a Paperback.

If you’d like a preview, you can download the first 30 pages as a PDF document – completely free – by clicking right here

****************************************

Chris Murray is founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz Training, a UK based company created to deliver sales training that really works – not in theory and not just sometimes, but sales training that really works. You can find out more about Varda Kreuz Training HERE or give us a call right now on 0844 293 9777 (UK)

His other books include The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club – which has been an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller and heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople.

You Got Lucky Kid, But Luck Never Lasts

I’ve written this for the series #IfIWere22  – which is a LinkedIn Pulse idea where professionals share what they’d do differently — and keep the same.

Me at 22 Rock Shot (2)

To be fair, 22 Year Old me was doing far better than he really deserved to be.
Especially considering how little he actually knew and the fact that a number of lucky breaks had made me feel quite successful (which I most definitely was not).

This perceived success went straight to my head – a kid like me wasn’t supposed to be doing this well – and made me think that everything worth having was just going to drop into my lap with very little effort.
My time was shared between a sales job, a rock band and the Pub – although probably not quite in equal measures.
And I had no idea what real success looked like or how to achieve it.

To be fair, if I’d known what to read, I’d have probably read it – but I didn’t have a clue – and the recipe for success was hardly a conversation topic that cropped up with the people I hung around with.

So…….if you’ve got a time machine handy, I’ll jump in, jump back and deliver these bits of wisdom to a young man, and save him at least ten years of climbing in the wrong direction (and while I’m there, I’ll probably have a glass of that beer they don’t brew any more at my old local).

Make Sure Your Dreams Are Enormous
Don’t dream small, dream massive!

It’s pretty much guaranteed that someone – just like you – has already managed whatever it is you’re dreaming.

Go to bed at night dreaming it – and make sure you dream it with confidence too.

If it’s what you really want, there’s no reason it won’t happen.

In fact, because you have no idea what you’re really capable of, even your biggest dreams are only a tiny percentage of what’s actually possible and the world’s a lot more generous than you could ever imagine – as long as you ask it the right questions.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”    Henry Ford

Draw a Map
Start from a day in the future, one year after all your dreams have become a reality and then work backwards. 

Day by day, month by month, year by year – work backwards through your emerging success, right back to where you are now.

Workout all the people you’ll need to know, everything you’ll need to learn, the places you’ll need to go – then put them in the right order so that you can turn them into a map and take the journey.

If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.”   Steven R. Covey 

Step Off the Cliff
Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone, if it wasn’t you’d already have it.

Don’t walk around with a pointless map in your pocket – use it, follow it, take the journey, start now – right now.

Forty really isn’t as far away as you think it is.

“You can’t plough a field by turning it over in your mind. Either you get out there and plough it or it doesn’t get done.”    The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club

Hang Out With Successful People
There are reasons they’re successful.

They’re not all over-privileged, spoilt brats or chancers who just got lucky – they’re just like you – except that they’re a million times better at turning a pound into a million pounds than you are.

Listen, you don’t have to try and make friends with people you don’t like (in fact don’t) – there’s bound to be some who you’ll get on with. 

But don’t ask them for the secret – there isn’t one – just listen to what they’re talking about – and when you’re ready – join in the conversation.

Don’t pretend you know everything, you’re not fooling anyone – it’s fine to just be yourself and settle in.

Oh – and by the way – avoid the criminals.

No really – make sure you avoid the criminals.

“If you go out looking for friends, you will find they are very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you will find them everywhere.”  Zig Ziglar

Put 10% of Your Money Away
With the time you have available to you – and the beauty of compound interest – that tiny amount will do you the world of good – and in a much shorter time than you think.

When it’s time to invest or spend it – you’ll know.

“Put each coin to labouring that it may reproduce its kind even as the flocks of the field and help bring to the income, a stream of wealth that shall flow constantly into thy purse.” The Richest Man in Babylon

Learn To Do It Properly (Rather than Wing it and Hope for the Best)
And by IT I mean everything that you put your hand to.

“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.”    Jim Rohn

Don’t Listen to the Lobsters
True friends will be overjoyed at your opportunities for success.

But lobsters like to pull other lobsters down to the bottom of the tank.

When you start to rise the lobster people will appear and mock your trajectory.

As you slowly start to leave your old groups and gangs, the lobsters will try and keep you down, keep you with them.

When you do well in your career the jealous and incompetent lobsters will try and belittle your achievements to cover their lack of talent and ability.

Those lobsters aren’t your real friends and you won’t miss them – crack on and change the world.

“If you are influenced by the opinions of others, you will have no desire of your own.”  Napoleon Hill

Most of all – Try not to take it all too seriously.
You’re 22 – Go and have a ball.

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My new book – Selling with EASE: The Four Step Sales Cycle Found in Every Successful Business Transaction is now available from Kindle and as a Paperback.

If you’d like a preview, you can download the first 30 pages as a PDF document – completely free – by clicking right here

****************************************

Chris Murray is founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz Training, a company created to deliver sales training that really works – not in theory and not just sometimes, but sales training that really works. You can find out more about Varda Kreuz Training HERE or give us a call right now on 0844 293 9777 (UK)

His other books include The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club – which has been an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller and heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople.

Sales Negotiation? Beware the Stare & Be Prepared

Don’t you hate it when you’re sent to negotiate with a buyer who clearly has the upper hand?

fencing fencer sport quality

As you park your car and walk towards reception, you can almost hear the entire purchasing department chanting softly;

“You need our business more than we need you – sharpen your pencil or make way for a supplier who will.”

And of course back at base, your boss has no sympathy – no sympathy at all.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are four pieces of advice, that will make sure future negotiations become a little more even-handed. 

1. Stop Trying to Win
OK – Let’s tackle the big one first.

In the past, every time that you’ve walked into a negotiation intent on winning –  your emotions took charge of your brain.

Put simply – if you enter a negotiation trying to win;
Then all I have to do is make you THINK you’ve won to get what I want.

As an alternative, why not enter every negotiation with the intention of securing the best deal for you and your business.

Handy negotiation tip #1: During your next negotiation – help your customer “win” – while you concentrate on securing the best possible outcome. 

2. It’s Time to Believe in Your Solution
What you believe to be the truth and how you feel about it, creates a silent message that you send across the table throughout negotiations.

John Wyndham’s sci-fi novel The Midwich Cuckoos (which was turned into the 1960 film Village of the Damned – with the tag line “Beware the Stare that will Paralyse the Will of the World!”) – involves alien children with spooky powers.

One of those unearthly powers was the ability to read minds.

To fight against this, all the human adults imagined an impregnable wall to shield their thoughts – but the children were too strong and their mental barriers tumbled.

Your poker face might very well be a Las Vegas fortune waiting to happen – but I’m afraid it won’t work when you’re sitting in a business negotiation worried that they’re;

“…reading my mind, they know I’m bluffing, the competition have offered them something for peanuts – I’m going to have to offer them the knock down price my boss said I should keep up my sleeve.”

Handy negotiation tip #2: Become evangelistic about what you sell and what it’s worth – this 1 minute vid on YouTube helps to explain why.

Essentially I’d like you to think of it like this; When the customer breaks down your defensive mental wall and reads your mind – you should be thinking;
“I can’t believe you don’t want this – are you mad – there is nothing that will do the job better.”

3. Don’t Start Negotiating Until You’ve Finished Selling
Some people think that negotiating is just another stage in the sales process, but as I pointed out in a recent article (What’s the Difference Between Selling & Negotiating?), that actually might prove to be your undoing.

If you have to re-explain the value to me during a negotiation, then you never finished the sales process.

It will be seen, at best, as an indicator that you and your company are not quite up to the job or a sign of nerves – and at worst, be open season for ripping your proposal to pieces and offering to pay you 3 beans for your bag of diamonds.

Handy negotiation tip #3: Explain and present the total value of your offering and why moving forward with you is the only and best option available to them during the sales process. Only negotiate once this process is over.

If they need what you’ve got and you’re the best option available to them, you’re in a much stronger position than you think – which brings me onto…

4. Focus on Their Worries and Try to Forget About Yours
What thoughts do you think occupy a buyer’s mind during a negotiation?

What emotions do you think they feel as they organise their pencils on the meeting room table before you arrive?

In the same way that you’re sent in with the responsibility of bringing home the bacon for your business, those buyers are tasked with making the best buying decisions by their hierarchy.

So, what happens if they get that wrong?

Well, apart from the commercial and financial implications – there’s the personal humiliation and – in certain cases – the risk of losing their job.

But, what happens if they make the buying decision of the year?

Yup – promotion, a fat bonus, heaps of praise – good times.

So what do you want your customers to feel before they pick up the negotiation stick again? Is it…..

Anxiety“If I choose this one people will think I’m an Idiot.”

Apathy“I can live without this – Maybe I’ll take a couple if they’re giving them away.”

Excitement“When I present this internally people are going to think I’m a purchasing genius.”

Handy negotiation tip #4: During a negotiation, what you know about the buyers situation guides every decision you make. But so does what you don’t know.

Ask great questions throughout the sales process so that you thoroughly understand the problem your solving – and can point out why your option is the only one worth taking way before the tactics and tricks start to fly across the table at you.

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The above is an excerpt from my new book – Selling with EASE: The Four Step Sales Cycle Found in Every Successful Business Transaction which is now available from Kindle and as a Paperback.

If you’d like a preview, you can download the first 30 pages as a PDF document – completely free – by clicking right here

****************************************

Chris Murray is founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz Training, a company created to deliver sales training that really works – not in theory and not just sometimes, but sales training that really works. You can find out more about Varda Kreuz Training HERE or give us a call right now on 0844 293 9777 (UK)

His other books include The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club – which has been an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller and heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople.