The competitor you hadn’t thought of and how to prepare yourself

Who is your competition? How many competitors do you have? Go ahead, think about it….I’ll wait.

Who did you list? If you are like most, you thought about people in your own industry, vertical, product space, and geography. When you counted them were you thinking of their physical locations? Did you do a quick count? 10? 20? 30? More?

Let’s think about this for a moment. What is it you are really competing for? It’s very easy to get get caught believing that we only compete against those that sell what we sell. That is simply not the case. The reality is that we are competing for three things in every deal: Time, Attention, and Resources. 

Ok……Now, how many competitors do you have? Yikes! When you call your prospect and ask for Time, you aren’t only competing for your deal in your space, you are competing with every other person trying to get on their calendar.  Imagine how unlikely it is that your impulsive ‘stop by’ or repeated cold calls will hit the target as intended and elicit the results you hope. The odds are certainly stacked against you.

Here is what that means to you:

  • Know who you’re calling. If you can find the person you had a crush on in high school on social media, certainly you can find a key decision maker in a multi million dollar company. Keep looking. The info is out there!
  • Get clear on your customer value prop. If you can’t articulate quickly and clearly how your company helps people, then the message will not be understood. Your prospect has no time for things they have to work to understand.
  • Have some sense of how your product or service may help them. You should have an example of a similar company you’ve helped. Providing something they can relate to will help them make the leap quickly so they can decide if they have time for you.
  • Make your contact about them. We know you’re awesome and have lots to brag about, but until you have started to gain your prospect’s trust, keep your conversations and questions centered around them. Prospects would rather talk about themselves and are likely to give you a bit more time to do so.
  • Be yourself and stay conversational. A script is good to get started, but scripts are best used to guide a conversation. If you are reading from your script, your prospect will know it.
  • Warm up that cold call. People make time for those they know, like, and trust. Try to get an introduction through a mutual acquaintance, try a LinkedIn connection, or maybe introduce yourself at a networking event.

Your prospect has minimal time and only so much attention to offer. When we realize we are competing for Time, Attention, and Resources our view of competition changes.  Changing our view on competition makes us more thoughtful about our initial approach. The reality is that time is precious for you too. Arming yourself with a true view of what you are up against will leave you better prepared and far more effective.

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Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!

 

Not Just Any Deal, You Want Ideal. Here’s how to get it:

You need prospects. You need lots of prospects. Well, great news! There are lots of prospects out there ready to engage with you. However, not all want to actually do business with you, and even less of them want to be a partner or have a win-win relationship. They will engage with you though and it could cost you your 2018 target or even your job.

As a good salesperson with a good product or service you know you can close deals, but eventually, those deals turn into customers and customers that are not ideal are target killers. Here are some examples:

  • Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible): He’ll give you the deal, but it will be a deal no one else was able to fulfill or close. Your competitors wouldn’t touch it. There’s no way you can pull this off.
  • Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas): Sure, it all feels good for now, but your heart skips a beat every time the phone rings and have to look over your shoulder all the time. You just don’t trust him.
  • Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones’ Diary): She’s not really sure what she wants so she’ll play both you and your competitor, likely leaving you both broken-hearted.
  • Montgomery Burns (The Simpsons): He will beat you down on price, even lower than you thought you’d have to go. It will be a bad deal at the same cost of sales and somehow he’ll get you to thank him for it.
  • Tommy Boy (Tommy Boy): The deal is the wrong size. ‘Fat guy in a little coat’. It’s only a matter of time before it falls apart. Those seams aren’t gonna hold.

Every one of these prospects will give you a deal. Some will take incredible effort to close; some will require you to use your trump card for special pricing; some will call you back after the sale, pulling you out of the field because they are high maintenance or are just ticked off; some will meet with you over and over and over and over; and some will give you a portion of the business they promised at the drastically reduced price you accepted.

The time and effort you spend trying to nurture, close, and fulfill these deals will take away from time you could spend with prospects who will become long-lasting, profitable customers interested in partnerships.

If you want to avoid a missed target in 2018, make a commitment now to not settle for just any deal. Set your sights on IDEAL. How do you find ideal prospects?  Look at your customers. Who are your best, most profitable customers? If you look at your best current and past customers, you will start to see common attributes. You can then look for those attributes in prospects. This will help lessen the odds of you running into a bad deal.

Here’s what to do: 

  1. Write down the names of your best customers. (long-lasting, give referrals, happy with you, fairly easy to service or fulfill, and profitable)
  2. What products or services did they buy? (Product groups, service lines, subscriptions)
  3. Outline attributes they share. (Company size, department size, order volume, geography, industry or segment, seasonal needs, business cycle)
  4. Look at your inventory or service capabilities. (What do you have on hand right now?  What can you service today?)

Once you have this information written down, you can start to organize it to create an image of your ideal customer. That ideal customer will give you very specific traits to look for as you search for an ideal prospect. Before you leave the office or pick up the phone you should know the following about your ideal prospects:

  • What are the top 2 or 3 types of business or industries are they in.
  • What size are they?
  • Where are they?
  • What product or service will they want most and can I confidently service it?
  • How much will they likely want to buy?
  • Are they transactional or partnership driven?

Once you applied this filter to you get your ideal prospects your prospect pool will shrink dramatically. You will have fewer people to have to visit or call but your odds of success will go through the roof! You will save a ton of time, you will save yourself and your client aggravation, and you will make the job of your service and fulfillment teams easier and yes, you will hit target quicker. You will not only sell more deals, but you will find that you will see improvement in service or fulfillment, and increases in overall retention. How awesome is that?!?!

Make 2018 the year of IDEAL!

 

If you’d like to read more blog posts from The Win Source, you can find them here.

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Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!

 

The only sales resolution you need in 2018:

Don’t waste time. You will never get it back. When your target comes due, you will wish you had more of it.

When I ask sales leaders what type of training they think their teams need I often hear: “Time Management”. However, I am convinced that time management is a course title created by training companies to make money. I rarely find people with actual time management issues.  What I have seen most often are people with priority management issues.

Most Sales Leaders I know set high, but reasonable targets for their teams. Most Salespeople I know accept their targets as attainable on Jan 1st. Assuming a couple weeks vacation and an average salaried employee work week, we all have the same amount of time to hit our targets each year. The problem begins when we look at our task list on Monday. Everything looks the same, no way to distinguish what is most important. Or worse yet, we have no task list. We operate by the seat of our pants. Our priorities are not clear. That is a huge risk and our biggest time waster.

If we started with a plan to categorize priorities as A, B, & C or Top, Middle, Low we would naturally be drawn to the highest priority. We would feel more compelled to get it done. I personally use a system of Big Rocks, Little Rocks, and pebbles.

Think of it this way- We are at a lake and we each have a pile of Big rocks, small rocks, and pebbles. The goal is to toss in your peices and create ripples that extend to the other side of the lake. What would you grab first? Of course the big rocks! They are best chance of hitting the other side with ripples. In fact, you might not ever throw the pebbles knowing the lack of impact they will have.

What are your big rocks for 2018? For Q1? For this week? Can you take a minute and prioritize your list? Do it now!

Here is your resolution: Focus on my big rocks first. 

Here are some ways to make that happen:

  • Write your big rocks down and carry them or post them.
  • Go to Outlook now and add time to your calendar for your big rocks. Block off time to work them, block off time times for appointments, block off time for key customer visits. You can add TBD for now and fill in the details later. Set time for priorities now.
  • Align your big rocks with your sales leaders early. If you aren’t in alignment you’ll want to know now, not Q2.
  • Scale the size of your rocks to your target. Trying to push a boulder into the lake will likely not get you the ripples you want and will leave you exhausted on the shore.
  • Begin working on one of your big rocks right now, immediately after reading this!

Dont let anyone trick you into believing you have a time management problem, not this year. It’s a myth. Get your big rocks ready, make them the priority, and get ready to create some ripples.