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How to Build Value in Your Customer Relationships

Jeff Cochran

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The goal of every successful salesman is to turn leads into customers and customers into long-term relationships. This may come naturally to some, but to most, it is an ongoing effort. The key is in the baby steps. Give your customers multiple opportunities to “win” along the way. Throughout the customer lifecycle, make sure you appreciate and engage your customers every step of the way. If you can make your customers feel special and appreciated from the beginning, they will continue to reward you with their loyalty.

Make Them Feel Like They Are Winning From the Start

Everyone wants to feel like they are “winning” something, especially in sales. Whether it is a good deal, inside information, or a product that can solve their problems, customers want to feel like they have come out on top. You can provide them with winning situations right from the first pitch. Do this by leading with how your product or service benefits them, instead of leading with information about your company. Your customers are probably busy; they will be more interested in hearing how your product makes them the winner, right from the beginning.

Let Them Win During the Sell

One of the easiest ways to let your customers know they are appreciated is to offer them free perks. If they buy your product, can you offer free shipping? How about discounted upgrades? Send them a “care package” of product samples; this is good for marketing and building relationships. If you give your customers little free perks like this every time they do business with you, they are likely to continue to buy from you in the future.

Let Them Win Upon Fulfillment

Now that you have made the pitch and closed the sale, you can stop worrying about all this “winning” stuff, right? Well, not if you want to build a long-term relationship. Details are essential. Why not hand-deliver the product they ordered? Or make personalized thank you cards to send along with the package? Use your personality and creativity to come up with unique ways to say thank you for every order.

Get to Know Your Customers for a Winning Relationship 

Your customers want to feel special. Pay attention to their likes and dislikes. Know their family’s names. Send them a card or gift at Christmastime or a welcome package if they move to a new home. Invite your favorite customers to industry inside events, like a luncheon at your office or a company baseball game. Basically, treat your customers like you would a friend. These little efforts to get to know them will make them feel greatly appreciated. And when customers feel appreciated and close with you, they will be loyal to your company.

 

Sources:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/248275

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246505

http://www.fortunegroup.com.au/creating-value-for-customers

What Not to Say: Slang Terms Over the Last 100 Years

Jeff Cochran

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In any situation, the appropriateness of cursing, slang, and other forms of taboo language always hinges on questions of time, place, and manner. With all forms of persuasion, context is crucial. In the context of negotiation, emotionally charged appeals can be a slippery slope, most often better to be avoided.

There are always exceptions, but consider this. In the wrong context, swearing may constitute bullying, emotional abuse, or sexual harassment. Slang terminology can either imply a spirit of inclusion into certain social groups, or exclusion. It can be taken as a sign of respect, or it might imply a reductive, dismissive attitude toward the audience. It all depends.

So, while it may sometimes be true that cursing, and slang language have their appropriate time, place, and manner in the world, a negotiator who feels like that rhetorical style is the most persuasive approach probably needs to brush up on their sales negotiation training, or risk cursing themselves later for failing to perfect their pitch the right way.

As a word of caution, before you go into a negotiation armed with a slang vocabulary, make sure you know your audience, your message, and the real meaning of the language you’re going to use. Here’s an infographic to help with that.

INF--Slang-of-the-Century-v7 (1)

How to Lead Your Office in Sales

Jeff Cochran

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There are certain personality traits and characteristics that enable an individual to be successful at sales. Temperaments, ways of approaching people, and even external appearance can all be a huge influence on a salesperson’s efficacy with clients. Most of these traits are applicable to more than sales, too; they’re valuable life skills that will travel with you throughout your career.

Being Self-Aware 

To understand the way others perceive us, we must first understand ourselves. Being self-aware and identifying our emotions is a useful skill at work and in life. Salespeople have the inherent ability to read their own and others’ emotions, which allows them to adjust their response. Once you can identify how you respond to certain stimuli, you can work on changing your actions, if necessary.

Think about how you react when you don’t understand something. Do you get mad? Do you make a reasonable effort to wrap your head around it? Or do you change the subject? Salespeople know ahead of time how they tend to react and what type of reaction will elicit a positive response in a given situation.

Solution Oriented

Salespeople are adept at solving problems; that’s what makes them so good at their jobs. When a salesman pitches an idea or product, they must first identify a problem for which the product offers a solution. They convince the person by explaining how the product or idea works to make their life easier. In the event that a customer has a complaint or a pitch goes sour, they know how to solve that problem, too. Understanding is the foundation for problem solving. To effectively solve a problem, you must first understand the nature of it.

Optimistic 

Optimism isn’t limited to salespeople. It is a healthy outlook everyone should embrace. Optimistic people are more confident, and confidence gets you everywhere. The key to becoming more optimistic is to thoroughly analyze your emotional response to situations. Imagine you wake up in the morning and stub your toe getting out of bed. You can either think: “oh great, it’s going to be that kind of day,” or you can think: “at least I’m wide awake now!” It’s this type of decision in your perception that alters your entire day.

Assertiveness 

Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. There are plenty of ways to convey your assertiveness without coming across as arrogant. When a customer tells an assertive salesman they would like to think about the offer and get back to them, the salesman will often ask for a specific time and date to follow up. This isn’t as passive as simply saying “okay,” and it’s less aggressive than saying “it’s now or never.” It is both firm and accommodating.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/04/12/the-unexpected-secret-to-being-a-great-salesperson/

http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/5-traits-of-highly-successful-salespeople.html

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/65984

4 Traits the Best Salespeople Share

Jeff Cochran

0

There are certain personality traits and characteristics that enable an individual to be successful at sales. Temperaments, ways of approaching people, and even external appearance can all be a huge influence on a salesperson’s efficacy with clients. Most of these traits are applicable to more than sales, too; they’re valuable life skills that will travel with you throughout your career.

Being Self-Aware 

To understand the way others perceive us, we must first understand ourselves. Being self-aware and identifying our emotions is a useful skill at work and in life. Salespeople have the inherent ability to read their own and others’ emotions, which allows them to adjust their response. Once you can identify how you respond to certain stimuli, you can work on changing your actions, if necessary.

Think about how you react when you don’t understand something. Do you get mad? Do you make a reasonable effort to wrap your head around it? Or do you change the subject? Salespeople know ahead of time how they tend to react and what type of reaction will elicit a positive response in a given situation.

Solution Oriented

Salespeople are adept at solving problems; that’s what makes them so good at their jobs. When a salesman pitches an idea or product, they must first identify a problem for which the product offers a solution. They convince the person by explaining how the product or idea works to make their life easier. In the event that a customer has a complaint or a pitch goes sour, they know how to solve that problem, too. Understanding is the foundation for problem solving. To effectively solve a problem, you must first understand the nature of it.

Optimistic 

Optimism isn’t limited to salespeople. It is a healthy outlook everyone should embrace. Optimistic people are more confident, and confidence gets you everywhere. The key to becoming more optimistic is to thoroughly analyze your emotional response to situations. Imagine you wake up in the morning and stub your toe getting out of bed. You can either think: “oh great, it’s going to be that kind of day,” or you can think: “at least I’m wide awake now!” It’s this type of decision in your perception that alters your entire day.

Assertiveness 

Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. There are plenty of ways to convey your assertiveness without coming across as arrogant. When a customer tells an assertive salesman they would like to think about the offer and get back to them, the salesman will often ask for a specific time and date to follow up. This isn’t as passive as simply saying “okay,” and it’s less aggressive than saying “it’s now or never.” It is both firm and accommodating.

4 Steps to Building Long Term Professional Relationships

Jeff Cochran

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Repeat customers and long term business relationships can make or break a professional career. Whether you’re seeking to build a better relationship with your company’s clients or further your influence as an industry professional, it’s important to take an active role in solidifying business relationships. Completing negotiation training and sales training will give you a strong foundation from which to cultivate relationships, as will the following tips.

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Adopt a “Give and Take” Philosophy 

As professionals with negotiations training under their belt clearly understand, laying the foundation for a strong business relationship requires a bit of give and take. Instead of initiating contact only when you need something, become a go-to resource for your professional network. Communicate often enough that you remain informed about your contact’s needs and challenges, and become an active part of the solution.

Use Social Media (Really)

Modern sales training emphasizes the use of social media to keep professional networks buzzing, but individual professionals often fail to use social platforms to their advantage. Unlike years past, professionals are relying more on social media to communicate with existing contacts and create new relationships. While the old fashioned phone call shouldn’t be ignored, consider switching up your routine by reaching out to contacts on social media. A direct message on Twitter or a mention on LinkedIn may be enough to gain new leads or land a new project.

 Exceed Expectations 

When honored with the opportunity to provide a service or product to a professional contact, aim to exceed their expectations every time. Take deadlines, specifications, and project goals seriously to ensure your contact’s satisfaction with your work, and always communicate throughout the process. Keeping the lines of communication open will show your business contacts you’re committed to going above and beyond to guarantee their satisfaction. A solid record of success with your contacts is the best way to foster a long-term professional relationship that is beneficial for both parties.

Don’t Undervalue a Good Recommendation 

Even if there are a few people in your professional network you’d rather forget, never waste an opportunity for a good recommendation. In the midst of a task-filled day, speaking with one of your less-than-favorite contacts may be the last thing you want to do. However, taking a few minutes out of your day to be responsive increases the probability that you’ll be recommended to other professionals. When all is said and done, the effort is worth it.

The Importance of the Consistent Reevaluation of Sales Plans

Jeff Cochran

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A sales plan is integral to any company’s success. The strategy most take is to devise an effective sales plan, which remains the same until it begins to become less successful. This can be an effective strategy for a company looking to maintain present success. However, the best companies in any industries are always growing and expanding. A business serious about success has to think big. One way to push towards greater success is to improve and reevaluate your current sales plan. Fortunately, there are plenty of small changes a company can make without overhauling its approach to sales:

  • Monitor analytics. The only way to know what changes will help your company is to look at the stats. Continuously checking up on your website’s analytics lets you know what’s working and what’s not.
  • Make a goal. Do you want to expand your customer base? Improve customer experience? Streamline production? Once you’ve analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of your business plan, come up with an attainable goal for your reevaluation.
  • Stay up to date online. In today’s world, every company has a social media presence. An under-utilized social media page means lost sales and poor reputation. There are changes every day in the technology world. Staying apprised of these updates allows makes your company relevant, appealing to new customer bases and keeping old customers loyal. Keep up with technology to maximize your company’s potential.
  • Focus on your audience. Your audience’s response is how you determine what parts of your sales plan are effective. Your reevaluation is primarily concerned with this response, so make it your top priority.
  • Don’t be afraid of change. A reevaluation of your sales plan should be a small update, not taking up too much money or resources. However, sometimes the reevaluation can lead to a bigger realization of a potential untapped market or branding opportunity. In these cases, don’t be afraid to go for gold. A big change can mean big success when it’s relevant and oriented towards your audience’s needs.
  • Be patient. Big changes don’t happen overnight. A successful reevaluation of a sales strategy takes time. Proper analysis of your company’s success can only be done by experts looking over a lot of data. Similarly, figuring out what changes should be made with the data in mind is not a quick process. Even small changes take time. By devoting necessary time to a sales plan reevaluation, you stand to bring your company growth and success.
  • Get some advice. Shapiro Negotiations offers extensive corporate sales training and negotiation training opportunities for maximizing any company’s sales potential. Professional help with reevaluating your company’s sales strategy can mean big growth.

Tools for Closing the Sale

Jeff Cochran

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Negotiating skills will propel you quite far in any business deal, but unless you know how to close the sale – and these days we are all salespeople of one sort or another – then your negotiating skills will all come to naught. By supplementing your negotiating skills with several powerful tools, you can better demonstrate to potential buyers that your business provides exactly the high quality, well-vetted services that they require. When you truly learn to close a sale, not just complete the negotiations on an easy deal, your business will truly take off.

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Treat Every Prospect Like a Buyer

Sometimes, as a negotiation comes to its close, it will start to become clear that the person sitting in front of you doesn’t think they have the power or standing to close the deal – or they do have that power and are being evasive. No matter what a prospective client is articulating about their ability to personally close the deal, continue to treat them like a buyer. Treating every prospect like a buyer ensures that you are making your most clear and convincing pitch, and is the easiest way to get to yes, even when the client is reluctant.

Build a Strong Portfolio

One of the most convincing arguments you can make for closing the deal is one you don’t personally have to make at all. Each time you successfully close a deal, ask the client to write your company an endorsement. A portfolio that demonstrates various successful negotiations proves to a prospective client that you can truly deliver the services proposed. This can help increase the trust relationship between you and the potential client and your portfolio will close the deal for you.

Focus on Value Gaps 

The main reason you are in the room participating in a negotiation with a potential client is that they are facing some sort of gap in their business that they are hoping your company can fill. Rather than harping specifically on services, pay attention to the types of value your client is losing by not providing a certain service. By articulating ways your company can add value, rather than a single concrete service, you are more likely to tie up the ultimate concerns of the negotiation.

Sensing the Close of a Deal 

How can you tell when it is time to close the deal? There are certain signs to look for in the language and body postures of your client that indicate they are ready to say yes. When they are ready to close, the client will likely ask questions about the project end, such as asking how long until the service is delivered, or they may verbally propose ways of using your service. When you see these signs, try for the assumptive close. This style of close takes yes as the given and moves towards getting the final confirmation of specifications, payment, and delivery information.

Improve Your Negotiation Skills in Five Steps

Jeff Cochran

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Negotiation plays a role at every level in the world of business, making it a critical skill for all employees to learn. While the basic rules of negotiation: clear communication, good eye contact and body language, and a focus on objectives are typically familiar to most employees – they are, after all, the starter skills for negotiating a raise – more advanced negotiation skills can help get your company to the yes you want to hear. These five skills each address an often overlooked part of the negotiation process that can really affect negotiation outcomes.

1. Be aware of power differentials. One of the biggest challenges for upper-level employees participating in negotiations is to see the position of the person with less power. Being the person with more power in a negotiation does not automatically mean you will get what you want, particularly if you are unable to take the perspective of your negotiating partner. When the person with power takes a step back towards a more equal position, negotiations go more smoothly.

2. Emphasize the needs of the other party. Don’t assume that you know what the other party needs, but do make sure that those needs are communicated clearly and prioritized. Part of emphasizing those needs is listening closely enough to understand the nuances of the other party’s position. Once you know what your negotiating partner needs, it is easier to move forward because the different possible compromises within the negotiation become clear.

3. Avoid forced extroversion. Many people think that the most important characteristic of a powerful negotiator is extroversion, leading some naturally introverted people to put on a show that benefits no one. Rather than acting like someone you’re not, introverted negotiators should draw on the unique skills of their own personality. Additionally, others can usually tell when you are faking extroversion, and when they do, you will appear as untrustworthy.

4. Emphasize thoughts as much as feelings. Because so much of negotiating is focused on taking the perspective of the other person, negotiators can sometimes get caught up in the particular emotions invoked by the process – stress, feeling like you lack power, annoyance, frustration, and so forth. While feelings are important, trying to follow the intellectual logic of the individual you are negotiating with is just as critical. Don’t get so caught up in the emotional side that you lose sight of intellectual insights.

5. Help them get to “yes.” When you show up to a negotiation, make sure you’ve done all the advance groundwork that will make it clear you care about the person or company you are negotiating with. The more you know about their position and what they will need from you to say yes, the easier and more amiable the negotiation process will be. Additionally, by keeping your ears open for the pauses in the negotiation process, you can pinpoint the parts of the process blocking the other party from getting to that all important “yes.”

Top 3 Sales Training Trends

Jeff Cochran

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As an authoritative training and consulting firm it’s our business to be up on trends that directly influence our clients. Because we travel all over the world to provide training, our perspective on where things are going as we head into 2014 is rather unique. Here are the three most important sales training trends to keep an eye on.

Trend #1: In-depth Ideal Customer Models

Welcome to the era of big data. Sales trainers today can show their trainees how to get digital mountains of information on ideal clients and customers that simply wasn’t there 3 years ago. This emerging ability of sales forces to learn about their customers and deliver product/service information in new and creative ways is fueling a more inbound sales model.

  • Capturing leads and new accounts these days has less to do with outbound techniques, and more to do with using the power of information to draw ideal clients into sales funnels.
  • Vast tracking data makes it easier to pin-point customer needs. This in turn allows companies to see drastic improvements in upsell and cross-selling numbers.
  • Teams can use this customer information to approach them for more than one angle at a time.

Trend #2: Social Media Integration

Social networking platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and especially LinkedIn are making their way into sales training as a matter of course. Where does social media begin and the sales funnel begin? Internally and externally social media is playing a bigger and bigger role in modern consumerism.

  • Social media connects sales representatives with each other, with management, with all the varying departments within the organization and with customers.
  • Externally social media is a battlegrounds where brand expansion takes place. Sales training increasingly teaches business leaders and sales people how to leverage thse networks.
  • Social media is an incredible resource for customer insight and analytics. In the right hands this information translates into higher performance and a more effective sales team.

Trend #3: Efficiency Focused & Bottom Lines

Speaking of effectiveness. That’s the name of the game across the board. This is an age of ultimate efficiency from the way we run our businesses and fuel our cars, to how we heat our homes and expand a bottom line. Nearly every conventional sales training technique has been sliced and diced to suit a fast-paced hypercompetitive marketplace.

  • According to a CSO Insights Trend Report that came out in 2012, revenue is the absolute #1 concern moving into 2014 on the minds of sales executives.
  • Effectiveness used to mean the sheer amount of customers who could be reached through traditional methods. Now, it’s about the quality (efficiency) of these connections. It’s about conversion rates. Rather than 10,000 worthless leads, what matters are the higher converting 5-10%.
  • To grow revenue, modern organizations and enterprise are investing vast sums of capital into training. So far the broad market ROI speaks for itself. There’s no question that quality training leads to unprecedented performance for most outdated sales models.

Getting the Most Out of Your Annual Sales Meetings

Jeff Cochran

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The good news is that these days, thanks to modern meeting-based software tools and technology, the amount of people suffering from PowerPoint overdose has significantly decreased. In fact, getting the most out of your annual sales meeting can be both fun and less of a headache.

In this article we’re going to look at tips you can use to transform critical annual sales meetings into powerful allies against the hyper competitive and fast-paced marketplace. It’s about keeping attention, giving crucial updates to your sales team, directing focus, priming the wheels for the year to come and inspiring better performance. Let’s get to it.

Tip #1: Condense & Consolidate

It’s literally impossible to keep the human mind engaged at a certain peak level for long. Ask any college professor. Furthermore, the surface intellect can only take in so much information at once before complete loss of focus. Don’t try to stuff every little bit of information in.

  • Cherry-pick the most important, the most relevant and the most inspiring information for the audience.
  • To keep the momentum going make sure you aren’t repeating the same information over and over again. All that does is waste time and attention spans!
  • Stick to the point. Stay on topic. Listen to your guy and when the room begins to get heavy, lighten things up by moving forward.

Stay aware of the clock, but don’t get caught looking at it. If this is your first rodeo, keep a watch somewhere that you can see it but no one else can. As long as you continue to advance the conversation and progress in a timely manner, you’ll get solid results.

Tip #2: Employ Unexpected Formats

There’s really no reason to dim the lights and give a generic PowerPoint presentation anymore. This is the age of virtual meetings and unprecedented conference room software. There are applications around like for example, iMeet, that can add some interaction. In reality the sky is the limit.

  • If you’re going to incorporate some video, that’s great but don’t choose something dry. What’s wrong with a little music?
  • Bring in a guest speaker via Skype, include social media aspects (LinkedIn posts), layer in some audio and employ software that adds contemporary spice to an old business tradition.
  • Remember that the more senses you ask your audience to use, the more into the experience they’ll be. And, the longer the impression afterwards will last. What you’re saying really matters!

Tip #3: Personalize the Presentations

Engage your sales team on a personal level without letting things go too far. Make sure to provide time, or intermingle it throughout the presentation, where they’re voices and opinions can be heard and discussed. A more organic dynamic can go a long ways to getting to the real nitty gritty.

  • When you present numbers, don’t deliver them as cold data. That’s hard work in action. That’s blood, sweat and tears. Involve the folks that those numbers represent. They’ll pay far better attention that way.
  • Getting feedback is a way to personalize presentations and turn hard facts into interesting conversations that can really bring out the best.
  • No one likes an informal info-dump, so personalize it and watch how much more fulfilling it will be for everyone involved.