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  • The top ten books for growing your sales Nov 17, 2020

    A mind can only hold so much information and when that mind ceases to be its contents if not passed on are forgotten. Then too not all minds are alike, and where one person seems to have a photographic memory another is incessantly forgetful which is why writing has allowed lesser mortals to stand atop giants and learn from them and push further than would have been possible without writing, and without books.

    Think of it as our first technological augmentation that increased the brain power of humanity. I don’t know of any majorly successful person who isn’t interested in learning and therefore reading, Take it from Bill Gates: “You don't really start getting old until you stop learning, every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently”.

    Reading allows you not just to learn new ideas but can spark invention by inspiring you to mix old ideas into something new, to improve upon your existing ideas.

    With that in mind we’ve compiled a list of ten books that’ll help you rethink and reinvigorate your sales strategy, these are some of the most famous and tried and tested books in the sales space.

    » Download our FREE guide to Sales Negotiation »

    The ten best sales books

    1) Spin Selling by Neil Rackham

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    Based on 12 years of research and 35,000 sales calls, Neil Rackham distilled the lessons into a single powerful sales technique. It’s pretty simple and can be boiled down to a sales methodology where you just ask the right questions instead of focussing on closing.

    • S: Situation
    • P: Problem
    • I: Implication
    • N: Needs payoff
    By asking the right questions you demonstrate empathy for the prospect, build trust and get to the bottom of what they want.

    Successful people ask a lot more questions during sales calls than do their less successful colleagues. We found these less successful people tend to do most of the talking.

    Situation questions are there to provide you with the background information you’ll need to properly assess the prospect’s needs. Problem questions are designed to get to the pain points of the prospect and the issues they face daily when trying to operate their business. They’re designed to get to the core needs of the prospect.

    Implication questions are as the title would imply the consequences for the prospect of the problems. By asking them you want to impress upon the prospect that the problem(s) are significant and in need of being redressed.Needs payoff questions on the other hand focus the prospect’s attention on your solution. By asking these questions you get the prospect to understand that your solution can alleviate the problem and get them to parrot back the benefits.

    2) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion By: Robert B. Cialdini

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    This classic sales book and New York Times Best Seller has sold over 3 million copies and been translated into thirty languages, not bad for a book that seeks to influence and persuade people.

    The book can be broken down into six principles:

    1. Reciprocity
    2. Scarcity
    3. Authority
    4. Consistency
    5. Liking
    6. Consensus
    Dr. Cialdini dives into each one with what they are, the power of each principle and real world examples of how they work to persuade and get something from people whether it be how the Hare Krishnas exploded their donations to this little gem from the chapter on reciprocity from a student of Dr. Cialdini:

    About one year ago, I couldn’t start my car. As I was sitting there, a guy in the parking lot came over and eventually jump-started the car. I said thanks, and he said you’re welcome; as he was leaving, I said that if he ever needed a favor to stop by. About a month later, the guy knocked on my door and asked to borrow my car for two hours as his was in the shop. I felt somewhat obligated but uncertain, since the car was pretty new and he looked very young. Later, I found out that he was underage and had no insurance. Anyway, I lent him the car. He totaled it.

    3) How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

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    So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.

    This is one of the first best selling self improvement books, it discusses how to use people’s desires and ego to move them to your advantage, it’s a classic of the genre and with the best title of any book on this list.

    Part of persuasion and sales isn’t simply having the best pitch in substance but it’s about style too, to be able to flatter and move people with charm is a huge advantage over the charmless.

    It describes the various techniques to get people to like you, how to handle people and win people over to your way of thinking and change people without giving offense or breeding resentment.

    4) The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

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    Challenger sales were developed by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson in 2011, they looked through thousands of sales reps and found that there were five common profiles:

    • The Hard Worker: A self motivated striver who puts in the work and loves feedback.
    • The Relationship Builder: Is great at building a rapport with clients and is generous with the amount of time they give each prospect.
    • The Lone Wolf: An independent type that follows their own instincts
    • The Problem Solver: A reliable and details oriented type.
    • The Challenger: Focused on the end goal, loves to debate and doesn’t mind pushing the customer out of their comfort zone
    Out of these five profiles the challengers represented 40% of the top performing reps in Dixon and Adamson’s analysis.

    Challengers win by understanding the way the prospect works and seeing the flaws and drawbacks and pointing out a better way, to get the prospect out of their comfort zone and see a new way of doing things. The challenger sales method is especially useful in complex sales situations where taking charge can be more beneficial in moving things along.

    5) The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer
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    What are the 12.5 principles?

    1. Kick your own ass.
    2. Prepare to win, or lose to someone who is.
    3. Personal branding IS sales: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
    4. It’s all about value, it’s all about relationship, it’s not all about price.
    5. It’s NOT work, it’s NETwork.
    6. If you can’t get in front of the real decision maker, you suck.
    7. Engage me and you can make me convince myself.
    8. If you can make them laugh, you can make them buy!
    9. Use CREATIVITY to differentiate and dominate.
    10. Reduce their risk and you’ll convert selling to buying.
    11. When you say it about yourself it’s bragging. When someone else says it about you its proof. 1
    12. Antennas up! 12.5. Resign your position as general manager of the universe.
    This little book is a must read for entrepreneurs and business owners as it gives you a crash course into selling, from finding the decision maker to being able to pitch in a way that is both understandable and excites the guy who cuts the cheques.

    The book is relationship driven, referral orientated and finding out what the core buying motives of the customer are and then taking the right actions to get the sale.

    6) Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler

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    If you generate leads through outbound sales then Predictable Revenue is a must read for you. It provides a how-to guide to create a repeatable and scalable lead generation process without cold calling.

    Instead of making cold calls to get in touch with prospects, they recommend sending cold emails to generate referrals to the decision-makers first, who then are likely to expect your call.

    The next stage involves setting up the qualification call to figure out whether there’s a mutual fit between the prospect and sales rep, then from there you can focus on “selling the dream”. It’s a process that allows you to measure your effectiveness at every stage and then over time hone it to become a successful sales conversion machine.

    7) How to master the art of selling by Tom Hopkins

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    Tom Hopkins earned himself over one million dollars in his first three years as a salesman, and he distills the lessons learned in this excellent guide to selling. He examines every stage of sales and selling, from sales calls to initial meetings, follow-ups and long-term strategies providing useful tools and tips to level up your sales skills.

    He also goes into “money study”, the learning to earn fivesome which when mastered allows you to acquire new knowledge quickly and thoroughly.

    1. Impact
    2. Repetition
    3. Utilization
    4. Internalization
    5. Reinforcement
    Take impact for example the more you’re interested in a subject the more details you’ll remember about it and the better you’ll be able to talk about it. This applies in sales, if you can motivate yourself to master your pitch and speak with enthusiasm it’ll help you when dealing with prospects. If you can psych yourself up to learn you can do it more effectively and faster.

    8) To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink

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    Everyone is always selling, you’re trying to move someone to do something that you want them to do. You’re selling them on it, and there are no natural born sales people. It doesn’t matter if you’re an extravert you can still be a terrible salesperson because you talk too much and listen too little, and if you’re an introvert you’re too shy and timid to close; ambiverts make the best sales people.

    Daniel offers great exercises to hone your skills and tips to make your offering more clear from offering less choices to empathising the potential of the product, not the achievements. He also covers how to approach clarifying the motives of others so you can then proceed to move them in the direction you want.

    9) Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

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    In this book Oren Klaff uses the latest developments in neuroeconomics to hack the brain and take advantage of how the brain reacts to make sure you stay in control of every stage of the pitch process.

    The three processes to help you pitch and sell anything are:

    Your pitch must speak to your audience’s neanderthal brain. Make yourself the prize. Use multiple so-called frames to trigger a gut decision in your favor

    Let’s take number 3, there are multiple ways to create a gut decision such as a time frame i.e. we’re likely to sell out next month which creates a fomo (fear of missing out) reaction in the prospect.

    10) Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes

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    Chet Holmes was a selling master. He doubled sales for nine divisions of a Charlie Munger company, in the book he goes over the 12 key strategies you need to implement to succeed:
    1. Effective time management
    2. Instituting higher standards and regular training
    3. Effective meetings
    4. Becoming a brilliant strategist by taking a strategic approach by educating your prospective customers so that you set the buying criteria.
    5. Hiring superstars.
    6. Targeting your best buyers
    7. The seven musts of marketing - You can't rely on just using one marketing method to attract new customers.
    8. Better presentation skills
    9. Winning the best buyers
    10. Sales skills
    11. Follow-up and client bonding
    12. Goals and measures - Standard material done well.
    It’s a really thorough book that focused on continued action and maintaining focus in order to succeed in sales.

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  • 9 techniques for customer objection handling (Your sales team will love) Oct 20, 2020

    What is objection handling in sales?
    Objection handling is simply dealing with any concerns a prospect might have about the product or service you’re selling. These concerns get in the way of you closing the deal. They tend to revolve around price, product fit, need, competitors or they just don’t want to talk to you.

    Your response should alleviate these concerns and move the deal forward, that’s all objection handling is.

    Through the rest of this post we’re going to go through common objections prospects have and common sales objection handling examples so you have a source to mine for your own prospects:

    Why objection handling matters?
    Being able to handle these objections is critical to winning sales. Think about it, you’re going to send your kid on a ride and you ask is it safe? If they can’t answer that simple question to your satisfaction little Timmy isn’t going on the ride, same thing in sales they’re not going to buy from you if you can’t answer their concerns.

    If you ignore them or just barrel on about the key features of whatever you’re selling those objections won’t disappear. They’ll fester and stew in the prospect's mind so you should not be afraid of them.

    In fact, you want to bring them to the fore and deal with them because they will be the factors that decide whether they buy or not.

    Objection handling is about selling to them. If you fail here you’ll never get to the sales negotiation - don’t make that mistake by assuming you can negotiate until you’re certain they’ve bought into what you’re selling. This is really important.

    Technique 1: Be calm and don’t interrupt prospects with sales objections
    You’re at a ten you need to be at a two.

    When a sales target has an objection it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person and it doesn’t mean their concern is illegitimate even if they’re factually wrong about something.

    Handling objections in sales isn’t just about the substance but about the style too. If you come across as too eager to rebut their objection they’ll think that there’s more to it than there is. They’ll read your body language and the increase in your talking speed - interpreting this as a gotcha.

    If you come across as flustered you’ll seem less trustworthy and it’ll build tension. If you just shut up and listen to their whole point, and then calmly and here’s the critical part, slowly respond to their objection in a matter of fact way you’ll deal with it substantively and in style.

    There’ll be no build up in tension and you won’t make it seem like a big deal with your speech pattern and body language.

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    Remember when Mark Zuckerberg went to congress - his body language and speech pattern destroyed him and made him seem shifty and untrustworthy. Before that he was seriously being considered as a future President of the United States, afterwards the idea was laughable.

    The most successful sales people stay calm under pressure and take the air out of any tension that could arise. It’s not just the substance of the response but how you do it. You want to reassure and be professional.

    Technique 2: How to deal with a customer with a lot of objections
    The prospect who wants this and that and the other. He’s machine gunning objections at you and you’re sitting there thinking this is really going south.

    Your natural instinct is to save it by trying to respond to every point. Whatever he pitches you’re going to knock it out of the park.

    Don’t do that.

    You’re going to get into a pointless argument that won’t go anywhere. They’ll keep making demands and bringing up something else that your product is lacking or this feature that they want.

    It’ll become a competition and someone has to win. That’s not why you’re there.

    So what do you do?

    First, let them get it out of their system. Eventually they’re going to run out of steam especially if you’re not engaging them so they don’t have anything to rile them up further, to bounce off of.

    Back during the second Punic war. You may not remember this but I’ll remind you. So the Romans are getting their behinds kicked all across Italy by Hannibal. Not that Hannibal, instead the one that crossed the Alps with a bunch of elephants.

    Now the Romans are a really aggressive people. They like to win and they don’t like retreating in front of an opponent. They don’t like losing, in fact they really hate it. So they keep sending bigger and bigger armies at Hannibal that get destroyed.

    Eventually, a Roman named Fabius says “Hey guys don’t engage Hannibal, that’s what he wants”.

    The Romans ignore this guy and get smashed some more

    Finally, they go back to Fabius and listen. So they employ his “Fabian strategy” where they avoid decisive battles and slowly by picking and choosing small skirmishes they wear down Hannibal's army.

    You don’t want to fight every objection. Don’t engage, let them wear themselves out and then ask “OK I hear you but which of those are the most important to you, your deal breakers?”.

    Everything that they just threw at you is not going to be a deal breaker. By asking this question you can focus your energy on what actually matters and therefore save the call or meeting.

    Most of their objections are going to be nice to haves or kind of important but if you can identify the deal breakers and you can meet those deal breakers you’ve still got a deal on your hands.

    Ignore the nice to haves. They don’t matter and when you’re done going through the deal breakers ask if you’ve addressed them properly.

    If they say yes then fantastic you can move the sale forward if they say no then ask what you’re missing.

    By doing this you cut all the unnecessary stuff and you can prioritise on what will actually get you the sale.

    It’s easy to get frustrated but it's your job to keep the conversation focused. If you spent the entire call or meeting arguing over irrelevant details you messed up.

    You’re the one who is qualifying the prospect. You’re the one who has to demonstrate that your product is valuable and you can’t do that if you can’t identify what matters and keep the focus on that.

    Technique 3: Sales objections about price and budget
    Firstly, don’t talk about price if they don’t bring it up until near the end of the sales call because you want them to understand the value of your product first.

    If you can impress them with the value of your product the pricing is less of an issue.

    That follows onto what to do when they bring up pricing and budget objections.

    The key here is to find out what exactly is the problem and that’ll allow you to decide how best to approach it.

    So if it's that they think that it’s too expensive for what you’re offering then you need to pivot the conversation to the value your product provides. If you can quantify the ROI and show how costly it will be in the long run if they don’t buy your product then you can neutralise this objection.

    Overcoming pricing objections is not about arguing the pricing but arguing the value. If you can persuade the prospect that your product can solve their problem then pricing becomes less important. So remember it's the value proposition stupid not pricing.

    What if they have budgetary constraints?

    If they don’t have the money they don’t have the money - you might just have to disqualify them right?

    Not necessarily, if you offer different tiers for your product you can find out what the deal breakers are and offer a lower tier that meets those deal breakers within their budget and win the sale.

    Maybe, they don’t have the budget right now but in the next financial year they’ll have a freer hand, there is nothing wrong with delaying until then. You want to provide options that can help them without you giving away the store.

    A small note on discounts - don’t give them away like skittles, and don’t do special deals for one customer and then another deal for another customer. Word will get around and customers will get annoyed if they find out someone else got a better deal. If you offer discounts make sure they’re standardised.

    But more importantly, don’t give away discounts from the get go. Sometimes you can tell with a prospect who's trying to get blood out of a stone they’ll be more trouble than they’re worth. We’ve had this with certain RealtimeCRM users in the past when we made this mistake but that’s a judgement call you’ll have to make.

    A price objection is not the end of the world. All you have to do is demonstrate the value of your offering, provide some options and don’t panic and give away discounts in the first instance.

    Technique 4: Sales objections around your competition
    If they’re already with a competitor, don’t panic. In fact it makes your job in some ways easier because clearly they have problems that your product can solve if they’re already using a competitor.

    A large chunk of the argument has already been made for you.

    But still how do you muscle your competitor out?

    Well it depends on what the objection is. We’ll use an example of a customer we won in real life from a competitor who will remain nameless.

    But the competitor was a very significant and a large player and they had them tied into a contract.

    That seems pretty formidable right?

    Wrong!

    There was something rotten in the state of Denmark. The prospect had been promised many things by our competitor that didn’t pan out and they had to pay a significant chunk of change for more support.

    We went in and we offered them a heavy discount to offset the cost of moving to us. In addition, we don’t charge an arm and a leg extra for support and we didn’t over promise and under deliver.

    We weren’t afraid to compare ourselves to our competitor and we were willing to probe the relationship the prospect had with our competitor to find out what the issues in the relationship were, and then explain how we’d better manage those problems for them.

    What if they’re happy with their competitor?

    Same rules apply, probe and find weaknesses and then explain how your product is better.

    Technique 5: Sales objections around need
    No one really needed the automobile. Horses were just fine. Genghis Khan conquered the known world on horseback.

    You’re going to run into prospects who think they don’t need what you’re offering. They might be right but we verify before we trust.

    So how do you do that?

    You should know the pain points your solution solves so ask questions to tease out what their pain points are. If they are pains that match up with your offering then spell it out to them.

    You want to create a narrative that goes something like this:

    Problem - Solution - Payoff

    Your product should be couched right in the middle of that.

    But let’s say they don’t get your product. Ask them to clarify what part of the product description they don’t understand and rephrase it so it makes sense in their context.

    However, sometimes if a prospect doesn’t have a need for your product it means they don’t have a need for it. That sales objection cannot be overcome so you shouldn’t waste any more valuable time on them.

    Recall, you’re trying to qualify them as well as sell to them. If they’re not the right fit for you and you recognise that - that’s good because it means you can move onto other prospects who you are more relevant to, and just as importantly are more relevant to you.

    Technique 6: Use social proof to overcome sales objections
    If you’re on a cold call or sent a cold email they won’t know who you are and your trust capital will be low.

    This is why social proof from testimonials of other similar businesses are really important. As soon as you can you should get some.

    You can see them on our shop window as soon as you land on the RealtimeCRM website or more in depth case studies like this one. They’re important because they demonstrate that you may be relevant to them as you’re already helping similar businesses.

    And if you can bring to the table case studies where you can show cost savings, increased efficiency or boosted ROI it’ll create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). That’s a powerful tool to move a prospect.

    Just look at the toilet paper apocalypse during the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s enough toilet paper for everyone but monkey see monkey do and you get panicked hoarding.

    That’s the power of the group and social proof on the behavior of the individual.

    Technique 7: How to deal with an “i don’t have time” objection
    Do not ever barrel into a sales pitch without first getting permission to pitch to the prospect.

    If you don’t get permission you are machine gunning yourself in the foot as you’re going to really annoy the prospect.

    How do you get permission? Check out our post Cold calling - Using mini upfront contracts to deal with “I don't have time”.

    But what if they say they don’t have time can you send me some more information?

    Oftentimes when you get through to a decision maker they don’t want to be influenced by you and want to get you off the phone.

    Most of the time you want to avoid conflict so you acquiesce and meekly say OK and give the initiative to the prospect - now you don’t want to fight the person on the other line but neither do you want to just give up, you have no idea if they’ll actually open your email.

    So what do you do?

    You say “Yes, sure I can”. Then ask for their email.

    Now here’s the Jedi mind trick, all you have to do is say “Just so I send the right information to you…” and then just ask the questions you were going to ask anyway. How many people are working at your company at the moment? What’s your budget? And so on.

    If you're a good conversationalist you’ll end up having the call you wanted with the prospect without them realising. Now of course sometimes they’re going to push back “Hey I really don’t have time”.

    That’s fine, be polite and friendly and come back with “Look I want to make sure I’m doing my job and sending you the relevant information so I don’t waste your time sending you an irrelevant email, then having to waste my time sending a follow up email and then calling you again to have another 5 minute conversation, that’s why I want to ask you these questions to avoid that”.

    You have to judge it but don’t be afraid to push back when the prospect pushes, just remember to be polite and friendly.

    Technique 8: Make sure you’ve addressed their objection
    Part of the art of objection handling is making sure the prospect feels heard and their concerns addressed.

    You might think you’ve done that but only the prospect can confirm this so after you deal with the sales objection all you have to do is ask two simple questions.

    Firstly, don’t assume you know what their concern is without confirming it first. You do this by asking this question:

    Can you explain that further so I can understand better?

    That’s it. Then you just rephrase what they said to confirm your understanding and you can then move onto dealing with the objection.

    Once you’ve done that you ask one more question:

    What part of your objection remains unaddressed?

    This way you can be sure you’ve addressed the prospects concern and hopefully move on. You don’t want it to be left buried to fester and stew in the prospect's mind.

    Technique 9: Produce a sales objections and responses template
    As you interact with more and more prospects you should be recording what sales objections come up. What deal breakers got in the way of closing the deal?

    You’ll notice common objections appear again and again. That’s normal.

    So you should therefore produce a sales objections and responses template. The benefit of this is that every time that same objection rears its ugly head you don’t need to compute the answer again and again leading to awkward pauses.

    You’ve got your objection management document and you can calmly respond to the objection.

    Now when writing an answer to a common objection you don’t need to write a novel, a couple of lines or bullet points that get the gist of your rebuttal across is all you need.

    So if you don’t have one then make one.

    originally published here.