Your Success Depends on the Choices YOU Make

Filed Under (OP Sales Training, Suggested Reading) by Don on 17-04-2012

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Success, or failure is highly dependent on the choices you make.  I’m sure this isn’t rocket science to most of us but it seems to me that our current crop of potential sales people are more interested in time off than time spent earning that success.  It isn’t my purpose to put every one of these potentials in a single nutshell but this does seem to apply to a majority.  Lesson number one for you folks is; your success or failure is strictly up to you and you alone.  If you accept a sales job, no matter what the product line represents, it is your responsibility to put forth the necessary effort to learn everything you can about the product(s) and how they are to be used as possible.  Lesson number two is; the second most important ingredient to your success or failure is YOUR attitude.  I don’t want to hear about all the negative influences you have in your life.  Face it spunky, we all have them!  How you allow those negative influences to affect your attitude is a decision you make and it will define how you are perceived by your prospects and clients.  Forgive me for not remembering who said this but there is a quote by one of the great sales trainers/writers that says “Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude”.  Successful sales training is an effective combination of efforts from the employer and the individual rep.  The employer can give you all the tools necessary to help you be successful and sales/selling is a continual process that demands continuous improvement, practice and refinement on your part.

Now you employers are on the hook here too for some shared responsibility.  Back in the mid-1980′s when I was first hired into this industry my new employer met me on my first day with an 1000 page catalog and told me, “Here is what you can sell and here are your prices.  Now go out there and sell something.” This honestly happened to me and I hope it never happens to you. I succeeded because I’m stubborn, hard-headed and darned determined to be successful.  When you bring on a new rep that isn’t experienced in your industry or product you need to have a written plan on how you will bring your new rep up to speed.  In the OP industry you can’t learn 30,000+ items overnight.  That means homework.  Since my primary wholesaler is USSCO then I’ll take their mega catalog and assign categories to the rep starting with the most commonly purchased products such as “Clips”, “Correction” and “Paper”.  After a couple of days I’ll quiz them on what item fits which category and what is the starting page number for that category.  I have reps spend time with the customer service staff, warehouse, delivery and if possible a furniture install.  All these things round out their understanding of what is required to effectively represent the company and it’s products.  While this isn’t an exhaustive list it is a good start.  It is also important that the dealer have the rep participate in wholesaler sponsored training classes.  You (the dealer) must make a reasonable investment in your reps success.

As a rep it is your responsibility to invest the time necessary to become successful.  Sales is NOT a 9-5 job.  If you think it is then I suggest you find another line of work.  Sales isn’t for you.  To become and to remain successful in sales is a constant process.  You are a work in progress and you have to feed your mind.  There are so many excellent sales trainers, seminars, classes, mentors, books and processes out there I could not do them enough justice here to recommend them all.  Krista Moore is an excellent trainer, coach and mentor specific to the OP industry.  There is Dave Kahle and one of my personal favorites is Jeffrey Gitomer.  Gitomer has a great line of books that have simple, actionable points designed to make you think and take action.  If you are serious about your personal sales success then be serious about how to plan to be successful.  You are making an investment in yourself and your time spent is the first place to start.  No excuses, no blaming others.  Your success ultimately depends on you, no one else.  God doesn’t make mistakes and He made a wonderful person in you.  He gave you all the abilities and capabilities you need to be successful.  It’s up to you to use those abilities with determination and wisdom.

The last word: “Great things are accomplished by talented people who believe they will accomplish them.” -Warren G. Bennis

Buying Decisions: What Happens Behind-the-Scenes

Filed Under (OP Sales Training, Suggested Reading) by Don on 06-10-2009

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I spent some time on the phone today with writer, blogger and professional sales trainer & coach Sharon Drew Morgen.  Her new book, Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what to do about it hits the stores October 15th.  Sharon Drew breaks the mold on how we should be selling by thinking about the process from the buyers perspective.  She was gracious to offer us the following guest post for the blog.  I’d like to thank Sharon Drew for her time and I encourage you to purchase her new book early.  Read on and enjoy!

SDMorgan

For some reason, it’s very difficult for sales people to think beyond ‘need’ and ’solution:’  We tend to think that because the buyer’s need matches our solution, and because we’re professionals who ‘care,’  the only thing buyers need to do is choose our solution.

But if it were that easy, buying decisions would get made more often in our favor. We certainly would not lose as many sales as we do. The problem is that the buying decision is so, so much more complex than we can imagine as we stand on the outside looking in.

Sales mysteriously treats an Identified Problem (my word for ‘need’) as if it were an isolated event. But it’s not. There are ramifications to any change, and the ramifications are ones only buyers can see from the inside and we will never be privy to.

WHEN DO BUYERS START FIGURING OUT STUFF?

Buyers don’t start figuring out their behind-the-scenes issues until after we’ve met them, except in cases when buyers call us and buy… in which case they’ve made all of the behind-the-scenes buying decisions before they contacted us and we are just lucky.

We come in at the wrong time, pitching a solution to a small portion of the ultimate Buying Decision Team, and have no tools to help buyers do what they must do first: manage all of the off-line buying decisions that need to happen for them to get buy-in for change.

I have said this over and over: the time it takes buyers to come up with their own answers is the length of the sales cycle. Before they can buy anything they first look into their current teams, partners groups, rules, historic decisions for a simple resolution to a business problem. They come to us by default, and even then end up going back inside (to their old vendors, or the other department heads, or the tech team) to do an internal check on resources before placing an order.

WHAT IS BEHIND THE SCENES?

I’ve fully described the actual steps that happen behind-the-scenes in my new book coming out soon (Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what to do about it). To think about this, let’s start with this question: How did a buyer’s ‘need’ get there? It didn’t arise overnight, and people and policies inside agreed to allow it to happen. So the ‘need’ got created behind-the-scenes.

Not only that, the system and rules and people and policies have allowed it to remain as it is – or they would have changed it already.

Before a buyer will buy or choose any solution at all, they must first figure out and manage the very idiosyncratic and mysterious ramifications of change. What will a solution change internally? How will the people and policies interact differently if/when they decide to resolve an Identified Problem and bring in something… something different that isn’t already there? Obviously, the sales model doesn’t equip us with the tools to help buyers manage these issues, and we cannot do it for them.

And no solution will be purchased if there is any possibility that the client can resolve their problem on their own.

As we think about sales, and wonder how to close more sales, quicker, we must realize that by merely focusing on the solution-placement area, and we do our ’understanding’ – understanding need, understanding the decision making, understanding the requirements, helping buyers understand our the judiciousness of our offering - we are not helping the buyer do the behind-the-scenes work they must accomplish before making a buying decision. That work is private, idiosyncratic, personal, unique, and not open to outsiders. And, unfortunately, buyers don’t know how to do this work easily because it’s new to them. But we can help – with a different set of skills.

 
We can help them by being true servant leaders, true trusted advisors and relationship managers, and guide them through their systemic, off-line, buying decision issues. But it’s not sales. In this time of economic uncertainty, add Buying Facilitation® and differentiate from your competition – and truly help your buyer buy. And, stop selling.
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Strategies to Make You More Marketable

Filed Under (OP Sales Training, Suggested Reading) by Don on 25-03-2008

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Again, my congratulations to Ivana Taylor over at her Strategy Stew blog for another outstanding article. In her post titled “How to Use the Seven Triggers in Your Differentiation Strategy” she outlines the concepts you need to utilize in creating your brand identity and how to use those strategies to be successful in your business. Based upon a book written by Russ Granger entitled “7 Triggers to Yes!” Ivana offers an interesting post on applying the triggers in marketing kits. Today’s office products marketplace is more than just competitive it’s increasingly more difficult to be seen in the market when independent dealers don’t have the huge marketing budgets of our big box competitors. What we do have is our own competitive advantages that when used effectively can far outweigh the price objection we often hear. Let’s look at just three of those triggers today and we will discuss the others in another post.

The Friendship TriggerActivates trust and agreement through bonding.In its simplest terms this means that people buy from people, the relationship is king. The big box stores depend on the transactional relationship. You know what you want, you drive to the store walk in and hopefully will find the product that meets your needs. You receive no personal customer service and no one attempts to show you similar product(s) that may do the job for less money or perform better for the same investment. No one asks you about your project and they don’t care if you buy or if you don’t. You pay for your product and leave the store with limited interaction from the personnel. They don’t know you from Jack or Jill. No relationship whatsoever.

The Consistency TriggerAppeals to motives consistent with past actions. What do you deliver consistently? We deliver next day, our customer service people are trained and knowledgeable, our furniture staff is experienced and well trained, our furniture design services are free, I’m always in your office every two weeks, I’m always looking for ways to save you money with new products and better purchasing ideas, just to name a few. A real person really answers our phones, consistently, no auto-attendants. Think about what you do every day, every week and write down those practices and share them in all your marketing materials and on your web space!

The Reason Why TriggerGives reasons that activate an automatic “yes”. Why should I buy from you? What reasons can you give to do business with you or your dealer? What separates you from the competition? What makes you the better choice? Do you have a top ten list of reasons why I should do business with you? I include such a list in all my prospecting materials, on my company web site and I personally reinforce it in my ‘sales pitch’ when talking to others. I could probably make it a top 20 or even 30 but why spoil all the fun! I’ve got to have something else to personally offer each client to let them know their business is very special and personal to me.

How do you include these concepts in your marketing plans? Did you use a similar thought process to brand your company or yourself? Creating your brand image is easier than you think and it can make a real difference in how you go to market. Thanks Ivana for an inspiring post! Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Stop Acting Like a Seller and Start Thinking Like a Buyer

Filed Under (OP Sales Training, Suggested Reading) by Don on 04-03-2008

Jerry Acuff in his book Stop Acting Like a Seller and Start Thinking Like a Buyer (Wiley, 2007) makes five very good points.  Knowing that people love to buy but hate to be sold, these five rules will help you to have a greater understanding of how your prospect/customer is thinking and help you become a better seller.

Rule 1: You will sell significantly more if you think like a buyer than if you act like a seller.

Rule 2: The success of your business is linked to the desire of your customer/prospect to want to have a conversation with you.

Rule 3: The size of your business is directly affected to your ability to ask a customer/prospect questions that provoke thought and analysis.

Rule 4: A lack of meaningful dialogue is the result of many high-pressure environments that tend to create little exchange of ideas.

Rule 5: A low-pressure environment will create greater dialogue and customer receptivity.

Take a moment and place yourself in the customers position and you will begin to understand the issues that confront them and then you can begin to meet their needs and expectations.

Some Suggested Reading

Filed Under (Suggested Reading) by Don on 03-01-2007

There are so many great books about sales, motivation and public speaking.  If you sell you must read to keep your mind fresh and with ideas or refresh old ones.  Afterall, nothing happens until something is sold!  I’ll start with a few of the ‘must haves’ in my library.  What are some of yours?

-Don

  • The Holy Bible
  • “Selling With Integrity” Sharon Drew Morgan
  • “The Power of Positive Thinking”  Norman Vincent Peale
  • “See You at the Top”  Zig Ziglar
  • “Non-Manipulative Selling”  Tony Alessandra
  • “Swim with the Sharks”  Harvey MacKay
  • “How to Win Friends & Influence People”  Dale Carnegie
  • “GOALS!-How to Get Everything You Want”  Brian Tracy
  • “How to Master the Art of Selling”  Tom Hopkins
  • “Little Red Book of Sales Answers”  Jeffrey Gitomer
  • “Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale”  Zig Ziglar
  • “Negotiation Boot Camp – How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers and Make Better Deals”  Ed Brodow