Sales Reading Materials

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Here are (7) seven vital strategies for setting and achieving your sales goals.

1. Get Rid of Old Goals. It's very tempting to recycle the same old goals, especially ones you haven't reached. Let go of the recycled goals you've had for several years, because they become like a ball and chain, holding you back. These goals might be unrealistic to begin with, like saying you will achieve 1 million in sales when you have never surpassed 100,000 in your life. Or they might be goals you have inherited from a boss or colleague that are not right for you personally, causing you to consciously or subconsciously resist them.

2. Set a Manageable Number of Goals. A resolution is defined as the process of reducing to simpler form. "That brings us to the paradox of resolution, Instead of simplifying our lives; we wind up dumping more tasks, goals, or projects on our to-do list thinking that our lives will be more fulfilling and successful in the new year. What we are left with, though, is the sense of being overwhelmed. Typically set no more than five goals each year just to keep things simple and focus your energies.

3. Clearly Define Your Goals.
It's great that you want to make more Sales and be more successful this year, but the problem is there is nothing specific behind those goals. Establish a set of daily, weekly, and monthly benchmarks that help you measure and manage your ultimate goal, For instance, if you have a sales target of 1 million, don't focus on the actual amount, but rather on the activities that will help you reach that mark. Identify and measure several key success indicators, such as the number of follow-up appointments you've made this week or the number of networking events you've attended, as a way of knowing where you are right now and where you need to go.

4. Establish an Effective Routine. Let the daily actions you take toward achieving your goals be the reward, not just the end result. This will allow you to actually enjoy the journey and not just obsess about the future. Design a weekly routine that complements your goals so you can focus on the activities that support your objectives and enhance your lifestyle. A well-planned routine will keep you focused, eliminate distractions, reduce stress, and enable you to manage the daily tasks that will bring you to your goals.

5. Make Your Goals Public. When you share your goals with others, you become more vested in their outcome and ultimate success. "We break commitments to ourselves all the time, but once we inform friends, family, and colleagues of our goals, the stakes are instantly raised. You're less likely to back away from your goals without giving it a lot of thought and reasoning first. What's more, by trusting others with your goals, you acquire a support group that can spur you on to success.

6. Don't Set Goals Longer than a Year. It's all too easy to lose momentum if your goals exceed a year. As humans, we tend to lose interest in things that are too far in the future. Life moves exceedingly fast, and we need to be equally responsive. When we set our goals, we have all the intention in the world of following through with them, but life gets in the way and things change very quickly. You can overcome this by setting concrete, focused goals each year and building a set of daily actions that allows you to achieve them.

7. Alter Your Goals When Necessary. Don't hesitate to reassess your goals on a quarterly basis. That should give you enough time to gauge whether the desired results are showing up, and help you avoid frustration and constantly second-guessing yourself. Think of your goals as if they were a sail of a boat. You can alter the course while still heading in the same general direction. For example, if your goal is to set up ten face-to-face meetings each month, but you are only getting eight meetings that might be okay if it turns out you are closing a higher number of deals than anticipated.

Closing the Sales

Empathy is an intimate understanding of the feelings, thoughts, and motives of another. That's why empathy is of prime importance in professional selling. Empathy is putting yourself into the prospect's shoes. It's knowing and feeling what your prospect is feeling. It's knowing exactly how to proceed depending on the information the prospect has given you.
Until you develop empathy for your customers, until you develop the skill of calling for and getting a favorable agreement that sales people call consummation, you probably won't make it in selling. The customer should sense that you understand and care about helping them solve their problems, not that you are just looking for a sale.
As a professional salesperson, you must truly believe that you can satisfy the prospect's needs. You must see the benefits, features, and limitations of your product or service from your prospect's view; you must weigh things on the prospect's scale of values, not your own; you must realize what is important to the prospect. Your prospect must always be the star of the show.
Focusing on your prospect enables you to answer the crucial question in any selling situation: When should you consummate the sale?

Watch for signs that a deal is near

There's a certain electricity in the air when the prospect is ready to go ahead, but here are some positive buying signs to watch for:
• The prospects have been moving along at a smooth pace, and suddenly they slow the pace way down. They're making their final analysis or rationalizing the decision.
• They speed up the pace. They're excited to move ahead.
• Suddenly, they start asking lots of questions. Like anyone else, they ask questions only about things that interest them.
• They ask questions about general terms of purchase before they settle on one particular model. Some people immediately start asking questions about initial investment, delivery, and so on. They feel safe doing this because they know you can't sell them everything. If they ask these questions after you know exactly what they want, it's positive stimulus.

Go for a test consummation after you get positive stimulus. If you think that your customers are ready to consummate the sale, try a test question to make sure you are reading the stimulus correctly. As you get more experience in selling, you will become more proficient at reading body language and other buying signals. This skill can be good and bad for you.

Don't short-change the process

Some people start relying so much on positive readings that they short cut other vital steps such as qualifying or demonstration. When you shortchange the overall selling cycle, it's hard to go back and restore the steps you skipped. Invariably, shortcutting steps causes you to lose many sales. Although it is important to become better at knowing when to consummate the sale, each prospect should get your full presentation to make sure you don't come up short at the end.

When you ask a question from which you expect an answer confirming that the prospect wants to go ahead with the purchase, you want one of two things to happen:

• The prospect gives you a yes or an answer that indirectly confirms their desire to go ahead with the sale.
• The prospect gives you an objection or asks for more information to enable them to make a decision.

If you start talking before the prospect answers, you lose control of the negotiations. And you gain nothing. You have neither a confirmation to go ahead nor an objection; you wasted your attempt to consummate the sale.
Would you like delivery on the 15th or the 30th? They pause to think when would be the best time to have the product delivered. You get uncomfortable with the silence and think, They must be thinking they don't want it. Then you panic and say, Okay, how about if I give you another 5% off? — when the total investment wasn't what the prospect was considering in the first place. That's why you always wait for them to respond before you speak, after asking your consummation question, and why it is so important to keep quiet after you ask your final consummation question. If you have a big mouth, this would be the time to put your foot in it — literally — to keep yourself quiet.

If you start looking around or fidgeting, you distract the customer and let them know how uncomfortable you are. Neither of these scenarios helps you move toward a successful consummation. Try to focus your stress in a way that they will not see or recognize it as a nervous action. For example, recite the ABCs backward to yourself, or wiggle your toes — they can't see that, either. Your stress-release can be that simple.

Three Common Closing Mistakes

Successful entrepreneurs are often natural at sales. But closing a tough sale requires more than a winning personality. As any sales veteran will tell you, closing can be tricky, and there are many places where a false move can delay or derail a sale. You can boost your odds of completing the deal simply by avoiding these three classic closing mistakes:

1. Not asking for the business. This is by far the most common mistake in sales. You would think it would be obvious: Either you ask for the business or you don’t. But asking for business is more of an art than a science. Good, clear questions lead to successful closes but are often confused with requests for opinion and ambiguous queries, which do little more than lead to other questions. Rely on these classic closing techniques to help cut to the chase:

• Summarize all the things the prospect said they want from a product or service. Use the notes you’ve collected throughout the sales process to show how buying from you satisfies these needs.

• Highlight the extra benefits that your prospect will receive with your company’s product or service.

• Paint a positive emotional picture of how the prospect will feel when they use your product or service.
o Show that the product is within the prospect’s budget. If the price is a bit lower than expected, get them excited about it.

5. Ignoring the prospect's signals. Selling is more about listening than it is about talking. Your prospect may be ready to buy and you could be too busy talking to notice. After you’ve asked closing questions, stop talking. Let the prospect answer. It’s tempting to keep selling when you should be listening, but you’ll do a lot better if you learn to stop when you’ve said enough.
6. Becoming jaded. Attitude is everything in sales. Don’t let past experience negatively affect your closing techniques. And don’t let your successes cloud the circumstances of the current situation. Getting too caught up in the success or failure of each interaction can also be a problem. The best salespeople treat each new prospect as if they were the first and most exciting customer in town.

Top 10 Sales Mistakes

Every sales person, regardless of the industry, product, or skill level, makes mistakes. Here are some basic sales mistakes to avoid and some tips for selling more and having happier customers.

1. Not listening. Do not just listen to what the customer is asking for; look past that to find out what they need. Too often salespeople sing the praises of a product without hearing what the customer wants. You cannot sell to someone if you do not know what they want. Listen to your customers, identify the need, and fill it.

2. Overselling. A nonstop sales pitch leaves your potential customer with no room to make an intelligent decision. There is a fine line between being a good salesperson and being pushy or obnoxious. Know when to stop selling.

3. Being unprepared. Whether you are making a sale in a showroom, a board room, or on the phone, you need to know the details about what you are selling and be able to answer all pertinent questions. Be prepared. If you are prospecting for new business, know what you are going to say and be ready for questions you may be asked.

4. Jumping straight to the sale. In any type of sales business, you need to establish a relationship. Even on the Web you need to have landing pages to provide information about your products or services before jumping to the shopping cart. Do not rush to the sale. Take the time to educate your customers, and they will reward you with sales.

5. Not closing the sale. This is the flipside of the mistake above. Once you have provided your customer with the information he or she needs, ask if the customer is ready to make a purchase. It may seem unnecessary, but sometimes asking for the sale can be the nudge your customer needs to make a final decision.

6. Going off topic. Some salespeople overdo the need for a “relationship” with excessive chatter. Others continue to talk about the product or service, but spend an inordinate amount of time on irrelevant information. While you do want to build a relationship and make your customer comfortable, the goal is to make the sale. If the sale is the topic, don’t veer too far off on tangents.

7. Not researching your customer. If you are trying to sell to a specific client at a meeting, you need to know what he or she is all about. Do some research before the sales meeting and get a good idea of the prospect's likes, dislikes, interests, and manner of doing business. The same holds true for consumers. Get to know who makes up your target audience.

8. Judging books by their covers. Salespeople routinely miss sales because they prejudge their customers. Do not let race, creed, gender, ethnicity, or appearance stand in the way of making a sale.

9. Not following up on leads. Just because someone does not buy immediately does not mean they will not be interested later -- particularly if they requested information. Follow-up is a critical aspect of sales that is often neglected.

10. Failing to prospect for new customers. Even when sales are at their peak, you need to devote time to looking for more customers. No company can survive without a constant influx of new customers, so no business can afford not to prospect for them.

Overcoming "not now" sales objections.

Putting off the purchase of a suggested item is probably the most frequent delaying action taken by any customer that the salesperson meets in the day's work. Experts say people have a built-in "no" to most suggestions offered them. When the customer says, "not now maybe later," the salesperson knows he/she has found an interested customer - but still one not buying.

Far too many salespeople let this objection to buying terminate immediate sales efforts. The sales personnel with the big incomes from selling never do. They have found it one of the surest indicators to a possible sale which just a little more immediate effort can produce. How do these people handle this sales objection? Here are the most widely used methods that are easiest to adapt to any day-to-day sales situation:
Make sure he is sincere and is not stalling to keep from saying, "yes." Usually, the customer who has no intention of buying gives another objection. This is the rejoinder of the individual who can think of no other legitimate reason for not buying.

Occasionally, the salesperson will find the individual who honestly means what he says. But the vast majority are those who present this objection as part of the give and take involved in buying and selling.

Condition or Situation
Keep a mental record on each objection concerning a major item. Jot down the data that you may contact this customer again soon. There may be some particular condition or situation the customer does not want to reveal at the time when he presents this objection. It probably has a personal element that actually is no business of the salesperson.

Pin him to a definite "when." No customer uttering the "not now" objection should ever be allowed to get away without stating when "later" will be. This makes it possible for the salesperson to contact the customer to resume the sales effort at that particular time and impossible for the customer to once again use the same objection since he has already committed himself.

Experienced salespeople also advise that once such a customer has given a definite answer to the time, the sales effort should be pursued until the sale is made.

Point out that "later" may be too late - mention increases in cost, possible unavailability or any other condition which may fit the situation.

Pin him to a definite "when." No customer uttering the "not now" objection should ever be allowed to get away without stating when "later" will be. This makes it possible for the salesperson to contact the customer to resume the sales effort at that particular time and impossible for the customer to once again use the same objection since he has already committed himself.

Experienced salespeople also advise that once such a customer has given a definite answer to the time, the sales effort should be pursued until the sale is made.

Point out that "later" may be too late - mention increases in cost, possible unavailability or any other condition which may fit the situation.

These are never difficult to pinpoint for they should be part of every salesperson's selling armor. Using them on this type of customer is a must. It is one of the most convincing arguments that can be offered the individual who has great difficulty making up his mind to say "yes."

"Think what you will be missing in the meantime” is another potent argument to the "not now - maybe later" objection. Presented convincingly enough, such arguments can overcome that objection speedily.

People buy to benefit themselves. Playing up this aspect as it fits each individual situation can make the customer see that no objection he may have to making the purchase today will justify missing what the postponement would deprive him of in the immediate future.

Why be the last to own this?" That is the idea to use; the words to express it must be tailored to fit the nature and temperament of each individual. It takes advantage of another well-known fact about all of us, i.e., we like to be among the first to own something. Status and prestige have become almost fixed symbols in American life today.

Dangers Involved
The dangers involved in putting off the purchase. These can be real or imaginary. The more of the former and the fewer of the latter used, the better. Few customers stop to think of this aspect in making a purchase. It is something about which the salesperson must remind them under any situation where it is applicable.
Being without the product may risk creation of other costs in the customer's daily life. The fact that he wishes to use his money for something else at the moment is often the reason for giving this particular sales objection. Usually that desire has no element of immediate emergency, so it can be put off just as easily as the purchase one is suggesting at the time. However, this is something the customer must be told of convincingly.
All of the foregoing methods of handling the "not now maybe later" objection can be employed by any salesperson wherever it arises, to make a sale which otherwise would never have been made then or in the future.

Follow up old leads

Before re-establishing contact, spend some time evaluating the history of the account. Chances are, there were things you missed during your initial interaction that cost you the sale. Uncovering the areas that you needs to strengthen, realigning your thinking, and developing a unique strategy will enable you to generate the results that you seek.

1. Determine why they really didn't buy.
This is best done immediately after you are turned down, but it's also a good way to get back in front of someone. The key is to get your prospects to speak with you openly. This can be difficult, since many prospects feel the need to disguise the truth in order to avoid "hurting your feelings." Instead, they use generic reasoning, citing the price, a desire to remain with the current vender, a lack of available budget, or bad timing.

2. Do your homework.
It isn't enough to simply understand the problem and provide a solution. Anticipate your prospect’s future needs. Where do they rank within their respective industries and how does that compare to past years? What changes are expected for their industries? Will the economy or technology have an effect on their businesses? What are some of the problems they will face this year? How will using your product or service help alleviate these issues? Read up on press releases, annual reports, or articles on the prospective company. If you want to create a new purchasing opportunity, determine your prospects’ current as well as future needs — needs that your prospects may not even be able to identify themselves.

3. Get their attention.
What is the prospect’s primary motivation to listen to you another time? Determine a particular advantage that your product will provide to them. In order to stimulate the prospect’s attention, call or send a short and concise letter or e-mail and describe the specific problems that can be solved in using your product or service. Be creative. There are probably dozens of features you could promote. It is up to you to uncover the one that would motivate each prospect to speak to you again. After developing new strategies and ideas for a particular prospect, reopen the conversation by addressing how your product or service complements and enhances what they’re currently doing or defuses their challenges.

4. Become more than simply a salesperson — become a resource.
When following up, stay away from calling with the intention to see if they’ve received your information or to “check in” to ask if they have any immediate needs for your product/service. Take some extra time and weave in a compelling reason for your call. How can you deliver value to them? Is there something timely that you can share with them about your product/service or about their industry? Is there something applicable and newsworthy that you can discuss? Do you have a client success story that you can share?
Determine how you can contribute to the growth of a prospect’s business beyond your product or service. It could be by supplying them with a free newsletter, educational seminar, or a better service plan; you could connect them with others in your circle of influence who can contribute to the success of their business. Create a contest amongst your staff to develop ideas that will add value to your product and services without increasing your prices or fees. More service and value at a perceived lower price creates new interest. To add value to your product or service at no additional cost to the customer exceeds their expectations.

5. Stop selling service and start selling measurable results.
Feature and benefit selling is a dying strategy. Most companies are no longer in the business of selling services, but of providing solutions. In order to provide a solution, you must first understand the problem. Prospects are more interested in the end result or advantage of your service than in what your product does. It can be greater productivity, lower overhead, monetary savings, or an increase in their quality of life. What problems are solved by your product or service? What end result or value will they experience from what you are offering?