This week during one of my workouts at Orange Theory, Damien our coach, set the intention of the of the workout. It was perfect because it is in-line with what I have been writing about, being aware. I am going to label it ‘conscious awareness.’ Coach Damian went on to say “be aware of the words that you use when you describe yourself, or you interact with others. When someone asks how you have been, try to respond with how you are feeling instead of starting with the words, I am…”. How you are feeling is a temporary emotion. Using the words, 'I am' conveys more of a permanent state, and when repeated frequently, becomes a part whom you become.
Take for example the following question and the typical answers you may give.
While the question is simple, the way you choose to respond is a result of an autopilot that we have set into place. Do you want to start to build a rapport responding to a simple question like this with a heavy response? I think not. The words you choose and the impact you make should both be taken into consideration while you are attempting to establish a rapport. You need to engage your audience on a positive level.
Often our answers reflect how we are feeling at the time. You may be feeling tired or stressed out, but these feelings are temporary. My challenge to you is to be aware of the automatic responses because they have an impact on your subconscious mind. When you step back, and you become aware of your thoughts and feelings, you start to use a different part of your brain to be aware.
The words you choose during your introduction and initial conversations need to grab attention by letting your audience know what you have to say will benefit them. Do not start your discussions with potentially buzz killing phrases that could have a negative impact on the person. If you want to move your prospect along in the selling cycle and on to the next step of buying your product or service, you need to be positive and optimistic.
When you are developing your talk track or incorporating what marketing has already created for you, it is crucial to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Find words that make you're offering unique; it could be ridiculously simple or something that aggravates a problem. Try to stay away from harsh words or aggressive terms that may once again cause our prospect’s unconscious mind to shut you out before you even get started.
At the bottom of this post is a downloadable list of words and phrases to incorporate into your “rapport building vocabulary”. In my experience, using words such as absolutely, improve and positively make someone smile. Conversely, words like guaranteed, I think, I might or I'll get back to you soon make your prospects eyebrows raise (and maybe even a lip pucker).
My first sales position was in telemarketing. I used to work for RCA, and I sold extended warranties on appliances. Yep, as I write this, it makes me giggle that I made my start over the telephone. I am here to tell you that we can learn selling tips from telemarketers. The online magazine Call Center Helper wrote an article on the “Top 25 Positive Words, Phrases and Empathy Statements” that lead to creating a positive impact.
It is super important to be careful about what goes into your subconscious mind. Research has shown that words and thoughts get stronger by the repetitions. They eventually stick into the subconscious mind and affect the behavior, actions, and reactions of the persons involved. Our subconscious mind works diligently to make these words and thoughts a reality in the life of the person saying or thinking them so be aware. Take action to incorporate positive words in your day to day selling and eliminate the negative vocabulary.
As always, your sales manager should be able to help you with your “sales vocabulary." Alternatively, give me a call if you want to do any role-playing or would like me to help structure a talk track with you. I am here to help.
Good luck and happy selling.
Have you heard this cliché Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail? Do you wander around in your territory aimlessly or sit at your desk with your quota looming over your head because you do not know which qualified leads you are going to call on first? I have been reading posts from different sales groups on LinkedIn. One of the most common questions I have found relates to prospecting. HubSpot research published data that sales representatives feel prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process.
Here's a story you may be able to relate to, you have blocked off the rest of your afternoon to focus on cold calling. You map out your calls based on the most efficient route to get through the prospect list in a particular part of your territory. Google says your journey will take 3 hours of driving (without traffic) you press start directions, and you’re on your way. You get through most of your list, set up a few lunches, said hi to a few receptionists and finish your day feeling successful. You wake up the next day, head to the airport and take off to the next city to repeat the same motions, list, map, drive. You are one of the busiest reps you know, your calendar is, and there is only one problem. You are not making your quota. It’s hard to understand because you are attempting to contact ALL the targets or specialists in that city. What am I doing wrong? Most likely it’s because you do not have a Strategic Prospecting Plan in place. You may have a list of qualified targets and a map, but after that, no strategy.
What method do you use to determine who you should be pursuing and in what order? If you are going to make progress at prospecting, over the telephone or even in person then you had better put together a strategic prospecting plan so that you know where to go and whom to target. Think about it, you can't prospect or cold call with president’s club success, if you don't know who your most important prospects are. Strategic prospecting is a process where you identify, qualify, and prioritize the sales opportunities that you have in your territory.
In a perfect world, you will know your corporate vision and a clear definition of who the target customer is, the company’s “sweet spot.” You need to know everything about your target customer. Your manager should provide input to help make sure you have a solid strategy to ensure your prospecting efforts are fruitful.
I have heard multiple sales representatives state that they feel completely overwhelmed with the size of their territory. They have many targets with a lot of travel and limited time to get to all the prospects in their territory. This feeling of being overwhelmed can quickly become a ticket to failure. If you are not focusing on a specific target list, then you tend to have what I call the "shiny client syndrome", where you're bouncing from target to target. This type of aimless vision results in feelings of frustration. You are frustrated about not closing an account within the first few visits.
My suggestion to you is to focus on a smaller number of segmented targets and become completely obsessed and focused on closing that target list. What you will find is that as you start to experience success, you will be able to translate the success into stories, and the stories will help to demonstrate your credibility. You will have more confidence in yourself as a sales representative, and it will continue to show up repeatedly. The success that you create using this method is repeatable as you move on to the next focused list of prospects. Your target list will narrow because you will be pursuing only the best sales opportunities. We all realize that not all sales opportunities result in a closed deal. You may ask how big or small this list needs to be? Only you can know the answer to that question. The take-home message is to make sure your list can be worked effectively, thoroughly and focused over a specific timeframe that results in closed business that exceeds your quota.
Here's a time management tip for you, there are only 8-9 hours in a workday. Make sure you are using most of those hours focusing on the accounts that have the most significant potential benefit to you and your company. Maximum sales growth is finding the right balance between new business and organic growth from existing customers.
When you spend time segmenting your prospects, it becomes clear where efforts will reap the most reward. You are now becoming more strategic in your planning. No more aimless wandering and the level or your frustration lowers and starts to disappear. There are many different methods you can use to categorize your potential business prospects. I am going to give you a simple way that many of the sales representatives I have managed put into place, ABC segmenting and the 80/20 rule.
ABC market segmentation is a method which allows the classification of different prospects or clients by their profitability or their high growth potential. The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule used to frame our discussion states that 80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of the clients. Through your target segmentation, you will begin to understand which names on your list will be a part of the 20 percent. Figure 1.0 is an example of how the prospect segmentation will align with meeting your quota.
Here’s another time management tip. I have seen representatives get comfortable with one of their newest customers. Let’s say it’s a C customer or prospect and it is close to home. Resist the shiny object. Stay focused on your goal to be an A-Player. If you are not hunting for new business, your time will be better spent on another revenue producing activity or learning a new skill. Keep working the strategic prospecting plan.
Selling is a complex process. Strategic prospecting is just one spoke of the selling cycle. We haven’t even begun to talk about the other areas that require your time and energy, areas like pre-call planning, building rapport, strategy and execution, negotiation, follow-up, etc. Committing to becoming an A-Player and proactively planning to win must start with step one, knowing who is going on your target list. You need to have more than a list and a map, you need a successful, repeatable strategy.
Good luck and happy selling.
This week in my travels, I had the pleasure to meet with two medical assistants in one of my meetings. As I was delivering a technical update to both ladies, I noticed something colorful sitting alone in the corner of the room. What could have been their office mascot, turned out to be a unicorn pinata. It made me smile and I asked if they could tell me a little bit about the story of how this adorable unicorn came to hold such an honored spot in their office. It turns out, a sales representative recently brought it to them with lunch. One of the medical assistants went on to say, “he used to bring the same lunch to me all the time and when he asked what I would like for our next meeting, I asked him if he could change it up a little bit and bring in something different?” He agreed, and on his next visit he brought in Mexican food and with it, the awesome pinata. She then said with a smile, “it even has candy in it.”
There were no other items that were apparent in this medical assistant’s workspace. The mere fact that this unique object was out in the open for her to see and to retell the story to inquisitive minds like mine, tells me that it created a lasting impression with her.
The medical assistants had no idea that they were feeding my marketing brain with content. As I looked over at the unicorn, I thought to myself, “I have stumbled upon a sales unicorn, and I’m not talking about the pinata.” I want to congratulate this unicorn representative for taking a step to differentiate himself from the plethora of other sales representatives that this medical assistant meets on a day-to-day basis. Being creative doesn’t require much energy, but it does take thought and action.
Do you think, our medical assistant in the example above felt the sales representative was creative? Absolutely. My question to you is, what creativity do you use daily to become a sales unicorn?
In the context of sales, I would describe creativity as ‘bringing new ideas and actions into your daily sales activities.’ One of the questions I often ask when I interview a potential sales representative is “describe what creative selling techniques you have used in the past.” The answers give insight to let me know if the candidates can think out of the box. Using creativity to connect with your prospects and clients is essential. Combining creativity with information that your new contact tells you about themselves makes them feel heard.
In the medical industry, competition is fierce. Sales representatives continue to look for differentiators in commoditized markets. In my opinion, sales managers need to encourage creativity to drive sales and to use this creative approach to outperform the competition. Data shows that the quality of leadership-representative interactions can influence the extent to which creativity results in actual sales. Sales managers need to listen, discuss and help to develop the creative ideas that their direct reports bring to the table.
In my management experience, creative representatives are more successful than their counterparts. You don’t have to be an art major or scrapbooker to be creative. Use your resources wisely to find interesting tidbits of information to create novel ideas. Stay abreast of your industry by reading journals, follow your targets on LinkedIn and attend industry meetings and trade shows. Armed with information, you will be able to take a problem-solving approach to your selling and successfully incorporate creativity daily to become a sales unicorn.
Create raving fans and enjoy the approach to your sales day. If you are having a hard time collaborating with your sales manager, give me a call, and we can create together!