The Hidden Costs of Poor Customer Service

Whether you are the CEO, the receptionist or the guard at the gate, customer interaction is an inevitable part of our day. While the pundits stress that any interaction with a customer is a service touch point, the reality is far from it. Receptionists are not always friendly and most guards couldn’t care less.

service

People want to talk to real people that can help!

We are all aware of the pitfalls of poor customer service, but what are the real costs to a business?  Research shows that bad customer service costs companies $338.5 billion a year, globally. But before we dive into the building blocks of bad customer service. Let’s look at the flipside – what qualifies as good customer service?

The fundamental requirement to providing good customer service is “Knowing Your Customer”. KYC is the cornerstone of any long-term client relationship. If you know your customer – you can provide personalized service and you can provide the service in a manner that is convenient to them.

If you know your customer, and the customer touch points and your employees are competent and responsive – that’s good customer service.

Unfortunately, as a survey suggests, most companies that think they provide good customer service, don’t … in the eyes of the customer.

So why do so many companies fail at providing good customer service and what are the hidden costs of poor customer service?

 

  1. One of the biggest pitfalls of poor customer service is that most dissatisfied customers don’t complain. You generally hear from only 4% of unsatisfied customers.  As for the rest, they simply find somewhere else to go.
  2. Poor customer service also leads to loss of business – the opportunity cost of this is immeasurable. There is no magic formula that can calculate the dollar amount that you have lost to potential customers.
  3. Word gets around. Today with social media word gets around at the speed of light. This leads to a bad reputation. Your partners and affiliates may back out due to this. Take the recent Ryan Lochte Olympics robbery debacle – four of his sponsors dropped him overnight as it was affecting their brand values and integrity.
  4. Hiring top talent will prove to be challenging. Individuals are brands in their own right. They will never associate themselves with companies that have a reputation of providing poor customer service. Which means the competency required to provide good customer service is no longer available to you.

Let’s look at some numbers associated with poor customer service:

 

  1. 67% will never use your services again after a bad experience
  2. 49% will not recommend you to friends and family
  3. 34% will share a review online or on social media

 

With point #1 and #2 the fallout isn’t that great. Point #3 is the worst-case scenario, where if the review states your service is poor, this could have a colossal ripple effect on your business for months, if not years. As you know, once something is published in cyberspace, it is ridiculously difficult to erase.

 

You might think that your product is so unique that customers have no choice but to come to you. Wrong! Customers rarely remember the product; they remember the service they received when buying the product.  Their positive or negative experience reflects on what and who you are as a business.

 

In Dubai for example, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s Prime Minister and Emir of Dubai recently announced that his new cabinet included its first “Minister of State for Happiness”. Why do you think this is?

 

Dubai is one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the planet, with access to world-class infrastructure and facilities. Why should the government care about the happiness index of people? The government understands that they are not selling facilities, goods or services, they are selling experiences. The ultimate goal of any experience is happiness. If Dubai is to retain the people who move there, then they need to make them happy and keep them happy.

 

Would you spend money on something that makes you unhappy? Then why should your customers? The cornerstone to happy customers and customer retention is obviously good customer service.

 

How do you recover from bad customer service?

 

Whilst we can all agree that technology has made our lives easier, it has also automated many of our daily human interactions – this includes customer service.  More and more customers are demanding live interaction.  You can recover by providing more hands on service, by interacting with your customers via their preferred channels and by providing better content.  These are easier said that done, but over a period of time, they have a positive impact on your bottom line and keep your customers happy J.

In the 1970’s Albert Mehrabian published a book on non-verbal communication called Silent Messages. In it he discussed the findings of 2 studies based on the ability to communicate one word, namely ‘maybe’. In the first study he found that people were able to tell if this word was being said in a neutral, liking or disliking way 55% more easily if they were shown a photo of the person’s expression when saying ‘maybe’.  In the second study they were asked to identify the emotion based on the tone of how a set of words was said. People were shown to be influenced by the tone more than the actual word itself. This research led to the 7% or 93% ‘rule’ that 7% of communication is verbal and 93% is non-verbal.

 

non verbal communication

Is this ‘rule’ valid?

Of course this study done in isolation seems ludicrous to base a rule on but yet in popular culture this is exactly what has happened.

Fast forward a few decades, what is our current understanding of the influence of non-verbal communication and how can this help us for example to become more persuasive during presentations, improve rapport building during a sales visit or just simply grow personal relationships?

Non-verbal communication is a complex set of gestures, voice tone and speed, facial expressions, posture, proxemics and even physiological changes which contribute greatly to how words are interpreted. Indeed at times non-verbal communication can be so distracting that we fail to listen to the words as it becomes more imperative to interpret them quickly.

Much of our non-verbal communication skills are learnt from infancy and can be gender and culturally based. You only have to watch the body language of two very different cultures Japan and Italy to recognise this- although there are also non-verbal consistencies between cultures. That being said as we are now increasingly global in our outlook, cross cultural communication skills, providing we are open to learning become more normal to us.

One stark example is standing in lines. The British and Americans stand in lines; generally speaking it is culturally the done thing. We don’t get too close either (proxemics). If you have queued up for tickets anywhere in Morocco or even France you may notice the opposite, a crowd of people at the counter, all extremely  able to jostle into position and think nothing of reserving positions for friends.

So how can you use knowledge of non-verbal communication to help build rapport even in a different culture?

  1. Ensure you have a confident voice full of belief in what you are saying.
  2. Make sure your hand gestures are relaxed, slow and deliberate.
  3. Match your facial expression to your words. If you are ‘pleased to meet someone’ show this on your face. Leave your distractions at home and focus on the now.
  4. Keep confident body posture that is neutral, non-threatening and open and always ensure you are not invasive of personal space.
  5. Maintain a reasonable amount of eye contact (60% or so of the time), too much is threatening and too little is suspect.

This June, ISM Training will be delivering a series of short courses  in Dubai, including one on the 93% rule. To learn all about building rapport through non-verbal communications, please  call 04 4573814 or email [email protected].

Positive thinking. These words are actually a little bit foreign to me. Whether it is my British background, my inner scientist or I am just a real Grinch, optimism is not my normal state. What about yourself, are you a positive thinker? There are available a whole raft of online tests to analyse your position, including those of Pennsylvania University.

Mr Happy

Stamp out negative thoughts and be more optimistic!

Depending on whom you ask, optimism as a state of being is associated with longevity, better mental processing and physiological health, as well as increased success in the workplace. Importantly, findings suggest that optimists have stronger coping strategies and are more likely to have better outcomes when faced with adversity or stress. Optimists are more likely than pessimists to achieve their goals.
So perhaps we should all be looking inwards, identifying areas for change within ourselves and practicing positive thoughts. After all, who wouldn’t want to lessen the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease or be better thought of by our peers and work colleagues?
Dr. Martin Seligman, a well-known psychologist in the field of positive thinking cautions against assuming that this is a pseudoscience and belongs in the realms of highly marketable self-help books. It is a Science with real aims and factual real and continuing studies attached to it. In fact should you wish to attend the inaugural conference headlined by Dr. Seligman amongst other notable psychologists, it will be held in Texas this July.
The field of positive psychology aims are that psychology should be:-
• As concerned with strengths as with weaknesses
• As concerned with building strength as repairing weaknesses
• As concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and nurturing high talent as with healing
Dr. Martin believes that you can permanently change a pessimistic outlook into a positive one through the practice of looking differently at how you view and interpret events around you. He classifies three different groups of happy people.
1. The Pleasant Life
Happy people look like this: they have a wide social circle and are in a romantic relationship (that’s the glossy version). What makes them happy people, is positive emotions. This kind of happiness can suffer from overexposure and is somewhat thrill seeking when we cease to be satisfied by the ordinary.
2. The Good Life
You can be extremely happy and not be in a relationship however. If you have experienced ‘flow’ during work it is when you have been perfectly challenged by a task, it’s intrinsically rewarding and you feel an intense sense of accomplishment. Ideally we should gravitate towards projects where we can express our key strengths and experience this sense of flow, where time flies and we don’t feel anything. If at work we are unsatisfied in a mundane job we can recraft it to include a key strength where we can flow more, we just need to be creative. These are happy people Mark 2.
3. The Meaningful Life
The third group of happy people know their strengths and use them in the meaningful service of something larger than themselves, e.g. charitable good deeds.
Are we therefore able to intervene in each of these happy lives and deepen the positivity? One quick example is how to intervene in Happy Life 1 by learning to be more mindful of the present moment and how we gain pleasure from events and situations, whether it is better to be philanthropic or lead a life of hedonistic fun. To begin to explore and use our strengths and recognise them in others.
We do live in unsettled times with uncertain futures and economies so we have to be adaptable and be able to rebound from setbacks. We need to be able to flourish in all aspects of our life, developing positive relationships, deeper meaning to our lives and being better engaged in the workplace. If we apply the tenants of positive thinking to business and build on our individual strengths and focus attention on well-being, what might be possible? ‘Learned Optimism’ is a path to sustained well-being and can benefit all areas of your life, not just your work environment.
When you know a bit more about the Science of Positive Thinking, you can start moving towards using some rational thinking exercises and mind tools as well as identifying your negative triggers. I have discovered I just might be happy after all, just not in the conventional sense.
ISM’s John Hill will be running a ‘Power of Positive Thinking’ Workshop during our Summer Short Courses week from June 26th to June 30th, Dubai. Get in touch if you would like to know more. Pessimists are encouraged to apply.

For years, BANT (Budget – Authority – Need – Time) has been a sales qualification framework for lead generation, which is now a mantra to any salesperson. However, clients are much more informed than ever before.

Therefore, understanding and factoring different buyer types is quite significant to the sales process. The Eisenberg Buyer Modality, by Bryan Eisenberg, gives an insight to how buyers approach purchase decisions and their behavioural habits during a purchase.

The Buying Modalities

The Eisenburg Modalities

Source: The Eisenberg Buyer Modality

If the buyer remains true to their modality, salespeople have a competitive edge to customize their sales approach to better connect and face objections effectively.

However, the frustration comes about when you hear objections which are typical knee-jerk reactions from busy people who don’t yet see the value in working with you. Here are five of the most common sales objections many teams encounter and a few means to get around them:

  1. Price

‘Your services cost too much. I can get the same service from someone cheaper.’

Perhaps the ‘mother’ of all sales objections, the price-based excuse for avoidance is one that all sales persons—from rank amateurs to gurus—face on a frequent basis. More often than not, denizens of the commercial landscape are embroiled in budgetary warfare with a spectrum of internal and external stakeholders that render bottom-line concerns the biggest impediment for successful lead conversion. In this respect, the sales person is required to confidently pace the prospective client through the monetary constraints facing each sale, whilst ensuring all aspects of cost are justified with factual value statements.

In some cases, the price of your product or service may tread beyond standard prices in the market, and when it does, it is imperative that valid reasons behind such variations are brought to the fore. More often than not, premium pricing schemes are accompanied by a unique selling proposition that a client would not be able to substitute from any other provider (and something which a potential competitor would not readily be able to emulate). In addition, create emphasis on how much he or she could save and the value for money factor. It is pivotal that you as a sales person understand the overall prescription of the product or service that you intend on selling, whilst educating yourself on the hues and contours that render you a true ambassador of your sale.

  1. Fear of Change

‘I don’t want to change the way I have been doing things for 15 years. Too much can go wrong. ‘

Change! The bane of the comfortable-as-is and boon for the enterprising! The inadvertent harbinger of success or failure in spite of preparation and forethought! To change is to question the status quo and take decisive measures to alter the way things are and the way things are done. For these reasons—and many others—change is usually perceived as a daunting endeavor that is enshrouded by uncertainty and pivoted out of the usual line-of-sight.

The unwillingness to change is a frequent reason fronting most instances of indifference given to opportunities ‘to change’ and thereby, to improve, the existing state of affairs. If you intend on being a trailblazing salesperson, you must be able to drill through the thick armor of uncertainty, or doubt, of fear, that constricts the decision-making of potential clients.

Make it less fearful for clients by demonstrating past examples of change; show how potential customers have adapted to those changes for the better; advocate progress.  Remember, client testimonials are a great way to highlight the capability of your proposition.

  1. Trust

‘Seems like you know what you are doing, but how do I know you really have the necessary experience to do this.’

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships”, quotes Stephen Covey — a veteran businessman, educator, and keynote speaker.

Trust takes times to build and as such should be nurtured with equal parts of honesty, transparency, and consistency in approach. Engage your prospect with a touch of personalization, do not withhold any information, and be forthcoming to share resources that strengthen your pitch (i.e. case studies and customer references). Such actions will help to take away some of the uncertainty and build client confidence and a good rapport.

  1. Timing

‘It’s too much for me to take on right now. I’m too busy – call me again in 6 months.’

A familiar sales objection and a common safety net that prevents a full-on leap into action by a prospect, wrong timing is an excuse that has the potential of knocking any deal out of momentum. If lack of time is cited as an issue by the prospect, chances are it will still be an issue in the ensuing quarter, six-month period, or year. Whilst it is imperative that you value and respect your clients’ busy schedule and commitments, there are a few tidbits of counter-strategies that can prove to be useful in swaying their interest to your benefit.

One of the most time-tested methods is to politely request a very brief meeting; it may be through a Skype-call, a phone call, or a visit. It is always prudent to maintain sales literature at your disposal that you can share with the prospect, and always ensure that it is personalized to their cause. A little gesture of personalization on your part will do wonders in convincing the most dissident of clients. Do be assertive and take initiative, but with ample respect. Start by listing all of the benefits in working with you and how easy it is to get started. Make the decision to hire you a ‘no brainer’ or simply an easy one and you will remove this objection.

  1. Authority

‘I have to speak to my boss about this before deciding.’

Authority comes into play when a third party is involved in the decision-making process. In such a situation, the power paradigm is shifted away from your prospect and encompasses the views of a wider audience (e.g. a boss, family member or mentor). In response to this, you would be best served to find out the needs, concerns, and fears of the collective decision makers and design a compelling offering that instigates a ‘yes’.

Sales Generation Funnel

The sales lead generation funnel

Source: Lead Generation Model

Reasons to Object

To soften the effect (objection) of an impact from a prospective client on your sales approach, there are ways to block that punch and still make the sale.

The responses to the common objections will give you a way to pierce through the reactions. The key is to understand what is stopping your prospective client from making a decision in your favour. Therefore, as a salesperson it is imperative to analyze and discover some of the underlying reasons:

  • Addressing the wrong buyer modality. This occurs when the salesperson has a different temperament and sells to the wrong buyer modality. For an example, instead of approaching a ‘Spontaneous Buyer Modality’ with a time-sensitive offer, the salesperson uses client testimonials and statistics to make the sale.
  • BANT related problem. This could be due to more important current issues that take precedence over your solution, budget allocation is over the limit, communication barrier with the real decision maker etc.
  • The customer truly isn’t interested. Try to determine what your potential client is really concerned about. Get as clear as you can on the reason to object or indecisiveness. But, always remember not to push past the prospect’s point of comfort because there comes a certain point where ‘no’ means ‘NO’.

To Recovery

Robert Clay — founder of Marketing Wizdom — reports that 92% of salespeople give up after four rejections and 44% give up after the first ‘no’. This is a very powerful statistic for any sales team to improve on effective sales management and performance. If you are persistent salesperson, this is good news on a bad day. Here’s why:

  • Most of the competition is out of the game
  • Helps to understand and learn from sales objections
  • Equip with professional selling skills
  • Opportunity for coaching sessions to run through few mock calls
  • Provide training to handle objections and solidify their messaging

Once you understand the buyer modalities, it will be easier to draw an accurate picture of how buyers are activated. The value addition lies in behavioural patterns of the buyer, not simply in character traits. The better you can anticipate your prospect’s objectives, the better you respond to sales objections and tailor-make your approach for lead generation.

Addressing common sales objections will help you to either close the deal or disqualify the lead from being a sure fit. Although you find it loathing to remove prospects and shrink your sales pipeline, on a positive note you are salvaging valuable time—which can be invested in more amiable sources. It is far better to spend time on a handful of your best prospects than spreading yourself thin across dozens of leads.

When the topic of emotional intelligence comes up in conversations with people in  Dubai business, it quickly becomes clear that many people are still unclear as to what it actually is! There is a fair amount of confusion around it, how can it be quantified and how to actually develop it.

It might be easier to highlight what a lack of emotional intelligence looks like. I am sure we have all, at one time or another, come across those bosses and managers who seem distracted, make decisions without taking into account how they affect other people and without clear communication, lose the plot if things aren’t done the right way, and create an atmosphere of trepidation and anxiety around them.

It is not difficult to see that a workplace characterised by this type of environment is going to struggle with morale, motivation and job satisfaction. The result of this directly affects financial performance – manifested as absenteeism, lack of co-operation with fellow workers and a lack of discretionary effort on behalf of employees, meaning that company goals are not met. That is what an absence of emotional intelligence looks like and how it affects work environments.

In a piece of research done by the Conference Board of New York in 2009, the findings indicated that how people perform at work is directly affected by how they feel about their work – and primarily how they feel about their relationship with their boss and their co-workers. This report is quoted in a book by Mark C Crowley, entitled ‘Lead from the Heart’. Mark Crowley decided to map the results of Fortunes Magazine’s’ ‘Best Places to Work’ onto the financial performance of those companies and, guess what, he discovered that the companies where people are happy outperform peer firms financially by 4%, which in real terms is a staggering amount, considering that high performing hedge funds that beat the street by just 2% are considered superstars. (P33 Lead from the Heart, M. Crowley 2011 Balboa Press).

In another study conducted by PepsiCo, they found that leaders who scored high in emotionally intelligent behaviours outperformed their peers, delivering a 10% increase in productivity, an 87% decrease in executive turnover, $3.75m added economic value and over 1000% return on investment.

EQi-2.0-Model

Are you emotionally intelligent?

Daniel Goleman, the leading author and though leader on emotional intelligence, identified five main behaviours of the emotionally intelligent person. My descriptions below are deliberately simplified.

  1. Self-awareness – the ability to know what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  2. Self -regulation – the ability to think before acting and measure your responses appropriately.
  3. Motivation – the ability to sustain effort and attitude in spite of external circumstances.
  4. Empathy – the ability to leave your own perspective and see things from the perspective of another and,
  5. Social Skills -the ability to engage, build and sustain interpersonal relationships.

With such great outcomes evidenced, it’s clear that it’s an area worth understanding and growing it within your business.

If you are interested in becoming more emotionally intelligent, ISM Training run regular high quality training for this in Dubai. To check when the next course is visit www.ismdubai.com

People don’t buy for logical reasons they buy for emotional reasons- Zig Ziglar

1001 Arabian Nights

Are you sitting comfortably?

The art of storytelling is losing traction in the increasingly fast paced Dubai life but its sales people could still benefit from this ancient tradition. As a consumer, try to remember the last major purchase you made. What role did the salesperson play in your decision making? What persuaded you to buy that product? Successful salespeople know how to tell a good story. They appeal to your emotions using a variety of techniques. Perhaps you just haven’t met a really good salesperson in a while if you don’t agree at all?

All stories need some basic elements in order to succeed. A hero or heroine ( the customer or you!); stimulus ( a buying decision); conflict ( objections); crossroads ( when a purchase is made) and finally a good moral (satisfaction in making the right decision).

There are a number of situations a salesperson can find themselves in in which it will be appropriate to tell a story involving these elements. They may need to provide context for their product which resonates with the customer, they may be presenting their product to an audience, motivating a sales team or even selling themselves.

The benefits of storytelling are numerous. They can captivate and hold the attention of clients; build rapport and trust; add interest and relevance to a product; change minds and win loyalty. There is Science behind it too. When we are told a rich story full of relevancy, the sensory, creative and more emotional right side of our brain is stimulated. If only the left side is engaged, as experienced during a dull sales presentation, we make more logical buying decisions. A story simply put helps the customer experience your product and emphathise with the seller.

So how can this help you? Perhaps you think you are not a great storyteller. I assure you, you are better than you think. We tell stories every day to our families and friends. Sometimes we tell them stories they may have told us. You need to sit down and think about your product. Connect your story to your product, it should be personal. Your story could also be about you, your company history, a customer’s experience with your product or even how you create your product. Just don’t forget the tenants of storytelling and dispense with bullet points, they don’t engage and produce emotion. Running your story by someone won’t hurt either the best raconteurs have told their stories a few times!

Look the part

People make snap judgements based on your clothes, the car you drive, your accent and how you smell. Whether their judgement is correct is down to you. As a sales person, dressing the part is essential. You can have the best product, or the most innovative money saving process for your would-be client, yet if you look wrong to them, you could easily lose the deal. So shine your shoes, wear your best clothes (this could be business attire or smart casual depending on the situation), and make sure your breath and body smell lovely.

Talk to their level

If you are talking to the technical department of a business you have to be able to talk to their knowledge standard. However, a car salesperson will temper their petrol head knowledge if the client is simply seeking a car that is fuel efficient and looks nice.

Don’t fear the phone

phone

Get on the dog and bone…it doesn’t bite!

Even seasoned sales people dislike calling prospects. However, if you have a qualified lead that has expressed an interest, ringing them is a matter of courtesy if nothing else. They will be expecting you to call, and to not call is a wasted opportunity and could damage your reputation in the eyes of the would-be client.

Listen up

People love to be listened to. They disliked being talked at. As a rule of thumb listen as much as you can before talking. When you do talk, address the concerns, queries, and any misunderstandings about your product/service. The sales process can be far friendly and, once you know what your customer needs, you will impart more targeted knowledge to them.

Don’t bug them

When you feel you are close to a sale, don’t badger the client for a decision, but ask them questions that they need to answer. Allowing them to come back to you with the reply gives you more knowledge about what they need, but also helps cement their good opinion of you and your business.

Identify blocks to buying

With a first purchase of a car, accounting services, or a piece of software, people tend to look around before deciding on where to spend their money. Your business could be one of many they are looking at. So don’t jump in with the hard sell. Go back to the listening tip and identify what the customer’s blocks to buying are, then address them. If you know your product isn’t for them, let them know, but if you can change the product/service, make sure they know that too. If you know it’s going to be too expensive, tell them and find a solution that meets their budget.

Let them go

Make sure you qualify your leads. If your product isn’t right for them, or you know they can’t really afford it now or in the long run, be the good guy and let them go. A poor lead will cause both you and the client problems further down the line.

Close the deal

Knowing when to close a deal is essential. Some customers could prevaricate all year over a purchasing decision – wasting their time and yours. When you know they have all the information they need to make a decision, offer them a couple of options and ask them which one they feel most comfortable signing off on.

 

There are many ways of closing a deal, for more details on transforming your sales skills   visit: http://18.130.2.180/courses/transformational-sales-skills/index.php

ISM Training has plenty more sales tips for you just browse our sales category on this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

The constant hustle and bustle of a Dubai salesperson’s life can be draining and make constant stress feel normal. However, the rapidly growing Mindfulness Movement offers sales and business people a way to calm their worlds and help them make better decision in both work and home life.

Mindfulness is essentially about being in the moment, being aware of yourself and your environment. Originally a part of Buddhist practice, it has become separated from religion and is now an increasingly popular method for reducing stress in all aspects of life.

These are four of the cornerstones of how mindfulness can help you be more effective in business:

Remove distractions

Your mobile phone, a favourite website, social media: they all add up to many hours a month of distracting behaviour. Identify what are the unnecessary distractions in your working life and limit your use while at work. This is particularly effective in face-to-face meetings. Even if you’re the only one who has left their mobile in their briefcase (instead of laying on the table), you’ll be more focused during the meeting and better able to pick up on nuances than usual.

In your every day work life, limiting browsing websites, or checking your Twitter feed, will help you focus more on the job at hand – leaving you plenty of time later to find out how your football team is doing.

Feel the stress

The old adage of take a deep breath is a wise one. Whenever you feel stressed, whether in a meeting or on a call, take a moment to acknowledge the stress to yourself. You don’t have to be silent, find a phrase to pause the conversation naturally, such as ‘I’d like to write that down’, and while doing this take some deep breathes and let the tension ease away. This way you can refocus on what is really important about the conversation.

Be grateful

For salespeople, patience can be stretched during tricky negotiations. But the mindful salesperson has the knack of remaining in control. This is because they keep a gratitude diary. This is a book in which you physically write down all the things you are grateful for in your life. Research has shown that those who keep a diary, and remind themselves of the things they’re grateful for, are more patient. So when a customer is testing your patience, remember what you’re grateful for in life and you’ll find yourself making more balanced decisions.

Meditate

meditation

Slow down…breathe…

Some of the world’s biggest businesses (such as Google) are leading the way in educating their employees in the power of mediating. Meditation is the mindful salesman’s keystone. Taking time out from your day for half an hour of meditation can seem like time wasted, but once you’ve found a slot for it, you’ll reap the benefits.

Meditation slows you down and focuses your mind. To begin with, do ten minutes. Mornings are usually the best time as you have less distractions, but you can meditate any time of the day, just make sure you have no distractions: turn off your mobile, switch off the computer, tell people not to disturb you.

 

Steve Halligan who coaches the ISM Professional Selling Skills course incorporates Meditation into his daily life…ask him all about it the next time you go on a course he is facilitating!

100 metre sprint

Are you ready to win from the get go?

Start-ups face a huge number of hurdles, but biggest is how to sell their products from the get go. Whether you’re at the pencil and paper stage or have already leased a unit in the Dubai Mall, it’s never too late (or early) to get your sales plan in place.

Have a target

Your sales should be integral to your business plan. How much stock, or how many hours of time, do you need to sell to make your business profitable. Working off that you’ll have a more realistic idea of the sales task ahead of you, than from just guessing.

Know your customers

You might not have any customers right now, but you need them, and plenty of them to make your business succeed. So figure out what type of person is going to be interested in what you’re selling. Are they young, middle aged, older? Do they have a high disposable income, or are they looking for products that will last. Are you selling to small businesses with tight budgets, or international corporations who naturally distrust new companies?

By establishing your target market, you can build a profile of who they are, where they’re based and how to approach them.

The Approach

Everyone responds differently to a sales approach, and you have to adjust your style to suit your market.

A start up sales person has a steep climb to the top of a big corporate but if you’ve worked hard enough to secure a meeting, being creative and respectful in your approach will ensure you’re more likely to be remembered. Practice your presentation and make sure your product looks as good as it possibly can. One entrepreneur turned up at a big supermarket with his product beautifully wrapped for the prospective customer to enjoy opening – the effort and the solid quality of the product was appreciated and the supermarket rolled it out across all their stores.

Selling a less tactile product like a service is more difficult as the customer can’t touch it. However, great design and an easy to grasp outline of features can be a real winner.

If you’re selling from a shop, make sure it looks enticing. People will always try a new shop if it looks great. A tatty frontage, poorly laid out store is a major turn-off. If you can afford to employ a shop designer, do. They’re skills and knowledge will increase your turnover and profits.

Don’t be afraid to ask

The ‘Ask’ in sales can be a real hurdle for start-up businesses. You may have a great idea but asking people to buy into your dream can be daunting. But you have to get over that fear. Without asking people outright to buy your product, your business is going to fail.

Hire talent

Your sales people are incredibly important to the success of the business, so it makes sense to hire the best you can find. Do a full check on people, talk to their previous employers to ensure their boasts of big sales are true.

Go on a course

If your budget is too tight to hire in talent, and you’ve not got any experience yourself, invest in a sales course. As a start-up, you can’t afford to step into a sales meeting with your perfect client without the sales tools to cope with the situation.

 

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a proven technique to increase sales and reduce high staff turnover, it’s even been proved to reduce aggression in schools and stress in the workplace. Which is why businesses from Dubai to Sydney are beginning to implement emotional intelligence courses for their employees. It makes great business sense, and is a beneficial investment in individual development.

If you’ve not implemented an emotional intelligence course in your business, these tips will help you and your team maximise the results of the process.

Desire to participate

Wanting to take part in a course increases the likelihood of success. Help your team understand why you are keen for them to take part in the course. Without knowing the benefit to them personally, many people will not truly engage.

Understand the major goal

L'Oreal

Emotional Intelligence…it’s worth it !

Different companies will want a variety of outcomes from an emotional intelligence course. When L’Oreal decided to hire high scoring EI salespeople, they saw a dramatic increase in individual sales. However, when AT&T studied the impact of emotional intelligence in their organisation, they discovered it accounted for a 20% increase in productivity. Whatever your overall goal, keep it in mind during training.

Personal and company goal

Aligning training to help people on a personal level, as well as on a company level, increases their engagement. Changing how we approach different situations can be daunting, but placed in a personal context this can assist in a greater understanding of the benefits.

Ensure the course is pertinent

Scenarios that are built on unfamiliar ground can be too abstract for many people. By grounding the course in your everyday personal and business life, your team will get far more out of the course. You’ll also find that you can address specific situations that are causing problems in your business.

Clearly defined outcome

Everyone works better when they know what the desired outcome is. Before starting the course, ensure every participant is aware of the overall goal for the company and for them personally. Be very clear and don’t leave room for doubt. This way your team will get the most out of the course.

Is it working?

Keep an eye on your stats in the following months. This assessment will help you understand where emotional intelligence is making its mark on your team’s performance.

Follow up

Emotional intelligence does not have a fixed end point. Some people will take it on board faster than others, and others may forget aspects as time goes by. Have regular reviews of your team to talk about how they are implementing what they’ve learnt, and even book refresher sessions to maintain the development process.

 

 

 

 

 

spider web

Some days will be slow but always plan ahead…

Even the most successful sales team suffers from slow days,but instead of worrying about losing sales,use these times wisely- catch up on areas of your business that usually get ignored, or take a chance to rest and get ready for the next busy cycle

Get out of the office

Whether you’ve been hitting targets consistently, or suffering from some bad runs, getting out of the office environment is a good way to recharge everyone’s batteries. Take your team for a stroll down JBR beach or around the Miracle Garden, go to the movies at the Grand Cinecity, or if you want something to get out of the city maybe a dune buggy tour. Whatever you do, make sure the whole team gets involved. You’ll all feel revitalised, and spending time away from the office helps build connections between team members.

Review your long term plan

When things are slow you can take time to sit down and analyse how the business’ long term sales plan is working. You’ll be able to discover patterns and trends that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, such as subtle dips and spikes in hitting sales targets, bottlenecks in the sales lifecycle, or even realise there’s a disconnect between sales and delivery. Although this should be done regularly, it is often pushed back when we’re busy – especially in small businesses where you could be wearing many different hats at once.

Take time to get to know newer employees

In a busy office environment new employees can be lost in the hubbub. Take the time given to you during a slow patch to get to know the newest members of your team. They may feel they’re a little out of their depth, have some feedback they’ve not had chance to give you, or have issues which, left unsaid, could mean you lose them a few months down the line.

Touch base with established clients

When we’re busy getting in new business, old clients can sometimes take a back seat. So when you’ve a quiet day pick up the phone and get in touch with clients you’ve not spoken to for a while. It’s a great time to find out how they are getting on with your product/service. It may lead to more business, or it may simply consolidate their feeling that you care about their business – potentially leading to more business in the future. It could also raise issues they’ve not had time to discuss with you: which is incredibly useful. You’ll learn more about your own business, and how it fits with your customer’s business going forward.

Review your routine

A good working routine is essential for being more productive and calmer in the office. If you don’t have a good routine, busy periods can seem out of control. Take back control and organise yourself (and your team) to have a more efficient way of working.

Slow patches give businesses the opportunity to become stronger, so the next time you have a slow day see it as a gift, not a problem.

Whether you’re pitching to a small Dubai ad agency or an international conglomerate, these are the sales tricks to avoid if you want to land a new client.

Start with the Price

When you start with the price, people can make a very simple yes and no decision. You’ve not made the effort to engage their emotions around a product, so they can only decide on whether they feel they can afford it. From this point on the conversation is doomed. Outlining the benefits before the price is always more effective.

Start at the lowest price

Sales psychology is pretty clear on this one: start with the lowest price model and the sale will nosedive. It’s possible you’ll get the sale, but it’ll be at the low end, not the mid range or high end price. Start high and work down to a comprise that makes the customer happy.

Sticking rigidly to the script

Even seasoned pros make this mistake. They go into autopilot and drone through the sales pitch without thinking about how it should be changed to appeal to different customers. However, don’t…

Ditch the script

Some people feel the loose, informal approach is more authentic. Well, it would be if it was prepared carefully beforehand. Just rocking up to a meeting and making it up as you go along, isn’t authentic; it makes you look like you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

Talking fast

sales

Listening is a key sales skill…

This trick may work on a market stall where you want to catch people’s attention quickly, but it doesn’t in a business environment. Customers want to have an engaging conversation, not sit and listen while you reel off the products benefits and why they should buy it.

Offer a discount during a pitch

Giving a discount, or extra benefits midway through your pitch sounds like it should clinch the deal. You have a great product and you’re offering them extras if they sign up straight away. The trouble is most people are suspicious of a deal that sounds too good. You look a little desperate and they’ll find someone who’s more interesting in their needs, rather than ticking off another sale on the monthly chart. Far better to tell them about an offer beforehand – it’s a far more credible approach than if it’s offered half way through the pitch.

Bad mouthing the competition

It’s an easy mistake to make. You’ve worked hard on finding all the reasons your product is better than the competition, so you work that into your pitch. However, the person in front of you might well be good friends with the CEO of the competition, and won’t take kindly to you rubbishing his friends. Focus on what your product can do for the customer and let them make the comparisons to the competition.

Dazzle with buzzwords

Excessive use of buzzwords during a sales pitch are a major turn off – to the extent you’ll not only lose the sale, you may discredit your company entirely. People like easy connections, a bit of banter and good hard facts they can make a clear decision on. Buzzwords should be used with extreme caution.

 

 

 

 

The world of sales techniques is littered with unethical practices. Whether you’re selling ice cream on the streets of New York, or a new point of sale software package to businesses in the Dubai Mall, you will have targets to meet and commissions to strive for. However, using unethical sales practices may work for you in the short term, but will seriously undermine your reputation in the long term.

Here are three practices that you should avoid, or use carefully.

Time limits

limited time offer

Hurry up! This offer will be retracted in the next 5 minutes!

Putting a time limit on a sale is a typical technique employed by salespeople. It is a way of pushing a customer into making a fast decision – but it may not give them sufficient time to truly consider whether it’s a good deal for them or not. Many people expect this in an end of season sale, but if you are trying to build a long-term relationship with a customer, it could leave them feeling less secure in their dealings with you.

Save the time limits for when they really do apply, for example, if you have a block of stock you want to get rid of and are genuinely offering all your customers the opportunity to purchase it at a reduced rate. By being honest with everyone, you’ll show that you are a company worth staying with.

Withholding the truth

You may feel that the deal is almost done; that you’re so close you can see the commission entering your bank account. But then the customer stalls, uncertain about a certain feature of the product. Do you assure the customer that the feature fits their needs perfectly, or admit that it may not at the moment?

These are the moments that sort out the ethical salesperson from the unethical. You can go for the fast sale and happily accept the commission, but you’ll also know that at some point down the line there will be come-back on that sale. The customer might demand a refund, and you may have to lie to your boss and wriggle out of the hole you’ve made for yourself.

Telling the truth in these circumstances is hard. You may lose the sale, but there is a way to show you are a conscientious sales person.  You tell the customer you don’t know, but can find out. It takes longer this way, but you may be able to come back and tell them that although it’s not possible in it’s current state, you’ve spoken to the developers and changes can be made to accommodate the customer’s needs.

This doesn’t always work. Making a change to please one customer demanding changes no other customer needs, could be expensive and not give a good return. But it’s better for you and your company to make those decisions ethically, rather than sell something that the customer ultimately cannot use.

Ease up on the upselling

Upselling is common practice, but in some circumstances it can be downright unethical. The obvious one is selling insurance when none is required, or suggesting that additional equipment is needed to make a product more productive, when it clearly doesn’t.

To build a more harmonious relationship with your client, leave out the upsell and only suggest additional products when you have discussed them in detail with the customer and you can both see the benefits.

In sales, and most particularly for small businesses, how you treat your customers at the outset will determine the long-term success of your business relationship. Which is why it’s important to insist on ethical sales techniques from your sales team.

Dubai Frame

Is your tender in the 'frame'?

Whether you run a construction company wanting to get into the next Dubai Frame, or hope to become a preferred supplier to Al Tawam Hospital, you’ll have to create a tender with the clout to beat your competitors.

But before you begin what is a lengthy and costly exercise, the very first thing you should be asking yourself and your bid team is:

Is it worth it?

Going through a bid process can be expensive. Depending on how big the project, you have to budget for the actual creation on your tender. You may have to divert talented individuals from their day-to-day tasks to work on it. Experts may be brought in to help write, create graphics or make a video for the bid. Prototypes could be needed.

At every single stage in the process you and your team have to ask yourself if the bid is still valid. A brilliantly written bid or tender is one part of the equation here. You may discover through researching the tender that your company can’t completely fulfil the criteria: there are certain legal constraints that will cripple you how effective you can be, or you may come to the conclusion you simply don’t have the manpower needed to provide the service or products.

Far better to pull out when you see a major hurdle that can’t be overcome, than to blindly continue, swallowing your entire marketing and sale budget as you go.

Once you’ve decided that you are ready to push on with creating a tender, here’s some simple tips to help you on your way to successfully winning the contract.

It’s not about you

A big mistake made by many companies is to spend too much time in the document talking about themselves. But just like a salesman who doesn’t let the customer get a word in, a tender that doesn’t talk about how your company is going to help solve the customer’s problem, is a huge waste of everyone’s time.

How, why, what, where, when, who

Every writer follows these simple words to create a more compelling story. And a tender is exactly that: a story. You are telling the customer a tale about how your business is going to help their business be more successful in their enterprise. Tell them how you’ll do it, why your company is better, what you will do, where you’ll do it, when (timescales are very important as they show you have considered how their project will fit into your business), and who (are you going to build a new engine with the world’s top engineer? Then shout about it).

Be honest

If you are a small company bidding for a big contract, you can’t fudge the figures to look bigger. Not only will the government, big corporation, or institution find out, they’ll never accept a tender from you in the future. Better to be honest and highlight the benefits you bring as a smaller company.

Know your competition

Whether you know exactly who else is bidding or not, you should be aware of the general competition in your industry. Consider their strengths and weaknesses. You don’t reference them directly in your document, but you can show how your abilities outstrip others in your field.

Cost it properly

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the cheapest bid will win the work. They’ll be suspicious and wonder how you are going to deliver on such low margins. If you do win, you may well find you put yourself out of business fulfilling a contract that brings you no profit at best, and consumes all your capital at worst.

By costing it properly you will be showing you know the worth of your business expertise.

Successful tender writing can be daunting for the first timer. Here at ISM Dubai our expert instructors can train your team in the art of writing tenders and business proposals. Click on this link to find out more: http://18.130.2.180/courses/writing-business-proposals/index.php

Sheikh Zayad road,dubai

Are your sales skills as impressive as Dubai's skyline?

Your Dubai sales team is often the face of your company. They are the first point of contact with customers and are essential for keeping the production line moving. So next time one of your sales team is presenting to a new prospect in their Sheikh Zayad offices, how do you make sure their technique doesn’t kill the sale before the first round of coffee has been sipped?

Not knowing your own business

Confidence is everything in sales and if your sales team doesn’t understand your business thoroughly, they will be poor ambassadors for your company. A thorough grounding in your business will give your newest salesperson the ability to go out and sell with confidence.

Whether you are a small start up or a major league business, it’s important to give sales people an initial training session in your business. The more they understand who your core customers are, what products you have currently, and those in development, the issues faced by customers, and how your business solves those issues, the more likely they will become a more effective salesperson for your business.

Lack of manners

People make quick decisions on whether they can trust you or not. Which is why, in any business environment, good manners are important. Close observation of business etiquette is a must, especially with international relationship building: what is accepted locally may not be internationally. A smile, a good handshake, or the right level of bow, being prompt for meetings: these all add up to create a good impression.

If you aren’t a natural at good manners, buy yourself a business etiquette book and brush up on your skills. It’ll help you win more business for your company, and probably improve your social skills outside of work as well.

Selling too hard

The days of hard selling are over. Big business is too sophisticated nowadays to fall for the pushy salesman approach. If you’ve been trained in the hard sell, it’s time to learn some new techniques. Today it’s all about relationship building. The first few meetings you have with a customer are all about learning about their business to find out how your business can really help them.

Take the time to understand both new and established customers and you’ll reap the benefits over time. Leave the hard sell to the dodgy salespeople who don’t want repeat business.

Playing the blame game

When things go wrong with a customer’s order, the easy route for the salesperson is to blame some unknown link in the business. But that doesn’t help your customer. Control your reaction to a complaint and use the experience to improve your sales process, or to identify areas in the business that need to be overhauled.

Mixing the message

If the salesperson is telling a different story to the brochure, or your website, who can the customer trust? Throughout your organisation there has to be a real understanding of your brand and what it means. This way, every time the customer speaks to anyone in your business the brand message is re-enforced. Creating trust on a daily basis should be the number one rule. It will help prevent your sales team making basic mistakes when selling to customers.

As any great salesman worth their salt knows, a good story can sell a product. Less well known is the power of a good story, or one-liner to motivate a sales team to achieve their potential. So whether you want to up your car sales  or increase sales of delicious food at the Dubai Mall, here are some sales quotes to inspire your team.

1. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you have planted. – Robert Louis Stevenson

2. You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise. – Patricia Fripp

3. Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your minds looks at what happens. – Khalil Gibran

4. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. – Tony Robbins

5. Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

6. People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

7. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes of the goal. – Henry Ford

8. In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. – Bill Crosby

9. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. – Muhammad Ali

10. Face your fears and doubts, and new worlds will open to you. – Robert Kiyosaki

11. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. – Albert Einstein

12. Dream big and dare to fail – Norman Vaughan

13. The best sales questions have your expertise wrapped into them. Jill Konrath

14. Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. – Jim Rohn

15. The way you position yourself at the beginning of a relationship has a profound impact on where you end up. – Ron Karr

16. There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. – Peter Drucker

17. Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way. – Les Brown

18. Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. – Will Rogers

19. The more you love what you are doing, the more successful it will be for you. – Jerry Gillies

20. People don’t buy for logical reasons – they buy for emotional reasons. – Zig Ziglar

21. Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principal that holds all relationships. – Stephen Covey

Each quote can address different needs for inspiring your  Dubai sales team, so take the time to consider which one applies to the changes happening in your sales area each week.

It’s true that some salespeople have a natural talent for their profession, but it only applies to a small percentage. Even the most successful people will still have worked really hard to earn their reputation. So what does it take to become a successful salesman?

Be yourself

As the old adage goes, people buy from people. Regardless of whether a person wants, or needs a product, you want them to buy it from you – not the next shop down the mall. At the crunch point, especially in high stake sales environments, it can simply come down how well your potential customer likes you.

Sell the benefits

Thanks to some serious marketing research in the mid-twentieth century, we now know that people only want to know what’s in it for them. It really doesn’t matter that your new sprocket is the most advanced on the market to a customer. Professional salesmen sell on how the product will enhance a person’s life.

 Use statistics wisely

If 60% of your customers only buy from you because you provide great customer service, shout about it. People feel reassured when they learn others are benefiting from buying from you. Transversely, there is a small minority who prefer to be outsiders – so know your market and use the statistics judiciously.

Get networking

In the hard-nosed world of business to business selling, the best way to find new customers is networking. These days there are numerous networking clubs for businesses, either professionally organised business breakfast style networking or local government networking. Try out as many as possible in your sales territory.

Qualify potential sales

Make sure the person you’re selling to has an actual need for your product. It’s a simple piece of advice, but very powerful. From the market stall holder calling out to passing trade, to a pre-arranged telephone sales call, knowing if someone needs your product saves everyone a lot of time and effort.

Know your supply chain

There are simple sales and then there are business sales. A simple sale is telling a customer a hat looks good on them. In the complex world of business sales, you have to be more aware of everything that’s going on in your business, and your customer’s business. Supply chain issue on your side have the potential to disrupt their business as well. Make it your job to manage the supply chain on behalf of your customer.

Set sales targets

A target is a great motivational force in business. You might exceed your goal of x number of sales in Q1, or fail to get even half, but at least you have a benchmark. By setting a target you make yourself think about how to bring in more business and begin to map out your sales strategy.

Have a sales strategy

With your target in place, you need a strategy to get to it. In most established businesses, there will be some tried and trusted methods of bringing in new business and getting out more from old customers. It doesn’t do any harm to dust these old strategies down occasionally. Take a look at them afresh and see if new methodologies, software, or mediums (such as social media) have anything valuable to add to your strategy.

 

 

The majority of businesses have a handful of really great customers. They’re the people who order regularly, pay on time and come back time and again. But are you being complacent? Do your best customers get the best treatment from your Dubai sales team? Or have you forgotten the basic rules for retaining customers?

Customer retention is one area of sales that is often overlooked in the rush to find new customers. New customers equal growth, right? Well not always. Treat your older customers well and your business will be healthier for it.

Some basic lessons in customer retention are:

Involve your customers

The more ambitious your new project, product, or service, the more testing you are going to have to do. Which is why it’s a good idea to select a small number of your older, more trusted customers and rope them into some beta testing.

This is a great way to show them how much you value their input into developing new stuff. You can invite them in at the early planning stages, or if that seems too soon, wait until when you feel you have something that’s ready to be tested in the environment you want to sell it in.

In the business to consumer market this is a well-established way of testing how a product is going to be received by the public. In the business-to-business community this type of feedback is invaluable – you will learn a lot about how your new product is going to be used in the real world.

Over-deliver on your promises

Customers who order from you without needing a call, or come in frequently to buy your products might not seem like they need much attention – but they are often the ones who need it most.

You’ve sold your product or services to them but do you know how they perceive that sale? Do they stay with you because it’s easier than going elsewhere? Very often this is the case. They’ve made an investment in you and don’t want the hassle of changing.

However, they could change and often do so out of the blue. The best way to retain a customer is to over deliver on their expectations. Go that extra mile for them. Find out how they are using your product or service and see if you can improve on how they use it. Maybe do an audit – are they paying more than a new customer? Is there an added benefit they’re not receiving because it came in after they became a customer?

If a customer feels like you are looking out for their best interests, they’re more likely to stick with you than go to a competitor.

Customer retention incentives for sales teams

Make customer retention part of your monthly sales team meetings. Don’t just give your team a bonus for new business: give them a bonus for retaining long standing customers.

Give your team the tools to identify who are the long term customers, what value they bring to the company and what you can do the help them stay as customers.

With the right thought processes in place and a good customer retention strategy, your company can grow more effectively and you wont see that dreaded marker of a high turn over of customers.

ISM 2005

A group from way back in 2005 attending Coaching with Philip Parker

ISM have delivered corporate training in Sales, Marketing and Leadership in Dubai and the Gulf region for 15 years. We are proud that customers keep coming back to us but never take them for granted . Returning clients are highly valued and we reward them accordingly.The record so far by a single client stands at 11 public courses attended, a marvelous testament to our UK trainers,course standards and client confidence!

bonfire

Don't let your sales efforts go up in smoke !

When you’ve been given a qualified lead, it’s your job to make sure the initial phone call doesn’t lead to a dead end. How to turn a qualified lead into a sale is one of the hardest hurdles in a salesperson’s job. Yet if you follow the simple rules below, your chances of success will increase significantly.

Be personable

Remember that the person on the other end of the phone hasn’t spoken to you before, and instinctively doesn’t trust you. If you jump in and immediately turn on the sales speak, the qualified lead may well just put the phone down on you. So let an element of chat enter the conversation. Take the time to show the person on the other end of the line that you are a human being as well as a salesperson.

Guide the conversation

Whilst you need to get personable, you don’t want to the conversation to turn to non-business topics. You may find you both love Nadel, but you need to steer the conversation towards how your product can help their business, not who won a recent tournament.

Don’t be aggressive

You have to keep the conversational tone light. Don’t start being aggressive. Not only will they end the call quickly, they may even make a complaint to your company. You will have lost the sale and possibly receive a reprimand.

Listen carefully

It may be that the qualified lead has been looking forward to your call. They could very well have already recognised that they need your service or product. When you call them, don’t just launch into your sales patter, listen carefully for signs that they are ready to buy. If you just plough through your script, you may put them off, so take it slowly, listen carefully, and be flexible enough to follow their lead.

Don’t make false claims

Remember that turning a qualified lead into a sale doesn’t give you the right to make up stats, claim your product or service can do something it can’t, or lie. You may be found out straight away and you’ll lose the sale there and then. Even if you do get to the point where you’ve made the sale, the customer will eventually find out and probably won’t order from you again.

Don’t be too pushy

This is a little like aggression, but probably wont get you in as much trouble at work, but might lose you the sale. A potential customer knows you are on the phone to make a sale, and they’ve agreed to the call so are willing to listen to what you’re offering. But they don’t want to feel that you are forcing them to buy something they may not need. Assess their needs honestly. If they really don’t need what you’re selling today and you are honest, they will have more respect for you. Push beyond the point where they feel comfortable and you will lose out.

Ask lots of questions

Make the effort to really get to know the person’s business and what they need. This is a two way street. You will benefit from really knowing how their company works, what their problems are and how you can help. They get the reassurance that you are genuinely interested and not just after a quick sale regardless of their needs.

Remember, a qualified lead can become a sale, but only if you don’t scare them off in the short time you have on the phone to them. Be responsive, respectful and listen carefully to what they are saying.

Being a great salesperson means remembering that some of your best sales don’t come from new clients, but from established ones. They’re the ones who have already bought into your product before and they are more likely to buy into it again.

It pays dividends to keep in touch !

Keep in touch

In the race to get new business it’s easy to forget old contacts and business customers. But a really good salesperson knows not to do that. Keep track of when you meet clients and what they are doing. If there is a conference coming up, that’s the perfect time to get in touch with old clients and see if they are going. If they are, arrange to meet up. Talking in a social setting is a more relaxed way to remind your old customers that your business is still there for them

Cross-sell

When talking to customers keep your ear open for opportunities to cross sell products. Depending on the setting, you may want to set up another, more business orientated meeting to discuss what else you company has that will help the customer.

Analyse your customer base

The vast majority of your business will come from a small number of clients. Sitting down and identifying those clients is essential. Knowing which clients order more of your product or service, than any other, means you can specifically target them first when offering a new product.

Plan

As in everything, planning is the key ingredient to being successful. Give yourself some time to sit down and go through what you want to achieve in the next 12-month period. You can break this down into how to leverage the relationships you have with current customers and what you can do to create new customers. Using the information you’ve gathered from looking at the most lucrative customers, you’ll know how to offer them a better service. You may also see how that relationship developed from a cold start to being profitable. Once you know how it was done once, you can look at ways of replicating it with another potential customer.

Perfect your presentation

It’s pointless trying to shy away from it – every salesperson has to a sales pitch or presentation at some point. Which is why you need to make it as perfect as possible. Remember a sales presentation is your chance to show customers and potential customers how your product will add real benefit to their business. Don’t go overboard with words like ‘exciting’, ‘wonderful’, ‘innovative’. Instead focus on why you think it’s all these things. Remember to always show the benefits of your products and how they will make life better for your customer. This approach is more valid, and the customer can identify more easily with it.

Stretch yourself

If you have mastered the art of keeping in touch with old customers, you may well feel quite comfortable without having to go out and find new business. But, as the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t rely on a small number of customers to keep you business going. Calling a new lead can be daunting, but done right it will produce new business – you never know, one of those may well become the best customer you’ve ever had.

Being a successful sales person in Dubai is no different from a sales role in London, New York or Mumbai. You have to have work on your current customer list and take the time to find new customers periodically.

Your sales team would probably prefer to be out and about selling your products and services to companies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, than sitting around a table talking tactics and forecasting. So when you get your team to sit still and listen, make it count and get them involved.

Have more than one idea

When considering you next sales strategy, don’t just dig out and use last year’s methods and use them again. Look around for another way of doing things. What worked (or in some cases, didn’t work) last year, may not work as well this year. Your sales team may have exceeded targets on last year’s strategy, but there is no guarantee the same will happen this year.

Review what parts of the strategy did well, and which parts didn’t do well. Get some stats on how the market has changed, and look at how you can make the best of those changes.

And then, create two strategies. With two different strategies, you can see the pitfalls in each far more objectively than if you only have one to look at. Hone it down until you have one plan that you are confident will work.

Talk to your customers

With an economy that is plateauing at best, shrinking at worst, it does well to see what changes your customers are dealing with. Talk to your customers; see if their priorities have change since last year. This could be as simple as taking some of your main clients/customers out for a lunch. Although the business lunch is not as glorious as it was in the boom years, it is still vital to your business to keep that connection with your customers. If you have a broad, public customer base, a street level vox pop will help you gauge their attitude to your products, industry and what they are cutting down on or spending more on.

Be vigilant

It can be tempting, when new information comes in, to allow new information to inform the strategy, without giving it the same vigorous review used at the beginning of the process.

It is also very easy to lose sight of the original strategy. Measure how the strategy is working regularly: don’t wait for the end of each quarter, check out your successes and failures on a weekly basis. Trends are easier to spot that way. If you are off the mark, go back to the original sales strategy and find out why it’s not working.

Train the person, not the team

It may seem counterintuitive to focus on individuals in a training session, yet to get the best out of every member of your team, you have to focus on individual strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is different so instead of trying to make everyone the same, work with them to make the most of their personality. It will make them better sales people because they wont come across to clients and customers as being false.

Look to the future

You may not have the budget to hire a futurologist in your business just yet, but you do need to think about the future of your products and services. How long a shelf life do they have? Is there a natural lifespan? How are external pressures changing your industry, and your client base? Think about how your business model needs to change in the next year, 10 years, and 50 years to keep your business viable. Do you want your business to be the biggest and best of its type in Dubai, or are you looking to expand into the rest of the Middle East, or become a large international corporation? Questioning your company in this way will help you form a more robust and forward thinking strategy.

 

Selling in understandably at the core of every business, which means your Dubai sales team is very much the heart of your company. If they are underachieving on a regular basis there must be a reason for it, and more often than not it stems from a lack of motivation. After all, what do they get for marketing your products far and wide and then making huge sales other than their basic wage packet and maybe a pat on the back once in a while?

Billionaire entrepreneur, Sir Alan Sugar once said, ‘Love what you do and do what you love, otherwise you will become unhappy and self-defeating’ and the last thing you want, or need, is an unhappy, self-defeating sales team.

So how do you motivate your sales team to produce better results on an on-going basis?

1. Give them Training in New Marketing Strategies

You may not think that your small, Dubai-based sales team needs any additional training, but the simple act of showing them new marketing strategies and explaining new technologies to them will result in increased motivation.

Why?

Well firstly you’re showing your sales team that you have enough confidence in them to bother training them in new methods of selling. Confidence and motivation are very much interlinked, which means if you go to the trouble of showing confidence in your employees they will become motivated to prove your confidence is well placed.

Secondly, any new selling techniques or marketing strategies that you teach them will undoubtedly improve their sales figures, and ultimately your profits.

2. Praise them for a Job Well Done

It doesn’t matter whether you are based in Dubai, the UAE or elsewhere in the world, praise for a job well done is incredibly motivational, and especially when it comes from someone who is high up in the management team. Larger companies in particular tend to forget that their sales teams are in fact human, and that they thrive on praise rather than criticism.

Think about it for just one minute…when was the last time you actually said well done to a specific member of your sales team? We don’t mean a general ‘well done’ during a team briefing, we mean a personal ‘good job’ to a high-achieving member of your team?

3. Give them an Incentive

seabird

All it takes is a bit of motivation to produce a successful sales team.

Everybody likes a bit of competition which is why pitting your sales team against each other (in a friendly, fun way of course) can motivate them to achieve more. Add into the mix a little incentive each month and you have the recipe for a much more productive sales team.

Obviously you don’t need to offer things like new cars and holidays as incentives, but small things such as a day off with pay, or a meal out in a nice restaurant is something to aim for in addition to the accolade of being top sales person for the month. Plus, if you change the goal each month e.g. top overall sales one month but top sales to new clients the next month etc. you can manipulate the results to an extent so that everyone in your sales team has the opportunity of ‘winning’.

Making continued sales in today’s economy is not an easy prospect which is why you need to give your Dubai sales team all the encouragement and praise they need to make it happen. Show faith in them and they will reward you with better results in return, and you might just have a bit of fun along the way.

 

 

So what are you selling to your customers in Dubai? Are you selling all the details of what your product can do? How long it took you to bring it to market? All the research and develop that went into it?

giant squid

Is your product launch going to be a damp squid ?

Well if that is all you’re selling then you are missing a fairly important trick. Very few people are interested in these as selling points. They want to know how your product is going to make their life easier. Not how many man-hours went into perfecting it before it came to the boardroom sign off.

In the 1940s, Rosser Reeves, of Ted Bates & Company came up with the term ‘unique selling point’. It translates into what is so unique about this product that makes it better than it’s rivals? What specific benefit does this product that means it is something more desirable than another product?

Reeves was a pioneer of television advertising, a man for whom the idea that you just show your product and hope people buy was wasting an opportunity. He felt that not only did a product have to be said to better than its rivals, it really had to be better. You had to find what was unique, what the real benefit of a product was and use that as the unique selling point.

So when you look at your sparkling new product which has taken hundreds of man-hours to research, develop and manufacture, you need to strip away the extraneous back story and look at why your customer needs it.

There are generally three ways of selling a product: through its value to the customers, it’s benefit to the customer and its features. Find which one of these is going to appeal most to the end user (who may well be a customer of your customer), and build your sales campaign around it.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve developed a piece of software that untangles accounting procedures, automatically updates with new legislation, and cuts the time it takes to process accounts.

Ask yourself the question, what do we lead with? What is the real benefit for your client? Time is money, so cutting time means saving money. But do they really want the headache of updating legislation removed? Is it both? Or have you missed something more essential? Is your product easy to use? At some point during the development process was there a point where the actual usability of the product was left unquestioned?

Software can have all the bells and whistles you think your customer wants, but if it is difficult to use, looks ugly, isn’t intuitive, then the end users isn’t going to like it, regardless of how much time it saves, and how easily it integrates important information.

Find the unique selling point, find the real benefit of your product, and you can really start to sell your product to customers in Dubai, and the rest of the world.

Your pitch is going to win or lose you a sale. So you have to make sure that when you walk into a meeting in downtown Dubai your sales pitch is perfect. But there are ways of pitching well and ways of doing it that will turn off your prospect.

Don’t Over Prepare

burj dubai

Just before you enter a meeting is not the time to prepare your sales pitch....even if you are taking the elevator in the Burj Khalifa !

Yes, you need to know your script so well that you could reel if off in your sleep. But if you take that into a meeting, you’ll put people off for several reasons. First of all, there is no room in a perfect pitch to listen to your customer. They sit there silently and while you do all the talking.

It’s boring sitting around for half an hour listening to someone talk. So give the client plenty of opportunity to talk about their needs.

Give a Time Constraint

Again, don’t bore your customer. Give a strict time to present to them and, just as importantly, leave a definite amount of time for questions and answers. Tell them at the outset of the meeting how long you have to will take to give an outline of how you think your product could develop their business.

A timed meeting not only keeps everyone on track, it also gives the impression that you have somewhere to be afterwards. This nicely leads to the next point:

The Client is King

Yes, you need to ensure the client knows that this pitch is all about them, and all about how it’s going to make their life better. But at the same time, you are selling yourself as well as the product; so don’t fall into the trap of agreeing with everything they say. You have to come across as the expert, the one they want to see again. You can’t put yourself into too weak a position or they will lose confidence in you, and then lose confidence in what you are presenting.

Papering over the Cracks

If there is some bad news in the pitch, such as the numbers not adding up to the customer’s preferred price bracket, don’t fluff it. Make sure you know the numbers, and more importantly, know how to overcome any objections that might arise from this. People don’t like the wool being pulled over their eyes and if they spot something doesn’t add up, they won’t thank you for pretending it does.

Even worse, if you do seal the deal and later down the line the customer finds it’s costing them more than you said it would, you’ll lose respect, and maybe lose future sales.

Death by PowerPoint

Don’t overload your customers with a huge range of data, statistics, graphs and projected earnings. You need to keep your prospect interested and connected while you are presenting to them. You’ll see their eyes glaze over if you just give them a huge about information. Get them involved on an emotional level instead; show them how your product is going to make their life better.

So next time you are preparing to present to your most important Dubai client, find out all you can about their business and how your product or service is going to make their life better. And then put that into the context of a pitch that doesn’t kill the deal half way through the meeting.

overcoming objections

You can't make a deal if there are objections in the way....

It would be highly unusual for you to sit with a new customer who didn’t have some objections. It’s human nature to question the relative merits of a new product. This is as true of the downtown Dubai market trader as it is of Jumeirah  resident. How you counter their objections will often mean the difference between selling your product or walking home empty handed.

Listen to the Customer’s Objections

It may sound rather obvious, but it is surprising how often people simply don’t bother to listen to what the customer is saying. Instead they are thinking about the many ways they can convince this person to buy. By just stopping the inner voice and listening to the outer voice of the customer, you’ll get a much better idea of what their real objections are, and then you’ll be able to address them specifically. This, rather than addressing the issues you have in your own mind, will encourage the customer to feel valued: it’s not often a sales person actually listens to you.

Talk up the Benefits

It’s a common mistake to talk about how great your product is. You can talk at length about how lovely and shiny it is, how many hours have gone into its development, what were your biggest hurdles on the road to production. Problem is, your customer doesn’t want to hear that. The customer wants to know what your product is going to do for them. How is it going to improve their lives, make their life easier, less stressful, or even make them appear cooler, richer, and more beautiful. Focus on the benefits of the product to each individual customer, and they’ll start to see how your product might be worth buying after all. Look at it from their point of view. Now, don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not talking about getting so completely into your customer’s mind-set that you start to doubt your own product. No, it’s about empathising with the person and trying to understand where their objections come from. Once you’ve find their perspective, you’ll find it easier to show the customer why your product will actually be worth their time and money.

Don’t Lie

Only the salesman who believes he’s never returning to a particular customer, region, country, will rely on fabricating the truth when it comes to a sale. If you are in charge of a region you need to be honest with your customers, especially when you know you’ll be seeing them again soon. When you say a product is going to make their life better, make sure the product you’re selling can fulfil your promise.

Emphasise the Value, not the price

 If someone is telling you that your product is too expensive, then you’ve not sold him or her on the value your product will add to their life or to their business. The best way to overcome objections based on price to really give them the proof that your product is worth what you are selling it for. If they say it’s too expensive for them, that they can’t afford it, well that is a different matter entirely. If a person really doesn’t have the budget available, you should ask when the company will have a budget for a product like yours. When they tell you, arrange to meet them a couple of weeks before the magic date to discuss it further.

Timing is everything

If the major objection is delivery timescales, the best way of overcoming this objection is to tell your customer that you will work on that with them. Going that extra mile for a customer by sitting down with your delivery team and seeing if you can help that customer’s particular delivery needs, is going to pay off. They’ll see you don’t just see them as a one off sales, you actually value their business and are willing to get your Dubai delivery schedule moved to accommodate their needs.

derren brown

Some people can effortlessly incorporate NLP into their communication skills.Can you?

How often have you seen people rolling their eyes when neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is mentioned in your Dubai sales office? It’s a commonly held misconception that NLP is dated, tired and  slightly embarrassing. On the flip side it has a reputation for being a mind controlling dark art.

Of course, none of this is really true. NLP is as relevant today as it was when John Grinder and Richard Bandler first researched it in 1972. Grinder was an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of California and Bandler a student of psychology at the same university.

Their aim was not to create a new branch of psychology, but to find out what made certain therapists so good at their job. In doing so they created models of behaviour to enable better communication between people: and they named it NLP. This was not some snake-oil cure-all to be sold at the side of road; it was devised by serious academics looking to build more effective ways of modelling excellence in others.

The hokum concept of NLP derives from the fact that anything to do with changing a person’s perception of the world is viewed with suspicion. We are hardwired to be resistant to people messing with our minds. However, when our methods of dealing with the world are proving unsuccessful, finding a new, well researched model is a good thing.

This is one of the reasons NLP has lasted so long. It is now applied in business, education, health, therapy and law: not areas that would rely on something for forty years unless it was working.

And how does NLP help your sales team in Dubai? Well, the modelling aspect is very important for sharing successful sales techniques that drive up the overall effectiveness of your team.

You will have heard of the hunter and farmer mentality in a sales team. The hunters go out and catch a prospect with no worries about whether you have to go back a second time. The farmer will tend his flock of prospects so they feel happy to come back for another purchase.

NLP may seem, on the surface, to be perfect for the hunter: there are techniques for matching body language and breathing rates, keeping eye contact. However, it really is about building relationships with strangers that have long lasting benefits for both parties. It’s the win/win model of sales and marketing. You win a sale and your customer gets the product or service that will make their life easier or more exciting.

But learning these techniques is not as easy as cracking open the latest best seller. It will do a great job of introducing you to the techniques, but it doesn’t give you the real, hands on learning experience that will really benefit your ability to create a successful sales force.

ISM run targeted courses on how to successfully use NLP in a sales environment so that you don’t make basic mistakes and ruin the deal before you start. The Institute of Sales and Marketing NLP course is a sales master class aimed primarily at those who may have already attended our popular Professional Selling Skills and would like to explore NLP sales in a 2 day hands on workshop.

ruthbadger

The Badger...do you have her sales skills?

We all know there are born sales people. You will have seen them in your offices: the ones who can sell the benefits of their product and get huge commitments from you in Dubai without breaking a sweat. But don’t worry, you can learn good sales techniques: the innate salesperson just learned their craft a little earlier than you. Here are five simple ways in which will help you straight away.

Stay Calm

There comes a point in all sales pitches where the tension begins to mount, but the more experienced sales person doesn’t let this show. Some sales situations are more stressful than others, such as negotiations worth hundreds of thousands. But during this process a seasoned salesperson is able to calmly deal with any last minute prevarications from the client without losing their cool.

Ditch the Script

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a sales call where we can almost see the script that is in front of the telesales person. Transfer this feeling into a face-to-face conversation and you can easily see why working to a script doesn’t convert to sales. Easy, confident language is key. Whilst the script is in your head, try to talk in a more relaxed style that bring across the good points of the product.

Be Straight Up

Or rather, don’t tell lies. Although the best salesperson can sell just about anything, you’re not going to create goodwill if you sell a product which the client quickly finds out doesn’t do everything you said it does. When selling a product keep to what it really can do, rather than trying to sell it on benefits it doesn’t have. And if you don’t personally like the product, be honest: the product may be exactly what the client wants, and the fact you are honest in your opinion encourages them to believe everything else you say about it.

Be a Professional

Emulation has always been considered a good sales tactic. However, this only goes so far, there has to be a stopping point where you retain your own level of professionalism. If your client appears to be a very relaxed surf dude don’t try and pretend to be on the same wavelength – whiff of insincerity is enough to put off a potential customer. Better to be your own person and copy subtly, than to make a fool of yourself.

Mind Your Manners

Being rude gets you nowhere in the business of sales. And in the current economic climate, it is even more important to remember that being pleasant during negotiations is paramount. Remember, if the client is having difficulty committing, it’s your job to show them how your product or service will be a real

As with everything in business, there is always something new to learn. Next time you have the opportunity, watch your best salesperson and take mental notes on how she creates the right atmosphere to close the sale. Don’t stop there either – keep your eyes and ears open when out and about in Dubai, it’s a tough sales environment and you will come across a continuum of  sales skills which you can reflect on.

 

There is a lot to be learned from watching The Apprentice, particularly for improving your sales skills and tactics in Dubai. The contestants are high flyers in their fields pitting themselves against each other to win the prize of £250,000 investment in a new venture.

Now these individuals own their businesses, run financial departments, are risk managers for blue chip companies, and yet…

When it comes to the sales tasks, the failure rate is incredibly high and makes for riveting viewing.

So why do they give TV ratings gold with their poor sales tactics? Well, the majority of mistakes can be put down to these five points.

1 – They Panic

The greatest mistake anyone can make when approaching a prospect is to panic. You should be prepared, and before you go anywhere near the prospect, you need to know exactly what you are selling and why that person would want to buy it off you. You need to have practice runs with your sales team so they have a memorised the script to the point where they can talk the benefits of a product naturally.

2 – Resorting to the Boiler Room

boiler room

Would boiler room tactics work on you?

The Apprentice is a high-pressure sales environment and the temptation is to resort to Boiler Room Tactics; which is never a good idea. Making a prospect feel uncomfortable and pressured is a major turn off. Boiler room tactics have a justifiably bad reputation and if you find yourself, or see a member of the sales team, starting to use these tactics, you know the sale is already lost.

3 – Poor Preparation

Because The Apprentice contestants have less than a day to design a product and put it to market, they often don’t prepare adequately and are selling a product they know very little about. One of the most stunning cases of this was when the Series 7 teams were asked to create a concept magazine. Without finding out the current state of the magazine market, the teams created a lads mag and a magazine aimed at the over 60 market. One was highly offensive and the other condescending. When they tried to sell the magazines to publishers, the response was cringe worthy. In the real world, your sales team often has no input into product creation, but you can make sure they know everything about it before they hit the streets.

4 – No Clear Leader

Without a designated leader, your Dubai sales team will fail because they do not know what they are supposed to be doing and start making it up as they go along. There is only one person who disproves this theory in any series of The Apprentice UK, the Irish salesman, Jim Eastwood. Because he is a natural, he can sell just about anything to anyone. However, born salespeople like him are few and far between, and so a designated leader will help steer your sales team to success.

5 – Bad local knowledge

One of the best examples of failed tasks on The Apprentice is the lack of local knowledge. Not knowing where the best place to sell your product means your sales team can work their socks off without making a single sale. If you are launching a new range of frozen yoghurt, which end of the Mall of the Emirates is going to be a prime spot? Or should you be down on the Walk in JBR? Find the sweet spot so your sales team in Dubai can hit their targets.

If you don’t have access to the latest series of The Apprentice, search for ‘The Apprentice UK’ on YouTube.com where you’ll find the best clips from previous series.

 

There is a great debate surrounding over the validity of NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, but the major question for your sales team in Dubai is: can NLP benefit us in a sales situation?

You may not have heard of NLP, but only if you are new to the sales arena, because whether you are a saleswoman in Dubai or a super sales guy in New York, NLP is part of the sales toolkit.

yoda

Can't decide ? Let Yoda persuade you....

Some people believe that is a form of the Jedi Mind Tricks and find it laughable, however, it does well to remember that NLP started life as a therapeutic system to help people overcome problems in their life. The methods used to help people can be used positively to help sales people listen to their customers in a much more productive way. Good practice NLP techniques are also an excellent way to learn how to better communicate how your products will really benefit your customers.

One of the major demands on sales people is to try and persuade the prospective customer that their product is better than the competition’s product. In fact, they have to go one step further and convince the prospect that not only is the product better, it is so good that the customer willingly takes out their wallet and buys it from them.

To do this you have to be persuasive. Some people are naturally good at it and have probably been wrapping the world around their fingers since toddlerhood. Since not everyone has this innate skill, it is fortunate that one aspect of NLP does address this. It is called language patterns and helps you learn how to create a sentence that will direct people’s attention in the direction you want to go: your product!

According to bestselling author, Rintu Basu, there are tried and tested ways to use this technique. An example Basu uses during an interview on Your Charisma Coach, is the sentence: “The issue isn’t x, it is y”. It’s simple way of moving the conversation in the direction you want it to be going in.

Some people feel this conversation management technique intriguing, and at the other extreme there are some who think it is down-right immoral. Now, as a Dubai advertising executive or marketing junior, you are of course trying to get a person to buy your product or service over your competition’s product or service. This is not quite the same as trying to make that person do something they aren’t already thinking of doing.

Because there is a lot of misinformation on the internet about NLP, it is one area where a training course is really beneficial. For a professionally organised, systematic approach that will really give your sales team a boost next time they go to see a potential new client or customer, visit the Institute of Sales and Marketing website for details of their latest courses in Dubai on Professional Selling Skills. You can learn about how NLP can turn you into a more professional questioner, listener and communicator. A soon to be launched course is an NLP sales two day workshop which gives sales professionals a chance to really practice their NLP  sales skills in a safe environment before using them to create rewarding customer relationships.

 

Despite local differences in etiquette, it doesn’t matter if  you want to improve your sales skills in Dubai, London, or Singapore there are four main elements that will improve your sales technique.

1. Be the Adult in the Room

The successful salesperson knows that when they sit down to talk to a client about a product or service, they are the expert in the room on that product or service.

Your customer may have researched you and called you into a meeting, they may know a lot about the different kinds of products available in your industry, but essentially it is you, the company salesperson who knows most about your company’s offering. And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be in the meeting in the first place.

By understanding that you are the most knowledgeable person on your service, you can talk with confidence and be able to show why it’s the right fit for the customer.

2. You are there to sell a product, not make a friend

Getting too close and personal with people in business is not what makes a great salesperson. That doesn’t mean you are have to be cold and impersonal, it means you have to remember the difference between making a friend and making a sale.

3. Ditch the Ego

Johnny Bravo

An over-sized ego could land you in hot water!

Too much bravado, over-confidence or excessive ostentation from you will be off-putting to potential customers. When you walk into a meeting there will be plenty of egos in there already, you don’t need to add yours to the mix. By turning down the volume on you the salesperson, you allow your product or service to get a greater slice of the attention, so it becomes the star of the show.

That doesn’t mean you forget the first point of being the adult in the room: you know your product and you know how it will benefit the customer.

4. Question, then Listen and Watch

One of the big mistakes a salesperson can make is to do all the talking. Firstly, many people think they’ve told you everything about themselves or their business, but every successful salesperson knows that very often the customer hasn’t told the whole story. By asking questions you learn a lot more about what the company needs from your product.

You may think that you have a good idea of how the company can use your products, but by asking the right questions and listening to their answers, by the end of the conversation you will learn what they really need.

Not only does listening to what people say, and watching their body language, give you a better understanding of how you can help that company with your services, it also shows that you have a real interest in their business. That interest will earn you, the salesperson, more respect from the room, and as a consequence you’ve just added a level of respect for your product.

To learn more about how you can really improve your sales technique, the Institute of Sales and Marketing offer professional level courses for successful sales skills in Dubai. Find out more and book a place today http://18.130.2.180/

 

 

Sources:

http://18.130.2.180

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/06/the_seven_personality_traits_o.html

Bill Levell

Bill is Director of courses for ISM training and uses his industry experience to tailor our courses for the Middle East market

The buyer’s perspective is an important area for sales people wishing to enhance their sales process and sales skills to understand. Over the last 3 weeks we have been exploring some perspectives that the buyer may be considering when looking to enter into a business relationship. Here are the final key areas. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 they are archived in the Sales discussion area.

A. Change management

The management of change, both within the agreement and in a wider sense as part of business change programs, is a key issue. Suppliers on strategic service contracts must have a positive approach to change and show evidence of their capabilities in managing it.

B. Service provision and management

  1.    Is there evidence that the supplier has recognised capabilities in relation to service management delivery?
  2.   Are the supplier’s plans for service management adequate, covering resources/capacity/workload, performance, service continuity, charging and ordering, exception reporting and feedback, incident handling, change control, etc?
  3. How will these plans relate to other parts of the supply chain?

C. Resource management

  1.  Does the supplier demonstrate a mature approach to resource risks and contingency management, e.g. in terms of established succession plans?
  2. Is there evidence that the supplier has the necessary processes to ensure that there are sufficient resources available to meet the business workload demands?
  3. Does the supplier have adequate availability plans / future utilisation profiles to demonstrate that key resources can be made available to meet customer service needs?

D. Capacity planning and management

Has the supplier formulated a capacity plan at the appropriate level of detail, taking into account workload predictions, upgrades, and predicted changes?

E. Business continuity and contingency plans

Are the supplier’s plans for contingency and business continuity adequate and appropriate?

F. Strategic management

Does the supplier demonstrate a clear business strategy and vision of the future?Can the supplier’s strategy be progressed alongside the buyer’s strategy, to mutual benefit?

F. Risk management and risk transfer

For some contracts, the supplier’s ability and willingness to take on risk is a central concern. In such cases, evaluation should probe their understanding of and attitude towards the risks involved.

G. Supply chain management

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate how subcontractors and/or consortium members will be organised and managed?

H. Benefits management and delivery

The supplier should have a balanced approach to benefits, delivering those required and linking them with those they seek for themselves.

I. Relationship management

Is the supplier committed to communication and the principle of an open working relationship built on trust? How can they demonstrate this?

This concludes the series on the buyer’s perspective. In a future blog post we will be looking at the other side of the coin the seller’s perspective.


 

In part 2 of  the Buyer’s Perspective , Bill looks at some more key areas that a buyer may raise questions about – from whether your company aims are aligned to theirs to whether you  are able to establish the quality of your product. As a salesperson it is critical to understand their perspective before offering solutions.

4. Shared strategic aims

It is important to identify the supplier’s core business area(s), and whether the buyer’s requirement coincides with it. This will affect how important the contract would be to the supplier if they were to be successful. Consider the organisation’s strategic aims and those of the supplier, how they fit together and the areas where work is required to reconcile them.

Buyer's persperctive

Bill trains by raising questions and challenging you to find solutions through collaboration and simulated exercises

5. Culture

The compatibility between the business cultures of the customer and the supplier will be a key factor in determining the strength of the relationship and therefore the achievement of shared strategic aims.

6. Organisation and management

How does the supplier manage its own business? What tools does it use for quality management, financial management, performance management, contract management, risk management, change management etc?

7. Quality management

Does the supplier have a suitable quality management system and appropriate quality records? Does the organisation have a suitable quality policy and effective quality organisation? Is the supplier’s quality organisation and quality management system of a suitable standard, with demonstrable evidence of continuous service quality improvements in line with customer expectations?

8. Project and programme management

Can the supplier demonstrate experience and expertise in Project Management and/or Programme Management? How will the supplier interface with the project’s programme and project management procedures?

9. Proposed supplier organisation and project staffing

When the supplier’s capability to meet the buyer’s requirements has been established it will then be necessary to consider the organisation and resources the supplier intends to use to manage their responsibilities under any contract that may be awarded. Does the organisational structure of the supplier (or the supply chain they are proposing) enable them to meet the requirement, fulfil expectations of quality, and build a strong working relationship?

10.Technical understanding

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate full understanding of the requirement in all respects, or at least to the level you would expect pre-contract award? Does the supplier demonstrate full technical understanding of their own proposed solution?

11. Proposed management processes

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate their management expertise in processes relevant to the buyer’s requirements? Are the support systems that are in place adequate for the proposed arrangement? Does the supplier’s proposal have a suitable process for controlling changes in requirements?

The final key areas will be discussed next week in this comprehensive series on the Buyer’s perspective. Of course as Bill pointed out in Part 1 not all of these will be applicable during a given sales process , however they are food for thought along the journey to becoming a successful consultative seller.

At ISM Dubai, a course we often run in-house and cover during our selling skills course, is looking at a sale or negotiation from the buying perspective. This holistic approach needs to be understood by sales people  to  help drive their own success. In this three part blog Bill Levell will cover  buyer views comprehensively.

Buyers perspective

Bill , master of sales skills enjoying a quiet moment between activities

From the buyer’s perspective engaging with a potential supplier calls for detailed information gathering through whatever means are appropriate.

There are several key areas to explore in depth through desk research, asking questions and holding discussions to assess suppliers and their proposals in all relevant areas.
Here are some examples of these areas, not all are always essential, and there will be others which I have not listed which are industry/technology specific.

  1. Capability

Does the supplier’s staff have the skills and experience, including specialised technical knowledge that they will need to meet the requirement?

  1. Experience and track record

Past experience should be examined in sufficient detail to give confidence that the supplier has the right ability. This may include visits to customers of the supplier or to the supplier’s premises. The principal objective is to assess how much of the supplier’s experience is relevant to the buyer’s requirements and how they can back up their responses with evidence that they have provided similar solutions before. Questions like:

  1. Has the supplier fulfilled requirements of a similar type, scale and/or complexity before? If they have, was their performance satisfactory?
  2. What problems arose, and how will they be avoided on this contract?
  3. How well does the supplier’s experience and track record back up their proposal?
  4. What evidence is there of the supplier adding value by adopting proactive approaches, making improvements, building strong working relationships and so on?
  5. Can the supplier demonstrate a spirit of co-operation in their past or present customer relationships?
  6. What is the supplier’s track record on team-working, relationship management and/or partnering? What evidence can be sought supporting their proposals on working together?

3. Capacity

It is important to validate the totality of the declared resource skills against overall supplier resources.
If the supplier has high reliance on one major customer, this may present a risk to the project. This does not necessarily mean that the supplier must be rejected out of hand, but the risk should be analysed, considered and managed like other project risks. Questions like:

  1. Does the supplier have adequate capacity and resource for the requirement, both now and in the future?
  2.  How many experienced staff does the supplier have working in relevant areas?
  3. What other contracts does the supplier currently have running that could affect capacity?
  4. What other contracts is the supplier bidding for? If they won them, would this affect capacity available for this requirement?
  5. Does the supplier give sufficient consideration to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to adapt to changing business needs?
  6. Can the supplier demonstrate that it has the necessary resource forecasting experience and perhaps models for capacity planning purposes?
  7. Is there evidence that SLA requirements are used to define availability plans and targets?
  8. Does the supplier monitor actual performance against availability targets?
  9. Does the supplier have adequate methods and procedures for monitoring service capacity and tuning systems performance?

 

The next two parts to this comprehensive look at the Buyer’s perspective will be published in the next fortnight and if you have any thoughts on what else should be included please let us know.

 

 

In today’s market sales professionals can no longer rely on sharp presentation skills and closing techniques. The customer is much more knowledgeable about products and has access to many other buying options thanks to the internet. Consultative selling skills focus on understanding the client’s needs and offering expert value solutions after listening and building a partnership of trust. Whilst many of the techniques of traditional selling are used, the fundamental difference is the sales person must become a consultant, problem solve through common understanding and be willing to offer the best solution even if they don’t close the sale immediately. Over time consultative selling gains customer loyalty by demonstrating integrity ensuring competitive advantage through sustainable business development.
Sam I am

Dr Seuss and Sam the pushy salesman overcoming all objections.

Bill Levell, Director of Courses at Institute of Sales & Marketing, Dubai, believes that the process of consultation and establishing a rapport where the relationship with the client is an advisory one is essential to modern business. The aims are to establish a procedure and standards for client qualification which provides a better idea of the client’s expectations, values and beliefs. Establishing shared visions and understanding the complexity of stakeholder interest within organisations during the pre-qualification process enables effective business consultation. Developing a practical knowledge of NLP (neuro-linguistic-programming) will also enhance the ability to gain support, commitment and buy-in from the stakeholders to build successful relationships.
Once the position of trusted advisor has been established it will be easier to drive projects through to agreement and completion. Since the consultant has invested in relationship building they gain broad insight into the clients business environment, critical drivers, priorities and future business initiatives and will be in a valued position to advise on these.
A consultative value driven approach with strong customer relationships may also prove to be differential during economic downturns and prove to be mutually beneficial with increased business referrals.
Is your phone ringing?