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Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

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Sales training often seems to be different versions of the same thing.  So what’s really new?  I think when you’re teaching prospecting or finding new business, you really should be talking about social networking.  This is especially true if your customers are under 30.  The picture above shows many of the sites that provide lots of free opportunities to network with people around the world.

I started searching for articles that would show the best strategy and what I found were a lot of promos for marketing help and offers to buy sales training.  Not as helpful as I’d like.  So I’m going to give it a shot.  Here’s what I’d do.

  • First, I’d set up a blog.  Write articles and invite others to comment on you are of interest that relates to what you’re selling or what you’re company does.  If, you’re in health care write about health care.  If you sell cars, write about cars.  Use this blog as your home base and as a way to establish you’re expertise.  Forget about selling at this point, you’re building your network of contacts. 
  • Second, put your blog address on your business card and emails.  As you do this keep in mind that what you write might be read by potential customers so keep it professional. 
  • Third, start by search for and commenting on similar blogs and see if you can do a link exchange in your blogroll.
  • Fourth, use lots of tags that will help others with your interests can find your blog.
  • Fifth, start to explore the related concepts and other free services.  Try a blog carnival.  Try a blog talk radio show.  Post your site on all the blog catalogs. 
  • Sixth, check your traffic.  What are people searching on and how do they find you?  Can you cater to those interests?  See if it leads you to other sites that you can model after.

I’m going to stop here and ask for your ideas.  What’s worked well and what should be guidelines to follow.  There are so many options and services it’s hard to choose.  Could this be a the new rotary club or chamber of commerce.  Give your thoughts.

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One of the great challenges in working on training or any other kind of major initiatives is how to build support and consensus while leading to a successful conclution.  That’s where good consulting skills come in. 

As a side not, I had a discussion the other day about the difference between consultative selling and consulting.  Consultative selling is a style of selling where you identify customer needs, issues and problems and then present an appropriate solution.  In consulting, you’re taking customers through a displined process or problem solving while applying your expertise.  In consulting, you are often the product or service.

Here’s probably the best book to start with Peter Blocks, Flawless Consulting, a guide to getting your expertise used.   The techniques and methodologies are good for both internal and external consulting.

consulting_.jpg  Here’s a link.

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Well, I’m not sure how to do this but it’s a great sounding title.  Maybe the little video from the Viral Learning Center will help. 

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One of the most important skills you can learn in life is how to sell.  It’s part of everything you do in your personal and business life.  It’s really all about how do you get other people excited about your ideas and getting them to agree with you.

 Unfortunately, there is a strong bias in educations and schools against selling.  So it doesn’t happen.  In fact, selling gets loaded up with a lot of negative connotations.  It’s really a disservice to kids.

Learning to sell is really about how to build rapport and connect with others, how to listen and ask great questions, how to present ideas and concepts in a way that persuades, and how to reach agreement and concensus.  Is this as important as learning to read?  Is it as important as memorizing the date of the Norman Conquest?

One of the key things about learning to sell is that it takes lots and lots of practice.  Getting started early is a big help.

So for all of you who have a chance to do something different than traditional school, I suggest adding sales to the curriculum.

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Is It Open or Closed?

30338791.jpg In training, we always try to use models, theories and paradigms to describe the world in a way that changes performance by tomorrow afternoon.  I’ve found that even the simplest models are difficult or impractical to use.  We’ve been teaching features and benefits to salespeople for 50 years, yet I can’t find two salespeople who can agree on what’s a feature and what’s a benefit.  Plus they don’t really talk that way in front of customers.

My favorite is the concept of open and closed ended questions.  This is a model that works pretty good on surveys where you can do forced choice questions and answers.  In reality, there are no open or closed questions, there are only open and closed answers.  Here’s my point.  Take a nice closed ended question like “Did you eat breakfast this morning?”  Some people will answers this question with a Yes or No like their supposed to.  But don’t we know other people who will give you a half an hour explanation about why they didn’t eat breakfast or run down the entire menu and how they cooked each item.

Not convinced.  Let’s talk a nice open ended question like “How was school today?”  You probably wanted to know more than “okay.”  No, I mean tell me about what you learned in school today.  “Not much.”  I always liked the part on the old Pee Wee Hermann show where he’d ask, “Hey Billy, How’d you like school.”  Billy, “Closed.”

I think it’s a much better idea to focus on the list of questions you want salespeople to ask and then teach them what to do if they can’t get the customer to open up and what to do when they want the customer to shut up.

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