Sales Training – Rainmaking: Is it a Feature or a Benefit? How do you know?#1

Is it a Feature or a Benefit? How do you know ?

This came up again last week in a Sales Training workshop.
This time to a group of experienced business advisors.
Mostly Grey-Hairs, like me ?

We were on the Workshop session called Building your Compelling Business case…

There was lots of push back voiced as
“You don’t understand”
“People buy from people”
“They’ve got to trust you to go on the journey with them”
“It’s not just about the numbers”
“You can’t ask these kind of questions because they won’t know the answers” …

I have to say that for most of it I did say that I was in “Violent Agreement” …

However I did stand my ground and we agreed that at some point in the buying selling process that there is a “Weigh-In”
In the red corner is the COSTS AND RISKS to the business of going ahead with the project.
In the blue corner there are the BENEFITS to the business of going ahead…

Our job, I would suggest, is to help them and us to QUICKLY assess whether the Blue outweighs the Red…

If the Red outweighs the Blue then we need to move on quickly.
Why? Because unless TAMO selling is your trade (Then A Miracle Occured) your chances of success are low.
You will need to find a new prospect because this one won’t give you the deal you seek.

A little on Features VS Benefits
Working definitions…
A feature is a fact, detail, or description about your services.
A benefit is the positive result your client achieves from working with you.

Simple? Hmmmm Sometimes features sound suspiciously like benefits.

A few examples:
An IT consultant: He says “I help small businesses that are losing time and money due to computer problems.”
Sounds like a benefit. Looks like a benefit. It has money and time in the sentance..
Ahhhh NO it’s actually just a description of the consultant’s target market: businesses with computer problems.
That’s a feature of the consultant’s business.

A graphic designer: “I produce creative and attractive logos, business cards, and brochures.”
Should be obvious. It’s describing a feature…

A management consultant says “We conduct Strategy Planning Workshops using the Rainmaker Accelerate Process”
Describing the process they will use rather than the results is often a trap fallen into by services focused people …
Sorry again, this is a feature.

Is there ever a time to talk about features?
Certainly. Describing features can help you attract the right clients and let them know you have what they are seeking.
A copywriter who specializes in direct mail and ad copy should say so to distinguish himself from someone who writes primarily for websites and brochures.
An accountant who primarily serves business clients rather than individuals should make that clear.
But once you’ve covered the basics of who you serve and what you provide, it’s time to tell your prospects what they’ll get from working with you.

Ok Ok tell me then what is a benefit?
I believe that a Benefit can only come in 5 forms and answers these questions…

1. To what extent does what you do result in your client growing their revenues?
Finding new markets?
Getting to market quicker?
Getting to more prospects sooner?

2. By how much does what you do typically result in your client reducing their cost per transaction?
(Their costs may go up but their costs of processing an order etc should decrease)
Could they get more use out their assets?
Can they produce more with less effort?

3. In what way does what you do typically increase your clients employees productivity and engagement in the business
Can their employees do things faster (Pen vs Computer?)
What processes can be automated / Done away with?

4. In what way does what you will do with your client enable them to satisfy the needs of their clients?
Happier employees deliver better service to clients who become loyal and buy more at a lower cost of sales…

5. How do you enable your client to be compliant with the law of the land / Standards in place at the time?
Sarbannes-Oxley in the accounting world.
Disability access to buildings in offices

Don’t miss next times exciting episode when we give you a real example of a case of Benefits….

Sales Training – Rainmaking: Cross-selling is a major challenge for many companies.

Cross-selling is a major challenge for many companies.

Bringing in new customers is expensive.
According to research by Bain & Company, it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer.

So why do so many companies still have untapped opportunities for growing existing accounts

and yet they find capturing those opportunities so difficult

and  What is it that the successful cross-sellers do differently?

Here are our views..

1. Asking more Questions than their Competitors

Giving key people good sets of questions that will uncover opportunities
This rather than trying to get them to learn ALL about YOUR many services and their respective benefits
By doing this you force your team to be Interested in your clients businesses
This will feel really great for your clients
Your team will uncover buyers’ needs and drive demand for your existing services offerings.
After all there is No point asking a question about a service you don’t offer.
The most successful companies at cross-selling know where they provide value.
They discover what the customers issues are and they by asking questions create opportunities to connect the two.

2. Develop Strong Relationships up and down and across your clients organisation

Have objectives for account team members that measure how many relationships they’ve established
Viewing relationships as “our company to their organisation” as well as “me to my client.”
Develop deep relationships with their customers. That way when someone leaves the business still flows.
Your team are viewed by the clients as essential, Trusted and the “GoTo” people.

3. Have the Right Team and add to it if opportunities emerge

Once you discover an opportunity you need a great process for co-creating value with customers:
Successful Cross-sellers quickly assemble the right players on their team and work collaboratively with the client to construct new ways of delivering value.
High performers are much more likely to cite “creating team-based approaches” as effective for growing accounts.

4. Use Account Management Processes and Planning Tools

Having an effective strategic account planning tool and process is essential.
Develop the plan , execute the plan, review the plan and learn and repeat

5. Develop both Account Management Skills and Sales Skills

You will need strong sales skills somewhere on the team to be able to close the opportunities you create or your process and plan may fail

For many companies trying to adopt this approach may well mean an overhaul of culture and processes…

Maybe that’s perhaps why companies find cross selling so hard.
What do you think?

 

Sales Training – Rainmaking : Handling the Price Objection (and others)

Handling the Price Objection (and others)

“A person’s worth in this world is estimated according to the value they put on themselves.” Jean De La Bruyere

or if you prefer “If you really do put a small value upon yourself,
rest assured that the world will not raise your price”- Anonymous

“Your fees are just too high”
or  “We have an offer from someone who will do it for less”
or “I don’t see why I have to pay all that money just to have you create a plan”

When we hear those things said…How many of us try simply to lower our fees to get the work?
Especially if we are selling ourselves to deliver the service

However once we lowering our fees for a particular piece of work, we have established our value at that lower amount.
As above If we put a low value on our own work, certainly no one else is going to suggest our value is any higher.

Why do so many of us do this?

Let’s take a look at where objections fit into professional services selling.

Often an objection is seen as a sign of rejection.
However most objections can be overcome with a little effort.

Objections signal usually one thing.
There’s some kind of barrier to overcome in the mind of your prospective client.
Other objections, on the other hand, may simply be questions that have yet to be answered.
Others may be a true obstacle that may need further investigation to truly understand and a modification made to the plan

Your objective: Test if the objection is real and if so overcome it somehow:

We suggest that you might use our 4 C’s approach

1. Clarification :
Ask lots of questions to help you really understand the issue being raised
Listen with two ears and one mouth!
Establish that it’s real and not game playing or negotiating.
Explore the implications and knock-on timing effects

2. Communication:
Play back to your prospect (Parrot-Phrase not Paraphrase here!)
Say back to them what is your understanding of what they just said
Revisit the benefits and roi of the project. Do they really believe their numbers?
Reiterate and your track record of delivering

3. Co-Creation:
Work with them to come up with a solution that does not mean you drop your price.
Explore with them different options on payments
Explore different ways of delivering the benefits and changing the price or phasing of payments
Remember you are equal partners on this, you have a business too.
Ask yourself (a bit late) if you dealing with the right level of person here

4. Confirmation:
Get them to say that this solution is acceptable and there are no further objections.

Then … If all of these tactics still don’t work and you still firmly and confidently believe you have fairly priced your products and services…
and provided the solution you know will help the prospect….
And your prospect says “Your fees are too high” . We suggest that you are in the wrong place.
Walk away. Head held high.

Go find someone who does appreciate what you do. And will pay for it.

Business Skills: Follow ups vs Stalking? 5 tips

I had a phone conversation with someone seeking a new job and I’m working with them to help them do that.

It was about his job search and it  went something like this:
Candidate: I wrote to him last week and still haven’t heard back. It’s so frustrating.
Me: Why not follow up and check in?
Candidate: But I don’t want to appear a stalker !!.

His fear is understandable.
No one wants to be considered a stalker by a professional contact.
That’s especially when you want a job, meeting,a yes to an order, or something else very important from that person.

Let’s get serious though for a minute…
The average business person certainly one who can hire people and approve  orders can get > two hundred emails a day.
Pretty tough to respond to all of them, and if things fall off the bottom of that screen…
Then it’s natural for them to fall to the bottom of their list.
If you don’t get a response, it does not mean that someone’s ignoring you or finds you a pain

Reframe it to yourself and understand that they want to help you.
Your job is to make it easy for them to help you.
However it just may be that they are just too busy.

Should you follow up? Absolutely.  In fact, it’s your job.

Question is: How often should you do so?

Answer is;  “As many times as it takes.

However please do it the right way.
Be  “pleasantly persistent.”
Here are a few tips on how to (nicely) follow up with that hiring manager, sales lead, or VIP—and get the answer you’re looking for.

Rule 1: Be Overly Polite and Humble

That seems obvious enough, but a lot of people take it personally when they don’t hear back from someone right away.
Resist the urge to get upset or mad.
Never take your feelings out in an email.
Never say something like, “You haven’t responded yet,” or “You ignored my first email.”
Try…  ” I naturally assume that you are up to your neck in Muck and Bullets as usual ” ?

Just maintain an extremely polite tone throughout the entire email thread.
Showing that you’re friendly and that you understand how busy your contact is is a good way to keep him or her interested (and not mad).

Rule 2: Please not Every Day

Sending a follow-up email every day doesn’t show you have determination.
Actually  it shows you don’t respect a person’s time and don’t understand how busy people are at work and play.
A good rule of thumb is to allow a week before following up.
Any sooner, and it might come off as pushy;
If you let too much time pass, you risk the other person forgetting who you are.
Start off with an email every week, and then switch to every couple of weeks.

Rule 3: Ask if You Should Stop Bothering them

If you’ve followed up a few times and still haven’t heard back, it’s worth directly asking if you should stop following up.
After all, you don’t want to waste your time, either.
Try “I know how busy you are and completely understand if you just haven’t had the time to reply.
I don’t want to bombard you with emails if you’re not interested.
I’ve been around long enough to know that a “YES” is Great …
A “NO” is clear but disappointing but actually preferable to
a “POSSIBLY” because that means we can’t move on..
Just let me know if you’d prefer I stop following up.”

Most people respect honesty and don’t want to waste someone’s time, and they’ll at least let you know one way or another.

Rule 4: Stand Out…. But in a Good Way

I once had someone trying to sell me something…
I was vaguely interested in it.
However it was, at that time, nowhere near the top of my priority list.

Every week, he’d send me a new email quickly re-explaining what he sold
However he also copied links to stuff relevant to my job and commented on them.
It made him stand out in a good way, and as a result, we eventually had a call.
The lesson: If done well, a little creativity in your follow up can go a long way.

Rule 5: Change your approach

If you’re not connecting with someone, try changing your approach
Try sending email at different times and days of the week.
Sometimes responses can depend on catching them at the right time.
Try a phone call early in the morning before the gatekeeper has got in or in the evening when they’ve gone home?
Senior people do get in early and stay late I find…

Do Remember this though : If someone does ask you to stop following up… Then you must stop following up.
‘cos that is then STALKING and we don’t do that. Do we?

But until you hear that, it’s your responsibility to keep trying.

Sales Training – Rainmaking: Is it a Feature or a Benefit? How do you know ?#2

Is it a Feature or a Benefit? How do you know ? (contd)

At some point in the buying selling process we agreed that there is a “Weigh-In”
In the red corner is the Cost and Risks to the business of going ahead with the project.
In the blue corner there are the BENEFITS to the business of going ahead…

Our job I would suggest is to help them and us to QUICKLY assess whether the Blue outweighs the Red…

If the Red outweighs the Blue then we need to move on quickly.
Why? Because unless TAMO selling is your trade (Then A Miracle Occurs ) your chances of success are low.
You will need to find a new prospect because this one won’t give you the deal you seek.
Ok Ok tell me then what is a benefit?
I believe that a Benefit can only come in 5 forms and answers these questions by quantifying the benefits.

1. To what extent does what you do result in your client growing their revenues?
Finding new markets?
Getting to market quicker?
Getting to more prospects sooner?

2. To what extent does what you do result in your client reducing their cost per transaction?
(Their costs may go up but their costs of processing an order etc should decrease)
Could they get more use out their assets?
Can they produce more with less effort?

3. In what way does what you do increase your clients employees productivity and engagement in the business
Can their employees do things faster (Pen vs Computer?)
What processes can be automated / Done away with?

4. In what way does what you will do with your client enable them to satisfy the needs of their clients?
Happier employees deliver better service to clients who become loyal and buy more at a lower cost of sales…

5. How do you enable your client to be compliant with the law of the land / Standards in place at the time?
Sarbannes-Oxley in the accounting world.
Disability access to buildings in offices

Consider this potential sale of an Outsourced IT Security system to a prospect..

Solution is that …. We offer to outsource the IT Security of our client’s systems.

Benefit Area 1.
It will by operating all the time (not just when they have staff available
It enables them to offer their products and services on the web 24x7x365 without taking on extra staff.

Benefit 3. Employees more Productive :
IT Departments always have a long list of projects “To-Do” that they never quite “Do”
We free up resources in the IT Department
This enables them to focus on other projects that will also deliver benefits to their business.
It also enables their sales and services deliverers to work from home.

Other Benefits that may be possible

Revenues may increase as a result of now being able to offer their products securely and with someone in attendance 24 x 7 x 365 ??
Sales and services people will have more time to generate proposals?
Costs will decrease as we will share the costs of monitoring with our other clients and automate the processes by investing.
We will save them hiring skilled IT Security people?
Employee productivity will improve as the systems will be less likely to be hacked?
We will do what they did less expensively?
Their Customer Satisfaction should improve as their systems have fewer failures and their customers trust them more?

Trying to Quantify the benefits with the customer?? Ask these kind of questions

What if they make 1% more sales?
How much is that worth @ the average profit margin?

What if they save hiring 1 more person @ £100k all up costs per year (x 5 years??)
Is that £500k vs Your outsourcing costs over that period??

What if the employees sell another 1% more due to better system reliability and being able to get 10% more proposals out on time?

What if loyal Customers re-purchase at lower sales costs ??
What could that be? Conservatively 1% vs 5% lower sales costs? What are your sales costs today?

No one in IT is made redundant they are merely re-deployed onto different projects that they would not normally do so no redundancy money is paid out.
What would those projects be worth to the business? How much might we claim that we are enabling those? What % 2% ?

If you’re not sure if your offers are features or benefits, here’s the test:
Do your words describe what you do and how you do it, or do they focus on what your client wants and gets?
When you talk about yourself or your work, you are almost always stating a feature.
When you talk about your clients and their desires, odds are you are naming a benefit.

If you have any great compelling business cases we’d love to see them.