Climb That Tree and Increase Your Sales
Free PDF Download|
Competitiveness, Sense of Humor, Passion and Appreciation - By Gerry Layo
Many companies and industries are being affected by marketplace conditions and economic downturns today. The (new home) housing market that was at an all-time high is in the middle of a substantial downturn. The current situation in the real estate market (interest rates---falling home values---realization of sub-prime adjustable rate mortgage loans) have created a challenge for many industries because it has created a challenge for many of their customers (or customer's customers.) There is less consumer confidence, less disposable income, greater fear, and huge amounts of uncertainty. Many "tenured" salespeople have seen economic swoons like this in the past. It certainly is a time for the stronger sales professional to stand out from the weak. It is during challenging economic times that most salespeople fall victim to what is going on in their marketplace. It is also during these times that a select few sales professionals (the BEST) actually take advantage of the current situation to position themselves as the providers of choice! I have a long time client of mine that I began doing business with back during the hey-day of the dotcom boom. Her firm was in the IT staffing industry in the middle of San Francisco. The customers were all getting in line and fighting (re: willing to pay more) for the right IT professionals to get onto their team to create the next "Killer App." There was competition everywhere and the fruit was hanging low in the tree. Everyone was making money and claiming their stake of the boom.
Throughout this entire time, my client had been working on growing her team through training and coaching in the effort to develop strong relationships and sharper selling skills. They worked hard to position themselves as the "second" go-to vendor in case their prime vendor could not meet their needs. During this time, they also looked at other industries that could be served with their current skill sets and started making in-roads into those industries while their competitors kept fighting over the IT pie.
It is from her lips that the following quote came to life for me, "During a good economy, most of us don't get better, we just make more money!"
This quote has stayed with me over the years and has found its way into my training sessions over the past year. Is it possible that you are in the same boat as many of the competitors of whom she spoke? Is it possible that it is only harder to sell today because it was unreasonably EASY to sell yesterday? Is it possible that your skills got dull? Is it possible that the fruit was hanging so low in your industry "tree" that your people got lazy and riddled with bad habits?
Most salespeople will tell you today that a lot of the business has gone away. The fruit that was once hanging so low in the tree is gone---picked away by the competition---caused to die away by the economy. In fact, it is these statements that trigger the VICTIM mentality and tend to shut down a good portion of the selling efforts. Listen to me: With very few exceptions, there is still plenty of opportunity (fruit) in the tree. Now is the time, however, that we need to learn (or re-learn) how to climb! Now is the time when the "weeding out" process begins. Now is the time when those who "cannot or will not" are replaced by those who can, will, and DO!
This is a time when most companies are faced with a choice---and your company may be staring this down today: Do we pull in the sidewalks (staff cuts, downsizing, etc.) and ride this out or do we refocus the efforts of our sales and service teams? These choices are being made all over the country as we speak. What choice are you leaning towards?
If you choose to re-engage, re-charge, and fight, then it is time to "take out the ladder" and climb that tree. The "ladder" has been tucked away for sometime so perhaps you may have forgotten what it looks like and how to use it. Let's see if we can identify the THREE CRUCIAL RUNGS on the ladder to assist in your ascent:
During a trying selling environment, many salespeople hold a "The grass is always greener" thought process. In other words, the thoughts of self-doubt, marketplace doubt, customer doubt, and "Am I in the right place?" doubt start kicking in and thus, they begin to begin to look around for new opportunity. You cannot blame them; their commissions are down, the customers are buying less, their prospects are in hiding, and very few risks are being taken by their customers. It's gloomy---it's dark---it is very challenging.
This type of situation is very dangerous for your company! With uncertainty in the minds of your sales force, nothing happens! It is time to circle the wagons and gain commitment from your team. It is time for a COACH (you) to gauge your team's level of "buy-in."
The sport (?) of Texas Hold-Em poker has become very popular today. Many times, tournaments are broadcast on television and online games are being held around the clock and across the globe. My favorite part is when a player is dealt a hand and, based upon his hand-or his strategy-pushes all of his chips (money) into the center of the table and declares that he is "All-In!" This means that he is betting every dollar on this one hand and that he is fully committed to winning it! The beauty of this in my mind is that it leaves no wiggle room-no back door! One hundred percent of his effort and focus is on the next few cards and he has no way out---no option but to see this hand through to the end.
Pull your sales team together NOW and figure out who is "All-In." It is my belief that we, in the profession of sales, are either All-In or somewhat OUT. The latter of the two options can create major dysfunction in your sales organization and lost opportunity for your company. It is often the "glue" created by the leader giving solid guidance and coaching during this time that is needed most. Decide right now WHAT you need your people doing and HOW! Gain (or Re-Gain) their buy-in to the growth necessary to fight today's battles. Those who are ALL-IN belong and those who are not.............?
What is it that your customers are going through today that is posing a challenge in their business? What is it that they value today? What is it that they want to accomplish more than anything in the upcoming 24 months?
Too often, there is a tendency to turn very transaction oriented in an economic downturn. We are too often more concerned with getting something (a deal/a sale) done that we lose focus on getting the right things done! We make concessions, lower prices and hope to hold on---in fact, only adding to our problems through margin erosion. We even train our customers to beat us up for lower prices and unhealthy terms. That is not adding value to your customers---that is only subtracting value for you!
It is now that you need to turn your focus on your customer's needs. Most times, a customer does not really want to own your product or service. Instead, they want to experience a BENEFIT. So what does your product or service DO FOR your customer and how can you add to that in tough economic times? What is it that you can add to their business that your competition cannot or will not? Figure this out and turn your attention to this VALUE. Take action today!
TRAIN TO GAIN
Two of the things that get dropped from the focus (and budget) are training and marketing---two of the main things that drive new sales and account penetration! Sales Managers at this time typically focus on more activity; "Make more calls, see more people, get out there and fight!" The skill sets of our people need to be re-tooled constantly-especially in more challenging selling environments. Here is a very valuable exercise for you to go through with your team:
Identify the areas in which your salespeople need improvement. Not sure what areas these are? Then I suggest that you need to get out into the sales process with them! In the meantime, here are a few ideas:
Prospecting-If today's clients are buying less and/or less often, it is imperative that we refocus the efforts of our sales team towards the identification and pursuit of new opportunity. Many of your salespeople have not been focused heavily enough on properly becoming visible. Now is the time to develop and track a New Business Development Plan with your team and schedule time every day to take action on it!
Questioning-The approach that your salespeople take every day with their prospects, customers and clients needs to be very focused. We need to communicate to the customer that we are focused on their issues and challenges---that we are different from our transactional competitors. This occurs with very focused, well prepared, customer focused questions. Think! Prepare! Ask!
Listening-What do you need your customer to admit to you, to share with you so that you might identify opportunity to serve them? What is it that you need to hear from them? Our sales training programs tend to be too focused on what to say and not enough on what we need to hear. Engage in an exercise to teach your salespeople to re-engage with their customers and to LISTEN with the intent to UNDERSTAND! If you are willing to listen to your customers, it can be amazing how clear they can be about how you need to run your business.
Networking-Now is an incredibly opportune time to work with your salespeople on how to effectively generate new leads for your organization through their visibility efforts in networking. I see to many salespeople mistaking the word not-working with networking. Develop a plan to sharpen your people's networking skills today and begin scheduling specific opportunities to get out there and make the rain!
Referral Generation-The customers that buy from you today represent a substantial opportunity to help you grow your business. If you are turning (or returning) your team's focus to adding VALUE to the customer as I mentioned above, you will earn the right to ask for VALUE in return. That should come in the form of referrals. Build a referral generation plan today and take immediate action on it!
By returning your focus to climbing the tree to get to the fruit you will re-establish control of your growth again. Take these three steps on the ladder to start your "climbing journey" today. The fruit is up there---you just have to go up and get it! By re-focusing with your salespeople on these three rungs on the ladder (All-In, Add Value, and Training/ReTraining) you can recapture the hearts and minds of your team and arm them with some forgotten weapons to differentiate themselves, and thus your company, in the marketplace.
Related ArticlesClimb the career ladder or perch in a tree: It’s not always about promotion
Grow your own way
Exploring The 3Rs of Leadership
The Chinese Bamboo Tree
Attitude – Complaints Drive Away Contentment
Being prosperous is your job
Entrepreneurs Persist To The End
Your thought leadership is like a Christmas tree
Success is your Baby
How to Lead the Masses
Reaching Your Small Business Sales And Marketing Goals
Employers: Using a recruitment agency: the pros and cons!
Find your Genius
Finding More Followers on Twitter
Too Many Ladders? by Robin J Elliott
The Right Real Estate Offer
Lessons from the Top of the World
Increase Sales By Adopting Superman Or Superwoman Sales Beliefs
Hard Work Never Made anyone Rich!
Money DOES Grow on Trees
Free PDF Download|
Competitiveness, Sense of Humor, Passion and Appreciation - By Gerry Layo
About the Author: Gerry Layo
RSS for Gerry's articles - Visit Gerry's website
Gerry Layo is the author of Smart Selling and is a sought after speaker/trainer offering world-class keynote addresses and workshops in the areas of Sales, Sales Leadership and Customer Service. As CEO (Chief Energizing Officer) of Sales Coach International, Gerry works with thousands of salespeople, leaders and customer service professionals every year as a speaker, trainer and coach. Feel free to visit at www.GerryLayo.com
Click here to visit Gerry's website.
More from Gerry Layo
Goal Setting Worksheets
Related Forum PostsOnline Sales and Marketing vs Traditional
Re: Online Sales and Marketing vs Traditional
Re: Alexa Rank - How To Get A Better Alexa Ranking
Increase Productivity and Profits on the Web
Share this article. Fund someone's dream.
|Today’s Profiles of Entrepreneurship in Africa: Aliko Dangote|
|Is Your Business Tough Enough to Survive Recession?|
|Features of Kall8 Phone Service|
|Catch Someone Doing Something Right|
|How to Listen like a Detective|
By: Evan Carmichael
||Like this page? PLEASE +1 it!|
Get advice & tips from famous business
owners, new articles by entrepreneur
experts, my latest website updates, &
special sneak peaks at what's to come!
6 Things to Do With Your Tax Refund.
The Bounce Back Book by Karen Salmansohn
How To Spot Biggest Applicant Lies
Email us your ideas on how to make our
website more valuable! Thank you Sharon
from Toronto Salsa Lessons / Classes for
your suggestions to make the newsletter
look like the website and profile younger
entrepreneurs like Jennifer Lopez.