Many business owners admit to fearing sales. The thought of selling their goods and services is enough to make them break into a cold sweat.
If you’re scared of sales, pause for a moment and think about what a sale is. At its core, a sale is an agreement between two people. One person agrees to supply goods or services. The other person agrees to buy the goods or services, for an agreed price.
The very heart of sales is an agreement between two people. Sometimes we’ve forgotten the power of personal contact. Listening to clients, making time for them, providing solutions to their problems – these things never go out of fashion. Yes – that’s right! People buy from people.
Next time you’re at a function and you meet a potential client, remember that they are a person first, and a potential client second. Take the time to understand their story. Listen to their pain points. Have one or two good sentences (your elevator pitch!) that you can say about your business. Then, suggest a coffee catch up. They’ll probably say yes!
Why? In experience, it’s a rare man or woman who says ‘no’ to a suggestion to catch up for coffee. When two people sit down over a cup of coffee (or tea), they relax. Even the person who says, ‘I’m happy with my current supplier’ will often say ‘Yes’ to a coffee catch up. When you’re sitting having coffee, relaxing, you might just discover more of their pain points.
You might not realise it, but you’re already starting the sales journey together. Whether they buy from you now or in the future, that person you’re having coffee with is evaluating whether they’d like to deal with you. That’s right – you, as a person.
Think of sales as an opportunity to meet some great people, learn more about them, and then to share how you can help them.
As Zig Ziglar says ‘Stop selling. Start helping’. Focus on how you can help people. Any fear of sales will soon go – all you’re doing is helping people to understand the options available to them. Your sales will just naturally ‘close’ if you focus on helping those ideal clients.
Yes - People buy from people. We love how that still works!
The best sales breakthrough tool ever encountered is good old-fashioned follow up. This holds true whether we’re talking social selling, combination selling, face to face selling, telephone selling.
These interesting statistics from the National Sales Executive Association regularly go around LinkedIn:
48% of salespeople never follow up with a prospect
25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop
12% of salespeople make more than three contacts
2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
When I checked closely, I could not find any real information about the National Sales Executive Association. One writer says - this association has been made up! Even so - from the range of sales situations Magnify has been involved in, these statistics are surprisingly accurate for most businesses. In some industries, you may need even more contact points before a sale is confirmed.
Some clients like to dialogue via email. Some clients appreciate telephone calls or perhaps a Zoom meeting. Still others appreciate timely follow up via a LinkedIn message. Increasingly, clients appreciate a combination of all our sales tools.
It doesn’t matter how you follow up – just do it! From these statistics, we can see that the bulk of sales are won not necessarily by the best company, but by the company whose salespeople follow up consistently.
Is there heavy competition in your industry? Blitz the competition by creating and maintaining great sales follow up processes.
Consistent follow up shows our prospective clients far more than we can imagine. We demonstrate client commitment, we build trust, we show sincerity. When we space our follow up contact appropriately, we give respect. Ultimately, we connect as people.
We have so many tools available now, it’s easy to become distracted and let the tools do the talking for us.
What I’ve personally found over my many years of sales is that, in the end, it’s not about the tools. When I began my sales career, I thought it was about which salesperson had the best, glossiest brochures. Now, we could be tempted to think that it’s about who has the best website.
Don’t get me wrong – those things are certainly important ways that our prospective clients validate our high-value offerings. We need to remember that they are just tools. It's the one who holds the tool who decides just how effectively the tool is used.
Sometimes we’ve forgotten the power of personal contact. Listening to clients, making time for them, providing solutions to their problems – these things never go out of fashion. Yes – that’s right! People buy from people. We love how that still works!
Many of us have seen the ongoing saga in the NZ Herald this week, of a customer wondering just how much water came out of the chicken breasts when he went to cook a lovely stir-fried meal. This story has created such an uproar that Newshub’s Tristram Clayton was filmed cooking his 1 kg of chicken, and measuring the water that came out.
The question everyone’s asking is this – Did someone add water into the chicken breasts, to make them appear larger (so they appeal to the customer) and/or to make them weigh more (so the customer gets charged more)?
This story highlights the importance of integrity in sales and in our customer relationships.
Even more staggering - integrity might just be the most under-utilised tool in many companies’ sales arsenals. I heard an incredible definition of ‘Integrity’ several years ago. Allow me to share – ‘Integrity is who you are in the dark when no-one else can see’. The funny thing about integrity is that it is often revealed later – so it’s wise to operate with integrity even when no-one can see.
Some of you might already be laughing. Sadly, the image persists of the used-car salesperson, spinning a good yarn to flick on another rubbish vehicle to a poor unsuspecting customer. Can integrity and sales exist together?
Yes, they can. And yes, they should.
Telling the truth to our customers is often how our businesses can demonstrate integrity. Sometimes, it will cost you a sale. This happened recently here at Magnify. We exist to grow sales and grow business for our customers. Trust is an important part of our client relationships. Clients trust Magnify to tell them the truth about their sales needs.
In one case, a recent potential customer was keen to get started on their sales campaign. However, their website was just a simple landing page, and as such, it did not support their high-value offering. Buying processes have radically changed. Before purchasing, potential customers will look online to validate your high-value offering. If your website needs serious help, or if you don’t even have a website – you’re in trouble.
The truth of the matter was – we could get started on the customer’s sales campaign. And some good things would happen, because Magnify is good at sales. However, the customer would obtain far more benefit by having a decent website, which validated their high-value offering.
So, at the risk of losing a sale and offending the customer forever, I told them the truth about their website. I also suggested a website designer I know who creates quality websites at an affordable starting price; they’re now working together to craft just the right website for this business.
In another situation, I told a customer the truth about how little time they needed to achieve a small sales goal. Potentially, this meant a much smaller sale for Magnify.
Recently, I’ve been impressed with the integrity displayed by a couple of other businesses whom I referred Magnify clients to. In each case, these businesses have told the truth to their new potential client about what the client needs. The website designer is very honest with her clients, a branding specialist is also honest with his clients.
Sometimes integrity means a delayed sale, or perhaps no sale. This can be a challenging result to live with when you want to make budget.
What I love about these two suppliers is that they value Magnify clients as much as we do. Their integrity makes me more inclined to refer new business to them – because I want the best for anyone that I refer, as I’m sure all of us do.
Integrity may cost you a sale in the short-term. Long-term, integrity protects your business reputation, which ultimately increases your sales. When those customers are market-ready, you will get to talk to them again. And you'll get better results because you've done the right thing to create those results. Even more exciting news - the customers will tell their contacts that you are honest to deal with.
So – what about the chicken breasts? Is there water in them? From today’s news story, we can see how important it is that customers can trust what we’re saying about our products and services.
Integrity is important. Tell the truth. Your customers will benefit, and you will too!
Magnify your business with a well-written blog. Promoting your posts via social media will really get your business messages out to your current and your future customers.
There are some incredible business writers and publications available. Here are a few of the Magnify favourites:
NZ Entrepreneur Magazine. Full of interesting articles, this writing courageously asks the hard questions that many of us are secretly wondering about. See this recent feature article by Sandy Geyer ‘Will running a business together ruin our marriage?’. Or this article by Richard Liew on ‘Five questions every entrepreneur should ask when people offer advice’. Even better – it’s free to your inbox each Tuesday.
SmartCompany. If you want to know business news from the Eastern Island – aka Australia – just check this out. Not only will you find helpful tips such as ‘Five golden rules for getting your emails and letter read’, you will also be able to keep up with changing legislation in Australia. This is particularly useful if you have Australian clients and/or suppliers. Another great source of inspiration that's free to your inbox.
The Sydney Morning Herald – specifically – the Business Section. What a fabulously well laid-out newspaper! By the time you’ve eaten your marmite and toast, you’ll still only be scratching the surface of their daily spread of business news.
The Story of Telling – by Bernadette Jiwa. Every couple of days, readers are treated to new sales and marketing insights, direct to their email inbox. This woman packs more punch in three paragraphs than you might think humanly possible. Her posts often pose challenging questions that can transform your business thinking, if you let them. Check out ‘The Value Question’, ‘The Patient Marketer’ or ‘Are You Pressing The Right Buttons?’. Bernadette also has a new book - ‘Hunch: Turn Your Everyday Insights Into The Next Big Thing’.
WizeUp. Inspiration from successful NZ entrepreneurs, sharing their pearls of wisdom. You’ll find contributions from famous names like Laura Humphreys, Mike Brunel, Tami Louisson and more. This is a great business resource for practical questions and for business inspiration.
And now it’s your turn to write - start Magnifying your Business with some great business writing!
'Eat the Elephant one bite at a time' - a famous saying you'll often hear when you're attempting a very large task, or aiming for a very difficult goal. Sales is about satisfying customer needs, and achieving our own business goals in the process.
Many sales people want low-hanging, easy fruit – sales that literally fall into their hands. Certainly, if you’ve got a cash-flow crisis, those low-hanging fruit type of sales are vital. If those sales are that easy to close, you should be definitely be capturing them for your company's budget.
However, the sales we all long for, the really big ones, are often more of a slow-burn. If you can look at new business development, knowing that it's a big task ahead of you, you will have a more realistic idea of just what it will take to break through into big new client opportunities.
There is only so much time in the day. Many salespeople will give up on those large sales, because they do take more effort to win.
It’s not a matter of having to choose between lots of smaller sales and a few bigger sales. It’s a matter of creating a new business development plan that allows you to develop multiple income streams for your business.
It can take months to get some very large sales over the line. During that time, you could be selling to multiple smaller clients, while you continue to chip away at the big new potential clients you’d like to win.
Prioritise your time. Book in some time for long-term new business development each day, and keep that time sacrosanct. Large sales happen just like eating the elephant - one bite at a time, one email at a time, one phone call at a time, one coffee at a time.
So take heart. The elephant you're facing will get smaller, you will start to make progress.
And your company’s sales figures will be very full once you’ve finally eaten that new business development elephant!
True new business development happens when sales people actively develop relationships with new prospective clients, whom they hope to sell to.
The internet has taken a lot of the hard work out of the ‘hunting’ part of sales. For many sales people, ‘business as usual’ means relating with current clients to keep them happy, making sure that their changing needs are met. It also means networking, report writing, tenders and proposals. ‘New business development’ is often now interpreted as ‘responding to enquiry from your company website’.
Three true new business development campaigns Magnify has helped with stand out for a very strange reason. Each campaign has involved researching the best people to contact, preparing sales collateral, planning the sales process, approaching the prospective new clients, building relationship, and creating opportunities for our clients to start conversations that lead to large sales.
These three campaigns all have this fact in common - you could count on one hand the number of times a prospect has said - ‘We get a lot of these calls’.
It used to be that every sales person worth their salt was beating a path to the prospective clients’ doors. Not now. Sales people are so busy doing all their other activities, that true new business development has been left by the wayside.
So, a couple of thoughts from this:
Firstly, if you’re not doing new business development, it’s worth brain-storming to find a way to do it. Your competitors are probably not doing it, so you instantly look proactive and professional to your prospective new clients. These prospective new clients are probably not quite ready to buy – if they were, they’d be part of that website enquiry you’re so busy dealing with. Clarify your target market, do your research, get your offering right, then step out. You have an incredible opportunity to build relationship and be ahead of the game when those prospective clients are ready to purchase.
Secondly, if you are doing new business development – get very excited! You have already set yourself and your business apart from the competition in a very positive way. You are proactively doing your best to see your sales grow. You have a wide-open field of possibilities ahead of you, and you’re probably one of the few people in your industry positioned to be ready for when those customers eventually purchase. Your approach means you are on track to grow sales.
Finally, now that you’ve read this far – you might be thinking about doing some new business development, or perhaps doing more. Congratulations! There are some great resources you can check out to up-skill. Don’t be afraid – smile as you think about all those new customers you’re about to meet!
Growing sales means your business is growing. At Magnify, we often talk to clients who want to see exponential growth very quickly, especially if they are launching a new product or service. They want to make fast decisions if they need to pivot their offering to meet the market needs.
Fast growth happens most easily when our offering is right, the timing is right, our sales material is right, our approach is right. Everything aligns as it should, and it’s a beautiful sales growth moment.
However, the more expensive the offering, the higher the level of customer trust that will be needed to close sales. Customer trust comes out of deeper customer relationships. Trust often takes time to build up. Some sales campaigns want fast results; they may not have the luxury of time.
So – how do you deepen your customer relationships without burning through your sales budget?
Think about your sales campaign from the customer’s point of view. Here are four things to consider to help deepen your customer relationships:
Yes, there can be a whole lot of preparation before you even approach your customer. Excellent preparation builds a strong foundation for a successful sales campaign. This gives your customer confidence that you understand their needs and have the best solution. Trust grows, and you deepen your customer relationships.
We live in an amazing age of technology, but the basic premise is still true. People buy from people – and especially from people they trust. So, build solutions to real-life customer problems, show your customers that you are credible, deepen your customer relationships - and your sales will grow.
Do you want to magnify your business and sales? An excellent way to do this is by having great Sales Documentation for your client communications.
Think for a moment about the emails, letters, tenders, proposals, and everything in writing that you send to your clients. The smallest detail really can make a difference in your written communications with clients – right down to subject headings that capture client interest and help your emails to get opened.
Here are Seven Ways to Shine with Great Sales Documentation:
When you shine in these seven ways, you really will out-class any other salesperson, blitzing the competition.
It's time to let your sales documentation shine. Go forth - Magnify your Business and your Sales!
“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions” – Benjamin Franklin
There’s never been a time in history when the pace of change has been so rapid. The Agile methodology for software development is now being adopted by businesses, as they seek to understand and benefit from their fast-changing environment and rapidly-evolving customer needs.
Very simply – you need a plan to move forward. However, if you’re ‘locked into’ that plan, you’ll quite possibly end up stifling the sort of growth you hoped for. You need to keep an open mind on the journey to achievement, to see that the landscape has changed. This will allow you to pivot and alter the steps you take in a new approach to achieve your goals.
Wellington in New Zealand, where I live, was originally planned by the NZ Company back in mother-England. They had a defined plan which they stuck to – meaning some of our original streets are extremely steep and take no account of 21st century vehicle sizes.
“All towns were laid out on a rectilinear or grid plan. This had a number of advantages:
If only the NZ Company had birds-eye view of Wellington’s topography, parking would have been so much easier!
What can you do today, to jump quickly at the opportunities presented to you, to anticipate the future ahead of you, to grow your sales and grow your business?
Clients ask many questions about their sales. At the heart of it, they're really asking, “How long will it take to reach my sales goals?” We understand this question. Who doesn’t want a bit of certainty in their life, especially when they're about to spend some budget?
Every client situation is different. Some clients have never talked to their customers, some have sporadic email relationships with their customers, others communicate regularly. Add into the mix industry factors, how your business measures up against competitors, the economy, the time of year (we’re about to hit the end of the March financial year) – and forecasting becomes a whole lot more complex.
Some clients have never mapped their sales processes, and do not know how long it takes for them to make a sale, how many touchpoints are needed, or how the customer experiences their business.
All of us want happy clients. Here at Magnify, we’d love to promise the moon and deliver it to everyone. But the reality is that sometimes people come to us because they’re finding the Sales Mountain hard to climb and need some help.
Just like our last blog, where we talked about the Seven Lessons that St Patrick (climbing a mountain!) can teach us about sales – a lot of what we do is sheer perseverance.
So – what do you need in place to climb your Sales Mountain and get the best from your outsourced sales campaign?
Your outsourced sales provider needs to ensure that your data is ready, and that you have good client documentation ready to go. It’s also important to discuss the sales processes already in place, and how the new business development you’re about to start will fit into that. Skimping on the preparation, just like a mountain climb, will mean a less successful journey to the top.
Are all your sales steps in place? Now you’re ready to start the climb.
Please note that no-one can accurately predict when your high-level sales goals will be reached. What you need most is an honest assessment of your sales situation. Your outsourced sales provider needs to prioritise your business needs over their need to make a sale. This may mean your campaign takes a pause for a week or two while you pivot your sales approach, to help your business meet the market needs and conditions that you’ve uncovered. Breaking through into that new market might take longer than you think.
However, much of sales is scientific. So you can predict some things.
When your sales team collectively put their shoulders to the proverbial wheel and P-U-S-H – uphill if necessary – you will generate sales momentum. Well-thought, appropriately spaced contact with your client database will provide the touch-points you need. Listening carefully to your customers will help you understand their experiences of your business. Which will ultimately deliver the results you want.
Good sales notes (in a CRM or database) will help you to see what’s happening with your new and existing clients. After a couple of months, you should be able to spot patterns to help you map your sales processes, number of customer touchpoints, and how long it takes to make a sale. You can then start to calculate the real cost of bringing on board new clients, and make more accurate predictions on how long it will take to reach your sales goals.
So – we can’t say exactly how long it will take to climb your Sales Mountain. But a good outsourced sales provider can provide tools, insight, and measurable results for the journey to help get you there, however long it takes. And a couple of coffees to start you on the right track!
Getting people and businesses excited about Sales.