Checkmate with the queen. Use royal sales tactics to get the deal done.
Ask smart questions
Written 3 June 2020 by Antonios Papadimitriou (Anthony Eric), founder of MAE
This is a follow-up post on previously released sales article about how to excel in sales and how to increase sales on Amazon. Below, I’m summarizing an effective sales process used by top American firms such as LinkedIn, Gartner, SalesForce and IBM. It’s about sales tactics that increase the ability to close more deals, but let us start with a short business sales story.
On a foggy Monday morning, Richard Lee watched a bullfinch singing with pride and royalty, outside his office. For a moment, Richard felt jealous of not being able to leave it all, and fly somewhere else in the world without boundaries, just like a bird. Oil black and sunset red colors painted the little bird that sang a chirpy song to invite the spring after a cold and dark winter. Richard Lee had just come out of a sales meeting and the numbers didn’t look good for the team, nor for himself. The only thing he remembered from the meeting was the unwashed teeth on an angry face asking for sales improvements. Like the river starts in one place and ends in another, so did the message enter one ear and exit the other. Nothing stayed between the ears. Richard used to sell well and exceed all targets, but the organization had changed, and new management arrived, leading to sales decline. Richard had gone down so bad in his mood that he thought of grabbing the gun and get it done and he knew where the boss had the office.
– Blaming me for not reaching the targets when I used to be your best seller for years; you better not! It is time for revenge.
So one day he finally made the decision, but before he pulled the trigger….
Hopefully, you will never reach such a terrible situation, but the above story is not that irrelevant in today’s businesses. I’ve experienced colleagues committing suicide, for dubious reasons, and one case happened while I was working at an American blue-chip in Dublin, Ireland. My former colleague Mr. Luigi didn’t look happy at work for a long time and I never forget him walking in and out of the office to smoke on his Italian cigarette.
The reality today is that western firms experience harsh competition cost-wise, and the quality is cathing up in low-cost regions. Global competition born by the womb of the globalization ghost has forced western firms to scream like a newborn baby for short term gains, more sales and higher profit targets. The Internet makes it easy to find new candidates and 80% of sellers, the so-called average performers, are easily replaceable. So the question is, how do you ensure sales success by applying a sales methodology that leads to more sales?
I am the right person to talk about revenue generating sales tactics because I have not only successfully managed my own consulting business when selling consulting services to blue-chips; I have exceeded in sales when working for managers and products I truly admired. Working with admirable products and services is paramount when seeking to excel in sales. Below sales tactics were acquired by completing the famous IBM global sales school, and because I have been selling since 2005 in various industries and functions, I got to understand what it means to succeed and fail in sales.
The process used by IBM and many other same sized firms, covers the following steps.
(1) Get to know the client (2) client consultation (3) client research (4) presentation and (5) negotiation.
Let’s start with (1) getting to know the client:
You would expect longer sales cycles when selling complex products and services, and the sales methodology is therefore stretched and slightly different, compared with selling insurances. Useful tools when investigating a potential client and the person you are going to meet in a sales meeting include: social media sites, Google and industry reports. Get to know as much as you can about the firm and find out if there is anything you have in common with the person you are going to meet.
When selling in far east Asia, the start-up phase is much longer than in Europe/USA. Time is key in the west, while relations and personal character are more important in the east. In the east, you may be invited for dinners and expected to get drunk so the opposite party can discover your true persona. Understanding someone’s character is key in the east, and it takes time. Dinners and tea drinking can take weeks and months, before getting the deal done. In Europe/USA, getting to know a client is a matter of hours or a few days. Which one do I prefer? No one supersedes the other. The western method gives quicker deals, and clients stay if they are truly satisfied. In the easter solution, it takes a longer time to acquire a client, but they are more likely to stay, even though you may not have met and exceeded client expectations because you are now part of the client’s long term network.
The next point (2) concerns client consultation. The purpose is to understand what the client wants, why, by when, and what the client would do if the problem can not be solved – not able to meet the need. It is vital to listen to hooks during the conversation and follow that path to get the underlying reason for a need/problem.
Smart questions to ask include: How do you choose a vendor? How does a perfect solution look to you? What would you have to be convinced of, to go ahead with a purchase? What made you decide to approach us? What are your actual and future projects? If you already work with other vendors, what could they do better to fully satisfy your demand? Have you tried to solve this need/problem before? What did you do and how did it go? Who helped you?
Following a thorough client consultation, it is time to conduct a research (3) and prepare a solution. Larger projects involve engineers, team leaders, project managers, sales managers and designers when developing a solution. A first draft is used to answer on an RFP (request for price) and it is normally altered before signing the project and delivering the solution.
You hopefully had a successful research project that is going to be shown to the lead (potential client). In the presentation, summarize the client’s needs and ask if anything has changed in his demand/need since the last time you met. When presenting the solution, it is ideal to bring client testimonials to give the client relevant confidence that you are able to deliver according to his expectations. After the presentation, you should ask the client to sign the deal, and if the client wants to get back to you, you would expect negotiations and perhaps changes in price, deliveries, or features.
The last step is the negotiation phase where you have the chance to get the deal. Depending on where in the world you live, negotiations can be done differently. Talking from a northwest European point of view, we seek a win-win; both parties are satisfied, or at least, the client feels it is a win-win although you may know the deal is in your favor. If you can show the client achieved value; let’s say, the client is going to generate an income of 10Mn USD in the next 10 years, a solution costing 1Mn USD would be easier to convince than if the value is not understood by the client. If your consultation was done well, you understand client pain points, and the client understands how you add value to his business.
Smart questions to ask when handling objections and when negotiating include: why do you say that? Who do you compare us with? What would convince you to sign the deal? Would you like to pay through installments? If I was able to give you the following payment conditions (name them), what you sign the deal today?
If you want to grow your revenues and to improve motivation in your sales team, I would be happy to do that for you. Contact me today for a free of charge consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright (C) 2020. Antonios Papadimitriou Anthony Eric of MAE. All rights reserved.