From the CCS® Sales Blog

December 2017

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Sales Tips: A Strong Qualifier for Proposals

Sales Tips: A Strong Qualifier for Proposals

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

When asked in a word to describe the difference between A Players and B/C Players I would say: 

Patience.

By that I mean they avoid prematurely talking about offerings that helps them avoid early pricing decisions. Top performers also understand how much control sellers give up after issuing proposals. 

Ask Your Buyer to Review a Draft of the ProposalI believe proposals should document and confirm discussions with buyers and provide a buyer) or buying committee everything that is needed to make decisions. Premature proposals often hang in seller’s pipelines and often wind up being removed months later after no decision has been reached. 

A Strong Qualifier
If and when proposals must be issued, most sellers miss out on a strong qualifying step. My suggestion is they ask a buyer or the buying committee to review a draft copy of what will be in the final proposal. 

  • The advantage to buyers is there will be no surprises in the proposal.
  • The advantage to sellers is the ability to get it right the first time.

I suppose it’s a pink, if not a red flag, if sellers can’t get agreement to review a draft and may be a potential sign that sellers are not Column A.

After a review of the content and after buyers have approved the content, the seller has a great opportunity at that point to ask for the business. I feel it’s the perfect time to close because it is the first time the seller has earned the right to close. Even if you choose not to close it offers the chance to get in front of buyers a week before decisions will be made.

Sales Workshops

Sales Tips: A Better Way to Gather CX Feedback

Sales Tips: A Better Way to Gather CX Feedback

By Connie Schlosberg, Primary Intelligence

CX Phone InterviewWhen collecting feedback from our customers, we know we need to get the sincerest input from them if we want to provide customers with the most valuable experience.

While NPS surveys, on-site visits, one-on-one interviews are effective ways to collect feedback, they don’t fully capture the golden nuggets we’re looking for.

Companies often neglect the most cost-effective and beneficial way to understanding customers and their specific needs.

Customer Phone Interviews

After interviewing customers on their experience with our clients for almost 16 years, we’re confident we know how valuable a phone discussion can be. If you want the most honest assessment from your customers, your best bet is to talk with them, get to know them, and understand how well—or not so well—things are going.

With customer phone interviews, you’ll find helpful answers to your most pressing questions. You’ll also get the opportunity to learn about issues that you didn’t even know exist. These issues could potentially prevent your customers from renewing or purchasing additional solutions. (Read Why Phone Interviews Are My Favorite Method for Collecting Customer Insights for a more in-depth discussion.)

Why Phone Interviews Are Better

Having a phone conversation with your customers is the best method for the following reasons:

  1. It’s low effort for the customer. Most conversations are under 30 minutes.
  2. It’s low cost. You don’t have to worry about travel expenses or loss time from work.
  3. You get detailed insights. Pair the phone interview with an online survey and you’ll gather a scorecard of your performance along with the reasoning for the scores.

For tips on a highly successful customer phone interview and the best way to get customer experience feedback, click or tap on the following infographic.

A Better Way to Gather Customer Experience Feedback

Sales Training Workshops

Sales Tips: 4 Tips to Maximize Email ROI and Improve Business Development

Sales Tips: 4 Tips to Maximize Email ROI and Improve Business Development

Unless you enjoy a dedicated marketing team to gather customer data on your behalf, we must collect that information ourselves. Yet, as Sage discovered in a recent survey, collecting customer data and transforming it into sales is a common challenge.

With more advanced applications and cloud-based tools promising improved ROI every day, it can be tempting to spend money on the latest emerging technologies for our online marketing campaigns rather than using tried and tested methods.

In fact, despite email being one of the “older” online technologies, email marketing campaigns offer an ROI of 73 percent – larger than organic or paid search results, and content or affiliate marketing.

Email and Business Development TipsWith such promise of improved sales, here are 4 tips to increase customer subscriptions and optimize your email campaigns:

1.    Increase subscription opportunities

Firstly, place a link on your business’ “About” page, as clients who tend to be interested in the history and people behind an organization are more likely to want to learn later.

Also, inserting an optional pop-up in the corner of your website is an inviting yet inconspicuous method of encouraging customers to sign-up for your campaigns; anything more is likely to turn customers away.

This tactic is also suitable for brick-and-mortar store salespeople and owners. While placing a sign-up sheet beside the tills might encourage purchasing customers to share their contact details, placing those same sheets around the store with purchase incentives to write down their email addresses can simultaneously boost sales and subscriptions lists.

2.    Personalize marketing

In 2016, more than 25 percent of sales were attributed to email campaigns. A key reason for their success is customers feel engaged, which, in turn, means they will be more likely to offer you repeat business and to recommend your services to a friend.

The easiest way to offer customers an engaging experience is to personalize your emails. For instance, use the customers’ names when addressing them, with personalized emails delivering 6 times as many transactions.

Further, segmenting users by their location, age and interests allows you to create targeted campaigns which interest potential buyers, without upsetting those less likely to indulge in that particular campaign.

Mobile-friendly email3.    Mobile ready

In 2017, 54 percent of email campaigns were opened on a mobile device. This is up from 27 percent in 2012. So noticeable is this increase that promotional emails are now more likely to be mobile-centric than desktop-centric, with 55 percent of smartphone users having made at least one purchase via a campaign email.

Take advantage of this trend by ensuring your emails are mobile friendly and responsive, keep headers short so they can be read quickly, and invite users to open them with a call to action.

4.    Automate campaigns

Using automated reminders lessens your own workload as you can create mass, personalized emails, to be received by clients at specific times of the year, boosting sales.

For example, greetings card companies frequently send out seasonal reminders for popular holidays like Christmas and Mother’s Day. Also, by giving customers the option to set reminders, they can remind them of upcoming birthdays for friends and family they have sent cards to in previous years.

With affordable tools making it easy to build email lists and tools helping you track the effectiveness of your campaigns, email marketing remains a crucial strategy for maximizing sales.

Sales Workshops

Sales Tips: The Different Types of Questions to Ask at High and Low Levels

Sales Tips: The Different Types of Questions to Ask at High and Low Levels

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

I believe superior salespeople are curious and ask questions more often than they make statements. They avoid control questions that elicit short responses and therefore don’t facilitate conversations.

Instead they prefer to ask framing questions such as, “How do you create revenue forecasts today?” These questions usually begin with the word “how” and elicit lengthy answers about areas the seller wants to explore. 

When calling at executive levels I suggest you try to avoid asking questions they can’t answer.

Types of Questions to Ask at High and Low LevelsMany senior executives will seize opportunities to delegate salespeople to lower staff. Their response is usually something like:

I don’t know but can put you in touch with the right person.

Not a good outcome for a salesperson.

When calling at lower levels, consider asking questions buyers either can’t or don’t want to answer.

Asking subordinates to speak on behalf of higher levels or the organization will cause many to say they aren’t sure. For example:

In considering a new CRM software, what is your organization hoping to accomplish?

If a buyer can’t or won’t answer, the seller has an opportunity to ask who within the organization would know. 

👉 My rules of thumb: At high levels avoid asking questions buyers can’t answer. At lower levels feel free to do so.

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