A Step Ahead
with
Skip Miller
 
June, 2009 Vol 3, Issue 6
The Trees from the Forest
 
It's time to look at the world again, but in a different way.
 forest
The last six months have not been fun.  You have been able to scrape by, and your are either at your goal, or south by 5-20 points.  Either way, it at least feels like a moral victory.

Business is heating up a bit.  You really can't tell if it's real or not, but if the prospects are taking your calls, or if they are returning your calls, then you are in a lot better shape than you were a few months ago.

 

We are hearing funnels are getting fuller, more demos, more proposals; life is getting back to normal.
 If you remember normal from before, you had 30-40% of your funnel as maybes.  You can't afford that anymore, not with limited resources and razor-sharp margins.  It time to remember you don't want just anything in the funnel, you want quality, which means qualify, qualify, qualify.

The tool section of this newsletter has some qualifying tips for you.  Having prospects in the funnel that go dark, go ghost, don't return closing calls is not something you want to go back to, so qualifying is your right, as well as your prospects right.  You need to be able to see the forest for the trees.  Yes, it's been awhile since you have seen so many trees, but make sure they:
 
         Are at the right level - do not start low in the organization, or on the tree
         Are focused around their problems they want to solve - you aren't really trying to meet needs are you?  Why isn't the tree getting the light it needs?  Not, "I can help this tree."
         Have an I-Date with 2 Dragons. No I-Date, no deal.
 

Now is not the time to be a lumberjack and start chopping down every tree you come across.  A full funnel does not mean success.  Having customers make buy decisions means success.  Your prospects have made it through half of the worst year they have had to deal with, and they are getting ready to open up again. 
 
Sharpen your saws, qualify as early as you can, and get I-Dates.  Given these energy-saving and ecological-sensitive times, you don't want to just go into the woods just swinging away with an axe.  Fill your funnel the right way, develop a prospecting game plan, and go at it one tree at a time.  Your close ratio and the forest will thank you, and in return, you'll get through 2009.

 
skip

 
Tools - They are Working!! - A letter from a top salesperson
 
 From a customer who has their head on right...
 
As you all know, the end of the month is here!  I'm quite sure each of you are aware of what you need to close to accomplish your weekly and monthly commit.  I wish each of you a successful day in sales.
Rather than sharing numbers this morning, I figured I would share a best practice. 
 

Cameron, one our top reps, was recently was on vacation with his family in Hawaii and they expected to see less people due to the economy.  Something that caught his attention was that though the economy is going through some tough times, you would never have known by the number of people on vacation. 
 
This same theory applies with his customers and that they too are busy, working hard every day, and trying to hit their revenue targets.  He did mention that the only thing this economy has done was made people more savvy. They are doing more research and are more education with competition before they purchase.
 
invest
He feels his success has come from understanding his customers.  He isn't focusing on selling futures as much as he is listening to the customer and focusing on what is top of mind for them and where they stand with this economy. 
 
What does that mean you ask?  "You can't sell in a way that your customer isn't buying".
 
He has heavily bought off on the Save to Invest concept.  He realizes it's a catch phrase but this is how companies are thinking right now.  In speaking with your customers you have to quickly determine if they feel as if they are just trying to hold together and are under an avalanche of stress due to the economy affecting their business OR if the company is looking to invest and grow. 
 
How does he quickly discover where the company is in their situation?  He calls high to CEO's, CTO, and CFO and in his 30-Second spech, he focuses on 3 key topics in either voicemails or over the phone conversation:
 
 Example: Voice Mail & Three Topics - "I would like to spend a few minutes of your time talking about decreasing operating costs(saving money), customer satisfaction, or new business generation.  The customer will respond to what is most important to them.  Once Cameron determines what is top of mind for the customer then he sells what they are interested in. 

Cameron mentioned that he has found that you can't force a customer's hand.  In the past, he made things more complex than they needed to be and now he focuses on trying to simplify things for his customer.  Make it a simple as possible to buy if that is what they want. 

Example:  He received a lead from a customer looking to add some more to the current agreement.  He usually would leave a voice mail or send an email with no response.  He then would have waited to hear back, scheduling a meeting, doing a full presentation, and selling value.  This customer was looking for one thing, to add one more thing, and Cameron would go into sell mode. 
 
So now, what he did for this deal, after his voicemail and email, he sent a revised agreement which the customer signed that evening.  No conversation needed.  Since then he scheduled a second review to discuss futures.
 
Cameron's Bottom Line Message:  Don't over complicate things!  Ask the three key questions above to understand if it's a quick hit takedown or an opportunity to sell value into one of the three points above.  Make it about the customer and let the customer decide the direction of the call, you cannot force the customers hand.
 
Thanks John and Cameron.  The tools work.  
 

In This Issue
Tools
Take Action
Tips and Things
M3 Learning Links
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It's Close, it's Close!!!
 

The new website, M3Learning.com will be up and running soon.  It includes a store where you can buy our books, as well as a place for our e-learning program which will be rolled out in the next few weeks.  Check it out and let us know what you think.
Advanced Sales School
         The next Advanced Sales School is right around the corner.  Give your top sales people the advantage they need for 2009.  We have been doing this school for 13 years, and we're still getting letters on how the students are using the tools.  SIgn them up now! 
 
 tass
The Advanced Sales School
 
August 3-5, 2009 - Saratoga, CA
 
Call Ann at 408.399.9243 or go to www.m3learning.com and register now.
Tips and Things
TOOL REVIEW
 

Qualify 
 
There are many ways you can qualify a deal.  Here's a great story.
 
I was looking to buy a car the other month, and it is always great to see how enthusaistic car sales people are nowadays. It seems like you don't even get a chance to get out of your car, and they are all over you.
 
This one salesperson stuck in my mind for his qualifying method.  He did not qualify me for fit, product, budget, or value. He qualified me on my abvility to make a decision.

forest

"Good afternnon, my name is Harry.  May I ask you a question?  Are you going to decide on buying a car today?"
 
Well, I was a bit taken aback by his bluntness, and I answered, "No".
 
"That will be fine then.  Here is my card, and I'll check back with you.  You can also have me paged if you like.  Thanks and let me know if I can be of service."
 
Harry qualified me on my ability to make a decision, which is what we should be selling to, not our products/services (push).
 
Next time you talk to a customer, ask about their decision ability and when they think they are going to make a decision. Focus on their decision ability, not on how well they like you.  Remember, it's all about them.
 
      
Everyone is going on vacation.  Time for you to prospect and set up the rest of the year.  Keep you head in the game for the next 30 days...prospect and qualify, and you will do well for 2009.  Have a great June.
               
                      Skip