Tag Archives: sales strategies
by James D. Roumeliotis
Today’s approach to marketing & sales must be smooth and sophisticated. Pressuring people and the “hard’ sale are relics of a bygone era. The films, ‘Boiler Room’ and ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ highlight the former pushy tactics.
Although I realize that a more suave sales technique is needed to woo the customer, the stereotypes of brash sales forces persist on a small scale. Think of cultures where the words “Hello my friend…” are still considered coins of the realm. Culture is partly responsible for the nature of this marketing style, and the other reason is a lack of regulatory procedures.
Let’s face facts. Business is about sales. No sales revenue, no business. You can have the greatest products or the finest service. If no one recognizes this and the offerings do not convert into receipts, there is only a limited time you will be allowed to remain open unless you are running an NGO. Speaking of NGOs, even they need to raise money. Their sales pitch might be different owing to the nature of their organization’s activities, but it is still a sales pitch.
The Sales Function
What makes sales an interesting subject is the nature of how the sale is conducted. When client need and desire are matched to the offering, the products or services sell themselves. The sales force become the bridge; provide information or even counsel. They should in theory also become part of a positive experience. This principle should hold true in any organization, public or private, large or small.
A contemporary salesperson should be a listener more than a talker. The offering must be tailored to fit the customer’s needs. When it is handled in this manner, the customer makes an “intelligent” buyer behavioral decision.
A smart and well-trained sales team recognizes that understanding human psychology and diplomacy acts as a form of persuasion.
Liked v. Valued
As in any profession, most sales people appreciate being liked and trusted by their clientele. The key I have found is the concept of value. When clients sense that you value their needs, you understand the principle of caring. Do not make any client feel that they are just part of “turnover”. Authenticity must be genuine. Anyone can tell a fake from the real McCoy.
Bought vs. Sold
Marketing strategist Seth Godin states in his blog that there are products that are “bought”, and there are products that are “sold”. “Some things are bought – such as bottled water, airplane tickets and chewing gum. The vendor sets up shop and then waits, patiently, for someone to come along and decide to buy.
Other things are sold – such as cars, placement of advertising in magazines and life insurance. If no salesperson is present, if no pitch is made, nothing happens.”
Seth goes-on to stress: “Both are important. Both require a budget and a schedule and a commitment. Confusion sets in when you’re not sure if your product or service is bought or sold, or worse, if you are a salesperson just waiting for people to buy.”
If a company’s products or services need to be “sold”, there are different sets of challenges to overcome. These include:
– Clarifying how the products or services can make prospective clients’ lives better;
– Creating and expressing an emotional connection to your niche audience/prospects – whether it’s cool, innovative, or rebel etc.
– Indicating to your audience/prospects what they get to lose by not acquiring the products or services.
When it comes to a product or service being “bought”, not much effort is required in convincing prospective clients that they should purchase, but that they should buy yours. Even perceived necessities need to be marketed and sold – It’s just that they have a different focus.
The Internet and social media have had an effect and changed the way customers are buying. Their selling process has been reduced to a mere buying process; although the consumer continues to seek guidance in their purchases.
This is where the “value’ factor plays a role. Sales staff should always look for ways to offer solutions to keep their customers satisfied. It is thought that a quarter of all Online shopping is made by frequent “shopping lovers” whose influence spread the word to others about joys of online shopping whenever they have the opportunity. They represent an ideal target for retailers who should not be taken for granted.
Pull vs. Push
Push marketing and pull marketing are different yet complementary marketing methods for promoting a business – most notably online.
Push marketing is more traditional methods of advertising – essentially, you are pushing your message to your audience, regardless of whether they want to receive your message or not. Push marketing focuses on product features and awaits the audience to respond. Examples of push marketing include email marketing, website advertising, and cold calling.
Pull marketing is more proactive, pulling the customers toward your brand/product with targeted messages they care about. Pull marketing is all about brand building. Examples of pull marketing include media interviews, public speaking, and word of mouth advertising.
Consultative Sales = CRM
What differentiates a consultative sales process from a traditional presentation of features and benefits is the relationship that is established between the prospect and the salesperson at the beginning stages of the sales cycle. Traditional product salespeople rely mainly on their product and service expertise and may not pay enough attention to the relationship aspect. For an effective consultative sales conversation to develop, a prospect must believe that the sales consultant has practical and credible expertise and someone that the client wants to work with.
The contemporary approach to selling is when the sales person guides the prospective customer in making sound purchase decisions – someone seen as an ally and adviser. This can be accomplished by keeping the following in consideration:
– Clearly identify the prospect’s needs – does the product or service proposed fill-it?
– Is the price offered deemed value for the money?
Ensure a long-term relationship by achieving customer satisfaction.
To do this requires some skills – either instinctively or acquired through training and practice. This includes:
– The capability to understand what the prospect wants;
– The knack to recognize, through ample product knowledge including features, which of the products and services are deemed most appropriate for the prospect;
– The ability to convey the specific benefits gained by using specific products and/or services that are meaningful to this customer;
– The capacity to deliver the “package” (products or services). Focus on the desired results expected by the prospective client.
Luxury Brand Management: Selling the Intangible
Selling luxury products or services in a sluggish economy is no easy task. Focus on the affluent. Simply put, such consumers buy no matter what the state of the economy.
Next step is not to sell them on the product or service per-se but rather on what the true meaning of luxury represents:
• An exceptional experience
• Made/formed with authenticity
• Craftsmanship & quality
• Created/produced in small numbers – rarity factor
• Emotional bonding
• Upscale mystique
• Status and prestige
This is what affluent buyers are looking for. All high-end purchases must have a storyline, pedigree or heritage. Pressure of any kind is pointless here. Think Ralph Lauren. RL sales teams never pressure clients. Ralph’s “dream” has either made the sale or it hasn’t. The sales team is just there to advise and be of assistance. Shared beliefs, attitudes, and values between sales team and client can push the sale forward because it is one of bonding and mutual recognition of being part of the “club”.
Any one who understands the points of being an “brand ambassador” knows what I am taking about here.
The Bottom Line
As in all professions, sales techniques continue to evolve and adapt to the nature of the times in which we live. Great service, good pricing and loyal relationships have become yesterday’s sales standards. Using the consultative sales approach and providing clients with value-added solutions is compulsory in today’s business arena.
Salespeople should evolve as businesses do. Today’s clients demand a partnership arrangement. Since all of us are also clients is it any wonder?
Management by Tactics : A sales management supervisory technique and its effects on sales performance
Ask any person involved in a sales supervisory position what they consider a sales person’s most important daily task and you will most likely receive the same response: “Sales/Prospecting Activities”.
Although most companies monitor and make efforts to control sales activities, few companies have a formal means of optimizing tactics. Leaders should take the time and effort to design performance measurement systems that are based on a balanced set of metrics and then reward their sales reps based on the desirable behaviors and the positive outcomes that result.
Management by Tactics™ : The Input Focused Protocol
Management by Tactics or MBT is a term, which describes a supervisory technique applied by progressive sales management. A Canadian sales strategist, Dr. Giovanni Di Girolamo, along with his associate consultants, conceived it in 2005. Through their research and personal experiences, they discovered a process, which consistently yielded, unsurpassed results from sales representatives – regardless of industry, sales experience or type of client (new or existing).
The principle behind this is a process where sales managers/directors, along with their sales force, identify the day-to-day activities required to achieve sales objectives and focus their energies in controlling such activities (known as “input”) – rather than simply focusing on results (a.k.a. “output”).
The latter applies to Management by Objectives or MBO, a technique first popularized by the late management guru, Peter Drucker, which places a great deal of emphasis on the outputs – in our case, the sales results.
Tactics v. Strategy
Tactic equates to an action plan for attaining a particular goal. The terms tactic and strategy are often confused: tactics are the actual means used to gain an objective, while strategy is the overall campaign plan, which may involve complex operational patterns, activity, and decision-making that lead to tactical execution.
Research and Consequences
The research that was conducted in a 12-month period, by the Canadian sales strategist and his team, consisted of twenty-nine subjects from a sample of four companies representing different types of industries. During this study, sales representatives from the four companies worked exclusively with output goals – namely sales objectives. Data were collected. This stage of the research was referred to as the “Pre-Test”.
The researcher then proceeded to implement the Management by Tactics method. In this phase of the research, the sales people were given input goals, such as the number of telephone calls to be made, number of prospects to visit along with various sales presentations to be performed. This stage of the research was referred to as the “Post-Test”.
Results from all four companies suggest that there is indeed a relationship between variables. Not surprisingly, MBT had a positive impact on sales performance. The outcome was as follows:
• In the absence of applying MBT, all representatives in the study under achieved sales objectives between 21% to 75% of their target.
• On the other hand, when all sales reps were given input goals under the MBT system, the weakest sales rep attained 100% of target – while the other two reached 117% and 118% respectively for a combined average of 112% of sales targets.
Observations & Effect
Management by Objectives (MBO) is a results oriented management system, whereby; top management involvement in the process is crucial along with employee agreement to the same organizational objectives. In sales, the manager and sales person identify and negotiate specific goals for the upcoming period. Subsequently, the sale rep and manager sign a performance agreement that specifies these goals as performance standards. In contrast, Management by Tactics (MBT) focuses on the effort and activities by adopting the following philosophy:
• Activity information and feedback encourages greater incentive and effort.
• Micro-management equals detail oriented, whereas, macro-management
equals the big picture.
• Behavior oriented sales people outperform the results oriented type.
• Clarity of tasks to be accomplished and feedback are two key factors at motivating sales people. Link rewards to performance.
• Activity reports should be submitted by the sales people and reviewed by sales management during scheduled coaching sessions. These include:
1) Weekly activity report;
2) Observation report
(is used to evaluate the salesperson’s overall ability to perform the job and includes various factors crucial in obtaining results);
3) Annual evaluation form.
No doubt, we have all heard the saying from various management authorities, “What gets measured, gets done”. Sales leaders and their sales force should focus on the process/activities rather than the end result, as output control has no direct effect on end performance. By working backwards, namely, taking the desired output and breaking it into activities required to achieve the output or end result, has been proven to be the most practical approach.
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