Category Archive Corporate Sales Training

Are Customer Needs Assessments Dead?

As we navigate the changes in our world right now, I think it’s important to focus on the Customer Needs Assessment as a part of my corporate sales training blog.

If you’re in a leadership role, right now you might be saying, “No, Ryan, don’t talk about not doing a CNA.”

Here’s my point, though. We’re living in a world where people are limited in cash, limited on funds, and certainly limited on patience. For the most part, I think everybody right now is actually limited to some degree in their cognitive abilities. So how do we expect someone we’re selling to to actually understand what they need vs. what they want?

Think about this regarding the Customer Needs Assessment. Very often it focuses in on what they want, and not what they need. Think about all the questions you ask. “What’s your budget?” “What are your goals?” “What keeps you up at night?” “What’s the biggest business challenge for you?” “How can we help you overcome that?”

It’s all focusing on what they want. They want paying customers, they want new business, they want to retain business. Want, want, want.

It really should be called the Customer Wants Assessment, right? Think through this with me before you shut down on the idea. Be open-minded. I sell every day, just like you do. I’ve been in sales and marketing for 30 years. I didn’t stop selling to become a consultant; I love the sales business.

So here’s a radical idea: Maybe we need to find our joy in that, in the sales business.

So this Customer Needs Assessment, where we ask them what they need—it really focuses on what somebody wants. So if we don’t actually guide them toward what they need, they’re going to come back to us in the coming weeks or months and say, “I didn’t get any ROI.” They didn’t get the return on investment that they needed. And so a lot of the time they didn’t get what they needed because we gave them what they wanted.

So here’s what I want you to consider in addition to the CNA: putting forth powerful recommendations.

Let me give you some background on my thoughts here.

There are a lot of impatient people out there right now. How many of you feel cranky right now? I feel cranky. I’m cranky about the world, I’m cranky about politics, I’m cranky about COVID. I’m just cranky. And it’s difficult to deal with cranky people you’re selling to. They try to tell you what they want, and you’re trying to convince them what they need, so I’d like to talk to you about recommendations instead.

Were you aware that Nielsen, the TV ratings and audits company, reports that recommendations are the most trusted form of information? This is a tool we can use as salespeople, and this is something I stress in my sales training. We can coach our customers on why they need something, and what they need to buy. And then we can get them to a point where we not only fulfill their wants, but we actually get to the heart of what they need.

Harvard Business Review had a review of 600 top sales professionals, and here’s what they found out: Most sales reps rely on a customer to coach them through the sales process. Now, the superstar sales reps that I work with in my sales training, we coach the customer. We know the questions we need to ask the customer to find out what it is they truly need beyond what they want.

But still, most customers are going to struggle to identify an exact need. For example, they might say, “I need more customers.” So I may say, “When you say ‘customers,’ can you be more specific? Tell me more. Give me some detail about that.”

So, to guide customers to a recommendation, I’m doing a great deal of comparative selling.

Creating a comparative conversation helps you draw out ego, helps you draw out emotion, and helps you draw out logic.

Sometimes in the advertising business, where I spend a lot of my time, I’ll say things like, “Who do you feel does a great job of marketing here in our community?” I suppose they could say, “Nobody does.” But typically they give an example of somebody.

And then I’ll say, “Do you want to be like them, better than them, less than them? Do you want to be competitive with them, or do you want to dominate them?” I work to determine what’s the circumstance for them.

What I don’t ask them is what their budget is. Because if you ask them what their budget is, they’re probably going to give you a number based on their reality. Not the reality of marketing in the community where you live.

My next tool to guide customers to a recommendation is sharing success stories through comparative selling.

Let’s say, for example, that you sell in the software space. When you create a comparative conversation, you’re actually comparing the customer that you have on the phone to other customers that you’ve had in the past that are very, very happy.

Here’s an example. When I sell, I ethically share stories about my current clients. I share what they love about me, what they love about the software, what they’ve loved about the company, what they’ve loved about the experience–and I can begin to compare customers.

I use these comparative conversations so I can recommend products based on the happiness of other customers, realizing that other customers’ happiness will oftentimes translate to the happiness of this new customer that I’m trying to get.

It’s easy—and it’s all about sharing success stories.

But sometimes we salespeople don’t like to do this, and the reason we don’t is because we feel like we’re talking about a customer behind that customer’s back. But we’re not. What we’re actually doing is shouting from the mountaintop how happy other customers are with us.

And if they’re happy, then this new customer probably will be, too. And happiness is ultimately what we’re seeking.

Now, you might get really technical about this, and you might say, “Well, Ryan, I’m not looking for happiness, what I’m looking for is making sure they have the ROI that they demand.” But I am here to tell you, when push comes to shove what most people want to do is what others have done to be successful.

Just last weekend I was talking with a friend of mine. She said, “I’m having some great luck losing weight.” I said, “Cool! I would love to drop 15 pounds. I think it would make me happy and make my wife happy. What are you doing?”

And she told me about her weight management plan. So I immediately went home and looked it up online to find out how I could get involved in this.

The point is, her success story led me to make a great buying decision, for me. This is a simple buying example, but it can resonate through everything you do.

Consider that when you have a linear conversation, a one-way conversation with a client, what you do is keep them inside their own bubble. And it’s not until somebody gets out of their bubble—OUT of it—that they realize, “Oh, other people out here are happy, they’re being successful, and I want to be like them. What are they doing? What is their weight loss plan? How did it work for them? What made them happy?”

As a salesperson, if I can help customers be happy—happy like other people–then all of a sudden they start buying what it is that I’m selling. It’s a simple sales concept that works and that resonates with customers.

I’ve had the opportunity to walk through and be a part of almost every sales training program in America, from Carnegie to Sandler. And a problem I see is that they focus on a one-way conversation where you identify somebody’s pain and then you fix that pain.

That’s great in theory, but as a salesperson you can actually take it to the next level by telling them about other happy customers whose pain you have eliminated. It’s about proving that you have done something for other people.

It’s about getting beyond the old fashioned Customer Needs Assessment to start recommending products, sharing success stories, and creating comparative conversations.

And remember, in these conversations, be mindful of the questions that you ask. Make sure those questions take you to a better place.

So, what are the questions?

I try not to ask the same questions that have been asked for the last 10-15 years, the ones that make you sound like all the other salespeople that have shown up either face-to-face, on Zoom, or on the phone.

I strive to ask the questions that other salespeople don’t. In that vein, I don’t ask, “What keeps you up at night?” I would rather ask a question, something along the lines of, “If we could help bring you one perfect customer, what would that customer look like?”

Or, “When you agreed to meet with me, was there a business challenge you were hoping that I could help you solve?”

I’ll say it again, rather than asking, “What’s your budget?” … especially in the ad sales world where I spend a lot of my time in the advertising business, I’ll say, “If we could help you be bigger and better than your nearest competitor, what would that look like?” “In the past, what have you done to solve these types of problems?”

Or I might use something back from my good old Sandler days like, “What is the biggest challenge that you’re facing right now that you think I can help you solve?” Or “How long has that been a challenge or a problem for you?” “What have you done in the past to fix that problem or remove that problem from the greater equation of your business?”

When you ask your questions, remember these ideas I espouse in my sales training programs: Most people want to be led. Most people like recommendations. Most people don’t like a linear conversation—they want to know what others are doing and what you have done to help other people.

So, in closing, the Customer Needs Assessment isn’t dead, necessarily, but if we don’t breathe some new life into it, if we keep doing the same thing we’ve always done, we’re going to get the same result. If we want to see a different result, we’ve got to do something different.

That’s why we’re advisors … try to be an advisor, don’t be a salesperson. Breathe some new life into your Customer Needs Assessment.

And managers out there—sales directors, sales leaders—look at the questions your salespeople are asking prospects and customers. Make sure that they’re updated. Make sure they reflect the current situation that we’re in.

Then finally, always remember. If sales was easy, everybody would be doing it. And they’re not. So we’re either crazy or we’ve found a career that will feed our families for a lifetime.

 

About this blogger:

 

Ryan Dohrn is an award winning sales coach and offers sales training to thousands of sales executives each year.  He is also an international motivational speaker and the author of the best-selling sales book, Selling Backwards.  Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media, a boutique sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on sales training and sales coaching for companies in 17 unique industry sectors from media to tech to aviation.  He is also the owner and Publisher of SalesTrainingWorld.com an online portal for sales training success.

 

Contact information:

Ryan R. Dohrn

President/Founder, Brain Swell Media LLC

Publisher, SalesTrainingWorld.com

Ryan@BrainSwellMedia.com

 

http://www.BrainSwellMedia.com

http://RyanDohrn.com

http://360adsales.com

http://sellingbackwards.com

http://SalesTrainingWorld.com

 

Follow him on Twitter.com/ryandohrn for daily tips and advice.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/ryandohrn

 

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7 Ways to Reignite Sales Conversations in a Post-COVID World

The dramatic impact that the novel coronavirus has had on the United States and the world is undeniable. There are many different ways to view what has happened, and I do not wish to be political—I trust that everyone can handle politics in their own way.

For our sales conversations, though, I believe that we need to start getting back to business—whatever that means for your particular company as it relates to sales and marketing.

In that vein, let’s talk about seven ideas to help us get back to business from where we now stand. These are realizations I’m finding to work well for me in my own sales life, and that I’m sharing with others as part of my larger sales training efforts.

Idea 1: The time to get back to sales conversations is now.

There are a lot of people out there talking on the internet and social media about selling during COVID-19—and it was tough. I must reiterate: The conversations out there were tough. And now, at the time of this writing, we’re almost two months into this and the conversations are largely OK now. Maybe one out of 50 folks I’m calling on has been personally impacted or has had something happen in their families, and they’re not ready to talk. I get that. I totally get that.

It’s for those folks, when I get them on the phone, I just apologize, sympathize, and say, “Hey, when you’re ready to talk, I’m here.”

But one of the things I hear sales reps doing right now in my sales training (marketers, too) is starting every conversation with, “Hey, Bob. How are you doing?” And that’s just wrong.

Now, if you’ve known the person for a considerable period of time, then you might consider them a colleague and you might start the conversation that way.

But if you’re calling on a new prospect, and you don’t know them from anybody else, I think asking them about their personal health is not the best way to start the conversation.

In addition, everybody is starting the conversation that way. And unfortunately, it leads to a pretty negative start to a sales call.

So what I like to do is put a little different spin on it. I might say, “Hi, Bob. I’ve got some news to share with you—some good news, as a matter of fact. Would you have time for a new idea?”

Or, “Hey, Bob. I see some light at the end of the proverbial business tunnel, and I’d love to chat with you a little about some new ideas. What do you think?”

I think that’s a very appropriate way to start a sales conversation. In fact, I think it’s so important that I want to caution you again, when you start the conversation, “Hey, Bob. How’re doing?” you might get somebody who says back to you, “How the (blank) do you think I’m doing?” And again, I’m not at all saying that you shouldn’t sympathize. What I’m saying is that everybody is starting the conversation with, “Hey, how are you going?” and a lot of the time it leads to a pretty negative conversation and gets things off to a fairly negative start.

In the end, though, how you kick off the first conversation is up to you and to your personal preferences. For me, it was a bit tough to get past the “Hey, how are you doing?” It really was, and so I get that.

To recap, if you’ve had a relationship with somebody for years, it’s natural that you’ll want to ask them how they’re doing.

But otherwise, my advice is to always start the conversation with a bit more positive phrasing—to kick off a more positive conversation.

Idea 2: Recognize that a lot of people are still working from home.

Here’s what’s really interesting about COVID-19 on a positive side, if there is a positive side. And that’s that everybody pretty much knows how to do a GoToMeeting or a Zoom meeting. They’re comfortable with it and that makes it a little bit easier to sell that way.

We taught my mom how to run a Zoom meeting the other night. So c’mon, if I can teach my mom how to run a Zoom meeting, if you do happen to run across somebody who really doesn’t know how and is not the most technologically savvy, you can teach them, too.

But since many people are still working from home, the odds of catching them in a non-distracting environment are good. There are always spouses and kids and pets, but there isn’t typically the normally distracting business environment. (And if you looked your customer or sales prospect up on LinkedIn, you might be prepared and already know they have six kids, or whatever the case may be, as they’re working from home.)

So to recap here, recognize that a lot of people are still working from home.

Idea 3: Respect that prospecting times have changed, marketing times have changed, and reception times have changed.

So first off, let’s talk about pre-COVID times. In pre-COVID times I’d be telling you to call folks at 11:15 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. I choose 11:15 because most people don’t book meetings before lunch, so there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get through to them. And then 4:15 because most people don’t book meetings before going home, so your chances of getting through to them are pretty good.

Well, during COVID and post-COVID, 4 p.m. has become the new 5 o’clock. So for me that afternoon time block has definitely changed. It’s turned into more like a 3:15 prospecting block.

But what about the morning time block? I’m noticing that a lot of people are responding to emails earlier in the day. So what I’ve been doing is changing the 11:15 time block to more like a 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. time block—specifically for prospecting.

Here’s the takeaway on that. Look at your client list, monitor your CRM, and look to see when people are responding to your sales calls. Then, as always, friends, keep your emails, keep your marketing short.

Recognize that from a marketing standpoint it’s best to reach people not at random times, but at times that you’re going to get the very best open rate. And be aware that times have changed.

Idea 4: Work with people on their deadlines.

In a post-COVID world, there’s going to be urgency of deadlines as people get back to some semblance of normalcy.

So rather than asking needs, goals, and desires, what I’m really focusing in on are, “What are your deadlines?” Or, “As you get back to work, what are the deadlines being placed on you?” And I look at this from a technology perspective, from a marketing perspective, and from a sales perspective—and then I work backwards from those deadlines.

See, a lot of times in the sales world we sell forward, meaning that we work with folks and we try to push them into our sales funnel, rather than us working with their particular sales funnels or buying cycles.

So one of the things I’m doing and that I’m teaching in my sales training is how to really get intimate with sales contacts’ and prospects’ deadlines. My questions might go like this, “What are your deadlines? “What do you have coming up?” and “What’s going on for you?” And that way I back myself into success as a sales person. I use their own deadlines to potentially drive the conversation forward from my perspective.

Idea 5: You are more likely to do business with somebody post-COVID that you’ve already done business with in the past.

Why is that? That’s because there are two things in sales that really stop us. No 1., with new customers there’s that “stranger danger” effect, and stranger danger is real.

And no. 2, there are going to be valid health issues—safety concerns that your prospects and customers have.

Some of you in the past have been really big on getting face-to-face with your customers. And I’m going to say that over the next six months or so, getting face-to-face is probably going to be pretty unlikely.

The good news though, as I said before, is that people are getting very proficient with Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Meet, and that kind of thing. So I think that video selling has become a new thing that is very important for all of us to embrace.

In addition, you truly are more likely to get a referral from a past customer. So, what’s your referral program? Personally, I like to refer business. I think it’s good for business. I think people appreciate it, but you have to ask yourself, “What am I really going to get in terms of a referral?” And then you have to consider whether or not you have a good referral program.

Idea 6: You must set time blocks and create a good rhythm.

Doing this can really help you get focused. When you’re setting these time blocks, ask yourself, “How has the time zone changed in a post-COVID world?” Think of that, and then realize that you need to get religious about those time zones, those time blocks.

Block them out. Pay attention to those time zones. And really live and die by them. Get consistent. Randomness is really not going to help you.

I share in my sales training that I also use lists in my CRM to keep me focused. Whether you tag customers in those lists, or whatever you do in your process, in those time zones I like to work a lot of lists in my sales efforts. And I think that’s vitally important for sales success.

Idea 7: Sales is a numbers game that you can use to your advantage.

I love relationships, but when push comes to shove math doesn’t lie. So make sure you understand how many sales calls you will need to make and how many emails will you need to send to get a meeting booked with somebody.

And then once you book that meeting, how many sales meetings does it take for you to actually get a closed deal? Use that math to reach sales success.

So to close, it’s OK to sell in a post-COVID world. Of course, be sympathetic, but just realize that now is the time to sell. Get back to work. Stay ahead of the game. And I think we’re going to be successful in a post-COVID world.

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On-Target Sales Prospecting in 6 Steps

Most of your sales prospects really don’t want to talk to you—at first. You’re probably acutely aware of this as you approach them and try to build new business.

Even though these prospects may truly need you and your products to grow their businesses, they simply don’t have much time for you. So that’s where sales training is critical to help you build a prospect list that’s laser-focused for success.

I’ve figured out six steps to on-target prospecting that work for me. Put these into practice, and watch for measurable results in your acquisition of new business.

1.) Define your prospect.

Do you have certain criteria you use before you put someone on your prospect list? I’ve noticed in my coaching that a lot of sales reps are fairly random in who they aim for. To see results beyond random ones, come up with a list of 3-4 qualities of the ideal prospect before you just put a company on your list.

Defining the ideal prospect is really about using a test to help you see who’s on target. My test is, do they currently buy the types of products I’m selling–or have they in the past? If the answer is yes, they’re on the list.

If it’s no, I wouldn’t necessarily NOT put them on my list if I feel they’re a great fit, but they’re not going to be at the top.

One last tip in defining who should be on your list: Every prospect doesn’t need to be a whale, or a massive potential account. Whales are harder to close. Don’t load your list with nothing but massive potential clients.

2.) Identify your call-to-close ratios to fine-tune your prospect list.

To create a highly targeted Top 10 or Top 20 list, you’ll need to know how many prospects you need to get to goal. And that’s all about your call-to-close ratio.

To calculate your call-to-close ratio, consider this. If your goal is $10k, for instance, and your average deal is $1k, then you’ll need to close 10 deals to get to $10k.

But unless you close 100%, you’ll need to meet with more than 10 people to get your 10 deals. So basically, just double it. If your goal is $10k and your average is $1k per deal and your close ratio is about 50%, you’ll need to meet with about 20 people to close 10 deals.

If your close ratio is 20% … you’ll need to meet with more people to get to your 10 deals.

So you want to create your most targeted Top 10 or Top 20 list … or you might need a Big 50 or a Hot 100.

3.) Create email that connects.

Email is obviously a primary way sales reps reach out to people, but in sales training we’re told that nobody wants to read our email.

The only way to cut through the clutter is to keep emails simple and relevant.

Emails that hit the bullseye follow a three, three-and-three format. Three words in the subject line. Three sentences in the email. The email must address one of three needs.  Can you save them money, make them money or save them time?  What can you do for them?  I use the 3-3-3 formula all the time and it works.

4.) Craft voicemail that cuts straight to the core.

Once again, realize that practically nobody wants to listen to your voicemail. So be strategic. If you start out with your name, nobody will listen. You will be deleted.

In my sales training I always stress to format your voicemail—30 seconds max—in three parts, something like this …

  • Share some insight you have about their business
  • Give a success story from your work with another similar company
  • Say why they should call or email you back

5.) Cultivate the best time to prospect.

This is about reaching out to people at a time when they are able to reply.

I’ve found that the two best times to prospect are at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Because most people don’t book meetings before lunch, and they don’t book meetings before they go home.

Obviously, you might have a best time to call on people based upon your business or product category. Every product is different. Every territory is different. And every country is different.

6.) Put in place a smart pattern of follow up frequency.

The pattern of three works well here, too. You’ll find that I refer to it time and again in sales training, and that’s because the power of three works and it’s well documented.

So if I reach out to someone with an email or voicemail on Monday, I’m not going to call again on Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m going to reach out again on Thursday—three days later.

A colleague of mine refers to this as “polite persistence.” And using this pattern can increase your sales when you incorporate it into your ongoing sales training and development.

To sum up, new business prospecting is critical to sales success. If you dedicate one hour every day to practicing the targeted sales training process I’ve outlined here, you’ll find your sales hitting the mark and exceeding what you thought possible.

About this blogger:

 

Ryan Dohrn is an award winning sales coach and offers sales training to thousands of sales executives each year.  He is also an international motivational speaker and the author of the best-selling sales book, Selling Backwards.  Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media, a boutique sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on sales training and sales coaching for companies in 17 unique industry sectors from media to tech to aviation.  He is also the owner and Publisher of SalesTrainingWorld.com an online portal for sales training success.

 

Contact information:

Ryan R. Dohrn

President/Founder, Brain Swell Media LLC

Publisher, SalesTrainingWorld.com

Ryan@BrainSwellMedia.com

 

http://www.BrainSwellMedia.com

http://RyanDohrn.com

http://360adsales.com

http://sellingbackwards.com

http://SalesTrainingWorld.com

 

Follow him on Twitter.com/ryandohrn for daily tips and advice.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/ryandohrn

 

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Get Fired Up! Re-Ignite Your Sales Life.

All sales reps at, one time or another, wake up and really don’t want to sell.  Maybe it is just one day.  Maybe it is all week.  Whatever the case, you have been bucked off the horse and you know that you will be in a world of hurt if you do not get back on the horse and ride again.  Trust me, this happens to all of us.  As a sales coach, I will get on a call with a sales rep that is normally ON FIRE and they will say, “Ryan I just don’t feel like selling today.”   I get it.

Lets explore six ways to re-ignite your passion for sales.

1.  Change your environment. When times get tough I find a new spot to work. Whether it is a coffee shop or a pool, I change my scenery.  I have gone to the lake and rented a pontoon boat.  I have rented a hotel room with a balcony and a great view of the pool. I have even caught a cheap flight to Vegas.  Change your scenery to re-inspire yourself.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST ON THIS TOPIC, Click here!!

2. Go back to your core training and use math to your advantage. You have heard at least 300 times that every “no” is one step closer to a “yes.” Right?  For those of you that have read my book Selling Backwards you know that I work my “Big 50 prospect list” religiously. I work 50 clients every month to get 10 quality meetings. From those 10 meetings I present 8 great proposals. From those 8 proposals I close 4 or more deals. What is your prospecting plan?  Figure it out and grind it out.

3.  Try the non-sales approach. Go to a web site like Inc.com and find a great article that will be applicable to your prospect or client list.  Maybe an article on motivating your team.  Then, share that article with your clients or prospects.  I truly feel that 40% of your sales communications should be non-sales related. You will be blown away at the number of times a non-sales email will generate business.

4.  Seek out inspiration. Watch a Tony Robbins video on YouTube. Listen to my podcast. (Wink). Read an inspirational book or blog.  Read Brendon Brouchard’s book The Motivation Manifesto.  Get inspired. Seek out motivation. It probably will not seek you out.

5.  Dress for success and rock it out!  What?  I’m not joking. Put on a suit or your best outfit and jam to your favorite and loudest music. I mean JAM IT OUT!  Go all out. Put on the makeup. Wear the suit only reserved for interviews. Do your hair. Do it. Dress like you are meeting with the CEO. Then, turn up the volume. Fake it until you feel it.

6.  Find some love. Call on clients that love you. When things are really crazy and I feel overwhelmed I will often call on clients that love me or I will call my Mom. Why?  Mommy loves you no matter what.

We will all fall off the horse now and again. No big deal. Get up.  Dust yourself off and get back in the saddle.

Need a sales coach or sales training?  We are here to help.  Reach out:  Ryan@BrainSwellMedia.com . 803-634-3886

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6 Ways To Show Your Clients Some Love

The month of February brings to the forefront a single day where love is the focus. Valentines Day. Yes, that one-day where we go all out for that one person we love dearly. I would suggest to you that if you wait until February 14 you have missed 11 other months to show your love. Because I am a sales coach and not a life coach, I need to quickly move over to the lovers in your business life? From a sales training perspective, what have you done recently to show your clients some love? If you don’t take care of your clients your competitors will! That I can promise you.

Experts tell us that it takes fives times the money and five times the energy to win a new client. So, what can we do to show our clients some love and keep them in a long-term relationship? Let’s have some fun on this topic, but also look at some serious ideas to boost your relationships with your clients.

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Here are 6 ways to show your clients some love this month and beyond.

  1. What about sending hand written love notes? The art of the hand written thank you note has neared extinction. Join me in reviving this age-old sales retention activity. Buy some nice thank you cards and grab a nice pen and get to work. I like to send along a $5 Starbucks card with my thank you notes too. Is your handwriting poor? Check out Bond.co (not dot com. Dot co) They will write your thank you notes for you for $7 each.
  2. Who doesn’t love to eat? Send some lovely small edible gifts. I use 1-800-flowers.com to send small tokens of appreciation like popcorn or cookies. A little secret is to buy the free all year shipping pass. This means all of your shipping is covered for the year at one flat rate. There are many non-floral gifts for under $20.
  3. How about sending non-sales emails of love? On a monthly basis I like to find a great motivational article or Youtube video to share with my clients. I find many on Inc.com under their motivation section. I write a simple email and send them the link. I do NOT mention sales at all. “Hi Bob. I came across this great article and thought I would share it with you. – insert link – . Have a great day. – Ryan” In my sales training workshops, we spend 45 minutes on this important topic. Why? Because this retention activity truly needs to be a part of your daily sales life.
  4. Introduce your clients to experts that will love them too. Set-up meetings for your clients with subject matter experts that you know will benefit their business. For example, find a cyber security expert or an SEO expert and work out a deal with these pros where the first consultation is free for your clients. Or, you pay for it.
  5. Online educational love-fests. Or, you can call them “webinars” if you want. Lol. Educational webinars are a great way to show your clients some love. Arrange for an expert to talk on a webinar about topics that are important to the industry or community that you serve. You might event tap some of the subject matter experts from #4 above for these webinars. The topics you choose are important to draw a crowd. You might even consider using a survey to determine the topics that are important to your clients. This is an invitation only type of online event. Those invited can ask questions as well. Don’t worry about large numbers of attendees. Keep it intimate and action oriented. Do not over think this retention activity. I use GotoWebinar for this type of activity. GTW is cost effective and I have never one time experienced a technical issue with the system.
  6. How about a sexy phone message from the boss? Ok, that might be a stretch. Arrange to have your boss or a member of top brass simply call the client. Even if you get a voicemail the impact is awesome. Clients love to hear that the boss cares about them enough to call them. If you make this a monthly activity, the time commitment is fairly minimal yet the impact is monumental. Keep in mind, you will get voice mail 90% of the time.

If you will wait for the holidays to show your love. By the time you wait for the Christmas holiday to say I love you, your competitor has asked them for a date 11 times. The odds of success are in their favor. Show your clients some love today! Make these activities a part of your sales training program and your annual client retention program.

Loving your clients and having an active retention plan in place is mission critical to your long-term success in the sales business. Those that master the retention game survive a VERY long time in the sales game. Don’t wait. Start showing some love today!

XO Ryan

Ryan Dohrn is an internationally certified sales coach and sales trainer with a focus on seven multi-national industries. Ryan is also a top sales conference speaker and sales meeting speaker.

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T.A.R.G.E.T. Your Sales Message to Grow Results!

The key to your success in the world of sales is increasing the number of meetings you are granted by prospective clients.  Developing an effective prospecting process can be the difference between life and death in your sales career.  For me, the goal of prospecting is simply getting to a meeting.  Period.  The goal of prospecting is not to sell anything.  I am just hoping to meet with a client via phone or in person for 20 minutes.  If you are selling during the prospecting phase you will greatly reduce your success.  Over the course of 25 years in the sales and marketing business I have seen many prospecting plans from many unique angles.  I have identified five factors in the prospecting process that will increase your chances of being granted a meeting with a prospective client – I call this my T.A.R.G.E.T. prospecting tool.  I use this tool every day in both writing my prospecting emails and leaving voicemails for my prospects.  I will break it down into six pieces for you; each piece builds on the previous. 

Listen on iTunes as well, click here.

The T in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “time”.  A person’s time is highly valuable to them, each and every day.  The main reason that more prospects do not grant you access to present to them is the simple fact that many other sales people have wasted their time.  It is imperative that you focus on NOT wasting their time in your prospecting emails and voicemails.  You want to articulate that you realize other sales people may have wasted their time.  But, in doing so, be careful not to sound like all the other sellers that also emailed them that day.  An often over-used phrase in prospecting emails is “I know that your time is valuable.”  Or, “I want to be respectful of your time.”  These two phrases are common and un-authentic.  Instead, I want you to consider phrases like, “I promise not to waste your time.”  Or, “ I’m sure other sales people in the past have wasted your time.”

The A in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “authentic”.  Showing that you are authentic is critical in breaking the ice with someone you do not know.  People that are authentic are not afraid to admit their faults.  People that are authentic are more focused on others then themselves.  People that are authentic truly want to help you.  I would ask you to consider phrases in your prospecting emails and voicemails like, “I truly feel that this idea will benefit you.”  Or, “I have seen firsthand how this has benefited my other clients.”  Or, “I have three clients like you that are seeing solid success working with us.”  Or, “I fully recognize the fact that you do not know me.”  Your authenticity is also further driven by your focus on all the points in the T.A.R.G.E.T. system I am proposing to you.

The R in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “relevant”.  There is nothing worse that receiving an irrelevant, generic sales email from someone you do not know.  I am amazed that companies still continue to use this approach as a prospecting tool.  It does not work unless you email thousands and thousands of prospects, and even then it is hit and miss.  Instead, I want to prove quickly that I am relevant to my prospect by pointing out something from their website, company Facebook® page or their profile on LinkedIn®.  I recognize that this might come across as creepy if it is not handled properly.  For example, “before reaching out to you, I was doing some research on your website and saw that you have recently moved into the aviation industry.”  Or, “while researching your company, I saw on your LinkedIN profile that we both worked for ABC Company many years back.”  Or, “in preparing to contact you, I saw on your company’s Facebook page that you’re promoting the XYZ product right now.“  Generic does not work.  Relevant always wins.

The G in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “go”.  This premise is simple: I want my email to be focused.  We want them to move forward, and we need to ask them to do so.  I am not suggesting that you be pushy or arrogant, I am suggesting that you consider phrases like, “I truly feel that I can help you with ______.  Can we chat for 20 minutes or less via phone Tuesday at 9am, 11am or 3pm EST?”  It is important to understand that each component of the T.A.R.G.E.T. prospecting system is important.

The E in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for “ethical”.  Have you ever received an email with a great subject line, and then opened the email to discover that you were tricked?  If you are anything like me, this makes you mad.  I have never, ever applauded a sales person for tricking me.  The subject line is often the ethical barometer by which you are judged – it sets the tone for your chances of getting your email opened or replied to.  I recently wrote a blog called 10 Great Sales Subject Lines.  Check it out at this link: https://salestrainingworld.com/sales-training/10-sales-email-subject-lines-to-get-an-open-read-and-reply/  Some of my favorite subject lines include the date that you want to meet the prospect and the name of your prospect’s competitor.

The final T in T.A.R.G.E.T. stands for tick-tock.  Meaning, tick-tock like a clock.  When is the best time to send a prospecting email?  What time of day should you send an email to get a reply?  10am and 2pm are the most common times for meetings in corporate America so these would be two times to avoid.  Your email will just not get the attention required to receive a quality reply, if any reply at all.  What times of day are predictable for fewer meetings?  11:15am and 4:15pm.  Why?   Not many meetings are booked at 11:15 because they will potentially interfere with lunch. Not many meetings are booked at 4:15 because they will potentially interfere with happy hour.  I have seen a dramatic increase in email opens and replies during these two times of day.  Maybe you sell to an industry working on a different schedule, like restaurants or contractors?  You will need to alter your email prospecting send times to coincide with times that your potential clients will be most attentive.

Let’s bring this T.A.R.G.E.T. blog to a final point: increasing the number of meetings that you are granted by prospective clients is the key to your success in the world of sales.  Period.  Without the meeting, you do not have a chance to present anything.  Developing an effective prospecting process can be the difference between life and death in your sales career, and email is one step of that process.

Remember, if sales was easy everyone would be doing it.

Ryan

About this blogger:

Ryan Dohrn is an award winning sales coach and offers sales training to thousands of sales executives each year.  He is also an international motivational speaker and the author of the best selling sales book, Selling Backwards.  Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media, a boutique sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on sales training and coaching for media and

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4 Innovative Corporate Sales Training Tips to Boost Relevance and Drive Better Sales

Today’s consumers demand relevance, but what is relevance exactly?

While Oxford English Dictionary has its definition of “relevance,” what you can take away from that definition is that relevance is a state of “connection” and “appropriate.”

You might ask yourself how relevance plays a role in driving better sales and what it takes for your business to be more relevant.

No, you do not have to stalk your prospects on Facebook. Instead, you can be relevant by training your sales staff to recognize the needs of your client and develop a customized experience based on those needs.

How Relevance Is Finding Its Way into Corporate Sales Training

If you have taken a corporate sales skills training course recently, you might have noticed that there was a common theme: Know your audience.

As a sales professional, you must prove to the prospective customer that you have done your homework, and you are presenting a solution that benefits them in copious ways. While this sounds easy, many businesses have failed at relevance.

4 Ways to Succeed at Boosting Relevancy

Relevancy does not have to be some daunting task, but it also is not something you quickly throw together and toss into the next email campaign. When you are creating your sales courses for staff members, deploy these four techniques to ensure they understand what you mean by “relevance.”

1. Stop Harassing People with Generic Emails

Generic emails to prospects are not only turn-offs, but they border the line of offensive.

Take a recent email I received. A major company in the social media industry sent me a 700-word email. The subject line was catchy and read “Free Food?” Therefore, my interest was piqued, and I opened it.

Sadly, after the subject line, I was left disappointed. The email itself was generic, boring, and talked more about the company. There were no benefits for myself, no personalization, and the email was irrelevant.

I deleted the email disappointed in myself for giving into the subject line. After all, my opening of that email has now sent a message to that company to keep sending them. Luckily, we have “unsubscribe” for that reason.

While the “unsubscribe” option saved me from more generic harassment, for that company, they just lost an opportunity. You do not want to send generic emails that turn people away or worse, force them to unsubscribe from your list.

2. Use the 3 Elements of Relevancy

Relevancy is easier when you have the three proper elements present. These elements are offered up at corporate sales training seminars because they teach you how to draw in your prospect.

What are the three elements?

  • Subject Line Specificity: Your subject line presents a solution to a particular problem. For the B2B sector, perhaps you want to help a company save on office supply costs, so start with “Revolutionary Products that Reduce Your Office Supply Costs.”
  • Keep the Body Relevant: First, personalize your email. Mention the recipient’s name and avoid the generic “Hello Friend.” Then, keep your body relevant, short, and sweet. Show the prospect you have done your homework, and briefly, explain what solution you offer to their particular problem.
  • Include Samples: People will not nip at something that they cannot see. To pique interest, include a link to a promo video or entice them with an introductory discount so that they have a reason to follow through.

3. Do Your Homework

Research your prospect thoroughly.

With today’s technology at your fingertips, you have plenty of ways to research the industry or company you are hoping to work with. For example, you can use tools like Google Alerts for industry news. Research prospects on LinkedIn to see what groups and interests they have.

4. Always Be Authentic with Your Approach

Authenticity means you are genuine.

Being authentic is not a sales strategy either. According to Melanie Lane from HubSpot, everyone knows when you are authentic and when you are trying to force your message.

Consumers do not want you to tell them. Instead, the less you sell, the more open they are to buy. So, if you offer up advice for money-saving tips, stick with the information and do not make it an opportunity to pitch your product. The sale comes naturally when the authenticity reigns.

What Have We Learned About Relevancy and Corporate Sales Training?

If you want to build a team of selling superstars, create in-house corporate sales training courses that implement these four steps.

Furthermore, hire a sales coach to help with your corporate sales training. At Brain Swell, we help you unlock the skills you need, connect you with top-tier coaches, and take your business to the next level.

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7 Corporate Sales Training Tips to Keep Your Sales Flowing Through the Fall Slow-Down

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4 Behaviors Stopping You From Being a Corporate Sales Closer

Would you like to know how to attract more businesses to your products or services?

It is actually a lot simpler than you may think. You don’t have to hypnotize or manipulate them into buying. All you need to do is just give them what they want.

With the right corporate sales training, you will be increasing your sales in no time, while maintaining a good business-to-business relationship.

The key to soaring corporate sales is an understanding of the human behavior.

Fundamentally, all human beings have the same mental triggers that usually drive their actions. To fully understand and influence your potential clients, you need to know what those mental triggers are and how you can effectively utilize them in your corporate sales message.

Corporate Sales Training: 4 Things Corporate Clients Don’t Like

Here are four typical psychological behaviors that may block you from closing an otherwise successful corporate sales deal.

1. Corporate Clients Don’t Like Change

Have you ever tried keeping a New Year’s resolution? Maybe lose a few pounds?

If you have, then you definitely know how hard it is to change a particular behavior. Despite your good intention and dedication to fixing unhealthy habits, many people still continue to eat junk food, drink excessively, and fail to exercise.

As a corporate salesperson, you must understand that one of your key roles in corporate sales is asking businesses to change from buying nothing to something, or from buying from a competitor to you.

So how do you go about it?

The best way to inflict positive change to your potential clients is by sharing your success stories. Businesses will feel more confident and more secure with your products and services once they discover how it has helped many other similar businesses before them.

2. Corporate Clients Don’t Like Doing Business with Strangers

From your childhood, you probably remember the phrase “stranger danger”. Well, guess what? It’s back! And it’s here to tremendously affect your corporate sales.

Nobody is willing to buy from a person they barely know or heard of. A corporate sale is no exception.

When selling a product or service to another company, you need to inject information that is more relevant and helpful to the company. Let the company see how much of an asset your product or service can be to them.

To this end, before making any prospective corporate sales call, ensure that you have thoroughly gone through the company’s website, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles as well as the general internet to gather all the information necessary to beat the “stranger danger” mindset.

3. Corporate Clients Don’t Like Making Hard Decisions

Of course, we’ve all sat for multiple-choice exams. How does it feel when you get to a question and you’re stuck between answer A and B? Frustrating, right?

So how do you expect your prospective clients to buy products or services from you if you put them in a similar position?

When selling, it is imperative that you make it easy for businesses to buy from you. Make it very clear how your products and services will solve their problem, make them more money and/or save them time.

Don’t put your customers into a situation where they have to think hard about striking a deal with you. In fact, don’t let them think at all. Present yourself to them in such a way that they’ll see you as a caped crusader who has come to their rescue.

4. Corporate Clients Don’t Like to Buy What They Don’t Understand

By nature, people are averse to risk. If they don’t understand what you are selling to them, they’ll definitely not buy from you.

86% of people are estimated to be visual learners. So the best way to make clients understand what you are selling is by using visuals. When a client asks a question try to answer it in a more visualized manner. This means that you should use graphs, videos, and previous success stories, basically anything that they can relate to at a personal level.

And that is how they will start buying from you.

Good Corporate Sales Training Gets You More Sales

In order to make it huge in corporate sales, you need to have a sales process and stick to it. Carefully analyze the human behavior and create a repeatable process that can help you learn and grow to replicate with each and every client you come across. That’s the only way you’ll achieve your corporate sales success.


About Ryan Dohrn

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Ryan Dohrn is a corporate sales coach and offers corporate sales training to thousands of corporate sales executives each year. He is also an international motivational speaker and the author of the best-selling sales book, Selling Backwards. Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media, a boutique corporate sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on sales training and sales coaching for companies in 17 unique industry sectors from media to tech to aviation. He is also the owner and Publisher of SalesTrainingWorld.com an online portal for sales training success.

Contact information: Ryan R. DohrnPresident/Founder, Brain Swell Media LLCPublisher, SalesTrainingWorld.comRyan@BrainSwellMedia.com

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10 Sales Email Subject Lines To Get An Open, Read and Reply

Many sales trainers talk about the “good ole days” before email.  When the phone was your weapon of choice.  Many even suggest that email has ruined the sales process.   I could NOT disagree more.  In my sales training workshops I teach that email is an amazing piece of technology.  If used in the right way it can truly help the sales professional win and grow business. 

Before we get into the best sales subject lines for email success, please allow me to offer three pieces of email sales advice. 

1.     Email does not replace the phone.  The phone is an amazing tool when trying to build a relationship with a prospect from a distance. 

2.     All to often you ignore the phone and only focus on email.  Sales superstars know how to balance phone, email and face time to maximize the total sales process. 

3.     Email lacks tone and emotion.  Of course you can YELL and 😉  , but, your voice is a powerful sales tool.  During my sales training workshops I teach a pattern of voice mail and email prospecting that gets results!   Do not give up on the phone when these sales email subject lines get you results. 

Here are my top 10, email subject lines that have been getting me results in the last 30 days or less.   I will also provided email examples and advice on each as well.       

1.     Subject line:  (Name of a mutual connection) recommended I get in touch.

Body of email: “Hi Donnie.  Ryan Dohrn recommends that you and I touch base about _______.  He and I mutually felt that this idea could benefit you.  Could I have 20 minutes via phone to discuss this week?  I promise just 20 minutes.  I take pride in not wasting peoples time.”

Advice:  There is clearly no better way to connect with a new sales prospect than through a referral.  Agree?  Also, notice that I assure the prospect that I will not waste their time.  Many sales people before you have wasted a prospects time.  You want to take pride in not being one of those “vampires of time.”

2.     Subject line:  I was just wondering…

Body of email:  “Hi Rachel.  I was wondering if you would be open to a 20 minute phone call about (insert sales topic here)?  I promise to respect your time.  20 minutes is all that I need.”

Advice: This sales subject line is often used as a follow-up or can also be used as a way to offer a meeting invitation.  For example,

3.     Subject line:  May 29th?

Body of email:   “Hi Ron.  I will be in Clinton, IA on May 29th for a meeting.  Could I get on your calendar for 20 minutes in the morning? I promise just 20 minutes.  I take pride in not wasting peoples time.” 

Advice: I often use this subject line to request a meeting date or to offer a follow-up date for a meeting.

4.     Subject line:  3 reasons…

Body of email:  “Hi John.  I truly feel there are three reasons why we should work together.

1.     Your mission.  I understand your company and appreciate your mission.

2.     Your support needs. I have a quality reputation for offering best in class customer service.

3.     Your budget.  We are the only company offering your payment options. “

Advice: This subject line is most often used after you have tried several times to connect with a prospect via email.  The idea is to list three reasons why the prospect should reengage with you via email.

5.     Subject line:  Did something happen?

After a proposal or a meeting this subject line will often play with a prospects emotions and get you a response.   I might even say in the email “Hi Terry, Was there something that happened after our meeting that I can help you resolve?  You sounded very positive about setting up a follow-up call.  I am not a high-pressure type of guy.  I truly want to help you with ________.  ”

6.    Subject line:  New idea for you.

Body of email: “Hi Bob, I would love to share with you a new budget friendly idea that is really working for other companies like yours.  20 minutes is all that I need. I promise just 20 minutes.  I take pride in not wasting peoples time.”     

Advice:  I like to use this subject line right out of the gate when trying to set a meeting with a new prospect.  Of course you need a new idea to share.  Or, you can share a thought that will give your prospect a slight competitive advantage.

7.     Subject line: (Name of a competitor) is marketing very well?  Or, just the company name of a prospects competition.

Body of email:   “I see that John Doe is really marketing a lot these days.  I have an idea to really give them a run for their money.”  Or, “Hi Rex, I see that John Doe just launched the new ABC Model.  I have a unique idea to share with you that could give them a run for their money.”  Or, “Hi John, your competitor John Doe just bought into our system.  I truly feel you need to take a look at this as well.”

Advice: This subject line is most often used by my media sales coaching clients.  But, it applies to other sales sectors as well.  This sales subject line will ruffle a few feathers.  So, be careful.  I never EVER share client information with other clients.  I am simply using this subject line to prompt a reply based on friendly competition. Again, you want to be ethical with what you share using this approach.

8.     Subject line:  Wrong person?

Body of email:  “Hi Michael, I hate to be that sales guy that keeps emailing the wrong person.  Any chance you could point me in the right direction of the person that handles _________ ?” 

Advice: Often used as a last ditch effort, this subject line allows the client to provide you information that you can use to move them off your prospect list.  Be real and often you will get a reply.  This truly only works if the sales prospecting pattern you use is aggressive.  If you only email once a month, forget about it.

9.     Subject line:  20 Minutes?

Body of email:  “Hi Nicole.  I saw on your web site that you just launched the A350 Model.  I have an idea to help you promote that to our client list of 36,0000.  20 minutes is all I need to share with you an idea.  I promise to not waste your time and keep you on the phone for 45 minutes.  I pride myself in not being that type of sales person.”   Or, “Hi Nicole.  I saw on your web site that you just won the contract for Jayco.  Congrats.  I have an idea to help you with the staffing issues related to that contract.  20 minutes is all I need to share with you an idea.  I promise to not waste your time and keep you on the phone for 45 minutes.”    

Advice: This subject line can be tricky if you do not also include a promise.  You will need to tweak the above based on what problem you hope to solve.  Or, what your idea can do to save her time, money or effort.    

10.  Subject line:  I will respect your answer.

Body of email: “I would very much enjoy working together, but if you have decided to not move forward I will be very respectful of your decision.  Any update on your project decision status is appreciated.”

Advice:  Not used enough.  It is often taboo to allow a client to say no.  To encourage them to say no is also taboo.  But, what I have found is that when the client feels like they can tell you no they will at least reply.

Final thoughts:  There are certain sales training programs that teach you “sales tricks”.  Those zinger lines of narrative that force a client to a “yes decision”.  In the day and time when there were not many options for products and services those “sales tricks” worked well.   Today, most buyers will not tolerate the high-pressure sales tactics of the past.  I find that my systematic approach to sales relies on three things… working the right client on the right pattern with the right message.  Relevance is key. 

How can I help you and your team?  Each year I train hundreds of sales professionals.  My methods are fun, ethical and based on the simple fact that I sell every day to feed my family.  My ideas are fresh, relevant, tactical and you can use them right away. 

Media clients please visit:  http://360adsales.com

Get out there and sell something!

Ryan Dohrn

Ryan@BrainSwellMedia.com

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