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Strategic Sales Success

How to sell more without working harder.

This month’s topic is strategic sales success, with the goal of selling more without working harder.

Success is achieved by doing the right things consistently, not always by applying more brute force. There are those of you putting in more hours than you need to because you are doing things ineffectively and trying to make up for it by working harder. This strategy will never surpass someone putting in the same hours more effectively. Working harder is not the solution and never has been. We will show you how to be more effective without any extra effort or time.

Selling to New Clients
Photo by AzmanL/Getty Images.

Perceived Value vs. Price

Sales happen at the intersection of perceived value and price. Your prospects already have a perceived value in their heads. And not just a dollar value, but a life value, too — how important this solution is to their lifestyle, social status, or any number of things they value. If these values intersect with your price, then you have got a sale.

Figure 1 shows this fact as a graph. The yellow line represents the prospect’s increasing perceived need for value as price increases, otherwise known as “spend more, get more.” Their ideal value is represented as a green line, this is the value they expect to derive from the investment. The white dot is at just the right spot of price and perceived value needed to create a sale. However, the red and yellow dots show a solution where the price is not matched to the prospect’s perceived value, so no sale.

Chart displaying price versus value.
Figure 1: Price vs. Value

The red dot is a solution proposed at a higher price but where the prospect does not see the value. This could be a solution that is mismatched to their tastes, such as higher-end audio or video where they just don’t care. With the yellow dot, the solution you have proposed will provide more value to the prospect, but it is more than they are willing to spend. These may seem similar, but there is a distinction. The yellow dot shows a situation where the solution provides more of what the prospect actually values while the red dot is more of what you value. Both are at a higher price, and only one is truly an opportunity for the skillful salesperson.

You must properly qualify your prospects to understand what they value. If what they value is a good fit for your offering, then you should continue with the proposal. If not, move on — you are not making the sale anyway.

Effective Qualifying

The process of understanding the clients’ needs begins with qualifying them, and effective qualifying means getting to “no” as quickly as possible. That probably sounds insane, but if you can quickly determine if what you are offering is a potential match for what the prospect values, it’s a GO or NO-GO call. This goal is simple: Waste less time with the wrong prospects and spend more time with the right ones.

What will you do with the time you free up?

  • Build New Relationships With Aligned Partners — Relationships take at least 12 months to bear fruit. The best time to start was a year ago, the second-best time is now.
  • Put More Effort Into the Right Prospects — How much more effective could you be if you spent more time understanding the needs of your ideal customer and building your sales process around them?
  • Follow Up More Effectively — Don’t take this personally, but your follow-up probably stinks. It’s non-inventive, uninspiring, and sounds like every other salesperson who is “just checking in.” You need time to be better at follow-up.
  • Learn and Grow — Regularly sharpen your skills through reading, podcasts, practice, roleplays, coaching, and peer groups. The time and money invested here will pay back 10x.
  • Reach Out to Existing Clients — There is gold in them hills!

If you start qualifying your prospects tomorrow, your results will improve — stop making assumptions about what you know to be true. Just ask!

Asking Better Questions

There are five keys to asking better questions:

  1. Open Ended — Not yes or no questions
  2. Probing — Ask questions that are thoughtful and draw out deeper insights. You can start with superficial questions and go deeper. For example, “What did you like about your prior system?” The client answers, “It was easy to use.” You continue, “Tell me more about that…”
  3. Conversational — Not interrogational
  4. Vision-Based — The questions should draw out their goals, such as “What do you envision?” “How will you use…?” and “Who is going to be the main person for interacting with…?” The intention here is to help them explain what they see, so you can clearly see it, too. Then repeat it back to them.
  5. Hide the “Why” Getting to the motivation or the “why” is the gold we are looking for, but you can’t ask “Why?” directly because it is a defensive question. So, you must get to it in other ways. For example: “What makes price the most important consideration for you?” “How will the aesthetics of your system affect your enjoyment of it?” “When will you be enjoying the performance of your system?”

Understanding their motivations gets you closer to their value. This usually takes at least five “Why-based” questions. Peel back the layers, then you build that into your solution.

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Communicating Effectively

So, you have qualified the prospect and their values and find that their desires align closely with what your company provides. You create a proposal that fits like a glove. Now what? The fact is that great qualifying alone will solve many of your sales challenges, and the rest usually exist because of a lack of quality communication during the sale and after the proposal.

There are four keys to effective communication:

  1. Set the Expectations of Your Process — Stay in control of the sale and let them know what to expect and get agreement at each step of the process.
  2. Know the Stakeholders — If you can’t meet with them, record a video proposal review, because nobody presents like you!
  3. Enforce MFM — MFM stands for “Meeting From a Meeting.” Never end a conversation in the sales process without an agreed-upon next meeting.
  4. Follow-Up Until You Get a “No” or a “Yes” — Don’t just follow up; add value. Never “check in” — make it relevant and valuable. Most sales happen within the 5th and 12th contact and most salespeople give up too early.

How do you know if any of this stuff is going to work? You need to track the sales process to see your progress. If you don’t have a system in place, you can start with a simple spreadsheet and track these four things for now:

  1. Name and Address
  2. How They Found You
  3. Dollar Amount of Proposal
  4. Status (Not Qualified, Proposed, Lost, Won)

Key Takeaways

Here are the five most important points I want you to walk away with.

  1. Truth: Working Harder is Not the Solution
  2. Truth: Sales Happen at the Intersection of Value and Price
  3. Qualify for Quick “No’s”
  4. Communicate
  5. Track Data and Iterate to Improve

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