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May 2010

What Is Better, Selling Fast or Selling Slow?

Sales leaders are notoriously impatient. In sales meetings, they talk about time-based competition. It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small…It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow: How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business They quote from the book It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small…It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow: How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business. They sketch on white boards, explaining the current sales pipeline and asking everybody to accelerate sales. The battle cry in the sales office is “Speed is your friend.” Every sales leader wants fast sales; the trouble is, there aren’t many fast buyers. Prospects take their time, and they aren’t going to speed up their process just because you are in a hurry.

Unfortunately, speed often kills more sales opportunities. I’ve seen too many salespeople chase prospects at high speed until they realized they were chasing garbage trucks. If they had done their homework, they’d have identified and gone after the money trucks.

I’m reminded of a story I heard recently: Two bulls checked out a herd of cows in the field across the street. The younger bull said, “Let’s jump over the road and get ourselves a couple of cows!” The older bull responded, “Let’s walk over quietly and get them all.”

Speed is often the result of ignoring and avoiding a thoughtful life.

My neighbor is in the insurance business, and he has a dock next to ours. On weekends, he drives a powerboat with twin engines that deliver 500 horsepower. I like to kayak. It gives me a good workout, and I always take my camera with me. At the end of the day, I may have a great shot of a bald eagle, a blue heron, or a deer. Since he drives his boat fast, it pounds the water, and most of his pictures end up blurry. He tells me that he doesn’t see wildlife from the boat, but he sees deer from his living room window. Sure, he covers more ground in 10 minutes than I do in two hours, but he ends up seeing less and going nowhere fast. And since he doesn’t work out, he’s developing a beer belly. The lesson: Travel slowly, see more.

What’s better for you, fast food or healthy food?

Fast Food Nation You may have read the book Fast Food Nation.

There is nothing in the book that you didn’t already know. Fast food is unhealthy. It’s too fat, too salty; it’s got too many unnatural ingredients. It is a quick fix for the hunger pains but causes more health problems for you later. Too much fat blocks the arteries, and too much salt leads to high blood pressure.

The same is true for offering prospects a quick deal. A deep discount or a great incentive may tempt buyers to sign the order, but chances are higher that they will cancel the order or default on their payment. The result: an unhealthy business.

What’s more productive, multitasking or completing one task at a time?

In the pursuit of reaching our goals faster, we often switch from one task to another or try to complete two tasks at once. An example: talking to a client on the phone while sending an email to a co-worker. Research shows that following a conversation takes 60 to 70 percent of our cognitive abilities. Sending an email may take another 60 percent. Performing two tasks at the same time stretches our mental capabilities, and the result is lower productivity.

Multitasking often leads to unexpected errors. When we talk on a mobile phone while driving, we tend to miss the exit. When we check our email while we’re talking on the phone, we may forget to respond. Switching between tasks, such as answering the phone while writing a proposal, can disrupt our mental flow, and we’ll have to restart the thinking process when we switch back to the critical task at hand.

What’s more useful, doing what’s fast and enjoyable or pursuing productivity?

Take a moment to observe rookie salespeople. They have lots of nervous energy to burn. Instead of focusing on the slow and productive, they invest their energy in what’s fast and enjoyable. They spend too much time on Facebook during working hours, researching friends instead of researching prospects. They spend too much time surfing the Web, looking for trivia about the prospect or the prospect’s company. They are fast to get on the Internet but overshoot their information goals, spending too much time searching for the “nice to know.” They often set up meetings without a specific agenda and end up discussing personal matters more and exploring sales opportunities less. They perform a fraction of a task instead of completing a task. For example, they may not be able to resist the fleeting impulse of getting a soft drink while finishing a customer presentation. While they are getting the drink, they are interrupted by a co-worker, and 20 minutes later they remember the unfinished presentation. Leaving unfinished business expands work and drops productivity.

Success isn’t about getting there fast; it’s all about success that lasts.

Consider the story of Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey lottery not just once, but twice, to the tune of $5.4 million. Today she lives in a trailer.

Andrew Whittaker Jr. lost his lottery winnings in four years flat. He won $114 million. He’s the fastest loser on record among all lottery winners.

Don’t obsess about speed; try to be in synch with your prospect.

Someone once said that selling is like walking the road of agreement with your customer. If you are too fast, you’ll lose the customer; if you are too slow, the customer will lose you. Selling at the right speed is an art. It’s the art of reading your customers and staying in synch at all times with the customer’s sales process. The right speed is best determined by the customer need.

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How Google Tracks Business Trends: Learn How You Can Use It to Vitalize Sales

Last Friday I met Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google, on a flight to San Francisco. We talked about a wide range of subjects and, of course, compared the apps we had on our iPads. I didn’t have Picasa, which is great for displaying photos on the iPad, or Dropbox, a very useful tool for storing files. Hal also has an app that shows step by step how to tie knots.

He told me of his extensive teaching experience in Europe and the United States (MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley). Of course, I asked him the obvious question: “Why does Google have an economist?” He gave me his standard answer that was almost word for word the same as in this interview he gave in Brussels after delivering a keynote.



May17_rules Hal wrote an interesting book, Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy (Harvard Business Press, 1998), a great guide to the information economy. The examples in the book are a bit dated; however, the basic concepts are profound and timeless.

But what was most interesting to me was how Hal uses Google Insights to get a read on trends that are vital to business.

Google offers a little-known tool you can use to identify what’s hot in your business world. You can go to http://www.google.com/insights/search/# and do a quick search on companies, executives, business issues, job titles, etc., to get an idea of what people want to know most about. I’ve spent some time using this fascinating tool, and here is what I found:

What is searched more – sales management or marketing management?

Here is a quick example of how you can determine the vitality of a particular subject over a period of time. You can search by country, region, time span, and category.

In the case below, we see that more people in the US searched for marketing management subjects in the last 12 months than for sales management.

May17_BIG_SalesMangmt


What company is hotter, Oracle, SAP, or salesforce.com?

This example shows that more people in business search for SAP and Oracle than for salesforce.com. This is a great tool to compare your company, by state, against your competition.

May17_BIG_SAP


What do businesspeople want to know about Twitter?

This example shows how you can track the most important search terms, which will allow you to make better business decisions.

May17_BIG_Twitter


This chart reveals that the state of New York has the highest interest in Twitter. The search terms “how to twitter” are hot. What does that tell the savvy marketer? If you offer a white paper called, “How to Twitter,” if you promote a Webinar on that topic, or if you’re selling a book with that title, you’re likely to get a great response.

What’s the trend in automotive sales, financing or leasing?

During the past few months there has been a rising interest in leasing. Chances are this trend will drive up lease rates.

May17_BIG_Lease


What currency is on people’s minds today?

The example below shows a worldwide search comparing the euro, the dollar, and the yen over the past 12 months. The search shows that Poland and Romania have little interest in the dollar but show a strong interest in the euro.

May17_BIG_YEN

Learn how Google Insights works; it’s easy, but stay focused.

Here is a two-minute video that explains how Google Insights works.

May_17_TwoMinVid

The short video below shows how marketers can use Google Insights to develop effective ad messages, depending on what subjects people are more interested in. It's easy to compare two different sales messages and determine their popularity.

May17_lastvid


The big idea:

The visible flow of information precedes the flow of commerce. The closer you follow the search trends on the Internet, the easier it will be to predict the direction of commerce.

What I found most difficult with Google Insights was deciding when to stop.

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Let “No” Be Your Guide To Success

Goforno

Last week I had an interesting conversation with Richard Fenton who exhibited at our last Sales Leadership Conference in Las Vegas. I asked him what caused him to write the little paperback book entitled ‘Go for No’ (Amazon) that’s been a consistent bestseller on Amazon.com for the past three years. He told me that he got the idea for the book from a most memorable sale. 

Since I love collecting memorable sales stories (we’ve published hundreds of them in Selling Power magazine) I asked Richard to write it down for me so I could share it in my blog. Here it is, Richard’s bittersweet, but inspiring sales story, as fresh as it had happened yesterday:

“Years ago I was working for a menswear chain, selling suits for a living, and to be honest I wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire.   In fact, my sales were so abysmal I was pretty sure they were going to fire me.   That’s when I heard that the district manager…  a man by the name of Harold…   was scheduled to visit.   And I thought:  Maybe if I can impress Harold, they’ll give me more time to improve my sales.

Harold showed up about nine-thirty in the morning, we opened the doors at ten, and because I was the first salesman in that morning I had first “up”.  And in walks this well-dressed gentleman who announces that he wants to buy an 'entire wardrobe' of clothing.  And sure enough, within 30 minutes, I had an $1,100 sale and I was certain that Harold would be impressed.

After several minutes Harold sauntered over and said, “Nice sale, kid.”  "Yep! $1,100!" I replied, my chest puffing out with pride.  Then Harold asked me a question that would literally change the course of my life. He asked:  "Out of curiosity, Richard, what did that customer say NO to?”   

“What do you mean?” I shot back.  “That guy just bought a suit, sport coat, three shirts, six ties, shoes, socks, a belt and underwear!  What do you mean, what did he say 'NO' to?”

Harold waited calmly for me to stop being defensive, then he said:  “We’ve already established what the customer said 'YES' to, Richard.  YES is always the easy part: All you have to do is take the sales check and look at the items listed, and those are the YESes.  What I want to know now is... What did he say NO to?”

I thought for a long time, mentally reviewing the sale in my mind, I realized the customer hadn’t said 'NO' to anything.  Everything I showed that man, he purchased.   I said to Harold:  “The customer didn’t say NO to anything.”   Then Harold asked me the OTHER really important question:  “Then how did you know he was done?”  

Harold’s question hit me like a punch because I realized the customer hadn’t ended the sale… I HAD!  And, why?  Simple!   You see, I had never spent over $1,000 on a shopping trip on clothing in my life, so when anyone went over a thousand bucks… my mental spending limit… hey, they were done!  

Harold said, “I watched you sell and you’re not half bad.   But your fear of the word no is going to kill you.   If you can get over that…  if instead of AVOIDING “NO” you could learn to GO FOR NO…  I think you could be one of the great ones."

It was amazing…  I had gone into work that morning hoping to keep my job, and I went home that night two letters from greatness.

And the letters were N... and O. 

No.”

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Why Did Sant and Kadient Merge?

Just today, Sant Corporation and Kadient announced that they have signed a merger agreement. For students of the selling profession, it’s useful to take a look at how this marriage came to be.

May11_A2 Never heard of Sant? The company’s founder, Dr. Tom Sant, revolutionized the art and science of writing persuasive proposals. His book Persuasive Business Proposals established him as an authority on the subject.

I once interviewed Dr. Tom Sant, and he taught me three things about proposal writing:

  1. The purpose of a proposal is to make a persuasive case that leads to a sale.
  2. The executive summary does not summarize the proposal; it summarizes why the customer should buy from you. Write it first so it sets the tone and the direction of the proposal.
  3. The proposal is a sales tool to help prospects find reasons to buy. Salespeople who pack too much information into their proposals will promote indecision; salespeople who don’t offer enough information will promote no decision. Persuasive proposals will dramatically improve a decision in your favor.
Dr. Sant’s book attracted worldwide attention. It was just a matter of time before he hit on the idea of automating proposals. Soon, automating proposals had morphed into a new business. Today, hundreds of customers and tens of thousands of salespeople save time automating proposals and winning more deals. The Sant suite has become a best-selling business application that integrates seamlessly with salesforce.com.

May11_1

In 2003, Dr. Sant retired (but retained a board seat) so that he could do what he loves most: speaking, teaching, and innovating.

The Connection Point

As Sant’s offering began to expand from automating proposals to automating RFPs, Sant’s customers began to ask, “What else can you do to help our salespeople be more productive?” This question led to the development of the PresentationBuilder and the FastPath – a sales-content repository. That’s where the company moved into new territory: sales enablement, a field that has been carefully cultivated by Kadient.

Never heard of Kadient? Here’s a one-minute elevator pitch by Amy Black, Kadient’s marketing communications manager.

May11_AmyBlack

Kadient Sales Playbooks provide sales teams with the coaching strategies, sales presentations, marketing documents, and other persuasion tools they need to engage with buyers. The phrase “sales enablement” might not roll off the tongue, but without sales enablement, you’re likely to end up with salespeople who will be tongue-tied when it comes to persuading prospects.

May11_2

It Didn’t Require a Shotgun Wedding

Here is the Sant/Kadient love story as I understand it.

Sant, the bachelor, was longing for sales-enablement bliss. He had worked hard at becoming the best in the field of proposals and RFPs. He wanted a bride who would be successful in her own field and could complement him and make him look good.

Kadient has overcome her share of challenges. Her first love was the RFP machine she inherited from a close relative called Pragmatech, but the RFP road was hard and unrewarding. After graduating from the University of Adversity, Kadient realized that sales leaders want their salespeople to execute plays as skillfully as a winning football team. When Kadient invented and distributed the Sales Playbook, her social standing increased dramatically, and she was invited to attend bigger and better parties. Wherever she went, the energy levels went sky high. But soon she realized that something was missing. She had many suitors; however, Sant entered her life with a proposal that was so persuasive, she couldn’t resist. They decided to pool their talents to create happy salespeople who are 10 feet tall and bulletproof. Their fairytale romance heralds a new era of selling more and better.

What do you think of the merger between Sant Corp and Kadient?

May11_3

Disclosure: Both Kadient and Sant have been Selling Power advertisers in print and online, and they have been sponsors of our conferences.

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