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October 2012

Using Emotional Intelligence to Close

GregFerrettOctober2012Today's blog post is by Greg Ferrett, CEO of Exceptional Sales Performance, based in Melbourne, Australia, and author of Selling to the Seven Emotional Buying Styles: Make Every Sales Call Pay by Selling to Emotional Need.

 

LinkedIN3DimageClosing techniques were drilled into me since my first day in sales, and I loved trying out new ones. I have a unique collection of closing techniques that were taught as far back as the Vikings’ 13th century, as well as “snake oil” techniques from the 1800s’ mid-West and today.

When I ask salespeople about their favorite or most successful closing technique, the most common response I get is, “It depends.” I would have thought with hundreds of years of development the better techniques would become favorites.

When a person is about to make a decision, according to modern scientific research, the part of the brain where emotions come from is awash with chemicals – and the more complex the decision or higher impact it has, the more chemicals the brain produces. These chemicals are the drivers of emotion, and what science is telling us is, as a decision point approaches, the emotional chemicals in the client’s brain are making the decision. Wouldn’t it be nice to know which closing techniques trigger the release of these chemicals?

It turns out there are seven emotional genes, and for each there is one dominant emotional driver as well as “green” and “red” emotional buttons.

Emotional Buying Style

Dominant Emotional Driver

The Normal

For social acceptance

The Hustler

 For material success

The Mover

To communicate

The Double Checker

For security

The Artist

To be creative

The Politician

To win

The Engineer

To complete projects

* Download the full table of emotional buying styles at www.exceptionalsales.com.au

Paul, division head of Australia’s largest telecommunications organization, was a difficult client. We had the perfect solution for him, yet no matter what technique I tried, Paul was just not going to budge. Each time I tried to move the sale forward with a question or trial close, he would just sit there quietly with a strange smile on his face and say as few words as possible as I slowly agreed to his every point.

I shared my experience with Ken, Paul’s counterpart in the user community who had some influence on the decision. He let me in on a secret: Paul was regarded as one of the sharpest negotiators in the organization and had a reputation for getting deals through when no one else could. Ken suggested I restructure my offering in a way that reinforced Paul’s reputation of getting things others could not.

In our next meeting, I asked a simple question: “Paul, if your division could be the first organization outside the United States to implement this new technology without increasing the price above the initial estimate, would that allow you to achieve your goal of staff time to productivity?”

I watched his face, and for the first time I saw a flicker of life.  He quickly composed himself and in his normal dry tone of voice asked, “Could you do that?”

Paul has “The Politician” emotional gene. His primary emotional driver is to win, and this win was typically a sharper deal or better terms. In this case, I provided him with an opportunity to win by doing something no one else had done. This enhanced his reputation of getting things no one else could. By pressing his “green” button (showing how the idea would help him look good), his brain started to flood with emotional chemicals, creating a compelling urge to like my idea. Of course, if I had tried the same technique with “The Double Checker” or “The Normal,” this would have pushed his or her “red” emotional button with exactly the opposite effect. If Paul’s emotional gene was “The Hustler,” I would need to add something like “…increasing your value on the employment market.”

When a salesperson responds with “it depends” regarding his or her favorite closing technique, that tells me this salesperson needs to determine the best way to work with a client. Using a simple tool to help unlock the client’s emotional buying style will reveal how the client will respond as the decision point approaches. Pushing “green” buttons early makes closing so much simpler.

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What's Ahead for Sales Organizations in 2013?

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How clearly do you see the road ahead? When we are driving down the highway, we notice that, the faster we go, the more the view begins to blur – yet the dashboard is clear and bright. This also applies to sales leaders. While the speed of change accelerates, many sales leaders become confused by the rapid shifts in buying behaviors. While some customers act as if they’re in a boom cycle, other customers react and prepare for tougher times in the road ahead.

As we plan for 2013, salespeople demand more clarity of vision from their sales leaders. An overarching vision has three elements:

1. A guiding vision. It begins with an accurate appraisal of the present. Salespeople want to know the answer to these questions: Where are we now? What are our strengths? What makes us vulnerable? What threats are we facing?

2. A guiding fiction. Nobody can predict the future, but effective leaders have an uncanny ability to direct followers to imagine and find the best opportunities in the market. Uncertain times demand leaders who can stimulate the imagination so that their followers can clearly focus on winning more business month after month. The best leaders are merchants of hope.

3. A guiding process. Salespeople need a continuously improved and accelerated process for everything from generating leads to closing the sale. Successful sales leaders need to constantly realign people, process, and technology. 

In many companies, there are as many sales processes as there are salespeople. World-class sales organizations follow a process that’s based on A) the know-how of their best salespeople and B) how customers want to buy. Many sales leaders believe that their well-thought-out sales process reflects the customer’s journey.

While the economy continues to challenge, confuse, and surprise decision makers, effective sales leaders ignore the noise on the sidelines and get busy improving sales productivity across the organization. According to a survey performed by the SalesOpShop, sales leaders’ top two priorities for 2013 are 1) topline growth and 2) improved sales process. To achieve these goals, sales leaders need to become more innovative when aligning people, process, and technology. The challenge in most organizations is that people are often too slow, processes are often too old, and technology is often too complex. To meet that challenge, we need to invest 60 percent of our effort in helping people change, 30 percent in improving our processes, and 10 percent on implementing simpler and better technology. The key to winning in 2013 depends on expanding the innovative capabilities of the organization.

Albert Einstein once said that imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge tells us what was, whereas imagination tells what will be. What will be in 2013 depends on adaptive and creative sales leaders, who drive people’s capacity to change and lead them to execute on a customer-focused process that’s accelerated by the best technology available. Your success will also hinge on what you believe you can achieve. 

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Planning for 2013: Six Fatal Mistakes to Avoid

2b29614Today's blog post is by Ron Snyder, President of Plan 2 Win Software, which provides apps that enable salespeople to create and manage territory and account plans in their Salesforce.com environment to dramatically improve sales results.

 

As you prepare for success in 2013, here are six common planning mistakes to avoid to ensure you achieve your goals. Those sales managers engaged in complex, value-based selling should be especially vigilant to avoid these fatal mistakes. You need a plan to win!

1.    Not Having a Plan

Many salespeople feel that they don't need a plan, that they understand their market and how to sell to their customers; however, in a complex selling environment, there is so much to consider and keep track of that a plan is essential to success. Otherwise, the salesperson is strictly in reactive mode and is going to miss opportunities and spend more time on opportunities that will be unproductive.

2.    Not Analyzing Your Target Market

Simply working through a list of target accounts, opportunities, and contact information is not sufficient to achieve sales goals in proactive, value-based selling. Analyzing your target market and customer profiles will determine the best sales approach. Without this analysis, the sales rep is likely to pursue accounts in a very opportunistic fashion, often creating the selling proposition on the fly. This leads to a very inconsistent approach and results. Your team must have clear criteria about the target prospects, their needs, and your value proposition. They must prioritize accounts and opportunities so they spend their time and limited resources wisely.

3.    Not Connecting Strategy to Action

Territory and account plans must be based on the trends in the industry, geography, and/or vertical market. From here, strategies are generated to optimize results and form the framework for the action plan. Each strategy must be linked to a set of tactics and actions that will yield the results you intended. This must include plans for each critical sales call (i.e., call objectives, participants, and their roles; issues to be prepared to address; and the intended next step), focusing on letting sales actions drive the strategy.

4.    Not Responding to Change

Every plan must be a living document, enabling the salesperson to adjust to changes in the environment. In order to do this, the plan must live in your CRM and be readily available to use and fine-tune as needed. To support this, there should be reports and dashboards that highlight progress on critical success factors and regular plan reviews that provide input from sales management and others on the team.

5.    Not Using All Available Resources

In today's selling environment, one person cannot know everything that is going on in any account or territory. Effective and efficient use of all resources and tools will enable the sales team to compete and win. Confirm that your sales reps know what resources are available and how to use them most effectively in each stage of the sales cycle. These resources include extended team members, (i.e., from technical, marketing, and support) and partners. Using the most effective sales collateral available without having to create it from scratch will provide more selling time. Finally, there should be a coordinated effort to leverage references across the organization.

6.    Not Making It Easy

It is important that the manager make it as easy as possible for the sales team to create and implement the plan. Provide training to make certain the team understands the key ingredients of a successful plan and is capable of creating one. Using a readily available template (i.e., a template that exists in your CRM system) can guide and shape the thinking that goes into creating an effective plan. Finally, there must be coaching, especially in the initial phases, to help people as soon as they get stuck.

Salespeople must see how planning improves their results. The manager must socialize how specific plans have contributed to sales results, having successful sales reps share their experiences with the team. This is critical to ensure that the planning process is adopted by the team.

Creating an environment in which salespeople generate plans that are consistently implemented and produce desired results is one of the key jobs of management.  Avoid the mistakes listed here and win in 2013.

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