Selling With An Outward Mindset

Selling With An Outward Mindset

Professional sales people instinctively know that to be effective they must focus on the needs of their prospects, customers, or clients and not on their product or service.  This is often referred to as needs-satisfaction selling.  Sales Professionals have been trained  to place their client’s interests first by asking questions using a needs analysis and to finalize the sale only when the customer perceives that their needs will be satisfied.    Often referred to as a “consultative selling method”, it has been the engine of professional selling since the 1970’s when it was first introduced by Xerox as Professional Selling Skills.

There have been hundreds of books written about selling.  A quick Google search on ‘Books About Sales’ brings up about 202 million entries.  Their authors include highly respected sales experts like Neil Rackham, Robert Miller, Stephen Herman, Brian Tracy, Jeffrey Gitomer, Art Sobczak, Anthony Iannarino, and Tony Alessandra.   If you understand and apply what you learn from any of these authors, you will gain insight into how you can increase your sales success.

I recently read The Outward Mindset©, subtitled “seeing beyond outselves”, produced by The Arbinger Institute.  Arbinger helps people and organizations achieve breakthrough results through a profound change in mindset.  In my view, they have a vital message that business professionals, parents, clergy-people, educators and social workers must read.  It is an extremely practical, simple, and meaningful approach to leadership at any level.  It does not focus on sales, sales training, or sales technique.  And that’s why every person who engages in any aspect of sales or customer service should read The Outward Mindset.

The Exciting Future of Sales depends on sales professionals who can collaborate and communicate with others by having an outward mindset.  They must be able to change the way they see and regard their own connections with and obligations to others.  It is simply a matter of learning to see beyond yourself.   It elevates the consultative sales approach to a new level of effectiveness.  Here is an example of how an outward mindset can apply to a salesperson who wants to help a cleint:

John has a meeting scheduled with his client, Adam, whose company has  unexpectedly told him that he cannot renew contracts unless they have been reviewed by senior management.  Adam has lost his authority to renew contracts without approval.  Clearly, Adam feels his judgement and professionalism are being threatened and has concluded that  his job is on the line.  Adam tells John about his inability to approve John’s renewal and that he wants a completely new proposal that justifies why he should renew his contract with John.

Now John feels threatened because he thinks Adam feels that he has been price gouging him or thinks that John takes his business for granted.  John wants to react quickly, but what he really needs to do is to think with an open mindset.  He needs to ask himself what it must feel like to be Adam.  Adam is clearly threatened by this new procedure.   How can he help Adam gain the confidence of senior management to convince them that he is professional and competent?  How might he help Adam ensure senior management that he is acting in the best interests of the company with every contract he renews.

Having an open mindset like this might be difficult for a sales person who has always won business by dropping the price at the first sign of resistance.  Or he or she might have been trained that they need to establish a better ‘relationship’ with their customers and interpret that to mean they should entertain their clients, take them to football games, or to lunch and dinner more often.

With an outward mindset, John decides that he can help Adam learn how to negotiate better with his boss and with upper management because Adam has never had to do that before.  And, John knows of a negotiation seminar he can invite Adam to attend with him.  He is focused on helping Adam regain his confidence.

Addressing the question, “what must it be like to be Adam,” is far different than having a closed mindset that will cause John to want to make deals, delay the deadline for the decision, or figure out how to manipulate Adam to do what he wants Adam to do.

Sales professionals face an exciting future when they realize that the mark of a professional sales person is not tied to his or her ego and their need to be the best.  It is understanding that professional selling is not about selling; it is about helping the buyer succeed.

An Outward Mindset can guide you into an enhanced understanding of professional selling today and in the future.  It should be recommended reading for all sales, marketing, and customer service leaders and their teams.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Harrison Greene is the founder of Unique Selling Systems, focused on helping senior sales management prepare their sales people for the exciting future of sales.  He is the author of The Exciting Future of Sales blog.

What Do You Really Know About Your Company?

The recent debacle at United Airlines caused me to wonder if company leaders really know what is going on within their company, with their employees, and most of all with their customers.

I recently called one of the premier tourist parks in Orlando at 9:00 PM during a week night to get some information about rates for 5 adults and 2 children to visit and to stay in one of their hotels at the park for a week.

After waiting for on hold for 42 minutes, I was greeted by an agent who seemed to be in a trance about giving me information.  After explaining what kind of a package I needed, the agent quoted me a price of $17,460 that included a 2 bedroom suite and passes for everyone to the park and dinner every night.  Yes, $17,460.00.

I further investigated the park’s web site and found that the price the agent gave me was not correct.  So, it seems that this “premier” park has a multiplicity of prices and quotes depending on to whom you speak or what you can research on-line.

This type of situation happens frequently at most companies.  I think that a strong contributory reason is simply that top executives seldom actually check what their employees are doing.  They seem to rely on the mangers who are in charge ensure quality.

If  you are a senior manager or C-suite executive ask yourself:

  • When was the last time (if ever) that you called your main switchboard and asked to be connected to someone? You probably received a voice menu. Did you try it?
  • When was the last time (if ever) that you called the sales department to get information about your products/services?
  • If you are an airline executive or CEO when is the last time you went on-line, purchased a ticket on your airline, waited in line at the gate, and actually flew coach/economy?
  • If your company has an on-line order functionality, when is the last time you sat at home and ordered something from your web-site?

In short when is the last time you actually checked on what you think is being experienced by your staff, your employees, and especially, with your customers?

Give it a try.  You might discover why people do or don’t want to do business with your company.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Harrison Greene is the founder of Unique Selling Systems. He helps sales organization prepare their sales representatives today for the Future of Sales tomorrow.  He can be reached at 508-400-6103 or at harrison@uniquesellingsystems.com.

For-Profit Schools — Sign Up or Be Accepted?

accepted-rejected 

Here is the quandary for the management of for-profit (Proprietary) technical schools and colleges.  They are being clobbered by federal regulations that place requirements on them that are not placed on not-for-profit educational institutions.  This Department of Education has increased this heat in recent years and shows no signs of abetting.

Many proprietary schools have been forced to close their doors because they could not attain the Department of Education’s requirements.  The quandary is that fine proprietary schools that want to provide excellent education and training outcomes are now feeling a loss in student enrollment because of these restrictions and the bad reputation that has been broad-brushed to apply to them simply because many well known for-profit schools were not reputable.

The history of unsavory for-profit institutions that were interested only in profit is well documented.  Their success was obtained at the expense of students who enrolled based on false admission promises, lured by claims of guaranteed placement in jobs they were told paid extraordinary amounts of money, and who targeted those students who could receive the most financial aid. Proprietary schools that operated like that should not have the right to ruin the lives of people who were hopeful that the sacrifices they made to acquire a meaningful skill and to provide a  future for themselves and their families.

Now, reputable proprietary schools are forced to increase their marketing budgets in order to increase the number of inquiries they receive.  They can no longer rely on television advertising and are turning to new sources of lead generation like social media and inbound lead generation through content marketing.

Since most proprietary schools have adopted a qualitative admissions mindset that measures the number of inquiries that result in applications, it is doubtful that simply increasing inquiries will make a meaningful impact on student outcomes.  Quantitative admission systems were designed to put as many students in seats as capacity would allow.   But if those students are not capable of graduating because they had so many external pressures put upon them, are in lower socio-economic lifestyle brackets, and don’t have support from those closest to them,  they have a tough time staying in class for the duration of a program so they can graduate.

If an educational institution is truly interested in the success of its students, it must ensure that it is accepting them based on defined criteria, not just on whether they graduated from high school and have a GED.  For-profit schools often place their emphasis on securing admission deposits and scheduling a financial aid briefing.  Some of the schools that interview prospective students simply ask transparent questions designed to make the student feel that he or she is being interviewed.  Questions like how long have you been thinking about earning more money or how much would you like to earn as a (technician, automotive technical, medical assistant etc.).   Seldom would the student be rejected unless the school could not help them attain enough financial aid to enroll.

Few schools try to determine if the student has the support and encouragement of his/her significant others, or if it is realistic for him/her to work all day and commute to the school for evening classes, or how much time the student is willing to study outside of class, or if they have transportation to attend class.

There must be a fundamental shift in the psychology of admissions.  A good school that operates in the student’s interest,  will want to know that, if accepted, the student has the desire, interest, motivation, and support of his/her significant others in evaluating whether they should accept the student.  The mentality of getting another ‘sign up’ or ‘body in a seat’ must be shifted.

Instead, the applicant should feel that he or she is being carefully evaluated to determine if he/she will be able to become a graduate and that if they do, they will be considered for admission.

If the applicant can not be accepted it is the responsibility of the admissions department to propose another course of action or recommend a plan to help the student gain admission.

I have heard many school owners state that it is ridiculous to be qualitative because “I have seen many students who I didn’t think would ever graduate do so with great sacrifice and determination and others who I was sure would be a superstar student drop out after two weeks.”   Basing an admissions process on an exception is not a plausible way to make a decision that can affect a person’s life… forever.

The operating credo of senior management must be that the admissions department should be conducting an interview to determine if the student can be accepted and has a good chance of graduating.  They must ensure that admission representatives are trained to recommend acceptance or to help the student find another pathway to success.

When that is the mindset of senior management, they will quickly see an increase in two vital metrics that they are probably not presently measuring… the application to the start rate and the start rate to the graduation rate.  The real benefit will be that more graduates will find employment in the career for which they trained.

Harrison Greene is the founder of Unique Enrollment Systems and has helped both small, independent proprietary and nationally known, multi-campus schools increase revenue through a qualitative method of enrolling students.  He can be reached at 508-400-6193 or through email at harrison@harrisongreene.com.

A Million Sales Reps Will Lose Their Jobs To E-Commerce by 2020

Yes, you read this headline correctly.  A million sales representatives will be displaced.

That is what Paul Demery, Managing Editor, B2B E-Commerce reports in an article that appeared on the Internet Retailer website.  He writes that those most likely to lose their jobs take orders for commodity products.

Paul’s website is https://www.b2bcommerceworld.com

He also cites a report “Death of a (B2B) Salesman by Forrester e-business analyst Andy Hoar, that projects 1 million sales reps, or 22% of the 4.5 million B2B sales agents now in the United States, will lose their jobs to e-commerce by 2020.

If you are a B-B Sales Representative or Sales Manager, you must read the rest of this article.  Your career and your income are in jeopardy and you need to be pro-active now.

Here is a link to the complete article:  http://bit.ly/2iENN5i

________________________________________________________________

Harrison Greene is the founder of Unique Sales System and specializes in help sales representative and their companies prepare today for the Future of Sales tomorrow.

He can be reached at 508-400-6193 or via email at:

harrison@uniquesellingsystems.com

Are You Like The Cobbler Whose Kids Have No Shoes?

cobbler

Buyers rule!  Remember that.  Today selling is different.  Sales people should understand that when a buyer seeks out that which you are selling he or she has probably done the research they need to decide if you are the vendor they want to consider.  If your company is not able to back up its claims on their website, the buyer will wonder why.

The last thing a buyer wants to hear is ‘we don’t have time to make sure that our website reflects the reality of what we are selling because we are too busy making quality products for our customers that we can’t keep our website current’.

If your company is unable to devote the time to keep its website current, why do they have it?  If the services, they offer are not accurately reflected in their public image (their website) how can they expect their prospects or customers to believe anything a sales representative tells them?

Recently I was told by the V.P. of Sales for a web development company that offers search engine optimization services (SEO) that the reason they don’t rank higher in their own web page listing is because they are like the cobbler whose kids have no shoes.  Well, if they can’t devote time to ensure they are ranking well themselves, why would I expect that they will know how to ensure that their customers rank well?

Is your company too busy to ensure that their public information and the tools you need to sell are current?  Can you engender the trust you must have to succeed when your company doesn’t provide accurate and timely information?

When was the last time you checked your company’s website?  Are you telling your customers the same thing they have read before they even contacted you?

Or do your kids have no shoes?


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Harrison Greene is the founder of Unique Selling Systems and specializes in helping sales organizations prepare today for the Future of Sales tomorrow.  He can be reached at 508-400-6193 or via email at Harrison@UniqueSellingSystems.com.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Watch Your Language

pitch-me

Are you using sales terminology that was created in the last century?  Does your sales language reflect the professionalism that you must have today to resonate with prospects and customers?

What do you imagine your customers or prospects think when you tell them you want to ‘pitch’ them?  How do you think they feel when you refer to the proposal you are presenting as a ‘deal’?

What does a prospect think when you call them and refer to them as a lead when they were simply requesting information?

Does the language you use reinforce in the minds of buyers and prospects that you are only looking for a sale?  Or, do they appreciate someone who speaks to them as someone who is interested in their challenges, problem, or opportunities?

Today’s sales professionals use language that focuses on collaborating to find the right solution for their customers not on finding the best deal for themselves.  They view requests for information as just that and do not consider the request to be a lead.  They view it as an opportunity to answer questions and find appropriate solutions.  And when the present their solution they never refer to it as a ‘pitch’.

There is a distinct difference in the mindset of a sales person who ‘pitches’ and of the sales professional who provides service, recommends solutions, and collaborates with his or her customers.

This is the second decade of the twenty-first century.  Have you evolved?  Or are you still out their ‘pitching’?

Harrison Greene is the founder of Unique Selling Systems and helps prepare sales people today for the Future of Sales tomorrow.  He can be reached at 508-400-6193 or by email at harrison@uniquesellingsystems.com.

 

The New ABC’s of Selling

always-be-closing

At some point in the last century it became hip to teach sales representatives that they should…

Always Be Closing

Perhaps sales trainers who taught this mantra were under the impression that potential customers would love it if their sales representative greeted them with “It is nice to meet you. “Are you ready to buy today”, like the experience we encounter on the automotive dealership lot when we are greeted with a similar statement. And if the customer didn’t buy immediately, they were trained that they should be closing during every opportunity during the meeting. They were instructed to ask for the sale each time the prospect said something positive. Like, “gee that’s an interesting point”, followed by the sales representative saying “fine, let’s get started right now” or some other canned phrase.

Oh, how in control that was supposed to make the sales representative feel… just thinking that he or she was on the road to super success simply because they had the courage to ask if the customer was ready to buy right now! Did they believe that the customer appreciated being asked to decide before establishing that the customer had a need for the product or service being sold and a right to ask for the sale? Or did they think that just because the customer expressed an interest, they were just waiting to buy right now?  Did they think that the customer liked being treated that way?  Do they like being treated that way?

Well, apparently, some customers were so intimidated by the Always Be Closing approach that they bought immediately. But then… they frequently cancelled their contract or voided their purchase order as soon as they could. Sure, some sales stuck. But what about all those buyers who simply tuned them out and said ‘we’ll get back in touch with you” and never did? And then purchased from a sales representative who was more interested in determining their needs and if the product or service would benefit them? How quickly do you think customers who were pressured to buy would recommend that sales representative to anyone else?

Today, in the second decade of the twenty-first century professional sales representatives should…

Always Be Collaborating

The Internet has changed the way buyers want to do business. Today’s buyers, whether in a business or in a consumer environment, have done their research and know what they want and what they want to pay for it. They desperately need a sales representative to help them sort through their options, to help them develop ideas, and to collaborate with them from the moment they express an interest until they have decided how they should proceed. In short, today’s customers want their sales representative to collaborate with them through the entire buying process.

Collaboration is the sensible way of selling today. Collaboration means that both the buyer and the seller are vested in the buying process to determine the right solution for the buyer. The goal is not simply to get a sale, but to develop the right product or service for the buyer while respecting the buyers buying cycle. Done correctly, acting in the customer’s best interest can sometimes result in recommending another company’s product or service. When that happens, the sales representative establishes a level of Trust with that buyer that results in an opportunity to be called upon again when that buyer has another need. And, it results in referrals from a customer who believes in the sales representative’s integrity.

Does collaboration mean that the sales representative should never discuss helping the customer get started? What is does imply is that if the representative has collaborated and feels trusted, the next steps will easily occur and usually, the customer will ask what he or she needs to do to get started.

Tomorrow’s sales representatives who can adopt the mindset that their job is to help their prospects and customers find the right solution at the right time and at the right price will be Top Producers.

An excellent book that is helpful reading is: From Selling to Co-Creating by Regis Lemmens, Bill Donaldson, and Javier Marcos.

________________________________________________________________

Harrison Greene is the founder of Unique Selling Systems and specializes in The Future of Sales. You can read more about the Future of Sales at uniquesellingsystems.com.

Harrison Greene can be reached in Lake Nona, Florida at 508-400-6193 or by email at harrison@uniquesellingsystems.com and his Linked In profile can be accessed at linkedin.com/in/harrisongreene.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.