sales techniques

One-to-One Selling

By Jim Allen, President, Value Based, Inc.

How often have you walked out of a sales call, having presented a polished and professional proposal to your prospect, saying . . . “That’s our business to lose. We provide the best solution and value of all the vendors they’re considering.” However, unbeknown to you the business is already lost . . . it’s gone. Yes, on paper, you should have won the deal but in the area of relationship selling, you lost it.

You’ve probably heard of One-to-One Marketing pioneered by Peppers & Rodgers. Well now there’s One-to-One Selling. In One-to-One Selling you use a unique selling approach that is tailored for each of your prospects. It’s an approach that’s based upon how each prospect prefers to purchase and how each perceives the value of your software and service.

In a soft economy, selling value is mandatory. One-to-One Selling incorporates methods of identifying what is of value to your prospect and then provides a process to match, communicate and deliver your value proposition to your prospect. Selling this way increases competitive wins and margins. In this article we will look at one of four aspects of One-to-One Selling . . . the use of a buying and selling styles methodology as a way for you to sell the way your prospect wants to buy.

The adage that “people buy from people” is as true today as it was decades ago. Yes, your software and service must offer value and meet or exceed your customer’s needs, but you can’t forget the relationship. Research shows that 80% of customers base their purchase decisions on trust and confidence in their salesperson rather than a specific software/service feature or functionality.

Ask yourself some tough questions, “Does my prospect trust me?” “Do they have confidence in me?” “How is the chemistry between us?”

For example, are you asking qualification questions that elicit the most complete information from your prospect? Should I send this prospect an evaluation copy of the software with or without a walk-thru? Should I schedule a 30-minute online overview demo? Or should I jump on a plane (assuming your price point and margin justifies travel) and present the product face-to-face? And when I am ready to close the order, which of the many closes is most appropriate to use?

In short, “How do I sell the way my prospect wants to buy?”

Selling the way your prospect wants to buy requires that you know enough about them that you can select 12 personality characteristics from a list of 48. Generally a 15 to 20 minute phone call, or face-to-face visit, will provide you enough information to complete a 5-minute assessment of him/her. Let’s try one by completing the following 4-step process:

Step 1: Think of a prospect that that you have recently met by phone or face-to-face, and know something about. Now complete the assessment below by selecting 12 personality characteristics that best describe him/her. Select one characteristic from each group of four.

Kind, Nice, Caring (S)
Proper, Formal (C)
Demanding, Assertive (D)
Outgoing, Active (I)
Considerate, Thoughtful (S)
Forceful, Strong-willed (D)
Hyper, Energetic (I)
Perfectionist, Precise (C)
Playful, Fun-loving (I)
Firm, Strong (D)
Law-abiding, Conscientious (C)
Gentle, Soft, Humble (S)
Contented, Satisfied (S)
Compliant, Goes by the Book (C)
Brave, Adventurous (D)
Enthusiastic, Influencing (I)
Bold, Daring (D)
Delightful, Pleasant (I)
Loyal, True Blue (S)
Calculating, Analytical (C)
Smooth talker, Articulate (I)
Loving, Sincere, Honest (S)
Persistent, Restless, Relentless (D)
Right, Correct (C)
Steady, Dependable (S)
Talkative, Verbal (I)
Challenging, Motivating (D)
Accurate, Exact (C)
Stable, Balanced (S)
Confident, Self-reliant (D)
Perspective, Sees Clearly (C)
Animated, Expressive (I)
Controlling, Taking Charge (D)
Merciful, Sensitive (S)
Pondering, Wondering (C)
Persuading (I)
Positive, Optimistic (D)
Entertaining, Clowning (I)
Shy, Mild (S)
Competent, Does Right (C)
Timid, Soft Spoken (S)
Systematic, Follows Plan (C)
Industrious, Hard Working (D)
Smiling, Happy (I)
Inquisitive, Questioning (C)
Tolerant, Patient (S)
Driving, Determined (D)
Dynamic, Impressing (I)

Step 2: Now that you’ve made your selections go back and add all the letters (D’s, I’s, S’s, C’s located in the parenthesis next to each personality description) and record them below:

D’s totalC’s total I’s totalS’s total

Step 3: Determine your prospects primary and secondary “buying style” by comparing the totals above. The highest number represents their primary buying style and the next highest represents their secondary style.

Primary Buying Style (Select One):     D I S C

Secondary Buying Style (Select One): D I S C

Step 4: Once you’ve determined your prospect’s Primary and Secondary Buying Style refer to the table below to discover the most effective sales strategy to use during each stage of the Software Sales Cycle.

Sales Cycle Stages
Buying Style Prospect
(First Contact)
Qualification Presentation Proposal Close
D Make brief intro, direct and concise statement of the ROI results your software/service provides. Ask a few prioritized and relevant closed ended probing questions. Conduct well, organized, prioritized demos. Prospect may guard interest & enthusiasm. Offer a choice between few options. Anticipate price objection. Emphasize financial value. Be bold and direct and use the Option Close to gain customer order. Anticipate strong negotiating behavior.
I Make enthusiastic reference to a respected, high profile, influential customer that you recently sold from their industry. Allow your prospect the opportunity to describe what a working solution looks like in their mind and in their words. Incorporate visual aids in your demo. Increase your enthusiasm and energy level. Incorporate humor if possible. Emphasize “big picture” value statements that impact your prospect’s image. Illustrate how he/she will be recognized when implementation is successful. Anticipate a friendly, but feisty, challenge to your closing statements that’s intended to gain a concession. Avoid defensiveness if your value proposition is challenged.
S Use friendly, cordial communication of the positive impact your software has on employee job satisfaction, morale, and corporate culture. Ask open-ended questions that probe your prospect’s true ability to afford and justify your software/service Present solutions to “known” prospect issues. Emphasize capabilities that require little change in status quo. Emphasize your software’s value for work groups/teams. Show how your software enhances their relationships with co-workers. Use the Comfort or Evaluation Close. Resist putting excess pressure on your prospect. Point out smooth implementation plan and schedule.
C Make calm and precise statements of the efficiencies that your software brings to the processes and procedures within the organization. Use a low-key approach to probe into what it is currently costing them to do what your software and service can provide. Be prepared to “drill down” into the details of your software. Allow plenty of time for questions. Stick to conservative value statements. Provide graphs, spreadsheets, and tables of data that support your value statements. Be conservative in claims. Be prepared to answer more questions and objections. Have detailed data available to prove your software/services capabilities and claims.

To obtain a more detailed 7-page profile on how to sell the prospect you just assessed, click http://www.valuebased.com/personalize/sterling.html or call 1-800-597-1873.

The One-to-One Selling Model is one of several aspects of Value Based Selling – A Software Sales Methodology developed by Jim Allen, President of Value Based, Inc. Jim has 25 plus years in the software/services industry. He has owned his own software company and served as the VP of Sales of several multi-million dollar, international software companies. Over 3,500 software sales professionals have attended his seminars from throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. Jim’s clients include small start-ups to companies like IBM and 3M Corporation.

He is the author/developer of Value Based Selling, Value(s) Based Leadership, and Personalize! – Buying & Selling Styles Profiling. He has also published several articles on sales processes featured in Software Developer & Publisher Magazine.

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7 Techniques to Power Your Quarterly Sales

By Robert Youngjohns, President and CEO, Callidus Software Inc.

At the end of each quarter, companies worldwide look at their sales figures and try to figure out what went wrong, and what can be done better going forward. Some will set unreasonably high sales targets, others will plan exciting sales contests, and still others will look to their top sales people and try to figure out how to infuse the same talent into the rest of their sales teams. But by understanding a handful of time-tested and universal sales management principles, any company can increase their chances of sales success – each and every quarter.

I started out selling IBM products to tire manufacturers in the midlands of Britain – thousands of miles from headquarters. The company tried all sorts of different things to motivate the sales team, but checks always spoke far louder than any of my sales managers’ words. In a nutshell, driving greater sales success is mostly about setting clear and simple goals, and delivering financial rewards quickly.

Here are seven tips to help any company achieve and exceed its quarterly sales goals:

Tip #1 – Avoid Goal Vacuum: Set Targets Early
During the time when management is analyzing the past year and working out sales goals for the present one, there’s a goal vacuum, and savvy sales people will often close deals less aggressively to keep from getting too far out in front of their target. Why? Because money is involved, and most serious salespeople want to do what will make them the most money. They will often wait until the company can tell them what the target is before they really get cracking.

So it’s important to communicate sales targets as early as possible every quarter. By simply getting the goals out there, even if they’re still rough and will need to be adjusted, salespeople will have something solid to shoot for, and they’ll start closing deals earlier.

Tip #2 – Don’t Pad the Sales Target
There’s a story of a CEO who attends a company function just days after the company has set its revenue targets for the year. He meets one of his salespeople there, and asks how it’s going.

“Not that great, I’ve been asked to do 40% growth, and there’s no way I’m going to make any money,” responds the account executive.

“I thought our growth target was only 15%,” says the CEO.

What’s wrong with this picture? It turns out that in the average company, as quotas push down through the management ranks, each manager builds a buffer, to make sure that the person below delivers the revenue needed to make the up line manager’s number. Eventually, what started out as reasonable targets are inflated into unrealistic goals, the sales team becomes de-motivated, and the company stagnates.

Instead, keep target allocations as close as you dare to the actual goal. In the end, it’s going to help everyone.

Tip #3 – Keep Goals Simple
Equally important, sales targets, or goals, need to be simple for both executives and the sales team to understand, and easy to measure. If you can’t properly measure sales performance, it’s crazy to put sales force rewards in place, because that investment won’t work toward your overall company goals, and neither will your sales people.

Tip #4 – Cash is King
Cruises, vacations and other prizes are great, but clear cash incentives are the reason we salespeople come to work every day. Good compensation plans lay it out – “if you do this, you’ll get that amount of money”. Cash incentives are the only way to be this exact. The problem with non-cash forms of compensation is that they’re often based on a bell curve of performance, or some other selection process where even if certain goals are accomplished, there’s still only a chance that a sales person will get a particular reward. So think of contests and promotions as fun ways to add to a cash compensation plan, don’t make them a substitute.

Tip #5 – Pay Incentives as Quickly as Possible
Sales managers often make the mistake of outlining too long-term a sales compensation plan, and wait too long to pay their sales teams. It’s better to set short-term goals, and compensate your team regularly, as they reach them. For example, quarterly compensation plans tend to work well – the longest workable time horizon is one year.

While intellectually very attractive and much discussed, long-term goals just don’t work. There are too many variables at play for a person to believe that by slowly executing toward a particular long-term goal, they’ll ever actually reach it.

Tip #6 – Everyone Loves Sales Heroes, But They Don’t Win the War
Sales heroes make great water cooler talk and give everyone something to shoot for – as in, “Did you hear about Joe’s $1 million commission check?” These success stories keep the sales team motivated, and give them something to aspire to. But the making of a sales star is as often about luck or timing as it is about hard cold personal performance. In many cases, territory, timing and customer factors outside any individual’s control are as responsible for large orders and big commissions as are the talents of the salesperson.

Top sales managers know that in addition to the 10% of the sales stars who command the limelight, it’s really the other 90% of the sales force who fight the good fight day in and day out, and who are actually responsible for winning the war. It can be easy to perceive that it’s the heroes that save the day, but in almost all cases, it’s the rest of the team that gets the job done. So don’t ignore the rank and file.

People are always quick to say that the quarterback won the game, but in most cases, it’s probably not true – in all likelihood, without his team, he would have gotten rolled over.

Tip #7 – A Bit of Theater to Get Everyone on Board with the Plan
There’s an age-old battle between executives and sales teams when it’s time to review sales targets and results, but it can be prevented with one theatrical, but powerful step. When goals are missed, management says the sales force doesn’t ‘get it’ or isn’t motivated, and the sales team says the products aren’t any good. To keep people from passing the buck, just circulate the compensation plan, and get each executive to personally sign it, and voila, no more excuses.

All I Really Need to Know about Sales I Learned in Kindergarten

By Cathy Jackson, Sales Coach, Sales Champions

Many of you probably remember the best-selling book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” by Robert Fulghum. It’s uncanny how his book on “uncommon thoughts on common things” was a hit and read by millions. After enjoying this book a decade ago, I decided to add it to my summer reading list. Kicked back on a warm, sunny afternoon reading Mr. Fulghum’s musings, it occurred to me how these fundamental things learned in kindergarten can be applied to a sales professional selling enterprise software–no, really!

Sales Fundamentals–Forgotten

Share everything: Remember, that you are part of a “selling team.” This team is made up of your sales peers, administrative support, technical support, and your manager. It’s your job to orchestrate these resources as needed to solve your customer’s enterprise problems and make new sales. By sharing what you know, your team mates can help support you better and perhaps give you fresh ideas that may reduce your sales cycle time, help you be more productive, and close more sales. And, maybe your experiences shared can help one of your colleagues improve their selling skills.

Play fair: Your employer has hired you to find new opportunities for selling enterprise software. This means your days should be filled with prospecting, engaging with customers, and closing business. If you are spending too much time learning about products, surfing the Internet, reading emails, organizing your files, commiserating with your peers and colleagues, than you aren’t doing what you were hired to do. That’s not fair to the company making an investment in you.

Don’t hit people: Never, never, never knock your competition. Once when selling business equipment systems, I won a sale only because my competition gave the prospect fraudulent information about my product which the prospect checked out. Today, with so many mergers, alliances, and coopetition, learn how to position your competitors by emphasizing your enterprise software’s strengths and differences.

Put things back where you found them: Time is your most valuable asset. When you are disorganized and can’t find things you waste time. Simplify your work area; get rid of those magazines that have been piling up for months that you are never going to read. Get focused on selling and don’t let anyone get you off track.

Clean up your own mess: “I would have won that deal if I had better products.” I lost because of price.” “If customer service would get it’s act together, than I could win more sales.” Ever heard comments like these from software sales professionals after losing a sale? You never lose if you learn from your mistakes. You never learn from your mistakes if you don’t “replay” the call to see what you could have done more effectively. Take responsibility for your own actions and for developing your sales skills.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody: I missed a business appointment recently and when calling to explain why, I heard myself give “excuses” of why I didn’t make the appointment. The truth was I just forgot about it. I did say I was sorry repeatedly but I feel like I have a strike against me with this new prospect. I would feel much better about the relationship if I had fessed up and told the truth. Now I feel like the relationship is not on solid ground. The lesson learned is that no matter how hard it is, it’s better to be honest. Then when you say you’re sorry, you feel a lot better and your integrity is intact.

Wash your hands before you eat: Take time to eat nutritiously while on the road. At a recent tradeshow, I was meeting with a prospect over breakfast. This true “road warrior” was having the “lean slim breakfast” and skim milk with his decaffeinated coffee while I was chomping down a three-egg cheese omelet. I rationalized that if I traveled as much as he did, I would be eating like him too. It’s important to eat right while on the road and wash your hands before you eat.

Flush: As Zig Ziglar would say, “get rid of that stinking thinking.” Remember that what you do is a result of how you feel which is a result of what you say to yourself. If you want to change non-productive behaviors than you have to change what you do by changing how you feel by changing what you say to yourself.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. On a recent business trip, I noticed how many of the weary “business” travelers were enjoying ice cream and McDonald French fries while waiting for flights to whisk them home. It’s okay to reward yourself with things that make you feel good.

Live a balanced life–learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some: Keeping fit helps you muster up the energy for that one last call. Your family puts life back in perspective and loves you when it seems nobody else does. Studies done by Behavioral Science Research Press, Inc. (BSRP) on top-producing salespeople brought up the role of religious faith in sales success. These top performers insisted that this be included in the study. They felt that believing their “future is in better hands than their own” was an important aspect of their career management strategy.

Take a nap every afternoon: Safety and Rescue (SAR) organizations teach the importance of taking naps when working sustained operations. They stress how naps greatly increase performance. Here are some facts about minimum nap times: (a) 1 minute at a time, total sleep 5 hours does not restore alertness. (b) 10 minutes at a time, minimum sleep to restore alertness. (c) 20 minutes optimal nap time for a fragmented sleep schedule. SAR states that naps are good anytime. A nap during the drop in alertness that naturally occurs mid afternoon is good. Prophylactic napping (naps before sleep deprivation expected) are also useful. Usually on the order of two hours worth of napping or extra sleep. The point here is that to be your best, get your rest.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together: Prepare for every sales call. Set your commitment objective for the call and then develop questions that equip you with the information needed to sell your enterprise software and how to sell it. If you are selling in a team, review the call plan with your sales partner, so they know your commitment objective and don’t get the call off track. Prepare for any possible roadblocks that may come up. Don’t wing your sales call.

Be aware of wonder: I moved to a mountain community, which is abundant with wild flowers. When taking walks, I see new flowers (or weeds–I can’t tell the difference) and I find myself saying, “I wonder what that is.” I should buy a book that will identify all these plants but I just keep wondering. How many times do you “wonder” about things during the day? You may say, “I wonder if my prospect has looked at the proposal yet”. I wonder if my competition is calling on them”? I wonder if I should follow-up again”? If you hear yourself “wondering” all the time, then it’s time to pick up the phone and just ask.

And remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned–the biggest word of all–LOOK: Always prospect. There are new customers all around you–be aware of your surroundings and always tell people about what you do. You never know who may know somebody who can get you in a door. When riding around, jot down notes of new businesses opening up, or buildings under construction. Read the business sections of the newspapers and trade magazines and make contact with people in the news. Keep “looking” for new business opportunities–everywhere.

Since great salespeople are sometimes great storytellers, here’s Robert Fulghum’s Storyteller’s Creed. You may agree with his or create your own.

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
That dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.