sales tecniques

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 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.


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.

Top 3 Fatal Sales Mistakes: What Not to Do to Succeed in Sales!

By Colleen Francis, President and Founder, Engage Selling Solutions

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself on the receiving end of a series of particularly heinous sales techniques – all of which were aimed at getting through a gatekeeper to a decision maker, and all of which ended disastrously for the sales reps involved.

I firmly believe that, to improve our skills and the relationships we have with our prospects and clients, it’s just as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do. In that spirit, I decided to recount and dissect these painful experiences, in the hope of sharing with you where these sales people went so wrong – and what they could’ve done instead!

One word of warning: while I’ve chosen not to use any names in order to protect the potentially innocent companies who may be employing these sales reps (and may not be aware of the “techniques” they are using), the stories you’re about to read are, unfortunately, all true. Viewer discretion is definitely advised…

1: The Case of the Anonymous Acquaintance
First, a couple of weeks ago, I received a magazine article in the mail that detailed the benefits to sales people of taking a public speaking course. On second look, I saw that the article was actually an advertorial, complete with a registration form for the course at the end.

Attached to the piece was a post-it with a handwritten note which read: “Colleen, I thought you would find this interesting.” It was signed with an illegible initial – maybe a J? Maybe an I? – I couldn’t be sure. I had no idea who had sent me this “highly informative article,” but because of the handwritten note, I assumed I must know them. I looked at the envelope it had come in, and, sure enough, found no return address and an automated bulk mail stamp – sure signs of unsolicited mail.

I’d never heard of the company offering the seminar, nor anyone they were associated with. Clearly, they were trying to hide behind their anonymity because they knew, that I knew, that they did not know me.

Why is this crossing the line?
Because by trying to pretend that they know and have a relationship with me even though they don’t, they are lying. To me, an approach that is based on a lie is the worst kind of mistake – and the absolute worst first impression – that any sales professional can make.

This lie is being used in the hope that I’ll feel guilty enough about not remembering who they are that I will call the company to find out, at which point they can try to sell me on their seminar. Will I be in the mood to be sold anything once I figure out their game? Will I ever buy anything from this company, or recommend them to my colleagues and associates? Am I likely to respond warmly to any follow-up call that might happen to come along?

The answer is NO! So if you’ve ever been tempted to try to lure new customers with a lie, first ask yourself this: if the customer or prospect finds out what I’m really up to, will they be mad, or will I be embarrassed? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then find yourself a different tactic – fast!

How not to cross the line
The idea of staying in touch with your customers and prospects by sending them an occasional article or other information is a good one. But if you use this technique, make sure the following rules of thumb are applied consistently, and without exception:

  1. The article is relevant to the prospect.
  2. The article is simply that – an article, not just a glorified advertisement for your product.
  3. The prospect knows you and you clearly sign your name so they can see it is from you.
  4. You identify who you are on the envelope.
  5. You make a follow-up call after they’ve received it.

2: The Case of the Schoolyard Bully
While on vacation in March, I received a frantic call from my office. My assistant was panicked because she’d gotten a call from a man who insisted that he had a meeting set up with me for that day, and that it was “critical” that he talk to me. He also told her that he “had talked to me directly,” that this was “a follow-up meeting,” that I had “promised to talk to him” – and even that he had “time sensitive information” he had to get to me.

When she finally got me on the phone, explained the situation and told me what company he was calling from, I realized it was all a ruse. I had never talked to that rep or his company before. I did know enough about what they did, however, to realize that what they sold was not relevant to my business and I was not, nor ever would be, interested in the service they offered.

In other words, this rep hadn’t even spoken to me before, let alone scheduled a “follow-up” meeting. He also didn’t offer anything that would be so “critical” to my business that I’d be glad to interrupt my vacation to talk to him.

Why is this crossing the line?
Once more: he lied. As far as I was concerned, that spelled the end of any business relationship he and I might ever have had.

To make matters worse, in order to get though to me (the “decision maker”), he tried to instigate panic in my assistant (the “gatekeeper”) by confusing her into thinking she and I had made a mistake, and I would have to be disturbed.

He knew we’d never spoken, and that we did not have a meeting scheduled. He was simply hoping that I would feel so guilty about the possibility that I’d made a mistake that I would be willing to cancel whatever else I was doing to take his call. He was probably also hoping that same unwarranted guilt would make me feel I “owed him” enough to listen to his pitch.

Whenever you use a tactic that requires making someone else feel bad simply to get what you want, you’re crossing the line not only between appropriate and inappropriate sales techniques, but also between being a smart or stupid sales person – and, to my mind, between being a decent human being and a schoolyard bully.

Just ask yourself: if your prospect found out what you were doing, would they want to have a relationship with you?

How not to cross the line
Assistants can be used effectively to secure appointments and get decision makers on your side. However, you should never attempt to manipulate them or their relationship with your prospect. If you do get a gatekeeper on the phone, try the following, and see how much farther it will take you:

  1. Show them respect at all times.
  2. Treat them like the decision maker, and try your opening lines or lead-in questions with them. They may be able to point you towards other decision makers in the company who could be important to your sale.
  3. Ask them when is the best time to reach the decision maker.
  4. Ask if they can schedule 15 minutes of time with the decision maker for you.
  5. Always thank them for their help.

3: The Case of the “Close, Personal Friend”
Finally, just a few days ago, a sales person called our office claiming to be a “close, personal friend” of mine. My assistant asked if I knew her, and while I didn’t think so, I decided to have her put her through to me anyway.

A couple of minutes into her pitch, I interrupted the rep and asked, “excuse me, do I know you?” She answered: “Not now, but if we do business together, I guarantee we will become good friends.”

Needless to say, we didn’t do business together, and we aren’t likely to at any point in the foreseeable future.

Why is this crossing the line?
Say it with me now: because she lied! Even worse, it was a really stupid lie!

Did the rep really not think that, as soon as she had me on the phone, I’d realize she wasn’t the “close, personal friend” she was claiming to be? Either she was hoping I would think her “idea” was clever, or that I was so stupid I can’t remember who my friends are. Any sales tactic that makes the prospect feel like you must think he or she is an idiot simply can’t end well.

Before you try any technique like this one, please ask yourself: if the prospect finds out what I’m doing, will they want to be my friend? Or will I be happy with the consequences of earning a bad reputation, and a lost opportunity?

How not to cross the line
Every time you call a decision maker, have a compelling reason to speak to them, and make sure your opening line or leading question is tuned to their needs, and offers them value. Then they will want to take your calls, without your having to lie to get them on the phone.

If you want to develop commonality with your prospects without resorting to trickery, try the following simple – and honest! – approach:

  • Use a REAL reference from someone you both know.
  • Tell them a third party story about a customer you’ve helped who is in their industry, and/or who is in their same position (Director, VP, etc).
  • Offer a piece of information that shows you know something about their business or industry that you can help them with. One of my clients who sells to the medical research industry, for example, leads with “your research into XYZ disease caught my attention…”

When it comes to being honest and being branded a liar, the line between what’s appropriate and what isn’t, isn’t so much a “fine line” as it is a gaping chasm. Fall in, and you may never be able to find your way out.