Some banks have announced mutual separation schemes. You know it spells trouble when the most prudent of all companies – banks – begin to embark on such cost-cutting measure.
Amid plunging global oil prices, oil and gas companies have begun to shelve oil explorations which do not augur well for service providers. With no contract forthcoming, the service contractors are left with little option but to lay off their geologists and engineers, to name a few.
I, too, have few retail friends who have stopped expanding. Why? Consumers are tightening their belt and there is little growth prospect in sight.
Well, as a martial artist, I do like to think that the battle of tough times should be fought in two distinct areas – (i) the battlefield and (ii) the mind.
As many of us are aware, most if not all wars are first won in the mind no matter how tough the battlefield can be. Most business and sales people have waged war against themselves – some have won, some squared but most have lost. The war in our heads is most often the hardest to win.
Here are some things to consider at the ‘battlefield’:
Better prospecting – Fill your pipeline with really qualified prospects. We call this the CIP or customer ideal profile. Create a worthwhile criteria – match your prospects against your CIP. This will enable you to gauge if you should focus your energy on them. Spend your time in more productive prospecting. Companies are still buying but which one?
Product pushing to questioning skills – Whenever I ask participants at my training what is the toughest selling skill, two popular answers tend to be “closing” and “handling objections”. And I don’t agree. The toughest selling skill is “questioning technique”. The reason why most sales people – greenhorn or seasoned – find it hard to close a deal is because they didn’t do a good job at the beginning.
Closing the sale is like “Will you marry me?”, hence the natural response to that question is “Yes, I do” or “Will you like to go ahead with this order?” to which the natural response should be “Yes, I do.”
In good times, prospects may try out your product based on your presentation skill. In tough times, however, we need to move our energy from presenting to questioning. Questioning allows you to find out the true needs of the buyers. It is the hidden psychology to obtain buy-ins or solicit information that is critical. Questioning skills also allow you to create needs by helping buyers to identify their problems. Most sales people do ask questions – but either not the right question or in a manner that is not skillful enough.
Deliver what you promise – This is of course an activity even for good times as we cannot afford to have dissatisfied customers at any one time. You may also want to exceed their expectations to create a ‘Wow’ factor. This assures them that their decision to go with you is the right one. And your relationship with them may last a life time!
Don’t get easily influenced – Your prospects and customers will always remind you how bad the economy or market is. You can empathize but never sympathize with them. Sell them hope. Don’t get sucked into buying their bad news and let them affect your sales process.
You may also want to avoid friends who are always bitching, whining, complaining and making excuses. Unless they are sitting down to discuss the situation and brainstorming for solutions, avoid them at all cost because humans are creatures of environment. Thus, we will be affected by our surroundings and that lead us to harbor negative beliefs, mindset and motivation.
GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) – I learned this during my computer science college days. Instead of reading how bad the economy is, read motivational books or those which will enrich your business knowledge. Get audio CDs on personal development. Attend more seminars. I’ve read over 400 books and completed more than 70 programs. This allows me to nourish my mind with contemporary knowledge.
Help your prospects – In Sales Ninja training, I clearly define the three roles of selling – (i) helping people to solve their problems; (ii) prevent problems, and (iii) improving their situation. This may be common sense but not common practice.
Most people sell because they want to make money. There is nothing wrong with that but we cannot lead our sales call with that kind of philosophy. Embark on a sales call by asking tough questions, listen and really finding out what challenges your prospect is having or how you can end their misery through your products or services.
Teamwork – When companies fail, people tend to blame the sales force. While the sales force is important, a company cannot function alone. Every department is important as well. The production people must act fast with consistent quality. The logistics team must deliver on time – every time. The receptionist must greet everyone with enthusiasm. It’s teamwork. Moreover, in tough times, everyone regardless of their job scope must sell and service.
Some will fail in tough times; some will survive; some will thrive. Which one do you choose to be?
Hanzo Ng has helped many clients achieved the HIGHEST sales record ever in their company history. He has also turnaround many under-performers and sky-rocketed their sales results through his Sales Ninja training programs. For more information on Sales Ninja training, visit www.SalesNinja.asia today!