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The consumer’s engagement in the buying process is more intense than it has ever been. With all the information available to us, it’s no wonder selling has become more and more difficult. When buying a product online, 92 percent of consumers spend time reading online reviews ahead of time and 40 percent of those consumers form an opinion by reading just 1-3 reviews. They insert their own confirmation biases and make quick decisions based on how well that product is customized for their own pre-determined needs.
In the next couple of posts, I’ll be addressing how today’s information age has dramatically impacted the sales process. We all have more data at our disposal which means better data management. This most certainly plays a role …
Every team needs a winning offense strategy. Some of the top franchises in sports turn to Tyson Group to help their sales teams move to the next level. Fenway Sports Management (large naming rights and sponsorship sales), the Dallas Cowboys (sponsorship, premium new stadium), the New York Yankees (premium space), the Boston Red Sox (tickets) and the University of Notre Dame (gifting and donor) are just some of the organizations we work with.
Despite the varied sports, our approach is one they all understand and easily adapt: when they adapted our process with an offensive strategy, they are successful. Whether it’s selling suites to Fortune 500s, closing multi-million-dollar naming rights deals, or selling tickets to the masses, it really doesn’t matter because it is the exact same process.
That’s the crossover power of our process that makes Tyson Group so successful. Throughout the years, I’ve worked with many of the same individuals who move from franchise to franchise and the feedback is this, “What you did at the Browns I want you to do at the Padres. What you did at the Cavs I want you to do at the Vegas Golden Knights. What you did here in San Diego I want you to do at Tampa Bay.” Regardless of the sports franchise, the process has been proven time and time again through a series of six steps that can be customized in a thousand different ways. Simple is genius.
Running an Offense Strategy Regardless of Your Industry
Last time I was in Salt Lake, I was with insurance brokers working with them on sales. We plug the same offense and process into tech, insurance, or financial as we do for major sports organizations. What these sales professionals—across all industries—learn is the same offensive strategy each of our major sports organizations leverage – a strategy and approach built on solid sales management, sales leadership and what I’ve referred to previously as, “grit.”
Like a top football, basketball, or baseball team, you can coach skills and knowledge all day long; however, the most successful sports stars have an “it” factor of persistence and grit. We not only help our clients the necessary sales skills, we help them access the grit within themselves—the element needed for true success in an offensive sales strategy.
There’s an exercise I like to do with management teams and salespeople in which they list attributes that would make their replacements successful. “If you had to hire somebody for your job and would get a bonus of 20 percent of your salary, what are things you would hire on?” I ask.
They will make a list of twenty or thirty things. But it comes down to three broad categories forming a triangle. At least 60 percent of success is based on attitude—things like grit, endurance, and perseverance. Another 20 percent to 30 percent revolves around skills like goal-setting and communication.
No matter your industry, when you approach your sales process with a proven offensive strategy—built on effective sales management, skill, and grit—your sales professionals will be unstoppable. Learn more about applying our proven offense strategy to your sales organization in my book, Selling Is An Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World.
Matching Your Sales Process to Your Buyer’s Buying Process
Think about the steps in your buying process when you buy something—a pair of sneakers, for instance. Something in your world gets your attention and you come to the conclusion: I need a new pair of sneakers. You start to go out and look, try a couple pairs on, go to the store, go to Amazon, etc. In that process, you remove doubt, because you’re actively looking. Then you start to consider it, lay it out and say, “Jeez, do I really need these? What pair do I need?” Ultimately, you buy a pair.
That’s a simple buying process.
In most sales, especially business-to-business sales, it’s more complex. In a previous blog, I’ve likened the process to a trip to the doctor’s office. Regardless of the product or service though, there’s a way to be successful: match up your sales process to the buyer’s buying process. In short, sell how people buy. Do this and you’ll be successful. Sound simple? It is and isn’t at the same time.
The Science and Art of Sales
As a sales professional, you take action to get somebody’s attention. You need to qualify them to see if they would fit business parameters. You have to engage the prospect in some kind of request for their time, ask them a series of questions that are really for their benefit, and get the buyer in a scenario where you can present them with an idea in order to start creating an opportunity where one did not exist before. Then you present something that removes their doubt and gets them saying, “This is a decent fit for me.” Finally, you get into dialogue with them to remove any objection and close.
There’s no shortcut to the process, no way to cheat the sales process—whether solicited or unsolicited. At the end of the day, sales is a science—a series of yeses:
- Can I talk to you? Yes, I’ll talk to you.
- Can I ask you some questions? Yes, you can ask me questions.
- Can I present an idea to you? Yes, you can present to me an idea.
- Have I resolved your objections? Yes, you resolved my objection.
- Are you ready to buy? Yes, I’ll buy.
It’s an algorithm of questions. Each question a stage in the process. Each question followed by a yes to get to the next stage.
But sales is also an art—one that requires a deep understanding of why someone is looking to buy and how to help them understand you have the right solution. Practiced at a high level, the profession combines creativity with a process for predictable results.
Sales Success Ultimately Requires a Repeatable Sales Process
I have been a sales professional, entrepreneur, and have trained other salespeople since the 1980s. Selling vacuums door-to-door in college; leading the largest franchise for Dale Carnegie Training outside Taiwan and Hong Kong; building Tyson Group as the go-to sales trainers of professional sports and entertainment as well as insurance organizations; training over one thousand sales executives and sales managers annually.
In all these years of selling and working with organizations of all sizes, the key to successful sales can be distilled down to a six-step process applicable to any product, service, industry, and solution. This process works. It’s a process that will benefit any high performer—from entrepreneur to sales professional to manager trying to boost team performance—and anyone who wants to improve their sales effectiveness. Because at any point, it can be closely aligned with the buyer’s buying process.
Learn more about what this proven and repeatable sales process is by visiting www.tysongroup.com, OR by purchasing your copy of, Selling Is An Away Game: Close Business And Compete In A Complex World.
In my previous post I emphatically stated, prospecting is not dead! Many marketing automation companies may try to convince you otherwise, or you may have convinced yourself with all the information seemingly available at your fingertips, that you have all the data you need to make a sale.
The fact is, nothing can replace actual prospecting. It’s challenging but worth it.
Ultimately, connecting with someone involves gaining a prospect’s attention by communicating briefly about things that interest that individual. It’s in making that connection where research can help – trying to learn snippets that can help your conversation including education connections, places they’ve lived, companies they’ve worked for, etc. Just remember: don’t lose sight of the importance of back and forth communication in the connecting process.
The art of prospecting takes patience, persistence, and the understanding of prospect’s perspective. The following are critical tips for practicing successful prospecting:
- Takes ten to fifteen phone calls to get a contact.
- Takes three to six contacts to get an appointment.
- If you call to confirm an appointment, you risk losing it.
- Crucial to send a calendar invite immediately upon setting the appointment.
- Phone appointments are at least 50 percent more likely to cancel/no show as opposed to a face to face meeting.
- Getting the first appointment is the hardest part of the sales process.
- Data changes constantly—the most accurate list is one you’re actively calling into.
- Waste of time to spend much time researching a company online—pick up the phone and call! Ask the gatekeeper questions.
- You’re competing not just with other salespeople for the buyer’s attention—you’re competing with anything else they view as more important.
- When you get a Decision Maker (DM) on the phone, you have seven seconds to get their attention
- Don’t talk about the product, talk about how the product relates to the DM’s world
- If you can see the world from your prospect’s perspective, you will be in a better position to respond to their reactions when you interrupt their day.
Prospecting is difficult, takes time, requires a thick skin and an ability to be persistent. It’s no wonder there are companies looking to capitalize on this notion that with their product/service you won’t have to prospect anymore, because, who wants to experience all those things if you don’t have to? And yet, there is no replacement for prospecting done well. Your hard, persistent work will pay off. Read more about how to be an expert at prospecting by checking out Lance Tyson’s new book, Selling Is an Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World.
Lately, there’s been a surge of advertising saying that traditional selling is dead, that prospecting is dead.
I have two words for that: fake news.
But, I get it…there’s a multitude of reasons to believe prospecting is dead. At least, that’s what customer relation management (CRM) companies, or marketing automation companies, will have you believe because they want you to think that you don’t have to prospect anymore.
Even though social media avenues like LinkedIn make connections with C-level executives and decision-makers much more possible, every salesperson in the universe is using it, thereby making it difficult to stand out. Also, office staff has little time on hand, meaning that you only have a window of about seven seconds to get past the gatekeepers. Many salespeople end up as just another name in a missed call log or forever lost in a collection of junk emails.
Prospecting isn’t dead, but it’s certainly not easy.
Despite the plethora of information with which we feel inundated each day. In chapter three of my book, we found that 82 percent of sales reps feel challenged by the amount of data and time it takes to research a prospect just to make the initial cold call. What’s more, did you know that poor quality data is costing your sales team at least 30 percent of revenues? Clean, accurate data is the difference for professionals seeking to streamline and clarify the front end of the sales cycle. Our studies show that sales reps are spending at least 32 percent of their time searching for missing data, then manually entering it into their CRM. Quality data is all about working smarter, reserving your resources, and accelerating your team’s sales cycle. According to Salesforce.com, about 70 percent of CRM data “goes bad,” or becomes obsolete, annually.
Bad data is bad for business. But no data, by not prospecting, is worse.
You can gather quite a bit of information through LinkedIn, Google, your company’s CRM…but ultimately success comes from actually engaging with a prospect and gathering “data” from attempting to speak with individuals of interest.
Nothing will replace, or provide greater success than actually connecting with a sales prospect.
Prospecting is definitely not dead.
Learn more about how to effectively start that conversation by checking out Lance Tyson’s new book, Selling Is An Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World.
In my previous post, I introduced the first three steps of my “Away-Game” selling process and how they directly mirror our experience at the doctor’s office. Each of these steps addresses some aspect of being in the buyer’s mind – which is why it is so successful for sales professionals. Previously we discussed the connect, evaluate, and diagnosis steps which are critical for moving toward a successful close.
As with the doctor, a diagnosis is just the beginning, and sometimes as a patient, we can be skeptical or unsure of the initial assessment. That’s where we start back up with the rest of the sales process and pick up with the prescribe step:
Once a doctor is sure of his or her diagnosis, they will prescribe something to address a health issue. They may say something along the lines of: “I’m going to give you Tylenol with codeine for that nasty sore throat. Stay away from beer and that John Deere while you’re taking it.” In sales, as with the doctor, you prescribe a solution that addresses the diagnosis you’ve made. You’re tailoring it as much as we can to the specific needs of the buyer. At this point, the buyer will want to know: What is it? How does it work? Who says so besides you? And can you prove it? You’re going to give the buyer precisely the right amount of information, and no more, about the solution, to convince them that they’re justified in buying from you.
The deal isn’t done once the prescription is given. Not in the doctor’s office and not in sales. In the doctor’s office, you don’t just accept the prescription and start taking it. You’re going to want to understand the implications, the cause/effect, what will happen if you don’t accept the prescription, and what will happen if you do. Somewhere inside you, you may feel resistance to the prescription. You may want to put off taking it. The doctor’s going to need to have a conversation, however brief, that addresses these issues. In Away Game selling, there has to be a scenario where you’re asking the right questions to make sure the buyer understands what you’re suggesting. You’re talking with them to help them see how our product or service may help them now and in the future, asking questions like: “What do you like about this? What don’t you like about this?” In dialogue, you’re helping them to clarify.
At this point, you’ve gone through connecting, diagnosis, prescription, and dialogue. Your objections have been addressed so that we won’t put off putting the prescription into practice. Now it’s time to close. The close is no more or less than an agreement to move forward with the prescription. In sales terms, it’s interchangeable with the commitment. This is what you’ve been working toward throughout the selling process and where you must overcome the last barrier in the buyer’s mind—indecision.
Like your experience at the doctor’s office, it’s a vetting process between both you as the patient and the doctor. Remember that your patients – potential buyers – want their concerns understood, they want to feel validated. At the same time, they want to feel confident in your product’s or service’s ability to address their concern. It’s your job as the “doctor” to make that happen.
There are six steps in what I call the “Away-Game” selling process:
Each of these steps addresses some aspect of being in the mind of the buyer – which is why it’s so successful. To understand how these steps play out, consider your experience at the doctor’s office. In this blog post and the next, I’ll walk you through how each of these steps can be likened to the relationship a doctor has with their patient.
What’s the first thing that happens when you walk into a doctor’s office?
They ask you a series of questions before taking your insurance card and copay. In doing so, they’re deciding if you’re qualified to do business with them. At the same time, you’re checking out the surroundings, the manner in which they treat you, and deciding if you want to do business with them. In this step of the sales process, you’re trying to get the buyer’s attention by communicating things that are important to them, things that will engage and advance a conversation. This is a point where the buyer is deciding whether they want to talk with you further.
After you have spent a little time in the waiting room of your doctor’s office, you head back to another part of the office, where a nurse or nurse practitioner or doctor’s assistant asks you questions about your health, weighs you, takes your temperature and blood pressure, maybe reviews your history. They’re evaluating you. They’re gathering information about your health based on age, weight, history, and all those other questions and the measurements they take. All while you’re evaluating them, judging their thoroughness and bedside manner. In sales, the purpose of the connect step is to turn the disinterest in the buyer’s mind into an interest in you and the selling process.
The doctor’s manner, the questions he or she asks, the level to which they seem to be listening to a patient’s questions and concerns, will all play into how a patient reacts to the doctor’s diagnosis. As with other steps in this process, the diagnosis cuts both ways. In sales, as you’re going through the questioning process of evaluation, you’re also starting to form your diagnosis. In this step, you’re starting to firm up some of your suggestions and talking about your products or services. All of that is geared toward getting a read on the buyer’s situation.
These initial steps are critical to the successful implementation of the next three which I’ll cover in my next post. In these first three steps, you’re laying the groundwork for your selling process, establishing confidence, expectations, and rapport. Both you and the buyer are determining if there’s a fit. In the next three steps, we’ll look at addressing the problems with a suitable solution and moving the sale forward to the end stage.
Here are a couple of meeting management tips I used in some of my past coaching sessions for leadership teams. Unusual… Unorthodox… Crazy… Call them what you will. They get the job done, especially when you use them as coaching opportunities
Meeting Management Tactic: Controlling Access
In this session with a client in the Ohio area, I was reviewing sales leadership practices with the organization’s management team. …
Last week, we announced Tyson Group inclusion and recognition in Selling Power’s list of Top 20 Sales Training Companies of 2018 (find the list here). As I mentioned in my post last week, such a monumental achievement is never the actions of a single person, but the work of the team, striving to achieve a major, common goal.
The press release noted that Selling Power looked at several areas for judging this year’s candidates. The areas they reviewed were: …
Recently I learned that Tyson Group received recognition as Selling Power’s Top 20 Sales Training Companies for 2018. I’m honored that our company has received such accolades. But I also have to acknowledge the effort and the commitment that my team has made to bring about this accomplishment.
The landscape of sales is changing. I recognize that our industry is constantly undergoing evolutionary changes but recently, with the advent of digital technology, it seems as if the changes have become revolutionary.
Intuitive Sales Wisdom Regarding Credibility
Here’s a bit of insight I stumbled upon about credibility while doing a half day training with one of our regional sports franchise sales teams.
During the the session, I realized these guys were intently focused on their service. And I needed them to move away from using that as a sales crutch to try something new. So, I started asking a series of questions regarding how salespeople open calls. …
Here’s a sales process example I remember from when we were looking at CRM software solutions. This sales rep, Bob, found me on LinkedIn and initiated contact. He then emailed me, saying he had a lead generation solution connecting the social media platforms to Salesforce.
Well, since we were talking about lead generation, I was more than mildly curious and agreed to meeting him. …
Prepare And Rehearse Your Opening And Close.
Yes, we’ve said preparation and rehearsal are necessary in your sales presentation. But you want to pay particular attention to your opening and your close. …
Unleash the Potential of Your Sales Team
Help your salespeople lead masterful sales conversations, build their pipelines, resolve rebuttals, increase win rates, negotiate the best agreements, and drive growth for strategic accounts with Tyson Group sales training and performance systems.