14 Lessons Learned in Sales the Hard Way

14 Lessons Learned in Sales the Hard Way

Jamie-Shanks-if-i-were-22

Like most sales professionals, I wish I had a Delorean and could crank it up to 88 MPH, just to go back in time, to make better decisions.  I am proud of the fact that I’ve learnt many hard lessons only once, and I’ve used these mistakes to propel my career.

When asked to write “what I wish I knew when I was 22”… I thought I would take a different spin.  There are mistakes, miscalculations and maturation growth that’s been needed each year I’ve been a sales professional.

I want to share the oversights I’ve had at each turn… hoping you don’t make the same mistakes:

22 Years Old = Treating sales as a job, not a career

I was working as a stock broker straight out of University.  I didn’t understand the “10,000 hours” rule AT ALL, as I’d been in sales for a hot minute, and treated sales like it was an occasional hobby.  I thought sales was a job that you just do.  I had no idea that sales is a lifestyle, culture and needs to be part of your DNA.

23 Years Old = If you wake up wishing you were sick to skip work, QUIT YOUR JOB!

It took me another year to figure this out, but I really, really didn’t enjoy my job then.  The stock market collapsed (2001) and I wasn’t going to be a stock broker.  I literally wished each night I could break my arm, or have the flu… so I could skip work.  Lesson learned – DON’T do anything you’re not excited about doing!

24 Years Old = Not building a rock solid network!

I remember my mom would say “it’s not what you know, but who you know”.  In 2014, with the skyrocketing of Social Networking, that’s one of the truest statements ever.  So in 2002, I left to Adelaide, Australia to do my MBA.  It was an amazing 2 years!  But what I learnt by doing an International MBA, and returning to Canada… your social network is key to opportunities.  When I got back to Canada, I had no business network.  Doing my MBA in North America could/would have built me a stronger network.

25 Years Old = Don’t take a job just because they dangle something shiny in front of you

I came back to Canada $60,000 in debt.  I needed a job in the worst way.  The mistake I made was being a cat on a string.  I flipped 4 jobs in 10 months, trying to chase the shiny thing that would pay off my debt the fastest.  I should have landed an opportunity and sunk my teeth into it.  Any territory sales rep will tell you it takes 6 months to dig gold out of their territory.

26 Years Old = Work smarter, not harder

By this time, I landed at a corporate real estate company on 100% commission.  I would work 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, and come in on the weekends as well.  I worked harder than anyone, and it made me my first $100,000+ job at an early age.  But, I look back and know I could have made the same money working smarter, and 50% the effort.  I had no plan, didn’t understand time management, ideal client mix, pipeline management, basically anything about sales.  All I knew is that I worked harder than anyone, and I was exceptional at lead generation (winning at the volume game).  I used brute force, not intelligence.

27 Years Old = Not trusting your instincts

I had started to develop a reputation at the corporate real estate company as both a grinder, lead generation machine, and “garbage man”.  I would work any account for both the experience and any potential pay-out.  I began writing business plans to optimize the ROI.  The plan was to form teams within the company that would segment roles (lead generation, account management, negotiation).  While I would take less % of each deal, I could spend 10 hours a day driving leads, rather than 2.  This plan was rejected, and I was demoralized.  It led to me leaving the company… even after constant successful use cases.  Ironically, the company moved to this model years later.

28 Years Old = Don’t chance the shiny things… again!

How could I resist.  A start up tech company offered me a $100,000 base salary + commission opportunity to build their business.  Apparently I didn’t learn from before… you’ll forget about your paycheck quickly if you don’t love your career.  To over compensate, I bought a 2004 Jaguar S-Type 4.2, which was SUPER DUMB at $900/month!

29 Years Old = Don’t be afraid to make a career change if you’re not passionate about the business

I can’t believe I stuck around for 1.5 years, just to pad my bank account.  Don’t do anything you don’t love; life is too short.  If your alarm clock goes off, and you dread going to work… do something else.  The best advice I can give an entrepreneur is “if you’re willing to make 50% less than your salaried job, and still be completely satisfied, then become a business owner.”  Expect you’re doing this NOT for the money.

30 Years Old = 3 is a crowd

I had a hair brained idea.  I created Canada’s first zero-emissions landscaping company.  My success = 200+ accounts generated in the first 2 months of operations.  My failure = adding 2 partners (they were best friends of each other, not me) into the company.  I didn’t understand the technology, so I brought on one partner, than stipulated we bring his friend as well.  3 decision-makers, where you’re almost guaranteed to lose every agreement is just a silly business model to be in.  I sold my shares at a loss after 1 year… not a great start to the entrepreneurial world.

31 Years Old = Not seeing my true value an potential

I was now a Director of Sales at a fast growing software company.  We were pioneering Sales 2.0 in Canada, testing ever technology imaginable, and driving an unbelievable lead flow.  But the CEO would call me a “Demo Do’er”, just a chess piece… and I hated it.  While yet again I was making great money, I didn’t know my real potential.  I became amazing at my job, but my limitation was lack of attention spent on learning everything about sales… not just how to do my job.  Treat sales like an investment, because I wish I had when I was 31.

32 Years Old = Don’t jump into anything without a plan

January 1st, 2010 I left my job as a Director of Sales, to become a “sales consultant”.  Problem, I had saved 1 months’ pay, and had no plan of attack.  I had landed my first client months before, but I had no plan after that client.  Pure stupidity… and it almost bankrupted me by the time I was 33.

33 Years Old = Don’t jump into partnerships just because you’re afraid to go alone

I’ve only had partners as an entrepreneur.  3 failed, 1 successful.  What I learnt about myself was that I’m a little nervous to go at a venture alone – but that doesn’t mean partnering, just to partner.  My partnerships failed because I partnered out of necessity or circumstance, not necessarily passionate, vision and purpose.

34 Years Old = Pivot sooner, don’t worry about Pivots

It wasn’t until the end of 2011 did I realize my calling to help sales professionals with Social Selling.  A big regret of mine was not moving in that direction 12 months earlier!

35 Years Old = Don’t be afraid of your pricing

Because we invested most of the original Social Selling curriculum from scratch, we really didn’t believe in our value at first.  I was constantly afraid that someone would turn to me at the boardroom table an call “MALARKY”!  That lack of confidence, coupled with no formal training in negotiating, had me doing haircut deals just to land new clients.  My regret was not believing sooner that we had created something revolutionary.

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Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks

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How to Reinforce Sales Training and Maximize Your ROI: 6 Tips for Success

How to Reinforce Sales Training and Maximize Your ROI: 6 Tips for Success

Many organizations invest a hefty portion of their budget in training the sales force. While it’s a worthwhile investment to improve your team’s performance, it’s critical that you take the necessary steps to maximize the return on your sales training dollars.

Without effective reinforcement, you risk implementing training that’s viewed as the “flavor of the month” — something that your team engages with but fails to apply to their ongoing routines. To create permanent behavior change and protect your sales training investment, be sure that you’re following your training with a high-quality reinforcement program.

Sales training introduces new techniques and skills. A sales training reinforcement program gives your sales reps the structure to implement, practice and strengthen those techniques and skills on the job — preferably with guidance from an expert sales coach.

Sales training reinforcement helps reps translate their training from the classroom to the real world and convert their new knowledge into well-honed skills, long-lasting habits and effective behaviors. To permanently shift the performance of your sales team and maximize your training investment, use the following six steps to design, implement and optimize a sales training reinforcement program.

1. Strategically Develop Your Reinforcement Structure

The forgetting curve shows us that learners typically forget new knowledge within days or weeks of training — unless they consciously review the material. Give your sales training the best chance to succeed by planning reinforcement ahead of time.

An ideal reinforcement structure includes regular opportunities for salespeople to review key concepts during sessions with their coaches, either virtually or in person. In addition, there should be opportunities for reps to practice skills with a customer or prospect, with access to the coach to answer questions and assist with any challenges that arise.

This active learning approach cements new skills and turns them into habits. Communicate to participants that the follow-up is a mandatory part of their training. In most cases, sales reps will enjoy post-training coaching, as it allows them to practice applying their new skills with real accounts — and to see firsthand the success that it brings.

2. Prioritize New Capabilities for Reinforcement

People typically learn best when they can focus on a few key items rather than trying to retain everything all at once. Organize your reinforcement program to focus on one or two key skills at a time so that reps can master them. You should also identify lower-tier capabilities to reinforce when learners have mastered the high-priority capabilities. This approach helps ensure that all of your salespeople continue to improve, regardless of their current level of performance.

Reinforcement technology can help you measure the progress your reps are making and provide insight into areas that coaches need to focus their attention on.

3. Enlist Expert Sales Coaches With Real Selling Experience

A good sales coach can make an enormous difference in the success of your sales training reinforcement program. The person coaching your sales team should not only be highly skilled at coaching but also have real industry experience to draw from. Your salespeople must trust their coach and his or her advice, and they’ll quickly be able to tell whether a trainer or coach has real selling experience or not.

To be most effective, sales coaches should meet the following requirements:

  • Closely understand your sales strategy and business objectives.
  • Understand adult learning best practices that increase knowledge retention and help salespeople take ownership of new skills.
  • Be highly educated in the sales process you teach.
  • Be familiar and comfortable with the sales enablement tools that will make reinforcement successful.

4. Train and Enable Your Frontline Managers

After you deliver your training and reinforcement programs, your sales managers will be the primary source of direction and leadership for your sales reps. Setting them up for success sets the entire team up for success, yet many organizations fail to adequately invest in this step.

Sales management training is critical to give your sales managers and leaders the coaching and reinforcement skills they need to be a resource and guide for your salespeople. Your managers need a practical coaching system and a framework for keeping the new selling skills alive inside your team, so be sure to provide them with the appropriate training and resources.

5. Establish and Maintain a Consistent Reinforcement Cadence

Behavior change doesn’t happen overnight. On average, it takes 66 days (approximately two months) for a new skill to become a habit. This means you must expect to reinforce new skills consistently for six to eight weeks — ideally beginning right after training — at a cadence that is appropriate for the material and your sales team’s existing capabilities and knowledge. Without a dedicated cadence, reinforcement tends to erode over time, leaving salespeople to rubber-band back to old habits.

Regular reinforcement check-ins and skill refreshers help make skills learned in training the “new normal” for your sales team. Your documented cadence should include:

  • The frequency of reinforcement sessions. (Holding sessions on the same day each week improves attendance and accountability.)
  • The length of reinforcement sessions (ideally no more than an hour, to prevent loss of interest).
  • The material covered in reinforcement sessions.
  • The structure of reinforcement sessions.
  • The frequency and structure of individual coaching and other forms of reinforcement.

6. Measure and Track Success

A strong, strategic training and reinforcement system is one of the most effective ways to improve your sales organization’s performance in the long term. Reinforcement is key to maximizing the return on investment in training, and it’s important to measure and track success at various intervals along the way.

Effective sales enablement tools can give coaches and stakeholders insight into how each participant is progressing. This information reveals challenge areas that need more attention and helps to develop ongoing coaching plans for the future. In addition, consider measuring your ROI by evaluating critical success markers, including:

  • Additional sales that reps attribute to training.
  • Increase in sales volume as a result of training and reinforcement.
  • Increase in average sales amount.
  • Improved performance compared to quota.
  • Changes in the length of sales cycles.
  • Specific sales behaviors, activities and key performance indicators that yield the largest changes in results.

To maximize the return on your investment and give your sales enablement project the best chance of success, you should follow up with a quality coaching and reinforcement system. When choosing a training partner, look for one that provides best-in-class reinforcement tools and systems to help you build on the momentum of the training and solidify new behaviors. Doing so will maximize your ROI and make your short- and long-term goals easier to reach.

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Training Industry

Michelle Richardson

Michelle Richardson is the vice president of learning services at The Brooks Group, a corporate sales training and sales management training company helping organizations build top-performing sales teams. In her role, Michelle leads the strategy, design and delivery of training and assessment solutions to support clients in their talent development needs.

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12 Direct Sales Techniques to Sell Pretty Much Anything

12 Direct Sales Techniques to Sell Pretty Much Anything

If someone can sell even the most unremarkable of items, we call that great salesmanship. But direct sales virtuosity lies not in making people buy something they don’t need. It lies in making them feel their decision is right. Persuasion, not manipulation.

The ordinary pen is a popularly illustrated example. A pen doesn’t have to look special, it doesn’t require extraordinary features. It overall doesn’t have to do much but write. Hence, a pen is hard to pitch.

I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell
I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a well

Jay-Z

Anyone who makes that sale, though, most certainly came well-prepared . Here are some direct sales techniques to sell pretty much anything.

1

FAB (features – advantages – benefits)

The famous FAB technique consists of three consecutive steps that give a clear structure to sales talks. First you name features, attributes of your company or product. Then come advantages, what the feature actually does, then benefits, the positive impacts of that for the customer.

This technique addresses a common mistake among salespeople. Being too convinced that features automatically translate to benefits for the customer.

They disregard the customer’s individual needs and overestimate their knowledge of the product offered. They end up presenting product attributes explaining the positive implications for their prospects. Who then think “Great! Now why would I need that?”

An example of the FAB technique in action. Naming features of our own live chat software could sound like this:

1. “Our software is optimized for mobile.”

This feature description sounds nice but doesn’t target a customer’s problem nor offer a fix. It doesn’t incite to make a purchase. Thus, the FAB suggests to continue with advantages :

2. “Many of your customers are mobile when they enter your site. Serve them through a mobile-optimized chat window.”

Finally, explain how that advantage benefits your prospects:

3. “Offering your customers support wherever they are and whatever device they use will boost your sales.”

Sticking to the FAB structure will prevent you from empty feature bragging and make your product more comprehensible for your customers. They’ll receive a solid reason to buy.

2

The “I’m on your side” technique

With this technique out of Robert Cialdini’s Influence you pretend to team up with the customer against your own company.

In Cialdini’s example, the salesperson tells the customer he would like to make a deal for her, but that he has to convince his boss first. So, he puts the customer on hold for some minutes, while ostensibly talking to his superior in another room. Then he returns, worn out but happy to have sealed a deal for the customer. The assumed fraternization with the salesperson makes the customer trust the salesperson – a fertile ground for future sales.

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Of course, you don’t have to be in the same physical place as the customer, of course. Whether you’re on the phone or in live chat, you can create the impression of being on the customer’s side.

3

The favor upfront

The concept of reciprocity describes our intrinsic tendency to return in kind favors we receive by other people. This tendency remains fascinatingly stable, even when the favors are of rather symbolic value or of no real use.

Indeed, many experiments have shown how powerful a seemingly altruistic favor was in making the receiver want to return it. Free coke cans mints or christmas cards all reliably activated reciprocity.

As the donation-seeking letter by a health care foundation showed over the course of a decade , the system even works when a transaction between two parties is later reframed as a favor of one of them.

So, to leverage reciprocity, start your sales talk with a favor. Think of the countless things that can force a smile on your own face and you get an idea how versatile this technique is. Free samples, other gifts, or exceptional content made with dedication, like that of the SEO wizards of Moz , are sure-fire methods

We despise no source that can pay us a pleasing attention.

Mark Twain

But as social psychologist Naomi K. Grant and her team proved in a 2010 study , the non-material compliment ensures compliance by the complimented through increased liking. So, also consider dropping a few nice words in a sales conversation.

4

The because justification

As the Xerox machine line experiment by psychologist Ellen Langer showed , the likelihood of a favor being granted is dramatically increased if a reason for the request is given. Langer found that even silly reasons, like “because I need to print”, work as solid justification to be allowed to cut the line.

So, when dealing with a lead, justify your request with the open sesame word “because”. This will get you to the first base, from which you can follow up with the next direct sales technique.

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For instance, imagine you’re reaching out to a prospect who’s likely never heard of you to sell them your software. Your first base would be getting the opportunity to introduce your product. Request that opportunity with a justification: “I think you’ll be very interested in hearing about our software, because we have many of your competitors as customers.” or “I’d like to introduce you to our product in detail because we are running a special deal until tomorrow that you could benefit from.”

Among because justifications, scarcity is one of the mightiest. If you’ve been wondering why your local carpet store has been running their ‘final’ clearance sale for years on end, yet never actually went bust, read this post by Nir Eyal . Customers will be more tempted to buy your product if they believe the availability is or could be going down.

Still, don’t grab the sledgehammer by saying that you’re on the absolute last item. Rather casually mention how your stock will probably run dry or bring up the interest of another customer. Play on the scarcity principle in a subtle manner.

5

Gather – respond – deliver – close

This four-step technique introduced by abovementioned Ian Adams focuses on using information to navigate through any sales talk:

  1. Gather information
  2. Respond to information
  3. Deliver information
  4. Ask for something, the closing

Employed on the pen example in a more general way, Adams holistic four-step approach looks like this:

  1. Find out how they last used a pen (gather info)
  2. Emphasize the importance of the activity they last used a pen (respond to info)
  3. Sell something bigger than a pen, like a state of mind (deliver info)
  4. Ask for the buy (closing)
6

Questioning the status quo

Look at this technique as a sibling to the because justification. It’s ideal when you lack information about your counterpart and seek to reach a first common ground with them. Thereby, it protects you from the darkest spell uninterested buyers cast on salespeople: “Nah, I’m good.”

The because justification suggests dropping just any reason for asking for a favor. Questioning the status quo is a sharper blade and consequently requires special care. Your reason for offering a product is that the prospect’s current situation needs fixing.

 

Wouldn’t you say signing those new customer contracts is an important event for the business? ( nods head ) Then shouldn’t it be treated like one. What I mean by that is, here you are signing new customer contracts, an important and memorable event. All while using a very unmemorable pen.

If you take another look at Ian Adams’ pen selling example (above), you’ll find that he did exactly that. First, he uses a highly agreeable, in fact nearly irrefutable statement to create agreement on his prospect’s side: of course signing customer contracts is an important event.

His prospect probably used to successfully sign such contracts with normal pens. In fact, he could put his name on contracts with pretty much any pen and never care about the item in his hand.

But Adams came up with an issue that requires a fix, by questioning the status quo: memorable events, like signing a customer contract, require a memorable pen, not just any pen. As it happens, Adams has such a memorable pen on him at that very moment – and it’s up for sale.

7

The “but you are free” (BYAF) technique

Backed up by 42 psychological studies with a total of more than 22,000 participants , this technique lacks no validation. In his blog post , Jeremy Dean described it as “the one (really easy) persuasion technique everyone should know”.

Of course this post would be pointless if I’d agree with that. But I do think it has some huge benefits, like its simplicity and subtlety.

To gain compliance with the customer, the BYAF suggests, finish your sales pitch by reminding them of their freedom of choice.

The BYAF technique is so effective because it makes the receiver feel like she’s not persuaded but given additional information for making a sovereign decision. A rare occurrence in sales talks.

Ian Adams, after handing over the pen to sell to his prospect, says: “Try it out. If you’re not happy with it, I will personally come back next week to pick it up. And it won’t cost you a dime.” In this example, Adams’ “if you’re not happy, you can easily step back” is the BYAF technique at work. The customer now knows that he can make the final call.

Interestingly, throughout the studies, the researchers found the exact phrasing to be rather irrelevant. Anything from “but it’s your choice of course” to “it’s your call” or “if you’re not happy, you can of course return the item free of charge” should work.

8

Low-balling

The low-balling technique, famously reproduced by Robert Cialdini , consists of two main steps when applied in a sales setting:

  1. Offering a product for a hot price below the actually intended one
  2. Subsequently raising the charge.

The psychological concept at work here is that of commitment . You reach loose agreement over the low price first, then follow-up with the actual higher quotation. Once the appealing idea of the great deal and owning the product has settled in the buyer’s mind, the higher price is more likely accepted as well. They just can’t shake the auspicious feelings induced by your initial price.

Imagine you got a freshly maintained JEEP at hand that easily goes for $7,000 on the market. You meet with a potential buyer and, despite the car’s actual value, offer it to him for $6,000. The guy is a little puzzled but happy to make a serious bargain considering the great condition of the vehicle. You agree to meet the next day for signing the contract.

When you meet again, though, your offer is $7,000. You explain the higher price with the vehicle’s great condition and a heated market, perhaps with saying that a friend just sold the same car for no less than eight grand. After thinking on it for some minutes, the prospect finally exhales and accepts, teeth-gnashingly.

The first offer is no more than your hook to make buyers think they’re grabbing a bargain. It should not, however, make them believe you’re unaware of the product’s value or that there is some catch on it. Your entry level price should therefore be very attractive, yet not ridiculously low. In order for the low-ball to be effective, the buyer must not entertain suspicion.

The second offer should not be too high either, otherwise it will hit the buyer like a sucker punch and ruin your deal. Trivializing the additional money to be spent is a good way to prevent this. Also, of course, don’t use this technique to rip people off, but to reach a fair market-value price.

9

The door-in-the-face technique

This direct selling technique follows the same systematics as the low-ball, only here they’re inverted. Another study by Cialdini found that if people first refuse an extreme initial request, they are more likely to comply with a smaller subsequent request.

His findings are instructive for any direct sales context. First, set the price for your product or service so high that you force your prospect to decline. Then come back with a lower price that inevitably seems super legit in the light of your previous demand.

The idea behind that is the principle of making a concession, Cialdini describes this in Influence as well. If you make a concession, the other party feels obliged to do the same. You’ll often encounter this system in face to face situations on bazaars of the Orient and markets throughout South East Asia. It also works via phone. But when direct feedback options are limited, you’ll risk losing the customer more easily.

10

The foot-in-the-door technique

Did you know that if you want to borrow your new neighbor’s car, you better ask her to lend you her bike on a previous occasion? The foot-in-the-door technique suggests exactly that.

Another technique similar to the low-ball, it consists of making a low initial request and then following up with a larger one. The difference is that here the first request is not to be rejected and replaced, but much rather paves the way for them by being accepted.

The same works for selling. You place your foot in the door with an attractive first price. Then you widen the door crack inch by inch with higher requests of comparable nature. This is a particularly effective technique for upselling.

It was first proven effective by Freedman and Fraser in 1966 and plays into our urge to be consistent with previous behavior and opinion. Higher second and third requests are accepted because – and as long as – they are similar in kind to the one before.

11

SPIN selling

Before turning it into a book , consultant Neil Rackham based this technique on the results of his analysis of over 35,000 sales calls in the 1980s. It suggested that sales pitches are successful when the customer talks while the seller listens intently, following up with questions of these four types:

  • ituation: Attempt to establish a common understanding of circumstances and background information, searching leverage points for relevant more in depth-questions.
  • roblem: Question to center in on the prospect’s implied issues, troubles and dissatisfactions.
  • mplication: Question about the consequences and impact of the issue.
  • eed-payoff: Question asking about the need for a solution and the potential value of making the problem going away.

Using these questions as stages to progress on, the seller creates comfort on the prospect’s side, making him gradually open up and unveil his needs. Only after moving through all stages, the own product is introduced as a solution.

Profitworks has summarized this technique comprehensively on their blog with example question for each stage of the sales talk.

12

The referral technique

Sometimes people simply refuse to buy. Instead of dropping prices and walking away without profit, experienced salesmen will often use the customer’s natural tendency for making a concession. Instead of asking the customer to buy, they ask him for the second best thing: a referral. The contact details of friends who might be interested in the product are especially valuable for future sales.

When in talks with the next prospect, drop the friend’s name who referred you to them. “Jim told me you might be interested”. This creates proximity and gains you trust. From here on, making a sale will be much easier.


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How to Reassess Your Sales Opportunities

How to Reassess Your Sales Opportunities

As the first quarter of 2020 ended, sales pipelines began to deteriorate. Deals that were on their way to closing began to fall apart. Customer budgets decreased.

This upheaval is prompting many sales professionals to reaffirm the sale with the customer. The most effective sales professionals, however, are doing something different. They are reassessing the sale with the customer.

Rather than merely restating the effectiveness of the product or service, they are reexamining the customer’s changing needs. They are redesigning their pipelines with opportunities that address these new circumstances. Doing so requires considering the factors underpinning changes to the customer’s goals and challenges.

The effectiveness relies on the sales professional’s ability to apply questions in a way that addresses new and more challenging circumstances. The factors represent a repeatable framework that sales professionals can use to revisit the opportunities in their pipeline.

With these questions, sales professionals will be able to:

  1. Determine how well the opportunity is positioned for a win
  2. Identify any gaps preventing forward progress
  3. Target the most important customer information early in the pursuit

These three capabilities all serve one key goal: to focus the right skills on the right sales opportunities so that more of the sales professional’s efforts yield results.

A Structured Approach to Understanding the Customer’s Changed World

Here, we list six factors sales professionals must consider when reassessing the sale with their customers. While these factors serve the sales professional in a normal business setting, they have become even more important in our current environment.

1.     Pain

Many sales opportunities arise from a pain point within the customer’s world. This pain can be a missed opportunity, difficulty navigating an industry change, or an emerging competitive threat. While the list of possible challenges is limitless, they all connect to one of three base needs: to earn more money, to save money, or to manage risk. In the changed environment of today, sales professionals need to reconfirm their understanding of the customer’s pain because it has changed for most. Goals like increasing revenue have become goals like preserve revenue.

Without revisiting this topic with customers, the sales professional risks delivering a value proposition that addresses outdated needs and, in some cases, outdated business models. Sales professionals and stakeholders must work from a shared definition of the core challenge.

2.     Power

Here, power refers to the stakeholders who are authorized to make a purchasing decision. Sales professionals need to ensure that they are accessing this group and positioning the solution in a way that resonates with the decision makers. This approach becomes more challenging in a stagnant or shrinking economy in which budgets decrease and purchasing power consolidates within a smaller number of individuals. In this setting, budget authority often moves up the organizational chart. Therefore, sales professionals must seek new relationships with leaders who may not have been part of the original conversation. Moreover, sales professionals may need to overcome objections to a new set of stakeholders seeking to pause or cancel existing deals.

The sales professional may not be able to depend on their existing contact or an established advocate within the customer’s business. These relationships may be less influential to the sale but can also serve as starting point for navigating the new decision hierarchy.

3.     Vision

In most cases, the sales professional will need to alter the solution to ensure that it aligns with the customer’s most current challenges. They may need to get creative and rethink the solution components and how they are delivered. A truly aligned solution must also be differentiated and positioned to meet the customer’s long-term needs. For this reason, the sales professional’s role as an ongoing partner and collaborator is important because the customer will likely need to adjust the solution as the nature of their challenge continues to change long after implementation.

The most sophisticated sales professionals do more than track the customer’s current challenges — they also help the customer gain clarity on what those challenges are. In doing so, the sales professional has a valuable opportunity to shape the customer’s thinking. As businesses struggle to find their place in a changed economy, sales professionals have a chance to influence the customer’s strategy.

4.     Value

Customers are focused on value more than ever. Budgets have thinned considerably, and all spending demands a thoroughly vetted ROI justification. As a result, sales professionals will need to place the value of the solution within the context of measurable business factors like expected revenue gain, gross margin, or long-term savings. The value of the solution must exceed that of the status quo and any competing solution the customer is considering.

Anchoring value might require the sales professional to offer case studies that share quantified outcomes. Articulating value is difficult because it challenges the sales professional to convert some soft factors into numerical figures that place a stake in the ground. Over the long term, sales professionals must deliver on a commitment grounded in unambiguous measurement.

5.     Collaborate

Collaboration with the customer must increase as conditions become more dynamic. Customers are continuing to adjust and adapt. They are exploring new avenues for revenue as global business conditions slow. This process is iterative. Therefore, sales professionals need to work in lockstep with stakeholders. They must also ensure that they access all of the stakeholders who are involved in the long-term direction of the business. This group is likely to change and even contract as the business navigates uncertain terrain.

With challenging times and new solutions, customers might need more comfort when evaluating the purchase. In response, sales professionals need to mitigate risk with collaboration focused on how to evaluate a new or changed solution.

Sales professionals must understand the customer’s next steps. At this stage, sales professionals should begin to look at a timeline for reaching the sale. Collaboration is an opportunity for gauging the customer’s sense of urgency and their commitment to engaging in a solution.

6.      Compelling Reason to Act

No sale can occur unless the customer has a compelling reason to act. This fact is even more evident as new hesitations surface in a strained business setting. Sales professionals must ask themselves if the customer has a high-priority reason to continue. What may have been compelling at the start of the year may now be low priority. The factors that compel a stakeholder to move forward have become elevated. That is, the solution must yield more results, offer more certainty with regard to outcomes, and deliver outcomes faster.

In some cases, the customer may in fact find compelling reasons to not act. In this situation, the sales professional will need to use an objection resolution model by neutrally acknowledging the objection, asking questions to determine the underlying cause of the objection, then finally positioning the solution in a way that addresses the objection.

A Structured Plan for Preserving Pipeline Opportunities

Each of these factors represents a critical juncture in the sale. Recognizing these junctures is what enables the sales professional to approach the sale with a structured plan that preserves many of the pipeline opportunities that may otherwise be at risk due to the economic conditions of today.

Sales professionals can bring even more structure by assigning a numerical value of 0-5 to reflect the degree to which they have satisfied each of the six areas. A zero indicates no movement, and a five indicates complete success. This scale offers a measurability that is critical for success, as seen by research from Bain indicating that metric-driven initiatives “increase profitability by as much as 25% over sustained periods.” Metric-driven initiatives also bring much-needed stability to an unstable and uncertain world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Jimmy Touchstone is the Director of Learning Innovation. Mr. Touchstone has been a key contributor and evangelist of the development of role-based curriculum focused around programmatic approaches to training, development, and reinforcement.

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How to Reinforce Sales Training and Maximize Your ROI: 6 Tips for Success

How to Reinforce Sales Training and Maximize Your ROI: 6 Tips for Success

Many organizations invest a hefty portion of their budget in training the sales force. While it’s a worthwhile investment to improve your team’s performance, it’s critical that you take the necessary steps to maximize the return on your sales training dollars.

Without effective reinforcement, you risk implementing training that’s viewed as the “flavor of the month” — something that your team engages with but fails to apply to their ongoing routines. To create permanent behavior change and protect your sales training investment, be sure that you’re following your training with a high-quality reinforcement program.

Sales training introduces new techniques and skills. A sales training reinforcement program gives your sales reps the structure to implement, practice and strengthen those techniques and skills on the job — preferably with guidance from an expert sales coach.

Sales training reinforcement helps reps translate their training from the classroom to the real world and convert their new knowledge into well-honed skills, long-lasting habits and effective behaviors. To permanently shift the performance of your sales team and maximize your training investment, use the following six steps to design, implement and optimize a sales training reinforcement program.

1. Strategically Develop Your Reinforcement Structure

The forgetting curve shows us that learners typically forget new knowledge within days or weeks of training — unless they consciously review the material. Give your sales training the best chance to succeed by planning reinforcement ahead of time.

An ideal reinforcement structure includes regular opportunities for salespeople to review key concepts during sessions with their coaches, either virtually or in person. In addition, there should be opportunities for reps to practice skills with a customer or prospect, with access to the coach to answer questions and assist with any challenges that arise.

This active learning approach cements new skills and turns them into habits. Communicate to participants that the follow-up is a mandatory part of their training. In most cases, sales reps will enjoy post-training coaching, as it allows them to practice applying their new skills with real accounts — and to see firsthand the success that it brings.

2. Prioritize New Capabilities for Reinforcement

People typically learn best when they can focus on a few key items rather than trying to retain everything all at once. Organize your reinforcement program to focus on one or two key skills at a time so that reps can master them. You should also identify lower-tier capabilities to reinforce when learners have mastered the high-priority capabilities. This approach helps ensure that all of your salespeople continue to improve, regardless of their current level of performance.

Reinforcement technology can help you measure the progress your reps are making and provide insight into areas that coaches need to focus their attention on.

3. Enlist Expert Sales Coaches With Real Selling Experience

A good sales coach can make an enormous difference in the success of your sales training reinforcement program. The person coaching your sales team should not only be highly skilled at coaching but also have real industry experience to draw from. Your salespeople must trust their coach and his or her advice, and they’ll quickly be able to tell whether a trainer or coach has real selling experience or not.

To be most effective, sales coaches should meet the following requirements:

  • Closely understand your sales strategy and business objectives.
  • Understand adult learning best practices that increase knowledge retention and help salespeople take ownership of new skills.
  • Be highly educated in the sales process you teach.
  • Be familiar and comfortable with the sales enablement tools that will make reinforcement successful.

4. Train and Enable Your Frontline Managers

After you deliver your training and reinforcement programs, your sales managers will be the primary source of direction and leadership for your sales reps. Setting them up for success sets the entire team up for success, yet many organizations fail to adequately invest in this step.

Sales management training is critical to give your sales managers and leaders the coaching and reinforcement skills they need to be a resource and guide for your salespeople. Your managers need a practical coaching system and a framework for keeping the new selling skills alive inside your team, so be sure to provide them with the appropriate training and resources.

5. Establish and Maintain a Consistent Reinforcement Cadence

Behavior change doesn’t happen overnight. On average, it takes 66 days (approximately two months) for a new skill to become a habit. This means you must expect to reinforce new skills consistently for six to eight weeks — ideally beginning right after training — at a cadence that is appropriate for the material and your sales team’s existing capabilities and knowledge. Without a dedicated cadence, reinforcement tends to erode over time, leaving salespeople to rubber-band back to old habits.

Regular reinforcement check-ins and skill refreshers help make skills learned in training the “new normal” for your sales team. Your documented cadence should include:

  • The frequency of reinforcement sessions. (Holding sessions on the same day each week improves attendance and accountability.)
  • The length of reinforcement sessions (ideally no more than an hour, to prevent loss of interest).
  • The material covered in reinforcement sessions.
  • The structure of reinforcement sessions.
  • The frequency and structure of individual coaching and other forms of reinforcement.

6. Measure and Track Success

A strong, strategic training and reinforcement system is one of the most effective ways to improve your sales organization’s performance in the long term. Reinforcement is key to maximizing the return on investment in training, and it’s important to measure and track success at various intervals along the way.

Effective sales enablement tools can give coaches and stakeholders insight into how each participant is progressing. This information reveals challenge areas that need more attention and helps to develop ongoing coaching plans for the future. In addition, consider measuring your ROI by evaluating critical success markers, including:

  • Additional sales that reps attribute to training.
  • Increase in sales volume as a result of training and reinforcement.
  • Increase in average sales amount.
  • Improved performance compared to quota.
  • Changes in the length of sales cycles.
  • Specific sales behaviors, activities and key performance indicators that yield the largest changes in results.

To maximize the return on your investment and give your sales enablement project the best chance of success, you should follow up with a quality coaching and reinforcement system. When choosing a training partner, look for one that provides best-in-class reinforcement tools and systems to help you build on the momentum of the training and solidify new behaviors. Doing so will maximize your ROI and make your short- and long-term goals easier to reach.

Michelle Richardson

Michelle Richardson

Michelle Richardson is the vice president of learning services at The Brooks Group, a corporate sales training and sales management training company helping organizations build top-performing sales teams. In her role, Michelle leads the strategy, design and delivery of training and assessment solutions to support clients in their talent development needs.

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The Power is in the Sales Process

The Power is in the Sales Process

Here’s a lesson that every salesperson needs to learn early in their career: Sales is not magic. Just the opposite; every selling situation has a very definable, step-by-step process which, when executed with expertise, almost inevitably leads to a sale.

One way to define the job of a salesperson is this: Salespeople manage a sufficient number of customers step-by-step through the selling process.

It follows, then, that one way to improve your results is to clearly identify the steps in your selling situation’s unique process, and then focus on moving each customer, one step-at-a-time, methodically through that process.

There are a number of advantages to this perspective:

  1. You will know where you are in the process with each customer. This saves you time by eliminating much of the uncertainty regarding a project with a customer.

  2. It clearly points out the next step in the process, which allows you to be very focused in your sales calls.

  3. It provides a way of keeping track of multiple projects in large accounts. (For each project, where are you in the process?)

  4. It allows you to hone in on different steps of the process which may be causing you difficulty, and improve in the skills and competencies that will bring you the most bang for the buck.

  5. It allows you a fairly accurate way to predict future sales.

  6. It provides you a way to think about each account, and to talk about it with your manager.

In spite of that, I rarely come across a company in the B2B sales world which has taken the time to identify the sales processes that are most effective for its unique combination of markets, products/services, and sales resources.

Please note that I am talking about something more sophisticated than the simple formulas promoted by the generic sales gurus. We’ve all seen the four-step, five-step, or six-step generic approaches to selling life insurance, real estate or the latest network marketing opportunity: Get their Attention, gain their Interest, turn it into Desire, motivate them to Action!

It really is difficult to apply those simplistic notions to the realities of managing a project through the labyrinth of end-users, managers, engineers, new products committees, and purchasing agents that is the reality with which so many B2B sellers contend. One of my clients, a seller of big-ticket production equipment, identified 28 steps in their unique selling process.

Which brings us to the first principle of sales processes: Every unique combination of product category, market segment and sales resources potentially has its own “best” sales process.

For example, if you sell flour to independent grocery stores via inside, telephone salespeople, you’ll have one “best” process. If you sell a new concept in packaging to manufacturers of pharmaceutical products primarily through field salespeople, you’ll have quite a different process.

This can be true for different products to the same customer. There is one sales process for selling a $20,000 industrial scrubber to a maintenance department of a large manufacturer, and a quite different one for selling the detergent that scrubber uses.

Notice that it is the combination of ingredients that determine the best sales process. So your sales process may be completely different than your competitor’s. You may have more resources devoted to the Internet, for example. While your competitor may not have any Web-based marketing, and instead rely upon the traditional field salesperson.

Since your resources are different, your processes are different.

It doesn’t take much reflection to observe that there is incredible power in developing a break-through sales process. For example, two of the most rapid growing companies on the landscape today are Wal-Mart and Amazon. Notice that one of the most significant of their points of distinction is not the product that they sell. That’s the same as what a lot of other people sell. It is their selling process. Look at it from the point of view of the customer. The experience of buying from Wal-Mart is dramatically different than the alternate process of buying from the local vendors. Likewise for Amazon. While these two examples come to mind, the economic landscape is populated with hundreds of others. It’s not the product, it’s the process!

While there is tremendous potential in developing a break-through sales process, that is probably not going to be the intention of most of the readers of this article. Just understanding your unique selling situation, and then crafting an intentional process can be one of the most powerful initiatives you undertake. It will allow you to focus the power of your sales resources in a laser-sharp way, track every salesperson’s progress, and improve the end result – more customers and more customers buying more!

Unfortunately, most sales managers have not thought this way. As a result, most companies have no articulated sales process. Rather, salespeople have been left on their own to determine how to do their job. Ask about intentionally designed, reproducible processes and you hear a mumble of inarticulate meanderings. The reality is that most commonly, every salesperson claims a unique situation, there is no accountability, and sales managers are left spending most of their time reacting to crises.


It is time to change that.

Where to begin?

Formulate a strategic approach to using sales processes. Commit to the following set of sets:a. Develop some standard processes

b. Train and equip your people in them

c. Develop some tracking tools

d. Review and refine the process and the execution of them regularly.

Let’s discuss each of these separately.

A. Develop some standard processes

There are two basic selling processes. You should at least address these.
First is the process of gaining a new customer. The second is the process of expanding the business with that customer. These two processes, after all, are the heart of the salesperson’s job.

One of the most common complaints I hear from sales executives is that their salespeople don’t prospect enough. They just don’t bring in enough new accounts. It’s entirely likely that they have never been taught how to do so.

If that is true for you, then you need to rectify it. What that means is that you must design a step-by-step process that articulates the important events the salesperson must execute to move a “prospect” account to the point that they give you an initial order. What must be done first, and next, etc.

Once you have defined your processes, you can then move on to the next step.

B. Train and equip your people in them.

Now that you have identified the key steps to the process, you can focus on each of those steps and help everyone learn how to do it better. Let’s take the first step of the first process: Identify potential prospects.

  • How do you do that?
  • What constitutes a legitimate prospect?
  • How many should each salesperson accomplish each month?
  • What tools do you have available to assist them in this step of the process?

Resolve each of these questions, and you have the basics for a two-hour training session to bring people up to a level of competency on the first step. Now, onto the second step, third step, and so forth until every salesperson has been trained and equipped for every step of the process.

Then, you are ready for step three.

C. Develop some tracking tools.

Understanding that the power is in the process, your job now is to track the progress of each salesperson, or each part of the system, as your company works the process.

You don’t need to track every step in the process, just those that are essential: the Essential Events. An essential event is a key step in the process that cannot be skipped. The event must happen or the process will not be complete.

Let’s look at our first sales process and select three essential events:

  1. Step two: Meet and engage a decision maker.
  2. Step five: Present a proposal
  3. Step seven: Close the deal.

How can we measure each of these? The last is easy. When we see a Purchase Order from someone who was not previously a customer, we know the salesperson has completed step seven. So, we arrange with our IT guy to deliver a weekly report of “Purchase Orders from new accounts.” That’s easy.

Now, what about the other two? After some deliberation, we come to the conclusion that they must be reported by the salesperson. So, you create an email-able form, that asks each salesperson, on Friday, to indicate the name of the individual and company of the prospects they met for the first time that week. Also on the form is a place to indicate the number of times this week they made a proposal to a prospect.

They fill it out and email it in every Friday. Or, if you are using a CRM system, you just run the report from their call reports. Regardless, every Monday morning, you review the company-wide implementation of your sales process.

Which now brings you to the final step.

D. Review and refine the process and the execution of them regularly.

At the end of every month, you review your measurements and draw some conclusions. Which steps of the process went smoothly last month? Which didn’t go as predicted? Where do you need to focus your time and efforts?

For example, let’s say you discover that your sales force of one inside and six field salespeople had only 10 first meetings with decision makers in prospect accounts. Your goal was 20. Clearly there is a problem implementing that piece of the process. You’ll never acquire the number of new customers that you want if you don’t make enough initial contacts.

So, at this month’s sales meeting, you discuss the issue and discover that your salespeople are having trouble making appointments to see prospects. You now hone in on that issue and brainstorm ways to overcome it. You select one to implement: You are going to deliver, by FedEx, a hand-written request from the salesperson for a meeting.

You implement this refinement, and watch the numbers. Next month, you direct your attention to that aspect of the process which most loudly calls for your intervention.

You are now deeply involved in the never-ending process of refining the execution of your sales process. And the power is in the process.


About the Author

Practical Wisdom Blog by Dave Kahle

Dave Kahle offers a variety of resources that can help your business stay competitive in changing times. 

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THE 80/20 RULE OF ACTIVE LISTENING

THE 80/20 RULE OF ACTIVE LISTENING

Don’t you just love all of those 80/20 rules? It seems like you can find them in any area of human endeavor. (My favorite is in that in any organization, 20% of the people do 80% of the work.) In sales, there are several applications of the 80/20 rule, but the one I want to address today is the 80/20 rule of listening during a sales call.

The problem with most sales calls is that the sales rep just won’t be quiet and listen to the customer. Ineffective sales reps have deluded themselves by the notion that if they just keep talking about how wonderful the product is and how great the deal is, the customer will see the light and sign on the dotted line. Unfortunately, this attitude ignores a couple of important sales principles: 1) customers usually only buy a product if they are convinced it will meet an important need in their lives, and 2) sales reps will never discover what the customer’s needs are if they spend all their time talking. In order to sell, sales reps first need to learn how to listen; specifically, they need to learn how to practice active listening.

The most important principle of active listening is to concentrate all your attention and energy on the task of listening to and understanding what is being said to you. The 80/20 rule of active listening says that in any sales conversation the sales rep should spend 80% of the time listening and only 20% of the time talking. In the vast majority of cases, the customer doesn’t want to know what you think, he wants to tell you what he thinks, how he feels and what he needs. The more you talk, and the more you concentrate on thinking about what you are going to say next (instead of fully listening to the customer) the more likely you are to miss important information or clues that you could use to truly help him. As a result, you may offer the customer a solution that makes sense to you but not to him. You may miss the opportunity for an important sale. You may even end up offending the customer and losing him for good. It is imperative that you stay fully engaged in listening to him and gaining a complete understanding of the meaning of his message to you, in order to effectively respond to his needs.

Sharpen Your Active Listening Skills

Active listening is nothing more than a conscious commitment to focus your attention on your customer instead of on your self or your surroundings. This begins by adopting the goal of actively listening and paying attention to everything the customer is saying (even if you thing she is a nattering old biddy that is just wasting your time.) Listening is the only way to learn the important things you will need later in order to match the customer’s needs with the right solution. Block out every distraction and focus all your concentration on trying to understand what this person really values, what she really wants, what she really needs, and what you can offer her that she will truly value. If nothing else, remind yourself that the ability to meet your quota for this month may be connected to your ability to maximize the profitability of this call!

If you are committed to the goal of active listening, then there is an easy-to-learn skill that can significantly improve your effectiveness as a listener. It is referred to as reflecting or mirroring, and it simply means to listen carefully and then repeat back to the customer whatever it is that he just said to you, more or less word-for-word (it doesn’t have to be perfect). The value of mirroring is that the only way you can listen intently enough to retain such detailed information is to block out everything else. Mirroring automatically neutralizes most distractions. It works like this:

Customer: We really need to find a different source for sodium hydroxide. It is a key component in practically every product we make, and we have been using the same supplier for years, thinking that a strong relationship would guarantee a consistent source. But lately, they have just been taking us for granted. They keep raising the price and hitting us with extra fees on top of that. They are also starting to limit the size of our order unless we commit to big, long-term contracts. The worst part is that we rarely ever get a personal contact from the sales rep anymore. I feel like they are gouging us and then ignoring us because they think they can get away with it.

There was a lot of information there, and it is all important. How can you make sure you will capture it all? It starts with mirroring and it goes like this:

Sales rep: Let me make sure I understand exactly what you are saying. It is very important to you to have a dependable source for sodium hydroxide, because it goes into everything you make. You thought you had that supply locked in through a long-time relationship with your current supplier, but lately they have been taking advantage of the relationship by ignoring you and gouging you. Did I get that right?

In mirroring, you start out by saying, “Let me make sure I understand exactly (what you are saying, what your situation is, what has been happening, what you are looking for, etc.). Then just reflect back to the customer the essence of what he said to you and close with some version of “Did I get that right?” He will either say yes (and probably continue to explain his situation in even more detail), or he will say no, and go back and clarify what you missed. Be sure and also reflect back to him whatever clarification he makes to you, so you both stay on the same page. Mirroring keeps you listening, and leaves you very little time or opportunity for getting distracted.

Now all you have to do is summarize the customer’s need in one simple statement, like so: It sounds to me like you are not only looking for a dependable source of sodium hydroxide, but you also need it provided at a fair price by someone who will take the time to listen to you and work with you as a valued partner instead of viewing you as a paycheck. Am I right about that?

Now, you are ready to sell the customer something he is ready to buy.

Author:

By James A. Baker
Founder
Baker Communications

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Proven Strategies to Work with More Buyers in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

Proven Strategies to Work with More Buyers in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

city at sunriseThe investment segment of the commercial property market can be very lucrative and rewarding for brokers and agents. There will always be investors seeking to acquire, improve, and dispose of commercial, retail, or industrial assets.  (NB – you can get more client and investor tips in Commercial Real Estate Snapshot right here)

If this is an attractive part of the property market for you, then target the right people.  It is necessary to work closely with several investors to understand their focus, targets, and their challenges from a property perspective.  Get closer to the people so you can offer the specialised services that they require.

Business Momentum

The essential idea here is that you can achieve a good degree of momentum as an agent or a broker in your property market through working with investors and local property owners. As they seek to change or improve their assets or portfolio over time, you can be the solution and provide the specialist services to help them. Specialisation in a property type and specific location is a key to the process.  How do you rank on those assessments?

Before going too much further here, it can be said that you can work as a buyer’s agent, in direct contrast to the typical seller’s agent approach. Make your choices in commercial real estate and specialise; know who your clients are by category and location.

 

Your Client Focus

It is time to focus on buyers of property as clients.  Here are some ideas below to help you work with more local property buyers and in doing so provide expert opinion and assistance:

  1. Location specific – get to know the properties and owners of assets in prime precincts and desirable locations. It is far easier to generate good quality sales activity from a specific and deep concentration into the prime property precincts. Those agents that spread their efforts too far usually fail to convert the business. There are just too many things to understand when it comes to prices, rents, supply, and demand.
  2. Local area zoning – get copies of the local development plan so you understand where the best zones may be for longer term investment and or development opportunity. Focus your prospecting into those prime zoning precincts.
  3. Passing income and property values – when you understand the levels of market rental in a location and the passing rents for a property, you can relate those numbers to the yield expectations or capitalisation rate for the area. The question will then be, is the property comparable to the expectations of local property investors and market in general? How does the subject property compare to the prevailing market conditions?
  4. Tenancy mix – when you are working for investors as buyers of investment property, the tenancy mix will be critical to the future of the asset and the cash flow. The tenancy mix therefore needs to be investigated and reviewed comprehensively. The best way to do that is to inspect the property physically, and then review all the lease documentation. Go deeply into each lease given that the separate terms and conditions can impact the property cash flow and the lease occupancy. Some leases will be stronger than others when it comes to property investment. You need to see the differences.

So, there are some things that you can investigate here as part of working as a broker or an agent for local property investors in the purchasing process.

Be aware of the ‘industry averages’ when it comes to the different property types of office, industrial, and retail. Also, be aware of the averages that apply to the precinct and the classifications or ages of the assets.

When you know these numbers, it gets a lot easier when it comes to you working with commercial and retail real estate buyers.  Your commercial real estate listing pitch and or negotiations can be based around provable facts and numbers.

Authored By:

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The 5 Pillars Of Real Estate Agent Success!

The 5 Pillars Of Real Estate Agent Success!

How To Prepare For Success As An Agent – Every Tool You Need For Leads, Listings & Sales

Success is nothing more than a well thought out plan. The key to success as an agent is to have an understanding of the business. However for most agents they lack the basic knowledge required to create their success plan.

The purpose of this real estate training article is to outline the major areas you must develop to experience success as an agent.

The 5 Pillars Of Real Estate Success
1. Lead Marketing
2. Listing Marketing
3. Referral Marketing
4. Database Marketing
5. Personal Management

You Must Have A Strategy For Each Pillar: Within each of these pillars you must have the tools required to experience results. Allows us to outline what these tools are for each pillar.

1. Lead Marketing:

You need to have a marketing strategy that encourages prospects to want to contact you. However, the contact method CANNOT be only by telephone – since prospects do not like to call salespeople.

Therefore you need to offer a more comfortable lead contact method, such as:

A. Family web sites
B. Landlord web sites
C. Yard Sale web sites
D. Car Sale web sites
E. Home buyer reports
F. Home deals reports

2. Listing Marketing:

How do you get listings this week? How to you maintain a steady stream of listing leads? By using listing tools, such as:

1. Free web sites for For Sale By Owner Marketing
2. CMA web site
3. Listing report web site
4. Sold report web site
5. Home Seller report web site

3. Referral Marketing:

Imagine investing your time and money to harvest leads and then to see those leads all fall through the cracks only because you did not communicate with them. That’s exactly what happens with agents and their leads.

  • Research proves you must keep your name in front of leads at least 3 times per month in order for them to do business with you.

You will want to have the following tools within your referral marketing plan. Each tool is used as a reminder to your database of who you are and what you do.

1. Newsletter web site
2. Just Listed web site
3. Just Sold web site
4. Personal Portfolio web site
5. Agent web site
6. Internet homepage for leads and clients

4. Database Marketing:

How do you stay in touch with your leads and clients? You will need a database that allows you to bring all your tools under one roof. That database must be email delivery based. The database must also automatically harvest lead contact information, including their email addresses, and then deposit such information automatically into your database.

5. Personal Management:

Your success will be frustrated if you are not organized for success. Your entire real estate business must be contained inside one easy-to-use software solution that allows you to manage your success.

What Do We Recommend?

Consider our online solution called SREP7 and IDX10.com. Both do all of the above within one solution. You can lease it on a month-to-month basis. Just visit this site to learn more:

http://www.leadsthisweek.com

http://www.idx10.com

Real Estate Training Article Summary

Success can only be realized by understanding what you must do to achieve success. Then you need to support that understanding with the right tools to get the job done. The last ingredients of success are diligence and patience. And only you can supply these critical success tools to your business.

Author:

Randy Roussie

 

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Commercial Real Estate Brokerage – Help the Client See and Use Your Valuable Services

Commercial Real Estate Brokerage – Help the Client See and Use Your Valuable Services

When it comes to pitching and presenting your real estate services to a new client, you have to tap into the real value that your services provide to the property, the clients investment situation, and any challenges that they may have.  Look for the issues that need to be resolved, and show the client exactly how you would approach the process professionally and directly.

When you analyse any property presentation, you will see large differences that apply across the competing brokerages given the facts and the ideas evolving from the property market.  Many brokerages will have different ideas and recommendations to make in attracting the interest and the commitment of the client.  Your ideas and your recommendations need to be the best and highly relevant and specific to the client situation.  When you understand the client and the property, you have a better chance of converting the listing.

Property Presentation Facts

Typically, a good property presentation will be structured around the following facts and ideas:

  • Market conditions – The prevailing market conditions should be comprehensively assessed so that they can be quoted and referred to in the proposal document. Check out all of the competing properties locally so that you can show the client exactly how their property is positioned in comparison to others.  The comparison should cover price, improvements, marketing strategy, time on market, and the targeted tenant or buyer as the case may be.  From the comparison, certain strategies can be made and related back to the specific target audience that you are trying to attract.
  • Marketing initiatives – There are many marketing alternatives and initiatives to be used when it comes to property promotion today. Look at the combination of marketing to be applied to the listing and provide the client with three alternatives both in media choices and pricing.  Many clients prefer to have a few decisions to consider when it comes to property marketing and thereby brokerage choice.  The best proposals presented to clients will have specific market observations and a few marketing choices for the client to consider in this way.
  • Price and or rental – Many clients are biased towards the end result that they believe can or should be achieved in a timely way. They want to know that they can attract the best price or rental in the property market given the prevailing market conditions; you will need to talk about the prevailing market conditions and how they will impact the property listing in today’s terms.  It is your job to show the client how you are the best agent to achieve a positive result, and show them the marketing stages and strategies that you believe should apply to the promotional process, the inspections, and the negotiation.

The message here is that you can really drill down into the facts and the issues surrounding any commercial property listing and promotional activity.  You can show the client that you are the best agent for the job in today’s property market, providing you do the research and understand the listing in a comprehensive way.

Resolve Their Property Challenges

Show the prospective client the value and professional services that you bring to the promotional process, and how you will be resolving the property challenge in a specific and timely way.  Be specific and direct when it comes to marketing initiatives and attracting the target audience.

There are reasons behind the clients need to sell or lease their asset.  Delve into those reasons and ask plenty of questions.  Identify the reasons and then drill down into the solutions that you would provide differently and directly when compared to your competing agents.

Your solutions should be quite specific and direct in today’s market terms.  Show the client that you are a valuable addition to their property and its marketing requirement.  That’s what top agents do all the time.

Commercial Real Estate Training

John Highman

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