Category Archives: Sales Strategies

Strategically placing your company in a position where you can wheel and deal with the competitors will give you an edge in the market. As all skilled business owners know, the one last thing that you should give up in the marketing competition is the one that gives you the advantage. Never let anyone take your ace in the hole.

Employing sales strategies could give the edge that you need. When you have a good sales strategy, you can compete in more market and experience less strain than your competitors. A good entrepreneur could set up sales strategies based on how the market trends move. You should never be afraid to think out of the box and come up with creative sales strategies.

business awards

How Entering a Business Awards Program Can Help You and Your Business

One creative way to get some stars under your business’ belt is to enter an awards program.

Immersing yourself in the process of a business awards program, is like hitting two birds with one stone. First, you get to rediscover yourself and what makes you tick as a business owner.  Second, you also let everyone – particularly the panel, sponsors, potential clients, and the entire industry that you’re there, and you’ve got the credentials to compete!

Here’s how participation in an awards program can benefit you.

The Application Process

Getting involved in the application process can make you stop and think as to your and your business’ mission. Being immersed in the application process allows you to do a little bit of soul-searching as to why you’re doing what you’re doing. It also allows you to have a look-back on your milestones and achievements.

Justifying your Results

Making your business accomplishments known, and explaining how you’ve made them possible can be a real uplifting experience. Doing this not only pushes your ability to communicate well as a business owner to the limit, but it also allows you to clearly communicate your business directions to a professional and scrutinizing audience. The experience of justifying business results in front of a panel makes you realize a lot of things about yourself and your business’ achievements. This experience of being put on the spot is invaluable when it comes to interactions with your business’ stakeholders.

Presenting the Financials

Closely studying and scrutinizing your financials can give you a deeper understanding of your performance coming from a monetary perspective. This experience is invaluable in crafting your business plan if you ever plan to go to a financial institution or in getting potential business investors.

Speaking in Front or Experts

Speaking in front of a crowd of business experts, professionals, and a panel of judges can be quite an exhilarating experience. It is the time when you either stand  up and be heard or forever shut up. Being in a situation where you know that every aspect of your business is scrutinized can nothing but only build up your confidence and character. It can be an interview wherein every answer feels like your life depended on it – a mind-blowing experience indeed!

Even if you just try filing your application, or even if you don’t “win,” just going through the application process can be a life-changing experience. Applying for a business awards program and having your application accepted can make you feel like as if you’ve already won the competition. Going through the different stages of selection, is already a bonus. Winning the award is just the cherry on top.

olden sales

Three Rules for Selling in Tough Times

In a recent interview with sales guru Neil Rackham, he tells us about three rules for selling in tough times. In this interview Neil points out that these three rules stems from  studying previous recessions and trying to work out what the successful players have done.

Rule Number 1: Avoid Chasing After Too Many Things

In times of economic anxiety, chasing after too many things is the number one mistake that business owners make. In times of uncertainty, our instinct for survival naturally takes over and we begin to get ‘whatever comes our way.’

Neil Rackham states one very important rule of thumb during tough times: “Don’t chase bad business.”  He further stressed his point by adding, “If you won’t chase a business in good times, never ever chase it in bad times.”

Winners instead decide on which pieces of business are most important to get and puts more effort into them. Putting double the effort into a half-opportunity will give you better return than spreading everything thin across all opportunities.

During tough times it is important to keep your focus sharp and over-deliver to your identified market.

Rule Number 2: Never get into Early Negotiations

Yes, it is true that-times are hard; therefore it’s always easy to fall into the trap  of getting into negotiations too early.

In stressing this point, Neil explains the difference between selling and negotiation. According to him, “When you’re selling, you’re not giving anything away; when you’re negotiating, you’re giving things away to get business.”

In uncertain times, anxiety pretty much causes us to start giving things away due to a feeling of desperation. One thing to take important note of is that potential customers can sense this desperation. Emitting these vibes can reduce your chance of getting the business; and what’s worse is that you might even whet the customer’s appetite to get more and more concessions.

Customers  can sense this desperation and will try to push you over the limit once they see that you’re willing to negotiate at the initial meet.

Rule Number 3: Make the Customer Feel Safe

The most common misconception is that during a recession, most people think that customers are price-sensitive. This is not so. Studies have shown that customers would rather pay more and go with a safe alternative than go with a cheaper, less-stable alternative.

To prove this point, you can ask yourself this question: “When times are hard, and you’re willing to make a big purchase, would you go for the safe option or the cheaper option?”

As per the study of Neil and his group, they’ve  found out that eighty percent of people would always go for the ‘safe’ option. With this in mind, your challenge now, as a business owner,  is that you would need to make yourself appear to be the most reliable, and the safest option to your prospects.


Double your Sales with These Selling Tips

Sales are usually measured in terms of conversion. As a business owner, it is always a good idea to  keep track of your conversion rate; you might even notice an increase in sales performance from your staff just by monitoring it.

In order to calculate your business’ conversation rate, you just need to have this very simple formula in mind: conversion rate equals your total sales divided by your total enquires or presentations. With this formula for defining selling success now at play, here are some tips on how you can improve your business’ sales conversion.

Actively Listen to your Customers

Do you become defensive when a prospective customer says something about your product or service that you don’t like? If being defensive is always your initial reaction when it comes to negative feedback, then you definitely need to improve your listening skills. Active listening requires processing the speaker’s message on both the content and context level. It means that you would need to focus on what was said and how it was said. Moreover, you should always look at opportunities for connection and start asking questions when things are unclear. Likewise, active listening also entails you knowing exactly when to paraphrase, when to be silent, or when to give verbal nods.

Build Rapport with Your Customers

Ever had that experience of watching two friends converse and talk about the same topic? To add to that, both of them basically sound alike, use the same word choices, and to a certain extent, also finish each other’s sentences. If you’ve experienced this scene before then you’ve just witnessed how rapport works between two people. When people are in rapport, they naturally ‘match and mirror’ each other. As a business owner, building rapport with your customers is a way of telling them that you are like them. It is a known fact that customers only buy from people that they like and trust; pretty much people who are like them.

Ask Effective Probing Questions

One of the best and fastest ways to find out the needs of your customers immediately is through effective probing. Probing entails asking the right questions in a logical manner to ensure that you get the right details in order to match a need with a product or service.

In asking effective probing questions, there are two things that you should always remember. First, ask  questions that are non-threatening. Second, once a customer answers a question, ask follow-up questions based on what they’ve answered. Once you’ve effectively probed and found out a customer’s need, most of the time, these customers are already sold once you’re done asking questions.

Simplify Your Pricing Schemes

Many business owners already experience apprehensions once the question of price comes in. In discussing process with your customers, always make sure that you get to simplify your packages. Based on your probing, you should already have at least two options available for the customers.  It wouldn’t be wise to overwhelm a customer with options at this point of the negotiation.

Don’t forget to Close!

A lot of sales get lost because no one actually asked for it. Don’t forget to close the sale. An example of a closing questions is, “Which would you prefer option one or option two?” Another very effective closing question is “When do you want it delivered?” Also, when closing the sale always remember to give the customer a little bit of room to think about it or consider his or her options.

Handle Objections

For most business owners, objections signal that you’ve lost the interest of a customer; or even worse is that some give up and even get defensive. Objections are hidden treasures in themselves. Always listen to objections carefully as sometimes they are excuses; but most of the time they are problems that clients want to address. In handling objections, make sure to answer questions with confidence, and re-assure the customer that it is your product or service that will suit their needs. Don’t forget to ask for the sale again. You’ll find out that handling an objection effectively will result to more sales and even a higher level of confidence from the customer.


Recognizing Buying Signals will Help you Close those Sales

Before we start, I just wanted everyone to know that I started my career as a used car salesman. I don’t want to cause any panic as I know that people like me have had a bad reputation when it comes to selling. But trust me, I wasn’t that stereotypical car salesman who’s everyone’s all too familiar with.

This was almost about two decades ago, but during this stint at selling used cars, I happened to pick up a few things that helped me throughout my selling career. The valuable lesson that I learned from that experience was that you always have to mindful of buying signals from your customers.

When your prospective customer is close to making a purchase, he or she may demonstrate these buying signals. Buying signals, therefore, are signs that the sale is ‘ripe for the taking.’ Let me share some examples of buying signals; so that you too, can benefit from identifying them, and effectively closing those sales.

The Customer is Visualizing Himself or Herself Using the Product

As a car salesman, I’ve experienced visual statements from customers such as : “I think my friends would love the color” or “I can just imagine seeing the kids sitting comfortably at the backseat on one of our monthly visits to their grandma, about an hour’s drive from home.”

The Customer Has You Go Over the Terms Again

This can come in the form of having to repeat some terms and conditions that were just tackled a few minutes ago or the customer requesting a breakdown of all the fees.

The Customer Tries to Push The Limits

Questions that try to circumvent your company’s standard operating procedures are good indicators that the customer is ready to buy. Most of the time, these attempts are just indicators of ‘pre-sales playfulness’ on the customer’s part. In these instances, the customer is just trying to test you if you can break a few rules in order to get a much better deal.

The Customer Talks About Money

If your potential customer claims that your price is too much; more often than not, this is a sign that he or she is almost ready to buy . The only thing that you need to do is to figure out a way on how to reposition your product to be more convincing when it comes to value-add.

Timing the Close Correctly

When the discussion already changes to timelines, then you’re already set. This is an indication that the customer has already considered taking the product or service and is already planning his or her activities around the product.  What’s more is that once you hear the magic question, “So, what’s the next step?” it pretty much tells you that you’ve got the customer hooked and the deal is sealed.


Sales Forecasts

In every business, sales forecasting is as important as market strategy planning. Through this, you can project your sales revenue and analyze them along with market trends and assessments. However, having no available data is as hard as seeking investors.  But wait, you can still do certain things to make it work. Validating sales forecast will affect every feature of your institution so you better consider doing some of the things below for validation of your sales target.

Counting actual sales be it a single customer involved with just a small amount will be helpful enough. Every piece of your sales is important because eventually, this will turn into a profitable investment with your stockholders combined. Don’t underestimate a minor contribution. Successful businesses always start with the hard time looking for money and investors.

Potential big-time investors could count as a worthy validation of your sales forecast.  Early investments will help you to gradually climb up the market trends.

Demographic marketing profiles shows actuality of your sales. Consider totalling your potential customers and their possible amount of investments. You have to get the upper marketing variables.

Breakdown your forecast into different parts of the market composition. Don’t go with a block of general information. This will just confuse you and won’t help you validate your forecast, at all. For example, if you are forecasting your cafeteria business, break it down to your foodstuffs, drinks, ingredients added, employers, number of visitors, peak hours for the customers, number of customers daily, weekly and other demographics to help you create a positive validation.

Remember market limitations in dealing with your customers. Don’t go beyond the limits of forecasting your sales revenue. Your deals will get compromised if you do so.

Pattern you forecasts to previous business data and situations that exhibit the same market trends. You may have it similar with existing sales strategies on products or services that you are offering. But make sure that you’ll form it along with the successful strategies that your company has made before.

Don’t act like there are no competitors because it won’t be believable.  Other business institutions aren’t just your competitors. You may be the sole business on your place or field of market but take note of your resources and investors. You should be kept updated on different market approaches. What you got used to ten years ago might not be very effective or practical this time.

Don’t merely expect your future from the past because as mentioned earlier, you should have updates.  You may use your history of data as a basis to have wild guesses and intellectual approach on your sales. You must exhaust your analytical thinking and gather as much data as you can. But on top of this, you have to be accurate and realistic.

Regularly evaluate your forecasts with no fail. It’s because a missing one step of the business process might hinder you towards the success of validating your forecasts. Your assumptions must be well taken and keep track of the certain changes that occurred through time.


Negotiation Skills are the Keys to any Business Deal

Negotiation will always be a required skill for business owners. Negotiation not only involves closing the deal, but also coming up with a desirable situation for both parties. The ideal result in any negotiation is to have an agreement where both parties can get the best results. Here are nine suggestions that you can employ in order to make your negotiation skills work for you.

1.  Know your product very well

It’s your product and you should be the expert. Customers are coming to you under the perception that you have what they need. As a business owner, your job now is to ensure that your clients fully understand what it is that you’re offering, and how they would benefit from your product or service. Likewise, if a client is giving you a low-ball offer, knowing the ins-and-outs of your product can come into play. Knowing your product’s features, advantages, and benefits like the back of your hand can pretty much allow you to re-negotiate the terms and make the customer realize that the product or service deserves more than what they’re initially offering.

2. Make sure to Communicate effectively

Negotiation, very much like any form of communication, is a two-way street. In negotiating, you always need to make sure that you communicate with the other party effectively. You can do this by actively listening to what the other party is saying, then saying your piece, then repeating the process until an agreement is reached. One major no-no in communicating is when you talk-over the other party. Make sure to only talk when it’s your turn, ask questions when you need clarification, and paraphrase your customer’s statements when necessary. Doing so will avoid any miscommunication.

3. Don’t Trade in Your Values just to Make a Quick Buck

People respect those who stand by their principles. And believe me, there will be times when your personal integrity will be put to the test when doing business deals. Stay true to your ideals and you will be respected by your clients.

4. Avoid Low Margin Offers

Low margin offers may look good initially. It’s easy to overlook contracts with minimal profit because it is safe to say that at least you’re still earning; but think of the long term effects. Contracts with low margins eventually cost more in the long run. You might not realize it but, your investment , especially  time, sometimes cost more than the contract’s worth in the long run.

5. Don’t take the First Offer

It is always given that during negotiations, the customer will always start at the lowest possible rate or price for your service. Always keep in mind that your client’s agenda is to get the best possible service or product at the lowest possible rate. As a business owner, it is your job to make sure that you also get what your service or product is worth. Being amenable to the first offer might strip you of any potential of higher revenue.

6.  Actions Speak Louder than Words

As a business owner, you also need to have the knack of reading your customer’s actions. Even though your customers may not explicitly say it, but you can always gauge where you are when it comes to the customer’s list. Some good body language from the customers are quick return calls, strict adherence to appointments, and getting back to you at the time they had promised.

7. Be Consistent

Like in any other negotiation, consistency is always the key. If you used certain formats for a letter, email or presentation, always remember to stick to that format during the entire process. Being consistent, even in the smallest of details, tell your customers that your product or service is also consistent when it comes to quality.

8. Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They’ve Hatched

We’re all too familiar with this expression. There are a lot of things, foreseen and unforeseen, that can happen during any negotiation. Only celebrate your success in closing the deal once you’ve already put your mark on that contract.

9. Always follow the Process

Don’t try to circumvent the negotiation process by doing some things that are ‘under the table.’ Your customer, or his/her representative, are bound by procedures; and so are you. Engaging in agreements not found in any company policy or work contract might not only lose you the deal, but it might also earn you years in the slammer as well.



Withholding Information is a Selling Strategy Gone Wrong

It is understandable if you exert great amount of effort to protect your knowledge about your industry. It is however another matter to employ a selling strategy by withholding information from your clients both potential and current.

I once worked as a marketing manager for an insurance company.  It was my job to oversee people who make a living in selling insurance policies. I would say it was a great learning experience for me, as this was the time when agents are pushed to their limits in coming up with workable strategies to effectively sell insurance policies. I remember that we used to have a strategy before that most agents know by heart.  They must withhold relevant further information about the business until they were able to secure a personal meeting with the potential client, and will have to disclose additional facts only when necessary. This was years before, and I just had a recent experience that exactly replicates this untoward principle.  I browsed the web searching for a travel agency to help me out with my planned holiday abroad. I found one that really got my attention because of its impeccable website arrangement and presentation. At first glance it may seem to posses all the necessary essentials of a great travel agency except for one important fact; it seems to withhold key information that could have fully convinced me to avail of its services. I sent a message inquiry via email but received no reply. The next thing I did was call the business owner. It was then that I found out that though she is willing to supply seemingly less important details, she will not go any further without first receiving a deposit fee for the itinerary. I had this impression that while their business is selling their services, they are also selling their information. She made it a point that she will not discuss any further without me paying first. That really got me upset and made me decide not to pursue any possible negotiation. I really would have loved to avail of their services because they seem very good in what they do, but I do not feel comfortable paying for something that I could readily get for free.

We are now in an information age. Facts abound in the web. If you are withholding information from your prospects, there’s a good chance you will lose them to your competitors who are freely providing them vital information.

Maybe it’s now time to change your selling strategy, start sharing information to your prospective clients and gain their loyalty.


twopeople negotiating

The Art of Negotiation: Nine tips to get you that Win-win Situation

As a business owner, negotiation will always be part of your repertoire of skills. This involves not only you sealing the deal, but also trying to forge a win-win situation in any negotiation. Your objective is to have a deal wherein both parties get the optimal results of the contract. Let me share some sure-fire tips that will help you manage those situations.

1. Know the ins-and-outs of your Product or Service

Always remember that when it comes to your product, you’re the expert. These customers approached you because you have something that they think they want or need.  It’s your task to make sure that customers know what you’re offering, and your product actually matches what your client is looking for. Moreover, if a potential client is trying to offer a price that’s lower than what the product or service deserves, knowing your product well has its advantages. Knowing your product’s features, advantages, and benefits can drastically turn the table around once you’ve answered your customer’s ultimate question: “What’s in it for me?”

2. Engage in Effective Communication

Negotiation, like any type of communication, is give and take. I’m sure you’ve heard of that old saying, “Communication is a two way street.” This is true, especially in negotiations. Like in any other conversation or exchange, one party speaks while another actively listens then replies. The same process is repeated until an agreement is reached. In order for communication to be effective, there always has to be one speaker and one listener at a time. With that said, take note to only speak when it’s your turn; don’t talk-over your customer. Moreover, when it’s your turn to listen, listen actively – paraphrase when needed. Ask questions if things are unclear.

3. Stand your Ground

If certain values or principles that you hold dear are being threatened, hold firm to them.  These things are much more important to you than money. Believe me, clients will appreciate you for standing your ground and will respect you for that. Everyone despises ‘sell-outs;’ and that’s what you don’t want to become in front of a potential client.

4. Caution: Low Margin

If you know you’re getting the shorter end of the deal, cut your losses right away. Treat contracts that offer very low margins with utmost caution. Though it might appear that you’re making a little, but the extra effort and cost will eventually pile up and bite you in the long-run. Know when to let a contract go. You’re running a business, not a non-profit organization.

5. Don’t Grab the First Thing you See on the Table

When starting negotiations, your clientele will start at the lowest end of the cost spectrum, most of the time. Always remember that their agenda is to get the best possible deal at the lowest possible price. It is then your responsibility to re-position your product or service to justify moving the stakes up to the higher end of the spectrum. Saying ‘yes’ to a client’s first offer might deprive you of potential higher revenue. Also, don’t forget to pay attention to the fine print.

6.  Learn to Read Between the Lines

Learn to read your potential customer’s body language. Though they may not directly say it, you can still gauge where you are when it comes to the customer’s favor. Some positive signs that you are being highly considered are quick return calls, appointments are strictly kept, and  they get back to you as they had promised.

7. Consistency is the Key

Consistency is the key to any business negotiation. If you had used a certain format for a business letter or presentation; stick to that structure during the entire negotiation process. Being consistent in even the smallest of details projects that your product or service quality will stay as consistent as your letter or presentation format.

8. Don’t Jump the Gun

Does the idiomatic expression, “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched,” sound familiar? A lot of things can happen during (especially the wait time) negotiations. Only include your contract in your financial projections once you’ve actually signed the deal.

9. Take no Shortcuts

The representative you’re talking to are bound by some rules and regulations, and so are you. Don’t try to pull a fast one by doing deals that are outside standard operating procedures (SOP).Engaging in such practice doesn’t only count against your integrity, but might also rake you in some points when it comes to serving years in the slammer.


Winning Strategies For Sales Success

Conversion rate gauges someone’s sales’ success. You will find it helpful to know how much your sales is improving by tracking it through conversion.

Total Sales ÷ Total enquiries or presentations = conversion rate (%)

By being able to know how conversion rate works, you may now learn how to start improving them

1. Improve your listening skills

Sales is about listening just as much as it is about speaking. When a prospect speaks, negative or affirmative, you may only need to give your time to listen to them air their views and solemn voice. Great listening skill allows you to pick out the words and the passion that goes with it. It affords you to time and polish your responses for the benefit of your prospects. When you learn to listen, and listen well indeed, you will start seeing your conversion rate hit the mark.

2. Understand body language

Whether you believe it or not, your body language speaks volumes about you. Your prospects may not only listen to what you say, they may also observe how your body moves. With your body language, you will be able to create connections with your prospects with far better effect than all the other factors. Body language creates an image of being one and the same with your prospects and consequently earns trust. And trust makes sales!

3. Think about your questions

Formulate your questions with the sole intent of providing help to your prospects. When you ask your questions, you already must have established and created a need, a need that your product could properly address. So ask questions that could generate informative answers. Make sure to make follow up questions on their answers of the previous question. And never allow yourself to be caught off guard by making preparations for every sales call. By asking the right questions, you already might have convinced your prospects even before you introduce your products and services.

4. Price it well

When you are already in the phase where price is being discussed, keep things simple or better yet simpler. Improve your chance of success by trimming down the price options for your prospects.

5. Ask for the sale!

You must know when to make the sale or ask for it. A good salesman knows the right time to say the magic word and when to exactly just wait for the response. Do not talk too much though; you might inadvertently scare off the prospect. Ask for the sale and then spend your time waiting for the nod.

6. Learn how to handle objections

Weigh your options when you hear objections. Do not be hasty in your responses. Listen first before you react and you will certainly turn the event into your own advantage. If you could take a grip on your bearing, and then you will be able to answer the objections with clarity and poise, you might just win those people over to your side and make the sale.

You already learned the steps, now it’s time to put these to test. Do the conversion rate formula and judge for yourself whether indeed these ideas work.