Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Do you know what "Little Sales Theater" means and what it is used for?

"Role Play" Sales Training
It is always good to take from life all the lessons that it can give us and, in this case, the examples are abundant and in many areas, both on the personal and professional side.

If you have noticed medicine students, for instance, do not practice on living patients. No. They practice with corpses, with people who have died and donated their bodies for research and study purposes.

Why is it done this way? Because it would be really impossible for medicine students to do their practice on living patients. Can you imagine such an awkward situation?: "Sir, let me cut open your chest because we want to take a look inside and see how your heart works."

Would it work? Of course it would not!

Athletes also do the same thing: They spend countless hours practicing their respective activities to make sure they dominate it openly and are fully prepared to play at their best level.

If professional athletes practice for so many hours to be their best, why should not a salesperson do the same?

Student pilots also do the same and when they want to develop their flying skills during very deteriorated weather conditions (heavy rain, storms, low visibility, strong wind gusts, etc.) they do not do it on real airplanes, they do it in simulators.

Again, why is it done this way?

This is done to minimize the risks associated with flying an airplane in very adverse conditions, since there are not only material risks to take into account, but also risk to people’s life as well as lots of damages caused by an airplane crashing into the ground.

Well in sales, it's the same story. We have to do it the same way, if we want to reach the level of real "professional salesmen".

What's the reason behind the use of  the "Little Sales Theater" training?

In a market so competitive as the one we are living in today, in which the opportunities to have a face-to-face appointment with the person making the purchase decision for that important company are very difficult to achieve.

We need to be very well prepared to take advantage of those 15 or 30 minutes that the client will give us and during which we have to capture all their attention, interest and, God permit, convince them that our products and services are the most appropriate option to fulfill their needs.

Therefore those 15 or 30 minutes have to be taken advantage of in such an efficient way, that would it be useful for you that your sales representative is poorly prepared and does not have the necessary skills to do the job right?

Would it serve you that because of that poorly done job, with a client that has taken so much time and effort to arrange the initial meeting with, they finally decide to do business with another company just because you lost your one opportunity?

Is it really worth it to waste your client's time that way, bringing in a poorly prepared salesperson?

Again, of course it is not!

That's why we make use of the "Little Sales Theater" training, because the first thing it offers you is a safe environment in which your salespeople, and perhaps yourself, can practice their sales pitch, can listen to the different questions every customer usually brings up, can correctly identify customer’s objections and learn how to go around them efficiently, in a setting where no unnecessary risk is taken.

During the realization of the "Little Sales Theater" training, which is formally called "Role Playing Sales Training", two people participate: one impersonates your customer and the other is regularly the sales “trainee” or the person willing to master its selling skills.

Usually the sales supervisor or the most senior salesman plays the role of "customer" because he or she is the one who better knows most of the things a  customer can say and do during a normal sales presentation.

And the whole idea you must already have it: During the "Little Sales Theater" training session participants will simulate all the conditions they would go through as if they were making the same presentation in real life, from the initial moments of every sales visit (properly approaching and greeting your customer, maintaining eye contact, and so forth) until the closure of the visit itself, making appropriate commitments, review of achievements, etc.

What are the advantages of taking the "Little Sales Theater" training?

Including in your team’s sales training practicing role-playing, that is, the "Little Sales Theater" allows them to enjoy the following advantages:

  • They can make all the mistakes they want because the person they will be practicing with will surely be an immediate supervisor and their job will be to detect any faults and correct them on the spot.
  • They will be able to increase the difficulty levels of the sales presentation at will, being able then - in simulation mode - to face the most difficult and annoying customers in the world, without this situation generating unnecessary stress.
  • They will be able to perform as many times as they want, without this implying they have to leave the office nor depend on the time their customers might have available. It will only depend on the time the sales manager has available, or perhaps a sales team colleague.
  • They will not waste valuable opportunities, being able to practice in advance all their future sales presentations, especially those scheduled with particularly important or difficult clients.
  • They will arrive at each sales presentation much more prepared and confident, knowing they have been able to review in advance all the questions the client could ask and that they already know the answers they must offer.
  • They will not risk damaging your company’s reputation, or their own, by making poor quality, ineffective or insufficiently prepared sales presentations.

And the most important thing is, of course, that you do not lose money!

It is very simple: Your company does not lose money because it does not waste what could be valuable opportunities to get big and important customers, depending on salespeople who are not deep and conscientiously prepared to make every sales presentation.

Remember that there are no bad employees, but supervisors who do not do their job properly.

And just in case you're wondering at the moment "Why do I have to make so much effort so that my salesmen are well prepared? Are not they supposed to be the ones who want to make money? "

I would like to ask you now: Who is the one who loses with the poor performance of a poorly prepared salesman?

Is it your business or the salesman?

What about all those customers who your "bad" salesman as visited while working for you, and whom he has left with a bad taste in their mouth?

Who was the one who actually ended up losing? Your company or the salesman who already quit?

Picture credit: Elnur / see portfolio

Some additional posts I recommend you to read in this blog that relate to this one:
What Role Should Salespeople Occupy Within Your Company?
Corporate reputation and sales reps’ responsibility.
What Role Should Salespeople Occupy Within Your Company?
How can you professionalize your sales team? Why do you need to do it?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Even If He Isn’t Right, As Long As He Pays, Continues To Be Your Customer.

Unsolicited emails, phone harassment, salespeople who do not want to understand I'm not interested in buying the product they're offering me, customer service representatives who simply recite non-stop a pre-elaborated script without even realizing they're talking to a 12 years old kid, suppliers who dare to tell you they’re losing money working with you, professionals who play with your time as if the only valuable time is theirs, delivery companies whom keep you sitting at your office all day long until they arrive to receive what you are waiting for, without even bothering to call you on the phone to arrange a specific time advance.

Stories like these, many; and I guess the same thing will happen to you.

When you look back at them, you realize there have been plenty of situations in which a company you hired to render a service has suddenly become a deaf entity which only listens to its own reasons and justifications, without even bothering to ask if you are (or are not) happy with the service they are providing you.

It's as if you stopped being interesting from the moment you signed in and became one more of the pile.

And it makes me wonder, is it that all these companies have forgotten that I am the one paying for their bills?

Well, it's not that I pay them all directly from my pocket, rather what truly happens is that me, and many other clients like me, since the day we decided to trust in these companies, started indirectly paying for their expenses and helping them grow with the money we pay them for their services and products.

And it is not otherwise, although it might seem that for these companies is the other way around.

Even if your customer is not right and as long as he pays, you must continue to consider him a customer.

Do you remember the saying "the customer is always right"?

Well, a long time ago it was changed to a different version that simply adapted to a better understanding of the customer-supplier relationship.

We began to say then: "Even if he is not right, he continues to be your client." 

From that moment on, we stopped seeing the customer as someone who had to be right at all times, someone we had to please even in the slightest thing, who could not be argued or disagreed with.

As long as you use their money to pay your company’s bills, you must call them "customers"

We began to consider the client a normal person (company), with their ups and downs, their best and worst days, with whom we had a professional relationship. And based on that relationship, our customer was paying us for our services or products and we were using that money to keep our businesses running.

We understood that, even if our client might take us to the limit of our patience, we could never turn a professional relationship into a personal one and treat our customer with contempt, disrespect, yell at them, smash them against the wall, or anything like that because, at the end of the day, he was the one who was supporting the development of our projects, with the money being paid to us.

And is that companies are not successful or even grow simply because they have wonderful products. Nope. They do grow because their customers provide the support those companies need by buying their "wonderful" products and hiring their services. Not by anything else.

Or when have you seen a company fully running without customers who buy what the company offers?. It doesn’t happen. Does it?

Who generates the reputation of a product or company? Is it the company itself or its clients?

It seems such companies have forgotten the very important role customers play in the life cycle and development of their business. I'm going to take this moment to review those roles with you:

  • First, we already know that it is the customers who keep companies running with the money they pay for products and services they buy. That is understood (at least, I hope you did understand it)
  • Therefore, depending on how long you can keep relationships with your customers alive and kicking, your business will be more or less stable. The specialists call it "customer lifetime value". Look it up on Google so you can see.
  • Customers generate your company, products or service’s reputation when they begin to talk about and comment it among their network, no matter the kind of network it is. If they do it on a positive way, great news for you. If they do it on the negative side, you have a serious problem on the making.

In order for us to understand each other, you should have clear that your project or business is not going anywhere until the following three things happen:

  • First, have customers who buy from you.
  • Second, that those first customers reward you with their confidence and come back to you and buy again.
  • And third, those happy customers recommend you with their peers who can also buy your products or services.

Simple, right?

But, if it is so simple, how is it then that in so many cases companies seem to think they are the center of attention here and not the customer?

It seems they believe their products are really wonderful, when a product is wonderful only because there are people who buy it very often.

Your project or company is not going anywhere without customers who buy what you have to sell.

I really am amazed every time I hear, or am a victim of situations like those I mentioned at the beginning. And it is that, really as a customer, it makes me feel very frustrated to interact with companies that make fun of you on your own face, without caring just a little bit, shameless and with no remorse at all.

But in the end, let us try (as always) to draw a positive lesson from all this.

Then we understood the relationship much deeply and added "as long as he pays"

I hope you have already realized why customers are vital to the development of your business, and that you are also aware of the things that would happen if your customers were not satisfied with what you offer and started to buy from you competitors. You do not want that, do you?

But it is also true that, like all things in life, these relationships have to have a limit, and that limit we set when we added to the phrase "Even if he is not right, he will always be your client," the condition "as long as he pays".

Because it is certainly true every customer is important and you should do your best to keep them happy at all times. Yes. That is definitely true, but ...

In every customer-supplier relationship there must be two winners. Must be a real win-win situation.

We have established the point from which we can say your client loses the right to be the most important part of the relationship and is no longer able to demand from you your best to keep them satisfied. And that point is the moment when the client, stops paying for services and products he gets from you, or the cost of keeping that customer happy is so high that it's no longer worth it.

Yes, because unfortunately, from that moment on there are no longer winner. There are no longer two entities satisfied and the benefits are only being received on your customer’s side: he continues to enjoy your services and products, but is not properly paying for them.

Or, it has been a customer so extremely problematic, that your company will be better off spending that time and effort into serving the rest of your customers base or, better yet, to get new customers.

In this last point I want to make something clear: When you are going to label a customer as "extraordinarily problematic" make sure it is not your own company and the service being offered the reason why your customer is so problematic.

You may realize that, in many cases, the problem is on this side of the table and not on the other one.

Photo Credit: Gustavo Frazao / View Portfolio 

Posts you will like to read on this blog and are related to this one:
¿Can your business exist without customers?
"Til Death Do Us Part" Doesn’t Exist In A Professional Relationship”
Beware With Customer's Tantrums Nowadays

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

D + S: The Two Inevitable Roles That You Assume When You Become an Entrepreneur

Every entrepreneur's dual job: S+D
How many times have you met an entrepreneur like you, who has had a wonderful idea, who has managed to turn it into an interesting product but who, unlike you, has not found a way to make this interesting idea become a profitable product?

And it just happens that in the entrepreneurship world much importance is often given to product development, as if only developing a product with extraordinary quality was reason enough to guarantee the idea will become a profitable business.

In an article posted in this blog a while ago, entitled "Are you an entrepreneur and don’t like selling?" I addressed the same topic, and did the same when I wrote my first book "A Salesman? Me?" - Sales Manual for Entrepreneurs. (As of this moment, only in Spanish)

It has become a recurrent conversation in my routine as a business management consultant: the very important (and inevitable) responsibility every entrepreneur has to engage, to a greater or lesser degree, in the sales management of its project or enterprise.

And you will be asking yourself, "Why is it so?"

Developing a high quality and differentiated product or service is not optional.

The first "D" of this post’s title is well understood by everyone, or at least, those who have decided to become entrepreneurs:  product "Development." Everyone wants to develop the best product / service in the world, with a differentiated value proposal that distinguishes it from the other products existing in the market.

And in such "Development" they concentrate most of their efforts and, generally, of their money too.

It is true that in order to build up your space within the market you must develop a product / service of excellent quality and properly differentiated. Something worth talking about, something you can feel proud of. Of course, that is true.

However it would be sad, at least from my professional point of view, to have an idea that can change the world, a product that can be what people refer to as "top-of-line" and then, due to the limitations that any project may have, you find falling short of your own initial expectations and seeing an abysmal difference between what you first thought of and what you developed at the end.

Of course, I have to say “yes”: Developing a product of extraordinary quality is very, if not extremely important. And although in principle I agree with this way of doing things, I also have to tell you that it is not the most complete approach to the subject..

Again, why?

Businesses depend on the Sales they generate and nothing else.

And that is the second letter appearing on the title of this post: The "S" stands for sales. It's the second role you assume the very same day you decide to turn your wonderful idea into a business proposal from which you and your family can make a living. And maybe it's the most important role you are going to have and one you should never run away from.

Because, even when you can hire a sales agency or an individual to manage the sales area on your business’ behalf, it will always be of your greatest interests to observe how, as the days and months go by, your business’ sales keep growing, ¿ or will it not?

Of course everything works great when sales are on the right track and flow normally. Who would complain at a time like that?

No one complains when the sales go well. Why would they do it, if there is plenty of money to spend?

Who would complain when all is well and there is enough money (and sometimes more than enough) to pay for company’s commitments, and even enough to grow a bit, although not very clear on what kind of growth or in which direction?

However, what would you do, for instance, if the sales agency or the individual you commissioned sales management for your business does not do a good job and your sales start to decline?

What are you going to do then? Quit your project and throw it all away? Of course you will not do such a thing!

But then, what do you do in that case? Obviously the answer would be to look for other alternatives, but the decrease in sales in your business is a very serious problem that you have to solve right away.

And it is precisely here where we all come to accord on that very one point: Who is responsible for solving your business’ sales problems?

The sales agency you hired for, or the person who was doing the job? Or is it your sole and unique responsibility?

Product Development and Sales (D + S): The very essence of your business success.

That is why in my consulting sessions I always emphasize this point, when the topic arises during the conversation: As much as you can delegate tasks to people and companies extraordinarily competent, the one person interested in DEVELOPING the highest quality product possible and with a value added proposal differentiated and appealing, it’s always going to be yourself as the owner and creator of the project.

And after devoting so much effort to develop the product, you are the first person interested in monetizing all those efforts and turning your project into a profitable business. Who wouldn’t be?

And “becoming profitable” only happens when the SALES of your business grow in an orderly and consistent way, regardless if you have hired only a salesperson or a full scale marketing team for that matter.

Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, it is your business, it is your project, your dream.

When people refer to your entrepreneurship being some kind of a child you give birth to, they are referring precisely to this sort of extremely close relationship that is established from the very first minute between your project and your own.

As much as you can find responsible and efficient companies and people on whom to delegate many of the several tasks involved in running a business on a safe and secure way, it will always be your responsibility to ensure that D + S are performing optimally, that your company is developing a product of excellent quality with an added value proposal differentiated, and also has put into motion a sales process sufficiently well structured, planned and executed to generate the best results possible.

Could it be otherwise?

Photo credit: View Portfolio / Robert Kneschke

Post that complement the content of this one which you would like to read:
Are you an entrepreneur and do not like selling?
What Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Sales and Why?
You Need To Update Your Own Personal Processor: From Being A Spectator to Taking A Main Role In Your Play