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By Steve Schmidt, Partner

“If you want to interact effectively with me, to influence me, you first need to understand me.” – Steven Covey

A powerful statement. Simple and eloquent, profound and meaningful.

Taken a step further, we might add that you also need to understand yourself. After all, you can’t really communicate effectively with someone else without first recognizing how you prefer to communicate—and how you may be perceived by that person as a result.

But once you have the foundation, the bigger leap—one that only a few truly master—is to understand and adapt to the person you’re communicating with. That’s where your biggest opportunity lies.

As most of us are keenly (and perhaps, at times, painfully) aware in our relationships outside of work, people view the world through different lenses. This, in turn, affects how they communicate and like to be communicated with. We do our best to work through the communication challenges because, as much as technology has infiltrated everything our daily lives, we still strive for those personal connections.

The same applies in the workplace. New technologies and fads come and go, but being able to understand what your customers value most and then being able to effectively communicate with them from that vantage point is often what differentiates you and your organization from your competition. It’s also what forms the basis of strong, sustainable customer relationships.

A Corporate Executive Board study found that 53% of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience. This supports the notion that perceptions are reality. So an important question for you to think about is this: How are you perceived by those you’re communicating with? Your ability to connect with people certainly weighs on that perception.

And the next question is, are you doing everything you can to build deeper, trust-based relationships?

The Behavior Styles Connection

You probably have some familiarity with the concept of Behavior Styles. It’s literally been around forever. Even Socrates grasped the value of understanding different behavioral approaches as he helped shape Western philosophy and evolved his Socratic method. The Behavior Styles Assessment, which reveals your personal Behavior Style and helps you understand the Behavior Styles of colleagues and customers, gives you a way to create personal chemistry and build rapport with diverse people—fundamental skills in sales, management, personal relationships and everyday life.

Let’s take a closer look at how Behavior Styles can help you strengthen customer relationships and improve your sales effectiveness.

In his classic book The Loyalty Effect, Frederick F. Reichheld says that the best way to move from transactional, rational dialogue to a more meaningful exchange is to focus on creating an emotional bond. When you communicate in such a way that your clients and co-workers feel valued, the outcomes of your conversations will yield better returns.

Easier said than done? Well, with the right level of awareness and commitment, anyone can master the ability to sell, serve and coach others by understanding and adapting to different Behavior Styles. The information you learn about their Behavior Styles can help you shortcut the process of connecting with them in a more personal and meaningful way.

A rule of thumb is to follow the three A’s:

  • Awareness of your personal communication preferences and how you may be perceived by others
  • Alignment of your communication strategy to another’s, once you determine their primary Behavior Style
  • Action, including successfully adapting on the fly as you communicate with others

The Compound Effect of Loyalty

Why should you bother? Ultimately, your ability to communicate effectively with clients and prospects—to move from transactional to emotional conversations—is what can move them from neutral to satisfied to loyal. And once you reach a true “partner” status, that loyalty will compound itself. Your loyal, fully engaged clients are not only willing to spend significantly more wallet share, they’re also the ones who will go to bat for you, becoming your best sources of referrals and new business.

No matter how much technology evolves, sales is a business of relationships. Having meaningful conversations that engage people in a way that they value is always going to be one of your most powerful selling tools. And that means you have to understand their Behavior Style so that you can focus in on what they care about most.

How many of your customers are fully engaged? How might more effective, engaging communication (as defined by the customer) help you achieve both your goals and theirs?

If you’re a leader seeking that competitive advantage, ask yourself this: What am I doing to equip my team to maximize every interaction?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions

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Sales training

Originally contributed as a guest blog on SellingPower.com

By Mike Esterday

If you’re like most sales leaders, you’re constantly hunting for the “secret sauce” of sales success. You’re convinced that, once found, that secret sauce will put your organization over the top – and into the rarefied group of consistently top-performing companies.

Look no further. Chances are good that you already have all the ingredients you need. You’ve just added them to the sauce in the wrong proportions.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association to find out what top-performing companies focus on that’s different from the others. The answers were revealing and, in some cases, surprising.

We surveyed leaders at more than 200 sales organizations. We asked them to rate how a salesperson’s achievement drive – that is, their attitudes, beliefs, and passions – affects their performance. Likewise, we asked the same of them about how a salesperson’s product knowledge and selling skills affect performance.

Here’s what may surprise you: More than 80 percent of the respondents rated achievement drive as being of equal or greater value than product knowledge and selling skills in terms of positively impacting sales performance. However, only a quarter of the respondents said they were very effective in delivering sales training that focuses around achievement drive.

That is a tremendous gap between importance and effectiveness on what is potentially the most important driver of sales success.

Here’s the kicker: Those who said they were effective at focusing sales training on achievement drive reported 20 percent stronger results than everyone else.

What about you? Does your sales training emphasize achievement drive and ignite motivation?

What’s Causing the Gap?

If so many executives recognize the value of achievement drive, then why don’t more companies address it in training?

Well, ostensibly, it’s just plain easier to provide salespeople with product information and techniques on what to say and when – and then manage numbers and activities.

But relative ease is only part of the story. In fact, there are plenty of ways leaders rationalize focusing on skill and product training – even when they agree that attitudes and achievement drive play a bigger role in performance.

Based on our study, here are the top four reasons sales leaders ignore attitude and achievement drive in sales training:

  1. Skills and product training are just easier to deliver and measure.
  2. We expect people to have this already when they’re hired.
  3. The subject matter is too personal for corporate training or coaching.
  4. We’ve never done this type of development in our organization.

This isn’t to say that training on product knowledge and selling skills isn’t important. But it will only take your team (and your organization) so far.

When training goes beyond product knowledge and techniques – when it gets to the motivating attitudes that increase achievement drive – that’s where your competitive edge lies.

Top Performers Focus on These Three Critical Conversations

So, what advice can we take away from the lessons of the top-performing companies in our study?

We learned there are three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals:

  1. The conversation I have with my customers – How will I interact in ways that are seen as valuable by customers? This is where training around selling skills/methodology, account strategy, and product knowledge falls.
  2. The conversation I have with myself – Those moments of reflection, inner belief, and personal values are sometimes seen as “intangibles,” but the impact on performance is quite real. This is where training focused around achievement drive comes into play.
  3. The conversation I have with my coach – One of the key determining factors for growth is coaching. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation – a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that salespeople are having all the time – with themselves.

This holistic approach to development requires ongoing commitment from the top and alignment throughout the organization. But, as our research shows, it can be the turbocharger for your success.

When you think about it, it’s not all that surprising. After all, who among us hasn’t felt the undeniable power of self-belief and self-drive? And who wouldn’t want to work for a company that is committed to developing people in a way that unleashes their inner drive and potential? And, just as important, who wouldn’t want to do business with a company that values each salesperson as a whole person – not just a selling machine?

Take a closer look at your sales training approach. Are you missing any of the key conversations that could be the “secret sauce” of your sales success?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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By Bruce Wedderburn

As a sales leader, you’re there to make a difference—a difference in team performance. You’ve looked at the range of experience on your team and seen multiple opportunities for growth, so you immediately implemented the latest sales and marketing thinking to pave the way for double-digit gains over the next 12 to 24 months. It’s the kind of vision and take-charge leadership that has impressed organizational leadership.

The only problem is, the expected sales gains from your initiatives have been slow to materialize. As the months have progressed, others in the organization have begun expressing doubts about your strategy. Worse still, you’re beginning to have your own doubts.

This isn’t unusual. As organizations look for organic growth in increasingly competitive markets, leaders are searching for the latest technology, the next app, that one competitive strategy that will elevate them above their peers. But despite all of the new advances and approaches, the reality remains: Your salespeople still have to have conversations with customers.

Another sobering reality? More than any other factor, the quantity and quality of those conversations will determine whether or not your organization reaches its sales goals this year.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association, and the findings were illuminating. We learned that there’s not one but three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals. Improving any one of these will increase your team’s productivity. Improve all three and you’re on your way to a breakout year.

Here’s what those conversations are:

  1. The conversation that salespeople have with their customers. Customers have more access to more information than ever before, and that’s driving increased commoditization in your industry. As a result, your customers’ perception of “value” has shifted from what you’re selling to how you’re selling. In other words, your salespeople’s interactions are where the real value is today—the value that will differentiate you from the competition. It’s in these critical conversations that salespeople can move the discussion away from price and begin building the elusive “Trusted Advisor” status in the customer’s mind. Succeeding with this conversation is mostly about your salespeople’s skillset.
  1. The conversation that salespeople have with themselves. These are the conversations that all of us have dozens, if not hundreds, of times each day. We each have a set of inner beliefs about who we are and the level of success we deserve to enjoy. Countless external influences over the course of our lives—parents, friends, relatives, teachers, co-workers, clients, spouses, good experiences, negative ones, highs, lows—have contributed to these beliefs and shaped who we are, our level of confidence and what we say to ourselves about ourselves. For salespeople, this inner talk affects what level of buyer they will call on, how many customer meetings they will have, how they feel about prospecting, how they respond to being coached, their vision for their career, how they handle rejection, how they handle success, whether or not they will improve, and the hundreds of experiences that make up a sales or management career. This all affects a person’s attitude and confidence. Succeeding with this conversation is mostly about the salesperson’s mindset.
  1. The conversation that salespeople have with their coach. Coaching is a key determining factor for growth and one of the great buzzwords of our times. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation—a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that both salespeople and managers are having all the time—with themselves.

What the Pros Know About Success

Professional athletes know that the three S’s— stamina, strength and stretching—are essential for success, and so they constantly work at training and developing all three. Most recreational athletes, on the other hand, work at improving only one or occasionally two of these critical fitness qualities.

In the same way, all three success conversations can and should be constantly developed. Your salespeople’s skillset and mindset can both be improved through training and coaching. And when their skillset and mindset are working together, supported by effective coaching of both, your sales organization will be on the way to new levels of success and satisfaction.

Too many organizations look to external factors such as new technologies and the latest fads for the answers to growth. That’s like a professional tennis player who looks to the latest advances in racquet string technology, cloud-based ball tracking systems and energy-rebounding shoe design while overlooking the importance of improving foot-speed, confidence and fitness.

Without mastering what’s most important, the rest doesn’t matter.

What conversations are your salespeople having?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions

 

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There isn’t a sales person alive today who doesn’t know that they shouldn’t be selling product, but instead should be selling to help meet the needs of their customers.  The problem is that, despite this, customers are still reporting a very low level of value from time spent with sales people. Why the disconnect?

As customers, we’ve all been on the receiving end of one or more of the common selling strategies. Here are a few you’ve probably seen:

  • A product focus is when salespeople spend most of their time showing and talking about their product or service, its features, advantages and benefits. Objective: Help people understand their product or service so that they’ll want to buy it.
  • A transaction focus is used by salespeople whose main goal is to “get people to the yes”-in other words, to agree to buy whatever they’re selling. Objective: Make the sale, whatever it takes.
  • A customer-needs focus is when salespeople go through a discovery process to determine if customers have needs, wants, problems or objectives they want filled, satisfied or solved. Objective: Establish a need before initiating any selling activity.

Thinking back to your experiences as a customer, how did you feel in these different scenarios? Were you bored? On the defensive? Did you learn something about your needs or discover a pressing challenge that you hadn’t even realized existed before? Or did you just want to get off the phone or run for the nearest exit as fast as you could?

With both product- and transaction-focused selling approaches, the salesperson is essentially trying to convince you that this product or this “deal” is so great that you simply must have it. Their success comes down to how effective they are at persuading you to believe their position.

In fact, many salespeople will say they take a customer-needs-focused approach, but their actions say otherwise. You can tell because they’re still falling back on this idea that they need to sway you or influence you to do something (the implication being that it’s something you don’t really want to do). No wonder customers often feel like they need to push back in these situations. It’s basically a battle of wills, one that’s being fought on a simmering ground of doubt and distrust.

With a true customer-needs approach, on the other hand, the salesperson is focused on helping you get a clearer picture of your own situation so that, together, you can identify what the requirements are and how they can best be satisfied. Their success comes down to how effective they are at bringing your true needs to the surface and the overall value they deliver in filling those needs.

Instead of trying to convince you to buy something, these salespeople spend most of their time finding out if you have needs that they can address. No solutions are even offered until your wants or needs have been admitted.

Here’s the kicker: Our research shows that when people sell this way, they can experience a 15 to 30 percent increase in their sales.

To understand why, we have to look at what we know about the art of persuasion: The more we attempt to persuade people, the more they tend to resist us. But the more we attempt to understand them and create value for them, the more they tend to persuade themselves.

What is your focus?

If you’re in sales, one easy way to identify your own central sales focus is to think about how you spend your time when talking to customers.

Do you spend most of your time in the first half of your contact talking about your product or service? Or do you spend most of your time asking questions that focus on the customer’s needs?

In the interview stage of an effective customer-needs-focused selling process, you should be spending at least 80% of the time listening. And when you do talk, it should be mostly in the form of questions and paraphrasing back to customers what they tell you to make sure you understand them. You explore, ask questions and get feedback, and you make no attempt to sell anything until the customer:

  1. admits needs, wants, problems or objectives they want filled, satisfied or solved.
  2. agrees that not only do they have needs but that they are open to solutions.
  3. agrees to talk to you about a solution.
  4. confirms that they can make purchase decisions.

Generally, if they don’t agree to all four of these steps, you probably don’t have a good prospect. Or they aren’t the real decision makers. Or they don’t have a compelling reason to take action. Or they aren’t favorably disposed to buying from you.

Take a closer look at your own approach to make sure you’re truly focused on creating value for your customers rather than wearing them down to buy from you. One of the most important questions you can start with is this:

In your typical selling situations, who does most of the talking?

If it’s you, chances are, your focus is more product-oriented or transactional, and it’s likely keeping you from reaching your full sales potential.

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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Handshake of a mature manager with a happy young couple at offic

In the wake of recent revelations about widespread illegal practices at Wells Fargo, Training Industry reached out to Integrity Solutions’ CEO Mike Esterday to get his thoughts on what financial services organizations should be doing to ensure all employees are following the highest ethical standards in their actions and behaviors.

In the article, Ethics and Sales Training in the Financial Services Industry, Mike shared that a big part of the problem—and often a key contributor to ethically questionable behavior—is sales cultures that promote selling as something that you do to a customer rather than for or with a customer. Most sales training then reinforces that position by emphasizing product knowledge and techniques for persuading (or sometimes manipulating) customers into buying, whether what they’re buying meets their needs or not.

This cultural view of selling can have a significant impact. It influences how the sales manager leads the team, what gets the most “air time,” how salespeople are developed and coached, and how salespeople themselves view selling.

Mike explains that a person’s view of selling is linked to their mindset, which could manifest in one of the following ways:

1- Product mindset, where the emphasis is almost entirely on the product
2- Transaction mindset, where the emphasis is on doing the same transaction over and over again
3- Needs-focused mindset, where the emphasis is on uncovering and addressing customer needs

In other words, their mindset determines whether their goal is to push product—the more the better—or to create value and serve the customer’s needs.

With product and transaction mindsets, the door is open for misbehavior, especially when the environment created by the managers supports it, either subtly or overtly.

But when the salesperson is driven by a guiding belief that says, my role isn’t to push product but to uncover and fill customer needs, there’s an entirely different motivation, which leads to entirely different behavior.

A needs-focused mindset also releases a great deal of power within salespeople—an “x factor” that we call achievement drive. When people believe they’re doing right by the customer, they feel good about themselves. They have more confidence, more passion and more determination, and as a result, they’re able to build their own momentum.

A Quick Self-Audit for Your Sales Culture

Here are some questions you can ask to help determine whether or not your organization is at risk or on the right path:

  • How do our salespeople view selling? Do we need to shift mindsets?
  • Are our salespeople driven by the question, How can I help this customer with their problems and needs? Or is their primary focus, How can I sell this product today?
  • Do our salespeople have the skills to apply a needs-focused mindset, including knowing how to empathize with customers, ask the right questions and best serve their needs?
  • Are our sales managers effectively coaching their teams to help customers and identify unmet needs, or are they focused almost exclusively on driving numbers around product?

Through their words, behaviors and actions, do our sales managers encourage a positive view of selling and a customer-focused approach?

The difference is clear: Focusing on the product breeds a product culture, where selling the product—no matter how questionable the methods or how high the ethical costs—is all the matters.

Focusing on needs breeds a customer-centric culture where everyone wins—because when you teach people how to ask the right questions, they’ll uncover more needs, cross-sell more and build high-value, long-lasting customer relationships.

 

Source:- http://www.integritysolutions.com/sales-performance/sales-cultures-can-open-door-unethical-behavior

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There are two types of leaders:

First, is the leader who builds the entire organization directly under them. They are the captain. When they are around, the team thrives–and when they’re not, the team is aimless and misdirected (because that’s the dynamic they have built). They are still great, effective leaders, but the success of the team is entirely dependent upon their involvement.

The second is a leader who builds an organization around skill sets, habits, disciplines and best practices. They are involved, and everyone knows they are at the helm, but the success of the team is not entirely dependent upon them–because they have built something much different. They built a culture, not a hierarchy.

The best bosses are culture creators. They are far less interested in being “seen” as the high-and-mighty leader, and much more focused on creating an environment that allows others to thrive, take on responsibility, and ultimately grow organically.

How do they do that?

1. Routine

Effective offices have routines, just like effective people have routines. There is a Monday morning meeting. There is a Friday closing meeting. There is a mid-week standup. Whatever your routine is, as long as it creates both a sense of community and accountability, it will be effective. The purpose of routine is to remove the question of, “What do we do?” Once that is resolved, all team members can focus on more important tasks.

2. Accountability

If you have an office full of finger-pointers, no one will ever learn and grow. This starts at the top. If a leader cannot take accountability, then their managers don’t learn how to take accountability, and so on. This has to be part of your culture–and great bosses know this. It’s a matter of showing, not “talking,” and they teach the rest by first taking accountability themselves.

3. Listening

So much of teamwork comes down to listening. People will go through hell for you if they feel heard along the way. Great bosses don’t just tell people what to do. They listen. They take time along the way to address issues, concerns, feelings of unrest, etc. And in doing so, they teach others (again, through their actions) to do the same. This creates a culture that makes people feel empowered and safe to share what they think and feel, which ultimately is great for the organization as a whole.

4. Trust

There are few things as toxic as a distrustful work environment. Where people talk poorly about each other behind closed doors or in passing. In order to be an effective team, people have to feel that they can trust each other. A great boss sets this standard from the beginning. They guard that trust, and take extreme caution in upholding that standard across the board. Nobody does great work in an environment where they don’t feel emotionally safe.

5. Work Ethic

“All talk” organizations do a fantastic job at dancing around and proclaiming all the wonderful things they do, but lack the discipline to sit down and actually move the needle. A great boss does not believe his or her own hype. They know the value of staying humble and focused, and place far more energy and focus on setting the pace for quality work ethic in the office. Your work ethic is everything. Otherwise, you’re nothing but a headline in a fleeting press release.

6. Positive Feedback

There is a difference between a boss that picks work (or you, personally) apart just for the sake of it, and that same exercise being done in a constructive, helpful manner. Great bosses do this masterfully. They can provide feedback, push you, be tough on you, know just how far to test you without breaking you. And that’s crucial in order to get the best out of people. A great boss is like a great coach. There are times when you will feel extremely frustrated, even emotional, and you will feel like they are being tough on you for no reason. But down the line, you will pick your head up and you will realize the lesson they were trying to teach you. And if they have done so right, you will appreciate them for it.

7. Family

You spend more time with the people you work with than you do your own family. Great bosses don’t exploit this–they find ways to make that time investment worthwhile. They see you as family. They treat you like family. They create a culture for the organization as a whole where people look forward to seeing one another. It’s not just “an office.” It’s a workspace with people you are proud to call your “family.” The best work environments share this in common. They say, “I love the people I work with!” Because everyone feels like family.
Soure :- http://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/7-things-all-great-bosses-implement-into-the-workplace.html

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Millennials Concept With Workstation

As more Millennials enter the sales profession, they are pushing their organizations to shift their learning strategies and approaches. They have strong expectations and they’ve made them clear:

Use the latest technology platforms for learning, provide me with just-in-time feedback, make the learning instantly accessible and available at my pace, and give me more opportunities to learn in a collaborative environment.

Oh, and I don’t just want to pick up some knowledge; I want to learn for personal enrichment and professional fulfillment as well.

This is something Kevin King, Integrity Solutions’ VP of Healthcare, has seen more and more in his work with pharmaceutical and medical device companies, where it’s common to recruit younger, inexperienced sales representatives, many of whom are in their first jobs out of college.

But of course, this isn’t restricted to a single industry. Millennials as a group have grown up with technology, and they expect learning to be fun, engaging, social and at their fingertips, when and where they want it. They are not only more comfortable with technology platforms; they’re fascinated by them—and demand them. It’s requiring many L&D professionals to get outside their own comfort zones to strategize new approaches and rethink their delivery methods.

As all-consuming as technology seems, though, it’s still a tool. The broader question we should be thinking about first is, how can we help Millennials grow and fulfill their potential while also ensuring they have the mindset, motivation and drive to achieve critical business and revenue objectives?

What We Can Learn From Millennials

In a recent podcast interview, Kevin shared some of his insights related to managing, developing and retaining younger associates. While acknowledging that continuous learning has always been essential for getting sustained results from sales training, he emphasizes that the Millennial desire for ongoing education and learning is upping the ante.

And that’s a good thing. We know the old performance management systems don’t work. It’s past time for a new approach.

Here’s the good news about understanding what Millennials are looking for. Those expectations can provide a solid jumping-off point to help you structure a more effective long-term performance and talent management strategy.

Here are a few of the expectations Kevin outlines in the podcast:

  • Put personal development front and center.
  • Provide supportive feedback early and often.
  • Operate with honesty, integrity and respect.
  • Align coaching with broader purpose, meaning and inspiration.
  • Follow up frequently to counter today’s endless distractions.
  • Provide opportunities to collaborate and shine as team players.
  • Offer rewarding work experiences.
  • Value work/life balance.

If you’re looking for how to adapt to the reality that “companies need to stop managing performance and start actually developing it,” this is a pretty good list to get you started.

Are Your Sales Managers Ready?

This isn’t just about your sales representatives; this is equally about your sales managers.

Millennials are looking for trust, engagement and alignment to the work, and that starts with the manager. To meet the changing needs of both the workforce and the business, the command-and-control model of management has to give way to a more collaborative, participative coaching approach and focus. As Kevin puts it, today’s sales leaders must come to the workplace with an open mind and flexible leadership style.

Many managers view these changes with skepticism or even exasperation. It sounds like more work in an era where everyone is already feeling overloaded and dealing with pressure from all sides. But this is a small upfront investment that can deliver huge gains over the long term.

And in fact, communication can be as simple as a quick e-mail response, a text or a one-minute conversation. Millennials expect immediate gratification, and “in-the-moment” feedback is often the best way to provide coaching. The task for L&D and sales executives: ensuring your sales managers have both the skills and the coaching mindset to deliver on this new requirement—and then holding them accountable to new expectations.

The bottom line is that regular, effective coaching—the kind that is connected with the salesperson’s values and interests and focuses on expanding that individual’s personal belief boundaries—will keep Millennials engaged in their work and driven to achieve more. And that means fewer headaches for your managers.

Re- Blogged From:-

Integrity Solutions

Source:- http://www.integritysolutions.com/sales-performance/managing-developing-millennial-salesforce

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call-center

Companies are beginning to recognize the value in their call centers, not just as moneymakers but also as an integral part of call-centers developing long-term, business relationships. For an industry that typically tracks, measures and controls metrics like call time and volume, it’s easy to think that the value lies in data and quantitative improvements. Think again. These measures general focus on efficiency, not revenue.

Savvy companies are starting to see what was previously viewed as a necessary cost drain should now be treated as a critical component to their customer loyalty strategy—even an investment in future growth. The million-dollar questions:

How have call centers catapulted from being the low ones on the totem pole to acting as the trusted advisors contributing to profitability? And what has caused this dramatic shift?

The answer to both is, quite simply, your customers. With the rise of technology in all aspects of life, customers have gotten used to getting things done in the most efficient way possible. They no longer want or have the time to physically meet with a sales rep, nor do they want to get involved in a lengthy sales cycle. The Internet is one option, but for many, there’s still a desire for human contact, so call centers have become increasingly important.

The phone! It’s quick; it’s efficient and there’s a real person on the other end of the line. What’s more, well-trained call center professionals who have a positive outlook about sales through service are able to skillfully guide clients into additional purchases, bringing in additional revenue for the company.

The result is that the call centers have become profitable, but that’s not the only positive outcome. Call center professionals are gaining trust. They are building enduring, beneficial relationships. They are establishing a loyal customer following and helping the business deliver on its ultimate mission and purpose. Customers are not only trusting the advice; they’re learning to depend on the informed suggestions offered by skilled call center personnel. They are perceiving call center agents as partners, not just providers. Smart companies are recognizing that when they focus on partnerships, profit is the natural by-product.

There’s still work to be done. Recent research from Lee Resources revealed that 80% of companies believe that they deliver superior customer service, while only 8% of customers feel the same. And if American Express’s findings are true—that Americans tell an average of nine people about a good experience but 16 people about a bad one (and that doesn’t even include negative Facebook postings or tweets!)—then companies need to be especially worried about that huge percentage of customers who believe they’re getting less than superior service.

Yet if companies recognize that people and profit are not mutually exclusive, and if they equip their agents to engage in the dialogue that’s necessary to drive revenue, they will position themselves for long-term, positive results.

Dialogue That Pays Off

What does that dialogue look like? Here are a few of the key areas the most effective call center professionals keep top of mind and have become particularly skilled at:

  • Building trust and rapport
  • Putting customers at ease and making them feel important
  • Asking compelling questions to uncover needs
  • Following a proven, structured sales process
  • Actively listening for cues about challenges and wants
  • Understanding Behavior Styles and adjusting accordingly
  • Restating or paraphrasing points
  • Offering solutions that meet needs and create value
  • Translating product and service features into benefits

As more call centers focus on relevant, business-aligned learning and development strategies for their teams, call centers will continue to increase the top line.

The take-away? Put your money in your people. Align standards used to measure success with revenue and customer satisfaction goals, and watch your numbers go up!

 

Re- Blogged from :- Integrity Solutions

Source:- http://www.integritysolutions.com/service/call-centers-can-profit-centers-investing-dialogue

 

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In the old days, if you were a valued customer of a company (and you were, because all customers were valued in the old days), you had a specific contact through whom all transactions were processed. If your contact was on vacation, you might be forced to go through the company’s call center, but that was always a last resort because you believed that whoever answered that phone was going to be about three fries short of a Happy Meal.

Call centers didn’t earn a lot of respect from their own companies either. They were viewed strictly as a cost drain. Companies felt required to have them, but they didn’t feel required to support them with much more than the skills and tools they needed to be processors of the most mundane tasks. After all, highly trained sales representatives were there to do the heavy lifting.

But those old days are gone. The Internet came along and changed the way we do business, the way we shop, the way we entertain ourselves, the way we live. Customers began to realize that they could save time and money by conducting business online, and those personal representatives who had been so important before slowly began to fade. The times they were a-changing.

But here’s what didn’t change. Customers still wanted service. They wanted to maintain that feeling of having a business relationship. And that was no easy feat, considering that a high percentage of their transactions were done with two mouse clicks and the enter key. But occasionally, they would still need to have a little human contact, like if the website was down, or the transaction was complicated, or they had carpal tunnel. So companies had a new challenge: Re-purposing their tired call centers into profitable, customer satisfaction centers.

Enter the new and improved call center!

Today, the call center has earned a new respect, because the call center has become a company’s initial shot at true customer service. Smart companies have begun to understand that their call centers are their face, their voice and their smile. The call centers are giving them a chance to stand out against their competition. They are the one opportunity the company has to sell itself. The call centers have made a colossal shift. They’ve gone from zero to hero!

Not only have call centers, in most cases, become the company’s front line, but they’re also doing something else that they’d never done before. They’re making money! They’re no longer just overhead or a necessary evil. Because of the service they provide, in essence, they’ve been able to eliminate long selling cycles.

It’s also critical to note that call centers are not only making money, they’re saving money. With well-trained call center professionals, companies are able to reduce their sales cycle—or even their sales force. These kinds of call centers can handily pick up the slack. And the company profits soar—but not at the risk of customer satisfaction. If anything, customers are more satisfied with their experience when transacting their business through a call center, citing ease and expedience of transactions as the reason to use call centers.

There’s no denying that in the last five years, as the U.S. economy has picked up, so have revenues generated from call centers. The shift is customer driven. Companies who are listening to their customers understand that their call centers need to play a more prominent role in their overall business strategies. According to eConsultancy, a whopping 61% of consumers prefer the phone as their channel for conducting business. That should be a strong impetus for companies to make sure that their call centers are functioning efficiently, able to serve and sell value, and have customer satisfaction as their number one goal.

What are you doing to help your call center helping your business?

 

Re – Blogged From :- Integrity Solutions

 

Source:- http://www.integritysolutions.com/service/helping-call-center-help-business

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Author and sales expert Dave Kurlan doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the state of sales: “Ineffective salespeople—weak and poor performers—make up a whopping 62% of the sales population.” It’s common that many sales managers feel the daily weight of this statistic.

What contributes to it? We know there is no shortage of books and trainings trying to fix the problem, so why are so many sales professionals struggling?

To answer that question, I asked Alan Allard, founder and CEO of Genius Dynamics, Inc. He is an expert in human behavior and performance improvement for sales professionals and sales leaders and specializes in performance management in organizations.

In my interview, I wanted an answer to this overriding, troublesome dilemma in the sales community, and so posed this question: “Despite all the money invested in training salespeople to sell more, there is still a substantial deficit in the number of effective salespeople. What’s your take on that?”

Alan provided 4 key reasons, which can be used in any area of talent development:

1. Training alone won’t solve our sales challenges – follow-up coaching is essential.

Training is the main go-to resource for increasing sales, but it does not truly facilitate behavior change. Coaching is ideally suited to meet that need. Training can raise awareness, impart important information but it falls short in changing behavior. So, as an example, if a salesperson isn’t consistently asking for referrals, a workshop telling him or her effective language to use is necessary—but not sufficient.

In my experience, this is the challenge with any skill training initiative – talking about a skill, does not a skill make.

2. We’re not asking the right questions.

Alan suggests there are two primary questions sales professionals must be able to sufficiently answer if they want to increase their sales and income.

The first is: “What behaviors or action must I consistently engage in to sell more, to sell faster, or to sell bigger?” The answer would probably entail prospecting for new business, asking for referrals, following an effective sales model, selling on value and not price, providing great service, and so on.

The second question is “How can I get myself to execute the things I already know to do?” Alan went on to share a very important insight that can help sales managers utilize their training budgets much more successfully.

Sales professionals (even new ones) know “what” they need to do. It’s getting themselves to do what they know, and to do it consistently. Every salesperson knows they need to prospect for new clients. But few do it day in and day out. We can learn all the how-tos from sales managers, workshops, books, podcasts and blog posts. The challenge isn’t the knowing—it’s the doing.

3. Sales professionals aren’t adequately dealing with very common performance blockers – guilt and shame.

The ongoing “what” messages they hear without successful change generates guilt and shame. All the continuous training or input from a manager encourages and reiterates the “what”: motivate yourself, be optimistic, and bounce back from your setbacks. But if it doesn’t occur, they feel guilty about not doing what they know to do to reach the next level. That emotional weight then makes it harder for them to do what they must do to sell more effectively.

Sales professionals know guilt and shame slows them down but they don’t know how to stop it and ironically they are too embarrassed to discuss it and many sales managers don’t have the emotional intelligence and therefore insight to sufficiently addressed.

4. Generic sales training is not a one-size fit all – but is treated as such.

They are not customized for the unique needs of each salesperson and leave out “asking the how question”. It’s not that generic training can’t be helpful on some level, however, they do fall short because the how to apply the generic tactics will be very different for each salesperson. We all know motivation is as unique as each person is.

These four reasons really can be applied to any professional skill that needs to be developed from leadership to time management. They summarize the challenges organization have in approaching training, skill, and capability development from a generic, singular, one size fits all approach.

Strategies to Implement

So what’s the solution? Alan suggests and uses a high-impact solution to address the low percentage of successful sales persons. It is a two pronged use of coaching.

External Coaching: This can be done as a one-on-one format or as a facilitated peer group coaching. The first is faster but the second can be very effective. Coaching is ideal for finding specific answers that work for the person being coached. Coaching allows the coach to ask enough questions to dig deep enough to find answers to that “how” question for each sales person.

Internal Coaching: Alan teaches his clients how to utilize self-coaching to reach higher levels of sales success and has done so no matter what level of struggle. The best way to learn how to self-coach, Alan suggests, is to start with being coached by an expert coach. But even if that doesn’t happen, a salesperson can do so with a proficient self-coaching model and external support.

Alan calls his coaching model “GPS.” Here’s a simple introduction to it:

G = Goals (Identify your goals. Are they yours or your sales manager’s? Do you own them?)

P = Plan (What’s your action plan that will get and keep you going? This is where you consider what you’ve been doing so far—what’s worked well and what hasn’t worked so well? What obstacles to your plan have you run up against? What are your solutions?)

S = Support (This includes external and internal support. External support includes a number of things: Do you need more support from your company in some way? Do you need training on your CRM? What do you need from your manager or what do you need more of? Can a colleague help you in some way? Do you need to understand your sales model better—perhaps practice it with your manager or a colleague?)

Internal support means learning how to play the inner game better by self-management, including training psychological and emotional training, mental mastery, and emotional intelligence. This element is the foundation to the rest of the “GPS” model.

Alan’s suggestions teach us that taking a much more committed and strategic approach to sales training and development is absolutely necessary if we do not want our sales force to reside in the 66%. “if you want to learn more about how Alan helps increase sales, visit his website.

As a sales manager or individual sales professional, what next steps will you take to integrate the insight and advice that has been shared?

JoAnn Corley is a passionate champion of human potential with a focus on leadership and organizational success. She has the crazy belief that we can create our best leaders and businesses from the best of our human selves. Her overall mission is to help companies put the human back in human resource though holistic talent management. She leverages her knowledge of human behavior in marketing her boutique consulting firm across a variety of channels. She has been consistently recognized as one of the top 100 most social HR & management experts to follow on social media @joanncorley.

Source:- https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/09/biggest-reasons-sales-not-where-you-want.html

 

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