My friend Don Hutson has a career in speaking, management, and sales that spans time, geography, and industry. His client list includes over half of the Fortunate 500. He’s the CEO of U.S. Learning and has appeared on numerous national television programs. He previously served as the President of the National Speakers Association.
Given this extensive background, I wanted to talk with Don about two subjects: sales and communication.
In this first video interview, I talk to Don about sales.
What’s In and Out
He shares that closing is out while gaining commitment is in. Overcoming objections is also out replaced by dealing with concerns. Even listening is upgraded from a passive activity to power listening, requiring action.
“Let us move from the era of confrontation to the era of negotiation.” –Richard Nixon
This is a guest post by Paul Trevino and TheGapPartnership. Paul offers some first thoughts on some important aspects of business negotiations.
When negotiating a deal or sale, it is important to consider the skills and trades you’re offering and what you hope to get in return. When offering your services, it is recommended to refrain from giving “too much” away. What this means is not over-promising or giving away something too valuable without getting something back in return.
In high-stress sale or negotiating situations, it is easy to unload offers to try and appease the other party member. This is a self-defeating method, as it devalues your services and leaves you vulnerable to unwanted concessions.
If you plan to offer something, make sure there is a return on it. It is not undesirable to make the other party member ‘earn’ the concessions you have access to, as opposed to simply giving them to them. This will result in a more satisfactory experience for both individuals.
“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” – John F. Kennedy
If you’re the head of a company, it is recommended to establish a quality negotiating plan among your employees. A good negotiating strategy can help improve customer satisfaction and potentially boost sales by implementing strategies that adhere to consumers’ wants and needs.
A poorly implemented plan may lead to conflict within a company or to disenfranchised employees frustrated by poor communication among their peers or superiors. With most organizations, negotiating is a daily business at every level. Whether it’s designating tasks for employees or handling customers, the ability to properly negotiate affects all areas of the workforce. A consistent and well-designed plan reduces stress among employees and lets staff learn proper negotiating tactics applicable both in and outside of work.
Don’t take it personally
Dealing with rejection or potentially rude customers is an expected part of negotiating. However, being sidetracked by personal conflict loses sight of the original deal or offer and results in time spent on unrelated issues. Understanding someone else’s personality or demeanor requires patience and sympathy. Peaceful negotiation requires focusing on the problem at hand and providing a solution irrespective of someone’s personality. Coming to a conclusion that satisfies both parties successfully defuses personal conflict and keeps the discussion civil between both parties.
“You do not get what you want. You get what you negotiate.” -Harvey Mackey
Negotiating can be an emotional investment among people, which can be a powerful tool to utilize. A common mistake among businesses is that they rely on logic or rationale to drive the negotiation process. Communicating ideals or values is almost always an emotional experience, with decisions being made based on greed, fear, ego, status or a desire to please.
An important tactic in negotiation is to show the benefits of a product or service, perhaps by painting a picture in someone’s mind or alluding to potentially successful scenarios or situations. This provides a visual imagery without actually spelling it out for someone, a clever tactic in challenging the other party member.
“Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” – Sir David Frost
In a previous post, I shared my opinions on selling to the top of an organization and why it isn’t always the best route to success.
There are obviously times when selling to the top is not only smart, but it’s required. Recently, I was asked about how to approach busy professionals with an idea, product, or service. If you are selling to senior executives, here are a few guidelines that may prove helpful.
As a sales leader, knowing your own company and your product is a requirement. Take it a step further. You need to know our company, too. When someone obviously hasn’t so much as looked at the company’s Web site, he has already lost credibility. Don’t flaunt your advanced preparation, but work in ways you think we will benefit from a relationship.
It applies on the phone, too. I can’t tell you how many people who finally do get me on the line are not prepared. If you’re ready for the gatekeeper, but not the person you’re targeting, here’s a hint: Don’t make the call. Do your homework.
Don’t launch into a stream of acronyms or nonsensical statements. No, I’m not meeting with you for an hour to learn to “drive efficiencies throughout the organization, maximizing ROI and improving profits.” Really. We do that every day, and we know the business and you don’t. So, be clear on what the benefit is to the organization. Don’t use complex language designed to impress.
“Every sale has 5 basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” –Zig Ziglar
If you’re in sales, you may have heard that you want to get to the top. Why bother with people who can’t make decisions?
And then you attend a sales training session where you hear of the latest clever selling tactics. How to get around the gatekeeper. How to bypass everyone else and get right to the CEO.
You’ve heard some of it before:
Call just before or after business hours in the hopes the assistant isn’t yet on duty and the phone rings in the executive’s office.
Sweet-talk the executive assistant.
Be vague, misleading or yes, even lie in order to make it to the CEO or the highest executive you can.
I’m filled with empathy for the sales profession. After all, my first corporate job was in sales. (I was also a lawyer, so that may have made me the most hated guy around: a lawyer salesman?)
Whenever possible I enjoy answering my own phone, especially if I know it’s a sales call. I’ve stunned sales people who are stammering on the other end of the line. One guy was so ready to give his misleading lines to an assistant that he literally hung up when he realized he already had me on the line.
But, this post isn’t about how to sell to the CEO. This is about when to sell to the CEO and when not to sell to the CEO or C Suite.
Here’s the problem with the “sell to the top” theory that most trainers don’t understand:
It can be a waste of time.
You can spend all kinds of time trying to reach someone in the C-Suite instead of identifying the person most interested in your product or service. Let’s say I’m the CEO at a large company, and you call me about office supplies. The fact is that there’s likely someone in charge of this area, and it isn’t the CEO. Do you think that the CEO is going to listen to your presentation and then command the purchasing department to override all protocols and buy staplers and highlighters from you?
Would your prospect write a check for your sales call?
Read that title again.
You’re thinking you want the sale. You don’t expect to get a check for the call. You’re lucky to have gotten the appointment.
Neil Rackham is the author of many books like Spin Selling, Rethinking the Sales Force and a number of other books. Years ago, when I was a new sales executive, Neil spoke at one of our meetings. After his presentation, he met with a small group of us. Most of the discussion I’ve long forgotten, but I’ve never forgotten this question.
Bring Incredible Value
“Is your sales call so valuable that your client would write a check for your visit?”
He obviously wasn’t suggesting we collect checks after every client meeting. But he was saying that we should bring value to the call. More value than a sales pitch. We should do our homework and be able to offer solutions to the client beyond simply closing a deal.