Tag Archives: customer value

What Is the Truth About Relationship Selling?

By Jeff Beals

For several years now, I have been hearing that “relationship selling is dead.”

In other words, people are so busy and so self-absorbed they no longer have time to build relationships with companies and organizations. People are so time-starved that they no longer are interested in becoming “friends” with salespeople or even the owners/executives of the companies with which they do business.

Today, the argument goes, people are simply too overwhelmed for relationship-based selling to be effective.

What is relationship selling? It’s the theory that customers put so much value in the positive interaction with a company or company representative, that they develop strong feelings of loyalty, which sometimes can be even more powerful than the quality of the good or service and its price.

Well, relationship selling is still quite alive, but there have been some societal changes that have affected the way we conduct relationship selling.

It used to be that salespeople were the only true experts when it came to product features and benefits. If you wanted to learn what a product could do for your business, you had to sit down with a highly trained sales rep and ask a bunch of questions. Much of the value that the salesperson provided was in the form of knowledge dispensing.

In almost every industry, customers no longer are so dependent upon a salesperson’s knowledge. The internet provides a wide array of product information and all those blunt reviews on social media can provide incredible insight into products.

All this easily available product knowledge has sped up the sales cycle and caused buyers to see products and services as mere commodities. At the same time, if you cater to big companies, you are dealing with professional buyers who are growing ever sophisticated in how they “beat up” their vendors on price.

So, if you sell things for a living, what do you do?

Remember that building relationships with clients is still important. People like to have positive and trusting relationships with the people who provide them with products and services, but you have to build the relationship in a way and at a pace that appeals to them. These days, you have to do things a little differently:

1. Value – You must constantly focus on delivering what your customers value without assuming what they value. Only the customer can decide what is valuable to them, not you. Nobody needs to be buddies with a vendor just for the sake of having more friends. First and foremost, a business needs to provide exactly what a customer wants/needs. After that, you can differentiate yourself from the competition with a positive relationship. As long as the clients are receiving what they value, the advantage goes to whichever provider can develop the most positive connection. Life is short and full of stress, so when everything else is equal, we’d rather work with people we like.

2. Teammate – Since so much product information is available before prospects even pick up the telephone or send an email, the salesperson’s job has changed. Instead of being an all-knowing information provider, successful salespeople are coaches and guides. They listen carefully to what prospective customers want and then steer them to the best choice. If you do this properly, you WILL build a relationship that will yield fruit long into the future.

3. Speed – Because the marketplace is more hyperactive than in years past, you need to move quickly. You can still build long-term relationships but you don’t have much time to get started. Prospective customers expect calls to be returned immediately. They expect answers now instead of waiting a couple days for you to get back to them. If you’re a business leader, empower your staff to provide answers as autonomously as possible. Any delay, especially early in the selling cycle, can cause the prospect to drift over to your competitor. Gone is the old standard that “you have 24 hours to return a message.”

4. Take Charge – Once you have figured out exactly what the prospect values, it’s time to take charge.  While nobody likes a pushy salesperson, buyers do look to the sales rep to be the leader.  As long as your message is consistent with what your customer values, it’s okay to plant ideas in their heads and challenge them to think differently.

Contrary to popular belief, you could argue that business relationships are even MORE valuable than they were in the past. While customers have more knowledge and options at their disposal, they’re simultaneously under more stress. The successful sales practitioner is the one who constantly delivers client value in a pleasant and stress-free manner and knows when it’s okay to push.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

Stop Mistaking Marketing for Selling

By Jeff Beals

On separate occasions I recently met with two small business owners.  These guys don’t know each other but they have a lot in common: Despite great effort, neither is happy with their revenue. Both companies are “getting by” but are far from thriving.

A quick examination revealed the same reason why revenues are falling short. Both owners are mistaking promotional activity for selling activity.  Let me explain…

Both of these entrepreneurs tirelessly promote their companies.  They belong to service clubs and chambers of commerce. They show up at networking events.  They lead active social lives.  They advertise on radio and in print. They buy Google AdWords. They sponsor events.  One of them even sponsors a youth sports team.  Yet despite this activity, neither is getting enough new business to come through the door.

So, what’s the problem?

While they’re doing a great job with promoting, neither is focused on selling. Both entrepreneurs are getting their brands out in the marketplace.  They are creating name recognition and associating their brands with positive feelings.  But promotion is simply not enough.  Promotional activities don’t in-and-of-themselves lead directly to signed deals.  If you stop at promotion, you’re not going far enough.

To make a military analogy, think of promotional activity as analogous to an air raid and selling to be an analogy for the infantry.  If one country is going to attach another, they often use their air forces to weaken the target before the infantry soldiers invade.  You don’t win wars with air power alone.  At some point, soldiers have to win it on the ground.

Now, I’m a little hesitant to use the military analogy because good sales people don’t “attack” prospective customers.  Instead they work with them to find beneficial solutions.  Nevertheless, promotional activities “soften” up the target audience while salespeople (the “ground forces”) finish up everything.

No matter how tirelessly you promote and no matter how much you spend on marketing, making a sale usually requires someone from a company to do four things in exact order:

  1. Interrupt someone’s day and turn them into a prospect;
  2. Figure out what prospects truly care about;
  3. Demonstrate how the product/solution exactly meets their needs;
  4. Confidently ask them to sign up.

To be successful, companies have to repeat this process with multiple people each and every day.  If you’re not focused on the four activities above, you are wasting time and money.

But it’s not just glad-handing, socializing owners/executives who are guilty of this.  Some salespeople are too.  Yes, people who actually work in sales will often promote instead of sell.

Some salespeople will wine-and-dine clients but not steer them to the close.  A good name for these salespeople would be “professional lunch eaters” or “professional coffee drinkers.”

It’s easy to do the relationship-building part of sales, but it’s hard for some people to follow through with the closing part. Asking for the order is inherently difficult, because it’s not fun to be turned down. It’s human nature to avoid rejection. Because of that, many people put themselves out there, build relationships and simply hope and pray that the clients will come to them.

That’s too passive. Waiting for people to volunteer to be your clients might work occasionally, but it won’t generate enough business to sustain you.

It’s true that successful entrepreneurs, executives and sales professionals must engage in promotional activity, but that is simply a means to an end. Your success is ultimately judged when your prospect signs their name on the dotted line.  That means you must be constantly focused on the real measure of success.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

Is Cross-Selling Actually a Bad Thing???

By Jeff Beals

Thanks to widespread media coverage of the recent Wells Fargo fake-account scandal, the sales profession has a new villain.

It’s called, “cross-selling.”

And you might add another villain to the list:

“Sales culture.”

In Wells Fargo’s world, cross-selling is the practice of getting customers to open and use as many of the bank’s products and services as possible. Some critics have claimed the practice led to a sales culture that incentivized employees to open unauthorized accounts.

Wells Fargo was fined $190 million a few weeks ago for opening nearly 2 million accounts without obtaining permission from customers. Wells Fargo revealed it has fired 5,300 employees who were found to have defrauded customers.  Some employees have sued Wells, claiming they were pushed by management to engage in unsavory selling tactics.

The process has apparently been going on for quite some time as evidenced by this clip from a Fortune magazine article in 2009:

“Wells, more than any big bank, makes its money by lending. It focuses on consumers and midsize businesses, which tend to be more profitable customers than Fortune 1,000 corporations that can raise money from many sources. And Wells relentlessly cross-sells everything, including credit cards and mortgages (to consumers) and treasury-management services and insurance (to businesses). Wells persuades each retail customer to buy an average of almost six products, roughly twice the level of a decade ago. Business customers average almost eight products per customer.”

Wells Fargo has rightly been criticized for the practice, and its CEO has been dragged before a Congressional committee.  Customers, government regulators and members of the public have understandably been outraged.

But whenever a big corporate scandal hits the news, you guarantee there will be an abundance of knee-jerk, overreactions.

Media coverage has cast a negative light on cross-selling and the existence of sales-oriented corporate cultures. However, bad behavior in one company does not necessarily mean that cross-selling and “having a sales culture” are bad things.

I had lunch yesterday with the owner of a mid-sized manufacturing company.  We were talking about how he could increase his sales but then pointedly said, “I don’t want us to have a sales culture at our company where we end up cross-selling like Wells Fargo!”

Uh oh…I’m afraid cross-selling is getting an undeserved bad name. I respect the business owner’s strong desire to maintain an ethical company, but is he jumping too far too soon?

Is cross-selling really all that bad?

No.

Companies need sales cultures where employees are incentivized to sell more. Companies need to cross-sell in order to maximize revenue and deliver the best products/services to customers.

Companies are selling organizations, period. Your company may manufacture a certain product, may deliver a certain service or may develop new intellectual thinking, but none of that matters if you don’t sell it.  What’s more, if a given product at your company is perfect for a given client, there’s a good chance that one of your complementary products may also be of value.

A sales-oriented culture is necessary to stay in business.

How do you know if your sales culture is okay?

The best way to avoid a sales scandal and treat customers ethically is to focus on customer value. The key is to determine exactly what your customers truly care about and then do an outstanding job of delivering it.

Meanwhile, communicate accurately, honestly and promptly with your clients.  If you are only selling what customers value and making sure they are well informed and constantly kept in the loop, you can be proud of your sales culture.

As long as you are the trusted adviser, the person who puts clients’ needs before your own, there will be plenty of opportunities to cross-sell thus making both you and the client very happy.

There’s a big difference between opening fake accounts, the existence of which customers knew nothing, and having a company culture that simply maximizes the ways you can engage a customer.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.”  – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and
building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff.  I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA

“I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com