Tag Archives: sales competition

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

Would You Benefit by Having a Coach?

By Jeff Beals

What do Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Wayne Gretzky have in common?

They’re all world-class athletes who have won championships?  Yes.

They’re all incredibly famous?  Yes.

But there’s something else they all have in common.  Each had coaches who helped them reach the pinnacle of their sports.

Not only do athletes benefit from coaching, they probably would never win a championship without it.  Well, if coaching is so advantageous for professional athletes, it makes sense that other professionals would gain similar benefits from coaching.

I would argue that sales professionals benefit more from coaching than your typical professional.  Sales is not necessarily rocket science, but it does require you to master an array of differing skills and attitudes.

Mindset is incredibly important in sales, because the profession requires you to be passionate.  An accountant, for instance, can be bored to tears yet still do an effective job.  In many professions, you can hate your job, and even be turned off by the products your company sells, and still manage to be effective.

That’s not the case in sales where it makes a big difference when you’re excited about the product and a believer in the company.  But sometimes even passionate sales reps become discouraged when things go wrong: you hit a prospecting slump; the economy goes south or deals fall through at the last minute unexpectedly.  A coach can help you with mindset, keeping your energy and enthusiasm flowing when things don’t go your way.

Sales also requires a person to master somewhat dichotomous skills.  You need to be both an attentive listener and compelling presenter.  You need to have strong emotional intelligence skills yet be analytical when determining the profitability of a potential deal.

Should you have a coach?  That’s a personal decision, but the research tells us that those sales professionals who have access to coaching enjoy more success.  And that applies to sales professionals of all levels – from chief sales officer to entry-level sales rep.

Coaches come in a variety of forms, but most are informal coaches.  The typical way to get a coach is to find someone in your company who can advise you and help you grow as a professional.  That can be a boss, an experienced colleague who wants to give back or even a person from a different department or company who enjoys helping people succeed.  Some sales pros will work with a retired sales leader they happen to know.

Of course, you can also hire professional sales coaches.  There are many companies that provide this service.  If you go that route, ask around and find someone who has had a good experience with a sales coach and feels like they got a lot of value for their money.

What do you look for in a coach?  First and foremost, you want a good listener.  You want to find a person who wants to see you succeed but won’t just simply give you all the answers.  A good sales coach will do some teaching and advice sharing but mostly helps you come to your own conclusions about how to build a more successful career.

I recommend you share your goals with your coach and use those as part of your conversations.  Great athletes have goals they’re trying to achieve.  Along with their coaches, those athletes constantly monitor the progress they’re making and push themselves to greater heights.

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

How to Steal Your Competitor’s Clients

By Jeff Beals

Most people don’t know this, but from 2003 to 2009, I taught a commercial real estate sales-and-leasing course at my local university as an adjunct professor.  It was an upper-level course offered in the spring semester, so I typically had a lot of graduating seniors in my class.

One of my students passed her real estate licensure exam upon graduating and affiliated with a large residential brokerage company. She came from a prominent family, was active in the community and had a large network of friends. She was dismayed on two separate occasions when a family member and good friend chose NOT to use her as their real estate agent.

You see, those people had bought and sold houses before and chose to keep their former real estate agents.

Why? The agents had done a great job for them and had built relationships that were too strong for the unproven newbie to break. My former student was persistent, however. She kept prospecting and promoted her services to thousands of people. A year later, she had built plenty of professional relationships and was doing big deals.

I share this story with you to demonstrate that long-standing relationships are difficult to break. That’s why those relationships are so valuable. It’s hard to crack the bond your competitors have with their existing clients no matter how awesome your company is and how talented you are as a sales professional.

But it’s not impossible.

Here are some things you might consider if you’re trying to wiggle in between a client and your competitor:

Just One Thing

Some sales professionals have success by building a relationship with a prospective client and then asking for just a small piece of business.  You can say something like this: “I know you have a strong relationship with XYZ Company, and I respect that. They certainly do a good job.  But I know I can provide value too.  What if you gave me just one account, just one small piece of business, so I can prove myself to you?  At the same time, you spread your risk by having more than one company working on your account.”

Send a Gift

One way to get the attention of a competitor’s client is to send a strategic gift.  I like to find the newest business book on the market especially one that relates to the prospect’s business or interests.  Send a note explaining why you think the book is relevant to that person.  It sometimes helps to shrink-wrap your note and the book together, so it seems like a big deal to the recipient.  You can then call the recipient a couple days after they receive the gift.  You’ll find the recipient likely will be more interested in talking to you because you sent an impactful gift.

Read the Reviews

In some industries, clients write reviews about companies online.  Study the reviews written about your competitor.  If you see a number of negative reviews that form a pattern, you might be on to a vulnerability you can exploit to get between them and their current clients. One disclaimer to keep in mind – if a client blasts your competitor online, it could mean the client is the problem and not your competitor.  That could come back to bite your company if you take on that client.

Be Persistent

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to be in the fight for the long haul.  If you walk away immediately upon hearing that a prospective client already has a relationship with one of your competitors, you’re giving up too quickly.  Perhaps you could start a nurturing campaign in which you send compelling, value-laden emails to the prospect thus building a relationship slowly over time.  You could periodically send them valuable bits of information or advice that show you are both thinking about them and coming up with unsolicited value.  That will make you look good vis-à-vis their current provider who is likely taking the client for granted and no longer going above and beyond the call of duty.

Plant High Hurdles

Determine one or more things that you do better than any of your competitors.  Then, when you’re trying to steal away one of your competitor’s clients, set a high hurdle.  In your conversations with that client, say something like this: “Whoever provides you with this service should always do ‘X.’”  Of course, “X” is the thing you do well that you know the other company can not do.

But Don’t Do This:

There are a number of techniques you can try, but there’s one technique I don’t recommend: discounting your price.  That’s the easy way out, and it’s a short-term way of thinking.  Some sellers think they’ll win over a new client by giving them a drastic discount.  It might work, but know this – once you give a discount, the client might always expect that price.  Plus, if you discount too much, you may end up losing money.  Finally, a willingness to discount may make your project appear to be of diminished value.  If you want a good client for a long period of time, you need to earn them the old-fashioned way (by providing value) as opposed to the easy-but-temporary way (discounting).

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 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

“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

What Happens When You Befriend Your Competitors?

By Jeff Beals

Some of my favorite people to hang out with work in the same profession I do.  In other words, I’m friends with a lot of my competitors.  It makes sense if you think about it. People who compete with each other have many of the same interests.

But friendships with professionals from competing companies can be touchy.

It is in your best interest to have positive relationships with your competitors, but you have to be careful.  On one hand, such relationships keep job possibilities open for you, and if you’re in a leadership position, these relationships form a candidate pool from which you can hire.

On the other hand, it’s easy to let your guard down when you befriend competitors thus compromising your company’s position.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when it comes to befriending people who want to beat you in the sales arena:

1. Even if you have the heart of a cut-throat competitor, be cordial when you run into the competition. You never know when you actually might need them.

2. A wily competitor might be gathering intel during casual conversations, so stick to pleasantries and “sanitized” talk.  Don’t divulge your secrets.

3. If you sell for a small organization, you may be able to grow quite wealthy living off the big guy’s table scraps.  Befriend people from much larger companies.  They just might refer business to you that is not big enough for them.

4. If you engage in one-upmanship and gamesmanship with competitors, make sure you do it for valuable reasons and not simply to boost your ego or satisfy a constant craving for attention.  If you engage in one-upmanship just for the fun of it, be careful – make sure the other person has a thick skin and/or good sense of humor.  Friendships among competitors can be fragile.

5. Sometimes you must get between your client and your competitor.  That’s not just figuratively “in between” them; it might be a good idea to show up if you know your client is going to encounter a competitor.  In highly competitive sales efforts, your personal, physical presence may be necessary to ward off competitors looking to steal your client at the last minute.

6. As appropriate, find ways to “hide” your prospects from your competitors.  If you find a “diamond-in-the-rough” client, don’t let the world know about him or her.  Do what you can to keep them under the radar.

7. All is fair in love, war and sales. Because business can be so brutally competitive, some sales leaders look for ways not only to beat the competition but to weaken it preemptively.  Many of Sun Tzu’s ancient Chinese theories on military strategy apply to the game of sales. In sales, you sometimes need to outflank the competition, employ the element of surprise and weaken your competitors before you even begin the battle.  A dramatic way to strike a blow to a competitor is to hire away one of their sales reps.  If you can’t beat ’em, steal their best salesperson.

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