This is an article about the Sales Success Training Series that I designed for entrepreneurs, originally published in Onward Magazine.
Dianna Smith, aka The Irreverent Sales Girl interviewed me on how-to Fast Track Your Sales.
I have been working with entrepreneurs and top salespeople for decades and have developed a talent to quickly get people to the next level. Fast Track Your Sales distills my experience into eight concise, actionable, and results-producing sessions! Because my sessions are experiential and interactive, students use what they learn to immediately get results.
Let’s take a minute to walk through the key elements of your training. Your program consists of eight classes. The first four classes teach people how to get ready to sell, and the second four sections teach them how to GO SELL!
Why the “Get Ready to Sell” part? I mean, aren’t we ALL ready to go sell?
Well, it’s tricky. People THINK they are ready to go sell. So, they go out and “sell” and then they miss their goals. They are disappointed, think something is wrong with their product, their business model or THEM. Then they get discouraged and stop!
While entrepreneurs and top salespeople are great at just “getting out there and getting it done” – they also tend to fail a lot along the way. The reality is – it doesn’t have to be that hard!
My philosophy in the first four classes is: If you’ve won the battle before you begin, you are much more likely to, well…Win the Battle!
So, the first four installations are about Getting You Ready to Sell.
OK, I’m in. Lay them out for us.
The four steps of Getting Ready are:
- Sales Strategy to Win It!
- The Formula! How to Exceed Your Goals
- More Time Please! Time Management Practices for Sales
- Building a Winning Sales Funnel
Can we take a look at them one-by-one?
Sure thing! Let’s take the first one: “Sales Strategy to Win It”. In this first class, we cover:
- Building a strategy that defines what you are selling
- Determining who you are selling to
- Creating a plan for acquisition, retention and growth of customers
People often have their best year ever when they do this work. These things alone create the perfect foundation for fast tracking sales.
When people go through this first section of training, what are the most important things you emphasize?
The power of planning. I guide my students to get a CLEAR vision of where they want to go and the milestones they will meet along the way.
Together, we do the work – which entrepreneurs and salespeople love. If left to do it on their own, they simply wouldn’t. Together, we create the foundation quickly and powerfully!
I agree with that! The second class is called “Formula to Exceed Your Goals!” How can you promise that?
Well, it’s not something my students have never heard before. To attain important goals you need a fail-proof method that reliably delivers.
We ALL know that if you set a goal in the future, all you have to do is chunk it down into easy steps and then take those steps!
So, what is the problem?
The problem is that most of us don’t have the tools that make it EASY to do that work. We think we have to work HARD to figure out the steps!
I train my clients to look into the future and see their goal fulfilled, work their way back through realistic and often OBVIOUS milestones, and create specific actions inside a plan – in a way that motivates them to complete the project.
Our clients create a daily road map for success. Which gives them the power to know when they need to act. And to know when they are done for the day!
Sounds intriguing. Let’s get to the most exciting idea!, “More Time Please! Time Management Practices for Sales.”
This is a biggie! Especially for entrepreneurs and wanna-be top salespeople. We live in a world that tells us we are always behind. A wise person once told me, “You will die with a to-do list!”
In this session I truly do reveal secrets. I laugh when I say that because the reason I call them secrets is that most people don’t know them. They are simple, yet life changing.
The critical element is making sure you are doing the most important things, regularly!
For a successful entrepreneur or top-sales person, this is an “OF COURSE!”
I make sure my clients get reconnected to the “Of Course!” So, doing the next right thing is as obvious as filling their gas tank because they need to take a long drive.
When that happens, the desire and ability to sell becomes natural.
Of course. That makes perfect sense. My favorite part comes next, “Living in REALITY.” A person MUST have a strong sales process to manage their business powerfully, right?
Yep! Exactly. In my fourth session, I work with people to “Build a Winning Sales Funnel”. This is not same thing as “filling your pipeline” – building and working a sales funnel is a process. This is where you deal IN REALITY about where you are now, where you are going, and what you need to do to get there.
This step requires discipline and accurate thinking and GOOD SYSTEMS. Very few master this step, but it is the key to financial freedom and sustainable success.
While there are a multitude of software programs available to help manage a pipeline, most of them GET IN THE WAY! People end up spending so much time trying to configure the system, enter the data and set up processes that feel unnatural to ensure the database is maintained – that it distracts them from selling!
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use these systems, but maybe you’re better off with an Excel spreadsheet – a bit old school but it is simple and it works.
It is a cardinal sin to let your leads and prospects and sales fall through the cracks or go forgotten. YOU may be forgetting them, but your competition is not! Timing is critical and the sales funnel keeps you on track and doing the right activities to move the sale forward.
It is unusual to spend HALF of a program getting PREPARED and THEN delivering the actions that will close the business! I guess it’s like Sun Tzu. Win the war first. Then, go to war!
Exactly! Now we move into “Go Sell!”
And “Go Sell!” has four elements associated with it, too, right?
Yes! The four parts to the second half of my course are:
- Building a Lead Generation Machine
- Connecting Your Way to New Business
- Sales Call Planning: The Questions You Must Ask to Close the Deal
- I Object! Handling Objections to Close the Deal
Great. Let’s start with “Build a Lead Generation Machine”. How do you do that?
Building a lead generation machine seems a bit obvious, but most people don’t know how to do it. The magical part of the sentence, though, is “machine”. Once it is built, it will run on its own, with maintenance from time-to-time!
In this segment, I explore ways that will generate leads for your business. We start with how you are doing it now and determine which of those methods is successful. Of course, you want to do more of what works. Then, we consider all the cost effective ways you can generate leads.
I say cost effective because few people have $10,000 a month to spend on lead generation but most of my students need it. They choose the methods that will work best for them and create a budget to do those. For most, networking rises to the top because it is cost effective, easy to do and builds their network which is essential.
Which is a perfect segue into the sixth class called “Connecting Your Way to New Business.”
That is right. We have been taught over and over to network to create new business, but most of us have NO idea how to do it. We may think we do, but we really don’t. Here’s how I know.
What is the first thing you do when you go to an evening networking event? Go to the bar, right? No problem.
What is the next thing you do? Look around the room for someone you know? YEP! Hang out with them? YEP!
What do you talk about? What YOU are up to and interested in? What YOU need? YEP!
If you meet a potential client, you give them your elevator speech and ask for their card. YEP!
No wonder people hate networking! They either feel slimy doing it or they are avoiding being slimed.
That is not true networking. The point of networking is to expand your horizons. Meet new people. Learn new things. Connect people with resources.
Selling is selling. But that comes later.
Networking is NOT selling.
It is a mistake to attend trade shows and professional organizations to network, and look only for potential customers – while you bypass everyone else. It’s important to change your view and instead look for people you can collaborate with, offer resources to, develop into a referral source and of course people who can do business with you.
Not only does that sound more effective, but it also makes networking sound like it can be fun!
Yes! We are social beings and we enjoy connecting. We also enjoy making a difference for other people. When you network the proper way, you can do both! It is very satisfying!
Let’s jump in to the seventh session of your Fast Track Your Sales training: “Sales Call Planning: The Questions You Must Ask to Close the Deal.”
Yep! This is powerful. I start this class by asking students to think of a deal in their pipeline that is stuck. Then I ask them to answer eight questions about the deal.
Nearly 100% of the people in the room can’t give a clear, concise answer to all eight questions. Which illuminates why the deal is stuck. The questions include things like, who is making the buying decision? Do they have budget? What is their timing for the decision and the implementation? On what factors will the decision be made?
Students have an ‘a-ha’ moment during this exercise. They see they missed a critical piece of information that would move the sale forward or inform them to set it aside!
The trick is, how do you get BACK to your prospects so that you can get the missing information – and get them to respond?
Generally, we find a way for my students to offer new resources to their prospect, which makes the prospect WANT to respond.
When you give first, you are much more likely to receive.
Wow! That is powerful, but how does the “Sales Call Planning” work if the sales call has already been made?
Good question! There is a reason I start with the exercise.
When people see FOR THEMSELVES how important it is to get necessary information the first time, they are more motivated to learn how to plan for a sales call – IN ADVANCE.
So, now everyone is on the edge of their seats! They are thinking, “How DO I get those questions answered when I have my customer’s attention?”
That is when we move into what I call our Effective Sales Call Plan. It is a simple planning tool that takes about 10 minutes to complete before a sales call. This can be shared with a manager or anyone else from your company that will be attending to get input prior to the meeting.
About now is where I like to quote the hilarious Jack Bergman, “There’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over.”
My process is simple. First, you list who is going to be in the room. Why are they interested in meeting with you? What is your desired outcome for the call?
The planning sheet is an important part of the training. But, the MOST important part is learning how to do the work before you are in the room.
Your customer can TELL when you have done your homework, and they appreciate it!
I can see how that would be an enormous advantage. Let’s take it to the final session of your training. One of my favorites! “I Object! Handling Objections to Close the Deal.”
Yes. This is extremely important. As salespeople, we rarely have meetings where the customer is ready to buy exactly what we have to offer, right this minute, as is!
Which means our prospects are almost always going to have something they need to work out before they will buy.
In other words, they are going to have an objection.
Objections often throw salespeople for a loop!
I teach people to be prepared to work with their prospects to all of their concerns. It doesn’t mean that they will resolve every issue, but they can handle anything that comes their way with grace and power!
Objections represent one of two things.
What are those two things?
An objection is either a customer’s way of saying “no” when they don’t want to flat out tell you “no”.
Or, your customer has a genuine interest in buying, but they can’t see their way clear to pull the trigger.
With the first type of objection – the unstated “no” – experienced salespeople naturally get on the same side as the customer to learn more about the “no”. They are gracious with the “no”.
This is powerful, because people hate to be rude. Your customer wants to preserve the connection they have made with you – even though they do not want to buy right now. Learning how to hear a “no” when it truly is a “no” allows you to graciously move on. AND it creates a desire for them to say “yes” to you if the time is right later.
With the second kind of objection: when a customer tells you what they are dealing with (their objection), this is actually a gift. They are saying “If we can figure this piece out, it will be time to buy!”
I train my students to hear the second kinds of objections as a request for a partnership to work it out together.
And, wow! When you do THAT with your customer, they are blown away!
Prospects EXPECT you to be defensive when they throw up a barrier. When they find out that you are helpful instead, they love it.
I like how you structured the program. First, you make it easy for people to get ready to sell. Then you walk them through the critical elements to Fast Tracking Sales. You allow people to learn by discovering things for themselves.
That is exactly right. I spent the early part of my career teaching school to very young children. Children don’t learn by being lectured to. But they always learn when they discover things for themselves!
It is the same with adults. When a person figures something out for themselves, they have learned it forever. They are more able to incorporate the training into their actual practices.
Well, that is just perfect! Alice, thank you so much for taking the time with me and bringing your extraordinary experience to this conversation. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we sign off!
It’s more fun to sell when your sales are on the Fast Track! Happy selling!
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