The Selling Newsletter
*A free monthly newsletter of ideas to help make your selling easier*
Selling is the easiest job in the world…Just ask anyone who is NOTin sales!
My mission is to help make it easier for you to sell.
Best wishes for YOUR successful selling—Maura
“Things turn out the best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”
UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden
THE SELLING IDEAS FOR THIS MONTH
I Can’t Believe They Said That
Have you ever brought support professionals along on a sales call to help close a deal? Sometimes their contribution will work like magic. Other times there’s no rabbit to pull out of the hat. That was the case when the current supplier of a software product made a group presentation for a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract. Here’s what you can avoid so you can be successful in your selling.
Tell how you’re going to fix your problems. The RFP (Request for Proposal) indicated all the criteria for the selection committee’s purchasing decision. Timeliness was one of the requirements. The competition said, “We’ll get data back to you in 20 days.” During the present supplier’s contract the company had missed several deadlines and incurred fines for missing deadlines. A selection committee member asked about their lack of delivery timeliness. The company acknowledged it had some problems in the past and the Vice President of Sales promised to do better. Sometimes things go wrong. It’s your job to correct them as quickly as possible. In a presentation you must also show how you have fixed your problems. The promise was not enough for the selection committee. At their debriefing after the presentation one committee member said, “It’s his job to promise us anything we want to hear.” The selection committee believed the competitor was the right company to hire because it had shown attention to detail.
Make sure a strength is perceived that way. One presenter thought their recent purchase by another company was a strength. The recent purchase meant the new management team was spending a large sum of money on modifying the new company’s infrastructure. The selection committee was concerned when they heard that information. Reengineered processes could produce unforeseen problems. They thought about first year model cars and their reputation for problems. The selection committee thought that the recent purchase was a liability.
The selection committee asked the current supplier about how they provided reports. One of the technical staffers said, “We never cheat you out of reports.” The selection committee heard that apparent strength as ‘I wonder what they are going to cheat us out of.’ The technical staffer was attempting to suggest that competition was cheating, but the perception was that the speaker’s company was doing it.
Present your strengths and effectively minimize your weaknesses. Sometimes you might not want to mention your weaknesses. The present supplier had the contract in every city with the exception of New York City. New York City was the city with the largest software usage. The supplier in New York City was their competitor. In their presentation the current supplier said, “We presently have all your business with the exception of New York City.” The committee wondered why they made their competition look stronger.
Another attempt to minimize a weakness backfired. One of their products had a deficiency. To address it the current supplier brought another vendor to help them sell. This vendor’s product dovetailed with the competitor’s tool. This further pointed out the competitor’s strength.
Present your presenters. The present supplier’s team included two presenters who never said a word the entire time. They were former employees of the supplier. They were introduced at the beginning by name and title, but never told the selection committee what they did; what project work they would be doing; or why they were on the presentation team. The selection committee interpreted their presence as being unnecessary. They wanted to know why each member was selected to be on the presentation team and what work they would be doing on the project if they were selected.
Selling as part of a team with sales and non-sales professionals requires more planning than usual. What you say as a group will determine if your customer says ‘yes’ to your proposal. You certainly want your selection committee to say something other than ‘I can’t believe they said that’ after you’ve finished with your presentation.
SELLING ACTION ITEM
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Thanks to Carl Brueckner for this month’s Selling Tip. He says:
When getting referrals the most important step, but often overlooked is to have your client personally call his referrals explaining how happy he is, some of the major benefits, and that you will be calling for an appointment. — Carl Brueckner
Carl is right. It makes it so much easier to reach a prospect when they expect your call. When referred by someone they know, your prospect is more likely to listen to you as well. Do the same with your referrals. Call the prospect first and let them know that you suggested someone to call them and why it’s a good match. If you just give a lead without the call, it’s not worth much—and don’t expect much in return.
I’m always looking for success stories and other tips from sales professionals. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas that have worked for you. To thank you, you’ll receive a free subscription to The Selling E-Letter™, a bi-monthly selling newsletter. ($50 value)
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Maura Schreier-Fleming works with business and sales professionals to make it easier to sell more and be more productive at work. Her clients want to create long-term client relationships. They include Fujitsu, Fannie Mae and Dr Pepper/7UP. She has an M.S. in Textile Engineering from Georgia Tech and was Mobil Oil’s first female lubrication engineer in the U.S. With over 20 years of sales experience, she teaches the art and science of selling with a unique hands-on perspective and a great deal of real-life insight. She is the author of Real-World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results. Her business column ‘Selling Strategies’ appears in the Insurance Record magazine. You can contact her for seminars at company or trade association meetings at 972 380 0200 or info@BestatSelling.com
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