My name is c.j., and here's the June 2007 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter.
Before we commence to our main article, pls. upcoming members' event on How to Double or Triple Your Sales Results thru Effective Communication with Buyers that's happening on 13 June 2007 in Shanghai. Click here for details. As seats are limited, please reserve your seat now!
This issue's main article is on "Are You a Peddler or Professional", and it focuses some of the most common challenges in leading and motivating sales teams in China, and what are some simple suggestions to alleviate them.
Here's an on-point summary:
Most sales people are actually peddlers, putting their own interests ahead of customers';
Yet given today's competitive environment, customers are smart enough to block access by any sales peddler;
The way to achieving sustainable long-term as well as short-term sales results is to put customers' interests first, and provide customers with professional advice.
To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (http://www.psycheselling.com/page4.html).
Are You a Peddler or a Professional?
by c.j. Ng
Recently I was rather pleasantly surprised by the quality of service offered by a pharmacist in Huashi Pharmacy within Gubei Carrefour (3rd level) in Shanghai. What happened was my baby boy seemed to have an infection in his left eye, and I thought maybe some eye-drops will cure this minor infection. The question is, my son was only 2 weeks-old, and perhaps not all eye-drops are suitable.
So I went to this pharmacy, and explained my situation to the above pharmacist. She asked me some details about the specific syntoms and made a very strange recommendation, at least strange by Chinese standards.....She actually recommended something that is not available at her store!
So I then went off to another pharmacy down the road and got what I wanted, and within 2 days, my boy's eye infection was cured.
This simple episode in life made me reflect whether the role of sales person should be that of a professional, or of a peddler. You see, most of the pharmacists that I have experienced in China tend to give me the impression that they are selling whatever gives them the best commissions. Even the pharmacists at the place that I got the eyedrops were trying to dissuade me to get what I want, and persuaded me to get something which they wanted for me (without any diagnosis of my situation).
Now, to most people who have "experienced" would just lament that "This is China!", and assume that this is how things are done here, and if it's not done so, vendors will lose money.
I beg to differ.
The experience I had with the Huashi 华氏 Pharmacy at Gubei Carrefour gave me a lot of trust in them, and if I were to have any other minor ailments, I'd definitely consult a Huashi Pharmacist first. Nevermind that my experience with that pharmacist was unique only to that store, and to that individual pharmacist. The experience that I had is enough for me to trust the pharmacy chain, and the pharmacists who worked in that chain (that is until some other pharmacists in this pharmacy chain break that trust by pushing drugs that don't really match my needs....hope not!)
The Push and Pull of Selling
The term for selling in Chinese can be sometimes termed as 推销, which means to peddle; and it can also be 销售, which means simply making a sale. Still, the general perception here is that in order to sell, one has to push products and services to customers.
However, the latest research made by the HR Chally Group (http://www.chally.com/) over a 14-year period states that the most successful sales people are masters in gaining the trust of customers and making them want to buy.
One of the most effective ways to gain the trust of customers is to think and act in the best interests of the customer, even if it may not lead to an immediate sale, as what my pharmacist had done. This is especially important for B2B selling situations where stakes are high, and the fear of the risks of performance failures are things that cause customers to lose sleep at night.
This is an entire departure from traditional sales mindsets where the sales person is perceived as someone whose job is done by just doing whatever it takes to push a product to a customer, collect the money, and run!
This is also one of the main reasons why the selling profession is generally not held in high regard among the Chinese population (job seekers as well as customers), as it tends to be perceived to be a mixture of cheating, stealing and robbing other people off their hard earned money.
Selling as a Profession
Yet again, the best sales people in the world regard themselves as for than just sales people. They serve the best interests of BOTH their customers as well as the companies they work for, and then innovatively propose solutions that all parties can benefit and accept. They act as consultants (at times unpaid) for their clients, and make recommendations for what is best for customers (as opposed to their own pockets).
They are willing to sacrifice the short-term sales if its not the most suited solution for their customers, so that they can win the hearts, minds and souls of customers in the long-term.
After the sale, these dedicated sales professionals make sure that the product or service is well delivered to their customers, and will pro-actively resolve any challenges that customers may face in using their products and services.
It's small wonder that when these fantastic sales professionals leave their companies, their customers follow them wherever they go. That is not because they went to a competing company and start offering lower prices to these customers. No, customers these days are smart enough to know what is more valuable. These customers WANT to be served by sales professionals who took good care of them
Creating a Professional Sales Culture
Since being a professional in selling is 180 degrees away from being a peddler, business leaders and managers would have to rethink how they appraise sales people's performances, if they are interested in sustainable long-term growth.
Areas to rethink include:
Are sales figures the ONLY measurement to gauge the effectiveness of a sales person?
Do the sales people's responsibilities end with making the sale and collecting the cheque, or do they extend further?
Do you measure the key accounts' ability to succeed with your solution, rather than just the sizes of their cheques for you?
And the list goes on.
Without a doubt, most managers would argue that a sales person's measurement of success will definitely be the amount of sales generated, and hen be compensated as such. However, companies that are built to last are always looking at sustainable streams of revenue per customer. And the only way to do that is to make sure customers can succeed with your solutions. Otherwise, the company will simply go into endless vicious cycles of hunting new customers and losing existing ones.
Being Professional Benefits Short Term Revenues as Well
In an increasingly competitive world, customers constantly are bugged by sales peddlers who are interested in only getting a buck out of their customers' pockets and not on how customers can benefit and succeed with them. Hence, the biggest challenge for most sales people these days will be on how they can first get a foot into the customers' door.
The bad news is that customers these days are smart enough to block all kinds of hard-sell, strong-arm tactics used by sales peddlers. The good news is that if you are a sales professional, you will have a much better chance of getting your foot through customers' doors faster than peddlers. That means you win, short-term AND long-term.
The question is, are you and your company prepared to be professionals in selling yet?
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How to Handle Premature Price Quotations
by Bill Brooks (www.thebrooksgroup.com)
"Let’s cut to the chase…how much is it?”
- Every Prospect
No issue nags salespeople more than this one: Exactly when and how to present price. There’s a fine balance between taking enough time to build value and completely frustrating or alienating your prospect by refusing to quote price. Your job as a sales manager is to help your sales team master the art of maintaining that balance.
As we discussed in last month’s newsletter, many salespeople don't like to talk about price at all. Almost half of all salespeople, when directly asked for the price by the customer, will change the subject and start talking about something else by saying something like: "I’m going to get to that, but let me tell you about how wonderful our product or service is first.”
From the prospect’s perspective, they’re really saying: "Let me dance around the mulberry bush, babble and yak at you for a while and maybe price will go away.” However, you CAN teach your sales team some strategies for deftly handling premature price questions.
There are two key principles to effectively handling premature price questions:
1. Keep the focus on your prospect’s needs and wants.
When the prospect asks a direct question, like “How much is it?” the worst thing the salesperson can do is fail to address the question straightforwardly or fail to acknowledge the validity of the question. Most prospects really do want to know the price. In fact, they need to know the price in order to make a purchase decision.
The typical, “I’ll get to that, but first let me tell you about...” response communicates that the salesperson is not interested in what the prospect wants or needs. It’s a lot like telling the prospect, “I’m running this show. Don’t bother me with your concerns – just shut up and listen.”
2. Be confident.
While price is a perfectly legitimate question, don’t be naïve. The reason many prospects attack the salesperson with this one early on is so they can get a “read” on how likely that price is to “stick.” Often, they’re scrutinizing the salesperson for any sign of weakness when it comes to handling price.
So, while the salesperson can’t afford to come across as unconcerned or dismissive, they’ve also got to be able to face premature price questions without sounding fearful or unsure of themselves. This is where the balancing act begins…the salesperson has to tread very carefully.
There’s a lot riding on the response to a premature price question – it has to accomplish several things:
Acknowledge that the prospect has asked an important and valid
Demonstrate that the entire sales interaction is focused on what
the prospect needs and wants and show that it’s not about the salesperson’s
Communicate that the salesperson would like to answer the question
as soon as possible, but that the salesperson would also like to answer it
Get the prospect’s permission to defer an exact quote until the salesperson has had a chance to determine exactly what solution will fit the prospect’s unique situation.
So how can you teach your sales team to accomplish all of this in a few short phrases without damaging the trust, rapport or credibility they’ve worked so hard to build up to this point?
Here are 3 basic strategies:
“I understand that price is important, and it should be. We have a full range of prices depending on options, choices, volume, and other factors. What I’d like to do is make sure that I understand what product, with what features, is right for you. Then, I’ll give you the price to the penny. Does that make sense?”
“Our prices generally range from _______ to _______. You’re not likely to be at the top of the range, nor at the bottom. However, I’ll be able to show you an exact price once I determine precisely what you’d like to accomplish. Is that okay?” (Be sure this statement is true).
“No matter what the price, it will prove to be the worst investment you’ve ever made if it’s not exactly what you need. Let me determine if it delivers what you’re after, then I’ll give you an exact price...to the penny.
Is that okay with you?”
Notice how each of the three strategies:
Addresses the question head-on
Offers a valid, customer-focused reason for NOT quoting price until later
Promises to quote an accurate price as soon as possible
Asks the prospect’s permission to defer the subject of price and continue with the sales process
These four critical elements are the key to responding in a way that builds and reinforces trust rather than diminishing it. It may seem like a lot to worry about in answering a single question, but most salespeople have a real weakness in this area. Many are preoccupied with how they’ll deal with premature price questions before they even arise, but totally unprepared to handle them once they do. Work with your sales team to help them master this skill. Not only will they do a better job of handling premature price questions, once they know they’re ready to tackle the subject of price confidently whenever it comes up, they’re likely to perform better in every stage of the sales process.
We can customize a full-price selling seminar and deliver it on-site just for your sales team. Put your sales team back in the driver’s seat when it comes to price.
As you might have heard of them, the most common challenges faced by sales people in any country, and across nearly every industry, are as follow:
Unable to qualify for the right customers;
Unable to generate interest through the telephone;
Unable to get to the right people (who may or may not be whom you think);
Unable to define the decision making structure of customers;
Unable to get customers interested and excited about what you have to offer;
Unable to sustain customers’ interest through the sales cycle;
Unable to get past clients’ objections and close the sale
Spending too much time with proposals that seem to go nowhere
Unable to sell deeper to the same customers
Having these concerns in mind, the Psyche-Selling TM is created as a result of 1-to-1 coaching with sales people from a variety of industries across 13 cities in Asia.
Psyche-Selling TM is currently operating as a community of experienced sales and marketing professionals helping other sales and marketing professionals. Psyche-Selling TM welcomes collaborations with consultancies and distributors.
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