CJNg _ 2.jpgHi!


    My name is c.j., your trusted Sales Advisor, and here's the March 2009 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter. 


    As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.  Many companies are now looking for ways to generate sales and salvage profits.  Even though this will be a uphill task, many companies are not giving up.  In fact, most actually increased their sales efforts.  


    While selling in turbulent times may not be easy, there are ways to get customers to buy more from you, IF you can give them what they want.


         Hence, this month's topics:

  1. What Customers Really Want During Turbulent Times; and

  2. How to Get Appointments with the Big Shot


    This issue's main article is on  "What Customers Really Want During Turbulent Times", and it highlights the simple things that may make customers buy a little more from you in such times.


    In brief:

  • It's not true that customers do not have the budget to buy from you in turbulent times.  All they want is more value for money;

  • To add more value to customers, you can choose to either sell premium brands or products at lower prices, or provide more products and services at the same price.  However, there are pros and cons of both strategies that you need to be aware of;

  • In addition, perhaps what your customers really need is for you to really understand their needs and situation, and then provide them with a practical, yet simple solution.  It's not easy, but it can be done.  Read on... ...


    To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (http://www.psycheselling.com/page4.html).


What Customers Really Want During Turbulent Times


by c.j. Ng


     What do customers really want during these turbulent times?  The short answer is simply 2 words:  more value.  Or more precisely, more value at less costs.


     As in all short answers, delivering such answers to customers may not be as simple.  However, we can categorise "more value" in the following ways:

  • Sell premium brands and products at discounted prices; or

  • Provide more products and services for the same price; or

  • Find out customers real needs, and then provide practical, yet simple solutions that fit their situation


     Is that it?


     Yes, and no.  There are pros and cons of delivering the above, and you may just want to be sure what your risks and potential rewards are, before doing so.

"Sale!  Sale!  Sale!"

12 February 2009 in Singapore.  It was just after the Chinese New Year, and companies are starting to retrench staff.  Amid the gloom-and-doom, there was a property preview launch of 293 condominiums in a centralised location called the Alexis at Alexandra.


     Within the first day of the launch, 50% of the units were sold.  Within 3 days of the preview, all units were gone.  Here's how they did it:

  1. Prices were discounted by an average of 28% during the preview period;

  2. The units are small, and so the total price is low, and are easier to rent out;

  3. Buyers can defer payment until the property is built, after just paying a deposit.


     So does that mean that if you were to cut your prices and offer deferred payment plans, you will attract customers to you?  Well, not quite.


     While the Alexis at Alexandra may have slashed its prices, it is still priced higher than neighbouring properties.  However, because it is perceived as a higher-end product, AND that investors will get good returns with its easy-to-rent units and luxurious facilities.


     While many companies resort to giving discounts during turbulent times, they often forgot the other ingredient to make price discounts successful.  In such times, if customers still have some budget, they don't want to buy cheap stuff.  Rather, they want more value for less costs


      Hence, price discounts only make sense if the brand or the product is perceived to be of high value, but the price is viewed as a bargain.  In this case, it's not a case of how massive the discounts are, but if customers can feel that they can spend much less for something that they desire a lot.


     There are downsides, however, to this strategy.  They are:

  • Pro-longed price reductions can cheapen the brand and market standing of the product, and may not be effective after some time;

  • If your customers don't perceive you as a premium brand or product yet, discounts wll only lead to price wars (when competitors start discounting too);

  • Discounts will eat into your profits, and you may then have less resources to do more sales and marketing initiatives.


Bells and Whistles

     Besides giving discounts, many companies are beginning to provide additional features such as free add-on products and after-sale service to customers.


     The Flint Group in China is a leading provider of high quality printing plates to printers in China and the rest of Asia.  One of their key selling points is that it provides very personable and timely after-sales service to their customers.


     However, most of their prospects don't find such services useful, and that Flint's overall price is still too expensive for them.  After some analysis of why their current customers buy from them, they concluded that:

  • Some customers, especially in China, have been using low-quality printing plates UNTIL they got some high-end printing jobs that require them to start using high-quality printing plates;

  • Since they have not used high-quality printing plates (and the machinery to put the plates on), they NEED the after-sales service to guide them along and help them succeed


     After identifying which are the potential customers who would be the most likely to appreciate their service levels, the Flint Group went further to look into ways on how they can add more value.  When the Flint Group found that they are prospects who lament that their margins are squeezed in the low-end printing market, and that they have a strong desire to get high-end customers and move to high-quality printing BUT just don't know how to do so, the Flint Group actually goes to the extent of introducing new business to these prospects, and if they prove credible enough, even provide financing for the printing equipment and machinery. 


     Not all companies can afford the luxury of financing its customers' equipment, and even for the Flint Group, it is still a very expensive way to win new customers.  The Flint Group is very much aware that a "value" is not a real value, unless it's valued by the customer.  Additional product features and after-sale services may be great value, but if customers don't really value them, they will not help generate more sales anyway.


How May I Assist You?


     One of the key requests we get these days is also to help our customers pinpoint what isn't right with their companies, and provide relevant solutions.  The challenges faced by these customers are very varied.  Some complained that "80%of their distributors do not re-order from them", while others commeneted that "While I understand that times are bad, but why is it that our sales performance are so much worse than the industry average?".


     However, one thing in common that they all have is that they are very skeptical that our sales training can be of any use, and in any case, training budget has been reduced and put under the microsope for scrutiny.  Hence, instead of trying to convince them why our sales training programmes will deliver the results they want, we take the approach of making in-depth studies of what's going on within their sales forces.


     Rather than recommending what sales training or coaching programmes that these customers should consider, we suggested that we conduct interviews with their customers and distributors to understand what is the general perception of their products, brands, pricing, and most importantly, sales people's effectiveness.


     We also conduct joint calls with their sales people to visit their customers, and observe what goes on in their typcal meetings with customers.  At times, we even conduct audits about their

  • Strategic sales plans and targets for the next 3-5 years;

  • Current job descriptions of their respective duties (all levels from sales rep to managers, directors, VPs etc.);

  • Details of sales compensation plans;

  • Details of sales staff performance appraisals for the past 3-5 years;

  • Details of sales deals with major customers for the past 3-5 years;

  • Existing CVs (the ones that they submitted when they applied for the job) of the entire team (for all levels in the team);

  • Sales revenue for the past 3-5 years;

  • Cost of selling, broken down into cost of goods sold, costs of commissions, costs of transport and communications, and costs of entertainment, for the past 3-5 years (to be computed to find out Return on Sales, gross margins trends etc.)

  • Current training and coaching practices (incl. delivery and all levels of evaluation)


     The above details are not meant to intidimate our customers, but rather as ways to ascertain what are some of their areas that they can improve, and suggest appropriate ways how they can do so.  If you'd also like to implement customised solutions for your customers, here are some factors to consider:

  • Are your customers open to sharing some of their private business details with you;

  • Can you make it easy and convenient for customers to work with you;

  • Are you able to provide the above services at prices or payment terms that are mutually acceptable (espcially given such turbulent times)


     While "customisation" has always been a buzzword for the past 2 decades, there are reasons why it is more marketing rhetoric rather than actual practice.  In tough times like these, customers expect more customisation, and sellers are wary of the costs of providing customisation to customers.  If you can customise your offerings to your customers' needs at lower costs, that may just be what customers really want in these turbulent times.


     To discuss more about how to attract more customers in tough times, please e-mail info@directions-consulting.com or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence.

Power Breakfast Hour: April 2009 (date to be confirmed)

What Customers Really Want in Turbulent Times


     Join International Sales Leadership and Performance Coach c.j. Ng in this breakfast meeting in Shanghai where he will be sharing with you the following insights:

  • How to understand what your customers value most, and give them what they want;
  • The 3 ways of adding more value at lower costs for your customers; and
  • The pros and cons of each value adding strategy, and how you can strategise to your benefit

VENUE: Wagas Hongyi Plaza 288 Jiujiang Lu.G116 (Near Nanjing Dong Lu Subway Exit 1, pls. enter via the office entrance)

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


TIME: from 08:00 a.m. - 09:00 a.m.

PRICE: Just Pay for your Own Breakfast at the Counter (50% Off before 10:00 hrs + 1st cup of coffee @ additional RMB 12 ONLY!)

     To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to sales@directions-consulting.com

      Pls. check out our web sites www.directions-consulting.com and www.psycheselling.com/page4.html for more inspiration.

Practical Tips for Sales People:
How to Get Appontments with the Big Shots

by David Mattson and Anthony Parinello

with additional notes from c.j. Ng

When you get a top executive on the phone for the first time, how much time do you have before he or she decides whether to keep listening or to cut you off? Thirty seconds? Fifteen? Ten? It's less than all of those. You have a whopping eight seconds to make a great impression and keep him or her from hanging up.

In their new book, Five Minutes With VITO
(which stands for Very Important Top Officer) (Pegasus Media Worldwide, 2009), David Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training and Anthony Parinello, founder of Selling to VITO, detail what you need to say in those eight seconds to keep VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, on the line. Keep in mind as you read through their sequence that your goal in those first eight seconds is not to sell anything, it's simply to get VITO to "lean into" your message instead of away from it. Here's how to accomplish that goal:

1. Use VITO's name. When he answers, either confirm it's him with a quick, "John Big Shot?" or offer a brisk, "Hello, Mr. Big Shot."

2. Quick pleasantry. Your second sentence should be something like, "It's an honor to speak with you." Or, "Thanks for taking my call." That's it. DO NOT use any of the meaningless, overused pleasantries like, "Is this a good time?" or, "How are you today?" or, "How's the weather there in Chicago?" You'll sound like an overeager salesperson and, more importantly, VITO doesn't have time for it.


(c.j.'s note:  in the context of Asia, better use "thanks for taking my call", or "I'm glad to talk to you")

3. Big idea. Next, move directly into your Big Idea. The Big Idea should be bottom line oriented and should address a business issue that VITO cares about. It should also include a quick reference to your proven ability to address the problem. For instance, "I saw in your last SEC filing that you anticipate production costs to rise 25 percent. We just lowered those costs by more than 30 percent at four other companies in your industry."


(c.j.'s note:  this is similar to the Valid Business Reason stated by Miller Heiman.)

4. Your name. Only after you've established your credibility with your Big Idea should you give your name because only then will VITO be receptive to hearing it. This is one of the hardest things for salespeople to get used to, the idea of introducing themselves after they've introduced their Big Idea, but it works. When you introduce yourself, do it this way: "This is Susan. Susan Star with XYZ Company." VITO will hear your first name twice, which increases the likelihood he'll remember it.


(c.j.'s note:  this is especially true whe your company isn't the market leader, nor is it a well-known one)

5. Ending question. In your final second or two, ask VITO a question. The question should be phrased in a way that moves the conversation toward a defined next step and offers a timeline. For example, "Mr. Big Shot, what's the fastest way for us to find out if our proven process could be of greater interest to you and your team by the end of the month?" Another great ending question is, "In your opinion, what is the best way for us to pursue this topic right now?" For VITOs, there's no time like the present!


(c.j.'s note:  some customers, especially in Asia, may not be used to such brazen approaches.  Instead, you can opt for a gentler approach, such as "Mr. Big Shot, is it OK if I can ask a few questions to find if we can help you deliver better performance?"  You can also go to www.unlockthegame.com to get more ideas about having less "salesy" approaches)

On a final note, remember that you can't present your Big Idea sounding like you're a salesperson trying to make quota. Your entire conversation needs to be conducted as though you're "a fellow thought leader who knows how and when to make good business relationships happen," say Mattson and Parinello. "The conversation should sound, not like a sales call, but like two VITOs chatting briskly and enthusiastically while seated on the same park bench."

For more ideas, visit www.sandler.com or www.sellingtovito.com.

About PsycheSelling.com


Sales... ...the lifeblood of a company, a matter of "life and death", survival or extinction.  Indeed, something that needs to be studied, applied and re-modified consistently.


Yet today,

  • many companies still don't have a coherent approach as to how they can generate more sales and achieve better margins;

  • many sales people are still lying to their customers so that they can meet their targets at the end of the month;

  • many customers are still waiting ethical and professional sales people to help them find out their real needs, and provide solutions that work 

Psyche-Selling TM is set up so that companies and sales people can make healthy profits and STILL provide genuine solutions to customers.


Psyche-Selling TM would like to create an environment where customers can trust sales people to give them what they want, and NOT be pushed with all kinds of products and services.  In return, customers will become loyal fans of these ethical and professional sales people, and repay them many fold for the long-term.


Psyche-Selling TM will not rest, until the above is achieved.  Not just in China. Not just in Asia.  But everywhere where buying and selling takes place.


Psyche-Selling TM is a wholly-owned brand of Directions Management Consulting Pte Ltd that specialises in the field of improving sales performance by enhancing the performance of the entire sales team.  Apart from the regular "selling skills training", Psyche-Selling TM conducts pre- and post-training analysis, interviews, monitoring and reviews, working closely with managers and even senior management, to deliver real improvements in sales leadership and performance.   


Hence, Psyche-Selling TM would like to be known as the preferred choice of outstanding and remarkable clients, and pride ourselves as such.  We will also be continuing to assist our clients achieve greater heights in 2009 and beyond.


Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail info@psycheselling.com or visit www.psycheselling.com