Friday, November 20, 2009

What's at Steak...

For some reason a lot of my marketing analogies have to do with food. (Maybe that says something!)

Recently, I went to an Outback steakhouse when I was out of town. I asked my waiter for a recommendation. He said I might like the 20 oz. porterhouse. If I was really hungry they had something like a 32 oz. So I ordered the 20 oz. It was good. I was stuffed and satisfied until he brought me the check. I looked at the table next to me and watched their waiter bring them this luscious dessert.

I didn't think of dessert. I really didn't want any. But I felt jilted by the waiter for not bringing me the dessert menu or even asking me if I was interested. And I wasn't going to make a stir about dessert. I just paid my check and left.

That waiter did both himself and me a disservice. I lost out on a great dessert. The waiter lost out on a bigger tip on a bigger tab. And I left feeling strangely dissatisfied.

This is rare in the restaurant business since offering dessert is usually an integral part of wait staff training. But it happens a lot in other selling situations where a salesperson fails to ask all the right questions to complete the sale.

Takeaway: Are you asking every question and closing every sale completely? Or are you leaving out the extras that will be more satisfying to both you and your customer? How much of upselling and cross-selling do you cover in sales training?

Friday, November 13, 2009

System Fault

I don't try to be controversial. Sometimes I just can't help it.

I'll get to the point: The current sales management system in most
companies stinks.

Here's how it usually works:

You are hired for a sales job because you're a good talker. But the most
successful salespeople are good listeners.

You get a lot of training on your product but little training on sales.
(Most sales people know their product. The best are good listeners and persuasive.)

Despite everything working against you, you succeed at sales and are promoted to sales manager. But being a good salesperson doesn't mean you necessarily know how to manage or motivate people.

And my personal pet peeve...

You're so good at sales management you are promoted to VP of Sales & Marketing or a similar position. But you don't feel you know enough about advertising, public relations or promotions. You really just want to sell. So you outsource your ad, PR and promo work to a company like Sasso Marketing.

Basically, you are overwhelmed, overworked and overstressed.

Instead, what if we rewarded good salespeople with bigger bonuses and let them keep selling; hired good managers to manage sales; and hired marketers to manage marketing?

Takeaway: Sales, Marketing and Management are different disciplines. Some people are good at all three. Most of us are not.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Ask Why....

It never hurts to ask.

Toyota uses a "5 Whys" problem solving process. In a nutshell, it works
like this: to isolate a production problem, managers are taught to ask
"why" at least five times. In the end, by digging deeper, a better
resolution can usually be uncovered.

The same thing works in sales. Here's an example:

Prospect: We can't afford to advertise this year.

Salesperson: Why?

Prospect: We don't have the money.

Salesperson: Why?

Prospect: Sales are down.

Salesperson: Why?

Prospect: The economy is down.

Salesperson: Why?

Prospect: Nobody is buying anything.

Salesperson: Why?

Prospect: I don't know -- because nobody is advertising?

O.K. I'm being a little simplistic and self-serving here. (You don't need
to drill your prospect with “whys" like a robot.) But by asking several
clarifying questions, you might just get to the root of the real
objection, or the real problem.

Just be aware the purpose of this as a question-centered sales process is
not to be tricky or to "lead" your customer. It's to clearly ask questions
that help you and/or the prospect see the underlying issue.

Toyota is a leading company, in part, due to this simple yet powerful
questioning technique.

Takeaway: What can you gain from this process? What else? Why? Why? Why?