SECRETS OF QUESTION BASED SELLING

“TO TELL THE TRUTH”

The current article addresses the fallacy of salespeople’s unethical practices of lying to clients.  In the SMM survey, about half of all salespeople lie to clients.  One such New York-based start up sold multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns to some of the world’s largest companies.  Yet, the sales force lived by such mottos as “If you didn’t lie you were fired” or “It always came down to careful wording and fudging numbers.”  Salespeople are driven to lie in order to achieve sales targets instead of focusing on what the customer really needs because companies demand that reps make quota or be fired.   “Some companies do whatever it takes to make money.”  These lay than affect many aspects of client relationships.  One such employee, Matt Cooper, received death threats from a client that didn’t get what his salesperson had promised to the client.  Dishonesty of a customer relationship eventually ensures a company will have zero customer loyalty.  So cooper decided to sell only what he knew worked, because he couldn’t lie anymore.  A manager can tell if a salesperson is lying by getting calls from customers, repeat business being down, salespeople being motivated by fear, recognition and rewards being based solely on numbers, and managers/executives lying too.  Cooper was being poorly managed.  Yet, sometimes it is the executives themselves that promote deception.  The SMM survey showed that respondents believe salespeople who are caught lying should be disciplined, but 51 percent have never actually punished anybody.  Another way to safeguard managing your team is by making smarter hiring decisions.  “The best predictor of future behavior is looking at past behavior.”  Finally, Cooper found that building relationships with clients is a better long-term strategy in both terms of financial well being and financial health of the company.

The article is applicable to what we have been talking about in class about developing a long-term customer relationship and creating a sales strategy.  The key driver of a sound sales strategy is that the leaders of the organization exhibit the values that they want employees to follow.  Effective salespeople are communicable, honest, and maintain customer follow-up to build customer rapport.  Salespersons need to be customer-based instead of company-oriented ultimately to achieve desired long-term customer relationships.  Trust components that we have also discussed in class factor into the ethical questions of this article.

I Personally feel that lying to customers is unethical.  If a salesperson really wants to develop a good relationship with someone, they need to instill trust by not lying.  People that I personally talk to as salespersons in the real world that lie make me want to have no relationship with them/do business.  I also agree with the argument that managers need to instill a sense of honesty in their team.  People follow by example and teaching good business practices leads to good business actions.

“Secrets of Question Based Selling”

The current article addresses how to effectively sell to different needs, biases, and experiences.  Question Based Selling (QBS) is a systematic approach used to your increase your profitability of success and decrease your risk of failure.  This executive summary divides the system into two parts.  First, the risk of rejection and learning how to disarm mismatching is always a major concern in the sales process.  One way to reduce the risk of rejection is to use the “Single Ping” Theory, or sending out feelers and seeing what kind of response you get in return.  It helps to send out signals and see what kind of response you receive.   The Single Ping Theory uses questions to advance the sales process while reducing the risk of failure.  The risk of mismatching, or the automatic tendency of people to counter what someone says, can be controlled by asking more questions and making fewer statements, building your credibility, and leveraging curiosity.  The second part introduces conversational layering by using questions to spark prospect’s curiosity in your product/service, earning credibility, building relationships, uncovering needs, make effective sales presentations, and securing a commitment to buy.  The article then breaks down each of these categories further.  You can create curiosity with QBS by asking provocative questions, giving partial information, giving glimpses of value, showing newness and exclusivity, and leveraging momentum.  Giving effective voice-mail messages can also be important in developing a customer’s curiosity.  One should leave voice-mail messages that have a question only the seller can answer, contain associative references, or have an example of something that made the seller think of the buyer.  The next step in conversational layering is to establish credibility; or to convey a favorable impression to the prospect about your trustworthiness, believability, and competence.  To help establish credibility, a seller should start with a more narrow scope and ask diagnostic questions first.  Once the seller has built some rapport with the customer, the seller can uncover the buyer’s needs with the SPIN model.  This will lead the buyer from basic information to more specific solutions by correctly identifying status, issue, and implication questions.  By using the SPIN Model in a correct disposition, a seller can ultimately uncover latent needs and transform them into active needs creating a sense of urgency for the buyer to buy.   After the seller has identified the solutions to the buyer, they must present the solutions.  A seller can use such presentation strategies such as divide and conquer, using stories, discussing gold medal versus German Shepherd buyers, using confirmation questions, and further explaining statements.  Finally, the seller must make a commitment to close the sale.  The seller can again use a variety of strategies for closing as well.  A seller should know the status of the opportunity of the sale, have a sale that is tit-for-tat with the buyer, reiterate the value of the sale, and give emotional reassurance.

The article is applicable to what we have been talking about in class on the material covered in Chapters 7 and 8 of our book, specifically the SPIN Model.  The SPIN Model consists of Situation questions, Problem Questions, Implication Questions, and Need-Payoff Questions to show benefits to the buyer.  Situation questions establish a context leading to problem questions so that the buyer reveals implied needs.  These implied needs are developed by implication questions, which make the buyer feel the problem more clearly, and acutely to lead to Need-Payoff questions.  Finally, the buyer states explicit needs allowing the seller to state benefits, which are strongly related to sales success.

I Personally feel that the QBS system discussed in this article does work.  When I asked more questions during my individual sales presentation, it was easier for me to transition the buyer’s needs into my solution selling points.  I do feel that by asking the right questions at the right time, you can control the sales process from beginning to end.  I also feel that by asking questions you also show the buyer that you are empathetic and ultimately care about their business.  Different personal selling techniques can be used to close a sale, but QBS selling seems to be a more personable approach.  Through my experiences, negotiations are becoming more face-to-face then just the numbers.  It is important to develop a solid customer relationship with the seller because who wants to buy from someone who they can’t trust?  Not me!

The Art of Pitching

– They explain how the new business will make a difference to customers and provide a compelling alternative to competitors. This means showing a new way of doing things to shake up the market, and explaining it in short, sharp, entertaining fashion.

– They are grounded in expert knowledge of the industry. If you are going to launch anything – a new social network, a new bank, a new fashion line – you need to demonstrate a solid understanding of the market and how you can disrupt it.

– They have a realistic plan. While high concepts are fine, pitches need to illustrate how a company could work practically. This means legal, financial and operational plans. It’s tough to include details in a short presentation, but the most engaging pitches manage to combine passion with pragmatism.

– They are in it for the long haul. Nothing stays the same, and business changes faster than most things. Pitches latching on to the flavour of the month are all well and good, but they need to communicate how the business could grow sustainably and develop in the future.

– They show their strongest hand. Pitching is all about selling your idea and your business as an exciting place to be. Highlight the strengths – especially the talented people who are working on the project – and don’t be afraid to talk up your prospects.

TAKING YOUR SALES PROCESS INBOUND

Inbound Sales-giving them that relevant personal delightful experience that is driven by their needs and happens on their timeline is what an inbound approach to sales ia ll about.

RESEARCHING LEADS/PROSPECTING

  1. Company information-company size, annual revenue, what they sell, who they slle fot. Role of lead within company, key players
  2. Read About Their Industry-company news, new funding, are they hiring, territory expansion, upcoming events, LinkedIn profiles, shared contacts, shared groups
  3. Check Social Media-What networks are they on?
  4. Lead Intelligence-what did they download, what pages did they look at, what emails are they read, what is resonating with them

Techniques for establishing commonality: sports, family/dogs, education, and cities

  1. What are you looking for help with?
  2. I’ve researched your company and have a few tips and suggestions for you , but first wanted to understand what you were looking to learn more about, and how I can be a great resource to you.

Positioning statement-an expression of how a give product, service, or brand fills a particular consumer need in a way that its competitor’s don’t.

Voicemail, then Email Sales Strategy

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