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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

One Size Does Not Fit All

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Like it or not, the holiday shopping season is officially here! The shift of in-store retail sales to online sales gets all the buzz these days, but according to the U.S. Commerce Department online retail sales were just 8.1% of the retail total in 2016. I’m sure that number will be up a bit when the 2017 numbers are final, but the overwhelming majority of retail sales still happen the same way they always have: in the store!
 
My wife likes to say, “How did our moms survive without Amazon Prime?” But, the truth is there is a major value proposition in-store shopping offers that online shopping never will: the in-store experience. Take clothing for example — feeling the softness of the fabric, judging the thickness of that winter coat, asking customer service for another size of jeans from the back, trying it all on, comparing the price of the sweater you like in one hand with the one you love in the other hand.  And finally, you get to see it all, on you, right there in the mirror in real time. 
Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

You Can Get Anything You Want in Life, If…

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Do you know the rest of the quote? Well, here it is… "you just help enough other people get what they want." So, who said this? Perhaps you might think this came from the leader of a social services organization, or perhaps from clergy or some Eastern philosopher. But that's not where this quote came from. It actually came from a long time, well known motivational speaker in the sales arena. That's right, some of you know it was the venerable Zig Ziglar who said that. Pretty heady words from a guy who got his start selling pots and pans door-to-door, eh?

Topics: customer focus Needs Analysis developing strengths Sales

Be Prepared, But ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ As the Story Unfolds

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I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid, specifically the sports-themed set. If you haven’t read or experienced one, it goes something like this… Your football team is in the regional championship game. Chapter One describes the build up to the game, and the summary of the 1st Quarter. Your team is already down by 10 points, and it’s 4th Down and 1 yard to go on the opponent’s 20-yard line. Do you kick the field goal, or go for it with a run up the middle? You get to decide, and the book instructs you which page to turn to based on your decision. It was like video games before video games!

It’s the only genre I loved… something about controlling my own destiny, having a choice, and following the story wherever it may go was thrilling to me. My advice to you is to treat every Hourglass Needs Analysis just like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Go into the conversation with as many of the chapters, and as much of the story line, written as possible. Your research on the business, the industry, and the market should give you a great list of prepared questions that will allow you to Establish Rapport, Identify Needs, Gain an Assignment, Analyze the Opportunity, and Contract Next Steps.

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

Dark Matter and the Sales Process

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Getting a meeting is one of the most difficult steps in building a business relationship. If you’re in sales, you need that meeting, commonly known as the needs analysis, to determine how you can help. When we ask prospects what their needs are, they often don’t know. And if they do, those needs only scratch the surface.

Scientists say that the universe we can observe is only about 5-10% of what is really out there. Why do they believe that? Because what they can see happening cannot be accounted for just by what they can see. Dark matter and dark energy haven't been proven, but scientists believe they exist because of the effects they see. 

For business owners, like scientists, what is visible and conscious is probably only a fraction of what is really going on. You want to be looking beyond what the prospect tells you they think they need, to what is really happening. 

So how can you know what is really going on?

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

Uncovering Real Needs Leads to Long-Term Client Relationships

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Every now and then it pays to stop and think about the big picture — why we do what we do and the importance of truly learning about our prospect and client’s needs. It’s so easy to talk about what we have to sell and why prospects should want to buy it, but taking the time to learn about the prospect will truly pay off in the end. 

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

You Can Get Anything In Life You Want If…

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. . . you just help enough people get what THEY want. I heard this truth many years ago from the legendary Zig Ziglar. It’s so simple and so powerful, it should be the basis for everything a sales professional does. But, simple and easy are two different things. Most sales professionals are so wrapped up in their products and services that nearly everything that comes out of their mouths sounds either like a monologue about features and benefits or a manipulative question designed to get the prospect to say they have a need which the salesperson’s product magically fills. 

But, what if you made this statement the basis for every move you made? If you really believe you can get anything you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want, how would that change… 

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales

3 Ways to Make Your Sales Team LOVE Role Play!

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The words "Role Play" immediately bring feelings of fear, dread, and anxiety for most salespeople. 

But why? 

That's easy. Most sales managers use role-playing as a form of punishment. We've all either done it or had it done to us.  

As a manager, we are often frustrated by a salesperson, team, or project when they fail to make the progress that we expect. We try all kinds of solutions: motivation, incentives and sometimes "threats," but when those don't work, what do we do? We summon the team for a meeting. A meeting where we ROLE-PLAY! That'll work! Right?

Well, it can, but only if we do it right! 

Topics: Needs Analysis sales management Sales

Curiosity Killed the Cat, but Saved the Sales Rep

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Have you ever noticed how many questions little kids ask? Every parent has a story to tell about the funny or embarrassing questions their kids have asked at the most inopportune times, all those occasions their child has scrunched up their little face and asked, “Why is Grandma so wrinkly?" or "Why do we have to go to school every day?" or "Why do I have to eat those gross green things?” If you don’t take control of the conversation, the third degree can go on indefinitely—because the curiosity in children is limitless!

Somewhere on the journey from childhood to adult professional, though, much of that unfettered curiosity gets left behind. I would argue that we have become a society of head-nodders where people are often afraid they’ll look dense if they ask a question. You’ve seen it—people nodding in agreement, as if they completely understand, when you are certain they don’t. Their fear of losing the respect of others actually keeps them from learning. 

As we grow up, we naturally become more self-conscious, so much of this may be related to those normal insecurities. Or, who knows, maybe all those times our parents said, "Stop asking so many questions!" curbed a bit of our inquisitiveness. Or maybe expressions like "curiosity killed the cat" have actually impacted our innate desire to pry.

Topics: new business development Needs Analysis Sales

What is Your Sales Strategy—Pitching Proposals or Providing Solutions?

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The best B2B salespeople follow a sales strategy that includes the use of a needs analysis meeting with new business prospects or existing customers. Do you?

Without a needs analysis the sales process breaks down transforming salespeople into peddlers—pitching, hoping and praying… pitching, hoping and praying… pitching hoping and praying! 

A better approach involves a conversation with customers and new business prospects to uncover business problems or opportunities. 

Topics: new business development Needs Analysis sales strategy Sales

Magic Needs Analysis Questions

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Like buried treasure, salespeople have been looking for a short list of magic needs analysis questions forever. So where is that list, and what are the questions on it? Not sure where the list is, but here is an insight into which questions can really get the prospect talking and revealing the trouble or growth opportunities that you might be able to address: Ask questions early on that are relevant to their unique situation today. You can build these questions easily with just a little research. For example… 

Topics: Needs Analysis sales strategy Sales