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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Silence is Golden: 3 Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills

improve listening skills manager"Silence is golden"—usually this is said right after your children leave the room and you finally have a moment of peace.

As much as that is a "funny" joke for parents, the concept of silence is a rare one in today's world. Are we ever "silent?" And when I say "silent," I don't mean staring at our phones for hours at a time.
 
In the context of sales, silence has another meaning. Silence is an opportunity to stop talking, be quiet, focus, and listen. Yes, I know this is a radical concept for those us that are gregarious, loud-mouth, salespeople.
 
How many times have you gone on an appointment with an account executive, expecting to hear your rep ask questions and then wait to hear the client's answers, only see them never stop talking! They are so excited to a) have an appointment and b) thrilled to "pitch" their product that they never take a moment to listen to what the client has to say. It's horrible, and it happens all the time. What a waste of new business appointment! How can you sell someone anything if you don't know or understand what they want to achieve? You can't.
Topics: Needs Analysis sales performance prospecting

How to Ask Better Needs Analysis Questions

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Have you ever set a goal for yourself to run a race? Whatever the motivation, you decided to do it. It may have been on a whim, but nonetheless you realized there was more to it than showing up the morning of the race and running. You probably found a race that suited your ability, recruited a friend to join you in the adventure, set a training schedule, and off you went. By no means did you show up for registration the morning of with no prep at all. Well, I hope not anyway. If you did, it probably didn’t go as well as you would have liked. You may have looked back and asked yourself what you could have done differently to change the outcome. I’m guessing the answer is, almost always, more training so you were better prepared.

Running a race without adequate training is no different than showing up to a first time meeting with a new prospect unprepared. Yet, it happens. Preparing yourself to ask better needs analysis questions will help you not only finish the race, but to finish with the intended outcome: to get an assignment from the prospect.  

Where to start? Here are a few suggestions for how to ask better needs analysis questions.

Topics: Needs Analysis

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. 

Topics: new business development Needs Analysis Sales

Needs Are Important, Results Are What Matter

needs-resultsWe all have needs, and those needs drive us to spend time and money addressing them. In sales, we count on the needs of our prospects and clients to motivate them to buy. For decades, it has been a good sales process to focus on client needs. Needs are good, but they are not the complete picture.

Learning about client needs used to set the better salespeople apart from the package pushers.

On a personal level, we don’t focus on our needs to solve a problem. We focus on what we want. When we’re hungry, we focus on getting food, when we’re tired we focus on getting some sleep, and if we need to hit a goal this quarter, we focus on getting the next sale.

Topics: Needs Analysis sales performance

6 Tips to Help You Secure a B2B Sales Appointment

secure a B2B sales appointmentJust getting the appointment can be one of the most difficult steps in the entire sales process. Having a referral or industry success story can make this task a little easier (so, use them if you have them). But, what do you use if you don’t have either at your disposal? What if you just can't get the appointment?

Topics: valid business reason Needs Analysis sales process

5 Ways to Show a New Business Prospect You Care

show a new prospect you careThe things you do are often more powerful than the things you say. 

New business prospects are more likely to increase their engagement level when they know a seller truly cares about them and their business. Think about your own buying habits—are you more likely to do business with someone who cares about you compared to a slick talking salesperson who only cares about making a sale? 

Here are five things to do before and during a first meeting with a new business prospect to demonstrate you care:

Topics: Needs Analysis sales strategy prospecting

A 4-Step Needs Analysis Process that Really Works

4 step needs analysisIf you are struggling to uncover desired business results that lead to cash, perhaps it is time to modify your needs analysis process. Here’s a new model that is getting rave reviews — feel free to take it for a test drive during your next discovery meeting with a new prospect.

Topics: Needs Analysis sales strategy sales process prospecting

A Great Way to Establish Trust & Create Value: Think Like an Owner

sales establish trust create valueGetting that first appointment with a new business prospect is difficult because most sellers do not take the time to establish trust and create value in the mind of the prospect.

Unknown salespeople do not have the best reputation in the minds of new business prospects because of the less than honest actions of some sellers. An essential element to overcoming this hurdle is establishing trust and creating value—one way to do this is to think like an owner. 

Topics: valid business reason new business development Needs Analysis prospecting

Finally… The Answer to the Unanswered Philosophical Sales Question

answer to sales questionWhat came first, the chicken or the egg?
No doubt you have heard this question. No doubt the debate continues.

Here’s is the chicken-and-egg version as it relates to sales:
What leads to more cash, more appointments, or more assignments from set appointments?

Topics: Setting Appointments new business development Needs Analysis prospecting

Set the Stage for Success: Prepare Yourself AND Your Prospect

prepare your prospect before a meetingIMAGINE THIS: After countless attempts to connect with a prospect, your persistence has paid off. You did it! You've got the meeting on the calendar, you are feeling great! Now, you have one chance to make a great first impression, and it needs to count. Luckily, you have a few days to prepare so you can ensure the meeting runs smoothly and the prospect views you as a trusted and valued partner.

While it’s important to prepare yourself for the meeting, you also want to prepare the prospect. This is one thing that salespeople often overlook prior to a meeting. Most prospects are going to expect you to come in and tell them why they need to buy your product or service. It’s up to you to go out of your way to be sure they know you are different and you are not going to do that. Don't just prepare yourself... also prepare your prospect.

Topics: Proposal Needs Analysis successful sales meetings sales strategy prospecting