Thursday, 11 September 2008

Do you have to be smart to be good at selling ?

I'm helping a client recruit some new sales people. As part of the process we're using various psychometric and sales skills tests. We have one candidate who has a proven successful track record and seems to tick all the boxes.... except that his IQ comes out at 75. An IQ of 100 is average, so 75 is significantly below average, putting him in the bottom 5% of the population. Now, I generally work on the assumption that for a salesman to be consistently successful he needs an IQ of at least average (otherwise, most people that he'll be trying to sell to will be 'smarter' than him).
In this case however, the role is simple commodity products, so no great challenge in learning about the products. His score on the sales skills test came out good in all areas and his face to face skills seem good (at least in an interview).
One view is that in this case, experience, previous success, sales skills and social skills should out-weigh a low IQ. What do you think ? Would his low IQ stop you giving him the job ?

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Monday, 21 July 2008

web sites that dont let you buy !!!!!!

I want to rent a camper van for a few days.....searched on the web, found what looked like a good site to search for and book one, entered all my details, hit 'get quote' and look what happened .....
ADODB.Recordset error '800a0e79'Operation is not allowed when the object is open./enquiry2.asp, line 325.
As well as wasting my time I find this really sad....the company has invested significant time, energy and money on creating this web site. They had a prospect ready and willing to buy and they have just lost him. I don't really know why it gave this error and I shouldn't need to - I could phone them up, but I will just go to one of their competitors instead, because it will be easier and faster. The web is a great way to quickly promote your business and get customers. It is also a great way to loose them very quickly !
The morale of the story - make sure you get some potential customers to test the site and test it in different browsers.

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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

How much would you spend to get a few more customers ?

Out of interest I recently responded to an email marketing message, offering to help me easily earn £150k plus per annum .......something duly arrived in the post.

It was a fat package containing many pages of bumf which seemed to describe a secret method to win lots of customers for anyone selling some sort of professional service. It looked like it consisted of a few template documents and some training. No price was mentioned however.

I didn't respond to the offer of a free face to face 'assessment' to see if I might be allowed on the scheme. Over the next couple of weeks, more mail arrived, each a similar fat package of paper. Still not easy to understand what was being offered and (again) still no mention of price.

Having engaged my curiosity, I phoned the number to ask one simple question - 'how much is it ?'. I was fully expecting not to be able to find out very easily at all and to have to agree to meet someone to be 'assessed'.

To my surprise I was given the price on the spot (£18,000 plus) without even being asked who I was !

This raises a couple of interesting questions; how did they know I wasn't a direct competitor doing some market research, why didn't they want to get my contact details, how much is a new customer worth (to justify the spend, assuming their 'magic' works as claimed and lastly does anyone buy this stuff when sold like this ?

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

I'm talking but nobody is really listening!

I discovered a great sales tool today that is called Dragon NaturallySpeaking. While I've been aware of speech recognition software before, I,ve always thought of it as inaccurate and a bit of a toy. But I now find that I have to produce reports quite frequently for clients and whilst my typing is okay it's not great and it was taking much more time than I thought it should.

I then had the brainwave of dictating my reports and sending them by e-mail to a remote audio typist, who produces the first draft for me. Then I had my Eureka moment and thought 'why not have a look again at voice recognition software ?.

Accuracy now is is almost as good as good audio typist and of course it has the advantage that it is always there when needed, doesn't need coffee breaks and pretty much does what it's told.

However the challenge in using this tool is that I feel a bit stupid speaking to my laptop. It's a very strange experience talking when there is nobody listening or replying to you. Logically I know why I am doing it, but emotionally it all feels very odd, psychologically I know it will take some time for this to feel anything like normal.

At the moment I feel very self-conscious as I dictate this blog but I can already see that this could save me a lot of time and of course time is money. So if you're looking to increase your sales, make yourself some more time to spend on things that make a difference, like calling on more prospects, or spending time with customers, rather than glued to the keyboard.

Hopefully over time maybe even by tomorrow it won't feel quite so strange to be chatting to my laptop any more, and I know now what it's like to feel that I'm talking but nobody is really listening!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

How to win more customers

I've had two sales experiences recently that brought home how the right
sales processes and managing expectations make all the difference.

Case one - I needed to replace a couple of double glazing units,
courtesy of a suicidal pigeon and an over enthusiastic lawnmower.

I found a local supplier on the net, they came round to measure up and
quote. The sales person they sent didn't seem to know how to measure up
properly and kept trying to persuade me to visit their showroom, which
I explained was of no interest to me. They agreed to email me the quote
the same day. One week later, no email, and a glossy brochure and the
quote arrive in the post. I get a phone message asking if I'd like to
visit the showroom and place the order. I haven't bought from them as I
have little confidence that the units supplied will be the correct size
or that they will fit them professionally.

Case two - I needed a spare part for an old, fairly rare, Honda
motorbike.Trawled the net to find someone who listed having spare for
this model. Found a supplier, phoned them, spoke to someone who was able
to refer to the parts catalogue while we spoke and confirmed, to my
surprise, that they had the part in stocks. I placed the order at about
4pm expecting to see the part, if I was lucky, within five days or so.
The part arrives in the post the next day at 8.30 am !

In case one, commitments were made that were not followed through,
they didn't listen to me and the sales processes is broken. I'd never
use this company and I still need to get those windows fixed, so they
lost my sale and any potential referrals..

In case two, a good sales process was followed and my expectations were
exceeded. I've recommended this supplier to several other people.

The conclusion - get the sales processes right and exceed you customers
expectations to win more customers.

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Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Herd Mentality at the speed of light ?

Yesterday's and today's roller-coaster on international stock exchanges are great examples of herd mentality that works against most peoples interests.

The average private investor buys when prices are already high and rising (near the top of the cycle) and sells when prices are low and dropping rapidly (near the bottom of the cycle). Exactly the opposite of tactics that would be more likely to make money (buy low and sell high).

This happens because we are social animals and often feel obliged to follow the herd, regardless of whether or not there is much logic in what it is doing. The herd in this case is driven by sentiment and confidence, rather than anything very rational. Add in a bit of supply and demand economics and automatic trading by computer systems at the speed of light and hew presto we've created a monster robotic wild animal that is leading the herd, sometimes straight over a cliff.

So how can you use this to your advantage ? Easy - just get your happy customers to do it for you by asking them for testimonials and making them highly visible to the rest of the 'herd'. Even better, look for the movers and shakers, the leaders of the herd and if like what you sell, the rest should follow.


How much should you charge ?

Recent research has shown that, in some situations, people actually like to pay more !
The study was based on peoples preferences for the taste of different wines. Using a technique which lets us see which parts of the brain are most active at any time it was found that the 'pleasure centre' in the brain was more active when people where drinking more expensive wine.

Not surprising you might say, as more expensive wine usually tastes better ?

The twist in the tail (or should that be the twist in the corkscrew ?) was that the wines apparent prices had all been mixed up randomly, so there wasn't any real connection between displayed price and quality of the wine.

So when you are next setting some prices, bear in mind that your customers might well be happier if you charge them more !