Featured ArticleHow to Be More Credible
So, how do we create credibility with someone we don't know, or don't have a history with? Here are some ideas.
1."It's not bragging if you've done it." If you've earned your stripes in your business or industry, don't hide that fact under a rock. Trumpet it to add to your credibility! Drop in statements such as,
"In my seven years in this business, I've learned that ...," or,
"I've worked with over 550 retailers, and I always find that..."
2. If you're not on commission, it doesn't hurt if they know that. Hey, I know most of...
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Quantify - Don't Qualify
|Productivity - Prospecting|
|Written by Tibor Shanto|
I recently facilitated a strategy session for a group of sales managers and directors. I was hired by the VP of sales to help bring focus and develop an action plan to help the attendees lead their teams through the challenges the company and all of us are facing. We use a process which we quickly allows us to get to specific agreed to objectives dealing with critical issues and action plans for achieving results.
One of the issues they faced was a lengthening sales cycle that was negatively impacting results and morale. As we worked through the issue and began to explore solutions, the team narrowed in on the need to create a greater sense of urgency with buyers by “better qualifying” leads/prospects.
While trying not to dominate the discussion, I wanted to ensure that the group was spending time and energy on things they can define for the teams, and more importantly action to deliver results. What became clear is that qualifying was a very “sell” side measure that may be of use in good times, but was of little value in down markets like the one we are facing now. Qualifying allows a seller to sift through “active” or “near active” buyers, but it does little to create activity, and by extension little to contract sales cycles.
In facilitating sessions like this you come to learn that the best and most lasting results are achieved when you really do stick to facilitating, that is guide the discussion not lead or overtly influence it; for the group to take ownership, the commitment has to emanate from them and their conclusions, not from the facilitators thrusting an agenda on them and then spending the day selling it to the group. It is best to introduce ideas in the form of questions and requests for clarification.
I bring this up, because I knew the group was on the right road, but on the wrong side of the street or the issue if you will. The discussion was getting bogged down in “qualifying” when it needed to get beyond that. Rather than a “sorting” process, they needed a method to more fully engage with their prospects for mutually productive results. Quantifying, applied properly, starts with and goes to the “buyers” issues and opportunities; it also removes the delineative nature of “qualifying”.
Quantifying delivers benefit to the seller, while at the same time does a lot for the buyer. By defining and establishing measurable impact, urgency can be created to take advantage of the impact, and cycles can be accelerated; the specific issues raised by the group. Quantifying allows you establish impact, determine the buyer’s will to act on that impact, and the decision process needed to take action. All of which make for a qualified buyer, or more importantly, a lack of any of the three should perhaps lead to disqualifying a prospect, and that is one thing sale people do not like to do, disqualify prospects.
Creating impact is not easy, but can be straight forward. It involves asking specific and relevant questions that will allow you to follow up impact questions, which then need to be quantified in the buyer’s terms. As an example, I like to ask sales leaders how much of their revenue comes from new versus existing clients. What ever number they provide is a quantity and therefore useful. I then follow up by asking how that tracks against their plan, another number. In fact two, as 99% of the time the actual varies from their plan, which means there is a gap, the second quantifiable number. This opens a whole range of impact questions, starting with how they actually measure things, what they attribute the gap to, the ripple effect on other goals, what is it preventing attaining the planned number, the cost related to that, the gain in solving it, both in the immediate and long term, etc.
As the process revolves around the prospect, they are more engaged and open up to discussing real issues and related impact of the status quo and alternatives. You can begin to gauge the individual’s willingness to act to take advantage of the impact. If they are not ready you can assess if you have more work to do, or you need to move on to other opportunities, (assuming you have some in the pipeline). If they are willing to act, what is their ability to make a decision, who else needs to be involved in the decision, can they bring them in to the process?
What is great is that as a facilitator I was able to use the method to steer the discussion, and move beyond just qualifying to fully quantifying. With a more purposeful approach to questions; the confidence to drill down past the surface, we developed a quantified action plan with clear objectives and impact.
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