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Life of Buy: How Salespeople Sell Best in January

We’re already 3 weeks into the New Year, but are your teams still Holidazed from too much eggnog and ugly Christmas sweater parties? As a sales leader, I know January can be a difficult time for sales teams to recover; especially since prospects and customers tend to put off decisions until, oh, right now.

In this, the first blog in a new series entitled #LifeofBuy, I’ll delve into some typical sales rep scenarios teams face coming back from winter break, and share some techniques that you and your teams can use to get a jump-start on 2013.

Stay warm and personable. Even when it’s 8AM, 40 degrees, and gloomy.
Things are all over the board in January. The biggest complaint I hear is that there never seems to be an ideal time to approach someone for a decision. The reality is, everyone’s coming back from break. They’re still adjusting to getting back to the grind. Assuming you’ve already wished clients a safe holiday season, remind your team that this is still the time to touch their audience in a way that’s not directly sales-related.

Besides, which subject line would you rather read?

TypicalSalesRep@WorstCompanyEver.com: Hey, welcome back. Are you ready to talk about X products? Let me know!

Or:

SuperstarSalesRep@LifeOfBuy.com: Coming back from break is tough. Why don’t you draw a stickman to help ease the pain?

Every buyer is different. But the more a rep can feel out a prospect in a personable way, the more credibility they’re giving themselves. Remind your team to take the time to understand each individual buyer’s timeline, preferences, and needs. So that every time a prospect sees your number or your email they’re not thinking, What is ___ trying to sell me today?

You’re so vain. I bet you think this sale is about you.
I want to let you in on a secret: Deep down, everyone knows what you really want. You want to make a sale. You know it. Your prospects know it. Your kids know it. And your wallet knows it, too.

Okay, maybe it’s not that big of a secret. At the beginning of a new quarter, there’s pressure from the top to close more deals, faster — but in that haste, some sales reps forget to include the customer first. I tell my team that a closed deal all starts with what’s important to the prospect, not the sales rep. At PGi, we put a tremendous amount of emphasis on the discovery component of the sales call. Our desired outcome is to make a sale, but that isn’t what the prospect is worried about. When you ask questions and listen to their answers, you’ll learn about your customers’ or prospects’ values, and only then can you offer genuine solutions— do this, and your prospects will value you in return.

If you have one takeaway from this post, it should be this: If you win a deal on price, you will lose it on price. Up your game in 2013 by asking good questions and putting forth thoughtful solutions.

Finally: take advantage of the New Year euphoria.
Besides, it’s in your team’s best interest to find out what their prospects’ resolutions or personal business goals are. At this point in the quarter, these objectives tend to be ambitious, and easy to get excited about. That’s because companies have the remainder of the year to achieve them. The earlier it is, the more you can say, Great, this means I have X months to help you get there.

Use your renewed energy to analyze your own techniques as well. If you’re an inside salesperson, record your next appointment or demo and listen to the playback – are you asking good questions? Are you missing opportunities to articulate your companies value statement? What would you do differently on your next call? If you’re an outside salesperson, solicit feedback from your peers and leadership. Make them be candid with you. If you do these things, and strive to improve, 2013 will be your most productive year yet.

Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. People will be much more receptive to your message if you think in terms of what they want, and not what you want.

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of this new blog series. Do you think I missed a typical scenario for sales reps in January? Have something you want to add for next month’s blog? Tweet me @prante with #LifeOfBuy.

Image courtesy of nkls

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