Three Steps to A More Successful Sales ProcessThere is a saying that gets circulated often…“Who calls anymore?”

The days of the cold sales call and door-to-door salesmen are long gone.

In fact, our prospects don’t even want to talk to someone until they are very close, if not completely, ready to make a purchase.

The sales process must evolve accordingly, of course. Now we create content to get found online and to inform that buyer. We insert ourselves into their purchase path with the answers to their questions. Your content moves that prospect through the sales funnel to a warm lead and then to qualified lead, and eventually to a buying customer.

Knowing this, the sales team is now dealing with a customer at the bottom of the sales funnel. Your content has qualified them to the point of the traditional "sales call." Now, they must be prepared for a very informed customer on the cusp of purchase, and be able to make the most of that final contact to be able to close the deal.

Three Steps to A More Successful Sales Process

Lynette Ryals provides some tips to do that in her recent article for Making the Most of Your Sales Call, in the Harvard Business Review. While she calls it out for B2B specifically, these tips apply to any business sector:

Our prospects are now more informed than ever before. They are armed with your information, as well as your competitors. The most important thing is to respect that knowledge and respect their time.

Provide content that gets them to the point where they want to buy from you. By the time they’ve reached your sales team, they are a qualified lead, and just need that final hand hold over the finish line to happiness ever after.

What do you think? Have you seen the shift in your industry?

Three Don'ts in Closing New BusinessMost of us climb the corporate ladder, or build our own companies, because we're really good at our craft. But no one tells us we eventually have to become really good at sales or business development or whatever you'd like to call it.

Admittedly so, though, once you close your first deal, the adrenaline rush is hard to beat. But, on the flip side, it's equally disappointing if you don't close a new business.

Sometimes we're taught what to do and what not to do; other times we learn by trial and error.

Three Don'ts in Closing New Business

John Grizz is here to help. He writes the, "Three Things You Never Want to Do – If You Want to Close."

If you work proactively to better establish your relationship with your customers or clients, you will see consistent improvements in your sales and land new business.

Not sure how to do this?

Dru Phelps, author of How to Audit Your Performance: A to Z Tools sums up four essential rules in enhancing the customer relationship:

  1. Know thy customer;
  2. Align internal support;
  3. Measure feedback for results-based improvement; and
  4. Find your success story.

If you follow and apply these rules, your organization will benefit in the long run.

Aftermarket Benefits from U.S. Autos Popularity OverseasJames Guyette of "Aftermarket Business" reported that shipments of U.S. vehicles to overseas buyers, above and beyond direct automaker exports, have reached at least 25,000 to 40,000 vehicles annually.

Buyers are seeking vehicles unavailable in most countries outside the United States, such as large SUVs, restored classic cars, and customized vehicles.

How can aftermarket businesses capitalize on this growing trend?

If you have the resources to expand your business this year, consider one of these possible opportunities:

Help Private Sellers Stand Out

Entrepreneurs across the United States are taking advantage of overseas demand and marketing their vehicles worldwide. One common business model: Purchase repossessed vehicles at auction that are low mileage and not available in countries where U.S. cars are in high demand.

According to Aftermarket Business, these areas include: "Lithuania and the other Baltic States, Latin America, Scandinavia, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, especially Israel, which has recently relaxed its import regulations."

As this business model becomes more and more common, businesspeople are struggling to capture overseas shoppers' attention. Reach out to resellers in your community and ask them what finishing touches their buyers have most appreciated.

Explore opportunities to work with these resellers to provide the aftermarket parts most desired by their buyers. If you can offer wholesale or near-wholesale pricing to high volume resellers, you will help them stand out while diversifying your own business. Best of all, if your products make a particular impact on buyers, you will create instant overseas demand for your brand specifically.

This could help you develop export relationships now and in the future.

Do It Yourself

If your aftermarket business includes a shop with the resources and equipment to restore and customize cars, it may be well worth considering selling overseas as a sideline. Many aftermarket companies supplement earnings by keeping a few "project cars" on site to provide work for mechanics when business is slow. If you do this, consider exploring overseas sales options.

With a little research on customer preferences outside the United States, you may be able to gear restoration efforts specifically toward buyers in other countries. Because not everyone is willing or able to cope with international shipping, you will be competing against a smaller crowd to sell your restored vehicles. If you are exporting other products already, you can likely negotiate a shipping agreement that will provide a cost advantage when compared to private sellers who pay full price for international shipping.

Watch Out for "Too Good to Be True" Offers

Take great care to avoid scams and fraud when selling overseas. Many auto sales websites recommend that sellers do not consider any offers from outside the United States. This is due to the overwhelming number of criminals attempting to pay for vehicles using fraudulent money orders. Always use a trusted payment method, such as an escrow service.

How to Build a Sustainable BusinessHere’s a question every business owner considers at some point in their career: “How do I build a sustainable business?”

The answer isn’t simple or quick or easy, but Joe Worth, vice president of operations and partner at B2B CFO says, “the answer is the same for any small business, whether it’s looking to cash out in 50 months or 50 years.”

In a recent article for Entrepreneur, Worth lays out what he calls “a basic checklist” to build a sustainable business.

A Sustainable Business is Financially Strong

Having financial controls in place reduces the possibilities of theft or fraud and enables you to make effective decisions about the future. “Until you know where every penny’s going,” Worth says, “your business isn’t on sound footing.”

Reduce or Eliminate Distractions

Your job as CEO or business owner is to focus on the future—“building relationships, developing new products and services and overseeing other big-picture ideas.”

But you can’t attend to these vital functions if you’re distracted by cash flow issues or hiring and firing employees.

“Hire trustworthy and smart people to handle the details,” Worth says. “They’re worth it.”


Whatever products or services you’re providing, keep thinking about ways to diversify your offerings. “Spreading sales over more customers, product lines, or markets … enhances opportunities for growth.”

Document Business Processes

Worth says, “I often tell owners if they want to be a bigger company eventually, act like one now.”

This means you have to maintain accurate and comprehensive documentation of your business processes.

Strive for Continuous Improvement

An inefficient business is almost guaranteed to fail sooner, rather than later. Improve efficiencies wherever possible, Worth says. “Every dollar of improvement here will result in more dollars of value, whether it’s four years from now or 40.”

Guard Your Intellectual Property

Think it’s too costly to hire an IP attorney? If so, your business could be at risk of losing valuable rights for trademarks, names, designs, technologies, etc.

Maintain Equipment and Upgrade Where Necessary

The technology used in your business must be maintained because, without it, what do you have?

As Worth notes, you should always have access to funds “that can be used to take advantage of technological improvements, expand operations and keep everything in running order.”

Be a Fair and Inclusive Employer

Obviously, a high-performing team is a must-have for the longevity of your business. Put HR policies in place that increase employee retention, rather than diminish it.

Don’t Compete on Price

Becoming known for undercutting the competition is a non-starter, Worth says. Not only does it destroy your profit margins, “you want customers to choose you for your superior products and services, not because you’re cheapest.”

Businesses that focus on the quick buck rarely last long.

Instead, a company whose owner charts growth and progress in years, not months, “is a much easier ship to steer.”

What are you doing to build a sustainable business?  


No Emotional Intelligence Costs You SalesEmotional intelligence—“the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions and use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”—could be a great resource for your sales team. If they lack emotional intelligence, your salespeople might make errors that cost you sales.

So says Bruna Martinuzzi, the founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd, and a contributor to OPENForum.

She lists six key mistakes she’s seen, with advice on how to avoid them.

No Emotional Intelligence Means No Emotional Connection

We buy from people we like—not a news flash, right?

But too many salespeople focus on closing a sale, rather than on forging a relationship with prospective clients. The ability to connect and create long-lasting relationships is at the core of emotional intelligence. A salesperson who enters the relationship “with the mindset of doing service” will more often make that all-important emotional connection.

According to Martinuzzi, doing service means “going out of our way to match a customer’s needs, making ourselves available … and taking personal responsibility for anything that happens, especially after the sale has been made.”

Listen More, Talk Less

Salespeople are often trained to speak over a potential customer’s objections, to get the sales pitch in before anything else happens. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes—do you think you’d like to be subjected to this approach?

Instead, Martinuzzi says, be aware of the affect your pitch has: “Watch for body language cues that signal when they've had enough.”

Emotional intelligence means you can ask prospects these key questions, and listen to the answers:

One more tip: Take notes while you listen. Don’t rely on memory or you’ll be sure to forget something.

Lack of Self-awareness

Each salesperson has a unique style, but if they’re unaware of it, they can’t gauge the affect they have.

Researchers writing in the Harvard Business Review identify several types of behavior that work against closing a sale:

Your salespeople need to know their sales style so they understand what’s effective, and what works against them.

Inability to Adapt

A salesperson with a high emotional intelligence IQ can adapt to unforeseen situations, and is open to new ways of doing things.

Lack of Authenticity

“When we use scripted sales pitches, we lose some of our authenticity,” Martinuzzi says.

Potential clients are generally alert to any false notes or insincere language in their dealings with salespeople. The most effective approach is to learn everything you can about the client before you meet with them, then “forget the script and speak from the heart about what you do and what you can offer.”

Emotional intelligence means genuine wins over faking it every time.

Where’s the Humility?

A salesperson who acts as if he has all the answers and nothing to learn from the potential client’s own experience is failing to make an emotional connection.

As Martinuzzi puts it, “Wanting to be the smartest person in the room rarely works.”

Successful sales happen when you connect with what matters to people. And what matters to people are emotions.

What sales mistakes have you seen or experienced, as they relate to lack of emotional intelligence?


sales-tactics-201x300You offer a great product or service, but somehow your sales team cannot close the big deals when it should. The problem might be your salespeople are so focused on the sales pitch they are not explaining in a way that makes sense to customers.

One thing is for certain—customers won’t buy what they don’t understand.

So says Lee LeFever, founder of Common Craft, and a contributor to HBR Blog Network. He contends we have to “think differently about how we explain ideas” during the sales process.

He likens the sales process to the famous line from Glengary Glen Ross: Always be closing. But suggests we change it to "always be explaining." He says effective explanations must come if you want to make the sale.

Think about how often you go into a meeting, armed with your curse of knowledge and your company jargon. The prospect rarely wants to ask you what you mean when you say you want to "socialize an idea" because they do not want to look dumb, but they will remember how you made them feel after you leave.

Create the Close through Effective Explanations

LeFever goes on to say how important it is to make prospects feel like they are the smartest people in the room:

Understanding the basics of explanation can serve as a remedy for The Curse of Knowledge and help us think differently about how we explain ideas. This is especially true in the sales process. Whether it is on the convention floor, in the executive suite, or during a product presentation, honing your explanation skills convinces your audience that you understand their needs.

Following are six tips to create effective explanations. (more…)

Use Your Elevator Pitch to Turn Strangers into ClientsNo matter what product or service you offer, it’s essential you have an elevator pitch—a way to explain your offering to strangers in a few brief sentences.

Being able to quickly and clearly communicate what you do increases the odds that a chance encounter might land you a prospective customer.

Roxana Bahar Hewertson, CEO of Highland Consulting Group, says, “If you can’t say who you are and what you do in a few sentences, you don’t know who you are and what you do and neither will anyone else.”

This is critically important, since you never know when you’ll bump into someone you might otherwise never hope to meet—and that’s when you must seize the moment to make your mark.

Julie Bawden-Davis, a contributor to Open Forum, enlists the advice of experts in crafting an elevator pitch “that leaves a lasting, positive impression.” (more…)

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