Articles by Aaron Prickel

Slay Your Competition: Be a Product of Your Product

Friday, May 6th, 2011

In your local market you’re the top dog. Your competition keeps you under the microscope, does what you do right after you do it, and wonders why they can’t compete with you. It’s a good place for your competition to be—in your rearview mirror. On a larger national scale the same is not the case, and some of the larger competitors may even be close to your own backyard. On this scale you’re a small fish in a big pond, fighting hard for your market share. It’s the David vs. Goliath story for every piece of business you go after. It’s tough. You know your company is good and your product or service is top notch but, you just can’t compete with the huge companies. This is where most businesses stop. They can’t make the move to the next level. But you’re so close, so don’t stop now! There are three basic concepts that will get you where you want to be.

You should know that some companies will only work with the big companies. In my previous life I was in competition with Cisco. The running joke among the salespeople for my company was that even if the prospect didn’t know what they were buying or if it would even fix their problem, as long as it was a Cisco product the prospect would not get fired buying it. Some companies have it ingrained in their minds that only big companies will be able to accommodate them. It is your job as a salesperson to ask the right questions to uncover this quickly and move on before you waste your time and resources.

The first concept that you, your business, and your salespeople need to ooze is being a product of your product. Being a product of your product means you need to eat, sleep, and drink your product or service. For example: if you are in the commercial HVAC business your office had better have perfect temperatures and efficient running equipment; if you are in the Landscaping business your own lawn and office areas should have attractive curb appeal. The business owner typically understands this but it can be lost in the sales and the customer service part of the businesses. Every part of your team must have the same passion and drive for your company that you have. Your product truly helps people, and if your salespeople don’t help prospects discover this or convey that message as strongly as you, sales may be lost.

The second concept that must be employed to tackle industry giants is to fully understand what your competition can’t and won’t do. Ask yourself these questions, and then find out if these differences between your company and your competition are important to your prospects. Don’t assume the prospect will appreciate the differences. You must ask otherwise you may appear ignorant or arrogant. Are you selling on quality, service, and price? Guess what. They are, too. If you go down the path of informing prospects you have great service, quality, and price you will walk yourself into the commodity box since your competition is saying the same thing. The only difference may be that they have the economies of scale and actually have a better price, and now you are losing opportunities over a few dollars.

The third and final step is to become a truth seeker. As a salesperson it is important to understand that some of the questions that prospects ask us are not the real question. For example, if a prospect asks, “how many people do you have in your office?” the underlying question may be “are you credible enough and large enough to do the job?” Be cautious of questions that can put your company in a box and make it easy for a prospect to disqualify you. You MUST discover the truth in a nurturing way so you can answer the question honestly and diffuse any potential bombs that may be a problem before investing more time, effort, and resources.

Every day there are opportunities that smaller companies should be winning but are not. If you are not a product of your product, you don’t truly understand what separates you from your competition. And, by not becoming a truth seeker you will find yourself finishing second,which is the most expensive place to finish. Keep in mind the above three concepts, and you will find yourself winning the additional business that allows you to grow your company. Keep in mind, it isn’t the big that eat the small it is the fast that eat the slow. How fast is your company?

Aaron Prickel
Lushin & Associates, Inc.
317-218-1913
aaron@lushin.com

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Sell Today, Educate Tomorrow

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

For the past 20 years, we have seen a tremendous number of technological advances in our society. Most of these advances have provided a great benefit to consumers all over the world and help make our lives easier, less stressful, more enjoyable, and more accessible. With these advances, what companies can offer has become more complex. These increases in complexity can be a double-edged sword depending on how you “sell” your product. Breaking down your selling process into two phases when communicating with prospects and current clients makes this process simple.

The first phase is determining where your prospect falls on the overall knowledge of your product. Where they fall will change how you communicate with them. Ask yourself, has the prospect purchased your product or a similar product before? Is this the first round of meetings discussing the product or the second or third? Once you determine where they fall, shape your selling process to their knowledge base.

The second phase is communicating with your prospect on their level of knowledge about your product. A common mistake most salespeople make is they overload the prospect with product knowledge, showing off with how much they know about their product. If the buyer’s level of knowledge is low, and you are communicating with them as if it is high, problems can occur. Buyers may become intimidated by your knowledge and be scared away because your product seems overly difficult. Keep the conversation low level; go into detail if they ask and don’t be afraid to ask them where they fall on a scale from 1 to 10 on their understanding of your product.

To help ease the sales anxiety for you or your other sales people keep a few things in mind:

1.Product knowledge used at the wrong time is intimidating—Be careful not to bombard your prospect with jargon or buzzwords. This can be intimidating for prospects.  Prospects who are intimidated may feel embarrassed about asking questions (at the risk of looking ‘stupid’) or appear confident but inwardly have confusion. This drags out the sales cycle.  

2.Demonstrate your product or service without demonstrating your product or service—It takes a high level of sales skill, but you are 100% capable of demonstrating your product or service by answering questions instead of physically showing the product. You may still have a need to physically demonstrate a product or service at the end, but at this point in time the prospect will be heavily qualified and have earned your time.

3.Sell today, educate tomorrow—It is easy for sales cycles to be extended or for prospects to say “no” when they are confused. Sales people are very good at talking too much. Don’t answer unasked questions. Provide the information that is requested by your prospect (and, provide it ONLY if they are qualified to buy.) to help them make a decision. Once they have selected you and have paid for the product or service, you can now educate them about other benefits.

Aaron Prickel
Lushin & Associates, Inc.
317-218-1913
aaron@lushin.com

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Hot lead from Marketing…now what?

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

When looking at leads that come in from Marketing efforts, they can come in various flavors. What stands out with this particular topic is this is a HOT lead. A prospect who is actually excited to talk to you, they appear to be enthusiastic about your product or service and looking to make a change for various reasons. I will say this before I continue and I want you to remember this……positive prospects are the most dangerous prospects! Why? Sometimes we feel like we can cut corners because they are “excited” or “ready to buy.” We skip a step in our normal process or don’t ask the difficult questions because we don’t want to upset this HOT lead!

If handled incorrectly these positive prospects are the ones you think are in the bag, you send the quote and everything needed from your end and you never hear from them again. You scratch your head and say to yourself “I don’t get it, they said they loved what we had and were probably going to do something.” Sound familiar?

Here are a few things to help turn this hot lead into a client:

1. Set expectations early- discuss with the prospect what they are looking to get out of the initial call. Remember: you can’t get mad at a prospect for doing something you didn’t tell them they couldn’t do.
2. Find out their true compelling reasons to change- The change could be going from nothing to your product or from a competitor to your product. Regardless, figure out why they think they need to change and the impact the problems are having.
3. Determine decision process-understanding who and how they are going to decide is crucial. This will help you decide if the prospect is even a good fit from your end.

These are just a few small steps you can take to ensure you help turn a Hot lead into a paying client. Remember this key phrase as well: How you sell is a sample of how you solve. If your sales process is sloppy or you skip steps on the front end, what are they going to think about the back end of your business?

Aaron Prickel
Lushin & Associates, Inc.
317-218-1913
aaron@lushin.com

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Divide and conquer great strategy in war and sales

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

When a competitor has a strong hold on a prospect, or you and your company have little or no name recognition with the client, a divide-and-conquer sales strategy often is the best approach to success.

The United States is not a “base hit” society. We want the “home run.” The termite, however, brings down the oak tree, not the lightning bolt.

The divide-and-conquer strategy is one that is built on the premise that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It uses base hits to score runs. One of the following five approaches will get you on first base, and eventually to home.

Niche product or service
To get a foothold into a prospect account, you first must get the client to spend some dollars and time with you. The concept is to change your status from a vendor to an Advisor. To do this, you must put the client in a situation where he can make an easy decision to buy from you. Sell him a “niche” product or service. Once you are in, you then work to fortify the relationship and gain the client’s trust. This will open up other opportunities to grow the account.

Hostage speech
Another method is the “Hostage speech.” Tell the client that even though he is seeking bids for a specified product or service, there is a very low probability he will switch. The reason is that intellectually the client thinks he would move his business to another supplier, but emotionally he’s afraid because the risk is too great.
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