On a recent 710 WOR “Mind Your Business” broadcast, Yitzchok Saftlas (YS) spoke with guest Adam Lieberman (AL), president of Lieberman Training, on the subject of sales.
YS: How has the salesforce changed over the last several years?
Adam Lieberman: Fifteen to twenty years ago, the way to get new accounts and to build a business was by being proactive. You could cold call, direct market to people, advertise, and do many other things to proactively reach customers. The world is upside down in terms of what it was 20 years ago. Now, people are doing a lot of searching and shopping, investigating what they want online, before they even reach out to someone.
The mistake I see companies make is that they will do a lot of ads (whether it be Facebook ads, SEO ads, etc.) and try to capture customers via the internet and social media platforms. If customers are only concerned about getting the cheapest price, at that point there’s not a lot of sales skills involved. Ultimately, the cheapest price will win. So, the only way to differentiate yourself in this crowded minefield of all these consumers looking for a new products and services is to set yourself apart from everybody else.
One important way to do that is to have a rea; conversation with your customer. I train sales leaders that if you’re going to do marketing to customers, it must be more like a sales funnel. If you’re trying to market your product solely on a website or video where the call to action is to “click to buy now,” that will only work if you’re selling a unique product and it’s not a crowded space where you’re competing on the cheapest price. But most companies don’t fall into that category and need to have a real conversation. The best way to ensure that is to make your call to action a conversation with customer service, a salesperson, or somebody else inside the company. The marketing is not to sell the product, but to find out more about how you can help the person buy the product or service.
YS: Ho does one use that conversation to leaf to a closed deal?
Adam Lieberman: It’s very important to keep in mind that even if you had an engaging conversation with someone and they want to fill out their information, when you call them back, the enthusiasm they had when they filled out your form has evaporated many times over. Sometimes, as high as 60% of the people you’re calling back have no recollection of filling out the form, let alone having an engaging conversation. When you call somebody back, you have to reignite that enthusiasm. My best tip on how to do that is to ask questions.
There’s a corny saying, but it’s so true, “Selling isn’t telling; selling is asking.” When you’re talking to someone who filled out a lead form or responded to a campaign, the key is to immediately engage by asking questions. “Thank you for reaching out to us. Why is now a time you’re looking for this product or service?” “Do you mind if I ask you a couple of quick questions to see the best way I can help you?” “We saw you responded to our advertisement online, social media post, or online form. What made you respond to what we’re marketing? Is it more curiosity or is it because you’re looking to actually move forward?”
The most important thing about these questions is that they engage the customer and convert that logical interaction to an emotional based conversation. That’s the only way you can separate yourself in this crowded field right now. People are always competing for the cheapest product, the fastest delivery, but if you want to break in, that only happens when you can ignite somebody’s emotion.
YS: You have a saying that “it’s easier to go from 1-10 than from 0-1” Can you explain that?
Adam Lieberman: Whenever anyone is trying to break into sales as a career, the hardest thing to do is to get the first account. Once you get that first account, the next nine will be a lot easier. So, the most important thing for any company or salesperson offering a product or service is to try to convince anybody into just placing a small order. Because once they’ve done that, that barrier has shattered. Even if it’s one dollar. The fact is once they place ab order and receive something from you, that connection has been made.
Now, if you’re trying to get a customer to engage with you and they say, “I’m currently dealing with somebody else.” You can respond, “I understand that, and I’m not looking for any business that I don’t deserve. But times are very tricky, and at a moment’s notice, you may need somebody else. I don’t want any business that I don’t deserve. But I do want to just give you a chance to engage with me. Give me just a chance to get you just a sample of what we offer. You can always increase that if that’s your desire. But from your perspective , there’s nothing more valuable than having a backup supplier or service that can give you what you need. And the best way to do that is to start right now. At a moment’s notice, we can give you anything you need down the road.”
YS: Many times, a company will challenge this new salesperson, hoping they’ll cut the price. What should a salesperson do in the situation?
Adam Lieberman: People always feel like they have to compete on price. But again, if it’s only about price they will just Google the cheapest option. Every time there’s something else in the equation, whether it’s a different type of product or salesperson that can deliver better service, it’s not just about price. But salespeople get very thrown, because the consumer says, “I want it cheaper.” They get sucked into the price war, and then it’s all about price. And ultimately, a lot of times you can’t compete on price. So, I never compete on price. I think it’s a mistake. I tell people, “We’re coming to you with our best foot forward. We’re giving you the best price upfront. However, in addition to a great price upfront, we provide all these ancillary benefits you can’t get from the cheapest product out there.” People don’t care what they pay. They care what they pay in relation to what they think they could have or should have paid. Meaning, people just don’t want to feel like they’re being taken advantage of. How many times have you bought something, found out your friend got it $10 cheaper, and had a knot in your stomach the rest of the day? Conversely, if you bought something and found out somebody paid more than you, you’ll feel great about your decision. Consumers are programmed to always haggle and push back. But it takes a lot of pressure off a customer if they know upfront that this is the price. I your price is $50, and someone says, “I can get that for $45,” my response is, “If you look hard enough, there are guys out there selling this for $40, maybe $35. However, the reason our price is $50 is because of these other variables.”
YS: For a typical B2B (business to business), what should the sales funnel look like?
Adam Lieberman: Many times, when a salesperson starts, they’re doing 12 different things. They’re getting engaged with customer, getting the order, following up on shipment, dealing with complaints, filling out paperwork, following up with the billing department, etc. They’re doing a lot of activities during the course of the day that don’t involve selling. So, the first thing I tell people who want to grow their sales teams is if you have a top producer, let’s call him Charlie, don’t find another Charlie, just make Charlie more productive. Have Charlie do more things that actually bring in revenue and create sales. It’s the 80/20 rule. Typically, 80% of your time or effort will bring in 20% of something. And vice versa 20% of effort will bring in 80% of something. A lot of times a salesperson will find he spends 20% of his time in sales and 80%
in non-sales related activities. So, the key is bringing in other people for customer service, billing, posting orders, etc. Make Charlie more effective, more productive, by focusing solely on sales.
YS: When does it make the most sense to consider growth or partnership?
Adam Lieberman: I think there’s a major misnomer when people try to grow and build a business. People will come with a new product or service they want to launch and need capital to grow or start their business. One thing I’m faced with often is trying to advise people if it makes sense to take on a partner or go into debt. Obviously, there’s no “one size fits all.” It would be irresponsible to say you must always do A or B. But generally, the best partnerships I’ve seen survive brough people to the partnership with a different skillset or some other contribution. Someone has proverbial great idea, and it needs capital to actually make his business come out of the starting gate and be successful, and he brings on a dynamic salesperson that is going to get out there to sell and market it. Those partnerships tend to work because people look at each other and say, “Without you, I wouldn’t be here a year down the road.” If someone starts with very little money and the business takes off successfully, they might say, “Why did I give up so much for such a small amount of money?” They resent that relationship because the money wasn’t big enough contribution to warrant this partnership. Or, if two people come to the company with the same skillset, someone will always feel like sometimes they’re working harder, and if they left tomorrow, the company would fall apart, because they have overlapping responsibilities.
Partnerships work when there’s delineation of responsibilities when they start up. And, more importantly, when there are initially two diametrically opposite contributions in the partnership.
YS: What final take away would you like to share?
Adam Lieberman: The key thing for any salesperson that’s recommending a product, an organization that’s growing a team, or someone starting a company, is surrounding yourself with the right people. Ultimately, having the right people around you will make you or break you. So, no matter what you have in a company, bring the right kind of people into your organization because that will allow you to do what you’re great at. If you look at a pizza pie, there are eight slices, but there’s only one slice that you’re great at. That goes for everybody. G-d gave everyone a unique talent that, from birth, just comes easily and naturally to us. You’re great at that one slice, and you’ll do it for nothing ultimately, because you love doing it so much. That something should be your passion, your focus, that should dictate what you spend the majority of your time geared towards.
And for those other seven slices, hire the best people around you.
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