Author Topic: Anyone with a career in sales?  (Read 2280 times)

Cwadda

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Anyone with a career in sales?
« on: February 28, 2017, 03:26:52 PM »
Hi Folks,

I started a job in sales 8 months ago. My background was completely technical and I fell into a job that I never really studied in school (i.e. I didn't go through any business education/training in college). I'm wondering if anyone on here with professional experience in sales has any advice to offer regarding developing a sales career and improving sales skills. I'm not doing poorly by any means, but I feel like I'm not improving either. Any books you'd recommend or just important advice you've learned along the way?

Thanks everyone!

Cwadda

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2017, 10:38:34 AM »
Bump!

bwall

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2017, 02:44:20 PM »
I've been in sales for . ... .. . all my life? I started by selling bubble gum from a t-shirt in first grade. One piece of gum for a coin. That way I didn't have to make change. After a couple of weeks the school changed the rules and asked me to stop selling. Big set-back for a first grader. I've been 'eating what I kill' for the past 15 years or so. Now I'm FI (but not RE) in my mid 40's and trying to figure out what life should look like.

Some tips:
1) Don't let 'no' get you down; in-one-ear-and-out-the-other. Hard to do if you were raised like I was with my parents teaching me "No means no!"
2) Communicate well with your clients. Listen closely to what their needs are. Find a way to meet that need, even if it won't mean a sale for you. If you can provide value, you will always be 'important'.
3) If you are ADD or ADHD you have a competitive advantage and can beat your competitors senseless. It's not even funny the success you can have.
4) Sales isn't taught in school. It's a learned behavior. Often I feel more like a clerk than a salesman.
5) "Sales is like shaving. You have to do it every day or you're a bum."


Books: "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie is a classic.



stein79

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2017, 09:50:27 AM »
Keep asking potential customers for a sale until they say yes or no.  If they tell you no, find out why.  If you can fix/account for that reason, redirect to asking for the sale.

You will get burned out, you will lose sales that you thought were for sure and you will get sales that came out of nowhere and maybe you didn't deserve, it's all part of the deal.

As previously stated, get to know your customers, be social, find out what is important to them.  Maybe your current offering can't help them but you know someone else that can.  This will lead to them trusting you further and recommending you to their colleagues, etc.  It could mean a better sales position in the future (how I've hopped around).

Know your limits, accept them.  I am not the most tech savvy, so I get very frustrated when a technical aspect of a project is out of my hands.  But, know what you can control and you'll be better off.

Know how to be fed a shit sandwich and thank them for it.  Good luck!

Cwadda

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2017, 12:56:31 PM »
I've been in sales for . ... .. . all my life? I started by selling bubble gum from a t-shirt in first grade. One piece of gum for a coin. That way I didn't have to make change. After a couple of weeks the school changed the rules and asked me to stop selling. Big set-back for a first grader. I've been 'eating what I kill' for the past 15 years or so. Now I'm FI (but not RE) in my mid 40's and trying to figure out what life should look like.

Some tips:
1) Don't let 'no' get you down; in-one-ear-and-out-the-other. Hard to do if you were raised like I was with my parents teaching me "No means no!"
2) Communicate well with your clients. Listen closely to what their needs are. Find a way to meet that need, even if it won't mean a sale for you. If you can provide value, you will always be 'important'.
3) If you are ADD or ADHD you have a competitive advantage and can beat your competitors senseless. It's not even funny the success you can have.
4) Sales isn't taught in school. It's a learned behavior. Often I feel more like a clerk than a salesman.
5) "Sales is like shaving. You have to do it every day or you're a bum."


Books: "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie is a classic.

Thank you for the tips. I've been having a lot of trouble with #1. There are way more no's than yes's but the yes's are greatly satisfying.

Quote
Keep asking potential customers for a sale until they say yes or no.  If they tell you no, find out why.  If you can fix/account for that reason, redirect to asking for the sale.
I'll keep this in mind, it's important not to end things on just "no." It's very important to follow up even after you're denied.

Thank you.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 12:59:42 PM by Cwadda »

bwall

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2017, 02:42:05 PM »
It's the 'yes' that kept me going. The rush and thrill of closing a deal is hard to compare with anything else.

But, it's the way that you (learn to) handle the 'no' that will determine your success as a salesman. Do you dwell on it? Or do you say (in some form or fashion) 'oh well, I just found another idiot who doesn't recognize how amazing we are. NEXT!' Stein79 had good advice as well; try and figure out why they said no and then fix that. A lot depends on the industry you're in, of course. Can you meet a client and close a deal in a few hours? Or do you have to work for weeks before you can even make a pitch? How many pitches can you make in a day/week/month? One? Or one hundred? How many opportunities you have to make a pitch determines how you should handle a 'no'.

Oh, and one final tip I forgot to say the first time: "Be nice to others on the way up, because you're going to see them again on the way down."

Lagom

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2017, 10:49:12 PM »
It's a pretty corny, allegorical kind of book, but Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There is still a good and motivating read on the topic. tldr is basically that you should relish the "nos." Literally make them your goal rather than the yes's. So if your sales quota is X and your close rate is x/y, rather than just focusing on reaching/exceeding x, focus on exceeding y by as big a margin as you can, which will blow X out of the water as a natural consequence. Pretty logical (and good!) advice when you think about it. That said, I think I pretty much summed up the entire book so probably not worth paying for unless you think you'll enjoy it recreationally :)
« Last Edit: March 03, 2017, 10:52:31 PM by Lagom »

Cwadda

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2017, 03:39:02 PM »
Thanks everyone. I realize I have to redouble my efforts and approach things in a new way.

Dave1442397

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2017, 05:46:40 PM »
« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 06:23:20 AM by Dave1442397 »

Unique User

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2017, 06:03:56 AM »
Some tips:
1) Don't let 'no' get you down; in-one-ear-and-out-the-other. Hard to do if you were raised like I was with my parents teaching me "No means no!"
2) Communicate well with your clients. Listen closely to what their needs are. Find a way to meet that need, even if it won't mean a sale for you. If you can provide value, you will always be 'important'.
3) If you are ADD or ADHD you have a competitive advantage and can beat your competitors senseless. It's not even funny the success you can have.
4) Sales isn't taught in school. It's a learned behavior. Often I feel more like a clerk than a salesman.

I'm not in sales but my DH is, #3 is so true.  The No's just wash off him and he moves on to the next.  I'd be obsessing over every single No. 

Fishindude

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2017, 07:04:48 AM »
Did sales for many years and enjoyed it thoroughly.

1. Don't believe the BS that some people are "natural born salesmen".   It's a learned behavior and set of skills.
2. Read and attend all of the sales training available to you.
3. In your off time, hang around and associate with successful sales people.  It rubs off. 
4. You must be intimately familiar with your product and believe in what you are selling.
5. If you have a cheapskate mentality and aren't willing to pay a premium for things yourself, you will struggle selling premium priced products or services.
6. Learn the four basic personality profiles and adjust your sales approach to suit the clients profile.
7. Don't let buyers and potential clients dictate how you do business.  Always be willing to walk away.
8. It takes a whole lot less effort to keep and maintain an existing client than it does to find a new one.
9. Dress like your buyers are dressed.
10. Lean on your support staff; numbers guys, engineers, tech people etc. to show company depth and expertise.
11. Don't get involved in competitive price wars and competitions.  Sell your product or service based on value, negotiate your work.
12. Buy a lot of lunches, show up with pizza, donuts, etc. depending on the client.   Get the little guys at clients team on your side too.
13. Make lots of cold calls and always be prospecting.  Don't expect them to call you. 
14. Walk into their office without an appointment, turn down business when it doesn't sound good, decline quoting if too many competitors ..... be different.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2017, 07:26:49 AM »
I was in B2C sales and sales management for 4 1/2 years and coming up on 2 1/2 years in B2B enterprise sales.

It's definitely a grind at times but the reward can be tremendous when you do succeed.

As others have mentioned, it takes thick skin and persistence.
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Papa bear

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2017, 07:28:31 AM »
Turn sales into a game.  Make your own bingo board or come up with a word of the day you have to say on each call. Get others to join so it's more palatable.

Turn NO into a game too.  See how many ways you can get people to tell you to shove off.  Price? No needs now? Using someone else? Never call me again? Maybe next time? We do that ourselves in house? We're not in a good financial position? Your product is terrible and I'm never using it again? Remove me from your list? Hang ups? Call back the people who hang up and tell them sorry for being disconnected, it must be my connection here...  anything to make a NO seem better than a rejection.


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bwall

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2017, 07:08:46 AM »
Turn sales into a game.  Make your own bingo board or come up with a word of the day you have to say on each call. Get others to join so it's more palatable.

Turn NO into a game too.  See how many ways you can get people to tell you to shove off.  Price? No needs now? Using someone else? Never call me again? Maybe next time? We do that ourselves in house? We're not in a good financial position? Your product is terrible and I'm never using it again? Remove me from your list? Hang ups? Call back the people who hang up and tell them sorry for being disconnected, it must be my connection here...  anything to make a NO seem better than a rejection.

This reminded me of the time that I was trying to get a vendor off the phone. I got agitated because he was telling me complete crap and apparently expected me to believe it. I hung up, he called back. I told him to F'off and hung up again. 10 minutes later I get an email in my inbox. I called his colleague and said 'I never want to hear from X again in my life. Please tell me what combination of words I have to use to get this man out of my life. I am apparently unable to do it by myself.'

I actively searched for a competitor and once we found a suitable replacement, we switched.

Fishindude

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2017, 07:26:21 AM »
Turn NO into a game too.  See how many ways you can get people to tell you to shove off.  Price? No needs now? Using someone else? Never call me again? Maybe next time? We do that ourselves in house? We're not in a good financial position? Your product is terrible and I'm never using it again? Remove me from your list? Hang ups? Call back the people who hang up and tell them sorry for being disconnected, it must be my connection here...  anything to make a NO seem better than a rejection.


Actually "Going for NO" can be a really strong closing technique when you have a client hung up delaying a decision.  You state it something like .... Since you've not been returning my calls, it seems to me that you're not interested in working with our firm, so I am going to move on to other clients and other opportunities.   At this point they are either going to tell you ... OK, you're right we are not working with you .... or .... Hold on, we are interested in your services and need to talk.   It forces action from the prospect.

TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2017, 02:28:53 PM »
Posting so I get notifications on this thread when it's updated.  I'm in sales, insurance sales, selling to mostly grain and livestock farmers.  A little different than what most are probably selling, but any input into a good salesman's mind is worth it's weight!

Papa bear

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2017, 06:16:50 PM »
Turn sales into a game.  Make your own bingo board or come up with a word of the day you have to say on each call. Get others to join so it's more palatable.

Turn NO into a game too.  See how many ways you can get people to tell you to shove off.  Price? No needs now? Using someone else? Never call me again? Maybe next time? We do that ourselves in house? We're not in a good financial position? Your product is terrible and I'm never using it again? Remove me from your list? Hang ups? Call back the people who hang up and tell them sorry for being disconnected, it must be my connection here...  anything to make a NO seem better than a rejection.

This reminded me of the time that I was trying to get a vendor off the phone. I got agitated because he was telling me complete crap and apparently expected me to believe it. I hung up, he called back. I told him to F'off and hung up again. 10 minutes later I get an email in my inbox. I called his colleague and said 'I never want to hear from X again in my life. Please tell me what combination of words I have to use to get this man out of my life. I am apparently unable to do it by myself.'

I actively searched for a competitor and once we found a suitable replacement, we switched.

Ha well yeah that happens.  You need to have a knack for when you're actually pissing someone off if you're messing with them.  And I have had people call me to have someone on my team never call them again. Meh. They weren't giving us business when they told us to F off anyway. 


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Dicey

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2017, 12:02:58 PM »
Career sales here. All of this is great advice and underscores why I am so happy to be FIRE. The recommended book sounds great, so I third or forth or whatever it, even though I've not read it.

Here's another tip that was useful to me when I sold expensive (and sometimes useless from a mustachian perspective) shiny shit:

It is not my job to balance their checkbook, coupled with: It isn't "No" until they've said it three times. Even then, it might still be a maybe.

Selling is definitely a skill and an art. It is positively a learned skill. Even if you think you're not cut out for it, having sharp selling skills is a valuable life skill.

Sidebar tale: Recently, I've been canvassing my town's restaurants for our library's Silent Auction fundraiser. I have to drag myself out of the house, but once I get going it's a fucking blast! And the high of the successes provide a forgotten thrill.

Which reminds me, people love being sold to by a good salesperson. So make yourself one. There is no downside.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2017, 07:07:02 AM by Dicey »
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Fishindude

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2017, 06:58:42 AM »
Which reminds me, people love being sold to by a good salesman. So make yourself one. There is no downside.

Very true.
The reason purchasers hide, don't answer the phone, etc. when salesmen call, is because they tend to buy a whole bunch of stuff when a good salesman shows up :)

Dicey

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2017, 07:29:23 AM »
Which reminds me, people love being sold to by a good salesman. So make yourself one. There is no downside.

Very true.
The reason purchasers hide, don't answer the phone, etc. when salesmen call, is because they tend to buy a whole bunch of stuff when a good salesman shows up :)
I edited my post before I saw you'd quoted it, Fishindude, so I might as well 'splain.

I started my sales career in the cosmetics industry, based on a random retail job I got right after high school. I decided if I was to make more money so I could RE, I should find a more male-oriented operation. I got a job at a company that was 90% menfolk, with a substantial pay boost. (Note: they hired me and two guys. I found out some years later that I got the highest offer, which made me happy. I always out-bonused them, too. Hee. I had FIRE plans long before it had a name.)

I spent most of my career working in male-dominated industries. I didn't mind being called a "salesman" because men typically got paid more and because I obviously wasn't a man. The term made me feel like I wasn't seen as "other". I used to say "Call me whatever you want, just pay me the same. Or more." It always got a laugh, but I was serious, all the way to the bank.

I did it! I have a journal!
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Vindicated

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2017, 07:30:20 AM »
P2F for additional talk on sales.

My BS is MET, and up until January I was an account manager for several large automotive OEMs and their tier 1 & 2 suppliers.  I was recently promoted into operations as the Sales System Manager, but it's awful.  Spreadsheets until the eyes bleed... I want to get back out to see customers!
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TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2017, 11:33:05 AM »
I recently had a prospect that I was quoting, and have since gotten part of his business, and I assume the rest is following shortly (the first part has a sales deadline of 3/15 every year, so that's why we have that done already).  Anyways, before he had committed to anything, he referred me to another farmer that he knew pretty well.  I made contact, the guy showed up with his paperwork, I did the quotes, beat his premium by 12%, met with him two or three times, and now he won't return my call.

I'm not exactly sure how to go about it, do I just send him a letter letting him know the quote is valid until "x" date?  I've left 3 voicemails in 3 weeks, none were returned.  It'd be a great account to grab, especially if the crop insurance would come with it.  The meetings all went well, we got along, he always returned my calls promptly, and now nothing.  Zilch.  Hmmm.

bwall

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2017, 11:37:17 AM »
Possibilities: Did your relationship with the referring customer go down the drain? (doesn't sound like it according to your post)

OR

He's called up his original insurance company, given them hell, is waiting for a better quote and/or has gotten a better quote from them. If this is the case, call him and say 'it's ok if you don't want to go with us. I just need to know where I messed up so that I don't repeat the same mistake in the future.' or words to that effect. If you want the truth that's the way to get it. He needs to be secure, knowing that you're not going to be mad/upset, or whatever and that you're also not going to give him a 20 minute speech.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2017, 11:39:50 AM by bwall »

Vindicated

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2017, 11:39:22 AM »
I recently had a prospect that I was quoting, and have since gotten part of his business, and I assume the rest is following shortly (the first part has a sales deadline of 3/15 every year, so that's why we have that done already).  Anyways, before he had committed to anything, he referred me to another farmer that he knew pretty well.  I made contact, the guy showed up with his paperwork, I did the quotes, beat his premium by 12%, met with him two or three times, and now he won't return my call.

I'm not exactly sure how to go about it, do I just send him a letter letting him know the quote is valid until "x" date?  I've left 3 voicemails in 3 weeks, none were returned.  It'd be a great account to grab, especially if the crop insurance would come with it.  The meetings all went well, we got along, he always returned my calls promptly, and now nothing.  Zilch.  Hmmm.

People get busy.  Just keep politely following up.  Either it just keeps slipping his mind, and is something he's "getting around to", or he contacted his current insurance and got a lower rate.  If you're in the area, give him a call and invite him to lunch to chat about it.
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TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2017, 11:46:18 AM »
Quote
People get busy.  Just keep politely following up.  Either it just keeps slipping his mind, and is something he's "getting around to", or he contacted his current insurance and got a lower rate.  If you're in the area, give him a call and invite him to lunch to chat about it.

Absolutely, and I don't want to be the guy that bothers him over and over.  He was a super nice guy, and the relationship never went sideways by any means.

Possibilities: Did your relationship with the referring customer go down the drain? (doesn't sound like it according to your post)

OR

He's called up his original insurance company, given them hell, is waiting for a better quote and/or has gotten a better quote from them. If this is the case, call him and say 'it's ok if you don't want to go with us. I just need to know where I messed up so that I don't repeat the same mistake in the future.' or words to that effect. If you want the truth that's the way to get it. He needs to be secure, knowing that you're not going to be mad/upset, or whatever and that you're also not going to give him a 20 minute speech.

He very well could have gone back to his insurance company and got things updated, but knowing the company that he is with, it's quite unlikely, but I suppose still possible.  I'm in his area pretty much every day, as it's the route between one of my offices and another office.  I just don't want to be pushy about it.

Cwadda

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #25 on: March 10, 2017, 11:39:44 AM »
Quote
People get busy.  Just keep politely following up.  Either it just keeps slipping his mind, and is something he's "getting around to", or he contacted his current insurance and got a lower rate.  If you're in the area, give him a call and invite him to lunch to chat about it.

Absolutely, and I don't want to be the guy that bothers him over and over.  He was a super nice guy, and the relationship never went sideways by any means.

Possibilities: Did your relationship with the referring customer go down the drain? (doesn't sound like it according to your post)

OR

He's called up his original insurance company, given them hell, is waiting for a better quote and/or has gotten a better quote from them. If this is the case, call him and say 'it's ok if you don't want to go with us. I just need to know where I messed up so that I don't repeat the same mistake in the future.' or words to that effect. If you want the truth that's the way to get it. He needs to be secure, knowing that you're not going to be mad/upset, or whatever and that you're also not going to give him a 20 minute speech.

He very well could have gone back to his insurance company and got things updated, but knowing the company that he is with, it's quite unlikely, but I suppose still possible.  I'm in his area pretty much every day, as it's the route between one of my offices and another office.  I just don't want to be pushy about it.

This is how I feel all the time. I don't want to keep bothering people (because after 5 emails they still don't respond). But even if those are never responded to, it's still not a "no." If it was a no, then they would reply saying they weren't interested.

People are busy and there's no harm in politely following up every once in a while. As long as you're polite, they have nothing to become agitated about. If they do, they're the jerk.

CDP45

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2017, 12:53:54 PM »
Quote
People get busy.  Just keep politely following up.  Either it just keeps slipping his mind, and is something he's "getting around to", or he contacted his current insurance and got a lower rate.  If you're in the area, give him a call and invite him to lunch to chat about it.

Absolutely, and I don't want to be the guy that bothers him over and over.  He was a super nice guy, and the relationship never went sideways by any means.

Possibilities: Did your relationship with the referring customer go down the drain? (doesn't sound like it according to your post)

OR

He's called up his original insurance company, given them hell, is waiting for a better quote and/or has gotten a better quote from them. If this is the case, call him and say 'it's ok if you don't want to go with us. I just need to know where I messed up so that I don't repeat the same mistake in the future.' or words to that effect. If you want the truth that's the way to get it. He needs to be secure, knowing that you're not going to be mad/upset, or whatever and that you're also not going to give him a 20 minute speech.

He very well could have gone back to his insurance company and got things updated, but knowing the company that he is with, it's quite unlikely, but I suppose still possible.  I'm in his area pretty much every day, as it's the route between one of my offices and another office.  I just don't want to be pushy about it.

Stop selling price. Read "The Wedge" book. He doesn't know where you messed up because no one even reads their policy. You need to be the trusted advisor and guide him to the best solution, and gee maybe it might even be a lower price.

People buy value, not the cheapest price. Start selling value and focus on how you're helping the customer, not the commission you'd be getting.

TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #27 on: March 13, 2017, 02:56:06 PM »
Quote
People get busy.  Just keep politely following up.  Either it just keeps slipping his mind, and is something he's "getting around to", or he contacted his current insurance and got a lower rate.  If you're in the area, give him a call and invite him to lunch to chat about it.

Absolutely, and I don't want to be the guy that bothers him over and over.  He was a super nice guy, and the relationship never went sideways by any means.

Possibilities: Did your relationship with the referring customer go down the drain? (doesn't sound like it according to your post)

OR

He's called up his original insurance company, given them hell, is waiting for a better quote and/or has gotten a better quote from them. If this is the case, call him and say 'it's ok if you don't want to go with us. I just need to know where I messed up so that I don't repeat the same mistake in the future.' or words to that effect. If you want the truth that's the way to get it. He needs to be secure, knowing that you're not going to be mad/upset, or whatever and that you're also not going to give him a 20 minute speech.

He very well could have gone back to his insurance company and got things updated, but knowing the company that he is with, it's quite unlikely, but I suppose still possible.  I'm in his area pretty much every day, as it's the route between one of my offices and another office.  I just don't want to be pushy about it.

Stop selling price. Read "The Wedge" book. He doesn't know where you messed up because no one even reads their policy. You need to be the trusted advisor and guide him to the best solution, and gee maybe it might even be a lower price.

People buy value, not the cheapest price. Start selling value and focus on how you're helping the customer, not the commission you'd be getting.

Rarely do I try to sell on price, because in our market, a lot of homes are insured completely incorrect, insured at market value instead of replacement cost.  At that point, you can't sell on price, you must sell on covering the prospect correctly, and them knowing they are going to be fully covered in the event of a loss.  I explained to the prospect mentioned above that we actually did have better coverage, coverage options, a dividend plan that his current carrier does offer, as well as two locations insured that he didn't have on his current policy. 

What the general public might not know (not directing this at anyone in particular) is that farming is really tight right now here in corn and soybean country.  Farmers that are even partially leveraged have been losing equity and now starting to lose money in the past 2-3 years.  So, while we don't ever like to sell on price, sometimes it's a good option, especially when the farmers are trying to cut fixed costs.  Yes, they could cut their fert rate, or lessen their chemical program, maybe buy cheaper seed, but that all reflects directly on the crop that they grow.  If they grow less bushels by implementing changes such as I mentioned above, they aren't gaining anything, and probably actually going backwards.  THe fixed costs, such as insurance, is a win win.  I've actually reviewed and quoted a few policies that have hog confinement risks that have a better pollution coverage than I can offer, and even if we could beat them on price, I can't try to convince someone to switch because they are losing extremely valuable coverage.

Fishindude

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #28 on: March 14, 2017, 08:22:05 AM »
I recently had a prospect that I was quoting, and have since gotten part of his business, and I assume the rest is following shortly (the first part has a sales deadline of 3/15 every year, so that's why we have that done already).  Anyways, before he had committed to anything, he referred me to another farmer that he knew pretty well.  I made contact, the guy showed up with his paperwork, I did the quotes, beat his premium by 12%, met with him two or three times, and now he won't return my call.

I'm not exactly sure how to go about it, do I just send him a letter letting him know the quote is valid until "x" date?  I've left 3 voicemails in 3 weeks, none were returned.  It'd be a great account to grab, especially if the crop insurance would come with it.  The meetings all went well, we got along, he always returned my calls promptly, and now nothing.  Zilch.  Hmmm.

This is very common in sales; pick your brain, use up your time, then hide.
He may have a long term relationship with his existing carrier and he's reluctant to cancel with him?   He may have renegotiated with his existing carrier and he doesn't want to face you again with the bad news?   People hate to give someone bad news, so they hide.   

My next voice mail would be pretty specific.  I'd say something like .... Hey Mr. Client, I thought we were getting along pretty good, and I spent quite a bit of my own time and money putting together proposals for you that saved you substantial money.  If you don't want to do business with me, that's fine, but at bare minimum I would appreciate a return phone call letting me know what your decision is. 

Also, don't be afraid to drop in and surprise cold call him at his place of business if you have an idea where to find him and what his routine is.  That will force a face to face response.

Most agents will just give up and quit calling and he knows this.  If you play hard ball and force an answer, you are now different than the other guys.  He will remember that.  Do a periodic follow up and you may get his business on his next renewal.




TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #29 on: March 14, 2017, 02:00:03 PM »
I recently had a prospect that I was quoting, and have since gotten part of his business, and I assume the rest is following shortly (the first part has a sales deadline of 3/15 every year, so that's why we have that done already).  Anyways, before he had committed to anything, he referred me to another farmer that he knew pretty well.  I made contact, the guy showed up with his paperwork, I did the quotes, beat his premium by 12%, met with him two or three times, and now he won't return my call.

I'm not exactly sure how to go about it, do I just send him a letter letting him know the quote is valid until "x" date?  I've left 3 voicemails in 3 weeks, none were returned.  It'd be a great account to grab, especially if the crop insurance would come with it.  The meetings all went well, we got along, he always returned my calls promptly, and now nothing.  Zilch.  Hmmm.

This is very common in sales; pick your brain, use up your time, then hide.
He may have a long term relationship with his existing carrier and he's reluctant to cancel with him?   He may have renegotiated with his existing carrier and he doesn't want to face you again with the bad news?   People hate to give someone bad news, so they hide.   

My next voice mail would be pretty specific.  I'd say something like .... Hey Mr. Client, I thought we were getting along pretty good, and I spent quite a bit of my own time and money putting together proposals for you that saved you substantial money.  If you don't want to do business with me, that's fine, but at bare minimum I would appreciate a return phone call letting me know what your decision is. 

Also, don't be afraid to drop in and surprise cold call him at his place of business if you have an idea where to find him and what his routine is.  That will force a face to face response.

Most agents will just give up and quit calling and he knows this.  If you play hard ball and force an answer, you are now different than the other guys.  He will remember that.  Do a periodic follow up and you may get his business on his next renewal.

That's the thing, he ran two separate policies with two different renewal dates for his operation.  Strange for sure, no double coverage, nothing over lapping, just a few pieces of machinery and buildings with one carrier, and the bulk of it with another.  I'm going to put him on the follow up list for next week and try him again.  I was really hoping we were going to get it all taken care of, and then get a shot at his crop insurance (which has a deadline of tomorrow), which obviously didn't happen.

I have picked up a few new crop customers this year, nothing major, but a few decent sized farmers.  One will come with a nice farm policy package, the other I'm going to have to do some leg work on.  We'll see.


So, what else does everyone sell on here??  I'm salary based w/ a set percentage of commission for the first three years the business is on the books, then it rolls back into the agencies kitty.  Most would hate that arrangement, but most would starve on straight commission here...or so I think. 

Vindicated

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2017, 06:39:36 AM »
So, what else does everyone sell on here??  I'm salary based w/ a set percentage of commission for the first three years the business is on the books, then it rolls back into the agencies kitty.  Most would hate that arrangement, but most would starve on straight commission here...or so I think.

All of the jobs in my field (Industrial & Automotive Components) have a base salary that's pretty high, then a large yearly bonus which relates to your performance. 
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Fishindude

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2017, 06:44:56 AM »
I sold industrial construction services for many years.   
 

CDP45

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2017, 11:37:07 AM »
Sounds like you did a solid job InsuranceMan, sometimes prospects just flake, and I'm impressed with your thoroughness and attitude of "what can I do better" vs blaming the customer.

Find a good mentor, figure out what their magic is and add that to your own process.

TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #33 on: March 17, 2017, 08:36:04 AM »
Sounds like you did a solid job InsuranceMan, sometimes prospects just flake, and I'm impressed with your thoroughness and attitude of "what can I do better" vs blaming the customer.

Find a good mentor, figure out what their magic is and add that to your own process.

That's what I"m working through now.  I worked for in a corporate office for one of the largest insurance carriers in that nation, so I have the back end experience to go along with me too, and part of that stint was as an underwriter for the product that I know sell.  I have a pretty darn good understanding of it, that's for sure.

Regardless, prospects flake, that's correct, but I'm going to have to try to reel him back in.  I've got another one on the hook that I need to close, he already brought me some of his business, and the big policy is next, so we'll see what I can get done there.


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FXF

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #35 on: March 17, 2017, 09:46:11 AM »
I'm in tech-sales, so subscribing for future reference. :)

Inside Sales Dude

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #36 on: March 17, 2017, 11:14:08 AM »
Cwadda,

I "fell" into computer sales when I was working at a computer store as a warehouse guy going to night school for Computer Science.  I wanted more money but realized I'd never get promoted into one of the tech jobs because our two techs had been there for 10 years and weren't leaving. The sales reps turned over regularly. When a spot opened up, my manager gave me a shot.

I struggled with sales my first five years. But since I was good with technology, my style was more consultative than pushy. 

What really helped me was observing the more experienced reps and then trying to copy what they did. When I got stuck, I'd ask them for guidance. I also read a ton of sales books AND THEN TESTED THE IDEAS in real life. This helped me to figure out what worked for me and what didn't.

After 5 years I was what would be considered successful.  After 10 years, I felt like sales/sales management was my chosen career vs just something I fell into. I've sold primarily B2B computers, hardware and software.

Feel free to PM me or post other questions here and I'd be happy to respond. My blog is focused on Inside Sales Management so although it might be interesting, not all of the posts will be relevant for you today.
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Cwadda

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #37 on: March 17, 2017, 11:57:36 AM »
Cwadda,

I "fell" into computer sales when I was working at a computer store as a warehouse guy going to night school for Computer Science.  I wanted more money but realized I'd never get promoted into one of the tech jobs because our two techs had been there for 10 years and weren't leaving. The sales reps turned over regularly. When a spot opened up, my manager gave me a shot.

I struggled with sales my first five years. But since I was good with technology, my style was more consultative than pushy. 

What really helped me was observing the more experienced reps and then trying to copy what they did. When I got stuck, I'd ask them for guidance. I also read a ton of sales books AND THEN TESTED THE IDEAS in real life. This helped me to figure out what worked for me and what didn't.

After 5 years I was what would be considered successful.  After 10 years, I felt like sales/sales management was my chosen career vs just something I fell into. I've sold primarily B2B computers, hardware and software.

Feel free to PM me or post other questions here and I'd be happy to respond. My blog is focused on Inside Sales Management so although it might be interesting, not all of the posts will be relevant for you today.

Thanks for your input. Do you recommend any sales books in particular?

Inside Sales Dude

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #38 on: March 17, 2017, 03:04:24 PM »
Believe it or not, I'd recommend just about any sales book. They all will have at least one thing that I could learn and try.

Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and The Challenger Sale by Dixon & Adamson are two that are very popular and "en vogue" with a lot of selling organizations today. I'd recommend these for learning some processes as well as understanding them and having them on your resume for the next job.

A lot of sales books have overly complex sales processes or else they just repeat things like "out-hustle the competition and be aggressive". For me, I like to keep the process simple so I can follow it. That said, my own process is an amalgamation of a bunch of ones I've read about, copied from my mentors or made up.

I've found that by using a repeatable process and listening attentively, I could fill up a pipeline and move deals forward consistently without having to rely on my persuasiveness and charisma. I'm introverted and never was much of a networking/golf playing type salesman. I admire people who are - it's just not my style.

What are you selling and to whom?

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Thanks for your input. Do you recommend any sales books in particular?
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CDP45

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #39 on: March 17, 2017, 10:13:17 PM »
We try and use the challenger sale, and all my coworkers disregard that, they don't use any method other than "show up and throw-up" that I can tell, but I haven't figured out how to use that method to get a customer to sell their business to another, which would help me.  At this point I've been the networking broker and brought people together but I was never the one that had any money on the table.
 
Let's say I'm the MFG, and I want the stores to stop selling a competitors product - any good books or ideas to help make that happen?

Lets say we have 2 products, and mine can serve the needs of 90% of the others, but my stores just can't seem to want to let go of that 10% that we wouldn't be able to serve, even though they'd make more money just selling my product to all their customers.

Hargrove

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #40 on: March 18, 2017, 10:59:02 PM »
Sales is about building relationships. You do that by showing up, by knowing your product and believing in its potential (NOT believing in IT - Corona is a shitty beer but it makes plenty of money), and by genuinely wanting to make friends with your business associates. You have to work with these people. You want a mutually beneficial relationship. Approach strangers that way and you will usually get good results.

I have an unusual take on sales, but I find it advantageous when there's so much "badger them to yes!" out there. If I have to give one piece of advice it's this: always be looking for how you can add value to an account.

The reason that's my "one piece of advice" is that it will automatically cover most other pieces of advice and it's easy to remember. Can you creatively enhance their business with a partnership or thing you're selling? Is there some extra mile you can figure out how to get to for your customer? Do you have cross sell opportunities that arise organically out of what they already have? Do you notice a problem your product can solve? Do you see irrelevant tasks or products that your product could eliminate? Has exposure to particular trends affected their opinions? What about what you can see in their business may explain their perceptions of their own wants and needs? What do they tell you they want? What do you think they want or need after interviewing them and meeting with them? How can you help them?

The worst thing you can do is fail to interview them for the answers to the question of what you can do to add value for them.

If you can approach your work with this mindset, your genuine attempt to help your clients will shine through and they will appreciate not getting mugged for their money. Those relationships will last indefinitely and be good for both of you. Any shark can make a whirlwind of sales numbers once. It's hard to keep the whirlwind going when you keep knocking out bridges to do it. Steady growth is always better than a single enormous month. In about two years I have been top 3 almost every month, and regularly belting out 5-10% growth even if you miss some targets will get you promoted. Realize your targets are there to aim for - your boss' job is making sure you don't hit all of them easily, because then HE is doing a bad job of giving you targets. Worry about your customers before you worry about your boss and, I find, it tends to all work out.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 11:00:44 PM by Hargrove »

Vindicated

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #41 on: March 20, 2017, 06:44:08 AM »
I wanted to add a little something that has been working well for me lately.  It's kind of a "trick" that I picked up reading about an FBI negotiator.

Your main goal in a sale is not just to understand the customers problem, but making them feel like you understand it.  When the customer finishes a sentence, repeat the last few words.  This gives them the unconscious feeling that they should continue.  The more they talk, the more they share.  When you get them to the point that you've repeated back what you believe their problem is, and they respond with "That's Right", you've convinced them that you understand them.

Source:
https://www.amazon.com/Never-Split-Difference-Negotiating-Depended/dp/0062407805

Funny side story - I told my Wife about this tactic, and she kept asking me questions about it, and I kept talking and talking for a few minutes... then I realized she was just repeating the last few words of my previous sentence.  She got me!
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TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #42 on: March 21, 2017, 08:01:23 AM »


The reason that's my "one piece of advice" is that it will automatically cover most other pieces of advice and it's easy to remember. Can you creatively enhance their business with a partnership or thing you're selling? Is there some extra mile you can figure out how to get to for your customer? Do you have cross sell opportunities that arise organically out of what they already have? Do you notice a problem your product can solve? Do you see irrelevant tasks or products that your product could eliminate? Has exposure to particular trends affected their opinions? What about what you can see in their business may explain their perceptions of their own wants and needs? What do they tell you they want? What do you think they want or need after interviewing them and meeting with them? How can you help them?

The worst thing you can do is fail to interview them for the answers to the question of what you can do to add value for them.

If you can approach your work with this mindset, your genuine attempt to help your clients will shine through and they will appreciate not getting mugged for their money. Those relationships will last indefinitely and be good for both of you. Any shark can make a whirlwind of sales numbers once. It's hard to keep the whirlwind going when you keep knocking out bridges to do it. Steady growth is always better than a single enormous month. In about two years I have been top 3 almost every month, and regularly belting out 5-10% growth even if you miss some targets will get you promoted. Realize your targets are there to aim for - your boss' job is making sure you don't hit all of them easily, because then HE is doing a bad job of giving you targets. Worry about your customers before you worry about your boss and, I find, it tends to all work out.

I love this, because this is the way that I try to sell.  I've got a carrier or two that I could low ball their replacement cost value on their house to beat premium, but I'd rather find those carriers that have people insured incorrectly, explain the advantages of doing it right, even with a bit higher premium, and selling us, our service, and our product.  I believe in it, or I wouldn't sell it (that aforementioned carrier that I could low ball is one we have access to in our office, and I will not use them unless forced to by rejections from my preferred carriers).

Still nothing new on my end, just got done with crop insurance sales, picked up 1200 acres of new ground to insure, which is pretty big.  One of those is a farm property package that I'm quoting, which if we get that (and I think we will), will end up being a $40k account in total, or close to that.  The second one is a toss up on whether we'll get the actual farming operation, he likes me, likes doing business with me, but he's a bit hesitant and we haven't even quoted that part yet.  I guess I'll just have to sell myself a bit on that one.

Still need to make my follow up on the last guy I discussed, just trying to figure out how to go about it.  Not sure why I'd stress about it, he most likely won't answer anyways, but I don't have an email address for him.  Hmmm, if I get his VM again, do I send a letter with the quote again, and highlight the benefits of us and our coverage options?

Fishindude

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #43 on: March 21, 2017, 08:42:09 AM »
As you are probably finding out, word of mouth will go a long way in the farming community, and word travels fast.
If one guy is happy with you, he will let his friends know ..... same goes if unhappy.

 


TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Anyone with a career in sales?
« Reply #44 on: March 21, 2017, 01:30:56 PM »
As you are probably finding out, word of mouth will go a long way in the farming community, and word travels fast.
If one guy is happy with you, he will let his friends know ..... same goes if unhappy.


Oh, word travels fast probably is an understatement.  Farmers are very loyal, whether to their seed dealer, their equipment dealer, or their insurance agent.  Typically, a bad experience is what it takes for them to switch.  The two new customers that we landed are both very well known, and I think will provide me some referrals in the future.  I'll do my job, do it right, and keep them happy, and hopefully I'll (we, really, we being the agency) see it pay off in the long run.

Now, to find my next 5 victims to contact.....(that's a joke guys, kind of :) )