Change is in the Air

Nothing is certain but death and taxes.  If author Daniel Defoe was alive today, he’’d likely be amazed at the staying power of his proverb.  Change is necessary to grow and learn, but rarely is it willingly embraced.  When things are going well, why rock the boat unnecessarily?  Sometimes there isn’t a choice, like when the employees at Marie Callender’s in Elk Grove showed up for work on a Monday morning in June 2011, only to find the doors locked and the restaurant dark.  Memphis-based Perkins & Marie Callender’s, Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, closing 13 of its California locations the day before, even ousting some customers mid-meal!  Imagine suddenly losing your job in an already shaky economy–not a happy prospect in the least.

On the flip side, change doesn’t always mean something negative.  A recent story comes to mind about a dear friend who threw her hat in the ring for a seemingly impossible-to-obtain upper-level position.  After sweating out the panel interview and many a restless night awaiting the committee’s decision, she magically got the job!  Already in management, she went from manager to regional leader, and snagged a massive raise, merrily announcing the good news to family and close friends.  Even when the odds are stacked against us, we have but to think of stories like this which show that we can make things happen for ourselves.  We are not at the mercy of where the wind blows us.

Like a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, everything eventually goes through a metamorphosis, whether of its own volition or due to external forces.  In the business world, it’s important to evolve with the times.  Strategic thinking and planning lead to a company’s longevity.  What worked last year might be old hat 12 months later.  By being aware of the latest trends, we can mold our organizations accordingly to stay current and ready for whatever changes come our way.  www.auqeo.net.

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I Win, You Win

Behind every successful sales transaction lies a negotiation history between the sales person and customer.  No outcome is better than when the prospect and representative come away from the deal satisfied, understanding that their best interests have been served.  Unlike a “take-the-sale-and-run” situation, which leaves a feeling of residual deception, both parties enjoy mutual satisfaction.imgres(6)

Competition is only growing; savvy customers buy for their own reasons, and have the advantage to pick and choose from the pool.  It’s a buyer’s market.  As such, salespeople must effectively distinguish themselves to remain successful in the field.

Is there anything reps can do to facilitate enduring success?  Yes.  According to The New Conceptual Selling, the following four things must be obtained from every sales call:

  1. Satisfied customers—Every sales transaction involves mutual dependence.  Salespeople who listen to their customers’ needs, and draw out pain points during the conversation, are able to come up with customized solutions, leading to client gratification.
  1. Long-term business relationships—Although this step takes time to achieve, it is a reachable goal.  With each successive positive transaction, the salesperson becomes more firmly entrenched in the customer’s brain, eventually coming to mind automatically whenever it’s time for a client to make a purchase.
  2. Solid, repeat business with your “regular” customers—Now that you’ve built up a sizable customer base, it’s up to you to maintain contact and follow up with them on a regular basis with a handwritten note, email or phone call. It shows that you’re interested in them beyond the closing of the sale.
  3. Enthusiastic referrals to new prospects—In sales, nothing is more powerful than word of mouth.  Once you’ve established a solid business relationship with a client, you can ask him/her for referrals.  As satisfied customers, they will feel comfortable and confident to endorse you to others, based on their positive interactions with you.

Profitable and comfortable, Win-Win selling is designed to benefit the customer and salesperson.  It is the only outcome which will result in lasting success.

At Auqeo!, we engage in Win-Win selling every day.  To learn more about our sales methodology, visit us at www.auqeo.net.

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Before You Make the Call

The best B2B salespeople know that it takes more than establishing a good client rapport to attract and retain business.  They put in the necessary time and research to determine how to construct their approach, and maintain harmonious relationships with existing customers.

The New Conceptual Selling by Stephen E. Heiman, Diane Sanchez and Tad Tuleja provides a wealth of useful information, encompassing all aspects of the selling process, some of which we share in this post.  Prior to picking up the phone to solicit new prospects, reps must ask themselves the following four questions:

Why am I here?  This question seems obvious, but, when left unanswered, leaves the salesperson without a definitive strategy.  When it comes to building and sustaining a business relationship, a rep’s first priority is to define and identify a single sales objective.  Once this step is complete, the caller can test the objective to make sure its clarity, specificity, definability and timeline are all realistic from your prospective client’s viewpoint.

What do I want the customer to do?  In an ideal world, all sales calls culminate in a signed contract.  To take the call in that direction, savvy salespeople will end the call with a commitment of action from the customer.  Figure out in advance what your minimal acceptable action is, and stick to it.  Realism is the basis of obtaining a solid commitment.  Being met with resistance at this stage is normal, so be prepared to ask your prospect questions if this occurs.  If you sense things are going nowhere, despite your best efforts, walk away, but only as a last resort.

Why should the customer see me?  Give your potential customer a valid reason to commit to an appointment with you.  Its purpose is two-fold:  1)  It gives the buyer the information he/she needs to understand who you are, and why you want to establish a common foundation.  2)  It provides would-be customers with advanced time to prepare for your meeting.  Customers have to understand ahead of time how you view the transaction and be in agreement with your perception.  What’s the reward for all this effort?  You get payback in the form of long-term differentiation, lingering in the customer’s memory.

Do I have credibility? Quite simply, you have to convince potential customers that you can be trusted and are a subject-matter expert. This is done through establishing your personal credibility.  There are many ways to do this, such as exhibiting your industry experience and knowledge, concisely presenting your solutions, highlighting past successes when appropriate, and the manner in which you come across.  The best way to get credibility is to earn it.  Nothing speaks louder than a reference or recommendation which comes from someone with whom your potential customer is familiar.

Once on the phone, you will know things are going well when your customer shares pain points, gives you his/her undivided attention and asks questions which zero in on your solution.  By always being genuine, asking targeted questions and practicing effective listening, you are paving the road to success.  Make sure to confirm your upcoming appointment toward the end of the call.  This way, staying in touch with the customer’s changing priorities and needs is automatic.
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At Auqeo!, our sales representatives employ this methodology every day.  It’s but one of the ways in which we set ourselves apart.  Find out more about our organization at http://www.auqeo.net.

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New Year, New You

The party’s over, folks.  Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are behind us.  It’s time to bid the holidays adieu and turn our attention back to the office.  The beginning of a new year is the perfect occasion to make professional resolutions.  We’re freshly rested, filled up on family cheer and full of good intentions.

For salespeople in particular, riding the wave of post-celebratory momentum can work wonders in the personal productivity and motivation arenas.  So what are some of the things to which we B2B representatives can commit to ensure a profitable 2014?  Read our quartet of top tips to successful sales outcomes:Image

1.      Up the ante.  Take it up a notch with your prospecting by committing yourself to reaching out to at least five new people each week.  Even the busiest among us have time to make one more call each day.  And who knows?  That lead could end up becoming your best customer.  It’s worth the extra five-minute investment.

2.      Nice to meet you.  Keep abreast of pertinent networking events in your area, and attend at least two each month.  Bring a colleague and engage with fellow attendees for at least an hour.  The next hand you shake might change your life.

3.      Leave your comfort zone.  Step outside the box of familiarity and spend an hour once a week looking at different verticals and segments to expand your business.  A wealth of untapped potential opportunities await.

4.      Confer with colleagues.  This simple strategy has always been there, but we don’t always see what’s right in front of us.  Ask your coworkers which selling techniques work best for them.

Try one or all of these suggestions, and let us know how they worked for you.  Your feedback is important to us.  Just fill out the contact form on our website at www.auqeo.net.  Here’s to a prosperous year!

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Getting Ziggy With It

When someone mentions the words “successful business person,” who comes to mind for you?  Over the years there have been many innovators who stand out in the crowd.  From Ted Turner to Marissa Meyer, each tycoon has his/her own strategies to reach the top.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be a fly on the wall in Sheryl Sandberg’s house or Donald Trump’s car?  While this isn’t possible, we can glean useful advice from those who’ve already shared it.
One of the most memorable salespeople of all time was the late Zig Ziglar.  A motivational speaker, trainer, author and World War II veteran, Ziglar is renowned as the number one salesperson for multiple companies.  The Coffee County, Alabama, native lived to the ripe old age of 86, and left a legacy of quotes behind.
An article by Kevin Kruse on forbes.com, http://tinyurl.com/cpacsu8, Zig Ziglar:  10 Quotes That Can Change Your Life, recounts Ziglar’s decuple in descending order.  Our interpretations follow.

 

10.“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”
            When something you attempt doesn’t work out, it’s important not to get into a        downward spiral of self-blame.  Separate the “event” aspect from the “person” aspect;           this way, you’ll be able to take a step back, sum up what happened, and prevent the             same mistake down the line.
9.    “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
            This is classic, tried-and-true advice.  Quite simply, you get what you put out there.          Give and you shall receive in kind.  Change your focus from self to global, and you will      reap the rewards.
8.    “People often say motivation doesn’t last.Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” 
            This wry saying is all you need to stay the course and remain inspired to do your best not only Monday through Friday, but always.
7.    “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”
            No one enjoys being critiqued, particularly not publicly.While constructive criticism ishelpful and useful, if you can give a compliment instead, it’s the wiser course of action.
6.    “People don’t buy for logical reasons.  They buy for emotional reasons.”
            Once you identify your customers’ pain points, you can zoom in and provide the solution they’re seeking. They’ll be happy you were able to provide them with whatthey wanted and needed; you’ll have gained a loyal client.
5.    “Expect the best.  Prepare for the worst.  Capitalize on what comes.”
            With each new opportunity, go in with an optimistic outlook.  Be ready for any reaction, whether positive or negative, and make the most of what you encounter. 
4.    “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce.  If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”
            By making yourself available and helping others resolve their issues, you gain trust.Show people your sincerity, pay it forward when you can and they will react in kind.
3.    “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”
            The mere creation of a well-planned objective puts the desired result into motion, with 50 percent of the work already done. 
2.    “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
            The importance of this phrase cannot be understated.  Go into every opportunity with a smile and be genuine.  You may get 100 no’s before that one “yes,” and yourdisposition along the way counts.  Just that one closed deal could result in repeat      business and multiple referrals. 
1.    “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
            When you visualize a goal, you’ve just turned it from notion into possibility.  Followthrough with a plan, ample effort and you will bring your idea to fruition.www.auqeo.net.
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Oh, B2B, Oh, B2B, However Green Your Branches

Now that the holidays are in full swing, the last thing on the minds of most B2B salespeople is selling.  But contrary to popular belief, the end of the year is a fantastic time to seek out business opportunities and cement deals.

According to an article on inc.com by Geoffrey James, Sell More B2B During the Holidays, http://tinyurl.com/q9mgxbx, many companies are closing their books, which often means that some have a budget to spend which, if not disbursed, will vanish.  So they want to make purchases right now—particularly those organizations whose budgets will be reduced the following year if they don’t spend their full 2013 allocations.

James goes on to point out how the holiday season has a psychological effect on the people who are in charge of the funds.  No one wants to be seen as the “corporate scrooge” during the season of giving.  Employers and employees alike have visions of parties, family events and gift giving dancing in their heads.  Most people want to be generous whenever possible, and what could be money better spent than investing in one’s own company?

It is also common for upper management to take time off during the end of December through the first week of January, leaving the administrative and sales staff members to run the ship.  With a quick email or call to a vacationing boss to get the go-ahead, business decisions get made swiftly and actions follow suit.

Turns out that we don’t have to wait until the New Year to follow those new leads after all.  So go ahead and reach out to potential prospects with an introductory email on the 24th or 25th.  Just because people aren’t at work doesn’t mean that they’re not checking their messages remotely. 

Whether winter, spring, summer or fall, we are here to serve you year-round.  Visit us at www.auqeo.net to learn more about what we can do for you.  Happy Holidays!

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It’s All in the Execution

Think of some of the most useful inventions which came into being during the past century.  From life-saving vaccines to Liquid Paper®, medical and administrative entrepreneurs like Jonas Salk and Bette Nesmith Graham changed our world for the better.  Now imagine what would have happened if Salk and Graham hadn’t been able to get their discoveries into the right hands to publicize their finds.  You can have the most beneficial, profitable ideas in the world, but without good execution, they’re dead in the water. 

Entrepreneur Evan Bailyn clearly articulates this sentiment in the form of a brilliant quote:  “Ideas are great, but they are far less valuable than good execution.  Work with good executors and your company will grow.” We couldn’t agree more.  As a professional services firm, we enable our partners to achieve growth through tactical execution in marketing, sales and executive development.  Our collaborative approach helps entrepreneurs, companies and divisions achieve their goals and become successful.

The Auqeo! management team works with all stages of companies to increase their sales through objective determination and quotas, sales strategies, identification of target markets and tactical plan execution.  It is our goal to ensure that you reach your goals.  With the arrival of each new project, we focus on building a solid team while executing on a plan specifically tailored for your company.  Our proven methodology works time and again, thanks to the simplicity of its three main characteristics:  consistency, a systematic approach and a methodical application.

To us, sales is both an art and a science.  We teach our salespeople how to ask the right questions and engage in effective prospecting along with honing their presentation skills through specifically designed training programs.  The development curriculum also includes coaching and mentoring, ROI examples, the importance of the delivery of our value proposition and go-to-market strategies.

We invite you to peruse our website and learn more about how we can take your business to the next level.  Visit us at http://www.auqeo.net.

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