The previous posts about how to become a trusted advisor 'The Trusted Advisor' by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green & Robert M. Galford,' discussed how to earn trust, give advice and build relationships. Along side developing these skills, it is important to know how to focus on the other person, to be self-confident, to put your own ego aside, to be curious, to maintain a high degree of inclusive professionalism and always be sincere.
Focus on the other person
“The only way to influence someone is to find out what they want and show them how to get it” Dale Carnegie. To achieve this degree of influence it is essential to be able to focus on the other person giving them what they need and want. It is not about providing them with your knowledge or expertise but more about giving reassurance, helping the client see new approaches and make decisions. The ability to become an empathetic listening is key to this. How well we succeed in this depends on how able we are to truly feel what the other person feels, focusing on them not our own self-promotion. This is a skill that takes years of learning to master but it reaps great rewards.
What is being referred to in the context of being a trusted advisor is the ability to have the self confidence to listen and understand and brainstorm before offering solutions. To put aside the fear that we are squandering critical influencing time by not immediately providing solutions.
This is the ability to focus on the consultative relationship process, the issues at hand and not on any blame or credit attached to it.
To solve other’s problems we need to ask questions, and to listen, in other words to be curious focusing not on what we know but what we don't know. It is our curiosity which creates the situations which allow us to contribute.
By this we mean being able to align with our clients to work collaboratively by acknowledging and engaging them to find solutions rather than just providing them ourselves.
We demonstrate our sincerity to others by caring behavior, by our attention and interest, by our research and by how we listen. When we then respond enthusiastically we invite the other person to explore with us the possibilities and solutions. Being sincere is a critical element of any relationship and of trust. Sometimes we might find ourselves in a situation where it is impossible to relate or be sincere. As long are really sure that you have tried everything you can there are times when you have to accept the situation for what it is and walk away. In relationships there really are only win-win and loose-loose combinations.
Being sincere and building a strong client relationship doesn’t mean you have to become your client’s friend. To be a trusted advisor you have to care and show you care. Being sociable with your client will definitely deepen your understanding of your client’s needs and fears but that doesn’t imply that you have to become their good friend. If you are attentive to your clients needs the effectiveness of the sales process will be enhanced. To earn trust you will need to do this and to be vested in the long-term benefit of the relationship.
Ultimately you are not trying to build a relationship that is simply a means to an end but you are trying to create a partnership that will mean you go on a journey together to resolve your clients needs. What do you think, do you have any other suggestions, we would love to hear from you?!
Customers’ objections are a normal part of the sales process. Here are Integratis’ 8 tips to develop the skills and strategies to handle objections effectively and be more successful in selling.
Confidence is critical in all aspects of the sales process but especially when handling objections. People assess your confidence by your body language in 3 ways:
Your Manner: remain calm, welcoming the concern.
Your Expression: don’t panic or look alarmed but equally don’t be dismissive or overconfident.
Your Tone of Voice: remain serious and unwavering, conveying your wish to resolve the customer’s concerns.
2. Listening skills
Never respond to an objection until you are sure you understand it. Listen attentively, it will show your sincerity and desire to understand the concern. Let the customer do the talking! Make eye contact; be aware of your facial expression, posture, and stance. Take notes and refer to them. Stay focused on the customer; be sensitive to their feelings, noting their body language, and facial expressions. Don’t interrupt but try to summarize when appropriate using your notes to show you were listening.
3. Acknowledge the customer’s concern
Never ignore the objection always acknowledge it. Be sincere and empathize, go with the flow, not against it. Mentally walk with the customer. If applicable use reference stories and validate the concern.
Ask questions to clarify your grasp of the customer’s concern. Make this dialogue two-way, verifying you both share and understand the objection and its’ root cause. Use open questions to help you to explore and probe. For example: “Who else do you think would be concerned about this?” Use closed questions to help you get straight to the point: For example: “This sounds as though it’s a big issue for you right now, am I right?”
Restating often uncovers a hidden objection because it shows you care and encourages customers to talk further, revealing other concerns. First paraphrase the initial objection to reinforce your sincerity. Then summarise the subsequent dialogue focusing on how you have clarified the concern. Finally state the real objection, as agreed to by the customer during the discussion reconfirming your understanding of the issue. At this point consider a ‘trial close’ - “if I was able to put your mind at ease on this issue, would that mean that you are comfortable with the remainder of what we have discussed?”
Responding is especially critical if the objection is linked to a competitive comparison. A good response can demonstrate that you can do all that the competition can do….and more! Be confident and positive in your response or agree to return to the issue later; either later in the meeting (whenever possible), or in a later meeting (in which case you should set this meeting up before closing the call. Then confirm that the customer is satisfied and comfortable with your response.
7. Appropriate responses
If the customer is sceptical provide proof regarding what you have told them and always answer any misunderstandings. If there are product concerns, emphasize product benefits and value. If it appears that a decision is not going to be made create a sense of urgency, stress the business benefits and always check you are talking to the right person!
8. Know when not to respond
Don’t respond if you don’t fully understand the objection, keep asking questions until you do. If you realize that you will need to address the concern later in the meeting, seek the customer’s agreement to do so. When you don’t have a convincing response agree a plan with the customer to address the issue later, checking you have grasped the main objection and have addressed all other concerns. If you have to adopt this approach, make sure you make an appointment to get back to the customer.
Maybe you have further sales objection handling techniques you would like to share? We would love to hear from you!
You’ve selected what you believe to be the right channel partner, what do you do now to ensure that that channel partner views you as the preferred supplier? How do you build a long term, stable, partnership with the channel based on trust and mutual business benefit? As a business partner, the channel manager, should try to develop a strategy to help the channel perceive the business win of partnering with you. For a successful relationship that gets results, the channel manager should aim to become a valued member of the channel’s team, helping them to improve their performance.
How to successfully implement an effective channel strategy.
1. Think Win/Win/Win - Win for the Customer/Partner/ You
Channel partners must perceive a real win for them to want to work with you. The most powerful way to achieve this win is to help them achieve a business objective which is important to them. Once they have agreed to the plan and are willing to resource it, show them what the business win will be and ensure that this becomes an ongoing reality.
2. Be proactive and involved
Be proactive and involved showing how partnering with you will help the channel partner achieve their business goals. Focus attention and resources on areas where you can provide the solutions. Identify business opportunities providing a business win for both parties. Sell those opportunities to the channel partner and build the partnership around them.
3. Develop a Partnership Plan
The development of a partnership plan will provide a business focus for the partnership. The partner’s business win needs to be clear and concise. A clear plan will define mutual expectations of commitment and return, enabling both parties to plan for and ensure success. It will help to focus partner activity, maximizing productivity and reducing channel conflict, concentrating the partner’s attention and resources on their activity with you. It will also provide a method for monitoring and managing the partnership. A medium and long term focus will then promote long term, not deal-based partnerships. This will provide a means of ensuring that the channel partner commits the right resources to support the plan, fulfilling the role you had previously defined for them.
4. Build a partnership based on TRUST
There are three key decision criteria which people use when choosing a partner. The channel manager should apply all three:
- Can we TRUST this person, or company?
- Can we GET ALONG with this person, or company?
- Can they PROVIDE THE SERVICE we require?
In summary, to develop successful, profitable, channel relationships, as the channel manager think not about direct selling but about partnership selling. Go from being a sale’s professional to an expert consultant. Turn attention from the customer who might buy your product through the channel, to the channel partner themselves. Focus on the long, not the short term, not on closing the deal with the customer but on helping the partner to win and in so doing helping you to win and dramatically impact the bottom line.
What have been your experiences, either as a channel manager or as a channel partner, we would love to hear from you?
You’re just sitting down to dinner, the phone rings, hopefully not another telesales call! You were looking forward to the opportunity to relax. Everything in you wants to ignore it, but the persistent ringing is worse than pretending you can ignore it. You decide to answer because then you can stop the annoying calls. We’ve all experienced this. Why do these companies insist on calling people at home at dinner time? Well, the answer is obvious – it’s because that’s when they are more likely to find people at home. But that’s not really the subject of this sales tale. This call was different.
Tip 1: Be confident and enthusiastic, develop excellent listening and questioning skills.
What made the call different? Well firstly the person on the phone was bright, confident, enthusiastic and sincere. Not too pushy. They didn’t sound bored with their job. They didn’t assume that I wanted to hear from them. They asked empathetic questions and listened making it clear that they valued my time and they were enthusiastic about their company. They clearly had developed excellent telesales skills!
Tip 2: Don't focus on selling, create a positive customer focused experience.
They were actually calling from a local cable company (and we already had satellite TV). I let them know very quickly that we had satellite – but they were not fazed by that. Instead they were interested to know what I liked about the service I had and explained that they would welcome the opportunity to talk again if and when things were to change. Why am I writing about this? Mainly because this person left me with a very positive impression of their company simply because of the way they handled the call. Their polite, confident and empathetic approach made me think well of their company and much more likely to be open to considering change in the future. They didn’t make a sale on that call (but I suspect that was not their primary objective). They created a positive environment for a future call.
Be sincere and empathetic
The message: too many telesales people seem to forget that they are speaking to another human being. They don’t seem to care about the person who is answering the phone. They are not sincere or empathetic. They are totally focused on getting their call completed and moving to the next. By contrast I just received yet another telesales call – this time of the negative variety. They asked to speak to a colleague – speaking in a way that made it very clear that they were not at all interested in talking to me. Little did they know that I was the decision-maker for their service, but they didn’t care enough about the person answering the phone to take the time and trouble to find out. They had one goal. They weren’t thinking. They were following a script.
My thoughts turned to that very different call a few weeks ago … and made me think more positively about the company that had employed that person. A company, vested in their employees success (and therefore their own) and who realized the importance of excellent telesales training to create a successful, positive, customer focused experience. When I’m ready for the annual service renewal I might even call them.