Chapter 6 & 7: Communication & Listening

The group either got lazy in chapter 6 or the fact that most sales training addresses the pieces and parts of Debbie’s 3 Major Components of Communication made everyone less jazzed about choosing an action item. Our conversation covered one of my favorite topics:

conversation vs. interrogation

and we all quoted pg 97s Guidepost 18 “Strive to communicate what you have to offer so clearly that customers who aren’t a fit will recognize it.”

 

Now on to chapter 7 – perhaps the most important chapter to have action items for! Listening

On page 104 you see “Learning to listen means learning the patience to be quiet”… patience & being quiet – neither are things salespeople are known for.

Debbie’s definitions of the 4 types of listeners was eye opening:

  • scavengers; looking for scraps of information, to help decide their next thing to say
  • attention-challenged; this actually reminded me of a shirt that we got for our friend Steve which says ‘They say I have A.D.D. they just don’t understand… Oh look, a chicken!’
  • literal; listen and acknowledge exactly what is said, not what is between the lines
  • empathetic; genuinely care, leave ample silence to allow clients to complete their thoughts

Here are the things we decided to do for the next two weeks to improve our listening skills:

  1. have a blank outlook email open to take my notes with ONE conversation per (even in my notebook)
  2. remind myself the people I’m talking with don’t necessarily know ANYTHING and find a way to ask questions to gather more info
  3. minimize outlook and NOT look at other emails while on the phone
  4. STOP interrupting… and try using the mute button to do it for the whole day.
  5. learn when to stop talking and let THEM talk

Lynn’s side note: mine is #3 and the first day I kept catching myself clicking and wanting to multi-task. When I left for the day I felt awesome and looking back it was because of the quality conversations I had all day long. Coincidence? I think not!

What are you willing to do to improve your listening?  Scroll down, register, log in, and let us know.

Chapter 5: Action Items

Chapter 5 is all about choosing your traveling companions, building relationships, and moving forward together.

One of the book club members is new to the corporate world of sales, really new – less than a year in fact. She knows her connections are massive, more than 250 because of her “life before sales” what had not occurred to her is that these people know other people, who know other people, who might need what she does now. The action item she took on is to list her contacts/relationships/connections that are in her geographic territory – she is still figuring out what to do once she has them.

Someone else is talking to heart a quote on pg 81 “With every call, email or meeting, you are exhibiting your intention to further the relationship in some way.” This is now their #1 call objective and the bar that all other reasons are measured by…. “how will this conversation further our relationship?”

For me, there was a great reminder that it generally takes SEVEN interaction to make a sale. Now I am looking at what ways I can decrease the time it takes to have those 7 meaningful interactions with my prospects.

How about you, what are you doing to build your relationships? Register, log in, and let us know.

Chapter 4: Results

Chapter 4 is all about expectations, the salesperson’s… the customer’s… managers… company… coworkers. I invited you along on our journey through the Field Guide to Sales, so your expectation is I’ll keep up on posting.

That said – I just realized I never posted the book club’s action items W E E K S ago, instead I’ll post the results that came from them.

Of the 6 people in the book club – 1/2 are expecting in a whole different way! Congratulations to Mindy on the birth of her 1st daughter Cara over the weekend, everyone is doing well. The other two expectant mothers are still just that – expecting.

A couple of the book club’s participants decided to ask prospects & customers “What are your Top 3 Priorities?” The results were astounding.  Instead of hearing:

  • nothing planned
  • keeping busy
  • everything is on hold

They started learning what their prospects & customers were expected to do by their companies. Learning what was important, what had changed, and things that would be coming up after the Top 3 were done.

One of our expectant mothers took it to an even higher level and asked prospects & customers “what do you expect of me for the next 3 months while I am here… and of the person covering for me while I’m out?” She is finding out fantastic information because of the sense of urgency created – tough to put someone off about a conversation that they might not be around for later.

Chapter 3: Action Items

A few of us met to talk about chapter 3 and our action items. Here they are:

  • We talked about the questions to answer about your prospective customers on pages 49 & 50. When we realized that some of the questions needed to be “translated” into our world to make more business sense. I’ve taken on the action of doing this translation for 10 of the question.
  • On page 53 Debbie talks about identifying “your top five strengths as a salesperson.” A couple of book club members are going to figure out their strengths over the next couple of weeks.

As with any book club and bad winter weather, a few people weren’t able to make the meeting (with one participant admitting she hadn’t read the chapter). Well that is how it goes – I’m still finding ideas expressed in new ways, action items I had forgotten, or concepts I’ve never learned, – and will not only continue but continue taking action each week.

How about you, what are you learning?

Chapter 2: Action Items

“Once you know where you are headed….how you assign your time – before, during, and after the sale is vital to your success” is the beginning of chapter 2.

Debbie suggests tracking the next 168 hours of your life. Everyone in the book club felt significant levels of overwhelm at that idea – everyone also believed they could easily track the next 24 hours. So we decided to do just that and meet the next day.

Discussion: Stephen Covey’s Time Matrix talks about where we spend our time and how to evaluate it. The matrix is drawn with top to bottom view of important/unimportant &  non-urgent/urgent = left to right. The number one area where people felt their time was being spent on “kind of important” activity is transferring customer conversation notes from paper into a CRM (customer relationship management system).

  • Why “kind of important?” Well it is a non-pay activity that is critical to future pay activities.
  • How is it “a little urgent?” If we wait to long our own notes don’t make any sense.

Here are Lynn’s Tick Tock Saving Tips

In Your Notebook:

  • Contact & company name at the top of the page ALWAYS, there is nothing worse than great notes that you can’t remember who they are for!
  • Draw a check box  next to any action items you need to take, that way you don’t forget something you need to do for the prospect/customer.
  • Highlighter – if it is important, highlight it while you’re talking
  • Circles & arrows – because your notes are added as the conversation goes on; link things together that feel like the SAME conversation points while you’re talking. Don’t believe you will remember it later, the phone will probably ring before you have time to put those thoughts together.
  • Before you get off the phone, recap with the customer everything that is highlighted and/or has a check box – THEN ask if you missed anything!

When typing them into your CRM system:

  • Bullet point the highlights
  • Feel comfortable putting notes on different “subjects” in as separate entries vs. everything in one (timeframe, competition info, personal stuff – all can be their own entry with a meaningful subject to look for later)
  • Don’t write the great American Novel – just enough that you will know what you were talking about on the next call OR someone taking your calls can follow through with.
  • If you have different dates you need to get back to the customer on for different topics – create separate activities for yourself.
  • If someone is buying something from someone – add an opportunity.
  • Even if you don’t think it is something you can’t sell add it to your product information data base.

What do you do to make keeping track of customer information that is critical to your success easier?

Chapter 1 Results


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A couple of people have committed to categorize each company in their account base based on their own version of Outstanding Proposals, Hard Leads, Prospects, and Suspects.

  • Findings = people know more about their account base than they thought. It was easy to over 90% of companies/locations into a “bucket”. The other 10% only took a phone call or two and a couple answers to drop them in. 

One book club member who has been in sales for under a year has committed to figuring out who her customers are, their 2009 budgets, and what they are going to spend with her.

  • This turned out to be an interesting adventure in “personal money concept”. The salesperson realized early on that she wasn’t comfortable talking money because it was rude. Instead she developed a metaphor using Yugo vs. Porshe to back into the money conversation.

Another is going to create a customized forecast spreadsheet and create his customer formula (x customers @ $_______ = total dollars sold in 2009)

  •  We’re still waiting to hear how he did!

Someone else is going to look back at customer spend for 2008 and forecast for them in 2009.

  • Done! The salesperson was able to see where time, energy, and effort need to be expended to make the most out of this year.

As for me, I have committed to enter what I know into my forecast spreadsheet before I leave on vacation. That way when I come back on Monday January 5th I’ll be ready to rock & roll!

  • WOW – this was tough, I ended up adding a column for “sometime in 2009” for the people I know have projects, but don’t know the timing of them yet.

What are you committed to do for your business?

 

 

Chapter 1: Action Items



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It is amazing the different things people get from reading a book and deciding what action they are going to take in their careers based on what they are reading. There are lots of important points in chapter one, we all took away that our forecasting could use some serious effort. Here are the commitments we made on what action we will focus on for the next two weeks:

 

A couple of people have committed to categorize each company in their account base based on their own version of Outstanding Proposals, Hard Leads, Prospects, and Suspects.

 

One book club member who has been in sales for under a year has committed to figuring out who her customers are, their 2009 budgets, and what they are going to spend with her.

 

Another is going to create a customized forecast spreadsheet and create his customer formula (x customers @ $_______ = total dollars sold in 2009)

 

Someone else is going to look back at my customer spend for 2008 and forecast for them in 2009.

 

As for me, I have committed to enter what I know into my forecast spreadsheet before I leave on vacation. That way when I come back on Monday January 5th I’ll be ready to rock & roll!

 

I hope you enjoy reading about our journey – you can always buy the book and join in electronically.

 

Debbie Mrazek’s The Field Guide To Sales.