Negotiating in sales can be a daunting prospect, but if you can retain these 6 points you will be better armed to succeed.
1. Ask questions and listen
A sales negotiation is most definitely not a time for you to just talk about your product or service. It’s important to ask questions, involve your buyer and listen to their needs. Would you just talk ll the time during a regular conversation? No. So it’s the same here. Keep thinking while listening – how can you steer this negotiation into a win-win situation?
2. Do not negotiate one point at a time
It can be tempting to agree to a request (demand?) that your buyer places on you, once he/she has made it. But it’s important to have all issues laid out on the table before agreeing to anything. Examples might include payment terms, minimum order size, delivery delays, pricing (FOB, Ex Works, delivery included, etc.), after-sales service, staff training and so on.
3. Both sides can win a negotiation
A sales negotiation can conclude to both sides’ satisfaction. Indeed, this is the preferred outcome. Get out of your “them v us” mentality.
4. The buyer does not hold all the power
Sales and marketing is all about satisfying the customer’s needs (at a profit). This fundamental proposition implies that your buyer has a need. So, do they have all the power? Evidently not.
5. Price is not the only issue
Often, a seller will fear the price issue, dreading that a competitor might have a better price. But, of course, price is just one element of a negotiation towards a sale. Find out what all the issues are.
6. Stay calm
Your negotiation does not have to conclude today. If there are elements of a potential deal you’re not comfortable with, postpone. Go away, carry out your checks and come back another day. Remain courteous and return to negotiate at a later date.
Sales Negotiation Skills
Of course, it can take time to develop the skills to expertly carry out a sales negotiation that results in an outcome that makes both parties happy. With practice comes improvement. Review the whole of the Sales Process to put negotiation in its context.
Knowing how to present your product or service is a critical step in The Sales Process. It can be a scary prospect, but follow these tips to put your best foot forward.
Nowadays, B2B buyers and influencers are busy people and if you have managed to have them dedicate some of their time to listening to you present your new product or service, it’s most likely because they are interested. So banish those fear demons and get ready to be enthusiastic and to impress.
The most important tip when it comes to presenting is to ensure you do not spend the whole time simply talking. Be sure to ask questions and listen for buyer engagement and buying clues. People buy from people they like and one sure way of being better liked is to listen and make your presentation a participative experience for those in front of you. Your buyer’s needs are more important than your product offering. Be seen to grasp that and you are on the right track.
While demonstrating your product or giving a sample of your food product, stop talking. While they are trying out, tasting, working or touching your product, the buyer will not hear anything you say. Plus, you will not pick up on their signals. Knowing how to present your product or service is so much more than the words that spill out of your mouth, no matter how well you have prepared on that front. Observe their reactions!
Salespeople often suffer from a number of doubts – one of the classics being that “the buyer has all the power”. In truth, this is not always the case. Your buyer needs some product or solution to his or her issue. Equally, we often hear a vendor say that “price is the only factor and my competitors are better priced”. Again, this is not necessarily the case and your product or solution should have a USP that trumps price anyway.
During the presentation, be sure to ask questions and seek to gain powerful information from your buyer or influencer. Communicate the advantages of your product or service in a way that is most meaningful to your buyer, that is, in terms of benefit to them. You are presenting because you want to be appreciated as the preferred option. After your presentation, why would they consider any alternative?
How to Present your Product or Service
I like to advise clients to practice presenting their product or service on a prospect that has limited or no capacity to become an important customer. Make your mistakes here, before moving on to the guys you’d really like to be partnering up with. Self-observation can be a difficult to master skill, but it becomes essential when presenting a product or service.
On reflection, did you ask enough questions? Did you talk too much? Did you let the buyer feel, touch, taste or sample the product in peace? Then, did you get feedback and thoughts from him/her? Ultimately, did you impress during your presentation, enough to move on to the next step – negotiation? Remember – it’s not simply a question of how to present you product. It’s one step on the over-arching Sales Process.
Like its first cousin, ‘The Marketing Process‘ in its field, ‘The Sales Process’ is a way of locating yourself on your path to sales success.
The Sales Process consists of six steps, helping you to keep focused on how you find and then progress prospects and existing customers through the sales funnel. It’s important to recognise at which step of the Sales Process different clients and prospects are. Knowing how long it typically takes to progress a client from unknown prospect to a buyer, with whom you need to do some post-purchase follow-up, is vital to your sales activity. Depending on the complexity of your sector, these steps may overlap to varying degrees, or indeed several may take place at the same time.
Step One is Prospecting. Here, we do the groundwork to identify potential future customers, based on our targeting, product offer, positioning, competitive strength, etc.
Step Two is Information Gathering. Here, we carry out research in order to learn as much as we can about this business with which we haven’t yet worked. This might include finding out what we can about their current supplier or alternative products/services they are using today, who the decision makers and influencers are, etc. Make first contact and ask about their needs, etc. Request a meeting.
Step Three is Presenting. Demonstrate, present, sample or taste your product or service (depending on your business). Get in front of the prospect and show them what you’ve got. Keep asking questions.
One of the most common mistakes a salesperson makes through steps 2 and 3 is to talk too much. After all, we often feel more comfortable talking than listening. But listening is the key! By asking questions, we learn things. Furthermore, don’t speak while presenting your product. If your buyer is touching, tasting, or using your product, they won’t hear you!
Step Four is Negotiating a sale. Remember not to agree to anything, until you’re agreeing to everything.
Avoid agreeing to (for example) a price, without understanding fully the terms of sale. Discuss all aspects, e.g. price, who is meeting the delivery costs, minimum order quantities, credit terms, training costs where applicable, etc., before making an agreement. In negotiating, price is not the only factor. The buyer does not have all the power.
Step Five of the sales process is Closing. After all, that’s the point, no?
Watch out for buying signals. They will come and you need to be alert to take advantage. Consider different ways of closing the sale, including a once-off special offer, time limited offers, quantity-related offers, sensible comparisons with what others have done, the good-old “would you like the red one or the blue?” argument, demonstration of concrete benefits accruing, etc. And be alert to The Value of No.
Finally, Step Six is Following up, ongoing relationship building and delivery of quality customer care.
We all know the adage that people buy from people they like. Providing quality customer care is an essential pillar of this. When the sale is made, pick up the phone and ask how your customer is getting on. They’ll appreciate it.
The Sales Process and You
Do you know at what stage your various prospects are right now in your sales funnel? Do you understand how long it might take for you to close a sale? Are you ensuring that you follow up, rather than make a sale and move on? Apply The Sales Process to your thoughts and actions and watch your customer relationships improve and deepen.
So we know and accept that, all things being equal, your Facebook Page reach has dropped (sometimes significantly) over the last year or two. I think that’s fair enough and, if you want to “pay to play”, then here are 6 tips to improve your Facebook adverts.
Include a face in your ad.
Be very specific about who you are targeting.
Try out more than one image for the same ad.
Red grabs attention.
Positive emotions work best.
Follow the AIDA Model.
A face :
As humans (and consumers), we like to look at other people’s faces. Employing a nice, smiley face in your ad will help grab attention on the cluttered FB feed.
FB offers incredibly powerful targeting options. Use them to narrow the focus of your ad to the target market that really matters to you and your business.
Vary images :
For one single ad content, you have the option of trying out up to six different images. play around and discover which image works best, then concentrate your effort on that version of the ad.
If I feel nice when reading your Facebook adverts, I’m more likely to click on them to prolong the pleasant feeling.
Standing for “Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action”, the AIDA Model helps us focus in on the purpose of our ad. If we can locate ourselves and our business on the steps of this model, then we can better decide what we are trying to achieve with any given advert. Knowing what exactly its purpose is helps us devise a better ad.
Improve your Facebook Adverts
Advertising is now an essential part of the Facebook game we all play. I generally recommend that even the smallest micro-enterprise with a real audience on the platform should dedicate Euro 300 pa to Facebook adverts (plus VAT). Use these 6 tips to improve your Facebook adverts and see what positive results you are able to achieve.
Be sure to keep your eye on market trends, for the influence they have on small business can be enormous. This is one area where the micro-business owner cannot afford to take his/her eyes off the ball.
This is a core part of the first step of The Marketing Process, the so-called Situation Analysis. Existing and emerging trends can come to dominate the performance of a product or service within its marketplace. Pro-active management is critical here. The business owner who spots the trends also spots the resultant opportunities and/or threats.
That’s pretty fundamental stuff.
Look what has happened to so many pubs around Ireland that didn’t respond to trends in their sector. Look, too, at accommodation providers that didn’t embrace the likes of Booking.com, TripAdvisor or Airbnb.
On the other hand, look at the fabulous growth experienced by businesses like Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway, who quickly moved part of their business online. They saw the trend and adapted. Or all the little businesses providing healthy, more natural food for a more discerning audience. Or indeed other great people, like the early app developers, understanding that a more convenient way to consume and interact with brands was being demanded.
No market stands still for long – and that includes yours. Whether you are in FMCG or B2B, market trends can dictate what will happen next, in terms of product features or service delivery. You don’t want to get left behind. If you’re really good, you’ll even start a trend!
There’s a great business adage that you’ll lose 20% of your customers each year. I think that’s a great stat to keep in your mind at all times. At least eliminate one reason why that might happen, by keeping up with market trends.
So we have learned that Situation Analysis is the first step of the over-arching Marketing Process. One thought-provoking element of this is the PESTLE Analysis. You should sit down and consider the macro issues that are affecting or will affect your business sector.
But what is a PESTLE Analysis anyway?
PESTLE invites you to consider the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental issues, trends and changes that impact upon your sector and your ability to do business.
For example, if you want to sell your goods into politically unstable Market A, how do you propose to achieve that securely? Due to the economic downturn in Market B, might you need to down-spec the product, or reduce margin to maintain volume sales? You may first need to proof if your product is even socially acceptable in Market C, before you think about thriving there. How is the speed of technological advance impacting upon your R&D budget? How might you react to that legal change about to be introduced in key Market D? New environmental regulations in Market E might impact upon your packaging materials.
And so on.
Let’s look at some real examples.
Some years ago, the Irish smoking ban was a legal event that impacted upon many businesses, among them aluminium fabrication enterprises that spotted an immediate need for outdoors wall-mounted ashtrays. Bingo.
The move to mobile has forced the introduction of responsive website designs. Web designers who don’t have any on offer? Bye bye.
The WEEE Directive meant electronic goods retailers suddenly had to put in place systems to take back hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment from consumers.
In the US recently, we’ve seen how non-compliance with that country’s EPA requirements on car emissions can have a potentially major impact on manufacturers in that sector…
PESTLE Analysis and You
PESTLE can be a slightly head-wrecking exercise and should not be attempted in one sitting. You won’t be able to take it all in. Rather, absorb what is going on in the markets that matter to you and build up a file on impacts, both current and potential. You can already see how this ties in with SWOT Analysis, also part of the first step of the Marketing Process.
In lieu of Trade Show Secrets, you can substitute Consumer Show or Conference. The principles are essentially the same.
Often, we get so excited about unearthing enough marketing budget to allow us to exhibit at a show, that we forget these 7 trade show secrets to a successful event.
1. Preparation, preparation, preparation
Never book your stand at a trade show, conference or other event, then fall asleep because you think the job’s done and turn up on the day expecting miracles. Before the event comes along, be sure you’ve invited all those you’d like to meet on the day. That might include current clients, past and lost accounts, colleagues in the industry, journalists, influencers, reviewers, prospects, etc. Allocate specific times to meet. People are less likely to let you down if there’s a slot penciled in for them. However, try not to simply invite these people onto your booth in isolation. Ensure you’ve already put in some PR mileage and relationship building beforehand.
One of my favourite marketing adages is that “nobody gives a damn about your business but yourself”. Slightly crude and exaggerated this may be, but it serves to remind us that we must be communicating with our targets, because they’ve got a load of other stuff going on. 72 hours before the show’s opening, remind your prospects to come by and visit your stand. Do the same again on the day.
3. Show; don’t just tell
There is little worse for a busy buyer*, who has made the decision to spend some of his or her tight schedule on your stand, than to discover you have nothing to offer. Discuss some new product or service concept you’re working on and ask for their opinion. Show them something. Demonstrate, sample, taste, touch. Involve them. Inspire them.
4. Feed and water
Yes, they do want some snacks to eat and some liquid to drink. Not just coffee. And yes, they do want to sit down.
5. Follow up
The amount of what-turns-out-to-be-rubbish-or-forgettable that buyers collect at trade shows is extraordinary. Be the one who follows up. Stand out. Let this slip and you will slip their memory.
6. For yourself
Wear comfortable footwear. Bring with you a square metre of really good quality, thick carpet. Place it under the regular carpet of your stand floor towards the back of your space and retreat there when there are no visitors. This will save you aches and pains in your legs over the duration of the show and keep your energy levels up – one of my favourite trade show secrets! Drink lots of water and no alcohol. Eat plenty. Sleep plenty. Keep very good notes of who you’ve met, including basic physical features so you can picture them in your mind’s eye for the next time you meet. Even better, take their photo. Have a prioritised “to do” list for after the show. Smile.
7. Can’t afford to exhibit?
Many small and micro-enterprises simply don’t have the budget to book a stand at a major national or international trade show. What can be done? Here’s what. Nowadays, flights are cheap with the likes of Ryanair. Fly over and visit the stands of people you’d like to talk to. Visit others for research purposes. But here’s the secret : In this scenario, you are visiting their stand. And they are at the show to sell, not to buy. So do this work early in the day, right at the start of the opening hours. Because this is their dead time, when their prospects haven’t yet arrived at the show, so you’re not infringing on their selling time.
Trade Show Secrets
Exhibiting can be a big drain on any company’s marketing budget. Be sure to put in the ground work beforehand, use these trade show secrets and then follow up leads afterwards. The show is not a stand-alone gig, but rather should form an integral part of an ongoing pro-active marketing programme. Get comfortable with these trade show secrets and see your ROI, as well as your customer relationships, improve.
And remember that you can still gain value from a show, even if you’re not in a position to exhibit.
* For “buyer”, read buyer, specifier, influencer, financial controller, journalist, etc.
Not to be confused with the over-arching Marketing Process, here we are talking about one of the Seven Ps of the Marketing Mix for service businesses.
We’re all familiar with the famous Four Ps, namely product, place, pricing and promotion. But this list can be expanded out to the Seven Ps for services marketing. Services marketing is relevant to all people-facing businesses, like hairdressers, professional services, restaurants and bars, etc.
In this context, processes in marketing refers to how your business delivers its service at the customer interface : through each step of the customer experience.
Imagine, for example, entering a restaurant and being met by lovely staff who take your order competently and without undue delay, striking the right balance between friendly helpfulness and efficiency. Your food is served in a timely manner and the evening goes off smoothly, with no glitches. This would be an example of excellent processes in marketing.
Now imagine, on the other hand, a restaurant where dishes you didn’t order are served, the wine isn’t delivered without you having to remind the waiting staff, the bill is incorrect and so on. This might be how processes in marketing can go terribly wrong.
In a very large customer interfacing business, such as a theme park, issues might include :
* How to manage the queuing system
* Alternative ticketing options
* Location of restaurant and toilet facilities around the park
* Pathways and signage – how the customer actually gets around the park
Here’s a real-life example. A person recently booked a room in a hotel for a wheelchair-bound relative. The hotel was specifically asked if they had wheelchair accessible bedrooms. The receptionist was delighted to confirm that they did and the booking was taken. On arrival, it was discovered that neither the bar nor the hotel restaurant were accessible, both having several steps to be negotiated to gain access. This is a classic case of poor processes in marketing. Clearly, the receptionist should have known to point out these obvious hurdles during the booking process (telephone interaction).
We all know the adage that if you have a great experience you’ll tell three people, whereas if you have a bad one, you’ll tell twenty!
Make sure your processes are sound – that your customer experience is as it should be and that your business delivers its service in a correct, timely and uniform manner. But watch out : this is not to say that you shouldn’t deliver your service with personality. Quite the contrary. If you are confident about your processes, this in fact liberates you and your team to be personal and attentive in your delivery. And that’s wonderful for branding and gaining positive testimonials.
Processes in Marketing
Processes are about knowing what to do and how to do it, especially in services marketing. Do you work your customers through their experience of your business in an efficient, logical and friendly manner? Heck, is the coffee machine where I would expect it to be?
OK, so we’ve all heard of the Four Ps of Marketing, right? But in addition to the well-known Product, Price, Place (Distribution) and Promotion, there are three others to consider if yours is a service business – Physical Evidence, People and Processes. In this post, we’ll look at the first.
Physical Evidence is about what it says on the tin – the idea that your service business needs to “look the part”. How can an intangible service achieve this? It’s about how your premises and other assets (along with your service delivery) match your branding message.
A simple way to understand this concept is to think about the last restaurant you walked into. Typically, a restaurant is not located upstairs, because the need to walk up a staircase, peek inside the restaurant and retreat back down when we don’t like what we see is something that makes people uncomfortable. We prefer restaurants at street level, so we can comfortably look in and walk on by, if we so choose. We like to view the menu, see if there is a good crowd inside, check out the ambiance and get a “feel” for the place.
A friend of mine, who drives a lot for a living, once told me how he would never buy too big a company car, because it might give off the wrong impression to his clients.
To take a silly example : How would you feel if, when visiting a medical device manufacturing facility, the reception area in which you are seated, while waiting for your appointment, left a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness? Impressive physical evidence? I wouldn’t think so.
Let’s imagine you want to open a pizzeria with a fun theme, rather than the traditional rustic “Italian Family” feel. In this case, you might design a bright, funky decor to reflect this concept. Physical evidence should be, therefore, a key cornerstone of your branding message and should fit with your pricing, promotion and other elements of your services marketing mix.
But the relevance of physical evidence extends beyond simply the bricks and mortar outlet your business might take place in. Imagine if you were a creator of signage for vehicles and didn’t have a good quality sign on your own van. Or if you were a website designer with an outdated, poorly optimised, non mobile-friendly website of your own.
Physical evidence is one of the Seven Ps of the Marketing Mix for service businesses, along with product, price, place, promotion, people and processes. Like the others, it cannot stand alone, but great physical evidence can greatly help your business set the right tone and thrive.
Review your Physical Evidence
So, whether you are providing kayaking tours at the riverside, running a small family hotel or involved in financial services, take a look around your premises (or where and how your service is provided to your customers) and see if your physical evidence matches what your customers would like to experience. You’ve heard it before, punters love to comment on how they “didn’t like the look of the place”.
How do your premises and other facets of your business look? Are you portraying the right type of physical evidence that will entice your target market to do business with you?
Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) – Countrywide Search Begins (Official Press Release)
Competition to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, aged between 18 and 30, launched by An Taoiseach and Minister Bruton
Up to €50,000 investment prize-fund for three local winners, through Local Enterprise Offices.
The Taoiseach, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Local Enterprise Offices have launched the search to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE), with a total investment fund of €2 million available nationally and up to €50,000 on offer for three local winners.
Aimed at those aged between 18 and 30 in every county, the competition is an integral part of the Action Plan for Jobs and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices.
The Taoiseach and Minister Bruton urged all young people with a start-up or a business idea to apply through their Local Enterprise Office before 31st July. The competition is free to enter, and further information is available from the Local Enterprise Offices (www.localenterprise.ie) as well as at www.ibye.ie.
The first stage is a county-based competition, with a closing date of July 31st through the Local Enterprise Offices, leading to the naming of the Best Young Entrepreneur in each county. This will be followed by eight regional finals, with one young business-person being crowned Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur later in the year, at the national finals in Google’s European HQ in Dublin.
Up to €50,000 will be awarded to three winners in each county. The winners at national level can then receive up to an additional €50,000 and over 400 young entrepreneurs will also win places at regional Business Bootcamps with mentoring supports, to further develop their business skills.
During last year’s highly successful inaugural competition, over 1,000 applications were received, 400 young entrepreneurs took part in Business Bootcamps and 93 young entrepreneurs throughout every county in Ireland won cash investments for their businesses.
At the first-ever National Final, Eamon Keane of Xpreso Software in South Dublin clinched the overall title of ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ for his parcel delivery software company, ahead of runners-up from the tourism and food sectors.
The aim of the initiative is to support a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in Ireland, to promote entrepreneurship as a career choice and to encourage Ireland’s young people to set up new businesses which will ultimately create jobs.
Part of the effort to attract applications from young people both in Ireland and abroad will be a comprehensive social media and marketing campaign.
Launching the nationwide competition, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD said: “This Government is determined to support jobs, enterprise and local recovery, and make sure that work pays. Our vision for Ireland is to be among the most entrepreneurial nations in the world and to be acknowledged as a world-class environment in which to start and grow a business, including for young people with bright ideas. ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ is a unique, interactive and challenging competition, but with clear and tangible results, from self-development and networking to the valuable financial aid available to category winners. Increasing entrepreneurial activity is a core theme of the 2015 Action Plan for Jobs with the aim of doubling the jobs impact of start-ups in Ireland over the next five years.”
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: “Two thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups, so if we are to create the jobs we need we must support more entrepreneurs to start new businesses. That is why we have placed start-ups right at the centre of our Action Plan for Jobs, and put in place new measures like establishing a new system of easily-accessible supports through the Local Enterprise Offices.
“Part of this plan is also fostering a stronger culture of entrepreneurship and promoting start-up business as a career option for young people. That is what is behind this new competition to find the best young entrepreneur in every county in Ireland also ultimately Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur. Last year as part of the judging panel in the inaugural IBYE I was overwhelmed by the quality and the energy of the young business-people who took part in this competition. I firmly believe that IBYE can be a crucial means of encouraging more young people to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice and ultimately create jobs. I urge any person under 30 who has a business or a business idea to contact your local LEO or visit IBYE.ie and apply to become Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2015”.
The deadline to apply for this year’s Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition is Friday, July 31st and the full details are available through www.ibye.ie or by searching #IBYE on social media and YouTube.
For further information on IBYE, contact your Local Enterprise Office.