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DT’s Tower: A Team Without A Supporter

We don’t live in an ideal world do we?  On paper (and the Talent Dynamics square) it would seem to be a simple matter of getting a Supporter to lead your team productively, ensuring everyone was doing the things they most enjoyed, inspiring them and delegating new tasks effectively.

So what happens when there is no Supporter, not even as a secondary profile?  If the Supporter is the natural team leader, with their focus on people and relationships, its opposite profile, the Lord (with a focus on spreadsheets and structure) must be seen as the worst team leader. Right?

A Lord leading Creators

As I’ve mentioned previously… I’m a Lord (and yes, spreadsheets, flowcharts and numbers is where my mind naturally goes) and I lead a team of Creators.  Not a Supporter in sight but as a team we work well together and certainly find our flow. Structurally and creatively 🙂

This has got me thinking about how this works and what can be learned from it.  A core principle of Talent Dynamics is that the path to Flow is based on your natural talents.  What comes easily to you.  And by layering different talents together in a team you should be able to cover all potential situations.

Change What You Do, Not Who You Are

So the answer to the Lord leading a team isn’t by acting as a Supporter.  That takes me right out of Flow.  What puts me into Flow is information and structure.  So this is how I can help the team, I can effortlessly shape and relay the information so the Creators can concentrate on creating what is needed as efficiently and as accurately as possible.  Where Creators might float around a bit(!) working out what needs to be done, who needs to do it and by when I can help impose a structure (but not too much… they are Creators after all) that helps provide boundaries through organisation and project management.

Yet that is not all that the team needs.  And this is where there have been struggles.  Creators crave significance.  They don’t (always) need their ego stroking but they do need to feel that what they are doing has an impact.  As a Lord, heavy on the detail and big on the numbers I can lack the warmth of a Supporter (read: my highest praise is a nod of satisfaction with a bullet point list of feedback on what could be improved) so I needed to think hard on how to ensure the team gets what they need.

A Final Challenge

I’m still working on it! (I am a Lord after all) What I have come up with so far is to ensure that each team member has their own ‘area’,  a little fiefdom where they can take the action that they feel needs to be taken (using their initiative to best effect) and can immediately see the benefits of what they are doing (boosting their significance).

Yet Creators can often leave chaos in their wake, so I lean on my high Tempo energy to ensure that they know they can talk to me (one to one obviously) and together we can fix the problem in the long term (they’ll have already jury rigged something) and I can tweak the detail to ensure it isn’t likely to happen again.

A final thing that I am trying to do is lean on my Steel energy to tell ‘the story of the numbers’ behind their actions.  Using quirky visuals and plenty of colour they will be able to see what they are doing is having a significant impact and give them ideas of what can be done next (without boring them with black and white figures).  Thus starting the cycle again.

I just have to try hard to ignore their desks…

😀

Featured image courtesy of Glenn Pebley


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Nicci’s Call: Being A Successful Exhibitionist

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

There are opportunities to exhibit all year long if you look for them but make sure you have a Trader on your stand to get the best from the event.

You’ve seen those exhibitions where smartly suited Dynamo people are sitting behind their stand talking amongst themselves or on their phones so as not to waste time but end up not engaging with many people.

They are there to be seen but not necessarily to serve. They will go home thinking the exhibition was a waste of time and money!

Or the stands where the Blaze exhibitors have wide smiles outstretched arms asking “Can I help you?”  The obvious answer is “No, thanks” and scuttle on as you don’t know what they do or what to ask for.   They will wonder what they did wrong!

But if you want to have a busy exhibition stand, lots of people to talk to, have contact details for new prospects, give a good impression of what you do to a lot more people than you could at a networking event and maybe even make some money by selling your goods and services, make sure a Trader is on your team who will focus on the client and make sure the follow up is done!

Whatever profile you are, here are 3 of the many ways to leverage the value  of your exhibition stand:

  1. Don’t try and sell anything. 
  2. Give something valuable in return for a visitor’s business card 
  3. Make your stand an interactive experience

1. Don’t try and sell anything.

Don’t expect or try to sell anything immediately. You are there to build a relationship first and foremost so spend time engaging with your visitors, finding out more about them. Have some form of short survey to gain valuable market information, have something free to give them that tells them more about you, your services and your products.    Make sure any freebies relate to your products or services.

Too many people have something to give away that is just a waste of money as it is not relevant to your business nor memorable.

However, make it easy for your visitors to buy should they choose to by having special offers for the exhibition only as some people buy on impulse if you have explained your products and services well (there is a different mind-set  between selling something and enabling a visitor to buy something and that difference could cost you the sale!).

Your Trader team member will make sure you have all the paperwork and everyone is followed up.

  • What questions could you use to engage and draw visitors in?
  • If you choose to have a free gift, what does it say about you? And what benefits does it give your visitor?
  • Plan special offers to give on the day.

2. Give something valuable in return for a visitor’s business card

Adding new names to your database is a key objective of being at an exhibition but visitors are more reluctant to give away their details these days for fear of being bombarded with irrelevant emails. So you have to make the give-away prize or prize draw something really special.  Think about what would appeal to you ideal client – a spa break? An high octane experience like driving an F1 car or flying in a wind tunnel? Or one of your VIP programmes?

They also want to know that they will be sent valuable information not sales chasers.

  • How will you encourage and reward visitors for giving you their contact details?

3. Make your stand an interactive experience

In order to engage with your visitors, you want them to spend time with you on your stand, so give them something to do while they are there.

Traders are all about the customer experience:

  • Guess the price
  • Competitive game
  • Photo booth that gets retweeted and talked about, e.g. when I was promoting sales programmes I had cardboard cut-outs of sales superheroes people could pose in which got our stand talked about and invited to other events
  • What is your key selling point?
  • How can visitors have an experience or an insight of what you do in a few minutes on your stand?

Where will your exhibition be in the next few months?


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Nicci’s Call: Customer Care or Customer Scare?

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

The client experience is paramount in their decision to buy from us so we are aware that we have to go beyond customer satisfaction and deliver great service.

Trader profiles are great at considering and executing that.  If you have a customer facing business you will want a Trader profile to welcome clients, resolve any problems, follow up with their requests and requirements and be patient on the end of a phone to irate customers.

But what about those clients that are genuinely a pain?! You know the ones you dread seeing their number come up on your phone, you swerve to avoid bumping into them at conferences, they seem to take up 80% of your time and patience for less than 10% of your revenue.

Just for a bit of fun leading up to Halloween we will look at particularly nightmarish customers, why we find them so and some tips on how to deal with them or who should deal with them.

There are a few examples here and we’ll be posting them daily in the lead up to Halloween on the Talent Dynamics for Sales Facebook page,  see if you can identify the dark side of the profiles?!

The Vampire

With the aim of bleeding you dry, the Vampire is never happy until he thinks he has got the best deal possible.  He will test your sales and negotiating skills pushing for more and more concessions and wanting assurance that he is getting a better deal than anyone else.

He will feel it is a privilege you doing business with him and therefore he is worth special attention and a celebrity status of customer care. He may also come up with his own ideas of what your best service should look like and not be shy of telling you.

The Vampire wants to feel significant and important.

Use this experience to improve your customer care and if possible make it a standard you can give everyone (just don’t let the Vampire know that!). The Vampire wants to feel that he has sucked out all possible concessions, discounts, bonuses and benefits.

Make sure you get something back for every concession (longer subscription terms, less time spent face to face) but that you give maximum value to the Vampire which doesn’t bite into your profits (bonuses of already created products, invitations to events).

The Vampire will also appreciate personalised, monogrammed gifts and become a loyal customer if you can keep him sweet with morsels like that from time to time.

The Witch

The Witch seems like she is out to get you!  She has unrealistic demands and wants more and more information. At each visit her demands increase and when you think you have supplied her with everything she asks, she just screams for more information, statistics, testimonials. When you meet her she wants to control the meeting and will turn up late and change the appointment at the last minute.

The Witch wants security that she is not taking a risk by buying from you so tests your loyalty at every stage.

As a result she needs a lot of information in order to make her decision, more so than other clients.  She will respect your strength if you stand up to her and not surrender to her every demand, so manage her expectations and explain why delivery at 4am will cost a premium.

Share the cost implications of her demands with her and she will be astute enough not to waste money needlessly. At the same time give her the information she craves and more if at all possible (at the end of the day she just needs security). Give her realistic and feasible guarantees that takes the insecurity and risk away.

By providing her with her demands you will build up a bank of proof, statistics and data that you can use with other customers and by taming her you will have a loyal ambassador for your company. It’s worth the effort.

Can you guess the dark side of these profiles?  Happy Halloween with your customers and prospects!


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Nicci’s Call: Trusted Sales at the Trust Conference

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

“Trust” and “selling” are not always concepts that go hand in hand in people’s minds. For that reason I was gratified that my talk “Trusted Sales: People to People Selling” at the recent Trust Conference was packed out.

Also, nearly everyone in the room gave me their contact details to get the free report I had prepared for the event. Anyone who has done a talk or an exhibition stand will know how difficult it is these days for people to give up their contact details.

For the past year I have been researching the ways the 8 Talent Dynamics profiles have success in sales, have blocks in selling and therefore how I can help them be more successful.  I’ve shared some of this in my blogs here along the way.

Based on this, here is the 3 step plan to win better business that I shared with the room on 11th September.

1. Establish the Sales Dynamics profiles of your sales team (or at least yourself)

I have looked at many sales cycles adopted by different companies and found the common activities and sales skills match the 8 Talent Dynamics profiles (See above).  As a result, the  Talent Dynamic for Sales Reports (available later this year) show the strengths and challenges of each profile as a sales person, their best role in the Sales Cycle and the value they give to the sales team and the client.

Knowing your own Sales Profile gives you confidence and insights into how you can add value to the client as a salesperson.

For example, a Trader is great at resolving problems, at giving excellent customer service so is well suited to incoming inquiries and complaints that other profiles with less patience would not handle well.

Whereas a Creator sales person is best with new clients, spotting opportunities and helping the client come up with new joint ideas for growing their business, that others hadn’t thought of before.

2. Place the sales team members in the role they are best suited to within the sales cycle

A sales team full of Stars will generate a lot of interest but may leave sales on the table through lack of follow up, for example.

Some salespeople may be pretending to be a Star as feel that is a “typical” attribute of a salesperson when in fact their true Accumulator profile is just what the team needs to do the planning, research and put together competitive tenders. So once the Sales team has completed their profiles, we can help them fulfil their potential by placing them in the right role for them in the sales team.

3. Focus on your clients

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, the most important thing in trusted selling is to put the client first.   Imagine the power of Talent Dynamics for Sales in creating better relationships and better understanding between buyers and sellers, so not only do you understand your own strengths , challenges and value as a sales person but you understand what drives your buyers to buy.

I didn’t have time to cover as much as I wanted on this aspect, so I’ve put a free Sales Success report together for you that you can implement ideas from immediately. If you missed the session and would like a copy you can get it from http://trustedsalesdynamics.com/resources/e-guides/

I am  passionate about making sales a trusted profession, making people feel proud to be a salesperson and I was gratified that so many people at the Trust Conference felt the same and wanted to be part of the Trusted Sales  Movement.


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Nicci’s Call: Digging for the REAL Problem

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

I’ve been talking to some Sales Directors recently and they all expressed frustration with the same problem – their sales people take their prospects at face value!

A One-Sided Relationship

With sales people anxious to get their next sale, they are making the sales relationship too one-sided in favour of the buyers. So if a buyer says meet me at 9am on Monday morning in Amsterdam, instead of negotiating a mutually convenient time, the sales person will fly out on Sunday night without having organised enough other appointments in the area. When a simple exploration of other mutually convenient times would make the trip much more beneficial for the sales person with no negative impact on the client.

Or the buyer will say we need to save money on our training services, the sales person will work on slashing their prices rather than find out what the outcomes required are from their training and how effective their current methods have been.

What the buyer is really saying is we want a better return on our training, so understand our needs better and give us a programme that delivers on that.

Dig Deep!

Inexperienced sales people or sales people under pressure are too busy chasing the sale rather than really digging deep and exploring the real needs of the client. That means they are missing bigger opportunities.

We can learn a lot from the Deal Maker in this area. The Deal Maker is great at asking questions, listening and coming up with solutions that grow value for everyone they connect with.

1. Deal Makers will ask more questions…

…than most to establish how best to provide that value, coach out of the client what is really important to them and not accept their first answer on face value. That way they are likely to uncover a bigger problem or the real underlying problem and can provide a solution for that.

For example,

A client asked me to provide a quote for sales presentation skills. When questioning about the need for it now, what were the issues they wanted resolved, etc. it was revealed there was a deeper problem with the sales force, the operations team and the marketing department.

The sales presentation was just the tip of the iceberg. So the training requirement grew from a 2-day course to a few months of working together on tailored programmes.

2. Deal Makers will  listen more than talk

“When you talk you are only repeating what you already know; But when you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama

3. Deal Makers think about the best outcome for all parties

The win-win scenario, even if it is as simple as negotiating a mutually convenient time and place to meet.

If the sales relationship is a 2-way dialogue which works for both parties it is likely to be more efficient and effective for both sides.

For example,

If you are required to put in a tender for some work but see that the tender doesn’t take into account some areas you feel are important. Rather than take the tender on face value and dutifully comply, as all the other sales people are likely to do, raise the issues you see are missing and address how you would resolve those.

The salesperson will earn the respect of the prospect and the prospect is likely to get a better, more informed service.

Explore the Problem

“The customer is always right” was first said by Henry Selfridge in 1909 to expound excellent customer service in his department store. Instead of starting with an assumption that one party is always right, explore the problem in more depth to discover not who is right but what is wrong and how you can resolve it.

Nicci Bonfanti will be leading one of the Break- Out sessions at the Trust Conference on September 11th.


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Nicci’s Call: Are You Giving Relevant Value?

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

There are three basic pre-requisites to being successful at selling which are open to ALL profile types:

  1. Believing in your services, products and yourself.  See ‘What is Blocking Your Flow of Sales?’
  2. Understanding and caring about your prospects.  See ‘One Thing That Differentiates Trusted Selling From Bad Selling’ 
  3. Being able to communicate what you sell to your target audience in a value-driven way to solve their problems or achieve their dreams.

Making People Feel Great!

As a Supporter coach and trainer my goal has always been to make people feel great about themselves, to achieve things they didn’t think they could, to reach the potential I see in them which is not as limiting as the potential they see in themselves.

If you listened in to Roger James Hamilton’s interview with Michelle last week you will have heard him say a similar thing and point out that if your sales and marketing is focused on people’s problems, they feel like a victim and keep the information to themselves.

If however, you focus on what they are proud of and good at, they will want to shout it from the rooftops, share it with everyone and thus give you a firm recommendation which is much more valuable than any email campaign coming directly from you.

Giving Value

So are your emails and social media posts giving value, is there something your prospects can learn from, take away and use, share with their clients and colleagues?

Is that value relevant for everyone on there? If you don’t know the answer to that question or you are guessing, ask them. We get in the habit of sending the same email to our entire database whether it is still relevant for them or not. By asking them, you’ll be able to target your marketing with more relevance and value for your different audiences.

Are you listening to your clients? Communication is a 2-way street. Once they have come back to you, reply. Amend their emails from now on accordingly as much as you can so that you demonstrate that you have listened, you care and only send relevant content and ideas to them in future.

Roger talked about an engagement tree rather than a marketing funnel. The implication is that prospects can follow their own paths with you rather than you pushing everyone in the same direction towards the same end.

This implies sophisticated email and database software but even without that you can have different messages for different segments of your audience and whilst that may seem time consuming the results are bound to be higher within smaller targeted groups than the same message going out to thousands and not being read by the majority of them.

Roger’s final point was: Don’t get seduced by big numbers in your sales and marketing but focus on the smaller group of trusted people who you can support and who support you by sharing their experiences of you to the wider audience.

Nicci Bonfanti will be leading one of the Break- Out sessions at the Trust Conference on September 11th.


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Nicci’s Call: ONE Thing That Differentiates Trusted Selling from Bad Selling

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

Put the client’s interests first.  Before your own!

Cold Call

What is it about cold calling and pushy sales that leaves you cold or even makes you angry when you are on the receiving end?

It’s the feeling that you don’t matter to the salesperson, you are just a number, a name on a list to call, that the salesperson doesn’t care about you at all but is just trying to get your money.  Am I right?

Trusted People to People selling is not about manipulating or pushing people into buying things they may not need or want.

It’s about connecting with people, getting to know them, understanding them and finding a fit. A much more informative, enjoyable and profitable experience for both parties.

It may seem counter intuitive but actually by putting your client’s needs before your own you are much more likely to make the sale and make it a bigger and longer lasting one too.

So what is involved in putting your client’s needs first?

Understand Them

Understand them, their problems and issues and build rapport in a trusted relationship

A lot of sales people have Star profiles and this is the best profile for attracting others, communicating the message. In their enthusiasm and excitement Stars may get carried away and lead a conversation with their new product.

Instead of this some key questions, putting the spotlight on the prospect, not themselves, would give greater insight into what the client wants first before proposing a solution.

That way the prospect feels listened to, cared about, and will be more open to your suggestions and advice tailored to their own needs, than a general “pitch” about the products that may not have taken their needs into account. In other words, don’t lead with a seller offer but with a buyer need. And you won’t know what that buyer need is until you’ve listened to them and asked them key questions

Create Value

Ask not what you can profit from your client but what value you can bring to your client?

Once you have understood their problems you can decide whether and how you can help them with it and where your value sits with their problem.

This whole process is accelerated when you know their Talent Dynamic profile as you immediately know what is important to them; – Dynamos want to feel significant, Blazes need variety, Tempos want to feel connected and Steels want assurance and security, so you can tailor your response to answer those needs.

Some clients may think they know what they want but by digging deeper to find what the real problem is, and not just taking their order, you will be giving them more value of your expertise and experience and potentially getting a bigger order from it.

I have worked with a lot of Stars who are proud of their sales record. However when they have realised the importance of listening first and putting the client first they have understood the sales they have lost and those orders they took that weren’t renewed.

Build the relationship first, the ongoing trust and value will then ensure you continue to do business for the long term.

I’ll give the final word to Stephen M.R Covey:

Nicci Bonfanti will be leading one of the Break- Out sessions at the Trust Conference on September 11th.


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Nicci’s Call: What is Blocking your Flow of Sales?

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

Probably you!

I work with a lot of people who are great at what they do, have fabulous products or services to offer and have had a degree of success at the start of their business but for different reasons the number of new clients are drying up, they are not growing the business or getting the level of sales or income they feel they deserve and….. they are worried about being perceived as pushy or desperate if they were to make concerted sales efforts!

But today, people to people selling is not about manipulating or pushing people into buying things they may not need or want. It’s much more about connecting with people, understanding them and finding a fit. A much more informative and enjoyable experience for both parties.

There are three basic pre-requisites to being successful at selling which are open to ALL profile types:

  1. Believing in your services, products and yourself
  2. Understanding and caring about your prospects
  3. Being able to communicate what you sell to your target audience in a value-driven way to solve their problems.

This month’s blog will focus on the first of these.

Self Belief

If you’ve been thinking that sales has become more challenging, you’re right.

The basics are pretty much the same, but today’s business environment is more dynamic than ever. The competition is bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter than ever, and your clients are more educated, as well.

They are searching for information by themselves, and looking to salespeople not to show them different marketing materials and list features and benefits, but to understand their wants, needs, and business concerns from the customers’ perspective.

It is time to use an approach tailored to this new market, and for that you need a new skill set that combines sales skills, persuasion, psychology, and a good understanding of Talent Dynamics.

The Talent Dynamics report we have for ourselves is a great source of comfort – permission to be ourselves, identifying our talents and value to others but sometimes we need reminding of that and how to use that information to make more sales.

The Creator profile is great at spotting opportunities, of creating products, services and programmes that are innovative, unique and compelling. They can make recommendations that their clients will listen to and follow as they are trusted experts and can help the clients solve their problems.

Once a Creator remembers that and puts the client first – the client that needs these programmes – and not their own ego or fear of rejection then they make valued and trusted salespeople that the clients are attracted to.

The Creator (you’ll recognise her in the video below) has a fantastic service and product that she truly believed in and is really passionate about helping young people but there was something blocking her that was stopping her getting as much success as she deserved.

The block was herself – her fear of failure, of rejection of coming across as a pushy salesperson which would damage the credibility of what she was doing.  Once she remembered her talents and skills as a Creator and that her mission to help others was more important than her fear of rejection she was back in flow.

So if you are not getting the sales you deserve, start by looking in the mirror and really understanding yourself and believing in what you have to offer.

Nicci Bonfanti will be leading one of the Break- Out sessions at the Trust Conference on September 11th.


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Nicci’s Call: Leveraging the Value of Your Sales Meetings

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

Lots of sales people make the mistake of talking too much in the first meeting with a new prospect, anxious to tell them everything about their company, products or services. The big opportunity of a first meeting is to discover the real scope of the prospect’s problems, by talking at them they will miss opportunities.

So use the first prospect meeting as a fact finding mission rather than a chance to roll out your usual presentation.

You are there to identify opportunities and find a mutual fit to see if and how you can actually help them. They should be doing most of the talking for 4 reasons

  1. So you can get a proper understanding of their issues so your proposal back to them can be tailored to those
  2. So you can lead and guide the meeting in the direction you want it to go
  3. So you don’t give away any of your expertise content now but just explain to them what they need to do, not how. That comes once you are working together
  4. If you don’t already know what their Talent Dynamics profile is, you will be able to get an idea from their conversation.

If you do know their Talent Dynamics profile, plan your questioning to accelerate the rapport building.

Dynamo Prospects

Start by focusing on them

  • Ask them to give you an overview of where the company is at and their role in it
  • Do they see big changes on the horizon?
  • What are the key issues that matter to them?

When talking about a product or service you have to help them,

  • Use a few key points to give an overview
  • Let them know the significance of the product or service to them personally as well as to the organisation
  • Point out new or innovative features and why that will benefit them
  • Speak in an animated manner and at a fairly rapid pace

At the end of the meeting ask them:

“How do you see us working together?”

Blaze Prospects

Start by focusing on them

  • Ask them to tell you how things are at the organisation, pick up on specific events or people you’ve heard about or that they’ve mentioned and ask about them
  • Ask them what they have heard about you and your organisation

When talking about a product or service you have to help them,

  • Give specific examples and case studies of other customers’ good experiences
  • Be personable and smile a lot as they will see that as a sign of acceptance
  • Speak in a casual, frank and friendly manner
  • Stay on task and don’t get too distracted by stories

At the end of the meeting ask them:

“Have you heard enough to make a decision about moving forward together?”

Tempo Prospects

Start by focusing on them

  • Ask them what they thought about the information you have sent them so far
  • Involve them in the process by asking what they thing about things in the organisation today
  • Ask them what would they change if they could

When talking about a product or service you have to help them,

  • Take time to go over a full list of advantages and benefits
  • Explain any side benefits or peripherals that are pertinent
  • Provide testimonials that highlight facts
  • Move at a steady, even pace

At the end of the meeting ask them:

“How would you like to take the next step forward?”

Steel Prospects

Start by focusing on them,

  • Ask them how business is doing
  • Ask them what improvements they are looking to make this year or this quarter
  • Ask them what they know about you so far

When talking about a product or service you have to help them,

  • Know your stuff, winging it will not cut it with them
  • Be able to show a bottom line on prices, features and benefits to them
  • Highlight any productivity benefits to them
  • Show them all the specifications
  • Take your time

At the end of the meeting ask them:

Do you need any further information to take a decision to move forward together?

Then make plans for the next meeting together.

Who will you try this approach with first?

More information about how you can leverage the value of your sales meetings at www.TrustedSalesDynamics.com

Nicci Bonfanti will be leading one of the Break- Out sessions at the Trust Conference on September 11th.


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Nicci’s Call: Trusted Sales Story of Zappos

By Nicola Bonfanti – Talent Dynamics for Sales

All of the Talent Dynamics for Sales programmes are based on the 5 steps to Trusted Selling

  1. Transparency at all times
  2. Respect and rapport with prospects and clients accelerated by using their Talent Dynamics profile
  3. Understand the needs of the customer and put them first
  4. Share the journey for long term relationships
  5. Trusted advisors more than salespeople

To illustrate 3 of these points there is a lot we can learn from the online shoe store, Zappos. It is in the media for it’s holocratic (no job titles, no managers) culture of happiness and it’s amazing customer service but they are also incredibly successful at selling – turning over $1 billion a year. So whatever business you are in, their sales and marketing strategies are worth looking at.

Transparency at all times

Zappos has shown equal transparency in delivering both good and bad news. In January 2012, the company’s accounts were hacked – making 24 million customers vulnerable.

Rather than attempting to ignore this situation, Zappos openly admitted to the crisis and encouraged its customers to change their passwords.  Likewise recently Kayne West (singer) accused Zappos publicly of selling sh*t product. Rather than shying away from this – Zappos posted a toilet for sale on their website to join in with the publicity.

Zappos understood that transparency, regardless of whether the news is good or bad, is the right way to do business to win and keep clients.

Share the journey – long term relationships

Zappos does not sell discount or unique products. They have no competitive advantage when it comes to products yet they still make over $1B in sales. How?

Their secret lies in customer service and word-of-mouth referrals from people who have been absolutely delighted by their purchasing experience. Zappos invests heavily in creating experiences for its customers in the buying and service process.  This is responsible for their incredible word-of-mouth sales success with 75% of their sales coming from returning clients.

Their CEO, Hsieh says:

“I think the main thing is just trust [the customer service reps] and let them make their own decisions. … we generally try to stay away from policies, we just ask our reps to do whatever they feel is the right thing to do for the customer and the company.”

Trust within your staff spreads to your clients and increases sales. That’s a good place to start.

Understand the needs of the customer and puts them first

Zappos pride themselves on their communication. Call centre employees don’t have scripts, and there are no limit on call times. The longest call reported is 10 hours 29 minutes.

If a customer calls for a product and Zappos does not have the product in stock, they recommend a competitor who has it.

The CEO, Hsieh says that, while Zappos will lose the sale, in the long run it’s best for Zappos because the customer appreciates the help and tells their friends the story. It creates positive word of mouth publicity. The money they would have spent on advertising and marketing they invest in making the customer’s experience so amazing that they tell their friends and come back for more.

Are there any lessons there for your business?

Nicci Bonfanti will be leading one of the Break- Out sessions at the Trust Conference on September 11th.


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