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Options for Sales – Lessons from Retail

One of the most important sales lessons I learned from my retail days when I was younger was the concept of options. Specifically, I was taught to offer no more than 3 options. As long as the options fit what the customer was looking for (or at least fit by some prioritization of features), 3 options drove customers to buy. Anymore and you risk of overwhelming customers. Today, this is still true, too, in B2B sales. I’m using a similar offer of three options in everyday life, even. Though, in my current role, I am not offering three products. I am providing three options to get an advancement of a sale. Curious about where this Rule of 3 came from, I did a little research and found a study between professors Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and Mark Lepper of Stanford University – “Why Choice is Demotivating”. In the study, Iyengar and Lepper provided samples of 6 or 24 flavors of jams or chocolates to passers-by. With 24 flavors, 60% of people stopped to try the flavors, whi…
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Sales Qualification Methods

Given my recent finish of SPIN Selling, sales qualification/ discovery processes weigh heavy on my mind. So, it’s no surprise then, that when I run into a new acronym that I wonder what it’s about – and how it’s different.
Here are a few sales qualification acronyms: BANT – this is a real popular one that was the foundation for many sales processes. It stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing.ANUM – evolution from BANT and heavily promoted by for years, this stands for Authority, Need, Urgency, and Money.SPIN – this is more about the process rather than qualification criteria. However, this comes from Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling – Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need pay-off.MEDDIC – this is a new one for me after hearing about this from a sales leader recently. This stands for Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain point, and Champion. This one is more comprehensive than the others. It aims to understand the buying proc…

300! Reflecting on How I Started

Yes, this is my 300th post!
My very first post was back on May 3, 2012 – “To be an effective consultant”. Yes, back in the day, I started the blog as SC Ninja Skills (SC = Supply Chain). I remember it – I wrote the first post sitting in a hotel in L.A. I went there before starting my MBA program at Emory. I remember having this idea to start the blog a year or so before. However, I thought I needed more experience. What did I have to offer?
In that seemingly random moment in the hotel room, though, the question flipped: “why do I have to wait till I’m in my 40s to influence others? To teach? To be influential? Haven’t Fortune 500 companies been hiring my consulting firm or requesting ME as a subject matter expert? I do know a lot even in my short career so far!” This was a huge moment for me as I realized my own worth. Confidence just flowed from there.
I started my pivot in September 2012 towards startups and entrepreneurship. I was in the throws of building Body Boss, and was help…

Book Review: SPIN Selling

Continuing my quest to read books and get more educated on all things sales, I wrapped up SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. I went through this book twice. First, to pick up the low-hanging fruit, and then a second go to better absorb.
SPIN is one of the preeminent B2B sales books. In fact, the book broke ground on the factors for successful complex sales vs. transactional. In fact, Rackham identified why many sales training methods at the time were ineffective –methods were well-suited for transactional sales, but fell short for complex sales. The book lay the ground work for other sales studies like The Challenger Sale.
My take-aways: Transactional vs. complex sales… The book did a great job at identifying why many closing techniques worked for simple sales, but failed for complex sales. Two of the more important points here were how the product/ service held such a primary role in the buying process of transactional sales. However, complex sales were about risk mitigation and addressi…

The [Employment] Struggle Is Real

I’ve talked to several people recently who have voiced their desires to strike out on their own and others who are toying with joining a large company. So, the question becomes of staying employed or being employed. I admit that I’ve struggled with this one, too, as I’ve now been an employee since early last year. Truth be told, I struggled with this a month-and-a-half into employment. (Yikes.)
Over the last several years I’ve spoken to many who jumped in both directions only to regret the jump only months in. Then, they’re looking to change again. No surprise many jumps occurred because not “feeling valued” – either in responsibility (/ growth) or pay – most commonly.
My advice (and yes, the same advice I give and take for myself) is to think about the bigger goal (the WHY) and realize what you (read: “I”) hope to achieve here and now, and the near-future. Yes, near-future – not necessarily long-term.
It’s easy to get enamored these days with something shinier… something that pays …

Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

I just completed Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I’ve been excited for so long to read it as it’s all about psychology.

The book was different in style than what I was expecting. Perhaps because I’ve read many sales books recently like The Challenger Sale and SPIN Selling (review to come). The book was focused from a point-of-view what Dale Carnegie’s identified as effective tactics as well as stories from either his students or great leaders – notably several U.S. Presidents.
Each chapter was a lesson, and as I read the book, I was wondering how I would employ each lesson. However, I realized it’d be too challenging being literal and narrow. Instead, the book could be best understood and employed by collapsing the lessons into broader concepts.
Here are my take-aways then: It’s never about you. Influencing others and creating a positive relationship starts from a place of empathy. Whether someone has done something wrong or has a contentio…

Closing Techniques Noticed From Car Sales

Tuesday’s post about an assumptive close (link) got me thinking of other recent events where sales pros used closing techniques – both were at car dealerships. Car sales seems to elicit the shudder of many people, and my recent experiences at car dealerships just played into the common stereotypes. I have both bought a car and went perusing with family recently.
Here were two primary closing techniques used: The Alternative Close I went to a dealership recently to buy a new 4Runner. I already knew what I wanted having owned a couple 4Runners including the vehicle I was replacing.
I’ve always loved having 4x4, and I wanted the following options/ packages: Limited, dark exterior, and a redwood interior. I first saw the redwood interior and loved it, and knew that’s what I wanted. I had pretty much closed the deal for the salesperson – coming in to buy. However, the exact vehicle was not in stock, and needed to be custom ordered. This would incur two months of delays.
The salesperson…