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StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

Sign in Why Your Sales Figures Are Low & How To Improve Them

One thing that a lot of newer businesses struggle with is sales. Have you noticed that your figures are down on your monthly sales report? Are you concerned about the reason why that is? The important thing is not to panic. Your sales might be low, but that doesn’t mean that your business is doomed to fail. Sure, it may fail if things don’t pick up, but if you can turn things around, that doesn’t have to be the case.

In order for your sales to pick up, you need to understand why they are low in the first place and how you can improve them. Bearing that in mind, below is a guide to some of the most common reasons why businesses have low sales and ways to change that. For everything that you need to know, read on.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Your product isn’t needed

If there is one reason why products do not sell, it is because they aren’t needed. If you are offering a product that has no value to it or is too similar to another product, the chances are that it won’t sell. Most people won’t buy products that they don’t need, so what you offer needs to be something that is needed. If this isn’t the case, as a brand, you need to convince people that they need your product. Take bottled water, for instance; it isn’t a necessity because water comes out of the tap, and yet, billions of bottles of the stuff are sold each year. Why is that? Because customers have been convinced that it tastes nicer and is better for them than tap water. Want your product to sell? Yes – then you need to convince people that they need it.

There’s no urgency

Have you seen those TV infomercials where the company offers 40% off for a period of 30 days. They always state things like ‘get yours now before it’s gone’ and ‘buy yours now at our reduced rate’. These kinds of messages and deals create a sense of urgency, which encourages consumers to make a purchase there and then, instead of putting it off. This is a fantastic marketing ploy and one that all businesses should use.

Your marketing isn’t on point

If people don’t know about your product, then they can’t buy it, can they? Sometimes the reason that a product isn’t successfully selling is because it is not being marketing in the right way. The key to success is using multiple marketing streams, including both inbound and outbound marketing. What you want to ensure is that your marketing is professionally planned and managed, so say you want to incorporate PPC, it’s worth using a service like Falcon Digital Marketing PPC, instead of attempting to deal with this yourself. As by going professional, you can ensure that the methods in place are effective, and will help to boost sales.

There is a lack of trust

For a product to be successful, consumers need to trust the brand. If there is a lack of trust, this can mean that a product doesn’t sell as well as it should do. To build trust, it’s a case of building a rapport with consumers. The best ways to do this is via offering the best customer care and using tools like social media to help boost the rapport between your brand and your consumers. Think networking chats, competitions, and giveaways – anything that helps to build a relationship is useful.

There you have it, a guide to why your sales figures are low and ways that you can improve them.

Sharon Drew Morgen

Get the Yes: Winning Funding, RFPs, and Grants

When we seek funding or respond to an RFP, our proposals meet the criteria requested, presenting well-positioned information to persuade the decision makers to choose us. But winners are chosen by some mysterious set of criteria not only unknown to us, but often unknown to them. I began thinking about this when a friend told me she was writing a grant proposal. With my systems-thinking brain I asked her:

  • How will they choose you over other worthy requests?
  • What personal and professional criteria will members of the funding team consider before dropping others to fund you instead?
  • How do political in-fighting or long-term client/colleague relationship preferences factor in to the decision process?
  • How does your request fit in with their annual strategic plan? The commitments to their funding sources?

She had no answers, but resolutely believed that importance of her mission would rule the day. She has a 10% success rate, even though in many instances she knows people on the committee. That means she wastes 90% of her valuable time. Her strong appeal, great writing, and the importance of her message are lost because the criteria of those who might fund her driven by more than merit.

Decision Makers Driven By Unconscious, Unstated Criteria

Unfortunately, there are no ready answers to the above questions, even if they are posed. Here’s why:

  1. There’s no ‘one’ person on the committee who can convey the personal and political communication patterns that are largely unstated.
  2. An outsider can never understand the non-verbal, implicit, historic criteria being applied that’s most likely different in each situation.
  3. The funding group itself doesn’t always have a consistent, conscious understanding of why it does what it does.
  4. The questions an outsider asks to ‘understand’ are biased, gleaning biased data – not to mention that Responder most likely isn’t speaking for the entire group.

Using conventional practices of submitting a well-written, compelling, and provocative grant or proposal, or making a professional presentation, it’s a crap shoot. But it’s possible to have more success by facilitating the decision makers through their unconscious, mysterious process and helping them recognize, before they begin, the issues they will need to address to succeed.

Case Study

My clients in large corporations (naively) believe they win on either price, relationship history, or quality/brand. Here’s a real story.

A global consulting client received an RFP from a Fortune 50 company – the company historically used Company X as their consulting provider. My client, delighted at the chance to win new business, assembled a large team to respond to the multimillion dollar RFP. When I asked them what’s stopping the Fortune 50 company from using Company X now, my client went silent. They called the Fortune 50 company and asked:

CONSULTING CO: What’s stopping you from using Company X again this time?

FORTUNE 50: Nothing. We’re going to use them again. We just needed a second bid.

True story. Since we now knew we wouldn’t win the RFP, we chose a different route. We offered a cover page and a couple of pages of Facilitative Questions [a new type of question I developed that enables Responders to assemble/recognize unconscious, systemic criteria – in this case, regarding implementation, buy-in/consensus, resistance issues that would be a natural fall-out from a project of this size]. We wrote a note:

“We are interested in winning your business, and we’ve included an overview of the types of services we provide. However, since you will be using Company X, we’ve decided not to respond to the RFP but instead offer you a real service. We’re sending along some important questions to answer before you begin your project to ensure a successful implementation. We hope you find these valuable. And if the time comes you would like to have a conversation around how we can serve you in projects such as these, we look forward to putting our best team together to help you be successful.”

I spent some time understanding the human systems that would show up during this project and formulated about 40 Facilitative Questions to help the client uncover answers to problems that would come up but were not included in the RFP, such as:

  • How will you know when you have assembled the appropriate group of people to give you the full set of correct data before you begin, to ensure you won’t use faulty or incomplete data moving forward?
  • What would you need to set up at the very beginning of the project to ensure continuing communication among all involved, at each stage of the project, to ensure there is no time or resource wastage due to insufficient information being circulated?

By answering these questions, the client would have 1. Knowledge of potential problem areas that didn’t show up on the RFP, 2. Knowledge that we knew how to achieve successful implementations, 3. Knowledge we were professional, focused on their success, and eager for the business. We didn’t hear back for two months. Then they called and hired my client because their chosen providers didn’t address any of the buy-in/consensus/resistance issues we highlighted, and they realized there would be costly (in the millions) implementation problems. My client won the business with no proposal, just the two pages of Facilitative Questions that helped their prospect put their ducks in a row and avoid potential problems.

Why Does Excellence To Occur?

  1. If you merely offer a good proposal or presentation, you will never know how funders or clients will choose you.
  2. Groups who send out RFPs or offer funding only offer data points of what they think they need. They, themselves, most likely don’t know the idiosyncratic values-based, personal criteria each decision member will use when a vote is taken.
  3. Groups sending out RPS or funding sources seeking clients to back don’t know all the consensus or implementation issues that will occur during the implementation.

It’s possible to override these problems by helping funders/clients recognize what they need with by teaching them how to uncover and manage the hidden issues necessary for excellence to occur with minimal disruption. To differentiate yourself, use the opportunity of seeking business (i.e. doing a presentation), funding, or responding to a proposal to show them you can help them address their systemic shifts and give them the knowledge that you are a knowledgeable partner.

For my clients, I have created a decision facilitation model (Buying Facilitation®) that produces about 30% more success with proposals and presentations. You can create your own consensus/implementation model to add to your proposals and presentations, so long as they include the ability to help the clients manage the steps they’ll need for success.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to www.didihearyou.com to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.

Sharon Drew Morgen

Using Buyer Personas During Pre-Sales Stages

Buyer Personas do a great job targeting marketing and sales campaigns to reach the most probable buying audience. But it’s possible to make them even more efficient.

Here’s a question: Do you want to sell/market? Or have someone buy? The belief is that if you can sell/market appropriately – the right campaign to the right buyer with the right solution at the right time – buyers will buy. If that were true, you’d be closing a helluva lot more than you’re closing. Sure, Buyer Personas make a difference in your close rate. But it could be higher.

Currently, your targeted campaigns blanket probable audiences and find buyers at the exact moment they are considering buying, merely closing the low hanging fruit. It’s possible to enter earlier and facilitate (and influence) the complete buying journey.

Stages in the Buying Decision Path

Sales and marketing address activities surrounding solution placement: solution pitch details, solution features, etc., vendor details, gathering needs. But neither facilitate the entire decision path which constitutes issues beyond choosing a solution. Some might call these ‘Pre-Sales’ events. I call it the Buying Decision Path, along which sales is merely one of the entry points needed to close a sale.

Briefly, here are the stages buyers go through prior to purchasing a solution (Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it fully details each stage www.dirtylittlesecretsbook.com):

1. Idea stage.

2. Brainstorming stage. Idea discussed with colleagues.

3. Initial discussion stage. Colleagues discuss the problem, posit who to include on Buying Decision Team, consider possible fixes and fallout. Action groups formed. Research begins. New Team members invited.

4. Contemplation stage. Group discusses:
a. how to fix the problem with known resources,
b. whether to create a workaround using internal fixes or seek an external solution, and acceptable type/amount of fallout from each,
c. people who would need to buy-in.

5. Organization stage.

6. Change management stage. Group determines:
a. if more research is necessary (and who will do it),
b. if all appropriate people are involved (and who to invite),
c. a review of all elements of the problem and solution,
d. the level of disruption and change management as per type of solution chosen,
e. the pros/cons/possibilities of external solution vs current vendor vs workaround.

7. Coordination stage. Review needs, ideas, issues of any new members invited aboard and how they affect choices and goals; incorporate change considerations for each solution; delineate everyone’s thoughts re goals and change capacity; appropriate research responsibilities.

8. Research stage. Specific research for each possible solution; seek answers to how fallout or change would be managed with each solution.

9. Consensus stage. Buying Decision Team members meet to share research and determine the type of solution, fallout, possibilities, problems, considerations in re management, policies, job descriptions, HR issues, etc. General decisions made. Buy-in and consensus necessary.

10. Action stage. Responsibilities apportioned to manage specifics of Stage 9. Owners of tasks do thorough research and make calls to several vendors for interviews and data gathering.

11. Second brainstorming stage. Discussion on results of data gathering including fallout/ benefits of each. Favored vendors pitched by Team members.

12. Choice stage. New solution agreed on. Change management issues delineated and leadership initiatives prepared to avoid disruption. Vendor contacted.

13. Implementation stage.

Buyers have to manage these stages (most of which are not solution- or problem-specific) with you or without you. Without being directly involved with behind-the-scenes politics or processes you’re left waiting, pushing product data, and hoping to be there they’re ready. And knowing the details of your Buyer Persona is insufficient.

Do you want to sell/market? Or have someone buy? Right now your efforts to sell and market are bringing in no more than 5% close rate (net). To become the vendor who truly helps buyers buy, to get an early leg-up on the competition and become part of the Buying Decision Team during the Pre-Sales process, sales (entering at stage 1) and marketing (entering at stage 3) can add another layer of skills, tools, goals, and touch points.

Buying Facilitation® is a Pre-Sales Management model that I’ve developed and taught for 30 years. It employs a specific quided approach to lead buyers through their internal politics and change processes, with profoundly different results from using sales and marketing alone. It uses neither sales nor marketing thinking: it employs a new form of question, a different type of listening, and a systems-thinking role consistent with true consulting. And then you can sell or market earlier and faster, to the right people.

I can teach your sales team how to become facilitators, or show your marketing team ways to design the right questions to help buyers traverse each stage of their unique buying journey. See more articles on www.sharondrewmorgen.com. Or call me: Sharon Drew 512 457 0246.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

Learn how to hear buyers effectively with Sharon Drew’s new book What? offered free, digitally at www.didihearyou.com.

Jeffrey Gitomer

Salespeople have questions. Jeffrey has answers.

Questions from salespeople:

Jeffrey, As you suggest, my company is going to start filming client video testimonials. There will be some clients we would not invite to give a testimonial due to their less than stellar reputation in our community. What is the diplomatic response to such clients if they ask, “How come you didn’t ask me to do a testimonial?” Leonard

Leonard, Dude, invite them. Feed them. Make them feel good. You don’t have to use their testimonial, but it doesn’t hurt you to shoot one with them. C’mon. Use your head. Why would you not invite somebody to your birthday party? Don’t you like birthday presents? Bring them. Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, What do you suggest as a follow-up after providing a prospect with quotes or offers? I don’t want to come across as pushy or put them on the defensive. Anna

Anna, Why are you giving them a quote anyway? Why aren’t you having a meeting with them? Why aren’t you sitting down with them to address what’s going to happen after they take ownership and make certain that productivity and profitability are maximized by you? Anybody that gives a quote and is waiting for an answer is a fool because they’re going to lose to somebody with a 10-cent lower price. Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, How do I overcome the “price issue” when the retailers only concern is to buy a cheaper product so they can enjoy a fatter margin? Walt

Walt, Answer: Your premise in incorrect. The retailer wants to ring the cash register, not just have a fatter margin. If they’re selling crappy products at a high margin, eventually they’re going to get caught. In today’s world, you can’t do that anymore and it’s because of one word: Amazon. Anything that anybody sells, trying to get a fatter margin than Amazon does, they’re going to get caught in two seconds. What you want is something the customer can win on value, and then go home and tell all their friends, “This is the best stuff I’ve ever had! You’ve got to go to Bob’s retail marketplace and buy it.” It’s all about reputation. It’s all about quality. It is not all about price anymore. Best regards, Jeffrey

Jeffrey, I’m new to the mortgage business after a 10-year career as a professional athlete. Since being hired two months ago, I’ve spent every available minute learning the seemingly endless amount of information that’s required to do this job correctly. I’m expected to do the daily tasks of loan originator for my company, but coming from a zero experience, I’m also trying to learn along the way and not to mention learn how to sell at the same time. You say you must become an expert at what you’re trying to sell to have any hope of future success but what I’m selling requires loads of previously acquired knowledge and the ability to implement that knowledge in a world where the market is constantly changing. So, would it be in my best interest to put making sales on the back burner? Mary

Mary, No it would not, especially until you fully educate yourself about mortgage banking. Even if it takes months, NO. What you want to do is talk to people. People are not interested in a mortgage; people are interested in the home of their dreams. Make friends with people. Make them your fans. When you were a professional athlete you were inspired by your fans. Go get more fans, bring them into your stadium, have them sit in the front row or on the 50-yard line, or on the third base line right by the dugout, and talk to them about what they’re really hoping for with their home. Get them to like you first.

You can do all that stuff in the background. They don’t have to know if you know or you don’t know. You only have to get them a mortgage that will help them move in to the home of their dreams.

Talk to people that already have mortgages. Talk to other people in the company. Get experience from others who already have the experience. Find somebody that likes you and find somebody that takes a liking to you and is willing to help you, but go talk to people. People are your answer. Make them fans. Best regards, Jeffrey

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Jeffrey Gitomer

The old way or the new way? It’s really not a choice anymore.

My sales perspective flies in the face of traditional selling. And it’s not just a disruption – it’s the new way of sales. What’s your perspective?

Last week (in part one) I discussed the worthlessness of the old way of selling – everything from cold calling and finding the pain to overcoming objections and closing the sale. I referred to ‘the old ways’ as manipulative, insincere, and aggressive and cautioned that customers and prospects are not only against it, they’re insulted by it! Ouch.

Me? I prefer being assertive. And there is a huge difference between assertive and aggressive. Here are the four majors:

  • Aggressive salespeople tell. Assertive salespeople ask.
  • Aggressive salespeople try to ‘close.’ Assertive salespeople use testimonial proof.
  • Aggressive salespeople go for the sale. Assertive salespeople go for the customer.
  • Aggressive salespeople think ‘quota.’ Assertive salespeople think ‘relationship.’

Which one are you? It’s the difference between the old way and the new way.

Here’s my list of what’s happening NOW in sales. The New Way. UPDATE: Sales will be happening the new way for the foreseeable future:

  • Value attraction. A marketing approach that tells me how I win, not who you are.
  • Social attraction. A social presence that’s value-message based. Social messages that your prospective customer can find. NOTE: It’s time to rethink and revamp the so-called ‘law of attraction.’ If you’re looking to identify and attract willing buyers, value attraction and social attraction are the new laws. Value attraction and social attraction are the new way of selling.
  • Find the pleasure. Things you both know about and like will make the sale easier and faster than painful things (that are likely none of your business) that make the prospect uncomfortable.
  • Ask emotionally engaging questions. Ask questions about them (the prospect or customer), that make them respond in terms of you. Uncover their experience, their wisdom, and their knowledge.
  • Discover the customer’s motive to buy. Why people buy his one billion times more powerful than how to sell.
  • Give perceived value beyond price. As a customer, I don’t need justification to make a purchase. I need a perception that the value you offer me in exchange for my money is greater than the price you’re charging. I need to know how I win, produce, and profit as a result of purchase. I already know what it is, I already know what it does, I already know how it works. I don’t need you to tell me you’re the greatest. I just need you to tell me how I win after I take ownership.
  • Confirm the urgency of your offer. Once you understand the customer’s motive to buy, their urgency becomes apparent. If you haven’t uncovered their motive, you will never know when they intend to purchase.
  • Provide ‘voice-of-customer’ proof. Video testimonials are the new black. When you say it about yourself, it’s bragging. When a customer says it about you, it’s proof. Take advantage of your best salespeople – your loyal customers! Testimonial videos can be offered as sales proof during a presentation and can also be posted on every form of your social media outreach. One of the most interesting aspects of testimonials is they also reinforce the belief of salespeople in their own product.
  • Be both available and easy to do business with. 24.7.365 is the new 9-5. I want a friendly, intelligent, live human being to answer the phone when I call, and so does EVERY HUMAN BEING ON THE PLANET.
  • Give ‘after the sale’ value. Once I purchase, show me more and tell me more about how I can use, produce more, and profit more from what I own. Give me a weekly value message, not another sales message. Serve me, WOW me, and surprise me.
  • Earn customer loyalty. Loyalty is earned slowly over time. (Just like trust.) Loyalty is gained with quality of product, ease of doing business, availability of people, online alternatives to both purchasing and service, speed of response, and value received. Loyal customers purchase time and time again without regard to price. Loyalty is defined in two parts:
    Part one: Will the customer do business with you again?
    Part two: Will the customer refer you? If they do both, that’s loyalty. Any other measurement is bogus.
  • Earn referrals. Asking for referrals has been replaced by earning referrals and giving referrals. Think about the last time you GAVE a referral. Oh wait, maybe you never have! That’s because giving referrals requires work. I didn’t say the new way of selling was easy, I just said it was a new way. Ask before you tell. Give before you get. Earn before you ask.
  • Build online and word-of-mouth reputation. What are you known as? What are you known for? What is your image? What is your Google image? What is your social image? These five elements comprise your reputation. No asset is more valuable.
  • Build relationships. Everyone talks about being relationship oriented. But my findings show just the opposite. A quick review of the elements above will let you see exactly where you are on the ‘solid relationship’ scale. I don’t want you to be relationship oriented, I want you to be relationship building. Every day.

Review this list and rate yourself between 1 and 10. Anywhere you score less than a seven in is telling you you’re not near the new way yet. Work at it!

The new way will pay.

FREE GITBIT. I’ll be writing more about the new way of selling, but for now if you would like to get both part one and part two that I’ve written, go to Gitomer.com and enter the words NEW WAY in the GitBit box.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].