Time for Coffee

In North Sydney up the road from my office is a small coffee shop. There is nothing particularly unusual about this shop – it looks like any one of the thousands of other cafes and restaurants littered across the country.

Each morning as I walk by on the way to my office there is a fantastic smell of freshly roasted coffee beans swirling around the pavement delighting pedestrians’ noses as they walk by. This fantastic, evocative aroma wakens my and all other commuters’ senses. Something they are doing works. Inside, groups of customers are seated on bentwood chairs, leaning in on small round tables holding their latte or flat white cupped in their hands deep in conversation. The working day has started and the buzz of laughter and conversation empowers the beginning of their day.

Now only a short walk, just some 10 meters away, I also regularly pass by another café – this one is noticeably quieter. Almost library like, a few silent customers are sitting alone reading the morning’s first edition. This bugs me – why is this so? Why is one café flat out and another struggling? I think the first coffee shop does actually sell better coffee but not that good. Not good enough to explain why their business is at least five times busier.

Prompted by this puzzle each day this question has been bouncing about my mind looking for resolution. Recently one Saturday afternoon while watching my son’s football team playing in their local league I started thinking about sport and winners and losers in relation to the café scenario.

Often the difference between coming first and second is very small in terms of actual technical performance [hundredths of a second in a 100m sprint] but vast in terms of reward for the athlete. Take golf for example. In golf the difference between the world’s best and players ranked much lower [around 150th down the list] is about one stroke for each round played. An average round of golf will take 72 shots. In his best year Tiger Woods earned over 115 million dollars – many times the revenue of those whose actual golfing ability is really not that far off.

My point is this; it is essential when you are starting out on any venture to aim to be the very best. Identify the characteristics of the current #1 business; create a measure and set targets and goals to exceed them. If your business is to be successful you can’t afford to be second in sales.

An excerpt from  ‘How to Build a World Class Sales Team’ by Ciaran McGuigan

Do you remember the first time you won a customer?

My first customer’s name was Marcello. I can’t remember his surname but I do recall his first name because of the way he pronounced it. It sounded like ‘March hello’. Marcello was in his fifties and was a small, grey haired first generation Italian. Although he had been in Australia for over twenty years his English still sounded as if he was just off the boat. He was a charming and personable man and together with his wife owned and operated a little pizza restaurant on Willoughby road in Crows Nest, Sydney.

All that morning I had been collecting ‘no’s’ and ‘not interested’s’ and I am sure I must have looked like the novice I was. All the other guys in the sales team had made their quota. I was the new guy and at this point hadn’t sold anything. Dejected and ready to give up, that winter morning the gods must have been smiling on me. Perhaps there was something about what I said or did when I knocked on their door that got me past the gate but that meeting gave me an opportunity that changed my life.

It was about 11:00am and the dining area of the restaurant was empty. I could hear the clatter of pots and pans as the kitchen staff [his wife] was preparing for the expected lunchtime crowd. Marcello had led me to the back and invited me to sit down in a small booth. It was dark with lots of wood and covered with red and white checked tablecloths. Marcello sat down opposite me and probably with too much enthusiasm I sat down and immediately started talking about the ‘features and benefits’ of our unique advertising plans. I thought I was doing rather well until near the middle of my memorized and rehearsed pitch he gently smiled and raised both of his hands as if he were surrendering to my attack.

He stood up and at that point I thought I had blown it. Speaking as he walked towards the bar he told me to slow down and take a breath, then, he suggested it might be a good idea to ask some questions. He continued walking and once at the bar he shouted something in his native Italian into the kitchen. A few moments later he returned to our table with two glasses and a few napkins. He sat down, looked at me and asked me to begin again.

Initially, slowing down my pitch wasn’t easy and my questions felt as if they came across awkward and constructed. What seemed like an hour in reality was only five minutes. His wife arrived with a large cheese pizza and a half carafe of red wine. Marcello smiled at me and said that if we were going to do business then we should have something to eat. It came as real relief that I could use this as a break.

Between sips of Lambrusco and mouthfuls of fresh crusty pizza I discovered that it is hard to speak when you are eating. Slowly my sales pitch became a conversation. Our conversation widened and we chatted about advertising, Italy, Ireland, pizza and politics. I found talking wasn’t hard and didn’t need to be engineered. As I relaxed my mind had the freedom to think about how his advertising would work better. There were many other moments – but the one that stands out for me was when I chose the moment and asked for his business.

Fifteen minutes later I walked out. I had a cheque for $2,000 in my jacket pocket. $400 of that would become my first commission payment. I am forever grateful to Marcello for teaching me that valuable sales lesson. The feeling of being on top of the world, winning a deal, truly engaging with a customer has been the bedrock of my career and every sale I have ever made.

I am passionate about helping sales people understand what they need to do to make a difference when it counts. I’m guessing that as you are reading this you probably need to lift either your business or your own sales team’s performance. Successful sales people know that their profession is both an art and a science. All too often however sales teams lack in the science department. This can be frustrating for everyone. While some businesses flounder and struggle to earn every dollar their neighbour can often be out performing them in ways they would consider impossible.

An excerpt from  ‘How to Build a World Class Sales Team’ by Ciaran McGuigan

Prioritise your prospects – Ciaran McGuigan

Would you agree that some prospects are more
valuable than others? You can easily waste time and
effort on the wrong prospect. They are easy to
recognize, they are usually easy to get hold of, have
lots of time to see you and tend to avoid making
decisions. Your activity should be prioritized according to a ‘contact
value’ system you have set up.

Write down the six main types of roles that you prospect to and then
put them in order according to their authority to make independent
YES decisions (everyone can make NO decisions). This means that
they have the power to decide without consulting others. The further
down the ‘food chain’ the less YES power they will have. Once you
have them in order allocate a point value for each position. Below is a
sample prospecting value system. Yours will be slightly different
according to industry / service.

Position Points
M Director / Owner / CEO – 12
Line Manager / Head of Dept  – 9
Senior Influencer – 8
Centralised Manager – 6
Other Director – 4
Company Contact – 2

This is an excerpt from ‘The World’s best Sales Tips’ by Ciaran
McGuigan

Find out more about how Strike Force Sales can help you with prioritizing your prospects by visiting our website: www.strikeforcesales.com.au

Tip #5 – A real and present opportunity

Large numbers of sales people make the error of trying to sell to everyone who seems interested rather than someone who has a real and present need. Think about this scenario, a sales rep picks up an incoming call and starts dealing with an inquiry from a fact-finding shopper. Thinking he has a ‘hot’ prospect he tries every which way and eventually persuades the caller to agree to an appointment where he can present his full range.

The rep is keen to do this because he has a quota of field sales calls to make and although this is a bit out of his way, every call counts. Ask yourself; is this a good use of sales time, energy and resources?

Almost certainly not. Worse still, the prospect may stay on the ‘maybe’ list for months, with lots of follow up calls and sales activity reports, but NO real sale.

The real sales champions detect and qualify who the REAL buyers are and manage / prioritize their time accordingly. Their technique and ability to engage etc can be exactly the same as ordinary performers, yet because they qualify EARLY they enjoy substantially larger sales success. Take a look at your next ‘opportunity’ is it real or is it just an opportunity for you to lose money?

 

http://www.strikeforcesales.com.au/images/A%20real%20and%20present%20opportunity.pdf