Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today's Frazzled Customers , joined the show recently. You can listen to our conversation here.
Jill has already written another national best-seller on selling. It's titled Selling to Big Companies. That's a great book. It's great because it's well-written, well-organized, and offers real-world, hard-won, tips and tactics and strategies to...sell to big companies.
Jill's background in selling success is the foundation for her best-sellers. Her satisfied clients include: IBM, GE, Microsoft, 3M, Hilton, AAA, CoxTarget Media, General Mills, Medtronic, UnitedHealthcare, Bombardier, Business Journals, RSM McGladrey, Imation, eFunds, Acresso, UniFirst, OpenPeak
Now, SNAP Selling has just been published. I predict this will be her next best-seller.Jill, how are you? Let’s jump into your book. SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today's Frazzled Customers Why. Why now?
My greatest passion in life is figuring out sales challenges. Today’s greatest challenge is the crazy, busy, people. They don’t return your calls, don’t read your emails. One day they’re talking to you and then they disappear into a deep dark hole. I wrote the book to offer help to others trying to figure this out.
My friend Erika Andersen coined a great phrase in her book Being Strategic. That phrase is reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future. What was your reasonable aspiration or hoped for future in writing this book?
My greatest role in life is to be a wake-up call to as many people as I can. I’m a wake-up call about selling. I’m a wake-up call to stop doing what they’ve done in the past but start doing something different. Not just show them that things have change but show them what they need in order for them to be successful.
This fear people have is exacerbating this problem of doing the wrong things, the things that no longer work.
How will you know you have reached your reasonable aspiration to serve as a wake-up call? What would be the signs?
I’ll see verbiage from my book. What happened from my first book was I saw the phrase value proposition explode in use in corporations and clients. And the term trigger events. Nobody else had been talking about trigger events and suddenly everyone was talking about that, using that term.
Right now for example one of the snap rules relates to simplicity. No one talks about it, making it easier, simpler, for people to buy.
The typical book will have peak sales in the first 3 months. That’s what happened with Selling to Big Companies. It’s having more sales in its 4th year than it did in its first.
We’ll start talking about crazy busy people and that frustration and we’ll talk about people being normal again. And for sales people to be a leader. Busy people need to be led. Sales people take on that role.
You talk about creating customer personas and imaginary prospects as part of your preparation process. Describe for us the reader persona or imaginary reader you had in mind as you wrote this great new book?
A customer persona is a real clear definition of the person you are going after. It involves not only their role and responsibilities, but their challenges, how they are evaluated in their position....taking that information and creating an individual who represents that in your mind.
My fictitious character is Eric and he’s VP of Sales.
My clients think I might write for an IBM sales person. But, I write for someone who is selling to the corporate market and works for a smaller company without the resources to educate themselves. They are selling white-collar things, business services...they’re on their own to figure it out.
Why’s your book important for them? What are three reasons they should go out today and buy it.
Number one. Stop them from doing bad things that are hurting their sales efforts.Now before we go any further I want our listeners to know you offer very powerful and very free resources that go along with this book. What are they? And why are they important?
Second? It provides them really practical ideas they can implement immediately. They can put the book down half way through and say I can do that.
Third? I’m a really nice person. I would never ask them to do something if it wouldn’t work.
These free resources are open to anyone. Go to SnapSelling and register.
You'll get an audio that talks about selling to crazy frazzled people.
I offer a buyer’s matrix and people tell me that it’s the most profound part of my training in that it changes the way they view what they do.
There are also two cheat sheets.
- One is a value proposition creator. Most sellers have very poor value proposition. That’s the root cause of most sales failures. I show how they can create very strong value propositions.
- I offer a cheat sheet of nine tips to create a message that customers return.
Let’s talk about this value proposition and how people fail to create one that’s useful. What are the 4 criteria prospects use to judge us and our proposals?
Most people have a mental checklist for people who approach them. The first point on this checklist is:
are you aligned with my needs? They are saying is this aligned with my business objective. This is the number one criteria.
I wouldn’t talk about my sales training programs., I would talk about their need to speed up sales.
The 2nd criteria:
Is this a priority issue? They already have so many flames going up in their office they may still delete you.
The 3rd thing is:
Does this person sound like an invaluable person. Does this person sound like they bring expertise to this situation? Clients are so busy they want to know does this person bring some expertise for me.
The last thing is:
Does this sound too complicated. Is this something I can grasp?
We’re trying to impress people. We feel an extraordinary need to tell them everything we offer.
Which one is the most important or prevalent?
The most important is the first one: alignment. You may be simple but if you’re not aligned then it’s irrelevant.
Too many sales people think that what they’re selling is important. But they don’t realize that what they’re selling is irrelevant.
Instead people want the results that deliver for them.
Sales people think their job is to tell the client about their product and services. But that’s the last case. If they want information they go online. You don’t need a sales person to go into excruciating details.
It seems our economy as a whole has failed to meet these criteria. Clearly, sales are not happening on a national basis, enough to sustain employment much less grow.
Let’s say President Obama invites you to meet with his Cabinet and his Council of Economic Advisors. He introduces you with a rave review of your book. You’re glowing. Then he turns to you and says “Jill. Our economy needs some sales. How can we speed up sales, win more business with today’s frazzled customers and ...create more jobs?” What do you say? Our economy hinges on your advice. No pressure.
I would have a lot to say to President Obama that would not answer your question...
To answer your question, I would tell him the biggest thing we can do is to Stop Selling. What happens is when I see people selling, they think their job is to talk more. Sales is the only profession where when we think we’re doing our job we’re doing the worst thing we can do. “I gotta go out and sale.” These intelligent people start doing these crazy, unproductive, things.... They think it is good selling.
The best sales people aren’t selling. The best sales people are leveraging their expertise and their product or services line. They would call people up and say I read in the local business journal that one of your biggest challenges is this and I have some ideas on how to solve it.
The best sales people are business improvement specialists.
I would work with President Obama to better define what it means to be a business improvement specialist.
What are some symptoms of a frazzled customer syndrome?
I talk about this early on in the book. Some of the things we see is:
- We want people to get to the point, net it out - net it out.
- We can’t handle complexity. Our eyes glaze over.
- We’re easily distracted. They forget things left and right.
- They don’t have time for the pain. They want things done yesterday on their part and on yours they don’t get around to it for months.
- They withdraw from all contact when they are most frazzled. Even the best customers can go radio silent.
I love your book. The reason I love is it’s so clear, so readable, and you get right to the point in a way I can put it to use, close the book and put what I just read to use right then. One was your practice voice mail. How did you come up with that idea?
I was having problems getting my foot in the door. I went into a real study to figure out what would it take to get customers to call me back. I did my research. I knew I’d bring a high-value solution. I wrote out a beautiful message and thought I would test it out first.
The first thing is I was appalled at my voice.
Then this beautiful voice mail I had created was 60 seconds long. It’s an eternity.
I thought "Clearly I have to tighten it up". I called myself again and talked a whole lot faster and got it done in 45 seconds. It was all in there and I couldn’t understand anything I was saying.
I cut it down to 20 seconds and hit on the reasons people should call me. And that’s when people started calling me back.
For me that’s everything you talk about in your book. Align with their needs, deliver your value proposition, make it about them...
The upfront part of selling encapsulate everything in a 30-second voice mail that pulls everything together. You can do a whole snap check up front. You can cover all 4 criteria. Is it aligned with the business direction, Am I focusing on a hot priority of theirs? Do I sound like a credible resource, and Have I made it reasonably simple so they can get what I’m saying?
I will do a before and after version of what I could say about me and my services. [ 39:00 - LISTEN]
The reality is today’s customer is looking for good partners, someone who’s willing to invest the time upfront to do the thinking upfront for them...and offer some ideas, some solutions. They don’t have to be a perfect solution. But they have to have enough in them to get them to say Oooo. I want to learn more.
You have a very specific list of competitors that every sales person will face. You even have them broken out at each decision in each stage of the sales process. What’s the first decision and who are the competitors for reaching the first decision?
The first decision is covered in the first section in my book. That first decision is will the customer allow you access. Time is their most precious commodity. Your competitor here is all the things that are on their calendar.
The 2nd decision that a prospect must make is the decision to change from the status quo. the status quo is a whole lot easier. Change takes up a lot of time. You have to get buy-in, teach people new systems, is it a good investment...The real competition is the status quo.
The 3rd decision involves which vendor should we choose. In that case, you’re finally competing against your competitors.
What are three things to make value proposition selling more appealing?
Let me clarify what a value proposition is. A value proposition is a clear statement of the business outcomes your company delivers. It’s how what you do impacts an organization. I sell sales training services. My value proposition is I help companies shorten their sales cycle and I help companies increase their new customer acquisition. I have sub-value propositions in these. But this is my value proposition.
What makes it more appealing for entrepreneurs? It’s more effective. It increases your effectiveness. You can have the most impact with the least effort.
You’ll get results if you can get very specific. If you can throw in metrics then you are way ahead. You get in the door faster. You get in the conversation faster. You get to come back more often...
Each of them involves connecting with existing customers. Why do so few companies encourage that connection, that step?
I work with some of the biggest and most wonderful companies in the world. And I still see sales people going out and doing the selling thing. They’ve been through the most expensive training and still they default into these behaviors. It is such an ingrained behavior among sales people.
Entrepreneurs still define selling as making a lot of calls and schmoozing and I’ll come in and talk about what’s cool. Selling today requires somebody to be smart and it’s not about ‘selling’ per se.
Let’s talk about social media. What do you use? What value does it bring in the sales process? Does it help create frazzle or does it help cut through that clutter?
LinkedIn. I love it from the standpoint of helping me find the names.
Speaking of twitter I work in the B2B arena and find very few sales VP’s on twitter.
Blogging. I’ve been blogging from back in the day in 2004.
Leaders are Readers says Jim Rohn. You obviously are a leader. What are you reading this year? What’s been your favorite three books, business or not, this year?
I read outside my field a whole lot. The book I’ve liked the most this year is Linchpin: Are you indispensable? by Seth Godin. It’s all about what you can do to be an invaluable resource in your organization. A linchpin is an invaluable resource.
I also love Daniel Pink’s writing. He wrote Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us this year. It’s what motivates people.
Finally. My book club in my neighborhood recently chose ...I will not die an unlived life, by Dawna Markova. It’s about insuring what you do in your life is...living; it’s meaningful.
I hate wrapping up the show. It’s been a delight talking with you.Where are you speaking?
I don’t do a lot of public events. My business is a lot corporate work and sales conferences.
Where can we find you on the web?
Go to SnapSelling and get the free resources. I let people know if I’m doing free webinars and I use Twitter to let them know.
Let’s revisit those free resources again you offer to accompany the book. What are they? Where can they be found?
The four free resources:
- Audio tape about SnapSelling
- Buyer’s matrix. The goldmine document.
- The Value Proposition generator
- Nine Tips to get prospects to call you back.
AND if you get the book, its normally $27 but its on Amazon at a prelaunch price of $9, then you also get the ebook about how to ask Winning Questions. That’s a $79 value normally.