by GWA-Sandler Training
The Art of Qualifying For Decision
Myra, a sales manager, scheduled a meeting with George, a salesperson who reported to her to discuss his closing ratios. She was concerned about the high number of presentations George was making that were resulting in a “let’s think it over” response.
After a little discussion, the two were able to identify the problem. George wasn’t qualifying his prospects on their decision-making process….and as a result, he wasn’t actually connecting with decision makers. He was spending a lot of time spinning his wheels with people who couldn’t actually move deals forward for him, he wasn’t getting the information he needed, and he was closing far fewer sales than either he or Myra wanted.
Myra came up with some questions that she suggested George ask before agreeing to deliver a presentation to anyone; George agreed to practice those questions and ask them during his discussions with prospects.
Qualify For The Decision Phase
The Decision phase is the final element for qualifying an opportunity. The other elements are Pain and Budget.) This Decision Step represents the process by which the prospect will make a buying decision about your product or service. If you don’t understand that process, you’re not ready to present!
As you uncover the pain, budget, and decision elements of a given opportunity, you are evaluating it to determine whether it meets your own criteria for a “qualified” opportunity. If you get far enough along in the process to make a presentation, your prospects will also be evaluating your product or service to determine whether it meets their criteria for a best-fit solution for their needs. You must discover exactly what those criteria are, and who will be evaluating them, in advance of your presentation.
If you don’t know what will be expected of you during your presentation, or how or by whom your product or service will be judged, you really can’t expect to plan an effective presentation!
In some situations, a prospect’s decision-making process may be simple – made by a single individual based on one or two criteria. In other cases, though, the process may be considerably more complex - involving multiple individuals, each of who has his own perspective and concerns about the purchase as well as differing degrees of influence and leverage on the decision.
It’s important to uncover a complete description of the process, and a deep understanding of all the players and their interests before you begin formulating solutions and developing proposals or presentations. If you find you cannot meet the requirements of the prospect’s decision-making process, or if some aspect of the process (such as the timing of the decision) is inconsistent with your goals, the opportunity is not a good fit. You should disqualify it and work on developing other business relationships.
What You Need To Know
The critical elements about a prospect’s decision-making process are the same as the required elements of a well-written newspaper story: who, what, when, where, how, and why.
WHO is involved in the decision-making process? WHO can influence the decision?
WHAT is the process involved? WHAT are the specific steps? WHAT does the prospect need to see, hear, and experience during the presentation?
WHEN does the prospect want/need to make the purchase? WHEN does the decision need to be made in order to meet any implementation deadlines?
WHERE in the organization is the decision made? (At what level?)
HOW will intermediate decisions be made?
WHY are decisions made that way?
Uncovering a prospect’s decision-making process should not feel like an interrogation to the prospect - so don’t throw out a barrage of questions. This discussion should take place in a conversational manner. Start the conversation with an open-ended question:
• Jane, when your company makes a major purchase like the one we’ve been discussing, what sort of decision process do they go through?
• Bill, I’m curious, when it comes to making a decision about investing resources in new infrastructure, how does your company go about it?
The answers you hear in response to such initial questions will typically cover one or more of the six “newspaper story” elements. You should then ask additional questions until all six elements are thoroughly identified.
• Juan, you didn’t mention who could veto the committee’s decision. Who might that be?
• Irene, you didn’t indicate when the decision needs to be made. What’s the timeframe for making it?
Pay special attention to that “when” element. If you eventually schedule a presentation, you’ll want to schedule it at a time when the prospect is in a decision-making position. The closer your presentation is to the date by which the prospect has to make a decision, the greater the likelihood that he will make one. Scheduling a presentation for two or more weeks before the decision date increases the likelihood of receiving a “think-it-over” response, especially if there is more than one company competing for the business.
These are the principles and questioning techniques Myra shared with George. By using them, he was able to qualify his prospect base much more effectively, deliver fewer presentations, close a far higher percentage of those commissions, and close more business.
* This blog post was originally posted at www.gerryweinberg.sandler.com.
In a recent announcement, the IRS indicated that it will begin sending notices to employers that have failed to comply with the employer responsibilities related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For the 2015 calendar year, the IRS plans to issue Letter 226J informing applicable large employers of their potential liability for an employer shared responsibility payment (ESRP), if any, in late 2017. The determination of any potential penalty will be based on the information reported on IRS Forms 1094-C and 1095-C as well as those full-time employees that were allowed insurance premium tax credits.
Employers whom receive this letter should take notice and respond accordingly by the date noted on their letter. If you don't respond by the response date on the first page of this letter, the IRS will send you a notice and demand for the ESRP that was proposed and assessed. The ESRP will be subject to IRS lien and levy enforcement actions. Interest will accrue from the date of the notice and demand and continue until you pay the total ESRP balance due. Those employers who fail to respond to this notice will be assessed penalties that are also subject to IRS lien and levy enforcement action.
If you have any questions, contact your UHY LLP professional at one of our many locations.
* This blog was originally posted by UHY LLP.
This article included 20 questions that your estate plan should answer. In this first part of a two-part email series, we're highlighting questions 1-10:
1) Who will care for your kids, and how? Include specifics about your wishes for how your children will be raised and the beliefs you want them to have.
2) What do you own? Don't forget about retirement accounts at your previous employers, digital assets, fine art and intellectual property (such as patented inventions or copyrighted works).
3) What do you owe? Make sure your family is aware of what creditors may come to collect after your death.
4) Who gets what? Equal distributions are not always fair. Be sure to consider whether an heir is unable to care for himself or needs help managing his money.
5) Do you need a trust? If you have a blended family, your children are minors, or someone needs extra help with his inheritance, then talk to your estate planning attorney about setting up a trust.
6) Who will inherit your retirement accounts? Most retirement assets pass by beneficiary designations, not by a will or trust. Make sure those beneficiaries are up-to-date and complement, rather than contradict, the rest of your estate plan.
7) Who will run your business? Make sure you are not part of the 70% of family businesses that don't survive into the second generation.
8) Are you fully insured? Make sure your family knows where all of your insurance policies are kept. Leave instructions about how the premiums are paid so your survivors don't accidentally close the bank account that is debited to pay premiums.
9) Who will take care of you, and how? Be considerate of those you ask to be your caregivers; it is a big job. If you have long-term care insurance, make sure your caregivers have all necessary details pertaining to that insurance.
10) Who will make your medical decisions? Make sure the person you choose to be your medical power of attorney has detailed instructions about the care you want as well as any measures that you don't want to be taken.
* This blog was originally posted by Legal Strategies, PC.
1. You will fail to establish credibility during the initial phone call or meeting.The primary questions looming in the minds of prospects when they first talk with salespeople are, “What do you know about my company?” and “What do you know about my industry?”
If, in the first few minutes of conversation, you don’t convey through your questions or comments that you understand something about the company’s goals or the challenges it faces, the interaction will be short-lived. You’ll be perceived as “just another salesperson.”
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Doing research to keep up with what’s going on in your industry is mandatory. If you didn’t, how would you know the best way to position your product or service to take advantage of current trends, market demands, economic conditions, etc.? Going one step further to learn about the prospects you plan to contact (or a prospect who may have initially contacted you) is not only a logical extension of that research, but it is necessary so you can keep the focus of the eventual conversation on the prospect rather than on your product or service. There will be plenty of time to talk about the product or service you have to offer once you’ve established that it fulfills a recognized need… but not before.
Researching a prospective client company is not difficult. A visit to its website, a Google search, a visit to LinkedIn, and a search through industry association websites and reports can provide valuable information. Imagine starting a conversation with the President or CEO of a company by referring to a recent trade journal article about him or his company. By doing that, you immediately elevate your status from just another salesperson to a credible salesperson.
2. You won’t control the conversation.A common complaint many prospects have about salespeople is that they are too self-centered. That is, they spend too much time talking about themselves, their companies, and their products and too little time focusing on the prospect’s wants and needs.
A common complaint many salespeople have about prospects is that, conversationally speaking, they spend too much time wandering around in left field. That is, they talk about everything except the topic the salesperson wants to discuss.
Can they both be correct?
It doesn’t really matter.
What does matter, however, is that the conversation remains focused on topics that keep the selling process moving forward. And that, first and foremost, is your responsibility.
When you initiate a call to a prospect, have a specific reason for calling (other than to introduce yourself and your company). If you don’t have a specific reason that addresses a prospect’s current or potential future need, then don’t call (and refer to # 1 above).
When you schedule appointments with prospects (and clients), establish a specific mutually-agreed-to agenda for the meeting. The agenda should include the reason for the meeting, the topics for discussion, and the conclusion you will be working toward.
By reviewing the agenda at the beginning of the meeting, you establish a yardstick by which you can measure the progress and effectiveness of the meeting as well as a point of reference for keeping discussions on topic.
3. You won’t add value to the experience.Prospects are often accused of playing their cards close to the vest for fear of revealing some information that the salesperson might exploit.
Salespeople do the same thing.
They avoid providing too many details about how they do what they do for fear that the prospect will use the information to negotiate a better deal with another provider or create the desired outcome on their own.
If your prospects don’t learn something new during the time they invest with you, what value did you contribute to the encounter?
How are you any different than every other salesperson?
So, how do you provide value without giving away too much?
You can focus on the outcomes your product or service delivers for the prospect. You can describe them and the means of accomplishing them from a conceptual perspective without giving away the “how to” specifics. Sandler® training, for instance “helps sales organizations close more profitable sales more quickly by restructuring their selling process and establishing qualification benchmarks that ensure the salespeople are investing their time with the prospects they have the greatest chance of closing.” (Yes, that was a shameless plug. But, it illustrated the point.)
Also, you can ask thought-provoking questions, especially during initial meetings, that get prospects to view their situations from new perspectives—ideally ones favorable to your product or service.
Finally, you can ask questions that help prospects discover unrecognized underlying reasons for their problems or unanticipated roadblocks to accomplishing their goals. Doing so gives you credibility, separates you from the rest of the pack, and more importantly, gives the prospect a reason to do business with you.
4. You will avoid asking important questions.When you engage with prospects, they are sizing up you, your company, and its products or services. And while they are doing that, they are deciding if you are credible, if your company is reputable, and if you can provide a best-fit solution for the outcomes they desire.
You, too, should be doing some “sizing up.” You need to determine if you can indeed deliver best-fit solutions for your prospects’ needs, if there is sufficient urgency and priority for them to make buying decisions in a timely manner, and if they have the resources in place to make the purchases.
The only way you can make those determinations is by asking questions—sometimes pointed questions and potentially uncomfortable questions (perhaps for you and the prospects). But you must ask them nonetheless.
Some of the information you will need to uncover in order to fully qualify (or disqualify) an opportunity includes:
Prospects may “volunteer” this information during the course of your discussions. But if they don’t, YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK! You may be uncomfortable asking some of these questions, but a few minutes of discomfort is preferable to wasting hours working on presentations or proposals for opportunities you have little or no chance of closing.
5. You will leave things open-ended.It’s not uncommon for salespeople to end phone conversations or face-to-face meetings with prospects without establishing specific next steps. Both parties have a general idea, their own idea, or no idea about what happens next, by when it will happen, or who will initiate whatever it is. David Sandler appropriately referred to that phenomenon as mutual mystification.
As every scheduled contact with a prospect or client should begin with a review of a previously established, mutually-agreed-to agenda (see # 2 above), it should also conclude with a mutually-agreed-to next step… even if the next step is NO step – i.e., you are closing the file. And, if there is a “next step” to keep the selling process moving forward, it’s up to you to identify it, clarify it, and obtain your prospect’s agreement to it.
If your closing rate is suffering or it’s taking longer than it should to close sales, you may be sabotaging your own efforts. Take a close look at how you interact with your prospects and make sure that each interaction adds value to the relationship, is focused on defining the opportunity, and keeps the selling process moving forward.
* This blog was originally posted by Sander Training - Gerry Weinberg at www.gerryweinberg.sandler.com.
by Kathy Warnick
What kind of leader am I? What impact am I making on others and on the world around me? What will my legacy be?
As women business owners, we often think about questions related to our leadership and legacy. I know I do for both myself and for NAWBO as a business owner as well as the new NAWBO National Board Chair.
Leading isn’t easy. We make tough decisions and changes every day that impact our business, our employees, our customers and their businesses. And through it all, we work to leave a positive, lasting impact that reflects our personal values, passion and drive. Whether our legacy is our business, the culture we create, a positive change we make in our community or on a community, national or global cause—or a combination of it all—it is what we’ll be remembered for in years to come.
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A recent article in Forbes magazine describes a leadership legacy like this: “A leader’s legacy is a byproduct of the historical decisions one makes driven by his or her personal values. In other words, a solid legacy plants the seeds from which consistency and expectations sprout that, in turn, become the organizational funnel for future performance.” In other words, you leave your own mark and then create an example for others to follow.
Someone like Oprah Winfrey might come to mind, for example, when thinking about a woman who has created a powerful legacy. She stood for truth, education and giving back for more than 20 years as millions of people tuned into her show. She introduced us to experts, from Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz to experts in fashion, clutter, weight and other topics that have transformed lives. She even gave us a magazine and television network. She has clearly left a lasting, positive impact on the world.
As women business owners, how can we create a leader’s legacy we are proud of? While we may not have the resources and reach as someone like Oprah, we can certainly do it in smaller, meaningful ways through our businesses and even through leadership opportunities in NAWBO. Here are some thoughts to consider:
—Kathy Warnick, 2017-2018 NAWBO National Chair
* This blog was originally posted on nawbo.org.
By Rob Cote, Security Vitals
There are now less than 75 days until the end of year and the deadline for compliance with the NIST 800-171 cyber security standard. Some companies are actively working to address the requirements but continue to struggle with understanding the many details and process implications.
NIST 800-171 is a Cyber Security mandate affecting manufacturers that produce parts for aerospace and military applications. With a year-end compliance deadline that can result in cancelled contracts, the most important question is… does this standard apply to your company?
The answer to compliance resides in the answer to some basic qualifying details:
If the answer to any of the above items is “yes” then your company must comply with NIST 800-171.
There are many ways to achieve compliance, but the most critical factor in the equation is the ability to minimize risk. While this may seem like the obvious answer to a simple question, the reality is much different.
Because NIST 800-171 is focused on controlled unclassified information (CUI), an organization’s ability to limit the how, when and where this information is accessed has a huge impact on its ability to effectively reduce risk. Since CUI data is largely comprised of drawing (math) data, part numbers and financial costing data, moving the data to a separate network simplifies the process of protecting it. This process of isolating CUI data is the foundation when effectively achieving NIST 800-171 compliance:
Download the 7 Steps Guide – link to https://securityvitals.com/nist-download-guide-form/
Webinar registration – link to https://securityvitals.com/nist-800-171-compliance-webinar-registration-2/
Visit securityvitals.com/nistnow/ for all your NIST 800-171 compliance needs.
About Security Vitals – link to https://securityvitals.com/about-us/
by Steven Grogan, MBA - President of ATTICUS WEALTH MANAGMENT
A Retirement Plan… or a College Plan?
Some parents feel they should pay for all or part of their children’s college education. They make it a financial priority and put saving for retirement further down on their to-do list. If their kids can graduate without any student loan debt, the thinking goes, they will be better positioned to provide financial support to mom and dad one day.
This assumption may be hazardous to retiree financial health. One, the kids may not be inclined to provide such support in the future. Cultural or familial expectations may not be realized. Two, students can receive financial aid; retirees cannot. Three, consider these numbers: a couple retiring today may have to pay $275,000 or more in future medical costs, the current average annual Social Security benefit is less than $16,000, and according to a recent PWC survey, half of baby boomers have less than $100,000 saved for retirement. The takeaway here? Unless you are impressively wealthy, you should be regularly funding retirement accounts first, without interruptions, reductions to contributions, or drawdowns to pay for college. Your young adult children should recognize that their college years mark the start of their financial lives, with attendant financial responsibilities.
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Retiring with a Roommate Could Make Life Easier
About 35% of baby boomers are single. Many of them are women. Should they retire alone? There is an alternative: single boomers could elect to retire with a roommate, ideally of the same generation.
The advantages are significant. There is another person to contribute household income, perform chores, provide some level of companionship, and call 911 in an emergency. Taking in a roommate (or two) fills an underpopulated house and helps seniors to age in place. A formal rental agreement makes sense here, one that also establishes the shared and private areas of the home, plus visitor and overnight guest rules. A formal background check should be arranged on anyone the retiree renter does not personally know. Living with roommates also means living with their habits, belief systems, opinions, and schedules; if revenue and good company outweigh these idiosyncrasies, then inviting a roommate into one’s home may be worthwhile in retirement. 3
On the BRIGHT SIDE
Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment will be 2.0% for 2018. This is the largest COLA since 2012, and far surpasses the 0.3% COLA given to recipients for 2017.
Mario was well ahead of his monthly quota, so he was surprised when Jane, his sales manager, asked him to set a higher sales target for the quarter.
During their meeting, Mario smiled and said, “I thought I’d get a gold medal after the good month I just had – not a higher target!”
“You know what they say about ‘good’ being the enemy of ‘great,’” Jane answered, smiling back. “And what I’m proposing is well within your reach. In fact, if it makes sense to you, I think you’ll find it a lot easier than hitting the monthly target you just hit.”
“I’m intrigued,” Mario said. “What have you got in mind?”
What Jane had in mind was a modest additional target for the month ahead that was unlike any goal she and Mario had previously agreed on “What I am suggesting,” she explained, “is that you bring in 15% more revenue over the next month, with all of that revenue coming exclusively from your current customer base.”
Mario said, “I really don’t want to rock the boat with any of these accounts. Suppose I don’t know whether they’re in the market for expanding or extending what we do with them. Then what?”
“Simple,” Jane said. “You ask!”
ARE YOU MISSING THE EASIEST SALE OF ALL?
It’s been said that the easiest person to whom to sell something is the person to whom you’ve already sold something.
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Existing customers are not only sources for referrals, but may also be “prospects” for additional business. Look for ways to expand the business you are currently conducting with them. Are there complementary products or services to the ones you currently provide? Are there upgrades or add-ons they should consider?
Also, look for ways to extend the business you’re doing with your existing clients. Are there other departments or divisions within the company with whom to do business? Are there parent or sister companies you should be seeking out? Don’t overlook opportunities to ask for internal referrals.
For each primary product or service you offer, you can usually identify one or more supplementary or complementary products you could/should offer. Each of these represents potential additional “wallet share” with your current customer base!
WHAT TO ASK
When speaking to your current clients about this, you can frame your “expansion/extension” questions around a beneficial outcome for the client. What should be implicit in your question is the answer to your customer’s inevitable question, “What’s in it for me?” Here are some examples, with the answer to the question “what’s in it for me," underlined.
Mary, now that the training for your marketing people is in place, would it make sense to explore, what we can do to help your customer support people create a better experience for your customers?
Tom, now that we have your Westbrook warehouse squared away, I was thinking it might make sense to look at the Ellis warehouse to determine if there’s a way to improve inventory handling efficiency there as well. What do you think?
You have nothing to lose by asking questions like this – and everything to gain. Practice them… then use them!
That’s what Mario did, at Jane’s suggestion, with all ten of his largest clients. He set meeting with each and ended up securing additional business from six of those clients within the next sixty days. As a result, he easily hit the new revenue target he and Jane had set!
Blog originally written and posted by Sandler Training at http://www.gerryweinberg.sandler.com/blog.
Even those who have saved millions must prepare for a lifestyle adjustment.
A successful retirement is not merely measured in financial terms. Even those who retire with small fortunes can face boredom or depression and the fear of drawing down their savings too fast. How can new retirees try to calm these worries?
Two factors may help: a gradual retirement transition and some guidance from a financial professional.
An abrupt break from the workplace may be unsettling. As a hypothetical example, imagine a well-paid finance manager at an auto dealership whose personal identity is closely tied to his job. His best friends are all at the dealership. He retires, and suddenly his friends and sense of purpose are absent. He finds that he has no compelling reason to leave the house, nothing to look forward to when he gets up in the morning. Guess what? He hates being retired.
On the other hand, if he prepares for retirement years in advance of his farewell party by exploring an encore career, engaging in varieties of self-employment, or volunteering, he can retire with something promising ahead of him. If he broadens the scope of his social life, so that he can see friends and family regularly and interact with both older and younger people in different settings, his retirement may also become more enjoyable.
The interests and needs of a retiree can change with age or as he or she disengages from the working world. Retired households may need to adjust their lifestyles in response to this evolution.
Practically all retirees have some financial anxiety. It relates to the fact of no longer earning a conventional paycheck. You see it in couples who have $60,000 saved for retirement; you see it in couples who have $6 million saved for retirement. Their retirement strategies are about to be tested, in real time. All that careful planning is ready to come to fruition, but there are always unknowns.
Some retirees are afraid to spend. They fear spending too much too soon. With help from a financial professional, they can thoughtfully plan a withdrawal rate.
While no retiree wants to squander money, all retirees should realize that their retirement savings were accumulated to be spent. Being miserly with retirement money contradicts its purpose. The average 65-year-old who retires in 2017 will have a retirement lasting approximately 20 years, by the estimation of the Social Security Administration. So, why not spend some money now and enjoy retired life?
Broadly speaking, our spending declines as we age. The average U.S. household headed by an 80-year-old spends 43% less money than one headed by a 50-year-old.1
Retirement challenges people in two ways. The obvious challenge is financial; the less obvious challenge is mental. Both tests may be met with sufficient foresight and dedication.
Schedule a complimentary review of your retirement strategy here: https://calendly.com/stevegrogan/consultation
Steve may be reached at 586-842-1888 or Steve@AtticusWM.com.
Registered Representative / Securities and Investment Advisory Services are offered through Signator Investors, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Atticus Wealth Management is an independent firm affiliated with Michigan Financial Companies-John Hancock Financial Network. 28411 Northwestern Highway, Suite 1300, Southfield, MI 48034. 248-663-4700.
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.