My colleague and friend Andy Paul knows what it takes for sellers to stand out and grow sales. He just published his second book, AMP Up Your Sales – Powerful Strategies that Move Customers to Make Fast, Favorable Decisions. I get a lot of books to review and rarely create an entire post about any single one – but this one is worth writing about. I interviewed Andy recently to help readers understand more about how to move customers – a skill that is so necessary today. Get a free chapter from his new book here.
LR: How does "Amp Up Your Sales" fit in with what you talked about in "Zero Time Selling"?
AP: While AMP Up Your Sales expands on a couple of the themes in Zero-Time Selling, the focus is on three primary ways that sales reps, on a call by call basis, can really differentiate themselves from their competitors and, in the process, help their prospects make good decisions quickly. I like to use the Amp in the title as an acronym (AMP) that gives sellers a simple tool they can use to reminds themselves of what they need to do each and every time they interact with a prospect.
A= Accelerate Your Responsiveness
M= Maximize the Value Delivered in Each Sales Touch
P= Practice Simplicity in Your Selling
Throughout the book I provide some very concrete strategies for sellers to AMP Up their sales.
LR: You say sellers don't just have to be fast, but we have to add value?
AP: Absolutely, yes. There is a lot of talk these days about sales acceleration. But it is important to remember that speed in the absence of value is not an asset to a salesperson.
Let's look at this issue of value from two dimensions.
First, think about the most fundamental interaction that takes place in sales. What is it? It's when the customer decides to spend some of their limited time to let you sell to them. The key here is that the customer is not gifting this time to you. They are investing it in you. And like everyone who makes an investment, they expect to receive an ROI on the time they spend with you. Which means that the customer expects to receive something in return for the time that they spend with you. That something is value. And, this is a question that every salesperson must be able to answer before every touch: "The customer is going to give me some of their time, what am I giving them in return?"
This brings us to the second dimension: value. What is value in sales? I have a very simple definition of value. Value is any information that helps the customer move at least one step closer to making a decision. This information can assume many forms including facts, data, questions, context and insights. So, to rephrase the question from above, a salesperson needs to answer this question before every sales interaction with a prospect: "The is customer is investing their time in me, what value am I giving them in return?" If the answer to this question is "I don't know" then a sales rep should not proceed. Until you are certain what value you're going to provide, it is best not to waste the customer's time.
LR: What was most interesting that you uncovered doing your research?
AP: I acquired a lot of interesting new perspectives on how people actually make decisions and the factors that influence them. One of the more compelling items was what I call the Peak/End Rule of Sales in my book. This is based on research conducted by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel prize-winning behavioral economist. He found that when people make a decision about something they've experienced, that they primarily take into consideration just two factors: the peak event and the last event of that experience. He called that the Peak/End Rule. Now, let's translate that into the sales environment, and in particular look at it in terms of the customer's experience dealing with a seller during their buying process. The Peak/End Rule of Sales dictates that when the buyer finishes their buying process that two factors will weigh heavily on their decision about which seller to select: the peak experience with a seller during their buying process and the last contact.
Here's where it gets even more compelling for a sales. There is no way to predict in advance which sales touch during the customer's buying process will be the peak experience. This means that a salesperson has to treat every single interaction with a customer with the same importance. Take the example of a buyer sending a sales inquiry to three competitors expressing interest in their products. One of the sellers follows up with a phone call to the sales lead within four hours. The other don't respond to the inquiry until the third day. The first seller created a peak experience for the buyer. She created the memorable perception in the mind of the buyer of being responsive, service oriented and committed to helping the buyer make a fast, favorable decision. On the first call she created a peak event that differentiated her from the competitors and gave her the inside track to winning the order.
Treating every sales touch with equal importance rewards sellers with strong processes and a commitment to being responsive.
LR: You mention the No-Excuses Zone in sales. What does that mean and why is it important?
AP: I've made the case in both Amp Up Your Sales and in Zero-Time Selling that we all sell in an economy where the never-ending rate of technological innovation and rapid globalization has resulted in an explosion in the number of competitors in virtually every market segment. New products that hit the market are quickly copied and it has never been more difficult for a company to establish and maintain any sort of meaningful and lasting product differentiation. The problem that this creates is that when customers start evaluating products or services for purchase virtually all of the sellers competing for their business look alike (and in many cases are alike.)
In these kinds of hyper-competitive markets the only way a seller can really begin to differentiate themselves is by HOW they sell, not WHAT they sell. This creates a Good News-Bad News scenario for salespeople.The good news is that your ability to win deals will largely be based on the actions you take, not the features you are selling. The bad news is that your ability to win deals will largely be based on the actions you take, not the features you are selling. Which puts you in the No-Excuses Zone. If your success in sales is less about the product and more about how you sell, how responsive you are, how you maximize the value your deliver and how you keep it all simple in order to make it easier for the customer to choose you, then you can't blame anyone or anything else if you don't hit your numbers.
Check out Andy’s book (and download a free chapter) AMP UP YOUR SALES here. Let me know how you like it.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the "Sales Ideas In A Minute" newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.