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The Upside: Killer Sales Tips

14 posts from March 2010

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March 29, 2010

Can You Be in Sales and Still Have a Life?

Connect with me, 24/7 access, work-life balance, work life balance With the focus on personal branding and social media, the expectation of 24/7 access via your smartphone, and so many ways to stay connected to a large network of people, the line between work and home seems awfully blurry these days.

In his Personal Branding Blog, Dan Schwabel wrote, (in an interview with broadcast journalist, Judy Martin), "the most annoying thing about the workplace today, is the fear-based mentality that if you don’t overwork to the point of burnout you won’t succeed."

And last week in Under30CEO, Srinivas Rao postulated that a day job is no longer enough - you also need a side job (or "passion project") for 4 reasons:  "rainy-day" insurance, personal/professional growth, self-actualization, and potential new opportunities.

What do you think? Where does it stop? And should it stop? And for those, like me, admittedly addicted to the stimulation of 24/7 information, can I stop?

Glance Networks offices, 1167 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, MA Come rant with us at Glance's fab, solar-powered, renovated mill space in Arlington, MA for an AA-ISP Boston Chapter BBQ & Brew panel discussion on this very topic:

Panel Discussion: Can You Be in Sales and Still Have a Life?
Wed., April 14, 2010
5:30pm-7:30pm
Glance Networks
1167 Mass. Ave., Arlington, MA

Bring a friend and nosh on slow-smoked baby back ribs, prepared DMC Barbecue, Boston, will cater the eventon-site, by Boston's own DMC Barbecue. Panelists will include inside sales gurus:

Trish Bertuzzi (The Bridge Group) will moderate. Event is free. Parking is plenty (as are the networking opportunities).

>> REGISTER FOR THE EVENT NOW

Not yet a member of AA-ISP? Join here, http://www.aa-isp.org/

For more information, email Trish Bertuzzi or Carla Gates.

Not a member of AA-ISP yet? Register today. 

 


-- Carla Gates, Director, Marketing, Glance Networks


March 25, 2010

The best pay: Kind words from customers

As an entrepreneur, you wake up one day all excited about some oddball idea -- one of those "Wouldn't it be great if..." inspirations.
 

 

 

You look to find a few folks who share your enthusiasm. Together, you work and work and work to get an initial version up and running.

 

And then... if you're one of the lucky ones... the really big payoff finally happens.  Customers you've never met take time out of their day to say something completely unsolicited and remarkably kind about what you created.

 

We've been fortunate to enjoy that experience many times over here at Glance.  


 

I remember the epiphany Carla had a few days after coming on board to help us with marketing.  I had just forwarded another happy customer email to the team. She turned to me and said, "I just can't believe our customers. They simply love Glance!  No one ever said they 'loved' the bank I used to work at."

 

This morning's email box held another delightful gift to us, one that I'd like to share with you. This kind of note really makes our day.

Hi Folks,

 

When you run a business that really does a good job, people usually don't give you the praise you deserve; they just take you for granted.  So, as a small business owner, I thought I'd pass along a quick story.


 

Our [audio] conference line vendor's service has gotten so bad that we are now forced to find another vendor.  Our office manager went looking about for a replacement and ran across one that does both online conferences and telephone conferences so she sent out a company-wide email inviting people to attend a meeting where the prospective vendor would demonstrate their product.  She also set off a bit of a firestorm - people were literally *mad* at the idea that someone might even *consider* giving up Glance.

From the support dept:

 
 

 

"From a support point of view I do not want to lose Glance. If we move away from Glance for conferencing I would want to keep a Glance account for support. It is a great tool which gives me the ability to easily view and control remote computers."

 

From customer support:

 

"I really like glance... why are we considering changing??? We just need a new phone line asap. "

 

From sales:

 

"We have no intentions of leaving Glance."

 

Finally - from me, trying to calm fears and keep everyone from jumping all over the office manager:

 

"We're all big fans of Glance so we aren't really considering a change there at this time."

 


 

I almost had to laugh at just how strongly people felt about this.  I didn't of course, I was too busy calming everyone down.  Keep in mind that no one was writing a "testimonial" on behalf of Glance - these were all people just defending their work and speaking from the heart.

 

So...to everyone at Glance: Keep up the good work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a good day

-- Rich Baker, CEO & Founder

March 24, 2010

White Paper: Three Perspectives on Customer Support

Introduction
Working in technical customer support for over 15 years, I am constantly amazed at the dichotomy between customer and vendor.

I’ve held roles with networking infrastructure providers and services, did a brief stint in a $100m dot.bomb (from which I am still recovering), held positions in large and small corporate environments, and have traveled the world performing training sessions on network design.

As diverse as all of my professional positions have been, there is a core truism: customers and vendors do not always see eye to eye.

My own driving force in customer service is the desire to help those who require it. Computers are interesting, but humans are fascinating. For me, resolving someone’s technical problem is a great accomplishment. Leading an agitated customer down the path of tranquility is even more rewarding.

My goal here is to discuss the relationship between customers, the products they use, and their product vendors, and to offer tips for each. I’ll speak to the point of view of the company, the tech support staff and the customer. For each party, I’ll offer their perspective and their responsibilities for better customer experience.

-- Brian Doe, Solutions Engineer, Enterasys;
former Sales & Support Manager, Glance Networks


The Company

Support can be a costly proposition to companies. But good support will stop customer erosion and add long-term repeat customers.

Some argue that only small companies can supply a high level of customer service; that high levels of customer touch “don’t scale”. But supporting your customers well is a company commitment. If the corporate culture believes in strong customer relations, quality customer service can scale to the largest of companies.

Suggestions for better customer service:

  • Not sure if your customers are being well supported? Call them.
  • Not certain what good support should look like? Look at any customer service interaction you have experienced yourself. Separate the good experiences from the bad. Now mimic the good. You know what your customers want. Just do it.
  • Don’t use the lack of local talent as an excuse for less than stellar support staff. Think creatively. Hire a small, talented core group. And then use the mentor system. Divide the staff into units of expertise. Create a tiered system of talent. A well thought-out escalation path can resolve problems quickly while using the resources of existing staff. Scaling the support staff to remain equal with business growth will form naturally with this support model.
  • Don’t use scripted product resolutions. It just doesn’t work. Computers and the Internet are complicated animals with endless possible problems. One symptom can have dozens of different causes. If the problem doesn’t get solved, you are putting your rep in a bad spot. 
  • Use remote support tools like Glance.net. It is so much easier to see and fix the customer’s problem when you can see their screen, rather then trying to describe and diagnose the problem blindly over the phone.
  • Teach your support team to have patience and compassion. Let them know what your company’s moral core consists of and teach them how to portray that image consistently. When working with a customer, a positive attitude should be considered as important, if not more so, than technical accuracy.
  • Empower your customer service department. Allow them to “do the right thing.” If they occasionally overstep the desired bounds (e.g., length of call), who cares? A little bit of rule-breaking today will result in a long-term happy customer.
  • Let your Support reps rant to you. It’s a good way to let off steam. In addition, your support staff is your company’s eyes and ears into the customer psyche. From these rants, you can validate product direction, determine missing features and find existing product weaknesses.

Tech Support Staff

The life of a tech support specialist can feel bipolar. We are required to maintain the satisfaction of the customer base, yet we also need to maintain the values of our respective companies. There are times where this may seem impossible. We are techies. We are sales people. We are also psychiatrists. This career path is not for everyone.

 So how do you know if you are right for the gig? Sometimes it’s more about personality than a specialized skill set. You need to understand technology, ideally the technology your company is attempting to sell. But you do not need to be an engineer. In fact, I believe coming from an engineering background hinders your ability to connect with the customer. Engineers tend to look for the most difficult root cause of a problem rather than the obvious.

You should be an extravert by nature. You will be communicating with people all day, every day. If you are an introvert, you will go mad. You must be driven by the desire to help others. If solving technical problems is what turns you on, try IT or QA instead. This must be the secondary focus of a technical support rep.

You need to be of the personality type that does not require scheduling control. The ring of the phone drives your schedule. If you attempt control, your stress levels will rise to astronomical proportions.

Finally, you need to accept negativity in stride. No shocker here. Most of the people that call are fairly irritable, and no matter how good your product may be, they clearly have found a flaw on this day.

Suggestions to make your daily support calls easier:

  • Understand your company’s values. If they do not match your own, you are in the wrong place. You have to feel good about the battles you wage.
  • Treat your customers well. If you say that you will call them back, then call them back.
  • If you do not know the answer, say so, and ask for help “up the food chain”.
  • Understand that you cannot fix every glitch. This can be your biggest challenge. You will continually run into technical snafus that only peripherally relate to your product. For myself, consumer grade routers, consumer grade Internet connections and Spy Ware infestation are my “white whales.” 
  • Fight for your customer. That is your job. Help management understand your advocacy approach. But do not be afraid to irritate management on occasion. If you believe in the cause, make them listen. 
  • Don’t take it personally, and don’t become a victim of the negativity. If you have 100 customer issues in one day but you have 10,000 customers, remember the other 9,900 have not had any problems!

The Customer

As a customer, your sole desire when buying a new technology is simple: You just want things to work.  While this is a great goal, it may never be a reality in technology. So this should lead to your secondary, and more rational desire: You just want to be able to contact Technical Support and get accurate and decisive resolutions to your problems.

When I pick up a tech support call from a customer, I am able to determine in a matter of a few seconds if they have recently had a negative experience with someone in tech support. When calling tech support, positive interactions are remembered fondly -- but conversely, negative interactions with customer service become lifelong baggage. Not unlike a bad relationship, the damage can be permanent. In my role, I witness two consistent symptoms of this phenomenon:
  1. The customer starts the conversation with a “shoulder chip”. Because of a past negative experience, all customer support reps with whom they come into contact, will have to earn the right to be treated with courtesy and respect from this individual.
  2. If, in the past, the customer received an obviously wrong answer with the goal of ending the call quickly, customers may have taught themselves to lie. The lies are designed by the customer to avoid the support “blow off”. They do not want to hear “Ummm…that is not supported.”.

For customers, I offer the following suggestions to improve future technical support experiences:

  • Do not lie to your support rep when asked a question. If you end up with a knee jerk reaction designed to get you off the phone, let it slide. This rep clearly does not know the answer. If they knew what it was, they would be already correcting the problem. Hang up and try again. There is a dud in every batch.
  • Don’t be rude to the support rep. If you would not say these words to their face in a bar, think how silly you sound yelling over a phone.
  • If the support from a company is poor, end the relationship. Life is too short for that hassle. It likely will not get better any time soon, and ultimately this is the only power you possess with this company.
  • (Techies, please move to the next bullet item) Computers are hard. Computers are complex. Computers break. Computers are hard. If the sales person tells you otherwise, he/she is lying. If you are a small business owner, your money will be well spent having an IT professional on retainer. You do not need expensive furnishings. Corporate art will not enable your business to grow. But a good tech in your pocket can save the day and improve long-term productivity. 
  • Buy only the features you need. Bells, whistles and shiny moving parts do not make a good product. The more moving parts, the higher likelihood of a breakdown. This is the Glance Networks mantra. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) approach to the web demo market has been well received by our customer base.
Conclusion

As long as humans and technology remain flawed entities, the customer-vendor dichotomy will likely never go away. Remember that when technology works, we are all able to perform amazing tasks without the bounds of distance or time.

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About Glance Networks
Glance is a simple, quick-connecting screen-sharing tool designed to help sales pros maximize every conversation within all steps of the sales cycle; prospect, demo, close and support. The Arlington, Mass.-based Company’s technology is used by thousands of companies worldwide. For more information, or to sign up for a free, 7-day trial, visit www.glance.net or call 1-888-945-2623.

March 19, 2010

White Paper | Integrating Process, Tools, and Technique - Sales 2.0 Basics

 Introduction: Turn Your Sales Cycles into "Buying Cycles"
Recently I broke bread with good friend and CEO of Plan2Win Software, Steve Harper.  As we commonly do, Steve and I discussed his New Orleans Saints, my New England Patriots, Religion, Politics, and all things Sales. On this particular day I was grinding my “Sales-Cycle-Axe”, when Steve kindly interrupted and asked; “Why do you still refer to it as a Sales Cycle?” Apparently I looked at him in amazement as he continued, “With all of the information available today to any consumer, prosumer, or B-to-B buyer, they drive the process, not you – it’s a Buying Cycle – get it?”

Steve continued to enlighten me, and for more of his wisdom I would direct you to his Blog at www.territoryplan.com. The result of that discussion lead me to produce this series of papers on Sales 2.0 Basics.

-- Tom Scontras, VP, Sales & Marketing, Glance Networks

Moving from Sales 1.0 to Sales 2.0
One of the greatest benefits of the Sales 2.0 era is the lead quality produced by social networks and related marketing programs. Yet old attitudes and inadequate processes for prospecting are keeping many sales organizations from taking advantage of this bounty.

 

Like a hangover from the old days, a misperception that marketing leads stink continues to linger.

These Sales professionals face prospecting with about as much enthusiasm as doing their taxes. They don’t like it. They don’t do it. Or if they have to, they do it poorly for lack of practice.

In his book, Baseline Selling, author Dave Kurlan says that 60 percent of sales pros are not prospecting consistently, and 50 percent don’t prospect at all.

This learned response needs to be unlearned because unlike the Sales 1.0 days when 500 leads from your tradeshow booth turned into 499 people simply seeking your free-pen giveaway, today’s lead gen technologies when combined with the use of sales 2.0 tools yield a high percentage of qualified conversations with prospects genuinely interested in your product.

No longer are we relegated to tchotchke seekers, nor some random name purchased from a list. Instead, today we have incredible insight into our prospects world, and vice-versa!

In fact if a lead is “inbound” there is a high likelihood that they have approved budgets, done their research, checked out your Website, and decided to evaluate your (or your competitor’s) product/service on their own.

Moreover, with the rapid growth of today’s social networks: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter; many have been educated on your solution thru their own social/business network of trusted advisors, and very possible, unbeknownst to you, your own customers.

The bottom line: buyers habits and process have evolved exponentially, hence so must your selling efforts.

Today, more than ever, first calls, inbound or out, must be treated as the most critical step in the sales cycle. And to this end, any good prospecting program should have a well-defined process, integrated tools, and of course, well-executed technique.

Engage Accordingly
It is critical to understand the “sales engagement model” (i.e. timing and frequency) which naturally occurs within your given market segment. All marketing and sales programs should conform within the natural ebb and flow of the segment into which you sell.

 For example, a customer who provides contact information in exchange for a free 7 day trial which cost $19.99 per month, understands that they have seven days to try the service, and along with the contact information submitted, gives permission to be hammered by sales calls and emails in that same period!  If you don’t believe this to be true; then tell me why the leading downloader of consumer software is Mickey Mouse?

On the other hand, look at the Enterprise Software Segment -- if these customers self-identify in order to download a white paper reviewing Global ERP Strategy, which costs millions to deploy, their expectations are similar, they will be contacted; but not every day for the next seven days; and whatever the channel, the communication will be respectful of time, and consultative in approach.

It is critical that Marketing and Sales Organizations thoroughly understands these “engagement cultures” prior to design and execution of any prospecting, nurturing or support practice.

Although within this paper, we discuss great selling tools, all are useless if deployed into a process that does not understand how to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time. However, once the variables of this equation are balanced, the sky is the limit!

Make the First Call Count to Increase Probability of Success
Regardless if B2B or B2C, these days, making the first call count is critical.

The good news is that if the prospect is an inbound lead, or a trial download (like those mentioned above), there will be some existing mindshare. So it’s highly likely that he or she will be receptive to your call, but only if on the phone you engage them instantly, intelligently and efficiently.

Even if with pure cold calling, having a process supported by key sales 2.0 tools will greatly increase your first call win rate.

The prospecting process has never begun with dialing the digits; and today its borderline insane to call anyone without gathering customer intelligence first. In fact, never before have sales professionals been able to assemble so much information about a client in so little time. But it can be both a blessing and curse.

By combining Sales 2.0 tools such as HubSpot for lead gen with InsideView for sales intelligence, not only are sales professionals served up quality leads, but an abundance of details about those leads. Leveraging these technologies greatly increases the probability of success on first calls.

In the “old days”, prospecting was a two-step process.  First, get a connection. Second, get the “appointment”. More likely than not, that appointment would end up delayed for weeks, or canceled.  Now, using Sales 2.0 call engagement tools like Connect and Sell, and Glance, that two-step process can be converged into one, and weeks of sales “hang time” compressed into less than an hour. 

However, given the typical “shiny-object” personas of aggressive callers, Sales Reps can easily succumb to spending too much time researching at the expense of getting through their daily phone list and accomplishing a clear and simple goal.

Therefore it’s essential that clear parameters are established for this reconnaissance step.  Requirements should be designed with your first call objective in mind. In other words, develop a process that gathers just enough customer intelligence without sacrificing focus, productivity and results.

Develop the Right Skills
Even the best prospecting process and most advanced Sales 2.0 technologies won’t actually make the phone calls for you. So it’s imperative that you have clear scripts, a common sales methodology, and right skills to make a big impact.

 To make the first call count, you need to be knowledgeable about the prospect, and be well prepared. It’s critical to create and practice scripts for each outbound and inbound call in your process.

Don’t let the scripts turn you into a robo-caller. Instead, they should provide an outline that guides you toward an end objective, such as scheduling a deeper dive, or introduction to key influencers or decision makers. Rather than pepper the prospect with questions or feature dump on products, scripts should foster value-based conservations which deliver on the old customer adage “what’s in it for me” (WIFM).  

Sales organizations should also adopt a specific sales methodology (Spin, Sandler Sales, Solution Selling, Miller-Heiman, etc.) in order to become most effective with skill development across the entire sales cycle.

These training programs are often overlooked by know-it-all sales managers who believe that they already have all of the skills necessary to deliver a win for the company.

Top producers however see the value of training via these proven systems, and always make it a point to implement them.

Much like you would imagine that Lance Armstrong, 7 time Tour de France winner, wouldn’t need a program (how hard can it be to ride a bike, right?)  Yet, not only does he have a program, he has a personal trainer, and a coach!

Which brings me to my final point: Hire an outside consultant to deliver this training (like Steve Harper at Plan2Win, or Trish Bertuzzi at The Bridge Group). Sure, there’s no doubt you know your organization and solution best; but they know how to advance the skills of your team.

A top consultant is well versed in managing “Sales Excuse Makers” and getting to real issues. They carry neither emotional involvement nor personal relationship within your business, hence you can empower them to make clear assessments and give direction without pre-existing conditions getting in the way.  

But most importantly they bring a perspective from working with hundreds of Sales Organizations who have faced the same challenges, built solutions, and delivered results time and time again.

Summary
Gone are the days of long sales cycles, supported by hundreds of outside sales reps. Today, the cycles are shorter and the focus is on inside sales teams working with extremely educated, and well qualified, prospects. That’s why it’s all the more important that your prospecting process incorporates these three key items: a well-defined prospecting process, the right blend of systems, and skilled techniques.

With this, you can greatly improve your prospecting effectiveness and efficiency, resulting in increased conversion rates and significant cost reductions. 

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About Glance Networks
Glance is a simple, quick-connecting screen-sharing tool designed to help sales pros maximize every conversation within all steps of the sales cycle; prospect, demo, close and support. The Arlington, Mass.-based Company’s technology is used by thousands of companies worldwide. For more information, or to sign up for a free, 7-day trial, visit www.glance.net or call 1-888-945-2623.

March 18, 2010

White Paper | The ABC’s of "A.B.C." - Sales 2.0 Basics

Integrating Continuous Qualifying Conversations and the Impact on Closing Business

Introduction: Turn Your Sales Cycles into "Buying Cycles"
Recently I broke bread with good friend and CEO of Plan2Win Software, Steve Harper.  As we commonly do, Steve and I discussed his New Orleans Saints, my New England Patriots, Religion, Politics, and all things Sales. On this particular day I was grinding my “Sales-Cycle-Axe”, when Steve kindly interrupted and asked; “Why do you still refer to it as a Sales Cycle?” Apparently I looked at him in amazement as he continued, “With all of the information available today to any consumer, prosumer, or B-to-B buyer, they drive the process, not you – it’s a Buying Cycle – get it?”

Steve continued to enlighten me, and for more of his wisdom I would direct you to his Blog at www.territoryplan.com. The result of that discussion lead me to produce this series of papers on Sales 2.0 Basics.

-- Tom Scontras, VP, Sales & Marketing, Glance Networks

 
Always Be Closing

"Always be closing,” the ABC’s-of-selling mantra popularized by David Mamet’s awarding-winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross, is good advice tangled up in wrong execution.

It’s a classic movie, but Sales professionals know that you shouldn’t think of closing as just the final contract negotiation. This narrow view of closing is too often sullied by the overly aggressive inexperienced sales persona.

Instead, the closing to which I refer should be considered a technique that is continuously employed throughout the entire sales cycle. It’s all about establishing clarity through many conversations.

I’m pretty sure everyone reading this paper has gone out for an ice cream? So what does this have to do with closing conversations? Well think about it for a moment, and consider the analogy of buying a cone from your favorite ice cream stand.

Before the server at the window can take your money, there is a very familiar conversation that occurs:  

Scooper: “Hello, Welcome to the Ice Cream Shack, may I take your order?”
Customer: “Yes, I’d like an Ice Cream.”
Scooper:  “Ice Cream great, what Flavor?”
Customer: “Hmm, Chocolate.”
Scooper: “Chocolate, Hard or Soft Serve?”
Customer: “Soft Serve”
Scooper: “Wonderful. Soft Serve! Ice Cream or Non Fat Yogurt?”
Customer: “Non Fat Yogurt.”
Scooper: “Ok great, in a cone or a cup?”
Customer: “A cone.”
Scooper: “A cone, ok, Sugar, Plain, or Waffle”
Customer: “Plain.”
Scooper: “Great! Would you like toppings?”
Customer: “No Thanks.”
Scooper: “Nothing for toppings. Small, Medium, or Large?”
Customer: “Small please.”
Scooper: “Small, so let me see if I got this right. You want a Small, Soft Serve, Chocolate, Frozen Yogurt, without toppings right?”
Customer: “Right.”
Scooper: “That will be three dollars.”
Customer: “Here you go!”

  No doubt that this is an over-simplification, yet a great example of how this repetitive, qualify-then-close technique, drives results-oriented discussion by extracting the critical insight required to move deals forward.

Ultimately when done correctly, this “Closing” process makes the ultimate transaction not hing more than a final conversation within an ongoing process.

Of course the scooper has an advantage; they know the person at the window is going to purchase ice cream so they don’t need to understand all motivation which drives the ice cream seeker to stand in line for 30 minutes.  But the B2B Sales pro does, and the way they get to closure is by conducting many conversations across the organizational structure; beginning with identifying the real problem, the budget, the people and the critical pending event driving their need.

In ice cream terms it would go something like this:

Scooper: Hi, Welcome to the Ice Cream Shack, what brings you out tonight?
Customer: Well, I want an Ice Cream
Scooper: Interesting, an Ice Cream, why?
Customer: Well, I’m craving it.
Scooper: Ok, that’s fair, do you have a minute now and we can chat a bit more about what’s motivating you to consider our ice cream?

Think about it this way, if ice cream was sold to the enterprise, this conversation would have been stretched out over many conversations and people in order to determine if there was even a deal present. In the “Chocolate” case above maybe we would have determine that the ice cream customer was an overweight, lactose intolerant, chocoholic, who was on a strict diet, and was rewarding himself for having just weighed in at his doctors office and where he had lost 20lbs, but needed to have the ice cream in hand prior to his wife catching him – hence, his real motivations revealed. Make sense?

In other words, Always Be Closing means setting expectations prior to every conversation, and with clarification of every qualifying question in every engagement throughout the sales process. ABC is critical for B2B sales pros because they typically don’t get clear answers like “chocolate” or “vanilla” from prospects; they get answers more like “I just want ice cream to solve my problem.” Which by the way, ice cream can do!

The fact is, prospects sometimes won’t answer questions for a variety of reasons. Make sure you note those questions that remain unanswered and keep coming back to them in subsequent qualifying conversations.

Any question left hanging in the air usually has an interesting story behind it that you need to know, and probably a personal motivation as to why that person doesn’t want to answer it.

Seeking closure for those reluctant-to-answer questions is what drives conversations forward and provides much clearer understanding. Conversely, questions that you skipped and did not get closure on during the sales courtship make closing “the deal” problematic.

Customer: where are my jimmies?
Scooper: You didn’t tell me you wanted jimmies
Customer: You never asked.

Many questions are difficult to ask, such as; are there other issues, for example, political, which are impacting your position? That’s why it’s critical that you first build credibility with the prospect before asking. Studies show there is a direct correlation between sales professional’s ability to quickly establish credibility and their ability to close deals.

Returning to our ice cream stand analogy, imagine the outcome if the first thing a server said to was, “Wow, you’re a pretty big guy so this is going to be expensive. Do you have at least $20 on you before I take your order?”

Even if the Ice Cream Shack has a universal reputation as the area’s best ice cream, this deal is dead on arrival. But understanding and practicing ABC will enable you to build rapport quickly, be more credible, and conduct all the necessary selling conversations that lead to a smooth transaction. In fact, building strong credibility in each conversation may even convince the customer that the Ice Cream Shack’s superior quality warrants top dollar.

Closing the Close
Since this paper is about closing, you’re probably wondering when I’m finally going to get around to actual contract negotiation and deal making advice.

I’m not.

Terms, conditions and price should have been conversations you had long before the proposal was sent off to the contracts department to be negotiated. If you had properly established credibility and had the conversations with the person who controls the budget, you’d already know what cards the contract department is going to play.

In other words, you need to “close” on the “process of closing” with your key executive sponsor in the organization. He or she will let you know what kind of discounts that Contracts will ask for. Sending a pre-discounted sales proposal at this point weakens your position because negotiators will think that it’s a starting point. Remember, many negotiators need to prove their worth or qualify for bonuses by demonstrating some kind of discount or concession gained for their organization.

You also need to determine what discount point is a deal breaker for you, and make sure everyone knows it ahead of time. Again, get closure on these contract variables from key decision makers before even entering contract negotiations.

While contract negotiators may pretend that they are the final arbiters, your executive sponsor usually has the budget authority to make final decisions on price and legal terms. If you had done your ABC’s throughout the entire sales process, you’ll be well prepared to counter when the contract negotiator says “We have a problem.” A quick call to your executive sponsor and a reminder of the closure you have already mutually agreed upon, will usually solve the problem.

So the next time you’re ordering ice cream, test the true principles of Always Be Closing for yourself from the customer perspective. Applying ABC throughout the entire customer engagement will make the final closing little more than a formality.

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About Glance Networks
Glance is a simple, quick-connecting screen-sharing tool designed to help sales pros maximize every conversation within all steps of the sales cycle; prospect, demo, close and support. The Arlington, Mass.-based Company’s technology is used by thousands of companies worldwide. For more information, or to sign up for a free, 7-day trial, visit www.glance.net or call 1-888-945-2623.

March 17, 2010

Customer Success Story | Glance Improves VisiStat's Demos by 75%

A Glance Customer Success Story

Tina Bean uses Glance Who
Tina Bean
Co-founder & Vice President, Sales & Marketing, VisiStat, Inc.                          

About Tina
Tina’s career took an uncommon journey from California real estate agent to high-tech marketing when she discovered the power of Web analytics. Today, she specializes in showing realtors and other SMBs how to win business with VisiStat, her company’s suite of Website tracking tools. 

Tina is also a prolific blogger and Twitter user, sharing her knowledge about Web analytics for business and the sales process. According to one of her colleagues, “Tina Bean is one of the most effective and contagious thought leaders I've ever seen.”
Quote from Tina Bean
What She Sells
VisiStat provides a suite of easy-to-use Website tracking tools for inbound marketing and lead generation. It offers real-time traffic data for anyone who wants to see who is visiting their Website, how long they stayed, what search engines and keywords brought them and more.

“We are next generation Web analytics because our technology focuses on uncomplicated and extremely valuable instant information that shows exactly how many human visitors go to a Website, as opposed to traditional or old-generation log file reporting” said Bean.

Tina’s Sales Challenge
Tina works daily to win new customers, target new vertical markets, and keep her current customers happy. But she faces three key challenges in forging and maintaining these relationships:

1) How to demonstrate the potential of a real-time data-centric solution…
2) to a non-techie audience…
3) without having to travel the country endlessly.

Although the Web analytics solution involves complex technology under the hood, VisiStat was built specifically to be easy to use for non-tech and low-tech customers. She needed a sales tool that would help her communicate the speed, power and value of real-time web analytics, while also showcasing its simplicity during sales presentations and demos.

How Glance Helps
Tina believes her products’ features and capabilities speak for themselves; all she has to do is show a prospect how they work in the real world. She uses Glance to demonstrate VisiStat’s real-time technology in real-time.

Glance is a fast and lightweight screen-sharing tool that can easily keep up with VisiStat’s real-time data processing when she’s demoing her software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution using the prospect’s own Web traffic. “I can tell you all day long how great my product is. But until you see it analyzing your web site in real time, you’ll really understand what I’m talking about. Other technologies can’t keep up with the real-time data provided by VisiStat. Glance is instantaneous and able to keep up with what I’m doing,” she said.

Glance is also the perfect sales enablement tool for her non-technical audience since it requires no software to download and controls to master. “The dead space on the other end of the phone while the customer is downloading WebEx or some other web conferencing tool is excruciating. Using Glance, my demos have improved by 75 percent,” she added.

Results
“Glance has paid for itself many times over,” said Tina, who uses it daily to host webinars and product demonstrations on the fly. “Glance is instrumental in demoing and closing a sales lead. It was has streamlined VisiStat’s sales process.

“I can’t afford the time and expense to fly all over the country showing software. Instead, a customer lead turns into a prospect. The prospect trials the software and we contact them a week later to do a real-time demo of technology with Glance. This accelerated sales process has opened many more doors for us compared to the old way of endless travel for in-person meetings.”

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About VisiStat
VisiStat, Inc. distinguishes itself from other analytics services, such as Google, ClickTracks and WebTrends, by being the first on-demand Web analytics provider to focus on complete Website management and online marketing performance for business, sales and marketing-level needs. VisiStat continues to be the price-performance leader in real-time site management tools, providing intuitive visual reports specifically designed for Web 2.0 business applications and Website productivity. VisiStat.com turns Website visitor tracking into actionable business intelligence. A privately held company founded in 2005, VisiStat, Inc., is based in Campbell, CA. To learn more, or sign up for a full, no-obligation free trial, visit www.VisiStat.com or call 408-725-9377.

About Glance
Glance is a simple, quick-connecting screen-sharing tool designed to help sales pros maximize every conversation within all steps of the sales cycle; prospect, demo, close and support. The Arlington, Mass.-based Company’s technology is used by thousands of companies worldwide. For more information, or to sign up for a free, 7-day trial, visit www.glance.net or call 1-888-945-2623.

March 17, 2010

Customer Success Story | SelectRISC Uses Glance to Demonstrate the Power and Capabilities of Their System

A Glance Customer Success Story

WhoSelectRISC uses Glance
John Cook
President, SelectRISC

About John
John’s approach to business is, “Old school values delivered by new school technologies.” John’s company is in the business of financially protecting family possessions during relocation. Families often experience financial and emotional stress when they move. The ability to provide insurance with a reassuring personal touch is critical to his success. And while it may seem counterintuitive, he believes that technology is pivotal in enabling him to deliver that personal touch. 

What He Sells
SelectRISC’s sales reps offer employee relocation insurance for corporate and government-sponsored moves. It protects families’ possessions all the way from packing through unpacking. John typically does sales demos to the Relocation Departments of large organizations, or to outsourced relocation management companies hired by organizations.

SelectRISC provides the fastest possible claims resolution with its state-of-the-art online claims center. “Damage and loss are frequent occurrences, even with the most careful movers. There’s a lot emotion attached to those things that are lost. When that happens, employers feel that they have failed their employees. That’s where we offer a solution,” said Cook.

John’s Sales Challenges
Moving companies often bundle property protection schemes into their moving packages, marketing them as “free insurance.” But the plans are often not insurance policies at all, often the protection is extremely limited.

“It’s hard to compete against free,” he said. But John almost always wins the battle if he’s able to show prospects his three key differentiators, during a sales demo:

1) The comprehensiveness of the coverage,
2) The personal touch he provides for each client, and most importantly,
3) SelectRISC’s cutting-edge online claims system.

 How Glance Helps
John uses Glance to demonstrate the power and capabilities of his system to prospects on the Web. “We recently were asked to quote a project for a large brand-name manufacturer, which I did from my remote Texas office to a roomful of top executives and risk managers in the boardroom of their Chicago headquarters,” he said. “They asked me to present using their corporate web conferencing tool, which failed miserably. So I instantly fired up a Glance session and saved the day.”

“We had tried a few other web conferencing tools in the past, but they were unreliable and constantly let us down, which could hurt business. Glance, by comparison, has been rock-solid reliable since the first time we tried it,” he said.

In addition to being a sales enablement tool, SelectRISC uses Glance as a team collaboration tool for product development.

Results
SelectRISC has slashed its travel budget by more than 50 percent using Glance, without sacrificing the company’s hallmark personal touch. He’s found prospects prefer the time-saving convenience as well.

“My customers are time-starved executives. With Glance, I can be more respectful of their constraints and show them how our system works in real time without overstepping my welcome. It’s fast, simple and gets the job done without getting in the way,” he added.

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About SelectRISC
SelectRISC is all about protecting families exposed in corporate relocation to the financial and emotional costs of loss or damage to their most personal possessions. We do this by using our industry leading experience to arrange the very best insurance coverage and "old school service" we would provide to our own families.

About Glance
Glance is a simple, quick-connecting screen-sharing tool designed to help sales pros maximize every conversation within all steps of the sales cycle; prospect, demo, close and support. The Arlington, Mass.-based Company’s technology is used by thousands of companies worldwide. For more information, or to sign up for a free, 7-day trial, visit www.glance.net or call 1-888-945-2623.

March 17, 2010

Customer Success Story | Glance Saves HubCast Big Money

A Glance Customer Success Story

Devin Golden Uses Glance Who
Devin Golden
Vice President of Sales, HubCast

About Devin
Devin’s mission is to revolutionize the way commercial printing is bought, produced and delivered across the globe. His company is blazing a new market category called cloud printing. And Devin believes it will do for marketing collateral what Amazon did for book buying. With the help of Glance, he hopes to turn-on all the big global brands to the ease, cost-savings and eco-friendly advantages of his Internet-powered printing solution.

Quote from Devin Golden What He Sells
HubCast is a digital print delivery network that lets communication professionals get their sales and marketing materials printed anywhere in the world faster, cheaper, and better than ever before.

Devin’s Sales Challenge
Devin is trying to overcome the natural resistance and unfamiliarity that comes with establishing a new market category. It’s not that he has to struggle to convince marketers why they need cloud printing – the value proposition is a no-brainer. He just needs to let them see and touch solution first hand so that they can experience their own “aha” moment. 

How Glance Helps
Devin said that because HubCast is a web-based cloud application, Glance is the perfect, seamless medium for demonstrating the service’s capabilities in real time. “Glance makes it quick and easy for our sales reps to engage clients as part of the sales process. Prospects can see exactly how easy it is for them to get print done on a global basis by showing how HubCast works in a real-world experience,” he said.

Glance has also helped his sales team gain trust from cautious clients. HubCast sells mainly to senior sales and marketing executives whose job includes protecting the corporate brand image. Glance enables sales reps to showcase all the quality controls built into the service to put their mind at ease. 

Results

Devin said Glance’s greatest benefit is its rock-solid reliability and ease of use. He’s used numerous online presentation tools through the years, including WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft LiveMeeting and DimDim, and all have failed him. “Our most recent tool was ReadyTalk, and we experienced malfunctions or problems with it on every sales call, literally. Glance works every time.”

“Glance helps us deliver a better overall customer experience, which leads to higher conversion rates. When we used LiveMeeting for webinars, a third of the people who signed up dropped out because of technical difficulties, or because they didn’t want to download software. With Glance, we’re getting nearly 100% participation with no drop outs.”

Devin said that Glance is also saving HubCast big money. “We’re saving about 30% annually in licensing and management costs compared to the other tools we’ve used. And that’s just the software ROI. When you factor in the business won due to the better user experience and usability, the ROI goes way up,” he said.

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About HubCast
HubCast is a technology platform that empowers Communication Services Firms to deliver distributed print for their enterprise clients. We leverage a powerful team, an alliance of partners, and the most advanced digital print technologies. HubCast is a tool that enables modern print communications service providers to help their enterprise clients maximize Return On Communications Investment (ROCI). The HubCast community is creating a market leading exchange for boundary-less growth.

About Glance
Glance is a simple, quick-connecting screen-sharing tool designed to help sales pros maximize every conversation within all steps of the sales cycle; prospect, demo, close and support. The Arlington, Mass.-based Company’s technology is used by thousands of companies worldwide. For more information, or to sign up for a free, 7-day trial, visit www.glance.net or call 1-888-945-2623.

March 16, 2010

Customer Success Story | Glance Has Increased CabConnect's Customer Acquisition

A Glance Customer Success StorySteve Michel uses Glance

Who
Steve Michel
VP, Sales & Marketing, CabConnect

About Steve
Steve has a long history of bringing “old school” businesses into the digital age. In his latest venture, he aims to revolutionize ground transportation organizations (like cab companies, transit authorities, etc.) with technologies that let them operate more profitably, efficiently, and eco-friendly.

Steve Michel Uses Glance What He Sells
CabConnect’s software suite includes electronic payment systems, GPS services, driver cashiering and personalized card-swipe programs. Cab companies offer the service to businesses who provide corporate-funded transportation for employees and guests, while getting a better grip on transportation expenses and cost cutting. Transit organizations such as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) use CabConnect for its paratransit taxi debit card service, eliminating customer fraud, while delivering a better user experience. CabConnect coordinates and manages all the back-office resources and functions of busy transportation companies. 
 
Steve’s Sales Challenge
Steve struggles with the inflexibility that can characterize ground transportation companies. Most believe the business processes and systems they’ve implemented over the years provide their differentiation, and an off-the-shelf solution like CabConnect can’t improve or address their unique needs.
 
Steven also faces stiff competition from larger, older transportation software vendors offering traditional “point products” that address a specific function, such as taxi cashiering.

How Glance Helps
With Glance, CabConnect is no longer dependent on sales materials, videos and slide shows as the door opener for new prospects. Using Glance, Steven’s sales team can show skeptical prospects the real thing, demonstrating in real time exactly how CabConnect’s suite of software tools work together to solve business problems in a real-world environment.

Glance also enhances CabConnect’s team selling model. “Recently I was in a sales situation where I needed to bring in one of our engineers to handle the technical part of the demo. Even though I was in Chicago, he was in Cleveland and the prospect was in California, Glance enabled me to hand him the baton without any disruption to the presentation’s flow,” he said.

Steve also uses Glance for training, which he believes is one of CabConnect’s competitive advantages.

Results
Glance has benefited CabConnect in three key ways, Steve said:
1.    Reduced travel costs;
2.    Improved customer acquisition; and
3.    Increased customer retention.

“Glance is the most intuitive, easiest to use and most effective way to bring the client into your point of view. Prospects don’t have to install software and muck around with software. They don’t have the patience or time for it. With Glance, it’s not an issue.”

“Glance has definitely increased our customer acquisition and throughput. We can now reach customers no matter where they are located, both on the fly and at their convenience. And we can enhance the customer service experience by using Glance to provide instruction and hand-holding,” Steve said.

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About CabConnect

CabConnect is a technology company whose goal is to improve operations for ground transportation companies. Cabconnect offers an all-encompassing software suite of products designed to coordinate and manage all the resources, information and functions of busy enterprises
 
The company helps transportation companies, no matter what size, operate more profitably and efficiently. CabConnect has taken advantage of the latest technologies and have developed key strategic business partnerships to offer customers a system of management software that will give them the technological edge and level of service that is necessary in this competitive and budget-conscious environment.

About Glance
Glance is a simple, quick-connecting screen-sharing tool designed to help sales pros maximize every conversation within all steps of the sales cycle; prospect, demo, close and support. The Arlington, Mass.-based Company’s technology is used by thousands of companies worldwide. For more information, or to sign up for a free, 7-day trial, visit www.glance.net or call 1-888-945-2623.

March 16, 2010

Customer Success Story | Glance Helps TechniCon's Sales Team Begin Qualifying Instantly

 A Glance Customer Success StoryTony Mirante uses Glance

Who
Anthony Mirante
Founder and President, TechniCon

About Tony (Anthony)
Tony is helping to drive the trend toward “mass customization” of products over the Web. Some of the world's foremost manufacturers have embraced his technology to sell millions of products online, yet customized for specific customer needs. What Dell did for made-to-order PCs, Tony wants to do for the commerce of all complex products.

Quote from Tony Mirante What He Sells
TechniCon sells Web-based catalog and configuration tools for manufacturers and distributors of complex products, like cars, furniture and electronics. Customers such as Acuity Brands, Lutron and Teknion use the technology to let their customers, sales staff and design engineers easily assemble and customize products in a virtual environment. From product and parts catalogs to quote and order creation, TechniCon helps customers increase sales, streamline their sales processes and eliminate order errors. 

Tony’s Sales Challenge
His first sales challenge is geography. The Oakland-based company’s clients tend to be large manufacturers in the industrial mid-west and east coast, making continuous travel cost prohibitive.

The second challenge is relationship building. Nearly 100 percent of new customer leads stem from inbound Internet marketing campaigns, where there’s no pre-existing relationship or familiarity from which to base the engagement. Prospects tend to be senior sales or marketing executives within large companies, where relationships mean everything. And with the sales cycles typically taking 6 to 18 months, building a strong relationship is both a considerable investment and a sustained effort for TechniCon. “We need to qualify each other. If we’re going to make that kind of investment in a customer, we need to make sure we’re a good fit first,” said Tony.

How Glance Helps
Glance enables Tony’s sales team to engage prospects and begin the qualification process instantly. The fast and lightweight screen sharing tool allows sales reps to give a quick intro to the company’s history and expertise. And once the two parties mutually decide to move forward, the reps can accurately demonstrate online how TechniCon’s solution can serve their e-commerce needs.

Results

Glance has helped Tony’s sales team win more business by establishing instant credibility with prospects, thanks to its simplicity and reliability. “You only get one shot to make a good first impression,” he said. “I’ve used WebEx, GoToMeeting and other presentation tools with disastrous results. They’re just too complex and crash-prone to facilitate open and direct conversation. Glance is like a dial tone. It’s always there. It always works. And it doesn’t get in the way. It’s been absolutely flawless,” he said. 

Glance has also helped the company realize big savings in travel expenses. The long lead times and many relationship-building steps required by his clientele has been streamlined with Glance. “There are a lot of product engineering and data questions that need to be answered up front. With Glance, we can do a number of Web-based demonstrations and answer many questions before we get on a plane to close a deal. Our customers like it because they can see how our company operates and how our solution works without any effort on their part,” Tony said. 

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About TechniCon
Founded in 1987, TechniCon is a leading provider of e-commerce solutions for complex products. Combining over a decade of experience developing product specification and sales automation software with leading-edge Internet and visualization technology, TechniCon has developed interactive sales and configuration systems for a wide range of manufacturers, including Acuity Brands, Cooper Industries, and SMC. TechniCon (www.TechniCon.com) is headquartered in Emeryville, CA with additional offices in St. Louis, MO.


About Glance
Glance is a simple, quick-connecting screen-sharing tool designed to help sales pros maximize every conversation within all steps of the sales cycle; prospect, demo, close and support. The Arlington, Mass.-based company’s technology is used by thousands of companies worldwide. For more information, or to sign up for a free, 7-day trial, visit www.glance.net or call 1-888-945-2623.