"Please, challenge me" - Your customer

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"Please, challenge me" - Your customer

Salesperson #1: “Thank you for the opportunity to quote this heat exchanger for you. Please fill out this long form so we can send it to an engineer to get it quoted."

Salesperson #2: "I have a product in mind that I think will work great for you. Since this is a food grade application, I think we might want to look at double wall construction. Do you have a specific design in mind? We recommend plate-and-frame over brazed plates so the heat exchanger can be opened and inspected to ensure it is getting cleaned. Plate-and-frame models can also be taken apart for repair. Replacement plates and gaskets can be ordered, or performance can be adjusted if your customer finds they need to add or remove plates in the future."

Notice the difference?

These two conversations got me thinking about one of my favorite sales books, The Challenger Sale, by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. (If you haven't read this book yet, please stop right now and go buy a copy. It's sooo good)

In The Challenger Sale, Dixon and Adamson share their research on what qualities or attributes buyers find most impactful to their businesses- and therefore why they buy. 

Based on feedback from 5,000 buyers in the B2B space, the following 7 reasons were the most impactful. 

  1. [Salesperson] offers unique and valuable perspectives on the market. 

  2. [Salesperson] helps me navigate alternatives. 

  3. [Salesperson] provides ongoing advice or consultation.

  4. [Salesperson] helps me avoid potential land mines. 

  5. [Salesperson] educates me on new issues and outcomes. 

  6. [Salesperson] is easy to buy from.  

  7. [Salesperson] has widespread support across my organization

What do you notice about this list? 

The first 5 attributes have nothing to do with features or benefits. They have nothing to do with the product or the company selling the product. The top 5 attributes are all about TEACHING, NOT SELLING!

As noted in the book: "Customers are looking to [salespeople] to help them identify new opportunities to cut costs, increase revenue, penetrate new markets, and mitigate risk in ways they themselves have not yet recognized. Essentially this is the customer—or 5,000 of them at least, all over the world—saying rather emphatically, “Stop wasting my time. Challenge me. Teach me something new.” 

Let’s finish by reviewing the top 5 attributes against salesperson #1 and #2 at the start of this post. 

Salesperson #1 didn’t teach, nor did they help navigate alternatives or help us avoid potential land mines. And to make matters worse, they were hard to do business with (#6 most impactful). 

Salesperson #2 was a teacher. She helped us navigate alternatives (brazed plate vs plate-and-frame) and helped us avoid a potential land mine with a food grade type product. 

Who do you think got the business?


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Brad Telker
Vice President, Applied Systems Group at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of the Applied Systems Group, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys reading, running and spending time with his family


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5 Reasons you're not growing sales with an account

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5 Reasons you're not growing sales with an account

If you're in B2B sales, you probably have a number of accounts that you call on. As you scan your list of customers, you notice that many of them are not growing. "Why is that?" you wonder.

Here are 5 reasons why you're not growing sales with specific accounts.

You’re not calling high enough

If you are not working with the decision maker, it will be hard to influence your customer to work with you. You could have the best solution and the best price, but if the decision maker has a relationship elsewhere, then you are wasting your time. Find out early in the sales process who makes the decision, and keep moving up until you get there. 

A great way to ask this in a non-confrontational way is, "Can you tell me how your buying process works?"

You're not working with an ideal customer

One of the first things you need to do when you build your sales process is to clearly identify your Ideal Customer. What type of business is your ideal customer in? What products and services do they need? What type of training do they need? 

If you ever feel like your prospect "just doesn't understand our value", you might not be working with an ideal customer. 

You don't have a unique value proposition 

Is your business or sales team providing a unique solution to the market? If you are selling the same product or service as everyone else, you will struggle to grow sales. All of your prospects have existing relationships that will be hard to crack with "we sell the same product as your current supplier but we have better customer service!”

If you find yourself competing on price, you probably don’t have a unique value proposition. 

You’re not solving a big enough problem

Even if you DO have a unique value proposition, you better be solving a big problem. If your product or service is similar to the rest of the market, or even slightly better, your prospect may not switch. It's a huge risk with little upside.

Look for a big problem to solve and you will see some POs headed your way.

You’re a bad storyteller 

Maybe you DO have a unique value proposition. And maybe you have a way to solve a huge problem for your customer. Even so, you better be a great storyteller. If you aren't able to articulate why your customer should buy from you, you will have a hard time earning any business. If you can tell a story that, "We are the only company that…", you will have success.

Think of an account that you have been struggling to grow sales with. Now scan the list above. Do you see a reason why you're stuck?


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Brad Telker
Vice President, Applied Systems Group at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of the Applied Systems Group, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys reading, running and spending time with his family


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30 Days without Social Media and the Results - The 30 day Digital Declutter Project

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30 Days without Social Media and the Results - The 30 day Digital Declutter Project

I just finished a complete break from social media for 30 days (the only exception was LinkedIn, and it was only accessible from a computer).

It was incredible.

I was finally 100% present; with my family, with friends, and at work. It was the most productive 30 days I’ve had in years.

I read 7 books.

I got more clear on my goals (personal and professional).

Best of all - I felt happier. Maybe it was because I was more productive in every aspect of my life. But I think the biggest reason was instead of spending my time watching everyone else’s highlight reels, I was creating my own.

If you would like to learn more about the 30 day digital declutter, please read on!

What is a Digital Declutter?

This idea comes from Cal Newport’s book, “Digital Minimalism”. A digital declutter is removing any “optional technology” from your life. Examples might include: social media, TV, online shopping, consuming local news, etc.  

Removing email from your life, for example, is not optional for most people, since they use it for work.

This is why I decided to keep using LinkedIn. I did, however, remove it from my iPhone. So my use of LinkedIn was very limited.

 
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What “Optional Technology” did I remove during my 30 day digital declutter?

Here are all the apps I deleted from my iPhone and iPad: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, FB messenger, 500PX, Mint, Wealthfront, all banking and investment apps. I also deleted my work and personal email accounts.

On my personal and work laptop computers I logged out of all social media apps and deleted the browser shortcuts. 

 
Screen shot of my iPhone during the 30 day declutter (and still remains this way today). Notice no social media - no distracting apps.

Screen shot of my iPhone during the 30 day declutter (and still remains this way today). Notice no social media - no distracting apps.

 

Adjustments

One thing Cal Newport talks about in his book “Digital Minimalism”, is that optional technology does provide some benefits, so when you take a hiatus, you will notice some minor headaches. But the benefits will far outweigh the few downsides.

Here were a couple of adjustments I had to make:

  1. Prior to the declutter, consuming social media was a way to give my brain a mental break between tasks. So it was difficult at first to find another way to take a break. I quickly learned, however, it was more beneficial to take a walk, or to read a few pages from a book. It turns out that using social media was actually doing the opposite of giving my brain a break.

  2. One other issue was trying to get pictures from my phone to LinkedIn. Since I didn’t have the LinkedIn app on my phone, nor did I have email (to email the picture to myself), I had to "text" an email to myself. It took me a few minutes to figure that one out. But that worked. Moving on...  

As you can see, I experienced essentially zero downsides. The aforementioned were hardly headaches. In fact the first adjustment was a benefit. It just took me a few days to realize it.

Benefits of the Digital Declutter

This experience brought many benefits to my life. 

The first benefit I noticed on day 2: My iPhone battery never died. In fact, there were nights that my iPhone had 87% charge climbing into bed. 🙌🏻

I was also getting out of bed much faster and more energized. For about 3 years I’ve been getting up at 5am (Well, my alarm has been set for 5am). Before the digital declutter, I would spend the first 15-20 minutes of my day (sometimes longer) scrolling through social media and email. With no email or social media on my phone, the only thing I could do was check the weather, look at my schedule for the day, check Evernote, or read a book. With no options to trick my brain into mindless activities, I would just get out of bed.

The biggest benefits of the digital declutter were mentioned at the beginning of this article and I think they are worth repeating.

I was finally 100% present.

I read 7 books.

I got clear on my goals.

And best of all - I felt happier.

If you feel like you might be wasting too much time on social media, you should grab a copy of “Digital Minimalism”. Or try out a 30 day digital declutter.

If you do, please let me know how it goes!


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Brad Telker
Vice President, Applied Systems Group at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of the Applied Systems Group, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys reading, running and spending time with his family


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The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

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The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

I always look forward to lunch with my good friend Keith Glasch, who is president of Ruskin in Grandview MO. He has so much wisdom to share, and does so with an energy level that is infectious.

We met at Q39 in Old Westport, Kansas City. Keith travels all over the world, and somehow hadn’t been to Q39 yet. Shocking, I know (by the way- if you haven’t been to Q39, you need to check it out. Go for the brisket!)

At lunch, Keith shared some helpful strategies on leading teams, setting goals, and how to build a great company.

I even learned a dining etiquette rule: When you drop your napkin on the floor, don’t pick it up. Ask for a new one (by the way, I was the one that dropped his napkin).

At the end of our lunch, Keith recommended a book for me to read: The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, by Joseph Murphy. I jotted down the title in my notebook, right below all the other gems Keith shared earlier. As soon as I got back to my office, I hopped on Amazon.com and searched for the title. Two days later I had the book in hand.

 
 

One of my favorite chapters in the book discusses how to use your subconscious mind to be more successful.

Here are the author’s three steps to success:

1. "Find out the thing you love to do, then do it. Success is in loving your work."

Selling more equipment or making more money shouldn’t be the goal. That should be the RESULT. If you love your work, success is imminent. In fact, just loving your work IS success. You will have more energy than your competitors. You will be more fun to work with than anyone else in your market. You will be more knowledgeable. Success is loving your work!

2. “Specialize in some particular branch of work and know more about it than anyone else.”

My 2 cents on this: Just focus on getting 1% better every day, and avoid comparing yourself to others. Especially to those who have been in your field longer than you. Spend time each day learning new things and then sharing what you learned with your network. If you can get better every day, it will eventually work itself out, and you will be one of the most knowledgeable resources in your market.

3. "This one is the most important. You must be sure that the thing you want to do does not redound to your success only. You must not be selfish. It must benefit humanity."

Helping others is the holy grail. If you ever feel like things aren’t going your way, think to yourself, “What can I do to help someone today? What information can I share that will help my customer? What tool can I create that will save my customer time or will help them make more money?”

Success is not higher status or more money. Success is helping other people. Success is loving your work.

How do you define success?


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Brad Telker
Vice President, Applied Systems Group at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of the Applied Systems Group, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys reading, running and spending time with his family


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Stop being such a salesperson!

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Stop being such a salesperson!

One of the biggest mistakes I see salespeople make is spending too much time selling, and not enough time teaching. If you pay close attention to the best salespeople, they educate their customers more than they sell them. 

People don’t want to be “sold” your product or service. They want to learn how it works. They want to understand how it will benefit them. And if it will help your customer enough, they will buy from you!

Here are 3 EASY ways to be an educator and not a salesperson!

Market the benefits, not the features of your product or service

People don’t buy your product for its features. They buy for the benefits. It’s not about gigabytes, or cooling per KW  - it’s how much time or money will it save them. Or it’s how it will help your customer make more money. Benefits sell, not features or specs. 

Create content that is informative and helps your customer with their job

Write an article, or create a 2 minute video about how important it is to service screw compressors, for example. Keep the content light and informative. Share tips on how to stay out of trouble on new installs (even if you aren’t getting the business). Make your customers look good in front of their boss!

Share industry updates that your customer should know about

What is going on in your customer’s world that they should know about? What are the new energy codes that they need to watch out for? What new technology is being developed that would benefit them?

If I can share one piece of advice it is this: When you communicate to your customer, make sure you have THEIR interests ABOVE yours. If you care more about THEIR success than your sales, I promise you the rest will take care of itself. 

Stop being a salesperson. Educate the market and watch your sales grow! 


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Brad Telker
Vice President, Applied Systems Group at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of the Applied Systems Group, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys reading, running and spending time with his family


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