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Showing posts with label sales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sales. Show all posts

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why Salespeople Win or Lose a Sale, According to the Harvard Business Review

I didn’t get into Harvard. Actually, I didn’t even apply, because I definitely wouldn’t have gotten in. I went to a state school for 4 years, and after graduating went right into sales. However, Harvard can still help salespeople who didn’t attend reach the top of our game with their well-researched articles on sales, sales management, and the science behind selling.
In a recent article, the Harvard Business Review tries to identify the reasons why salesperson lose a sale. According to the research, “in the majority of interviews buyers rank all the feature sets of the competing products as being roughly equal. This suggests that other factors separate the winner from the losers.”
Here are the main takeaways from the article, and some advice on what it means for salespeople.

Different customers prefer different selling styles 

There isn’t one selling style that works best. According to the article:
The survey shows 40% of study participants prefer a salesperson who listens, understands, and then matches their solution to solve a specific problem. Another 30% prefer a salesperson who earns their trust by making them feel comfortable, because they will take care of the customer’s long-term needs. Another 30% want a salesperson who challenges their thoughts and perceptions and then prescribes a solution that they may not have known about.
What this means for you:
Always try to read the customer and adapt your sales presentation to their personality. A pushy, confrontational customer is more likely to respond to a challenge, whereas a reserved customer will be more responsive to a salesperson who listens and makes them feel comfortable.

There’s always a top dog 

Another surprising finding of the study was that despite all of the internal politics involved in a company’s buying process, nearly 90% of respondents said that there is always one member of the decision-making committee who “tries to influence and bully the decision their way.” What’s even more surprising is that the person usually succeeds in getting their way 89% of the time.
What this means for you:
Find out who the pushy alpha-dog is. If you can sell them, you’ll almost certainly close the deal.

Not everyone cares about price

Salespeople tend to dread the price conversation, but perhaps we shouldn’t. The study showed that decision-makers have different tiers of price sensitivity, and some barely care about the price at all.
…the importance of price falls into three categories. For “price conscious” buyers, product price is a top decision-making factor. For “price sensitive” buyers, product price is secondary to other decision-making factors such as functionality and vendor capability. For “price immune” buyers, price becomes an issue only when the solution they want is priced far more than the others being considered.
What this means for you:
Identify your buyer’s level of price sensitivity by asking the right questions up front. Many customers will indicate whether price is a critical factor or not. Also be conscious of the industry you’re doing business in, as the study shows that different industries tend to have their own levels of price sensitivity.

Charisma helps, but not always

While most of us think that the likable salesperson will get the deal every time, Martin’s study shows that’s not necessarily true. Given the choice of the following three types of salespeople:
A professional salesperson who knows their product inside and out but is not necessarily someone you would consider befriending
A friendly salesperson who is likable and proficient in explaining their product
A charismatic salesperson who you truly enjoyed being with but is not the most knowledgeable about their product
Most people said that they would rather do business with the friendly salesperson. However, this varied depending on industry, with the healthcare and manufacturing industries choosing the “professional salesperson” more than most, and the media and fashion industries opting for the “charismatic salesperson.”
What this means for you:
Being a friendly salesperson who understands their product is always a safe bet, but depending on your industry, you might want to either study your product even further, or work on your charisma if you want to increase your effectiveness.
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hitchhiker's Guide to Serverless JavaScript


Steven Faulkner
Although Serverless has become a bit of a buzzword recently, Steven Faulkner, Director of Platform Engineering at Bustle, disagrees that it is just a fad.
Although Serverless has become a bit of a buzzword recently, Steven Faulkner, Director of Platform Engineering at Bustle, disagrees that it is just a fad. In his talk at Node.js Interactive, he points out that much of the faults that people find in Serverless -- that it doesn't scale, that it is not production ready, that it’s too slow and expensive -- are provenly false.
Faulkner has made Serverless the backbone for Bustle's content since it became a thing a couple of years ago. This means he is in charge of all things back-end, but does a lot of front-end work, too. At Bustle, one of the largest women’s media properties online, they use serverless for 99 percent of the requests. This translates to between 10 and 20 million calls per day. Serverless has a latency of less than 200ms average, and it costs less than than their EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) base setup.

Serverless 101

Faulkner also addresses some of the misconceptions surrounding Serverless. The first is, admittedly, down to the name of the concept itself. Serverless is a misnomer because, clearly, there are still servers deep down somewhere.
However, Serverless is the result of answering the question "What if we abstracted all the servers away?" -- that is, what happens when you create a service that relieves the developers and admins from having to worry about the underlying server? Serverless implements "anything and everything as a Service," which is not a new concept.
Faulkner says Serverless is really about Functions as a Service (FaaS). The core tenants of FaaS are that code is only run when needed, you only pay when code is run, and you are not bothered with the details, in fact, your app is a function that sits between the request from and the response to the user:
There are several providers offering Serverless-Function as a Service. For example, Microsoft Azure has Azure Functions and Google has Cloud functions. IBM has an open source service called OpenWhisk. Faulkner, however, Faulkner thinks Amazon Web Services is ahead of everyone else in this arena and described some examples in his talk.

Why Use Serverless

Faulkner says there are several advantages to deploying web apps to a Serverless service. Despite what many think, Serverless does not mean NoOps; it means Less Ops. Serverless also scales, in the sense that fewer things change between when you have 1 request per second, and when you have 1000 requests per second.
Price is another factor. You only pay when somebody is using your code. This means you can maintain legacy services that you are not sure you should turn off quite yet, or you can deploy services you are not sure will be successful at zero cost.
But even when your code is running, it is still cheaper. Faulkner says that an API he uses to trail all the user tracking and event tracking on the Bustle website and then route it where it's meant to go costs $2500 month on EC2. On Lambda/API Gateway only $400 month.
For developers, it is easier to iterate at function-based level rather than on your whole application, and Serverless allows for single function deployments. This means you can do things very quickly by re-writing one single function and you can deploy it without affecting the whole. Amazon's service also makes for quicker deployments because you can deploy 50 functions and alias them all at once.

Why Not Use Serverless

There are, however, also several reasons why you may not want to use a Serverless service like Amazon's. There is, for example, the risk of becoming locked in. Migrating from a Serverless FaaS can be a minefield, but, according to Faulkner, from Amazon it is not that hard. He has a chunk of code 9 lines, an Express server, that calls the Lambda functions if you have to migrate.
Another problem is running cold functions. If you're doing something outside the function, like loading a bunch data before the first time your function runs, this can delay the first run an unacceptably long time. Amazon solves the problem by running all your functions within 3.5 hours of the upload.
Testing is yet another area that can cause problems. Testing individual functions is not too difficult according to Faulkner. But when you want to do integration testing across all of your functions, that is still painful.

Serverless at Bustle

At Bustle, the front-end serves up HTML and JavaScript through the API gateway. The application reads some static assets through S3 and uses Lambda for SSR (Server Side Rendering) to generate the actual pages.
On the back-end, Bustle uses GraphQL to fetch most of the data. The JSON generated by GraphQL is processed through API Gateway and Lambda, which are talking to dynamodb or redis, with some PostgreSQL thrown into the mix.


Despite all its advantages, if you are deploying more than two functions, it is very painful to deploy your stuff manually. That's where the tooling comes in. Faulkner mentions Serverless Frameworknode-lambda, apex, claudia.js as tools to check out. But, he also recommends his own open source tool, shep, which will allow you to build and deploy your serverless applications to Amazon's Lambda with a few simple commands.
For more examples and details, watch the complete presentation below:

If you are interested in speaking or attending Node.js Interactive North America 2017 - happening in Vancouver, Canada next fall - please subscribe to the Node.js community newsletter to keep abreast with dates and time.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Close More Customers

Could a Bit of Broken Glass Help You Close More Customers?

Do you already have more customers than you can handle?
I thought so.I haven’t met a business owner yet who was willing to turn away more customers or sales.
So if you wanted to find more qualified leads and customers right now... how would you go about doing it?
Now, most of you have already begun to evaluate which marketing vehicle is going to be best:
  • Should you use social media?
  • What about a letterbox drop or telemarketing?
  • How about another ad in your local newspaper?
    And truth be told, there are a hundred ways that you could get your name or brand out there. But all of these would cost time or money and history has proven that most of the options that you have relied on to date will produce less than a 1-2% conversion rate. That means there are an awful lot of people out there who will see your message and choose not to contact you, even though some of them may legitimately be in the market for your product or service.
    Why is that?
    You know (or least you suspect) that a large percentage of your sales/marketing budget is not effective and simply doing more of what you have always done (or what everyone else in the industry is doing) isn’t going to improve your results significantly. If you want to influence with integrity, attract more customers and increase your sales exponentially, you need to re-think your entire approach and strategy.
    Not now but in a moment, I would like to share with you a little story about how a very clever (and effective) salesman used some broken glass to communicate his point of difference and outsell every salesperson in his company...
    But before I get to that, let me ask you one question - “have you ever come across one of those rare business owners who sells exceptionally well, even during the worst of times?” These super salespeople sell like crazy -- rain or shine -- and they don’t experience slow days, weeks or months. And what's even more impressive - they make it look effortless, don’t they?
    Do you know why? Because it is easy for them – they have mastered the art of influencing with integrity and they don’t have to worry about closing techniques, reframing objections, rapport building or establishing their credibility.

    Let me share with you a quick story that will explain exactly what I mean by influencing with integrity and how it can help you to achieve phenomenal results in your business. In the 1970’s, Corning Glass introduced an innovative product, safety glass, into the North American market.
    A young salesman with little experience joined the company shortly thereafter and began working his way up through the sales department at a feverish pace. In very little time, this young man named Bill, became the top-selling salesman of safety glass in North America. He stunned management with his rapid achievements and became known for refusing to use the standard templates and presentations that most of the other salesmen relied blindly upon. At the national sales convention, he was given an award for his achievements and asked by the president to share his secret to sales. Everyone seated in the room that night waited on the edge of their seats to discover just how this young man, with no prior sales experience, was able to outsell everyone.
    To the president’s invitation, he replied humbly, “of course, it was simple.”

    "First of all,” he confessed “I commissioned some samples of safety glass cut into 6" squares and I purchased a hammer and safety goggles. Rather than boring my audience with small talk, a background summary or building up my credibility, I would simply walk into the room, greet my prospect and open with the question “Would you like to see a piece of glass that doesn't shatter?”
    And I never met a single one that turned me down. In fact, they were all eager to take part in my little experiment and jumped at the chance to pull on the safety goggles, put the glass on the desk and whack it with the hammer. They loved every minute of it and inevitably when they couldn’t break it, they would take the goggles off, sit back in their chairs and exclaim “'Holy smoke, that's incredible!”

    "Then I would simply say,” as Bill paused strategically and drew the adoring crowd in closer for more of his wisdom, “How much of it would you like? And I'd pull out my order pad and start writing up the order."

    Well as you can imagine, Corning Glass was so impressed with this strategy that they equipped all of their salespeople with goggles, hammers and small sample sheets of glass. They sent them out and found that the average closing rate shot up by almost 29%. Now granted, this specific strategy is ideally tailored to work for selling safety glass and it’s not going to work (without some modifications) to get more customers to buy from you.

    But my point (and what you need to take away from this example) is this: The top salesman at Corning never had to "close" the sale, discount his price or resort to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques of matching and mirroring to create rapport. His presentation cured the #1 source of pain for his prospects upfront, so there was no need for him to close, hard sell or waste anyone’s valuable time. The sale was a done deal even before Bill pulled out his order pad.

    Now, let me ask you: How would your life change if you could attract more customers and close them that way everyday -- where leads are drawn to you quickly and closing is just a formality that you no longer need to dread?

    Surprisingly, the dilemma you face right now in attracting more customers has a whole lot more in common with Bill and his story than you might think. You and I say “Yes” to things every single day before we think them through. I want to share with you WHY that is and what compels you to decide and take action. And in the process you will also unlock the secret to transform your message into one your prospects are dying to say “yes” to.
    Understanding Why Customers say “Yes”
    While each of the distinct parts of your brain are constantly communicating with and influencing each other, each performs a very specific role. And as you might suspect, only one of them is responsible for decision making. Neuroscientists have now successfully mapped and measured which areas of the brain light up when stimuli are processed and decisions are made.
    So when your prospect says, “I need to think about it,” we know that the part of the brain that your message is triggering is the new brain. This part of the brain lights up when you are processing words, numbers, colours, making spatial comparisons, or looking for data. In a nutshell, it THINKS and when it does so, it uses up tons of energy—which delays the decision making process.
    Now thinking may not seem like a big deal to you but it is for your brain. Your brain consumes 25% of your body’s total energy. Because of this extraordinary consumption, your brain is hardwired to conserve energy when and where it can. One of the ways it does this is to NOT rely on the thinking part of your brain to make decisions. From a survival perspective, the brain doesn’t like to use more energy than it has to. Therefore, if you can make it easier for your customer’s brain to grasp your message, process it quickly and decide, you are more likely to get a “Yes”.
    If you want to drag out the process of getting to a decision, make sure that he uses his new brain. Give your audience lots of words, numbers, graphs, lists of features and benefits, talk about your competition, and list all of your awards and accreditations—and your customer will NOT decide but he will do a whole lot of thinking and waste time.
    So where do you decide?
    At the top of your spinal cord, there is a collection of neurons—commonly referred to as the old (or reptilian) brain. All bodily functions that take place below the level of consciousness emanate from this part of your brain and it is the part of your brain that lights up when you DECIDE. In fact, it lights up before you have conscious awareness that you have even made a decision because it “sees” things as much as 500 milliseconds faster than the new brain.
    In order to help your prospects use the least amount of brain energy and trigger a quick decision, you must stimulate and appeal to the old brain. This part of the brain is primarily driven by visual cues and primitive instincts. It is 45,000 times older than language and writing and neuroscience has proven that it struggles to process both.
    In order to influence with integrity you need to learn how to trigger the old brain quickly so that when the thinking part of the brain kicks in, your prospect spends time looking for reasons to justify why he has already decided to buy from you – as opposed to reasons why he can’t or needs to think about it.
    In order to do what Bill did naturally and help your prospects to say “Yes” (more quickly) to your product or service, you must first learn to speak the language of the reptilian brain. Without this skill, all of the other strategies and tactics that you have learned in your sales training so far are of no use to you.
    And the best part about this is that you do not need to compromise your integrity or your ethics to improve your results. You don’t need to fall into the trap of feeling that you must hard sell your audience, make your message elaborate, spend more money putting it out there, or use tactics that are designed to trick people into deciding now.
    Here are My Top 7 Secrets to Make This “Broken Glass” Strategy Work for You
1. Quit Using Templates – Stop trying to find prospects with the template newspaper ads, letters, postcards and fridge magnets your competitors are using.People do business with people they like and who are like them.Connect with people and demonstrate you understand their pain and can solve it.
2. Capture attention upfront – In order to stand out and be remembered, you need to open with a question, story, or picture that is relevant to your audience.
3. Stop wasting time on you - Never waste your time telling potential customers about you or your brand. 100% of your message should focus on your prospect and how your solution will cure her pain, keep her safe, or make her life better.
4. A picture is worth 1000 words – Your brain is hardwired to process visual cues and act before you have time to think things through carefully. If you want more customers sales, you need to get rid of words, graphs and statistics and demonstrate how their life will be better with your solution.
5. Simplify your message – The brain can only process and memorize 3 or 4 key points at a time. If your message is more complex than that, it simply will not be remembered.
6. Use stories to communicate your key points – Messages that cause your customers to reconnect with or rediscover strong emotions from their past and associate those with your solution, are 10x more likely to trigger the part of the brain that decides.
7. Crank up the contrast – In order to trigger a decision quickly and increase sales, you must stand out. Your customer needs to feel the difference between your solution, your competitor’s solution, doing it themselves, or doing nothing.
These 7 steps will help you increase the effectiveness of your message and reduce the amount of time and money that you spend chasing more customers and sales.When you make it easier for your prospects to see and grasp your message, they are more likely to decide and will appreciate the fact you have not wasted their time and energy on stuff that is important to you, but not them.