Monthly Archives: July 2015

Top 4 New Vehicles for Sales Representatives

BusinesWomanInCAr

Having a sales territory that encompasses the entire country of Canada, it’s only inevitable that I do my fair share of driving. I routinely drive quite far from my home base in my own car but I will not drive across the country.

When I fly to Western Canada for example, I always rent vehicles.  For someone who is regularly in the market for a new vehicle, this is a huge perk because not only am I exposed to so many different types of vehicles that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of but I also have the opportunity to drive them for extended periods of time.

When most of us are purchasing a vehicle, we may only spend 10 minutes giving it a test drive.  In my opinion this is not enough time considering the amount of money you will be spending nor is it sufficient for deciding whether or not the vehicle is suited to you and your needs.  If I will be spending over 1/3 of my day in a vehicle, I want to make damn sure that it is:

  1. Safe (i.e. drives well in the snow, has a sufficient number of airbags, performed well in crash tests)
  2. Comfortable
  3. Functional (i.e. has enough power outlets storage space, compartments, etc.)
  4. Affordable (both in terms of payments and fuel economy)
  5. Has Sufficient Storage Space (for literature, equipment, personal items etc.)

*Note that the above criteria are not necessarily in order of importance.

When you spend 10-20 minutes test driving a vehicle, can you be assured that that vehicle meets all of those criteria?

So, all of that being said, based on my experience driving several different types of vehicles for extended periods of time in different road conditions, this is my list of the best new cars for sales reps or other road warriors. I say ‘new’ because most companies require their sales reps to drive relatively new vehicles and therefore I will not include reliability in the criteria because new cars all come with a standard warranty.

Top 4 New Vehicles for Sales Representatives <$50,000:

***Note: I kept the figure below $50,000 because I am of the belief that if you are in sales your car should look nice, but not be too flashy and expensive. Your car is an extension of you and the company you represent.  You want to look professional, sharp, savvy but NOT flashy or cheap.

4. Toyota Rav4 AWD

Toyota-Rav4This is a solid all-round vehicle that is comfortable, affordable, roomy and drives well in the winter. The Rav4 used to be my #2 choice, however in recent years its quality and functionality has declined. Recent models performed poorly in crash tests and the handling is noticeably looser making it feel more unstable.  The other setback which applies to us road warriors is that there is only a single power outlet, so good luck if 2 of your multiple devices needs a charge!

3. Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet-Impala-2015Out of all the cars I’ve rented, I have driven these the most.  They are comfortable and very spacious which is great if you’re setting up a mobile office.  Fuel economy has improved over the years but isn’t the best in its class which can be a pain if you do a lot of driving and need to fill up every day. Although it is only a FWD, it is quite front heavy and drives very well in the snow if you have a good set of winter tires. The Impala has recently been redesigned to give it a more polished look which I find appealing. It no longer looks like you borrowed Grandpa’s car.   Overall, this is a working man’s car that functions very well and is safe.

2. Jeep Compass 4×4

2015_Jeep_CompassI never thought that I would include a Jeep on my list because of their historical poor reliability and bad reputation for being gas guzzlers, but after driving this vehicle for 3 days, I completely changed my mind.  The biggest shocker was the fuel economy.  I was pleasantly surprised to get approximately 600km on a single tank.  It was also extremely comfortable to ride in. The dash was nothing fancy, but it was functional and had multiple power sources which is essential for any mobile office!  There is a tremendous amount of storage space although the vehicle itself is quite small and handles extremely well in tight situations as well as in the snow.  The 4×4 option is a huge plus if you drive in the winter.

  1. VW Passat TDI

VWPassatTDIThis car is by far the best car for sales representatives and needless to say, that is why purchased one.  Aside from the luxury look (both interior and exterior), it is extremely comfortable, spacious and most importantly, you can’t beat the fuel economy!  As you can see in this photo below, I got 1000km (approx 621 miles) on a single tank (actually only using 54L or 14.5 gallons) without the fuel indicator warning going off.

VWDash1000km

Diesel is still cheaper than gasoline here in Canada, so that is an additional savings. The handling is far superior to any Japanese or American vehicle.  The steering is tight and solid. Although it is only a FWD, it is excellent in the snow when equipped with snow tires.

The biggest shocker about this vehicle is the price.  Even though it looks and handles like a luxury car, it is cheaper to run and maintain than a Honda Civic!

Honda Civic Sedan:  Base Price $28,500 CAD. Driving Range: I was filling up every 350km at a cost of $45-50CAD

VW Passat TDI: Base Price for Comfortline (model I have) $29,000 CAD. Driving Range: I fill up every 950km at a cost of $55-60 CAD

In a perfect world I would have a 4×4 or AWD Diesel vehicle but unfortunately, it is impossible to find one for under $55K CAD.  So in the end, I opted for the most fuel efficient “luxury-looking” vehicle that performs well enough in the winter with a good set of snow tires.

If you’re a road warrior who is in the market for a new vehicle and are looking for an unbiased opinion on different models, feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to help.

In the meantime, drive safe fellow road warriors!

Cheers,

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

Why Salespeople Are Suckers For A Good Sales Pitch

Today is National Hot dog Day here in Canada.  To most of you, this may seem like quite the random statement coming from yours truly but it reminded me of a time when I got “sold” on these giant 2 feet long sausages at a pit-stop while I was en route and it got me thinking, “Am I more easily sold than a non-salesperson?”.

Last year while I was working my way between cities in Western Canada, I stopped at a roadside  café/market for a pit-stop.  My only intent was to grab a bite to eat and use the facilities. However, somehow I walked out of there with a $36 package of 2 foot long sausages.  I had no need for such a thing at all.  I couldn’t even cook them because I was away from home and flying back the following day.

So how did a seasoned saleswoman like myself get sold on such a ridiculous purchase?

Well for starters, the guy was really cute which helped get my attention in the first place.

Secondly, he had a great story about how these sausages were prepared and how amazing they are.

Lastly, he was able to overcome all of my objections, including the fact that I couldn’t even prepare them at my hotel and would have to leave them behind.  He asked me if I had ice packs in my car (which I did) and if I did, it would be easy for me to freeze them overnight and store them with the sausages in my checked bag and bring them back across the country with me on a 5.5h flight and they would be fine for me to eat once I return home (a whole day’s trip).

As ludicrous as this idea was, I did just that.  Then when I returned home, I realized that I didn’t have the slightest clue as to how I was going to prepare them. Unfortunately, they ended up going to waste which was a complete shame given their cross-country adventure.

Why did I make such a ridiculous purchase?

Because I could appreciate this man’s sales pitch.  It was bulletproof and I would have felt bad not to give him the sale because he just did such a good job!

This isn’t the first time either.  The last time I was at a gas station and got “sold” some sort of special car wax.  This was ridiculous because I NEVER wax my car!

In speaking with other sales reps, I have discovered that I am not alone.  On average, 9 out of 10 sales reps that I have discussed this with have admitted to making purchases for something that they will never need or use simply because the salesperson pitched the product so well. 

Why are salespeople suckers for a good pitch?

1. We know how to recognize a good pitch. After all, this is what we do for a living. Consider it our specialty.  Just like if a skilled writer admired another skilled writer, they would buy their books.

2. We can empathize with them.  We know if someone is trying really hard to make a sale and experience that on a daily basis. In a perfect world, an A+ for effort would equate to an A+ for achievement but that isn’t always the case. We have been there and know the struggle, so why not be nice and make their day and give them the sale?

3. We enjoy being on the other side of the table for a change. All day we are “selling” others, so it’s refreshing to be on the other side of the table for a change.  That can also be good practice for us to remember what the experience is like for the buyer. Heck, we might even learn a new sales tactic!

I must point out that this article is focused on small purchases.  When I am making a large purchase (i.e. vehicle), I will be the most difficult client on the planet, pushing the salesperson to their absolute limit and negotiate until I get what I want or I walk.  That can be quite fun too!

If you’re in sales, I would love to hear your stories about a time when you got “sold” on some ridiculous purchase.

Until then, happy sales my friends.

 

Cheers,

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

The Price Objection: What it Really Means and How to Overcome it

Your price is too high!

In my 10 years’ experience as a B2B sales professional, I can say with confidence that any client who initially objects to your price and uses that as an excuse not to purchase your product or service simply brushing you off.

After all, saying “Your product is too expensive” is much more polite than saying “I don’t want to buy your product. Get out of my office!”

So what do you do?

For starters, do NOT be sucker and immediately drop your price.

suckers

If you simply sell based on price alone, you are an order taker. Sorry to break it to you but there is no ‘salesmanship” in giving your best price and taking an order. Any customer service agent on minimum wage answering a phone can do just that!

The most important “sales training” I have ever had is working for a company selling higher priced products at a non-negotiable price point.  Rather than focusing on price, I’m forced to focus on the quality and service that my company can deliver.  To properly relay that information and translate that into a sale, requires work and that my friends, is salesmanship.

Clients have to realize that they can’t have everything and by everything I mean the best product at the best price that is delivered with the best service.  At best, most companies can offer 2 out of the 3.

projectTriangle

 

Let’s walk through the process through a general scenario.

EXAMPLE SCENARIO:

 You’re in front of a client for the first time, introducing your company and product portfolio. You’ve established what products your client uses from your competitor and you proceed to inform them that you offer the same or a similar product/service.  Prematurely, your client interrupts you and asks you your price.  When you give them your price, they tell you what you already know, “You’re price is too high.”

There it is.  You could interpret this in one of two ways:

  1. They are right. I’m not getting this sale.  I can’t beat the price, so I better move on. 

OR

2.   Game on! Now the real selling begins!

I hope none of you sided with option 1.  If you did, you either need more training or should consider changing careers.

So, game on!

Here is What You Should Do to Overcome the Price Objection:

1. Be Firm: Don’t negotiate your price. Others pay full price, so why should this client be an exception? If you have other clients in the area that this client would happen to be competing with who happen to be using your product of focus, make that known. If those direct competitors of your client aren’t using your product yet, make it known that you will be calling on them afterwards,  All the more reason that “you” don’t really need the business as much as they think you do and therefore have no need to budge on price.  Reverse psychology can go a long way.

2. Elaborate: Focus on other features and benefits that your company can provide (i.e. better service, higher quality).

3. Be Creative. If you are in your clients’ environment, look around for clues that might give them reasons to use a product from your portfolio that they may never thought of using before. Sometimes I’ve been in a clinic and see a list of things they are looking for. Simply pointing that out and mentioning that I can offer one of those items has gotten me the sale many times.  On the other hand, if you are meeting outside of their working environment be sure to ask them more questions about their business while in the back of your mind searching for products or services you can offer them.  Once this dialogue is open, you’d be surprised at how open most people are.

4. Ask For the Sale: As you scan through all of the potential products your client could purchase and they demonstrate interest, be sure to ask for the sale.

5. Be Persistent: This is where I have the most fun. Once you’ve gotten them to order one product, why not ask for more? Laugh and have fun with it.  Your client knows that you are there to sell them something so they expect it. If they haven’t ordered anything yet, keep asking! I have no shame in asking for the sale multiple times in a single call. I think my record was asking for a sale 10 times in one call.  After striking out 9 times, when I asked the 10th time, I finally got the “Ok, you got the sale!”.  I realize full well that he may have done that to get me out of his office (another brush off, yes I know!), but regardless I did get the sale, was welcomed back and continue to get more business.

Always keep in mind that if you can get at least one of your products or services in the door, that leaves that door open for you to come back and acquire more business, so don’t give up at the slightest objection.

Experiment: If you are used to selling on price alone, for one day or one week conduct all of your sales calls as if you are not allowed to budge on price.  I would love to hear your results!

Happy sales my friends!

Cheers,

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

Parallels Between The Sales and Dating Processes

Businessman-and-woman-LPAre you a sales representative or business owner who has dealt with a client with whom you thought was loyal to your company only to discover one day that they have suddenly been using your competitor(s) without your knowledge?

I recently had this experience where a client of mine had been using my company’s products exclusively for some time and I only recently discovered that they had started to buy some of the same products from my direct competitor.  My first gut reaction was to think, “Why did they go behind my back and do such a thing without even consulting me?” If they had a problem with my company’s product or service, why didn’t they call me and give me a chance to resolve that issue?”

That’s when it dawned on me… this was a familiar feeling.  It was as though I was being “cheated on” as one may be in a romantic relationship. Although the circumstances and the relationships (client vs romantic interest) are entirely different, that feeling was the same.   Further analyzing this odd parallel in more depth, I have come to the conclusion that there are some very unique similarities in the sales process and the dating process that do not exist in our other relationships (i.e. friendship).

Sure you might be tempted to think that yours truly is just some crazy, over analytical chick who is projecting her dating experiences on her working relationships (and you may be right), but before you judge, read the processes below and draw your own conclusion.

Stages of Relationship Development in Sales and Dating:

  1. Prospecting: “The Cold Call/ Pick-up Line”

In both sales and dating, we must seek out potential customers or potential mates.

Sales:  We seek out customers who we think would buy our product or service either from an established database, book of business or referral.  From there we may conduct a cold call to introduce ourselves and our company to ascertain if there may be potential for a business relationship.

Dating: We search for mates either from a database in the case of online dating or in person through our network of friends or daily interactions.   If we see someone that appeals to us whether it is based on initial appearance, intelligence or other factors, we may initiate contact by means of flirting (essentially cold calling) to introduce ourselves and decide if there may be a match.

In both cases, if we see potential, we proceed to step #2.

  1. Qualifying: “Probing Questions on The First Meeting/Date”

Upon establishing initial contact in a business setting or on a first date, we must decide if the other party has the potential to be a partner in business or dating respectively.  We achieve this by asking a multitude of questions and getting to know more about the other party to determine if there is a fit.

Sales: We meet with our potential client and ask them a series of “probing questions” to determine if they could or would buy our product/service.  If they appear to be a good potential customer, we might give them a product sample or demo.

Dating: We go on a first date with a person of interest and ask each other “probing” questions in order to get to learn more about each other.  If the dialogue is suitable, we may try a first kiss, which is essentially sampling.

Upon qualifying the party of interest, we either come to the conclusion that we either have the potential to work together or not.  If so, then we proceed to step #3.  If not, then back to step #1.

  1. Closing: “Closing The Sale/ Sealing The Deal”

This is quite self explanatory. If you don’t get this one, well I might suggest that you avoid getting involved in either process.

Sales: If you don’t want this to be a one-time only sale, proceed to step #4

Dating: If you’re looking for a relationship and not a one night stand, also proceed to step #4.

  1. Maintenance: “The Follow-up/Relationship Development Phase”

In order to achieve growth, relationships need work and maintenance.

Sales: After closing the sale, it is essential to do proper follow-up in order to ensure that your client is satisfied with your product or service so that they continue to do business with you.  By following up and keeping in touch regularly, you may find that your client needed additional support or training.  It also keeps your foot in the door so that you can continue to supply those products or services to your client as well as others from your portfolio.

Dating: Once you have “sealed the deal” and have decided that you may want to do that again and again and… ok well maybe all the time, it is essential to “follow-up” with your person of interest. Make arrangements to get together again to repeat steps #2 and #3, and watch the relationship flourish.

  1. The “Exclusivity” Talk

When the relationship is going exceptionally well, both parties are happy, satisfied and don’t have a need to look further to have those needs fulfilled, it’s time to have the “Exclusivity Talk”.

Sales: If you have an excellent relationship with your client and they are using almost all of your products and services except for a few which they are still using from your competitor, it may be time to ask for exclusivity.  After all, if they like everything your company has to offer so far, why should they bother to use your competitor if they can get a similar product from you? If they agree, then great, happy sales! If not, then you are perpetually trapped in Stage #4 and will be required to work hard to maintain your existing sales to ensure that you don’t lose your piece of the pie.

Dating: Presuming both of you have an excellent relationship and are both on the same page about moving forward into a relationship, then go for it and make it exclusiveIf not, then you’re in more a “Friends with Benefits zone of Stage #4 and will have to accept the continuous competition with other mates.

  1. The Future: Make it or Break it?

Is the relationship sustainable over time? Only time will tell and there are 3 most probable outcomes as follows:

A: The “Live Happily Ever After”

Ideally, we would like to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship that will last our lifetime or that of our career that requires minimal effort to maintain.

B: The “Break-Up”

Even though everything may be going perfectly well, a situation may arise which will result in the termination of the relationship.  In business, we may be forced to fire a client or our client may fire us because of poor service.  I’m not going to bother elaborating on why people break off romantic relationships.  That topic in itself is worthy of several books.

C: The “Friend Zone”

In business or in romantic relationships, we may find that although we have a good relationship, it may just not be as great as we thought it might be and worth 100% of our time and efforts.  I refer to this as “The Friend Zone” because regardless of the relationship, if it’s not headed towards the “Happily Ever After”, then we have to accept it for what it is and make the best of it and enjoy the piece of the pie that we do have.

So, do you still think I’m crazy?

I’d love to hear your feedback on this topic.

In the meantime, happy sales and best of luck in love!

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0

Air Canada Carry-on Baggage Enforcement: Great But Not 100% Effective

In late May of this year, Air Canada announced that they will begin to enforce the carry-on baggage allowance at major airports across Canada. Last week, I travelled on Air Canada and experienced this process first hand.  I must say, I was quite impressed.

At check-in, Air Canada had several staff members approaching everyone at check-in to assess their carry-on baggage, measuring it if required and then affixing a “Carry-On Approved” sticker as shown.

CarryOnApprovedCloseup

Upon my arrival at the gate, I was pleasantly surprised to see how the majority of travellers had appropriately sized carry-on luggage.

AppropriateCarryOn

This was a dramatic improvement over all of my previous flying experiences, especially after Air Canada introduced their policy to charge a $25 fee for the first checked bag. When they implemented that policy, almost everyone had 3 bags and usually one of them was oversized.  This is extremely aggravating for us business travelers who generally speaking have appropriately sized carry-on that cannot be checked.  I used to dread the boarding process, looking at all of the other travelers with all of their huge bags and stressing out over if I will have room for mine.  To get around this, I would always book a seat near the rear of the aircraft so that I would board first and if the overhead bins above my seat were already full, I could stow my briefcase in any bin in front of my seat. 

In spite of Air Canada’s efforts to enforce their carry-on policy, there were a handful of passengers who slipped through the cracks like this lady in the photo below.

CarryOnCow

From her bag tags, I could see she was a frequent traveler so there is no excuse.  While boarding the aircraft in single file, she even had the nerve to push me aside and bud in front of me!  Now that most certainly isn’t frequent flyer etiquette!

After boarding was complete, the flight attendants announced that the overhead bins were full and asked some passengers to volunteer checking their bags.  I’m still not sure exactly how this happened since >90% of the passengers had appropriate carry-on.  However, I suppose all it takes are a few Carry-on Cows like that woman to slip through the cracks and disrupt the system.  In the end our flight was delayed approximately 20 minutes as the flight attendants tried to find passengers who were willing to check their bags.

So overall, the enforcement process was great not but entirely effective.  In my opinion, I think that it would be much more effective if at the security checkpoint, all carry-on bags should be double-checked to make sure that they have the “Carry-On Approved” tag and passengers who have more than 2 bags, should not be permitted to go through security.

Safe travels my friends and don’t be shy to speak-up to those Carry-on Cows!

TSW

Please follow and like The Travelling Saleswoman:
0