Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Salesman Business Plan - Put Down Your Pencil

I defy you to write anything before thinking. In fact, there isn't anything that you do that doesn't pass through your brain cells before you do it. Now some things are automatic like blinking or breathing. But the lion's share of the things you do come with forethought.Now it could be argued that some people don't spend much time in the thinking process before the actions begin. That is, they are very reactionary in their decision process. They don't spend time evaluating their actions or the related consequences. Of course we all have done that on occasions. Well, at least I have.However, if you look into the book of Proverbs and chapter two, you will see that there is a lot of consideration going on before any action is taken. And the right consideration leads to sound decisions down the road.Salesman Business Plan- Look To A MentorThe very first command says to look to a mentor, a seasoned person for guidance. Seek out a person who has "been there; done that." Look for a person who has not only earned your respect but the respect of countless others by their work ethic. Observe them closely; listen and learn.Ask this mentor for some private time and delve deeply into what makes them tick. Ask them what their motives and goals are. Ask them why they do the things they do. And above all, ask them to help you emulate their methods. Be brave and ask them to critique what or how you do things. That will give you some amazing insight into your success or failures.

Of course we are all human which means there may be some things this person does that just doesn't fit with your thinking. Perhaps this person smokes or has some other habits that you don't like or don't have. Do what comes natural: breath in the good stuff; breath out the bad stuff. In other words, as a good friend of mine says: "take the best and leave the rest.'Your goal is to get better. That means that some of the things you do must be stopped. You have to learn a different way and humble yourself enough to admit it; be strong enough to change.Salesman Business Plan- Look In The MirrorTake a critical inventory of where you are and how you do things. Ask your mentor for that same evaluation and then compare the two. And then ask your mentor to look at your list. Perhaps he missed something; perhaps you are too hard on yourself.Do you want to make the next year better than the last? Make a lasting course correction by doing these four things:Seek To Know Yourself through a self-evaluation
Seek a Mentor to guide you
Seek God, pray for answers and direction
Psalm 2

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mastering Sales: Step Outside Comfort Zones

Sales growth requires developing new skills and techniques. Developing these skills and techniques necessitates change. The single mode to change is to get out of our comfort zones. Fear of moving out of comfort zones holds many sales people prisoner causing stagnation in expertise and sales. Fear of the unknown and failure is strongly conditioned in us; it's a natural human condition. Yet, we have the ability to overcome fear.Progress involves moving forward, stepping outside what's comfortable and taking risks. The secret to success is mastering our emotions. Mastering our emotions is nothing more than courageously taking one step outside our comfort zones, then another, and then another. If necessary, take baby steps. Before we know it we are looking back and realizing how far we have come. We will be amazed at ourselves!Sure, we can live a lasting and relatively decent existence within our comfort zones, but I have never seen a master sales person satisfied with status quo. To better ourselves we must learn to dream big dreams and change any limiting mindsets. Our greatest possible triumphs pass us by when we refuse to take those steps outside our barriers.The benefits awaiting us are many. We become mentally stronger, more willing to face and overcome our fears. We begin to see fears as challenges to conquer rather than chains confining us. We experiment with different sales concepts. Our world view expands, opening our sales world to greater flexibility and out-of-the-box ideas. We become highly respected, and noticed as a leader by both sales managers and peers.

The personal success we experience in sales will heighten our sense of self-worth. As such, we will sleep better, embrace a more optimistic perspective, and experience a greater drive.Of course, fear outside our comfort zones will always be there, like a daemon lurking at our doorsteps. However, our comfort zone will grow bigger and bigger with every step. Once we get used to refusing to be trapped, our fears will no longer be an insurmountable barrier. Our sales success is dependent on how prepared we are to overcome your inner daemons and take risks to move ourselves beyond our present limits. We will experience the initial awkwardness of doing something different; that's only natural, but not limiting.There many people who will never be willing to take those steps. That puts us ahead of the majority. It is time to be strategic, making the most of the sales opportunities awaiting us. Once we settle into our bold new mindset and get started, we will begin to soar, making the most of our lives.We might be the only ones genuinely who learn to be comfy with the ambiguity involved. The quality to distinguish ourselves from our competition could heighten our organization's perception of us much faster than we ever imagined. We will find that there are more possibilities now than ever before. All we need to do is change the way we have been thinking and judging ourselves. Let's visualize our goals beyond those comfortable sales zones we have been in. Let's visualize everything about it - see it feel it and hear it, smell it and taste it! Success awaits you!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Shopping in the Digital Age and ZMOT

Smart devices and their allies are heralding a wave of changes in shopping by allowing the potential buyers to understand the brand or product thoroughly before stepping into a store (brick and mortar or online). Traditionally, a consumer would stroll into a store, experience the product first-hand or based on the recommendations of the salesperson and purchase the product. Today, this trend is preceded by an extensive online research that may include reading articles, user reviews or blogs and much more. This trend of the conscious and savvy consumer engaging in pre-shopping has been termed as the Zero Moment of Truth or the ZMOT, by Google.Let us understand the concept of ZMOT and contemplate its importance for businesses, as it has been proven to serve as an important ROI metric. The traditional marketing approach has been categorized under three phases, namely:- The stimulus (An advertising of any form)
- First moment of truth (When the buyer actually makes a decision to purchase the product)
- Second moment of truth (The actual customer experience of the product)Introduce a phase between the stimulus and the First moment of truth, where a consumer grabs the laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and starts learning about a product/ service he/she is thinking about trying/ buying, and that is exactly what Zero moment of truth turns out to be.This automatically leads to the question- 'How can businesses succeed with ZMOT?'Consumers today are fickle and highly demanding. With this changing behavior in shopping, consumers no longer feel the need to remain loyal to a brand and switch to others quickly if their needs are not satiated by one brand. As a result, businesses cannot afford to ignore consumers and least of all leave them dissatisfied.

We have identified four areas that businesses need to work on to ensure a satisfied and loyal consumer:Understanding the buyer - To understand a consumer's needs and research preferences, businesses need to track and analyze huge volumes of data. This can be achieved by anchoring targeted campaigns that can be measured. With customer predictive analytics coming handy, an encyclopaedia of customer shopping behavior and buying patterns can be traced.Keeping your content relevant - Content is the king of ZMOT. It has to be easily available across all forms of media of communication. This information should be available to not only customers but also for the companies, enabling them to develop relevant offerings. It not only has to be relevant but it also has to be available at the right time.Search as an important tool - At the heart of ZMOT, lies the search feature and plays an important role by leading the customer to the right information. To do this effectively, businesses must produce relevant page titles, adding related keywords and Meta tags to their website.Follow a multi-device approach - businesses should be able to deliver the same shopping experience in store and across other channels. Under such demanding conditions, businesses have no choice but to cater to the needs of consumers and provide customized options as much as possible. Only such a mindset can convert curious shoppers into buyers.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What Are the Top 5 Reasons Your Customers Are Not Buying From You?

Are You Making Profit?If you are in business and not making profit, then you are not in business. Some will simply deny they are in "Business", suggesting instead, arising out of some delusional elite self-personification, that they are providing professional services or, perhaps engaged in a "Not-for-Profit" or even charitable enterprise. Leaving aside the large conglomerates and massively high turn-over of some of the "Not-for-Profit" companies, each and all of the individuals, groups and organizations actively involved in offering, promoting, selling or receiving a "Benefit-in-Kind", in exchange for goods or services are engaged in "Business".Is Your Product in DemandIf you are engaged in business and not making profit then there are some serious issues to consider. Are you in the right market or niche area? Do you have a product to sell or service that is in demand? Do you have a unique solution to an existing problem? Are you in a position to resolve that problem for some or for many?If there is just no demand for your product or service then you have a problem. You have also a choice in the matter. You can either abandon that particular offering or you can go about creating a demand for it. A casual look around and you will readily discover the accumulation of items and novelties that we acquire because over a period we have been enticed or subliminally conditioned to develop a "Want" for such items.Mind ControlWe are continually bombarded with a range of messaging encouraging, enticing, suggesting and even demanding that we go and secure products and services, all of course in the interest of our general health and well-being. Our skin will be more radiant; our fashion-style will be more attractive; our talents will be more in demand;, our thirst or our appetites will be more fulfilled; our strength and stamina will be improved; our loved-ones will be charmed and delighted with our thoughtfulness. The promptings and temptations are incessant, they are in our ears, in our line-of-sight, they are imbedded in our sub-conscious and memories.Fit for PurposeIf we are in that game we need to be fit for the match. We need to be fit for purpose and need to understand the mind-set of the individuals, groups and communities, including our own and what it is that conditions and influences them to acquire and purchase.

It is important to understand there are two basic psychological drives. They are, "Our Needs" and, "Our Wants." Our needs might include food, medicines, a good home, a good job, a relaxing holiday to relieve stress and many more fundamental requirements for a stable, healthy and happy existence. Our "Wants" may be for a lazy life-style, high living, flashy auto or grand mansion by the beach. It might well include alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, watching TV or football etc., The point is, we frequently sacrifice necessary needs for wants. We maybe frequently spend cash on a bet on a horse-race or football match or alcohol when it was needed for something much more important but we respond to the "Want" because we are conditioned to do so.Our Basic NeedsBusiness Owners need to understand how the human shopper ticks. What it is that attracts and entices an individual to purchase. If you are in the business of providing "Needs" you must engage in driving deep-rooted signals into the subconscious mind of your prospects that they will not be able to attend that match or drive the wonderful auto or live long enough to enjoy the beach house unless they address fundamental needs. In essence you convert their perception of your product into a "Want" for them. You need a message that will compete successfully with the plethora of other distractions and impact itself on their priority list.Why Not Me?If you are a distributor of "Wants" you essentially need to distinguish your particular product from the vast range of other "Wants" and convey how it is immeasurably qualitatively different from its competitors. People will go past your offering and, (assuming no cost-difference) even pay more for the same or similar product for the following reasons;A more reliable and convenient service;They are unaware that you have what they want;Customer care is high and more personal attention;They feel more appreciated as a client or customer elsewhere;They search for "VALUE". It is the fundamental difference.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Importance of Asking Permission in Sales Calls

I talk a lot about establishing and maintaining control on sales calls - it's important for us as sales professionals to steer the conversation in such a way that we obtain the information we need to determine if the prospect is a fit for our offering - and if so, how best to position it to them. In this post, I'll be discussing one area in where a small and easily implemented adjustment can make a measurable difference in results: asking permission.Why Bother Asking Permission?On the surface, asking our prospects for permission seems like a weak play. We're temporarily forfeiting control - handing the reigns of the conversation briefly to the prospect, and giving them an out if they're really looking for one. So why do we do it? Before looking at the benefits, let's take a look at the potential drawbacks to understand why they aren't all that disastrous after all.You're giving control of the call to the prospect.Are we? Asking permission most often takes the form of a close-ended (yes or no) question to which we are fairly certain the answer will be yes. We have given the prospect control of the call in the way a McDonald's employee has given a patron control of the menu by asking if they'd "like fries with that?"You're giving the prospect an easy out!Absolutely. This concept of 'giving prospects a way out' is dated, and worth getting away from entirely. Your call should strategically incorporate ways for the prospect to get off the hook if they're not interested for two reasons:
It is a litmus test against the prospect's interest - if they are looking for ways out, you haven't done your job in piquing their interest.
The corollary is that if we are giving the prospect outs and they are not taking them, we know that they are interested - and we are subtly reinforcing that interest in our prospect's minds by forcing them to repeatedly demonstrate it!
Having addressed the apparent disadvantages, let's take a look at the benefits:We reinforce our image as a polite professional.Asking permission is the polite thing to do - and with the vast majority of prospects, being polite will go a long way in establishing trust and respect.We give the prospect the ability to provide input while restricting their ability to misdirect the conversation.No one wants to be on the receiving end of a one-sided conversation. Even if the prospect has shown that they're okay with us leading the call, we still want them to feel included in that conversation. Open-ended questions have their role as well, but a simple ask for permission can go a long way in making the prospect feel involved while keeping our grip on the wheel.We are getting the prospects to further engage in the conversation, and in our service offering by escalating the consent we seek.This is the most important benefit - closing a deal is simply the last step in a chain of escalating consent. Ultimately, we need the prospect to say "yes" when we ask for the business - it therefore works to our benefit to "get them in the habit" of responding in the affirmative before we go for that close. Asking snaps the prospect's attention back where you want it, and makes them feel more invested in the call. Subtly - subconsciously, even - they think to themselves "Well, if I weren't interested I could have just said 'no', so I should pay attention." Asking for the business should ideally always be framed in a context of prior consent. We start by asking their permission to pitch them - to show them our website, do a live demo, send them a proposal, call them back at a specific date, and ultimately - we ask for their permission to get working for them.To illustrate these benefits, I'm going to run through a couple examples of situations where a salesperson might ask for permission, and highlight how it benefits them:Opening The CallRep: Hi, John - my name is Bill with XYZ Company - I'm reaching out because I took a look at your website, and believe I can help improve its lead generation capabilities.Prospect: Thanks, but I haven't got time for this right now.Rep: I certainly understand, John - would it be okay if I took two minutes to briefly explain what we can do for you? If it sounds interesting we can schedule a follow-up call, and otherwise I'll leave you alone.

Prospect: Sure. Two minutes. Shoot.It would have been easy here to just blow through the "I'm busy call me later" objection and just start pitching anyway. But then, you're not being very polite, are you? You also have no idea whether the prospect is listening to you, or if they're mentally checking out to return to whatever they were doing before you called. Finally, we're missing out on the opportunity to begin establishing "yes momentum" - at the end of the day, if the prospect stands firm and doesn't give you two minutes, you've lost nothing - you can still call them back later (maybe they were really busy), or cross them off your list. There's virtually no down-side.Segueing into DemoRep: John, are you in front of a computer?John: I am.Rep: What I'd like to do, John, is take you to a website we've worked on for a client of mine. He's in your industry, and I think it will give you a more concrete idea of what exactly we can do for you. Does that sound fair?John: Sure - what's the site?Again, it would be easy to just ask if they're in front of a computer and, if they are, direct them to the site - but we would be missing a great opportunity to ask permission. We make ourselves look polite - we're not forcing anything on the prospect - merely suggesting a course of action that will allow them to better-evaluate our service. Again, if the prospect turns down your request, it's not because you didn't bulldog them - it's because you hadn't done enough work building interest on the front-end of the call before you attempted your segue (or maybe they just have legitimate time constraints, in which case they should be willing and eager to arrange a follow-up call). Either way, you are getting them to lean in - to further engage, and admit to you (and to themselves) that yes, they are interested in seeing a live demo. Subtle, but powerful.The CloseJohn: Well, this all looks great - what are the next steps?Rep: Glad to hear it John - how about I run a few packages past you, and you can tell me which one makes the most sense - work for you?John: Sure thing - shoot.This is just one example of a way to work permission into our close. Here we can see our intrepid hero has opted for a multiple choice close (a form of closed-ended closing question in which we present the prospect with a series of options to choose from - none of which are "no thanks", or "give me some time".) It's a powerful close by itself, but adding an ask for permission is the perfect complement. One of the problems with closed-ended closing tools is that we can make the prospect feel boxed in - they get cagey, and even though everything lines up, and they want to buy, they put up last-minute walls for that reason. In this case, we've side-stepped that concern by giving them an out. We've said, "Hey, Prospect - I'd like to multiple choice close you. Is that okay?" And they have acquiesced. BOOM! That's power. We're also slicing the close up into more digestible chunks that will be easier for the client to swallow - "Yes, it sounds good." "Yes, I want to work with you." "Yes, I'd like to hear your options and choose one." By escalating the consent we ask for slowly, we warm the prospects up more and decrease the likelihood of scaring them off by asking for the business.These are just a few examples, but there are many more ways in which asking permission can be worked into your sales calls. As with any tool, it should be sprinkled throughout the presentation so as not to sound forced or scripted, but it's an effective litmus test of the prospect's interest, and it helps bring us closer to the close with minimal risk of rejection. Do you ask for permission in your calls? What are some of the questions you like to ask, and why? Any comments or questions are welcome in the section below - and as always, if you've found this information useful, please share it with anyone else who might enjoy it as well!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Don't Fall For That Custom Business Card Discount Trick

When you order top quality custom discount business cards printing services online you should save money but it doesn't always work that way. Printed marketing promotions can be expensive so it best to shop around for the best value. Looking for the lowest price might be a big mistake and that's why savvy entrepreneurs look for the best value.Here's why, retail prices with a big discounts on custom business cards printing are often stripped of all the features most customers want. For example, business cards that suck-you-in with a low price may offer a 50 or 60% discount for a business card that's printed on 14Pt. card stock, one side only. Printing on both sides is extra; UV or matte coating is extra, up grading to a heavier stock is extra. So 1,000 business cards that's printed on one side without coating retails for $68.81 has a 60% discount and sells for $27.52. If you want to print your card on both sides the price jumps to $ 35.30, for UV coating on both sides the retail price is $ 110.32, which is very expensive for standard business cards. With the discount the card is $ 44.13. A thicker 16Pt. card upgrade retails for $ 141.25 and with the discount sell for $ 56.50, and that's higher than most business card prices online.Another custom business card printing service online offers 1,000 cards with free printing on the backside on 14 Pt. card stock with a free upgrade to 16 Pt. The price includes free a choice of UV or matte aqueous coating on both sides for a total of $36. Which is the better value?

Lot of companies use discount marketing strategies to win unsuspecting customers. Anybody that has every bought a new car rarely pays the advertised price. The discount price is the teaser that gets you into the showroom. As you go through the sales process, you are told about all the goodies that make the car look and perform better. Your thought is for just a little more so you could have a more impressive ride. You tell yourself how good it will make you feel and how friends will envy you. The salesman uses your ego to raise his commission and now you are paying more than you expected.I saw the same thing in my weekly grocery discount flyer. I always buy select beef, which in quality is better than choice but not as expensive as prime. When I look at what I think is the discounted meat, I noticed in very small print that it is not really a discount. The low discount price is for choice, the cheapest grade of beef.If you are looking for value, then be sure to search a little deeper online for the best price for what you really want. After you've added up all the little things that will make your custom business cards the best marketing tool for you and your business, it is the best price. The answer should be yes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Go With Your Gut - Everybody Else Does!

What do we mean when we use those words? What do we mean when we say we are going to go with our gut on an issue or decision? I often ask this question in my seminars and I get a variety of answers. When we go with our gut we make an emotional decision - we do what "feels right".People make over 2,400 decisions a day. For MOST people ALL decisions are made with their gut and for ALL people MOST decisions are made with their gut. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is in fact, a completely necessary thing. You could not logically analyze every decision on what shirt to wear, what to say to the person in the elevator, what box of cereal to pull off the shelf. There simply isn't the time in the day. People who lose the ability to make emotional "gut level" decisions (through a traumatic brain injury) are typically frozen into inaction. They lose the ability to function as human beings. It just isn't possible to make all our daily decisions in a cerebral way. All but a tiny fraction of our daily decisions are made based upon what "feels" right.I'll bet that if you look back, you will find that important decisions - like who to marry or what career path to take were made with your gut too - they were made based on an internal "feeling" that it was the right call. Even if we look at current important business decisions, even if we lay all the data out before us, even if we plan to make a completely, clinically logical call, the final decision will almost always be made based on what feels right. The data we assemble most often serves to validate and reinforce decisions we have already made "with our gut."As business leaders, sales people and supervisors, we all know how to "prove a point" - we all know how to "present a logical case". Unfortunately, whether or not we have "proven that we are right" has very little to do with whether people will routinely "see things our way". You can be right - they can be wrong - you know it, they know it... and they still do business with someone else, they still oppose your position at work, they still don't "buy in" to your way of thinking. You can "prove" until you are blue in the face - people will still make decisions with their gut. You simply cannot prove people out of the way that they feel.

The emotional center of your brain - your amygdala, influences decisions by assimilating your entire life experience, in a matter of milliseconds - using a series of short cuts, and then by presenting you with its conclusion in the form of a feeling. Something either feels right or wrong. Your amygdala is more likely to accept the input of someone who is "liked". It reciprocates to people who have provided some form of value in the past. It seeks readily available benchmarks for current proposals (it rarely assesses the objective value of current proposals). It seeks to be consistent with that which has worked in the past. It recommends action when given a reason to. It uses these criteria - and a few others - to deliver assessments to you in the form of a feeling.This feeling of rightness or wrongness will almost always trump any logical assessment made by evaluating and weighing data. You simply cannot "prove" to someone that they should take an action that feels wrong to them. If however, you help them to feel good about your proposal - then your data may not even be a part of the decision making process. Your valid data on your proposal is still important - but it will be important retroactively to show others and them self that they made the right decision - with their gut.The most effective business leaders, sales people and persuaders of all types do not simply seek to "prove" their points. They learn to influence gut level decisions. Your goal should not be to simply get people to see things you way - your goal should be to have the proposal feel so right that people remember your proposal as their own idea.As a sales person or as a leader, if you would influence others to join you in your way of thinking, appeal to their amygdala - have them go with their gut. No matter how much data you throw at someone - they are going to make the decision with their gut anyway. You might as well be in charge of the process.Gower D. Talley