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

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mastering the Sales Cycle

If you are in sales you have a decision to make; should I stay in sales and make it my career, or should I leave sales and get another job?If you have decided to stay, will you be just another average agent making an average (or below average) income, or will you strive to excel at your craft?I believe that if we will pay the price to rise from being just average to above average and look to take this career to another level, then the key is mastering the sales cycle. one you understand how this cycle works you can plan a road trip to success.Mike Kaplan, author of "Secrets of a Master Closer" had this to say about understanding the sales cycle;"Before someone will own a product, he must first buy it. Before he will buy it, he has to want it. Before he will want it, he has to be aware of how it will solve his problems. To do that, the prospect has to have his attention directed to the features and benefits of the product that will solve his problem, and he won't let that happen unless he first wants his problem solved - and that won't happen until his problem is found."I would suggest to anyone serious about selling as a career to learn this paragraph well. It sums up the sales cycle. And when we strive to take detours or go in other directions our sales seem to struggle.

Before you can get to your presentation and discuss features and benefits of our products you have to establish that your prospect wants to go there. I know I have been guilty of meeting people, going right into a presentation and then wondering why it was so hard to close. Here is what I found out;1) If you don't uncover a problem in your prospect's life, your products won't be viewed as a solution.2) You must play up the problem in your prospect's life so it is foremost in your conversation. " So you said Mr. Prospect that if something unexpected happened to you, your family would need all the financial assistance they could get. Isn't that right?"3) You must directly tie the features and benefits of your product to their problem. Forget how great your product is; focus on how it solves their problem and you will have an easier time closing the sale.Learn the cycle. Master it. Then go out and make a ton of money!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

21 Mistakes Inexperienced Exhibit Booth Staff Make That Professionals Don't

Successful booth exhibits are full of personality and humming with energy to help sell products and services. As obvious as some of the listed items below may seem, too often exhibit booth staff are seen making common mistakes year after year. It certainly shows who is prepared and experienced, and who isn't.A reputable model and talent agency emphasizes basic fundamentals to models and booth staff employees who would like to challenge themselves and earn a place in the modeling business by demonstrating products, generating leads, making presentations, gathering crowds, and supplementing sales efforts of the company they represent at trade shows and events.Make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes early and never arrive late.
Never cancel a booking once accepted. Once you have taken the job, never make excuses for missing an engagement.
Plan for traffic and parking issues at the convention center; there is always traffic congestion and parking issues at the convention centers nationwide.
Bring cash for parking.
Wear comfortable shoes to walk in from your car to the convention hall, and then put your heels on (if you are wearing heels) so your feet aren't tired when you get to the booth.
Allow extra time to get your exhibitor's identification badge. There are always lines getting the badges and this can delay you.
Have your contact person's cell phone number at hand in case you can't get your badge. With today's security concerns, often models have difficulty getting their badges and must contact the client.

Always show up ready with a smile on your face along with an upbeat personality. Appear with your clothes pressed and looking professional.
Be prompt, polite, and engaging every day! For the most part, you are performing to a passing parade.
Always look freshly groomed; makeup/lipstick attractively applied, and hair trimmed and combed or brushed tastefully.
Always confirm with client on how long you have for lunch and breaks. Never leave the booth without letting the client know.
Remain engaged with the attendees. Don't stand around and talk with friends or other employees in your booth at the convention.
Never wear revealing apparel or wardrobe too tightly.
Never expose tattoos or body piercings other than one single ear piercing.
Never drink, eat, chew gum, or remove your shoes while in the booth.
Never talk or text on your cell phone in the booth. Use your cell phone on your break.
Never drink alcoholic beverages onsite or during contracted work hours.
Never give your phone or contact information out to the client or to others.
Always refer business back to the agency who booked you.
Be prepared. Ask the client as much in advance as possible about the product you are representing and learn as much as you need to so that you can talk intelligently with customers entering the booth.
Learn names of key people that you will refer visitors to that can close the sale.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

C-Level Selling: What's in Your Solution Portfolio?

You sell products, services or both. But buyers don't want things or services. What they really want are solutions to problems (stating it negatively) or desired results (stating it positively.) These solutions and desired results can sound abstract or intuitive when initially talking, but they are very poignant and constantly sought after.Your Solution PortfolioYour solution portfolio is the array of benefits you offer - not features or services. You can't show pictures of them. It's hard to guarantee them, but it's what people want. And to make it more difficult, different people want different benefits even in the same company and/or department.Let's say you sell software. Well, what does this software offer - speed of record keeping, information for decision making, algorithms to calculate and predict events, etc. No! This is not your offering. Your offering is more sales, better quality, more profits, more market share, motivated workers, more throughput, etc. - desired results. Notice I didn't say cost savings, less downtime, fewer mistakes, etc. That's because these are negatives. C-level executives don't warm to negatives.Get rid of the term Value Proposition. It's dated, overused and limiting. Yet, sales people and marketers love to charge with it - like it's some kind of net that can capture anyone's and everyone's attention.You provide a portfolio of value propositions, but the only value that's of interest to a C-Level or a manager or an operator is what each individual values.Now if you're calling on lower levels - managers, supervisors, operator/users then these people don't really warm to the business offerings. They are focused on doing their jobs and are looking for solutions to help them. But even then, speed of record keeping and information for decision making is not what they buy. They buy what those two features do for them - quicker responses to the boss, better decisions and forecasts,... , happier bosses, recognition, excited workers, etc.

And here's the catch. If these managers have to seek capital authorizations, budget approval or purchase order sign-off to buy, then you the seller and these managers have to focus on the business aspects of your solution portfolio for the C-levels and Profit-Center Leaders.So your offering is not what your stuff is, or features it has, or what it does. It is what your stuff does for someone - personally. What benefits does it offer this person?This difference may sound trivial, yet it is profound. A light bulb provides light and light allows someone to function in the dark, get where s/he wants to go uninjured, or read for entertainment or education, or see the people s/he's with. So, one is not selling a light bulb or even light, but rather one or all of those benefits light can offer that someoneMake It PersonalNow that someone is a very important factor. Everyone has his or her own desires or problems. The best approach to capture interest and engage anyone is to discuss the specific wants of the individual. And the only way to do that is to have each person tell you (speak the words) what that desire or problem is. The biggest mistake is to assume everyone in the same company or realm thinks alike. The group may have common goals, but each has his priority and spin. Ignore this and you will appeal to some and bore others.So to prepare for anyone and everyone, write all the solutions and results your products and service provide, categorized to the job responsibilities that you'll encounter, from C-levels to receptionists. Keep it on you for all sales calls. Vinyl coat it and review it before each sales call. Then when you're with a buyer, lead with a question to see if the person is interested in attaining one of the benefits that just so happens to be in your portfolio. If not, select another until you hit one. Then, let the discussion begin.And now I invite you to learn more.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Marketing Procrastination Is Sales Avoidance in Disguise

Are you still working on your website? Or marketing copy? Or designing a new service offering? Or deciding on what to charge?Whatever it is you are still working on in your marketing, do you understand the real reason it's not done?I can only tell you because I am guilty of it as well. As the saying goes, "if you can spot it, you've got it."Marketing procrastination is sales avoidance in disguise.Maybe it is a skillset issue. If you've never really had solid training in sales, the face to face moment of truth can be really scary. A lot safer to churn on marketing copy, or your logo, or your packaging, or whatever.But even people with good sales skills find themselves in this situation. I even find myself here from time to time until I jog myself out of it.Here's what's going on:Imagine you decided to open up a hamburger restaurant to sell your special secret-recipe hamburgers.But for months you delayed in getting your menu printed so your store couldn't open.The cost? Months of lost potential sales and mounting expenses while your store is not able to take orders.The upside? You protect yourself from the worst case scenario in the moment of truth: people hate your hamburgers.This risk is always present in business. Even product ideas that seem great fail because the customer doesn't actually want what you are selling. I've seen it happen many times.But when the business is YOU -- that risk touches very close to home -- right in your heart and soul.

So we avoid sales to protect ourselves from the possibility of rejection of our business -- which is a deep expression of our gifts and talents and who we really are.The specific mechanism at work is that your subconscious mind is protecting you from the fear of rejection or failure.Your subconscious mind has one job and that is to keep you safe. It does not want you to get hurt.This self-protective mechanism is very strong.The subconscious mind is also very sneaky, even insidious, in that it will create a seemingly rational story to convince you that your marketing just needs a few more tweaks.The unfortunate consequence here, however, is that by not being engaged in sales activity, you won't reach your ultimate goals.Imagine I could wave my magic wand and voila!, your website is done perfectly right now. (Or your logo, or copy, or whatever it is you are procrastinating on.)Then what would happen?You would have to actually talk with prospective clients.And you are afraid to do it.I get it. I've been there.If your marketing is not done, what is really going on is sales avoidance in disguise.If you are not actively in the game, offering your services on a daily basis, then this dynamic is at play.So knowing this dynamic, make the decision to get a mentor who can keep you in the game.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How to Prospect Without Cold Calling

A Customer is someone who buys from you - once. A Friend is someone who buys from you more than once. And an Advocate is a customer who buys repeatedly from you and sends you referrals. And referrals are your best source of new business.The process of converting suspects to prospects, prospects to customers, customers to friends and friends to advocates is called the sales pipeline, sales cycle or sales funnel. View prospecting as an integral part of your sales pipeline. Make friends with marketing. It is their job to generate leads. However, you must also do your own prospecting.Generate your own leads through speaking at industry events, conducting a webinar, doing your own email blast, asking your best customers for referrals, writing a newsletter or blog, engaging suspects in a conversation on social media and cold calling. Experiment to see which combination works best for you. Remember to coordinate with marketing so that your prospects hear you as one voice.Start a conversation with prospects on Twitter, LinkedIn or other sites. Your immediate objective is to generate interest, not to inform the customer of your products' features. Set goals for yourself to trigger the self-fulfilling prophecy phenomenon. Increase your prospecting not out of fear, not in a panicky, impulsive flurry of phone calls, but in a confident, methodical way.

Set aside at least an hour a day for prospecting. Segment your accounts by grouping them according to geography, industry or size. Aim for 50 - 75 phone calls a day. Expect to reach 6-8 qualified prospects a day. You goal is to make appointments with 50%, or 4 prospects and close 25% of those. For most industries, there are similar sales ratios to work with. Stay in touch with prospects over a long sales cycle through web conferences that update customers on industry news, product changes, certification issues, pricing changes or promotions.Reach out to new people every single day - no matter what. No one ever gets too successful to prospect. It's quite the opposite; daily commitment to prospecting is what makes long term success possible. Begin to create a sense of urgency as you prospect. Momentum and a sense of urgency are necessary conditions for closing sales, and it starts with your first contact with your prospect. Remember that your goal for the initial phone call is to get an appointment. In most cases you need to be face-to-face with your prospect to make a consultative sale.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sales Negotiation Tip: The Most Toys Wins

Achieving a win/win negotiation can be difficult, even for the most seasoned sales pro. Follow our tips in your next negotiation and you and your client are sure to both come out winners!"She (or he) who dies with the most toys, wins!"Have you heard that said, somewhere? Whether said in fun or seriously, the sentence conveys a delighted "It's all about satisfying me!"Applying the idea to negotiations, we might say, "S/he who develops the most options, wins"...... and it's all about "satisfying US" - finding creative paths to satisfying ourselves AND our negotiating partners. Win/win.Negotiation resolves differences that remain at the end of sales processes. We trade 'things of value' to reach conclusions. When there is only one issue on the table, usually price, there's no negotiation. It's a haggle, typically with both sides moving toward the middle between them. If there are multiple items of value on the table, the parties can bargain or trade some issues against others, say, a reduction in nominal interest rate in return for commitment of deposit balances, in order to reach a conclusion.We may see even more interesting and valuable options if we have explored our clients' situations broadly and listened carefully.

For example, suppose that, during the course of several discussions about a potential loan, we hear the customer's challenges with competitive pricing pressures, billing and collections, contracting with customers or vendors, dealing with legal fees, making investment decisions, developing a junior manager in the company, dealing with an aging board member, and considering preliminary ideas about retirement.On the surface, few of those items related directly to the terms and conditions for a loan. However, faced with a gap between 'bid and asked' on loan terms, there may be 'other things of value we could do' to help a company or its owners with cash flow or other challenges that would help grease the skids on the loan discussion, move conversation forward, and enable bank and customer to come to agreement.S/he who develops the most options and tradeoffs has the best chance of reaching agreement!Action Item: When planning negotiations, list all of the customers' needs, wants, and challenges you've heard during conversations to that point. Assign value to them (high, medium, low) for the customer and from your own perspective. Look for options to address them or use them as "tradeoffs" when working toward solution.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Is a Blog Good for Business?

Like so many questions, the answer to this one is: "Well, that depends." A blog can be a boon to business or it can be a money and time-sucking bust. So how to know if a blog will be good for your business? Start by answering the following questions:Do I have the time and money to invest in a blog? A blog is a long-term marketing proposition. If you or an employee likes to write - or you have the resources to hire a blog writer - that's great: Put a check in the "yes" column. Plan to post once or twice a week for at least 3 months before evaluating the project's success. Make time each week to chime in on other blogs and to market your blog on social media. It takes time to build blog-love.Do I have resources to create and host my blog? While blogging doesn't have to be expensive, you'll need to choose a host and set up your site, which definitely takes time and often takes financial resources. If you are able to host your blog on your company website, that's ideal. If not, Google "best blogging platforms" and start researching. Word Press, Blogger, TypePad, SquareSpace, and Tumblr are popular blogging platforms.What will my blog look like? The most popular blogs are visually appealing, easy to read, and include interesting visuals. If you're not great with graphics, be prepared to hire a designer to design your blog and create a visual or two... or three. If you have the visuals under control, put another check in the "yes" column.

What will I blog about? My best advice is to speak to your customers. Answer questions you hear most frequently, post product and service reviews, talk about what's new and exciting in your field, provide helpful how-tos... you get the idea. If blog post titles are firing in your mind, that's a good sign and another check in the "yes" column.Am I patient? Blogging is like a marathon; slow and steady wins the race. Yes? No? Be honest when you can answer this question. Blogging is lots of things, but it's not a magic bullet.Am I social? There are many ways to get visitors to your blog, but posting on social media sites is one of the best. If you're social - or if you have a solid plan to get readers - you're on the right track.These are the primary considerations before deciding whether or not a blog is for you. If you've answered yes to most of the questions above and believe you have what it takes to start and build a blog, give yourself a pat on the back. There's no doubt about it: A well written, visually appealing blog has the power to shoot your business to the top of the search results.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to Charge What You're Worth and Get It: Part 2 of 6 - Understanding Your Value (Continued)

In the previous article, I wrote about the importance of understanding your value to enable you to charge what you're worth and focussed on your expertise. In this article, I'll discuss the two other key aspects of understanding your value which are the client's need and your general self-worth.Because you don't really understand your value, you probably set your fees based on what other people in your market charge. Perhaps you've heard that you should never be the cheapest or the most expensive in your market, so you set your fees somewhere between the two extremes. However, to really appreciate the value of the work you do, you also have to understand your clients' needs.To do this, ask the client quality, open questions to find out what the problem is.Open questions are questions that can't be answered with a simple one-word answer and begin with words like 'what', 'where', 'when', 'how', 'who' or 'why'. When you ask these questions, let the client answer without interruptions, prompting or leading. Asking questions where they can only answer yes or no, will not give you the information you need.The purpose of this is to establish what "pain" the client is experiencing and how extreme that pain is. The greater the pain, the more likely they are to use your services and pay you what you're worth. Of course the reverse is also true.People use service professionals because they have a problem that they need solving. You need to find out what solving the problem will be worth to them and what will the problem cost them if it's not resolved.One of my clients, an accountant, charges his clients £175 an hour. Before he started working with me, he did a lot of work for clients that he never charged them for. Every time he did work for nothing, it was costing him £175 an hour. Obviously, that wasn't good for business. It wasn't good for him either because like many professional service providers, he had lots of internal conflict going on because he knew he should be charging for all the additional work.This is what was happening. Clients, who were paying a fixed fee for their compliance work would telephone him and ask for something extra to be done, for example cast his eye over their cash flow forecast and let them know his thoughts. He would say yes before he'd even had a chance to think, or if he did think, it went along the lines of the following: "Well I'm not actually doing any work (I.e. not creating the numbers), so I can't really charge them." And so he would do it for nothing. Even though it may have only taken half an hour or an hour to do, what would that extra piece of work be worth to the client? Would it save them from making a mistake that could cost them thousands or help them get funding they would otherwise be refused? You'll have to read the next article to find out the rest of this true story.

Exercise: Take 5-10 minutes and ask yourself the following question: What's the value I bring to my clients?The third aspect to understanding your value is self-worth. Self-worth is at the heart of everything we do and it drives our behaviour. As human beings we are motivated by pleasure or by pain. So we're either moving towards pleasure or moving away from pain.To put this into a business context, if you don't feel 100% worthy, how can you possibly charge what you're really worth? Your perception of what you're worth is too low.If someone tells you to raise your fees, it makes you feel uncomfortable. When you feel uncomfortable, what do you do? You move away from whatever is causing that discomfort. So if the idea of charging more for your work makes you feel uncomfortable, you do whatever you can to get away from that thought or feeling. You stick with the fees that you're currently charging even if that means not getting paid what you deserve for the work you do.And, if you don't value yourself, how can you value your clients? How can you treat your clients well, if you don't know how to treat yourself in the right way? The more you value yourself and the more you charge what you're worth, the more likely you are to create value for your clients.In fact, one client recently told me that since he raised his fees, he feels happier in himself and his creativity and performance are even better than they were before. This means that not only does the client get even greater value but he also has greater job satisfaction - a win/win situation.A quick way to change any negative thoughts you may have about your value into positive ones is to make a conscious effort to say positive affirmations throughout your day. Affirmations are statements that can condition your subconscious mind and help you to change harmful behaviours or accomplish goals, and they can also help undo the damage caused by negative thoughts; those things which we repeatedly tell ourselves (or which others repeatedly tell us) that contribute to a negative perception of something.Here's a great affirmation to help change your thinking about yourself and the work you do for your clients which you can start using immediately.
"I'm now creating fantastic value for my clients and in doing so am easily charging what my work is worth." Copy this affirmation onto a piece of paper and repeat it throughout your day.In the next article, I'm going to be discussing the communicating your value to clients part of the formula with more useful tips to implement.

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Secrets for Better Custom Lead Generation

Every company operates differently, and each requires a specialized custom lead generation plan. Some businesses are focused on how to increase the number of leads they receive. Others are looking to create methods to glean better quality leads. With such an important role in a company growth plan, it is important to put time and effort into how leads are generated and how they are handled internally through the marketing funnel. Some approaches are traditional and have been part of better business practices for years. Others take advantage of new technology and developing trends. A company interested in maximizing their conversion levels will take a serious look at their current processes, in order to be certain there is not redundancy, lost opportunities, and wasted staff time.1. Well designed Web siteOne of the most powerful modern tools for custom lead generation is a well designed website. Rather than focusing on what needs to be sold or promoted by the company, the design should be centered around presenting solutions to the ideal customer. The most important information should be at the top of the page, so the user does not have to scroll or click through cluttered content for what they need. It is also wise for a site to be easily viewed on multiple devices, such as laptops, tablets, and phones. Working to optimize success with search results is also a must.2. Create shareable contentOne of the least expensive and easiest ways to increase custom lead generation is by utilizing social media. While it does take time and effort to maintain accounts with various services, most are free and only require staff time to run. Time spent on them can be reduced by creating content calendars, so the information is ready and only needs to be posted and updated periodically. The goal is to create posted information that is original, relevant, and to the point. That allows for a greater likelihood of being shared and promoted by followers, which is where social media really pays off with the time put into it.

3. Carefully crafted calls to actionIf a customer takes the time to seek a solution for their problem and lands on a company Web site, it is the perfect opportunity to convert them to a customer. They are looking for information and are ready and willing to do business. They should have clear instructions on what to do in order take the next step. All tools used to direct people to more information should be easy to see and understand. Buttons, hyper links, icons, and phone numbers should be arranged on the page in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, but also easy to find. If a lead gets frustrated, they will simply find another website for another company that is easier to use.4. Help current customers promote youThose happy customers that are currently being served can be a company's most effective marketing tool. Their word of mouth promotion to friends and acquaintance is a custom lead generation that not only gets an audience with new leads, but also sets up that introduction with a personal recommendation. They build trust and make a potential lead convert to a customer more quickly. Of course, the burden is always on the company to maintain a high quality of service and keep the business of new customers.5. AnalyticsHaving the most sophisticated marketing plan doesn't do a company much good unless there are methods in place to collect, read, and analyze information for the results. By using analytics, the marketing mix can be assessed and updated as needed. With the right marketing dashboards or programs, the various channels used by any company can be monitored for their strengths and weaknesses. That allows a highly personalized and effective approach to custom lead generation.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing and Promoting Scientific, Legal or Technical Products or Services

Have you ever been listening to the radio or watching television when an egghead or brainiac starts talking about the great new technology product that his/her company has developed? Did you keep listening, or did the featured egghead get bogged down in too many complicated scientific big words and concepts making you change the channel as fast as possible. You know you may have just missed out on finding out about a great new product or service that could save you thousands of dollars or extend your life by 100 years. But you and the thousands of other potential customers and clients will never know because you changed the channel.It is important to recognise that scientists, lawyers, engineers and technologists don't always make the best spokesperson for the promotion of a product in the media. A good technical communicator will be able to cut through jargon and explain in simple terms, concepts important to promoting a product. Many science and technology companies send a press release before they prepare their strategy for an effective media campaign. There are 3 main mistakes that companies make when approaching the media to promote a new scientific or technical product or service.Mistake #1 - Using complicated Scientific Jargon and conceptsMistake #2 - Failing to prepare a technical sales communication planMistake #3 - Using only one media channel to promote the product or serviceAvoid Using Complicated Scientific Jargon & ConceptsYour potential customer or client needs to be able to understand quickly what the product or service is, and how it will benefit them. No point showing up for your media opportunity and losing everyone on your first sentence. For example, if you are a company who has developed a new water filter for use in the home, don't lead with technical information like this;

"The new water micro-filtration system has a 1 micron sediment pre-filter in a superfine polypropylene cartridge and a 0.4 micron carbon super block, superior post-filter with heavy metal removal technology."While this technical description might be important to the functioning of the product or create a point of difference, this information does not help your target customer make an informed choice about the product and how it relates to them. Instead, you should use uncomplicated words and refer to concepts which are aimed towards your target customer's level of understanding. For example;"Our new in-home water filter will give you unlimited clean and clear water guarding your family against all kinds of bacterial and chemical contamination."To provide the best chance that media will pick up your press release, you need to be able to share information about the benefits of filtering your water and provide some education for viewers or listeners about common contaminants in unfiltered water.Effective Technical Communication relies on PlanningBefore you can address the last two mistakes that I have listed, it is essential to identify a good technical communicator either inside or outside your company. Engaging a specialist technical communications consultant is both efficient and cost effective. Your specialist consultant can also assist in other areas by working with you to prepare an integrated scientific and technical sales, communication and promotions plan and provide training and education for your scientists on effective communication techniques for writing and the media.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Debriefing Your Sales Calls

Regardless of how well you performed on the last appointment, you can always do better, right? Unfortunately many sales and management 'professionals' lull themselves into believing that there is absolutely nothing they could do, stop doing, or do differently that would improve results.Let's face it. The majority of us came from average stock. The difference for some, however, is that at some point in their life and career they "got it." They got the fact that they will never be perfect and therefore continually strive to be greater. Those that "get it" can admit there is room for improvement, are open, and as a result continue to grow. The less successful individuals will never get there because they think they're already there. They've closed themselves off to opportunities to find out just how much better they actually could be. They fail to maximize their true potential.If you're still reading this, then you're likely someone that "get's it."For those that "get it," here's a twenty question checklist you can use to debrief your sales calls, because you believe that regardless of how well you performed on the last appointment, you can always do better.1. Did I establish an up-front contract with the buyer, specifying mutual expectations and an agenda?2. Was I mentally and physically prepared?

3. Was I focused on my goals for the call?4. Was I more concerned about ensuring success or preventing failure?5. Did I accurately assess the screens through which the buyer views the world?6. Did I accurately assess the communication style of the buyer?7. Did I adapt my communication style to the buyer's screens and communication style?8. Did I probe for the buyer's pain?9. Did I accurately summarize the buyer's pain to the buyer's satisfaction?10. Did the buyer commit to recognizing the financial cost of his or her pain?11. Did I accurately probe for information regarding the buyer's budget?12. Did I find out exactly when, where, how, and who would make the buying decision?13. Did I focus my presentation on the buyer's pain?14. Did I translate all the jargon in my presentation?15. Did I obtain a definitive yes or no answer from the buyer?16. If the answer was no, did I probe reasons?17. Did I follow the 70-30 rule? Did I ask questions and lead the buyer to speak most (70%) of the time?18. Did I maintain my composure and respond to stress with questions and reverses?19. Did I lead by letting the buyer control the process?20. What did I learn about this particular call that will help me in my next call?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gatekeepers: 10 Tips for More Sales Lead Conversations

How many times did your sales team try to contact a company they felt would be an ideal client for X,Y,Z reasons, but were never able to get past the receptionist? Even though some sales people seem to have found the secret or magic formula to get to speak to the relevant contact, the majority of sales calls usually end up being stopped after a few seconds.However, in the hustle and bustle of today's busy business markets how to handle Gatekeepers has never been more paramount to the success of any sales executive in their bid to persuade a prospect to purchase their goods and/or services.Very well trained in answering "we do not accept these types of calls", "We have a no-name policy" or "Mr XXXX is in a meeting at the moment", the commonly known Gatekeeper - the business receptionist (but also the floor staff or the. PA) - very often does not even let you get the chance to explain the purpose of your call. These mechanisms have been created by front of house representatives in order to defend against a large number of sales calls queuing up at their door. However this defense mechanism can be overcome using a few techniques.1. Always remain polite
One of the most important things to remember is that he/she is like any other individual and deserves the same amount of respect and politeness as that of the CEO. By showing this type of gesture it can often be the primary reason for the gatekeeper for transferring you to whom you wish to contact. It also keeps your sanity intact as you will realise that the gatekeeper simply is doing his/her job - and does it well!2. Be confident
Using a confident tone in your voice whilst on the phone helps give the impression of an authority figure, which in turn allows for the gatekeeper to undertake the impression that you are of relative importance, thus it is more likely that he/she will transfer you to the relevant contact.3. Build a rapport
Always listen to the gatekeeper and build rapport with him/her as the gatekeeper has more information regarding the company than you do, can direct you to the correct contact or a specific department that would deal with you enquiry. Along with directing you, the gatekeeper can also be a great source of information regarding the current situation of the company.4. Use the first name
Most receptionists will answer the phone with their name so use this to your advantage. Everyone likes being called by their name so just by saying "Hi Anne, how are you today", you have already broken the ice.

5. Stay cool
Always remember to remain calm on the phone whilst talking to a gatekeeper as anger or nervousness will transfer through the line in your voice. You must remember that the gatekeeper is not the relevant party you need to speak to and for that reason always remember you should not be selling to him/her, but conversing to be directed to the relevant contact.6. Be assertive
Act almost as if you already know the contact you are looking to speak to. If you have the name of the prospect you require, say "can you put me through to John Doe please". It can give the impression that a relationship between you and the relevant party exists and thus the gatekeeper may be more likely to transfer your call through.7. Don't give too much information to the gatekeeper
When trying to get through to the decision maker, give information sparingly as if you provide too much information about the purpose of the call this will give the gatekeeper an opportunity to say "no we wouldn't be interested in that". Simply try and get across the benefit that your product/service will bring to the company.8. Try a different way to get through to the decision maker
Very often the 'No Names Policy' starts and ends with the gatekeeper and therefore it may be better to use the following approach: "Can you please transfer me to the sales/HR department?" When you get through to either of these departments you are more likely to get the name of the person you need to speak with.9. Sometimes it's the simple things that work best
If the gatekeeper is not willing to let you in after a few attempts, try calling at lunch time when the gatekeeper is probably at lunch. If the phone is answered by someone else, you are more likely to be given the name of the person you need to speak with and be transferred.10. Have a plan B
If the gatekeeper is still reluctant to put you through, it can be a good idea to ask to be transferred to the relevant party's voicemail.Hopefully, these tips will help your sales team maximise their chances to speak to the relevant decision makers in your top prospect accounts. It is up to you now to try these tips and find the ones that suit best your personal style.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Use a Meeting Agenda for Your Sales Calls

It never ceases to amaze me how often a salesperson will come back from meeting a client, with absolutely no information of value.Yes it is great that they are building a relationship with the client.Yes it is great that the client always considers our company when looking for services from companies like ours, but it is tough to be prepared for their future needs if we don't know what they are going to look like.It is also tough to improve our service if we don't understand what they like and dislike, from companies like ours.It is hard to build professional credibility if all that is discussed is personal in nature."If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you." Zig ZiglarThere are many wins that can come from a client meeting, and one way to improve your chances of getting some of those wins is by using a meeting agenda.Here are just 5 reasons why salespeople should use a meeting agenda:

It builds credibility with the client, showing professionalism and an effort at ringing value.

Creating an agenda forces you to think about the meeting and what you and the client should achieve from it.

Everybody is busy, so sharing the agenda with your client and asking if they want to add to it will ensure the client's needs are met too. This can even be done ahead of time.

The agenda can help keep the meeting on time... again being respectful of the client and sowing professional courtesy.

The most important reason is to ensure you capture everything that you need during the meeting, and deliver any necessary messages.
What kind of things might be on an agenda?Obviously there are many things depending upon your business, the nature of your relationship with this client and the objectives of this particular meeting. Here are some thoughts:

An understanding of how your company is viewed by the client. What they like and don't like. You could even extend that to include competitors. (If you know what they like and dislike about the top supplier and others then you can adjust accordingly).

An understanding of future needs, upcoming projects, areas of pain.

An understanding of current needs... which should lead to an ask for the business.

An understanding of the organizational structure, such that you can improve your ability to service the client. This might lead into discussion of other contacts you might meet.

An opportunity for the client to add to the agenda.

A discussion about timing of the next meeting, try to get commitment before leaving this meeting to ease the timing of a next meeting.

Deliver any messages that need to be delivered. This could be anything.

An understanding about how well the client knows your company's offerings, and clarification if necessary.

You might drop off a marketing item... which should be on the agenda. (It is not atypical for the salesperson to leave the meeting and discover that nice company pen still in their pocket!

Confirmation of the time available. If it is a 30 minute meeting then plan accordingly. I like to sit my watch in front of me and make sure the meeting ends on time.
There will likely be some personal discussion to build rapport and trust. This typically would not be on the agenda, but might be a way to get started before launching into the agenda.Clients may be reticent to meet with you if they think you will waste their time. An agenda will demonstrate your understanding that their time is precious."You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it." Charles Robert Buxton

Monday, October 13, 2014

Advertising Sales Reps - Increase ROI and Secure Your Renewal!

I worked in media for over 15 years. Whether it was 1999 or 2014 one of the biggest buzz phrases was always "ROI" or Return on Investment. It's one of the hardest things to ensure as a media rep or track as a business owner. But whether it was your media campaign that failed or not your customer will blame you and you will have that dreaded conversation upon renewal of the campaign "I didn't get the return I expected, I won't be investing with you again".There are so many factors that play a role in this. You did your part. You worked in-house to create a catchy campaign, you used the right products to reach the desired target audience, and you actually had a client that was ready to invest in the right quantity and length of time before judging success. To the best of your knowledge, it should have worked. Did your ad campaign truly fail or was it something beyond your control? So, what happens when you create a fantastic ad campaign, people are talking about it, there is a buzz in the marketplace, foot traffic increases at an amazing rate... but the bottom line doesn't?As media consultants we know that most advertising customers have no idea how to track the success of their ad campaigns. They make snap judgments about why their advertising didn't work and it is a lot easier to blame you than except that it could be something internal that is the problem.No matter how good the ad campaign, all of your hard work will go down the toilet (along with your renewal) if you drive customers to their doorstep but they don't buy. So, what else can you do to help improve your renewal rate? Develop a relationship with a quality janitorial service. You worked so hard to create an image with the advertising so it is a must that the client provides the same professional image in-house. Little things count, fingerprints on the entry door or receptionist counter, dusty chairs, dull floors, unpleasant smells. Potential customers notice these things, and believe it or not, make buying or service decisions on how comfortable they will be when they visit their environment.

So how do you go about making this connection for your customer? You have been to their business establishment. Pay attention to the professionalism, cleanliness, odd smells etc.. If you notice that they could use help with their overall image wait until you have built a good relationship and established yourself as a consultant. Wait until your ad contract is signed. You can simply give them some tips in preparation for the increase in foot traffic, one included, to have a detailed cleaning done prior to the start of the campaign (not that you noticed that they need it of course, just as a suggestion that you make to all of your clients). If they don't already have a relationship, suggest your cleaner of choice. The cleaner of your choice should be one that is focused on improving the image of their clients.An ad campaign cannot be successful if your client does not clean up in-house first. Be sure your client invests in professional routine janitorial services or at the very least a bi-monthly detailed cleaning prior to the start of your campaign to increase your potential for a renewal.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Salespeople Control Their Own Destiny

The typical salesperson's income is very much tied to their productivity... usually by way of commission.The company they work for will have expectations about how much business a salesperson should generate and this will typically be reflected by the quota assigned to the salesperson.Expectations will be based upon tenure, experience, sales territory and other factors.At the end of the day a salesperson needs to meet and exceed their quota in order to reach their expected income.This is a "good news", "bad news" scenario, dependent upon your comfort level with a commissioned income:a. Bad news for many people who view a commissioned income as risky, undesirable and stressful.b. Good news for the "true salespeople" because it represents opportunity, the ability to earn "even more" by exceeding their quota, and it is all in their own hands.Which type of salesperson are you?The "glass half full" stressed out, "I don't know if I can do this" kind of salesperson; orThe "I am going to blow the doors off" kind of salesperson.Whichever type of salesperson you are, the way to meet and exceed your quota is:1. Have a plan.2. Execute on that plan.3. Revise your plan regularly.4. Work hard AND work smart.Your plan at its most basic level should identify:

What client accounts will generate enough business to meet your target?

Who, within those accounts you need to meet in order to get the business.

You will need enough meetings, such that you get enough opportunities, in order that based on your "close ratio" you will get enough closes to meet your "stretch goal".

As the days and weeks go by you should be adding to your prospect lists so that when certain prospects disappoint, you will have others in the pipeline to take their place.

You will need to adjust on the fly.

You will need to generate, and maintain, enough "momentum" within your target accounts to meet your goals.

You will need to be pragmatic about your choices. Are you talking to buyers? Can you get the opportunities? Can you be successful? Can it happen quickly enough?

Some accounts will prove to be good future accounts and they will need some of your attention, but your primary focus needs to be on accounts that will help you now.
Sales is a fantastic profession that gives you total control of your own destiny. Your actions will decide how much money you earn, how much success you enjoy and what the future will hold for you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to Charge What You're Worth and Get It: Part 3 of 6 - Communicating Your Value

In my previous two articles, I looked at the understanding your value part of my formula (UV + CV + CA = CW) for charging what you're worth. So now let's take a look at communicating the value to your prospective clients; the CV part of the equation. I have a sneaky feeling that this is often omitted for a number of reasons. Perhaps because the service provider is unaware of the importance of doing this or because he/she makes assumptions about the prospective client's understanding of the value or because he's/she's just not comfortable doing it.However, this is a key step in the process of charging appropriately. By ensuring that the client knows exactly what they'll be getting for their money, they're much more likely to do business with you and pay you accordingly. So it's not just important to discover your clients' problems and how extreme they are, as mentioned in the previous article, it's also vital to ensure that the client understands just how badly they want to have the problem resolved. To do this, you need to reflect both the value of your service and their pain back to them.If you read my previous article, you'll probably remember that I told a story about an engineer. A manufacturing company rang and asked him to come in and look at a machine which had broken down. He had the foresight to ask the company what the cost of non-production was and they said £100,000 a day. Armed with this information, the engineer went in to take a look at the faulty machine. As he walked around it, he prodded, poked and listened to it and then, after just a few minutes, he hit the machine hard with a hammer. Bang. Hey presto, the machine immediately burst into life. He then stayed around for a few minutes, until he was satisfied that the machine was running sweet and as soon as he was happy that all was well, he packed up his things and went on his merry way. Because he understood his value, even though it had only taken him 10 minutes, he sent an invoice into the Company for £2,000.00. The company wrote back and asked for a breakdown of the invoice. He said:For hitting the machine with the hammer £ 50.00
For knowing where to hit the machine £1,950.00
Total £2,000.00What he could have said when he asked them how much it would cost them a day for the machine to not be working was something like "£100,000 a day - that's an awful lot of money isn't it?" Thus reflecting the pain back to the client. Then he could have added, "so if your machine normally operates for 8 hours a day, that means you're losing a massive £12,500 an hour and even if your machine is running for 24 hours a day, that's still costing you £4,166 an hour." Then he could have said, "that's still an awful lot of money isn't it?" Thus reinforcing again. Then he could have asked what problems they would have if the machine was not working for any length of time. If the client couldn't think of any answers, he could have said "presumably that means that your customers' orders will be delayed. So you will need to alter transport arrangements. No doubt it will also mean invoicing is delayed and that may affect cash flow. Also staff would not have any work to do and you would then probably need to pay them overtime to catch up with the backlog." Anyway, you get my drift. So his parting shot could have been, "so if I can solve this problem quickly for you that will be hugely beneficial won't it?" If he had done this, they would have been grateful to him for solving the problem so quickly that when he presented his bill, it's unlikely they would have queried it. In fact, potentially, £2,000 was a very small sum to pay in the circumstances and perhaps he could have actually charged more!

Remember the focus is on the value you're creating, not how much you're charging or how long the job takes. It's about a shift from charging for time to charging for solutions.One quick tip to help you get more comfortable with this process is to keep your mind focussed on the fact that you want to help this client. So rather than thinking, what can I get from them, you're thinking what can I give them? So if you adopt this strategy, it is very likely that you will feel more positive, confident and comfortable, and you will convert more prospects into clients as a result. To me, it's very important to be sure that I can genuinely help and, If I don't feel that I can help a particular business owner, then I just won't take that client on. By making sure that I can provide real value and produce tangible results, it ensures that not only do I remain true to myself but also my clients trust me implicitly. In the next article, we'll take a look at how else you can communicate your value to your clients.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Do We Need Point of Sale Literature?

Has the end of collateral or point of sale literature really arrived, or is there still a need and a purpose in spending countless pounds on designing, creating and producing these products?Of course the pure "marketeer" will always say there is a need and benefit from having them; however the other side of the argument would say it's a waste of paper everything goes out in emails as PDFs now.I believe the tough and annoying answer here is it depends - on the purpose and the outcome that you are looking for. Recently I was handed a folder from an organisation that support businesses with grant funding and access to finance schemes, it was almost a cut and paste of their website in print format. Who is this for?A great speaker friend of mine Dr Graeme Codrington specialises in understanding generational and demographic dynamics, specifically how we work with and communicate with the different generations that are in the work place today. Consider this in relation to Point of sales literature - would a "Y" generation buyer within an organisation read a folder full of paperwork and bumf or would they scan the information they are looking for on their smart phone device. By contrast a "baby boomer" buyer is more likely to want to take their time flicking through a physical document giving them the options they require. Sweeping generalisation I know but it does highlight the issue.When I first broke into the speaking world I had a number of products professionally created and designed that did, even if I say it myself, look very professional and of high quality, setting me apart. In the guise of being honest several years later when clearing through my office a large percentage of these brochures landed in the recycling bin, unused and out of date.

I firmly believe that we all have to be far more strategic in our approach to how we use collateral, who it is designed for specifically and how long it will last. Much of our promotional material will be sent electronically so having vast stocks of paper is less necessary when compared to previous years.Contrast this to the occasional personalised mail shot that you receive now which is directed at you, landing in your office and not looking like a plastic covered flyer - are you going to skim it, read it or just bin it? Chances are at worst you'll notice it and maybe if it is relevant to you on the day it arrives you'll digest it.Promotional material is here to stay, the market has matured now and every piece of material created has to be specifically targeted, shorter runs and very focused - the days of a random spray and pray approach to blanket marketing techniques are gone. We need to be strategic and professional in our use of collateral and POS if we want to stand out in a highly competitive and challenging global market place.As an aside how much out of date, old brochures and bumf have you got horded in boxes hidden from site but you know they are still there - Bin them!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Close Enterprise Deals As a B2B SaaS Startup Without in-House Salespeople

Before we begin talking about the who, what, when, let's spend some time talking about why this is even possible today to compete with sales professionals from established B2B SaaS firms. Two words: Empowered Buyers.Let me explain that a bit so we are on the same page at the outset. There was a time (it still exists in certain countries and industries) when salespeople were able to manipulate buyers into buying, make false promises they had no intention of keeping, create a mystery around and about a product, play around with pricing, used psychology and 'techniques' to sell. This is no longer the case, buyers know these tricks, have more information about the product, the company why, even the salesperson. Internet and social media has played a role here but more importantly, I believe, buyers have evolved with the sellers.So, in essence, if you are a salesperson (or a non-sales person) who does not use any of these tactics, you stand a better chance at wins neck to neck.Secondly, let's talk about the chances of a startup vs an established vendor. If you are new, you are a third generation B2B SaaS firm. Although will have more integrations available, more consultants in the market, a richer partner ecosystem and 1000s of customer case studies, the fact is I and a vast majority of salespeople don't want to use it. It's just old. It's not made for the salesperson. It needs implementation and maintenance.. So are there pros to buying from an established vendor? sure.. Are there cons? Hell, yes, loads! To be fair to established vendors, I'd say you stand a 50:50 chance.With me so far? Great. Now we've established that, at least theoretically, it is possible to beat an established competitor without a professional salesperson on board.Let's now shift focus to the who,what, how, when.How did you know of this opportunity? I'm assuming, since you are a startup, you do not have an outbound lead generation inside sales team (yet) and that most of your leads are inbound leads from your SEO, content and email marketing initiatives. I'm also assuming that most of the time the leads are from smaller firms but every once in a while there's a USD 10k+/ year opportunity staring at you, one from a larger firm.Here are the pieces of the puzzle, I trust you to be able to make sense of it as a whole.1) The Decision Maker: Identify the decision maker. Simple as it sounds, this is by far the most tricky task on this list and the one most prone to error, but there is an easy solution. He/ she is not the most vocal of evaluators, he/she is not necessarily the person who signs the check. In larger organizations this is simply the person who is tasked with finding a solution for the problem at hand. How do you identify who this is. Identify who the person with the budget is and ask them. Use email/ LinkedIn or request a 2 minute call with them. They'll tell you who makes the call on this one. I can't think of a better analogy, so I'm using a war analogy (I do not believe there is any similarity between sales and war or even sports for that matter): You just won the most important battle in this war!2) How did it come to this? Why Change? What does the ideal solution look like? Why would they choose one vendor over another?: You would have heard this a lot: You should ask a lot of probing questions, and then listen. And it is right.. Let me tell you what kind of questions you want to ask. The difference between a conversation that we enjoy and the one that we are merely present in is this: Questions that seek information and questions that seek criterion, questions that make you think rather than seek sectors of brain with stored information. Let me give you an example:

a) What are certain things that the system should be able to do?b) What does the ideal solution look like? What will that help you achieve? How else can it be achieved?You'll need a mix of both. The idea is to have a conversation that you both get some value out of.3) Trust and Reputation: This is built over ages. As a startup you may not be able to leverage this unless you, individually, have a reputation you could use. All B2B SaaS vendors do no-contracts, monthly fees, free trial etc, so these are not game changers. Here are a few pointers that help:a) Use every interaction to build trust. Be honest.b) Commit only when you can as much as you can.c) Offer to do customer visits/ calls as against responding to their requestd) Offer to do pilot with real data even if it takes additional effort. Charge a fee if required.e) Say No or I don't know when needed, back it up/ get back when you can.4) Players:a) Champion: Usually the person who signed up/became a lead with you will be your champion within the organization. He/she found you, so it is in their interest that you do well. Empower this individual with whatever material they need, Ask to help him present or offer to present on their behalf. They'll usually know the buying process in the org and will be more than glad to share with you the real picture of how a tool like yours is bought.b) Evaluators: Evaluators generally are the people who's work-lives will be affected by this buying decision. A good leader will always make sure that the users who are to use the solution have a say in which solution was procured. Your job is to identify who these evaluators are, learn and manage their expectations and show the tool showcasing exactly what they asked for, individually if required. The idea is to know what each of them want and deliver as close to it as possible. If you are doing a proof of concept/pilot, make sure you understand what they want achieved at the end of the trial to call it success.5) Money and Negotiation: Money is generally a non-issue. I'm not a big fan of negotiation, so I believe in sharing one reasonable pricing irrespective of the buyer's budget as I think it's unfair on customers who aren't good negotiators. But take your call. There are buyers who enjoy negotiating, you do not want to disappoint them. Think of all the things you have to negotiate with, it's not just the money, it could be services, training, maintenance, support, terms.6) Risk: They like you, they like what they see in the product. Buyers will still need to know that this decision doesn't set them back by a couple of months. State all risks, real or perceived, and share how to manage them. Do get your deployment team involved with their IT teams for technical feasibility and get an A-OK there. Commit inside the contract proactively.As you'll see it's not that big of a deal. It's quite fun especially for someone who enjoys conversations. The only question is would you want to do it/would this be a good use of your time.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Octafuge Plus - A Durable and Safe Laboratory Centrifuge

Centrifuges are essential instruments for any lab as they are used to separate substances of different density or particle size in a fluid in an efficient manner. A high speed centrifugal force separates the mixtures and liquids. Buying a device equipped with advanced features is a valuable investment for any clinical or research laboratory as it can ensure precise and accurate results within minimal time. Leading lab equipment suppliers offer versatile models of this device. Octafuge Plus Centrifuge is a premium quality device that delivers quick and accurate test results.Used for testing liquids, blood and other substances in medical and clinical trials, laboratory centrifuges work on the principle of sedimentation. Their capabilities include spilting up of lipoprotein sections, steroid hormone assays, blood plasma analysis, urine analysis and exclusion of chylomicrons from bodily fluids. By increasing the speed of the rotational mass, the separation process time can be increased or reduced based on the requirements of the application.Octafuge Plus Centrifuge - FeaturesThis laboratory centrifuge can perform various centrifugal applications with precision and consistency. It comes with an 8-place tube capacity and can accommodate test tubes ranging between 3ml and 15ml. The device features an auto-off 30-minute timer with bell. Here are some of the features that make this device a safe and efficient choice for clinical laboratories:

Angled head rotorFixed speed of 3,300 rpm for blood onlyAuto-off 30-minute timer with bellMaintenance free, brushless motorBlue LED power indicator lightMaximum RCF=1,350 gThis durable medical centrifuge features a wide stance that eliminates vibration during operation. Its suction-cupped feet prevent slipping. The brushless motor (110V only) is maintenance-free and the lid port enables convenient viewing of specimens while in use.Octafuge Plus medical centrifuges are available in two different models - Octafuge Plus 110V Centrifuge and Octafuge Plus 220V Centrifuge.PurchasePurchasing the Octafuge Plus Centrifuge offers many advantages:Competitive pricingPrompt and efficient post-sales support including maintenance services by qualified techniciansConvenient payment and shipping optionsQuick deliveryIt is important to purchase your lab equipment from a trusted dealer that can offer a wide range of such products. A reliable lab equipment supplier can offer a full line of centrifuges from leading brands such as Beckman Coulter, Benchmark Scientific, LW Scientific, Sorvall and Unico. These include mini-centrifuges and high speed centrifuges. Clinics, schools, and research facilities can choose from new as well as recertified centrifuges at affordable prices.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Art of Throwing Darts and B2B Sales Forecasting

The art of throwing darts is a difficult and highly skilled talent. To stand 7 feet 9.25 inches from a target which is 12.7milimetres in diameter (the bullseye) and perfectly aim a pointed projectile so that it lands in the centre of said target takes a lot of skill, hours of practice and a finely honed technique. Now take a total amateur at darts, blindfold them, spin them around 5 times and challenge them to hit that bullseye with a single shot! The odds? It's fair to say... a very long shot! Our B2B Telemarketing company's research has indicated that for many companies B2B sales forecasting can be akin to that blindfolded amateur trying to hit the bullseye. Hitting the target can realistically be put down to an extreme dosage of luck. The more likely outcome is a wild miss with a potentially ominous outcome.Sales forecasts impact on every area of the business, having both short term and long term implications. Not only do they affect your projected revenue, they also have operational implications, purchasing implications and impact upon supply chain, marketing activities and so on. There are many unforeseen circumstances that can impact on your forecast revenue, so it is fundamentally important to implement some best practice procedures. In this article let us focus on the building blocks required to enable you to generate sales forecasts with greater accuracy.Analyse your historical sales data.The most important and relevant source of information regarding your sales forecast is your own historical data. By analysing past sales and identifying trends and patterns you will gain an understanding of your customers' purchasing characteristics and align your sales strategy accordingly. This is not an easy task by any means. There are many highly effective applications and tools in the marketplace which can assist you with this exercise.Understand your customers buying process (as opposed to your preferred selling process)Not understanding the buying process of your target audience is a common mistake made by many companies. Your sales cycle is dictated by your customers buying process and, depending on your product or service area, you can identify common milestones in the purchasing process that should be used to determine a key aspect of your sales process: how you define your sales stages.Define Specific Pipeline Stages

Each sales stage represents a step forward in your customers buying process. Do not over-complicate this process hence creating too many stages, but Be Specific. Typically between 4 and 6 key stages will suffice. Commonly used examples of these stages are 1) Exploring Needs; 2) Value Proposition; 3) Resolving Issues; 4) Final Proposal/Negotiation; 5)Closed Won/Closed Lost. A good CRM will offer you the ability to create these sales stages and manage your live opportunities in a structured manner.Identify "at risk" OpportunitiesSales which are ultimately lost can spend up to 50% longer in your sales pipeline than those which are won. This has massive implications for you if you are preparing your sales forecasts. Identifying these "at-risk" opportunities will serve as a reality check and assist you in refining your forecasts allowing for a more accurate reflection of your forecast revenue. This reverts back to building timelines around your sales stages. If an opportunity is stagnating and spending too long in any one stage it may indicate that your prospective customer has stalled and there is a risk that you could potentially lose the deal.A steady stream of qualified sales leadsLet's face it - B2B sales forecasting is a futile exercise unless you have a healthy sales pipeline from which to pull your forecast data from. A certain percentage of the deals in your pipeline will not close - FACT! The importance of having a steady stream of qualified sales leads being fed into your sales pipeline cannot be emphasised strongly enough. Outsourcing this aspect of your business to a specialist lead generation company who offer a cost effective and results oriented solution can help you achieve this. Defining your key lead qualification criteria and implementing a consistent sales lead generation process is your ultimate goal. Maintaining a healthy sales pipeline and strategically progressing these leads through your sales pipeline stages will most certainly lead to the generation of more accurate sales forecasts, which in turn, of course, will mean achieving your sales goals in a far more efficient manner.So it is time to remove the blindfold, stop spinning around in circles and focus your efforts in a strategic, structured and analytical manner. Go forth and forecast!

Monday, September 22, 2014

5 Lessons You Can Learn From Corporate Sales Training

The need for ongoing learning is why the corporate sales training industry is so large. If you want to know what kinds of things people learn when they go through these programs, let's take a look at five actionable lessons right now:Understand Your Customers' GoalsTaking the time to gain insight into your customers' goals can enable you to be significantly more effective at your job. By knowing what lifestyle and other goals someone has, you can create a sales proposition that directly appeals to them.Personalize Your Business CardSeasoned sales professionals know to never go anywhere without a handful of business cards. When you're planning to print your next batch, you may intentionally want to leave a piece of information off. Whether it's your cell number or an email address, the reason this strategy can work so well is it gives you a chance to write that information down in front of someone before handing your card to them. Completing that action is a proven way to add a very personal touch and start a new relationship off on the right foot.Birthdays MatterRemembering details like someone's birthday is an example of what separates a good salesperson from a great one. Since this is something that can now be managed by a computer program, there's really no excuse for not remembering. Just keep in mind that although there are some situations where it may make sense to offer a special deal for a customer's birthday, as a general rule of thumb, simply wishing them a great day will do more to build a beneficial ongoing relationship. The same holds true for anniversaries.

Use Umbrella QuestionsIn case you haven't previously heard this term, it refers to a question that works in any selling situation and enables you to extract additional information from the prospect you're speaking to. Tell me more and please explain further are both examples of umbrella questions. By getting in the routine of using them, you'll find that you are able to keep prospects talking and ultimately get a lot of useful information from them as a result.Create a Prospecting TimelineThe more you understand exactly how long it usually takes to close a sale, the better you'll be at optimizing your working habits. Not only can this help you create a very efficient schedule, but it's also an effective way to find bottlenecks in your process that you can then fix.