Tuesday, August 26, 2014

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It: How to Sell More With Maxims

The language we use on sales calls, and in our day-to-day lives has a strong effect on the ways other people perceive and respond to us. It's never just what we're saying, but how we phrase it that determines how others will react. This is hardly a novel idea - the study of rhetoric dates back thousands of years - there have been thousands of books, and endless amounts of discussion on the matter. This idea as a whole is far too big for me to tackle in a single blog post (or even a single lifetime), so today I'll be focusing on a very narrow slice of it: the role of maxims in persuasion.Maxims are short, pithy phrases which are widely used and recognized as "common truths" in a given society. It is important to note that, insofar as we are principally concerned with their persuasive power, maxims do not always translate across languages or cultures. Even if their meaning can be understood and conveyed, the true strength of maxims comes from their familiarity. To understand why this is important to their application, you need to know how and why they should be used. Briefly stated, maxims are used to establish authority, and induce consent.When we use a maxim on a call, we are employing a very low-risk tool which helps nurture the prospect's perception of us as a trusted advisor. When used in appropriate context and worked seamlessly into the dialogue (more on that later), these short sayings can pack a big punch. Maxims are regarded with almost axiomatic reverence - they are universal, self-evident truths which everyone knows. Furthermore, they are often lessons we learn at a very young age - whether it's through a collection of Aesop's Fables, or a lecture from a parent or mentor, chances are strong that our first exposure to these aphorisms was in our developing years. By invoking them at the right time on a call, not only do we position ourselves as mouthpieces of wisdom, we can make the prospect think back to the time they first heard it. The psychological shift here is small, but powerful - not only have we framed ourselves as the authority, but we've also guided the prospect to think back on their youth - a time when they were more inexperienced, bold, and open to suggestion and guidance - all of which are traits we want to encourage and nurture in the sales cycle.The second (and more consistent) benefit to proper use of maxims is that it elicits a 'yes.' As I mentioned before, these sayings are regarded as universal truths - a prospect might disagree with you, or the value proposition you're presenting, but they can't disagree with a maxim. Once again, there's psychological benefit here - a lot of call centres preach the importance of establishing a 'yes culture'. They encourage you to ask a lot of closed-ended questions throughout the call, to which the answer is very likely to be 'yes', so that when you ask for the business, you have that momentum working in your favour. This is effective in short-cycle, transactional sales, but not always preferable in more nuanced, consultative ones. However, when we are looking to secure some kind of commitment from the prospect (whether it's closure of a sale, agreeing to a follow-up meeting, or referring us to another decision maker or influencer), it's never a bad idea to try building some 'yes momentum' - and maxims are a great place to start.

Finally, I just want to leave you guys with a few examples of maxims I use often, and the situations in which they might come up, to give you an idea for how you can take this idea and run with it on your own."Nothing ventured, nothing gained"This is a personal favourite of mine, both inside and outside of sales calls. This is great to drop whenever a prospect comments on the fact that you're asking him to take a risk, or leap of faith.Prospect: Hang on now, you're asking me to commit to investing $3,500 in a service I've never tried before?Sales Rep: Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?Prospect: I suppose that's true.Sales Rep: Look, I know how it sounds - but all I'm asking for is the chance to prove myself to you - give me the benefit of the doubt once, and I promise you I will never have to ask for it again."An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"This is a great one to drop whenever you're trying to position your product or service offering as a preventative measure against some undesirable situation.Sales Rep: Can I interest you a protective case to go with the phone?Prospect: No, it comes under warranty anyway, right?Sales Rep: It does, 30 day retailer's and 6 month manufacturer's, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, don't you think?Prospect: Well, let me take a look at the cases..."Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater"There are applications for this I haven't thought of, I'm sure - but I use it in situations where I'm suggesting a prospect re-allocate a large chunk of their budget, but don't want to make it seem like I think everything they're doing right now is fruitless.Prospect: So you're suggesting I just stop everything I'm doing and go with you?Sales Rep: Of course not - I think you've got a couple really great programs now, and I'd never tell you to stop doing something that was working for you - we don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, do we?Prospect: No, definitely not. See, I'm getting decent traffic from AdWords, but my SEO Campaign is bringing me nothing...These examples only scratch the surface of what's possible with maxims - the keys to keep in mind when thinking of your own:

Maxims should always be used to reinforce a point you're trying to make. Don't just throw them around willy-nilly - make sure you're using them in the right spots.

Wherever possible, try to phrase them as questions, which are always more powerful than statements.

Always keep cultural relevance in mind. The more obscure a maxim, the less useful it is - remember, the strength comes from familiarity.
So with that in mind, I'm eager to hear some of the ideas you guys come up with - do you use maxims on sales calls as well? After reading through this, have you thought of any you think might work for you? Please leave any thoughts or questions in the comments below, and if you found this post useful, please share it with others who might think so, too.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to Obtain the Most From Your Sales Lead

In-order to keep more new sales leads pouring in, organizations must build a strong lead generation program; moreover it's quite essential for sales organizations to build a solid pipeline of opportunities by constantly managing their sales leads. Sales teams can keep on expanding the value of each and every new sales lead that comes down, with the right lead fostering tactics. Below listed are a few ways to obtain more value from your existing leads,1. Follow up with leads with the usage of content marketing: Often lead nurturing is well aggregated with the smart and effective use of content marketing resources, which make reliability with clients and present information to them (clients) in a supportive, instructional way. For instance- In order to build good relationships with client's and address their issues, the sales team can send free case studies, white papers, web demonstrations and blog articles that are related to the client's requirements and queries. You can also send your client's some great content on the latest industry trend or business intelligence that might not be relevant to the instant sales conversation, but might prove out to be beneficial for your client's later in the long run.2. Qualify and grade your leads: Constantly leads need to be assessed, categorized and ranked in- order, because this is the most important principles of lead management. For instance - on the basis of your team's conversations with the prospects, you can categorize and list your leads in order of vital requirement. Simultaneously you must also find out how to ask the precise questions to drag out the client's deeper concerns, as qualifying B2B sales leads is about building a healthy relationship with your clients, so that you can talk with that person several times in the long run and find out some other opportunities for sales through your lead qualification queries.

3. Make it steady: Leads following up should be a steady process. There are several solutions apart from phone calls on the market that automates several sales leads follow-up activity. Like for example, e-mail newsletter (even if clients are not willing to buy, your sales team can ask them to subscribe in to your newsletter), through which your sales team can instruct the client and help them with valuable information's.Leads can be generated by many different marketing campaigns or can have many different sources. You can give them certificates to their favorite store, tickets to a play, a trip to a spa, or a small percentage of the signing fee.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What Do You Do When the Client Doesn't Care About Your Unique Selling Proposition?

Times are becoming tougher with a squeeze on profit margins through reverse bidding; clients' dictating what they will pay which in some cases is below cost, payment terms extended beyond industry norms and adversarial negotiations used to force a lower cost. A client recently told me there is "a new breed of procurement manager who is totally focussed on cost and has a take it or leave it attitude." "They don't care about past long term relationships and any unique selling proposition (USP)."There are volumes of articles written about the virtues of using a USP but what do you do when a client doesn't need or value your USP? What do you do when confronted with any of the above selling situations?There are 3 things to be aware of in order to change a current situation or at least minimise its effects on sales and profit margins:1. Price sensitive levels1.1) Price Hypersensitive
Cost to these clients is everything. They tend to be adversarial, take their time to pay your account and can be high maintenance. Their attitude toward their suppliers is there is no difference between any product and service it's only about the cost. When confronted with this type of client you need to make an informed business decision and ask yourself whether you really want their business. Are you better off prospecting for new business opportunities that can result in higher profit margins?1.2) Price sensitive
These clients are prepared to pay more provided the value is greater than the additional cost. How much more? This would depend on the client, industry and the product or service.1.3) Price indifference
Don't be fooled by the heading. These clients are astute. Other factors are more important to them such as their long term relationship with you, your personalised service and the ease of doing business with your company. These clients will often refer you to potential clients and act as your advocate in a new sales opportunity.

2. Client Impact
Research by Corporate Visions highlighted the impact on clients when buying a product or service. These are:• Product & Service Delivery 19%
• Value to Price Ratio 9%
• Company Brand & Impact 19%
• Field Interactions 53%The latter refers to face to face contact with a salesperson and it has greater impact than the other 3 factors combined.3. Sales Competency Level
There are 6 Sales Competency Levels. Level 1 is the Beginner and Level 6 the Professional. The mean average across industries is Level 3. Imagine being a client buying products and services and you interview salespeople every day. So how would you justify buying from one salesperson from another? Like the majority - cost! At Level 4 however, the client experiences a noticeable difference and responds accordingly. Level 6 are known to consistently achieve higher sales and greater margins than the rest of the salesforce.We have been doing it tough but for some of us unnecessarily so. Differentiation or the USP is usually found in a company's brand or its products and services. But we work in a very competitive sales environment so from a client's perspective it's all so similar. We can however, vastly improve our situation by developing a higher level of sales competence which in itself does create differentiation and possibly a sustainable one.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why Lab Professionals Prefer to Buy Lab Equipment Online

The ultimate outcome of laboratory procedures depends on the type of laboratory equipment used. Leading manufacturers offer high performance lab devices with advanced features that can ensure accurate and timely test results. Purchasing lab equipment is expensive and so laboratories look for the best purchase deals. Online purchase ensures greater flexibility along with lower costs. When compared with physical retail stores, online stores hardly have overhead and operating costs and so can offer products at much more competitive prices.Locating a Reliable Store is ImportantConvenience and flexibility of purchase are the main factors that encourage busy lab professionals to opt for an online store. It allows them to purchase from a wide range of products with superior features after comparing prices of the various models. The entire purchase process can be completed very easily and quickly.There are different online stores offering various types of laboratory instruments like chemistry analyzers, centrifuges, autoclaves, blood gas analyzers, microscopes and more. Locating a reliable store is crucial in order to enjoy the benefits of purchasing quality products at competitive prices. Browse online to identify reliable dealers. Make a detailed comparison of each dealer with regard to the products offered, features, technical specifications, warranty period and cost before you choose one.Purchasing Laboratory Equipment OnlineVast inventory of products - Reliable lab equipment stores offers a wide inventory of products with advanced features and technical specifications. You can compare different models of the equipment with respect to their features, cost, and specifications and finally select one that meets your specific needs.

Competitive pricing - Established online stores will offer lab instruments at competitive prices. They can provide quality devices from leading manufacturers like Beckman Coulter, Awareness Technology, Siemens, Alfa Wassermann and Abbott Diagnostics at the best rates. They may also offer discounts and special offers on certain selected models. This is a great option for clinical labs with budget constraints.Recertified lab equipment - Popular dealers offer recertified models of lab instruments. This is a viable option for laboratories with budget constraints. Recertified devices are pre-used devices that have been refurbished to work as well the new product. They are then put up for sale at a price that is lower than the original.Shipping cost - Consider the shipping cost of lab devices while purchasing it online. Make sure the dealer chosen has clear-cut shipping policy that ensures product delivery in time to meet your needs.Post-sales support - Partnering with a reliable store ensures professional guidance for installation, maintenance and repair, which enhances lab efficiency and productivity.Supply of reagents and consumables - Choose an online store that can supply the necessary reagents, consumables and accessories for uninterrupted lab operations.Locating a reliable laboratory equipment store is vital to enjoy all these benefits of online purchase.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

3 More Subject Lines to Get Your Emails Opened

In this business of sales prospecting and trying to find new clients we really need to have expertise in the skill of creating great email subject lines. These are also effective alternatives to cold calling as they can help get you in the door without pestering your prospect and you get to add value at the same time by giving them some free information that entices them to want to learn more.We already discussed in a previous article that including your prospects' company name in the Subject Line of your emails should increase your opening rate by about 50%. Since we as prospectors are slowly becoming 'mini-marketers' of our own let's take a look at what has been working for others in the discipline of email marketing. There is a difference sometimes when doing email marketing in a B2C forum, so for the purposes of this article we will stick to what works for B2B. These can be used for your first communication with a new prospect. They can also be great for your own Drip Marketing/Demand Generation activities with a new prospect who isn't ready to buy but have given you permission to stay in touch with them.With that being said let's go through some Subject Lines that work:#1) Solving (Problem) for (Prospect Company Name) Once and for AllHere are some examples of this:
Solving Security Threats for ABC Inc Once and For All
Solving the Common Pitfalls for ABC's Acquisitions Once and for All

This one is good to use for a fear-based campaign where you are removing the fear or whatever the thorn is in the side of your prospect.These next two are a little more positive in that they are good for taking the mystery out of certain things that might be hot topics, but confusing for your prospects:#2) The Quickest Way to (Your Solution)Some examples:
The Quickest Way to Cut Your Communications Costs
The Quickest Way to AsiaPac Expansion
#3) Your (Your Service) Questions Answered
Some Examples:
Your Foreign Taxation Questions Answered
Your Marketing Video Strategy Questions Answered
Each one of these has proven effective but they will of course vary depending on your individual situation and service that you are selling. So go ahead and experiment with these. If you find one isn't working as well as you would like then try another one. They key to being a successful prospector and mini-marketer is to keep experimenting to see what works so you have a predictable method to use regularly and will produce predictable and regular results.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mastering Your Client's Decision Making Process

Through all the years I've been reading about and researching what makes a successful entrepreneur, gaining experience working with clients plus facing my own challenges head on, I finally realized this - people make decisions based on one of two things: one is moving away from pain, and the other is moving towards what makes them happy. If there is one thing I've mastered, it's understanding how people think and make decisions.How do you make decisions? Why is this important to know? I'll tell you why - because your clients are a version of you! And the better you know your clients, the more you can help them. This is something to pay attention to if you want to market your business authentically. It's important to know if your clients are a 'moving away' or 'moving towards' kind of crowd.These are inner motivators that push your clients' buttons to get off the couch and get moving. The "move away from pain" kind of clients focus on what's not working for them; what causes pain, worry, drama, chaos, fear. They usually live in the past, think about "what if's" a lot and don't like taking risks.Next we have the "move towards" folks (I am going to take the time to let you know that I am one of them!) Their primary focus is on "Wouldn't it be nice if?" For them, that causes excitement and joy, and it gets them motivated. They love to have fun, and they spend a lot of their time dreaming about the future and what they want.If you read most of the sales and marketing books out there, experts tell you to focus on the "moving away from pain" marketing approach. I have to tell you that I've tried this approach and I got P-R-E-T-T-Y stuck. I started to get anxious myself, I lost motivation and I wanted to hide. Writing copy was torture.

But something interesting happened too. During my coaching, I noticed that the clients who have a moving towards mindset achieved a higher level of success, faster, and check this out... experienced inner fulfillment. They seemed to activate a powerful energy that helped propel them forward much quicker.Wait - there's more. I also realized that when I focused away from the pain to make a decision myself, it was SO HARD to manifest my goals. On the other hand, when I focused towards what excited me, I attracted what I wanted at the speed of light (to the point where it would freak me out! I have to say).One of the reasons I feel this happens is that the level of clarity, commitment and connection to what you want creates a super-intense magnetic field. And whoa-la! I have the feeling that if you are reading this, you are a moving towards kind of person. But I'd like to warn you that if you are not, shift slowly to avoid sabotage from showing up at your doorstep when you least expect it.Learning how your clients make decisions will help you support them in saying YES! to themselves.When you know exactly what to say in your marketing message that makes your clients tick, you attract your perfect clients, make more money and enjoyan amazing life doing what you love and feeling great because you are making a difference. Are you ready to make a bigger impact?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Are You Telling Engaging Stories or Just Reading the News?

It's not the facts that persuade - it's a good story that puts the facts in context and guides listeners to making their own decision.Before customers are open to your insight or your product, they want to know who you are and if they can trust you. If you are new or recently connected to this person, you don't have the trust built over time, so they want to hear your story to simulate getting to know you over time. If you tell a good story, it earns enough trust tor them to want to hear your message.Facts just don't have that same trust building impact on customers. I like the quote from Luigi Pirandello quoted in The Story Factor by Annette Simmons."A fact is like a sack - It won't stand up if it's empty. To make it stand up you have to put in all the reasons and feelings that caused it in the first place."You can't just tell a story for the sake of telling one because it's the latest strategy in business. The story has to resonate and have meaning for the customer to be persuasive. People already have their own stories that they tell themselves about their previous experiences. Customers will put your facts into their story and its meaning and remain in the same state. You say, "What about my new facts aren't they strong and valid points?" But facts don't reach the customer on an emotional level, nor do they have the power to change the customer's internal story. Customers disregard facts that don't match their internal story.You have to wrap the facts in a new story in a way that will resonate with the customer and lead them to trust you and in turn trust your facts. If you truly want to influence your customer, you have to create a new story that lets your facts into the brain of the customer with words that embody as many of the senses as possible. Think of ways to incorporate sounds, smells or the feel into your story. If appropriate, you can include a description of the taste of something in your story. Create a rich and vibrant vision; it will invite the customer into your story and provide a greater opportunity for impact.

I've field-traveled with many sales people over the years. I've watched reps so passionate about their product or so eager to make a sale that they don't take the time to tell a story and build trust first. There are many sales processes that suggest establishing rapport with social conversation (sports, photo on the desk, or the morning news), providing a value proposition and then launching into finding the pain or providing the insight that leads to the next step in the process.However, taking time to tell a story that communicates who you are and why you are there first, will create an environment in which the customer is more open to your value proposition and insight rather than fitting it into their story as you speak. A good story reaches the feelings and emotions of the customer. This is critical to success as research shows decisions are based more on feelings than facts. The brain justifies the decisions with the facts it can locate to support the decision it has made.Keep a journal of your stories so you have multiple stories to choose from and select the best story to resonate with the targeted customer. Then take time to prepare and rehearse your presentation, ensuring you have made your key points in the story that will reveal who you are and why you are there. I like to practice out loud and record my presentation so I can see and hear what works and what doesn't work or flow. Practice with a family member, friend, or co-worker. Get their feedback to ensure it sounds like a really good story and your customer will be engaged. It is absolutely worth the effort. Stories have not only helped me connect to customers and enjoy a nice life, they have helped my students enjoy the same benefits.