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.