Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Today is the last day that I am asking readers to take a very short survey about this blog. It's less than 10 questions, should only take about 3 minutes to complete and one lucky survey participant will win a copy of my new book, "101 Cold Call Tips."
Click here to take the survey now!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Here are some ways to construct a relevant message that matters to buyers:
• Be specific. Avoid vague and empty promises. Phrases like “We save you money,” are
fine if you follow the phrase by telling the buyer exactly how you accomplish that.
• Use positive language.
• Focus on helping people today.
• Communicate benefits—the “what’s in it for me” aspect of your product and service.
The right research helps you construct meaningful messages. In ten to fifteen minutes, you can
check out the prospect’s website, read the latest news release, and search for information on
the buyer. Making mention of information you uncovered tells the buyer you cared enough to
invest time in learning about them.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Recently, Riley Croft, an account executive at The Kennickell Group in Georgia made 43 calls to suspects and prospects in a day. He recorded himself as he called. Riley said, “After every call, I challenged myself to sound friendlier. By the end of the day, I sounded better and much more like a person who you would want to call back.” Here’s a challenge for you. When you pick up the phone . . .
How can you sound more likeable?
How can you sound more trustworthy?
How can you sound more competent?
You’re good now. You’ll be better if you are already smiling before you dial and you’re mentally expecting good things to happen.
Demonstrate respect for buyers by starting calls asking prospects and customers if they have time to talk. Often enough, the prospect says, “No, I’m busy.” When that happens, I call again. Sometimes, I catch the buyer and we talk. Other times, I never can reach them again. In either case, I know if I make enough dials I will talk to interested buyers. For the record, Melissa Siegel, a New York buyer, says few salespeople ask this question and she would like it if they did.
Carl Neuscheler with Graytor Printing in New Jersey is a 35-year veteran in the industry. His philosophical approach to calling has served him well throughout his career. He said, “If you pester people, you un-sell them. I ask buyers how often they would like me to call or e-mail. Once they tell me what they want, I do it. Once a month, I send a sample out. I often get return calls because the sample hits a nerve and buyers will tell me they called because I was persistent.”
Be polite, pleasant, persistent and relevant.
Friday, September 24, 2010
For starters, none of us is that good an actor. Our bodies are geared to disclose emotions with a variety of tiny signals—sometimes called “micro-inequities,” they can be as unsubtle as glancing at your watch while the client’s speaking, to a fleeting duck-and-dodge of eye contact when fibbing.
Second, most humans are good at detecting those signs. We may be unable to articulate why someone made us uncomfortable, but from the cradle we’re very skilled in picking up non-verbal signals. It’s a facet of our basic survival instinct.
Third, you can keep your guard up and maintain a good façade some of the time, but when you’re busy and things are hitting the fan, it’s easy to lose control over that. If you think your client’s prone to terrible ideas, even a tiny pause over the phone or a slight crease around the mouth can convey a smirking, “That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard.”
So how do you get this under control? Understand that:
• Your client’s reality is not your reality. They have their reasons. You’re there to solve problems with them, in which case your best judgment calls should be about the work and process, versus whether or not the customer’s a champion procrastinator.
• You need to stay away from negative nellies. You know who they are. They’re the people in your workplace who live to complain—about the boss, their co-workers’ shoes, their spouses and children, Congress, the cost of cucumbers, and—inevitably—customers. Such people will deplete your batteries without affording new insights or improvements. Shut it down. You have better things to do.
• All individuals and systems have some degree of dysfunction. Clients undergo periods of personal and professional crisis, of confusion and difficulty. If you can demonstrate big-hearted support—even for the reasons why they can no longer give you business—you’ll have earned their trust and respect.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Reason Number One: The buyer tries to tell you they’re not interested, but you smell blood because they called you back and draw them into a conversation so you can overcome the objection. The buyer doesn’t have time for this discussion, but they’re too nice to be rude. Melissa Siegel, a New York buyer said, “I’m trying to let you down easy, but you won’t let me. When I tell you I already have a vendor who does what you do, you tell me you’re different and ask to meet. If you really were different, you would have started the conversation that way and told me exactly how you were different.”
Reason Number Two: You called six times. By the time you’re on your seventh round of dialing, you’re frustrated that the buyer doesn’t realize that you can make their life better, if only they would talk to you. The frustration leaks into your tone and the buyer hears it. Before they didn’t call you back because they didn’t need what you were selling today. Now, they don’t want to call you back because you sound unpleasant to deal with.
Reason Number Three: Yes, it’s the buyer’s job to talk to vendors, but right now, they have higher priorities. David Forsyth, Business Development Manager with InnerWorkings in Dallas said, “Everyone is stretched to the gills....less resources and more responsibility. It’s easier to not make a decision rather than commit either way.” And to quote Chris Carr, “For me, it’s easy to bid out jobs to the 'normal' line up and forget new vendors. The 60 hours that hit my timesheet each week does not need to include additional time for courteous call backs to unknown salespeople.”
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Here's the e-mail. You may want to apply some of his tactics to your next selling e-mail.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2010 5:18 AM
Subject: Hi Linda - keeping in touch - new musician projects
Hi Linda -
Way back in 2007, you bought a CD from my store, CD Baby.
(JULIE GRIBBLE: Echoes in my Head. Remember?)
So you might be interested in my new free projects to help musicians:
MusicThoughts: inspiring quotes about music
MuckWork: assistants to do your dirty work
Derek Sivers: my personal site, with articles
SongTest: a free, open song contest
They're all free, open-source, and non-commercial (except MuckWork), so I'm
not emailing you for any business reason.
But since we've emailed in the past, I thought I should let you know what's
I sold CD Baby two years ago, so this is the last time you'll hear from me,
unless you reply back or click those links.
Though if you do reply, please let me know what's going on with you
(really!), in case I can help in any way, and to keep this from being a
one-sided conversation. :-)
Derek Sivers firstname.lastname@example.org http://sivers.org/c/jmwna
P.S. Why I sold CD Baby and where the money went: http://sivers.org/trust
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
7. Prepare for presentations using the first and last rule. People remember how presentations start and how they end. Start strong. Finish strong.
8. Time management is key. Write down your number one selling priority and keep it in plain view at your desk, every day re-write your to do list on a single sheet of paper and manage actionable items with the "Two Minute Rule." When something requires action, ask if the action will take less than two minutes. If the answer is yes, then do it, if the answer is no, delegate or defer it.
9. Stop boring prospects and customers. Do you talk about and interest the customer doesn’t share frequently? Are you speaking clearly? Is your conversation filled with pauses, repetition, and filler words? Do you talk too much? Do you talk too little? Do you know when your time is up, it’s time to end the conversation and go? Even if you answered all the questions correctly, challenge yourself to improve your skills and become a better conversationalist. Talking to people is a critical skill set for sales professionals. Mastering it at the next level will pay off big for you.
10. Know what to follow-up with when a prospect says, “Send me information.” Start by saying, “I would love to. Please help me do a better job for you by telling me what you’ve learned in our conversation that prompted the request.” Notice that I’m asking for help, as we discussed in tip six. Give them your full attention and listen to their answer. Springboard off their answer by tying in their reason as you ask, is this a problem you’re looking to solve now?” If they say yes, ask again for an appointment. When you ask for an appointment, give them a logical reason why a meeting benefits them. Tell them exactly how long the meeting will last.
If you have any questions about my Ten Tips to Grow Sales, please don't hesitate to let me know.
Monday, September 20, 2010
1. Create messages that passed the R-Test - R stands for relevant messages. When a message is relevant, it gets attention because it matters to your audience right now.
2. Never leave a message that goes like this. “I called you before, and I want to talk to you about your printing needs. Call me back.” As a business owner, people try to sell to me all the time. I have heard plenty of messages that start out, “I called you before.” Aren’t sales professionals supposed to call people? Isn’t it our job to persuade potential buyers that it is in their best interests to talk to us? YES! Absolutely!
3. Worry if the client never wants to meet you in person—especially if you’re in the same town! Strong relationships require interaction. When you’re entire relationship is built on impersonal emails strictly related to information transfers, the relationship with the client may be stable, but it’s not intimate.
4. “I looked at your website.” These five words are powerful because they tell prospects you have done your homework. And, you can springboard off these five words to talk about a problem you can help your potential customer solve.
5. Phone, email and in-person—Choose the right tool.
Tips 6 - 10 tomorrow. Good selling!
Friday, September 17, 2010
The same week that Slater grabbed his beers and slid into folk-hero status, there was a news story about a woman in Toledo, Ohio, who pitched a tantrum at a fast-food drive-through window, punching the employee in the mouth before hurling a bottle through the window and driving away.
And you can Google “sideline rage” to get a complete listing of the parents who freaked out at their children’s sports events, attacking coaches, umpires, and other parents because they disagreed with a call. My home city of Atlanta measures 4.15 on the “road rage” Richter scale (with 5 being extreme rage) for having the most incidents, and of course we also have “workplace rage”—after all, what other nation originated the expression “going postal”?
So what’s my point? The air lines are still a branch of the hospitality business. Sports were intended to challenge our kids, and prepare them for healthy competition. Traffic can be infuriating, but it’s a fact of life for many cities; and work enables us to make money and have our lives and careers. And most Americans readily acknowledge that in a world filled with ethnic cleansing, starvation, poverty, and terrible natural disasters, we’re still the fat, educated, well-spoiled kids with the better schools and toys.
So…praise Mr. Slater as you will, but don’t emulate him. When it comes to customer service and your own mental health, cooler heads have to prevail. And if you’re finding it difficult to cool down, then you need to get help—from a sympathetic spouse, colleague, or manager, a professional therapist, a career coach, and/or a longer walk in the evenings. We have to be more strategic than merely pitching a fit.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
- Don’t ask for information this is unnecessary. Prospects who feel they are being asked to invest more time than necessary might bail.
- Fill out as much info as you can on required forms for customers. It sends a subtle signal that says “When you buy from me I make life easy!”
- Anticipate buyer's needs in order to eliminate risks and fully understand benefits. Provided early in the sales cycle and you can often shorten it.
- Communicate what the client can expect in terms of service. Do you promise to return calls in an hour, 90 minutes or by EOD?
- Provide referrals, even if the customer didn’t ask for them. This simple step boosts your credibility.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
- It is the easy way to increase sales.
- People often don't shop when a convenient solution is easily available--so be the convenient solution.
- When a client is buying all they can buy from you, they're more likely to be loyal, more profitable and less likely to listen to your competitor's pitch.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
- The salesperson sounds like they're selling a product or service the customer already has.
- The customer views the current purchase as "good enough" when it comes to price, quality and service.
To put it another way, even if the prospect isn't 100% satisfied, they won't meet you unless you improve their situation.
Salespeople who make fluffy claims about being better are also ignored because insubstantial promises aren't believable. You get more meetings when you:
- Avoid trite cliches like "great price, great quality, great service."
- Tell a story to demonstrate your difference.
- Be specific because specific sells.
If the customer sees value in your benefits and understands why you're different, you'll earn the meeting.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
I was in my car at a busy intersection, so lost in thought that I sat through the green left turn arrow. Upon realizing my mistake, I raised my hand in a flat wave ("Sorry about that!"). The driver behind me nodded, grinned, and waved his hand in a similar way ("No problem!"). No one beeped in anger or impatience.
Why do I remember such a small moment?
It happened on the afternoon of September 12, 2001. Like most Americans, I was immersed in thoughts about events of the previous day. Most of my generation had grown up in the era of skepticism, of Vietnam and Watergate, and suddenly we were patriots again. While the attacks triggered acts of hatred, they also inspired an unprecedented sense of community. Maybe the driver behind me used that small moment in traffic to express his donation to the solution: he opted to give patience.
Workplaces are more often defined by matters of ambition, goal-setting, strategies, and efficiencies, less by tiny acts of compassion. And yet compassion can fuel all the above. Here's how you can become part of the solution.
You have influence. You do not have to be a manager or CEO to influence others. By your own choice of behaviors, you give tacit permission for positive or negative conduct from others.
Listen, and establish credibility. Others are more likely to listen to us when they feel we are prepared to listen to them, not merely with passive attention but with a silence that acknowledges their words and experiences. And silence does not have to mean agreement. It's far easier to resolve disagreements when you feel you've at least been heard and understood.
Be specific in your thanks. Human beings flourish in the ways they are praised, because they're more likely to repeat and improve those abilities. Next time a co-worker hands you a completed task, give a more concrete, specific word of appreciation. Lift it out of the routine: rather than the usual "Thanks!" why not try, "You're always so quick and organized, I really appreciate that."
Thursday, September 9, 2010
- Increasing the size of a transaction grows sales.
- It's easier to sell because the customer is already buying.
- The more customers buy from you, the more connected they are.
- In a rapidly changing world where you add new products and services, you'll be more profitable when you quickly convince current customers to try additional offerings.
- Mastering cross-selling and up-selling gives you a competitive advantage.
- When customers buy more from you, they perceive you have more value because you make their life easier.
Have you signed up for tomorrow's Webinar - "The Easy Way to Sell" Click here for more information.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
For today's contest, I'm asking you to send me your #1 cold calling tip. E-mail all tips to email@example.com and I will choose a winner based on the best tip!
And for tomorrow's contest, make sure you have your copy of "Selling in Tough Times" with you!