Monday, February 28, 2011

Common Craft

Lee Lefever makes these great videos through his company, Common Craft. If the phrases RSS Feeds, Twitter, Podcastin and Augmented Reality are way over your head, you may want to take some time and explore his YouTube Channel and website.

Friday, February 25, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Customer Service or Bust

Years before the Great Recession, I was alarmed to see a change in behaviors: as if a strange malaise had overtaken the working world, most organizations were becoming indifferent and even punitive toward their customers. Incivility marked the way work was handled between internal customers.

During economic lean times, it’s easy to take an “every man for himself” attitude but a couple generations of consumers were altered by the recession.

My prediction? Recession-weary consumers would become exacting and more demanding about how they’re treated by their suppliers. This has come to pass.

“Relationship” and customer loyalty will be more important than ever. Your granddaddy’s “the customer is always right” has evolved—thanks to the Internet, social media, and m-commerce options—into questions like: How consistent is our branding?Do we have the right interaction mix so customers can easily find and stay engaged with us? Will our call center folks respond knowledgeably when queried by a customer who’s just pulled info off our Web site?

Ask not how to make the customer more accountable to you; ask how you can be more accountable to your customer. How easily can your employees see a profile of each customer they’re talking with? An associate told me he stayed with his mobility provider because even after he’d called to explain why payment would be late, they were understanding and never failed to thank him for 15 years of patronage. How well have we been using analytics to understand our customers’ values and purchasing behaviors?

Do you have a strategy for becoming a preferred supplier? Just getting enough work to make revenue goals is not enough. Customers are shopping for relationship now more than ever, and it takes a whole different set of ideas and behaviors to garner preferred supplier status than to merely “make nice” with one’s customers. How good’s our ability to give our customers an intelligent, customized response?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Guest Blogger: Melissa Richman - Timing is Everything

Today's ironic sales pitch...

In November, an extremely friendly and pleasant woman called my home. She wanted to know if I was interested in having my lawn fertilized. As a new homeowner, I fou
nd this call strange for two reasons:

1. That particular day was one of the most rainy, ugly and cold days since I lived in the house, and as a local company I was pretty sure it wasn't sunny in her neck of the woods.

2. It was about to be the dead of winter. As she posed the question, I thought to myself, "Isn't my grass just going to go dormant anyway??" Not knowing anything about fertilizer, I wouldn't think I would need it fertilized in the winter.

I politely said I was not interested. She asked if she could call back in the spring and because she was friendly, I said sure.

I'm not a salesperson, but as someone who works to market products on a daily basis, from that perspective alone, I ask you, "Why in the world would a fertilizer sales woman call on that day??" Why not call on a sunny day in the winter and immediately start the pitch with telling me something I don't know, but should. "While I know we are in the colder months, here's why you need to fertilize your lawn." Or if possible, what about offering a coupon to entice me?

From someone who receives her fair share of sales calls, never forget, Timing is Everything! I'm curious from a sales perspective what all of the salespeople out there think. Feel free to comment below.

Melissa Richman is the Director of Marketing for Thought Transformation.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mashable, founded in 2005, is a top source for news in social and digital media, technology and web culture. The website receives more than 40 million monthly pageviews, and frequently analyzes trends, reviews new website and services and offers social media resources and guides.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about social media, I recommending reading the following articles published by

Facebook v. Twitter

The New Metrics for Social Marketing

How Salespeople are Using Social Media for Real Results

Friday, February 18, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Try a Little Seltzer for the Road Ahead

Recently I posted this on Facebook: “Today my local grocery had customers cracking up in the aisles when an employee on the PA system said: Welcome Publix shoppers to the best Friday deals ever (ever ever ever)...our deli just pulled rotisserie chicken from the oven and we got homemade bisque (bisque bisque)...As always, thank you for being with us today, where shopping is a pleasure (pleasure pleasure)....Gotta love a store with its own PA echo.”

To me that's great customer service. It was such a small, silly thing, but the smiles lingered on everyone's face, the employees were clapping and laughing, and they just proved their tagline.

In the same week, one of my clients said something very profound: “It’s not just that we should keep doing things better, but we need to do the same things differently. What’s more, we need to try and do different things.”

So what does that mean? I’ve put together a general list:

• Give your customers, your constituents, a different experience of you. To say you want to “re-engage” them means that some organizations will do what they’ve always done, only with greater frequency and intensity, but is that necessarily the best strategy? One client plans to go beyond sending thank-you form letters to their donors and instead start inviting them to pick-your-brain meals with national luminaries closely tied to their organization.

• Don’t just invest in transparency but aim for constant, porous dialog. New programming frequently fails because the targeted audience was never asked in the first place if such programs were even relevant, much less appealing or convenient. The best way to escape formulaic tactics is to ask your customer what they need most.

• Don’t forget to delight. One of the classic episodes of 1970s’ “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was when the TV station crew struggled to maintain gravitas at the funeral of a clown whose credo was “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We Have a Winner! (And a special treat!)

Congratulations to Lynn!!
You are the "101 Cold Call Tips" Valentine's Day book winner!!

And because nothing would make me happier than to show my appreciation to everyone who entered the Valentine's Day contest on Monday, I'm happy to send Pat Bennett, Mike von Brendel, David Pilcher, John and Liz4aker a copy of my first book, "Selling in Tough Times."

Please e-mail your mailing address to my Director of Marketing, Melissa Richman -

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spreading the LOVE

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm giving one of my LOVEly readers a copy of my latest book, "101 Cold Call Tips."

For a chance to win, please leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday. Good luck!

Friday, February 11, 2011

KeFactors Friday: 3 Qualities of Successful Professionals

Whenever I hear praise for people who are great to work with, certain themes stand out:

  1. They’re skilled listeners. Successful pros are able to hear not only what’s said but what isn’t said. And, because they listen carefully, they’re less likely to make silly mistakes.
  1. They’re gracious. This isn’t just “pinky-extended” hospitality, but refers to personal civilities—focusing on positives, treating others with unfailing courtesy, keeping promises, and sharing praise and credit on team projects. Many times you’ll hear the word “selfless” used about such people (just as there is no i in team, there are a couple of those in self-aggrandizing)….
  1. They’re strategic. Whether discussing new initiatives or the most lurid office politics, these folks are able to find strategic insights from what happens around them. They don’t personalize such events because they keep a bigger picture in mind.

In Mandarin Chinese, a mature child is one who “understands business”—a reference to the bigger-picture issues of life, or that quality of being one who “gets it.”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Does Your Company Connect With B2B Prospects

I recently read this really great and short article, "How Uncoordinated Emails Can Kill Off B2B Prospects." I encourage you to read it as well and question how interdepartmental communication works within your company. It's a good idea to even pass this along to your boss and colleagues, too.

Good selling!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Are you LinkedIn?

If the answer is yes, great. If the answer is no, open an account today. LinkedIn is a social media tool designed for business and it is useful for salespeople. Once you have the account, use these tips to make LinkedIn pay off for you.

• Link to customers.
• Link to prospects.

• Pay attention to updates from the people you are linked to. People send out updates about
changes to your profile, new jobs and information of interest. Get in the habit of responding to contacts when you read about them in an update.
• Join a group your customers would join.

• Participate in the group.

• Scan your homepage at least once a week to learn what is new with the people you are linked
to. Comment on posts from others in your network.

Social media is evolving. The best way to learn more about how it can work for you is to use it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Rules, Policies & Disruption

Every industry needs rules for the greater good. Fond as I am of regulations prohibiting pilots and brain surgeons from drinking on the job, I often ask clients of other service industries:

“Are your policies in place to make life easier for you or your customers?”

Netflix customers may never speak to a service rep, but given Netflix’s customer-centric protocols, it’s easier to get a movie from them than dealing with a clerk at one of their competitors’ outlets, especially if you get one who relishes reciting homegrown policies about late returns or, as in the 1990s, rewind fees.

“When a customer makes an honest mistake and breaks one of your rules, do your employees know how to come up with solutions that will delight rather than punish the customer?”

I have an affection for market innovators, ones who shun the rules put forth as “conventional wisdom,” instead creating protocols that actually make life easier for their customers. Why?

Media futurist Gerd Leonhard advises against “meaningless disruptions” such as advertising a product/service simply to put out the hype but then see it fail to make life easier for consumers. It’s not that “consumers are getting smarter” but that they always were smart—and smart people know how to find alternatives.

Advertising must contain meaningful content. Disrupting consumers’ lives with multi-channel ads and promo offers must result in lasting customer engagement because, more and more, consumers are saying, “I can decide for myself, thank you!”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New & Improved Self-Taught Sales

Do you subscribe to my newsletter - Self-Taught Sales? It's new and improved for 2011, and here is just a sampling of what's to come this year:

* We're switching to a monthly format--fewer issues but with better information for you.

* There will be an "Ask Linda and Lucy" section. If you have questions, about sales or customers service, we'll be happy to share our thoughts and insights.

* We'll expand tips on time management and toss in thoughts on sales-related technology and applications to improve productivity.

* Social media and your personal brand are important for every sales professional, so we'll be providing more information on both.

If you are interested in subscribing to this free newsletter, e-mail Melissa at