Archive for September, 2010
Today is a special day and one I will remember because beyond my husband’s 65th birthday, my website at 11:14am central time USA recorded 4,504 unique visitors according to my C-Panel. Five years ago, I had 461 unique visitors for the entire month. Talk about progress.
Simply speaking, the reason for this growth can be attributed to article marketing. When I decided to embrace an education based marketing approach, article marketing became my primary delivery vehicle. Sure I still networked face to face in business networking events, delivered key notes and engaged in some very specific direct mail. However, I realized that being a small fish in a very large pond surrounded by much bigger fish was going to be very difficult to be noticed. I needed to do something different that was sustainable while demonstrating my expertise and credibility.
Over the years, I learned the more you write, the better you think; the better you think the more you write. This knowledge coupled with a viable and dynamic business growth action plan has given me the opportunity to increase traffic and as well as increase sales.
This past February I decided to incorporate a sales blog into my website. Being technology challenged, I enlisted the help of Matt Geier of The Sales Corner and this sales blog has only reaffirmed why article marketing is so crucial to my business.
For without the article marketing experience of the last 5 years including understanding how to write good headlines, provide valuable content and construct a search engine friendly article, I would not have reached this milestone. This is one marketing strategy and skill set that truly evolves over time.
Now for some sites where they get 4,000 plus unique visitors a day, my benchmark is insignificant and that is OKAY. However as Chris Knight founder of Ezine Articles said in a recent interview with me, article marketing is “primarily for TRAFFIC.” Given the results of the last 5 years, I can only reaffirm his words.
Each year the traffic and the sign ups to my various lists continue to grow. Beyond having the education based marketing approach, I have also embraced this philosophy: Slow and steady wins the race.
Comparing September 2005 with 2010 also revealed these improvements:
- Visits/visitors was 1.47 and is now 3.32
- Hits 5,289 to 84,983
- Bandwidth 49.97MB to 1.87GB
Now some may still argue that article marketing is not a valid marketing strategy. A recent article entitled Article Marketing Myths and Facts by John S. Tucker discussed some of the arguments I have heard over the years. This is a good, well thought out quick read to understand the pros and the cons. Please consider taking a few minutes to read it.
Since I have never engaged in any affiliate marketing, pushy, cannot get off the squeeze pages, etc., I truly believe this marketing strategy has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Another reason is with over 2,000 articles appearing across the web including Ezine Articles, Evan Carmichael, Sales Gravy, I sincerely doubt that two years ago Jeb Blount of Sales Gravy would have considered publishing my book on sales – Be the Red Jacket.
Article marketing is one of the best ways to build relationships over a course of time. And thanks heavens I did listen to Chris Knight when he shared with me that 20 articles would not cut the mustard. Of course I was thinking in hundreds back then when others such as was thinking in thousands as was Lance Winslow Yet through article marketing, I connected with Lance and he wrote a testimonial for my book. Thanks again Lance.
Yes you too can double, triple your Internet traffic while also securing that goal to increase sales through article marketing. Start right now, submit an article to one of the above sites. In three to five years, you will be glad you did.
P.S. When I started writing at Ezine Articles there were around 5,000 authors. Today there are over 325,000. So it appears that article marketing is viable marketing strategy and tactic for not just me.Share on Facebook
Years ago I heard a story created by a Bill Napolitano entitled Captain Wing It. Bill was gracious enough to allow me to include this insightful short story in my book, Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success. My ongoing thanks to him for his generosity.
The reason I mention this character is I now see him or her with greater frequency when listening to all the talking and writing about social media. Earlier this week, I attended a local business networking event sponsored by Northwest Indiana Tweet Up group. They had a speaker, Robby Slaughter of Slaughter Development, who delivered a presentation about social media and productivity.
After the presentation, naturally some discussion focused on social media as this was a “Tweet Up Event.” Many shared their thoughts about this specific environment and its impact on both personal and professional lives.
As I listened, I was reminded of a current discussion happening over at LinkedIn within this group “Linked N Chicago (LINC)”. This conversation was about being courteous, taking the time to be present and how many lack positive business ethics when accepting or issuing invitations. Lillian Bjorseth author of Breakthrough Networking (read my book review at Amazon) shared how she sends thank yous to those who join a group she manages.
What was missing from these discussions were these critical business terms:
- Target market specific to demographics and psychographics
- Complete ideal customer profile
- Customer loyalty action plan (goal driven)
- Marketing action plan (goal driven)
- Sales action plan (goal driven)
- Strategic action plan (goal driven)
- Results through conversions
- The why or thorough understanding of marketing
- Measuring the specific results of social media
Sales Training Coaching Tip: Secure clarity about the why of social media for yourself. Is it for business, personal or a combination?
For the last 5 years, I have engaged in education based marketing and still considered myself still a novice when it comes to marketing. What I do know is that without an action plan, without a complete ideal customer profile, without an understanding of marketing which is the Achilles heel for many small business owners and sales people, without knowing the predetermined results and what outcomes the current social media actions are delivering, most efforts end up reflecting a “spray and pray” philosophy. In other words, spray your actions all over the place and then hope something will stick.
Another colleague, Doug Brown, shared these words years ago:
“People (think small business owners, sales people, realtors, financial advisors, executive to sales coaches, consultants, executives, management, fill in your role) confuse motion with progress and activity with results.
So what results are you getting from social media and more importantly are those outcomes in alignment with your overall strategic action plan? After working with many small business owners to even C Suite executives, I can honestly say that 75% if not more do not have an action plan so their actions place them in the role of “Captain Wing It.” Sales Training Coaching Tip: By now if you do not accept this fact that you need an action plan, then your goal to increase sales will probably never be achieved to its fullest potential.
Yes social media is affordable marketing because many small business owners and sales professionals which represent the majority of those in business have more time than money. However if it is not delivering your results provided you have clearly articulated those results, then it may be prudent to rethink and revisit your actions to ensure you are making the best use of your limited resources of time, energy, money and emotions.
P.S. Come back to this blog on Monday for a special blog posting especially if you are a crazy busy sales person whose goal is to increase sales and to be even more productive with your time. I am truly excited about what I will be sharing with you.
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One of my clients and colleagues, Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales recently shared one of my postings on how to increase sales by dressing for success with his email list. After sending him a quick email thank you, Rick also let me know he has shed a significant amount of weight. I will not share the actual number, but it was more than 10 pounds. And I must add, he looks terrific.
Rick made an observation about Undercover Boss and how the CEO of Choice Hotels could not keep up with his employees. His insightful comment was “He has success, maybe even more if he paid attention to himself.”
He is so right. How often do we in management whether we are small business owners, sales professionals or even C Suite executives become so entangled in the day to day grind to keep the business or organization financially fit, we forget to take care of our own minds and bodies?
Recently, I have engaged a nutritionist, Jodi Barnett of Harvested Health to help me with improving my physical health. I think my next step will be Yoga because I need to stretch my muscles. Also, part of my personal development includes reading both fiction and non-fiction books, making time for friends and being involved in my church.
As authentic leaders, working on our own minds, hearts and bodies is just as important as working on our businesses. Balance is required to ensure proper alignment between our professional and personals worlds.
Also in management, it is important to model the desired behaviors you expect of your employees or your clients. Management Coaching Tip: Just imagine if all your managers demonstrated living a healthy life. What impact would that have on your workforce. When someone is in a leadership capacity and is asking employees to be healthy, but his or her physical appearance is just the opposite, would they be credible or believable?
Some say that 60 is the new 40. (I will let you know next year if that is true.) Due to better nutrition, increased health awareness and the evolving use of technology, human beings are living longer. Unfortunately, many including those in management are not taking care of their own health and this is a potential leadership disaster waiting to happen. If you think this is not true, just pick up the paper and read about obesity or just observe those around you.
Today, professionals who are really authentic leaders need to go beyond being business financially fit. They must get out of their comfort zones, leave the status quo and become physically, mentally, socially, and ethically fit as well. By taking these actions, they will have the energy to increase sales not to mention to truly enjoy their families and friends.
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By 9:30am today, Monday September 27, 2010, I had already placed 10 calls and received 10 automatic messages. Seven out of these 10 calls were to small business owners who had at least 5 employees and who had told me they wanted to increase sales. Possibly if they were in their office they could achieve this sales goals. Please excuse the rant and sarcasm.
- How do customers buy?
- Do they purchase the goods or services sight unseen?
- Do they wait until the vendor gets back to them or do they go elsewhere?
Answer to question #1: People buy from people they know and trust. Even if your prospects do not totally trust you, they will buy from you before they buy from someone they do not know. Your prospects do not buy from automated, robotic sounding messages that eventually deliver the prospect to some general mailbox after numerous push this button to hit this number. Wake up! Answer the darn phone!
Answer to question #2: For the most part, people do not buy sight unseen. Go to any grocery store and visit the produce aisle. How many fruits and vegetables are loose and very visible allowing for a personal inspection?
Answer to question #3: When customers or prospects have urgency, if you are not there to meet that need, they will go elsewhere. With today’s technology, incoming phone calls be forwarded to your mobile device or to even a virtual assistant. Even if you do not engage in these solutions, then designate someone in your office to check voice mail every 10 minutes and make those returned calls. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Sales leads do get cold at the speed of light.
Bottom line, if you wish to increase sales, then just be there. Stop with the automatic, dial this or press that number. Use technology to its advantage. Make sure that first connection is with a live breathing human being who demonstrates that he or she truly cares about the call.By taking these actions, you will be the Red jacket in a sea of gray suits.
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Sales success that being the ability to increase sales is all about you. Nowhere is this more evident than how you dress as a sales professional, small business owners to even C suite professional. From the smile of your face how well your clothes fit, the impression you deliver will either make or break you. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Dress for sales success not for failure.
This weekend I was talking with a colleague who had read my posting on Bait and Switch. She called and tongue in cheek said she was changing her doctor, manicurist and hair stylist. After sharing a laugh, the conversation went in several directions including defining your ideal customer, leadership development and how being credible will increase sales.
Later on the conversation migrated to local B2B networking groups and how these individuals especially small business owners and sales professionals are clueless about the impressions they make and how this does not translate to sales success. From ill fitting clothes to casual attire, the way these “professionals” dress does not instill confidence especially when others in the group are making referrals. Two great reference sales books: People Buy You and Breakthrough Networking if you wish to improve the effectiveness of your B2B networking. Sales Training Coaching Tip: “Casual attire promotes casual performance.” Leanne Hoagland-Smith
Beyond the inappropriate to ill fitting clothing is even a more serious “dressing” issue and that is one of attitude and how it relates to sales success. As it has been said “your attitude determines your altitude in life.”
However, small business owners, independent sales professionals and even executives are human beings who are susceptible to illnesses. In some cases, these illnesses may be more than the common cold or flu. The result is when health is affected by a more serious illness individuals may become extremely cranky, ill tempered and over all displaying a poor attitude. For it is hard to be friendly and positive when you are in significant pan.
When the health issue becomes a longer term event, then one of three actions may need to be considered:
- Find a substitute for B2B networking event if you must attend
- Keep a positive attitude with a great smile in other words “Suck it up”
- Resign, seek another position or close the business
People are fairly understanding about poor health to a point. However there comes a time when these understanding individuals are no longer understanding. Poor health does not give anyone the right to be consistently rude. Sales Training Coaching Tip: By having a poor attitude will only turn off once great supporters and no business can afford losing sales.
Rudeness is not only relegated to poor health, but to a overall general attitude. I call this scarcity and abundance thinking. When salespersons display bad, know it all, ego centric attitudes or any combination, they will not increase sales. This attitude does scare people away.
So as you leave the house today this Monday morning, check out your clothing.
- Are you truly dressed as a professional?
- Are your clothes well fitting?
- Are your nails and hair cleaned and well styled?
- Are your shoes polished or at least clean?
- Does your attitude smile as you walk through the door?
- Are your thoughts full of abundance?
- Does your appearance truly inspire confidence
- Will you be the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits?
Remember, people buy from people they know and trust. If you fail to make that first impression positive, then the likelihood to realize your goal to increase sales, will probably be greatly diminished.
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Customer expectations are part of the customer loyalty formula. With technology increasing at what sometimes appears to be warp speed, this is also increasing the sales expectations of those very same technology conditioned consumers.
A survey of over 3000 mobile customers just released at the Oracle Open Wide World Conference revealed no customer loyalty because 77% would switch providers. The survey also revealed that 82% are happy with the current mobile providers.
What this suggests is that consumers in this target market segment are looking for that next generation mobile device based upon their sales expectations specific to their needs. As more and more people embrace this new “App” or that one, their mobile devices need more memory, faster connectivity and easier use.
Since most businesses are not into manufacturing or selling electronic phones or mini WIFi computers, then some might say this research is not relevant to me or my business as I work toward my goal to increase sales. Yet, the question to be answered is:
What are the customer expectations specific to your products and services?
People can be fickle due to how they have constructed their own valuing systems as noted in the book, Why Choose This Book. What I expect based upon my value system may be entirely different that you may expect. When my sales expectations are not meet, this will directly affect how I determine the value of any future purchases.
The challenge for any forward thinking leader be he or she a small business owner to C Suite executive who wishes to increase sales is to answer this question honestly. To be able to do this may require connecting with your past, current and potential customers.
Then the next step is to make any course corrections to the strategic plan based upon this new information. By engaging in this proactive business behaviors, you will be better able to build customer loyalty therefore increase sales because you understand the expectations of your customers and will Be the Red jacket in the sea of gray suits.
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After reading another editorial by another person who is advocating taking from the wealthy and giving the results of their efforts through increased taxation to others who have not achieved their desired results, I realized class envy is not about business profits or personal income, but is truly about the inability to secure results.
Now today’s editorial may upset some and I am willing to accept criticism. However, excluding those who are truly incapable of securing results specifically those suffering from some serious physical or mental disease which are a small portion of the population, I truly believe class envy is not about greedy capitalists and their profits or rich people with high incomes, but about the productivity of others through the results they have achieved. In simpler words, class envy is stealing the productivity of others through their results.
In America today, most of the wealthy have not inherited their wealth as in the early part of the 20th century, but have earned it. These folks have worked long hours, took risks that others were not willing to take and have been rewarded through the money. After all money is what we exchange for results.
Possibly you disagree with me. Yet,
- How many New Year Resolutions are abandoned after 30 days?
- How many people are obese or suffer from serious diseases that are the direct result of their poor choices?
- How many small businesses have fail because the owners fail to secure results?
- How many individuals do not have an action plan; are still where they do not want to be and continually moan or complain about where they are?
- How many individuals confuse wants with needs and live outside of their incomes?
When you live your life accepting 100% for the results you receive, then why do you care about the wealth of others? Class envy has always puzzled me and I am not wealthy.
However, I do respect those who are willing to do the work, to be productive and to take the risks. Maybe this is from being a first generation Swede and hearing the stories from my father’s mother. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Focus on what you can control and do not waste time (envying) on what you cannot control.
Years ago I heard someone who was working for a small business owner complain about his job and how much money the boss made as the expense of the workers. Yet when I questioned him about being willing to take risks, make investments using limited resources, honor personal loans to make payroll when cash flow was not happening, working 60 to 80 hours per week, etc., he replied “Well, I could do that!.” So I asked him why he hasn’t done it if his job was so bad? He said “I need a job and have a life.” In other words, the results from the that small business owner, boss, was what employed him and yet he was envious of those results.
Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. Since the word sin means to miss the mark (not secure the results), the those who demonstrate envy are missing the mark through their own behaviors.
When class envy is exploited by the unauthentic leaders and politicians, those who finance and take the risks will eventually stop taking the risks and this becomes a serious problem. In a turbulent economy, the last thing you want to do is to stop the economic engine in the USA of small businesses. Executive Coaching Performance Improvement Tip: Taxes by their very nature are regressive, reduce productivity and decrease the desire by the producers for personal accountability and results.
Being an authentic leader begins with being personally accountable and not engaging in the blame or victim mentality. This is where many of the traditional employees (those born before 1946 or who are also known as the Greatest Generation) have it over many in the other generations.
So the next time you hear or read someone expounding about class envy, ask yourself is it really about the money or more about this person’s inability to get results and then using that failure to secure agreement among others who have also failed to get results? Sales Coaching Tip: Misery loves company.
P.S. Yes there are people with money who take advantage of people without money and the converse is also true. However that is not an excuse to demonstrate or worse yet legislate class envy through taxes.
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Two weeks into the challenge and I have averaged one article per day. This marketing activity is not where I want to be, but it will allow me to complete the challenge on time.
Part of the reason goals are not achieved is that unforeseen obstacles happen. For me, that has been the product launch of IntroMojo a new Internet delivered sales tool to help secure more detailed ideal customer profiles from those new business sales leads. Also, I had some dental work which has dramatically affected my productivity. However, I have revisited my goal setting worksheet and have made some course corrections.
Today I submitted another 4 articles and will submit another couple before the day is over.
Again, I will honor this article marketing challenge commitment as I know that very few achieve their goals and I will be one of the few instead of one of the many.
Previous post of September 23, 2010
Today I began my fifth HAHD challenge being offered by Ezine Articles. The goal is to write 100 articles in 100 days which equals just one article a day. Since I have engaged in article marketing for the last 5 years, I have received incredible value through:
- Increase traffic to my website and this blog (unique customers as of this am was 3,413)
- More sign ups to my various lists such as free sales skills, leadership audit
- New customers
- Establishment of new strategic partnerships
- Greater clarity of thought (the more one writes, the better one thinks; the more one thinks, the better one writes)
This morning I submitted my first 10 articles that had been written during the last couple of days as a way to give me some additional motivation. Just think not even one day down and 10% of this maketing challenge is complete. What a great feeling!
As someone who has successfully complete the last four marketing challenges offered by this great article directory website, and with over 40% of all traffic coming from Ezine Articles to my website, I decided not to continue would be a poor marketing and selling business decision.
So for the next 100 days, I will be updating this entry as my journal sharing with you what is happening. Knowing that I have some commitment with clients, I realized that the sooner I started submitting articles, the less pressure and stress I would be experiencing during the last 10 days. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Stress for the most part outside of significant events is a direct result of not achieving goals or having a goal driven action plan.
My challenge to you is what significant marketing, sales or business goal will you achieve in the next 100 days? With the year quickly coming to a close, are you where you want to be? If not, why not? Sales Training Coaching Tip: If your response includes any of these words:
- Would of
- Could of
- Should of
- Yeah, but
then you are speaking Weasel Word Language as one of my coaches David Herdlinger as often called the first five. Just imagine what would happen if you achieved even 50% of your goal?
- Would you be in a better place financially, physically, mentally, spiritually, socially?
- Would you be happier about yourself?
- Would you stop beating yourself up?
- Could you use your success as a springboard into the New Year of 2011?
I encourage you to determine what results you want by 12/31/2010 and then write a very aligned, specific measurable, attainable, realistically set high, time driven (you already have that 12/31/2010) goal that is yours. I call this a WAY SMART goals or goal.
So revive up your productivity engine, fuel it with your key values and drive it is using your best talents. Share you results in the comments below. I look forward to hearing about everyone’s terrific results.
P.S. There is no prize except the internal ones of improved self-confidence, self-esteem and personal accountability. And truly isn’t that more than enough?
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Have you been “googled”? Many people turn to the world wide web (www) of the Internet and specifically the Google search engine to check out potential customers, vendors and people they have just met. Jeb Blount of Sales Gravy (the most visited sales career website) in a recent Sales Gravy E Magazine wrote this article People Buy You: If You Don’t Want People to See It Don’t Put It Online!. His article indirectly discussed this issue of credibility.
Since people usually buy from people they know and trust (there are always exceptions), one of the elements therefore is being credible or credibility. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines credibility as follows:
- The quality or power of inspiring belief
- The capacity for belief
The origins of this word are Latin and from the word “credo” which means “I believe.” In sales, your potential customer (a.k.a. prospect) must also believe in you.
This is why using the 3 filters test of Socrates strengthens your credibility or the ability for people to make this internal statement about you “I believe in (insert your name)” when you post something on the Internet. By embracing it is kind, necessary and truthful reaffirms these two old adages:
- If you can’t say (write) something nice, do not say anything at all
- You get more with honey than you do with vinegar
With the explosion of social media, there are numerous individuals who ignore the 3 filters and two old adages. These behaviors will not increase sales and may also damage the credibility of others who are associated with them. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Another old adage of “You are judged by the people around you.” is still very much alive if not more so.
One way to ensure your own credibility is to commit your values (business ethics and beliefs) to writing in what is known as a Values Statement.” If you have employees or even work with independent contractors, it might make good business sense to share this statement and if possible have everyone sign off on it. Sales Training Coaching Tip: A Values Statement is a necessary element within the strategic plan.
Another way to further strengthen your being credible is make sure you believe in you. What I have discovered during the last several years through this performance appraisal tool, is that many people do not believe in themselves. My sense is this non-belief is then received subconsciously by the other person. Sales Training Coaching Tip: A overly strong ego is not necessarily indicative of believing in oneself and may demonstrate just the opposite.
Being credible is critical to achieve the goal to increase sales. And the best news is that you have 100% control of this capacity.
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Today I had the opportunity to experience first hand bait and switch sales tactic. I made an appointment to visit a new dentist because I was tired of traveling 35 miles to see my regular dentist of 30 plus years who is an exceptional dentist.
This decision came after receiving a direct mail marketing piece (yes direct mail is alive and still works) for a special offer ($60) that included x-rays and a cleaning. Now in all fairness, this marketing mailer did say if there was any evidence of periodontal disease the cleaning would not be available at this special offer price.
The good news is that the scheduled appointment happened at the agreed time. Also I had the opportunity through email to complete all medical forms. And the office was friendly and professional.
Now for the bad news.
- The young dental hygienist (probably 25 to 30 years old) was professional. However, between using the word “educated” more times than I can count and talking to me like I was a 3 year old, I must admit it was hard to keep a smile on my face.
- From the initial medical form to all the education that really was almost a hard sell, my distrust factor kept increasing.
- The dentist spent less than 2 minutes with me and then turned me back to the hygienist. Beyond hello this is Dr. so and so and “do you have any questions?”, there was absolutely no effort to build a relationship.
- Every action from the X-Rays to the inspection of the teeth was calculated to increase fear so that you the patient would buy. Now since I do not fear dentists, I could observe this business model from a different perspective.
- One piece of education was the oral cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths for Americans. Since one of my best friends is a doctor who specializes in oncology, I found this statement very curious and contrary to what I had just read from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). Also when I quickly “Googled” the following number one type of cancer causing death oral USA, I discovered the Oral Cancer Foundation was the only source of this information and not anything by the CDC or other organizations.
- Educating your potential customer and in this case actual customer because I was paying for the Xrays should not be based on the premise of fear or misinformation.
After all of this information, I learned that if I wanted to have my teeth cleaned it would be $1,500 (in round numbers) instead of the $60 and this included extended treatment for the periodontal disease. To have everything corrected in my mouth would be another $3,500.
For years my dentist has removed my tartar build up for far less than $1,500. Obviously, the 35 mile drive is worth it because after I left this dentist, I immediately called my dentist and made an appointment. So the $40 I spent for the X-rays was probably a good investment because there is no way I would become a patient of this practice.
One of the continued mistakes small business owners continue to make is to offer their sales solutions and not listen to their customers. My sense is this not listening is behind what some myself included perceive as bait and switch. I asked for what only the extended cleaning would cost and received a far more detailed and expensive solution.
Another mistake is misunderstanding who the relationship is with. Assistants are just that assistants. The main relationship is with the person offering the service or product. In the 90 minutes I was there, I had 2 minutes with the doctor, 5 minutes with the front desk administrator and 83 minutes with the assistant. However, the direct mail piece directly advertised the dentist and her practice. And they want me to invest $5,000 based on 2 minutes. Give me a break! Sales Training Coaching Tip: Relationship selling is between the customer and the vendor.
After receiving the two proposed documents, I walked out of the office thinking about what I have deemed the 3Ps virus (Price, product or proposal) or what Jeb Blount calls in Pump and Dump. Regardless of what you call it, it stinks to high heavens, is not a viable strategy for relationship selling and bottom line it will not increase sales.
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