Archive for January, 2013

The Pay Wall and Self Diagnosis

Have you visited the Internet to seek a medical, self diagnosisself-diagnosis-pay-wall?  According to the Pew Center, about one third of the American population did.

 

Further this study revealed over one quarter (26%) of this population seeking self diagnosis were asked to pay for access to read the information they sought. Of that 26%, only 2% actually did pay. What is also interesting to note is of the 26% who hit the “Pay Wall,”  83% went looking elsewhere and 13% gave up.

As I reflected upon the findings of this study, I thought about the many small to mid size business owners (SMB) along with sales professionals to C Suite executives who look to the Internet for a self diagnosis as to what ails themselves or even their organizations. This behavior is commendable as having the additional information is necessary. The real question is two-fold:

  1. Are they willing to pay for a solution?
  2. What happens with all this self diagnosis information?

Many of these self diagnosis professional development performance appraisal or organizational assessments are free. The percentage may be comparable to health self-diagnosis assessments or information.  With the overwhelming belief guiding many that everything should be free on the Internet and there should not be any “Pay Wall,” I am not surprised of those who continued to seek “free information.” The 2% who did pay is probably comparable to those who are actually willing to pay for a solution.

The real essence of any diagnostic comes from the actual debriefing and the insight provided by the executive consultant or small business coach. Years ago I too gave away free proven performance appraisal assessments for individuals such as the Attribute Index, DISC Index, Values Index and Emotional Intelligence.  I no longer engage in this practice because I believe I was setting people up to fail. Additionally, why should I give away thousands of dollars invested in learning these tools? Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Proven assessments mean the tools have been validated and have high statistical reliability.

Finally, in search for that free assessment, how much time has been invested by the SMB owners, C suite executives or sales professionals? My sense is probably more than what a proven individual performance appraisal assessment with debriefing would cost.  Sales Training Coaching Tip: Proven organizational assessments do require a much more intensive investment.

Time is money.

Just imagine the potential results by investing those lost productivity dollars into a solution that can potentially not only determine what ails you, but provides an action plan for treating.  Yes the “Pay Wall” is the threshold to take your self diagnosis to that next level and crossing over that “Pay Wall” just may advance your ability to achieve solid results from proven performance appraisal assessments.

P.S. If you are a SMB owner, a C Suite Executive or a sales professional, consider this proven performance appraisal tool, the Attribute Index, so that you truly know what you do well and then leverage that knowledge to achieve your results far faster.

 

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Maybe It Is Time to Scrap the Sales Pain Question Approach to Fact Finding?

Years ago I heard a rather high priced sales consultant talk about finding the  sales pain and figuratively having your ideal potential customer or prospect bleeding all over the place. The more bleeding the better it was for you as the salesperson.

fact-finding

Read many of the current selling or sales experts and the pain questions are usually discussed because your goal is to find out the wants and needs during your fact finding session.

However if sales is the transference of feelings and is first about emotion, how much emotion is too much?

How does all this emotion affect the buying decision making process?

Are you making the fact finding process more difficult than it was meant to be?

Would it not be better to balance out some of that sales pain and even better yet dig a little deeper to uncover the specific impact for not taking action from a positive perspective?

Additionally, how does asking the right sales pain questions truly differentiate you from everyone else all asking those open-ended sales pain questions.

My sense is what salespeople really want to do is to facilitate a self discovery process where the potential ideal customer is in control and the salesperson becomes the paid guide sooner rather than later.

Of course to embrace such a fact finding or even building a relationships approach does suggest the natural ego must be left at the door. Additionally, the salesperson must be knowledgeable about the impact of the pain. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Impact is a true Achilles Heel for many salespeople.

Pain in fact finding is usually a symptom of a problem. For example increase sales in many instances is a symptom of poor leadership, inconsistent management or just the inability to set and achieve goals.  The real problems are masked by the overriding desire and need to increase sales.

In the days to come, I will be sharing some more thoughts about changing how we approach fact finding within the selling phase of the sales process because the end result is really about shortening the sales cycle.

P.S. In the meantime, you may find this free webinar on February 7, 2013 from 12-12:30pm CST of interest Your Values Are Your Small Business Differentiators.

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What Are Your LinkedIn Processes for New Sales Leads?

LinkedIn is an incredibly effective marketing tool to attract attention and begin to build relationships with your ideal customers to strategic partners. However without processes (established methodology), the likelihood of securing new sales leads has been dramatically reduced.

LinkedIn

For myself I have several processes.  The first process is accepting LinkedIn invitations.  If the invites are from potential new sales leads or strategic partners, I ledger them into an excel file that tracks my outreach to them. Next I send a return email with a request to talk over the phone or if local meet for coffee. They are then placed into my new sales leads funnel if warranted and ongoing contacts are made. This includes participation in groups and may also include a direct mail postcard or sending an article.

Acknowledging the recent endorsements, a new change in LinkedIn, is a relatively new process for me.  The use of the notification flag to the right of the messages is a great way to discover who has recently endorsed you. LinkedIn will also send an email sometimes up to 48 hours after that endorsement.  By checking this flag several times a day allows you to be far more responsive to those endorsements.  All LinkedIn endorsements receive a quick personal LinkedIn message.  By having a master message created on a Word document allows for a quick copy and paste. Then the message is personalized by using the first name and mentioning at least one endorsement.

My email has several folders to better manage my LinkedIn marketing.  Email messages from LinkedIn are quickly filed for further review if necessary. No filing is done until the designated process is completed.

If you, as a business professional, are using LinkedIn, establishing your own internal  processes to manage this social media behemoth is critical. Otherwise it is much like fishing without a purpose. The fish, new sales leads, get piled one on top of the other (like all those business cards on your desk) and eventually those on the bottom begin to rot and smell.

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How Your Small Business Brand Affects Your Customers’ Behaviors

Your small business brand is all about the expectations held by your loyal customers and not so loyal ones.  If these expectations are not met, then your customers’ behaviors may potentially change and they may no longer be your loyal customers. Let me explain. Sales Coaching Tip:  Seth Godin is the person who defines brand about being about the set of  expectations held by your customers.

customers'-behaviors

Usually two times a year I attend a conference outside of Philadelphia, PA.  The conference is held at a local motel that has meeting rooms. This allows the attendees to essentially park their cars and never have to leave the building grounds.

One of the reasons I enjoy this conference is because of the lodging accommodations and excellent customer service. Rooms are clean. Staff is friendly. Reservations are easily made without being put on hold and transferred two times.

Unfortunately, this past December the reservation process did not meet my set of expectations. Those expectations included:

  • Friendliness
  • Timeliness
  • Accuracy

Even thought the young lady handling the reservations was friendly, she took considerable amount of additional time. What usually took under 3 minutes was now inching closer to 8 minutes.

Now my customer behavior because my expectations were not being met could have translated into one of the these two outcomes:

  1. Rudeness, abruptness, overall negative behavior
  2. Inquisitive or positive behavior

Since I recognized this was not the norm I had associated with this small business brand, I asked around minute four “Is there a problem?” Thankfully, the young lady said “No” and acknowledged she was “new and still learning the system.” She apologized and I accepted her apology.  I then added “I understand learning a new system does take some time. Thank you for being honest with me.” The reservation person quickly wrapped up and we finished in under 10 minutes.

Even though I do consider myself the customer from hell because of my small business brand expectations, I also appreciate that people must be trained on the job especially when they are using technology. However I will also admit that I am probably the exception and the majority of customers’ behaviors may have been more negative than positive.  Of course being rude, abrupt, usually does not go well for either party.

The lesson for small businesses to take is to know what your brand really is and how that affects your customers’ behaviors. What expectations do your customers or potential customers who may have heard about you hold regarding your small business brand or even yourself?

When you understand your actual brand, then you can work to increase positive customers’ behaviors and reduce the negative ones.

P.S. Have you considered your positive core values might be infused into your brand and therefore your costumers’ behaviors? This FREE webinar, Your Small Business Values are Your Differentiators, on Thursday, February 7, 2013 may provide some additional insight.

 

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The Social Media Complacency Current

social media

Social media is a great marketing channel. Yet within its many currents is this one – complacency. What happens is business professionals from small business professionals including sales representatives believe stroking the black and irony keys will secure them new sales leads or by accumulating mass quantities of friends, contacts or postings they will increase sales. Nothing could be further from the truth.

People buy from people.

This statement has been stated by myself and many others.  In these interactions, people get to know other people and trust begins to build.  Yes social media postings can also open the door to trust. However to open that trust door really wide so you can walk through requires a personal connection via a phone call or face to face meeting. Sales Coaching Tip:  A great book for understanding why people buy from people  is People Buy You  authored by Jeb Blount.

The social media complacency current lulls small business people into thinking they don’t have to make those phone calls or meet with potential new sales leads. This complacency then begins to affect their daily productivity. Given enough time, negative self-fulfilling attitudes set in and the salesperson begins to doubt his or her own selling ability.

Social media is a marketing channel and a great one for small business owners to attract attention. Building the relationships must extend past the keyboard, past the marketing and into the real world.

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Wading Through the Weasel Words of Small Business Leadership

Years ago one of my coaches discussed the weasel words and I further added to that list as I continued to work with those in small business leadership roles. These weasel words are one of the quickest ways to shut down all forward movement and progress. They actually keep you from swimming because like seaweed these words reach up, slow you down and sometimes even attempt to drag you under.

weasel-words

If you are in a small business leadership role, how many times have you said to yourself, “I am going to try.”

Sure effort is a good action. However, what happens when you fail?  Do you feel bad or do you feel some internal sense of satisfaction that it is Okay I failed. The greater philosopher Yoda summed up the word try best when he said “Do not do not, there is no try.”

Then there are all those of words like could of, should of and would of. These words give you additional subconscious permission to fail. They also connect to your personal Land of Regret where you continue to carry all those regrets that slow you down just like all those other weasel words.

Think, hope and another one of my personal favorites, Yeah but, round out the weasel words for small business.

If  you want to increase sales, improve business results and want a better tomorrow today, then stop with the weasel words.  Henry Ford recognized the power of weasel words when he said “Whether you think you can or you think you cannot, either way is right.”

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Is Got No Time Your Excuse For Your Own Professional Development?

professional development

With information doubling, tripling, staying ahead of the constant information drip is difficult especially when it comes to a small business owner or sales professional own professional development. Yet I ask my clients if you won’t invest in yourself why should any company invest in you?

Professional development today has gone way past being a life long learner. Today’s truly business savvy professional is a self directed learner who is looking to continually improve his or her own skill sets.

This week I am attending a professional development conference, sponsored by Resource Associates Corporation,  for business consultants and executive coaches in Reading, PA. Over the course of 3 days, the 150 or so conference attendees will explore a variety of breakout sessions and general workshop sessions including these areas of interest:

  • Customizing Solutions Based on Client Needs
  • Client Perspective on Annual Goals Review Leads to More Business
  • Helping Clients with Crucial Conversations

And in many instances, what is gained in the Knowledge Library (aka the bar) sometimes has greater value than the actual breakout or workshop sessions. Additionally this conference provides opportunities to know others and build those necessary strategic partnerships.

Of course attending conferences is not the only professional development action. Listening to webinars, YouTube videos, audio CDs and reading all advance the knowledge of business professionals.

So what are you professional development goals for this year? And if you say you “got no time,” then you truly need self improvement around your own self management because you are probably short changing your clients and even worse yourself.

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Marketing to the Digital Trends

digital-trends

Marketing continues to experience evolving trends mainly due to technology. The latest of the digital trends, according to Pew Internet,  is a result of eBooks through Kindle and other digital readers. For those small businesses whose ideal customer profile demographics include college or graduate degrees and household income exceeding $75,000, this is a significant buying trend.  Bookworms still exist. They have just changed how they read.

Beyond the reading of eBooks, audio recordings of those eBooks are also gaining greater ground with the same marketing demographics. These are only two of the many digital trends.

What these digital trends suggest for small business owners, is small business marketing may have to change if small business owners wish to attract the attention of their ideal customers.

Content continues to be big Elephant in the room and those who fail to acknowledge this pachyderm and continue with their own traditional ways of marketing, such as printing 5,000 glossy brochures, may end up dead on arrival. Of course the marketing firm that sold the 5,000 printed glossy brochures will still be thriving, but probably not for much longer.

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Are Your Sales Objections Because of Not Enough HUGS and KISSES?

Years ago my father shared with me that all sales objections could be placed into five buckets and those buckets were in order of priority.  After now being an entrepreneur for the last 15 years as well as being in sales for most of my corporate career, I must admit Dad’s wise words still ring true.

sales-objections

Dad also stressed that those who successfully attracted attention and built solid relationships had a greater success in earning the sales because the first two or three of these sales objections had been greatly reduced or as Dad said “had a lid put on them.”

Within the marketing phase of the sales process, the interaction is between you and the potential ideal customer.  Funny, according to Dad, you are also the first sales objection.  People must buy you before they can buy your solutions.

Depending upon the frequency and the length of these interactions, discussion about your company will also surface.  Your company is the second sales objection.

Again, all interactions are different. However in many cases what you do as well as the how of what you do (your solutions) may also come up in the conversation.  Your solutions are the third of the five sales objections.

Recently I was rethinking Dad’s words and realized that marketing in very simplistic terms is all about hugs and kisses.  No, not the candy type, or the physical ones because both can get you into trouble. I am talking about the acronyms for HUGS and KISSES.

KISSES = Keep It Simple Short Emotionally Succinct

HUGS = Handshake + Uptake + Gratitude + Security

KISSES are all about attraction and HUGS are about building relationships. So if you wish to increase sales by reducing the sales objections you experience, then consider adding more HUGS and KISSES into your marketing messages and behaviors.

P.S. Beyond the hugs and kisses, differentiating your business from the competition is critical. Consider this FREE webinar, Be the Red Jacket, sponsored by Verizon Wireless, hosted by Jeb Blount on Thursday January 24, 2013 from 12-1pm CST.

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The Resistance to Change Chains

resistance-to-change

Change is good you go first is the essence of the resistance to change.  Today, is a day that celebrates change resistance by one individual, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, I am unsure he would appreciate a day off in honor of his accomplishments because of his fervent dedicated to education and productivity, but I digress.

Recently I came across this poem, The Age of Anxiety, by W.H. Auden. The epilogue to this poem made me  immediately think Dr. King and of all  resistance to change chains I have observed within my executive consulting and small business coaching clients along with even myself sometimes.

“We would rather be ruined than changed,

We would rather die in our dread,

Than climb the cross of the moment

And let our illusions die.”

Today is a day we who are in business leadership roles  celebrate our dreams and our continued dedication, commitment and resolve to achieve those dreams.  We must not allow those illusions to die. We must continue to fight this resistance to change and be the change we want to see in this world for our children and their children.

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