Archive for August, 2016

Sales Prospecting in the 21st Century – Part 1

Sales prospecting is job one for most sales professionals unless they have sales leads being fed to them. Until salespeople find qualified potential ideal customers to buy their solutions, they will remain pocket poor.

sales-prospectingToday, there are more sales prospecting strategies to reach those essential sales leads.  In the book, High Profit Prospecting, by Mark Hunter, he provides some great insight on how to prospect in the 21st century.

Within the 23 chapters and under 210 pages, Hunter provides an almost chronological order for prospecting. Some of the information is probably already known by salespeople yet there is quite a bit unknown. What I found very helpful was actual samples of telephone scripts, email scripts and even voice mail scripts.

One of the key points in Hunter’s perspective is to keep communication succinct and emotionally compelling. For example in the voice mail scripts, he suggests to use the person’s first name and then share the caller’s name and company. The next sentence is to provide a strong reason for the intended sales lead to return the call. Finally,  the last sentences repeat the sales lead’s name, the caller’s name (twice) and phone number (twice).

If time is finite, then keeping the message short and on point is essential especially if the sales lead is a high D. (DISC Index Profile) Many decision makers especially in the B2B world are high Ds. These individuals want the facts, want them in order and have very little time for small talk. Hunter’s scripts really work well for this type of buying behavior.

In his conclusion, Hunter reaffirms that sales is a calling and not just a profession. He encourages the reader to take one or two concepts and apply them.  Then add a few more if necessary.

Sales prospecting is part of the marketing phase of the sales process. The goal is to make a friend and to be asked back for that coveted one on one meeting. Hunter’s book becomes your marketing guide to increase sales results.

I wholeheartedly recommend High Profit Prospecting to both novice and experienced sales professionals. My favorite chapters are 13, 14 and 15. If you decide to read this book, please let me know your favorite chapters.

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Sales Communication – Selling to the High D & High C

Many people in sales have either heard or have taken the DISC Index profile. This is one of the best tools to understand and apply sales communication behaviors. The assessments reveals how you communicate; how others perceive your communication and how you can leverage that knowledge to increase sales.

sales-communication

I am a high D (at the top) as well as a higher C (above the norm). Both of these scores reflect how I communicate.  The high D is very decisive while a higher C tends to follow the rules and is more analytical.

For me this translates as someone who is very literal.  I do not make presumptions about anything I read or hear during a sales conversation. Facts are important to me and small talk is not my thing. Yet I am still very much focused on the results of the solution being presented.

Many buying decision makers are high Ds.  They tend to be more assertive and challenging. One of the more common characteristics is those with high Ds do not like to waste time.

Now the high C presents some different characteristics including don’t rush the buying decision making process. A high C will want to evaluate the sales conversation.

The combination of a high D and a high C creates a more task focused individual and less people oriented.  This individual maybe more of an introvert than an extrovert.

Also remember the D buyer is looking for results while the C buyer is seeking information. Neither one of them like to be pushed.

Learning the characteristics of the behaviors associated with the DISC Index profile can dramatically improve sales communication. Of course, people are multi-dimensional and one assessment short changes the complexity of individuals. This is why I recommend two other psychometric assessments:

  • The Values Index – Understanding what people value in other words what motivates them
  • The Attribute Index – Understanding how people make decisions, their temperaments and 78 core talents.

If you are interested in learning how to improve your sales communication, give me a call at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time. I will be happy to answer your questions.

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Got Sales Courage?

Remember the ad campaign “Got milk?” Maybe for those business, we should embrace “Got sales courage?”

sales-courageMonday is the first day of the work week and the weekly routine starts again. Make phone calls to sales leads, leave voice mails and send emails.  Do not receive returned calls, do not receive new calls and do not receive returned emails.

Staying focused and energized in the B2B and B2C marketplaces is an ongoing challenge.  Becoming disheartened can be easy especially when calls are returned, emails unanswered and no new sales leads are in the sales funnel.

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying courage is the “ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”  Hmm, easier said than done.

Possibly Churchill was talking about sales courage?  How many failures do salespeople encounter on a daily or weekly basis?

Courage in business does require faith. Faith in one’s own ability. Faith in one’s own message. Faith in one’s own solution. If you do not believe in what you sell, courage is quickly replaced by fear.

Years ago I came across a short story or fable from Africa.  It went like this:

Everyday in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and knows it must run faster than the quickest lion to stay alive.

Everyday in Africa, a lion wakes up and knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle to stay alive.

It does not matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion come morning. What matter is you start running.

Sales courage starts every morning and especially on Monday mornings when we start running. Hopefully we have planned out our run and have the flexibility when unexpected barriers cross our paths.

Of course when we have clarity about our talents, what we do well, we can remember to leverage those talents. Additionally if we have invested the time to list all of our accomplishments (goals achieved), we can easily review our past courageous experiences.

Top sales performers got sales courage.  And you too can get some.  If you need some support to bolster your courage, then reach out and touch someone.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 09 Gratitude

Sales success demands being busy.  However none of us are too busy not to say thank you, not to show our gratitude.

sales-success-gratitudeIf people buy from people they know and trust, the demonstration of genuine gratitude will help to build that needed trust from sales leads to centers of influence to colleagues.

Two weeks ago I received a book from a colleague, Mark Hunter, entitled High Profit Prospecting. After I started reading the book, I sent Mark a short thank you for sending me the book.  Mark did not ask for any book recommendations. His book was a simple gift.

Earlier this week, I met with a local colleague who I had just connected on LinkedIn.  He said he had read about my book, Be the Red Jacket, and would like to purchase an autographed copy.  I gave him an autographed copy as a gift. He was truly appreciative and sent me two different thank you notes via email.

Some say gratitude is an attitude. I read something by Zig Ziglar that said an attitude is a habit of thought.

For me, it is a little deeper than just an automatic response or thought. I genuinely appreciate when people are kind to me or to others. This appreciation is part of my sales success.

With my business coaching, executive coaching and sales coaching practice, I encourage my clients to buy thank you notes and to send one out on a daily basis. These notes can be sent to current clients, colleagues, family or friends.

Writing these thank you notes, keep us grounded as human beings. We are far less likely in our quest for sales success to take our own success for granted.

Another colleague on Facebook, asked if “Did you make someone smile today?”  A genuine smile is a physical thank you note because what happens is you give the gift of a smile and usually a smile is given back to you.

Yes sales success is not always easy. Genuine gratitude is.

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Time to Stop with the Cheap Sales Behaviors – Part 2

sales-behaviors

Credit: www.gratisography.com

Continuing with the cheap sales behaviors, here are another four (4) that may resonate with you.

Professional Development

How much time do you devote to your own professional development? Are you in the sales behavior of self-directed learning?  Sales continues to change even though in many instances it still remains the same.  With more educated buyers, understanding value creation, value articulation and value realization is essential if you truly want to increase sales.

If you say you don’t have time, do you waste 12 minutes a day? If you answered yes, that is one hour a week.  So time becomes another excuse to continue your cheap sales behaviors.

Common Courtesy

What does it take to send a handwritten thank you note?  No it is cheaper to send an email than to take the time to express your thanks for an act of kindness.  Loyal customers as well as centers of influence appreciate those acts of kindness and will remember you before the last salesperson who called on them.

Returned Phone Calls

Another cheap sales behavior is not returning phone calls.  “I don’t have time” or “I’ll call back later” is an inexcusable cheap sales behavior. With all the SMB in the marketplace, your sales lead or customer will just as quickly call your competitor.

Spraying and Praying Sales Behaviors

Possibly the cheapest sales behaviors are what I call spraying and praying. These behaviors are the result of no strategic planning including no market research.  SMB owners to salespeople spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.

These are the folks passing out multiple cards at B2B networking events. There is no clarity as to their next marketing, selling or keeping sales behaviors.

Yes cheap has always existed, doing the least for the most. For those engaged in selling, cheap sales behaviors just may ensure you have cheap sales.

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Time to Stop with the Cheap Sales Behaviors – Part 1

Cheap has always existed doing or wanting the most for the least. In sales cheap usually means the buyer won’t pay the big bucks or little bucks for your solution. Yet, today there are a lot of cheap sales behaviors being demonstrated by salespeople day in and day out.

sales-behaviors

Credit: www.gratisography.com

Promotional Items

“I want the cheapest pen as a leave behind.”  A colleague who sells promotional items has shared this story numerous times.  He tells his clients the cheapest pen’s cap comes off to the cheapest pen doesn’t write all that well. “Never mind” or “I don’t care” is the response. Give me the cheapest pen.”  Then when the cheapest pen comes in the client complains about the cap coming off or the bad writing.

List Building without Permission

Every day I receive several to ten new emails from people I have never communicated with or met. They bought a list and then added my name to their emails.  There is no double opt in because it is cheaper (time wise) just to add names.  This sales behavior immediately creates distrust instead of trust.

Pre-Formatted LinkedIn Invitations

If people buy from people they know and trust, why would any salesperson use the pre-formatted LinkedIn invitations?  Here again this is another cheap sales behavior.  Sure it is easier, but what message does it send? Are you unintentionally building distrust with that first outreach?

Sales Pitches

Making a sales pitch before establishing a relationship is 100% cheap.  People buy from people they know and trust. Top sales performers understand developing authentic relationships is essential especially given much of the buying decision has already been made before any contact with a potential vendor.  Yes this does take time and effort on the part of the salesperson.

There are many other cheap sales behaviors. Part 2 will identify another four more. The real two questions you may wish to consider asking yourself are:

“Am I demonstrating any of these sales behaviors?
What is the impact on my SMB business?”

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Before You Make That Request for a Guest Sales Blog Post

sales-blogToday I received another request for a guest sales blog post.  This individual was from Chicago and said he was a salesperson.  He also indicated he would send me some samples of his writing.

Several times a week I receive unsolicited requests from complete strangers to post an article in this sales blog.  The requests are very polite and all read very similarly.  I wonder if they paid for some course on how to approach blog owners?

Making a request is in all actuality making a sales pitch.  Very few people like sales pitches out of the blue from complete strangers.

People buy from people they know and trust.  If I don’t know you, I am probably quite unwilling to give you the opportunity to use my blog platform as a way for you to gain new business (increase sales), find a job or add to your contact list.

Depending on traffic, this sales blog and website receive an Alexa ranking between 150,000 and 200,000 here in the U.S.  The Worldwide the Alexa ranking ranges currently between 800,000 and 900,000. Given its relatively good traffic with over 152 million blogs on the Internet, unsolicited requests from my perspective suggest these individuals want to use my years of effective content marketing to their advantage.

Several of my colleagues do accept unsolicited articles for their sales blogs provided the author is willing to pay $250 or more.  Their reasoning is the requesting writer wants to use their established content marketing vehicle and therefore should pay for it.

Possibly a better approach would be to reach out to me on LinkedIn and begin to develop a relationship. This is called marketing. Another marketing tactic would be to comment on this blog or some other article I have written such as this one on LinkedIn Pulse, 7 Top Tips to Hire & Keep Rock Star Salespeople.

By reaching out to the owner of any sales blog first before making a sales pitch shows that you respect her or his time. Reading unsolicited writing samples takes time. Time is something all entrepreneurs jealously guard.

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One Sales Strategy to Sell More Homes

Salespeople, good salespeople, continually seek new sales strategies to increase sales.  For realtors or real estate agents, they may be ignoring this sales strategy – For Sale By Owner.

sales-strategyWith well over 75% of all homes not sold by the listing real estate agent, realtors are selling the inventory of other realtors.  This inventory excludes the ever growing marketing of For Sale By Owner.  Yes this market has seen highs and lows as the overall real estate market has experienced.  However it is ripe for the picking as they say.

Some realtors may look at the For Sale By Owner homes as a threat to their incomes. If I was a real estate agent, I would look at these FSBO homes as a viable sales strategy being ignored by other realtors.  These FSBO homes are low hanging fruit.

The challenge is to having the FSBO pay a sales commission.  This is where being a true salesperson comes into play. Here you can share your knowledge about a particular neighborhood or type of home being sold.

My sense is the reluctance to work with FSBO is one of FEAR. What if I work with them and they use me and my knowledge?

F = False     E = Evidence     A = Appearing     R = Real

Welcome to the real world of sales. There is no guarantee in sales.  Maybe this is why the reliance on listing commissions?

A sales scarcity mentality surely will deliver scarce sales in any industry.

Here is where having a simple contract with the FSBO seller is essential.  Discussing fees up front is also important.

Of course not all homes make for a good showing. Some homeowners may require an education about what is needed to sell a house.  A good salesperson would have much of that information in a brochure along with additional resources such as a home inspector, a certified appraiser, mortgage lender, title company to a real estate attorney.

Real Estate Sales Coaching Tip:  Establish key relationships with other professionals

People buy from people they know and trust.  Become the trusted authority within the local FSBO real estate market.  This sales strategy reflects the blue ocean strategy needed to increase sales in today’s every changing residential real estate market.

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Do Realtors Really Want to Sell Homes?

Having been in the process of selling our home, I have come to realize the majority of realtors do not want to really sell a home. No they want to list and then promise how their marketing is different.  This fact is supported by current real estate sales research that suggests nearly 90% of all homes are not sold by the current listing real estate agent.

realtorsListing a home is a guaranteed income if the house sells and is for the most part all the same by all the real estate agents.  I listened to numerous “real estate marketing presentations” and they were basically all the same.

From the marketing reports I received from our realtor, the super majority of interest over 75% was from Zillow.  Percentage wise very little came from Realtor.com or the local real estate association or even the broker’s national multi-listing website. National real estate sales research confirmed that at least 90% of all potential home buyers find their homes on the Internet.

This realization was verified after I called five of the realtors from the direct mail marketing I .  Once I told them our decision to walk the path of For Sale By Owner, 100% of these so called “hungry sales people” indicated they wanted to list the house and were not interested in just “selling the house.”  They maintained this position even after I said we were willing to pay a commission if they sold the home.

One realtor did not realize his conversation was insulting because he presumed we were not working with a qualified real estate attorney.  He said “most of our clients will not work with for sale by owner because of the legal ramifications.”  That may be true, but my sense is his focus creates his reality.

Coming from a true sales background, I always thought selling a home was actually finding a buyer to buy the home and thus make a sale.  Yes finding listings (homes for sale) is just one aspect of real estate sales.  However selling a home from the seller’s perspective is actually finding a buyer for the home.

My advice is to realtors is be careful in your marketing message. More and more buyers recognize there is a difference between listing a home and selling a home.

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Branding, Are You Forgetting the Smaller Picture?

brandFunny thing about branding, most marketing experts work on the bigger picture. And yet where do brands fail? Yep you guessed it, on the smaller picture.

How many times do we hear your call is important to us? 

Our business is now more customer service friendly?

Then we call in and are confronted with numerous push this button or that button to be connected to one of those customer service friendly people.

In business, it is the small actions that make a difference.  This is just as true about branding as it is about every other business operation.

Peter Drucker said a business has two purposes, “marketing and innovation.”  Unless people know about you, your ability to increase sales is dead in the water.

However in today’s world with buyers being far more educated, knowing you becomes a little easier and now there are more opportunities for your brand to shine as a rising star or to plummet to the earth like a falling star.

Regardless of how much money you paid for your “brand,” all that money goes quickly down the drain with one false action of one employee. This is why the emphasis on being greeted at the door upon entering many of the local retail businesses. Or why over 75% of the grocery stores now ask “Do did you find everything?”

All it takes is one unhappy customer to spread the word about how your brand failed them. They will tell far more people about this branding failure than they will tell their friends and family about your excellent customer service.

Your challenge is to contemplate about what small actions you can take as a SMB owner, an executive or even a sales professional to make your brand shine.  When you focus on those small actions, your branding will be far more successful.

 

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