What's the difference between Selling and Negotiating?
What are you better at, selling or negotiating?
Writers do it; Actors do it; Radio hosts do it -- Are you doing it?
Whether you're and account manager, inside sales, part of sales team, or sales support, your company will benefit from the power of your personal brand.
What are you doing to build your credibility, visibility and even celebrity using the communication tools available on the world wide web, today?
How long do you wait before you next contact a prospect, business partner or acquaintance and how?
Sounds like the question, "how long do you wait to call after the first date?" In a way, it's the same question, although if you're properly controlling the process, before you leave the meeting, you agree to a specific next step and never a "think about it."
10 minutes after you meet.
Yep, 10 minutes. It's especially important after you've met with prospects or clients. The fact is, right after you meet with a service provider is when you have questions or concerns. Doubt it? Pay attention to what you're thinking about just after a meeting and write down the questions you're asking. This is happening with your customers, too.
The good news is you have a few ways to communicate this. The best way to know the best and easiest way to say thank you is to ask during your consultation, "which communication medium do you prefer; email, telephone, mail?" Make sure you have their cell phone, text them if they prefer email; call them if they like the telephone.
During your consultation assure your prospect that, "there's no dumb questions." Now, when you call within 10 minutes of parting, you can say, "Just a quick call to thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I'm looking forward to working with you. Is there any question I can answer which you may have just thought of since we left each other? Remember, there's no dumb questions."
This is especially important if you've met with more than one person. There's always a conversation just after a meeting. There's always questions.
An immediate, "thank you," impresses new networking partners, too. And don't forget the power of the hand addressed, hand written, personal note card. It always gets opened and read.
What's your best practice on follow-up?
Photo credit: Todd Hryckowian
Inspired by the picture of what Jason Womack's reading, here's a picutre of the stack of books currently on my bed-side table.
What are you learning?
More importantly, how is it influencing your selling behaviors?
Potomac Blog was the Washington DC, Metropolitan area's first collective attempt to bring Social Media experts under one roof for an unconference.
Initiator, organizer, champion and MC, Geoff Livingston, proudly announces Blog Potomac a success, as I agree. Largely an audience of marketing professionals with a healthy attendance of PR and communications professionals, the event was an excellent inside look at how the "other" communication disciplines -- PR, Advertising, Marketing, Branding -- use New Media to create dialog with the prospect and customer. As a representative from the Sales camp, I walked away with the question, "aside from having a social networking account, how much does the focused field rep need to understand and use the plethora of Web 2.0 communication and media organizational tools becoming available every day? Here's a small sampling of the techie tools post-lunch keynote, Frank Gruber, professed to love and often uses:
Gmail - AOL Mail - Remember the Milk - AIM Instant Messenger - AwayFind - AwayFind details
Facebook - Twitter - Flickr - TubeMogul - Viddler - Blip.tv - YouTube - eyespot - Typepad - WordPress - Tumblr - Evernote - Mixx - Digg -Delicious - StumbleUpon - Shareaholic - SiteMeter - FeedBurner - Google Analytics - myAOL - FeedHub - AideRSS - Summize - Google Alerts - Filtrbox - Lijit - SocialThing - MyBlogLog - FriendFeed - TwitterFeed - Dopplr - Tripit - Basecamp -Quicken Online
If you're a committed Sales Professional, you are accountable for public relations, branding, marketing, advertising and customer service, whether or not they are another's responsibility.
Social media tools are about engaging in the conversation with your public. They're having it with or without you.
Yes, it can be overwhelming. So, to get started, here's a couple of suggestions, opinions and observable options:
If you're not growing as a sales professional, you're dying. The worse part -- you won't know it until you're dust.
Sage Seth Godin says you or your company "have the opportunity to create value by connecting their clients to each other." This idea is the most powerful underpinning of Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing. In fact, in addition to value for your clients, you have the chance to create a sales phenomenon if you're excellent.
Your entire business to include product and service design AND marketing plan should be built with this directive in mind. In fact, your customer service system should be be embedded with this philosophy.
Word-of-Mouth marketing and Social Media consultant Jeremy Epstein cements the point:
Create an environment (aka a platform) where folks can learn from each other and your position as Social Object is strengthened, which is exactly what you want.
Sales professionals (and/or their marketing colleagues) who believe referrals are the lifeblood of their business need to become Social Objects. Yes, what you learned in high school is right -- it's a popularity contest and it's cool to be different.
Photo credit: Gaping Void -- More thoughts on Social Objects
So how do you become a Social Object?
Besides the now obvious combination of traditional and Web 2.0 (there, I said it) vehicles such as write a book, write articles, hold a seminar, blog, exploit LinkedIn and Facebook, how can you create value
for with your prospects or customers?
So, please comment, how do you turn your client into a Social Object?
Unique service; deliver differently.
I go to Starbucks because I'm part of a large demographic who feels rich when they spend a relatively small amount of money on a lifestyle luxury to receive a consistently stronger cup of coffee in an easy to find meeting place. I keep coming back because they manned-up and replaced my prescription eye-wear when it was accidentally misplaced by one of the store's management a few years ago.
Solve a problem or fulfill a desire better than the rest of the marketplace.
Find out what customers expect and then come to agreement and publicize what they can expect.
Tell a story people enjoy believing and then make it necessary for them to be a part of it.
I'm guilty. More times than not, most cards I pick up at a networking event get stale. I follow-up selectively, but this isn't necessarily my intention. I currently don't have an adequate system, which for me, before I switched to a Mac, was to use a Windows-driven card reader and follow-up with promises I had made during the event.
Connector Jeremy Epstein posts a great approach and system to following-up to a networking event using social media tools. In short, he immediately sends an email referencing something said or promised and then invites his new acquaintance to be his friend. He takes an immediate first step to build a relationship.
It's about Intimate Relationships.
Interviewer Ron Sukenick goes Beyond Networking to discuss in regular podcasts what to do after the networking event. In an interview with Linked-in expert, Jason Alba, Jason states that LinkedIn is currently the most relevant social networking site for business people and shares some of the common mistakes made by new users and how to use LinkedIn's built-in polling and recommendation features.
Jason points out that as LinkedIn is an outstanding tool, it's only a tool, and "what you really want is the relationships."
So, this is the beginning of the answer to the question, "How does one use social networking to enhance sales?" How do you use social networking tools after the networking event?
Cartoon Credit: weblogcartoons.com
Seth Godin makes the great observation that promotion misses the bullseye without personal belief and pride in the service or product.
80% of the mail and promotion I get (and 98% of the ads) fall into this category. The enthusiasm of commerce, not of belief and pride.
The Oxford American Dictionary defines promotion as, "activity that supports or provides active encouragement for the furtherance of a cause, venture or aim."
Have you ever said, "I can sell anything if I believe in it?" Technique and activity are equally important but sterile without passionate conviction.
If you lack faith in your selling abilities or your company's services or products, what do you to bring forth the conviction which delivers the sale?
Photo credit: JDillon
As a big proponent of adult learning, especially for sales people, I've recommitted to a particular training program after a rewarding hiatus. On returning, I met some new attendees -- some new to selling, some new to the training, and some who claim to have been attending this particular brand of training for 30 years.
It's fun to watch each person interact and participate. I get to learn about their learning styles, their personalities, their sales and social skills, and their learning skills.
It's funny how more-learned people (and I've been guilty of this, too) are sometimes actually less able to receive than the new or less educated.
Are you a skilled learner?
What is your one-day plan?
You've heard of a marketing plan, a business plan, and maybe even a 90-day action plan, but do you have tomorrow's plan ready?
What's missing? Please comment.
What are your top 5 tips for a new salesperson?
Jill Konrath who is busy at Selling to Big Companies answered and re-asked a great question, "If you were mentoring a new salesperson, what would be your top five sales tips and how did you learn those?"
Jill asks, "how did you learn these tips?" Find out how by ordering the hot report, "The 10 Big Breakthroughs in a Salesperson's Life." Then tell Jill What you think!
What do you do to maximize the follow-up activity of your group presentation?
Thursday, April 10th, Misti Burmeister launched her first book, From Boomers to Bloggers, and celebrated Inspirion Inc.'s 3rd anniversary party. One of Misti's friends, sales trainer and business coach, Steve Dorfman, kept the party going as Master of Ceremonies.
After refreshments and networking, the celebration started with an opener by Steve followed by a conversation ice-breaker as attendees were encouraged to meet someone new and discuss what they did both professionally and personally. After Misti's presentation and testimonies from clients, friends and supporters were made, Misti recognized employees and her book editor with comments and gifts. Afterward, while the crowd was feeling grateful and generous, Steve used a masterful technique to facilitate interaction and ongoing conversation between the attendees and Misti after the event.
Reaching into his coat pocket for a pen and card, he commanded the audience to bring out a business card and to write one thing they learned about generational differences in the workplace. Then he asked everyone to print the letters Q, R, and S. Next, he instructed the audience to circle, "Q," if anyone had a question for Misti. Likewise, he asked participants to circle, "R," if they had a referral for Inspirion Inc. Finally, he suggested listeners to circle, "S," if they were interested in having Misti speak at an upcoming event.
What Steve orchestrated was the beginning of a great follow-up system using Neuro linguistic Programming commands and auto-suggestions at the right time during the presentation. The secret to success of the campaign, of course, will be in the timely and consistent follow-up activity after the event.
Get your prospect to agree upfront to NOT have to think about it, consider it or get back to you.
The Selling Sherpa, Patrick Williams, suggests that when you get the fluff-off, you need to make sure you know why. That's not his point, but that's what happens if you set yourself up for the possibility of "maybe" as an outcome to a sales call. The Selling Sherpa makes an excellent point of avoiding mutual mystification during any communication with anyone. It's your duty as an effective communicator to shine a bright light on any vagary so as to make sure it's seen in stark relief. Summary and clarification during every step of a conversation is vital. In most cases, it's best to act like Lieutenant Columbo to diffuse any possible defensiveness when you clarify any comment that is unclear or allows your prospect to proceed uncertainly.
Close for the accepted outcomes, first.
Begin your conversation with an agreement upfront on how long the conversation will take, an agenda, and the expected outcome for the next step. For instance, "Joe, as we agreed when we set the appointment for this meeting, we'll spend the next half hour helping me understand where you are, where you want to be, your current options to fix your problem and if and how you want me to help. Is there anything else you want to accomplish? Joe, to save you and me from any misunderstanding or wasted time, let's make sure that at the end of this meeting, we'll either agree on either how to move forward on fixing your problem or make this our last conversation about your present issue. In other words, 'maybe' or 'I'll think about it' really means, 'no'. I'm OK if you don't think I can help you. You won't hurt my feelings. Let's just make sure we're clear on why not, if that's the case. I'll accept whichever decision you make, just not 'I'll get back to you.' Fair enough?"
This way, you have permission to directly eschew your prospect's timid politeness or indecisiveness. Yes or No?
What's the difference between Marketing and Sales?
Marketing consultant, Laura Lake, defines marketing as "everything that you do to reach and persuade prospects" and sales as "everything that you do to close the sale and get a signed agreement or contract." Anonymously authored blog About How To suggests "Marketing = Sizzle" whereas "Sales = Closing." Duct Tape Marketing says marketing is "getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you" and sales is converting someone with an unfulfilled need who knows, likes and trusts you into someone who will "try, buy, repeat and refer." Information Marketer, Robert Middleton, analogistically describes marketing as getting to 2nd base and sales as bringing in the home run. Finally, I like Karl Goldfield's personal definitions which includes a take on Business Development:
Business development is the accumulating of partnerships that will help you sell.
Marketing is the establishing of credibility that will help you sell.
Sales is the act of selling. Selling is the ability to receive money for an offering.
In an earlier post, "Do Salespeople Need their Own Web Presence?," I suggest that, especially for companies with distinctive marketing and sales departments, each salesperson should develop a personal brand.
When prospects decide to become customers, what are they buying, your company and service or you? Who are your Advisor Alliance partners promoting, the company or service or you?
If marketing's job is to build credibility, trust and familiarity for the company and its brand, how do they do it for you, the trusted advisor from whom the customer is really buying?
How well can one develop a relationship with a prospect and sell their product or service without meeting or speaking on the telephone?
As many Seth Godin readers do, I often read the posts from which other bloggers trackback their responses to Godin's pearls of wisdom. After reading Mr. Godin's post, I read trainer and blogger, Jason Womack's thanks for inspiration in which he mentioned he was presenting to a roomful in nearby capitol, Washington DC. Then somewhere during my blog trekking to find examples of Internet radio business interview websites, I stumbled across, guess who, again in the same day. I must have liked what he had to say because minutes later I found myself on the phone leaving Jason a message inviting him to lunch or dinner if he could squeeze it in on short notice. Genuine as he is, Jason politely called me back to thank me for reaching out and even though he was understandably booked this trip, we agreed to talk within the next few weeks. We may turn out to be strategic referral partners or clients of one another and most likely new friends.
Friend and Buzzter, Geoff Livingston, sourced other bloggers to understand how to transcend the limits of the digital Web 2.0 (there, I said it) approach to developing personal relationships. He sites Ms. Toby Bloomberg's question, "when was the last time you talked, listened, laughed and learned with" your clients and Aaron Brazell's friendship with Shashib which started from Twitter tweets. It seems you can only get so deep through public correspondence alone.
How does one use Social Networking to enhance Sales?
Journalist, Elaine Appleton Grant, reports on how to use Facebook and Linkedin to enlarge one's network. Wallstreet Journal staff reporter, Shelly Banjo, shares on how to get the blogosphere to comment about your product. I'm still trying to figure out how to automatically set appointments to discuss a prospects needs through social networking sites without picking up the phone or showing up. Please post your comments on how this is done.
What does this have to do with the post title referencing Analog VS Digital?
Check out the picture posted above. Which side appears to be more interesting? Which side is more real? I see "Digital" to be like social networking limited to blogging, tweeting and video logging for all the world to see. "Analog" is personal, face-to-face interaction, telephone conversation, email and IM exchange.
What do you say Geoff, Toby and Aaron?
How much time, money, lost income potential and misery could you save yourself if you learned about career-altering breakthroughs most salespeople never experience?
Information Marketing Guru, Robert Middleton, asks the question, "What is a marketing breakthrough?" Being a happy owner of The "Whole Shebang" Marketing Package which is centered around the InfoGuru Marketing Manual, I experienced a breakthrough to which I had often given lip-service but apparently did not understand the true meaning.
A breakthrough is any sudden or significant advancement, development, achievement, or increase that removes a barrier to progress. Of course, a breakthrough is only acknowledged when the barrier to progress is recognized either before or after the breakthrough behavior occurs.
In my case, it was over 3 years of wisely suggesting, "the riches are in the niches," before I understood the full gravity (literally -- prospects started falling from the sky) of that maxim. It happened when I boldly hyper-curtailed my target market into a micro-niche.
What's a sales breakthrough?
Often, sales breakthroughs are defined as achieving anomalistic or platau-breaking sales revenues. As this may be true, I've personally witnessed many sales breakthroughs after I had a change in attitude, behavior, belief or knowledge, usually for enough time until I experienced a quantum leap in results which made my breakthrough apparent. Evidently, I had to encounter enough frustration before I made a change. This impetus usually came with a great cost of time, money and opportunity.
How much would you pay for sales secrets you're never likely to discover on your own?
Robert deservedly charges up to $249 for his breakthrough generating advice mentioned today. I'll give you my 10 Big Breakthroughs in a Salesperson's Life for FREE. In fact, when you order now, Robert is permitting me to GIVE AWAY the first paradigm-shifting chapter of his $99 plus InfoGuru Marketing Manual. Why? Because you'll buy the manual. You should -- it's more than worth it.
Popularity by association
In a post about the stars of "Gilligan's Island", David Dalka aptly derives the power of associative branding from an amusing news item involving the prohibited pot smoking habits of now-aging hottie, actress Dawn Wells, who played one of America's favorite girls next door, Marianne. The original source, Yahoo Buzz Log cites:
The story stirred a tremendous amount of interest in Search—but not about Dawn Wells. Instead, lookups skyrocketed for Tina Louise, the va-va-voom redhead who played Ginger on the show. We registered an astonishing 13,076% rise in demand for her name (compare that to Wells' 5,860%). Just the thought of Mary Ann triggered all these luscious old memories of Ginger, Ginger's photos, and Ginger's legs. Searchers also boosted "tina louise news" and "tina louise now." What would the Professor say?
It appears that chatter about Marianne brought on more than twice as much pubescent re-collection of Ginger.
Isn't there a similar effect on sales or interest in a product when it's worn or used by a celebrity? Doesn't trade news or the popularity or notoriety of a well known competitor increase interest and demand throughout the industry? If this is true, wouldn't a salesperson's memorability be increased if he were recommended by a popular and trusted advisor?
When I ask small business owners or commission only salespeople why they cut the corporate lifeline, here are the answers I hear most:
In the same vein, lifestyle entrepreneurs have similar motivations as to the reasons for severing the umbilical cord of a regular paycheck according to Anywired blogger, Skellie:
The secret to any successful career is in how it's designed
The truth is, for most of us, the above are ideals that conflict with the first of the top 3 reasons for starting a business or becoming self-employed, the priority to make a lot of money. Most entrepreneurial careers including largely 100% commissioned sales jobs, take 2 to 5 years to establish and build into a sustainable business which allows the entrepreneur to spend a significant amount of time out of the business.
The secret is leverage
This is the difference between being self-employed and owning a business.
In applying this process to the most important job function, lead generation and sales, you must design a system which greatly reduces the time and money spent on:
Imagine being able to instantly reduce your prospecting time by 10 to 20 hours a week while increasing the number of appointments to 8 to 12 more per week with the best ideal prospects imaginable -- those who already trust you and are sold on your ability. Find out how with the FREE, innovative report, "The 10 Big Breakthroughs in a Salesperson's Life." It's the first step to creating the lifestyle of your dreams.
If book authors need websites and blogs, then so do sales people. Whether a corporate cog on a team, an independent agent or a channel account manager, each salesperson is a brand. The sales consultant's job is to hunt, meet and build relationships with people who don't know them yet in order to help them decide on what they want and be chosen to deliver that feeling, product or service.
Just as a company needs at least a static page identifying their existence, service and satisfied customers, so does a salesperson. That'll suffice and if properly executed, search optimized and linked, it will deliver information, build credibility, produce leads and sustain a message. Better yet, a salesperson can effectively blog to brand him or herself and the company.
One of the elements listed in the guide, "The 10 Biggest Breakthroughs in a Salesperson's Life," is the active pursuit of leverage to exponentially save time and increase effectiveness, volume and growth. Imagine if the information provided on the website were quadrupled and then quadrupled again and again to your target market? Imagine it another way.
Now, imagine the same idea, but instead of an electronic and static form of leverage, imagine if the power of the personal, trusted, advisor relationship were systematically leveraged? WOW.
The accruing value of art is the signature.
The residual value of a service is the contact name and number and installation or last service date. HVAC techs do it. Automobile service companies do it. Treatment companies do it. If you sell a consulting service or product, do you do it?
The 11th Breakthrough in Salesperson's Life available June 1st. Register for your FREE copy now.
If client referrals are King, then personally prearranged appointments with ideal prospects are Queen.
Whereas a great client can refer you to, let's say, 8 prospects, not unlike the range to adjacent squares for a king, a great Advisor Alliance partner can personally introduce you to 27 ideal prospects and do it again in the following 2 weeks! Of course, this is a visual analogy, and you get the point.
What's the difference between a referral from a customer and a personal introduction in the form of a scheduled appointment from a trusted Advisor Alliance partner?
Asking for and receiving client referrals should be automatic. They are one of the highest form of advocacy when properly executed. There are many blogs, companies and books on the subject of referral selling.
There's only one way to learn how to automatically receive 8 to 12 automatically scheduled appointments with ideal prospects. Email your Name, title, and business address to receive the FREE, unique report on, "The 10 Big Breakthroughs in a Salesperson's Life." I highly advise it.
At the start of most workdays, I exchange with a colleague a list of people, things and situations for which I'm grateful. This morning, he said, "There's nothing right now I'd rather do." What could be better than to be self-employed, the president of his destiny, to joyfully speak with owners and business leaders on how he can help them and their businesses? How did he arrive at this present decision?
"When I started listing my other employment alternatives, I discovered I've got it better than most people."
In other words, after looking at his choices, he decided he has a great job and intentionally focuses on what he loves about his chosen purpose.
What do you love?
In a refreshing interview with blogger, Jocelyn, at the Teen Book Review, and literary agent, Kate Schafer of KT Literary, Kate talks about what she loves about her job. When you decided to come master of your career and income, do you remember the hope Kate shares about her present experience?
Do what you cherish and the money will follow. If you aren't feeling the love right now, immediately list what you appreciate about your talents, activities and the joys in your job. Then, write a list of what you'd rather be doing and then decide on how you can get it within your present situation or get another job.
Commiting with all your power and energy to your purpose as a salesperson, an agent, an advisor, is a breakthrough in your career. To discover other breakthroughs and learn how to have them, order the remarkable FREE report, "The 10 Big Breakthroughs in a Salespersons Life."
You'd better care.
There's no better way to lose a customer or prospect than to appear indifferent.
From the very first communication, customers want to personally connect. They want to be heard and understood and expect a personal response.
What do most companies do to their future and current customers when they answer the phone? They make their customers listen to an assortment of options to then listen to yet another set of options to which they make them leave a message or indefinitely hold for the "next available customer service representative. It's OK because they first say, "your call is important to us," just not your time. It's more important that they save money by hiring less people to promptly answer your less important call.
There's no better way to win a customer for life than to compassionately fix a mistake.
I've always said, I'd much rather fix a mistake with a WOW than give the customer only what they expect. That's not to say that we don't have EXCELLENT delivery systems, but that's exactly it, they're designed to deliver beyond expectations. However, as people are the medium for which systems are designed, mistakes happen. When we make a mistake, we now have the opportunity to make them clients for life. The first thing to do is to admit the error immediately. Then, do something outrageous to fix the problem. Check out how Microsoft fixed a mistake while servicing one of their Xbox customers. My favorite comment reads:
marketing ploy by microsoft.. clearly he doesn't 'need' all that free stuff.. its just to get attention.
And what's wrong with that?
One revelation in a salesperson's life is the need to under promise and over deliver. To find out about the other 9 big turning points in a sales person's life, order your FREE, groundbreaking report, "The 10 Big Breakthroughs in a Sales Person's Life."
You've joined a Business Networking Group or "Leads Group" and you want leads now.
The fastest way to a strong advocacy can make you or break you.
Aside from Business Networking's Granddaddy, Ivan Misner, and his tips on finding the right networking partners, do business with the members. Of course, there are two ways to accomplish this:
Now if you REALLY want to get powerful leads from your referral partners, learn about Automatic Appointments. Imagine, 8 to 12 referrals a week. If 3 or 4 referrals per month is good, isn't 30 to 50 better? Is that what you want?
Did I tell you, I'm loaded? Flush. Uptown is my front yard. Rich is in my middle name (close enough).
I am outrageously, exuberantly replete. And so are you.
Imagine you are worth $100,000,000,000.
Really? OK, now, write it down and remember that it is.
How do you feel?
Now, what was it that you feared?