Sales advice, recommendations and interesting, useful and fun news from the world of selling!
Friday, August 31, 2007
A Sales Lesson From Miss Teen USA
One of the most popular videos on the web right now is from this week's Miss Teen USA pageant. In the final round of competition, Miss South Carolina, Caitlin Upton was asked her final question - to which she responded with a long, babbling, wandering discussion that had nothing to do with the question asked.
It's painful to watch (just watch the video below), but doing the same thing in a sales presentation is just as painful - for the client.
"Information is like food: some is good, but too much is not necessarily better," explains Michelle Nichols, founder of Savvy Selling International and contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets. "When they ask you a question, respond with an overview, then ask what they'd like to know more about. For example, if you provide copying services and receive an inquiry, you could explain that you offer a wide variety of solutions, including A, B, and C. Then you might ask what copying services the prospect uses right now, and outline how your offerings are similar or different. Later, you might ask if he has ever considered using some of the services you offer that he didn't mention. Pace yourself."
So, next time you're tempted to recite your entire list of products, or list features until you're blue in the face, remember Michelle's advice or you too could end up on YouTube.
A Florida couple received this unintended slight when Spirit Airlines' CEO hit "reply all" instead of forwarding their e-mail to an employee. The couple, already upset about missing a concert due to a flight delay, posted the e-mail on a blog that has been discussing the airline:
From: Ben Baldanza [mailto: [email protected]] Sent: Monday, August 20, 2007 1:02 PM To: Christy; Martin; John; Pasquale Subject: Re: Complaint
Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I'm concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He's never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.
Yikes! As this story illustrates, it's all too easy to slip up on the Internet. While your e-mail mistakes may not put you in a media hot seat, they do make a poor impression on prospects.
"Wanting to respond quickly is no excuse for poor grammar, misspellings, and bad form," warns Tina LoSasso, Managing Editor of SalesDog.com, and contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets. "Proofread your response carefully before sending it out. It's easy to miss errors on a computer screen. Try this: print out your draft and read it aloud to catch any mistakes, missed words, or poor syntax."
A final word of caution: Don't enter the recipient's e-mail address until you have written and proofread your e-mail.
Got a great e-mail tip? Share it by posting a comment.
As an editor at SalesDog.com I cannot tell you how many sales newsletters and blog feeds I read on a daily basis. My e-mail box is inundated with sales tips from around the world - all so we can continue to bring you the very best advice and strategies to improve your sales.
That being said, one of the best sales and business blogs I've come across is that of Bill Brooks. A well-known author, sales trainer and contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets, Bill and his staff have put together a fantastic resource that gives you practical advice, product recommendations and of course Bill's famous sales truths. It's regularly updated, well-written and packed full of information.
"Samson killed a thousand men with the jaw bone of an ass. That many sales are killed every day with the same weapon." - Unknown
Take a minute to think about what you're missing by jumping into your sales pitch before listening to your customer. Sales guru Ari Galper has done just that.
As Ari states in Top Dog Sales Secrets, "Most of us work hard to distance ourselves from the negative image of a high-pressure salesperson. By launching into a discussion about our product before we've established integrity and trust, we create pressure, which inevitably causes prospective clients to retreat." Ari offers a solution to this common problem, saying "Instead of relying on your product knowledge to spark prospect interest, try creating a conversation focused solely on discovering if prospective clients have a problem they want solved, and if they'll consider allowing you to solve it."
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Is walking into a sales meeting "naked" the dress-for-success fashion statement of the future? "Absolutely," says Jill Konrath, one of 50 sales experts featured in Top Dog Sales Secrets.
"Salespeople frequently rely heavily on brochures, samples and PowerPoints," Konrath says. "They hide inside those tools as if they were suits of armor. Leave them behind," she advises. "By walking into a sales call stark raving naked, in a manner of speaking, they focus on the prospect's business and engage in a real discussion with the customer instead of a pitch meeting. The result is almost always increased sales."
Konrath's "naked-selling" technique is just one of the 80 sales lessons in Top Dog Sales Secrets, authored by 50 renowned sales leaders, consultants and high-powered corporate trainers. Click here to buy it now.
Use a 5 X 7 mirror positioned next to your telephone to make sure you're smiling throughout the entire sales call. It makes a huge difference. You'll always make more money when you're smiling!
This Salesdog quick tip was brought to you by sales trainer, speaker and coach Jim Meisenheimer, one of 50 top experts featured in Top Dog Sales Secrets.For more great tips, check out his website at www.meisenheimer.com
A mother of six sold a pack of Pokemon cards for $142.51 - that's one pack - and it was opened to boot. How did she do it? By involving prospects in her story of how she came to own the cards. Her eBay post received 14,000 hits and had over 800 people watching it. People were so sold on her, and her story, that they dramatically overbid the item and she received three job offers.
What's the sales lesson here?
Compelling stories sell. "People are conditioned to resist a sales pitch, but no one can resist a god story," says presentation guru Patricia Fripp in Top Dog Sales Secrets. "Give your stories interesting characters and dialogue, plus a dramatic lesson your prospects can relate to. Don't say 'Certain companies have used our software.' Don't even say, 'IBM has used our software.' Instead, say 'Joe Smith at IBM told me, 'If we don't increase sales turnover by 20%, we won't make our projections.'"
Buying gas in San Diego is always an interesting experience. Not only is this a commuter city with limited public transportation, it's also an expensive city - the gas prices reflect that, and you never know what you're going to get at the pump.
Lucky for the gas companies, they don't have to speak directly to their customers when they raise prices. Unfortunately, at some time, you as a salesperson may have to do so.
Dave Kahle is a veteran of communicating price increases. Here's some of Dave's advice to help you make the transition with ease.
How do you manage to pass on a price increase without losing business or giving away margin dollars? Anxiety abounds: "Will the customer refuse to accept it? Or solicit prices from a competitor? Will I have to give away gross margin and absorb the price increase in order to keep the business?" These kinds of doubts lead to anxious and intimidated salespeople, declining sales and shrinking margins.
Here's a series of seven specific ideas to help you effectively manage price increases.
1. Set up the situation.
The announcement of an 8% price increase on a major product line shouldn't come unexpectedly out of the blue. Of course the customer is going to react strongly to the suddenness of the information. Nobody likes to receive price increases, and even worse, nobody likes to receive them without any indication that they are coming.
It's like the day I received a bill for health insurance which was 60% higher than the previous month was. No prior notice, no hint of the increase, no letter explaining it was on the way, no preparation - just a much higher premium. I reacted conventionally, and immediately picked up the phone to complain and solicit other sources. The sudden nature of the bad news fueled my negative reaction just as much as the details of the increase.
Don't let that happen to your customers. Don't wait until the price increase is a fait accompli to inform the customer. Weeks before, have a conversation with that customer about the trends in the economy toward more price increases. Share the big picture with him. Then mention other price increases that you have received in the past few months. Be specific with names of manufacturers and products to which he can relate. Mention the soaring price of oil and the inevitable downstream effect that has on all kinds of products. Mention that you are expecting an increase from XYZ component or manufacturer.
Build into your customer the general expectation that prices are going to go up, so that when the deal happens, he isn't blind sided by the information.
For the rest of Dave Kahle's tips for communicating price increases, click here.
Dave Kahle is a consultant and trainer who helps his clients increase their sales and improve their sales productivity. He speaks from real world experience, having been the number one salesperson in the country for two companies in two distinct industries. Dave has trained thousands of salespeople to be more successful in the Information Age economy. He's the author of over 1,000 articles, a monthly ezine, and six books including: 10 Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople and Transforming Your Sales Force for the 21st Century. He has a gift for creating powerful training events that get audiences thinking differently about sales.
His "Thinking About Sales" Ezine features content-filled motivating articles, practical tips for immediate improvements, useful resources and helpful tips to help increase sales. Join for NOTHING on-line at www.davekahle.com/mailinglist.htm.
You can reach Dave by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 800-331-1287. Check out his website at www.davekahle.com
When was the last time you bought something from someone you didn't trust? If you're like most people you only buy from those you trust. Sales trainer and human behavior expert John Boe has some useful advice on how to establish trust so you can make the sale.
Use active listening skills. The quickest way to destroy trust and rapport is to dominate the conversation. Successful salespeople take notes, listen attentively, and avoid the temptation to interrupt, criticize, or argue. To develop and encourage conversation, use open-ended questions to probe the meaning behind your prospect's statements. Occasionally repeat your prospect's words verbatim. By restating their key words or phrases you not only clarify communication, but also build rapport.
Adjust to your prospect's temperament style. Research indicates people are born into one of four primary temperament styles: aggressive, expressive, passive, or analytical. Each of these four styles requires a unique approach and selling strategy. For example, if you are selling to the impatient, aggressive style, they prefer a short warm up and expect a quick, bottom line presentation. While at the other extreme, the cautious, analytical style is slow to warm up and is interested in every detail. Once you learn how to identify each of the four primary styles, you will be able to close more sales in less time by adjusting to your prospect's buying style.
Sales trainer Al Uszynski explains how an overused phrase can actually hurt your sales.
"To be honest with you ..."
Why do people feel the need to announce their honesty? Does this mean that they're lying otherwise? Generally, people use this phrase to set up a statement that might be inconsistent with the goals they are trying to achieve, for example, "To be honest with you, our competitor's system is somewhat faster."
The alternative is to omit the "be honest" phrase altogether and get to the point. If you feel compelled to announce that you are being upfront, Al suggests replacing the phrase with one word - candidly. It's simple and it focuses more on spontaneity than honesty. As Al so rightly says, "It goes without saying that we should always be honest - and when we are, it's much easier to remember what we've said!"
Al Uszynski is one of 50 top experts featured in Top Dog Sales Secrets. Al has over 17 years' experience as a sales professional. From sales rep to national sales manager, he has sold for small companies and big companies alike. Today he provides customized training programs for clients like Bloomberg, Philadelphia Weekly and Hunter Douglas. You can reach Al by visiting his website or by calling him at 877-49-SALES.
"Much like dancing, the fine art of the handshake takes practice," says Michael Dalton Johnson. "Stand before a mirror and extend your hand. Check to see if you're projecting an image of confidence, warmth and enthusiasm. Keep in mind that your handshake reflects your personality, and should be a spontaneous gesture of friendly greeting that comes naturally from within," he advises. "With a little rehearsal, you will develop the ability to tailor your handshake to every situation you face, and each individual you meet."
We've got the experts with the answers. Submit your sales questions to us and we'll get you an answer from one of our experts. Just click on the "Ask an Expert" link to the right to submit your question. Our expert will contact you directly with an answer. We'll post your question and their answer on this blog so that everyone can learn.
It is fitting that Ben Franklin is on the $100 bill - he's the epitome of hard work and thriftiness. His lessons were immensely popular during his time and still apply to modern salespeople. I've picked some gems to share with you - enjoy!
-Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of. Wasting time must be the greatest prodigality, since lost time is never found again.
-If you have something to do tomorrow, do it today.
-Drive thy business, let not it drive thee.
-There are no gains without pains.
-Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee.
-If you want a faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself.
What sales activity do you dread the most? If you're like most sales professionals, it's cold calling. Picking up the phone and talking with a perfect stranger (who has the power to reject you) can strike fear in the heart of even the most confident salesperson.
Fortunately, Wendy Weiss, "The Queen of Cold Calling" (and one of the featured authors in Top Dog Sales Secrets) has outlined 8 strategies to guarantee your cold calling success.
Cold Calling Strategy #1: Make telephone calls
No one will buy from you if they do not know of you, your company/products/services. Every sale has its own cycle. Depending on what you are selling, it could be a short cycle of a day or two, or it could be a long cycle of a year or two. Your call is your introduction and the start of your entire sales process. Without that initial prospecting call, you will not close any sales.
Wendy Weiss is a former ballet dancer who set appointments for clients as her day job. She was so effective, one of her clients dubbed her the "Queen of Cold Calling." The title stuck. When injuries sidelined her dance career, Wendy transformed her day job into a full-time career as a sales trainer, coach and author. Her clients include ADP, Avon and Sprint.
"The information is strong and the delivery right to the point. This book is equally as important for someone just starting in sales as it is for the accomplished sales professional. From picking up the phone for cold calls to complex negotiations with Fortune 500 firms, this book has something for everyone. If you have not read it, READ IT! If you have read it, recommend it to someone you want to see have a flourishing sales career. Top Dog Sales Secrets is a veritable "field guide" for anyone battling in the world of professional selling. Lastly, the table of contents makes this book a great reference source to keep on your desk or on a shelf in your office."
Mark J. Dougherty Director, Financial Services CoStar
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