Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Use Testimonials to Attract Prospects and Win Sales

How often do you include testimonials in your meetings with prospects? All the time? When you remember? According to sales trainer and author Kendra Lee, they should be one of your top selling tools. A testimonial is a vote of confidence; a stamp of approval from your clients telling others they can trust you with their business. Read on for Lee's suggestions on using testimonials to close the deal.

Identify key influencers who are happy with your offerings

Everyone has access to unending stores of information about you: from your own press releases, annual reports and websites to social chatter in Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, FaceBook, iReports, Plaxo, LinkedIn, and blog postings.

Getting through prospect filters requires building their confidence in your past successes and current promises. Use your delighted customers to tell their stories, share the results they've experienced, and promote the value of working with you.

Capture quotes and examples, validate, and gain approval to use them

Beyond their satisfaction, current customer testimonials will help you build your credibility and protect your reputation. During client meetings and in email exchanges, watch and listen for expressions of their pleasure with a project and ask to quote them.

With emails, I'll frequently respond to a client with thanks for their kind words, then ask if I can quote them. I'll let them know how I want to use the quote, and if it isn't clear, will paraphrase the quote I'd like to use.

Consider capturing quotes for email signature lines, podcasts, webcast stories, article bylines, press releases, blogs, and social networks as you use them.

Check back in with us tomorrow for more advice from Kendra Lee on how to use testimonials to win more sales.

Kendra Lee is author of the award-winning book "Selling Against the Goal" and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps companies rapidly penetrate new markets, break into new accounts and shorten time to revenue with new products in the SMB segment. To find out more visit http://www.klagroup.com

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Quote of the Week

"For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future." -- John F. Kennedy

I was drawn to this quote as a reminder that although we often don't realize it, life is always changing - maybe even changing for the better.

If you're stuck in a tough situation and catch yourself dwelling on the negatives, remember that that a negative attitude can make you blind to new opportunities. With your eyes closed to the small changes happening around you, there's no way you can create a better future. Open your eyes - what small changes are happening around you right now? What can you do to be ready?


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Friday, March 27, 2009

No or Know?

Every salesperson has had a prospect say, "No" to a product, service or solution. Sales trainer Kelley Robertson suggests you question whether your prospect or customer meant "no" or "know."

"The first version (no) means they are not prepared to move forward for one reason or another," says Robertson. "The second version (know) means that the prospect simply needs to know more information. The key is to understand the difference. Here's how you can do that."

"When the prospect says, "No" respond by saying, "No problem. Tell me, what barriers are preventing you from moving forward?" Then sit back and wait for their response."

"In many cases, you will find that they haven't made the connection between how your product will help them solve a problem, the key benefits they will derive from using your product, or in some cases, they need more information about your product," explains Robertson. "In those situations, you can take a few moments to expand on your presentation and demonstrate the value of your product, service or solution."

The next time a prospect says "No" find out if they mean "No" or "Know." It could mean the difference between a sale or a "no"-sale.

As President of The Robertson Training Group, Kelley has helped thousands of professionals improve their business results with his engaging approach to sales training and speaking. Learn more at www.robertsontraininggroup.com


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Thursday, March 26, 2009

This is...

Can you quickly and confidently answer basic questions about your company? Sales and business coach Diane Helbig recently wrote about how important it is to know the basics, backwards and forwards. Take her test:

Can you answer these questions about your company?

-This is WHO we are

-This is WHO we work with

-This is HOW we do it

-This is WHAT we do

"I submit that if you don't know the answers to all of these questions, you can not sell effectively," says Helbig. "These questions speak to the core of your business."

"You must know who you are," continues Helbig. "Knowing who you are keeps you from making decisions that are bad for your company. When you know who you are, you know what your mission is, what your goals are, what you hope to achieve, and what you believe."

"If you don't know who you work with then you have no idea who your prospect base is. You'll find marketing very difficult and scattered because you won't be able to focus on a segment of people or companies."

"If you don't know how you do it, how can you explain it to a prospect? Would you buy from someone who couldn't articulate the process? And, hand in hand with this point is knowing exactly what it is you do. What is the result your prospect can expect? What is the benefit?"

"If you can't answer these questions you are not in tune with your organization, your clients, or your prospects," says Helbig. "I'd bet you are floundering and wondering why. Take a minute with a pen and pad to jot down answers to those questions. Craft your message around those answers. You'll probably get a killer 30-second commercial out of the exercise!"

Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach, and President of Seize This Day Coaching. She works one-on-one and in groups with business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. Visit her website at www.seizethisdaycoaching.com
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Build Credibility and Bigger Sales

While we always try to give you as much straight selling advice as possible, sometimes a simple story is all you need to make a point. This story from telesales expert Art Sobczak will make it clear why establishing credibility is one of the most important things you can do.

I finally gave in and bought the iPhone. Wow, what a cool device! It's so much more than a phone.

While in the Apple store, I had an interesting sales experience with one of the reps. While looking at the wall of accessories to perhaps add to the sale, I asked the rep, whom I had perceived to be quite knowledgeable and helpful to this point, what type of case he'd recommend. He told me that he personally didn't even use a case, and most of the stuff they sold was pure crap, plus if you dropped the phone, cases just protected the edges, and you'd likely be screwed anyway.

He said of course management wouldn't want him saying that, but there was no need for a case, just a film screen protector. That impressed me. I didn't want a bulky case anyway, so I was relieved that I did not really need one.

Then when I asked him about a car charger, which I really did want and need, pointed out a couple they had available, including the more expensive one he recommended, which of course I bought. Even though I knew what just happened, I did it anyway because it made sense.

I experienced what Dr. Robert Cialdini calls the Theory of Credibility in his book, Influence. That means that when credibility has been established, we tend to accept the recommendations of those making them. By obviously steering me away from spending money on something he felt I didn't need, I felt comfortable with his other suggestion.

You can do the same. Think of situations where you might lose a sale, or recommend a lower-priced product if it's in your customer's best interest. Chances are, your credibility will rise in your customer's mind, and your long-term payoff will be larger.

Sure, especially today, sales might be even harder to come by for many people. However, keep in mind that by having the customer's best interest in mind, you will always profit more in the long term.

Art Sobczak helps sales pros use the phone to prospect, service and sell more effectively, while eliminating morale-killing rejection. To get FREE weekly emailed TelE-Sales Tips visit: www.BusinessByPhone.com

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dealing with Complaints

A reader recently wrote to sales trainer Colleen Francis asking her how to deal with complaints. Knowing how to deal with an unhappy customer is a very important thing for a salesperson to be able to do, especially when an unsettling economy can make your customers more likely to complain about things that never bothered them before! Read on for her expert advice.

Step one - Get on their side. "OOOH that's terrible!" is a great starting point because it puts you on the same side of the issue with the customer and shows that you care about the complaint. Acknowledging the client's right to be upset is the first step in calming them down - especially if they are visibly upset or angry.

Step two - Thank the client for sharing the information with you. Rather than saying "I'm sorry" say "Thank you for sharing this with me". That will put the customer at ease and indicate to them that you emphasize and are about to take action.

Step three
- Make a positive action statement. Example - "Now that I know, I can take action to get something done right away" The client doesn't want sympathy or excuses, they want the problem solved.

Step four - Ask for suggestions. I like to use "Mr. Voice, what would be your ideal solution to (this problem)?" Most often the dissatisfied client will ask for something less than you would freely offer. Angry clients often react negatively to solutions that they feel they have not had any say in.

Step five - Solve the issue. "Mr. Voice thanks again for bringing this to my attention. I appreciate the opportunity to make the situation right, by.... (whatever the client and you agreed would be the solution). We want to keep you as a valuable client and I am sorry you experienced this."

Step six - Send them a thank you note and small gift. I suggest something that is NOT branded but rather something that is more personal. Maybe a Starbucks card, a book or some chocolates. Thank them again for allowing you to resolve the issue for them and for their loyalty. This show of appreciation will ensure that their next purchase is with you.

Step seven - Follow up. Conduct a quick survey to make sure the issue is still solved to their satisfaction. Wait about 10 days and make the call. Be sure to conduct this call over the phone, an email will NOT cut it. This is your chance to connect with the customer again, in a more positive communication. You will build rapport, enhance trust and gain referrals.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line. Learn more at www.EngageSelling.com


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Monday, March 23, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." -- Bill Gates

It's hard to admit, but we've all had a customer that's been unhappy with our services - whether we deserve it or not. While no one likes to look back on those situations, sometimes reflection can give us the information we need to make sure it doesn't happen again.

What could you have done differently to change the outcome? Take a look back and use what you learn to make sure you only have happy customers!


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Friday, March 20, 2009

The Art of DISqualification

How's your pipeline looking these days? Packed full? Just full enough? No matter how many active leads you have, you know they won't all buy - and that could make your pipeline a little less full than you thought. Sales trainer Skip Miller suggests you use disqualification to accurately see how many accounts you have waiting.

How to disqualify an active account:

1. What is the process of making a decision? Not who, but what. Why? Companies have a well-defined process for making a decision - it is rarely up to one person. If they can describe the decision-making process, they are more than just lookers. They have at least given it some thought.

2. What is the process for obtaining and committing budget? Again, if they can describe to you who is involved and why they would quantifiably cut the check, you may be on to something. It's not that they have a budget, that's easy, it's defining the process that's the disqualifier.

3. I-Date. What date are they going to start using what you are selling? Why couldn't it slip a month or two? What would happen if it did? Who would be affected with a slip...anybody? Everybody? The more people affected by a slip, the better chance you have. Don't focus on when they are going to sign, focus on when they are going into production with whatever you are selling.

4. Cash is king. What's the return on the investment they are making with you? How much risk or assumed risk are they thinking your solution is worth? Show them lower risk than they perceive and a quick return on their money.

Finally, the risk and the ROI numbers come from them, not from you. Ask them...they'll tell you. It's the maybe's that will kill you. Get rid of the maybe's early and shrink that pipeline down to a realistic amount. The deals are out there, just get rid of the smoke.

A recognized authority on the psychology of sales performance, Skip Miller has helped countless companies, already at the height of success in their respective fields, achieve an even greater level of sales productivity and success. Learn more at www.m3learning.com

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Avoid Business Card Blunders

Have you attended any networking events lately? Joined any new business groups? Met a new client for coffee? If you've done any of these things, then you've probably been passing out your business card. Does it make the grade?

Make sure your business card follows these guidelines set by sales trainer Renee Walkup and you'll be in good shape for your upcoming networking opportunities.

1. The name you like to be called. If your name is "Robert" and you prefer to go by "Bob", use your nickname. Otherwise, those who see your card will call you by the name you would rather not use.

2. Include your business title. People like to know what you do in a company. If your title is confusing, archaic, or just plain wrong, get a new title or order new cards. This is important.

3. Include your email address. If you want people to find you, especially customers, email is absolutely a necessity. Not just your website, but your specific email.

4. Phone numbers are critical, as well. If you have a toll free number, include that. A direct line with the extension is great, and of course, if you are extremely mobile, include your cell phone. Customers need to know how to get in touch with you.

5. Your address is important, too. Customers like to know what city and state you are in. They also want to know how far you are from their facility. If you work from home, include the corporate or branch office address. Avoid a PO Box number, unless it's essential to getting your mail there. Most people dislike working with those who don't have an address. By the same token, if you work from home, it's best not to include a home address. It doesn't look as professional "348 Homewood Court" as a business address and there may be safety reasons as to why you wouldn't want your home address on a card.

6. If there is room on the front, back or inside a fold-over card flap, include what your business does, any critical certification, or a special offer. These types of messages often are conversation-starters and help customers gain a better understanding of your business at a glance.

Renee Walkup is president of SalesPEAK Inc. and author of "Selling to Anyone Over the Phone."

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How to Stay Firm on Price

With money tight, everyone's looking for a way to pay less for the goods and services they purchase - and while it's smart to do what you can on price for a loyal client, there's a point when customers can ask for too much. What do you do when they want something you absolutely can't do? Sales trainer Mike Brooks has a strategy for dealing with this situation that will help you out.

"You can only go so low with your price, and some people will buy, and some won't. Period," says Brooks. "Continuing to lower your price not only cuts into your commissions (and company margins), it also doesn't always work. The worst part is that after you've jumped through all the hoops and your client still doesn't buy, you feel used and abused."

"That feeling is even worse than not getting the deal because it kills your confidence and makes you a weaker closer," continues Brooks. "After a few days or weeks of taking that weak attitude onto each additional call, your prospects begin to hear that defeat in your voice and you just keep getting beaten up over and over again."

"Want a better way? Adopt the attitude of the Top 20% of sales professionals and do what they do," explains Brooks. "The Top 20% know that not all prospects and clients are going to buy, and they know that staying strong and using a take away is the only way they can leave the call successfully. Here is what they say after they have made their best offer and the prospect is still trying to get them to go lower."

"Bill, I totally respect that you're trying to do what's best for your company right now, but the offer I've just made is the best I can do and still give you the (level of service, quality, value, etc.) that you'd expect and be happy with. If you can get this somewhere else and it fits within what you're willing to pay, then I'll just have to understand and hope that I can work with you next time. I'm here for you now, but the decision is up to you - what would you like to do?"

Many times calling their bluff like this will get the prospects/clients that are deals to stop hammering you for price and sign up. And those who walk? They would have walked anyway, and now when they do you'll have remained strong. Try this take away close this week, and watch your deals go up and your confidence as well. You'll go home with more money, and you'll feel better about yourself.

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, specializes in helping sales reps avoid rejection and make more money. Check out his free ezine at http://www.mrinsidesales.com/ezine.htm
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Feeling Lucky?

Forbes Magazine researched hiring patterns over a period of months to put together a list of the top recession-proof jobs. Care to guess what made it to the top of the list? That's right, sales and business development representatives are in the best position. After all, companies with ailing profits need a talented sales force to keep money coming in.

Now, doesn't that brighten your day? When you put it in perspective, I'd say we're the lucky ones. Let's get selling!


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Monday, March 16, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Great minds have purpose, others have wishes." -- Washington Irving, American Author

"Purpose" is defined by dictionary.com as "determination or resoluteness" - something we know is necessary if we want to achieve a lofty goal.

If you're working towards something big, crossing your fingers and blowing out the candles won't get you any closer than you were before you started wishing. Having purpose allows you to see what steps need to be taken so you can work steadily and achieve your goal. Begin with purpose, and you'll make it - be patient!


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Friday, March 13, 2009

What Happened When the TV Turned Off

Sales trainer Bill Caskey recently attended a Brian Tracy learning expo and came away with a new outlook that he shared in a recent blog post. Read on and try it yourself!

I heard Brian Tracy speak the other night. Since we preach "action", here is the action I took after I heard him: I've turned off my TV.

Now, I'm not a big 4-hour-a-night-TV-guy, but I found myself watching too many news shows-how bad things are-how the world is going to explode-how we're in a deep, deep recession.

Tracy Said, "You Control What Gets In Your Mind"

Actually, he didn't say it quite like that - but he made a big point of "no one is more responsible for your future than you." And with that comes 'what goes into your mind'. So I said "no more" to the news/business crap on TV. You'll never guess what happened?

I actually felt happier this week.

I worked out more. I lost 3 pounds. I played basketball for the first time in months. I made calls that I should have made months ago. I blogged more. I spent more time with my great team. And I had a more optimistic outlook on the future of our business. All from turning off the TV.

I encourage you to do the same. The media loves the "fear-scape" around the whole economic mess. Don't blame 'em. Most of them are failing out of business. They're losing so many eyeballs, they have to create fear. And they do. And they're damn good at it. And what's worse is we get sucked into it.

Customers Rely On Your Clear Head

But a salesperson is involved in a head game every hour of the day. You and I don't need anything going into our head - without our permission. Our customers rely on us to comfort them when making a big decision. They depend on our clear-headed thinking and being unemotional when recommending solutions to them. We can't let them down by being dispirited from the news.

Take Those Hours and Spend Them Differently

So, what do you do in that open spot? Listen to podcasts on business. Read self-help books. Read books on internet marketing. Catch up with other business leaders and discuss ideas on ways to grow your business. Pick up old books on goal setting, time management, writing and marketing.

Watch what happens. Abundance reappears. Detachment gets stronger. Prospects show up. As do other opportunities. And you operate with more integrity and joy.

Bill Caskey is the President of Caskey, a training firm that specializes in training and developing B2B sales teams through face to face training, teleconferencing, written materials, custom podcasts and one on one coaching. Learn more at http://caskeyone.com


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Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Great I.D.E.A. to Higher Sales!

Your customers have a lot of options in today's market - both with price and product. So why should they pick you over your competitor? You have to show them you're the best option, with the least risk and highest level of customer care. You can start showing them this right away with sales trainer Anita Sirianni's I.D.E.A. Method, an approach that helps the customer make informed decisions and helps the rep meet changes in customers' needs and expectations.


When meeting any prospect, your first job is to create interest, demonstrate professionalism and build trust. It takes an average of 30 seconds to form an impression. The approach you use is of key importance in your ability to look and sound different from the average sale representative. Pushy, misleading sales techniques are ineffective with today's savvy office staff. Offices are bombarded with over-friendly salespeople with endless offers of "revolutionary new products", "super deals" or "unbelievable prices".

Try a refreshing alternative: simply state why you are contacting them. Prepare a concise explanation of product benefits. List three of the most important unique product or service advantages. Identify why this should really be of interest to the prospect. Organize these points into a brief paragraph, then memorize it. Share these benefits during your initial contact and throughout the sales presentation.


Providing a prescription before a diagnosis is called malpractice! Treatment, in the form of products and services should be presented or recommended AFTER a complete understanding of the problem is determined. Sound logical? Yet, how many sales presentations have you begun with the features and benefits of your product? Professional selling is not controlling the customer into a corner with manipulative phrases. Professional selling is uncovering or 'diagnosing' problems then recommending or 'prescribing' solutions.

Take a consultative approach, first determine the customer's problem, interest or need. Prepare a list of information about a prospect's objectives, qualification and eligibility to invest in your product or service. Include points the customer must consider in order to fully explore his needs, preferences and desires. Create open-ended questions in each area of interest. After your introduction, ask the customer these "diagnostic" questions in an interview style. Your interest in the customer will be a big compliment, while the questions will deliver maximum information and clearly establish you as a credible sales consultant. Peter Drucker said it best, "My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions."


Professional selling is not just presenting features and benefits of your product. Professional selling is delivering ideas and information that address the customer's real needs. Focus your selling efforts to inform, educate and be of customer service. For best results, support product claims with research, expert testimony and relative data. Build enthusiasm and interest by sharing the success and experience of similar customers. Avoid outlandish claims and exaggerated product performance promises.


When your product or service represents an appropriate solution, you have the responsibility, as a product, service or technical expert, to recommend it. When an alternative product is a better solution, recommend it. Don't throw away the respect, trust and interest you have built with the customer with manipulative closing techniques. Simply restate your product or service recommendation, review payment or ordering options then request a decision.

"Professional selling does not push," says Sirianni. "Professional selling leads. Top sales performers succeed with the intent to be of service and contribution to their clients. Lead customers with the I.D.E.A. Approach and money, recognition and accomplishment will follow."

Anita Sirianni, The Professional Sales Coach, is an informative and entertaining speaker, trainer and consultant. As President of ANSIR International she has helped hundreds of sales representatives maximize their sales success. Visit www.anitasirianni.com for more information.


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Building bridges where other salespeople knock them down

Here's a quick tip from sales trainer Al Uszynski to keep in mind if you're feeling rejected.

"When the sales opportunity that was "a sure thing" turns into a rejection from the prospect, it's common for salespeople to treat the prospect with a cold demeanor," says Uszynski. "When your prospect is informing you that you've officially lost the sale - and there are no more actions you can take to win it back - be sure to express your sincere disappointment, but do it in a way that causes the customer to want to call you back when they need your services."

"Handle these situations professionally and be sure to reassert your interest in doing business with the prospect in the future," continues Uszynski. "Do this right and you'll be the one that gets called upon when your competitor messes up."

Al Uszynski is a results-focused sales trainer and professional speaker. His proven, quick-start sales training program, "15 Ways to Grow Your Sales Tomorrow" helps sales professionals ignite immediate sales growth. Learn more by visiting www.Uszynski.com.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Be Memorable

Do you watch American Idol? It's one of the most popular shows in America, so I'm guessing there's a good chance you do! Sales trainer and speaker Tim Rohrer watches the show, which has given him a few tips you can apply to your sales. Now you can say you're educating yourself while you watch TV - not a bad thing at all!

I am watching American Idol and I am bored. Now it is Simon's turn to critique another generic singer.

He says, "The problem is that you are completely forgettable."

Exactly. Although there are thirty-six finalists, maybe three of them are memorable. This is bad news for the other thirty-three and bad news for the show (but that is another story for another day).

Here is the deal - when you gain the stage you have to put on a show. The performance must be outstanding. You must be memorable!

Selling is all about memorable performances - especially in person. Unfortunately, just like American Idol, I would say that only about one in ten of us puts on a memorable performance when we have the opportunity.

Simon recently said to a contestant, "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'm afraid that you've blown it."

If sellers heard this more often from either their sales managers or their clients we would see real improvement. Because, unlike American Idol we get "once in a lifetime" opportunities all the time.

Here is what you must do the next time you have a once in a lifetime opportunity in front of a very important prospect:

1) Spend less time on the content of your presentation

a) You can do the content in your sleep and
b) No one really needs a better set of power point slides
2) Pick out a really great outfit
a) Ask somebody with style to give you some advice on an accessory that adds flair but
b) Stay away from goofy stuff
3) Work on the dynamics of the presentation to make it different for the prospect. Here are some ideas:
a) Add some music to your show - recorded is good but live is better
b) Think about using an appropriate and memorable quote
c) Bring a surprise guest
d) Have a unique 'leave behind' that will spur memories of your performance
4) Do a complete dress rehearsal in front of an audience

Selling is a competition. To win more frequently, you must be more memorable.

A recognized leader in sales, sales management and sales training, Tim Rohrer is available for speaking engagements and consulting. Contact him at [email protected] and check out his blog at http://salesandmarketingloudmouth.com

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching." -- Thomas Jefferson

No matter how small the task, give it your best. If you always act like someone's watching you'll do work you can be proud of - and the results will show in your sales!


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Friday, March 6, 2009

Expand Your Circle

"There is safety in numbers." A very true statement if you're out in the woods, and if you're in sales, says sales trainer Adrian Miller. "Make it a weekly goal to meet ten new contacts", suggests Miller. "The more people you can connect with, the more sales you'll make, and the less likely you'll be affected by the economic downturn."

Go to Networking Events

Too many people think that they're above having to attend networking get-togethers. Interestingly, these are the same people who are complaining about their lagging business. Commit yourself to attending events at least twice a month. Sure, you might generate some new business, but just as importantly, you may be able to provide help to someone who also needs a leg up.

Become Active in a Group/Committee/Association

Undoubtedly, you're a member of at least one industry association or business group. While you may have ignored their email invitations to events when times were good, you could probably benefit from their support now.

Show Some Appreciation

Now is the time to thank all of those loyal existing clients who have given you business through the years. Be generous with your appreciation, and you might just drum up some new sales.

Work Your Database

Make it a daily plan to start reaching out to everyone on your database. Begin with the smaller accounts and work upwards so that you don't miss anyone!

Reactivate Dormant Accounts and Cross-sell Everyone

Haven't heard from a customer in a while? Give them a call, send them an email, or even invite them to an event or function. Just don't let them drop off of your radar. If you're making assumptions about what your customers want and need, you're missing out on valuable opportunities to cross sell. Always provide information on all that you have to offer, and let them decide what they want to buy.

Adrian Miller is the President of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a training and business consulting firm delivering sales training and executive-level business development consulting. A nationally recognized lecturer, she is also a sought-after conference speaker, and an accomplished author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success".

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Be Careful What You Offer

In this economy, we're all feeling the pinch. That can make us anxious to bend over backwards to appease prospects. While it's important to keep your clients happy, you don't want to cut into your profit by giving things away. Take this advice from sales trainer Mark Hunter and think before you commit to that freebie.

"When the market gets soft and sales become a little harder to come by, it's easy to start flinching at every hesitation you see from a prospect," says Hunter. "The problem is that each time you acknowledge a flinch by the customer, you make another commitment and give them something extra. At the time you may think it's critical to close the sale, but it rarely is, especially when what you end up offering the customer is something they really don't need."

"Think about this for a moment: if you were offered something for free, would you turn it down? No, you'd accept what's being offered, but you may not place much value in it. In fact, you may not even use what was given to you. In the same way, your customer will readily accept what you offer them, but they may not place any value on it. The end result? You cut into your profit and, in some situations, wind up making a sale with no profit at all because of the little extras that were offered up along the way."

Contact Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter for your next Conference or Sales Meeting. To see and hear Mark Hunter now visit www.TheSalesHunter.com

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to Succeed as Number Two

When things are bad, sometimes the only thing you can do is try to look at the situation differently. This has helped me at many points in my life, and sales trainer Kelley Robertson has the same idea. Take his advice for when you're in the number two vendor position - it could move you to number one!

Many salespeople (and companies) feel that it is critical to be the main supplier of a product or service; that being the number two vendor is not acceptable. Here's a slightly different perspective:

What if you are the second preferred supplier?

Does that not give you a golden opportunity to demonstrate your strengths and be ready to pounce when your competitor drops the ball or makes a mistake?

Many suppliers take their customer for granted. As a result, they lose focus and direct more of their attention to new prospects. As the number two supplier, you can take advantage of this.

Demonstrate how you can be of value, before you get the first order. Send your prospect valuable information that will help her in her business. Information about market trends, how to improve something in her business, ideas on becoming more competitive. Think outside the norm. Get creative. Be different. Send this information as email, snail mail, postcards, white papers, articles, etc.

Eventually, your prospect will notice how much you're doing and how little your competitor is doing so you may get a small order to start. Ace that order and you are now in position to unseat your competitor.

As President of The Robertson Training Group, Kelley has helped thousands of professionals improve their business results with his engaging approach to sales training and speaking. Learn more at www.robertsontraininggroup.com

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Go for the Gold-Fish

Anne Miller writes "The Metaphor Minute," an excellent newsletter that helps salespeople use metaphors and language to their benefit. In a recent issue she shared the story of someone who was having a hard time getting his prospect to sign the papers. An initial agreement was reached, until he suddenly disappeared. So what did the salesperson do? He used metaphors, and some unusual gifts, to reach his prospect creatively. Read this and then throw a little creativity into your sales.

Tom Sant, founder of the proposal software firm The Sant Corporation, was in such a situation and finally hit upon the solution that got him that signed contract.

He sent not-so-subtle metaphoric hints in the form of various props. One day, his client received a small box of the goldfish snacks with this message: "You can catch more fish, if you put more hooks (proposals) in the water." Another day, the client received a glue pot and a pair of scissors with the message: "Cut and paste is for kids. Professionally prepared proposals are for adults." The client loved these creative messages, took the hints, and called Tom to say he got the point and was ready to sign the contract.

Lesson for All Metaphorians

"If in doubt about using a prop, test your idea on a couple of people first," says Miller. "You'll find that props appropriately used can be wonderful communication tools. They surprise, they amuse, they dramatize. At a time when buyers have lots of choices, they can distinguish both you and your message and get you the results you want."

Anne Miller is a popular sales and presentations expert and author of the book, Metaphorically Selling: How to Use the Magic of Metaphors to Sell, Persuade, & Explain Anything to Anyone. Her free newsletter is available at www.AnneMiller.com.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else." -- Peter F. Drucker

Do you know when you do your best work? For me, getting into the office early is the best way to get things done. I like the quiet, and can focus better, getting more done in an hour than I would in two hours in the middle of the day.

This week, pay attention to your work habits, so you can find your best "focus" time during the day. Then reconfigure your day to maximize your time. After all, who doesn't like doing more work in less time?


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