Sales advice, recommendations and interesting, useful and fun news from the world of selling!
Monday, August 31, 2009
Quote of the Week
"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." -- Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State
While you may not help being pessimistic, being an optimist will get you much farther in the office. It will help you get through the day easier, keep you motivated, and help you avoid the time-suckers complaining in the break room.
Being an optimist will also bring positive help to your side. Need help with an order or a favor from customer service? People are more likely to help a positive, optimistic person than someone who freaks at the slightest problem because they can only see the negatives. In addition to the help you'll get, your clients will be impressed with the team you've assembled that's more than willing to help them when necessary.
Sometimes the littlest things make all the difference. We're sure you know by now that listening to everything a customer has to say before responding is an essential. But did you know that taking a small pause after they finish and before you start speaking is just as essential? Probably not! Today sales expert Brian Tracy shares with us the impact of the pause.
"All excellent listeners are masters of the pause," explains Tracy. "They are comfortable with silences. When the other person finishes speaking, they take a breath, relax and smile before saying anything. They know that the pause is a key part of good communications."
Three Benefits of Pausing Pausing before you speak has three specific benefits. The first is that you avoid the risk of interrupting the prospect if he or she has just stopped to gather his or her thoughts. Remember, your primary job in the sales conversation is to build and maintain a high level of trust, and listening builds trust. When you pause for a few seconds, you often find the prospect will continue speaking. He will give you more information and further opportunity to listen, enabling you to gather more of the information you need to make the sale.
Carefully Consider What You Just Heard The second benefit of pausing is that your silence tells the prospect that you are giving careful consideration to what he or she has just said. By carefully considering the other person's words, you are paying him or her a compliment. You are implicitly saying that you consider what he or she has said to be important and worthy of quiet reflection. You make the prospect feel more valuable with your silence. You raise his self-esteem and make him feel better about himself.
Understanding With Greater Efficiency The third benefit of pausing before replying is that you will actually hear and understand the prospect better if you give his or her words a few seconds to soak into your mind. The more time you take to reflect upon what has just been said, the more conscious you will be of the their real meaning. You will be more alert to how his words can connect with other things you know about the prospect in relation to your product or service.
"When you pause, not only do you become a more thoughtful person, but you convey this to the customer," says Tracy. "By extension, you become a more valuable person to do business with. And you achieve this by simply pausing for a few seconds before you reply after your prospect or customer has spoken."
Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations. As a Keynote speaker and seminar leader, he addresses more than 250,000 people each year. Learn more at www.briantracy.com
Are you, by nature, a curious person? Sales trainer Bill Caskey posed that question in a recent blog post, going on to say that, "Having worked with thousands of sales people - and hundreds of managers - I honestly believe it is a pre-requisite to income success to be curious."
Answer these self-reflection questions from Caskey to determine your curiosity level, then read on to find out why curiosity is so important for a successful salesperson.
--When someone says to you that they have mastered something - or they are experiencing success in a field that you, too, would like to have success - do you sit them down and pepper them (nicely) with questions? --When you've learned that someone has figured out a way to get to the CEO, do you stop them in their tracks and invite them to dinner? --When you're at a sales meeting, and you learn one of your associates has figured out how to find the pain of the customer better, do you handcuff them until they tell you EXACTLY how they did it?
"You probably don't," says Caskey. "And I'm not sure why that is. Is it because we'll feel stupid? Is it because we wouldn't want to puff up the other person? Is it because we'd rather do it the hard way, learning it on our own, rather than the easy way - learning from someone who's done it? Is there some kind of guilt that kicks in when we get the shortcut?"
"So the next time you hear of someone who has been successful at something, call them up, congratulate them, and invite them to tell you EXACTLY how they did it. It will make you rich."
Bill Caskey is a sales development leader and experimenter. His ideas about selling are convictions about life, money, and meaning. He has coached sales professionals and executives for over 19 years. To learn more, visit his website www.CaskeyTraining.com.
Are you on Twitter? One of the fastest growing forms of social media, you can find almost anyone on it publishing their thoughts to the world - including us! Click here to follow our Managing Editor, Tina LoSasso (aka LadySalesDog) on Twitter.
One of the things that makes Twitter so engaging is how easy it is to keep up with others, and how easy it is for you to get a quick thought out to your readers. Of course, that also means it's very easy to post something you shouldn't without taking the time to think about the consequences. Sales trainer Mark Hunter, (who's also on Twitter!) has a compelling story that will make you think twice before your next tweet.
"Watch what you say on Twitter," says Hunter. "The other day, I received a tweet from a person complaining about a customer they lost and they even mentioned the company's name. STUPID is the first word that comes to my mind. We have all read about times where somebody in some faraway place gets in trouble for saying something publicly that should have been said privately (or not said at all!). Yet, I saw this first-hand in my circle of tweeters."
"As tempting as it is to vent on Twitter or any other social media site, you do so at great risk. Sales is about creating relationships. Even though you may say you could not care less about the company you want to blast in a tweet or other posting, you're subsequently telling the world that they could be the next one you blast. It all goes without saying: Be careful about what you post and never ever post anything before you have really thought it through."
Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter," helps individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. As a keynote speaker, he is best known for his ability to motivate and move an organization through his high-energy presentations. Learn more at www.TheSalesHunter.com
With August winding down, it's time for the kids to head back to school - and for any salespeople still dreaming of vacation mode to snap out of it. We're closing in on Q4, and you've got goals to meet!
That being said, we've got a great article from sales trainer Colleen Francis to help get you out of vacation mode and back to your sales goals. Print out these top six traits of successful salespeople and put them up right by your computer. You'll be inspired to get back to work, and to sell more than ever!
1. Work smart and effectively They intention, they plan and they take action. They take time to play. They get up early, rarely complain. While expecting performance from others, they expect extraordinary performance from themselves. Repeated, high-level success starts with recognition that hard work pays off.
2. Are curious and eager to learn They study, ask questions, read and learn - constantly! They apply and/or take advantage of what they learn. Repeated success is not about memorizing facts, it's about being able to take information and create, build, or use it in new and resourceful ways. Successful people want to learn everything about everything!
3. Work on themselves Socrates said 'Know Thyself.' Really successful people work on their personality, leadership skills, management skills, and every other detail of life. When a relationship or business deal goes sour, they learn from what happened and do better next time. Successful people don't accept flaws; they fix them!
4. Are self-reliant and take responsibility Successful people don't worry about blame. They don't waste time complaining and they take responsibility for all their results good or bad. They make decisions and move on. Extremely successful people take the initiative, take action and accept the responsibilities for their decisions and the results. Your clients want to deal with agents, not victims. The buck stops with you. Own up to your results and if you don't like them don't worry. If you change your actions you can change your results... if you take action immediately. The decision to change is yours.
5. Respond wisely to change Even in times of stress or turmoil, highly successful people keep their balance. They know the value of timing, humor, patience and being prepared. Extraordinarily successful people breathe easily, ask questions, and make quick decisions, even in a crisis. Unsuccessful people resist change. They are frightened by change and prefer the "devil they know." Highly successful people embrace change because they know that change can bring new and better results. What are you doing everyday to create a new and improved result? What changes do you make when you don't like your results. Remember. If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.
6. Take action! When an investment isn't working out, they sell. When they see an opportunity, they make the call. If an important relationship is cooling down, they take time to renew it. When technology, a new competitor or a change in the economic situation requires an adjustment, they are the first and quickest to respond. Business does not stop and wait until you make a decision. Act now and take advantage of what all opportunities hold. You will not be disappointed. This trait above all else will propel you to success. 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. Start improving your results today with Engage's online Newsletter Engaging Ideas and a FREE 7 day intensive sales eCourse: www.EngagingIdeasOnline.com.
"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm." -- Publilius Syrus
Are you going through a tough time at work right now? Instead of feeling defeated and giving in to the "Why me?" attitude, think of your tough situation as an opportunity to show your value to your boss. Great work during hard times is even more impressive than great work during great times.
Same goes for a tough situation with one of your clients - if you can take the problem, deal with it calmly, and find a solution, they'll see you as someone they can count on. This is invaluable in the business world, so get out there and start proving your worth!
A reader of Colleen Francis' sales blog recently asked her the best way to stay in touch with a customer without sounding like you're trying to sell something every time. Often times a long sales process necessitates you check back in - but you better not say you're calling to check in! Use these tips from Francis instead.
Try incorporating the following 5 habits into your sales regimen:
1. Plan regular contacts with all your customers. According to the American Marketing Association, people can handle up to 200 contacts per year. Even I think that might be a little overkill, so how about agreeing to contact your clients once every two weeks? This will help guarantee that your clients never get the chance to forget who you are or slip away unnoticed.
2. Never multi-task when talking to a customer. I can't stress this enough. In the era of BlackBerry's, cell phones and Bluetooth, we all think we can do a thousand things at once. If you're checking your email or updating your schedule while on the phone with a client, believe me - they can tell! Whether you're with your client in person or on the phone, give them your full attention. Turn off the cell phone, email or PDA and stay focused on the person you're actually talking to. This won't result in you missing out on other opportunities. It will increase your likelihood of getting more business from the customer you're with!
3. Show your sincere appreciation. Every time a customer buys something from you, gives you a referral or goes out of their way for you, don't just sit back and expect that they will continue to do so in the future. Acknowledge what they have done and thank them for their business, assistance or generosity. Remember: reciprocity is, by definition, a two-way street. When people give you something and you don't acknowledge it, most of them will think long and hard before helping you again.
4. If you haven't heard from a client because they are out of the office, busy, sick, traveling or just plain ignoring you, don't stop trying to reach them. Keeping the lines of communication open will maximize the chances that you will get a response when the person is better positioned to give you one. If your usual methods of communicating aren't working, try something innovative, like sending a message by courier, fax or snail mail. Sometimes simply shaking up the way you communicate is enough to recapture a client's attention.
5. Last and most definitely not least, always think of your clients first and put their needs ahead of your own. This doesn't have to be a grand gesture or heroic act of self-sacrifice. The next time you read an article that you think might interest your client, just send it along to them with a little note (if appropriate) that says: "I thought this might be of interest to you."
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. Start improving your results today with Engage's online Newsletter Engaging Ideas and a FREE 7 day intensive sales eCourse: www.EngagingIdeasOnline.com.
A Simple Lesson From the NFL to Close More Business
The NFL Football Season is underway, and sales trainer Mike Brooks couldn't be happier - he loves the sport, and what he learns from it about performance and being the best. Read on for some great advice that will help you close more sales - touchdown!
"I read a piece by Peter King from SI.com about his conversation with Ellis Hobbs - former cornerback with the New England Patriots," says Brooks. "He was talking about how much respect he had for head coach Bill Belichick."
He said, "Early in my career, Bill called me into his office, and we sat there - for a long time - studying film. He taught me to look for the simple things, and not to make football so complicated. I got better. I was with one of the best coaches of all time, and he helped me become a better player." In sales, too, you can become a better producer if you concentrate on the simple things and doing them better. Here are two things you can do starting today to increase your closing ratio and make more money:
1) Keep a record of the reasons your prospects don't close and then concentrate on qualifying these issues up front with future prospects. This was one of the simplest and most effective habits I developed to get better.
I kept a notebook with all my prospects in it and every time they didn't buy, I'd put in red ink the reason why not. I even boiled it down to three codes: NI, for No Interest; NM for No Money; and NC for Not Controllable. Throughout the weeks and months, I'd go back through my notebook and look for patterns and ask myself, "What do I need to focus on during the qualification stage?"
If too many prospects were not buying because they simply weren't ready to buy right, then "No Interest" needed to be addressed on the front call. I'd start by asking more questions like: "Prospect, if you find that this would work for you, what is your time frame for moving ahead with it?"
And so on. Bottom line - if you don't get it right on the front end then you'll never increase your closing ratio.
2) Ask for bigger orders on every close. Oh I know, you've heard this before, right? But how often do you actually do it? So many sales reps are afraid to ask for too much and are just happy to get a minimum order. I know because I used to be that way.
My career turned around when I began asking for big orders on every single call. What I learned is that you never know how much a person or company can handle. You can always go down (in price, quantity, etc.), but you can never go up.
The truth is, it's all the same amount of work anyway, so why not ask for 2 times, or 3 times the minimum order and see what you get! If only one in ten of your prospects buy the increased amount, how much more money would that mean to you?
The fun part about consistently asking for more is that you'll end up getting more - and every time you do, you reinforce the habit to do it. As soon as you get a taste of closing bigger deals, you begin looking for and expecting them. Try it and you'll see for yourself - it's one of the simplest things you can do to make a lot more money.
So there you have it - two simple ways of closing more business and making more money. Just remember, as you're reading this the NFL players and coaches are working on the simple things to improve. You should be doing so, too! 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
Sales trainer Tibor Shanto, like many, is a firm believer in calling as high up in a company as you possibly can. The problem is, even if you have a good conversation with the VP or CEO, often they will refer you to someone farther down the chain of command to talk in more detail. What should you do to make sure the sale doesn't go down from there? Take Shanto's advice and your call to the top will stay a top priority.
There are three things you must do to fully benefit from an executive referral, sequence here is recommended:
1. Thank them for the referral, then say something along the lines of "Mr. Brown, thank you for suggesting I talk specifically to Steve Howe, just so I am better prepared, is Steve gathering info for a recommendation, or is he in a position to make a final decision?" If Brown tells you Steve will be recommending, then you are in a position to probe who is getting the recommendation about their buying process and a whole bunch of other things that can only help. Not to mention the benefit of having that knowledge in case Steve is one of these "I'm the man" types, pretending to be able to make decisions till you put paper in front of them. Wouldn't you rather know, such a simple question, one that executive will have the answer to and will provide it when asked.
Some reps get hung up and ask me, "Can you really ask a president that?" Well I checked in all 32 states and 8 provinces that I have worked in and it's legal, so check with your local legislature and then it's down to you. Further, if you ask the question directly, professionally, like a peer would, they'll answer; if you take a subservient stance, not sounding like a peer, even with respect, they won't answer.
2. Thank him/her again, and then say "Well I look forward to discussing this with Steve, once I've done that, I will let you know the outcome." And that's how you get a call back card; I've rarely needed to use it, but if it goes to either extreme you have something you can capitalize on. If it goes really bad you can circle back and try again. If it goes really well and there is alignment of requirements and solution, it's your chance to get Brown engaged based on what you learn from Steve.
3. This is important, rather than just asking for Steve's number, once you have the number or extension, ask Brown to transfer you to Steve. Why be an outside call, in a caller id-voice mail world, when you can be a call from the EVP? There is going to be little or no doubt in Steve's mind that you have spoken directly with Brown; and when you say "Steve, I was talking to Mr. Brown about meeting to discuss (insert value your clients derive from you offering here), and he said I should have that conversation with you, how is Monday at 9:00?" No, you don't share the answer to question 1 with Steve.
Steve will check with Brown, but after you have set the appointment. Of course, between now and the time you meet, you will thoroughly prepare to engage Steve, who as a result of your preparation and charm, will be completely impressed, as will Brown.
Tibor Shanto brings over 20 years of sales experience to Renbor Sales Solutions Inc., from telemarketing to leading a global sales team focused on providing top end solutions. Tibor has helped to improve performance for sales professionals in a wide variety of fields, from financial services to on-line B2B specialists.
Today's topic is a little controversial, but I felt compelled to post it, especially after yesterday's quote about always trying to do what is right. Sales and business growth expert Diane Helbig recently wrote on her blog about rudeness in the business world - read on, and definitely let us know what you think!
"People ask me all the time what to do when people won't call them back," says Helbig. "They'll have a great meeting with a prospect and when they call to follow up, they can't get the prospect on the phone. Or they are cold calling and always getting voicemail. They can't seem to reach a human."
"As businesspeople we've lost the value of communicating directly," explains Helbig. "It's so much easier to hide behind our email and voicemail systems. On the one hand, I'm not sure the majority of people realize they are being rude. I think they need to say "no" but don't like being the bad guy. It's easier to avoid what they see as a confrontation."
"The next time you encounter this situation and have to leave a voicemail message, provide the prospect with permission to say "no." Tell them that "no" is an okay answer and that you don't want to be a pest, calling them all the time. You'll make it easier for them to communicate with you."
"In addition, reality check your own behavior," says Helbig. "Make sure you aren't participating in this practice. When people leave you messages, call them back, whether or not you are interested in what they offer. It seems we've all fallen into this pattern. Maybe we can affect a change beginning with ourselves."
Elie Wiesel said, "But where was I to start? The world is so vast. I shall start with the country I know best, my own. But my country is so very large. I had better start with my town. But my town, too, is large. I had best start with my street. No: my home. No: my family. Never mind, I shall start with myself."
Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and President of Seize This Day Coaching. She works one-on-one and in groups with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. Visit her website at http://www.seizethisdaycoaching.com.
"Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest." -- Mark Twain
Society often labels salespeople as dishonest, or slimy - words that are hurtful to those who work hard to offer their clients everything they have. These stereotypes wouldn't even exist if all salespeople adhered to the advice in the quote above.
We only have control over our own actions, but if you always do what is right, you'll play a big part in changing people's perceptions of salespeople. Let's make it our common goal to change those perceptions, one person at a time!
Want to impress your prospects and customers? Sales trainer Kelley Robertson suggests you learn to recap or summarize periodically during your sales conversations. The Summary or Recap technique has been around for decades but it is seldom used. Here is what you do:
After you have asked your prospect high-value questions to gain sufficient insight into their current situation or problem, you say, "Mr. Prospect, let me quickly recap what you told me." Then in bullet-point form, you restate the key points she mentioned. For example,
"Your employee turnover is currently 29.5%." "You typically need to hire 2-4 people every week." "You spend approximately 8 to 12 hours each week recruiting new employees."
This deceptively simple technique is effective for several reasons. One, it demonstrates to your prospect that you actually heard what they said and processed that information. Two, it forces you to carefully listen to your customer. Three, it helps you clarify in your own mind, what your customers key issues are. Four, it gives your prospect the opportunity to hear exactly what they said to you.
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
Sales trainer Adrian Miller says staying on the radar screens of clients and prospects is more important than ever for salespeople, and we wholeheartedly agree. The current economy makes it necessary that you be persistent, proactive, and patient - but how can this best be achieved without also looking desperate? Remember this advice from Miller and you'll be on the right track.
"Remember the following three "I" words as you navigate through the sales process to walk that fine line between pushiness and persistence," says Miller. "They will keep you on the radar in a way that positions you as a valuable ally and resource - exactly who you want to be now and as the economy begins to improve." Invitations
If you're like most sales professionals, you probably receive more invitations to tradeshows, industry and charity events, seminars, and get-togethers than you could ever possible attend. Don't let them go to waste! Instead of "circular filing" them, dole them out to prospects and clients. Soon.
Of course, they have to be relevant to their particular industry or interests. But, by being generous with your invitations, you're using a very non-obtrusive tactic to position yourself as someone who will go the extra mile to establish and grow a business relationship.
Don't stop with the invitations that you're not using. If you're planning to attend an event or show, why not ask a potential or current client to join you? It's the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together, build the relationship, and learn more about their business needs. Introductions
One of the most valuable tools in any salesperson's arsenal is their Rolodex. If you've built up an impressive list of contacts, you should be facilitating introductions - either cyber or in-person. You're golden in the eyes of those you're selling to if you're introducing them to someone of value. If you want to garner some positive attention - give a referral. No one deletes an email or ignores a voice mail from a person who sends introductions!
We undoubtedly live in the information age. If you can be a true resource for information that is timely, interesting, and of value, you will not be forgotten. Utilize Google Alerts, and other online tools to stay as current as possible. Sign up for newsletters, journals, and blogs. And, generously pass along information that can help others with their businesses.
As you develop a reputation as a knowledgeable "go to" person, consider starting your own blog or signing up with Twitter where others can check in with what you're deeming interesting and worth writing about.
What's interesting about these three I's is that they are free and readily available to each and every salesperson who is interested in maximizing their ability to provide great service. However, they require the ability to be engaged and interested in partnering with prospects and clients. At the end of the day, it's not just about making a sale; it's truly about forming a long-term relationship that is mutually beneficial.
Adrian Miller is the President of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a training and business consulting firm delivering sales-level performance training and executive-level business development consulting. A nationally recognized lecturer, she is also author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success".
Sales Presentations: The Art of the Great Sales Call
Sales trainer Mark Hunter travels the world giving presentations about presentations, so you can definitely consider him an expert on the subject. Today he offers some great advice for you to remember the next time you're preparing to present.
"The best presentation ever made is the presentation never given." I came up with this quote a number of years ago and I believe in it more than ever for one simple reason: customers have all heard way too many boring sales presentations. In fact, you as a salesperson have probably sat through too many boring sales presentations yourself. You may even admit that you occasionally give pretty boring sales presentations.
Here's the deal: Your presentation must come across more like a discussion than a presentation. You have to make the customer feel part of the presentation, and there's no way to do this if there is not two-way dialogue. This does not mean you no longer take the time to develop a sales presentation; rather it means just the opposite. You have to take even more time. The reason is because you have to know your material inside and out. You have to be so comfortable that you can deliver your presentation more as a discussion, allowing it to go in whatever direction the customer wants it to go.
Delivering a presentation this way will not only increase your level of success with immediate sales, but also allow you to learn a lot more from the customer by listening. Ultimately, this will help you with additional long-term sales. Think of your next sales presentation more as a discussion and less of a presentation.
Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter", assists companies to identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. To receive his free weekly "Sales Hunting Tip" visit www.TheSalesHunter.com
How many prospects do you have pending right now? How many of them will close in the next week? The next month? If you're like most salespeople, you're not entirely sure where you stand. Tele-sales expert Art Sobczak suggests you use "The Cleansing Question" to move prospects along and find out where you stand!
Ask the Cleansing Question The main reason reps have too many leads working is that they don't ask the tough questions early enough. You need to find out if the person you're talking to is really a "player." It's always better to get a "no" early, than to waste time, effort, paper, and postage chasing shadows that never will materialize.
Here is what you need to do starting today. Begin cleaning up your "non-prospect" prospects now by asking this Cleansing Question:
"Mr./Ms. Prospect, we've been talking for awhile now, and have agreed that we'd be able to help you (fill in with how they would benefit.) I want to be sure I'm not bothering you, or wasting your time or mine. Tell me, what is the probability we'll be able to work together in the next month?"
Think of the possible results here.
1. They say, "Zero probability." Great, now at least you can find out the real problem, or move them out. Movement, forward or out, is progress.
2. They give some other probability. Good, but not great. You want to ask what you both need to do to move forward now. Get specifics. Commitments. Ask them to attach time frames to the commitments. Don't allow them to continue putting you off. Again, movement here is success.
3. You just might get the business right now. Perfect. Sometimes all it takes is the nudge to get the boulder rolling down the mountain.
Do some late-summer cleaning. Examine your follow-up files. Prepare you own strategy and ask the Cleansing Question.
Art Sobczak, President of Business by Phone, Inc., specializes in one area only: working with business-to-business salespeople - both inside and outside - designing and delivering content-rich programs that begin showing results from the very next time participants get on the phone. Learn more at www.businessbyphone.com
"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts." -- Arnold Bennett, Novelist
We've suggested many times that if things aren't working out for you, then you need to make a change. Whether it's planning your day, making more calls, or becoming more accountable, change can take you in a good direction - but it can also be hard to do - and hard to maintain.
If you're making more calls you might have to take a shorter lunch, or not spend as much time chatting with co-workers. The change will affect you in many ways - what's important is that you give it time to become routine for you. Try to ignore the drawbacks for at least a week or so - you may find they weren't that important anyway!
Sales trainer Kendra Lee has written several pieces on prospecting using email - and she's back again today with another great piece of advice.
"Email is now the preferred prospecting tool, far surpassing the phone to the relief of many sellers who hate cold calling," says Lee. "Yet it hasn't necessarily made prospecting any easier. Response rates are low and many sellers are discouraged by how difficult it is to engage contacts."
Often the culprit is the subject line. It's one of the most important keys to getting people to open your emails.
Many sellers love to use fun subject lines like "Enticing Ideas: Kendra Lee, Did You Catch the Wave?" They think that a bit of humor will lighten the recipient's day, prompting them to open it.
Remember who you're writing to and what you're trying to accomplish. Your email is no different than a cold call. You're interrupting the day of an already overworked person.
Picture Steve. He has six meetings and eleven action items to conquer today. In fly forty, fifty, possibly even one hundred emails throughout the day. While humor is fun, it's a waste of valuable time Steve doesn't have. Instead of laughing at cute subject lines and enjoying his mail, he's looking for reasons to hit "delete" and avoid another thing landing on his plate. If he doesn't recognize your name immediately, your lighthearted subject line instantly hits the delete barrier.
Regardless of how busy he is, you want your subject line to draw Steve in with a personal and compelling message.
If you're attempting to secure an appointment or invite a prospect to a web event, try:
--Shall we meet Tuesday? --Can you talk Wednesday at 2pm? --Can you attend Friday at 12?
What makes this work when the contact doesn't know you? It feels personal to him.
You're requesting a meeting at a specific date and time. He needs to read enough to determine what you want, then check his calendar to see if he can meet. These subject lines are successful because even though people no longer feel a sense of obligation to return every message, they do feel more obliged to RSVP to a meeting invitation.
Another subject line approach you might use is to share an insight or tip you have for the prospect. Try:
--A hiring idea --A thought about managing distributed files --An idea about using your IT to grow client satisfaction
People love a new idea related to their job. Don't share the thought here though. Tease your prospect with enough information about it to entice a response and start a conversation. Suggest a time to discuss it in more detail with them.
Bottom line, make it personal to them, but in a way that doesn't sound like a marketing email.
Steer clear of gimmicks like "Enticing Ideas: Kendra Lee, Did You Catch the Wave?" This didn't have anything to do with me even though it put my name in the subject line. It was clearly a marketing message. No action was required on my part. There was no sense of urgency or compelling reason to open it.
In three seconds it hit my delete barrier. Gone without reading more than the subject line. Don't let that happen to your emails.
Kendra Lee is a Prospect Attraction Specialist 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 about her Email Power Prospecting program, click here.
ANSWER: "When he leaves home in the morning," says sales trainer Bill Caskey.
"Why?" you ask.
"Simple. In today's confusing, overwhelming economy, you might be the only one that comes along today to teach your prospect something. And learning is power."
What exactly, can you teach them?
--How to use your product/service better (how to make more money, save more time, conserve more energy). Isn't it amazing how most vendors disappear the minute you buy something? Think of how many referrals they'd get if they just showed up occasionally to teach you something. --How to get more value out of the relationship they have with you. We sellers are naive. We just expect that a client of ours knows exactly how to best "use" the relationship to their advantage. --How to understand their business better (That's right, you should know their business so well you can teach them a thing or two about it - that is, if you've done a good job in the sales process. --How to recognize if they have pain that you can fix. (What??!! You aren't doing that right now? Shame on you. Your competitor probably is or will). --How to understand the high cost of doing nothing. It's what we call the "phantom cost." Yes, inaction has a price. If it doesn't, then they weren't a prospect in the first place.
Don't think about lecturing them, though. That won't do. You must help them consume this knowledge the way they want to consume such knowledge.
Some of them will use the web. Some will use DVD's. Some will need you to show up physically. Some will consume through audio. Some are visual. Just because you learn a certain way doesn't mean your prospect will too.
Bill Caskey is a sales development leader and experimenter. His ideas about selling are convictions about life, money, and meaning. He has coached sales professionals and executives for over 19 years. To learn more, visit his website www.CaskeyTraining.com.
Sales trainer Joe Guertin often answers salespeople's questions on his blog, and I thought his most recent answer was very appropriate and advice we could all use. A recent reader asked "My customers are busy and can't take time to meet face-to-face. They want prices e-mailed. But then...NOTHING HAPPENS! Help! What can I do?"
"I get asked that a lot," says Guertin. "And it's a chronic problem. Busy buyers just want quotes, and then make their decisions on their own criteria (which, for the most part, include who they feel the most comfortable buying from)."
I don't like e-mailed quotes. Unless it's going to a current customer with whom you have an on-going relationship, e-mailed quotes take the selling out of sales.
But, in those cases where you absolutely have no choice, add these two steps and you'll see those all-important 'connections' grow (and get a better closing ratio): Call Ahead "I'm about to send that quote and just wanted to confirm one thing." Ask a question about one of the specifications, about their timetable, etc. Thank them again for the opportunity, tell them you'll "follow up shortly," and let 'er rip. Follow Up Did they say it'll take a week or two to get an answer? Did they say they'd let you know? Did I say stop there? Especially if this is a new customer, FOLLOW-UP. The key is to have a specific reason for following up...as you don't want to sound like a lap dog who says "didja getit...didja getit...didja getit?" (Of course they got it.)
Make a strategic call that includes these elements:
"I know it'll be a week before you make a decision" (set aside THAT debate) "but I just wanted to make sure we've got everything covered."
This could elicit responses from "I haven't looked yet" to "looks good."
Now, reconfirm their next step, thank them for the opportunity. Be sure to fire out a brief thank you letter, too.
P.S...Personal visits should be proportionate to dollar amounts. Larger, more detailed quotations have "I need face time" written all over them!
Joe Guertin is an advertising sales trainer, speaker and coach. His programs have informed and entertained sales professionals nationwide. Visit his Sales Resource Center at www.StreetFighterSelling.com
"A smile is a powerful weapon; you can even break ice with it."
Today business authority Andrea Nierenberg has some great advice for when you're dealing with what you perceive to be a difficult client. You know, the person who always seems to be in a sour mood, and makes working together a pain. Take Nierenberg's advice and get them to smile!
"We all know there has been much research conducted on how smiling and laughing can prevent some disease and certainly stress and that it take less muscles to smile then it does to frown - so why does it sometimes seem so hard to give one away?" asks Nierenberg.
"I recently watched someone totally change when I said to him - 'you have a great smile' - it was like he became a different person. I took a chance because in our meeting, at first he epitomized a curmudgeon...I took a leap of faith and I'm glad that I did in this case."
"Often when I present on conflict resolution in my communications sessions, I start with a basic truth that the only person we can truly change is ourselves. So the next time we run into someone who seems difficult or who doesn't seem to have an approachable expression, we might need to change the way we interact."
Take a quick look at my S.M.I.L.E. principle. I hope it brings one to your face after you review the list.
S. Stay in control. Think about how your responses could be perceived by others. See things from the other person's point of view.
M. Make yourself be 'heard'. This has little to do with volume or emotion. It is about speaking clearly, and in a style others can appreciate. To understand the other - observe and listen to them, discover their hot buttons and don't push them.
I. Involve the other person by asking questions. Listen to the answers carefully. Then you can respond to their concerns and ask more questions that will address issues that interest you both.
L. Let go. Sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away. Sometimes you have to give the situation a rest. When you come back, you will see it from a different perspective.
E. Keep your ego in check and at the door. Your conscience needs to be your guide and maintain respect for the other person. The goal needs to be for both parties to win the war over the challenge, even if you have to surrender the battle.
It is always our choice. We can go through life fighting a battle or we can choose to sign peace agreements. Not always easy - yet the rewards are much greater with the latter.
Here are a few more thoughts on 'sweetening' a sour relationship:
*Reframe what the other person said to you. Play back the message. This time use words that convey a more positive idea. Ask yourself was there something constructive that we took as criticizing?
*Edit your comments. Phrase your reply so that you put 'water' on the fire instead of gasoline. Again - easier said then done - and it takes practice not to strike back.
*Listen. We have been given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Research shows that often we listen with only 13% efficiency. Make a point to listen and not interrupt.
*Disarm. Help the other person see the situation as a mutual challenge and that you are in it together. Stay in control, even if the other person wants to do something else. Staying calm can be a persuasion tactic - and you may very well reach an agreement.
Andrea Nierenberg is the president of The Nierenberg Group, a business communications company with a total process for educating, motivating and connecting people. Learn more at www.nierenberggroup.com
"I must govern the clock, not be governed by it." -- Golda Meir
We've said it before, and we'll say it again - great salespeople know how to manage their time effectively. To do that, you have to take control over your day and dictate what gets done first - then do it! If you set a schedule and stick to it, you'll get more done than you ever have before.
On the other hand, allow your day to tick by without a schedule and you'll accomplish less than you'd like. You know the phrase, "Where did the time go?" It's uttered by people without a schedule. Now get to it!
Ziglar and Gitomer and Hopkins, Oh my! Get weekly expert advice!
Name: Editor: Kelly McLean
Location: Carlsbad, CA, United States
SalesDog.com, the internet's number one sales success destination for more than seven years, works with America's leading sales experts to bring practical selling tips and strategies to salespeople, sales managers, business owners and entrepreneurs. Over 30,000 sales professionals rely on its free weekly newsletter to keep them abreast of cutting-edge developments impacting their profession.