Friday, January 29, 2010

No Voicemail = A Missed Opportunity

Leave a voicemail? Don't leave a voicemail? This is a question that sellers are passionate about. Many suggest not, but isn't that a missed opportunity? What should you do? Take the advice of sales trainer Kendra Lee and don't miss out!

I always leave a message because how else will they know that you want to speak with them? In today's world where it's acceptable to screen calls, you may never reach your prospect if you don't. Add to it that a message allows a prospect to hear your interest in talking with them and your professionalism.

So why not do it? Take advantage of the 40 seconds or so to grab attention, leave a positive impression, and start relationship building.

Here are a few tips to increase your success rates.

Have an idea to go with the triggering event. The core of your message should be about a triggering event or business issue they're most likely grappling with. Don't talk about your offerings or the latest special deal. Focus on their issue and mention that you have some thoughts or an idea about how to address it based on work you've done with similar companies. It's the opportunity to get a new idea that'll make them want to speak with you.

Request a specific time.
Don't stop with a request to call you. You'll end up playing phone tag, and they probably won't take the time to type in your email address even if you leave it. Instead, make it easy to connect by requesting a specific date and time to talk.

It sounds something like this:


I wanted to schedule 15 minutes to discuss my idea with you. By chance are you open Thursday at 2:30? Let me know. My phone number is 303-773-1285 or email me at [email protected] . I look forward to our discussion!

Do it again via email.
Clearly you aren't expecting a response. Picking up the phone during a busy day is hard. If you have your prospect's email address, promise to send an email "in case that's an easier way for you to respond." Then send an email that say the same thing as your voicemail, including the time to talk. Don't attach anything or include any additional links beyond what you have in your signature. Keep it concise and to-the-point.

If you don't get a response, call Thursday at 2:30, further demonstrating your professionalism and interest in talking with the prospect. Leave a voicemail that you'd promised to call and reiterating what you wanted to talk about. Suggest a new time to talk and do it all again.

Switch it up.
In today's environment it can take 9 times to get a return call so don't get discouraged. After the third call approach the gatekeeper to schedule a time scheduled on the prospect's calendar. Use your value proposition and let his assistant know you just wanted to share your idea.

The secret to success with this approach is to have real ideas to share about how to help your prospect address the business issue you mentioned. When you do that, your prospect is glad he took your call. He appreciates the value you provided. If all you do is spew on about your offerings, you didn't meet your commitment from your voicemail and you’ll never get a second chance.

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.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Are Clients Looking For in 2010?

There's no magic answer for making more sales, but these tips from sales expert Colleen Francis would be an excellent start!

What are clients looking for in their sales professionals and partners? Sales reps who have that special something: the skills, tendencies and attributes that help build strong and lasting relationships. They are looking for people they can trust over the long term. Buyers are looking for partners with strong "personal" skills, according to ACT research. So, keep these in mind:

--Carefulness: Do you have a tendency to think and plan carefully before acting? This helps with reducing the chance for costly errors, as well as keeping a steady workflow going.

--Cooperation: Your willing to engage in interpersonal work situations is very important in the workplace and in your client's perspective. Clients love when you include other company resources and expert sources to help them solve their problems.

--Creativity: You've heard of "thinking outside the box?" Clients want innovative people who bring a fresh perspective. If you have nothing new to present, your clients will have no choice but to default to pricing as the key buying factor.

--Discipline: This includes the ability to keep on task and complete projects without becoming distracted or bored. Clients like to see that you can focus on their project - and them - from beginning to end.

--Drive: Clients want partners who have high aspiration levels and work hard to achieve their goals. Many senior level decision makers have remarked to me that they don't return sales reps call just to see if the rep has the drive and desire to call back!

--Good attitude: Clients want to be associated with Life Givers. You know that so enough said. OK...one more thought. Be NICE.

--Goodwill: Clients want to know that you are well intentioned, not self serving.

--Influence: You clients need strong sales leaders to guide the way. Having influence means positively impacting sales situations by highlighting your expertise, being honest, asking questions and engaging your client.

--Optimism: A positive attitude goes a long way toward productivity.

--Order or Organization skills: "Where did I put that?" A tendency to be well organized helps clients to perceive that working with you will be without major distractions or "roadblocks." Make sure it's easy to buy from you.

--Safe work behaviors: Clients want sales people who are not reckless and unnecessary risk-taking in a work environment. Incidentally, the word safe is considered to be one the top 12 most influential words (according to Yale) so use it in your sales presentations for profitable results.

--Savvy: This isn't just about job knowledge, but knowledge of the industry, your territory, the client, their family, and their working environment. It includes a tendency to read other people's motives from observed behavior and use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.

--Sociability: How much do you enjoy interacting with clients, potential clients and your colleagues? Clients can sense if you are a team player.

--Stability:
Clients want to know that you have a tendency to maintain composure and rational in stressful work situations.

--Vigor: Can you keep up? Your clients are busy business owners. They need to be sure you can keep a rapid tempo and keep busy.

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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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Simple Way to Answer Objections

The simplest techniques can be so effective. Today tele-sales expert Art Sobczak shares the easiest tip to help you respond to an objection - it will leave you saying, "Why didn't I think of that?"

I heard a call where a prospect voiced an objection, but seemed a bit shaky in his conviction regarding what he said. The sales rep responded, "What was that again?"

The prospect then hemmed and hawwed a bit, continued talking, and actually admitted that he probably could go with the caller's proposal. Brilliant. So what happened here?

If you have a strong belief about something, chances are you're able to explain why, with conviction.

On the other hand, if someone says something that is not completely truthful, or something they don't believe strongly in, they will hesitate, hem and haw or exhibit other nervous behavior when questioned. The same is true if they don't have reasons for their beliefs.

Likewise, some prospects may not be clear in their expression of objections, or they might throw out some objections as stalling techniques. To clarify the situation, ask them to repeat, or explain their statement.

For example, "Mr. Davis, I'm not sure I fully understood what you just said. Will you please repeat that for me?"

"Or, "Pat, I heard what you said, but I'm not following the reasoning. Would you mind explaining it for me?"

"I'm not following. Could you explain?"

If their objection is truly a legitimate one, their explanation will provide you with information which will help you address it.

If, on the other hand, they are just stalling, your question will help to smoke out the real objection. Either way, you win!

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, January 26, 2010

8 Easy Steps to Eliminate the Non-Serious Buyer

You have enough to do each day without chasing around prospects that will never buy from you. That's why we're running this advice from sales trainer Rochelle Togo-Figa - she'll help you find the right buyers, so you make more money in less time.

A client was disappointed she hadn't brought in any new clients in several weeks. She was frustrated she had set up 8 appointments and hadn't closed one. She had set high expectations and was upset with the results. We've all been there, so we know how it feels to anticipate closing business and then it doesn't happen.

As she and I discussed the situation, several things started to open up. Although she had scheduled 8 appointments, early on 2 of the people had canceled and 2 didn't want to spend the money. These 4 people were non-serious buyers. The good news was the other 4 were definitely interested.

In fact, one of the people she met liked her authentic sales style so much that she was invited to attend a party where she could network with many more potential clients. She may not have closed the sale on the first appointment as she had hoped; however, she gained much more. She still had the possibility of closing this sale and an opportunity to meet many more potential clients.

It's unlikely you will close most of your sales on the first appointment. There is an emotional process that people go through when making a buying decision. People do business with who they get to know, like and trust. You have to be patient and willing to nurture the business relationship.

To guide the customer through the sales process and create a long-lasting business relationship begins by authentically communicating, being genuinely interested in the other person, and giving up any attachment you have to the outcome.

As we reviewed her appointments, we looked to see what was missing that could be put in for the next time. She thought the problem was she didn't know how to close the sale. That wasn't the problem. What was missing was doing the preparation work before the sales meeting to eliminate non-serious buyers. If she had done the preparation work, those 4 non-serious buyers would have been eliminated early on.

If you want to be well prepared for your sales appointment and close sales faster, I have 8 steps to follow that will move the sales appointment to a sales close.

1. Set specific and realistic goals of what you want to accomplish.

2. Go in with the intention of closing the sale, but let go of any attachment to the outcome (and how it should look).

3. Send a letter or email before the meeting outlining what will be covered at the meeting.

4. Call to confirm the meeting. At that time ask qualifying questions to uncover their budget, make sure you're meeting with the decision maker, and find out how long they've been looking.

5. Make a list for yourself of anticipated questions and responses.

6. Make a list for yourself of anticipated objections and responses.

7. Practice your presentation out loud.

8. Practice your responses to the questions and objections.

Golden opportunities are all around us. Sometimes they're hidden from our view because we think things should look a certain way and when they don't, we're disappointed. I invite you to let go of how it should look and turn every challenge into a golden opportunity.

Rochelle Togo-Figa, the Sales Breakthrough Expert, is the creator of the Sales Breakthrough System. Visit her website at www.SalesBreakthroughs.com

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Quote of the Week

"The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play." -- Arnold Toynbee

The days can be very long if you're not enjoying your job -the hours can seem to stretch on forever. So why not make a resolution to try and enjoy your job more?

Make your cold calling into a game, actually get to know your prospects, treat yourself to a coffee after a good stretch of work - whatever you can do to make the day more enjoyable. As you start enjoying yourself, you may realize you're working harder and getting more done - and making more money!

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Fire Any Customers Lately?

For some of you, the title of this post may seem completely insane! You're thinking, "I'm doing my best to make enough sales to make ends meet - no way I'm firing customers." Today sales trainer Mark Hunter explains how firing customers can actually make your business more profitable - read on for his advice.

You will always have 10% of your customers who are not profitable. No matter how much you think you need their business, they're hurting your top-line and bottom-line. Save yourself some money and gain some time by firing them.

Whenever I mention this to people, they always freak out because they soon see how serious I am. There is not one salesperson who does not have a customer who needs to be fired, based on the lack of profit you're making from them and/or the hassles they are causing you and your company. The most valuable asset in any company is time - the time the employees have. When it gets wasted doing activities that are not profitable, then it only results in one thing - the overall company being less profitable.

Challenge yourself on finding those customers who are not bringing profit to your company. Don't settle for the belief that you can't get rid of them because you don't have any better customers to replace them with. That belief will get you in trouble very quickly, because no business can stay in business if it's losing money. You might as well save a lot of time and simply stop doing any business and stare at yourself all day long doing nothing.

The point is this: By getting rid of customers that are not profitable, you will free up time and resources to go after better customers that have the potential to deliver to you real profits.

Easiest way I've found to fire a customer is to raise their prices. If they accept the price increase, then you'll now make the money you need to turn the customer into a profitable one. If they don't accept the price increase and leave, then you've achieved what you set out to do.

Each time I've worked with a salesperson or company to help them do this, I've been amazed at the positive impact it has had on the sales motivation. It will absolutely sky rocket. And in the end, the only effective salesperson is the one who has a high level of sales motivation.

Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter", is a sales expert who speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability. For more information, to receive a free weekly email sales tip, or to read his Sales Motivation Blog, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

You Can Get What You Want - Just Ask For It!

We often think asking directly for what you want is rude...but sales trainer Craig James begs to differ. Read his advice on asking for what you want - then go for it!

The Rolling Stones had a hit tune back in the day called, "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Many of us in Sales can relate to that. We don't always get the call back. We don't always get the appointment. We don't always get to meet the decision-maker. We don't always get the order. Now it is, of course, unreasonable to expect to always get what we want. But wouldn't you agree that it is reasonable to believe that we might get what we want more often than we do if we changed the way we asked for it?

The sad fact is one of the reasons we don't get what we want more often is because we simply don't ask for it - or don't ask for it directly. We sort of kind of ask for it, but we don't really ask for it. For example, I was debriefing a sales rep one day who had just finished an initial exploratory meeting with a prospect. I asked him, "How did you end the meeting?" He replied proudly, "Do you think we could arrange a meeting with the other participants in the decision process?" I really didn't want to burst his bubble, because some reps wouldn't even ask that - but I couldn't in good conscience applaud that response. "And?", I said. He replied, "She said, 'Yes, I think we could.'" I then asked him if asking something like, "The typical next step that customers take is to get all the decision makers together for a meeting in order to evaluate our solution for themselves. How about we pencil in a date - say, next Thursday?" might not have been a better response. (A better solution, I have since discovered, is to use a handy, free, web-based tool called Doodle.)

Do you see the difference? The rep's response was not one that took control of the next step. Can you guess what followed for our rep over the next ten days? Not having attempted to pin down a date right there when he had the opportunity, he spent those next ten days chasing after his contact. He finally did get her, but only after wasting all that time - not to mention losing valuable momentum.

This begs the question - why not just be direct more often? Why not ask for what you want? In this example, if you were the rep, is knowing whether or not a meeting could be arranged with the other participants really what you want to know? No! It's the meeting itself that you want. So ask for it!

How about "closing" a sale - or as I prefer to say, asking for a commitment to do business together? When you sense the time is right (gee, that sounds eerily like an overplayed TV commercial I know!), are you bold enough to ask for what you want? And do you then ask for it - directly? Or do you dance around it and serve up some wishy-washy kinda, sorta request to maybe do business some day? Or worse - do you fail to ask at all?

You can't always get what you want. But you will get what you want more often if you start asking for it directly. Start by writing down phrases you could ask at the end of different kinds of interactions - a cold call, an initial meeting, a multi-participant presentation, responding to an objection, and closing a sale. Then practice with a buddy (or with a microphone, if you have no buddies - which is something I'm not qualified to help you with!), having him or her be the prospect, and you be the rep. First use responses that are not direct, and have your buddy respond. Then use the direct response for the same situation, and see how your buddy responds this time. I'm pretty certain those responses will, more often than not, get you what you want - the Rolling Stones' contention notwithstanding.

Craig James is president of Sales Solutions, a sales productivity improvement company. He helps sales organizations get increased production out of their sales people, and entrepreneurs and individual sales people to be more successful at selling. Learn more at http://www.sales-solutions.biz.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Power is in the Thank You

I love reading networking expert Andrea Nierenberg's newsletter. She shares positive ideas that you can implement right away. Today she discusses the importance of staying in touch - something I'm sure we all could do better on!

Saying 'thank you' to your clients, advocates, friends, family - in essence - your entire network, is always in style.

One of our New Year's resolutions needs to be - 'am I staying on people's radar screen enough?' - with a simple thank you, showing appreciation or staying in touch.

It is human nature that when we reach out to someone in a sincere and appreciative way - it fosters stronger and better relationships. In business that can possibly lead to more referrals and opportunities.

I have always been a huge advocate of sending personalized, heartfelt notes and keeping up the 'high touch' in a high tech world. Always having special interest types of cards and notes is the added bonus in that your recipient knows you really took the time to think of them specifically.

Competition is alive and well and whatever you do to sincerely stand out from everyone else can be helpful in earning or keeping the business or getting that opportunity you want.

Here are some reminders:

--The Time is now - as part of your retention strategy, send a personal note with in 48 hours of receiving an order, assignment, or 'next step.'
--Show your Personal brand - send a card either with your logo or better yet something that also represents your client's brand.
--Put Thought into It - Write a short note expressing your thanks and be specific. An unexpected note that arrives in the mail always stands out.
--Relationship Marketing - Often it takes up to twelve 'touches' before you make the sale or get the opportunity. Stay top of mind with frequent and sincere communication that brings a smile to their face.

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

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Words Without Actions

If you're struggling to complete each day's tasks, and stressing when it doesn't happen, today's article is for you. Catherine Pulsifer shares how you can stop stressing and start getting things done!

Not long ago, I was interviewing two people applying for the same position. When the first candidate was asked what her goals were, Becky replied that continuous learning was her goal. When asked what steps she had taken to accomplish her goal, Becky said that she was going to sign up for a course in the fall.

The next candidate had a similar goal, but, in this case, Sarah had actually taken several courses to help her achieve what she wanted. This action showed not only did Sarah have a goal; she had been implementing an action plan to achieve here desired results.

"Words without actions are the assassins of idealism." -- Herbert Hoover

In the end Becky had created stress for herself in using "words without action". When you find yourself in stressful situations, rather than using words to reduce your stress, take action to create less stress in your life.

A great way to take action is to set goals for your life. Setting goals and taking action can result in less stress in your life. It prepares you for other opportunities. It gives you a focus on the future rather than being stuck where you are.

So often people are stressed but do little to reduce their stress. Setting goals for yourself is the first step in changing your life. But more importantly, taking action towards achieving these goals will actually create less stress in your life, as you will see yourself progressing towards "a goal that you want".

Catherine Pulsifer is one of the editors of Nifty Stories a site full of inspiration and encouragement to make your day a better one.
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Today the country celebrates the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and what better way to celebrate him then to take his words to heart and apply them to your own life?

None of us knows what's going to happen tomorrow - the only thing we can do is have faith and keep moving. Starting today, do something you've been hesitant to do because it makes you feel a little nervous or unsure of yourself. You may just stumble upon things you never dreamed possible!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Resolutions for Prospecting Success

Cold calling is very difficult - and not a favorite of many. But, I think many sales experts would agree it is an essential part of a successful year. Today cold calling expert Wendy Weiss shares nine resolutions to incorporate into your cold calling now - your bank account will thank you!

--Make introductory calling into a game, and reward yourself when you succeed. For example, for every 'yes', put a dollar (or $2 or $3 - it's your game) into an envelope. At the end of the week take the money and treat yourself - even if it's only an ice cream cone.

--The biggest mistake that you can make when prospecting for new business is to stop. There is no new business without prospecting. The more calls you make, the more success you will have. The more doors you open, the more sales you will close. Keep calling.

--Set up a comfortable, organized, quiet environment in which to work. Get a good telephone - a land line is the best and make sure that it has clear sound. Get a headset so that you don't have neck and shoulder problems down the road.

--Wear comfortable clothes. Your prospect cannot see you. It does not matter what you are wearing. It does matter that you are comfortable so that you can focus and concentrate. If your business attire is uncomfortable change clothes. If your shoes are killing you, take them off.

--To become totally comfortable, rehearse your script. Practice it out loud. Call your voice mail and record yourself so that you can hear how you sound. Practice with your friends and colleagues. Role-play. Do everything that you can think of to prepare before you ever get on the telephone.

--When speaking with your prospect, tailor your introduction to their concerns. This process is about your prospect, not about you. Remember that people buy for their reasons, not yours.

--While you are calling, stay conscious of your breathing. If you find you are feeling stressed and holding your breath, take a moment. Do some breathing exercises and then go on. Sometimes you can breathe better if you are standing. Try that. Sometimes pacing while you are talking helps to get energy going and lets out the nervous tension.

--Do what you say you're going to do. If you tell your prospect that you will call next Thursday at 3:00 p.m. - call your prospect next Thursday at 3:00 p.m.

--Most sales are made, on average, after the seventh contact with a prospect. These contacts can be by phone, e-mail, fax or letter. Most salespeople give up after three or four contacts. If you do that, you are leaving cash on the floor behind you.

Known as "The Queen of Cold Calling," Wendy Weiss is a sales trainer, sales coach and author specializing in cold calling and new business development. She helps clients speed up their sales cycle, reach more prospects directly and generate more sales revenue. Learn more at: www.WendyWeiss.com.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Coffee Shop Selling

Sometimes a change in setting is all you need to make people feel comfortable and ready to talk. Today sales trainer Tessa Stowe shares the power of the coffee shop meeting - and really, who doesn't want to get out of the office for a piece of coffee cake?

Just imagine that you have a senior position in a company with quite a few people reporting to you. From the moment you walk into the office, you automatically act and talk your role. You have lots of responsibilities and you take them seriously. When people meet you in the office, you play the role as that is what people expect of you. Your days are very full, rushing here and there.

Now suppose that in the middle of your hectic day, you are invited out for a coffee with a friend where you know you can relax for a moment and just be yourself. How good is that? How re-energizing is that in the middle of your busy day?

Years ago, I was selling a multi-million dollar billing system to a telecommunications company. I needed to meet with a lot of different people to put all the pieces of the sales "puzzle" together. Scheduling meetings was always difficult as they had very few meeting rooms.

So as a matter of necessity, I started inviting people out for a coffee meeting - with cake if they wanted it. As we stepped out of the office environment and into the coffee shop, a curious thing happened. More often than not, the person I was having coffee with left their role behind and I had coffee with just that "person."

We would spend the first few minutes just enjoying the shop environment and discussing what they were up to personally. As a result, they would begin to unwind, relax, and start to be themselves as opposed to their roles.

Then when we came to getting down to business, I'd be in a place of greatly appreciating their help and any insights or tips they could give me. It would be as if a flood gate had opened up, and the information and help would flow. They would be very open with me.

At the end, I was always thanked for the coffee and told how much they had enjoyed the conversation, and that we must do it again soon. They had valued the experience and getting out of the office. When I next rang them and said "Let's catch up over coffee", they would do their best to fit it in their schedule. They wanted to get out of the office and go for a coffee. My colleagues were constantly amazed at the ease with which I got meetings, and with just about anyone.

So what are the lessons that I learned from coffee shop selling?

1. If you meet people in their office, they will more than likely act the role they play in that environment. Take them out of that office and into a coffee shop type environment, and you will have a higher chance that they will relax and be more like themselves.
2. If people feel relaxed in your company, they will open up to you.
3. If you make it enjoyable to meet with you, people will meet with you.
4. If you show that you appreciate someone's help, they will help you.

So when you can - and I know it's not always possible - instead of having office meetings, invite your prospect out for a coffee and make it an enjoyable experience for both of you. Do this and you'll be amazed at how much your prospects will go out of their way to help you and to meet with you - for a coffee and chat.

Tessa Stowe teaches small business owners and recovering salespeople simple steps to turn conversations into clients without being sales-y or pushy. Her FREE monthly Sales Conversation newsletter is full of tips on how to sell your services by just being yourself. Sign up now at www.salesconversation.com.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Expanding Your Sales Opportunity

One of the best ways to expand your business is to create more opportunities with the clients you already have. Today sales trainer Nancy Bleeke tells you how she does it - and how you can too!

One of the sales calls I had a few weeks ago, I'd like to repeat over and over and over. Why? Because the prospect was looking for one specific service and by the end of our conversation we were discussing multiple. In dissecting why the call went so well (a good practice so we can repeat those actions that worked), I found that I had:

1. Listened to the intent of what he wanted to accomplish, not just WHAT he wanted to do now.
2. Waited. Instead of offering him a recommendation immediately (which I could have on the one item), I expanded the discussion with further questions that uncovered some underlying information that was truly what needed to be addressed first.
3. Asked permission to ask questions that weren't directly related to what he called about.
4. Summarized the broader picture and the frustration and costs associated with it.
5. Presented the solution directly tied into his situation and the value he would experience in the long run.
6. After he said "Yes, this is what we need to do first, isn't it?" I expressed confidence in his choice and what he would gain from it.

It was a lot of effort to keep to task. And it was one of those situations where I didn't have time to prepare - he called me out of the blue. But I had just been preparing for another meeting and quickly pulled my list of questions out. I also have a list of questions that I can quickly adjust on the spot to a situation such as this.

I'm sure you've had some of these 'magical sales moments' too. What did you learn from them? Making the time to dissect and extract what happened and how, will help you repeat it again the next time.

Sales expert Nancy Bleeke, The SalesProInsider, helps organizations set aggressive sales goals and achieve them while boosting profitability by hiring, training and retaining the best employees. She shares her expertise with the Timely Tips ezine and her blog. Learn more and download a free ebook at www.salesproinsider.com

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

You're Still in Control

It's hard to start the sales year off right when you're in a down economy, but take heart - today sales trainer Joe Guertin explains how you're still in control.

You and I cannot change people's minds about what the economy might do to them. Most of the time, they have to find that out for themselves. But here's some good news: in most industries, you still have control. Control over the sales process...even if your prospect is caught up in the doom 'n' gloom of what might happen.

I talked to a sales rep a few weeks ago who lamented that his industry was projected to be down almost 25% the remainder of the year (and I'll agree that's one heck of a drop!). So I asked him the gratuitous question "who's getting the other 75%?" After the expected pause, he growled "ME...I'm going to get it!" I could just hear his attitude shift from fear of the unknown to that of the Sales Streetfighter.

In turbulent times, gutsy salespeople turn up the heat on themselves. Here are five of their favorite strategies:

They balance their 'customer portfolio'
Customers who tend to move slowly, or are slow to change, are the most likely to cut back in turbulent times. Make sure your accounts and prospects are a good mix of slow moving and innovative companies so that you don't get caught short.

They use time more wisely
This is the time to examine your workday. Most of us start out well organized but, over time, we fall into ruts. Reading emails, visiting, paperwork and meetings start to consume a considerable amount of your time. Little things, like making phone calls in clusters (e.g.: 10 at a time) help us get a ton more done inside the workday.

They see more people
Your customers will be getting a lot of phone calls, but you'll be the one sitting in their office. Get busy.

They ask more questions
Delays, objections and lost sales can often be traced to having insufficient information.

They go for the close
Ask for the order. Nothing feeds into their hesitation like leaving the potential sale on the table.

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.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Quote of the Week

"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." -- Carlos Castaneda, author

I think at some point in their lives everyone has a job they're unhappy in. When I think back on those experiences now I think about all the time I wasted. After all, you have to spend eight hours a day at that job, right? So why not make the best of it while you're there?

If you're starting the year out on a negative note, now is the time to reassess what you're doing and change your attitude. You have to spend those hours at work, why not spend them making calls, meeting prospects, and making sales? The amount of time and work is the same - the different outcomes all depend on you.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

How to Ask for Testimonials

With all the new things you're doing to grow your business, have you given much thought to testimonials? They're a great way to show what you can do and inspire new clients to put their trust in you. Today sales expert Colleen Francis shows you the right way to ask for testimonials and start getting business from them!

While there are many, many ways to collect testimonials from clients here are 3 easy ways to get started right away.

1. Keep your ears open wide

When you're talking to your customers, does anyone ever share with you a little story about how they were able to make great use of your product or service? Check your email. Has anyone ever sent you a note just to say "thanks for the great work" on that last job you did for them? Or have you ever received glowing feedback from a client who responded to a survey that you sent out? Each of those is a testimonial, just waiting for you to act on it. And that takes me to my next point...

2. Ask and you shall receive

Remember our friend W. Clement Stone? He once famously said: "If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking, by all means ask!" When a client says great things about you, about your work or the products you sell, give them the opportunity to turn that praise into a testimonial. Simply ask: "I'd really love it if I could include what you just said in my client testimonials. Would that be okay?" People generally like to be helpful to other people, but they'll never get that opportunity to give you that all-powerful testimonial if you don't ask first.

3. Make it easy for people

One of the most common comments you'll hear from clients when asking for testimonials is "Well I'm really not much of a writer, so it's hard for me to put it in words." The real power of testimonials comes from the fact that they're not polished...they're authentic and from the heart. A marketing professional I know quite well recently shared with me his secret about how he addresses this issue in his business. "I borrowed an idea from John Caples - one of the great copywriters of the 20th century. When asking a client for a testimonial, he'd simply say 'Finish this sentence in 25 words or less: I really like (product/service/person) because...' This really works because it gets right to the point about the feelings people have for you, for what you do and for what you're selling."

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.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The WOW Approach to Price Negotiations

Since we're all looking to make more money this year than ever before, I felt it was essential to get a new perspective on negotiating - a time in the sales process where you decide if you'll be making a little money or a lot of money. Read on for tips from sales trainer Tibor Shanto.

Negotiating is not a favorite of many salespeople, but when it comes to negotiating price it seems to be even more stressful. Even more so when the person doing the "negotiating" for the buyer is really haggling. We all understand that budgets are tight, but beating the seller into submission rarely accomplishes long-term good. This is why as a seller you need to have a plan so you can remain objective, unemotional and clear headed when you face this type of situation.

The WOW approach allows you to make decisions based on what is best for the deal, your company and the buyer; allow you to look past the heat of the moment and make more solid deals you don't regret in the morning.

WOW stands for:

WISH - OPTIMAL - WALK AWAY

WISH – Is simple to understand, but not always to get. Regardless of what you sell, this could be your list price, 'rate card', what have you. If you are in transportation, it may be the ideal price for a particular lane, the odd time you may get it, and that's great, but usually you find you have to make some concessions. At times it is not a bad thing, you may do the load for a slightly reduced rate because the client is high volume, gives you multiple lanes, and you can make up for the concession on another lane, and in the end you are whole; other times you may have some inbound freight that will balance things, etc. Other times the client just wants a lower price because they know the market is soft and wants to take advantage of you, first time you give in you are on a downward spiral that neither you or your company will ever recover from, no matter what (promises or prayers). If you can regularly get your WISH price you are doing good, and likely not in an industry with heavy competition.

OPTIMAL – Is the price where things are at a balance where everyone can feel they are getting the best possible value. The true win-win where your company is able to derive margins that allow it to grow and continue to innovate and develop products and services to meet client demands. The point where the client is getting full value, maximum ROI and a provider who is pleased to service and support the clients' objectives. If you are doing most of your deals in this range, you are still likely facing negotiations, but they are of the sort that makes for good business.

WALK AWAY – Can't make it any clearer than that. If the negotiations deteriorate to where the buyer will only buy if the price is at or below this number you have to WALK AWAY, no ifs, ands, or buts. You need to know this price before you leave your house in the morning, if you don't, you're beat before you even show up. You need to be able to take the emotion right out of the process, negotiate in good faith, but if it hits and crosses this line, politely WALK AWAY. If you don't you are doing everyone involved, and most of all you, a disservice. This should be a conditioned response, once it goes below the predetermined level, WALK. It may seem hard at first, but you will never recover and you will be stuck with a non-productive account that you will hate and that will always remind you of a weak moment.

Keep in mind that the goal is to work together with the buyer to achieve a mutually valuable deal. There are many ways to achieve that in a way that allows you to maintain price integrity and the respect of the client. But if the client does not respect you enough to find that mutual point, you should not think twice - WALK.

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.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Creating Your Monthly Target

If you haven't created your yearly goal and broken it down into monthly goals, now is the time to get on it. You'll only achieve those numbers if you start immediately. So, today sales trainer Kelley Robertson shares how to create monthly goals you'll stick to all year.

Have you set targets for 2010? If you don't know where you're going, how will you get there? Here are a few simple strategies from Robertson that can help you make the most of the upcoming year.

Write down EXACTLY what you want to achieve by the end of the year as well as each quarter and month. Use the SMART formula:

Specific
Motivational
Achievable (in your mind)
Relevant (to your situation)
Time framed

Next, create a mental image of yourself completing the goal and how you will feel, act and think. For extremely powerful results create a visual representation of your goal and place it where you will see it all the time.

The third step is to record two to three action steps you can take that will help you achieve your goal. The more ambitious your target is the more action steps you will likely need to plot out.

Finally, take some form of action within the next 24 hours. This is a powerful strategy because it tells your subconscious mind that you are serious about attaining that particular goal.

Avoid the "I'll just let things happen" syndrome; plan your outcome. Smart salespeople know that time invested in planning always pays dividends.

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, January 5, 2010

5 Things I Learned in 2009

It's early in the New Year, so in my mind a little reflection is still important to get the year started off right. Today sales trainer Mike Brooks shared what he learned in the past year - and how you can use what he learned to jumpstart your sales in 2010.

Here are the 5 things I learned that contributed the most to what turned out to be my most profitable year in consulting yet:

1) I created a specific monthly income goal, reinforced it with a written affirmation card, and spent time each day visualizing and feeling as if I'd already achieved the goal and earned the income.

This was without a doubt the most important thing I did. The key was that I didn't know where the clients were going to come from, and I didn't have to - that's the universe's job. All I had to do (and did!) was set the goal and feel the feelings. This is the most powerful skill you'll ever develop.

2) I worked harder than I've ever worked in my business. I made a commitment to double my work time and that included cold calling on Friday afternoon, too!

I suggest you do what I did (and will do again) and make sure you write your calls down - track your effort. It will keep you honest, keep you focused, and give you a chance to measure your progress and success.

3) Qualify out the shoppers and tire-kickers. I didn't waste time with the non-buyers. This year I was even quicker (and believe me, I'm tough to begin with!) to disqualify out the non-buyers. If they weren't committing on my training programs, or if they were hesitating, I let them go. Period.

4) I was "of service". This year my attitude was constantly one of "What can I do to help this person or company?" I went out of my way to please, and it paid off. I recommend you go out of your way to help your clients and prospects - they'll feel it and respond.

5) I nurtured and cultivated my relationships. This year I found a way to keep in touch with my clients, to help them feel appreciated, and got them to love me more than they already do.

Mike Brooks, MrInsideSales.com, is creator and publisher of the "Top 20% Inside Sales Tips" weekly Ezine. If you're ready to Double Your Income Selling Over the Phone, then sign up to receive your FREE tips now at: www.MrInsideSales.com.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Quote of the Week

"It isn't where you came from; it's where you're going that counts." -- Ella Fitzgerald

We've said good-bye to 2009 and are looking at a fresh decade - which means a fresh start for you and your work attitude. Now is the time to forget about how you did last year - because that plays no part in how well you'll do this year. Decide where your sales are going in 2010 and make it happen!

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