Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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A Refreshing Approach

People get so many marketing calls now a days, you have to do something to stand out from the crowd. Sales trainer Kelley Robertson came across one approach that might work for you!

The delay of the other person to respond when I answered the telephone told me immediately that it was a telemarketing call. However, the caller's initial approach caught my attention and caused me to take a few minutes to speak with her.

After identifying that she was indeed talking to Kelley Robertson, the caller proceeded to say, "I'll let you know right up front that this is marketing call. Is it okay if I get right to the point?" I was intrigued so I said yes. Unfortunately, the rest of her approach caused me to lose interest in about 6 seconds mostly due to the fact that it was obvious she was reciting from a script and most of what she said was corporate hyperbole.

This company is on the right track. Their initial opening is much different than most companies and I suspect this helps them increase the number of people they speak with. Their question, "Is it okay if I get right to the point?" almost commands a 'yes' reply without insistent pressure.

They could improve their approach (and results) by simplifying the description of what they do and teaching their callers how to sound more natural and less like they are reading from a script.

How can you change your approach so it is more refreshing to the people you're calling?

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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Monday, April 26, 2010

Quote of the Week

Today is a new day. You will get out of it just what you put into it. -- Mary Pickford

Even if last week is one you'd like to forget, today starts a brand new week that can be completely different. They best way to start your week off on the right note? Make a plan to tackle the difficult parts of your day first - then you can get through the rest of the day feeling accomplished and proud of what you did!

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Satisfy All of Your Customer's Needs? That's Crazy!

Trying to satisfy all of the needs of your customers will result in lost profit. Satisfying your customer's greatest need will maximize your profit. Read on for sales trainer Mark Hunter's expert advice.

Don't try and satisfy every need of your customer. When you do, you will wind up diluting the overall value of what you're providing your customers. You will serve the customer best by dealing with the number one need they have. By doing so, you have the privilege of helping them deal with their most critical source of pain.

Too many times, salespeople in the race to try and close a sale try to position their product or service as being a solution that will take care of nearly every problem the customer has. When the salesperson starts down this road, the customer will automatically begin to think there is something wrong. There is no way the salesperson could assure everything. If the salesperson does this, the customer will naturally begin to reject everything.

Simply put, by trying to sell everything, you will wind up selling nothing. The customer ends up losing confidence in you. Once you know the customer's most critical need, focus your efforts on that one item. Doing so will increase the level of confidence the customer has in you and ultimately allow you to close the sale.

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

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hanging on Through the Challenges

Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to get through the day, and this piece from speaker and author Josh Hinds is just that!

One thing is for certain, when you go the extra mile there's always someone, somewhere who takes notice. The challenge is that it may appear that know one sees the extra effort you're putting in, and in turn there's a tendency to give up in frustration -- which unfortunately undoes any good will you've built up to that point.

Admittedly, it's not easy to stand your ground and keep on piling on the value -- especially when it seems that there's not a living soul who is taking notice.

If you can distinguish yourself from the people who give up, and stick to it you'll reap the rewards of those who give their best no matter what -- and in turn achieve results which are available only to those who can hang on through the challenge.

Always remember that you've got greatness in you -- and that someone (whether you choose to believe it or not) is always taking notice!

One helpful idea is to track your own daily successes along the way. Doing so will allow you to see first hand that you're making a real difference, and that you're contributing in a big way.

It's perfectly acceptable that until others step in and do so -- that you create your own source of validation. Tracking your daily accomplishments will allow you to do just that.

Josh Hinds is a speaker, trainer, and author on topics such as networking and personal branding. Check out his popular newsletter at www.GetMotivation.com.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Power of Asking

Sales trainer Kelley Robertson always offers up practical, useful advice in his newsletter, and this piece is no exception. Read on to see how simply asking for things can change your sales.

"Being a sales person is not an easy task especially in today's business climate." says Robertson. "However, you can improve your results by learning how to ask. Here are some ideas to get you started."

Ask for help. First and foremost, if you need help it is essential that you ask. Ask the top sales person in your company for ideas, advice and feedback. Ask your boss for coaching or direction. Ask people in your network for insights and suggestions to improve your results.

Ask for the appointment. Too many people beat around the bush and don't ask a new prospect for an appointment. This strategy can result in more meetings which will lead to more sales. Try asking, "Does it make sense for us to meet?"

Ask more high-value questions.
After 15 years of training sales people, I have found that the majority simply don't ask enough high-value questions. High-value questions force your prospect or customer to think and will give you insight to their current situation, problems and desired outcomes. It sounds simple but more people feel uncomfortable asking these types of questions because they think they are too probing and they feel that their prospect will be offended.

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, April 20, 2010

Call Back to Add Value

I've posted many articles on this blog that talk about not calling to "follow up." It's something I think we're all pretty familiar with, and have heard about frequently. That being said, when I read this article from sales trainer Tim Rohrer I thought it gave great, concrete examples of what to do, rather than what not to do. Here's what Rohrer has to say:

When calling a client after a meeting, never call to "follow up." While you're losing that expression, lose all of these, too:

Check(ing) In
Touch Base(s)
Circling Back

Also, don't call to:

See if you had any questions
Make sure you received my e-mail
Ask if you had a chance to think about my presentation
Find out the result of the conversation with the decision maker or
Wonder about next steps

All of these reasons for calling are about you and they convert you from a solutions provider to a typical product pushing seller that wants to know if he is going to make a sale. "But", you might be saying, "don't we want to know if we are going to make the sale?"

Of course you want to know and you're going to get your chance to find out. But, before that you have to make sure the phone call has value for the prospect.

Therefore, call the prospect back to add value to the sales process. Now, you can't very well call someone back and say:

"Hi Jim, it's Mike. Hope all is well. The reason for the call is to add value to the sales process."

But, that is exactly what you will be doing without saying so. Adding value to the sales process is easy if you spend just a couple of minutes thinking about your presentation. What did the prospect say about the most important of their objectives? Identify one or two and then address those issues at the beginning of the call-back. For example, if the prospect indicated that speed of installation was important you might say,

"Hi, Jim, it's Mike (from company X). After our meeting, remembering that speed of installation was important to you, I checked with the warehouse. Do you have a minute to hear what I found out?"

Undoubtedly, Jim will have a minute to learn what you found out because this information has value to him. Now, if speed of installation wasn't important you wouldn't call back to discuss what you found out when you checked with the warehouse.

Instead, you might address the question of tax breaks, or color selection, or availability or trade-in value. Whatever the prospect identified as important!

"Hi, Jim, it's Mike (with Company X). After our meeting, I called the Regional Vice President of our company, who is the foremost authority on tax implications related to our products. Do you have a second to learn about the tax advantages of buying this month?"

"Yes!"

"Hi, Jim, it's Mike (with Company X). After our meeting, I scoured every single source to find the color you wanted and guess what?"

"What?"

Each of these call backs will be welcomed by the prospect - your call has added value to the sales process. Once you've begun a conversation with them about their issues, it's perfectly okay to ask for some information about your issues. To always call back with additional value think about the one or two most important issues revealed during the sales presentation and then call back:

1) With additional, relevant information
2) To offer an alternative solution (e.g. "I was thinking about the solution and I've come up with something that will work better. Do you have a minute to discuss why the alternative solution is better than the original?")
3) To confirm your solution was endorsed by an expert (e.g. "After our meeting, I ran into our Chief Technology Officer and ran my ideas past him. Do you have a second to hear why he thought our plan was a good one?")
4) To offer an incentive (e.g. "I just learned of an important rebate on the product we were discussing. Do you have a minute to learn about the effect on your price?")
5) To inform about deadlines (e.g. "The rebate we discussed is set to expire at the end of the month.")

Here's how a call-back with value might go:

"Hello, this is Jim."

"Hi Jim, it's Mike with Company X. After our meeting, I had a discussion with my sales manager about your most important concerns. Do you have a minute to hear what I found out?"

"Yes."

"Okay. Regarding point #1, she said that we could absolutely do it. On point #2, she said that under normal circumstances she wouldn't do it. However, if you can make a commitment by the end of the week she would make an exception."

"Good. Okay, well that's good news."

"Yes. In light of this new information, what are the next steps in the process. Do you think your team will be ready to move forward by the end of the week, or no?"

Call back to add value to the sales process and you will be able to move the process along much more smoothly than if you were calling simply to follow up!

Tim J.M. Rohrer is a recognized leader in sales and sales management. He writes about his experiences in advertising sales on his blog at http://www.salesandmarketingloudmouth.com. Currently employed as a Sales Manager at Radio One in Atlanta, he can be reached through e-mail at [email protected]

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Quote of the Week

"What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle and giving 110% all the time." -- Don Zimmer, Baseball Manager

Any one out there a baseball fan? There have been a lot of great games lately - no-hitters, walk-off home runs, and games lasting for over 6 hours! Whew!

The most interesting thing about baseball to me is how many games the teams play for. To be successful, they have to keep up their intensity for months, and play to win day in and day out. To be successful, we need to be the same way at the office, giving 110% each day. No matter what skills you start with, effort and desire are the biggest motivators that will get you to where you want to be.

So what are you waiting for? Start working with hustle, desire, and intensity today!

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Friday, April 16, 2010

The Role Your Self-Image Plays in Your Results

It's a topic that no one wants to broach, but it is "the topic" when it comes to sales results and that is: What is the image you have of yourself? The most common way this comes out is: What is your image of the role you have in the buyer-seller process.

One of my clients is a middle-aged man who's been in his position for twenty years and is arguably the most knowledgeable person in the US when it comes to one specific niche. Yet, as we went through the exercise of finding your value, he could not come to the conclusion that he, personally, brought any extra value to the table, beyond his product/service.

It was preposterous yet at the same time common. Sometimes our humility gets the best of us, and we discount the value we bring to the process in favor of the value our product brings to the process.

In this case, the question I asked him was, "What would you do to help the customer maximize the use of the product they bought post sale?" He came up with a list of five things that he would do over the course of a year that would virtually guarantee that the customer maximize the investment in the product. In essence, the product itself was not the issue in this sale. It was how to get the product to work right after it was installed. (And I don't mean that it was a flawed product. I mean, that like a lot of technology products, most people underuse the potential.)

After he came up with that list, his eyes got brighter and he stood up straighter and discovered that he is the thing that his customer cannot get anywhere else on the planet, and when they decide not to do business with him, they give up his expertise and his ability to make that small investment into a large return.

Recommendation

I urge you to think about the value you bring personally to the table through your experiences, your insight, your perspective, your collective knowledge of others in your organization that have expertise. You'll be shocked at how valuable you really are. And if your self-image will allow you, you'll be able to talk about that in a nice, conversational, elegant, non-cocky way.

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.CaskeyOne.com.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Successful Habits of Professionals - Part 2

Yesterday we featured excellent tips from business and networking expert Andrea Nierenberg on how you can build professional habits that will keep your business going strong. The best part? They're so manageable, you can start implementing them today, so you start seeing the results in your business right away!

1. Be "Fed Ex" fast and "Disney" friendly - this is such a great visual and we all know exactly what it means. We live in a fast paced, nano second world. Deliver your message quickly and to the point. You may only get 90 seconds with a prospect - make sure to use that time well.

Your first 20 words help the other person decide whether or not they want to take the rapport further. Always ask permission first - it may not be a good time to talk - and go back when the time is right and always with a sincere smile.

2. Follow up and Accountability are keys to success - Always be sure to stay in touch which also communicates your intent, support and credibility.

3. Passion, Enthusiasm and Excitement Sells. As Ray Kroc who started McDonald's would say - 'I hire people who have ketchup in their veins' - What do you have in your own DNA that conveys the passion and commitment of your brand, product and service?

4. Action - not only re-action. Usually when we are in reaction mode - it is too late. Allow space in your day and your mind to visualize the future so you are prepared for the daily changes that will happen in your business. Continually listen, read, and build strong networks in all areas of your life.

5. Listen with 24/7 awareness. Your clients, advocates, friends and anyone else - will tell you what they need and ways to improve and adjust. We just need to be sure that our ears are open to what they are telling us.

6. Under promise and over deliver. You will surprise your clients and they know that you are credible and will go the extra mile. I once heard - always go the extra mile and take the high road - always less traffic there.

7. Be an innovator. Live in an environment of creativity and innovation. Encourage new ideas, systems and tools. Never be content with the 'now' - tomorrow it will be outdated. Look to continually think outside of the box or comfort zone.

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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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Successful Habits of Professionals

Business expert Andrea Nierenberg recently compiled a great list of habits of professionals - habits that can only give you more success! We'll share them today and tomorrow, let us know if you put one or two into your daily routine.

1. Write a daily list of must do's. Have only one master list that will help you map out your day. You will see where you need to invest your time to maximize your efforts and objectives. Invest first in what you can least afford to lose!

2. Practice total preparation. I always say that one hour of preparation will save you three hours in execution. Always expect the unexpected and be flexible. Project realistically - it always takes longer to complete a task then we often think it will - allow yourself enough reserve time.

3. Picture yourself as a solution source and give extra value. Be the person that others look to as the 'go to' person. Going the extra mile and getting the job done no matter what (reaching out to alliances and people in your network - only makes you more valuable.

4. Live the goals that you create for yourself. Our subconscious mind does not know the difference between the present and the future and will work quicker to manifest these goals if 'it is already happening.' Obstacles will come up - they are just bumps in the road to realizing your goal. They are meant to either strengthen your own commitment or perhaps you need to revisit and take another path.

5. Stay in your 'Strength' zone. Invest in yourself and what you do well and how to get better and delegate the other areas. For me - I know that in order for me to stay focused on what I do best and continually improve 'my game' I delegate the other administrative and operational tasks that I can give to the trusted advisors that work with me.

6. Build and continually build strong relationships. We are always 'selling' ourselves and maintaining our integrity and character. When someone buys that and we develop a strong and powerful trust, it is much easier to talk about the products and services we sell.

7. Invest in your brand. Factor in skill building enhancement. Competition is alive, well and will always be part of the scenario. Keep learning, expanding, reinventing yourself and stretch in unexpected ways and you will find yourself approaching even the most familiar with new and fresh eyes.

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, April 13, 2010

Goal-Setting Rules

Goal setting is an important part of your business - check out these goal setting guidelines from sales expert Brian Tracy and see your business grow!

First
Your goals must be in harmony with one another, not contradictory. You cannot have a goal to be financially successful, or to build your own successful business, and simultaneously have a goal to spend half your day at the golf course or at the beach. Your goals have to be mutually supportive and mutually reinforcing.

Second
Your goals must be challenging. They must make you stretch out without being overwhelmed. When you initially set goals, they should have about a 50 percent or better probability of success. This level of probability is ideal for motivation, yet not so difficult that you can become easily discouraged.

Third

You should have both tangible and intangible goals, both quantitative and qualitative. You should have concrete goals that you can measure and evaluate objectively. At the same time, you should have qualitative goals, for your inner life and your relationships.

Fourth
You need both short-term goals and long-term goals. You need goals for today and goals for five, ten, and twenty years from today. The ideal short-term timeframe for business, career and personal planning is about ninety days. The ideal long-term period for these same goals is two to three years. These time horizons seem to be the ideal for continuous motivation.

Fifth
The ideal life is focused, purposeful, positive and organized so that you are moving toward goals that are important to you every hour of every day. You always know what you're doing and why. You have a continuous sense of forward motion. You feel like a "winner" most of the time.

Sixth
The decision to become a goal-setting, goal achieving, future focused person gives you a tremendous sense of control. Your self-esteem increases as you progress toward your goals. You like and respect yourself more and more. Your personality improves and you become a more positive, confident person. You feel happy and exited about life. You open the floodgates of your potential and begin moving faster and faster toward becoming all that you were meant to be.

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

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Quote of the Week

"You promote yourself every time you take on a new responsibility." -- William Gore, executive

A lot of people are out looking for jobs...which means they could be out looking for your job! One of the best ways to maintain job security (and maybe even make more sales) is to take on more responsibility.

Is there a small job you can take on that would show your boss your initiative? What about joining a committee or creating a business brainstorming group? Showing your boss you're willing to take on more, or do more to help create business, will show him how valuable you are.

Ideas? Comments? Please share!

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Why asking "What's your budget?" can hurt your sales

Shortly after my last newsletter went out, I got an email from Lauren. She liked my article, but was frustrated because she couldn't easily Tweet about it. Now that may not be one bit important to you, but check out what happened next.

Lauren's email continued: Unless I'm missing something, you don't have that capability enabled which I'm *very* surprised about. You are considering social networks when doing this, right? If not, we're more than open to speak with you about how we could help you.

I was impressed. She'd spotted a potential opportunity for her business and immediately followed up on it. Plus, her message made it clear that I was lagging behind where I should have been.

The only thing she didn't know was if it was important to me. It was. I wrote back:

Thanks for your note! And, I am guilty as charged. My email service provider does have social media capabilities, but I haven't started using them yet. It's time to get on it!

I also need to get my blog social media friendly. I don't have anyone working on that right now. It's a small project, but a necessary one. Interested?

Of course, she was. She asked, "What's your budget for this?"

That's exactly what traditional sales training tells you to ask. To find out if you're dealing with a qualified buyer, you're supposed make sure they have money in their budget for your product or service.

It was the wrong question to ask!

Suddenly all the progress Lauren was making came to a screeching halt. I didn't have any money in the budget. Nor could I respond intelligently to her question since I didn't have a clue how much time and effort it took to accomplish the task.

Yet I was a qualified buyer. I had money to spend; it just wasn't allocated to improving my social media presence.

When I told Lauren I was stumped, she was surprised at my reaction. After all, it was a fair question to ask from her perspective. Knowing my budget, she could propose a solution that would fit within it.

But in the end, that wouldn't be the right thing - for her or me.

Still confused? Let's say your car is making some worrisome noises. One day in the parking lot, an automotive specialist hears it and approaches you.

He says, "Your car is really idling roughly. With the way it's sounding, I'm not sure if you'll make it to your business meetings next week. Have you thought about getting it fixed?"

Of course, this captures your attention. You respond, "Yeah, I am a little worried. What's happening? What are your thoughts?"

He asks, "What's your budget?"

Is that really what you want to hear?

Of course not. You don't know what's wrong. You don't know how much parts and labor cost. You just want the darn thing running so you can work.

And even if you don't have any money in the budget, you'll find some if it's important.

You'd much rather hear him say, "Mmm. Let me take a better look and give you a recommendation. I'll need to ask you some questions."

Then I bet you'd love him to come back to you with a couple of options. The first one would show you what it would take to solve the immediate problem, while the second would focus on upcoming needs or additional ideas.

Here's the deal.

The "What's your budget?" question only works for planned purchases.

When Lauren contacted me, I was interested. And, I was willing to spend the money if I felt it was a good business decision.

That's just like the 90% or more of the prospects you deal with on a regular basis. They still haven't decided if they're going to change from their status quo. They don't have money in the budget for new investments.

In short, they haven't yet made that critical Second Decision that I describe in my new book, SNAP Selling.

How you deal with prospects who've already decided to change is fundamentally different from how you deal with those who could be tempted, but haven't yet committed to taking action. Remember that next time you're worried about the budget!

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies and founder of the Sales Shebang, is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and industry events. For more articles like this, visit www.SellingtoBigCompanies.com. Sign up for the newsletter and get a bonus Sales Call Planning Guide.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Never "Check In"

We're often told that it's imperative to maintain contact with customers and prospects so that they don't forget us, so that we stay top of mind. Intuitively, this makes sense. After all, "out of sight, out of mind" is a saying we've all heard since childhood. So it would seem to make sense that being "in-sight" (or "in voice") would - in and of itself - be a smart strategy for us in Sales.

Well, maybe. Like a lot of things, it depends.

Put yourself in the shoes of one of your customers. You're in the middle of an important project, and your phone rings. You pick it up.

"Hi, this is Bob from Acme Company. I was just checking in to see how things are going."

What's your reaction? Gratitude? Exhilaration? Appreciation? Or...annoyance? You get the picture.

Simply calling to "check in" is not going to score you any points. It's not going to advance your agenda. On the contrary, it may lose you a few points. You may become the sales rep whose phone number customers dread seeing on caller ID, because your call represents an unwanted interruption - instead of the welcome break you want it to be.

So how can you ensure that you're perceived as that welcome break, and not the unwanted interruption? By making sure that every contact with your customers contains value. And what kind of value can we provide? Information. Insights. Ideas. Connections. Stuff you believe your customer doesn't know, doesn't have access to, or may but is too busy to dig it up himself - but which he should be aware of, because it'll help him do his job better, gain a competitive advantage, or accrue some other benefit. It could be a piece of industry scuttlebutt that didn't make its way into the industry press yet, let alone into the general press. An idea you picked up at a seminar or webinar. Some nugget that was tweeted by an authority you're following - that your customer likely isn't (because they don't tweet). Or a person you met whom you believe would likely become a customer of your customer. What you're accomplishing is solidifying your relationship with your customer (which helps to stave off competition) or, in the case of a prospect, positioning yourself as a useful and valuable resources, which elevates you in their mind from an average vendor to the preferred one.

Set aside some time - an hour, perhaps - to think, really think, about what's important to each and every one of your customers and prospects (especially those you find yourself chasing). Review your notes to see what seemingly innocuous comments were made that in fact might present an opportunity for you to address. Then think about what you can provide them, or advise them on - that would be beneficial to them. Make this a regular part of your prospecting/account management repertoire, and you're sure to see a higher closure ratio with prospects, and a higher retention rate (and greater up-sell and cross sell revenues) with customers.

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, April 7, 2010

Moving On

Today sales trainer Tom Reilly shares some insight about how to move forward - let us know what you think in the comments!

One problem with a long recession is the mindset that develops throughout the downturn. Survival is primary. Companies and their employees do whatever they can to protect what they have and minimize their losses. The constant battering of bad economic news takes its toll on our collective psyche.

People become overly cautious - they hoard, hunker down, and play defense. They seem to forget the fundamental reality of competition. More points are scored while playing offense than while playing defense. Consequently, when things turn, some people and companies are slower than others to participate in the recovery.

The economic news these days is much better. Companies are spending. Earnings are improving. Even jobs are returning to many sectors. Granted, a few industries are lagging - they always do. Overall, things are getting better, so it's time to participate.

Here's a thought for the week: Let your sales focus this week be on thriving in this recovery. If you're working, you survived - you held on. Now, turn your attention to gaining ground. It's time to focus on growth. I talk to many salespeople that are exploiting these opportunities. You can, too. Take this spirit of optimism to your customers and infect them with your enthusiasm. Let's put this recession behind us and get on with the business of selling.

Tom Reilly is the president of Tom Reilly Training. He is an authority on value-added selling, and speaks to thousands of salespeople and managers annually on increasing their value to their company and customers.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Good, Better, Best

Given a choice of three price points, approximately two-thirds of those who make a purchase will choose the middle one. Because of this tendency, there is a school of thought that calls for all sellers to offer three solutions - a low-price version, a "right" priced version and a premium-priced version.

The belief is that most buyers will not choose the cheapest version because of their perception that they aren't getting a high quality solution. Some will choose the premium solution because they want the best and everybody else chooses the middle version.

Perhaps, this approach gained momentum because of the Sears catalog. Back in the day, for those of you under the age of 30 who have no idea of what I speak, there was a publication mailed by Sears to nearly every household in America. At least everyone in America that I knew had the Sears catalog in their house. In this catalog was every product stocked by Sears with a picture and a description. Imagine!

Anyway, besides children using the book as a step ladder to reach the cookie jar on the kitchen counter, folks of all types would actually consult the book to decide what to buy. This was long before the days where one could research products via the internet. There were no product reviews available at one's fingertips. There were no helpful legions of people writing about how they enjoy or despise products. No, but Sears, being aware of the need for some further guidance, provided a fool-proof system to guide the consumer toward the right purchase.

The system was Good, Better, Best. Here's how it worked. Let's say that you wanted to buy a circular saw. You would go to the tools section of the catalog and look at the pictures and descriptions of Craftsman circular saws. You might discover, for example, that the Good saw boasted a 7" diameter blade and used a 2 1/2 horsepower motor for $29.99. The Better saw may have used 7" or 8" blades powered by a 3 1/2 horsepower motor - plus it had a spring-loaded safety guard for $39.99. Finally, the Best saw had 7" or 8" interchangeable blades, a 5 hp motor, the spring loaded guard and a built-in leveling system for straighter cuts for $49.99, for example.

All the consumer had to do was pick the saw that best suited his needs, fill out a form with his Sears credit card number and mail it in. Or, he could call the 800 # for faster service. Simple, right?

Simple, but the problem was that many people didn't know which of the three options suited them because they weren't able to articulate their circular saw needs and then match those needs to the capabilities of the different saws. As a result, the choice was really a crapshoot. Should one go with the cheapest and hope that the saw was adequate or go with the most expensive and hope that they needed all the gadgets that made Sears Best worth the money? In the end, most people would simply go with the middle choice figuring that it was good enough.

The days of the Sears catalog are gone and gone with it are the days of Good, Better, Best. The professional seller should never offer a Good, Better, Best set of options because the professional seller should have done research on the prospect, asked the prospect diagnostic questions, developed their needs and presented a customized solution. The professional seller always makes a specific recommendation aka a customized solution.

There are those who will object and say that it is better to give prospects choices. I will have to disagree. The prospect already has choices. They could choose to buy from you or any number of your competitors. Your job is to differentiate yourself in such a way that the prospect chooses you as the professional seller with whom they want to do business. Once that decision is made the prospect will be looking to you for guidance and a professional recommendation.

Of course, it is true that there will be times when the prospect will balk at your solution. Probably most times. I am not suggesting that you be inflexible and unweilding. Just the opposite, really. Articulating your recommendation after getting a complete understanding of the customer's needs is a great starting point for negotiating a final solution with which the customer is satisfied. Adding on or taking off elements of your proposal to get it to that place where your prospect becomes a customer is just part of the way that sales works.

Offering a Good, Better, Best solution doesn't serve your customers in quite the same way and it is not the way of the modern, professional seller.

Sam Manfer delivers keynote speeches and in-depth selling workshops for those anxious to increase sales. His hands-on coaching turns individuals and sales organizations into selling whirlwinds. Follow Sam's C-Level Selling Blog for more insights.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out." -- Robert Collier

You don't have to change everything about the way you do business to become more successful - instead change something small, one thing at a time. You'll be amazed at what getting into the office 15 minutes early does for your productivity, or how easy it is to make one more prospecting call rather than getting up to chat with a co-worker. These small things make a big difference, and by changing them one at a time you're changing your habits without ever feeling overwhelmed.

What small things can you do to change the way you work? Let us know in the comments what has worked for you - the more suggestions the better!

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Sales Strategies vs. Sales Tactics

How many times can we talk about the difference between sales strategy and sales tactics? Today sales trainer Bill Caskey goes back to basics!

Your sales strategy should be really, really simple...the simpler it is to understand, the more likely your sales team will understand and execute against it.

Your sales strategy should be to educate the customer to the problems he has - and help him solve them.

Everything you do in the marketing/lead generation/sales process should have THAT as your end goal. The mistake most companies make is they make their strategy about THEM - not the customer.

I recently spoke to a group where I asked the question, "What is your sales strategy?" The answers I got indicated that they had done no definitive work on the subject. Isn't that a bit absurd? With as much chatter as there is about the concept of sales strategy - to have done no work on it? None!

So, now that you have your new strategy, your sales tactics - and marketing tactics - should line up to support that. Here are some tips:

--Maybe you publish an article about all the mistakes you observe people making in the process of solving problems.
--Maybe you create a video where you interview a client about the problems they had they didn't know about.
--Maybe you create a speech that you deliver to groups in your area - your niche - where you discuss the Top 10 Problems people experience without your solution.

You get the idea. Do some work on strategy. And when you do, make sure your customer is at the center of it.

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.
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

What to Do During a Sales Dry Spell

The dry spell...we all go through them, but they can be sales killers - they drain your energy and your spirit. Take this advice from sales trainer Kim Duke and get out of that dry spell as quick as you can!

Years ago I had a goofy boss who looked and acted like Yosemite Sam. Yosemite Sam did however, have a great piece of advice for me when I was going through a nasty sales SLUMP.

Honestly it was a dry spell that was so dry I had sand in my mouth. I wasn't closing any deals and it felt like I was losing contracts far more than I was getting them.

He looked at me with his one eyebrow and said...

"Go out and sell something small. It will build your confidence."

I'm sure I rolled my eyes but I went out and sold something ridiculously small. (I kid you not - I think I sold a non-profit agency some commercials that totaled $300.)
It was easy. Why? Because I thought it was small and therefore I didn't feel pressure.

But I had BROKEN THE DRY SPELL.

And I went on to sell something a little bigger. And then a little bigger than that.
And before you know it - I was back in the game!

Are You Stuck In A Sand-Dune?

Maybe you're having a sales slump right now and quite frankly, you're feeling a little depressed about it. You're probably faking it to your customers and everyone else but deep down you feel DREADFUL. You're freaking out in fact.

It's easy to fix. Get out there and sell something small.

Contact one of your old customers who loves you and fill an order. Offer a Blow-Out offer they can't resist and let them know it only happens once per year and it's because they're such great clients.

You'll break the sales DRY SPELL, it will increase your confidence and you'll be off and running and selling BIG DEALS again. Trust me. It works!

Kim Duke is an unconventional, sassy and savvy sales expert who shows women small biz owners and entrepreneurs how to increase sales in a fun, easy, stress-free way! Learn more and sign up for her free e-zine at www.salesdivas.com

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