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We are all on email overload – all the time. For many of us, email is our first line of communication. Email has, in many cases, taken the place of the business letter or marketing kit. As I write this, I must confess that I have a growing number of unread emails I have yet to sift through and respond to this afternoon. Forget about spam, which is so not cool… even my ‘priority’ emails can quickly become a wasteland where information goes to die.

The same is true for my prospects. When sending them an email, I can safely assume mine is not the only one they will receive that day. Chances are they already have 1-3 emails sitting in their inbox asking them for “time to connect” or telling them about some “really great opportunity”.

Statistics show that most sales emails have a response rate of about 1%. In other words, if you send an email to 100 prospects, you most likely will only get one response back.

So, how do you make your email stand out from the crowd? How do you catch their attention? How do you make them an offer they cannot refuse?

Below are four simple tips to keep in mind as you master the art of composing a sales email that your proects cannot pass up.

  1. Subject line will matter. It needs to be intriguing, something they feel compelled to click on and open. People have little time and even less desire to open an email that is not useful to them in some way. Avoid “spammy” words like complementary, discount, and sale.  Your subject line should be personal and grab their attention. Know your prospect’s needs. Offer advice and solutions.
  2. Email body must have a purpose. Now that you have piqued their interest and they have opened your email instead of deleting it, you need to clearly state your purpose for reaching out. Whether you are trying to: warm up a cold lead, set a time to meet, or close a deal – your message should convey value and offer them something that aligns with their goals!  Less is more, so keep it short and simple. If you want to ensure that you stand out from the pack, only share clear and relevant sales content. Cramming your email full of too many details about a service or product, will only ensure it gets deleted before they have read through the entire text.
  3. Closing should finish strong. Here is where you should give them a clear path to action. The last thing they read should leave them thinking about their next step. End with just one question, one that prompts a response.
  4. Signature line is important. Do not forget to include a phone number in the contact information after your signature or name. Including your email address is a little redundant, but your phone number is a must.

For more sales email tips, come back soon for 3 Do’s and Don’ts of prospecting emails.

Refferals

In life, there are three R’s everyone has had to master at one point or another; Romance, Relatives and Roommates. As sales people, you get the added task of a fourth R; Referrals.  Referrals are an extremely powerful selling tool. Yet why is it, many people share in the difficulty of obtaining them?

Your best lead for new business and future sales are referrals that have been sent your way by a satisfied client, who will attest to the value of your ideas, products and service. Maybe it is that you do not want to seem desperate or look like you are asking for a favor? Or, maybe you just do not know the right time to pop the question? There definitely are proven methods for getting referrals.

Below are six strategies to keep in mind, as you are learning how to master the fourth ‘R’.

  1. Connections – every one of your clients, friends and work affiliates could potentially connect you with dozens of contacts. People prefer and are much more comfortable doing business with someone they know, or at least know of. When you have been endorsed by someone they know and trust, it is much easier to open the door. The possibilities for new connections are limitless.
  2. Social media – different networking platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are invaluable assets to your business. They are especially helpful when you are trying to generate referrals and acquire new clientele. If you have a name, ask your source if it would be okay to connect with the third party and use their name in the introduction.  Know the purpose of each tool and be certain to ensure your posts reflect your brand and image in the right way.
  3. Simply ask – sales are often lost because a sales person did not ask for the order. It is the same with referrals. Do not be shy about asking for referrals. You are great at what you do and you add value to your client’s lives. Because of that, you should never shrink away from the chance to benefit someone else and enrich their experiences as well.
  4. Help them help you – when asking for referrals, describe the type of people or organizations that are your ideal prospects. If you make them think too hard, they will respond with the statement, “Let me think about it and get back to you.”  A few examples, if you are in job search mode, specify your target companies or the ideal role you are seeking.  If you are looking for internal leads, ask if they can introduce you to people in that specific department.
  5. Offer incentives – the type of incentives you offer should coincide with the type of business you run or product you offer. In addition to a free item, you could offer discounts, upgraded packages, bonus material, or credit to their account. Do not be afraid to test various methods to find out what offer entices clients the most and encourages them to make referrals.
  6. Reciprocity – the law of reciprocity is if you give, you shall receive. If you see a need you cannot meet, make a referral. Remember, positive energy and good intentions always come back around. So look for every opportunity to promote someone and build them up. One of the most effective ways to elicit referrals is to give them bountifully yourself.

There is room at the top for everyone and it’s much easier to get there with a little help and encouragement from our friends.

The road to “Yes” is paved with an enormous amount of “No”.  As sales people, we encounter an abundant amount of rejection. You must power through countless unanswered calls and emails, and even more uninterested prospects, before finding our “Yes”. You are not alone in this. Some of the greatest minds in the world faced near insurmountable rejection before reaching a breakthrough. The secret to their success is simple.  They succeeded where others failed because they simply did not quit! They took each adversity, each “No” and piece by piece paved their own road to success.

Below are a few simple things to remember the next time you think you are not getting the sale and are feeling overwhelmed with your obstacles.   You will need these to break free from your long-term, sometimes abusive, life partner named “No.”   Never assume “No” or “I will think about it” as their final answer until you try these techniques.

Focus on building trust and relationship.  Invite people into your life. Cultivate relationships.  Show a genuine interest in your prospects and although it is hard, forget about yourself completely. Find out what they are looking for and what is important to them, and learn to ask questions in an interesting way that encourages them to say, “Tell me more.”   When relationships are created or a need is uncovered, the sale with naturally follow even if it takes a while.

“You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.” -Patricia Fripp, author of Get What You Want and Make It SO You Don’t Have to Fake It

Follow Up.  The sale may not happen the first time you ask, or even the second and third time. At this stage, personal relationship is vital to success. You want your follow up to feel more like you are checking in on an old friend and less like you are stalking a date that will not call you back!  So do not be afraid to set a follow up time at the end of your first meeting, whether or not the meeting resulted in a sale. This keeps communication and the door open for a sale in the future.  Drop them articles of interest and find other creative ways to keep yourself in front of them.

 “It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” – Mark Hunter , author of High Profit Selling and High Profit Prospecting.

Everyone is a VIP.  Always treat prospects like they are your most valued customer. Regardless of circumstance, people want to feel valued and important.   They may not have the money, make the budget, or be the final decision maker – – treat them like your important client anyway and they will turn into just that.

“Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck, saying ‘make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people.” – Mary Kay Ash, author of You Can Have It All

Sometimes they need a nudge. You know they have a need, a budget, and they truly want to do business with you.  Yet for whatever reason, they put off the decision. You have done all the above, found genuine reasons to stay in contact, and they affirm the move forward, but it does not get done.  When this happens, wait a little longer than normal to call them and actually say (after the greeting), “Are you ready to get this started?” or “Are you ready to do business with me? “  Say it with a little smile on your face so it reflects in your voice.  This can work 100% of the time, if the you and prospect met the criteria above.

When I facilitate a leadership or sales workshop, I am often asked for suggestions on books to read.  With that in mind, I placed on my website is a list of book suggestions on the different topic areas of training my company does.  Many of these books are classics and a few are new.

I was recently given the newest book by my friend and publisher, Tracey C. Jones.  It is called A Message to Millennials. Below are three key leadership tips taken directly from the text of this book.  Although the book is directed at millennials, smart leaders from the boomer generation have been doing these tips for some time.  If you are not sure what the difference between these two generations are, check out Parade Magazine article on Millennial Vs. Boomers: Habits and Characteristics.  At the bottom of this post, you can also find a video with more about the book and how it can impact business.

  • Expose yourself to the experiences of the great minds who have gone before. In other words, read great books. You don’t have enough time to make all the mistakes, profit from all the failures, and earn all the stripes on your own. Read profusely about how the greats of the past dealt with their individual challenges.”
  • “Create your own best leadership path. Don’t just seek to become rich; seek rather to enrich.”
  • “Truly, the most important part of management is managing yourself. This includes staying focused on people and books that will hone your sense of personal motivation. You need to do this every day for the rest of your life.”

 

Manners still matter!  Be aware of your manners, whether at a restaurant, the golf course, or sporting event. A relaxed atmosphere is not an excuse for lax manners. After all, it is not the first impression that matters; it is maintaining a favorable one throughout the life of the relationship.  With respect to Julie Andrews, just a spoon full of manners helps the message go down in the most delightful way!

“The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” – Martha Beck

No matter how well you know a client, they are always observing you.  If they were raised with dining etiquette and you grab the wrong fork, they notice. If you curse, they notice. If you drink too much, they notice. Formalities or lack thereof may not bite you the first time, eventually it will catch up with you. It may even impact your reputation within your own firm.

Ruthie Bolton said, “If you take in life just a few principles, you won’t have to carry around a suitcase full of rules.”  With that in mind, below are five simple etiquette principles for sales professionals.

  1. Respect their time. People do not have time for visitors. My clients share the overwhelming amount of emails and meetings they have on a daily basis. Keep small talk to a minimum. Thank them for their time and transition quickly to the business at hand by stating the purpose for your meeting or phone call. An appointment without a purpose is simply a visit in disguise. Every appointment should have a clear objective, even if it does not lead to a closed deal. Show up on time, every time.
  1. Listen and be engaged! When you start conversations, and listen to what people are telling you, it will catapult your business. We live in a world where people are more connected than ever before, yet they are starving for a real connection to someone and something! They need to feel valued, important and that you are genuinely interested in them.  Listen to understand instead of listening to respond. To do that, you must forget about yourself and your product completely.
  1. Bring positive energy with you! Be in control of the energy and atmosphere in every room you enter. Little things matter and are noticed, even if it is subconsciously. You dictate the kind of experience people have with you! This starts at your very first interaction. The way you dress, your handshake, eye contact and even your smile matters. Be genuine and authentic. Be bold; speak a little louder and speak clearly. When you are enthusiastic, people want to be a part of what you offer. Your image and attitude are going to be the things people associate with your business, your brand and your product.
  1. Watch your Words! Sometimes the oldest principles are still the best principles. If you don’t have anything nice to say, the polite thing to do is to say nothing. You should never speak negatively about another company, business or person. By knocking the competition, you may be insulting their past decisions and even worse, your organization and the competition may one day merge! Talking about people versus issues is simply gossip.
  1. Give recognition and appreciation. With any form of business etiquette, personalize the process by being specific to the person and situation. Express sincere gratitude and appreciation for their efforts. Give heartfelt praise for accomplishments, big and small. Celebrating achievements encourages repetitive action. Never tell the what without the why! Saying thank you for your business is an easy amenity. Telling them why you are thankful conveys sincerity in appreciation. Don’t be afraid to break out the postcards and hand written notes – in a world of emails and texts these really standout!

Everyone Sells, something I have always have always preached and continue to teach. The poem below shares my insight as to the world of selling; as it was and as we know it today.  My goal is to inspire you to look at selling as you would any other professional skill. Selling is simply persuading, influencing or even as Dan Pink puts it, “moving” people to your ideas or your way of thinking.

 

The Rebirth of a Salesman; The Sales Professional Resurrected
A Poem ©2014 by Mary Anne (Wihbey) Davis

Door-to-Door Salesman

The Door-to-Door Salesman

Once upon a time,
There was an occupation.
It was an extremely respected,
Form of vocation.
“Salesman” is what they called him,
He knocked on your door.
Selling vacuums and brushes,
And encyclopedias galore.

He walked up and down your street,
With his bibles and props,
Often carrying insurance rate books and mops.
It was a different time,
When door-to-door was the way.
They came to sell,
And we asked them to stay.

Those times were different,
For now it’s a chore,
To get to know someone,
Who comes knocking at your door.

As businesses grew,
So did the goals,
Sales managers got tougher,
At the expense of their souls.
To the sales rep they gave advice,
Like “hammer em” , “grind em”, and never take no
And therefore,
Some of those salesmen forgot to be nice.

Overtime, they were no longer welcome
Inside of our house.
We closed the blinds when we saw them,
Keeping quiet as a mouse.

We brought up our kids to be Doctors,
Lawyers and Indian Chiefs,
Never a sales rep,
For they were looked at as thieves!

And what we did not realize as the times changed
Adjustments to our communications had to be made
A select few had insight on what it would take
To survive and thrive and keep up with the times
They covered up what they did; hid it well
Never admitting to that in their success was to sell.

As we wake up today
I have come to surmise
The salesman has resurrected;
We are ALL sales reps in disguise!

Parents sell their kids on being good
Job seekers say, I am the one you should….
Even pastors and priests
Try to sell you on their beliefs!
Our belongings go on e-bay, one by one
And love?  Well, it’s match.com for some.

So, I’m here to explain
We are all in sales and it is not in vain.

Three Great Sales BooksIf you want to get better at sales, you must keep educating yourself on being a better sales person and communicator.  An easy and enjoyable way to do this is to read books.  Reading a book helps you to go deeper into new concepts, review tried and true strategies, and engage your brain.

To Sell Is Human:  The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink uses Dan’s study research in his “What We Do At Work” to validate what I have been preaching for years, “Everyone Sells”.  This book offers practical insight as to how to use the gift of communication to move people from A to B. That’s what selling is all about moving people, encouraging them to willing make a change, open up their mind to a new idea or persuading them to your way of thinking in a manner that is non combative. This is a book for every sales professional who wants to communicate better with customers!

Three Value Conversations: How to Create, Elevate, and Capture Customer Value at Every Stage of the Long-Lead Sale by Erick Peterson, Tim Riesterer, Conrad Smith, and Cheryl Geoffrion is filled with hidden gems.  This book delivers strategies on how to be engaging throughout the sales process. A key element of the book is about learning to build a buying vision and tell the story of how your product and services supports their vision. If you are looking to become a valued partner within your client organizations, this book is a must read on engagement!

The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh, with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh, is a must read for sales representatives and management leaders everywhere! This book focuses on monitoring and measuring what matters and if you do what it takes, the score will follow.  There are lots of golden nuggets throughout this book to help every professional level within your company’s sales department.

For more sales success reading suggestions, visit the Peak Performance Solutions resources for a book list.

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