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Posts Tagged ‘Sales’

For many entrepreneurs making the sale or closing the deal can be intimidating and at times seem like an impossible task. We want to show confidence in our product, services and abilities, but we do not want to be the “always pitching”, “cheesy”, “salesy” person that we have all had the unfortunate experience of dealing with from time to time.  In my experience, the most effective way to make the sale is to drop the “sales” attitude and be authentic. My posture towards potential clients is not that I sell products and services, it is that I solve problems and know how to meet their needs. When you can explain the benefits, the sale happens naturally.

Here are four simple tips to keep in mind as you adjust your sales attitude for the upcoming year.

  1. Dust off the telephone and start making calls. Social media and other modern technology tools are highly effective ways to prospect, promote, and advertise.  The telephone is still the most powerful tool in your kit. Prospects today receive fewer calls than ever before, which is why utilizing the telephone in the right way will catapult your sales.  So planning your calls ahead of time is a must! Set aside enough time to get into a rhythm and make sure that your conversations do not seem rushed. Know your objective and make clear the purpose of your call. One of the most common mistakes people make is by trying to contact their prospects between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm. It is better to call them earlier or later than the traditional office hours. Most of the important prospects are frequently in the office early and stay late, so you have a better chance of catching them and avoiding the “gatekeepers” of you call before 8:30am or after 5:30pm.
  2. You do not have to stick to the script. While it is great to have a script to keep yourself on track and make sure you cover the main talking points, sticking to the script can do more harm than good if it is generic and sounds just like everyone else’s sales pitch. Make sure that your script is client focused and that you are only referencing it for key information.
  3. Focus on their need. The majority of clients and prospects care less about what your product or service is and more about how it solves their problems and alleviates frustrations. Ask your prospects what challenges they are facing and really listen to their response. Follow up with questions that require more than a simple yes or no answer. Then offer solutions by explaining how your product or service will benefit them, meet their need or solve their problem. When you know their needs, you can focus on them. People do not buy products, they invest in solutions.
  4. Close with choices. Rather than asking them “Is that something you are interested in?” or “Does that sound good to you?” – give your prospect a few choices. For example, when I am presenting a DiSC Workshop to a team, I ask if they would prefer a half day or a whole day or training. Or I ask if they would prefer meeting on-site or scheduling something off-site. I am much more likely to seal the deal using this approach, because in a subtle way, they have already committed.
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Email

In my previous post, I provided 4 tips for composing sales emails to prospects and current clients.  This time I want to give two hints and a warning related how to send and prepare better sales emails for the purpose of prospecting to gain new business.  New business can come from existing clients as well as new leads.  See three tips for sales email Do’s and Don’ts below.

 

  1. Do separate prospect mailing list into strategic segments. In order to make the content relevant to all recipients and avoid sending very general emails, you have to segment your lists. Sending every email to every person in your contact list makes it impossible to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. General emails rarely end up anywhere but the trash bin.
  2. Do NOT assume prospects want your attachments. Due to internet crime, recipients may fear an unsolicited attachment may contain a computer virus.  Websites where marketing materials can easily be found as well as more information on your company are helpful and typically preferred attachments.   Put your company website with direct link to email topic within the body of your email.  Then repeat the website directing to home page in your signature line.
  3. Do consider technology that your prospect may be using. Recent research shows that people read their emails on mobile devices at least 50% of the time. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in email marketing is to only optimize your emails for laptops and desktops. Be mindful of smaller screens when you are including content and design. The safest option is to go with a responsive design that will cover all screen sizes from phone to iPad to larger monitors. Otherwise you are decreasing email effectiveness and may be losing a huge portion of your audience.

For 13 more email tips, check out Email Etiquette article.

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Email

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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