Some Things in Life ARE Free

December 31, 2007 at 2:00 pm | Posted in sales, small business | Leave a comment

Happy New Year. Here’s the first goody to help bring in 2008 in a more cost-effective way:)

Check out this site:

http://www.searchfreeapps.com/

Good stuff, right?

And where did I find this—Facebook. The playground of the college set but more and more a practical and effective way to uncover new business opportunities. And kind of fun, too.

The Training Didn’t Work (Revisited)

December 20, 2007 at 7:41 am | Posted in Sales Training | 3 Comments

Back in Sept. I wrote a post about my experience with the prospects that say “the training didn’t work”. I’ve received several comments on that post and even more phonecalls and direct emails from business colleagues that have read the post. Seems that everyone seems to have an opinion and these opinions fall into 2 major camps.

Some folks are in total agreement with me on what steps need to be put in place to make certain that training is sticky and reaps results. Other folks place the “blame” squarely on the shoulders of the trainer and say that if there is no appreciable improvement in sales then…well….the training didn’t work.

As a trainer I’m willing to be introspective and take my share of the blame if sales stats don’t improve. But often it isn’t the training that didn’t work and if I am to be blamed for anything then I should be blamed for not making 100% certain that there is follow-up, follow-through, attention, monitoring and focus paid AFTER the training is done.

Training is not a one-time event. Just because the contract with the trainer has been satisfied it does not mean that training is done. The ball needs to be picked up internally and much like athletes train and practice every day, as do world-class musicians, dancers and so on, so should sales reps train, practice and be coached throughout their tenure in the position.

What if we train them and they leave? What if we don’t train them and they stay?

The Art of the Soft Sell

December 11, 2007 at 7:52 pm | Posted in sales, Sales Training | 1 Comment

When you come across the phrase the art of the soft sell, you might focus your attention on the word “soft.” You might not even do this consciously; many salespeople don’t.

And based on this unconscious focusing, you may lead yourself to believe that the difference between conventional selling and “soft” selling is…well, that you just do the latter softer.

That is, that you do what you’ve always done, but you say please a bit more, or you say it’s really up to you, I’m not here to pressure you, I care more about you than the sale…and other things that, when we write them here in black and white, reveal themselves — perhaps a bit embarrassingly — to be what they are: “injected” politeness within a conventional sales approach. It’s similar to how aggressive, direct-speech people come across when they first try to be “more diplomatic.” Instead of telling you that you’re a total idiot, they say: please let me say that you’re a total idiot.

Not very diplomatic, is it?

Nor is the above-described approach to soft-selling very soft. The reason? It’s all about that unconscious focusing. It’s on the wrong word.

The word to care about here is art; because soft selling really is an art! Just as how you are allowed to look at art and derive your own, personal meaning — the artist EMPOWERS you to do that — true soft selling also has to follow the same path. It has to EMPOWER prospects to build their own meaning, to assess their own value, and to determine — on their own — if you’re selling the solution that they want.

Naturally, you can — and should – assist prospects on their journey of meaning-making. Just as painters don’t offer you a blank painting and say: go ahead and paint whatever you want, I’m easy, you have a variety of tools and techniques at your disposal to usher your prospect towards a favorable destination (a.k.a. doing business with you). These tools and techniques include:

–free, unbiased articles, newsletters, white papers, and other information sources that help your prospect become a better buyer (even if they don’t buy from you)

–providing a free assessment or evaluation that will be valuable to your prospect even if they decide to do business elsewhere (or perhaps not at all)

–paying careful attention to your prospect, and accurately interpreting non-verbal “busy signals” so you know to back off before they ask you to give them more time

–while promoting the benefits of your solution, honestly and openly share the limitations too; your prospect KNOWS that limitations exist — fill in the blanks with reality, instead of leaving it up to your prospects (potentially pessimistic) imagination

–ensure that your prospect “saves face” – don’t position your selling effort so that your prospect feels “stupid” or “unclear” if they don’t do business with you right now

Remember, the key word in the art of soft-selling is the word art, and art is, by its very nature, EMPOWERING. As a “soft seller,” you must truly empower your prospect. Anything less isn’t merely not soft selling, but worse, it’s not artistic.

And crimes against art are hardly forgivable, in galleries or sales efforts alike.

Nah…I Don’t Need to Return That Call

December 9, 2007 at 4:23 pm | Posted in sales, small business | 1 Comment

I’ve called you twice. Emailed you as well.

You didn’t reply to either touch.

The purpose of my contact was to introduce you to the business owner that told me they were looking for a new _______________.

Does that sound like you? How selective are you in replying to calls and emails? Do you think that you might be screening/ignoring a potential lead?

How FAST do you reply to emails and calls? Do you know what/who you might be ignoring?

(And yes, I was that person trying to contact you with a lead. But you didn’t reply.)

That Old Holiday Spirit

December 2, 2007 at 10:10 am | Posted in Customer Service, holiday, sales, small business | Leave a comment

A couple of blogs ago, I touched briefly on an networking issue that really bugs me: people who send me unsigned corporate holiday cards. And in my haste to tell you about this irksome, vile, horrible element in our world (the unsigned corporate greeting card), you may think that this is just a wacky “Adrian thing.”

Well, it’s not.

No wait. It is. But it’s not just *my* thing. I’m not alone in this — and that’s why we need a brand new blog (this one you’re reading now) to clear this up.

Okay. Try this: have you ever received a piece of direct mail — like in your actual postal mail — and you see a handwritten note that says “Adrian, I saw this and thought of you — enjoy.” And so you start to read the material and find out what this is about, but something continues to gnaw at you from the shadows…something isn’t right…what was it though? It was the little note…it was just TOO perfect…the font, I mean. It looked like handwriting, but it was too…robotic. It was “more handwriting than handwriting.”

And then it hits you. That wasn’t a handwritten note at all, but a FONT.

You’ve been FONTIFIED. And that pisses you right off.

Why? Because you feel deceived; you feel duped. Someone “lulled” you into thinking that they went out of their way to engage you, but it turns out, you’re just a random target market database “thing.”

Who wants to be a random target market database thing? Hands up to all of you who played “random target market database thing” in the sandbox at school when you were 5. Really. When Stevie wanted to be an astronaut and Suzie wanted to be an ice skater, did you squeal enthusiastically “oh oh oh when I get older I’m gonna be a random target market database thing!”.

Chances are: no. And there’s even a better chance that, among all of your career experiences an options, random target market database thing is not on your to-do list, and has a less than zero possibility of getting on it.

When I receive holiday greeting cards that are, naturally, addressed to me and SENT to me, I expect NOT to be treated like a random target market database thing. But when I open a greeting card and realize that the sender couldn’t even be bothered to sign it — how long does that take, a nanosecond? — I get mad. I feel deceived; I feel WORSE than if I didn’t get a card at all.

I realize that nobody is entitled to a holiday card. I also realize that if someone is going to take the time to send a card, that’s SUPPOSED to be a “nice thing to do.” But if it’s unsigned, it goes from being a very pleasant gesture to being a mechanical “marketing tool.”

So this holiday season — and for everyone one after this — please, please, please sign your holiday cards. Let the people you’re sending them to know that, for a second (or a nanosecond), you took time from your busy life and thought of them. If you can’t do this, then don’t send a card at all.

At least, don’t send me one, because all you’ll do is piss me off and force me to write another blog about it.

And wouldn’t we rather focus on nicer things?

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