The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

January 23, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Posted in Customer Service, Networking, sales, small business | 2 Comments

Do you agree…you can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on your TV these days without being bombarded by the doom and gloom about the impending recession. It’s enough to make any salesperson want to hide under a rock until happier days return.

However, there is a silver lining in those dark clouds. Consider the warnings a call to action to prepare your business to ride the cycle. If you play your cards right during a downturn, you will not only keep sales up through the cycle, you’ll also find yourself in an even better place when the economy begins to pick up. So, turn down the drone of financial doomsayers and start working this prime opportunity to increase your sales. Here’s how:

Stay Close
Stay close to your customers and prospects in tough times. Dazzle them with customer service. Be one step ahead of their wants and needs and always, always be proactive and anticipate their needs BEFORE they have to ask or remind you. Give them something for nothing. This doesn’t necessarily mean a tangible item. Offer them valuable information, introductions, or some of your extra time.

Cross-Sell
Make certain that you are cross-selling all that you have to offer your customers. This is not the time to leave business on the table for your competitors to scoop up and perhaps even win your part of the business as well.

Focus on Competitive Advantages
Remember that your key competitive advantages are valuable ONLY if they equate to an improvement in situation for your customers and prospects. The bottom-line here – if you can’t offer them an improvement, why should they make a change.

Become an Advisor
Be more than just a salesperson; develop meaningful solutions for your customers. Think out-of-the-box strategies, get creative. Put yourself in the mindset of being a valuable resource to those you sell to.

Work Harder
Most importantly, when times are tough – work harder and smarter, make more calls, utilize better touch-point management, and network, network, network!

Small Business Summit 2008

January 21, 2008 at 9:15 pm | Posted in Networking, small business | Leave a comment

I’m going to the Small Business Summit 2008, http://smallbiztechsummit.com, but the action doesn’t start until you arrive. Please join me and hundreds of other small businesses that come together to learn about cutting edge technology and business solutions, as well as make connections and learn from each other. “This year’s theme is Business & Technology: It’s Time to Reinvent Your Business”. There’s a terrific list of speakers, panels, giveaways and prizes. As with the other two previous Summits, the third annual Summit will be high energy, high fun. Early bird discount through February 1, 2008, http://smallbiztechsummit.com. BE THERE!”

You Had Me At Hello

January 13, 2008 at 2:42 pm | Posted in sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

It must be the start of the New Year when sales professionals hit the ground with all of their (renewed) enthusiasm and energy for cold calling and reconnecting with their dormant accounts.

I sure have received my fair share this past week or so. Some have been great reconnects and I was happy to have showed up in the sales rep’s CRM system.

Others have been….well, a total turn-off.

It’s a fact of life for almost every sales professional that a large portion of business is conducted over the telephone. Unfortunately, without the ability to gauge body language and other visual cues, as well as not being able to have eye contact, it can certainly be a challenge to engage a potential or even a current customer over the phone.

You’re certainly not alone if you dread making customer calls. Practically every salesperson has had their fair share of unproductive phone conversations. But, this post isn’t all doom and gloom- quite the contrary. Rather, the good news is that there are simple techniques that you can use to greatly improve your chances of grabbing a lead or customer’s attention and hopefully making a sale – all with a telephone call. Pardon the pun, but here’s the “411” on successful business telephone communication:

Your hello is the handshake that starts the dialogue.

People will make up their minds about the rest of the conversation within the first few seconds based upon your tone, manner, and inflection. Perhaps, you can change their impression, but isn’t it simply easier to make a good impression right from the beginning?

Plan what you’ll say before you make the call.

Don’t dial that phone number until you are certain about why you are calling and how you will say it. Nothing is more embarrassing and less professional than getting “brain freeze” just when someone picks up their phone. Don’t start the conversation sounding unprepared. If necessary, sketch out what you want to say before you call to help you through the process. (I actually received one call in which the salesperson forgot who they were calling. Things didn’t start out quite so pleasantly when they addressed me as “Karen”.)

Recognize the need to control the dialogue.

You’re the one making the call. Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t expect the person on the other end of the line to do the work for you.

Have a fallback position.

Not every phone conversation will go the way you want it. That’s ok. But, make sure that you are prepared to gracefully change the direction of your conversation, if necessary.

Smile, smile, smile.

Don’t discount the importance of smiling while speaking on the phone. Your enthusiasm will come through, and you simply can’t sound bored or disengaged if you are smiling. (Several of the reps that I spoke to sounded downright angry…or maybe just disinterested. Regardless, their lack of enthusiasm certainly didn’t do anything to get my juices flowing).

Happy dialing.

On the First Day of 2008

January 1, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I think that this resolution thing is our way of starting anew with a nice clean slate, the mistakes, misfortunes and obstacles of the previous year somehow miraculously wiped clean. I wavered about whether or not to make some resolutions for this coming year and then decided that if I was going to do it, I might as well be serious and write them down.

So here goes:

Resolved: I will take, no make, the time for the things that provide me pleasure. Photography, reading and jogging used to play a much more prominent role in my life and somehow in the manic days that now comprise my life, these pursuits have taken a back seat. I want to change the way I allocate my time.

Resolved: I need to learn to say no to toxic people, toxic acitvities and time/energy suckers that eat away at my productivity and soul. (This will be difficult for me.)

Resolved: I need to organize my over cluttered house and discard that which has no meaning. I hold on to things for too long and let sentimentality get in the way of practicality. That’s ok I guess but there has to be some sort of limit. So that’s what I intend to do, set the limit.

And yup, it would have been easier for me to write that I want (need) to ratchet up sales in 2008, generate more revenue and so on. And of course that’s in my head as well but those sorts of business improvement resolutions seem to be a bit too pat.

So there you have it and if you believe “that which gets written down gets accomplished” then I am on my way to success.

Happy New Year.

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