I Thought I Was a Vitamin

June 30, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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This is the perfect visual for my day today.  Do you like it?  (Ray Becoskie; http://www.becoskie.com)

And if you think it’s cool, check out his site and see the rest. 

And tell him that I sent you:)

 

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Don’t Do the Training if You Don’t Have Someone to Monitor, Manage and Reinforce it

June 25, 2008 at 8:57 am | Posted in sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Training nightmare. You deliver a totally kick-a** program. Everyone is pumped. The training evaluations are through the roof and adrenaline is high.

Training ends. You’re assured that there will be “ongoing” management and reinforcement of the newly trained skills. You’re relieved because you know what happens when there is no skills refreshers and reinforcement….skills soon become stale and old patterned behaviors return…and with them, reduced sales success. But no, this isn’t going to happen because they have assured you that sales management is in place and they have all of the tools to do the job (and you even provide some additional reporting templates “just in case”).

You follow-up. Seems that things aren’t going so well. Sales have stayed flat. Prospects aren’t converting. Revenue boost is not being realized. You go back in to see what is happening.  And what do you find:

 

–There is no supervision, management, monitoring.

–Skills refreshers have not taken place.

–Sales reps are discouraged.

–Simple techniques that were initially embraced are not being followed.

And who’s to blame:  THE TRAINER!!  Not.

 

Training is a two-way effort. Trainers provide the skills and knowledge; on-site and in-house sales management supervise, reinforce and make certain that newly trained tips, tricks and techniques are used and become patterned behavior.

If you want ROI from your training programs, make certain that the follow-up is in place.  

The trainer can’t be held responsible if it isn’t!

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Going On?

June 23, 2008 at 6:36 am | Posted in Networking, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment
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In this less than ideal economic climate, many salespeople are having a tough time earning business. You can be extremely diligent and think that you’re doing everything correctly and still be finding it difficult to make a sale.  No doubt, it’s frustrating!

 

The unfortunate reality is that the power to say yes or no completely rests in the hands of your prospects. Your job is simply to present value and benefits, overcome hesitancies, and guide them to want your solution to improve their situation. So, what if you’re doing all of these important things, and your prospects are still not budging?

 

Before you simply blame your bad luck on the economy, you need to ask yourself the following:

 

Are you 100 percent certain that you have addressed all of your prospect’s hesitancies and concerns?

You won’t be able to overcome a hesitancy that is unspoken or hidden. Take the time to probe thoroughly for what’s on their mind and help them reveal the true situation.

 

Have you made certain that the competition hasn’t wormed into the deal and caused your prospect to have second thoughts?

In many industries, competition is fiercer than ever before. It’s very likely that prospects are also talking to your competition. Be prepared for this, and take the necessary steps to shine above others trying to hone in on your prospects.

 

Are you 100 percent certain that you presented to the correct person who has buying and influencing authority?

You can make the most compelling sales presentation known to mankind, but if you’re pitching to the wrong person, you’re not making the sale. Qualifying your prospects is essential!

 

Are you aware of any “big” change that might be happening in your prospect’s company such as mergers, acquisitions, or changes in management?

These transitions can significantly delay decisions or require you to modify your sales approach. Don’t forget to ask prospects about any current or upcoming changes that could potentially impact a sale.

 

Are you confident about your touch point management program so that you can stay on the grid throughout an elongated sales process?

Evaluate how you go about staying with prospects through extended periods of time. If you don’t have a good system to keep in touch, you could be losing out on valuable sales.

 

Finally, if you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, don’t be afraid to ask, “What’s going on?” Sometimes asking a question as simply and directly as this can give you all the information you need to make the sale or cut your losses and move on.

 

 

How Fit is Your Customer Service Department?

June 10, 2008 at 7:33 am | Posted in Customer Service, small business | 1 Comment
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Have you ever considered the fitness level of your customer service department? No, I’m not talking about an employee exercise program. Rather, I’m asking if your team that provides service to your clients is functioning at peak performance.

 

If you haven’t given this much thought, you might not be seeing the big picture issues that could be hurting your business. Just like with personal fitness, there are many components to managing the well-being of a customer service department. It’s not about excelling in one particular skill. It’s about defining all of the components necessary for providing quality customer service and establishing the strategies to achieve specific results.

 

In order to reach an optimal level of customer service fitness, there are certain questions that you need to ask. The answers will give you a clear cut overview of where you are succeeding and where improvements need to be made. Here’s what you should be asking:

 

How Do They Sound?

This is actually far more important than what you may think. The voices of your customer service representatives are often the first impression that a customer receives from your company. Are they positive, professional, and upbeat, or do they sound bored and disinterested? Make some calls and find out for yourself. If you’re hearing less than ideal voices on the line, guess what? Your customers are, too!

 

What Do They Say?

Does your team have the necessary training, keywords, or call guide so that they’re prepared and know what to say? If not, you’re making it more difficult for your CSRs and creating an environment where miscommunication is likely to occur. Take the time to provide them with the words to guide them through their phone calls. No, they don’t need to recite a script, but an outline or suggestions of what to say will go a long way to making your customer service consistent and clear.

 

What is Their Attitude?

Be honest here. Do the CSRs feel appreciated and recognized by the company? Are you providing incentives for good work? If the answers are no, you might want to make some changes quickly. Employee dissatisfaction can dramatically affect a company’s customer service and ultimately its bottom line. If they’re feeling negative and underappreciated, you can rest assured that they will either directly or indirectly communicate this to your customers.

 

Is Their Workspace Pleasant?

Ask yourself this – Do the CSRs have a pleasant work environment, or is the service department relegated to some dark inside room in the company?

 

It’s always amazing when companies choose the worst place in the office for the customer service team. These are the individuals who are on the front-line and have the ability to make or break sales. It’s crucial to make them happy! If your CSRs are in bleak cubicles without windows, you might want to rethink their location and configuration before they leave for another company that offers a better place to work.

 

 

Are You Hiring the Right People for the Job?

Who you hire can make all of the difference. Consider what skills and experience your CSRs will need to succeed. Beyond that, ask yourself what personal traits you are specifically looking for that will mesh well with the company’s image and philosophy. All of these particulars should be taken into account when interviewing and selecting your team. 

 

Are You Keeping Them Fresh and Updated?

Yes, you need to start CSRs off on a good foot by providing them with comprehensive initial training. But, it shouldn’t end there. Training and skills enhancements should be ongoing processes to ensure that your team is knowledgeable and up-to-date on everything that they need to know to succeed.

 

Are They Cross-Selling and Up-Selling?

Have you explored ALL of the possible ROI opportunities in the customer service department? If not, you’re missing out on a huge potential source of sales. Considering that the team is directly connecting with customers on a daily basis, give them the ability to cross-sell and up-sell. Provide them with incentives, and you’ll be rewarded with a happier team and increased sales. 

You’ve Had Lunch…Now What? (Or Other Impt. Networking Questions!)

June 1, 2008 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Branding, Customer Service, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business, technology | 1 Comment
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Did you meet an interesting individual at the last networking lunch? Or, maybe you were recently introduced to someone at a neighbor’s party who could very well be a viable prospect. In these networking-focused times, you’re probably introduced to lots of people at a variety of formal networking events, informal get-togethers, and through online sources.

 

Sure, it’s important to have a healthy list of contacts. But, a list you never utilize is rather useless. If you’re not staying on the grid and keeping in contact, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to gather new customers and grow your business.  Like with certain other things in life, it’s not the size that counts, it’s what you do with it. This adage certainly applies to contact lists.

 

Are you one of the countless individuals guilty of having an impressive list of contacts and not using it effectively? Don’t be ashamed. You’re in good company. Many professionals, including lawyers, doctors, CPAs and a whole array of others, are notorious for this.

 

So, if staying connected is so important, why doesn’t everyone stay in touch? The majority of excuses frequently used can be broken down into four main categories. Perhaps, one or more of these will sound familiar to you:

 

“I can’t think of a creative way to stay in touch.”

There is no shortage of ways to keep in touch. Start with providing something of value (information, introduction, invitation) and use some creativity.

 

“I don’t want to look needy.”

Actually, by staying in touch, you look professional and organized.

 

“I never get any business from my contacts, so why bother.”

The person who favors this excuse is the one who gives up quickly. Yes, it’s a numbers game, but how you play the numbers will determine your success.

 

“I Forgot.”

Oops, you forgot to grow your business? Ok, this is ridiculous, but unfortunately very common. Start with a system that allows you to stay on top of keeping up with your contacts, and stick with it. Playing ignorant or forgetful is a surefire way to achieve failure.

 

Are you wondering what the best way is to nurture your list? It’s all about having a touch-point follow-up plan. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, really! There are truly only three crucial tips to successful follow-up that you need to know. Are you ready? Ok, here we go:

 

 

 

1. Establish a Routine

Keeping in contact is something that needs to happen on a regular basis, not just when you have nothing better to do. If you have a routine, you’ll be far more likely to stick with it. Set a goal for yourself of emailing a certain number each day. E-Newsletters are another quick and efficient way to stay on the grid with contacts, as long as they’re consistently delivered and contain pertinent information.

 

2. Don’t Just Check In

Just like you, your contacts lead busy lives. Trust me. They won’t be your contacts for long if you frequently interrupt them with phone calls just to “check in.” Put some thought into when, why, how, and where you follow-up. A little bit of logic will go a long way here. There’s a fine line between being diligent and being downright pesty.

 

3. Offer Value

This tip goes hand-in-hand with the last. Don’t just make contact for the sake of making contact. Offer something of value. It doesn’t have to be monetary in nature. It can be anything from an interesting article emailed to an introduction to a colleague who attended the same school. How do you determine what is valuable to a contact? One word – Listen! Find out what their interests, goals, strengths, and challenges are. Keep track of them, and when you come across something applicable, make contact. You will be amazed how grateful and impressed someone can be when you demonstrate that you’ve been listening to them. Wow! What a concept! Simple, but it’s always worth repeating.

 

The fact is not all of your contacting efforts will result in million dollar sales.  However, the cumulative effect can be extremely important to your overall business development – either from direct sales or through additional referrals. At the end of the day, you just never know which of your contacts will be the one to bring in business or the one who will drop off your “radar.”  Thus, it’s crucial to consider a touch-point follow up plan and staying connected as something you need to do with consistency and enthusiasm. The bottom line – You will always lose if you disappear. Stay on the grid, and you’ll be the one who wins.

 

 

 

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