It’s the Little Things

October 30, 2009 at 11:36 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

Having loads of contacts, a degree from a top-notch university, and a resume that speaks volumes about your experience can undoubtedly communicate to others that you’re at the top of your game. However, they’re not the only things you need to succeed. Sometimes, it’s those little details that really shout what your personal brand is truly all about.

Far too many high-achieving professionals get clouded by their achievements and egos and forget that common courtesies still matter. In fact, when you’re successful, they matter even more. The stakes are higher and more eyes are watching. If you’re guilty of being rough around the edges with the individuals you’re doing business with, it’s time to polish your personal brand. You don’t want to be the one who loses a major account because your manners are atrocious. No, you have to be an Emily Post clone, but you do need to pay attention to these following basics:

Be Timely and Accountable

Everyone forgets to make a call every now and again. But, if you repeatedly tell others that you’re going to call them and don’t, you’ll quickly develop a reputation as someone who doesn’t follow through. If you’re having difficulty remembering who you promised to call and why, start taking notes. Send yourself reminders and make it a priority to follow up in a timely manner.

Say Thank You

In a fast-paced environment, it can be easy to neglect to say thank you to those who provide you leads, support your efforts, or give your business. Make it a point to be generous with your appreciation for others. Regardless if it’s a hand-written note, a thoughtful gift, or simply a warm “thank you” to someone who helped you, just do it and do it often!

Write Properly

Poor grammar and typos in an email, letter, proposal, sales presentation, or invoice don’t just look unprofessional, they directly reflect on your level of competency. Hey, if you can’t write a decent sentence, who is going to have the confidence that you can answer a technical question or understand the complex needs of a customer? It’s a slippery slope that you don’t want to head down. Pay attention to all of your writing. It matters! If you’ve managed to get to this level without being able to write properly, you’d be smart to invest in a class or two on business writing. You’ll be glad that you did!

Polish Your Company’s Paperwork

When you started your business, it might have been ok to write up an order on a piece of notepaper. Hopefully, your business has grown from this point, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to revamp the documents that you’re providing your prospects, vendors, and clients. Whether it’s an invoice, purchase order, or contract, your recipients will take them and you more seriously if they look professional. With the wide array of software options out there to help businesses, there simply isn’t any excuse for invoicing your customer on a piece of scratch paper.

Keep the Others in the Office in Check

While you’re responsible for your own personal brand, others can affect it, too – especially those in your office who can make or break an encounter with your business. Develop standards for how everyone deals with your contacts. Without this consistency, you’re opening up the door for someone to seriously sabotage how others view not just your office, but you, too!


Top Tips For Building a Salesforce

October 24, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Marketing, sales, Sales Training, small business | 2 Comments

One of the few positive aspects of this current recession is that there has been a flurry of new business growth. Entrepreneurial-spirited individuals, frustrated with the corporate world, are testing the waters with their new ideas, and startups are challenging large, slow-moving organizations by developing innovative products and services.

While many of these streamlined, smarter enterprises will succeed, others will fail. Why? There are many reasons for business failure. However, it’s almost always due to the lack of building a successful sales force.

Some entrepreneurs think that they are the only ones who can possibly sell. Giving over the sale of their product or service to someone else is akin to handing over their baby. Others get so immersed in day-to-day execution of their business that they simply don’t make the time for big picture projects like working on the growth of the company and building a successful sales team.

The reality is that, at some point, business owners need to spread out the sales efforts and bring in talent if they’re going to be successful. It’s not about hiring a support person who will only get the overflow sales “dregs”. Instead, it’s about hiring one or more sales superstars who share the vision of the organization and use their experience and professionalism to take the business to a higher level.

Finding those superstars can be challenging, but they’re out there. In fact, since the rash of layoffs in the last year, there has never been a better time to hire a salesperson. Many qualified professionals would jump at the chance of working with a company that is growing instead of teetering on the brink of failure. How can you build the best sales force for your specific needs? Here’s how:

Find Someone Who is Compatible with the Company Culture

Startups can be chaotic, and not everyone is cut out to work in one. Make sure that any candidate you’re considering is comfortable with multi-tasking and pitching in at a variety of levels and thrives in an environment where there might not always be a lot of structure. Oftentimes, successful “big company” salespeople are like fish out of water when they don’t have multi-layers of management and corporate structure around them. Others are ready to spread their wings in a startup. Find out their comfort level before you make the commitment of bringing them on board.

Look for Someone with Connections and Contacts

Besides having a desire to work for an up and coming company, your potential new hire will be substantially more successful if he or she has a fat Rolodex of connections and contacts. Where do you find such a person? Go out into the field and attend some industry events to see who might be interested in a new opportunity.

Don’t Micromanage the New Hire

If you’ve hired the right person, they should be able to hit the ground running without the need of being hovered over for an extended period of time. Sure, you’ll need to make sure that they’re completely up to speed on what they’ll be selling. However, once they are, it’s time to give up some of the control, and let them go out and hit the ground running.

Work on the Company and Not in It

While making sales is vital to the success of your business, you also need to devote time to working on its overall growth and direction. Successful entrepreneurs and company owners understand the need to have enough company resources so that they can be the leader and not get bogged down by the nitty-gritty of day-to-day operations.

Building Sales: There’s Gold In Your Databse

October 21, 2009 at 10:18 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, sales, Sales Training, small business | 1 Comment

Digging deep and drilling down to uncover mutual interests and potential business opportunities is the very essence of effective networking.

These same skills are also the key components in maximizing your existing business relationships.

The fastest new business opportunities can be recognized within your existing account base, however it requires discipline, expert probing techniques and the ability to peel back the layers and uncover areas of mutual need and potential gain.

Think about it:

Are all of your customers aware of ALL of the products and services that you can provide to them?

Do you have ALL of their business or are they giving business to your competition?

Put together your plan of action:

  1. Make certain that you inform your customers about ALL of your products and services. If you already did that and more than three months have elapsed, then it is time to remind them again. It might be your primary objective but your customers have other things on their mind.
  2. Do you continually probe your customers? Are there other decision-makers or influencers? Other locations, divisions, departments and subsidiaries? Do they have plans for relocation, growth or downsizing? Are there any significant business changes being planned? There are always questions to ask, data to confirm and information to be gathered. Try to learn something new on each and every contact.
  3. Ask your customers what you need to do to earn more of their business. It’s a direct question and you should receive a direct response.
  4. Occasionally take the time to work your customer base from the bottom up. Everyone knows all there is to know about their top accounts, but there are accounts languishing on the bottom of your database simply because you have not taken the time to learn about ALL of their needs or present ALL of your services. Can they be buying most of what they need from your competition and just using you as a secondary source.

Your best prospects are your existing customers. Just like in networking, you need to approach them appropriately, share willingly and be patient.

Business development is a process, not a quick transaction.

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