Buying a Bra Is A Lot Like Buying a Car (Or So Says This Sales Trainer)

September 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, sales, Sales Training | Leave a comment

It might seem a bit obscure at first but there are many similarities between buying a bra and buying a car. Really. Trust me. I’ve bought both.

Here are the (apparent!) similarities:

One size does not fit, or suit, all.
This is pretty simple, right? A single person on a budget might not want to buy a gas-guzzling SUV that seats 8. And that cute Mini Cooper, well, the family with 3 baby seats might find it just a tad inconvenient. And it even goes to image. I know that I really like my somewhat sleek and sporty little sedan. I just don’t see myself behind the wheel of a mini-van. So you get the point. The car should fit your lifestyle needs, your personality wants and well, yes, your budget.

Now, on to that bra purchase. I’m sure that we can all agree that one size definitely does not fit all. Beyond the issue of size, there is also the question of style, color, purpose (i.e. running, etc.) and more.

And in both situations, the sales staff in the car dealer or the underwear store (or department) should be asking insightful questions that help them to point out the best choices for your unique needs.

Scrimping many cost you comfort

This is pretty straightforward. The old cliche “penny wise and pound foolish” can apply to both buying situations. We may have occasion to scrimp and minimize our expenses when buying a car, deciding that various features and add-ons are just not necessary. We often make the decision with our wallet in mind; the new car is enough. But after we have that car and are driving it for awhile, some of our cost-cutting might not seem that smart. Those bells and whistles are sorely missed; they can truly add to the experience and value derived from the car.

And on the bra front, while scrimping on that more expensive style might seem silly (after all, it isn’t THAT much money, not like a car), women do it all the time. End result, less satisfaction, less comfort and less pleasure derived from the new purchase.

Making the purchase should make you happy
This seems pretty reasonable. Both of these purchases should make you feel good, maybe not in equal degrees, but good nonetheless. Yet in many situations, this is not the case. The “car salesman” has become a cliche, and trying on underwear and looking in the mirror is likened to having root canal without some sort of drug to ease the pain.

Lessons to be learned
If you’re engaged in selling (a car, a bra or just about anything) you should think of yourself as a consultant and help your customer to make the best buying decision for their special and unique circumstances.

This means you must utilize exquisite probing to help determine what’s the best model (or style) for your customer’s situation. Next, you point out how/why certain features will truly add value to their purchase (you’ve uncovered this by your effective probing) and then ultimately lead the customer to making a purchase remembering at all times that everyone likes to buy yet no one likes to be sold.

Bottom-line, that holds true in Victoria’s Secret as well as in the car dealership!

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Customer Service Cred: You Either Have It Or You Don’t

September 12, 2010 at 8:55 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Customer Service, entrepreneurship | 1 Comment
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The devil is Dell Computer or so it seems after reading The Haggler column in today’s (9/12) New York Times. We’ve all been there with computer issues, deadlines looming, fear in one’s heart and a totally inept Customer Service rep on the other end of our phone.

I swear. I truly got chills when reading the article. Why can Zappos make it work and yet, according to the article, Dell cannot even take ownership of the situation and be properly contrite. Buying a Dell PC are you? Read the article.

And then there’s “A Ray of Sunshine in Every Bite” extolling the sheer unadulterated happiness that comes about when entering Blue Sky, a muffin shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The muffins sound sublime, the ambiance even more so and I have already bookmarked the store for when I am in that ‘hood.

There you have it. Dell or Blue Sky. Which sounds more like your business in terms of pure satisfaction on the part of customers?

We all hear a lot of sound bites about the importance of good customer service. What type of CS do you provide? All of us should have a good idea of what our customers think about our product AND our service.

A good way to uncover the truth: a Voice of Customer survey to learn what you are doing well and what you need to improve. Can you afford to not be interested?

PS. Dell, I AM available to discuss a Customer Service skills training program to coordinate with what you are doing in-house (and that is clearly not working as well as it should!)

Can Watching Jersey Shore Help My Business?

September 10, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Branding, sales, Sales Training, small business | 3 Comments
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Ok, I admit it. There have been a few nights when exhaustion has set in and yes, while going through the 5 billion channels on my DirectTV, I have hit upon (and stayed on) Jersey Shore.

The cast members all have their places, don’t they, and rarely do they deviate from their “brand”. And don’t you have an immediate reaction whenever someone mentions Snooki, or The Situation. Brilliant!

So what do we take away from the Jersey Shore phenomenon? What can we apply to our own businesses?

1) A little controversy and a small amount of “outlandish” behavior doesn’t necessarily have to be all bad. And while much of the media attention that has been fostered upon the fine folk of Jersey Shore has dwelt upon some of their more lewd and lurid activities and actions, you have to admit that they have become quite the media darlings.

2) Stay true to your brand. Think about it. Have you ever seen Snooki without a pouf on top of her head? Does JWoww appear in demure Peter Pan collared shirts? What about you? Has your brand suffered from any sort of flip flopping especially during these economic times when business owners are changing things up just to stay afloat (and potentially undermining their brand recognition).

3) Think big. JWoww is designing a line of clothes, The Situation is parlaying his fame with product endorsements and one can only wonder about where we will see Snooki next. Where were these folks 2 years ago? Need I say more.

Now that I think about it, maybe I should just watch a few more episodes. Where’s the remote?

Want More Business? Three Things to Do Next Week.

September 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

Want more business? (Seriously, is anyone saying, “no”?)

Here are three things to do next week:

1) Reconnect with 5 dormant accounts. Find out what they are doing, probe and uncover current situations and plans and see how / if you can present some value and help them with their current / upcoming initiatives. (Continue to do this on a regular basis until such time as you go through your entire list of dormant accounts.)

2) Participate in at least 1 new networking event or group. Meet new people. Spread the word about your business and make new contacts and connections with whom you can continue to network. (Blatant self-promotion: try this fast growing network; Adrian’s Network http://www.adriansnetwork.com)

3) Review your current list of prospects and make certain that you are staying on their radar screen using the three I’s (information, invitations, introductions). Do not “check in” or “touch base”…make certain that your contacts are benefits loaded and provide value BEFORE the relationship begins.

Note to self: You can start today!

Business Owners are Always Looking for a Job

September 2, 2010 at 6:47 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, sales | 3 Comments

The other day someone said to me, “Adrian, you’re so lucky. You never have to look for a job because you have your own company!”

Are they kidding? I’ve been looking for a job for the past 23 years, from the very first day I decided that I was going to have my own business (and not really even knowing what that entailed!)

Owners of small businesses and solopreneurs are integrally involved in the acquisition of new business. From developing their business brand to creating marketing materials to ultimately presenting and selling their product or services to their prospects, the business owner can never say that they are not looking for a “job”.

And in these tough times (yes, they are STILL tough times) we owners have to look even harder and with more and more diligence, and just like folks out in the “job market” we are finding that getting a new client is an extremely difficult task.

So what’s a business owner to do? Here are some top tips that must be put into practice. They are not much different from when times are good, however right now, it’s even more important to do them “exquisitely”!

Don’t Waste Time

Don’t waste time on prospects who are neither decision-makers nor influencers. By strategically scoping out who is actually calling the shots, you minimize your frustrations and maximize your time.

Be Optimistic

Try to stay on an even keel despite this horrendous dip in the economy. And don’t HIDE. Stay out there marketing, networking and getting yourself positioned so that when things turn around you’ll be ready to bring in the business.

Be Willing to Take Risks

There’s no reward without risk, and mistakes are only lessons to be learned. And of course, you can’t lose what you don’t have.

Over Deliver

Are your customers being blown away by your product or service. Loyalty is created in all of the attention to detail and little extras that you provide.

Keep the Funnel Filled
Most importantly, make sure that you keep your sales funnel as full as possible. Job hunters try to have as many interviews as can so they can “explore their options”. The business owner must have the same mind set and have a pipeline filled with prospects some of whom are close to making a decision, and others that will take a bit longer to cultivate. If your pipeline is full enough you will always have enough prospects ready to

The Death of Tele-prospecting…NOT!

September 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Customer Service, entrepreneurship, Marketing, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

There have been countless articles written about the death of tele-prospecting. In this era of voicemail and caller ID, the process of initiating the sales process by phone has certainly evolved. For individuals who never developed true marketing skills and simply relied on the element of surprise to get potential customers to pick up the phone, tele-prospecting is probably dead. However, for those who pay careful attention to list development, script, strategy, and execution, it remains alive and well.

If you’re finding prospecting to be increasingly challenging to accomplish on the phone, you need to evaluate your process. Here’s how you can do it well:

Pay Close Attention to Your Prospect List

Have you identified the best companies for your product or service? If you haven’t done your due diligence, you will inevitably be executing a doomed calling campaign.

Know with Whom to Speak

Finding out the name and title of the decision maker should occur in advance of the call. You MUST know who to speak with or you might inadvertently deliver your message to the wrong person rendering your call useless. Start with a list-building effort to acquire these names before you begin to make a call.

Practice What You’ll Say

Plan your words with infinite care. Be prepared for every question, objection, and stall that may arise. Practice and master what you’ll say before you dial. Your verbiage is critical to success and should be evaluated on an ongoing basis. If you’re not getting the results you desire, modify it based upon the responses you’re receiving.

Quantify Everything

You won’t be able to determine your level of success without tracking the number of dialings, conversations with decision makers, messages you leave, and results of the calls. Without accurate stats, you won’t have the data you need to determine your effectiveness or evaluate your strategy.

Develop a Program and Stick with It

Tele-prospecting is a numbers game that requires ongoing, consistent effort. Make sure to establish a set number of calls that you are going to make each day or week. Ideally, allot yourself at least two hours each time you sit down to make calls. This will help you to build momentum and improve your skills.

Pay Attention to How You Sound

Your voice can literally make or break your tele-prospecting success. Tone and inflection can dramatically affect how your prospects respond. To keep your voice in check, record a sampling of calls and listen carefully. You might be surprised by what you hear, but this will enable you to determine where you can make improvements and refine your delivery.

Overcome Your Reluctance

If you have call reluctance, join the club. Tele-prospecting is not everyone’s favorite task. But, if you take the time to carefully craft your program and practice your calls, you will be prepared and positioned for success. And, if you just can’t bring yourself to making these calls, you can consider outsourcing them to a third party. However, you have to be very careful that the person or firm is on point and delivering your message in the style you want to present. If you’re not sure, monitor their calls or ask for a tape recording so you can be confident of what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.

With the benefits of voicemail and caller ID, prospects simply aren’t going to pick up the phone when they think it’s someone trying to sell them something. While that fact does change how tele-prospecting must be accomplished, it doesn’t negate its efficacy as a key sales strategy. With a well-thought out plan of action and a polished message, it can still remain the most direct and effective path to reaching the decision makers of a company.

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