3 Ways to Make Certain That Your Business Prospecting Fails

May 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, Sales Training, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As a New York based sales trainer I get to see the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to business prospecting. Yes, there are some things that can absolutely ensure that your business prospecting will yield no positive results so read on to find out if you are guilty of these all-too-common prospecting errors.

I tried ‘em once or twice and if they’re interested, they’ll get back to me.

Sure they will because they’re just sitting around and waiting for your call. Prospects are busy and even if they need, no want, what it is you have to offer, they still may not jump to it and return your call in record time. Persistence rules and if you leave compelling voice mail messages (short, to the point but with a benefits statement), pay attention to the time of your call and probe for “influencers” within the prospect’s firm that can potentially help your cause, you have a better chance of EVER making contact with your prospect. Making contact on your first or second try is luck and what is required is skill…and persistence.

I don’t need any sort of script; I know what I want to say and I can just wing it.

During the prospecting dance you have an incredibly short amount of time to win the attention and interest of your prospect. Your words need to be compelling and you can’t waste seconds with extraneous verbiage. You also need to have insightful probes and persuasive rebuttals in your bag of tricks and be armed and ready to use them when necessary. It’s best to have key phrases and questions and objection responses already prepared and at your disposal so that “brain freeze” does not put you off your game. Remember, a script is a road map that helps you to traverse the landscape of the call. It gets you from Point A to Point B in the most efficient and expedient manner. Why WOULDN’T you have one prepared? (Note: having a script or call guide does not mean that you must sound as if you are reading. All it means is that you must practice BEFORE diving into your calls!)

I don’t need to do any prospecting; I get all of my business through referrals.

That’s awesome. No really. It’s totally terrific to be able to count on consistent referrals to make your business grow. But there are a couple of potential problems. What if your referral sources dry up or change allegiances (i.e. their wife, husband, best friend etc. enter into your business category and now their referrals need to go to them; they get laid off or retire, etc. etc. You know—stuff happens). What if you become “needy” and must become more proactive and reach out to prospects but your prospecting skills have become totally soft from lack of use? What if you continue to get referrals but they just aren’t plentiful enough? The point is that it is critically important for everyone that is involved in sales to be able to generate their own leads and appointments through the use of effective business prospecting. Referrals rock but you need to be able to deploy effective telephone prospecting, value-added emails, direct mail and more if you really want to stay on top of your prospecting game.

So there ya have it. Of course there are more ways and reasons to ensure business development failure but we’ll stick with just these three for now. Do any of them sound / feel familiar? I hope not.


How Much is That Doggy in the Window? The One With the Waggley Tail.

May 23, 2011 at 10:08 am | Posted in Branding, entrepreneurship, Marketing, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

Sometimes I feel just like that doggy.

Prospects asking about fees BEFORE they ask about much else. Clients (even ones that are doing just fine) attempting to change the fee structure and reduce the cost of what they agree has provided for positive and beneficial business gains.

How much indeed?

Now, I get it. Times are / were difficult and everyone is looking very closely at any and all expenditures.

But sales consulting. Really.

Sales consulting and training are measurable and when shown to be effective does it make any sort of sense to consider these activities discretionary and start to nickel and dime the arrangement.

Cutting in the areas of sales, marketing, branding, advertising & PR have been shown to have a long-term disastrous impact. It’s simple: looking at cost BEFORE examining benefits, value and ROI is poor business. You’re not buying a doggy; you’re protecting and growing your livelihood.

Beware of Marketing That Doesn’t Deliver

May 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Posted in Marketing, sales, small business | 1 Comment

These are tough times. Sure they’re saying that the worst of the recession is behind us but really, does ANYONE have a client that isn’t more concerned about cost, more conservative, slower to pull the trigger than the were pre 2008. Does anyone have their hands up? Not me.

My prospects and clients have emerged from being “frozen” and that’s terrific but still, they are extra cautious about every penny spent on marketing and sales initiatives.

As for me, I keep telling them that an integrated approach is probably best, that if they deploy best practices in marketing, branding, PR, social media AND sales techniques that it will all work out just fine.

But some of them have been burned. Their social media campaign opened doors but did not close business. Their new brand got them increased recognition but again, signed, sealed and delivered business did not ensue. And you know that new website. Looks great and is optimized just right and the inquiries are increasing. But once again, the volume of business that was expected…no counted on…did not materialize.

Why? Well, a few things for starters.

A well-defined sales strategy was never created and sales processes, well, they were non existent too. As for sales competencies, they hadn’t been refreshed or enhanced in some years with sales reps remaining in a comfort zone of mediocrity.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer in the power of brand, marketing, PR, advertising and social media. But I also know that if these efforts are not integrated with exquisite selling operations then they will not bring in the optimum ROI and ultimately, we will fail our clients.

Drill Baby Drill

May 19, 2011 at 10:23 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, small business | 1 Comment

Nope, I am not channeling Sarah Palin nor do I have any sort of contract with the oil companies. The drilling that I’m referencing is down deep into your own database wherein lurks dormant accounts, untapped and untouched prospects and referral sources that have fallen off the radar screen.

Drill baby drill.

Most of us are sitting on a potential goldmine of new business and here’s the crazy thing. This “new” business can come from past clients with whom you already have a relationship and track record of success.

There’s no need to establish credibility; you already have it, earned at some earlier point in time when you did your first project/s.

We’re all out there searching for new business but while you’re searching perhaps you need look right in your own contact list. That’s right. Drill baby drill.

No One Ever Got Fired For Hiring (Fill in Name Brand Company)

May 17, 2011 at 7:52 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, Sales Training, The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success | Leave a comment

We all know the cliché: no one ever got fired for hiring IBM. Or AT&T. Or Google.

This all too common practice of hiring the “big dog on the porch” is a relatively safe one. You select the biggest and most well known entity and the responsibility (blame!) for any sort of screw up can’t be laid upon your shoulders. Whew. What a relief.

And so masses of business people hire resources and companies and employ this underlying selection criteria (make the safe choice and don’t risk your job/status/reputation by picking the less well known (albeit highly credible) resource…yes, play it safe!).

And yes, full disclosure right here: I am hardly the “big dog on the porch” yet for 24 years my firm has been providing clients with high quality, cost-effective, results-driven training and consulting. But our history of success and extensive testimonials from satisfied clients didn’t mean much this past week when I lost a piece of business because as the firm stated, they “felt more comfortable” going with the name brand. And although the selected organization provides a fine work product it will be a generic off the shelf solution that will not address this client’s unique situation as detailed to me in their initial discussions. I guarantee it.

I do understand that my small firm does not have the bandwidth for some projects but this wasn’t one of them. This was a program that I would have nailed perfectly.

But in the end it didn’t much matter and so the hunt for new business continues. Let the little dog prevail.

The Great Big Social Media Party…Or, How I Lost My Way in the Land of Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter

May 9, 2011 at 10:30 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, Sales Training | 4 Comments
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Now, don’t get me wrong. I like social media with the best of them, appreciate it’s power and reach and can certainly see how and why it should play an important and integral role in a organization’s marketing and sales endeavors.

I mean, social media is good, right? It has leveled the playing field for small businesses and helps build visibility and credibility at little or no cost. All that can’t be bad.

But here’s where things begin to go a bit awry.

The small to mid-sized firms that are deploying social media with amazing zeal and enthusiasm are doing so with one major—and ultimate—goal in mind. They want, no need, this new found visibility and credibility to lead to NEW BUSINESS. Nothing else will do.

And this is exactly where I believe that many of them might be sorely disappointed.
You see increased visibility and credibility are awesome but they don’t…close…business. Repeat after me, they don’t close business. People do.

Prospects can get wooed into your sales world but then a carefully deployed process must ensue. What’s required? Well, screening and qualifying, presenting value, probing for wants and needs and ultimately leading that prospect to see you and your business as a solution, an improvement, to their situation. Specific steps that DO lead to that ultimate goal of new business.

Social media doesn’t do any of that. Even social media “conversations.”

Then why is it that so many companies are positively gleeful when jumping into the social media swimming pool? I’ll tell you why. It’s because they believe that social media is going to turn their business around. And it’s going to do it all by itself. And sure it can open the floodgates to new prospects and opportunities but unless there are sales reps that are adept at taking prospects through the buying process and internal processes in place to manage the relationships, well, social media isn’t going to yield the desired long-term results.

So jump in and add social media to your marketing mix. But don’t forget about sales processes, follow-up and follow-through and good old-fashioned customer service to turn the fun and games into revenue.

It Was Good For Me. Was It Good For You?

May 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Networking | 11 Comments

(Be forewarned, this may sound like some sort of venting but trust me, I am not alone in voicing this complaint.)

You’ve probably experienced something like this yourself. You’ve gotten together with a new networking contact and are reviewing possible introductions and connections that you can help them with. The introductions are with other “connectors” and referral sources and all of a sudden you hear “wow, they would be good for me.”

There’s a pause while you wait for them to elaborate and perhaps explain more, namely how they, in turn, can benefit the person to whom they would like an introduction. But nothing follows.

Seems simple right.

When I make an introduction (and believe me I do scads of them) I am always thinking about the reciprocity that can ensue and I don’t mean the reciprocity for me.

No, I’m more interested in how it’s going to work between the people that I introduce to each other. Will there be mutual benefits or will one of them simply see the other as a treasure trove of contacts without, in fact, returning the favor. It is after all, as the cliché goes, a 2-way street.

But many networkers don’t see it that way. They ask (sometimes even expect) introductions and they can’t seem to get beyond WIFM (what’s in it for me). Selfishness rules.

So I’ve gotten very wary and when people say that they’d like me to make some introductions for them I always ask “why” and when they explain that these intros would be “good” for them, I, in turn, ask if they would be good for the other person as well. Do they have introductions and contacts that can benefit these new connections because if they don’t, it may not be an introduction that is well received.

When I make introductions I always want them to be good for everyone so please be sure to tell me if it was good for you. The feedback will help and can only serve to make it better the next time.

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