How a Busy Sales Trainer Can Also Be a First-rate People Connector

January 18, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Posted in Networking | 2 Comments
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The other day I announced via social media that I had made a New Year’s commitment that called for me to make 10 (networking) introductions per day.

Yep, that’s right. 10.

I immediately received a barrage of emails from folks that were simply incredulous. “How in heaven’s name do you have the time to do that?”. “How in heaven’s name do you know that many people?” (Really, “heaven” was mentioned several times:) )

Simple I said and so in the hopes of shedding some light on my methodology (some might say madness) I decided to share my tips:

1.  I set a quantitative goal and like I said, my particular number is ten. But, that doesn’t have to be your goal, not at all. The important thing is to have a goal and to stick to it. No excuses, just do it. You know that you can. (Hint, like with all goals you should set one that is a wee bit of a stretch but can definitely be achieved if you work at it.)

2.  I’m incredibly proactive and by adopting that model, I am better able to make a higher volume of introductions.  I don’t wait for low hanging networking fruit (“Hey Adrian, do you know someone that can……”). Rather I look for connections that might have longer-term value and don’t necessarily equate to an immediate piece of business.

3.  I keep in mind that introductions to referral sources are as good as, and maybe even better than, introductions to a client. One good referral source can equate to many introductions which should (potentially) lead to business. A client is, well a client…a good thing for sure, but might not turn into many additional referrals over time. (We all know that some clients are truly raving fans and tell many others about our products/services. That’s terrific but there are just as many clients that are very closed-mouthed and don’t spread the word regardless of how pleased they are with our business.)

4.  I keep (mental) track of the folks to whom I make introductions. So, for instance, if you tell me that you network with and get lots of business from ____ firms, I do everything in my power to introduce you to as many ____ firms as I know.  So for example, if you’re on the receiving end of those introductions from me you should be thinking  like this:  Gee, since Adrian is introducing me to so many ____ firms, perhaps she’s like to know more of those types of companies too. Maybe I’ll introduce her to the ones that I know and that she doesn’t.   Makes sense doesn’t it?

5.  I try very hard to be creative when making introductions.  Let’s say that you know some of your contacts share a particular hobby. That might be enough to start to a terrific relationship that can potentially yield lots of business opportunities. How about introducing two of  your own business vendors to each other recognizing that since they are going after similar types of clients (i.e. owners of small business) and since they are not competitive they can probably help each other big-time.  How about 2 people that actually do the same thing but who specialize and work in different segments. They might be able to refer business to each other. You never know and if you don’t make introductions, the possibilities are crushed before they even start.

So there ya have it. Just a few ideas on how to be a more prolific networker.  Told you that it was simple.

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Help Me, I Think I’m Falling In Love Again

January 16, 2012 at 11:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Oh Joni, I don’t know what it is. Could be that I’ve been working so hard to win new business or maybe I’m just plain easy and want to love those new prospects that come my way, but really, shouldn’t I have learned my lesson by NOW, 24 years after launching this business.

Are you like me? Do you fall in love with clients so quickly that it makes you blind to signals screaming out watch it, this client just might not turn out the way you want!

Do you believe so strongly in yourself that you just “know” that you can make it good, make it better and well, make it right?

I know that I’ve fallen into that love-trap more times than I really wish to admit but well, maybe I’ve gotten more cynical, less needy or just plain smarter and recognize all of the red flags BEFORE I get into trouble.

For instance:

  • The project is so far out of your sweet spot that you’re going to lose money, time, sleep and credibility for every minute that you’re working on it.
  • The client is asking you to do things that just don’t feel right  (defer billing, overlook something that seems legally binding, talks poorly about your competitors). You know what I mean, right?
  • The decision-makers at the client change so frequently that you can’t even keep track of them and you’re losing time and money in meeting after meeting where you meet the “new” client team.
  • The “direction” of the project changes multiple times while you’re still in proposal stage.

It’s nice to be in love with clients but a good dose of reality should keep the stars out of your eyes.

And when all else fails, a good pre-nup can help you to avoid a financially devastating and business crushing divorce.

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The World of Discounts, Coupons and Should I Cut My Price in a Recession?

January 9, 2012 at 8:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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I’ve been a sales consultant/trainer for 20+ years and in the last 2 years have seen more discounting, couponing, “special” offers and give-aways than in all my years in business. I do understand that this is a direct result of what has been an unprecedented poor economy and of course, there is the seductive pull of Groupon, LivingSocial, Bloomspot and so many more. I’ve been tempted myself and have even reached out to several of these sites only to have my emails ignored:) And many of my clients, well, even if they’re not interested in going the way of Groupon, many of them are running scared and looking at how to slash their pricing in the hopes of staying alive.

But really, is this the best way?  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

*  Will cutting your price undermine your brand and cause confusion and desertion in the marketplace?  The last thing that you want to do in a recession is lose the customers that you have. Will cutting your price cause them to shift their loyalties elsewhere?

*  What’s going to happen when the recession ends (and end it will one way or another!)? Will you be able to “re-adjust” your pricing? (Didn’t think so.)

* Can you even afford to eat into your margin and will slashing your prices / fees undermine your very financial solvency?

* Can you provide the same levels of quality deliverables and exquisite customer care at a lower price point? Note that if you cut back in these all-important areas you will lose even more clients and perhaps damage your brand forever.

So what’s a business to do? Here’s a thought. How about instead of cutting your prices and looking for all manner of discount “deals” you attend to what you provide to your customers, like an amazing product or service that delivers real value to the market, service that is so outstanding that folks wouldn’t dare go the way of a lower cost provider, impeccable attention to what the market wants and then attention to what they need (need takes second place to want) and keeping your finger on the pulse of all this with customer surveys and Voice of Customer research.

So before you make what could be an irrevocable change in your pricing strategy, think of alternatives and move carefully. That slash in price just might hurt your business forever.

The Not So New Phenomenon Known As Branding

January 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Posted in Branding | 1 Comment
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I’ve been in business for more than 20 years and during that time have worked with hundreds of companies across pretty much every vertical and in organizations large and small.

Back in the day my clients hardly (Mmmm, perhaps never) said the word “brand” but in our sales strategy meetings we talked about:

  • Why do customers buy from you versus your competition?
  • What do people say when they talk about your product/service?
  • What’s the perception of your company?
  • What makes your company different?
  • How do you improve your customer’s situation / experience?

And so on.

The word brand wasn’t mentioned but what I do know is that we drilled down on much of what is discussed in today’s branding sessions.

So what’s my point?  Simple.

It is logical that a strong, well-respected brand should help to increase sales. Yes, should help, but cannot guarantee, greater sales. Why?  Well that’s simple too.

Having a strong brand doesn’t ensure that a tightly aligned sales process is in place or that the folks that are tasked with going out and bringing in the business are even competent to do so.  It doesn’t ensure that sales conversations with potential customers will be done exquisitely and with finesse.

Want to be successful?

Develop your brand but make sure that the folks involved with actually “selling” the products (or services, it hardly makes a difference) are actually ready to perform at the highest level and that the infrastructure is in place to support them.

Really want ROI from your branding efforts? Make sure that you’re paying an equal amount of attention to the sales component as well as to branding and marketing.

Bridge the gap and be more profitable. Really.

Welcome to the New Year: How to Avoid the 3 Deadly Sins of Selling

January 3, 2012 at 9:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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So here we are smack at the beginning of a New Year.  Yes, I know that we have simply turned over a page on the calendar but it feels good you know. A fresh start and all that stuff. (Hey, I was the person that actually liked the start of school with its newly sharpened pencils and clean and shiny binders.)  But I digress.

Do you have high hopes for this coming year?  Gonna do some things different are you? Well, how about for starters fine-tuning your sales strengths and yes…avoid the 3 deadly sins of selling.

So what exactly are thee sins?  Here ya go:

Thinking that marketing is sales and vice versa. Marketing is not sales…repeat after me, marketing is not sales. Like that old refrain…you can’t one without the other. So why is it that so many people are starting the new year with new marketing campaigns, making resolutions to “jump” into social media and looking to twitter to help them make their way, enhancing web sites et al and are not even thinking one bit about their sales process, sales competencies abilities to follow-up, follow through and close those prospects and leads. Really. If you want to waste your money, go ahead and do it but if not, then please spend as much time and consideration to the sales aspect of your business as to the marketing end. You’ll be glad that you did (Umm, you’ll actually “bring in” that business that marketing attracted in the first place.)

Thinking that networking is an endgame in and of itself. Hah. Wish it would be so but it just isn’t. Networking is an ongoing, never ending initiative that requires eternal vigilance to make it pay off. And yes, you can have a one hit wonder derived from a networking meeting in which nothing more than showing up was involved. But those bits of success are far and few between and what is really required is strategic vision and a plan and design for how you will go out there onto the networking playing field and win the game.  (Hint: the networking game is circular, not linear and if you play it well then you just might be rewarded by what comes back to you.

Taking those leads, contacts, dormant accounts, friends and so forth and letting them languish in your base. Really. Why do you need thousands of people in your CRM or even on your Constant Contact email newsletter list if you are not gong to work these contact effectively and efficiently staying on the grid so if and when a project or a lead is around you will, in fact, be on their mind and get the pleasure of a connection. Why bother? If you can’t deploy the three I’s (and if you don’t know what those are please connect with me and I’ll share the strategy), then you shouldn’t be out there trying to win new business. You won’t be getting any ROT (return on time). Period.

Ok then…make a personal plan to abolish these sins and move forward into your most successful year ever.  Ready?

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