Having A Baby Is A Lot Like Developing A New Client

December 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Blogroll, entrepreneurship, Marketing, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

The ability to nurture is essential for any new parent, just as it is for every sales professional. Both parenting and selling require a high level of patience, dedication, and understanding. Certainly, not everyone has these qualities. However, if you do, the rewards of both jobs can be unbeatable.

As with having a baby, working with a new client can take you on a long and winding road that may occasionally have some bumps. But, as you navigate through the stages listed below, you realize that your consistent efforts can be instrumental in the flourishing of a business relationship that provides you with long-lasting rewards.

Gestation

While you may not be grappling with morning sickness and an expanding waistline, the early stages of working with a client is akin to the nine months of pregnancy. It’s time to be smart, protect what is developing, and get ready for the new gig. As well, readying your team for the upcoming new business is also on your ‘to do’ list.

The Birth

Congratulations! After all the pre-planning and diligent work, the client is really yours. Now, what are you going to do? How quickly the glow will end and the reality of keeping your client hits home. Sure, you’re still thrilled, but some of the hallucinatory glee might be beginning to wane.

Middle of the Night Feedings and Wiping Butts

You’re now in the thick of it. Just like a baby, your client needs your help and reassurance, maybe at all hours of the night. They might even seem a little or a lot helpless, but this is the client that you wanted. Right? Hang in there. Brighter days will soon follow.

Growing Up and Being Part of the Family

The labor-intensive diaper changing or extreme hand-holding days are now behind you, and you finally have a moment to reflect. What do you see? Someone you’ve nurtured and incorporated into your family. Yes, long-term clients really do become members of your extended business family.

Staying Attentive

Salespeople, like parents, simply can’t sustain the level of attentiveness that is required in the beginning stages of a relationship. That’s understandable. Whether you’re the parent who plops their kid in front of the TV to get a few minutes of peace, or the salesperson who needs to focus on another client, it’s simply impossible to stay 100% focused all day, every day. That’s ok.

However, while it’s understandable to shift your focus from time to time, you don’t want to risk losing a relationship because of neglect. A client, just like a child, requires a level of care and nurturing, even when they’ve become self-sufficient.  Your responsibility as a parent or a salesperson with a client doesn’t end at this point. Your relationship will inevitably change over time, and your success will ultimately be measured by how your relationship has been maintained over the long haul.

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Nope, These Are Not Sales Techniques for a Recession – They’re Sales Techniques for All Time!

August 17, 2009 at 7:21 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Blogroll, entrepreneurship, sales, Sales Training, small business | 1 Comment

The drawn out recession has snapped many salespeople back into reality. Regardless of the industry, the days of fast and easy sales are over. So-called sales professionals who have forgotten or never learned basic proven selling techniques are now realizing that they better ramp up their efforts if they’re going to hit their goals or even keep their jobs.

There has definitely been a shake out of ineffective salespeople in the last two years, and organizations are choosing to function with streamlined sales teams that are lean, mean, and focused on effective selling.

Instead of dwelling on what used to be or complaining about the current tough economic climate, successful salespeople are going back to the basics of selling. These techniques work and really should have been used even when times weren’t so tough. Now, they’re not only useful, they’re absolutely essential. Here they are:

Show Value

Why should someone choose your product or service over another? More than ever, you need to be able to communicate the value in what you’re selling. No one is going to buy from you just because you’re a nice guy. However, they will buy from you if you’ve effectively communicated why and how you can save them money or time or improve their current situation.

Stay Close

In this new economy, you just can’t expect that clients or prospects will call you. It’s your job as a salesperson to stay in close contact before, during, and after a sale. And, with so many communication tools now available, there simply is no excuse for not staying connected and being accessible if they do happen to call.

Be Proactive

To be successful, you must be one step ahead of your competition, as well as your customers. There are many ways to accomplish this. Stay on the radar screens of those who are buying from you. Cross-sell, up-sell, and offer any help or assistance that you can provide. Keep current with industry happenings, and keep your eyes open for new opportunities and what your competitors are doing.

Give Something for Nothing

The art of selling requires give and take. Customers are quick to identify salespeople who are hot to make a commission and care little about offering anything in return. The best way to establish long-term relationships that will deliver repeat sales is to be generous and show appreciation. No, you don’t have to break the bank and give pricy gifts, but do take the time to offer well-thought out tokens of your appreciation. Everything from invites to industry events to sending links to articles of interest are ways to show that you care.

Be Faster

Patience for slow service has worn thin in this economy. With increasing competition and everyone stepping up their marketing efforts, there simply isn’t room for service or response times that are slower than a snail’s pace. If you want to hang on to the business you already have, it’s essential to find every way possible to be as fast as you possibly can.

Customers Come First

August 12, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Blogroll, entrepreneurship, Marketing, sales, Sales Training | Leave a comment
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Wow. I say these words to each and every prospect and client but Scott Hornstein (Hornstein Associates, scott@hornsteinassociates.com) says it best.

As printed in Sales & Marketing Management magazine and penned by Scott:

When customers experience a marketing message, there are three subliminal questions they ask themselves: “Who are you, and why should I care?” “What do you want from me?” and, “What’s in it for me?” If the answers aren’t apparent and compelling, the customer will be long gone.

A successful marketing effort will formulate responses to these questions by bringing prospects to the planning table early on, through “voice of customer” qualitative research, via one-on-one interviews, which can hone a company’s competitive edge, and challenge marketingassumptions. First, however, marketers have to ask themselves the following: How do customers view my company? What attributes or values do they think of? The answers will help build the most effective positioning, and will tell customers who you are and why they should care.

Take this example: A small manufacturer of printed circuit boards found a new competitor was initiating a price war. To formulate a response, he asked his best customers the basis of their loyalty. They told him: “We are your customers because of the quality and service we receive; price is meaningless without that.” They showed that there are always buyers who’ll want price first, but they aren’t the loyal market segment.

Marketers must also be knowledgeable of how the customer decides to adopt the particular product or service. Who are the influencers, and what information do they need? Marketing messages ask customers to listen, learn, and be motivated—understanding the decision-making process enables marketing to bring the right message to the right individual at the right time.

For example, when Productivity Point International (PPI), a training company based in Morrisville, North Carolina, prepared to enter a new market segment called customer education, it found that the decision-making process differed by company, and often involved non-traditional decision makers who weren’t familiar with PPI. To get acquainted with these decision makers and educated about their process, PPI implemented a focused, longer-term public relations effort that involved case histories, webinars, articles, and other materials to raise awareness and generate response—which helped them get their foot in the door.

As far as what’s in it for the customer, their reactions to your messaging provide the basis of your competitive differentiation. After Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Compaq merged, they asked customers for their reactions to their new marketing messages. Customers responded with concern that basic HP values were getting lost in what they saw as hype or spin. Representative comments include:

“HP has a good technical heritage. This should be your focus. Is this boring to you? It’s important to us!”

“The benefit to us is people and service. Keep the people partnership in your messages: HP is there for you.”

“Steer clear of competitor bashing. Play to your strengths: the breadth of quality products and robust support. HP is the standard.”

All of these examples show how important it is to get customer input early in the marketing process. Gordon Johnson, former director of marketing at PPI, sums it up by saying: “Listening to and incorporating customers’ views is our reality check. It helped us to make some very important and successful marketing decisions.”

Scott Hornstein is principal at Hornstein Associates, a direct marketing consultancy in Redding, Conn. Clients include Microsoft, HP, The Phoenician. He is the co-author of Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing (McGraw-Hill, 2004). Contact: (203) 938-8715; scott@hornsteinassociates.com.

Who Seduced Your Prospect While You Fell Off the Grid?

December 11, 2008 at 8:21 am | Posted in Blogroll, Networking, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business | 2 Comments

Patience is a virtue. Sure it’s an age-old adage, but it’s still very relevant when it comes to managing prospects.  Too many of us, especially when times are challenging, tend to lose our cool and give up on relationships before they have reached fruition. Prospecting cycles can often be long and tedious. The key is keeping the proverbial slowpokes on the grid so your competition doesn’t take them away. So, cool your jets and read these important tips on maintaining your prospects while they inch forward towards buying from you.

 

Be Realistic

In a perfect world, you’d make a presentation, and prospects would decide right on the spot that they immediately must have what you’re offering. Unfortunately, little things like budgets, cutbacks, management approvals, and expenditure planning seem to irritatingly get in the way. Often times, your prospects might simply have their hands tied when it comes to buying anything right now, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t when the time is right. Find out what is preventing a decision from being made and when a purchase is likely to happen. Be patient and understanding, and you’ll probably be rewarded with a sale.

 

Add Value While Biding Your Time

Ok. You’ve made your presentation, and there’s definite interest but no movement yet. That doesn’t mean that you should sit back and wait for them to call you. On the contrary – this is the time to add value in a relationship with a prospect.

 

Start thinking of ways that you can stay in the forefront of their thoughts without looking like a pushy salesperson. It’s all about providing those little extras that show that you care. What kinds of little extras? Well, start with keeping them connected with a regular newsletter and email blasts that you send to your clients. Send them industry publication articles on topics that might be of particular interest or invite them to an upcoming trade event or networking get-together. You might just provide them with a useful new business strategy or a valuable contact through your efforts.

 

Hang in There, but Play It Smart

Prospecting cycles can sometimes drag on for years and then result in valuable business. Other times, prospects can keep you hanging without ever having any intention of buying. It’s your job to determine who has real potential and who is just stringing you along. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell, and certainly, the best way to determine their viability is to ask lots of questions and keep them close during the process.

 

Finally, the worst thing you can do is to simply give up and let them fall of the grid without knowing if there was true potential or not. What you don’t know will certainly be found out by your competition who will more than willingly take the business from you!

 

 

 

Three Simple Steps to Facilitate Failure

April 10, 2008 at 8:14 pm | Posted in Blogroll, Branding, Marketing, Networking, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training | Leave a comment

For a salesperson or business owner, failure can be traumatic with long-term consequences. Unfortunately, many very smart, business-minded people do fail at selling their products or services for a variety of simple reasons. The following steps are often neglected causing sales to be lost and businesses to fail.

 

Failure to Replenish

You’ve been focused on making a big sale, and your thoughts and energies have been directed towards one especially promising prospect. Meanwhile, your prospect list has dwindled, and you’ll soon have no one in your sales funnel. While it’s necessary to pay special attention to prospects who might prove to be lucrative, it’s a grave mistake to stop the pursuit of new prospects to concentrate solely on another. Your sales funnel should be dynamic, ever growing and changing. Replenishing your prospect list needs to be a regular function, not something you only work on when you have nothing to do.

 

Failure to Stay on the Grid

Are you great at the initial push towards making a sale, and then neglect to maintain contact through the entire sales cycle and after a sale is made? Do you expect your prospects and clients to do the work for you? If you are responsible for sales, it’s your job to stay on the grid and maintain ongoing contact. If you aren’t keeping up with them, your competitors will.

 

Failure to Probe

You might have clients who have purchased the same thing from you for years, but does this justify you not probing for their needs? Absolutely not! It’s not for you to decide whether or not they need something new, but it is your responsibility to find out what they need each and every time that you engage in the sales process. Clients’ needs do change, and if you aren’t asking the right questions and presenting the right products and services, you are simply leaving business on the table.

 

 

 

 

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