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.

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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.

The Marriage – Um – Divorce Between Marketing and Sales

February 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Branding, Marketing, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

We all know the story that marketing and sales go hand-in-hand. I mean it’s a fact right? You can have a pretty terrific marketing campaign that might even win awards, gets recognition and all that good stuff and STILL not get you the ROI that you want (read that as increased new business).

Equally true is that a sales person should always be able to get better results when they have effective marketing materials to help them tell their sales story.

This is all very simple.

Then why is it that so many marketing campaigns are created without much of a thought…ok, real thought to what comes after the marketing.

What happens if and when the sales reps following up on the marketing campaign are just not able to close the business?

I’ll tell you what happens.

• The company decides that the marketing program wasn’t “really” effective.
• The marketing firm gets put on notice and bad-mouthed for not producing new business.
• The company decides that marketing stinks and is irrelevant to their success.

One or all of the above.

And if just isn’t true.

I’m a sales trainer and I see marketing campaigns from a different perspective.

I see campaigns started without a thought to what is going to happen afterwards and when results are poor everyone seems confused and unhappy.

And of course the lack of response could have been avoided if only if the sales portion of the campaign was in place BEFORE the marketing efforts were deployed. YES—what happens after the mail is dropped, the website goes live, the email is sent, the ads appear, the telemarketers generate interest…that’s where sales jumps in.

Heck, let us be part of the plan!

All of you marketing firms out there—wouldn’t your clients be even more satisfied if you made certain that the pieces of the follow-up sales game lined up and ready to go. Sales process? Check. Lead follow-up procedures? Check. Sales reps trained and skills refresher provided? Check. CRM and touch point management strategy developed? Check.
You get the idea.

Don’t start one more campaign without talking to your client about their sales follow-up. They’ll thank you for it!

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?

Need More Business? 5 Tactics to Ratchet Up Sales

June 6, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Branding, entrepreneurship, Marketing, sales | Leave a comment

Do you need more business? If you have answered yes, then you should consider doing these five things this week:

1. Mine the “gold” in your existing database. It is (usually) much easier and faster to get more new business from an existing or dormant account, than prospecting and starting with someone new. You already have credibility and a track record of success.

2. Prospect proactively. Yes, prospect. Send emails, snail mail, make outbound tele-prospecting calls, network more strategically, and take the steps that get you “out there”. Being reactive is a recipe for faiilure.

3. Think hard about your deliverables and what you are offering to the marketplace. Is it old and stale or have you changed with the times? Are you certain that people still want / need what you are providing?

4. Work harder. Just when you think you have just about had it, send 5 more emails, make 3 more calls, go to one more networking event.

5. Be a perfectionist and become known as a resource that adds value every step of the engagement. What is your personal brand? What do people say about you and your business?

The best time to start doing this is…now!

The I’s Have It

July 27, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Branding, entrepreneurship, Marketing, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

Staying on the radar screens of clients and prospects is more important than ever for salespeople.  With demand for products and services only now beginning to pick up as the worst recession in decades slowly dissipates, it has become absolutely necessary for anyone involved in sales to be persistent, proactive, and patient.  How can this best be achieved without also looking desperate?

Remember the following three “I” words as you navigate through the sales process to walk that fine line between pushiness and persistence. They will keep you on the radar in a way that positions you as a valuable ally and resource – exactly who you want to be now and as the economy begins to improve.

Invitations

If you’re like most sales professionals, you probably receive more invitations to tradeshows, industry and charity events, seminars, and get-togethers than you could ever possible attend. Don’t let them go to waste! Instead of “circular filing” them, dole them out to prospects and clients.

Of course, they have to be relevant to their particular industry or interests. But, by being generous with your invitations, you’re using a very non-obtrusive tactic to position yourself as someone who will go the extra mile to establish and grow a business relationship.

Don’t stop with the invitations that you’re not using. If you’re planning to attend an event or show, why not ask a potential or current client to join you? It’s the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together, build the relationship, and learn more about their business needs.

Introductions

One of the most valuable tools in any salesperson’s arsenal is their Rolodex. If you’ve built up an impressive list of contacts, you should be facilitating introductions – either cyber or in-person. You’re golden in the eyes of those you’re selling to if you’re introducing them to someone of value. If you want to garner some positive attention – give a referral. No one deletes an email or ignores a voice mail from a person who sends introductions!

Information

We undoubtedly live in the information age. If you can be a true resource for information that is timely, interesting, and of value, you will not be forgotten. Utilize Google Alerts, and other online tools to stay as current as possible. Sign up for newsletters, journals, and blogs. And, generously pass along information that can help others with their businesses.

As you develop a reputation as a knowledgeable “go to” person, consider starting your own blog or signing up with Twitter where others can check in with what you’re deeming interesting and worth writing about.

What’s interesting about these three I’s is that they are free and readily available to each and every salesperson who is interested in maximizing their ability to provide great service. However, they require the ability to be engaged and interested in partnering with prospects and clients. At the end of the day, it’s not just about making a sale; it’s truly about forming a long-term relationship that is mutually beneficial.

Increase Your Sales: Overcoming Objections

July 19, 2009 at 7:54 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Branding, entrepreneurship, Marketing, Networking, sales, Sales & Technology, small business, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every sale were made without any objection from the customer? Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple. However, by understanding that objections are a natural part of the sales process and by learning how to overcome and prevent them, you can turn a reluctant prospect into an enthusiastic customer.

The key to making any sale is to provide a prospect with an improvement in their situation. Does this sound too simple? Surprisingly, it’s frequently forgotten by many salespeople who spend too much time talking about themselves and their products or services and not enough time finding out about their prospect’s situation or needs.

Learning how to identify what your customer wants or needs improved and how you can help is a skill that you can utilize during every sales negotiation. Here are four simple steps to overcoming a prospect’s objections to make the sale.

  1. Understand the “true” objection. If unsure, ask for clarification. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and listen intently. The worst thing that you can do is misunderstand or not hear what your prospect is trying to convey.
  2. Show empathy. Express your understanding and appreciation of their situation. Don’t rush your prospect. Take the time to make them feel comfortable and not defensive.
  3. Remember that it is all about connecting with the prospect’s needs, understanding their “pain points,” and clearly restating how what you’re offering will improve their situation.
  4. Before trying to close the sale, resell the benefits of what you are offering and make certain to communicate the benefits that specifically address their objections.

Of course, it’s always better to avoid a prospect’s objections in the first place. The best way to do this is to engage in a comprehensive process of discovery to learn what they really need and want. Ask questions and learn about your prospect’s situation, and you’ll be well on your way to making the sale.

How to Screw Up a Good Introduction

June 1, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Branding, Customer Service, entrepreneurship, Networking, sales, Sales Training, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Networking isn’t a short-term strategy. It’s not about power selling and moving onto the next lead. Smart networkers understand this concept. They know that their networking success is largely dependent on nurturing relationships and helping others. Through their generosity and efforts, they are confident that they will reap the benefits of networking over the long-term.

Unfortunately, there are many misguided networkers out there that thoroughly don’t “get” the give and take of networking. They only consider introductions as opportunities to sell and irritate fellow business professionals with their short-sighted, myopic view of networking. They don’t take the time to explore all of the potential opportunities and feel that is more important to lunge ahead and aggressively sell to anyone who is put in contact with them.

Not only is this overt approach to networking obnoxious and irritating to everyone else. It’s simply not effective. Networkers who, for whatever reason, have adopted this strategy are often the same individuals who claim that networking events and groups are wastes of time. What they’re not seeing is that their approach is turning everyone off to the point where no one wants to help them.

If you’re having a lack of success with your networking efforts, it’s well worth your time to explore how you are approaching introductions. Some questions to ponder:

Are You Taking the Time to Get to Know New Contacts?
Relationships of all types, including those with networking contacts, require a period of discovery. How can you begin to explore how you can help each other until you understand each others needs, wants, capabilities, likes, and dislikes? Fellow-networkers will pick up very quickly if you’re not interested in getting to know them. Time invested in establishing the ground work of your relationship will be time very well spent.

Are You Looking For Ways to Help Them?
Only after you have a good understanding of how you can possibly work together can you begin to offer suggestions. Use the information that you’ve gathered to find logical, thoughtful ways to help.

Are You Uncovering All Possible Opportunities?
Again, networking is a process not a one-time effort. Don’t stop at one attempt to assist a new acquaintance. Keep them in mind and remind them that you’re working on ways to make this relationship beneficial and productive.

Are You Making Yourself Available?
Out of sight, out of mind definitely certainly applies to networking. Keep in good contact with your new networking acquaintance and provide them with all of your contact information so that they can reach you. If you’re both focused on helping and understanding each others goals and objectives, you’ll go a long way towards creating a relationship that will be fruitful and rewarding to both of you in the months and years to come.

What’s Wrong With this Picture?

May 29, 2009 at 7:57 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Branding, Customer Service, entrepreneurship, Marketing, sales, small business | Leave a comment
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Joanna Meurer, President of ID Concepts (http://www.id-ny.com) is a long-time associate of mine and she and I (almost) always see eye to eye on marketing, branding and sales…..yes, there is a difference:)

We have a potential client that we will work on together and we were discussing the firm’s web presence, or lack thereof.  Joanne picked up the ball and wrote the following blog post (http://idconcepts.wordpress.com/) which I agree with totally and I’ve reprinted it here for all to read.  And just for the record, a fabulous web site and marketing materials are not enough to close the deals. You must also have exquisite sales competencies and service to bring in, retain and grow the business.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk to someone about their website. It was an interesting conversation so I thought I would share. It was clear from the onset that this business had been burned, but even they were not sure how. They knew one thing, they were dissatisfied with the results,  but they could not quite put their finger on WHY.  This is VERY common, so here is my answer to WHY.
When you hire a web company in most cases their only concern is the execution of the mechanics of the site. It is kind of like going straight to a surgeon before you find out from your primary care what exactly is wrong with you. When working with this type of company they simply ask you to provide the material and then ask you where you want it to go, then a wonderful team of technitions will do exactly what you ask. Seems right, but here is the problem. What if you do not KNOW what should be there. What if you are not clear on who you are talking to? Do you even have a clear plan about your marketing objective first, because if you do not have that, then you cannot even expect to have a fully functioning and highly effective web presence.

As I have said time and again, your web site is part of a package that includes everything about you. Your brand, your story, is what makes you different from your competition. Every single business has a value to another, and that message must be captured clearly and concisely in everything you do. Your web site should reflect that both asethetically and in message, no matter your budget.  If you are not working with a company that can provide that, you are wasting a whole lot of money with no results at all.

It is my goal to get people to think about these things when they go out there and create tools for the promotion of their business. Think it through, everything works together, and must be thought of in that way. When you plan it out, the results will be evident, and after all that is what we all want. Effective tools that help us close the deal.

Make Your Own Friggin’ Luck

April 28, 2009 at 7:58 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Branding, Marketing, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

Some people have an inexplicable amount of good luck. Even during tough times, they’re successful in their careers, finances, and their personal lives without seemingly having to overcome the adversities that plague most of us. They don’t appear to be smarter or more talented, but they do seem to be blessed with some force of nature that consistently produces good fortune.

There are some obvious measures of luck such as winning a lottery or being born into royalty, but for most lucky individuals, good fortune is not a random occurrence. It truly has to do with having the mindset that encourages and allows lucky events to occur.

Do lucky people act differently? Some recent studies have shown that they tend to have certain personality traits in common that play a pivotal role in producing luck. These so-called “lucky” individuals have been shown to be more extroverted, positive and open-minded, and less anxious than their less fortunate counterparts.

While having a winning personality certainly helps. There is one additional factor that can determine one’s ability to be lucky. It’s opportunity. Lucky people tend to create more opportunities for themselves to connect with others and socially interact. Anyone can improve their luck by welcoming new opportunities in their lives. These four strategies can help:

Open Up to Receive Opportunities
Opportunities can happen at anytime, anywhere. The more you make yourself available to receive them, the more likely they will come your way. How can you accelerate your opportunities? Network, take up a new hobby, join a group, reconnect with old colleagues, and even talk to the guy behind you in the grocery store line. Being friendly, relaxed, and interested in others will open yourself to many new opportunities.

Reacquaint Yourself with Your Inner-You
You have an intuition and gut feelings for a reason. They’re your internal compass to guide you on your life’s path. With the hectic pace of life, it can be hard to hear your inner-you. Take time out of each and every day to clear your mind, unwind, and even meditate to be able to effectively make the necessary decisions that will encourage luck to come your way.

Have Confidence in the Future
Lucky people are inherently optimistic. They expect good things to happen to them. Both negative and positive expectations can be self-fulfilling prophecies. So, doesn’t it just make sense to stay positive, and through your consistently upbeat thoughts, you’ll create your own luck in the coming days, months, and years.

Make Lemonade
Even lucky individuals are dealt lemons from time to time. It’s what you do with them that will make all the difference. Develop techniques to cope with the negative aspects of life and don’t ruminate over past problems. Move forward and stay positive.

While you can’t will yourself to win the lottery, you can control your mindset. So-called unlucky individuals can transform themselves if they have the desire and drive to do so. It takes conscious effort to be positive and make the best of a situation. It takes an open mind to be accepting of new ideas. It takes a smile and the desire to connect with others to welcome new opportunities.

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