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
Tags:

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.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm (Er, the Business)

May 18, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Customer Service, entrepreneurship, Networking, sales, Sales Training | Leave a comment

In this fast paced, technology-driven world, how fast is fast enough?

No doubt, the business executive who has a sense of urgency and follows up in a timely manner has always been more likely to acquire and maintain business than one who has a laissez-faire attitude. However, what was once considered to be an acceptable response time is now being deemed too slow by a growing number of people who expect everything post-haste.

Due in large part to the growth and advancements of the Internet and mobile devices, immediate response has become the new standard for conducting business in many industries. Those who consistently lag in returning calls or who aren’t easily accessible risk being replaced by someone who is more proactive.

Simply put, we are all increasingly making buying and referring decisions based upon response time, and if you’re the one lagging, you’re risking the possibility of losing valuable business. How can you ramp up your speed so that you’re the bird who’s getting the worm?

Establish a Communications Policy
The first step to improving your response time is to create a communications policy that you will follow. Establish how quickly you promise to return calls and emails. You should definitely be responding to inquiries, prospects, and clients either immediately or within a few hours. By waiting days, you will find that many will lose patience with you quickly, deem you slow, and move on. If you are prone to procrastination, write out your communications policy and keep it in a location where you will be reminded of it on a daily basis.

Make It Easy for Your Contacts
Give your contacts several ways to reach you to maximize their ability to receive a quick response. Consider adding to your business card your office and mobile numbers, email address, and IM address.

Invest in the Latest Technology
Are you still using an old phone or a substandard mobile phone service that frequently drops calls? Is your computer or internet speed slower than snail mail? If so, a few hundred dollars spent to acquire the latest technology is a smart investment in your future business development. Consider an iPhone or a Blackberry that allows you to phone, email, and text. Take advantage of the free or inexpensive services of a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) provider that enables you to make and receive free phone calls on the Internet and provides instant messaging capabilities with a presence indicator to let your contacts know when you’re available.

Respond Even If You Don’t Have the Answer
Lagging responders are frequently slow because they are simply reluctant to call or email someone when they have bad news to report or if they don’t have an answer. This is never a smart strategy.

Once you’ve established your communications policy, you need to stick with it – even when you don’t have good news or the necessary information. It’s far better to say “I’m sorry” or “I don’t know” than it is to be unresponsive.

Diets Don’t Work & Neither Does Inconsistent Prospecting: A Primer on Business Development Techniques that Work

March 14, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Customer Service, entrepreneurship, Marketing, Networking, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business | 1 Comment
Tags: ,

If you’ve ever lost weight on a fad diet and quickly regained the pounds as soon as you returned to your usual way of eating, you know that diets don’t work. What the weight loss gurus and diet book authors don’t want you to know is that the only effective way to lose weight is through behavior modification. There is no quick fix, just simple changes that need to be implemented day in and day out.

Like dieting, prospecting in fits and spurts is equally as ineffective. There is no secret strategy that can be rapidly learned and executed. Consistency is the only way that you will achieve sales goals. Just like switching your diet from junk food to healthy meals, prospecting requires discipline and a good, sound strategy for the long-term.

Set a Time for Prospecting

You are far more likely to put in the time for prospecting if it is scheduled for the same time every day. For most, mornings are the best. You’re probably at your sharpest before lunch, and you’ll have more luck with making contact with those who you are trying to call. If you feel tempted to put it off for another day, remember that prospecting is your most productive activity that can generate you the biggest return on your time.

Have a Daily Goal

Once you know when you’re going to prospect, establish a set goal that you need to achieve. Whether it’s five or 50 people a day, stick with it.

Get Organized

Effective prospecting requires excellent organizational and note-taking skills. Take advantage of useful lead management/sales prospecting software to help you keep track of who you’re contacting and where your prospects are in your sales funnel. Don’t rely on hand-written notes on bits of scattered paper, nor remembering details in your head. You’ll quickly get overwhelmed and will inevitably forget something. Organization is definitely a very necessary component to staying on track for the long haul.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Consistent prospecting is undeniably a big commitment. You will encounter ups and downs, and you will most certainly have those days when you’re tempted to not make your calls. However, staying the course and diligently doing what you need to do each and every day will help you find many new successes and enable you to better deal with the occasional defeats.

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow is Another Day…Not!

March 9, 2009 at 7:57 pm | Posted in Customer Service, entrepreneurship, Marketing, Networking, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

Certainly Scarlet O’Hara could bat her eyelashes and exclaim that “tomorrow is another day.” However, in this current economy, such blatant procrastination is not just dumb; it’s downright self-destructive.  

We have never experienced an economic period quite like this one where so many aspects of it are faltering. Companies are downsizing, budgets are being cut, and opportunities are being lost each and every day. Success now requires being smart, quick, and tremendously proactive. An attitude of complacency is no longer feasible for anyone who plans on making it through to the other side of this recession.

For those who are the “early birds”, the “busy bees”, and the all-around “go-getters” there are still plenty of opportunities. If you’re not a “Johnny on the spot” here’s what you need to do to become competitive in this increasingly challenging marketplace:

Make Prospecting Calls

Prospecting should be at the top of your “to do” list each and every day. While other aspects of your job are also important, prospecting is the task that has the greatest possibilities of bringing in money. So, make it your priority.

Network

Opportunities for networking abound – particularly during tough times. There are endless online and in-person events and get-togethers that can get you one step closer to a new client. Seek them out and make it a point to go to several each and every week. Help those you can with the contacts that you have and make new contacts with those you wouldn’t otherwise meet.

Call Existing Clients

You need to cross sell, up sell, and continue to remind your existing customers that you are still in the game. You’ve heard this all before, but now it’s more important than ever. Uncover every opportunity to serve your existing client base, and you’ll discover a multitude of new sales.

Develop Your Skills

Resting on your laurels just doesn’t fly anymore. You better be up to speed on the latest technologies, software, and lingo. Are you falling behind? Make it a point to keep learning and growing so that you’ll be ahead of the game. This isn’t the time to be deemed the old dinosaur who can’t use a computer.

Procrastination isn’t a life sentence. You can change, and yes, the change must begin today. Once you begin to make the necessary changes, you’ll quickly find that you’re getting more done and making far fewer excuses for your lack of productivity. As the famous Roman lyric poet Horace said over two thousand years ago, “Carpe Diem” – Seize the Day! 

Adrian’s Stimulus Plan

February 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Customer Service, entrepreneurship, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business | 1 Comment

We’re all pondering the methods our government leaders are proposing to jumpstart the economy. Meanwhile, the recession seems to be getting more and more critical with each passing day.

The reality is that regardless of the stimulus plan that is finally decided upon, you’re not likely to get a handout anytime soon. So, instead of fretting over the economy and what the politicos will or will not do, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and create your own stimulus plan.

With a simple disciplined plan to reach out to others, you can and will increase your sales – even in these troubling times. Don’t fall into a downward slide of pessimism. Get out there and start making it happen!

Expand Your Circle

Make it a weekly goal to meet ten new contacts. Remember, there is safety in numbers. The more people you can connect with, the more sales you’ll make, and the less likely you’ll be affected by the economic downturn.

Go to Networking Events

Too many people think that they’re above having to attend networking get-togethers. Interestingly, these are the same people who are complaining about their lagging business. Commit yourself to attending events at least twice a month. Sure, you might generate some new business, but just as importantly, you may be able to provide help to someone who also needs a leg up.

Become Active in a Group/Committee/Association

Undoubtedly, you’re a member of at least one industry association or business group. While you may have ignored their email invitations to events when times were good, you could probably benefit from their support now.

Show Some Appreciation

Now is the time to thank all of those loyal existing clients who have given you business through the years. Be generous with your appreciation, and you might just drum up some new sales.

Work Your Database

Make it a daily plan to start reaching out to everyone on your database. Begin with the smaller accounts and work upwards so that you don’t miss anyone!

Reactivate Dormant Accounts

Haven’t heard from a customer in a while? Give them a call, send them an email, or even invite them to an event or function. Just don’t let them drop off of your radar.

Cross Sell Everyone

If you’re making assumptions about what your customers want and need, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to cross sell. Always provide information on all that you have to offer, and let them decide what they want to buy.

 

 

 

 

   

Late is as Late Does

December 15, 2008 at 9:09 am | Posted in Customer Service, holiday, Marketing, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business | 1 Comment

In some social circles, being fashionably late is de rigueur. However, in the business world, being late is not only tacky; it also clearly defines you in a negative light. What does being late actually say to others? Here’s the ugly truth of tardiness.

Disrespect

In a busy business environment, time is money. Keeping others waiting is a profound demonstration of disregard for others. Regardless of the business situation, whether it’s a meeting, email, luncheon, interview, appointment, or scheduled phone call, if you’re late you’re wasting others’ time and costing them money.

Lack of Organizational Ability

In this age of online calendars, day planners, and digital clocks, there’s just no excuse for losing track of time. Frankly, no one cares about your time management issues. If you can’t get to where you need to be on time, you’ll rapidly develop a reputation for being disorganized and inept. 

Inefficiency

If you’re chronically late, you’re probably inefficient in other areas of your job, as well. This may or may not be true, but this is what the people who are waiting for you assume.

Ineffectiveness

Are you the boss who is guilty of being late? Well, shame on you! And, guess what? Your employees will mirror your bad habit. Make punctuality a priority and set the example. Otherwise, you’ll be establishing a pattern of ineffective behavior that can have far-reaching ramifications.

Being on time is a hallmark characteristic of a professional, thoughtful, well-organized individual. It quietly speaks volumes about your character that will inspire others to do likewise.

 

 

 

 

Tis the Season

November 16, 2008 at 6:34 pm | Posted in Customer Service, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

With the holiday season almost here, the time is now to give thanks to all of your “categories” of contacts. Of course, you need to thank the clients who buy from you. However, it’s just as important to express appreciation for your prospects, networking contacts, and vendors. In this particularly challenging economic climate, if you’re not remembering your entire list of contacts this holiday season, you’re running the risk of losing them to competition that does make the extra effort to give thanks.

So, what’s the most effective way to show your appreciation this holiday season? Here are a few tips to help you thank those who have been instrumental in your success.

Be the First to Give Thanks

Don’t wait until December 24th to send out your cards, make it your goal to be the first to say thank you. Express your appreciation before your competitors’ holiday cards, 2009 calendars, gift baskets, and miscellaneous other tokens of appreciation start flooding in. You’ll be sending a message loud and clear that you are not just thoughtful and appreciative, but that you’re also organized.

Personalize the Cards

Preprinted holiday cards can certainly save time, but they don’t really send a personal message that you’re thankful. Yes, it may take longer to write a hand-written message on each card, but your contacts will appreciate and remember the extra effort.

Give a Donation

Wondering what to give a contact who has been particularly helpful to you throughout the year? Instead of a box of calorie-laden chocolates or a wilting winter floral arrangement, make a donation in their name to one of their favorite charities. It’s a tasteful gift that truly shows you care about them and what they value.

Include Them in Your Holiday Celebration

Of course, cards and gifts will always be appreciated, but why not invite your key contacts to celebrate the season with your team? An invitation to a holiday party or office luncheon can be a great opportunity to say thanks and to connect on a fun, pressure-free level.

It’s a fact that up to two-thirds of clients will leave a business if they feel that their patronage isn’t appreciated. The holiday season is a prime opportunity to say thanks and create ongoing bonds with all of your contacts. Times are certainly challenging, but it’s still necessary to recognize and say thank you for all of the business and help that you’ve received throughout the year.

 

October 30, 2008 at 7:17 pm | Posted in Customer Service, Marketing, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

I did some shopping today. Nothing elaborate. Just some odds and ends purchased in stores near my house. I was also invisible today, at least in the stores that I shopped. No one came over to me, offered their assistance or made any sign of recognition until such time as I took the initiative and went over to them.  

Got me thinking about my recent trip to Istanbul.

There in the Grand Bazaar you couldn’t help but be noticed. The merchants were on their feet, making eye contact, extolling the virtues of their wares, heck—trying to make a sale.

I think some of the sales folks that I encountered today could take a lesson or two. In enthusiasm, interest, energy and focus and if they tempered it a bit with our more laid back sensibilities, then that would be OK too.

But it would feel awfully nice to not feel invisible when trying to make a purchase. Not so very hard to ask for, is it?

Mystery Shop Your Office

October 9, 2008 at 8:18 am | Posted in Customer Service, sales, small business, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Having had one too many bad experiences calling into a diverse group of companies, I’ve come up with this idea:  Mystery shop your company!

 

Today, it’s just a fact that if you’re not focusing your attention on how your customers are being treated, your business is almost certainly doomed for failure. Increasing competition has created the need for customer service to be a fundamental business component. If you’re not paying the necessary attention on how your staff is treating customers, you might want to be asking yourself why?

 

Sure, time and money needs to be spent on operational efficiency, strategic planning, and marketing initiatives, but developing and executing a customer plan that includes regular assessment is extremely important. Managers and C-level executives can easily become detached from the frontlines and often have a very inaccurate picture of what customers are experiencing. Often what’s being missed is that the customer service team is lacking in enthusiasm and is not dedicated to helping customers or actively trying to close sales.

 

One of the best tools for learning about your frontline team is to record mystery shop calls where a third-party shopper poses as a prospective customer. Of course, you’ll learn a great deal about what words are being said, but also about the tone and manner in which they’re being heard.

 

However, mystery calls are only valuable if they are being used to help employees improve their sales and communications skills. Once you have the data, you then need to:

 

Review Calls with Employees

Sure, it can be enlightening for you to hear the calls, but it’s your employees who really need to listen to them. Take the time to review calls with employees before any specific actions are taken.

 

Detail Specifics

Once an employee has listened to a mystery shop call, begin the dialogue to highlight areas in which he or she has excelled and faltered. Discuss ways to improve techniques, and emphasize the important that each and every call has on day-to-day business.

 

Develop the Guidelines

Without clear guidelines as to what good customer service entails, training can become very random, and employees will decide on their own how to treat customers. This isn’t the best way to deliver the best customer service. Clearly define what is expected and how best to deliver it.

 

Practice

While it’s important to offer constructive criticism, it’s just as vital to encourage practice. Customer service and sales techniques are learned skills. Give the support and encouragement employees need to reinforce behaviors. Use role-playing in training and discuss tips and techniques during meetings.

 

Get Outside Help

Sometimes, there just aren’t the internal resources to effectively develop a customer service team. This is when outsourcing might just be the answer. An outside training partner can help define objectives, clarify challenges, and tailor training to meet your particular organizational needs.

 

There is clearly no short-term fix for building an effective customer service organization. It’s always a long-term commitment, and mystery shopping is only one component. To stay competitive, it is essential to invest in assessments, evaluations, and training to make positive changes that will permanently and positively affect company culture over the long-haul.

 

 

« Previous PageNext Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.