What’s Good for One Might Not be Good For Another, Or…Customize Baby

July 20, 2011 at 10:53 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, sales | Leave a comment
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Here I am at the beach enjoying a yearly retreat to sand and surf with the over-riding idea of letting go of routine and obligations.

Yep, I’m sitting here and looking at the myriad of beach set-ups. Some folks have umbrellas and elaborate sun blocking paraphernalia; others are lying on chairs and blankets basking in the rays and clearly going for the glow. They’re all making it work for their specific needs…customizing it for themselves so there’s full satisfaction.

Do you do that? Customize I mean or, do you have a “one size fits all” approach?

Sure there are certainly businesses and applications where customization is unnecessary, and where a cookie-cutter approach is just fine and perhaps even preferred (think about it…when you get your Dunkin’ Donuts don’t you want to “know” how they’re going to taste?).

But for us consultants customization is king. We seek to deploy solutions that are specific to the situations at hand, and we do this by exquisite probing. Asking the kind of insightful questions that enable you to uncover exactly what you need to know is a best practice in sales.

I encourage you to do these simple things:

1. Prepare a list of 15-20 questions that you should review prior to every prospect interaction. Add new questions to the list as they become relevant.

2. Practice your probing skills and refine your delivery and timing so you don’t come across as interrogating your prospects. Use your prospect’s answers as a platform for you to provide additional information and benefits statements about your product or service.

3. Listen to the responses that you receive. 80% of the sales dance is listening.

Remember that if in your business one size does NOT fit all it is up to YOU to get to the heart of the situation. You can never count on the prospect to freely disclose their wants and needs.

Sunscreen anyone?


Sales Reps: NY, NY—If You Can Make It Here You Can Make It Anywhere

June 2, 2011 at 7:44 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, Networking, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment
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I’ve lived in NY for most of my adult (working) life but have had the opportunity to do my “thing” (sales consulting and training) nationwide.

Here’s what I know: NY provides exceptional opportunities with a robust and vast business population across most every industry segment. NY also has some of the best and the brightest and a rigorous competitive environment, and the people with whom you are trying to connect are inundated by messages and outreach from these very same talented people.

What’s a sales rep to do?

Well, assuming that you don’t intend to pack your bags and move to a small town in the mid-west there’s some clear and simple steps that are mandatory to making it here in NY:

1) Make certain that you are visible and occupy a spot on the playing field. Don’t allow your competitors to take over. Utilize the tools available to you (social media, email marketing, telemarketing, direct mail, PR, advertising, trade shows, networking, etc.) and obtain / maintain mind share.

2) Become an exquisite networker. The more people with whom you connect and the more people that you connect to EACH OTHER, the more influential you’ll become. Having “great networker” as part of your personal brand will win you recognition and ultimately, new contacts and business opportunities.

3) Make time management your best friend. People work hard in NY and the hours are long. You know that if you make a prospecting call at 6 or 7PM you have a good chance of finding that person in their office. We start early, end late and you must figure out your own time management scheme or you run the very real risk of burn-out.

Now, for the refrain…if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

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.

3 Easy Tips to Jumpstart Your Business

April 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, Networking, New York Sales Trainer, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

We all know that business development is a process whereby you plant seeds and nurture them and, at some point, you will start to see something blossom and recognize ROI on your business development efforts.

Some strategies take a long time to execute; others can be done much faster, and so for the impatient among you, here are 3 things that you can start to do immediately:

1. Start to prospect now. Be proactive. Don’t depend on the phone ringing and don’t expect that referrals will keep your pipeline as full as it needs to be. (Another good reason to prospect is that it helps you to keep your sales skills fine-tuned and sharp. Sorry, but living on referrals tends to make you a somewhat lazy business developer.)

2. Get “seriously” involved with social media and develop a social media plan of attack. (I don’t mean updating your Facebook and Linkedin status once per day.) I do mean learning how to use these tools to their best advantage, initiate and engage in conversations, utilize the “search” capabilities, showcase your firm and it’s capabilities, etc.

3. Reconnect with dormant accounts, follow-up consistently on all proposals and quotes and reach out to small, marginal accounts to cross-tell your other products and services. Sounds like common sense, right? It is but the sad truth is that many companies do not mine the gold in their existing account base. This should be started immediately.

There you go. The good news is that if you don’t have the resources to execute any of these 3 efforts there are resources out there that can do them for you.

You don’t have any excuse. Just do it.

Time to Have A Life

March 20, 2011 at 11:28 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, sales, small business | 2 Comments

Like lots of folks I work very hard, often putting in 12-15 hour days. I do my work with energy, enthusiasm and passion and I must admit that sometimes I even find it difficult to disconnect.

I also have a family. A book club group. A gym membership. A love of movies, travel, music, friends and photography and time to indulge in each.

Yep, I have a life.

So why is it when I am pecking away at my laptop on a Sunday or emailing at 10PM I am often “accused” of not having a life or of not having a good work-life “balance”.

For me, I feel totally in balance. I don’t whine and moan about the time at my computer, nor do I feel unhappy when I “check in” while on vacation.

Both of these facets of my life seem to work in sync and I don’t find myself engaged in one pursuit while wishing that I was doing something else. In combination they all serve to keep me energized and happy; removing one or some feels like there would be a void.

If anything I merely wish for more hours in the day to do more of what I am doing. I don’t wish for more hours to solely spend with my kids or at the gym or even on vacation, or more hours at my desk or in work pursuits. If possible I would want to divvy up those additional hours and spread them around. But we all get the same 24 hours, no more, no less. How you choose to use them is up to you.

It’s all fine thank you very much. This is my life.

Client Bullying

March 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, sales | 1 Comment

There’s been a lot of attention paid to the problem of bullying and, of course, most of the focus has been on children and teenagers.

We’ve heard the stories and experience outrage and bewilderment as to how and why this situation keeps occurring, and seemingly with more and more frequency. Parents and non-parents alike can feel the pain of the families going through this highly stressful experience.

But I’m going to address a different type of bullying. I don’t mean to compare them at all or imply that they are equal in the amount of pain and suffering that results from the bullying actions.

The bullying that I am referring to lies at the hands of “clients”.

Yes, client bullying.

It seems that this situation is also a bit more prevalent these days. The recession has caused pain, and clients are looking for ways to decrease their expenses and get the same services or products for less money.

They’re looking (or threatening to look) for the low cost provider, even when the client-service provider relationship has been good and the deliverables stellar.

And yes, they are asking, no demanding, that payment terms be extended.

This type of bullying wreaks havoc on small businesses, heck, most businesses who are trying to stay afloat themselves.

But when the client’s back is to the wall, they become the schoolyard bully and no amount of intervention really helps.

So, do you put up with it and potentially wind up losing money on the work that you execute? Or do you attempt to negotiate and find a middle ground AND if that doesn’t work, do you take your ball and exit the schoolyard leaving the bullies to find someone else to pick on.

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to do.

(Note: during the last 18-24 mos I have known many businesses knuckle under to the demands of the client bully. They are not happy BUT they have retained the business and some amount of positive cash flow.)

To Disconnect Or Not? An Entrepreneur Ruminates on Her Upcoming Vacation

March 7, 2011 at 9:39 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, holiday | 1 Comment

Ok then, I’m not going fishing but I am going on vacation and with that comes the giddy thoughts of languid days spent indulging in pursuits best suited for a warm weather break (sitting in a beach chair with a book and drink in hand, leisurely strolls down streets dotted with palm trees and eating long meals late at night with umbrella drinks at the ready). And wow, am I ready.

It’s been a particularly busy time and while I’m certainly not complaining…and who would after the dearth of new business last year….I’m happy for the break.

But here’s where it gets a bit complicated. My laptop stays in the office but my iPhone stays with me and pretty much everything that I need to do….make that “want to do” like checking email and staying on the grid, I can do with my phone.

Many folks like to totally disconnect when on their break but not me. I don’t feel burdened by checking in; in fact, doing so helps minimize my potential stress and anxiety about having to deal with the many hundreds or even thousands of emails that would await me if I did not keep up with them.

It’s all about options after all; what works for you might not work for another.

And so I’ll check in occasionally, deal with the few things that must be attended to right away, delete a lot of the “unnecessary” emails and spend the majority of the time in the pursuits described here.

What about you? Do you disconnect totally or, like me, tip toe into the work pool just a wee bit even when you are away?

Fast. Faster. Fastest.

March 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success | Leave a comment

How fast are you? No really, how fast are you?

3G. 4G. It’s all about fast. So…how fast are you?

And here’s why it matters. How fast you are might just determine if you get the business…or not!

It’s simple:

1. Return all calls and emails in a timely manner. Timely means different things to different people but in our hyper fast Internet age, same day response is strongly advised. (Within a few hours would be even better!)

2. Use your “away message” when you are unable to respond quickly. People make assumptions that you are either too busy or not interested in their business and they will go elsewhere.

3. Be proactive and if you know that you are going to go “off the grid” for an extended period of time reach out and tell your clients and prospects. By keeping them apprised you are demonstrating that they are important to you.

In this wired era it is impossible to be out of touch. Smartphones enable us to be just a call, text or email away and our clients and prospects expect it.

Of course you can, and should, disconnect at times. It’s important to carve out space and disengage but make certain to take the proper steps before you do so.

Unless You Can Sing Like B.B. King, Don’t Sing the Blues

February 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, meetings, Networking, New York Sales Trainer, small business | Leave a comment

I went to a networking event the other night and as you do at these types of events, I engaged in conversation with many of the attendees. Bad idea! It seemed as if every other person with whom I spoke was “singing the blues!”

“Sure, business is better now but with last year’s debacle, I don’t know if I’ll ever catch up”

“I don’t know why the paper says the recession is over because I’m not seeing too many improvements”

And so on. You get the idea. Singing the blues. To me. Not to one of their trusted advisors, not to a colleague but to me, a business person unknown to them and perhaps, a good referral source or, still better yet, a potential new client.

Despite my best efforts to turn these conversations around, many of the blues singers persisted and, of course, the conversations turned dreary. And of course I was thinking: would I wish to refer or do business with theses folks if, as they revealed, things were so bad?!

What does singing the blue accomplish? It’s nice to vent and share feelings and situations with folks with whom you have a business relationship. But strangers? Somehow I don’t think that’s such a smart idea.

So next time you find yourself singing the blues to persons unknown, get a grip and simply stop yourself before you create a negative first impression.

You know what they say: you don’t have a second chance to create a first impression.

Make certain that you create a good / positive one.

Hey Sales Reps: Is Your Closure Complex Being Compromised?

January 28, 2011 at 10:09 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, small business, The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success | Leave a comment

Yes, despite the fact that the economic downturn seems to be slowly turning around, companies are still gun-shy and seem slow to pull the trigger and say “yes” on proposed projects.

As salespeople we all know that we want, no need, to close new business. Anything less and we’re not happy.

So with that in mind, there are things that can be done to help lessen your prospect’s fear of closure.

1) Baby steps: Sometimes we ask our prospects to bite off more than they are comfortable with. We ask for full commitment before they are ready to commit. The solution to this is to “stage” your project and instead of asking the prospect to say “yes” to a very large and sometimes financially burdensome endeavor, you can start with just a small piece. Let them see you in action and get comfortable with what you can deliver. When they see your competencies and are comfortable with the deliverables, then you can close them on the larger program.
2) Money back guarantee: Okay, so I don’t really mean “all” of their money back but why not make them feel less exposed and offer them some sort of satisfaction clause. It doesn’t have to be money back, it could be additional hours or work put against their project. Whatever it is, it will make them feel more comfortable about saying yes.
3) The give-away: Yes, take the high road and give something for nothing. Can you provide a few extra hours of your time to ensure that your prospect will succeed with what are proposing? Can you offer an add-on or item that might cost you little yet has a high perceived value? Think creatively. Don’t we all appreciate “something for nothing”.

By taking a good look at some of these tactics you might be able to improve your close rate and have fewer prospects “stuck” in the sales pipeline. Give it a try.

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