How to Make the Sale After Your Fling With Social Media

June 23, 2011 at 7:29 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Marketing, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, social media | 1 Comment
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We are all aware that social media plays a huge role in our current sales and marketing landscape. Creating visibility, softening the market, starting and/or maintaining a dialogue with customers and prospects alike, well, I think we can all agree that’s it’s a pretty terrific tool.

But…and this is a VERY big but, if you have anything other than an internet based business you had better become reacquainted with the importance of old-fashioned sales skills, the kind that existed well before Mark Zuckerberg made his mark or Linkedin became the darling of business prospectors.

Yes for most businesses it is people that woo, wow and win clients and if you forget that fact and get lost in the land of facebook, linkedin and twitter, you might find yourself with less business that you might have had if only you had deployed sales best practices.

–Make sure that you know the value and improvements that your business provides to customers so that you can present these benefits concisely and coherently when engaged in your business prospecting efforts.  To that end, embrace your points of differentiation but be sure that what makes you different is truly what your prospects “want” and need.

–Understand the critical importance of effective probing and seek to uncover everything that you possibly can about your prospects and clients. Asking questions helps to gain rapport and is always more insightful than simply checking their status update.

–Be prepared for pushback and hesitancies. This is always true but especially so during our current economic situation. People are nervous and conservative and it takes extra sales ability to help them to pull the trigger and say “yes”.

–While ABC (always be closing) is a cliché, it is certainly important to be proactive when leading your prospect to a “next step” for that is what closing is, simply a next steps scenario of which both you and your prospects are aware

–Don’t lean on technology instead of the “personal” touch.  Make it a point to reach out and call your prospects and customers on a regular basis. Too overwhelmed and busy to make the calls? Break them up into very small allotments. You CAN make 1-3 calls per day, can’t you?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to underestimate the power of social media. As the owner of a small business, I thrill at the fact that, to a certain extent, it has leveled the marketing playing field. But people do business with people and when companies forget that fact, all the social media in the world won’t save the day.

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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.

Beware of Marketing That Doesn’t Deliver

May 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Posted in Marketing, sales, small business | 1 Comment

These are tough times. Sure they’re saying that the worst of the recession is behind us but really, does ANYONE have a client that isn’t more concerned about cost, more conservative, slower to pull the trigger than the were pre 2008. Does anyone have their hands up? Not me.

My prospects and clients have emerged from being “frozen” and that’s terrific but still, they are extra cautious about every penny spent on marketing and sales initiatives.

As for me, I keep telling them that an integrated approach is probably best, that if they deploy best practices in marketing, branding, PR, social media AND sales techniques that it will all work out just fine.

But some of them have been burned. Their social media campaign opened doors but did not close business. Their new brand got them increased recognition but again, signed, sealed and delivered business did not ensue. And you know that new website. Looks great and is optimized just right and the inquiries are increasing. But once again, the volume of business that was expected…no counted on…did not materialize.

Why? Well, a few things for starters.

A well-defined sales strategy was never created and sales processes, well, they were non existent too. As for sales competencies, they hadn’t been refreshed or enhanced in some years with sales reps remaining in a comfort zone of mediocrity.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer in the power of brand, marketing, PR, advertising and social media. But I also know that if these efforts are not integrated with exquisite selling operations then they will not bring in the optimum ROI and ultimately, we will fail our clients.

Curiouser and Curiouser

April 4, 2011 at 8:35 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Marketing, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business, The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success | Leave a comment

Curiouser and curiouser. So said Alice when she started to change shape. Yes, strange things can happen when you least expect them. But is that how you want to ensure your success…getting business when you least expect it?

One of the big issues these days seems to be the overall uncertainty about the flow of new business. Peaks and valleys can seriously impact work flow and profitability and sales reps must be mindful of the following action steps to minimize the situation.

1. Make certain that you are doing enough prospecting and that your sales pipeline is as full “as it needs to be”. Everyone has a different “close rate” and depending on what you project will come through as new business helps you to determine just how many prospects need to be in your pipeline at the same time.

2. Ask questions. Be curious! If you ask the right questions prospects will tell you what they want, when they want it and what they will pay for it. Don’t be afraid to initiate a dialogue. Uncovering exactly what a prospect WANTS can help you to close the sale.

3. If you’re not opening new accounts be certain to ask yourself if you are fishing for prospects in the correct / best pond. Do your prospects perceive your offer to be of value? Is your product or service priced appropriately?

And finally, are you patient, persistent and persuasive? If you can’t answer “yes” to each one of these qualities then you are probably leaving business behind.

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!

Hit the Ground Running: 3 Things to Do Starting January 3rd

December 24, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, Marketing, Networking, New York Sales Trainer, sales | Leave a comment

The countdown to the end of the year is winding up and soon we will be welcoming 2011. While flipping over to a new page in the calendar isn’t anything more than, well, flipping over to a new page in the calendar, we all know that somehow, it seems like a new beginning.

So with the idea that we’ve been given a clean slate and new start, here are three things that you should do to hit the ground running and ramp up business as fast as possible:

–Commit to connecting with no fewer than 10 prospects each day. Use phone, email, snail mail, text or any combination but make it a habit to do prospect outreach every day. And, if the day gets away from you because of other commitments, be certain to make up the contacts on the next day. By end of week you should have “touched” 50 prospects. (This doesn’t include existing clients.)

–Build a strategic networking plan. Look at your current networking activities and develop a plan that will better maximize the return that you get from time spent in networking initiatives. This might include scheduling more one-on-one meetings, being more proactive in asking for introductions, searching out new groups that are more aligned with your business and networking styles, etc. And yes, although this will be perceived as a blatant self-promotion, I encourage you to check out Adrian’s Network (www.adriansnetwork.com)

Explore the site, try it for free and see if this innovative and exciting community of networkers is something that you’d like to join.

–Make January the time to look closely at your marketing efforts. Is it time to update that website? How about social media? Are you really using it to your best advantage and could you be doing more? The last few years have been tough for many businesses and with the weak economy and resulting decrease in revenues, many business owners put their sales, advertising and marketing initiatives on hold. But you can do that for only so long. Cast a critical eye on what you have and look at some cost-effective enhancements that can be implemented quickly.

Lastly, make sure that your sales engine is tuned up and ready to go. If you think a tune-up is needed, do it now before you waste too much time and lose potential business.

No more excuses, no more inertia, no more fear. Make a plan, work your plan and believe that 2011 will be a good year.

Holiday Cards: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

December 17, 2010 at 9:28 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, holiday, Marketing, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment
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Please don’t call me a grinch but I am really starting to have negative thoughts about the holiday cards that I have received that are nicely engraved with the company name, and sometimes even the sender’s name, but have absolutely no personalization at all.

I mean not even a signature and, of course, the card comes in an envelope that has a computer-generated address label affixed to it.

The sentiments included in the cards are always lovely. Peace and happiness, health and joy but sad to say, they leave me cold.

It’s pretty apparent to me that my name has appeared on some impersonal mass database and hence I have received the card.

Do I know the people that have sent me these cards? Sometimes I do (and that feels even worse) and, of course, sometimes I have absolutely no idea with the sender is.

But in all cases the printed message in the card runs counter to its impersonal presentation.

My suggestion: send fewer cards and take the time to sign them and perhaps, in some special cases. include a brief personal message. (And I do mean sign them by hand, not a computer generate signature!)

No time for that you say. Start the process earlier in the season; heck, start now for next year. Perhaps you should whittle down your list altogether. Maybe the folks that get the
“generic” card shouldn’t get a card at all, especially if it looks as if there was no thought behind it.

I preach the importance of “touch points” and staying on the grid of your clients, prospects, networking connections and referral sources but you must make certain that you are staying on the grid in a way that supports your brand and what you stand for.

And really, do you stand for something that is cold and impersonal? If so, bring it on. There are boxes of unsigned cards waiting for their address labels.

I Hate to Say It But I’m Burned Out On Networking

December 1, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, Marketing, Networking, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

Oh, not me…I’m not burned out. I’ve taken my own advice and have emerged on the other side of burned out and now find myself in a comfortable and frankly, beneficial networking “space”.

So, how can YOU stave off the burnout that seems to really ratchet up this time of year:

1. Recognize that not every group or event is right for you. Pick and chose carefully. It’s not quantity; it’s the quality of the activities in which you are immersed. And while we’re on the topic make certain that you are networking in places where you’ll find your prospects OR excellent referral sources. If they’re not there, why should you be wasting your time?

2. Give it your best shot but be prepared to move on. What do I mean? Well, once you join a group it’s in your best interest to get as involved as possible. Attend meetings, initiate one-on-ones with individual members; in essence, work it to the best of your abilities. But if nothing happens and by that I mean there are no leads, contacts, connections or anything at all that can be construed as a benefit to your business existence, then cut bait and leave when your membership period has ended.

3. Be attentive and proactive with all of your introductions but if someone doesn’t reply after several attempts by email and phone you should move on. The exception to this “rule” is if/when you know that there is a tremendous amount of potential to be realized and you intend to use dogged persistence to make contact. But…if this is a networking introduction and they are still not getting back to you I might surmise that the potential is just not going to be realized.

4. Start a group. That’s the best way to ensure that you are surrounded by highly referable and good networkers!

5. Not enough reciprocity for ya? Sometimes you have to truly reach out and ask for those introductions that were promised to you. You might hate to that but in the networking world there are some people that don’t remember that introductions should be reciprocal. Be proactive. Sometimes the other person doesn’t even realize that you’d like to meet some their contacts too.

Networking is time consuming and takes consistency and fortitude. Burnout can easily occur but if you follow these steps you’ll be better able to keep burnout at bay.

Countdown to Year End

November 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, Marketing, Networking, sales, small business | Leave a comment

November 1st. Gulp. Two more months to make certain that this year is not a complete disaster. Sure, things are looking up; prospects are more plentiful and some, bless their hearts, are even saying “yes”. This improvement doesn’t mean any sort of slackening off of activity; rather, it means that if I just increase the pace a tad I might even reach the numbers that I want, despite the monstrous economic situation in 2010.

How about you? You know that these last few months are incredibly important. In November you can scoop up the last of your projects for 2010; most clients are loathe to launch anything in December. December is prep month when you develop your plans for 2011 and plant the seeds for what you intend to grow in the upcoming months.

Ask yourself:

* Who is my target market and do I want more of the same or do I want to go after different prospects? If so, why? What research have I done that indicates that this new segment is a viable market for my products or services?

* Is this the year that I will ramp up my outreach tactics, refresh my website, jump in and leverage social media…or…will I continue to do things exactly the same? And if I don’t make any changes, why do I expect things to improve?

* What parts of my business need improvement? Can I do this on my own or do I need assistance? (Have I been trying to accomplish change on my own for quite sometime and what has been the result/s?)

This IS the time to jump in and set the wheels in motion. No one can or will do it for you. Say it—this IS the time.
Now do it.

Mad Men & Sterling Cooper Better Get Some New Biz

October 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, Marketing, sales, Sales Training, small business, Sterling Cooper | Leave a comment

Sterling Cooper is in a tough bind. Their largest client just dumped them for a new agency and prospects are scared to engage them for fear that they’re going to close their doors and leave them in the lurch.

Whether you’re a Mad Men devotee or have yet to catch an episode, the last few shows have been especially relevant, and perhaps even more so in these (still) horribly difficult economic times.

Winning new business? Ouch. It’s a long and difficult task fraught with pitfalls and perils even if there is no word on the street that you just might go under.

So what lessons can we learn from Don Draper and the gang at Mad Men:

* Don’t be caught with all of your eggs in one basket.
A cliche for sure but when a significant percentage of your revenue is tied up in just one client you can get into deep trouble if they decide to pull some, or horrors, all of their business. Make certain that you keep current on how much of your business belongs to just one company. Sometimes the number creeps up and before you know it almost everything you earn is controlled by just one key player.

* Don’t ever take your clients for granted.
Now I know that seems a bit self-evident but clients are a very sensitive lot. They want to feel important and recognized and sometimes after years of “owning” a piece of business, the day-to-day conversations and attention to detail start to slip. Even if the slip is small, clients may start to get nervous or unhappy or both, and that’s when they may start to shop the competition. (Remember that Roger seemed to take Lucky Strike for granted. After all, they had the account for so many years!)

* Don’t specialize to the point where a shake-up in the industry itself can cause your demise.
Was all of your business in dot.coms? Mmmm, chances are you felt it when the bubble burst. How about real estate? Feeling the pinch now, are you? Cigarettes? Hah, we know what happened to the folks that “only” did cigarette advertising. It’s pretty simple. Make sure you have a mix of clients even if, yes, your focus is predominantly in one specific industry.

* Be ready if you have to go to the bank.
Sometimes things get really hairy (high-level economic term) and you may need an influx of cash to keep yourself afloat. The folks at Sterling Cooper have asked the partners to pitch in with some cash to help them keep afloat for at least 6 months. While it is particularly difficult getting financing these days you should always have some sort of back-up plan as to how you can keep your doors open if you fall on hard times. Where will you get the funding and how long will it last? I know solopreneurs that have tapped into their savings or retirement plans. Some took a cash advance from their credit cards. I don’t know the right answer or even the best way but I do know that you NEVER KNOW when the ax will fall. Being prepared can help.

So lets say thank you to Don Draper and friends for making us think about our clients, how our business is segmented and what we need to do to keep our existing clients happy and earn new ones on a regular basis.

At this juncture on Mad Men they’d all be pouring a drink. Cheers.

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