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.

3 Ways to Make Certain That Your Business Prospecting Fails

May 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, Sales Training, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As a New York based sales trainer I get to see the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to business prospecting. Yes, there are some things that can absolutely ensure that your business prospecting will yield no positive results so read on to find out if you are guilty of these all-too-common prospecting errors.

I tried ‘em once or twice and if they’re interested, they’ll get back to me.

Sure they will because they’re just sitting around and waiting for your call. Prospects are busy and even if they need, no want, what it is you have to offer, they still may not jump to it and return your call in record time. Persistence rules and if you leave compelling voice mail messages (short, to the point but with a benefits statement), pay attention to the time of your call and probe for “influencers” within the prospect’s firm that can potentially help your cause, you have a better chance of EVER making contact with your prospect. Making contact on your first or second try is luck and what is required is skill…and persistence.

I don’t need any sort of script; I know what I want to say and I can just wing it.

During the prospecting dance you have an incredibly short amount of time to win the attention and interest of your prospect. Your words need to be compelling and you can’t waste seconds with extraneous verbiage. You also need to have insightful probes and persuasive rebuttals in your bag of tricks and be armed and ready to use them when necessary. It’s best to have key phrases and questions and objection responses already prepared and at your disposal so that “brain freeze” does not put you off your game. Remember, a script is a road map that helps you to traverse the landscape of the call. It gets you from Point A to Point B in the most efficient and expedient manner. Why WOULDN’T you have one prepared? (Note: having a script or call guide does not mean that you must sound as if you are reading. All it means is that you must practice BEFORE diving into your calls!)

I don’t need to do any prospecting; I get all of my business through referrals.

That’s awesome. No really. It’s totally terrific to be able to count on consistent referrals to make your business grow. But there are a couple of potential problems. What if your referral sources dry up or change allegiances (i.e. their wife, husband, best friend etc. enter into your business category and now their referrals need to go to them; they get laid off or retire, etc. etc. You know—stuff happens). What if you become “needy” and must become more proactive and reach out to prospects but your prospecting skills have become totally soft from lack of use? What if you continue to get referrals but they just aren’t plentiful enough? The point is that it is critically important for everyone that is involved in sales to be able to generate their own leads and appointments through the use of effective business prospecting. Referrals rock but you need to be able to deploy effective telephone prospecting, value-added emails, direct mail and more if you really want to stay on top of your prospecting game.

So there ya have it. Of course there are more ways and reasons to ensure business development failure but we’ll stick with just these three for now. Do any of them sound / feel familiar? I hope not.

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.

No One Ever Got Fired For Hiring (Fill in Name Brand Company)

May 17, 2011 at 7:52 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, Sales Training, The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success | Leave a comment

We all know the cliché: no one ever got fired for hiring IBM. Or AT&T. Or Google.

This all too common practice of hiring the “big dog on the porch” is a relatively safe one. You select the biggest and most well known entity and the responsibility (blame!) for any sort of screw up can’t be laid upon your shoulders. Whew. What a relief.

And so masses of business people hire resources and companies and employ this underlying selection criteria (make the safe choice and don’t risk your job/status/reputation by picking the less well known (albeit highly credible) resource…yes, play it safe!).

And yes, full disclosure right here: I am hardly the “big dog on the porch” yet for 24 years my firm has been providing clients with high quality, cost-effective, results-driven training and consulting. But our history of success and extensive testimonials from satisfied clients didn’t mean much this past week when I lost a piece of business because as the firm stated, they “felt more comfortable” going with the name brand. And although the selected organization provides a fine work product it will be a generic off the shelf solution that will not address this client’s unique situation as detailed to me in their initial discussions. I guarantee it.

I do understand that my small firm does not have the bandwidth for some projects but this wasn’t one of them. This was a program that I would have nailed perfectly.

But in the end it didn’t much matter and so the hunt for new business continues. Let the little dog prevail.

The Great Big Social Media Party…Or, How I Lost My Way in the Land of Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter

May 9, 2011 at 10:30 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, Sales Training | 4 Comments
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Now, don’t get me wrong. I like social media with the best of them, appreciate it’s power and reach and can certainly see how and why it should play an important and integral role in a organization’s marketing and sales endeavors.

I mean, social media is good, right? It has leveled the playing field for small businesses and helps build visibility and credibility at little or no cost. All that can’t be bad.

But here’s where things begin to go a bit awry.

The small to mid-sized firms that are deploying social media with amazing zeal and enthusiasm are doing so with one major—and ultimate—goal in mind. They want, no need, this new found visibility and credibility to lead to NEW BUSINESS. Nothing else will do.

And this is exactly where I believe that many of them might be sorely disappointed.
You see increased visibility and credibility are awesome but they don’t…close…business. Repeat after me, they don’t close business. People do.

Prospects can get wooed into your sales world but then a carefully deployed process must ensue. What’s required? Well, screening and qualifying, presenting value, probing for wants and needs and ultimately leading that prospect to see you and your business as a solution, an improvement, to their situation. Specific steps that DO lead to that ultimate goal of new business.

Social media doesn’t do any of that. Even social media “conversations.”

Then why is it that so many companies are positively gleeful when jumping into the social media swimming pool? I’ll tell you why. It’s because they believe that social media is going to turn their business around. And it’s going to do it all by itself. And sure it can open the floodgates to new prospects and opportunities but unless there are sales reps that are adept at taking prospects through the buying process and internal processes in place to manage the relationships, well, social media isn’t going to yield the desired long-term results.

So jump in and add social media to your marketing mix. But don’t forget about sales processes, follow-up and follow-through and good old-fashioned customer service to turn the fun and games into revenue.

3 Ways to Make Certain Your Clients Love You Tomorrow

April 25, 2011 at 7:14 am | Posted in Customer Service, sales, Sales Training | 14 Comments

Listen up. You don’t want to be a one-project stand. You have to take certain steps to make sure that your clients will love you tomorrow. Really. You can’t take this for granted so pay attention and put these to work now:

Go over and beyond what they expect.
Meeting client expectations is really a big so-what. Maybe that was good enough once upon a time and maybe it is still good enough if you have absolutely no competition (and who occupies that rarified space) but for the rest of us, exceeding client expectations is the best way to ensure that you will retain your client’s business for the long haul.

Don’t nickel and dime them to death.
I don’t know about you but I loathe getting invoices that have all sorts of add-ons tacked on almost as an afterthought. You know what; it’s better to take the high road and perhaps absorb some of those fees, or perhaps add them into the base price or hourly rate, rather than risk leaving a very nasty impression.

Be proactive.
We keep hearing that clients are no longer loyal, that they’ll change “vendors” to save miniscule amounts of money. The solution? Don’t be a vendor! Vendors can be easily disposed of but business resources, well, not so easily. And what make a business resource valuable? Well, being proactive, being ahead of the situation, the challenge, the problem and being ready with a solution or options. Yep. Business resources are not so disposable.

So there you have it. Simple ways for you to avoid being part of a bad break-up. Will you still love me tomorrow?

Your Personal Sales Prospecting System and the Importance of Routine

April 15, 2011 at 10:48 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, Sales Training | Leave a comment
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Most of us have routines. We get up at the same time each workday, follow a regular pattern of shower, coffee, morning news and then our commute, with little deviation day by day.

How about at the gym? We work through a series of exercises and maybe machines, methodically working each muscle group. There’s very little in the way of thought process; we just “know” what comes next.

And while being routinized 24/7 can be mind-numbing, there’s something to be said with knowing what you have to do, when you have to do it and how to execute it in order to experience the desired outcomes.

And that’s the way it should be with sales prospecting as well. You shouldn’t be in the position of “reinventing the wheel” every time you engage in prospecting. I’ll go one step further – prospecting should be part and parcel of your “ongoing” business development efforts, not just a stop-gap measure to implement when sales dip down.

Yes, make sales prospecting part of your routine. It doesn’t have to be a daily endeavor but you do have to know the following:

–How many contacts do you need in your sales pipeline in order to win the volume of business that you need/want? (What is your “close” rate?)
–What is your sales cycle (average length of time from the start of the sales dialogue to booking the business)?
–How will you prospect (by phone, in-person canvassing, email, direct mail)? The mode will determine timing, follow-up, etc.

If you know these statistics you’ll be better able to plan (routinize) the scope of prospecting effort that is required to meet your sales revenue goals.

So take the time to develop your plan and then make it a routine, something that you don’t need to think about and reflect on.

Get into a “just do it” mindset and just like exercising and showering it will become part of your “regular” activities.

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.

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.

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.

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