You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello

March 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Posted in sales | Leave a comment
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You say goodbye and I say hello.

But here’s the thing, I’m not referring to the disconnect in our personal lives but rather the disconnect that can occur in our business relationships as well.

  • The client is pleased with the work you’re doing but you’re losing money for each hour that you work on the project.
  • You are attempting to do everything that the client asks but somehow no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to meet their demands.
  • The client is convinced that you are overcharging them despite the fact that you have kept them apprised of the hours accrued and dollars spent every step of the way.

You say goodbye and I say hello. It all boils down to simple communication. Or as it seems to be in many situations, not so simple communication.

In my almost 25 years in business I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to communicating. Everyone seems to agree that it’s critical to be on point in all business situations but just how to do so can be a bit elusive.

Here are a few things that you can do:

  • Document everything. Seems simple doesn’t it but how many times has there been no email trail to fall back upon when a miscommunication arises.
  • Attempt to make everything clear and concise right from the beginning. If you start with ambiguity it will only get more confusing with time.
  • Don’t let matters fester. If you feel that there is a disconnect address it immediately before it gets blown out of proportion.
  • Kiss…yup “keep it simple stupid.” Don’t make things unnecessarily complicated.
  • Agree to disagree but also agree to try and work it out if and when a problem arises.

Keeping these few rules in mind will help to ensure better communication and more smooth business relationships.

Remember, we can work it out.

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You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello

March 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Posted in sales | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

You say goodbye and I say hello.

But here’s the thing, I’m not referring to the disconnect in our personal lives but rather the disconnect that can occur in our business relationships as well.

  • The client is pleased with the work you’re doing but you’re losing money for each hour that you work on the project.
  • You are attempting to do everything that the client asks but somehow no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to meet their demands.
  • The client is convinced that you are overcharging them despite the fact that you have kept them apprised of the hours accrued and dollars spent every step of the way.

You say goodbye and I say hello. It all boils down to simple communication. Or as it seems to be in many situations, not so simple communication.

In my almost 25 years in business I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to communicating. Everyone seems to agree that it’s critical to be on point in all business situations but just how to do so can be a bit elusive.

Here are a few things that you can do:

  • Document everything. Seems simple doesn’t it but how many times has there been no email trail to fall back upon when a miscommunication arises.
  • Attempt to make everything clear and concise right from the beginning. If you start with ambiguity it will only get more confusing with time.
  • Don’t let matters fester. If you feel that there is a disconnect address it immediately before it gets blown out of proportion.
  • Kiss…yup “keep it simple stupid.” Don’t make things unnecessarily complicated.
  • Agree to disagree but also agree to try and work it out if and when a problem arises.

Keeping these few rules in mind will help to ensure better communication and more smooth business relationships.

Remember, we can work it out.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

February 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Posted in sales | Leave a comment
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oHit Me With Your Best Shot

We’ve all had some sort of experience that bears resemblance to what I’m saying here:

  • You’re doing some prospecting and have gotten into the rut of thinking that every phone call is going to end in voice mail. You go on auto pilot and then oh no, the prospect answers their phone. Yu’re not really prepared and fumble through your intro losing their attention and your confidence as they politely disengage.
  • Your phone rings and you answer while looking at the computer screen and not really paying attention, only to find out that the caller is someone that you’ve been trying to reach forever.
  • You have a new business pitch and don’t have the time to prepare and practice.
  • Your new hires are handling inquiries but aren’t trained well enough to do it effectively.
  • Your social media campaign has gotten the phone to ring but alas, you don’t know what to do with the inquiries

And on and on…the examples are plentiful.

Hit me with your best shot because sometimes that’s your only shot.

Practice make perfect or almost perfect anyway. Don’t begin to think about pitching a new client or reaching out to a long desired prospect without being prepared to handle every aspect of the communication.

Train your staff. Who is the first impressionist on your team?  Are they trained and skilled to do the job? Do you pay them enough?!

Don’t be foolish enough to engage in any lead generating tactics without being 100% certain that you know what to do with the leads.

Remember that there is no ROI from any of your marketing endeavors if you don’t plan in advance. Now, hit me with your best shot.

How To Be Persistent (Without Feeling Like a Stalker)

November 23, 2011 at 9:25 am | Posted in sales, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Being persistent is a good thing right?

Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth and the list goes on and on of people that kept working at something until they achieved success.  So we agree…persistence is an important and positive quality!

But it’s also important to recognize that being persistent will often be received /perceived quite negatively and what you assume is a success tactic can be viewed as merely bothersome.

So, how might we make certain to not alienate our prospects by our (positive) persistence:

  • Remember that although it is extremely important for you to make contact with your prospect it just might not be that important for them! Timing is everything and your attempts might be coming to them at an extremely bad time when they have other, more mission critical events taking place. (Mellow out!)
  • Are you remembering to “add value” to the relationship even before there is a relationship?! “Checking in” and touching base” in  your attempts to get through are usually perceived by prospects as a waste of their time and ultimately self-serving. Rather than approaching your prospects in this manner, endeavor to use the three I’s (information, invitations and introductions) when attempting to get in touch. You’ll be amazed at how much more responsive your prospects will be if they see that there is “something in it for them.” (Call me if you want more details on the 3 I’s.)
  • Try to find out to which means of communication your prospect is most responsive. Phone? Email? Text? For example, don’t waste your time calling someone if they are totally phone adverse and respond most readily to text or email.
  • Lastly…always use the phrase “I hope you can appreciate my persistence.”  This statement positions your positive follow-up (yes, persistence)  in a very positive light and helps to ensure that you don’t sound apologetic or belligerent.

Any questions?  Call me and I’ll be happy to give you some more tips on how to be effective with your continued and ongoing follow-ups.

How to Divorce Your Client in 5 Easy Steps

November 20, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Posted in sales | Leave a comment
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Breaking Up Is Hard To DO!

You know the signs.  You’re not getting along anymore; you seem to be on different pages and can never agree. Your relationship is bordering on hostile and you don’t seem to be making each other happy anymore.  The relationship keeps getting worse and there appears to be no other solution…it’s time to get divorced.

Yes, just like in marriage the good times with a client can come to an end. And just like in marriage, it doesn’t make sense to prolong the negative.  Here’s how you can experience a business divorce and emerge relatively unscathed:

  • Make certain that you’ve explored every possible option before making the irrevocable decision to divorce. Don’t be hasty. You never know; you just might be able to turn things around. Remember how long it takes to win a new client; is this “really” the time to set this one free?
  • Don’t leave your client in the lurch. Once you’ve told them about the impending breakup ask them if they’d like your assistance in locating another resource who can provide them with the products / services that they need.
  • (Using a well-worn cliché here), don’t burn your bridges. Refrain from speaking poorly of the client and / or the current situation in which you find yourself. You never know when your paths might cross again.
  • Be ready to move forward and learn from the situation that has just ended. Think about what went wrong and how the problems might have been avoided. Don’t fall into the same situation again.
  • Think positively of yourself. It takes a certain degree of confidence and courage to divorce a client. Many businesses will accept a dismal and less than satisfying relationship with a client even to the point when it is destructive to employee morale and profitability. Regardless of the negativity they find themselves unable to walk away.

One last point, make certain that you’ve taken the steps to fill the void that is left when you end the relationship. You don’t want to hold onto something that is bad but you want to be certain to be able to win new business in an effective and expedient manner. Your success depends upon it!

No Reply

November 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As we head towards the end of 2011 I’ve been starting to review my sales results for the year, the clients that I’ve won, the ones that I have lost and the prospects that are in limbo.  It’s this last category “limbo” that causes me quite a bit of angst because I simply don’t understand why it has to be.

Let me clarify.

My prospects that are in limbo (aka unresponsive) are folks that I have met with and at the conclusion of the meeting asked me to submit a proposal for services. (Key into those all-important words please…they asked me to submit a written proposal as a follow-up to the meeting).

Now before I go on please understand that I am particularly rigorous in my “screening and qualifying” of potential clients. I want to make certain that there is a good fit between the services that I provide and the requirements that they have. I’ve been known to turn down a Request for Proposal. I don’t think that it is worth anyone’s time to propose something that you know you can’t do well.

And maybe that’s why I am particularly flummoxed by the prospects in my sales funnel that are MIA.

Of course I’ve attempted to follow-up and have used all sorts of methods to get back in touch. My voice mail messages are compelling, my emails well-positioned and still, nothing.

Why is that?

  • Are these folks feeling shy because they asked for a proposal for services but knew they didn’t have the budget? (I always inquire about budget before submitting a plan.)
  • Did they suddenly lose their decision-making power or did they fool me all along into thinking that they had that responsibility?
  • Are they particularly adverse to any sort of confrontation and do they perhaps think that by rejecting the proposal they might prompt a hostile response from me?

It seems that falling off the prospect grid happens a bit more often now even when I pay scrupulous attention to making certain that the proposals are truly desired.

And it’s not just me. I’m hearing this from more and more of my business colleagues and from my own clients as well.

Yes, there seems to be an increase in “no reply” and all we salespeople can do is just keep trying.

So remember that you can’t lose what you don’t have. Be persistent in your follow-up and don’t automatically “assume” that the prospect isn’t interested.

No reply isn’t no. You deserve an answer.

No Reply!

Do You Believe in Magic (aka best practices on how to NOT win more new business)

October 31, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Posted in sales | Leave a comment
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Do you believe in magic?

These last few months of 2011 are extremely important not only to scoop up every last remaining piece of business but to also lay the groundwork for 2012.  There’s lots of work to be done, magic be damned. Elves and fairies have nothing to do with it…or do they? What are YOU doing to develop the kind of revenue stream that you want? (Wishing, waiting and hoping do not count as strategies.)

Okay, now that we know that wishing on a star doesn’t mean a thing, let’s take a close look at the actions that can make a difference:

Action 1:  Go through your database with a fine toothcomb and pay critical attention to dormant accounts and proposals that were never won. Can companies in these two categories be resurrected? And what about your existing accounts? Are you getting ALL of their business or are you leaving some of their business on the table? If you are then consider yourself open and vulnerable to the competition because you can be sure they will try to come in and snatch up your share of the work as well.

Action 2:  Are you engaging in “strategic” networking or are you simply attending as many events as you can. This quantity vs. quality approach will ultimately cost you valuable time and henceforth money and can you really afford to waste either?  (I thought not.) Develop a strategic networking plan paying careful attention to the events and groups that you visit and join. Remember that “6 degrees of separation” is an important networking mantra. One or two good “people connectors” can be vastly important in your business development efforts since they can “lead” you to an infinite number of contacts and connections that may ultimately turn into business.

Action 3:  Now that you’re re-engaging with select prospects and clients in your database and are networking with care, you MUST develop an effective “touch point management” system. Business development is like a garden. You plant seeds but then you must nurture them in order to have anything grow. It’s the same with business development. Unless you are engaged in a highly transactional business, generating clients takes time.  And you MUST stay on the radar screen of everyone that you deem “worthy” whether they are a potential client or even an influential referral source. (Utilize the three I’s for the best results!)

Action 4:  Throw pennies into a fountain. Okay, not really but if you are not doing all of the above, you just might believe in magic and you never know, maybe those pennies might be just the ticket to sales success.

3 Tips to Make Your Marketing (More) Effective

October 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Posted in sales, Sales Training, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Great Brand?  Check!

Awesome website?  Check!

Robust involvement with social media?  Check!

Marketing initiatives galore?  Check!

Yep, sometimes you have it “all” covered but don’t seem to be opening enough doors and winning enough new business. What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, there’s everything wrong if you’re not paying equal attention to your sales process, pipeline management and persuasive selling skills.

Yes, these 3 P’s are critical for your sales success.

Process:  What are you doing with the leads that are generated by your marketing efforts? Are you following up with them in a timely manner and do you have your sales team ready for action? (And if your sales team is..well..just you, are YOU ready to get into the ring and start selling?) A structured sales process can mean the difference between success and failure and getting ROI from your marketing efforts or not. Take the time to develop or refine your process BEFORE you start marketing. If you market first you just might not be ready to handle the inquiries, or to proactively reach out and connect with segments of non-responders.

Pipeline Management:  Unless you are involved in a very transactional business, most leads need to be nurtured and your sales cycle can be months and even years. You must keep your sales pipeline filled with leads that are in various stages of being “worked.” A skimpy pipeline means that at some point in the future you might not have enough active business to keep you afloat. Look at your pipeline on a monthly basis and if you see that the volume of prospects is skimpy, make certain to get proactive and start to prospect for new business.  And, most important, don’t allow your existing prospects to forget about you. Practice exquisite touch point management (connect with me and I’ll share the “3 I’s,” a strategy that works every time!) so that you stay on the grid.

Persuasive Selling Skills: Are your sales competencies as sharp as they need to be?  Are you confident that you and/or your team are skilled in presenting value and benefits, effective probing, overcoming objections, closing…and more? If you have even a smidgen of a doubt then I highly suggest that you make the effort to refresh or enhance those skills so that you are certain to get a return on your marketing investment.

A great brand and marketing program are just the beginning. It’s important to know how to execute on the marketing strategy. Do it ineffectively and your marketing is for naught.

The Importance of Selling

September 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Posted in sales, Sales Training | 3 Comments
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I never thought that it would get to this.

No, I never thought that I would be propelled to write a post about the importance of selling.

After all, it’s pretty obvious, right? If you’re in business, if you have a trade or a profession you must try to win new customers and retain and grow your existing ones.

Simple.  You…sell.

Fact: you shouldn’t develop a groovy new logo, create a brochure, procure some promotional items or dive deep into social media without thinking about your ultimate goal, the acquisition of new business.

And regardless of whether you have a transactional type of business or one that is very consultative, the desired end result is the same: increased business.

So before you march into the land of marketing make certain that you have:

  • Established a well-oiled sales process
  • Created your follow-up and touch point management program (for long-term ROI on the marketing initiatives)
  • Fine-tuned your sales strategies and techniques

Marketing is great but it’s not a stand-alone. It must be tightly integrated with your sales efforts and if it isn’t, all of your marketing efforts will simply cost you time, money and momentum.

Why Social Media is Ruining Your Business

August 25, 2011 at 11:15 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales | 8 Comments
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I love social media and have a solid appreciation for all of the marvelous things that it does for our businesses including the following:

  • Helps to build awareness of our company and brand
  • Creates visibility and can generate and register attendees for events
  • Provides a (free!) tool for the gathering of business/marketing intelligence
  • Offers access to prospects and reconnection with dormant accounts

And yes more.

But, can social media do it ALL and by all, I mean bring in business. Now lots of you are shaking your heads and thinking that I am a bit nuts for even thinking that there are companies out there that believe that social media can save the day in their acquisition of new clients.  But here’s the truth…I am saying this because I hear it and see it each and every day as I go about meeting new prospects, working with clients and speaking with business people at networking events.

Business people are doing their status updates, scrolling through the news feed, engaging in “conversations” with Linkedin contacts and are actually neglecting things like picking up the phone and calling, yes calling, prospects and dormant accounts alike. Rather, they’re using social media and email (hey, it’s fast and convenient, right?) and forgetting the personal touch points that really do matter.

People like to buy, they don’t like to be sold and they like to buy when they have a relationship built on trust and respect. Social media can help lay the foundation but that’s all.

At the end, social media is part of an INTEGRATED marketing plan. It doesn’t stand-alone, it won’t save the day and it won’t close business. That’s sales. You close sales and unless you’re an internet business with no brick and mortar and not a human to be seen on the org chart, then you need to take a look at your marketing and sales programs for the remainder of 2011 and make sure they’re positioned correctly to bring in the business you want.

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