The More, the Merrier…Not!

May 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Networking | Leave a comment
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It seems that in the world of business networking, the more the merrier seems to be the mantra of the day.

Sure I get it but I don’t believe it. I know that the thinking is:

The more people at an event the more you are likely to meet someone that might be a good connection and vice versa.

But really, does that bear fruit? Think about it. Sure hanging out at a bar or restaurant drink in one hand, business cards in the other can make for a good time. And yes, you can certainly meet people. But unless there is substantive follow-up so that a relationship and trust can be built, nothing further will happen. And many people, even those that fancy themselves to be excellent networkers don’t really take the time to engage in the necessary follow-up and plant those relationship seeds that will, hopefully, bear some short or long-term, fruit.

But what about a smaller, more intimate networking gathering of 6,8 or even 10 people gathered for a meal, each given a few minutes to talk about their business, with ample time for questions and discussion.  All of a sudden the relationship building part of networking starts sooner, right there at the table, and hence the follow-up after the dinner can be much more substantive with a better shot at real networking ROI.

I think there’s a time and place for both types of networking but at this point in my networking, I’d much prefer smaller get-togethers to the ones that make you shout above the sounds of the crowd and the music that is often playing in the room.

What about you?

You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello

March 1, 2012 at 8:54 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.

Everybody Loves A Winner

February 21, 2012 at 8:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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That’s right, everybody loves a winner. We all tend to gravitate towards the people that are positive and confident, enthusiastic and well, joyful.  And while they might not ALWAYS be a winner of new business and corresponding revenues, they seem to approach things with an upbeat attitude and don’t dwell on what is bad.

How do you come across? Are you generally positive and upbeat or do you reply to the question “how are you doing” with a somewhat morose “hanging in there”.

Everybody loves a winner or at least everybody loves someone that doesn’t bring them down. Maybe the sympathy vote works with your family and perhaps even your friends but don’t try to use it with your business contacts and at business gatherings. (You’ll find people flee from you like from the plague.)

Times are tough. We’re all out there slugging away and trying to make it. Everybody likes a winner or at least the person that communicates as if they are one or are confident that success is in their future.

Can’t Ya Hear Me Knocking

February 8, 2012 at 8:45 am | Posted in social media | 1 Comment
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Can’t Ya Hear Me Knocking?

Well of course you can. You can hear me knocking but you don’t know how to let me in.

Okay, pathetic analogy right. Perhaps, but it fits the bill I think.

You see SEO and SEM can get them knocking and  (may) provide you with the visibility that you crave. Yes, it can bring eyeballs to your site, callers to your phone and emails to your in-box, BUT—do you know what to do when they are at your door?

Do you:

  • Know how to communicate your value proposition in a compelling manner?
  • Effectively probe for wants and needs and exploit both
  • Uncover and overcome their hesitancies and stalls
  • Have the ability to stay on the grid during a lengthy sales cycle
  • Do you know how to close?

The best SEO/SEM in the world won’t bring you new customers if you can’t do the above.  Want a free valuable ebook that can help you with these things? Email me!

Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?

February 7, 2012 at 8:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Got your attention, huh? Do ya think I’m sexy?

Well, what’s sexy right now is SEM and SEO and all manner of social media involvement.

I’m not a luddite; I use and love them all. But folks…really…remember that PEOPLE execute and close business and with all this attention (and budget) being thrown at “getting to the top of Google” there isn’t anyone left with basic and fundamental sales competencies. (Don’t get me started on getting to the top of Google—that’s another story entirely.)

But back to the point that I am trying to make here.  All of this search engine and content marketing stuff is awesome. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not discounting the critical importance of paying attention to this seemingly ephemeral world of SEO but what I am saying is that you also better be paying strict attention to what happens in the “real” world.

People buy from people and unless you run an internet-based,  click only business you need to get your arms around:

  • Presentation effectiveness
  • Sales processes and procedures
  • Great hires in the sales arena
  • Sales competencies (fundamental to your success!!!)
  • Touch point management

And the list goes on.

We’re all working with tighter budgets these days so be smart. Before you buy into a SEO/SEM program that will pretty much wipe out the rest of your business development and marketing budget consider how and if you will be able to capitalize and monetize the visibility and potential leads that (might) be coming your way.  Apportion your budget wisely and you will get an even greater ROI from a totally integrated sales and marketing program

The Not So New Phenomenon Known As Branding

January 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Posted in Branding | 1 Comment
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I’ve been in business for more than 20 years and during that time have worked with hundreds of companies across pretty much every vertical and in organizations large and small.

Back in the day my clients hardly (Mmmm, perhaps never) said the word “brand” but in our sales strategy meetings we talked about:

  • Why do customers buy from you versus your competition?
  • What do people say when they talk about your product/service?
  • What’s the perception of your company?
  • What makes your company different?
  • How do you improve your customer’s situation / experience?

And so on.

The word brand wasn’t mentioned but what I do know is that we drilled down on much of what is discussed in today’s branding sessions.

So what’s my point?  Simple.

It is logical that a strong, well-respected brand should help to increase sales. Yes, should help, but cannot guarantee, greater sales. Why?  Well that’s simple too.

Having a strong brand doesn’t ensure that a tightly aligned sales process is in place or that the folks that are tasked with going out and bringing in the business are even competent to do so.  It doesn’t ensure that sales conversations with potential customers will be done exquisitely and with finesse.

Want to be successful?

Develop your brand but make sure that the folks involved with actually “selling” the products (or services, it hardly makes a difference) are actually ready to perform at the highest level and that the infrastructure is in place to support them.

Really want ROI from your branding efforts? Make sure that you’re paying an equal amount of attention to the sales component as well as to branding and marketing.

Bridge the gap and be more profitable. Really.

Welcome to the New Year: How to Avoid the 3 Deadly Sins of Selling

January 3, 2012 at 9:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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So here we are smack at the beginning of a New Year.  Yes, I know that we have simply turned over a page on the calendar but it feels good you know. A fresh start and all that stuff. (Hey, I was the person that actually liked the start of school with its newly sharpened pencils and clean and shiny binders.)  But I digress.

Do you have high hopes for this coming year?  Gonna do some things different are you? Well, how about for starters fine-tuning your sales strengths and yes…avoid the 3 deadly sins of selling.

So what exactly are thee sins?  Here ya go:

Thinking that marketing is sales and vice versa. Marketing is not sales…repeat after me, marketing is not sales. Like that old refrain…you can’t one without the other. So why is it that so many people are starting the new year with new marketing campaigns, making resolutions to “jump” into social media and looking to twitter to help them make their way, enhancing web sites et al and are not even thinking one bit about their sales process, sales competencies abilities to follow-up, follow through and close those prospects and leads. Really. If you want to waste your money, go ahead and do it but if not, then please spend as much time and consideration to the sales aspect of your business as to the marketing end. You’ll be glad that you did (Umm, you’ll actually “bring in” that business that marketing attracted in the first place.)

Thinking that networking is an endgame in and of itself. Hah. Wish it would be so but it just isn’t. Networking is an ongoing, never ending initiative that requires eternal vigilance to make it pay off. And yes, you can have a one hit wonder derived from a networking meeting in which nothing more than showing up was involved. But those bits of success are far and few between and what is really required is strategic vision and a plan and design for how you will go out there onto the networking playing field and win the game.  (Hint: the networking game is circular, not linear and if you play it well then you just might be rewarded by what comes back to you.

Taking those leads, contacts, dormant accounts, friends and so forth and letting them languish in your base. Really. Why do you need thousands of people in your CRM or even on your Constant Contact email newsletter list if you are not gong to work these contact effectively and efficiently staying on the grid so if and when a project or a lead is around you will, in fact, be on their mind and get the pleasure of a connection. Why bother? If you can’t deploy the three I’s (and if you don’t know what those are please connect with me and I’ll share the strategy), then you shouldn’t be out there trying to win new business. You won’t be getting any ROT (return on time). Period.

Ok then…make a personal plan to abolish these sins and move forward into your most successful year ever.  Ready?

How to Overcome Objections & Stalls

November 11, 2011 at 8:15 am | Posted in Sales Training | 1 Comment
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Let’s face the facts. If you’re involved in sales, objections and stalls are simply a fact of life. While you can’t avoid these inherent frustrations altogether, you definitely have options on how to deal with them. And, it’s truly how you deal with them that will ultimately determine your success as a salesperson.

Objections and stalls can undeniably throw you off of your course and make you want to pack up and head home. However, it’s solely up to you to view them either as permanent stops or detours on the road to making a sale.

What does an objection or stall mean to you? Sure, you can look at it as your cue to find a new prospect, or if you delve a little deeper, you might just discover that the person who you’re trying to sell to is attempting to gain more information, more confidence in what you’re offering, or more selling points. This is often the case when they have to present what you’re offering to other people involved in the decision making process.

In other words, their objection might be their way of asking you to better explain what makes you different and why doing business with you will equate to some sort of improvement in their situation.

By changing your mindset and rethinking objections and stalls as simply opportunities to present more information, you definitely up your chances of winning a job. Here are some basic strategies for handling these situations:

Take a Deep Breathe

Getting thrown off and discouraged by objections is often a knee-jerk reaction by many salespeople. It’s understandable and perfectly natural. We’re all taught as children to take “no” as an answer and to not nag and continue to ask for what we want again and again. Well, salespeople have to learn how to quiet those old tapes playing in their heads. A “no” might be a veiled request for more information, and if you immediately retreat, you will be shutting the door on a potential sale.

Acknowledge Their Hesitancy

You need to demonstrate that you “get” where they’re coming when it comes to an objection. By stating that you understand how they feel, you show that you are listening respectfully, not tuning them out, and can actually empathize with their hesitancy.

How can you articulate your sensitivity? Here are a few statements that will help you keep that sales door open:

1.     Mr. Prospect, I understand how you feel.

2.     I understand what you are saying

3.     We have other clients that have felt the same way.

These three statements will go a long way to making your prospect feel more comfortable and engaged with what you’re trying to say. Remember, the goal is to maintain rapport and not to alienate or cause anxiety.

Restate Your Value Proposition

Once you’ve patiently acknowledged and responded to their objection with a benefits statement, you’ve earned yourself the right to resell. This is the pivotal point and critical moment in dealing with an objection. Don’t stop and trail off after your resell statement. You’ll only confuse your prospect on what they should do next. Instead, take control of the dialog by asking a question. Word your question accordingly so that you get a positive response or at least will know what the answer will be. With this strategy, you should now have the opportunity to resell features and benefits.

So that’s it – a simple roadmap for how to handle and hopefully overcome objections. But what if you’re faced with something not as black and white? You weren’t given an objection, but you’re instead getting the sense that they’re just putting off making any decision at all.

These are the folks that are stalling and handling them effectively will also help you to close more business. When dealing with stalls, the first and most important step is to uncover its real reason. Until you know the reality of the situation behind the stall, you cannot possibly overcome it.

In order to find out the true reason for stalling, you must utilize some effective probing. Here are some questions that you should have ready to roll off of your tongue:

“Can you tell me more about …..?”

“How are you currently handling….?”

“What is your feeling about…..?”

By using open-ended questions like these, you will encourage dialogue and eliminate the shut-down that you may encounter when using closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.

The reality is that there are many valid reasons for prospects to stall. For instance, an accounting firm might stall about making a decision for an office renovation because the decision comes smack in the middle of tax season. Their plate is full, their minds are distracted, and a stall about making a decision is entirely valid.

However, more often stalls beg for clarification. Here are some statements to watch out for:

“I have to think about it.”

“I’m not certain. Let me talk about it with ….”

“Call me in a few weeks/months.”

“Not now/maybe later.”

These “classic stall statements provide you with little or no insight into a prospect’s “real” situation and require you to probe for more insight. Here’s how to respond:

“Can you please clarify what exactly you need to think about?”

“What’s going to be different next week, next month?”

“How about you and I speak with (the decision maker) together?”

Are you thinking that these types of responses might be too aggressive? If you remember that your objective is to uncover the reason for the stall, you will clearly see that these questions are essential for finding out the information you need to do your job effectively.

A prospect’s stall might be based on the fact that they don’t see enough value, or that they’re just not really sold yet. By uncovering their need for more information, you put yourself in a better position to make the sale. Remember – you can’t lose something that you don’t have, and since you haven’t yet won the job, you can’t be at risk by probing for information.

No one likes to deal with objection and stalls, but they are a very real part of the sales dance. Get used to it, get comfortable with it, and by employing these techniques, you’ll find yourself in the driver’s seat and winning more jobs than you ever thought you could!

 

 

 

 

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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!

WTF!!! Why Network If You’re Not Going to Play The Game?

November 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Networking | Leave a comment
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Excuse me if I sound a bit exasperated but well, I am. Seems there’s quite a bit of NFT (no follow-through) going around these days and honestly, I can’t figure out why. Sure we’re all busy but that’s not a good, or even rational, reason.

The simple question:  Why bother going to networking breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings and NOT continue to network AFTER the event?

You know the deal. You attend a meeting or event and circulate around the room, making contacts, exchanging cards and doing what needs to be done to START the business ball rolling.

Yes, that’s right…START the business dance but certainly not finish it while at the event.

Business development takes nurturing, time and attention.  You need to establish mutual respect before any sort of introductions can be made and this respect can only be established in (ongoing) follow-up conversations and meetings.

The blatant truth:  if you don’t take the initiative to reach out proactively and/or respond to your networking contacts you are simply wasting your time going to these events in the first place.  You might as well stay home.

 

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