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 Have a Great Blog

November 15, 2011 at 10:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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When the word “blog” was created from “Web” and “log” back in 1999, no one had any idea that these online diaries or journals would be as powerful as they have become.  There are now millions upon millions of blogs on every topic imaginable – from political commentary to pet care. Businesses have jumped onto the blog bandwagon too, as a way to generate interest in their products and services and improve their online visibility. Multi-national corporations, small business and solopreneurs alike are creating blogs as a marketing, promotional, and educational tool.

Blogging can be an extremely useful way to “talk” to both current and prospective customers. Blogs provide a unique opportunity for you to define yourself as an expert in the industry, enabling you to communicate on a mass scale, but in a personal manner. They are also extremely helpful when it comes to search engine optimization. For those who aren’t familiar with this term; blogs can help you improve your ranking on search engines such as Google and Yahoo! This is a good thing!

While it’s quite simple to establish a blog, the challenge is creating a great one that attracts loyal readers. It requires more than just throwing some company news on a page. For a blog to flourish, it must be written with passion, enthusiasm, interest, and knowledge. It needs to be a “go to” site for advice and insight. Are you up for the challenge? If so, the rewards can be substantial. Here are some more tips to get you on your way to becoming a successful blogger.

Keep It Relevant

Sure, you can find countless blogs that detail the minutiae of their writers’ lives. But, if you are targeting your existing customer base and overall market, you’ll have to limit your posts to relevant, interesting information. It’s safe to assume your readers don’t have time to read about your dog or trip to the Bahamas. Instead, stay focused on valuable, newsworthy topics.

Keep Posts Current

Maintaining a blog is a commitment. If you don’t have time to stay current with your news and provide frequent posts, you’re better off simply sticking with a website. Readers expect blogs to have the most current information. If they consistently see outdated posts, they won’t return.

Keep It Reader Friendly

Don’t use complex jargon and make your points clear without ambiguity.  Use “real-speak” and readers will ENJOY reading your posts.

Encourage Comments and Dialogue

A blog isn’t just another website. It enables your readers to respond to what you’ve written. In fact, the best blogs become popular specifically because of the strength of their discussions between blogger and readers. Don’t be alarmed if you have someone disagree with you. Encourage the free exchange of ideas and opinions. You might even learn a thing or two from your readers!

Share Links

Don’t just stop with thoughtful, well-written posts. Encourage your readers to learn even more by supplying them with other related blogs or articles of interest. One blog can spread a wealth of knowledge.

Make It Visually Pleasing

Readers are more apt to return if your blog is easy on the eyes. Most of the blog publishing sites provide a variety of attractive templates that you can utilize or customize to resemble your website.

Promote It

Finally, once your blog is up and running, take the time to register it on the most commonly used search engines, as well as on a blog-only search engine, such as www.blogwise.com. And, don’t forget to include your blog’s URL in your email signature to encourage everyone to visit.

Now to the important question; are you up to the task?  If so, there’s no time like right now to get started!

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.

Bouncing On The Marketing Mattress

October 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A great brand and superb marketing materials can really help a company to establish visibility and credibility with it’s audience. So too can PR and advertising help to pave the way to a successful service or product.

But they simply pave the way or in my mind, they are the mattress upon which sales must bounce.

A fantastic sales rep can close business without the benefit of marketing collateral and a brand promise.  Yes, they can, although they have to work harder and longer in order to do so.

Marketing helps the sales effort.

But make no mistake about it, marketing does not pull through closed business. It can help…it does help but people, processes and qualified sales reps acting on exquisitely crafted sales campaigns are what really generates most new business.

Most sales consultants know this is true and so when they meet a prospect they often (always?) inquire about the marketing campaign that is in the wings. They also review the web site, social media platforms and other such marketing initiatives that are “out there” for all to see.

But rarely, and I do mean rarely, do marketing professionals ask definitve questions about the prospect’s planned sales campaign that will integrate with their marketing program. It’s almost as if they are engaged in marketing for marketing’s sake.

How do I know this?  Simple. I’ve been a sales consultant for 24 years and I can count on one hand the number of times that our firm has been brought in by the marketers working on a program.  Yet in a large volume of our projects we make a concerted effort to identify the right marketing resources for the job and then send out RFPs to help us / our client make our selection.

I’m not sure why this schism exists but it does. I also know that clients would be better served if we all just played nicely together.

How To Overcome Objections

October 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Oh my. This oldie but goodie topic will never go away not as long as there are suspects and prospects that don’t “immediately” acquiesce and buy your product or service.

  • No need
  • All set
  • Have no money
  • Have no budget
  • Happy with whom we are currently using
  • Under contract
  • My brother takes care of that for us
  • No time to deal with that right now

And so on.  If you’re in sales you’ve heard some (or all) of these at one time or another.

So, what’s a sales person to do?

Okay, let me start by stating what not to do.  Just because a prospect has offered a bit of pushback DON’T immediately back down and assume that you should simply offer to send them information and get the hell off the phone, out the door…whatever!

Ouch.

Don’t immediately offer to be a second source or fallback supplier.

Ouch.

And don’t immediately say that you’ll “check in” with them in another few months to see if their needs have changed.

Ouch.

All of these are far too passive and unless you are fortunate enough to sustain your business with simply picking “low hanging fruit” then I suggest you consider some of these tried and true approaches:

The “We’ve Heard That Before” approach

3 simple steps but done exquisitely and you’re golden.

  • John, I can appreciate that you think that way
  • We’ve had other clients say the same thing when we initially started to speak with them
  • What they found out, however, is that we have been able to effectively reduce / enhance / increase their __________ and the results have been wonderful. How are you _________

This approach requires that you understand exactly how your product or service will equate to an improvement in the prospect’s situation and are prepared to restate this improvement in your rebuttal. You end the rebuttal with an open-ended question that allows for the dialogue to continue.

 

The “Maybe You Didn’t Hear Me: Restate / Rephrase Benefits” approach

I hear you. What if we could RESTATE THE CORE BENEFITS PLATFORM SPECIFIC TO THEIR REVEALED NEEDS. Would that be of value to you?

Once again you are going to take this opportunity to restate benefits but make certain to draw a line between the improvements you are offering and the current situation they are in.

 

The “Step Down But Not Away” approach

That’s understandable. We’d welcome the opportunity to show you how / what we do. How about if we work it this way…PROVIDE A DIFFERENT SOLUTION / ALTERNATIVE

No one likes change and inertia is the biggest obstacle that you will encounter. Make it easy for your prospect to buy. Be out front with them and explain you’d like the opportunity to show them what you can do (on a small project or assignment) and that you are not asking for them to change the way that they are currently doing things without doing a small trial run first.

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t simply ignore the propsect’s concerns and objections. They won’t go away and you can’t bully them into submission. You must “earn the right” to win their business and in order to do so you must be respectful and address their issues.

And of course the very best strategy is to make sure that you are probing and addressing the prospect’s concerns at every step of the selling process. Doing a “gut check” and getting a read on what they are thinking / feeling is an effective way to make certain that you are not blind-sided at the end of the sales dialogue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cry, Baby

October 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Cry, Baby.   Oh Janis.

The budget is frozen.

Uncertain about 2012.

No money for “discretionary” expenses.

We think you’re great BUT…

This is what lots of business owners are hearing these days and I don’t know about you but it is getting a tad more than tiresome.

But I’m not giving in…nope, not a chance.

You shouldn’t either.  Here’s some advice:

  • Demonstrate how your program, your service, your deliverable is damn well not DISCRETIONARY and, in fact, is something that goes right to the core of the client’s business. And if they don’t hear you the first time, be persistent. Remember that you can’t lose what you don’t have.
  • Expand the conversation about budget and costs and be prepared to be flexible with your terms and pricing. Can you re-engineer your offerings and negotiate a reduced rate for this contract period?
  • Everyone is uncertain about what’s ahead for 2012. Can you present enough bottom-line value that they will see you as a trusted advisor and business resource and one that they cannot afford to cut?
  • Are you doing enough networking and prospecting to ensure that your sales pipeline will support you in the potentially lean months ahead?
  • Do you have trusted advisors to whom you can turn for feedback on your business efforts? Have you considered a business coach?

This is our time to lay the groundwork for 2012.

No tears.

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