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!

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Patting the Baby

November 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I recently watched a sneaky little 4 year old girl cuddle and pat her baby brother. As you can imagine, when her mom was watching she was extremely gentle and sweet, but when her mom turned away, even for just an instant, her pats became increasingly more rough and the look on her face changed form adoration to one of disgust.

Recognize the behavior?

Yep, sure you do. It happens in offices all the time.

Sales teams can almost always play well together when mom (aka the sales manager) is watching. But watch out when management turns away for the bonhomie can turn ugly real fast.

So what’s a sales manager to do because just like mom you often need to “look away”.

  1. Lead by example and treat everyone on your sales team with respect and courtesy. If you display poor behavior your sales reps will also and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
  2. Provide timely hands-on coaching and feedback when team members are not “behaving” as expected. Don’t allow a lack of teamwork to become patterned behavior.
  3. Even though sales reps are intrinsically competitive, help them to focus on team accomplishments as well as individual. Provide individual as well as group incentives and motivate accordingly.

It’s easy for the “kids” to play nicely in the sandbox when you are standing guard. It’s more difficult and truly the job of the sales manager to make certain that this nice behavior is carried forward even when “parental eyes” are elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Burst Listerine and Other Such New Enhancements for Your Sales Pleasure

September 14, 2011 at 11:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I do wish that I was a consumer products marketer for it seems that with great regularity they are able to come out with product improvements and enhancements, designed I believe, to push consumers into the stores and get them to buy the new (improved) version of what they already bought.

We service providers should take a lesson from consumer marketers. We should be examining our service offerings on a regular basis and thinking about how we can enhance and improve upon what we are currently providing.  How often do we go out into the marketplace and tell clients and prospects alike about our newest, greatest, most improved version of…well, ourselves.

We should be taking a lesson from all of those packaged goods firms and consumer marketing giants that manage to keep us interested and going back to get their next best and latest version of __________.

Let’s take a lesson from Listerine, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

All I’m Asking For Is A Little Respect

August 9, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Sing it Aretha!

Respect. One of the basic human wants and needs. We all want respect, crave it in fact and will often work hard to obtain it.

But ask yourself, do you respect your clients? No really, don’t answer quite so quickly. Do you R E S P E C T your clients? Here’s what I mean:

Do you return calls and emails in a timely manner and for that matter, do you know what “timely” means to your clients vs. what YOU consider to be timely? (Hint, they’re often not in sync.)

Do you keep your clients apprised of what’s going on with their project and do you do this proactively or simply wait for them to “check in” with you for a status update?

Do you promise the world and then scramble to do the job while the scrambling results in a less than stellar work product?

Do you provide your client with out-of-the-box thinking or are you pleased that they will accept “just what you give them”?

Do you miss deadlines?

Do you change the budget and do so without ample warning?

Do you do ANY of these things?

Yep, it’s all about respect.

Instant Karma

July 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, sales, Sales Training, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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You know it when it happens. Instant karma, the kind that sets your sales mind soaring and gets your energy sky high.

Yep, instant karma’s gonna win me the business!

Um, not so fast.

As a sales consultant I’ve seen lots of sales gone bad, instances in which a sales rep was absolutely CERTAIN that the deal was in the bag. There was, after all, instant karma.

But guess what, instant karma can’t always save the day. In fact, it rarely does and here’s why:

  • A great connection and good vibes can help pave the way but a less than stellar presentation of benefits and a compelling value proposition are really what seal the deal.
  • A “feel good” conversation often spirals out of business boundaries and there isn’t enough probing to uncover the red flags. Heck, why probe? We’re buds, right?
  • People do business with people they like but people also do business with people that they respect, trust and admire. If you come across as too much of a pal, the respect and admiration might become just a tad diluted.

    Yes, instant karma is fantastic and it sure feels good. It can also aid you in developing and closing business but you can’t minimize the importance of old-fashioned sales skills and techniques.

 

Under My Thumb

July 12, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Hah. It’s been awhile since sales reps were so cocky as to feel that prospects and clients were, in fact, under their thumb. Nope, when the economy got soft and business started to suffer, sales reps everywhere (and in every industry) could no longer be in the least bit cavalier about their prospects and accounts. Under your thumb? Not a chance.

Prospects and clients have ALWAYS had the power to prove just how much they want and need your services. They do it by accepting your proposal and then by continuing to work with you and in this environment, heck, in any environment, you need to show the “love” on an ongoing basis.

They’re NOT under your thumb. There’s always competition waiting to eat your lunch and if you want to rest easy (ok, easier) and be confident that your clients are firmly in YOUR court, may I suggest the following:

  1. Go over and beyond what is expected. Doing a good job is no longer enough. Strive to be “great” and make your clients raving fans.
  1. Don’t BS. Presenting a less than honest picture of what you can do and how you can do it will lead to disappointment on the part of the client and they will go elsewhere.
  1. Be on time and on budget. (Nothing more to say about that!)
  1. Become a resource and not a vendor. Resources are valued and are not as often subjected to budget scrutiny. Vendors are replaceable; business resources not so.
  1. Show your appreciation for their business. Do it frequently.

Take my advice, unless you’re Mick Jagger, you shouldn’t be singing this tune.

A Primer on Sales Management: Just be Nice!

April 21, 2010 at 11:43 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, sales, Sales Training | Leave a comment
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Didn’t our mothers tell us to just be nice? This most basic of principles has been taught to all of us from our earliest age, yet niceness always seems to be in short supply. When you ask customers what they want or expect from the companies with whom they do business, more often than not, they say that they want nice salespeople.

Why is niceness a scarcity in sales? Usually, it’s a trickle down effect. Salespeople don’t feel cared for by their companies, so they transfer their negativity to their customers. That being said, there are clear strategies to help ensure that your team is modeling the golden rule. Here’s a refresher on how to jumpstart your sales team’s niceness.

Respect Them

Yes, respect really is a two-way street. Showing care and concern for salespeople and valuing their efforts can hugely affect how they perceive their job, their customers, and you!

Empower Them

Valuable insight can be found from the individuals who work on the frontlines of sales. They want to share with you their findings, offer their suggestions for improvement, and be given the power to make decisions without always having to get permission.

If you hired them, you must have thought they were qualified and capable. Give them the opportunity to excel, and you’ll build loyalty and commitment. Alternatively, if you clip their wings, you’ll quickly have a team that is resentful and just going through the motions of their job until something better comes along.

Compensate Them

Money talks! Reward those who are striving to succeed, offering solutions, and achieving their goals. Your generosity will not go unnoticed. Well-paid salespeople are happy salespeople who will treat their customers far better than those who are only thrown a few crumbs every now and again.

Provide Great Working Conditions

By creating an environment where your team truly wants to go and work, you can positively affect their day-to-day attitude. Whether you set up a comfortable office space or let them work from home if it’s more productive there for them, making their conditions undeniably great will encourage them want to be nice to others. No one wants to sit in a nondescript cubical with poor fluorescent lighting. This is a recipe for making ticked off salespeople. Instead, give them the space they need to flourish, and their happiness will be reflected in their work.

Make Them a Team

Sales teams that encourage each other and realize that they share a common goal are always more productive than those that squabble, backstab, and nitpick. Sure, a little friendly competition might be a good way to ramp up sales, but at the end of the day, your team should be helping each other to achieve their goals. By feeling part of a team, they have the support system they need to provide the highest level of service to your customers.

Help Them to Feel Good about the Company

Niceness is definitely contagious. If the company is modeling niceness through volunteerism, donations, treating their employees well, this spirit of goodwill will naturally carry on through employees directly to your customers.

Make Sure They Understand the Importance of Customers

Continuously stressing the value and importance of customers is something that is vital to every business. In our hyper rushed world, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that customer satisfaction should be at the heart of everything that your sales team does.

Train Them

Without training them how to care for customers, you’re setting your business up for failure. Salespeople cannot provide the highest quality of service if they are not given training on how to perform their jobs. Even if they’re the nicest individuals in the world, this may not be projected if they’re bumbling through sales presentations and unsure of what they’re supposed to be doing. Just Be Nice!

How to Equip Your Sales Reps for Success

February 26, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, entrepreneurship, Marketing, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business | 1 Comment
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It is clearly known that high turnover in a sales-focused organization is bad.  It is not clearly known, however, why this turnover is happening.  The typical – and often, incorrect — view is that the problem lies at the recruitment or management level. In reality, the problem usually lies between the two: training.

Training sales reps is not an option; it is essential for both individual and organizational success.  When implemented effectively, it also significantly reduces turnover and improves loyalty and morale; all of which is good for the bottom-line.  Here are the five core elements of a complete sales rep training program:

Preparation

Training starts long before the workshops, the manuals and the coaching.  It starts with preparation.  Organizations must look at the office environment in which they are going to locate their new sales rep, and ensure that it is both professional and suited to the job at hand.

For example, if the sales rep will be doing a lot of telephone prospecting, then organizations must provide a space that is suitably quiet and free from distractions. Or, if the sales rep will be frequently out in the field, then a small workstation may suffice.  “Virtual” sales reps must also be provided with the necessary technology to ensure their success.

A core human need is to feel welcomed and respected.  When sales reps see that their new employer has appropriately prepared for their arrival, they feel confidently positioned to succeed.

Sales Training

Sales training is vital to sales reps’ success. Whether you hire “fresh out of college” or seasoned veterans with years of experience, sales training must be an ongoing initiative.

There are three key levels of sales training; all of them are equally important and, as mentioned, essential.  We can call the first level “Product/Service Awareness”, the second level “Competitive Advantage” and the second level “Prospecting.

Product/Service Awareness training focuses on the product, service or both that is being sold.  This training goes far beyond simply knowing details, specifications and features. Sales reps of all experience levels must clearly and deeply understand what it is that they’re selling, and just as importantly: why the sale is going to improve their customer’s life.

This latter aspect – “customer improvement” is so totally necessary for success that its importance cannot be emphasized strongly enough.  At the most fundamental level, sales is about solving problems, and making things better then they would be without the sale.  Sales reps must thoroughly understand how this fundamental fact of selling fits into their customer’s life and experience.  Having a “great” product or service is not enough!  That “greatness” must improve the customer’s situation; it must help them solve a meaningful problem.

Naturally, customers will have different situations; they will have different problems and needs.  Sales reps must be trained on how to identify and adjust their sales effort to respond to these differences.  The only way that they can make this adjustment is to have comprehensive Product/Service Awareness training.

The second level of training, Competitive Advantage, focuses on how a product or service is “positioned” in the overall marketplace; and hence, where it is positioned on a customer’s “radar screen” of options.  Competitive Advantage training focuses on SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (particularly threats target market growth).  It also focuses on the various ways that value can be added to enhance a prospect’s real or perceived benefit.  Remember: these benefits need not be financial; they can be any solution, of any kind, that is relevant and meaningful to prospects.

The third level of training, Prospecting, focuses – unsurprisingly — on the prospect. Sales reps need to know how to develop an existing prospect base, and to ensure that all opportunities are exploited so that no business is left on the table – because the competition will certainly snatch that up!  Sales reps also must understand the fine art of “probing”, and to know when it is time to close the sale.  It is particularly important to note that even seasoned sales reps need “prospecting” training.  What may have worked well in one industry will not work in another industry.

Sales Technology

Sales technology training is also essential.  All sales reps should be very well versed in Contact Management software, and all mobile communication tools (such as PDA).

Also, you should expect and budget for providing extra technology training for novice sales reps. Novices may need more extensive computer training on CRM programs, using Outlook, and other types of software. Those with more experience will often join an organization with a more solid knowledge about office technology and tools. However, don’t assume that anyone, seasoned or inexperienced, knows how to use all of the technology. Offer the necessary training to everyone.

Sales Leads

As with sales training, organizations also tend to differ on how, if at all, they provide leads to new sales reps. Some organizations believe that reps should build a lead base through their own efforts, while other organizations provide tools to facilitate lead gathering.

Many larger organizations use inside sales reps or telemarketers to screen and qualify prospects. In these firms, sales reps are then often given dated and timed appointments for follow-up. These organizations also tend to promote their inside sales/telemarketing reps to entry-level salespeople.

The benefits of receiving qualified prospects instead of starting from scratch are obvious. It is certainly easier — especially if you are new to the profession — to be handed screened and qualified leads. On the other hand, there is no better way to really learn about your prospects, and what it takes to sell to them, then to do some cold prospecting yourself!

However, when it comes to sales leads, take the time to honestly assess how difficult it will be for a new sales reps to acquire leads, and get their pipeline going. Please be realistic. No one is going to work for free, or stick around very long, if they are frustrated or disappointed with their results. If you know that account development is time consuming and challenging, give your new sales reps the tools and/or compensation to develop accounts in a realistic timeframe.

Lead generation is certainly one area where novice reps are at a disadvantage over experienced professionals who have a PDA full of contacts. Most often, the inexperienced are starting “from scratch” and need extra help and training on acquiring leads and becoming successful sales professionals.

Mentoring

All new sales reps, regardless of their experience level, can benefit from being paired up with a more tenured sales rep during the initial four-to-eight weeks of employment. They can learn the ropes, participate on calls, presentations and meetings.

Novice sales reps must also be closely managed and supervised. If they are doing telephone work, their calls should be monitored, and they should receive feedback and training to turn their weaknesses into strengths.  If they are going out into the field, they should be accompanied by a sales manager or someone who can provide constructive feedback on their performance.

Next Steps

Yes, it may seem like training is a large, challenging investment – but it is essential for everyone’s success!  The more involved and hands-on a company is with a sales rep’s success, the greater the chance that he or she will succeed. In the long run, the time and money spent on training will minimize the turnover rate, and strengthen a company’s overall sales ability.

Top Tips For Building a Salesforce

October 24, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, Marketing, sales, Sales Training, small business | 2 Comments
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One of the few positive aspects of this current recession is that there has been a flurry of new business growth. Entrepreneurial-spirited individuals, frustrated with the corporate world, are testing the waters with their new ideas, and startups are challenging large, slow-moving organizations by developing innovative products and services.

While many of these streamlined, smarter enterprises will succeed, others will fail. Why? There are many reasons for business failure. However, it’s almost always due to the lack of building a successful sales force.

Some entrepreneurs think that they are the only ones who can possibly sell. Giving over the sale of their product or service to someone else is akin to handing over their baby. Others get so immersed in day-to-day execution of their business that they simply don’t make the time for big picture projects like working on the growth of the company and building a successful sales team.

The reality is that, at some point, business owners need to spread out the sales efforts and bring in talent if they’re going to be successful. It’s not about hiring a support person who will only get the overflow sales “dregs”. Instead, it’s about hiring one or more sales superstars who share the vision of the organization and use their experience and professionalism to take the business to a higher level.

Finding those superstars can be challenging, but they’re out there. In fact, since the rash of layoffs in the last year, there has never been a better time to hire a salesperson. Many qualified professionals would jump at the chance of working with a company that is growing instead of teetering on the brink of failure. How can you build the best sales force for your specific needs? Here’s how:

Find Someone Who is Compatible with the Company Culture

Startups can be chaotic, and not everyone is cut out to work in one. Make sure that any candidate you’re considering is comfortable with multi-tasking and pitching in at a variety of levels and thrives in an environment where there might not always be a lot of structure. Oftentimes, successful “big company” salespeople are like fish out of water when they don’t have multi-layers of management and corporate structure around them. Others are ready to spread their wings in a startup. Find out their comfort level before you make the commitment of bringing them on board.

Look for Someone with Connections and Contacts

Besides having a desire to work for an up and coming company, your potential new hire will be substantially more successful if he or she has a fat Rolodex of connections and contacts. Where do you find such a person? Go out into the field and attend some industry events to see who might be interested in a new opportunity.

Don’t Micromanage the New Hire

If you’ve hired the right person, they should be able to hit the ground running without the need of being hovered over for an extended period of time. Sure, you’ll need to make sure that they’re completely up to speed on what they’ll be selling. However, once they are, it’s time to give up some of the control, and let them go out and hit the ground running.

Work on the Company and Not in It

While making sales is vital to the success of your business, you also need to devote time to working on its overall growth and direction. Successful entrepreneurs and company owners understand the need to have enough company resources so that they can be the leader and not get bogged down by the nitty-gritty of day-to-day operations.

How to Screw Up in 2009

January 23, 2009 at 8:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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You’re bound to read plenty of articles about how to succeed this year. Some undoubtedly have great tips, but just as many have uninspired, absurdly upbeat ideas that you’ve read a hundred other times. So, I thought I’d mix it up a little with a primer on how to shoot yourself in the foot, create your own problems, and just plain screw up this year.

No, I don’t want you to follow my advice, but these not so gentle reminders will help you avoid some of the most common ways that so many of us fail. Enjoy!

Cower in Fear
With the overwhelmingly bad economic news we’ve all been subjected to over the last several months, it’s natural to feel uncertain about where business is headed. This inevitably leads to fear and backing off from investing in the very things that generate business. One of the quickest ways to screw up is to cease your marketing, networking and public relations efforts. If you start retreating, your competition will be more than willing to fill your vacancy.

Don’t Exceed Your Clients’ Expectations
Sure, you’re already bummed out about business being slow. So, don’t exert any extra energy to go above and beyond what your clients expect from you. Trust me, if you only do the bare minimum, they’ll reward you with no more future work and plenty of free time for whining and complaining.

Don’t Mine the Gold in Your Existing Client Base
Want an especially fast and easy way to screw up this year? Keep hitting your head against the wall going after those expensive, impossible-to-get, cold leads, and avoid the warm, cost-efficient existing clients to whom you can cross-sell. Sure, your current contacts might very well appreciate and need what you might have to offer, but it’s so much more fun putting the effort in with those chilly individuals who will never buy from you.

Stay Focused On What You Can Get, As Opposed to What You Can Give
It’s all about you, you, you – right? When it comes to networking, just keep thinking about what you can get out of each one of your contacts. Don’t bother to be helpful or useful. Selfishness is the name of the game when it comes to pointless networking in 2009.

Develop a Reputation for Irrelevance and Inefficiency
Like it or not, each one of us is an individual brand. Some have quality brands that clients appreciate and buy from, and others of us are more known as the cheap knock-offs that should be avoided. To avoid success this year, work extra hard on letting your good name fall apart in your clients’ and prospects’ eyes. Try making some promises that you can’t keep, never follow through on what you say you’re going to do, and maintain a bad attitude at all times.

There are countless ways to royally screw up this year. Yet, there are just as many opportunities for great success. Stay positive, motivated, and helpful to others; and you’ll find that this year will be both productive and fruitful.

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