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.

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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!

Help Me, I Think I’m Falling In Love Again

January 16, 2012 at 11:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Oh Joni, I don’t know what it is. Could be that I’ve been working so hard to win new business or maybe I’m just plain easy and want to love those new prospects that come my way, but really, shouldn’t I have learned my lesson by NOW, 24 years after launching this business.

Are you like me? Do you fall in love with clients so quickly that it makes you blind to signals screaming out watch it, this client just might not turn out the way you want!

Do you believe so strongly in yourself that you just “know” that you can make it good, make it better and well, make it right?

I know that I’ve fallen into that love-trap more times than I really wish to admit but well, maybe I’ve gotten more cynical, less needy or just plain smarter and recognize all of the red flags BEFORE I get into trouble.

For instance:

  • The project is so far out of your sweet spot that you’re going to lose money, time, sleep and credibility for every minute that you’re working on it.
  • The client is asking you to do things that just don’t feel right  (defer billing, overlook something that seems legally binding, talks poorly about your competitors). You know what I mean, right?
  • The decision-makers at the client change so frequently that you can’t even keep track of them and you’re losing time and money in meeting after meeting where you meet the “new” client team.
  • The “direction” of the project changes multiple times while you’re still in proposal stage.

It’s nice to be in love with clients but a good dose of reality should keep the stars out of your eyes.

And when all else fails, a good pre-nup can help you to avoid a financially devastating and business crushing divorce.

The

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 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!

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!

 

 

 

 

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!

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.

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.

Don’t Worry Baby

September 20, 2011 at 6:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Don’t Worry Baby was a pop hit released by the Beach Boys in 1964.

Don’t worry baby

Everything will turn out all right

Agh. If only the Beach Boys were spot on but the sorry truth is that everything does not always turn out all right neither in love nor in business. You know that things can fall apart, clients (lovers) go astray, projects get won and then lost in an amazingly short amount of time, your sales funnel gets constipated…well, you know the drill.

But are you a “don’t worry baby” kind of businessperson? Do you think that everything is going to be all right?

I don’t want to be typecast as some sort of business “downer” but things aren’t going to be all right unless YOU make them so. Here’s how:

1)    Don’t be a vendor. Repeat after me…don’t be a vendor. Vendors are marginalized out of existence, they can be bought and sold with little impact and there is little, if any loyalty. What do you want to be instead? Well, a business resource of course. Someone that your client cannot do without, someone that helps them in ways that would never be expected and is the go-to person when there is a question or problem.

2)    Yes, it comes back to staying on the grid. You better worry if you’ve allowed yourself to be invisible and out of contact. Staying on the radar screen is as easy as the three I’s: invitations, introductions and information. Deploy these three faithfully and you’ll see how easy it is to be visible.

3)    Make sure that your customer service is exceptional, not good, but exceptional. Conduct Voice of Customer surveys to make certain that you are getting honest and important feedback from the very people that you are looking to maintain and grow.

4)    Sales funnel got ya down? What are you doing to keep it filled? Are you actively going after new prospects at the same time as you are moving existing prospects further through the funnel and, hopefully, out the end as new business.  No matter how busy you are you can’t stop prospecting. That’s a rule.

The good news is that by doing all of the above you don’t have to worry, baby.

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