Sunday, January 27, 2013
To make the most out of your sales leads you should be treating each and every one as if it's worth a nice commission check. Just like you should never judge a book by it's cover, neither should you judge a sales lead. There is only one way to figure out if that sales lead with convert to a sale, by working it.
Respond immediately. When a sales lead comes in your chances of converting that lead to a sale increase dramatically if you respond immediately. You don't know how many other sales people might be calling so being the first to respond is highly beneficial.
Remind the prospect upfront how you obtained their information and why. You don't want to sound like you are calling at random so have a strong value statement prepared to explain why you are calling.
Research who you are calling. This is easy if it's a business and may be difficult if it is an individual but with today's internet and social media obtaining information is pretty easy. This can help understand you will be speaking to and possibly give you insight that you may not have otherwise known.
Help people buy, don't sell them. You do this by being a consultant rather than spewing out a sales pitch. Perform a thorough client needs analysis to uncover what the prospect really wants and desires.
Enter every call and conversation into your CRM system. This will help you stay organized and on point if you call multiple times and speak to different points of contact.
You must adapt your sales pitch to personally fit every situation. Do not get in a rut by spewing out the same information for every prospect. Become a friend of the prospect by being able to relate to them personally and your sales will increase.
Follow up when you say you will follow up. The worst thing you can do is commit to a follow up and miss the date and time. This will surely cost you the sale.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Having polished negotiating skills will enable a sales person to sell more, at a higher price, give away less, and make more money. Becoming a master of negotiating will allow you to not only control the situation but gain the advantage of the outcome. You may be a great sales person but without a solid understanding of negotiating tactics you may be underselling your product or service.
When was the last time you sold something but you had to take a discount? Have you ever sold something and your paid commissions weren't worth the time you spent closing the sale? What about, have you ever dealt with such a hard bargain prospect that you needed your manager's special approval to get the deal signed?
Those days are over if you practice these negotiating tips. Remember, just like sales, negotiating is something that must be studied, learned, and practiced in order to gain a mastery of the skill. It will not happen over night. There is no set formula to follow. A negotiation is a discussion between two people or groups of people which will result in an agreement between the two parties. Practice, practice, practice. You will only get better at negotiating if you practice.
- Be prepared. The person with the most information will have the advantage and since you are the sales person you should be an expert in your product or service. There should nothing a prospect can say about your product, service, or competitor that you cannot rebut, in a nice way of course. If you get hit with a question or objection that you cannot overcome on the spot you have already started to give up ground.
- Listen more, talk less. This principle is practiced in the overall sales process and is one of the golden rules of sales. A sales person who talks to much will sell less than the sales person who talks less but listens more. The 80/20 rule, listen 80% and speak 20%. Learning to actively listen will allow you to uncover the prospects true needs and wants and ask the right questions to discover their pain points. This helps you link benefits and value to your pitch.
- Start high. In negotiations you usually do not want to be the first to offer, but as the sales person you will not be able to avoid this so start high. This seems so obvious but many in sales get scared to frighten the prospect with a high starting point. Don't be. Your price will be linked directly to the value and benefits of the prospect as well as the pain they are experiencing from not having your product or service. You must realize that the prospect is going to do the same and start low or will ask for more than what they expect to get.
- Focus on value, not price. Focus on the value your product or service will bring to the prospect. This will help deflect and minimize the discussion on price. Remind the prospect of the pain they are experiencing by not having your product or service and the benefits you will bring as a partner.
- Know your bottom line. There is no reason why you shouldn't know your bottom line before getting into the negotiation phase of your deal. Getting a deal by going below your bottom line is not acceptable because as a sales person we make money from our commissions and going below our bottom line usually means it is not a profitable deal.
- Don't react to the prospect flinch. The flinch is a negotiations tactics that will be employed by the buyer where they will flinch or react negatively to price or something within your negotiations. Buyers do this to try and beat you down on price or scare you that they won't do the deal and that is exactly what they are trying to do. Scare you. Don't be afraid, you are the subject matter expert of your product or service. Remember point #1, be prepared. Respond in a calm and professional manner that explains why your price is such. Remind them of the value and benefits your product or service will bring to the prospect and how you will eliminate their pains.
- Ask for help. This will often soften up the prospect and their view of you as someone who is trying to help solve one of their problems. By asking for help the prospect will see you as part of their team and not as someone trying to sell them.
- Don't make your prospect look bad or uneducated. Sounds very harsh but so many sales people are A+ personalities that when we are faced with objections we can turn overly aggressive. A good sales person and negotiator walks a fine line with being able to control the conversation as well as allow the buyer to FEEL like they are in control. Don't ever respond with, "Nope, that's not right" or "No you're wrong."
- Know when to walk away. Maybe as important as any of these tips. Determine a point before hand that you will walk from the deal. This point is often linked to a price or commission payment. Just like in a game of poker, know when to hold them and know when to fold them.
This past year I have been living in Lima Peru where just about everything is negotiable. I have applied these tips and have been able to negotiate more effectively from taxi fairs to consultant fees.
Start practicing today and you will be sure to gain more control and effectively control the outcome of your next negotiation.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
The launch of a product or service is as important as the product itself. Leaving your launch strategy to the last minute or slapping one together days before is not the way to go about it. The development of a launch strategy is vital. If you do not execute on a well developed launch plan you will certainly miss business opportunities, delay new products to market, and potentially have your product fail when brought to market.
Perform a SWOT analysis for your product or service prior to launch. Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats analysis will properly help develop and understand the roll of your new product or service and it's place within your organization. This analysis will answer a lot in terms of the impact your product will have on the market, the demand for your product, and competition you will face.
Understand your target market and market segments and develop unique value propositions for each. Identify the value that your target customer will realize by purchasing your product. Each target market and market segment may need a different marketing strategy to be most effective and to deliver the best possible outcome for your organization. The proper positioning of your product within these markets and segments will maximize your results.
Develop a marketing strategy and marketing plan. Your marketing strategy will define your goals through your marketing efforts and your marketing plan will detail how your going to achieve those goals through the application of your marketing strategy. Read this previous article on the two to better understand the difference and how to develop a marketing strategy and marketing plan.
Test your product, product lines, packaging, marketing messages, and marketing channels. Very important. You don't want to spend all this time, money, and resources without testing. Employ focus groups, online surveys, current customer surveys, and any consumer based collection points available.
Now it's time to roll out your product or service. Your public relations and marketing teams will play an important part here. Start creating buzz and talk about your products or service by releasing press statements, publishing articles, hit the blogs, and start your social media engine. Hold launch events and review your product or service to the public and use grass roots or gorilla marketing to build the buzz and hype your product. Start running your radio and T.V. spots to build momentum.
The roll out is not the end of the process. Post launch review, planning, and analysis are an important part of a new product launch. Post launch is where you monitor the product or service for results against your marketing strategy and plan. You should stay aware of your products life cycles in order to stay competitive and be ready for your next product launch.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Mobile marketing and engagement is different from your online presence because everything is designed for use and viewing on our mobile devices. Usually that means smaller designs and less context. In mobile strategy, research shows that text based advertising is five times more effective than internet ads. Why? Because a shift in consumer behavior from desktop and laptop has moved to mobile.
Ask yourself this question. Does your business have a mobile app or mobile advertising that your customers and targets can engage in business with you? Why not? Mobile strategy is where organizations are differentiating themselves and adding incremental value and revenue where they would not have otherwise. Having a mobile strategy will give consumers another channel to reach and interact with you.
There isn't a business out there today that can't utilize a mobile strategy or mobile technology to engage their targets. Restaurants, retailers, hospitality, service providers, transportation, and many more are all increasing revenue and customer engagement by adopting a mobile strategy.
Here's what you can do to adopt a mobile strategy.
Start a mobile ad campaign to drive business to your online store or brick and mortar location. Make these campaigns personalized and geared towards the buying habits of your target audience.
Mobile coupons. Retailer of all sizes are utilizing mobile coupons. Studies have shown that mobile coupon use has out grown traditional coupon clipping and provided incremental revenue growth within a new customer segment.
Mobile app. A mobile app doesn't necessarily mean it's use is to sell a product of service but it's a tool to engage an audience and increase brand awareness. It's a gateway to attract a new audience and over time turn them into paying customers. Many companies are giving apps away for free as well as monetizing them for a premium version.
Mobile website. You must have a website optimized for mobile use.
Location based marketing. With so many social networks and location based services being able to target consumers based on where they are right now, location based marketing has become a powerful way to increase and attract consumers.
What type of business are you in and how can mobile assist in engaging, attracting, and creating repeat customers?
Need help or assistance in clearly defining a mobile strategy that's right for your business. Send me an email.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Marketing can be creative but also science. It's the science of choosing target markets through market research and analysis, market segmentation as well understanding your targeted consumers and their buying behavior.
Marketing mix are business tools used by marketing professionals to determine a product or brand offering. A producer oriented model (seven Ps) and a consumer oriented model (seven Cs) are widely used today. Applying these marketing models will enable you to produce concise and targeted strategic marketing plans, tactical marketing plans, creative marketing plans, as well as market planning and positioning and risk assessment and avoidance.
The four Ps of marketing where expanded to the seven Ps of marketing. (Producer oriented model)
- Physical evidence
2. Price is the amount a consumer is willing to pay for a product or service. Price determines a company's profitability and success. Price will also affect the demand on the product.
3. Promotion represents all methods of communication that a marketer uses to provide information about their product or service such as advertising, direct sales, public relations, etc.
4. Place or distribution. How will the consumer access this product or service or how will you distribute this product or service?
5. Physical evidence are attributes within the retail location or purchasing point like the store front, signboards, etc.
6. People are the employees of the organization with whom the consumer come into contact with.
7. Process is the process or systems in place within an organization that will affect the marketing process.
The four Cs of marketing where expanded to the seven Cs of marketing. (Consumer oriented model)
2. Commodity is the product or services for the consumer.
3. Cost. Any cost associated with the product or service.
4. Channel. There are many marketing channels in today business environment. Not all goods and services fit in all marketing channels so conduct market research to determine what channels are best. Examples of marketing channels could be direct sales, PPC marketing, social media marketing, retail, etc. Marketing channels may depend specifically on your target market and or product or service.
5. Communications. How to best communicate the promotion of your product or service to the consumer. On-line, print, direct sales force, and telemarketing are methods of communicating with your target consumer.
6. Consumer. Remember the four most important things to the consumer. The consumer compass model makes it easy to remember. North, West, South, East.
- N = Needs
- W = Wants
- S = Security
- E = Education (consumer education)
- N = National or International
- W = Weather
- S = Social and cultural
- E = Economic
Remember that marketing is part creative and part science. Both components are needed to create an effective message and marketing plan. Be creative with your messaging and scientific with your planning.
Best of luck with your marketing plans for 2013 to increase your sales and customer base!
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
1. Goal setting. Always set a realistic goal for each and every call. Not every call will end with you getting the deal but that doesn't mean you can't achieve your specific goal for that particular sales call.
2. Pre-call planning. Research your account prior to the call. Visit and study their website for useful information about their business and company. Have your own agenda set for the call including what your goal for the call is, what facts are you trying to uncover, and what will be the next steps. Always be prepared with at least three value added points as to why you are there and why the prospect should be doing business with you.
3. Greeting, introduction, and rapport building. Steal with your eyes. Observe everything and you will find clues as to who and what type of person you will be dealing with. Always be upbeat and friendly but remember you are a professional and the expert so conduct yourself accordingly. Use a nice firm handshake and make eye contact. Always take notes and write things down. Bridge to the business topic smoothly and always listen more than you speak. Ideally 80% of your call should be listening to the prospect and 20% speaking. Ask the prospect about their business goals and challenges they may be facing.
4. Qualify. It is essential to know who the key players and decisions makers are. The easiest and most straight forward way is to ask, "Who else besides yourself is involved in the decision making process?" Find out what their purchasing process is and a time frame to complete a purchase. Ask about the their role in organization and how they may affect a purchase.
5. Client needs analysis or fact finding. This is where you begin to probe the prospect with open ended questioned, like describe the process for me or explain that to me in more detail. Questions with who, what, where, when, why, how, or how much are good open ended questions that can uncover the prospects motivation to buy. Uncover the prospect's pain and position it with a value proposition for your particular product, service, or business. Asking how you can help solve their problems will always help the prospect open up to you. Ask the prospect what their short and long term goals are for their company. Encourage the prospect to elaborate and go into detail about every answer they speak to. At the end of the client needs analysis always establish a specific follow up schedule and gain agreement from the prospect.
6. Objection handling. Listen to what the prospect has to say completely. Never jump in and cut of the prospect's objection. Always wait three seconds before responding and allow yourself the time to speak intelligently and professionally. Meet the objection with a question in order to find out more about the prospect's objection. Restate the objection and gain agreement from the prospect, then answer the objection. All objections should go through the follow six steps.
- Listen to the objection
- Define the objection
- Rephrase the objection
- Isolate the objection
- Present a solution to the objection
- Close the objection and go to the next objection or next step
8. Close. Have the prospect identify all possible problems your product or service will solve and the value of solving those problems. Gain agreement that your product or service provides the value identified and ask for the order. Don't be afraid.
9. Customer maintenance or follow up. Establish a schedule for follow up calls and customer visits. This is also a great time to ask for referrals and what are the three most important things you can do as a vendor to keep their business in the years to come.
These steps will help you stay focused on every sales call. Glance at it before and after every call to improve your selling skills and increase your chances of success.
Now go out and sell!
Monday, January 7, 2013
Sales is hard enough and profession that takes practice to become efficient and effective. Learning closing techniques, client needs analysis, or how to properly develop an ROI are all functions of the job that sales people are taught, and learn over time how to properly implement them.
Sometimes we see sales people making mistakes that just baffle us in sales management. Here are some of the more common mistakes I've seen over the years. Don't fall victim to these unnecessary and amateur moves.
- Not properly discussing the steps in the sales process and more specifically the next step. Many sales reps want to leave the next step for the prospect to decide and the prospect will usually decide not to get back to you. By the time you reach out to them it's like starting the process all over again. Clearly define the sales process and the next steps to the prospect.
- Sales people are sometimes so programmed with answers that they will handle an objection that hasn't been brought up. If a prospect hasn't brought up an objection do not bring it up yourself just to say that your product or service solves this problem.
- Selling features and functionality rather than solution and value. Consumers don't but on features anymore, they want to know they are getting value and a solution that will benefit them. Value based and solution based sales should be your focus.
- Speaking more than you listen. 80/20 rule, 80% listening and 20% speaking. A sales professional is constantly listening to the prospect because it helps to identify their needs and wants. If you talk more than listen you will come off as a used car salesman and probably not get the deal.
- Lack of follow through. This is probably the most common I've seen. The lack of follow through is just plain laziness. If you don't achieve a one call close, you will have to be regimented with your follow through and you will see that your persistence will pay off by increasing your close ratio.
- Treating the close as the end of the sales process. Very far from the truth, in fact I've seen many deals fall apart after the deal was closed because the sales rep thought their job was done. Real relationship building starts once the deal is signed.
- Asking for referrals when the deal is closed. Again, the sales process is not complete at the close of the deal and you should not be asking for referrals at this point. Referrals should come down the road once you have determined the customer is satisfied with product or service and you have delivered according to your sales presentation.
Remember if you follow a structured sales process you should be able to avoid these common mistakes. Check out "Steps in the Sales Process" on my blog's homepage to help you construct a sales process specific to your product or service.
Good luck. Now go out and sell!