Most Wanted Lists

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I’m sure you have one.

A list of people you know could make a difference. If only you could connect with them somehow. If you just had the chance to talk to them about your idea or if you could just get your book in their hands everything would change.

Or maybe it’s potential clients. If you could land that up and coming new company then things would really take off. When you finally get the ear of an influential business leader in your industry then doors will open and opportunities will follow.

I love making lists. (It feeds my office supply habit) More importantly, it makes an idea real. It gives it a tangible life.

Intention Matters

This easy to do activity can be a springboard to taking big steps forward. In my early sales days I was incredibly naïve. It never occurred to me that people wouldn’t want to buy from me.

And that made me fearless.

I made a list of the biggest companies with the most awesome data centers and began calling to schedule appointments.  Just like that. I started with the enthusiasm that only a newbie could have. But then the funniest thing happened.

It worked!

I got those appointments and in many cases, I earned the business.  But the first step was identifying it. Making it real.

You Have to Own It First

Mentally you have to give life to the possibility. It’s never going to happen if you can’t picture it first.

Here are a few of my lists – some ideas to get you started. You don’t have to go public (although it may help to share this with a trusted friend or advisor) to give life to your own “most wanted.”

My Most Wanted Lists

People I want to interview on my (not yet public) podcast
Entrepreneurs I’d like to work with
Companies that I’d like to hire me for marketing services
Events where I’d like to speak or present
Conferences I’d like to attend

And that’s just for starters!

What or who is on your “Most Wanted” lists?

 

 

 

 

 

Are Daily Deals Good For Sales

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Thinking of making an offer on one of those daily deals or local deal websites? It can be a great way to get new clients into your store. Many of these promotions are done as loss-leaders or break-even. Is it a good option for your business?

What’s makes it a good deal?

The most popular promotions are for the restaurant, salon/spa and retail industries. Brick and mortar businesses that want to attract new customers into their store or salon.

Deal sites work like this:

You offer a hefty discount on your goods or services – usually 50% or so. 

  • $30 gift card for dinner for $15. 
  • Manicure and Pedicure for $25, normally $55

The deal site will take anywhere from 30% to 50% of the purchase price as their commission for promoting your deal.
So, a restaurant will be providing a retail value of $30 worth of food for as little as $7.50 to $10.50
Of course the hope is that the diner will spend more than $30 during their visit and have a good experience so they’ll come again and pay full price.

Does that happen?

There are tons of horror stories about the costs associated with these programs and the inability of the store or shop owner to recoup the expense of providing services at such a low price. If reaching a much larger audience is our goal then yes, these opportunities will work.

Here are some ideas to make sure you capture and maintain those new clients and turn them into repeat customers and raving fans.

Before your deal runs assemble your strategy.

The Experience
Make sure your staff and all personnel are aware of the promotion and how important it is that your standards are maintained. Let them know that it’s critical that each new client have a great experience.

The Follow Up
Have a way to keep in touch with the new customer base. You can:

  • Capture their emails for your list 
  • Have them register for your loyalty program
  • Offer them another promotion on their next visit
  • Provide an incentive for filling out a survey or comment card

It’s important to have this plan in place before your promotion begins so it’s a natural part of the guest experience when they are redeeming their deal purchase. Of course as always once you’ve captured the interest of a new customer, it’s important to continue to nurture that relationship.

Have you used a deal promotion in your business? As a consumer have you had a great experience when redeeming a deal?

 

 

The Dreaded Cold Call Income Producing Activity

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Task: Telephone cold calls
Time: 30-60 minutes
Goal: Make a connection; new contact
Market: B2B or B2C

I’d never advocate blindly calling someone at work or at home. Strategy and planning are key to making this IPA yield results. 

Step One 

Identify who you want to call. Is it someone you heard about or saw at an event? Perhaps you know about this business as a customer and you’d like the chance to connect with them as a supplier. Is it on your “dream” list of clients that you know you’d be able to help? Make a list and then you’ll be ready for step two. 

Step Two

Now that you know who you want to call, do your homework. It’s important that you have a purpose for the call. Is it to ask for an in-person appointment? Maybe you want to email information or ask how you can participate in an upcoming project. The more specific your request the more likely you’ll get a response. What would be a great step one in establishing this business relationship?

Step Three

Make the call. As crazy as it sounds, the act of reaching out will be rewarded even if you don’t always reach the intended contact. Make the effort, put your best effort forward and move on to the next call. The effort to connect makes a difference even if you end up leaving a voice mail or connecting with another person. 

Success Example:  A client attended a networking event where a local business owner made a short presentation. She was impressed with the way he was growing his team and she felt she could offer help with HR services she provides. She didn’t meet him in person, so she decided to call and ask for an in-person appointment. She made a short list of three things that might be of immediate interest and made the call. 

Result: She left a message on call one telling him how much she enjoyed his presentation. She also explained that she might be able to help and listed her 3 quick points. A week later she was able to schedule a meeting that resulted in new business. 

People do business with people.  

Making calls is one of the ways to connect. If you aren’t willing to add this to your IPA’s now and then you’ll be missing out. 

What would be helpful to you when you are planning your calls? 

 

The Worst Sales Call Ever

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Here’s what NOT to do on a sales call.

Why is it we can recall with such clarity the moments in our lives that we’d like to forget? That’s how I still feel about my first ever solo-sales call. I didn’t do anything truly cringe-worthy like falling down – which once happened in an icy parking lot.

I blew it and I never had the nerve to call on them again. Later, after years of experience and thousands (more like tens of thousands) of phone calls I could never bring myself to face them. Fortunately, there really were lots more fish in the sea and it didn’t derail me in my new job. I learned from my mistakes and went on to a successful career in sales. 

Here’s what I did wrong.

I made it all about me.
Nervous and eager don’t always mix well. I was so intent on telling them all about the company and our services – even when I realized I’d lost them (picking up on social cues is critical) I couldn’t stop talking. Ouch.

Lesson: Let the client tell you want they want, then start talking.

I didn’t ask enough questions. This is a skill I later mastered especially with new clients and first time appointments. When in doubt ASK something. Let your prospect or client do the talking. You’ll be amazed what they willingly share and you’ll definitely set yourself apart from other sales people.

Lesson: Ask, ask and then ask some more. Tip: one of my best questions- I asked for a tour of the data center. It worked almost every time and it sure beat sitting and looking at each other awkwardly across a conference room table.

I didn’t have a clear goal for the call. I was new, and honestly, it never occurred to me that people wouldn’t want to buy from me. Seriously, that’s why I got into sales in the first place – because it looked so easy. I assumed that the client would understand I wanted their business and they would say yes.

Lesson: Enter the sales call with a clear goal. Maybe you need to learn their how they work with vendors, or perhaps you need to know more about their corporate structure. Your goal may not always be to walk out with a purchase order. You’ll do much better if you are clear about what you want to accomplish.

I was trying to make a sale without any credibility. This is practically impossible for the most talented sales people. My newbie status meant I didn’t have a prayer. Not because I was new but because I wasn’t willing to earn their confidence before launching into a horrifying pitch. (It still pains me to think of it)

Lesson: Earn your client’s trust. Business will follow.

Best lesson?
I learned from this experience.
After this call I was determined to never walk out feeling so bad about my performance. It was clear I needed more experience but I also realized that I’d be much better off listening first, asking loads of questions and THEN making sure they knew they could count on me for good pricing and service.

I didn’t quit.
I got better.
And you can too.

Selling is a skill that takes practice. And with proficiency you earn confidence that clients pick up on – even over the phone. Not an arrogant “I’m a great sales person” vibe but a quiet, calm, “You can depend on me” energy.

Do you have a sales story to share? An experience that made you better?

 

 

Sales Success The Costco Way

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Take tips from the successful warehouse club to ramp up your sales efforts. Even the smallest business can use their time-tested techniques to success.

Membership Business Model

Memberships are a great way to build community, offer services to many and provide special offers to customers. It provides a way to give more to those who are looking for your products and serivces. It will also allow you to offer an experience instead of a commodity.

How can you offer a membership to your clients? What types of products or services would they like?

Rule Your Marketing Space

Costco does not try to be all things to their members. They don’t offer a personalized shopping experience. They sell clothes but don’t have dressing rooms. They are known for offering good quality products at competitive prices. They aren’t competing with high-end retail stores with free gift-wrap and alterations. 

What are you best at? What unique qualities of your products and services can set you apart from competitors?

Free Samples

If you’ve wandered through the store, you have no doubt had the opportunity to sample fresh baked bread, Kirkland brand chocolates, or a number of other specialties. It’s a popular part of the shopping experience for many and a great way to get customers to try (and buy) something that wasn’t on their list.

How can you offer a taste of your products or services? Can you make it a part of a try before you buy experience?

Kirkland Brand

Costco offers their own brand of best in class products. Choices include vitamins, clothing, cosmetics, hair care products, even high end wines and spirits. Their number one selling product is their Kirkland brand toilet tissue. It might not be glamorous but it’s profitable and it’s a staple that brings customers into the store.

Can you brand or otherwise customize your products? What types of services can you offer with your company stamp?

Special Packaging

Costco is known for bulk packaging as part of their value proposition. You can often purchase twice the volume at just a small increase over regular retail. Suppliers even offer special only-in-Costco packages. Produce and commodities like milk and eggs are sold in larger than normal volume in order to offer lower overall pricing.

Can you package your products in larger quantities? Can you arrange for lower per unit pricing for larger volume purchases? Even services can be re-packaged to offer top value for your customers and increased cash flow for you.

Efficiency of Operations

Costco carries one brand of cat food. They sell Pepsi in a 36 pack, only. They carry the most popular books and DVD’s; not an exhaustive selection. They take advantage of efficiency in purchasing, inventory and stocking levels in addition to floor space allocation. Costco has an effective and straight-forward checkout and customer service center. They only allow one way traffic at their fuel pumps. All stores are have a similar flow and footprint. All to provide consistent service and lower overhead costs.

Can you streamline operations to lower overhead and raise profits? What systems can you implement to allow you better functionality and an easier experience for your clients?

You don’t have to be a huge retailer or even have a physical location to use these principles to your advantage. Pick one or two that appeal to you and brainstorm some ideas that will work for your industry. Don’t edit as you think about new ways to reach your audience, and improve your services and offerings.

What can you add to your business model?

 

 

How To Get More Sales With A Compelling Step One

Number One
Increasing revenue, adding to your client list and growing your business is priority one. It’s usually near or at the top of your goal list and it’s the part of your business process that keeps you up at night.
More money, higher profits won’t just help you sleep like a baby, it gives you options.

Choices.

The ability to do more, grow, invest, take a vacation or hire staff. I’m sure you have a list of things you’d do if you could double or triple your current monthly sales volume.
Let’s get you there. Quickly and easily.

Being a sales nerd means I’m constantly looking for ways to make engagement easier. How can you (and I) make selling simple? How can we get more people to click the buy button, sign up for a class, come to the store or schedule an appointment?

Make it easy.

Best way to do that?

Have an easy, unavoidable, unmistakable step one.

Don’t make me think too much, search too hard or most important; don’t make me wait!
Have a compelling, easy as pie way for me to buy.
Simple right?

You’d think so. And if you have a retail store, or high volume e-commerce business then, sure I understand how to buy from you.
But for service providers it’s not as easy to tell. Primarily because we don’t make it clear. Here are a few fixes that will make your offers easier to understand and your buyers say yes!

Reduce the number of options

I understand your desire to be flexible and available. But your effort to be accommodating can hurt sales.

Example: Call or email or reach me on skype, Facebook, Twitter or fill out my online form for more info. 
The most common reaction? When I’m not sure, I’ll do nothing.
Solution: Tell me exactly what you want me to do.

Tell me what to expect

Tell me what will happen next. Will you email back? How soon? What is normal/typical? Do you send an acknowledgment? At least then I’d know that you in fact received it. If I call, will I talk to you or your assistant? Be clear and consistent. 
Solution: Let me know how things will work including time frame, method of contact and any other expectations.

Ask!

It’s not pushy or assuming to have a clear call to action. Let me know you want my business. A simple, clear statement will suffice.
Solution: Ask!

If possible, let me do it anytime

I call this the 3 o’clock in the morning test. If I’m at your website or have your brochure, can I take action when I’m ready?
Solution: Use a scheduling system, or at minimum tell me how I can reach you (I know you aren’t open at 3:00 am) when I’m sleepless and want your help.

An easy, well-defined step one will increase sales and will also help your prospective clients understand how to work with you.

 What’s your step one? 

 

To Your Sales Success

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Happy New Year!

If you’re anything like me you may be over the whole resolution planning stage already.

I like making lists, planning ahead and goal setting. The combination of those things helps me clear my head and prioritize.

It can also be a trap.

For many of us, the planning is the part we like best. It can become an excuse to delay taking action and prevent us from executing those lovely plans.

Here are a few questions to help you skip the planning to plan cycle and move right to the execution phase of your new year awesomeness.

Ready?

Year In Review

What worked?

Where did you have success?

How can you expand doing more of that?

What can you change to make what worked even more effective?

What do you need to eliminate?

What isn’t serving you?

What causes you anxiety?

How can you eliminate that?

Honest Evaluation

What do you enjoy most?

How can you do more of that?

What skills serve you best?

What would you like to improve?

Where have you made the biggest changes?

What are you most proud of?

What’s stopping you?

Who is your biggest fan and how have they helped you?

Looking Ahead

What does success feel like?

How will you know when you get there?

Who will share your success with?

Do those who support you know what you need most?

When you achieve a goal or hit a benchmark how will you celebrate?

Is it time for calm, purposeful activity or big game-changing actions?

What does a well-lived 2014 look like?

Obviously there is no right or wrong. The idea is to spark new ways to look at where you’ve been, where you are headed and how you want things to look when you get there.

Take some time and be honest with yourself. Give yourself permission to make changes.  Don’t be afraid to question what I call the “always done it this way” mentality.

Let me know which question(s) resonates most with you!

Here’s to the best year ever!