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

costco
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

 organizer and mobile phone

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!

 

 

 

 

How To Sell Without Fear Or Anxiety

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I get it.

The idea of selling is enough to make many small business owners and entrepreneurs anxious. Even savvy marketing types are tongue-tied when asked to be part of the sales team. Other marketers take the anti-selling approach. It’s treated as a necessary evil so they engage in the activity with a lot of passive-aggressive-don’t-look-over-here-I’m-asking-for-money chatter. That may help with anxiety, but not results.

No wonder start up businesses struggle with this part of their business plan. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have a product or service that you want people to pay for selling will be required. There is no secret sauce. (h/t to Kung Fu Panda)

The good news?

You can do it. Figure out what you don’t know and find resources to help. No-one is a “natural” sales person. Sure, some people find it easier than others but if you know someone who’s truly successful at selling, you’ll also find someone who’s worked at it.

Start here.

Sales Defined: The act of making an offer and giving people the chance to say yes.

That doesn’t sound so hard does it? Let’s break down what that means for you so you can sharpen your skills.

First Make an offer.

Your task; make the offer as compelling as possible. Use a benefit statement so your customers understand what’s in it for them.

  • Save time with our grocery-meal planner.
  • Eliminate costly delays with our product tracking software.
  • Keep more of your income using our tax-preparation consulting services.

Two – Make it easy.

Don’t make them guess. This is especially critical for online purchases of services. Your offer may be rock solid but if it’s not clear how it will be delivered your buyer won’t have the confidence that it will truly deliver on the stated benefits.

Three – Keep your offer simple.

It’s cool that you can customize everything or provide 20 choices but as part of the sales offer, less is better.

Benefit Tip:

For a tangible product – talk about intangibles; appeal to emotion.

Example: Slow Cooker – You’ll win mom of the year for your no-hassle meals that your children actually like!

When selling an intangible service – use quantifiable facts and figures.

Example; Personal Training Services: Join me and lose up to 15 pounds your first month. (numbers, statistics, percentages work well here)

Notice that neither example talked features like how the personal trainer works, her qualifications etc. nor did we discuss the 5 settings and automatic timer for the slow cooker.

 

It’s possible that there is more than one benefit to your product or service. Rather than trying to jam them all into an offer, go with the one that is strongest and most likely to resonate with your prospective customers. If you make sales calls (phone or in person) you can test out different offers and see which works best. You can also do this with A/B testing on your online pages as well. Keep your focus on developing the most compelling offer possible.

Give your customers what they want; the chance to say YES!

Share you offers (links are ok too) in the comments!

Consistency Wins Sales

Tiny drops of water that fall day after day bore through earth and rock. The big splash effect of a bucket full runs off with little impact.

Consistent action wins. Results come when every-day steps happen. Even if you don’t feel like it or other priorities drown your to-do list in important but less urgent tasks.

If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur demands on your time are constant and unyielding. Schedule your IPA’s on your calendar every day.

Income Producing Activities.

Start with 20 minutes a day. Every day. No excuses. No free pass.

Put it on the calendar or the to-do list. Don’t skip a day. Even busy days. Especially busy days.

That’s when you’ll see revenue jump and the phone start to ring, That’ when you can choose who you work with and how to manage the growth.

Income Producing Activities

Here are a few to get you started. Be selective depending on your business model.

Phone Calls

Yes, you talk to people – in real time! Call those contacts you met last week that said they are interested in learning more. Make follow up calls to see how a former client is doing. Call to congratulate someone who’s been in the news. Be brave and pick one person from your “wish” list and make the effort.

Emails

You are building your list right? When was the last time the people who opted in heard from you? If you have to look to tell me the date, you’re overdue. This is the virtual equivalent of raised hands that you leave hanging as you walk away to find someone new.

Blogging

If generating traffic to a well-converting website is part of your game plan then fresh, relevant content is a must. Hate to write? Hire someone to do it or let others guest post. Love to write? Why aren’t you guest-posting on other sites? Video or audio counts too! Update regularly. Nothing says go away as much as stale old content.

Drip drip drip your way to sales success!

Need help? Send me an email – I’d love to hear what’s working, and what’s got you stumped!

Build Buzz And Sales with Karl!

 

I had a great time talking to Karl Staib the genius behind PartyBizConnect.

Karl of Party Biz Connect Interview by Phyllis Nichols of SoundAdvice Sales And Marketing

He shares some very personal experiences that helped him grow and build his online businesses.
Yes, more than one!

He knows how to help you generate buzz for your business, your book or just help you raise your online profile!
Check out how to participate or have your own party!

You can also check out his SuperPower info at WorkHappyNow!

Twitter: @PartyBizConnect

Check out the next party!