Sales Rx – Monday Morning Sales Meetings That Aren’t A Waste Of Time

  I spent about 16 years in corporate sales and I loved it.  I had wonderful clients, worked for a great company that let me do what I love.  My way.  I was evaluated and measured by my results at the end of each month.  It was perfect for me.   As the company grew, so did the structure and sales meetings that had been quarterly events were now weekly. 

Why Mondays? 

Conventional thinking is no one schedules Monday AM appointments and it is a good way to start the week.  Right?  It’s still done in all kinds of sales organizations so it’s kind of the chicken and the egg thing now.  No appointments because of the meeting or the meeting time is set when clients aren’t available?  I think it’s the former.   If you want to know the best time for your meetings, how about 4ish on Fridays?  No one has a legit appointment then,(oh, I know you’re the exception)  plus it’ll curb the long winded tendencies of those people who just can’t stop talking.  I’d try to never attend one of those meetings – I’d have a 2:00 that ran really, really long!  But I’m getting off track a bit. 

Hold Non-Sucky Meetings

I’m not saying meetings aren’t helpful or worthwhile - because they can be, but getting everyone together should yield results – not just be a place where everyone gives their progress reports.  That can be done in an email that the micromanaging types can read whenever they want.  Plus it’ll be in writing.  Proof that something was done or will be done or might happen.  If it already happened, then yay you but move on already.  Last week’s sales don’t mean diddly this week. 

If you are the lucky person responsible for meetings then make it worth your time and at least go for interesting and even a bit edgy.  If nothing else, you’re likley to see progress because you’ll snap everyone out of sleepwalking mode.  (Disclaimer: I did have to run these meetings when managing a group of sales folks and I wasn’t always good at it.  Most times, I just wanted to get it overwith like everyone else and then, you know, actually get something done!)

Here’s What I’d Do Now

Talk Big Picture – Lots of companies do this once a year when the bank requires a business plan – and it gets shoved in a drawer never to be seen until it’s time to update it.  Dust that thing off – or if it was crap - talk about Q4.  And remember, this should be interactive – have a real brainstorming session. 

  • List 10 big accounts you want to land by year end.  Then develop a plan to actually DO it!
    Discuss how you can add value to a current service. And add it.
    List ideas for engaging with current clients in a better way.  You can start by asking them.
    Figure out a better way to say ThanksMerryChristmasHappyHolidaysHappyHanukkahHappyNewYear than the usual card and calendar you’ve done lately.  I’m thinking brownies from Sugardaddies.   
    Update your sales literature.  If this sounds overwhelming, start small with one piece.
    Seriously in this day of print on demand, having anything that is out of date in any way just screams lazy and/or cheap.  If your company is pretty traditional – shake things up with a top 10 list, or a clever twist on your FAQ’s.   (Great sales copy is an art, so if your team has good ideas, but no one with sharp writing skills, get an outline together and let me know - I can help – doing it badly is worse than not doing it at all)

If you are in the middle Tennessee area, and would like me to lead a sales meeting, I’m available.  If you’re somewhere near a beach I can work something out! If you’d like to have a planning session so you can amaze and enlighten your salesforce, email me!

I’d love to know how your meetings go – or if you even do such a thing – let’s get more ideas going in the comments.  If you work at home or don’t have a team yet, sign up here for weekly updates.   If you have a big team, you can sign up too!

Is Selling Time On Your Calendar Or Just On Your To Do List?

SoundAdvice Sales Rx:

I often use time on Sunday’s to look forward to the week ahead. You know, plan ahead and make sure I have things like paying bills and sending invoices all done. One thing that I also schedule is sales time.

Income Producing Activity. It’s easy to get busy doing lots of other things. Important things too. It’s not like you’re spending all day sitting on the sofa eating bon bons. But you know how things happen. You really mean to make the phone calls or follow up on your proposals and then you get busy, and then it’s time for lunch and the next thing you know, Monday is pretty much over so you decide to do it the next day. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

So – take the time. Now. Put some sales time on your calendar for whatever your income producing activity is. When you get a new client, or make a sale/sales, you’ll be glad you made time for it.

I’d love to know how you plan your week. It’s nice to share.

Watching QVC Can Make You A Great Sales Person – Really!

I did a sales training event this week with Darrah Courter. We had a great time and I met some great new people.  A point in my presentation was all about the need to talk about your business in terms of benefits to your customer/clients/prospects.   Nothing new about that.  We all nod our heads when we hear it.  Doing it well not as common. We are all so used to talking in terms of what and how but what we really need to share is the why.

Enter QVC.

I love Mike Rowe don’t you? The clip is random mind association about cherubs – and guess what? I’m sure it worked (to some extent) because he’s associating cherubs with angels, hymns, church, children… you get the idea. Well, Mike has moved on to better gigs but there’s a point here – I promise.

How well do you explain your benefits? If you’re like most you can talk forever about what you do, you can give me supporting info to establish credibility (education, certifications) and you can especially tell me HOW you do what you do. Great, you’re qualified. I was already hoping that was the case.

Tell me why I should care. Why does it matter to me? How will buying from or hiring you make your clients happy? How can you make them feel good about themselves?

Today’s Rx: Watch QVC

These people are masters at making people want to buy. Pull out a credit card and call or go online right now and spend. How do they do it? By talking benefits. Developing a narrative and a story that people relate to. Buying a mop is now all about being the best mom, taking care of your kids and keeping the H1N1 out of my home thank you very much.  That collection of flameless candles is a gift that says I’m a good daughter or friend and I care about the people in my life.

Now, I’m not advocating the sometims spammy, pushiness sometimes associated with this medium.  What I do think is helpful is learning how to tell a story about the great benefits people can expect.  Things like saving money, feeling confident, reducing stress, having more time/freedom/money, losing weight, being beautiful.  That’s why people want to spend their money.

Your next Rx: Write down why people want what you have! What’s your narrative? If they can make a mop sound appealing (and they do) you can too!

Let me know what you come up with. I’m here to help if you get stuck along the way!

The Perfect Time to Cold Call or Follow Up Call or Just Say Hi Call

I met with a client this week to talk sales process.  She loves her work, but like so  many didn’t have a sales system that was working for her.  We mapped out a plan that she was excited to implement and we have some short term, do now steps that she could literally implement right away. 

 The conversation turned to a challenge that affects many.  I call it call avoidance – you know you should do it, but you don’t want to.  So instead, you answer emails, clean your desk, work on your expense report – whatever you can think of to stay busy.  And the calls don’t happen.  Then it’s been so long, you dread it.  And another week goes by and you feel even worse. 

 I’m not talking about making calls to people you don’t know, who don’t know you.  I’m talking about calling clients to check in, or following up on a proposal or setting up an appointment that you were asked to do.  Maybe you just need to call a leader in your industry and make a connection, or call someone to say thanks for the nice mention on thier blog or website. 

  The question she asked was, when is the best time to call to reach people?  I realize there are people who have researched this and can tell you that a certain time, on certain days will yield best results.  The problem is, that may not work for me.  Or you.  Or anyone you are calling. 

Call when it works for you.  Guess what?  If you block out an hour 3 days a week to make calls, do it when you want.  When you can focus and feel good about it.  You’ll enjoy it more and your calls will go better.  I know it sounds like one of those mystical-touchy-feely things.  So what?  The right people will answer or get your message.  Plus, the “wrong” time is still 1000% better than never!

I love talking on the phone.  I love making calls more than answering email.  But that’s me.  I helped my client figure out how to look forward to her phone calls.  The right people will answer, voice mail is okay, and geting this task done will make you feel so much better you’ll accomplish more.

Call Rx:  Pull up your calendar and schedule an hour next week that will be your phone call time.  One hour won’t kill you.  I promise.   Let me know how it goes.
Share your phone tips as well – how do you get in phone call mode?

#1 Sales Mistake (We all make) and Rx To Make It Better

This post was originally going to be called 5 Sales Mistakes You Can Stop Making Right Now and the 2 Things You Can Start Doing Instead.   It was getting really long so I decided to break it up into 5 seperate posts.  These topics come up all the time when I’m working with clients. 

Mistake Number 1 – It’s Not About You

 Well meaning but misguided sales people think that selling is about their product or service or company.  It’s not now and it never was.  It’s about the customer.  Always.

No one really cares how long you’ve been in business or the company mission statement.  People are not interested in your degrees or certifications either.  The only thing they want to know is what you can do for them.  It’s so important,I’m going to say it again. 

What can you do for your customers? 
How can you help? 
What problem does your product or service solve? 
What issue can you improve? 
How can you save them money, time or other resources? 

All of your sales conversations (or emails, letters, messages) should be centered around these topics.  Yes, explaining how your products or services work may be important, but ONLY if you can link it to why your client should care.

 Tell me why I should do business with you – based on how I will benefit. 
Here are a few examples: 

Our surround sound systems come with gold plated cables.   Well, that’s nice but it is a feature – an attribute of the product.  The benefit is enjoying crystal clear sound – movie theatre quality at home.  

Our life coaches are certified and have over 7 years of experience.  We follow a 5 step system with metrics for evaluation.   The benefit is a guaranteed way to insure results and an easy to use process.  Years of experience is helpful but only if you can tie it to why it matters to the client.  

We only use the finest ingredients and no preservatives.  Again, this is a feature.  The benefit (why you should care) is healthful food that tastes great. 

Rx:  Write down the 4 or 5 major benefits of your product or service, then convert them into benefit statements. 
This is hard for lots of people.  We are so used to talking about features (the what, the how) and it’s more important to make sure the WHY is clear. 

The primary reason anyone buys anything is because it makes them feel better.  How does your product or service get to that point?  I’d love to hear the benefits you come up with for your business.

Show Me Yours?

www.toothpastefordinner.com

1st Quarter Results 

  Can you believe it?  We’re already through 25% of 2010.   It made me start thinking about how things are going so far.  Like many, I started this year with some well intentioned resolutions, goals and dreams.  I had a plan.  I made lists.  I bought office supplies.  I spent some time getting ready.  I spent more time getting things done.  Taking action. 

Going Public

 Public corporations with shareholders have to publish quarterly reports.  They are required to let those who have a stake know how they did.  What if you had to do that?  Yikes!   What if you had to publish your sales and revenue numbers?  Or the number of new clients?  What about just accounting for your time spent on a project or connections made,  partnerships formed?  What if you had to demonstrate your return on investment? 

 As a small business owner, I am intimately aware of revenue and cash flow.  I have a good bead on my clients and prospects.  I keep track of my sales pipeline – those things are easy for me.   I’ll confess that I didn’t hit my projections for Q1.  I sure don’t want to have to publish my results. 

Size Matters Measurement Matters

  Being accountable, even just to yourself or include your spouse/partner or trusted friend will impact results.  What you measure matters.  If the thought of spreadsheets and bar graphs freak you out, do it your way.  But measure, track and report – even if it’s just for you.  Especially if it’s just for you. 

 Rx: Suggestions for Q2

 Post your revenue goal on your desk or calendar or iphone.  Anywhere you’ll see it every day.  
 Break it down, so you know how much you need to sell each day, or by units sold or number of clients registered.  What works   in your business?
Pick one or two next steps and commit to making them happen in Q2.  Break it into 12 steps – 1 for each week of the quarter.
Ask someone to be your accountability partner.  Report to them weekly with your progress. 

Do you have another way to track your progress? 
Do you publish your own quarterly report?  I’d love to hear how it works for you. 
How can I help you stay on track?

Sales Rx: When You Don’t Know What To Do

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What To Do When Bad Things Happen
Owning a business means you’re juggling lots of things. There are so many challenges and priorities, it’s often hard to see when things get slightly off track. Sometimes, things aren’t broken or in need of repair so much as a cry for attention.
Then IT happens. A competitor lands the account or gets the great partnership that you wanted. Or you find out that someone with less experience is charging 3 times what you charge.  It’s enough to make you want to scream and then find someone or something to blame. Before you do anything drastic hold up and let’s think this through.

You will be okay.
Small business owners tend to live and breathe work. If you lose a deal, or find out that the newbie got your well deserved recognition, it’s critical to your sanity that you don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean you aren’t liked or that people hate you. It may mean they don’t know you as well as they should, or that you aren’t highlighting your success for all the world to see.
Life isn’t always fair.   Now is the time to focus on what you can control.  Ready to tackle this, feel better and move on? Great! Grab a pen and paper to make some old school notes and get going.

Rx: Profile, Pricing or Performance
Profile: Are you and your business or organization the best kept secret around? Are you doing amazing work or have the best product but only a handful know how awesome you are? Take time to evaluate the way you communicate to current customers and prospects as well. Make sure you regularly update your info to reflect the great accomplishments for your company and most importantly for your customers.

Pricing: Does your price structure represent the value you offer? There’s a psychology regarding pricing that is based on our need to assign value – and reward those who deliver it. The fact is that we value the $200. pair of jeans over the $20. pair even though the raw materials are similar. Should you improve your value or offer and increase your pricing? Higher margins can mean better relationships with a smaller number of clients while seeing a rise in revenue.

Performance is the great equalizer. If you deliver and you know you bring amazing value to your clients, then it’s also your responsibility to let those who need what you offer know about it. It’s also expected that you charge for it, based on the value your clients can expect to receive. If you know you over deliver, it’s also your mission to make sure that becomes part of your message.

Action is the magic pill!
If you are delivering great value to your customers without the expected results in revenue, apply attention to your “problem” area. The magic is in the action! Clarify your target market and identify irresistible benefits that you are uniquely positioned to offer. It really can be that easy. Let me know what you come up with – or how I can help. What obstacles get in the way?