The paperclips didn't need a sales pitch. Neither do your clients.


It's Not Net Sit, It's Not Net Eat, It's NetWORK

by Admin 21. October 2011 18:14

Question of the Day
I enjoy reading your column as a marketer and small business owner I appreciate all of your good advice.  Have you ever addressed the issue of getting buyers, or your potential decision makers, to answer your phone calls or emails? One of the most frustrating parts of my business is connecting with a potential customer and then they never return calls or emails. Any suggestions? At what point do you stop trying to connect? Example, several weeks ago I was at a networking event and a woman gave me her card and said to call her to set up a meeting, we spoke at length and she was very interested in my services. I called she suggested we get together the first of April and gave me a list of questions I needed to be ready to answer. First week of April I contacted her she said call her April 8th, on April 8th she said call her the 15th...etc, until a week ago when her assistant said she will call you back, of course no call. I am sure I am not the only one who experiences this. Your thoughts?


Well first of all Joan congratulations on networking. That is of course your best opportunity for you to find opportunities. When you speak to someone at a networking function you always want to ask about them first. The questions I recommend asking to everyone you meet are;

“What do you do?"

“How long have you been doing it?"

“What do you like about it?"

And “What is a good referral for you?"

The reason these questions are good is because networking is not just about you it is about learning about the other person. You are not trying to sell, you are trying to learn to see if you can help them and potentially build a “strategic alliance”(a strategic alliance is someone you build a relationship with to try to help refer business to each other).

There are times when someone will say, “Hey you sell web design, our company really needs a new web site, why don’t you call." Then you call the next day and leave message upon message and nothing happens. People are willing to say lots of things to be “nice." In a networking environment, people often think of themselves being in a somewhat social atmosphere so people say what they might socially with not a lot of meaning.

I recommend when someone does approach you about your product or service, always pull-back a bit. What I mean by that is if someone says they need a new web site, say to them, “wow you guys are a very well known company, I can’t imagine you need help with your web site?”. You will either hear something like, “well, you never know…” which means there is really no need they are just being nice or they might say, “ no we really have been looking into updating ours. We really don’t know what we need but we talked about making some real changes”. I would ask a few more questions to pre-qualify that this is real and say, “ Well if you want to sit and talk a little about what your needs are, I would be more then willing to learn more about what you need to see if I can help. What do you think?”.

It is important to pre-qualify any opportunity to see if it really is one. Pulling back with a few “take-away” questions with assure one way or the other if it is a true prospect or not.

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Why Fishing and Sales are Similar

by GSchulz 30. March 2011 23:47

Being the fun-loving Floridian that I am, I absolutely love to fish! A couple weekends ago, my husband and I were out in the boat with a friend of his that happened to be a novice fisherman. Peter and I were determined to teach him the ropes.

After watching him fish for the first half of the day, I figured out what he was doing wrong. Every time he saw that he was getting a nibble, he immediately jerked the line to attempt to catch the fish. What he didn’t realize was that when he jerked the line, he was yanking the bait out of the fish’s mouth. Every real fisherman knows that when you see you’re getting a nibble, you have to let the line out a little bit in order to really allow the fish to get a hold of the bait. Then when the next nibble comes, let the line out even more to really let him grab on. Finally, when you get a really big bite, you can jerk the line, hook the fish, and reel him in.

As I was explaining all of this to Peter’s friend, I couldn’t help but to see the similarities between fishing and sales. Think about it…in fishing, the first nibble isn’t the time to reel the fish in. In sales, the first time you speak with a prospect and he shows a little interest, you can’t expect you’re going to close the deal right then and there. Just like in fishing, you have to tease your prospect a tiny bit by “letting the line out” slowly. And when the prospect bites hard, you reel in the deal.

To better understand this concept, let’s look at an example. Sue with ABC Company is meeting with James of XYZ Company to discuss potential business. When Sue begins to recommend which of her products would be best for James, he retorts with a quick “you know, I think what you’re saying might be great, but I think the company that I’m with now has a product that better fits me.”

Instead of assuming that James is 100% happy with his current company and has no interest in making a change, Sue should let the proverbial line out a little bit and reply “You know, maybe you’re right. If they have a product that better suits you, maybe you should stay with them.”

“Well, I do like the complementary products you offer, but I’m just not sure,” James says.

“We do have some great complementary products, but do you really think that if you’re not happy with the primary product that we offer, you’d be happy with us in the long run? Maybe it would be better for you to just stick with the company you’re with.”

Finally, James replies, “No. You know what, I really admire your honesty and I feel like your company is the better fit for me. How do we get started?”

The moral of the story Sue didn’t immediately give her entire “we’re great, we’re wonderful, switch to us” spiel when James showed his first bit of interest. Instead, she continued to go negative and push James away, helping him self-realize that ABC Company was the better fit for him. People don’t believe what we tell them, they believe what we ask them. If Sue were to come straight out and tell James that her products and company were the better fit for him, do you think he’d believe her? No! Sue had to help James realize for himself that ABC Company was the better fit.

So the next time your prospect starts to go negative by saying they’re not sure your company is right for them, go MORE negative. GO FISH! Let your line out! Once you get a big enough bite, hook that prospect and reel in a client!

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Business Planning that Helps Generate Sales

by GSchulz 15. March 2011 22:46

Businesses are failing daily — not because business owners didn’t start a viable business or because of a weak economy — but because of a lack of planning. That’s right — PLANNING! I’m talking about the kind of planning that it takes to generate sales.

Many a business owner has started out with talent and an idea about bringing a product or service to the marketplace. Along with the skill related to the product or service there is the initial plan to finance (usually under-finance) advertising, direct mail and/or public relations along with a spreadsheet of projected sales for growing the business. Then there is the task of either hiring a sales force or having the owner(s) wear the sales hat. Either one can be the formula for short-term death without a “Working Sales Plan”.

A great quote I heard is from the book The E Myth. This means the entrepreneurial myth. Here’s what happens. Someone says, “I really love to cook and I am going to open a catering company”. Then that person has “an entrepreneurial seizure” and think because uncle Joe always compliments her pies and all of her friends ask for her recipes that she’s got the makings of a business. Wrong! remember that your product or service is merely the venue you use to make money in your business. Working on your business is the most important thing you can do, not working in it. What does that mean? Stop cooking and start marketing and planning how the pies are going to get sold!

Here are some basics that you need to be able to answer before you open those doors.

Profile. What should your customers look like? If you already have an existing business, then what are the character traits that make up your current customers? To identify your customer base, you want to recognize things like type of business, industry, size of business, potential buying power, number of employees and the like.

Categorize. Breaking your customer base into somewhere between 2 and 4 categories can help to eliminate putting all of your eggs in one basket. These categories can be based upon size of business, amount of business conducted with your company, type of business, etc. The idea is to develop a modular plan for each category of business.

Establish a mix of categories that matches up to your spreadsheet projections. It is not unusual for a business owner to start a business with a customer already in place. Often the business is totally dependent upon this initial customer; and the bigger and better this customer is, the easier it is to be busy and get comfortable with the instant success of a new business. The message here is to build a strong foundation of customers so that no single customer keeps you in business nor puts you out of business.

Map out your plan. Since most people are dominantly visual, it is advisable to develop a visual road map so that you can see where you have to go and where you are along the way at any point. This method helps you to identify if you are spending your time in the wrong places.

Be willing to DREAM. What would it be like if you could move time ahead by one year and look back upon the previous year? You can. In fact, if I asked you to pretend that 365 days had already expired and you had just completed a very successful year in your business, could you tell me what made that year successful? Now you have the beginnings of your next year’s “Working Sales Plan”. The more detail you can identify, the stronger you can make your plan. I have many a client that I ask what is going to make them different? how will they be successful? I worry when the answer is, “because we’re the best” or “we have great customer service”. My answer is,”and…?” Who cares if you have the greatest widget ever made? Is McDonalds the best hamburger?

Above you have the five elements of building a “Working Sales Plan”. The two most important elements necessary to make the plan a success are Commitment and Desire. Desire means the hunger to really want to be successful. Not, “oh that would be nice” or “I hope” but a burning desire to make it happen. The second is to be committed to do whatever it takes to get there, WHATEVER IT TAKES!! I will talk about these elements next month.

So you don’t have a plan? and how’s that working for you?

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Salespeople Born or Made?

by GSchulz 8. March 2011 20:33

Are salespeople born or made? This is a question I hear a lot. The answer is surprisingly, “made,” but there are characteristics that help catapult success in sales. The characteristics are not what you would think.

First and foremost, the two most important things that you can’t do without are commitment and desire. Desire to be successful and commitment to do whatever it takes to get there. That being said, the other characteristics necessary for a salesperson to be successful influence their ability to sell, and they are based on beliefs.

  1. Takes Personal Responsibility. Someone who lacks this trait believes that there is someone else to blame (the prospect, the competition, the economy) for his or her lack of success. They have an answer for everything, and an external explanation for why they didn’t get the business. What to ask to test this trait? “If the economy shifts downward 15-20 percent, and your goals were based on last year’s figures, how should your goal numbers change?”
  2. Has the Ability to Control Emotions. Someone who lacks this trait will take things that the prospect says personally. They will become excitable with comments made by the prospect. They do a lot of defending instead of becoming a “third party” and finding out why the prospect said what they did. What do you ask to test this trait? “If a prospect says they are unwilling to work with us because of a past bad experience, knowing the company is different now and has corrected the problem, what would you do?”
  3. The Way Your Salesperson Makes Their Own Purchases. Yep. This is a big factor in the way that person will sell. A salesperson that comparison-shops will empathize with prospects that do the same. Typically, this person will not only comparison-shop for an item, their #1 factor in getting a “good deal” is the lowest cost. This is trouble. How do you test this trait? Simply ask,” When you are shopping for a large purchase, what is your process like?”

There are a whole bunch of others, but these are pretty interesting because most employers look for “someone outgoing, a real ‘people person.’ ” Not only is this what not to look for, these characteristics can hurt you because the underlying beliefs are unknown.

So, here’s how the ideal salesperson should look in these categories;

  1. Takes Personal Responsibility. They shouldn’t. Not at all. Here’s why. When the economy is good, salespeople are often “order takers” and not true salespeople. Sales have come easy and they have forgotten, or never had, real selling ability. They need to find a way to make it happen, not accept external factors to blame. I wonder how your mortgage company would feel about the explanation, “the economy is down so I will only be paying you 80% from now on.” Let me know how that one goes!
  2. Has the Ability to Control Emotions. Find out why and what happened. The wrong answer begins with, “yeah but…” Defending something not only doesn’t work, it doesn’t get to the real problem. For that, you must ask the right question and dig deeper.
  3. The Way Your Salesperson Makes His or Her Own Purchases. Their process should include things like, “decide what I want, go to one or two stores, and buy the item that day.” Why is this important? The more research they do and the more comparison-shopping they do will override what you teach them about getting a commitment from their prospect. Their belief of having to look around and compare will kick-in and they will of course empathize with the prospect who says, “this looks good, but I will need to look at a few other proposals.” Translation: “I am not interested in yours.”

So, no matter how friendly and outgoing someone is, don’t confuse that with characteristics of a good salesperson. If they have some of the above characteristics, they can be taught, even if they are quiet and reserved.

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hiring | sales calls

A CEO Perspective - Hiring Sales People and Simple Math

by GSchulz 16. February 2011 23:01

Are my salespeople the best they can be? Are they doing all they can do? These are questions I often hear from CEO’s and Executives in the business world. When I ask them what they’re doing now, they refer to their revenue. Beautiful, but how do you know that they are long term, A-players? Are they executing the correct behaviors to grow your business in the long term, or are they just collecting “low hanging fruit” for today?

Complete this simple exercise and calculate how much profit improvement potential exists within your sales force. Ask yourself these four questions:

  1. a) On average, how many new prospect contacts does my average seller make a month? b) How many would the ideal, “A-Player” sales person make?
  2. a) On average, what is the closing ratio (%) of my average seller? b) What would it be for an “A-Player?”
  3. a) On average, what’s the dollar value of an average sale for my average seller? b) What would it be for an “A-Player?”
  4. a) What is the total number of people in your sales force? b) How many “A-Players” do you have now in your sales force?
Now complete the following simple math to examine existing sales force:
  1. Subtract (4a)-(4b). This represents your “talent-gap.”
  2. Multiply (1a) x (2a) x (3a). This represents the “old-you.”
  3. Multiply (1b) x (2b) x (3b) x (4b) x (12 months). This is how much incremental revenue you could book in 2005, simply by raising your expectations. Staggering isn’t it?

So how do you get these results? Raising your performance expectations demands improvement from your sales team in three areas, and from you in one: For your team:

  • Your sellers must be more effective at prospecting. That means creating a prospecting plan and holding them to it. That means ‘calling high’ in your prospect’s organizations. That means creating and delivering a compelling message about the problems you can solve for your prospects. That means planting their feet and getting appointments instead of just sending literature.
    1. Your sellers must also understand the process and skill of true networking. I don?t mean going through the motions of showing up at an event, with drink in hand, while only speaking to friends and colleagues that you already know. That means having a plan and a goal before you walk in and not leaving without it being completed.
    2. Your sellers must improve their closing ratios. That means learning how to listen to a prospect’s real problems. That means getting your prospects to discover your company is worth a premium. That means getting prospects to make and keep commitments. That means delivering powerful, moving presentations that hit your prospects’ real needs, every time. That also means your sellers stop wasting time with people who are not going to do business with them.
    3. Your sellers must raise the amount of money they ask for. That means calling on larger prospects. That means eliminating discounting. That means giving your price, at your terms, and having your customers delighted to give it to you.

    The commitment that you, as CEO, must make is this: You must do whatever it takes to eliminate the status quo in your sales force. If you don’t have the best, develop those that aren’t, or replace them with those that are.

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