1. November 2013 02:47
When I go anywhere -- a lunch, a networking event, a fundraiser -- people are constantly giving me business cards, sometimes even before they say "hello." We put so much emphasis on these 2-by-3 cards -- and for what? Do you think it's going to sell for you? Have you experienced the people who hand out so many cards that you want to know where they get them printed so you can buy stock?We also get this question from lots of our clients: "What title should we put on our salespersons' business cards? If we want them to be consultants, we should say consultant. Or how about account manager?" I shake my head. They don't get it. Who cares? It's how you act, not what you say on your card, that makes you a salesperson or a consultant.While we're on the subject, let's address business cards in general. I don't think the format has been changed in 100 years. Ask yourself, when you look for a business card, what are you looking for 90 percent of the time? You know, so just say it: It's the phone number.Let's start from the top. First and foremost, you should have a logo or name of your company on the card. Top left corner or across the top is fine. No need to scream across the card what your company name is. Don't worry, we can see it.Second, your name. Let's make it legible and large enough to read. This is one of the most important things on your card. Let's remember that.Third, the phone number. Why we put the most important thing on the card in 6-point type that even with my granny glasses (no snickering) I still can't see is beyond me. Make it easy to see. Big, bold, green ... something.Finally, the fax number. When was the last time you pulled out a business card to fax something? You didn't. You spoke to the person on the phone and they asked you to fax something, at which point you asked for their fax number. So leave it out.Business cards are what we hand out after we have a conversation with someone, not before, so force yourself to engage in conversation with someone first. Ask about their business, what they do, how long they've been doing it, etc. Don't just hand out a card. Build relationships first by asking good questions.Try this: Pretend your business card is worth $100. If it were, you would make sure you didn't just give it out like food samples in the grocery store. You would first see if there's value. This mindset will force you to engage in conversation with people and begin to form a relationship with them through learning about them, not "telling" them about you, especially through the use of a business card. Isn't this what you are really looking for anyway?
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19. August 2013 05:12
In today’s world of sales, it can be tough to get in front of prospects. You call someone, only to get a gatekeeper that has all the power and won’t give you any. They either tell you the prospect – who is often sitting right there – isn’t in, or take your name and have him/her call you back, which rarely happens. This frustration continues until you finally give up and try another and another until you finally just say “uncle.”As I’ve said many times, networking and building relationships are the strongest ways to get referred to a new prospect. There are, of course, those cases that you’ve tried your connections with networking, spoken to associates to get referred in – and nothing. You try to reach the prospect on the phone and, with all of today’s technology, it sometimes feels near impossible to get through.To me, differentiating yourself is the key. If you do what every other salesperson does, you will be treated like every other salesperson. You need to be unique and different to pull away from the pack. But how?Every salesperson is trying to find new ways to diversify strategies. While researching new ways to engage prospects, I stumbled upon a great new way to do this that includes charity and ingenuity. It’s called Complete the Pair. Complete the Pair has teamed up with Soles4Souls in an effort to help donate shoes to needy people, as well as help you stand out among your competition.Here is how it works: When you place an order, one shoe is mailed to you the other to your sales prospect. Both shoes come with instructions on how to register its unique code online at www.completethepair.com. When the prospect registers their shoe, it shows whom the other shoe is registered to – that’s you – and allows you to get valuable face time. Once you two have met, you send the completed pair back to CTP headquarters in the prepaid shipping bag. From there, the bag is sent to Soles4Souls. Once it is at Soles4Souls, it will be sent to one of many countries where shoes are in high demand for those too poor to afford their own.I’m all about being different. Whatever other salespeople are doing, do something else. This is pretty cool and, I must say, well thought out. On top of it all, if you can help someone in need at the same time, it doesn’t get any better then that.Complete the Pair is a fun and unique way to get valuable face-to-face interaction with a potential client while also giving back. If you are interested in checking it out, visit www.completethepair.com.
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6. August 2013 02:42
Ashley, a sales representative for a regional software company, makes several calls a week to new potential prospects to request a meeting to demonstrate her product. She gets lots of voice mails, speaks to lots of gatekeepers and sends a lot of emails with no response.Every once in a while — statistically five out of 100 — she will reach a potential prospect live. When she does, she is so excited that she doesn’t even recognize the excuse.There are several excuses that a prospect will give a salesperson. What is most interesting is that the salesperson will likely not see them as excuses and believe them.There are some examples that are almost always an excuse and not the truth.Let’s look at them one by one.The excuse: “Why don’t you send me/email me something.”The translation: “It’s easier to ignore you through email.”If this prospect were truly interested, she would take at least a few minutes and talk to the salesperson right then, just to determine if there is a need.The excuse: “I’m in a meeting.”The translation: “I have no time to talk and I’m hoping this illusion of interruption will get you off the phone quickly.”I love this one. So, you are in an actual meeting in your office, you don’t know who’s calling, but you pick up the phone anyway? Seriously? Salespeople fall for this one all of the time. At this point, the salesperson keeps calling, but the prospect now knows the phone number through caller ID and will just avoid the call.The excuse: “We don’t have a budget/money at this time.”The translation: “I just don’t see the benefit, and having no money will make you go away, at least for a while.”Money is an interesting thing. People will find money for what they determine will bring them value. We often blow this one by trying to quickly show how our product will save them/make them money. The response: Yeah, right! It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not; you can’t shove your idea of value down a throat on a phone call.The excuse: “Call me after the third quarter.”The translation: “Wow! I just put you off for a few months.”Salespeople like this one because it gives them something they can follow up on — at least in their mind. This is where follow-up, in my opinion, becomes stalking. The salesperson keeps calling when this date arrives, and the prospect will not even remember she told you to call, let alone meant it when she said it.I say gee, thank you so much for allowing me to check back! You must really like me/be interested, etc. Yeah, right.The excuse: “I’ll think it over and let you know.”The translation: “I have no intention of reaching back out to you, but I asked for the next move to be done by me.”This is no move, but salespeople happily agree and wait and wait. What’s funny is they would rather take any of these excuses than hear whatever the real truth is — most commonly a no.If we, as salespeople, could get comfortable with asking right up front for a “no” as an option, we wouldn’t be wasting so much time, energy and our control of the sales process.
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1. July 2013 07:11
Ryan, a software sales rep, had been having a rough day. He’d been bombarded with questions from several customers and gotten behind on work he needed to finish before the end of the day.Then, he got a call from Wayne, a prospect who introduced himself by saying: “I’ve heard great things about your engineering software package. I saw a demo about a year ago, and was not in a position to purchase it at the time. But since then, it’s become very apparent that I need to integrate it into my system.”“Wow,” Ryan thought. “This will be easy. It’s about time something went right today.”Then, Wayne said: “I need to know about the cost, the tech support and how soon it can be installed.”Ryan immediately went into his pitch. He discussed tech support in detail, covered availability and other options, and explained that the price was $12,000, with 30-day terms.Wayne’s response was unexpected. He said that $12,000 was quite a hefty price tag and he needed a couple of days to think about all of this more carefully. He’d call Ryan back next week.Ryan did a double take. “What just happened?” he thought. “This sale was in the bag, a sure thing. He really needs it and now he’s thinking it over? He said he needed the software right away.” And that was the end of the call.So, what happened? Ryan got lazy, plain and simple. He thought Wayne was sold. All he had to do was give him the information he needed, then write it up. He got fooled into assuming the sale without doing the work. He never got Wayne to talk about why he was looking now, with what seemed to be a real priority about buying the software. The entire transaction was conducted at the intellectual level, without any real understanding of the true need.So, what happened? Ryan was lured into taking shortcuts. He mistakenly thought the prospect’s enthusiasm was as sure as a sale. No matter. You need the time to qualify the prospect and make sure he’s real before giving out information or making your presentation.In Ryan’s case, a couple of questions would have made a world of difference. He might have said: “Before we discuss pricing, help me understand why this software is so important. I want to make sure the application is correct for you. Would you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”Of course, you’re digging in to find out what is really going on. It is so important to gather this information before you discuss price so you can truly have an understanding of not only why they want the software, but the consequence of not installing it.Once you give away your information – whether on the phone, in a presentation or in the form of a proposal – you have given up any form of control and are literally at the mercy of the prospect.Remember: It’s not about the sale; it’s about the process.Greta Schulz is a sales consultant for businesses and entrepreneurs. For more sales training tips and tools, or to ask her a question, go to www.schulzbusiness.com or email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
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31. May 2013 06:28
Grant is a longtime client and a friend. He owns a small products company. He asked me to assess and interview “a friend of a friend” who he is considering for a sales job. I sent the assessment to Steve, and he completed it quickly. When I looked at it, he scored high is all of the areas that would make him good for a service job, but for the type of sales Grant – and, frankly, most sales organizations – needs, he was not a fit.I spoke to Grant about this, and he said: “Can you talk to him anyway? I think you’ll really like him.”That is probably the thing I hear the most from directors and CEOs alike: “But he’s a really good guy; just talk to him.”If I had a dollar for every time I heard that and the candidate was not a fit, I would be living on the beach, enjoying a margarita.I called Steve and spoke to him for quite a while. Actually he spoke to me – frankly, at me – for quite a while. Yes, Steve was certainly a nice guy, friendly, outgoing. He had the gift of gab, which is quite the opposite of what I look for in a sales professional.What I thought was funny: He said he took an online career survey that said he would be good at sales. He also explained that, when he asked people who knew him best, they all said he was a natural salesperson. That’s another quip I hear all of the time.The truth about sales is that most people have no idea what makes a good salesperson. The common belief is if you have a good personality, are outgoing and likable, you would be good at sales. Honestly, that is far from the truth. Years ago and in certain situations, this may have worked. For example, when the economy was rockin’ and you were selling a product that everyone needed anyway and prices were fairly consistent and it was just a matter of who to get it from, maybe this would work.Today, we need to be more skilled, more resourceful and much more consultative to persuade.Some things to look for when hiring;Preparation. Professional salespeople don’t just rely on a good personality to get the sale. They research the organization and develop good, thought-provoking questions to ask.Digging deeper. When professional salespeople get the answers to the questions they are asking, they don’t immediately flip into the selling mode. Top sales professionals take the answers to these questions and dig deeper for full understanding before they recommend anything.Always know the next step. Professionals know that the sale is nothing without having a clear next step. Not just a follow-up call, but a true understanding of what the next step is, and when it will occur.Toughness. Ultimately top sales professionals are tough. Yes, they can be friendly and outgoing, but more importantly: Can they stand their ground when the prospect throws them a curveball? Throw them a curveball and find out. I recommend saying something like: “I’ve interviewed several people that have the same experience as you. Why should I hire you over them?”It’s important to put prospective hires in a situation similar to one they will be in when selling. Put a little pressure on them. Don’t sell them on working for your company; make them sell you and see how they do. That is their job.Greta Schulz is a sales consultant for businesses and entrepreneurs. For more sales training tips and tools, or to ask her a question, go to www.schulzbusiness.com or email@example.com.
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