Sales and Sales Management Blog

November 28, 2006

Can You Live Through a Merger?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 1:03 pm

Trying to maintain a sales force and live through a merger can be one of the most trying times a sales manager faces. Unless the merger team does an exceptional job of keeping employees of both companies well informed with straight, accurate information–which they seldom do–you’ll find many members of your team beginning to get “happy feet” and start looking for alternative employment. You may even find yourself gravitating toward the same position.

To some extent, this inclination to assume the worst and think about going elsewhere is natural. Yet, you, as manager, must be able to take a hard, realistic look at the situation and communicate all that you know–or believe you have reason to suspect–to your sales team. Even if that might cost you personnel. Having lived through mergers, I’m well aware of the pressure on you to maintain or increase production, continue recruiting and hold the line on costs during a time when many, if not most, are wondering if they will have a job in the future.

Of course, many companies want to keep negative news quite as long as possible–not wanting the individuals marked for exit until the company is ready for them to go. Most of the time if a lay-off is coming, that news will not be relayed to you until the last second. But most of the time you’ll see unmistakable signs. You’ll see a new emphasis placed in areas where it wasn’t before; you’ll find you’re cut off from information; you may find that tools and/or resources are withdrawn. Any of these should cause you to question. They aren’t guaranteed indicators of a negative change, but they should cause you to ask questions and investigate.

If you do come to a reasoned belief that members of your team are going to be let go, I believe you have a moral obligation to let them at least know that is a real possibility. Giving your team members the opportunity to prepare is the least you can do–even if your company won’t. Fortunately, it is more and more rare for major companies not to give their employees reasonable notice, but this can still be an issue in small to mid-size firms.

As a sales manager, you are fortunate to be in an area that has the greatest chance of gaining from a merger. Very often mergers, even though negative for other areas of the company, can be tremendously positive for the sales force. New resources, new products, a new emphasis on sales is most often the result, not downsizing. But if you do find yourself in the position of knowing that people will lose their positions, you must give them as much fair warning as you can. And remember, in those situations, it may be you also on the chopping block. You have a moral obligation, as does your company, not to take advantage of those under you. As an ethical manager, if you must choose between following a company line you know is morally wrong or putting yourself at risk, I hope you make the decision to a responsible manager.

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November 25, 2006

Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals Workbook

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 8:45 pm

I am pleased to announce that the Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals Workbook is now available at Mobipocket/Amazon and most other on-line ebook sellers. Currently the book is on sale at $9.95–that’s 25% off the cover price as a special new release offer.

The workbook is intended to be a pratical application companion to the book, but could be used as a stand-alone instruction book. The workbook is packed with dozens of proven, effictive client referral letters, client referral emails and letters to clients seeking additional referrals. Also, the book has sections dealing with referral selling scripts for different occasions, how to overcome referral objections, how to negotiate for additional referrals, how to use a referral tree and other tools. In addition to the foregoing, there are several articles exploring various areas of referral selling.

Purchases can be made through a link at Power Referral Selling or directly at Mobipocket/Amazon

November 24, 2006

A Realtor’s Prospecting Question

Filed under: prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 8:11 am

Andy, a Realtor in Washington, e-mailed with a request to give him some additional ideas about prospecting for both listings and buyers. Andy is a new Realtor and has been doing some farming are mass mailing of postcards, but says his success to date has been minimal. Although he likes the concepts in Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income and wants to become a referral-based salesperson, he doesn’t believe he can rely only on referrals at this point.

Andy, you’re right. At this point in your career, you cannot rely strictly on referrals. As a matter of fact, despite the impression a few have gotten from the book, I don’t advocate anyone ever stop looking for non-referred prospects. You want as many referred and non-referred prospects as you can get. The difference is that eventually the vast majority of your best prospects will come from referrals.

Many of the traditional prospecting methods used in the real estate industry work well–they’ve stood the test of time. Buy most of these work slowly. Farming is a long-term commitment–it is also fairly costly. Mass mailing to areas outside your farm is also long-term and costly. As a matter of fact, I’m sure you’re finding there isn’t an overnight method of generating a large number of prospects. Unfortunately, when you start out in any business the ramp-up is time consuming. It takes work and dedication. Let me add a couple of other ways to generate great prospects. Both of these methods also take time to realize their full effect. But these methods will prove to be much more profitable, long-term, than farming, calling on FISBO’s and the other methods you are currently employing.

Become an recoginized expert on the neightborhoods in your marketing area. Study evey little detail and every little demographic and then begin offering to give talks a service clubs, chamber meetings and any other group you can get in front of about the changing nature of your neighborhoods. After a while of studying you’ll know the up and coming neighborhoods, those that are in decline, those where great housing values lie, and those that are about to change from residential to commercial. Within a few months as your database of knowledge about the various neighborhoods increases and you give more and more talks, you’ll become the “go to” guy. When people begin to think about moving, when commercial builders think about building, when developers think about developing and when sellers begin to think about selling, they’ll come to Andy first to get the lowdown on what’s what in local real estate. You’ve positioned yourself as the expert and people will start seeking out your knowledge and expertise–both for information and to help them buy or sell properties.

Second, form marketing partnerships. This isn’t just you and a mortgage guy swapping leads. A true marketing partnership is a group of professionals–two or more, usually three to five, who band together to do full-fledged marketing and promotion. In your case it might be a mortgage person, a title company, a home center, and an insurance company. Marketing and promotional materials are created that present a unified marketing campaign. Each member of the partnership is committed to selling the group. It is a unified whole. This doesn’t mean that you don’t continue to market on your own. It means that a portion of your marketing is dedicated to the group. In a large metropolitian area you might have two or three marketing partnerships. Again, this is not an overnight solution. But it is a big payoff solution. The secret to creating a successful partnership is to select partners that already have the reputation and sales volume you want. You want to build your reputation and your business off of theirs. This means that not only must you be very selective in your selection of partners, but you must be willing to bring something to the table that interests them–and that is usually either money for marketing or a lot of hard work to market the team. Since you need them more than they need you, you have to be creative in finding ways to appeal to them. But if you can, you can see a steady stream of great prospects in a relatively short period of time.

Then, of course, you turn your new clients into referral sources using the techniques and strategies in Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income. Re-read the chapter in the book about marketing partnerships and begin to build one or two. Take the top two or three booming neighborhoods in your market, along with the top two or three declining neighborhoods and study them in minute detail. Then move on to two or three more. Learn everything about them and start talking to groups about the changes in your city. This time next year, Andy will be the man in town when it comes to where to move.

November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 9:27 am

I just want to take a minute on this day of Thanksgiving to thank all of the salespeople, managers, corporate executives, the good folks a Wiley and Sons, especially my editor, Matt Holt, the others in the business who have helped me, and my wonderful wife, Debbie, for all of the support, encouragement and aid they’ve given. This has been a pretty amazing year while the book Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income has been in production. Thanks to all. Next year is going to be an even more exciting year. I wish all well and hope that the coming year will be everyone’s best year yet.

November 20, 2006

Named to Top Sales Newsletters subscription site

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 12:52 pm

The “Top Sales Newsletters” site has named my POWER SELLING newsletter a “Top” sales and sales training newsletter and has posted it on their site along with several other top sales newsletters by top trainers such as Dave Anderson, Jill Konrath, Dan Seidman and others.

The site is designed so that you can subscribe to anywhere from one to ten of the best sales and sales training newsletters by filling out a single, two line form. The site address is http://www.topsalesnewsletters.com.

These are some of the best trainers and newsletters in the marketplace of sales ideas today. If you are looking for an easy way to subscribe to newsletters offering the best training, techniques and strategies, no matter what your area of sales need (these trainers cover everything from prospecting, to marketing, to cold calling, to leadership and everything in between) head on over and subscribe.

November 18, 2006

Is It Really Too Hard to Get Referrals?

Filed under: prospecting — Paul McCord @ 7:23 am

Allison from Baltimore e-mailed me after reading Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals and said that the book actually discouraged her. She wants to know if it is really necessary to do all of the things in the book just to get referrals.

Allison, the book is very detailed and lays out a systematic process that generates a large number of referrals from almost every client and prospect. As you pointed out in your e-mail, just “doing a good job and asking for referrals” doesn’t work very well. You admit that you get an occasional referral or two and sometimes, not often, they actually turn into sales, but most of the “referrals” you get are junk.

Let’s start by looking at why that approach doesn’t work. When you “do a good job and ask for referrals” you are actually creating a number of problems. First, you’ve put your client in a position where they haven’t had an opportunity to think about it. You’ve put them on the spot and most clients can’t just come up with good names in 15 seconds. Second, because many clients will not have anticipated your request, they may well feel like they’ve been “set-up” and resent the request. Third, they don’t have a sufficient reason to give you good referrals. And, fourth, even if they wanted to give you a good referral, they don’t know what a good referral for you is. Consequently, seldom do you get a large number of referrals, much less good referrals.

The process laid out in Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income is specificially designed to eliminate these shortcomings. The process accomplishes: informing your client up-front that you are a referral-based salesperson; that you will expect referrals once the sale is complete; defining for your client exactly what a referral for you is; agreeing with the client on exactly how many referrals the client will give; exactly why it is in your client’s best interest to give you referrals; and exactly what you are going to do to earn those referrals.

This is a substantial list and it does take time and effort to accomplish all of these items. This isn’t something that is done in two minutes. Furthermore, you must remind your client throughout the course of the sales process that they will be giving you quality referrals. Naturally, all of this involves time and effort. But the payoff is well worth it. If you made 7 sales during the course of the month and each of your clients gives you 5 quality referrals, that’s 35 referrals. If you close 40% of those, that’s 14 sales, or two months worth of your current production. Let’s assume you only get half those numbers. You still have 7 sales–your current monthly production, but you haven’t had to spend 70-80% of your time prospecting.

But guess what? You also have a past client database to go mine. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of referrals locked up in it.

No one is saying that you’ll become a referral only salesperson overnight. It takes time and practice to master the techniques and strategies in Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income. But they work and they work like no other prospecting method there is. Within months you’ll be done with most of your standard prospecting methods. I encourage you to invest the time and effort to become a referral-based salesperson. No, it isn’t overnight and isn’t “easy.” If it were, every salesperson would be doing it.

November 17, 2006

The Need to Act Quickly

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 1:35 pm

A very recent incident in my office reminded me of the need to act quickly when an employee steps out of line. One of my employees, while having a bad day, made some uncalled for comments to one of our vendors. Her words were bad enough, but her tone of voice was even worse.

Discipline within the organization is subject that needs to be ever on your mind. The way your employees treat their fellow employees, vendors, customers and others have a very direct bering on your business, your paycheck and your health. This unfortunate incident brought that home again.

Her disciple was quick and stiff. In the past she has been a model employee and termination wasn’t called for, but a swift and difinitive response was. I sincerely doubt I’ll have another issue with her–and hopefully with none of my other employees. Her example was sufficient enough to redirect anyone who might have had an inclination to step out of line.

Be mindful of the folks that work for you and remember, the one you least expect it can be the one who destroys your business.

November 15, 2006

Year End Training

Filed under: prospecting — Paul McCord @ 3:33 pm

Have you given serious consideration to what your sales team will be doing 6 months from now? Will they be in the same position they are today? Will they have been given the tools and training they need to advance–or will they be slowly drowning in a slower economy?

What you do today will determine what your sales team will be doing 6, 8 and 12 months from now. The sad fact is that most companies do not provide nearly enough sales training to their sales force. Most training is product related, not sales related. But the vast majority of salespeople need more sales training, not more product training.

When was the last time you brought in true experts to train your team? Not the company training department, but real, honest to goodness experts in their field?

If you have brought in experts, what was their field? Cold calling? Marketing via direct mail? Advertising? Email marketing? Maybe, developing a consulting relationship with the client? Or, possibly, personal branding techniques? All of these are great training topics and all require a true expert in their area. Yet, few companies provide this training.

It is possible for your company to provide highly individualized training for each of your salespeople. Dozens and dozens of specialized training companies now offer “public” teleseminars. Companies, such as McCord and Associates, offer teleseminars where one or more of your salespeople can register for a training course that meets their specific needs, saving the company thousands of training dollars, yet giving each of your salespeople exactly the training they need.

Have someone who is weak in closing? No problem, there are dozens of teleseminars they can register for. Have someone who needs to learn how to generate a large number of referrals? No problem, they can register for one of our courses. Have another salesperson who needs help managing their time and energy? Again, no problem, there are dozens of courses. Three salespeople with three different problems. Each problem is a major issue for that particular salesperson. In the past, if you really wanted to deal with your sales team’s issues, you’d have had to have had three different experts come in and train all of your people in their area of expertise. Assuming each trainer charged $3,000 for a days training, you’d have spent $9,000. Now, you can register your salespeople in the specific courses they need and save your company a tremendous amount of money and your sales team time. Suppose your team consists of 30 people and in the past you’d have spent $9,000 on three courses of training. Now, thanks to teleseminars, you could have each of your salespeople register for 3 seminars each, maybe covering a total of 15 different subjects and each seminar costing $99 (a fair average for teleseminars) and spend virtually the same amount of money but get custom training to meet exactly the individual needs of each salesperson. Same amount of money, same amount of time for each salesperson, but highly targeted training.

Take a hard look at each member of your team and the specific training each needs. Then plan an individual first quarter training program that will turn each individual salesperson into a much stronger, more productive salesperson. Use the resources at hand–and teleseminars is one of the easiest, most cost efficient and effective training resources you have.

November 14, 2006

Trust Isn’t Enough

Filed under: prospecting — Paul McCord @ 12:20 pm

Reggie wants to know why establishing a relationship of trust with the client isn’t enough to get them to give quality referrals. Trust is the foundation of any referral generation model you have, but trust simply isn’t enough.

Clients are reluctant to give quality referrals because they are putting their reputation and image on the line with the person they referred you to. Clients assume that the person they refer you to will be more critical than themselves. Consequently, they must become comfortable not only with you, but with the idea of commiting their reputation with another person. This process of becoming comfortabe isn’t an immedate thing–it takes time and it takes observation. One of the key reasons you bring up referrals from the beginning of the relationship and why you establish up-front the exact criteria in order for you to earn referrals is to give the client the time to become comfortable and to them exact points of observation of how you work. Once they have are comfortable with the concept of giving referrals and you have proven your ability and commitment to live up to you promises, clients will give good quality referrals. Unfortunately, without going through the whole process, the client doesn’t have a basis to feel comfortable with providing referrals. The referral generation process acts as the trigger for bringing the client to a comfort level where they will provide the referrals you’ve earned.

Don’t skip the process. Often, salespeople who have learned the proper referral generation process fall back into their old habits. Referrals begin to come in, they get lazy and soon the referrals begin to dry up again. Why? They have lost sight of the process and have reverted back to their “do a good job and ask for referrals” methodology that doesn’t work. Every new client must go through the whole process in order to create that comfort level. Don’t get sloppy. Keep vigilent and the referrals will continue to flow.

November 13, 2006

Client Expectations vs. Client Priorities

Filed under: prospecting — Paul McCord @ 7:31 am

Jan Austin emailed me about one of my articles on Eyesonsales.com concerning the need for salespeople to meet both the client’s expectations during the sale and their product/service priorities. Jan’s wants to know how her clients can hold her responsible for the performance of the car or truck she sells when the vehicle is manufacturered by the auto company, not be her.

Jan, the point is that when a salesperson sells anything, the client looks to the salesperson just as much, or more so, than they look to the company to insure the product or service meets their needs. You mention in your email, you accept responsibility for your actions during the sales process but don’t accept responsibility for the ultimate satisfaction of the customer with the product you sell. You may choose to not accept responsibility, but that doesn’t mean your customer doesn’t assign respeonsibility to you. It really isn’t your decision to make. Your client makes that decision for you.

Consequently, if you want to generate referrals and repeat business, you must accept the responsibility and make sure the car or truck you sell meets your customer’s priorties. This means that you must explore throughly with your customer exactly what they want from the car or truck they purchase and then be able to insure that the vehicle you sell them will meet those wants and needs and if the vehicle won’t, you must make your customer understand the limitations.

Let me give an example. Say a prospect walks on your lot and really wants X model of car. You discuss with them what it is they want and need from a new car. They explain that their priorties are 1) style and image, 2) fuel milage, 3) reliability, and 4) space for 5 adults. You further explore these prioties and come to understand that their primary need is for a fuel efficient, reliable auto that will fit within their budget, that appeals to their ego, and that will hold 4, hopefully 5 adults, although they seldom have more than two adults in the car at anytime. The car they are looking at is your most popular, will hold 6 adults with ease, has a good realiablity rating and gets moderate gas milage. The car is at the very top of what they can afford.

In order for you to end up with a satisified customer, you must explain in no uncertan terms that this car doesn’t meet their criteria. Their need for gas milage, which is their primary priority, will not be met by this car. Your job is to show them cars that do meet their criteria. If in the end they choose to purchase the original model, if you have detailed for them the features of the car that don’t meet their priorities, you have done your job. They have, in full knowledge, choosen to purchase a car that does not meet their needs as they defined them. Sell them the car they want.

On the other hand, if you have guided them to the car that does meet their needs and they choose to purchase it, you have done them a great service and have fully earned the right to referrals (assuming the other aspects of the sale went well).

You cannot force your customer to buy what truly meets their needs, but it is your obligation as an ethical salesperson to show them where the product they want fails to meet their priorties and guide them to the product or service that does. It is then their decision.

If you fail to point out where the model they initially want is not right for them and they then, after purchase, discover they made a wrong purchase, you will be held responsible in their minds. You didn’t do your job because you didn’t seek to help they acquire what they needed but instead settled for an “easy” sale and commission.

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