Sales and Sales Management Blog

June 30, 2009

Boost Your Sales Series: “Business Is Personal,” by Nancy Solomon

Filed under: Client Relationships,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 6:29 am

Business is Personal
by Nancy D. Solomon, MA

Today had no choice but to be great for me—it started with a conversation with one of my favorite people—Ann Tardy, CEO of Life Moxie. Ann and I have the ultimate combo—a personal and a business relationship. I’m not sure which began first, but I am certain that both parts make hefty deposits into my happiness account.

Before getting into the reason for our call—a business opportunity Ann wanted me to partner with her on—I asked her about her husband and her year old marriage. Here’s what she said, “It’s great. He’s just wonderful. He adores me… simply adores me… and he spends every day trying to make me happy. I’ve know him for seven years and for seven years his priority is still my happiness—you can’t beat that!”

While Ann was relating this, what came to mind was the diner scene in the movie,  “When Harry Met Sally”—you remember the one—and I found myself thinking, “I’ll have whatever Ann’s having.” How many of us would like to be on the top of someone’s priority list, with our happiness being his or her main motivator? I know I would!

So what do “being adored” and “happiness” have to do with building client relationships? Absolutely everything!

Admittedly, these adjectives are seldom included in the same sentence as ‘business’ and I, for one, would like to change that. Now. It occurs to me that we are ripe and ready to treat our clients and customers as we do the favorite people in our personal lives. With all the fuss we’re making about ‘relationship marketing’ that should be fairly obvious, shouldn’t it? But it isn’t because, despite the rhetoric, we continue to underscore, highlight and boldly emphasize the difference between our personal and our professional relationships. Why do we do that? Aren’t we the same person at the family BBQ that we are at corporate headquarters or at the sales meeting? And if we’re not the same person, why aren’t we?

I’m not talking about our socialization: about the difference in our outward behavior, given the disparate venues. No, we’re not going to tell off-colored jokes (if we want to retain our job) at the weekly staff meeting. But at our core, at the level of our values and our intentions, shouldn’t we be the same person regardless of our circumstances? Don’t you want to do business with people who are willing to be transparent, to be authentic and to show up fully as human beings? Wouldn’t it make you more than a bit nervous to sign a multi-million dollar deal with someone who is willing to show you only a fraction of who they are in the conference room? Would you not be wondering what they’re holding back and why? No different, really, than dating someone for six months before they reveal some major catastrophic circumstance in their life—wouldn’t you wonder what else they’re withholding?

I find it intriguing that we perversely cling to the idea that our business lives and personal lives are mutually exclusive. In this day and age, I wonder why we continue to think that these two vital components of our lives should be kept separate. I’m equally perplexed that there are some people who believe that there are benefits to be reaped by pretending that business and personal matters actually can be segregated; that it’s even possible should we decide it’s advantageous. Which it is most certainly is not.

I believe that there can be no distinction, despite what we’ve been told, how we’ve been trained, or why we deceived ourselves into thinking otherwise. To attempt, in any manner, to separate the personal from the business is arrogant at best and ignorant at worst.

My professional experience, as one of the people to whom businesses turn when the ‘soft issues’ become agonizingly hard, has repeatedly reinforced my assertion that business is personal. Very personal.

The ‘Great Divide’ as I call it, is that invisible space where emotional currency is replaced by intellectual capital. It’s the place where we ostensibly park our feelings at the door and pick up our professional personae at the same place. In truth, it is an abyss into which our most treasured values potentially fall.

Pardon me if I seem daft–I am not– but I’m on a mission to persuade you, encourage you and coerce you into rethinking the way you relate to both aspects of your life, and how both aspects correlate with one another.

 At it’s most fundamental:

·      Business is conducted by people

·      Business provides people with a service or product

·      Business provides people with jobs which earn them compensation

·      People impact their own businesses and the businesses of others

·      People are also impacted by their own businesses, and the businesses of others

Think reciprocity!

A few days ago, I returned from Milwaukee where I presented the opening keynote for lia sophia’s national conference. I had the supreme privilege of standing before three thousand women (and a few brave and commendable men) business owners who have a passion for people, a love of jewelry and a desire to achieve their dreams. I spoke about the urgency for them to recognize that ‘who they are impacts everything they do’. I was overwhelmed by their responsiveness to my message. Dozens of people approached me in the day or two after the keynote to let me know how profoundly they had been impacted—the majority had never realized how they figured into the equation of their own success; how they, personally, impacted their bottom line. Beautiful and amazing!

I’m prompted to inquire as to what it is about the prospect of our feelings and our fragile psyches that’s so uncomfortable for us that we are willing to perpetuate the myth that good business excludes the mother of all motivators—emotions?

In the past fifteen years science has partnered with the psychology of performance and has provided us with stacks of statistics from institutions as old as money and as reliable as taxes. They all say the same thing:  Logic does not lead. Emotions do. We make emotional choices and then back them up with logic, reason, and data. Even in business.

During this same time, the field of cognitive neuroscience has greatly expanded its understanding of how emotions impact human learning and communications.  The Gallup Organization, following suit, used these recent discoveries and integrated them with similar work in the fields of psychology, economics, and social sciences. Gallup devoted its extensive resources to an in-depth study of human behavior conducted from 1997 to 2001, interviewing almost 20 million customers on their opinions, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors.  Among the study’s conclusions:

Ÿ  Emotions drive our decision-making.

Ÿ  Emotions take place outside our rational, willful awareness.

Ÿ  Emotional engagement increases the speed of learning, increases memory retention, and evokes emotions in others.

We are emotionally based beings. What we feel is more important than what we think. Every decision we make is in pursuit of an emotional goal. Our emotions dictate our decisions, not the other way around. Our emotions translate into every choice we make in our life,

Although there has been a profusion of new information on consumer buying habits published in the past several years, one of the most conclusive studies was completed by the University of Florida in 2002.  This national study analyzed the responses of 23,168 people to 240 advertising messages in 13 categories, from cars and appliances to groceries and other small-ticket items. The results, which appeared in the August 2002 issue of Journal of Advertising Research, concluded that emotions were nearly twice as important as knowledge in consumer buying decisions—that individuals may be interested in the technical aspect of a purchase item, but this interest is driven by the desire to achieve a specific emotional response.  This evidence refutes the historical data that strongly implied that consumers made their purchases based on information, data, and logical conclusions and that if emotions were involved at all, it was purely incidental. What this means for business—the very implication of introducing emotions and relationships as tools for strategizing production and profit—is staggering in light of what we once thought to be true.

What I’ve observed an unpleasant number of times, is that people use the “it’s just business” rationale as a catchall excuse when they don’t want to take responsibility for dealing with feelings they’re uncomfortable with. So “Don’t take this personally…..” becomes the repository for the emotions the owner has yet to metabolize. I work with these folks every day.

Let’s be honest: Don’t you prefer to work with clients who adore you because you made them happy? Because they adore you? When we sell our product or service, our name and reputation accompanies said product and service, doesn’t it? So when our customers and clients are satisfied (and, therefore, happy) with what we provided them, then, ultimately, they are happy with us.

Which is personal. Very personal.

 

Nancy D. Solomon, author of the upcoming book, IMPACT! What Every Woman Needs to Know to Go From Invisible to Invincible (John Wiley, Fall 2009) is an internationally recognized human potential expert. She travels the country evangelically spreading the word that “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”  For the past 18 years, Nancy has inspired thousands to remove the barriers to personal and professional success and to engage in their work and in their lives. She provides training, keynotes, coaching and facilitation for executives and their organizations seeking to improve their personal and professional standards of success. Her clients include Microsoft, Target, Nordstrom, Acura, Sheraton and many potentially passionate individuals.  She can contacted at nancy@nancydsolomon.com or 253.265.3240.

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June 29, 2009

Boost Your Sales series: “Are you being a Caretaker?” by Dr. Gregory Stebbins

Are you being a Caretaker?
By Dr. Gregory Stebbins

Traditionally a caretaker is the individual responsible for responsibility of looking after buildings and the smooth running of an estate making sure the heating is working; cleaning; moving furniture; doing repairs, ordering materials, etc. Often these jobs are held for life and the caretaker has a very personal relationship with the owner of the property.

So it is with sales professionals that take on the role of caretaker with their customers. To accomplish this, the professional needs to move past seeing the customer as an adversary. Listen to the language of many sales people and you’ll hear combat metaphors that might be more appropriate in a military boot camp environment.

Today, it’s very easy to accidentally slip away from being a caretaker. Technology — internet, cell phones, faxes and voice mail — have allowed us to respond instantly to our client requests, without really getting to know them as a human being. In many ways we miss the little things that tell us who the person is, their concerns, their fears, what makes them happy and more.

What are some simple ways that we can start being a customer caretaker and build deeper relationships with our clients?

1. Communicate personally. Take some time to meet personally with the customer. Leave the sales agenda in the office and just treat them as a very important person. Listen to their story. People often ask, “What’s their story.” Generally people want to share their story, sometimes just to get it off their chest. As a sales professional it’s too easy to look at everything as a sales situation. Sometimes the best way to sell is to “not sell,” at least in the classical way everyone expects.

2. Help them without asking. Listen for things that you can do to assist them, without asking them, “How can I help you?” Just the fact that you took time to be with them and did not try to sell them will change how they see you. Delivering something special that wasn’t asked for, but nevertheless was desired will cause them to feel taken care of.

3. Show them the love. This tip might be hard for some sales people to swallow. Think first of someone you love unconditionally. What would you do to help that person? What do you do to make their life better? Are they that different from most of your customers? I’ll admit that there are some people in my life that I choose to love unconditionally — from a distance. If your customer knows that you care very deeply for their welfare as a human being, the errors that show up in any business relationship are easily forgiven.

A responsible caretaker knows his or her responsibilities so well that things that might break never do. The reason is they fix it before it breaks. Relationships with customers are the same. If you’re constantly looking for the next customer and never take care of your current customers the churn might eventually bankrupt you.

Dr. Stebbins is President of PeopleSavvy and an internationally recognized authority on Sales Psychology. He is a master at improving the greatest asset of any business—its people. With more than 30 years of business experience, he applies a wealth of knowledge, street smarts, and high impact ideas to the challenges his clients have. As a trainer, Greg has designed and delivered  numerous corporate sales, management and human resource development programs. Over 20,000 sales professionals have benefited from Greg’s expertise and training. He has consulted on strategic planning, leadership development and organizational culture for dozens of organizations, large and small, profit and not-for-profit. 

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Subscribe to my POWER SELLING newsletter where twice each month you’ll get a full length article designed to help you increase your and/or your sales team’s sales.  Just shoot me an email at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com with “subscribe” in the subject line and your name and email address in the body and I’ll get you subcribed, and since I hate SPAM as much as you do, I’ll never sell, lease, rent or give your information to anyone—EVER.

June 26, 2009

Boost Your Sales series: “As a Seller, Is Social Media Just Hype or Is There Real Value In It?” by Paul McCord

As a Seller, Is Social Media Just Hype or Is There Real Value In It?
by Paul McCord

On Monday Nigel Edelshain discussed how important embracing social media will be for sellers of the future.  And by future, Nigel wasn’t speaking of the distant future; he was referring to the relatively immediate future.  His contention is that those sellers who don’t embrace social media and learn how to connect with their prospects via these technologies will be left in the cold.

I agree.

Sorta.

With lots of caveats and admonitions to not neglect the traditional methods of engaging prospects and clients.

Although embracing social media is the rage—if you’re not hip on Sales 2.0, you’re so 20th century it ain’t funny–and the number of social media experts willing to guide you through the jungle of the new medium grows exponentially daily, for most of us the vast majority of our prospects are not going to be found via social media for some time to come.  Most of our existing clients and our near prospects won’t be engaging us via social media either, at least for the foreseeable future.

This is near sacrilege to many; out and out heresy to a great many more.   Just read the White Papers promoted on various companies blogs, listen to the conversations on Twitter and Facebook, read the discussions in the various sales forums and on the various sales blogs.  They’ll tell you in no uncertain terms that social media is THE force to be reckoned with.

And they have proof.  All they have to do is point to all the downloads of the White Papers, all the interactions on the forums and blogs, and all the tweets on Twitter that prove their point.  There are so many they must be reaching a huge audience. 

And I agree.  Many are reaching a huge audience.  The social media audience is large.  It’s you and me and millions upon millions of others.  And it’s growing every day.  It’s the audience reading this post on this blog—people who in one form or another use social media. 

A large audience, yes.  The majority of people?  Not even close.

For most of us it isn’t where we’re going to engage the majority of our prospects.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve taken a very informal poll of the people I’ve spoken to.  Didn’t matter where they lived or what they did for a living, nor did it matter whether I spoke to them over the phone or in person.  Virtually every person I had an opportunity to speak with I asked two questions:

  1.  Do you or your company use social media to engage customers or prospects
  2. As a buyer (business or individual), do you use social media to connect with or engage salespeople or companies or to research products or services.

Almost 40% of those I asked indicated that their company uses some form of social media to try to connect with customers and prospects (I suspect next year at this time this number will be closing in on 70% or more).  Less than 30% said that as buyers they have ever used any form of social media to find or engage a company or salesperson or to research a product or service. (NOTE: This does not mean they didn’t use the Internet to research or purchase, it simply means they didn’t use blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, or other forms of ‘social media.’)

So what does this mean for us sellers and our companies?  Do we simply ignore social media until it becomes a more dynamic place to find and engage prospects?

Well, we’re back to Nigel’s article.  As I said, I agree with him.  Social media will continue to expand, to develop, to mature.  And as it does more and more of our prospects and customers will use it.  The few prospects and clients we can engage through social media today will steadily increase over time.

If we want to grow, we’ll have to be prepared to engage these prospects on their terms.  Just as today we have to find ways to find and engage prospects outside the world of the internet, we’ll increasingly have to be able to find and engage them within the world of the internet in the future.  If we can’t or if we choose not to, we’ll find ourselves struggling to find business.

This isn’t to say that social media isn’t of value today, because it is.  However, for most of us it shouldn’t be the primary focus of our prospecting and business development strategy since the majority of our business is still going to come from traditional prospecting and marketing strategies. 

But just because it isn’t our primary focus doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a part of our portfolio.  The majority of our prospect contacts may not be made through social media, but that doesn’t mean that none are.  There is business to be developed through social media and as mentioned above, that business will grow over the coming months and years.

Furthermore, social media is in many ways a different animal than what we are used to dealing with.  We have to learn how to effectively use it.  More basic than how to use it, we have to experiment to learn what to use. 

  • Do you invest your time in starting and developing a blog? 
  • Which, if any, forums should you participate in? 
  • Is Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook worth the time and effort for you?
  • What are your alternatives if one of the medias you heavily invest in such as Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube doesn’t make it?  Where do you go from there?
  • Based on your ideal prospect, what social media would they likely use?

Right now we all have the opportunity to learn how to use the new social media platforms.  Yes, we can find and engage some prospects, but more importantly, we can prepare for the coming transition as more and more of our prospects and clients begin to utilize these media.  We can screw up, figure out successful strategies, and experiment with the various options now while the stakes are relatively low instead of later when the consequences of making mistakes may be far more serious.

And despite some of the hype about social media, it will never fully replace your non-internet based prospecting and marketing.  Yes, there are a few who have chosen to eliminate the entire non-internet based world as potential customers by investing their entire business in a virtual world.  They are few and far between and success stories are even more difficult to find.

If you haven’t ventured into social media, do so.  Begin to figure out how you’re going to use it as a serious part of your prospecting and marketing strategy.  Don’t judge it based on traditional sales metrics today as you will probably conclude that it’s a waste of time and effort.  Instead, rejoice in any new business gained from your efforts and take heart in knowing that you’re developing a long-term strategy that will come into its own over time, and that by investing the time and effort today, you’ll have a significant competitive advantage over a good deal of your competition as social media becomes an ever increasingly more important tool to find and engage new business.  

I think Nigel is too optimistic in his timeframe of social media’s impact on sellers, but he is spot on in terms of the ultimate importance of having developed the skills and tools to use it to find and engage prospects.  Ignore social media at your own peril, but invest in it too heavily today and you’ll also be risking losing significant business by spending too much time chasing too few prospects. 

Paul McCord, a leading Business Development Strategist and president of McCord Training, works with companies and sales leaders to help them increase sales and profits by finding and connecting with high quality prospects in ways prospects respect and respond to.  An internationally recognized author, speaker, trainer and consultant, Paul’s clients range from giants such as Chase, New York Life, Siemens, and GE, to small and mid-size firms, as well as individual sales leaders.  He is the author of the popular Sales and Sales Management Blog (http://salesandmanagementblog.com

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Like What You See Here?

If you like what you see on the Sales and Sales Management Blog, I encourage you to either:

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or

Subscribe to my POWER SELLING newsletter where twice each month you’ll get a full length article designed to help you increase your and/or your sales team’s sales.  Just shoot me an email at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com with “subscribe” in the subject line and your name and email address in the body and I’ll get you subcribed, and since I hate SPAM as much as you do, I’ll never sell, lease, rent or give your information to anyone—EVER.

June 24, 2009

Boost Your Sales series: “Integrate Social Media with Your Prospecting Approach,” by Ardath Albee

Integrate Social Media with Your Prospecting Approach
by Ardath Albee

Salespeople need to be expert listeners, delving into their client’s problems, needs and challenges to ensure their conversations are designed to deliver more “what’s in it for me” than ever before. This type of exchange used to be done almost exclusively face-to-face. But today’s reality shows buyers taking control of their purchasing process and putting off traditional sales activities until they’re ready. The upshot is that by the time they’re sales ready, it’s likely they know more about your company’s products and solutions than your sales reps.

So, what’s a salesperson to do?

Use social media to get your prospects talking…directly to you.

That said, you must realize that social media is not an instant-gratification endeavor. Listening is just as critical to creating engaging online dialogues as it is in face-to-face conversations. And, given the fact that there are no facial expressions, vocal tones or physical body language, listening is even more critical to creating the outcomes you want via online social interactions.

Location, Location, Location…
The first step in listening is to determine where your prospects spend their time online. It could be LinkedIn groups, Twitter or blogs (their own, or someone else’s). They could also spend their time in industry forums, topical communities or leaving comments on articles and blog posts published by industry portals. By spending some time where they hang out, you’ll discover the best ways to open a dialogue.

The Key to Listening
Many companies track and follow what’s being said about their company with Google Alerts. Then they respond by trying to control the conversation, defend themselves to naysayers and pat themselves on the back when they hear kudos. We’ve all known people like this. We call them self-centered and try to avoid them. The value of whatever they contribute to the conversation is diminished because we know that what underlies their effort is based solely on self-interested gains. They’re surface listeners.

Connecting with people in a way that builds engagement beyond momentary attention is critical when employing social media for prospecting. People want you to help them solve their problems. Heck, they can buy something similar to your solution from numerous sources. So, give them a differentiating reason to buy from you by listening to what they’re saying and responding appropriately. Get beneath the surface words to the meaty meanings.

By listening beneath the surface, you’ll gain a lot of useful insights like:

  • Perspectives about problems and objectives your prospects are dealing with.
  • Terminology used conversationally by different market and industry segments.
  • Communication efforts they don’t like.
  • Clues that indicate the real root of a problem so you can help solve them.
  • What your customers really value, which sometimes is the little stuff you may think is unimportant, but can be used to jumpstart an interactive dialogue.

As you listen, think about how you can be helpful. Don’t give in to knee-jerk reactions. Wait until you understand the context before you respond. And, when you do, make sure your response shows you’ve given their input care and consideration. Listening requires a clear intent to understand. Listening does not mean mining online exchanges to find places to post a comment that’s out of context because you can’t be bothered to integrate yourself into the conversation.

CRM + Marketing Automation
Salespeople who use CRM systems integrated with marketing automation have a leg up on those who aren’t so privileged. You’ve got access (or should) to a wealth of information that can jumpstart your listening. Plus, you know just which prospects have the most potential, and what they’ve expressed interest in.

Given your prospects’ interests, be on the lookout for useful content you can provide to enrich your online interactions. Make sure it’s objective and focused on your prospects’ priorities whether it comes from internal or external sources. Given what you know about your prospects, consider requesting articles and white papers with a specific topic be developed by your marketing team. Or, ask them to provide a resources list with links to collateral you can use.

If you’re stumped for external resources, a huge number of analysts have blogs and Twitter accounts. There are independent industry experts writing articles and blogging about issues relevant to your market. Providing a mix of content in addition to conversational exchanges will help to establish you as a trusted resource. And, that’s just where you want to be. That way, when your prospects need help, they’ll think of you first.

Define Your Social Media Purpose
Salespeople should use social media in conjunction with other methods to create an integrated prospecting approach. Social media can be a great way to keep up appearances. This means that your purpose for social media may be best executed by using it to keep yourself in front of specific prospects by participating where they can see you, and have the choice to engage.

If you’ve left several voicemails and followed up with email, but received no response, perhaps you have the opportunity to catch their attention and gain a dialogue via a social media interaction. The big thing to remember is not to give the impression of a stalker. As long as you stay focused on being sincerely helpful as a resource for valued insight and information, you stand a good chance of creating a relationship.

Exchanging comments on a blog or via an industry discussion group or Twitter can be seen as much less of a commitment for a prospect who has yet to decide they’re ready for a sales conversation. Proving you’ve got expertise and answers they need can also serve to provide a reason to connect with you, even if they’ve ignored your other efforts to contact them previously.

Always Be Thoughtful
Social media can become an impactful tool for improving your sales process, if used appropriately and with purpose. Just remember to listen first, respond in context and always with the intention of being a helpful resource. Don’t try to sell. By engaging people in topics related to solving their problems, the dialogue will grow beyond the limitations of open, online exchanges to a request for an offline, personal conversation. If you’re paying attention, you’ll know when the time is right. And so will your prospects.

Ardath Albee, B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing e-marketing strategies driven by compelling content. She taps over 20 years of business management and marketing experience to help clients, including Covad Communications, LANDesk and Silicon Graphics [SGI], create customer-focused nurturing programs to engage and progress prospects to sales readiness. Her book, E-Marketing Strategies for the Complex Sale will be out this fall from McGraw-Hill. Ardath also authors the industry-leading Marketing Interactions blog.

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Like What You See Here?

If you like what you see on the Sales and Sales Management Blog, I encourage you to either:

Save it to your RSS Reader

or

Subscribe to my POWER SELLING newsletter where twice each month you’ll get a full length article designed to help you increase your and/or your sales team’s sales.  Just shoot me an email at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com with “subscribe” in the subject line and your name and email address in the body and I’ll get you subcribed, and since I hate SPAM as much as you do, I’ll never sell, lease, rent or give your information to anyone—EVER.

June 23, 2009

Boost Your Sales series: “How to Find the Right Social Media Strategy for Your Business,” by Cindy King

How To Find The Right Social Media Strategy For Your Business
by Cindy King

“How can social media improve my business?” 
“What will Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn bring to my bottom line?”
“What is the ROI of social media?”
And…
“Are businesses really making sales through social media?”

These are questions I heard often this week while attending the Social Media Success Summit 2009 . They are heavy questions.  And there is a problem: the real answers people want depend on their business and their markets. Social media is about connecting with people.  This means connecting you in your business with your clients.  This is why I believe that businesses need to jump in and participate to find the answer to these questions themselves. 

In this article, I hope to help you get a little closer to these answers by telling you my own story as a small business owner using social media to reach international clients.

Why It Takes Time To Find The Answer

Less than a year ago, I did not even realize that a blog was social media. My blog was 6 months old and it was time to look for ways to improve my online presence.  I blog for business and had no time to waste.  Luckily I met Chris Garrett  who gently got me to look more closely at the other social media platforms, even though they seemed unsuitable for a small business struggling with time commitments.

So I reluctantly tried Twitter, while I blogged daily on two blogs, had a dormant Facebook profile, a LinkedIn account and a small group of social media friends to coax me on.  It took me 3 months simply to understand what social media was about.  Don’t panic, it does not take everyone this long.  But I had a few prejudgments against social media to get rid of and was not quite as web savvy as I am today.  I also found that I needed to understand several of the social media tools individually before I could see what was happening in the big social media picture.

Once I understood the social media environment the fun started.  I began to play with it, to see what value social media had for my business.  It took another 6 months to understand how the people in my market use social media and how I could use social media as a prospecting tool.

That is my social media story in a nutshell. 

For many businesses it is not that simple.  Management wants answers to those big questions before jumping in. 

What Is The Buzz About?

First you need to understand why social media is important.

Although social media started out as personal communication platforms, these platforms are in the process of becoming useful tools businesses to reach clients.  For example:

  • Facebook is used successfully by many businesses in the B2C world as a sales platform.  Other businesses are using the Facebook Pages as a hub within a strategic social media presence. 
  • LinkedIn is not just a place to virtually exchange business cards.  For example, there are polls and applications to share slide presentations.
  • Twitter is now widely accepted as one of the easiest and fastest ways for businesses to poll their audiences and get immediate feedback.  Tweets are now indexed by Google, which improves overall search results.

Although each of these social media platforms will continue to evolve, it is this form of communication that is important.  Social media communication will continue to expand in today’s customer-centric world of inbound marketing. 

Social media is a place to connect with your clients.  You need to find out what part this plays in your sales cycle.

How Can Social Media Help Your Business?

Before you can answer this question there are three important things you need to establish:

Right attitude – You need to understand how social media communication works.  You can only pick up the right attitude through participating. People have different communication skills, so this can take more or less time to get right.

Context – Many businesses wonder if their clients are on social media.  The answer is often yes.  Your clients are like everyone and probably spend time online. The real question is one of context. 

  • What are our clients doing on social media?
  • Where are they?
  • Why are they there?
  • How are they using social media?

You need to understand the context your clients are in when they use each social media platform.  Only then will you be able to find the right approach to connect with them on social media. 

Clear Business Objectives – Social media platforms have a wide range of bells and whistles… and things that can seem absurd in a professional environment.  If you want business results out of social media you must stay business focused and learn to navigate in this environment.

Although a direct sales approach does not work on social media, you can use social media tactics within a well planned soft sales approach based on a strong value proposition and engaging with people.

Clear business objectives also help you to handle some of the challenging aspects most people struggle with on social media:

  • Get over any personal issues you have with networking.  People who are good networkers in traditional environments usually adapt well to social media networking.   Social media highlights personal preferences and styles in networking.  Clear business objectives helps you keep to business networking.
  • Avoid wasting time on the gadgets.  There are many social media tools to “help” you get the most out of social media.  It is very easy to add on extras that do not add any value to your business strategies and get you out of focus. Clear business objectives help you to come up with a social media system that works for you. 
  • Stay focused on targeting the people you want to meet. 

Why My Tweet Plan Boosted By Business?

My first Tweet Plan revolutionized by business.  It opened doors to people I would never have dreamed of meeting.  Yes, I have had a few clients come to me through Twitter.  But this is not where I have had the highest return on my time investment. 

What I appreciate most out of Twitter is the ease in making high quality contacts.  Instead of using social media to get individual clients I deliberately looked for people who could bring me many clients.  I wanted high quality sources of referrals to help me develop my new business. 

What I found was that I can make contacts very easily on social media, but not sell directly.  To make these contacts work for my business, I need to take them outside of the social media environment.  Social media is simply a part of the initial cycle to find clients.

This is why I started the New Year by deciding to connect directly with one new Twitter contact each day.  By phone, or by email.  This means that my sales success rate depends on my traditional sales and business skills. 

And this leads me to the most important thing to remember about using social media to develop your business:  Take the conversation outside of social media.

Conclusion

Social media does not provide miracle solutions for businesses.  You still need good common business sense.  It does have one distinct advantage though: it puts everyone on the same playing field.  Small businesses can have the same business success as the big ones.

Today I have learned how social media works for my business. 

  • It is not just one social media platform that brings in the results.  People are different and multifaceted.  They bounce between Twitter, my blog, my website, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed.  They check out what I have to say in several places before contacting me directly. 
  • It is not just the inbound effect of people contacting me either.  I also go looking for interesting people and reach out to make direct content.  This is how I meet 2 or 3 good contacts each week.
  • It is not just me sitting alone behind my computer.  Several networks of friends for different social bookmarking activities and networking help me learn more and keep up to date. 
  • It is not just about my business and what I offer.  It is also keeping a tab on what is happening in my industry online.  This increases my business intelligence and gives me interesting information to pass along through social media platforms.

My social media strategy does not work for everyone.  Different business models need to adapt their social media strategies to fit their needs.

Cindy King is a Cross-Cultural Marketer & International Sales Strategist  based in France.  She uses her dual background in sales & marketing to help businesses improve their international sales conversion and develop country-specific international sales guides.  Connect with her on Twitter @CindyKing

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Like What You See Here?

If you like what you see on the Sales and Sales Management Blog, I encourage you to either:

Save it to your RSS Reader

or

Subscribe to my POWER SELLING newsletter where twice each month you’ll get a full length article designed to help you increase your and/or your sales team’s sales.  Just shoot me an email at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com with “subscribe” in the subject line and your name and email address in the body and I’ll get you subcribed, and since I hate SPAM as much as you do, I’ll never sell, lease, rent or give your information to anyone—EVER.

June 22, 2009

Boost Your Sales series: “Would You Hire an Administrative Assistant Who Can’t Use Word?” by Nigel Edelshain

Filed under: business,sales,Sales 2.0,selling,technology — Paul McCord @ 6:59 am
Tags: , , ,

Would You Hire an Administrative Assistant Who Can’t Use Word?
by Nigel Edelshain

Would you hire an administrative assistant who can NOT use Word – or a computer?

No chance, right? You’d think that was crazy most likely. But cast you mind back a decade, or two, and that was not a stretch. Remember when people sent inter-office memos typed on paper with a typewriter? A what? A typewriter.

Guess what? I believe sales people who cannot use social media and Web 2.0 tools in ten years from now will be of the same value as administrative assistants who can’t use Word today. Am I bonkers? Place your bets. Mine is placed.

If you’re reading this and you are a sales person, sales manager or CEO and you’re not informed about Sales 2.0 and how social media can be used in the sales process, get informed. If you don’t, I see your competition eating your lunch – and after your lunch your pipeline.

Sales 2.0 tools will be critical tools for sales people. Why? Because these tools make the inherently inefficient sales process that most companies use more efficient. They are game changers. Way beyond the impact of CRM.

How Broken is Cold Calling?

Let me talk to you about prospecting. Most companies fill their pipeline largely on cold calling and often on the worst kind of cold calling, which I call “smile and dial”. “Smile and dial” is all about volume.  Reps don’t prepare they just dial. Problem is we are all getting more and more screened – harder to reach.

It takes at least 10 dials to even speak to a prospect (I’ve heard of 20 plus dials in certain markets).  Then in the best case 1 in 10 people who connect to our “smile and dialers” will take a meeting (or whatever the next step is in our sales process). 

So here we are “smiling and dialing” 100, 200, 300 or 400 times to get one appointment.  Ouch! My dialing finger is hurting.

So this is state-of-the-art for sales is it?

What kind of production line is state-of-the-art where 399 widgets are defective and only 1 gets through? TQM anyone?

Eight Times More Effective

Good news. Great news actually. As social media and other smart Web 2.0 tools are being rolled out it turns out these tools can help address this lousy prospecting situation. Used correctly these tools can change the odds of getting that meeting and advancing the sales process by an order of magnitude (roughly EIGHT times on average in our testing so far – actually that’s conservative but if I say more you’ll certainly NOT believe me).

How come? That’s unbelievable isn’t it? Well on closer inspection not really.

What’s happened is our ability to get through to buyers has been degrading for several years, certainly post-Google. Buyers started placing less-and-less value on meeting with sales people who would just bring them product updates when they could get all that information online by typing just a few keywords into Google.

It took until about 3 years ago for tools to appear that were really designed to help sales people sell (and for us consultants to figure out how to use some of the social media already out there to help sales people sell). Given that sales people were at such a disadvantage by that time, it’s not that surprising that finally arming them with useful tools is making a big difference.

Ask Paul about Referral Selling

Consider just one key factor. The “big daddy” of all factors that dictates whether you will get into a buyer’s office: relationship. We humans have not changed there. We want to meet with people we know, like and trust. That’s what relationships do for us. And we’re OK if there’s a referral involved. If you tell me “Joe” is OK, then I’ll probably meet with “Joe”.

Guess what? There’s a fellow called Paul McCord who’s an expert on this is. It’s called referral selling.

Yes it is referral selling but it’s time to figure out how to do referral selling at Internet speed. The social networks out there allow you to do this kind of referral selling much (much) faster than you can by meeting with people. The tools expose the “social graph”. They show you who knows who. They set up relationship selling and allow you to start it from your desk.

Ask Paul about referral selling. Referral selling has always been an order of magnitude more effective than cold calling.  But now there are tools to help you do that much faster and more efficiently. Using these tools is called Sales 2.0.

What’s that on the Horizon?

The tide is changing and that wave coming in is called Sales 2.0. It may look small to you way out there on your horizon but its traveling fast now. You may want to get out there and meet it before it breaks on your shore. It could just be a Tsunami in the way we sell.

Nigel Edelshain is CEO of Sales 2.0 LLC. Companies that work with Sales 2.0 improve their sales results 2-3 times. They achieve these results by combining the use of Web 2.0 tools and social media with well-though-out sales processes.  Nigel has sold millions of dollars of IT solutions to major Fortune 500 firms. He was head of sales for the financial services vertical for Starpoint Solutions. While at Starpoint, he sold e-business projects to senior business and technology executives in Wall Street. Prior to Starpoint Nigel worked for Platinum Technology (now CA) selling IT professional services. Nigel graduated from Wharton’s MBA program in 1993 and has an undergraduate degree in Microelectronics from Edinburgh University.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Like What You See Here?

If you like what you see on the Sales and Sales Management Blog, I encourage you to either:

Save it to your RSS Reader

or

Subscribe to my POWER SELLING newsletter where twice each month you’ll get a full length article designed to help you increase your and/or your sales team’s sales.  Just shoot me an email at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com with “subscribe” in the subject line and your name and email address in the body and I’ll get you subcribed, and since I hate SPAM as much as you do, I’ll never sell, lease, rent or give your information to anyone—EVER.

June 19, 2009

Boost Your Sales series: “Your Connections Are Your Key to Sales Success,” by Paul McCord

Show Your Support for the People of Iran 

My friend Jonthan Farrington was contacted by one of his friends who asked him to add a widget to his blog in support of democracy and free elections in Iran. 

Although my government here in the US has neither the moral courage nor political will to do so, I and many millions of others do.  I’ve installed the widget on the righthand sidebar (yep, it isn’t working as it should, so I’ve got some work to try to get it to work correctly on wordpress).  You can get a widget to show your support by going here.

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Your Connections Are Your Key to Sales Success
by Paul McCord

I hear many sellers complain that directly asking for referrals is too uncomfortable so they would much rather generate referrals by asking their clients to recommend them when the opportunity occurs. 

Bad mistake.

Not only do they misunderstand how to generate referrals, they’re confusing referrals with Word of Mouth Marketing. 

They’re not the same. 

Both can be highly valuable in building and maintaining a solid and growing sales business.

Neither can be done successfully if left to chance as most sellers do.

Unless you are selling a highly specialized product or service in a narrow market, your connections can be the foundation of a business that puts you in the top earnings category of your industry.

But to do so, you must learn how to turn both referral generation and word of mouth marketing into a disciplined process rather than a chance happening.

Referral Generation

First, let’s clear up some language issues.  We’re not talking about “asking for referrals.”  Asking for referrals traditionally has entailed asking a lame question such as “do you know of anyone who might be able to use my products or services?”  The goal of such a question is garnering the name and phone number—if you’re lucky, two– of someone your customer knows.  Over the decades this method has been taught, most sellers have discovered it isn’t very effective and a great many sellers simply quit asking.

Instead of “asking for referrals” we’re going to talk about “referral generation.”  Referral generation isn’t a question, it’s a proactive, disciplined process that begins the moment you meet a prospect and continues throughout your relationship with the person or company that generates a consistent flow of high quality referrals.

The traditional method of seeking referrals, the “do a good job and ask for referrals” method that is taught by the vast majority of sales trainers and training programs that address referrals, creates so many issues that failure is almost inevitable.

By simply “doing a good job” and then “asking for referrals,” you create these issues for your client:

  • This question is normally thrown at a client at the very end of the sales process and without any forewarning what-so-ever.  It’s a question that comes out of the clear blue catching an unsuspecting client by surprise and often making them feel that they’ve been ambushed by the salesperson. 
  • Most often, upon asking for referrals, the seller stands in front of the client waiting for an answer.  Is it any wonder that many clients are uncomfortable and feel that they’ve been cornered by the seller?
  • If the client gives a “referral,” it is most likely nothing more than a name and phone number that is no more qualified than if the seller had opened the phonebook and pointed at a name and number at random.  The seller has given the client no time to become comfortable with the idea of giving referrals and only about 10 or 15 seconds to go through their mental file cabinet to find a quality prospect to give; nor has the seller defined for the customer what constitutes a good referral for them.
  • Not only has the seller put their client in an uncomfortable position, they haven’t given their client a reason to give referrals.  Despite the common assertion by sales trainers to the contrary, most clients don’t want to give referrals.  Certainly, there is a small percentage that gladly give referrals, but most need a good reason to give quality referrals and with the traditional method of asking for referrals, the seller hasn’t given the client a reason to give them.
  • Although we may think of a referral as nothing more than our client giving us the opportunity to talk to someone who might need our product or service, our client thinks of giving a referral as telling the referred prospect that they wholeheartedly endorse us and that the prospect should trust the client and work with us based on their endorsement.  For most clients, that’s a big step and a great many are reluctant to take it.  Many clients believe that the people they refer us to will be more critical and more demanding than they have been and, therefore, they need to be sure that we aren’t going to embarrass them by disappointing the prospects they refer.  Consequently, we must let the client know that they aren’t going to give referrals but rather we’re going to earn them.  Therefore we must give them an objective way of evaluating whether or not we’ve done that.  Like the issues above, the traditional method taught by most trainers and training methods ignores this issue.
  • Finally, the traditional method of asking for referrals makes the client do all of the work.

Is it any wonder sellers feel uncomfortable asking for referrals?  If I was going to do this to my client, I’d be pretty uncomfortable too.  In fact, I’d probably not even ask.

Fortunately, there is a process that allows you to work with your client, eliminates all of the above issues, and will consistently generate a large number of high quality referrals.

Although I could write the book about the process and how to implement it in your sales business (actually, I did write the book, Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals, Wiley, 2007), for brevity’s sake, I’ll simply lay out the process:

Let Your Prospect Know You’re Referral-based: From the moment you meet a prospect, begin planting the referral seeds by letting them know that you are a referral-based seller.

Consistently Drop Referral Seeds:  You don’t have to beat your prospect over the head about referrals, simply gently mention that you’re referral-based when the opportunity arises.  Prospects and clients aren’t stupid and if they hear it enough, they’ll put two and two together and figure you’ll eventually be asking them for referrals.

Have a Direct Referral Conversation with Your New Client:  Once your prospect has converted from prospect to client, you need to have a direct conversation about referrals with them.  The conversation is to let them know why your clients give you referrals, that is, why it is in your client’s own interest to give you referrals; what a quality referral for you is; that your client doesn’t just give you referrals, you earn them, and set the standards by which your client will judge whether or not you’ve earned them; and get your client’s verbal agreement to give referrals if you’ve earned them.

Continue the Referral Seeds:  After your referral conversation, go back to just dropping referral seeds.  Again, there’s no need to beat your client about the head, just gentle, conversational reminders is all that’s needed.

Set the Referral Acquisition Meeting:  Once the sale has been completed, set a meeting with your client to get your referrals.  Set the meeting for a date a few days in the future—remind your client of their agreement to give referrals if you’ve earned them; confirm that you have earned them; review what a good referral for you is; give them a bit of time to think of whom to refer.

Don’t Make Your Client Do All The Work:  While you were working with your client you should have been paying attention and learning whom your client knows.  At the referral acquisition meeting, after your client has given you their referrals, ask them to refer you to the people you’ve learned they know—or you think they may know—that you know you want to be referred to.  By paying attention and asking for specific referrals, you’ll double, triple, quadruple or more the number of quality referrals you receive.

Don’t Get Names and Numbers, Get Introduced:  Instead of just getting a name and number like everyone else, get a direct introduction from your client to the referred prospect.  Get a letter of introduction, arrange for a conference call between the three of you, or set a lunch meeting with your client and the referred prospect.  An introduction turns a name and phone number into a real referral.  A name and phone is nothing but a name and phone number.

Keep Your Client Fully Informed:  Thank your client for every referral and make sure you keep them fully informed of what is going on with each referral they give you.  Not only do they want to know that they’ve helped you, they want to know that you’re not giving them reason to regret having given you referrals.

Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing is a very different animal than generating referrals. 

Word of mouth marketing is the verbal (most often) recommendation of a good, service, or provider of a good or service.  Where a referral is the direct introduction of you to a prospect by a client (or other referral source), word of mouth marketing is having someone suggest a prospect contact you.

These are two radically different forms of prospecting and personal marketing–with very different result expectations.

You control what happens with a referral.  You work with your client to generate the referral.  You get a direct introduction to the prospect.  You’re in control.

With word of mouth marketing you hope your client (or other source) recommends you to a prospect, then you hope the prospect contacts you.  You are almost totally dependent on the effort of someone else to generate prospects for you.

Because they are diametrically opposite in approach, they complement one another well.

Although you have little control over word of mouth marketing, you need a process that will give you as much control and allow you to capture as many word of mouth recommendations as possible.

What process works to help capture as many word of mouth recommendations as possible?  Here’s what works for me.  Again, as above, in abbreviated form:

Earn Recommendations Before Asking for Recommendations:  Although your family and friends may recommend you no matter whether they think you’re the best at what you do, few customers and acquaintances will.  Make every contact’s experience with you exceptional.  Earn their word of mouth recommendation before you ever bring the subject up—and if you’ve failed to make their experience exceptional, don’t ask for recommendations.

Let Your Recommendation Sources Know You Appreciate Their Recommendations:  Let everyone know that you sincerely appreciate their efforts.  Thank them before you get a recommendation from them.  Thank them after every recommendation you receive from them.

Let Your Recommendation Sources Know You Would Like to be Notified When They Recommend You:  You need to know who your sources have recommended you to so you can contact them if you don’t hear from them.  Studies have shown that only about 40% of the people whom you are recommended to will ever contact you.  If, however, you can follow up with them, the number you talk to increases to about 65%, increasing by over 50% the number of recommendations that you have the opportunity to sell.

Give Your Sources a Reason to Take the Time to Recommend You:  Offering your sources a small incentive for making a recommendation is a tangible ‘thank you’ that most clients and recommendation sources will appreciate.  Your incentive need not be particularly large, but it does need to be valuable in the sense that it has value to your source.

Keep Your Recommendation Source Informed:  Just as with a referral, you need to make sure you keep your recommendation source informed of what is happening with the person they recommended you to.  Seeing that their recommendation has proven beneficial for both you and the person they recommended you to will encourage them to make additional recommendations.

To make referral generation and word of mouth marketing effective, you can’t leave them to chance.  If you are willing to invest the time, effort, and dollars to learn how to turn referral generation and word of mouth marketing into effective processes, they can take your sales business to new levels quickly. 

 

Paul McCord, a leading Business Development Strategist and president of McCord Training, works with companies and sales leaders to help them increase sales and profits by finding and connecting with high quality prospects in ways prospects respect and respond to.  An internationally recognized author, speaker, trainer and consultant, Paul’s clients range from giants such as Chase, New York Life, Siemens, and GE, to small and mid-size firms, as well as individual sales leaders.  He is the author of the popular Sales and Sales Management Blog (http://salesandmanagementblog.com). 

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Do You Like the Sales and Sales Management Blog?

Then you’ll love my POWER SELLING newsletter.  Twice each month you’ll get my newsletter that focuses on real solutions to real sales and sales leadership issues with ACTIONABLE guidance, not grand but worthless theory.

Simply shoot an email to me at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com with “Subscribe” in the subject line and your name and email address and I’ll get you subscribed.

And by the way, we hate SPAM also, so we’ll never sell, lease, rent or give your information to anyone—EVER!

Or, if you prefer, just save the Sales and Sales Managemenet Blog to you RSS Reader here.

June 18, 2009

Boost Your Sales series: “Marketing Is What You Do When Your Product Is No Good,” by Dr. Martin Russell

It’s Referrals and Word of Mouth week at the Boost Your Sales blog series. 

Although we have several doctors contributing to the Boost Your Sales series, Dr Martin Russell is our only medical doctor contributor,
and tomorrow I’m up with “Your Connections are Your Key to Your Success”

Stay tuned in next week as a great list of experts—Jeb Blount, Nigel Edelshain, Cindy King and Ardath Albee give great guidance on “Prospecting and Social Media”

____________________________________________________________________

Marketing Is What You Do When Your Product Is No Good
by Dr. Martin Russell

My background is as a medical doctor, and this quote, “Marketing is what you do when your product is no good”, was handed to me by one of my patients who knows of my marketing work.

She is one of those people who thinks that marketing should be a four-letter word.

My first reaction was to be insulted.

But then I stopped, and I said to her that this quote was either from someone who had never been successful in sales, or it was from a ‘natural’ salesman who just didn’t call what they did marketing.

Turns out this quote is from Edwin Land (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Land) chief executive of the Polaroid Corporation for almost 50 years, scientist, and inventor of the film for the Polaroid instant camera.

The Polaroid camera was such a brilliant invention that the story goes that when…

“fifty-seven (cameras) were put up for sale at Boston’s Jordan Marsh department store before the 1948 Christmas holiday … all fifty-seven cameras and all of the film were sold on the first day of demonstrations.”

Was the product good?

Certainly.

But was there any marketing?

Well someone chose to put them in that store, chose the timing just before Christmas, and created the demonstrations.

Heck yes there was marketing!

And that’s the point.

There was lots of marketing. It was just that the marketing matched the product so well that Edwin Land could claim it wasn’t there.

If you want to be a great salesman I hope you have read and devoured Paul McCord’s books on referral selling. They will teach you to walk and talk referrals as an intrinsic part of your service. Million-dollar sales people are always overlapping the marketing and the service.

Many people in small/micro businesses don’t want to think of themselves as marketers.

They reluctantly place their Yellow Pages ad, or put up a website, or quiver in their shoes at the thought of asking for referrals.

That’s why I like to start with word of mouth referrals. No matter how much a business owner is against marketing, they want people talking about them and giving them word of mouth referrals.

Word of mouth can seem haphazard, but done properly, it can be on-demand, consistent, and best of all, a win for everyone concerned.

It comes down to this.

You can have a separate mental category called ‘marketing’ – or you can realize it is all part and parcel of providing your product or service.

Consider these four aspects…

1. Clients want to have better lives. This means they want your great products and services!

2. Clients want to be able to rely on you to be there for them, no matter what the economy does. This means they want you to stay in business!

3. Clients want to continue adding value to their lives. This means they want you to follow-up!

4. And finally, clients care about people they know, and they don’t want them ripped off, or given poor advice, or let down. This means, if you will take care of people properly, they want to give you referrals!

So rather than be cynical (scared?) of ‘marketing’ like my patient who brought me the quote, it is up to you to as a business owner to help people over that problem.

But first, are YOU over that problem of thinking of marketing as separate from your business?

Remember, you don’t have to be a ‘natural’ like Edwin Land, because marketing – yes even plain old word of mouth referrals – has a specific set of skills that can be learned.

Dr Martin Russell is a medical doctor with his own solo by-referral counseling practice, as well as being co-author of “Word of Mouth Magic” – http://www.WordofMouthMagicEbook.com and having his marketing blog at www.WordofMouthMagic.com

———————————————————————————————————————

Do You Like the Sales and Sales Management Blog?

Then you’ll love my POWER SELLING newsletter.  Twice each month you’ll get my newsletter that focuses on real solutions to real sales and sales leadership issues with ACTIONABLE guidance, not grand but worthless theory.

Simply shoot an email to me at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com with “Subscribe” in the subject line and your name and email address and I’ll get you subscribed.

And by the way, we hate SPAM also, so we’ll never sell, lease, rent or give your information to anyone—EVER!

Or, if you prefer, just save the Sales and Sales Managemenet Blog to you RSS Reader here.

June 17, 2009

Boost Your Sales series: “There’s No Such Thing as a Warm Call,” by Joanne Black

Big Day at the Sales and Sales Management Blog
as We Celebrate Our 500th Post

And that post is Joanne Black’s “There No Such Thing as a Warm Call” continuing our Referrals/Word of Mouth Marketing week

Tomorrow Dr. Martin Russell discusses “Marketing Is What You Do When Your Product Is No Good”
and finally, on Friday I up with “Your Connections are Your Key to Your Success”

Stay tuned in next week as a great list of experts—Jeb Blount, Nigel Edelshain, Cindy King and Ardath Albee give great guidance on “Prospecting and Social Media”
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There’s No Such Thing as a Warm Sales Call
By Joanne S. Black

A sales call is either cold or HOT. Fortunately, there is a way to make nothing but hot calls, with a fantastic rate of return. The secret is referrals.

If you’re like most salespeople—when you receive a qualified referral, you convert a sales prospect to a paying client well more than 50 percent of the time. In fact, more like 70 or 90 percent of the time. In addition:

•           You’re pre-sold

•           You have credibility

•           You shorten your sales process, and

•           You ace out the competition

Not only are referred clients more profitable, but also they are the first to refer you to others. Make referral selling your sales prospecting strategy, and you will dramatically increase your sales, your revenue, and your profits.

The Definition of a Referral: An Introduction

The only way to make HOT calls is when you receive a personal introduction. The prospect knows who you are and is expecting your call. This is the definition of a qualified referral—and the only definition.

There are many things written about different types of referrals—it’s one kind of referral if you have a name, another if you have a reference, another if you’ve been introduced. No. There’s only one kind of referral—and it requires that you have a personal introduction.

Salespeople often delude themselves into thinking they are making “warm sales calls” when in fact, they’re actually making cold calls.

Consider the following situations:

•           You call someone because you got their name came from a colleague or friend. Cold!

•           You call someone and then follow up with a letter. Cold!

•           The person’s name came from a specific list. Still cold!

Cold Calling is Bad Math

These are all cold calls—the person doesn’t know you and is not expecting your call. Even though you think you’ve been able to avoid sounding like a telemarketer, this type of call is still cold. And cold calling is a numbers game. If we make 100 calls, we’ll talk to about 20 people, schedule 10 appointments, and if we’re lucky, close one new deal. That’s a 1 percent return on our time.

Whether it’s direct mail, making a phone call, or unsolicited email, this is spam. Why bother with a sales system that gets such dismal results? Your time is worth more.

Every salesperson and sales executive will agree that referrals are the best business—nothing else comes close. Yet, when I ask this same group if they have a targeted sales strategy to build their business through referrals—with a written referral plan, weekly referral goals, and a way to track and measure referral results… silence. On one hand, referral business is unsurpassed; and on the other, salespeople do not have a consistent referral-sales strategy. It’s common sense, but not common practice.

Five Tips to Make the Shift from Cold to HOT

1.         Make a list of everyone you know—current clients, past clients, peers, neighbors, service providers, friends, past co-workers, volunteer groups, etc. You should have at least 100 names. Prioritize the list so that the people that you know the best are at the top of your list.

2.         Set a goal and decide how many people you will contact each week. Arrange in-person meetings whenever possible (face time matters).

3.         Tell your referral sources that you are building your business through referrals and would like their help. Describe your ideal client and ask for one or two people who meet your description.

4.         When your referral source makes a suggestion, find out as much as you can about the prospect and his company.

5.         Then ask your referral source to make the introduction. The introduction could be by phone, in person, or by e-mail.

Start thinking about how you spend your time and the type of payoff you want. Get that treasured introduction. Get HOT! Get referrals!

Joanne Black is a leading authority on referral selling and the founder of No More Cold Calling. She is the author of No More Cold Calling™, The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust from Warner Business Books. For more information, visit http://www.NoMoreColdCalling.com. Phone: 415-461-8763 |  joanne@nomorecoldcalling.com

———————————————————————————————————————

Do You Like the Sales and Sales Management Blog?

Then you’ll love my POWER SELLING newsletter.  Twice each month you’ll get my newsletter that focuses on real solutions to real sales and sales leadership issues with ACTIONABLE guidance, not grand but worthless theory.

Simply shoot an email to me at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com with “Subscribe” in the subject line and your name and email address and I’ll get you subscribed.

And by the way, we hate SPAM also, so we’ll never sell, lease, rent or give your information to anyone—EVER!

Or, if you prefer, just save the Sales and Sales Managemenet Blog to you RSS Reader here.

June 16, 2009

Boost Your Sales series: “Make Sure You Get One GREAT Referral,” by Bill Cates

It’s Referrals and Word of Mouth week at the Boost Your Sales blog series. 

Today it’s Bill Cates

Tomorrow Joanne Black is here with “There’s No Such Thing as a Warm Sales Call”

Thursday Dr. Martin Russell discusses “Marketing Is What You Do When Your Product Is No Good”

and finally, on Friday I up with “Your Connections are Your Key to Your Success”

Stay tuned in next week as a great list of experts—Jeb Blount, Nigel Edelshain, Cindy King and Ardath Albee give great guidance on “Prospecting and Social Media”

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Make Sure You Get One GREAT Referral
By Bill Cates

One of the questions I always get is “How many names do you try to get in one sitting?”  My answer to this is “it depends.” It depends on how open your referral source is to the process; how much time and energy they feel like devoting. My personal record is 17 names in one phone call, and I’ve gotten 10-11 on several occasions. But NOT because I pushed my clients into this. I was ready to move on to another subject several times, but they kept on going, and going, and going (like the Eveready Energizer Bunny.)

 At a recent referral boot camp, an advisor told me his method. He told me that he doesn’t “brainstorm” for a lot of names. He says this to his clients, “I’m glad you really see the importance and value of the work we’ve done together. Who is one person that you know, who you think should really know about the work I do?”   He only asks for one referral each time, but the one he gets is always a good one – a high-trust referral.

Now, it must be said that this advisor is extremely successful and doesn’t need the quantity that some advisors need.  If you need more than just one great referral, do what I usually teach – come prepared to suggest several places (names, categories, target lists, etc.) and brainstorm with your client.  You can use this method as part of the overall brainstorming.

Remember, if you ask, they can always say, “no.”  If you don’t ask, the answers is always “no.”  Don’t run your career afraid of the word “no.” They won’t stop being your client, for goodness sakes.

Bill Cates is the author of Get More Referrals Now! and Don’t Keep Me a Secret! To receive Bill’s complimentary newsletter and to learn more about how his boot camps, coaching, books and other referral tools can help you acquire more and better clients through referrals, go to http://www.ReferralCoach.com (301-497-2200)

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