I got a message from another friend of mine that has resulted in my removing a couple of sentences from a previous post on “Shotgunning“. After we meet, (soon I hope), I’ll provide more insight into the situation that I wrote about last week.



10 Sales Basics

Even if you think you’re well versed in the selling basics, it’s important to keep your skills razor sharp. Sales fundamentals like listening and asking questions may make the difference between winning and losing, so don’t assume that a refresher course in the basics is beneath your level of expertise. These 10 reminders will keep your skills polished and form a strong selling foundation for career-long success.

1. Listen intently. The 80/20 rule bears repeating: Spend 80 percent of your time listening, and only 20 percent talking. You’re there to serve your customer’s needs, but you won’t be able to if you don’t stop talking long enough to uncover them. Ask a lot of questions, and take notes on the answers to force you to listen carefully and help ensure that you remember important points of the conversation. Sit on the edge of your seat, and be fascinated by what your prospects have to say – a big sale may be riding on every word.

2. Ask questions first, present later. Make sure you understand their needs, wants, expectations and feelings 100 percent so that your presentation hits all of their hot buttons. Ask questions first to ensure that you don’t share all your good news on page one – it may help build your prospect’s trust by showing them that their needs come before your desire to sell to them.

3. Uncover needs – don’t presume them. Just as no competent doctor prescribes treatment before thoroughly examining a patient, you should let your prospects tell you what they need instead of assuming that you already know. Should you make product or service recommendations without consulting them, they may question your competence and intentions. Remember – your prospects know themselves and their businesses best. Give them a chance to share that knowledge with you to benefit you both.

4. Uncover the budget . Once you and your prospects know how much they can spend, both of you can consider a buying decision more seriously. Assure prospects that you’ll do your best for them regardless of the size of their budget. When you’ve proven your honesty and reliability with a small order, your customers may reward you with more and bigger ones. If your prospect seems uncomfortable discussing money, ask for a ballpark figure, and work from there.

5. Uncover the decision making process.Presentations demand a lot of work and time, so make sure you present to those who can reward your effort with a sale. It may take longer to reach all of the decision makers, but trying to sell to non deciison makers simply wastes time – yours and theirs. Instead of presenting to the wrong people, spend your time building trust with gatekeepers who hold the key to the decision maker’s office and your next sale.

6. Build rapport without going overboard. Salespeople who try too hard to make friends of their prospects may be doing more harm than good. Most prospects want a salesperson who will be an informative industry resource, problem solver and reliable business partner – not a golfing buddy. Stick to impressing prospects with your honesty and expertise instead of your winning personality.

7. Don’t answer unspoken objections. When customers voice concerns, uncover the real issue by asking them why they raised that point. You never know just how much your prospects know about your product, so don’t volunteer information they may perceive as being negative.

8. Customize the sale. We all like to be treated like the special, unique individuals that we are, so tailor your selling style to suit each of your prospects. To keep them happy and comfortable, observe their personality and character closely, then conduct yourself accordingly. The more your customers feel like the center of your attention, the more likely they are to return for more of the VIP treatment.

9. Go with the flow. Few people really like to be sold, and fewer still enjoy being manipulated. Your desire to close a sale is secondary to your customers’ needs – make sure you can really help the prospects you target. When your product or service truly solves a problem, you shouldn’t have to manipulate the buyer into a purchase. The hard sell usually only raises the prospect’s defenses. Instead, take greater control of the sale by turning some of it over to the customer.

10. Have a selling system. Make sure you have a proven system that helps you generate prospects, set appointments, close sales and provide quality, consistent follow-up service. When problems arise, your system will simplify diagnosing and treating them.

Joe (part 2)

4 More of Those Costly Marketing Mistakes
By Joe Gracia

To be successful and profitable, you must START using the most effective marketing strategies possible within your overall marketing plans. Less obvious, is the fact that you must also STOP using the most ineffective, money-wasting marketing strategies. While this list doesn’t cover ‘all’ of the possible marketing mistakes, it does describe some of the most expensive, destructive and most ‘common’ made by many owners of traditional and home based businesses. Here are four more costly mistakes:

It seems natural to tell your prospects about you and your company. We’re proud of what we do and how we do it and we ‘assume’ that our prospects will be impressed and motivated to take action.

‘We’ve been in business for 16 years…’

‘We are an award winning, cutting-edge organization…’

‘We are equipped with the latest micro-techno, laser-guided, nuclear-activated widget-gizmos…’

Too often these phrases evoke the following responses from prospects:

‘So what?’

‘Big deal.’

‘Who cares?’

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that your marketing materials shouldn’t include background information about you and your company and/or specifications about your product/service. I’m saying that this should be ‘supportive’ information, not your ‘primary’ marketing message.

It’s a costly marketing mistake to think that prospects ‘care’ about the same things you care about. They rarely do. However, they do care deeply about something entirely different. Once you know what that is, and you address it powerfully and clearly in your marketing, you will begin to draw prospects to you like a magnet.

Ask the typical small business owner what marketing is, and he/she will probably reply, ‘Advertising.’
What kinds of advertising? ‘Yellow Page ads, newspaper ads, magazine ads, radio ads, television ads, billboards, bus cards, Val-Pak mailings, etc.’

While all of these advertising devices can certainly be a ‘part’ of a successful marketing strategy, there are also dozens of ‘low-cost’ and ‘no-cost’ marketing methods available to the small business marketer. By simply discovering and applying these simple ‘low-cost,’ ‘no-cost’ methods, you will be able to significantly stretch the effectiveness and profitability of your marketing efforts.

If ‘everyone’ else is doing it, then it must be the right thing to do. Remember mom’s admonition, ‘If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you want to jump too?’

Look at the local, small business ads in any newspaper and you will find the same basic format, same basic message, same basic strategy (see Marketing Mistake #1). . . and the same basic results; little or no response. We feel safe in the crowd. Safe doing what everyone else is doing. We also ‘assume’ that if it works for them, it can work equally well for us.

Unfortunately, a business’s success is rarely from ‘one’ element in their marketing strategy. Their success is the result of ‘many’ diverse marketing elements; from their location, to their possible lack of competition, to their ‘personality’ and ‘abundance or lack of’ marketing aggressiveness.

But we rarely take all of these strategic elements into consideration when ‘copying’ our competitors. Copying a single marketing element from a competitor is like reaching into ‘their’ pile of puzzle pieces, pulling out one piece and then trying to make it fit into your puzzle. It rarely works because your marketing puzzle is unique and each piece must fit ‘perfectly’ with all of your other pieces.

In addition, whatever success a competitor may be experiencing can often be from a ‘few’ of their less obvious or ‘visible’ marketing methods. Often the highly visible element (ad, flyer, brochure, etc.) is one of the least effective. You end up copying the profit losers, rather than developing your own profit winners.

Directing your marketing to ‘everyone’ but to ‘no one’ in particular guarantees that your marketing will be ignored. Many small businesses have failed to determine who their best prospects are, where those prospects live or how to reach them effectively and efficiently.

This is a critical first step in any successful marketing strategy. By skipping this step, they resort to running vague and generic ‘one-step’ ads in mass media, such as local newspapers, magazines, radio, television, cable, Val-pak mailings, Internet Web sites, etc. Their ‘hope’ is that by presenting their ‘generic’ message about their business to the ‘greatest’ number of people, the result will be the highest number of sales. Wrong.

Unfortunately for them, effective marketing doesn’t work that way. The fact is, in most cases only a small percentage of the readers/listeners/viewers of mass media will have a ‘need’ for your product or service at any given time.

Some business owners may have a hard time believing this, but nevertheless, it’s true. ‘Everyone’ does not need or want your product or service. By not targeting your marketing to your very ‘best’ and logical prospects, you are wasting most of your marketing dollars on people who have little or no interest in your product or service.

If there are only 100 ‘true’ prospects for your product or service out of 10,000 possible readers of a publication, why would you want to spend thousands of dollars presenting your message over and over to the 9,900 non-prospects? Yet, this is the method most small business owners choose because they don’t know that there is a much more cost-effective and profitable strategy.

– By Joe Gracia (c) Copyright 2000 – Give to Get Marketing

Shotgun or sharp shooter

This week I sat down with a friend of mine who had reached the one year mark in their business. There was a tone of frustration in their voice.

So, first of all we examined just what numbers were needed to make it all work. After we looked at their closing ratio, and retention rate, it was determined that over 12 months, they needed to get their message to 3000 people. Of that 3000, 33% would likely become customers. This 1/3 conversion rate is pretty standard in a lot of sales positions. (If someone is hitting 33% in my company, then they should be doing pretty good.)

We discussed the way their parent company told them to market themselves and it sounded like a shotgun approach. Next we examined the results for the dollars spent. This was really bad news. After looking at the numbers, it was costing them $41 dollars to get a new client. Problem is that they earned about 1/2 that amount. Ouch.

I saw a restaurant try the shotgun approach a couple of years ago. They went bankrupt.

Here is an answer that you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to learn by going to a seminar by some hot-shot marketing/advertising guru, or I’ll give it to you free. This advice is priceless:

1. Know your numbers. Odds are that you don’t know how many new clients you need each year. Find out. If you are in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area, contact me and I’ll help you. In the case of the business that I spoke with this week, the number was only 3000 people. There are 377,000 people living the the SMSA. They only need to talk to 3000 of them face to face. (Less than 1%!) And convert only 1/3 of the 3000 to customers based on their track record of success.

2. Target your number with enough advertising and marketing. So instead of reaching 377,000 people, you now only need to reach 3000. That’s 3000 over the course of 12 months that will become potential customers, of which you convert 1000 into paying customers. So present yourself week after week or better yet day after day to those 3000 people with a reason for them to talk to you with your advertising and marketing. Pick the most appropriate medium to do this. Of course I believe radio is usually the most effective way to do this, there are others too. Answer this question: would you rather convince 100 people 10% of the way to do business with you or 10 people 100% of the way to do business with you. The later pays, the former costs. That’s it. Become a sharp-shooter, not a shotgunner!

Changes, and Adapting

Due to changes in my responsibilities, I stepped down from my position as Education Coordinator of the B.N.I. that I have been a member of for the past 3 years. What Changes? Well, as the station manager of a radio station whose primary focus is on Business and Baby Boomer’s, my focus needed to change to a larger business scope and become involved in a larger center of influence.

In particular, The Chamber of Commerce which has monthly morning meetings at the same time as my weekly B.N.I. meetings. We currently have a weekly radio program that is hosted by Phil Laux, the President of the Chamber that is extremely popular and I also initiated a relationship with the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly newspaper to provide us with daily business news updates.

As I look at where I am focusing my energies, I will continue to evaluate and adjust. I also learned a few lessons in the past couple of years in relation to involvement in a Networking Group.

1. Look for ways to give. Be patient. This is a relationship building process.
2. Make friends. In the past 12 months, the biggest return on my investment of time, energy and $ with my B.N.I. group was the ability to go to my fellow members and use their services and expertise.
3. Stay open and positive. After today’s meetings one of the other members asked if I was available to substitute for her next week. Which I am able to do this time!

So, what about you and your associations? Have you adapted to changes in your life? Or are you still hanging out with your old friends from school, re-living the past. There’s a way to stay in touch with and maintain old relationships and forge new ones at the same time. Take the time though to focus and contemplate before you jump.

One last item. This week a Doctor client of mine called me up and asked me for a referral for someone to handle some of her tax and business matters. This was due to trust, relationships and the right attitude. All of which takes time.

Joe (part 1)

13 Costly Marketing Mistakes
By Joe Gracia

I call them The 13 Costly Marketing Mistakes. While this list doesn’t cover ‘all’ of the possible marketing mistakes, it does describe some of the most expensive, destructive and most ‘common’ made by many owners of traditional and home based businesses. Here are the first four.

The ‘One-Step’ marketing strategy is the most common marketing strategy used by most small business owners today. It’s everywhere — and it’s a big money waster. It consists of an ad, flyer or other marketing vehicle that simply ‘announces’ the business name, possibly lists a few basic features of the product or service and ends with an address and phone number.

The prospect is now expected to respond to this type of marketing piece by immediately purchasing the product or service.

Unless you are offering an extremely ‘high-demand,’ ‘hard-to-get’ product/service (an original Van Gogh painting for $100, Super Bowl tickets, etc.) this marketing strategy ‘almost always’ results in little or no response. This strategy totally disregards the ‘psychological buying sequence’ of consumers. It’s very much like walking up to a stranger at a party and asking ‘Would you marry me?’ What do you think the response would be?

Not knowing for sure which of your marketing efforts are producing results and which are big ‘money-wasters’ is a guaranteed way to minimize your results. Even new businesses are investing in up to a ‘dozen’ marketing devices at any given time. Not only are we talking about traditional media, like newspaper or Yellow Page ads but ‘many’ others that may not be as obvious.

These marketing devices are either contributing to your business profit or destroying it. Most business owners don’t have a clue as to which is which. If they did, they could easily guarantee increasing their profitable results by investing more in the winning devices and eliminating the money-wasting, losing devices.

Expecting your prospects to ‘know’ exactly what you want them to do guarantees low results. Never, never, never assume. Take a look at most small business ads and you’ll see that the business owners are almost always ‘assuming’ that the prospect will know exactly what they want them to do . . . without telling them.

At the bottom of the ad there will be a phone number and an address. Usually nothing more. Ask one of these business owners what they ‘wanted’ the prospect to do after reading their ad and they will most likely reply, ‘Buy my product! Isn’t it obvious??’ The answer is a resounding ‘No!’

For one, there is rarely enough information in the typical marketing piece for a consumer to make an ‘immediate’ buying decision. Therefore, that can’t be the action expected from the consumer.

Second, the marketing competition for the prospect’s consumer dollars is fierce. The prospect is usually exposed to dozens of ads for basically the same product/service. Obviously, he or she is not going to take ‘action’ on every single ad.

How do ‘you’ insure that they will respond to ‘your’ marketing piece and take the specific action you intended? Certainly, not by ‘assuming’ that they will ‘know’ or ‘figure out’ what you want them to do.

In order for a business owner to tell prospects exactly what action to take next, the business owner must know what that action should be. Once you know the ‘psychological buying sequence’ the next expected action becomes obvious.

Closely related to mistake number 3, is the marketing piece that again simply ‘announces’ the business name, lists a few basic features of the product or service, ends with an address and phone number . . . and then asks the prospect to ‘Call for More Information.’

One of the last things a prospect wants, is to feel dumb. What information should they ask for? Does this mean that the business doesn’t have a brochure or any other literature? Are they going to have to take notes?? Will there be a test?

The other thing ‘no prospect’ wants is to feel pressured. Whether it’s true or not, the average prospect ‘assumes’ that they’ll get a ‘high-pressured’ sales pitch if they call. Most do not want to risk this pain.
Therefore, the ‘Call for More Information’ tag is almost always ignored.

While ‘some’ prospects may not have a problem responding to this ‘vague’ directive, the majority do. If you doubt this . . . try putting it at the bottom of your marketing pieces. You’ll soon be convinced that few prospects, if any, respond to the ‘Call for More Information’ marketing mistake.

Watch for the next four Marketing Mistakes in the next issue of the Marketing Advisor.

– By Joe Gracia (c) Copyright 2000 – Give to Get Marketing