Follow up

Last year I was in a networking group with a young lady that did more prospecting than my entire sales staff, all by herself, week after week. One day we talked about how her results were and discovered she was not following up, hardly ever! It usually takes more than one contact to build a quality relationship that leads to a win-win buy/sell sales relationship.

Here’s something from my email today on the subject:

Daily Sales Tip: Maintain a Cycle of Contact

Top salespeople believe that when a sale is closed, a relationship begins.

They follow up regularly, prompting themselves with email reminders or desktop calendars that tell them when a prospect is due for a phone call, a letter, or email.

Most times, they take the buyer’s temperature by asking how everything is and how the product or service is working out for them.

In addition to boosting loyalty, regular follow-up keeps the salesperson on the prospect’s radar, which often means they’re the first person contacted when it’s time to make a purchase.

Source: Business consultant Ron Karr, CEO and founder of Karr & Associates, Inc. (ronkarr.com)

So, what system do you use to keep track of your follow ups? (Post a comment and share your favorite and not so favorite systems)

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Guess who’s on the net!

Note the language that is being used in the following story which is a press release from Vertis Communication. Vertis has been a print oriented company according to their own website, “Vertis Communications is a premier provider of print advertising, direct marketing solutions, and related value-added services to America’s leading retail and consumer services companies. Vertis delivers marketing programs that create strategic value for clients by using creative services, color management technologies, proprietary research, customer targeting expertise, premedia and media services, combined with its world-class printing expertise. Headquartered in Baltimore with over 100 locations in the U.S., Vertis Communications has been recognized as one of Fortune magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” in advertising and marketing. For more information, visit www.vertisinc.com“. The language in the press release says, “responded to direct mail advertising in the past month by visiting a sender’s Web site“.

What is the relationship between direct mail and website advertising? Which drives the consumer? Anyway, here’s the story….

Electronic Media Survey Says:

Retirees Surf and Respond

According to the Vertis Communications 2007 Customer Focus Tech Savvy study, twenty-one percent of total adults in 2007 have responded to direct mail advertising in the past month by visiting a sender’s Web site. Findings also revealed that older men’s responsiveness to direct mail advertising through the Internet has grown the most, with 28 percent of men ages 55-64 indicating this behavior and 15 percent of men 65 and older exhibiting the same pattern.

Jim Litwin, vice president of market insights for Vertis Communications, noted that “…targeting the older population may greatly increase the overall effectiveness of marketers’ spending, particularly as men reach retirement and find more time to surf the Web.”

Click here for more.

Sales prospecting advice


I have recently met some people that are new to sales, especially business to business sales, so here are some words of wisdom regarding how to get started:

Overcoming Your Fear Of Selling With The Telephone
By C.J. Hayden, Contributing Editor

You can spend hours, days, and weeks of your marketing time attending networking events, looking for places to speak, having lunch, and writing articles. But if you want your efforts to pay off, sooner or later you have to pick up the phone and call someone. It might be a cold call or a warm follow-up call, but regardless, selling by phone is a fact of doing business.

It is completely normal to feel apprehensive about calling strangers or near-strangers on the phone. You may not even acknowledge that you are afraid of making phone calls, but somehow, mysteriously, a hot lead will sit on your desk day after day and you just won’t get around to picking up the phone.

If you’re a professional selling your own services, you may think that this discomfort is because you’re not a “real” salesperson. But studies reveal that up to 40% of full-time salespeople experience episodes of call reluctance serious enough to threaten their careers.

The good news is that this fear doesn’t have to be permanent. Because research indicates that for over 95% of people who are resistant to making sales calls, the fear subsides once they make contact. If you stop avoiding the calls and start making them, there is a very good chance that you will actually feel better once you start talking to someone. Here are some tips for getting started.

Anatomy Of A Sales Call

An effective sales call is simply a conversation with a purpose. The purpose of most sales calls is twofold: to find out if the person or organization is truly a good prospect for you and, if so, to attempt to make a sales presentation. A presentation, in this context, is the time when you find out what your prospects need, tell them what you can do for them, and see if there’s a match. It’s not necessarily made in a formal setting, and may even happen on the phone.

To accomplish your objectives, you will need to ask questions, not just deliver information. When you reach your prospect on the phone, begin with a ten-second introduction of yourself and your business; then move immediately into conversation by asking a question. “Do you have a moment to talk about how I can help your company get better results from its training programs?” Is a sample opening.

Be ready with two or three questions that will tell you immediately whether the person you are speaking with has a need for your services. Does he or she have a problem that your service solves, or a goal with which you can assist? Is the organization open to hiring outside help in this area? What capabilities are they looking for?

If you identify that a need is there, ask for a meeting on the spot. If instead you normally present by phone, either make an appointment to do so or do it right then. Don’t back away by offering to send literature first or referring them to your website for more information. You may never get your prospect live on the phone again.

Only if he or she declines to meet with you, or to take time for your phone presentation, should you offer to send something by mail or email. This is also a polite way to end the conversation if the answers to your qualifying questions indicate this is not a good prospect for you.

Overcoming Your Reluctance

Before you make a call, it’s perfectly natural to have a moment of fear. You have no idea how your call is going to be received, and if the person on the other end refuses to speak with you or isn’t interested, it can be hard not to feel personally rejected.

Try asking yourself, “What is the worst thing that could possibly happen if I made that call?” Would it be hearing, “Don’t bother me,” or “Not interested?” Or would it be worse if the person you called was interested and you got tongue-tied and lost the sale? If you don’t place the call, you’ve lost the sale anyway. So how bad could making the call really be?

The fact is that most people are polite in their refusals. They say, “No, thank you,” and hang up. And when someone is interested in what you have to offer, the conversation gets easy pretty quickly; your prospect may actually help you along.

You can help yourself gain confidence if you spend some time preparing for each call. Write out a series of talking points to refer to while you’re on the phone. Include the questions you want to ask, any facts you wish to present, and answers to questions you can predict that the prospect may ask you. Increase your comfort level by role playing some calls with a colleague, friend, or coach.

So what do you think: can you pick up the phone? You’ll never know what you are missing out on unless you make the call.

C.J. Hayden is a Contributing Editor for RainToday.com. She is also the author of Get Clients NOW! Thousands of business owners and salespeople have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of “Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You’ll Ever Need” at Get Clients Now. You can reach C.J. by email at: coachcj@getclientsnow.com.

Six Things You Must Stop Doing

From my email this week:

Daily Sales Tip: Six Things You Must Stop Doing

In sales as in life, there are things you have to give up so you can go up. Making tradeoffs is part of paying the price to reach your next performance level. Following are six strategies for building a higher degree of excellence and consistency in your career.

1. Stop waiting for something to happen and get busy to make it happen. Stop living passively and take action. You can’t sit or wait your way to the next level. You’ll have to climb there and that means you need to make something happen…today…right now!

To develop an action-bias, strike early each day and stay in motion all day. Resolve to go from order-taker to order-maker.

2. Stop just putting in more time and begin putting more into your time. It’s not important that you get everything done each day; what is vital is that you get the right things done each day!

Work within the disciplines of priorities or you work yourself to death. Identify your highest-return activities and schedule them. Identify your highest leverage customers and make time for them.

3. Stop making excuses and start making results. You can go from failure to success but you can’t go from excuses to success because excuses stop you from acknowledging what the real problem is: you.

What is the number one excuse you use to explain away your lack of greater success? Decide to give this excuse up now!

4. Stop treating training like it is punishment. If you don’t realize the value of training you are either arrogant, ignorant or both. If you don’t think you need training, let me set the record straight for you: You’re not that good! Professionals in any field never get so good they don’t need to practice, so don’t think for a minute you’re the exception.

The level of your practice will determine the level of your play: Which skills are you working on this week? Which product or services are you committed to learning more about this week? If you can’t be specific, you need to get serious about the selling profession. You can’t get more than you have until you become more than you are.

5. Stop planting the seeds to your next rut during the good times. The good times can put you to sleep. They make you believe that since you’ve “arrived,” basic disciplines like prospecting, practicing and planning no longer apply to you. The results of this foolishness don’t show up overnight but they will show up over time. It’s inevitable. You don’t have to do anything extraordinary to make a great living in sales but you must consistently do the ordinary things extraordinarily well.

When you find yourself in a rut, it’s not the result of something you did last night. It’s a series of bad decisions and failed disciplines you’ve sown over time that are just now manifesting themselves.

6. Stop hanging around with losers. Don’t hang around with an easy crowd because you won’t grow.

Spending time with the fellowship of the miserable — whiners, complainers and gossips, will cut your paycheck in half at the least. Those you associate with on the job influence your values, attitude and discipline. Choose your associations carefully because eventually you become like them. Associate with people who elevate not devastate you.

Source: Sales trainer/author Dave Anderson, president of Dave Anderson’s Learn to Lead and LearnToLead.com

Scene At The Mall


The following is from my email inbox today. Just some info to help plan your day, week, or life:
The holiday shopping season once again makes its triumphant debut, with door-buster deals, festive décor and retailers eagerly awaiting the big crowds. General Growth Properties, Inc., one of the largest owners, developers and managers of regional shopping centers, recently conducted a survey to take the pulse of consumers.
Here is what they found:
• 65% of consumers plan to do their holiday shopping Monday through Thursday.
• On average, consumers shop for eight people.
• Last-minute shoppers are the minority, with only 7% making a mad dash to purchase holiday gifts.
• More than half of consumers 25 and under expect to spend their total holiday budget at the mall.
• On average, consumers spend $800 on holiday gifts.
• 60% of consumers plan to have an artificial Christmas tree versus 26% who will put up a real tree.
• Only 43% confess to re-gifting presents, but 7% were actually caught in the act.
• 40% say mom and dad are the hardest to shop for.

Making Blogs and Websites easy on the eyes


One of my pet peeves with a lot of My Space pages is that the custom layouts that people would use, they would abuse, to the point of them being unreadable. Too many flashing stars, razz and pizazz, and no substance. That’s why I only have a My Space and Face Book site for the simple purpose of being able to have access to other friends and family that use those sites. Any real writing will be done on one of my blogs.

Well, over the weekend, I fell into the customization trap and last night noticed that some of the postings on this site were very difficult to read due to colors of fonts and backgrounds. Sorry ’bout that. Now things are easier to read. Which is the point in the first place.

Eat, Drink and watch more commercials!


UPDATE: Stories about Napkin advertising and Subway Restaurants are included in this post. Eat carefully.

As each year goes by, the number of commercial messages and advertisements each of us are exposed to continue to rise. 5 years ago the “experts” said the average American was exposed to 3000 messages every day!

Fortunately our brains grow numb and we do not actively read or hear every one of those messages. I know, you’re saying, “3 Thousand!, no way!!! ” Yes, way! Even without leaving your home, there are hundreds of ads in your face when you go online. And these messages are not always in your face screaming car commercials.
There’s product placement in your favorite TV Show, the cup from Arby’s that sits on my desk as I type has the Arby’s logo and slogan on it. The free calculator that has the logo and phone number of a HVAC company, the pen, the wall calender, even my stapler says Swingline on it. All of these messages count.

I recall an argument 10 years ago against NASCAR, saying they were too commercial with all the sponsors plastered all over their cars. They were just ahead of the game.

Don’t get me wrong, advertising is good, it’s a way of communicating either directly or subtlety to your customer. And it works, too. Except that with more and more choices out there to use for an advertising medium, your advertising better be good, or it will be tuned out. Or if it is really bad, it will generate attention too, and enourage folks NOT to do business with you.

By the way, here’s another advertising media that we are going to be exposed to in 2008 as we try and eat fresh:

InStore Heads Into Subways: The Restaurants, Not The Transit System
by Joe Mandese, Tuesday, Nov 27, 2007 8:00 AM ET
IN THE BATTLE FOR DOMINANCE in the burgeoning retail media marketplace, InStore Broadcasting Network has cut a deal that will bring advertising and digital video content into subways nationwide – not the transit systems, but the fast-food chains. IBN, which is one of the Big 3 retail media networks, competing with Premiere Retail Network and CBS Outernet (previously SignStorey), that dominate the U.S. supermarket industry, is moving into the fast food business via a deal with Subway, MediaDailyNews has learned. Details of the deal could not be discerned at presstime, but the agreement is believed to be system-wide, and would bring IBN’s advertising and video content into nearly 30,000 subway restaurant franchises operating in some 85 countries worldwide, making it one of the biggest video advertising networks in the world.

McDonald’s, the No. 1 fast-food chain, experimented with a video advertising network in a partnership with Turner Broadcasting in the 1980s, but ultimately pulled the plug on that venture. But IBN’s deal with Subway no doubt will revive interest in the fast-food industry, coming at a time when digital out-of-home media networks are popping up in virtually every retail venue.

Joe Mandese is Editor of MediaPost.

Wipe Me: Napkin Ads Extend Consumer Awareness
by Erik Sass, Tuesday, Nov 27, 2007 8:00 AM ET
NAPADS, A COMPANY THAT OPERATES a virtual napkin network covering popular nightlife venues, has spent the last year extending its distribution to cover the country’s major markets. It has also forged a new partnership with US Airways to deliver as many as 9 million impressions per buy. The burgeoning “napwork” represents another entrant in advertising via disposable paper hygienic products.

Since its launch in January of this year, NapAds has created napkin ads for Absolut, American Express, Bacardi, CW2 and Finlandia, among other advertisers. Target venues include restaurants, sports venues, cinemas, amusement parks, colleges, nightclubs and bars. The 5-inch square cocktail napkins offer photo-realistic images and ample space for text messages printed with non-toxic, no-run ink.

NapAds isn’t alone in its efforts.

Since 2006, AdPack USA has been distributing free packs of tissues with printed ad messages for clients like H&R Block, Zagat and Commerce Bank, which give away 2.4 million free packs to promote new account options. Although using tissue packs as ad platforms is relatively new in the U.S., it has been an established medium since the 1970s in Japan, where AdPack is headquartered. About 4 billion free promotional tissue packs are distributed every year in Japan, at a total cost of about $1 billion.

By the same token, NapAds is well-positioned through its relationships with nightlife venues. Recently, researchers have described a number of special attributes of bars and bar-goers that make them attractive venues for marketing. In March, Arbitron released a study which found that 50% of American adults over the age of 21 had visited a bar within the last month–about 105 million. Moreover, 31%–or 65 million people–had been to a bar in the last week.

According to Arbitron, they include a higher percentage of self-described “early adopters” than the population at large. Some 27% of monthly bar-goers consider themselves “early adopters,” versus 18% generally–while 26% say they frequently recommend new products to friends, compared to 19% overall.

Another study from Arbitron, performed for place-based video network Ecast, found that bar-goers had a 43% recall for advertising delivered via Ecast. Arbitron’s study canvassed bar patrons in New York, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio, in the summer of 2006.