Make Them Your Ally

from RAB.com:

Daily Sales Tip: Empowering the Gatekeeper

Do not bypass gatekeepers. Build alliances. Do not come down to their level. Come up to their level. You never know with whom you are talking. For all you know, the “secretary” is the owner.

Gatekeepers’ jobs are to push you away, but in the same respect it is their job to determine what might be a benefit for the company. Humanize with them. Make a joke. Have fun. Be respectful. Treat them like they are the owner.

And here’s an interesting idea — never ask for the person in charge. Assume they are the people in charge. Say you want to meet with them “and whoever else also makes the purchasing decisions.” There are two reasons here:

1) Who you think is in charge and who really is could be different people. By letting them say if they are or not, you will get the real answer;

2) At the same time, by respecting them and their importance, you are separating yourself from every other sales rep who tramples upon them with disrespect as they try to reach the decision-maker.

Source: Sales consultant/author Todd Natenberg

Give Them The Power

Today’s sales tip from Michele Miller is for the bosses:

Are You Choking Your Employees Off From Experiencing Success?

Posted: 12 May 2011 01:47 PM PDT

I had to smack around a client the other day.

Well, maybe not smack around. But it did involve shaking my finger and saying things like, “Stop it.”

It all had to do with what I’ve written posts about in the past: giving your employees the authority to grow your business.

I was in a meeting with the client, who owns three retail stores in a large city. During our afternoon meeting with the management team, I inquired as to how the employee authority program we set up is going.

One of the managers brought up a situation in the store she manages, discussing a family who shops there regularly. The family has a unique situation in that the father recently returned from service in Afghanistan, where he was injured and is now undergoing extensive rehabilitation.

“The family is really great,” the manager told me. “I really admire the mom, keeping it all together. Some days she looks so frazzled. We thought maybe we could do something for them, so I came up with the idea of a gift certificate to a nice restaurant so that she wouldn’t have to cook for one night.”

“Great idea,” I replied. “So, how did it go?”

“We didn’t do it.”

“You didn’t do it? Why not?”

At this point, the manager innocently glanced over at the boss. “Well, we talked about it and asked Mr. BossMan what he thought. He didn’t really care for the idea, so we didn’t do it.”

Here is where the finger shaking started.

An employee authority program will NEVER work unless the employee has complete authority.

Have a great idea to make a customer feel good? Does it fit within the monthly budget prescribed for customer feel-good marketing? DO IT.

Don’t think it to death. And above all, DON’T ASK THE BOSS FOR PERMISSION.

JUST. DO. IT.

It is the BossMan’s responsibility to “cut the cord” with management and staff on customer satisfaction marketing. Any boss worth his/her weight has to constantly drill employees on how great they are, and how much trust there is to do the right thing for customers.

This is a marketing idea that costs little and can be budgeted using marketing dollars. It requires little from BossMan other than reminding employees that they have the authority to solve problems or make a customer’s day a little happier.

You see employee authority programs in use all around you. Starbucks. Zappo’s. Ritz Carlton Hotels. Yes, they’re big companies. How do you think they got that way?

Seriously. Think about it. THEN DO IT.

When Is the Best Time for a Staff Sales Meeting?

from RAB.com:

Daily Sales Tip: The Dreaded Monday Morning Sales Meeting

Some sales managers believe in gathering the troops first thing Monday morning. Others disagree and prefer sales meetings later in the week; and maybe late in the day. The positives and negatives of each have been debated at length. After all, keeping salespeople in the office rather than in front of clients is expensive, so this is an important decision. Now there is new scientific data available.

A recent study led by Jason Devereux of University College London shows that levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to increased blood pressure and weakened immune responses, are higher in white-collar workers’ saliva on Monday mornings than on Sunday mornings. The higher levels of secretion may be in anticipation of a stressful day at work, the researchers say.

What’s the application of this research to radio sales? We know that making a decision to purchase advertising is often a stressful situation. If Monday mornings are a time of increased stress in white-collar workers, our primary advertising decision-makers, another time would be better to be making presentations. If we are not going to be making client presentations, Monday mornings may be the best time to get that sales meeting out of the way.

Source: John Potter, VP/Training, RAB

How Honest are you?

from RAB.com:

Daily Sales Tip: Honesty is the Best Policy

Successful salespeople all use a range of different styles and techniques, but they also all share one key thing in common: they know that honest communication is the single most important secret to increasing sales, and commissions.

By focusing their efforts on creating a positive customer experience based on openness and trust, these top performers can almost always rely on an extraordinary level of repeat sales. Nine times out of ten, their customers would simply never even think of looking elsewhere when they need to reorder. As we all know, it’s far easier — and far more profitable — to keep repeat business, than it is to land a whole new account.

So what’s the “secret” to establishing and maintaining credibility in the eyes of your clients?

Don’t lie. Ever. End of story.

Lies not only damage the ability of salespeople to communicate with their clients. They can also result in a complete communication breakdown that is difficult — or even impossible — to repair.

Source: Colleen Francis, founder and president of Engage Selling Solutions

The Simple Goal Plan

At my new job with Cirrus ABS, I am learning new software to stay organized and track progress, etc.

But when it comes to goals, those are pretty easy to describe. I can describe them in 10 seconds, or 2 sentences.

Jim Connolly wrote about this concept:

What everybody ought to know about achieving their goals

Posted: 16 Jul 2011 01:36 PM PDT

I was walking home this evening, when I decided to stop and take this photo with my phone. It’s not a great photo, but my photographic skills are not what this brief post is about.

This post is about the decision I made a decade ago, which made this photo of my walk home possible!

My lifestyle today sees me living in the countryside with my beautiful family, making more money than I need, working fewer hours than anyone I know; yet it all started off as a series of notes I scribbled down on a notepad.

The reason for this post, is that most of the stories you hear like this, where someone talks about how their life changed immeasurably for the better when they started setting goals, are written by people selling goal setting books, seminars or goal-setting software. I have nothing like that to sell you. I just have a few ideas to share, which I hope will inspire some of you or even one of you, to do as I did and massively improve the quality of your life.

FACT: You don’t need goal setting books, seminars or software!

The reality is that you don’t need to buy goal setting products. You simply need to know what you want and to make the decision to do everything you can, to make it happen. Learn what you need to learn, find the people whose help you will need and work like crazy. Chunk your main goals down into small achievable, measurable pieces, and use these as the stepping stones to get you from where you are, to where you want to be. Review your goals each evening and again once a week. Check you are on course and if you are not making measurable progress in reasonable time, make the necessary adjustments. That’s all I did and I can assure you, it works extremely well!

Many people fail to achieve their goals, because they get fixated on making sure they follow all the steps from some dumbass book. They try and work with those bogus, overcomplicated goal-setting strategies, then get so confused that they lack the motivation to make it happen! If you are hungry you don’t need a sophisticated sandwich making strategy. You will figure it out.

Something truly magical happens, when we commit our goals to paper and start working on making them a reality. As Earl Nightingale discovered: “We become what we think about.” When we think about our goals and then work to make them happen, we progressively move toward their attainment.

The challenge

Why not make today the day you decide to commit your major life goals to paper, followed by some initial plans and a commitment to do whatever is required to make your goals real?

Thanks Jim for keeping it simple.

Are you Really in Sales?

Excellent Advice from Pat McGraw:

Whatever Happened to Sales?

Posted: 11 Jul 2011 09:45 AM PDT

Sales is NOT order taking.

Long ago, when I was in college, I had a part-time job in the men’s department at a regional department store chain. I started off with your typical part-time job perspective – I show up, put in my time and collect a check so I could keep going to school, pay my rent and maybe event afford groceries.

But after a few days on the job, meeting my co-workers, I realized there was going to be more to this job. I quickly learned that I was going to need to learn about my products strengths and weaknesses, features and benefits. And I realized that my role, my responsibility was to help the customer find the best solution for their needs.

I was there to help them make a great purchase. And I learned that this made the job a whole heckuva lot more fun.

When someone came in to buy a suit, I asked about where they worked and how often they planned on wearing the suit. I probed until I understood if the person was interested in style, functionality, easy care…

And then I showed them what we had and explained the features and benefits of each option – followed by recommendations based on what I learned about my customer.

After the suit was selected, I asked about socks, belts, shirts and ties because you need those things when wearing a suit. (That’s where I really learned how to match shirts and ties and sock…yes, I learned how to dress myself.)

And if the subject of cost came up – and it did sometimes – I knew what payment options existed in order to make the purchase affordable. (When the buyer would back out of a shirt or tie – I would put them aside and make sure I called the buyer in a couple of weeks to see if they might be ready to buy. Thanks to a marketing department that loved promotional sales, I usually got to call and tell the customer that the shirt and tie were now on sale.)

The full-time salespeople had small file boxes with 3×5 cards that had the customers information on them – name, contact information, size, preferences…and whenever we had a sale or new merchandise came in, they called the right customers and invited them to stop by. So I helped them add to their files – after all, this was their full-time gig and they were commissioned.

Oh, by the way, this approach built strong, personal relationships that made the customer experience more unique and valuable. It drove referrals and retention.

But that’s how we handled cross-selling, up-selling and re-selling. And I don’t often run into this anymore. (Maybe I hang out in the wrong places?)

So, what’s your plan for cross-selling and up-selling and re-selling?

  • An upsell is simply convincing the buyer that he or she should purchase a more expensive (and higher quality or more versatile) product than the one under consideration.
  • A cross-sell is an effort to encourage the committed buyer to add auxiliary items to the purchase, such as accessories or related items.
  • A re-sell is simply convincing a current customer to come back to your business and purchase your products/services again and again (retention).

How skilled are your sales team members in identifying the customer’s needs and offering the best, most appropriate solution for those needs? Do they take orders? Or do they ask question, probe and offer relevant alternatives so the buyer can make an informed decision?

Do they know what else to recommend – and why – once the buyer has made a decision on the primary purchase?

And what does your sale team do to remain in touch with the customer in order to increase the chances for repeat business?

Recommended Reading: Cross-sell versus Up-sell Strategies

Slump Busting

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Breaking Out of a Slump

Slumps happen.

But the best salespeople have go-to methods that help them overcome slumps and get back to their winning ways.

Here are some methods top salespeople use to get back on track when closing doesn’t come easy:

Revisit the basics
Slumps are great opportunities to revisit the fundamentals. Salespeople often find it’s the little things they’ve gotten away from that make the difference.

Choosing one basic skill to focus on can be an effective way to center a sales presentation or pinpoint the problem.

Reconnect with buyers
Most salespeople have loyal customers who appreciate their dedication and drive.

Those customers can provide the perfect boost of confidence a salesperson needs to get back on track. It may help to focus on these loyal customers for a couple of days instead of concentrating on new accounts.

Closing some repeat business may provide welcome success after struggling out in the field for a few weeks.

Reprioritize tasks
Top salespeople often break down their responsibilities by task to see if there are any opportunities for better time management. Is there a better time or day to cold call? Are there low-impact tasks eating up a salesperson’s time?

Reprioritizing gives salespeople a great chance to refocus on areas where they can have the most impact.

Source: Sales consultant/trainer Christine Corelli