Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Standing Out

The trick to standing out in the crowd in your line of business isn't being slick or a smart aleck (we see a lot of people playing the smart aleck online). It's not being controversial or being a shock jock. The trick to standing out from others is being consistent and helpful as you build relationships.

Regardless of what you may have heard, people are still looking for someone to help them; they're still looking for someone that will make them feel safe and secure. I know we have the internet now and people can "educate" themselves on all the products they need, but all the information in the world will never replace a real relationship based on trust, knowledge, and a desire to be helpful.

If you want to stand out in your business, follow these three rules:

1. Communicate consistently
Write a note. Send an e-mail. Send a Tweet. Facebook them. Call on the phone. Drop in to say hello. And when you do any of these, provide something of value.

2. Make yourself available
While I was writing this post, one of my customers called and needed help with a piece of equipment he uses. The manufacturer was short with him on the phone (probably busy), and told him what he needed to do to fix his problem, but he didn't seem like he wanted to help. All I did was let my customer vent, agreed with what the manufacturer suggested he do to fix the issue, and then suggested a couple of other options. Right before he got off the phone he said, "Thank you." I said, "For what? I did do much." He said, "I know, but when I call you I can tell that you really want to help me." Be there when they need you!

3. Build trust
The most important thing you can do in any business is build trust. That means you need to know your stuff, be honest when you don't know your stuff, know what your customer needs, and be honest when you find your product may NOT be the best fit for your customer's needs.

If you follow these three simple rules you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition in no time.

Image: diankarl

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shut Up, Step Back and Watch

Have you ever seen hyperactive networkers that just HAVE to meet the guy that spoke to the group? It's kind of funny. They kind of shake like a toy poodle as they stand in line to shake the speakers hand, share a few words, and then feel like they really accomplished something.

I just watched a number of fellow Power Breakfast attendees do just that in Charleston. I'm sure many of them were potential suppliers for the company the CEO that spoke runs, just like me. But what good is a quick word or two, the passing of a card, and worse yet; a little bragging about ones self and business going to to do for that networker hoping to make a connection?

Instead of joining the crowd, I did what a good friend, and much more seasoned salesperson told me I should do in situations like this; I kept my mouth shut, stood back and watched. My goal in attending the meeting was to get a good contact name for someone in this CEO's company that I could talk with about my products. I was hoping the CEO would be able to give me this information. But after standing back for a while I noticed a lady that kept attending to all of the CEO's needs. She hovered around him, handed him papers, and and so forth.

No one was paying any attention to her, so I walked up and said, "He keeps you busy doesn't he." With a smile she said, "You have no idea." She then went on to tell me she was the CEO's personal assistant. After we talked about some of her responsibilities, I asked, "Could you help me with a question?" She said she'd try. I then told her I needed to know who to talk to in her organization that would be interested in my products and then told her what I do and how I can help her company. She gave me the name I needed, took my card to pass on to the fellow she asked me to call, and then gave me her card and told me to call her if I needed any more help. Goal met!

Shutting up, standing back, and keeping my eyes open netted me a better contact than the one I went to the breakfast with the intention to meet. Two points to ponder:

1. Don't be so anxious
Take your time when networking.

2. Look around
If you're only focusing on the "target" you came to meet. You may miss out on a great opportunity to meet someone you didn't even realize could help you.

Image: fspugna

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Can Be Your Friend

The word "no" can be your friend! One of my favorite books on the subject of no is Go for No. It touches on points I've been teaching my students for years!

If you've trained with me, or if you've been to one of my marketing seminars, you've heard me say, "When someone tells you no, smile and ask for a referral to 3 or 4 more people that will tell you no, because you need 3 or 4 more people to tell you no before you get to a yes!"

This book takes you one step further. It tells you to go for no to get MORE yeses!!!! You see, too many people go for yeses. Once I get to their quota of yeses they stop. What Go for No teaches is not to stop until you get to your "no" quota, not your "yes" quota. This is great advice and something every salesperson should read! Pick up a copy from or see if your local book store can order one for you.

Image: biscuitsmlp

Want a little taste of what you'll learn, check out this video:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Your Sales Pipeline

Some call it a funnel and some call it a pipeline. Either way I'm talking about putting potential customers in one end with the hope they will come out the other side as a sale.

Selling is not a perfect business. There is emotion, fear, desire, and need involved. People buy for many different reasons. It would be nice if we could just walk up to a customer, show them our product and they write a check. Does it happen? Sure! Just not very often!

Instead of looking at sales as a one time thing, we need to look at selling as a process. Similar to how a farmer sows seeds into a field, you need to sow an interest in your products into your customers. Not every seed will sprout, just like some of your customers won't be interested in what you sell. That's why farmers sow so many seeds, they expect a percentage to fail.

Every time you show your products to a potential customer, they start to travel down your sales pipeline. Some slide right through and buy right away, some won't even consider going in the pipe and others meander down the pipe as they make their decision.

It often takes time for your customer to get to the end of your pipe. It could take days, it could take weeks. It doesn't matter! The point is to keep the pipeline full.

So how can you feed the people in your pipeline so they don't turn and walk out the way they came in? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Thank you cards. When someone shows interest in one of your products, but doesn't buy, send them a nice thank you card for considering what you're selling and let them know you will follow up at a later date, or offer a buying incentive. (so much off, free case, something like that)

2. If it's a trusted customer, offer to leave the product with them to test for a few days. This is called the "Puppy Dog Close". Once you get it in their hand and they get used to using it, they'll want to keep it.

3. Be sure to mention the product each time you see the customer. This is not being pushy. This simply gives them another opportunity to buy. Remember! We live in a busy world. We all need reminders from time-to-time.

Since I specialize in training sharpeners, while on the road, I take some time and ride with a few of my students when I can. Almost all the shear sales I see them make are not impulse buys, but the result of sowing interest in the shear over time.

How do you keep guiding customers into your pipeline? Well for starters, be sure your customers know you sell shears and/or other products. Then be sure you have some to show! You can't sell from an empty wagon and people like to touch and feel before they buy. Give them something to touch and feel!

One thing is certain, your customers will buy what you're selling from somebody. If you take the time to show them what you have, and remind them of it, they will eventually buy from you!

Image: - SalesLogistix is a consultancy focused on implementing the most complete and usable SFA / CRM systems. They provide advisory and services for any SFA system, implement / extend, develop custom Salesforce applications, and sell add-on products for users.

Friday, May 16, 2008

All the Work You Need?

It never ceases to amaze me how foolish people can be. I've been involved in a group in my home town called The Business Fellowship for some time now and we had a really great speaker scheduled for this last meeting, so I decided to invite a few friends; three in fact. One immediately said yes, one couldn't make it because he had to go out of town, but one responded to my e-mail with this reply:

"I'll pass. I already have more work than I can or want to do."

I spent the rest of my day shaking my head over that one! Now understand, this fellow is a contract employee in a very stable industry and really does have all the work he could want or need. But my question is, what is he doing to build his professional network in case he ever finds himself looking for another company to work with? Networking is not always about finding more work. There are many reasons to network. Let's look at some of the reasons Jeff Taylor talks about in his book, Monster Careers: Networking.

Networking Separates You from the Pack
If you had two applications in front of you and both were from people that are new to the work force, but equally qualified; which would you look at more closely? An applicant that is well networked (student counsel, volunteer, school newspaper, toastmasters) or one that isn't?

Networking Catches You When You Fall
If you are laid-off or your company goes under, wouldn't it be nice to have a solid group of contacts that can help you land that next job? If you're self-employed, this same group can lead you to your next client.

Networking Opens Up New Possibilities
Sometimes you'll run across clients you never thought to call on, or a career you never thought to pursue.

Networking Makes You More Valuable to Your Company
Power people network! How many potential colleagues could you meet while networking? Lots!

Many people think networking is just for entrepreneurs or salesmen, but the reality is everyone should be networking. Don't be like my friend who was so fast to say no. Consider all opportunities to meet people and build relationships. This group may not have been a good fit for him, but he'll never know. Here's hoping all that business never dries up! :)

Reference: Monster Careers: Networking, Chapter 1, Pages 5 - 6


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Brand Tags

Seth Godin mentioned Brand Tags in his blog yesterday. I thought it would fit nicely with what I wrote last week about Joe Dannelly's Two Columns branding exercise. Hop over to Seth's blog and read his post, then give Brand Tags a try.

To view what others say about the different brands, click the link on the top of the page that reads, see what other people have tagged it. This exercise will help you see how you, and others, view some of the most popular brands on the market; which will help you brand yourself better.

Image: mleak

Friday, May 9, 2008

Drop By Jim Sharp

Take a swing by Jim Sharp and check out the post I just wrote titled, I Can't. I wrote it for sharpeners, but you can take the words "I can't" and insert them in front of any objection and you'll get the point. Let me know what you think.

Image: tiff-a-ny