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 Amazon.com 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.com/services/Pipeline - 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 Salesforce.com, develop custom Salesforce applications, and sell add-on products for Salesforce.com 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

Image: successfromthenest.com

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Joe Dannelly and Brains on Fire®

Brains on Fire®

I attended the Upstate Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners meeting last night. Joe Dannelly was the speaker. Joe works with one of the most progressive Idenity and Branding Companies I know, Brains on Fire®. Hearing Joe speak was a real treat for me because while I'd love to be able to hire Brains on Fire® to help me brand Wolff, with a starting price of $85,000.00, they are a little out of reach for my budget! Just the same, even though Brains on Fire® caters to high ranking companies, both nationally and internationally, they showed concern for local small business as well when they agreed to speak to this group.


During Joe's presentation, he talked about the work Brains on Fire® did with Fiskars® Shears. They helped Fiskars® develop a Community Website for Scrapbookers called Fisk-A-Teers. It's a brilliant marriage between a hobby and a supplier that does two things as far as I see it:

1. It's an excellent way to promote the Fiskars® brand.
2. It provides a powerful medium for Scrapbookers to learn, swap ideas, show off their crafts and build friendships. These things lead to loyal customers!

Two Columns

One more thing I wanted to share with you from Joe's presentation was an exercise he had all of us perform. Each of us had to take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. In the left hand column, we wrote down 3 or 4 of our favorite brands. In the right column, we wrote what we loved about those brands and what draws us to them. After a time of sharing, Joe told us to fold the paper in half and ask ourselves, "Does this list of things I love about these companies describe my company?" It was a great exercise!

I could go on and on about Joe and Brains on Fire®, but the best thing I can do is point you to their blog. It's an excellent source for anyone in business!

Image: cssa_ucsd

Friday, May 2, 2008

Speaker Etiquette

This is not an exhaustive list of subjects speakers should watch out for by any means. It's just a few things I've been thinking about lately after watching a speaker slip up at a recent event.

Remember Who's Running the Meeting

A good friend of mine was invited to speak to a group of local businessmen. Jeff, the leader of the group and also a friend of mine, asked if I'd like to come. I said sure. We met at the Golden Corral in Spartanburg.

When everyone got there, they went and got their food and sat down to eat. Part way into the meal (and just before the leader stood up) my friend blurts out, "So Jeff, how about we all introduce ourselves before I start my talk." You could see Jeff seethe for just a moment before he politely said, "We'll get to that in just a moment." This should be obvious, but when you are "invited" to speak, wait to be introduced before you take the floor.

Don't Pat Yourself on the Back Too Much

One of my main jobs is training sharpeners. I'm not the only person who does this in the states, but as you can imagine we are few and far between. I put together a show once for a large group of professional sharpeners in Richmond Virginia. One of my speakers, a very well known sharpener and excellent trainer, talked about all the sharpening awards he'd won in the past as he started his presentation. He even when so far as to say, "I may even be the most accredited sharpener in the world."

As soon as these words left his mouth one of the attendees grabbed me and pulled me out into the hall. He said, "Did you hear what he just said? He said he's the best sharpener in the world!" I said, "No he didn't," and then repeated what he said, but it was too late, he had already lost that sharpeners attention. How many more people did he loose in that audience with that one statement? Choose your words wisely.

Don't Be Stupid Like Me

Trust me, I'm no better! I had a similar foot in mouth incident to the one the sharpener in the last example had. I was asked to speak at a NASA Convention in Memphis. (The National Appliance Service Association, not the real NASA!) I had teamed up with another trainer friend of mine and we were each going to speak about our products for 30 minutes. Long story short, my friend lost track of time and spoke for fifty minutes. I was hot, but condensed my presentation into the five minutes we had let after I set up my equipment. Unfortunately, I was rather impressed with myself that I was able to pull the presentation off despite the lack of time. So when I finished speaking I foolishly said, "Give me a hand, I did a great job." As soon as I said that, I heard an older gentleman in the front row say, "Arrogant, " as he shook his head.

That made a big impression on me! I've strived to walk that fine line between confidence and arrogance ever since. Hopefully I've avoided stepping over that line more times than not.

You Only Get One Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Don't make the leader mad! Don't put yourself on a pedestal and make your audience feel "beneath" you, and certainly don't do like I did! You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Once you lose your audience it's over. Remember, it's not about you, it's about them.

Image: rightantler