My Name Is...
Guest Contributor: Deb KolarasDeb's Posts
- Deb's SiteIn sales training, we're taught to use the name of the person we're trying to do business with, not only to help ourselves remember their name, but to let the client know we're in tune, we "know" them. Some big companies are beginning to take this concept to a whole new level - by
making items with the client name right in it. What kind of impression do you think that makes? A lasting one, I believe.
Now You're Getting Personal
In recent months, I've received offers in the mail from several large firms, each used my company name in a website, making me feel kind of special. Imagine my delight when I saw, " Order online at your very own website we've built for you, www.xyzwidgets.com/bizcoachdeb." Not only memorable and clever, it makes you feel like the vendor took serious time to do their homework and build such a spot for little ole me. Honestly, I couldn't resist seeing what they had there for me to spend my marketing dollar on.
Let's Talk About Me
Getting samples in the mail is nothing really new, pen and giveaway companies have been doing it for years. What's changed in the last couple of years is getting these samples with your name already on it. Not every company does this, but I would venture a guess that the ones that do,
see a ROI when the customer likes the sample. Why? Because every month, new things arrive to me with my name on it. With annual sales well over $15 Billion, someone knows the niche very well. When a calendar or highlighter arrive with my name on it, I'm far more likely to keep
it and also to order, after all, haven't I just seen the item as close to finished as it might be? If I tend to like it, I'm betting my client will like it, too.
Want to make a lasting impression on your small business client? Keep their name in the forefront of your mind and whenever possible, use it to their advantage. If you're selling a new brand of notepad, brand it with their name and give it as a sample. Selling a new line of flash memory sticks? Same thing. Be creative and think of the possibilities; they're literally endless. Remember that website idea? What if you made a site for your client, highlighting things you know they need and use? Your client will appreciate the added touch and care you took getting to know them.
Labels: Deb Kolaras
A Little Bit at a Time
Guest Contributor: Mark NissleyMark's Posts
- Mark's SiteIn the previous three posts, we recognized that small business owners are akin to rock stars. We then began talking about the pitch, and the key points of grabbing the attention and financial interest of our rock star small business owner. The first is to make their life simple. Don't promise to make their business better- you'll get the cold stare. Promise to make their life better.
The second point is equally as simple and direct. Don't promise them the moon. Don't promise them a fortune. Don't promise them instant fame. A rock star, unless they are an American Idol, played 642 dirty bars before meeting you. They bloody well know that it takes work to get where they want to go. The promise of instant fame is for the young and naïve. However, a few nights opening for Cold Play, they might be able to do something with that. They can see where that might go.
And so it is with our small business owner. They've been around the block a half dozen times. They've sold their soul a few times. They are battle hardened. Don't promise them you'll make them an Inc. 500 winner. Don't promise them you double their ROI. If you tell them that you can do either more than a little bit, they won't believe you. You'll get the stone cold stare. Talk about hours per month, or hundreds of dollars per week, or handfuls of customers. I don't care what you can do, or how wonderful your product is.
You see it is very important to under-promise and over-deliver to a small business owner. If you do over-deliver, you will have their full and undivided attention. If you under promise, you will have their respect. And if you take it step by step, you will gain a long term customer that will be your strongest advocate an d referral source.
This may be tough with your aggressive sales quota. You may be able to find some young and naïve small businesses. And they'll never refer anyone because they will probably go out of business. And chances are, you'll get branded as a scam in the small business network. Hopefully you have a strong enough customer base that you can convert your strategy to a slower long- term penetration. If not, are you in the right seat on the right bus? It's just that short and simple.
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Selling to Small Businesses in Down-Times
Guest Contributor: Albert LukAlbert's Posts
- Albert's Site We are halfway through 2008 and it is clear that the economy is going through some adjustments. The days of easy sales are pretty much over unless your clients are in the oil and gas industry. Small businesses have always been the harbinger of economic tidings- they know when things are going good or bad before big companies do; small businesses simply don't have the resources to see how things will go. They have to adjust quickly to changes in the economic environment.
How does that affect someone who sells to small business?
1. Lowering the price is not the answer (even if headquarters will let you).
Competing on price is a dangerous game. Wal-Mart has no natural competitors for a reason: more often than not, a business with a unique value proposition of the lowest price doesn't survive for long: low prices do not attract customer loyalty, someone will always offer a lower price and what you make up in revenue you lose in profit (which is what the boss is really concerned about). Stick to what works- offering valuable service and building on your relationships.
2. The major threat is not small businesses will buy less but they will take longer to pay for it.
Receivables cycles always lengthen during down-times. People want to max out their financing and it becomes a cascading effect: as small businesses are stretched on their receivables so will their suppliers. If you offer a product with vendor financing, consider adjusting your financing rather than your pricing. Lengthen the amortization to reduce the monthly carrying costs or waive interest for the first month. Small businesses still need your product. They just don't have the same cash flow to pay for it. So alleviate that pain with creative financing.
3. Stop selling and start servicing.
Have you ever heard "you only call me when you want to sell me something?" If you have, you are on the cusp of losing a customer because you do not have a relationship with your client; they are merely another sales call. Statistically, the average length of every recession since 1957 is approximately 8 months. That is a little less than 3 sales quarters. Rather than use those 3 quarters trying to make a sale that may not happen, use that time to tell your client you are there for them and find ways to add value to them beyond selling a product or service. A simple coffee where you do not sell at all could mean a lot. Over the long term, using the down times as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship could pay off in spades down the road.
No one has all the answers in down-times. The leads are not as numerous and the sales cycles lengthen for small sales but that is part of the process. The key is to stick to what made you a good salesperson to small businesses in the first place and not to change your approach 180 degrees to what is, in the long run, a small bump in the road. Best of luck.
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How do you stand out from your competition?
Guest Contributor: Shannon McCafferyShannon's Posts
- Shannon's SiteKnowing how you stand out from your competition and what makes your products or services unique from your competition is key. This gets to the real question of what's your USP or Unique Selling Proposition? Is it compelling enough to your audience to buy from you?
A USP is the reason why your customers or clients should be using your products or services versus doing nothing at all. This may sound harsh, but it's true, the reality is your potential customers or clients don't have to do business with you, they can simply do nothing at all or go elsewhere.
Your USP has to be so compelling to your audience that they decide to purchase from you. Let me give you an example, if my USP is "We're bigger and better than the competition." This is good, yet we need to dig down deeper. The best way we'd go about this is by using the words "so that." You're bigger and better so that- you can handle more clients in less time, so that- you do projects quickly and more efficiently so that-... and you can basically keep going. By using the term "so that," you can really sharpen your USP to get at the heart of what you do for your clients. Look at GE's USP- "Imagination at Work," or Dominoes original USP- "Delivered to
you in 30 minutes or it's free," or Verizon Wireless- "From America's Most Reliable Network." These USP really get at the heart of what they do well.
In order to get at the heart of your USP you need to really study and understand the pain your customers feel and address that pain with specific language. A good example of that is an oldie- "M&M's they melt in your mouth, not in your hands." This gets to the real benefit that people who eat chocolate don't want to get it all over their hands- M&M's- problem solved. (Hence this was perfect back in WW II when it was invented, so soldiers wouldn't get chocolate all over their hands in the battlefield.)
How do you go about finding that USP for your products or services? One way is to go right to your clients or customers and ASK THEM why they use you, and focus on your uniqueness. What pain or problems do your customers have that you're trying to solve? What makes you so unique that they would rather buy from you than someone else? Take a pen and paper and start your list, or call/email your current clients today and write
or rewrite your USP!
To Your Success,
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