Guest Contributor: David ColombO.K., here I am a 57 year old salesman, starting a new job. I walk in the door and find that over the last four years, the average salesman has lasted about four months. There is no pipeline to work from; it's like dropping in to a brand new territory where the company has never sold before. What do I do?
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First, I sit down and looked at the features of the company I am working for, we aren't the cheapest, in fact, and we're nearly the most expensive in the market. We have a sixty year history in the area, and we have a catchy advertising catch phrase that people have remembered. It's one of those deals where when you walk in and introduce yourself, you get the tagline. That's a great hook to start a conversation, so that's something to start.
The next point is to match the company's features to the marketplace to find our "sweet spot". Since I'll need to do a bunch of cold calling to build a pipeline, I need to prequalify to find the most likely leads that'll lead to a sale, commissions are important. Once I find my leads, and develop them, I need to put everything in to a CRM so that I can follow and plan my attack. A salesman's first instinct is to hit the road and collect all the business cards and hope for the best, but I've found that having 450 business cards and no system isn't the best way to approach things. It's time to spend a little time getting organized , hit the phones and email to contact people and build relationships, keep all the notes in the CRM and hope for the best.
Time to turn to the service people who'll handle my customers when they interface with the customer. Since I'm selling a service, it's vital that I understand the people that I'm selling. I've sold service in the past, and I've learned that people may not remember the company that they hired, but in most cases, they remember the technician that delivers the service. So I make time to talk with my technicians, learn about them, and build a rapport. Technicians want to provide a service, and live by production numbers, so they want you to sell them, and they'll help you with referrals. In our company, technicians are expected to sell, so we also have to decide how we'll handle opportunities. Some technicians hate selling and are grateful to have me in the mix, others see me as a threat, so now we negotiate, this is a work in progress. I have to meet with the receptionists and office staff to build a relationship that has them on my side. I've brought in chocolate and other goodies, yes it's bribery, but I'm not above that.
The next step is to learn the "tribal knowledge", that's the practical way that works to get things done within the organization. We've all read the organizational chart, and know how the book says things work, but we've all been in organizations and know that the chart isn't the way it really works. There are people you work with, and people that you work around. That's the nature of the beast in any organization, and I need to know that. Tomorrow I meet with the Corporate Sales Manager, and hopefully, a lot of those questions get answered. Stay tuned.
Labels: David Colomb
What's My Secret to Marketing Implementation? 3 Simple steps...
Guest Contributor: Shannon McCaffery
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I get asked this question a lot - and what they really want to know is how do I get so much accomplished for myself and my clients? I actually love this question because it really gets to the heart of people's frustrations with getting things done.
What is my secret?
Step 1 - Ask yourself these questions: What are you trying to accomplish in your business? What are your goals, long term, short term? If you're having trouble figuring out what your goals are, or what you want to accomplish in your business, it might be time do an overall marketing analysis. This is incredibly helpful because it gives a really good snapshot of where you are with your business, what's working, what's not, and what needs to change. It's all about gaining clarity and focus for your business. The more clear and focused you are about what you want to accomplish in your business, the easier it will be to do it.
Here are some questions that I use when I do a marketing analysis for my clients:
-Describe in detail what products and/or services you deliver.
-Who is your ideal customer? Describe them - what do they read, do they own a home, have a credit card, what are their hobbies, etc.
-Why would a customer choose you over your competitors or over not doing anything at all?
-What's working right now in your business?
-What's not working in your business?
-What would you like/need to do differently in your business to create more prospects/clients?
Once you answer these questions, you'll have a much better picture of where you are and what you need to do to increase your prospects/clients and in turn, increase your profits. The real key is to analyze your business, come away with some clear goals and direction, as well as figure out where your holes are in your business and what steps need to be taken to seal them up. I've done a number of these analysis' for my clients and the biggest takeaway is that I always find areas of lost or hidden money. Often times it just takes a few tweaks to turn the faucet of your sluggish business into the steady stream of a fire hose.
Step 2 - Take all your answers and create a plan of action together with your goals and how you will accomplish them in the next 6 months to a year.
Step 3 - Put your plan into action. These last two steps really seem to trip people up. The biggest part of this secret is you must take time to work on your business, to put a plan together. If you're a pilot flying a plane, you have to have a map and controls so you know where you're going, that's the same for any successful business. And the other crucial part is to simply take action! Remember you can't do it all yourself. It's time to find some good talented people who can help you. Promise me you'll stop doing it all yourself! Go find a good virtual assistant, copy writer, web master, transcriber, etc. I've found many talented people on guru.com or elance.com or craigslist.org. I also have a bunch of resources at my fingertips, including doing a marketing analysis for your business. I'm happy to help you, just send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org ). So, go take some action!
Labels: Shannon McCaffery
Do Small Business Owners Like to Play Golf?
Guest Contributor: Albert Luk
Albert's Posts - Albert's SiteWith the summer upon us, the obvious question turns to whether it is an effective sales technique to take your small business clients golfing?
Golfing is typically seen as a great way to develop business simply because you have your client or potential client to yourself for 3-4 hours straight. Given that the venue in which you are developing this relationship is outside of the office, it is also a good opportunity for your client to not be focused on their day to day worries and focus on larger strategic issues with you.
Having said that, in my experience, I have found: (i) very few small business owners can golf; and (ii) if they do, they don't play very often. More often than not, small business owners spend so much time running their business that they do not have too much time to develop a golf game or could find more productive means to spend 3-4 hours; the practicality of the situation being that if a small business owner had 3-4 hours of free time, they would probably spend it with family.
Golf seems to be one of those business matters where there is a large business/small business split. Most small business owners, unless they have to golf to woo their own big business accounts, like to use their business development time in other activities (there are obviously exceptions to the rule).
Remember, in most cases, that the small business owner is the ONLY manager and there's no such thing as a day out of the office. Taking them out of the office for 3-4 hours may be seen by some small business owners as a poor use of time and, by association, you are seen as a time-wasting element in their lives.
Instead, I would suggest as a practical summer small business development tip to invite your small business accounts to a lunch on a patio and invite other small business owners to be in attendance. It is typically under-estimated how alone small business owners feel. The ability to create an event where they can interact with an opportunity to exit at the end of lunch, or to stay longer, will be greatly appreciated.
Speaking of the summer, there will be no column in August since I am off for several weeks. Enjoy the summer.
Labels: Albert Luk