LONG TERM CONTACT – Best Sales and marketing Ideas #86

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and marketing Ideas IDEA 86: LONG-TERM CONTACT Sometimes it is the case that business does not materialize quickly. We would always like an order now, but the customer will be guided by their timing needs, and it may not be possible to avoid delay. Equally, even a customer who orders and is happy may not reorder immediately. In such circumstance the problem of keeping in touch can be awkward. You have to judge a reasonable frequency, deciding how long you can leave it, and at what point repeated reminders become annoying and thus self-defeating. There is no firm rule here, but one thing is for sure: if you give up on a prospect, the chances of getting business, or more business, diminish dramatically. As a example from my own work, I set up my business in 1990, and in all the time since, the largest piece of business I have ever booked came from someone I had worked with before, but after a three-year gap. During that time I had made contact nine or ten times, and met with my contact only once. Keeping in touch did not take much time – mostly it was letters, e-mails, and telephone calls – but it was eminently worthwhile....
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LET COMPETITION HELP – Best Sales and marketing Ideas #85

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and marketing Ideas IDEA 85: LET COMPETITION HELP Most (all?) markets are competitive these days, and it is normal in many businesses for every purchase to be made by buyers in some way weighing up an offering against the competition. There is no way of selling that negates this entirely, although a powerful case may succeed in putting the competition to the back of someone’s mind for a while. So your competition will both linger in the background and come up regularly in conversation. Comments or queries about rival products or services must be handled in the right away, and the idea of not knocking the competition is touched on elsewhere in this volume. Other techniques too can be useful. Idea From a company selling stationery products…. I have come across this in many contexts, but I remember especially one company from which I bought ring binders, which for some time I used on a regular basis for course materials. This is almost a commodity product, as indeed are many other things: that is many firms make similar things, and perceiving significant difference between them can be difficult. Price and factors such as service and delivery (including emergency supplies) are highly relevant. The idea here is that...
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NOT JUST LOGICAL – Best sales and marketing Ideas #84

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best sales and marketing Ideas IDEA 84: NOT JUST LOGICAL People need a reason to buy. Especially with technical or complex products, and certainly in areas of industrial and business-to-business purchasing, buyers make logical decisions. They weigh up the evidence and see how something stacks up. They compare one supplier with another. But it is not just logical factors that influence their final decision. What else is involved? Idea From world-famous Harvard Business School… Some years ago Harvard Business School carried out research with top US buyers to ascertain how much logic and how much emotion was involved in buying decisions. To many people’s surprise the result showed that 84 per cent of all buying decisions are based on emotion. Certainly if someone is purchasing something like a wedding gift, or a wedding dress for that matter, one would expect there to be some emotion involved – perhaps a lot. But what about say a heat exchanger, or a fork-lift truck, or a machine lathe: surely not? But it is a fact: emotion does matter, and it matters particularly when the package of more technical matters in evidence is evenly balanced between competitors. If there is apparently not much to choose between two (or more) technical cases, people...
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USE THAT SALES MEETING – Best sales and Marketing Ideas #83

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 83: USE THAT SALES MEETING As a consultant I find that asking staff about sales meetings gives me a good idea of the likely quality of a company’s sales team. If the response is dismissive (“What wastes of time why don’t they just let us get on and sell?”), the company probably holds ineffective meetings, and misses the advantage that comes from good ones. Idea From Prudential Assurance (in Singapore)… Sales meetings should be catalysts to maximize effectiveness. They may review progress and performance, and they should have a positive impact on motivation and team feeling. Dave Tiang, senior unit manager with Prudential Assurance, is quoted as saying, “Team building and bonding can be achieved only when the majority of sales forces are running in the same direction. We also take this as a learning experience when we discuss some unique cases”. In other words sales meeting should be constructive occasions. They provide a chance for members of the team to compare notes, for training in sales techniques and product knowledge, and for links to be made with the motivational initiatives. While admin is important, as is checking progress against targets, a key area should be to stimulate ideas. How can...
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A STRONG BRAND – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #82

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 82: A STRONG BRAND In areas where the brand and brand image is a powerful factor, it is important to actually use that in selling. A strong and positive brand image is an expensive thing to create and maintain, and many well-known brand names have been many years in the making. The obvious way a brand is exploited is through advertising and other promotional activity, but if the brand is well used in selling, it can strengthen sales success. Idea From the pen manufacturer Parker Pens… Pens are big business. A large proportion of more expensive pens are bought as presents, and another large part of the market is pen bought as business gifts (they are probably the commonest product used in this way). So while all (well, most) pens write effectively, many sales have more to do with other factors. In this context two factors are whether a pen will make a suitable, and perhaps lasting, gift, showing a degree of care, or help to promote positively a company that uses pens bearing its name as a part of the communication mix. Less well-known brands are at a disadvantage in this context. Someone may not appreciate being given an unknown brand...
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MAKE AN EXHIBITION OF YOURSELF – Best Sales and marketing Ideas #81

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and marketing Ideas IDEA 81: MAKE AN EXHIBITION OF Y0URSELF In some circumstances, like at an exhibition, sales people need to be prepared to take a positive and appropriate initiative. Nobody should ever say “Can I help you?” (To which most say, instinctively, “No thank you”). Nor should you launch into along technical explanation replete with jargon. Better start with an open question – in other words, something that does not lend itself to being answered by “Yes” or “No”. Idea From the aware exhibitor… So say something designed to get people talking: What are you hoping to find at the show? How much do you know about us? Where are you from? Equally, do not frighten off. There are probably people jumping out at them every few yards, so remember the purpose of this first initiative is to: make the visitor feel at ease get them talking discover their exact interest identify their needs get them deciding it is worth spending some time with you. Try to start with unchallenging openings: introduce yourself by name (this can often result in visitors giving you their name in return) offer a quick demonstration or video explanation of the point attracting attention discuss their particular point of interest or...
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LOG OBJECTIONS – Best sales and Marketing Ideas #80

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 80: LOG OBJECTIONS Objections are ubiquitous in selling. We know we will get some, and we know too, from experience, that they should be regarded as a sign of interest. (No one is going to be bothered to query something they have dismissed out of hand). We also know that they will vary in topic, nature, and emphasis. Sometimes the same thing crops up repeatedly as a major stumbling block, and on another occasion something might be mentioned in passing, and is not in any sense a major hindrance. What matters is the balance of positive and negative points a customer sees as case is presented. It is not realistic to try to have nothing on the negative side: when did you last buy something perfect? But the positive side must weight most heavily in the balance, and what creates that situation may be a number of major points ( heavy ones, to stick with the weighing-up analogy), and a number of smaller ones too. Indeed, because it is impossible sometimes to balance one major point with another, several smaller ones may have to do the job. Whatever else you do, you should be ready for objections. Idea Quizzing number of sales...
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FOCUS ON USERS – Best sales and Marketing Ideas #79

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 79: FOCUS ON USERS For most successful products there are lots of good things to say about them. They have all the latest technology and design, and are well proven in use. You may well say that not only is this case with your products, you are well practiced in differentiating features and benefits, and talking about them in the right kind of way. Sometimes, however, it is possible to sell successfully without mentioning any of that. So what do you do instead? Idea From a computer service agency… People who will never use them personally buy many products, from the office photocopier to a huge piece of construction machinery. The staffs at work around the office use the copier, and the road builders or whatever is driven by professional drivers. And it is these people who provide an avenue for this approach to selling. Take the example of a specialist service, a computer troubleshooting outfit (I use an excellent one, which once rescued me when I thought I had lost the text of an entire, but undelivered, book). The seller might describe the service in detail: the frequency of checks, the time taken to send a technician to arrive in an...
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AGREE THE IMPOSSIBLE – Best Sales and marketing Ideas #78

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and marketing Ideas IDEA 78: AGREE THE IMPOSSIBLE Price is always sensitive issues in selling. Buyers want value for money, they want a bargain, and they may want to negotiate. They might unashamedly challenge the price you quote in order to try to obtain a better one. Indeed they may well genuinely reckon the original price is too high, and be unprepared to buy at the level. So faced with a challenge on price, what do you do? Idea From direct computer provider Dell… When customer says the price is too high, they may well intend it to close the conversation: it is too high for them, and they will not buy, and that’s it. If you agree with them – “You are right, Mr Customer, the price is way too high” – that will probably be the last things they expect. Although they had closed their minds to further debate, they now open them again and want to know what’s going on. Of course, there’s more to this idea than just agreeing. Although you might say this, it will not be what you mean, and you must continue the conversation in a way that makes this clear. This is a technique that works well with...
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USE COMPLAINTS AS A SPRING BOARD – Best sales and Marketing Ideas #77

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 77: USE COMPLAINTS AS A SPRING – BOARD Even the best-run companies get some complaints. It may be to do with the product, the service that goes with it, or such matters as delivery or technical support. The first way in which to see complaints is as a source of information. They constitute feedback that must be noted: lessons must be learnt, and action taken to stop the situation from recurring. Sometimes a complaint is a one-off, and only affects one customer (although it may be none the less annoying or costly for them because of that). Sometimes too, complaints make the news: as I write this Sony are in the newspaper because batteries supplied for laptop computers are allegedly causing the machines to catch fire. The matter is ongoing, but the cost will be tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of pounds. While we would all rather no complaints occurred, when they do they must be handled constructively, and the best made of the situation. Idea From motor manufacturer Mercedes Benz…. I pick an example here that is safely in the past of the company involved. Satisfactorily behind them is perhaps a better way of putting it. After the Mercedes small model...
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BRAG, BUT DO SO CONVINCINGLY – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #76

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 76: BRAG, BUT DO SO CONVINCINGLY Customers want to know that you are competent, knowledgeable, and generally “know your stuff.” Only then do they feel able to deal with you with confidence. You need to tell them, but out- and-out bragging can not only sound unsuitable-“He’s just a braggart”-but also risks you’re not being believed. For example, if I was selling you my training services, and said to you, “I’ve been involved in sales training for more than 20 years, there’s really nothing about it that I don’t know, and that’s a promise,” you would be entitled, indeed sensible, to take it with a pinch of salt, and wonder about my communications skills. Idea From the world of professional services… If, on the other hand, I gave you reasons why I considered myself an expert, it might well be more credible. Perhaps I would say to you,” When I first joined a training company I spent a long time sitting in on courses and talking to those leading them about why they were conducted in the way they were, before my then boss would let me anywhere near fronting an event. It was drummed into me that I would spend the rest...
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TAKE A LONG-TERM VIEW – Best sales and marketing Ideas #75

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best sales and marketing Ideas IDEA 75: TAKE A LONG-TERM VIEW It is an old maxim of the world of selling that the job is not to make a sale, but to make a customer. The implication is that the business you can obtain over the longer term is more important than clinching a single deal today and there is certainly some good sense in this view. Sometimes this philosophy can be taken to extremes, and still make sense. Let me prefix this idea by summarizing my experience with the mobile phone company Vodafone. I have just wasted at least two hours of my time discovering that it cannot supply what I want. I went into a local shop to ask, and was told the company could do what I wanted, but only via a bigger store. I e-mailed the company and (eventually) got a reply saying this was the case.  In London a little later, another shop told me it could only sort out my problem by telephone. When I was home again, I telephoned. Nobody needs all the details: after endless holding, several transfers, and my demanding to speak to a manager, I was told the company did not do what I wanted at all. You...
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PUT VALUE ON INFORMATION ABOUT THE CUSTOMER – Best Sales and marketing Ideas #74

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101 Best Sales and marketing Ideas IDEA 74: PUT VALUE ON INFORMATION ABOUT THE CUSTOMER The importance of asking questions and listening to the answers has already been stressed. So too has the need to tailor, and be seen to be tailoring, the case you make to an individual customer. One simple mechanism you do this, and makes a positive impression on the customer too. Idea Catching the details… To be fair many sales people do this, but if they do not, it can send all the wrong signals. Remember first that people’s sense of individuality is strong. We all think of ourselves as being unlike other people. And we want others to understand and take these differences into account. Certainly this is true of buyers and sellers. For example, I wear spectacles, and have just had an eye test. Very thorough it was, too. I would not have been much impressed if I had walked in, perhaps been asked to read a couple of lines of text, and then been told, “Right, I know exactly the prescription you need”. I want a thorough check. And believing it is complex and individual matter, I was pleased to see the optician completing a detailed form as the test progressed. So...
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MOTIVATION AS A CATALYST – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #73

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 73: MOTIVATION AS A CATALYST It is again the nature of the sales job that it can be repetitive. One call follows another, and many may involve saying essentially the same thing to each customer. I have already recommended tailoring the sales message, but the point remains. Because of this repetition and because there is often a low level of contact with head office, motivation is particularly important for sales personnel. And quite right too, you may say. It is possible that you would do better if you were better motivated (although you might be highly motivated already, of course), so can you stimulates the motivation process? Idea From electronics retail giant Richer Sounds…. Recently a colleague of mine bought a new television from this retail chain. He was impressed with the service and the selling – it was a purchase that needed to come with some sound advice – and was telling people at a committee meeting us both attend about it in very positive terms. Credit where credit is due: and there is nothing like word of mouth recommendation. He had been so impressed, in fact, that he had quizzed one of the sales staff about just why the service...
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THE UBIQUITOUS SALES MEETING – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #72

English_Master July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 72: THE UBIQUITOUS SALES MEETING If I ask many sales people about sales meeting held in their organizations, they raise an eyebrow, sigh deeply, and say, “Oh dear”. And they may not be so polite. Nevertheless sales meetings should help you sell better. If they don’t, it may be the sign of a poor manager, but even so maybe you can make suggestions, or take an initiative. Idea Again from many well-run sales teams… Every so often, sales team gets together. This might happen weekly, monthly – whatever, with the frequency dependent on such factors as cost and geography. However often this happens, you want to get the most from it. Again a good manager will see this as an opportunity to inform, motivate, gather, and exchange ideas- and undertake development activities. It is sometimes a problem to keep such meetings fresh. They can settle into a repetitive format and a bit of a rut. So do not be backward in making suggestions, or volunteering to initiate action in this area. (You might collaborate with colleagues, so you say to your manager, “A number of us think …”).  A number of things are possible: Training games and exercises: these are designed to...
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