NO PROBLEM – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #92

Jose John July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 92: NO PROBLEM As I write this I am arranging a training course for a large multinational IT company, to be held in its office in Singapore. (I work there regularly). With participants assembling from five countries, and an HR manager who keeps tinkering with the agenda, there are many arrangements to be made. This is a new client, and one with potential for the future. One thing about this situation illustrates an important principle. Idea When circumstance pose some difficulty … There are two potential difficulties in this situation, which both link to the fact that my clients and I are 6,000 miles apart, and I want to ensure that this does not look in any way inconvenient at the client end. First, there is the question of language. My prime contact is Thai, and although he speaks good English, the potential for misunderstanding is greater than would be the case if we had the same first language. I need to take care, and just a little more thought and time than usual, to avoid any ambiguousness, and make sure everything is clear as we go along. Second, there is a time difference between the two locations. If I have an...
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BIG STRATEGIES – Best sales and Marketing Ideas #91

Jose John July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 91: BIG STRATEGIES Not only are some customers different from others (it has already been stressed here that customer need individual treatment), some are also larger than others, in terms of either business received from them or potential. A big customer is sometimes satisfying and gratefully simply labelled “big”, and no further action is taken. But if the volume of business is already large, that does not mean it cannot be increased. There is an old saying that even the best performance can be improved , and despite the apparent contradiction, this is a sensible attitude to take. Idea Analyzing the potential of major customers … There is a whole separate literate on major accounts, and on the management of the relationships that go with them (something to investigate if you have such customers). Here, however, is one idea that can quickly create new business possibilities. I like it because in its simplest form it can be worked out on the back of an envelope (even using approximate figures). The necessary analysis simply takes the value of a large customer’s business and splits the figure across two axes of a matrix. One axis lists products (or product areas) one by one, and...
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A TELLING SONG – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #90

Jose John July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 90: A TELLING SONG The idea here is important, but the example that brought it to mind is not strictly a sales one. First, some brief background: I have recently written a travel book (First Class – At Last!, Marshall Cavendish), which focuses on a journey from Singapore to Bangkok on the luxury Eastern & Oriental Express. This involved a visit to Singapore, where one evening I went to Harry’s Bar, a well-know jazz venue on Boat Quay. Idea From jazz singer Marina Xavier … At around every evening, Harry’s bar presents live music. There is a resident band, but the right I was there a guest artist was appearing, Eurasian songstress Marina Xavier. (She had an album to promote, so she was selling, in a sense). Let I give her plug: she’s very good, and if you like cool jazz, the album is When the World was Young (available on Amazon, if Singapore is off your route). One of the last things Marina said by way of introduction was, “What day is it today?” Someone shouted “Tuesday”. “OK”, she said, “let’s make it seem like Friday night”. And she was off into the first song. Wittingly or not, she did two...
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THE POWER OF DESCRIPTION – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #89

Jose John July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 89: THE POWER OF DESCRIPTION Everyone in selling must know the concept of features and benefits, and that, to use and an old phrase; you sell the sizzle and not the sausages. People buy something because of what it does for them, or means to them; that is, they buy because of its benefits. As a result, sales messages should predominantly be benefit-led: you talk about the benefits, and use the features as factors that demonstrate how a benefit can be delivered. So far so good, yet prevailing practice is by no means perfect, and the world is full of sales people busily talking about features. Certainly I find that significant number of people attending courses on sales techniques do not really understand the difference between features and benefits. Even when you clearly understand the difference, the way benefits are described is a key factor in making a successful sales pitch and obtaining agreement. Idea From a manufacturer of catering equipment … Selling a range of cookers, grills, water heaters, and other items for hotels, restaurants, and various such establishments certainly involves a degree of technical detail, but let’s just concentrate on a couple of simple facts. Imagine too that a busy...
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BE PREPARED – Best Sales and Marketing ideas #88

Jose John July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing ideas IDEA 88: BE PREPARED Every text about selling stresses the need for preparation, and the danger of trying to wing it. Yet there are occasion when many sales people do just that. They think they have everything in mind, and that no further thought is necessary. This area is so important that one example to stress the danger is a must. Idea From a firm of architects … This particular firm was already successful, but it wanted to increase the size of projects for which it was invite to pitched. It went for a job involving the building of residential training centres for a national charity, and after preliminary meeting, was put on the short-list. This firm and two others then had to make a presentation to the board that ran the charity. This necessitated some preparation. Three people were to speak; they met briefly and shared out the task, and one of them agreed to make the slides they would use in the presentation. Give the nature of the business, there were impressive things to show, and slides were always an important part of any pitch for an architecture firm. The three met again on the evening before the presentation, and looked...
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ON YOUR FEET – Best sales and Marketing Ideas #87

Jose John July 26, 2013 No Comments
101 Best sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 87: ON YOUR FEET Not all selling takes place in a one-to-one meeting. It can take place in many situations: in farmyard (always keep Wellington boots in your car boot if you’re likely to end up in this environment), in a noisy factory, or across the dinner table. Another circumstance is a formal on-your-feet presentation. Then the audience and the scale of the situation can mean there are different things to think – or perhaps worry – about. A formal presentation is something that needs some thought and planning (remember: the people who make it look easy usually do their homework). There are principles and tricks of the trade, and it’s beyond my brief to describe them here (for that, see my book How to Craft Successful Business Presentations, published by Foulsham), but one thing is certain – conference is a major factor. Idea At a conference of a professional management organization … In the formal setting of a presentation, people respond to the speaker’s manner. If you look and sound confident, people assume that you are; they assume you know your stuff and are credible. If you create this feeling early on, they may well decide to pay attention. Many things...
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LONG TERM CONTACT – Best Sales and marketing Ideas #86

Jose John 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

Jose John 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

Jose John 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

Jose John 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

Jose John 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

Jose John 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

Jose John 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

Jose John 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

Jose John 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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