KEEP SEARCHING FOR AN EDGE – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #101

English_Master July 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas Idea 101: KEEP SEARCHING FOR AN EDGE As a final entry (and yes, I know it says 100 ideas on the cover, but I have made a point of emphasizing the usefulness of something unexpected), I would like to make a point about the dynamic nature of the sales process. Sadly there is no one magic bullet that transforms every sales situation into a certain winner. Every sales person must get used to some rejection, and work with the prevailing strike rate in their industry. What this book does is provide ideas that might improve your strike rate. The best sales people never give up on the process of improvement. They see the process as dynamic, and constantly work to better what they do. Not every skill is like this. Something that illustrates his principle, one that occurs to me as I write, is the skill of typing. I may type less than perfectly, but I do use a lot of fingers, and I do go at a fair rate. (Publishers do not pay enough to make slow writing economic!). This is something of a static skill. As long as I do enough typing, and do so regularly, my speed will keep up,...
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WHY ARE YOU CALLING? – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #100

English_Master July 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 100: WHY ARE YOU CALLING? This book has touched on one of the perennial success factors of selling: preparation. Good records, clear thinking before a sales meeting, an agenda and more all help you to run the kind of meeting that you want, and those customers find useful. One fault I have seen more regularly than any other over the years is linked to this idea. It is somehow perpetuated by being rationalized as “useful”. Idea For all sales people who do not think through the reason for calling… If I had even modesty valued coin of the realm for every time the words “courtesy call” has appeared on sales people’s call report forms, under a heading like “Reason for call”, I would be a millionaire. Let me be clear immediately: there should be no such things a courtesy call. Every call needs specific objectives. It is not useful, least of all to productivity, to call because it is month since you saw someone last, because you can fit a call in easily en route somewhere else, or worst of all, to make up the number of calls needed to hit the target for a particular week. You must be able to...
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NEVER TELL OBVIOUS LIES – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #99

English_Master July 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 99: NEVER TELL OBVIOUS LIES It may be that selling involves some exaggeration, and occasionally a little white lie, but more than that runs risks. Tell someone that the battery life of some gizmo is twice what it actually is, and this description may help clinch the sale, but it may also mean the customer is back promptly to return the goods, and resolves never to buy from you again. Yet despite the logic of this, some sales people not only tell lies, they compound the damage by telling obvious lies, in some cases making statement that are both cliché and spotted as doubtful at ten paces. My least favourite, and a common one, is the sales person seeking an appointment who says something like, “What about Tuesday morning at 10 am? I will be in your area then”. Now, not only do I not believe this for a single second (the person will be in my area only if I agree to a meeting), strangely I do not see helping the person to reduce their travel time as a priority at this early stage in our relationship. Certainly it is not a reason to see them. Such a line simply fails...
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GO ON FOOT – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #98

English_Master July 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 98: GO ON FOOT I’ve mentioned sales productivity elsewhere. It is a truism that the greater the amount of time you spend – primarily face to face – with customers, the greater the chance of your concluding deals and producing business. Yet there are so many hazards that can easily act to dilute productivity and reduce time spent with customers. Administration is just one factor. If you see five customers each working day (and some see fewer), then given about 220 working days in the year (allowing for holidays, sickness, sales meeting, and more), you make not many more than 1,000 calls a year – and there is a great deal to do in that time, no doubt. It’s a scary thought. Idea From those organization with the fittest sales people … There is one factor almost guaranteed to increase productivity, and yet shunned by some (many?) sales people. That is to do with cars. Given the increasingly slow speed of traffic in most major cities, sales people the world over spend more and more of their time travelling. The spent in the car is essentially non-productive. It might seem that there is comparatively little to be done about this, but some...
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DEFINE YOUR JOB – Best Sales and marketing Ideas #97

English_Master July 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 97: DEFINE YOUR JOB Different sales jobs are, well, different. For instance, one may involve much cold calling, another none. One may involve short one-off meetings, while others may necessitate a long chain of events all of which must be got right. Simply to say that job is “to sell” is not a useful guide to making it successful. Idea From American business guru Mark McCormack … For selling to be done well, anyone doing it must be clear what “doing selling” means. The first step she is to produce a clear definition of your own sales job. This needs to be entirely job and organization-specific, but general overviews can be helpful here too. For instance the following comes from McCormack on selling, a book by Mark McCormack, the American sports marketing consultant and commentator: The qualities that I believe make a good salesman: believe in your product believe in yourself see a lot of people pay attention to timing listen to the customer –but realize that what the customer wants is not necessarily what he or she is telling you develop a sense of humour knock on old doors ask everyone to buy follow up after the sales with same aggressiveness...
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SHOW TO SELL – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #96

English_Master July 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 96: SHOW TO SELL Sometimes, with some products, you do better not to talk about something, but to show it – demonstrate it –working. Whether it is a photocopier or a car in which you offer prospects a test drive, the principles are similar. Idea Many people do less than a good job of demonstrating. Here I have in mind Panasonic, and a perfectly conducted demo I once attended…. What are the key factors if a demonstration is to work and boost the chance of sales success? Many of the basic rules of selling apply here. You must focus on needs, maintain interest (maybe not every aspect of your customers and a comprehensive run-through of features may be neither necessary nor appreciated), go through matters following a pre-explained structure and sequence, and above all, talk benefits. The job is to get people to imagine something in use. So remember: Set up fast. Make sure you get everything ready. Have you got the key and is the electricity switched on? Make it understandable. This is vital. Demonstrations can be spoilt by jargon, gobbledegook, and confusion. Sometimes they consist of an over-lengthy discussion about irrelevant details. Everything must be spelt out so that it...
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BENCHMARK YOURSELF – Best Sales and marketing Ideas #95

English_Master July 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and marketing Ideas IDEA 95: BENCHMARK YOURSELF You may be pretty good at selling (even though you say so yourself), but do you know how you compare with others, not just in your organization, but also more widely? Idea From consultants Miller Heinman … This company specializes in the sales area. It does not regular research, and one survey, conducted in conjunction with Quest Media Ltd, and published in the journal Winning Business, reviewed current practice and looked to the future. It examined the changing sales role, customer expectations and beliefs, and the whole way sales teams are organized, staffed, rewarded, and managed. Key finding indicated that: Customers are becoming better informed and more organized, demanding, and sharp in their dealings with sales people (with the internet being used to a significant extent for pre-buying research). Technology is having, and will continue to have, an effect on sales activity. Most dramatically it is replacing sales people with electronic, impersonal buying, although this is not affecting large numbers of business areas. The dynamic nature of this area is evidenced by the uncertainly respondent reflected in their forecasts of what other influences are becoming important. Recruitment is a perpetual challenge, as is retention. CRM is becoming a more...
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THE SMALL PRINT – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #94

English_Master July 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 94: THE SMALL PRINT Many a deal has founded on the small print. The customer likes the product, they want to buy the product, May even at some stages they intend to do so, and then – suddenly – they decline. Something about the terms of the deal destroyed their intent. Idea From the conference industry …  The terms and condition you state for contracts must protect your financial position as supplier, and in particular, protect your profitability. At the same time it is important that they: are communicated clearly and prevent misunderstandings project efficiency enhance the client relationship (for which, they must be seen as acceptable and necessary) encourage conversation of business effectively and promptly Link to any other necessary arrangements and documentation. I first worked on the detail of what is best here during some research with the Meetings Industry Association. They key here and elsewhere is that when discussing terms and conditions you should never apologize. Stress the mutual advantage of clearly specified contract conditions. Talk about working together, and if necessary use a checklist to ensure you deal with everything systematically. Specifically you want to evolve a step-by-step way of introducing and describing terms and conditions, and making...
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BECAUSE YOU’RE SPECIAL – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #93

English_Master July 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 93: BECAUSE YOU’RE SPECIAL There is saying that a little flattery goes a long way, meaning that flattery can oil the wheels of relationships, and carry people with you. Of course, this is something to use carefully. If flattery is used like a blunt instrument, or in the wrong context, it will simply rub people up the wrong way. Besides, many people think they are not susceptible to flattery, and perhaps the more sophisticated are not. If you have just said to yourself, “Quite right, I can spot flattery coming at ten paces and it doesn’t fool me”, then you have just proved the point that it does work. Idea From an international conference organizer … I was recently asked to be a keynote speaker at an international conference is to be held in Seoul. Although the organizer offered to cover the costs of travel and accommodation, the fee was small, and I needed to be there for the three days the event lasted. So allowing for my travel time, I wasn’t going to make much money for the time it would take me. The organizer used two major tactics to persuade me to participate. First, the event would attract interesting people,...
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NO PROBLEM – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #92

English_Master 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

English_Master 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

English_Master 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

English_Master 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

English_Master 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

English_Master 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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