GET THE COMPETITION INTO THE DISCUSSION – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #56

English_Master May 30, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 56: GET THE COMPETITION INTO THE DISCUSSION It is axiomatic that decrying the competition is not a good idea. If you say to a customer that company X is rubbish, it always turns out that the person deal with them, like them, or their brother-in-law works for them. Rather than giving you sound defensive, arrogant, or just plain spiteful. None are attractive characteristics, or likely to help create rapport or a good relationship. But dealing with the question of the competition may be unavoidable in a conversation. Idea From many a different industry… If a customer brings a competitor into conversation, especially if they ask your opinion of it – “How do you compare with X?” –the best tactic may be to praise your rival. Indeed it may well work best to lay it on with a trowel: “From what I hear the company has good reputation, makes excellent products, and always seems to deliver on time”. Such a statement may well prompt a response that pulls back a bit. “We’ve done some business with them, and they’re fine”, your customer might be reply, “but I wouldn’t go that far. We did have one delivery problems.” This has brought you into a...
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USE YOUR CUSTOMERS’ TIMING – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #55

English_Master May 30, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 55: USE YOUR CUSTOMERS’ TIMING Sometimes it is difficult to know the best time to do something. This is true of anything in life: when should you apply for a new job, move to the country, or just broach the subject of what colour the living room should be painted with your partner? With customers we always seem to have a sense of urgency. We not only want an order, we want it soon, or even right now. This may be understandable, but it reflects a focus on us, not on them. Information is the key to choosing the right time. An early boss of mine once made a light-hearted comment to the effect that he had got himself a pay rise by saying it was a leap year and he had to work harder. I stored the remark away for two years until another leap year came along, and then reminded him of it. I got a laugh and small extra rise. With customers the information you glean and act on may be different, but effect can be similar. Idea This from company selling office furniture… It is often helpful to customer relations if you involve yourself to agree in your...
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KEEP THEIR ATTENTION – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #54

English_Master May 29, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 54: KEEP THEIR ATTENTION It is bad enough when a customer’s attention wanders. It is worse when you know –or realize later –that it is your fault it is happening. Sometimes when a customer’s mind does wander, whatever is causing it has nothing to do with you; it was in train before you arrived. If you notice a lack of attention, it is worth pausing, and checking by asking, “Is this best to abandon the meeting and set a new time. I have done this several times, and always thought that time proved me right. In some cases it jumped client relations ahead positively because it was appreciated. Idea From those wonderful people at Microsoft… The idea here addresses the problem of inattention highlighted above, and does so in a way that is very specific to computer presentations using PowerPoint. You might be in a one-to-one meeting, putting your laptop on the buyer’s desk, or you might be giving a more a formal presentation involving several, or many, people. PowerPoint presentations can be powerful, enabling you to use a series of images to enhance your point. (Remember that any slides you show should support your case, not lead it, and certainly not...
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GUARANTEE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #53

English_Master May 29, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 53: GUARANTEE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN Any purchase puts the customer in the position of taking a risk. This is very clear with anything mechanical – the customer wonders whether it will go wrong, and if it does how things will be handled and what it will cost in time and money. Given that customers have this worry; can you take advantage of it? Idea From the motor manufacturer Hyundai… Cars are certainly a product for which people worry about reliability. A failed car can not only cost you time and money, it can leave you stranded, risking other things like your reputation at work, or ability to visit someone in hospital. So customers want a guarantee. Over the years the length of the guarantees offered has increased – a year, two years, more – and they do provide confidence and make a sale more likely. As I write this, Hyundai is offering a full five-year guarantee, and certain aspects of the car are covered for longer than that. Given that this is not the most famous make of car, I suspect that this must help sales success significantly, not just because of the length of coverage but also because of...
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KEEP CUSTOMERS THINKING OF YOU – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #52

English_Master May 29, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 52: KEEP CUSTOMERS THINKING OF YOU It is hardly a new idea to keep with customers. Memories are short, especially when people are busy, and exposed to numerous other message from other people and organizations. So most sales people do it to some degree or another, but sometimes it is regarded as a waste of time. For instance, the very nature of the business might make it inappropriate. Or does it? Idea From a specialist retailer… When repeat purchases are possibility, most businesses make an effort to stay in touch with customers. But when they are not, further contact can seem like a waste of time. Yet one company shows that this is not always true. It is a specialist retailer selling wedding dresses. The average marriage may not always last as long as it used to do, but even so a customer is hardly likely to come in a fortnight after their wedding wanting another wedding dress. Yet this retailer scheduled in (and budgeted for) a number of specific follow-up contacts after the dress was delivered and paid for. It sent flowers and card on the big day to wish the couple well, an invitation to function a month or so...
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SURPRISE CUSTOMERS WITH SPEED OF RESPONSE – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #51

English_Master May 29, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 51: SURPRISE CUSTOMERS WITH SPEED OF RESPONSE A rapid response used to mean a brochure sent out on the day that a request for one arrived. Now communications are different: we e-mail and text instantly and can look at company details in real time on the internet. At the same time technology can also slow things down and annoy people. For example, who has not had a bad experience with automated telephone systems? We ring… and we wait. We go through interminable selection of options (which always seem to put “Just let me speak to someone” at the end of long list), and listen to music we detest, and endless statements that “Your call is important to us”. Clearly little has been done to actually demonstrate that. I am getting on a hobby horse here, but it’s still the case that it is wise not to do this, or anything like it. However sometimes it is possible to use technology in a way that truly impresses, and provide genuinely good service. Idea From the subcontinent of India … India is an enigma. It’s a huge country, with a million of poor people, as well as a burgeoning economy, and everything it takes...
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MAKE DESCRIPTION RING A BELL – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #50

English_Master May 28, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 50: MAKE DESCRIPTION RING A BELL There can be a problem in describing even the best product in terms that make sense to the customer. This problem is worsened if the product is new and unknown. The advice to sales people is always to be truly descriptive, but in these circumstances it’s easy to become vague and include the words “sort of” early on. Customers tend to be defeated by this. The trick is to find right way to explain what the product is like, and that starts with the customer. Idea From the out-of-this world world of Star Trek… The television series Star Trek is now a legend across the globe. The original may started slowly, but it gained cult status, spawned several spin-offs across many years and led to a series of successful films. Financially it became one of the most successful such a franchise ever, so perhaps it is difficult now to remember how different it was at its inception from other programs being broadcasts at the time. Creator Gene Roddenberry had to find a way of pitching his program idea to the networks. He thought he had a truly novel idea, yet he knew that those he sought...
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SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #49

English_Master May 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 49: SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE This section acknowledges that not all selling takes place in the home country of the sales person doing it. Some operations are multinational, and whatever the first language of their employees, many such companies have English as their “business languages”. However, if you are to create sufficient rapport with your overseas customers you may need to do more than simply speak to them in business English. Idea From website management company Attenda… Attenda can provide its service to clients around the world from offices in United Kingdom, and has multilingual staff available 24 hours a day. However research showed that potential clients in Germany wanted to deal with a local company, and with German people. David Godwin, vice president, reckoned, “We are not big enough to buck the system,” so the company set up a German subsidiary. The people selling Attenda’s service there are German employee of what is positioned as a local company. Whatever other problems they may have in a competitive field, no cross-cultural problems should hamper their sales success. Similarly, Princtronic International, Europe’s leading data-processing computer bureau, also has strong language capabilities. Its MD says, “despite English being the global business language our experience in...
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PUT OVER A CONSISTENT MESSAGE – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #48

English_Master May 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 48: PUT OVER A CONSISTENT MESSAGE Customers find it off-putting to check something out and find that different parts of an organization give even slightly different messages, yet especially with complex products it can be difficult to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. Product knowledge is mentioned more than once in these pages and having the right information in the right forms is vital if selling is going to be successful. Prospects find it more difficult to understand the complexities of a proposal if they hear slightly different things from different people. Idea From global telecoms company Cables & Wireless… Cable & Wireless operates in more than 70 countries. One regional division has activities especially well spread, with operations current in markets as diverse and far-flung as the Solomon Islands and the West Indies. When it launched a ranged of new internet products there was a need  to ensure that members of the widely dispersed sales team understood them sufficiently well to do justice to selling them, and indeed to get the launch off to a good start. The team was given the information through specially designed e-learning, which addressed the basic technical knowledge that sales people needed, together with...
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TAKE YOUR TIME – Best Sales and Marketing ideas #47

English_Master May 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 47: TAKE YOUR TIME Many products and services are non-standard. A kitchen can be designed and tailored to fit your needs and your house, a landscape gardener works in a similar way, many computer systems and consultancy of all sorts is bespoke. To a degree this is one of the strengths of such products, and one of the things that persuades the customer and prompts purchase. But there is a danger. If the customer does not believe the product or service is really bespoke (when that is what they want), but suspects what they are being offered is actually just a standard option, then a unique aspects of it is negated and selling becomes that much more difficult. Even if there is a “good fit,” they may believe they are being short-changed; certainly perception of price may well change. Idea This is a common problem in consultancy, which is part of my own work portfolio… There are two stages to making bespoke suggestions. The first is identifying the individual circumstances, the second making a specific suggestion based on observation and some sort of survey. Often the second involves a written proposal. For example: the kitchen supplier must draw up and submit drawings...
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REMOVE FEAR OF RISK – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #46

English_Master May 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 46: REMOVE FEAR OF RISK Many buyers are fearful of the decision you ask them to take. They feel insecure, they lack knowledge, they lack experience, they are conscious of acting for others – what will my boss say? – And all these feelings and more amount to the same thing: they are fearful of failure. They worry about the consequences if the product does not work, does not perform as expected, or any sort of short-fall appears after purchase. The good sales person is aware of this, and sets out to diminish this fear during a sales meeting. But is there more you can do? Idea When Phoebe was six years old… She wanted a kitten. This reminds me of a remark I saw on the internet, attributed to Annabel (also aged six): if you want a guinea pig, start by asking for a pony. Never have I come across a clearer indication of the nature of negotiation: 10 more years and she will be a force to be reckoned with. Sorry, I digress. Imagine that Phoebe’s parents went through the first stage and agreed to her having the kitten. They checked out various sources, and soon found that this difficult...
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ASK FOR REFERRALS – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #45

English_Master May 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 45: ASK FOR REFERRALS Sometimes we are reluctant to ask for referrals, yet if you recommended to a prospect by someone who already buys from you (and is satisfied), that’s likely to give you a small head start. So why is there a reluctance to ask? Is it embarrassment perhaps, or fear of rejection or failure? It is not likely that an existing and happy customer (obviously don’t ask any dissatisfied ones!) will be angry or upset at your asking. They might see it as inappropriate in some way, but if so they are most likely to decline to politely, not shout at you. Idea Many people do this, but I’ll credit my thinking of it here to the guy who drives me to the airport … Steve runs a taxi company. Actually that description does not his operation a disservice: he runs a “luxury car service”, and specializes in wedding and events, runs to the airport and longer journeys.  He charges just a little bit more than the Mondeo cowboys who frequent the various taxi companies in the town. (Actually I must not malign them all, but some are perhaps just a touch unreliable). Steve always turns up on time, wears...
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SURPRISE THEM WITH YOUR WRITING – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #44

English_Master May 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 44: SURPRISE THEM WITH YOUR WRITING The written word is not everyone’s strong suit in terms of communication. Sales people often feel more comfortable in face-to face situation, and feel most confident of it too. Faced with having to put something into writing, they can produce something into writing, they can produce something turgid, replete with gobbledegook and “business peak,” that is so over-formal and impersonal that it serves only to alienate people. “Who is this person?” the readers ask themselves. But it is possible for something unexpected and well conceived to create real impact, more so if it stands out from the banality sent by others. Idea From my own past … This is example is from the last stages of the sale, where things can so often stick at a “Leave it with me” stage. It can makes the point that sometimes there is little new left to say. You can only repeat “it’s me again,” especially if you reckon the proposition is good and the only reason for lack of confirmation is timing or distraction, rather than the customer being totally unconvinced. Then the job is to continue to maintain contact, and ultimately to jog people into action, while...
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SHOW PEOPLE YOUR SIZE – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #43

English_Master May 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 43: SHOW PEOPLE YOUR SIZE Size is an measure contributing to the overall image of an organization. If the entire operation consists of one man and a (small) dog, it is difficult to give the impression of a multinational conglomerate, at least without telling some significant untruths. Certainly successful selling may necessitate some serious exaggeration, but you may draw the line at telling at straight lie, if only on the basis of the risk of being caught out. On the other hand you may be able to e strictly honest and yet give the impression that your company is grander than it really is. Idea From BigStar, an online video and DVD retailer … Wanting people to think of it as a major player, this company budgeted for some advertising. Its logo appeared on several hundred trucks in key regions of its market (New York, Los Angeles and more). The logo was presented in a way that made the trucks look like BigStar’s own vehicles, although in fact it had no delivery fleet, and all deliveries were contracted out. Customer awareness increased substantially, and sales staff stopped having to talk up the company’s size and status, because people simply saw it as...
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MAKE PEOPLE BELIEVE YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL – Best Sales and Marketing Ideas #42

English_Master May 27, 2013 No Comments
101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas IDEA 42: MAKE PEOPLE BELIEVE YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL This heading should perhaps be followed by the words, “even when you are not”. There is no question that success, however you may choose to define it, is a sign-one that lends conviction to a sales argument. If you are successful people will figure that you must have customers, and they must be happy customers too or you would soon cease to be successful. Conversely if you are not (yet) successful it is difficult to get a hearing; and this makes it difficult for companies, and sales people, in their early days. Idea Jerry Della Femina throws a party … Jerry Della Femina is a heavyweight of the American advertising business, but it was not always thus. One advertising agency he founded was slow to attract clients, and it looked as if it might well founder. As Christmas approached he decided to pour his last remaining funds into an epic Christmas party. He sent more than a thousand invitations to journalists and potential client, and put on “one hell of a do.” People love to be associated with success. The “big do” indicated success, and a large number of those invited attended. It gave him...
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