A Changing Landscape
Doing business today is much different than it was yesterday and will be different than tomorrow. So exactly how has it changed?
A recurring comment I hear from most clients seeking business resuscitation and/or marketing support today is: Where business used to come easily [via referrals, ads and other traditional marketing tactics], I now have to go and “get it”. In other words, all of us, in addition to being an excellent lawyer, plumber, real estate agent, marketing consultant, (insert profession here), have to also be great sales people. However, most professionals and small business owners/entrepreneurs either don’t like/prefer sales, are not good at it, have a fear of rejection, and/or simply do not have the time or motivation to do sales for their business.
It is imperative (I repeat: IMPERATIVE!) for you and your business to develop a skill set in sales no matter who you are, what role you have with your company, and/or what you do if you desire to survive and thrive in today’s competitive environment.
Where to Begin
Good sales experiences and sales people are all around us. Think about it: What was the last large personal product or service you purchased without hesitation? The most recent experience where you did not even ask or care how much something cost you just had to have it.
Could it have been the Trinidad Tuna entree at Tommy Bahamas, lightly pan seared, rare, with lemongrass encrusted Ahi tuna, handsomely seasoned with sweet chili sauce and cilantro oil drizzle, served with a generous compliment of sautéed baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms, delicately garnished with pickled ginger, wasabi paste and toasted sesame seeds –favorably articulated with enthusiasm, zest and recommendation from the delightful waiter?
Or maybe it was the Philharmonic Orchestra’s presentation of “Journeys through Motion,” where entertaining Conductor Stuart Chafetz guided an experiential musical adventure through the air with E.T., down the Grand Canyon on a donkey, along the South American countryside on a train and sailing the seas aboard an English ship, including selections such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and John Williams’ “Nimbus 2000″ from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” There’s no doubt that certain promotional descriptions and presentations have greater propensity to generate a sale than those that don’t. (Don’t you want to run out tonight for an evening of dinner and music at Tommy Bahama’s and the Phil?)
Just as unforgettable products and services can be distinguished from forgettable ones with the use of smart sales tactics, so, too, can people! What exactly separates a good sales person from a great sales person? Here are a few personal examples:
- While shopping for a car for my wife, we decided to try out the Volvo XC 90. It was more expensive that what we wanted but we were attracted to its sporty looks, 2.5L turbo, and comfortable leather interior. Safety being high on our list of criteria (Little did we know that we would be expecting twins a year later), I clearly remember the DeVoe Volvo salesperson stating “A Volvo saved my life.” He went on to describe his near-death accident where had it not been for the Volvo he was driving that protected him and his family, where they all would otherwise not have made it. What can I say? We were sold on the spot and, to this date, still love our Volvo.
- While vacationing in Annapolis this past September, I secretly bought my wife the necklace she was ogling in a small gallery featuring jewelry by independent artists. Upon finishing the transaction, the gallery owner gently took me aside and whispered, “The earrings that go with that necklace, made by the same artist, are wonderful. Here’s my card with my contact information, including my email address and website with pictures. If you’d like to purchase them for Christmas [knowing it was right around the corner and almost intuitively realizing I usually wait until the last minute to buy gifts], contact me…” Sure enough, I not only bought the earrings for Christmas, but ordered the bracelet for my wife’s birthday in February. An example of a well-executed, non-intrusive up-sell, as he knew I would have a future need in mind. Needless to say, the gallery owner lengthened my sales experience by six months with little costs to serving and selling me again. I will probably buy more from that jeweler and will maintain a long-term relationship with him and his store…
Whatever the circumstance, good sales people and good sales tactics are obvious. And, when done right, the experience can even be enjoyable from both the buyer and seller’s perspectives, respective of the value transacted and perceived and not necessarily the costs.
Here are some useful action tips to help you be a better sales person today in support of your business:
Segment your list of prospective customers
- It’s true that 20% of your customers will bring in 80% of your business.
- It’s important to know who those 20% are currently and seek more just like them (identify their profile, what they respond to, how you can find them, etc.) so you are not wasting your time with prospects that are not qualified to buy your products and/or services.
- Action item: Segment your lists of prospects by first identifying the top 25 – 50 and write them down.
Know your brand and your Unique Selling Proposition. More importantly, know the competition’s.
- How you position yourself and sell your business is usually what will separate you from the competition.
- Remember: Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the answer to the question: Why should I choose your products and services vs. the alternatives that are available to me?
- Also, know your competitor’s USP and how they position themselves.
- Action item: Call three competitors and pretend you are an interested new customer. See how they position themselves and take notes.
Always Be Closing (ABC)
- Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale and, when asking for the sale, do not be afraid to ask for more than one. (See the Annapolis example.)
- Also, if what you’re selling is not within your prospect’s budget, yet they still show an interest, find out what is within their budget or, specifically, what their budget is. You may be able to accommodate the customer and make a sale with just this basic information.
- Action item: Develop three different scenarios of fictitious clients and how you would address each. (You may come up with unique packaging that you hadn’t thought of before!)
Use Information as a Giveaway
- In today’s content marketing world, feel free to offer expert information to earn respect and interest in purchasing from you. Send your customers useful tips and position yourself as the expert.
- Show them how they can do some things themselves, yet preserve their dependence on you as the expert .
- Action item: Start a blog and/or newsletter.
- Cold calling is hard work and not many enjoy it. I once made a cold call on behalf of a client that turned into a $6M deal that was signed within 60 days of the call. Bottom line? It works-and nothing beats getting a decision maker on the phone at the right time with the right product/service and message.
- Action item: Develop a bulleted call scrip and cold call five new prospects this week.
Go Forth and Multiply (Sales)!
Sales is hard work. Those who are good at it survive and those that are great at it thrive –-even in challenging times. Be persistent and steadfast with your sales efforts: Take a sales class; read a book on sales; learn from the greats. The principles and tactics that work are pretty universal.
Most of all, be smart about your sales efforts and use your time efficiently. Your business will thank you for it.
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Naples, FL. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and has taught Marketing at New York University for over five years. For more information or to learn more, visit www.smartmarketingllc.com or call 239.963.9396.