Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Wanna Go Fast

As in the famous words of Rick Bobby, the race car driver in Talladega Nights, "I wanna go fast" should be the mantra of sales professionals each and every day.

Admit it, we are the Blackberry generation... multi-tasking whenever we can... reading while exercising, talking while driving, texting while eating. There's no escaping it.

Our customers want things right away. I'm just as demanding... when I call a company to place an order or resolve an issue... I want answers fast. And god forbid I'm put on hold!

But there is a bright lining to the madness. If you are in sales and can be the first to respond to a prospect's request, there's a very good chance that you'll get the sale. To wit... I have a buddy in the construction business; if you know the industry or have ever had to call a painter, roofer, plumber or other tradesman you know what I mean. Many are "fly by nights" and rough around the edges (not all of them, mind you). My friend does extremely well year after year for one reason, and one reason only. He answers his phone. "I truly think my success is based on the fact that I answer the phone when it rings or when customers leave a message I call them back before the end of the day," he said. "It's that simple."

I can attest to his strategy. If I'm the first to respond to a sales lead I increase my success rate ten-fold. I've had customers say, "I guess you're getting the job because you're the only one who took the time to call me back." Sweet!

So the next time you think to return a call "after lunch," why not take a few minutes before you leave and dial that number. The other end may hold a wonderful and profitable opportunity.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Please Be Brutally Honest

Marketing plans based on hearsay and internal opinions waste a ton of money every year for many businesses. Product designs, colors, pricing, and placement are but a few of the miscues sales and marketing people make. It's not that they're unintelligent, it's just that most believe that they know what's best for their "baby"... they become emotionally attached - that's not good.

Traditional market research, focus groups, prototypes, redesigns, and revamping the unique selling proposition can drain a budget real quick. Fortunately there's help... it's called the Internet.

Scientific Marketing Services, the New Jersey-based marketing and multi-media resource agency for businesses throughout the world has come up with a low-cost web-based product called MarketLink™ that gathers information directly from your marketplace... year around.

Using the SMS MarketLink™ you get the straight, unadulterated scoop from your customer’s mouths straight to your ear. Sometime what you hear may not be flattering and may be hard to take, especially if it goes against what your sales people, dealers or others have been telling you; but you’ll always learn important facts that might otherwise be ignored, to your own detriment.

Are the comments always right? Certainly not, but they are always thought provoking, and they can help you identify wrong impressions and other subtle, and not so subtle problems in your marketplace, or with your customers... before it’s too late.

You can check out the program's details in this month's SMS e-jottings newsletter which is hot off the press. Send me an e-mail and I'll send it to you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Secret to Keeping Clients

All too often your clients and customers leave because of lack of communication. I'm not talking about regular contact activities such as a weekly call or the sending of a newsletter... although these simple techniques should not be forgotten. I'm referring to serious communication... one-on-one dialog. Whenever you get a new customer blatantly ask them "What do you want to accomplish?" If they respond, "I want more customers" or "to increase my sales" ask them "how many more customers will make you happy?" and "how much would you like to increase your sales by?" This is true communication. It's also communication that will make you a star. It's Goal Setting 101 - i.e., you never set a goal to lose weight, you set a goal to lose 10 pounds.

Try it out the next time you sit down with your customers. Ask the tough questions and be ready to produce results. It's only after this back and forth exchange will you truly be able to develop a reputation for getting things done and keeping clients very, very happy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Move Please

Gloom, despair, stocks plunging, corporate profits down, Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme, layoffs... when will it end? No one really knows. I don't care who you listen to on the TV or radio... the pundits don't know any more than you. And while times are tough and money is tight, you need to stay focused on what you can control.

Keep plugging along... keep making calls... keep prospecting... keep researching... keep writing... keep your head up. Most important, don't pay one iota to the "other guy". Stay focused on what's working for you. There has to be something positive going on in your life. Now's not the time to shrivel up and die.

This is the time for opportunity. Go out there and tell the other guy to move over!