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Category Archives: Sales Process

How well do you know your customers?

By | Marketing Strategy, Sales Process, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Having an “outside in” approach to your business is difficult. It requires you to shift your focus from running, managing and developing your business to that of your customer. This mind shift of really stepping into the customer shoes and then developing a marketing strategy  is critical to be a successful small business (well any business really) and yet most companies are still selling a promise to customers that they can’t deliver or one they don’t want.

I hear customers I interview say all the time;”If they had only asked me what I wanted I would have told them.”

Your customer’s perceptions of you are not based just on an email, your website or going into your store to buy something. Their perceptions are formed when you live up to your promise or break it, generally after the sale. What happens when the product breaks, they are left on hold for 10 minutes, they are given the run around! It is hard to keep promises. It is hard to always treat the customer well, but that is why it is more important than ever to preempt their concerns and stay ahead of their expectations to deliver a really compelling customer experience.

It is about identifying with the customer journey that you can really ensure that your promises are kept. If you make promises that are not kept the customer will judge you as a liar and customers will tell others, as we all hate liars.

If you want to gain some customer insights and map out your customer buying path book a marketing strategy session today.

 

Related posts: Creating a customer centric culture

Podcast on creating a customer centric culture

Do you have the right sales tools?

By | Sales Process, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Sales materials  and tools are designed to help you move prospects forward in the sales process. Each piece should have a specific job: to answer a natural question that the prospect has at a specific point in the process.

Literature and tools are powerful because they can:

  • Carry authority and credibility if very well done
  • Convey your message consistently
  • Convey your brand positioning and value proposition in a memorable and powerful way
  • Increase your efficiency because they are passed along to multiple people within an organization rather than delivered verbally by a salesperson on a one-to-one basis

Tools and literature help convey product information and answer your prospects’ questions. You can use tools and literature to generate new leads. For example, white papers and case studies are very popular tools to offer in email and internet marketing campaigns. Prospects can download them to gain valuable information, and you can capture names and email addresses for further follow up.

What kind of sales literature and tools do you need? Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and think about the questions and objections you’d have at each stage of the sales process.

 

Here are some examples

 

Sales Tool/Literature Piece  Typical Use 
Company brochureA printed piece – it can be as simple as a one page tri-fold to an elaborate four-color bound piece, or a PDF for delivery via email. When you introduce yourself and your company. People don’t typically read it, but they will probably skim it and expect it. It can be a valuable tool in conveying your brand positioning through visual design and production quality.
WebsiteYour website is an incredibly important sales tool. Some consumers and most businesspeople review a prospective vendor’s website, and many of them make a decision whether to do business with that company based on the website alone.Since a website is typically the most complex sales tool, use 12 – Websites to evaluate your current site if you have one, and then develop requirements based on your needs. Prospects typically look at websites early in the sales process. You can also use your site to generate new prospects through internet marketing efforts.
Product/service data sheetsOne-page sheets with product specifications and photos. To convey detailed or technical product information in a simple format.
White papersA research report that provides news, “best practices,” scenarios, and/or data in an informative, neutral (non-salesy) tone. To educate the market about a problem and potential solution. It isn’t meant to sell the features or benefits of a product or service — it’s meant to quantify a pain and entice the prospect to continue to seek a solution.A valuable white paper is a popular offer for email and internet marketing campaigns — it can be used to generate new leads and nurture existing leads.
Case studiesShow how a client’s problem was solved by your product/service. After a product presentation, shows in detail how a customer benefited from your product/service.
Reference listsA list of current customers, often segmented by industry or division. People typically like to review references either before they start the sales process, or right before they purchase.
Hard copy newsletterProvides valuable information while keeping you top-of-mind. Typically 11×18 folded to create four usable pages. To gain more information about their product, service or industry.

 

 

Sales Tool/Literature Piece  Typical Use 
PowerPoint presentation templatePowerPoint is an electronic slideshow software by Microsoft. It’s used to provide visuals during a presentation. Viewing during a presentation and potentially a handout, but rarely as a piece of standalone literature.
Product demoPhysically showing how the product works To show how the product/service works.
Product sampleGiving the product to the prospect to review/use. For people to feel, test and use the product.
FoldersHold literature and business cards – can be printed to convey ideas, themes or messages. To hold other information, such as a brochure, data sheets and case studies.

 

 

Templates  Typical Use 
Proposal templateStructured delivery of your quote of your product/service delivery and price – provides an opportunity to make another impression when prospect is making the decision to purchase. To review your price for the products/services offered.
Sales letter templatesTemplates of different letters for your salespeople to use during the sales process. To ensure that salespeople are conveying your messaging and to speed up the letter-writing process.
Email templatesSame as sales letters – templates your sales team can use in the sales process. Same as sales letters.

 

 

Interactive Tools Typical Use
Email newsletterDelivered via email, this newsletter will provide answers to questions and links to sites that should help prospects. To gain information and ask questions.

 

Once you’ve generated a list of potential tools & literature, figure out exactly what each piece should accomplish. Then determine the:

  • Literature & tools you need
  • Singular objective of the piece (each piece of literature or each tool should be designed to meet a very specific objective)
  • Step in the sales process where it should be delivered

Here is my list of sales tools

Sales Tools

  • Brochures
  • Corporate overview
  • Press Kit
  • Testimonials
  • Case Studies
  • Style Guide and visual library
  • Business cards
  • Proposal Letter
  • Quote template
  • Packaging of proposal – Folder
  • Competitive report
  • Gartner report
  • Industry stats
  • Project sheets
  • Contract
  • Product information
  • Company Blog
  • Video presentation
  • Slide presentation
  • Ipad presentation
  • Pricing information
  • CRM – data management
  • and forecasting
  • Customer Feedback Survey
  • Partner list
  • Marketing Calendar
  • Value proposition
  • Segmentation and focus on VIPs
  • Thank you letter
  • Thank you Cards
  • Merchandise
  • Gifts
  • Target customer profilingProspecting Lists
  • Social Media
  • Personal Profile – good picture
  • Voicemail message
  • Recommendations (LinkedIn)
  • Car signage
  • Uniform
  • Business card
  • Entertainment allowance
  • Sales training
  • Scripts
  • Overcoming objections
  • Building Trust/ Relationships
  • Touchpoint calendar
  • Online portals
  • Screen sharing
  • Quota and commission structure
Do you have any more to add? Here are 100 content examples to download from the content institute.
If you need help creating great sales tools visit our sales tools page.

Prospect Plan. Do you have one?

By | CRM and lead generation, Sales Process, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

According to Simon from Sandler training most businesses might a financial plan and maybe a marketing plan but many don’t have a prospect’s plan. This is an issue because activity creates the opportunity for sales. Activity moves the prospect to a potential customer.

Simon explains there are several activities that classify as sales activity including ” Networking, social media, cold calling, asking for referrals, giving talks, seminars, trade shows, writing articles, posting press releases, email blasts”

Simon explains the different between competent and posses as sales professionals.

“Professionals have a plan and they execute the plan. Imposters (aka “order-takers”) wait by the phone, hoping it will ring. Some will wait by the computer, hoping the next incoming email is their ticket to riches. When asked about prospecting, they make excuses about being too busy, “putting out fires” with existing accounts. Or they say they have too much paperwork and reporting to do, or blame poor marketing materials. Order-takers are great at rationalizing poor prospecting performance.”

Simon has some good questions you should ask as a small business owner.

1.If you are a business owner or partner, how well have you done making rain?

2.If you have a sales team reporting up to you, which team members are real hunters, and which are order-takers?

3.Do you know the difference?

4.Which ones are better compensated?

5.Are changes in order?

Having a list of activities that incorporates a sales and marketing approach can improve the chances of converting prospects to customers. This plan will also help work out what approach is more successful so you can do more activities that work.  Be it cold calling, emailing, success stories or bundling offers, this planned approach is an under valued approach that can ensure that your prospects can followed up and given the information and incentive to buy.

As a small business owner how do you create activities that move potential prospects down your sales pipeline.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Do some follow up with anyone you have formed a relationship with. Send them an email with some valuable information. Phone then and ask them if they have a need for your product/ service.

2. Focus on some prospects that are likely to have a need and then offer them a taste of your product or service to move them to an interested prospect.

3. Send the interested prospect a proposal and follow up with a call.

4. Invite your prospect out for a coffee.

5. Start networking at a local event to find more prospects

Here are some other tactics from CJ Hayden from the Raintoday website.

  1. Write articles. Putting your expertise in writing and sharing it with publications your target audience reads is a powerful—and very professional—way to let more people know about your unique talents. Submit your articles to magazines, newsletters, ezines, blogs, or websites that serve your niche and watch your visibility grow. If you aren’t a strong writer, hire professional help to edit or even ghost write your compositions.
  2. Speak at conferences or events. Appearing as a speaker allows you to broadcast your expertise to three different audiences: the people who attend your talk, the people who are invited by the sponsoring organization but can’t attend, and the people you tell about it before and after. If standing in front of a room makes you too nervous, serve on a panel of experts instead. You’ll get to sit behind a table and speak from notes.
  3. Do media interviews. Being interviewed for magazines, newspapers, blogs, radio stations, or television programs can spread the word quickly about your capabilities. Landing interviews is not that hard to do if you remember to start small. Begin by approaching easy targets like association newsletters, neighborhood newspapers, lesser-known bloggers, or local cable programs and talk radio.
  4. Tell stories. One of the secrets to effective articles, talks, and interviews is to tell stories about your clients. When you describe your clients’ challenges and accomplishments, you reveal the value of your role in helping them without having to boast about it. You can use the same technique in sales presentations to prospective clients to boost your credibility without appearing arrogant.
  5. Ask for and use testimonials. Whenever you do a good job for a client, ask them to write a simple thank you note describing what you did to make them happy. Then make their kudos available on your website, brochure, or other marketing materials. Let your clients tell others about your brilliance, and you won’t have to say it yourself.
  6. Build a portfolio. Artists and writers aren’t the only ones who should capture their best work in a portfolio. You can collect photos, graphs, spreadsheets, reports, project schedules, program outlines, and other evidence of your accomplishments and display them on your website, in a marketing kit, or in a PowerPoint presentation. You don’t have to sell people on your abilities when they see for themselves what you can do.
  7. Create products. Packaging your work into merchandise that prospective clients can take home and sample gives them a compelling way to discover your real value. Products like ebooks, audio recordings, and home study courses allow you to showcase your expertise and increase your credibility. They can often be advertised more widely than your services, giving you yet another avenue for getting your name known.

If 2% of the sales happen at the first meeting, what happens to that other 98%!

By | customer centric marketing, Marketing Automated Technology, Sales Process, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

“2% of sales occur at the first meeting; the other 98% will only happen once a certain level of trust has been established“.

Trust ladderThere has never been a better reason for follow up than

that quote from Robert Clays research.

People in business often hope and expect to do business the first time they meet a prospect. Yet studies reveal that only 2% of sales occur when two parties meet for the first time. This actually makes sense when you think logically about it. The higher the time and dollar value of the investment the greater perceived risk from the buyer’s perspective. So what happens after that first call or meeting?

A recent study in the Harvard Business Review** found that companies take, on average, 42 hours to contact a web lead, and that 23% of companies did not respond at all. Furthermore, they found that leads that got a response in the first hour were seven times more likely to make contact with the decision maker. What is going on? Why aren’t we following up?

Stale-Leads

1. Number of people who buy on the first meeting – done their homework

The 2% who buy at a first meeting tend to be people who have already looked into the subject matter, and already know what they’re looking for. If they meet someone who ticks all the right boxes and they get on well, then business may well be transacted. But that is far from the norm. The other 98% will only buy once a certain level of trust has been built up.” So of those 2% are well informed and have done their homework and are likely to be troubled enough about their problem (thanks Hugh – Leaky Funnel) to want to solve it, if they find something that will fix it.

2. Salesforce should be well-informed

“Anyone who believes they can go into a sales situation armed with “101 sure fire sales closes” and make sales is seriously misinformed … and about 20 years behind the times. Professional sales people get to know their prospects; understand their issues; solve their prospect’s problems; and provide irrefutable proof. They build relationships and trust by engaging in on-going dialogue (otherwise known as follow-up). They don’t just peddle their products and services with an armoury of closing tricks.” These days doing your homework has never been easier. In a B2B sale you can use google, LinkedIn to research at a company and a personal level. At a B2C level you can ask open questions to uncover their need and if you have a database keep a record of their likes and purchases to communicate with them about other purchases they might like to consider in the future. (Amazon model).

4. Why we don’t buy

follow up

There are many reasons why people who could benefit from your product, service or expertise do not buy. At least not without further prodding. Inertia. Lack of time. Too many other things on their mind. Concern about cost. Cashflow. Budget constraints. More pressing matters. Your failure to do enough marketing to establish your name in your field so they’ll buy without question … and more. None of the these, by the way, is a negative. They are just psychological and transactional realities you must become aware of and recognise … which is why follow-ups are SO important. You really have to create a reason for prospects to consider you. Given that we know that our buyers are out there researching sometimes it is providing a helping hand to assist them in their research, education and sometimes it is just being there at the right time in the right place (where they are) using email, social media and collaboration marketing efforts.

5. Follow up just not done

Yet isn’t it amazing how often you express interest in a product or service, but never hear from the person or company again? It happens all the time. I actually say I am busy when a telesales person calls but invite them to ring me back and very rarely do they. Research shows, amazingly, that only 20% of sales leads are ever followed up … in other words 80% of potential opportunities are lost without trace simply due to lack of follow-up

People and companies who don’t

F1103B_A

follow-up; who do nothing to build up that trust and relationship cannot succeed, especially in today’s tough economic climate. People need to be sure they’re making the right decision before they commit to a purchase.

6.Tenacity pays off…

According to Clay, different studies carried out at different times, in different places, by different market research companies over a number of years all reveal that 80% of non-routine sales occur only after at least five follow-ups.

Think about that. It takes at least five continuous follow up efforts after the initial sales contact, before a customer says yes.  FIVE!!

There are some fascinating statistics on this:

  • 44% of sales people give up after one “no”
  • 22% give up after two “no’s”
  • 14% give up after three “no’s”
  • 12% give up after four “no’s”

That tells you that 92% of sales people give up after 4 “no’s”, and only 8% of sales people ask for the order a fifth time.

When you consider that 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes”, the inference is that 8% of sales people are getting 80% of the sales! Thus it pays to be persistent and consistent. Remember it is all about catching them at the right time.

OffersIntroduce a five “no’s” follow-up strategy

Once you’re aware of these statistics you should stack the odds in your favour by introducing a “Five no’s” strategy, where you maintain contact with prospects until each one of them has said “no”, or “not now”, or “not yet” … at least five times. Every time you’re in contact you have an opportunity to advance and build the relationship.

Businesses with a “five no’s” strategy will always enjoy a conversion rate many times higher than their competitors who have no such strategy.  What strategies do you have in your business right now to ensure that you contact your prospects regularly in a gentle and meaningful way so that you win their business and their loyalty?

8.Seventy-eight percent of consumers say that they only buy from businesses that make it easy for them to deal with, and a third believe convenience is more important than price.They are at the heart of Customer Experience Management (CEM) and staffed by specialists that are charged with providing the best experience throughout the transaction or journey and ultimately, achieving a tangible ROI. As this transformation has evolved, technology has played an increasingly critical role in linking businesses to their customers. However at the end of the day it is all about how you feel during the sales and after sales process. I once bought a car and because the car dealership did not treat me like the person who was making the economic decision to purchase both my and my husband’s car they lost the deal. I now get my car serviced not by the dealer because they made it too hard for me to get in and get out of the service process quickly.
Read more
9. Acknowledge the Impact of Experience
One bad experience might not send your customer fleeing to a competitor. But then again, it might.  On an internal, process level, bt-autonomous-2take a close look at what keeps your business running every day. If these processes aren’t managed efficiently, they’re costing you time, money, accuracy—and customers. Are there repetitive tasks (inventory checks, transaction reconciliation) that you could automate? If so, moving towards automated processes would save staff time and provide better, faster customer service. However be aware that people like to be empowered but not treated like robots. To actually speak to someone on the phone when doing a service call for a product is a competitive advantage these days.
Read more 

10.“Top of Mind Awareness”

There’s also the fact that 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least 3 months … and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.

Contacting your prospective and existing customers every 1 month or sooner builds trust and professionalism and keeps “top of mind” awareness.  In this context, your customers do not regard contact for orders, payments and appointments, or the obligatory Christmas card as a meaningful communication. It is important to have an integrated sales and marketing campaign. We are ready when you are.

 

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