Archive Monthly Archives: May 2010

A Customer Is

Here is a classic quote, if you are serious about selling make certain you understand it.

A customer is…
The most important person ever to enter your outlet.

A customer is…
Not dependent on us, we are dependent on him.

A customer is…
Not interruption of our work, he is the purpose of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him, he is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity of doing so.

A customer is …
Not an outsider to our business, he is part of it.

A customer is….
Not a cold statistic, he is a flesh and blood human being, with feelings and emotions like your own, and with biases and prejudices.

A customer is…
A person who brings us his wants. It is our job to handle them profitably to him, and to ourselves.

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How to Generate Word of Mouth Leads

Let me ask you a simple question – do you want your customers to say positive things about your business to other people? I bet you do, because as we all know “word of mouth” is one of the most effective and low cost ways to find new customers. And the most effective way to generate “word of mouth” is to provide extraordinary customer service.

Remember – the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just that little bit “extra.” So what is that little bit extra?

I recently decided that I needed a new pair of training shoes. I was suffering from sore calves after exercising and put it down to the state of my shoes. (And before you say anything, there’s no way I’m putting it down to old age).

A visit to a local sports shoe store resulted in me walking up and down the length of the store in my bare feet with my suit trousers rolled up to the knee. Two sales assistants were sitting on the floor watching my progress.

After much discussion between us they recommended two pairs of shoes that I should try. New shoes were purchased; no more sore calves and I told you it wasn’t old age.

These sales assistants provided that little bit “extra.” They made me feel important, they were warm and friendly, they responded to what I had to say and they listened to my complaints about my aching muscles. I’ve now recommended that sports shoe shop to several people.

Research tells us that customers want two basic things from a supplier: –

Firstly, they want quality core service. – In other words, they expect your product or service to work, to do what you say it’ll do. (However, do this alone and you’ll only provide “ordinary” service).

Secondly, they want friendly caring service. – They want to be acknowledged, to feel that someone is interested in them as an individual and that they’re cared about. (This is what provides that little bit “extra”).

Here are Six Steps to add that little bit extra and generate word of mouth:

1. First impressions are vital – It therefore makes good sense to consider what you look like and sound like. In a face to face situation it’s important to make eye contact and smile. On the telephone, it’s not what you say as an initial greeting that matters, but more important how you say it.

2. Warm and friendly – This is what most people want and it makes your life easier too.

3. Use names appropriately – A person name is one of the warmest sounds they hear. It says that you have recognised them as an individual.

4. Respond – If a customer says something, the intention was for you to hear it. And if you hear it, it’s a good idea to acknowledge it.

5. Actively listen – When you think about it, most people aren’t very good listeners. We’d all rather be talking. You have to work hard at listening particularly if you want to let the other person know that you care. Many people listen but don’t show that they’re listening. You’ve got to do all the nodding head stuff and look like you’re interested. And remember over the phone; occasionally make some indication that you’re still there.

6. Close positively – At the end of an interaction it’s a good idea to make a positive statement on a business level and a personal level. Say something like – “If you have any further problems then please phone me on this number and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your holiday next week”.

Make no mistake about it, providing friendly caring service creates that little bit extra and generates word of mouth for your business

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Wholesale Selling Tips

On line selling has now become huge. This is a slight deviation from the usual theme of this site but I found this video about Wholesale Selling and thought it was worth a share.

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Retail Sales: Acknowledge Potential Customers in Retail Selling

Wal-Mart may conger up some images for you, yet one thing Wal-Mart does is to have a Greeter to make people feel welcome. Even the old K-Mart use to announces “Welcome K-Mart shoppers.”  Unfortunately, after the Greeting or the welcome message, you get lost in the sea of people and merchandise and it’s next to impossible to find someone to show you where to find what you’re looking for, because they’re too busy stocking shelves.

So always greet your customers.  If all your people are busy with other customers, someone should at least acknowledge the new entrant.  Even the post office gives you a number.  Don’t ignore them or make them feel like an intruder.  Let them know how long the wait will be and point them to a sitting area where they can peruse or sit with a bottle of water, look at a video promo or experience pleasantness.  This is a good captive advertising moment.  If your facility is big with lots to see, have a map with a numbered walking tour.

Burn this into your staff’s heads.  People are coming into your establishment for ideas and/or to buy. Both are good for your business.  The better the experience the more they will buy and buy and buy.

Lose “Can I help you?”

It’s like asking the Pope, “Are you Catholic?”  As I said above, people come into your place of business for a reason.  Of course you can help them.  However, to do this your front-line people have to: (1) Make them comfortable; (2) Find out why they came in (their motivation); and (3) Find out what their perfect something looks like, that they are willing to spend and spend and spend on.

Now let’s wrap this up.  Make your customer have a wonderful experience in your Center.  To do this you will have to first convince yourself that it’s all about the customer.  I’m not saying to succumb to abusive people that give no energy and waste your time.  I am saying, however, if they are a motivated buyer and they have a pleasant experience, they may buy a lot more than they originally intended and they will tell their friends how great it was.

Second, show your employees what to do.  Don’t think for one minute they should know what to do, or that you will insult their intelligence by spelling it out.  This is your Center, and it should be done your way.  They don’t know your way unless you tell them, and it’s your responsibility to tell them explicitly.  Otherwise, they won’t succeed.  You’ll get upset and the demotivating cycle will begin.

Finally, you have to monitor and give feedback.  Look for the positives. “That part of what you did was good.”  Don’t tell what was done wrong, but rather how to do it better the next time.  “In the future, try doing this or that.”  Realize, you cannot just instruct and turn your employees loose.  Until there is recognition, reinforcement and reward, the behaviors you desire will not happen.  So, to insure success make your business establishment a pleasant experience.

And now I invite you to learn more by reading other posts on this blog.

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The Benefits of Marketing Vs. Selling

Have you taken the time to look at the Big Picture?

Too many Network Marketing business owners spend so much time getting lost in all the details that they never seem to figure out how to actually build their mlm business. Do you want to build a MLM empire? Then pay attention to the big picture, especially while working on all of the little details of your business.

What is the Big Picture?

The Big Picture is your Marketing Plan.  Selling is just one piece of the bigger picture. Selling could be actually talking to a prospect or it could be a sales letter making that communication for you. Either way it is just one of the tools that you use in your marketing toolkit.

Selling should not be your primary focus.

“What? Are you crazy, Jeff? I’m in business to make money. How am I supposed to do that without selling?”

I didn’t say not to use selling. I just said you should use selling to help you execute your marketing plan. Most MLMers think marketing and selling are the same thing. That line of thought will limit your ability to grow your business.

Let’s take a step back here and first define just what marketing is…

MARKETING is getting the right MESSAGE about your product or service to the right TARGET NICHE (or audience) through the right MEDIA.

From this definition you can begin to design your Big Picture Marketing Plan. Follow this simple definition of marketing and you will find success. Forget what marketing really means and you will your business will suffer.

Attention: Don’t get lost in the details as you drill down into this definition of marketing. The biggest place I see small business owners having trouble with this is when they start to drill down on the media piece. The Internet is a perfect example.

A lot of MLM business owners think they are in an Internet Marketing Business. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Internet is just a media to be used to reach your customers. Is it the right media? That depends on your customer base. But when you get lost in the details of the Internet, and anyone can do that, you lose sight of why you’re in business in the first place… to serve your customers.

There are so many little details involved with “doing business on the Internet” (ie, using the Internet as a media to reach you prospects or customers) that most home business owners forget what happened with the dot com bust.

Don’t remember what happened to cause the dot coms to fail? It’s because they spent way too much money on technology for technology sake. They didn’t ask the question “does this technology help us deliver our message to our target audience via the right media?” They didn’t even ask “does this technology help us serve our customers better?”

They got lost in the details of technology. They wasted money on stuff because they thought it was cool. They put the media before the Marketing Plan.

Don’t get caught making the same mistake.

So who wins? Marketing wins every time. Selling helps you with the message but selling is just one piece of the puzzle. Once you’ve figured out what your overall Marketing Plan is then get to work on all the details that will help you achieve your goal.

Never lose site of how you are going to build your Network Marketing empire…

By getting the right MESSAGE to the right TARGETED NICHE via the right MEDIA.

Follow this simple plan and I’ll see you at the top.

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Effective Time Management Tips For Salespeople

Getting a salesman to plan his time is regarded by many sales executives as the one of the major problem in sales management. Why is time management and planning so important for sales? The answer lies in today’s rising costs, in the midst of hot competition and the obvious decline in the face-to-face selling time.

Setting a time budget :

Setting a time budget is a task that requires joint effort by the management and the salesmen. The sales manager and his field managers are accountable for a salesman’s productivity, so they have the responsibility of ensuring that the salesmen manage their time well. At the same time, it is also the duty of the salesman must also plan his time wisely.

Since it is not possible for a salesman to be under constant supervision, he has to be independent and flexible. A sales person’s day is rarely ever routine, for instance, one customer may keep him waiting in the reception room longer than expected or may cancel the appointment after the salesman has arrived at his office, or spend a half hour airing complaints.

All time management does is, create a proper environment for the sales man to utilize his time well. It is designed to get him face-to-face with as many prospects and customers as possible. This does not mean he will work harder; but only that he will work smarter.

The ability to plan well is a big asset to any sales person and it is essential for a successful salesman to also be a good manager, in order to manage himself, his home, his job and a segment of a sales territory.

Controlling a time budget :

The first step in controlling a time budget is the periodic analysis of the call-reports and time charts. The salesman should get a copy of this analysis to help him improve time management skills. Call reports are to be routinely scanned and filed, too many call-reports, however don’t serve any real purpose.

The first thing a sales manager should teach his sales men about effective time management is the appropriate hours to make sales calls and whether a prospective customer should be dealt with over the phone or face to face. This basic knowledge could save a sales man a lot of time and resources.

Some companies use their marketing service staff to assist the regional and branch managers in directing salesmen to manage their time more efficiently. Some others grant clerical help in field offices to reduce the amount of paper work. Many firms provide audio-visual equipment to create more persuasive sales presentations to make the most of the precious three or four hours of face to face interviews with potential customers each day.

The amount of time a salesman delegates for travel and work depends on various factors such as the management’s knowledge of the sales territory, the present and prospective accounts, traffic conditions, etc. All of the salesman’s plans must be flexible because the workload and territorial boundaries may very from time to time. Managers cannot afford to work entirely at their desks, using control maps, it is important that they get into the territory, not only to make logical alterations but also to bolster the salesman’s morale and to make sure he values the plans that he is expected to follow.

The way in which a salesperson should plan his time is not too different from how people from other professions should manage theirs. It is only a matter of priority, since certain tasks are best accomplished within a particular time period than others. It is therefore essential that salesmen be sold on the need to plan well.

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Asking Questions At Job Interviews – List Of Questions To Ask

As a job-seeker, you might have browsed the Internet or scanned the employment section of the local newspapers. If you have already applied for a number of jobs, you will be expecting a call for an interview. If you haven’t received a call for an interview yet, there is no cause for worry; you will get one soon.

Waiting to get a call for an interview is the most stressful part of job seeking for many people. Others feel nervous about the process of the interview. The best thing you can do if you are worried about attending an interview is to prepare for it.

1. Prepare a Set of Questions

Many job seekers will consider the idea of preparing a set of queries to ask a prospective employer a preposterous one. After all, you are attending an interview to answer questions; not ask any.

The truth is that any question you ask will lend an interactive quality to the interview; in other words, the interview “flows” better. Moreover, you will be eager to know certain things, and prospective employers don’t always volunteer information.

Prospective employers will also get a good opinion of you if you are enterprising enough to ask a few good questions. For example, asking about the potential for development in the company will give an impression of yourself as a responsible, enthusiastic person, eager to take initiative.

2. Type of Questions to Ask

You now know how beneficial it is to ask questions when you are attending a job interview; so, you many wonder exactly what type of questions you have to ask. It all depends on what you want to know.

Among the simplest questions you could ask is one related to this job profile. You will be eager to know as much as possible about the job you are trying to get. Naturally, you will be given an overall idea of the job, but you will still have many questions. For example, you might want to know about the peak hours of the day, whether there is a chance of the workload rising with time, and so on.

3. The Trickiest Question

Anyone will want to know how much they can earn in a particular company. However, not all employers appreciate the question; so, you have to be careful while you phrase it. While some employers welcome the question, others will get the wrong impression that you are interested only in the paycheck.

However, you have the right to know about the salary, and if nothing is mentioned about it during the interview, you may wish to find out about it. When you ask, frame your question wisely. Do not use the words “paycheck,” “money,” or even “pay.” The words “average salary” sounds more professional; so, make sure you use it. When you find out about the “average salary,” you can also put in a few questions about employee benefits such as vacations, perks, childcare, and insurance.

4. Other Interesting Questions

If you are interested in developing your career, you will have to question your prospective employer if there is a chance for promotion. If you want a raise not only in salary but also in position, you will have to gain employment in a company that promotes its employees on the basis of merit. This will also help you determine if the company can provide you long-term employment.

In addition, it will create the impression that you are interested in enhancing your career within that particular company. Most employers like it when prospective employees question them about advancements and promotions. It indicates that you are aiming at growth and success.

The above-mentioned list comprises only some of the questions you might want to ask a prospective employer. In order to impress your prospective employer, you will have to prepare some good questions in advance. Review your list a short time before you go in for your interview.

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The Dna Selling Method

On February 28, 1953, Francis Crick walked into the Eagle pub in Cambridge, England, and announced that he and James Watson had “found the secret of life.” In just a few weeks of frenzied inspiration, the two men made one of the most profound discoveries in history by building a model of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that demonstrated how the very structure of DNA provides one of life’s most essential features: the storage and transmission of genetic code. The men had solved a problem that had been baffling the scientific community for years—how did the DNA molecule make exact copies of itself? Biochemists already knew that DNA contained a biological code, a genetic language that consists of four types of molecules, known as bases—adenine, cytosine, thymine, and guanine—referred to as A, C, G, and T, but how those molecules made exact replicas of each other was still a mystery. Back in the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, Watson and Crick concentrated on identifying the form of DNA rather than its function. They built model after model of the possible structure of DNA until on March 7, 1953, when they discovered the solution: DNA has a double helix shaped like a spiral staircase with the four bases representing the steps. Their model suggested a mechanism by which DNA could make copies of itself. The two strands of genes that made up the DNA molecule can simply unzip or unravel into reverse images of each other that can act as templates for new strands to build on. The genius of DNA is that its form is its function. Its shockingly simplistic double helix structure allows the molecules to make facsimiles of themselves, and because the bases always bond in the exact sequence, the finished copies are always the same. The concept was stunning in its implications. Using the scientific method, Watson and Crick made the most celebrated discovery of the twentieth century. The double helix now stands as an icon of the scientific understanding of life.

The Science of Selling

The same way DNA consists of the building blocks of life, The DNA Selling Method consists of the building blocks of effective selling. Similar in concept to DNA, The DNA Selling Method is a selling language—a code of questions. It is a process of discovery—a questioning framework whose form is its function.

Like most sales professionals, I learned early in my career that selling was more of a science than an art. I learned that asking the right questions was more important than looking for the right answers; however, knowing the importance of asking the right questions was not enough. My questions seemed random and, at times, even uncomfortable. Asking questions “off the top of my head” was sporadic and ineffective. This unorganized approach quite often left me tongue-tied and unable to communicate effectively. I needed a system—a questioning methodology. I needed a process that was easy to understand, easy to remember, and easy to replicate from one sale to the next. I decided to write down a series of questions that I deemed important to making sales. I then organized the questions into categories. For example, I separated qualification questions from questions that identified client needs. I differentiated need related questions from solution related questions. The result was The DNA Selling Method—a questioning methodology that leads buyers through the sales cycle.

The DNA Selling Method is based on the premise that correct principles of selling have not changed. They have remained unaltered for thousands of years. If we were to view an ancient Persian craftsman selling goods or services to a Greek merchant, his selling skills would be similar, if not exact, to the skills and tactics of a salesperson today. Selling practices may have changed. But correct principles of selling have not.

Like a compass or atomic clock—sellers need to adjust their selling behaviors to reflect accurate and effective selling principles. And the most fundamental—and most universally recognized principle of successful selling—is asking effective questions. The point is that salespeople do not need to invent new selling principles. They simply need to discover them. And that is what The DNA Selling Method does. It helps sales professionals recognize and implement ancient, validated, intelligent selling principles.

The DNA Selling Method is a question-based approach to selling that follows a rational probing sequence and provides sellers with a systematic approach to qualifying accounts and closing sales. Like the four bases of DNA, The DNA Selling Method consists of four probing categories that guide buyers and sellers through the purchasing process:

1. Discovery-Qualification Questions: Questions that discover a buyer’s existing circumstance, account facts, qualification factors, and purchasing capabilities.

2. Need-Problem Questions: Questions that identify a buyer’s needs, problems, and primary buying motives.

3. Ascertain-Pain Questions: Questions that ascertain the negative consequences of unfulfilled needs and/or unresolved problems, i.e., the pain.

4. Solution-Benefit Questions: Questions that focus on the benefits of implementing the proposed solution.

Asking good questions is the cornerstone of any good sales strategy and is a skill that separates elite sales professionals from average sales representatives. Questions divulge information, uncover problems to solve, and equip sellers with information that can be used to deliver account-specific presentations that address the exact needs of buyers.

Think about what separates a good doctor from a bad doctor. Good doctors do not initially worry about getting the right answers. They concentrate on asking the right questions. They make intelligent inquiries, take notes, make observations, and listen. They initially gather information—they don’t provide it. Likewise, great sellers do not initially focus on providing information. They focus on acquiring it. Look at the most brilliant thinkers, innovators, and explorers of our time. They emphasized questions more than answers, a characteristic of highly intelligent individuals. Note the root of the word question is “quest”—the act of seeking or pursuing something, a search beyond that which is already known.

The DNA Selling Method is a logical questioning methodology that helps sales people on their “quest” for information. It is a selling approach that guides sellers through the sales cycle. By asking discovery questions, sellers acquire the information needed to make informed proposals. By asking qualifying questions, sellers spend time and attention on buyers with the greatest purchasing potential. By asking need-problem questions, sellers unearth primary buying motives. By asking ascertain-pain questions, sellers identify the negative consequence of not filling a need or solving a problem. And by asking solution-benefit questions, sellers get buyers to articulate the benefits of the proposed solution.

Self-interest is the catalyst that moves people to act. By asking DNAS questions sales people focus on the interests of the buyer. They ask questions that are customer centric instead of product centric. Common sense? Of course. Common practice? Unfortunately, it’s not.

Because questioning is such a fundamental part of successful selling, it’s important to use an effective questioning methodology—a strategy. By using The DNA Selling Method, sellers add structure, repeatability, and predictability to the questioning, presenting, and selling process. By implementing the DNA Selling Methodology sales people utilize a proven sales methodology that reflects validated selling principles

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Take Your Sales Team from Good to Great with Sales Management Training

I recently reread Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t and found that many of his ideas can help you improve performance of your sales team.

Collins’ book answers the question: How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? Using tough standards, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of “comparison” companies that failed to make the leap from good to great.

Over five years and 15,000 hours of research, Collins and his team deduced the key determinants of greatness – why some companies make the leap and others don’t. Here are a few of their findings and what, I think, Collins’ findings mean to you and the development of your team.

Good is the enemy of great

Some sales teams will never be great because their sales managers settle for being good. It’s easier than being great. We have also found that a lot of sales manager do not send their salespeople to any sales seminars.

First Who… then What

Collins expected to find that Good to Great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. What their research discovered, however, was that the best leaders first got the right people on the team, de-hired the wrong people, and got everyone in their optimal position… and then decided what the vision and strategy was. The saying, “People are your most important asset” is incorrect. It should be changed to, “The right people are your most important asset.” Then, put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.

Application questions: Is there anybody on your team who shouldn’t be? Do you have any team members in a less-than-optimal position, a person whose skills are not being fully utilized? What, and when will you rectify these situations?

Confront the brutal facts, but never lose faith

One of the most important findings from Collins’ research is that breakthrough results come about by a series of good decisions, diligently executed and accumulated one on top of the other. You don’t need to be perfect, but to be great you do need to make many more good decisions than bad ones. And good decision-making requires accurate information, which can be difficult to obtain. Collins writes:

Indeed, for those of you with a strong, charismatic personality, it is worthwhile to consider the idea that charisma can be as much a liability as an asset. Your strength of personality can sow the seeds of problems, when people filter the brutal facts from you.

Winston Churchill understood the liabilities of his strong personality. He was concerned that he wouldn’t get accurate information from his subordinates, so, during the darkest days of World War II, he founded the “Statistical Office”, a separate department outside the command structure that fed him the most accurate, indeed brutal, facts of the war. Churchill also possessed the second requirement of greatness — an unwavering faith that Britain would survive and thrive, even when things looked so bleak.

Application questions: What’s one great dream you would dare to dream (for your team) if you knew you could not fail?

Your “Stop doing” list is more important than your “To do” list.

Many sales managers lead busy lives, accomplishing task after task after task. Interestingly, the leaders studied in “Good to Great” companies made as much use of “stop doing” lists as “to do” lists. They continually asked themselves:

What can we do better than anyone else? What type of opportunities are we passionate about? And, what segment of customers allows us to make the most profit?

Good to Great leaders instilled the culture of discipline – by teaching their team where to focus, and what to ignore.

Application questions: What opportunities, or customer segments, can your team make a compelling case of being the best choice? Which of these opportunities are most profitable, and why? Finally, what can you become passionate about?

Is your team brilliant on the basics? If not, you may be losing sales you should be winning. At TopLine Leadership, we help salespeople re-focus on the fundamentals of effective salesmanship, and sales managers to master the basics of management / leadership. We can help you and your sales team with these concepts with our sales management training seminars and coaching.

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