Why are salespeople afraid to close?

Closing a sale is actually a very simple process. Really? The reality is that if you have done your homework and followed the six steps in the sales process, then number six should happen naturally. So why do so many sales not materialize? Believe it or not, more than half of possible sales do not close because the salesperson does not ask for the order. I once worked with a salesperson who had a pending file bigger than his office. He was afraid to hear a no from a client and unfortunately couldn’t get a yes. Another reason that sales do not close is that the salesperson does not take the time to discover a need, opportunity or want. They rush to the close without determining whether or not their product or service can actually benefit the buyer. And sometimes a sale does not close because all of the decision makers or partners are not present at the time. It’s better to delay a presentation until all partners can be present than to present to only one. Your enthusiasm and knowledge will be excluded and the only determining factor to purchase will be price. If your product or service will benefit the buyer, then you have a professional obligation to close the sale. Don’t be afraid that your assertiveness will be perceived as being pushy. Buyers appreciate the effort you put into asking for the order. And if the answer is not yes, then you will uncover the objection that is stopping them from moving forward. Welcome objections as they are part of the sales process. There is no magic to closing; it’s simply asking for the order when you are pretty sure they will say yes. And remember, once you leave without the order, many variables may occur in the interim that may prevent the prospect from saying yes. Just do it.

Stop talking and start selling

The perception that you have to be a big talker to be successful in sales is so far from the truth. The stereotype of the used car salesperson talking a consumer into buying a car is prevalent in society and has demeaned the reality of professional sales. Sales is simply about finding a need, opportunity or want and then fulfilling it. According to the One Minute Salesperson, the essence of sales is helping people get the good feelings about what they bought and about themselves. So how do we discover what people want? By asking questions and then listening intently. Too many salespeople set up a client meeting and then launch into the features of the product and the price without ascertaining whether or not it will benefit the buyer. Our sales team sets up an initial customer needs analysis where we learn about the prospects objectives, competition, marketing strategy, customer profile and then we go back to the office and do our homework. One of our prospects mentioned this week that we were the only company in the media that actually took this approach. Surprising. If I pick up the phone and call a car dealer and ask for the price of a car, there is no simple answer. The car salesperson needs to know my budget, my space requirements, the options that are important to me, the terms of payment and so on. So the reality is that the more you talk, the less you learn. On your first client meeting, don’t talk about your product and its features; talk about the prospect and their needs. It’s never about you and always about them. And it’s never about features and always about benefits. I have never bought a new car because of the gas mileage or the technical specifications. I have bought a new car because it looked good and felt good to drive. So stop talking and start selling.

Stop sending emails

Did you know that communication effectiveness has very little to do with the words you say and is based on tone of voice and body language?
So why do salespeople continue to send email pitches to prospects instead of picking up the phone in order to set up an appointment?
Because it’s easy and we all do it. But does it really make any sense?
Most emails that I receive are spam and never even get opened; they are deleted immediately. So you certainly cannot start a new business relationship in that fashion. Stop sending emails and pick up the phone. At least during the course of a conversation, your tone of voice can help the overall effectiveness by adding a second dimension to the words being said. I can read the same opening line in two completely different ways and elicit two completely different reactions. Make sure that your voice is strong, positive, and energetic and smile while you are talking. If you ever sit in on a radio production, you will notice the announcer smiling as they read a script. The only purpose of the call is to make an appointment. Nothing else. State who you are, who you represent, the purpose of the call and the benefit to the prospect. And then ask for the appointment. It’s amazing how many calls I receive that completely miss the mark. One salesperson called and began by asking me how I was doing and proceeded to say that it was a lovely day. You can imagine how that call ended. Once you have an appointment, you can bring all of the components of effective communication together and increase the odds of making a sale substantially. And if you can’t get the prospect on the phone, drop in when you are in the area – cold calls around warm calls. Your positive presence will be tough to ignore and you have an opportunity to make a solid impact on the prospect.
So stop sending emails in the bleak hopes of making a sale – it’s just like trying to fire at a target blindfolded.

Advertising in three easy steps

After spending a week presenting an advertising seminar to local business owners, I discovered, or should I say rediscovered the three simple elements to successful advertising.

1. The Why Factor – what makes your product or service different from your competitors. And not just the standard cliches like price, service, quality or location; but something more powerful. Roy Williams, an American advertising guru came up with a brilliant campaign for a jewellery store entitled the Yes promise. If a young man purchased an engagement ring for his bride to be and she turned him down the store would take back the ring and issue a full refund.

2. Emotions – consumers buy based on feelings and emotions, not logic and reason. So why take a logical approach to an ad by offering a discount. Appeal to their emotions. The jewellery store also mentioned that they would not only refund the money for the ring if the girl turned him down, but that they would also put their arm around the young man.

3. Patience – advertising is like dropping feathers on a scale over the long term. After a while consumers become aware of your offerings and will shop your business when they are in the market for what you are selling. Don’t buy sporadic short term campaigns because the long term advertisers have a distinct advantage.

Remember these three keys to advertising and your campaign will deliver positive results.

For more information, email me at tim@storefrontmedia.ca

Three keys to advertising success

Advertising success in three words

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After 30+ years in the advertising business, I have finally discovered the three keys to success – the message, the frequency and the medium. And they are listed in order of importance. Let’s start with the message. A good ad is about the listener or reader and a bad as is about the advertiser. Always remember this simple concept when you are creating ads. Talk less about your business features and more about the benefits to the end user. Solve a problem that is keeping people up at night. Or simply help make their lives easier by protecting them, eliminating stress or giving them peace of mind. Next is the frequency. You can’t start a training program and expect to be in shape in a week or two. You need to repeat your exercise program often and combine it with healthy eating habits. Advertising doesn’t work with a single message or two. You must constantly be front and center with high frequency, on the radio for example, and for a reasonable amount or time. Finally, the medium. All advetising vehicles work when you have compelling creative and a lot of frequency. The medium is the third most important part of the puzzle. The smallest newspaper or radio statiob will deliver results with a proper message. So conside this simple three word concept when you advertise.

What I learned in sales this week

As part of a continuing blog on real life sales experiences, following are several key lessons learned this week . . .

1. Price becomes irrelevant when you have the right idea. If a prospect maintains that your prices are too high, you simply haven’t established value in your product or service. In presenting an advertising campaign to a professional business category, the idea was exactly what the prospect wanted so the price tag was the easy part of the sale.
2. Maintain regular contact with clients. On a regular basis, contact the client and offer new creative ideas, new research on their respective business category, or simply a coffee or lunch. The key to a successful long term business relationship is constant communication. A client will only change suppliers if something goes wrong and by staying in touch, you can prevent that from happening or fix a problem and strengthen your connectivty.
3. It takes the same effort to make a $ 5000 sale or a $ 50,000 sale. Target prospects that have the ability to be long term clients. Sometimes the smaller clients can create bigger problems regarding payment or a long term vision.
4. Integrity. Make sure that you are completely honest with prospects and do not make promises that you cannot keep. If you say you are going to do something, make sure that you do. I once purchased several high end dress shirts and was impressed when the salesperson told me that he would call me in a couple of days to make sure I was happy with my purchase. Howwever, when he did not call back, I was disappointed and did not buy again from that particular merchant.
5. Consider the long term value of a new customer. If a marketing campaign can garner new customers, they are worth more than just the initial purchase due to the fact that they may become long term customers. Also, make certain to target a younger demographic in the age of acquisition. They can become long term customers of banks, automotive dealerships, and beer. The average 50 something already has solid brand loyalty, whereas, a 25 year old is in the process of developing brand loyalty.

For more information, contact me at tim@storefrontmedia.ca

Funeral and cemetery advertising made simple

Creating compelling advertising for the funeral and cemetery profession can be a daunting task. What do we talk about? How do we approach the subject without making consumers feel uncomfortable? What media makes the most sense? Let’s make the process simple – here are the steps that you need to take in order to create compelling ads that will garner attention and deliver results on the radio.
1. Brainstorm with your team and dig deep to find your unique selling proposition. What does your funeral home or cemetery do that no one else does?
2. Utilize one of your employees to record the commercial – someone with a genuine sound who is comfortable using their name in a commercial
3. Write a simple text which includes on opening to identify the person doing the commercial, information about what makes your company different and a clear call to action – call today or visit us online.
4. Make certain that the commercial offers benefits to consumers because ultimately a good ad is all about the listener – how you can help them solve a problem or make their lives simple.
5. Book a couple of hours in a professional recording studio in order to make sure the commercials are radio quality, 30 seconds in length, and transferable by mp3.
6. Select music that is not too sombre, not classical, but more modern and almost new age with an uptempo soft beat.

Once produced, you own quality radio commercials that can be used over several years and your message is universal on any radio station in your market. All this for less than one thousand dollars.

If your funeral home or cemetery property is interested in more information or assistance in this process, contact me today at tim@storefrontmedia.ca

What I learned in sales this week

There is only one thing that I know for sure – every new sales encounter is a learning experience and even if you have been in sales for many years, there is always something new to add to your knowledge base.

This is what I learned this week . . .

* Get in front of your prospects. It’s very easy to rely on telephone meetings or email, however, the key to a successful relationship is the personal component. Given the fact that effective communication is based on body language more than words, a face to face meeting is the key to success
* Make sure that you establish objectives with a new prospect and then deliver a product or service that will reach those objectives.In the world of advertising, if a prospect wants to dominate a category then develop a long term plan instead of a short term plan
* When a prospect says no on the phone, make an extra effort to convince them to meet. When you are in front of a prospect, you can ask questions and dig deep in order to find solutions. Tell them you only want 20 minutes of their time and if you are not able to help them, you will shake hands and not continue to try and sell them
* A good idea will always trump the price or the company making the offer. In one case, although we may not have been the optimal choice for an advertiser, he bought our creative concept and we won the business
* Offer a prospect more than just your product or service. Give them a complete solution. In other words, in advertising, offer to help them with more than just your radio station, newspaper or TV. Assist them with all their marketing options including creative and make the process seamless.

Sales effectiveness – the phone or email

As more and more of our regular daily communication is done via email, there have been increasing discussions regarding what is more effective in the world of sales. Certainly the younger demographic may be more comfortable with email as a form of communication, however, is it the best way to prospect and sell? According to a recent study, only 7.5% of media emails are actually opened. That is a scary number given the fact that your ratios are less than 1 in 10. But what about cold calling ratios? In June 2010, the Direct Marketing Association released its “2010 Response Rate Trend Report,” which said that cold calling customers yielded the highest response rate at 6.16%. So, its a dead heat, right? Well, not exactly. The difference is clear and simple. With each phone call, the sales person has the opportunity to address any objections, whereas with each email there is no chance. Email is also missing two key elements to success in prospecting – enthusiasm and urgency. An email does not create a sense of urgency nor can it convey passion and enthusiasm. It’s easier to send an email than to make a phone call, however, it is more powerful and compelling to pick up the phone and make a direct approach. At that point, email becomes a tool for follow up and continued communication.