Sales Q&A – Should I keep calling?

Call Center Woman by Michal Marcol ID-10058102Q. My boss recently decided that we must call prospects once every hour, every day, until we get a yes or no, regardless of what they say, or if it’s voicemail. What’s your opinion of this?

A. I really think there are two questions here. The first has to do with this practice – Is it a good idea to do this? The second is more personal and implied – What should you do?

Let’s deal with each of them separately.

Is it a good idea to call prospects every hour, every day, in order to get a definite yes or no?

I don’t think so, with some exceptions. If you are in the business of hard-selling to customers on a one-time only basis then there may be some value in it. If you are selling burial plots for example, your customer is going to buy it or not, and probably not come back for additional units.

In that case, the damage that you do to your reputation and the relationship with the customer may be an acceptable price to pay for those few customers who say yes just to get you off their back.

If, however, you expect to build a relationship with these customers such that you hope that they’ll buy again in the future, then I’d advise against it. It sends the message that you are so focused on your agenda – selling something – that you totally disregard the customer’s agenda, his decision-making process, his schedule, and his desire to work with a professional vendor. It makes you look desperate, which is never a good thing if you are going to engender a relationship that produces more business down the line.

Imagine how you will look if your customer had an afternoon meeting, and then spent the next day with one of his clients. He gets back to the office, listens to his voice mail, and discovers 12 messages from you. If it were me, that would be enough to decide never to do business with you again, and to regret ever giving you my phone number. I’d be thinking something like this: “What was I thinking when I talked with these people?”

Question two: What should you do?

Let’s build on this premise: Sales people are employees and they should be good employees, willing and able to following their employers’ directions. If you accept that, and I do, then it severely limits your options.

You don’t have the option, for example, to just disregard the direction. Nor do you have the option to nod yes, giving verbal ascent, and then not follow on what you said you would do.

This article is available in an expanded version. Click here to review it.

I can think of three viable options.

1. Suck it up, make the calls, suffer the irate responses, and let your boss know what kind of results you are getting from this effort. Consider it a character-building process.

2. Put together a coherent, persuasive case as to why this practice is a bad idea and try to sell your boss on changing his direction to you.

3. Take a couple of personal days off. Hope that while you are gone the other sales people will get beaten to a pulp by irate customers, and that your boss will relent in just a couple of days. At that point, you can resume your job without having to bear the brunt of the customer’s rage and your boss’ frustration.

About the author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level. You may contact Dave at Kahle Way® Sales Systems, 800-331-1287, or info@davekahle.com.

Copyright MMXIV by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make Social Media a 2-Way Conversation

How your business approaches social media can have a major impact on your marketing success. An effective strategy can attract prospective customers and generate repeat business. But ignoring social media or making a serious misstep in an interaction can inadvertently put up a “Keep Out” sign.

Read the full article on TargetMarketing.com:

TargetMarketing.com
The Secret to Marketing Success

About the author

Larry Caretsky is the president of Commence Corporation, a leading provider of CRM software and best business practices for improving sales, marketing and customer service. Caretsky is considered an expert in sales automation and has written numerous articles on the subject of CRM. These may be viewed on the company’s web site at www.commence.com.

Sales Best Practice: The science of making good first impressions

A best practice for salespeople by Dave Kahle.

Business People Shaking Hands by Ambro ID-10066194In a recent seminar, one of the sales people asked if I thought that creating relationships with people wasn’t just a natural ability. You either had it, or you didn’t.

I replied that building relationships with prospects and customers was a competency, just like planning and preparing, asking questions, making a presentation, etc. While it helps if you have some natural ability to start with, there are practices that are proven to promote rapport and relationship, and that the dedicated sales person learns these practices and develops them into habits. Anyone can learn to do a better job of building positive business relationships.

That is particularly true in one aspect of building relationships – creating a positive first impression. On many of these issues, there has evolved an understanding of a set of practices that are proven to produce certain results. Not only do we have the wisdom of all those who have gone before us, but we increasingly have research to support some of our observations.

I just read some research that looked at the behaviors of a sales person that, from the customer’s point of view, evoked a feeling of trust in them in their first impression. What were they?

1. The sales person’s appearance.

Your appearance registers first with the prospect. Look professional. Look competent. Look well-groomed. Look successful. Look confident.

2. Smile.

Some of this is not rocket science. Nothing takes the place of the impact that a warm and genuine smile has on the customer. Your mother was right.

3. The pace of your conversation.

Speak quickly, and the customer doesn’t trust you. Speak slowly and articulately, and the pace of your conversation evokes feelings of trust. Have you heard the expression “fast talking sales person?”

It’s not the purpose of this article to list all the proven practices for making a positive first impression. It is, however, the purpose to make the point that there are proven practices that anyone can learn and master. Anyone can learn to use those practices and become adept at creating positive first impressions.

That’s why the best excel at this. They understand the science of making good first impressions, and use specific techniques to get the relationship off to a good start.

To learn more about this best practice:

* Visit Pod#2: Building Positive Business Relationships in The Sales Resource Center ®.

* read How to Excel At Distributor Sales, Chapters 6 & 7.

* read First Steps to Success In Outside Sales, Chapter 6.

* read Take Your Sales Performance Up a Notch, Chapter 6.

* read some of the articles at http://www.davekahle.com/article.html

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level.

You may contact Dave at The DaCo Corporation, PO Box 523, Comstock Park, MI 49321, or dave@davekahle.com

Copyright MMXIV by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Commence Shatters Industry Standard with Departmental CRM

EATONTOWN, N.J., March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Commence Corporation, a leading provider of cloud-based CRM software for small to mid-size businesses, today announced the repackaging of their popular CRM product to better support changing customer requirements. New packages will be available starting March 15, and include CRM applications for sales, marketing, project management and customer service.

Mainstream CRM solution providers traditionally offer several editions of their product at different price points based upon company size. Each edition, commonly referred to as small business, mid-market or enterprise, offers a pre-packaged list of features determined by the CRM vendor.  “We followed this model as well,” stated Larry Caretsky, President of Commence Corporation. “We wanted to remain competitive and get all the checkmarks from people evaluating our solution against the competition, but after further industry research, we realized customers felt they were being forced into selecting a package with features they would never use, and certainly did not want to pay for. Commence Corporation is taking a leadership position in the industry by changing how we package and price our CRM solution.”

See full article:

InformationWeek

Commence Shatters Industry Standards with New Departmental Software Packages | InformationWeek News | PRNewswire

 

Sales People: Position Yourselves with Power

By Dave Kahle

His eyes were narrow and bloodshot from staying out late and partying too heavily the previous night. A two-day old stubble framed his face. He was wearing a dark colored tee-shirt, which he hadn’t tucked in, a pair of jeans, and scuffed loafers which had probably never seen shoe polish. It was the second day of my Sales Academy seminar, and this participant in the program was complaining to the group that his customers were only interested in low price.

I Had A Major Business Loss by stockimages ID-100194426

I didn’t say this, because I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of the group, but I thought it nonetheless: “Do you think your appearance and demeanor have anything to do with your customers’ reaction? Do you think that you may give them the idea that you are the lowest rung on the pricing scale? Is it possible that you have inadvertently positioned yourself as the Wal-Mart of the industry?”

I remember, as a child, having a sales person call on my family. He had an appointment to discuss a correspondence course for one of us. He drove a big Lincoln, dressed richly, spoke articulately, and carried himself with confidence. It wasn’t a coincidence that we bought his program without quibbling about the price.

These two scenarios illustrate a powerful and frequently overlooked best practice in the world of sales: Whether you intend to or not, you always create a position in the minds of your customers, and that position influences the customer’s attitudes toward you as well as the buying decisions that follow. In other words, if you look like you’re the low price, your customers will expect you to be the low price.

It follows, then, that if we are going to be an effective, professional sales person, we ought to give thoughtful consideration to how we position ourselves in the minds of our customers.

Let’s begin by understanding the idea of positioning a little deeper. Positioning has long been a term bandied about by advertising mavens and marketing gurus. They define it as the place that your brand or product has carved out in the mind of the customer. It’s the pictures that enter the customers’ mind when they think of your product, the feelings that your product evokes, the attitudes they associate with you, and the thoughts they have of you.

Chances are, for example, the words “Volkswagen Beetle” evoke a set of responses from you that are different than “Chevrolet Corvette.” You expect a certain degree of quality, price and service when you enter a Wal-Mart that is not the same as your expectations upon stepping inside a Saks Fifth Avenue store.

Billions of dollars are spent every year on carefully crafted impressions by businesses anxious to carve out a valuable position in the minds of their customers.

Alas, if only the same thing could be said of many sales people.

Just like the carefully designed impressions by advertising mediums inexorably chisel a spot into our psyches, so do the repeated visits by a sales person embed a set of expectations, pictures and emotions into the minds of our customers. The position you, as a sales person, occupy is a complex intertwining of the perception of your company, your solutions, and yourself. The most effective sales people and sales organizations understand that, and consciously work to create a positive position in the minds of their customers.

Creating your position

Let’s begin at the end. A good starting point is to think deeply and with some detail about what sort of position you want to create. What, exactly, do you want your customers to think of you? Let me suggest two possibilities: the minimum acceptable position, and the ideal position.

At a minimum, I believe your customer should view you as a competent, trustworthy person who brings value to the customer. They believe that you generally know your products and their strengths and weaknesses, that you generally know the customer’s issues, and that you can be reliably counted on to do what you say you will do. That’s the least acceptable position to which you should work towards. If your customers don’t think of you at least in this way, you probably should not be in sales.

At the other end of the spectrum is the ideal position. This builds on the minimum, but adds a specific understanding on the part of the customer of your unique combination of strengths and attributes. It evolves as you have history with the customer until you occupy a position that is totally and uniquely yours and that carries with it the expectation that your strengths in some specific and unique way add value to the time the customer spends with you. The ultimate test of the power of your position is the customer’s willingness to see you and the resulting preference for doing business with you.

Here’s an illustration. If you were shopping for an automobile, a low-mileage late model Taurus would probably provide you with competent, reliable transportation. So, when you think of that specific automobile, it would evoke a set of ideas in your mind all revolving around competent and reliable transportation. Now, think of a brand new Lamborghini and you would understand it to be transportation, but with a unique flair – something above and beyond just reliable transportation. That flair would be a result of the unique strengths of that particular automobile conveyed in a graphic way to your mind.

Woman Using Laptop And Mobile Phone by Witthaya Phonsawat ID-100216058

So it is with sales people. You want to position yourself in your customer’s mind the equivalent of the Taurus. But if you really want to carve out a unique, memorable position in your customer’s mind, you’d want them to think of you as a Lamborghini.

This article is available in an expanded version, including four steps to position yourself with power, here.

The question then is, how do you want your customers to think of you? Once you articulate a specific picture, you can then start to build that position.

Your position in the minds of the customer is a powerful and subtle component of an effective sales person’s approach. Consistently working at building a positive position will pay dividends for years.

About the author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level. You may contact Dave at Kahle Way® Sales Systems, 800-331-1287, or info@davekahle.com.

Copyright MMXIV by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

Image “I Had A Major Business Loss” courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Woman using laptop and mobile phone” courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net