Featured Article12 Questions to Get a Jump Start on the Year Ahead
Each December, like many other people, I reflect on the year past and the year ahead. I focus this reflection with 12 questions. I note highlights and lessons learned; how I have evolved; the memorable moments and the various goals I’ve advanced towards – and more. Often, I’m surprised by how much I achieved. As we trudge through our busy lives we are often thinking about all we have not done or achieved. So I invite you to use these questions to take stock and consider your intentions and aspirations for 2013.
The Year Past:
1) What went well?
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Increase Your Sales: Prospecting for Dollars
|Productivity - Prospecting|
|Written by Shawn Doyle|
You can't strike it rich mining for gold unless you are in the river prospecting for it - and it's NOT on the bank - it's in the water!
First let's take a look at how you feel about prospecting - because how you feel about prospecting determines how you will act.
Do you feel uncomfortable? Do you dislike it? What's hiding under the rock?
We'll first take a look at your hard-wired belief system about prospecting.
Let's face it: some sales professionals love it, some hate it, and some have even built up some fear around doing it. This is all perfectly natural, but it's also stopping you from being as effective as you can be in identifying new customers. So you have a task before you: you have to learn to love it!If you fear it, you have to figure out why you fear it. Have you had negative prospecting experiences in the past? If you really think about it, prospecting in person or over the phone is just having a conversation and what's so scary about that? Most people don't bite - and if they do, they aren't a good prospect anyway. (Who wants to sell to a biter?) If your product has value (if you don't think it does, you better think about it harder!), then talking to people about it should be fun, exciting, and interesting - to both of you!
One last thought - if you don't like prospecting and you look like you are in pain when you are doing it, what kind of message are you sending? You wouldn't want to see it on video - The Blair Pitch Project - scary!!!!
Prospecting = How can I help?
Instead of prospecting blindly, or worse - prospecting as about 80% of salespeople do with a mindset of "What's in it for me," you should try netweaving.
Netweaving turns the tables 180 degrees on prospecting and starts with you asking every new person you meet "How can I help you?"
Using netweaving is easy - and it makes you the bedrock for doing business.
Getting started with netweaving is simple: connect people that should be connected.
Specifically, one of the quickest ways to convert one of your prospects into a client is to bring THEM a prospect or valuable contact!
You should develop a genuine focus on being 'of service.' Develop authentic curiosity - focus on everyone's favorite subject, ME.
Ask questions focused on them, such as "tell me how you got started in this business?" or "who would be a good referral for you?"
I once worked with a salesperson who pointed out a lawyers office as we were driving and then a few moments later, a chiropractor's office and said, "They do business together because of me - I brought them together. They are both my clients and now each others clients." That's netweaving and it's one of the most powerful ways to prove your value to people - and stand head and shoulders above the crowd of other me-me-me sales people.
In fact, your goal should be to become a you-you-you sales professional!
Are you magnetic?
Another aspect involves the concept of magnetism. Working like a magnet - to attract people to you, almost irresistibly - instead of laboriously panning for gold among the pebbles can make the single biggest difference in dramatically increasing a sales professional's effectiveness.
What if, through your efforts, you drew people to you? You have heard of people with magnetic personalities? This is called magnetic marketing!
In magnetic marketing, you move away from sales 'rocks' to find your valuable iron ore - or sales 'magnets.'
Here is a question to get you started thinking about magnetic marketing - How can you convert prospects into SUBSCRIBERS?
That's right - subscribers. People who actually want to hear from you, value the information you bring to them, and look forward to the next time you call, email, or send them something in the mail, simply because of its intrinsic value.
In other words, how do you keep prospects coming back for more of what you have to offer?
Simple: offer useful information on a regular basis.
Becoming a geyser of information
That leads to the next logical question, which is How can you become a valuable geyser of useful information?
Once you've answered this question, you'll start pulling people toward you so they will WANT to do business with you. They will call YOU! Wouldn't that be something? Well it can be done!
The way to do this is to develop a marketing/ prospecting plan, including creating information products, outreach tools, and using speaking and publishing opportunities (yes, for salespeople) to build your expert status.
Publish a newsletter on a regular basis and send it to your clients and prospective clients. Fill it with valuable tips, advice techniques and information. Don't use boilerplate newsletters prepared for your industry - make this real, make it personal, and aim it squarely at your best prospects and clients.
Let's face it: you are an expert in your particular product and industry - or should be. So show off your expertise!
In the age of technology, cost is no barrier, because you can create a wide variety of valuable tools electronically: annotated PowerPoints, white papers, audio programs, cost and savings calculators, short articles, tip sheets, and checklists. These take minutes to create (maybe an hour or so to do one really well) and can pay off in huge ways.
Just make sure you don't produce a thinly disguised sales pitch (people can see right through that!) and do provide solid information to increase your credibility.
Secret #1: Publishing
Most publishers of industry and trade magazines and newsletters are HUNGRY for content. Not to mention websites, e-zines, industry specific online forums, and countless in-house publications (probably a good number of which are published by your prospect companies!)
The content is gobbled up every month and editors are always looking for NEW stuff. So all you have to do is ask and submit! When you get published you now have (wave the magic wand) TAAA-DAAA Instant credibility!
Suddenly you're an 'industry expert.' - Hey it's not fair - but that is how it works! Wouldn't you want to buy from an industry expert? Or at least speak to him or her for a few minutes on the phone to tap into their expertise?
Secret #2: Speaking
Associations are HUNGRY for speakers and they need one every time they have a meeting.
Package your expertise as a nice little 30 minute talk and you are now ready to speak to your future buyers!
Again, don't make it a sales pitch; make it content rich and helpful.
If you sell copiers, do a talk on 10 Hot Trends in Office Technology. If you sell restaurant supplies, do a presentation on How to Increase your Business Traffic 100%.
When you speak, you become an expert - and usually get a list of the attendees so you can follow up.
Now you may say, "I'm not very good at public speaking."
If you're in the third category, there are many options open to you, including the truly valuable Toastmasters organization, and presentation coaches who can get you comfortable, and even excited, in developing good speaking skills within a couple of months. Here is the formula:
Good PR and Visibility increases your Credibility times 10!
Secret #3 Tradeshow Tips
Every day, hundreds of tradeshows happen around the world, and hundreds of sales and marketing people make the same dumb mistakes over and over again. Many sales professionals do not understand the dynamics of how to behave at a trade show to make it a profitable prospecting activity.
Your main job at a trade show is making the connections that create new customers. Sounds simple, right? Well, read on. Trade show visitors - activity levels range from the very aggressive to the virtually comatose. Remember, all visitors are prospective customers, regardless of activity level. Don't interpret low energy as meaning they aren't interested.
You want to match your opening line to the prospect's activity level. Ask aggressive visitors strong, open-ended questions. Ask uncertain visitors easier, gentler questions. "Can I help you" just triggers the automatic response "No thanks, just looking." This doesn't let you tell your story or find out what your visitor wants or needs.
Try asking "Have you heard of our company before?" If no, then say "Then you'll be glad to know... [10-second audio logo]" If the answer was yes, you can say "Then you probably know that... [10-second audio logo]"
Want to know how to up the WOW! factor? Your opening line should tell the most amazing fact about your firm. The very things that you take for granted because you hear them [or say them] every day. Find something that makes people say "Wow!" and use that as your opening.
Active Visitors. Greet these visitors by introducing yourself, a handshake, and saying: Thanks for coming in. What caught your interest? I see you're taking a closer look. Do you currently use/have any of our products/services? You seem to know something about us already. What are you looking for? or What questions do you have about our services?
Uncertain Visitors. Avoid yes/no questions with these visitors. Be gentle, avoiding a sales approach or a pitch. Greet these visitors by introducing yourself, offering a handshake, and saying: What did you come to the show to see? What brought you to the show today? What about the show have you found the most interesting so far? How much do you know about our offerings?
Take notes when qualifying a prospect. Don't bother taking detailed notes. A few words will suffice to remind you of the key issues for that particular visitor. Taking notes accomplishes five things:
Try some or all of these:
What do you want in a... [product/service]?
Then, invent a few more qualifying questions of your own!
How to connect QUICK. There are 5 steps to a trade show sales call. They make up the acronym QUICK.
Q - Qualify. Best questions start with "tell me about."
Tell me what you're doing about [product/service]
U - Understand. Why is this person at the show? What is he looking for? What problem does he want to solve? What need does he want to fill? Restate and clarify the visitors needs. Then demonstrate how your [product/service] fills those needs. If the conversation wanders, restart with "Earlier you said..." and get back on track.
I - Identify. Identify how you can help. All you really need to do is isolate one or two key points. The visitor is looking for a 15-30 second overview of what you can do to solve HIS problem.
C - Create an action plan. You and your visitor should decide what to do next, write up an order, get more information, set up an appointment, mail literature - or nothing! This lets your visitor buy or move quickly to the next step in the sales process.
K - Kick 'em out! Once you've agreed to the action plan, restate the key points of the plan, shake hands, and thank them for stopping by. Move them on gracefully with this process, and you're free to meet your next visitor.
Make sure to capture their name, vital statistics, an understanding of what they need and want, brief notes on your conversation, and a plan to follow through. Also, confirm that the phone number they give you is the best one with which to reach them directly.
If the prospect is a dead end and unlikely to buy, move on FAST. Say something like: "Based on what you've told me, I don't think I can help you right now." "Thanks for stopping by." "Enjoy the rest of the show." "If I can be of service to you or people you know, here's my card. Thanks."
That's it about trade shows. Now your job is to make the next trade show you attend 300% more productive than the last one!
Finding radioactive clients
OK folks, pull out your Geiger counters.We want to encourage you to begin using a 'selectivity' mentality where you qualify prospects, just as they would qualify you.
Do THEY deserve a callback?
Do THEY deserve a face-to-face appointment?
Do THEY deserve a proposal?
Are you looking for short-term checks or long-term clients that will be thrilled with you and refer you and buy more from you? Think about it.
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