Turn It Into A Fund Raiser So Everyone Wins

How do you get free media coverage for your company while having other people sell your products or services? You might think about doing what a health club I worked with did one year.

Every year they would conduct a big membership campaign. They always bought radio commercials and placed print ads in the local newspapers. They also had to pay their staff extra for all the hours they needed to staff for walk-ins and appointments. And, they got about the same number of new members every year. It worked for them but they were looking for another way.

We decided to turn their membership campaign into a fund raiser!

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the idea and the process:

  1. The health club charged an initiation fee of $100 (which was really part of the staff’s compensation). We decided to give that $100 away.
  2. We learned that the most active civic organization in town was a group that raised money for college scholarships. Their primary method was a hoagie sandwich sale they conducted a few times a year.
  3. We learned from them that if we gave them the $100 from each new membership, they could easily double or triple what they made on hoagies.
  4. We offered them the $100 initiation fee if they would staff the club and sell the memberships for the campaign. They accepted and we now had a sales force of over 150 people.
  5. We helped them contact the local media with news of how they were conducting a fund raiser in conjunction with the health club to give away scholarships. The media loved the story and we got lots of free coverage including television. They even followed the campaign with updates on the progress.
  6. The service organization sold four times the usual number of memberships. Plus, many of them also joined as first time members.
  7. My client got more members than ever at a lower cost per member and were viewed by the public as doing something great for the community. The service organization made more money for scholarships than they ever had and with less work. And, more kids got college scholarship money. 
It was a Triple Win marketing program!
I will bet that you can do the same type of thing with a little creative thinking.

Guess Who Is Starting A New Business?

Lots of people according to my friends Keith and his wife Cheryl. They own a small print shop. Business has been booming this year and a lot of it is due to new customers who have lost their jobs in the latest corporate downsizing. Or, they have opted out of the big company rat race to have their own business.

Did you know there are lots of new companies that need your help – your products and services? How do you find them? How do they find you?

Are you out speaking to every group of people within your own hive? I wrote about the idea a couple of weeks ago. I’ll put a link at the bottom of the page for you to read. That’s the quickest way to grow.

Do you make a point to get out to local meetings and network? Have you asked your accountant, attorney, plumber, physician, dentist and customers for referrals? Are you reading the local papers to see if they mention new businesses starting up? Are you applying what you read here and on other blogs?Are you asking for permission to stay in touch? Are you providing the people who say “yes” with something of value?

These new business owners need your products and services. My friends Keith and Cheryl opted out of very successful corporate careers a few years ago to start their printing company. They’ve done all of these things and more and that’s how they have grown during tough times.

It’s your turn to grow.

Listen With Your Eyes and Heart

Let’s say you’re at a party and it is good opportunity to network with people. How long do you think the average person takes to make a decision about someone new they meet? How long does it take for you “gut” to say, “I like this person.” Or, “Wow, get me out of here.” If you’re like most people that gut feeling will settle in within the first few minutes – sometimes less.

How do you come to a decision about the person? Is it their dress, their tone or volume of their voice, the words they use, mannerisms, their smile, eye contact or lack of? Do they look around the room as you are being introduced or do they make you feel like they are really interested in you?

All of these things go into how we make a first impression. Learn how to match someone’s tone and pace of speech. If you are caffeine fueled and bouncing on the balls of your feet while you speak at warp speed you are not going to connect with the type of person who is contemplative and thinks about each sentence. In fact, they are going to hate you. Instead, learn to use positive psychological reciprocity and respond to positive actions on their part with one of you own. Watch them keep it going.

People do business with people they like and trust.
Nurture a relationship with a client or potential client just like you would with someone you want to date.
Listen to them with your eyes and with your heart.

If You Think – You’ll Stink!

The first time I heard the phrase “If you think, you’ll stink” was from the lips of an extraordinary golf instructor in Pittsburgh. Her name is Denise Boeh and she is one of those people who would have been successful at anything she decided to do for a living. She became a LPGA teaching professional and there are a lot of people who are much better golfers as a result.

What the phrase means is that if you start thinking when you are actually on the course playing, you are going to think about what to do instead of doing what you’ve already learned and practiced.

The same thing applies to the process of selling. Too many books and “experts” are happy to supply you with all kinds of techniques to use when you are selling. However, almost all of the sales techniques require you to think when you should be listening and focusing on your client. It’s much better to spend time before meeting with the customer thinking about what questions you need to ask in order to get the information you need to provide the greatest value possible.

When you focus on your client’s needs and ask the right questions, you won’t need to be thinking.

And you won’t stink “on the course.”

It’s All About The Customer!

In my experience, the degree of difficulty in selling large ticket items as compared to small is infinitesimal. Yes, sometimes the sales cycle is longer but small ticket items tend to often be discretionary in nature while large are invariably necessary for the company to purchase.

Why should this matter to you? Well, too often new salespeople, consultants, and other professionals go for the small sale rather that provide a service or product that would serve the customer much better. They do it because they fear rejection and that the customer would be more inclined to spend less money.

This whole paradox has a lot to do with personal self-esteem which takes some work to increase. However, let me give you a shortcut that should help you do a better job for your clients while also putting more profit into your bank account.

Think VALUE! Constantly ask yourself, "How can I provide value for this person or company?" Focus on providing value and stop focusing on the cost, your income, your survival, etc. It's not all about you.

It's all about the customer!

Why Do Large Companies Spend Too Much On Sales Training?

Why is it that when it comes to implementing a sales training program large companies almost always go with the most expensive, most complicated and least effective?

I have evaluated many, many programs. The worst ones were always so complicated to understand and implement that I knew the program would be abandoned by most sales teams within 60 days after being launched. Those that weren't were kept alive because the VP of sales was the person who made the decision to use it and until he was gone – all hope of a program that worked was gone.

The absolute best sales training program I ever saw was one created by Ron Willingham in the eighties. He originally called it "The Best Seller" and he wrote a book by the same title. He later wrote "Integrity Selling for the 21st. Century."

Why was it so good? Because it was simple, based on principles and not techniques, and it wasn't manipulative in any way. If you never sold anything you could read it and become successful. And, if you had been selling for many years, reading it would get you back to basics and increase your sales.

All the training materials were around $50 a person. Pay for a facilitator and you had a program that increased sales exponentially. I never saw it fail to get excellent results.

The last program I evaluated cost six figures and was considered a joke within the sales force of a large company that was implementing it. I never saw it used past the classroom. Large companies fall into a trap of believing that if a program has lots of bells and whistles and costs a lot – it must be really good.They need to see lots of "stuff" in order to justify the big price tag.

Small companies can't afford these kinds of programs or mistakes. In fact, most of the big name training companies will ignore you. However, there are lots of good independent people who can help you with your sales programs. Look for someone who has actually sold and been successful.

Higher price does not necessarily equate to higher quality and results when it comes to sales training.

Selling Fun

Baskin_robbinsIrvine Robbins passed away earlier this month – he of Baskin-Robbins ice cream fame. As I read about his life, I got to thinking about what he said about what the company sells. “We sell fun, not just ice cream!”

Before he and his brother-in-law, Burt Baskins, opened the first store in 1948 the ice cream world was pretty much vanilla, chocolate or wild and crazy strawberry. Mr. Robbins decided to infuse fun into the business by offering 31 flavors of always changing products with fun and crazy names.

If it weren’t for him, we’d have no Rocky Road, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Cheesecake ice cream. Birthday parties at the store, clowns, balloons and a free taste of any flavor you wanted to try were all part of the fun he created.

What kind of fun are you building into your business? When is the last time you did something fun with your clients or customers?

Why don’t you surprise your top ten clients this week and send them some Baskin-Robbins ice cream. Pick out some crazy fun flavors. And, maybe have it delivered by a clown or gorilla. Have some fun and put some fun into your business.

Your customers will remember the next time they are tempted to switch companies. They’ll remember the fun they had with you.

The Worst Sales Strategy Ever?

How far do you think you’d get in your sales presentation if you answered the question “Why should I buy from you with the following answer?”

Well, because “white, hard working Americans” would rather buy from me than my competitors – especially if they’ve never completed college.

You’d get tossed out the door and told never to show you face in that company again.

That’s what happens when someone selling something loses sight of the fact that they need to focus on providing value to the person who is doing the buying.

It’s what happens when they focus on themselves instead of their customer.

It’s what happens when arrogance and entitlement shape their marketing.

I witnessed Xerox do it with their copiers.
I experienced IBM as they did it to their computer customers.
And, I now have seen Hillary do it to the nation.

Risk and Reward

We are in the process of implementing a neighborhood watch where I live in northern Bucks County, PA. We had our first meeting to discuss the process and by coincidence my step-daughter, Lisa, was visiting from New Jersey and sat in on the meeting that was held in our home.

The day after the meeting she asked me why it was so difficult to get people to participate (even when they say they will). It seemed like a “no brainer” to her. You want to have a safe neighborhood where you live and you can also form social relationships. “What’s the problem?” is what she asked.

The problem is that the community is very new and everyone has moved into it from other areas. Many came for the schools, some to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, others for jobs. I told Lisa that I think the problem is that besides living in the same neighborhood, nobody knows if they have anything in common. Joining a tribe and taking a stand, (which is what we are asking of them) means giving up some of their anonymity. It means taking a risk. It means investing time. It means breaking with the status quo.

These are the same thoughts that go through your clients and customers minds when you are trying to sell them your products and services. These are some of the questions a good marketer must also answer when designing a marketing program.

Everyone wants to know if the reward they will receive from buying your service or product (or joining a neighborhood watch) is greater than the price they will have to pay. You need to provide your customers with enough rewards to be more important than both the real and perceived investment you are asking them to make.

In the case of our neighborhood watch, we need to show our other neighbors that the rewards of a safe, crime and drug free neighborhood where people look out for one another is worth the investment of their time and the fear of ‘getting involved.”

What about your clients? Will they have to change companies to buy from you? Will they being paying more for your product or service? What if you don’t deliver on your promises? Should they take a risk on a new, small company? Maybe they like you but worry what will happen if you leave the company. Isn’t it just easier to maintain the status quo – even if it isn’t really the best thing to do? At least they won’t get fired for making the wrong decision.

Just what are you asking people to do when they buy from you? Can you provide enough rewards to outweigh the risk? Do you?

Do We Need Complex Sales Strategies?

Water_cooler_groupI read a best selling, sales author’s biography earlier this week where she described herself as an expert in “complex sales strategies.” I’ve tried to start her book several times but my eyes glaze over reading the table of contents. I’m not going to name the book or the author. This isn’t a book review.

I don’t understand the term “complex sales strategies.” Or, perhaps I should say I don’t believe in complex sales strategies. If you believe selling to be complex, I’m going to respectfully suggest you’ve already thinking about yourself and not the customer. Think like a customer and complexity in selling goes away. The reason my eyes glaze over at the table of contents is that most of the chapters appears to be about the salesperson and not the customer – which is totally backwards.

The books appears to contain some good tactics for selling although I would again respectfully suggest many are either manipulative and/or so elementary as to be insulting to the average person’s intelligence. Let alone someone who the author assumes is already in sales. But, as one of my best friends and critics always reminds me, the process of sales is confusing to most people so I need to make it simple.

As I said, this isn’t a book review. I’m sure the author put a great deal of time and love into writing the book. Her business is apparently doing very well. I just wish she didn’t think that you still have to use manipulation in sales these days. I wish she had spent more time talking about the customer. Will this book help you to sell more? Maybe – I guess – I’m not sure.

It might also set your career back or end it totally if you come to realize that you are being asked to do something that is incongruent with the person you are and want to be. If you don’t believe in manipulation or doing something ‘to’ someone for your gain, you are going to suffer from what is called cognitive dissonance. This is a feeling of tension that you get when you try to hold two conflicting thoughts in your mind at the same time. Something has to give and often it is the salesperson’s career.

You need to focus on providing value to customers – more value than anyone else and you will see a change in how you sell. Complex will become much simpler. Customers will want to do business with you. And, if you are lucky enough to create great marketing for the product, service, company, first; sales becomes enjoyable and never manipulative.

People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. Since we can’t pick or choose the “type” of person we are most likely to trust and like right away, we need to learn how to effectively with everyone’s personality style.” Learn how in this report and start increasing your sales right away!

Selling To The Four Personality Types