Archive for December, 2010

People Buy From People

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

As a sales professional, it can be an eye-opening experience when you go shopping for yourself. Weaknesses in other’s presentations can teach us lessons about how to strengthen our own. One common theme you might notice is that many people don’t seem to recognize that people don’t buy products or services. People buy from people.

People buy solutions to perceived or real problems. Good sales people assist buyers in solving their problems through emotions, visual imagery, and proper logic and people skills. The one component of sales that makes everything come together is people skills. You may be great at product knowledge, presentation, demonstrations or closing skills, but none of those things will matter if you don’t create a relationship with your customer.

A catalyst is an agent of change. There is not a better way to describe sales people. When your customer begins to shop, they are beginning a process of change. If you are the sales person who makes the sale, it will usually be because you were better at assisting the customer to make that change. Let’s look at some ways to make those changes happen in a positive way that allows your customer to buy. Take notice of the phrase “allows your customer to buy,” rather than “you selling the customer.”

Imagine, for example, going to shop for a hot tub. You go to a nationally known store that has obviously conducted sales training for their sales representatives. The sales person has a very specific sales presentation. He also has considerable knowledge about his product and the competing products. The sales person is enthusiastic and energetic. In other words, he has a lot of good things going for him.

However, the sales person has a fatal flaw in his approach that probably costs him lots of business. The sales person tries very hard to be a sales person but he misses being just a person by a mile. What’s the difference?

The sales person begins to immediately show you the hot tubs and begins his process without taking the time to ask any questions and build a rapport that creates trust. When someone starts off a sales process in this manner, they are beginning what could be called the “Spray and Pray Method of Selling.” They spray out a presentation and pray that the customer gets excited about something in their verbal barrage about the product. They have no idea what that something might be.

This method lacks specifics, empathy, warmth, personalization, communication and listening skills, just to name a few problems. Imagine a different approach. A sales approach where the salesperson would have asked the some of the following questions:

o “Who will be primarily using the hot tub?”
o “How many people will usually use it at a time?”
o “Will it be used for recreational purposes, therapeutic or both?”
o “Will kids be using the hot tub?”
o “Do you currently have or have you had a hot tub in the past?”
o “If so, what did you like and dislike?”
o “Where will the hot tub be located?”
o “What kind of foundation will it be on?”
o “Will the area that the hot tub will be located at be enclosed or open?”
o “What is the most important thing to you about a hot tub?”
o “How long have you been shopping for a hot tub?”
o “During this shopping process, what has been the No. 1 thing about a hot tub or any features that has excited you the most?”
o “During your shopping process, has there been anything you may have wanted that you have not seen or anything in particular that has disappointed you?”

You can think of a ton of questions that would allow specific answers and enable the customer to experience the change they are looking for. You can use the keywords and answers the customer supplies you to laser in on what they want to accomplish, using specific examples that involve active and present-tense ownership imagery.

When you are doing these things, you are relating to your customer in an empathic and personal way that separates you from all the other sales people. Never forget that you were a person before you became a sales person, and that people buy from people.

How to Flood Your Dealership with Customers

Monday, December 13th, 2010

There is a revelation that is shocking and, quite frankly, scary. A dangerous and potentially fatal mistake is being made everyday in businesses. The mistake is the confusion between strategy and tactics. Strategy is your overall goal for your business and your overall marketing philosophy to achieve those goals. Tactics are executable actions you take to achieve those options. The good news is that once you have clarity about your strategy, and then apply emotional direct response marketing methods, you can create a continual stream of customers to your business. The scary part is that it is as easy as flipping on a light switch, and yet very few people know and understand the simple secrets to make this happen.

Your business is actually comprised of two businesses: the people business and the marketing business. You can be great with your people skills and handling of customers, but if you don’t have the customers to be great with, it won’t matter. Lead generation equals dollar creation. You live and die by the success or failure of your marketing efforts to create new customers and retain existing ones.

There are three simple things you can do immediately to make a dramatic impact on your customer flow and sales: Market, Message and Media

Step One – Define who your market is.

If you were asked who your average customer is, do you really know? Do you know where they live, what they do for a living and what their hopes, dreams and fears are? Have you begun to break down every element of what makes up your best potential market of customers? Many dealerships open the doors every day and spend tons of money to drive customers through the door without ever giving extensive thought to who their market really is. Successful businesses don’t try to do business with everybody. If you believe your market is everyone, you are wasting tons of money. You must match your message to your market. The more accurately you define your message while also narrowing your market and niche, the more success you have. You also greatly increase your return on investment.

Step Two – Define an effective message.

Remember that you are not in the car business. You are in the emotions business. Your customers don’t buy cars. What they are doing is seeking to emotionally solve their perceived problems. If you believe you are in the car business, you have just grouped yourself into a fishbowl with every car dealership and every sales person in the world. You can immediately differentiate yourself by creating an SDP (Specific Defining Proposition) built upon emotional pull.

In other words, what does your business do better, more of or more originally than any other business in the world? Begin to tell your story. Facts tell; stories sell. You may not have spent enough time figuring out what your story is that positions and sells you. If you don’t believe you or your business is better or unique, I would argue that you are wrong, and you should do more work on figuring it out. If, after careful consideration, you still don’t believe you are better or unique in any way, the good news is that it probably doesn’t even matter. Since most people or businesses never tell their story, you will automatically differentiate yourself and stand out if you do. There are three legs that must be established to create a winning marketing approach to your business: Message, Market and Media. You have now created the second of three legs that builds your business – the message.

Make sure that all of your marketing messages contain the following: an emotional story, a specific and incredible offer, a strong sense of urgency with a specific call to action, multiple ways to respond and, if possible, a specific deadline that creates a real or perceived fear of loss for a lack of action by that date.

Step Three – Define your media strategy.

Be forewarned, advertising agencies are usually nothing more than commissioned based media sales agents. The focus of the majority of advertising agents is to place the largest amount of money possible in media. This is a recipe for waste and lackluster results. Although there are technically no bad media selections, you must define which medium is best for your market and message. If you can’t dominate a medium, can you dominate the way you use the medium (for example, infomercial versus regular TV)?

A huge mistake would be to believe that the medium itself is what gets you the results. A good example of this is a dealership that chooses a particular medium, such as radio or TV, as their favorite and then places tons of ads that are strictly brand-based messages. For dealerships, branding should always be of secondary importance to the actual direct response offer. The best way for a dealership to build a brand is to sell a bunch of vehicles. Unless you are Budweiser, Coca-Cola or some other huge brand with tons of money, spending money on brand-based advertising is like pouring money down the drain. You are in the business of creating customers and profit, not in the ego-inflation business.

When you get very clear about your strategy and tactics and use emotional direct-response marketing to achieve your goals, you will have flipped on the switch to a continual flow of customers and sales.