Archive for July, 2011

Are You Boring?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

You probably answered “no.” Who wouldn’t? I wonder how your customers would answer that question. Do your customers think you, your product and your business are boring? People want to be entertained. Entertainment = Sales. Boring = Broke.

Your customers get their news from FOX News and USA Today, their food from drive throughs, their coffee from Starbucks, their money from ATMs, their exercise from 7- minute abs DVDs and their information from the Internet.

To be successful, you must provide the perception of ease in doing business, some semblance of speed, and high entertainment value. Your customers have been trained to pick up on “boring” at lightning speed and move towards “wow” in mass.

To provide high entertainment value you don’t have to be a comedian or a circus performer, but you must possess finely tuned people skills. All things being equal, customers will choose the lower price. Your job as a salesperson is to make you stand out so strong that it makes everything else pale in comparison. Your value raises the level of all other considerations. Never forget that you are the difference maker — period, end of story.

Weak salespeople play the price and blame game. Good salespeople concentrate on what they can influence. When you accept total responsibility for your success and failure, you move from blame to fame.

Let’s cover some ways to increase your entertainment value. The easiest way to stand out from the pack is to do the exact opposite of your so-called competitors. First of all, you must change your position of power and leverage by marketing for leads rather than begging for a sale from someone who randomly shows up.

Next, you must think about your first point of impact and how that adds or subtracts from your position. You must either change the location, wording or nature of the first meeting.

Evaluate your conversations with customers. Are you playing the same qualifying game that most salespeople do? When you openly try to qualify people financially and to see if they are ready to do business, you should realize in doing so that you are offending them and putting yourself in a position of beggar. Try giving a reason for people to qualify for you and your product. Stop qualifying them for financial data and make them qualify in a positive way that creates a mental take-a-way.

The take-a-way positioning creates scarcity, urgency, and provides you maximum leverage. Example: When you are profiling your customer in the beginning of the sales process, make sure to mention that you would like to ask a few questions up front to make sure you can assist them the way they desire and to make sure you and your product would be a good fit for them. It’s OK to tell someone up front that you and your product may not be the best fit for everyone and that you purposely don’t try to sell everything to everybody.

It’s a proven fact that customers who have to take certain steps or actions before purchasing create their own sense of emotional and psychological commitment to purchase. In simple language, you allow them to buy rather than trying to sell them. When people commit to something by their own choice, they will go to great lengths to do business, if nothing else but to save face. People don’t want to look bad.

You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with being boring? Boring salespeople do what 99 percent of all salespeople do; they beg and pant like a dog for a sale and put their salesperson dunce cap on for customers to laugh at. STOP IT. You are more important and valuable than that. Salespeople with leverage and a different game-plan for everything — including their sales skills, people skills and marketing skills — never appear boring. Their actions attract and endear customers without having to be a comedian, huckster or circus clown.

Ask yourself again honestly if you are boring and if your sales positioning leaves your customer with a strong mental and emotional feeling about their experience with you. Do you stand out, or are you boring? Boring is usually fatal.

Contrarian Selling Approaches

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Contrary: opposed, opposite in nature, altogether different. Several Indian tribes had warrior societies called Contraries or Contrary Warriors. The contraries were different in nature as well as actions, and were thought to be wise men. While being in the automobile business my whole adult life, I have observed and been a student of some of the more successful dealers in the business and have found that a lot of those dealers take a contrarian approach to their business. Following the masses seldom leads to riches.

For many years automobile dealers have been selling vehicles with practically the same techniques. A particular sales approach may have been observed and then passed from one dealer to another. Managers taught the salespeople the techniques and when some of those salespeople became managers. They taught their salespeople what they had been taught. Thus, we have a never-ending cycle of teaching techniques and approaches that may now be outdated in today’s marketplace.

There are as many personal computers being sold in one day in the United States as there were total in existence fifteen years ago. When you combine the proliferation of computers with the availability of the Internet and the explosion of information available today, you get a more educated and sophisticated customer than before. Although the consumers may have changed in the last fifteen years, for the most part our selling techniques have not. As I train and work with dealerships across the country, I see a willingness to change and to be unique in the marketplace. Every aspect of the traditional selling approach must be scrutinized and possibly changed.

Let’s look at just one specific area – The Meet and Greet. Proxemics is the relationship of physical distance among people. In other words, we all have comfort zones. For many years, we have taught salespeople to walk up to a customer and extend our hand for the greeting and give our names and ask for the customer’s name. However, consumers are telling us in surveys that they don’t want to be jumped on upon entering the dealership. The question is, “How do we greet customers promptly without them feeling like they’re being attacked?” When approaching customers, salespeople should stay in the social zone which is about three to five feet away from the customer. Also, we know that upon being greeted, customers reply “I’m just looking” almost one hundred percent of the time. To make the customer feel more at ease, just use their usual response in your greeting. Example: “Hi folks. Are you just beginning to look and shop around today?” Ask questions to start taking control of the process and get the customer talking to gain rapport. I would suggest waiting a minute or two before shaking hands and exchanging names, if possible. I can guarantee that when a salesperson exchanges names while shaking hands in the beginning of the greeting, that as soon as they drop your hands from the handshake, the names drop to the floor and the salesperson will not remember the names of their customers ten seconds after they have gotten them. While I am in dealerships working, I observe traditional greetings and can say that the customer looks uncomfortable with the process almost every time.

Every step of our sales process must be reviewed in the manner similar to what we have just done. Lemmings are animals that follow the one in front of them, even if it is off a cliff and to their death. As smart business people, we have to be willing to be more contrarian and less like lemmings.

Are You A Hustler?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Do you hustle? I mean really hustle. As a kid growing up I was a huge fan of the Big Red Machine, Cincinnati Reds baseball team. Pete Rose became my favorite athlete. Forget about Pete Rose as a man and all his personal shortcomings, Pete Rose gave it his all every time he stepped on a baseball field. Pete truly earned his nickname Charlie Hustle.” If you want to be successful, no matter your looks, talent, connections or anything else have going for you, you have to learn to hustle.

Recently I was in New York City on business. Later in the evening after my meetings I went to a famous Jazz Club called the Iridium Jazz Club to listen to T.S. Monk. T.S. Monk is a great Jazz drummer and the son of legendary Jazz musician Thelonious Monk. The music was incredible and I enjoyed the music and atmosphere tremendously. A funny thing happened in the Iridium Jazz Club that night. I learned more about business, marketing, sales and the hustle you must have to succeed than I did in any of the business meetings I attended. Go figure.

While watching the music, I noticed something. A young girl was invited into the club by the club manager, he gave her something to eat and then she took a professional looking camera and starting taking action shots of T.S. Monk and his band. She made me curious, so I asked her what she was doing with her pictures. Here’s is what I she told me and what I learned from her.

This young girl was nineteen years old and a student of Bowling Green University in Ohio. She had saved money and moved to New York for the summer to attend photography school and shoot photos of bands and musicians to build her music photography portfolio. This young girl had moved from a small town to a large city by herself with no connections to pursue her dream.

This young lady had put together unique marketing material that included a catchy brown envelope with rough texture and her name in an unusual font at the bottom. The envelope contained three photos of her work and a business card with a music type photo of herself and contact info. The young lady went to school during the day and at night went to music clubs around New Work City and asked if she could shoot pictures of the performers. While at the clubs she would tell everyone she met what she was doing and of her dream to be a photographer of Rolling Stone Magazine. She let the band know how excited she was to shoot pictures of them and that she would provide them the pictures for free for the chance to build her portfolio. In between her school in the day and the picture taking at night she would call on Rolling Stone Magazine and other music related magazines trying to get an opportunity. I have no doubt this young lady will be successful. As a matter of fact she already is. In creating her dream, she is living her dream. The young lady knows how to hustle.

Towards the end of the evening at the Jazz Club I got to meet TS Monk. Mr. Monk told me that he went from playing Jazz to R&B music and had some hits and success but when he decided to came back to Jazz music, his dad had already passed and some of the doors that might have been open before to him were no longer available. Having a famous dad had allowed him some opportunity but he had to be able to deliver. T. S Monk talked to Jazz player who was a friend of his dad and asked if he could come out and play with him. The man said sure and told TS to come on out. TS sat there all night and never got to play. TS asked the man about the next weekend and the man said to come on out. Again, he sat there and never got to play. And so this same scene kept occurring for months. TS would go to the nightclub; he would sit and never get invited to play. Finally, one night he was asked to play. After that night he started to get invitations and opportunities started to open up for him. As TS said to me, he had to hustle and keep believing.

Whether you are Pete Rose, TS Monk, a young music photographer or a salesperson with big dreams, hustle is a common element of success.

Create A River of Leads

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Every salesperson is really in two businesses: the people business and the marketing business. If you are great with people but don’t have any customers to demonstrate this quality to, you’re in trouble. Marketing must become the number one function of any business, including sales. Marketing precedes sales.

Begin to think in terms of leads, not sales. You need marketing that will generate leads. Most salespeople think only in terms of advertising. Salespeople either wait for their business to advertise, or take a blind “stab-in-the dark” approach to advertising. Usually, the results are minimal to non-existent.

One-stage advertising asks people to buy now. For most salespeople, this technique is too expensive and will lead to too few results. A better technique is two-stage marketing. Two-stage marketing is designed to get interested parties to raise their hands, so to speak. You just want to create leads from qualified potential customers. Lead generation=dollar creation.

There are several techniques to get leads. One way is to create a special report. For example, this report may have a title of “Ten Things Every Car Buyer Must Know.” It’s always best to create a simple report that walks customers through the process. Paint a picture of the “do’s and don’ts” of car buying. Be an advocate to the buyer in order to create trust. When you write the report, follow some important, time-honored advice: “Enter into the conversation the customer currently has in their mind.” In other words, TLC-think like a customer.

Next, think of how you can get the potential customer to learn about your report. Where do your customers hang out? Where do they live? What do they do? Where do they go? Where do they belong? You may pass out the reports. Run an ad in the local newspaper publishing an ‘800 hotline’ number for people to receive the report. Create an alliance with other businesses to give reports out to benefit their customers. Always think of ways to benefit other businesses as well, so they will want to give out your report.

Cross-promote between businesses such as restaurants, body shops, car washes, and insurance agents. You promote their business and they give out a coupon for yours. Make the coupon a two-stage mechanism by providing something of value, such as information or a free gift, rather than a discount or special deal.

Go to the reference desk at your public library and study the SRDS: Standard Rate and Data Service Guide. You will find endless streams of information and ideas on how to access lists and groups of potential customers. You may buy subscriber lists from magazines that appeal to your potential customers.

Create a “Be-Back” CD and give it to every person who does not buy from you. In the CD, give them the reasons to do business with you and create a hook. Get a list of inactive or orphan owners from your business and begin to send a three-stage mailing sequence trying to get them back into the fold.

When you create a river of leads, your pipeline of sales never dries up!