Archive for the 'Sales' Category

09
Feb
09

Nasty Networker – “Vomitous from the mouth”

This is a great article by a friend of mine –

Recently I asked my network through LinkedIn: “What are the visible attributes of a ‘Nasty Networker?'” I’ve boiled the answers down into some common categories ranked by the frequency of their appearance

Signs of a Nasty Networker

  1. Selfish. Not interested in helping others.
  2. Doesn’t ask questions. Talks too much.
  3. Bashes or otherwise acts inappropriately towards competitors.
  4. Uses high pressure and other bad sales techniques.
  5. Abuses contact information. Sends spam and other unwanted communication.
  6. Ignores business card etiquette.
  7. Social climber. Always looking for somebody better to talk to.
  8. Not open.
  9. Naive and needs education (about proper networking).
  10. More interested in the quantity of connections, not their quality.
  11. Disrespectful.

In the end I think that “Nasty Networking” is driven primarily by either naivete or desperation. I saw a quote recently that suggested that the selfish type of taker networking is not networking at all, but rather Needworking. My hope is that by sharing this list we can help the naive/needworkers get onto the path of true networking.

Continue reading ‘Nasty Networker – “Vomitous from the mouth”’

11
Dec
08

web site hurting your sales effort?

by Pete Monfre

When many companies talk about marketing, they inevitably end up focusing myopically on their company web site.  Do a search in any search engine for “marketing” and the vast majority of topics will be on-line marketing. It’s as if the web has become the singular representation of  of marketing and sales tactics.

While your web site is important, it is a mistake to consider it as the only factor in reaching prospects and converting them to customers. For most companies the web is a critical focal point during the early stages of your sales process for prospects. The trouble arises when the we attempt to make the site everything to everyone. I’m not saying there are many different uses for a corporate web site (service, support, education, social interaction, etc.) but most of my clients expect their site to primarily help drive sales. Whatever you are trying to achieve with your site, the key is to have a clear understanding of what it the end game is and then focus your efforts accordingly.

If you want your site to contribute to successful sales, you have to understand how it functions in the sales cycle, align the content with how you sell,  and take into account customer evaluation and buying criteria.

This is not as easy as it sounds. One thing that makes this idea difficult to implement, and indeed one of the main reasons most sites are deficient in this area is that the wrong people control the content on the site. Most companies put the marketing or I.T. department in charge of the company’s web site. Neither of these groups typically have any incentive to collaborate with the sales team so the content of the site often conflicts with how sales functions. A better method is to assign someone who can lead a cross functional team in a strategic process to determine the optimum approach. My process creates a collaborative environment between sales, marketing and I.T. to first establish a foundation of requirements and desired outcomes. Then, we work to align these requirements with how prospects typically use the web to vet potential suppliers.

In the majority of B2B and B2C selling environments, the web site is the primary tool a potential customer uses to decide if you qualify for their business. Once a buyer is aware of your company (either through search engines or via referral or other demand generation work) the first thing they do is check your site. My research indicates that customers visit potential suppliers sites initially with three primary questions in mind:

Do your company’s capabilities match my needs?
Is this company capable, credible and trustworthy?
Should I include them on my short list of potential suppliers?

If you pass these initial tests, you will make the short list. If you don’t, you’ll never know because the prospect won’t inform you of your failure. They will simply move on to your competitor.

The typical B2B buyer spends only minutes at your site with the vast majority never making it past your home page. You need to make sure you’ve at least answered the above questions and offered some incentives to invite the visitor deeper into the site or to contact your sales team. One way you can do this is to offer special reports or other valuable information in return for revealing the visitor’s identity (usually in the form of an email address or other contact information). Many of these people won’t be ready to buy yet, so offering a subscription to an electronic publication is effective to maintain an ongoing conversation with people who have shown some level on interest in what you offer.

At the same time, your site must be attractive, professional and easy to navigate. Visual organization is key – if the visitor is presented with a chaotic layout of graphics, text, widgets and other elements they will simply determine that it is too much work to evaluate your company and with a click of the mouse, they are gone. This is where a professional designer is worth his or her weight in gold.

If your site aligns with your marketing and sales processes and delivers the right messaging at the right time, you will pass more buyer’s tests, make more short lists and, ultimately, more sales.

03
Aug
08

What do customers really want?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that your customers don’t really care about the latest whiz-bang feature of your new whatchamathingy. I’m also willing to bet they don’t really care that much about how big you are, how small you are, how nice your office is, what your vision or mission might be or how awesome your last ad campaign was. Over the course of doing many surveys and focus groups with executives and physicians, one thing has been absolutely consistent. Customers want you to solve their problems.

This could mean reducing costs or hassles (which usually incur added costs) or increasing revenue. But promising these broad concepts isn’t good enough. You need to understand your prospect’s and customer’s problems on a case-by-case basis. And you need to be up front about whether you can truly solve these problems.

For some of you, this might seem painfully obvious. However, take a look at all of your outward facing marketing and sales materials. Do they specifically state the types of problems you solve? Can your sales people articulate the types of problems typically faced by customers and align them with solutions?

For example, FedX solves the problem of getting packages to their destination when they “absolutely, positively have to be there overnight”. If your problem involves delivering a package within 24 hours, it is pretty clear that FedX is in the business of solving this specific problem.

Another way to look at this equation is to think of it in terms of pain. For example, when I am talking to a prospect I may explain my capabilities in terms of the types of pain the prospect might be feeling. For example:

I work with CEOs that are:
– concerned about a lack of new opportunities coming through the door.
– frustrated by spending on marketing programs that don’t seem to impact revenue goals
– angry that their sales and marketing teams are at odds resulting in missed opportunities

My point here is to deliver your message in emotional language the prospect can understand and to which he or she can relate on a personal level. A list of features just isn’t effective in created the gut-feel buying impulse that causes the buyer to choose your offerings over your competitors.

Whether you are selling electronic boxes or accounting services, at the end of the day your customer buys for his or her own reasons. Rarely do they buy based on logic. How can you tap the emotion of the buyer and clearly communicate how you can improve his or her condition?

18
Jul
08

The Way Not To Sell

I got this email today. It’s important that you know I’ve never talked to this person. I have heard of the company (who’s name has been changed because I’m feeling charitable at the moment) but this was sent to me cold. I’ve added my comments. The original email is in yellow. (I’m just sharing this with you – I didn’t respond to the email. Yet.) And, before you comment, yes, I’m a big jerk.

Dear Pete,

Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you regarding Acme Business Services.

I haven’t given him the opportunity – I’ve never spoke to him or heard of him. Nice trick though.

I’m happy to introduce myself as the Regional Director of Business Development for your area.


Good for you. I’m glad you are happy. Do you want a cookie?

I have been serving the market research industry for over a decade and am well acquainted with our services and how they might align with your particular service needs.

I’m glad he’s well acquainted with his own services. How could he know what my “particular service needs” are? We’ve never met or talked. He probably doesn’t know that all my clients are sky diving nuns with eating disorders.

Please review the attached marketing information and be sure to contact me if you have any questions. I will follow up this email with a phone call within the coming weeks to explore in detail how Acme Business Services can be positioned as a valuable partner.

Oh, boy! I can’t wait to read your marketing doublespeak about why you are so great. I can’t wait for your call so you can tell me even more about your company – in detail!

I look forward to serving you with enthusiasm and passion,

Is he hitting on me?

making our commitment of world class service a top priority.

Uh, what? You want to make your commitment a top priority? I’m totally committed to my top priority of giving up donuts but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep horking them down. I bet you offer excellent excellence too.

Thank you very much.

Don’t mention it.

Warmest regards,

John Smithe
Director, Business Development
Acme Business Services

This email violates everything I know about selling. It starts with a trick – implying that we’ve spoken and I “gave him the opportunity”. I’ve given you nothing and it’s unlikely that I will once you’ve insulted my intelligence.

Next, the message jumps right in talking all about the sender. How happy he is to have a job and to tell me about it. He goes on to say how smart he is about what his company does. I don’t care how much you know about YOUR business – tell me how much you know about MY business!

It just goes downhill from there.

My point is not to be mean to the well meaning sender of this email. My goal here is to help you see a better way to ignite a potential relationship.

In fact, I wouldn’t even send a message like this. I would make a personal phone call and ask permission to take 30 seconds to find out if the person is even remotely interested in talking to me. And if he or she is, the conversation will be all about his/her needs. Then, together we can decide if there is any point in starting a relationship.

And you would never hear me talking about my passion, commitment to excellent excellence or my stupendously superfluous synergy.

That is all.

17
Jul
08

The Magic Marketing Bullet – revealed

For years now I’ve kept this highly guarded secret to myself because I didn’t want to let clients in on something that would surely render me useless to them. It’s not like I haven’t been asked a thousand times to reveal this secret – it comes up all the time in various forms but the essence of the question sounds like “What is The Magic Bullet marketing thing I can do to instantly transform my business into a customer acquisition powerhouse?”

I know it is selfish of me to keep this magic to myself – after all, a guy’s got to eat and pay the rent. A client who knew this sacred information would know how easy it is to dominate competition and grow their customer list and that doesn’t make economic sense for the marketing and advertising industry. In fact, the Industry has kept this information locked up in secret, hidden file cabinets for years to ensure they have an unending stream of clients who will pay them to reveal bits and pieces of The Magic Bullet – but never revealing the entire Bullet. I can’t say I blame them either.

So, lucky reader, I am going to risk banishment from the marketing industry by revealing what nobody will ever tell you – the secret behind The Magic Marketing Bullet. Are you ready? Are you sitting down?

THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET.

That’s right. You read that correctly. No magic. No secret sauce. No universal inspiration. Nothing. Zip.

I think what is so intriguing about The Magic Bullet is the idea that you could just do one simple thing and and it would instantly create demand and drive customers crazy to the point where they can’t wait to write a check. But nothing in business (or in life) works this way.

A successful marketing program is implemented on many fronts – more like a constant stream of highly targeted bullets. No single tactic drives the success of the program – although certain tactics will rise to the top in terms of effectiveness. The real secret (if it even is a secret) is that the bullets will all work together to produce an effect that is greater than the sum of the parts. Some will hit the target, some won’t and some will ricochet and eventually hit a target.

Marketing and sales programs don’t just happen. These days building a strong client base takes time and is hard work. It’s not a sprint race – more like a slog through an obstacle course. A lot of the work isn’t sexy or fun – it just has to be done.

I wish I had some Magic to share. If we meet, I can probably pull a quarter out of your ear or shove a salt shaker through the table but if you need me to transform your business, that’s going to be a bit more work.

The good news is: It is totally possible. We just need to commit to the process and execute consistently. Maybe that’s the magic bullet right there. What do you think?

10
Jul
08

Chinks in the armor

I hate buying stuff. It’s like I have to be some kind of Sherlock Holmes to select a vendor and not get burned. Sometimes it’s easy to eliminate the jokers – they show up unprepared, don’t listen, and generally talk their way out of a sale. Others are not so easy. They say the right things, offer up gleaming case studies, have good sales skills, polished shoes and generally seem like a good option. The trouble is that usually there are several companies who have very similar capabilities and good sales pitches. How do I make the right decision?

Most business buyers experience similar things when going through a selection process. Their process is typically not one of inclusion. Instead it is a process of elimination – evaluating tangible information and leveraging intuition to determine who makes the short list and who doesn’t.

You might think they are hanging on every word of your carefully crafted sales pitch but the fact is they are looking for what I call “chinks in the armor”. Those tell-tale gaps that send the message that you may not be as good as you say.

The most common mistakes that kill sales

1. Sales person appearance and demeanor.
This one might seem obvious but I’m surprised at how often this fundamental rule is ignored by sales people. From wrinkled clothing and scuffed shoes to unshaven faces and renegade nose hairs, your personal appearance tells a story – and not necessarily the story you want. My personal downfall is my tendency to let my hair get too long. Some people look good with long hair, I look homeless.

2. Lack of sales process
One thing I’ve learned is that customers want to know that I know what to do next during the sales process. The very fact that I have a defined process sets me apart from competing interests that simply go in and sell, sell, sell! My ability to avoid “selling” and simply let the customer buy sends a strong message that I’m organized, I know what I’m doing and my focus is on them.

3. Unprofessional marketing communications
I know many companies that have mastered the above issues. Then, they whip out a brochure or send the prospect to a web site that looks and reads like it was created by a sixth grader. Ouch. For most prospects, this communicates volumes about the seller. This major mistake implies that the seller is unsophisticated, low quality, doesn’t care about its image or products, or worse. For most B-B sellers, the web site or a brochure doesn’t do the selling. However, it can enhance or destroy your chances to outclass competitors depending on how it reads, looks and functions. Perhaps you could get away with a crappy web site back in 1996, but not anymore.

4. Unresponsive people
When someone calls your office do they get a crazy maze of automated options or do they talk to a real person? Either option can ruin your chance at a sale. For example, a well thought out automated phone system that allows callers to quickly reach the person they need is fine. However, if it is confusing, doesn’t work right or worse yet, simply dumps callers into voicemail with no option to dial “0” for an operator, you are toast. Likewise, if your human receptionist speaks like he’s just graduated from second grade, doesn’t know your web address, can’t articulate what the company does or sounds like a zombie, it sends a negative message.

5. Conflicting messaging
If you are trying to convince the world that you are “all that” but every time they hear or see something about your company it’s a different message, your prospect’s doubt will grow. It’s understandable that sales and marketing messages can change over time, the key is to make sure that you update your information everywhere it appears. Not easy, but critical!

Sales is a game of gaining incremental edges over competition. The smallest things can defeat you if you aren’t paying attention. We are all guilty of this at some point. It’s a challenge for large and small companies alike. You’ll never be perfect, but if you pay attention, you can be just that much better than your competitors – and that’s all it takes to win.




Who is Pete Monfre

CLICK HERE to visit my web site

I'm a serial entrepreneur, marketing and media guy, raconteur, writer, producer and consultant. I write this little blog to help you unravel the mysteries of marketing and selling, to expose the silliness that masquerades as marketing and help you make better decisions that will grow your business. And I have fun with it. Why not comment? That way we can have a conversation. Or better yet, hop on over to my web site and drop me a line.

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