Dance Like Carlton Banks!

A Lesson In Professional Salesmanship from Carlton Banks

Who doesn’t love a great Happy Dance when you finally close the deal? I mean, it makes you want to twist…shout…knock yourself out to get that sale, doesn’t it? Well, sometimes.

I’m going to be honest. If you are in sales (HINT:  YOU ARE.) then actually getting a sale is part of the deal.  It is the price of admission.  It is what you are SUPPOSED to do.

When a player scores a touchdown, too often they act like they have never been to the end zone before.  Is scoring not what players are supposed  to do when they are on offense?  If anyone should do a touchdown dance, it should be a defensive player who pulls off the interception…THEN runs down the field to score.

If you are in sales and consider yourself a professional…when you get a sale- act like you have been there before.  One exception…if this is THE BIG DEAL you have worked painstakingly on for some time….May you dance like Carlton Banks (and may your boss react like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air)!

CONNECT!

Humility and Leadership

Two Traits Every Manager Should Possess

No matter your degree of experience in dealing with them, when I say Manager, a very specific image pops into your mind.

Some managers are good.  Those are the ones you would run through a brick wall for, just because they hinted you might be able to do it.

Other mangers are bad.  You know the type.  Do you remember that manager who was “supposed to spend time with you” each month?  They would show up on the scheduled day, sit in front of you and ask “So, what do you want to talk about today?”…and the first thought in your head was “…How fast can I get you out of my office!”  I had one of those once.

Currently, I’m spending time with a sales team in a coaching & leadership role. In an effort to better understand what activities our respective team members are  regularly doing, I have committed to meet with them, one-on-one, each month to listen, coach, and offer direction, where I can add value. One of the team members, though, had one of the best pieces of advice when he suggested, early in each quarter, I should be asking each team member “How is your NEXT quarter shaping up?”  What a simple phrase to illustrate the intention of any sales manager– how to keep your troops focused on moving forward by planning ahead for success instead of simply reacting to the crisis of the day!

I thanked him.  This week, I just may have learned more than I shared.

Now, are you one of the leaders people are fighting to work FOR or are people running as fast as they can to get AWAY from you?  If  you are the latter, it just might be time to talk less and listen more.

Go get ’em!

How to Fix The Most Critical Mistake In Sales

Runner in Hamster WheelThe older I become, the more convinced I am that everything runs in “cycles”.  Music you once loved, eventually comes back around.  Sports teams you follow, no matter how good they are today, inevitably wind up in a disappointing “rebuilding year”.  Sales, once coming in as fast as you can take the orders, eventually slow to a crawl…along with the commission checks.  And that is when it happens. The critical mistake most sales people eventually make…  They dust off the same old presentation they’ve always given, complete with what they think their customer, prospect, or suspect already knows about their product or solution.

Take a close look at your sales team.  If you are a sales team of one, it is time to be completely honest with yourself.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get back to basics.  Instead of dusting off the same old script or [worse] old power point slide deck, start with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. Jot down what it is you really want your customer to know. How long has it been since you reminded your customer how your company found success in the first place? Remember that this is your story to tell…so tell it your way!
  2. Set aside some time to practice.  Yes.  Practice.  Your favorite band still has rehearsals. Can you imagine a top performing sports team relying on their raw talent to get them to the championship game?  I know a LOT of successful people who use their commuter time practicing speeches; rehearsing upcoming, difficult conversations; and simply talking through issues they are attempting to work out – even if they are talking to themselves. [You will be surprised how helpful it is to hear yourself OUT LOUD…but more on that in a minute.]
  3. Creativity needs space.  Once you have sketched out the outline for your presentation, planned that critical conversation, and even practiced it a few times, put your notes away for a couple of days.  Let the ideas steep.  During your commute, I challenge you to turn OFF the radio and just drive. Let your mind wander into and out of that presentation.  Think about the message you are wanting to get across, at a higher level, and consider the phases of the presentation.  I like to call this the 20,000 ft view.  The details are not important, just focus on the “bigger picture”.
  4. Record yourself delivering your presentation. Audio is good.  Video is better. Video of you in front of a “live audience” is perhaps the best.
  5. Critique the presentation. This is the hardest part for most people. It is time to set aside your ego, and remember that the ultimate goal is to make such a favorable impression in the room, the buyer will not have  a decision to make, because they will be too busy placing the order.  You will want to review your video three times:
    1. Listen only.  Turn your back to the screen and simply listen to the presentation.  Keep a timer handy, and make notes of your impressions while you write down where you were in the presentation as you had those thoughts. Examples:  “1:42 – sounded uncertain” or “3:02 – confusing explanation”.
    2. Watch only.  For the second pass, watch the video of your presentation without any audio.  Make notes of what your gestures, expressions and body language are saying.  Do you look like you are enjoying the presentation?  Do you appear trustworthy?  How much are you moving around?  Do you display confidence, or discomfort?  How about 90 seconds later?

    3. Watch with audio.  On the third pass, you’ll finally watch and listen at the same time, to your presentation.  Make a third set of notes.  It should be fairly easy at this point to know what areas of the presentation need the most work.

Feedback accompanied by a willingness to re-tell your story in a new way helps to keep your message fresh, and your topic / product relevant.  Stop relying on “tenure” and your “years in the business” to get you by.  Ego may have gotten you here, but the most successful salespeople know it won’t keep you here. Avoid that critical mistake, and you will have more business than you can handle.

What Is Connection?

We’re gathering input for a new project on connection and need your help!  Include your Twitter handle, and we’ll give you a shout out, too!

How to Stop Kidding Yourself About Your Sales

There are all kinds of numbers.  Look around you, numbers are sales projections, sports scores, speed limits, lottery numbers – heck, singles are always trying to “get someone’s digits”.  Numbers can tell a story.  Scratch that…numbers tell THE story.

Selling old timers proclaim, with great fanfare, “It’s a numbers game.”  They are only half right. Numbers are just numbers, until you understand the story.

The Facts About Sales Numbers:

1)   If you have good sales numbers, as a salesman, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Sales (be you a solo practitioner or part of a sales team in any industry) is the lifeblood of your industry.  Sales pays salaries, drives profits, and keeps your boss happy. If you want to be left alone, in most situations, simply sell.

2)   Why do I have to fill out activity reports? Don’t they trust me?  Owners, investors and management often focus on this item- but only in the absence of sales.  If the sales are not rolling in, management is forced to seek answers the question “why”. It is only natural to ask, “what is our sales force doing”.  It’s the prudent question to ask, but often rubs salespeople the wrong way.

3)   What’s in the pipeline?  While activity reports are a diagnostic tool helpful when mentoring or coaching a salesperson, it is the sales pipeline that begins to tell the real story.  It is tempting to jump to the belief that the only way to track this is by implementing a strict Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system like Salesforce, Act!, or SugarCRM.  In reality, the fastest way to get a handle on how effective your efforts are, can be as simple as writing down known opportunities with pencil and paper.  (Download this Free Sales Project Template  and use it to document opportunities).

4)   Who needs a calendar, it is all in my head! You may be able to remember the facts, but how certain are you to recall exactly the right information at the right time to ensure you never miss an opportunity to close the deal?  Successful salespeople know follow up is the key to the kingdom.  There is no place for ego vs. calendar.  Calendar wins.  If nothing else, having your next steps outlined on a calendar for easy recall just might supplant your bosses seeming micromanagement in #2 or #3.   (I once turned a $400,000 lost opportunity into a $3,500,000 account—just by putting a follow-up reminder on the ONE DAY that customer had to re-evaluate their decision.)

5)   If you do not like activity reports, sales funnels, and organizational management tools, or the like, see #1!  And learn how to pray.  Seeing as I checked my sales ego long ago and opted instead for a lifelong commitment to continuous improvement, I’m going to continue reading blogs like this one, and attending meetings to learn to sell even better. (If you read this before Sept 15th, 2012, you should make plans to JOIN ME!) 

There is one more way to make certain you give it your best this week.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Publicly state below what you are going to do different this week to improve your sales, and we will check back with you in a week to see what effect it had on your success. If you really believed what you already do was working, you probably wouldn’t still be reading this article…so start typing!

How to Fire Customers and Make More Money

Do the Math and You Will Quickly See Why It Is Time to Fire Customers and Make More Money

THE LOGIC

Face it.  Your time is incredibly valuable.  Let’s cut to the chase and do a couple of quick calculations:

  1. Tally up  your total overhead costs (salary, utilities, rent, supplies, equipment, licences, etc…) for one week.
  2. Next, add up the total revenues earned last week (include sales or commission, pro-rated fees, other revenue).
  3. Subtract OVERHEAD out of REVENUE.
  4. Divide that number by the total number of truly productive meetings you held last week.

What you are left with is the true average result of each meeting last week.   As a formula, the calculation looks like this:

(REVENUE – OVERHEAD)
# of SALES MEETINGS 

THE REALITY

In my experience of working with thousands of business people seeking the mythical “silver bullet” to success, I have found that most people are less than honest with themselves about how good of a job they are doing.  Many of the financial professionals I have known over the years are some of the worst offenders.  It is very easy to make oneself appear “busy“.  The truly successful, however, focus on being “productive“.

It Isn’t Always About The Money

Who deserves your time and attention?  Certainly, your family and friends are in that category.  Your best clients should be as well.  That’s why you need to fire some of them.

Several years ago, there was a gentleman who chose to invest a significant amount of his retirement money with me.  We discussed a strategy that was appropriate for someone of his risk-tolerance, considered his expected number of years until retirement, other investments he held, and he agreed to open an account where he would pay me on a fee-basis rather than paying a commission on purchases or sales in his account.  He was particularly fond of the fact that his interests (growing the value of his account) were aligned with mine (the greater the value of the account, the greater the dollars I would earn as his investment advisor).  There was only one problem.  As soon as we opened his account and transferred in the cash, he forgot what we had discussed.  He froze up.  He wouldn’t agree on any of my recommendations and wouldn’t allow me to put the money to work in the markets.  That said, he was paying me fees (see “REVENUE” above) in return for my time.  The problem was, I was spending hours trying to track him down on the phone, attempting to catch him at his office, and discussing with him what we needed to do for his account.  In the end, despite the fact he was paying me to not take my advice, I had to fire him as a client. It was the best move I could have made.

What’s In It For You?

Donald Trump ApprenticeFreeing yourself from the binds of a customer or client who only wants your advice and attention, but remains unwilling or unable to act upon it, is an amazing experience.  Sometimes you have to fire customers. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you did not fire them earlier.  Suddenly, you have more time to tend to the the accounts with whom you have great relationships–The clients who take your advice.  The ones most likely to give you leads and referrals (the ultimate endorsement from a client) to help you be more successful.  You’ll have less stress, more enjoyment for the job you do, and maybe…just maybe…make more money.

Now, it’s time to call that customer and tell them, “It’s not you…It’s me!”

Leave a “Client, You’re Fired” story or other great practice growth tip in the Comment section below!

How to Increase Your Sales with Any Client in Under 15 Minutes Per Day

Building highly successful (and more profitable) customer relationships can be accomplished in less than 15 minutes per day.

The hint: Follow your customer’s company and industry better than they do.

Let’s cut to the chase:  There is tremendous value in understanding each of your customer’s corporate objectives and projects on the horizon as if your life depended on it.  Waiting for someone to ASK for help with a project often puts you behind the 8-ball and more importantly, behind your competition.

Setting your home page of your web browser to default to a page centered on your target industry or the largest city in your territory.  One great example is to visit bizjournals.com and choose your city.  Why not set up Google alerts for accounts in your territory?  If you are a Twitter user, customize a digest of relevant information like this one (it’s FREE to set one up) by IdeaCharger.  By keeping an eye on a particular industry or market, both ideas work to help you leverage public information that will increase your overall market intelligence of your target industry, customers & territory. Scanning headlines relevant to your sales efforts can easily be done in under 15 minutes per day.

When you locate a relevant article, give some thought to how what you are reading is useful from a strategic standpoint. Ask yourself:

  • Do I know decision makers at all companies involved?
  • What opportunities does this provide right away?
  • What opportunities could this provide in the future?
  • How could I make sure I am PROACTIVE in keeping relevant information in front of my contacts at these companies?

Information like this can and should be automated, making it easy to quickly scan or mark to read more, later.  Keeping an eye on information about customers and prospects can lead you to open doors….often with big piles of money on the other side.

Stop Giving (and Getting) Referrals that SUCK!

Guest Post by:
Mac Cassity
Mac The Knife Marketing

[Mac is a personal friend of mine from…let’s just say WAY back!  When we re-CONNECTed and I learned what he was up to these days, it was clear to me: He understands the Power of Connection! Be sure to leave your thoughts and comments below after you read Mac’s post!
-Cooksey]

I know, we’ve all heard it before…referrals are the BEST way to get high quality, easily converting business, right? That is, unless the referrals you are getting absolutely suck! The fact is, many (if not most) business people don’t even understand exactly what a true referral is. This results in quite a bit of wasted time and effort and not NEARLY as much actual business being transacted. A high quality referral IS like gold, but, do you even know what a high quality referral is?

My definition is simple: A high quality referral is when you introduce someone whose product or service you have faith in to someone you think could use that product or service. BAM, that’s it. Notice the word introduce is highlighted. That introduction is the secret to making referrals work. Unfortunately, all too often, we encounter a scenario like the one below:

“Hey Mac, I have a great referral for you!”

“Cool, lay it on me!”

“Well, I was driving in to work today, I saw a billboard for a new business opening up on main street, they could probably use your marketing services…you should call them!”

“Uh…yeah…sure…thanks.” (SUCK!)

The scenario above represents MANY encounters I have had in so called “referral” groups that I belonged to. Listen folks, you might mean well, but this info does NOT equal a referral. Referrals must be handed off. Another one that kills me is the “Just call him and tell him I told you to call.” Again, I say…SUCK! Most of us have higher opinions of ourselves than others and just because you think someone loves you doesn’t mean they want you telling others to call them and ask for business! Not cool. These phone calls are often little better than cold calls and in my opinion are not worth my time. You might think this sounds a bit harsh, but that’s because I expect what I give, and here’s how I give referrals:

  1. 1.      I personally introduce two individuals at a networking event and tell them why I think they should do business together.
  2. 2.      I arrange a 3-way phone call and do the same as the above (when a face to face meeting is not possible)

And lastly (but usually the most common due to obvious limitations)

  1. 3.      I email the two parties and do a “virtual introduction” thereby connecting all 3 of us as part of the referral. This one works great, is easy and quick to do, and VERY effective.

So there you have it. THAT is how you give a referral that doesn’t suck. Oh, and as for those people who give you referrals that do? Simply say to them,

“Hey, let me ask you a quick question…if I know someone that I think would be a good client for you, do you mind if I introduce them to you personally?” (they will always answer with a resounding “ABSOLUTELY!”) Once they do, just smile and ask,

“Well…do you mind doing the same for me?”

They will get the point and you will have helped train one more business professional to start giving referrals that don’t SU…you get the idea.

 

Mac Cassity aka MAC THE KNIFE runs a successful content creation business,  Mac the Knife Articles  and an online/offline marketing business, Mac the Knife Marketing. He has developed an extensive client base that includes major automobile manufacturers, universities, Well known speakers/authors, and more than a few “mom and pop” shops. Mac’s blog, www.MacCassity.com, helps burgeoning offline marketers land and profit from brick and mortar businesses. Mac is offering his successful eBook TURNING CONVERSATIONS TO CLIENTS right now for just $1. CLICK HERE to grab a copy for yourself!

Is Your “Pink” More Than Skin-Deep? – Thoughts on marketing to a female audience

GUEST POST by:
Kathy Piersall, Owner
A Blue Moon Arts, LLC

[October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I’ve asked Marketing Expert, Kathy Piersall to share her thoughts on building a marketing CONNECTion with women.–Scott]

Don’t just make it pink.

How many companies have slapped a coat of pink on their product, or suddenly started supporting breast cancer charities, when neither of these actions has any obvious, real connection to their brand? (“Pinkwashing“, anyone?) Women have been the special targets of marketing and advertising campaigns for decades, because marketers often assumed they controlled most expenditures for their households. So women have learned to spot condescension a mile away. Find out if women are truly a realistic target market for what your company offers. If it’s reasonable and profitable to connect with the female market, be sincere. Build genuine connections.

Allow time for discussion

Women tend to ask more questions, especially at the beginning of the sales cycle. Your female prospective clients may want to talk about the pros and cons more. Don’t feel threatened by this. It’s not confrontation or conflict. It’s your opportunity to re-emphasize your strengths and get more insight into what hopes or worries motivate them. Establish trust this way early, and you’re likely to spend less time answering questions later in the process.

“Female” does not equal “spouse” or “with kids”

As of 2005, more women are living without a spouse, according to the New York Times. And according to a 2006 U.S. Census Bureau report, roughly 20% of women 35 to 44 years old have never had kids. What does this mean? Make sure your company’s marketing speaks authentically to a female audience, and doesn’t view a woman as just a portal to gain access to a hypothetical spouse, or her 2.5 children.

“Busy” is not the magic word

The word “busy” is as overused as the color pink when trying to attract the attention of a female audience. Many marketers seem to think if they start their messages with “Gee, we’re all so busy these days!!”, every woman in earshot will drop what she’s doing, sigh in sympathy, and give her full attention to whatever statement follows. Sure, you could argue that women tend to feel obliged to take on a wider variety of tasks in both their personal and professional lives than men or children do. But if “busy” doesn’t mesh with the rest of your marketing messages, then it’s just a fake attempt to create connection. And it’s a weak start to the dialogue your company really needs to have with women, if you hope to create a relationship that’s rewarding for both sides.

The Challenge

Let us hear about other marketing miscues you have noticed, below.  Perhaps you can:

  • Share anadvertisement, commercial, or other marketing message you have seen that simply “missed the mark”, in your opinion.
  • What might that company have thought about BEFORE they spent money to send out a message?
  • Provide an example of a marketing message that resounded with you, leaving you with a feeling that the product or service CONNECTed with you, and was completely relevant.

Visit Kathy’s company on the web at: www.abluemoonarts.com
Follow @abluemoonarts on Twitter
Check out A Blue Moon Arts, LLC on Facebook

Why Customers are More Than Just Sales- A Lesson Learned

Jerry Sevier

Guest Post by:

Jerry D. Sevier, Founder
ExamShout Mobile Certification Study Solutions
A division of Gensev, Inc.

Customers are more than just a figure in your sales log. Many companies have learned that they are an incredible resource for information. They can tell you when you aren’t doing the right thing or validate you are, in fact, moving in the right direction. However, I have recently discovered they can do even more. The simple act of reaching out to your customer base to honestly CONNECT can have profound results.

Before I get too involved, I’d like to take a moment and thank Scott Cooksey for the opportunity to make this guest appearance on CookseyConnects. I have known Scott for over fifteen years as he and I worked together in what was my first professional job in the Information Technology (IT) industry. Today, I own a successful business that sells mobile applications for devices like Android and iPhone.  [No “thanks” necessary, Jerry!  You are certainly WELCOME and I offer you many congratulations on your continued success! – Scott]

Since moving away from that small Oklahoma town where we first met, we’ve each been busy learning our life-lessons and establishing our careers. I had, for many years, a very successful consulting career providing software development services to many Fortune 500 companies all over the country. To put it simply, companies paid me a lot of money for what was, in essence, my opinion on strategy, direction and design on things like e-commerce and enterprise computer systems.

About two years ago, my wife asked me a pretty innocent question: “If you can help these companies make millions of dollars, why can’t you do that for yourself?” Little did we know, this simple question would change our lives forever. Since then, we have formulated a small consulting company that specializes in Mobile/Smart Phone applications. I figured, with all of my experience, ability to program, and such a thorough understanding of the industry, how could I fail, right?

We did everything by the book. We created the business plan, I researched our target market, I studied my competition and formulated a design for our software. I added many features that our competitors had “overlooked”. Because of this, what should have been a three month development cycle was dramatically extended. We launch almost a year later than expected.

Upon the software release, sales were very disappointing. Just like I learned as a consultant, I went back into business mode, modified our software design, and released a much-improved update. Still, sales were flat. I was frustrated and we were looking at losing everything we had invested in a venture that was clearly heading towards failure.

Out of desperation, I decided to ask my customers directly for their input. Instead of drafting some fancy e-mail campaign, I printed off a customer list and spent an entire week doing nothing but sending a personalized email to each and every one of the people who had purchased our program. As one then another responded, I’d immediately write them back. Before I knew it, I had an open dialog with dozens of our customers. I made responding to them my number one priority. Many of them were shocked that I would respond within minutes even at 2:00 am.

All while I was working with the customers, I was formulating how we could revamp our marketing strategy. We could do this… we could do that. Here’s how we could change our software. My mind was busy putting together the strategy. Then, something remarkable happened.

Sales began to explode! We were seeing sales at a rate we had never imagined.

But wait! We hadn’t done anything yet! How were sales skyrocketing before we’d made any real changes?

I am ashamed to say, it took me a bit to realize what had happened. It turns out, when I reached out and connected with my customers, I had unknowingly provided them with a feature that none of my competition had… a two-way relationship. Their input mattered, I did my best to change what I could and explain what I couldn’t. In exchange, they began to tell their friends about us, and a process was born that spread like wild-fire.

Customers are not just those statistics that you read on the daily sales log. They are real, hard working people like you and me. If you can reach out, develop a real conversation, you can empower them. And, more often than not, that new power will be used to help you take your business to the next level.

To this day, I attempt to send a custom, personalized letter to each and every one of my customers. While this is becoming more and more difficult to keep up with due to our new found success, it is a process I will never stop.

The Challenge

As a final note to each of you reading this: If you work in a service oriented industry, I challenge you to reach out to some of your customers and/or clients today and honestly ask them for their input, suggestions, and comments. I promise, the harder you work to respond to them, the more success you will find.

Thank you and happy connecting!

Visit Jerry’s Company on the Web at: www.examshout.com
Follow @examshout on Twitter