6 Questions Salespeople Need to Ask Themselves

If you are a salesperson, you spend your days asking other people questions. However, there are 6 questions salespeople need to ask themselves. These questions will help you sell to people that are ready to purchase, sell from a position of power, and improve your client relationships. (more…)

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What to put on your business card

I received a business card from a networking event. I do what I always do, went to my CRM to add it to my contact list. I wanted to send them a “thank you for coming to our event” email. There was a problem. No last name. I have never, in my career as a sales person, seen the likes of this. I can usually catch someones first name because its usually simple. Bob, Frank, Susie, etc and this one was no different. A simple first name. I know they told me their last name, however I can’t remember much less spell it. After hitting the ceiling about not knowing their last name, I thought, I will just look at their email address. Most of the time its first and last name (me excluded), and this is where I really shook my head. There was no email address…
<shocked face>
<more shocked face>
It is 2012. We email now. We connect on Linked In, Facebook, Google Plus, and ten others I have never heard of. Without the right information on your business card it is impossible for me to connect with you. If I can’t connect with you then I will never find out about you, learn to like you, exchange leads with you, let alone buy something from you.
I pitched the card in the trash. If they can’t make it easy for me to contact them, I’m not going out of my way to try to contact them.  I can’t even  find that person on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google plus. I don’t have their last name. I will not be giving my money to this person.
I still am shaking my head. They had a lot of other things on their card, such as what they do, name of business, and their website address. However, no last name and no email.
Here is what to put on your business card. You can have other information, graphics or pictures on your card, but you need to have the following. Also, it needs to be in a size, font and color that makes it easy to read.

Your name — First and Last.

I am disappointed that I have to point this out.  Do not hand out a business card with just your first name. Who do you think you are, Snuffleupagus?

Your Title.  

In business, your title is a filter that people can use when contact you.  Working at a small company I used to think I didn’t need to include my title.  I had so many different roles, and I didn’t want to be egotistical.  However, I realized that including my title wasn’t for my benefit, and that it helps people decide how to interact with me.

Your company name.

I have had cards before with no company name.  Please don’t had me your personal card.  I want your business card.  If I meet you while networking I want to hire you or refer you as a business not a individual.  Also, don’t hand me a stack of cards, pick one card.  Don’t be the Dealer.

Your address.

I might want to come by and see you in person or on Google.  I understand you might have a home office, then put a PO box.  At an absolute minimum put your city and state.

Your phone number and email address.

You need to make it as easy to contact you as possible.  Some things are best communicated over the phone, and somethings are best communicated using email.

Your website address.

You must have one of these.  We can discuss how you succeed without a website, but you will lose the argument.  Have a website, even if it is a simple one or a template.  WordPress.com is more than acceptable.  You don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars, but it is important that you have a web presence so that I can get to know you.
When you hand me your business card please make it easy for me to contact you.  Until next week, Happy Hunting!

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Use Email Signatures, They are Important

I get emails all the time from clients, potential clients, and people who want me to buy something from them. What constantly amazes me is the lack of email signatures. I know for a fact that all email programs allow you to make an email signature with your name, rank, email address, phone number, Skype number, LinkedIn page, web page, blog address, and business address.

Why then, don’t people use them? It can’t be because they are lazy. Not having one loses you business.  After all, it is not always best to respond to an email with an email, especially when a topic is new, complicated, or sensitive. (more…)

Rethinking why and where to network.

Its amazing when you have a target market how it changes everything you do. I realized a few weeks ago, some of the networking I was doing was not a good use of my time. The problem was not that there was a lack of good people there, but rather my target market wasn’t there. It was time to adapt. All networking has an expiration date, but this was different. I looked at my sales philosophy, the one written on a sticky note behind my computer that tempers everything I now do, and realized I needed to change how I network. The sticky note reads: (more…)

How to Build a Small Business Call Center

Everyday, the CAN team interacts with clients, mentors, and friends who are leaders in their fields, and we started this series to share their expertise.
As a part of our research I interviewed Nathan Waite.  Nathan is the National Sales Director for SEMCAT Quoting Software headquartered in Lincoln, NE.  I found his advice helpful and I wanted to share it.
Hire Competitive & Passionate People:  When screening candidates, Nathan ranks competitiveness as the most important criteria for hiring new salespeople.  He has found that salespeople with competitive spirits are energized by quotas instead of being exacerbated by them.  However, he is quick to point out that a competitive spirit needs to be tempted by emotional intelligence.  Nathan doesn’t tolerate any drama on his team and salespeople need to be able to stay in the game even when they are down.  The third criteria is that people have to be passionate about SEMCAT’s products, since they are going to spend hour after hour talking about SEMCAT’s product.  However, passion about the product is different and more important than technical understanding.  Nathan has found that if people are passionate and competitive they can learn exactly how everything works.
Leader Planks not Leader Boards:  Competitive and passionate people love to know their score and the score of the company so Nathan uses call center metrics to keep his people motivated.  However, what used to be a Leader Board is now a Leader Plank.  Too many call center metrics are difficult to keep track of and distracted people instead of focused them.  Instead, The Leader Plank contains 5 call center metrics, current marketing yield, phone minutes per month, total sales per month, evaluations, and accolades.  The following is an example of SEMCAT”s Sales LeaderPlank:

Call Center Metrics LeaderPlank

3000 Minutes per Month: A salesperson’s job is to talk to as many customers as much as possible.  However, how much time is enough time.  For people that work a 9-hour day, there are 9,600 minutes of work per month, but how much of that can be spent on the phone with clients?  According to Nathan the answer is 3,000 or 31% of a 9am to 5pm Monday thru Friday work schedule.  At this rate salespeople will feel like they spend all of their time on the phone, but will also avoid burnout.
Power 50’s:  To help each sales person achieve their 3,000 minutes a month, Nathan employs what he calls “Power 50’s”.  Each Power 50 is 50 minutes long.  This is the longest an average salesperson can spend on the phone while being productive and without burning out.  He encourages his salespeople to block out 3 to 4 Power 50’s each day, and use that time call on clients.  They are supposed to treat that time like an appointment and focus all of their efforts on making phone calls.  They can return to calls, send emails and schedule other meetings around their Power 50’s.
Separate Offices:  While big companies can get away with putting a lot of salespeople into open floor call centers, Nathan recommends that if you have less than 12 people per room it is more cost effective to build individual offices.  The reason is because people are too polite.  He has found that salespeople will take turns when making phone calls or listen to other people calls and take notes.  This is especially true if their are 2 or 3 people in an office.  Basically if you have 2 salespeople in an office together, you would be better off just having one.  So if you are going to spend the money building a call center, hiring, equipping and training salespeople, maximize your investment, put them in their own office.  If salespeople have to share an office you can help them focus by giving them full headsets instead of just single ear headsets.
Phones, Headsets and Providers:  Call center telephony is an interesting industry.  There are so many options, little marketing, and no clear leaders.  Growing up without a telephone monopoly or a landline selecting a phone provider and hardware has been borderline infuriating.  I have struggled with the fact that desktop phone lacking any thought to user experience, with a “cutting edge” 16-bit color screen, that can only make voice calls can be more expensive than my computer, while Skype can make free video calls.  Nathan recommended using a Voice over IP (VoIP) system if you have an internet connection with significant upload and download speeds.  For example, CAN has 5mb upload and download for 30 people.  The VoIP provider that Nathan recommends is OnSip.  His plan for phone is simple.  He gets the phones for as cheaply as possible, and invests in great headsets.  For phones he recommends either the Polycom 430 (1 or 2 line, no backlight) or 550 (4+ lines, backlight), because they are simple and good enough to get the job done.  He recommends buying phones from eBay, because he can get them at about a 50% discount from retail and it doesn’t matter if they are used.  He uses the 50% savings to purchase each salesperson a Plantronics SupraPlus CS361N Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headsets.  Personally he uses a Plantronics CS 55 w/ Plantronics HL10, because he prefers to have one ear free in case of an emergency.
Click-to-Dial:  I asked Nathan if he had any recommendation and his only advice was to use a CRM with a Click-to-Dial feature.  This allows people to stay focused on communicating with clients instead of dialing.  In Nathan’s opinion this is the most important feature of his CRM, and it helps his salespeople meet the requirement of being on the phone for 3000 minutes per month.
Learn about building a dashboard for your call center, download “Dashboards: Take a closer look at your data.”
 

Take your call center even further. Learn how using our eBook, Predictive Analytics: The Future of Business Intelligence.

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How Not to Introduce Yourself

I got to cross something off my bucket list this year, I was a pastor in a wedding.  Two of my really close friends got married and I had the honor of introducing them as man and wife.  It was one of the more unique things I will ever get to do.  However, I was shocked because I realized that how easy it was to introduce the newly married couple, “I now pronounce you man and wife”, however it can be so difficult to introduce yourself properly at networking events.
If introducing a newly married couple is so easy, how is it so difficult to introduce yourself at a networking event?  It shouldn’t be hard or awkward.  Yet we go to an event to meet people who we have never met, who are there to meet people they have never met and are scared and clueless as to how to make our introductions.   Most of us gather up 20 seconds of insane courage and, more often than not, dive awkwardly into the introduction.  I have immense respect for courage, but there are good and bad ways to introduce yourself that will lead  to someone remembering you which is the point.  In my years of networking, I have experienced quite a variety of these introductions.  The following are some of the most “interesting”.

Lesson 1: Never let the act of introducing outshine the introduction.

None of the names used here are real because I did not remember the person or what they did.  That is partly the point.  I tell new networkers to always keep in mind that  1) most of us, including myself,  have done one of these things in our 20 seconds of insane courage,  2) networking is tricky, hard, and has a massive learning curve, and 3) wisdom is only gleaned from the lessons of those that have gone before us.

Lesson 2:  Wait until you are acknowledged before jumping in, and then stay and talk.

The Cannonball.  These guys are the worst.  There I am having a nice conversation with 4 of my friends when a person walks up to the table introduces themselves, in the middle of my sentence, to explain they are so and so and they are glad to meet me, and here is their card.  Then they leave without another word and do the same thing at the next table.  I believe this is the number one cause of sorting through cards at the end of the event and not being able to remember who half of them are.

Lesson 3: A card is not an introduction, throwing a card is like introducing yourself by yelling your name at someone as you drive by them.

The Dealer:  This one makes me laugh every time.  This is when someone walks up to you and your friends at a table and proceeds to introduce themselves as they toss you, not hand you, a card.  It goes something like this:

“Hi, I’m Rick”,”Hi, I’m Rick”,”Hi, I’m Rick”, “Hi, I’m Rick”  each time dealing you one of their business cards; not passing or handing, dealing.  Throwing a card at you.   I always laugh when “Rick” is done.  A table full of people now have your card, but are thinking to themselves “Did I just get introduced to someone?”  Its never a good sign when after you introduce yourself, people are still asking what just happened.

Lesson 4:  Use an excuse to refill your plate or cup to disengage from a Never Ending Story. It is good for you and them.

The Never Ending Story:  Great movie in 1984.  Horrible way to introduce yourself.  NES’ers think the only way to make you remember them is to talk to you.  The. Entire. Time.  I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten myself stuck with one of these.  I just have to excuse myself to go get more food or drink and pray they find someone else to stick to.  The hard part is when they find me again on the other side of the room and I have a full plate .  The best way of getting rid of them is by using a trick my friend Rick Sheahan came up with.  Give them a card, and tell them to call you.  It works because they think they have accomplished their goal; and, to date, not one of them has actually ever called.

Lesson 5: Always give cards face up with your name facing them so they can see, not just hear, what your name and your company’s name is.

The Reverse Pick Pocket:  This is my favorite networking story.  So there I was, eating another plate of food, avoiding the Never Ending Story, when a man I had never met, walked up and introduced himself.  While simultaneously shaking my right hand, slipped his card into my shirt pocket with his left hand.   I think I probably looked at him for a full 5 seconds before I could say anything.  What do you even say?  Thanks for card Mr.???  Wait, Let me get the card back out of my pocket so I can know what your name is.”  Unbelievable. He actually violated my personal space to try and give me his card.
A few things jump out at me about this story.  While being very brave, he was very lucky I don’t have much personal space.   I found it more funny than offensive, but he didn’t know that.  Try that on a different guy he might get knocked out.  We won’t even mention how wrong that would be for the opposite sex.

Lesson 6:  Its hard enough to coach people to give referrals.  People do not give them of their own free will.  Especially not to someone they just met.

The Double Carder:  This is when someone walks up to a complete stranger and hands them two cards so that you use the extra card to refer them.  This is way too forward.  Why should I refer you?  I just met you, I barely understand what you do, let alone, am I confident enough to refer you to people that value my opinion.  I do send double cards in Thank You notes and Christmas cards, but never as an introduction.

Lesson 7: It is hard remembering people at the end of the night.  It just becomes confusing when you have two companies.

The Two Card Monte:  Similar to the Double Carder, you get two cards from this person too.  This time, they are different.  One for each company this person has.  You then have to play the game similar to the one played on a box on a street corner for money.  Follow the queen, which company am I with, anyone can win.  I feel like if I hold out the right card and say “this one” I might have a chance to win $5 dollars.   Giving someone two cards does not promote two businesses.  It just confuses me.  Do I have to listen to two 30 second commercials and then pick which one fits my business.  What about me?  Do I get  to give a one minute elevator speech now?  I have always viewed people with two business cards from two companies at the same time as confused.  I don’t usually follow up with them.  Take that to heart, as I am not unique in how I handle this.

Lesson 8: I don’t know you. I don’t know if I need to know you. Let’s get pleasantries out of the way before we start with the power point.

The Used Car Salesman:  I shake my head in disbelief when I see this.  I don’t need your companies history, how great your products are, how many people are in your office, and all the awards you have won before I know if I need something you have.  Introductions are about introducing yourself, not making a presentation.  Let me figure out if I want a sales presentation before you make one.  If you are new to networking , you get a pass on this, but all the more reason I ask new networkers to read my posts on networking first.
Learning to introduce yourself can be hard.  Introductions take some planning and some courage to introduce yourself to someone you have never met.  I hope you understand that while funny, all of these introductions are serious gaffes that lead to zero second meetings.  In all of these cases, I don’t remember the names of the gaffers and I’m pretty sure that is the whole point of networking.  When in doubt go introduce yourself, try this: Shake someone’s hand, tell them your name, hand them your card, comment on the food, and see where the conversations goes.  It works for me.
 

Would you like to learn more about how you can improve your sales process using the power of predictive analytics?

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Be First and Influence the Purchasing Process

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine in the Hotel business in Omaha. It was an interesting conversation because she had lost a sale because her wall in the event space wasn’t green. Not environmentally green, I mean she didn’t get the job because her space wasn’t the color green. She was trying to figure out why someone would choose an event space based on the color. I explained to her that someone had  influenced the purchase process.

I imagine the conversation went something like this: (more…)

Cold Calling Works Again

Cold calls used to work, then they didn’t and now they work again. I used to agree with most people, that cold calls do not work. In fact, I established my sales career on referral networking. However, I have rediscovered the power of cold calling and how to do it effectively.  Networking is still important, but now I don’t have to wait around hoping for referrals.
Before the internet cold calling was effective because talking to salespeople was the most effective way for most people to learn about new products and services. As long as you had a good product, solid reputation and solid sales skills you could be successful. If someone wasn’t willing to take the time to listen to your sales pitch then they weren’t open to learning about the latest and greatest innovations that could transform their company.
However, the Internet made cold calling ineffective. It provided a more effective alternative to talking with salespeople that typically didn’t value people’s time and attention. Now, people had the ability to learn about new product and didn’t need someone to “sell it to them”.
Cold calling no longer worked because people no longer had problems to solve that they couldn’t solve using the Internet. They didn’t want a salesperson to create a problem. They certainly did not have time to listen to another sales pitch. If they had a problem they could solve it themselves, and this essentially took the power away from salespeople.
Salespeople transitioned from cold calling to networking and developing referral relationships. This worked because it established trust with prospects, and trust was something that the Internet lacked. The buyer did all the research to find possible solutions to meet their need, and then asked friends for a referral to someone they could trust to make answer a couple questions, provide a recommendation, and take the order. However, it is difficult to build a reliable sales system through networking and referrals, because you are relying on someone else to make the first move and then making sure that you are positioned in cahoots with the first person that they would ask for advice.
What cold calling and the Internet had allowed buyers to do is find products and services that they had the need, willingness and resources to purchase. The secrete is talking to the right people at the right time. With the right timing cold calling can be effective again, and sales people can once again activity take control of their pipeline.
Once we realized that timing was the secret, CAN set out on a mission to get our timing right. How could we build a system that would allow sales people to find leads when they had the need, willingness and resources to purchase?  The solution is Predictive Lead Generation. Predictive Lead Generation allows you to build a detailed profile of your ideal client that identifies what factors trigger prospects to have the need, willingness and resources to purchase your product, and find leads that have the attributes of someone who is ready to purchase, and find supporting evidence you need to successful call and build trust.  Instead of calling 100 people to get one person that is interested in your product, CAN is able to give you a list of 10 people.  You still have to have a great product and solid sales pitch, but Predictive Lead Generation can help you focus on talking to the right people.
We have been using Predictive Lead Generation internally for four years. Before Predictive Lead Generation our sales team used to spend the entire week attending networking events hoping to snag a solid lead, and make up excuses about how sales is all about luck and can’t produce reliable results. Now, our sales team is focused on building relationships with the right people, and I am confident that my team will be able to deliver each month.
I encourage you to use Predictive Lead Generation to put cold calls back into your arsenal. If you want to try out cold calling search the Internet and find a company you decide needs, wants and has the resources to purchase what you sell, spend 10 minutes learning about the person you are calling, and then call someone who actually needs what you are selling, and will be glad you called. If that produces results, then you might be a good candidate for CAN’s Predictive Lead Generation system. While referrals may always be the easiest phone call, cold calls are now some of the most effective.

Identifying Your Target Market

When I started my sales career, my philosophy was to let anyone who needed my product buy from me. It worked. I was one of the more successful young salespeople and I exceeded my quota month after month. My target market was “anyone and everyone”, and it seemed to be working. However, I was unknowingly limiting my future success.

After hearing from several of peers who had been in sales for years that they wish they could start over and not have the bottom 10-20% of their book of business, I conducted research on my book of business. My research showed that 75% of my time was spent on customer service issues with only 15% of my clients. Furthermore, looking at who that 15% were, the study found that 75% of those were my lowest yielding profit margin clients. In addition to my failed attempts at asking for referrals to anyone, it was obvious that I needed to invest in identifying and focusing my sales efforts on my target market. Learn how CAN helped the Admissions department at a University focus on recruiting the right students. 
Once I identified my target, two things happened: I started to receive referrals when I asked for them, and I was finally able to apply a strategy to my sales efforts. I no longer felt that I had to get everyone as a client, in fact, I started turning away people who were not my target market. Low and behold, gone were the  price chasers, time wasters, and no-money makers that wasted so much time.

I used the following strategy to identify my target market, so that I could start selling smart:

First, I identified the events that caused someone to buy my product.

In my case it was a major life change.  Things like buying a new home, getting married, having children, and changing jobs.

Second, I identified the characteristics of the people were that were experiencing these events.

In my case it was 20-30 year olds that had graduated college, had lived in apartments for 4 to 5 years, had a job were they made $50,000 or more  a year, and had met their fiancés but had yet to marry them.

Third, I identified where my target market spends time.

In my case, my target market spent time at first time home buyer classes, professional certification training classes, marriage classes, gyms, and trendy restaurants. This provided my advertising with focus, also I started to have meetings and work at coffee shops and restaurants where I could meet my target market.

Lastly, I identified the people who were around people who needed my product.

In my case, these were real estate agents, mortgage brokers, ministers, trendy restaurant owners, lawyers, and headhunters. This step allowed me to know where I needed to spend my time networking and which events I needed to attend. All of a sudden I knew where I needed to be and who I needed to meet at each event.
Now when people are outside my target market, I can recognize when they might be one of the bottom 15% of my market that would suck up 75% of my customer service time. I can weigh the cost and benefit and decide if I should bring them on as a client, or refer them to someone who might be able to serve their needs better.
Let me know if you would like help identifying your target market, or using predictive analytics to find people who fit your profile and are looking to purchase.
Learn more about how CAN helped a online university identify their target market.

Using Business Cards

Good networkers typically collect between 3 to 5 business cards for every hour they invest at a networking event.  It is important to have a system to process the business cards you collect at networking events, because while you might be able to process 3 to 5 business cards a day, anything over that requires a systematic way to keep up with connections until they become friends and clients.
Learn how we applied predictive analytics to CRM & accounting data to identify who was 60 to 80% likely to enroll at a Top 10 Online University. 
Step 1: The first thing that I do is prioritize business cards based on the conversations that I have had with people.  I start by throwing away the business cards of people that handed me their card, but that we failed to have a conversation.  The reason that I throw those business cards out is because I don’t know anything about that person and their business, and they choose not to take the time to learn anything about me and my business.  For people that I did have a conversation with I write down details about that person in my CRM (see Step 2). (more…)

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