Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Who comes next?": How to Keep A Healthy and Productive Customers Portfolio

"Who comes next?"
We all know that selling is a complex activity that involves hundreds of different factors, both on the seller’s and the buyer’s sides.

Many of these factors are perfectly objective, such as product features, pricing conditions or delivery mechanisms to put products on consumer’s hands.

But yet, many of these factors (and perhaps as much or even more important than the others) are simply subjective, only present on peoples’ minds.

In some instances we call them "buying signals", just to be able to identify them, and they do refer to all those things the client does, or says, which demonstrates an interest on their side to doing business with your company.

As "buying signals" increase, we get more closely tied to each business opportunity.

Perhaps it all starts when you get a request to submit a proposal, or when prospects call you back after twenty unsuccessful attempts to contact them on your side, or when prospects ask you questions about the product you’re selling or the technology you use, or it might simply be the moment a customer invites you to visit them at their office for a business presentation.

It’s not what your client actually said but what you thought he told you. 

Once the sales process is on the go, product information, data and figures go from one place to the other, questions and answers go back and forth from your office to that of your prospect, then we salespeople have to start trying to interpret all the data we get from our different prospects to assess whether it will all happily convert into a new business for our company, and better yet if we get to know when.

And that’s exactly when the selling issue becomes complex: How do you know if the client actually says what it says and it’s not simply lip-servicing you? How do you know if there is a real intention to actual finalize the purchase? So many how’s and so little answers...

And the problem is that sellers most of the time, don’t do the appropriate questions they should make for fear of losing the business or damaging the relationship and end up losing the prospect. However, there is a “rule-of-thumb” we all must keep always in mind.

Time spent in a customer who will not buy, could be dedicated to one who will. 

And that's why you have to ask the right questions at the right moment, to see if the time you are investing in a prospect will actually end up becoming a commercial transaction (of any kind and amount) and therefore turning into a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties involved.

If you don’t ask these questions, then your customer base could simply become a huge database that doesn’t generate any money to your business. And that nobody wants!

“Who comes next?”

And although it sounds like an speech template for cashiers in fast food restaurants, it’s a skill you should develop if you want to grow a healthy and productive customers portfolio.

"Who comes next?" refers to your ability to decide, from your point of view as a company or as a sales agent, whether the prospect you've been dealing with will actually become a new customer for your business, meaning it will generate some kind of profit, and from there make the decision to continue to follow up or not.

Being able to say "Who comes next?" allows you to concentrate your efforts on the opportunities that are really worth your time. 

Word of advice: You don’t have to be rude or impolite to tell a potential customer that you’re no longer interested in doing business with him, quite the opposite.

It’s simply a matter of strategy: Once you've decided that it’s not a prospect that will help you achieve your sales and business goals, you just flip the page over, move on and focus your time and efforts on somebody else.

Remember that the most valuable and scarce resource in life is time, therefore, you should only invest it in good things, both for your business, for your sales and even for your personal life.

Why you’d want to have 500 thousand records in your database, if you are only doing business with 50 of them?

You should learn to say "Who comes next?". You’ll immediately notice how your contacts with customers will be much more positive and productive, and you’ll be able to achieve your best numbers on sales.

Image credit: artqu / 123RF Stock Photo 

You should also read on this blog
How Not To Become A Prisoner of Hope

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Is Your New Sales Strategy Bound To Fail?

Why Is It So Hard To Understand?
It's part of human nature to resist to change. We've all experienced it either one or many times in our lives: Changes in school, work, emotional status, location in space. 

Changes of all kinds. And even though most changes are for our own good, we instinctively oppose resistance. It’s part of our nature. Perhaps it’s due to our survival instinct and our need to stay in a place where we feel safe.

Your implementation of a new sales strategy for your business is going to face the same challenge: Your resistance to change. Not just your own, but that of the whole team which is supposed to be putting the strategy, and it’s related actions, underway.

In the world there is a whole industry dedicated to providing entrepreneurs like you all the training they might need to increase their sales and do it more efficiently. Books, seminars, lectures, "webinars", calendars (just kidding!) and a bunch of other resources for both the business owner and the actual sales people.

And yet today, we haven’t managed to achieve the amazing performance levels we were offered at the beginning.

What's going on then?

"Easier said than done" 

Have you noticed how many people quit smoking, only to get back on the habit just a few weeks or months later? Or those who enroll in weight loss programs, just to abandon them halfway down?

If we are confident the results will be great for us and/or our businesses, why do we quit then? 

Maybe the reason is that you got extremely excited about the expected outcome, but were not quite willing to do all the work needed to get there. Who knows.

There is no single salesperson, or business owner in the world, who doesn’t want to increase sales. That’s self-explanatory and evident, but when you come to realize you’ll have to make more phone calls, to increase your daily visits, knock on more doors, send more emails, make more offers ... more, more, more.

That's when your whole energy drains out and you immediately resort back to your comfort zone, right where you were before, your “I feel safe here” place.

"I know what I'm doing, why should I change?" 

And it’s more noticeable if you consider yourself a seasoned professional, with a strong background on what you do, and, if you've being able to achieve all your sales goals in the past, chances are you are probably convinced there is no way to improve the way you are doing things, because you are already doing pretty well.

For all veterans and successful professionals, it's hard to understand things can always be done better. 

And even if in the past you haven’t reached your best results, perhaps it happens you have got yourself used to such performance, and such conformity then becomes the main obstacle keeping you from realizing there are more efficient ways to do your job.

Remember the book "Who Moved My Cheese?"? Well, keep then in mind all the time the little mouse lost bitterly regretting about not finding his cheese at the same place as always, instead of opening his mind and searching for different approaches to his situation.

The first thing you need to do to overcome this obstacle is just that simple: Open your mind and recognize that things can always be done better, even if you've been doing pretty good so far.

"This time it will be different" 

Don’t try to justify things by coming up with excuses, and simply give yourself and your business an opportunity to grow better. It's like when you're on a diet and go to a party just to find succulent things you’re dying to eat: "It doesn’t matter if I go out of my diet just for today while at this party", or when you try to justify you won’t put additional time on a customer because "I have a very good relationship with the decision maker."

If you hide yourself behind excuses like this, you’ll always find a way to postpone your new sales strategy implementation. 

You can always start your new sales program next week, you can always implement your brand new actions some other day ... you’ll always find an excuse to continue doing what you’ve always done. The problem is when excuses grow in number and you're drowning on them.

When was it you said you wanted to start your new diet?

The key element in the whole process is discipline. 

Only with discipline you can bring your plans to completion and achieve great results with your new weight loss program, as well as with that new sales strategy you want to implement in your business.

Excuses and justifications are the opposite of disciplined behavior. 

If you are convinced that results will be for everybody’s benefit, and understand there is a more efficient way to do your job (or that of your team), if you are confident it’s the correct way to get better outcomes, then close your eyes and stick to it.

It may all sound very difficult at the beginning, but it’s not that hard really. To solve all your problems, first you need to understand there is a problem and recognize how important it’s for you and your business to solve it properly and soon.

Once you've reached this point of self-assessment, it’ll be much easier to cope with the obstacles that will always show up right on your way and try to divert you from implementing your new sales strategy.

If you truly believe in the strategy you are about to implement, and if you agree to put up the time and effort it requires and have the discipline to stick to it, then you’ll have a great chance of achieving the results you’re expecting.

It's just a matter of discipline ... and patience, like all things in life.

I recommend you reading in this blog:
How to Develop Your Selling Skills and Get Better Results.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

LUCY: Are We Aware Of The Powerful Impact Our Content Generates?

The Impact Of Our Content.
With the explosive growth of social platforms, your business has the opportunity to directly communicate with its customers in an open space, where everyone can see you, and with the ability to reach hundreds or thousands of people.

This communication and its responsibility were usually handled by professionals specifically trained in such areas as journalism, public relations, communications and so forth, but nowadays is a completely open space where anyone, just like you and me, without any previous experience or required training, can participate.

And that's what I think might be the reason for the subject I’m sharing with you today: the importance of the content generated by you to be shared, with more or less frequency, with the people who follow you on your Facebook Fan page, your Twitter account, your company's blog, and finally on whichever platform you have chosen to engage with them in conversations.

What impact does that content have on the people who receive it? Does it bring added value to their lives? Are they enriched? Does it make them better? Or on the contrary ...

The film Lucy and an open invitation to drug abuse. 

A few weeks ago I went with my wife to watch the movie "Lucy" starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. I like both actors a lot, him for the many movies I've seen him acting, and I like her because I truly find she’s a great heroine, since I saw her in his role in "The Avengers." 

Caution, I'm not a film critic. Be advised. I’m not telling you how the movie goes, as it would be great if you could watch it yourself and make your own opinion. The special effects are spectacular, the soundtrack is really good too, and in general, those who made the film were able to create this tense, distressing atmosphere that characterizes this genre. On that side, it’s all really good.

However, towards the end of the movie, my wife and I were shocked. The message that was throbbing in our heads with bold, red, capital letters and really loud, was awful.

Get intoxicated with drugs, and you will become an omnipresent god. 

There is a drug in the world that gives you the ability to use 100% of your brain, to become an invincible human being, have super powers and, eventually, be "everywhere at anytime" as God Himself.

What an interesting choice for a young teenager who is going through difficult times in his life! Or for even a more grown-up person who might find in this message the hope he needs to move forward with his life and give drugs a try.

Be aware of the content you generate and its probable impact. 

Obviously, I don’t know what could have been going through the minds of people who wrote the screenplay for this film, nor his intentions, or anything like that. What I have completely clear is that, somewhere along the way, they stopped paying attention to something: The impact that the movie could be generating in the audience that would be watching it.

For your fans and followers, what you say and share can have a significant impact on their lives. 

And it's something you have to take into consideration, regardless of your product, your company and the type of industry in which you move: There will always be people who consider you as a reference on something, for whom what you say serves as a guide and is taken as a model.

For them, content that you generate and share through your social profiles has an importance that can go far beyond what you can measure with analytical tools. Your ideas and suggestions can change their lives ... for better or for worse.

Are you willing to take the responsibility that it entails?

Willing to lose his life to become the most popular guy on the group. 

You know the "Science of Stupid" show, in the Discovery Channel? Have you noticed the vast amount of people doing weird things that involve taking enormous risks, all in order to record it in video and upload it to YouTube hoping it goes viral?

Bones and broken noses, people who have suffered permanent injuries, even people who have lost their lives trying to do things that previously were only performed by individuals specifically trained for them: jump on skis by steep slopes, jump on top of vehicles, and many other things.

How many bones are you willing to get broken to make your YouTube video go viral? 

There is actually an infinite amount of crap that people, especially younger people, are willing to do to gain notoriety and be the most popular soul of their groups.

When are we going to stop this madness? When will we stop being willing to lose everything, to achieve those "15 minutes of fame" that so many people look forward to so anxiously?

Let's assume our responsibility as communicators. 

Since you have decided to use social platforms to share with your customers and friends the content generated by your company and interesting content generated by others, you should keep in mind always that responsibility.

As a communicator, you are morally responsible for the impact your words and ideas have in the public receiving them. 

There will always be people who see your company, your product or even your own person, as a leader on something. For them, what you say is very important and can have a significant impact on their lives, their businesses, their careers, both in a positive or negative way.

If you really want to build a better world, make sure, at all times, that the content you generate and share, adds value to people’s lives, solves problems, helps them be better, raises awareness about important issues.

Only this way, we will be acting as responsible communicators to the world and to ourselves. Don’t you think this way everything would be better?

I recommend you reading this related post in this blog:
Corporate Social Responsibility: Are We Starting From The Right Point?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Smoke Selling: My Thoughts About Our Need Of Immediate Success.

Immediate Success? Think again.
Ready, Freddie, with batteries recharged and now back to posting on my beloved blog to continue to share with you conversations about things related with business management, sales, digital marketing and anything else that could add value to your life, my life, our lives, and on top of everything, to our businesses!

One of the things I like about going on vacation, apart from the disconnection and the relaxation that comes with it, is having the time to exercise without worrying about how long it takes me to complete my routine, or having to come back home at an specific time so that my daily duties don’t pile up and fall between the cracks.

And one of those days when I was out on the road with my bike, all sweaty, exhausted, and yearning to get back home fast but completely aware that I needed to continue pedaling for like 45 more minutes to get off the bike, take a shower and lie down on the couch to rest, I started thinking about how great it would be not to have to undergo so much effort to maintain a proper and healthier physical condition. I would love it to be much easier.

That is, for a moment, my thoughts stopped at these miraculous programs that offer you to "get a flat stomach while watching TV, sitting on your couch", or as one guy tweeted a while ago: "I clicked on an ad that said "get your dreamed body today" only to find out they were advertising a weight loss program" then I realized how deep it has gotten into our lives, and the way we manage our things, the need for immediate gratification.

In other words: The desire to minimize the efforts required to achieve the wonderful results we all expect. I say "minimize the efforts" not to say removing them altogether.

"No pain, no gain." If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not winning.

I was returning from cycling one day and when I arrived home I got on the weight scale to confirm that all that sweat, those trodden kilometers, all that weariness, and all that effort were really being translated into a drop in my weight, which was my initial goal.

In doing so I was completely shocked by what I saw: Not only I hadn’t lost weight but had gained 5 pounds. Just imagine: FIVE POUNDS! When I was supposed to be losing weight or, in the worst case, staying at the same weight.

Frustration doesn’t help you solve problems. Making decisions and implementing them, does. 

I closed my eyes in anger for a while but after a bit of reflection and a call to sanity, I promised myself to better control my eating habits, push myself a little harder on the bike and start doing some abdominal exercises to help me up.

"No pain, no gain" is, and has always been, one of the favorite quotes I keep from my teenage years when practicing karate, and has been a phrase that has always accompanied me.

"If it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t grow" we said to ourselves when we were training with weights, and the phrase has always been a reminder that, in order to achieve our goals, we necessarily have to push ourselves beyond our own limits, sometimes just a little, some other times, a lot. But we must always strive for.

You have to put aside the myth of instant success. 

Some time ago in my social profiles I shared an article which contained a very interesting reflection about the fact that when we talk about successful people, we put so much emphasis on their successes that we come to think they were born being already successful, and we forget about the most important part of the story: all the work and effort they have made to get to where they are today.

Because it’s easy to think that Bill Gates started Microsoft from his home's garage, but it’s not as easy for us to think about the many hours that elapsed before such time, or even those that had to elapse after, before his dream, his company, his idea became what they are today, and what we know him for.

Without efforts, nothing happens. Without work, commitment, dedication, enthusiasm, patience, neither. 

And I am sure the most important lesson is not so much related to his success, or the success of many others like him, as it is to the effort, enthusiasm, faith and commitment that allowed him to get there.

Certainly it would be great to have your company being among the next one receiving a million dollars funding, being acquired by a foreign multinational corporation, or achieving ever growing sales volumes. It would certainly be terrific.

But forget about thinking it will happen overnight, effortlessly. "No pain, no gain."

For every success story, there are thousands who only made it halfway. 

When we think about successful soccer players nowadays, for instance, names like Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar Jr, Toure, Bale, Lahm and many others may come to mind. Have you ever stopped to think about the many players, excellently prepared and very talented, who have not achieved, nor will ever achieve the same success?

Have you ever stopped to think about the thousands of excellent players who simply made it half-way up? And what about the others who, for different reasons, will never make it?

Work, work and more work. Remember: There are no magic solutions that do not involve some effort on your side. 

Even those programs promising you’ll get to have your "dreamed body" state, in the fine print, that you’ll only make it if the program is accompanied by a diet and a healthy lifestyle". Have you ever read that?

And so I’m coming back from summer break with my commitment renewed: Work, work and more work. With all the dedication I can, with my whole enthusiasm, passion, and above all, patience to further develop the projects I’m working on knowing that, if I don’t push myself as much as possible, I won’t be able to achieve the results I expect.

And as for you, I would like you to always keep this thought in mind: Forget about overnight success, both for yourself and your business, and focus on the small, everyday victories. Keep even in mind that there might be victories and failures on your way to success, and it’s all perfectly normal.

What is 100% true is that if you don’t push yourself a bit, you’ll never know if you can make it, and the saddest thing will be that you’ll think that what you're doing is not worth it, when it probably is.

"No pain, no gain." If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not winning.

A big hug for you :-D

Here you have a link to the post I recommended you to read at the beginning:
El éxito como un resultado del fracaso. (Sorry, only Spanish, no translation)

And this post in my blog which you can also find interesting to read:
5 Very Productive Habits You Can Include In Your Life Today Self.

Image credits: iStockphoto / Tom Wang