Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Focus On Maintaining Relevant Conversations On Their Favorite Places.

Nowadays it is impressive how many distracting elements exist in our environment that make us lose our focus and not concentrate on whatever it is that we are doing, at any time during the day.

Many years ago, the biggest source of distraction we had in the office was the telephone, or in the worst case, an annoying coworker. However, nowadays, fingers of our hands are not enough to count them all.

Each of them with its own arguments, its own attractions, but at the end of the day, sources of distraction for us.

I want to illustrate this post, sharing with you this story I made up: My friend John lives in a very nice neighborhood, north of the city, in which there are only two bars.

Paco's bar is one of them, a bar like those we are all familiar with, one without a comfortable atmosphere the truth be said, but you can always have a good time there if you are in good company. The prices can not be said to be very cheap either, but again, to share with some friends just for a little while, it works fine. It also has a television screen, not a very big one, but enough to enjoy your favorite game.

Four streets further up there is a new bar, which is called "La Cervezada", John's favorite. It is a very modern bar with a beautiful decoration, the tables are extraordinarily comfortable, it has a gigantic television screen and prices do not have anything to envy to any other establishment of the same type. You could even say that it has almost the same prices one will find in Paco's bar.

My friend John usually stops by almost every day when he comes back from the office, expecting to meet ther some of his neighbors, have a couple of beers or some coffee, enjoy a little chat and then head home.

The fact it is your favorite site, does not mean that it is your customer’s preferred place too.

However, none of John's friends like the new place and prefer to stop by at Paco's bar. This bothers John a lot because he is sure that if they got together at "La Cervezada" they would enjoy a better time, but that is not the opinion of his friends. All of them prefer to always meet at Paco's bar.

What did our friend John do in the end? Easy: when he wants to share with his friends and spend some time with them, he goes directly from the office to Paco’s bar. He always has the opportunity to go to "La Cervezada" if he doesn’t mind being alone, but if it is about being with his friends, then it is at Paco’s.

What does this all mean?

You must focus your attention on sites of interest to your customers.

As my friend John learned, if he wanted to share with his friends, he had to go to Paco's bar. The same criteria you must use when it comes to making the most of your time and avoiding unnecessary distractions: you should go to the places your customers are interested on, regardless of whether those places are not your favorite ones.

And even more now that you have so many different options to choose from, and so little time to be present in all of them.

Time really turns to gold when it comes to managing your presence in digital environments. Use it wisely!

No matter that facebook is your favorite channel, or any other for that matter. If your clients prefer to be in a different place, then that would be the place you must go to and not a different one.

Keep in mind that, at the end, the goal in digital environments is to find your customers and not to have them chasing you all around. You will be wasting your time if you try to convince your customers to leave their favorite places and go to those places you like better.

It's not about that. The key is to be able to identify where customers prefer to get together and join them there.

Once you meet them at their preferred site, then focus on having a relevant conversation.

And this is much easier to explain. Has it ever happened to you that you find yourself reunited with some friends and you are approached precisely by that one guy who only talks about boring subjects, which are not of interest to you? How do you feel at that moment?

The same thing happens to your customers when you approach them and the only thing you do is to have a boring conversation, which is not of their interest, perhaps only focused on the benefits of your product and services.

Differentiate yourself by the value you share in your conversations with clients, suppliers and friends.

No one wants to be approached by the person who has the most boring and least relevant conversation in the world.

Do not do that to your customers! Since you have taken the time and trouble to approach them in their sites of preference, then make the same effort to maintain a relevant and interesting conversation with them.

Only this way you will really be making the most of your time, being present where you really need to be, and maintaining relevant, interesting and nutritious conversations with your clients, which will surely help you build much stronger and stable business relationships with them.

Remember, the key is to have relevant conversations on places of their interest.

Picture credit: Nicoletaionescu / See portfolio

Related posts I recommend you to read on this blog:
Differentiate Yourself By The Value Shared Through Your Conversations.
What Can You Talk About With Your Customers When You’re Not Selling To Them?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Simplification of the Sales Process: When It's About Selling, Shortcuts Are Not Worth It.

There Are No Shortcuts In Sales.
I had my first job as a salesman at age 19. At that time, I was an "Account Executive" for an advertising agency in Venezuela, or in other words, I belonged to the team of people responsible for taking care of our customers needs at all times.

For us, it was a simple process:

1.- First we had a meeting with the client to understand to the highest detail what exactly they wanted, which were the parameters we had to take into consideration to put together our proposal for them. In brief, we had to collect all required and relevant information so that it would assist us in working on a clear and efficient way.

2.- All this information was then brought back to the agency and presented to the production and creativity teams, along with account supervisors, of course, so that we could all be on the same page and get to work on developing the most appropriate proposal, according to what our client specifically requested.

3. Once both creative and production teams had prepared the corresponding proposal, we all met again so they could explain us all the rationale behind the proposal prepared, all the reasons that had led to the selection of each product and recommended pieces, so that we could have a complete understanding at the time of "selling" the proposal to the client.

4.- Finally we had to schedule a new meeting with the client to make the presentation of the project and "sell it", explaining in detail each of the arguments used by the agency to prepare the project and clearly indicating how, according to our professional criteria, our proposal adhered to each of the guidelines given by the client on the initial meeting, ending of course with the explanation of costs involved and all relevant details.

For us it was extremely important to have the opportunity to meet physically with the client so that we could have the opportunity to explain in detail the work we had done, face to face.

Who can clearly understand what you have done if you do not take the time to explain it thoroughly?

And it was very important to have that meeting with the client to explain our project or proposal, because each of the pieces, and elements on it had a reason to be there: from the headlines used for ads in magazines, to the model chosen for the product picture, everything had been done using our best professional judgment and based on what the client requested.

We really needed our client to completely understand the reason for each thing and how everything, as a whole, had been designed with our best of criteria, so that we could be confident our proposal would meet their needs while allowing them to reach their goals at the same time.

Nowadays, perhaps as a result of the immense amount of technological gadgets we have access to, many companies make the mistake of skipping the steps of the sales process and take the risk of having customers not completely understanding the work they have done, simply because they do not take the time required to explain everything in detail.

When there are no explanations given, anyone can be right. Is that what you want for your customer?

You might be familiar with some of the following phrases: "We already have the proposals for your brand’s logo. We did email them to you. Could you please take a look at them and let us know what you think?"

Or maybe with this one: "The sketch you asked for your product’s website is ready and you can review it clicking the following link. Check it out and tell us if you want to make changes or if you think everything is fine."

Or worse yet: "We have already prepared the economic proposal for the implementation of your project. We have sent it to you by email, copying department managers. When you have the time to look at it, do we discuss it together?"

Perhaps it is because of the ease of being able to communicate with the client via email and send them things, or perhaps because it is so easy to convert almost everything into a .pdf or .jpg file, but the fact is that we have left in our client’s hands one of the most important stages on the sales process: the presentation of our project or proposal.

How can your client correctly value the offer, if they do not know all the reasons backing up your recommendations or the criteria you used to put it all together?

How can your customer know that you chose a particular photograph because it was the one that best suited corporate branding?

Or how can he know the music track you used for the corporate video is in tune with the favorite music of the brand’s target audience?

Avoid the shortcuts: Defend with passion all proposals you prepare for your client, face to face.

If you do your job with professionalism, dedication, passion, and really take into consideration every detail of what the client told you during the initial meeting, there should be then many reasons that could allow you and the company you represent, to clearly differentiate your proposal and help the client perceive with clarity and security, how your proposal will help them achieve their objectives.

If your work is professionally made and meets customer expectations, the price is no longer a problem.

That's why it's so important to take the time to thoroughly explain your work to your client. If you take the time to make a proper presentation and the work is really professionally done, the price ceases to be a problem in most cases.

But if you do not take that time, anything can happen, starting with the fact that your client might feel his project is not important enough to you therefore you are not willing to set time aside on your agenda to meet with your client and explain it.

Remember that successful selling occurs when the customer can make an informed decision, that is, when he knows all the details of your proposal. If he does not have that information, the decision is no longer informed then and you could end up losing the sale.

It is very simple: remember that in sales, as in many things in life, there are no shortcuts.

Do not allow yourself to lose a project in which you and your team have invested a lot of time, because you simply did not have the time to properly present it to your client.

Picture credit : freshidea / ver portafolio

Post I recommend you to read on this blog:
Smoke Selling: My Thoughts About Our Need Of Immediate Success.
Why Do I Have To Sell More If I’m Fine With What I’m Selling Now?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why did I choose to talk in a simple and straightforward manner?

I am of the opinion that the most effective advertising is one that has a direct message, clearly and perfectly aligned with the real reasons that drive a specific audience to consume a specific product or service.

Is quite frequently that I get to be negatively impressed when I listen to or watch ads made by important brands using messages so convoluted, so difficult to understand and to digest, that I can only ask myself: "Do these messages really have a positive impact on the audience they are aimed to? Do they really generate the effect that is pursued or are they only serve to fatten the pride of the person who created it?"

I am going to share with you a story that I lived some years ago in the company in which I had my best and most rewarding professional experience. By that time I was the advertising sales manager and the company was looking to hire a marketing manager.

It turns out the candidate who got hired came from a major international corporation and had vast experience backing him up, an experience of many years. But what struck me most was his way to sell himself as the best one ever!

Yes sir! The person in question had a mouth worthy of the best salespeople in the entire world. I really had to take off my hat in front of him. The way he used his words and the way he handled his vast experience to make others felt worthless was amazing.

When your ability to talk is superior to the results you are able to deliver, you are simply a "smoke seller".

My boss then fell victim to this guy’s spell and from that moment on, he started to make decisions based on what the marketing manager indicated basically because he was strongly influenced by what he thought the guy was rather than because of those recommendations were the proper ones to better help us achieve our business goals.

My situation as advertising sales manager was a bit difficult. I had to lead my team and align my group with the company's marketing policies. It was my responsibility.

However, when we had management meetings, it was very difficult for me to defend the direct information I was receiving from our market through my sales team.

The marketing manager, who had never been on the road with our product trying to sell it, and without even sitting down with the sales team to get a closer feedback from the market, continued to recommend the actions he considered proper and that had given him positive results in the past, for completely different products, without even adapting them to our specific situation at that time.

In order for the communication process to be effective, your interlocutor has to clearly understand what you are trying to say.

It was then that I decided to stop the nonsense and started putting the realities of the market on the table, exactly the same way I was receiving them from my customers: the numbers, the reasons why our customers decided to make business with our competitors and not with us, the complaints they had about our audience and product itself, and the recommendations they all gave us so that we could do a better job.

It was then that I started to talk in a clear and straightforward manner: If we implement action "A", we stop making more money. If we implement "B" instead, we are going to make more money. Supported, of course, by market information. In our meetings, I began to clearly emphasize why we were not putting ourselves in front of the right audience and recommending things the market itself indicated as correct directions.

When things are true, they do not need superfluous explanations or tricks to get people’s attention.

When I started to talk to both the marketing manager and my boss this way, it was then that things began to change. The influence of the marketing manager was no longer so strong and we began making decisions in which the marketing actions were truly aligned with sales and focused on assisting us to achieve better results, thus helping the company reach their overall business results.

From that moment on, everything changed and we were able, thank God, to reach our third best sales year ever, out of 15 years the company had been in business.

Every target market has its own language. Identify which language your market uses.

Has it ever happened to you that the doctor tries to explain what you have and uses words that are completely indecipherable to you? Have you ever been "deaf" in front of someone, only because he uses a language you are unable to understand?

My wife is a dentist and I remember clearly how, during our teenage years, I got awfully bored in the meetings we had with her group of friends, because all they did was to talk about teeth and more teeth.

I remember I built a strong friendship with the husband of one of my wife’s girlfriends, because we were always making company to each other when we went to parties and group meetings because, while they were talking about their teeth and their things, we were talking about ours, in our own language, one that we both clearly understood.

If you use the language your client uses, you can create with them much more durable and nutritious relationships.

My clients are, for the most part, business owners and entrepreneurs who come from professional backgrounds different from mine. Almost none of them has had a strong sales training as I have had, so almost none of them knows the meaning of the terms we, professional salespeople use.

Would it make sense then that I wrote each of this blog’s posts as if it was going to be read by someone who speaks my same language? Would it make sense that I try to communicate with my clients using a code that they do not understand?

Well obviously it does not. It would not make sense at all because the only one who would understand the message would be me, and those who have a professional background similar to mine. And the person who really is important, my client and those who share their same language, would be left out.

That is why you must use a language your client or the person you are going to be talking with understands completely. As we, professional sellers, like to refer to: "your target audience."

Only by using a language that is totally familiar to them, your relationships will become closer and more productive.

And the more straightforward and clear your language, the better. Try always to use words they understand easily, preventing your message from lending itself to secondaries thoughts and, generally, misinterpretations or simply, the message does not reach its destination with any strength at all.

Picture credit: Ogerepus / Ver portafolio

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