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Strategic Sales Prospecting

Sales People

1. Duplicate Your Efforts:  Don't waste your time running around chasing down prospects. Times have changed. Don't even bother trying to see twenty prospects face to face every day. Instead, implement a marketing system that consistently educates your target market to the advantages of doing business with you. This allows you to be in more than one place at a time...which is good for business.

2. Make Extensive Use Of Marketing Tools:  Create paper reports, audio CDs, or DVDs that contain your perfect sales pitch. These reports will sell the prospect...because people are seven times more likely to believe what they see, hear and read than what you tell them. Plus, you don't have to worry about how you feel on a given day...just let the stuff sell for you.

3. Make Sure Every Contact Advances The Relationship:  If you call a prospect, make sure you're giving new, useful information... Don't become what I call "the annoying little voice on the other end of the phone..." You know, the one that says, "You ready to buy yet?" and nothing else. Instead have additional, educational information available or additional marketing tools that you can offer to the prospect. If you are selling windows, say to the prospect, "I just read an article in the Morning News about the local power company and their proposal to raise prices by 14%--AGAIN. I'm going to pop a copy in the mail to you... by the way, are you a customer of that power company?" See how that opens the door. Takes more time and effort, but like they say, "they don't hand out large trophies for small efforts!"

4. Show Up Armed With Evidence:  People believe what they see, not what they hear. And that's not necessarily because they think you're lying... its because they know that sales people will stretch the truth to get the sale if necessary. Sales people will highlight the good and ignore the bad. Salespeople will exaggerate capabilities and minimize problems. You may say, "well that's not me," and you very well may be right. But here's the key point: The prospect doesn't know you from Adam, and will assume the worst until you can prove otherwise. To compensate, don't rely solely on verbal pitches; back up everything you say with hard-core evidence presented in black and white (okay, color is fine too).

5. Look The Part: Wondering what the appropriate attire is for that big sales call? Here's a tip: if you're debating between one level of dress/attire and another that is "more formal," always go with the one that's more formal. It can't hurt to look a little BETTER than the prospect expected. A business suit is almost always appropriate unless you're selling hay to farmers, and even then the suit would get you remembered! Polo shirts are acceptable in many situations, but personally, I wouldn't take a chance on "acceptable."  Never forget the axiom that "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

Improving Readability
For Printed Advertising


2. Be Careful With Reverse Type: Reverse type is light-colored type on a black background; in many cases it's hard to read,especially if its the main text of an ad or website. The eye is conditioned through years of reading to expect black words on white paper (or screen), and reversing that out usually makes for an uncomfortable experience. You can use reverse type, however, in headlines and coupons to make shorter blocks of text stand out more.

3. Leave Enough "White Space" In The Ad: There is nothing wrong with having a lot of text in a marketing piece (provided, of course, that its interesting and relevant), but make sure you leave enough white space around the paragraphs and headlines to give the reader some room to "breathe!" Otherwise, your reader will experience text-based claustrophobia and avoid your ad at all costs.

4. Something Else Interesting About Reading: The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid.  Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.  The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.  Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.  Amzanig huh?  yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmornatt."

5. Understand Reading Habits: The combination of the human eye and brain can scan and absorb the content of a typical 8.5 x 11 printed advertisement in about 2 to 3 seconds. And in that critical 2 to 3 seconds, the reticular activator is running that content through "relevant and/or important" filter to see if its worth spending any conscious bandwidth on. The brain does NOT have to read each word or sentence to know what is going on. To that end, it is absolutely critical that your ads make the most important and relevant pieces easy to see and understand. They should flow in a logical manner from the top to the bottom of the page, and they should allow the reader to know exactly what you want him to think and do,all in a split second.

Trade Show Booths


1. Use A Headline: The banner you hang on your booth should not state your company name in huge letters; rather, it should read as a headline. The headline should call out to the reader to get him thinking about important and relevant issues related to what you sell. Consider using questions or, how to, headlines to pique readers interest.

2. Seed The Entire Market: Give out a free report or audio CD that educates people to the advantages of doing business with your company. Give the report to everyone...even if you're not sure if they're a potential customer. Then, when they read or listen, the prospect will qualify (or disqualify) himself...then call you.

3. Use A Pre-Show Promotion To Build Traffic: If possible, get a list of attendees who have pre-registered for the tradeshow and send them something that will make them want to come visit your booth. Here's a good idea: Send a scratch off card that has a potential free prize under it, but that the attendee must wait and scratch in your presence at the show to claim. This can bring in, depending on the show, hundreds of people who otherwise would have just moseyed on by your booth.

4. Size Does Matter. Get a double booth if you can afford it, and get an "island" booth if you can afford that. Bottom line is that the more space you have, the more likely you are to get noticed. Little tiny booths are generally reserved by little tiny companies. Nothing wrong with that if that's what stage of business you're in right now,but as soon as you can graduate up, do it.

5. Use Advertising Specialties: You know, stuff like pens, magnets, caps, etc. Just make sure your ad specialties have a headline on continually sell the advantages of doing business with you. Don't be stingy either,go ahead and give them out to anyone who shows up to your booth; don't try to hoard them for "only real prospects." Avoid things that are cheap but worthless, like cheesy tall mesh ball caps like your granddad used to wear, or generic coffee mugs with your name on it. My favorites include things with utility value, like: leather coasters, letter openers, post it notes, rulers, and so forth.

6. FOLLOW UP!!! Don't be the doofus who spends a fortune to show up at the trade show and gather a thousand business cards only to never let those leads see the light of day again! Instead, utilize the MYM Hopper web based software that allows you to automatically send out pre-scheduled emails and postcards with NO EFFORT AT ALL. For more details, fill out MYM Hopper interest form below.

Customer Service

1. Use The Phrase, "Right Away": When a customer makes a request of any type, tell him that you will do it "right away." On a subconscious level, you communicate to that customer that he is important to you, and that his request is your top priority.

2. Ask The Question, "Is There Anything Else?": Especially at the end of a sales transaction or phone call. This closes the loop for your customer and gives him a feeling of finality. Plus, you'll be surprised how many times there IS something else that you need to take care of.

3. Give Unexpected Bonuses: Reward your customers for doing business with you. Be sure sure that you do it in a personal and unpredictable way. For example, for a regular customer, you might want try giving some movie tickets or restaurant gift certificates... this keeps the customers wondering if and when they might get something...without training them to buy just for the bonuses.

4. Keep The Customer In The Loop: If a customer calls in with a request that is going to take you about 30 seconds to research and require a supervisors approval, there are two ways to handle it. The first is to say, "hold on". After about 22 seconds the customer is going to start feeling like you have fallen into a lava pit never to be heard from again. Another way is to say, "I'm going to need to pull up some information in my system, Mr. Johnson.  That should take about 30 to 40 seconds and I am also going to have to get my supervisor, Steve Jennings to approve this. I'm sending an instant message to Mr. Jennings right now; he should be available by the end of the 40 seconds of research I need.  Would it be okay if I put you on hold while I do this?" See the difference? Keep the customer IN THE LOOP!

5. Getting To Know You: At my local dry cleaners, they keep track of customers by phone numbers, not names. The first few times I went in there, they asked my phone number and proceeded to get my order. After about a ten visits, the clerk would say, "Let's see.. 817-864... what were the last 4 digits?" After that, when I walk in, they automatically pull my order while they ask me how my day is going. The amazing part - all the clerks are high school kids. If they can get to know me, you can certainly get to know your customers.

 You Want To Be An Expert Marketer? 

Develop These Four Critical Traits...

Trait #1: Notice Your Own Buying Strategies:

Pay closer attention to what everyone else in the world is doing to try to sell you something. You will find that there are already alot of good ideas out there that you don't have to invent again. I do not watch TV for the programs; I channel surf for commercials. I turn the station if music comes on the radio. I get on every mailing list I can to see what kind of "junk" will show up in my mailbox. I read all billboards. I go shopping just to see how the sales clerks treat me. I read the paper and magazines for advertisements, and then if I have time I read the articles. I read the yellow pages for fun (even though 99.99% of the ads stink). I respond to every "free" offer under the sun. Then I check to see how well the company follows up.

If you will constantly monitor what turns you on; what ads keep appearing week after week; what makes you like something or hate something--you will start to find things that you can incorporate into your business. Then we can talk about Trait #2.....

Trait #2: The Ability To Cross-Pollinate Ideas:

This is not a botany lesson. All it means is to take an idea that works well in one industry and use it another. For instance, if you get a chance, go to a shoe store called Just For Feet. See if you notice anything that could be adapted to an upscale floor covering store that caters to designers.

Sound like a tough assignment? Basketball shoes and expensive oriental rugs just don't match, do they?  Quit using your brain to worry about all the details and start to use it to look at things in more general terms. When you walk into Just for Feet, you'll immediately notice that the music is very loud, and geared toward young people. There's a huge video screen that either has music videos or live sporting events. There's an indoor basketball court that always has at least a half a dozen people waiting to play. They have a snack bar and free popcorn. It is a FUN place to be.

So what can you, as an expert marketer, take out of Just for Feet and inject into the high-end floor covering store that caters to designers? Just for Feet made their store a place where their target market (young people) wanted to be. They added elements of FUN that none of their competitors have. They are killing their competition. The high-end floor covering store needs to make their store THE PLACE to be for designers. How? Ask designers what they want.

This is a real situation for a real client. Here is what they decided to do:

1) Put in a cappuccino machine, sodas, and snacks that the designers can have for free without having to ask.

2) Provide four offices that designers can use at any time...that are loaded with all of the office essentials, like fax, copier, computers, phone, etc. (We actually got this idea from an insurance brokerage agency client of ours).

3) Provide a nice conference room for designers to use with their clients.

4) Provide free and discounted rates for related services such as carpet cleaning and installation services.

5) Provide samples and loaner pieces to help designers sell their customers.

This stuff all sounds simple, but there is one fact that you might not realize: There is not even one other floor covering store that offers even one of these services to designers.

Borrow ideas from everywhere.

Right now, we are selling grand pianos the way most car dealers sell giving away a huge package of free stuff with every purchase. We are selling foundation repair and plumbing the way a realtor sells houses...with a metal sign in a yard with a "take one" tube on top. We are selling SBA loans the same way we sell cellular advertising over the fax. Get yourself out of your paradigm of "what you do" and realize that, as long as it's legal, moral, and ethical--if a given idea makes money, it's worth pursuing.

Trait #3: Be Specific:

I don't want to go into my entire discourse about how people in general are lazy communicators. Just suffice it to say that 99% of what's said in marketing and advertising is useless, non-compelling, non-specific, non-definitive, amorphous FLUFF. You say things like tastes best, highest quality, biggest selection, best service, and lowest price. But think about the impact of these types of statements on your prospects.

Your prospects fully expect you to claim that you're great. Who ever heard of a promotion that said, "Our prices are high, our service is terrible, and our quality is marginal at best!" To set yourself apart from the competition, you must quantify all claims made into specific, compelling terms.

Instead of saying largest selection, say, "15,400 square feet divided into 5 showrooms, with over 5,220 items from 327 manufacturers, in 2,022 styles and 460 colors, in price ranges from $.99 to $27,000." Which do you believe? Instead of saying qualified mechanics, say "Most auto repair facilities have one or two certified mechanics. We have 11 ASE certified mechanics on staff with an average of 16 years experience...including 4 mechanics who have passed the coveted "L-1" test, and two who have double master certified." Where would you rather take your car?

Trait #4: Ability To See From The Customer's Perspective:

If you've ever bought a diamond, you know how confusing that process can be. The problem is that most people rarely buy a diamond, therefore most people have no clue how to judge a diamond's worth. They have to rely on that guy at the jewelry store to tell them. Don't worry that he will say anything to make a sale because he's going to starve if you don't buy. He'll probably be perfectly honest with you.

I met a man that sold diamonds out of his huge, beautiful home at wholesale prices straight to the public. He understood his customers' perspective....which was "HELP! We know nothing and we're afraid we're going to get a raw deal!" He would sit perspective customers down in a nice, leather chair and explain to them the history of diamonds, from volcanoes, to mines, to cutting, to polishing, to wholesale buying and selling. He used a myriad of books, charts, and pictures. He explained exactly what someone needed to know about diamonds before making a decision. And oh, by the way, if they wanted to look at some diamonds, he had some of those, too.

His process was so disarming, and so educational, that he sold 80% of the people that sat in that nice, leather chair. Compare that to the usual jewelry store: they shove 63 rings on you finger in 12 minutes and try to pressure you into buying the big, ugly, yellow one that has a huge commission because it has been in their inventory for so long. The average jewelry store will sell less than 10% of the people that sit in their cheesy, velvety chairs. (Bonus question: How could you cross-pollinate this sales method to other businesses? Hint: it has nothing to do with the nice, leather chair.)

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