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Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category


In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill suggested that people who want to be successful in business assemble a group of like minded business people and form a mastermind group. Mastermind groups, are essentially support groups. No one can be successful on their own, so a mastermind group is a wonderful resource for entrepreneurs. It is a place where business people can get advice, build strategy and become more effective.

I’ve recently started running mastermind groups for people who want to improve their business results. I love these groups! There is nothing like being able to benefit from the experiences of other people. It is also wonderful to be able to interact with people who are as interested in your success as they are in their own. Not all entrepreneurs have a supportive and understanding family, so getting support from like minded individuals can be vital to creating a successful business.

There are many kinds of mastermind groups. Some focus on building a particular element of a business (like my sales and marketing groups and my leadership groups) while others keep a more open format and use it as a forum to receive input from others regarding nagging problems. Whatever the focus of your group, it is important that all members have the right attitude. Here are some things you need to keep in mind when using mastermind groups to support your business:

Be willing to give. Your input is essential to the success of the group. Be willing to offer advice, give referrals, or do whatever you can to help other members of the group.

Be willing to receive. If members are expected to be generous with their time and advice, then as a member, you must also be willing to receive input from others, even when it may seem a little harsh. The higher purpose of the group is to create a foundation for success. If you are unwilling to accept the advice and assistance of other group members, then you shouldn’t be there.

State your challenges and ask for help. In a mastermind group, every member of the group will have an allotted time to state their challenges and ask for help. Doing this will help you grow so don’t be intimidated. Take the floor when you have the opportunity.

Keep your co-members secrets safe. The mastermind group is meant to be a safe haven for its members. No member should ever disclose what happens in the meetings. If members are to be open about their business goals and challenges, then it is essential that each member is honoured by keeping secrets confidential.

Set goals. Every meeting should provide members with a set of goals to work on. Your group leader along with the other members of the group can help you clarify your objectives. Once you know what they are, write them down and treat them like a homework assignment.

Create an action plan. Use your time in the meeting to create an action plan. The other members of the group, along with your leader will hold you accountable. If you’ve ever had difficulty committing to goals and following an action plan on your own, then the group will really help you achieve things!

Have fun! Take the opportunity to enjoy being among a group of helpful, success oriented people. Be open to developing lasting relationships with the group members and be prepared to have a good time together. We are most creative when we are relaxed and having fun. Let the group bring out the best in you!

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Last week I contacted two different marketing companies about two different things and they approached the opportunity to do business with me in exactly the same way. I call it snob marketing. Snob marketing is when the sales person/consultant says something like, “We are very particular about the kind of people we do business with. You may not be for us.” Now, I know that that statement is designed to stir up an eager want in me. I am supposed to want to be considered worthy enough to have them take my money. Needless to say, it backfired and they really only managed to make my skin crawl.

Personally, I am only interested in whether or not a vendor is right for me. I think most customers and prospects feel the same way. I am not interested in trying to prove that I have what it takes to be someone’s customer. I’m not standing in line at Studio 54 and we are no longer living in the 70’s.

Why do sales and marketing people think they have to resort to tricks all the time? It seems pretty obvious to me that if you do anything to insult the intelligence of your prospect, you lose the opportunity to do business with them. It’s like the car salesman who makes the phoney telephone call to his boss to see if he can get approval for the price you are trying to negotiate. Then there’s the guy who tries to tell you his deal won’t be around for you later. I contend that if he wants the money (and he does), he’ll make the deal available!

Prospects and customers appreciate sincerity. The moment you resort to trying to pull the wool over your prospect’s eyes is the very moment you shut him/her down. If you genuinely believe you have a product or service that will help your prospect in some way, then say so. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I think we may be able to work together. Let’s meet and see if there is indeed a fit.” That opens doors. Telling your prospect that he/she may not be the kind of person you like to do business with is akin to erecting a 90 foot iron gate and slapping on a 120 pound pad lock!

Here’s the thing about marketing: any strategy you employ that works will only work for a little while. As soon as everyone starts to do it, it becomes completely ineffective! It used to be you could mail out a special offer and people would come running. Once everyone does that, it’s no longer special, is it? You always have to keep things creative and fresh. Here’s another example: free webinars are not as effective as they used to be. Why? Because everyone knows they are going to be sold something. Who wants to walk into that?

Honour your customers and prospects. You usually need them way more than they need you. Cut the crap and be honest with people because let’s face it: if a prospect waved a few grand under your nose, you’d probably hump his leg!

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Did you ever notice how some people make it difficult for you to be their customer? They ask you to pay in advance for things that don’t need to be paid for ahead of time. They can’t order exactly what you want the way you want it, so you have to purchase something with unnecessary features. You have to come back on another day because someone important isn’t available to help you. It all sounds weird to me, but you and I know it happens all too often.

There are some simple rules to sales and customer service that need to be kept in mind. Firstly, empower your people to make decisions. Customers get really peeved when the person they are dealing with cannot act in their best interest. It’s not hard to do that. Just set the parameters with your employees and push go. Oh yeah, don’t forget to give them permission to think. That helps a lot!

Secondly, don’t set up road blocks for your customers. People buy when you make it easy for them. Things like flexible payments, free trials, etc all contribute to bringing people closer to buying. Make the process so pleasant and easy they’ll have to say yes.

Thirdly, keep in mind that customers return when you demonstrate you care about their needs and their experience in dealing with your business. Make it as enjoyable as possible. Whatever you do to enhance your customers’ overall experience will attract their future business.

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Let’s face it. We live in a world of rapid communication and that communication can make or break your business. Potential employees can surf the internet to find out what employees think of the companies they work for or have worked for in the past. Potential customers can view customer service complaints on millions of websites to see what experiences others have had with your company. A simple Google search could reveal a ton of information about your business that may not be favourable at all.

In spite of all of this, I am continually mystified by the reluctance of many companies to actively try to engage their employees and their customers. How can they not accept the reality that the world has changed and that corporations are no longer as powerful as they used to be? The days of being able to hide your problems from the public are long over and it simply doesn’t pay to live in denial!

An engaged workforce will at least triple your current bottom line results so it is well worth your while to invest in leadership and employee development programs and to concentrate on building an engaged corporate culture. Failing to do so means your business results will only be about 29% of what they could be. That is because on average, only 29% of employees are engaged and they are carrying the results of your entire company. The remaining 71% of your employees are dragging you down and since this condition is reversible, it makes good business sense to work on increasing employee engagement!

I understand that soft skills training is often seen as being a nice thing to do, if you can afford it, but the fact is a good training professional will be able to tie training to solid business results. It really is not fluff and if your employees are like those in most companies, you truly cannot afford to let developing your employees become a low priority.

I have seen what’s out there and I know why we training professionals get a bad rap. It’s because there was a time when less than competent people thought they could cash in on the gravy train when companies had money to spend. They produced nothing, held no one accountable, took away a cheque and drove off in their Beemers. Meanwhile everyone who participated in the sessions went back to their old habits and nothing really changed for the business.

Sadly, those guys are still out there and they still get business from those who have a poor point of reference. They look super slick and act like they’ve got the world by the tail, but they are not true professionals. Look for training that is focussed on achieving results and comes with a guarantee. In my opinion, anyone in my profession who is not willing to stand by their work isn’t worth hiring.

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Empowerment isn’t about letting your employees run amuck. It is about giving people the tools and the trust they need to make decisions that are helpful to the business. It is also about allowing them to use their creativity to find answers and take your business to new heights.

To empower your people you must first make sure everyone has lots of information. Share everything. You cannot expect great results when people don’t have a complete understanding of the business, so share the good, the bad and the ugly. Besides, withholding information creates mistrust, and no team can function effectively where there is an absence of trust.

If you want to learn more about how to empower yor employees, check out my book, Engaged for Growth. It’s a small book, but it’s packed with powerful information!

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In my last post I mentioned that many sales and marketing professionals consider that we are all in sales. I was reminded of a session I did once where I showed pictures of different people and asked what impressions they left. One was a picture of a guy with his hand extended in greeting (in fact, you’ll see that picture in an earlier post about on-boarding. Click here to view). One person in the group cringed and commented that he looked like a sales guy, saying she hated sales people. My response was to ask why she hated sales people and I informed her of the following:

Sales people drive the economy. Without sales people there would be no business, no jobs, and no homes to buy; not even a cardboard box to live in. Since boxes have to be manufactured and supplies need to be purchased in order to manufacture them, it would be impossible to make anything other than a lean-to to live in. Even then, you’d have to fashion a knife out of stone and basically live like a caveman.  Who wants that? I’ll take my nice home in the suburbs, my furnace and central air conditioning, thank you very much (all of which were purchased from some very nice people).

The next time you find yourself thnking that sales people are sleazy, please stop and make a distinction between professional sales people (who have integrity at their core) and the others who are really in the minority. A sleaze is a sleaze in my opinion, some are unfortunately in sales, but some are in other professions as well. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush. Hug a sales person today!

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