Thursday, July 31, 2008

Strategic Selling Begins In The Boardroom

Writen by Jonathan Farrington

In most industries to-day, a handful of ideal customers have become universal targets. Nearly every industrial salesperson dreams of calling on the CEO's or managing directors of those top companies, which logically means that there are maybe 500 customers for a million sellers. With such intense competition, conventional approaches are not equal to the challenge. Salespeople need to develop strategies that distinguish their products, services and their organisations in the mind of the customer.

Making a sale has always involved an element of systematic planning but strategic selling means more than rehearsing product information and timing the close. Strategic selling begins with understanding your company's strategy, vision, and distinctiveness and then selecting high profile customers.

The next step, logically, is anticipating each stage of the buying process, from analysing the competition to identifying the influencers and decision-makers and being switched in to the buyer's political issues. In other words, there is a need for a comprehensive strategic profile and rigorous opportunity assessment process. Most important, strategic selling means strategising from the customer's point of view. Top achievers see strategic selling as a routine part of their work - not a final resort.

What Are The Implications For Sales Management?

For companies to remain competitive now, their sales organisation must be able to respond positively to changing economic tides. As businesses strive to establish customer orientation, sales partnerships and a strategic approach to selling, they are demanding more and more from their salespeople but ensuring that these new methods are widely practised and smoothly implemented falls to sales management

Building Productivity:

Sales productivity is a strategic issue. That's why problems in this area stem from salespeople being unclear about their company's priorities i.e. what their message should be and what they should be selling.

The trend in industry of removing layers of management between the sale force and the general manager presents a challenge to those sales managers who remain. To begin with, the sales manager becomes an essential link between company strategy and what takes place in the customer's office. He or she must not only grasp the corporate vision but be able to communicate it to the sales force in terms of the real effects on sales practices

Creating Direction:

Sales managers with an intimate feel for the selling process succeed because their staff regard them as part of the sales team but coaching the team is as important as playing in it. In other words, sales managers must be prepared to provide training, feedback and support to every individual within the team.

Once committed to the training process, they must routinely reinforce new ways of behaving in real sales situations. They must provide a clear sense of direction on a daily basis, not just at the monthly sales meeting / quarterly review / annual appraisal

The very best sales managers engage in frequent coaching and feedback, even when their sales people work in remote locations. While encouraging salespeople to air their problems openly and discuss their concerns, sales managers must be able to offer clear and specific feedback for improving sales performance

Rewarding Change:

The sales manager is charged with translating the company's reward system into specific improvements in sales performance. Both salespeople and corporate managers count on the sales manager to recognise and reward outstanding achievement, formally and informally.

The process of promoting new attitudes about the customer and the role of the salesperson can be frustrating and slow. Reverting back to recent research there is compelling evidence to suggest that companies will see results sooner if they recognise and reward salespeople - "you get more of the behaviour and results that you reward".

The trend in sales compensation appears to be away from commission to guaranteed salary, from compensation based on orders to compensation based on delivery and sign-off. Interestingly some organisations we know, base their 'salesperson of the year' award on the basis of customer satisfaction or customer retention rather than sheer volume of orders or activity

Summary – And Now the Good News:

It is now a given fact in any sales-related seminar or conference you may attend that traditional sales methods are being relegated to the annals of history. The new, more discerning customers of today have seen to that. They now wield greater bargaining power, demand more value for money and have become more knowledgeable and professional when it comes to decision-making. Suppliers are now faced with rising customer expectations and the need to become more flexible to the requirements of each individual client.

Yet the key to differentiation lies within these expectations, since more complex buying decisions lead customers to value closer links with their suppliers.

The moral right of the author, Jonathan Farrington, has been asserted. All rights reserved. This publication or any part thereof may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording, storage in an information retrieval system or otherwise, unless this notification of copyright is retained.

Jonathan Farrington is the Managing Partner of The jfa Group jf-assocs.

To find out more about the author, read his latest articles or to subscribe to his newsletter, visit

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Discounting Your Way Into Sales Oblivion

Writen by Jim Meisenheimer

I don't even like saying the word d---------g. I have literally obliterated it from my dictionary with a black marking pen. I'll bite my tongue until it bleeds, before I say the word.

Earlier this week Bernadette, my wife, and I went shopping . . . something I love to do. Just kidding! We were looking for a 3-piece plant stand for our deck. We found one in a catalog and went to the store to check it out.

Bernadette always asks the sales person if he can do better on his price. You'd be surprised how much you can save just by asking.

Sidebar! The word ASK is the most powerful word in a sales person's vocabulary.

Back to what happened. We debated over two different pieces and made a decision. The piece we didn't select had a 30% discount tag on it.

According to the sales person the 3-piece set we decided on was not on sale. Our sad faces didn't seem to move him. He said he could get into trouble for giving us a discount.

Another sidebar. The GNP of the United States would increase by a staggering amount (Probably hundreds of billions) if all salespeople got into trouble with their organizations for giving discounts.

Back to the store. The salesman said the display unit was the only one available. Bernadette asked for a discount if we took the floor display.

He caved in and finally said I'll give you a 10% discount.

Here's the math: The list price was $178. 10% equals $17.80.

He could have said, after doing the math, I'll take $15 off because it's a display unit. The $15 is 8.4%. We would have been thrilled. And you can bet the ranch, we would not have reached for a calculator to see what the percentage discount was.

In my opinion dollars off always sounds more impressive than a percent discount.

Because it was a display item the salesperson had to remove some things before he could bring the 3-pieces to the cash register. Bernadette inspected each piece. They were painted black and one had a sizable and noticeable scratch on it.

Bernadette once again asked if he do any better on the price because of the damage on the 3-piece plant stand.

It's time for more math. Remember he first offered us a 10% discount.

If he increased the 10% discount to 12% the increase is 20%.

If he increased the 10% discount to 14% the increase is 40%.

If he increased the 10% discount to 16% the increase is 60%.

If he increased the 10% discount to 18% the increase is 80%.

If he increased the 10% discount to 20% the increase is 100%.

Without any hesitation he said I'll give you 20% off.

He doubled his original discount. It doesn't sound like much but in reality it is. The plant stand list price was $178. For other products, perhaps even yours, it could have been $1,788, $17,888, $178,888, or even $1,788,888.

Don't be too quick to give discounts, especially big ones. Use your head and do the math before you offer additional price concessions.

Forget about defending your price and do your best to explain your value.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

If you offer genuine value - don't give it away, charge for it.

If you absolutely must offer a price incentive, never start with round numbers. Make sure there's a decimal point included.

For example, any professional sales representative offering 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% off etc. should have to listen to seven straight hours of Lawrence Welk Music. If you must offer a concession try 3.9%, 8.9%, 13.6%, 19.3% etc. Once you calculated the discount % convert it to dollars because it always sounds like more.

Never offer a price concession without getting something in return - NEVER.

Finally, a small disclaimer. Please don't think I'm violating my pricing strategy when you see me offer special incentives for my products. My speaking and consulting fees are at list price and I seldom offer any discounts.

I have negotiated very good pricing for all my products. And I'm happy to offer you a price break from time to time if it helps you to invest in your self-development. See the end of this letter.

In a nutshell - anybody can offer a discount.

If profitability is the applause of a happy customer you should be raising your prices, especially if your customers are happy.

Jim Meisenheimer is the creator of No-Brainer Sales Training. His sales techniques and selling skills focus on practical ideas that get immediate results. You can discover all his secrets by visiting his website:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting Off The Advertising And Sales Rollercoaster

Writen by Charlie Cook

Seeing the results of advertising your business can be like watching a roller coaster. The day you run your ad you see a flurry of activity; your ph0ne starts ringing, your web site traffic increases and/ or potential clients visit your store. Your hopes soar. sales go up. Two or three days pass and the response goes down. You look at the bill for the advertising and your jaw drops. Your hopes descend.

Nancy called me from Portland, Oregon with just this problem. Every time one of her ads appears in a local publication, customers start walking in the door of her home furnishing store. A few days later the number of prospects and sales goes down. Her advertising gets results, but the thousands of dollars she is paying each month is killing her profits. What can she do?

Whether you advertise your consulting business in The Harvard Business Review or your interior decorating service in the Penny Saver, your ad will cost significant dollars.

How can you make your advertising pay for itself?

How can you use advertising to create a STEADY stream of business?

Write Your Ad to Sell and To Generate Leads Of all the people who could benefit from your products and services, what percentage is likely to buy today? Hopefully a few, but the majority are more likely to need your services tomorrow, next week or next month.

Write your ad to prompt people to buy and if they're not interested in making a purchase, to contact you. When you write your ad:

1. Sell your products or services by selling your solution. 2. Prompt prospects to buy. Include a call to action. 3. Motivate prospects to give you their contact information.

For each person who responds to your ad and makes a purchase today, you should be able to get ten qualified prospects to contact you. Once you have their contact information, you can send them a regular email or postcard for far less than it would cost to run your ad on a weekly basis.

Follow Up On Your Advertising An ad can be the first step in marketing your products and services but unless you follow up, it may be the last. Its what you do after your ad runs that determines whether you're able to make it pay for itself in the days and months to come.

Let's say your ad works in getting people to visit your web site, call you or come into your store. What's the next step? How can you follow up to increase your sales?

1. Make sure you get their contact information so you can follow up.

2. Whether people stopped by your web site, left a ph0ne message, emailed you or visited your store Ð follow up promptly. Get back to them within the day, if not sooner. A prospect is most likely to buy or start a profitable relationship when he/she is looking for a solution. Let your leads linger and they'll go stale. If you wait prospects may contact other service providers or stores, and you've given them time to make their purchase through someone else.

3. Respond immediately. Use a ph0ne call or an email to let them know you understand the problem they want solved and that you can help them. Even a personalized autoresponder message will do the job.

4. Market to your in-house list of contacts. If you want people to remember you when they have a need and are ready to make a decision to buy, make sure they think of you as the solution provider. The best way to do this is to regularly provide ideas, tips and information that your prospects want.

5. Create opportunities for personal contact, whether through your print mailings, ezine or web site, you want to prompt prospects to contact you to discuss their needs and / or place their order. Ask them what they want, what they are looking for. When they send you an email, follow up with a call. Tell them how to contact you, how to schedule a personal conversation and then follow up with a call.

Advertising is an expensive ticket to marketing your products and services. Use these strategies to make sure you get your money's worth and you'll find your advertising paying for itself over and over. Instead of getting your thrills from watching your business go up and down, you'll find yourself enjoying the excitement of watching your profits steadily move up. - 2004 © In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

The author, Charlie Cook, helps service professionals and small business owners attract more clients and be more successful. Sign up for the Free Marketing Plan eBook, '7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business' at

Monday, July 28, 2008

Us Government Sales Amp Marketing

Writen by Phil Morettini

What's the difference between selling to the US Government and selling to the Commercial market?

It's like night and day.

Sales and Marketing to the government is truly the flip side of commercial activities. You really can't believe how different these markets are--until you've actually come from one side--and tried to go over to the other. I emphasize, tried, because it usually doesn't work out very well!

First of all, in the Government world, the term "marketing" is a standard term. But its meaning in the government world is very different from its definition in the commercial world. When you hear someone talk about "Marketing" to the government—they really mean SELLING. That's in large part because those businesses that deal primarily, or exclusively, with the government really don't do much in the way of marketing in the commercial sense.

Everything's Different

In a traditional government contractor, there is usually no one with a sales title. There are often a couple of people with grand titles like "Vice President of Marketing" or "Vice President of Business Development". These people have very little in the way of real marketing responsibilities--they are the chief sales people of the company. They are usually former government employees, and in the case of a military contractor, often an ex-general or ex-colonel. Key to their hiring was that they are very well connected in the government or service branch that the company is targeting. Included in their charter are some "light" Marcom activities--putting together data sheets, and coordinating a few targeted trade shows. In addition to the dedicated "Marketing People", much of the technical selling of individual deals is done at the project manager level.

Of course, it's not just the sales & marketing functions that are so different in the government world vs. commercial. Almost everything is! The typical government contracting business model more closely resembles a grocery store, than it does a typical high tech company. Margins are very thin, but profit is pretty much guaranteed once you've secured a contract. Up front R&D ("IR&D" in government terminology) is generally discouraged, as it's a great way to lose money. IR&D can also be funded by the government; that is utilized heavily, but it has limitations. Spending an amount(without government funding) that would be modest in the commercial world on up front R&D can easily wipe out the thin margins that the government contracting business yields. The government contracting model works like this: Hire an ex-employee from the agency that you are targeting your "marketing" at. Leverage that relationship to secure the contract, with a minimum of up front product development expenses. Then hire the people to staff the project, and of course do a good job executing the project. Add new "marketer" from another agency and repeat.

So for those purely commercial readers out there, this must sound pretty different than what you're used to. That's only because it is! There is no Product Marketing/Product Management function in a true government contractor. In the government world your "market" is one customer, or a small number of customers, who are basically specifying the product for you. There are a few sales people, but as I mentioned earlier, they're called marketing people. The actual marketing tasks are few and far between—collateral creation, trade shows, a party here or there.

Difficult to make the Jump

As you imagine from the discussion above, it's difficult to move between the two worlds. That's the reason that nearly EVERY government contractor that has tried to enter commercial markets in any major way has failed abysmally. Government-oriented companies typically don't have the entrepreneurial cultures found in commercial high tech companies. They lack fundamental Market Evaluation and Product Planning skills required for success in the commercial world—because it's not required in their core market.

Senior managers at Government contractors are often profoundly aware of all of this. They may intellectually understand that they need to do things differently for their companies to make the jump to the commercial side. But especially if they have been very successful in the government business, a difficulty emerges that won't be obvious on the surface. And this is the worst of all: Successful senior managers tend to fall back on their what I like to call their "Common Business Sense", when they encounter new or stressful situations. Often they don't even realize that they are doing it. Unfortunately, when an executive with a government contractor utilizes their "common business sense" to make a decision involving a commercial business, the results can be disastrous. The "right way" of doing things in the two businesses are so fundamentally different that it would work out better if they took the OPPOSITE path from what their instincts told them. Not an easy way to do business.

Commercial to Government

So what's a C-level manager in a commercial company, which would like to secure some government orders, to do? Given the different business cultures of the two markets, it seems pretty daunting. Those poor government guys who have tried to go commercial have had their hats handed to them—does the same fate await me?

Fortunately, it doesn't necessarily need to be so bad. If you are selling services, or highly customized products, you may need to closely replicate the government-contracting model, if you are going to be successful. If you are selling fairly standard products, however, it may be possible to gain significant government business leveraging your normal commercial marketing efforts.

A few years back, I was running a startup commercial software product group within a company that was otherwise a pure government contractor. It was a diversification effort for the company. Our sister groups within the company were all very successful, and extremely well connected within government contracting and procurement circles. I expected, and was promised, a lot of help in placing our products in large quantities within various government agencies and military branches. For a lot of different reasons, that help never materialized. But a funny thing happened—this startup software product group ended up with 40% of its revenue from US and foreign governments. This was without a government-specific product, no real marketing advantage provided by our well-connected parent, and no special government emphasis in our sales and marketing programs. Contrary to popular belief, if you have a great commercial standard product that has use within the government, the agencies and branches will find a way to purchase it. Our product was aimed at Network Administrators, and their needs were similar to their commercial counterparts. The government market is huge, and we did well in the government sector. With a few modest investments, however, we could have done even better. So what steps should a commercial company do to maximize its penetration in the government marketplace?

Tips for Success

Create a great product—Above all, your market research and product planning are the starting point to success. Make sure to include a few potential government customers in your upfront planning, which should ensure that you don't miss any special requirements they might have. This is a huge market you don't want to miss.

Have a modest entry-level price for your product—Even if in a production environment your product costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, it's very helpful to have an entry-level price of less than a thousand dollars. This will allow a motivated prospect to acquire your product initially by "going around" the laborious, lengthy, confusing—and often competitive—contracting process. Even if you have to go through a contract later to secure the full production purchase price, the bidding process may then be "written to your specifications".

Hire an experienced government sales executive—This can NEVER hurt. It really helps having someone who knows his way around your target agencies, to head your Government Sales Division.

Place your products on the GSA schedule via an established Government Reseller—Getting on the GSA (Government Services Agency) via your own company is a long and complex process. For most commercial entities, it isn't worth the effort. It's much easier to give up a few margin points to a reseller already on the schedule. It's much easier for him to add your products. They won't do much for you in the way of promotion, and I've found that being on the GSA schedule in most cases isn't REQUIRED to buy your products (although some will tell you otherwise). But it does make it easier for the customer inside the government, and if nothing else, raises their comfort level. They will know that they won't face a major hassle to buy your product.

That's my take on selling to the US government. Hopefully there's a nugget or two in there that can help you. Send me a note with a few of your own tips.

Phil Morettini is the Author and President of PJM Consulting, a Managment Consultancy to Software and High Tech Companies. PJM Consulting executes special, strategic projects and can also supply interim senior management in General Management (CEO, COO, Division Manager), Product Marketing, M&A, Distribution Channels and Business Development. You can contact Phil on the PJM Consulting Website ( or via email at

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Game Set And Match

Writen by Steve Martinez

There is one question I want to ask you today, does your current customer and prospect list qualify to be on your customer list? I ask this because I was looking at my list the other day and realized that some of the companies on my list really shouldn't be there. When I started creating my prospect list, everyone on it seemed to fit my customer profile. However, now I'm not so sure. Some of the prospects simply don't match my customer profile after all. This also came up with a sales coaching client when they discovered the same thing with their prospect list. All I had to do was ask a few questions about the prospects on the list. It was the perspective that made the difference. We couldn't match the ideal customer with what was on the prospect list. It was easy to discover the problem.

Do yourself a favor and measure your prospects against your sales plans criteria for prospects. Do it before it is too late. We can't get good results from bad prospects and if our prospect list needs to change, adjust it sooner, rather than later. One solution is changing the methodology and process of finding prospects.

Take a different perspective

If you're managing a sales team, any time is a great time to review your sales plan and prospect lists. Industries and businesses change and you might need to modify the contents if you know what I mean. The sales plan, any sales and marketing plan may have started with all the right logic and intentions. However, things change, markets shift and what may have started out as a good plan, may have gotten out of hand. Sometimes we need to step back a little to gain a better perspective on what we are doing.

If you don't have a target customer profile, shouldn't you have one? Think of your prospects as the building blocks for a building. We would be kidding ourselves if we didn't admit to wanting a few strong, massive and secure cornerstone customers. Most importantly, we want solid customers we can build a reputation with. Let's imagine that our original sales plan was to support 150 core customers. The strategy is to develop a community of customers that you enjoy working with and both parties profit from working together. Qualified strategic partners are out there and we should be looking for them.

Steve Martinez implements sales management strategies with a focus on automating sales for printing organizations. Selling Magic teaches businesses how to automate and customizing ACT or Outlook with the best practices of sales management while integrating email marketing and technology for greater profits.

When Its Duh Time At Trade Show 3 Little Words Save The Day

Writen by Julia O'Connor

TIME, MONEY, HASSLE - You can make a sale on one of the Three Little Words, but when you sell on two of the three, you'll have a very loyal client.

You've have product training and sales training, you reviewed your company's web site and literature, you understand the demonstrations, and the marketing ideas behind the exhibit design. You're ready for the show.

But now you're standing in the booth and it's Duh? time. You can rattle off the features and benefits, but what does the person standing in front of you want to know?

It can be boiled down to three little words - Time, Money, Hassle.

They want you to save them time, charge less money and cut the hassle. Actually, it's what we all want when we shop ourselves, whether for banking or broccoli, wine or widgets. For example - We pay for chopped but bagged lettuce at the grocery store. Saves us money? No, costs a lot more than a head of lettuce, but it saves time and hassle because we don't have to chop it. Go through everything you buy and you'll find an example.

You can make a sale on one of the Three Little Words, but when you sell on two of the three, you'll have a very loyal client.

Frame your opening comments around these three words and you'll get people's attention. Don't make them ask the questions - be ready to find which of these words is most important to them and match your presentation to their concerns.

TIME - We all want time, more time, and trade shows are a time problem. It is compressed - there are only so many hours the show is open, so few hours to walk the aisles and minutes to stop at a booth. Conversations are brief, listening skills are strained and you'll never have enough time to go through the leisurely sales call process.

Here are 10 things people want to know about your company and Time:

1. What's your order-to-shipment time?

2. How long for custom orders and modifications?

3. How long is design time?

4. Do you stock everything I need, or do I have to wait for parts?

5. When will a salesman call on me?

6. How long does it take to learn?

7. How long does it take to teach someone?

8. What training materials and people are provided?

9. How long does it take to put together?

10. How long will it last?

MONEY - Money is important, and saving money in tight times is critical, but remember that beyond pure coin is value. Value is what you should sell. The simple definition is Value = Price + Performance. We all have something in the closet or the garage that we were sold on price alone, and we feel cheated.

Here are 10 things people want to know about your company and Money:

1. How much is it?

2. What's my discount?

3. Do you take credit cards?

4. Will you finance this?

5. What are your payment terms?

6. What's your guarantee?

7. What's my pay back?

8. Why are you higher (lower) than your competitor?

9. Do I have to pay for modifications?

10. What's the best deal you can give me?

HASSLE - If time is money, hassle is both time and money. If you save $500 when you buy, but it costs $1,000 in staff time to get a problem solved, was that a good deal? Of course not. These are the days of push-the-phone-button customer service, of voice mail hell with no live people, of cutbacks in staff who provided the corporate memory of how things really work, and increasingly of look on the web site. (Note - are you aware that more firms are adding a toll free number to help you find what you can't find on their web site? But you have to go to their site and read the small print to get the number!)

Here's are 10 things people want to know about your company and Hassle:

1. What are the most common problems with your product?

2. How do you solve those problems?

3. Have you ever called your own customer service department?

4. Are you 24/7/365?

5. How long does it take to get parts?

6. Who does the repair and how long does it take?

7. What's the guarantee process?

8. Who handles my account and what happens when she leaves?

9. What happens if you merge or go out of business?

10. What if it just doesn't work for us?

We all have true stories about customer service and the time-money-hassle factors. Here are a few of mine.

1. I needed a toner cartridge for an old and faithful printer. The local stores didn't carry it and didn't want to special order it, so I called the 800 number of a staple in the office supply business because I had a 15% coupon. It took one hour of call waiting, checking and finally my item was found! It could not be sent to the store so I could use the coupon and save the freight, but had to be sent to me directly. Now I'm on their mailing list and receive a catalogue every week. What a waste, but I've been told it's too difficult to take me off the mailing list. Is this my favorite store? Used to be. Not any more.

2. There are lots of ISP tales. Two years ago when the big one bought my little one, I had 13 days of intermittent service while they merged. This year, they changed "something" (their term) and I could receive mail but not send it. I spoke with 11 people over the course of a week, a total of 14 hours. I heard lots of music, lots of "what have you done?" and "let's just start all over". I spoke with supervisors, tech support and marketing. Finally, I found a new kid, who said, "Oh, yeah, we changed something. There, it's all fixed." Without billing them for my time, I figure this one experience cost the ISP five times what I pay in yearly service fees. Will I stay with them. Yes, because I'm afraid the next service will be worse.

3. Since I refuse to do business with people who know less about their company than I do, I often ask to speak to a supervisor. Now, I keep pad and paper whenever I make a call, and ask for name and extension. Recent responses - all true!

* There is no supervisor.

* They can't take incoming calls. Leave a name and number and they'll get back to you in 3 days.

* 20 minutes of music, then disconnect.

* Just disconnect.

* Call customer service. One hour of argument and being passed along via long holding patterns. We can't, never have and/or refuse to solve your problem. Hang up, call same number. Problem solved in two minutes.

* Voice mail hell with no option to speak to a real person.

* Web sites without real addresses or phone numbers. Contact us is an e-mail address which never responds.

Be Brief. Start your conversation with "(My Company) can save your company (time, money, hassle) and we support our customers."

Do customer service problems appear at trade shows? Occasionally. Do they happen after shows? All the time. The more you can define Time, Money and Hassle for your clients and prospects, the more profitable everyone will be.

Julia O'Connor
Speaker, Author, Consultant
Expert in the Psychology of the Trade Show Environment
Trade Show Training, Inc.
PO Box 17155, Richmond VA 23226

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sex Drugs Amp Rocknroll Trade Show Traps And Tips

Writen by Julia O'Connor

Sex, Drugs & Rock-n-Roll

Here's the Scenario...

You're at a trade show. Out of town. It's probably an unfamiliar city. Maybe overseas. Lots of strangers. There's a client or two. A couple of buddies. Lots of opportunities to do business. Lots of opportunities to get yourself in a bind.

This Commentary is about how to stay out of trouble, save your dignity and keep your job.

Trade shows are hard work - both physically and emotionally. It's tiring to travel. Hard to be away from home. Boring to be pleasant and smile for hours. And, a blow to the ego when people ignore you, don't respond to your comments, look the other way when passing your booth, or just say "no" to your offer.

There's pressure to produce. Talk with prospects. Entertain clients. Look for partners. Scout out the competition. Get the business. And, increasingly because of technology - e-mail, e-fax, cell phones - keep up with your "real" job at the same time. So, it's easy to fall into the traps of your normal stress reducers - the inter-relationships of sex, drugs & rock-n-roll.

The Lectures and the Tips...

I call these behaviors - Things your mother taught you not to do, but since you're away and you think nobody knows you, you can get away with them. Sorry, somebody does know. And that's you.

Sex - Ah, how nice it is to be loved. Or at least enjoyed for a short period. The temptations and availability of anonymous sex are high when you're away plus there's the chance to have a rendezvous with a co-worker, client or other business acquaintance. Magic moments fizzle fast when the sun comes up. Remember, your life is longer than the trade show.

Drugs - Does your company have a policy that allows you to buy, sell and use illegal drugs? Doubt it. You are on company time from the moment you leave your home until you return. Not only do you endanger your career and industry reputation, you run the risk of breaking US and foreign laws. Jail? Not a nice experience. Note that the U.S. Embassy cannot bail you out if you break foreign laws.

Are you traveling with legitimate prescription drugs? Keep them with you in the original bottles with the pharmacist's labels, keep a written copy of the prescription details in another location (in case you lose the vials and need refills). And most importantly, don't double up doses because you feel ill or uncomfortable. Check with your physician before you leave in case you have a minor emergency. This is especially true if you have allergies, a heart condition or use mood levelers. For example doubling tranquilizers may calm you to the point of stupor.

Rock-n-Roll - Hey, it's Party Time. Free beer. Free booze. Lots of great food. Music to rock by. Business is on a roll. You're king of the hill and queen for a day, you're entertaining and being entertained. What a life!

With some clients and in some cultures, you're expected to indulge in Party Time behavior. Drink a lot. It's OK to get drunk. Cozy up to the hostesses. Let your hair down and have a good time. Party hardy. Here's a secret - You can still be pleasant, have a good time and stay sober.

Why be a prude when party opportunities abound? Because you're smart. You know alcohol loosens lips. Your hosts are now willing to brag about their business - details on the newest product, personnel shifts, corporate goals and insider gossip. If you're sloshed, you won't remember. If you're drinking club soda with lime, you will.

Conversely, when you're drinking, you may trash your boss, reveal company secrets, ask the wrong person for a favor and be generally boastful and obnoxious. You'll be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

When sober, you're smarter because you're gathering critical market intelligence - information to get you ahead of your competition and be a leader in industry trends. Remember, at a trade show and all surrounding events, you are what people perceive as Your Company. How you act is how people view your firm.

The Solutions...

There are ways to avoid these traps. Here are perfectly legitimate excuses for not indulging in wayward behavior, but you have to make the rational decision to use them.

Think first of your health. Anything you knowingly do that endangers the health of you and your family is stupid, and hard to explain. Keep the wedding band on. Be polite and say no. The major VD's are still around, though treatable. But as global travel expands, new viruses and diseases are popping up and transmuting. Besides the emotional trauma associated with sexual escapades, the health risks are just not worth it.

Understand your corporate policies from using drugs to paying bribes to accepting gifts. What's standard at the office, applies away from the office. If you don't know your policies, ask before you go. Better be safe than sorry.

Examine your religious beliefs and laws. Adultery is a big sin in most religions. So are lying, cheating and stealing. We all want to do business with people who are trustworthy. It's your responsibility to demonstrate that.

Trust your gut. If you're uncomfortable in a situation, get out. Whether it's physical danger or an emotional jolt, your intuition is your best guide.

You can say "No, thanks." Because of health, corporate policy, beliefs and intuition. But the main reasons is because you're a trustworthy person.

Julia O'Connor - Speaker, Author, Consultant - is an expert in the psychoology of the trade show environment. As president of Trade Show Training, inc. she counsels clients around the country about staff selection, behavior and results for trade shows. -- 800-355-3910

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sales Management How To Stop Wasting Expensive Technical Resources

Writen by Alan Rigg

Do your salespeople have unlimited access to your company's technical resources? Do they take technical experts with them to first meetings with prospects? Does your management team make CONSCIOUS DECISIONS to allocate technical resources to opportunities, or do salespeople make those decisions on their own?

How often does this happen?

An excited salesperson contacts his or her sales manager and alerts them to a new opportunity. The sales manager assigns a technical expert to visit the prospect with the salesperson. The salesperson and the technical expert drive (or fly) to the prospect's location and spend days or weeks analyzing the prospect's situation. They perform product demonstrations and evaluations. Eventually they prepare a detailed proposal and deliver it to the prospect.

Unfortunately, the deal never closes...

The opportunity languishes in the salesperson's pipeline for many months and is eventually deleted. Even more unfortunate, all of the time and money your company invested to pursue the opportunity (salesperson and technical expert salaries, travel and entertainment expenses, product demonstration and evaluation costs, proposal preparation costs, etc.) was COMPLETELY WASTED.

If your want to minimize wasted technical resources, hold your salespeople accountable for collecting specific information PRIOR to allocating expensive technical experts to assist them with their opportunities. At minimum this should include requiring your salespeople to provide reasonably detailed answers to the following questions:

  • What BUSINESS PROBLEMS does the prospect have?

  • What is the IMPACT of these business problems on the prospect's business?

  • Can the impact of the business problems be QUANTIFIED?

  • How does the quantified impact COMPARE to the (estimated) cost of solving the business problems?

  • Is this quantified impact substantial enough to justify the PROSPECT investing time and resources to pursue a sales cycle?

  • Is the prospect WORTHY of time and resource investments by your company to pursue a sales cycle? For example:

    • Are they CREDIT WORTHY?

    • Do they have a BUDGET they can allocate to solving the business problems?

    • Have all key DECISION MAKERS and INFLUENCERS been identified?

    • Has the INFORMATION the decision makers need to have to enable them to make a buying decision been identified?

    • Does the prospect TAKE PROPOSALS OUT TO BID? If they do, what benefit will your company receive for designing a solution?

Armed with this information, you will be prepared to make CONSCIOUS resource allocation decisions.

This will enable you to focus your expensive technical resources on QUALIFIED opportunities, maximizing your company's return on time and resources invested. Plus, rather than acting as a crutch to help your salespeople perform initial opportunity qualification, your technical experts will be able to focus on working with prospect companies' technical experts to troubleshoot business problems, determine root causes, and identify potential solutions.

Other benefits can include reduced product and service training costs and increased size and quality of your company's sales opportunity pipeline.

How? If your salespeople become experts in FINDING and QUALIFYING opportunities, as well as LEVERAGING EXPERT RESOURCES to help them convert opportunities into sales, it will take less time for them to learn what they need to know to prospect effectively. Plus, if they focus the bulk of their time on finding and qualifying opportunities, they will source more qualified opportunities!

In summary, if your want to maximize your company's return on technical resource investments, hold your salespeople ACCOUNTABLE for collecting specific information PRIOR to allocating expensive technical experts to assist them with opportunities. Then, make CONSCIOUS technical resource allocation decisions. You should see immediate and significant improvements in your sales expense and sales opportunity close rates!

Copyright 2005 -- Alan Rigg

Sales performance expert Alan Rigg is the author of How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Selling: Why Most Salespeople Don't Perform and What to Do About It. His company, 80/20 Sales Performance, helps business owners, executives, and managers DOUBLE sales by implementing The Right Formula™ for building top-performing sales teams. For more information and more FREE sales and sales management tips, visit

Are You Setting Your Team Up For Failure

Writen by Tom Richard

Still dripping with the fresh idealistic views of a young professional, our hero proudly takes the stage. All eyes watch as he enters his first job and steps into the world of the sales profession.

Those with sales experience quietly stand by and think to themselves, "Be strong, young man." They secretly wish him the best of luck, knowing that in just one moment he will be blindsided by their abrasive world.

Then it happens – our young hero is bombarded with brochures, thrown into an orientation class, and quickly strapped with quotas. While those around him tell him that he shouldn't worry about hitting his goals, he is still eager to impress. Anything short of excellence will undoubtedly leave its mark.

Our hero is led to the field, following those he has been told he has much to learn from. He is quickly overtaken by an uncomfortable feeling rotting in the pit of his stomach. This is his first time cold calling.

The wily veteran shows off for our rookie, constantly reminding him that it really is just a numbers game. He tells our young hero that he shouldn't let the rejection bother him. After all, he'll get used to it.

Feeling like a fish out of water, our young salesman wonders why he feels so uncomfortable just talking to people. His newfound colleagues don't seem to be bothered at all by the gut-wrenching experience of cold calling.

Our young hero concludes that if only he understood the product better, he too would have the confidence needed for cold calling. He spends countless hours learning and studying brochures without ever knowing the real problem. It is not his lack of expert product knowledge that makes him uncomfortable; it is his lack of understanding himself.

The biggest mistake companies make when recruiting new salespeople is trying to make them into something they are not. They force them into a cookie cutter approach that stifles the salesperson's growth and only increases the company's extraordinary turnover rate.

Being successful in the sales profession takes more than just learning some sales process. It takes learning oneself; discovering one's own unique sales philosophy, and unlocking the natural sales skills that reside deep within each and every one of us.

The company's methods can be the same, but the way they are individually received and executed should be as unique as the personalities of every person on the team. When these unique characteristics are encouraged, supported, and applauded, young heroes can be comfortable and confident in their ability to be effective. This is the only way they can accurately represent the company and its products.

If a salesperson takes a journey of understanding why things are done in a certain way, then they will have the confidence to carry out the methods in a way that actually leads to results.

A salesperson with confidences communicates more effectively than a skittish salesperson. When comfortable in his own skin, our young hero can look Mr. Big in the eye and tell him that the product will be there on time. With that kind of confidence, Mr. Big will trust him and will feel just as confident buying from him.

When you make the assimilation into the profession such a nose bleed process, you are eliminating those salespeople who can actually empathize with the customers; those who enter sales as a way to help the greater good; those people who, with time and intelligent training, will truly set your company apart from your competition.

Changing your recruitment process will change your organization and the people within it. Rather than constantly replacing your staff, you'll attract talented salespeople and become a successful company just by letting your sales team be themselves.

Tom Richard conducts seminars on sales and customer service topics nationwide. Tom is also the author of Smart Salespeople Don't Advertise: 10 Ways to Outsmart Your Competition With Guerilla Marketing, and publishes a free weekly ezine on selling skills titled Sales Muscle. To subscribe to this free weekly ezine go to

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Top Sales Speaker Says Quotonbasepercentagequot Beats Quotbatting Averagequot Time And Again

Writen by Dr. Gary S. Goodman

Sales literature can be so quaint, resembling some of those old cars like the Packard, the once elegant nameplate that stopped being minted in the 1960's.

The advice from most selling gurus sounds as if it has been chewed over far too many times; much like the rubber chicken at a chamber of commerce mixer from that era.

For example, in sales books and articles, there is still an inordinate emphasis being placed on "closing" deals.

Just this week I got a call from a commercial realtor who feels he isn't closing well enough; that this art of pinning down commitments from prospects is his weakness.

But I have a different take on the challenge.

There aren't that many buyers that are slipping away from him or from most other pitchmen.

He's not APPROACHING enough to have a good number of them slip away.

Instead of obsessing about closing deals, he should pay more attention to OPENING them.

But let's take a moment for a quick digression, if you'll be so kind.

If you're a genial seller, with an ultra-bright, 200-watt smile, and an engaging manner, and you put your proposal before enough folks, you're bound to earn some business even if you're the worst closer on the planet.

How can this be?

Simply put, if you have the above mentioned qualities, and you put your product or service "in play" enough, you'll get on base, even through buyers' errors, and sometimes you'll even score and win games.

Buyers will help you to victory, by closing themselves.

But, to take the baseball analogy farther, the predicate for making a lot of sales is not that you hit walk-off home runs, but that you garner enough at-bats and you swing a lot, or even keep your mouth shut enough, walking in some runs.

In other words, on-base-percentage is more significant than batting average.

Who cares if you close 50% of your prospects if you see too few of them to begin with?

The seller that closes 33% of his prospects, but who sees twice as many, will always come out ahead.

Closing can be a blast, especially when we have sealed a deal that helps us to beat our quotas, to win a sales contest, or to put a tidy sum in our bank accounts.

And by all means we need to know how to close, and to echo a refrain from my hometown, we need to close "early and often."

Still, OPENING is the skill that is going to help you to score even more often, so keep that in mind as you plan your sales week.

Best-selling author of 12 books more than 850 articles, and "The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable," the Nightingale-Conant audio program, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered "The Gold Standard"--the foremost expert in sales development, customer service, and telephone effectiveness. Top-rated as a speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the globe and the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Avoiding The Customers You Dont Want The 10 Warning Signs Of Trouble

Writen by Jonathan Kranz

The truth is, not all customers are equal. It's common knowledge: to succeed, we must concentrate our marketing efforts on the customers who are most profitable.

I believe that the obverse is true, too. At the other side of the profitability bell curve is that pool of customers who drain our time, talent and energy, customers so enervating that they are not only not profitable, they represent real losses in money and momentum.

I call these potential customers the Pain-In-The-Assets or PITA Prospects. Fortunately, you can frequently identify them within the first ten minutes of conversation. While the following observations may be drawn from the field of marketing consulting, I'm sure you'll recognize (perhaps with a sigh) some of the tell-tale danger signals all professional service providers inevitably cross in their careers.

1) "I've tried X, and X just doesn't work."

Advertising. Websites. Databases. Your would-be customer insists that they've already tried a common, business-tested tactic and found failure where others have succeeded. Instead of analyzing why it went wrong, or making the effort to learn from their experience, they assume the tactic itself is flawed. So they reject your very reasonable recommendation and move on to some other "magic bullet" solution. Which, given their impatience, is also likely to fail.

2) "My cousin's nephew will handle the coding."

Ah, a two-fer danger signal. First, a desire to "save money" by consigning important work to an amateur (plus an implied disrespect for real, professional expertise). But as an added bonus, you get the specter of family politics. Any criticism on your part, no matter how diplomatic, becomes an assault on a loved one. Run!

3) "I love the way Microsoft does this."

Yeah, me too. And if I had a loose $250 million lying around, I'm sure that's the direction I'd go as well. But I don't, and that's one of the reasons mere mortals, such as myself, have to do things differently. More modest resources demand alternative methods and adjusted expectations. Beware clients who set unreasonable expectations based on comparisons to businesses several leagues above themselves.

4) "You know, I showed this to my neighbor and now I have second thoughts"

You've spent weeks conducting research, compiling information and composing plans. After several more weeks of discussions, negotiations and long, tedious meetings, the client has finally achieved internal consensus and committed to a plan. Or so you thought. One day you get a phone call out of the blue: your client contact discussed your plan with his neighbor (the propane salesman – the brilliant nephew coder must have been busy that day) and now, based on one over-the-fence conversation with someone who knows absolutely nothing about the business at hand, the entire project is torpedoed. Yes, it is time for second thoughts – your own. Dump this client.

5) "Our budget is kind of tight on this."

You look around your client's office. There's plenty of money to spend on $1,000 office chairs, gourmet coffee brewers and the collectible pinball machines in the corner. But not for your particular project. Is this really an issue about money? Or is it about what the client really values? If something is worth doing right, it's worth spending money on. No money? No you.

6) "We've tried four vendors already and none of them could 'get it.'"

Sure, we usually believe that we're better than our competitors, but our honesty compels us to acknowledge that, on the whole, most of them are fully competent and capable professionals. One or two may let a client down, but when it becomes three or four or more, I get suspicious. When there's a high burn-through rate, chances are the fault lies with the client's working process, not with all the vendors.

7) "Give us a big discount on this – there'll be lots more work ahead."

Such a deal! Do this project for less than its worth – and maybe you'll earn the opportunity to do many more cut-rate, nickel-and-dime projects in the future. Again, this is about values. A prospect who makes price the top criterion for choosing a vendor is not the kind of client who respects quality work.

8) "Why? Because my competitors are doing it this way."

There are lots of good reasons for pursuing a policy – but to follow a competitor's path usually isn't one of them. You often don't know why a competitor takes a particular action, and more importantly, without data regarding its effectiveness, you don't know whether it works. A competitor's behavior is poor rationale for an important business decision – but the application of that rationale is a clear sign of trouble.

9) "We need your quote tomorrow."

Drop everything, because this is a rush, rush, rush. No matter that there's no time to gather relevant information or assess the true scope of the project – your detailed quote has to be surrendered right now. But funny thing…

10) "We're still reviewing your proposal."

A few weeks have passed since you and your team stayed up until 2:00 in the morning to hammer out the proposal your prospect just absolutely had to have in the morning. But the initial deadline for the company's decision has long passed and you can't get straight answers from any of its representatives. Okay, so maybe that's the way business goes sometimes. But if you eventually do get the work, guess what? The original deadline for deliverables will remain in effect, even though there's now half the time to get the job done. Consider this bad start an ill omen.

A final observation.

To some degree, all customers present their own unique challenges. Part of our responsibility as professionals is to rise to these occasions, to deliver that extra edge of service or brilliance or persistence our clients may require.

But when the relationship begins on faulty grounds – when the customer shows carelessness or lack of respect for your experience and expertise – watch out and reconsider. It may be time to cut your losses and move beyond the PITA prospects to serve the customers who deserve your best efforts.

Jonathan Kranz is the author of Writing Copy for Dummies,, and the principal of Kranz Communications,, a marketing communications and public relations writing firm specializing in B2B and consumer services marketing. He offers customized in-house and on-site marketing and PR seminars, and is a popular speaker at professional association events, meetings, workshops and conferences,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sales Forecasting A Few Tips To Make It Easier

Writen by Jim Stewart

If we could forecast the future accurately, most of us would spend our lives at a racetrack or casino rather than at work. But forecasting the future is something we all have to do as business owners – either to set internal goals, to obtain additional financing and for other reasons. Forecasting is, however, one of the most difficult and frustrating things that we have to do and few things cause as much anguish and soul searching as sales forecasts.

So, for a start, forget trying to predict the future and focus on using "informed judgment". Many attempts at forecasting fail because those involved, from sales reps. to business owners, don't have the detailed knowledge of their market, their competitors, their customers and potential customers that is essential for making good estimates. They are less than fully informed when they make their judgment of what will happen – and that's a failure of work and effort, not of technique.

We also forget that we can only control some of the things that have an impact on our forecasts, for example, the number of dealers we approach, the effectiveness of our promotional tools and our price strategy. There are others factors which directly affect the odds of our success but which are beyond our control. Some are known and can be reflected in the assumptions on which are forecasts are based, for example the price of crude oil, low pay scales for offshore labour. But there are others to which we can only react, for example an unexpected outbreak of SARS.

The most common mistakes, in my experience, are that we overestimate how much we can sell and how quickly we can sell it. Avoiding those mistakes is hard enough when estimating how much more our existing customers will buy of the products they currently use. Adding any "new" dimension just adds complexity.

Forecasting increased sales to current customers should be easy. We either increase the volume of existing products, start selling them products they don't currently buy and/or increase prices. But if the account managers don't have the skill - or don't make the effort - to get as much information about, for example, what is happening in the customer's own business and how that affects our offering to them, we will be trying to forecast with less than detailed knowledge. So, we can't make informed judgments - fertile ground for overestimating what can be sold.

What happens if, for example, we're going to start selling an existing product in a new geographic market? If our competitors already offer a product in that region/province/country, how much of our sales will come from the market share we'll take away from them and how much will come from the continuing growth of the market? To begin, we must understand how our product quality, lead times and prices compare with our competitor's and how much it will cost to get our message heard over their promotional "noise". We can do some simple, inexpensive research to gain the detailed knowledge required to answer those questions.

When it comes to taking market share away from competitors, we have to make 2 sales. Firstly convince the customer to stop buying from our competitors and then convince them to buy our product - which is untested in this marketplace. But for most business owners, who are natural optimists and driven, type 'A" personalities, it is not difficult to underestimate how long this will take!

Estimating the sales that will come just from market growth may seem easy by comparison. All we have to do is to convince the remaining distribution channels to sell our widget - make 1 sale instead of two (always assuming our competitors have left some distributors for us). But estimating how long our new distributors will need to ramp up requires information to help us assess how effective the distributors will be. We also want our share of the market to grow at least as quickly as the market itself. The future market growth rate can be forecast using the actual growth rate for the last 2 or 3 years (either as is, or adjusted upwards or downwards). The rate at which we grow depends on how good a Marketing plan we have. Developing an effective Marketing plan requires informed judgment. Anything less, combined with that optimistic approach of the entrepreneur, will, once again, result in overestimates.

Here's a final piece of advice. Even if you've worked hard and spent time gathering detailed knowledge which you used to make informed judgments, don't stop when you develop a "final" set of numbers. Unless you've been unusually pragmatic in arriving at this first forecast, call it your best case. Now think of the things that are most likely to go wrong, assume that they will, change your spread sheets accordingly – and call that your worst case. Finally, it's unlikely that everything will go against you but it's equally unlikely that everything will go your way so take a third approach, which avoids either of the extremes, run the numbers again – and call that your most likely case.

© Copyright ProfitPATH, a division of JDS & Associates Inc., 2006

Before becoming CEO of the Canadian subsidiary of a multi-national corporation, Jim gained over 25 years' business experience in major corporations (including subsidiaries of Pitney Bowes, Xerox and ITT) in Canada and Internationally. His orientation and expertise saw him spend much of his time starting and growing new or existing businesses. Since 1997, he has specialized in helping the owners of small and medium size enterprises, successfully achieve their growth objectives. Three of the companies with whom he has worked have received Business Achievement Awards. In 1995, Jim completed an MBA in the Executive Program at the University of Toronto, finishing on the Dean's List. He also holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of South Africa. Visit Jim's web site for more information.

Do You Talk Too Much

Writen by Tim Connor

One of the biggest mistakes poor salespeople make is THEY TALK TOO MUCH. The second is: THEY GIVE INFORMATION BEFORE THEY GET IT.

When you make these mistakes, you will tend to turn off most potential customers or clients. I remember my first sales position back in the early 60s. I worked for one of the top 5 insurance companies in the world. They fired me after 6 months. When you don't sell anything for 6 months…….well, I am surprised it took them so long. There were a number of reasons why I failed, and I don't intend to bore you with all of them – just one, to illustrate the point of this week's tip. (By the way, the industry at that time had a 90% turnover rate in new agents in their first year, so it wasn't just me. As a footnote, several years ago I was asked to speak to a group of sales agents from that company. Isn't life interesting?)

Back to the story. The way they taught me to sell was to memorize the sales presentation that they had developed, and then go out and deliver it 4-5 times a day. Their justification at the time was that selling is a numbers game. (We'll save that subject for a future tip.) This is what I call a product or organizational-driven sales approach. It doesn't work. The message you send to a prospect when you go into this feature dump is – all prospects are the same and buy for the same reasons. Not so, and you and they know it.

The key to your success is not in the delivery of a pre-planned message that covers all the features that some genius in your organization has decided are important. The key to your success is to discover what your prospect's needs, issues, concerns, problems, wants, desires or attitudes are. Then, deliver only that information that they need to make an intelligent buying decision now. Give them the rest of the stuff later – if they want it.

When you talk too much, you will give unnecessary or wrong information. Learn to let the prospect drive the process; not the control of it, but the information portion. Another myth or way of stating this is the outdated sales axiom: Plan your sales calls.

Don't plan the information you are going to give. If you have been selling your product or service for a year or more, you shouldn't need to do this. However, plan the information you need to get – the questions you are going to ask.

Tim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 3500 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management, leadership and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 60 books including; Soft Sell, That's Life, Peace Of Mind, 91 Challenges Managers Face Today and Your First Year In Sales. He can be reached at, 704-895-1230 or visit his website at

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Hardest Job Of A Trade Show

Writen by Julia O'Connor

You've heard this before: There were four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it. Nobody did it. Somebody got angry because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Somebody would do it. But Nobody asked Anybody. It ended up that the job was not done, and Everybody blamed Somebody, when actually, Nobody asked Anybody.

Question is - What was the Job?

At a trade show, the job that Anybody can do, and Everybody thinks Somebody will do, but winds up being that Nobody does it - well, that's the follow-up part.

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research ( says research shows that up to 80% of leads gathered at a show are not followed up. Bottom line, that translates to - you've wasted 80% of your money.

Here are tips for recouping your investment and improving your bottom line:

1. What's Your Purpose at the Show?
If it's to gather leads, then that should be the main focus for the entire process - before, during and after the show. What if it's something else, like meeting with clients or recruiting employees? That doesn't absolve you of following up leads. You still have to do it.

2. What's a Lead?
Define before the show what you consider a lead. Is it a company that will purchase within a certain time period? Has a certain budget? Is looking for a particular product you sell? You can separate the contacts into levels - A, B, C or hot, medium, cool - and work them that way. But they still have to be contacted.

3. Who's Responsible?
Before you get into the Body problem - any, no, some and every - write out the process. Produce a schedule for following up. The first contact should come within 10 days of the end of the show. Otherwise people forget who you are. The trail becomes cool, then cold. Determine names and responsibilities at each step of the follow-up process. Accountability is important. Make certain people know what is expected of them, and who else is in the process. This is critical when the person staffing the booth is not the person who does the actual call. The farther and longer the process from the show site and date, the more chances there are to lose the lead.

4. What's a Follow-up?
At minimum it's a Thank You note to every contact you made. These people invested time and money to come to the show, time and effort to stop by your booth. The simple courtesy of a Thank You goes a long way in today's fast paced and impersonal world. If you listened properly and were able to gather specific information, you can provide a quote, supply answers and have a real reason for the follow-up call.

5. What Should You Send?
Unless requested, do not send the $20.00, 20-pound corporate package of literature that tells absolutely everything about your company. Do not send an obvious form letter ("Thank you for visiting us at the ABC Expo in Booth 6543 six months ago...").

Do Send:

* your business card - people will remember a logo and spelling of names and companies
* information about your company - a generic piece is fine
* the specific answer to the question - My company can help your company ____ (crunch numbers faster, ship with less hassle, increase accuracy in testing)
* any samples, price lists or references which will help speed the sales cycle.

Remember - The job that Anybody can do, and Everybody thinks Somebody will do, but Nobody does - well, that changes when all understand the importance of trade show follow-up.

Julia O'Connor - Speaker, Author, Consultant - is an expert in the psychology of the trade show environment. She understands the reluctance of some staff to be company players at a trade show - the "It's-Not-My-Job" attitude.

Companies spend big bucks to exhibit , then drop the ball at follow-up, which can be the most important part of the whole experience. -- 800-355-3910

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Winning The Bid Doesnt Mean You Must Be The Lowest Bidder

Writen by Steve Hanson

Winning the bid for a cleaning contract doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be the lowest bidder. The entire bidding and estimating process has an enormous impact on the success of your bid, and should be considered an overall effort, and not just an aim to beat the price of any competing business. The trick is to communicate well with the facility operator in order to create a set of standard expectations and definitions for the job itself. That way, the bid you make will cater precisely to what your prospective client wants and expects, and will justify your bidding price.

Normally the services required will depend on the client, but can include sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, buffing, waxing, emptying trash and recycling, restroom cleaning and restocking, and window cleaning.

When bidding on janitorial contracts, it is best to have a specifications list that you go over with the prospective client. This ensures you and the client both know exactly what is expected, and allows you to bid accordingly. Make sure you check both inside and outside of the building, and include any seasonal or special tasks such as outside windows or sidewalks that require attention. On your tour, be aware of the level of cleanliness already present, and try and gage the expectations of the client accordingly.

Your checklist should contain the following items as a basic foundation, and should have additional points, depending on the specifics of the particular job, as well as any specialties you may offer to provide:

  • Total cleanable square footage, including the types of floor surfaces and the measurements per type of floor surface. Floor care services such as carpet cleaning and stripping and waxing is usually bid separately. It is common for a floor care bid to be submitted on a square footage price as an add-on service.
  • Tasks and frequency of these tasks.
  • Similar to the floors, windows can be bid on in a per-unit basis and can be considered an add-on service.
  • Restroom supplies and trash can liners should be identified. An additional bid can be made for their management (and a small profit as well).
  • Overhead expenses, fixed expenses, variable expenses, labor, and materials should all be considered in your bid price.
  • Production cleaning rates - for example how long it takes to vacuum a space based on square footage, how long a restroom fixture takes to clean (toilets, urinals, sinks), and how many trash cans can be emptied in an hour.
  • Initial cleaning cost - you may need to charge separately for the first-time cleaning if the building needs to be brought up to the correct level of appearance by giving a thorough detailed cleaning.
When you leave the site, don't forget to ask your prospective customer any questions you may have about details and expectations. It's also important to find out your client's priorities between price and quality.

Remember that the presentation of your bid is as important as its contents. Put some effort into creating a standard bidding packet, which includes information about your company, a specifications list, references, testimonials, contract, and other information is greatly appreciated and very impressive to potential clients.

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community for owners and managers of cleaning companies who want to build a more profitable and successful cleaning business. Sign up for Trash Talk: Tip of the Week at and receive a Free Gift!

Ball Of String Sales Supervision

Writen by Don McNamara

How many times have you hired a new sales person and because he or she was experienced and successful somewhere else, they understand how to be successful in your organization? Moreover, did you take for granted that the new salesperson understood what was expected of them on the very first day they began with you? And unfortunately sometime later discovered they do not have your company's sales process, policies, procedures and prices well understood?

In many ways you vest authority to your salespeople to make instantaneous decisions when in the customer and prospect presence. Unless your salesperson is fully knowledgeable (and that means tested in some fashion) about how it is done in your company, predictably a few things will come unraveled.

Try this the next time you bring a new salesperson aboard; that is try the "ball of string" approach.

As you verify assigned minor goals and objectives are being completed, you can let a little string off the ball to see how the increased authority and responsibility is handled. Then, as more difficult objectives are completed you let a little more string out, giving a little more opportunity to demonstrate their grasp of your company. After successive measurement periods you will have an understanding of exactly what the new salespersons' capabilities are so far. Now you are in a position to identify what skill set, additional product or company knowledge is required for enhanced performance - or if corrective action needs to be taken.

Why do this? Coaching your salespeople to improved performance involves understanding any present competencies, as well as those areas that need shoring up and improvement. When you turn your new salespeople "loose" if you will, you will discover further along that what you had assumed at the start was most likely premature. They are not ready to be considered a full-fledged salesperson – at least not yet in your organization. Assuming they are up to speed too soon probably will require you to intervene, or worse yet perform triage in rectifying scenarios created from lack of company policies, procedures, processes, practices and product knowledge. Also expect to receive phone calls from your prospects and customers asking you 'what is going on with your company anyway?'

Try the "ball of string" technique the next time you select and hire any new salesperson. Letting a little string out as you go and as objectives are meet ensures you know where the new hire is in their understanding of your organization. You'll find you understand how well the basics are understood, as well as what you need to address with them so they continue to improve. Through continuous observation and coaching, you will always be able to judge what remains open for improvement; letting a little more string off the ball as you go.

And oh yes, lest we fail to mention, something for your own piece of mind.

Doing it this way will avoid being awake nights wondering when you personally must get involved in sweeping up the broken glass created by incorrect information about your company's sales process, policies, procedures and prices with your customers and internal support organization. Moreover, the last thing you want to deal with is an upset customer that is barraging you with complaints about the new salespersons' sales style.

Don McNamara is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and is President of Heritage Associates, Inc.

Heritage Associates is a full service sales management consulting, training and coaching company. Don also speaks and writes on the art and science of superior sales management and top sales performance.

With over 30 years sales experience from the field level to executive sales management, in his career he has been an individual contributor, corporate sales training manager, regional manager, national sales manager and vice president of sales. Don is a member of the Institute of Management Consultants, where he serves as Professional Development Chair and the National Speakers Association.

For a free e-newsletter contact Don McNamara at or by phone (949) 230-4363.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sales Manager Is Your Title Not Your Job Description

Writen by Mick Bradley

Sales manager is your JOB TITLE. It isn't your JOB DESCRIPTION. Effective management requires both great leadership skills and sales ability. Both require different strengths. The top salesperson talents that earned you the promotion don't always translate into being a great leader.

How did you get where you are today You demonstrated the ability to sell. You were effective. Most likely it wasn't because your company sent you to manager training school. They saw something in you that that showed leadership ability. You have a great track record. In your role the tough part is hiring and training your people to be effective Your sales team is your lifeblood. The results are direct reflection of you. You want people just like you. That's the toughest part of your job.

DON'T EXPECT EVERYONE TO HAVE YOUR WORK ETHIC All people are not created equally. Most don't have your talent and desire.

FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE Be upfront with your people. If you expect something make certain they know what it is. Put it in writing. Set expectations and then let them know how they are doing.

BE OBSERVANT Diagnose before you try to cure. Take time to see what is working and what is not before you decide to make changes.

BE FRIENDLY, DON'T BECOME FRIENDS There is a reason the military doesn't let officers fraternize with enlisted personnel. When its time to make a decision someone has to be the leader.

DELEGATE TO THE RIGHT PLAYERS You have lots of talented people around you. No one of us can do it all. Learn to utilize their abilities in helping you build a frame of great teamwork.

SELF IMPROVEMENT for YOU and YOUR PEOPLE Offer more than you expect. Lead by example so your people will see what it takes to grow and develop in their career. Do not stop learning; being a manager is not the exercise of some dormant ability. Self improvement is a continual process.

2006 Copyright MasteringSelling

Friday, July 18, 2008

Be A More Effective Sales Manager

Writen by Mary Anne Winslow

The customer forms his opinion of an organization based on the people that he works with and sees. For a company, this is the salesperson. The salesperson shapes and structures the customer's view of the company. Thus, the advancement and collapse of a corporation rests almost solely on the performance of the salesperson. In turn, the responsibility of the qualifications of the salespeople rest on those who train them. This essay is devoted to help set objectives and find a good strategy for the sales manager.

The personal touch and customer service is back in style. More "face time" with the customer and focus on service is showing up as a trend in sales. The management of the sales force is changing as a result with more metrics in place for measurement of outcomes. Globalization presents sales management with the challenge of understanding how cultural influences affect certain business behavior.

Face time

Face time with the customer may be a key to long-term success of a sales force. Making your sales force more productive and minimizing their time in the office will increase revenue…theoretically. Assuming that the sales professional we're talking about is not an idiot who couldn't sell anything to anyone.

One way to get the sales force out of the office and encourage more productivity is to provide more freedom. Some sales professionals may want to hire an assistant, on their own dime, to increase their face time with customers. This can be a risky, but a worth while step for the sales professional. Even though they will be personally responsible for the assistants' salary, the sales professional can free themselves from the daily routine and time consumption of paperwork. This will allow the sales professional to return client calls much quicker, increase face time and ultimately sell much more.

Metrics & CRM

With new customer relationship management (CRM) software available via the web, the sales person can be more productive in the field without tying them down to a desk. CRM automates the recording of customer contacts and improves the development of products and services by analyzing existing buying patterns and streamlining access to customer data.

What does this mean for the sales force and sales management? Measurement opportunity! Organizations are realizing that in order to achieve their business objectives, increasing efficiency alone is not enough. Every company that sells products or services needs to maintain good customer relationships. In order to measure the "good" in "good customer relationships", organizations must review their sales force productivity.

Sales metrics allow managers to review ways to:

• Improve sales effectiveness

• Improve customer service/loyalty

• Improve communications

• Improve forecasts

• Provide current information

• Increase revenues

• Support team selling

• Increase selling time

• Improve sales management

• Improve marketing effectiveness

• Increase margins

• Decrease sales costs

Metrics and CRM are a powerful combination as sales managers have more ways of measuring sale force productivity and outcomes.

Globalization & Understanding Cultures

Every company that sells products or services needs to maintain good customer relationships, but nowhere is this more important than on the Web. With competitors just a few clicks away, every e-business must build customer loyalty in order to survive. As organizations market and sell to more countries, understanding cultural differences is important.

The role of foreign governments and their rules and practices are large considerations when doing business abroad. Some countries view companies as "corporate citizens". Cultural considerations include personal selling techniques, cultural generalization approaches, and corporate culture. Sales force management consists of the following:

• Setting sales force objectives

• Designating sales force strategy

• Recruiting and selecting sales people

• Training salespeople

• Supervising salespeople

• Evaluating salespeople

When executing these steps, cultural considerations come into play. What motivates an individual in China or Russia to sell your product? What management style does a salesperson in Japan or India respect? What types of training are most needed in different countries to optimize the local sales force? Ethical perceptions are different in every culture. Decision making such as whether to focus on the U.S. corporate culture in other countries rather than allowing the divisions in other countries to develop their own culture are key factors to success in globalizing an organization.

Another important decision point is whether or not to deploy U.S. sales people overseas to manage local operation in the foreign market. Advantages could include better communications with the home office and focused development of talent. Difficulties could include cross-cultural training for the U.S. sales people being deployed, motivation, compensation, and family discord. Study of previously conducted research provides insight for organizations planning to expand business into other countries.


Organization success or failure rests largely on the effectiveness sales force. Increasing face time for sales people may be a key factor in improving long-term success of the sales force. Sales force management is changing toward the use of CRM software. Metrics and the use of CRM software provide a powerful means of measuring sale force productivity and outcomes. As organizations market and sell to more countries, understanding cultural differences is important. Sales management is challenged with understanding how cultural influences can affect business behavior and decision-making.

Mary Anne Winslow is a member of Essay Writing Servicecounselling department team and a dissertation writing consultant. Contact her to get free counselling on custom essay writing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Sales Force Of The Future Its Not About Selling

Writen by Rick Johnson

Jeff Gitomer coined the phrase at a recent convention: "It's not about what you are selling, it's about what the customer is buying."

In reality, the customer is not buying your product, he is buying fulfillment for a need. Salespeople need to diagnose customers' business needs and create solutions that help improve customers' business performance. What is the customer really buying? Thomas Winninger, America's marketing strategist states it simply with the following examples:

"BMW doesn't sell cars, their customers buy a driving experience."

"Kodak doesn't sell film, their customers buy a magic moment."

"Hertz doesn't rent cars, they get you out of the airport faster."

Nowadays, salespeople must be problem solvers able to generate solutions for customers in their time of need. Therefore, they must possess a great deal of knowledge about their customers' business. Often, they must actually define what those needs are because the customer may not know, nor take the time to explain.

Customers want the "Sales Force of the Future" to have the knowledge and intelligence to comprehend and analyze their problems before showing up at the door. Customers will listen and buy from the salesperson that finds the "pain" and takes it away. They want solution providers, not the "coolest technology" with three adjustable speeds.

The "Sales Force of the Future" recognizes that it's not about what you are selling. It's not all about the product. They are knowledgeable about the customer's problem, what he/she is really buying, and translates the solution into the sale.

Old and New Formulas

As today's sales environment leans toward a more multifaceted atmosphere, salespeople must become strategists with a plan. This plan requires more knowledge about the business, better relationships and better solutions. Some old school salesmen may believe they know what it takes. They have the experience. They've been around a long time. They also may be wrong. The world is changing. The "Sales Force of the Future" is doing things differently. They recognize we can't afford to become complacent. Complacency destroys competitive advantage. As sales professionals, we can't become full of ourselves, no matter how long we've been in the field, no matter how much experience we have. Thomas Winninger emphasizes my point in telling the story of the tortoise and the hare.

In the fable The Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise didn't win the race. The hare lost it. He lost it because he was stupid. He was too busy looking over his shoulder wondering what the tortoise was doing instead of taking advantage of his strengths. He was better, faster, quicker and smarter - but he forgot, he became complacent.

On the flip side, the "Sales Force of the Future" understands that everyday is a new learning experience. In the old days when I was a salesman growing up in distribution, sales success had a simple formula: Relationship Selling. A mentor of mine drilled that formula into my head.

Formula of Past Success: Develop a strong relationship with your customer, make friends with him, and he will find a way to buy from you.

Relationships alone will not get you the sale today. Of course, they are still very important, especially to get a chance to even apply today's formula for success. Today's formula is just as simple as in the past, but remember, it's not about what you are selling, it's about what the customer is buying. Figure out what he is buying - what solution the customer needs. Formula of the "Sales Force of the Future:" Figure out what the customer is really buying. Become a total solution provider by taking away the pain.

Find the pain and make it go away, even if it has nothing to do with your product. It's about being a total solution provider. Today's formula works because it creates competitive advantage. It is the secret to success for the "Sales Force of the Future."

In times past, salespeople were trained to focus on their product. They knew everything about it - what features it had, the benefits, how long it could last and what the red button did when pressed. Salespeople talked about the product until they were blue in the face. Armed with brochures and warranties, they were ready to attack. But, in today's environment, customers want more, not just the latest technology and the best "widget" a person can buy. They want complete solutions to all their problems. Suddenly, the brochure and other marketing materials are simply support functions. Buyers are more educated, more professional and seek more than just products. They want efficiencies, market share and profit generation.

As Jeff Gitomer says, "You cannot puke all over your customers with features and benefits." In the old days, we were taught to spray the purchasing agent's office with talk about these features and benefits. When they asked questions we were trained to watch their lips, and when they took a breath, that was our sign to talk some more. In contrast, the "Sales Force of the Future" needs to LISTEN more than 80% of the time. UNDERSTAND the customer's behavior, goals, industry, problems, his way of thinking, how he makes money, his customer's customers, and ultimately, their problems. Again, it's about what the customer is buying.

Caution: The Solution May Not Be What it Seems

That is why it is important that the "Sales Force of the Future" understands the customer's customer and the customer's industry. Sometimes a solution that seems obvious is obviously wrong. My eight-year-old grandson, Zayne, drove that point home to me just last week. We got in the car to go down to the store. Being a responsible grandfather, I put him in the back seat and told him to buckle his seat belt. "Gee, Grandpa we're only going down to the store on the corner. Do I have to?" "Zayne," I replied, "It's a proven fact that more than 75% of accidents happen within 20 miles of your home." With the seriousness and pure innocence of an eight-year-old, Zayne looked at me puzzled and said, "Then why don't we just move? "

Finding the Pain

Be more knowledgeable and conscious of your customer's problem. You're no longer selling a product, you're selling a solution to make their life easier, happier, better, less complicated, or more fun. By understanding the customer's business and his customers, you help them make a profit through both cost reductions, improved efficiencies, increased value and increased sales. Those solutions come in many forms and may have nothing to do with your product. That's okay. Look for the pain regardless of what it is and focus on the solution.

Customers don't want products, they want profits - or ways to make profits. They want satisfaction, feelings of comfort, pride, praise and self-esteem. They are people just like us. Well, maybe they don't have the same crazy genetics that we have as salespeople, but they are just as smart, just as caring and have similar personal needs and feelings.

So, how do salespeople find the customer's pain and identify the problem? How do we figure out what they are really buying? You gain much of this knowledge by listening. I mean really listening. You don't focus on pushing product. You focus on the customer and what he is telling you. You research his industry. You talk to his customers and even his competitors, but carefully. Once you have this knowledge and understand your customer completely, you can provide intelligent solutions to almost any challenge. You have raised your customer's expectations of you and your company, which creates competitive advantage. It's all about value - not the value-added built into your product or your service, but it's about adding value to a situation, to your relationship. Do this and you create a real partnership with your customer and his company.

It's Not Rocket Science

Steps to follow:

1. Relationships are still very important - Build them.

2. Analyze the situation - Understand the customer's problem before you talk about the solution. Listen, listen, listen.

3. Be familiar with the customer's past, present and future goals and adjust accordingly.

4. Put yourself in their shoes. What would you want to hear? What would you do?

5. Talk to the "head man" - the hub - the one who makes the decisions and knows the company inside and out.

6. Know the industry - Talk to your customer's customers.

7. Do your homework - Surf the net and do research. Learn your customer's business, his market, his competition, how he makes a profit, his customer and, most importantly, his personal pain in doing business.

As stated earlier, relationships are still important. In fact, there should be multiple layers of relationships between your customer's firm and yours, not just one. What's the difference today? The relationship is just the ante to play in the world of professional sales. Once we've established those relationships, we must manage them well to provide maximum value to our customers.

The lone wolf sales approach of the past, the one I too grew up using, won't work in today's environment. The "Sales Force of the Future" understands that. Times have changed. Consolidations continue to occur. Purchasing is a profession. Customers are smarter. They gain more market power everyday. The "Sales Force of the Future" understands that it is no longer about Power & Politics, it's now about Principle & Process. Success for the "Sales Force of the Future" depends on an architecture aligned with customers' needs and profit opportunities. Remember, it's not about what you are selling!

Dr. Rick Johnson ( is founder of CEO Strategist LLC. an experienced based firm specializing in strategic leadership . CEO Strategist works in an advisory capacity with company executives in board representation, executive coaching, education and training to make the changes necessary to create competitive advantage. You can contact them by calling 352-750-0868, or visit for more information. Rick received an MBA from Keller Graduate School in Chicago, Illinois,a Bachelor's degree from Capital University and his PhD in strategic leadership.