Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is selling tough for you?

Is selling tough for you at the moment? I guess for most of us it is, especially in the current economic climate.

Being a good (great) salesperson helps and will at least keep some sales flowing in, even during hard times. But just being great isn't enough anymore really. Life, the world and your prospects have moved on and the word 'gullible' has definitely been removed from their dictionary!

I have always believed that, to be a great sales person, you have to know the basics first. It's just like any new skill you learn there are some primary text books to cover and understand before you move on to more advanced stuff.

Richard Denny's Selling to Win is one of those text books. Every new sales person should at least read and understand it's contents, but it's also good to read as an occasional refresher for us all. But sales life has moved on dramatically and we need to view the process in a new light.

I came across Sean McPheat, a sales training guru, recently and downloaded his excellent eBook The Sales Persons Crisis . It just requires your email address to access and there is no charge. It's a really worthwhile read and should help you understand and cope with the changes in sales techniques required to compete today.

More sales resources are available on my Alloy CRM website here:

Monday, April 26, 2010

A sales meeting got me thinking

A meeting today with a small group of new sales guys for the cross platform (Mac/Apple & PC) contact management software I'm overseeing got me thinking.

I went through with them the product and it's competitors looking at a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) for each. Looked at the potential triggers for purchase and potential problems it would solve, followed up by some marketing activity ideas to get them started.

But even after all that the question was - 'Where do I start? What businesses should I target?'

Yes it's too easy to get carried away and perceive that the whole world is a potential customer and you just end up spinning around not knowing who to talk to first. Been there, done that.

When you are starting out selling something new there is always a little trepidation - Will it sell? Can I sell it?

Making a few quick wins (sales) will boost confidence and give a chance to learn what makes the basis of a good sales presentation for this product.

So looking for the quick wins is probably the first step. You've probably done an exercise to identify your ideal customers and maybe broken them down by size/sector or similar. Within that is there an identifiable group who are in a position to make a quick decision and get the purchase under way?

We identified for our Contact Management product that we could be selling to sole traders who have a decent client/prospect base such as business coaches or trainers - these people want to maximise the return from their clients through repeat sales - and businesses with a sales team where the sales manager needs visibility of the sales process and manage his team effectively.

The sales manager sale will probably be larger but will take time as the proposal will have to go to the board of directors and there is a possibility that other competitive products will be evaluated before the sale is completed.

The sole trader sale on the other hand is a one-person decision process and they will arrive at that decision fairly quickly. It may not make the same profit as the larger deal but it gets one under the belt and builds that all important confidence and that was my advice to the guys today - get out there and network with those sole traders and learn!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Don't hide your success - shout about it!

We had a stroll around the beautiful grounds of Blickling Hall in Norfolk today. A really picturesque setting with a National Trust managed stately hall as it's setting - well worth a visit.

Next to the car park is a shop called Samphire that sells excellent local food including their renowned local sausages.

You can't miss that their sausages are good (and I can tell you that they are good!) because everywhere you look it says that Gary Rhodes says they are the best he's ever tasted! In fact it's quite difficult to walk out of the shop without buying some the message is so strong.

We British are pretty poor at being proud of what we do well. Make sure that, if someone tells you how good you are, you let everyone know - on your website, in your advertising, on your van, in a press release to the media.

Don't hide your success - shout about it!

Friday, April 23, 2010

What's special about your home page?

On a recent web marketing course I was running, one of the delegates said ".. so my home page is a bit like the reception area of my bricks & mortar business?"

Well yes, he's probably right.

Those visitors who arrive on your website after seeing your domain name in your adverts, on your business card or on your van, will most certainly land on your home page. You then have just a few seconds to create the right impression - exactly as you would when someone walked into your main reception.

Things get complicated from then on.... Not everyone will land on your home page.

Some will go straight to one of your sub pages that have been suggested by Google, or one of the other search engines, as relevant to their search phrase. They don't know (or care for that matter) that the page they've been sent to isn't your pristine, smart reception home page.

But they will certainly treat it as such! That means you have some hard work to do!

Every page on your site needs to stand up as a viable and professional reception page otherwise you'll fall at the first hurdle and they will look elsewhere.

Get looking at your web pages in isolation and see how they stack up.

Who's your ideal customer?

How often do you really sit down and think about who your ideal customer would be?

I did this excercise with a client recently. I started off by narrowing down the size of business, then the sector and finally came up with some suggested target customers.

But what really developed from this was the ability to write some compelling material for their website that would focus on the problems and issues that business (and ones like them) probably have.

Writing grabbing headlines and sub text that tunes into the day-to-day business problems they confront and then showing how you can solve them is a great way to get your prospective client excited about you and your services.

I often use the process outlined by Andy Bounds in his book, The Jelly Effect, to really get to the route of why customers might buy from you. Getting away from what you think they want to buy and understanding what they want to buy can make a big difference to the results of your marketing efforts.

Try it yourself and see what you come up with, then try the wording on your website. Measure the results in terms of conversion rates over a few days and draw your own conclusions.

If you need help - just ask!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What are your buyers buying?

I spent some time last week with a small start up that manufactures very small run art decor occasional furniture.

They wanted me to help them setup and layout their web site based on Actinic, the popular off the shelf web shop application.

The key concept I had to get across was that their customers are not buying 'a nest of tables'.

They are buying something that makes them feel good. An attractive place to put down their wine glass at the end of a long day and relax - a table that you pull out when you have friends round and they are so taken with it they want to know where you found it.

It's the good feelings you have inside that your buyers want when they are looking for this sort of purchase.

Is that the sort of product you sell? Think about how they might feel when they have bought it and make that the centre of your sales message and it's supporting images.