Blog article on Sales
Making mountains out of molehills = bigger sales
Do you ever wonder why you can close a smaller sale but can’t close a bigger one? That was one of the questions that led Huthwaite corporation to conduct a 12-year study of 35,000 sales calls.
The company’s founder, Neil Rackham, wanted to know what techniques would be most useful in closing those larger deals. Was there some kind of secret path to big sales success? Actually, there is. And it has to do with making mountains out of molehills.
Reward has to be greater than the risk
Customers are more likely to buy smaller items or to purchase fewer products because there is less risk in doing so. They are solving small problems rather inexpensively. But to commit large funds for premium products or for volume purchases, they need to see the reward as much greater.
They have to feel they are solving really big problems because the risk of spending is greater. The decision can affect their company’s future as well as their own. The reward has to be big enough to justify the risk
Creating the balance
So how do you create that risk-reward balance? You have to either increase the reward or lower the risk right? The Huthwaite team found that there is another important variable in the buying process, and that is the effect of not buying. What happens if the sale does not close and the customer’s situation stays the same? Does it really stay the same?
That is the fundamental premise in their study. The customer’s situation does not stay the same
Probing the problems
A good salesperson will try to understand the customer’s situation and what problems need to be addressed. Typically, the salesperson asks what the customer is looking for, and then he or she presents a solution of some sort. The customer then weighs the reward of the solution against the risk of the expense. But this is not the best way to close a larger deal.
Getting deeper into the issues
After learning about the customer’s business, getting contact information, maybe discussing other information like budgets and time-frames, the salesperson moves on to discuss problems being encountered. These can be a need for more people, or a need to get products to market faster, or more sub-assemblies, or almost anything related to current department shortcomings.
Discussing the immediate problem is only the tip of the iceberg, as the Huthwaite team found out. There are bigger issues at stake in every case, and the successful salesperson will keep digging to bring these bigger problems to light.
Every problem has implications
If the customer doesn’t buy your product, what will happen? The department will fall behind somehow, and that means the company will fall behind, and that means the company stock will go down, and the company will get bad press, and clients of that company will question its stability, and competitors will benefit, and the company will now be in jeopardy of not surviving at all. The community will suffer economic setbacks, and
America will no longer be the power it once was.
These are the implications which need to be explored and explained to the customer. This is the way to make the reward of buying your products seem much greater because the risk of not buying is seen as so much greater.
Visualizing the solution
There is one more step in Rackham’s well-designed technique to close larger sales. After discussing problems and their implications, the customer is ready for a solution. The salesperson can present that solution and its benefits, and the customer will listen. But it is actually much more effective to have the customer describe how important it would be to have that solution.
The salesperson asks, “What would it mean to your business to have those 500 widgets on time? How would it keep you ahead of your competitors?” Or “How many new customers would you get?” Getting the customer to describe the benefits of your product in his or her own terms is the best way to get the stamp of approval.
The customer can now visualize your products as the solution needed to solve, not only her department’s problems, but those of the whole company, the community, and probably the world – no matter what the cost.
Blog article on Sales:
How a sales funnel can make you rich
You have a medium-sized business. You have some happy customers. They give you referrals from time to time. Business is OK. But you really would like to get it moving a little better.
You are ready to bring in new business. How do you do that? You can try something called a “sales funnel,” a technique used by growing companies to attract and groom new customers.
More than a mousetrap is needed
You might have heard the expression, “If you build it, they will come;” or maybe, “Just build a better mousetrap.” Neither of these is the answer you are looking for.
Just designing and building a better product does not guarantee the world will know about it or care about it. You need to do some “marketing,” which is a term for selling to more than one person at a time.
These days, you should have an online presence. Almost everyone goes to the Internet to do research on companies and products and to see what other people have to say.
Opinions weigh heavily, for right or wrong, and you need to put your best foot forward to create a good first impression.
Make prospects “aware” of your business
You need to reach out to prospective buyers and make them aware of what you offer them. State your benefits and value to those buyers – not just your features and prices. You can further reach out with email campaigns to prospects to continue to build that awareness.
You can create a company profile in the social media. You can create press releases for mass distribution. You can offer a free newsletter to keep prospects aware of your company developments and new products.
Make them “prefer” your product
As you build that first level of “awareness,” you should be working on the second level of “preference.” When someone shows an interest, how do you draw them in a little closer?
You can offer a webinar or demo of your product, or you can bring them to a page of your website that will give them more information and a chance to contact you. It is often called a “landing page.”
You can offer a free sample or trial period, or some kind of “limited edition” of your product. Here is where you differentiate your product from the competition.
As you move the prospect through the funnel from general interest to specific interest to preferring your product to actually buying it, you are moving your business through its growth stages as well. You may not get totally rich, but you will be far better off with such a plan in place.
Blog article on Sales
Sales are won or lost at “hello”
“You had me at hello” is one of the famous lines in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire, and it may as well also be the theme for winning – or losing – sales, because more often than not, it is the start, not the end, of a sale that is the most important in determining the outcome.
By the time you get to the closing, if you ever do get that far, the customer has already made up his or her mind whether there will be a sale. You can be the greatest closer in the world, but you won’t be successful if you had a bad opening.
It’s all about trust
Why is this? The customer buys from someone she trusts. She wants to work with someone she likes, someone who knows her business and her problems, someone who is a good listener, and above all, someone she trusts because so much depends on her making the right decision.
How do you build this trust? You need to show a real concern for the customer from the beginning. You need to start a relationship, one that can be nurtured over time. It is important to do some homework before that first sales call, so that you are somewhat familiar with the customer business and possibly with a competitor or two.
Feeling the pain
It is a good idea to show your interest in the customer’s problems by asking questions to find out why the customer needs your product or service. You may also ask if any other solution has been tried, presumably without success. Showing empathy for the customer’s pain will lead to a higher comfort level with you as a vendor. The better you become at this, the more you will be seen as an advisor and someone who can be trusted to provide the right solution.
After discussing what the customer needs, you can present your qualifications to show that you are the right person to provide the solution, either by your experience in the same industry or with other customers having roughly the same problems. Each customer thinks his or her problem is unique. But there are still strong similarities among customers.
Next comes your proposed solution. You have already shown that you are a good listener, that you care about the customer’s problems, and that you are qualified to provide the solution needed. Now you present that solution and explain why it is the best approach. By this time, the customer is ready to listen to you. By now, you have probably discussed other alternatives and why they would not work, and you may have gotten some possible objections out of the way.
Sharing the risk
This is why it is important to have a dialogue, to ask open-ended questions where the customer can express feelings and emotions along with quantities and dollars and dates. The customer has a vested interest in the outcome of the decision to buy your product. It comes with real risk, real concerns, not only about business impact, but also about her own status within the company, It may even affect her job. Your concern should be for her personal welfare as well as the business outcome. And you need to recognize that risk.
A satisfied customer will become a repeat customer. You are creating an environment where the customer will take your future calls or accept your invitation for a meeting. You are becoming an advisor or consultant who can add value to the customer and make her more important to her company. That goes well beyond selling her a product. And it makes closing future business a lot easier because you have already established a great opening.
Blog article on Sales
Why Follow-up is Important
You have already invested a lot of time in learning the customer’s business and in building a relationship of trust based on your ability to listen and respond to the customer’s needs. The customer is receptive to your suggestions and considers you an expert and valued consultant and advisor. You don’t want to lose this valuable connection. One sale can lead to another.
How can you maintain this relationship? A good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be very helpful. Something like Salesforce or a similar system can help you track customer information. You should note in this system everything important about the customer – name, title, contact information, organization, names of others who might have influence on the sale (there might be different influencers or approvers).
Following the money
You want to keep track of the budget cycle and when new budgets are approved. Government departments are often encouraged to “use it or lose it” and at the end of a budget cycle, are looking to use what they have left to make additional purchases. They feel this will “protect” their status and give them new budgets to work with for next year.
You want to be there when new business arrives and budgets are expanded. This is another reason to track the budget cycle. You will also want to keep track of influencers and decision-makers and note when these people change positions. Nothing can kill a sale faster than asking for a person who no longer works there or has the proper authority.
Following the market
In addition to tracking financial and organizational knowledge, it’s beneficial to know how the customer’s business is doing in its market. Is it growing? Is it losing ground to its competitors? Is it expanding and adding new offices or locations? This is a great opportunity to add value to your role as consultant by following industry news and sending a note to your contact who might be interested or impacted by the news.
This unexpected service does a number of things for you. It reinforces your position as an expert. It adds value, not only to you but to your customer, too, because he or she is now looked at as more knowledgeable within the company. You have helped her personal stock to grow. Your future questions about how the business is doing are now well founded and will be answered honestly. You have earned the right to a continuing dialogue.
Making frequent contact
Another thing the CRM does for you is enable you to plan regular communications with the customer, You should make contact at least once a quarter in most cases. Your notes will tell you what the customer feels, and where any current potential order may stand. Your information will be no more than three months old. Of course, more frequent contact will yield more current and accurate information, especially if you need to provide accurate forecasting.
Follow-up provides you an opportunity to introduce new products or services and to make your customer aware of any changes in your own company – like price increases or changes in previous customer service policies or practices. Customers appreciate advance notice of such changes.
You can inform your customer of possible addons or products of a different nature that the customer may be interested in (sometimes called “cross-selling” because it crosses product or service lines). You may be able to talk about customer loyalty incentives or new warranties. An ongoing dialogue gives you chances for additional sales.
The other important benefit of follow-up is to make sure your customer is happy. A satisfied customer is more inclined to order again, and is more inclined to recommend you to other customers. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth references. A satisfied customer also means you have met her expectations. That is often considered the definition of quality – meeting expectations. If you can meet or exceed the expectations of your customers on a consistent basis, you will be successful in their eyes as well as in the eyes of your own management team.
Blog article on Email marketing for a digital agency
Create Email Campaigns that Keep Working for You
Create an active email marketing program for your customers to get them engaged in your business, to keep them informed of new products and services, to make it easy for them to respond to your sales campaigns, and to maintain their loyalty to your company.
Collect and manage subscriber list
You can start with your current customer list and, if you want, add prospect through targeted email list rentals. We can help you with that. You can also add customers by having them register on your website.
If you have different types or classes of customers (e.g. prospects, customers, employees, stockholders, media, analysts, etc.), you can target your email to the segment(s) of your choice, as simply as checking a box.
Choose a template
Email marketing allows you to send your message in a predesigned format, complete with background design and any photos and graphics you want to add. We can help you with all of it. The design template should fit your company style and reflect your business environment. There are hundreds of design templates to choose from. We can help you with all of it.
Create a newsletter
If you want to send multiple messages, keep customers informed of new developments at your company or in your industry, or introduce new products of incentives, you can turn your email into a newsletter. You can select the days you want to send the newsletters and create them in advance if you want to. Sending monthly newsletters is a great way to keep your customers interested and loyal to your company.
Maintain a dialogue with RSS
RSS is an industry term for Real Simple Syndication, and all it means is that each time you create a new email or newsletter, it will be sent automatically to the email addresses of your customers. They do not have to request the new information. RSS is a good way to ensure all your customers find out about new product information, price changes, inventory adjustments, etc., at the same time.
Have autoresponders maintain dialogue
You can keep a conversation going with customers through the use of autoresponders, i.e. pre-worded messages which can be sent as part of an ongoing, serial campaign. You can automatically send a thank you to new customers who register or as a confirmation for new product purchases. The use of autoresponders enhances your relationship with customers and underscores your interest in them.
Email marketing is an important part of any online marketing program, and it can be used in a variety of ways to find new customers and keep them aligned with your company, products, and philosophy.