Three Costly Mistakes that Kill Sales & Waste Time

caution-sign-muted-redIf you have ever heard a salesperson making these three mistakes, you know why they are killing sales and wasting time.

1.) Boring prospects by doing too much talking

You know your services and products inside out.

You could talk for hours about your product features or benefits.

Don’t.

You have just 7 seconds to get their attention and make a good impression.

Whether you call a prospect or they call you, use the call to learn what they want and need.

Ask the right kind of questions, and then –

Let them do the talking so you can get the information you need.

2.) Wasting time with people who aren’t buyers

No matter how good your system is for qualifying leads, you will sometimes end up on the phone with people who can’t afford your services or won’t benefit from your products.

Conversations like these can take up way too much of your time.

And I know this is true because I spent my first year in sales doing exactly this – wasting time with people who were not buyers.

It was a costly lesson.

What I learned after that first painful year:

Use qualifying questions and their responses to discover within the first 3 minutes of a conversation whether or not the person you’re talking with is a promising prospect.

If not, thank them for their time and move on to your next call.

3.) Losing sales by quoting price too soon

When prospects call, one of the first questions they ask is about pricing.

If you tell them right away, you risk ending the conversation and losing the sale.

Not stating the price immediately takes practice.

Dollar figures by themselves are meaningless.

When a prospect asks what you charge, don’t tell them until you’ve had a chance to learn what they want.

Then put the price in the context of the value and quality solutions you provide

Are you tired of making calls that don’t get the results you want?

You are invited to start getting positive results by joining me for my once a week 4-week coaching and sales-training e-class which begins on Wednesday.

During this private one-to-one coaching I will work with you, personally, to provide positive motivation plus new marketing ideas and wording that can convince prospects to WANT to become your raving fans and paying customers.

To register or learn how you can increase your sales with my coaching and your commitment, send me a message  and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

I look forward to helping you achieve your goals!

Ann
P.S. – You can use your BTA Educational Discount for this e-Course!

This is What Happened when They Changed

dogwood-treeIn between cleaning the pollen from my car (beautiful Dogwoods bloom here in Springtime) I’ve been learning how to use an interesting (and new to me) email marketing system.

If you don’t plan on using email marketing, you can stop reading.

Change happens for a reason

For years I used one of the top 10 email marketing providers and was happy with their service, variety of templates, ease of use and especially helpful telephone support. The price was higher than most of their competitors, but . . .

. . . the knowledgeable and friendly telephone support seven days a week provided value that made the higher price worthwhile.

So, when you use one specific service for years and everything goes really well, it’s not easy to change.

I was not planning to change services.

Besides, there is the time-consuming learning curve when switching to a new email marketing provider:

Figuring out how to upload contacts, choosing a new template, how to edit the content, where to insert images, find reports, etc.

Then, my favorite email marketing provider began using a new automated system. A very annoying, time-consuming automated voice system :-(

Automated Systems Can Be Frustrating

This is a system that requires callers to first speak with an automated voice system that supposedly can understand human voices and respond appropriately.

That didn’t happen when I called.

The “voice” repeatedly asked me to repeat my request.

If a caller waits long enough – during which time the lovely automated voice system tries to help, but doesn’t – the caller can finally get through to a live human person.

When I complained about this, the kind, empathetic support person apologized and was very understanding.

Making the Change

Choosing between email marketing services can be complicated.

It’s good that most providers offer a free trial, so you can try before you buy.

Your choice depends on what is most important to you.

Is it

  • Great looking templates?
  • Ease of use?
  • Customer support?
  • Live, human telephone support?
  • Pricing?

Features and levels of support differ between the top 10 providers.

This is what I found with five (actually seven) of the top email marketing services.

Mail Chimp

One that was highly recommended was Mail Chimp, which was rated number one among some reviewers.

I tried it, even though the name sounded goofy.

For me – a non-technical person, it was difficult.

And . . . there was no telephone support available.

That one was easy to cross off the list.

iContact

One provider you might like to try is iContact – especially if you prefer an account representative who consistently follows up with you.

iContact has very high ratings among some reviewers.

For several different reasons, iContact didn’t work for me.

Campaigner – An Award-Winning Company

The email marketing provider that won PCMag’s best email software of 2015 was Campaigner.

One big plus that prompted me to try Campaigner was “24-7 phone support.”

When I spoke with Campaigner support people, they were helpful.

After using Campaigner for a few months, I realized I didn’t have time to wait on hold for 30 minutes when I phoned with a question about email or billing.

Vertical Response and Aweber.

Both are listed in most top 10 review sites.

Both have most of the features I prefer and offer pretty good support,

But nowhere did I find the excellent support my favorite company provides nearly 100 percent of the time.  But . . .

. . . this favorite email service is the provider now using an automated “voice” system.  The voice that supposedly can understand the human voice and respond appropriately.

Constant Contact

So, if you don’t mind paying a little more for fantastic, live telephone support plus a bunch of other good features . . . and you don’t mind listening to an automated voice system before reaching a live human person, try Constant Contact. 

Get Response

I am now using GetResponse, another highly rated email marketing service.

So far, since I first signed up, their (live and human) telephone and chat support has been excellent.  With GetResponse.com, telephone support is available Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm Eastern time. And I’ve never had to wait on hold more than five minutes.  Chat is available 24/7.

If you have suggestions or information to share about your favorite email marketing service, please send me a message.   I would love to hear your opinion!

Update November 22nd, 2016:

Get Response telephone and chat support is still excellent.  You can try it free for 30 days!

Update February 18, 2017:

Get Response telephone and chat support is still the best I’ve found. No long waiting to speak to someone (a live human) by phone.  Most calls are answered after two rings.  Amazing!

Update August 29th: Get Response  is having an “end of summer sale” at great prices – starting at just $12.75 per month for 1000 contacts!

Disclaimer: If you buy anything I recommend in this or any of my communications, I may receive some kind of affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services that I really love, use and would happily share with friends and family even if my only compensation was home-made Chocolate Chip cookies (mmmm … home-made Chocolate Chip cookies).

PS – There is still space available in my next sales-building e-Course

PPS – BTA Educational Discounts apply for this courseSend me a message if you would like more info.

 

Why Did They Leave?

woman-worried-looking-at-laptopThis is a story about a struggle I experienced that was troubling, to put it mildly.

But first:

Has this ever happened to you?


One of your best clients stopped buying from you

Despite your best efforts to provide top-quality products and world-class service, you lost a customer for one reason or another.

What do you do?

What do you say to find out why the customer left and – how can you earn the business again?

This was my struggle:

During the time I was manager of a Supplies Department, one of my best (very best) customers was a large law firm. They bought everything from our company: equipment, service and supplies.  This was business I could count on every month.

Great clients and very nice people, but . . .

. . . suddenly they stopped buying supplies from me. I phoned my contact at the law firm and she said they “didn’t need anything.”

After a few calls like this, I knew something was terribly wrong.

What happened?

Had I offended someone?

Then I checked with our equipment sales manager.

Same story. Silence and no more sales from this client.

I walked downstairs to see the service manager and he said the law firm had cancelled their maintenance agreements. No one knew why.

Wow.

Finally, I worked up the nerve to phone the customer again

This time I said something very different and asked her a specific question.

It worked. She gave me the (incredible) answer to why they stopped buying.

It turned out to be such a minor thing (not minor to the law firm) but we were able to earn their business back after the president of our company made an appointment for a visit with the partners of the law firm.  The problem had nothing to do with my department (whew). It was solved and the law firm began buying again.  All was well.  What a relief!

Wrong Question to Ask

It could be tempting to call an inactive customer and ask: “Why did you stop buying from us?”

Not exactly the most tactful or effective way to ask :(

Three tactful ways to ask why they stopped buying:

Here is what works for your call to the customer who no longer buys from your company
(The third question is what worked for me.)

1.) YOU:

“I’ve studied your account (or reviewed your file) and found that it’s been [length of time since they last purchased] since your company last purchased your [products they bought from you]. I’m concerned that you may be running low on [insert products]. Shall I send you a case today?”

Or:

2.) YOU:

“Last year we had the opportunity to supply you with your [products they purchased from you]. I’d like to ask you a couple of questions and give you some new information about benefits you may qualify for, so you can decide whether it would be worthwhile for you to take another look at what we could do for you in the way of [type of products they bought from your company]. Okay?”

If that doesn’t work, the following question should get an answer from the customer, so you will find out why they stopped buying from your company (This is the call that worked for me):

3.) YOU:

“I know that not every company is perfect in every way. If there were a way you feel we could improve our products or our service, I hope you will tell me what that is. I would really like to know because I value our relationship (or: I hate losing your business.)”

VERY Important Next Step

After you say this, don’t say a word until the customer speaks.

It may be difficult to stay silent, but it is the only way you will get an answer.

What Else Works?

When a telephone call does not work, an attention-getting email or direct-mail letter – with the right components – can remind inactive customers of the benefits you offer and what they may be missing.

A well-written letter – with a P.S. or note of enclosure beneath your signature – followed by a telephone call will let the customer know you care about their business.

 

 

You Don’t Have to be Cheaper to Win Clients

Mercedes_Benz_Classe_E_dsc06449Here is a fact for you:

You need to be better than each of your competitors in at least three ways if you want to survive.

This does not mean your products or services need to be cheaper.

But . . . what happens if a competitor undercuts you and offers your customer a lower price on the same product?

True story:

It happens to the best of sales people, just the way it happened to Jennifer.

She made the telephone call, scheduled the appointment and everything seemed to go well.

She wrote a thank-you note after the first appointment and then made a follow-up telephone call to the client.

The client wanted a demo. The demo was a success.

The client asked for a proposal.

Wow!

Time to celebrate.

But then something unexpected happened.

After all of Jennifer’s hard work, the prospect took her proposal to a competitor and was able to get a better price.

The client bought from the competitor.

Ouch.  That really hurt.

What happened?

How could this have been prevented?

Three Ways to Avoid Being Undercut by a Competitor

  1. Begin at the very beginning of the relationship to build true customer loyalty.

Go here to see an example of how a dedicated sales rep was able to build awesome customer loyalty (with me as the buyer).

And simple efforts can make all the difference—world-class customer service, for example, will entice many customers to pay your price.

Thoughtfulness, like sending holiday cards and/or gifts will cause your customers to feel that you really care instead of feeling that you just want to make a sale.

Keep in touch with customers and prospects using . . .direct mail.  Yes; you read that right.

Today with millions of emails flying back and forth, receiving an actual letter by postal mail from a company you have done business with is impressive.

Click here to get 63 effective pre-written business and marketing letters you can copy and paste so you can easily keep in touch.

See the table of contents on this page.

Building customer loyalty is not about being perfect but being authentic and keeping in touch.

And I promise you this:

Your clients will love you when you use these 4 words that show you are thinking of them.

2. Find ways to differentiate yourself.  Add value to your products and services.

Customer-perceived value is the difference between a prospective customer’s evaluation of the benefits and costs of your product when compared with others.

  1. Use your Unique Sales Proposition (USP). It is the thing that makes your business different from anything else out there – the reason customers will buy from you and not from your competitors. Identify and plan at least three clear USPs that define exactly what you offer that your competitors don’t provide.

USPs must be true to your business vision – and, in turn, everything your business does sticks to your USPs. Clients can relate to your product, the way you deliver your service or the way you run your business. Do market research to make sure your USPs are unique.

Stay in touch with prospects and customers using direct mail (real letters) and you will begin seeing an increase in customer loyalty.purchase-marketing-letters2

Click here to get 63 effective business and marketing letters you can copy and paste – and use as emails – so you can easily stay in touch with prospects and customers.

 

The Secret to Getting Good Referrals

success-road-signWouldn’t it be nice to open an email from someone and read this:

“My friend recommended that I buy your products because she has been very happy with them.”

Or answer a phone call from someone who says the same thing?

Wow!

New sales without cold calling.

New sales without sending an email.

Just new orders.

Lots of new orders.

Sales coming in because customers recommended you or your products or your company.

Awesome!

This actually happens on a continuing basis to a successful business in Chatsworth, California.

In fact, they tell me that more than 150 of their current active accounts have come from referrals over the last two years!

This company’s products and services must be very, very good to attract this number of referrals who continue to buy from the company.

What is the secret to their success?

From their website:

“Our mission is to create quality products, quality services and quality relationships.

From the referrals they receive, it seems their mission is accomplished.

This is one of the compelling testimonials they received:

“I just realized that we have been working with [company name] since 2007. I wanted to take a moment of your time to thank you for the excellent customer service you have provided me over the past several years! We make most of our inkjet cartridges in house, however the Dell’s and Lexmark’s that we have trouble with and are known problematic cartridges, we get from you with excellent results.”

But not every business is lucky enough to attract referrals without asking, so what is the best way to ask for a referral?

The best time  to ask is after a happy customer has thanked you for your excellent products or fast delivery or anything else they love about your products or services.

How to ask:

First:  Don’t ask “Do you know anyone else who can use our products?”

Reason: This question makes it too easy for the customer to say “no.”

Better: “Who else do you know that can use our products?”

Reason: This is an open-ended question that prompts the customer to THINK about an answer.

Here is a thought for you:

If you set a goal that you will get two referrals each day from your customers, at the end of the week you will have 10 new prospects and they won’t be as a result of cold calls.  Nice!

To learn more about how to get good referrals plus specific and creative ways to increase your sales, join my e-Course.  I would love to work with you and help you achieve and surpass your goals!

Ann