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Sales Strategy & Management

Sales Power 30-Day Shape Up

Are you ready to ramp up your sales? This 30-day action plan takes your business to new heights

Barry Farber

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Take your sales to the next level in just 30 days. It’s more feasible than you think, especially when you break the process down into small, achievable steps. Remember, action is our greatest teacher and the only way to see a difference in your sales is to act! When you act on an idea, it builds your confidence and enthusiasm and you begin to see a clearer path on the road to reaching your sales goals.

1. Keep a positive attitude.

Everyone talks about the importance of attitude – and for good reason. High achievers in all types of professions list attitude as the top factor in their success. Take an honest look at the people around you. What kinds of attitudes do they bring to the table? Do they pump you up or bring you down? Everyone is entitled to a bad attitude now and again, but if some of the people you’re around are constantly angry, bitter and bringing you down, it might be time to move on.

Every 30 days, make a list of the people with whom you spend the most time. Put a plus sign next to the person’s name if he or she has been a mentor, role model or uplifted you in any way. Try to add one or two names to this section each month. Others on the list might have neither a positive nor negative impact on you. You can put a zero next to their names. Then there might be some people on the list who are negative and seem to always bring you down. Put a minus sign next to their names. You can either try to help these people or just stop spending time with them. This might be tough, but if you can do it, you’ll be amazed at the difference in your attitude and the way you think. We become what we think about, and our environment plays a big part in what we think.

2. Map out your goals.

Many people underestimate and under- utilise one of the most powerful tools on the planet, and it’s right between their ears. When was the last time you sat down with a blank sheet of paper with your number-one goal written at the top of the page? It’s amazing what you’ll come up with after brainstorming for 15 to 30 minutes each week. Try to list at least 20 ideas that will bring you closer to your sales goal. Choose one of them to act on right away.

3. Gain access.

The list of ways to gain access is endless: ask for referrals from great customers, send helpful information out to key prospects, and attend important trade shows and walk the floor. But the most successful tactic is becoming relentless when the return on investment is apparent. You can’t just be tenacious without a purpose. Otherwise, you’ll eventually turn off your prospect. But if you can uncover information about the prospect, such as their challenges (business or personal), and then research information and materials that could be useful for that person, it makes a lasting impression.

Find useful magazine or newspaper articles that address what’s important to a prospect or customer. After a while, the prospect sees your efforts helping theirs, and doors start to open. All it takes is a little time, a stamp and a note attached to a relevant story simply saying, “Thought you might enjoy what’s enclosed.” Mail an article to one key prospect today.

4. Ask questions.

Most salespeople like to talk. But most customers prefer salespeople who listen well. Do an exercise that keeps your listening skills sharp. Every time you meet a new person on the road, in meetings or anywhere else, make it a rule not to share anything about yourself until you’ve discovered what the other person does, their interests and so on. Even when they ask about your business, be short with the answer and go right back to your questions. The goal is to get them to elaborate on what they’ve said. Then decide if it makes sense to share what you do and what area of your business to focus on.

Questions are the keys to selling. Nobody ever listened themselves out of a sale! Next time you meet someone new, try to listen 70% of the time and talk only 30%. Get them talking about their challenges, goals and interests.

5. Offer stellar service.

It’s the details, the little things you do, that make the difference. It’s been proved over and over again that the reason most customers don’t make a purchase is they feel you don’t care, lack interest or show indifference.

I conducted a seminar more than 10 years ago and invited some of the company’s top sales achievers on stage to share the one most important idea that contributed to their success. One of them had a very simple answer. He said, “Every time I meet with a prospect or client, I continue to ask them this question: Is there anything I’m not doing that I could be doing to serve you better?”

What he was doing was constantly searching for problems. Problems become opportunities, and once they are solved, you have a more loyal customer than if they never had any problems at all. This is because the customer sees your efforts in action and knows you’re ready to serve. Customers feel comfortable the next time they make a decision to do business with you because they know you will be there to solve any problems that come up rather than run away from them.

Make a list of your top customers, and call one each day, asking, “Is there anything I’m not doing that I could be doing to serve you better?” You can’t go wrong when customers tell you what to do and you deliver.

6. Differentiate your business.

What makes you stand out in a positive way? How will your customer remember you after four competitors make their presentations? Follow-through, understanding the customer’s business, and service after the sale are important to customers, so before the sale is made, come up with ways to demonstrate a track record of providing these. I used to interview my satisfied customers on tape and use their success stories and comments to handle my prospects’ concerns. At the time, no one else did that and it helped me stand out in a positive way that also increased my closing ratio.

Think about it: what can you do to differentiate your presentation? List three things that distinguish you and your message in a positive way from the competition and keep them at your fingertips to present at any time.

7. Sell value.

I remember a sign a printing company had on the wall that said “Price, Service and Quality. Please Pick Two.”

Great quality and outstanding service come at a price. How many times have you got a great deal on a product or service, only to find out later that the product wore out or fell apart, or that the service was nowhere to be found when you called with a question or problem? When customers challenge the price of your product, your company and even you, what they’re really saying is, “What am I getting from you that I’m not getting from your competitor for that additional investment?” If someone asked you that today, would you have at least three reasons why you’re unique and why they should buy from you? Write them down and memorise them.

8. Follow through.

Every customer wants to feel like they made a good decision after making a purchase. When you follow up with a call, a thank-you note, materials you promised, or just to ask how the first day went with the new system in place, it ensures that the customer will feel taken care of and not like they have been sold.

Review the criteria the customer had prior to making their decision, and when you make your follow-up call after the sale, ask them, “How has our company delivered on your key needs?” Then ask, “What can we do now to keep you as a lifelong customer?” Also be sure to ask what times are best for keeping in touch. With all this information, create customised outlines of long-term follow-up steps for each customer.

9. Create a sense of urgency.

Top salespeople seem to always push themselves to move things forward. They’re constantly reviewing their accounts and thinking of ways to increase business and get things done. They end every call with a question or statement that will either close the deal or move the sale along. For instance: “Why don’t we get together next week and review the product samples as our next step?” Or ask the customer, “What’s our next step?” Sometimes we can get overwhelmed with so much activity that we need to ask ourselves every hour: “What can I do right now to make the most productive use of my time?” It’s a good idea to put this question in your daily planner.

10. Turn obstacles into opportunities.

Great salespeople know rejection comes with the territory. When you get knocked down, thrown around and beaten up, it has a negative impact on your attitude. What’s important is the mental position you take toward a setback or obstacle. As Henry Ford once said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” When we run into obstacles, we have to continue to believe in our goals and keep the faith strong. Never, ever give up. A “yes I will” attitude has been responsible for more achievements in this world than anything else because of the belief, faith and commitment attached to it.

I’ve worked on many projects over the years that would have been easy to give up on when the road got bumpy, but have come through in the end. I received 27 rejections on my first book, more than 50 rejections on a patented writing instrument, and a countless number of rejections while selling a now-world-famous comedian to radio and TV. But deep down, I knew there was value in what I was doing.

I dare you to look at every obstacle, rejection and setback as a time to learn. Next time you face any adversity or challenge that gets in the way of your goals, remember that confronting them head-on with action is the key to success. Increase your sales activity; call mentors and others you respect to gather their insights for your next move; make a list of things you can do to get yourself back on track. Whatever you do, don’t give up and let obstacles get the better of you. Attacking them with intelligent action will tear them down.

Barry Farber is a top speaker and bestselling author of 11 books on sales, management and personal achievement.

Sales Strategy & Management

Take Your Sales Skills To The Next Level With These 5 Simple Steps

Learn to sell nearly anything.

Brian Tracy

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Entrepreneur Network partner Brian Tracy says one of the most valuable skills a person can have is the ability to sell anything to anyone.

The motivational speaker provides a few tips to help even the most beginner of salesman to improve their skills dramatically:

  1. Understand the needs of your customers.
  2. Sell yourself.
  3. Do research on the client.
  4. Ask questions and engage in a dialogue with your customers.

Finally, keep in mind that you should not only be selling – but also helping your customers. Selling is part of a relationship and the more established the relationship, the more effective your sales tactics will be.

To hear more about selling from Tracy click on the video below:

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Related: How To Find The Right Salespeople: And Attract Them To Your Business

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Sales Strategy & Management

Boost Your Business With Smart Delivery

Differentiate your business in the one way that customers value the most: deliver the goods on time.

Morné Stoltz

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It can be difficult to carve out a competitive advantage in today’s cutthroat business environment. For some companies, investments have been focused on creating digital advantage through measures like apps or fancy websites, or improved processes with clever technology to make things run faster and better. While all those strategies have their place, there could be a far simpler way to put your business ahead of the competition. Deliver the goods, in a very literal sense.

The Internet revolution has made today’s markets very competitive in all sorts of ways. Barriers to entering many markets have tumbled and new competitors are everywhere. Consumers have greater choice than ever and can easily compare prices and service. That is good for consumers, but it makes it hard for companies to attract and retain a loyal following.

By now, it should be no secret that people are willing to pay for convenience. In fact, many of the digital initiatives we see today are succeeding because of the convenience they provide. Take the Uber example: Using technology services, it brings together willing sellers with willing buyers, with the ultimate convenience of being able to see where your Uber is, who the driver is and what car to expect. Even more convenient, your Uber shows up when you need it.

Related: A 7-Step Guide To Starting Your Own Trade Business

Extend the same concept to physical goods, no matter what they may be and it is not difficult to see how a delivery service can easily put a big smile on your customers’ faces. Whether you are selling horse saddles, operate a bicycle store, run the local grocer, hardware outlet or restaurant: bringing your goods to your customers saves them time, makes it easier to buy and has the added effect of establishing further rapport to build trusted relationships.

According to Forbes, the Internet has habituated today’s shoppers to instant gratification. While physical goods obviously cannot be accessed at a click, there is no doubt that speedy delivery has become a driver of competitive advantage.

Getting a delivery service set up can be easy and low-cost provided your market is fairly local and your product relatively easy to transport. There are a range of options for vehicles, from a versatile bakkie or minivan capable of handling large loads or bigger items, through to a delivery motorbike or scooter. For those providing smaller items, scooters or motorbikes are a great option, as they enable convenience when your customers might most need it: during rush hour. A bike can zip through the traffic, impressing your customer by ensuring that they get what they need, without wasting time stuck in the car due to traffic or lack of parking.

A big question would be whether your deliveries are handled in-house or by a third party. There are pros and cons, but there is an increasing trend for many smaller businesses to make use of specialised logistics/ delivery operations. After all, this means you do not have to make the capital investment in a vehicle or scooter, pay a staff member to do the job and take on the insurance and management issues. Not only are you engaging an expert, you are also doing your bit to support another business.

Third-party delivery partners also work well for deliveries in far-flung areas, or if your product is bulky.

It is a good idea to see what other businesses of your size are doing and who they are using. It is important to choose a delivery partner whose service ethos matches your own.

Related: 5 Success Hacks To Grow Your Business

Whatever option you choose, make sure you understand the risk and have the right kind of business insurance in place. It is also a good idea to have the ability to monitor where your deliveries are in real time. If you have a third-party partner, they should  be able to provide this for you.

With most big stores offering delivery services as part of their value proposition, adding this choice to your service offering increasingly makes good business sense. Customers are quite prepared to pay a slight premium to get what they want, right to their front door – and they will keep on coming back for more.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

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Sales Strategy & Management

5 Reasons Why Your Business Is Losing Customers

Ever think about why people keep buying iPhones, even though they’re so darned pricey?

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Like it or not, your business is losing customers. Recent research from McKinsey & Company revealed that only 13 percent of customers surveyed said they were loyal to a single brand. The research found that 87 percent of customers surveyed said they shopped around, and 58 percent had switched to a new brand.

Why do people shop around? What motivates them to abandon the businesses they know and buy products or services from competitors? It’s time that you take a close look at why your business is losing customers – and, what you can do to fix it.

Here are five common reasons why customers leave small businesses … and effective tips you can use to start turning the tide.

1. You’re guilty of poor customer service experience.

Few things can sour a customer experience more quickly than poor customer service. To a customer, your support team is your business. Shauna Geraghty, a clinical psychologist and head of talent at the global customer support innovator TalkDesk revealed on the company’s blog that over 90 percent of customers who are dissatisfied with your customer service experience will — rather than telling you that something is wrong and how you can improve it — just not come back.

So, if you’re not paying attention to your customer-service policies and performance, there’s a good chance that neglect is costing you customers.

This is one reason why some companies, including Comcast, create create support-focused accounts like @comcastcares on Twitter. These accounts are public and are known for helping customers to resolve problems quickly.

Related: How to Lose Customers through your Website

What you can do:

Outline thoughtful, positive customer service practices. Start with an internal audit of the policies that govern your team. Conduct interviews with customer-support managers and representatives.

Assess what company policies have led to customer dissatisfaction. What internal issues are preventing your reps from supporting customers quickly and effectively? Use this data to improve your customer service practices.

Then, bear in mind these three golden rules of customer service:

Respond quickly. Acknowledge when a mistake is made and make it right.

Treat the customer with respect and empathy.

Support your customer support team. Give your customer service team the resources they need to provide your customers with awesome service. This includes the technical infrastructure as well as the autonomy to make choices that will benefit your business and support your customers.

2. Your product or service failed to meet expectations

Disappointed customers are likely to share their disappointment with friends on social media. And angry customers will post angry reviews for other prospective customers to see.

What you can do:

Design and build a quality product or service. Don’t think that marketing magic or any amount of other business trickery is going to make up for a poor product or badly executed service. So, work with a talented product designer.

Test. Build with quality materials. Adapt your service based on customer feedback.

Do whatever it takes to create and deliver a service or product that is worth paying for.

3. You didn’t show the value

valuePrice is what a customer pays. Value is what a customer gets. Sales expert and emotional intelligence coach Liz Wendling pointed out on her blog that customers don’t necessarily choose only “the lowest price or the cheapest in town.” Customer preferences, she said, have nothing to do with price and everything to do with the value you are conveying. When your potential customers tell you it is about the money, wrote Wendling, that is actually customer code for “show me the value.”

This is certainly one reason why Apple continues to dominate when it comes to smartphone profits. In Q4, 2017, Apple captured 87 percent of smartphone industry profits but accounted for only 18 percent of total units sold. Customers, clearly, are buying iPhones because they believe that Apple products deliver more value, despite the higher price.

What you can do:

Identify your unique value proposition. What awesome value do you bring to your customers that other businesses don’t? This is your unique value proposition.

Clearly articulate your unique value proposition on all platforms. Publish the benefits of your product or service on your website home page.

Educate your customer support and sales staffers so that they can speak fluently about the value included in your pricing.

Feature your unique value proposition on the landing page for every offer. (Check out https://www.crowdspring.com/blog/landing-page-guide/this article to learn more about creating effective landing pages.)

Related: 3 Ways To Stop Taking Your Most Loyal Customers For Granted

4. Your business is Inconsistent

In business, and in life, consistency breeds trust. Things that are consistent can be relied upon. And, things that can be relied upon don’t need to be worried about. Inconsistent branding, including using your company’s name or logo differently on your own site and on social networks, plus inconsistent quality or service, all have the potential to drive customers away.

United Airlines learned this lesson the hard way when young women wearing casual wear were not permitted to board a flight unless they changed out of Spandex leggings. Yet any traveler is going to see many, many women at the airport wearing leggings. And there’ was no previous record of United barring others from flying for wearing leggings. That’s why this particular decision created a social media firestorm and lots of confusion.

What you can do:

Deliver an experience customers can rely on. This starts with you and your employees.

Educate all of your employees about what a good customer experience should look like.

Create a branding guide to establish uniform branding guidelines and share it with your team.

Hold your employees accountable for delivering a consistently positive customer experience.

Create strong customer interaction policies. Whatever your policies are, make sure that they will serve your customers well before you implement them. Then stick with them! Be consistent.

5. Your sales tactics are out-of-date.

Aggressive sales techniques are more likely to drive customers away than lead to positive results. Leslie Ye, for HubSpot, wrote that the old sales playbook — dragging prospects through a sales process and strong-arming them into a purchase — worked only because there was no better way for buyers to buy.

If your sales techniques focus on manipulating or coercing a sale, your business is actively chasing customers away.

What you can do:

Employ value-based selling techniques. Take the time to learn what your customer actually needs. Then offer value-based solutions that address those needs. Show how your product benefits the customer and allow them to decide if it’s the right fit for them.

Build relationships with your customers. If you’re trying to sell with every single customer interaction, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, focus on establishing trust with your prospective customers.

Have honest interactions and provide value through useful content and entertaining social media engagement. Then, when a customer needs the product or service you provide, he or she will turn to you, a trusted resource.

The key to growing a business is to maintain the customers you already have while acquiring new ones. So, stop leaking customers. The success of your business depends is at stake.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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