How to make a sales meeting more productive

whosbaboonI believe making a sales meeting about a salesperson’s pipeline is a waste of time and can bring down your sales team. Even though it is Important to know a salesperson’s pipeline (I like to call them prospective leads), it should be done on a more one to one basis.

Because salespeople work for a company I would not call it wasting their time when a manager (Sales or CEO) needs to stay connected with their salespeople and to give and gather important information.

My experience with giving and attending sales meetings has been to offer the following. (But not in only one meeting)

1. Discuss if your sales team has all the sales tools they need. Company brochures, samples, paperwork, ect. You would be surprised what they don’t have or think they don’t have.
2. Discuss about the competition. It is important to know about your competitors.
3. Discuss if any salesperson know of any leads in another salesperson’s territory. I have found that salespeople indirectly bump into leads that can be used by some other salesperson.
4. Discuss if there are any questions in the products/services you are offering for sale.
5. Discuss about new products coming up or being offered.
6. Discuss to see if there are any issues between the sales department and other departments in the company. I would be surprised if there weren’t any.
7. Discuss what the current customers are saying about your product or service.This is important because you need to fix any negative feedback.
8. Discuss any sales successes that a team member can share with the other sales people, and discuss any obstacles. Many top sales people want to be known for being the best and enjoy telling (bragging) what they know.

Even though sales meetings need to be taken serious they also should have some things added to be enjoyable as well. Here are a few ideas to break up the routine that makes your sales staff not to want to attend.

1. Have a sales meeting at a restaurant. The company should pay for the lunch
2. Bring in vendors of some of the products or services you offer
3. Take a tour at a factory where your product is being built. (If the location is not too far and expensive.
4. Bring in sales training. This has to be for the type of sales you are doing. If you are in a B2B sales environment then how to sell to the direct consumer would not work. You may have to interview or see samples of several lecturers/trainers before you decide.
5. Give a gift card to the top selling salesperson for that month
6. Give a give card to the salespeople who turned a prospect to a customer for that month.
7. Make a library for sales books and CDs that the salespeople can check out. There are so many books on selling in the market you can buy thousands very cheap, or ask a salesperson if they would like to donate some books/CDs.
8. Ask a salesperson if they want to do a sales or prospect call in front of the sales team. This could be fun and interesting.
9. Play an impromptu game like “Sell This Pen”. You don’t hold a salesperson for not being good at it but rather laugh with them and pat them on the back for playing.

The idea is to make your sales meeting memorable. By memorable I mean by not being dreaded and not being just about a pipeline. When you have a good sales team you are obligated to make the working environment inspirational and educational. Your one on one meeting can be a more knock down “what have you done for this company lately” type meeting. Even then be careful not to lose a good salesperson.

Selling is Hard Work!

What a terrific video on why selling is hard work. This video is done my info team. They basically paint (Draw) a picture of why it is hard work. This video would be terrific for anyone just getting into sales so they know what to expect. YouTube Preview Image

Can Social Media be measured?

sm-measure

One of the questions I have been trying to figure out is if I used platforms of social media like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Pinterest could I figure out my ROI (Return on investment). So far I haven’t been able to measure it. In fact there has been several business segments on TV, which talked about the benefits of using social media. They had on their show plenty of so called, “Experts” that passionately talk about the benefits but when asked if they can give proof and measure it they hem-hawed around the question.

Let’s take a closer look at this area.

Because social media has so many different platforms to use the first question is which one should I use? This has got to take some time because you would need to research which platform your current customers are using the most and which platforms your prospects are using, If you do the research yourself then how much time during your work day would you give to this research or would you research it after hours. If you are a small business you may not be able to afford to hire a company to do the research for you. If you are a large company, then you can use an existing employee, hire a new employee or contract an outside company to do the research for you.

There are two types of businesses that would use social media totally differently. The first one does business directly with consumers such a retailer and the second type of business does business with another business (B2B). The businesses that sell directly to consumers may have more of an advantage to using social media because the consumers are the main people using most all the social media platforms. Here is an example. Read this article, “14 Must-See Social Media Marketing Success Stories“ and you will notice that every business that has success on it was because it was a business to consumer social media interaction.

How would a B2B company use social media to engage their customers (which are other businesses)? The old and current way has been through email, phone calls and face-to-face visits. Believe it or not, this is still the best way because businesses do business with other business they trust as well as providing a good product or service. Face-to-Face contact is still the best way to build trust.

So again the question is, how do you measure your social media to see if the time and/or money you put into it is worth it? I did stumbled upon a website of a business in New York that says it can measure your ROI for social media but I personally have not researched them as of this writing. This company is called Shareablee. Their website says they collect all your social data across your social media platforms, analyze the content and users and provide you with daily insights and analytics of your customer’s interaction. This is actually what is needed for businesses to measure their ROI when using social media to gain more customers and interact with the customers they already service.

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It takes sacrifice to be a Sales Superstar

sales superstarIf you want to know what it takes to be a sales superstar then watch the movie “A Devil Wears Prada” starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. It is about a young woman who comes to New York and scores a job as the assistant to the city’s biggest magazine editor that lives for her job. The young woman (Anne Hathaway) finds out who she really is and what she really wants. She makes changes to overcome and adapt along with taking criticism like a champ.

This movie follows both the magazine editor, which picks her career over everything else including her husband, and the young woman who chooses her career over her friends and boyfriend. You will note that the young woman’s goal in a career is not working for the magazine editor but rather as a journalist. We all have goals that are only known to ourselves.

I wrote an article called, “Make it you identity!” which was based on my observation of several sales people I personally know and are friends with. It may hurt or move a few people but whatever your sales job is it will take commitment and sacrifice to be the best.

You can have a successful sales career by managing both your home life and your career but you cannot be the best in a career by putting both first.

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Stop focusing on your competition, focus on what you have to offer

Grass Greener

Are you competition envy? Do you think it is not fair that your company doesn’t offer the same product/service your competition does? Do you think you are losing business because the competition has cheaper prices? THEN GO WORK FOR THE COMPETITION!

The grass is not always greener on the other side. I have personally seen this from a small-scale business to a large volume business. It is amazing how much some salespeople complain that the competition is doing something you are not. Many of my sales friends did not know that in the late 1980’s I was a magician and sometimes a clown, which entertained on stages as well as personal kids or adult parties. I worked really hard to learn my craft by practicing countless of hours a day so that when I performed, I did not think about the magic but rather I was in-tuned to my audience. I had more work than I could manage because I was also working a full time job then. I made just about as much from performing magic as I did at my job.

I joined a few magic clubs in order to meet peers and possible to get tips on being a better performer. I was especially looking for ways to increase my bookings. I would make my own t-shirts & hats with my phone number, I would go to local flea markets to advertise my presence and to blow up balloons and I would give a free magic show at festivals in my local downtown city. After a while I started hearing from people that other entertainers were talking about me and saying they would be a better show than mine. They were envious on how many shows I did. I did not pay attention to them but rather focused on booking as many shows as I could do. It paid off because I was the number one booked magician and clown in my town (at the time). In 1990 I also won the close-up magic award at the Florida magic Convention held in Daytona Beach Florida. I really did not expect that. My secret (which I did not know at that time) was that I focused on me and what I had to offer, not my competition.

Years later when I was selling for a large volume company, I experienced the same thing. Salespeople focusing more on the competition than what they had to offer. Again I ignored that because I studied what I offered, the company I worked for and focused on giving my customers and prospects the best product they could buy. Did I sell everyone? No, but I did business.

I have to admit at one time the grass was greener for me but not because I focused on the competition. I was approached by the competition. Even though I had sold for 2 different companies that were competitors, the last one I worked for was the best. The decision to work for the competitor was great and I researched first to see if the grass was definitely greener before I went to them. After I went to work for the competitor I never envied the competition (which were many besides the one I left) more than I enjoyed working for the new company. I have to tell you the company I left is a terrific company and has a lot to offer but whomever I work for deserved 100% of my focus on their product and service I was offering to my customers and potential prospects.

So I advice to stop focusing on your competition, focus on what you have to offer.

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Why using Social Media can hurt your sales

Linkedin – Google+ – Twitter – Pinterest – Facebook – Tumblr – Youtube – Instagram – Foursquare – Yelp – Digg – Tagged – #Hashable – Stumbleupon – Slideshare

 In the beginning you will be so exited about having the opportunity to use social media for prospecting you will be oblivious to anything else. Right now there are thousands of advertisements about the benefits of using social media. You will see them on TV, hear them on the radio, read them in books and magazines and be bombarded with them on the Internet. It is no wonder why you will want to use social media as part of your sales tools. In the beginning you will have lots to say and will enjoy the research, but then what?

SM-chart-down

Here are some bullet points why social media can hurt your sales.

 

  1. Even though social media may be free and easy to use sales people will find that it takes lots of time to keep up with it.
  2. Unless you spend the countless hours needed to study how to use a particular social media you will not know exactly how to use it to get the results you are seeking.
  3. Then there is the question on which social media platform to use. As you can see above there are so many to choose from (Not all are listed) and not knowing which one will be the most productive to use, will lead you to waste your time during peak working hours.
  4. To find out which customer or prospect is using which social media platform will take more of your selling time. It is bad enough that you do not know which social media to use but your customers and prospects are in the same boat.
  5. Your customers and prospects do not look at their social media very much even though they have an account. This is because it is time consuming.
  6. Your General Manager and Sales Manager is not familiar with the benefits of using social media so will in-turn not be supportive of it.
  7. You become more of a writer and less of a salesperson.
  8. Your about me page is more about you then the product or service you are selling.
  9. Using social media will give you an excuse why your sales are down.

If you are still eager to use social media to prospect and to keep in contact I suggest to first research to see which social media your prospects and customers are using. If you come up to an unfinished or partial social media page then they are not using it much. Social media is supposed to be “Social Networking”. This means it is a two-way conversation. If all you do is blast out a one-way conversation then you will not get anywhere with using social media as a selling tool. Doesn’t this sound familiar? In sales if you are a one-way conversation with your prospect then you will not get anywhere.

 Here is how to properly use social media networking in a business………………

Hire or appoint someone to manage any social media platform representing your company. This hire is not a salesperson! Do not hire an outside company to manage your social media accounts. Who else knows better about your company then the people working there? Your social media manager can research for prospects and engage with customers on behalf of your company and sales staff. Any service issues get forwarded to the service department, general manager and sales manager. Any leads will be directed to the sales manager and the sales staff. A report can be given once a month (or week) at sales meetings where I suggest the general manager should attend periodically.

Pick only a few social media platforms to use. Too many will waste the time of the social media manager and the company as a whole. Because many industries are different, it is important to research which prospects and customers use which social media platforms. Answer any inquiries immediately. Even if you have to say, “we received your message and we will get back to you shortly”.

 The three main criteria’s for using social media to prospect or to stay in touch with current customers are:

1. Know which social media platform is the most used in your industry

2. Have a person or persons to manage your social media accounts

3. Tell your sales people to stop wasting time on their computers and do what they are hired to do……….GO OUT AND SELL!

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When you have the chance to sell

Pearson Nissan

Sell, Sell and Sell every chance you get. Can a salesperson or business be too pushy when it comes to selling? Yes, but when you have the chance to sell you should always take the opportunity. One of the best car dealerships in Ocala Florida is Pearson Nissan. They are at the corner of SW 17th street and SR 200 (College Road) across from Target and Walgreens. They have a spectacular showroom and their service is terrific. This is a very classy and customer oriented car dealership.

My wife and I had received an email from Pearson Nissan for a free oil change. We own a Nissan Sentra 2008. Usually when you get a notice for something free there are strings attached. Not this time. We called Pearson Nissan’s customer service to make an appointment the following morning at 8:00 am. When we arrived I had parked outside the service area because from my experience with car repair places, the parking is always outside, but not for Pearson Nissan.

Service Area

The service area of Pearson Nissan has three large doorways in which you are to drive into and a service advisor comes to your car to take your information and what you are there for. The service doorways were so big I thought you might be able to pull in an 18-wheel truck. The service area was clean and had several offices that you can see into because of the glass windows and doors. On the service advisor’s window it said the words sales person. This is when I thought they might try to sell us something.

This service area was only for gathering your information and details and then someone would drive your car to their repair area. Once our information was gathered the sales advisor took us through a showroom to the waiting area and told us it would be 45 minutes. I will admit it was pretty awesome. The showroom area was bright and open. The ceilings looked as if it was 30 foot tall. They had beautiful cars displayed that were showroom finished. The waiting room was very roomy. It was divided into three separate rooms with full glass partisans and doors. They had a large variety of donuts and bags of chips. They also had coffee, soft drinks and bottles of water. I also need to mention the free Wi-Fi service so you can bring your tablet or laptop to use while waiting.

After 15 minutes the service advisor came back to tell us that there were two recall parts they wanted to fix on the car but it would take another 45 minutes. Because we were not in a rush we said okay. By my calculations this would put us a total of one and a half hours there but thought we could walk across the street to Target if we got bored. I was ready for the sales advisor to come back and say that we needed a tune-up or something else done to the car because it was do. Surprise, surprise, surprise (as Gomer Pile would say on a past popular TV show). The service advisor came back in only 45 minutes and said we were all done. He asked me to sign a paper that showed no charge for all the service. He said they did the oil change, checked all the fluids and topped off, checked the tire pressure and washed the car. Do you believe it? THEY WASHED MY CAR! All that for no charge. Then the service advisor said, “Have a nice day”.

I turned to the service advisor and asked jokingly, “How are you going to stay in business by giving all this service away for free?” He chuckled and just nodded his head. We then got in the car and drove off. Where is the selling? Even a soft sell would be appropriate especially after all they did for us. I remember that before the service advisor took us to the waiting room I had told him that we totally loved our Nissan and I was thinking for my next Nissan I would want a truck if the price were right.

As I see it there were several selling opportunities that the Pearson Nissan car dealership should of taken advantage of. The first one should have been when I showed interest in buying another Nissan. I would have instructed the customer to look around at some of the new cars or trucks for sale while waiting. It would give me something to do besides sitting. I may have mentioned the variety of used cars and trucks or even asked me when do I think my family would be looking for a new car. Because they also had a beautiful area displaying car parts for sale I would have asked if I wanted to look at the store. A sale is a sale.

A tune-up, new car sale, used car sale and a car part are all ways to increase your sales. The question is, how many customers a year will go into Pearson Nissan but not be told of the wonderful items that Pearson Nissan has to offer. All I am saying is when you have a chance to sell, then sell.

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New to sales? Learn how to take Rejections from this Magician.

Sales rejections do not always come with a big fat NO. One trait of a good sales person is the ability to read body language whether from a person’s sitting posture or a facial expression. During my sales career there were many times that the customer showed interest but only to put off buying for another time. If I were in tuned to their body language I may have seen their decision not to buy before wasting both of our time.

Barbara Corcoran talked about a human trait that she has always looked for and would fire sales people if she didn’t think they had it. This trait was the ability to bounce (really fast) back after a rejection or problem. If her sales person did not have this ability to bounce back then bye-bye sales person. You could watch her lecture below.

As I mentioned in previous post one of the things I like to do is observe people selling and being sold. This observation comes in the form of real life, movies and online sources like Youtube. Being rejected is not just for sales people, as you will see in the magician’s (or wannabe magician) video. It can be for many professions and life in general. The main thing is that you learn from them and improve your sales skills.

 

Failing Magician

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cruise Ship Selling Experience

Art Auction
Being in sales as long as I have it seems that everywhere I go I seem to unconsciously look for people who are selling. It really intrigues me and many times I learn something. Because there are so many different type sales and hundreds of thousands of products and services to sell it is not hard to stumble upon someone selling something. Everyday and everywhere someone is selling a product, service or themselves.

My family and I decided to take a 5 day cruise this summer. It was a Carnival Cruise out of Tampa Florida. The ship was big and loaded with people. It had a water slide, putt putt golf course, basketball court and 2 different swimming pools. The main theme was copper color and beautiful pictures hanging everywhere. The entertainment was good and they had something going on for its customers all the time. Needless to say we had a lot of fun.

Some cruises have a staff that work mainly for tips only. This means if the customers do not tip their waitresses, cabin cleaners and other serving type people then those people do not get paid. Because many of the service people are from different countries than America this is how they provide for their families. Many times they work for 7 months on a cruise ship then go home for a month and then back on the cruise ship to work again.

When you think about the cost of a cruise you will see that it is less expensive then if you were to stay at a Hotel 4-5 nights. Cruises are a great deal. The reason why I am explaining this is because the cruise ship has to make money in other ways so not to have a loss from the inexpensive ticket price it cost you to take a cruise. This is when I noticed several selling experiences on this particular cruise.

The first selling I noticed was the drinks. As soon as you are onboard there are several servers offering you beautiful tumblers of some sort of drink. The drink looks so appealing that you just have to have one. The cost of the drink is usually $8.95 to $14.95. (I need to tell you that before you board a ship you are to give a debit or credit card so that any purchases you make during the cruise gets billed to them. Because you cannot use a credit card or cash on the cruise they give you a sail and sign card to make the purchases. After a day you almost feel as if you are not actually paying for anything but by the end of the cruise……….Surprise!) The sales techniques I noticed were,

  1. Because of the attractive appearance of the drinks along with the excitement felt by the passengers, this was an easy sell.
  2. The cruise ship’s marketing department seem to know its customers. For years customers were known to drink on vacation especially on a cruise ship vacations. Most spouses did not push the not drinking too much and actually joined in. Before the ship left dock I bet the average person spent $40 on drinks.
  3. The servers would go around and consistently to ask if they wanted a drink. (Asked a closing question)

The second selling I noticed was the photos. Before, during and after the cruise there are photographers taking pictures of you and your family. It was like having paparazzi’s following you everywhere. It got irritating by the 3rd day. They do not tell you, but these photographs are copyrighted by them so if you see one you like you have to buy it for $17.00 and up. They have beautiful backdrops to take pictures, people dressed as characters and will take individual and group pictures while you are eating. They display these pictures along two 20 foot walls which circles the main stairway area and it gets lots of traffic. I noticed a huge amount of people spending a lot of time looking at the wall of photos for the ones they are in. The sales techniques I noticed were,

  1. They made it inviting and easy to have your photo taken
  2. They did not tell you it will cost you for these photos at first (Hold off on the price until you show the value)
  3. They did not tell you these photos are copyrighted so you cannot take a picture of one with your own camera. If you like the photo you would have to buy it from them.
  4. They made the display of photos exiting to view and caused a buying frenzy.

The third selling I noticed was at the Cruise ship Art Auction. This was the first Art Auction I had ever attended. My wife and her mother had heard one was going on so I met them at the art area. The area was a lounge with a wild animal theme. They had leopard, zebra and tiger skin looks on the seats and on the walls. The lounge was in an L shape. They had art work on easels lined up on both sides all the way back to the rear of the lounge where there were 30+ passengers with auction numbers in their hands. They were giving out glasses of Champaign and then the Auction began. I had to tell you that the auctioneer (a lady that looked to be around 25 years old) took command and sold several pieces during the two hour duration. Most of the pieces were sold below what the auctioneer wanted. These cruise ship passengers were definitely not the high-end art collector type of people. The sales techniques I noticed were,

  1. The auctioneer got people involved by telling them she would put their number in a raffle box the more they clapped, cheered and kept involved. The more times their numbers were put into the box the better chance they had to win something for free. She gave away bottles of Champaign and art pieces during several raffles. Keeping customers involved led to a couple of sales.
  2. There were 2 people that went around to different customers whispering that the art piece that was being currently auctioned would be a great piece for them and asked them if they would like it. It was a type of small pressure selling. I am not sure if it worked but it was fun to watch.
  3. The auctioneer did three for the price of one auctioning and a few blind auctions where you don’t see what the art piece is until the end. The three for one made people feel like they were getting a deal.
  4. Anyone who won a free art piece (by raffle) had gotten a major pressure sale when they went to pick up their free piece. How I know is my daughter won one and I went with her to watch the transaction. Of course my daughter did not succumb to the high-pressure sale of buying an art piece but it was also fun to watch. The high pressure selling reminded me of when selling Time Shares was popular twenty years ago.

I do Love the art of selling. It is amazing where you will see this skill in person. I am back home now but cannot wait to discover another area where selling is being done.

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Selling Skills learned by the movie The Happy Poet

TheHappyPoetI have to be honest about watching this movie. The Happy Poet is a movie I stumbled on Netflix when I was busy working on my website SMI Webdesign. It was like listening to a radio when you are working. This movie should only be watched if you are really bored or need some background noise. It was very slow but had my interest. It was about a person who suppose to be a poet and came up with the idea of opening a health conscious food stand with a hotdog cart. He met some unusual people along the way. He never seemed to be exited with what he was doing. Eventually one of the people he met sold Marajuana to customers who would also buy a sandwich. The Happy Poet did not know this is why his food was selling.

Once he found out he closed up his store and began to sulk. Two of the people (One being the Marajuana guy) convinced him that an investor was interested in his Health food stand principal but when he asked the Poet about it the Poet didn’t seem to have any spark when talking about his food concept. When he was called out on his lack of enthusiasm the Poet only then passionately talked about his health food stand concept. In the end his idea was invested in and it ended happy with him getting the girl and having an actual store front for his health conscious foods.

Because of all my years in sales I have conditioned myself to look at things with a sales eye and to learn from them if I can. What kind of Selling Skills did I learn from this movie?

Skill One. You must be persistent in what you are selling. When the Happy Poet first had his idea he did some selling without knowing it. He first went to a bank to get a loan. Because of his lack of experience along with having a new unproven concept the bank lender would only give him a quarter of the amount he was asking for. That amount was $750. The $750 was his first sale because he at least received some money. Then he went to a seller of an old used Hot Dog cart and negotiated a payment plan because he did not have the money to buy the hot dog cart outright. These two sales, even if they were small, were needed. Even if your sales are small you need to take notice. Most of the time several small sales lead to a big sale.

One example. I was trying to open up an account of a business that would financially be good for me and the company I worked for. The business owner had seen sales people from competing companies regularly because sales were hard to come by at that time. I knew that just to go in and open this account was very slim. I had to get to know this business and the owner more and to show him he can trust me as well as get a good product from me. I knew that the small sales would lead to my goal of opening this account. I visited, asked how I could help in areas that did not pertain to my product, I called and talked about things he was interested in, pitched my product gently but consistently and gained his trust and respect. These small sales led me to open this account which was ultimately the big sale. This is what the Happy Poet did without realizing it.

The second skill that the Happy Poet eventually did was passionately tell the investor what his concept and product was. When he first talked about his Health Conscious concept he showed no enthusiasm. He lost the deal as he opened his mouth. After he was told how unenthused he was the happy poet opened up like a flower and passionately talked about his concept.

Here is some big advice. EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT ENTHUSED ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE………FAKE IT! Nobody wants a non enthusiastic person pitching them. If you have not noticed, this world is full of poor me type people and the sad stories are plentiful. When you talk with enthusiasm it makes the other person enthusiastic as well. I really hope you like what you are selling but if you don’t then find something else to sell. You have got to be passionate in what you are selling because if you do not believe in your product then why should someone else. You are just wasting both of your time. Be like the Happy Poet.

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