You Know Your Business but…

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 21-05-2008

Do you know your customers?

You have spent countless hours running your business.  You dissect your reports to glean all the info you can to see where you can gain a few margin points of profit, or buy smarter or maybe you can save a little on the company insurance benefits.  The rising gas prices has you debating the issue of minimum order size or (gasp) a fuel surcharge to your customers.  All these issues are time and brain consuming issues that require your attention to keep your business running and making a profit.  I totally sympathize with all the small business owners and the issues you face every day. 

But while you are dealing with the issues of operating your business have you stopped talking to your customers?  I don’t mean your reps or inside customer service people, I mean YOU the business owner.  I was reading a recent survey that was startling.  According to the survey 75% of senior managers in most businesses NEVER have any direct contact with the customers.  Another study reports that 85% of all CEO’s and senior executives never have direct contact with their customers.  Although these same managers and executives believe their company does a good job of being customer-centric, why such a big disconnect between upper management and the end-user?  When was the last time you personally called your largest customer just to tell them thanks for their business?

You certainly don’t need me to tell you the importance your customers play in the success of your business.  I would however like to remind you that as human beings our number one desire is to feel appreciated.  So why don’t you set aside a few minutes of your day, every day, to personally see or call your customers just to say hello and thank them for being your customer!

The last word: “Yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.”– Kay Lyons



Back to Basics – Cold Calling 101

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 13-05-2008

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Okay people, some of you hate cold calling.  Some even get as far as the prospects door and turn away in fear of rejection.  As humans our greatest fear is the fear of the unknown.  Cold calling for customers and prospecting can take on many flavors and qualities that are a unique as you are.  However, in order to build rapport and build relationships you must start with some basic information about your prospect, such as who is the decision maker.  Let’s address cold calling from the beginning with some basic techniques.

First of all, ignore any signs that say No Soliciting.  Those signs are really intended for people who canvass office building selling anything from cheap perfume to luggage.  If you are a legitimate business person making a cold call isn’t as repulsive and intrusive to most businesses.  If they treat you like dirt then I would ask them politely if they treat their own sales people in the same manner.  I don’t mean to be a smartass with that question but I can assure you that if your prospect has a sales staff they expect them to make cold calls too and to at least be treated with some respect.  I’ve been thrown out of offices before for cold calling but that has never stopped me from gaining new business through cold calling.

Secondly, have your literature and business card ready when you enter the door.  Be sincere when you ask for ‘help’.  And please don’t let the first thing that rolls out of your mouth be “How are you today?”!  If you must have an opening greeting let it be “Happy Monday!” Speak your name and ask if the gatekeeper can please help you. Tell her/him that you want to leave some valuable information for the decision maker regarding your product/service and ask for the persons name.  Confirm if that is the only person involved in making the decision on your product and get their title.  Write their name and a short message on the back of your business card and attach it to your literature.  Ask for the decision makers card and find out when the best time to call for a follow-up.  Get the name of the person you are speaking with and be sure to sincerely thank them for their help!  When you thank this person be sure to say their name when you thank them because people live to hear the sound of their name.  Follow-up your initial call within 24 hours.

Never apologize for interrupting their work when you walk in and don’t make excuses.  Deliver your introduction, don’t waste time and above all, smile when you address the gatekeeper.  Be prepared mentally for rejection because it will happen.  Be exceptionally prepared both mentally and with your facts and pitch.  Role playing is still the best way to practice your technique and become polished in your delivery.  I suggest that in every sales meeting you practice role-playing, it’s that important.  Quit complaining because no one wants to buy from a complainer.  When you enter the prospects office don’t grip about the price of gas or the weather.  Be the happiest person on the planet and work hard to earn the sale

Think of cold calling as a game.  One you play to win!  Make it fun, practice, read self improvement books and make someone smile.  And don’t forget to ask for the order!


The last word: “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”– John Rohn

Head’s Up From the Battle Front

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 12-05-2008

It has been several weeks since my last post and for that I apologize.  Even though business as a whole has slowed I have been working hard to keep my reps motivated and focused.  I’ve made a conscious effort to stay away from the fiasco going on among several of the big boxes.  Frankly, I’m tired of reading and listening to the same news over and over and seeing basically no attention being paid to it by the national media.  There are plenty of good news sources available regarding those subjects so I will remain hopeful that the popular media tents will decide to stand up and take note.

While being “in the trenches” that last few weeks seeing customers and prospects my first goal being that of observation and listening I followed that carefully with a few questions to see where business was heading and what was important to people.  Obviously most everyone spoke with regards to the general slowing of business with reports of as much as 30%-40% declines in business.  One prospect was forced to lay-off 19 employees due to the mortgage and banking problems.  On the other hand I see some segments showing good growth and I see that commercial furniture sales are increasing as I predicted some time ago.  I recently received a lead on a furniture prospect where the potential business was estimated to be $10K but now several weeks later the job is coming in at over $140K (Retail).  A lot of things transpired during the course of this job and we competed with eight other major competitors to win the business.  Why did we win?  Personal service. Other competitors wanted to do quotes and discuss issues on the phone and via email.  My reps spent much time on premise reviewing potential layouts and most of all taking the time to talk to the employees that were going to be affected by the new furnishings and asking lots of questions.  By asking questions we were able to determine what the prospect really wanted and needed.  It is all about the customer/prospect, not just making the sale.

The last few weeks have shown that personal service and genuine concern about the customer wins the day.  I asked people about “green” products and was actually quite surprised that nearly 70% of the people I talked to wanted to purchase more “green” products and were comfortable with the additional cost related to those products.  People want to feel good about their purchases which should remind us that this is a primary reason why we buy.  Buying is an emotion and every time someone buys a product from you an emotion is involved.  When you come to a point that you understand how to reach that emotional trigger then selling just became much easier.

The last word:  “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”  -Brian Tracy