Etiquette Out-performs Sales Techniques

Barney's Best Manners; this was one of the Bar...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who knew manners mattered more than any other sales technique known to man or woman kind? Read on to this story which illustrates something that is so common nowadays that I’d like all those reading the article to take a second look at how their manners are treating those around them:

“Mary” excels as a business development consultant. She was granted a meeting where she ultimately had an excellent conversation, and in the end shared her creative insight with the initial decision maker.

“Jim” loved Mary’s idea but needed to consult with a colleague and promised to get back to her within 10 days. Given the timeframe suggested, Mary patiently waited. Being a business professional, she followed up by phone by the 11th day and also sent an email for Jim to choose how to respond. No answer came. Mary then left another voice message joking this time about persistence. But once again, no response was received.

Mary finally found someone else in the company with whom to speak, only to learn Jim had declined her idea. Unfortunately, he also declined all future communication.

via Etiquette Out-performs Sales Techniques.

I know we’re all busy. I myself don’t have the ability or the capacity to respond to all the cold calls or the spam that I get. However, if I’ve had a face to face meeting or a long phone conversation with someone and we’ve agreed to connect at a certain time, I do expect at least a line on an email saying they were moving on with someone else. I find it a real testament of how etiquette is a long forgotten art now that I’m on the sales side and not the buying side. Even back then, I’d like to think that I was always considerate of the relationships around me. How about you?

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

When a client dumps you: Hard lessons for a small business when a client fires them

During the 7 years of my coaching practice, I’ve been lucky that I’ve only lost a couple of clients. Each time that it happens I’m reminded again of the lessons that I’ve learned and I hone my skills and services to be that much better. If you want to grow your small business, do yourself a favour and learn from my mistakes. Here they are:

  1. When the client isn’t getting results, no matter how good your relationship seems, the client might resent you.
  2. When the client is frozen in inaction, stop all attempts to move forward until the core of the problem is resolved. Refer to therapy if problem is rooted in the past.
  3. Unless a milestone of success happens, do not ask a client for a referral.
  4. Do not become friends with a client. Some can handle it, some can’t. You may not be able to handle some.
  5. Specify right up front and in writing, the scope and method of what your service entails and doesn’t entail. Leave no doubts.
  6. Learn to spot a mismatch of styles in the initial meeting before the contract is signed.
  7. If there’s an issue that comes up that is strange or different upfront—let them go with no further questions. The situation will only get worse for both of you if you don’t.
  8. Re-evaluate the relationship every other month and talk about what’s working well and what isn’t for both of you so that you can course correct. Avoid nasty surprises at the end of the contract.
  9. Do not go above and beyond the call of duty unless the client is progressing well. If they’re stuck and you’re carrying them, they won’t thank you for it in the end.
  10. Don’t soft-soap or coddle clients who aren’t getting it done. Tell it like it is right up front that they’re letting things slide. If you let them keep sliding, they will hold you responsible later.

When a client who wasn’t happy leaves, it makes room for you to get a new one who will be a much better fit for you and you will continue to experience the joys of growing both your small businesses together.  

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

9 Beliefs of Truly Successful People

Successful (song)

Successful (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am always fascinated by what makes successful people tick. After all, why re-invent the wheel if I can pick up a pointer of two from them. Here’s an article I really enjoyed about the beliefs of winners:

1. Time doesnt fill me. I fill time.

Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.

2. The people around me are the people I chose.

Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.

3. I have never paid my dues.

I care about what you’ve done: how many sites you’ve created, how many back-end systems you’ve installed, how many customer-specific applications you’ve developed (and what kind)… all that matters is what you’ve done.

5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn’t just happen to me.

Embrace every failure: Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.

6. Volunteers always win.

Success is based on action. The more you volunteer, the more you get to act. Successful people step forward to create opportunities.

7. As long as I’m paid well, it’s all good.

Only do what you want to do and you might build an okay business. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can build a successful business.

8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.

The people who pay you, whether customers or employers, earn the right to dictate what you do and how you do it–sometimes down to the last detail.

9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.

Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don’t wait to be asked; offer.

via 9 Beliefs of Truly Successful People.

If you found a few things on this list you didn’t think of before, I’d like to invite you to explore a few of them. What do you think I’ll be doing the rest of today?

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

How Customers Decide to Buy

As you give it your all and make your pitch to your customer, your customer is also busy thinking about a couple of things. These are:

1. Do I want to do business with this person? Who is this person, really? Do I trust him? Do I like her?

2. Do I want to do business with this firm? Are they reputable? Are they credible? Do I have a history with them?

3. Do I want and need these products and services? Is there a problem that they solve? Is there a goal that they make possible?

4. Does the value meet my expectations? Will I get a quick return on my investment? Is the price in line with other offerings? Is this a unique solution?

5. Is this the right time to make a decision? Is there a reason to buy now? Is the problem about to explode? Is an opportunity slipping past?

via How Customers Decide to Buy.

As a coach, I don’t even get anyone to think of these questions unless they’ve had a personal experience of me. This can be through hearing me speak at an event or meeting me at a networking cocktail or through reading my written stuff. Once I’ve breached the perimeter of their consideration as an answer to their pain, then my website and social media presence and recommendations on LinkedIn kick in and help them answer some of the above questions.

If there’s enough pain and I’ve done a good enough job of convincing them to overcome the barriers of fear of purchase risk and timing, then it’s a no brainer that a customer will decide to buy.

What are you doing to answer these questions for your customers when you sell yourself?

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

Surprise! You Can Win Customers For Life

Loyalty from customers is a lot less common than it used to be. What with free offers of everything from ebooks to free coaching sessions, the average consumer today has a lot of choices to hop around. Check out this article about how other businesses big and small turn that loyalty train around and create lifelong lovers:

Beat your customers to the punch.

About 10 years ago, I flew JetBlue from California to New York. I liked the airline for its comfy seats, fair price, and convenient ticket-change policy. Even when the plane had to sit on the runway for four hours waiting for a repair, I still liked JetBlue, because the airline quickly informed passengers what was happening in a clear and detailed way, and then brought lunch on board.

But the next morning JetBlue really surprised me. The airline’s customer service team sent me an email apologizing that my flight had been delayed, and offered me a $250 flight voucher.  At this point, my like turned into love.

Make shopping easy.

A few months ago, my husband ordered a cabinet from Restoration Hardware. A Restoration Hardware employee asked what day would be convenient for delivery, and when my husband requested a date only three days away, she agreed to it.  On the day of delivery, the cabinet arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled appointment time.

Resolve issues without a fight.

At my company, Metal Mafia, we surprise customers by the way we handle products that are damaged during shipping.

We tell them to throw away the defective item, rather than waste valuable time returning it to us. At first, they usually don’t believe us.  When we insist, and then ship out the replacement or credit their account with no strings attached, you can hear how happy they are–all because they did not have to fight for us to make something right.

via Surprise! You Can Win Customers For Life.

So think about ways that you can surprise your customers to turn them into loyal lovers for life.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

7 Cold Calling Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur

A man speaking on a mobile telephone

A man speaking on a mobile telephone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cold calling is not dead. Yes, I rarely cold call to get clients but often have to cold call to get speaking engagements. One way or another, cold calling is inescapable. Here are some things to avoid so that you stop looking like a nervous rookie when you do pick up that phone.

1. Use manipulative tactic

Although connecting with key decision makers is difficult, reputable sales professionals never resort to lying or using manipulative tactics to connect with their prospects.

2. Mispronouncing your prospect’s name

It is inevitable that you will encounter names that are difficult to pronounce especially in today’s multi-cultural business environment.

However, a person’s name is very important to them so it makes sense that you figure out how to pronounce it BEFORE you make that call.

3. Trying to close the deal on the first call

Trying to close a deal on a first call is a rookie mistake. The purpose of a cold call is to determine if there is a potential sales opportunity and when there is your goal is to get an appointment.

4. Pitching an inappropriate solution or offering

This is still one of the most commonly made mistakes and it is usually a result of failing to conduct any pre-call research before making your call.

5. Spending too much time talking

Although you do need to open the call, spending the first 45 to 60 seconds talking is far too much speaking on your part.

6. Leaving a long, rambling voice mail message

Most voice mail messages I hear are too long, unfocused and filled with ums and uhs. If you plan to leave a voice mail when making your cold calls, you need to ensure that it is precise and concise.

Your message must give your prospect a clear reason why they should return your call.

7. Talking too fast

It is frustrating for someone to listen to a voice mail message several times in order to capture the caller’s telephone number. Remember, people don’t process information and record it as quickly as you can say it.

via 7 Cold Calling Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur.

My personal tips to add to this article is to *67 before you dial (if you’re in North America) so it can block your id and allow you to multiple call a lead without looking like a stalker. Also, never to leave a voicemail unless you’ve failed to connect on multiple times. Lastly, do the Call-Mail-Call routine where they hear your voicemail, get an email related to the voicemail and then you call back to follow up on the messages.

Happy cold calling!

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

5 reasons why I’m afraid I’ll grow my small business

Scared childA few nights ago at the Entrepreneurial Mom’s monthly meeting, a simple question was asked of the audience—“what is your biggest pain point?”
Unanimously everyone agreed that it was not having enough clients. That sounds like a no brainer answer right? Unfortunately in my practice of helping small businesses grow their client base, I run into a lot of people who are on some level afraid of succeeding. Here are some of the mysterious reasons why entrepreneurs are afraid to grow:

“Things will change”: The fear of change is the deepest and oldest fear of all man and woman kind. It’s a big one to get over.

  1. “I’ll have to spend less time with family and on myself”: When success in business equals failure as a mom, daughter or wife, women are often guilt ridden and find it tough to make a decision to do things to get more clients.
  2. “I’ll have to do some things I hate (namely sales and marketing)”: Most small business owners love what they do but hate selling it. On some level, they know that when they decide to get more clients, it will mean that they’ll inevitably have to market and sell more than they are right now.
  3. “Wanting too much money is greedy”: In a lot of subconscious small business owners’ minds lies the thought that if things aren’t too bad for them right now, that to want more money, more clients and to want to play a bigger game is just plain greedy. Greed is not an attractive trait.
  4. “My friends and loved ones will think I’m a big shot”: Who would want anything if it meant estrangement and ruined relationships with loved ones? Who would pursue something that could cause their social circles to reject them?

If you’ve known for some time that you’d like for things to change for your business but are unwilling to do things differently or are paralysed by fears, you might want to ask yourself some tough questions and consider if any of these fears are true for you. Once you’ve made your decision for change—call me or anyone who can help you grow your business.

 Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!