We noticed an incredibly disturbing trend this holiday season. People answering the phones for almost every business we were in touch with were abysmal at what they did. This isn’t an overstatement in the least (we wish that were the case).
In one case, the website for the company in question said that they hosted birthday parties. Apparently nobody in the company was aware of this. Here was a typical exchange:
“Hello. I’m calling to inquire about renting space for a birthday party.”
“You’ll have to speak with Mary. She’ll be in on Monday.”
“Can you please leave my number and tell her I called?”
“No. I have no way of doing that. You’ll have to call back.”
I think you can see where this is going.
Six calls to them later (we had to keep calling because they wouldn’t call us back), we got a response. “Ha ha.”, she said. “We stopped hosting parties five years ago.”
When exactly did this become the level of service we can expect? And what is your company doing to make sure you aren’t part of the problem?
The bottom line is this: Every inbound call to your company is an opportunity to make a valuable connection with the best kind of customer imaginable: one who has sought you out. Are you staffing this key position with someone equal to the task? If you aren’t sure, maybe you should dial your own number and find out.
P.S. If you don’t like what you hear, please consider calling Custom Sales Team. We specialize in helping everyone understand their role in your company’s success — including that all important first person your customers contact.
In the world of mail order catalogs, every company that’s worth it’s salt (and every employee that works for them) knows what the acronym LTV stands for — lifetime value. These companies know to the penny how much they can spend to convert a prospect into a lead (the “conversion cost” in industry jargon).
In earlier days, it was an easy calculation to make. Figure out how much it costs to print and mail a catalog, then keep mailing until the customer bought or until the math stopped working in favor of the company. (To some degree, that formula is still being practiced, although both companies and potential customers have gotten smarter. Thus, it’s harder than ever to convince new customers to buy simply by increasing frequency of mailings.)
Then came a company called Zappos, and the rules of customer conversion changed forever. Zappos sells shoes. LOTS of shoes. How? They took away all the barriers to buying shoes through the mail. Here’s their premise:
Order as many shoes in as many sizes as you want.
Try them on and send the ones that don’t fit back to Zappos using FREE return shipping (they even provide pre-paid postage).
That’s it. No fine print. No red tape. Just give the customer what they want.
Here’s the takeaway. If the measurement of success was to make money on every sale, then Zappos would be a failure. They have to be losing money on the majority of those initial transactions between shipping, inspecting the shoes that are returned, placing them back into inventory, etc.
But Zappos isn’t focused on the initial transaction, they are focused on LTV. They know that great customer relationships are capable of building a far more valuable business than those focused on profit margin alone.
Where is your company’s sales focus? Maybe it’s time to factor in LTV.
As a sales professional, you’re in the business of interacting with others. It’s always good to reflect on how effective you are at making connections both when officially making sales calls and when you networking to make new connections. With that in mind, here are a few networking tips:
Select an event in your target market
When choosing events to attend, it’s important to pick ones where there will be a high concentration of people in your target market. Think about what your target market is and the types of functions those customers would likely attend. They do not necessarily have to be “business networking events” per se. For example, if your target market is elderly to middle-age middle class women, a garden tour might be a perfect way to meet prospects.
Quality matters more than quantity
Focus on having several in-depth interactions at an event rather than many brief ones. The business cards of three people who will remember you are much more valuable than a stack of cards from professionals you talked to for a minute.
Have a response prepared for when people ask you what you do
Avoid the obvious short answer and try to make it around a minute in length. Try to describe your business. Include how you benefit your clients, but remember that this is a conversation and not a sales pitch.
Follow up after the event
Make sure that you foster the new connections you have made at a networking event. Don’t wait for potential leads to call you, be the first to make contact. Call or email new contacts a few days after the event. Arrange a casual meet up, such as grabbing coffee, to ensure that they remember you. Keep this relationship going and show genuine interest in the other person’s life. A sale is not an overnight process.
Try these tips at your next networking function. If you are a female, that could be Mimosa Morning, an event we are hosting for Maine businesswomen at Zapoteca restaurant in Portland, Maine. Join us there this Friday to learn more insider knowledge on networking while practicing the art yourself.
John Dubock has been working remotely for four years selling software nationwide. He’s the new breed of charismatic, overwhelmingly positive salesperson that takes advantage of cutting edge sales tools.
It’s All About Relationships
The consumer game has changed and in an increasingly impersonal world, memorable relationships with customers matter more than ever. He attributes his success in sales to leaving a lasting impression with potential buyers
“Your relationship with the consumer makes you stand out. How quickly do you respond? Even if they aren’t looking to buy at the moment, listen to what they’re doing and build your relationship. Listen, listen, listen. Type as they talk, go over your notes when you’re off the phone and retain your prospects on the sales ladder forever.”
Working Remotely Can Be Hugely Productive
John says that working from home allows him to cultivate relations with customers around the clock. His commitment to his job doesn’t end at 5:00; he responds to customers on their time schedule.
Working from home can be green, allow for more free time, and still give amazing results.
People working from home are available to their employer and customer 24/7 and can do the work that two to three people would do in the past. An added benefit is that in an age of digital customer relationship management, remote employees are completely reportable. Businesses can tangibly track the performance of sales professionals through changes in sales numbers.
Is your company ready to take advantage of the skills, enthusiasm and professionalism of a sales professional like John? Contact us today to learn more.
Our sales team has been great in the past but we’re just not attracting new business.
We hear this statement regularly from small business owners. If your sales staff has
experienced initial success with a certain marketing approach, you may think that
it can be used indefinitely. However, this approach is often not sustainable in the
long-term. A sales strategy that has been effective for attracting and retaining clients
usually diminishes over time.
During our trainings, we work with your sales professionals to maximize the
effectiveness of their efforts. Our staff has years of experience working with Fortune
500 companies and knows how to invigorate the sales process and the sales
professionals to inspire new levels of performance.
We work to better your sales team from the bottom up by changing the way they
do business. Through strengthening presentation skills and changing the way they
thing about sales, we can make your team more dynamic. We aim to create better
sales professionals who listen to what consumers want instead of pitching them yet
Want to learn more? Contact us today.
After a company experiences initial success, it’s easy for its brand development to remain static. Many businesses fall into the trap of being one-dimensional. They know who the customers they currently have are and exactly how to please them. Why disturb a good thing?
Then, when faced with the prospect of expansion they don’t know where to begin. The most important step is to maintain what you have already established. You need to keep the definitive aspects of your brand the same, otherwise you will alienate your existing clients.
So, how do you go about testing a new product or expansion into a new territory? You might have an idea of the type of customer you want to target, but you aren’t fully familiar with your potential audience. Appealing to a new market is a lot like dating; you have to get to know the prospective customer before you can establish a successful partnership and provide what they need. Unfortunately for many companies, the process of expansion is often a series of failed first dates
For many companies, the right answer is hiring a sales professional and assigning them to the product launch or territory expansion. This makes sense for many reasons:
- Your existing talent can continue to foster relations with your established client base without compromising the level of service.
- You are able hire a sales person to test potential markets on a project basis. Their employment can be conditional. If a new demographic proves successful, you have sales rep that is fully up to speed. If the test market fails to pan out, you can avoid investing more than necessary in something that is going nowhere.
Are you thinking of expanding into a new market? Custom Sales Team has the right sales professional for the job. Contact us to learn more.
A new fresh survey of 25,000 businesses throughout North America reveals that 43% of them plan to hire in Q2, 2012. Yet, more than 50% of those in the position to hire are finding it difficult to recruit for and fill those positions.
If you hire someone only based on professional experience and past performance, you run the risk that they will not embrace your company’s culture. This in turn, increases the likelihood that you will be right back where you started a few short months from now.
Wouldn’t you rather have your next hire performing well from day one and well into the future?
The key is finding the candidate that is the right fit.
Custom Sales Team has always believed that one of the critical aspects of finding the right sales professional for your company is ensuring they share your core values. We do this by taking the time to get to know each of the sales professionals we represent. We ask the right questions—What kind of company do they want to be working with? What kind of culture do they best work in? What motivates them?
By really understanding what candidates are the best for your position, you save time, limit risk and find a professional that will seamlessly fit into your company culture and is motivated to improve your bottom line for the long haul.
The headlines may still be singing the recession blues, but if their focus turned to small businesses, they’d treat us to a more up tempo beat.
Hiring at small businesses (those with 300 or fewer employees) has increased in the last two months and continues to be strong. Custom Sales Team is certainly witnessing this trend.
We are not only seeing plenty of sales positions opening up at small to midsize companies, but a large number of experiences sales professionals wanting to work them. Overlayed on top of this news is that many economic reports indicate that the ability to find top performing sales talent over the next several years will be challenging. Simply stated, the talent pool will be small and the companies that secure top notch salespeople now will be glad they did.
If you are thinking about hiring, we suggest you start the conversation sooner than later.
A 2010 Aberdeen study found that companies who had Best-in-Class alignment between marketing and sales had annual revenue increases of 47 percent compared to “Laggard Companies”, whose sales actually decreased by 4 percent.
With this much upside at stake, isn’t it time to get your sales and marketing teams on the same page?
“Easier said than done”, you say?
Perhaps. But isn’t nearly doubling your business worth a shot?
Here are some ideas for getting it done.
1. Get your teams to collaborate on what success looks like. For example, can both teams clearly define what qualified leads are and how to get them? Can they establish measurement criteria and goals?
2. Get the sales team involved in marketing campaign development, particularly in the early stages of the project. It is critical for the marketing team to intimately understand how the sales process works, so they can deliver creative that the sales team will be excited about using.
3. Have regular check in meetings between the sales and marketing teams to find out what’s working, what isn’t and adjust accordingly.
There has been a lot of press recently around the concept that the resume is going away—that the way to get yourself noticed in today’s world is by promoting yourself through social media.
It’s great that enterprising job seekers have a new way to reach their audience. But here’s the thing—creative flair and job qualifications aren’t likely to land you a job if you don’t have basic phone skills to back them up.
As the co-owner of a company that helps sales professionals find employment, I am astounded by the number of people who leave messages that are unintelligible. The most common offenses include mumbling names and trying to set the land speed record for spitting out phone numbers.
Here’s my position on the matter. “If you can’t clearly state your name and phone number, I’m not returning your call.” Because if you can’t do it for me, you probably can’t do it for a potential employer.
Put another way, why would you want to undo all the successful work you put into polishing your resume and tweeting your potential employer to earn consideration for that dream job by presenting yourself as less than buttoned up?