Monday, November 30, 2009

7 Sales Secrets

For nearly 7 years, I have worked for a group of radio stations in Fort Wayne, Indiana known collectively as Summit City Radio. (Click on the logos to go to each stations website.)

This was not my first experience in Sales or in Radio.

My radio career began in 1976 at the age of 16, and ten years later I began a career in radio advertising sales and marketing.

The 7 Secrets are neither original, nor secret.

However, I have seen so many people in the sales world either fail, burn out, or never establish their full potential because they either didn't know or didn't follow these 7 Sales Secrets.

So, let's get started:

1. People don't want to buy what you are trying to sell them. They want to buy a solution to their problem/need/want. The classic example is people don't buy a drill because of the shiny black handle. They buy a drill because they need to create a hole.

2. Price is not important. Value is all that matters. While there are limits to what someone is willing or able to spend, if your customer sees no value in what you are offering, there is no price cheap enough to overcome a lack of value.

3. Objections can lead to a yes. An easy "yes" means you either know your client very well, or you're just being an order taker. I know it sounds harsh, but objections are conversation starters, and these conversations can lead to customizing a solution to their problem/need/want. Which leads us to...

4. You have to listen and learn, more than smile and sell. I do my homework and am prepared with research about my customers and their business. I also look at their competition and we talk about them. We talk about their goals for the future, their past history, what they have done that was successful and what didn't work too. Too often salespeople are only focused on what they have to sell instead of seeing how they can help their customers.

5. Your customer knows more than you give them credit for. We live in an information age with easy access via the internet. Your customer has done their research. However...

6. Your customer knows less than they think they do. Just because the information is available, doesn't mean they know how to use interpret it and use it to their advantage. That's where you come in as the expert. Which means that you better know your stuff inside and out. You are personally responsible for your own education, not your boss. Be your very best.

7. Relationships are forever. Apply the Golden Rule. Treat others with the same honesty and respect that you would like to be treated with. Keep relationships alive with your customers, potential customers and even those that may never become your customers. After a few years at my current group of radio stations, I had developed relationships that began paying off in ways I would have never imagined.

That's it. A half dozen plus one Sales Secrets, that shouldn't be secret. Your comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Basics: The Message

Last week I touched on the frequency of which a person sees or hears your advertising message.

Today, let's talk about the message.

The message needs to convey who you are, what you are about, why someone should do business with you.

It doesn't matter if you are selling bananas, mortgages, dental care or a getaway weekend, it's all the same.

Some old school copywriters and producers think you have to yell and scream and create excitement. If that's the experience a customer will have when they visit you or do business with you, then fine, however....

Most businesses do not operate in that world of hype.

I have found the most successful businesses I've worked with, don't need the hype and hustle in their advertising. They simply needed to present who they were and why you should do business with them in a straight forward, sometimes fun, but honest and trustworthy manner.

That's the message.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Basics: Frequency

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to share with you some of the basics of advertising; specifically geared to understanding what to look for and what to avoid when deciding on what and how to do your advertising.

You'll see it's not as complicated as some media salespeople would have you believe. The best advertising program is built around peoples habits, behavior and relationships.

Today the topic is Frequency.

Frequency is the number of times a person sees/hears an ad. In the world of radio listening, people pretty much listen to the same station(s) at the same time each week.

Let's say Bob is a 40 year old white collar worker who works an 8 to 5 job. He wakes up at 6:15am to his clock radio and is out of the house by 7:15. He spends 25 minutes in the car driving to work. At noon, he leaves and drives 10 minutes to eat lunch and another 10 minutes back to work. He is back in the car at 5:10pm and gets home around 5:45. He does this 5 days a week.

If your commercial airs between 7:15 and 7:45 in the morning, Bob will hear it on his morning commute. This is a Frequency of 1.

If it plays every weekday morning at the same time, Bob will hear it 5 times. This is a Frequency of 5. Most experts look for a frequency of 3 as a minimum number of times a person like Bob needs to hear a commercial before they notice it.

Frequency is one of the key factors in planning an advertising campaign.

Feel free to send me your questions:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Selling over the Phone

I wrote this article in June, 2008.

In the past year, more salespeople have entered the workforce and I have some words of wisdom for them:

Moments ago I hung up on a caller.

My cell phone rang, I looked at the caller ID and it said UNAVAILABLE.

Usually I would let it go to voicemail as a call screening measure.

But today I was curious.

I opened the phone and said, "Hello?"

(My usual, automatic way of answering is , "Hi, this is Scott, how can I help you?")

I didn't want to give my mystery caller the advantage of my name yet.

They asked for the Sales Manager or Human Resources Manager.

I asked why.

They said they had an offer for the appropriate manager and wanted to make sure they spoke to the right person.

I said I was the person they wanted to talk to.

Then the guy on the phone launched into a sales pitch.

Ten seconds into his pitch I hung up on him.

He has not called me back.

If your job is to make unsolicited phone calls to sell something over the phone to someone you don't know, then get a different job. This is like telephone spam, and it got so bad that a few years ago we enacted Do Not Call List laws.

But I need to use my phone as part of the selling process, you say. I know, I do too.

So here's a couple tips.

Avoid Selling Over The Phone. I don't want a sales pitch and I'm not giving you my credit card number. Most likely I will simply hang up on you.

Instead, use your phone to schedule an appointment. You say, but I don't set appointments, I sell over the phone.

Let me ask you, How's it working for you? What's your closing ratio? How many dozens, no hundreds of calls do you have to make before you make a sale?

If you must sell over the phone, then work smart. Use a combination of calls and email to communicate. Make an appointment to do a sales presentation over the phone.

Yeah, that's right, call and ask for a time to call back and talk for 5 or 10 minutes and do a Customer Needs Assessment. Do your research ahead of time before you get to the decision maker.

Oh, and stop blocking caller ID. If you work for a company that has to hide who they are, then you don't want to work there.

Now, go out there and be a pro.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Crunch Time

In my city we have tons of shopping centers ranging from strip malls to an "Open-Air" Mall, to the old standby, THE MALL.

A few weeks ago, I took a walk through our MALL and counted 21 empty store fronts. Mall management likes to boast that there are over 150 stores in THE MALL, but not right now. However, I'm willing to bet that by December 11th, every one of those empty spaces will be filled.

This is crunch time for THE MALL.

And despite the lagging economy, on the weekends, THE MALL has had a pretty full parking lot, at least on the weekends this year. What was missing was not shoppers, but shops for them to spend their money in.

Right now, there are people who are looking for ways to spend their money. My question for you, are you reaching out to them, letting them know you are here to help them buy with you?

Despite the rise of Social Media including Facebook and Twitter, many of the traditional advertising vehicles still work.

Television viewing is up, as people are staying home more looking for entertainment.

Radio listening is up as people want to hear their favorite music or take part in the news of the day.

Billboards. Still a viable advertising medium depending on what you are needing to promote.

So, is this crunch time for you too? Than do something about it and spend a little in advertising to get a lot in sales.