Relax Your CustomerOne of the most important skills a doctor can posses, is that of a bed side manner. In the same sense, it is important that sales people posses the same type of skill, to be able to put their customer at ease.Relaxing your customer is important to any type of sales situation you may find yourself in. Remember, think of the customer as a guest in your house, you are the host, so you want to make them as comfortable as possible in your house. The more comfortable they are in your house, the easier it will be for them to talk to you.In sales, trying to persuade someone we have never met before to buy our product can be very challenging.It can be challenging for a number of reasons, mainly the fear that consumers associate with sales people.The fear that we are all alike, comparing us to the unfair stereotype of the used car salesman. They are afraid of being convinced to buy something they dont need at a price they cant afford.You need to find a common denominator with your customer, something you can both relate to, something non-business.A non-business conversation is a great way to break the ice with your customer. We all want to make a sale, but since when is it a crime to get to know your customer?This is easier than you may think, people love to talk, especially about them selves.So ask questions. Ask about their pets, their families, their work, and their hobbies.When I was in banking, I managed a branch inside of a supermarket. Our daily goals consisted of going out into the aisles, approaching customers, and trying to convince them to bank with us.We applied certain techniques to this type of sales that worked rather well.For instance, the pet food aisle was a good place to talk to people, because people loved to talk about their pets. A simple question such as; What kind of dog do you have? would get them talking with the greatest of ease.The junk food aisle was also a good place to talk to people. For some reason the presence of candy and junk food put people in a good mood, and they were more prone to talk with a stranger.One place we stayed away from, was the frozen food section, because people didnt want to talk where it was cold. Understandable.My point is, people love to talk as long as they can relate to the subject manner, so dont be afraid to ask questions, and get to know your customer beyond that of the products they need.The more relaxed you can make your customer in your setting, the better off the two of you will be, and the more sales you will walk away with.This article may be reproduced by anyone at any time, as long as the authors name and reference links are kept in tact and active.
Copyright 2006 PJM ConsultingWhats the difference between selling to the US Government and selling to the Commercial market?Its like night and day.Sales and Marketing to the government is truly the flip side of commercial activities. You really cant believe how different these markets are--until youve actually come from one side--and tried to go over to the other. I emphasize, tried, because it usually doesnt work out very well!First of all, in the Government world, the term "marketing" is a standard term. But its meaning in the government world is very different from its definition in the commercial world. When you hear someone talk about Marketing to the governmentthey really mean SELLING. Thats in large part because those businesses that deal primarily, or exclusively, with the government really dont do much in the way of marketing in the commercial sense.Everything's DifferentIn a traditional government contractor, there is usually no one with a sales title. There are often a couple of people with grand titles like Vice President of Marketing or Vice President of Business Development. These people have very little in the way of real marketing responsibilities--they are the chief sales people of the company. They are usually former government employees, and in the case of a military contractor, often an ex-general or ex-colonel. Key to their hiring was that they are very well connected in the government or service branch that the company is targeting. Included in their charter are some light Marcom activities--putting together data sheets, and coordinating a few targeted trade shows. In addition to the dedicated Marketing People, much of the technical selling of individual deals is done at the project manager level.Of course, its not just the sales & marketing functions that are so different in the government world vs. commercial. Almost everything is! The typical government contracting business model more closely resembles a grocery store, than it does a typical high tech company. Margins are very thin, but profit is pretty much guaranteed once youve secured a contract. Up front R&D (IR&D in government terminology) is generally discouraged, as its a great way to lose money. IR&D can also be funded by the government; that is utilized heavily, but it has limitations. Spending an amount(without government funding) that would be modest in the commercial world on up front R&D can easily wipe out the thin margins that the government contracting business yields. The government contracting model works like this: Hire an ex-employee from the agency that you are targeting your marketing at. Leverage that relationship to secure the contract, with a minimum of up front product development expenses. Then hire the people to staff the project, and of course do a good job executing the project. Add new marketer from another agency and repeat.So for those purely commercial readers out there, this must sound pretty different than what youre used to. Thats only because it is! There is no Product Marketing/Product Management function in a true government contractor. In the government world your market is one customer, or a small number of customers, who are basically specifying the product for you. There are a few sales people, but as I mentioned earlier, theyre called marketing people. The actual marketing tasks are few and far betweencollateral creation, trade shows, a party here or there.Difficult to make the JumpAs you imagine from the discussion above, its difficult to move between the two worlds. Thats the reason that nearly EVERY government contractor that has tried to enter commercial markets in any major way has failed abysmally. Government-oriented companies typically dont have the entrepreneurial cultures found in commercial high tech companies. They lack fundamental Market Evaluation and Product Planning skills required for success in the commercial worldbecause its not required in their core market.Senior managers at Government contractors are often profoundly aware of all of this. They may intellectually understand that they need to do things differently for their companies to make the jump to the commercial side. But especially if they have been very successful in the government business, a difficulty emerges that wont be obvious on the surface. And this is the worst of all: Successful senior managers tend to fall back on their what I like to call their Common Business Sense, when they encounter new or stressful situations. Often they dont even realize that they are doing it. Unfortunately, when an executive with a government contractor utilizes their common business sense to make a decision involving a commercial business, the results can be disastrous. The right way of doing things in the two businesses are so fundamentally different that it would work out better if they took the OPPOSITE path from what their instincts told them. Not an easy way to do business.Commercial to GovernmentSo whats a C-level manager in a commercial company, which would like to secure some government orders, to do? Given the different business cultures of the two markets, it seems pretty daunting. Those poor government guys who have tried to go commercial have had their hats handed to themdoes the same fate await me?Fortunately, it doesnt necessarily need to be so bad. If you are selling services, or highly customized products, you may need to closely replicate the government-contracting model, if you are going to be successful. If you are selling fairly standard products, however, it may be possible to gain significant government business leveraging your normal commercial marketing efforts.A few years back, I was running a startup commercial software product group within a company that was otherwise a pure government contractor. It was a diversification effort for the company. Our sister groups within the company were all very successful, and extremely well connected within government contracting and procurement circles. I expected, and was promised, a lot of help in placing our products in large quantities within various government agencies and military branches. For a lot of different reasons, that help never materialized. But a funny thing happenedthis startup software product group ended up with 40% of its revenue from US and foreign governments. This was without a government-specific product, no real marketing advantage provided by our well-connected parent, and no special government emphasis in our sales and marketing programs. Contrary to popular belief, if you have a great commercial standard product that has use within the government, the agencies and branches will find a way to purchase it. Our product was aimed at Network Administrators, and their needs were similar to their commercial counterparts. The government market is huge, and we did well in the government sector. With a few modest investments, however, we could have done even better. So what steps should a commercial company do to maximize its penetration in the government marketplace?Tips for SuccessCreate a great productAbove all, your market research and product planning are the starting point to success. Make sure to include a few potential government customers in your upfront planning, which should ensure that you dont miss any special requirements they might have. This is a huge market you dont want to miss.Have a modest entry-level price for your productEven if in a production environment your product costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, its very helpful to have an entry-level price of less than a thousand dollars. This will allow a motivated prospect to acquire your product initially by going around the laborious, lengthy, confusingand often competitivecontracting process. Even if you have to go through a contract later to secure the full production purchase price, the bidding process may then be written to your specifications.Hire an experienced government sales executiveThis can NEVER hurt. It really helps having someone who knows his way around your target agencies, to head your Government Sales Division.Place your products on the GSA schedule via an established Government ResellerGetting on the GSA (Government Services Agency) via your own company is a long and complex process. For most commercial entities, it isnt worth the effort. Its much easier to give up a few margin points to a reseller already on the schedule. Its much easier for him to add your products. They wont do much for you in the way of promotion, and Ive found that being on the GSA schedule in most cases isnt REQUIRED to buy your products (although some will tell you otherwise). But it does make it easier for the customer inside the government, and if nothing else, raises their comfort level. They will know that they wont face a major hassle to buy your product.Thats my take on selling to the US government. Hopefully theres a nugget or two in there that can help you. Send me a note with a few of your own tips.
If you are a loan officer or mortgage broker and you are on the market for mortgage leads, you may want to research the companies you are considering to determine exactly what kind of leads you will be receiving. Not to mention, where they are coming from.A junk lead is classified as a lead that is old or recycled by many "loan officer" s and many lead companies. It may come cheap, but chances are, it wont be worth the two dollars you spent on it.A real time lead is a lead that is considered fresh. Meaning, you will receive it on the same day the applicant fills out the on-line form. If the lead is any older than a day, it can hardly be considered real time.When researching mortgage lead companies, be sure to find out where the mortgage lead company is obtaining their leads from.If they obtain them from web sites they own and operate themselves, where they are directing potential clients to fill out on-line forms, you can safely assume that you will be receiving fresh, real time leads.If the customer service rep for the mortgage lead company you are considering starts dodging your questions, than you can safely assume that the leads are not fresh.This is not to say that the lead company does not have good leads to offer, but it would be wise on your part to find out exactly where the leads are coming from to be sure you are getting the best quality leads for your money.In the end, it all depends on what you are looking for. Quality or quantity.Quantity will most likely get you hang ups and answers such as I closed that loan weeks ago, or I filled out that application months ago. If you are tired of these scenarios, you should definitely consider going with quality mortgage leads, otherwise known as real time mortgage leads, it just might be worth your while. Best of luck.
Many sales reps look at ads, direct mailing pieces, catalogs, the Internet, anywhere there's advertising as sources of prospects. This is wise. But I find so many of these people ill-prepared for what they inevitably hear on calls. Here's an example of what I received.Caller: Hello, this is Bill Jones with Video Recorders. I saw the ad for your Getting Through to Buyers video program, and we do video duplication.Uh-huh.He became flustered at this point, probably because I didn't say, Oh, you do video duplication? Where should I send my master copy; you can do mine.Uh, I'd like to talk to you about doing yours.Look I'll save you some time. I selected my existing company after evaluating quite a few. They have a very good price, quality is fine, and service is great. I have no reason to even consider looking around. Even if I did, I ordered enough to last me the rest of the year.Oh, OK. Keep us in mind.Yeah, sure.Analysis and RecommendationsSo you might be thinking that I gave this guy an iron-clad objection that was impenetrable. And you're right for the most part-when it comes to getting a sale on that call. However, he undoubtedly runs into that same objection quite a bit, so I'm surprised he hasn't learned to use something that won't totally slam the door so suddenly in his face. Here's what I would do in his situation:Call Strategy and Preparation: If I were placing this call, my Primary Objective would be to get commitment that the prospect would use my service the next time they duped tapes. Although that wouldn't be achieved on a majority of the calls, it's always best to aim high. After realizing on the call this wouldn't be reached, objectives in descending order would be: to get commitment that I could at least bid on their next job, and if that wasn't met, to get agreement that they would at least keep us on file as a back-up supplier in case their existing duplicator for some reason no longer met their needs, or if they had other future projects coming up.Preliminary Information: He knew nothing about me when he called. He could have asked the person who answered the phone here about who we now use, how many we typically order, what we pay, and any other qualifying information which would have better-equipped him for the call.Opening Statement: He gave no reason for me to even listen. He may as well just said. Well, I've finally called you, so I guess you can start using us now.Simply dialing the phone does not give a person the right to take someone's time. Promising or hinting at some value they could get does.I would have listened to this: I'm Bill Jones with Video Recorders. We specialize in top quality video duplication, and now work with quite a few training organizations. Depending on the price you're now paying and your level of satisfaction with the quality and service you're getting, it might be worth it for you to take a look at a bid we could do for you. I'd like to ask a few questions to see if it would be worth your while to talk about it.I would have been more likely to answer questions at this point. However, even if I did retort with the same objection mentioned earlier, he could have picked up on it and used it to ask more questions. For example, I see. What price are you paying? If that resulted in a dead-end, a last resort question to at least try and accomplish the last chance objective would be, What plans do you have in place for a back-up supplier, if for example, you needed a large quantity in a hurry and your supplier wasn't able to accommodate you for some reason?Determine if parts of your call process are similar to this one. Analyze every step of the process, determine your own strengths and enhance them, and shore up the weak areas.
If youre a solopreneur, consultant, business owner, or independent professional, you probably have asked yourself some or all of the following questions:* How can I get more clients?* How can I get better clients?* How do I sell more to the clients Ive got?* Can I earn more money and still have a life?* Why are sales activities so difficult sometimes?* Is there a "right" way to sell?* Where can I turn for hands-on advice when I need it?* When will this get easier?Well, Ive got some answers. Heres what most sales training companies will tell you is the answer to your sales and marketing challenges: "sales training" . Heres what most marketing consultants will tell you is your answer: marketing consulting.Well, that just isnt the case. If anything, you need to UNlearn what a lot of sales training and marketing seminars and sales books have told you. You need to reconnect with how to sell based on WHO you are in short, to start using and recognizing the power of selling differently.And heres something new and different coming from someone like me: You dont need sales training.Sales training (and any training) is for people who lack knowledge. My clients are typically very smart. But they've learned to sell from the head - using gimmicks, clever phrases, manipulative closing techniques, and artificial rapport-building. None of this works or lasts because it's outside-in trying to force you into a mold that you just dont fit. A truly effective approach will unlock your thinking and help you sell FOR REAL. It's more authentic, and it works and lasts because you start to sell from the inside-out - based on WHO you are, and not on an external set of behaviors that work for only a very small percentage of "old school" salespeople. Think about it. You know how to sell (or at least you know you don't like what a lot of sales training SAYS is the way to sell). You have probably had some sales training; and you might have gone to a few sales seminars; you have probably read a sales or marketing book or two; and you may even have heard some fluffy woo-woo talks that call themselves sales training; but none of it stuck because none of it seemed relevant to you or spoke to your desire to help people by providing genuine value. You need a personal sales and marketing strategy that seamlessly combines your natural self with your strongest message to your best prospects with the highest value, using the least time and effort. Then you need a plan and an accountability mechanism (sales manager, coach, or colleague) that will help you work your plan, day by day, prospect by prospect. Unlike traditional sales training, true sales and marketing effectiveness is a process, not an event. And it always works from the INSIDE out. That means that its focused on internal skills and lasting tools, not sales training gimmicks or external techniques. When selecting a sales and marketing professional, you need to be aware that a lot of marketing consultants give detailed blueprints but no tools. And a lot of [*_*] provides specific tools but no overall blueprint. You want to look for a resource that integrates big-picture marketing strategy with day-to-day selling tools so that your marketing WORKS and that MORE SALES HAPPEN. The truth is that nobody needs one-size-fits-all [*_*] or heres-your-marketing-plan-good-luck consulting. You simply need a customized set of keys to unlock the business answers you need. There is no cookie cutter. Youre no cookie.