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Book Recommendation: Combo Prospecting: The Powerful One-Two Punch the Fills Your Pipeline and Wins Sales
Posted in Business book reviews on July 15, 2018
From: Dan Beaulieu
Combo Prospecting: The Powerful One-Two Punch the Fills Your Pipeline and Wins Sales
By Tony J. Hughes
Copyright 2018 Amacon
Price $ 18.95
Pages: 244 with index
A New and Effective Approach in the 21st Century
How do you get to the people who matter? How do you get to the C-Level decision makers when these poor people are literally deluged with request for their attention coming at them from all avenues? From old fashion phone calls to cold calling to social media to Facebook and Linkedin these people are being attacked from all sides,
Mr. Hughes has come up with a series of unique techniques combining social media and traditional methods to get to the right people with the right message using the right techniques.
By using today’s tools of communications with yesterday’s proven strategies the author has created a sales process that followed properly is guaranteed to work.
Covering topics from relationship selling, to creating your own on-line brand, to social listening, getting though to not only CEO’s but board members as well, this important book equips today’s sales people with every tool they will need to make their forecasts and more.
One of the more valuable insights in the book is the section on becoming a trusted advisor, which I personally have always believed is the ultimate goal of any sales person, to earn the customer’s trusted advisor,
As for what is the problem with most sales people, here is some insight from a CEO:
The number one problem with sales people is not having enough in the pipeline…
More root issues are:
- Enough know-how in driving sales success through old-school high levels of effective activity combined with new school digital engagement.
- Lack of customer industry knowledge or poor understanding of the client
- Inability to leverage personal networks and technologies to find the right path for connection with decision-makers
- Inadequate insight and value narrative needed for senior engagement.
And again, from the book some insight from an executive, and I condense:
- I only meet people after a warm introduction from someone I know and trust
- Cultivate multiple stakeholders in my company and educate them on your solution too.
- Don’t be creepy personal, stick to business Amen to that!
- Do your research, seeking a conversation with me without doing your homework is unprofessional and shows a lack of respect
- Know my industry
- Don’t appear arrogant
- Take the time to know how I define success
- Aspire to be a trusted advisor…act in our best interest
Good advice from a person who matters. In this case an executive who has take the time to educate us as sales people on who to work with his company.
This book is filled with this kind of valuable information and insights. But I warn you this book is only for people who are dead serious about being successful, people who are willing to invest a great deal of time and energy in being the best. If that is you, then this is the book for you!
As always, it’s all about the customers and more importantly, it really gets down to what your customers think about you. I want you to really think about this for a minute or two. What do your customers think about your company? What do they think about how you do business? Would they recommend you to someone else who might need your services? After all, a great recommendation from one of your customers is without a doubt the strongest evidence of how and what they think of you.
We all should be focused on what our customers think of us at all times. This is particularly true for those of us selling business-to-business products because most of the time if we are not performing as the customer feels we should be he will simply walk quietly away, not even bothering to let us know why he is unhappy, which is why it is so important that we always have our finger on the proverbial pulse and staying aware of where you stand with that customer.
A few weeks ago I read an excellent book, Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World, by Steve Anderson and Dave Stein. First, let me say this book is a must have must read for anyone in sales and anyone in business, for that matter, as it is filled with page after page of excellent ideas, suggestions and guidelines on how to be a completely customer-focused company.
There was one particular section that really struck me as a great tool for companies who want to make sure they understand where they stand with their customers. In fact, it’s so valuable that I want to include it here for all to see and reflect upon. Here it is:
How would your customer respond to these statements? Would they say “Yes” or “No” to these statements?
This is your customer being asked to agree or disagree with these:
- You make it easy for us to do business with you.
- You resolve our problems and conflicts as they arise.
- You understand our business and our industry.
- You listen to our needs before talking about your offerings.
- You consult with us with an intent to solve our business problems.
- You dedicate the resources that will enable us to work effectively together.
- You provide us with preferred pricing and contract terms.
- You align your team members with ours.
- You approach our business strategically and not just transactionally when we’re buying.
- You plan the future together with us even when we are not buying.
- You develop relationships with our executives and yours.
- You help us understand the specific value of your offerings.
- You help us assess your performance with mutually acceptable metrics.
- You share best practices and industry knowledge that will add value to our business.
- You provide a single point of contact to us for strategy and decision making.
- You provide an internal advocate for us that will be focused on our specific needs.
And of course you know me—I can’t help but add a few of my own here:
- You are there in times of trouble, making sure that we have the ability to talk, or even vent to someone.
- You maintain a certain amount of decorum and respect for all your customers since we never have heard you say anything disrespectful about any of your customers.
- You are always striving to make our relationship better.
- You are honest with us when it comes to new innovations and technologies that will help our business even if they might not be in your best interest because you have ours at heart.
- You give us the feeling that you are always looking out for us.
- We consider you our expert when it comes to your products.
- We consider you a vital part of our company’s future growth plans.
- You have proven yourself to be a valuable partner to our company.
- It would be difficult to replace you.
Pretty good lists, right? How would you do? Do you feel that you would get positive answers to all of these statements? Are you doing everything listed here and would your customers would agree?
I hope so. But if not, then it is in your best interest to remedy that and do it right away. I would urge you to keep this list around, use it with your team as a tool to make sure you are always on the right track of not only knowing your customers better, but knowing what they want and then providing it to them. It’s only common sense.
Even after 11 tries!
I read a book the other day that said that you have to make at least eleven contacts with a company before they become a customer. Eleven contacts? Wow no wonder so many people don’t make it in sales? Eleven is about eight more than most people I know, try before they get discouraged and move on.
There are many reasons for moving on, for stopping, after two or three contacts, the first being that you don’t want to be a pest. You don’t want the target to start hating you for your stubborn consistency. Most of us are pretty polite folks, and we feel that we know the difference between being a good conscientious salesperson, and a pain in the neck. But then again, I have spoken to many buyers who will tell me things like. “He called me so many times, that after a while I had to give him a try.” Or, “I’m not sure about sales people today, it used to be that they would keep calling me, but now most of them stop after three times. And, that’s a shame because by the time I need them and their products they are gone, and they miss the chance to do business with me.”
Let’s be clear, these contacts don’t have to all be phone calls nor do they have to be live customer visits. They just have to be contacts or what I call “touches” of the customer. Here are some examples of eleven “touches”, you can give a potential customer. For these examples, let’s use a target customer who does not know who you are or what you do; a target customer you get from a directory:
- The first touch will be an email. Send the target a well written email explaining who you are and something about your company and what it does. This email will be send to everyone one your target list as well, a mass email.
- The second touch will be a value-added newsletter about your company, focused on how your can help the target.
- The third touch will be an actual phone call, with the goal of setting up a face to face appointment. Chances are you will get voice mail, you could get voice mail a number of times, before you actually talk to the person. Make sure the voice message you leave is always cheerful, polite, and yes, even intriguing. By the way chances are very good that the buyer will never call you back. But rest assured, she is getting your messages and knows who you are.
- The fourth touch is when you finally get the person to answer the phone. This could happen by sheer luck of timing, or the buyer could have answered in purpose. During this touch, try to engage the person in a conversation, making sure this conversation is focused on her needs. Remember, it is always better to listen, than to talk. And, if this call is done correctly you should be able to start developing your strategy for winning this account. Also remember to ask for in person meeting.
- The fifth touch is the actual meeting. Check this out, it took four touches to get to that first face to face meeting, and the meeting, is just the start of the next phase. Now the meeting; make sure you have a goal for that meeting. What do you want to accomplish during the meeting and how will you accomplish that goal? Chances are if you do a good job you will walk away with the promise of an RFQ.
- The sixth touch is the follow up. This is a thank you and summary email where you list the things you talked about and also add a gentle reminder of that quote package you were promised.
- The seventh touch will be a week or so later, when you have not heard from that buyer and you make a phone call to leave a message reminding the buyer of your meeting and the promise of a quote package.
- The eighth touch will be when it is time to pick up that quote package. The buyer will either call you in or will send you the package. Now you are getting warmer, closer to success!
- The ninth touch will be if you have questions about the package. Make sure they are good questions.
- The tenth touch will be delivering the quote package. Try to make this one in person so you can ask about your chances of winning the package.
- The eleventh touch will be to follow-up your quote to see if you won it or not. If you did not win it, then you need to find out what it will take to win it next time. If you did win it, congratulations! You are an overnight success, after only eleven touches and about six months.
The thing to remember is to keep trying. But there are a couple of things to consider as well. First make sure that the account you are targeting is a worthwhile target. That they have they fit into your “ideal customer profile” if they do great, if not move on. The second is to make sure that you are getting somewhere. If after eleven touches you are no further along than you were at touch two then move on, there are other targets out there and you can better spend your time pursuing them. Remember what Willie Sutton said about why he robbed banks, “it’s where the money is.” It’s only common sense
We have a problem in this PCB industry of ours.
We are so focused on beating the other guy, that we don’t spend much time working on how we can make our own companies better. In fact, we are always so focused on disrespecting our competitors that we would rather see them fail than succeed. I have noticed that there is usually some satisfaction when we hear that another shop has gone out of business.
Think about this. Should we be happy if one of the few shops left in this country goes out of business…really? We are already feeling the negative results of the steadily diminishing number of shops in our part of the world. The numbers are up for debate but from what I can estimate there were once at least twelve hundred shops in North American in the early eighties and now there are only around two hundred, and that’s individual locations not companies. If you consolidate all the TTM locations under just the name TTM you get even fewer.
This is what has happened while we were cheering the loss of our competitors:
- We have lost our leadership position in the PCB industry
- We are no longer the technology leaders we once were (Yes, it’s time to quit telling ourselves that all the technology is developed here in this country because it is no longer true)
- We no longer have the strong vendor base we once had to the point where if you have a shop in the Southwest or the Northwest you are no longer seeing vendors as often (if at all) as you once did.
- Which means that we have also lost the technical support we once relied on with having a strong vendor base.
- Our customers especially the defense contractors are so worried about the sparsity of qualified American vendors to handle their defense and aerospace PCB needs that they are petitioning the DOD to allow them to go offshore, or at least to work through American contract manufacturers who buy their boards from “qualified” offshore sources.
None of this bodes well for those companies that are left. We have two choices, we can keep beating the crap out on one another until there is no one left or we can figure out how to work together and become strong partners instead of weak and weakening enemies. Think about it, maybe it’s time for the remaining companies to circle their wagons and figure out a way to start working together and in a cooperative effort to stand together and make the American Board industry as strong as possible.
Collaborating with one another is the only way to go if we want to make the future ours, heck if we even want to have a future. PCB companies need to find ways to come together and present a stronger front to their customer base.
Instead of cheering for the demise of our competitors we should be making them partners in these ways:
- Communications: Start talking to each other. Find out what your competitor can do that you can’t and work out an agreement.
- Share technology research work on new innovations together.
- Share capabilities: One shop might have via-fill equipment while another has plasma etch by working closing together and doing some bartering both shops will be able to offer both capabilities.
- Combine your buyer power. Remember the old granges where farmers got together to buy seed and equipment and get a better deal from their vendors? That’s the idea. If four board shops get together to buy four drills from one equipment vendor, they are going to get a much better price than if each buys their own. And they will also have more influence when it comes to having that equipment serviced.
These are just a few of the things that shops could be working together on. If they choose. They say that if you don’t define your future someone else will. Aren’t you tired of someone else determining your future? Don’t you think it’s time you did something about it? It’s only common sense
You’d better love what you sell.
That’s what successful salespeople do.
First, a true story about company loyalty…on steroids! My father was a very hard-working Coca Cola salesman. No matter the weather, rain, or shine, snow, sleet, hail, whatever, he was out there every day driving on the back roads of Maine, delivering his heavy cases of soda. And, he like all Coke salesmen, (sorry there were no Coke sales women back then) loved his product, He loved his company, and he loved the product. He loved it to the point that if he came to your house and saw Pepsi in your fridge, he would pour it out and replace it with Coke, free of charge.
The rivalry between Coke and Pepsi salesmen was hard core, they loved their company and hated the other company. True story (sorry this is a bit scary) One time, the company that made their coolers, you know the ones they put in the stores with their logo all over them, mistakenly delivered a Pepsi cooler to the Coke plant where my father worked. So, what do you think they did? Of course, they should have called the company and asked them to replace the cooler with the right one, right? But did they do that? Nooo.
Here’s is what they did. They loaded up the cooler on a Coke truck and took it to one of the guys’ houses. They filled with it with ice and beer. They drank all the beer, and then they took sledge hammers to the cooler and completely destroyed it. Then, and this is the best part. They dropped it off in front of the Pepsi plant, filled with empty cans of Coke!
Now that’s being loyal to your company!
Oh, there is one more story about my father and his loyalty to Coke that demonstrates that he did have a sense of humor after all. Later in his career he showed up at a family Halloween party dressed in a Pepsi uniform and carrying a six pack of Pepsi! The family couldn’t believe it. He was the hit of the party.
How about you? Do you feel you are selling the best product on the market today? Are you so proud of what you sell, that you brag about it to everyone you know? Are you so confident that your products are the best products on the market that you make it your mission to make sure that everyone who needs it buys it. And do you actually feel sorry for those poor customers who don’t take advantage of your product and all the benefits it comes with?
To be a successful sales person, you must feel like you’re doing your customers a favor by giving them the opportunity to buy your products. You want to tell as many people as possible about the great solutions to their problems you’re offering them.
Then, the next best thing is getting your customers as excited as you are about your products. Enthusiasm is contagious, and the more enthusiastic you are, the more enthusiastic your customers will be.
If you have the right sales job, and you believe in your company and its products, you’re going to be jumping out of bed in the morning, anxious to can talk to as many people as possible, converting them to becoming fans of the products you’re selling.
The true job of a salesperson is to get the customer off the fence, and onto his side of that fence. And, the best way to do this, is to demonstrate the true value of your product. If all the customer wants to talk about is price, then you have not done your job properly. You must convince your customer that your product is so valuable, that he will want to pay, what you have convinced him the price should be.
A perfect example of a “valuable” product is college. People feel that a good college education is so valuable to their children that they will pay any price. Think about that for a minute, the price of a Harvard education is now a quarter of a million dollars, and still people are breaking their backs to get in…and they only let in one out of five applicants. Now that is perceived value!
And, that’ exactly what we have to do with our products. Raise the perceived value so high that our customers will feel guilty even haggling about price. And, to do that you have to love your product, love it as much, as much as my dad the Coke man loved his product. It’s only common sense.
Book Recommendation: Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges that Defined the Company that’s Disrupting the World
Posted in Business book reviews on July 1, 2018
From: Dan Beaulieu
Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges that Defined the Company that’s Disrupting the World
By Mike Hoefflinger
Copyright 2018 Amacon
Price $ 24.95
Pages: 244 with index
Great insight into one of the world’s most influential companies
Everything you wanted to know about Facebook and we’re afraid to ask…well almost afraid to ask! Okay we’ll let’s start with those 10 challenges. What were they?
- Knowing whether your next thing is your last thing.
- Add by subtracting
- Know your North Star Metric, Magic moment and core value
- Everybody wins if you democratize something for customers of all sizes
- Speed is a feature
- Crossing the chasm is the best defense
- Disrupt yourself before someone else does
- Some long games are worth playing if you take care of business in the meantime
- Employee engagement is everything. Fit to people’s strengths and ignore weaknesses
- Care more.
As you can tell these are more guidelines than they are challenges by which I mean they are the answers to challenges that Facebook has had to face over the years.
But besides being an excellent history book into one of the most fascinating companies in the world it is also a great business book. Full disclosure, I wanted to read his book because of wanted to know the Facebook story. Although I thought the story would be interesting I did not think that any of the lessons in this book would apply to me and my own small business or the small businesses that I work with, but I was wrong. The book is filled with valuable lessons that can be applied to any company, no matter the size.
Here are a few:
- The value of self-disruption. If things are going okay with your company, it takes a great deal of courage to decide when you have to change things, especially if you are taking a risk that the change might not work or be for the better. It still has to happen sometimes.
- People. It’s all about the people, no matter how technology driven a company is you still have to remember that any business, as in life, is people dealing with people. And when managing people, it is always better to figure out what they do best and work with that.
- Not all investments in your company are good. Although the money might be tempting, especially when you really need it. But if the people offering to partner with you are out of alignment with you…only bad things will happen, it is often better to move on.
If you want to know about Facebook, this is an excellent place to start. If you want to know about how a company grows to mega-size this is a great story and yes if you just want to learn more about how to successfully run our business, surprisingly this book will work for you as well.
Posted in Sales on June 28, 2018
Let’s stop and think for a minute. What can you offer that goes way beyond the product itself? What can you offer that will get your customer thinking beyond price issues? What do you have to offer that will make your customer tremble with terror when his CPA suggests dumping you because your prices are 20% higher than anyone else’s? And what drives your customer to tell his CPA to forget it, because he considers your products, services, and—most importantly—your overall value to him to be so strong that he does not want to live without your company at any cost? That is true value, and that is why selling value is so important—not only to your customer, but to you as well.
Check out Tom Hopkins’ great book on customer service, The Art of Selling. Hopkins has coined the phrase “The 7 Cs of Customer service,” which he described in a blog post:
The first C stands for Concern. I think people want to know that you are more concerned with serving them, helping them, and that they are happy, and want a long term relationship with you than you are with making the sale and getting the check. They want to feel that concern and many people in sales don’t get the dollar signs out of their eyes. If a person feels you need the sale and they feel pressure to purchase a product they’re not ready to commit to, they will fight you because they want your concern.
The second C is Competence. People demand competence and they deserve it. Clients expect you to be an expert. They want you to know your trade and your profession. They want to be able to rely on your professionalism.
The third C is Courtesy. Great people in sales are very polite. They are concerned about their manners, and they are very concerned about their vocabularies. They don’t in any way insult a person’s values by saying anything that might offend them. Our society is constantly changing its expectations for business behavior. Sadly, those expectations are often lowered, but I believe the highest paid people in business are very polite, very courteous and watch their vocabularies so they don’t insult the values of the people they are speaking with.
The fourth C is Commitment. This is one I find lacking in the business today. People are not willing to commit and dedicate themselves to becoming the very best in their industries. As you read this, I hope you realize that the top professionals make a commitment—it’s called being willing to get out of balance for a period of time so that someday they can have complete balance. I believe in balance in our lives today, but I also believe that in building a business you have to be willing to spend some time out of balance. That means if you have a family, you need to sit down with the family and say, “We are going to commit 24 months of putting in more time and effort. And, if I do everything that I have to do as a professional, I can work less time with much more income for the family. This will come about only because we are willing to make this commitment.”
The fifth C is Composure. It’s important that we don’t allow ourselves to get upset and frustrated with this business. Realize that you are in the people business and have chosen the vehicle of your particular industry to serve the needs of others. In the people business you can get messed up if you don’t keep your composure.
The sixth C is Consistency. Every professional I have ever trained who has gone on to be one of the best is consistent. Those pros know exactly how many contacts they need to make each day. They know exactly the number of calls, exactly the number of people they are going to visit, which will result in so many products sold and they make that commitment to consistency.
The seventh C is Creativity. The people I meet who do the best are very creative. In other words, if they have a challenge, they overcome it by being creative. If something is wrong in their lives, they handle it by being creative. If you have a sale that is about to fall out or cancel, get creative. If it doesn’t go through, don’t get depressed—become more creative. Approach it with the attitude that you will take what you learn from this opportunity and develop your creativity.
By concentrating on your buyers’ needs and giving them the proper service they deserve, you’ll develop a career that will support you and your loved ones for a lifetime! (Copyright Tom Hopkins International Inc.)
This is fantastic stuff, man. And here is what we need to do. We need to follow Tom’s rules to a T and come up with some ideas of our own.
Here are a couple that I have personally used over the years:
- If your company messes something up like a field reject, a quality issue, or a late delivery, and the customer is really upset, then get over there. Drop what you are doing and go visit that customer and talk to him face to face. It may provide him with nothing more than a live butt to kick or a live person to yell at, but it will be worth it in the long run. He will remember your courage and caring enough to come and see him live and in person. Yes, he will respect you in the morning.
- Here is another one. Living in New England where it snows once in a while, I always made a point to get in my Jeep and visit customers during those storms. Man, did that impress them! They talked about that for years and established my reputation as a guy who would go to any lengths to service his customers.
And there are numerous stories of people going to great lengths, chartering a plane, driving all night, doing whatever they could to dramatically deliver product on time.
These stories not only exemplify great customer service, they also become a part of your reputation as an outstanding customer service company. And that is really what customer service is all about. It’s only common sense.