Friday, October 30, 2009

Marketing Analysis

A marketing analysis is taking a look at all your marketing activities and measuring which ones are the most effective so that you can create repeatable patterns.

To give you an example, I'll use my Chicago apartment for rent. The showings to potential renters have come from:

My Realtor: 5
Chicago Reader: 5
CraigsList, Apartment: 0
CraigsList, Garage: 3
Free Press: 0
Posted Flyers: 0
Apt People: 2
Chicago Apartment Finders: 1
Apartment Exchange: 0

As I look at these results, I can see that my realtor and the Chicago Reader have done pretty well for me.

A Chicago Reader ad has cost me $57.00 a week and I've run it for 3 weeks.

My realtor will take one months rent equal to $1,195.

Craigslist is free but isn't producing anything for me. Craigslist has a great reputation for finding renters and I've had good luck before. So I started to analyze, "why is it not the case anymore?"

When you check a Craigslist listing for an apartment, you are overwhelmed with daily postings. The posters have figured out how to post the same property every day in a different way. The renters are overwhelmed and frustrated. Taking a look at this information and asking questions is an example of listening.

I decided to try a backdoor approach to CraigsList, posting the garage thinking that if someone needed a garage, they might need an apartment too. This idea produced three inquiries.

Then I ask, why is the realtor doing well? I can post on the MLS myself for a fee. I believe it's because she is a long-term professional realtor. Her postings have credibility. She's known in her marketplace. When she has a posting, other realtors who know her take notice.

Why is the Chicago Reader doing well? I think it's because Craigslist is so saturated. The Reader is easier to read and there's less competition because of the small weekly fee. It is also distributed in a target market that has a high population of renters.

This is an example of a marketing analysis. When clients ask "what marketing/sales initiative should I use?" My response is to try several and test them. Once you see positive patterns, invest more in the initiative that is producing results.

That's how it works.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


All things being equal, if I have a decision to make, I'll choose the sales person that has enthusiasm for their product or service.

Enthusiasm goes a long, long way.

It's true, you won't be successful selling something that you don't care about.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I love when prospects ask for references. Before I landed a Sales Training client the prospect asked me, "what makes you different than anyone else?" My response was "passionate, enthusiastic references." He hired me on the spot, although he didn't check the references.

I always check. You learn a lot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tough Personalities

As a sales rep I've always been good with the tough personality. You know the type. He's the guy that lets you into his office but doesn't invite you to sit down and gives you five minutes while he's looking at his watch to tell him what you're trying to sell him.

Here's how I learned how to deal with that personality. I'd look around the office for clues. If I'd see a family photo of him with young children, I'd think "I bet he's a really good and loving grandfather." I'd focus on that thought, greet him with a big smile and start asking questions about how I might be able to help.

It works. I'd build a connection with someone who was used to intimidating people. Try it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Difference Between a Feature and a Benefit

A feature is something your product has. If you are a realtor and you are selling a house on a tree-lined street, the tree-lined street is a feature.

A benefit is a feature that the prospect cares about.

If your prospect loves uninterrupted sunlight streaming through every window in the house, the tree-lined street is not a benefit to that buyer. When selling, a sales person needs to understand what features the prospect cares about.

The only way to know what they care about, is by asking questions and listening very carefully to their answers.

Friday, October 23, 2009


At our call center we do not compensate the callers with a bonus if they get a lead.

In our TeleIntelligence Programs, we pay our callers well, train them well and treat them well. They can work any 20 hours a week that they'd like and wear shorts in the summer and sweats in the winter. We work with high caliber clients and only do B2B calling. We don't sell aluminum siding to residents on a Sat morning.

Our callers are also not sales people. They are calling and qualifying opportunities to be turned over to sales people. We have not had turnover in more than a year and we have some of the original callers we hired on staff.

Paying a caller a bonus puts the onus on a caller to decide what a lead is. They will be generous in the description because they are motivated to do so by the additional money they will earn. With our programs, the callers are motivated by the quality of the lead. They continue to work with the customer, garnering feedback so that they are in a better position to ask more relevant questions and take each opportunity as far as they can.

We are proud of the way we work and the results we produce. Contact us at 312.697.0885 or if you'd like us to create a successful program for your company.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time Management

I developed our Time Management workshop based on feedback from salespeople. The comments on the Sales Training evaluations I received said "all of your sales processes sound great, we just don't have time."

So I developed a Time Management course specifically for sales people. We're usually a right-brained bunch doing a ton of multi-tasking and a military style approach which focuses on perfection and rigid time management practices won't work for us. I started doing some research a created a pretty unique program.

I begin the one day session by re-assuring my group that I do not want them to work more hours. We already work a ton of hours and the answer is not to work more hours. The goal is to get more out of the hours we already work.

I actually use a time management assessment to identify the components of successful time management and where the participants can improve.

Personally I'm great at meeting deadlines. No one would ever guess that I have a time management issue. I do and my greatest challenge is Procrastination. I can come up with a million creative things to do when there is a task before me that I don't want to do.

I've learned to work around this challenge. One of the tactics I use to avoid procrastination is to set a time limit. I had to figure out how to set up my Internet service in my office. I hate this stuff. I avoided it for several days and came up with many excuses. Then I finally scheduled a time from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to figure it out. I figured it out by 3:45 p.m.

Knowing that I would not have to do it for more than two hours helped me to stop avoiding it. And I completed the task before my deadline which thrills my sales person's heart.

TimeMgmt Flyer

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Start, Poor Follow Through

I'm working on renting a beautiful apartment on the NW side of Chicago. I have the ad posted in a local newspaper.

A woman from a rental agency contacted me. I admired her creativity. Great place to look for prospects to sign contracts to rent apartments and a great place to scout out properties for your renters. Clever.

She said she had a renter for my property. I felt that was a lie but moved forward anyway because if she's clever getting contracts perhaps she'll be clever in finding renters.

I submitted a contract and haven't heard from her again. Too bad.

I have this experience when I'm coaching and training sales people. They have GREAT intentions when they get going but fizzle out pretty quickly.

There's a statistic that most sales are made after the fifth call. Most sales people call once and quit, 25% call two times and quit and only 10% keep trying.

If the metric is sales are made after the fifth call, if you haven't called at least five times, you are not even in the game. If only 10% of all sales people play there, you don't have much competition.

If you look at your CRM system and note that you have not made five points of contact, get to work!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Networking Meetings

When you attend networking meetings, mix it up. If you sell technology don't go to meetings that will attract other people in technology.

Go to a meeting of an association of florists, general contractors, manufacturers, service providers. If you do, you'll be the one of the few technology experts or maybe even the only one and you'll make a lot of contacts.

Mix it up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Power of the Customer

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Sam Walton (1918–1992) American retailer founder of Wal-Mart

As customers we have power we forget about and don't exercise often enough. Wal-Mart is a great example. Many people don't feel right about the fact that American workers don't have adequate health care, yet the largest purchaser of health care in America, Wal-Mart does little to challenge the problem. In addition, we struggle with wages that don't meet the minimum living expenses but turn a blind eye at the exorbitant profits Wal-Mart posts.

Let's fire them.

I'm not afraid of a fair negotiation. Going for the cheapest price and leveraging your vendors has a long-term ripple affect. I was recently at a meeting for small business owners. We were discussing the lack of available financing and how it was affecting our growth. One man who once owned a $25 million company with no debt bragged "I financed my business on the backs of my vendors."

Yuck. He entered into business relationships with no intention of paying within terms. Stretching out his payments for 90 and 120 days. Vendors who wanted business and trusted him fell for it and he was able to grow a profitable business.

He asked for my card. He's starting a new venture and needs sales support. There's no need for him to call me. I'm not financing anyone's business and he's not the kind of guy I want to do business with.

Trust is key in mutually beneficial business relationships. Customers like him would ruin FullCircle Management.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Can I Wear Jeans?

I was just asked by a sales rep if he could wear jeans to a meeting.

My response is dress one level up.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sales Calls

When you're meeting or telephone prospects make sure to have a goal of what you'd like to accomplish.

One of the goals I have is to "make it the best call they've had all day."

Find a reason to connect with your prospect, give them some value, an idea, a new way of looking at things. Make them laugh. We're all stressed out and busy multitasking with too many requirements put on us. Isn't it great when someone comes along and lightens our load a little bit?

Make it the best call they've had all day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I'm a big fan of LinkedIn. It's a powerful business tool for connecting. Giving and getting referrals has not changed over the past 20 years I've been in business. LinkedIn is an automated tool to facilitate the process.

Today I have 120 connections. Of those 120 connections, I can say that I 100% believe and can vouch for 115 people on my list. There are 5 people that I don't really know. Before I understood how the tool would work, I accepted their invitations.

Now that I understand that it's good old fashioned networking, I only invite and accept invitations of people that I feel comfortable including in my close business circle.

What am I going to do with those five I don't really know? I'm going to make a point to get to know them so that I can feel just as comfortable with them as I do with the other 115. By doing so, I'll increase my network.

If you don't manage your contacts thoughtfully, all you have is a list of names. You're no closer to having a network than you were without the list.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Social Marketing

Business owners seem to think Social Marketing: Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, SEO are the holy grail and business will come flowing effortlessly to them.

Social Marketing, in a way, is the holy grail. It's extremely powerful marketing. It's an inexpensive tool to help build a following, connect with your customers and bring more business to you. It provides immediate, measurable results.

A business however, cannot avoid, the "Basics of Sales".

An executive told me recently that her business received 1100 Facebook hits and 25 customers. My reply was 'that's great! Now you have a decision to make, you can either increase your Facebook hits or increase your close ratio. If the metrics are right and 1100 hits bring 25 customers will 2200 hits bring 50? Or is there a way to increase the number of conversions from 1100 hits? These are happy problems.

In addition, the 25 immediate customers don't represent the whole picture. 1100 prospects or clients have increased their awareness of her products and may result in sales later.

This business sells promotional buttons to rock and roll bands. Facebook is a great tool for them. It reaches their target market.

Facebook is not, today, a great tool for a manufacturing firm that sells coil to OEMs. Chances are their customers are not on Facebook and not looking for product information there. By following the Basics of Sales, businesses need to listen to their customers and reach their targets with media that they use and value.

By listening and employing solid sales skills, social marketing is the holy grail and can be very, very powerful.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Charmed Sales People

There's a comment after the Basics of Sales post that talks about the types of sales people that are so charming and attractive, people want to buy from them just because they want to be liked and accepted by them.

It is true, there are some sales people like that out there. I'm not one of them and if you read this blog you probably are not either.

I knew of a guy that bought a truck from a beautiful woman at a car dealership. Her desk was right in the front window of the dealership. He used to drive by just to take a look at her. Sure, it happens that sales can occur based on the sheer charm of the sales person but it's not something you can control and it's not a quality that most of us have.

For the rest of us, the Basics of Sales will work. You'll need the basics whether your job is selling or you are looking for a job or your promoting an idea. You can control and influence the process and increase your chances of consistent success. It's not based on luck or charm.

You'll work with integrity, and attract the kind of profitable customers and opportunities you want. For the charmed sales people they can even work the process and not rely on the chance that someone will be so engaged by them they'll want to buy.

It's fun to work and deliver sound services for a fair process. It's profitable and it feels good to work with integrity.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ignoring Buyers

A lot of times sales people will dismiss opportunities because they only want to deal with the 'decision maker.'

In today's business world, one person does not make a decision in isolation. They will rely on a team to collaborate with when making a decision. It's important to treat each and every person that you meet with as if they have the authority to give you a sale. You'll learn a lot.

I was out making sales calls with a wholesale florist sales rep. Wholesale florists sell flowers to florists who in turn sell them at retail. We were making calls together so I could provide some sales coaching.

We called on a florist and the owner was not in. I asked the rep what he learned. He replied "nothing, the owner's not in, I have to come back another day." I suggested we go back in and talk to the woman behind the counter.

We asked her questions as if she were in authority to make a decision. We learned that the owner rarely came in, took his summers off to stay in his vacation home and relied heavily on his designer to make purchase decisions. They had a relationship with a competitor but the competitor was sometimes late in making deliveries.

By asking a few questions to a 'non-decision maker' we sure learned a whole lot.

Questions are your best friend in sales. Remember to listen more than you talk and you'll win each time.

Commission Programs

I'm not a fan of paying sales people 100% commission. When you do, you attract 'just anybody' to come and work for you. In addition, they almost always have second or third jobs.

When your sales reps are not making any money they are desperate and operating out of fear to get the sale. They'll use manipulation tactics with the prospects or the company they work for. Don't build your business on this week foundation.

I just saw Greg Wittstock, the pond guy, give a talk for a group of Presidents of small businesses. Greg honestly acknowledged business was down. He also said that he has guaranteed his sales reps salaries until 2010 so they can stay focused on sales and growing his company and not worry about paying their mortgages.

I fully support Greg and wish him tons of success. Seems like his company is embracing The Vision.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Shadowing is a great sales tactic that used to be used frequently, I'm not sure if companies use it too much anymore.

The term means that a senior sales rep teams up with a junior sales rep and they spend the day making sales calls. This is different than going out with a manager. When traveling with a sales manager, the sales manager has power and the junior sales rep has to listen to their critique whether it's right or wrong.

With Shadowing, the junior sales rep is able to watch and learn from the senior sales rep. The junior rep will learn by observing. They'll learn skills and tactics that the senior rep didn't even know they had.

The junior rep is required to make calls on this day as well. The senior rep will more than likely learn something about the company and products since it is all fresh in the junior rep's mind.

I've learned a ton from Shadowing. If you don't do it at your firm, I suggest you give it a try.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Don't Lie

There were a couple of great responses to the Don't Lie post.

One said,

"I think many salespeople might think a short-term gain is fine, since they'll change companies and somebody else will have to pay for their dishonesty."

This reader is correct. Some think short term gain is OK and they won't get caught. They're even rewarded by their employers for their tactics. Sure I've worked with people like this. I'd like to say that they weren't successful but they often were. Companies are so desperate for cash flow in our economic system, the leaders will turn a blind eye to those that generate revenue. It's one way to build a business but it's not my dream.

The writer goes on to use Bernie Madoff as an example. Even though our current economic climate is difficult, I like it. This economy exposes businesses that are shells and not truly profitable. Most businesses are not profitable. I think it's an exciting time and an opportunity to create true economic strength.

Another commenter states, "I get those annoying lie-calls at home all the time and don't buy into them. They are a waste of their time. Lying to me is insulting. If I had a SPAM button on my phone, I would hit it! I don't care how busy I am, I KNOW who has called me."

If your company's goal is to deliver with integrity and build a system of effortless success where your customer's come to you and gladly pay for the value that you bring don't lie and don't hire people who do.

Wouldn't it be a fun way to work and live? Imagine what we could create.