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Potential Sale Undone January 26, 2011

Posted by David Dirks in Sales Strategy/Tactics, Sales Tactics.
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It never ceases to amaze me how awful you’ll often find the sales service you can find from different businesses.  Just recently I was contacting a very well known radio station that serves the NY metropolitan area.  All I wanted to do is get some basic demographic composition of the stations listener.  I called the number of the salesperson who I had in my files and left a detailed message of what I wanted and how.  I made it as easy as possible for him to follow-up with me either by email or phone.

Do you know what?  It took him more than a week to even acknowledge my call…and he wasn’t on vacation or out of the office for some other reason.  He explained to me that he was very busy dealing with other sales prospects.  He never apologized for taking more than a week to get back to me.  He just thought I would buy the excuse.

I nevertheless let him banter on and it was then I realized that he didn’t bother to listen to what I wanted in my first message.  So, I had to take the time to go over the specific items I needed.  He rambled some more about needing some time to get to this request.

“I have some car dealers that I’ve lined up as prospects to finish.  Can I get back to you with this information the following week?” he said.  By now, I know this sales person simply stinks at the sales profession.

That told me that he didn’t really care about my business and only wanted to show me just how busy and successful he was.  How could he get back to me when he had all those pressing car dealers to sell radio time to?  Unbelievable right?

Here’s what that sales interaction told me:

1.  His firm had not provided or did a very shoddy job of training him or he simply ignored what he learned.

2.  It also told me that his manager had no clue just how awful he was.  Perhaps he was already on written warning for being such a poor and clueless performer.  That was possible buy not likely.

3.  This sales person likely lost & cost his company tens of thousands of hard-to-earn revenue dollars every day, week, and month they employed him.  It’s likely that his sales approach with me was the same ‘winning’ formula he applied across his selling opportunities.

By the way, he never sent me the data (which he only had to forward to me) the week he promised it.  It was the week after that when I received his email with the data I requested.  Three full weeks of valuable time (mine) lost because this person couldn’t sell his way out of a paper bag.

When I work with a client, we focus a serious amount of time on setting up a sales process and developing a sales culture that is responsive and attentive to prospect needs.  Sales training built around best practices within the firm and industry is job #1.  It’s an ongoing process that includes a regular dose of sales coaching that helps to shape and mold their sales performance.

Long-term sale success also includes building a process around performance management that helps us understand what’s really going when we turn them loose on their sales prospects.

I see too many companies short-change the sales selection, training, coaching, and performance management process.  In this case, radio sales are not easy sales by any stretch of imagination.  Radio ad sales are traditionally thought of as a place were a new sales person can ‘cut their teeth’ in the sales profession.

All the more reason to invest a little more time and resources in making sure they understand how you want your future (and current) customers to be treated.

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Landing Big Sales with Tom Searcy: Podcast November 5, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Dirks On Strategy: Episodes, Sales Metrics, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Sales Tactics.
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Listen to this podcast of a previous show on the Dirks On Strategy Radio show.

Tom Searcy, author or “RFPs Suck!” and co-author of “Whale Hunting,” is a national speaker, trusted authority on large account sales and founder of Hunt Big Sales, a fast growth sales consultancy and thought leadership organization. Searcy’s primary expertise is working directly with companies and sales teams throughout their big sales “hunts,” helping them to compete and win disproportionately large sales in highly competitive markets. His philosophy and process have resulted in over $3 billion in new sales for his company and its clients.

Before entering the national stage, Searcy headed four corporations, each of which he was able to take from annual revenues of less than $15 million to over $100 million–all before the age of 40. Since then, Searcy has helped more than 100 companies grow exponentially with his proven process for fast growth and company-wide transformation.

In his newest book RFPs Suck!, Searcy shares his rich understanding of the RFP process with companies across the board to help them conquer the RFP system once and for all to win corporate and government contracts.

Searcy’s first book with co-author Barbara Weaver Smith, “Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Deals and Transform Your Company,” was published by Wiley in 2008.

Contact him at: http://www.huntbigsales.com

Webinars: The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good May 15, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in marketing, Marketing Buzz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Sales Tactics.
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David DirksAs a marketer, I just love the internet for the power that it allows us to harness and leverage.  It allows us to conduct market research, design market strategies  and tactics, create products & services, interact with our customers, check up on our competitors…and more.  All this in a collaborative package that allows us to share and exchange ideas freely and across the world.  The impact of the internet on marketing alone is just breathtaking.

One outgrowth of web marketing is the webinar.  It comes in all kinds of flavors but after having sat through more webinars than I can count over the past two years, they only come in three basic flavors.  The ugly, the bad, and the good.  And yes, I reversed the old cliche!

The ugly webinar is ugly because it’s execution is ugly.  The presentation is enough to make your eyes bleed.  The facilitator sounds like they just pulled a stranger off the street and gave him the controls.  Ugly webinars are ugly but I won’t necessarily hang up.  Being the optimist that I am, I’m always hoping that I’ll be able to find enough kernals of insight and knowledge that it is worth sitting through this thing.  It’s a risky proposition but sometimes I get lucky.  Even if I attend a really ugly in-person seminar, I’ll work hard to find information I can put to good use.

That brings us to the bad webinar.  These webinars are bad because they oversell the benefits of what you’ll ‘learn’ and package it in a very well design webinar.  The only problem is that there’s no ‘meat’ in this webinar.  It was put together by some marketing and sales people who said to themselves, “hey, we can take our sales brochure and turn it into a webinar.”  These guys want to ride the wave of webinar popularity and get in on this thing too.  For those of us listening and watching this webinar, we smell a rat.  They’ll tell you there is meat in this webinar but all you’ll get is processed cheese.  After about 30-60 seconds of the bad webinar, you can safely hang up.  The bad webinar is bad not because it doesn’t look good or the facilitator isn’t professional, it’s because they created the Gordon Gecko of webinars.  All grease, well-dressed, slick, and very thin on character.

I’ve saved the best for last.  The good seminar is good because it delivers a meaty presentation that is full of excellent insights and information.  Makes you think about things differently.  The good webinar delivers on what they promised in their email pitch.  I feel like they actually went above and beyond that.  I could pay for the good webinar because it over-delivers and blows my expectations out of the water.  The good webinar is well designed and presented in a concise and well facilitated manner.  A really good webinar gives me a nicely designed workbook that I can keep as well.  Although there is a timeframe for the good webinar, nobody seems too worried and they answer almost all the questions that we listeners have.  Do they sell?  Sometimes yes and sometimes no.  If they do sell during the webinar, the % of information to sales pitch is about 90%/10%.

If I was to put a number on where I think all the webinars I’ve attended fall into it would look like this:

Ugly Webinars: 40%

Bad Webinars: 50%

Good Webinars: 10%

Yup.  That’s about where they stand.  As usual, there are only a few who really understand that we, the participants, are not as stupid as we look.  We can smell when something is bad and we can see when something is ugly.  That makes those who have good webinars stand out from the crowd.  That’s called differentiation.

Using Trial Offers to Combat Slower Sales May 5, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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I’m starting to hear the budget wheels moving…only to tighten. You don’t have to listen too hard to find many business folks rumbling about smaller budgets…budget cuts and the like. And they are hearing it from their own customer base. Even if customers are good financial condition, the smart ones pull back on spending when times get tougher.

One way to combat the budget constraints and general purchasing wariness, especially on high ticket products or services, is to offer customers a trial offer. You see the trial offer used all the time in cases where the product purchase is significant.

A trial offer does several things:

  • Gets wary customers interested in testing your product without the risk of purchasing first.
  • Trial offers attract interest and can spread via word of mouth…especially if your product does what it says it does.
  • A trial offer acts as a way to strengthen your reputation by virtue of the fact that you are putting it all on the line during the trial. A trial offer says, “hey, don’t take our word for how good the product or service is…you make up your own mind.”
  • Builds sales where you would have none before. If a customer is in need of your product or service and the trail meets or exceeds their expectations, nine times out of ten, you’ve earned a sale.

Like the 100% no-questions-asked money back guarantee, the trial offer builds consumer confidence and sales.