Category Archives: business

And One More Thing…

My wife makes a terrific homemade pizza.  Since learning of this hidden talent of hers, we rarely do take-out pizza anymore, however, from time to time it can’t be helped.  We brought home some Domino’s a while back.  Stapled to the cover of the box was an advertisement for a new menu item for Domino’s:  A Chocolate Lava Cake. Yum.  I started thinking about cake.  But then, I noticed something else off to the side of the page… an ad for the Blue Ray version of the Despicable Me movie.

No tie-in to the Chocolate Cake.  No relevance of any sort that is mentioned.  It was almost as if they made the Chocolate Cake flyer and then said, “Hey – we have some space over here – what can we fill it with?”

The result – an advertisement with identity confusion.  I stopped thinking about the cake.

Just because you have some white space, doesn’t mean you have to fill it.  Make your point and then stop.  If what is on the page is not contributing to strengthening the core message – it does not belong there.  Get rid of it.

Use the same ruthlessness in your emails or other written correspondence with clients.  Do not toss in extra offers or products at the last minute.  That “one more thing” weakens what you really want to say.

And one more thing…  Happy Selling!

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Your Competitors are NOT Morons

If you ask a sales person about their competition, he is likely to roll his eyes and spout some venom about how “stupid” the competition is.  Or, he will retell a story of a time when the competitor screwed up an account and he swooped in and saved the day.

Most of the sales people I have met view their competition as incompetent; not knowing how to properly care for the customers.

<img title=”moron” src=”http://www.abovetheherd.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/moron.jpg&#8221; alt=”your competitors are not morons” width=”300″ height=”300″ />Here’s the thing… your competition is finding some way to stay in business, pay their bills and keep people on the payroll.  Obviously something they do has appeal to a segment of your market.  You would do well to spend some time to figure out what it is that they do right and not only focus on the things you perceive as wrong.

You may indeed have a superior product or service.  So why do you lose business to the competition?  Are they working harder than you?  Are they better networked?  Do they communicate more timely -or- more clearly?  Do their sales people have a better grasp of the sales process?

Taking the time to view the competition through new eyes might highlight to you areas where they work well and give you some ideas for improvement.  Remember, they probably view you as incompetent too – and we know that’s not correct. Is it?

Happy Selling!

What can you do in 11 minutes?

What can you do in 11 minutes?  I hope it’s a lot, because a study by the University of California (Irvine) found that the average employee can devote a mere 11 minutes to a project before being interrupted.  If the worker is distracted long enough, he or she is not even likely to return to that task on that same day.

Are you able to write that proposal, complete that report, make those prospecting calls or devote brain power to that strategic plan in an 11 minute window?  Me neither.  Early in my career, it would take me 11 minutes to get psyched up to even begin making prospecting calls, let alone get any of them done.  And for projects?  I need time for my thoughts to percolate (much like my coffee) and I need time to get into my groove.  11 minutes is simply not long enough for the creative juices to flow.

So what to do?

Do Not DisturbI used to recommend my sales people hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on their door or outside of their cubicle to let their co-workers know when they are in serious need of time to get momentum going with a project.  Now, with distractions such as email and online networking tools it is critical to hang a virtual “do not disturb” for yourself!  It is just too easy to get swept away into the virtual world at the neglect of the things you must do to pay the bills.

I am a big fan of tools like Freedom that allow you to turn off contact with the outside world so you can give your proposal, calls and projects the time and consideration they need.  Additionally, find the blogs and discussion groups that add value to your day (like this one!), spend a few minutes with them and then move along.  Try not to get swept up into the online activities that are nothing more than distraction from the more difficult parts of your day.  Balance is important.

Now, I am going to grab a cup of coffee and flip the “do not disturb” sign.  Happy selling!

Just Because It Seems Simple To You…

I have this conversation on a regular basis, so I was happy to see this blog posting from Seth Godin this morning. Seth wrote:

“We think direct written and verbal communication is clear and accurate and efficient. It is none of those. If the data rate of an HDMI cable is 340MHz, I’m guessing that the data rate of a speech is far, far lower. Yes, there’s a huge amount of information communicated via your affect, your style and your confidence, but no, I don’t think humans are so good at getting all the details.

Plan on being misunderstood. Repeat yourself. When in doubt, repeat yourself.”

Most clients I encounter write and talk about their products or services as if everyone understands the features, benefits and values as well as they do. They assume that everyone knows as much about the industry as they do. So the copy of their websites, brochures and even newsletters are such that only an industry insider can understand.

Remember: Your audience needs information presented clearly and concisely. Your goal is to make your message as simple as possible and then rewrite it to make it even more simple.

Happy Selling

Facein or Linkedbook?

Facebook announced a new profile page this week. It allows you to highlight friends, and show off photos better. However, you also now have the ability to provide more detail about yourself in your profile such as your work history, current projects and projects you have worked on. It also includes a more in-depth section on your educational background. All of this makes me wonder: Is Facebook making a run at LinkedIn? All the parts are available for an online resume and professional networking – so is Facebook looking to be the place where you will search for your next job?

You can upgrade by going to www.facebook.com/about/profile

Happy Selling!

Good Ol’ Days

One year, my parents bought me a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey for Christmas. It was awesome. Our public school had an outdoor rink and I would wear that jersey and skate for hours – pretending to be Darryl Sittler taking on the dreaded Bobby Clarke. Sometimes other kids from the neighborhood joined me on the ice – sometimes I skated alone. While heading to a client appointment today, my mind was flooded with this memory and with it came a touch of happiness.

Was this flood of nostalgic memories brought on by seeing some kids playing hockey? Nope. It was brought on by my cup of Tim Horton’s coffee. It is wintertime – and each year Tim Horton’s changes up their to-go cups from the classic brown to include scenes of wintery togetherness. Invoking emotions from childhood can be a powerful tools for marketers. If you can successfully connect your product to positive, rich childhood memories – you will see your sales take off.

Remember when Volkswagen relaunched the Beetle? Dealers had waiting lists of people who happily put down deposits to buy them because of the strong memories of these great cars. Those memories seem to gloss over the facts that they were horrible in the snow, had lousy heaters and brakes that required you to pre-plan upcoming stops.

Tying your service or product to the “Good Old Days” and nostalgia – when done right – will reward your organization with warm feelings and a premium price. If you miss the mark or change the product so it doesn’t invoke the same feelings, be prepared to be punished by the consumer. Using nostalgia in your marketing has a high risk reward attached to it so if you decide to use it, make sure to do your homework.

Now, I am off to see if I can find my skates and take my sons out to make some memories of their own.

Happy Sellng!

The Compound Effect

I spoke last week with a new business owner. He wants to grow his business 500% percent in this upcoming year to become bigger than his competitors. One of his competitors (he cited) experienced an overnight success that he wants to emulate. Another competitor had an overnight success that took 8 years of hard work and another took 10 years. I realized about ten minutes into our conversation that this is not a company I want to work with – not because he didn’t have money – but because he has unrealistic expectations. He is looking for that magic bullet to turn his business into an industry leader in just a few months.

This conversation was not a unique experience for me – I hear of the quest for overnight success regularly. I guess that is why there are so many books and programs that claim to turn your business around instantly or give you the secret to earning piles of money while working only four hours a week. These books and programs are often written by self-proclaimed experts who – for a small monthly fee – will share their wisdom. I have to admit, I often stay away from the self-help material because I have lumped a lot of that stuff in the same category. Useless.

The other day, however, I came across Darren Hardy’s new book called The Compound Effect. I recognized Darren’s name, as he is the publisher of Success Magazine. I downloaded a sample chapter to my Kindle to see what it was like. I quickly downloaded the rest of the book. Unlike the flood of “get rich quick” books, this book is a testament to taking control of your day and your activities while developing a disciplined approach to your life and business. A far cry from the “overnight success” bunch.

Darren describes the Compound Effect as: “…the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. Success is earned in the moment to moment decisions that in themselves make no visible difference whatsoever, but the accumulated compounding effect is profound.”

Applying the Compound Effect principal to your sales and marketing strategies requires patience. Most new marketing or sales strategy and tactics done today won’t provide immediate results. Calling all of your former customers right now will not turn around your business overnight. In fact, you are not likely to see a difference today – or even this week – but if you start creating daily sales and marketing disciplines, over time you will produce.

The key is found in adding small changes to your day that might be hardly noticeable. Perhaps you add 3 calls to former clients or 1 new prospecting call per day. Neither of these things on their own are hugely significant, but if you stick to it – day in and day out – you will see big changes happen. I highly recommend The Compound Effect. Thanks, Darren!