Category Archives: Sales

Sales Letters: Focus, People! Focus!

We have all received sales letters that bore us to tears.  The writer goes on and on about themselves and/or their company’s wide range of products and services.  If we actually read these things all the way through, are we then motivated to buy anything?  Not really.

If your child is a little thirsty, you don’t blast him with a fire hose.  (Well, you shouldn’t, anyway.)  Same principal applies to sales letters.  If you know your customers are thirsty for something, you don’t need to blast them with everything you’ve got.  Give them a taste of what they are thirsting for, and they will come to you for more when they want more.

We discuss this concept in more detail here, and offer some tactical tips on how to focus your message so that each recipient feels you are speaking directly to him or her, with exactly what they are thirsting for.  We urge you to try some of these tips so that you don’t  overwhelm your audience, or bore them to the point of indifference.

One size does not fit all.  All sizes do not fit all, either.

— Lisa Dennis

Kick-off!

Whether your company is large or small, the impact of the Sales Team Annual Kick-off meeting is extremely important. It’s the time to layout the strategy for moving forward for the year.  See Lisa’s article in Mass High Tech.

All I Want for Christmas is… a customer-focused value proposition?

Some of you in reading this will question whether what I’m proposing is really a marketing responsibility or a sales responsibility. But the point is that the buying climate out there is forcing marketing and sellers to engage and partner more closely than ever before. It takes a village of marketing and salespeople to land and keep happy customers. Marketing has the power and expertise to lead the way on that journey.  So please read this and let me know what you think!

• Customer-focused value proposition that clearly states the prospect’s challenge or goal, your company’s specific offer to address it, and what differentiates your offer from available alternatives;

• Customer-focused benefits (not features) tailored to individual personas/titles of target prospects;

• List of key value drivers that guide the prospect’s decision process, quantified with verifiable proof (customer testimonials, case studies, or third party validation). Qualification tools make all the difference in streamlining the sales process and driving closeable opportunities into the pipeline. While it is sales’ job to qualify, there is a role for marketing to play in driving the process.

• Create a “Prospect Fit Index,” which provides an easy and consistent method for sales to determine whether a prospect is worth pursuing. The index should outline what is a poor fit versus an optimal fit based on a set of 5–7 key criteria that describe the best and closable sales targets for your products or services. Any prospect can be quickly assessed or scored based on where they map across the index.

• Develop a lead measurement tool that allows both marketing and sales to score a lead to be able to assess the quality of leads coming in, and to determine which leads should be pursued versus nurtured until they are ready to go to sales.

Oh yes, there is more!  Click here to continue.

What Should a Good Customer Reference Say?

Many of your clients may be happy to provide a reference for you in writing, but are often at a loss of exactly what to say that would be meaningful.  Some of them might just tell you to write something yourself, and they will sign off on it.  As tempting as that may be, the most value that you get out of a customer reference is that it comes from the customer!

But that doesn’t mean you can’t help your customer along with the process.  Ask them to take a few moments to answer some pointed, open-ended questions about the work you did or the product you sold.

•    What immediate or long-term benefit(s) did our engagement provide?
•    What aspects of the service experience were memorable and why?
•    What aspects exceeded your expectations?
•    What was the impact on revenue gains or cost reductions?
•    Describe your customer experience in 3 words or less.
•    What did you learn from our working together?
•    Would you work with us again and why?

Ask permission to use some of their answers as a reference for prospects.  Be sure to show the customer exactly how you are going to use their words, and in which media.

Customer references are some of the most precious assets your business has.  Don’t leave them on the table.  And once you have them, don’t squander them!

Click here to read more

8 Steps to Recovering “Lost” Customers

Because we’re so focused on generating new business, recovering old accounts is usually not a priority. But it’s a great revenue strategy to identify recovery targets and develop an action plan to go get them. Here are some steps to get you started:

1.  Research your customer database for all customers that have not done business with you for one year or more.

2.  Segment the list into groups of one year, two years, three-plus – and then sort by sales territory.

3.  Review each list with customer service and the territory sales rep to see if they have any intelligence on why the customer left.

4.  Check in with other key personnel who have been with your company for a while and have had customer contact, to see if there is any anecdotal information.

5.  Categorize the reasons for leaving and work with marketing to construct tailored messages for the major categories.

6.  Create a multi-touch field campaign to start to re-engage – holding out those you know had a service issue.  The goal is to get agreement for a preliminary live conversation with a sales rep.

7.  Do NOT try to sell them anything in the first live meeting. This is only step one in earning back their business.

8.  For service-issue customers, re-engagement requires a personal touch. Determine what the nature of the issue was, and what you can offer them now that might be worth reconsidering you as a vendor.

For this to work, you need patience and consistency. So make Customer Recovery a key aspect of every monthly sales meeting. Track and report on the process of recovery for each of the identified targets and make sure everyone in the company knows what is happening, and when you win them back or why you didn’t.

Click here to continue

Customers: Lost & Found

This is why you think the customers that you have lost have stopped doing business with you:

•    Can’t compete on price
•    Key contact left the company
•    Bad customer experience
•    Ummm… don’t know why

In reality, here are some real reasons they gave as to why they stopped doing business with you:

•    Vendor stopped calling us
•    Didn’t grow with us
•    Unwilling to be creative
•    Only heard from them at renewal time
•    Unresolved bad customer experience
•    Someone else wanted the business more

The differences between these two sets of reasons point to a key communication gap. A typical scenario: Former Customer says,“I never hear from them, and someone else appeared who took more time with us. So we went with a new outfit.”

When asked if they would consider doing business with their old vendor again, Former Customer said he would certainly consider it, but wasn’t sure that his business was important to them. This should be an “a-ha!” moment for the old vendor.

So think about it: what if you could recover 10-20 percent of your lost customers? It would likely have a significant revenue impact for you not only this year, but in future years.  It’s not always comfortable to reach out to former customers, especially if they were disgruntled.  But you may find it well worth your time to reconnect, and this time, LISTEN to them.  Addressing their issues might be easier than you think.

Click here to read more.

— Lisa Dennis

Qualified Deals: do you have any??

Qualified Deals: do you have any?? Answer these questions and find out.

• What is the business pain the prospect is experiencing – in their language?
• How is the project need defined by the prospect and can we address it?
• Does the project have both a name and a budget?
• What is the time frame for a decision AND for a completed implementation?
• Who are the members and their roles on the decision making team?
• What are the criteria for each member of the decision making team?
• When do they expect a completed proposal?
• Who else are they talking to and how likely is it that we will make the shortlist?

http://ow.ly/6AOkc

Who Cares if Prospects “Fit?” You Should!

Over the past several years, most of us would say that any prospect with a pulse is a good prospect. But the reality is there are a number of other criteria that actually determine who is the best target. The stronger the fit of the prospect, the better chances you have to turn them into a profitable customer.

Given that the most limited resource you have is time – a random approach to working your sales territories has the potential to leave a lot of unclaimed revenue on the table.  Not to mention your valuable time, blowing around like leaves in the autumn wind.

Over the years, we have preached the importance of “doing your homework.”  This is not just a cute tagline; this is a serious strategy for everyone who needs to make sales.  In archery, hitting a target is a lot easier and more productive if you are aiming at the right target, and within reasonable shooting distance from it.  If that same archer was blindfolded, and spun around a few times before shooting, how many bulls-eyes would he hit?  How many times would he even hit the target?

Doing your homework, especially regarding your target prospects, will help you aim and focus on the right target, to increase your chances of a hit on each shot you take.  This is just smart business.

Please read my article on Creating a ‘Customer Fit Index’ for your Sales Territory” for some ideas on how to focus on the right targets.

— Lisa Dennis

Customer Fit: Do You Know What You Are Seeking?

You’re looking for more business.  The bad news is, so is everyone else in the world.  the good news is, you have a plan.  At least you will after reading this.

Evaluate the makeup of your best customers.  Things to consider:

  • market position
  • revenue size of organization
  • number of employees
  • market type
  • technology platform
  • competitive strategy
  • core business challenge
  • opportunity size
  • core product penetration
  • level of support needed
  • referral or reference potential
  • industry fit.

What common factors do they share?  What trends do you see emerging?

Develop your own set of custom criteria, get internal buy-in for the list, and prioritize by overall value to your business.  Go do this!  Now!

— Lisa Dennis

Creating a ‘customer fit index’ for your sales territory

Knowledgence’s president, Lisa Dennis, has a strategic & tactical article for salespeople in Mass High Tech http://ow.ly/65Ozd

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