Ten Things You Can Do to Boost Your Sales in the Coming Year

December 30th, 2009

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to increase your sales, here are ten specific actions you can take right away to make that happen. Whether you’re a salesperson, professional, sales manager or CEO, each of these tactics can be implemented quickly and easily.

1. Start a blog
Being perceived as an expert can help you make the sale over your competitors. And one of the fastest, easiest ways to increase your perceived expertise is have your own blog. You can share tips, resources, case studies and more, while also mentioning new products, services and special offers. Not sure where to begin? Read Top Ten Easy Steps to Starting a Business Blog by Denise Wakeman and check out this fantastic step-by-step video tutorial at becomeablogger.com.

2. Join LinkedIn groups
One of the most powerful features of LinkedIn is the ability to join groups. There are more than 100,000 groups, some with thousands of members. You can join up to 50 groups. Once you’re a group member, you can start and participate in discussions, submit news articles (including your blog posts) and post job openings. There are three types of groups you should join first: sales-related groups, groups related to your industry and the groups your target prospects belong to.

3. Go network
Social media hasn’t replaced traditional networking. Meeting people face-to-face is still—and always will be—important. So get out there and meet some people! Figure out where your best prospects go and attend those events. Regularly. Want some great networking tactics? Take a look at this article: Networking: Your Most Valuable Prospecting Tool.

4. Create a Facebook fan page
You can create a fan page for yourself, your company or for any individual product or service in your line. The bonus is, once your “friends” become “fans”, Facebook will automatically suggest to their friends that they become a fan of your page.

5. Ask for referrals
Too many salespeople never even ask for referrals. They’re afraid of rejection or they don’t want to be perceived as intrusive. But if you’ve taken good care of your customers and they’re happy with your product or service, they want to refer you. You just have to ask.

6. Create a new product or service
Innovation drives sales. What else might your customers want? How else could you serve them? How could you improve, upgrade, shrink, expand, combine or repackage your existing offerings?

7. Leverage Twitter
More people are getting on Twitter every day. If you’re not using it—or not using it effectively—now’s the time to start. There are tons of Twitter tutorials, tips and tricks online. Do a Google search and go from there.

8. Attend a sales training seminar
If you truly want to sell more, you need to be better at selling. Which means you need to learn new skills, approaches and tactics, as well as refresh yourself on those you used to know but have forgotten about. Investing in some current, relevant sales training will pay you massive dividends immediately.

9. Post a video on YouTube
Shoot a video of your product or service in action. Or make a short how-to video. It doesn’t need to be professionally shot, produced or edited. These days, raw, unedited video actually carries more credibility with viewers than professional efforts.

10. Join a leads group
Can you imagine if 20 to 30 people were out there looking for new prospects for you every week? That’s essentially what a leads group does. The members prospect for each other and share leads once a week. Want more details? Check out this article: Should You Use a Leads Group for Prospecting?

Here’s to a wildly successful year!

The First Christmas in Tweets

December 25th, 2009

By Don Cooper

How would the birth of Jesus have been recorded if Joseph had had access to Twitter? (Okay, this has absolutely nothing to do with sales. On the other hand, Jesus—at the time—was considered a heretic by many. So there’s that. Enjoy!)

josephofnazareth Heading to Bethlehem for the #census. Stupid Romans!
3 days ago

josephofnazareth Long walk. @virginmary keeps complaining about her feet. Told her b4 we left not to wear heels.
2 days ago

josephofnazareth Wish there was a Waffle House around here.
2 days ago

josephofnazareth Old people walking too slowly in the passing lane. There oughta be a law.
1 day ago

josephofnazareth @virginmary needs pickles. Again.
1 day ago

josephofnazareth Anybody planning a #tweetup in #Bethlehem?
16 hours ago

josephofnazareth Inn doesn’t have our reservation. Aagh!
12 hours ago

josephofnazareth Never booking online again. Next time using a travel agent.
12 hours ago

josephofnazareth Every hotel fully booked. Its like spring break around here. w/o all the hot chicks. Not sure where we’re gonna stay.
11 hours ago

josephofnazareth Help us out Tweeps! Anybody know a place we can crash?
11 hours ago

josephofnazareth Looks like it’s the manger for us.   ;-(
9 hours ago

josephofnazareth Woman in stable next door just gave birth to a boy named Brian.
8 hours ago

josephofnazareth You know what would spruce this place up? A tree w/ some lights & stuff on it.
7 hours ago

josephofnazareth @virginmary’s going into labor!
6 hours ago

josephofnazareth I keep telling her to breathe. She keeps screaming at me to get her some painkillers.
4 hours ago

josephofnazareth where’s an ob/gyn when u need one?
2 hours ago

josephofnazareth It’s a boy!
1 hour ago

josephofnazareth Wanted to name him Thelonius, but @virginmary insisted on Jesus.
44 minutes ago

josephofnazareth I could sure go for some chinese food right about now.
39 minutes ago

josephofnazareth What’s with all the shepherds? Is there a convention in town or something?
34 minutes ago

JudeaNewsNetwork Savior born in Bethlehem. Much rejoicing.
1 hour ago
Retweeted by josephofnazareth and 57 others

josephofnazareth Man that star is bright!
31 minutes ago

josephofnazareth 3 guys dropped by w/ gold, frankincense & myrrh. Thx @wisemen!
26 minutes ago

josephofnazareth Frankincense sure helps w/ the smell in the stable. No idea what we’re gonna do w/ the myrrh.
12 minutes ago

josephofnazareth Thx! RT @kingherod: Congrats @josephofnazareth! Can’t wait to meet the little guy!
7 minutes ago

josephofnazareth Some kid’s playing his drum for us. Not bad, but I can only handle so many drum solos.
4 minutes ago

josephofnazareth Thx for the RT’s & #FF’s! @matthew @mark @luke @john
1 minute ago

josephofnazareth Wonder if we can return the myrrh w/o a receipt?
30 seconds ago

A Gift for You and Your Sales

December 23rd, 2009

It’s Christmastime and I have a gift for you. (If you’re Jewish, please think of it as a Hanukkah present. If you’re Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Shintoist, Wiccan, agnostic, atheist or anything else, please consider this a gift for no particular reason other than I want to help you boost your sales.)

Your gift is a special report I’ve written: Ten Ways to Increase Your Sales Right Now. In this 9-page report, you’ll discover:
   • Three different ways to leverage your existing customers
   • How to dramatically improve the effectiveness of cold calls
   • Secrets to getting free publicity
   • The tactic big companies are using that you can use just as well
   • A simple strategy that can boost your stock price, dividend and profit margin
   • And much more!

Just click here and you’ll be taken to the page where you can download the pdf file. There’s no cost, no obligation, no strings at all. You don’t even have to give me your e-mail address. It’s simply a present from me to you.

By the way, in this case, regifting is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged!

Enjoy!

Ten Ways to Deal with Anger

December 21st, 2009

Ten Ways to Deal with AngerIn my last post, I discussed the first thing you should do when you get angry: to recognize that it’s natural, but it isn’t helpful. (In sales or in any other part of life.) Once you’ve reminded yourself of that fundamental truth, though, what do you do next?

There’s no single answer, because what works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. So here are ten actions you can take to help you calm down and refocus.

1. Go for a walk
Going for a walk does two things for you. First, it gets you away from the problem, which by itself is often helpful. And second, the exercise increases blood flow and oxygen delivery, alleviating some of the stress.

2. Talk with someone
Having someone to vent to can enable you get some of the anger and frustration out of your system. As a bonus, the person you’re talking to may be able to help you come up with a solution to your problem.

3. Eat or drink something
Chocolate is a proven mood elevator. A soda or your favorite coffee concoction is a convenient and pleasurable distraction. I’m not saying you should wolf down an entire carrot cake or drain half a bottle of bourbon, but a quick snack or beverage can dramatically boost your physical and mental state.

4. Meditate
Many practitioners swear by meditation. (I tend to swear while meditating. I’ll have to work on that.) If you haven’t tried it, read up on it and give it a shot. It’s a proven relaxation technique.

5. Listen to music
There’s nothing like your favorite music to quickly change your emotional state. Keep some good music (and if necessary, headphones) nearby at all times. If it helps, crank it up to eleven.

6. Journal
Some people find writing down their thoughts and feelings in a journal helps them process and has a powerful calming effect.

7. Play
As any good psychologist will tell you, play can be very therapeutic. So unleash your inner child. Spend a few minutes doing a puzzle, playing a video game or fooling around with a yo-yo or some other toy. (Sometimes when I’m stressed, I’ll juggle. It’s really hard to be angry when you’re juggling.)

8. Look at photos
It may sound corny, but looking at photos of people you love can shift your focus, bring forward some happy memories and trigger the release of endorphins, all of which can reduce your stress.

9. Read quotations
Keep your favorite motivational quotes handy. When you get angry or frustrated, let someone else’s words calm you, inspire you and remind you of what’s really important.

10. Brainstorm
For some people, there’s no better way to cope than to deal directly with the problem that’s causing the anger in the first place. Grab pen and paper—or your computer—and start brainstorming possible solutions to the issue at hand.

You can’t sell effectively when you’re angry. You also can’t deal well with customers, employees or family members when you’re angry. (In fact, when we speak or act in anger, we often make things worse.) So the next time you feel anger rising within you, try one or more of these tactics to alleviate it. Once you’re calm and relaxed, you’ll be much more effective.

Anger Management and Sales Management

December 17th, 2009

Anger Management and Sales ManagementI was reading an interview with chef Brian Laird of Denver’s Barolo Grill, in which he said something very revealing. When asked to relate the hardest lesson he’s learned, Laird replied:

“My temper and stubbornness is never going to solve problems. I used to be really hot-headed about things, to the point where I’d jump up and down and yell and scream, just to prove my point, but at the end of the night, it’s just food, right?”

Right.

Keeping one’s cool can be a challenge at times. We all get angry occasionally, and more frequently in times of stress, like say, a recession, the holidays or the end of any month when you’re behind quota.

When I feel anger bubbling up in me (which occurs more frequently than I care to admit), I take a lesson from—of all things—a Star Trek novel. (I admit it: Star Trek books are one of my guilty pleasures.) Specifically, The Pandora Principle, by Carolyn Clowes.

The novel tells the back story of Spock’s Vulcan protégé, Lt. Saavik, featured in the movies Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In one scene in the book, Spock coaches a young, frustrated Saavik:

“I believe that you have a great deal to be angry about. I do not dispute your right to the emotion, only its usefulness to you. When one is angry, one does not see all the possibilities.”

There’s a lot of truth in those words of wisdom. Science has discovered that anger does in fact cause parts of the brain to shut down, preventing us from thinking and acting intelligently. Which means the first step we must take when we’re angry is to remind ourselves of how useless the emotion is. That can make it easier to calm down. Once our anger has dissipated a bit, we can focus our energies on dealing with the situation in a rational (or as Spock would say, “logical”) way.

So the next time a sale falls through, or your manager yells at you, or you have a problem with one of your salespeople, remember that anger is a natural, understandable response. And the sooner you clear your head of it, the better off you’ll be.

Top Ten Presentation Mistakes Salespeople Make

December 11th, 2009

Presentation Mistakes Salespeople Make

A great sales presentation grabs your prospect’s attention, holds their interest and makes them want to buy now. A poor presentation costs you the sale. Whether you’re selling to consumers or businesses, avoid these sales-killing mistakes.

1. Being unprepared
Not fully knowing your product, your presentation or your prospect will lose you the sale every time. If you’re not prepared, reschedule the presentation.

2. Ignoring important people
This is one of the biggest complaints of women. (“The salesperson spoke to my husband, not to me.”) Whenever you present to more than one person, you never know who holds the real power. Treat everyone with equal importance.

Unreadable sales slide3. Unreadable slides
Slides that are so packed with data or text that the audience can’t read them are worse than worthless—they cause prospects to question your competence and professionalism. Follow the 6×6 rule: no more than 6 lines on a slide, no more than 6 words on a line.

4. Too long, too technical, too many details
If you lose your prospect’s attention, nothing you say will matter. Give them the minimum amount of information they need to understand the case you’re making. Let them know you have more information available if they’d like it.

5. Talking down to prospects
Some salespeople treat presentations as opportunities to show off how smart they. You may in fact know more than your prospects, but lording it over them will alienate them, not impress them.

6. Reading slides with back to audience
What are you, a narrator or a salesperson? You can’t have a conversation with a projector screen. Place your laptop so you can see its screen and use that as your prompter. Keep in mind, your slides should be talking points, not endless lines of text. (See point #3.)

7. Lack of enthusiasm
If you’re not excited about your product or service, why should your prospect be? Remember, enthusiasm is contagious.

8. Answering questions with questions
This is a stupid tactic that amazingly is still taught in many sales training seminars. The prospect asks, “Can we get it in blue?” and the salesperson is taught to respond, “Do you want it in blue?” Of course they want it in blue! This tactic annoys prospects and makes them feel they’re being manipulated. When someone asks you a direct question, give them a direct answer.

9. No call to action
If you’re not going to ask for the sale, what’s the point of making the presentation?

10. All about the seller, not about the buyer
I once watched a CEO walk out of a sales presentation ten minutes after it began. The salespeople blew their chance by spending the first part of their presentation talking about their company’s history, philosophy, mission statement, etc. Guess what? Nobody cares! Instead, focus your presentation on your prospect: their issues, challenges, opportunities, needs, desires, concerns, values, priorities, etc. Everything you say about your product or service needs to tie directly back to one or more of these things. The most important thing to your prospect is themselves. Show them they’re the most important thing to you as well.

Print this list out and consult it before your next sales presentation. Be sure it’s free of these common errors and your odds of making the sale will greatly improve.

Eight Quick Holiday Networking Tips

December 7th, 2009

The holiday party season is upon us, which means more networking events—both social and business—than usual. To make the most of your networking opportunities—and avoid some of the most common mistakes—follow these tips.

1. Bring Plenty of Business Cards
Remember the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. Even when you’re going to a purely social event. You never know when you’ll meet someone who could potentially be a prospect, a referral source or an alliance partner.

2. Ask Questions
Obnoxious, self-centered people talk all about themselves. Savvy networkers focus the conversation on the other person by asking questions. Asking questions demonstrates you’re interested in the other person and gives you an opportunity to learn valuable information. And everyone appreciates a good listener!

3. Split Up
If you’re attending an event with your spouse, partner or colleague, don’t stay attached at the hip. Splitting up gives you the opportunity to meet twice as many people.

4. Hang Out by the Food
Stationing yourself near the food is a great strategy for meeting people. Everyone’s going to come by there at some point and you have an easy conversation starter. Just remember not to talk with your mouth full.

5. End Conversations Gracefully
You don’t want to spend the entire evening talking with one person. But how do you end a conversation without appearing like you’re giving someone the brush-off? Simply acknowledge the obvious. After all, you’re both there to meet people. So say something along the lines of, “It was great to meet you. I should probably let you get around and meet some other people.”

6. Don’t Get Drunk
Being inebriated does not enhance your professional reputation. Even if the event is a purely social one, watch your alcohol intake and know when to cut yourself off.

7. Don’t Sell
It may seem odd that in a sales blog I’m telling you not to sell. But a networking event is the wrong time and place to actively sell. Networking is about meeting people and starting relationships. The connections you make may lead to sales, but that will happen over time, not right there at the event. (If you mention what you do and the person you’re talking to says, “Wow! I really need that!” then all bets are off.)

8. Follow Up
Most people will forget you within 72 hours. (Not just you—everyone.) So it’s critical to follow up after the event. Send them a postcard, shoot them an e-mail or invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn or another social network.

The holidays are a great time to expand your personal and business networks. Both of which can help you boost your sales down the road. Relax, have fun and remember that sometimes business and pleasure do mix.

Radio Interview: Up-Selling & Cross-Selling

December 2nd, 2009

Listen to my latest interview with Jim Blasingame on the Small Business Advocate Show.