Sell More by Giving Things Away

September 25th, 2018

Sell More by Giving Things AwayThe most powerful four-letter word in sales and marketing is “free.” Everybody loves getting something for nothing. And giving things away can be an extremely powerful sales tactic. Two stories that were recently shared by participants at a couple of my training seminars illustrate how to capitalize on this principle.

The first example was related by an attendee who drove to the seminar with two of his colleagues. On their way to the seminar that morning, they found themselves, at one point, stuck in traffic next to a Snapple delivery truck. They jokingly called out to the driver, who was unloading the truck to make a delivery, “Hey, how about some free cases of Snapple?”

“Sorry,” the driver responded, “I can’t do that.” “But,” he continued, “I can give you three bottles.” He quickly handed three bottles of Snapple to the stunned occupants of the car, smiled, and walked inside the building to finish his delivery.

The result? As the attendee told the rest of the audience, “I’m going to buy a lot more Snapple from now on!” Three bottles of Snapple cost the distributor about a dollar. For a miniscule investment, that driver created three customers for life, not to mention the positive word-of-mouth they’ve been generating. That’s selling.

The second story was reported by the friend of a pet shop owner. She said that he put up a huge sign reading “Free Puppies.” Naturally, when people pick out their “free” puppy, they have to purchase puppy food, a puppy bed, food and water dishes, treats, toys, leashes, and more.

Customers typically spend more than a hundred dollars to outfit their new pet, not to mention how much they spend on return visits. He may be giving away puppies, but he’s selling the accessories like crazy. It’s akin to companies giving away razors and making their money selling the blades.

However, the story goes further: The pet store owner also has relationships with a veterinarian, a fencing contractor, an obedience school, and a cleaning service. In an example of symbiotic marketing, each refers the other and helps up-sell the customer: the vet recommends premium dog food, the obedience school recommends more frequent house cleanings during shedding season. And it all starts by giving away a puppy.

What can you give away to prospects and customers to stimulate your sales?

Eleven Ways to Boost Your Presentation Skills

September 18th, 2018

Eleven Ways to Boost Your Presentation SkillsWhether you’re a salesperson, executive, or business owner, presentation skills are vital to your success. But presentation skills are rarely taught in school, and too many companies don’t invest in such training for their people. Which means if you want to be a better presenter, you’re often on your own.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you hone your skills. Here are eleven options.

1. Read books
There are thousands of books on the subject of presentation skills, from beginner-level to advanced. Check out Amazon, your local book store, or your local library.

2. Check out articles, blog posts, and podcasts
As many books as there are, there are hundreds of times as many articles and podcasts—on every facet of speaking and presenting. Just search for the specific subtopic you’re most interested in. Oh, and hey, would you look at that? There are some posts right here on this site on the subject:

Six Ways NOT to Open a Presentation

Five Steps to Creating a Powerful Sales Presentation

Seven Sales Presentation Tips from Infomercials

Top Ten PowerPoint Mistakes Salespeople Make

Nine Tips for Crafting Better Sales Presentations

11 Ways to Close Your Next Presentation with Impact

3. Watch videos
There are also thousands of videos about presentation skills, with the bonus that many of them model the principle or tactic they discuss, so you can see it in action.

4. Audio record yourself
What we think we say is not necessarily what we actually say. And how we think we say it is not necessarily accurate either. Listening to a recording of yourself will enable you to hear how you really sound. And while it’s not fun, it will give you tremendous insights into your current strengths and weaknesses.

5. Video record yourself
Video recording will take your personal discomfort to the next level. Not only will you hear everything you’re doing wrong, you’ll see it too! (Don’t worry—even professional speakers have a tough time watching themselves on video. But we do it because it helps us get better.)

6. Practice in front of others
Ask your manager, colleagues, friends, or spouse to watch you and provide you with feedback, both positive and constructive. Ask them to be painfully honest.

7. Join Toastmasters
Toastmasters International is a worldwide non-profit organization that enables people from all walks of life to develop their presentation skills in a supportive environment at their own pace. With nearly 16,000 local clubs in 142 countries, there are almost certainly several clubs near you.

8. Take a public speaking class
Many community colleges and adult education programs offer classes in speaking and presenting. Whether it’s a single evening or several weeks, it’s a good—and cost-effective—use of your time.

9. Attend a presentation skills seminar
Seminars are typically more expensive than an adult ed course, but they usually offer more advanced insights and tactics.

10. Study other presenters
Thanks to this cool thing called “The Internet,” it’s possible to watch lots of other speakers, with a range of skill levels, delivering a wide variety of presentations. And you can learn something from each one of them.

11. Work with a speech coach
While it’s the most expensive option in the list, a speech coach can provide you with one-on-one attention and personally help you craft every element of a presentation. If the presentation is really important, a speech coach is a solid investment.

The power to be a better speaker is in your hands. Presentation skills are among the most valuable skills you can strengthen, and they will serve you in situations beyond sales calls. They will improve your commissions, your career, your image, and your impact.

By the way, if you’re a CEO or sales VP, consider bringing in an expert to train your sales team. The better their presentation skills, the more deals they’ll close for you.

How a Sandwich Can Transform Your Business

September 11th, 2018

How a Sandwich Can Transform Your BusinessLet’s say you own a restaurant. And let’s say on your menu you have a Reuben sandwich. The Reuben is a classic, which is why it’s on the menus of approximately 98.7% of all restaurants.

And therein lies the problem.

If I’m in the mood for a Reuben, I can go literally anywhere to get one. In any given city, I’m never more than twelve feet from a joint that serves a Reuben. So why should I choose your establishment?

Sure, you can claim you make the best Reuben in town. But nearly everyone makes the exact same claim.

You could go a step further and highlight that you make your own corned beef, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing in-house. But these days, lots of places do that as well. And a large percentage of the population either can’t tell the difference, or don’t care enough to go out of their way to seek out a restaurant that does that.

But what if you were to do something different?

What if you deviated from the standard corned beef, Swiss, kraut, and Russian (or Heaven-forbid, Thousand Island) dressing on rye?

What if you made a Reuben with three kinds of meat? Or three kinds of cheese? Or two meats and two cheeses? (Can you say “Bacon Double-Cheese Reuben?”) Or a spicy Reuben, with jalapenos and pepper jack cheese? Or an Italian Reuben with pesto and mozzarella?

That would be something I can’t get just anywhere. That would give me a reason to choose your restaurant over all my other options. That would be an incentive for me to seek you out and to take my friends there. (“You have got to try this sandwich!”)

It would even be something you could feature in your marketing and hang your hat on. (“Home of the “Ultra-Reuben”)

It would be different. It would be unique. It would make you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Now you probably don’t own a restaurant. But this idea applies to every industry. What’s your Reuben sandwich? What do you do that everyone else in your industry also does? And how could you do it differently? The answer could transform your business and radically boost your sales.

Oh, and if you do own a restaurant, and you create a sandwich like this, let me know, will you? I’d love to try it!

Honesty Is The Best (Sales) Policy

September 4th, 2018

Honesty Is The Best (Sales) PolicyRecently, a woman called me, stated that she was taking a survey and started to ask me questions. (Without asking for my permission, by the way.) After the third question, it was obvious where this “survey” was going, so I cut to the chase.

“Is this a sales call?” I asked.

“No sir. I’m just taking a survey.”

“What’s the point of this survey?”

“Well, it’s to see if you’re eligible for a service we have that lets you…”

“So this is a sales call.

“Well, not exactly.”

I hung up on her. Which is what I always do to salespeople who call me and refuse to be honest about their motives.

Because if you’re not honest enough to admit you’re making a sales call, how can I trust you with my business??!!

Top sales professionals, by contrast, understand that honesty is a powerful sales tactic, because it disarms our prospects. Being honest with the prospect is the first step to building trust.

Try this script when you’re making sales calls by phone:

“Hello, Ms. Smith? This is Mike Jones of Rogers & Co. This is a sales call. I need 90 seconds. Is this a convenient time?”

This script showcases your honesty, tells the prospect what their time commitment will be and asks their permission. These three elements together will dramatically improve your compliance. And there are lots of variations on this approach. Just be sure to incorporate all three elements.

If the prospect says it’s not a convenient time, ask what would be a better time. Call back at their stated time and whether you reach the person or their voice-mail, say, “You asked me to call you back at this time and I promised you I would.”

Honesty. Integrity. Professionalism. The hallmarks of a great salesperson. You.