Direct Mail Done Right

August 20th, 2019

Direct Mail Done RightRegular readers of this blog know that I like to point out egregious examples of bad sales and marketing efforts. Like this one. And this one. Oh, and let’s not forget this one.

But I like to highlight good examples as well. I recently received the above postcard in the mail from my realtor—and friend—Bob Gordon. It’s content marketing at its finest.

The postcard lists the top ten home remodeling projects based on the percentage of resale value to cost. It’s valuable information for any homeowner thinking about possible remodeling projects. And if you weren’t thinking about remodeling, this information could inspire you to. It’s a practical message delivered precisely to the target audience. And it positions Bob as a person who truly cares about his clients.

As a bonus, because it’s useful, this postcard is likely to be saved, probably in a prominent place where it will be seen frequently. And very possibly seen by people other than the recipients. That expands the reach and impact of the piece.

A lot of salespeople and marketers have given up on direct mail, because of its perceived cost and inefficiency. But direct mail is actually more effective now than it has been in years, because people get so much less of it than they used to. Postcards are particularly effective because—unlike envelopes and email—they don’t need to be opened to be read. And when you employ content marketing, you make your direct mail even more powerful.

So the question is, how could you combine content marketing and direct mail? What information do you have that your clients and prospects would find valuable? What content marketing have you used digitally—in emails, on your blog, on Facebook—that you could convert to physical form to reach entirely new audiences?

Perhaps now is the time for you to discover—or rediscover—direct mail marketing. When done right—that is, when combined with content—it can be a powerful tool for driving sales.

The Magic Customer Service Question

August 14th, 2019

The Magic Customer Service Question

I was hungry.

I had just checked in at the Sheraton hotel in Tampa, Florida, where I was conducting a sales training seminar the next day. Now, normally when I’m traveling, I like to get out of the hotel and find a good, local restaurant to eat at. But this evening, it was late and I was tired. So I simply ordered room service—a fish sandwich and fries. It was local fish and it was tasty.

When I called down later to have the tray picked up, the friendly woman on the other end of the phone asked the usual question: “How was everything?”

“Fine,” I replied.

That would normally be the end of the conversation. But then she asked me a question nobody had ever asked me before: “Is there anything we could have done better?”

That was a very different question. And it prompted me to give her more feedback.

“Well, since you asked….the fish was kind of small compared to the bun. There was a lot more bread than fish.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” she responded. “I’ll pass that on to the kitchen staff, because they’ll want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Thank you for letting me know. And I’m going to comp your meal for you.”

Whoa.

I hadn’t expected that. That’s customer service. I was stunned. And delighted. Not because I saved $20 on a meal. But because somebody really cared about my experience. She made me feel valued and important.

I have recounted that story—and given Sheraton tons of free publicity—in countless keynote speeches and workshops. I have made it a point to return to that Sheraton for seminars, and once I went there just for dinner. (It was fantastic, by the way.)

All because of the great experience I had there. And it wouldn’t have happened if the woman hadn’t asked what I now call “The Magic Customer Service Question.” Because that question elicited the information she needed to turn an ordinary situation into an extraordinary one.

Sales is service and service is sales. So if you want to improve your sales, you need to improve your service. And to do that, you need as much feedback as possible from your customers. Don’t settle for the standard question and the standard answer. Ask, “Is there anything we could have done better?” and use the information you get to improve your products, services, and customer experiences. Do that and your sales will flourish. Like magic.

19 Sales Tips from Influence ‘19

August 7th, 2019

19 Sales Tips from Influence ‘19After twenty years of going to “Influence”—the National Speakers Association’s annual conference—“Influence” finally came to me! That’s right, Influence 2019 was held in the city I happily call home: Denver, Colorado.

More than 1200 of the world’s top professional speakers and trainers came to Denver to admire the spectacular scenery and enjoy the beautiful weather. Oh yeah, and to meet people and learn some stuff.

Over the course of four days, seven general sessions, and dozens of breakouts, an incredible number of insights and ideas for business and personal success were shared. Here, in no particular order, are nineteen of the best:

1. “If you don’t value people, you can’t add value to people.”—John C. Maxwell @JohnCMaxwell
Delivering value is the core of business. Yet, to do that, you must value the people around you. That includes not only your customers, but your sales team, other employees, vendors, and others. How much do you value the people in your organization? How well do you express to them how much you value them?

2. “Listen to your clients and they will tell you what they will buy.”—Patricia Fripp @PFripp
Most salespeople talk way too much and listen way too little. Instead, ask good questions—lots of them—and listen carefully to the answers. If you ask enough of the right questions, your prospect will give you all the information you need to make the sale.

3. “Customer service is about kindness.”—Jia Jiang @JiaJiang
Kindness should be a core value for every organization. It’s something that literally everyone wants. And it’s not hard to be kind. But too many companies put policies in place that make it difficult or impossible for their people to be kind to customers. How kind are your customer service policies?

4. “What do you need to shed in order to transform?”—Kathy Dempsey @KeepShedding
Far too many of us—myself included—are carrying around beliefs, habits, fears, patterns, addictions, biases, and relationships that don’t serve us. All of these burdens slow us down, hinder us, and prevent us from achieving the success we want and deserve. What do you need to let go of?

5. “If your hand shakes, embrace the shake.”
Phil Hansen @Philinthecircle

Phil is an artist who suffered nerve damage to his hand and forearm, which prohibited him from working in his preferred style of pointillism. Instead of accepting defeat, he completely changed his approach to art and developed a version of pointillism uniquely his. Every weakness hides a strength. What do you perceive to be a weakness of your company or product? How could you turn that around into a strength?

6. “There are enough forces against you. Don’t be one of them.”—David Newman @dnewman
Most of us are our own worst enemies. How are you sabotaging your own success? How are you standing in your own way? And what are you willing to do about it? How can you instead become your own greatest ally, resource, and cheerleader?

7. “Don’t fake it till you make it, hone it until you own it!”—Robyn Hatcher @SpeakETC
I love it when someone smashes a cliché. Faking doesn’t work, either in the short-term or the long-term. It’s okay to acknowledge what you can’t do. In fact, it gives you credibility. Meanwhile, work on improving what you can do until you’re awesome at it. And then get better still!

8. “People want more of what they can have less of.”—Robert Cialdini @RobertCialdini
Scarcity is a powerful influence factor. People want what they can’t have. How can you employ scarcity in your business? How can you create a sense of exclusivity or exploit the fear of missing out? Limiting availability and opportunity can make a product or service much more desirable.

9. “While you’re waiting for permission, someone else is doing it.”—Carey Lohrenz @CareyLohrenz
We’re taught as children to always ask permission before acting, but in business, that can be a handicap. Often the difference between success and failure is simply taking action. Whether it’s dealing with a customer problem or launching a new product, waiting can be disastrous. Act now.

10. “Focus on your brand’s superfans.”—Shelita Burke @ShelitaBurke
Most of your customers like you. Some of them love you. And a few are absolutely crazy about you. They’re your superfans—your advocates, your cheerleaders, your evangelists. And they’re a tremendous marketing asset. Notice them, acknowledge them, and reward them.

11. “Play offense, not defense. In other words, focus on innovating and playing the game your way, not trying to mimic what your competition is doing.”—Scott McKain @scottmckain
If you try to do what everyone else is doing, you’ll always be a copy. And there will never be a compelling reason for a buyer to choose you. Instead, do something different. Anything. Be creative. Be bold. Be daring. That’s what sales leaders do.

12. “I teamed up with my biggest competitor and we offer a product together.”—Sylvie di Giusto @SylviediGiusto
Your competitors are not necessarily your enemies. They can be resources, allies, and even partners. You have different strengths and weaknesses. And it’s a big market. Who could you team up with to provide a product or service neither of you could offer on your own?

13. “How can I help? How can I serve? What can I do?”—Orlando Bowen @orlandobowen
As I wrote in a recent post, sales is service and service is sales. They’re two sides of the same coin. So if you want to boost your sales—whether you’re a salesperson, sales manager, or business owner—don’t ask “How can I sell more?” Ask these three questions instead.

14. “It’s not what you know, it’s how well you execute.”—Ford Saeks @fordsaeks
It’s often said that knowledge is power. But knowledge doesn’t mean much if it’s not put into action. You may know more than your competitor does, but what are you doing with that knowledge? It’s better to implement one idea well than to implement five ideas poorly. Or to have ten ideas but implement none.

15. “The tribes we choose matter.”—Anna Liotta @AnnaLiotta
Who you associate with influences who you are. Do the people you surround yourself with support, encourage, and challenge you? Or do they drag you down with their narrow-mindedness, jealousy, discouragement, and negativity? Toxic people will do everything in their power to prevent your success, while nurturing people will do everything in their power to help you attain it. Choose wisely.

16. “Discounting is the tax you pay for being average.”—John DiJulius @JohnDiJulius
If you aren’t amazing, spectacular, or somehow unique, then you’re a commodity. And when people buy commodities, they buy on price. Which means unless you’re better or different, you will always face pressure to discount. Because price is your only competitive advantage. So how could you be better or different?

17. “You risk a ‘yes’ every time you ask for something.”—Lois Creamer @loiscreamer
Children understand this concept inherently, but somehow when we become adults we forget it. Ask for things large and small because you just might get them. Ask for a meeting. Ask for the sale. Ask about add-on products and services. Ask for a raise. Ask for help. Ask for anything and everything you want.

18. “Growth is not for the fainthearted.”—Erik Weihenmayer @ErikWeihenmayer
Growth is a pain in the ass. It’s scary. It’s frustrating. It’s humbling. And yet, growth is absolutely essential for success in anything. Which means if you want to achieve your goals and dreams, you need to steel yourself for the difficult, traumatic journey that growth requires.

19. “Let me tell you something about Imposter Syndrome: Imposters don’t feel it.”—Dr. Bertice Berry @DrBerticeBerry
The most profound, insightful, brilliant statement I heard during the entire convention. (And in the closing keynote, no less.) Most of the professionals I know (including yours truly) have struggled with Imposter Syndrome—the feeling that you’re not good enough and it’s only a matter of time before people figure that out—at some point in their careers. But actual imposters know they’re faking it—and have no fear or guilt about it. Which means if you fear you’re not good enough, that’s proof that you really are.

For more insights and ideas from these amazing speakers, click on their names to visit their web sites or click on their handles to follow them on Twitter.

Need a great speaker for your next event? Check out the NSA website or your favorite speakers bureau. (Or just click here.)