Infocusselling’s Blog

October 14, 2010

Today I am a Beaver

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 7:50 am
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Think about the beaver and its dam.

The beaver is strategic, analyzing every day the holes in its house and recognizing weaknesses and areas that can be built larger and stronger. The beaver is tactical by by immediately going to the woods and finding the solution to strengthen and grow its house. The beaver is fearless as it attacks big projects, trees that are thousands of times its size. The beaver is skillful at knowing how to fell a tree, get it to the river upstream so it floats to the dam, and then positions it into the right place in its house to add the needed support and safety. The beaver is hard working, waking up every day and repeating the core processes again to protect and improve its future. (although, as people we get vacations where we pre-plan to take time away from work to recharge.)

What part of your sales strategy, tactics, and fearless attack do you need to do today?


April 16, 2010

Week of April 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 3:04 pm

Monday AM:  S is for Secure Final Commitment

Tuesday AM: Wrap up, send me what YOU want to talk about

Tuesday PM: Communication Does Not Mean Talking

7. In talking with your prospect, you discover she is new in the position and is unaware about the past, as well as immediate or future needs. You should:

___ Ask “Who else is involved in making this decision?”

___ Ask “What time frame will you be considering for making a decision?”

___ Ask questions to discover if she has met with your competition or other vendors with similar products or services.

___ Offer to partner with her and assist her in gaining knowledge at a more rapid pace.

25. During your presentation, you understand there are others involved in the buying decision. You should:

___ Ask what role they are going to play.

___ Ask your prospect what influence she has on the other people.

___ Attempt to see all of the others.

___ Present your product and make an appointment to come back to meet with the others.

April 9, 2010

Week of April 12 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 7:55 am

Monday AM: No class; either come Tuesday or next week

Tuesday AM : S is for Secure Final Commitment

Tuesday PM class: Becoming a People Person

34. The more competition a product has, the more a salesperson needs to:

___ Expand product knowledge.

___ Work harder.

___ Master selling skills.

___ Network with existing customers.

38. When a prospect asks a question to which you don’t know the answer, you should:

___ Admit that you don’t know the answer but will get it.

___ Call someone who knows the answer.

___ Review your literature to find the answer.

___ Ask the prospect how important knowing that answer is to the purchasing process.

67. The most up-to-date way to stay abreast of your industry is to:

___ Read relevant industrial publications.

___ Listen to co-workers.

___ Play an active role in industry events.

___ Rely on rumors.

March 22, 2010

Training Your Customers vs. Serving Your Customers

Filed under: ACTUM Group,INFOCUSSELLING BLOG,Other Sales Issues — Educated and Aware @ 8:29 pm

          “We only deliver on Tuesday and Thursday.” As the company owner said it to me, I had to use all of my poker playing skills not to let shock take over my face. This wasn’t the milkman, fuel oil company, or a transatlantic container shipper, this was a B2B service in a highly competitive localized market with literally over 100 competitors within 20 miles. “We decided it was easier for us so we tell our customers our delivery days are Tuesdays and Thursdays. If someone wants it Wednesday, we tell them it will be Tuesday or Thursday.”

          I’m all for training customers on the value of pulling off incredible feats and why such activity is worth a higher price, but I was at a loss for how to respond to such a clear disregard for customer service in an industry currently operating at less than 50% capacity.

          Training your customers is the process of reaching a mutual understanding and agreement on how you will conduct business with each other including pricing, lead time, quantity, frequency, and payment terms. If someone wants to buy more, they rightfully expect to pay less per unit. If someone wants extended terms, it is not uncommon to charge a slightly higher price. But what happens when the seller says flatly, “We won’t give you what you want?”

          According to this owner, there hasn’t been a significant backlash. I would say there hasn’t been a significant backlash yet. When customers need something and call their normal supplier, they may accept the adjusted service level. Until, that is,  a competitors walks in their door and using proper selling skills asks, “What one thing would you like to change about your current supplier?” only to hear, “Well, they only deliver on Tuesdays and Thursdays and sometimes we need it on Monday.” At that point, it is only a matter of time before the current supplier loses a client and the competitor gains one.

          Are you training your customers and serving your customers or are you training your customer to find a new supplier? When was the last time you actually looked at your company from a customer perspective and asked if, “I knew nothing about the industry, what could we do better?” Or, when was the last time you sat in front of your best 20 customers and asked them point blank what you could do better?

          I am all for charging as much as possible for performing better than your competition. I’m also in favor of you staying in business by providing better total value proposition than your competition. If you haven’t asked your clients how to improve in the past three months, your homework for this week is to get out and ask them. Sooner or later, either I or one of my competitors will be working with your competitor. When that happens, we will find out what you aren’t doing right and it’s only a matter of time before your client base shrinks one by one.

February 24, 2010

Questions for week of March 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 11:13 pm

Mon/Tues AM class: F is for Find a Goal  (p. 357)

Tues PM class: Chapter is Objections: Dealing, Managing, and Avoiding (p. 425).

Special request: Please go to and complete my survey for my doctorate class, I would appreciate it.

53. You ask the prospect, “Who else is involved in the buying decision?” The prospect states he is the sole decision maker. Later, when you ask the prospect to buy he insists that he must check with two other people. You should:

___ Ask the prospect why he initially told you he was capable of making the decision

by himself.

___ Secure permission to make a presentation to the decision makers.

___ Let your prospect meet independently with the other people to present your story.

___ Ask qualifying questions about the other people so you can formulate a

new strategy.

65. When making a phone contact with a prospect, the very first thing you should do is to:

___ Explain why you’re making the call.

___ Ask if they are free to talk at that time.

___ Tell them how great your product is.

___ Present price.

66. The easiest way for you to be seen as a consultative expert is to:

___ Ask strategic questions relative to prospect’s problems.

___ Have a memorized sales presentation.

___ Tell the prospect how good you are.

___ Stay abreast of industry trends.

February 14, 2010

Doctorate Study on Sales Practices

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 12:57 pm
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This is a study on sales practices being conducted as part of my doctorate program. We are collecting data from a wide set of people, including those in sales and those who are not in sales, on how they view various sales practices. If you would go to the link below and complete our survey, we (the authors and researchers) would greatly appreciate it.

Sales Practices Survey

Thanks in advance for your time and feel free to forward the survey to other friends and associates.

February 2, 2010

Differentiation Comes With a Price

Teaching a class the other day, the topic of advertising messages came up. Just for fun I counted the advertising messages in the room at that moment. Amazingly, I saw at least 126 different messages yelling at me in one 14×24 room with 15 people. That’s a lot of clutter. Then I read an article that stated our daily commutes are so much easier because fewer people are working. I assume their facts were correct that total employment is down but I started thinking about how many people I meet every week launching new businesses who are trying to make a new name in an already crowded market. Is it possible to stand out?

While prepping this article I typed “accounting firms in Indianapolis” in my search engine and got back 55,100 hits. I then tried “graphic designers in Indianapolis” and got back 584,000 hits. Ouch—way too many to fathom. I tried and found “only” 749 “Accountants—Certified Public” and 348 “Accounting Services” and 185 “Graphic Designers.” Even these lower numbers show each field overflowing with firms scrambling for the same client.

Google says each person is exposed to 400 to 5500 advertising messages per day (search on “how many advertising messages do I see a day”). Think about that. At 3000 which is in the middle of the range, assuming you sleep only 6 hours a day, you are hit with 167 messages per hour or 2.8 messages per second. No wonder cable television and satellite radio are so popular.

Advertising messages today must not simply cut through the clutter but completely erase it. Business has to make all the other messages irrelevant in the ears and eyes of its target. Doing so is not as difficult as it seems as long as you know:

1) what people buy from you and

2) who is most likely to buy it

 People never buy what you do; they buy the results or effects of what you do. People buy what you give them, not how you get them there. The tools you use are cool and fun to you because you like using them. If your client liked using your tools they wouldn’t be your client, they’d be your competitor. Too many people confuse process with outcome. To find out what people buy from you, ask them. Buy your clients a coffee or lunch and ask, “At the end of day, what are you really buying from me?” Listen carefully, take notes, and don’t reinterpret what is said. Their words need to become your words in your advertising message.

After you know what people buy, you can choose who is most likely to buy it. Is that contradictory to my second point? Not at all because the reality is you can choose your target market. Your target market is a function of your message which controls your branding. Your advertising message defines your target market by both word choice and focusing on results that are only of interest to your narrowly defined market. Are you adding to the clutter? Not when your message is poignantly more focused than the competition. When you define your market, really define it. Draw an indisputable border around it, and then own that market with a message that will make all other less focused competitors disappear in the fog of clutter.

Let’s look at two examples. Are you looking to buy or sell a home? There are thousands of realtors in central Indiana, all happy to help you. Nathan Phaler knows because he’s one of them. But Nathan would really like you to call him if you are interested in buying or selling a historic home in the Irvington or downtown Indianapolis area. Why? Because in the clutter of thousands of realtors, Nathan has decided to be “the” historic home realtor in his personal branding, his marketing, and his focus because he knows the market, he lives there, and he talks about his focus in his marketing.

Maybe you need accounting help. Earlier we read of hundreds of accountant types in the Indianapolis area. If you happen to be a horse farm or in the equine industry, then you are looking only for Jennifer Foster of Foster Results. Why? Because she has decided to be “the” accounting services firm for that market from Michigan to Kentucky. How? By declaring it, talking about it, focusing on it, calling on it, and being known in it.

Who will buy your product is a function of message and focus. After finding out what your market is really buying from you, the next step is to communicate consistently with that market in a manner that shows without any doubt that you are the only person focused on that market. When you target your message to your market using your clients’ words, your competitors’ messages will become the clutter, and yours will become the headline.

February 1, 2010

Customer Satisfaction – “Who are your customers?”

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG,Other Sales Issues — Educated and Aware @ 12:08 am
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by Jake Doll

This is a question that most business owners cannot answer in a definite way. Aren’t customers actually stockholders in a sense? When they buy your product or service they are investing in your business. And, if you do what you should, they keep coming back and buying more! Does a stockholder, in the normal legal sense, do it that easily? I don’t think so. The responsibility of creating this satisfaction rests with you, the business owner.

As owners of businesses, we get so involved in developing new customers that we overlook the ones we have. How many of us can segment our customer base into the categories of an Advocate, Apathetic or Assassin? Or segmenting into A, B or C customers? How much time do you spend engaging, building trust, and creating loyalty with your customers?

To create an Advocate or Promoter you must go beyond the expected level of service. They will go out of their way to tell people about you. And, they are fiercely loyal to a brand. Advocates can easily become your Raving Fans!

Apathetics or Passives are customers that feel you just meet their basic needs. They will not go out of their way to talk about you to others. They tend to remain loyal, but are susceptible to competitor advances. Most customers are in this group. The opportunity for you is to turn these customers into Advocates or Raving Fans.

Assassins or Detractors are easily created by making basic mistakes. These are created by a bad experience or product, and will aggressively seek out a competitor for the product or service. They will also go out of their way to tell others of their bad experience! Remember, bad news travels from ten to twenty more people than good news.

Most companies talk about the value of customer satisfaction, but do not invest in it. They do not train their employees to engage with the customer and create trust. Most employees are not allowed to make decisions that actually help the customer. Has anyone ever dealt with a telephone or cable company problem? Remember, your employees represent your brand!

Data has also shown that there is a direct correlation of Return on Investment (ROI) to Customer Satisfaction Initiative (CSI). Look at how Wal-Mart is doing in this recession. And a few years ago, Staples was losing their position in office supplies. They listened to their customers, made the changes in product and stores, and have recovered a top spot in office supplies.

Talk and interact with your customers on a regular basis. Find out what they like or dislike about things, not just your product or service. How do they buy, what stores do they like and why? Where do your customers live, work, their positions, etc.? Train your employees. Don’t over promise and under deliver – that creates Assassins!

According to McKinsey & Company, a national research firm, the current recession is changing the way people think about their buying practices. 90% of people are belt tightening at some level, with 33% doing it significantly. Main reasons for the belt tightening are 45% are forced to, and 55% are being cautious. The majority of people are paying down debt and saving more. The Personal-Savings Rate in March, 2009 was 5.7% of disposable income. The rate one year earlier was 0%! In post WWII it was 9%.

How will all of this affect acquiring and keeping customers, intensifying relationships, or improving service to the customer? These changes in your customer’s thinking will have an affect on your business activities, especially marketing and sales. Customer Satisfaction will become more critical in the future; will you be ready?

Sandol & Associates

Jake Doll is the Principal of Sandol, with over 40 years of experience helping business owners Discover, Change, and Grow while creating increased Value in their businesses. Whether your need is encouragement, advice, or an interim executive, Jake will help you create positive results. Learn more at

December 16, 2009

ACTUM Group Growing for 2010

Filed under: ACTUM Group — Educated and Aware @ 12:26 am
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ACTUM Group is launching into 2010 by adding strategic marketing and sales management professionals to our team. If you have business ownership or C-level background, are entrepreneurial, and have thought about coaching or consulting but don’t want to start without reputation, name recognition, or a referral base, let’s talk.

Outsourcing continues to be the best way to add high level skills to a company without incurring long term overhead. ACTUM is well positioned to continue to grow and we have some exciting plans for new directions. Team members must be comfortable having deep conversations with any level of employee, and must understand all facets of business with a specialty that fits our focus–strategic sales, sales training, sales management, or marketing management.

Call Jeff Bowe, Principal and Chief Sales Strategist at 317-508-6601 for a confidential discussion.

December 15, 2009

Nearly Free Workshop

Filed under: ACTUM Group,Other Sales Issues — Educated and Aware @ 10:49 pm
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Kim Brand & Jeff Bowe speak at Business Ownership Initiative:

Sales & Marketing 2010 (and Beyond)

How I wasted over $200,000 and three years on

ineffective marketing schemes and inept sales strategies

and why you don’t have to.”   Kim Brand, Co-Presenter.

“You can learn selling the hard way which is having

hundreds of prospects telling you no without telling

you why or you can learn it the easy way which is to

have someone give you the tactics and strategies that

lead to yes now. It’s your choice.”  Jeff Bowe, Co-Presenter.

What: Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) presents Sales & Marketing 2010 (and Beyond).

This four hour seminar will be conducted over two days and will be co-presented by Kim Brand, Serial Entrepreneur and President of Computer Experts and File Engine and Jeff Bowe, Chief Sales Strategist at ACTUM Group, a leading sales training and sales management company.

When: January 27-28th, 6-8PM each day.

Where: 4755 Kingsway Dr., Suite 314. (Near 46th & Keystone)

Why: You won’t get a better ‘reality check’ than to hear us talk about real world sales and marketing problems and solutions for small businesses from the perspective of an entrepreneur and sales pro.

Special Bonus: BOI normally charges $20 for this class…that’s cheap!  But everyone that attends will receive a $20 discount coupon from Computer Experts – your net cost is zero and your upside potential is huge and a free chapter from Jeff’s book, Get INFOCUS Get Cash!

You need to call now to register:  (317) 917-3266 ext. 100.

Space is limited, call today

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