Infocusselling’s Blog

September 27, 2009

Putting Our Mouth in front of Your Money

Filed under: ACTUM Group — Educated and Aware @ 4:23 pm
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23% Off is one thing. 23% In is quite another.

Our belief in our economy has been proven over the past year. We are clearly rebounding due to good old fashioned hard work. Some segments remain pretty tough but no industry has disappeared. As our economy turns around, those who plot the right course now will grow during this blip and come out geometrically stronger than their competition—some of whom will not make it out at all. To grow a business now means taking market share from the competition. It happens every day and you can be on the winning end or losing end—it’s your choice.

We believe in ourselves. We know the last thing people are doing right now is looking for places to spend money, regardless of how bad their sales trend is. But the bottom line is your sales skills have never been more important. The more competition you have, the more you have to out sell them. Our track record tells us that when our clients show up, pay attention, apply and integrate new behaviors and tactics, amazing things happen. We’re confident that record will continue.

We want to believe in you. We are looking for up to 20 sales people, teams or individuals, who want to be high earning sales professionals but right now are more like struggling sales workers. If you want to be a successful sales professional, or if you want your team to be successful, we’re willing to let you go 23% in and we’ll earn the rest. That’s right. You invest only 23% of our normal training fees, and we’ll get paid more only if we can change your sales results. Email us at jeffbowe@actumgroup.com to find out how to get started

I bet you and your team get paid for results, why shouldn’t your sales trainer?

September 21, 2009

The Myth of Busyness

Busyness is dangerous for business. I’ve heard repeatedly in the past 60 days that things have opened up. When so many businesses have gone as long as they have without being busy, this sudden surge seems overwhelming and distracting. Sales reps get bogged down, the now lean operations department gets stressed, and everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief that the worst is over. This is a big mistake. I’m about to spout some heresy so hang on.

It’s nearly October meaning we have only three months left to finish strong in 2009 and only three months to start feeding the 2010 pipeline. If you are experiencing a sudden uptick in business, that’s great and I’m happy for you. Now, work longer hours and keep selling. Forget about breathing easy and forget about smiling at how all your networking has paid off.

Right now you should be having two kinds of meetings: prospects who are prospects right now and prospects who are prospects for 2010. If someone is not a prospect, take them off your calendar. You don’t have time for fence sitters and wishy-washy people who “might do something” in a month or two, or who are “thinking it over” or who are “looking to see if it’s in the budget.”

Your time is incredibly valuable and you owe it to yourself and to your family to bring it home. Learn how to spot a true prospect from someone who has no chance of buying from you. Think about what those who became clients said during your meetings and compare it to what was said by those who never signed. As you meet new people, listen carefully and objectively but not optimistically. If you hear a fence-sitter, be polite but be specific. Find out if they are serious and if not, stop wasting time on them.

Before I get razzed for thrashing networking, I’m not saying that networking is not still part of the mix. It is, and you need to network. But networking meetings are different from prospect meetings in that networking meetings end with referrals and introductions. Prospect meetings end with either an order or a decision not to go forward. Either is fine; something in between is not.

You network to fill your calendar with prospect meetings. You meet prospects to fill your sales column. If someone does not fit either column, you’re too busy to meet and you need to focus on the sale right in front of you.

Click here for information on a nearly free workshop on Sales and Marketing in 2009 and Beyond sponsored by Business Ownership Initiative.

August 11, 2009

Selling Today is Simple

I made this comment while speaking at a Rainmakers event and I got some raised eyebrows from some very tired salespeople. I said that selling involves three simple steps, and I believe that to be true. Here are the three steps.

First, meet more people. By meet, I don’t mean LinkedIn or Facebook friends. I mean meet more people face to face. When you are growing a business, you are the brand whether you are the owner or a salesperson. You are the face and your face needs to be everywhere. The more people you meet, the more people will know you and your company, and the more people who will be prospects for your offering.

Second, meet with more people. By meet with, I mean face to face, one on one, in a location where you can have a serious discussion without interruptions. You cannot have the type of discussions you need to grow your business in a room full of people, or over the telephone, and definitely not via email. Get out of your office—and your comfort zone—and have sales appointments. Sales is a contact sport so get make contact with your prospects.

Third, have simple conversations with the people you meet. Too many business owners and sales people talk about their business using techno-jargon that doesn’t mean anything to the prospect. Forget terms that mean something only to an expert like you. You must be able to break your business down to a simple result statement. “We help our clients become filthy, stinking, rich.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that! Ask simple questions and use examples that any high school graduate should be able to understand. “What about your computer bothers you the most?” I can’t tell you about DRAM and registry errors but I can sure tell you that taking five minutes to boot up is a real pain in my day. Build your credibility by asking questions that only an expert would know to ask, and by providing answers in a way that anyone can understand.

Selling today is simpler than ever. Let your competitors focus on being part of the noise. You need to take the path they have forgotten—meet people, meet with people, and have simple conversations.

Making the Telephone your Secret Weapon

Converting Phone Time to Profit Time

If you are calling people who are not waiting by the phone for you to call, then you need to attend. This workshop is for you!

Cold calling is nothing more than calling someone who is not waiting by the phone for your call. Ever call a referral or someone you met last week and they have no idea who you are? Not a great way to start the call! This workshop is for you!

Warm calling is calling when you think you have a referral, but find out that the referral is not as strong as you thought. Not a cold call, but darn near. This workshop is for you!

“Jeff helped me with some great phrases to improve my telemarketing skills.” Beth in Staffing

We’ll cover…

  • How often do you call?
  • When do you call?
  • What do you say if they answer?
  • Do you leave a message if they don’t?

We’ll also cover gatekeepers (a.k.a., the first decision maker), call reluctance (a.k.a., I’m not hitting my numbers and this isn’t working), working through blocks and obstacles (a.k.a., asking the wrong person for an appointment at the time), reading personality type from voice mail (a.k.a., why I prefer to reach your voicemail), and how to get appointments when you want them (a.k.a., your time is as valuable as theirs).

Basically, if you use the phone to contact prospects to get the sales appointments you need to book more business, this workshop is for you!

You will walk out with ideas, action plans, approaches, responses, and new ways to convert phone time to profit time.

September 2, 2009   2:00 pm – 4:30 pm

“Jeff is an excellent speaker and coach. His seminar on telephones has greatly boosted my confidence and has made me better prepared.” Angela in Office Furniture

Registration is FREE, but please RSVP so we can reserve a space for you as our seminars fill up quickly!

RSVP to: seminars@actumgroup.com

July 3, 2009

Social Media–Social or Media?

Everyone has an opinion on social media today. Some feel it is the future of all communication and sales, while others feel it is a fad that is already passing. My concern as a sales trainer and coach is whether your social media strategy is working for you. How do you know?

Here is one post from someone I respect as a marketer. She was upset regarding a recent Twitter experience. Here’s the one sentence summary: auto responders are fake and do not help you build relationship and can work against you. Read the details yourself, and I bet you will agree. Karen’s new non-friend.

Other marketing experts claim that social media works for B2C markets but not B2B markets. One problem with social media on B2B markets is whether your target market is watching the social media mediums you are using. Here’s a thought from a marketing expert on why and how social media is not all it hypes itself as in B2B markets.

Here is someone who talks about how not to use Twitter, which is what I see way too often–blatant repetitive advertising, that, wow, look at that, repeats every so many days because it is being done by a program and not a person. Gee, is that a relationship?

I don’t have hard stats but from regular discussions, I think I personally know one person who is making a reasonable ROI on his or her social media time. One. And I’m not 100% positive that person is really profitable. I don’t mean “yeah, I’ve made some money from social media” as in you’ve sold a project or two. I mean you took your net margin (that would be sales less direct expenses) and took the hours you have invested in social media, totaled them all up, and then divided your net margin by your hours invested and found out that your net hourly rate for your social media time was as good or better than your other marketing efforts. Just for fun, try it out and see how much you make per hour.

I’m not saying social media is dead or even dying. I’m just glad more people are starting to question if it fits and how to get a measurable return out of it for the majority of people on it. As more true success stories filter out from the masses still looking, I’ll be the first to post them here.

June 17, 2009

When to Dump a Networking Group

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 11:37 pm
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In one of my last articles, I asked, “Is it possible to network too much?” A related question is, “Should I stop networking in this group?” Depending on what is happening, the answer may be a resounding, “Yes!”

Sales today is about being vigilant in using limited time. Most salespeople spend less than 30% of their time in active selling and less than 50% of their total time in any aspect of selling. The rest of the week is filled with travel, marketing, company meetings, training, client problem resolution, and paperwork. All of these are part of sales so we can’t get rid of them. What we can get rid of is unproductive networking time.

Networking is a sales function inside another business—the networking group is its own business with income, expenses, and they hope profit. The group exists to make money by providing the service of connections. Think the chamber of commerce isn’t a business because it’s a not for profit? Ask their president how long they could survive if they took in less money than they spent and you’ll hear the answer: not very long! Most other networking groups are for-profit businesses whose ongoing success is based upon collecting dues money from members and meeting fees from visitors.

Is that bad? Not at all. In fact, it’s very good because it makes them deliver a product that you are willing to buy. If the group is working for you, you are (or should be) happy to pay your dues. If the group isn’t working for you, then you should take your business elsewhere and the group should understand that it failed to satisfy you.

How do you know if a group is working for you? First, make a list of every networking group you work and then add up over the last six months the total number of hours you spent on that group. Include meeting time, driving time, follow up phone and email time, appointment time, one on one time—everything that took time away from you doing anything else, and get a total for each group. Next, look at your sales during the same timeframe and tie each sale to the networking group where the lead for that sale first originated. Don’t stop at one generation, but go as far back as you can trace it. Maybe Ken called you because Mary gave him your number, but if Mary got your number several months ago from Larry, and you met Larry at Networkers Inc., then Networkers, Inc. was your source. Do this for every client and then add up the number of sales dollars under each networking group. When you are done, divide sales for each group by hours for that group, and you have sales per hour invested. Finally, compare your groups.

Are some groups more valuable than others? Most likely, yes. Is one group dominant? Could be. Either way, you should reward your best group—spend more time at it, take a leadership role, expand your reach in it. Go where you are making money. At the same time, the group at the bottom of your list needs to be taken off your schedule because there are too many great opportunities out there to let a bad group take up your valuable limited time. It’s a cold, hard, objective business decision on which group to dump—the one that is giving you the lowest sales per hour. If you wish to belong to a group that does not bring you value, that’s a charitable contribution decision that falls outside of sales.

Will the group you dropped complain and try to get you to reconsider? Probably as they are a business and their continuation is contingent on receiving income from members. But, at the end of the day, your first priority is to your business. When a group is not performing, dump it and find a new one or invest more time in the groups that are really ringing the bell.

There’s a lot more we could talk about on this and if you want additional details drop me a line or give me a call. Right now, it’s time to do some cold hard number crunching.

Jeff Bowe, Principal of ACTUM Group, is a sales trainer and outsourced sales manager who focuses on helping sales people make as much as they think they are worth, while increasing corporate profit as well. For more information, Jeff can be contacted at 317-577-3750 or jeffbowe@actumgroup.com.

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April 6, 2009

How Much Networking is Too Much Networking?

Is it possible to network too much? It depends. We’ve talked here before about how to network and where to network, but not about how much to network. Can you overdo it? Let’s go back to how networking is part of sales strategy and process.

Sales starts with identifying a prospect. For most people, networking is a way to avoid cold calling to identify prospects which is a pretty good reason to network. Cold calling will never be as effective as receiving a phone call from someone who got your name from a networking partner who said you were the person to solve their pressing need. Networking is a tactical way to meet prospects and contacts who can fill your schedule with pre-qualified prospects who want to talk with you.

We network to start the sales process, not get in the way of it. I had a client tell me one time that he was too busy networking to set sales appointments. That’s backwards and very dangerous. You should network as much as it takes to meet enough people to fill your sales schedule—and no more. If you are networking so much that you cannot follow up in a timely fashion, then you are probably not taking advantage of maximizing your new contacts. If you are having trouble fitting sales calls in between your networking meetings, then you are definitely putting the emphasis on the wrong activity. Remember, we network to meet prospects and contacts because without them, it’s really hard to make that monthly sales quota.

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February 3, 2009

When Networking Isn’t Working

Article by Jeff Bowe

“I can’t sell when I network, I’m there to build relationships.”

“I have lots of one on ones, but no one I meet is a prospect.”

“I network all the time but I just don’t get anything out of it.”

At the risk of upsetting a very large apple cart, it’s time to debunk some myths about networking.

Continued…

December 17, 2008

You are a Superhero

Defining Your Market

You’re superman or superwoman—able to conquer tough prospects with ease. Bring them on! Any and all! You know no fear, and any block or obstacle can be easily scaled or crushed. No foe is too great.

OK, maybe you’re not superman or superwoman. But wait. Whether you are or not, do you really want to take on all foes? Do you really want to have to fight every enemy out there? What if you could focus your energy on one enemy? One nemesis? One competitor?

Think of the superheroes of your youth, however many years ago that was. Most of them countered one arch enemy day after day. And, every day, they won. Why? Simple. It was focus.

You are your own superhero. You can take on all comers, cover all needs, but you are most effective against one foe. The foe you know. The foe you fight every day. The foe you can beat at every confrontation.

Is this your approach to sales? It should be. Instead of taking on all comers, identify one point of attention and attack that point. Maybe it’s one specific need, or one specific competitor—one enemy. How are you different? Unique? Stronger? Better?

Superheroes have arch enemies for one reason—it allows the story writers to focus the good powers against one bad power that is between them and a perfect world. You need to select your arch nemesis, and plan now for complete domination in your world, using your one good power—you unique strength.

Your nemesis could be a specific competitor, or it could be a specific need that you are best suited to fill. No matter, you need to identify it, name in, and own it in the market.

When you go to war each day, when you pick up the phone and state your sales and marketing prowess, how do you grab that one focal point and attack it—every day? Superheroes are successful because they know their own weakness and they know the weakness of their enemy, and they focus their energy against that weakness in a way that is not impacted by their own weakness—day after day.

What is your focus for 2009? Have you figured out where you should aim, where you should target, so that all of your energies are most effectively put to use?

Through the end of the year and into January, we are going to talk about focus, attention, and attack. If you want to launch 2009 with a purpose, be prepared to be like your favorite superhero—powerful and focused. When you are focus, you can spend all of your energy on one need and dominate that need—just like your favorite superhero.

For info on my book, recently updated, go to www.InfocusSelling.com.

December 9, 2008

How to Brand Your Business

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 9:16 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

How to Brand Your Business and Make it Work
Learn to Stand Out from the Masses

Why do so many successful companies spend so much money to “brand” themselves? It is because they have to differentiate themselves from their competitors and show why people and other companies should buy their products or services. No one pays a lot for common, but they pay a lot more for uniqueness. In this seminar we will cover the aspects of differentiation, how to discover our strengths, and combine those to create our own brand.

Thursday, December 18th, 2:00pm – 4:30pm

Registration is FREE, but please RSVP so we can reserve a space for you as our seminars fill up quickly!

RSVP to: seminars@actumgroup.com

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