Microsoft this week launched Vista. For those of you who don't know, its the look-a-like operating system meant to imitate Apple's OS X.
I found it interesting when I read this article on News.com about a Staples store in San Fransisco staying open till midnight to sell it. Do you know how many people showed up?
That must be a huge success for Microsoft!?! Let's just let that soak in for a moment. You build software that undoubtedly most of the country uses (I am Mac fan so I am in the minority, but I like that). That being said shouldn't the release of a new product draw crowds of people? I would like to hope so.
When polled, as you will read in the article, most people showed up for the free food and discounted printers. And as the columnist continues he didn't see anyone buying a copy.
The Selling Point:
Personal OS system preferences aside, if your a big manufacturer shouldn't you ask your customers what they want in an improved version of your product? I can guarantee that your sales staff can gather countless amounts of feedback that actual users would want to see improved upon. So, when looking to improve your product I suggest you ask your customers what they want, and not copy the competition.
Although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
January 31, 2007
Microsoft this week launched Vista. For those of you who don't know, its the look-a-like operating system meant to imitate Apple's OS X.
January 30, 2007
Warning: This post really contains no sales or marketing ideas. Its a rant, because I am frustrated with salespeople that try to woo customers with lunches in the hopes that they purchase their products.
As someone in sales I have a couple 'rules' I live by, and one of them is: You never take a client out to lunch.
What's the point? You show them that you know how to pay for someone else's meal!
Wow, I am impressed.
Its really a lot like dating, you take someone to lunch and hope that they fell the obligation to see you again? Is this our thinking when we take clients to lunch?!? Hope is a pretty thin proposition to rest a sale on.
So what happens when your client decided to purchase from someone else? You feel betrayed don't you? Darn it, you spent all that money on the client and they didn't buy from you!! Shame on them.
No-shame on you! Your not dating your client, you are trying to solve a problem for them. And unless your a soup kitchen I don't think feeding them solves their problem.
Your not on a date, you are on a sales call! Sell to your customers. Save your dating for your personal life.
The Selling Point:
Just because you take a client to lunch doesn't mean that the client has any obligation to purchase from you. You shouldn't use guilt to sell your item. If you do, your item really isn't that good anyway and you should seriously find yourself a new company.
January 29, 2007
This weekend I ordered a pizza from one of those take-n-bake places. Anyway, I thought they were about to close so I asked if I could still order a pizza.
They said "sure, not a problem we don't close for another 15 minutes."
I proceeded to order my pizza and wait. Honestly, even though they had started to pack away some ingredients I didn't have to wait any longer than usual. But I was surprised when they brought the pizza out to me.
"Sorry to make you wait." She said. I was confused. I knew I had to wait, and the wait didn't seem all that bad, I got to check out the bulletin board postings and check out their specials.
But Sorry really stuck in my head.
I came home and while my pizza was baking I happened to check out this blog by Scott Ginsburg, Sorry Service versus Thankful Service.
It totally sums up my experience.
The Selling Point:
It's that a thank-you goes along way. Both when interacting with co-workers and with your customers. Remember it is really their time that you are using up, so thanking them for that should be your top priority. Not telling them "Sorry you had to spend so much time here."
Not to down-play the "sorry" but lets save that for major disasters.
January 28, 2007
That was the temperature on the bank sign I passed when I pulled up to the gas station last night. I had finally succumb to the glow of my low fuel light. But as I began to pump my gas I looked down at the nozzle and guess what I saw. Advertising!
Joe, Jack or Jim from the local car dealership had his picture on the nozzle and a bubble that said "Are you tired of filling up your old car? Come see me."
I know I am in the minority when I say this but... I like seeing advertising in unexpected places. And to me a gas pump nozzle is an unexpected place! Of course there are those that will say "Advertising is everywhere and its cluttering up the place." Fine, think what you will. But this didn't interrupt my ability to pump gas or slow down (thankfully) my speed by prompting me to answer all sorts of questions. So it works for me and it fits into the environment nicely by prettying up the otherwise ugly pump nozzle.
The Selling Point: What do you sell? More importantly what do you sell that you could advertise in an unexpected place and catch my attention. That is your challenge this week.
As an aside... I can't remember the name of the car dealership or the salesman because it was 8 degrees outside, unfortunately cold had been the clutter that you could not have anticipated being the reason I didn't pay closer attention to the message.
January 25, 2007
Many connotations come to mind when you think "used car salesman". In a few days or so we will be treated to every stereotype imaginable thanks to A&E and a show called King of Cars.
But I can't stop watching this show!?!
Love them or hate them car salesman have taken on certain venier in our society. One that is spilling over into the ranks of other salespeople. Don't get me wrong I like car salesman, heck they are people just like me.
So where do this get this bad rap?
It's inherent in the product they sell. Someone buys a great car from them they tell a friend. Someone buys a lemon from them, and they hold a gathering to rant about how they got "screwed".
I am sorry if I am the first one to admit this, but sales people are tied to the product they sell. Its a fact we all have to live with.
The Selling Point: Love it or hate it the customer sees only the product you sell and not your salespeople. Take this into consideration before planning your next campaign. Perhaps changing the perception of your team in the customers mind will get your people through the door faster.
January 24, 2007
Last week I posted about Sellingpower.com and how we should add that website to our toolkit for numerous reasons. Well, while I was there I signed up to receive the newsletter that they put out. I only had to enter some personal information, and I was done. Simple enough.
Today my office phone rang... it was Sellingpower.com!
I didn't think they would call?
They were just "doing a follow up to my submission for information, and wanted to inform me about the magazine they also offer." Lori and I had a great less than two minute conversation, followed by an immediate email that she promised to send.
I hung up being so pleased with the whole experience I am writing about. They quickly qualified me as someone slightly interested in the magazine, but not willing to commit right now. Rather than prophesying about how great their magazine is and how I should take advantage of the offer, they simply let me get on with my day.
The Selling Point: Qualification shouldn't be painful for either party. In fact it should be like a trip to a fast food restaurant--get in, get out, get on with your life.
January 22, 2007
I should confess for those of you who don't know. But on the weekends I moonlight at a big box retailer. Just a part-time job to put a little coin in my pocket. It also gives me a chance to actually do some selling.
Anyway, I want to tell you about the coolest associate that works there. She started about 13 years ago and runs the china/bridal department. She's 63 years young and has probably forgot more information about china and place-settings than some people learn in a lifetime. As I don't normally work on a Sunday I didn't know about this little "habit" of hers. She buys the Sunday paper (with her own money) and opens it directly to the engagements page. She then proceeds to look up each couples address and write them a personal invitation to come to the store for their bridal registration. Let me say that again, she writes each couple a personal invitation. Her contact list is so large that it is kept in three filing cabinets. None-the-less, she still buys the paper every Sunday and sends out invitations.
The Selling Point: When was the last time you added anything personal to your sales process. I don't mean an email or a phone call. I am talking about a personally written thank-you. It can be for anything--a meeting, a follow up to phone conversation, or a purchase. But I believe it will separate you from the pack. Especially in this all digital age, where even the most simple of contacts is done through a cold impersonal email.
January 19, 2007
This weeks sales tool is not what you should add. But what you should take away. And smash!
I call it the "Trade show Fishbowl." You know exactly what I am talking about. It's that bowl you put out when you are at a trade show with the promise that everyone who enters could receive a free iPod or a gift card. You know you are guilty of doing it, I know I am. I will admit to it.
STOP PUTTING THE FISHBOWL OUT!!!
I am not sure when CEO's decided that the measure of success at a trade show was based on the number of inquiries you had received. But it happened and to respond to that added pressure we all started to put out fish bowls to garner more inquiries. What we find out is that we receive a whole bunch of names of people interested in winning an iPod. Perfect! If your in the iPod give-away business. Of which I am not.
Sure it's great to get inquiries while your at a trade show, but that shouldn't be the measure of success. Trade shows offer the chance to interact with your clients on a neutral playing field. They also give you a chance to scope out your competition and most importantly gauge the pulse of your industry. I could go on, but you get the point.
The Selling Point: Determine your goal of a trade show early on in the planning process. Make sure that you have at least one person from your sales team there to work the booth and qualify the inquiries on the spot. And most importantly, gather quality information for your sales team.
And the fish bowl...well I am sure that your secretary would love a goldfish.
January 18, 2007
By now the traffic to the Apple website should be calmed down enough that you could actually check out the Keynote address that Steve Jobs gave during Macworld this year. Regardless of your affiliation (Mac or PC) this is a must view, just to see how one of the best public speakers delivers a compelling address.
But this got me thinking... motivation starts at the top.
When Steve walks out on stage for every keynote he gives, there is this chester-cat like grin on his face. The kind that says "I have something really cool, and something that I believe in to tell you about today."
I have seen many CEO's give a speech. None as compelling as Steve Jobs. Why? There isn't the love and motivation for the product that Steve has.
The Selling Point: You can hire the most talented sales team in the world. Recruit the top-of-the-class marketing talent and hire the best agency. But you won't make a dent in your market if the CEO doesn't share a passion for the product. Motivation for success starts at the top. If the CEO is motivated and believes in the product, company enthusiasm will follow.
My company spends upwards of $15K per year for our CRM tool. And let me tell you it's a Ferrari when it comes to customer management tools.
This got me thinking. What are some key points for you to consider when getting a CRM ?
- Involve your sales people. This should be a no-brainer, but start out by asking them what they want in CRM. After all they will be the ones using it the most.
- Talk to your Marketing Dept. Will they be using this as a means of organizing and building lists? If not, what will they be using?
- Do your research. There many CRM systems out there. You need to decide if a web-based one is the best, or if software is the best. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Make sure it fits your organization. Determine if this will be the end all be all for you. Are you going to run you inventory out of it? What about billing and P.O.'s will they part of it? Is this just a marketing tool only?
- Get the best training package they offer. If they don't offer training, walk away. The best CRM isn't worth a nickel if your sales team doesn't use it effectively.
- Ask IT. You may not interact with your IT people a lot. But when it comes to a CRM system they will be your best friend. If you decide to purchase software make sure they are involved in every level of the decision making process. They will also be able to assess what works best on a Mac or PC.
- Emphasize data quality. The field is there for a reason. If your not interested in how many employees an organization has make sure the field doesn't exist. Sales people don't like to look at clutter. For that fact I don't anyone that does, so make sure you are capturing relevant information that is needed to move the sale forward.
- Data Export & Import. What is the ease of use when importing vast amounts of information. And lets say you outgrow your CRM, how easy is it to get all of the data out?
- Features. Can you save documents and other company info into the CRM? What about the reporting features? And for that fact how useful are the reports?
- Flexibility. This is the most important thing to consider. Not all of your sales people will sell using the same techniques. The same can be held true when using a CRM. Every sales person will use it differently so it is vital that it can be adapted to each user in order to maximize its use.
January 17, 2007
I am going to take a moment and share a personal story with you about my first sales call.
I had just started with this great publishing company, fresh out of college, and was happier than pig in... well you know. I was thrilled to work there, and thought it was my dream job. I digress.
The week prior to me leaving for my sales trip was spent on the phone trying to make connections, and desperately attempting to get appointments. Finally a principal in Lima Ohio agreed to meet with me. My boss was impressed, only a few weeks on the job and I had a face-to-face.
The night before the appointment I spent tossing and turning in bed, reorganizing my materials, and going over in minutia what I was going to say. The principal I was meeting with sounded well versed in "education speak" and I was still wet behind the ears.
I showed up to the appointment about 10 minutes early, the secretary said he would be out shortly. 15 minutes later he emerged from his office and didn't apologize for making me wait. I went into my pitch and he leafed through my books. Halfway through he stopped me and said "I have heard all this before, so what makes you so special?"
I froze. I didn't know how to answer that question.
Well, "me" I said.
"If something goes wrong, you call me. You need more books, you call me. I can take care of whatever you need--not some nameless faceless person on the other end of an 800 number. Thats how we operate, and that is why I joined this company." I was honest with him, even though it sounded arrogant.
The Selling Point: We all get nervous from time to time. In fact one way to tell your nervous is if your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth. But we are all human and we all make mistakes. Be personable in your approach, and most importantly be honest. Customers can smell B.S. a mile away.
And just to finish the story, that principal later sent in a $5,000 purchase order. Not the biggest sale I closed, but definitely one of the most rewarding.
January 16, 2007
Recently I posted about the multiple reasons a customer would or would not choose your company. In that post I mentioned that I was researching the benefits of purchasing from Amazon.com versus a brick and mortar store.
I went with Amazon.com. They offered better pricing, and a discount on a multiple book purchase. Plus they offered FREE shipping! How could I pass that up?
Well the books arrived today!
I am now an Amazon.com customer (at least for book purchases).
1. It was really simple to place my order.
2. They promised it on Wednesday, and it arrived on Tuesday.
3. The beat the competition on price.
The Selling Point: Customers don't come to your business looking for a bad experience. But they are always cautious of it happening. In my opinion, there is two things you can do to with every customer to ensure a positive experience. Keep the sale simple, meaning don't overcomplicate things the first time around. If they like you they will come back. And second, under-promise and over-deliver. I didn't think I would have my books until at least Wednesday, now here it is Tuesday night and I am leafing through them like a kid on Christmas day!
Ready-fire-aim. How many of us have used this as our driving force when we are called upon to generate leads or get sales threw the door? Maybe it was the CEO or some top level executive that wanted to see leads right away? Rather than taking the time to plan out a campaign or look at what our objectives are we simply starting firing in the dark and hope to hit something, anything.
I think we call take a page from Don Adams when setting goals and priorities and make sure they are:
The Point:This shouldn't be a new concept for you. But I feel the need to be reminded of the most simplest things.
By making sure that your plan is specific its easy to measure your success. The goal should be achievable and realistic to keep you team and staff motivated. And lastly your goal should have a time table to allow for evaluation and benchmarking. Firing in the dark, hoping to land a million dollar sale sometime in the future isn't the best way to run a sales team. By setting SMART goals, your sales team and your bottom line will thank you.
January 12, 2007
[Beginning today I am going to post a weekly sales tool for you to use, view, or interact with. The hope being it improves you as a salesperson. Or increases your knowledge about sales and marketing.]
Janine at Vertical Response points us to a great website in her blog that I want to be the first item in our tool box.
Specifically I would like to point you to this page and a test called the Hunter-Farmer Test. I think this is an excellent tool for each of us to use when evaluating which position in sales we would excel in. The Test only takes five or ten minutes, and they will email you a nice word document informing you which end of the spectrum you fall in.
So are you a hunter or a farmer?
It goes without saying that the "right hand" of any salesperson is the phone. Phoning is timely, interactive, and personal–the perfect combination of assets for building a relationship.*
When I started in sales I failed over the phone. We are talking crash-and-burn. And I didn't know why! I couldn't get an appointment, much less sell anything. My ship was sinking and I had to find a way to plug the holes quickly or start looking for a new job.
So I went a bought a book about relationships. Not a book about sales.
I turned to the chapter about talking over the phone. And I began soaking up every word on every page. It became clear to me that I wasn't listening to person at the other end. And not just the words coming out of there mouth, but the tone and inflection in their voice. The little "non-verbal" cues they were giving me.
The Selling Point: Some of the best advice about sales is not always found in a book written about sales. I didn't have a problem selling I had a problem developing relationships. Since I had to learn how to develop a relationship with my customer over the phone, it only seemed natural to read a book about relationships. My best advice for you is to not always jump to the business section of your local bookstore when you are looking for an answer.
* Quote taken from Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.
January 11, 2007
Every experience someone will have with your company will contain these two words: the reason.
someone buys from you is _____.
someone looks elsewhere is _____.
I started buying from them is ____.
I don't buy from you is ____.
In my opinion these are by far the two most powerful words in regards to customer loyalty today. Case in point: I am almost done reading All Marketers Are Liars, by Seth Godin. On a drive home last night I called Nick, a loyal customer of Amazon.com because I wanted to know why he buys from Amazon versus a brick and mortar bookstore. In his response, everything pointed to a positive customer experience (reason #1), excellent price (reason #2), and nothing negative to say about them (reason #3, and the most powerful).
The Selling Point: One of the most important things you can do to increase sales and build customer loyalty is to take a look at your reasons. It's a very intangible thing, but it could be the most powerful component to your company's perception in the marketplace and to you as a salesperson.
January 10, 2007
I have to laugh every time I see someone working in retail with a name badge on that says "sales associate" because the vast majority simply aren't in sales.
They are in peddling.
Peddling is much different from selling. When you peddle something, you don't care either way about the product, who you are selling it to, and whether it gets sold. To put it bluntly "it's just this thing that you have to get rid of in order to receive a check."
Salespeople know that it's more than just the exchange of good or services for an equivalent amount of money. Its about creating a positive experience for the customer that leads to a relationship worth talking about.
Thats not saying everyone in retail isn't a salesperson. I know a few that truely know the product, keep up with industry trends, and really work to provide the best service. And you can make the distinction immediately after meeting with them.
The Selling Point: It's not a question of semantics here. But what I want to stress is that your potential client, customer, or contact can tell immediately if you are peddler or a salesman. Peddlers will have a difficult time in the market and ultimately burn out faster than a salesman. If you manage a team responsible for growing your company ask yourself this question.
"Do I manage a team of peddlers or salespeople?"
January 8, 2007
Who is the first person you turn to when your car breaks down or you need to make a major purchasing decision? More than likely your first answer is a family member or friend. You do so because you have TRUST in the advice they will provide to you. So what about your customers, who do they first turn to when they need to make a major purchase decision?
Today both businesses and consumers have more resources at hand to assist in the decision making process than ever. No longer does your customer have to rely solely on what the salesperson informs them. And to further that point, most people simply don't want to be sold to. In spite of all that 70% of the final customer brand perception and preference is determined through direct contact with the salesperson. Thereby making the face to face meeting with your staff a valuable commodity to the sale.
Not only should your sales team be perceived as a contact to you organization, but as a valuable asset in the decision making process. The best way to do this is to encourage research into the company prior to making the initial contact. This sounds basic but its often overlooked by the sales team.
The Selling Point: Your customers should be able to pick up the phone and say to your staff "You understand my company, our challenges, and our goals. You have provided us with sound advice and understand this will be a long process, so lets get started!"
Sales Quote: To be successful, you have to be able to relate to people; they have to be satisfied with your personality to be able to do business with you and to build a relationship with mutual trust.
January 7, 2007
[Note: this is part of a webwide series of blog posts about compact fluorescent lightbulbs. January is the darkest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (December might be a bit darker, but with all the candles, trees and dropping balls, we work hard to light it up). To fight off the darkness, bloggers everywhere are invited to create a post with their own riff on why CF bulbs are cheaper, better politically, harder to market or just plain cute.
I first read about this by the remarkable Seth Godin.]
I want you to buy me. I am a bit more than your traditional light bulb, and to be honest a whole lot uglier. But when have light bulbs ever been sexy?
But I do make the world cleaner by using less energy.
However, you will walk past me everyday in the store, and buy the cheaper bulbs won't you? You think its really all a lie, and how can one bulb actually make a difference? You believe that by purchasing me I will only end up costing you more. Plus your not one of those hippie-tree huggers anyway.
I am sorry that my marketing manager didn't tell you a better story about me. About how I last 10 times longer and provide the same amount of light.
Its really a shame that he didn't give that warm fuzzy feeling about saving an average of $30 in energy cost over my lifetime. Or some of the other benefits listed about me on this PDF.
I can't make you change your mind about me, or the environment. No, you already have it predisposed in your mind that global warming isn't happening. And you could be right. But what if your not?
The Selling Point: Your not going to run out and change a light bulb until one burns out. (Unless your like me and decided to do it for the good of mankind.) No, your mind is already made up and there is little I can do to change it until something drastic happens. So I won't try. As a salesman I can't make you think any differently than you have your whole life. I can educate using facts. Not opinions, but facts. So as a sales manager or member of a sales team make sure that you are educating your customers using facts to paint an entire picture for the customer.
So in the meantime, when that bulb burns out, and it will. Buy a CF bulb. Just one, thats all I ask. And see if you like it. In the meantime, you don't have to make a drastic change in your life.
But awareness is the first step.
January 6, 2007
Brian Carroll makes and excellent point in his book Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, "How you sell me indicates how you will serve me."
I lived this case personally with American Express. I recently signed up for a new card. And sure enough I was approved and had the card within days. (That's how they sold me.) I have yet to use to the card, so when I recieved a bill in the mail for a membership fee that I thought was waived for the first year I was irate! However, I called them and we straightened everything out immediately. No supervisor to speak with or anything. The first person that answered my call is the SAME person that resolved my issue. (That is how they serviced me.)
This principal relates to a previous post I had on return policies, have knowledgeable people who can answer/resolve the conflict immediately.
The Selling Point: Take a page from American Express, do customer service right the first time. Have knowledgeable people that will service the customer with the same level you spent selling the customer.
January 5, 2007
If I were to ask you who your best salesperson is you would answer with "my top performer" or the "one that brings in the most $". Right? All great answers, however which one keeps the money in the door?
Your best salesperson is the one who sells the total solution to the customer. And if it doesn't work out or products need to be exchanged they keep the customers money with your company and not let it go to your competitors. It's as simple as that. They not only bring in the money but keep it with your company, building loyalty the whole time.
So lets look at some common mistakes salespeople make.
The first mistake most salespeople make is they mention what they can't do for the customer. As the customer I don't care, for the simple fact that it more than outweighs what you can do for me. So start off by telling me (the customer) what you CAN DO for me. This will help to set the boundaries for the conversation. And more than likely any of the options you offer will be acceptable.
The second mistake most often made is the salesman stops selling during the return. If its a new widget or solution you are putting me into, that's another sale! And its another sale I chose to go through you instead of your competition. So why should you treat me any less. Remember: NEVER stop selling until the customer says no. And even then you should try one more time.
The biggest mistake made by most organizations is that they fail to educate their salespeople on how to handle the return. I don't know if they think returns will never happen or what. So the last thing you want to happen to a loyal customer (loyal because they have already purchased from you) is having to wait until the one knowledgeable associate shows up to answer the question. Make sure that your entire staff is "in the know" about returns and how to handle them.
The Selling Point:
- Never stop selling to your customer, a return is another interaction with your target customer. Make sure they have ANOTHER pleasant experience
- Knowledge is power. You should spend an equal amount of time training your staff on returns as you do selling. This is you chance to save the sale should your solution not be a perfect fit the first time around.
- NEVER, and I mean NEVER tell the customer what you can't do for them. They are only interested in how the problem will be solved, not all of the other great solutions you can't do for them.
January 4, 2007
With the Al Gore documentary on everyones mind it would appear as though global warming is an in thing right now--for me it has become a growing concern.
I am not going to sit here and preach about what we should and should not be doing environmentally.
I am going to point to the ad that I have pictured here, and say "is it ethical for advertisers and we as marketers to poke fun at global warming to use it to sell shoes?"
The Selling Point: I think all of us in sales and marketing should be well aware of hot button issues within society. It should be our policy to not paint this issues in a negative light, but realize they exist and paint them in a negative manner.
I am open to your comments on this issue!
At one time I looked into selling cars. I even got as far as the second interview before I decided that it just wasn't right for me. Long story short, I walked away from the interview with a deeper understanding of selling because of a question that was posed in the interview, which was " Anybody can sell to three out of the four personality types [Extrovert, Amiable, Analytical and Pragmatic], but a good salesman can sell to all four. Can you sell to all four?"
I was floored with this question until I thought of it more. It really was true! If you are good at what you do, you should be able to relate to everyone that walks in the door.
Case in point, my new ritual on the weekends is to visit this great coffee place in Coralville to sit and read. Upon my first visit there Robert, one of the co-owners, engaged me in conversation and gave me background on the company. He even suggested a book that I read about selling. His philosophy, he told me "was to read everything. That way I know a little bit about everything, because we are all salesman." As I proceeded to sit down and sip my coffee and read my book, I watched as he engaged each customer in conversation, all from various walks of life and social status.
The Selling Point: Not only do your sales and marketing team need to be well versed in your product, but they need to have a deep understanding and ability to relate to your customer. Being able to sell to the fourth person is essential to success in an already competitive marketplace. This ability could be the difference between your company's success or failure. So make sure that you routinely work with your team to identify areas of communication they can improve upon when communicating with prospective clients.
As an aside: The coffee place is Terrapin Coffee, and the co-owners are Robert and David Meyers. Thanks for the great coffee!
January 3, 2007
I like renting from a movie store. I like going in, picking out what I want, and for the most part taking it home when I want. It's the thrill of the hunt I suppose. Recently, I began to investigate why everyone I know is renting from Netflix and I wasn't. And here is where the I found out how David is slaying Goliath with bricks and mortar...
When I looked at doing the whole online renting thing, the biggest thing that turned me off and still does is that I don't get it right away. So for me I don't mind going into the store paying more and having it now. But if money is an issue, renting online should really be the way to go. Then the obvious answer would be to rent from Netflix. Now if your Blockbuster, what are you to do? You have spent years builiding brick and mortar stores only to see that no one is coming in to them anymore. Well my friends here is the answer. You take that advantage and use it again your competitor. At Blockbuster you can sign up to rent online. Then exchange it in the store, for another FREE movie while you wait. Why wouldn't I go with Blockbuster? Netflix can't offer me that.
Product driven companies have really two choices for a delivery channel. They can put up a website or they build a brick-and-mortar store. Which do you think is cheaper? So what do you do if your an established b&m store and your faced with increasing competition from a website. Namely what if your Blockbuster and Netflix moves in to your customer base? Well you take the biggest thing you have (and they don't) and lob it at them as hard as you can.
The Selling Point:If your faced with tough competition in your market, take your competitor's disadvantage and make it your advantage. Because right now, I don't see any reason to rent online if I get exchange it in a store. Now Blockbuster gets the best of both worlds from me.
UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!
I just saw a new Blockbuster commercial last night (sorry I haven't found it on youtube to post yet), but they directly take on Netflix with the advantage of the "exchange it in store" option. Excellent job of leveraging your advantage!
I have been eating Snickers ever since I was kid. Since then I can't recall any of the advertising they have done that really caught my eye. Not that I was looking at advertising from the same perspective I am now. But anyway.
Recently I was in Chicago for a conference. While walking around the city I could help but notice all the cabs with Snickers advertising. I kept reading Snickers when in fact some of the cabs actually said " substantialiscious, satisfectellent, peanutopolis, nougatocity, hungerectomy" I had been so associated with the look of the logo that I actually didn't read the words. the logo and words had just all became synonymous with Snickers for me. Way to go! You get a kudos in my book for excellent branding!
Check out the Snickers website to see what each of the sayings mean.
I bet your asking yourself what those three things have to do with each other. Here is your answer. The book: is iCon, a biography about Steve Jobs and the birth of Apple Computer. The magazine is GQ, and the company that never stopped trying is Palm.
About a year ago I read iCon and was really fascinated by the chapter regarding Steve's decision to drop the Newton (an Apple version of the Palm pilot) and move the direction of the company into portable music via the iPod. This was a huge directional change for the company, and a deviant direction from how it appeared the tech industry was going. Now in hindsight we see that it was brilliant decision that launched Apple to the forefront of portable music technology.
Onto the magazine and the company that never stopped trying. I recently received my January issue of GQ. As I was thumbing through it I saw an ad for the new Palm Trio that has Google searchability. And it really got me thinking. You know Palm never gave up, they weren't positioned correctly when the digital music revolution wave hit the technology world. But they never stopped working to innovate the product they had. They took what they had, which was a well-designed hand held device and worked to make that an advantage. If they couldn't get on board the digital music revolution, they wouldn't let the wireless industry pass them by.
The Selling Point: This is a key fundamental quality for a sales team within your organization--Never stop trying! I had a boss (now mentor) once tell me this quote in relation to searching for a job and I think it applies here. "If a shark stops swimming they die, so never give up and always keep trying". I think we can all learn from Palm, never stop investing in your product or your team even when the market doesn't seem to be going your way.
January 2, 2007
To some extent today your target market is outside of normal thinking. Look at the world we inhibit. Do you really think your target market reads a billboard, or a magazine ad? Nope, they don't have the time. So what about the social networks?
The increasing trend in marketing and advertising is to create a myspace webpage or something similar on facebook. Think I am kidding? Just jump over to myspace and search for your favorite item. Sobe Adrenaline (part of the billion dollar energy drink industry) has a page, even a new show on HGTV called "Living with Ed"has a myspace page!
The Selling Point: Are you taking advantage of all the FREE sites that are out there? And more importantly are you paying attention to what your target market looks at while online. The best rule to remember is that your customers are paying more attention to your competitor's site than they are your site.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE!!!
Nick just pointed me to a couple of Presidential websites. Both the John Edwards Presidential site has a link to his myspace page and the Tom Vilsack Presidential site also includes a link to myspace and facebook. These are two great example of expanding your thinking and working to grab your target market.
Too often we come back from a tradeshow or a meeting with a client and the first question from our boss is "so how many leads did you get?" The smart salesman says "none", because he knows a lead isn't a lead until you qualify it. Until the qualification stage happens it's merely an inquiry.
Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, states it best when defining a lead over an inquiry. "An inquiry is an interested party who has requested information and needs some level of assistance."
The first step in defining an inquiry is to have an ideal customer profile. Yup, that means your sales department and marketing department are going to have to get together and agree on something. But it's the most important thing they will agree on. It's your ideal customer, and it's vital to your marketing department to target. And even more important for your sales department to pursue. Having a universally defined ideal customer gives you a blue-print to qualify an inquiry. Your ideal customer profile should be based on previous leads (not inquiries) that turned into successful sales. It should represent your target market for your product or service. To put it simply, it should the person that you always want walking through your door, going to your website, or calling you on the phone to buy your product.
So what is a lead anyway? Well a lead is a potential customer who inquired about your company and fits your description of an ideal customer profile. Therefore, not all inquiries are leads. A lead has a high probability of turning into a sale. Where an inquiry has a low probability of turning into a sale.
Why all the fuss? Well if you feed your salespeople too many inquiries and call them leads your going to frustrate them immediately. They will loose faith in the marketing department and have zero faith in your leadership.
The Selling Point: Stick to the basics, qualify your inquiries, and give your sales people the best leads possible. I assure you that your bottom line will thank you.
January 1, 2007
My mom is part owner of a up and coming consignment/reseller store. Kind of like a Stuff Etc., but without all the B.S. It's in a small town and has really good customer service. Ok, so thats my plug for her shop. But here is where this small town store in Marengo Iowa, and Gap are one in the same. They both get it! What's it? (And I am not referring the wonderful eBay campaigns.) "IT" is the customer experience from the moment you walk in the door, to the time you leave, and continues on until you tell someone about the store.
At a recent visit to Gap, I was greeted right away, and their salespeople were relentless. Like any good retailer they know that getting me in the door is 70% of the battle. So once they had me their people were like piranhas on the hunt. They helped me find what I was looking for, gave me a dressing room. And oh yeah, suggest more clothes that went with what I was trying on. Bingo! Gold award for you.
But here is the part they do great. At the checkout they handed me a coupon for my next visit! If you asked yourself why, they you don't get it. But I will tell you why. They knew that they got me in the store once, and if I had a positive enough experience (say over 55% likeability) I will probably return. The coupon raises my interest to 85% immediately. Kudos Gap your doing it right, you are keeping me coming back.
So what does all this have to do with a mom and pop store in the middle Iowa? That is an easy question. The mom and pop store in the middle of Iowa is a consignment store. Their customers come in twice every time they visit. How great is that! They get a potential customer in the door who is looking to sell their used, but not used up clothing. And then if they want the money for it, they have to come back. Two trips, double the opportunity to sell more product! Think of it. Gap had to give me a coupon to get me back. The reseller didn't have to do anything, and I will be back. For those of you doing the math that's twice the opportunity to sell them something. My mom realized this early on, and learned to take her time checking in the new customer's clothing allowing them to shop. Guess what, most of them found something to buy right away. She turned them into a customer immediately!
The Selling Point: It's not that we should all be consignment store owners. It's in how you get your customers back into your store. And lets face it if they don't come back I can guarantee that they will tell all their friends why, and good luck getting them through the door. Think of creative ways to get them to come back. And the ENTIRE time that they are in the store make sure they receive the best service that you are known for. Remember the store experience is the most critical part of the sale along with the product.
From a marketing and advertising standpoint the gas station sign has always intrigued me. From its early days of the flashing arrow, harkening you to come in and purchase trinkets including the occasionally over-cooked hot dog. The gas station sign has become a part of Americana. It not only gives us the price of gas, but reminds us that a slurpy is only $.99 and is for a limited time only. The funny thing about the gas station sign with its pre-spaced letters is the limited amount of space you're given to convey a message. Companies will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year looking for way to incorporate a theme into every inch of packaging. (Which to be honest, the gas station sign is packaging.) Need an example? Take for instance Snapple, with its phrases underneath the cap. Bingo you just been sold to! So the fact that a company would spend thousands of dollars on a sign and then let someone who makes like $8 bucks an hour use it for advertising is beyond me. None-the-less. While driving back from lunch one day I made it a point to drive by this gas station whose sign always gives me a chuckle, and usually causes me to think. But usually not think in marketing terms. So today’s sign was:
That’s it? What's so special about that, I thought. Are they now selling the worlds first chicken-tenderloin-pizza? And if so, good god how gross could that be! Or are they selling chicken, tenderloins, and pizza? More than likely its probably the latter, as they mostly get construction workers in and hand held food is the way to go for lunch. ( I don’t mean that in a derogatory fashion , but it is true.) Then I thought, way to go $8 dollar-an-hour-gas station-attendant-wanna-be-marketer! You just got me so intrigued about the product your selling that I almost want to check it out. And you did it without the use of flashy billboard style advertising. Of course he must still bow his head to the greatest of all $8 dollar-an-hour-gas station-attendant-wanna-be-marketers, that person resides in Cleveland, just north of downtown. Where in his infinite wisdom he placed the words:
Not only did he get product placement its due justice, but reminded me to be religious. And the whole time I thought. I probably would need to praise Jesus after eating any of the first two.
The Selling Point: No matter what your budget is, take a cue from the gas station in Cleveland and BE CLEVER! The best advertising is one that causes conversation and not amnesia.
Sales Quote: Today, many companies are reporting that their number one constraint on growth is the inability to hire workers with the necessary skills.