Sales Lessons From A Mentor

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Over the years I’ve been blessed to have worked with some great sales professionals. I looked at these older and more experienced sales pros as my personal mentors. They taught me a lot, and they really made a big difference in my ability to build my businesses.

One such pro, Mike, taught me three critical lessons. I want to share those with you today.

1. If you’re not in front of a prospect or customer you are unemployed.

The bottom line is that if you are in your car, or behind your desk, or at the lunch counter, you are out of business. If you depend on selling something to make a living or build your business, and you want to consider yourself employed, then you have to be in front of someone who has the potential to buy.

Over time, great sales professionals realize that they are in the people business. They are in the business or serving people and helping them achieve their personal or professional goals.

You can’t serve people, and you can’t close sales unless you are in front of prospects. You may sell your products face-to-face, or you may sell over the phone. Either way you must be in front of someone or have someone on the phone if you are to have a chance to make a sale.

The key point is not only to be in front of people, but to find a way to increase the amount of time during the day you are in a selling situation. Here are three ways you can do that:

— Manage your time carefully. Certain hours of the day are best for face-to-face or phone sales. The hours may be different for each of these as well as for different industries. What are the best hours in your industry? Schedule your day so that you do your paperwork and other non-revenue generating activities during the hours that you are least likely to be able to put yourself in front of a prospect or repeat customer.

— Evaluate all of the activities that you participate in during the day. Which ones could be delegated to an assistant? Which activities can you do after hours or on the weekend? Which activities are wasting your time? Now fill your day with activities that will put you in front of buyers.

— Stretch your day. Find organizations and activities that meet early, before the normal work day or in the evening. These specific networking opportunities extend the traditional work day and give you more productive time. If you can meet an extra two people a day, that will turn into ten people a week and five hundred people a year! Just think of what that will do to your sales productivity.

2. If you don’t ask for the order, you are just practicing and you are doing yourself and/or your employer a disservice.

Many sales people just don’t like to or don’t think to ask the final buying question. If you are in sales then you have to ask someone to buy. If you don’t, then you do not have a career, you have a hobby.

Your company pays you to ask for the order. If you own your own company then you should already know this.

The bottom line is this; it’s your job to sell. It’s your customer’s job to buy. If you are not asking for the order then you are not doing your job. Simple?

When you do ask for the order, remember to remain silent until your customer speaks. If you speak first, you will relieve the buying pressure and probably lose the sale. If they don’t want your product or service, trust me, they will tell you.

3. Sell the sizzle not the steak.

I know we’ve all heard this before, but it is well worth talking about. People are looking for the excitement. They want what’s special, different, and unique. People buy emotionally and justify the purchase after the fact rationally.

If emotion is a big part of the buying process, then the “sizzle” or emotion arousing characteristics of your product or service is what will attract the customer and help make the sale.

Let’s go further then the sizzle though. People don’t just buy features. They buy the benefits they will receive after they own the product or service. So with every feature you offer, each sizzle must have a related benefit for your prospect or customer.

What is exciting about your product or service? You must be able to answer this question. Maybe there is something different or unique. Maybe you have features that set you apart.

— Here is an exercise that will make you a pro at selling the sizzle and making it relevant for your customer.

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side of the paper list every feature of your product or service. It does not matter if your competition has some of these same features because they are most likely not talking about them.

No matter how minor you may think the feature is, put it on the list.

Now on the right side of the sheet list at least one benefit your customer receives from each feature. If you can list two or three, then do it!

If your product comes in red or blue and you sell 98% blue you may not think that the fact it comes in red is important. Here’s how it works. The resulting benefit of these two colors is that your customer has a choice. If they change their mind before delivery they can get the other color. Maybe your competition does not offer the two colors. Get it?

Remember, it is not a feature or a benefit if only you know it. Tell your customers everything!

Even minor features can have real benefits. And, since I know your competition is not going into the detail that you will, unless of course I’ve trained them myself, you will gain a tremendous sales advantage.

Use this exercise alone or with members of your mastermind group. Develop sizzle. Turn all of your features into benefits that will compel your customers to buy, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Are You Easy To Do Business With?

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Recently I had a speech for a large home-builder. It was an annual meeting, and they wanted to send their management team off with a bang. I arrived at the Westin Hotel and was greeted warmly at the front door. The doorman escorted me to the room that I would be speaking in and made sure that all of my things arrived properly.

Once in the meeting room, Mike, the hotel manager in charge of the event greeted me. He asked if he could be of service. There were a few things missing and he said that they would be taken care of immediately. I asked if we could have an extra table off to the side for props and he said, “This is the Westin. Everything is possible.”

When the table arrived Mike asked me where I would like it. I asked if a particular spot would be in the way and he responded, “Nothing is in the way. We work around you.”

Mike was there to serve me. He wanted my experience to be exceptional. He wanted me to know that working with him and his hotel would be different from any other hotel experience I’ve ever had. It was.

Are you easy to do business with, or do your customers have to “work” at doing business with you and your organization? This may be the one single determining factor in whether or not you get the business. Below are the steps you need to take to become an incredibly easy person to do business with.

It is important to fully understand what you client goes through in doing business with you.

Build a short list of some of your clients. The list should have old clients, new clients, and medium term clients. It is important to get a cross section of length of service for accurate data.

Create a survey to distribute to your list of clients. Your survey should ask questions like the following:

Why did you initially choose to do business with us?
What is the best part about our process of doing business?
What is the worst part about our process of doing business?
If you could wave a magic wand, and, we as your supplier could offer any service or convenience, what would that be?
What would another supplier need to do to be able to “entice” you away from us?
If you were in charge of this company what would you do to best take care of your customers?
What prompted you to change suppliers the last time you did so?
Would you recommend us to your friends?
More importantly, DO you recommend us to your friends?

With the results of your survey, start thinking of what you can do to make doing business with you and your organization a treat, and not a terror. How can you be different? How can you improve? Do all the steps involved in doing business with you make sense? Do they add value to the relationship? Would you do business with you? (Tough question, but you have to ask and answer it!)

Products and services are abundant. Suppliers are everywhere. Just pick up the newspaper, the Yellow Pages, the phone, or open up your Internet browser. Create an experience of doing business that can’t be replicated, and serve your clients as if they were golden; because they are, and then you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Three Questions You Must Answer To Make The Sale

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Ultimately, if you are going to sell any product or service, there are three questions you must answer in your prospect’s mind. This is true whether you are selling face-to-face or running a display ad. No sale has ever been made without these questions being answered either directly or indirectly.

The first question is: Why should I buy?

This question is all about need. It is the sales professional’s responsibility to illustrate need to the prospect. You cannot wait for the prospect to realize that they need your product or service. You are the expert. You fully understand the benefits of your product and the needs and pains that your product or service addresses. Many times, someone just doesn’t understand his or her needs fully.

Perhaps you sell a product that will reduce someone’s cost or overhead. If the prospect doesn’t realize how high their costs are, or that there is a way of reducing them, then they will not know that they need your product. Long-term health insurance is a prime example of this. Many people in their thirties or even forties do not realize how expensive it is to care for an elderly person. They don’t realize the needs they either have or will have in the future. If you are in the business of selling long-term health care insurance it is your right and obligation to help people realize what their needs are.

Another aspect of this is that a need can be real or imagined. Imagined needs could be ego based rather than just on hard facts. Someone who is buying a car to get to work could use a Ford, but they feel that a Mercedes “looks good” on them. The need is imagined. The real need could be filled with any automobile.

The second question is: Why should I buy from you?

Unless you are a total exclusive in your industry, the only source, the only option, you must help your prospect determine that they must indeed do business with you. If you successfully illustrate a need for your prospect, and then are unable to answer this question, they will eventually invest in your product or service, but unfortunately they will use one of your competitors.

Why should someone buy from you? Here is a short checklist of areas you can use to answer this question in your prospects mind.

Expertise – The product and industry knowledge you posses
Bonding – The relationship you build with your prospect
Price – Low price, middle price, or high price – All can be a reason to buy from you
Security – The warranty or guarantee you offer your client
Quality – How your product stacks up against your competition
Solution – Your ability to apply your product’s/service’s benefits to the specific problem your prospect has
Service – The support you offer after the sale
Uniqueness – The way you differentiate yourself from your competition in exclusives and product/service packaging
Value – Overall relationship of what your offer compared to the investment

You must give your prospects as many “whys” to buy from you as possible.

The third question you must answer is: Why should I buy now?

If you have built up the need so that it is great enough in answering the first question, you will be ahead of the game here. Urgency is the biggest reason to buy now. The urgency may be based on need or it may be based on a promotion or sale you currently have running.

Everyone wants to stall making a decision. They are worried about making a bad choice or giving up their value, money. By applying a little urgency to the situation you are helping your prospect deal with the decision instead of procrastinating.

It is easier to deal with a “yes” or a “no” then to have to deal with, “I want to think it over.” Your ability to help your prospect make their decision and move forward is in their best interest as well. Now they can turn their focus to other issues they face and be efficient with their time.

Answer all three questions in your prospects mind, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Eliminate Objections and Increase Sales

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You close your sales opportunities 100% of the time when you make a
presentation, right? You don’t? Why not?

It’s a simple question with a simple answer: objections! People don’t buy
because they have objections. If, and only if you can overcome all of a
potential customer’s objections can you then close the sale.

I went to the baseball game last fall. My favorite team, the Cardinals,
were playing the Padres. It was a sold out game, and for the first time in a
very long time I went to the stadium without a ticket in hand. We hoped that
someone out front would be selling some extra tickets.

There were people everywhere. Boy was it crowded! But as expected, there were
several people buying and selling tickets, and the professional ticket scalpers
really stood out.

In addition to having a hand full of tickets, the scalpers had something else
that really caught my attention; a laminated seat diagram of the stadium. Can
you believe that?!

When buying a ticket there are two pieces of information that every buyer wants
to know, the price and the location. You can negotiate price all day long if
you like. The ticket will have a printed price and you can pay more or less
based on desire, availability of seats, and whether the game has started yet or
not.

The major objection that the scalper must deal with is location. If he says
the seat is in a good location, are you going to believe him? Maybe, or maybe
not.

By having a laminated seat diagram of the stadium, the scalper totally removes
this possible objection from the table. You can see where the seats are, and
you can immediately decide if you like them. He is now in a position to make
the sale.

Actually, by eliminating the location objection up front the scalper may be in
a stronger position to get a better price and make the sale.

Are you as prepared to eliminate your prospects objections and make the sale?

Here are three steps to better handling objections and closing the sale:

1. Bring Up The Objection First

If you know an objection comes up a lot, you should bring it up before your
prospect can. This will disarm them of this objection, and if you deal with it
properly it will eliminate the issue altogether.

For example, if you are selling a home and there are power lines nearby you
might talk about the fact that the power lines are on an easement and this
extra land behind the house will provide a buffer creating a quieter and more
enjoyable back yard.

No one is going to miss seeing the power lines back there. Beat the prospect
to the punch, and turn the possible objection into an advantage.

2. Know Your Competition

If you know your competition, then you will also know some of the issues that
your prospect will be thinking about.

Let’s say you sell health insurance, and your price is a little higher than
your main competitor. Your health plan includes some Term Life Insurance and
the competition doesn’t. With this information you are prepared to overcome a
possible price objection.

It is not enough to be well versed on the features and benefits of your
products; you must know your competitor’s features and benefits as well.

3. Know the Main Objections and be Prepared

Most sales professionals hear the same objections over and over. You should
know all of the possible objections that you will hear and have a prepared way
of dealing with each one.

Take the time and do your homework. List all possible ways of dealing with
these objections. My clients that are in a Mastermind Group share possible
solutions among themselves so that they are best prepared to deal with all
objections.

There is a difference between an objection and a condition. An objection is
based more on opinion. A condition is a situation that can’t be changed in the
short term. The only condition that should keep you from making the sale is if
your prospect doesn’t have any money or doesn’t have a way to get funds or
financing.

Some people see objections as barriers or stalls. You should be able to deal
with any objection that comes your way. Work proactively so that you are
prepared, and you will be on your way to closing more sales and Building A
Better Biz!

Give Them a Chance to Buy

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I recently registered a new URL. (It is http://www.samstips.com for those of you who are curious.) I used DomainBuddys.com to handle the transaction. When I purchased the URL, a screen came up that asked if I would like more information on tools that would add value to my new URL. I had the option of saying yes or saying no.

Right before hitting the final submit button there was a “special customer” offer that made one of their services available at greatly reduced prices. After the transaction was completed I was taken to a thank you screen where another offer appeared. This screen thanked me for the order and offered a special “Thank You” discount of 30% off of select additional services if ordered within the next 30 minutes.

There was no pressure. The offers were real, legitimate, and beneficial to me. I ordered two items and then went about my business. They turned a $9.00 sale into a $39.00 sale. Let’s see, that’s a 435% increase in business.

What did they do? They researched my needs. They knew, based on my original purchase that I probably had additional needs based on their prior experiences with other clients. They made offers to me that were very appealing. They let me choose between several offers. The choice presented to me wasn’t “do you want to buy or not” the question instead was “which items would you like to buy”? They gave me a reason to buy, the discount. And, they gave me a reason to buy now, the 30-minute promotion.

These guys are great at what they do. Are you?

In sales, if you are not in front of a customer, then you are unemployed. And, if you are not asking for the order, you are not doing your job. It’s basic, it’s simple, and these are the facts.

Look at your business. What possible add-ons could you offer to your clients? The first sale is the hardest. After that, you have a relationship with your clients and they will be willing and most likely eager to make additional purchases from you. You are not required to wait a long time before asking for the up-sell or to sell additional services and products.

Do you really know your clients needs? Great organizations know their clients current needs based on past experience, and because they go to the trouble to ask their clients. Don’t think you know everything. Once a year, ask your clients in a formal survey what their needs are, and you will be amazed.

Predict the future and you’ll most certainly be rich. If you know your industry and your clients, then work to understanding what their future needs might be. The better you can anticipate those needs, the better you will be able to beat your competition, take market share, and grow the value of your existing clients.

Know what your clients and potential clients need and desire, work to filling those needs, and ask for the order — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Synergistic Sales Growth™

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At the beginning of the year, many business professionals set sales goals as a way of building their business.  They might say, “I’m going to increase sales by 10% this year.”  If you want to make significant strides in your business this year I would suggest a different approach.

There are only four ways to increase sales.
1. You can increase the number of clients that you serve.
2. You can increase the average sale per client.
3. You can increase the number of sales or transactions per client per year.
4. You can increase your prices.

Instead of setting a goal to just increase sales, I would like to suggest a focused synergistic approach to your business growth.  Set a goal to increase all of the four areas by 10%.  The difference between these two models is astronomical!

Let’s say for example that your metrics look as follows:

200 clients
$1000.00 average sale per client
1 sale per year per client

Your annual sales would be $200,000.00.  If you increased sales by 10%, that would mean   your sales this year would increase by $20,000.00 for a total of $220,000.00.

Now let’s look at Synergistic Sales Growth (SSG).  Say that you increase each of the three major components listed above by 10%.  Your metrics would look like this:

220 clients
$1100.00 average sale per client
1.1 sales per year per client

This is where it gets exciting!  Your annual sales would be 230 x $1,100.00 x 1.1 or a total of $266,200.00.  That is an increase in sales of $66,200.00!

The SSG approach has you focus on all three components of your sales story.  By not focusing specifically on “sales” but rather the components that make it up, you will be able to create a far greater opportunity to accelerate the growth of your business.

First of all, let’s look at your clients.  You need to continually think about how you can increase the number of clients you serve.  Do you have a good referral program?  Are you prospecting enough?  Are your marketing efforts and investments supporting your growth desires?

Increasing your clients by 10% will allow you to reach the original sales goal you set for yourself in the first example.  But this is only the beginning.  Now analyze the average sale per client.  Are there ways of increasing how much you sell on an average order?  Are there add-on possibilities?

McDonalds asks you if you want fries or an apple pie with your order.  They also ask you if you want to “super size” the order.  Their additional costs are minimal compared to the additional revenues they generate.  Look at your products and services.  What additions can you add on?  What could your client use that would make what they have already invested in even better?

If you track how many times a year your clients make a purchase, (and you should), then you are taking a step in the right direction.  Now I want you to think about ways to increase that number.

I go to get my hair cut every four or five weeks.  If I go every five weeks that translates into 10.4 hair cuts a year.  If I go every four weeks, then that translates into 13.0 cuts a year.  The difference is 1.6 cuts a year.  This doesn’t seem like much, but if a stylist has 200 clients and charges $30.00 a cut, not counting any possible additional services such as manicures, color, perms, etc. then the additional revenue of making sure their clients get their hair cut every four weeks would equal $8,400.00 per year!

Instead of waiting for the clients call to make an appointment to get a hair cut, the stylist should be calling and setting appointments based on the optimal length of time that each client prefers.  This means more money for the stylist and even better service provided for the client.  Everyone wins!

So you see how SSG can have an incredible impact on your bottom line.  There is one factor that I left out, –the raising of prices.

Most business people that I know hate to raise prices.  They are worried about their competition, what their clients will think, or what the market will bear.  Although all of these concerns are valid, I find that most business people are just scared.

When they finally do get around to raising prices, they have lost months and even years of additional profits and opportunities.  Also, by waiting a long time to raise prices you sometimes have to raise them so much to get them back in line that you upset your client with this huge increase.

Your quality and service must always justify your price.  If in the above example we raised prices by just 5% then the total sales figure would be $279,510.00.  Now that is a year worth having!

Look at the four areas you can increase your business.  Work diligently on all f of them, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Business.

Staying Focused In A Fragmented World

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A recent Gallop poll revealed that 71 percent of workers are “not engaged” in their work. The longer a worker stays with a company the more disengaged they become. They begin to sabotage the company’s efforts, look for ways to hide out rather than produce, and lose interest in the organization’s success.

Here are five ways for you to stay focused and to keep those working with you engaged as well.

1. Have a mission that is bigger than you

It is easy to fall into the trap of driving a business by and for the bottom line. “We need to increase profitability,” is the battle cry of many a manager or owner. The truth is that most people do not care about the company’s profits unless they are part of a profit sharing program, or have heavy incentives.

The mission needs to be bigger than money. Providing the most unbelievable customer service in the industry, providing the highest return on investment, or creating the reputation for being the best in the class all provide a cause that people can rally around.

People want and need a cause. They want to excel and earn more, but most of the time money alone is not enough. If your mission is big enough, you will attract others to it and your road to success will become immensely easier.

2. Create short-term goals

Short-term success can be a real boost to morale. By having weekly, daily, and sometimes even hourly goals we can measure and gauge our success. Do you know what you want to accomplish this week? Do you know what you want to get done by the end of the day?

Think back over the past year. What are the two or three most productive days you’ve had? Were they “Mondays” when you were trying to dig out from a weekend off and a list of phone calls to make? Did those days come mid-week as things were cruising along? Were they “Fridays” as your week came to a close?

If you are like most people, I would be willing to bet a lot of money that your most productive days were the single days that fell right before you left your office for vacation. The reason that those specific days are so productive is because you have defined tasks and defined deadlines. Those defined deadlines become your short-term goals. If you have to return five phone calls, submit a report, and finish a proposal for a major account before you can leave town, you get it done.

This Herculean effort is possible because you have such specific goals with specific deadlines that force you to ignore anything going on around you. You stay focused. This is the mind set that you should work toward achieving on a regular basis.

3. Reward successes

Whether you are dealing with employees or just yourself, it is great to reward your successful endeavors. Determine the reward ahead of time, and then use the reward as an additional motivator.

What do you really want? What is a realistic and appropriate level of performance that will justify a specific reward? A reward may be as simple as a half-day off, or buying yourself a small gadget that you’ve been wanting. If you are dealing with a major project that may have significant bottom line impact, your reward could be larger.

If you reward your successes and celebrate them you will find that your energy and attention will grow for your next project.

4. Be accountable to others

It is real easy to procrastinate or to have good intentions but never quite get the job done. Share your goals with others. Now you are in a position to have to work towards them. It is great to be accountable to yourself, but it is even more powerful with you are accountable to others.

Sometimes I share goals with my wife, children, or other professionals. I am a member of a mastermind group. We meet monthly and share our business plans and goals. This creates a high level of accountability. If you have a business coach, you may find accountability there that will help keep you focused and on track.

5. Focus on “why” not just “how”

Too often we just focus on the “what’s” and the “how’s.” When someone knows the true reason why something is being done, a whole new light is shed on the issue.

A job may seem boring or a waste of time. Once you understand why you are doing something, a new significance to it is born. A meaningless task becomes important when you find out it leads to someone’s success or well-being.

If you are in business and you are dealing with your activities, remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. If the “why” is not good enough to keep you focused, then maybe it is time for some new “why’s” in your life.

Don’t let your employees or yourself slowly slip away from the focus and excitement of your business. Stay engaged. Work on all five techniques, and you will be on the road to being accountable for your organizations success.

Change… The Order Of The Universe

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SIX STEPS TO BETTER CHANGE MANAGEMENT

In a theology class at a major university a professor told her students that each week they would study a different piece of ancient text. On Monday, the professor would give her interpretation of the text, and on Wednesday, one of the students would give their interpretation of the same text.The professor would then drill the student unmercifully. Students began to panic with the thought of being chosen. One Monday the professor presented her ideas and thoughts on the weekly text assignment. One of the students, Joe, took copious notes. On Wednesday Joe was called on to discuss the text. Joe presented the exact same interpretation on Wednesday as the professor had given on Monday. When Joe was finished the professor stood up and said, “That is the worst interpretation of this passage that I have ever heard!” Joe was bewildered. He said, “How could my interpretation be so bad? It was exactly the same as yours was on Monday.” “Yes,” said the professor, “but I have changed since Monday. I have grown.”

To be competitive today we cannot continue to do things the way we did them last year, last month, and in some cases, last Monday. Scientists have shown that our universe is constantly expanding. If the universe in which we live is growing, expanding, and changing, it would be naive to think that we can just sit still. Change is the essence of progress. Not only must we change to progress, but because so much is changing around us, we must change just to maintain.

So, we know that we need to change and change at a more rapid pace. The question becomes, how do we face change? How do we deal with change and use it as an ally? Below are six steps that will help you better manage the changes that are thrust upon you, and also help you create your own changes that will lead to significant growth and achievement.

Expand Your Knowledge Base

One reason that so many people have difficulties with change is fear. We fear the unknown. We fear what we are not familiar with. It is only natural to want to continue to do what we have always done. To address our fears it is critical to strive for continual education. As we learn and grow we will be best able to face our fears and try new things.

My daughter, Allison, loves to play soccer. At first she was reluctant to play with some of the older girls. After several weeks of soccer camp and intense training Allison developed excellent skills. Once Allison realized how proficient she was, Allison was willing to try competing against girls that were several years older then her.

By expanding your knowledge base you will gain new skills and techniques. You will naturally find applications for these skills over time. You will also gain an inner strength and confidence that will allow you to face and implement the changes you need and want to make.

Study Change In Others

Vicarious learning is the easiest and fastest way to learn anything. Learning from other people and their experiences is a trait of many very successful people. You can learn in many ways from studying changes that other companies make. You can see how change has worked for them. If it has been positive, you learn about the benefits that change brings. If they have struggled, you can learn what to avoid and increase the chances of your success.

When McDonalds went from only serving lunch and dinner to offering breakfast, that was a big change. McDonalds changed a significant portion of their business model. Due to that change their business had significant growth. Companies create new market niches with their changes. Sometimes, a completely new industry is born out of change. As you continue to study how other companies have changed you will be less adverse to change, and you will also gain insights and ideas that will make your changes results oriented and successful.

Seek Excellence Not Perfection

Some people are caught up in the trap of trying to be perfect. Since there is always some risk associated with change these individuals are less likely to try anything new and take the chance of being less then perfect. We can never be perfect. Even great baseball players strike out a significant amount of the time. But, great baseball players continually strive to improve, to be the best they can be, and to achieve great things. Excellence is achievable. Excellence is born out of a desire to grow and achieve. Change is a natural component of reaching for excellence.

Examine your activities. Are they structured to move you towards excellence? What one thing can you do today that will move you closer to the picture of excellence that you have for yourself? Try and put one activity on your daily planner that will help you achieve excellence. You may not notice any changes today or even this week, but over time you will see tremendous growth and many positive results.

Ask The Question

The question that you should be continually asking yourself is, “How can I do this differently?” You notice that I didn’t say, “How can I do this better?” I want you to create as many possible ideas for change as possible. After you create the ideas, then you can evaluate them for feasibility, potential of success, and significance to the growth and well being of your organization.

By continually asking yourself “How can I do this differently?” your mind will always be seeking the answers to that question. You will be amazed at the amount of creative change ideas you generate. Take the best ideas and look for ways to make them happen.

Communicate

Communication is where so many organizations fall short. Environmental change, change that comes from outside of us, change that we don’t initiate ourselves, is the most difficult to deal with. Frustration comes from not being in control. Your team members need to be informed on what is happening. Everyone on the team should be educated as to the challenges the organization is facing, changes that are being forced on you, and changes that you are initiating. Get their input. Ask for their ideas. Train everyone around you to create and suggest ideas for change, and give them the responsibility, and the safe environment, to implement those ideas.

Nobody likes surprises. By working hard at keeping all the channels of communication open your team members will feel a greater sense of belonging on the team, and your challenge of change will be easier.

Start Small But Think Big

Infants crawl before they walk, and they walk before they run. Treat change the same way. As you look to implement change into your daily routine, look for small areas you can tackle first. Successfully implement small changes first and then move forward to larger and larger projects. As you discover the power change creates, you will find yourself actually seeking change ideas and people that can both create these ideas and implement them.

Sometimes we create change internally in order to establish a competitive advantage. Sometimes we face environmental change, changes forced on us by government, our competition, or other uncontrollable sources. When faced with environmental change, the key is to focus on our reaction, our response. Since we cannot control the source in that situation, focusing on it will only cause frustration and anxiety. Focus on what you can control. You can control your attitude towards change. You can control the changes you create and implement in order to deal with changes forced on you.

Just like the eternal expansion of our universe, change is a constant. Do you fight it, accept it, or seek it? Those who seek change create amazing futures, futures filled with opportunity for growth and amazing results. Be a change seeker.

Smarketing™ – Creativity Counts

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The American Heritage Dictionary defines marketing as: The commercial functions involved in transferring goods from producer to consumer. Simple enough. As marketers, we know it goes much deeper than that. To be successful, one must find ways to surpass just transferring goods. What adjective could accompany marketing to define what it takes to make marketing actually work?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines smart as follows: 1.a. Characterized by sharp, quick thought; bright. See Synonyms at intelligent. b. Amusingly clever; witty: a smart quip; a lively, smart conversation. 2. Energetic or quick in movement.

Alone, these words represent two different ideas. Together, they are a very powerful and useful business tool. Smarketing kicks the proverbial box that we’re always asked to think outside of to the curb and forces us to change the way we think about transferring goods to consumers. With the introduction of electronic media and the Internet into the business community, it is safe to say a billboard isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Smarketing, as I define it, is the creative application of organizational resources designed to produce dynamic marketing results. These resources are:

  • Technology
  • Time
  • Money
  • People
  • Information (Knowledge)
  • Fixed Assets

Below are two powerful Smarketing concepts.

Enterprising is a smarketing term for leveraging your database to generate passive bottom line dollars. In other words you can use the information you know about your customers to have other people and companies generate you profits!

Let’s say that you are in the remodeling business. You sell replacement windows and siding. You don’t install new roofs, or do interior work such as kitchens. You can arrange a strategic marketing alliance with a roofing company and an interior remodeling company. These companies would market their products and services to your customers and you would receive a commission for every sale they made to one of your customers.

Your customer list contains valuable avenues for business that maybe outside the products and services you offer. For example, if you are in the plumbing supply business and your customers are plumbers what other products or service do your customers need? The answers to this question would point you toward possible organizations that you can partner with to generate enterprising dollars that take little or no effort on your part to create!

Cycle Timing is a smarketing term for anticipating your customers regular product or service needs and then contacting them in advance to secure the business.

I get a hair cut every four or five weeks yet I have never received a phone call from by stylist to set an appointment. He waits for my call. The difference between my getting my hair cut every 5 weeks, 10 times a year, and every 4 week, 13 times a year, is $75.00 revenue to the stylist. If the stylist has 200 clients that would be a loss of revenue equal to $15,000.00 a year!

Some automobile dealers do a fair job of cycle timing by sending out service reminder cards. The only problem is they don’t accurately account for your specific driving milage history and sometimes a postcard just isn’t enough. A call would cement the process and garner a service appointment on their behalf. If the average dealer has 1000 service customers that drive an average of 15,000 miles a year the difference between getting an oil change every 3,000 miles, on a timely basis, or going 1000 miles over the recommended service interval is the difference between selling five oil changes a year and four oil changes a year. That translates into $20,000 lost revenue! This figure doesn’t include the additional service that would be sold when a customer brings their car in for the standard oil change.

Cycle Timing and Enterprising are just two smarketing techniques that will help you build your business and add profitability. Most companies have a limited amount of resources. It is critical that we leverage these resources, that we stretch our marketing dollars until they scream! Sure, if you have an unlimited advertising budget you can buy TV time during the Superbowl but most companies are not in that position. Ask yourself the question, “How can I more effectively use my existing resources to generate the results I desire?” This question will begin the process of leading you into the creative world of Smarketing.

A recent casino advertisement promoting their frequent guest card was giving away valuable gifts and bonus credits if you signed up for their free card and gave them your frequent guest card from the competing casino. The new casino was building their customer base and eliminating the competition. That’s Smarketing!

Smarketing™

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CREATE YOUR MEMORABLE MARKETING MESSAGE

Knowing exactly what business you are in may be the single most important factor in jump starting your marketing efforts. So often, companies see themselves as selling specific products or providing specific services. These specificities, in effect, become blinders on their vision and greatly limit the potential growth of their businesses.

Smarketing is all about creative marketing and leveraging organizational resources. In order to maximize every marketing dollar you invest, it is critical to fully understand what you do and for whom you do it. Marketing then becomes the process of transferring that knowledge to the market place and converting this knowledge, along with customers needs, into profitable business.

The knowledge of your core business activity can best be summarized in a Memorable Marketing Message™. This statement is comprised of two pieces of information:

  • What do you do.
  • For whom do you do it.

The memorable marketing message does not deal with how. The how can change over time as new opportunities present themselves. You don’t sell cosmetics. You help people enhance their appearance. You don’t sell software. You work with companies that want to increase operating efficiencies. You don’t book speakers. You work with organizations that want greater education opportunities for their employees and with companies that need assistance creating the best convention ever!

Most companies get trapped into the mistake of only dealing with the how. In analyzing your business, you should determine where your potential customer’s greatest pain is and then determine what you do to deal with or ease that pain. Removal of that pain, filling a need, is what people and companies invest in.

There are three critical reasons for developing your own memorable marketing message.

1. A memorable marketing message enables you to maximize your marketing dollars. — By thoroughly understanding what you do and for whom you do it, you are best able to get maximum impact for every dollar invested in marketing. Knowing your specific target enables you to advertise directly to people and organizations that can buy! Your direct mail pieces, TV ads, newspaper ads and other advertising vehicles are all focused on your specific what and who. This marketing focus or power will greatly enhance your bottom line results.

2. A memorable marketing message enables you to maximize networking opportunities. — Most people want help eliminating their pain and will be interested in hearing how you go about doing that. Let’s examine the printing industry. What would be your response when someone asks you, “What do you do?” Do you say, “I am a printer” or “I work with business people looking to increase their marketing exposure and earn more dollars from their marketing investment?” Which phrase is more limiting? Stay away from limits. All business people want greater market exposure and increased profits. Now you can tell this prospect the how. Your printing services enable you to deliver on this promise.

3. A memorable marketing message enables you to maximize possible revenue opportunities. — Take, for example, the railroad industry earlier this century. What business were they in? If you asked them, they would tell you that they were in the railroad business. They should have said the transportation business. Because railroad business was their mind set, when airplanes came along, the railroad companies ignored an opportunity. Airplanes have become the market dominate force in transporting people and are also incremental in mail and express delivery.

I would say that the railroads worked with businesses that needed to transport products to and from the market place and they worked with people who needed to travel. With this memorable marketing message, the what they did would drive their marketing and planning instead of the how they did it. The railroad companies are still a factor in today’s transportation business, but not to the extent they used to be or could be.

In our printing business example earlier, you can see that by not being tied into a specific how, you would recognize that printing is not all that you can do to increase your clients’ exposure. Maybe you sell web sites, either produced through your company or through a joint venture. The internet can increase market exposure and boost the bottom line. You see, now your creativity is freed to develop many hows to take to market.

By understanding what you do and for whom you do it, you create a powerful base on which to build your entire marketing program. Smarketing necessitates efficiency. Your memorable marketing message will help you create an efficient, yet powerful marketing attack as you begin to implement other Smarketing techniques.

I am Sam Silverstein. I work with business professionals who want to sell more, build their business, and increase income.