Mom’s Rules ? ? ?

What a year! It seems as though every time I turn around, I’m trying something new. Last year, I didn’t know what a blog was, now I have one, post regularly, have readers, read others, and comment when appropriate (and sometimes when it’s not.) A while ago, Pete Caputa introduced me to Tim Grahl and to Dane Carlson.

OK, so all these introductions led to my latest “something new”, being interviewed for a podcast. What’s a podcast? If you click here, you will be able to listen to me being interviewed by Tim for broadcast by Dane. Confused? Just turn your sound up and click the link. Then click on listen now.

Marketing vs. Selling (As Promised)

Of all the people that read Marketing vs. Selling during the last week, one person voted that they liked it. One person voted that they didn’t like it. I assume that the rest didn’t care. Doug commented. Pete commented. Thank you, Doug and Pete.

Recently, Seth Godin wrote that “there’s close to zero trust of marketers these days“. But honestly, in addition to “marketers”, don’t stereotypical consumers distrust salespeople, mechanics, lawyers, and many others? Aren’t consumers advised to get “second opinions” from other doctors when it’s an important or difficult diagnosis? He also made an interesting observation about receptionists. How would you like to be responsible for marketing a company and/or it’s product and have all of your efforts negated by an ineffective receptionist? This is the reason that I advise all my clients to leave a direct number when prospecting. You may only get one chance with a prospect and you don’t want the receptionist to blow it.

Pete starts to delineate some differences here.

Tim Grahl is noticing that if he wants to be in the marketing business, he needs to learn how to sell.

Philippe makes a valid point.

Dave talks about a confused salesperson who doesn’t know the difference between marketing and selling in this post and about the importance of GOOD salespeople in this one.

I thought that I’d talk about the definition of marketing that I learned in college. I thought I’d talk about advertising, public relations, the four P’s, and all the other marketing terms and compare them to the definition of the word, “sales”, but I got bored just thinking about it.

I thought about comparing the difference between sales and marketing to the difference between a psychologist and a sociologist, the difference between a tutor and a classroom teacher or the difference between a personal coach and an exercise/sport instructor, but the analogy wasn’t perfect.

Each of the pairs above has one person that deals typically with individuals and one that deals with groups. If each is to be effective, they need specific education. Whether dealing with groups or individuals a professional will have a target. Don’t personal trainers target either older or younger, fitter or fatter, prone to injury vs very healthy? Teachers teach a specific grade level, subject, or may even work only with the “smart” kids.

But then, on Sunday, the answer came to me. I was at the beach and one of those planes flew buy towing the banner that said something like “Big party at the pier, tonight. Come one. Come all.” I’m sure that somebody saw that sign and decided to go to the party. Later, as we were driving home, we stopped at the liquor store. This knockout blonde was standing in the middle of the aisle with a table and some liquor samples to taste. As soon as I tasted, she told me that they were on special that day for $16.95. I thanked her. Bought what I had stopped for. Checked her out again as I left and wondered if anybody had bought any of her stuff that day.

I wouldn’t call either the pilot of that plane, or the blonde in the liquor store a salesperson. Were they promoting? Definitely. Did people buy? Probably. Were they “sold”? No. Predisposed? Sure. I bought $50 worth of gas earlier Sunday. What influenced my buying decision? The station was across the street from the place that I was picking up my pizza. Incidentally, I called ahead for my pizza. How did I decide where to call? Because Pizza by Alex is the best pizza in Maine and I’m not the only one who thinks so. I didn’t care about price, promotion, or place. I didn’t care about what others thought. I wanted the product. Most of us make several buying decisions every day that are based solely on marketing. Marketing sells, but only to a point.

Sometimes marketing doesn’t give a potential consumer EVERYTHING that they need to make the buying decision. In these instances someone has to ask the prospect, “Why?” in some form or other and finish the process. Marketing did nothing wrong. This prospect needed some human contact and preferably not the kind offered by Seth’ receptionist example.

Sometimes marketing prediposes consumers. Look at all the car ads. Seriously, have you ever watched the commercial, called the dealership and said, “Just saw the commercial. Send me a blue one.”? Probably not. Let’s pretend that when you went to the dealership, there were no salespeople, just a desk top computer with instructions on how to order your car or what if there were no dealership, but you could log onto the manufacturer’s website at home and order your car to be delivered in a few days. Would you? Could you?

I just realized that everything that I’ve written to this point has been written to “save” the relationship between salespeople and marketers. Grow up! It’s all about the prospect! If the prospect will make a buying decision based solely on a website, an ad, a sample, location, or some other marketing factor, then marketing doesn’t need sales. If a salesperson can take a brand new, unknown, un-packaged product and help the prospect discover a compelling need, create urgency and develop S.O.B. with the prospect without any help from a marketing effort, and the prospect buys, so be it.

As you can tell,  got bored with this post, but I posted it because I promised it. If you make a comment that’s a question, I’ll reply. If you send me a question by email, I’ll reply privately. I just don’t want to write any more.

Collection Problems = Sales Problems

Those of you who know me well have already heard this. I am fortunate to be able to say that I was one of Dave Kurlan’s first clients. I was a sponge. I attended training classes for years and practiced non-stop. If you read my Burkinshaw Law bio, you’ll read that “I realized that the techniques and tools used by a professional salesperson with a prospective customer were exactly the same techniques and tools that were used by a professional debt collector with a debtor. So I founded a collection agency. Over the next 20 years, I developed a very loyal client base, got some publicity (the 13th entry here) and from Smartfast. I also worked with Matt Burkinshaw to found his Burkinshaw Law and my clients continue to be happy there.

Here’s the meat! After dealing with 1000’s of debtors, I realized that more often than not, I was cleaning up after a salesperson had made a “mistake”. Check out my expanded David Kurlan & Associates bio. Think about it. Twenty years of hearing this from customers who became debtors.

“The salesman told me three days, it took 3 weeks.”
“The salesman told me he’d throw that in.”
“The salesman didn’t tell me that the payments were due on the first.”
“The salesman told me he’d hold the check for a week.”

How about these from my clients who were small business owners?

“I bent over backwards for this customer, special delivery, extra samples, special terms….”
“I gave this customer a special introductory price as an attempt to get the rest of their business….”
“It took me six months to have a 10 minute conversation with this customer. They didn’t return calls. They stood me up. They ignored me, but I was persistent and got the business….”
“We were excited when we landed this customer. The biggest sale in the history of the company. This one customer was 50% of last year’s sales….”
“….and now none of these customers are paying me.”

And how about those idiot sales managers talking to their salespeople?

“Get the business whatever it takes.”
“Get the business, we’ll worry about capacity after.”

I can tell you that every collection problem, that’s right, EVERY one stems back to a sales problem.

If a salesperson doesn’t explain EVERYTHING (terms, delivery, service, etc.), we have no right to hold the customer responsible and the company has a collection problem.

If a salesperson DOES explain EVERYTHING (terms, delivery, service, etc.), but the customer doesn’t hear it, listen to it, or fully agree with it, we have no right to hold the customer responsible and the company has a collection problem.

If a salesperson does explain EVERYTHING (terms, delivery, service, etc.), and the customer does hear, listen, and agree, but they’re lying, we ABSOLUTELY have the right to hold the customer responsible and the company has a collection problem, but we absolutely have the right to FIRE our salesperson if they don’t fix their inadequacies. And, if they knew the customer was lying and took the deal anyway, I’d fire them immediately.

It is always the salesperson’s fault. They have no right to write bad business (whether they know it’s bad or not). They have no right to skip details that are important to customer satisfaction and retention. They have no right to help a customer steal from their employers. If I sound harsh, think about this. Hundreds of my clients are small business owners. One man shows, sole practitioners, small partnerships and closely held corporations. We’re talking MILLIONS OF DOLLARS! Do you think that those small business owners might like to avoid that whole problem? Do you think that they would have liked to get all that money without having to pay me?

That’s why I’m passionate about making strong salespeople. That’s why I have no patience for mediocre or crooked salespeople. I don’t do bad deals for my employers and I don’t want anybody in my circle to do bad deals for themselves or their employers.

Bottom line is, “Sell what you deliver and deliver what you sell.” If you’re not strong enough, get help and if you’re not committed enough to get help, tell your boss that you quit and if you are the boss, hire a good salesperson.

Don’t Assume

Last night, I attended the Fun at Five networking event hosted by Fine Lines and sponsored by Savers Bank. It was hot, but not just because the shop wasn’t air conditioned. It was hot because of the networking that was going on. Paul LaFlamme was their teasing everybody about an upcoming announcement. Mike Brady was there, but that’s no surprise because he’s all over all the time. I also had a very interesting conversation with the soon to be owners of a new catering business (more to follow when they’re official) about Goose Rocks Beach. I think that I may have met someone who loves that place as much as I do.

OK. Here’s the explanation for the title. I also hung out for a while with Cindy Skowyra. As you probably know, Cindy IS the Worcester Chamber. She’s everywhere. She’s an awesome networker. She is a person that people seek out. So, I ask, “Cindy, how come you don’t go to Pete Caputa‘s Art, Wine and Networking events?” She says, that nobody’s ever invited her.

Pete! Right now! Invite Cindy! Get the October date on her calendar! Talk about obvious. Cindy will triple attendance! She’s the man! Well, you know.

And the lesson is, “Don’t assume.” Don’t assume that the best networker in Worcester County has been invited. Don’t assume that the pretty girl won’t dance with you. Don’t assume that the big client won’t buy from you. Don’t assume anything. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask.

Marketing vs. Selling

This post is under construction. I expect that once done, it will be long. I hope that it will be interesting. Let me share the “seed”.

I’ve known marketers that couldn’t sell their way out of a paper bag. I’ve known salespeople that think marketing is all about advertising and supporting the sales effort. (I’ve also know salespeople that couldn’t sell their way out of a paper bag, but that’s another post!) So, I intend to dilineate the duties and responsibilities of each as well as suggest the “ideal” relationship. I expect to do some research and as part of that research, I’m suggesting that you comment with any opinions that you may have. Your comments will not only be posted, but will be incorporated into the final post.

Thank you for reading. Thank you, in advance, for waiting. Now, please comment. Incidentally, if you like the idea of planting the “seed” like this, gathering comments, and posting the final later, vote that you liked this post. If not, vote that you disliked this post.

Deborah’s Top Ten

Pete Caputa has me watching 34 blogs. That’s right 34, but 34 is nothing. Ask him how many he watches. Anyway, one of them directed me to my 35th. Deborah Schultz has come up with a Top Ten List of Phrases that she uses with regard to community marketing. As I’m reading them, I found myself thinking, “I ask that when I’m selling.” Rather than paraphrase or plagiarize, I’ll just suggest that you check out her list yourself.

One way to learn is to explore. As I explored her blog, I found two other posts that you should check out while you’re there.

Engagement reminded me of how many times I here salespeople make crappy, un-engaging introductory phone calls that end within seconds with “I’m not interested.” or dial tone.

Reputation points out a basic problem with all small business owners. It’s not, “How can I keep my customers happy and develop a good reputation with them?” It should be, “How can I keep this customer happy and develop a good reputation with him/her?

Thank you Deborah. I’ll be watching.

Discomfort on Sales Calls

Sometimes stuff happens that makes you think, “That was important!”

I really don’t like making people uncomfortable, but if the people are prospects, it’s probably necessary, and what I like or don’t like doesn’t matter. A client’s discomfort will typically increase the closer that you get to the root of the problem. At first, the answers to your questions may come easily, casual, even flip. As you delve deeper, you may have to re-ask questions or re-phrase questions because the prospect will not hear them or dodge them in an attempt to not answer. At the deepest level, you may find that your prospect is conflicted between what they want to do and what they must do.

What would you do if you helped a prospect realize that they had to buy from you, because if they didn’t, they would probably go out of business? But what if everybody realizes that the prospect really does want to go out of business? Would you let them go out of business or would you tell them they were crazy and that they should stay and buy from you? What would you tell your boss?

In the grand scheme of things, whether or not a prospect buys from you, today, may not change the world. But remember that your questions might start them thinking and thinking and thinking and realize that they need to make a major change. Watch their level of discomfort.

That will be important.

Sales Lesson or Life Lesson?

My wife and I had to go to a wake in Connecticut this evening. On the way down, my wife wanted to stop at the Christmas Tree Shop in Buckland Hills to get some ideas on picture frames. We did. She did. It was 6 PM. I hadn’t eaten since a light lunch at noon and we weren’t going to be eating dinner until after 8 PM. So, I bought a can of mixed nuts to munch on during the rest of our drive to the funeral home.

A few miles down the road, we’re both enjoying the nuts and sipping our Dasanis and I said, “Boy, that was a good idea! Huh?” (The nuts were really hitting the spot!)

She replied, “Yeah! That red is gonna be perfect!”

It took me a minute to realize that she was talking about the frames that she found. She still doesn’t have a clue that I was talking about the nuts!

Now, you have to admit that in this situation, it’s pretty funny, but on a sales call, it’s not funny if it doesn’t get corrected. It is the salesperson’s responsibility to assure total communication on a sales call. Ask questions. Re ask. Make sure the answers make sense.

As for my wife, I think she liked the nuts, but the frames were perfect!

Success Secret #5

How do you know when it’s OK to break the rules when you’re selling? How do you know that the prospect is asking the real question? How do you know that the prospect is telling the truth?

How about some examples?

So, I ask the receptionist, “Is Paul in?”. She asks, “Who may I say is calling?” I say, “Rick Roberge from David Kurlan & Associates.” She asks, “What is this about?” I say, “Sales development.” She says, “We’re all set.” and hangs up.

Or, I can follow the rules and do this: “Hi, this is Rick Roberge, is Paul in?” She asks, “Where are you calling from?” I say, “Westboro.” She says, “Hold on.” She comes back and says, “He picked up a call before she could get to him.” I asked, should I leave my number with you, or go to voicemail.” She says, “I’ll take it.” I give my name and number (no company). She asks, “May I tell him what this is about?” I reply, “I wish I knew. Hopefully he’ll be able to help when he calls.”

In case you don’t believe this, Pete Caputa, Paul LaFlamme and Steve Crowe watched it happen and heard both sides of the conversation. Incidentally, my target, Paul, the managing partner of a good size CPA firm called back 2 hours later.

In the first hypothetical but very realistic example, I didn’t follow the rules and I was dead in the water. In the second, I was in control, and got my phone call returned. I don’t have to answer the receptionist’s questions just because she asked them. I’m calling to talk to her boss and it’s er job to put me through.

The rules say to ask questions, get a compelling reason and create urgency. If your prospect says, “Hey, I’m short on time. Let’s get right to it. What can you do for me?” The rules don’t change. You can either follow them or ignore them. But if you ignore them, you run the risk of hearing, “That was nice, but we don’t need it.”

The rules say to get the prospect’s budget. If you don’t get their budget, be prepared for, “Oh, we didn’t figure on that. We don’t have that in our budget.”

So, back to the question, “How do you know when it’s OK to break the rules when you’re selling?” Maybe never, but definitely not TODAY. The rules are designed to keep you in control. If you break the rules, you run the risk of handing control over to the prospect. If you do, whose agenda rules? Whose system will get used? Who gets to ask about money? Who’s gonna control price, timeline, etc. The prospect.

So, when do you break the rules? Never or not today. You pick.