Can Inbound Learn from Retail?

I was reading about Carole Mahoney’s mutated sales funnel and reflected back on some of the experiences that we’ve all had with retail salespeople.

Carole talks about TOFU, MOFU and BOFU. Remember the last time that you walked into a retail store? When the salesperson saks, “Can I help you?”, what do you say? Is your response a clear indication of your location in the funnel or are you hiding information because the salesperson hasn’t earned your trust yet?
Carole also suggests that where prospects are in the funnel is an indication of what they know and how close they are to buying. This is where people can really get in trouble. Julie commented on my last post that she’s just trying to save everybody time, but she’s assuming that she knows what she needs and she may not know all that the salesperson knows. She may be trying to buy the wrong solution.
Finally, think about all the ways that a prospect could find you. Are they finding you because you’re advertising a low price on something that you want to use to bait and switch them? Are they finding you because you’re advertising more coils, more knots or more of an item that you’ve private labelled so they can’t comparison shop? Are they finding you because they found a great article, but they’re not looking to buy a solution because they’re looking to do it themselves?
Anything else?

My Rant on Liars, Thieves and SMS

I belong to 47 46 groups on LinkedIn. Some are fairly large (>100K members) and consequently have a lot of activity. Usually over 100 new discussions per day accompanied by over 100 comments per day. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always have the time to sift through 100+ titles to find the one or two discussions that are worth reading.
Take this example. It started this way.

“Do you have a company on Facebook? Let’s Network! Post your FB link here and so we can remember to return the like
Started by ________”

It’s had 22 comments, most of which obliged by entering their Facebook link. Here’s two of the most recent comments.
“I too have “liked” all of the sites that I have a page listed. Thank you to the two of you who have reciprocated thus far!”

“Finally added a cover picture to my Facebook page: _________ I’ve liked all of your pages so far. Some reciprocal “Likes” would be nice.
First, doesn’t the initial entry represent fraud? Isn’t the intention to ‘fake’ a following? Maybe you should read this article?
Second, don’t the comments indicate that some of the commenters want to be ‘liked’, but don’t want to ‘like’? Are they saying that they don’t want to lie, but don’t mind if you do?
Seriously, how can you tell the difference between a real ‘like’ and a lie ‘like’? Caveat emptor!
It’s not just happening on LinkedIn. Did you see this article about Un-Selling using Twitter?
Another example of misuse of the discussion groups might be a good example of SMS (Social Media Stupidity). Don’t get me wrong. There are some great blogs and some awesome articles, but many of them are just sales pitches. In many cases, the pitch isn’t even veiled. It’s blatant, obvious and typically has no place being used to start a discussion. Why do they do it? Because it’s free and they can. Bravo to the group managers that delete the sales pitches. (but shame on those managers that delete everyone’s sales pitches but their own. )
One last rant and example of SMS. How about those people that don’t know who their audience is or where they hang out? Even if they happen to write an article that has some content in it, placement matters. Are you writing to attract potential customers or are you writing to educate your competitors? If you’re trying to attract customers, why are you posting to your industry groups? I join groups that my clients join. So, my stuff is going to be seen by more people like them. Isn’t it interesting that members of those groups write articles that would attract customers, but are shared with their competitors.
So, let me close with two thoughts.
  1. If this doesn’t put some companies out of business, lying, stealing or SMS probably will.
  2. Clearly, this isn’t a complete list. What’s your pet peeve? Post it in the comments or write an article about it and include the link.
Thanks for reading and don’t let it get to you!

Techniques for Effective Sales Coaching (Part 2)

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned my tennis coach. My tennis coach was also my General Science teacher and my Chemistry teacher. Why is that important? He knew me outside of the coach/player roles and knew my background, study/practice habits, intelligence, etc and could use that information when he coached me. Evaluating a salesperson prior to coaching allows the coach and the salesperson to be effective from the first day.

Here’s another example from tennis. The coach needs to get the player to practice. I spent hours playing tennis solitaire with walls. I mixed it up and never got tired of hitting a tennis ball with my racket whether or not I could find another human being to play with. Some sales stuff can be practiced out in the real world. Starting conversations, asking questions, engaging with people, etc. can all be practiced in everyday life. Practicing in non-selling situations will help your salespeople keep from getting emotionally involved in their sales calls. Get your salespeople role playing at lunch with co-workers. Lunch changes the dynamic of the role play. Allow the prospect to be as off the wall as they want, but keep the salesperson real and in role. If your salesperson can keep his cool with a whacked out co-worker, he’ll be more likely to stay cool with a real prospect.
One more point for today. Yesterday, I posted “Why Marketing Will Put You Out of Business“. Coach needs to understand how prospects get in front of the salesperson. What bait is used? What issues have they shared? How nurtured are they? The coach uses this information to help the salesperson understand the mindset of the prospect and tailor his approach so that the prospect remains receptive.

More to follow….
BTW, you want to feel what it’s like to be coached by me? Contact me.

Techniques for Effective Sales Coaching (Part 1)

Last night, I read Carole Mahoney’s post about the ineffectiveness of sales scripts. It got me thinking and wow, is there a lot to think about. So much so, that I’ve included “Part 1” in the title because I expect a sequel.

First, let me suggest that sales scripts could be useful for new salespeople that are selling something that they haven’t sold before. It might begin to get them to understand the lingo. It might begin to get them to feel like they fit in when their prospects nod knowingly. However, I wouldn’t suggest hour long scripts or long flow charts with if/then and responses. I would suggest having a selection of one liners and an understanding of appropriate triggers or timing.
I remember my tennis coach telling me to hit the ball where they’re coming from. Now, if your opponent is not moving, this isn’t an appropriate strategy. So, even though he coached me constantly on proper positioning and placement, I still needed to recognize when to use a particular approach.
How about this? Joe considered himself a good coach. Bob was a subordinate salesman. It was funny to watch Joe debrief Bob because as soon as Bob described the situation, Joe would immediately start coaching by telling him what to say, what to ask, what to do or what he should have done. Joe was wasting his breath because Bob didn’t want the help. Coaching on real opportunities requires a pre-arranged relationship whereby Bob gives Joe permission to coach and means it. The interesting dynamic in this Bob/Joe case is that Bob was actually the better coach and Joe was the better salesman.
More to follow….
BTW, you want to feel what it’s like to be coached by me? Contact me.

Start-ups and Succession Plans

We may not agree, but I think that a business founder goes through three stages.

  • Starting up – very exciting, everything’s new, lot’s of energy, lots of firsts.
  • Exit/Succession – again exciting, picking and preparing a successor, cashing out, realizing the dream, moving on to next challenge.
  • The boring part in between – show up, do your job, ss/dd
Last week I met a business owner. He founded a professional services firm almost 30 years ago. He seemed pretty successful. Has a dozen employees. We talked briefly about three things.
  1. He was the only salesperson. The others had no interest.
  2. He was growing his on line presence, but he was the only one.
  3. He had no ‘heir apparent’ that was ready.
So, he’s already done the ‘starting up’ and the long ‘boring part in between’. So, now what’s the plan and when does he want to get there?

Who wants to be a Millionaire?

I have been lucky. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work with people that came from ordinary backgrounds and did well. Along the way, I’ve had some very good conversations with some very smart people. I’d like to share two conversations and then summarize my point.

The first is a conversation that happened between a group of nurses about the movie, Social Network. Short version is that the nurses did not like the movie. Back-stabbing, deceit, business before friendship. All in the name of business success. Now, if you think about it, this makes sense. Nurses are generally caring, humanistic type people that want to make people feel better and work for a higher cause. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had failed at a business because they don’t have the stomach for it.
The second conversation was a private conversation that I had with a new college grad. I asked what they were gonna do with their degree and they said, “Start a business. Nobody’s gonna get rich off my brain.” They have started a business. They are very successful.
So, who do you relate to? The Nurse or the new grad? What did you think of the Social Network? Do you struggle with work/life balance? Is what you want, what you get? Do you ever know what you should do, but don’t, or do something else? Do you want to get over it? Contact me