Today was the last day of April’s Sales Challenge. Thanks for joining! I loved all your questions and comments.
This month flew by very fast, and if from the daily ideas you managed to do one thing only, be inspired once, think differently about a problem, or create something from nothing, this challenge has fulfilled its purpose.
If you have done two of any of the above, it’s fantastic. And if you implemented three things, you are moving ahead fast.
Every Day Progress: Quick Guide To Sales tips, ideas and inspiration
How could your clients experience what you offer? A number of companies have had great success in bringing products into the customers’ homes. Warby Parker sells designer glasses online and allows customers to try five pairs at home before they buy. Lumoid makes it easy to rent expensive gear (camera and photo gear, wearables, Google Glass, etc) for a small price a day, which then, can be used as credit if people chose to buy the item.
TO DO: What can you do to add an experiential component to your service or product? Maybe a smart mirror for retailers? Or perhaps, let them once pay with kindness instead of cash for Belgian chocolate at The Generous Store?
What is that thing that you do, that makes your business unique? Today we can buy from anyone, why would we buy from you? In the new economy, connection and experience matter.
I go to the same drycleaner, Bobby, and to the same mechanic, Murph, for over a decade. These business owners treat me like family. The service they have offered over the years was consistently incredible. It would not occur to me to replace them for someone closer or cheaper. My life would be poorer without them.
Of course, rewards and loyalty programs developed by so many companies work as well. But there must be a sweet point where price meets great experience otherwise customers may drop their most favorite business quickly, as the case of Netflix proved a few years ago. When in 2012 Netflix changed prices, changed their site, and announced they were dropping the DVD program in favor of the online streaming, they lost around 80, 000 subscribers.
TO DO: What can you offer either as a special ingredient (customer service, experience) or as a loyalty system to keep your clients delighted and hooked on your product?
I have heard many people introduce their business partners, or refer people in the most awkward and counterproductive ways. To build a powerful referral partnership you have to coach prospective referrers on how to present you and your business. Please consider the following as you develop referral partnerships:
- FIRST, Explore Mutual Interest: Start by making sure that both parties have something at stake
- Prepare The Introductions: Offer materials that describe you, your tag line, and your services. It’s easy on the person who offers a referral, AND you also insure that your purpose and business proposition are clearly stated every time!
- Explain What You Need: describe in detail the kind of clients, and the kind of deals you are looking for
- HEAR What the Other Needs: this is absolutely essential since we are all excited about asking, and rarely stop to hear the needs around us
- Explain the Rewards You Offer: put together a comprehensive rewards system that is easy to understand, appealing and easy to act on
- Help Connect People as Often as Possible: and do it without expectations, simply because you can and because you care. It so happens that this is the perfect way to get people to care about you, too.
A lot of people are willing to help, yet the way they perceive your business, or your business need, may be completely skewed, and so, they might send a lot of unqualified leads your way. It’s a waste of time on both parts.
TO DO: Call on a possible referral source and offer to get together and learn how you can help. If appropriate, ask them to refer clients to you!
Brands communicate a certain perception, a promise, and a set of values that we resonate with. In order to sell the promise it makes, a brand must be credible.
For instance, Spotify, the music service that offers a large variety of genres has “Music for Everyone” as their tag line. With 60 million subscribers, of which 15 million are paying subscribers, the service pays approximately 70% of its revenues back to the artists. Spotify consistently embodies The Everyman archetype, as they offer music for every taste, and a free subscription, in addition to a paid service.
Tidal, a competing music service bought by Jay Z recently, fights for the same market. Despite the powerful names behind it, the Tidal brand persona is not credible. The lack of a free subscription, and their tag line “High Fidelity Music Streaming” indicate an elitist approach rather than the embodiment of the Rebel/Artist archetype they try to communicate.
Their recent plea of support on behalf of struggling artists was met with derision since those who own Tidal are very wealthy artists (Jay Z, Beyonce, Nikki Minaj, Madonna, etc). The reputation and the actions of these rich artists who associate with Tidal make it difficult for the brand to project the Rebel archetype (struggling artists).
TO DO: Ask yourself what is the persona that your brand projects. Is your brand credible? Are your actions and message aligned?
Pampered Chef founder, Doris Christopher, launched the company in 1980 in her basement, with the simple plan to sell (curated) cooking utensils to busy women, helping them to cook in easier and more pleasant ways for their families. Doris asked her friends to host a cooking demo in their homes and to invite their friends, too. Each hosted party brought more invitations and the company added their first sales person (or independent consultant), a year later. In 2011 Pampered Chef had revenues of $ 400 million. By connecting so many women, Doris created what we call today, a community. The Pampered Chef excelled at the art of hospitality, and the company still thrives 35 years later.
Newer companies like Living Social, Grupon, and even Gilt help businesses get clients in the door by offering lower initial prices. Yet, they attract customers who may not appreciate the brand, and who will not become clients. They are in for the deal. Some companies start to realize that offering “deals” is not the best way to attract a following and to build a brand. Developing a unique style of hosting clients/guests is a much better way to sell.
TO DO: How can you develop a unique style of hospitality that helps your brand grow organically, and that gets you invited in people’s homes?
PS. As of April 21st, Google is changing the preferential ranking of sites, again, in favor of the sites that are optimized for mobile. Check HERE to see if your site is mobile-friendly according to Google.
Your brand communicates your message in many ways that appeal to your guests’ imagination. Visual communication is essential to allow people to imagine themselves, to dream themselves, as part of your brand.
Airbnb, the online community that rents in home accommodations, launched in 2008. The founders went door to door in NYC every week to take photos of the places for rent. For a period of time they made no money. One day came the realization that changed the business: the photos were unappealing, so they sent a professional photographer.
ThreeBirdNest, the Etsy Store that sells knitting, brings in revenue of $ 80, 000 per month. Alicia Shaffer, the store’s owner, explains that professional photography is what makes her store stand out in a very crowded market of knitters and artisans on Etsy.
You have probably designed every aspect of the experience you are offering your client from how they would feel as they come into your office, or your store to how they engage with your sales people, and how they are welcomed back.
TO DO: Are you helping customers to “see” you as you want to be seen?
In 2007 Bryan Johnson launched Braintree as a credit card processing service to technology companies. By the end of 2013, and several incarnations later, Braintree was acquired by PayPal for $ 800 million. In an interview Johnson talks about the importance of choosing the right customers:
“Bringing on a new customer is really expensive for us. So, we are highly selective who we work with. If they are a smaller operation who doesn’t have development resources, we may not be the best fit for them. Our pricing is designed to deter those who are simply looking for the lowest price. We say no to big companies. They want everything in the world and they want to pay nothing for it. ”
TO DO: As you are launching you may think that you need to sell to everyone. Are some of your clients too demanding, taking a lot of your energy? Are you selective about partners, distributors and service providers? Take a good look and decide who is worth your time and energy.
Once upon a time, during e-commerce 1.0, companies used to snatch emails from prospects (to later try to sell to), by creating tedious sign-up forms, and by only allowing access to white papers, reports, or any sort of tempting goodies after the dreaded sign-up.
Oh, wait, that is still happening. And it is very annoying. It can result in a lot of fake, useless emails. Emails from real people who are willing to hear from YOU are gold. Emails are better than any Facebook page, better than Twitter, better than Linkedin groups. Companies like Thrillist, Birchbox and the DailyWorth are making a killing with the daily email format, sending their audiences curated information (and in the process helping many other companies sell).
The way we sell and engage with the audience is changing. Amanda Palmer gives away lots of her music and she sells directly to her audience. She invents, creates, and recreates her show. Her latest feat is to crowdfund whatever she decides to create (she calls them “things”) and sells to those who trust her with whatever she makes next. It’s a bit of a different kind of selling, right?
TO DO: What are you doing to build your audience, one person at a time? Is your process easy on your customers?
In his book “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry“, Jack Kornfield, a well-known mindfulness teacher and Buddhist, talks about the difficult practice of dealing with the repetitive, the mundane, and the many failures, even for those who have reached high levels of success and spiritual development.
And what has this to do with sales?
There is a particular rush that comes with pursuing dreams, selling, talking with people, making deals, creating opportunities, and growing a business. In the midst of the excitement, there is the exhausting repetition of following up with people who keep cancelling, or who keep postponing the meeting, the practice of not knowing what comes next, the practice of getting up every time you fall, and the practice of keeping up the energy of pitching, connecting, selling and re-strategizing. This is the practice of “doing the laundry.”
TO DO: Replenish as you run the long race. This is simply good training advice. Do you have a practice, or a way to refresh your perspective as you keep crossing off tasks to move closer to your goal? Do you have someone to remind you of the importance of taking a breath, or of replenishing your life energy as you push harder?