Thursday, September 22

PowerPoint: 10 dos and don'ts 

From the Microsoft Small Business Center:

1. Hold up your end with compelling material.
2. Keep it simple.
3. Minimize numbers in slides.
4. Don't parrot PowerPoint.
5. Time your remarks.
6. Give it a rest.
7. Use vibrant colors.
8. Import other images and graphics.
9. Distribute handouts at the end - not during the presentation.
10. Edit ruthlessly before presenting.

Read the complete story for details on all 10 tips...

Wednesday, September 21

Stop Selling Yourself Short 

Selling and Client Relationships: Stop Selling Yourself Short

"The sale is closed. Time to move on." This line of thinking costs sales
professionals big money every day. When you've made a sale, the real work
begins. And the sooner it begins, the more depth and structure you will add
to your relationship with your new client.

Create a follow-up communication timeline before, during, and after client
delivery. Keeping your client informed of progress and what they can expect
next is a hallmark of true sales professionals.

Also, once you've systematized your contact points, your series of notes,
phone calls, visits, and check-ins, it will be much easier to deliver that
level of consistent service on the next order and for the next client. Don’t
let success be a once-in-a-while accident!

Post-sales follow-up is not magic. It’s not hard. And it’s not something you
should be doing “when you have the time” anymore than selling should be
something to do “when you have the time”!

And we’re not talking about follow-up for the sake of follow-up. Follow-up
has some very specific objectives and fills some very specific functions,
such as:

* Shows gratitude
* Affirms buyer’s decision
* Minimizes/eliminates buyer’s remorse
* Addresses potential challenges as they arise (before they grow into something worse)
* Identifies upcoming needs to develop more sales
* Retains customers and lock out competitors
* Obtains referrals & word-of-mouth prospects

From an implementation standpoint, the ingredients of your follow-up system might include some or all of the following:
* Thank you phone call
* Thank you email
* Thank you note
* Thank you gift
* An initial check-in phone call immediately following implementation
* A feedback phone call or letter after 30 or 60 days of usage of product/service
* An annual/ quarterly/ monthly feedback call or letter
* An annual/ quarterly/ monthly breakfast/ lunch/ dinner to address needs or for maintaining ongoing communication and deepening 2-way relationships.
* Send a helpful third party book addressing another area where you have a solution
* Send a customer newsletter with helpful ideas for their particular world (business or home)
* Send relevant industry news stories or trade magazine articles
* Give a headquarters tour of your company to your clients
* Call or arrange a meeting or lunch where you can ask for referrals
* Send several pre-written postcards with stamps for your customer to send to THEIR friends/ colleagues who might benefit by talking with you about your product/ service
* Send referrals TO your customer for THEIR business.

Stop selling yourself short. A sale is your starting gun, not the finish line!

Lead Generation: From Lukewarm to Sold 

Lead Generation: "From Lukewarm to Sold!"

From a piece I wrote for Sales & Marketing Management:

Many sales professionals don't know how to convert lukewarm prospects to high-probability leads. First, let's define what a "lukewarm prospect" is.

A prospect can be considered lukewarm if:
* they've at least heard of your company name and product/service offering.
* they've expressed interest on a superficial level - stopped by your trade
show booth and entered a drawing, clicked through to your website on an email blast, returned a postcard to request a free report.

Here are some strategies to move them from interest to action:

1. Send them something additional of value - a white paper, a report, a
checklist, or a "how to select the best vendor" guide (which, of course,
lists smart things to look for in ANY vendor they might choose... using
criteria that your company also happens to score a 100% on!)

2. Once they've responded to information, add an element of urgency which
will convert the information "sale" to a product or service "sale." Send a
time limited offer, throw in extra services, special discounts, or use
bundling and supersizing to offer extra value. Reference their earlier
interest, and communicate a clear deadline for the added value offer.

3. Get personal. Use web conferencing, audio teleseminars, or even audio
CD's to add a personal dimension to the sales process. Sending out a
60-minute audio CD can be much more effective than sending another brochure,
catalog, or sales letter. The personal connection of hearing a voice and the
added intimacy of 1-on-1 communication can enhance a feeling of familiarity,
trust, and connection that leads lukewarm prospects from casual interest to
a sale!

Thursday, September 8

Teams: Fast Track or Trendy Trap? 

I recently worked with a client who had drunk too much Kool-Aid. TEAM Kool-Aid, that is. She would talk in glowing terms about how her organization had embraced "the team concept" and how leading her team effectively was important to her, and how proud she was of being selected for a leadership role on the team.

Now, at the same time, she also mentioned that this whole team thing didn't come easy. Some team members were difficult, entrenched, hostile, or just stuck in the mud of being in the same job at the same place for more years than they'd care to count. The company had them read books, sent them to training, hosted meetings. The company really wanted to push this team thing through to success.

But you know what? Sometimes teams just don't cut it.

Many organizations take great pride in describing themselves as “team-based.” Scores of business books and magazine articles glorify and exalt teamwork over just about every other kind of organizational initiative.

It’s easy to see why. Information technology and the competition of global markets have created flatter organizations, which have turned to teams to replace a top-down approach to addressing business challenges and to supplant individual effort with group strength.

Granted, teams have enabled some companies to take giant leaps forward in such areas as time to market, innovation, customer service, and quality of goods and services.

But teams are not always the best way to accomplish a job. In their enthusiasm for teams, especially “high performance” teams, organizations often ignore the difficulties and costs of forming and launching teams. Teams typically need more time and more training to achieve results than do other kinds of work units. Teams may run counter to a company’s established culture and reward systems. These challenges can block a team from operating at peak performance.

And this is what was happening to my client. So perhaps it's time for this company to put down the Kool-Aid, stop pursuing the cult of the "team" and start joining the cult I belong to: the cult of what WORKS.

Saying Goodbye to Clients 

From a Sales & Marketing Management email that came across my desk this morning:

Saying Goodbye to Clients
How to give clients the boot

If you'd like to give a few current clients the boot, you're not alone. Many companies would. Kim DeMotte, founder and managing partner of Power of No, a consulting company based in St. Louis, suggests these ways for dealing with the delicate situation:

Small and Poor
Got a client whose tiny buys aren't worth your while? Let the contact know that your company has decided to work only with clients with certain budgets. For long-term relationships, sever ties in person.

Getting Rid of the Rude
It's tough to tolerate a jerk. If the relationship is too tense, say so, then cut the ties but give the person a chance to change his tune.

The Never-Ending Deal
Customers with more demands but no more buys are a waste of time. Explain that they have asked for more than you're willing to commit.

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