Posts Tagged 'selling'

2010 Starts Now!

This may come as a shock to my friends and clients in the home services industry but…next year is here, now!

Sure, I know, we are just finishing this year…and we deserve a break. Sorry, no break..not now; not when only the best prepared will grow in this economy. So, you just gotta ask yourself, will I or won’t I be on the winner list this time next year?

If you are committed to growing, you have your work cut out for you. Sure, it can be done…I have numerous clients and contacts who have grown significantly this year. But it wasn’t an accident or quirk of fate. It was the result of planning, training, lots of hands-on follow up, tracking and reacting on a daily basis. Nothing short of that works.

But you can grow.

Next, if you are one of those sad soles who feels you’ve paid your dues, suffered through this recession and are celebrating Ben Bernanke’s decision that “the recession is largely over”, guess again. Ben deals with banks. You deal with homeowners and small businesses. And, flash! The recession is NOT “largely over”. Only a politican or economist would say a thing like that. So, together, we wil l face another tough selling season. You have to be ready..that is, unless you are content to backslide…something I find unacceptable.

If you know my history, you know I helped a small, growing service company grow in the recession of the late 1980’s. We learned that it can be done. But it doesn’t just happen. To succeed in 2010, you will need to be 10% better at everything you do. You will need to hire 10% better, train a tad more effectively, lead, track, react and coach 10% more effectively. So, take my advice…strart next year now! Don’t get lazy. Forget about the flush years past…this is a business war we are in and not all will make it. Be on the winner’s list.

My schedule is filling faster than ever…and that is becsause smart managers are preparing now for tomorrow.

Food for thought.

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All they want is a deal!

Hey, I just broke one of the cardinal rules of living life in a recession…I bought a quality product; and I paid full price for it! Before you conclude that I’m nuts, read on.

After another spring selling season in the green industry, I was almost convinced that the younger sales reps had it figured out. Day after day, all I heard from our sales reps was, “All they want it is a deal.”

For sure, I’d be an idiot to pretend people aren’t looking for deals; they always have, always will. Still, in a recession, the DEAL is king. At least in the mind of my less experienced friends.  When selling gets tough, the easiest thing to do is blame failure on the recession and give away your profit.

My point, simply that there is a lot more to selling than cutting price and, if you are a winner this year, I’m betting it’s because you have learned to go beyond the DEAL to selling what people really want…value! OK, sounds generic and general…value. Let me take it a bit farther. People want satisfaction. They want expectations met! And that, my friends, has zip to do with DEALS.

So, get smart, all knowing sales reps out there…learn to communicate what you have that competitors don’t. Learn to identify what prospects want before you “pitch” what you’ve been told to sell. And LISTEN to what your prospects are telling you. Selling, at its best, is a conversation, not a pitch.

Finally, use the discount to close the sale, never up front! You communicate how you will provide what the prospect wants, then, after differentiating your product or service from the pack, you use the recession focused discount as a closer.

Two days ago, I paid full price for a top quality chain saw. OK, the rep threw in the oil and gave me 10% off the price of the gas can..but I paid full price for the saw. Why? Am I stupid? Gullible? Nope. I paid because I wanted quality, reliability and customer service when the damn thing won’t start! So, I was buying more than a saw. And, to get it, I was willing to pay more. 

The point is, once again, people want and need more than a DEAL! Show them that you have it and you’ll be amazed at what people will pay. And, remember this, most people are NOT unemployed. They are living their lives frugally and making more careful choices, to be sure. But, people are still buying. Sell value. Fill wants and needs and don’t let yourself off the hook, blaming the recession or your boss because you can’t give away your product or service.

Selling requires a focus on how we can not why we can’t!

I’m just off another week on the road, training sales people.  Reflecting on the current situation, no way to describe it but dismal.  Dismal? To whom is it dismal? From my vantage point, the most dismal among us are found in two groups of people; the media and those out of a job! The former preach threat and fear for one reason…to boost ratings. The second, have a legitimate reason to be down.

What about selling home services in this environment? One would assume that, with all the chit-chat on cable talk shows and throughout the media, people would not buy. In fact, people aren’t buying….except, except in one particlar instance. Let me tell you about it.

I’m in Nashville.  The economy there is no better, no worse than in most other mid-southern cities. Talking heads, as they do everywhere, proclaim the end of life as we know it. So, what’s my point? Simply, that if we [the sellers] accept media BS and focus on the downside of things, the sad result becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can’t sell.

In my training work there, I came upon one less than highly educated employee…someone asked to skip the negatives and sell what is still of value to homeowners…pride and investment in the single biggest asset most of us will ever have, our homes.  Knowing no better, the young man did what I asked.

Every night, after a day in the field, we’d role play the absolute and demonstrable value in a home investment. Over and over, I worked with him on moving the prospect’s mind from the deluge of daily media gloom to the notion of a better day; a day  that would see home values begin to stablize and even rise a bit. I showed him how to  lay out the increase in property value of a home with real curb-appeal. And, in the interest of brevity, let me just say, it has worked.

Now, before you pile on….think about it for a moment. Here we have a young seller, not yet able to own a property but still believing it to be a future possiblility.  A young person who, like most, want to see a brighter future.  A young person unable to live in a negative world of daily disasters and, to quote our new leader, a world of “catastrophies”.

My point, so very simple and uncomplicated is…..it’s all in our heads! That is, unless you are one of those who either must sell your home now or is out of work. Still, with more than 91% of all employable Americans earning a living, there are lots of people out there looking for a reason to be positive.  They may not take that cruise or buy that new car this time around but….talk to them about building value in the one asset that matters most, and will for years to come, and they will listen!

Would tha media agree with my experience or even give it exposure? Not on your life! Why?  Because it takes away the play and exoses them for and the party in charge for what they are…people making a living by taking us down! the worse they all make it sound, the greater their accomplishment in “saving America”.To heck with politics! To heck with the media! Let’s focus on how to make things happen than describing why it can’t and won’t! Let’s not continue to fall for the media and political BS designed to make them successful and think about personal, individual responsibililty.

There, I’ve said it. I can’t live and work in a negative world….how can  you?

Selling in Tough Economic Times

I’ve been selling and training sales reps most of my adult life.  I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed. Importantly, I’ve learned.

 

In difficult economic times, when the media saturates the airwaves with warnings that the sky will surely fall, and doom and gloom are our future, selling gets even tougher.  That is, unless you understand HOW to sell in what buyers want. Good luck!

 

I’m old enough, been around long enough to have trained sales reps during the 1987 recession.  Then, as now, albeit with less media frenzy, the word was out…you can’t sell during a recession!  At my company, we forged ahead.  We fine tuned the process, worked real hard on fundamentals and focused on communicating to our prospects, what we had that made sense no matter the economic conditions.

 

Bottom line, there are some things people need in tough and good times; things they will buy anytime, all the time.  Food, booze and some sort of self-gratifying leisure fulfillment are all on the list.

 

Something else that makes good sense to the buying public is an investment in their number one asset, their home.  Having spent considerable time in the home services business, including the 87 recession, I learned how to sell right into the economic ‘bounce’ that follows every downturn.  We learned to sell value.

 

Hear me out; selling value is not a vague process. While the word, value, needs definition, when defined in terms of your product or service offering, and effectively communicated to logical prospective buyers, it sells!

 

In my training role, the job was clear…help define our company’s value proposition and teach our sales people to communicate it professionally and effectively.  Did I say sales people…my bad. I taught everyone on our staff why we were a great investment.  Unless you don’t care what your employees think about you and your business, and unless you believe they will never talk to a customer or prospect, better teach everyone how to communicate your unique benefits to the buying public.

 

This year, in my training/consulting work, it’s already started.  My phone is ringing now..and the caller will be in panic mode.  What I’ll hear is “How am I going to grow in this economy?”  Right behind the sales question will be “How am I going to keep my customers, to insure repeat business?”

 

The answer to both questions is to focus your sales and customer service process management, as well as your staff training on communicating value, your unique value to the customer. If you can, you’ll be fine. If not, it’s going to be a long, cold winter.  Let me know if you need some help.