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Sales tips to improve results

When you subscribe to the Minute Marketing Manager, what you get is “The Quick Tip of the Day”   These tidbits are just enough to keep your marketing fresh and when implemented will boost your marketing efforts.  Click the link below and subscribe to this one minute marketing message and incorporate these tips into your daily routine.  If you have a tip that you have success with, come back and share!

Tip #1 Building a Community

When a business is trying to build their Social Media community, it is important that they take every opportunity to ask people to follow the business to increase their visibility.   There are simple things that you can do to keep it in front of people such as email tag lines, business cards, all correspondence that leaves the office, even the voice mail.   Believe it or not, the more that people see your social sharing buttons, your web address or even hear them mentioned, they are more likely to check the business out.   All of these opportunities help to build your community.   At the very minimum the business should:

  • Add the web address on every piece of correspondence that leaves the office
  • Social Sharing buttons on emails, business cards,  labels on envelopes
  • Voice mail references, visit us online or find us on twitter
  • Letterhead, brochures and promo material should reference social sharing sites and web page

Take every opportunity to promote your presence.  This community will help you in the future.

Tip #2 Build your customer database

Just as important as building your visibility and community, it is very important that you start collecting certain customer info for your database, specifically emails.     As we build a strategy and work on the goals that your company has, this information will play a vital role in some of the goals that you may set.   Some people may not want to do business this way, and you can definitely make note of those few exceptions.   When applicable, try to get your clients web addresses as well.   Although we are talking about marketing initiatives, building an email database can also help with other things, such as cost of doing business.   Every single client that you have should have an email address on file – make this project a top priority.

Tip #3 Turn every call into a sales call

You would be surprised at the number of times that a routine call can be turned into an opportunity.  Although it may start out to be an ordinary service call,  businesses should always ask for an up-sell – even if it is not a specific up-sell, it can be a general up-sell.  Have everyone in your office that handles phone calls take a 3×5 index card and put it next to the phone.  On this index card, you will have them list 5 applicable up-sell opportunities.  Before you hang up with the customer have the associate glance down the card and pick the up-sell that “feels” the best.  I don’t know how many times I have called big companies and they always ask if there is anything else that they can help me with.  I can always refuse, but it does seem appropriate.   Make sure you are taking advantage of every conversation with your customers and ask for the up-sell.  I think you will be surprised at the results you get.   It takes 21 days to become a habit, so by the end of January – this could be routine !

Tip #4  Add incentives and tracking

As I suggested in the last tip, make every call a sales call.  In order to help make this a habit, I suggest that you ask your employees to track what they ask and the result.  Soon, you will start to see some trends such as which call to actions work better than others.   After you have done this for long enough to have it be part of every call routine, then set some expectations.  Once you set expectations I suggest that you add incentives for your employees.  Make sure that you are recognizing successes, as that will help in the journey to make every call a sales call. Once a month, remember to take all that your employees have tracked and share the results.   You may want to add some tweaks to your index cards based on actual results. It is also a good time to provide coaching to those that are not experiencing the success that others are.

Tip #5 Overcoming “price” objections

Most people will always look to find the lowest price and sometimes that is merely a smoke screen objection to something else.  I saw this in one of my agency’s in my travel over the past ten years -so its not original, however I think it is a great thing to do.  (keep in mind its geared toward insurance, but can be tailored to fit your industry)

If your prospect/customer indicates they want a lower price say the following:

“I understand in today’s economy, we have to watch what we spend.  However, I am not sure you really want the lowest rate on your insurance.

I have found that when people are making this kind of purchase there are three things that everyone wants: 1) The highest quality; 2) The greatest service and 3) The lowest price.

In all my years, I have never found a company that can put all three of those items together in the same package.  I am curious Mr./Mrs ____ for your long term happiness, which one of those three would you be willing to give up?”

Obviously, you are trying to help the customer/prospect realize that there is more to the purchase than just price.  If you have a person that is willing to sacrifice quality or service, then chances are you are working with the wrong prospect.

Tip #6 Thank you notes are an important business tool

You may think that business thank you notes are a thing of the past – think again!  A very nice handwritten business thank you note is simply business etiquette.  It is a serious strategy that will distinguish you from the competition. In today’s world of electronic emails and texting hand written thank you note will actually stand out.

Tip #7 The best form of marketing is referrals 

It is very easy to get caught up in the sales process and lose sight of all the things you should be doing in the close of a sale.  This goes back to altering your sales pitch and making sure that you are asking for referrals at the time of the sale.   If you need help remembering to do this, then physically put it somewhere you will see as a reminder.   When a person is completing the sale, that is the best time to ask for referrals.  By failing to do this, you are simply losing out in getting to this customer’s network.   When the customer tells you I will think about it and get with you – don’t let them walk away without one referral.   Chances are if you do not get that referral right then – you wont get it.

If you find that you are having problems committing to this step, I suggest that you turn it into a contest for both the office staff and for the customer.   You can give some time off for the person that has the most referrals in a month, likewise a gift card to a customer for the most referrals in a month.   If your a business that has other businesses that you deal with – this could be brownie points :)

Tip #8 Build your literature arsenal

Thinking about marketing, it is important to build your literature arsenal.  Having information at your fingertips will help you when you develop sell sheets, marketing material, brochures and put together your email marketing campaigns.   I think one of the biggest assets when you are trying to develop a promotional piece to help a writer’s block is literature.  If you have suppliers, most of their copy was geared to focus on facts, features and benefits.  These will be helpful for you in developing your content.

Tip #9 Everyone needs some skin in the game or incentives

To illustrate this point, I would like to share a quick story.  (I am sorry its insurance related so I will try to exclude jargon) I was talking to a friend the other day that works for a captive agency.  (i.e company that only represents one carrier)  This person gets a lot of business through the door that that one carrier can’t write, and over the years this person has built up a network of agents that she can refer the business to. This is a great idea, except that this person often gets the brush off from the other CSR’s at the other places.   Why is that?

We all are in need of more business, that is what improves the bottom line.   Could be that those people are so busy dealing with their own customers, that they do not have time to write more new business – that would be a great problem, but I seriously doubt it.   Most likely this person does not receive any extra incentive to bring that new customer on board.  The owner of the agency I bet would be interested to know that new business is being brushed off .  So how is this solved?  Easy, everyone in your business needs some skin in the game.    Although this term usually refers to equity or value, I am looking at it more in terms of that value being given to the employees in the form of an incentive.

For many agency owners (still talking insurance) they probably feel that it is that CSR’s job to write the business that contacts them, so why should I give them more?   You would be surprised at what a little skin in the game could do for business.   Sit down and try to think about some things that you can do for your employees to give them some ownership.    It might help to have a brainstorming session and ask the employees what they would like to see  – you might be thinking cash, they might just want to wear jeans to work or a half day off one afternoon without using vacation.    Keep in mind that most of us like incentives and that  it is also okay in the form of recognition.   Maybe its time to start the employee of the month and get them on the wall?

 Tip #10 A smile goes a long way

I was shopping over the holidays at the mall, I will not say what store, but when I got up to the checkout the young cashier was not at all personable. She did not smile, acted like she did not want to be there and had better things to do then to take my money.  It seriously almost made me want to not buy the item and go tell the manager of the store they need to work on their employees.    I know for certain that I would never get that kind of treatment at Starbucks, in fact when you are paying the cashier and they smile and say I will see you tomorrow – something about their hospitality that makes you want to come back tomorrow.

People want to do business with people that are friendly, have a great attitude and can smile.   I know we all have bad days and perhaps this person isn’t normally like that, but make sure that your organization is promoting good attitude and make sure your employees can smile.  Take the smile challenge – pick a day when you can go to the mall or a public place.  As you walk around, just look at the number of smiles or frumpy faces and as you walk past someone – smile at them.   It is refreshing when you get smiles back or realize that not everyone walks around with a frumpy face.  A smile is contagious – so start spreading them around!

Tip #11 Sometimes it is a perceived bargain

We all tend to know a bargain when we see one – or so we think.  Often times retailers will play a trick on us where they will take two products that have many of the same features, but one is much more expensive.   What that does is make you look at the less expensive one.   So, in theory if you have a product that you are having a hard time selling, if you pair it up with a comparable but much more expensive product it creates a different illusion about the other product.    There are some things out there that we may not necessarily want to have viewed as being a bargain, like eye surgery or a life insurance policy, so it takes some added skill to adjust your presentation, however try this tactic and see if it makes a difference.