7 Things Your Prospect Won’t Tell You

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7 Things Your Prospect Won’t Tell You

 

Whether I, your prized business prospect, is calling you or picking up your phone call, there are things I just won’t tell you.  

 

1) I used to be in sales too.   You’d be surprised how many of us decision makers started out, or are still in, sales.   And I can still smell a trial close, a rotating yes and min/max close from 50 feet away.  Don’t use tricky closes on me.

2) Don’t make me feel stupid even for a second.  I know my world very well – not your world and if you make me feel like I’m an idiot presuming I know or like your acronyms, buzzwords and fast talking pitches- I’m gone;  I’ll just go to your competitors website and read and email- – that way no one has to talk to me.

3) Tell me what everyone else is doing.  I hate to admit this sometimes even to myself but I do want to know what my competitors or even my industry is doing lately and haven’t had any time to dig in.  But I’m not about to go ask you — yet I wouldn’t mind hearing it if you wanted to just shout it out.   Am I missing out on something or some trend?

4) I know more way more about you than you think.   I’ve been to your website; I’ve Googled your reviews.  Heck I’ve Googled you and saw you on LinkedIn and Twitter (or didn’t- and what does that mean?)    I may have seen a few opinions about your company on Twitter already. So don’t waste my time with the basics about yourself – I got it.  I called you because I want something more than the internet can give me. 

5) I don’t expect much from you.   I just never know if you really work for this company I am calling or am getting called from.  Are you a contractor, an outsourced support, brand new employee, who knows?  I don’t have high hopes but if you can assure me quickly you know what the heck you are doing then maybe I’ll listen.

6) I’d rather do nothing.  Seriously, I hate change.  I wish everything I do today would just work better.  Change is costly, risky, takes forever it seems and I am busy enough already.  I won’t tell you that of course.  I’d rather just flat our say no or compare you to someone else or put you off but honestly; doing what I do today is just easier.   If you can’t make me do something “different” and get me to get off the dime and essentially hate what I am doing today- then don’t bother. 

7) You’re 7th on the list.  I respect you dear supplier but my family, my boss, my colleagues, my customers, my pastor and my pets all come before you my trusted partner.  Nothing personal- you can be very valuable to me but everyone else here is getting something for Christmas next year just so’s ya know.

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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No Wins, Not Quite

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No Wins, Not Quite

This High School football team didn’t win a single game this year.  Not one. 

But you’d never know it looking at the faces of the kids and everyone else I saw at the season-ending banquet on Saturday.  

I didn’t get to see many Varsity games this year with the kickoff times being mostly held at 4pm on Friday nights.   But I know that what had to be tough games to watch, would likely carry over into a somewhat depressed pall cast over the season ending banquet. How could there not be, having gone this year without a single win and having just one win last year.

But what I saw was a room full of cheering parents, proud young men and a half a dozen coaches who spoke of their players as if they were their very own kids.

I saw a Head Coach who talked glowingly and positively about every player from Freshman to Senior as they were introduced.  It wasn’t what you think; time flew.  He found something unique and great to say about each.   He found affirmative things to say about their work ethic, their progress, their spirit, their unselfish willingness to help each other and refreshingly for many, their outstanding grades. 

My son didn’t play a down this year having suffered a pre –season injury requiring surgery but he had his name called and was acknowledged for his commitment to supporting the team throughout the year.  He wore not only a tie (that was as required for all players) but a broad smile shaking the hands of coaches and teammates as he walked onto the floor.

There was continued talk of overcoming more injuries and obstacles, of learning new positions and new offenses, of learning a new culture and of responsibility and accountability.  There was talk about the honorable values and the unique contributions of team captions, assistant coaches and supporters all around. 

There was talk of shunning the individual accomplishment and focusing on bonding as a team, in a concerted effort with a common focus.   There was talk about reaching out to each other and encouraging each other to work together not just during football season but all year round.  And finally, there was talk that in the end of all this important stuff, one of many great results, (but not nearly the only one), will be some games to be won.

It’s trite of course, but these games are not the lead story – at least for the gatherings of these young men who yearn to push a ball across a goal line just a bit more than their competitor.  My guess is that if there were two seasons of winning records already under his belt, this Head Coach would have talked about the same things.  

I sat there thinking how wonderful these presentations and speeches were and asked myself how different are they than what the gatherings of families, groups or even companies in good times or in bad should be hearing?   These messages are the ones that we and not just our sons benefit from.   These messages are at the root of what is valuable, at the root of what drives achievement across a wide swath of life.  

Thanks for the pep talk Coach.   Thanks for the shot in the arm of prioritization and principles.  Better luck next year in that win / loss thing but regardless, there’s no doubt you’ll truly win. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

Bigfoot Anyone?

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Bigfoot Anyone?

Preparing for marriage, I hear that very smart couples often schedule time to talk about things like goals, finances, religion and planning for a family.

But what about other important things like whether Bigfoot exists?

Really, shouldn’t we talk about this?

Of course we should.  Believe in Bigfoot?  Well that’s a darn good sign you have the creativity gene, the adventure gene or the intangible wonderment of someone eternally optimistic that despite seemingly insurmountable odds, something so tall and hairy could indeed survive undetected in the mountains of the Northwest.

Don’t believe in Bigfoot?  Well that’s a darn good sign you are have that realist gene,  that smart analytical gene or that intangible honest ability to discern, dissect and derive what is or isn’t happening with the follicle King of the forest.

Maybe we need to discuss Bigfoot outside of the marriage thing too – Like when you are trying to hire your next employee or interviewing a potential consultant, interior designer or accountant, why not ask him or her “What are your feelings about Bigfoot ?”  Don’t you think the way they answer is important?

I’m just sayin’, but I know Apple believes in the big guy.  Every time you type his name in their stuff (like this blog I’m writing), they auto- correct it to one word with starting with a big ol’ capital “B”.   (Why am I not surprised?)

So get your night vision goggles ready and that plaster footprint cast liquid stirred up ( or not) and go ahead and sit your significant other down for a talk, or add the question to the interview guide, or even add it to today’s meeting agenda cuz’ Bigfoot is a big deal.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Nobody Good

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Nobody Good

It sticks with me; a glorious opportunity. 

It was on a large conference call.  The leader was talking.

“We asked hundreds of small business owners this same question about who they think of when faced with this challenge.   And do you know what they said?”

(Long pause) 

“Nobody”.

Wow.  Nobody!  That is wonderful!!

It grows wearisome to enter the market place and find that you are yet just another competitor.  

It grows wearisome to plan, to process, to test, to test some more, to test yet one more time and then find out you are pretty much like the other guy. 

It grows wearisome to follow the “shiny bright thing”, or to dig up “old tapes” from another company that didn’t get it right or to just chase the “short term gain”.

I don’t want to follow, dig up or chase anymore.  I want to invent.  I want to lead.

So when you ask an audience and the answer is “Nobody” or “I can’t think of anyone” or “No idea”, realize that that is the sound of glorious opportunity yet to be embraced.

Have at it. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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P.S.  “Nobody” is opportunity on an individual level too.  Ask your team, your boss, your colleagues “Who do you look to for __(fill in the blank)__ ?”  If the answer is “I don’t know”; that space is yours for the taking!

Angela’s Assist

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Angela’s Assist

“What are you buying it for?”  

 “Oh, that’s wonderful…”

 “Let me do that for you…..”

 “I think you should grab a couple more…”

 “That looks beautiful on you…..”  

 “Oh, I don’t like that one on you so much, not conservative enough…”

 “You know what would really make that look sharp…. is a belt..”

 “A necklace will really tie it together and show your personality…”

“You may want to grab another blouse with the 50% off promotion and mix and match this.”  

 “Good luck, I know you’ll get the job”.

Yep.  That’s pretty much verbatim what sales associate Angela said to my 23 year daughter 2 weeks ago as we shopped for her first real business suit as she was about to interview for a customer service role in one of the largest investment firms in the world.

 It was a memorable almost “wow” service experience as her mother and I watched Angela guide her through the buying process.   She wasn’t pushy; she wasn’t hovering as in fact, Angela was helping two other customers at the same time.

 It was however, so smart.  It started with the right question.  Not just “What are you buying?” But, “What are you buying it for?”

 The rest of her comments and questions make smart sense.  They are honest.  They are helpful.   They are overtly credible and said with the tone and content that she has “totally been here before”.   And it was in the end,  not about the suit at all – but about the goal our daughter had in mind – landing that job.

 She did land that job.  [Today, in fact :)]

And while the business suit Angela helped pick out for our daughter probably wasn’t the reason she got the job, it sure didn’t hurt and better, what a great lesson in customer service Angela gave her to steal from for the interview.  It works on a lot of levels.  

You can steal shamelessly from Angela too.  Read the comments she made and the questions she asked.   Think about them.  Apply accordingly.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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PS:   If you’d like to see Angela in action, head to the clothing store Ann Taylor at Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, NH.   I’m sure she won’t mind that I sent you there.  🙂

3 Keys To Giving Great Advice Fast

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3 Keys To Giving Great Advice Fast

Smart sells.   Smart and Fast sells even better.

If you are in the B2B space there is little more valuable today than insight.  Insight is attractive.  Insight gets attention and sets you apart from competitors.  Insight leads to influencing client behavior which leads to sales. 

Good advice giving is important today especially in the abstract service spaces like online digital marketing or insurance or payroll services or social media services etc- you get the picture.   And Business owners (especially SBs) are pressed for time and even more pressed for advice and counsel. 

So when they talk with you Mr. or Mrs.  Salesperson or Consultant; they expect you have something smart to say or something to share that they did not know before and the reality is, they have very little time to stand around ( or hang on the phone) to answer your 20 questions and wait for you to absorb, analyze and provide that insight. 

So if you are charged with having to provide important tips or advice in very little time to a prospect or client, how do you do it?  And how do you do it fast? 

3 Keys

  • Set the Table Correctly Before Asking Any Questions At All:  It’s a rare day when you can amble up to a business owner or chat with them while they are calling in to place and order, and start to pontificate smart advice.  At a minimum, a question or two usually needs to be asked.  But it’s how you preface asking those questions that makes a difference.  Tee up the questions with a statement that respects the appeal from the customer/ prospect’s perspective.  “I know your time is short so let me ask just three quick questions about your business so I can then give you something interesting to think about”    Business owners love the words “quick” and  “three” ( they know when it is over!).  And you have totally respected the time issue.    Do this and you have just improved your chances of your questions being answered honestly and completely enough as he/she wants what you want –to give/get good insight, fast.
  •  Be an Industry Informant.   There’s nothing wrong with taking a tact that starts with “You know what I’m hearing from a lot of the accountants I’m talking to these days…” Or “I gotta say the contractors I talk to today are hammering social media and print marketing pretty equally..”   This approach doesn’t respect the client’s individual business needs (yet) but makes you sound very smart (you must talk to people just like me every day!) and therefore the advice has credibility.   And of course, nothing is more influential to a business owner than what other businesses (who are just like them) are doing.   Key here is you have to leverage Lines of Business or even some deeper segmentation (gulf coast contractors for example) that appeals to clients’ sense of your industry intelligence. 

  

  • “Think” / “Consider” vs. “Do”:  The worst kind of advice to give to someone you don’t know that well just yet is to tell them to “do” something.   Particularly in those more complex, abstract services and especially when those people you are talking about are business owners who have a pretty large sized ego, pride and sense of entrepreneurialism.  Know your audience.  Telling someone to “do” something can get backs to arch so to speak.  Try “Consider some payroll options, a few things to think about are how much time you spend per month…”   Or “One thing to think about is investing in some kind of trackable answering service…”.   Semantics?  Nope.  Insert the word “do” in the last 2 examples and pretend you’re a business owner talking with someone you just met.   Yeah- fun uh?  Encouraging business owners to “think” and “consider” is smart.  Not when you are suggesting buying a pen or upgrading to larger quantity – that’s fine use a form of “do”.  But when you are in those more complex products or services, it shows you get how these folks work and that you are advising not closing at this stage. 

Be Smart and Sell More! 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Surprisingly Attractive

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Suprisingly Attractive

It’s why we like to fish.  It’s why we like Bingo and love gambling.  It’s why some of us even like checking the mail ( any kind of mail I suppose).  It’s why we like looking for seashells or walking thru old cemeteries or even trolling for old friends on Facebook.

We like surprises.  We are wired that way.   There is a thrill and pleasure of seeking – yet not really knowing what you are going to get or find.   There is a ingrained yearning, a waiting and a hoping for good, interesting or just plain “cool” stuff to surprisingly appear.

I know people like that.  People on the “cool” end of things.  People like Mike who whenever you see him, you know he’s got something exciting to tell you, to teach you – heck – even his emails you don’t open right away cuz’ you have to be ready to take it all in. 

People like Mary, David and Walter who when you are talking with them face to face or on the phone,  are constantly surprising you with stuff or ideas to the point you walk away and write it down, google it or better – act upon it.

There are a handful of colleagues I roll the dice with often and on some days I land the  800 lb. Wicked Tuna of surprises talking with these folks.  Brilliant stuff that makes you want to cash in and celebrate on the spot.

Surprise attracts;  good surprises especially.   All of the people above are successful, are always surprising and have huge fan clubs or client lists  and are on the speed dial for more than a village of folks. 

Are you a constant pleasant surprise to your customers? To your employer? To your family?  Shouldn’t you be?

Are you offering valuable ideas, insight or selfless help to the point you attract people, prospects or those in need to you?  Shouldn’t you?

If not you, is your company, your division or your team constantly surprising in a good way?

Good Surprise is great.   We like it.  We yearn for it.  We manufacture entire industries around searching for it.  And those individuals who do surprise well, tend to be the accomplished  types who are magnets to those around them.

Surprise is, when you think about it, surprisingly attractive. 

Go do that.

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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