Sales/Selling Trust

The good, the bad and the ugly – which is your sales process?

The good, the bad and the ugly
I thought I’d share with you our experience this last month when wanting to trade in our car …. It was fascinating!  I love being the ‘fly on the wall’ observing others’ sales processes.
Background: Toyota owners – on our 5th, not counting the one when we first married!  So loyal. Last two purchased from one of the Bristol dealers as the penultimate car had come with a very good deal.   But it is a pain to get across there for services etc. so we thought we’d investigate closer to home as well as a couple of others comparisons.

  • The good: We popped in to our more local Toyota garage on spec. Spoke to a very pleasant young man who jotted down what we were looking for and promised to email some quotes that afternoon…. I have to admit I was somewhat cynical and wasn’t going to hold my breath to await said email.  But I was wrong.   It came when promised and all queries subsequently whether on the phone or email, have been answered fully and promptly.  We were advised that as a “loyal customer” we would be entitled to a £1K discount plus a further £2K for purchases agreed by end September. Professional follow up which wasn’t in any way intrusive.
  • The bad: We then visited a different brand dealership – the person to whom we had originally spoken to was ‘off’ on the day we visited so met with the Sales Manager. Very helpful and professional and said he’d get his sales person to call to follow up.  We’re still waiting (that’s why they’re down as ‘bad’!  The spec didn’t compare as well, however.
  • The ugly: We were invited to a VIP day by our original Toyota dealer Bristol – (remember we had purchased our last two cars from them). Our appointment was confirmed by quite an aggressive sales manager who wanted to make sure we were going to turn up and advised that this was an event for buying and selling, i.e. not a “jolly”.  We should have guessed what was coming when we were sent lanyards in the post with badges saying VIP customer.  On arrival we were welcomed into something that  was just not for us –  balloons, cardboard full size cut outs of famous film stars standing strategically by certain cars, two young very attractive girls brought in to offer coffee, and directed to a table on which was a plate of sausage rolls (really, on a hot afternoon?!!!)   A young man (really young – looked 19 or so and very much not knowing what on earth he was supposed to be doing) then sat down, with the sales manager hovering, who wanted to take our personal details eg name and address. This from the garage we had previously purchased two cars from.  Not good for first impressions – how long would it have taken someone to pre-populate their form?   And my husband had spoken to the sales manager to tell him more or less what we were looking for.  We were then told the price of the car which we were interested in and when we asked what deals there were, the sales manager told us there was £3000 off the car price for that weekend only and basically could we go ahead on that basis?   “After all, negotiating is just a big game, isn’t it”? he said. Absolutely no understanding of the sales process whatever.   Oh, and no follow up here either!   WHAT a waste.

So then it won’t surprise you to learn that we went with the ‘good’.   But how does this story connect with what you do every day in your business?

  • Do you always send information to your customers and prospects by or preferably before the day you promise to do so?
  • Do you understand the sales process?
  • Do you ALWAYS follow up with prospects no matter what? If not what could you do to ensure you do.  Is it fear of the ‘no’, or is it something else?  Maybe turn it around and ask yourself what your prospect will think of you if you don’t bother to follow up?
  • If you’re putting on an event, do you ensure that it is ‘geared’ for the demographic who will be attending?
  • Do you always update your CRM with conversations with customers and prospects so that you don’t let yourself and your company down when a customer turns up for a meeting and you are ill-prepared?
  • And the biggest of all – do you understand the importance and value of TRUST. As soon as the sales manager in the ‘ugly’ scenario said that the offer was only valid for that weekend, when we knew that wasn’t the case, there is absolutely no possibility that we would have continued with a purchase there.  Nor will we go back there again.   See a blog I did before on Trust here. (in which was the wonderful mnemonic S H I T)

September 2016

Sales Sales/Selling

To follow up or not, that is the question…

“Persistence is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely and the likely definite”
is a quotation from Robert Half and which I have stuck up at eye level by my desk!
To follow up or not, that is the question – is a complex issue that challenges many business owners and there can be an extraordinary number of reasons why they shouldn’t follow up, today at least….  It’s as if a fear takes over and the business owner is rendered paralyzed… I don’t want to be annoying, or bothersome, or a nuisance or…….
And you’re right, no one does.  But, and it’s a big but, with the volume of emails in particular, as well as calls, that go around these days, it can take time to wade through all the emails and it can quite simply be that your last email got to the bottom of a very busy day’s list of emails.  You don’t know what day your prospect is having or whether it has been a day from hell.
But think how not following up on a conversation, a quotation, a meeting can reflect on you and your business.   If you are an avid networker, is there any point if you don’t follow up?  What is your process?  Do you have one?   If not, agree one with yourself and write it down and keep it somewhere you can easily refer to.
The sales process isn’t a straight line, nor is it a funnel where everything that goes in to the top comes out as an order at the bottom.   You need to understand the balance of emotion and logic and what makes up the sales process.
A survey conducted by the National Sales Executive Association reveals that only 10% of leads are being followed up more than three times, while nearly half (48%) are left languishing altogether.  The same survey shows that 10% of sales are closed on the fourth contact, while 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact! Based on this data, how can you find excuses not to follow up?   Whilst the exact % differs slightly I’ve come across an approximation to these figures a few times.
I wonder too if it’s that business owners don’t like to consider themselves as ‘sales’ people.  After all, is this what you studied for years to become the expert?  But, no matter if you are a lawyer, accountant, web designer, video maker, manufacturer of widgets, without sales you don’t have a business so if you are the only person in your business, you are then also the sales person.
So what happens if you go to a business expo – be it a small local affair or a large event in Olympia?  What have you planned in terms of follow up?  What would be the cost to your business if you don’t?

  • If you are a larger company then most likely the sales team will leap onto the hot prospects and follow these up. Let’s say 20%.   Then what about the other 80%, what happens here?
  • Often it can be that the sales team don’t have the time or energy to weed out the % of non-qualified contacts to nurture, so they abandon them.  Or, sales blame marketing saying that the leads are not great and then marketing blames sales for being lazy.  The challenge is to keep in touch with that % of the balance, let’s say 40%, to develop the relationship.
  • And in a smaller business, then the same principles but you are arguing with yourself and blaming your other self.   Oh, I’ll do that one tomorrow, it’s not important.   Then tomorrow becomes next week/month and the chance you had of following up is out of the window as you are by now completely forgotten.

So what do you need to do/know to follow up effectively?

  • You need to know you are talking to the right person who can make the decision to purchase whatever it is you are selling;
  • You need to understand his/her buying process… Who else is involved? What information do they want/  need and supply this ideally before being asked;
  • You need to understand the sales process and the mix of emotion and logic and when and where to supply evidence of both;
  • You need to understand completely what your prospect needs in order to solve their problem/hurt and ensure you have communicated to them how you can do this
  • You need to have supported your claims with evidence – case studies and testimonials for starters. If something concrete rather than a service, then a trial of something.
  • Have you explained the benefits to the client of working with you? Have you shown your passion and commitment to your role and to your company and demonstrated at all times your professionalism?
  • You need to get a feeling of the type of personality they are so that your communications are geared to ‘how they like to be communicated with’, so for example, if an FD, then bottom line, figures, ROI and no waffle. 3 words are better than 3 paragraphs.
  • By what means does your contact like to be communicated with? Email/telephone/mobile/text?
  • If you have a good CRM system you can set up a series of relevant follow up emails and then be able to see when each one is opened if at all. But do beware of overuse of these informative but non-personal communications. I had been waiting for some information from a CRM supplier on behalf of a client and then I started getting the follow up before the information I was waiting for.   Not impressed!
  • In your process you need to establish a guide of how often you should be following up and how; typically this could be
    • Give it a week since the last conversation and then weekly to start with
    • Then default to two-weekly
    • Try different days and different times of day
    • Can you slot into something that is of interest to the buyer that you learnt at your meeting or have picked up from LinkedIn? Comment on their favourite team’s performance, favourite venue etc, great film….
  • Be direct: if you don’t get anywhere ask if you should stop following up. People respect honesty and it can have the effect to get a reaction to your email…
    • A simple “I know how busy you are and completely understand if you just haven’t had time to get back to me, but I don’t want to bombard you with emails if you’re not interested. Just let me know if you’d prefer I stop following up”
    • Here’s a fun direct one I came across… Tongue in cheek but depending on your relationship can elicit a response…
      • This one from Workbooks, a CRM system (not the one referred to above, though) where someone asked for details and the ‘system’ was trying to establish contact with no luck:

“Should I stay or should I go?”   (was the email subject header)
You recently left your details on the Workbooks CRM website and I’ve tried reaching out several times with no luck. Usually people fall into one of 4 buckets when downloading our content or registering for our webinars:

  1. Thanks for following up; however, at this point I am only educating myself on CRM systems.
  2. While I am educating myself, I am also interested in learning more about Wizard Systems and Workbooks CRM.  Please schedule me for a no-obligation 20-minute assessment.
  3. Please call me as soon as possible. I am looking to evaluate my plan and would like a custom CRM presentation of Workbooks CRM.
  4. I have terrible carpal tunnel and can’t type! Please call a doctor!

 I’m a firm believer that any of these answers could be the right answer for you at this time. Your response (1, 2, 3, or 4) will allow me to better gauge your interests without bothering you during this busy time”.
 For sure the prospect will smile and will probably take the time to respond.  Understanding the meaning and value of a ‘no’ is also important.
Following up demonstrates your determination to build a relationship with your prospect and most significant sales are the end result of a relationship. You will still find a lot of disinterested parties, but a few potential buyers will appreciate the extra effort. These can become your best customers. In the long run, sales follow-ups are more cost-effective than chasing down new customers.
And, don’t forget, if you really can’t bring yourself to pick up that phone to follow up, outsource it.   There are lots of great people out there who will do so for you.  So don’t beat yourself up and just get it done!
If you need help with your sales and/or follow up processes, please give me a call or email me on; I’d be delighted to help.  A tighter sales process can eliminate much of the follow up.
And finally….another quotation for you about persistence:
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 – 1933)

Emotional Fear Fear of Failure Sales Sales/Selling

Fear – exploiting our emotions to increase sales

Fear – exploiting our emotions to increase sales

Think about how often you see this being used – consciously or subliminally…. the technique – I suppose you can call it this – is one of the most powerful drivers of our spending today.  Fear is the emotion being used to manipulate us to part with our money.   Such campaigns

  • find the most subtle way to manipulate our fears and reactions
  • exploit our anxieties
  • dwell on the make believe – the secret of eternal youth
  • using all tactics from paranoia to reassurance to unlock our basic instinct ‘ Wow, I really want/need/must have this XXXXX.

There was an excellent BBC2 programme in the summer which examined some of the examples which I give below, but what prompted me to look further into this was an instance earlier this year when one of my clients, at my suggestions,  attended a two-hour ‘intro’ sales seminar,  which he then followed up with a 1-2-1 session with the deliverer.  The up-sell from intro two hours was a sales training programme of £several thousand.    Not an option for someone new in business and I would challenge not necessary at that point at all.  But the feeling my client was left with was not good.  Not going for this service was clearly going to mean the business was never going to succeed which thankfully was and is wrong. But more than that I would challenge it is immoral to leave prospects feeling like this in your justification to sell your product or service.
Another internet marketer who I have been following is the same although of course the emotion is perhaps tempered as it is not face to face.  You get the emails initially with the ‘free’ stuff, then you are deluged, literally, with the follow up emails with the up-sell for this and that and if you don’t do this or that then you won’t ever be successful.  If he is putting on a (paid for) seminar or webinar, then there is a frenzy of emails, hard copy mails, automated voice mails telling you why you must attend.  I stick with it for a while as it is interesting to observe from a marketing point of view, but then I have to unsubscribe as it is just taking over the inbox!   So is this moral?  Is it successful these days?
Think about some of these early examples:


“Halitosis makes you unpopular”  – early ads from the 1930s created the fear with halitosis which was ‘inexcusable’ as it could be cured with – wait for it – “Listerine”.  Listerine cured halitosis at a time when Americans didn’t know what this was or that it was really a problem. But suddenly it became a huge epidemic in society and the damsel in distress/mother was the social outcast.  “Men never linger”  “Whisper copy” by fear – leading you to understand that ‘this woman will never be married as she has halitosis’  Why take chances?  This technique took sales in 8 years from £115K to $8M. So clearly it worked.  And how sexist was it as well….
When Zantac was a new prescription drug for heart burn, the branding experts had to get the message out there that instead of going to the drug store to ask for over the counter medication, you needed to go to your doctor and demand Zantac. Which clearly worked as 240 million people took Zantac, yielding revenue of some $3.5bn – until the patent ran out.
Similar examples with high cholesterol and statins… “know your number”.

  • And think to today….
  • Corsodyl has taken over from these early Listerine ads – but it’s now concentrating on gum disease.  “Treat gum disease if you have it… Protect your gums if you don’t… Gum Disease is a main cause of tooth loss”   And the image of the lady with that ‘blood’ running from the corner of her eye.    Exactly the same technique/recipe as years ago.
    • Anti bacterial sprays. We’re now bombarded with messages about germs, moving from traditional cleaners to the new anti-bacterial, and for children’s toys and now for washing children’s clothes.  Tests show that hands washed in both ‘ordinary’ soap and anti-bacterial soap give the same results.  Germ panic is also firmly planted in our minds – first swine flue – how long to see ‘Ebola safe’ items on the market. In fact there are already such face masks selling.
    • When Coca Cola bought Glaceau , they had the opportunity to take vitamin water to the next level and to be seen as pushing its healthy products.  “Find out more about the history of Glaceau Vitamin Water as well as getting nutritional information & facts”.
    • Nintendo brain games – all part of our effort to keep our brain fitter for SAGA age group who didn’t want to lose their ‘marbles’.  “With practice your brain can improve”.  A winning formula and it became their best selling game.  The player just had to measure and judge him/herself and bring the score down.  Nintendo never made any false claims – they just played on anxieties – the more you play the more it will lower your brain age.

“Happiness is freedom from fear” screams a billboard from the side of the road. Storytelling advertising is a simpl system honed:

  • Creating anxiety
  • telling them something they didn’t know
  • and then introducing a magic solution.

Story telling engages us – damsel in distress, the consumer, the villain, any number of frightening things going on.  The hero whisks us away from danger.  Always with the moral, “without your favourite product, you are in danger”.

“Please part with your money.  Thank you”,


Sales Sales/Selling

Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople

“If you ask an extremely successful salesperson, “What makes you different from the average sales rep?” you will most likely get a less-than-accurate answer, if any answer at all. Frankly, the person may not even know the real answer because most successful salespeople are simply doing what comes naturally”.
Read the rest of the article from the Harvard Business Review from June 2011, written by Steve W. Martin.   Though, personally I would add integrity, there are some interesting results.
Good article

Armstrong Beech Marketing Communications Marketing Sales Sales/Selling

Sales tips to improve effectiveness

Sales tips to improve effectiveness

Generally people buy to make themselves feel better or to solve a problem.  People buy for the ‘afters’ ie  they go to University because the ‘afters’ can give them better job prospects.  What ‘afters’ are you giving?  What do you ‘leave behind’ after you have made the sale –  a better lifestyle?  more sales/profit?  Really important to identify and communicate it.

How will you sell each product/service? – (to your already identified target market)

Armstrong Beech Marketing Copywriting Sales Sales/Selling

Five Deadly Sales Letter Mistakes

by Ernest W. Nicastro
To be effective your sales letter must be opened, read, believed and acted upon. In order to do this it must attract attention, warm the interest of the reader, create a desire for your product or service and cause your prospect to take positive action.
An effective sales letter, not surprisingly, achieves the same objectives as an effective salesperson and just as there are certain mistakes a salesperson wants to be sure to avoid in the selling process, the same holds true for the writer of sales letters.