January 2009


Part III – 12 Telephone Tips When Contacting Customers

It’s an art form mended and shaped over time by experience only.  The art of conversation can and does build great relationships.  Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter", works with companies and sales people who want to find and retain better customers.  To learn more visit www.thesaleshunter.com.  I hope you’ve enjoyed Mark’s guest articles these past three weeks.  All of these articles have great take-aways to help us perform at a higher in 2009.  This last piece is a refresher we all need about tips when talking to our customers.  Enjoy!

1.  Never ask if it’s a good time to talk.  This gives the other person a perfect excuse to end the call.  I you are unsure the person has time to talk, immediately state that the call will only take 3 minutes.  When you give the person an exact time, be sure you stick to it.  After the allotted time has passed, tell the customer and ask them if they would like to continue or reschedule.  Using this practice allows you to demonstrate that you respect their time.

2.  Ask questions.  People will never hang up on themselves.

3.  Use the person’s first name at least 3 times in every phone call.  Who doesn’t like to hear their name said?

4.  When greeting people on the telephone, avoid using their last name.  It makes the call seem too formal.  Your objective should be to have a casual conversation, in the same way you would talk to a good friend. 

 5.  Use visually descriptive words to help paint a picture of what you’re saying.  A phone conversation doesn’t have to be boring and stale.

6.  When starting a new telephone conversation, always give your first and last name.  Never assume the person you’re talking to is going to recognize your voice or think you’re the only one with your first name.

7.  Watch your expressions by placing a mirror in front of you when you talk.  It’s amazing how they come through over the phone. 

 8.  Add energy to your phone calls by standing up.  People who have good posture tend to come across more enthusiastic than those who don’t.

9.  When you finish a conversation, always summarize it in the same way you would end a live meeting.  By doing so, you can prevent misinterpretation of your discussion.

10.  Always allow the other person to have the final comment or question.  Just because you’ve asked all your questions doesn’t mean the other person has asked all of theirs.

11.  Avoid negotiating over the phone.  Use it as a means of introducing, following-up on, or confirming information.  It’s impossible to truly read body language over the phone so you lose a major negotiating tool.  A phone call, however, can be an excellent way to introduce a new idea you would like to receive some feedback on.  Many times, it will allow criticism to be gained in a less threatening manner than if it were to occur in a traditional sales call.

12.  Never use a speaker phone with a customer, even if they say it is permissible.  Speaker phones add to the perception that the conversation is not important enough to capture 100% of your attention.  (The only exceptionj is when thre is a gouip involved.)

Please become a villager by going to www.iiavillage.com.  Click on the "Become a Villager" link on the right.  All new articles will be sent to either your email or your MyYahoo or iGoogle homepage.  Of course it’s free!   -villageChief

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20 Tips to Use at a Networking Event

This is part 2 in a 3 Part series by Mark Hunter. Mark "The Sales Hunter", is a motivational sales speaker and industry expert who addresses thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability.  For more information on his sales training or to receive a free weekly sales tip via email, contact "The Sales Hunter" at www.thesaleshunter.com.  Enjoy! 

When you arrive at a networking event, avoid gravitating to people you know.  You should initially thank the host and then immediately find someone new to introduce yourself to.  This will help keep you in the right frame of mind as to why you came.

1.  Stop selling and start listening!  When you meet someone for the first time, use it as an opportunity to get to know them.   Don’t try to sell them anything.  Rather, begin to establish a relationship.

2.  Keep your business cards in the breast pocket of your coat, a shirt pocket, or in an outside pocket of your purse so they are easy to access and in good condition.

3.  When giving a person your card, personalize it by hand writing your cell number on it.  This will cause the recipient to feel that they are receiving something special.

4.  When giving or receiving a business card, be especially careful when dealing with people from outside the US as many cultures treat them with very high regard.

5.  When receiving a card from someone, take a moment to write yourself a note on it such as where you met.  If you do this while still talking to the person, it will help convey your sense of personal connection.

6.  During the course of a conversation, use the other person’s first name two or three times.  People always like to hear their own name and it will help you to remember it when the discussion is over.

7.  Rather than telling a new contact all about yourself, spend your time asking them questions.  It’s amazing how much you’ll learn!

8.  After you meet someone for the first time, use the back of their business card to jot a note about something you learned from the conversation and the date and place you met them.  Recording the information will give you something to talk to them about the next time you see them.

9.  Connect with the person you’re talking to by tilting your head ads you listen to them.  It is an effective body language technique which communicates that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying.

10.  When a person is talking to you , be sure to look directly at them.  Giving a person full attention with your eyes will encourage them to share more.

11.  Remember, however, that it’s not a "stare-down" contest.  Give the person 3-5 seconds of eye contact and then look away brielfly before returning your focs to them again. 

12.  The best location to network is by a high-traffic area such as a main door, the bar, or near the food.

13.  Never approach people if they’re walking towards the restroom.  Wait until they have returned to the networking area.

14.  After the person has shared something with you, ask them another question about what they just said.  This shows that you’re paying attention and that you care about what they’re telling you. 

15.  Always keep one hand free to allow yourself to shake hands with people.  This means that you shouldn’t eat and drink at the same time.  But remember, this is a networking event, not a full-course meal.

16.  As a way of demonstrating your networking skills, introduce each new person you meet to at least one other person.

17.  Never try to barge into a group of 4 or more people.  Come along side of the group, but do not attempt to enter into the discussion until you’ve made eye contact with everyone.

18.  Do not approach two people who are talking, as you may be interrupting an important discussion.

19.  It is best to intitiate conversation with someone who is standing by themselves.  They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to them and, as a result, will many times open up with valuable information.

20.  When you meet someone for the first time, you have 72 hours to follow up with them before they will completely forget about meeting you.

A networking event is not a time to see how many business cards you can acquire.  Rather, it is a time to develop a few relationships that have potential.   -villageChief

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Part 1 – 14 Steps to Successful Cold-Calling

I’ve invited Mark Hunter to be our contributor for a three-part series.  Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter", is a motivational sales speaker and industry expert who addresses thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability.  For more information on his sales training or to receive a free weekly sales tip via email, contact "The Sales Hunter" at www.thesaleshunter.com.  Enjoy!

The vast majority of salespeople do not enjoy cold-calling.   Yet, at the same time, it is an activity that most need to do on a regular basis.  The biggest reason sales professionals are not more successful in this necessary endeavor is the defense that they have other things to do.  However, nothing will overcome this excuse  faster than being held accountable for making a set number of cold calls each day, each week, or each month.

As much as people would like to believe there is a secret formula for being successful at cold-calling, the only valid one is being disciplined enough to do it.  When people avoid cold-calling, they are generally telling themselves that either they don’t know enough about what they’re selling or they don’t believe the outcome will be successful.  For these simple reasons, it is necessary to be confident in yourself and what you are selling. 

The following may be beneficial as you begin to practice this critical discipline.

1.  Have a dedicated time each day to prospect.

2.  Know the reason for calling before you call: customer benefits, not features.

3.  Leave short voice mail messages.

4.  Assume your voice mail messages will never be returned.

5.  Always call on level higher in an organization than you believe is necessary.

6.  Be confident and competent.

7.  Phone calls placed before 8.30am are the most likely to be answered by the person you called.

8.  Respect the gate-keeper by treating them in the same manner you would treat the prospect.

9.  Prospecting calls on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons will have the worst results.

10.  Prospecting on "semi-holidays" and inclement weather days will get a higher response.

11.  Make it your goal to earn the right, privilege and honor to talk to the person again.

12.  Believe in what you’re selling and the benefits that the prospect will receive from your products and services.

13.  Believe in yourself and your professionalism.

14.  Anytime is a good time to make a call; don’t wait for the "perfect" time.

By practicing and presevering, both your skills and confidence will improve.  Furthermore, making yourself accountable will help you turn your excuses into successful sales. – villageChief

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A New Year – A New First Impression

2009 is here and there’s not one agency in the world that doesn’t want to add a couple more ‘A’ clients to the books.  2008 is behind us, thank goodness, which sets our sights on a new, promising year.  I’ve marked down a few new goals and a couple new process improvements.  However, I want to hone in on one area that often gets overlooked. First impressions are often a second thought.  How much thought and planning have you put into delivering a great experience for that new client or market representative waiting in the lobby?  Heck, if there’s a chair and a receptionist waiting for the visitor, then that’s good enough right?  As Tim Allen’s wife would say on Tool Time, "I don’t think so Tim."

 1.  Don’t you just love that feeling of walking into the lobby of a nice hotel and then receiving a polite greeting offered by one of the hosts?  l do too and you can recreate this in your office too.  You don’t need marble floors or a daily flower arrangement but you do need a couple of things to enhance this experience.  A.  Make sure your receptionist or greeter stands up, smiles, and politely asks the reason for your arrival.  B.  Offer that visitor a refreshment: bottled water, coffee if it’s before 11am, or a soft drink.  C.  Ask the visitor if they need directions to the restrooms.  D.  If the visitor arrives after lunch, offer a welcoming snack like fresh baked cookies or other bite-size goodies.  I don’t care where you are, the smell of cookies has an immediate warming effect on even the toughest client.

2.  I like to be expected when I arrive at a new prospect’s office or a current client’s office.  It’s definitely a "peace of mind" moment when I arrive to discover they are cheerfully expecting me.  One way an agency does this with success is by placing a tasteful board on an easel in the lobby with my name and company on it.  It’s a great way to welcome me and show that they are eager to meet.  Another agency takes it a step further by having a "Director of First Impressions" position to greet those that come and go during the day.  The role functions as a receptionist would; however, they make more efforts to create a warm-inviting atmosphere right off the bat.  As a visitor, this impression is huge in regards to the perception of care for the agency and perceived class.

Just like that first client meeting being important to represent yourself in the best possible light so is your welcome room and/or lobby.  So make it a hit by focusing a little more resources to it.  You’ll not only impress the visitors but you’ll raise the bar for others.   -villageChief

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