Sales Blog – Tips for sales and business owners

Jan 22, 2019

How to Recession Proof Your Business

I know that no one wants to hear it. I know economists are afraid to say it. I know that the government will say it’s not true. But all signs show that we are on the edge of a recession. I’ve had many people say that unemployment is not bad. I tell them to look at Uber and Lyft. If it wasn’t for them, unemployment would be in the double digits. Don’t believe me? Next time you use one of the ride services, ask the driver.

Retail prices are rising. Small businesses are cutting back on their marketing. Listen and watch who is advertising. There is a lot of non-profit companies advertising. That is space fillers. I started my career in advertising and know the industry and have seen the signs before.

Whether you agree with my assessment or not, you might to have this in your back pocket when another recession happens. If not today, it will happen at some point. That is the standard cycle that our economy goes through. So, how do you recession proof your business?

First, you need to know if what you offer is a must have or nice to have product or service. Can your clients not do business without what you offer? If so, you have a must have offer. If not, you have a nice to have offer.

If you have a must have offer, then you have to make sure that your competition doesn’t have too many advantages over you. Do they have more features that give them an advantage? Are they cheaper? Do they have better customer service? That last point is one of the most important. If they have a better or cheaper product, it may take a while to improve what you have. But you can improve your customer service immediately. When a recession comes, great customer service will help keep you afloat. So if you’ve been ignoring your customers or not giving your clients enough attention, now is the time to change that.

If you have a product that is a nice to have but not needed, you have more of a challenge. You have to over-deliver on what you give them. If you have not read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, I highly recommend it. It is about how they were able to thrive in a very competitive marketplace.

Zappos was late coming into the online game, 1999. Amazon, 1994 and EBay, 1995 were establish brands the ruled online sales. Zappos started by just selling shoes, but they were more about selling shoes. When a person would call and had a question, any question, they would find an answer. One person called and asked who delivered pizza to their neighborhood late at night. They found the answer.

Now I’m not saying you have to go that far, but you need to have that mindset. What can you do to make your company the go to company for your industry and that goes above and beyond what you are suppose to do? Do this now and it will help recession-proof your business.

Jan. 15, 2019

Don’t Wait for Your Doors to be Closing

Before You Ask for Help

A friend of mine asked me to help with his Mom and Step-Dad’s business. He said that he’s been wanting me to help out for a long time, but it wasn’t until their partnering company was going to audit their books that his Step-Dad was open to someone coming in and helping. That may sound odd to some people. Why wouldn’t a business ask for help when it was needed? Because even though it’s a business, to a lot of business owners, it’s very personal.

A lot of times when people need help personally, they don’t ask for help. Everyone feels like they know how to handle their own business, personally and professionally. No one wants to feel that they can’t handle things around them. No one wants to appear incapable or weak. But successful people, and businesses, know that they don’t know everything. They understand that it is rare that a person can handle everything themselves, personally and more so professionally.

When I first started my business, I tried to do everything for all of my clients. It wasn’t until a colleague asked me what I did, that it was clear, I was trying to do too much. While I am capable, there are areas that I am not the strongest, Other people have more of the skill set to do it. So I built a network of professionals around me that filled in the areas that I was not the best, both for my business and my clients.

I went into my friend’s family business and I found that the company was profitable. There were a few issues that needed to be fixed and I brought in the help for those areas. In a short time, those issues were fixed. I found that they had the wrong people helping them in certain areas. Their son was doing the accounting. He had a background in finance, but not accounting. The bank statements weren’t reconciled. They had a guy running the warehouse that never worked in a warehouse. Yes, starting out in business, you take help from anyone that is willing to help, but after you are making money, you bring in people that have the right skills for the tasks they are doing.

Going over the business plan and agreement with their partner, I found that while getting more money from the partner for growth, they gave away controlling interest of their company. When I asked about their legal counsel, they said they had a very good friend that helped out. I asked more about him and found he was not a business lawyer, he was a litigator. He was very good at what he did, but not what they needed.

I know this sounds bad, but they got lucky. While going through their business, we found a specialty area that was a separate part of their business that they could break off into another company. Then they found a third party to buy out both sides of the main business. They took their money and worked on the new company.

Again, they got lucky, very lucky. I would not advise business owners to wait to get independent help reviewing their business. Don’t wait for the doors to be closing before asking for help. You should have an independent person come in once a year to look at what you are doing, how you are doing it and seeing if there is a better way to do it. Or you can wait until your doors are about to close and see if you can get as lucky as my friend’s parent. When was the last time you had your business reviewed?

Jan. 8, 2019

Sales Didn’t End Where You Wanted Last Year?

This is the time of year that a lot of small businesses review their sales numbers. If the numbers were good, they don’t give it another thought. This is a big mistake, but I’ll get to that later. If the numbers were short of where expected, then changes need to be made.

A lot of times when the sales numbers are not where expected, business owners or people that run the business, blame the salespeople. While this makes sense, it may not be because of them, but because of the lack of a sales process that everyone follows. Do you know the sales process?

My favorite question to ask all business owners I work with is this. “If I came into your business and wanted to blow the door off of sales, I mean just kill it, what do I need to do?” A majority of times, the business owner, or leader, doesn’t know. They wear many hats, so what the sales process is something they may not have even heard of before. That’s understandable, but is a problem.

What is a sales process? A lot of business owners/leaders think you just go out and sell. They don’t think of the steps that should be followed to guarantee a higher rate of success. If you are cooking a meal, you have step by step instructions. Sales should be the same.

Where do the leads come from? Are they good leads? Do you score them? What is done at the first contact? What needs to be sent? Who needs to be involved? What is the next step? What happens to know that you are ready to make the next step? How does your sales process correspond  to the the prospect’s buying process? Are you talking to them at a place they can understand you and they feel you understand them? This covers just the start of setting up your process.

That may seem like a lot to cover. Small business owners/leaders may say that they do not have the time to do it. Some may say they don’t have the knowledge to do it. Both is understandable, but doesn’t change the fact that it needs to be done.

If you don’t have time to do it, then who? You can start with your best salesperson. If you have someone that leads the sales team and has a hire success rate, they may have a process they follow, even if they don’t’ know they do. Have them write step by step what they do. I will be honest with you, a lot of top salespeople will not want to do this. They will not see how it benefits them. Plus, they are so close to the process, they may not see it.

Can you outsource this to a fractional sales manager, i.e. someone that comes in once a week and works with your sales team? Yes, you can do this, but make sure you qualify them. Have they built successful sales processes before? But even if you do this, you will still need to be involved. It can cut the time you need to be involved dramatically, but you will still need to understand it as it gets developed.

What if your numbers were good? Why would you need a sales process then? Why go through all of the trouble? Studies have shown that when you have a successful sales process, businesses close more business, more often and at a faster rate. That usually opens a lot of small business leaders/owners eyes. When I say, “Would you like more money, more often and at a faster rate?” businesses listen. Wouldn’t you?

Regardless of what way you develop a sales process, you will need to understand it and monitor it. A sales process is a living thing. It will evolve and change as time goes by. It will need to be tweaked and altered to ensure it optimizes sales. Once you have it in place, it will be easier for you to see where the hick-ups are in the process and be able to change them. It will make sure that your sales are optimized. Do you have a sales process and if so, how is it working?

Dec. 4, 2018

The Screaming Sales Manager!!!

If you’ve been in sales for a while, you may have experiences, or at least heard of, the Screaming Sales Manager!!! Yes, this is the sales manager that for some reason thinks that the way to motives, encourage and advance a sales team is to scream at them. These rants can go on for a while, but usually always ends with “JUST GET OUT THERE AND SELL!!!”

Ah, yeah. If this is your sales manager, I am sorry for you. Do what you have to do, until you can do what you want to do. But I want to start by pulling back the curtain and take a look at the person behind it. Because a lot of times, these are not bad people. They just were never trained or if they were, they were trained wrong.

A lot of the time, people in sales manager position got there not because they were the most qualified, but because of other reason. They are the most senior salesperson or they were the best salesperson, so they got promoted. This happens a lot in small businesses. Why does this happen? Because upper management/owners don’t take time to find the best QUALIFIED person. I will use the term upper management now because owners get upset when you yell at them. So, BAD UPPER MANAGEMENT, BAD UPPER MANAGEMENT! I’m not going to go into what upper management should do here, but rather explain how a salesperson should handle this situation.

I’ve been in this position before early in my career. I worked with the Screaming Sales Manager. I tried to talk with the head of our department. I explained how they were coming across to the team and it wasn’t motivating the team, but rather having the opposite effect on the team. I asked if they read any books or materials on motivating teams. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears and they didn’t want to hear any of it. They thought it was not their problem, but the team’s if they didn’t understand.

This person had a good relationship with upper management, so I was worried if I said anything, it would be dismissed and I would get in trouble. But it was hurting the team, so I felt something needed to be done. And I I knew it would continue, so I knew it had to be documented. After a few more incidents, that were documented, it was taken to upper management. They spoke with the people that were involved and at that time this Screaming Sales Manager was let go. It wasn’t the ended that I really wanted, but when you have someone that is not in it for the best of the team, sometimes it can’t be prevented.

So, if you’re a business owner or in senior management, how is your sales manager? Or if you are a sales manager, do you find yourself screaming at your team? If screaming is involved, what is the end result of it?

#sales #salesmanagement #bedellmediaconsulting

Nov. 26m 2018

One of the Best Sales I Ever Got Was When I Said NO!

            It seems like most salespeople are fearful of the word “NO”. It’s a daunting word isn’t it? NO? I don’t think it is. I don’t fear it and sometimes, a no can lead to great things. That is the mindset I have. And that makes a big difference in sales.

I started my career selling classified advertising in a weekly newspaper. We had a legal section and some lawyers would advertise on the “Back Page”. I thought we had a great market for lawyers. We reach a large portion of the community in which we operated. Our readers were young, active, and affluent. Sometimes, these people needed legal help.

I was calling from a list of lawyers that I created. I left a lot of messages. You can imagine that most lawyers don’t answer their main phone line and getting to them required some creative conversations. After many calls, I finally got a gentleman on the phone. I was excited. I told him a little about what we could do, but then stopped and asked him who needed his type of service. As you have seen in anything that I write, sales is a conversation and needs to be two sided. He gave a little chuckle and then described the people that used his services. It was people we didn’t reach, more business law than personal.

After he was done, I paused for a little. Then I said that I really valued his time, but I wasn’t sure we reached the audience that he needed. Now he paused. He finally said, “so, you’re not going to sell me?” with a heavy emphasis on the word “sell”.

I laughed and said that I was a salesperson, so I will take his money if he feels it would benefit him, but I am also very honest and I didn’t think we had who he normally represents. So I told him no. He again paused and then said, he appreciated my honesty. I explained that if it didn’t work for him, then it wouldn’t work for us. And if it didn’t work, he would probably not have a good opinion of us.

Then I asked something that most salespeople do not ask when they are told no. I said that while we didn’t reach his audience, I am sure there are a lot of lawyers that would like to reach our audience. If he know of anyone that would benefit from our audience to let me know and I can reach out to them.

Again he paused, then he said, “You know what? I like your approach and I do have friends that need to reach people who read your publication.” He then gave me two names to call and said I could say that he passed their name to me. I closed both. They were easier because they were referred to me and I used his name to get to them. Once I got to them, they believed me because he passed their information along to me. One ended up being one of  my largest accounts.

So what do you do when you hear no?

Nov. 13, 2018

Oh No, The Dreaded Gatekeeper

            Most salespeople run into the same “obstacle” the dreaded Gatekeeper. This may be a receptionist or an assistant. It’s the person you speak with before you get to the decision maker. I’ve seen many articles and strategies on “how to get around the gatekeeper.” I never understood why salespeople were so quick to get by them. I always took time to get to know them.

I don’t mean I sit down and ask them their life stories. I don’t know how many people are in their families or what their favorite hobby is, but I always take time to see how they are doing. Every time I call or walk in the first thing I always do is introduce myself, how I’m with and then ask how they are doing today. You’d be surprised at how munch that little statement helps out.

They are use to people trying to blow by them. They have seen every trick that has been tried. Their guards are up. So when I ask them how they are doing, it surprises them. And the key to it is when I ask the question, I shut up until they say something. What ever they say, I address it.

They may say, “I’m doing well” and I’d reply, “Good to hear”. They may say, “I’m really busy”, and I’d reply, “Ok, then I’ll be quick”. If they say, “It’s been rough” I’d say “Well, hang in there, things will get better.”  Then I ask if the person I wanted was in. Notice, I did not say, “I want to talk to Doug.” I ask if they are in. Again, a little difference on my side, makes for a big difference on their side. If they say yes, then usually connect me. A lot of times, they will say they will check. When they come back, they may connect me, say they are busy or they are not in. Either way, I get more. It may take a while to reach the decision maker, but each time I address the gatekeeper the same and ask how they are.

Why is this important? Now when I call, they remember me. When I walk into the office, they recognize me or at least my name. It puts a positive spin on who I am. I can’t tell you how much that has gotten me. There have been times, that the gatekeeper would give me information on what they were doing, what problems they were having or extra information that helps me. Taking that extra minute to address them instead of getting around them, has made a big difference.

How do you feel when someone tries to get around you? How do you feel about people that always address you and ask how you’re doing?

Oct. 30, 2018

Mindset is Critical in Sales

A lot of people think that motivational speakers are just hype guys. They just try to get you to “drink the Kool-Aide” and if you do, then you fell for it. I guess that’s one way to look at it, but usually the people that think this way aren’t too happy. They may not be where they want to be in business and life. They complain about a lot of things not going right. They are not the type of people I get my advice from because if they aren’t where they want to be, how can they tell me how to get to a better place?

I tend to try to learn from people that are at the place I want to get to or have been successful in what I want to do. Now I’m not saying that after you work with a motivational speaker, your life will automatically get better. They will even tell you that they don’t have magical pill that you take and instantly life gets better. You have to do the work.

I have worked with Dean Grazosi and Brendon Burchard, two great guys. They are not strictly motivational speakers. Dean teaches real estate and Brendon teaches marketing and how to be a thought leader. But they have motivation built into what they do. The one thing that really stuck with me was mindset and how you start your day. This is especially critical in sales.

Dean challenged me to do something that I didn’t think was anything that mattered. He challenged me to not watch the morning news for 30 days. He said if when you get up you instantly hear about all of the death and destruction going on around you, you start your day with negativity built into it. I didn’t believe him.

I come from a newspaper background. I worked at many newspapers, so I was tied into the news media. I didn’t think it was that bad. It couldn’t affect me poorly. No way. Then, while traveling for a week, I didn’t have access to the morning news. I didn’t really think about it. Until the following week when I was home and watched the morning news. Then it hit me.

The week I was traveling, I was in a good mood. My meetings all went well. I didn’t get frustrated when something went wrong, I just dealt with hit and moved on. But the following week, when something went wrong, I got frustrated and even when I dealt with it, I keep it in the back of my mind. I thought of all of the things I HAD to do, rather that what I GET to do. It’s a simple little adjustment, but it made a difference. So I took the challenge and stopped watching the morning news for a month.

It was hard at first, but got easier. And it did make a difference. I was starting some new projects which is always challenging, but I got to do it and it went well. I was able to get more done and actually got it done faster, because I wasn’t distracted by other negative things. By the end of the thirty days, I was in a much better place. When I went on sales calls, they went better because my mindset was better.

Did I get every sale? No, but I didn’t take it as hard when I didn’t get a sale and I was able to move on to the next one, with a positive mindset which paid off. So, start your day with positive thoughts.

Do I watch the morning news now? Yes, I do. But not if I have an important meeting that day or if I was in a bad mood. I start the day with what is working and looking at what I get to do. If you’re in sales, start your day with good thoughts and see how it helps you. You may just be surprised.

Oct. 11, 2018

Don’t Wait for Your Doors to be Closing

Before You Ask for Help

A friend of mine asked me to help with his Mom and Step-Dad’s business. He said that he’s been wanting me to help out for a long time, but it wasn’t until their partnering company was wanting to audit their books that his Step-Dad was open to someone coming in and helping. That may sound odd to some people. Why wouldn’t a business ask for help when it was needed? Because even though it’s a business, to a lot of business owners, it’s very personal.

A lot of times when people need help personally, they don’t ask for help. Everyone feels like they know how to handle their own business, personally and professionally. No one wants to feel that they can’t handle things around them. No one wants to appear incapable or weak. But successful people, and businesses, know that they don’t know everything. They understand that it is rare that a person can handle everything themselves, personally and more so professionally.

When I first started my business, I tried to do everything for all of my clients. It wasn’t until a colleague asked me what I did, that it was clear, I was trying to do too much. While I am capable, there are areas that I am not the strongest, Other people have more of the skill set to do it. So I built a network of professionals around me that filled in the areas that I was not the best, both for my business and my clients.

I went into my friend’s family business and I found that the company was profitable. There were a few issues that needed to be fixed and I brought in the help for those areas. In a short time, those issues were fixed. I found that they had the wrong people helping them in certain areas. Their son was doing the accounting. He had a background in finance, but not accounting. The bank statements weren’t reconciled. They had a guy running the warehouse that never worked in a warehouse. Yes, starting out in business, you take help from anyone that is willing to help, but after you are making money, you bring in people that have the right skills for the tasks they are doing.

Going over the business plan and agreement with their partner, I found that while getting more money from the partner for growth, they gave away controlling interest of their company. When I asked about their legal counsel, they said they had a very good friend that helped out. I asked more about him and found he was not a business lawyer, he was a litigator. He was very good at what he did, but not what they needed.

I know this sounds bad, but they got lucky. While going through their business, we found a specialty area that was a separate part of their business that they could break off into another company. Then they found a third party to buy out both sides of the main business. They took their money and worked on the new company.

Again, they got lucky, very lucky. I would not advise business owners to wait to get independent help reviewing their business. Don’t wait for the doors to be closing before asking for help. You should have an independent person come in once a year to look at what you are doing, how you are doing it and seeing if there is a better way to do it. When was the last time you had your business reviewed?

#businesshelp #businessconsulting #bedellmediaconsulting

What is Sales?

The definition of Sales is: operations and activities involved in promoting and transferring good and services. Granted, there are many different variations of this definition, but this is the base of it. Just as there are many different ways to define what “Sales” is, there seem to be as many, if not more, ideas of how to sell.

A lot depends on what kind of sales it is, direct, distribution, outside, inside, etc. But before we try to dive into all of the different types and ways to sell, I want to define the 10,000 foot level of, what is Sales?

Some may ask why I would want to do that? Anyone in sales should already understand what you are explaining after the first sentence. But sales effects many more people and departments that are not directly involved with the sale and sales process. A lot of times, ownership or the management/executive team, may not truly understand what sales is. They may guess and think it’s talking about what we have and why they client needs it. And to a degree, that is true. But there is more. And it’s not that complicated, as long as you don’t make it complicated.

My definition of what Sales is: Starting a conversation to determine if there is a common need. Sounds pretty simple huh? Sales is starting a conversation. But keep in mind the different aspects of starting a conversation.

When you start a conversation, are you planning on just telling the other person everything you have to say and then walk away? That’s not a conversation. When you start a conversation, do you just want to tell them how good you are and how great things are for you? Again, not a conversation. When you start a conversation, do you already have in mind everything that you want to talk about regardless of what they have to say. One more time, that’s not a conversation.

The definition of a “Conversation” is: the informal exchange of ideas by spoken word. The key word in that sentence is “exchange”. It is not one party dictating to the other party their ideas. It’s an exchange. And within that exchange, your message will change based on the information from the other party. If it doesn’t, you’re just trying to impose your message regardless of the feedback or needs from the other party. Not a conversation!

So the 10,000 foot level definition of sales is you are “trying to start a conversation.” Now that doesn’t seem so hard or daunting now, does it? Yes, there is a lot more that is involved in sales, sales types, changing the tone or message per market, and much, much more.

This should give you the most basic of understanding of sales, but if you don’t know this, than trying to add to it becomes much harder. And if you’re in another department, not directly involved in sales and the sales process, this will help you understand what they are doing. So do you feel like you understand “What is Sales?”

LinkedIn Link: Bedell Media & Consulting

#sales #strategy #managementconsulting #teamwork