Monday, June 17, 2013

How to Sell (For People Who Hate Sales) | The New OPEN Forum

American Express is really trying to woo small business, by presenting themselves as allies -- running commercials promoting local shopping, and again, trying (with some success, I believe) to create a small business post-Thanksgiving sales day after Black Friday.

Their Open Forum showcases an excellent variety of answers to typical questions, blogs and  discussions on topics important to small business -- and none is harder or more important than sales. Oh, it's the "New" Open Forum. I've forgotten what the old one was like...which is probably why there's a "new" one.

Contributor Brian Moran (who wears two hats: helping "entrepreneurs run better businesses and marketers do a better job reaching entrepreneurs" -- and publisher of the magazine "At Home with Century 21") proposes what he claims are three simple but sufficient steps to being able to sell:

1. Understand Features vs. Benefits: see the quarter inch hole, not the quarter inch drill.
2. Help Others Help You: solve a problem
3. Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

 These are all critical, no question. And as much as I like to sum up points in groups of three, I think for most inventors, there are two more critical points, not quite captured in these three:
4. Say "Hello," and
5. Ask, "May I take your order?"

It's true that many inventors can think only of their product and its features. Most, though, I would guess, think that they are offering a solution to a problem. It's true that I can recall more than one entrepreneur who got angry at customers who "don't get it," which is not the way to earn positive word of mouth.

But to overcome the fear of walking up to a stranger (or call one up) -- that's tough. And asking for the order should be simple after you've conquered the initial fear, focused on what the product does for your customer, solved her problem, and twisted yourself into pretzels to deliver great service. But it's not.

It's a cliche' of shy-boy-trying-to-pick-up-girl movies, but I think the best approach is rehearsal. Start with family, then friends, then relatively small customers -- who if they don't buy, won't hurt your prospects noticeably. (Of course, there are no unimportant customers -- that's one of the secrets. Treat them all well, and you'll be rewarded down the line.)  Only then will you know what to say when you approach a bigger customer.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

4 simple points to make sales proposals (or any proposal) actually useful

Useful in the four-fold but simple sense that it tells the target audience what it really wants to know, helps them make a decision, clarifies what's wrong, if anything, and doesn't waste anyone's time. And I think the list can be reduced to three.

Becker: 4 simple points to make your sales proposals actually useful - Kansas City Business Journal:

Spoiler alert:
1. Competitive pricing (not necessarily the lowest)
2. Proof that product/service performs as you say it will
3. Basis for trust in you and your company

However, I think this does actually oversimplify.  The examples the author uses, insurance and cellphone service, are usually well-understood. Or at least we think we understand. My point is, a good sales pitch will help the prospect understand that they do NOT understand -- that there's something they've missed (ideally through no fault of their own). That's the basis of the "challenger sale" -- which as its name suggests, pushes or perhaps nudges the prospect into slightly uncomfortable territory, making it more likely to gain their full attention and to be open to your new idea, which will relieve that discomfort. Lots of evidence and well worth considering.

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Find the typo in the free faster airport wifi "Bing It On" ad

Thanks to the omnipresent Danny Sullivan for taking note of Bing's latest attempt to get us all to switch:

Bing Pushes To Build Marketshare Through "Bing It On" For Faster Airport Wifi:

And indeed, Bing's usage, as estimated by Quantcast, has grown from 60 million a month in October 2012 to nearly 76 million in April, just six months later. And half or more of that growth took place from the beginning of March: almost 9 million.

Of course, Google grew too, just not as fast in percentage, nor in total numbers: from 198 million to 211 million. (Note that Google is "Quantified" and Bing is not.)

But what about that typo? It's the most common mistake even educated people make, I believe -- and there's a clue in this sentence...

Yes, "it's" where it should just be "its." So I'm taking points away from Microsoft (and its ad agency) for that.

Its (Bing's) directory has changed again, by the way: it's now Bing Places. Sounds Google Places? But at least I can't remember what it was before. (Always trying to look on the bright side!)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Social Commerce is taking off -- beyond Pinterest

We're starting to take all these things for granted -- for someone else's business. No one here would ever offer a Groupon, but stop and think: it didn't even exist a couple of years ago and now it's an unremarkable household and yes, small-busineess term. Note that Groupon is still in business, and could still find a pivot to take advantage of its huge awareness.

Then there's Pinterest. People in the online business know that it has passed Facebook in sales effectiveness, but do small businesses realize that? Let's enlarge those product photos! Now Tumblr is in position to start making money by "privileging" brand posts. You can read about these and many more in detail, for the fair price of a free trial of Business Insider.
Social Commerce Daily Deals Photo Apps - Business Insider:

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Why Rotating Picture Sliders Could Be Killing Your Conversions | Crowdvert Blog

My instinct has always been against such a huge commitment of real estate on a home page, but now there is hard evidence from multiple witnesses to support my position:

Why Rotating Picture Sliders Could Be Killing Your Conversions | Crowdvert Blog:

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