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‘Selling Price’

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Your Clients Are Not Experts On What You Do

I guarantee there is not a single client, customer, or prospect who wants to be an expert on what it is that you do. That’s what we have you for: to be our expert, adviser, and resource.

Your clients do not have the time nor the inclination to be an expert on what it is that you do. Heck, most clients don’t have the time to keep up with all the information they need to be experts in their own field, let alone yours. That’s why your ability to supply your clients with knowledge, expertise, information, and education is critical to not only your success, but theirs, too.

THE FOURTEENTH ROCK-SOLID RULE FOR ACHIEVING SALES SUCCESS

Successful salespeople act as experts, advisers, and resources to their clients, always ready to provide them with knowledge, expertise, information, and education.

As an expert, adviser, and resource, your job goes way beyond supplying your clients with great products and great service.Your job is also to provide the client with the knowledge, expertise, information, and education they need to be more successful in their career or business.

If you can do that on a consistent basis, you will have differentiated yourself from the competition, created so much extra value that your price almost becomes immaterial, and reached the zenith of success in sales:You will have made yourself indispensable to the client.

THE FIFTEENTH ROCK-SOLID RULE FOR ACHIEVING SALES SUCCESS

Successful salespeople are indispensable to their clients.

For example, I’ve done a lot of work with salespeople in the cable TV advertising business. Many of their clients are local small businesses.

These are the kind of businesses that don’t have an ad agency representing them and are not big enough to have their own advertising or marketing department. The most successful cable TV advertising salespeople I’ve met don’t just sell ads to these businesses; they lend their knowledge and expertise to these clients while acting as the client’s advertising and marketing consultant.

These successful salespeople first find out everything they can about their client’s business. Then, rather than just selling them an ad or series of ads, they help the client formulate an advertising and marketing plan designed to help them get the biggest bang for their ad dollar and, consequently, increase the client’s business.

By the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, when you increase a client’s business it not only makes you indispensable, but it gives the client the wherewithal to buy even more from you. Talk about a win-win.

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Successful Salespeople Create And Deliver Value

This is a free excerpt from Chapter 12 of The Best Damn Sales Book Ever.

As a professional speaker, I have a huge edge on many of my clients: I don’t speak in only one industry. I speak in a wide variety of industries to a wide variety of companies. One of the many things I enjoy about what I do is that I get to learn about all these different industries and companies. I also get to see what goes on in these industries and their marketplaces. Let me tell you what I see going on in almost every single industry and marketplace that I have walked into in the last 5 to 10 years.

The middle is dead! The middle is gone!

If you want to be successful in today’s business world and economy, you have to be one of two things: the cheapest or the best.

The days are long gone when you could sell a pretty good product or pretty good service at a pretty good price, because I can get “pretty good” at a dirt cheap price. Or I can get “fantastic” at just a little more expensive price, because pretty good just isn’t good enough anymore.

Make sure to check out my top selling online audio program Supercharged Sellling for nearly six hours of hard-hitting sales motivation guaranteed to keep you going in down times.

Look around you, go to any shopping mall. Look at the stores that do business and look at the stores that do not. On the one hand, you have your deep discounters, such as Wal-Mart,Target, and Kohl’s. But even down at this end, where price is supposedly the deciding factor, how do you explain what happened to Kmart? Similar merchandise, similar prices, but not nearly the same results as Wal-Mart, Target, or Kohl’s.

Walk into a Wal-Mart,Target, or Kohl’s and you’ll find them well lit (you could use a pair of sunglasses in Wal-Mart) and well stocked. I don’t know about you, but I’ve walked into quite a few Kmarts that were poorly lit, and let me tell you something about poor lighting. When a store is poorly lit it looks dingy.When it looks dingy, it can look dirty, even if it’s clean.

Another thing I noticed in Kmart are what’s known as “holes in the shelves.” This is a retailing term signifying they’re out of that item, causing a big empty space on the shelf (hence the term).Now I don’t know about you, but for me the biggest reason to go to a large discounter like Wal-Mart is that I don’t have to worry they won’t have what I’m looking for, since they seem to have everything. With time becoming such a precious commodity in people’s lives, do you really think people want to shop somewhere that won’t have what they’re looking for and they’ll have to go somewhere else? So even down at the price end there’s a value component.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin from the cheapest—let’s go to the best.These are retail stores like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, along with specialty operations like Banana Republic and Abercrombie and Fitch.

Then right in the middle you have those mid-range, midprice department stores. You remember those places.Your mother used to drag you there as a kid. Thirty years ago every major city in America had at least three or four of them, and now maybe one or two are left. They either went out of business, merged, or were taken over.

What made the department stores great in their heyday was personal service. Once the discounters started to flex their muscles by cutting price, the department stores started to do the same.The problem was, in order to cut their price, they had to cut somewhere else, and where do you think that was? That’s right, they got rid of the people who provided personal service.

The customers responded predictably. They figured as long as they were going to get abused, they might as well go to a discounter and pay less for the privilege.

SALES TIP

You don’t compete on what your competition does best and you don’t. You compete on what you do best and they don’t.

So here it is: You have to be the cheapest or the best. The question is, where do you want to be? Well, if you want my advice, I’ll tell you where you never want to be. You never want to be the cheapest. You never want to be known as the “price company” or the “price salesperson.”

THE TWELFTH ROCK-SOLID RULE FOR ACHIEVING SALES SUCCESS

Successful salespeople consistently create and sell value, rather than get stuck selling price.

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Sixty Second Sales Tip #4

In this clip, from the sales training video Make My Life Easier, Warren emphasizes the pitfalls of the price trap, and how selling value is what makes you great. Don’t miss it!

Video Missing.

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Winning Referrals

I just received the following email from Ira, who is a property and casualty insurance agent. He has a very interesting question about referrals and since this is such a big topic among salespeople and business owners, I thought I would share my reply with you:

Warren,

I just found your site via your BusinessWeek interview, and I really enjoy your content.

I wanted to ask you a question regarding referrals. About a year ago, I got into the commercial insurance industry. I provide small to mid-size companies General Liability coverage, commercial vehicle, property insurance, etc. I am very fortunate in that I am quite often able to lower their costs without sacrificing coverage and am able to provide outstanding service to my clients.

My question is: how do I get these guys to understand that I really am trying to build my business with referrals and have them give me some names, intros, etc, without them feeling like they are putting another sales guy onto them? I feel like if I can save someone 40+%, they should be willing to help me out by giving me some guys to contact.

What are your thoughts?

My first thought is that Ira is hurting himself mainly because of his perceptions (sales sterotypes). Ira is not only providing a valuable service to these business owners, but in his own words states, “I am quite often able to lower their costs without sacrificing coverage and am able to provide outstanding service to my clients.”

Anyone who can do that is not selling; they’re helping, which is what successful salespeople do. A salesperson like Ira who saves clients money while delivering quality service is not another sales guy out there bothering people.

Good salespeople who deliver lower costs, asset protection and quality service are the kind of people clients and prospects WANT to see. This makes it Ira’s obligation to get referrals. Rather than “putting another sales guy on them,” don’t you think Ira’s clients would love to refer him to fellow business associates knowing that if he does the same for them, it wil help their businesses?

I think the issue Ira has is quite common. He’s afraid to ask for referrals. He shouldn’t be, especially since he does such good work for his clients. But while Ira states, “they should be willing to help me out by giving me some guys to contact,” the first rule of referrals is: "You have to ASK!" In referrals and in life, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. You cannot sit around and wait for something to happen; you have to MAKE it happen.

Here’s what Ira should do:

  • Make a courtesy call to each one of his clients.
  • Ask each one of these clients for three names. When asking for referrals always ask for a specific amount. Don’t use open ended questions like, “Do you happen to know anyone who might be able to use my service?” That’s the kind of question that usually gets you a big fat NO!
  • When speaking to his clients, Ira needs them to agree with him that they are more than satisfied with everything he’s done for them and then ask them if they know three other business owners, they are friendly with, who they feel could benefit, much like they are, from his services.

People know and hang out with others who are just like them. In Ira’s case, his clients are business owners. I guarantee each one of them knows other business owners.

Referrals are the life-blood of a successful business. A prospect who has been referred by a satisfied client is more likely to buy and more likely to become a long term repeat client.

So remember the three rules of referrals:

  1. ASK!
  2. ASK for a specific number
  3. ASK the kind of questions that can be answered. (Could you give me the names of three business owners you know who might benefit from this service?)

Links to past articles on winning referrals:

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Duplicate Your Best Customers and Beat Price

No matter how much evidence there is to the contrary, I still run into far too many salespeople, executives and business owners who believe their best shot at doing business is by selling price.

As a keynote speaker, I have talked until I’m blue in the face about how most customers are looking for extraordinary quality, service, convenience and value. How the ability to save people time and make their lives easier is one of the biggest benefits you can deliver to your customers. Why, in this era of customer confusion, with far too many choices, companies that deliver knowledge, expertise, information and education are making themselves indispensable to their clients. Yet, there are still those clinging to this ridiculous price argument.

I’ve always asked salespeople and business owners committed to price to tell me about their best customers. And they’ve always told me about people who “trust us to do the right thing for them” or “know they receive the best quality and attention” or “keep them informed and up to date about our latest services” or “expect us to be timely and efficient.”

Now here’s my question to those of you who sell price. If the above paragraph defines your best customers, are you saying that these loyal people who contribute mightily to your bottom line are idiots? Because nowhere are you saying that your best customers buy from you based on price. Do you really believe these people are stupid, because their primary concern was not the lowest price? Or is it something else?

Could it be that you like selling price because it’s easy? And that maybe what it takes to duplicate great customers is just too hard to standardize? And instead of admitting that you don’t want to do the hard work and effort it takes to duplicate these great customers, it’s just easier to convince yourself that price is the way to go?

Well, now of course this stuff is hard; if it were easy, everyone would do it. But just think; devising a system to duplicate your best customers is probably the best way to differentiate yourself from the competition (and beat price). Yes, it’s a slower process than selling price, but selling price means lower profits and higher customer turnover. Wouldn’t you much rather do the hard and reap the rewards of long term gain and loyal customers?

Remember, when price wins your best customers lose.