Increase Sales by Firing your Worst Customers

Everyone has that customer that is a late payer, nasty  and/or a time waster that they wished they could fire. In previous posts, I have discussed how to deal with difficult customers, sociopaths and how to get customers to pay on time. However, there are some customers that need to be fired. The question is how to determine which customers to fire. As Dr. Tony Alessandra puts it, the good, the bad and the ugly. He goes on to describe how companies rank their customers and fire the bottom level of customers. You want to keep the good, try to convert the bad into the good group and fire the ugly.

But how do you determine which customers need to be fired? During my time in outside sales, I was faced with this very dilemma. I had the slow payer, the nasty customer, the customer who always ordered something and returned it. To properly assess which customers to give the ax to, you need to determine how much business they provide you with and how much of your time they take up. As a Sales Rep, or Business owner, time is money. You want to spend most of your time with your good clients, try to improve the relationship with the bad customers and fire the worst customers or the ugly ones. Once you have this list, you want to get to work on firing the worst customers by removing discounts and giving priority to your better customers. I always asked my good customers if they had colleagues who might need my services. However, I would wait until I have them delivered value with my products and services before asking for referrals.

By focusing on the best customers, improving your relationship with the bad customers and firing the the worst or ugly customers; your sales will increase dramatically. My numbers improved a lot when I used this method.

How has firing your worst customers increased your sales?

 

Close Sales during Cold Calling with the Colombo Technique

In previous articles, I have discussed how to overcome objections and make cold calls successfully as referenced below.

“In sales, everyone has to be able to overcome objections in order to be successful. The best way to overcome objections is to prevent them. This can be done by providing a thorough sales presentation that covers all the information about your products and services. Also it is imperative that you address any questions the prospect has immediately. However, objections will come up from time to time. Some of these objections are real buying signals and others are just stalls to put you off. As a Salesperson, you need to be able to tell the difference.”

During some cold calls to dental offices, I was not able to obtain the information that I needed to overcome prospect objections. This occurred because the person I was speaking to was not the decision maker. As a result, they were reluctant to talk for fear that they would say the wrong things or give away to much information on their bosses business. Despite their reluctance, I would continue to talk with them, build rapport and bond. I would ask to speak to the decision maker but many times they were not in the office; or the person I was speaking with would not want to disturb them for fear of getting reamed out when I left the office.

When this was the case, I would use the Colombo technique to get the information that I needed. I would turn to leave the office, put my hand on the doorknob and ask who their supplier was or when I could catch the boss. Usually the person I was speaking with would provide me with a lot of information about the prospect. Even more than I expected! This is because the person that I was speaking with put their guard down because they thought I was leaving the office so one last question didn’t seem so bad.

During other cold calls, I was able to speak to the decision maker. I would build rapport with them and try to obtain as much information as I could to overcome their objections. Many times the prospect would be reluctant to give me information; stating that they were happy with their supplier or they were too busy to speak to me. When they used the supplier objection, I would employ the Columbo technique; turn to leave and ask who their supplier was. Many times they would tell me and I would ask them for few moments of their time to show how my products were better. I would get the time and close the prospect on giving me a trial order. I developed some of my best customers this way. Other times, I was able to obtain a follow up appointment with the prospect.

The key to the Colombo technique is to get prospects talking. Even if it’s about things not related to their business at first. You want to make them comfortable talking with you. Next, you want to save the question you really want to know for the end of the conversation because the prospect will most likely answer it thinking you are going to leave their office. In other words, their guard is down.

The Columbo technique is a great way to close sales and obtain information.

How have you employed the Columbo technique?

Did Mobile Kill the TV Star?

Everyone remembers the popular song Video Killed the Radio star, which was a song about how the technology of television made radio and the radio star obsolete. As mobile devices and social media have become more prevalent worldwide; access to video content via video search engines/sharing services such as YouTube, Hulu and Netflix have disrupted how content is accessed. Prior to this shift, television/cable networks have controlled how video content was shared and distributed. Today the alternative content sharing methods I described above, have changed the format of television. As more and more advertising dollars are being shifted to mobile from television, the way television is run has to change.

Back to my original question, will Television suffer the same fate as Radio? Well not exactly.Television has embraced new technology. Content has been made available on mobile devices, Tablets Laptops and PC’s.Television networks have developed a strong presence on social networks. Every Television network and their shows; have their own branded social media channels. Video content is made available instantly via on demand programming for premium cable subscribers.

Dual Technology is used by television networks by allowing viewers to live tweet with characters of their favorite shows and television personalities via computers/mobile devices. Television networks use of Twitter is an example of dual technology. Live tweeting has proven to be a successful engagement strategy for television networks; engaging with millennial and baby-boomers alike. An example is tonight’s live Blue Bloods Actors chat via CBS’s branded BlueBlood’s Twitter handle.

Another marketing strategy, employed by television networks is to make the actors in their shows use products from advertisers. This is a shift from traditional advertisements; as most people are turned off by many traditional ads. Many Auto, Telecom, Clothing, Luxury Brands and even educational institutions use this form of advertising. It does not seem like an ad if it is part of the show. This is what television networks and advertisers are banking on.

Did Mobile kill the TV star? Not exactly but it killed a culture of television and cable monopolies. Although television and cable have changed to adopt to the shift to mobile, they still face threats from Apple, Intel, Google and Sony who attempting to offer television content via internet TV delivery platforms.

All of these changes that I mentioned above, will shift the power from the Television and cable networks into the hands of advertisers by driving down rates. The general public will also be able to access programming much cheaper but this is a discussion for down the road.

Did Mobile kill the TV star? You decide.

The Power of The Screen Shot & The Hash Tag: How Marketers Can Connect with Customers & Amplify their Reach

Screen-shots and hash-tags are an invaluable tool for marketers to reach and sell products to their audience. The old adage is that a picture is worth a 1000 words. As the fields of Marketing and Advertising shift to digital and mobile formats, the power of the image to tell stories and get your message across are the new tools of the 21st Century.

Hash-tags are also valuable tools because they allow marketers and everyday people to share their content with people who are out of their network. Hash-tags allow users on social networks to index their content. For example, if I share a blog post or an image with the tag #marketing, I can reach everyone who searches for that tag on a social network. My reach expands exponentially as a result. This is very powerful. Hash-tags started on Twitter then spread to other networks much like the like button on Facebook. Think of a hash-tag as a social network search engine like Google.

The screen shot is a great way for marketers to reach their audience and beyond. As the number of computers and mobile devices multiply worldwide, more people will capture everyday images of their lives and share them via Social Networks such as Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc…

Screen shots can be taken with both computers and mobile devices. This allows individuals, and small brands alike to market and reach potential customers via storytelling through screen shots. Fortune 500 brands have tapped into this marketing goldmine by soliciting everyday people to take pictures of themselves using the products that they love. Think of this as a picture version of a LinkedIn recommendation. It’s social proof.

Screen shots can also be used to share accomplishments and to advocate your love for your favorite brands. I have used screen shots in all of the ways that I have mentioned above. Recently, I was featured on Twitter’s Ads Blog for my endorsement of Verizon wireless.

When screen-shots are used with hash-tags, this is a marketing goldmine because marketers can share their story with billions of people worldwide and go beyond their regular followers. As a result, brands have potential to sell more and connect with people worldwide.

How have you used screen shots and hash-tags to sell and market your products?

Selling to Sociopaths: What to do when you can’t Walk Away

Have you ever had a prospect and/or customer from hell? I am talking about a customer that seemed charming when everything in the transaction was going well and did a 180 degree turn when they didn’t get when they want. I have had several experiences like this during my time in outside sales. What about those prospects that smile to your face and then actively try to undermine you behind your back? I have dealt with these kind of prospects and customers as well. Behavior like this is clearly the work of a sociopath. For our purposes here, a sociopath has two definitions: 1 A person who has no conscience and is incapable of feeling emotions of any kind. 2 A person who gets pleasure from making other people miserable.

In a previous article, I discussed how to deal with difficult customers. The customers/prospects I described above, are extremely difficult to deal with. People who are sociopaths are in places of power and authority. In sales, I have had to deal with sociopaths from time to time. From the customer who demands what they are not entitled to and abusive customers who got pleasure from seeing me sweat.

Now you are asking how to deal with these people? Well the first thing that I would suggest is to avoid them like the plague if possible. What do you do if you need their business? Too often people like this hold the purse strings to that big commission, a promotion and make the difference between a big income and a very small one. Think of Don Drapers new boss Lou the Creative Director from Mad Men. He is a true sociopath.

How do you deal with such people? To deal with such people, you need to make a judgment call it see if it is worth it for you. If you decide that it is, you need to turn off your emotions and protect your health, put your head down and do what they want. You can justify this as a temporary situation or as a means to an end. Visualize yourself getting what you want as a result of servicing this sociopath. If you could do this, you could effectively deal with these sociopaths. Give them what they want so you could get what you want. This is not easy to do.

How have you dealt with Sociopaths in your business career?

Customer Service Rules in the Digital Age

Originally posted on Sales, Marketing & Social Media Today:

In my post Building the Brands of Tomorrow, I stated that one of the things that companies needed to do to build the brand of the future is to listen to their customers. This means handling customer complaints promptly. We are in the digital age. In this age, social networks are the wave of the future. Today’s consumer is an empowered consumer. A customer can quickly share their thoughts about a product or an experience on Facebook, Twitter, Google and many other networks. Brands need to be present on social networks to interact and engage with the empowered consumer. More and more consumers are consulting their social networks for product recommendations.

Many companies are not fielding the empowered consumers’ complaints on social networks. In other words they are not providing customer service on social networks. Whenever we have an issue with a product, we have to call an 800 number which…

View original 357 more words

The Basic Principles of Marketing have changed or have they?

Originally posted on Sales, Marketing & Social Media Today:

Marketing in the digital age has shifted from content to context. Up until recently, many brands created the content that was used to market their products. Consumers were expected to like their products just because they looked cool or were hip. With the rise of social networking with sites such as Facebook and Twitter, this started to change. People began to express themselves online more and more. Ultimately, this led to sharing their experiences online. Noticing this trend, many brands immediately launched Facebook pages, this lead to the shift from content to context marketing. Instead of creating content, many brands Like Coke and Pepsi had their consumers create content for their marketing campaigns. Customers would upload videos of the products and they would like the brands Facebook pages. Consumers have access to more information about products and services than ever before so brands have to have a compelling message.

Last…

View original 863 more words