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Last Impressions Generate Repeat Business

I can still hear my high school office practice teacher, Mr. Kimball, saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”  If you knew how far back that was, you’d be impressed with my memory.  There isn’t a sales person breathing that would disagree with Mr.Kimball.  You pick up the phone; dial and you have about thirty seconds to make a first impression that will garner you a second conversation.

Being the professional that you are, you are prepared, you’re in the zone, and you score the coveted invite to a second conversation; that’s great.  Now what? Now is the time to start thinking about what your last impression will be.  The fact is, when all is said and done you will be remembered for one of two things; the problems you solve, or the problems you create.  Closing a deal is one thing, but getting the yearly renewals is another.

Make or Break Practices

Deal Breaker: False promises about your product’s capability.
Renewal: Be upfront about what your product can and can’t do.  Customers rarely expect all or nothing.  If your product is a fit for them, they will be content with knowing that their suggestions will be considered for future updates.

Deal Breaker:  Hidden costs.
Renewal: No surprises.  Present a contract that puts every cost in plain view, before the deal is closed.

Deal Breaker: Failing to call when you say you will.  Slow response when a message is left.  Being unreachable.
Renewal: You are accessible.  You promptly return calls.  You follow through with your promises to call on a particular date, at a set time.  If something truly unavoidable gets in the way, make amends – starting with an apology.

Deal Breaker:  Giving insufficient training on the use of your product will lead to buyer’s remorse.
Renewal: Thorough, patient training in the use of your product where you invite all questions, arrange hands-on learning time, and work through the customizing of your product with the customer – until they are both satisfied and comfortable.

Deal Breaker: Once they pay the bill consider your job done.
Renewal: Regular monitoring during the trial periods, and an open line of communication that spans the years you maintain the business relationship will prove to be worth the effort.

Deal Breaker: Failure to keep your customer’s business confidential.
Renewal:  Unflinchingly protect every confidence; no exceptions; no excuses. 

Best Practice : Aim for more than a sale; aim for a long-term business relationship.  Never forget that whether you are remembered for solving problems or creating them – your customers will spread the word.  Make sure your last impression, be it at the end of a phone call, or the end of a subscription, is one that you can be proud of.

Saving Money is Earning Money

When you’re a kid the thing you want most in the world is to be a grown up, so birthdays are a big deal.  Presents are fun, but the thing that I looked forward to the most was the birthday card from my grandmother.  She always tucked a crisp, clean, brand new one dollar bill in it.  Over the years it never changed.  It was always a one dollar bill.  Her rule, a dollar every birthday until year eighteen, and then that’s it, and it was.  Long after my beloved grandmother passed, one day, just out of curiosity I asked my mother – why always just a dollar?  My mother replied, “Your grandmother probably still has the first nickel she ever made.”

My grandmother wasn’t the first penny pincher, nor was she the last.  People who watch every dime aren’t just those who struggle to make ends meet; even billionaires do it.  For instance, Warren Buffet; net worth nearly 60 Billion; IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad; News Corp. Chairman, Rupert Murdoch, and Australia’s retail king Gerry Harvey are all worth billions, but they are known to take thrifty to the extreme.

We may laugh at some of the penny pincher’s antics; we may see them as eccentric and odd, but it’s a little hard not to covet their ability to manage their money better than the rest of us.  Most people comparison shop for the big ticket items and feel a rush of happy when a good deal is had.  The same people probably use coupons at the grocery store.  The same people run businesses in less than cost effective ways because they tend to count their profit as just the dollars in the door, and ignore the dollars saved by doing things in time-saving/money-saving ways.  http://www.dreamstime.com/-image3860051

A Penny Saved…

  • Piggyback Advertising: Advertise on everything. Put your company logo on items you can give away – pencils, Post-it notes, calendars, business cards, newsletters, and every email you send – even personal.
  • Collaborative Marketing: It’s the electronic age, use the technology.  Trade advertising links with other companies.   Include “partner coupons codes” in email marketing or on your company website for like offers to give your partner’s customers. Share media space in print. Pick a partner and share the cost in newspaper ads.
  • Testimonials:  Let your happy customers tell others what you’ve done for them.  Refresh the testimonials on your website every couple of months.
  • Electronic Invoices:  Convenient for the customer, cost effective for you.
  • Online Meetings:  Cut travel costs and save time with online business meetings.  There are several sites on the Internet like GoToMeeting and WebEx that offer this service.  Meetings can be held on desktops, laptops, tablets, cell phones – anything that can connect to the Internet.  That means you can squeeze meetings in no matter where you are.
  • Form Partnerships:  Find other companies that you can trade goods or services with at no cost.  It is a financial boon for both.

Saving Time is Saving Money

Stay abreast of the different types of software being offered that automate your selling process.  Over 100,000 of the world’s most innovative companies of all sizes use Salesforce to close bigger deals faster.  It only stands to reason that if you can speed up what Salesforce does, that you will make more money by virtue of the time you save.  ShadeTree Technology’s Incite2 does just that.  It is a Salesforce add-on that gathers the information that is spread across the Salesforce site and puts it all on one page.  Your sales team can save a mountain of time by having everything they need to know about a prospect, scripted call prompts, emails and voicemail, as well as an active time line that easily documents every step taken, on one convenient screen.  Time is saved that allows more calls to be made.  Imagine the dollars you can add to your bank account.

 

Power Hours, Ultra Efficient

Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) was our country’s first “Efficiency Expert.” He was born to a wealthy Quaker family in Germantown, Pennsylvania.  His passion was “time study,” which is literally using a stopwatch and doing continuous observation of tasks, in an effort to find the shortest, most efficient method of accomplishing those tasks.  For Winslow, it was a cold-hearted, dehumanizing, cut and dry numbers game that was controversial, but no one could dispute the fact that his methods worked.  Over time the term “efficiency expert” became synonymous with people losing their jobs because in years past, efficiency meant more work done, with a smaller workforce.

Today’s high-tech way of doing business has already stream-lined the workforce.  Now instead of efficiency translating to layoffs, it instead means driving profits higher. Consider the situation from a Sales point of view.  For the salesperson, a more efficient process simply means more calls, more conversations, more new business relationships, and more closed deals.

Everyone knows you get more bang for the buck when you buy concentrated products and energy-efficient appliances.  So what happens when you increase human efficiency by concentrating effort?  Power Hour is born.Time is money

Power Hour

Hang up the “Do Not Disturb” sign, ignore inbound emails, and don’t answer any incoming calls.  Schedule a few hours a week where you are simply unavailable.  Next step – use Salesforce’s list building capabilities.  Build lists based on status – remembering to add a status field to your contact’s page that is typical of the one you have for your leads.  Export the lists into ShadeTree Technology’s Incite2 – and because everything you need is on one page, you get to experience calling momentum at its finest.  It’s next to impossible to not triple your call volume.  More calls, more conversations, more sales.

It’s time to appreciate the wonders of the technological age by embracing the efficiency it naturally makes possible.  Make Power Hours a new Best Practice.


ABC’s of Sales Improvement

Speaking strictly from a scientific point of view, when the creation of life as we know it happened, many believe that it did so with a very precise, exacting set of circumstances.  There is great debate in the scientific community about whether any variation of events would have obliterated all possibility of life or if there was a little fine-tuning wiggle room in it.  Scientist Stephen Hawking sees things as pretty well fixed.  He has estimated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the Big Bang had been less by the smallest amount imaginable, that everything would have collapsed into a fiery ball, and life would not have happened.

Thankfully when it comes to humankind there seems to be purposeful wiggle-room.  Religion and science may disagree on the creation of life – but they will both agree that humans aren’t perfect.  By virtue of our very humanity, there is always room for improvement.ABC2

Three Step
Improvement Process 

A – Allow a critical eye.  Step back and look at the whole picture. Are you content with the number of calls being made, the new business relationships you’ve started, the established relationships that you’ve shored up with quality follow-up, and the dollars that have come in?  Question the overall efficiency in all of your processes – and look for the weak spots. Where do you fall short – research, organization, call scripts, mailed messages, or activity documentation?  How accurate are your analytics?

B – Buy into new possibilities. There is an old saying, “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.”  Do you know how your competition operates?  Do they have tools that you don’t’?  Do they have any methods that nets them greater results than you’re getting? What kind of feedback are you getting from social networking/social media?  Is there new software out there that can make your process stronger?

C – Congratulate yourself for having the wisdom to fine tune the process.  More often than not life is about a leap of faith.  If you’ve taken an introspective look at the way you do business and stepped out on the ledge of a new possibility that improved your sales efforts, congratulate yourself, and then go back to A.

There are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to products that can make your sales life easier, more efficient, and more profitable, but Incite2 offered by ShadeTree Technology is a Saleforce add-on that should be on your list of considerations.  It efficiently collects the various pages in Saleforce and puts them all one page – which by itself is a time/money saving factor.  Building call lists is the heart of the increased success rate that is a given with the product.  Do put a view of their demo on your exploration into new possibilities.

The Four R’s for Effective Sales Conversations

All of us had all-knowing mothers who spouted tidbits of wisdom that we all swore we’d never say to our own kids.  My mom would say, “Who did it?”  I would say, “I don’t know.”  She’d say, “No one named ‘I Don’t Know’ lives here.”  I would roll my eyes, when I said, “I wish…” and she’d reply, “If wishes were horses we’d all go for a ride.”  I was sure she was nuts every time she told me, “I walked to and from school, and it was uphill both directions.”  Okay most of the funny things we remember mom saying we now look back on with a conservative fondness – and laugh when we hear ourselves repeating them to our own kids.  There was one piece of wisdom that I’m happy to repeat – because mom was right.  No matter the task, she’d say, “Before you get started, get all of your ducks in a row.” 

Getting all of your ducks in a row by putting all elements into their proper position before dia1144344_74587539ling will multiply your odds of success.  Consider the Four R’s for Effective Sales Conversations.

Right Content

Tailor your content to the leads and roles of your prospects. When your content is relevant to the prospect, it lets them know that you’ve done your homework, and that you’ve listened to what they had to say.  When you can send content that gives your prospects resources they may have not uncovered themselves, it will show that you’re both on the same team, strengthen your business relationship, and shorten the sales cycle.

Right Person

Finding the right person to call can be done with a systematic approach.  Ideally the companies in your data base have quality leads with desirable job titles.  If that is the case, you can build a call list based on status in Salesforce – by adding a “Status” field to your Contacts page with the same options that you have for Leads.  If you are lacking in appropriate leads with desirable job titles, a quick search at LinkedIn using the advance search option can net you multiple fresh leads.  InsideView is also a great source for new leads.  Often times the right person comes your way via a referral.

Right Time

Initial conversations can, and do, happen every day at random hours, but a study done a few years ago by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that research across the Internet still supports today, concluded that there are both days and hours that are richer for cold calling success.  The study looked at six different companies over a three year period and determined that gold was struck more often on Wednesdays and Thursdays with Thursdays being the best – at 49% better than the worst day, Tuesday. The study also found that the hours with the highest rate of calling success were between 8 & 9 a.m. before business hours, and between 6 & 7 p.m. at the end of the day.  The study is not meant to imply that the cited days and times are the only times to call.  It is just meant as a leg up when you add the information to your own observations.  Ultimately you will find your personal pattern. The Lead Response Management Study Overview

Right Medium

There is a multitude of ways to send your messages out.  It’s important to realize that the medium that resonates with one person may not be effective with another.  While your best bet is an actual conversation, you can reach prospects in many other ways.  Short videos, slideshows, emails, and postcards will be effective with visual receivers.  Well crafted conversations, voicemails, and videos will click with auditory receivers.  Delivering your information in multiple mediums is a way to cover all bases and address the various ways that your prospects most comfortably process information. 

A little organization goes a long way.  If your ducks are in a row, the rate of success is driven up.  Give your list building more power by using Incite2 the ultra efficient Salesforce add-on offered by ShadeTree Technology.  It collects information from multiple Salesforce screens and presents it all on one efficient page.

The Changing Face of Email Marketing

In the United States of America we are guided by a Constitution that protects our right to be individuals in thought, deed, and beliefs as long as we don’t step on our fellowman.  We thrive because we’re all different, and our differences are the threads from which our flag is woven.  Lumping people and companies into groups; giving them a number, and dealing with them in a generalized mass handling method may not bode well with a nation where people value their right to be an individual.

The evolution of email marketing  In 1978 Gary Thuerk, Marketing Manager for Digital Equipment Corp sent out the first mass emailing, earning him the title of “Father of Spam.”  It didn’t take long for others to see his approach as a potential gold mine.  In theory, it was. When the public protested, action was taken. In 2003 Spam laws were put in place, so the processors of mass emailing had to learn how to adhere to guidelines, and mailings went on.  The afore mentioned article does make it look like mass mailing is the be all to end all – but there is a danger when you fail to keep your finger on the pulse of consumer attitude.

Mass Emails: The Seller’s Point of View

  • Emails save money.  Direct Mail is expensive.
  • You save time.  You can put your energies elsewhere.
  • Emailing is efficient.  Click the mouse and you’re done.  No heavy bundles to drag to the Post Office.
  • You reach an unlimited number of prospects.
  • More people will know your company’s name and product.
  • You can repeat the process over and over again.

If every ten emails nets you one chance to make a sale; it stands to reason that you’ll get ten chances if you send out 100 emails, and so forth.  Do those statistics pan out in real practice or are consumers beginning to see the process as one that shows no respect for the hard work a business owner has put into making their business unique?

Mass Emails: The Prospect’s Point of View

Too many emails

  • Who I am, what my company stands for doesn’t matter.  I’m seen as nothing more than a random target.
  • I’d rather have a meaningful conversation than a bulk sales pitch.
  • Tons of time is spent cleaning out my online mailbox, when I have more important things to do.
  • Opening emails from an online sender that I don’t know, puts me at risk for computer viruses.
  • If I open your email and choose to discard it, I’m annoyed when you just come back at me wearing a variation of your original email address.
  • I will remember your name – which may not serve you well.

The Future: Mass Conversations

The bottom line is mass marketing via emails might make a seller’s life easier, but you might be shooting yourself in the foot by forgetting that making a sale depends on you being able to make your prospect’s life easier. To do that you have to learn to adapt and stay current with changing attitudes.  It might serve purpose to take Marketo’s fresh viewpoint under consideration in their article  Conversations, Not Campaigns. In this whitepaper, Marketo outlines an approach that uses engaging emails that are sent based on the buyer’s interest and behavior. Since these emails are triggered by behaviors such as viewing pages on a website, clicking links in an email, and filling out forms, the content is delivered at exactly the right point in the buying process. These “conversations” become much more targeted and allow for a wide variety of content to be generated but only the relevant information is delivered to the prospect, when it is needed.

At a certain point, companies need to pick up the phone and have a meaningful conversation with a prospect.  Incite2, the Salesforce add-on that is offered by ShadeTree Technology makes it easy. Paired with a Marketing Automation program like Marketo, Incite2 can help sales people pick up the marketing “conversations” without missing a step.

 

 

Why Sales People Aren’t Calling Their Leads

Frustrated Sales ManGreat products. Great pricing. A full quiver of phone savvy sales professionals armed with plenty of leads, but no one is calling their leads…. Why?

The Rub
Many companies pay significant amounts of money to generate leads for their sales teams, and yet, many of those leads never get called. Salespeople have a tendency, like most of us do to take the path of least resistance, and as a result, many otherwise perfectly viable leads get ignored and become stale. Why is that?

Problem #1: Where to Begin
Some salespeople have a knack for organizing their day and executing on the highest return activities, but they are in the minority. Lacking clear direction and a solid plan, the majority will actually only spend about 40% of their time on the most valuable sales activities. Whether it’s a lack of confidence, or a lack of organization, the result is the same… a lack of worthwhile activity.

Problem #2: But Other Leads Responded
If salespeople are getting more traction with a handful of their leads, others are often left to rot on the vine. Intuitively, salespeople equate activity (any customer-facing activity) as a buying signal, the fast track to sales nirvana, the shortest path to quota attainment. Unfortunately, just because a lead is willing to talk, doesn’t necessarily mean they are the ideal lead that should get the salesperson’s full attention, to the exclusion of others.

Problem #3: I Got Distracted / Busy
Social media, email, customer issues, colleagues over the cubicle wall…the list goes on and on. A recent article by Reuters states that an estimated 2.1 hours of productivity a day is lost, per employee, because of distractions.  It’s not necessarily that the distractions themselves are not pertinent, but the refocusing time to get back to the task in a fully cognizant mode after being distracted or interrupted can be as much as 15 minutes!

Problem #4: I Tried Once, but They Didn’t Answer
Experts differ and pontificate on the number of attempts one should make to reach a prospect before giving up.  Anywhere from 4 to 18 attempts have been recommended so it’s clear that calling once and giving up should not be an option.

According to a CSO Insights survey, sales reps research as many as 15 different sources prior to calling a prospect. 82% of sales teams feel challenged by the amount of data available and the time it takes to research a prospect before making a call.

You’ve got some hard working salespeople. So why are they struggling to make quota? The problem could be that they are busy doing a lot of the wrong things. Equipping your reps with the right tools can make all the difference. If you could give your reps more time to sell, more focus, more confidence, a guide to prioritize who to call and when, and what to say to them, what might that be worth? How would that speed up sales cycle times?

Get involved in the conversation in the comments section below!

Increasing your Odds of Call Success

 

“Your beliefs become your thoughts;
Your thoughts become your words;
Your words become your actions;
Your actions become your habits;
Your habits become your values;
Your values become your destiny.”

Mahatma Gandhi

The truth is that in an effort to keep things simple we often do them the most complex way.  It’s just human nature, or is it?  Think about it; how many versions of the sink or swim story have you heard?  Is there anyone, anywhere who doesn’t know someone whose father threw them in the water, to teach them how to swim?  What about no pain, no gain?  How many believe that if you don’t learn it the hard way, that you don’t thoroughly learn it?  Is it possible that we were taught the hard way and then adopted it as the only way?

Five Missteps when doing it the Hard Way and
What to Do about Them

1. Failure to Organizebusiness-graph-1415055-m
Cold calling is hard enough, but tackling it without a plan is harder.  Take advantage of your ability to create lists in Salesforce.  Lead pages already have a “Status Field” but if you add such to your Contacts pages – you now have the ability to create a productive list to work from based on status.  Calling just got a whole lot faster.

2. Neglecting Research
While many step over the research step in their day, likely because it’s time consuming and only a few calls in an hour actually net a conversation, doesn’t mean there isn’t any value in being prepared.  When you know a company’s product, you know what you can do for them.  If you know about their achievements and recognition’s you just might get your foot in the door. If they have newly acquired another company, you may be able to play to that fact.  While it may not be practical to dig deep for every single call, even if you just use the account note field in Salesforce to note small details as you learn them, you’re better off than having no research.  Buy your lead generators a cup of coffee once in a while – and they might just be willing to make a few notes for you.

3. Skipping the Call Script
When you ad lib the conversation you give up control.  The Internet has a wealth of information.  With just a little research you can find the elements of conversation that are most likely to get you a second call.  You have just seconds to get it right, and quite possibly only one crack at it.  Leaving it to chance can be sales suicide.

4. Lack of Follow Up
Despite the fact that you make hundreds of calls a week, it’s important to always keep your word.  In the sales jungle, it is truly survival of the fittest. You have to do ten things right to erase one wrong thing. Best practice:  If you say you will call back on a certain day; at a certain time – do it.  If you promise to only take a moment of their time – do it.  If you are asked not to call them again – don’t.  Find someone new to call.  Make your word your bond.  Follow up, and follow through.

5. No Time Taken to Document
Documenting all activity may be the last thing you want to do when you hang up the phone, but failing to do so means that the numbers fed into analytics will give back a false reading.  It is a numbers game, and everyone’s paycheck depends on them.  You should know that without documenting where you’ve been, there is little chance of knowing where you should go.

It is possible to take control of the process, and success can be achieved doing things the easy way.

Mastering Your Revenue Objectives – It’s Hard to Hit a Moving Target

Hitting a Moving TargetWhat about Bob?
We all know someone who goes through life with a rainbow overhead. He just does what feels right and makes his quota every month. Somehow, we all wish we could be like him. It would be such bliss, wouldn’t it? Just go out there and sell your socks off and live the life; carefree and bonus-bound. Park that in the category of dreams, because in reality, most of us could use at least some help staying on task in order to make our number. Think about this:

About half of all sales representatives miss their yearly quotas.

How can we get in front of the curve?
Wouldn’t it be awesome every sales professional could be a rockstar? Trust us when we say it doesn’t always happen by chance. In order to make quotas consistently, a solid plan needs to come into play. Once a plan has been established, measure and track execution of the plan. Track progress towards goals and make changes as needed. Sales will ultimately gain confidence in their work when they can effectively manage their time and resources.

Sometimes we are so focused on the design (our relationship with our customer, their needs, their timing, their sense of value) that we hate to leave the “important stuff” to go and figure out what we actually need to be doing next. When we get in “the zone” we get so focused on resonating with our customers that when we are finished talking with them, it’s hard to switch gears and start thinking about what comes next. Where am I now? Where do I need to go next? What do I need to do now?? How can companies automate this process so sales representatives know exactly what to do next?


With this question in mind, our developers here at ShadeTree have made it possible to automate this very process with our product, Incite2. To see how this tool helps sales professionals know what to do next, watch a short video or schedule a demo and process discussion with a sales advisor.

The Power of Call Lists

Human nature is complex and at times counterproductive.  Take our general resistance to change; our innate fear of stepping out of our comfort zone, even when common sense dictates there are easier ways to do things.  We embrace our habits like they are a lifeline.  All too often we will go down with the ship, rather than jump in and swim.  Interestingly enough, it really isn’t fear of change that paralyzes us; it is fear of the unknown. We get braver with preparation and practice.

One item at a time, or a list packed with purpose?
Consider your sales team.  If you turn an introspective eye on them, what do you see?  Are they approaching their day with bad habits, or are they practicing common sense?  How do they line up their calls?  Is it a random, time-consuming hunting and pecking process, or do they build an efficient call list before dialing?

An ounce of preparation nets a wealth of results.
In order to be efficient, you must make it a habit to stay organized. Once it becomes a habit, it becomes a comfort zone.  In Salesforce you should be able to easily find any group of Leads or Contacts that you want to call. If you are having trouble organizing Contacts, try adding a custom Status field with values similar to the Lead Statuses. Use the Status fields in conjunction with other relevant information such as Title, Last Activity, or Mailing State. At the minimum, reps should be able to easily get to a list of open tasks, new leads, leads and contacts that need to be followed-up with, and any responses to marketing campaigns that have been passed to sales. The Sales Team can now generate a call list that eliminates the time and effort it takes to figure out who to call.

It’s Called Power Hour
The beauty of a list is that it allows for momentum in the calling process. Imagine what could get accomplished if you scheduled a few hours a week where reps did nothing but focus on call lists. Scheduled hours that are dedicated to call lists – and that avoid phone calls, inbound emails and meetings can bump up production. Something that should be considered a new best practice.

Supercharge the sales process.
ShadeTree Technology’s Incite2 allows sales reps to load any list into the app, see all activities on one page, and with one click they can advance to the next call in seconds.  The workload lightens and suddenly call volume triples and company profits increase.  Make common sense, common practice – and take it to the bank.