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5 Reasons My Sister Won’t Buy My Product

Posted: 2014-11-10

Some salespeople quote their sales philosophy as, “Relationships based.” After a conversation I had last week with the CEO of a marketing company, I realized that good relationships do guarantee a  sale. As we talked, I realized that in spite of the great relationship I have with my sister, she wouldn’t buy clothing or accessories from me. She’ll go to Nordstrom, Macy’s or Ann Taylor, and she would rather buy from the strangers in those store than from me. Of course, my wife, mother and daughters would also rather go to these establishments. If I can’t sell to my family based on my relationship with them, how can I be expected to sell?

Woman with signed contract

When most salespeople are applying for a job, they will try to reassure the hiring manager they build great relationships with their clients and customers. Because of those connections, the people you visit buy from you, right? Relationships can help a sale, but they will not guarantee it. I sold against competitors who took physicians (and their families) on golf outings, movie nights and ski trips. You don’t win contracts with prizes, gimmicks or solely on relationships. You win contracts with…

  • Superior Products – If a consumer feels there is a significant difference between your product and your competitor, the relationship won’t matter. People do not intentionally buy inferior products. “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a  path to your door.” Make sure you build the best mousetrap.
  • Communication – Scientists and engineers are frequently the smartest people in the room. Unfortunately, we are frequently lousy communicators. We have all bought things we didn’t need because a salesperson was a great communicator. If I have the best product, I need to clearly share the benefits in a way that makes sense (even to my sister). 
  • Like You vs. Respect You – I will not buy from someone who I don’t respect. My wife loves me, but she won’t ask my opinion on wedding dresses because she does’t respect my opinion. My teenage daughter asks my opinion about calculus because she respects my opinion. It’s nice if your clients like you; it is critical they respect you.
  • Value – After 5 years of social media consulting, my sister has not even opened up a Facebook page. In spite of the long conversations we have had on the benefits of social marketing, she does not see the value. Until your prospects and leads see the value in your product or service, they are not going to buy or even return your phone calls. Make sure they understand how it reduces their pain points.
  • You Charge Too Much – Even if you have a great relationship with a client, the price must be right. Research your industry and know the fair price for your product or service. If you charge too much, they may feel you are trying to take advantage of them. If you charge too little, they may see little value in your product. Don’t be afraid to negotiate on price. That may help your customer pay want they feel is fair.  

Relationships have always helped me generate prospects, leads and early stage opportunities. However, the relationship I have with the person will not always move them through the sales funnel. Value, respect, communication, price and quality all play a large role in my client’s buying decision – even if she is my sister.

Do Financial Advisors Need to Be “Social?”

Posted: 2014-10-16

Financial Advisor Social Media

My pastor uses Twitter to announce his sermon topics and share scriptures. My daughter’s Girl Scout Troop uses Facebook to post upcoming events and share pictures from camping trips. My wife’s hair stylist posts new styles and creations on Pinterest. What about my financial advisor? Does he need to use social media?

More financial advisors and wealth managers are beginning to embrace social media as a valuable tool to connect with their clients and generate new leads. Almost 75% of advisors use at least one social network for business. Of that number, 91% use LinkedIn, 32% use Facebook and 22% use Twitter.

However, as I facilitate training workshops and webinars across the country, I regularly hear three concerns:

  1. Am I maximizing my efforts?
  2. How do I get started?
  3. Will I get in trouble?

What the Pros Do – Look at the LinkedIn profile of Michael Kitces or Bill WinterbergEven if you can’t add publications or conference presentations to your profile, include your work experience, a detailed summary and a professional picture. If you have a regularly published blog, add that to your profile. Be consistent about tweets, shares and posts. Connect with and follow the companies or groups you respect.

Getting Started – Talk to other professionals in your industry and find out what platforms they are using. Before you commit to a particular channel, do some research and learn the pros and cons. Once you have decided, pick 2 platforms and dive in! Many organizations and companies offer webinars on effective use of social media. Participate in a few of these to learn special tips and tricks.

Policies and Procedures – I’ve talked to some people who are afraid to add a picture to their LinkedIn profile because they fear they will get in trouble with their legal department. Ouch! A safe rule of thumb for social media is to not publish anything that could not be on the cover of the New York Times. Tweet publicly available information. Tweet pictures and data from a conference you attend. Post and share interesting pictures and articles. If an investor has a detailedquestion about the information, set up a meeting or phone call.

Statistics show that 78% of sales people who use social media will outsell their peers. However, it’s not a popularity contest. Don’t just use it because everyone else is doing it. Choose the social tools that will work for you and allow you to effectively communicate with your audience. Your clients are already out there talking; join in the conversation.

Scientifically Speaking, of course.

How To: Manage Top Talent

Posted: 2014-10-06

Top Employee Picture

Microsoft and other organizations have had a practice in place to eliminate the low performing people in their organization – the annual running of the pink slips. Management makes it clear that the lowest performing 5 – 10% of employees will be let go. This practice breeds mediocrity (as long as I’m not at the bottom, I keep my job).

However, how do retain and encourage your top talent? Denzil Crooke, Founding Partner of Incentus Global says, “Your top salespeople are not encouraged by money alone. Anywhere they work is going to pay them well. They need other incentives to drive their performance.” These top performers are not the 20% of people who are doing 80% of the work. These are the top 5% of your employees who your competitors would love to hire. What should you do to make them want to stay?

Challenge: Insure your top talent has top projects. These rockstars are the people who would climb a mountain just to see if they can. They want the tough accounts and the difficult to accomplish tasks. They fell asleep in algebra; reward them with calculus.

Reward: There is nothing wrong with financial incentives; they just can’t be the only thing offered. When top performers succeed, they should receive cash, stock options and raises. They need something they can take (or drive) to the bank.

Recognize: PDRs (i.e. – Public Displays of Recognition) make people feel good. It shows that they (or their team) worked hard, put in more hours and reached their goal. Will other people get jealous? YES! The goal is to help kickstart their drive for recognition.

Promote: I remember the first time I was promoted from Specialty Sales Executive to Senior Sales Executive. It was my first promotion. From that moment on, I worked harder. I lead more teams. I took more responsibility. As Jack Nicholson said in As Good As It Gets, “It made me want to be a better man.”

Opportunity: I was doing well in engineering when I approached my boss about moving into sales. That lateral move was one of the best of my professional career. I learned skills I had never developed in engineering. That opportunity kept me with the company…for 7 more years.

All employees require coaching, mentoring and a path to success. The challenge for the great managers with great employees is to develop different paths for everyone. There is not a “one size fits all” for talent management – especially for your best employees. Create special incentives for them. Your organization, your clients and your employees will appreciate it.

Scientifically Speaking, of course