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Conversation Starters!

How are you?

That’s weird & not what you should be asking your prospects or customers.

It doesn’t mean anything. Certainly not a conversation starter.

For you to have a fruitful discussion over phone or in person, you need to engage your customer in a way that sparks his or her interest.

If you understand their business & the person, you will readily have a range of things to speak about.

Some ideas:

  1. Innovations in their domain
  2. Pet projects they are working on
  3. What they truly care about
  4. Ask, what they are working on right now, in a non-intrusive way
  5. Milestones reached by them
  6. Their Products/Services
  7. Their People
  8. Their Work culture
  9. Their CEO
  10. Their campaigns & all the noise they are making in the marketplace

You got it.

It’s out and out their Story, their Show and your love for their Company.

Get them talking.

You shouldn’t be talking.

You just listen. And. Take. Notes. In your Mind.

#HappySelling

#b2b #sales #enterprisesales #business #changethegame #conversationstarter #engage #people #customers #prospects

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Track your competition!

Those were the days I was hungry for leads.

I used to trouble my tech support guys for leads.

Not a good lead source, you say. Hang on.

One such day, my tech support guy said “go to xyz [name of a place]” unable to bear my pestering.

Not knowing where to go, I knocked on all doors & accidentally found a training institute & met few people. Left my cards with every other department where I couldn’t meet anyone.

Two days later, the unimaginable happened.

I got a call.

Rest is history.

That turned out to be a very big order for many software for multi location.

My colleague had been in touch with his ex-colleague & friend. He casually heard him say that he had been to that place but didn’t tell him the client name.

I found it out.

Later, I asked my colleague how did he get that lead. That’s when he told me about his conversation with his ex-colleague.

This story helps me work with optimism till date.

Takeaways:

  1. Follow your competitors, if you cannot be there before they do.
  2. Be optimistic.
  3. Ask your colleagues, if you are stuck somewhere.
  4. Be at the right place at the right time. If you cannot be early, that is.
  5. Highlight your strengths.
  6. Allow the buyer to contact you & help them make it their decision to choose you. This is very important.

#HappySelling

#b2b #changethegame #sales #marketing #leads #business #leadgeneration #competition

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Rediscovering the “Art” of Prospecting!

John Barrows & M. Jeffrey Hoffman conducted the webinar “John Barrows Goes Back to School: Rediscovering the “Art” of #Prospecting” yesterday or today [depending on where you live :)].

I enjoyed it thoroughly. What an energy & insight. Learnt about “Why you? Why you now?” technique to turn cold calls and cold emails to hot ones. How to get them to call you back?

It is important to connect with the C level but start from bottom. Bottom-up approach. That Fedex story is going to stay with me forever.

My takeaways:

1. Fake it to yourself until you actually make it.

2. Connecting with the non-buyer first to learn something that you can use when you have the live conversation with the buyer.

3. Prefer live conversations with a non-buyer over email interaction with a buyer. [more relevant now, when all of us are getting thousands of emails]

4. Look for triggers while prospecting.

5. Energy and enthusiasm are important in Sales.

6. Keep yourself busy always.

7. Do not jump on the inbound leads at once. Give it some time before you do that.

8. Do not use all that you have learnt in an MBA when you interact with the C Level.

9. Have the maturity to walk out of a deal early if there is no fit.

10. During discovery & prospecting call, disqualify more than you qualify.

#Happyselling #b2b #sales #salesprocess #changethegame

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Networking in Sales!

That was Year 1996.

I had just then started selling to Corporate. Until then, I was selling to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Selling to corporate called for lot more skills than selling to entrepreneurs & small businesses.

Networking skill is one of them.

We didn’t have #LinkedIn then.

I was hanging out where my clients met.

Road shows, seminars, conferences, product launches, workshops and any event where the corporate was in full attendance.

In most cases, the event would be conducted by our Principals – Microsoft, Oracle, IBM etc. We used to get a stall outside the hall to showcase our solutions.

Do you know how and when I met my clients?

During tea breaks and lunch time.

I sacrificed my lunch to go around and meet people. When they were having their lunch.

It used to pay off.

I would introduce myself. Exchange business cards. Would ask them if they are looking for some help.

I then promise to visit them soon and talk further. They’ll agree.

If there were 2000 people in attendance, I would have met at least 40 customers. That was just 2%.

But I have 40 contacts now.

I would start my outreach immediately after the event.

I provided value to my prospects before they bought anything. And I provided more value after the sale.

Coming back to networking, I networked not just with prospects and customers but also with competitors, partners and principals. Literally, anyone in the Eco-system.

I would know about the purchase of Air Conditioners by my prospect through the AC vendors, even though I was selling only Software.

All those strategies apply these days as well. On LinkedIn as well as otherwise also.

Stay tuned for more stories.

Happy Selling!!

#sales #customers #prospects #networking #skills

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My role model & other anecdotes….

There was a senior colleague who commanded respect from clients, principals, resellers and us colleagues. He was there in office every single day before office started for business. He was truly professional, knowledgeable, kept up his promises, always busy, added value to clients as well as partners, a crisis manager, a great people manager and had coffee & biscuits with us every evening after work. The evenings were interesting too.

One day I was preparing a proposal and he advised me to work on the proposals after office hours and not during productive sales time. From then on, all through the day, I was in front of customers talking about a new product or the upcoming workshops or just building relationship or talking about how technology is changing businesses and even lives. I normally simplify technology. It’s quite simple. I don’t get something if it is too complex. So, I question, read, inquire, find out the truth and understand it in detail. And then I simplify it and fine tune it according to the client I meet.

I think I built good relationships over the years with my clients and prospects. Some of them won’t buy anything related to technology without checking with me even if it is something that I don’t sell. Those were the zen moments in Account Management.

My role model has changed with time. Today it is Gary Vaynerchuk. He posted recently where in he taught how to tell a story. He says, if you are a real estate agent, tell me about the town and not just the house you want to sell. If you are passionate about Sales, tell me why you love it, your most interesting clients, biggest challenges etc. In essence, he says, don’t talk about the product / service that you are selling. Instead share the interesting anecdotes around your business. People would love to hear that. The rest will follow soon. Idea is to make things interesting.

Here is the image he had shared:

Happy StoryTelling!!

Happy Selling!!

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Create Content else Curate Content!!

Today Customers are better informed than the Sales people themselves. They do all the homework before calling you for a discussion.

Content is King, as they say. And Marketing is the new Sales. Though it can never replace Sales, Digital Marketing & Inbound marketing is a given. And businesses need to invest in it.

So, how to create content?

  1. Make a list of what your customers are looking for. And write about them.
  2. Problems faced by your customers and probable solutions for those problems.
  3. Reference guides in your industry – trade them in return for email ids.
  4. Best Practices – will show your thought leadership on the subject.
  5. White Papers – can be completely unbiased on any topic. Need not narrow down to only what you sell.
  6. Approach Papers – what will be your approach for any given situation.
  7. Case Studies – what did Customer A do when faced with a certain issue and how did he become successful with your product or service.
  8. eBooks – helpful resources for various tasks or problems.
  9. What to do in any situation or what not to do – if you help your customers when they are stuck, there is a good chance that they will remember you when they are looking for what you are selling.
  10. Customer speak – not just testimonials but capture in depth customer experiences.
  11. Expert Views – collect views from experts in your area of operation on a particular subject and publish them.
  12. Events – Talk about the upcoming events in your Industry or your experience in a just happened event.
  13. Podcasts – nothing like a talk show and it will be interesting if you can invite industry experts for the show.
  14. Demos – You can have a YouTube channel to give a sneak peak in to your product.
  15. User guides – Let it be easy for your customers to locate them online.
  16. Last but not the least, Curate Content: it is not that you are the only expert in your industry. There are plenty of them out there. They are creating good quality content as well. Curate them. This should add to your credibility.

Happy Creating and Curating !!

Happy Selling!

For any help in Marketing, Sales, Startup Consulting or CRM Software, please contact me at:

kannan @ zignalytics dot com

#marketing #sales #crm #startupconsulting #digitalmarketing #inboundmarketing

Keep your Content Fresh!! Always!

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An Interior Designer reveals his secret!

I asked him how me manages his customer data, in the hope that I will generate interest for a CRM.

He is my friend. And it was a casual conversation. He laughed & said “we don’t have too much data to manage”.

What he said after that makes sense.

He said that he & his team complete the interior designing of a flat or a villa or an office space & hand it over to customers. We make sure that they are happy, he said. They refer customers to us & most of our business comes only through word of mouth & referral, he added.

He said, he mostly gets invited for the inauguration of the property. It is there he meets his prospective customers. Now there’s the secret sauce. Hang on for a second. He said, if those people, his customer’s friends & relatives, who come for the inaugural function, like his work, they will take his business card & call him when they have a need.

This is nothing but in-bound marketing coupled with social proof, touch & feel & non salesy approach all put together. What more can you ask for? He has all the relevant marketing strategies with right mix & proportion. It is a well oiled machinery. It will take care of itself.

He should only concentrate now on deliveries, quality, speed & customer satisfaction. Fantastic, isn’t it?

Some pointers for us, to work on:

  1. Be where our customers are.
  2. Be non-salesy.
  3. Provide social proof.
  4. Let the word of mouth spread.
  5. Provide good customer service.
  6. Create a community of happy customers.
  7. Let our customers touch & feel. Test Drive, Free Trial, Freemium, Freebies, what have you?
  8. Get referrals. No sales involved with the referred prospect. Our customers do the marketing & sales for us.
  9. Pick up the phone. Meet face to face.
  10. Be friendly. After all, we don’t live to sell or do business & make money. Only.

Happy Marketing!

Happy Selling!!

sales @ zignalytics .com

#marketing #inbound-marketing #wordofmouth #referral

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Two Peas in a Pod!

That’s exactly how you and your customer should look like.

The phrase “Two Peas in a Pod!” means “Two people who are very similar, typically in interests, dispositions, or beliefs”.

They say opposites attract each other. But that’s not true in Sales! At least.

Customers do business with people whom they like. They find excuses, reasons & justifications to do business with them. And they like those that are just like them. That’s not strange.

I have been in a number of sales situations and have studied them deeply. What I found is that Customers will go to any extent to buy from you, if and only if they like you. And the reverse is true as well.

Sales is both an Art and a Science!

When you analyze, you find that, more often than not, Customers buy from People who match their Interests and Beliefs.

Early in the process, it is very important to understand the Customer deeply and quickly align with them. Just like how a chameleon changes its colour depending on its surroundings.

Humans can be manipulated they say. But I believe that manipulating our own self is much easier. Build yourself to what the customer wants if you want to strike a deal. I am not talking about those ruthless, unethical customers. Those are exceptions.

How can you become “Two Peas in a Pod” with the customer:

  1. Find customers whose interests & beliefs you readily match. There are plenty out there.
  2. If not, match the interests of the customers you meet. It’s called aligning with the customer. Only if it makes sense, that is.
  3. Treat their problems as your own.
  4. Have the customer’s perspective.
  5. Partner with them.

Years ago, before I became an entrepreneur, I had a colleague who worked in another team in Sales. Whenever he met any prospect or an existing customer he used to smile, just like all of us do. What’s different is this: He used to repeat the last two words in every sentence that the customer spoke. He didn’t undergo any training to do this.  He was doing the same thing whenever he spoke with any of us as well. This probably helped him get Social with the customer. Worth emulating, right?

What are your thoughts on becoming instantly like-able?

Share your thoughts and comments with us.

Write to us at: sales@zignalytics.com

#sales #twopeasinapod #likeable

 

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Social Customer Era

I was talking to a friend who works with Juniper Networks sometime ago and he was talking about how his company is building up the Application Infrastructure, Network Infrastructure etc. He was giving me a heads up on how things are converging. He also told me how it is essential to identify someone [read customer] through his device and publish relevant content. The device may be a desktop, a wifi enabled laptop, may be a mobile phone, a smart phone, may be a tablet and a host of other devices [may even be an IP TV].

The idea is to get the customer hooked on to your brand. We know any Enterprise has multiple brands – Customer Brand, Employer Brand, Supplier Brand and so on. In each of these markets the Enterprise has to excel. Today, the Customer eco system has evolved much and the Customer is the center of all actions in an Enterprise. And the Customer can contact your Organization through any device or through any media – the traditional phone call, email, Social Media, Your Corporate Website, through your Partner Website, Search Engine etc. You should have an eco system to not only capture “him” but also serve him the way he expects to be served.

Today’s customers are really smart. It is not just sufficient to keep them happy. It is essential to keep them engaged always. You can use a host of tools to keep him engaged. Think of occasional email, social media, blogs, wikis, podcasts, webinars and more.

Upgrade your Systems to meet the expectations and further delight him.

Welcome to Social Customer Era.