2 Simple Ideas to create more Sales Opportunities

If you are in sales you know one of the most challenging aspects of what you do is getting in front of prospects. Prospects and clients are bombarded constantly with items that promote, market, or advertise what people do. So we sell, buy, receive, file, or throw away items that we’re just not sure what to do with. Millions of dollars in advertising and promotions end up in the trash, completely ineffective and wasted.

The question becomes: How do you keep your promotional advertising and unique marketing items out of the trash and on the desk? The answer is simple: use creative and appropriate methods to get recognized.

Sales is really about the ability to think quickly, be flexible, creative and innovation. Regardless of what some people may believe, marketing is a huge part of the sales process. If you want to stand apart from the competition, you need to do more than sell products. You need to know how to get your foot in the door. To get your foot in the door you have to market. However, it also means making sure you have the right door and a plan for keeping your foot there.

Selling is also about taking stock of your market, your prospective customer, and yourself before you even go a-knocking. It is about knowing you are doing the right thing for the right reasons.

Selling is truly an art. It is not just about getting the business. It is knowing you are making a difference in the lives of others with the product or service you provide. It is being of service to others, loving what you do and having fun while you do it.

Following are two fun ideas from the book, “101 Ways to Get Your Foot in the Door.”

Growing Solutions
A lot of selling is about assisting prospects during periods of growth.

The gift of a live plant is a great way to get your foot in the door. Most everyone appreciates plants. They bring life into a dull space and provide beauty as well. You’d be hard pushed to find a prospect who will deep-six your gift of a plant.

You can play on the words “growth” and “growing” while sending a gift that will stay in the office and on the prospect’s desk.

Along with your card include a note that reads:

-We are interested in helping during this rapid period of growth.
-Is your business growing to the point that you need our service?
-We’d love to help you grow.
-Instructions for growth: Water once a day and call us at ______.
-Congratulations on your growth.”

Don’t be stingy if you’re going to do this. Buy a big healthy plant and have it professionally potted and delivered. The presentation and delivery are as important as the clever play on words.

New Company in Town
A great way to get your foot in the door is to be helpful long before you knock on it. When a new company hits town send them a “My Favorites” list that refers them to the best people, places, and professionals in town.

Make sure these are reputable companies and individuals who offer quality products and services. If there is a specific contact, include that person’s name and number.

A – My Favorites – list could include:
-Chambers of Commerce
-Conference centers
-Consultants
-Florist
-Local associations and contact numbers
-Local printer
-Media contacts
-Restaurants (think about including a take-out menu)
-Office supply store
-Places of interest
-Travel agents

Remember to include yourself and your services!

Once they receive your list, follow up and ask if you can be of assistance in any way. The Law of Reciprocity is a strong one!

The ideas for getting your foot in the door are endless. Again, all it takes is making sure you have the right door, you are appropriately creative, you believe in your product or service, and you are willing to take a risk.

7 Ways to get your prospects to tell you the truth

You’re close, really close, to making a sale. Your potential client is in the market for your product or service and you’ve had a couple of good meetings.

Have you been in this situation before?

Of course you have–we all have, and it’s painful. So, can you keep from getting dropped? Yes–With the Unlock The Game™ Mindset, you can abandon the salesperson role and come from a place of integrity that stems directly from your personal brand that doesn’t compromise your authentic self. This opens communication with your potential clients so you can learn the truth about their situation–and that’s what you always want.

These suggestions will help:

1. Don’t assume the sale. Potential clients are used to the traditional buyer-seller relationship, so they may decide not to tell you things that might make them vulnerable to you. Until you’re sure you know the complete truth, you can never assume the sale.

2. Keep making it easy for potential clients to tell you their truth. Toward the end of your conversation, ask, “Do you have any more questions?” If potential clients say no, follow up with the 100-percent-final truth-gathering question: “Now, are you 100 percent sure that there’s nothing else that I can do on my end to make you feel more comfortable with this situation?” You’ll be amazed how often people then say, “Well, actually, there is one more issue…” And it’s at that point that you really start to hear their truth.

3. Call back to get the truth, not close the sale. Most potential clients who suddenly “disappear” will be expecting you chase them down by calling them and saying, “Hi, I was just wondering where things are at?” Instead, eliminate all sales pressure by telling them that you’re okay with their decision not to move forward, based on their not having called you back. In other words, take a step backward. Most of the time, it’ll open the door to a new level of open, trusting communication.

4. Reassure potential clients that you can handle a “no.” Of course we’d rather not hear a “no.” But the only way to free yourself and your clients from subtle sales pressures is to let them know that it’s not about the sale but about the best choice for them–and if that means no sale, it’s okay, because it’s ultimately not about you but about them.

5. Ask for feedback. Whenever potential clients “disappear,” call them back (e-mail them if you have to, but only as a last resort because dialogue is always better) and simply ask, “Would you please share your feedback with me as to how I can improve for next time? Now that our sales process is over, I’m committed to understanding where I went wrong.” This is not being feeble or weak — it’s being humble, which often triggers the truth.

6. Don’t try to “close” a sale. If your intuition tells you that the sales process isn’t going in the direction it should be going – which is always toward greater trust and truth–trust those feeling. Then, make it safe for potential clients to tell you where they stand. It’s simple–all you have to say is, “Where do you think we should go from here?” (But be prepared: you might not want to hear the truth of how they’re feeling. You can cope with this by keeping your larger goal in mind, which is always to establish that the two of you have a “fit.”)

7. Give yourself the last word. Eliminate the anxiety of waiting for the final calls that will tell you whether the sale is going to happen–instead, schedule a time for getting back to each other. This eliminates chasing. Simply suggest, “Can we plan to get back to each other on a day and at a time that works for you–not to close the sale, but to simply bring closure regardless of what you decide. I’m okay either way, and that’ll save us from having to chase each other.”

You’ll find that these suggestions make selling much less painful because, with Cracking the Code To Success, you learn to focus on the truth instead of the sale.

7 Secrets to Cold Calling

Cold calling the old way is a painful struggle.

But you can make it a productive and positive experience by changing your mindset and cold calling the new way.

To show you what I mean, here are 7 cold calling ideas that even the sales gurus don’t know.

1. Change Your Mental Objective Before You Make the Call

If you’re like most people who make cold calls, you’re hoping to make a sale — or at least an appointment — before you even pick up the phone.

The problem is, the people you call somehow always pick up on your mindset immediately.

They sense that you’re focused on your goals and interests, rather than on finding out what they might need or want.

This short-circuits the whole process of communication and trust-building.

Here’s the benefit of changing your mental objective before you make the call: it takes away the frenzy of working yourself up mentally to pick up the phone.

All the feelings of rejection and fear come from us getting wrapped up in our expectations and hoping for an outcome when it’s premature to even be thinking about an outcome.

So try this. Practice shifting your mental focus to thinking, “When I make this call, I’m going to build a conversation so that a level of trust can emerge allowing us to exchange information back and forth so we can both determine if there’s a fit or not.”

2. Understand the Mindset of the Person You’re Calling

Let’s say you’re at your office and you’re working away.

Your phone rings and someone says, “Hello, my name’s Mark. I’m with Financial Solutions International. We offer a broad array of financial solutions. Do you have a few minutes?”

What would go through your mind?

Probably something like this: “Uh-oh, another salesperson. I’m about to be sold something. How fast can I get this person off the phone?”

In other words, it’s basically over at “Hello,” and you end up rejected.

The moment you use the old cold calling approach — the traditional pitch about who you are and what you have to offer, which all the sales gurus have been teaching for years — you trigger the negative “salesperson” stereotype in the mind of the person you’ve called, and that means immediate rejection.

I call it “The Wall.”

The problem is with how you’re selling, not what you’re selling.

This is an area that’s been ignored in the world of selling.

We’ve all been trained to try to push prospects into a “yes” response on the first call. But that creates sales pressure.

But, if you learn to really understand and put yourself in the mindset of the person you call, you’ll find it easier to avoid triggering The Wall.

It’s that fear of rejection that makes cold calling so frightening.

Instead, start thinking about language that will engage people and not language that will

trigger rejection.

3. Identify a Core Problem That You Can Solve

We’ve all learned that when we begin a conversation with a prospect, we should talk about ourselves, our product, and our solution. Then we sort of hope that the person connects with what we’ve just told them. Right?

But when you offer your pitch or your solution without first involving your prospect by talking about a core problem that they might be having, you’re talking about yourself, not them.

And that’s a problem.

Prospects connect when they feel that you understand their issues before you start to talk about your solutions.

When people feel understood, they don’t put up The Wall. They remain open to talking with you.

Here’s an example based on my own experience. I offer Unlock The Game™ as a new approach in selling. When I call a vice president of sales, I would never start out with, “Hi, my name is Ari, I’m with Unlock The Game, and I offer the newest technique in selling, and I wonder if you have a few minutes to talk now.”

Instead, I wouldn’t even pick up the phone without first identifying one or more problems that I know VPs often have with their sales teams. Problems that Unlock The Game™ can solve.

For example, one common problem is when sales teams and salespeople spend time chasing prospects who have no intention of buying.

So I would start by asking, “Are you grappling with issues around your sales team chasing prospects who lead them on without any intention of buying?”

So, come up with two or three specific core problems that your product or service solves. (Avoid generic problem phrases like “cut costs” or “increase revenue.” They’re too vague.)

4. Start With a Dialogue, Not a Presentation

Let’s return to the goal of a cold call, which is to create a two-way dialogue engaging prospects in a conversation.

We’re not trying to set the person up for a yes or no. That’s the old way of cold calling.

This new cold calling approach is designed to engage people in a natural conversation. The kind you might have with a friend. This lets you both of you decide whether it’s worth your time to pursue the conversation further.

The key here is never to assume beforehand that your prospect should buy what you have to offer, even if they’re a 100 percent fit with the profile of the “perfect customer.”

If you go into the call with that assumption, prospects will pick up on it and The Wall will go up, no matter how sincere you are.

Avoid assuming anything about making a sale before you make a call.

For one thing, you have no idea whether prospects can buy what you have because you know nothing about their priorities, their decisionmaking process, their budget, etc.

If you assume that you’re going to sell them something on that first call, you’re setting yourself up for failure. That’s the core problem with traditional old-style cold calling.

Stay focused on opening a dialogue and determining if it makes sense to continue the conversation.

5. Start With Your Core Problem Question

Once you know what problems you solve, you also know exactly what to say when you make a call. It’s simple. You begin with, “Hi, my name is Ari. Maybe you can help me out for a moment.”

How would you respond if someone said that to you?

Probably, “Sure, how can I help you?” or “Sure, what do you need?” That’s how most people would respond to a relaxed opening phrase like that. It’s a natural reaction.

The thing is, when you ask for help, you’re also telling the truth because you don’t have any idea whether you can help them or not.

That’s why this new approach is based on honesty and truthfulness. That’s why you’re in a very good place to begin with.

When they reply, “Sure, how can I help you?,” you don’t respond by launching into a pitch about what you have to offer. Instead, you go right into talking about the core problem to find out whether it’s a problem for the prospect.

So you say, “I’m just giving you a call to see if you folks are grappling (and the key word here is ‘grappling’) with any issues around your sales team chasing prospects who turn out to never have any intention of buying?”

No pitch, no introduction, nothing about me. I just step directly into their world.

The purpose of my question is to open the conversation and develop enough trust so they’ll feel comfortable having a conversation.

The old way of cold calling advises asking lots of questions to learn about the prospect’s business and to “connect.” The problem is that people see right through that. They know that you have an ulterior motive, and then you’re right back up against The Wall.

These ideas may be hard for you to apply to your own situation at first because trying to leverage calls based on what we know about our solution is so engrained in our thinking.

If you stay with it, though, you can learn to step out of your own solution and convert it into a problem that you can articulate using your prospects’ language.

And that’s the secret of building trust on calls. It’s the missing link in the whole process of cold calling.

6. Recognize and Diffuse Hidden Pressures

Hidden sales pressures that makes The Wall go up can take a lot of forms.

For example, “enthusiasm” can send the message that you’re assuming that what you have is the right fit for the prospect. That can send pressure over the phone to your prospect.

You must be able to engage people in a natural conversation. Think of it as calling a friend. Let your voice be natural, calm, relaxed…easy-going. If you show enthusiasm on your initial call, you’ll probably trigger the hidden sales pressure that triggers your prospect to reject you.

Another element of hidden pressure is trying to control the call and move it to a “next step”.

The moment you begin trying to direct your prospect into your “sales process”, there is a very high likelihood that you can “turn off” your prospect’s willingness to share with you the details of their situation.

It’s important to allow the conversation to evolve naturally and to have milestones or checkpoints throughout your call so you can assess if there is a fit between you and the person you are speaking with.

7. Determine a Fit

Now, suppose that you’re on a call and it’s going well, with good dialogue going back and forth. You’re reaching a natural conclusion…and what happens?

In the old way of cold calling, we panic. We feel we’re going to lose the opportunity, so we try to close the sale or at least to book an appointment. But this puts pressure on the prospect, and you run the risk of The Wall going up again.

Here’s a step that most people miss when they cold call. As soon as they realize that prospects have a need for their solution, they start thinking, “Great, that means they’re interested.”

What they don’t ask is, “Is this need a top priority for you or your organization to solve, or is it something that’s on the back burner for a while?”

In other words, even if you both determine that there ia a problem you can solve, you have to ask whether solving it is a priority. Sometimes there’s no budget, or it isn’t the right time. It’s important that you find this out, because months later you’ll regret not knowing this earlier.

Putting the Pieces Together

Have you ever wondered where the “numbers game” concept came from?

It came from someone making a call, getting rejected, and the boss saying, “Call someone else.”

But with the new way of cold calling, it’s not about how many people you call. It’s about what you say and how you come across.

Do you remember the definition of insanity—continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results?

If you go on using the same old cold calling methods, you’ll go on experiencing the ever-increasing pain of selling.

But if you adopt a new approach and learn how to remove pressure from your initial cold calls, you’ll experience so much success and satisfaction that it’ll really change the way you do business, bring you sales success beyond your imagination—and eliminate “rejection” from your vocabulary for good.

6 Methods To Fund Your New Venture

I’m often asked: what is the best way to finance a new business venture. This question is usually followed by “So, do you ever invest in new business ventures?”

The answers, respectively, are: 1. there is no “best” way to fund a new business; and 2. I do invest in new business ventures, but darn it I can’t today because I left my checkbook in my other suit.

The truth is there are a variety of ways to finance a new business and which way is best for you depends totally on your product, your market, your financial requirements, your burn rate, and most importantly, your personal and financial situation.

So with that in mind, here are a few of the most common ways to finance a new business without hitting old Tim up for a loan. Keep in mind that all methods have pros and cons and some (or most) may not work for your specific situation. No matter what financing method you choose thoroughly investigate the ups and downs and don’t jump in with both feet until you’re sure you’ll land on solid ground.

Savings and Investments

The first source you should consider tapping is your own savings and investments. I’m a huge fan of self-financing when it comes to business because it doesn’t make you responsible to others should the business fail. The bad thing is that it if things do go under, it will be your money that goes down with the ship. If you’re not willing to risk your own capital you certainly shouldn’t be willing to risk anyone else’s.

Friends and Family

After tapping their own savings and investments, many entrepreneurs turn to friends and family for help. This works well for some, but here’s the creed I live by: NEVER borrow money from anyone you have to eat Thanksgiving dinner with. Nothing causes tension in a family like lending money that is never paid back. And notice I say “lending money” rather than investing money. Venture capitalists invest money. Your relatives lend you money. They will expect it back someday even if they say they won’t. Remember, when a loved one invests in your business they are emotionally investing in you. It would be tough to tell mom and dad that their favorite son lost their life savings because his business went down the drain.

Credit Cards

I financed my first business on credit cards, which was an incredibly stupid thing to do given the fact that my business could have failed and left me with thousands of dollars in credit card debt that would have taken until the year 2099 to pay off. It worked out in the end for me, but if you decide to finance your business on plastic keep in mind that you will be paying extremely high interest rates on the money you’ve borrowed and unless you hit it big you will be paying for that money for many years to come.

Mortgage The Farm

Bank loans are next to impossible to get if you don’t have collateral and a track record of business success, which is why many entrepreneurs use the equity in their homes to finance their business after being turned down for a bank loan. While this makes more sense than building a business on a deck of credit cards, the financial risks are no less abundant. You must pay this money back whether your business succeeds or not, but it is a good source of low interest money to get you started and the interest may be tax deductible (check with your accountant to make sure).

Angel Investors

An angel investor is typically a wealthy individual who invests in start up ventures for a share of the ownership. Angel investors are usually the first formal investors in a business and provide the seed money to get the business up and running. Some angel investors will write you a check and leave you alone to run your business while others consider their investment a license to “help you” manage and make decisions. If you do accept angel money make sure the terms are clearly defined on both sides. Angel money always comes with strings. Make sure you know whether those strings come in the form of a bow or a noose before you accept an angel’s check.

Venture Capitalists

Venture capitalists are to angel investors as pit bulls are to Chihuahuas. That’s not to say all VC are big, bad dogs, but they do have powerful jaws that can chew up your business and spit it out if things don’t go their way. VC money doesn’t come with strings, it comes with chains and locks and lots of legal documents. VC always have the upper hand in any deal they invest in. That’s just how it works and that’s the price you pay to get access to VC money.

If your business gets to the level that VC money becomes a viable option, don’t jump at the first bone a VC dangles before your eyes. If one VC likes your idea, others will, too. Present to multiple VC and carefully consider each offer before you accept the check.

Just remember, no matter how you finance your business, use the money wisely. Don’t buy $1,500 plasma monitors and $1,000 Hermann Miller chairs.

Have a very clear plan of how the money will be used and how it will be paid back.

And remember this, the more you can shoestring the business, but more of the business you will own in the end.

5 Strategies to Pick the Your Home Business Opportunity

With the rise of the Internet, there’s never been a better time to launch a home business. Millions of people are choosing to work from home and make money on line, using only their computer and mouse. Millions more are involved in more traditional network marketing, scheduling parties and selling products to their friends, neighbors, and family. If you want to make money on line, how do you know what the best home business opportunity is for you? Read on for five tips to help you choose.

1. Know your options. There are tens of thousands of Internet-based home businesses, if not more. They range from multi level marketing opportunities to ecommerce to intellectual property sales. Your first step should be to find a website that has an overview of the best home business opportunities. This will save you countless hours scouring the Internet in order to find all of the choices available.

2. Know your strengths. Perhaps you’re a great writer, and would enjoy – and profit – from taking public domain books and articles and crafting them into books and articles that you could sell on the Internet. Perhaps you’re an experience network marketer and would do well selling products or online opportunities to others who want to break into the field of network marketing. When reviewing home business opportunities, narrow your field to those that play to your strengths.

3. Know your weaknesses. If you don’t know the first thing about building websites, it doesn’t make sense to choose a home business where you’ll have to build a bunch of websites. Likewise, if you couldn’t sell water to someone in the desert, don’t go into direct sales. Even though you might find an incredible home business opportunity, if it doesn’t dovetail with your talents, it’s not for you. It’s like any other job: there are jobs you’re automatically qualified for, those that you can learn as you go, and others that are beyond your reach. Again, success lies in playing to your strengths.

4. Diversify your revenue streams. Despite what many opportunities claim, your best chances for success come when you bring in revenue from several sources. You may begin with one home business, but over the course of a few months, you should add several others. By doing this, if one revenue stream goes south in any given month, you’ll always have backup sources of revenue.

5. Set goals and meet them. In order to be successful, you need to set goals. The goals you set should include revenue goals, marketing goals, and goals specific to the home businesses you’re engaged in. Once you’ve set your goals, you need to make a plan to reach them. Then, you need to commit to doing whatever it takes to follow your plan.

Having a home business is incredibly rewarding. If you’re a parent, you’ll have more time to spend with your children. If you’re retired, you’ll have additional income. If you’re a student, you can pay for your education. If you simply like the idea of giving up the hassles of a nine-to-five job, a home business will give you the freedom you desire. Just do your research, play to your strengths, diversify your revenue streams, and set and meet your goals, and you’ll experience the satisfaction that being a successful home business owner can bring.