AccountHUNTER

The Daily Journal for Ad Agency New Business Hunters

Arrogance vs. Confidence

Posted by Shane Murphy on Wednesday, December 13, 2006

handshake1.jpgArrogant vs. Confident… have you considered the difference in your presenting? Do you know how you come off to a potential client?

This distinction popped out at me as I was looking around the net for something great to blog. I found it at BidBlog:

In short, arrogance kills listening skills. And where there is no listening, there is no learning. Where there is no learning, there is no way to determine the most meaningful way to differentiate your offering for the customer in question. Without meaningful differentiation, you are a commodity. When you are a commodity, you compete on little else but price.

I’ve learned in my days that when it gets to just competing on price, you’re in trouble. If your price is the best, you get the business. But what happens when your price, when your rate isn’t the best? Can you overcome that objection with confidence, or does your arrogance get the best of you?

I know, I know… you’re sitting there thinking “I’m not arrogant at all!”

Well, I’ve made that mistake many times over in my career. It’s still a struggle for me to keep my confidence appearing as such, and not spilling over into that ugly arrogant style. It usually doesn’t rise up and slap me in the face until I lose a deal and review what the devil went wrong.

Selling isn’t about just being the best. It’s not about being the best-priced. It’s about caring for the needs of the client. It’s about giving the client what they want, not just what we want. It’s about creating those win-win opportunities and working them out together.

It’s a little bit preachy, I know…

Posted in Pitching, Schmoozing | Leave a Comment »

You Can’t Have It!

Posted by Shane Murphy on Monday, December 11, 2006

We’ve been talking a lot about closing deals lately here at AccountHUNTER, and I’m going to continue that theme a bit today. This afternoon, I read an interesting entry over at LandingTheDeal regarding the “takeaway close,” and felt it was something good to share.

Really, the idea of the takeaway is just another form of the “getting inside their head psychology” that I wrote about last week. It’s all about getting the clients synapses firing a bit and getting them to think about what’s going on.

“In sales, it works this way: If the prospect is hesitant and you are not getting anywhere, you start to pack up your sample case, papers, or whatever, while telling him – in a serious, sincere, even somber voice – “Maybe this isn’t right for you.”

As soon as you do that, most prospects will immediately say – “Wait, hold on a minute!” – and ask you to continue your presentation, much more interested than they were only seconds ago.”

Silly, but effective. Take a look at it. It won’t work for every possible selling situation you ever find yourself in… but what close will?

Posted in Closing | Leave a Comment »

The Value of the Testimonial

Posted by Shane Murphy on Saturday, December 9, 2006

testimonial.jpgHow are you at asking your current clients for a testimonial? Is it something that you are able to do without hesitation, or does it make you uncomfortable?

I think it goes without saying that conventional logic states that the testimonial is one of the most powerful tools available when you’re out hunting down new business. After all, what speaks more to somebody who doesn’t know your record — you talking yourself up, or somebody else talking you up?

The answer goes without saying, I hope. I’d like to think that if you’re reading this blog, you’re serious about selling. And if you are, then you know the value of the testimonial. Consider this — how many times have you asked a friend about something that you were thinking about buying, and it was their thoughts that made you feel better about the purchase? Happens all the time, doesn’t it?

It’s not hard, really, to start gathering this sort of stuff about your services once you conquer the fear of just asking for it. It’s easy to do, in all seriousness. The key is to just ask for them. Take a look at You’ve Got Contacts to see a simple idea of how to gather them… a simple postcard concept.

Posted in Planning | Leave a Comment »

Overcoming Distraction

Posted by Shane Murphy on Monday, December 4, 2006

gossip.jpgI spent most of today with my two kids, getting them acclimated to a new school, as we have recently moved. To be honest, I’m insistent with them that it’s some simple planning and people skills that will make this transition much easier for them, but of course, there’s no talking sense with teenagers.

So, you wonder, why on earth is Shane rambling about his kids? Well, today it comes not from what I’ve been trying to teach them, but more from what I see them — and the others that I saw in and around the school today — engaged in on a daily basis.

And that is the not-so-fine art of being distracted.

Of course, it’s not just teenagers who find themselved distracted much of the time, is it? It’s us too, as professionals. Are you focused every day while you’re hunting for new business, or are you like most of us, easily pulled away for the slightest distraction?

So when I sat down today to blog a bit and get away from the craziness of moving into a new house, I headed out on the net to see what was out there on the art of distraction. I wasn’t surprised to find a nice little blurb from Brandon over at SalesTeamTools about this very issue.

I have to be honest – he nailed exactly what I was thinking, and exactly what I try to help my daughters understand every day. Being distracted isn’t a neccessity – it’s a choice. The successful among us understand that, and they avoid it. The much larger percentage of us might understand it, but aren’t strong enough to avoid it.

“Distraction is the great destroyer of careers. It’s the neutralizer of otherwise talented, intelligent people.

Spending your time on what matters most, hour by hour, in the face of so many interruptions (both unexpected and self-inflicted) has become the great challenge of our time. And while countless books and articles and presentations have been built around overcoming it, the reality is it will ultimately come down to your ability to make the right choices moment by moment.”

I coudn’t have said it better myself.

Posted in Closing | Leave a Comment »

Surprising Customer Service

Posted by Shane Murphy on Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dateline: Day before Thanksgiving, 4:45pm

The cellphone rings… on the other end, a regional manager of Cinnabon — you know, the wildly-addicting cinnamon rolls?  He was calling to discuss a letter that  my girlfriend had Emailed to them the day prior.  On Saturday, we had a less-than-acceptable situation at one of their locations.

She stewed on it for a few days, then sent the email.  Less than 24 hours later, the Regional Manager is on the phone to investigate the problem and offer a solution.

How’s your customer service?  Do you make the one-off sale and then move on to the next hit, or do you practice this sort of proactive customer management?

Think about it as you wolf down that turkey.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Planning | Leave a Comment »

Preparing Your Pitch – 5 Simple Steps

Posted by Shane Murphy on Tuesday, November 21, 2006

five.jpgAs I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I have a hard time just sitting through any sort of sales presentation and listening to the pitch. I find myself constantly taking notes about the presentation itself, rather than focusing on the product or service at hand. Today was no different. I was fortunate enough today to witness two different sales pitches, each for completely different services.

Without going into details on exactly what I was pitched on today, I saw this as a great chance to put forth some of my thoughts on building a solid pitch.

1. Be prepared. It should go without saying, but it’s all too common for a presentation to fall flat… not because the presenter didn’t know their product, but because they didn’t take the time to prepare to present it to their target audience. An unprepared, templated pitch is not unlike an annoying cold call. When it’s done, you know who called and you know what they were selling. You’re just not sure what any of it has to do with you.

2. Customize the pitch. To some of us, customizing is as much a no-brainer as putting on our shoes. For others, it seems to be well beyond their understanding. These are no longer the days of “cookie-cutter presenting,” where my service is a one-size-fits-all variety. Every customer who I pitch is unique. They have unique needs, unique conceptual understandings, and unique budgetary requirements.

Late this afternoon, I was talking with a colleague who was telling me how frustrated she was with a certain architect — an architect who told her that when they moved to their new offices, all projectors would be mounted on the ceiling in a specific way. After asking some questions, it was apparent that the architect was telling her that the format was how “all the other buildings are,” and nobody would use it any other way anyhow.

Why? Because ‘customization’ would be much harder than doing what the client wanted. And she told me that she planned to bring in a different architect. What a shocker.

3. Have examples. Not one-size-fits-all examples, but real examples that resonate with the client. This, of course, goes back to being prepared. Ask questions, do research *before* you step into that room to do your pitch. Make your presentation match their needs and you’ll see an immediate impact.

4. Ask questions and take notes. Ask more questions of your audience than they ask of you. Write down what happens while you pitch. If you can’t write while you’re talking, you better kick your memory into overdrive when you’re done. This really didn’t happen in either of the pitches that I was exposed to today. Both were bland, and in neither did my suitors ask me questions about what I need.

I’ve always followed a simple rule with questions — Ask two questions for every one they ask you. Now that takes effort!

5. Follow up. I can’t stress this one enough. The actual time spent in your presentation pales to your prep work and your followup. Fail to followup, and you can pretty much plan to fail.

BOTTOM LINE
: Delivering a sales pitch is about a lot more than just showing up and spewing everything you know about your product or service. Preparing, customizing, showing examples, asking questions, and following up are the five critical links to success. Miss one of them, and you’ll be chasing the game forever.

Posted in Pitching, Planning | Leave a Comment »

Get Organized… or Stay Confused

Posted by Shane Murphy on Monday, November 20, 2006

hoarding2.jpgIt’s a subject which I rarely write about here at AccountHUNTER, but it’s also one that’s near and dear to my heart: the importance of being organized.

Yes, it’s critical to be as organized as possible if you intend to succeed long-term, regardless of what you’re aiming for. I know, I know… I’ve got more than a few acquaintances who insist that their ‘mess’ is perfectly normal, and that they know where everything is and can get to it at any moment.

To that, I say “Sure you can… sure you can.”

So when I saw this short blog over at LandingTheDeal, I had to smile. Now, there are lots of ‘systems’ out there to help you de-clutter your life… that can help you to simplify. I don’t claim to own a system, but here’s a 4-point list of what I do, every day.

1. Centralize your email and calendar. Blackberry’s, multiple computers, wireless cards… it’s harder and harder today to maintain one single place to receive and track information. I realize that for many people, with enterprise servers and all that, it becomes more cumbersome to maintain one of anything. But for me as a small business owner, my entire life is now on Google. From mail to my calendar, it’s all there. I’m not saying that Google is the only way, but it’s a great solution that works well for me.

2. Minimize paper clutter. Open your mail when it comes, sort it, and trash the rest. It drives me nuts when I go to somebody’s office and I see piles — literally *piles* of catalogs, envelopes, and inserts laying in a heap on the desk. Make filing a habit, and stick to it like nobody’s business.

3. Take advantage of available technologies. The simple concept of a scanner and/or a fax machine can eliminate 75-80% of your paper clutter. I’m in the habit of faxing all of my business-related receipts to an Efax number, which simply puts them in an electronic format for filing. No paper required. When I started doing that a few years back, it seemed silly. But now, with every receipt I’ve ever needed conveniently filed on my portable hard drive… I just don’t worry about it anymore. (Yes, I also file them all in a folder system, but it’s not nearly as tedious as it once was, knowing that I have my backups.)

4. Organize your workspace. Small business owners… the kitchen table is not your friend. Neither is that awesome recliner in front of your plasma TV. Get your office space organized, and stay on top of it.

Four simple things. It’s not as hard as it may sound, but it’s also not as easy as you might think.

BOTTOM LINE: when it comes to the importance of organization – you’ve got to have a plan, or you’re just planning to fail.

Posted in Organizing | Leave a Comment »

The Trouble with Selling Services?

Posted by Shane Murphy on Wednesday, November 15, 2006

winner2.JPGSticking with issues of selling in the service industry, I link you today to a wonderful piece from RainToday.com that gets into this issue a bit deeper than I did on Monday.

It’s pretty simple to see that one of the biggest problems in solid lead generation — when you don’t have a tangible product to sell — is that of getting the prospect to visualize exactly what it is that you’re selling. From the RainToday piece…

How do you make the intangible tangible? Take a cue from your local ice cream shop… let your clients and prospects have a taste. Professional services businesses can do this by creating and leveraging offers and experiences that allow potential buyers to see, touch, and taste a bit of what you will provide for them as a client.”

For my business, that means getting out there everyday and doing the things that most people aren’t willing to do. For example, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time over the past month in building relationships with establishments, then working out trade agreements with them for me to do some work in exchange for the ability to use their offices to hold free seminars.

Of course, that means that I’ve also spent a good deal of time in actually developing those seminars. Not to mention the time taken to deliver them. What has it netted me so far? Little in the way of revenue, but it has made me recognizable in my area and gotten me a solid prospects list.

And it’s made my services more tangible to those prospects.

Another exercise that I’ve been actively pursuing is pitching a weekly column to some newspapers (tip of the hat to Jeffrey Gitomer on that idea). My pitch is simple: I’ll gladly commit to writing the column at no charge — all I’m asking for is a guaranteed news hole in the paper on the same day each week. This is proving to be more difficult than I would have hoped, but that doesn’t deter me from working it. But once it happens (and it will), the rewards of it will come ten-fold.

As Gitomer says… “Next time someone tells you ‘never,’ that means ‘not for at least an hour’.”

Success in selling anything is about doing the things that very few others are willing to do. It means being creative… doing the unexpected… and never giving up.

The trouble with selling services is that most people are unwilling to do just that.

Posted in Organizing, Planning, Prospecting | Leave a Comment »

Lead Generation Mistakes: Are You Making Them?

Posted by Shane Murphy on Monday, November 13, 2006

mistake.jpgAs I continue to work on my small business marketing efforts, I’m always on the lookout for interesting insights that may help me to see different ways of ‘getting the word out’ about what I do.  As anyone who sells anything knows, it’s not always a black-and-white effort to attract serious leads.

Over the weekend, I came across a great piece at EyesOnSales that covered the “Top 10 Lead Generation Mistakes.”  Now, consider that the article has a focus solely on selling professional services as you read it, but the concept of the writing can easily be applied to any sales genre.

There’s nothing earth-shattering in this piece, but it’s a good read for getting your mind right on a Monday morning.

Posted in Organizing, Prospecting | Leave a Comment »

Creating Selling Conversations

Posted by Shane Murphy on Tuesday, November 7, 2006

conversation.JPGThis is one of my hot-button issues… coming on too strong in the sales process. I imagine that we’ve ALL done it at some point in our careers. Hopefully, most of us have figured out that this is not the right way to approach selling.

Reading through this wonderful piece from Duct Tape Marketing, Jill Konrath gets right to the point. Consider this outstanding advice that she wraps the whole piece around:

Questions are the key! They have to be provocative, insightful questions that:

  • Invite prospects to think about key challenges they’re facing relevant to your offering.
  • Explore how staying with the status quo will impact their ability to achieve their ever-escalating goals & objectives.
  • Clarify criteria and other considerations involved in making a decision to change.
  • Spark ideas about taking their business to the next level.

Make sure to read this first thing today – it’ll set you up for a great week!

Posted in Closing | Leave a Comment »

 
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