AccountHUNTER

The Daily Journal for Ad Agency New Business Hunters

Archive for July, 2006

Searching for the Next-Gen BBQ Grill

Posted by Shane Murphy on Friday, July 14, 2006

grill.jpgA bit on pitching today, but from a unique angle.   I came across this very interesting blog item on VentureBlog this morning, and after some thought decided that it warranted mention here at AccountHUNTER.  Not because it’s a sure-fire way to help you build a better pitch, but more because it shows two things clearly.

  1. A well-prepared pitch is a better pitch
  2. A client who recognizes the quality of your pitch is more apt to ask “Why not?” as opposed to “Why?”

The crux of the item is simple… a quick overview of two pitches.  One demonstrated an impressive level of understanding of the clients issue at hand, the other more of a demonstration of confidence and understanding of the product being pitched.

Look at it and take it in as you head for wherever you’re heading this weekend!

Advertisements

Posted in Pitching | Leave a Comment »

The Cherry On Top

Posted by Shane Murphy on Wednesday, July 12, 2006

sundae.jpgYesterday was a fun day in the grand scheme of my world.  I pitched a pretty large company with a proposal for a sales training opportunity.  A few weeks of prep work, followed by the development of my proposal and finalizing my presentation.  Training is something that’s near and dear to my heart, but the process that I used to put the package together is one that I write about on this blog on a pretty regular basis.

Lots of research, lots of work, and the presentation went great.  When I got back home last night and hit the sack, my mind was already churning about the “thank you” letter I intended to draft the next morning.  As I tried to conceptualize the words I intended to use, I started thinking about just how many people never take the time to extend this simplest of gratitudes.

Of course, if my competitors choose not to send a letter of gratitude, all the better for me, I suppose…

I was talking to a good friend of mine today about the “Thank you letter.”  He’s a small business owner and he’s used to making these sorts of buying decisions.  Notice that I didn’t say “hiring decisions,” but “buying decisions,” because when a client buys your proposal or an employer hires you for a position, it’s a purchase, isn’t it?

My friend compared the “Thank you letter” to the topping on an ice cream sundae.  “The thank you letter is the cherry on top,” he told me.  “If the sundae was no good, it doesn’t matter.”

The next time you wrap a pitch, keep this in mind.  Make sure that your sundae is top class, then add that nice juicy cherry to help you stand out from the crowd and win the business.

Posted in Pitching, Schmoozing | Leave a Comment »

Most Research Starts… on Google

Posted by Shane Murphy on Monday, July 10, 2006

target.jpgI had “researching” down as one of the topics I wanted to blog about this week, so I had to laugh when I pulled up my Google calendar tonight and started my night. First thing that I see when I start my looking is that Google is the top place for people to go to do their searching.

Hopefully, they’re not talking about you! I know that when I need to research a prospect that I’m about to pitch, Google is on my list of places to go, but I also know that there are other services out there that specialize in weeding out the noise that you inevitably encounter when doing any sort of general search on the Internet.

Of course, I’m partial to Ad-ology myself. But there are other tools out there that will cut down your research times significantly. What won’t cut it down, however, is doing what nearly 80% of Internet users do — run to Google. Google is an incredible service, but Google can’t easily help me find out the specifics that I need to really put a stand-out pitch together.

Posted in Researching | Leave a Comment »

It’s Friday! Now What?

Posted by Shane Murphy on Friday, July 7, 2006

golf.jpgI came down to my home office this morning and got my coffee going… then sat down and looked at my desk. Then I looked outside, and it’s an impressive day today. There’s barely a cloud in the sky. Maybe I should go grab the clubs and…

You know, there are Fridays where I feel like there’s not a whole lot that can be accomplished, and it’s so easy to fall into that trap.

“Nobody wants to see me today… it’s almost the weekend.”

“He doesn’t want to be bothered by me today… surely he’s wrapping up his week.”

“It’s such a beautiful day… I really could stand to work on my swing a bit.”

Friday is indeed a day where you can accomplish a lot, but it’s much easier to just pack it in and do something completely non-productive.

Last Friday, I linked you up to a pretty wicked spreadsheet from SalesTeamTools.com designed to assist you in keeping a good account of active prospects in your pipeline. If you haven’t started experimenting with it, there’s never a good time than now.

Perhaps on Friday, you take a hard look at your active prospects list and start planning how next week is going to go. Or use it to recognize that you have a hot prospect that you may want to drop a call to today just to see where things are. Or maybe you look at that bottom third and weed some into your inactives file.

Bottom line, though, is that taking Friday off is not an option in our world… is it?

Posted in Organizing | Leave a Comment »

Order Taker!

Posted by Shane Murphy on Wednesday, July 5, 2006

bulb.jpgYou walk into an electronics store, for example, and the sales person immediately comes to you as you gawk over that 50″ plasma television and asks the question… you know what it is.

“Can I help you?”

And your pavlovian response, almost certainly, is “Nope… just looking.”

The mindset that the sales person has is that of an order-taker.  It’s a simple, yet effective example of what not to do when talking to a new prospect.  Same rule applies when you make a sales call to a prospect and aren’t really offering anything that solves a problem.  When the prospect realizes that you’re not going to be much help, they come up with any of a myriad of reasons why they need to get off the phone  And you lose…

This is behavior that must be avoided at all costs if you want to succeed — not just in selling, but in anything that you do.  The key to not becoming an order-taker is in the planning.  Before you call on a prospect, do you take the time to find out what their needs are, or do you just call them with the same old script?

Planning is somethat that you’ve got to make time for every day.  Don’t just blow it off in the interest of making numbers.   Offer solutions to your prospects situation.  It’s your task to solve their problems, not the other way around.

Kudos to Dan Seidman over at SalesAutopsy.com for sparking my mind on this one today.

Posted in Planning | Leave a Comment »

Keep Those Reporting Duties In Mind!

Posted by Shane Murphy on Tuesday, July 4, 2006

report.jpgI’ve lived this from both sides. Not only keeping track of my activities for my own use each day, but making sure that those in my organization who need to know actually GET to know! We haven’t gotten too far into the whole ‘organizing’ thing on this blog yet, but it seems like something deserving of attention.

I recently did some work with an organization in a training consultant role for their service staff, and was regularly frustrated and confused by how little information their sales staff actually put into their CRM ‘solution.’ Time and time again, I would talk to a service representative who either had no idea that a sale had ever been made to an existing customer.

Even worse, there were countless situations where a NEW client was signed, but the service rep was never made aware until a problem arose. By then, that person was backed into a corner, just trying to claw their way out.

So tonight, I was looking for inspiration about this problem exactly. And in that search, I stumbled across a short piece from Seth Godin, who took a look at this from the point of view of a marketer.

Reporting requires organization, something that many of us lack terribly. It’s something that can sink you — or somebody other than you — if you don’t take it seriously. In this ultra-competitive world, the slightest slip-up can sink you. Don’t let something this controllable be your downfall.

Posted in Organizing, Reporting | Leave a Comment »

Opening The Sale

Posted by Shane Murphy on Sunday, July 2, 2006

Ever feel like you’ve got a sale in the bag, only to have the prospect balk at the end, and you’re left confused and feeling like you’ve fallen flat? If you’re the average salesperson, then the answer is ‘yes, of course I have!’

handshake.jpgClosing a sale is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things to do in the sales process. Many times, it seems to just happen. That fact alone is why I feel that it tops the difficulty list. You’re never forced to really close the deal because it just happens through the ability to interact with the prospect, to answer the questions that they ask with skill and determination. The sale, therefore, closes itself. Not that this is a bad thing!

But what do you do when you’ve answered the questions and the prospect still isn’t ready to sign the deal? Do you have the skills you need to close the deal?

I was thinking about this dilemma today, and decided to write a bit about it. In looking for more information about becoming a better closer, I wanted to find something outside of what we’re all used to seeing about closing. I found what I was looking for on a website in, of all places, New Zealand.

“Instead of talking about closing the sale we changed the language to opening the sale. This focused the team on asking the right questions to qualify customers and identify needs. Opening sales turned the focus into starting a conversation rather than just answering questions. It turned a reactionary team into a proactive team.”

Opening a sale. An interesting way to approach selling, that’s certain. But it tracks with my favorite way to sell — a consultative approach. Instead of just pitching something and answering a bunch of questions, you become a consultant, engaged in a conversation instead of just answering a barragh of questions that any sales person worth their salt could answer.

Posted in Closing | Leave a Comment »

What Defines a Prospect?

Posted by Shane Murphy on Saturday, July 1, 2006

timeismoney.jpgSeems like a simple question, doesn’t it? But is it really so simple?

Think about it for a minute… how much time do you spend each day researching and prepping for a presentation to somebody who is incredibly unlikely to buy? I thought about this morning while surfing the blogosphere and coming across this very short entry on somebody’s personal space. As I read it, I thought this it was important enough to include here.

A person is a prospect only if they: a) have a genuine interest in the particular service or product you provide AND b) have responded to one of your offers AND c) they have provided you with contact information AND d) they have the authority to buy your service/product and can afford it. Everyone else is a stranger. Not a prospect.

I don’t neccesarily agree with everything in this short piece, most notably that a prospect needs to have responded to one of your offers. In many cases, you need to have the opportunity for them to respond, and that’s your opportunity to make. But the point made is a good one. Stop wasting your time on those who no-hopers!

So while you’re prepping for next week, keep that in mind. Take advantage of the tools available to you out there to not only research for a presentation, but to research to find out if the people who you want to pitch should be high on your target list. Once you make that decision, then it’s time to get busy prepping to make the presentation, and hopefully… the sale.

Posted in Prospecting | Leave a Comment »