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Archive for the ‘Organizing’ Category

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 »

Want To Make Your Customers Angry?

Posted by Shane Murphy on Wednesday, November 1, 2006

annoyed.jpgI was doing my daily RSS round-up earlier, and came across a short post from Dan over at LandingTheDeal — an entry that I missed the other day. Is was regarding TicketMaster and their “TicketAlerts.” Like it’s not bad enough that they charge outrageous “service fees” for ordering concert tickets, they’ve gotta keep clogging our inbox as well?!?

(Case in point with the fees… I bought two tickets for my daughter and I to see a show in Columbus last week. Face value of the tickets? $20. Total cost after fees? $60. Absurd.)

Anyway, Church of the Customer is following this situation with unsubscribing and continuing to get unsolicited emails. It’s a good discussion worthy of your time.

Keep this in mind, all of you who build Email lists of clients. It’s a great way to connect, but it can burn you.

Posted in Organizing, Planning | Leave a Comment »

Struggling to Cope With Failure?

Posted by Shane Murphy on Saturday, October 28, 2006

listen.jpgIt’s a disgusting weather day here in Central Ohio, so instead of heading outside to wrap up the autumn lawn work, I spent some time this morning working on my sales skills. Part of that work took me to a relatively new destination out there — RealWorldSelling — which is a new podcasting venture that includes Brandon Hull of SalesTeamTools.com.

I had a listen to a podcast by Steve Martin (not the comedian) that discussed “coping with losing” a sale. Martin’s advice was good, and his voice lent itself well to the podcasting format. I’ve found many a podcast that I had to fight myself to get past the first two minutes. Not so on RealWorldSelling.

Podcasting is one of those things that’s not just wonderful if you have an iPod and a long commute time. It’s something that you can take advantage of instead of listening to music or some wacky talk show while you work.

Enjoy it.

Posted in Etc., Organizing | Leave a Comment »

Keep Those Opportunities Moving

Posted by Shane Murphy on Saturday, August 19, 2006

Back in June, I pointed AccountHUNTER readers to a simple little prospect management tool from SalesTeamTools.com. The tool, in Microsoft Excel format allows the you to select from one of three “likelihood” gauges—Top 1/3, Middle 1/3, and Bottom 1/3—as well as adding a summary or overview of the deal. As I’ve used it over the past few months, I’ve found that it does indeed help me to keep my mind on my prospects.

So this morning, I was just doing some reading while it was quiet, and I came across a wonderful article over at The Sales Guru about keeping the pipeline flowing, and it immediately got me thinking about that simple little Excel sheet.

Get an appointment scheduled with every qualified opportunity in your pipeline . . . today! Do not let another day go by. When it comes to scheduling the next step with your customer, the sooner the better. Even if the scheduled meeting is a month out, get it on the calendar because it’s easier for you and your customer to keep a previously scheduled appointment than to schedule a new one. And it’s harder for your customer to cancel a scheduled appointment than to simply ignore your request for a new one.

Planning is one of those little things that will sink you if you’re not on top of it all the time. The Sales Guru uses a pretty strong analogy about what happens when you let your leads wither and die, comparing it to a Doctor having a patient go flat-line.

If we let an opportunity stay flat, we sever any momentum we may have generated. And if it stays flat too long, that opportunity will die, or at least sustain serious brain damage.

It’s worth a read, folks.

Posted in Organizing | Leave a Comment »

The One Piece of Advice You Can’t Sell Without

Posted by Shane Murphy on Monday, August 14, 2006

moneyroll.jpgI’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a loyal reader of RainToday.com. I subscribe to their newsletters, I visit their site several times per week, and I take a lot of their advice and put it into action.

So imagine my glee this weekend when I came across a free ebook that they’re offering up. 34 pages of quick-hit advice from some of the best in the business. This baby is an easy read, but it’s one that you’re going to want to read, read, and read again.

One of my favorite entries in this fantastic ebook comes from Alan Weiss, who wrote the book Million Dollar Consulting.

If you’re talking about price, you’ve lost control of the discussion.

As salespeople, we all know that to be true, right? When I first started my career, I would cringe every time I heard that dreaded, yet almost inevitable question, “How much is it?” I always go back to that Zig Ziglar standby nowadays — “Price is a one time thing, but cost is a lifetime investment.”

And it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, really. Once you get that mindset, I’m convinced that you could sell anything. Weiss drives that point home flawlessly, using time-shares as his vehicle to do so.

And his contribution to the ebook is but one of 11 contributors. Have you downloaded it yet?

Posted in Closing, Organizing, Pitching, Planning, Prospecting, Reporting, Researching, Schmoozing | 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 »

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 »

To Be Good, You Have to Be Great!

Posted by Shane Murphy on Saturday, June 17, 2006

Looking at the words 'good' and 'great,' there are many definitions from which to choose.  So I jumped out to dictionary.com and pulled the definitions below. 

good (gd) adj. – Competent; skilled: a good machinist.
great (grt) adj. – Superior in quality or character; noble.

Of course, we all aspire for greatness in our professional lives, or at least most of us do.  And this great piece from SalesTeamTools.com makes a great point. 

"To be good at sales, you need to have mastered at least a couple of traits and/or habits. Mastered, we’re talking."

In other words (and the article gets into it very well), you have got to master some of the basics of selling to have any hope of even reaching 'good.'

Read it.  It's more than worth your time. 

 

Posted in Organizing | Leave a Comment »