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Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

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.

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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!

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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 »

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 »

The Discount Trap

Posted by Shane Murphy on Thursday, November 2, 2006

scared.jpgLast night, I had coffee with a friend who is working to start up a business here in Central Ohio.  He’s a good guy with a great personality, and he’s selling widgets.  A lot of what he’s going to have to do is network his butt off and get some word-of-mouth marketing going.

And, like so many of us, it’s going to be a long road, but one he can navigate pretty well if he exercises some patience.

But midway through our conversation, the red flags started flying.  Before he’s even started — before he’s ever made his first sale — he’s already talking about discounting his products to “get things off the ground.”

He’s PLANNING to discount!

After choking on my coffee, it was time to get serious with him.

What signal does a discount send to a prospect?  That you overpriced your widgets from the start, planning to drop the price?  That your widget isn’t worth what you’re asking, and only the unsavvy are stupid enough to pay that price?

Or is it that you just don’t have the guts to sell it?  After all, it’s easier to just drop the price, isn’t it?

Have a look at this short article over at Solo Business Marketing, where they pulled three critical tips from “Sales and Marketing Magazine” that will help any salesperson — no matter what you’re selling — to avoid the discount trap.

Posted in Closing, Pitching, Planning | 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 »

Think ‘Digital Marketing’ Is No Big Deal?

Posted by Shane Murphy on Monday, October 30, 2006

Dove | Evolution

The above 75-second viral video was placed on YouTube by Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto on behalf of Dove. In less than a month, this thing has been viewed nearly 2 million times.

It has garnered significant media time on several talk shows.

It has caused a “traffic spike to CampaignForRealBeauty.com, three times more than Dove’s Super Bowl ad and resulting publicity last year.” (AdAge – October 29th)

Sitting there every day reading all of this ‘new media’ hype and just dismissing it as another fad?

Ignore it at your peril…

Just don’t say you weren’t warned.

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Gitomer on Success

Posted by Shane Murphy on Tuesday, August 22, 2006

victory.JPGI just finished reading part four of an answer given by Jeffrey Gitomer on his website – Gitomer.com – from a reader who asked him a simple question: “How long did it take you to become a good salesman?”

In typical Gitomer style, part four comes in a list format – 7 things detailing what he refers to as the big picture elements of success.

  1. Book or Business Card
  2. Remaining a Student
  3. Succeeding and Failing
  4. Attracting mentors and finding role models
  5. Loving myself
  6. Loving my family
  7. Selling everyday

I can attest to the validity of his list (what a shocker) and have found that in my life, as I’ve focused on several of the things listed above, my world has become clearer.  From Gitomer’s .5 in the piece…

“My secret weapon is staying sharp. I don’t mean ‘sharpening my saw’ sharp, I mean scalpel sharp. Alert, open, looking for opportunity, and communicating value to everyone I come into contact with.”

It’s a quick read, but if you take it in, it can have long-lasting impressions.

Posted in Planning | 1 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 »

The Art of Personal Branding: Email Newsletters

Posted by Shane Murphy on Thursday, August 3, 2006

letter.jpgIf you’ve been paying any attention to your personal development in recent years, you’ve heard the buzzword of “personal branding,” I’m sure.  My favorite sales guru, Jeffrey Gitomer, talks a lot about those things that help you brand yourself as well.

Face it, in today’s ultra-competive business environment, every little thing you do to enhance your personal brand give you a leg up on the competition.  If you are seen as an expert in the field, logic dictates that the prospect knows who you are before you even begin your pitch.  And of course, that makes the process much different than going in cold.  Right?

So let’s consider the thought of an Email newsletter for a moment.  Gitomer, for one, goes on and on about the importance of using little things like this to seperate yourself from the pack.

As I said, if you’ve been concerned about your development, you should already know the reasons why something like the Email newsletter can be so valuable to seperating yourself from the crowd.  But have you considered why?

Take a look at this piece from WebProNews and you may learn some things that you didn’t know about these little messages.

I’d recommend taking some time this weekend and learning more about how this simple tool can help you become more of a recognized expert in your field.  It’ll lead to greener pastures down the road if you understand it… and stick with it.

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