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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Funnel Vision

Sales Funnel: Definition~A metaphoric sales process showing a large number of unqualified leads at the top of the funnel, being filtered in subsequent levels i.e. stages, and the actual clients that result exiting the bottom of the funnel. Also known as a pipeline.

Getting that first appointment

Remember the first five minutes of the conversation is what will make or break you. Friendliness goes a long way in a conversation, and remember, this is not rocket science! You don't have to be a fancy talker to be a great salesperson. You just have to know your company, your services, and your products. And you have to be passionate about what you do, and have a love for business and selling. If you can sell yourself and your idea to the prospect, chances are you'll get your first appointment. Get the prospect to like you, and you will get the appointment! Getting them to like you means being genuine and caring in your approach, and showing you want everyone to win, not just yourself. Put your potential client's needs first ahead of yours, and you will get the first appointment, guaranteed!

Don't forget the first three letters

"Fun" should always be part of the funnel. I know we get caught up in wanting to sell them, but if you're not having fun, they won't be, either. Don't be afraid to throw in a little appropriate humor. If you think the prospect won't appreciate silliness, go for a more subtle joke. But make sure to make it, alright? Nobody likes to deal with someone who has no sense of humor. So make it a fun experience for you and your potential client! The fact they've had fun dealing with you could turn out to be the main deciding factor between you and a competitor.

Positive energy

I said it before, and I'll say it again! Smile! It's contagious. You can't be smiling around other people without them smiling back. You can't be feeling good about yourself and your surroundings without everyone else feeling good to be around you. People buy things from people who make them feel good about themselves...

Staying focused

Keep your eye on the prize, always with big picture in mind. And understand that the process may take longer than you anticipated. Be patient with the process, taking one thing at a time. You can't go on the the next part of the process without clearing a few bumps along the road. That being a metaphor for a few tough questions that need to be asked your potential client, and possibly some personal or business related problems that will need to be addressed. Answer questions patiently and honestly. Be sincere in your answers, and make good eye contact. Your prospect will probably confide more in you at this point. Be steady in your tone, always speaking in an even and clear voice. Maintain an aura of calm. Your prospect will be calm if you are.

Spending money to make money

In order for you to make money in any business venture, you must first spend money. A lot of business people are scared of this fact. There is a lot of uncertainty involved in spending, or giving something, and not knowing what the return will be. If any. And the simple truth is that we don't know if our giving will be reciprocated. We hope it will be, possibly resulting in a sale, or business success. If we happen to own our own company, for instance, we hope our investment in the business will pay off in profits and growth. Still, there are no guarantees. And that can scare people.

Personally, I'm not afraid of losing money to gain a client for life. It seems to me like a small investment for potentially gaining so much more. And even if I fail to gain the client, there's still a possibility I could sell to them in the future. I would say that possibility, including the good reputation I'll hopefully build as a business woman will over-ride any small monetary loss. It's not something to stress about. It's just an investment in building a future, and a business. An investment in success, not only for yourself, but also for your client, and their business.

That being said, there will be times during the sales cycle that you'll have to spend money on your prospect. You may take them out to lunch to discuss furthering the sales process. You may need to bring them something that means something to them. It doesn't have to be something expensive, but it needs to be something that took time and thought to create. For instance, you could bake something for them to take home to their family and enjoy. All it takes is a little bit of thoughtfulness, and you really wanting to give to them. That's all. And don't expect anything back. Hope that you get something back(i.e. the account), but don't expect it. At the very least, you've started building a good relationship, and building a great rapport with them. That should be enough for now.

Expect less, get more

It's as simple as that! If you expect less, you'll usually be more relaxed than if you are so eager to get an account that you forget to enjoy meeting the person. You don't want that! So go into this with an open mind, and understand that the person you're talking to is just a person. You're getting to know them, and their getting to know you. That's all! Treat them like a person, not just a potential client. And don't have such high expectations that you forget to have a good time.

The art of appointment making

Give them a choice of two times to meet with you, not a choice of any time on the calendar. You set the times, and they choose. Then, follow through with the appointment. This will ensure that the sales cycle moves along faster, without you appearing the slight bit pushy. Pushiness is big turn off for your prospect. It literally pushes them away. So be gentle in telling them where and when you're able to meet. That'll make it much easier for them to accept limits, without feeling that they're being imposed upon. And even though they may assume you have an indefinite amount of time to go over everything, you need to have a set amount of time predetermined in your mind. Otherwise, the meeting could go way over the amount of time the prospect may really need to make a decision.

Genuinely caring about your prospect

I've covered this before, and I'll say it again. You can never be too caring toward your future client. There really is no such thing as faking it in this category. You can't fake caring! You have to really care about making them happy...

Your final proposal

Preparation is key in regard to your final proposal, and it might take more time and commitment on your part than you initially thought. No matter how many hours you need to put into it to feel comfortable presenting your offering, you need to make sure to invest that time. I will be time well spent when your prospect agrees and signs the deal with you and your company. It will also help you be able to focus on the situation at hand, instead of worrying about what to say. You'll know exactly how to answer every concern the prospect may need to be addressed, and you'll be way ahead of the game. It will also give you the confidence you need to show you are capable of handling your potential client's problems, and that you can take care of them in the way they need you to.

Make it clear you're interested in closing

Set a date and time, and get them to commit. How will you be able to close if you don't ask? It's your job, not your potential client's job to guide them through the sales cycle. They're not going to suggest closing the deal. That's your job! And hopefully by this time, you've cleared away any obstacles. Make sure all questions are answered at this point, because there is no turning back now...

Never ask the prospect a question where they can verbalize the word "no." At this point, you can't risk that. You have come too far, and you can't risk losing the deal so late in the game. You've almost won, now go in there and act as though you've already got the account. Now, you just need to confidently ask for the sale that you've earned! You've also managed to convince them that you are their best and only solution to their business needs. Congratulations! You've just gained a new client!

Following up

You should understand, though, that this is only the beginning of your relationship. I've covered this before in my post http://carouselsalesblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/client-relationships-are-like.html, and it addresses how to maintain client relationships for a lifetime. This is where a lot of salespeople fail miserably. They gain the account, but fail to care after getting the client to sign. This is what I call client neglect, and it's serious grounds for divorce. So please, whatever you do, just don't make the mistake of leaving your client stranded after you've closed the deal. If they need your help after the sale, help them as much is needed for them to feel happy with their decision. You also need to follow up, even if they seem happy, and haven't called you. It's your job to call them, and make an appointment with them to see what is working, and what's not. And to make adjustments accordingly. Remember, you have to maintain that relationship with your client for a lifetime. Put in the work, and I guarantee that later on, your invested time will pay off in more sales to that same client.

And remember...

First impressions matter
Confidence is imperative
Make soft eye contact
Make sure to ask questions sparingly, and intelligently.
Don't over-plan
Respond to questions, and ask questions according to the direction of the conversation.
smile and relax
Listen aggressively
Address every concern, and take notes before, during, and after the sales cycle.
Follow up with your new client as needed.
Call them, and make a quarterly appointment to see how your services are working for them.
Invest in your relationships, and your investment will work for you!

What's your take? Let me know what you think!
Thanks for stopping by...CC

Friday, October 21, 2011

Client relationships are like...


And you want it to be a good one, right? Let's face it, though. Not all marriages are good, and not all last a lifetime. Some marriages last six weeks, some last for two years, and some last a whole life long! Relationships with clients should be formed with the intention of making them last a lifetime, not just a couple of years.

Unfortunately, there are some so-called "sales people" who ruin, or at least hinder the success of legit sales people. They neglect their clients to the point of utterly frustrating them, or disappoint them to the point where they are hell bent on never talking to another sales person again! Not now, not ever! Because those phonies lied to them and broke their trust, then left them in the cold.

Sometimes, you happen to inherit some of these disgruntled clients without your new boss telling you why the old sales guy got canned, and without knowing what you're walking into. You have to fix this problem quickly! Good luck dealing with that, right? Here's what you do...


Despite popular belief, it's never too late to apologize. Even if it's not your fault. Yes, even if you personally didn't do the damage. It's still happened to your inherited, or potential client, so make it clear to them you're different. Apologize for the past mistakes made by the previous guy. That's one way to immediately rectify, or at least begin to rectify, the situation. The next step is to ask important questions as to how this situation can be resolved. Ask what you personally can do to help. You'd be amazed at how much that could turn things around! A company that was once about to lose a client could gain much more business from that existing client just by doing one thing...

Showing them that you care

I also have to stress that you shouldn't be disingenuous. Clients can smell a lie from a mile away. They can also tell if you're being real with them in acting like you care about them. So genuinely care so much about making that person happy, that you stop thinking about what might be in it for you. Think only about what you can do to make THEM happy. I guarantee they'll love you for it!

Make your client look good

The most loyal clients usually turn out to be the ones you help to look better, and not just aesthetically. If you help to improve your client's business in a way that creates value and efficiency, you've probably gained that client for life! If you find a way to save them time to do the activities they enjoy, instead of wasting it on products that aren't working, you've probably gained that client for a lifetime! Just remember, you have to provide consistent value to your client.

Listening is caring

One of the many keys to great communication is being an aggressive listener, not an aggressive talker. Aggressive listening means you are so intent on listening to your client, that you let them talk until they're finished with their point, until you know they are done! And with no exceptions. Listening is the key to gaining something from your client. It is the key to helping them make their business, and your relationship, successful. It also lets them know you value them, and what they have to say. It lets them know you care about them as human beings, not just as clients.

Building a foundation of trust and honesty

Any great relationship is built on trust and honesty. If you lie to someone, it's hard for them to ever trust your word again. It's also a major deal breaker in business. Contrary to what some people might believe, lying is a major way to lose much more than can possibly be gained momentarily from it. It can cause you to potentially lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions that could be made by not breaking a client's trust. The relationship that is built on trust can literally yield millions over a lifetime of an honest and trusting relationship with a client. Now, you tell me if it's worth the loss to be dishonest...

Becoming friends

And given time, they may trust you with very personal bits of information about their lives. That's part of the reason I believe prospects are leery of dealing with salespeople. They know that if they do business with you, there is potential to become friends, and that could get you dangerously close to them. They need  to know you are deserving of knowing them and their business.

Allowing them to need you

You've probably heard that song about how people need people. Well, I hate to sound sappy, but it's true. Have you ever seen a person become successful all by himself? I doubt it. There was someone along the way who believed in him or her, and saw potential, and wanted to work with them to achieve a goal. I've had mentors who've really backed me up, because they believed in me, too! I haven't become successful in my field all by myself, either. And in much the same way that sales leaders need mentors to believe in them, your clients need you to believe in them and their business. And they need to believe in you, too. They are counting on you to do a good job for them, and to help them maximize their potential. Embrace the fact that you need each other, and nurture the relationship. Twenty years later, you'll realize it was all worth it.

As always, thanks for stopping by...CC

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pressed for time?

So many times, I've heard people say they don't have time to do things. They don't have time to go to school right now. They don't have time to look for a better, more fulfilling job opportunity, and the list goes on and on. Really? And yet, there are others who really don't have a lot of time, but still manage to accomplish a lot in their lives. Why is that? Is it because some people have more time in their day to accomplish great things, or is it something else? We all have the same amount of time to work with each day. Twenty-four hours. What we do with that time can make us successful, or unsuccessful in our lives.

You'd be amazed what great things you can accomplish in small steps. You can finish anything in little bits, and won't suffer from burn-out nearly as much. Some great accomplishments have been made in my own life, and in other's lives this way. I talked to one of my clients, who just finished her nursing degree. It took her approximately six years to become a registered nurse. How did she do it? Literally one class at a time. Now she is a nurse! She knew that if she just kept pressing on, that she would get there.

Plugging away at a project until it's finished is the way to go, as long as you don't have a deadline. If it's a personal goal that's meant to help you better your life, it's alright to take a little while to accomplish it. That is, as long as you finish what you start. That's the main point here. To finish. And it spares you of a lot of stress, even helping you live longer! It helps you to understand your day's purpose, and how it will take you a step further toward your goal. It all comes from understanding that it's about small steps, not taking great leaps. Patience is key, too. It's important to understand that, as long as you have a goal, that you will get there. You just have to come up with a strategy for each day's steps to achieving that goal.

Being in the Moment

This is tough for a lot of people to do. However, being in the moment is one of the highest forms of wisdom. It means you know that this day is the only one got for sure, so you're going to make it count. There are some people who breeze through their day unscathed by situations that would really bug other people. They've learned to let most of it roll off, like water off a duck's back. Other people go through their day, wasting it by being moody or unhappy. I'm sorry, but that is a great way to spoil your whole life! Before you know it, those unhappy days could turn into a waste of a person's whole being. Yes, it really is that serious! So snap out of it! This is your life, and it's a blessing. This day is the only one you have for sure, so try to be hyper aware of your surroundings, and the people in them. Those are the things that matter right now, not what's in the past or future.

Get Going

The first step is to get up. It's as simple as that. I know it sounds like I'm over-simplifying the situation, especially for people who are tied to a desk chair for the whole day. It really is that simple, though. I've found that I can't sit at a desk and accomplish everything I need to do. I can't just sit down and expect everything to magically get done. I have to get up first. I've gotten to the point where I don't like just sitting down for extended periods of time. It makes me feel lazy, even if I happen to be working on something. It's healthy to take a walk around the office to refresh your mind and rest your eyes in between tasks.

If you want to get in shape, you have to get going to the gym. If you want to go to school, you have to get going to the admissions office, and do your testing to get started. Anything you want to accomplish doesn't necessarily have to have a planned time line. You just have to start it, and it will take on a life of its own. After that, you can plan your time around it. Sometimes, though, you just have to get going, even if its unstructured time. I start working on something around the house, for instance, and then that will automatically take me to the next step. As soon as I complete that step, I realize I'm almost done, and then I have to finish what I started. By getting started, you're actually forcing yourself to finish!

Breaking a large task down into smaller parts

Sometimes you'll have to break a big job into smaller sets of time to get everything done. You can't organize your whole house in one day. However, you can organize the kitchen cabinets on Saturday, and then work on organizing your office on Sunday. It's better to make the job smaller, and more concentrated, focusing on making it as great as you possibly can. After that, you'll have time for other things that you enjoy.
Take small steps toward a larger goal. Understand that you WILL get there. It's might take longer than you planned, but you will definitely be able to have more to show in the coming year if you have worked daily toward a goal. I guarantee you that!

Strategy For Accomplishing Goals

I've found that I can't predict or plan every single thing during the course of my day. There is a natural course or routine that takes place during the day. There are some things that you can't anticipate, like a new project dropped on you at the last minute, or your child getting sick. Those are atypical events, though, and most of the time you can plan your day based on a typical time line. Even if you don't have big goals for your day, you need to have an outline for at least two big accomplishments for the day, and write them down. This will help you focus on priorities, and once you finish those, then you can work on the smaller stuff. You can apply this to any day, not just work days. It'll help you get more accomplished, in anything from completing a report on a certain time line, or even planning a garage sale. You always have to have a plan first, and a set amount of time for each task, otherwise you'll just waste precious time.


If you look at the life of any successful person, you'll notice they all have one thing in common. They set goals with a specific time period to complete those goals. I've noticed that those who are ambitious set a deadline for their goals, whether big or small, and then follow through come hell or high water. They don't let any setbacks keep them from achieving, because they know the consequences if they allow that to happen. For successful people, wasting time and failing are not an option. They won't let anything get them off track while accomplishing their dreams.

Time is Money, Literally

That's why we get paid to work. They're paying us, at least partially, for our time. To spend time working on a job is valuable to an employer, so much so that they'll pay you for it. But do you ever act as though you're getting paid for your time when you're not at work? If you're not, then you should start doing so. It really is that serious! I hate to sound melodramatic, but we really aren't here very long. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and that should make it so much more crucial to focus on achieving today! The bottom line is that this day is a gift, and the time you have today is limited. Make it count!

Thanks for stopping by...CC

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Purpose of Blogging

Have you noticed the way some folks talk about blog writing? It's as though they don't know what it is. They don't really understand the power of the written word, and how you can add value to a business or career with this very important tool. 

Blogging is one thing that can set you apart from the pack

Not everyone likes to write. Some people simply hate it. Personally, I love writing, so I don't understand why anyone would hate it. Some folks might wonder why in the world I like writing so much. The truth is that I don't really know why. Maybe it's because I don't have to make much effort to write. I'll come up with a title, then sub-titles for the paragraphs, then fill in the body of my post, and I'm done! I think that's a major part of what it takes to be a successful blogger. Love of writing, and having an interesting blog on the web will set you apart from your peers.

There are a couple of other things that will determine your success, though. Commitment to the project, and consistency is also important. Some bloggers don't write for months, and that just won't work. You have to at least post something interesting to your blog once or twice a week, to keep your readers coming back. If you don't, there simply won't be enough traffic to your blog.

Proliferation of Blogging

Not everyone likes to sit down and write for hours. Well, I should say that about people who aren't writers by nature. For some people, it's not enjoyable, and those are the folks who probably also have said that blogging is a dying art. I beg to differ. If blogging was dying, it would probably turn out very much like MySpace, right? With millions upon millions of stagnant accounts in the blogosphere. That's not what's happening, though.

Yes, there are many stagnant blogs out there, but it's not because blogging is becoming obsolete. It's because of a lack of commitment on the part of the person writing the unsuccessful blog. There are MANY successful bloggers on the web, and it's because of their commitment to the work. Yes, MySpace IS dead! There is no doubt about that, and we've known that for some time now. However, blogging is very much alive and thriving. Every day, people open up thousands of new blogs, and the numbers continue to increase around the world. 

It Takes Time

It can take a while to get your blog to the level where you want it to be, but once you're there, it will take on a life of its own. Once you've gotten through the initial bumps in the road, it's a smooth ride. The problem is that most people don't have the extra push to get over the bumps, and that's when their blogs start to stagnate. You have to visit the blogs of your networking buddies, support them in their efforts, and leave back links wherever you can. The more links you leave on the web, the better. 

I promise you, bloggers are some of the most supportive people on the web. They've been through the same things you have, and will do what they can to support you. It's like a snowball rolling down a hill. It picks up momentum with each contact and word of support. Before you know it, you won't have to think about re-tweeting for a friend, commenting on blogs of others, leaving links, or guest blogging. It just becomes second nature, with the bloggers in your network returning your gestures of appreciation.

Many Different Kinds of Blogs

I've seen so many different types of blogs out there. There are some bloggers that just post blogs about food. That's all you'll see on them. Picture after picture of yummy recipes some foodie chose to post to their website to give their readers ideas. Some folks like to write about beauty products, and everything they entail. Some like to post about very personal things going on in their lives, making their blogs like an online diary open to the public. Personally, I am not that bold! But some people are. And there will always be someone out there who'll be interested. 

Blogging for Business

This is the category most people fit into. My blog would fit into this category, as well as most of the blogs I follow. Most of my networking buddies/fellow bloggers fit into this category as well. There are a lot of sales and business people I know who do this type of blogging. I think it's a great supplement to their business, and another way to get their name out there. It is also another great way to connect with like minded individuals, as we also do on social networking sites. Blogging has become an extension of social networking for many business people.

I know the feeling

I've been there. I thought my blog would take off faster than it has, but I'm also really happy with my website. It's been a labor of love, and I'm proud of it. I have come to understand that you have to build one relationship at a time to get things going, and it takes time and commitment.That's the reason why a lot of blogs don't make it. It's not because they're bad blogs. It's because the writers aren't completely committed to making them successful. Just like with anything else, success is not based on luck, but on taking important steps to make a work successful. If you don't work at it, and constantly try to improve it, it can and will fail. 

Understand that blogging has a purpose 

Whatever you choose to write about is welcome in the blogosphere, and there are many people who will probably love to read it. Just remember that once you've started a blog, your work is only beginning. You will have to continue to come up with ideas for making your blog interesting and relevant, and that will take a significant amount of effort on your part. You can and will be able to make your blog a success if you follow these tips, and if you always remember that success is up to the individual writing the blog.

Thanks for stopping by...CC