20 Ideas That Will Increase Your Sales, Part 2

February 2, 2009

By Mark Matteson

After 40 years of selling, I decided it’s time to capture some of the lessons I have learned and share them. I hope that you find some ideas to assist you in navigating through challenging times.

As a student of history, I will tell you there have ALWAYS been challenging times. Tough times can bring out the very best qualities in us. It’s what built this great country: It’s not what happens, it’s how we respond! Resolve to improve! Choose and apply five of the ideas outlined below one at a time, test them, and then track your results. Results are the name of the game!

11. Give to Get!
What can you give to your clients and prospects? Articles on subjects THEY are interested in? E-Books that would help their business? Novels they want to read that teach life lessons? Ideas, stories, and best practices of leaders in their industry? Ask and answer: What can I give to them without any expectation of return? Give and forget. Give some more and keep giving. The law of compensation will balance the scales. Often the return comes from unexpected sources, but it always comes. Dan Holohan recently wrote an article sharing 50 great Web sites. Send me an email and I will forward it to you, or go to Dan’s website, www.heatinghelp.com.

12. Start Writing!
Become an expert in your industry and start writing articles for trade magazines in your field. I promise you, there are least two magazine editors in your industry who are screaming for copy from leaders who are succeeding in the field. I know, because I have written for over 12 different magazines and six e-zines other than my own. I can hear the objection, “I can’t write!” Hey, I failed high school English, but I simply wrote something every day! Then I surrounded myself with really smart people who know how to edit copy. Copyeditors are professionals; most of them hold post-secondary degrees, as well as editing certifications, and many of them are also published writers. While their fees reflect their professional status, the service they provide is worth the investment. They can make you look really good on paper and reinforce your image as a professional by ensuring that your writing is polished and error-free. You can locate a good copyeditor from several reputable firms’ Web sites: the Creative Group, www.creativegroup.com; Elance, www.elance.com; McMurry, www.mcmurry.com; and o-Desk, www.odesk.com, to name only a few. Remember, even Stephen King has editors!

13. Start Building Your “Invitation” Marketing E-mail Database!
Four years ago, I had 50 subscribers to my e-zine and now my list is up to almost 4,000. Clients, prospects, friends, and relatives receive my free e-zine once a month. I briefly mention it when I present, providing a sample of it in my handouts and sending it around on a clipboard. Viral marketing or “sneezing” means that my clients forward the e-zine to their co-workers and friends. I offer a free e-book and special report as incentives for signing up, and it all started by writing something every day. Before you know it, you have a cost-effective electronic marketing machine that drives people to your website, and ultimately prospects and clients contact you for new business. It’s a very different dynamic when prospects contact you, the difference between invitation marketing and interuption marketing. To sign up from my F*R*E*E monthly e-zine, or to read articles archived over the last four years, go to www.mattesonavenue.com and sign up. I invite you.

14. Borrow Boldly from the Best!
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel: Find out who the top five salespeople are in your company or industry, and call them up. Send them an email. Take them to lunch. Ask them the following questions:
• Why are you so successful?
• If you were just starting out, what would you do differently?
• What is the most important thing you have learned about succeeding in sales?
• What books should I read?
• What seminars should I attend?
Afterward, send them a gift (book or gift card) with a thank-you note. Stay in touch. Make certain THEY receive something from the exchange. These are very busy men and women, so adjust your schedule around theirs. Perhaps only half of the people on your list will actually meet with you. You might need to start with a list of ten people to secure five lunches or an hour of someone’s time.

15. Increase Your Belief in Your Products or Services!
Practice what you preach and believe in what you sell! If you sell service agreements, sell one to yourself. If you sell insurance, double your own policy amount! Sales are a transfer of belief. Have integrity. I can tell you to read a book a month because I read five or more a month. It has changed my life.

16. Learn to Actively Listen (Hey! Listen up!)
It’s not just the words; it’s the intention behind the words. It’s the emotion you see and hear in the extra-verbal aspects of another person’s message (tone, pace, volume, intensity). Listen for sadness, fear, sorrow, frustration, anger, or pain. When you hear, say it: You are frustrated by increased repair costs. Morale is at an all time low and turnover has never been higher. It’s costing you a fortune and you would be delighted if you could cut it in half! You will see a positive change in a prospect’s body language, tone of voice on the telephone, and the e-mail that he or she sends. Listen, Pause, Question, and Paraphrase. LPQP. It’s magic.

17. Find Industry Mentors!
Make a list of five people in your industry in another state who have done what you want to do and have been where you want to go. Call them up, send them an email, or write them a letter. Ask, and then ask again in a different way. Volunteer your time to serve them. Attend the seminars they attend. Read the books they read. Subscribe to the e-zines they read. Ask them if they belong to a mentoring program and sign up. I have personally done each one of these and some of my mentors have become lifelong friends. Respect their time. Don’t assume they will drop everything to help you. How can you help them first?

18. Keep a Journal and Do an Autopsy After Every Call!
In 1992, I began tracking what I had learned from every call. Sixteen years later, I still do it. Ask and answer on paper: What went well on this call? What could I improve? List as many things as you can think of. After every presentation, I draw a line down the center of a page in my journal and list positive and negative things I did. Capture them while your memories are fresh.

19. Disqualify up Front!
One of the greatest things any salesperson can say is, “It sounds like you are happy with who you are using!” When the prospect replies, “Yes, that’s true.” the next words out of your mouth should be, “You probably wouldn’t switch no matter what I said or did?” The prospect will say, “Yep!” What you say next is vital: “I don’t mind being number two” OR “It sounds like a timing issue. Do you mind if we talk again in six months?” Your prospect will experience a huge sigh of relief and his or her countenance will change. In an e-mail, you will see bolded font and/or lots of exclamation points!

20. Ask the Hard Questions!
I am amazed when I go on calls with salespeople how few will actually ask the hard questions. In fact, 75 percent of new salespeople will leave the first call without asking the following questions prior to a tremendous amount of legwork, research, and proposal creation:
• Do you have a budget? High? Low?
• Whose project is this?
• Who is accountable for the results of this project?
• Who ultimately will authorize this idea/agreement/project?
• What is the timeline for this project, the drop-dead date?
• What if you did nothing?
• Why us?
• Why now?
• Why in this manner?
• How will we know we succeeded? If we tripped over the results, what would they look like?
• What keeps you up at night?
• What is the next step?

If you received value from these 20 ideas, send them to a friend or co-worker. Better yet, forward them to your sales manager and conduct a “Lunch and Learn” session to discuss them. Find a way to incorporate at least five of these ideas into your business or sales disciplines. If you have anything to add, send ME some ideas. Of course, you can always call me and book some time, bringing me on site to teach these ideas to your sales team or to conduct a tele-seminar. Let’s keep building the list.

Provided by Mark Matteson, Matteson Avenue.  Subscribe to the Matteson Avenue e-zine by visiting www.mattesonavenue.com
Contact Mark Matteson by calling 1-877-672-2001 or by e-mail at mark@mattesonavenue.com.

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