Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Quote

Here is a quote from "The Duke":

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in puts itself in our hands and hopes we've learned something from yesterday."--John Wayne

Any day that leaves us a little bit wiser than the day before should be counted as a success. Sometimes our toughest days are the most valuable in the long run, the lessons learned the hard way are the ones which have the greatest impact on us. As the "Duke" says, the important thing is to apply what you have learned and apply it to making each successive day better. This is how we grow as salespeople and as human beings.

Saddle up, keep smiling and keep selling Pilgrim.

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Remembering Herb

Today I learned that my old boss Herb Gross had passed away. Herb owned a small independent cash register company and I worked for him as his service manager. Because I had some success selling service policies, I tried selling registers in the evenings launching my sales career. I don't like to speak ill of the dead, but Herb was a real SOB of a boss. In spite of this, I will be eternally grateful to him for teaching me a lot about sales and management (Some by setting a good example, some by setting a horrible example). In later years we became friends, so here is a typical "Herb story" in his memory.

Late in the afternoon just before closing, a frantic customer called telling me they had run out of cash register rolls. I knew the customer's machine would not operate without rolls so I told him "No problem, your store is on my way home, I'll drop off a package within the hour."

As soon as I hung up the phone Herb was in my face shouting "Don't ever tell them that...don't ever tell them that again!"

Confused I said "Don't tell them what? They need the rolls and they're a good customer."

Still agitated Herb said "I know that, don't ever tell them 'No Problem!' Make 'em owe you. Tell them 'You know we're closing in a few minutes and your store is out of my way but you're a good customer so I'll get them to you as soon as possible.' Make them think getting the rolls to them is a big deal. They'll remember that if a competitor tries to take our business."

While I didn't agree with lying to the customer, I did learn a lesson about the importance of maintaining customer relationships. Herb always considered how every interaction with the customer impacted the relationship. Herb drove me crazy for a couple of years, but the lessons I learned from him have helped me for decades.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The web myth

Today (October 27, 2009) is the 15th birthday of Internet advertising. On this date in 1994 the first banner ads were posted on the web. In the intervening years many people have come to see web advertising as the magic wand of marketing. Businesses want to believe that they can put up a web site and the customers will come rolling in ("You get money for nothing and your clicks for free!") This is not quite true. The web is a victim of it's own success, with so much online clutter, your customer's website can easily be overlooked. Even Internet giants like E-bay and Yahoo realize they have to advertise in other media to drive traffic to their sites.

To demonstrate the need to promote their website in my papers I do a little "surfing" with my clients. Typically they know their web address and go directly to it in their browser. I ask them to find their site the way consumers usually do--by Googling it. Google and other search engines make their money by selling "sponsored listings." I did this recently with a local carpet company. The results of my search found the customer's site but they were listed below a number of discount dealers offering up to 60% off retail. One of the companies listed suggested shopping at your local store, getting the stock number and then comparing prices online. By including their web address in a print ad, the carpet store can ensure that shoppers will go directly to their site without having to compete with the online discounters. By directing shoppers to their site in print they can turn the information super highway into a one way street leading right to their store.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Give it a glance

Ads should clearly communicate what an advertiser does for a living. You should be able to glance at an ad and tell from the art and/or a prominent headline what they do. I sometimes will hold up an ad, back up 5 or 6 feet and ask a customer to tell me what the ad is about. I believe this simulates the way consumers view our products. While we carefully review an ad, they often skim through our publications. If they are in the market for auto repairs an ad that features an illustration of a mechanic under the hood will grab their attention and they will read further. The artwork should shout out what the customer's business does. Remind customers of the AIDA formula: Attention--Interest--Desire--Action. They might think it is cute to put their dog's picture in an ad, but unless they own a pet shop, this is the wrong message to send your readers. Ads should say what they do with just a cursory glance.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Monday, October 26, 2009

Elementary my dear sales rep.

I love to watch the old Sherlock Holmes movies on TV. My favorite part is when Holmes demonstrates his incredible powers of observation. He notices tiny things that everyone else misses and then uses these clues to construct a detailed narrative and solve the crime. Sales people should work to develop their own powers of observation. Take note of the layout of a prospect's place of business. Look at their signage and what items are most prominently displayed. The decor of the store (For example is it elegant or purely practical) will tell you a lot about the personality of the owner. Use this information to start the conversation and formulate good questions. Business people are proud of their operations and like to talk about them. Starting out by saying "I noticed that you stock a lot of" or "Your store doesn't look like the average..." This will start the prospect talking about the business and get the call off on a very positive note. By the way, the deerstalker hat and the magnifying glass are optional.

Keep Smiling, Keep Selling!

Thanks Jim Busch

Make them famous!

One of my friends has been selling Pennysaver advertising for almost 30 years. Mike consistently ranks in the top five of our sales people. What is his secret? He concentrates his efforts on selling long term advertising agreements.

Mike tells customer's "My job is to make you famous and the only way we can do that is to keep you in front of your customers." He also trains his customers "not to expect any obvious results for at least six weeks, after that you will own the market." Mike's strategy is to get the customer to think long term and to get them used to advertising. One of the most interesting calls I've ever observed was with Mike. His customer said "Mike, we got some business out the ad this week." Mike responded "I doubt that, it is much too soon." The customer shot back, "Hey, I'm telling you the ad is working, I'm getting calls!" Mike acquiesced and went on with his call. Anytime you can get the customer to argue that the ad is working, you have them eating out of your hand. Talk to your customer's about making them "Famous" and you will be famously successful

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks--Jim Busch

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Great Research

Here is a great study published by editor and publisher. With all the press about the decline of the newspaper industry many customers think "print is dead." Here is the real story about what's really happening in the free paper industry.

Published: October 20, 2009 11:30 PM ET
NEW YORK A new National Newspaper Association survey found that 81% of respondents read a local weekly paper each week, 73% read "most or all of it," and those readers spend an average of 40 minutes with the paper.The NNA survey, co-sponsored by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, surveyed 500 adults, according to the report. NNA is the national organization for community, or weekly, newspapers.Among its other findings:
• Readers, on average, share their paper with 2.36 additional readers.
• Nearly 40% keep their community newspaper more than a week.
• Three-quarters of readers read local news "often to very often" in their community newspaper, while 53% say they never read local news online (only 12% say they read local news often to very often online).
• Among those going online for local news, 63% found it on the local newspaper's website, compared to 17% for sites such as Yahoo, MSN or Google, and 12% from the website of a local television station.
• 60% read local education news "somewhat to very often" in their newspaper, while 65% never read local education news online.
• 47% say there are days they read the newspaper as much for the ads as for the news.
• 30% do not have Internet access in the home.

Keep Smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Looking for leads in all the right places

Supermarkets, home centers and hardware stores are great sources for leads. These stores often have bulletin boards where many contractors post their cards and fliers. I also print up a small ad for myself saying listing some of my papers benefits and my number. When I stop at the bulletin boards to pick up leads I post up a few of these cards. Over the years I have made quite a few sales this way.

A few years ago one of the reps that works for my company had a small lumber yard as a client. He asked his customer when most of the contractors stop in to buy their materials. Per his customer he visited the lumber yard at 7 am, the next Monday morning and set up a folding table. For the next two hours he handed out free donuts and coffee along with his business cards. For a price of a few donuts, he landed three contract advertisers. Sometimes you need to think out of the donut box.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

A timely idea

Sales people use all sorts of tricks to keep themselves focused on their primary task. We all know that the more time we can spend talking to advertisers and prospects the more money we will make, but it is easy to get distracted. I spoke to a sales person recently that has a unique way of keeping himself on task. He bought a cheap digital stopwatch. Throughout the day he starts the clock running when he is talking to a customer either in person or on the phone. As soon as the conversation ends, he hits the stop button. Each day he records the total elapsed time in his Day timer. He told me that when he started doing this he was amazed at how little time he actually spends doing the activity that he gets paid for, talking to customers. This gives him a heightened awareness of time and has motivated him to operate more efficiently. He plays a little game with himself, trying to beat his previous "personal best."

I've met a lot of salespeople in my life. The top sales people I've encountered are always excellent time managers. Using a stopwatch is a bit extreme but the idea behind it is sound. The more time we spend with customers--the more sales we will make.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

News you can use

I once heard Omar Periu say "Until you say something interesting you are an interruption." It can be challenging to come up with something to grab the prospects attention. When I read the newspaper I am always on the look out for potential talking points. I look for stories that potentially impact the local businesses I call on.

For example, yesterday's USA Today featured a story about the decline in the sales of cemetery plots. The article attributed this to the lower cost of direct cremation. I will be able to use this story as a conversation starter with local cemeteries and funeral directors. "Mr. Customer I read an article about... in the USA Today, how is this impacting your business locally" Using this timely information gets the customer talking about their industry and their business. This gives you an opportunity to uncover problems that your publication will be able to solve. Using the news tells the customer that you are interested in them and positions you as more than the typical sales person

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, October 19, 2009

Be there when the customer's there

Selling advertising has never been a 9 to 5 job, neither is running your own small business. Many small businesses take years to become profitable. Owners of new start-ups often have to work another job to support themselves, pouring any profits from the business back into the enterprise. The cost of private health insurance adds to the need to stay employed. For this reason, many business owners can only be found at the business on nights and weekends. If you only call on these businesses during "prime time," you are unlikely to reach the decision maker. Plan on working a few nights a month and the occasional weekend. You will find you can reach many of these "part-time entrepreneurs." An added bonus, since most sales people are not willing to do this, you will find many of these business people will actually ber happy to hear what you have to offer. Like they say, "there's never much traffic when you go the extra mile."

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Quote

This week's quote carries a good message for all of us who create ads for our clients:

"Kodak sells film, but they don't advertise film. They advertise memories." Theodore Parker

The most effective ads engage the reader's emotions. I see too many ads with a photo of a furnace. All furnaces look alike, a big ugly grey metal box. Consumers are more engaged by a picture of people sitting comfortably in their home while snow falls outside the window. Likewise an empty restaurant says nothing, people enjoying a meal says "our food is great". Even if you have to argue with your advertisers to get it done, you ads should always sell "the sizzle instead of the steak"

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Thursday, October 15, 2009

To catch fish you need to bait the hook

According to a Harris Interactive poll, during a recession, 63% of consumers will not make a discretionary purchase unless they have a coupon or some other kind of incentive. This is good news for those of us in print media. In spite of the growth of Internet coupons, consumers still get the great majority of their coupons from print sources. Consumers are conditioned by long experience to think about print when they are looking for coupon or incentive offers. Businesses that want to maintain their cash flow in a recession should focus on offering value to the consumer in their advertising.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Thanks Jim Busch

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Selling against TV

Here's a fact from yesterday's USA Today (Tuesday October, 13, 2009) that should interest anyone who is considering television advertising.

In 2002 1.5 million Americans owned a DVR
In 2009 43.7 million Americans own a DVR

One of the main reasons people buy digital video recorders is to avoid commercials. Even if a consumer watches the program a business has purchased, the likelihood of their commercial being seen is significantly less than a few years ago. If you have advertisers who invest in local broadcast or cable advertising, share this fact with them. They would do better advertising in your paper where consumers actively seek out the ads rather than actively trying to avoid them.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great copy idea

As a student of advertising, I like to collect ad ideas that I like and can use. I just saw a great ad for a funeral home designed to position them against their lower price competitors. The ad features two graphics, a night sky and a daytime sky. These graphics work in conjunction with this headline and sub headline:

Is Value More Important Than Price?
The Difference Can Be Night & Day

Body copy under the "Sun" graphic explains the customer's value proposition. Copy under the "Moon" graphic addresses the risks of going with the low price competitor. The use of the headline and these graphics communicates the advertiser's message clearly and dramatically.

Keep selling, keep smiling

Thanks Jim Busch

Monday, October 12, 2009

Answer now, explain later!

When answering questions, the simpler the better. There are no grey areas in a "Yes" or ""No" answer. Obviously our business is much too complex to use monosyllabic answers in every case. When answering a question, communications experts agree that is best to give your answer first and then explain it. For example if a client asks "Can I get my ad in tomorrows paper?' the best response would be "No, I'm sorry, that issue has already gone to press. Our deadline is three days before the in-home date of the paper." This provides customer with the information they need right away. This allows them to easily process the information. It you place the explanation before the "meat" of the answer you confuse the issue. If you say "Mr./Ms. Customer, it takes a lot of work to put our paper together. our deadline is three days before the in-home date, so I won't be ale to get you in tomorrow's paper." the customer may be processing the collateral information and miss the fact they need. By answering directly you show the client that you are confident and know what you are talking about. Long rambling answers may give the impression that you are trying to avoid the question. Answering directly positions you as honest and straightforward.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday quote

Earlier this week I spent a very long day with one of our field reps. His manager asked me to spend some time with him because his territory is under performing. I had diagnosed his problem in about two minutes. Every other sentence out of his mouth was a complaint about something. He is absolutely convinced that he has the worst territory, the toughest customers and the most outrageous sales goals on the entire planet. With this attitude he couldn't sell life jackets on the deck of the Titanic! I had a long talk to him about his mind set but I am not sure it sunk in. Attitude adjustments have to be an inside job. This week's quote expresses a great way to look at life:

"There are only two ways to approach life--as a victim or as a gallant fighter, and you must decide if you want to act or react, deal your own cards or play with a stacked deck. And if you don't decide which way to play with life, it will always play with you."--Merle Shain

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Photos in an ad.

A few weeks ago one of the reps I work with asked me to visit an advertiser with him. The client was ready to cancel their ad because it wasn't generating a response. I talked to the client, the owner of a middle eastern restaurant, and reviewed her ad. The ad was a small version of their menu. It listed virtually everything they sold but was lacking one important did not mention anything about the quality of their food. I convinced the customer to cut back on the details and insert a photo into the ad. This photo of a smiling satisfied customer was captioned "I love XXXX's restaurant, the food is delicious." After two weeks of running the new program their sales significantly increased.

I believe the photo is largely responsible for the success of the ad. Scientists have recently discovered the existence of "Mirror" neurons in the human brain. These neurons keep us tuned in to the actions and emotions of those around us. (This explains why when someone yawns in your presence, you feel compelled to do the same) This is an important survival skill for social creatures like us. By including an image of someone enjoying the cuisine at the restaurant, it made the readers want to share this experience. Think about this when an advertiser wants to use a photo of their building...a picture happy smiling customers will be much more effective.

Keep smiling, keep selling.

Jim Busch

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Give them a chance to get back to you

Recently I received a voice mail message from a fellow trainer. This is a person that has been selling and training for decades. I hold this person in high regard and admire his great communication skills. I really wanted to speak to my colleague but I couldn't quite decipher his message. He spoke so quickly, that after listening to the message three times I couldn't quite get his phone number. This is an all too common problem. I think this goes back to the early days of answering machines when message time was very limited. Today's systems are usually voice actuated and you have all the time necessary to leave a message and your number.

When leaving a message speak slowly and clearly. Speak naturally and let your personality shine through. You may be speaking to a robot but that doesn't mean you have to be one. Leave a message on your own voicemail and listen to how you sound. Voice mail is a fact of life today, leaving good clear messages is an important sales skill

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Great prootion idea

A local dentist came up with a great way to promote his practice and get some great PR. In the interest of protecting the teeth of local children he is buying their Halloween Candy. We haven't worked out the ad copy as yet but he is thinking about paying a set price per pound of goodies. He will also give the kids healthy snacks like apples and a coupon for Mom & Dad. To really position himself positively in the eyes of the community, he is going to ship the candy he collects to the local troops in Afghanistan (Tooth decay is the least of their worries).

This promotion is a great way to create a buzz and position the dentist as caring about the community.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Monday, October 5, 2009

Take Time to Listen

Sales people have a reputation for being great talkers. The truth is the best sales people are also great listeners. Listening allows them to understand their customer's needs and to uncover problems that can be solved with their products. Here's a tip that I use to make sure I don't miss anything the customer has to say.

When the customer stops speaking, I silently count to five before responding. This gives my brain time to process the customer's message so that I can give a considered response. It also lets me be sure that the customer has finished speaking. They may be just be taking a breathe or trying to think of a word. The five count lets them continue with their train of thought. By doing this you avoid talking over the customer. A collateral benefit of this technique is that you will sound more intelligent. Intelligent people tend to pause more often and speak more slowly.

The five count rule will make you a better conversationalist and a better sales person.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks--Jim Busch

Is direct mail dead?

According to a postal service study the volume of mail delivered to U.S. homes in 2008 declined by nearly 10 billion pieces from the 2007 total. As mailing decreases, more and more companies are using e-mail to reach out to consumers. Combined these two trends have lead some pundits to declare that "Direct Mail is Dead".

Being a "lemons into lemonade" kind of guy I see a different story in these stats. For many years the big complaint about direct mail was that it was too easy for your message to be lost in the clutter. As mail volumes decrease the impact, and consequently the value, of direct mailed or home delivered publications increases. The opposite is true of e-mail marketing. As more and more messages cram our in boxes, the less likely any message is to be read.

For an ad to have impact two things have to happen. The consumer needs to notice the message and they have to believe there is a benefit in reading it. With fewer pieces in the mailbox, direct mail is a great way to get noticed. It is up to us to create a compelling reason for it to be read.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The "I'm too busy to talk" objection

When confronted with broccoli my son used to say "Save it and I'll eat it later." If my wife and I let him get away with this ploy, "later" would never come. When customers say something like "I am just too busy to talk, call back in a few weeks." you can bet if you called them hourly for the next ten years, you would never catch them during that mythical "slow" time when they will give you all the time you need. Give the customer the benefit of the doubt, but if you get this objection more than once or twice, you need to force the issue.

Lay everything on the line and tell them:

"Mr. Smith, you and I know that you will be just as busy next month. That's why we should talk now. I have some ideas that can help your business. We should meet soon. I promise you that I won't take much of your time and that you'll find it time well spent. Would tomorrow afternoon or morning be better for you?"

One of two things will happen. You'll the appointment or you'll find out that the customer is just stringing you along and wasting your time. This will let you put them on the back burner and free up time to call on better prospects.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch

Friday, October 2, 2009

Great quote

Here is this week's quote:

"I can give you a six word formula for success: Think things through--Then follow through."
Eddie Rickenbacker

Rickenbacker led an amazingly successful life. He was a WWI flying ace, a WWII hero and a successful business man who shaped the emerging airline industry.

Every salesperson should burn this quote into their brain. When researchers survey buyers about their complaints about salespeople "Failing to follow up on a promise" is always #1. A lot of business people rely on this to blow off weak sales reps. They say "Get back to me in a couple of weeks and we'll talk" knowing full well that they will never see the rep again.

Follow up is the root of trust, and trust is the key to turning prospects into customers.

Keep smiling, keep selling

Thanks Jim Busch