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Archive for August, 2016

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Sales: Yep, more sales discussion..

salespersonWe all enjoy buying, but we do not want to be sold.  I was recently in a music store looking at some guitar accessories.  The salesperson walked over and said  “may I help you?”  And I said, (just like you do)..  “no thanks..  just looking.”

That’s despite the fact that I went in there to buy a guitar accessory.   Why did I say that?  Because, just like you, I don’t like being sold anything.

In Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn  after the townspeople figure out they’ve been conned by Huck and Jim’s  unwanted raft partners, they begin yelling “sold, we’ve been sold!”  That’s the same connotation we give to that word today.  And no one likes it.

But, every successful business needs to “sell” their products and services, right?

Peter Bourke wrote “Unselling: Sell Less and Win More” It’s a great book that I had our people read.  Peter, along with most other successful sales people and sales trainers contend that the first thing you should attempt with a prospect is NOT to sell him anything, but instead to offer him value.  In short, make it about him, and not about you.

Often,  even with the best of intentions, we fail at this simply because we don’t know what the prospect or customer really values.  It’s very easy to assume we do; and it’s a deadly mistake.

In the early days of our business, I was very proud of my own technical prowess in our field.  At the risk of sounding arrogant, I was very proficient in the electronic motor drive world, and enjoyed a national reputation  as a result.  And, it was unquestionably an advantage.

However, I was often distressed when a competitor I felt was technically inferior would steal a customer or land an account I was chasing.  “How could that prospect give the business to them, when I’m so much better?”

Over time, I came to understand that what I valued most, was not necessarily valued by prospects.  They expected a certain level of expertise, in fact, it was sort of the ticket to the game.  When I repaired equipment and it worked they were happy, but they also expected it.  When my competitor repaired it, and it worked, they were also happy.  Arguing technical nuances was not interesting to the customer, even though it was paramount with me.

We must learn what the customer values before we can be of value. Bourke makes the very valid point that there are times when what the prospect values or wants is not in his best interest, and we can offer the value of educating him.   But regardless, the starting point in that discussion is to learn what’s important to him now. Then by acting on what you learn, you can become a resource instead of salesperson.

How do you discover what’s important?  Well, start by listening.  Learning what a customer or prospect values is impossible with your mouth open.  Customers care about their business, not about yours.  The more you learn to care about their business, the better relationship you can build with them.

Jeffrey Gitomer says if you lose a job to an existing customer to a competitor, it simply means that competitor has a better relationship with that customer than you do. That’s a hard pill to swallow for many of us, but like most medicine, it does us good.

Here’s a few thoughts for you to consider:

  1. Why do people buy from you?  Don’t hurry through this, take the time to analyze.
  2. Why do they buy from your competition?
  3. What’s your specific market advantage?  This is something  very important to your customers, that you excel at.
  4. How many more people would buy from you IF ONLY they knew you existed?

How strongly do you believe in your product or service?  At our electronic motor drive company EMA Inc. we say that “No One, Anywhere, is Better at Drives than we are.”  I firmly believe that, and I often ask our team member if they do. When we make mistakes, we will start by saying, “we must fix this in order to remain better at drives than anyone else.”  It’s part of our culture.

This isn’t something you can just say and then leave alone, it means that every day we have to inject energy and passion into what we do, and be certain that we are in fact as good as we say.

But here’s what it does for you in sales…   It gives you a belief that cannot be penetrated about the value you can bring to a prospect.  We firmly believe that in our niche market, prospects get more value in doing business with us than with anyone else in our field.

And that makes selling and doing business a lot more rewarding.  As Peter Bourke says..   sell less and win more.

 

Eddie Mayfield

 

Audio

Relationships.. the real measure of success

MP3

daveotc21Assuming you’re ever on a death bed (as Jerry Seinfeld quipped, “why would you ever buy one of those?”) taking stock of your life, the criteria by which you measure success will be relationships.  Relationships with God, family, and friends.  And, probably nothing else.

The older I get, the more convinced I am that nothing trumps relationships, and that’s true both in your personal and business life.

Here’s a few thoughts about that:

  1. Relationships require investment.   
  2. Relationships require humility.
  3. Relationships are one on one; Facebook is not a relationship. 

Author Malcomb Gladwell in his book “Tipping Point” says that our electronically interconnected world has had the effect of renewing the desire for personal touch.  Gladwell says that we are re-entering (I’m not convinced we ever left) the age of “word of mouth.”

Think of this in your own life.  All of us are inundated with marketing messages every day in various forms.  We’ve developed filters, almost an immunity to them.  But, if someone whom we know well and trust tells us about a restaurant or a movie, we give that recommendation instant credibility.  That’s the power of a relationship. It does, trump all other marketing.

Jeffery Gitomer, author and business coach wrote “The Little Black Book of Connections” some years ago.  I’ve read it several times, and have even given copies to friends.  In addition to his book, Gitomer has written numerous blogs on the subject.

Here’s a few highlights from him:

  1. Make the focus of the relationship the other person, not you.  No one wants to be used.
  2. Don’t worry as much about customer satisfaction, as about customer loyalty.  This is huge.  Loyalty requires a relationship.
  3. If you lose a job to a current customer to a competitor on price, it means the competitor has a better relationship than you do.
  4. If you think you will make a sale because you have the best product, price, or service- you’re kidding yourself.  50% of sales are made on the basis of friendship. 

So, how do you start to build relationships?  Slowly.   Harvey Deutschendorf suggests:

  1. Learn to be a great listener.  Everyone wants to be heard and understood.  We naturally bond with people that really hear us, and we want to spend time with them.
  2. Ask the right questions.  Be sure you understand them by digging deeper.  One way is to say, “if I understand you correctly, you said… ”  When others sense that you’re sincerely trying to understand them, then tend to open up.  This deepens the relationship.
  3. Pay attention to the whole person.  We tend to remember and appreciate people who ask us if everything is OK, even if we haven’t told them anything is wrong.   It tells us that they are paying attention to us.
  4. Remember things that are important to them. People will tell us what they value, if we just listen.
  5. Manage your emotions.   People who tend to have mood swings have a hard time building deep relationships.  Erratic shifts in mood tend to push people away.  If this is a problem for you, work on it.
  6. Share your story, but only when the time is right.   We all know people that begin sharing intimate details of their lives before we’re ready to hear it.  Pace yourself, and wait till the right time.   IF you have an experience that relates to the other person’s experience, it’s usually good to share it.  But, here’s a caution; don’t upstage their experience with yours.
  7. Be genuine and fun.  People enjoy being around positive people who are comfortable in their own skin.

Finally, go places and do things.   Don’t give a customer a ticket to a ball game, take them to a game, and if possible, take their family.

Gitomer suggests an I-Max movie for the whole family.  And do NOT bring up business there, unless they do.

Don’t have time for all this relationship building stuff?  Then maybe you’d better find a mundane job where it doesn’t matter.  Because in every significant job, it does.

 

Eddie Mayfield

 

 

Post

Success through relationships

daveotc21Assuming you’re ever on a death bed (as Jerry Seinfeld quipped, “why would you ever buy one of those?”) taking stock of your life, the criteria by which you measure success will be relationships.  Relationships with God, family, and friends.  And, probably nothing else.

The older I get, the more convinced I am that nothing trumps relationships, and that’s true both in your personal and business life.

Here’s a few thoughts about that:

  1. Relationships require investment.   
  2. Relationships require humility.
  3. Relationships are one on one; Facebook is not a relationship. 

Author Malcomb Gladwell in his book “Tipping Point” says that our electronically interconnected world has had the effect of renewing the desire for personal touch.  Gladwell says that we are re-entering (I’m not convinced we ever left) the age of “word of mouth.”

Think of this in your own life.  All of us are inundated with marketing messages every day in various forms.  We’ve developed filters, almost an immunity to them.  But, if someone whom we know well and trust tells us about a restaurant or a movie, we give that recommendation instant credibility.  That’s the power of a relationship. It does, trump all other marketing.

Jeffery Gitomer, author and business coach wrote “The Little Black Book of Connections” some years ago.  I’ve read it several times, and have even given copies to friends.  In addition to his book, Gitomer has written numerous blogs on the subject.

Here’s a few highlights from him:

  1. Make the focus of the relationship the other person, not you.  No one wants to be used.
  2. Don’t worry as much about customer satisfaction, as about customer loyalty.  This is huge.  Loyalty requires a relationship.
  3. If you lose a job to a current customer to a competitor on price, it means the competitor has a better relationship than you do.
  4. If you think you will make a sale because you have the best product, price, or service- you’re kidding yourself.  50% of sales are made on the basis of friendship. 

So, how do you start to build relationships?  Slowly.   Harvey Deutschendorf suggests:

  1. Learn to be a great listener.  Everyone wants to be heard and understood.  We naturally bond with people that really hear us, and we want to spend time with them.
  2. Ask the right questions.  Be sure you understand them by digging deeper.  One way is to say, “if I understand you correctly, you said… ”  When others sense that you’re sincerely trying to understand them, then tend to open up.  This deepens the relationship.
  3. Pay attention to the whole person.  We tend to remember and appreciate people who ask us if everything is OK, even if we haven’t told them anything is wrong.   It tells us that they are paying attention to us.
  4. Remember things that are important to them. People will tell us what they value, if we just listen.
  5. Manage your emotions.   People who tend to have mood swings have a hard time building deep relationships.  Erratic shifts in mood tend to push people away.  If this is a problem for you, work on it.
  6. Share your story, but only when the time is right.   We all know people that begin sharing intimate details of their lives before we’re ready to hear it.  Pace yourself, and wait till the right time.   IF you have an experience that relates to the other person’s experience, it’s usually good to share it.  But, here’s a caution; don’t upstage their experience with yours.
  7. Be genuine and fun.  People enjoy being around positive people who are comfortable in their own skin.

Finally, go places and do things.   Don’t give a customer a ticket to a ball game, take them to a game, and if possible, take their family.

Gitomer suggests an I-Max movie for the whole family.  And do NOT bring up business there, unless they do.

Don’t have time for all this relationship building stuff?  Then maybe you’d better find a mundane job where it doesn’t matter.  Because in every significant job, it does.

 

Eddie Mayfield

 

 

Audio

Negotiation: Learn the skill

MP3

Yhandshakeou will not go far in your career without learning negotiating skills. Daniel Pink wrote “To Sell is Human” and in there he defines selling as moving a person from one position to another. Deepak Malhotra in his book “Negotiating the Impossible” defines negotiation as the process by which two or more parties who perceive a difference in interests or perspective attempt to reach an agreement.

I read an interesting Bloomberg blog recently by Jim Camp titled “Business Schools Teach Negotiating Tactics that Don’t Work.” 

He states that most of these tactics make the mistake of assuming any agreement is better than no agreement.  We’ve said at EMA for years that there are worse things than failing to land a project, and that’s getting a project you shouldn’t have.

Camp makes a great point that no one should come to the negotiating table with preconditions, assumptions, or expectations for gaining agreement.  The smart negotiator recognizes that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

I heard a Montgomery Ward executive speak many years ago about his experience as a young manager trainee.  The store sold a wood heater to an elderly couple, the stove malfunctioned and caused damage to their home.

The senior management assumed the worst, thinking the couple wanted an exorbitant amount of money or settlement.  They sent the young trainee out there, and he asked the question no one else had bothered to ask: “what would you like us to do?”

He was surprised to hear them say, that they just wanted their carpet replaced in the room with the stove.  This reiterates Camp’s point.

How do you learn what you don’t know?  Very simple, you ask questions.

This isn’t to say that you don’t prepare for negotiations, but your research is to help the negotiator ask the right questions, not to instill assumptions.

The best questions are open ended what, how, and why questions.

Deepak Malhotra suggests that you negotiate process before substance.  Many of us have had the frustration of a long negotiation only to have the other person say, “well, I have to get my boss’ approval.’ We thought he WAS the boss.  It’s imperative that you understand and negotiate the process before getting to that position.

Selling to the wrong person is a time honored sales mistake, and it should be avoided.  You should clarify and reach agreement on the path to a decision.

Peter Bourke in his book “Un-Selling: Sell less and win more” suggests that you clearly understand the time factor.  Many negotiators and sales people will ask “when do you plan to make a decision on this project,” and then just accept what is said.  Bourke suggests asking a followup question, “what bad things will happen if you don’t make a decision by that date?”

If the answer is, in essence, “nothing,” then that’s not a real deadline.

Negotiation:  You’d better get skilled at it.

 

Eddie

Post

Negotiating: Sooner or later, you have to learn it

Yhandshakeou will not go far in your career without learning negotiating skills. Daniel Pink wrote “To Sell is Human” and in there he defines selling as moving a person from one position to another. Deepak Malhotra in his book “Negotiating the Impossible” defines negotiation as the process by which two or more parties who perceive a difference in interests or perspective attempt to reach an agreement.

I read an interesting Bloomberg blog recently by Jim Camp titled “Business Schools Teach Negotiating Tactics that Don’t Work.” 

He states that most of these tactics make the mistake of assuming any agreement is better than no agreement.  We’ve said at EMA for years that there are worse things than failing to land a project, and that’s getting a project you shouldn’t have.

Camp makes a great point that no one should come to the negotiating table with preconditions, assumptions, or expectations for gaining agreement.  The smart negotiator recognizes that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

I heard a Montgomery Ward executive speak many years ago about his experience as a young manager trainee.  The store sold a wood heater to an elderly couple, the stove malfunctioned and caused damage to their home.

The senior management assumed the worst, thinking the couple wanted an exorbitant amount of money or settlement.  They sent the young trainee out there, and he asked the question no one else had bothered to ask: “what would you like us to do?”

He was surprised to hear them say, that they just wanted their carpet replaced in the room with the stove.  This reiterates Camp’s point.

How do you learn what you don’t know?  Very simple, you ask questions.

This isn’t to say that you don’t prepare for negotiations, but your research is to help the negotiator ask the right questions, not to instill assumptions.

The best questions are open ended what, how, and why questions.

Deepak Malhotra suggests that you negotiate process before substance.  Many of us have had the frustration of a long negotiation only to have the other person say, “well, I have to get my boss’ approval.’ We thought he WAS the boss.  It’s imperative that you understand and negotiate the process before getting to that position.

Selling to the wrong person is a time honored sales mistake, and it should be avoided.  You should clarify and reach agreement on the path to a decision.

Peter Bourke in his book “Un-Selling: Sell less and win more” suggests that you clearly understand the time factor.  Many negotiators and sales people will ask “when do you plan to make a decision on this project,” and then just accept what is said.  Bourke suggests asking a followup question, “what bad things will happen if you don’t make a decision by that date?”

If the answer is, in essence, “nothing,” then that’s not a real deadline.

Negotiation:  You’d better get skilled at it.

 

Eddie

Audio

Selling your point of difference

MP3

differenceI once heard Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley say, that “if you have the only hotdog stand in town, your hotdogs don’t have to be that good.”  Most of us don’t have that option.

Business Coach Sue Miley wrote a blog recently on leveraging your points of difference. Sue rightly insists that if don’t leverage what makes your company unique, then you are the same as everyone else.

She gives 5 questions to help determine your point of difference.

  1. Who Buys from you? Go a little deeper than women or men and determine as best you can exactly “who” buys from you.
  2. Why does your customer buy from you?
  3. Why do they buy from you and not from your competitor?  This is where you begin to list qualities that are unique to your business and important to your customers.
  4. Are your unique qualities sustainable? I especially like this question.  In the industrial business that I’m in, some might say that we’re the only person in the SE stocking a particular part. But, what if a competitor begins stocking it? Is that still a unique quality?
  5. Are your unique qualities real? “We offer great customer service” is not a real point of difference.  What does that even mean?  ” We will have an A/C technician at your house within 2 hours-” is.

The more you can target, focus, and refine your market, the more successful you will be.  And by being certain that the value proposition you present contains real points of difference the easier it becomes to target.

I used to do a lot of trade shows.  There was always a tension between getting numbers of people to visit your booth, and getting qualified people to visit.  At these male dominated shows, you could ensure heavy booth traffic by having an attractive female on display, OR by raffling away sports tickets.

But I came to the conclusion early in my career, that smaller was bigger.  We didn’t just want people tramping through the booth, we wanted people that were interested in our products and services, and had the ability to buy them.

Remember, your target customer doesn’t have to be an existing customer, in fact, they may not even be aware you exist.

But if you’ll spend the time determining what your points of difference are, what target market that appeals to , and then relentlessly focusing on it.  You’ll find success.

One final thought..   these are moving targets.  Especially where technology is concerned, what was a viable business a few years ago, may not be now.  Know your business!

 

Eddie

 

 

Post

Selling your “point of difference”

differenceI once heard Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley say, that “if you have the only hotdog stand in town, your hotdogs don’t have to be that good.”  Most of us don’t have that option.

Business Coach Sue Miley wrote a blog recently on leveraging your points of difference. Sue rightly insists that if don’t leverage what makes your company unique, then you are the same as everyone else.

She gives 5 questions to help determine your point of difference.

  1. Who Buys from you? Go a little deeper than women or men and determine as best you can exactly “who” buys from you.
  2. Why does your customer buy from you?
  3. Why do they buy from you and not from your competitor?  This is where you begin to list qualities that are unique to your business and important to your customers.
  4. Are your unique qualities sustainable? I especially like this question.  In the industrial business that I’m in, some might say that we’re the only person in the SE stocking a particular part. But, what if a competitor begins stocking it? Is that still a unique quality?
  5. Are your unique qualities real? “We offer great customer service” is not a real point of difference.  What does that even mean?  ” We will have an A/C technician at your house within 2 hours-” is.

The more you can target, focus, and refine your market, the more successful you will be.  And by being certain that the value proposition you present contains real points of difference the easier it becomes to target.

I used to do a lot of trade shows.  There was always a tension between getting numbers of people to visit your booth, and getting qualified people to visit.  At these male dominated shows, you could ensure heavy booth traffic by having an attractive female on display, OR by raffling away sports tickets.

But I came to the conclusion early in my career, that smaller was bigger.  We didn’t just want people tramping through the booth, we wanted people that were interested in our products and services, and had the ability to buy them.

Remember, your target customer doesn’t have to be an existing customer, in fact, they may not even be aware you exist.

But if you’ll spend the time determining what your points of difference are, what target market that appeals to , and then relentlessly focusing on it.  You’ll find success.

One final thought..   these are moving targets.  Especially where technology is concerned, what was a viable business a few years ago, may not be now.  Know your business!

 

Eddie

 

 

Audio

Biz Fundamentals

MP3

eddieyosemiteThe term “common sense” is often used to describe what we think of as obvious to most people.  However, as some have quipped, “common sense isn’t always common.”

I feel that way when I see people and businesses violating the most fundamental rudiments of business, without any realization they are doing so.

Here are a few:

  • Ignoring Cash:  Out of cash, is out of business.  It’s really not more complicated than that.  It’s a business fundamental, that while obvious, is commonly violated.  When I was flying airplanes, we were often told the first rule of flying was to watch your airspeed, and the second rule of flying, was again, watch your airspeed.   The reason is the moment air is no longer flowing past the wings at a sufficient rate, you stall.   In business, that rule is cash.
  • Look at your business through the eyes of your customers:  If they say your service is bad, your service is bad.  It makes no difference what you or your employees think.  Violate this business fundamental, and your customers will put you out of business.
  • Price your products and services properly: Prices should be set by the value that customers assign.  Many businesses fall into the “markup” trap.   You pay $100 for a part; you figure 10% is a reasonable return, so you sell it for $111.11 (by the way, you divide your cost by .9, you don’t multiply by 1.1 to achieve a 10% margin) .  However, that part has a value of $1000 to the customer.  Sell the value, not the cost.   Not every job or sale goes well, and if you are pricing yourself with little or no margin, it will eventually catch up.  Price by value, as determined by the customer.
  • Your job is to create and keep customers:  It is not to have nice furniture, or a snazzy website.  All of those may be nice, but the fundamental priority is to create and keep customers.
  • Hire the right people:  I learned this the hard way.  At one time, I hired strictly based on skills, paying little or no attention to personality, temperament, or values.  I was often surprised, naively, that employees weren’t as nice to customers or their colleagues as I’d hoped.  Hire honest people that have the skills to help you grow the business, that fit your culture, and are friendly.  A bad hire costs you a lot more than a wasted salary, it can cost you your business.  I go a step further, hire people that you enjoy being around.  It sure makes running a business a lot more fun.

Eddie Mayfield

Driven to Business, hosted by Eddie Mayfield, airs at 11 AM every Saturday on WAFS, Atlanta’s Biz 1190 AM.  The show is podcast on eddiemayfield.com and itunes, and streamed live on biz1190.com 

Simply the best business radio in Atlanta..  Driven to Business.

 

Post

Business Fundamentals

eddieyosemiteThe term “common sense” is often used to describe what we think of as obvious to most people.  However, as some have quipped, “common sense isn’t always common.”

I feel that way when I see people and businesses violating the most fundamental rudiments of business, without any realization they are doing so.

Here are a few:

  • Ignoring Cash:  Out of cash, is out of business.  It’s really not more complicated than that.  It’s a business fundamental, that while obvious, is commonly violated.  When I was flying airplanes, we were often told the first rule of flying was to watch your airspeed, and the second rule of flying, was again, watch your airspeed.   The reason is the moment air is no longer flowing past the wings at a sufficient rate, you stall.   In business, that rule is cash.
  • Look at your business through the eyes of your customers:  If they say your service is bad, your service is bad.  It makes no difference what you or your employees think.  Violate this business fundamental, and your customers will put you out of business.
  • Price your products and services properly: Prices should be set by the value that customers assign.  Many businesses fall into the “markup” trap.   You pay $100 for a part; you figure 10% is a reasonable return, so you sell it for $111.11 (by the way, you divide your cost by .9, you don’t multiply by 1.1 to achieve a 10% margin) .  However, that part has a value of $1000 to the customer.  Sell the value, not the cost.   Not every job or sale goes well, and if you are pricing yourself with little or no margin, it will eventually catch up.  Price by value, as determined by the customer.
  • Your job is to create and keep customers:  It is not to have nice furniture, or a snazzy website.  All of those may be nice, but the fundamental priority is to create and keep customers.
  • Hire the right people:  I learned this the hard way.  At one time, I hired strictly based on skills, paying little or no attention to personality, temperament, or values.  I was often surprised, naively, that employees weren’t as nice to customers or their colleagues as I’d hoped.  Hire honest people that have the skills to help you grow the business, that fit your culture, and are friendly.  A bad hire costs you a lot more than a wasted salary, it can cost you your business.  I go a step further, hire people that you enjoy being around.  It sure makes running a business a lot more fun.

Eddie Mayfield

Driven to Business, hosted by Eddie Mayfield, airs at 11 AM every Saturday on WAFS, Atlanta’s Biz 1190 AM.  The show is podcast on eddiemayfield.com and itunes, and streamed live on biz1190.com 

Simply the best business radio in Atlanta..  Driven to Business.