• The Human Side of Selling

    By Michelle Davidson

    Customer RelationshipWhen you think about your buyers as a collective, often they become a bunch of nameless, faceless beings you must pursue, persuade, and close. You might also slip into auto-pilot and treat each one the same—run them through the same process you've been told to follow.

    You know, however, each one is different and that people buy things, not companies. Not only that, but you know people buy from people they like and trust. The key is remembering that when you get busy and worried about making sales.

    As we head into Thanksgiving weekend in the United States, I thought I'd share some advice from sales professionals to help you humanize your sales practices. These tips will help you improve relationships with clients, win more sales, and even help eliminate that perception of being a sleazy salesperson.

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  • Do You Work Well with Others?

    By Michelle Davidson

    Teamwork"Works well with others."

    Teachers everywhere have written that standard comment on children's report cards for what seems like forever. Job applicants often say it about themselves during job interviews. Supervisors want that quality in employees. And customers seek that in the businesses they hire.

    It's a worthy trait. The problem is the phrase is so generic and overused that it has lost its value. When you hear it, chance are you sigh and think, "Really? Do you think you could give me some details?"

    That being said, how can you demonstrate you are a team player and work well with others? Here are some examples:

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  • It's About Helping, Not Just Selling

    By Michelle Davidson

    It's About Helping, Not Just SellingThe ultimate goal is to sell your products and services. For without sales, you have no business. That doesn't mean you should be a selfish, say-anything-to-get-the-deal salesperson. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

    When you consider buyers' and partners' needs, provide value, and help them, you will gain more: buyers' trust, loyalty, and referrals—to name a few things. It's about being helpful and giving.

    But it needs to be the right about of help. Too little, and buyers won't see the value you offer. Too much, and you won't get the fees you deserve.

    "It's a delicate balance between helping future clients and giving away the farm," writes Vickie K. Sullivan in her article 3 Things to Give Away in Every Sales Conversation. "By focusing on the journey, the crossroads and the decisions, you can help buyers make the right move. You create value without giving the solutions. You can be generous without hurting yourself."

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  • Think Before You Speak

    By Michelle Davidson

    Think Before You SpeakSay something abruptly, and people will think you're rude. Talk just about you, and people with think you're self-centered. Continually criticize an employee's work and not offer constructive help, well, you know what they'll think of you.

    It all boils down to communication, and thinking before you speak (or write). You might have good reason for saying things, but you need to think about how your listeners will react to what you say and word things in a way that delivers the best result.

    This applies when talking with prospective clients during your initial meeting, when delivering a presentation to a potential client, and when trying to get your staff to do something.

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  • 2 Little-Known LinkedIn Features to Help with Sales

    By Michelle Davidson

    Kevin KneblLinkedIn, with its 300 million users, is probably the most effective social media network for professionals. Long known for its employment opportunities, the social network has evolved into a powerful sales tool.

    The problem is, most people don't take advantage of all LinkedIn has to offer. They might create a profile, but leave out important information (like how to contact them). They might complete their profile, but not use keywords to help them show up in search results. They might ask to join people's networks, but not customize the messages and cause recipients to immediately disregard the request.

    Not only that, but it's an evolving platform and if you don't change your LinkedIn-using habits, you could miss out on key new features.

    "There are a lot of things on LinkedIn that most people are not aware of because most people don't take a little bit of time on a daily basis to stay up to date and to stay current on the [platform]," says Kevin Knebl in a recent interview.

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  • The Softer Side of Sales

    By Michelle Davidson

    Relationships in salesWhen your schedule is packed, deadlines are looming, and your goals are falling short, you may find yourself in a driven, "I need to get things done" mode. That no-nonsense approach is great for getting things accomplished. (No procrastinating for you!)

    But it can affect your correspondence and interactions with prospects and clients. A brusque approach can cause you to sound uncaring, unsympathetic, and selfish—exactly what you don't want customers to perceive you as. You might also push too hard for a sale, which will also cause buyers to turn away.

    You need to show customers your softer side—the side that empathizes, is curious, asks questions, offers advice, and works to develop a relationship with buyers. For it's growing and maintaining strong relationships that will lead to sales and referrals.

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  • 4 Ways to Improve Your Sales Success

    By Michelle Davidson

    Improve SalesSometimes a new client just lands in your lap. And sometimes you have to work harder than usual to make a sale. Wouldn't it be nice if they were all effortless—that buyers quickly get to know, like, and trust you?

    It actually can be easier if you follow a few practices that show you have the greatest expertise and the best solution to resolve buyer challenges. Here's a look at a few things you should do:

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  • When You Put People First, Sales Happen

    By Michelle Davidson

    Hello, I am someone who can helpWhen you really want something, it's natural for it to become your focus. You zero in on it and determine the best way to get it or make it happen. You're goal-oriented and driven—nothing wrong with that.

    The danger comes when that drive makes you self-centered, pursuing something without regard to others. That behavior pushes people away—friends, co-workers, and if you're in sales—buyers. Sometimes the best way to achieve your goal is to take the roundabout way rather than the straight line.

    As Jill Konrath says in her video The More You Need a Sale, the Less Likely You Will Get the Sale, sometimes you need to "detach from the outcome." Because when you push too hard, you short-circuit the process. In sales, that results in buyers avoiding you, and in turn you become even more desperate.

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  • Danger Zones Sellers Need to Be Aware Of

    By Michelle Davidson

    AlligatorIn South Florida, where I live, alligators and fresh water go hand in hand. People say every body of fresh water here has an alligator in it—every canal, pond, and lake.

    Even the man-made lake in my neighborhood has a sign posted warning people of alligators. It doesn't look like a danger zone, though. With its fountain splashing in the middle, the Great Blue Heron fishing at the edge, the ducks paddling along, and turtles poking their heads up every few minutes, the lake looks like a heavenly escape—until you see an alligator head surface.

    We don't see alligators in our lake often, so it's easy to disregard the sign, walk right past it, and not even consider the possibility of danger. And that's what happened with my daughter when she decided to go for a run around the lake on Sunday. Her third pass around she realized the black bumpy thing in the water was an alligator's head. She did not do a fourth lap.

    Whether it's because we are absent-minded, inexperienced, or have a blasé attitude, we can easily find ourselves in situations in which we should have been more careful.

    The sales world has its own danger zones in which those same reasons can cause trouble. Here's a look at a few.

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  • 4 Marketing Metrics Companies Must Measure

    By Michelle Davidson

    Scott ArmstrongCompanies have a lot of marketing data, but many don't track and measure it. Or if they do, they don't measure the right things.

    That's a problem because if marketing teams don't measure campaign results, they can't accurately assess whether those campaigns are successful. They can end up doing a lot of work and getting little in return—no leads or unqualified leads that sales can't use. They also don't know where they should spend their resources.

    The key to successfully measuring marketing data is to create a campaign that includes measurable objectives, according to Scott Armstrong, partner at Brainrider, who spoke with me recently.

    "Often people will have a campaign objective of awareness. But for most B2B companies, measuring awareness within the population just isn't a feasible activity," he says. "The awareness that matters, though, is qualified visits to your website. And that can be measured quite accurately, and it can be set up as a specific campaign objective."

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