• 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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  • 4 Sales and Marketing Mistakes We Can All Learn From

    By Michelle Davidson

    Big 80s HairGoodness knows I've made my share of mistakes—personal and professional.

    Perming my hair to achieve that 1980s big-hair look? Probably not a good idea. Being afraid to make a career change and letting a great opportunity slip by? Something I still regret today. Saying the wrong thing to a prospective client and losing the deal? I rethink that conversation often.

    In sales and marketing, everyone makes mistakes—the newbies and the experienced. Sometimes it's because we don't know better. And sometimes it's because we forget what we're supposed to do. While we can't erase those mistakes from our past, we can learn from them.

    Here are a few sales and marketing mistakes many have made. Let them serve as reminders of what not to do.

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  • Emotion in Sales: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    By Michelle Davidson

    Emotions in SalesThere's no doubt about it; buying and selling triggers all kinds of emotions for customers, as well as salespeople. Sometimes it's good emotion that leads to a sale, and sometimes it's bad emotion that can damage the relationship between the salesperson and the buyer.

    Here's a look at the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly aspects of emotion in sales.

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  • 2 Ways Buyers Manipulate Sales Negotiations

    By Michelle Davidson

    Mike Schultz, RAIN GroupIt would be wonderful if everyone were honest and didn't try to manipulate things to their advantage. The truth is, however, some very manipulative people exist.

    In fact, when it comes to purchasing, people have written books that include advice on how to lie in order to manipulate a sale. One book, says RAIN Group President Mike Schultz, includes a passage that says something like this:

    It is possible to negotiate and never lie, but we have to keep our arguments prepared. Deciding whether or not to lie is a personal choice, and what we choose to do in one scenario might be different to another.

    In any case, for any lie, bluff or mislead, there are some basic rules to follow. Because if you get found out, it can damage your future credibility of the relationship—should this be important to you. The common rules to follow are never lie on the spot, always plan your misinformation, do your research and pick something they can't know, and avoid something that will create the need to maintain the lie.

    That's quite a wake-up call if you naively believed people enter sales conversations and negotiations openly and honestly.

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  • Your Insecurity Is Showing

    By Michelle Davidson

    InsecuritySome people seem to be natural-born sellers. They can walk into a room, strike up a conversation with anyone, and sell them anything.

    Then there are those who never thought they'd be involved in sales, who struggle with marketing their services and having conversations with prospects. Often they lack confidence, are wary of talking about how they help clients, and back down when buyers push back on price. If they had their druthers, they'd simply do their work and people would find them and hire them. Unfortunately, it isn't that simple.

    The good news is even the most timid service professionals can do things to improve their marketing and sales—and increase their confidence along the way.

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  • The Sales Pitch that Almost Got Me to Buy a Timeshare

    By Michelle Davidson

    Vacation salesI made the mistake of answering the phone while at my boyfriend's house. The person on the other end was selling timeshares for a hotel in Orlando, and boy did she have a deal for us.

    I could have immediately hung up, but I decided to hear her out—to hear her pitch. It was more of a learning experience for me than anything. I wanted to hear if she used sleazy sales tactics or if she had an effective approach. I must say she was pretty good.

    Right off the bat she knew how to develop rapport with me. She asked if I was Mrs. Kennedy (my boyfriend's last name is Kennedy.) I said no, I was his girlfriend. To which she said, "But you soon will be!"

    Well played, Ms. Saleslady.

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