Potpourri: My Best Tips on How to Survive or Succeed in this Tough Economy: Sales & Marketing
It’s back to basics! With the hot wind of serious recession shrinking companies and potential business some of us will be forced to start over while others must jump start what they already have. I began my business in 1994 at age 50. In hopes of helping you here’s what worked for me:
- High energy, people skills and a product/service the marketplace will buy: you need all three.
- “Burn” to succeed.
- Wherever two or more or gathered – be there. Strive to get one business lead from each networking event.
- Know your “elevator speech” cold.
- Speak to associations no matter what they pay: it’s like pitching a few hundred prospects at once.
- Throw ideas against the wall and keep the ones that stick: the marketplace tells you what it wants.
- Since business survival trumps idea survival, change direction if an idea isn’t selling.
- Always market. The late PR expert Jim Fyock said you’re working yourself out of business if you are not marketing.
- The best marketing is to do a great job or have a terrific product.
- Write columns frequently. Articles for this journal and its predecessor were my single smartest move. One column enticed a company to give me two years of business when my firm was new and running on fumes.
- Post the columns on your website and email them to clients and prospects.
- Take a sales course. The late sales expert Bill Brooks dramatically improved my persuasiveness. He insisted on that old saw: keep your name consistently before potential clients so that they think of you first when they need help. That’s why I think my columns were income builders.
- Cold calls work. My biggest client ever came from a cold call. Ten years of consistent business followed. For prospects read the annual Book of Lists from your area Business Journal and contact the biggest companies listed.
- Warm calls are better. Having a mutual friend connect you reduces risk, encourages rapport, and is thus “warm.”
- Ask prospects open-ended questions until you identify their needs/wants and then match your product/service to them.
- If prospects think your price is too high then you need to do a better job of establishing your value.
- Personally talk to a specific number of new prospects per week. Superstar sports promoter Mark McCormack once asked Michael Jordan how he averaged 32 points a game. Jordan said he only needed 8 points a quarter and said “anyone can score 8 points.” Using Jordan’s incremental goal-setting model, McCormack said you can extrapolate how many contacts you need each week to hit a monetary goal.
- Call when you feel good. To build confidence start your day with less significant conversations before moving to the biggies.
- Give new clients a small bite of your product/service, impress, and upsell them to bigger bites. Identify clients with the deepest pockets and find ways to serve them deeply.
- If interviewing for a job, learn in advance your potential employer’s three most important wants/needs and tell them how you’d help make it happen. Get them to talk 2/3 of the time.
- As for stress: think about what reduces yours and do it. For me it’s keep busy, exercise, study Abraham Lincoln, and, in the darkest times, read the 23rd Psalm and consult a higher power. Self-help guru Brian Tracy suggests, “Think about quitting, just don’t!” Success often means you kept going when others gave up.
Good luck. This too shall pass. Remember that at least once in life you should jump off a cliff and build your wings on the way down.