Category Archives: Sales

How to make a million dollars

A couple ways to make a million dollars:

1.) Sell one $1,000,000 product.

2.) Sell 10,000 $100 products.

3.) Sell a million $1 products.

There are other ways, but some thoughts:

A.) Number 1 is the easiest. Selling to a few people with big budgets and lots of problems is the simplest of any scenarios listed above.

B.) Number 2 is the most fun. Well, as a marketer at least. Getting 10,000 customers means earning fans, making something worth talking about, and making meaningful connections.

C.) Number 3 is impossible. And getting more so every day. This is a good thing.

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Precedent

In some institutions, what came first is an invaluable guideline. Decisions are based on former decisions. It’s purposely difficult to justify changing course.

Law is probably the best example. Decisions made without precedent are rare and typically left to the highest court to determine… to, y’know, establish precedent.

But too many modern decisions are based on the templates of someone else.

Like: “Our return policy is the industry standard.”

Until, of course, someone changes the standard.

Or: “Whatever you sell, have ‘X’ as an option. You’ll alienate customers without it.”

Moral of the story: You’re operating something — right now — based on someone else’ precedent.

It’s not yours, it’s a false standard. Consider raising the bar, or changing the game altogether.

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What you really sell

When you move to Chicago from elsewhere (like I just did) and have no clue of where to go (again, like me) there’s a company that specializes in helping you find a place.

They’re called Apartment People and they do some amazing things.

They help you find a list of potential apartments and drive you around to show them to you–all for free. On their business cards, Web site and marketing materials they claim to deliver the services of helping you find a place to live.

But what they really sell is stress relief–and they know it.

From the moment you walk in you’re greeted with fresh coffee and large, comfy furniture. My agent was funny, friendly and listened to my interests and concerns about the apartments and neighborhoods I was interested in.

Everything down to the soft lighting and modern work stations said relax, our business is removing stress. We’re here to help.

And they did.

If you’re moving to Chicago, consider using them. And if you’re in business, think about what you’re really selling.

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I Need Your Help

Yesterday I was in an all-day sales team meeting. We were discussing our challenges, both internally and externally.

Bitching, really, about how much selling we were having to do internally – about how challenging it is to convince operations of what our clients and the market are demanding. Oh, if only operations would just get the hell out of the way, then we could really get somewhere.

That’s when our consultant stopped us.

I hope you don’t think you’ll ever be able to stop selling internally, he said.

That’s when he shared with us what he considers the most powerful phrase in the English language:

I need your help.

More powerful than anything. Certainly more powerful than I love you, he said. It’s because it immediately shows respect and places value in the person you’re communicating with.

He recommended we use this phrase to build internal evangelists in key areas of the company – in conjunction with the tactics good salespeople use with prospects in the outside world:

  • Establish rapport
  • Show mutual benefits
  • Celebrate successes

I’m guessing pretty much all of us need help from somebody. Try the phrase out.

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Skeptical? How about a video referral?

I just read Jeffrey Gitomer’s The Sales Bible.

The title isn’t too far off – it’s full of lots of little nuggets for how to better yourself as a salesperson. It’s chunked up into lots of lists of very practical techniques you can put to practice to improve your results.

In a nutshell, it’s not about quick words and slick presentations. It’s about selling to help customers and being remarkable while doing it.

But of all the points Gitomer makes, this idea haunted me:

Ask existing clients to participate in a video referral that you can show prospects.

How about that? No fancy copy or splashy logo or amazing guarantee can have as much influence as a few earnest video referrals from your current clients.

Anyone could do this – a freelancer, a big corporation, an agency, a job seeker (sure beats a thumbs-up on LinkedIn)…

Why not try it?

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Sales tips we can all use

I’m reading Jill Konrath’s Selling to Big Companies. Jill is the woman behind the blog of the same name and has offered sales consulting to the likes of 3M, IBM and GE – so she knows her stuff.

Here’s some tips that I’ve gleaned so far that everyone can benefit from:

1.) Focus.

When Jill first started consulting, she offered companies advice on just about anything they needed, operating in just about any industry. Doing that required grueling amounts of research and dedication for ‘one-off’ applications – information and experience she may have used only once.

After she wised up and focused on new product launches her business boomed, she deepened her expertise and was able to take what she learned and further apply it to future opportunities.

Remind you of some other smart advice?

2.) To go big, it helps to start small.

When trying to get into big organizations, it’s wise to start small.

GE, for example, is a big organization, but it’s comprised of a whole bunch of smaller divisions. By getting in and helping with a smaller piece, you stand a much better chance of getting a larger chunk of the pie.

3.) A good value proposition is everything.

A value proposition answers two questions: How can you help my business? and What difference do you make?

This, Konrath says, is the key to getting the attention of any decision maker. This is a good time to offer tangible benefits you bring. Numbers, statistics, befores-and-afters – no matter how intangible you consider what you do is, there is always a way to show real results.

Hopefully this helps you the next time you’re job-interviewing, selling, marketing, copywriting – all that fun stuff.

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