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Sales Reps Blog for Openers & Closers

Building your pipeline and helping humanity, one introduction at a time.

21 Apr

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Sales: Discovering the Inner Martial Artist

April 21, 2014 | By |

Throughout the last couple weeks on social media, we’ve noticed a significant rise of followers in martial artists, fitness gurus and ninja lovers. We love it! It got us thinking, “What do martial arts have to do with sales?” As extreme as that might sound, these two actually have a lot in common. Ninja

One of our mottos here at HitQuota is, “Find your inner sales ninja.” We believe that anyone can master the skills of selling and reaching their goals, as well as enter into stealth mode and take customers and clients completely by surprise. Turns out that a ninja and sales person have a lot more in common than you might think.

So for all of you sales people out there who look at the martial artists, fitness gurus and ninjas of the world with envy, this one is for you.

3 Ways to Discover Your Inner Sales Ninja

  1. Patience & Persistence
    “To become a ninja, you first have to allow yourself to become one.” – Jarius Raphel

Believe it or not, martial artists and ninjas did not master their skills in one night. They consistently worked at it and were patient with themselves. Practicing your script, understanding the product and/or service and being persistent will give you the title of Sales Ninja in the office.

  1. 2.    True & Simple

“To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way… the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is.” – Bruce Lee

In sales, it isn’t about making it overly clever, complicated and Wolf-On-Wall-Street performance ready. The truest part of sales is talking to a customer, finding out what their need is and meeting it. The closer you stay to that truth, the easier it will be.

 

  1. Smooth & Stealth
    “You must become more than just a man in the mind of your opponent.” – Henri Ducard

Ninjas are most famous for their incredibly smooth moves and ability to act in stealth mode at all times. They are more than the ordinary person, and that is what makes them intriguing. Don’t be the conventional sales person, be more and take your client by surprise. Be incredibly smooth but not slimy, admirable but not cocky.

These are just a few tips on becoming the sales ninja/martial artist that you’ve always wanted to be. Are there other similar traits that you can think of? Share them with us in the comments below!

Photo Credit: OpenClips

11 Apr

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Is Customer Loyalty Dead? Customer Engagement to the Rescue!

April 11, 2014 | By |

Reading that title, it’s possible that you might have shouted “Blasphemy!” and threw your hands up in the air at the idea of killing customer loyalty. While I’m not proclaiming a boycott of the customer relationship, it’s important to note that measuring customer loyalty might be a hobby of earlier days. According to Forbes, “Customer loyalty as a business metric is often misleading and worse: It’s difficult to correlate with other business management metrics used by executives to assess strategic decisions. This, in turn, makes loyalty problematic for justifying increased resources and for fostering credibility among customer executives.” Untitled

What is the saving grace for customer loyalty? Enter customer engagement! 

In the technological and social world we live in today, it’s all about getting people to talk. The consistent conversation between both the customer and the company is a sure way to measure your customers’ true loyalty to your brand. After all, if they aren’t talking about it, actively using it or sharing the good news about it, what use is that customer anyways? Now that’s a harsh statement, I understand, but retaining those dream clients is about getting them to actively participate and engage with your product, company and/or service. Plus, customer engagement is easier to measure, easier to influence and gives a beautiful picture of direct relation to profits.

According to Curtis N. Bingham, customer engagement consists of two facets: advocacy and involvement. It’s all about building a connection, an emotional one, which reels in your customers and creates a solid human-to-human interaction. If your customers are talking to you, that means that they aren’t talking to your competitors and, bonus, they’re giving you insight about their wants, needs and expectations from your industry. “Engagement will become a key metric of business performance in the future,” says Bingham.

How does customer engagement measure customer loyalty? 

“Loyalty is an emotional state, whereas engagement is an actual behavior,” states Bingham. Customer loyalty is a roller coaster with results full of variations and circumstantial events. Customer engagement, on the other hand, can be measured simply by participation levels. If participation and active involvement start waning, it might be time to change it up.

Moral of the story: An engaged customer is a loyal customer who is an active advocate for your brand.

Don’t measure your business success off of how many followers or likes you have. Instead, write for the customer, address them specifically and get the conversation going. If people want to hear about your brand or have suggestions, they’ll let you know. That’s when you know they actually care about your company.

Have you started a customer engagement strategy? We’d love to hear about it!

Photo Credit: PublicDomainPictures

07 Apr

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The Customer Referral: 7 Mistakes Sales People Make

April 7, 2014 | By |

You did it. You nailed the sale, your customer is happy and everyone is ready to get off the phone. But what about that customer referralCustomer Referra

Many sales people are told that the customer referral is the best prospecting tool that they’ve got. While that may be true, many people are failing at snagging a quality referral that will stick and produce another big sale. Becoming a master at getting a quality customer referral takes practice, but there are some rules (and wisdom) to keep you on the straight path and save you some time and energy fighting tooth and nail for referrals.

Are you making these seven mistakes when it comes to referrals?

1. Not asking.

Seems like common sense right? If you want something, ask for it. According to Paul McCord, 70% of sales people don’t ask for a customer referral. Don’t make the assumption that if you ask, they will just say no.

2. Asking only once.

Congratulations, you’ve solved problem number one. But just asking once isn’t going to cut it. Studies have shown that sales people who ask for a referral twice receive, on average, 2.03 names and numbers, while asking a third time rakes in 3.28 referrals per client. That’s 32 referrals per 10 clients!

3. Suggesting instead of asking. 

Don’t beat around the bush and make it awkward. Just ask for it.

4. Waiting until the end. 

Why not get a heads up about how the process is going so far and ask for that customer referral during the call instead of at the end of it? If you wait until the end, the customer is given little to no time to even think about possible referrals and thus gives you nothing.

5. Focusing on your needs instead of the clients.

“Do you want to help me out and give me a name and number for a customer referral?” Nope. Customers don’t give you referrals because they like you or respect you. They don’t really care about helping you. Don’t make it about you and try and get the pity vote.

6. Calling the preferred prospect. 

Wait, what? Naturally, it would make sense to call the prospect after getting the referral right? Wrong. Get a personal introduction from your client and use an avenue such as LinkedIn to make a connection that isn’t just another marketer/client relationship.

7. Not earning the referral. 

Bottom line: You need to earn these referrals from clients; they will not just be handed to you like gold stars for effort. Really make a point of reaching out to your client and satisfying their needs. You want to earn quality referrals so make sure that you give your client the motivation to give them.

These are just a couple mistakes that sales people make on a daily basis when it comes to getting the customer referral. What other words of wisdom do you have for prospecting? We’d love to hear in the comments below!

27 Mar

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Sales Tips from Sales Ninjas: Part II

March 27, 2014 | By |

Last week, we posted five sales tips from sales gurus across the globe and thought, “More isbetter!” So naturally, we’ve doubled the tips and are sharing them with those of you hoping to achieve ultimate sales ninja status. Let us know which ones are your favorite on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn!

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Under-promise and over-perform. – Dale Carnegie @DaleCarnegie
  • When connecting with your customers, set realistic expectations and make sure you consistently achieve and exceed those goals. It’s much better to go beyond in reality than promise the world and under-deliver.
You can sell only if you yourself are convinced. – Tom Szaky @Tom_TerraCycle
  • If you are not sold on the product or service you are selling, it will only be an uphill battle to sell it to someone else. Know your product, find your passion in it and sell it to yourself before transitioning to the customer.
Be normal. – Debra Fine @DebraFine
  • It’s harder than it seems. Don’t try to be the oily, snake-like sales guy out there that everyone knows. Instead, be a humble and respectful individual. Don’t present yourself as that person, just be the regular human being on the other side of the phone.
The sales and marketing conversation should never be about you.– Bob Apollo @bobapollo
  • What makes you different from the competition? Buyers need to be educated and understand how your approach will help them in their current obstacle. Earn the buyer’s trust, don’t try and buy it.
The new ABC’s of sales: Always Be Caring!– Paul D’Souza @pdsouza
  • Salespeople need to change the way they think, speak and act with their customers. Take the time to develop a relationship and learn what matters most to them. What do they care about? Offer guidance that will genuinely help them.
Set a reasonable daily goal.– Matt Heinz@HeinzMarketing
  • Make sure it’s manageable! Literally put something on your calendar, such as a recurring meeting, that reminds you to execute a small call-to-action.
Plan for the long term. – Babette Ten Haken@babettetenhaken
  • You can’t grow your business if you are constantly replacing a large portion of it every year. Do what you can to acquire a high rate of renewal and be aware of opportunities to extend contracts.
Lead TO what makes you unique, not WITH what makes you unique. – Matt Dixon @matthewdixon
Sell smarter, not harder. – Professor Neil Rackham
  • Find a new approach by using the “3 S’s:” Selection, Strategy and Skills. You cannot sell successfully if you do not take the time to be smart about it.
Enchant your customers. – Guy Kawasaki @GuyKawasaki
  • “Enchantment is the purest form of sales. Enchantment is all about changing people’s hearts, minds and actions because you provide them a vision or a way to do things better. The difference between enchantment and simple sales is that with enchantment you have the other person’s best interests at heart, too.”

20 Mar

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Sales Tips from the Best Sales Ninjas: Part I

March 20, 2014 | By |

Not all sales people are created equal, however each person has the ability to become the ultimate sales ninja and hit (or exceed) their quota on a quarterly basis. But just like an elder teaches its apprentice, heeding guidance and advice from the sales gurus around the globe can save a lot of time, energy and take you to the level you want to be. We’ve scoured the Twitter feeds, blogs and LinkedIn discussions for our favorite sales tips from the top sales ninjas in today’s industry.Untitled

1.     PLAN OUT YOUR SALES WEEK BY CHOOSING ONE OF THREE OPTIONS.

S. Anthony Iannarino, President and CSO for SOLUTIONS Staffing. @iannarino

1.     Begin with existing opportunities, either working forward or backwards (starting with the earliest stages of the sales process or the closest to the end sales).

2.     Create new opportunities within your existing clients.

3.     Prospect and nurture your dream clients. This is starting cold but you ensure that it gets done.

2.     BE A FOLLOW-UP SPECIALIST.

Tom Hopkins, author of Selling for Dummies & more than 20 other sales books. @TomHopkinsSales

“Many people talk a good game and then never deliver. Sometimes the cause is hypocrisy and sometimes it’s simply being sloppy and careless. Successful people do what they say they’ll do, and they pay close attention to detail so small issues don’t get neglected and become major catastrophes.”

3.     IDENTIFY YOUR LIMITING SKILL TO SALES SUCCESS.

Brian & Michael Tracy, authors of Unlimited Sales Success: 12 Simple Steps for Selling More Than You Ever Thought Possible. @BrianTracy

 “What one skill, if you developed and did it in an excellent fashion, would help you to double your sales and double your income? Whatever your answer, write it down, make a list of all the things that you can do to learn that skill, and begin today, one step at a time, to master that skill. You could be only one skill away from doubling your income.”

4.     CREATE A CLEAR STRATEGY FOR BOOKING FACE-TO-FACE APPOINTMENTS.

Colleen Stanley, president of Sales Leadership Development. @EiSelling

”…If you are a sales manager or business owner running a sales team, you need a plan—a set number of appointments to make every week. Note, I said a number of appointments not some appointments; some isn’t a number, some is hope and hope isn’t a strategy. You need to have a clear strategy for every sales activity.”

5.     THE CUSTOMER BUYS YOU FIRST. SELL YOURSELF BEFORE YOU TRY TO SELL YOUR COMPANY OR YOUR PRODUCT.

Jeffrey Gitomer, Founder of Gitomer Certified Advisors. @gitomer

 

Check back next week for more of our favorite tips from sales ninjas across the globe. If you have a favorite sales tip you’d like to share or see posted on our blog, please let us know on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn!

18 Mar

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Social Selling Part 3: Pinterest, YouTube & LinkedIn, Oh My!

March 18, 2014 | By |

For the past couple weeks, we have discussed the meaning of social selling and introduced you to a couple ways to implement the sales tactic on two major social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter. In the final installment of our series we want to expand the reach you can have on potential clients and customers using the more visual social media platforms: Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn. Read on to learn how you can master the art of social selling through more than just words on a page.

PinterestUntitled10

The fast-growing (the pinboard-style website hit 10 million unique monthly views faster than any standalone site in U.S. history) and image-heavy social media platform has taken the Internet by storm in its ability to make ideas and concepts come to life. While the site has a female-dominant following, businesses from around the globe use this platform to share products, behind-the-scenes looks and industry news that readers can digest in a matter of minutes. Use it to aid your selling efforts by:

- Featuring your visual content such as Infographics, new products and ideas and encouraging users to comment.

- Hosting a contest: Boost engagement by asking customers to take a picture with your product, produce a fun video or create a board that best describes your brand. Not only is it more unique and user-generated content, it’s free positive testimonials.

- Getting to know your customers: Follow their boards and see what they’re pinning about. Re-pin what they’re interested in.

- Being a curation expert: Your goal should be to become the go-to Pinterest account for industry news and knowledge. Get creative and showcase the best of the best, even if it isn’t your own creation.

YouTube

Thanks to video and microphones, you have the ability to talk directly to your customers in a quick and fun fashion. Use YouTube as a social selling tool by:

- Uploading one video a week featuring a new product or service.

- Sharing behind-the-scenes videos showcasing your office, the staff and fun activities.

- Encouraging users to create video responses and make a contest out of it.

- Celebrating your customers via a video interview or spotlight.

- Getting creative and staying relevant: Produce a video parodying a popular commercial or TV series.

LinkedIn Untitled11 copy

What started out as a strictly business social media platform where you could upload your resume has now turned into an inside-look at a brand’s reputation. The ability to build connections has created a web of opportunities to reach that person via a friend’s best friend’s aunt’s nephew (or what have you). According to Koka Sexton, “All roads in B2B sales lead to LinkedIn,” and he’s correct. “It’s the only social network specifically designed and positioned for the professional workforce… the future of sales is a social one.” Once a connection is made on LinkedIn, you have your “in” with a potential client. Exercise your social selling by:

- Developing a personal brand on all LinkedIn profiles. Encourage each team member to build a strong profile that provides solid credibility for your business. Visually build your brand via videos, Infographics and stunning images.

- Being active in targeted group activity. Randomly commenting here or there on various groups won’t get you anywhere. Aim to become a top contributor and thought leader.

- Gaining referrals by building a strong “1st Network”: Review daily what your network is talking about and build connection via those trends.

Think you’ve got a handle on social selling? We’d love to hear your thoughts and best practices in the comments below!

07 Mar

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Social Selling Part 2: Leveraging Facebook & Twitter

March 7, 2014 | By |

In Part 1 of our series, we talked about social selling and the five practices you should put in place to improve your strategy. For this post, we’re going to take a look at Facebook and Twitter and how these platforms can be a launching point for your sales reps. Social selling is a new sales tactic making waves across large and small social media networks and it’s time for you to dive in.Untitled

While social selling can vary slightly in its definition, the concept remains the same. Leveraging your social brand to drive revenue, make connections and fill your pipeline. But how do you do that on major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter?

FACEBOOK

Everyone is on Facebook, it seems. The platform is always inventing new ways to get people talking on the site; whether it be through wall posts or through tabs with external pages, Facebook is always building community. It’s the ultimate link to your customers’ personal lives. Social selling on Facebook should take place with ‘likes,’ promotions, customer spotlights and engagement. Use Facebook as a place to give your fans a sneak peek and dibs on new products or services.

TWITTER

While Facebook is more about your customers’ life profile, Twitter is about their ideas and thoughts. People go to Twitter to learn or laugh or vent. The 140-character layout makes sharing easy and by design is a public forum. This gives you the chance to engage with potential customers, retweet thought leaders, or gain industry insight. You’ll see immediate updates about sales events, management changes or fundraising requests, and this is where you can swoop in and offer your services or opinion. Lastly a social selling tip, use Twitter lists to keep a record of prospective clients, competitors, customers, companies in your industry and partners.

What social selling practices have you implemented on these social media platforms? We would love to hear your opinion in the comments below!

Check back next week for, Part III: LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube, to learn how to leverage these other social media platforms to your benefit.

28 Feb

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Social Selling Part 1: 5 Practices to Implement Now

February 28, 2014 | By |

What is social selling? This catchphrase is often thrown around in conversation with the hope of sounding smart but ask the average person and they’ll probably look at you pretty dumbfounded. Social selling is a relatively new sales tactic that is gaining traction and finding its way into everyday conversation. So what is it? Untitled copy

According to Eloqua, “Social selling is the practice of leveraging social networks and the associated tools in the overall sales function, from lead generation, to closed deal, to account management.” It’s basically taking your sales process from the phone book and cold calling to online networking.

Sounds simple, right?

While the overall process definitely speeds sales up and opens new opportunities, there are several new practices that need to be implemented in order to produce a successful social selling strategy. Read on for five practices you need to implement right away.

1.     Retweet Customer Tweets 

The whole point of social selling is direct interaction with your customers through social media platforms and online networking. Display your active presence and eagerness to connect with customers by retweeting what they have to say about your company or the industry.

2.     Respond to LinkedIn Invites with a Personal Note

Receiving automated “Thanks for following” or “Thanks for connecting with me, here’s my website” comments from new connections are incredibly annoying. Set yourself apart from the competition by taking the time to respond to invites with a personal message that lets the person know you acknowledge them.

3.     Acknowledge a Contact’s New Job, Accomplishment or Endorsement

This little check-in works wonders with customers and contacts. Not only are you encouraging a contact, you are creating a positive brand and image that tells the world your company cares about its customers’ personal success.

4.     Tweet or Share Your Customer’s Content

Did one of your customers just create a stellar SlideShare about the sales process? Encourage your contacts thought leadership by sharing their content with your contacts. While it may not directly sell your product, it sells the fact that you are plugged in to the industry and keeping up with relevant changes and ideas.

5.     Create a Sales Environment Where Everybody Wins

In social selling, it’s about continuing the conversation and accomplishing little victories. By connecting with your prospects through social media and making the sales process personalized, you are creating loyal relationships that reach past the close. If you create an environment that is about the actual person and what they’re doing, they will thrive, and so will you.

Social selling is not an overnight fix-it for increasing prospects and customers, but it’s not something you can ignore anymore. What actions have you taken in social selling? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Be sure to check back next week for tips on leveraging specific social media platforms to find and generate leads!

Photo Credit: br1dotcom

07 Feb

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Networking: An Introvert’s Guide

February 7, 2014 | By |

Imagine a typical sales rep, are they a boisterous, witty person that talks quickly and has an answer for everything? If your answer is yes, you might be surprised to learn that not all sales reps are as outgoing as they may seem. There are plenty of introverts that have made a career for themselves in sales and have found success.

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When introverts are presented with the idea of networking a sort of panic seems to bubble its way into consciousness and an all-system failure occurs. Even the best sales reps around the world have admitted to feeling insecure when it came to passing out business cards and rubbing elbows with potential clients and partners. But the truth of the matter is that this panic is not only unnecessary, it’s fixable. Here are three tips to knock the habit of panic when it comes to networking.

1. Get out of the Meet & Greet Mindset

What am I going to say? What are we going to talk about? When do we exchange business cards? Do these questions sound familiar? Well, do us a favor and throw these statements out the window and instead look past the initial meeting. Networking is about building relationships based on a solid foundation of trust. Therefore, skip the forced meet and greet sessions and instead blossom somewhere you already feel comfortable. Get involved further in your local community or become a thought leader on a public online forum. It’s all about building that relationship; don’t think that you have to start at the very bottom every time.

2. It’s Not About Numbers

Contrary to popular belief, successful networking isn’t illustrated by how many Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections you have. According to Inc. (and science!), we can sustain groups of about 150 people. Sincerity, trust and genuine interest will hold a strong relationship together. Just because you can name drop doesn’t mean it’s a secure connection. Build a reliable reputation with a close group and your influence will reach further on its own without any extrovert action of your own!

3. Think Outside the Comfort Zone, but Stay Sane

There’s a thin line between reaching outside of your comfort zone and running in reckless abandonment. Stick with the former and push yourself, even if it’s just a couple inches, outside of that beautiful box you’ve created. A true introvert is not going to jump on stage and proclaim themselves as an attempt to overcome their shyness. Instead, expand your knowledge and build your skills. Start with a small interest group that will guide and educate you. Once you feel strong enough in that area, attack a bigger networking group. Create ground that is strong to stand on and build your road from there.

So to all introverts, stay introverted! Don’t be intimidated by the extrovert with 65,000 friends because at the heart of it, they are more terrified of genuine relationships than you are. Be patient and strong with each new connection and soon you will have an unbreakable web of leads, referrals and experts surrounding you.

Photo Credit: sjockell

31 Jan

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Employees Need Gamification

January 31, 2014 | By |

It’s a well-known fact: Gamification works. The act of bringing the classic elements of gaming into the office in order to motivate employees is a tactic that hasn’t failed in lightening up team morale. But if gamification hasn’t quite made it into the office workflow, it’s certainly made it onto employee’s computer screens in social media.

Moral of the story: 50% of the United States population between the ages of 18-44 play social games on a daily basis. So why not keep these employees in the office (and engaged) by implementing the same attraction into work-related tasks?

Exactly.

Here’s another fun fact: In a recent study, employees who were trained on video games learn more factual information, attain a higher skill level and retain information longer than those who work in a less interactive environment.

Now, we are not suggesting that you re-design your company’s entire workflow in order for it to resemble a Super Mario level. Always start with little changes, such as a fun and quick game like a name generator. This takes a minute (max!) and boosts team morale. Who doesn’t love receiving a new ninja name like Ethereal Jade Grasshopper?

ninja-name-generator

Gamification is also a great way to get your customers engaged directly with your company. Posting polls, contests and small games for clients to participate portrays a strong brand image and fun company culture. Customers will refer companies who they feel connected with and who honestly care about who their customers are.

Work doesn’t have to be fun all the time; it is work. But don’t be afraid to play a little and bring out the talented and competitive players that are your employees; they might surprise you.

Want to find out your ninja name? Try out our Ninja Name Generator and post yours in the comments below!