There’s No Substitute For Good Service

“Comcast and all other enslavement brands like them had better take note. Your days are numbered.  We are fed up with the lies, the betrayal and the avoidance.”
 
WOW!
 
That’s one of many comments on Ad Age’s website in response to the perception of Comcast’s “abysmal service and callous treatment of its customers.”  “I will not be satisfied until Comcast is on its knees, weeping,” wrote Bob Garfield.  “In fact, I won’t be satisfied until it is heaving with sobs, squealing and hyperventilating with snot dripping from its nose.”

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Posted by John Harden  February 27th, 2009

Want To Light A Fire Under Your Sales Team?

We recently wrote in Minnesota Business about how to increase sales without increasing your sales staff.  We mentioned that, when it comes to selling, many of us have operated under the old rule of thumb that it takes three contacts to get on our prospect’s radar screen, and at least seven before he or she is ready to consider us as an option.  We have all heard stories that up to 90 percent of leads are never even followed up on and that most sales people, under the pressure of delivering results NOW, don’t ever reach the third contact let alone the seventh where all the action is supposed to happen.
 
Today, in a world of challenging economic conditions and complex sales cycles, the new rule of thumb is more like 10-12 contacts to be recognized, and 16-18 to be invited to the party.  At the same time the pressure for immediate results has not gone away.  In many cases, the direction from sales managers is simply to work harder and make more calls, which is not a long-term solution to the challenge facing us.
 
Clearly we cannot continue to operate the way we have in the past and expect, or hope, for better results.  And the answer is not in adding staff to recognize the additional number of contacts required to make a sale – – let alone continue to support and expand the relationship with a new customer so they won’t bolt at the first hint of a better deal.  So what is the answer?

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Posted by Barbara Hoganson  February 26th, 2009

Once Upon A Time…

These four simple words conjure up the anticipation of a tale of wonder and fascination. One might think this is something for a campfire, classroom or bedside. But that would be very wrong.
 
The definition of story in this case is an account of incidents or events, a statement regarding the facts pertinent to a situation in question – – not a work of fiction.
 
All of us have been in a business management or sales meeting where the speaker clicks through a PowerPoint presentation showing charts and numbers. Few people, if any, take anything away from those meetings. But put the same information in the context of a story and the point is made. When you tell a story, people understand what the mission is and they understand how they can make it happen. If you just talk at a high level of mission and vision the reaction is, “What am I supposed to do with that!?”

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Posted by Barbara Hoganson  February 25th, 2009

On Becoming A Top Performer

We were asked to contribute to an article that appeared in the Minneapolis StarTribune on ‘Tips For Becoming A Top Performer.’  I thought you might find the information we provided — gained from working with our clients — interesting:

The difference between top producers and average performers is often less than what most people think

I am sure that you have you heard this many times as it relates to professional athletes and others.  But the truth is, the ability to perform daily at a consistently high level is what separates the high achievers from the “ordinary” category.  And the key to that is having the personal commitment and discipline backed by process and tools that allow you to do a number of little things just a little better than your competition each and every day.

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Posted by John Harden  February 24th, 2009

Marketing Must Be Reinvented!

A recent article of ours dealt with the importance of Elmer Wheeler’s famous advice: “Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle.”  What Wheeler meant by “sizzle,” of course, was identifying the benefit that has primary appeal to your prospect.  In other words, that aspect of your product or service that grabs your prospects’ imagination and gets them excited.  It represents the benefit that is most closely linked to the prospect’s interests or motivations, and leads to the “best selling arguments” we can come up with — factors that have a real gut-level appeal to the buyer.   
 
But Wheeler also went on to say that while the sizzle has sold more steaks than the cow ever has, the cow is mighty important. This time we’ll talk about the cow.

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Posted by John Harden  February 23rd, 2009

Thoughts For A Successful Year!

One recurring theme we hear when interviewing decision makers on behalf of our clients is their desire for trusted resources – partners – who can help them be better than they could be alone.  Challenging times offer unique opportunities to step up to the plate and cement a bond by coming through for them in a time of need.  It presents an opportunity to get back in touch with key customers, and prospects on your target list that just didn’t get called as you had hoped.

This is also a great time to revisit whether or not you still feel that your value proposition is current and meaningful.  Does it clearly state the tangible results a customer gets from doing business with you?  Or said another, less tactful, way – does it answer the question of why they should do business with you?  What you wrote one, two or more years ago may not resonate today.  If not, it may just be because you have grown.  In that case, congratulations and now get out a pen and paper and start jotting ideas.  Short, clear, and crisp.  Something that could fit on a t-shirt.  Something you can embrace and have fun with.  Something that inspires and gives purpose and direction.
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Posted by John Harden  February 22nd, 2009

What Great Presenters Do

Whether you are in front of prospects every day, or occasionally sell your ideas and strategies to an internal audience, all of us can benefit from the reminders below about the things that presenters can do to set themselves up for success, or doom themselves to failure. 

Our friends at IMPAX recently conducted a poll of a couple of hundred strategic account managers and sales leaders on what presenters can do to make a powerful impression on their audience.  The most commonly mentioned things:
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Posted by John Harden  February 20th, 2009

Innovation As A Tactic, Not A Strategy

Innovation has been looked at as an admired business strategy over the past decade. We’ve even written about it. But the other side of the story is that most companies that require a constant flow of new, innovative products will someday find themselves in deep trouble. Proof of that claim is that Sharper Image, home of innovative products such as the Razor scooter, the robotic dog, the Ionic Breeze, the StressEraser and the R2-D2 interactive droid, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as did a whole list of others.
 
As timeless author Al Reis points out, “Every successful company needs a branding strategy, which may or may not include innovation. Yet many marketing gurus have elevated innovation to a point where it is widely perceived as the single most important function of a corporation.”

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Posted by John Harden  February 19th, 2009

Does Your Marketing Sizzle?

Author Thomas Sant wrote a recent article in which he quoted Elmer Wheeler’s famous line, “Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle.” Wheeler went on to say, “The sizzle has sold more steaks than the cow ever has, although the cow is, of course, mighty important.”
 
What Wheeler meant by “sizzle” is the compelling benefit that has primary appeal to the customer. In other words, that aspect of your product or service that grabs your prospects’ imagination and gets them excited about what will happen if they buy from you.  It represents the one clear benefit that is most closely linked to the customer’s interests or motivations. Or better said – their emotions.
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Posted by John Harden  February 19th, 2009

Filtering Out The Fluff!

Most of us struggle with trying to avoid marketing fluff.  It’s not easy.  But the benefits are worth the effort.  

I recently read a brochure about a new upscale housing development.  The piece was beautifully designed, had nice graphics, and it visually flowed well.  So what was the problem? What it said.  Or rather, what it didn’t say.  Everything they wrote about their project consisted of dull, worn-out clichés – -“leading edge,” “state of the art,” “innovative,” even that bloated loser “synergistic.”  The copy gave no compelling reason whatsoever as to why I might be interested.  And based on the visuals, it looked to me like there were several.
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Posted by John Harden  February 18th, 2009