Tag Archives: Guerrilla Selling

Guerrilla Selling – the Transaction Step

In the last issue, we discussed The Presentation Step, and how to create excitement and motivation to buy.  The Transaction is the fifth step of the “NaB & CaPTuRe” roadmap: Need, Budget, Conviction, Presentation, Transaction, Reward.

The Transaction is that exciting moment when the customer signs the paperwork, writes a check, or hands over their credit card. Traditionally called the “Close,” guerrillas know that this is really the beginning of what we hope will be a long relationship.

“Are You Sure?”

As you finish your Presentation, prospects sometimes stiffen. They’re thinking, “UH-oh, here comes the contract.”  Many customers dread this moment even if they really need the product, because they feel they’re losing control,  Understanding this, guerrillas end the Presentation Stage, with something like:

“Well, that about sums it up.  Do you have any questions?”  The prospect now feels a little more relaxed.

“No, not really.”

“What do you see as the next step?”

“Well, don’t you have to write up an order?”

“Do you want me to write up the order?

“Yes.  Let’s do this.”

You know you’ve done everything right when the customer asks you to write up the order.   With that, the guerrilla fills out the order form, writes up a contract or prepares the financial paperwork.  Now the guerrilla hands the form to his new customer for his or her “approval.”

The Turnback

As the new customer is about to sign, the guerrilla gently interrupts:

“You know, something’s still bothering me. Remember when you said you wanted mahogany?  Are you sure walnut is going to be okay?”

What the guerrilla wants to hear is something like:  “Yes, in fact, walnut is really going to be much better.  It will be cheaper and probably fit in better with our decor.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

In the Transaction Stage, a guerrilla will recall at least one problem or objection, from earlier in the conversation, express genuine concern, and ask again if the concern is going to be a problem.  In so doing, not only are you turning control back to your customer, but you’re pre-empting buyer’s remorse. By capping the issue now, the guerrilla pre-empts buyer’s remorse.

When to Close

The best time to close is all the time.  Recognize that you have an opportunity to close any time the prospect makes choices, challenges, or changes.

Close any time there is a choice or small decision to be made, and that’s more often than you might think.  Close early and often, especially on little things.  Because people hate making big decisions, close on the small ones.

Always try to close after answering a challenge or objection.  If they accept your response, they will be psychologically receptive to making a commitment.  Guerrilla salespeople automatically finish their Presentation with a closing question, like, “Did I answer your question adequately?” or “Is that clear now?”

Also close any time there are changes in your prospects’ body language or changes in their criteria that could be interpreted as buying signals.

Five Types of Closes:

There are five basic closes and infinite variations.  They all have the same objective: to give the prospect an opportunity to say, “Yes.”

1. The Rx CloseRx Close

In the Prescription Close, you carefully probe, ask questions, summarize the problem, and then prescribe the solution.  “Based on what you’ve told me, I would recommend . . ..  Here’s what you’re going to need.”  This tactic is effective if the prospect trusts your expertise.

2. The Action Close

Pull out your pen and you start filling out the form, or phone the installer to set an appointment.  Or you might say, “Let me see if we’ve got that in stock. I’ll be right back,” and disappear into to the stockroom.

Return with the box in your arms and ask, “Okay, where are you parked?”  You know the deal is done when the prospect holds the door for you.

3. The Choice Close

Give them a minor decision that carries the major decision along with it.  This can be useful when breaking down a large decision into smaller, increments.  You’ve been looking at a $30,000 automobile and the guerrilla salesman says, “Would you like to put the stereo in the dash, or would you rather conceal it under the seat?”  Now, you have a small decision to make.

“Well, it would be more convenient in the dash.”  Not only have you bought the stereo, but of course, the car as well.

4. The Question Close

In the Question Close, you ask a question, which, when answered, gives you permission to proceed.  You might ask, with pen in hand, “What’s today’s date?”  When prospect answers, they’ve given you permission to proceed.  Or you might ask, “Excuse me, how do you spell your last name?”  When they provide the missing information, they’re saying, indirectly, “Yes, I’m ready.  Let’s go ahead with this.”  You’ve avoided putting them on the spot by asking, “Well, do you want me to write this up or not?”

5. The Add-on Close

The key phrase of the Add-on Close is, “Now you’ll also need. . .,” proposing some low-cost option or accessory.  “You’ll also need one of these to keep your blade nice and sharp.  They’re only ten dollars.”  When they agree to the blade sharpener, they’ve bought the lawn mower.  Guerrillas repeat the Add-on close until they get a “no.”  That’s when they know they have reached the limits of the prospect’s budget.

Close Early and Often

People do not want to be pressured.  They want to make their own decisions, and they resent being pushed too hard.  The goal is to make them feel that buying today is the most natural, intelligent decision that they could make.  Closing repeatedly will not only increase your sales, but also help prospects make good choices, and increase their respect for you.  So don’t stop until you have used at least three guerrilla closes.

When selling a new stereo system, a guerrilla we know combines the Question, Action and Add-on Close at the very beginning of his presentation by asking, “How far from the amplifier will you be putting the loudspeakers?”  Based on the prospect’s answer, he goes to the service counter, measures off the necessary length of wire, cuts it, ties it in a bundle and hands it to the prospect.  Now he’s setting through the Presentation, already holding the first component of his new stereo.

Silence is Golden

People are less suspicious than many salespeople believe, but they are also more sophisticated.  The public is as smart as your mother, and you know she’s no dummy.  People know when you’re asking them to take some action, and if they’re not ready, they’ll let you know.  Top salespeople will confirm that the simple, direct, unsophisticated closes can be very effective, but only if you use them.

In future installments of this series, we’ll explore each of the steps of “NaB & CaPTuRe” in more detail, and perhaps double or even quadruple your sales.

Guerrilla Selling – the COMMITMENT Step

In the last issue, we discussed how to determine your customer’s budget as the second step of our “NaB & CaPTuRe” roadmap: Need, Budget, Conviction, Presentation, Transaction, Reward.

The Commitment Step

In this critical step, you actually close the sale before making a presentation, by aligning your product or service with those criteria to which your customer is already committed. In the automobile industry it’s said that only 50% of the cars are sold. The other half are bought.

As often as not, your prospects have already decided to buy, before you get to talk to them. Car buyers are much more likely to be influenced by experience, friends, or media than by a salesperson.

A couple looking at a potential venue for their wedding reception has already committed to marrying each other. If they’ve also set the date and decided how many guests they will have, then you know they are ready to buy. Ask about other elements of their plans.

“Who have you arranged to do the catering?”

“Where will you hold the formal ceremony?”

“What transportation will you use from the church to the reception?”

“Will you want help with the decorating?”

The more complete their picture, the deeper their commitment.  So, for example, if the ceremony is being conducted at the church just up the street, you can emphasize the advantage of your location. “This will give your family a short, easy trip from the church.” If you know they’ve ordered an elaborate, expensive cake, you can emphasize the posh surrounding of your hotel. “Everyone will be impressed when you invite them into our lovely gardens.”

Criteria Words

The prospect will also have a set of physical specifications that the product or service must meet, in order to be satisfied. As in “it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight,” or “I’m looking for a dress in a size seven.” The guerrilla listens for these criteria words and notes them throughout the interview. Ask:

“What are you using now?”

“What do you like most about it?”

“What do you like least about it?”

These answers tell you what they want to keep, and what they want to change. Concentrate on those issues, and safely ignore everything else, because people do things for their reasons, not yours. You may have a hundred good reasons why they should buy this particular mountain home; price, location, good roads, rapid appreciation, close to schools, shops, recreation, and you know what? They couldn’t care less. No matter how good your reasons may be, ultimately, their reasons will prevail.

Other criteria may be introduced as the conversation continues, but the guerrilla concentrates only on those priority words and criteria words isolated by the prospect.

Buying Roadmap

It’s also useful to isolate the mental and physical steps your prospect follows when making a decision. People have a mental roadmap that they follow when making decisions. This strategy is unique to each prospect, but they tend to use the same strategy whenever they make a buying decision. The question that you can use to elicit their roadmap is to ask, “How did you decide . . .?” For example, a real estate agent might ask, “How did you decide to buy the house where you live now?” then listen carefully to their explanation.

“First we narrowed the search to a particular neighborhood where we wanted to live, then we checked all the listings, marking each address on a map. Then we looked at each house until we found the one that felt right.”

This answer reveals not only the criteria, but the roadmap of their house-buying strategy. If you lead them through the same progression, it makes it easy for them to buy from you. Start by “narrowing down” to the particular neighborhoods they liked best, then pull out a map, and start “marking.” Like a familiar chair, following their roadmap puts you in the selling “groove”. Besides, they’re going to buy the house their way, anyway. If not from you, then from someone who makes them feel more comfortable. So you might as well match their strategy. Listen for the sequence of the process they follow when making a similar decision, and then systematically structure your case using the same progression.

Is That Clear?

Sometimes the customer doesn’t really know what they want. Let’s take the case of a copier salesperson. If you ask the question, “What do you want in a copier?” and the response you get is something like, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure,” there are additional things you can do to get to their criteria. You can ask, “What are you using now? What do you like most about that?” or “What’s the exact problem you’re trying to solve?”

“What are you using now?”

“We are using an HP LaserJet.”

“What do you like most about your LaserJet?” he asked, repeating the prospect’s criteria words.

“It’s inexpensive to operate, and the copies are crisp and clear.”

“What do you like least about your LaserJet?”

“It’s too slow, and it wasn’t able to print collated and stapled documents.”

Now we’re getting criteria language: inexpensive, crisp, clear, (visual cues, you’ll notice) as well as the functional need for automatic collating and stapling. If you can show her that your copier will do it more quickly, collate and staple documents, and still reduce their operating cost, she’s going to lease the copier. And she really doesn’t care how many pixels of resolution it has, or how many reams of paper the bins will store, or what its internal drum speed is, so long as they get “collated, stapled copies that are crisp and clear.” This decision will hinge primarily on these five factors. You can ignore the rest, (at least for now) because. These five words are the keys to unlocking their sub-conscious mind.

Remember, priorities, criteria words and roadmaps are often unique to the context in which they’re used. The way your prospect makes decisions about buying office supplies may be very different from what they look for when shopping for a car.

Some additional questions for isolating criteria include:

“What is your main objective?”

“What are you doing to deal with that situation?”

“What are your plans for the future?”

“How do you plan to get it done?”

“Can you tell me more about that?”

“Is there a deadline?”

The answers to these questions will provide the performance specifications for your proposal. Whatever else this product may have going for it, must satisfy these physical criteria. Now present your product using the same criteria words, and follow their roadmap directly to the sale.

In future installments of this series, we’ll explore each of the steps of “NaB & CaPTuRe” in more detail, and perhaps double or even quadruple your sales.   This article was originally published in Marketing Africa magazine.

Guerrilla Selling – NaB & CaPTuRe

Sell what they Need

In the last issue, we discussed how Guerrilla Selling maps the steps customers take when making a purchase decision. In the next six installments, we’ll use the consonants in the words “NaB & CaPTuRe” to help you remember those steps: Need, Budget, Conviction, Presentation, Transaction, Reward.

By understanding the psychology of this process, then matching your strategy to each customer, you can make your offering practically irresistible.

The NEED Step

The first, and most often overlooked, is the Need Step. Find people who need your product and they’ll be easy to sell. Selling something they don’t need is much harder. So understanding each prospect’s individual needs is the most critical step.

Instead of selling features-and-benefits, position your offering as the solution to a problem. It’s easier to sell the solution to a problem than it is to sell an advantage or a benefit. You can discover new sales opportunities by asking, “What PROBLEM does my offering solve?” Write a simple elevator pitch by completing the sentence, “We solve the problem of _______.” For example, at The Guerrilla Group, “we solve the problem of selling against low-priced competition.”

Look for prospects who are likely to experience that problem. When a stranger who asks, “What do you do?” you can answer, “We solve the problem of:

  •  “. . .giving your products a lift to market,” (air freight), or
  •  “. . .employees who call in sick (temporary help services), or
  •  ” . . .tire-busting potholes (off-road tires designed specifically for matatus).

Anyone who says, “That’s interesting, tell me more?” is a hot prospect.

Things Every Customer Needs

Sometimes the problem you can solve has nothing to do with your product. Think about some of the basic things that every buyer needs from their supply chain:

  • Two or more vendors. Offer to be their second choice. Even if you’re more expensive, when their primary supplier can’t deliver, you can step in.
  • Technical and engineering help. Offer advice on how they can improve. Do on-site training for end-users on how to get the most benefit from your offering.
  •  On-time delivery. Manufacturers want vendors to reduce stocking and inventory costs by delivering just-in-time.
  • Minimize downtime. Shutting down a single machine can cost thousands of dollars an hour. If your offering helps them keep their systems up and running, you have an edge.
  • Reduce service and repair costs. Can you offer longer product life-cycles, faster, easier repairs, or place a stock of replacement parts on-site.
  • Avoid over-engineering the solution. Sometimes a less-expensive, lower-quality product is actually a better option.
  • Buy what they’ve been told to buy. If engineering has specified a particular component or part number, ask them to certify yours as an equivalent.
  • Timely and accurate billing. Nobody wants to argue with accounting.
  • Predictability and consistency. Even minor variations can wreak havoc in their assembly line, computer systems, or testing equipment.
  • Responsive, courteous and timely action by vendors when they have questions or problems. Give them your personal mobile number. Gain a competitive edge by being available, 24/7.
  • They need to look good to their boss. Help your customers document the savings, the increase in productivity, the boost in their sales, or other metrics that they can brag about.

Ask, “What have you used in the past?” and, “What problems have you experienced with that?” Then look for ways to solve those problems.

Criteria Words

Another very powerful weapon for determining customer needs is Criteria Words. Your customer is going to base their decision on a specific set of criteria, and if you can determine what those criteria are, and then match those to your offering, they will buy from you every time.

The difficulty is this; I’m sure you have 100 good reasons why they should buy from you, but your customer’s decision will be based on the three or four factors that they feel are most important. If you get three of them right, but miss just one, it will kill the deal. Making this even more difficult, the decision criteria will vary from one account to another.

The good news is that the customer will always tell you exactly which criteria are most important, if you ask the right questions, listen carefully to the answers, and then use those exact words in your presentation.

Effective questions include:

  • “What are you using now?”
  • “What do you like most about it?” and
  • “What do you like least about it?”

Listen carefully, and write down their answers, verbatim. Then adjust your presentation to cover those particular criteria. If you can deliver the things they liked most, while fixing the things they liked least, then it’s easy for your prospect to switch vendors.

To use criteria words with even greater precision and impact, ask the question, “What are you looking for in a _________?” or “What do you want ________ to do for you?”

For example, a customer  shopping for paint might say, “I need an exterior paint that is easy to apply, has vibrant color, and won’t fade.”

They’ve given you three criteria words: “easy,” “vibrant color” and “fade.” The guerrilla strategy is to use those same words when describing your product.
You might say, “We can make this really easy for you. Crown-Berger makes the most vibrant line of paints that you can buy. And while any color will eventually fade over time, our exterior formulation contains special UV filters, so those colors will stay vibrant for years, even under intense African sun.

Notice that I did NOT talk about “long-lasting” or “weather proof” or even mention that “Crown-Berger is Africa’s leading paint manufacturer.” These may all be important features, but not for this customer. On the other hand, if you simply address their criteria, and ignore everything else, you’ve made it much easier for the customer to accept, understand, and buy your proposition. (BTW, you can also incorporate these keywords into your web site to improve your findability on the Internet.)

But beware! If you use your own words to describe your product, the customer may, or may not, equate those words with their criteria. Notice that I said “any color will eventually fade,” not “any paint will eventually fade.” When your customer hears their exact criteria words, they automatically attach their intended meaning. So while it’s not important how you incorporate them into your presentation, it is important that you use their exact words.

Also notice that we didn’t promise the color would last forever. That would be unethical. But by including this customer’s criteria word, we’ve per-empted this potential objection by promising that the color will remain vibrant.

The beauty of using criteria words is that, no matter how the motivations may vary from customer to customer, you can always adapt easily and instantly to give them exactly what they NEED from you.

In future installments of this series, we’ll explore each of these steps in more detail, and perhaps double or even quadruple your sales.

(This article is part of a series published by Marketing Africa magazine.)

 

Guerrilla Selling: Attracting the Right Sales Staff

Help WantedIn any business, people are your most important asset.  A great location, great name, great merchandise, a great display and great promotion can all be undone by less-than-great people. Your staff is the most expensive item in your budget and the most important business investment you’ll make, so take time to choose them wisely.

The most universal complaint I hear from business owners is, “We just can’t find good people.”  Well, let me encourage you. They’re out there, and your mission is to track them down and then persuade them to join your team.

Guerrillas know that their team is the glue that holds their business together – from their sales associates to their cashiers, bookkeepers and delivery drivers. So you have to put the same effort into recruiting a stock clerk as you would when hiring a merchandising manager. Although the specific example we’ll illustrate here refers to sales guerrillas, these techniques will work to help you hire the cream of the crop for any position.

Because the best predictor of future sales behavior is current sales behavior, guerrillas are always on the hunt for good people. You’ll find them serving you in restaurants, shops, hotels, spas, museums and cafes. Whenever someone really impresses you with their sales or customer service skills, ask for their name and number. Let them know that, while you may not have an opening right now, you’re always looking for good people, and you’d like to have permission to call them if something opens up. This way, you’ll always have a backlog of qualified candidates.

This is also a good reason to regularly shop your competitors. We know it sounds a bit mercenary, but you would be appalled at how poorly some companies treat their best people! And when you hire away one of their best, you win twice – you gain a skilled employee at your competitor’s expense.

When screening sales applicants you need to give them an opportunity to showcase their sales skills before putting them in front of customers. By seeing how well they sell themselves to you, you can predict with remarkable accuracy how effective they will be at selling others.

Here’s a simple system that can streamline the screening and ensure that you are getting the best of the best.  Set up a voicemail box on a DDE (direct-dial extension that only goes to voice mail; ask your phone company).  Then run your classified ad outlining the basic qualifications for the job, but do not mention the name of your business. Instead, in the last sentence of the ad use the phrase, “To schedule an interview call (the DDE phone number).”

The outbound recording should say, “Because of the overwhelming response to or ad, we’ve had to automate our screening process.  At the tone, please leave your name, a number where you can be reached, and a brief summary of your qualifications.  If your background matches our requirements, we may invite you for an interview.” BEEEEP.  Let it run for a day or two to accumulate messages.

When playing the messages back, be prepared with a pad and pen.  You’ll want to take notes.  Start by really listening to the voice. Is it warm, friendly and intelligent? Is this the voice of someone who you would feel comfortable representing your firm? If not, delete it and move on.
Then listen to the message a second time, and check:

• Did the candidate follow directions?

• Did they in fact leave their name, an after-hours number (or better still, several)

• Did they leave a summary of their qualifications, and in that order?

This will predict how easy (or difficult) they will be to manage.  Did they just rattle off their resume, or did they couch their experience in terms of skills? “I’m very good with computers,” or “I’d do a great job because I love working with customers.”

And finally, did this candidate close with some sort of call to action, “asking for the order” (or in this case the interview).  If they pass all four of these tests, then call back and interview them initially by phone.  You don’t want their physical appearance to bias your choice prematurely.

This process will give you a better idea of each candidate’s strengths before you waste time brining in people who are not a good fit. Implementing some sort of system to streamline the screening will help weed out the lazy and unqualified. This strategy will help you build the best possible retail team that will only improve your team morale and your business as a whole.

Guerrilla Selling – How Performance-based Compensation Drives Sales Through the Roof

How to Manage and Motivate Your Sales Team

Any behavior which gets rewarded will tend to be repeated. So we advocate paying close attention to how employees are rewarded for performing (or not performing) the various aspects of their jobs.

Performance-based compensation is nothing new. Commission plans for salespeople are common because their productivity is so easy to measure. But small business tends to eschew these compensation plans thinking that “we’re just a mom & pop store. We’re different.” In the competitive environment you’re faced with today, you have no choice. You must use every management tool available to maximize your marketing firepower.

Guerrillas are not only intolerant of non-performers, they lavishly reward their stars, setting ever-higher standards for the whole organization. The problem is how to reward your people appropriately, particularly if they’re not directly responsible for easy-to-measure activities like sales revenue. Some simple guidelines can put this powerful management tool to work for you.

The foundation of an effective performance-based compensation plan is a set of clear and specific goals for your organization as a whole, for each functional department, and for each individual employee. These goals must be objective and quantifiable. For example, “Increase walk-in traffic by ten percent, or to 650 shoppers per month, by the end of the year” or “achieve an average rating of 4.5 of 5 on monthly customer satisfaction surveys.” Subjective factors, like attitude or good work habits might be included in review criteria, but if you can’t measure them statistically, you can’t use them as a standard for performance-based compensation. Then devise methods for gathering data to measure progress (or lack of it) toward these goals. What you measure is what you get, so inspect what you expect.

Salary
The advantage is that it’s easy to calculate: punch in, punch out, so much per hour. The disadvantage is that it doesn’t motivate.

Commission
Commissions can be computed on the gross sale price (good), or the gross profit margin (better). One important factor to consider when designing a compensation plan is that it must be simple. Paying commissions on straight gross sales is easy, and if you put the table below up on the wall in the break room, everyone can quickly estimate what they’re earning if they know the overall gross margin of the store.

Do not pay commission on any gross margins below 13%. If they’re selling at less than 13% margin, they’re giving away the stock and putting you out of business.

Generally, the lower the gross margin, the easier the product is to sell. So guerrillas recommend paying commissions based on gross margin, to reward your sales people for working harder to maintain higher profits, not just sales.

Commission Based on Gross Sales:

Overall Gross Margin % of Gross Sales
on Sales for the Month Paid as Commission

All above 27%…………………………………………… 2.8%
26.0 – 26.99……………………………………………… 2.6
25.0 – 25.99……………………………………………… 2.4
24.0 – 24.99……………………………………………… 2.2
23.0 – 23.99……………………………………………… 2.0
22.0 – 22.99……………………………………………… 1.9
21.0 – 21.99……………………………………………… 1.8
20.0 – 20.99……………………………………………… 1.7
19.0 – 19.99……………………………………………… 1.6
18.0 – 18.99……………………………………………… 1.5
17.0 – 17.99……………………………………………… 1.4
16.0 – 16.99……………………………………………… 1.3
15.0 – 15.99……………………………………………… 1.2
14.0 – 14.99……………………………………………… 1.1
13.0 – 13.99……………………………………………… 1.0
Less than 13.0%………………………………………… none

Basing commissions on gross margin rather than gross sales is harder to track, but it motivates salespeople to sell higher-priced and higher-profit items, accessories and extended service contracts, as well as to follow up with prospects and customers for referrals.

Commission based on gross profit discourages discounting. It can also produce competitive rivalries between salespeople, (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

Commission based on Gross Margin:

Overall Gross Margin % of Gross Profit
on Sales for the Month Paid as Commission

All above 27%…………………………………………… 15.5%
26.0 – 26.99……………………………………………… 15.0
25.0 – 25.99……………………………………………… 14.5
24.0 – 24.99……………………………………………… 14.0
23.0 – 23.99……………………………………………… 13.5
22.0 – 22.99……………………………………………… 13.0
21.0 – 21.99……………………………………………… 12.5
20.0 – 20.99……………………………………………… 12.0
19.0 – 19.99……………………………………………… 11.5
18.0 – 18.99……………………………………………… 11.0
17.0 – 17.99……………………………………………… 10.5
16.0 – 16.99……………………………………………… 10.0
Less than 16.0%…………………………………………… none

Of course, you have to adjust these percentages to your business and your market.

Bonus
Bonuses can be paid on a monthly sales quota, or on reaching a target profit margin. The whole sales team can qualify for a bonus for reaching a collective goal. Managers often receive a bonus for exceeding key performance targets. Some retailers offer year-end bonuses, but these are not really very motivating. Bonuses are more effective if they cover shorter cycles. People need to be able to envision their progress, either on a regular report, a reader board, or a United-Way-style thermometer.

Spiffs
An acronym for “sales promotional incentive funds,” spiffs are paid for specific sales events. Some spiffs are funded by manufacturers to move specific SKUs. Or they can be paid by the store for selling an unwanted, obsolete or damaged item.

Guerrillas never allow the manufacturer to pay spiffs directly to their salespeople because you want the credit for paying the reward. Also, you don’t want the manufacturers to control what products sell on your floor. You need to manage that mix based on your niche, your identity and your business model.

Sales Contests
It’s important to include all the support people, the back office, the warehouse, cashiers and delivery.

You can run a sales contest on any number of metrics. First Sale of the day, Biggest Ticket of the day, Most Line Items in an order, Most Orders written in a day, Order with Highest Gross Margin.

You can also run contests on product knowledge. Devise a simple test and give a certain sum for every question they get right.

The best sales contests combine performance with an element of chance. For example, every qualifying sale wins a ticket dropped into the hat, then a weekly drawing determines the winner of a cash prize, a merchandise prize, or the trip for two to Hawaii. The more you sell, the better your odds of winning.

An effective variation is every qualifying sale gets to draw a playing card from a deck. The best poker hand at the end of the contest wins all.

Wiltshire TV, in Thousand Oaks, California, has developed an unusual variant of Bingo. Welcome to Bay Area Bingo! Each month, each square on the bingo is assigned a different product. Instead of letters and numbers, their Bingo card is laid out with brands across the top and model numbers down the side. Sell a qualifying product and you mark that square on the card. Sell any five qualifying items in a row, and BINGO!

LOTS more Guerrilla Retailing strategies in our book, Guerrilla Retailing – How to Make Big Profits from your Retail Business. Order it today on Amazon.


Guerrilla Selling – Posing as a Journalist?

What About the Ethics?

In response to the last blog on Guerrilla Trade Show Selling, Holly Wilner, Founder at Trade-a-Date Singles Events, responded:

“Yes good stuff [on how to take advantage of a trade show opportunity] …although my boyfriend, a journalist for over 30 years got a little indignant about someone falsely posing as one, which may actually come back to bite the poser…but if he comes through with the article, then I guess hes met his obligation.”

The best description of a journalist that I’ve ever heard: “We observe. And take notes.”

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I never advocated “posing.” I assumed that my colleague, who is a fellow professional speaker, has the necessary command of language to write a great story (or at least the financial resources to have someone ghost it.) And I absolutely re-iterate, you must deliver the goods, or you won’t be asking the right questions or documenting the right answers. If you approach it with the wrong intent, it simply won’t work.

More powerful than any brochure you could send about your product, a tear sheet from the magazine featuring a quote from the CEO is the most powerful door opening weapon in the guerrilla arsenal.

If you have ANY qualms about the ethics of this approach, I recommend full-disclosure. “This is my first assignment. I’m brand new at this. In my day job I work for . . . ”

And by ALL means, ask your editor to coach you. Ask IN ADVANCE what they expect the word count to be, and if there is any special slant or angle on the story they’d like you to take. Editors always give me my best ideas for articles. Ask them to e-mail you their “editorial guidelines” which will serve as a cook-book for their book. Rustle up some past issues at the library or on line to get a feel for the form and format

This approach is based on the Guerrilla Selling principle of “Investment.” Give first. You are giving the magazine and its readers new information and insight; you are giving the companies you interview publicity for their products. You benefit by building relationships with potential customers. Everybody wins.

The expertise you gain in the process will very quickly make you an industry expert, as well as a legitimate journalist.


Guerrilla Trade Show Selling

Don’t Get Caught Suitcasing

Paul Wesseling, owner of Aktivia BV, www.co2-meter.com, asked this question of the Guerrilla Marketing Tips for Small Business discussion group on LinkedIn:

“Does anyone have out-of-the-box suggestions to present a product on a child nursery trade fair without being one of the official participants or stand holders? The product regards indoor air quality. Was thinking of joining a participant in their stand, but am trying to be more creative “

OK, let’s get REALLY guerrilla

Call around to the editors of several child- or family-oriented magazines, and introduce yourself as a free-lance writer. Ask if you can submit a “roundup” article, “on-spec” (which means that you don’t expect to get paid for it, and they only publish it if it’s good) reviewing this particular show. Any editor in his right mind will say, “Sure. Knock yourself out.”

As soon as you have a “yes,” from an editor, contact the show management to obtain a PRESS badge. Explain that you are “covering the trade show for ________ magazine.” There may be a nominal fee, but it will be far LESS than an exhibitor badge or booth space. Most trade shows actually WELCOME the press. As a bonus, a PRESS badge will usually get you into all the general sessions, seminars, receptions and parties as well.

The only sales collateral you’ll need are some simple, elegant business cards that list JUST your name, phone and e-mail. You won’t need a lot of them, but they should be of the very highest quality. The sort of card you’d expect to get from an attorney.

Then, arrive at the show dressed in your most professional business attire, carrying a small MP3 recorder and a black leather legal-pad folio. Look for exhibitors who could potentially be a good match to carry your product, then DON’T SELL IT TO THEM. In fact, don’t mention it at all. Not to anyone.

Instead, go out on the floor early and late when traffic is slow, and approach each targeted exhibitor. Ask if you can interview them for your article. People who wouldn’t give you the time of day as a salesperson will GLADLY give you an hour as a journalist. Make appointments with the top officers if possible, but stay out of their way when the show floor is busy. You don’t want to take them away from their true mission.

Start the interview with general questions, “Your name? Your title? How did you get into this business? Tell me about your product lines? What sort of customers do you sell to? What does your distribution channel look like. Which are your most successful products? What TRENDS do you see affecting your business in the future?” Your questions, of course, are going to indirectly QUALIFY or DIS-qualify them as a prospective customer for your product.

Now, NOBODY can accuse you of “suitcasing” (the less-than-polite term for reverse selling on a trade show floor that would get you thrown out on the street). But you WILL be able to identify several PRIME prospects. Your mission is to collect high-quality leads and build high-level relationships. You will get more information on ninja trader, which is consistently voted an industry leader by the trading community.

IMMEDIATELY after the show, send them a THANK YOU note. And within 48 hours of THAT, follow up with a sales call. “You know, based on what you told me during our conversation at the show, you may have an interest in my _________ product.”

Finally, write the article, summarizing trends that you saw at the show, and submit it for publication. You MUST follow through on this step to maintain your personal integrity. If the publication actually PRINTS your piece, that’s icing on the cake. Send a copy to every vendor you interviewed.

For many, many more no-cost ideas for effective selling at trade shows, read Guerrilla Trade Show Selling (he says, inserting a shameless plug for his book).


Guerrilla Customer Service – Are Your People Driving Customers Away?

How to Lose a Loyal Customer in 12 Seconds

This weekend I traveled with Denise to New Orleans to speak at the City & Regional Magazine Association conference. I was doing break-out sessions on Guerrilla Selling and Guerrilla Marketing with Social Media.

We were nearly next in line to check our bag when a burly ticket agent turned on the crowd and barked, “WHO’S BAG IS THIS?!”

“Mine,” I said, sheepishly raising my hand. I had scooted it under the queuing strap so as not have to carry it an extra 20 feet, and was standing less than 6 feet away.

“YOU HAVE TO ATTEND YOUR BAGGAGE AT ALL TIMES!” he shouted. I was like, SO busted.

“I AM attending it,” I pleaded. “I’m standing RIGHT HERE!” demonstrating that I could almost touch it.

He shouted like a marine drill sergeant, “YOU HAVE TO BE WITHIN ARM’S LENGTH OF YOUR BAG AT ALL TIMES!”

“OK, Ok, ok . . . “ I muttered as I slinked forward in line, cutting ahead of four other people to hover, humiliated, over my bag for the next 12 seconds.

Keep in mind that I have enough frequent flier miles on United Airlines to qualify for the next Space Shuttle. They have always been gracious, accommodating and helpful. That’s why they’ve been my favorite airline for two decades. And I concede that I was breaking the rule, but a little courtesy would have gone a long way. Anyway, I love this airline so much that I can over-look one rules-happy power-crazed ticket agent who’s having a bad day.

The topper came when we arrived in New Orleans. We were waiting by the baggage carousel when Denise realized she had left her purse on board. She dashed back to retrieve it, and was stopped at the concourse security desk (of course). A call was made and within minutes a friendly United representative returned with her purse. So far, they’re 1 and 1.

In the cab she discovered that her cash was gone. We called. We got transferred. We got a lecture about how, “We’re not responsible for lost items.” Of course, that wasn’t the point. We assumed SOMEONE would share our concern that one of their employees was stealing. Seems no one at United was even interested. So we shrugged it off and didn’t let it ruin our day. It was only a hundred bucks.

But it DID ruin a twenty-year relationship. United has just joined Northwest and Air France on my “Do not fly” list. How can you trust them with your life if you can’t trust them with a purse?

Guerrilla marketers spend years and years and millions of dollars building customer loyalty. Everyone in your organization can do everything exactly right in thousands of transactions spanning decades. Even so, a single moment of carelessness, impatience, or greed can destroy it all. And you know what? It didn’t surprise me that someone took the money. People are desperate. The disappointment was that we cared more about United Airlines’ security problem than they did.

Never make your customers feel wrong or stupid, even when they are. Good manners are simply good business. Make certain that your commitment to your customers is demonstrated at EVERY touchpoint, EVERY time, and that EVEY customer experience is CONSISTENT across the board. And when there is a problem, give it your undivided attention, whether you mean to fix it or not.

–Orvel Ray


Can’t Afford Guerrilla Training? – Think Again!

Training Doesn’t Cost – It Pays

We have this argument with our clients all the time:

“Oh, we can’t afford to spend money on training.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, what if we train them and they leave?”

“What if you DON’T train them and they STAY?”

Savvy Guerrillas know that marketing is an investment, not an expense. Skills training, and particularly sales training, is one of the most conservative guerrilla marketing investments you can make.

At a “Guerrilla Selling” seminar I was conducting recently, we were discussing creative ways to get through to reluctant prospects, especially C-level executives. One of the participants got up and walked out. He returned a few minutes later to announce, “I didn’t think it would work, so I stepped out in the hall to prove you wrong. Not only did I get through; I got the order!”

Later I learned that the profit from that single transaction was more than enough to cover my fee for the day. We can only guess that the return on investment for this client was hundreds of times their investment in guerilla training.

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