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Deep Evaluation Guarantees Results

One of your most powerful guerrilla marketing weapons

As an expert entrepreneur, you’re offering keynotes, lectures, seminars, workshops, webinars, coaching or online training as part of your practice. (If not, you should.)

And if you’re like me (and I know I am) you probably have delegates fill out some sort of evaluation form (and if not, you should). You might even compile them into a spreadsheet and run the averages, and maybe even graph how they trend over time.

You’re still missing one of the most powerful guerrilla marketing weapons available.

What is Deep Evaluation?

Guerrillas evaluate their work on 5 levels, and follow through to verify that their clients are receiving real value. It’s the secret of repeat and referral business, and the key to effective marketing.

Level 1 – Did they LIKE it?

These are the “smile sheets” you see at the end of most seminars. Typically delegates rate the trainer, the content, the venue, even the food, on a 1 to 5 scale, something like,

I thought the trainer (pick one)

  1. Really pissed me off
  2. Is a complete idiot
  3. Was OK I guess
  4. Was RILLY terrific
  5. I hope he marries my sister

News flash! This data is meaningless.

I know a professional speaker who’s been using the same feedback form, printed on 3×5 cards, for more than 20 years. He’s compiled statistics from more than 1,000 presentations, and rightfully claims a “4.8 out of 5” average rating.   Of course, naive meeting planners might find this number compelling. But if you dress nice and tell a few funny stories, you can make any audience LIKE you, at least for 45 minutes.

Besides, it doesn’t matter if they LIKE you. If you’re challenging their assumptions, pushing their buttons and making them deal with their shit, they may just hate your guts. That’s why the client brought in an outsider.

During a customer service audit for a Las Vegas casino, the VP of Sales walked out in a rage and resigned. The CEO (my client) had been trying to get rid of this guy for months, but couldn’t push it through HR.  HE was thrilled.

Level 2 – Did they REMEMBER it?

My dear friend Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE, says, “Dharling, there’s no use going anywhere they didn’t remember you were there.”

Savvy trainers TEST their audience for comprehension and recall, with multiple quizzes right after, or even during the program. Online Learning Management software typically administers a quiz after every 15-minute module, and you can’t advance ’til you pass. In most live events, the speaker seldom bothers. A forced show-of-hands, asking, “As a child, how many of you had parents?” doesn’t count. (BTW, this question will typically produce a 75% response. Yes, I have tested it. )

People tend to remember the first point you make, the last thing they hear, and the most unusual story or example. Typically an audience will forget 40% of your content within 20 minutes, 55% after one hour, 62% after 9 hours, 70% after two days, and 73% after six days. After 30 days you’re lucky if they retain 15%. So make your content memorable with stories, examples, images, iconographics, mnemonics, and emotional stories.

Testing for retention has another advantage; it can be an effective review.   Email a quiz, or better still, use an online tool like Survey Monkey to insure that they REMEMBER the main points.

Level 3 – Did they USE it?

It’s wonderful when they LIKE you; even better when they REMEMBER your content. But it’s of no real value until they USE it. Your impact is measured by your ability to change behavior, and if nobody bothers to apply the “3 Traits of Top Leaders” then your keynote was just expensive entertainment. For the same fee they could have gotten Garth Brooks.

Contact your client within a week, or 30 days at the latest, and ask, “How did you apply the “6 Strategies of Effective Customer Service.” Did they actually change the outbound recording on their voice mail, as you recommended? Have they re-written the brochure to highlight benefits instead of features? Did they stop answering the phone, “Hello, what the hell do you want?” Build your program around specific, actionable items that they must complete, tied to a deadline.

Bundling a few weeks of Accountability Coaching into the package is a sure-fire way to guarantee that they will make the changes. A weekly phone call, or even a guilt-trip email, is usually enough to nudge them along. Otherwise, like nuns, they slip back into the same old habits.

Level 4 – Did it WORK?

OK, they really LIKED your engaging and entertaining program. You’ve helped them REMEMBER the content with quizzes and tests. And you’ve kept in touch to make sure they USE the new skills. But did it WORK? Just because you’ve given them what you believe is sound advice, it might not work at all. It might have been inappropriate for their industry. Structural obstacles, corporate culture, or even a rogue CEO can sabotage your solutions.

No matter who’s at fault, if it didn’t WORK, you need to know, and you need to know why. You may be peddling obsolete or ineffective advice.  Clients revere you as an expert, so you have a fiduciary obligation to make absolutely certain your council is sound.

Level 5 – What was it WORTH?

If they LIKE it and REMEMBER it and USE it and it WORKS, that’s just swell. You’ve lived up to your reputation as a guru. You can cash the check with a clear conscience. But you’re missing a tremendous opportunity. How much value did your training, coaching or consultation produce? Did they save a bundle by re-negotiating the supply chain? Did they see an increase in sales, or a big bump up in customer satisfaction? How much was that WORTH? Find out. If you’ve been following up, keeping them accountable and tracking results, this should be an easy calculation.

My friend Heather Lutze is an international speaker and expert on “Findability,” how to get your website found by customers who are ready to buy. She recently attended a 5-day seminar taught by Callan Rush on “Magnetize your Audience.” When she told me the registration fee was $10,000, I thought she was throwing her money away.

At the beginning of Callan’s seminar, she gave everyone $25 in singles. Then they had two minutes to pitch an offering to their group that they could buy using only these bills. Over the course of the five days, every participant was required to develop an offering, analyze the benefits, and write a script. They were organized into teams with a coach to refine it, then presented it to the rest of the attendees. Whoever sold the most was declared the winner. They repeated variations of this exercise several times. The finalists were given a half-hour to pitch a real offer using real order forms. Not only did Heather win the competition, but by the end of the workshop she had enrolled six people in her new Findability Profits Lab at $1,997 each, earning $11,982. She had earned a 120% return on her investment before she left for the airport. Callan Rush can sleep well knowing that her techniques are effective, and she’s genuinely helping other professionals grow their business.

$3.6 Million

Recently I got a call from Bob Purvis, CEO of Purvis Industries, a bearing services company based in Houston. They had invited me to conduct a half-day seminar on “How to Sell More at Higher Prices” for 200 Service Center Managers. We brought in a video crew and sent the edited DVD to all 600 employees.

Bob called to say, “We’ve just had our first $10 million dollar month since 2007, and we’ve increased our gross margin by 3%.” That may not sound like much, but 3% of $10 million over 12 months equals $3.6 million in new NET PROFIT. It was the difference that kept them out of bankruptcy, and saved more than 1,000 jobs.

Once you find out what it was WORTH, now you have a real-life success story to share. And when you can deliver value like that, they’ll never flinch at your fee.

Internet Radio – Your 15 Minutes of Fame

How to Get the Most from Your Internet Radio Interview

internet radioInternet Radio is a favorite Guerrilla Marketing weapon. Radio is the most intimate of all media. It reaches a wide audience. It can be deployed over and over. And it’s free.

This week, Hannah Leigh Myers, a Freelance Reporter and News Producer with KGNU radio, interviewed my wife, Denise Wilson (who is a professional botanist, and an expert on orchids) about Wild Orchids in Colorado. You can listen to the five-minute segment here.

Denise learned several important lessons in the process.

Hannah surprised us by arriving at our home with a hot microphone in hand, so be prepared. “Script out what you want to say in advance,” Denise recommends. “Make sure you cover your most important points, because the focus you have in mind might be very different from the agenda of the show’s Host.”

Of the more than two hours they spent together, the show was cut to five minutes. “Cover your points as succinctly as you can,” she suggests.   “Five minutes goes by very, very fast.”

Curb your Ego

When you get that call, it’s tempting to say YES!! But before you agree, visit their website, see who else has been on the show, and listen to some segments. This will give you a sense of the tone, content and audience.

I was recently asked to do a show for “event planners,” in the UK. Checking their website revealed that this program was for wedding planners. You know, I’ve never keynoted a wedding.  My target audience is Corporate Meeting Planners.

Take the Initiative

The easiest way to get invited to be a radio show guest is to e-mail a brief pitch letter to the Producer (not the Host). Your pitch shows them why you’d make a great guest. Like your Elevator Pitch (which we wrote about in the July edition) the pitch should be short and direct. Summarize what you want to share: information, tips, advice, or insights. Then highlight your credentials to talk on this topic. Your pitch should reflect your understanding of the show’s format and audience.

When possible, tie your pitch to a current event, trend or controversy. For example, if you’re an attorney specializing in bankruptcy, and there is a change in the bankruptcy laws, then you would be a great guest to talk about the ins-and-outs of the new law.

Never pitch your company directly. These people are not interested in giving you free advertising. Instead, make your pitch about a problem or issue that connects their audience to your area of expertise.

Include an attention-grabbing subject line to insure your pitch will get read.

Choose the Right Shows

Once you’ve developed a compelling pitch, put together a list of the shows you believe to be good match. Google “radio talk shows in (name of city)”. This will bring up several pages of listings, with links to the stations and their contact information.

Each station’s web site should provide the name of the show, the kind of guests that appear, and the name of the show’s Producer. If these details aren’t included, call the station and ask.

Some shows limit their interviews to specific topics, like personal finance, investing, current events, personal growth and development, or small business, while others cover a wide range of subjects. “Colorado Matters” is a prime example. This local NPR affiliate airs a weekly 30-minute show focusing on government, education, environment, health, business, economics, science, technology, arts and culture.   Suggesting a story is as simple as going to their website.

Follow a similar process to develop a list of shows that air on satellite and Internet radio. Start with Sirius XM and look at their lineup. Then Google “Internet radio stations” for more options. Blogtalk Radio is an example of an Internet radio station.

My long-time friend Joe Sabah teaches a course on How to Get on Radio Talk Shows All Across America Without Leaving Your Home or Office. He has compiled a list of more than 800 AM radio talk shows, listing the Producer, the Host, schedule and contact information. Every day, every one of these stations has 24 hours to fill, and they want to hear from YOU! At $147 it’s a steal.

Once you’ve targeted a particular show, fine-tune your pitch to include the title and slant. Include links to audio or video of other interviews you’ve done. Don’t add attachments.

Follow Up

Producers are always busy trying to make their next deadline, so make their job easy.   Follow up your email a couple of days later with a phone message, and remind them of your interest. Persist.

Once they’ve agreed to have you on, send the Host a List of Suggested Questions. This is how you make sure they will cover the points that are most important to you. Most Hosts are grateful for the support. It gives the show a roadmap to follow.

Give Them an Introduction

Unless your host is Terri Gross, you can be certain they won’t read your book, or your website, or even your introduction. So ALWAYS send a written introduction, and make it clear that you expect them to READ it. I recently found myself lost for words when an interviewer opened her show with, “Orvel Ray, why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself.” That’s just rude. You can’t babble about your accomplishments without sounding arrogant. I excused myself and ended the conversation right there. Your introduction lays the foundation for the interview.

Your introduction should:

1)   describe a problem shared by members of the audience,

2)   outline the guest’s qualifications to speak to that problem, and

3)   make a big promise, tell the audience what they will learn or gain from listening.

And the first time the audience hears your name should be at the very END of the introduction.

On the Air

Record your interview in a studio if possible. Travel to their local affiliate, or have them visit your home or office. These days most guest interviews are done over the phone. Your old-fashioned land line works best. Avoid SKYPE or other VOIP connections because they will drop out and cause technical flaws. For the same reason, never use a mobile phone or a wireless headset.

Stand up. It gives your voice more energy and excitement.

Keep your answers succinct. You should have a clear idea what you want to say in response to the questions you’ve supplied. Use short stories and examples to maintain the interest of your audience. Remember why you’re there. You’re the entertainment.

Include a Call to Action

Ask your host to insert, just before the station break, the comment, “Get a pen and paper ready, because after the break I’m going to be sharing how you can get (your new e-book, service, or offer).” That way, listeners are poised to write down your toll-free number or email address.
internet radio
Watch the clock carefully, and make sure you leave enough time to cover your planned questions, repeat your call-to-action, and wrap the show.

Now Push it on Social Media

Find out when the segment will air, or better still, get a hyperlink to the playback, and share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest. Feature it in your website. This positions you as THE go-to expert on your subject.

Do it right and your phone will be ringing off the hook!

Guerrilla Marketing When YOU are the Product

I answered the phone, “Good morning, this is Orvel Ray.”

There was a short silence. Then a woman’s voice, “I’m surprised you answered! It took me back for a moment.”

“Well, if you ever call here, and another man answers, please let me know.”

She chuckled, and then offered, “This is Linda from Washington Speakers Bureau. I’m trying to reach the office of The Guerrilla Marketing Group.”

“You got it. And it’s just me and Denise. Several years ago we built an addition on our house, closed our downtown office, and fired everyone. Now we both work from home, here in the mountains of Colorado.”

“Oh, that must be beautiful!”

“It is. You can come and stay. Now that the boys are grown we have a spare room, and at this altitude, we don’t get much company.”

“I was just shocked that you answered your own phone?”

“Well, who else’s phone would you have me answer?”

Your Identity as a Guerrilla Marketing Weapon

Many experts, consultants, and professionals worry WAY too much about their “professional” image. They think they need an expensive office and a perky receptionist or they won’t be taken seriously. It took years for me to realize that being able to run my business while avoiding the commute, the expense and the hassle of managing a staff, is also a huge credibility builder. It’s a lifestyle most envy.

Image vs. Identity

Guerrilla marketing professionals know that it’s more important for clients know you by your identity, who you really are, rather than to trying to project an image. An image, by definition, is a reflection, a facsimile, a fake. When YOU are the product, your clients want to know who you REALLY are; your quirks, your family, your faults, your hobbies and interests. And they want to know where you live, so if they’re ever dissatisfied they can come punch you in the nose.

Certainly you should dress up on client visits or conferences. But clients prefer a personal relationship, especially with their Trusted Advisers. The more they get to know the “real you” the more they trust your expertise and rely on your advice.

Put your picture on everything

Many years ago, we recommended to a small real estate brokerage that they should require all their agents to include their photo on their business cards. For some of you, this might not be such a good idea, but stick with me here. Today, they’re one of the largest real estate companies in the country. I can’t mention their name, but I believe they sell Moore real estate than any other Company I know.

Guerrilla MarketingThat’s because your brain has a  dedicated area for remembering faces (the Fusiform Face Area, part of the occipitotemporal gyrus). But the part that remembers names (the left hemispheric lingual gyrus) is built for processing language, so it has trouble recalling names.

That’s why, when you go to a networking event, everyone is wearing a NAME TAG. Scientists say it’s because we evolved from troops of social primates. Before the evolution of language, our ancestors relied on faces to discriminate between tribe (good) and outsiders (bad!). So put your picture on your business cards, your stationary, on all of your marketing materials, and most important, on your social media profiles. The more often they see your face, the more familiar (as in family) you become.

And while I’m on this particular soapbox, use a professional headshot. Done in a studio. There’s a reason they call it FACEbook. A picture’s worth 1,000 words, so let’s be very careful what your picture says about you. Business attire, neutral background, cropped close; not some selfie you shot slamming shots with your sister (yes, I have seen it).

Especially on LinkedIn. I will connect with anyone on LinkedIn, UNLESS they put up a picture of their cat; or worse, that scary grey silhouette.

Meet for coffee over SKYPE

If you work with clients remotely, SKYPE is a great way to create a powerful personal connection. And it’s free (Guerrilla Marketing’s favorite word). They see your face, your desk, the junk on your bookshelf. You can share documents, presentations, or your three-year-old daughter singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” (Yes, I actually have seen it). It really is the next best thing to being there. And for gawd’s sake look at that thumbnail. How are you framed? How is the light? Makes me crazy when a client SKYPEs me while sitting in front of the windows, curtains drawn wide, and all I see is a skyline and a scary silhouette.

While you’re at it, invest in a high-quality webcam. I use the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam (about $250 bucks. Google it). Not because I’m a tech geek, but because a client in Saudi Arabia gave it to me as a gift. You see, when they put our conversation up on the 40-inch plasma in the boardroom, the camera in my MacBook Pro made my face look like a pizza.

Another tip learned the hard way: remember to look directly into the camera. I made the mistake of looking down at my PowerPoint and the client felt like I was staring at her, uhmmm, let’s just say, “jewelry.”

Tell the truth

This big white envelope arrived in the mail. Big red letters on the outside said, “THIS IS NOT A BILL.” Inside, the letter explained, “That was the envelope. THIS is the bill.” So I paid it.

People appreciate when you tell the truth, especially about the little things. I’ve had clients call from Australia at 3:00 AM and ask, “Did I wake you?”

“Well, no. Not yet.”

And yes, I’m writing this in my underwear.

Separate the personal from the professional

Social media is the exception that proves the rule. A teacher who worked at a small Christian college in Texas was traveling in London, standing as a bridesmaid for a friend. The bride posted an iCam shot of the girls sitting around a booth (at the bachelorette party, I presume) with a glass of wine in the foreground. When she returned to Texas, the teacher was fired for “Inappropriate Public Conduct,” a violation of her contract. No she wasn’t DRINKING the wine, or even HOLDING the wine. It wasn’t even her wine. Fortunately Facebook now gives you the option to delete content posted by others that you might not want others to see.

Burj Al Arab Hotel

Gratuitous Burj Al Arab Hotel

The things you DO post should pass the test of professional relevance. If you’re leading an executive seminar in Dubai, then by all means, comment and Facebook and Tweet about it, including gratuitous pictures of the Burj Al Arab Hotel.  Knowing you’re a globetrotter gives you credibility along with frequent-flyer miles.

Better still, put your client in front of a video camera telling us how great the seminar was, and upload it to YouTube. Save the vacation slides for torturing your neighbors when you get home.

You may not know this, but in addition to my speaking and consulting practice, I lead a Batman-like double life, as a drummer in a professional 20-piece swing-era big band. Being a jazz musician doesn’t exactly enhance my credibility as a marketing guru. That’s why I keep them separate. They have their own social media pages and their own YouTube channel, and all my musician friends have to call me “Sticks”… but that’s another story.

Your Elevator Pitch Gets Them on the Train

Do you struggle to find new clients? The problem may be your Elevator Pitch.

Ask, “What sort of work do you do?” and most people will respond with one word.

“Accountant.”  “Engineer.”  “Consultant.”

The Secret is to Get Them on the Train

Just this afternoon, our local NPR station was running a fundraiser. Your contribution earns a chance to win an Australian vacation.  The announcers droned on and on about how this was “a trip of a lifetime,” and “worth $8,000,” and “you’ll see penguins and kolas,” while repeating the phone number incessantly. Yawn.

But then they played a segment from the travel agent as he described the train ride to Adelaide.elevator pitch “Leaving Melbourne at 8:00, you’ll be in the Premier Red seats, so you’ll have a really comfy seat, and great big picture windows that gaze out at the countryside. You’ll pass through Eucalyptus forests, rolling green farmland, and expansive desert plains. You’ll arrive in Adelaide around 6:00.” In great detail, he described the route of this amazing adventure. Instead of dreading a 10 hour trip, I could almost see the kangaroos bouncing across the far horizon as I drove. And the studio phones started ringing.

The lesson for guerrilla marketers is that it’s not enough to parrot your profession. It’s not even enough to promise a benefit.   You have to show them where they’re going, and what they’ve left behind.

Imagine, standing on the platform, and this train is about to embark on a wonderful journey. You shout, “Hey, there’s lots of open seats. It’ll be great! All you have to do is step aboard.   We’ll have you home by supper!”

The train, of course, is you and the wonderful work you do with your clients. Their computers are humming, they have a new resume headshot, or they’ve settled a tax problem. You help clients get from “here” (they have a problem to solve) to “there” (you’ve helped them solve it.) Now take them on that journey. Let them experience what it’s like to work with you.

Blow the Guerrilla Marketing Whistle

One of the most awesome weapons in your Guerrilla Marketing Arsenal is your Elevator Pitch. That’s the script you use when someone asks, “So, what do you do?” If you had only 20 or 30 seconds to engage them, what would you say to get their attention, not counting, “Sorry, but I believe your pants are on fire”?

Your Guerrilla Elevator Pitch consists of three parts: 1) what you do, 2) who you do it for, and 3) two ways they benefit.

“At the Guerrilla Group, we help small business use low-cost marketing to increase sales and build profits.”

That’s like blowing the whistle on the train. You’ve gotten their attention, or not.

If not, that’s a good thing, because this trip is not for everyone. People will either say, “That’s nice!” (translation: I could care less now buzz-off) or, “Hummm. . . that’s interesting,” (tell me more).

Instead of, “I’m a tax accountant,” how about, “I help honest small-business owners take every legal deduction, and save them thousands of dollars in taxes.”

Instead of “environmental engineering,” try, “We help small cities recover quickly after severe storms or floods, and help minimize damage in the future.”

Instead of “SEO consultant,” what if you said, “I help companies get found on the Internet, and attract their best prospects, right when they’re most motivated to buy.”

You get the idea.  Notice the structure. What. Who. And two benefits.

How long? Like a mini-skirt; short enough to be interesting and just long enough to cover the essentials.

“But what if I have more than one area of expertise?” Maybe you’re like my good friend Debi. She’s a very fine jazz pianist, but she also teaches piano, tutors elementary math and English, and teaches Japanese to professionals.

That’s simple. You need a value proposition for each offering, and each audience. So Debi might say, “I help elementary grade children to excel at math.” OR she might say, “I teach executives who travel abroad essential Japanese; at least enough to really impress their clients.”

It depends on who’s in the elevator. Smart guerrilla marketers will write several, edit them to the nub, and memorize them verbatim.

Why two benefits?

That’s because some people are motivated toward some positive outcome, or away from some problem or pain. People who are toward-motivated buy lottery tickets. People who are away-from buy flight insurance. So your value proposition is going to be most effective if it includes one of each. Where is the train going to go, and what are we leaving behind.

Use Powerful Language in your Elevator Pitch

There are many variations on this list. One myth is that Yale University researchers some how discovered the 12 most persuasive words in English. The truth is even more interesting. On August 14, 1961, an add appeared in the New York Times, with the headline, “The New Sell.”

“Most persuasive selling words, according to recent researches: You, Easy, Money, Save, Love, New, Discovery, Results, Proven, Health, Guarantee.” — Marketing Magazine

The research may be a myth, but the words are indeed persuasive. In 1963, David Ogilvy, in his seminal book, Confessions of an Advertising Man, published his own list of the 20 most persuasive words in advertising:

  1. suddenly
  2. now
  3. announcing
  4. introducing
  5. improvement
  6. amazing
  7. sensational
  8. remarkable
  9. revolutionary
  10. startling
  11. miracle
  12. magic
  13. offer
  14. quick
  15. easy
  16. wanted
  17. challenge
  18. compare
  19. bargain
  20. hurry

Ogilvy became the most famous copywriter in the world, and built the tenth biggest agency in the world. So hurry, and get on the train. These words work like magic. You’ll see amazing improvement. The results are remarkable.

Now you can tell a story

You’re ready to deploy your Capabilities Statement, (which we discussed in the May issue).   This is where you describe the journey, step-by-step. That gets them gazing out the window.

A consultant might say, “I’ve been working with an electrical testing company in the UK. We meet every week over SKYPE to discuss whatever challenges the owner happens to be facing that week. This client — I’ll call him James, because, that’s his name — wanted to grow the business by advertising for new customers. I advised that we begin by recording and analyzing the inbound telephone calls they were already receiving. A team of three salespeople were taking 20 to 30 inquires a day, but only closing 50%.

“I listened to the recordings and found two important flaws. They weren’t building rapport and they weren’t closing. The owner changed the script, and a month later, they’re closing 75%. Now, tell me about your business?”

See, NOW they’re on the train, ready to join you on a journey of their own. –Orvel Ray Wilson

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.

25 Essential Items for a Professional Speaker’s Carry-On Bag

After 30 years as a Professional Speaker, I presented a two-day Guerrilla Selling seminar recently in Nairobi, Kenya, where I was reminded of the importance of being self-sufficient on the road.

Africa is like a whole other country, and it’s hard to find stuff.  The same could be said of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Every Professional speaker should take responsibility for their own comfort and equipment, and always be prepared for the inevitable catastrophe.

The Professional Speaker’s Gig bag should contain:

  1. Your laptop computer
  2. A dedicated power supply that stays in your bag.  (I recommend the universal Targus AC70U.)  Leave the factory one at your desk.   That way you’ll never make the mistake of forgetting to pack it. And you won’t be too disappointed when you leave the universal one behind at a venue.  You can get another at most any office supply box store.
  3. Your own PowerPoint controller (I highly recommend the Logitech Professional Presenter R800, which includes a green laser and a cool timer that vibrates to tell you when to shut up. )
  4. A small portable mouse (a cheap one works fine; you won’t be using it that much.)
  5. Copy of your install disk for Microsoft Office for when you’re sitting in a Kinko’s at 2:00 AM and need that obscure printer driver.
  6. A 4 gig flash drive for backing up your presentation, and another for using sneakernet to transport it to another platform. Better still, carry a second backup  in your pocket or purse. It will save your show when your laptop dies or is stolen out of the meeting room while you pee.
  7. Portable travel alarm clock with a display that you can read from across the stage.  (I also recommend the free iPhone app NightTime for its  big red-number display.)
  8. Portable digital thermometer, to settle the argument between the hotel engineer and the whining guest who insists it’s too cold.
  9. Fully loaded iPod, with royalty-free music that you can play during walk-in and breaks in your program, plus news podcasts, a movie and a favorite TV show or two.
  10. iPod/iPhone USB connector cord and AC adapter/charger
  11. A spare pair of Apple earbuds so you can listen on the plane
  12. A stereo 1/8″ (mini) phone to 2 mono 1/4″ phone send return (insert) cable so you can plug the iPod directly into the sound system (ask the guy at Radio Shack).
  13. Noise canceling headphones (I highly recommend the Bose Quiet Comfort 15’s.  They sound much better, and are a great comfort when strapped in next to the inconsolable crying baby.)
  14. Three or four spare AAA batteries to power your remote and headphones.
  15. Package of 2 spare Duracell 12V batteries for the wireless mics, even when the hotel supplies them. When they go dead, it’s always in the middle of your show.
  16. Package of Halls Honey Lemon Cough Drops (the Cherry ones make your tongue look weird)
  17. Pack of chewable Pepto Bismo tablets
  18. Package of Imodium AD (for when Pepto Bismo doesn’t help)
  19. Melatonin tablets. The absolute best herbal remedy for jet lag. Take two an hour or two before  sleepytime.
  20. Blindfold (for airplane sleepytime. Also handy for terminating unwanted conversations with annoying seatmates. You can buy them in most airport shops, but they hand these out in first class, so ask the cabin crew for one on your next long haul.
  21. Copy of your room setup instructions. The hotel will have lost the one you sent ahead. Trust me on this.
  22. Copy of your standard introduction, printed in 24 point type. Your introducer will have forgotten the one you sent ahead. Trust me on this too.
  23. Color copy of your passport (and applicable visas)
  24. Color copy of your drivers license (enlarged 2x)
  25. A crisp $100 bill (series 2000 or later; some overseas hotels won’t accept the older ones). Hide it in a pocket or fold of your computer bag. This can bail you out of a lot of trouble almost anywhere in the world.

All this, and more, fits neatly in my IBM Thinkpad’s little backback. Not only has it saved my skin, but it’s rescued more than my share of other speakers as well.

How to Select a Professional Speaker for Your Next Conference, Convention or Sales Meeting

Selecting the right presenters can make or break your event.

The good ones see themselves as part of the larger team, and will share their wealth of experience to insure your overall success. The bad ones see themselves as the star-of-the-show, with little consideration for the needs of other (often non-professional) speakers on the program. Use these 10 guidelines to screen the mountain of material that your speakers or their bureaus will send you.

Content

A professional speaker should engage, educate, motivate, and entertain, and in that order of priority. Unless this event changes your peoples’ behavior in some measurable way, you’re wasting their time and your money. New skills, new information, and new insights produce new customers, new sales, and increased profits.

Authority

Wouldn’t you rather take advice from a published expert, who has invested the time and effort to thoroughly research their field and write a book, or two, or three? Ask for autographed copies. And beware of vanity press imprints. If a major New York house published their books, you know they’re the real deal.

Originality

Beginners often pirate others’ examples and content, sometimes even telling a story as if it had actually happened to them. I recently heard a meeting planner complain, “If I hear one more cliché out of this guy I will scream.” If you’ve heard it before, so have your people.

Delivery

Are you looking for an academic expert (who may put your people to sleep) or a stand-up comic (whose act could play a nightclub)? Don’t settle. Look for a pro who can engage AND entertain, delivering powerful content with passion and pizzazz. After all, you want your people to remember the point, not just the punch line.

Customization

If a speaker is going to presume to tell you how to run your business better, they better understand your business. Select a speaker who will take a personal interest in your industry, your company, and your people. Will they visit your office, review your collateral material, shop your competition, or spend a day riding with your salespeople? Will they fly in early to attend the whole conference? An outsider’s insight may prove priceless. A real pro is a quick study, and will customize until they sound like they’re from home office.

Certification

There are two conferred by the National Speakers Association: the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and the Council of Peers Award of Excellence (CPAE). The CPAE is an honorary designation, a lifetime achievement award, while the CSP requires a minimum of 250 presentations over a five-year period, for at least 100 different clients, at a substantial minimum fee, and must be renewed every five years. The CSP is your assurance of the highest standards of professionalism and excellence. An elite group of veterans hold both.

Technical Mastery

The days when a speaker could stand behind a podium and just read from notes are long gone. Top pros supercharge their speeches with multiple multi-media: computer animation, upbeat music, sound effects and video. And they bring their own computers, projectors and microphones. (BTW, this can save you a bundle!) After all, when take your car to a mechanic, don’t you expect them to use their own tools?

Access

Does a live person answer the phone when you call? Successful speakers travel constantly, but are always accessible through their staff. They use cell phones, voice-mail and e-mail to keep in touch. The real pros check both at least twice a day, and respond promptly, personally.

Video

They did include a video didn’t they? The pros all have at least one; or two, or more. Ask for the what-you-see-is-what-you-get version, shot live, unedited (except perhaps for opening trailers). And while the WYSIWYG take may be technically flawed, anyone can look good in front of a studio full of friends.

Audition

Are they coming to your area? The pros get around, and will gladly arrange for you to sit in. If that’s not an option, interview them by phone. Think of it as a live one-on-one audition. Ask them to advise you on a particular challenge or business issue, then ask yourself, “Does this sound like the kind of advice we want our people to hear?”

References

You should never have to ask for them. A professional will automatically include them in the press kit, along with a client list and multiple testimonials. Read the letters. Look at the dates; are they current? Check references on their LinkedIn profile as well. Then call at least two.

Deliverables

What will your people take away to help them recall and implement what they’ve heard? Can your speaker provide a textbook, a workbook, a cassette or two, an action list, a checklist, a laminated wallet card, or a free web e-zine. Some of these “extras” should be included in the fee. Can they post their handouts and PowerPoint slides on a web site for download? Ask. These minor extras add major impact and multiply the take-home value of the message.

Fees

Worry less on what the speaker will charge; worry more on what your people will get. Does the fee include pre-event consultation, research, customization, travel time, travel expenses, handouts, workbooks, AV equipment, pens, markers or other supplies? A bad program is no bargain. If you’re investing half a million dollars to host a conference, you can’t afford a dud.

On the other hand, most pros will leverage their preparation by doing multiple programs. Stretch your speaker budget by asking for combined fees for a keynote, plus multiple breakout sessions, VIP receptions, panel discussions, etc.