Tag Archives: strategic marketing

Guerrilla Marketing Tips for Getting More Clients

Build a Never-Ending Stream of New Client Referrals

Expertpreneurs are constantly working on getting more clients.  Correctly targeting new clients is a lot like bowling.

getting new clientsIf you’ve ever been bowling, then you know that there are 10 pins on the deck, and the one in front is called the “Headpin.” In order to score a strike, you aim for the space just to the right (or left) of the headpin. Bowlers call this the “Pocket.” If you do this correctly, you knock down all the pins at once. Then you enjoy the mathematical advantage of counting the next two frames twice. That’s how it’s possible to score 300 points in just 10 frames.

1. Identify your Headpin Customer

The same is true of your marketing. Once you identify your Headpin Customer, the people most likely to need your expertise or services, then you can target them (and those closest to them) with extreme precision. You also unleash the power of word-of-mouth, as they recommend you to their neighbors, friends and co-workers.

Who are your favorite clients right now? Wouldn’t it be great if you had a lot more, just like them? Who are they? What do they look like? What do they do? How do they do it? What problems do they experience? How could your expertise or service help? Where would you find them? When do they need your product? Find out as much as you can: their age, gender, income, education, hobbies, and community involvement. What problems are they trying to solve? What’s their potential motivation for becoming a client?

With this information, the guerrilla can zero in on those people who have a real and urgent need.

Look for the “Trigger Event”

In the life of every customer, something happens that sets them on the path to purchase:

  • You have a flat and soon you’re shopping for new tires.
  • Take a new job, you might soon be looking for a new house.
  • I booked a series of seminars in Hawaii, so Denise and I signed up for scuba lessons.

Trigger Events happen to all sorts of people, all of the time. The important question to ask is, “what trigger events motivate people to seek out my services.”

Getting New Clients for Guitar Lessons

My friend Rob Candler has taught guitar in Boulder for many years. He’s noticed that most of his students started lessons just after buying their first guitar. So instead of advertising under “Guitar Lessons” or “Music Lessons,” (along with all his competitors) he runs his ad in the “Musical Instruments for Sale – Guitars” section of the classifieds.

For an accountant, Trigger Events might include a prospect starting a new business, opening a storefront, passing $1 million in revenue, or moving to a new location.

2. Do some reconnaissance

Once you have your prospect profiled, you can seek them out on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, searching by industry, job title and geography. Look for them in Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

You can also use Internet tools like LinkedIn to search for people who fit your ideal profile, by name, company, industry, school, job title, geography, or any of dozens of other criteria. Now you’re ready to launch your attack with surgical precision.

3. Use an unusual, creative or unexpected approach.

Linda took a new job as a sales rep for a national temporary help agency in Houston. She decided to target oil refineries because they use a lot of temps, there are a lot of them in Houston, and because they are difficult to call on, surrounded by high fences and barbed wire.

It was the week before Easter, so she goes to the Dollar Store to buy a bag of plastic eggs, the kind that snap together, thinking she’d put her business card inside and hand them out. Then a bag of jellybeans catches her eye. “A-ha, I’ll fill the eggs with jellybeans along with the card. This is fun!” Now she needs a basket, and the green cellophane grass to go with it. Caught up in this idea, she stops at a costume shop, but the only thing they have is the sort of bunny outfit you’d see in a nightclub. She thinks, “I can make this work!”getting new clients

So the next morning, she pulls her car up next to the guard shack at a local refinery.

“Hi. I’m here to deliver an Easter egg to your Human Resources Manager.”

“Who are you?” asks the guard.

“I’m the Easter Bunny!” she says, incredulously.

“Let me check.” He steps inside and makes a call. “OK, go ahead.”

She walks right in, basket on her arm, hands the HR Manager one of the eggs, says “Happy Easter,” turns and leaves.

This oil company became a major account, and within a year she was the leading Account Manager in the country.

4. Ask a lot of questions

We’re often so eager to share the good news about our business that we forget to build trust and confidence. Ask LOTS of questions. What are they using now? How much are they paying for it? What do they like most about it? What do they like least about it? Why would they want to change? And how can you help? In next month’s issue, we’ll cover The 37 Magic Selling Questions.

5. Ask for Referrals

It helps if people refer you to their friends, associates and family members. This puts you and your prospect on a common ground from the get-go. Network with bankers, lawyers, real estate agents, and other professionals who serve the same constituency of clients as you. A prospect is five times as likely to do business with you if you’ve been referred to them by a trusted advisor, so ask for, and reciprocate referrals.

3 x 3 x 6

My friend Jordan Oliver runs a landscape business called Garden Art. He tries to concentrate his work in a particular neighborhood, because traveling between jobs eats up profits. Whenever he starts installing a project, he visits each house three doors to the left, three doors to the right, and the six houses across the street.

He explains to each neighbor, “We’re doing some landscaping over here at the Hamilton’s, and I was wondering if you could help us out. For the next few days we’re going to have a lot of material and equipment on the site. Would you be a good neighbor and just help us keep an eye on things?”

Of course they agree.

“And while we’re in the neighborhood, I’d be happy to work up an estimate for any work you might need. Here’s our brochure.”

Who Else Do You Know. . .

You can help your clients suggest referrals by asking this simple question: “Who else do you know who…?” The variations run something like

  • “Who else do you know who was recently promoted?”
  • “Who else do you know who just had a baby?”
  • “Who else do you know who just moved into town?”

Likewise, people who do not have a need today may develop one later. You should touch base with every past and current customer at least quarterly, whether they buy or not. Maintain the bond. Talk about their favorite ball team, or how the kids are doing in school, or how the new location of their restaurant is working out. Most important, make the calls personal rather than strictly talking business. If you maintain the person-to-person relationship, the business relationship will take care of itself.


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 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.

Coke in a Can

10 Guerrilla Selling Tactics to Sell at Higher Prices

Coke in a CanYou’ve done it.  You buy a can of Coke® from a vending machine for a buck. Order that same Coke in a restaurant and it comes in a glass, with ice, and a straw, and it’s $3.75. Are the glass and the ice and the straw really worth $2.75?  Apparently.  People do it all the time, and never whine about the price.

Here’s a list of ten ways you can bring more value to your offering.  Find three that you can apply right now.

1. Quality

People will pay more for quality.  The Maytag repairman isn’t just lonely.  He’s old and lonely.  Show your prospect that the lifetime value of your offering is far superior to your competitors’.

2. Service

People will pay more for superior service.  Why do you think people pay twice as much for a suit at Nordstrom’s then they would at Men’s Wearhouse?  They value the service – expert tailoring, multiple fittings, free monogramming – and all this makes up for the additional money they will spend.

3. Authenticity

Authenticity means the real deal – the genuine article.  At the Louvre Museum in Paris, you can gaze upon what is perhaps the most famous work of art in the world: Leonardo Da Vinci’s portrait of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, commonly known as the Mona Lisa.

For all the hype, it was quite a disappointment. The painting hangs alone in a large hall in dim light, cloistered behind thick plates of bullet-proof Lexan.  And it’s small; only 21 x 39 inches.  Mrs. Gherardini has not aged well over the past 500 years. The paint is cracked and the colors are smoky and faded.

However, scientists have analyzed the pigments and digitally recreated this masterpiece just as it would have looked standing wet on Da Vinci’s easel in 1506.  The reproduction is ascetically superior in every way, and you can buy the poster-sized print in the museum gift shop for only twenty Euros, while the original, of course, is considered priceless.

4. Stability

Company stability means a company that’s been in business since the landing at Plymouth Rock.  Do you tell the story about how your Grandfather came from the Olde Country and started the business with his brother and cousin in the back of their barn?  You share that history because people put a high value on stability and longevity in business.  No one wants to be a beta test.

5. Reliability

People are busy and when they find a vendor they can count on, they buy from them again and again. How do you demonstrate to your customer that you’re reliable?  Does someone answer the phone on a second ring? Do you show up for appointments exactly on time?  Everything you do (or don’t do) sends a message about your reliability.

6. Social or Ecological Values

Do you recycle? Do you use recycled paper in all your packaging and correspondence? Are you running alternative fuels in your fleet?  These issues have become more and more important in recent years.  Seventy-eight percent of consumers said they would pay $2,000 more for a car that gets 35 miles per gallon, even though that only makes economic sense if gasoline is in the range of $4.00 a gallon (that’s more than I pay for wine!).  Meanwhile, the Prius was voted Number One Most Ecologically Sensitive Product of the last decade.

People routinely pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars for a nick-knack at a silent auction raising money for a scout troop, church group, or political cause.  At this year’s Cigar PEG celebrity auction, the three-day elite speaker coaching package I donated raised $22,500.00 for the National Speakers Association Foundation.

7. Delivery

This is why you pay fifteen dollars for FedEx instead of 52 cents for first-class mail. People want the product in their hands immediately.  Whether it’s delivering a customized pen in less than the time promised, or completing their project a week ahead of schedule, people don’t just want what they paid for when it’s expected, but BEFORE it’s due.

8. Financing

Even Time Magazine, offers “Three easy payments of $9.95.”  So, when you have a good customer who’s shopping for terms, you can say, “Well, we can give you 2% net 30, or 90-days net. Take your pick.”  This also proves to the customer that you value them enough to be flexible on terms.

9. Local Sourcing

Eighty-two percent of people surveyed have consciously supported local or neighborhood businesses.  People like to be a part of a community, and will pay higher prices to support local vendors.  Need proof? Compare prices at your local farmer’s market with those at a big-box store.

There’s a two-pump garage and gas station in the tiny Colorado mountain town where we live called Carl’s Corner.  I’ve been buying gas from Carl for more than 20 years, and my wife is always giving me a hard time about it.  She says, “Why buy gas at Carl’s when we can get it cheaper at the Conoco in Boulder?”

“Because we need more than just gas,” I remind her.  “We need Carl.  We need him when we have a flat.  We need him when we have a dead battery.  We need him when we slide off the snowy road and get stuck in a drift.  We even need him when we run out of gas for the grill.  And if we don’t keep his garage open, then we won’t have a mechanic in the canyon at all.”

10.  Fun

Regardless of what someone is buying, or how much they pay, they want to have FUN and feel good about their purchase.  How can you add a fun factor so your buyers enjoy the experience and keep coming back?

You’ve seen this guerrilla tactic in action if you’ve ever bought fish at Seattle’s Pike Street Market.

What can you use from this list to justify your higher price?  Many of these are things that you’re ALREADY doing, but not taking the proper credit.  Make certain that you explain ALL the aspects of your product or service that makes you more valuable to your customer.  Focus on your uniqueness and what you bring to the table that your competitors are ignoring.

This is only part of a list of 31 Reasons Customers Will Pay More.  Watch the new seven-part video, “Guerrilla Tactics to Sell at Higher Prices,” at:  http://vimeo.com/user6769112/videos

 

 

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.