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The AWESOME Power of Business to Business (B2B) Prospecting

Business to Business

Most everyone has heard in some way, shape or form that sales is a numbers game. This is absolutely true, but there is a lot of conventional wisdom surrounding the number of contacts needed in order to hit a specific sales goal. I have come to discover that quality will always trump quantity regarding lead generation and prospecting. I promise you that more production can be generated, with less effort, from a fewer number of leads. The one caveat is that it takes up front time and effort to get the machine built and running on auto pilot. The machine that I’m referring to is Business to Business (B2B) Prospecting.

Before I define B2B Prospecting and it’s relationship with sales, I want to give a big shout out to Chris, the individual who introduced me to this philosophy that changed both my professional and personal life forever. I met Chris three years ago at a sales training seminar in Las Vegas. He went into depth about his B2B prospecting system that he uses to crush his tree service business at www.treeservicehenderson.com in Henderson, Nevada.

What is Business to Business Prospecting?

It’s a two way street. B2B is a non-enforceable yet documented agreement between two business leaders who strive to expand each other’s reach for opportunity and clientele.

The relationship between two business owners must be reciprocal for B2B to work. If one business sends referrals and clients to another business, yet never receives any in return, then B2B is not being utilized.

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Help: Someone Stole My Brilliant Idea

You came up with the greatest idea in the history of forever! This is a game changer and it’s all thanks to you! You thought of the best item to sell online. It’s affordable to make and can be sold for a hefty profit. You know that demand will be huge. Rays of light are shining down on your prototype and angel choruses are singing. You can already see the money pouring into your bank account.
And then you search Etsy, and there are 18 others listings of your great one-of-a-kind item. The rays of light fade, the angel choruses are silent, and your once perfect product is seconds away from being relegated to the junk drawer. Only to be brought out occasionally as you tell the story of how you were sooooo close to that great breakthrough, but someone else beat you to it.

Well, hang on just a second.

The world is full of great ideas, and similar great ideas. Someone always came first and then someone else put their spin on it. For every McDonald’s, there’s a Burger King across the street right? I’m certainly not saying that you should intentionally copy someone else’s idea, but before you throw away your beloved product, ask yourself how you could bring your product successfully to market, even in a sea of lookalike items, by taking just a few steps to set yourself apart.

Price
Of course, the first answer is: Just sell it less than the other guy. But remember that hefty profit that was going to boost your bank account to Hollywood A-Lister status? Profit is good, but be mindful of your mark-up. Look at those similar listing again. Are they charging more than you intended to? Is the product really worth that much? Being more realistic about your selling price can put you ahead in the game. It’s completely obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people want a huge dollar amount per item. If you’re selling the right item, at the right price, you’ll win every time. This is Selling 101, and is strangely overlooked.

Quality
Looking back at our mystery listings again, are people selling their similar items for less than you intended to sell yours? It’s possible they’ve misjudged the value of the item but chances are it tells more about the quality of the product. A change in materials can mean a world of difference. Don’t be afraid to charge more if you’ve put in quality that other haven’t, but be sure that your potential customers know what sets yours apart. Selling a product isn’t about modesty. If yours is better, tell people why. Don’t cut corners on quality and don’t say “But everyone does it!” The fact that everyone does it is what will set you apart

Customer Service
You have the right item, you’ve found the perfect price, now just sit back and watch the orders roll in…ummm, no. You’ve made a sale, but now take steps to help you secure a loyal customer. Mail the item on time, faster than promised if possible. Remember that quality continues through shipping, don’t skimp on packaging. Whether to protect the product or just make it look pretty this is the first impression that your buyer will have of you—if the reality matches what they thought they’d be getting. Make the first impression count. If the volume allows, add a personal note to each shipment. After the sale, follow-up, tell them that you hope that their experience was a positive one and that you hope that they’ll come to you for future purchases. Encourage them to leave a review, offer a discount for future use. If there was a problem, fix it. No excuses.

I’ve bought more things online than I’d care to admit, and despite these somewhat obvious points, I still can’t believe the number of listings I have to sift through of overpriced items, cheap quality and negative reviews.
Some watch their pricing, or concentrate on service but the true Holy Grail for sellers is all three. There’s more than enough customers out there for everyone willing to put in effort. Word will get out that you’re among the better sellers. So get that prototype out of the junk drawer and get to selling! Along the way, comment below and tell us of your experience. And share this article on Facebook and Twitter, so that your customer network can start growing too!

Selling a Difficult to Explain Product

Sometimes the dream product or service you’re selling can’t be explained in a quick catchphrase. When you go to sell a potential customer, you realize there’s more to it than you can adequately describe within the five minute window you have. This can be a frustrating experience and walking away without that sale is deflating.
Luckily for you, I’ve been there and done that. I’ve gone through the trial and error of a complex product and how hard it can be to sell it. Through my failures though, I’ve found a few steps you can take to help you better understand the product and better sell it. You’ll be amazed what these tips can do for your marketing game.

GET BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH YOUR PRODUCT
If your mind is drawing a blank on how to describe a feature, maybe you don’t know it well enough. Or, deeper, you don’t fully understand it. Get to know your product down to the finest detail and be passionate about what you’re trying to sell here. If you yourself don’t understand your product, how do you expect a potential customer to?

FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER, NOT THE PRODUCT
Maybe trying to describe what the product exactly does is where you’re losing your mojo. Try a different approach. Think about what situation your potential customer may encounter and how this product makes this situation better or solves a problem that may arise. Place your product in a real world example this relevant to your customer and they’ll start envisioning the possibilities on their own without your help.

IF WORDS AREN’T SELLING, FIND ANOTHER MEDIUM
Attempt to describe a ferris wheel as if you’re talking to someone who has never seen or heard of one. It’s near impossible, isn’t it? Now pull out a picture and try again to describe it. It makes it a lot easier. Try to use visuals, such as photos or video clips, to better explain your product. You’ll find that this assists immensely for truly tricky products.

A great example I always use to help me sell better is infomercials. They take all three of these tricks into account as they attempt to sell me on the product of the month. The speakers know everything about the product, they tell you what situation they fix, and they give you videos and images to better follow along. And, as a result, they sell millions of dollars worth of strange, unique, and complex products.
When asked how to better sell a difficult to explain product, some “experts” tell you to return to the whiteboard and redesign the product entirely. This is unnecessary. Why would you dumb down a product that you know works exactly as it should? Try the steps above and you’ll be able to explain your product to customers better in no time.
If you found my article helpful, share it with your friends and fellow salesmen on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or wherever you like, share, and follow. And let me know how my steps worked out for you by commenting below.

Fail Forward, FASTER!!!

Solutions Can’t Exist Without Problems
Success Can’t Exist Without Failure

Failing Is Success

How is it that the idea of failing has  negative connotations? Why are so many people afraid to fail, or admit that they have failed? I believe that there are numerous factors that contribute to this dilemma and unfortunately they all inhibit individuals from growing, prospering and ultimately realizing their true potential.

There is someone that I met when I first moved to Las Vegas that is still to this day one of my best buddies. His name is Misha and he was kind enough to give me work at his Tree Trimming & Removal Service Company. He said something to me that will forever stick in my mind. I recite it every morning when I do my affirmations. 

“Solutions cannot exist without problems”
“Success cannot exist without failure”

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Passive or Active Selling? The Answer is Both!

No two human beings on this planet, both past or present, are the same. None of us have the exact same genetic makeup, core values, beliefs, desires or ambitions. What does this have to do with sales or selling? Perhaps everything or nothing depending on your perception. What I want to make clear is that if anyone is going to make money in business they will have to sell in order to monetize their product or service. Since everyone is different is follows logic that the same selling techniques are not as effective for some as they are for others. Therefore, it’s best to utilize the techniques that complement each individual the best in order to reach, and maintain, the highest probability of success. Now let’s get into the two general categories of selling, Passive and Active.

(Keep in mind that their are multiple definitions or meanings for the same word or term. The definitions below are my own so they may or may not be inline with what you’ve found elsewhere).

Passive Selling –

The term “passive” means to allow what happens without any active response. Passive selling is derived from this and involves any sales technique where one has little or no concern for the outcome after the technique has been implemented. An example would be sending out an email to a prospective client that directs them to your website to purchase a product. Whether the recipient of the email opens it, reads it, goes to the website, buys the product, or even receives the email to begin with, no further action is taken. There will be no follow up phone call, text, social media contact to actively get the prospective client to continue towards the desired outcome of buying your product.

Email Social Media Low Context

This form a selling involves much less high context communication like face to face meetings, phone calls or video chats. It allows individuals to stay more within their comfort zone and can come across as impersonal. Generally speaking, the conversion rate to a sale is much lower due to a greater number of attempts being necessary. Examples of passive selling would include phone texts, emails, social media or mailers.

Active Selling

This form of selling would include any initial action taken, and subsequent actions taken, to facilitate a sale of a product or service. The key distinction is that there is a much higher level of control with active selling. With these techniques an individual is doing more to control a situation in order to cause something to happen. An example would be calling a prospective client, getting them to commit to a face to face meeting on the phone, and then closing them to a sale at the face to face meeting.

NegotiationClose

This form of selling is about gaining access to as much information as possible and using it to reach the desired outcome. Forms of high context communication allow for this to happen. Phone calls allow you to hear someone else’s voice, how they say words and with which tone or pitch they say words. Face to face meetings provide you with visual cues like mannerisms and facial gestures. Video chat combines all of this plus the ability to do it with anyone, anywhere at anytime. The level of comfort is low and the level of control is high, the exact opposite of passive selling. As a result the conversion rate to a sale can be substantially higher.

The Big Questions – Passive or Active Selling?

I already put my answer in the title of this post, It’s Both! I’ve never quite understood why society tries to make everything into a dichotomy. Maybe it makes things seem more simple, as if it was perfectly black and white. However, gray happens to be my favorite color and I believe you should never limit yourself. There is an entire spectrum between absolute passive selling and absolute active selling. If you have the ability to do both active and passive selling, or any hybrid in between, why not do it. I understand that different selling techniques will work best with certain personality types. I think that whichever type of selling or sales technique works best is what you need to be focusing the majority of your time and energy on. Yet, I also think that you need to be well rounded and utilize different sales techniques when the situation requires it. People and sales are fluid things, ever changing. If you don’t have ability to adapt then it means more work for the same amount of converted sales.

Gray is my favorite color, but Leverage is my favorite word. If active selling techniques scare the bejesus out of you don’t do them. That does not mean that you can’t utilize someone else who thrives in that type of environment. Hire a sales representative, ask a friend or find a business partner. Do what you do best, but don’t ignore what you suck at. Go find someone else to do what you what you won’t do, better than you can do it in a quicker time frame. Monetize every opportunity and know that it doesn’t need to passive selling or active selling, it should be both.

Crash Course Sales 101

Everyone has their own version of a ‘sales’ school of hard knocks. For me it was my introduction into the manufactured home space.  It’s still some of the most difficult and rewarding sales experience I have ever gained.

First, let me provide some background information on manufactured homes and type of clients that come with them. Manufactured homes, more commonly referred to as mobile homes, are very basic housing structures that are usually constructed in a factory and then moved out to a designated location by a semi-trailer truck. They come in various dimensions and styles, such as single-wide, double-wide and triple-wide trailers. Manufactured homes are not to be confused with RVs or 5th wheel camper trailers. Manufactured homes are constructed with the intention to be placed onto a foundation and remain there for many years, similar to single family homes. However, manufactured homes can have axles and wheels installed in order to move it to a new location. Think of manufactured homes as lower quality, smaller single family homes. They have many of the same amenities like furnaces, air conditioners, washers, dryer, stoves, refrigerators, dish washers, showers, sinks and bathtubs. Yet, often manufactured homes are not affixed to the land that they reside on. As a result manufactured homes are considered ‘personal property’ not ‘real estate’. This affects the value greatly. Depending on the year of the manufactured home, it’s location and current condition the value can range from $0.00 to over $100,000. That is not a typo. I have purchased many manufactured homes for zero US dollars. Let me also add that no Multiple Listing Service (MLS) exists for manufactured homes. Unless you have some experience in this field you might as well wet your finger and hold it up in the air to determine values.

Mobile Home

Now, on to the cast and crew. If you have never set foot inside a mobile home park I highly suggest that you pencil a time slot into your calendar. Nothing happens within a park community that doesn’t become everyone’s business shortly after it takes place. For some reason this doesn’t deter the level of tomfoolery at all. I once sold a manufactured home to a young couple with kids who later decided to steal other resident’s dogs and sell them online in order to make a quick dollar. This brings me to the first rule in manufactured homes: never allow yourself to become surprised by anything, EVER. I feel the same rule applies to sales as well. Now, let me clarify that there are many outstanding people who live in manufactured homes and within mobile home parks. With that being said, my experience has told me that a decent percentage of people who live within mobile home parks are uncomfortably honest to the point where the social emotion of ‘shame’ is nonexistent.

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Welcome to My New Website

ChessHey everyone, welcome to my new website called Invoke Selling. First, I want to say “Hey.” I am devoting this blog to ‘selling’ and everything that encapsulates it. ‘Why’ you ask? Well, let me tell you. It all starts with My father.

My dad was an electrician for over 35 years plus. Practically, his entire professional career. The first 24 years he worked as an employee for a large company in Reno, Nevada. The remaining years he made an attempt to own and operate his own electrical business, but ultimately reverted back to employment. The reason I’m letting you know this is that I had a deep, heart to heart conversation with my dad the night before he decided to quit his job and go into business for himself. I’ll never forget what he said, and how he said it. There was an uncomfortable amount of trepidation in his voice as he stuttered “I quit my job today to start my own business and I’ve never been so scared in my entire life.”

If life has taught me anything it’s that everything is about timing. I whole heatedly believe this to be a universal law. It was no coincidence that my father, the man I look up to more than any other human being on this planet, decided to confide in me his deepest fears. He didn’t share this with my mother, my older brother or my younger sister. I was taking several business classes in High School and had become enthralled with the idea of starting and owning my businesses. I also made sure everyone in my family knew it. I would regurgitate everything I had learned at the dinner table, over breakfast, playing catch, anywhere and everywhere. I immediately realized this is why my dad reached out to me. He somehow knew that I needed to have this crucial conversation just as much as he did.

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