Saturday, November 30, 2013

Increase Sales in 12 Easy Steps

These easy tweaks to your sales process to create a huge increase in both sales revenue and profit:

Step 1. Reduce the number of opportunities you pursue

The more opportunities you've got, the more likely you are to make a sale, right? Wrong. If you can't give each prospect the attention they deserve, you'll lose sales you otherwise might make.

Step 2. Increase the percentage of time you spend selling

Get somebody else to handle your paperwork, expense reports, or whatever busywork is involved with making a sale. Use the extra time to get in front of customers.

Step 3. Stop buying technology because it's cool

Smartphones, tablets, and PCs can be important tools--but learning and supporting them can drain your productivity. Only purchase devices and programs that actually help you sell.

Step 4. Think about your solution as a verb

Suppose your company makes glue. If you're selling "glue" (a noun), you'll talk about product features. If you're selling "gluing" (a verb), you'll talk what your offering does for your customer's business.

Step 5. Treat selling as a service to the customer

Stop thinking that selling means "convincing" the customer, "overcoming" objections, and "winning" the business. Instead, view yourself as the customer's ally in solving a problem.

Step 6. Terminate weak engagements

The moment you find out that a customer really doesn't need what you're offering, point them in the right direction, then politely withdraw from the opportunity.

Step 7. Don't confuse telling with selling

Rather than talking to the customer about what your product can do, ask intelligent questions so that the two of you can discover whether the customer really needs you to help solve a problem or achieve a goal.

Step 8. Hone your lead generation effort

Based upon your own experience, observe who's just interested and who's actually buying. Hone your lead generation efforts to find more of the ones who are actually spending money on your offering.

Step 9. Don't focus on the gatekeepers

Make sure that you're talking to the real decision-makers, and not just the influencers and sideliners. When you meet a decision-maker, stay in regular communication throughout the sales cycle.

Step 10. Stay atop of your opportunities

Don't lose track of what's changing inside the account. Build a short sales plan that documents the process and the players, so you don't spin your wheels trying to remember who needs what and when.

Step 11. Outflank your competition

Find out who the other guys are calling on, and how they're approaching the account. Figure out who they're talking to, what they're saying, and defensively position your offering to counter their approach.

Step 12. Increase your average sales value

It takes just about as much effort to cut a $1,000 deal as it does to cut a $10,000 deal. The more revenue you book on each opportunity, the more money you'll make overall.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

6 Ways to Provide AMAZING Customer Service During the Holiday Rush

Today’s customers have unreasonably high service expectations - even more so during the holiday rush. The last thing you want is to let the quality of your customer service slip during the most important time of the year. In order to shine amidst the clutter of promotions and maximize your holiday efforts, your support team needs to provide superior customer service. 
At, we talked to some of the support managers taking on the holidays this year to understand how they empowered their teams to provide amazing customer service. Through a series of interviews with them and our WOW team members, we gathered six effective strategies that all holiday heroes should use to prepare for the peak seasons:

1. Plan Ahead

You should consider planning at least three months before peak periods. This time is needed to determine personnel needs, training, and if necessary, schedule longer shifts for existing employees. Planning ahead and setting goals is essential - especially for fast-growing companies that have experienced rapid customer growth in the previous months.
Fortunately, some simple reporting and forecasting efforts can really go a long way to determine how much personnel and tools you need on hand for the peak seasonal demand. There is a wide set of factors that you should consider analyzing in order to effectively forecast the holiday season.’s customers paid special attention to these key points:
  • Look at your workflows from the past peak seasons
  • Understand your past years’ customer satisfaction ratings during the holidyas
  • Consider the cost of hiring seasonal workers compared to training team members from different departments
  • Make an educated forecast of how many customer inquiries you will receive this year

2. Divide and Conquer: Triaging Customer Interactions

One of the biggest mistakes you can make during the holidays is not providing a process for your support team to efficiently and effectively handle all of the cases. Unfortunately, an inbox full of hundreds of cases that grows by the hour has the ability to slow any agent down. An effective process that keeps agents productive is “triaging” - a strategy that gives all cases quick, instant attention.
Triaging cases as they come in allows you divide and conquer your case load by having the right cases, assigned to the right teams, right away. By gauging the urgency of a case and correctly categorizing it by the type of help the customer needs, you’re ensuring the right agents are handling the customer’s question. This prevents specialized agents from wasting time digging through cases looking for the ones that most require their subject matter expertise. customer, SmugMug, says this about triaging cases:
"Triaging cases makes all the difference during the holidays. It's necessary to triage for cases and set up special filters. In order to efectively triage incoming customer interactions, we use Case Filters a lot in"

3. Improve Self-Service Support

It’s no secret that the holidays are a time of high case volumes and even higher emotions. The best way to keep both at bay is to provide customers with the resources they need to solve their own questions. You can serve more customers faster simply by making answers to common questions readily available to them through an online support center. Most customers prefer to solve their own problems anyways! According to Forrester, 72% of customers prefer self-service to resolve their support issues over picking up the phone or sending an email.
A Holiday FAQ is an incredible resource for customers and has the potential to dramatically deflect calls or emails - meaning, holiday shoppers do not need to contact your support team because they have solved their own problem using the FAQ.
Consider some of the following questions for your Holiday FAQ:
  1. What are your work hours during the holidays? 
  2. Did you recently release a new version of a product during the holidays? What’s different about it from the older version? 
  3. Are there any discount codes available? Explain the fine print. 
  4. What are the shipping policies? 
  5. What are your return/exchange/ cancellation policies? 
  6. Do you have any rush order options?

4. Empower Agents to Get the Job Done

We’ve all been in that situation when a holiday order somehow goes terribly wrong. It might have been lost in transit or arrived three sizes too small. In which case, having a problem resolved in the shortest amount of time in a friendly and personalized fashion has the greatest impact on a customer’s holiday experience.
In order to deliver amazing customer service in the shortest amount of time during the holidays, you should consider empowering your agents to solve customer problems at all costs. By giving agents trust and confidence to make their own judgment, they will be able to deliver a fast, personalized customer experience without having to jump through any hoops. A team of support agents that deliver a fun and fast customer experience has the potential to be a huge competitive advantage during the holidays. customer, Bonobos has created a positive reputation for their company because of the amazing customer service that they provide. Here is what Senior Support Manager, Cole Sickler said about why they empower their agents:
By empowering our staff to do whatever they want to satisfy a customer they can jump to a workable solution immediately without having to get clearance or jump through any hoops."

5. Focus on Fast Resolution Times

Many customer service managers will advise that the biggest efficiency metric to focus on is an immediate first response time. Setting goals to reach a customer as soon as possible is a great way to make them happy because it assures them that support is reachable. However, bear in mind your team could consist of agents that pick up a phone within two rings or average an hour response time via email. But, if they require multiple contacts over a period of 2-3 days to solving each case, then your agents might not be as effective as you thought.
There are several ways to twist the gears to make sure agents can solve cases as fast as possible:
  • As mentioned earlier, triaging cases allow agents to quickly respond to easy, one-touch-resolution cases and escalate the higher priority ones that require more time and patience. 
  • customers love using Macros to get simple questions answered fast and effectively. It’s also easy to train cross functional teams on which macros to apply where. 
  • Actively respond to cases with links to your knowledge base giving customers the opportunity to solve their own issue. HINT: This can be automated with’s Macros.  
  • As also mentioned earlier, empower agents to solve cases at all costs. Rather than creating a bottleneck filled with cases that have not been resolved due to agents asking permissions from their managers, give them the freedom and resources to make the customer happy. 

6. Activate Whole Company Support

Rather than spending time and money on seasonal workers, consider activating whole company support - or cross-training fellow colleagues - for the busy holiday season. Whole company support provides more personnel that require little training as well as allows your system to be more resilient to the stress that will undoubtedly be experienced during the peak season.
First, you should equip all of your colleagues to answer basic questions customers may have (refer to the Holiday FAQ previously discussed). Then set up an escalation procedure for common situations that require additional steps or expertise from full-time agents. This tactic is particularly useful on busy days like Black Friday and the day after Christmas when all hands need to be on deck.
With basic training and some guidance, you can stack your support team with more personnel and make sure each customer receives a fast and personal response.

In Conclusion

 Тhe holidays are a stressful time for everyone - shoppers, retailers, service providers, and especially customer support agents! It’s important to remember, though, that at the end of the day, most of the insanity is being done to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Advice for Young Salespeople from 9 Sales Veterans

Much has changed in the sales game over the years, and much has stayed the same.
We asked these sales veterans for tips for the young salesperson.

Questioning and listening skills are vital. Close behind that would be pricing integrity.
A young salesperson can learn a lot from veteran salespeople who not only genuinely listen to understand, but also are disciplined enough to not rely upon discounting.
Nothing is more vital to a salesperson’s career than their ability to question, listen and become keenly focused on the desired outcomes of the customer. Combine this with a strong commitment to the pricing structure, and the young salesperson is likely to experience success.
~ Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter 

NOTHING.  Except the hard-fought notion that success demands hard damn work.  Even if what you see is good for someone else, that doesn’t mean it is going to work for you.  Times change. Tactics change. People change.
So spend less time copying (or even learning) and more time pushing your limits.  Stop looking for a path forward and get good at leaving a trail.
Dan Waldschmidt

Always prepare for each sales call, no matter how well you think you know the customer, no matter how successful a salesperson you become. Treat everyconversation you have as though it is the first time you met that customer, so that you listen to what is being said and remain engaged. In each meeting or conversation you have with customers and prospects, something has changed, something new is said, there are different circumstances surrounding the context of the meeting. It’s up to you to pick up these subtle differences. Be fully focused.
Nothing is ever the status quo, even when you think you are dealing with same-old, same-old. Listen with “new ears” and intercept new selling opportunities. Always bring some “news” to the table, as well: a trigger event impacting the industry, a piece of information about competitors relevant to your customer, an update about an HR issue from a few meetings back. If you remain “fresh”, both you and your customer will always be looking forward to your next meeting.
~ Babette Ten Haken, Sales Aerobics for Engineers

If I had to pick one tactic, it would have to do with that supposed antiquated piece of equipment that still sits on most desks today: the telephone.
The telephone was invented way back in 1876 and until the past ten years or so, it was regarded and respected as an incredibly effective tool of the sales trade.
In spite of what many of the loud voices, false teachers, and Kool-Aid peddlers of today’s “Inbound Marketing Only” crowd are preaching, the old-fashioned proactive telephone call still works quite well when executed properly.
Pick up the phone. You’d be amazed what you can do with it – and what it can do for you!
~ Mike Weinberg, The New Sales Coach

PorterRelationships do still matter and trust is everything. Top veterans have unparalleled style and charm. If you can combine their top qualities with those of the next generation technical seller, you’ll be crushing quotas in no time!
~ Kyle Porter, Sales Loft

BarrowsWhichever ones that work.  As a young sales rep I would constantly ask questions and put myself in a position to learn from the best reps inside and outside the company. 
I would listen in on their calls and presentations, I would try to grab coffee or lunch with them and ask them about what they do that works.  I would write everything down and then try out the different ideas and techniques to see if I could fit them into my approach and make them my own .  Here’s a “tactic” that has made a huge difference for me in my career: set SMART goals and hold yourself accountable.
~ John Barrows
IrreverentBe quiet. Be prepared. Be on time. Send a hand-written thank you note.
~ Dianna Smith, The Irreverent Sales Girl



That depends on who the expert is and where the young salesperson is in their career.  The advice I give is, just because someone has been around a longtime doesn’t mean they are good.  Find the best of the best and learn from them, regardless of how old they are and how long they’ve been selling.
~ Jim Keenan, A Sales Guy

This question is a trap for me. Young salespeople are being sold the line that the things that used to work in sales no longer work. They're being told that social selling and inbound marketing have replaced the need to pick up the phone and call your dream client. I know this is unpopular. But there's an important lesson here.
The new tools, like social media, blogs, and LinkedIn, are merely amplifiers. They amplify what you already are. If you don't have both sales acumen and business acumen, the new tools amplify your inability to create value.
The veteran salesperson has the ability to create value for their clients. That's how they won those clients, and that's how they retained them. If you want to study what allowed the proven veteran to succeed, then study their ability to make a difference for their clients. Once you've done this, then you can transfer that value creation over to social selling. But until then, the best thing you can learn from the veteran is how to sell.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What is CRM?

You’ve probably heard the term “CRM” if you are a business owner or sales manager. But what does it really mean?

C-R-M stands for Customer Relationship Management. At its simplest, a CRM system allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them. With CRM, you can store customer and prospect contact information, accounts, leads and sales opportunities in one central location, ideally in the cloud so the information is accessible by many, in real time.

While a CRM system may not elicit as much enthusiasm these days as social networking platforms like Facebook or Twitter, any CRM system is similarly built around people and relationships. And that’s exactly why it can be so valuable for a fast-growing business.

Any business starts out with a foundation of great customer relationships. You, the seller, connect with people who need your product. Yet, as your company grows, these business connections grow more sophisticated. It’s not just a transaction between the buyer and seller. You start to manage a myriad of connections, across time, within each company you do business with. You need to share information across various teams within your own organization who are making contact with the same customers. A CRM system can serve as a vital nerve center to manage the many connections that happen in a growing business.

For small businesses, a CRM system may simply help you put your data in the cloud, making it accessible in real time, across any device. But as you grow, a CRM can quickly expand to include more sophisticated features to help teams collaborate with colleagues and customers, send customized emails, gather insights from social media conversations, and get a holistic picture of your business health in real time.

Today growing businesses manage customer connections and information in a variety of ways. Some use old fashioned note cards and Rolodex. Others store information on their mobile phone while on the go. Others use Excel spreadsheets or Google documents. While that may help in the short term when you have a small team and don’t plan on scaling your business, if you want to scale for fast growth, it may be time to consider a CRM system to help you collect your precious business data in one place, make it accessible via the cloud, and free up your time to focus on delighting customers rather than letting valuable insights and information fall through the cracks.

Wondering if your business would benefit from a CRM system? Contact us Today!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Email Marketing FAQs to Grow Your Small Business

While the effectiveness of email marketing has recently become a point of contention among marketers, a 2013 study by iContact confirms that email is still a worthwhile part of an SMB marketing strategy. With a sample size of 601 marketing decision makers, the study indicates that 91 percent of businesses find email marketing either helpful or very helpful to their organization, with 56 percent saying that they plan to increase their use of email marketing in the future.
Despite its success, email marketing isn’t always black and white. Questions about send times and email frequency are never far from a marketer’s mind, and the answers are often as frustrating as you would imagine: everything depends. An email send time for a B2C email is entirely different than a B2B email, and your email frequency often depends on the size of your database, the purpose of your emails, and the expectations that you set when prospects or clients are added to your email lists.
Luckily, many email marketing companies collect and analyze huge amounts of email data so that we can get answers to some of the most common email marketing questions. Let’s take a look at some of the most pressing issues surrounding email marketing, and see what the experts think about each.

What time should I send my email?

The best time to send an email is in the early afternoon, right after lunch (source). Why? Because emails sent in the morning are forced to compete with the usual barrage of early-morning emails. On a similar note, emails sent in the late afternoon risk getting pushed aside as your recipients finish up their day’s work and head home. Experiment with early afternoon send times to see if any specific time resonates with your audience. Then, start trying different days of the week.

What’s the best day to send an email?

The answer to this question varies greatly between B2C and B2B marketing. If you’re a B2C marketer, your email sweet spot might be the evenings or weekends, when your email recipients won’t be distracted by work emails. B2B marketers, on the other hand, want to avoid nights and weekends like the plague. For a B2B email, Tuesdays and Thursdays are often the most popular and most effective days for email sends; however, sending on either of these days also puts you at risk for greater competition in the inbox. Try sending an email on a Wednesday or Friday to see what kind of results you get, but try to avoid sending on Monday since your recipients will still be playing catchup.

How often should I send emails?

Email frequency can be tricky. While you want to send emails often enough that you stay top of mind, you don’t want to become annoying. Most of the businesses surveyed by iContact indicated that they email their entire lists on a monthly basis, and send segmented communications at least weekly (only 6% indicated that they email their entire list every day). Using the email marketing or marketing automation tools at your disposal, you can track the impact of email frequency on your opt-out and click-through rates. You can also automate your email marketing efforts based on timing or your recipients’ actions, ensuring that your campaigns are timed correctly and won’t overwhelm your recipients.