Sell More: Become A Modern Seller

Sell More: Become a Modern Seller

 

 

Are your salespeople seen as “just another rep” or a strategic partner who brings insights and delivers value? Are your salespeople focused on finding unresolved problems with their accounts or commission junkies needing their next fix? Amy Franko’s new book: The Modern Seller will help your salespeople understand what buyers want and need in a salesperson today. The Modern Seller accurately depicts what the sales landscape is like today and provides 5 practical tips to help your salespeople drive top results.

 

How are your salespeople today differentiating your product and or services in a sea of seemingly similar services?

 

I think we all can agree buyers today are more knowledgeable. With a click of a mouse they can find product features and benefits, competitors, pricing, and your customer’s comments. It’s now all out there and buyers are skilled at finding it quickly.

 

So how does your company win?

 

What if how your salespeople sell became your point of differentiation and value for your customers?

 

If you want your salespeople to differentiate themselves in our often crowed and highly competitive markets they need to become: Modern Sellers.

 

What is A Modern Seller?

 

A modern seller is recognized as a differentiator in their customer’s business and the value of their product or service isn’t fully realized without them. A modern seller ‘s customer sees the work they do together as strategic to their competitive advantage”

 

Who wouldn’t want their salespeople seen as: “strategic to their customers competitive advantage”…right?

 

How do we help “sales reps” evolve into modern sellers?

 

The author shares 5 dimensions of modern sellers today.

 

Agile

Entrepreneurial

Holistic

Social

Ambassador

 

For example the Entrepreneurial dimension is critical to sales success today. You want your salespeople running their area of responsibility as if were their own business. You want them making decisions on how to spend their time to drive the greatest return. Our sellers today must have a balance between strategic thinking and executing to be a top performer today.

 

The Author unpacks each of the dimensions and shares not only why it is important today but also how to do it. She provides spreadsheet tools your sales teams can use like how to calculate: Loyalty Value and Lifetime value.

 

In The Modern Seller Amy Franko shares practical insights regarding what behaviors our salespeople must have today to be seen as strategic parts and trusted advisors by their customers.

 

I highly recommend you add The Modern Seller to your sales library and apply its 5 principles with your sales team.

 

 

Increase Sales And Profits ; Create Distinction

Increase Sales and Profits ; Create Distinction

The most common question I hear is; how do I increase sales and profits quickly? If you have read any of my other posts my answer will not surprise you; understand current market truth, understand your internal truths, and communicate with buyers how you uniquely solve their problems in a way that resonates based on the way they are buying today. Wow, quite a mouthful and I just wrote it. After meeting Scott Mckain recently and reading his book; Create Distinction I now will answer that question much more concisely.

If you want to increase sales and profits quickly you must Create Distinction!

This book does an excellent job of identifying four pillars of creating distinction and the author provides a summary and action items after each chapter that helps you regardless of your experience or inexperience in creating distinction. Having been tasked with increasing sales and profits quickly for over 30 years now I wish I would have had this road map much sooner.

It was the late 1980’s and I was asked to help a small plastics company increase sales and create a repeatable sales growth process. At the time video rental was beginning to grow rapidly. It seemed like video stores were popping up on every corner. Our company made two primary product categories; manual security devices to prevent the theft of music at retail stores and video protective packages. Before I get too far I need to share we were very small and we faced an 800 lb gorilla of a competitor in a company; Amaray. They were so entrenched in this market our customers would fax us, Alpha Enterprises, orders for Amaray boxes. Ouch!

As video rental continued to grow the number of independent rental stores grew to over 28,000 locations. For those of you much younger than me there were no Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, and Red Box was just a crazy idea in its inventors mind. Even libraries started adding video inventory and you could check out a movie, like a book and the best part they were free!

I received a call from an angry librarian in Nashville Tennessee one day. (My local dealer was kind enough to give her my direct phone number we did not have cell phones back then) She was very upset that our video rental boxes were not lasting and the VHS tapes inside were being damaged. As an aside you have not been chewed out until you have been chewed out by a highly educated, underpaid librarian.  So I decided to visit her Library to better understand how this could be happening. When I arrived I was shown our boxes behind the counter in cabinets with the tapes securely snapped inside. Then she showed me to her 24 hour book drop return and I quickly saw the problem. Unlike video stores who only have other videos drop through the night return slot, in libraries they have books and journals of various sizes dropping approximately three feet onto whatever was returned recently including video boxes. The return tray was littered with shards of plastic and I observed a damaged VHS tape with the tape spilling out. I assured the librarian we would find a solution to this problem and we would make it right.

When I returned to our offices I met with our engineers and purchasing department and shared the new criteria, new conditions our video boxes needed to perform in. Working together our engineers changed our designed and reinforced the inner hubs that held the tape securely in the case and tightened the latch that kept the case closed. Our buyer did a great job working with our plastics vendor and we developed a blended material that would make our boxes almost have a rubbery bounce. We tested our product, refined it then launched; The” Alpha Case” with the new exclusive polyduralyne material. We shared how we improved our video boxes and launched a campaign that made sure all our dealers, dealer salespeople and their customers were aware of what we did. I wrote a pretty basic PR story that was featured in the industry trade magazine at the time.  The next thing we knew we were receiving calls from Library distributors like Demco, Highsmith and Gaylord wanting to buy this new video box that lasts in library 24 hour drop boxes with polyduralyne.  Polyduralyne is a name I made up , it was much more interesting that saying X% of this resin, X% of that resin…. The other thing we did was increase the price for “Alpha Cases” to 48 cents. This was unheard of as you often lost orders to competitors for 1 cent price savings and the market price for video boxes was around 36 cents.  Word spread to video retail stores as well and the next thing we knew we were seeing sales climbing 150% per month. In addition we realized a 25% increase in profit margins! Back then I did not know we were creating distinction; we were just focused on being the leader in the market.  We knew were onto something when our rep from our resin supplier called one day….” Mark, what the hell are you doing? And what is Polyduralyne? My boss is getting calls from your competitors wanting to buy this material!”

What our team did back then was take a product, considered to be a commodity and we created distinction. As a result our sales continued to climb and we reinvested those additional profits in other new innovative solutions. Eventually we grew larger than our 800 lb Gorilla Amaray, and we eventually bought their business in the US! Flash forward and we eventually sold our once $ 3 million small plastics company to a venture capital firm for over $300 million!

If you do not create distinction for your buyers, they will use price as the only distinction.

Scott McKain’s book; Create Distinction provides you a common sense road map to drive similar results in your business.

Is your sales team facing price pressures?

Has your product or service been determined to be a commodity with your buyers?

Does your business need to create distinction?

How often do you find in your win loss calls you lost an order due to price?

What has your business done to create distinction in the minds of your buyers?

If your business would like to experience increased sales and profits you need to read Create Distinction. If you would like to see your sales growing 150% per month and your bottom line 30% greater than others in your market you need to buy yourself and everyone on your team a copy of Create Distinction. ( or you can worry your competitors are reading it and applying its road-map today) There has only been one instance, in 30 years now where this did not work and that was due to a company culture that did not want to accept they needed to change…but that’s another future post.

Professional Services Marketing; a Must Add to your Business Book Library

 

When I surveyed CEO’s years ago, I asked; what is it that worries you? A common answer was ; not knowing about something new that could help my business, help us grow quicker and more profitably. I have to admit that makes me anxious as well. What if what has my hair on fire today has already been solved by someone else (in my experience is always has) and I am suffering needlessly?Wasting time trying to solve a problem already solved?  I received a copy of of the book: Professional Services Marketing in the mail , second edition, and found it helps solve that common problem business leaders share as it relates to marketing.

 

 

I enjoy receiving new books, new thought leadership in the mail. I often have authors reach out asking me to read their book and talk about it in my network communities and in my blog. When the team from Hinge Marketing contacted me about their new book I could not wait to receive it as I follow their content on a regular basis and find it smart and easy to  apply. The good news when you love reading is that  you are always learning something new. I had a mentor at Frito Lay once say; remember Mark, Leaders are Readers, and that has stuck ever since.

 

 

A common problem in service businesses is marketing. I have served a number of service related businesses; marketing and advertising firms, a third party administration firm for retirement benefits, financial advisers, attorneys, the market leader in product management and marketing seminars for high tech companies, internet marketing and blog service providers, PR firms, a podiatrist, a chiropractor, a software company that helped doctor’s offices become paperless, and sat on church boards ( the ultimate service business if you ask me)…to name a few and marketing was always a struggle. The most ironic of those were the marketing and advertising firms as well as PR firms who sold marketing services and created strategies to help businesses grow for their livelihood, but they struggled to market themselves. This gives me pause ….why? and what can be done to solve this market problem?

 

You do not need to figure this one out on your own…

 

Read the book: Professional Services Marketing, How the best firms build premier brands, thriving lead generation engines and cultures of business development success.

 

The authors; Mike Schutz ( co-president of RAIN Group) , John Doer ( co-president of RAIN Group ) and Lee Frederikson ( Managing Partner at Hinge) are seasoned professionals who learned how to serve their clients in the trenches, out in the markets with the rest of us. They are not theoretical but practical in their approach and application of the principles they share in this book. Their content is research based and I have followed their thought leadership independently for some time.

 

I must say I was skeptical when the book arrived (sorry guys) as I am a huge fan of the first edition of this book and I wondered how they could make it any better. I still have my copy highlighted with notes to myself in the margins. I remember buying copies of it when it came out in 2009 and sending it to clients and would be clients who were are struggling with how to market their services. However what I found was this second edition was needed as the authors point out;

 

In the old days, professional service firms could survive without much marketing effort. Put together a team of good people, deliver strong services to clients, and you might get by just fine on repeat business and client referrals. ..today you also need smart, effective marketing and a culture of business development success to attract a steady stream of clients and grow your business in an increasingly competitive world.

 

The second edition continues their field tested , research based approach to providing advice you can apply but also adds content about social media marketing, the importance on line marketing plays and they share case studies by market leaders we all know and admire. In one chapter they discuss; The battle to attract and retain a quality workforce is a key success driver in many professional services firms. Having lived in this world, when the authors share their thoughts on topics like this it immediately makes them credible….they have walked in my shoes and their content resonates with me. In another chapter they share what I refer to as politically incorrect secrets of most service firms; they spend way too much time focused on their competitors and not enough time understanding their ideal client and their problems. Been there, done that, lived that, helped my clients through that.

 

After finishing the book I have only one criticism: what this book shares is not just true for “professional service firms” but all the companies I have served. Many industries face the same problems and all would value reading this book and applying its principles. I hear the authors saying; “what Mark did you miss the chapter on identifying and focusing on the best market?” No, I did not miss your point and I believe in what you are saying. However what I have found is businesses from large manufacturers of mechanical equipment in the B2B market to B2C consumer product companies would value the advice found in this book. The reality is none of us are in the widget making business, we are all serving our markets, solving their problems while identifying the new ones that arrive. The sooner businesses adapt to what I teach in my seminars; “serve don’t sell” the faster they will see rapid, profitable growth. I think every church pastor needs a copy of this book. You solve so many problems for people ….if they only knew….that’s a marketing problem that has already been solved in the wisdom in this book.

 

I highly recommend you add the second edition of Professional Services Marketing to your list of books within arms reach of your desk. You will find yourself reaching for it often for practical advice that works in the markets we serve today just like the book: Crtl Alt Delete that I shared a few weeks ago.