The world of selling is changing…..are you?

“Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business. – Mark Sanborn

The world of selling is changing rapidly and is a very different animal to years gone by. The economy is in the worst state it has been in ages and we’ve all found that our prospects have made us work harder for our sales.

It’s a buyers’ market like never before. The modern day buyer is an educated, sales savvy, shrewd business professional who demands more and expects to pay less. They are less tolerant of mediocre service and substandard products and are intimately aware of their options, which are endless.

However, in spite of all of the challenges that today’s sales people face when dealing with the modern-day buyer, there are aspects of today’s sales people that the modern buyer looks for. The 2008 Wharton Customer Dissatisfaction Study reports that there is an ‘Ideal Sales Person’ the modern buyer seeks to work with. This modern sales person can be summed up by four distinct traits:

  • An Engager – The modern buyer wants to work with a sales person who is engaging and will go out of his or her way to “help” the customer. This sales professional has a visible and sincere interest in the needs and desires of the customer. They are constantly aware of the need to build trust and rapport.
  • An Educator – The study found that customers want a sales person who is an expert in everything there is to know about the product, service and the company. The buyer also wants to deal with a sales person who can educate them. They don’t expect you to have just good “product” knowledge. They also expect you to possess thorough “market” knowledge.
  • An Expeditor – This is the sales person who is sensitive to the customer’s time and gets things done quickly and correctly the first time. In short, they are a person of action and they ensure that their company’s sales and service processes work efficiently.
  • Authentic – Customers want to deal with a likable sales person who is “real”, someone who is trustworthy, genuine and sincere.

When looking at the above four traits, you can see that they all fall under one general category – Education.

The modern buyer wants to deal with sales people who are experts in their field. None of the other qualities are possible if the sales person is not a bona fide expert. For instance, it is impossible for the sales person to be a true engager if the sales person is not totally familiar and comfortable with all of the information concerning their products and services. This is an area where the majority of retailers fail dismally, as they mostly employ people who have limited training and knowledge about what they’re selling.

Education is the key
You should constantly be working on how can you educate your prospective customers to tell them something that they don’t know. How can you continually educate your prospects throughout the sales process and even in-between contacts? An educated prospect becomes an educated customer.

Make the customers way your way
Understand how your prospect absorbs information, what their learning style is, whether they think in pictures or sounds, whether they like the detail or big picture. And then tailor your approach to fit with what their preferences are. Make it fun and easy to do business with you.

Become more than just a sales person
You need to become a trusted authority on your service, product and market. You must become a trusted advisor and confidante to your prospect. Do more than what your prospect would expect from a ‘normal sales person’. Offer advice, send them useful information and educate them. Position yourself as a “partner” rather than a “supplier”.

Educate yourself and your team; educate your prospects and customers, and I assure you that your business and market share will grow.

And a final point. To all those who tend to over-complicate the sales process or even worse, those who frequently utter the terminally dis-empowering words “I’m not a sales person”, I have good news. Review all the sales strategies and behaviours above and consider one thing, all the sales strengths required are mostly attitudinal and not hard skills. Nothing that I list above is beyond you.

“If the rate of change outside your organisation is greater than the rate of change inside your organisation, then the end is in sight.” – Jack Welch

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

In search of the obvious – The story of Obvious Adams

“The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.” – Khalil Gibran

One of the best books that I have ever read on marketing is one that was written 97 years ago, in 1916. It’s only 40 pages long and it contains no jargon or graphs. It’s a true collector’s item.
Most people mistakenly think it’s an obsolete, outdated, irrelevant piece of light fiction. Wrong!

This story was recommended by one of the world’s preeminent marketing minds, Jay Abraham. His mail stated:  “Read this story not once, or twice.  Read it once or twice a week, for the rest of your life!” I also discovered more about this philosophy in the brilliant book by Jack Trout, ln Search of the Obvious.  

The book is titled Obvious Adams: The Story of a Successful Businessman. It’s written by Robert R. Updegraff. The book was a big success. The New York Times wrote, “The young person who is going to seek their fortune in the advertising business should have Obvious Adams for a handbook”.

Why is the story of Obvious Adams so valuable? Probably as the search for any truly effective marketing strategy is the search for the obvious. The dictionary definition of the word “obvious” is: easy to see or understand, plain, evident. With that definition you begin to see why an obvious strategy is so powerful. And why it works.

When presented with a simple, obvious strategy, many clients are not impressed. They are often looking for some clever, not-so-obvious idea.  The author warned of this when he wrote, “The trouble is the obvious is apt to be so simple and commonplace that it has no appeal to the imagination. We all like clever ideas and ingenious plans that make good lunch-table talk at the club. There is something about the obvious that is – well, so very obvious!”

Unfortunately, most advertising people look for the creative, not the obvious. To them, the obvious is too simple and never clever enough. This often leads to communication that is vague, confusing and many times difficult to understand, often leading to ineffective and wasteful marketing.

In his book Mr. Updegraff describes his “Five Tests of Obviousness”:

  • The problem when solved will be simple. The obvious is nearly always simple – so simple that sometimes a whole generation of men and women have looked at it without even seeing it.
  • Does it check with human nature? If you feel comfortable in explaining your idea or plan to your mother, wife, relative, neighbours, and anyone else you know, it’s obvious. If you don’t feel comfortable, it probably is not obvious.
  • Put it on paper. Write out your idea, plan or project in words as though you were explaining it to a child. If you can’t do this in two or three short paragraphs and the explanation becomes long, involved or ingenious – then very likely it is not obvious.
  • Does it explode in people’s minds? If, when you have presented your plan, project or programme, do people say, “Now why didn’t we think of that before?” You can feel encouraged. Obvious ideas are very apt to produce this “explosive” mental reaction.
  • Is the time ripe? Many ideas and plans are obvious in themselves, but just as obviously “out of time”. Checking time lines is often just as important as checking the idea or plan itself.

If you want to be a master of critical, strategic and divergent thinking, then there is no easier way to propel you into open-mindedness. Obvious, isn’t it!

“Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.” – George Orwell 

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

The most powerful quality in the world

“With an enthusiastic team you can achieve almost anything.”  Tahir Shah

Enthusiasm is by far the highest paid quality on earth. Why? It’s a quality that is very hard to find. One thing that I know for certain – enthusiasm is contagious.

Enthusiasm is just as important in print as it is in face to face selling.  Instilling your sales letter or advertising with sincere, yet intense enthusiasm, is one of the ways that a newbie copywriter can beat the efforts of an experienced professional.

Can you force yourself to be more enthusiastic? I believe you can! When I force myself to act enthusiastically, especially during seminars, I soon find that an enthusiastic mental state can be fired-up from within. Enthusiasm definitely begets enthusiasm.

The person who is genuinely enthusiastic about what she or he is selling definitely has an advantage over all others.

Never underestimate the power of enthusiasm and the advantage it can give you. Over the years, I have found that the clients that I’ve done the best work for and have been the most successful with, have been passionate and enthusiastic about what they market and sell.

“Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.” – Gordon Parks

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

What is the most underleveraged piece of marketing information you own?

What is the most underleveraged piece of marketing information you have on your clients?

It is the amount of years that you have retained your loyal customers. Think about it! Why would you know and store this information and not use it for your benefit. Use this fact to remind your customers how you gratefully appreciate their years of support.

Clients are delighted when companies personally thank them for their consecutive years of loyalty. I assure you that this recognition cements your relationship with your customers and highlights that you care.

The more years of consecutive association, the more profitable the client is. Yet many companies spend more time and money chasing after new customers than recognising and revering the loyalty of long-term clients.

Have you called and written to every long-term customer to express your appreciation lately?

‘The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.’ – William James

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

The 10 Commandments of Self Improvement

You are probably familiar with many of these powerful “Commandments”. If you are, please look at these as a refresher course to remind you of the basics. I have included quotes that support each lesson and belief from a variety of experts in the field of personal effectiveness.

1. Thou Shalt Take Responsibility for Your Life

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” – Denis Waitley

2. Thou Shall Take Action

“Take Massive Action” – Tony Robbins

“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.” – Jack Canfield

3. Thou Shall Have Desire

“Desire is the starting point of all achievement.” – Napoleon Hill

“The key that unlocks energy is ‘Desire’. It’s also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited.” – Earl Nightingale

4. Thou Shall Set Goals

“Every single life only becomes great when the individual sets upon a goal or goals which they really believe in, which they can really commit themselves to, which they can put their whole heart and soul into.” – Brian Tracy

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Zig Ziglar

5. Thou Shalt Create a Plan

“If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail.” – Unknown

6. Thou Shalt Pay the Price

“Success is the child of drudgery and perseverance. It cannot be coaxed or bribed; pay the price and it is yours.” – Orison Swett Marden

7. Thou Shalt Have Persistence

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge

8. Thou Shalt Believe

“If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.” – Denis Waitley

9. Thou Shalt Learn From Thy Mistakes

“There are no failures, only lessons to be learned.” – Oprah Winfrey

10. Thou Shalt Create a Clear Picture of Your Future and Visualise It

“Picture yourself in your mind’s eye as having already achieved this goal. See yourself doing the things you’ll be doing when you’ve reached your goal.” – Earl Nightingale

“Create a clear, mutual understanding of what needs to be accomplished, focusing on what, not how; results not methods. Spend time. Be patient. Visualise the desired result.” – Stephen Covey

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

How to write headlines that tantalise customers

Did you notice the title for this newsletter? Of course you did and that is why you clicked to read this article. The headline is the most important part of any advert. It is often referred to as the advert for the advert.

The advertising legend David Ogilvy said, “On average, five times as many people read the headline than the body copy. It follows that, unless your headline sells your product, you’ve wasted 80% of your money.” 

Think about it. When you are skimming a newspaper, website or magazine, what’s the first thing you look at? The headline, of course! It’s the most important tool in print advertising, be it for a print article, an advertisement, a website, a sales letter, a billboard, or a press release. Headlines are the difference between success and failure in advertising. That is why writing an attention grabbing headline is essentially important in advertising.

A great headline needs to answer all of the following:

  • Who cares?
  • WIIFM – What’s in it for me?
  • Why are you bothering me?
  • So what?

I list 6 tips that will help you write more powerful headlines for your adverts:

1. Your headline should flag down readers who have a specific problem. For example, if you are selling cosmetics that help middle-age women look younger, then your headline must highlight that benefit. For example, “How women over 40 can look 10 years younger in 10 minutes with ABC Cosmetics”.

2. There are two words that work like magic in headlines – “How to”.  People are drawn to headlines that say “How to”. Why? People are curious and want to learn “how to” solve problems. If possible try to start your headline with the words “How to”.

3. Whenever possible, use the words “Free” and/or “New” in your headline. Both words are magnets that attract readers to read your advertisement.

4. Don’t use all capital letters. A mix of upper and lower case, like this sentence, is easier to read and looks better THAN ALL CAPS.

5. Headlines can be very effective when posed as a question people want an answer to. (“Mover and Shaker or Moaner and Groaner, which are you?”)

6. Put quotation marks around the headline. You will get 25% better results.

The headline is your first impression and maybe your only impression unless you get it right. So get it right!

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za

How to instantly grow your business 16X or more

The 80/20 Rule (or Pareto’s Principle as it is also known) means that in anything a few (20%) are vital and many (80%) are trivial. This principle is 107 years old, but is still a brilliant way to improve the focus of your marketing and business efforts.

Based on the 80/20 Rule and my own experience, only a few of your clients, marketing methods, efforts, products or services really mean anything.

Only about 20% of your marketing methods really work, they produce about 80% of your profits. The other 80% don’t work so well. They produce about 20% of your profits.

Let’s examine this a little closer. If the Vital 20% of your marketing efforts produces 80% of results, that’s a 4x output. And if the Trivial 80% of your marketing produces 20% of your results, that’s a 1/4 output. As a result, your Vital 20% is 16X more powerful than your Trivial 80%.

What does this rule mean to you and your business? That possibly 16 out of every 20 hours you spend on marketing this week (80%) is largely a waste of time.

What this simple calculation means is that there’s an easier method to dramatically higher profits staring you in the face. Spend more time, money and effort on the 20% of your marketing that produces 80% of your profits.

If your business currently has clients and revenue, then you must be doing something right. So do more of what you did to acquire those customers and less of the time-wasting stuff and your success is guaranteed.

Stop wondering how to grow your business and take decisive action. The numbers don’t lie and the answers are there, but only if you look for them. Clearly determine your Vital 20% and your Trivial 80%, then move time, money and effort from the 80% to your 20%.

Action steps:

Try this, replace just one week of low-value 80% marketing efforts with one week of high-value 20% efforts.

You will possibly enjoy a 100% growth in profits, or even better, by simply taking these 3 actions:

1.     Clearly establish the Vital 20% of your marketing efforts.

2.     Determine the Trivial 80%. Stop doing these!

3.     Measure, analyse and improve. Now focus relentlessly on the high-value 20%  activities.

To your marketing success.

John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.     

Visit John at www.brandstorm.co.za and subscribe to his free newsletter.

Do you need a speaker who will educate and inspire at your next industry conference or a trusted advisor who will increase profits, multiply sales and magnify marketplace positioning?                                                      

Contact John today – john@brandstorm.co.za