Written, Designed, and Ready to Send - New Message Series for Valentine's Day

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Appreciate your clients. They’ll love you for it!

Instant is the opposite of lasting.

Instant fades quickly.

Instant never tastes as good as slow cooked or slow brewed.

Instant has its place, but it’s not at the heart of real connections. Or is it?

Harken back to the days when connections were real with our new pre-written, pre-designed Valentine's Day series. We’ve added the new series to the Message Library so that in mere moments you can fire them off to every single one of your clients in a couple of clicks.

Just show a little appreciation.

Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to let your clients know you’re thinking about them. It offers a unique opportunity for you to stand out and build loyalty.

While most of your competition is trying to find the time to get a gift for one or two people in their lives, we’ve made it easy to touch all the special people in your life.

Sending a message your contacts will appreciate and remember? No sweat.

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See how to send one of these new Valentine's Messages in 1 minute

New Designs Added – Will You Be My Valentine?

Remember that kid in first grade who didn't get a valentine?

Of course not! That's because your teacher made a rule that you had to bring a valentine for EVERYONE in the class.

This year, we're making a rule. Every one of your clients deserves a valentine too. Why? Because just like little Timmy in first grade, they're each special.

Are some more special than others?

Sure. That's why you gave the wrinkled one to Timmy. Thankfully, at Ace of Sales, we don't have any wrinkled ones, so start sending valentines like the teacher's watching.

Put your heart in it and have fun.

We're sure the replies will make it all worthwhile.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Check out the designs below and feel free to leave a comment about your favorite or make any suggestions for next year's batch.

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New Holiday Designs Just Added

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All year long we've been very busy making new things for you to enjoy. Like little helpers bustling around a workshop...if only there were a seasonal reference we could make... Anyway, in addition to our new Message Library and Holiday Ebook, we’ve added fresh designs to our holiday art galleries! Check them out below!

So whether you send an email from the Message Library or create one of your own, you’ve got everything you need to make your customers' spirits bright.

Thumbs Up to A New Gallery Of Fresh Thanksgiving Designs

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To all those who have smiled throughout 2013 even when they're being shoved in the oven, I raise the long piece of the wishbone to you this Thanksgiving: May the only family drama you experience stream from Netflix. May the kids' table be as quiet as your phone in airplane mode. May the turkey be as juicy as your Facebook updates. May you only check email once... or thrice. May your Instagram moments get more likes than your siblings'. And may you enjoy a Thanksgiving to remember.

This Thanksgiving, all of us at Ace of Sales are thankful for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope our new Thanksgiving designs will light up your week and your inbox with warm replies.

New Feature Sneak Peek: Message Library

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For a while, you've been able to clone, save, and share your messages in Ace of Sales. Helpful. But we've received a stream of requests for improved message management. You asked for: + The ability to categorize your saved messages + The option to create your own categories + A visual preview to more easily select messages + A library of messages we write and design for you

Requests granted!

Early December, look for my announcement of our beta roll out of the new Message Library. It will be a new main tab in your account automatically added for you (no download required).

The Message Library will be filled with dozens of completed messages you can purchase for $1.99 and use immediately. It's like the iTunes of business messages.

We'll have pre-written, pre-designed messages for thank yous, hellos, follow ups, birthdays, and much more. Look for our special messages for December holidays and New Years. You'll be able to choose messages for both email and printed cards.

More information coming next week, but I wanted to give you a morsel to start digesting along with those delicious Thanksgiving dishes.

Enjoy Your Extra Hour - 2 New Daylight Savings Designs

Not into Halloween? We have a couple new designs for you too! Don't miss out on our new Daylight Savings Reminder Designs for your customers. They're a great tool to give value and get great responses.

Check them out and then send them out!

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6 New Halloween Designs To Die For

You're either a Halloween person or you're not. For those of you with cotton spiderwebs draped over your front yard right now – we've created a custom theme for this year's Halloween Designs that's sure to be a thriller! Send them as email greetings or printed cards.

See them below.

Don't have an Ace of Sales account? Don't let that stop you! Everyone gets a free basic account for 30 days at aceofsales.com. Just enough time to scare up some fun!

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Share your Best Emails

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Some emails simply outperform others. 

We’ve all sent them. The email that just feels perfect as you’re writing it and then gets a great response from the recipients. Whether it's a perfectly composed thank you or a finely worded follow up, those are the emails that you use over and over again with maybe just a quick edit.

In the past, you could always clone a message after scrolling through your list of sent emails in Ace of Sales. But now you can add it directly to your saved messages with a click of a button, and avoid digging through your Tracker to access it later.

Better yet, you can share it with another Ace of Sales customer to use with just another click!

Watch the video below

 to see how it all works.

6 Messages We Want To Share With You Right Now

We hope you’re as excited as we are about how easy it is to save and share emails in your Ace of Sales account!

To get you started, we’ve created 6 pre-written, pre-designed messages that anyone can use to reach out to or reconnect with customers.

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3 Ways to Build Relationships with Shared Messages

1. Work with team members to create the ultimate email.

Share a message back and forth with your team to gather suggestions for improvements, and then share the final version for everyone to use. You’ll show that you value your team’s input, and that you’re invested in their success.

2. Share email starters.

Not every email you write is going to be used word for word by someone else, but often the hardest part of writing a good email is just getting started. Help people out by giving them a point to jump off of and you’ll make their day a lot easier.

3. Say thank you. A lot.

Send your team members, clients and contacts thank you notes for every reason you can think of. Save them and then share them with the same people. It’s like buying a box of all-occasion thank you notes without forking over any cash.

How to write emails worth stealing.

Some people write news articles. Some write novels. Others write poetry. And some people write blogs. But you? You write emails. Big difference right? Maybe. Maybe not. There are actually millions of people who write stories and poems and articles, but there are relatively few who we all know. Why is that? There’s a good bit of luck involved, but there’s a great deal more work involved. People who practice writing are much more likely to become known for their work than those who only do it when they have to.

I’ve gathered a few of my favorite quotes from writers I admire and then added a couple thoughts after each about how they can be applied to a business setting. Take a read and let me know what you think. Tell me in the comments below about what you struggle with when it’s time to sit down and write. Tell me about your successes. Tell me about your (perceived) failures. Tell me anything you want to, just write something and then keep going when you’re done.

 

"I will tell you something about stories. They aren't just entertainment. They are all we have to fight off illness and death. You don't have anything if you don't have stories."

Leslie Marmon Silko (Native American poet & novelist)

There is a place in business for storytelling. Executives use them to open meetings. Entry-level employees are often asked to relate an experience or two they’ve had that they could draw on to find success in a new position. So don’t be afraid to start an email with a story.

Just make it quick, make it relevant, and make it compelling. Use it to capture a reader’s attention and give him a reason to keep reading.

 

"What isn’t said is as important as what is said. In many classic short stories, the real action occurs in the silences. Try to keep all the good stuff off the page."

Colson Whitehead (novelist, poet, essayist)

Don’t overwrite. Write enough to get someone interested, and then get out. If you give your reader everything she needs to make a decision right then and there without ever talking to you, it’s very easy for her to decide on “no" or not now, which is as bad as no. Tease her by letting her know that she’ll miss something really juicy if she doesn’t call. But then make sure whatever you’re holding back as juicy really is.

 

" 'Very' is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen. For example, would you rather hear the mincing shallowness of 'I love you very much' or the heart-slamming intensity of 'I love you'?"

Florence King (novelist, essayist, and columnist)

Some words are just overused. You can distinguish yourself and your product or company by not using them. Stay away from words like very and amazing and incredible and…the list goes on. Spend a few minutes making a compelling argument instead of lazily telling your reader that your offer is amazing and expecting him to believe you.

 

"Write every day. Don't ever stop. If you are unpublished, enjoy the act of writing—and if you are published, keep enjoying the act of writing. Don't become self-satisfied, don't stop moving ahead, growing, making it new. The stakes are high. Why else would we write?"

Rick Bass (novelist, short stories, essayist)

Communication only works when it is ongoing. Have you ever let a client relationship slip only to try and pick it back up three months later? What does that email or phone call feel like? It’s awkward. You have time that you have to account for. The very act of getting in touch is an acknowledgement that you haven’t been in touch for some time. It’s best to always be finding a reason – a good reason – to be in touch with your clients. Doing this will make you much better at it than the competition.

 

"In my own experience, nothing is harder for the developing writer than overcoming his anxiety that he is fooling himself and cheating or embarrassing his family and friends. To most people, even those who don’t read much, there is something special and vaguely magical about writing, and it is not easy for them to believe that someone they know—someone quite ordinary in many respects—can really do it."

John Gardner (novelist, essayist, critic and professor)

“I can’t write." Or, “I’m not a good writer." These are what are known as excuses. Don’t lean on them. If you can fool yourself into thinking this, what can others fool you into thinking? You CAN write. You just have to pay attention and be committed to it.

Let everyone else think they can’t write, but you know what the number one skill is that almost every employer is looking for these days? Communication. Your ability to speak and write well is critical to your success. If you were always in the same room with your clients, email wouldn’t be necessary. But you’re not.

Technology has enabled us to broaden our wingspans and work with people from a great distance. But it has also focused a bright light on the importance of being able to communicate well.

 

"I wish you good writing and good luck. Even if you've already done the good writing, you'll still need the good luck. It's a shark-filled lagoon out there. Cross your fingers and watch your back."

Margaret Atwood (poet, novelist, critic, essayist, activist)

Not every email is going to help you set new sales records. No matter how much hard work you put into your writing, there’s always more to do. Not every message will hit the mark and not every email will get a response. Learn from the ones that do and study some of the reasons why they worked.

It’s a continual effort. Practice practice practice.

So is there a difference between writing a book and writing an email? I suppose there is, but mostly that difference lies only in the final product. Ask any of these (still living) writers mentioned here and they’ll gladly tell you that even they can only write one word at a time. Which is absolutely no different from you.

Happy writing.

Gmail's New Promotions Tab

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Gmail Folders. Why all the hype?

By now, you’ve probably heard about the new 'folders' that Google rolled out in Gmail to help email recipients manage the vast quantities of messages that flood their inboxes on a daily basis. There is a debate going on right now as to whether these changes are affecting open rates or not. Some people even say that it’s improved their open rates.

First, why did Google make this change?

Think about the number of emails you get every day and all the different places and people that send them. Without an organized system of filters and inboxes, it’s very easy to lose track of the important emails that demand your attention. So Google created a basic version of that system for you that automatically sorts your emails into one of three folders: Primary, Social, and Promotions.

Sounds helpful...why all the fuss?

Many email marketers are concerned that if their emails end up in the promotions folder, they’ll be less likely to get opened since the promotions folder is less urgent to most people. But as the article I linked to above states, even across a sample size of over 1 billion emails, there was only a 0.5% drop in open rates in the weeks immediately after the change.

Now, that’s not to say that you don’t want to be in the Primary folders of your Gmail readers, but it does raise the question of how to get there.

Email is about relationships, especially the Primary folder

If you’re concerned about whether your emails are getting overlooked in the Promotions folder, sending an email to ask isn’t the best way to find out. Instead, I’ll proceed with the assumption that you’ve built your list based on relationships with your customers, contacts, and associates.

If you had something urgent to tell a friend, how would you do it? Would you send them a text? Would you call them? Perhaps send a card? Well, why not choose one or more of those options to ask your contacts to move you from the Promotions folder to the Primary folder? After all, this is pretty important stuff. You’re trying to make sure that the people who want to read your email are actually getting them. So what do you do?

1. Find out how many gmail users you have on your list

If someone’s email address doesn’t end with @gmail.com, this issue may not affect them. They could be forwarding their email into a Gmail inbox, but if their address is @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com, or @outlook.com, for example, they will not be affected. ExactTarget estimates that less than 4% of inboxes will be affected by this change.

2. Send a text

What you’re asking people to do is fairly simple and you could do it with a simple text. Just tap out this message:

“Hi! Some of my emails are ending up in some gmail users’ Promotions folders so you may be missing them. If you’re finding this to be the case, would you please move one of my emails to the Primary folder to make sure you get them from now on? Thank you!”

3. Call or meet in person

You’re already meeting with your customers and the rest of your network on a regular basis. Why not use this as a conversation starter? Ask the gmail users you meet if they’re still getting your emails, and then ask them to move one from the Promotions folder to the Primary folder. Heck, offer to show them how to do it if you’re face-to-face. Conversations are always valuable, and this is an especially valuable one to have.

4. Send a printed card

If you’ve got some people you haven’t spoken to in a while or live outside of your area, you can always send a customized printed card through your account. For $1 per card, you can reach this portion of your list very easily.

There’s a lot of information out there about Gmail folders, and some of it can be pretty alarming. But there’s no need to panic along with everyone else when there are simple, cost-effective, relationship-based solutions at your disposal.

 

The Power of Free

Recently, I visited a health fair where a small booth was offering free five minute massages. Not one to miss out on freebies, I got in line. The therapist did a great job transitioning me from an indifferent walk-by to an appreciative customer!

Here's how they did it:

  • After the five minute massage, the therapist insisted I visit their spa for a free 30 minute session.
  • She handed me a business card and flyer.
  • She called me the next day to set up the free appointment at their office.
  • A couple days later, I got a full-color postcard reminding me of my appointment.
  • From the moment I stepped foot in their office, the staff was friendly and professional.
  • After the session they offered me a $10 off coupon for a 1-hour deep-tissue massage.
  • To ensure I didn't forget them, they followed up with a thank you card and reminded me to make sure I took them up on their offer. They even added a little humor about being careful on the way in for my next visit. (I shared with them that a cop pulled me over before my free massage.)

This local business was on the ball...and just won a new customer!

Are You a "No-Show" After Trade Shows

Everybody’s heard the dismal stats: Fewer than 20% of sales leads gleaned from trade shows ever get a follow-up. In fact, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research says:

  • The #1 goal of trade show marketers is generating leads.
  • The #1 problem is lead follow-up.

Why spend precious time squeezing more business from existing customers while overlooking prime opportunities with 80% of your fresh new leads? Did you know that 90% of collected promo literature gets tossed or never looked at again? Experts insist you should follow-up with all leads within 48 hours of the trade show.

Here’s how you can use Gladhandle to follow up with your new leads before everyone else has even unpacked their bags!

  1. The booth is packed up and you’ve got 50 new business cards (hopefully with notes).
  2. Find a WiFi hotspot asap, log into Gladhandle, enter your top 10 leads.
  3. Drag and drop a branded e-mail to each, and write a brief custom message. Thank the prospect and reintroduce your solution.
  4. Follow up with the rest of the lukewarm-to-cool leads as a group when you get back to the office. You may just want to use a template message for these.
  5. Set reminders for future actions. What is your next move, and when?
  6. Voila! You’ve responded to all your new leads in less than 48 hours!

Make your Own Newsletter Images with Pixlr Express

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You don't need a degree in Graphic Design to create a great looking image for your blog or newsletter.

With the right tools, image editing is easy.

With Pixlr.com, you can make a featured image for your blog post in minutes, or design a great looking newsletter header that you can use month after month!

The great thing about Pixlr (besides being free) is that you don't have to download any software, or install anything on your computer. It's completely browser-based, so you can edit your image right in your browser window.

When you go to Pixlr.com, there are a few different options to choose from:

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For simple image editing, select Pixlr Express (or go to www.pixlr.com/express).

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There are four different options:

  • Browse to upload an image from your computer
  • Open URL to use an image from anywhere on the web (follow copyright rules!)
  • Webcam to take a selfie
  • Collage to combine multiple photos into one image.

Let's use 'Open URL' to select your logo right from your website. Go to your website, then right-click on your logo. Select 'Copy Image URL.'

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Then, paste the URL into Pixlr Express and click 'Open.'

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That's it! Now you're ready to play!

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All of the edits to our logo above were done with just a few clicks. It's that easy!

Make a Custom Newsletter Header Image using Pixlr

There are three key steps to creating your own custom newsletter header:

  1. Select a background image
  2. Add your logo
  3. Add some text

First, I'm going to upload a background image from my desktop into Pixlr Express that is 600 pixels wide (pixel height doesn't matter). A 600 pixel width will match our newsletter template perfectly in Ace of Sales. You can use any photo that you have the rights to use, or go to search.creativecommons.org and look for 'background.' This way you can get an image that is 'labeled for commercial reuse with modification.'

(Why is this important? Read why at Creative Commons.)

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Once you've got your background uploaded into Pixlr, go to 'Adjustment,' and then 'Add Image.'

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Select your logo image, resize it and put it on top of your background so it looks good.

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Next, select the 'Text' option and write the name of your newsletter, or the title of the current issue.

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Save this file to your desktop, and you're done!

You can use your newsletter header in an Ace of Sales 1-column or 2-column newsletter template. Just open up a newsletter, click on the header, select the Image icon from the sidebar, and upload!

Handling Sales Objections: "I Need Time to Think It Over"

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It was just 238 years ago that a few rabble-rousers decided to get out of the British Empire. With the Declaration of Independence, they pledged their fortunes and their lives to declare their fight for freedom. But you may not know that only 2 men out of the eventual 56 signers actually sealed their commitment and signed the legendary document on July 4, 1776: John Hancock and Charles Thomson.

The remaining signatures were applied a few weeks later on August 2, 1776, after copies had been distributed to all members of the Continental Congress.

They needed time to review the document. To consider their position. To decide to go all in and rebel against their parent nation.

They needed time, in other words, to "think it over.”

Remember this the next time someone gives you the age-old objection that they “need time to think it over.” Even the founders of our country were not willing to be sold in a moment’s notice. When presented with the Declaration of Independence, they were not asked to sign immediately.

They were invited to an event in a few weeks, where everyone else would be signing. If they decided to sign with everyone else, they were welcome to participate. If they didn’t sign - well, everyone else would be watching.

This was a masterful use of selling skills. John Hancock allowed the members of the Continental Congress “time to think it over.” He gave them the exact amount of time they had to consider it, with an appointment to make their decision.

In front of everyone else.

How can you apply this lesson to your own sales process?

When your presentation is over, if your prospective customer won't meet your eyes, and mumbles something about 'time to think it over,' all you need to do is establish the boundaries of the thinking time.

1. Set an appointment for the decision.

"You should consider all the facts before you make a decision. I'll come back this time next week. That should be enough time for you to think it over, right?"

2. Discover any unresolved questions.

"While you are thinking this over, what are the questions that you need to research before our appointment?"

3. Invite a current client to the meeting.

"When I come back, I'd like to bring one of my current clients with me, so that you can ask them any questions that you develop over the next week about what it's like working with me."

Saying "I need time to think it over" is often interpreted by salespeople as "no." The Founding Fathers didn't take it that way, and neither should you.

Create Impact With Printed Cards

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Emails, texts, and phone calls are cheap. Printed cards are forever. OK, diamonds are forever. But the impact of a printed card lasts a long time. When you get a personalized greeting card or postcard in the mail from someone you know, it has impact. It communicates your level of investment, organization, sincerity, and commitment. The response is respect, appreciation, gratitude, consideration, and a deepening of loyalty.

Emails can get ignored. Printed cards can be kept for months.

Texts are forgettable. Printed cards are placed on the front of desks.

Phone calls get sent to voice mail. Printed cards get sent around the office.

Are you sending printed cards to your new prospects? Best customers? Business friends? Partners?

At Ace of Sales, we just relaunched the beta version of our printed cards feature. You can now upload your own image or choose one of ours. In a one screen, mobile-friendly interface you simply upload or choose an image, add a message, and send. Your card is printed and mailed for you within two business days (currently, US and Canada only). Add custom finishings like rounded corners or a gift card to your order. Greeting cards are less than $2 with postage. Postcards are a buck or less. We don't put the Ace of Sales logo on the back of your cards.

We loved the way our longtime customer, Amy, put it – "I just ordered a card for my mom and the process was super easy. I especially like the fact that everything is on one screen and you can see at a glance how everything will look without having to make additional "navigation clicks". Thank you for providing such a quality service!"

This week, I take a break from my usual column to invite you to try our new printed cards in Beta at Ace of Sales. (Everyone who signs up gets a 30 day trial account at no cost. Monthly subscriptions are $20 after that. No contracts ever. Cancel at any time.)

Sign up here to send one to yourself and one to your customers today.

I await your feedback at andyhorner@aceofsales.com and look forward to hearing about the impact our printed cards make on your customers!

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No Surprises! Music to Your Buyers' Ears

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It was Sunday night. I was 11 years old. My identical twin brothers, both 12 years old, had been jerks to me all day. As the younger brother, I decided it was my duty to fight back. My father, a minister in the tradition of Jonathan Edwards, liked to decompress from being "on" all day and required that "the children" go to bed early, while he had dinner "in peace."

This was my chance.

My brothers and I all slept in the same room. I told the older twin, the ringleader jerk that day, that dad was discussing something secret about us kids with mom and that he should do reconnoissance to listen in.  While he crept down the hall, I replaced his pillow with his saxophone case. Inside the pillowcase and in the dark, you could hardly tell. I then hollered from my bed, "DAD, SOMEONE'S OUT OF THEIR BED!" My brother flew down the hall and dove from the middle of the room into his bed.

WHAM!

2 minutes later, I got a spanking from the preacher man that could have been titled, "Sinner in the Hands of an Angry Dad."

Lesson: People hate surprises that hurt.

It's a truth every business person must pay attention to in our current economy now more than ever!

House prices are slowly returning. Some employers are cautiously hiring. Pocketbooks are cracking back open. Are we out of the recession? Who knows? But regardless of any good news and positive mojo out there, businesspeople are still hyper-cautious and doing everything they can to prevent surprises that could hurt their revenue and growth.

How does this impact you? It means your prospects want to try your product or service, scrutinize examples, project outcomes, review testimonials, check references, and guarantee results before they buy. In other words – they don't want to find a saxophone case in their pillow!

If you're not prepared for this hyper-caution in post-recession buyers, you'll lose sales to customers who may have trusted you in the past but are now required to "prove before the company will move."

Here are 5 ways you can remove these "no surprise" sales road blocks:

1. Offer conditional trials: Most often, businesses give away free samples or trial services without any plan to take a leadership role during the trial. Before the trial begins, agree on a result, a meeting time to review, and their next action. An example by a lead service might be, "If we can provide an average of 500 new solid leads for a full month, will you agree to a 12 month contract?"

2. Offer high-value-to-them, low-risk-to-you money-back guarantees. Your customers may have fears that you know are highly unlikely to ever occur. If your customer won't move forward unless you guarantee a completion date, and you know that you deliver 99.8% of every project on time, quell their nervousness with a money back guarantee for missing the agreed upon deadline.

3. Use an in-person testimonial. Have you ever brought a current customer with you to a prospect presentation? It's extremely powerful. Pay your customer's airfare or buy them dinner. Do whatever it takes. Talking to one of your loyal customers will fill in huge holes, transfer understanding, and provide confidence to your prospect that you can't convey.

4. Create crystal clear examples. Customers at times fear surprises because they don't understand what they're buying. It may be that your process, product, and result still seem cloudy and abstract to the customer. Create whatever it takes to help your customer understand exactly what they're buying. Use detailed infographics, high quality photography, professional-level videos, 3-D animation, and miniature models. Whatever it takes!

5. Be the poison checker. Wise kings had servants check their wine for poison before they drank. You're the servant. If you don't use your product or service yourself, quit your job. Lead your presentations by showing your prospects how you use and love the products and services you represent!

We're in an era where people want to know what to expect. They're more careful, cautious, and conscientious about spending than ever. Remove the possibility of surprise where you can and you'll find buyers who still love to buy!

Have an idea or tip to add? Disagree with me? Add your comment below.

And follow me for more ideas on sales and self-marketing on Twitter @AndyHorner.

7.5 Questions To Ask Your Customer To Get Great Video Testimonials

During the webinar "Prove It! Testimonials That Sell" Jeffrey Gitomer and Andy Horner laid out a sequence of 7.5 questions you can ask your customer to get a top-notch testimonials. These questions work exceptionally well for video testimonials.

Sit down with your customer, hit 'Record,' and ask these 7.5 questions to get to the "wallet" of the testimonial. Watch the video to see what I mean.

You can also watch the entire webinar for free on Udemy.

An Open Letter To Cold Callers

The other day, we were asked on Twitter whether we thought social media was a more productive way to build sales than cold calling. Aside from being a completely vague and open-ended question, it was also a pretty overt invite to a debate. One we gladly accepted. All that being said, we went into the discussion knowing this: there’s no such thing as winning a Twitter debate. The best you can hope for is an amicable parting. Mission accomplished, but there was a lot left unsaid. So I thought I would use this blog post to fully communicate just how ineffective we believe cold calling is as a sales strategy and leave no doubt.

Dear Cold Callers,

I hope that you’re able to take time out from your busy day of phone calling, and little else (I mean, who has the time when you have to make 100  or more calls to get one sale, right?) to read this. It’s important.

I want you to put down the phone and back away from it. Slowly. Slooooooowly. That’s it.

Now…take a deep breath and prepare to read something that will upset you.

You’re doing it wrong.

You’re wasting your time. You’re killing your brand. You’re destroying good will.

It doesn’t have to be like this. You can spend the same amount of time (or less) that you already spend working on your contact list, but rather than making one sale, you can start building profitable relationships that lead to multiple sales and long term customers.

Speaking from the perspective of someone who’s been coerced into cold calling in the past, and has also received more than his fair share of cold calls, I can tell you this: cold calling is a dead giveaway that you are out of better options. I don’t care if you’re the best cold caller in the business, 95-98% of the people you speak to will think bad thoughts about you and your business. In today’s business world, can you really afford to make that many enemies on a daily basis?

John Jantsch from the ducttape marketing blog puts it simply: “Cold calling results in about a 1-3% success rate for getting an initial appointment and it’s generally abusive to both parties. When that same call is made with a referral, the rate jumps up to 40% and even much higher when that referral comes from within the company."

Our very own Jeffrey Gitomer sheds additional light on the subject with a few statistics in this Business Record piece:

  • 98 percent or more rejection rate.
  • 100 percent interruption of the prospect.
  • 100 percent already know what you’re selling.
  • 100 percent lack of personal preparation about the customer.

Finally, when was the last time you immediately got someone on the phone who could say yes to you with authority? More often than not, the people who can say yes aren’t the ones answering the phone. In fact, the people answering the phones are usually trained in how to screen out cold callers, and their job security is based much more on keeping you off the boss’ phone than yours is based on getting connected. That’s a hurdle.

So with this many obstacles in your way, why not at least try something different? Cold calling used to have it’s place. Now it’s been replaced.

Say you’ve got a list of 500 names you plan to call. The best cold caller in the business will expect to get about 15 appointments or follow up conversations from a list that size. That’s 3%.

But what if you took the time to do a little research on the names you’ve got in front of you before calling them? Look them up on Twitter, and follow the ones who are talking about and posting about topics that are of interest to you.  Retweet a couple of their tweets that particularly resonate with you. Reply to them with a question or insightful comment. Start a conversation.

Look them up on LinkedIn and check out the groups they belong to there. Scan the recent discussions in those groups for comments or questions from those folks and then respond with a quality message of your own. Check out who you may know that they also know, and ask that mutual friend for an introduction or a referral.

Does it take longer? Sure it does. But then, maybe not.

You may be able to disqualify some of the people on your list even faster than you would on the phone while others will take some investigation. The point is that by the time you actually talk to them on the phone, they will have probably either invited you to call or agreed to your request to do so. And that can make all the difference in the world.

So cold callers of the world, I’m calling on you to quit. Cold turkey.

Please feel free to let me know how you feel about all this in the comments below. No calls please.

 

9 Tips (Not Wishes) To Get More Email Opens!

aladdin

The email subject line has often been referred to as a keyhole. Your recipients use your subject line to take a peek into your message to make a split-second decision to turn the key. By clicking to open your email, they are acknowledging two things. First, that you are important to them. Second, that your subject line promises to deliver value. "Great to meet you," "Thanks for taking my call," and "Just checking in" do not promise value. They guarantee that the recipient's time will be wasted. There are many forms of value you can allude to with your subject line. Something personal. Something unusual. Something timely. Something the recipient doesn't want to miss. Something they've been waiting for. Something they would love to learn. Something that will make them laugh or smile.

Do you allude to value like this? Do you grab the recipient's attention? Or are you promising... nothing?

Here are 9 ideas to start getting more opens by using your subject line like a keyhole that promises value:

1. Say something different. Often, recipients will click to open if your subject line is simply different. It triggers the idea that your message will be too. Make sure you don't disappoint. Instead of saying the same old thing like, “Following up from our meeting" or “Haven’t heard from you in a while, " try saying "Caution: This message will self-instruct" or "Thank you for the email I haven't gotten from you yet." Then, follow up with a message that makes the recipient laugh and respond.

2. Play to their sense of professional responsibility. Recipients respond to team project emails. They often don't respond to vendor sales emails. Go figure. If you can frame your subject line to sound more like an everyday project email, you will generate more opens and thereby more responses. "I need your input." "Clarifying your comment." "Rescheduled time." "The info you requested." Is 2:30PM better?" "OK with you?" Got it? Actually that's a pretty good one too. "Did you get it?" (Stay away from setting your emails to "urgent" or actually writing "Important" or "Urgent" in your subject line. It's a desperation tactic.)

3. Ask a great question. The very act of asking a question prompts recipients to give an answer. Ever been at a professional seminar when the speaker asks a question appropriate for a 10 year old, like "Show of hands. Can anyone name 3 animals with stripes?" Out of a room of 100, 50 hands shoot into the air. Humans love being the one with the answer. Your question should call for their personal input, not an obvious yes or no answer. Try "Would this offend you?" Or "What side would you take on this?" Or "What's the 1 thing holding you back?" Or "Can you name 3 animals with stripes?" No really. Try it. It's better than what you've been using.

4. Use incomplete thoughts. Using incomplete thoughts has a way of getting a person to. See how odd that last sentence is? It's incomplete. It refocuses the recipient as they're scanning their inbox. They want to know the rest of the story! To do so, they have to open your email. Here are a few examples: "I like it when you said –" , "Did you mean to say –" , "What I meant was –" , "Thank you for the –" , " This completely changed the way I think about –". (Use a hyphen to end your phrase, not '...' because characters that repeat can hurt your spam score.)

5. Refer to the contents of your email message. Statistics reveal that subject lines that directly summarize the contents of the email itself consistently get the highest open rates. "The proven process for selling your house in a week." "3 truths everyone should know before investing." "A hidden gem in our policy handbook."

6. Use numbers. Articles or answers that include a numbered list do well because they're definitive. The keyhole view they promise is a short, important list . "The 8 best tips for getting 1000 LinkedIn followers." My personal best open rate for an email with over 100,000 recipients was, "2 quick questions." Use it and see if it works for you.

7. Avoid industry jargon. Don't use acronyms or words you use inside your industry that customers find unfamiliar. If you're in the technology sector and you need to give a customer access to a demo, say "Click here to see our main demo" not "Your core system access credentials."

8. Keep it short. Some of my examples in this article have been longer. Shorter however, is better. 3-4 words is your sweet spot. It's another reason why "2 quick questions" worked.

9. Have fun and make it personal. Your recipients are human beings. Humans don't respond to corporate language, canned expressions, or the same old thing. They respond to having fun and anything that's about them. Inject more of that into your subject lines and you can nickname your emails "boomerangs" because they'll return to you with a reply!