conversation

What is YOUR Brand Conversation?

brand-conversation

What's that core dialogue that keeps customers returning to you to learn, discuss, debate, get guidance, share their experience, and soak in your perspective? Your Brand Conversation is NOT your logo, website design, business model, or revenue driver. It's the topic your customers would want to dive into if they had a chance to have coffee with you.

Here are a few to consider...

Apple's: Your media is your life, and your life should be extraordinary.

Old Spice: Men should be unpredictable, audacious, cocky, and self-confident.

Jeffrey Gitomer: Stop selling people and start using value to win loyal customers who want to buy.

Dale Carnegie: To win friends and succeed, put people first.

Each of these statements starts an original conversation. Each entices customers to respond and engage in terms of you. They stimulate excitement, intrigue, a desire to return to the Conversation with you, and in time... buying customers!

If I could've had coffee with Steve Jobs, I would have talked to him about how I use my iPhone, iPad, and how I love exploring the Apple Stores. I would talk about myself in relation to Apple - how they've made my life and my media more extraordinary. Our conversation would have naturally centered around Apple's Brand Conversation.

What is your Brand Conversation?

What do your customers ask you about when they meet you for coffee?

If your customers are all over the place or don't naturally fall into a conversation about themselves in relation to you, maybe you haven't defined your Brand Conversation yet.

Now's the time!

In one sentence, what is your Brand Conversation?

Here's mine: When a person is original, relevant, and highly skilled, they're the most powerful force to drive a successful brand and business.

When I meet face to face with customers, they often speak about how I've helped them stand out, be creative, show off their capabilities, and make their business more relatable and human.

Your turn... Add your's to the comments below.

6 Open-Ended Questions for Sales Starting Conversations

As sales techniques go, asking Open-Ended Questions isn't just a good idea.

It's mandatory.

Open-ended questions will get your prospect talking about what they really want to buy, how they want to buy, and their real reasons for buying.

1. Ask, "What do you look for in...?"

If you're a realtor, simply asking a prospect what they look for in a house will get you some good information to match them with the right property. But also asking them what they look for in a realtor will give you key details on how to keep them happy, and generate referrals.

2. Ask, "What have you found in the past that...?"

The past experience of your customer is crucial because it's the yardstick they'll use to measure your success. If you exceed their expectations (expectations that were set by what they have found in the past) you've got a referral partner for life.

3. Ask, "How do you propose we handle...?"

What are their ideas? Do they have particular ways of doing things? You may have a system all laid out, but involving your customer in the planning process helps them take ownership over your transaction.

4. Ask, "What would you change about...?"

This works well when you're trying to lure a customer away from the competition. Identifying where their dissatisfaction lies and providing stellar results in that particular area will make you their hero.

5. Ask, "Are there any other factors that...?"

Make sure you've got everything covered. This catch-all question can uncover the most left-field, unexpected concerns that your customer has, which they might otherwise never tell you about.

6. Ask, "How are you currently...?"

What is their current solution?

And more importantly, why is that?

The answers to these open-ended questions can foster trust in you as their advisor, because you're showing sincerity when you ask about their issues, their problems, and their concerns.

You can learn more about Open-Ended Questions, asnd their effectiveness in making you stand out from the crowd, in the webinar "Differentiate or Die."

Replacements For 6 Clueless Sales Sayings

replacements2

Last night, I was enjoying my favorite summer TV show, "America's Got Talent," on Hulu. A leather-clad dance crew with fire spewing shoes finished their clogging routine and the show cut to a commercial break. But instead of seeing the Ford "Speed Dating" commercial that I've just about memorized, the video player went completely black except for a small strip of text that read, "Something went wrong trying to play this advertisement. Click here to fix it." Really? You want me to fix your video player so I can watch more ads? Not even if you sent me a pair of fire spewing shoes! "Hulu, you have no clue."

The senselessness of Hulu's message would be the same as a salesperson approaching a potential customer at a networking event and whispering, "I have laryngitis. Here's my brochure. Would you mind reading my sales pitch out loud so I can save my voice?"

Ridiculous, right? Actually, it's not that far from the clueless expressions salespeople use with customers every day. The classic is: "I'm just checking in to see if you have any questions." (You've never done this, right?)

The worst thing about clueless messages isn't that they don't yield responses. It results in your customers losing respect for you and saying to themselves the same thing I did about Hulu. "Salesperson, you have no clue." It doesn't just trash the sale - it tarnishes your reputation.

It's time to replace the senseless utterances salespeople use so frequently with response-getting, respect-building, relationship-advancing articulations that help you make sales.

Let's start with the one I bashed above:

Clueless Saying #1: "I'm just checking in to see if you have any questions."

Why it's clueless: It's a smokescreen anyone can see through. You have to admit you don't really care if they have questions. You're just tired of waiting for them to respond.

Here's the clue: If you've built rapport, given value first, and truly left them wanting to buy, then you can keep it honest, simple, friendly, and confident.

Replacement: "Can I get an update?"

Clueless Saying #2: "Is there anything else I can do to win your business?"

Why it's clueless: It's an admission that you haven't inspired enough trust for the customer to level with you about their real reason for not wanting to buy.

Here's the clue: If your customer is hesitating and you feel there is some barrier you haven't uncovered and removed yet, ask an empowering question that invites them to create a "perfect world" scenario. Often, they'll reveal their hidden reservations, giving you the chance to provide ideas and answers that will help close the sale.

Replacement: "What one thing would you change about our product that would make it close to perfect?"

Clueless Saying #3: "Do you know what we do?"

Why it's clueless: A favorite opener at trade shows and networking events, this question is really a confession that you're probably not well-known. Bad way to start. But it's popular because it's an easy way to open a conversation with a stranger. The problem is that it puts the customer in an awkward position. 9 times out of 10, they'll respond, "No, I've never heard of you."

Here's the clue: The replacement for this one is simply to turn it around. It seems obvious, but very few salespeople ever ask it.

Replacements: "Tell me what you do." or "What business are you in?"

Clueless Saying #4: "Thanks again."

Why it's clueless: This is how all mediocre salespeople end their follow-up emails after initial meetings with customers. It's using false politeness in the hopes that gratitude will gain you favor. It's what you say to your plumber for removing the knee-high septic backup in your basement - not a customer.

Here's the clue: Customers don't want to be drenched in gratitude. They want you to help them make more money and be successful. Nix the hyper-thankfulness. Instead, end your emails with a confident question that keeps the conversation moving, or just ask for the sale.

Replacements: 

"What's the next step?"

"When can you meet again?"

"What details need to be squared away?"

"Your thoughts?"

"How does that sound?"

"Ready to get started?"

"Fair enough?"

Clueless Saying #5: "Are you still interested?"

Why it's clueless: You already know the answer and it's "no." If they were truly interested they would have contacted you. Silent prospects are either not interested at all or more interested in something else.

Here's the clue: A better strategy is to give them new informaton or fresh ideas to consider.

Replacement: "Here's a new idea for you. Take a look and let me know what you think."

Clueless Saying #6: "Great to meet you. I'll give you a call."

Why it's clueless: The majority of salespeople use this expression to close a conversation with a new contact, but it's as meaningless as the standard greeting "How are you?" Essentially, it translates to: "We'll probably never talk again."

Here's the clue: Say goodbye to new contacts by giving them something to chew on. Challenge them. Leave them with a cliffhanger. Set them up for your next meeting in style.

Replacements: 

"When I follow up with you tomorrow, I want your answer to this question..."

"I'm going to contact you very soon - be thinking about this..."

"If I could help you do [x], how much more [y] would you have? I'll call for your answer."

"I have a riddle for you. See if you can answer it before I follow up."

"When I follow up, be prepared to talk about yourself and hear specific ideas about how I can help you."

I challenge you to examine your entire sales process for meaningless messages. Remove them. Replace them with something valuable that differentiates you and continues the pattern of intelligence and providing answers.

It would have been so much better if Hulu had just said, "Something went wrong trying to play this advertisement. Congratulations! This commercial "break" is sponsored by Ford."

Maybe you have another Clueless Sales Saying or a better replacement than mine. Add your comment below!

Become A 'Why'se Guy

whyse-guy-questions-based-selling

Next time, at a networking event, hotel lobby, airport, or anywhere prospective customers roam, try opening the conversation with a 'why'  question. Sometimes, you don't have time to waste on small talk. 'Why' questions help you open conversations quickly.

Why are you here today? Why are you sitting there alone? Why did you buy that iPad? Why did you choose that title for yourself? Why do work for Acme Insurance? Why did you get into marketing?

Bold by nature, 'why' questions lead to 'reason' answers, which are often more meaty than what you get back from 'how' or 'what' questions. 'Why' questions are excellent for building real connections quickly. And connections, as we all know, can lead to sales.

Need any more reasons to try a 'why' question? How about, "why not?"