self marketing

How Slanted Is Your View of Customer Loyalty?

slant3.jpg

Rank the following in terms of what drives the highest level of customer loyalty:

Price, Product, Process, People

Most companies and people in sales behave as though Price comes first and People are last.

Here's how they look at it:

1. Price: Customers care first and foremost about our price. Therefore marketing must center around sales and discounts. Likewise, selling depends on sacrificing margins, therefore we'll adjust the sales plan.

2. Product: After price, customers want bells, whistles, quality, choice, and customization. Competitors are advancing their products through R&D and so must we!

3. Process: If price is low and our products are good, customers will put up with our crappy website, slow delivery, computerized phone system, and 10 page invoices. After all, we don't have time or the money to improve how we do business right now.

4. People: We say it's our people that make us great, but truthfully our turnover is high, our salaries are low, our expertise is lower, and our training is non-existent. We're ultimately focused on a few people - our stakeholders - who exhaust us with their demands for higher productivity, longer hours, and lower prices.

Have you witnessed this kind of backwards thinking? How about in your own thinking?

I'm a self-marketer. I believe in the power of the individual to create a steel-braided bond of customer loyalty. Customers, whether they're aware of it or not, seek out professionals they believe in and become loyal to. Empowered, honest, smart, likable salespeople are a sign of a great company. When a buyer finds their person, they trust that all the other "P's" will eventually follow, fall in line, or fail to matter.

The true hierarchy of customer loyalty is:

1. People: Where I go, my customers follow because they know I'm committed to excellence. My dedication, expertise and our friendship will be the last things that fail them.

2. Process: Our products may not fit everyone, but they're easy to evaluate, try, buy, and they're delivered on time. High experience. Low frustration. Customers build their processes around ours.

3. Product: We may not have the widest features or selection, but we believe in our products and we're fully trained to answer any question and offer custom ideas for everything we sell.

4. Price: We're not the lowest, because our value is the highest. Our customers agree, we've earned our high margins and they don't mind paying them. Not everyone can afford us, but they wish they could.

At the beginning, notice I didn't say companies necessarily "believe" that people come last in building customer loyalty. They "behave" as though they do. Big difference. If you read their brochures, small, medium, and big companies all boast that their people are their strength. But by focusing on price and not the customer's experience through their people and their processes, they prove they're just like the rest - low value commodities. When your people are invaluable consultants and your processes become the industry standard that make life easy, customers find a way to afford you.

Final note: What about companies who say their industry has been commoditized and no matter what they do customers will always buy low price? There are 2 responses to this:

1. When a possibility has never been witnessed, impossibility is assumed. Just because you've never seen anyone in your "commodity" business rise above the price wars to command a margin and establish loyalty doesn't mean it can't be done. PC's are considered a commodity, but Apple still leads PC sales with high margin laptops. Their prices are the highest, their products are great but don't do everything, buying through their website and retail stores is the industry standard, and their top execs are household names. Zappos became one of the greatest success stories in the online "commodity" apparel world because of their easy return process and world class customer support. Stop blaming the impossible. Be the first in your industry.

2. If your industry is so locked up in regulation and limitation that the human side and relationship opportunity have all but been removed as factors, I challenge you that it may be time to consider changing industries. Price wars drain the joy of serving, the pride of being the best, and your natural need to be useful and make a difference. Sometimes, the grass IS greener on the other side.

How do you look at it?

Let's open the discussion. Agree? Add your insight. Disagree? Challenge my model with your comments below. You can be sure I'll respond.

Want to agree or disagree with me more? Sure you do! Follow me on Twitter

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!

 

Momentum: The Product of Mental Muscle

momentum

"Momentum is generated by exercising mental muscle." @andyhorner

This Sunday, the Ravens and the 49ers will attempt to crush their opponent with a combination of plays that will swell to an overwhelming force.

This is called game-winning momentum. Once a team catches fire, the opposing team is in deep trouble.

Do you know how to create momentum with your business, in your industry, against your competitors? Have you caught fire yet?

If not, you're far from alone.

There are 32 teams in the NFL. Only 2 will play for the title on Sunday.

I can't tell you how to win the Big Game in your industry or with your business, but I can break down the mental skills you'll need to create game-winning momentum.

First, momentum is born out the unwavering belief that you CAN win. It swells with the force of mental determination. It rises to powerful heights with focus. Finally, with stalwart execution, it crushes its goal and washes away the threat of defeat.

Here's your game plan for creating your game-winning momentum:

Belief. Determination. Focus. Execution.

BELIEF: I start every year with a two week kickstart project. This year, I committed to building my own video studio. I completed it last Monday! Now I can record professional quality video content for my customers as a core part of my 2013 business strategy.

Like most people, I didn't have the first clue how to create a video studio. But like The Little Engine, I believed I could. Self-belief is far more vital than know-how.

Two behaviors to foster your self-belief:

1. Disbelief of the Opposite: For me, the idea of not completing my video studio did not exist. Self-doubt is the great killer of momentum. It's what causes fumbles on the 10 yard line. You must only consider and imagine one outcome - victory.

2. Repetition: Once you've discounted failure, your germ of belief must be reinforced by repeating to yourself that you can do it! Sharpie it on your bathroom mirror. Set it as your phone's lock screen. Tattoo it on your knuckles.

DETERMINATION: It may appear synonymous to having focus, but it's very different. Focus is the control over the actions needed to complete a task. Determination is the control over the will needed to complete a task.

Determination is your stalwart resolve.

Building momentum requires tremendous power, like the boosters needed to lift a space shuttle off the pad. You'll be tired. You'll ache. You'll be told you can't. Mental determination is the fortitude to heave forward against all forces.

How do you develop mental determination? Like any skill, it can be strengthened.

How? The same way muscles grow! You start light. Your mental muscles get torn, hurt, then heal stronger. As you increase the weight, you eventually get "ripped."

Your determination training plan - Start with a task that..

1. Is out of your comfort zone

2. Has a clearly defined goal

3. Is challenging but not impossible

4. You can accomplish with a friend

5. Scares you (the one's you grow from the most!)

If you push yourself to level up with each accomplishment, you'll have new will power muscles to flex. Your mental determination will mature and grow strong.

FOCUS: Your self-belief got you to the Big Game and your determination is ripped and ready. But if you don't have the concentration required to win, you may suffer the heart-wrencher of going home without the trophy. In pro sports, the momentum, the game, the purse, and the dream are lost at the same time as the team's focus. The same is true in business.

4 tips for retaining focus:

1. Write your game plan down - so you never lose sight of your strategy

2. Keep doing what works - don't change your 3rd quarter strategy unnecessarily

3. Make minor shifts - if the game changes, flexibility may be required

4. Stick to your original objective - avoid project bloat by simply saying "no"

5. Write your outcome down - so you never lose sight of the finish line

EXECUTION: About this time in 2006, American cross racing snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis had a comfortable lead and was moments from claiming the gold medal in the XX Olympic games in Turin, Italy. As she sailed off one of the final jumps on the bump-filled course, she celebrated early with a trick called a "method air." She lost her balance upon landing and wiped out. Lindsey recovered, but not before Switzerland's Tanja Frieden passed her to win gold. Lindsey stood embarrassed on the silver platform as the Swiss anthem played.

Execution is the carrying out of a plan. You may have the self-belief, determination, and focus to win, but if you veer from the plan and fail to follow through, you too may fall.

6 blunders that end in execution wipe outs:

1. Cockiness - no trash talking or hot dogging, self-conceit becomes self-defeat

2. Assumptions - make only one, things will never go as planned

3. Trusting in your lead - just like Avis, your competition will try harder

4. Finishing weak - at the end of the game double your efforts to finish strong

5. Allow for luck - the Swiss snowboarder got lucky, thanks to Lindsey

6. Celebrating early - save the back-patting until you're wearing the gold medal...

...or the Super Bowl ring.

Momentum is how most games and many business successes are won. But make no mistake, momentum isn't something you chance upon. It's the product of mental muscle that you create with self-belief, strengthen with determination, maintain with focus, and drive to the end zone with execution to help you win YOUR Big Game!

Printed Cards: Returning Soon!

cardsplash2

We've been working very hard on the new Printed Card feature. The new system is now being fine-tuned and tested to deliver as smooth an experience as possible. We want everyone to have a ton of fun sending these cards!

New features you'll love:

• Uploading your custom designs

• Adding personalization

• Friendly rounded corners option

• Higher quality printing

• Adding your portrait to the design

There are two new card templates. The more affordable mini-greeting cards and mini-postcards (they're both really cute).

Prices for the Greeting Cards will drop dramatically.

The Full-Size Postcards will increase a hair due to higher printing costs.

We're happy with the pricing we can offer on both the new mini-cards.

Gift cards will be back!

However, because of their lack of popularity, the Business Card Greeting Card with the 2 perforated cards will not return.

You'll be able to send the cards from your mobile devices too! The interface will be very similar to how you send emails now, so hopefully the learning curve will be quick and easy.

We're very excited for you to start using them to your customer!

So... when can you expect the Printed Cards to return? We're getting very close, but there are still pieces to finish. Our goal is to launch them in January... or by the latest, February. It's very difficult to predict until we get very close. What I can promise is that Printed Cards in the new mobile-friendly editor will be our next deliverable to you and we're working on them as fast was we can.

We'll keep you updated right here on the blog as we get close to having an exact date for you!

Until then, I'd love to hear from you how you use the Printed Cards before or would like to use them once we have them back in your hands.

full Size Greeting Card
full Size Greeting Card
fullsize postcard
fullsize postcard
mini greeting card
mini greeting card
Mini-Postcard
Mini-Postcard

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.

Track Andy’s Kickstart Project: Simple Video Studio

bigstudio3

Last week, I kicked off my year with my New Year's Kickstart (I swore off resolutions years ago). Many of you did the same as I challenged you to join me. A New Year's Kickstart is a 2 week project to ignite your strategy and momentum for the year. I have so many ideas I want to share with you and face to face is the best way I know how. With that in mind, I decided to build my own Simple Video Studio, where I can record professional quality videos for you!

Rather than building an elaborate, state of the art studio, my goal is to build a studio you could replicate if you want to do the same for your customers. A $25,000 studio isn't realistic for most people, so I'm shooting to spend less than $1,000!

Can it be done? I'm giving it my best effort.

I'm using Wistia's blog as a reference point. They're video masters. We use them at Ace of Sales for all our video hosting.

Check out this video by Wistia on how to build a down and dirty lighting set up. I'll be using it as my lighting template!

mic-ap
mic-ap

My camera will be my iPhone 5 and my microphone will be my USB Apogee MiC ($199) I use for webinars.

With 1 week to go before my deadline on Jan 21 (my birthday), I'll continue to update my progress for you:

Tuesday, Jan 8th I researched and priced out everything I'll need to build my studio.

Wednesday, Jan 9th I visited Amazon and Home Depot and bought:

• Light stands (2) • Clip lights (3) • Day light bulbs (40 watt, 60 watt, 100 watt) • Backdrop stand • Backdrop material • Camera tripod • Camera mount for tripod • Boom mic stand • Boom mic clip • USB to Lighting Adapter to plug my Apogee MiC directly into my iPhone 5 • Extension USB cord (to go from my phone to the boom stand) • Extension cords for the lights.

All for just less than $500. Add my Apogee MiC to that, and I'm currently under $700.

Quick progress report w/ my shopping buddy (Wistia's Down & Dirty Lighting Video):

* I was out of town for the 10-11th *

Saturday, Jan 12th I started assembling my gear which had now arrived in the mail from Amazon. I chose my unfinished basement for my studio location. Why? Because most of my customers don't have space at work to set up their own studio.

Also, I bought a 6'x8' carpet remnant from Home Depot - to help define the space and make it a bit more cozy.

Wednesday, Jan 16th I've finished assembling my Simple Video Studio in my basement! Now to start shooting some test footage. Less than a week left. Hope your Kickstart is rolling along...

Saturday, Jan 19th Test runs with the new video studio set up with my boys! Tweaking lighting and audio. (Their first recordings smoked mine!)

kids
kids

Sunday, Jan 20th Recorded first video! I'll be sharing it with you on Jan 29th and announcing The Champs of the New Year's Kickstart Challenge!

andy-horner-video-done
andy-horner-video-done

I'm DONE! I hope you are too! Congrats to everyone who finished on time. My 2 Champs will be announced here within my first edited video using my new Simple Video Studio on Jan 29th after the 2nd deadline (Jan 28th).

2nd Annual New Year's Kickstart Challenge!

Deadline over

UPDATE: New Year's Kickstart Challenge 2013 deadlines are up! Champs to be announced soon!

UPDATE (Mon Jan 29): At noon today (Jan 28) it's pens down for all Jan 28th deadline submissions. Email your entry, a link to your entry, or details about your entry to me at andyhorner@aceofsales.com.

UPDATE (Mon Jan 21): At noon today (Jan 21) it's pens down - you're done for our Jan 21st deadline submissions. Email your entry, a link to your entry, or details about your entry to me at andyhorner@aceofsales.com. Did I finish on time?! Check it out here

UPDATE (Sat Jan 19): Over a dozen submissions have been sent in. Way to go, guys and gals!

UPDATE: There are still many people who would love to join this Challenge but are just now hearing about it! Therefore, I've made an update to offer 2 deadlines, 2 champs, and 2 prizes! Read the "Do it with me!" section below to see the changes...

---

I'm the only person I know who has ever kept a New Year's Resolution. That's because a while ago I made a resolution to never again make a New Year's Resolution.

(Read last year's New Year's Kickstart Challenge post)

Instead of a resolution, each year I commit to a New Year's Kickstart!

And I want you to join me!

Here's the idea You start your year off with a big success by completing a relatively quick turnaround project that you've been putting off. It could be a website, blog, newsletter, new mini-business, or a presentation or webinar you've been wanting to complete.

It's Your Spark Plug Whatever your project, your New Year's Kickstart should be the spark that ignites your bigger picture strategy for the year.

Difficulty: Hard For your project, it's best to choose something that will push you. Get out of your comfort zone! But avoid a challenge that's too grandiose. I don't want your Kickstart to end in a New Year's Frustration.

Done in 2 Weeks It should be something you can knock out quickly. One of the reasons New Year's Resolutions fail is that the commitment, like losing weight, takes too long to yield results. (If you haven't noticed, we're kind of an instant-gratification world now.)

I like the 2 week mark. It's enough time to get most projects finished. It's short enough to maintain focus. And it means you begin your year with an achievement to fuel you.

Last Year My New Year's Kickstart project in 2012 was to launch my personal website and develop my own personal logo. I did it! Check it out at andyhorner.com. It gave me a huge slingshot effect for the entire year. I received compliments and a number of subscribers.

Ugh! However, about the middle part of the year, I stopped updating it because other projects took my time. I hate that I haven't kept it up and I've lost momentum, readers, and activity as a result.

This Year This year, I want to relaunch andyhorner.com, with a renewed focus on content and value I want to personally offer to my readers and followers. However, that WILL NOT be my New Year's Kickstart project.

2 Reasons Why 1. Because my strategy for this year is to offer more value and services to Ace of Sales customers first. (Not my personal followers first.) 2. Because I always want my New Year's Kickstart to be something new and challenging for me. (More of a personal thing, than a recommendation.)

My 2013 New Year's Kickstart Project! This year, my Kickstart project is to build a simple video studio that I can use to create more engaging content for Ace of Sales customers. Nothing too fancy or extravagant. I want to use tools and techniques anyone else can copy. However, I want the video quality to be professional - that's key!

Simple Video Studio.

That's it. I have 2 weeks.

I'll document my progress for you as I go.

I'm challenged. Are you?

Do it with me! Last year, I challenged YOU to join my little movement to trade your Resolution for a Kickstart with my first ever "New Year's Kickstart Challenge!" We had a winner and a prize!

So here you go! My 2nd annual New Year's Kickstart Challenge begins NOW!

I'll pick 2 Champs!

Champ 1, Prize 1 - Finish by Monday, January 21st: Complete your Kickstart project and email me the details by 12PM EST (noon) on January 21st. I'll choose one Champ to receive a free year of Ace of Sales, a complete signed set of Jeffrey Gitomer's books, AND a 90 day pass to Jeffrey's and my "Sales Success Webinar Series." My Kickstart Project - my Simple Video Studio - will be done by the 21st - track it here.

Champ 2, Prize 2 - Finish by Monday, January 28th: Complete your Kickstart project and email me the details by 12PM EST (noon) on January 28th. I'll choose one Champ to receive a free year of Ace of Sales and a complete signed set of Jeffrey Gitomer's books. (If you originally committed to the 21st but have been procrastinating, here's your reprieve!)

The criteria: How will I pick the Champs? Your project has to be business related. The winner will be chosen by me on purely subjective terms. In other words, which ever one makes me smile the widest. (Both Champs will be acknowledged here on the Ace of Sales blog by name AND their projects will be highlighted!)

Who can enter: Anyone! (Not just Ace of Sales customers.)

How to enter: First, commit to The Challenge in the comments below by stating your New Year's Kickstart project.

Then, send me an email (andyhorner@aceofsales.com) by 12PM EST (noon) on January 21, 2013 to be crowned Champ 1 or by 12 PM EST (noon) on January 28th, 2013 to be crowned Champ 2.

Your email must include an attachment or link to show me your completed project or a detailed description of it. In your email, tell me all about why you chose the project, your strategy behind it, and what you hope it will do for you. (I love the juicy details.)

I'll be announcing the completion of my New Year's Kickstart Project and both Champs the afternoon of January 28th.

Who will be The Champs of my 2nd Annual New Year's Kickstart Challenge!

I'm pulling for YOU!

Follow me on Twitter @andyhorner to keep track of my progress and ideas for you.

Don't forget to add your project description below. It's your commitment to yourself to get it done...

Wake Up - It's the Holidays! Tons of New Customer Smile-Inducing Designs Just Added

merrychristmaswreath

Dozens of new designs added for the holidays! Customize them to make them your own - or start from scratch and design one yourself. From classy and sweet to nutty and neat, there's something for every taste and personality. Send one of our original designs created exclusively for business. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow... memorable emails for all your contacts this holiday season.

Don't have an account yet? Everyone can sign up and try Ace of Sales 30 days free.

holiday designsblog
holiday designsblog

The 50 Sales & Marketing Masters You Must Follow on Twitter

50-to-follow

Who should you follow on Twitter?

If you're looking for people to follow on Twitter who excel at sales and self-marketing, we've compiled this list of 50 of the most influential self-marketers on Twitter.

 1. Sally Hogshead

 

@SallyHogshead

Author of FASCINATE, creator of the Fascination Advantage™ personality test at HowToFascinate.com. http://www.SallyHogshead.com

 

 

2. Keith Ferrazzi

 

@KeithFerrazzi

Thought leader. Relationship Guru. Consultant. Author of “Never Eat Alone" and “Who’s got Your Back." http://www.keithferrazzi.com

 

 

3. S. Anthony Iannarino

 

@iannarino

Catalyst. Instigator. Agitator.

http://www.thesalesblog.com

 

 

4. Mari Smith

 

 

@marismith

Leading Social Media Strategist, Speaker, Author | Premier Facebook Marketing Expert http://marismith.com/top5

 

 

5. Ali Brown

 

 

@alibrown

Entrepreneur, mentor, & philanthropist helping women around the world start and grow businesses to live their best lives. http://www.alibrown.com

 

 

6. Jeffrey Gitomer

 

 

@gitomer

king of sales, dad, granddad, writer, friend.

http://www.gitomer.com

 

 

7.  Andy Horner

 

 

@andyhorner

Ace of Sales CEO (www.aceofsales.com), Marketing and Brand Consultant, Spokesperson for Originality http://www.andyhorner.com

 

 

8. Dale Carnegie

 

 

@dalecarnegie

Dale Carnegie Training – Leadership Training, Sales Management, Communication Skills http://www.dalecarnegie.com

 

 

9. Harvey Mackay

 

@harveymackay

Official Twitter - NY Times #1 BestSelling Author of Swim With The Sharks. Sports Nut, Father, Grandfather, Husband. http://harveymackay.com

 

 

10. Robert Terson

 

@robertterson

Master Salesman and Motivator, Author and Speaker.

http://sellingfearlessly.com/

 

 

11. Ian Brodie

 

@ianbrodie

Straight talking marketing advice for consultants and coaches. Blogger, speaker, budding author. http://www.ianbrodie.com

 

 

12. Dan Waldschmidt

 

@DanWaldo

an ordinary dude with an outrageous vision…

http://www.EdgyConversations.com

 

 

13. Doug Davidoff

 

@dougdavidoff

Reinventing the way companies sell, so you look forward to the words, The salesperson is here to see you. Vistage/EO speaker. http://www.thefastgrowthblog.com

 

 

14.  Jennifer Abernethy

 

@saleslounge

Social Business Marketing Stylist Multi-Million $ expert. Author: Idiot's Guide to Social Media Marketing 2010. http://www.thesaleslounge.com/

 

 

15. SalesDog

 

@salesdog

Sales and Marketing advice. Money and Motivation. Ideas and Answers. Entertaining weekly Sales newsletter. http://www.salesdog.com

 

 

16. Nancy Nardin

 

@sellingtools

We are a content development & advisory firm specializing in sales productivity tools & advanced selling strategies. http://www.smartsellingtools.com/blog

 

 

 17. Jill Konrath

 

@jillkonrath

Fresh strategies for selling to crazy-busy people; author of SNAP Selling (#1 Amazon sales) & Selling to Big Companies. http://www.jillkonrath.com/sales-resources/

 

 

18. Andy Paul

 

@zerotimeselling

Author of Zero-Time Selling. Leading expert on the speed of selling and the strategies, tactics and processes to make it happen. http://www.zerotimeselling.com

 

 

19. David A Brock

 

@davidabrock

Passionate about helping sales and business professionals achieve extraordinary goals.

http://partnersinexcellenceblog.com

 

 

20. Frank Rumbauskas

 

@frankrumbauskas

Author of the breakthrough best-seller Never Cold Call Again

http://www.nevercoldcall.com

 

 

21. Brad Sugars

 

@actioncoachceo

Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH CEO. Find or become a business coach at ActionCOACH.com. http://www.bradsugars.com

 

 

22. Joanne Black

 

@referralsales

America's Authority On Referral Selling

http://www.nomorecoldcalling.com

 

 

23. Sam Richter

 

@samrichter

Award-winning author of Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling; world-renowned speaker; Know More! founder and CEO. http://www.samrichter.com

 

 

24. Marcus Sheridan

 

@thesaleslion

Passionately writing about all things inbound & content marketing, business, & life success principles. http://www.TheSalesLion.com

 

 

25. Melinda Emerson

 

@smallbizlady

Forbes #1 Influential Woman for Entrepreneurs, Host #SmallBizChat, Author Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com

 

 

26. Paul McCord

 

@paul_mccord

Trainer & author teaching sales teams, biz owners & professionals how to find & connect w/ great prospects. http://www.dynamicsalesgrowth.com

 

 

27. Miles Austin

 

@milesaustin

The Web Tools Guy. Sales & Marketing Technologist, speaking & writing on web tools that improve business. http://www.fillthefunnel.com

 

 

28. Shameless Shamus

 

@shamelessshamus

Shameless Salesman, Persuader, and Covert Influencer. Master Sales Coach and Consultant. Insightful and irreverent sales advice. http://shamelesssalesblog.com/

 

 

29. Lori Richardson

 

@scoremoresales

Never confuse activity w/ accomplishment. Love seeing b2b sales reps hit quota! (& love coffee) Sales blogger. http://www.scoremoresales.com

 

 

30. Gerhard Gschwandtner

 

@gerhard20

Founder of Selling Power magazine and host of the Sales 2.0 Conference. Passionate about advancing the Sales 2.0 conversation. http://www.sellingpower.com

 

 

31. Brian Vellmure

 

@BrianVellmure

Executive, Analyst, Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Writer and Blogger. http://www.brianvellmure.com

 

 

32. ZoomInfo

 

@ZoomInfo

The only multi-sourced, continuously-updated business information database available. 6m companies, 65m professionals. http://www.zoominfo.com

 

 

33. Jim Keenan

 

@keenan

Sr. Partner, A Sales Guy Consulting. Professional Ski Instructor (aka Ski Bum) Dad of 3 crazy, in a good way, girls. http://www.asalesguy.com

 

 

34. Mark Hunter

 

@TheSalesHunter

Sales motivation tips and proven sales training techniques to help you increase sales, profitably http://www.TheSalesHunter.com

 

 

35.  Sharon Drew Morgen

 

@sharondrew

Visionary, change management, coach, consultant, sales guru. Developer of Buying Facilitation™, a decision facilitation method. http://sharondrewmorgen.com

 

 

36. Tom Searcy

 

@tomsearcy

Author of RFPS SUCK! and WHALE HUNTING, big deal hunter, teacher, keynote speaker, blogger, leader & Vistage speaker. http://www.huntbigsales.com

 

 

37. Gavin Ingham

 

@gaviningham

Sales author, motivational speaker & seminar leader.

http://www.gaviningham.com/blog/

 

 

38. Alen Mayer, CSP

 @mayeralen

Canadian Sales Expert, Trainer and Author; Certified Advanced NLP Sales Specialist. To know is to sell. http://www.alenmayer.com/

 

 

39. Chad Levitt

 

@chadalevitt

Sales Rep on the front line of innovation @hubspot | Author of the New Sales Economy blog | Modern Sales & Marketing Strategist http://www.newsaleseconomy.com

 

 

 40. drjimanderson

 

@drjimanderson

Soft Skills For Tech Folks: Negotiating, Product Mgmt, Public Speaking, CIO Skills; Consultant, Speaker, Coach, and Trainer http://www.BlueElephantConsulting.com

 

 

41. MediaSalesToday

 

@MediaSalesToday

Insights and Ideas for Media Sales Professionals. Sponsored by @admall and @salestouchcrm http://www.mediasalestoday.com

 

 

42. Kristin Zhivago

 

@KristinZhivago

Revenue Coach (Zhivago.com); author (RoadmapToRevenue.com); blogger (RevenueJournal.com); http://www.revenuejournal.com

 

 

43. Donal Daly

 

@dealmaker365

Exploring the Sales 2.0 landscape.

http://www.dealmaker365.com

 

 

44. Craig Elias

 

@CraigElias

Creator of Trigger Event Selling™, $1,000,000 prize winner in Billion Dollar Idea Competition, Dadpreneur http://www.ShiftSelling.com

 

 

45. Talking Media Sales

 

@TalkMediaSales

Talking Media Sales is the ultimate resource for direct sales people across all forms of media. http://talkingmediasales.com

 

 

46. Josiane Feigon

 

@JosianeFeigon

CEO of TeleSmart, Bestselling author of Smart Selling on the Phone and Online Inside sales futurist http://www.tele-smart.com

 

 

47. Mark Suster

 

@msuster

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs http://bothsid.es

 

 

48. Charles H. Green

 

@CharlesHGreen

The Trusted Advisor and Trusted Advisor Fieldbook co-author; Trust-based Selling author; speaker, trainer, coach. http://www.trustedadvisor.com

 

 

49. Paul Williams

 

@IdeaSandbox

Remarkable marketer at Idea Sandbox. Delivering creativity and innovation by the sandbox-ful. http://idea-sandbox.com/twitter/

 

 

50. Ace of Sales

 

@aceofsales

Make sales, close deals & build loyal relationships. Ace of Sales helps you attract, engage, differentiate, thank, stay in touch & WOW your customers! http://blog.aceofsales.com

 

 Who did we miss?

Is there anyone you think should have been included in this list? Leave a comment below with some Twitter handles!

New Mobile-Friendly Email Editor is Here!

email-editor-here

Dear Ace of Sales Customer, This past weekend (Oct 19-21), your account was updated with a completely redesigned email editor that gives you many of the features and options you've been requesting and voting for. There's nothing for you to download or install – all the new stuff is already in your account ready to go!

The most anticipated feature, no doubt, is that Ace of Sales is now Flash-free and mobile-friendly! Our new interface is designed for touch and now works on almost all mobile devices – all iPhones, iPads, Android phones/tablets, and Windows mobile phones/tablets.

But there's so much more to this upgrade than being mobile-friendly.

The new email editor upgrade also includes:

  • All new, 1 screen interface with up to 10X faster performance
  • Sending to multiple groups at once
  • Auto-complete when adding contacts
  • Auto-save while composing
  • Scheduling emails on the fly
  • Adding new contacts on the fly
  • Switching profiles on the fly
  • More customization options
  • True Cc/Bcc options when sending emails to individuals
  • View-in-browser and webpage link options
  • Better email templates with higher deliverability
  • Improved “Send a Test" capabilities
  • Uploading images from your iPad/iPhone photo galleries
  • And much more

The biggest questions for you are:

Q: How do you learn how to use the new interface quickly?

A: I will train you.

This week, we're offering 11 webinar demo sessions with live Q&A. If you can't make a scheduled sesson, just visit this blog post to watch my video recording of the demo at your convenience and add your questions to the comments area to get an answer.

Links to register and attend our half hour webinar demo sessions for this week (Mon, Oct 22 - Fri, Oct 26):

All sessions are in EDT - Eastern Daylight Time (New York)

Mon, Oct 22 @ 11AM / 3PM

Tues, Oct 23 @ 9AM / 2PM / 5PM

Wed, Oct 24 @ 1PM / 5PM

Thur, Oct 25 @ 11AM / 3PM

Fri, Oct 26 @ 10AM / 1PM

Q: What if you have a question or problem with the upgrade?

A: Contact our support team via email (support@aceofsales.com) or phone: 800-865-7496.

They're excited about helping everyone get up to speed on these new features and start putting them to use!

Q: What if you find a bug?

A: Use the red "Feedback" tab at the bottom left of your main Ace of Sales screen.

Type in a quick description of the bug and we'll squash it as quickly as our engineers can swing their rolled up magazines. You can follow our developers and release info on our status Twitter account.

Q: What if you don't see the feature you wanted?

A: This upgrade is just the beginning of an aggressive series of updates to your account.

Search our suggested features area using the red "Feedback" tab at the bottom left of your main Ace of Sales screen. You can see the features we have in the works and planned. If you find that someone else has already suggested the feature you want, vote for it! If you don't see your suggested feature, add it as a new recommendation. If enough people vote for your suggestion, it's highly likely we'll make it an upcoming priority.

Throughout the coming weeks, I'll have loads more information and help to share with you regarding the new email editor upgrade. Stay tuned!

- Andy

---

Andy Horner, CEO, Ace of Sales

Need help? Email our support team or call us: 800-865-7496.

The First Presidential Debate: Who Really Lost?

debate3

This past week we saw the first of three presidential debates. The consensus was that Governor Mitt Romney, who was engaged and prepared, defeated President Barack Obama, who many described as "checked out." Other media and entertainment voices jested that moderator Lehrer was the biggest loser due to his inability to guide questioning and hold the candidates to time constraints. The real loser, however, wasn't Obama, Lehrer, or even Big Bird. It was you – the voter.

As a student and believer in sales, marketing, and branding, I never grow desensitized to the offensive and repulsive "sales tactics" used by political campaigns. Mudslinging. Attack ads. White-toothed lies. Empty promises. But this year – in the week leading up to the first debate – I became reviled by a tactic I'd never noticed before: Debate Expectation Management.

Ugh! What a detestable term – and strategy! Debate expectation management is a ploy used by political campaigns to prepare voters for an underwhelming performance by their candidate. By lowering voter expectations, the campaign is hedging their bets. The strategy works like this: if their candidate loses, no one is surprised, the media has no big news, and voters won't pay the debate much attention. Alternatively, if their candidate wins the debate, they can hail him as the Cinderella champion in the hopes of generating bold headlines, voter attraction, and a bump in the polls.

Here are a couple of examples of how each side managed expectations leading up to last week's debate:

Romney's aide, Beth Meyers, hedged that, "President Obama is a uniquely gifted speaker, and is widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history."

Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, explained, "I mean, if you just look at the assessment of the debates in 2008, that Barack Obama became the nominee of his party, in some ways in spite of his debate performances, and Mitt Romney became the nominee of his party because of them."

Imagine if Apple followed the same PR strategy of lowering expectations with the launch of the iPhone 5. "There are phones on the market, like those by Samsung, that are widely regarded as the most incredible communication devices in modern history, but hopefully the new iPhone 5 will do well, in spite of how our crappy new maps app performs." It would be the worst selling Apple product ever.

Why don't press people for the candidates instead say, "He is prepared and excited to state his plan and commitment to serve the people of this great nation. Regardless of whether the media claims him the winner or loser of the debate, our candidate will be honest, passionate, and grateful for this chance to speak to each voter."

During this time of year when fanatic football fans paint their bodies with team colors and Apple cultists camp out in lines for the next big device, the presidential candidates have the opportunity to run a campaign that sets high expectations for voters and themselves. Instead, I've only observed two campaigns spending hundreds of millions of dollars to "sell" me that their candidate is not the worse man for the job.

What about you and your business? Do you put your heart and soul into your products and services so you can set expectations high and then exceed them? Or do you have to manage customer expectations so they won't be too disappointed if you and your product underperforms?

Will you shoot to be the greatest in the world at what you do, or will you stoop to mudslinging with your competitors in the hopes that customers will choose you as the least worst option?

The path of hedging with low expectations leads undecided customers to seek any reason to choose someone else. The path of exceeding high expectations leads to customer loyalty and a lasting legacy.

--

Did you pick up on this? Do you agree? Disagree? Add your comment below. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter for more of my ideas on sales, marketing, and branding. - Andy Horner

The New Email Newsletter Design

emainewsletterheader

An Email Newsletter designed for individuals! An Email Newsletter designed for you! The new Ace of Sales editor will sport redesigned email templates - optimized for speed, design, simplicity, and delivery. Take a look at the new Email Newsletter template below. Create and send your Email Newsletter up to 10X faster on your laptop, tablet, or phone! It's the easiest way we could imagine to help you create newsletters that make you, your brand, and your content look killer.

The key in this new template is that we've done so much of the work for you! Everything that can be automated is automated. Speed. Beauty. Simplicity. It's an Email Newsletter anyone can create. It's an Email Newsletter your customers will love to receive.

Check out the new Email Newsletter template coming soon:

emailnewsletter3
emailnewsletter3

A Mark of Great Marketers

marketperception

Great marketers are separated from good marketers by their level of Market Perception – theirability to spot emerging needs of customers and trends within their industry. This capability can mean the difference between eeking out sales each year or banking big profits. How's your Market Perception?

Are you observing the shifts in your industry as they're happening and while they're hot – or are you jumping on the bandwagon when the market is saturated and the opportunity to lead and succeed has all but dried up?

Business moves fast. Successful marketers can identify and seize important opportunities that are invisible to most.

Can you?

Over the years, several fascinating studies have examined our ability to pick up on our surroundings, as well as our (in)ability to notice one thing while paying attention to something else. Perhaps the most famous of these is Dan Simon’s Selective Attention Test. (Don't read ahead - spoilers!)

It's astounding to think we could miss something so obvious right in front of our eyes, but there’s no arguing that it happens. Compare the original above to a more fully produced version below of the video Professor Simon did for a conference. Now that you know what to look for, you can't not see the visitor in the video!

So how does this study apply to us as marketers?

By now, it should be abundantly clear that focusing your energy on one thing can distract you from the big picture.

Every industry changes over time. How well are you picking up on those incremental shifts in your business? Are you ahead of the curve? Behind? Do you spot trends or read about them after they've been identified and acted on by someone else? What would it mean to your own level of success if you were the one being quoted in or even writing those ground-breaking articles?

On a smaller scale, how well do you pick up on the changes in priorities that your clients are dealing with? Consider the questions they're asking you now, as compared to the questions they used to ask you. In other words, they're pointing right at the gorilla. Are you seeing it? If you give these clues the attention they deserve, they can make all the difference.

For example, have there been any personnel changes at your clients’ offices lately? Often a shift in management can bring a shift in priorities. Looking for those clues helps you build loyalty. It shows that you’re paying attention to the big picture for your client and not just your personal sales goals.

There’s a lot of talk in business circles these days about focusing your efforts on specific targets, and that’s good advice. But focusing your efforts should never mean restricting your field of vision. Pay attention to the little things and you can grow them into big successes.

Daydream Achiever: 9 Keys to Unlock Your Success-Generating Brilliance

daydream3

In grade school, I was often "in trouble" for daydreaming. My teachers called it "not paying attention." After a while, they'd put my chair in the hall or send me to the principal's office. It worked out perfect for me. I found both of those places ideal for... daydreaming. And it was in those places that some of my best ideas for creative projects, fantastic stories, and imaginative games were fashioned. I still daydream every day. But instead of games and stories, I'm conceiving original ideas and deep answers for customers that leave my competitors' heads spinning.

Daydreaming is pure thinking. It's where innovation is born.

Do you allocate time for pure thinking every day? If you're like most salespeople, who are too busy being busy, probably not.

If you don't carve out time to let your mind crunch on deep answers and unravel genius ideas, how will you develop the differentiators you need to beat competitors and build a booming business?

Dedicated time for pure thinking is the catalyst many business people need to escape their current plateau and reach higher levels of profit and growth.

Here are the 9 keys to unlock your success-generating brilliance by daydreaming like a pro:

1. Put your own chair in the hall. Everyone has a place where they think best – their "Thinking Place." Allocate time to be in your thinking place for at least 30 minutes a day.

2. Daydream on the move. Too antsy to sit and think? Go for a walk around your parking lot, mall, shopping center, or neighborhood.

3. Clear away distractions. Make sure your thinking place is a location where you won't bump into a bunch of people you know. Turn your phone off or put it on "do not disturb" – a new feature in iOS 6. Leave your folders and files back on your office desk.

4. Allocate time in the morning or evening. During the middle of the day, your mind is filled with matters of the moment. Morning people think most critically early. Evening people think clearly late. Guard and use those times for your pure thought.

5. Be intentional. Don't use your thinking time for free thought, where your mind can drift onto any topic from politics to your kids' activities. Go to your thinking place with a specific business topic, goal, or challenge to chew on.

6. Take notes. Bring a notebook or iPad to scribble your ideas down. Record everything you dream up.

7. Don't force a solution. Your thinking time may not yield the A-Ha! or the final breakthrough you were seeking. Let your mind be loose and flow down thought paths to explore new ideas. Your big idea may come tomorrow... or the next day.

8. Mind-map your thoughts. Write down the big thoughts or challenges at the center of your page. From each thought, draw a line and write down where each of those big thoughts lead. Then, do the same from each thought branch. Observing your divergent thoughts diagramed on the page will help you draw conclusions and see answers you can't when they're swimming in your brain.

9. Expect brilliance later. The time you invest in pure thought will often be harvested at a later time – a time when your mind is calm, relaxed, free. It could be in the shower or while walking your pet. Your subconscious mind will take the input from your thinking time and assemble the perfect solution. When it happens, write it down immediately!

Bonus: You may feel silly at first or that you are wasting your time. Keep going. Before long, you will come to hold this habit as one of your most valuable processes to succeed.

5 New Ways to Use Pinterest For Business

pinterest5

Pinterest is the fastest growing social network of 2012. Its visual interface makes it addicting to browse, and its easy Twitter integration makes it simple to sign up and start pinning. What is Pinterest? It's the digital version of a pinboard. You know, like the kind people pin photos, news, ideas, and flyers on in their cubicles or workrooms. More specifically, it's a social sharing service that allows you to collect and share visual content from around the web. You can share anything you find – photos, infographics, screenshots, icons, and just about any type of image.

Here are 5 innovative ways to use Pinterest to promote your personal brand:

1. SEO Keyword Dominance – If you have any sort of SEO strategy in place, you know what your keywords are. If you’re a real estate agent in Brooklyn, for example, your clients will be searching for things like “Brooklyn Real Estate Agent." Create your Pinterest boards using SEO keywords to improve your search ranking on Pinterest – and on your website.

2. Use Pinterest to Promote Your Blog Posts – Pin all your blog post images on your Pinterest account. When visitors click the pin of your blog image on Pinterest, they'll click through to your actual blog article. (See how we did it on this Pinterest board.) Users can 'repin' your pins. When they do, your images appear on THEIR Pinterest board. It's just like when someone retweets your tweet. Their followers can follow your pin links to your blog – creating a whole new channel of blog traffic for you. The important hint here is to make sure your blog images are eye-catching and compelling – something someone would want to share!

pricepin
pricepin

3. Sell Products – Pinterest is the new way to window shop on the web! In addition to pinning images from your blog posts, you can also pin images of products you sell on your website. Pinterest even offers a price banner you can add to the upper left hand corner of each pin. It's a visual trigger that designates your pin as an item for sale. Your Pinterest visitors can clickthrough to your online shop and buy. This technique makes your products more sharable.

4. Pin Videos – Many Pinterest users aren't aware videos can be pinned to their boards too. Just add your "embed link" to your pin and your video will play right inside Pinterest. It's perfect for product demos, video testimonials, and value messages to share with customers. In turn, they may repin them and share them with their friends.

Does your audience like watching videos about certain subjects? Become a video curator! Create a pinboard full of the valuable videos that your audience will find helpful. As you become a trusted resource for discovering and sharing great video content, followers will likely send more traffic your way which can translate to referrals. Get the picture?

5. Discover Who's Pinning Your Images – A great way to identify your biggest fans on Pinterest is to go to http://pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com. Replace ‘yourwebsite.com’ with YOUR website domain, like "aceofsales.com". You'll see your pins that have been re-pinned and who re-pinned them. Reach out to your biggest fans and thank them for spreading the word. Follow them back and stay in touch to build loyalty and connections.

Pinterest, like all social media communities, has just as many business applications as personal. All you have to do is identify how to best use this powerful new service to connect with people that love what you do.

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!

Out of This World "Out of the Office" Replies

out-of-the-office

It’s the middle of summer. Your vacation starts tomorrow. Time to turn on your "out of the office" auto-reply. Yours might sound like this:

“I’m on vacation until August 6th. If you need anything before I return, contact my assistant at 800-555-1234 or by email at assistant@ourcompany.com. I’ll respond to your email as soon as I'm back."

Short. Sweet. Perfect, right?

Well... it doesn’t make much of an impression, does it?

No. But who cares? After all, you have a million things to do before your minivan pulls out of the driveway.

Using a creative "out of the office" auto-reply message is a fast and often overlooked opportunity to stand out from competitors, strengthen your brand, build a little loyalty, and offer some value to customers while you're sipping umbrella drinks under a grass hut.

It'll only take you 5 minutes if you just remember the "3 keeps" - keep it short, keep it fun, keep it real.

Use these 6 tips to make your "out of the office" reply out of this world:

1. Tell them where you're going. You're out of the office - great! So where are you? Tell them. It's far more interesting than saying you're not there. It's a golden chance to connect and prepare your customers for a conversation when you return. Your auto-reply could go like this, "I'm vacationing in Bermuda with my 3 kids - my 'Bermuda Triangle.' Unless my plane is sent back in time, I'll be back in the office Monday, August 13th."

2. Tide them over with something valuable. "I'm out of the office, but before I left I found this short article you'll love - '7 ways to make your home 25% more energy efficient without buying a thing.' Let me know what you think. I'm back in the office next week!" It could be an article, video, blog post, news story, or anything your customers would perceive as valuable. It proves you thought about them before you left.

3. Make 'em laugh (or at least smile.) Your personality is a big plus to your customers and a major reason why they work with you - they like you! Don't disrespect and disappoint them by using a template "out of the office" reply devoid of "you-ness." "I've traded in my suit and tie for the week for my swim trunks and beach shirt. That's right, beach shirt - I have body issues. Greetings from the Outer Banks! I'm back Monday." Or, "Who cares where in the world Carmen San Diego is - I'm jumping wakes on my wave runner on Lake Michigan. Where am I on Monday? Responding to you back in my office."

4. Be more specific. If the playful or creative route doesn't suit you, use your auto-reply as a chance to give the emailer more information and a response expectation. "I'm on vacation, but I see you're at work. I'm back Monday and will mostly be using that day to catch up. My goal is to respond to everyone by Tuesday at noon. If you need me quicker, just call: 434-555-1234!" 

5. Introduce your back up. Your customers know you and love you, but they may not know your assistant or support person who will be on point while you're catching rays. By introducing your back up in a fun and personal way, your customers will be more comfortable (and more likely) to use the back up and get the help they need. "Lucky for you, I'm in Cabo for the week. Why lucky? Because that means you get to work with Sally Iver, my fellow consultant who's filling in for me while I'm away. She loves chocolate, tennis, and making customers happy. Customer, Sally. Sally, customer. Back at my desk on Monday!"

6. Allow them to connect, while you're away. "Thanks for your email. I'm in Las Vegas on vacation. But what happens on my trip, isn't staying in Vegas. I'm tweeting and blogging ideas for you to help your business grow and a few personal things mingled in - Uh, oh! Follow me @andyhorner and andyhorner.com." Post at least 1 blog post per day and 2-3 tweets. Make sure they're rich with value and watch your followers grow while you're away.

Bonus: Don't use an auto-reply at all. Have a support person or assistant reply to your emails or just respond to them yourself once a day while on vacation. Now that's out of this world! It also makes for less catch-up work for you when you return.

What’s the best auto-reply you’ve ever used or seen? Leave it in the comments below!

Also, Follow me on Twitter for more creative, practical ideas and inspiration - @andyhorner

A Logo That Has "Thanks" Written All Over It

thankyou-logos-forblog

Recognize the logos in the image above? Of course - Aflac, ReMax, BMW, and Superman (had to put that one in there). The word "Thanks" has been designed into each logo. Pretty cool.

With Ace of Sales, you can send Email Greetings to your customers with your own images! Next time you want to say, "Thanks," "Happy Birthday," or "Hello," why not create a graphic for your Email Greeting that combines your logo and your message into one image? It's fun, customized, creative, and stands out.

How do you create one?

Easy, if you have the right tools and follow these simple steps:

1. You need an iPhone, iPod, or iPad (sorry other device people)

2. Get WordFoto from the App Store

3. Email yourself a JPG file of your logo on a square-ish shaped background

4. Check your email on your iDevice and save the logo image

5. Open WordFoto and import the logo image from your Photos App

6. Render a WordFoto image with any text

7. Email the final WordFoto image to yourself

8. Save the image to your desktop on your computer

9. Upload the image to a custom Email Greeting design in Ace of Sales

10. Add a longer email message below the image and click "Send"

Hope your customers love it!