strategy

While Customers Are Grilling Out...

summertime-sales-strategy

Are You Selling Out? Summer begins today! But before you brandish your tongs, don your apron, and light your charcoal, I need to grill you... on your summer sales strategy. 

Oh, and let's just get this out of the way: Whining about customers not getting back to you is a great strategy... if you're planning on transferring your grilling skills to Burger King. Remember what my wife tells my kids when they whine, "Smart people don't complain, they calculate."

Summer may be the worst time to connect with customers, but it's the best time to calculate your plan for the rest of the year.

It's also the best time to:

1. Write. Start your blog and kickstart it with 7 articles. Each can be used as a feature ezine article you start sending once a month for the rest of the year.

2. Get a new photo of yourself. Everything is brighter and more colorful in the summer - the background, the lighting, and you. Invest in a new pro head shot of yourself.

3. Update your web identity. Make sure your website has the latest info, refresh your LinkedIn profile, and post some updates to Facebook.

4. Develop a customer appreciation program. You've been giving away the same promotional product crap for years. They have enough pens and water bottles with your logo on them. How about developing a gift that they'll remember forever? I was recently given an Ozzie Smith baseball card as a "thank you" from a business partner. How do you think that changed our relationship? Spend the summer appreciating people.

5. List the 5 top activities you do that directly lead to business. Calling customers to check on them. Attending certain networking events. Sending email updates to your contact list. Updating your website. Emailing leads back quickly. Write down an idea to make each activity more efficient and effective.

6. List the top 5 time-drains that don't bring you business. Once you've identified them, brainstorm a way to automate them, delegate them, or say "no" to them.

7. Identify 7 customers you want to meet. Search their LinkedIn or webpage profiles for something or someone you have in common. How are you linked to them? Same hobby? Same school? Same interests? Same mission? Same friends? Email or call them. Mention the shared link and offer to take them to lunch. Or, call a person you both know and request you all get together for coffee on you.

8. Clean your office. You'll be surprised how much more motivated and focused you are when your surroundings are organized and tidy.

Now that you've been grilled, you can light the grill. Just don't let the flame-kissed burgers keep you from fanning the flames of your summer sales strategy.

Little But NOT Nothing

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What do football helmets and hypodermic needles have in common?

Little but NOT nothing.

Steroid juicing? Painkiller addiction? Hmm... fascinating!

The image with this article of a football helmet spilling over with hypodermic needles is from a current issue of ESPN Magazine. The photo triggers both a wince and a double take, halting readers and provoking them to read the first sentence of the article.

Little but NOT nothing.

What a beautiful phrase for marketers to keep in mind.

When two images with the smallest hint of a connection are juxtaposed, readers are compelled to seek understanding. The brain begins firing questions and drilling for the relationship link. "Helmets? Needles? Should I understand this? The data seems vaguely familiar but does not compute. Need... more... info." And so the reader begins to read. Success!

Little but NOT nothing.

How can you employ this concept in your own small business or personal marketing efforts? First, isolate a single benefit message. It's a natural temptation to cram all the irresistible advantages of your product or service into your marketing pieces. If you can't decide on your top benefit, ask ten customers. Then, you'll know.

Perhaps you sell a new industrial-grade sump pump for home owners that can remove water 4 times faster than a standard residential unit. What images can you combine that aren't too closely related? Bad examples might include a water-filled room with floating furniture or a frowning home owner standing waist deep in a flooded room. To avoid cliches like these, throw out images or ideas that have been fused so often that their connection has become obvious.

Instead, think two powerful objects with a faint relationship that will evoke emotion. For the brain to be intrigued, it must be forced to make a cognitive leap.

Picture this. A door frame where a family has marked their child's growth is under water up to the line that reads, "Katie at 5 years." The brain goes wild! "Growth charts? Waist-high water? What about the marks for her first four years?" The lead in to the ad might read, "Preserving your memories in a flood depends on how fast you remove the water. Irreversible damage can begin in less than 12 hours. Can you keep up with your pump? With ours can, you can."

Little but NOT nothing may mean EVERYTHING when it comes to getting responses and results from your next marketing campaign. Try it and tell me how it turns out.

Third Time's a Charm - True or False?

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andy-horner-3baseballs

To me, it's "True." 

There's a natural temptation to quit after a second try. The average, busy, over-worked adult says to themselves, "Well I gave it a couple shots. This is going to be a waste of time. I'll do something else."

Remember the other expression? "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again." It's not just "try again." Often, the trick is to get past that second hurdle.

In business, sometimes we must quit. Our idea isn't working. The margins aren't there. Other endeavors or projects are more important. 

But many successes are lost because of retreating too early.

 The result of quitting means you don't grow, push your limits, accomplish your dreams, and you end up sitting next to your buddy at the retirement home watching HSN repeating, "I had that idea 30 years ago."

Remember, your second try will often be as bad or worse than the first. Why?

1. Overcorrection.

 A staggering number of car accidents happen each year when drivers swerve a little, then whip the wheel the opposite direction to get back to the middle of the road. Overcompensation causes the accident. Your second attempt is often an exaggeration of your first failure.

2. Hyper Awareness. 

On your second attempt, you become overly conscious of your thoughts, words, hands, and body. You tighten up. Ever coached a kid playing tee-ball for the first time? If the child has a modicum of athletic ability, they'll almost always foul tip the ball on their first swing.

 But on the second attempt, they're now tense with self-awareness. What happens? They hit the tee. (Hyper-awareness on the second try can also explain "beginner's luck.")

3. Impatience. 

When I drew pictures as a youngster, time didn't exist. I could draw all day. My only goal was to enjoy the spilling of my imagination onto a blank page. I had no deadline, no boss, and no quota. The impatience of adults comes from time constraints, budget restrictions, and performance pressures. We can write off our first failure, but after the second defeat, the risk can be perceived as too great. The result – we quit. What a shame.

I think the third time IS a charm. After all, it's not two strikes and you're out. And who can forget "School House Rock," who taught us all, "Three is a Magic Number."

The simple knowledge of this life nugget helps. When attempting something new, remind yourself three times "I may get worse before I get better." If I'm right, your overcorrection will decrease, you'll remain more relaxed, and you'll afford the patience required. The profit for your persistence could be a blockbuster project, a lucrative new business, a standing ovation, or a home run at whatever you put your mind to. 

Instead of annoying your retired pals with your infomercial regrets, you could be addressing an audience of thousands with a speech that begins, "When I had this idea 30 years ago..."

Now, cue 

De La Soul

... 

The Rise of the Email Update

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Me and a number of my customers are starting a new trend at Ace of Sales. We're sending our contacts a weekly Email Update instead of a full blown ezine. It's a quickie email newsletter. Your contacts will love it because it's fast to read. You'll love it because it's easy to create.

Here's how it works:

You write one strong, value article each week - less than 250 words. The subject matter should be centered on your expertise. Add a compelling graphic to accompany it. (The Ace of Sales Email Greeting template is a perfect fit and will display all your branding and personal info.)

At the end of the article add a no cost offer call to action.

  • Download my complimentary e-book.
  • Sign up for my free webinar.
  • Get my white paper now.

Make sure you capture each contacts' first name, last name, and email address when they request the offer.

It's called a Weekly Update. It's the new quickie of the personal marketing world. It's easy to do, takes little time, and is preferred by many over a long ezine.

7 Ideas to Heat Up Summertime Selling

Salespeople know summer has arrived when they hear their first customer's "vacation" voice mail. It sounds something like this: "Today is the first day of June. I'm currently swinging in a hammock at the beach and will return some time in August. Please leave a message, though I probably won't return your call until October because I'll be replying to over 10,000 emails. Talk to you in the fall. Beep!" With customers in and out, summer can be a frustrating time for sales, but it doesn't have to be. If your sales slump during the sunnier months, you may profit best to switch to a new selling mode. With a Yes! attitude, hard work, and some smarts, you can make it your most productive time of the year!

Summer marketing sales campaign

Here are seven ideas to heat up sales during your summer: 1. Clean up your list. Summer is a great occasion, with selling a bit slower for many sales professionals, to update your contact list thoroughly. It will make your personal  marketing and communication efforts more effective the rest of the year. It's no fun, but rewards big! Quick tip: match your customers' contact info in their most recent email signatures to their info in your contact manager.

2. Send a pre-vacation gift. Set calendar reminders a week and a half before your top customers leave on their vacations. When alerted, send each customer a greeting card with a Target gift card inside (Ace of Sales makes this easy). Wish them loads of fun and a great time with their family. When they return to a jam-packed inbox, guess who will get a response first?

3. Work LinkedIn. Add your top customers to your network. (Most will gladly connect with you!) Then write each of them a short recommendation - which is like gold to anyone on LinkedIn. Be careful not to sound like a kiss-up! Recommend them to others with specific compliments regarding their strengths. You'll be surprised how many customers will message you back with gratitude regardless of whether they're at the office or on a cruise.

4. Get your blog and ezine started. If your summers are slow, start writing at your local coffee shop. Crank out the content for your first blog article or ezine. The new surroundings, slower schedule, and caffeine could be just the thing needed to kick-start these two vital projects.

5. Send a vacation shout out. On your vacation, record a short video for your best customers. Use your exotic surroundings as a backdrop. Just say hi! Tell them where you are, that you hope everything is going well for them, and that you look forward to chatting when you return. Send it before you return and you'll blow them away!

6. Record a summer video series. Start your own YouTube channel! Then, use your Flip video to record a series of videos (3-5) featuring yourself! Shoot the videos at casual settings - your back deck, a restaurant, a cafe, a park. Topics could include featured products, customer interviews, and "did you know's." Feel free to add a few personal notes. Send a video every week or every other week using an Ace of Sales Email Greeting with a link to each video.

7. Make the most of holidays. For many countries and cultures, summer holidays are few and far between. In North America, July 4th, Canada Day, and Cinco de Mayo are about it! Whatever summer holidays your customers celebrate, don't miss the opportunity to reach out to them (and stand out from lazy competitors) with an Email Greeting or Greeting Card designed with a colorful image, your personal branding elements, and a friendly message. Your greeting will display that you're the kind of relationship-focused professional who has their act together when others are usually tuned out!