Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who is Your Customer?

Most of the salespeople I’ve trained have had experience with other companies before I had the opportunity to work with them.  From these experiences valuable lessons are often missed.  A short-lived company that we’ll refer to as Budget Home Improvement used to start every morning with a session in which the salesmen partnered up, stared into each other’s faces, and exchanged compliments.  It wasn’t uncommon to hear one salesman comment on another’s beautiful blue eyes and the second to counter with a remark about the first man’s commanding presence and exceptional sense of style.  After the boss was satisfied that each member of his sales team had sufficient self confidence he sent them out into the field to make their sales.  The company had a very poor track record with a seemingly unconquerable group of Northern Minnesota cities known as the Iron Range. The hardworking, no-nonsense folks that populated those cities weren’t receiving the aggressive high-end salesmen well at all often even returning with personal body harm, a fractured wrist, a black eye, one man was even choked with his own tie.  It was Gucci.  These same salesmen had been fairly successful in the heart of Minneapolis. 

A light bulb went off in the boss’s mind and he hired a rugged salt of the earth type of man to attempt to identify with the natives of the Range.  Karl ‘The Giant’ Kazninski, he had huge hands, an enormous neck, and flat, dull cubes for teeth that looked as though they’d been picked from a beach.  His skin looked as though he’d spent his entire life outdoors, not a chance that it had ever had an encounter with honey cucumber moisturizer.  This was someone that the Rangers could identify with, someone they’d trust. After prepping Karl on what he’d be selling, everything from floors to roofs, they got him stocked with glossy catalogues and official looking papers with seals that guaranteed something or other and stuffed them all in a fancy leather briefcase, even remembering to include a solid blue power tie, in case he ran into a…more civilized family. Before he left, one of the youngest salesmen reminded Karl that he had pretty eyes. Karl just looked somewhere between confused and concerned.

Two months passed and no one had heard from Karl. The men of Budget began to fear the worst. And then a package arrived postmarked from the Range. They eagerly tore it open just to find Karl’s briefcase. Enclosed were the glossy catalogues, a mud-stained tie, and a note written on company paper with one single word, FAREWELL. Just as Colonel Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, Karl had joined the natives.

Monday, March 19, 2012


I go for a nice long run. How about you?

B2B Sellers! Average salary for SB owner $38,568 to $91,440 – Why should you care?

A client sent me an interesting article this morning.  According to this year’s “How America Shops” survey, it now takes an income of more than $150,000 to be able to afford the basics, some extras, and to also save some money. 52% Americans feel they barely have enough to afford the basics!

What does that have to do with B2B sales? 

Business owners put their business before themselves. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), it usually takes at least a year for a business to turn a profit. It’s not unusual for a business owner to wait two or three years before they cut a paycheck for themselves. And, the longer one is in business, the higher the annual salary. Last year, the average business owner made $38,568 to $91,440.

Small business owners aren’t making enough. An income issue creates a value issue. Business Owners aren’t buying what they want; they’re buying what they need. Frivolous is out.

Here are three tips for selling in this environment:

- According to a recent Pew study, 78% of internet users research online before buying. If a business owner is seriously considering your product or service, they’ve done their homework. Make sure you do yours too. Know as much as you can about their business before your meeting.

- Understanding the economic climate in relation to their industry, also their years of experience and geography are keys to your success.  Include it in your value story.

- Return on Investment (ROI) is a critical element of the conversation. Be prepared to share examples of how you’ve helped businesses just like them to make money. The more specific you can get the better!

For now, leave the Versace briefcase in your closet. Your “show” won’t impress them. It might even turn them off. They care about the value you can provide them.