Archive for May, 2011

You’re Working Too Hard To Make the Sale. More than 100 insider tools to sell faster and easier . William T. Brooks & Tom Tavisano. 2nd Ed

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You’re Working Too Hard To Make the Sale. More than 100 insider tools to sell faster and easier . William T. Brooks & Tom Travisano. 2nd Ed. 2005. ISBN 0971785678.  This book directly addresses the sales truth , customers first decide emotionally and then justify that decision with logic. In a simple direct style, the authors lay out what the bulk of sales people are doing wrong and tried and true ways to remedy this.  Now this is not easy  to do but once you read the book it just makes sense. This book also ties into our research on the growing use of compelling content to ease the sales job.  This book will help you and your team combat the sales stereotypes, increase your ability to differentiate and drive value as a buyer criteria. Their customer profiling is masterful. I wish I had this book years ago.

Five Things We Know For Sure About Today’s Customers. Guest post from Chip Bell

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Five Things We Know For Sure About Today’s Customers

Guest post from Chip Bell (Wired and Dangerous)

Customers today are Picky–more cautious in their choices (and they have many more choices) and interested only in getting obvious value for their money.  They are well-informed about choices, smarter in choice-making, and selective in whom they elect to join.  Blame it on a scary recession, but it is a fact!

They are Fickle–much quicker to leave if unhappy.  They not only show a lower tolerance for error, they will exit just on account of plain old indifferent service.  The hype of a brand name means little in deterring the disappointed customer’s exit.  And, their expectations for their encounters with you are up 33% over this time last year!  The old “tired and true” is no longer the “tried and true.”

Customers today are Vocal–more apt to rapidly (and loudly) register concerns with their higher standards for value and their expectation of getting a tailored response.  They assertively tell others their views of service; they also listen to fellow customers’ reviews and make choices without even giving the organization a chance.   Three-fourth of customers makes a decision not to do business with you based solely on “work of mouse” from other customers.

Finally, they are Vain–expecting treatment that telegraphs they are special and unique, not just one of the masses.  This customer narcissism has been forged both through the pampering provided by service providers as well as their new found muscle to get their way in the marketplace.  If you do not sell and service “their way” you will be history!

This Picky-Fickle-Vocal-Vain moniker represents a dramatic shift in what is required to insure customer loyalty–the stuff of growth and profits.  That shift has resulted in customer requirements for value being very out-of-sync with the tried and true methods organizations have relied on for years.  When front line employees deliver service that fulfils the customer’s stated needs, they are taken aback when customers give them less than satisfactory grades.  When a small gaffe triggers volcano-like customer uproar, front line employees believe they have met a deranged deviant with an attitude problem, not just a typical customer acting on instincts honed from countless disappointments.

And now, for the big kahuna!  Today’s Picky-Fickle-Vocal-Vain customers are also wired.  Word of mouse has replaced word of mouth as the most viral means of gossip, grousing and groaning about last night’s slow restaurant service, yesterday’s rude sales clerk or this morning’s glitch on  Today, internet connections, whether blogs, tweets or other forms of social media, have five times the impact of traditional word of mouth.  The average post is read by over 45 people today.  And, the viral effect is enormous.  When songwriter Dave Carroll had a run-in with United Airlines over damage to his guitar in their baggage handling, he penned a song and hung it on YouTube.  Over nine million people watched.  The Economist blog estimates it cost United Airlines about $180M.

What steps are you taking to more effectively deal with today’s customers?  Ignore it and you become a has-been; treat it as an opportunity and your create advocates.

Adapted from Wired and Dangerous:  How Customers Have Changed and What To Do About it by Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson (SF: Berrett-Koehler Publishing, 2011)

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wired and dangerous. how your customers have changed and what to do about it. Chip R. Bell & John R. Patterson.

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wired and dangerous. how your customers have changed and what to do about it.  Chip R. Bell & John R. Patterson. 2011. ISBN 9781605099750. Bell & Patterson have written several great books on customer service.  This one does not disappoint.  They have brought their core beliefs right up to date with the Internet customer.   The customer has all the power with respect to Internet information access.  the vendor still retains the ability to create a great or not so great experience.  They do a good job explaining why the trend to self serve is not always in the customers interest and how to be better at service  anyway.  Lost of great examples round out this easy to read book .. There is something for every business leader in this book . In our experience in Content marketing practice, their tips on voice of the customer and front line workers are very useful.

Very good value for a fall European river cruise. Package for two is going…going…

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Here’s a lovely package which you may want to consider, i.e. Take advantage of a European “Indian Summer” in early November (Nov 5 through Nov 13). This is an 8-day “Portraits of France” river cruise. This goes from Chalon-sur-Saone to Avignon. (Yes,  the heart of Burgundy)
This is on a river boat called the Neptune. It carries 150 passengers and 40 crew members.
Viking Neptune Cruise Ship
My wife and I are fans of this type of travel – prices are all in , such as airfare from Vancouver, wine for dinner, shore excursions are all included. Usually you pay more for this. The service is four star and better – great food and drink ( Local wines!!!).  These small boats tie up at the main pier in the town ( which is the old town center ) so everything you want to see is a short walk away.  Follow their built in itinerary, or freelance .  Freelance such as go with the chef to the market to select the food for the dinner, get a ride to other local wineries, visit shops, hang around the town square with a coffee and pastry, organize a round of golf, there is no pressure on you to do anything.  No formal nites, lots of interesting people on the boat. You can normally expect to plunk down $5000 per person for this, but this deal has been put together for a total price  for two of $6805 (US – it gets even better!).  Make it an early Christmas present, or a special anniversary gift or just a romantic surprise.

Day 1 – Chalon-sur-Saône

Fly to Lyon. Transfer from the airport to your ship docked in Chalon-sur-Saône.* After boarding, take free time to explore this quaint town—or join our “welcome walk” to stretch your legs and start getting oriented.

Day 2 – Beaune & Burgundy Wine Tour

After breakfast, take a scenic drive along France’s Burgundy wine route through Pommard, Volnay and Meursault. Arrive in Beaune, wine capital of Burgundy, for a guided tour of beautiful Hôtel Dieu, founded as a hospice in 1443. Learn about local viticulture and enjoy a wine-tasting at one of Beaune’s famous cellars. Return to your ship for lunch. Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure—as always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Or, take an optional excursion to the picturesque Burgundy towns of Tournus and Mâcon. Return aboard for dinner and evening departure.

Day 3 – Lyon

After a morning cruise through the picturesque countryside and lunch aboard, take an afternoon tour of Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin with a drive to the top of Fourvière Hill for amazing views of the city. Visit the Basilica of Notre Dame and drive through town past the magnificent St. Jean Cathedral and the Palace of Justice. Then take a walking tour through the cobbled streets of Vieux Lyon (Old Town), with free time to shop for souvenirs or sample some of the fine French cuisine for which Lyon is world-famous. Dinner served aboard.

Day 4 – Lyon & Vienne

The morning is free to further explore this remarkable 2,000-year-old city in the heart of France. Depart just before lunchtime. This afternoon, take a walking tour of Vienne, a beautiful town with an ancient Roman past. Visit the Temple of Augustus & Livia, the Roman amphitheater and the Gothic Cathedral of St. Maurice; then spend some time discovering more of this charming riverside town on your own. Dine aboard and depart this evening.

Day 5 – Tournon & Viviers

Awaken in Tournon. During a guided tour of the area, learn about the region’s winemaking traditions and taste some famous regional red wines. Then visit the Musée de Tain l’Hermitage located in the oldest house in the region. Lunch aboard and cruise through the afternoon; arrive after dinner in Viviers, a quaint town in a mountainous setting. Join your Program Director for an evening stroll through the Old Town with its medieval and Renaissance buildings. Enjoy free time before retiring for the evening.

Day 6 – Arles

Arrive during breakfast and meet your guide for a walking tour of Arles with its diverse architectural highlights. Experience the city’s vibrant colors and the striking quality of light that have inspired artists. Arles is also the site of some impressive Roman ruins, including Les Arènes, an arena that seats 20,000 and is still in use, as well as Romanesque monuments such as the Church of Saint-Trôphime, completed in the 15th century. Return aboard for lunch followed by afternoon free time to explore or shop for handcrafted gifts. Dinner is served as you depart.

Day 7 – Avignon

This morning, set out on a guided walk of Avignon, nicknamed “City of Popes” because it was home to seven popes from 1309 to 1377. Stroll through the historic center, stop at the picturesque Pont d’Avignon and walk the Place de l’Horloge. Continue to the renowned Palace of the Popes for a guided tour through this rambling maze of Gothic architecture which served as papal residence, fortress, church and palace. You can join the optional tour to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, visiting the vineyards and tasting the famous wine. Lunch and dinner served aboard. Your ship remains docked overnight.

Day 8 – Avignon

After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the Marseille airport for your return flight.

The following meals are included:
B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner

*Airport meet & greet transfers included when air is purchased from Viking River Cruises.

The total price for this package for two, which includes air from Vancouver (economy), port charges, shores excursions, complimentary wines at dinner is US$6805.00. This price is valid only until May 30th, or until sold.

Let us know if you are interested.

Conversations for Change. 12 ways to say it right when it matters most. Shawn Kent Hayashi.

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Conversations for Change. 12 ways to say it right when it matters most. Shawn Kent Hayashi. 2011. ISBN 9780071745284.   A profound book.  It is one not to rush through but to savour.  I would  read a bit, think about a life experience that it brought to mind, analyze lessons learned ( or not), and then read some more. As a result this book took almost a month to read. I really enjoyed it and it made quite an impression on me . Would that I knew 1/10th of it in years gone past.  If you work with, live with, or interact with others this book brings tremendous value. If you are unwilling to change  (or see any need)  then do not bother to read this.  I was intrigued that the author puts very little real content on her website.  Very old school which makes her hard to find!

Voice of the Customer Marketing. A revolutionary five-step process to create customers who care, spend and stay. Ernan Roman.

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Voice of the Customer Marketing. A revolutionary five-step process to create customers who care, spend and stay. Ernan Roman. 2011. ISBN 9780071740838. This is a good complement to companies who wish to use buyers’ language and buyer behaviors to drive their own growth in content marketing.  Roman is very experienced in Voice Of the Customer (VOC) work and this book is immediately useful to you.  He is a pragmatist with lots of street cred in this area. Each chapter has clear and useful case studies. Some points:

  • At the end of the day companies do not change because of data,. They change because of VOC.
  • 68 % of customer defection takes place because customers feel poorly treated.
  • 95 % of complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve the complaint instantly.
  • Are you guilty of customer manipulation? (You can’t get this data until you fill in this form and allow us to drown you in untargeted emails.)
  • Companies that outsourced their call centers often fail faster .

Very good addition to your marketing library. It will prevent you from making some serious blunders.

Clout. The art and science of influential web content. Colleen Jones.

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Clout. The art and science of influential web content. Colleen Jones.  2011. ISBN 9780321733016. A very powerful and immediately useful book for those of us recognizing the impact of content marketing .  Jones not only gives you what you need to do, but in depth discussion (and application)  of rhetoric and psychology behind influential content.  This is a foundation marketing book that will have a long life as what she says is true , relevant and based on very sound strategy.  Her website is full of very useful material.  Of course if your company management is content to stick its head in the sand and miss out on  the incredible opportunities out there to pull in high value clients and dramatically increase profits, then this book will just entertain you.  She is a good writer which helps make this the content book of the year so far as she lays out all the whats and whys and fully shows you the hows. If you do anything in strategic and/or  tactical marketing or web design this is the book for you. It will save you time, dollars and increase company profits.

No B.S. Price Strategy. The ultimate no holds barred kick butt take no prisoners guide to profits, power and prosperity. Dan S. Kennedy & Jason Marrs.

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No B.S. Price Strategy. The ultimate no holds barred kick butt take no prisoners guide to profits, power and prosperity. Dan S. Kennedy & Jason Marrs. 2011. ISBN 9781599184005.  These two are pure American salesmen. Nobody does it better.  There are four authors of the book and they tag team from chapter to chapter adding a different point of view, which makes the overall organization feel choppy.  Kennedy and Marr are the main players here. Kennedy has written many books and the formula is evident.  The book provides  much valuable content, which you could get from a close read of Nagle.  This is just a much easier way to learn it. (Although I have seen much of this content in other books, this book gives no end of book  references to the work of others, except their acquaintances or their own work, which is done  in context.  Many of the references are very valuable sites.

The book also includes relentless driving of you to their own websites.  This is one of Kennedy’s tenets – get the buyer to pay you the privilege of buying more from you (and get it upfront) i.e. buying the book is an upfront fee prior to buying more!  They hold with value-selling and value pricing but this is one of the weaker descriptors for that state.  I prefer Davis for that.

Kennedys description of niche and subculture markets is useful territory for salespeople to  help better define the perfect customer.

  • Niche is an occupational/vocational attribute
  • Subculture is interest, belief, activity attribute.

Although much of the content is useful for B2B, the real client for this book is a small business person.  Just as Nagle’s work is really for the Fortune 500. Buy the book for your Kindle – it is a useful read, but this is not the “final ” book on value/ premium pricing.  It is a good “dose of salts” to most business people.  Much of Kennedy’s library is discounted on Amazon.

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Slow Down, Sell Faster! understand your customer’s buying process and maximize your sales. Kevin Davis.

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Slow Down, Sell Faster! Understand your customer’s buying process and maximize your sales. Kevin Davis.2011. ISBN978081441685.  I like Amacom , they put out great business books.  This is a completely revised/updated edition of Getting Into Your Customers head (1996) which was a good book already.  Today’s focus of learning about your clients buying process is combined with spending the time up front to dig for the value your solution brings to the prospect.  Your value(price) needs to reflect the value to the customer to solve his particular problem.  Davis lays out exactly what a new or mature salesperson needs to do at every stage, as well as giving pragmatic answers to the questions that come up  (E.G. “So give me a ballpark cost” – we know this is not a buying signal, rather is a customer asking –  is the problem worth solving and for what budget? By using the proper sequence of diagnostic questions, the answer to this one comes from the prospect)

Really good stats.

  • 2% of your sales audience is likely seeking the benefit you speak of. You can not assume the other 98% are looking for it. Thus take your time talking about potential client issues and restrain yourself from talking about your solution. Premature product or benefit presentation will just raise pricing objections if you have not done the work to find out what the customer’s product value is (profits/margin improvement)
  • IBM software solutions group loses 93% of the sales where they were not involved in defining the solution requirements.
  • 90% of the sale takes place when you are not there.
  • price and negotiations always comes up during the closing dance. You need a game plan so your company does not lose.

The icing on the cake is the final chapter, which helps the sales manager address the common issues about implementing this method. The ideas are first class and immediately useful. This is a very good book for your sales quiver.  Like most sales books it completely misses how marketing could help.

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Consultative Selling. The Hanan formula for high-margin sales at high levels. 8th Ed. Mack Hanan

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Consultative Selling. The Hanan formula for high-margin sales at high levels. 8th Ed. Mack Hanan. 2011. ISBN 9780814416174.  I first read Mack Hanan many years ago  and have used his approach ever since.  I was delighted to receive his latest book from Amacom.  As part of my ongoing research into value pricing I was interested to see what Mack had to say  on this topic.  Well it is a lot.  This is likely the most complete sales book  that is based on value pricing and explains what we call value based selling.  He has remained true since 1970 to stating that sales main goal  is improving customer profits and margins .  So this book is full of great examples and studies of  how and where to use value selling.  I strongly suggest that if you are serious about being a successful sales person or having an effective sales organization in today’s buyer driven world you get and carefully read this latest book by Mack.