The “A” In AIDA – 3 Ways To Actually Grab It!

aida concept model

AIDA Sales Model

We are supposedly exposed to over 5,000 marketing, advertising and other types of messages each day. Personally, I think it’s a lot more, especially when you think of how many emails we get!

What does this mean to a hard-working, stress-induced salesperson? Well, it could mean that when you approach any new prospect, you are fighting ever harder to even get attention against the background of a plethora of other screaming demands.

What, then can you do to get attention and establish credibility with your prospective customer?

OK, what would make YOU sit up and take notice?

Psychologists have studies this for some time now, and it seems to boil down to around three components that make a real difference to gaining someone’s attention.

These three are classed as Trustworthiness, Expertise and Similarity

Firstly there’s Trustworthiness

How do you build trust with anyone? It is based on what people believe your intentions are. Other people want to know why you are taking the particular position you are.

There are two elements that make up the building of trust. The first is ‘knowledge bias’, that is, if the other person thinks your position or job role prevents you from being objective with them, they will not trust your motives. That’s why it’s good to have testimonials or references from people who have used your services previously.

If these comments are on video on your website; even better. People are then able to see the results of your services even before they see you.

Building trust is vital in getting attention. Could you send proof of what results you could achieve before you even sit in front of your prospect? That will intrigue and challenge their idea of ‘knowledge bias’.

The second component that builds trust is ‘intention bias’. If people think you’re just saying something to impress them, or saying what they want to hear, you lose their confidence in your intentions. You can overcome this by talking about the prospect’s business and not putting any emphasis on your products until you have established trust in you overall motives.

Secondly, Expertise.

How have you demonstrated your experience, before you meet the prospect?

You could forward details of your LinkedIn page, making sure it’s up-to-date with relevant, interesting and creative ways to demonstrate your expertise.

If you have specific industry experience that would be of value to the prospect, you can send your biography to them before meeting, so they see how your expertise would benefit their business.

What successes have you had with your products and services that would impress new prospects? If you could let them know about those results, you build credibility before even meeting up.

Ensure any expertise you show is relevant to the specific customer you’re meeting; saying you’ve worked in the banking industry for 15 years to impress them with your financial awareness, when the prospect is only interested in whether the product will last a long time, is missing the point entirely.

Finally, Similarity.

Another way to make your prospect sit up is to show how much like them you are. People tend to pay more attention to people who are like them.

This likeability factor cannot be understated. If your ideals, values, principles, standards and approach are similar to the other person’s, you give subliminal reasons why they should agree to your suggestions and recommendations.

Dress according to the guidelines given by the prospect before meeting them. Watch for any interests the prospect has that you could ask more questions about. Show interest in what is important to them. Listen effectively so their needs are clearer to you.

Doing these simple things will create good rapport and links between you. You’ll find it easier to understand their needs and support their goals if you find those ‘similarity bonds’

These three ideas (Trustworthiness, Expertise and Similarity) will help you build the foundation of a good relationship with the prospect and increase the likelihood they will sit up and take notice of you.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

There’s More To Farming Accounts Than Repeat Business

Small green plant in boy's palms, isolatedWhenever salespeople think about prospecting, it often has two distinctly different reactions. For some it can be a challenge that they relish, looking forward to seeking out new opportunities and building new relationships. To others, it can fill them with dread, preferring root-canal work to running the risk of being rejected.

Prospecting is often viewed as a necessary evil, the main way that the pipeline can be kept full. But it doesn’t have to be the frightening experience that many anticipate.

Let me ask you…would you rather ask a complete stranger for their business or someone who you already know?

Dumb question, with an obvious answer. So, how can you achieve additional sales opportunities with customers you already know?

Well, we first have to view a client as a prospect for more business. You need to have a ‘repeat-business’ mentality. And there will always be further opportunities for more business from existing customers.

But you may be thinking you’re already getting the most possible business from your client, so how can you get even more?

There’s more than just one way to think about new business. Remember, your current customers and clients can be a source of extra business for you in different ways.

For instance, if you’ve done a great job for them, is there someone else they know who could benefit from your services? How about them introducing you to a client of theirs? What about someone you could link up with on LinkedIn?

Could you attend a networking event or conference with them? Their industry may have many opportunities for meet-ups, and if they could take you along to one or two of those meetings, you may meet other prospects who might be interested in you.

Third-party influences may help you to spread your messages wider and open up other opportunities. They may not have been in your immediate network, so it’s good to check the network of your client so you could link up.

So, think how your current customers could be another prospecting opportunity for you, within and outside their company.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

6 Methods To Discover What Your Customer Really Thinks About You

Business man and cloudOne of my trainers had an interesting conversation with a salesperson on a recent course. The discussions revolved around how close we should get to a customer’s business and whether there is value in knowing how the customer really thinks about us.

The salesperson agreed up to a point but said he didn’t know how to get this knowledge, as many of his customers wouldn’t offer any help when they carried out customer satisfaction surveys.

So I thought it appropriate to cover a few ideas that you could use if you feel that it’s very difficult to know what customers actually think about you and your services.

Firstly, why is it important that we know what they think? Well, it helps you understand what your customers value, what they see as important in their relationship with you, how their operations tick, what markets they work in, what their customers think of them, what drives their business and how they operate efficiently and effectively. I’m sure you’ll agree that those reasons are enough to make is want to know what our customers really think of us!

Here are some ways of finding out. Use the ones that would be applicable to your market and customer-types:

  • When you lose a customer, ask for specific reasons for their departure, and make sure those messages are passed on to people who have influence within your business
  • Ask research companies to find out exactly what makes your customers loyal to you. They are more likely to be open and honest with an outside company than they are with you
  • Use your marketing people to design and run focus groups of prospects and current customers, enabling you to get explicit feedback from people whose opinions count. A small incentive is a useful tool to achieve higher attendance levels
  • Hold special-interest group sessions, over lunch or dinner, where you share ideas for future products or services and get their opinions on how they would work for their markets
  • Get higher and lower-level department managers to visit their counterparts in the customer’s company to ensure the businesses are still partnering effectively. For example, have the accounts manager visit their finance department to make sure the specific operations are working effectively between you
  • Set up ‘customer panels’ for regular meet-ups so you can assess needs, wants, interests and perceptions. They need to be beneficial for the customers too, not just a one-way diatribe of what products they should buy

These are naturally more formal than just asking the buyer what they think of you. They allow you to form a much wider picture of how you are helping customers achieve their goals and help you to determine the future set-up of your operations so you can support the direction your current and future customers will want to be going.

By analysing the results from the processes mentioned above, you stand a much higher chance of maintaining customer loyalty as you find out specifically what your customers and prospects really think about you. And that knowledge could be worth its weight in gold.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)


3 Great Ideas On How To Build & Establish Your Brand

Developing a BrandOne of the most precious assets that a company possesses is the quality of their brand. A great brand image can drive sales onward and upward; a lesser image can ultimately destroy a brand’s presence and present.

It’s people that make the brand. How customers are treated or served can improve or destroy an image in the customer’s mind, so it’s vital that staff and employees know how to deliver the brand promise every step of the way.

What makes up the philosophy of a great brand? How can companies ensure their people drive the value of the brand higher?

Here are my ideas on how great brands get established and built:

Great Brands Share Their Customers’ Values.

You need to be able to understand the perceptions of your customer’s ideas. They will have values that you have to live up to. If you fall down in any way, it may have an impact on the value that your customer has on the image of your brand.

Do your customers value service, delivery standards or warranties? Is quality or availability most important to them? By ascertaining what’s most important to them, you share the values that your customers hold dear.

Great Brands Emotionally Inspire Their Customers.

Brands are the emotional connections that companies have with their customers. How people feel about you will determine the impression you give at the emotional level. If people feel good or great about you, particularly in the areas that are important to them, the value of the brand will go up in their eyes.

Great Brands Provide Great Customer Experiences At Every Moment Of Truth.

Think through what makes a great experience. Isn’t it a series of magical ‘touch-points’ that the experience is made up of? For example, Disney excels at these touches of magic. At every point, they assess how the customer can be ‘wow-ed’ by what they get and see. They attempt to bring the experience come to life every time at every point in every way with every customer. Making the experience come alive involves ensuring that the set-up of service is excellent in every way. Only then will the customer feel that the company actually is more interested in them than profits.

Great brands make the customer’s life better in some way, either through products or services. By following the three ideas above, you create a great philosophy that, when followed, increases the desire of customers to be loyal.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

7 Ways To Destroy The Relationship With Your Client

Two young businessman boxing againts dark backgroundCustomers often judge us by the quality of the back-up service we offer. If everything goes well before we actually start working with them, they may see fit to buy our products and services.

The proof of the pudding will be after the deal is done. If the back-up isn’t there, we may as well say goodbye immediately to this customer being loyal to us.

Naturally, good quality service is the requisite for customer satisfaction. It got me thinking, though, about all the poor service we’ve experienced, and I have devised an acronym on the word ‘service’ to remind us of what we shouldn’t be doing. All these will destroy customer relationships:

Sloth: The dictionary definition is “habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness”.  A good work ethic is essential to excellence in sales. If you don’t want to work, feel that it’s just too much effort, or that good enough is good enough, then maybe sales isn’t the right career for you. Being lazy on things like quality of communications will simply tell your customer that you don’t care and you don’t deserve their attention.

Excuses: Passing the blame onto things that you feel are the cause of problems and lack of opportunities is the epitome of a poor sales attitude. A blamer will never think that anything is their fault and that the whole world is conspiring against him or her. They will blame the economy, customers’ lack of decision-making, the quality or price of the products they are selling – in fact, anything that means the blame doesn’t fall squarely on their shoulders.

Lack of Responsibility: Following on from ‘Excuses’ comes the age-old failure to accept responsibility for things that go wrong. It may not exactly be your fault that the traffic caused you to be late for the appointment, or that the competition have a better/cheaper/more cost-effective offering than you, but you still have the ability to respond (response-ability) to anything in a way that drives towards solutions rather than concentrating on the problem.

Vicious Circle:Sales people who wallow in their own pit of despair caused by the above are also quick to find themselves in the vicious circle that perpetuates their poor and negative attitude. One bad result leads to another, poor attitudes build further obstacles, one negative customer turns into the whole world being against you, and before you know it, the circle comes around again and the negativity continues.

Incredulity:The inability to grasp the real situation for what it is and deal with it so you can see the causes of the problems and deal with them. We often see salespeople who lack responsibility and make excuses fall into the vicious circle of not believing it’s their fault for anything that goes wrong. Being incredulous blinds you to possibilities and doesn’t allow you to see past the current obstacles.

Cocky Attitude:Seen in many networking events where the salesperson feels they must justify their claims of being number one in the industry. We’ve all met them and have a negative feeling towards them. Customers then say, Yes, your product may be better than the competition, but show us the results it will get us, rather than just overloading us with details of how good it is. Being cocky will just make people think you’re a fool and won’t believe your sometimes-outlandish claims.

Egotistical:No-one likes a big-head, simply because great salespeople don’t need to tell anyone how good they are; they simply deliver results that speak for themselves. When a person’s ego gets above their station, we tend to think badly of them because it often hides a feeling of insecurity that needs to be covered up. A great salesperson will not try to prove he or she is great by being the loudest or most brash, so that people will hear them. The ego needs to be kept in check or others will see you for what you are…someone to be avoided!

So, that’s my take on the antithesis of a great ‘service’ provider. I’d love to hear if you have some other words that would fit the acronym.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Why Customer Experience Is So Important For Your Success

wHave you a favourite restaurant? Car dealership? Clothes Shop?

If you have, it’s probably because of the products they sell and the people who run it. Overall, though, we judge our favourite establishment by the experience we have when using it.

These experiences build our relationships with people, companies and businesses. Relationships are made up of touchpoints and touchpoints are experience-driven. It’s safe to say that touchpoints are the key building blocks of experiences.

Touchpoint Metrics defines touchpoints as “every point of contact—online and off; each communication, human resource, branding, marketing and sales process initiative creates touchpoints. The quality of touchpoint experiences drives perceptions, actions and relationships.

Intervox Group relates customer touchpoints to relationship cycles and defines it as “all physical, communication, and human interactions that your customers experience during their relationship cycle with your company.

Touchpoint Experience relates touchpoints to time and sees touchpoints as “every point in time the customer ‘touches’ or connects with your company throughout the entire product/service delivery; pre-, during and post-purchase

Touchpoint is a point (what/who) that is touched via any channel (when/where/how) for a purpose (why). So, it is every point of interaction, internal and external, seen and unseen.

So, we could define it as simply “interaction between 2 or more entities which happens anytime any place by any means for a purpose.”

The way we create touchpoints for customers will determine how they feel about us, our products, services and offerings. As these series of touchpoints equate to an overall experience the customer goes through, they epitomise the very essence of how we treat the customer.

It could involve how the phone is answered to them, how they are greeted face-to-face, how long they have to wait in a queue, how they are treated if they have to complain, and countless other opportunities that occur when we encounter a customer interaction.

So, identify what points of contacts you personally are responsible for. Help create a special feeling at that point so the customer remembers it. Identify what could be improved. Be creative in how these touchpoints could be developed and you enhance the experience that every customer has when dealing with you.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

10 Ways To Get Your Customer To Commit To The Sale

shakerClosing is seen as the holy grail of any sales interaction. It gets the order, or at least progresses the sale onto the next level.

Securing some form of commitment from someone is a great feeling, as you have proved your worth and changed their lives and businesses to some degree because of the changes you will be providing for them.

But it isn’t always that easy, of course.  So, here’s a checklist that you can use before you make any attempts to secure commitment from your prospect:

- Have I built up enough value in your products and services for your prospect?

– Have you discussed the money value of the solution? (Cost savings, productivity, etc.)

- What other value is there? (Health and safety, non-monetary improvements, etc.)

– Do you genuinely believe your solution is the best one for the company you are working with?

- Does the customer understand and value the benefits of the solution to their business?

– Can you clearly demonstrate those benefits quickly and easily?

- Can you support those benefits with evidence from real examples of other companies you have helped?

– Is a decision to buy your offering better than a decision to use another company?

- Have you minimised the risks to the prospect in making this buying decision? (Financial, time of implementation, loss of productivity, etc.)

– Have you created enough urgency to encourage the prospect to move forward now? (Impact of not choosing you, etc.)

By achieving these levels of fulfilment, you create a real need in the prospect’s mind and allow for a further development of the relationship, as you build value in your products and convince your prospect that the best thing for them to do would be to make the wise decision and choose you!

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

4 Simple Steps To Build A Strong & Loyal Customer Base

Loyalty red arrowMost of us would agree that it costs considerably more to get a new customer than to maintain a loyal one.

So, it follows that customer retention must be a major component of an effective marketing strategy and that’s especially true for your business. From least desirable to most desirable on the customer-relationship continuum, the sequence is: “new” to “repeat” to “loyal.”

The key to long-term customer retention is loyalty and the key to loyalty is in understanding the “perceived value” the customer gets from doing business with you. Then it’s as simple as delivering that value 100% of the time, in a manner that is “easy” on the customer.

The process of converting an existing customer to “loyal” status isn’t quite so simple and may take years to accomplish.

The customer experience typically evolves through four levels:

Satisfaction with price and availability. There has to be level of understanding of why your price points are what they are. By being open and honest with customers as to your pricing policies, you create a level of trust and understanding that is consistent and builds reasons for future loyalty.

Recognition of superior service levels. There is something special about getting superior service. Whether it’s the individual attention we get at a restaurant or the personal touch that is given to us when we check in at a hotel, the more special we feel, the greater the ‘stroking’ of out ego is received.

Appreciation of the value of your knowledge and experience. Customers value your expertise in areas that are important to them and their business. If you are able to make them see how running the various aspects of their business could be improved, they cease to see you as a supplier of goods and services, and start viewing you as a partner that is increasing in asset value to them.

Connection on values, mission and vision. This is the deepest level of relationship you can have with a customer, where your purposes and missions meld into a continuous, harmonious journey that can last a long time. By sharing the same goals and building the road towards achieving those goals, both of your companies create experiences that bond you together beyond partnership level. They depend on you for their profitability, productivity and future success.

One way to determine loyalty is to remember that a repeat customer must successfully answer the question:

“How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?”

before attaining the “loyal” status. Companies that focus on loyalty lead their industries in profitability. Loyal customers have the potential to be your best salespeople, because they will find opportunities for you that would otherwise never appear on your radar screen.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)