Business to Business Online Expos

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No internet allowed; in the internet department

internetdeptI used to be the Sales Director of the Internet Department at a car dealership. Just to clarify, the Internet Department in the auto-biz is a division of the sales force who specifically serve web clients that have been shopping through the internet. From referrals by buying companies to lead sources, email, text, etc., this team spends the majority of their days in front of a monitor. These employees are all over the digital marketplace chasing down customers.

One day, our genius [sarcastic] General Manager decided that he was going to lock down everyone’s computers to only include a few scattered links that they used every day for their email, customer management program and most pages associated with our brand. The rest of the internet–off limits.


The prospects they talk to on the phone every day have full access to all their shopping options in a variety of places on the web. On the other hand, the sales team that needed to be competitive and informed about their competition was unable to stay efficient because a GM was worried someone was reading too often?

Handicapping his staff, the department started seeing a consistent decline in monthly numbers. Captain Power-trip blamed other factors but truth be told, the new policy was not very smart.

The IT department had access to every key stroke the people made. If they were concerned about where their ‘internet employees’ were surfing, they could have run a report to see for themselves and determine if corrective action was needed. But to treat them like small children and take away tools they need to be successful is just ridiculous.

One member of upper management tried to defend the GM by saying, “He probably is trying to keep people off of Facebook and focused on their job.” Okay, smarty-pants, there’s just one problem with that theory. Social Media is an incredible way of building your customer base. When I was an internet salesman, 4-6 cars I sold per month were a direct result of frequent posting on these sites.


Do not take away your team’s access to social media!

Even if they don’t use it for work, a short amount of friendly interaction on Facebook can be beneficial to the overall production. Here’s the bottom line–they’re gonna do it anyway. Most of your employees have smart phones and checking their posts is part of their hour to hour lives.

Regulate it.  Give them a time window when they are allowed to take social media breaks.

Use it to your advantage. If your company generates revenue from the public, come up with contests and promotions that encourages staff to reach out to their power circle on Facebook and generate some new business.

You’ll keep your team happy and productive.

Go get ’em Tiger!

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Just Ask for the Sale

justaskToday’s ditty is gonna be short and sweet.


Too many sales people work on their pitch and master their craft only to severely fail and drop the ball by missing the most important step in the process.

The boldness of actually asking something like this:

“Assuming all the numbers are agreeable is it fair to say that I can expect to earn your business today?”

Oh my gosh! What if they say, “No”???

Then you know where you stand and you become a salesperson and help them change their mind.

No games, no mystery…just the facts. When they decline to do business with you it’s time to immediately ask them why not. See where your presentation failed and do your best to recover.

Don’t be afraid. That bold approach sometimes forces an unsure customer to move forward.

Go get ’em Tiger!

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Turn ‘Cold Calls’ into ‘Connect Calls’

coldcallI don’t think I ever met a salesman that enjoyed making cold calls. In fact, it’s usually the entry level gig to any major sales position with a company.

I’m a salesman. I’m not gonna lie. Cold calling sucks. However, the name Cold Call doesn’t mean that you have to be cold with the person you’re speaking with. Get off the script and find a way to connect. A first time phone chat has a much better chance of converting into a future deal if the focus is on the company and person you’re calling.

Meaning, don’t call to promote your product, call them to fill a need [with the help of your product]!

Lew Hoff, President of Bartizan Mobile Apps wrote a recent piece about this on TSNN. Hoff recommends using their profiles on social media as a tool. “If you use Linkedin and Twitter your cold calls don’t have to feel like cold calls because you know something about them and can possibly relate on a human level. The prospect could be a neighbor, went to the same school, have the same hobby. Be open with the people when you call about having looked at their LinkedIn profiles. It helps break the ice. Plus it shows you’ve gone to more trouble than 90% of the other salespeople who call them every day.”

Great points, read the full story here.

Lew says Cold Calls like this are considered Connect Calls. And that makes perfect sense because you are making a connection early which dramatically improves your chances of closing the deal.

Go get ’em Tiger!


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Today’s Companies Employ A lot of Opera Singers; ‘Me Me Me Me Me Me’

mememeFrom the President of the company all the way down to the retail sales associate, every company has their share of opera singers.  If you listen closely, you’ll hear them warming up, “me me me me me me me me me me!”

And that’s one of the largest problems with businesses today, they’re all about themselves and instant gratification selling.

Instant Gratification Sales

The car business is one of the most obvious businesses that operate with a ‘sell now and don’t be concerned about the future’ approach. These dealerships actually train their people to hold on to customer’s ankles, lie, spit, beg and steal in order to make them buy something right then and there. And it’s not an unwritten rule. Tactics that most of us consider “sleazy” are actually written in the sales handbook.

At the dealership I used to work at, the General Manager once pondered in a management meeting why lease conversions were down. Meaning, why were people returning their cars and not getting into new lease agreements? The answer was simple. The customer that your company completely screwed over from 2 or 3 years ago didn’t develop amnesia. They remembered the painstaking process your sales team put them through and couldn’t wait to give their business to someone else at the end of their term.

Unfortunately, these tactics have spilled over into all industries. The culture of the business nation today is self serving and focused on immediate results, without considering long term affects.

[Recommended Reading: The Impulse Society–America in the Age of Instant Gratification]

If you put this topic in a search engine, you will find a lot of organizations, authors and advisers who will actually support the instant gratification sales process. Makes no sense to me.

Yes, I want the sale now. Yes, I want to meet monthly goals. Yes, I want to beat my competition. Yes, I want my company to grow. But I don’t want to have a short term victory, I want a lifetime victory.

When I worked in the car biz, one of the reasons that I was told not to let anyone leave is because 9 out of 10 who go, never come back. And generally, this was a legitimate statistic because I watched it unfold before my very eyes with other sales people at the dealership. Notice how I said “with other sales people”.

When it came to customers that I let leave to ‘think about it’, I had an unprecedented return rate [“Be-Back” as they called it] of 60-70%. Managers and salespeople alike couldn’t believe it and constantly asked me what my secret was.

“It’s simple,” I would say. “I didn’t annoy them with skeevey tactics that are obviously intended to trick them into a rapid decision.”

People aren’t dumb. Yet, frequently sales people and executives treat them like they are because they may be unfamiliar with ‘how it works’. What they don’t consider is, today the truth is one Google search away and two thirds of the folks you meet are going to try to verify the stuff your shoveling. If that’s the case, you better be shoveling sparkly soft fairy dust and not that stinky stuff. Cause once you’re exposed, you may still get the sale, but they’ll never forget that you were a shark.

If you’re an ‘all about now’ sales peep, you may sleep fine at night knowing that you annoyed the customer, so long as you got the sale. But I’m telling you that this mindset is a huge mistake. You have to think about the future, even if it means that you don’t get the sale now.

Giving a customer an incredible experience with integrity, good service, honest assessments and a no pressure approach will make them advocates of your business. Not only will they do business with you now [or in the near future], they will tell everyone they know about you. It’s a weird thing with humans. We love to brag about knowing a guy. [“I got a guy”] However, on the other hand, as humans, we also love to tell our friends to stay away from people that didn’t do us right. [“Don’t go there, they ripped me off”]

I don’t need a crystal ball to tell you about your future if you take the Instant Gratifications Sales approach. You may have a nice run, but you won’t have longevity. Make a commitment to giving people good service, even if it costs you the sale, and you will be paid back 100 fold in due time.

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Should I Send My Customers A Survey?

5starI was reading a sales message board recently and someone was asking if they should send out satisfaction surveys to their customers.

The problem with message boards is any yah-hoo can respond and most of the replies were pretty weak in my opinion. Advice was being posted from folks that really sounded like they didn’t know what they were talking about and just wanted to say something for the sake of saying something.

So, let me answer it here.


Always send a 5 star survey to ALL of your customers. It serves two purposes.

1–If the survey comes back with 4 or 5 stars, you can proudly post it on your website, in your lobby, flyers, etc.

“See what people are saying about us!”

2–If the survey comes back with 3 stars or less, now you know exactly how your customer feels and you can follow up with them to see if you can repair their satisfaction level.

Remember, most customers ‘buy and go’ without ever telling you how they feel. In fact, you usually only know how customers like your services based on how good of a month that you’re having.


With all the 4 and 5 star responses that you receive, make sure to have a templated email or direct website link ready that you can forward to them. This additional communication tool should be linked to Yelp! and other well known survey services that consumers look at when they are making buying decisions. If a customer is bragging about you in your in-house survey, most of them will be happy to continue the love on a public site.

Just ask. If you gave them great service, they’ll happily go to work for you!

Surveys are great tools for a business! Do it! 🙂

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Secret: You’re Not the First Salesperson They Met

handshakeI know this may come as a surprise to some of you, but the prospects you contact, have probably met other sales people before. They have probably been pitched, presented and smooshed about similar products and services.

I know, I know, that’s a little heartbreaking because you thought the canned sales process that you learned from a company handbook was gonna be the exact formula you needed to see your picture on the wallboard behind the reception desk at ABC Contractors.

Sorry to burst your bubble but I’m here to encourage you to think outside the box. Take your game to a higher level by incorporating your personality and some creativity in the mix. Don’t fight your way tooth and nail to a pitch appointment and then blow it by presenting the prospect with the same old sales pitch that they’ve seen over and over again. Shock, awe, and wow them.

When I was 23 years old, I decided I was going to start an advertising agency. I didn’t know anything about the advertising business but as a performer, voice over artist and singer, I knew how to make commercials and jingles.

I never consulted anyone about my business decision and there really wasn’t much of an internet back then to look up any tips or blog postings about it, so I flew completely blind.

I was living in Santa Barbara at the time and one day, I hit the streets and started walking into restaurants around town, just to grab a flyer or to-go menu. After I collected the material I was looking for, I went home and produced full blown :30 and :60 second radio commercials featuring these businesses. I had a different style with my commercials, mostly humorous and some very in-your-face.

I then contacted all the local radio stations and asked for their rate sheets, explaining that I was a new agency in town and I would be bringing them business. Sales managers were all very cooperative and happy to help.

As soon as I marked up the spot rates and printed out some advertising contracts, I took a boom-box and all the cassettes I made [back then we had these odd shaped things called ‘tapes’–Google it], and I re-visited all of the businesses that I had made the commercials for. I dressed nice, but not in a suit. I asked for the owner or manager, shook their hand and hit “play” on the machine.

I had a 100% selling success rate. There was not one business that didn’t move forward in an advertising campaign with my agency.

The radio stations loved me. I was bringing them so much business that one company finally asked me to host my own show on their station. That later led to me having a career in radio so I let my business fade, but had I stayed with it, I know it would have grown tremendously.

Why was I so successful?

I came up with something different. Once they heard their name in lights, they couldn’t say no.  People love to be in the spotlight [if they only knew about ‘selfies’ back then].  But it’s deeper than that. Here’s a guy that walks in off the street with something they can grab a hold of. Something tangible. I didn’t walk in wearing a sales-suit with a bunch of graphs on a piece of paper, touting all kinds of padded statistics. I handed them something they could experience for themselves.

The quality of the commercials and the approach was so good, they didn’t even care what radio station I placed them on. They trusted my judgment. Then when the commercials brought results, they kept reordering more blocks of advertising.

One customer actually called me after a few months of advertising and said, “hey, I think we’re gonna have to tone down the commercials a little. This last one you did, some lady complained to me that it really bothered her.”

“Where was she when she complained,” I asked him.

“She was in line ordering food.” He responded.

“Do you still want to change our approach?” I asked.

Whatever industry your in, there’s always a creative game plan you can put together to stand out among your competitors.

When I sold cars, I walked out to greet customers on the lot and began by saying, “Hi my name is Wayne and I hate car salesman”.  No one expected that and it brought their guard down.

When I sold AFLAC insurance, I didn’t just pitch the payouts a customer could get, I showed a breakdown of what one of my family members who fought a long bout of cancer would have been paid if she had AFLAC. I said, “If I was working here sooner, she would have been covered and been paid $30,000+”

You get the idea. Now go do it. Put yourself in your prospects seat. What part of your sales process would annoy or alienate you if you were pitching yourself? Remove it and come up with something fresh…and go make some money dang it! 🙂



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The Macy’s & Gimbel’s Policy Works

macysgimbelsAs humans, we’re pretty competitive by nature. Not just when we play sports or fight with our siblings growing up, we’re also very competitive in business. Day in and day out we are plotting and planning the best ways to beat the competition in our industry.

When I was a kid, every year just after Thanksgiving, I always looked forward to watching the classic movie, “Miracle on 34th Street” with Natalie Wood. The folks over there in Hollywood did a decent remake of the movie in the 90s, but I love the black and white classic best.

As a child, I’m sure what I loved most about the film was all the fantasy of the real Santa Claus playing the part of department store Santa and how they proved he was real in a courtroom of non-believers. However, something else in that film stuck with me for many years–The Macy’s & Gimbel’s Policy.

In the movie, the man that Macy’s hired to play Santa, sent parents over to their direct competition, Gimbel’s, if Macy’s didn’t stock an item that they were looking for. You can imagine the uproar these actions started within the company, sending precious customers straight to their competition.

As you would expect, Kris Kringle was about to be fired, until something amazing happened. The public was so impressed with Macy’s appearance of genuine care for their customer’s needs, business boomed through the roof. Macy’s came across as a company who puts the people first and it greatly benefited them.

Now you can say “that’s only a movie” but I’m here to tell you, a similar policy or stance in everyday business works as well. I’m not telling to you send customers to your competition if you’re simply out of stock and need to buy a little time to replenish. I’m not telling you to teach your staff to back away from a “product switch” if there’s an opportunity for them to be sales people instead of order takers. At the end of the day, there are quotas to be met and bills to pay.

What I am saying is, people are armed with smartphones, tablets, apps, computers and every tool they need to be aware that you ain’t the only game in town. So don’t act like you have to do whatever it takes to sell them at that moment in fear that they may find a better deal elsewhere. Give them the better deal now. If you can’t, then give them a better reason to buy from you. But don’t try to earn their business by putting your foes down, criticizing or bad mouthing them. People are watching you and listening to every word you say. Trash talkin’ other companies is a turn off and it may send someone directly to them.

When I sold Ford automobiles and trucks, people constantly came in, went through the demo process and then said, “I don’t know…I like this car, but I’m think I’m going to buy a…” [insert brand name here]. When you spend 30-60 minutes showing someone all the features of a car, taking them on test drives and really pouring your passion into your brand, it kinda stings when a potential customer tells you they are probably going somewhere else. Especially when the car they said they want to buy is far less superior in quality, design, features, etc.

What did I do?

I made sure I knew all the features of the other cars in my competition circle so that I knew how my cars compared to them. And when I spoke about the other brand, I never put them down.

“Honda makes a great car, no doubt about it,” I would say. “If you plan on keeping the car for a long time, Honda will last and give you a great life with minimum maintenance.”

I had a manager once yell at me for that kind of advice. But it’s the truth. What I am supposed to do, lie and say the car is a piece of junk? I’m not that kind of person. I sell truth with truth.

“Let me ask you a question,” I would continue. “If price wasn’t an option and both cars were made by the same manufacturer, which one is nicer by design, more comfortable and has better features?”

9 out of 10 times the answer was my car. Oh yea, I know Ford used to make horrible vehicles but times have changed. Detroit is pumping out some award winning sets of wheels over the last few years.

By asking this question and getting the customer to choose my car, now I know the only thing holding back the sale is price or brand name. That’s easy to overcome by just building value of my product, not by trashing another brand.

And customers appreciate it when you respect other brands–because they may like these other brands. You trashing brands they like makes them feel like you’re trashing them.

Here’s an idea. Why not learn about your competition and see if there’s anything they offer that could enhance the products or services that you sell? In other words, maybe share a customer.

If you don’t have any product that work for a given person, send them to the competition knowing that you may get nothing out of it. Most of the time, that kind of service, either convinces a customer to do business with you at some time down the road, helps change their mind back to doing business with you now or it gives them reason to recommend you to others.

I had dozens of referral customers that came to me from people that I never sold a car to.  They sent their friends and family to me because even when they didn’t buy a car off of me, I treated them with respect and appreciation. People want that kind of service for the people they care about.

When someone told me they were buying from someone else, I even went so far as to say, “hey, when you’re over there negotiating that other brand, call me before you sign so I can help make sure they’re not taking advantage of you.” I offered to help them buy another brand. No, I’m not crazy.  That level of care for their needs is the reason I never had a bad month. It’s the reason I was constantly promoted. It’s the reason I still get calls well after I left the company from people that want to buy more cars off of me.

Send them to Gimbel’s.  You will prosper greatly from it.