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I Don’t Have the Problem That You Are Trying To Solve

Products solve problems. If you are a business owner, salesman, or entrepreneur of any kind ask yourself what problem does your product solve?

Understanding the problem is the first step to all marketing. Your customer is in their current state. They have a problem. How does your product solve that problem and get the customer to their desired state? Here are additional thoughts on this marketing approach.

Now, as a consumer you also need to approach product purchasing this way. Using the “what problem” paradigm of shopping has some great benefits. When you see an advertisement for a new product ask yourself… what problem do I have that this will solve?

Here are the core advantages to this “Problem Solving” method of shopping:

  1. You actually get to the root of the issue. Sometimes you might be tempted to buy products that address a symptom of your problem but don't actually address the problem at all. A lot of money and time can be saved if you figure out the actual source of your problem and buy to address it.
  2. Often you will discover you don't have the problem. This happens to me all the time. Fellow business owners will tell me about the latest program or service they are using that has made life so much better. I take one look and say to myself… “This solves a problem that I don't have” and then I move on. Hey don't get me wrong the squatty potty ads are hilarious but I don't have an issue with my bowel movements so I'm good to just laugh at the videos on YouTube and move on in life.
  3. You can make more logical priced based decisions. What is it worth to you to solve that problem. When you really understand the problem you are trying to solve you may more easily understand what you would be willing to solve that problem.

7 Habits of Highly Successful Sales People

At my organization we are planning a new year workshop to help the sales team plan for 2012. Its important to help your team and your department focus on whats important. No matter how many books you have read or how many seminars you have been to; we all need reminders and time to “sharpen the saw.”

The outline below is an adaptation of Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as it may apply to media sales. Use this outline and adapt it for your industry and business.

Habit 1: Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Vision

  1. The first step in creating strong income is pro-activity.
  2. Create a lifestyle that helps you meet new leads. Make calling on new leads a top priority.
  3. Identifying potential conflicts or issues that will slow you down and addressing them with potential solutions to management.
  4. Take accountability for your results. You are the factor of your success or failure.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Leadership

  1. Deciding early on what your objectives are. What do you truly wish to accomplish in your job?
  2. Creating a mission statement that reflects your goals as a sales professional.
  3. Beginning each event, activity, or meeting knowing what you want to get out of it.
  4. Foreseeing possible problems with retention, discouragement, accounting, traffic, etc.
  5. Taking the proper steps to prepare to be an effective sales person and marketing consultant.

Habit 3: Put First Things First: Principles of Personal Management

  1. Understanding the four quadrants of effective production and knowing how to apply that to our business. Focusing on Revenue Producing Activities!
  2. Creating habits of time management and effective planning.
  3. Reserving time for all your roles in life, so as not to neglect anything.
  4. Setting time aside each week for Prospecting, Service, and Production, and Education/Training.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win: Principles of Interpersonal Leadership

  1. Commit yourself to Win/Win or no deal. Agree to sell clients who you need as clients and who need your stations.
  2. You must listen first. Discover who the client is and what problems they have in their business. Look for the solutions in your stations.
  3. Each part of the media buying experience has to be a new win. Show the client how accounting, production, and reporting is a win for them.
  4. Train the client to respect your time and learn to respect theirs.
  5. Understand how to create win win situations with other departments in the company.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

  1. Seek to understand the situation of each client. Find out what they want out of the advertising and what has brought them far enough to listen to you.
  2. Practice active listening skills. Truly listen to your clients and your team members to best understand their desires.
  3. Continue building a relationship with your clients to develop trust and credibility through listening to, and understanding them.
  4. Only when the client trusts you and believes you understand them, and have their best interests in mind, will they follow you.

Habit 6: Synergize Principles of Creative Communication

  1. Create environments of synergy with traffic, production, promotion, and accounting.
  2. Practice habits 4 & 5 in making synergistic moments happen.
  3. Synergize with each client individually to get full buy in.
  4. Seek out potential synergistic activities, such as creative meetings, brainstorming sessions, etc.
  5. Understand the unique abilities/responsibilities that each of our departments have, and think of how best to utilize them.
  6. Seek out the very best training in the industry and in your company from the top leaders.

Habit 7 Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

  1. Set aside Monthly, Weekly, and Daily planning and evaluation sessions.
  2. Renew your commitments and covenants in all aspects of life through sincere evaluation.
  3. Evaluate the best and less effective practices that you have been using in prospecting, retaining, and up selling your clients.
  4. Review this and other handouts and notes that will increase your effectiveness in prospecting, retaining, and up selling your clients.

Make the Numbers a Part of Your Life

numbers

I'll never forget an old manager of mine who once told me “What can be measured, can be improved.” I have always felt strongly about the importance of keeping track of results in order to improve. In high school I charted all of my race times for Cross Country and Track and Field into a spreadsheet for 4 years. I used charts to measure my improvement over time during a season and to closely compare improvement on the same tracks or courses. I know I was a freak back then, but this methodical nature has paid me back 10 fold.

If you have ever read any book about goal setting you know that goals must be written down. They must be specific and measurable. If you can't track it you can't achieve it. My sales team understand the importance of this. Every day when they come into my office they see a list of all of my personal and business 2011 goals written on my wall. Next to each goal is either a check-mark or a % of completion. On Mondays or Fridays I update each of my reports (mostly in Excel) to illustrate progress or regression.

Keeping track of the numbers is the very last thing that anyone wants to do. Its time consuming, boring, and hard to justify when a pile of urgent tasks cover your desk and email inbox. Never forget the long term necessity and importance of keeping track of the numbers. Numbers are an important part of every aspect of every business. If you are in advertising you need to keep track of your response in correlation with your advertising spend. If you are in sales you need to keep track of each activity in your sales cycle to track what is effective and what is not, in addition to defining when you are trending high or low in activity. If you are a web programmer, keep track of which activities take the most time so that you can accuratly manage your boss's or client's expectations.

Being methodical about watching the numbers will impress your superiors and your boss. If you are the boss then you know that a large part of your day needs to be engaged in analyzing the numbers. Without a range of measurement you will never be able to make wise decisions to increase productivity or return on investment.

What parts of your business are you measuring well or poorly? Are your tracking methods effective and consistent? Where does your data come from and are you taking the time to read it?

Cuss Words:: The things you say that lose you time and money

salesI come from a sales background. I started out doing outside sales for Verizon, T-Mobile, and Nextel and not too long after I was going door to door arcross the country selling satellite tv. When I would train newly hired sales reps I also went through a list of the industry sales people cuss-words.

What am I talking about? In any industry of sales there are always a series of words and phrases that trigger potential buyers into saying no or becoming defensive. These words tend to be the most common phrases that your customers are accustomed to hearing from your fellow sales reps.

The most effective salesman are able to get past the baricades that potential customers put up instinctively when they think they are being sold. This is the single most important skill perhaps even with the skill of closing. Telling your customer about features and benefits isn’t difficult if you can put them in a situation where they are truly listening to you.

Consider if you will what some of the cuss words might be in your industry. Telemarketers have a distinctive different set of cuss words than do kiosk in the mall sales people.

Please feel free to share your favorite industry sales cuss words below.