Thursday, 26 September 2013

Making or Selling appointments and obtaining Interviews

 The challenge of getting in front of the right people at the right time becomes greater and greater.

  Making appointments and obtaining interviews with both new prospects and existing clients has become tougher.

There are three main methods available to you:

 1. Phone

 2.  E mail + outlook link Tutorial

3. "Cold" Calling

Other methods like email, advertisement returns and direct mail can be used either to obtain leads or to prepare the ground for you, but any of these is likely to be supplemented by one of the three main methods.

The basic sequence

This is the same whichever method you are using ( face to face or phoning) and is very similar to the sequence of an actual sales presentation:

Clarify your objective(s): the primary one must be to get to meet the person, but secondary ones could be to obtain information or referrals.

Prepare: remind yourself of the questions/facts/benefits you will use according to how the situation develops, and how you will answer the most likely put-off’s or objections; review the information you already have about the person/organisation; ensure you have your diary and other materials to hand.

Be polite and respectful but sound confident: use your prospect’s name immediately; be sure to get it right; give your first name and surname; never appear apologetic for interrupting but thank the prospect for speaking to you if he/she has done so at an inconvenient time.

Obtain attention quickly: use a question, a referral, a previous request to “contact me again”, a factual statement or some other ‘attention getter’ as soon as possible; don’t waste time.

Explain the benefits of a meeting: motivate the prospect to want to meet you by giving a beneficial reason for doing so; but remember that at this stage you are selling the interview and not the product/service.

• Answer objections and avoid put-offs politely but firmly: always appreciate the client’s point of view; never argue; emphasise that the meeting can be brief; explain why a personal meeting is necessary in the client’s interests; don’t be led into making your actual presentation by phone (unless this is appropriate).

Close on your objective: ask for the appointment directly, with or without one of the back-up closing techniques (e.g. offer alternative times/dates); be as flexible as necessary in terms of when/where; resort to a secondary objective only if you completely fail in your primary one.

Special considerations

• PAs and contact's coworkers: they must be your friends and allies not your adversaries; be polite and never ‘talk down’ to or patronise them; always introduce yourself with first name and surname and be careful about the use of their first names (if in doubt, don’t); ask for their help; smile (even when on the phone); be friendly but don’t waste their time; ask them for information; if they ask for further details before they will put you through, keep it short and simple and politely repeat your request.

• Receptionists: Although there a less around compared to 'back in the day' if you meet a reception desk do exactly as for PAs and the contact's coworkers above but when cold calling be patient and do not rush them; offer to speak directly to your prospect on the receptionist’s phone if preferred; be confident but not aggressive.

• Literature: emailing pdfs, mailing or leaving literature is seldom effective by itself; it can even be counter productive because it gives a prospect a reason for not seeing you personally; always be prepared to explain why it is not a substitute; have ‘mini literature’ which you can send if necessary which will simply whet the client’s appetite; if you have to send full literature then use it as a reason for calling back for a personal appointment.

Business cards: try to avoid giving them to receptionists straightaway, as a snap (negative) judgement may be made by a prospect if your card is read over the phone or presented ‘cold’.

Related Links
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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Real world Marketing 2

In a previous post we looked at the four Ps and 3 Ps of our Marketing Model

Our marketing model looks straight forward but now we need to put some real world factors into the model to make it useful for practitioners.

'Real World' Factors
The next group of factors to be taken into account in our marketing model are collectively referred to as the PESTLE factors.  When considering each of our four P’s we must do so taking into account the following:


The political environment can significantly affect our marketing plans and strategy.  National and international considerations must be constantly monitored so that we can adapt our marketing to changes in legislation, taxation regulations, controls or political climate. 

The internal politics of customer organisations may also cause a change in approach, especially with direct selling.

Economic factors will also have a direct effect on the success or failure of any product.  In general our economy is cyclical and follows a pattern of recession, depression, recovery and prosperity.  No product can be launched without considering the overall state of the nation's economy and the effects of, for example, recession on potential purchasers.

Sociological factors can have significant impact on product development and the way we price, distribute and promote.  Fashion influences vary from industry to industry, but green issues are becoming increasingly significant in every area of business.  We also need to take into consideration demographic information, ethical and other social attitudes.

We need to ensure that our marketing is keeping pace with developments in technology to stay ahead of the competition.  New materials and developments in electronics can make products obsolete overnight.

As well as the PEST factors there are two other key elements which we must take into consideration when building our marketing plan:


Legal factors include - health and safety, equal opportunities, advertising standards, consumer rights and laws, product labelling and product safety. Companies need to know what is and what is not legal in order to trade successfully. If an organisation trades globally this becomes a very tricky area to get right as each country has its own set of rules and regulations.


As increasing scarcity of raw materials has become more critical over the last twenty years  factors such as  pollution targets, doing business as an ethical and sustainable company, carbon footprint targets set by government.. More and more customers are demanding that the products they buy are sourced ethically, and if possible from a sustainable source.
The TIME factor is a critical element when any marketing plan is being considered.  No product can succeed, in spite of its relevance and quality, if it is launched too soon or too late.  Too soon and there is no market for it - too late and competitors may be so strongly established that it is impossible to make real impact in the market.

Although we should not become obsessed with competitive suppliers we need to ensure that our information about prices, products, developments and activity is up to date so that our marketing plan can counteract competitor activity


Related Links

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Self-actualised Selling -Maslow and Selling 70 years down the road.

Behavioural Psychologists, Neuroscientists, Humanists, Evolutionary Psychologists and the current UK Government loved ‘happiness movement’ support or challenge ( and some even reject)  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

 It has come under attack for the lack of empirical research it was based upon.  

Perhaps one can challenge the sequence of his hierarchy,  his postulation of  2% of folk ( which naturally Maslow included himself) achieving self-actualisation as questionable .

 Individual behaviour also seems to respond to several needs - not just one.

For those in the research field there is also a problem if not some considerable debate in determining when a level has actually been "satisfied“

 The model ignores the often-observed behaviour of individuals who tolerate low-pay for the promise of future benefits for instance interns.

Maybe Maslow's contribution to selling today is more from a philosophical perspective yet there has also always been an attractive intuitiveness from his approach based on classic story telling of the journey of human experience and stories of business success.

Salespeople can recognise his levels and their sequence from classic fiction such Daniel Defoe’s The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe  ( 1719) . Amongst other things Defoe was a salesman or as historians are wont to describe “a general merchant, dealing at different times in hosiery, general woolen goods and wine “.  This book should be on every salesperson’s bookshelf or downloaded on their e book reader.

Should reading not be your thing, a copy of the classic  2000 movie directed by Robert Zemeckis , ‘Castaway’ starring the great Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland is essential viewing. William Broyles Junior the writer I guess must have been part inspired by Defoe's Crusoe.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow's theory of human motivation is 70 years old but it continues to have a strong influence on the world of business.

A recent BBC World service radio programme ( I player version available) asked of Maslow’s Theory What is it, and is it right?

The picture that painted a thousand words.

Once the somewhat complex theory had been illustrated into the simple visual of a pyramid / triangle this visual aid became commonly reproduced symbol which many believe holds the key to personal fulfilment and business success.

On sales training courses as management courses that triangle is as inevitable as ‘biscuits and role-playing.’

In 1943, the US psychologist Abraham Maslow published a paper called A Theory of Human Motivation, in which he proposed that people had five sets of needs, which come in a particular order. As each level of needs is satisfied, the desire to fulfil the next set kicks in.

First, are the basic needs for bodily functioning - fulfilled by eating, drinking and going to the toilet. Maslow also included sexual needs in this group.

Then there is the desire to be safe, and secure in the knowledge that those basic needs will be fulfilled in the future too.
After that comes our need for love, friendship and company.

At this stage, Maslow wrote, “the individual may even forget that once, when he was hungry, he sneered at love".

The next stage is all about social recognition, status and respect.

And the final stage, represented in the graphic as the topmost tip of the triangle, Maslow labelled with the psychologists' term "self-actualisation".

It's about fulfilment - doing the thing that you were put on the planet to do.

"A musician must make music,
 an artist must paint,
 a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy," wrote Maslow.
 "What a man can be, he must be."

And so perhaps
"A SALESperson must sell "
(i.e. give the customer a damned good listening to )

Perhaps Maslow’s most useful contribution to selling is that he gets us to think about both the rational ad emotional motivations of our client.
To gain a fuller picture and more rounded picture of our client from the signals and observations e pick up from encounters in the work environment e.g. their office , their social environment e.g. corporate hospitality, networking events and for those few clients we meet in the domestic arena of their home.
Adaptations of Maslow ( Pragmatic rather than rigorously theoretical)
Related Links :
1st September 2013 BBC News Magazine
BBC World Service health check I player programme
Castaway movie