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Thursday, December 6, 2012

9 tips how to sell through social media

There is often confusion about the difference between LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and how each applies to the sales process. In a nutshell, here is how these platforms fit.
How companies sell with changing of social media, social media consultancy Social Centered Selling unveils how to monetise the phenomena.
1. The sales landscape has changed
Right now, your prospects are reading about your products and services on blogs and in forums. They are scanning YouTube videos, your LinkedIn profile, Focus forums, Tweets and searching on Google for information about what they want to buy and from whom; they are ignoring the text on your website.
Now that social media has arrived on the scene, the classic formula of selling has been disrupted. Buyer 2.0 does not need you to educate them. Using the web and social tools, they are well educated on the features, functionality and pricing of available solutions long before they have their first conversation with sales.
Consider these facts:
Studies by Experian Marketing Services indicate that social networking now accounts for 15% of internet visits:
  • Twitter: 100m users.
  • LinkedIn: 150 millions
  • Google+: 65 millions
  • Facebook: 1 billions
2. What buyers want you to know
For sales organisations to succeed in today’s social business environment, they must first accept that buyer behaviour has changed! Buyer 2.0 is web savvy, informed and probably knows more about you than you know about them. In this new world, buyers start the sales process without you, which means that sellers must shift from a transactional approach to the sales process to a solution oriented, value-focused, and socially-connected approach.
These days, most buying decisions now start, move forward, and are very often closed online or over the phone without a single face-to-face meeting. That’s a frightening thought for the sales professional who has long believed that the only way to “close a deal” is to be sitting across the table from the prospect.
In addition to great people and sales skills, salespeople must also demonstrate that they are social media savvy and have strong business acumen. In Selling to the C-Suite, authors Stephen J. Bistritz, Ed.D. and Nicholas A.C. Read conducted extensive research on what buyers want salespeople to know. The question posed was: What has to happen in meetings with salespeople for the executive to feel it was effective?
The answer:
  • Demonstrated responsibility
  • Listened before proposing a solution
  • Understood my business goals
  • Displayed knowledge of my industry
Your prospect expects you to understand their business and with social networking tools like LinkedIn and Twitter, and business intelligence tools like InsideView, there is just no excuse for not having done your homework. We’ll get into that in more detail, but for now what you need to understand is that the days of walking in the door blind to your prospect’s issues are over. During the meeting is not the time to ask questions that you should already know the answers to. Meeting preparation is not optional.
3. Understand the technology
LinkedIn is your business networking tool and aids salespeople on the front-end of the sales cycle. Networking, lead generation, opportunity qualification, securing referrals and establishing business credibility in your field are just a few of the ways that you can use LinkedIn to your advantage.
Facebook is more conversational and personal in nature. For business, a Facebook fan page is often used by marketers to create customer loyalty and retention on the back-end of the sales cycle. By cultivating fans, marketing helps to ensure that your company remains front and centre in people’s minds.
Twitter is a micro-blogging tool and the real-time nature of the information being shared is a gold mine of business intelligence. You can follow your competitors to see what kinds of messages they are sending out. Or, follow the company that your prospect works for and stay on top of what kind of information they are sharing, what questions they are asking and the vendors they may be recommending.
4. The social selling approach
Social selling has risks, but sitting on the sidelines is the greatest risk of all!
You have been selling successfully for some time, so you may be asking, why do I need to worry about social media? The answer should be obvious. Your prospects are there! They are checking out what you offer and what your competitors offer. Who do you want them to choose?
Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Sales approaches that worked five or 10 years ago are just not effective; it is time to let them go. Yes, it will take a little upfront work to establish your foundation, but it is not as complicated as you may think.
Positioning yourself to succeed in a social selling world includes these elements:
  • Having a plan.
  • Picking the right tools.
  • Defining your audience.
  • Implementing actionable tactics.
  • Crafting your message.
  • Measuring and tracking.
  • Investing in training!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Financial causes flock to risk

Australia's financial planners are becoming increasingly reliant on risk advice to drive business income.

The findings of CoreData's Annual is at Risk Report,which found that, on average, the proportion of business income derived from insurance advice for advisers has increased to 52.8% in 2012, up from 47.1% in 2011 and 40.4% in 2010.
This reflects a shift in focus in the advice industry from investment growth to asset protection, said CoreData.
“Advisers are looking for utility in the life company's offer, as seen in the focus on competitiveness of pricing options and cover definitions across income protection, term life, trauma and TPD," said CoreData head of advice, wealth and super Kristen Turnbull.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Culture of ageism plagued Finance industry

The vast majority of finance professionals insist age discrimination is prevalent in Australia’s financial services industry. So how can we cure this damaging epidemic?

Seven in 10 Australia-based finance professionals insist age discrimination exists in the financial services industry, and 35% claim to have experienced it personally, according to FinancialCareers’ latest Diversity Survey.
Age discrimination usually means older workers suffering, but the survey found that of those who said they had personally experienced age discrimination, 31% said it was because they were “too young”, while 35% reported it was because they were “too old”.
However, an overwhelming majority of respondents (80%) agree that workers aged 30 and under are adequately valued by their company. When asked the same question about workers aged over 50, the percentage of respondents in agreement dropped to 65%. 
“The industry is regularly accused of suffering from a culture of ageism, and these latest results suggest that there is still a long way to go,” said eFinancialCareers managing director Asia Pacific, George McFerran.
“What’s surprising though is that younger workers are also reporting that they have been discriminated against. This may be a result of increasing pressure in a tight hiring market, where there are currently fewer middle management roles available for younger staff to apply for.”
McFerran said making the effort to support and retain experienced workers is an essential strategy for firms’ long-term success.
“Right now there is a strong argument for financial services companies to put in place deliberate strategies for engaging and retaining older workers to ease skills shortages and sure-up their future for the long term,” said McFerran.
“They bring professional contacts, relationships, credibility and – most of all – experience.  Their expertise during challenging times like these can prevent younger professionals from making potentially unwise decisions due to a lack of perspective that can only be remedied by experience.”
McFerran added that financial services firms should revisit their retention strategies to ensure they are fair and equitable to older professionals, as well their recruitment strategies to ensure older workers are represented in a way that brings long-term value to the organisation.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Create Repeat Business Part 2

The feedback was active about my recent article  How to Create Repeat Business I decided to continue with a few more ideas about this important topic.

by... Phillip R Smith  FAICD AII AIM CD

Founding Director of Central Insurance Brokers Perth West Australia

Here’s one more idea you can use after the sale in last week’s Dry Cleaner example...
Always give the customer another chance to spend more money with you when they place their order.  Before the customer returns for their clothes, you could have someone call and say….

“Mr. Smith, when you brought your clothes in yesterday, you indicated on the raffle ticket that your wife’s favorite color was blue.  I thought you might be interested in a limited shipment of exotic blue silk scarves I had exclusively imported from India.  We’ve only got 10 of them left, and I am giving our newest customers the first chance to look at them. They are great anniversary or birthday gifts.  Would you like me to set them aside for you to look at when you pick up your clothes?”

Are you getting the idea?  What intrigues me is how much time and effort a business goes through to get a new customer, and then totally ignores them afterwards.
You have worked hard in your business.  You’ve taken all the risks and you have developed a product or service that can make you some money.  You put your money into advertising and promotion. 
Now it’s time to generate the key to your long-term success and profitability. Your profits are in creating lifetime customers. 
The final portion of this very important concept is to look at your database.  When I do seminars I find out that most of the attendees have an impression that database marketing is simply “direct mail” and that it didn’t work when they tried it.
Nothing can be further from the truth.  Direct Mail is only one small aspect of database marketing.  I’m really talking about the technological ability to mass customize your customer list.  In other words, you use the computer to do your hard work for you.  But the computer has to have the information before it can do the hard work.
What is so often overlooked by many businesses is the “Lifetime Value” of a customer.  With most businesses, the lifetime value is often ‘0’.  They spend needlessly on advertising for new customers and that new customer only buys enough to pay for the acquisition cost and never comes back.  What a waste!

But with database marketing strategies working for you, every customer becomes a potential lifetime profit center, not just a hopeful.  Inexpensive software now allows you to do all kinds of neat and innovative things with your client list.  But, you must create the list first.
The first step you must take is to think very creatively about what you want to accomplish, so that you gather the right information.  And then you have to sort the information for the specific applications you have created to follow-up with your customer and get them to come back and spend more money.
Let me go back to the Dry Cleaner example I used. He could have analyzed his database and discovered that 77% of his clients live within a 10 block area of this store.  80% of those who live nearby have 2 or more children under the age of 10.  With that information in hand he could easily design a promotion of some type that would be very specific.
Let’s suppose that there is a Pizza Parlor next door.  He can propose a Joint Promotion. The Pizza Parlor will offer a 50% off special just to the children of the Dry Cleaners customers.  Now, he can use Direct Mail effectively.
He makes the following offer.  He will buy their 2 kids a 12inch pizza to share, if the parents bring in at leas $25 worth of cleaning during the specified week.  Probably the free offer of food for their kids is almost impossible to pass up, and let’s say that 300 families show up for the offer. Let’s also assume that they didn’t only bring in $25 worth of clothing but $45.
If you do the math it comes out like this.  300 families at $45 average = $13,500.  Deduct the 300 pizzas at half price; probably about $5 is $1500 dollars.
Here it is:
$13,000 Income from Cleaning
  1. Minus 244 Advertising Cost
  2. Minus 1500 Pizza cost
  3. Equals $11,756 in profits.
All because he allowed the customers to spend more money with him.  There are many other benefits from this type of attitude.
His customers really appreciate the effort and creativity that went into this type of promotion, as opposed to just putting an ad in the paper.  His competitors don’t know what is happening, and they are left scratching their heads instead of running right out and copying him. The Dry Cleaner can continue this type of marketing month after month with astounding results.
I’ve come full circle on this concept and I know you get the idea that you can join the endless search for new customers, always worrying about how to get more of them; or, you can approach every customer as the “first” in your business life, and turn them into lifetime “profit centers” by creatively interacting with them.
People want to be recognized, rewarded, and appreciated.  Do it well, and they will reward you with increasing amounts of their business.
Do it poorly, or not at all, and they will reward you with never coming back.  You generally get one chance to convert that prospect to a lifetime profit center.  Don’t blow it, because they won’t give you a second chance.

Forward a copy of this newsletter to a colleague; it may be just what they need to take their business to another level.

Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Create Repeat Business

One of the most important secrets I can share with you is to give you the tools to building a business with residual benefits.

Editorial by
Phillip R Smith  FAICD AII AIM CD
Founding Director of Central Insurance Brokers Perth West Australia    more about me at

Residual means “the constant, reoccurring stream of income that is a direct result of a system that you set in place, and that creates the environment for the Customer to continually revisit and purchase from your place of business.”
The systems I’m going to give you over the next few weeks, when implemented, will accomplish this for you.

You may think this is about getting new customers or clients, but your wrong.  It’s about keeping clients and making them more and more profitable. 
The process actually starts with the mentality you have about your very first customer.
Most businesses are constantly trying to get new customers and forgetting about how profitable an existing customer is to their bottom line.  They function as though every day is the process of getting that “first” customer. 

dry^cleaningImage by rjs1322 via Flickr

Retail, service, or manufacturing, it really doesn’t matter, the problem is the same.  They are constantly thinking, “How do we get more customers.”  And day after day, they go through the motions of advertising, marketing, and hoping for new customers.

What I’m trying to say is that your attitude regarding that first customer must change.  Ask yourself a few questions about that first customer, like:  

·         How did you treat them? What did you think about that first customer?
·         What happened the moment they walked out of your place of business?
·         What did they do? 
·         What did you do? 
·         Did you do the necessary follow-up that is necessary to create a life-time customer?

Whatever happened with that first customer is likely what has happened with every first customer since then.   Let’s say that you’re a Dry Cleaner.  I take my shirt, pants, or coat into your cleaners for the first time.  You greet me pleasantly, take my garments, and I am pretty sure they will be done professionally and ready to pick up in four days.  Then I leave while you go to work on them.

What’s wrong with this picture?  Opportunity is always lost on the initial visit of a first time customer.
The Bank of England in Threadneedle Street, Lo...

Let me give you a list of what should have been done:
  1. Why didn’t you have a good reason to collect my name, address and phone number? It would have been very easy.  You could have done any one of many things.  Here’s one…

You could have asked me if I would like to enter the drawing for $50 worth of free dry cleaning, and handed me the entry ticket, along with a pen, to complete. If you’re a bit above average, and most of you are because you’ve subscribed to this newsletter, you will have already figured out that it would also be nice to have some more information for that customer to add on the form.

How about the names of the other family members, especially the spouse’s name. In other words, the form can include lines for the wife’s favorite color, number of children, anniversary date, birth date, and many other questions that can help you in the future.

You could have asked them most anything and because you were offering them a nice
prize, they most likely will respond.  If not, what did you lose?
  1. When your business is slow, you can input the data you are collecting and put it into the computer, or you can hire a part time high school student to do it.  If you are still using a shoebox with dividers, that’s ok also.  Just make sure you have a system that lets you get to the customer when it’s important.  A computer is so much easier and there are software programs that help you immensely.
  1. But, before the customer got out the door, you should have given them a coupon for any of their family members to use.
I think you get the idea.  The way you treated your first customer very likely set the tone for every other customer who walked into your business.  Perhaps it is time to review the way you do it now and change it.

Your client list is the single most valuable asset you own, when used the right way.
I’ll go over that in the next issue, but for now, let’s continue about the process of how to treat your customer.

  1. Always give the customer an opportunity to add to their purchase before the transaction is completed.  This is as simple as you asking the customer, “John, this fine suit is a very expensive type of cloth.  We’ve found this fabric really gains back its luster and crisp look if you do (whatever).  I’d be happy to treat your suit that way for only $1.95.
The five-dollar-an-hour part timer at McDonalds is taught to do this every time---“And would you like fries with that sandwich, sir?”

Not only would you increase your cash flow, but also your profits soar unbelievably.  Let’s do some Math.  If it cost you an average of $5.00 to get a new client (the cost of advertising divided by the number of responses), and if the cost of your service or product is $5.00, then you would have to do $10.00 worth of dry cleaning just to break even.

At that point you haven’t made a single cent of profit.  Now, if you can add on a $2.00 up-sell prior to delivery, you have just increased profits 20%.

The Math proves it.  You didn’t make a cent on the original $10, but on $12, you make a profit of $2.00.  That’s 20% more than you would have had.

Value of production of resource commodities in...I can tell you with confidence the team at "Central Insurance Brokers" are very focused about Customer "Value added" measurements. The client team system is focused and moulded around Customer priorities and the evidence of it's success is consistent growth of repeat business, since 1980.

It's one thing getting a customer but it's a whole new ball game keeping them and crew at Central do it well! It's why they are leading the way and watched by so many.

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