Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Don't Jump Rank to Make a Sale

How many times have you been trying to make a sale when you realize that the person you are dealing with does not have decision making authority? It happens all the time.

Here's a tip: Don't jump rank and go around them!

Here's why:
  • Even though your contact person doesn't make the decision, he is an influencer. You will make him mad by going around him or above his head - and then you are doomed.

  • The decision maker may have delegated the research on you or your company to this person because he doesn't have time to do it. Respect this chain of command.

What can you do?

  • Ask your contact person if it would be helpful for you to meet with the decision maker. But be careful not to insult their authority.

  • Ask if you can take your contact and the decision maker to lunch.

  • This one is a little dangerous - but you can have another person within your organization who has a higher ranking than you, contact the decision maker. He might say, "I know so-in-so and so-in-so have been working on this project and I just wanted to see if I can offer any assistance." I recommend this plan of action as a last resort.
We all want to talk to the decision maker - but it won't always happen. It's important to respect protocol and chains of command that your potential client has in place.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jazz Up Your Sales with the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Observing the Golden Rule will jazz up your sales. Observing the Golden Rule in business doesn't mean that you have to put all your cards on the table, reveal proprietary information to your customers, or make promises that are impossible to keep. And it doesn't mean that you have to give your product or services away at below market prices!

Early in my sales career I struggled with sales negotiations whenever I knew the profit margin levels were high. The company I worked for thought it was great! But I sometimes felt it was wrong. Was I taking advantage of someone? Here's what I learned: if you do a good enough job explaining how your product/service will benefit a client the price they pay will be secondary in their decision making process.

Here are some ways to jazz up your sales with the Golden Rule:

  • Respect people's time (biggy!), values, personal situations, family situations.
  • Honor your commitments. If you say, "I'll be there by 3:00 tomorrow," then be there!
  • Be the first to admit it if you've made a mistake. Don't wait and see if your client finds out. Be up front so your client doesn't think you were trying to sneak something by him.
  • Maintain price integrity. Know that your prices are fair and stick to them. Your clients will talk to each other - be sure they are all getting the same "deal."
  • Talk straight. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • Do a good job. Duh!

I still remember a customer of mine named "Dub" who was negotiating a big contract with my company. Dub had done everything salespeople hate: gotten several competitive bids, told me the price was way too high, broken down the price into several elements, argued with me on delivery and schedules, etc. Finally I was worn out and ready to forget it when Dub said to me, "Zan, this has to be a good deal for both of us. Your company needs to make money on this work, too." I was shocked! From that day forward I always shot straight with Dub - and he never called my competitors again.

The adage, "He who has the gold rules" is starting to lose ground. Even Corporate America is trying to abide by the Golden Rule. Companies are going green, donating money for disaster relief, volunteering their employees' time for worthy causes, and partnering with nonprofits. I love this article about what 49 business leaders say about the Golden Rule in Business. Take the time to see how you can abide by the Golden Rule and turn it into a marketing opportunity using cause marketing.