Saturday, January 09, 2010

Playing to Win

I really like to win. (And I was really pulling for TCU and UT in their bowl games this week, even though I went to Texas A&M). Notice I didn't say, "I hate to lose."

Recently I read the phrase, "Play to win. Don't play NOT to lose." According to Robert Caldini in his book INFLUENCE: The Psychology of Persuasion, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something rather than gaining something of equal value. For example, homeowners are more likely to insulate their homes when they are told how much money they could lose from inadequate insulation vs. being told how much money they can save from adding insulation. This got me to thinking that there 2 types of sales people.

"Playing NOT to lose" sales people look like this:

  • Doing things that hurt your company just so you won't lose a customer.

  • According to Brad Isaac in his Persistence Unlimited blog if you say to yourself “I have to do ____ or else____ will happen,” then you are playing not to lose & subsequently focusing on losing.

  • Playing it safe and letting fear guide you.

  • Hoping your competitor will mess up instead of planning for every angle in the sales process.

"Playing to win" sales people look like this:
  • Agreements benefit both parties.

  • You trust your skills, talents and knowledge and use them confidently to win the business.

  • You are not afraid of losing, you are afraid of not being able to provide your customer with the solution they need."

  • You think of ways to thrill your customers rather than satisfy them.
In other words, you can play NOT to lose by playing it safe, doing what is expected and hoping for your competitors to mess up. Or you can play to win by using your arsenal of skills and talents to win customers and impress your competitors.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Use Coupons to Increase Your Sales

Last year my New Year's resolution was to cut coupons and actually USE the coupons on a regular basis. I have been cutting coupons off and on for years, leaving them stashed in a drawer at home and mostly forgetting about them until I'm standing at the check out line. So last year I kept my resolution. And I rang in 2010 by saving $6 on breakfast!

Here is proof. It's my coupon organizer that fits in my purse and accompanies me everywhere. (I bought it at Staples and have seen them in office supply sections in Wal-Mart and Target).

Coupons serve a few marketing purposes:

  • Draw you to a place of business
  • Encourage you to buy a certain product
  • Encourage you to buy within a certain time frame
  • Encourage you to buy more goods or services in advance of needing them
  • Simply serve as an advertisement for the product or service

Keeping the above in mind, I've noticed shortcomings in the past year in how companies and businesses use and honor coupons which has led me to develop a few tips for jazzing up your sales with coupons:

  • In addition to standard coupon offerings and terms, include your company logo and picture of the product (if applicable) on the coupon. I have a coupon for Kellogg's breakfast cereals that doesn't include a picture of any of their cereals. Keep in mind that your coupon can be used as an advertisement. Don't miss the opportunity for your customers to see your product.
  • Use your coupon as an advertisement. If you are a service business then a coupon offering a free consultation or service can pull people in the door. Make sure this coupon lists other services or products you provide.
  • Don't forget to include your business address and phone number on the coupon. My daughter recently brought home a coupon for a free burrito from Planet Burrito for receiving good grades. The address for Planet Burrito was no where on the coupon - and neither was the phone number. This makes it too hard for me to figure out where to go.
  • Never turn away business because the coupon is expired or not for the exact item or service. Give customers a little slack. There are experts who disagree with me on this and feel that you should never extend a coupon offering or make exceptions. Keep in mind that the goal of a coupon is to increase foot traffic and sales. Here's an example: On January 2nd I went to use a coupon for a free bowling game that expired on January 1st. Imagine how frustrated that made me feel! The bowling alley went ahead and honored the coupon - and that made me feel great! I bought 2 additional games for everyone. Mission accomplished for the bowling alley.

Remember that part of your coupon strategy is to monitor the effectiveness of a coupon campaign. You will want to know what product or service offerings got the most response, which publications best reached your target audience and the ROI of the campaign.