October 31, 2007
Every business needs to have a unique selling position…something that makes them different from the competition. To give you some ideas, I’ve included an excerpt from my Next Generation Marketing Makeover guide (a 10 week self-study coaching program that comes with my Next Generation Marketing Magic course for local business owners). If you’re interested in promoting any local business on the Internet…or you’re interested in promoting local business in your area as a service, you absolutely need this course.
There are a multitude of different unique selling positions you could make, but here are a collection of 18 of the most commonly used methods. Use this list as an idea generator, but don’t let it replace the customer research you do to find your niche’s “pain.” Your business can end up shipwrecked if you just randomly pick something from this list because YOU think it sounds good. If you’re not the “perfect” customer for your business, then your opinion doesn’t count.
Method #1 – Lowest Prices
A big company such as Wal-Mart can use this very effectively. They have such wholesale buying power they can get things as cheap as or cheaper than anyone else. You could potentially use this marketing strategy if you have lower overhead than everyone else you compete against. The big danger in this focus is when a competitor comes in and beats you in pricing. Wal-Mart did this to Kmart. Prices are the most obvious way to benefit your customers so this is where most competition focuses. If you have the lowest prices though, this is a very powerful focus while you own it.
Method #2 – Payment Options
You may not have the absolute lowest prices, but maybe you offer the best terms available. If your competition requires immediate payment, you could offer 30 days or 90 days same as cash. You could put off interest and payments till next year. You could offer lower monthly payments or lower interest than everyone else. Many consumers now think only in terms of monthly payments so this can be a powerful option in place of having the lowest prices overall. Simply give people the lowest monthly payments.
Method #3 – Club Membership
Sam’s Club and Costco are two great examples of the club membership. Both also offer low prices and Costco is known for their powerful guarantees. The basis of their business models is all around the club membership. If they can get you to be a member of the club, you’ll use it and buy more from them. The whole pitch is really based on Exclusivity. Their prices, member services, and other privileges are ONLY to members. Everyone else is left out. This can be so powerful at times that you can show one of their loyal members a better price somewhere else and they’ll still stick to their story that the product is priced best at Sam’s Club.
Method #4 – By Referral Only
Many professionals such as dentists have created “By Referral Only” businesses. This is a business where you can’t just call them up and schedule an appointment. The only way you can get in to see them is if you’ve been referred by another client. This is another “exclusive” type of Unique Client Focus. Your clients know they’re “special” and that you want them to refer other great clients just like them. This type of practice is very powerful when you have a set of base clients who can refer you continually (we discuss referrals in depth in a later week).
Method #5 – Best Selection
Some shops may only have one or two brands they carry, but you carry 25 of the most popular brands. Maybe you have the most suits or the most name brand tools. Maybe you have parts to fix every home appliance. You could have uncommon paintings, models, or educational toys. Maybe you specialize in big and tall clothing. You could have a buffet restaurant with 185 different dishes available everyday. Amazon.com was originally the world’s largest bookstore since they made every book with an ISBN number available through their system.
Method #6 – Better Guarantee or Warranty
Craftsman tools built their business based on a lifetime warranty. They simply told you if the tool breaks, bring it back for a replacement. It’s a powerful client focus. You could provide the best guarantee or warranty in the business. Guarantee your products for twice as long as everyone else. Warranty them to do more than other people do. Show your customers you’ll stick your neck out by standing on the quality of your products in writing. If everyone else warranties their products for 1 year, give all your customers a 3 year or 5 year warranty. You can easily see how much more powerful this is then simply saying, “Better quality.”
Method #7 – Customer Service
Just like you’d never want to say better quality, you also never want to say, “the best customer service in the business.” In a market where everyone else is only open 9 to 5, you could easily say, “24-7 customer service.” If the pain in your market is everyone else used automated answering systems and make you take a 30 minute runaround to get to a live customer agent, you could promise contact with a live support agent in 3 minutes or less. If you sold computers, you could talk about how every one else sells you simply a high priced paperweight while you offer 1-800 trained tech support agents to make sure you get maximum value and use out of your purchase.
Method #8 – More Personal Attention
A doctor’s office could tell their clients they’re getting a doctor who really listens to them instead of just being another file for a clipboard. A salesperson could give their own phone number in case a client ever has any problems with what they’ve purchased (instead of having to deal with someone different). The clothing store can provide free measurements and fitting for all their clothing. How could you use this same type of appeal?
Method #9 – Upscale Appeal
Maybe you only want to deal with a specific type of client – such as executives, millionaires, professional women, etc. A real estate agent may only work in a specific neighborhood. You can buy jeans for $30 or you can pay $300 for them (of course you can pay $800 or more also if you like). What’s the difference? There may be some quality differences, but the big difference is the story behind the more expensive pair and how they appeal to their customer’s emotions. One of the most famous car ads of all time was written by David Ogilvy with the headline, “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”
Method #10 – Longest Track Record
If you’ve been in business for 20 years and all your competitors have only been around a few years, you can focus on this. Make sure you focus on it as a benefit though. Just saying, “In business for 20 years,” is worthless. “20 years experience in saving you money on taxes,” is much better. The kind of market where this would work best is in a market where the clients feel their biggest fear is poor work from inexperienced professionals. I wouldn’t want to be the first person in line for Lasik eye surgery to a brand new graduate, and I doubt you would either.
Method #11 – Most Convenient Locations
A bank may advertise having multiple convenient locations and ATMs. The video store may only focus on their neighborhood and tell them how close they are. A restaurant next to all the office buildings in town may advertise how convenient they are for lunch or how quickly they deliver to nearby locations. The dry cleaner could offer in home pickup and drop off of garments. Rental cars and tour companies often offer hotel pickup at travel destinations. Tech companies offer computer house calls.
Method #12 – Celebrity Endorsement
Sometimes the primary offer is simply that some celebrity or expert recommends it. You see product lines such as clothing, jewelry, makeup, perfumes, etc. which bear the celebrity’s name. For example, how many items can you find with Michael Jordan’s name on them (and he doesn’t even play basketball anymore)? People always want to be like their celebrity heroes. Experts may also be used such as, “the only toothpaste recommended by the American Dental Association.”
Method #13 – More Education and/or Events
If the pain in the marketplace stems from overzealous sales people and a horrible fear of being ripped off, you could provide the best education. Professionals, such as, lawyers, accountants, coaches, consultants, etc. can write books or make speeches to bring in their prospects. Stores, shops, and dealerships could focus on running events with fashion shows, book signings, public speakers, etc. Any type of business can focus on offering free reports, audio, or videos about their marketplace. EAS sports supplements built a large portion of their business through a fitness contest and the magazine published by the same owner. Note: This type of Unique Client Focus combines well with many of the others.
Method #14 – Additional Bonuses/Premiums
Maybe you offer a complete DVD system showing how to learn all the most useful software programs with each computer purchase (see Method #13 above). Little Caesar’s grew based on their “Pizza, Pizza.” If you bought one, you received another one free. Anyone who buys a pool from your company may also get a free retractable cover. “Free 30 Minute Coaching Session with Every Order,” would be a powerful focus for any company selling training products.
Method #15 – Faster Service
This was Domino’s pitch with the 30 minute guaranteed delivery. Your Internet Company could offer shipping within 24 hours if most companies take a week. I’m sure you’ve heard the promotion, “Glasses within an hour.” Your plumbing service could offer two hour emergency service, even on weekends. Wouldn’t you love any home installation company which guaranteed their technicians to show up within 30 minutes of their scheduled time? How about a doctor who guaranteed to see you within 15 minutes of your appointment? Every other computer shop may take a week to repair your computer, but you could guarantee less than 3 day turn-around time. The ski instructor could guarantee basic ski skills within only 2 lessons. The restaurant may guarantee meals within 15 minutes for the lunchtime business crowd. There are an infinite number of possibilities here (people love fast results).
Method #16 – Specialty in Niche Market
Specialists cost more than general practitioners in any marketplace. You could be a fitness trainer who only trains women age 30 – 45. You may be the real estate agent to several specific neighborhoods. Maybe you’re the coach to work-at-home moms. The web design company may only design sites for chiropractic offices. You could be the tax accountant who negotiates with the IRS for back taxes. You might write books and produce DVDs only for Golden retriever lovers. You could be the backpacking guide for executives.
Method #17 – Affinity Groups
This is similar to specialization but revolves more around the specific group you market to. For example, you could be the insurance agent who deals primarily with people in specific churches. You may target specific clubs such as the Lion’s Club or the Chamber of Commerce. You can target the group by concentrating your marketing and referral generating strategies to them. You can also offer special discounts or more personalized service if you choose to make using your business more attractive to all the members in the group you’re working with.
Method #18 – Preemptive Advertising
Maybe you don’t have anything you see as “special” in your business. You could simply choose a benefit of your product or service no one has ever mentioned yet. This was originally taught by Claude Hopkins when he had a beer producer tell the whole story about how their beer was made. Other companies used the same process, yet they were the first ones to tell the story. Look at the slogan M&Ms have used, “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” That would also be true of other chocolate candy, yet they were the first ones to talk about it. Anyone else would simply be a copycat. If you’re the first one to tell the whole story about your product and service and how it benefits your client, it can give you immediate advantage in the marketplace. Your entire industry may do things no one outside the industry knows or understands. It is commonplace to you, but it could be the avenue for big benefits to your customers.
October 29, 2007
On my recent article, “3 Characteristics of Winners,” I discussed the importance of adding ACTION and TESTING to any studying you do. If you’re not taking action on what you learn, then you’re not really learning.
Too many Internet marketers get into an information overload mode where they constantly study more and more materials without taking action. They’re always learning the “new thing” but they’re not putting it into immediate practice in their business.
Every single product you study must result in immediate action in your business. If you don’t take action on what you learned, you just wasted your time.
One of the comments on that post said they were doing “lots of studying to know everything I possibly can.”
That comment bugged me, and you can tell on the post that it bugged James Brausch quite a bit as well. He wrote a post over on his blog about Act Or Don´t Act… There Is No Try. I definitely recommend reading it.
Take action today. Don’t try. Don’t think about it. Don’t plan on it. Don’t study more about it. Do it.
Test whatever it is you’re learning and keep your investment in it small at first.
- Don’t use the excuse of you’re studying one more ebook before you take action.
- Quit wasting hours every day reading all the Internet marketing forums.
- Get OFF all the Internet marketing guru’s lists.
I think it’s funny because often my coaching clients will ask me about so-and-so’s big product launch…and I tell them I don’t really know or care about the majority of them. I’m not on the lists of the marketers who promote every new thing. I use a Google Reader to keep track of blogs I read. In fact, I showed a couple of coaching clients how to eliminate a majority of their email by subscribing to RSS feeds this week instead. It’s surprising just how much time you save by changing away from emails.
If you stay on the majority of Internet marketing lists, each week you’re going to hear about the super-duper new product launch you must buy to succeed online. And the majority of the people promoting didn’t even read or listen to the course they’re telling you is the salvation of your business.
Quit it. Go cold turkey. If any list owner promotes big product launches week after week, get off their list NOW before they do serious harm to your business!
If you thinking I’m being overly dramatic, think again. You obviously haven’t seen the number of people I have who continually study, practice, and prepare without ever taking action. It’s disheartening when you see someone who has been online for 6 months, a year, or more who just keeps buying new products without taking serious and consistent action on their own business. I’ve talked to coaching clients and people at seminars who have spent $30,000 or more “getting ready to start an internet business.”
That’s sick. Yet it’s what you’re being encouraged to do if you’re a member of many lists.
Get off those lists…and get to work on your own business.
Let me give you some advice that cuts my own throat since I sell information products. I want you to not buy any new information products at all for a month. None. Nada. Zip. That $7 report…nope. That new product…no. You need to go back to information products you’ve already purchased and take action on them.
When I first started in my Internet business I studied Jay Abraham to learn the basics of marketing. There weren’t any Internet experts around back in 1996, so I had to take the information from offline direct marketing experts. One of the lessons he taught was to study the same product over and over again until you got it. He recommended studying “Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins multiple times. I read that one “old book” so many times it became a part of me. Eventually I even took it and created a “Scientific Internet Advertising” by showing how the rules applied to an Internet business (the book itself is in the public domain).
It became a part of me.
How do you make an information product a part of you? You study it. You take action on what you learn. Then you study it again and take action on more steps. Study some more. Keep taking action…until you’ve used all the value from the product.
You’ll find any great information product has way more value in it than you’ll ever pick up from one reading or listening. You have to go through it again and again…taking action on it every single time. So quit buying for the next month.
Let’s call this the 30 Day Challenge. The rules are no new information products. You must pick up one you already have and take small action steps with it. You will study it multiple times over the month adding a new action to test each time. Don’t cheat no matter how awesome a deal someone makes you.
October 26, 2007
When I first got started online, I concentrated on building my list. It was and still is the key to profiting in any business. You want a list of prospects and customers who regularly visit your site, receive your emails, or subscribe to your blog. If you have that, you can produce a nice monthly income just from the list.
One of the best ways to get started in your own online business is through creating your own products, but that wasn’t where I originally started. My first income was from products I licensed from others. I found high quality products other business people were selling and purchased a license to sell those in my own business…keeping all the money myself.
Why? It’s because I simply didn’t have the confidence starting out to create my own products and write the sales copy for them. I know I could have done it, but it was 2 years into my business before I produced any products of my own.
And owning a license to a great product with high producing order copy is the next best thing to having your own products.
Even though I produce a majority of my own products today, I still sell products I have a license to from others. For example, I offer http://www.myinformationbootcamp.com and http://myemailmastermind.com which are both products I’ve licensed from others.
The problem is that most products being licensed out there are garbage. Have you ever taken a good hard look at those ebooks you licensed or those articles with master reprint rights? While there is sometimes a diamond in the rough that you can edit and modify into a good product, the majority of those materials are worthless…and just continue making the rounds as they’re sold from person to person through one-time offers, ebay discounts, or membership sites.
If you want to profit from selling the actual products, you have to have high quality products you’re proud to offer to your prospects and customers.
Because these are such a rare find, I’ve decided to offer a limited time special good till Monday, Oct 29th, at 9 AM Eastern time.
You will get reprint rights to 4 of my products. This means you can sell the products themselves, but you cannot offer rights to anyone else. They’re for you to sell…and in addition they must stay in their physical form (2 are CDs with mp3 audios while the others are DVDs). Kunaki is perfect for shipping them out, and Steven Lohrenz has the software script for having your CDs and DVDs shipped automatically using Paypal as your payment processor.
I do ask that you keep the pricing of these products at the $97 or above level…although you’re allowed to add your own bonuses, combine items, or come up with your own special offers when you’re selling them to your audience.
One idea you may want to consider is taking the products and adding something of your own to specialize them to a different market. For example, if you have a business that sells to coaches, all of those products would directly apply to your market. Simply create something of your own, a special report, audio, video, etc. that focuses the product on your target market. You’ve now added value and still relied on me doing the bulk of the content for you. While you can’t change my content, you can definitely add additional material to it as you wish.
All those who take action will receive the product, CDs containing all the product artwork we use on Kunaki, and the full sales letters on CD.
To keep from having too many people selling these products I’m going to restrict this blog offer to only 20 customers total. It is possible I may offer rights to these products again at some time in the future in another avenue as long as it doesn’t affect each licensee’s sales.
The price is $1,000 and I’ll cover shipping. To order, simply pay by Paypal below…and make sure you have your correct address set for shipping.
Special is over so the order link has been removed…
Please note that this deal is NOT for everyone. I’m not guaranteeing you to earn any specific amount of money. If your business doesn’t sell to marketers, webmasters, or business owners of some type, then it is not right for you. It’s simply away for you to add additional products to your business or begin the experience of selling information products online.
You may ask why I’m selling rights to some of my most popular products. It’s simple really. My number one goal is to build the Monthly Mentor Club print newsletter subscriber base. The more people talking about and offering my other products, the more people who hear about the newsletter. While I’m giving up frontend money, I’m making it on residuals in the newsletter.
October 24, 2007
Do you really want to succeed online? Most people will immediately jump up and say yes, but the real truth is a majority really don’t want success. They want to be tickled in their emotions where they feel good about doing something. They’re just not doing the right thing.
For example, some people claim they’re working on their Internet business. But you talk to them after a year of “working on their business” and they’ll tell you they’re still just getting started. I heard this recently. The conversation went kind of like this…
Them: “Hi, I’ve been working on my business for the past year.”
Me: “Really? That’s great. What do you sell?”
Them: “Oh I don’t sell anything yet. I’ve only been at this for about 11 months.”
Me: “Well, what have you been doing for the past 11 months?”
Them: “Oh you know…I’ve been studying, researching my niche, creating a business plan.”
Me: “When are you going to really start your business?”
All the time I just want to smack them upside the head. And this is gentle. I’ve talked to people where that 11 months was 2 or 3 years. If all you’re doing is studying Internet marketing products, visiting forums, and planning a business…you’re not in a business. All of that takes less than a month. Let’s say you start your business with a survey. That takes several days. You then create the product based off the survey. That’s another 2 to 3 days at most. Then you write a “good” sales letter (it doesn’t have to be great because you will be testing and improving it). We have you in business in 10 days.
Let’s say you’re really slow because you’re busy at your job at the same time. Your survey takes a whole week. Your product development takes a whole week. And your sales copy takes a whole week. Then it takes you a whole week to generate traffic (man you are slow). That’s still only 4 weeks or less than a month. What in the world are these people doing that takes them 11 months just getting started?
They’re not in business. They’re in the “tickle me” phase of just buying every Internet marketing product and feeling good about what they’ll accomplish…some day.
Below are the 3 characteristics of winners…
You start off with study. Successful people are constant learners. I spend thousands of dollars on education every year (often it’s in the 5 figures). If you’re not teachable, you will not reach the levels of success you want. The key here is limiting your study to ONLY what you’ll take action on immediately. A head full of knowledge is not your goal. Actions that improve your results by increasing your profits, decreasing your work time, or improving your enjoyment are the goals. If there is no immediate action, there was nothing learned.
Take action immediately. Every single product I study or read must result in at least one action I take to produce results. At times I even have to stop myself from buying any new products. For example, if I get to where I have 10 books on my shelf that haven’t been read yet (reading is my favorite method of learning), then I quit buying them. Period. No more products until that whole collection is finished. And each product must produce at least 1 action I take. Otherwise it was just a waste of time.
3. Persistent Testing
There is only one real expert in your business. It’s not you. It’s not me. It’s the test results produced by your customers. Every day you’re testing something new. Every product you study above produces a new action and a new test. If it works, you use it. If it doesn’t, you refine it.
Notice I called it “persistent” testing. Too many people jump from project to project. If something doesn’t work for them immediately, they give up. Let’s take Adwords for example. Almost everyone I know who is very successful with Adwords (meaning it produces at least $100,000 or more income to them yearly), lost money on their projects at first. They had to get started…and then they learned how to refine their keywords, test different ads, and improve their landing page conversion. It wasn’t just handed into their laps. They studied constantly. Took action on what they learned in each area. Then they tested constantly until they found what worked for them.
These same rules apply to every aspect of your business. What most Internet marketers need to do is quit buying so many products! Start taking action on the ones you already have. Then persistently test different approaches till you find what works in your market.
October 22, 2007
I just came back from Mark Hendrick’s Internet Success System. It was a fun time all the way around with great content, exciting Mastermind groups, and an audience that really knew their stuff.
One of my highlights was catching a ride with the Real Santa Claus. And what did I find out? Santa really is making a list…and checking it twice. And he is doing it all online.
Santa Claus makes LIVE personal calls to your child on Christmas and the entire holiday seasion. So if you like to treat your child to something special, check it out: http://www.santaspeaks.com
Santa took me over to the restaurant on Saturday night, and it was a treat watching the children’s faces light up at the sight of him (not to mention the majority of the adults). You’ve never seen a more popular person make an entrance than when the real Santa Claus shows up.
I made sure to keep on my best behavior as I don’t want a lump of coal in my stocking this year!
You might be saying, “This is a business blog. So where’s the business lesson Terry?”
Look at him! He is a man following his passion doing what he absolutely LOVES! He has Christmas 365 days a year. He calls your child, speaks at events, and visits those in the hospital. He was glowing with joy and a regular “Ho, Ho, Ho!”
Santa was at an Internet business event to learn how to market his unique business online. If his story and his mission doesn’t inspire you, then I don’t know what will. Santa Claus is doing business online. Are you?
Before you ask, No I did not sit on his lap.
October 19, 2007
Update: There was an error in the branding of the footer on the previous zip branding file. This has been corrected and the file has also been improved. If you downloaded before Saturday at 4 PM Eastern, please download it again to have the correctly brandable file.
You can make passive income giving away my content. I’ve just finished editing the “10 Key Strategies to Earn More, Work Less, and Enjoy Life” special report…and I’ve added the ability for you to brand it with your affiliate link.
In other words, you have full rights to give this report away yourself…and you can earn a monthly residual income from doing so.
Here are several graphics you have full permission to use when promoting it.
If you’re not currently a member of the Monthly Mentor Club, you should definitely join today. Click here now for more information. It is my print newsletter that I send out each month with 11 pages detailing strategies and techniques you can use to build your business…and the content is created by analyzing what my one-on-one coaching clients most need help with?
So it’s like you’re getting monthly coaching at 1/20th the cost…only $19.95 per month currently.
You can also promote the it and earn a recurring 40% of the sales price. Join the affiliate program here…
Please Note: You are not allowed to sign-up through your own link!
What can you do with my content?
1. Offer it as a freebie to people who subscribe to your list.
2. Give it away on your blog.
3. Add it as a bonus to your ebook offer.
4. Tell your list members about it.
5. Anything you want as long as you don’t make any changes except branding it with your affiliate link.
October 17, 2007
It’s already common knowledge that participating in blogs and leaving comments is a way to start generating some traffic to your pages (not a lot, but some). In addition it allows you to build relationships with other bloggers in your niche (something you need to be doing for maximum effectiveness).
Duncan Carver recently released a free program called “Comment Sniper” which allows you track specific blogs and notify you whenever there is a new post so you can visit and post as one of the first comments.
I’ve heard from several others who seem to enjoy using it…and one of my clients recently asked me about it today so I thought I’d take a closer look.
Obviously the first few comments will be read and clicked on by more people…and this software gives you the opportunity to state your opinion without just copying what others have already said. At first I thought it might be “comment spam” type software…which I absolutely hate, but it’s not. It doesn’t post any automated comments for you. It simply notifies you when a new post has been made so you can visit it immediately and be the first to participate.
It even allows you to have messages sent to your cell phone about when new posts are made on your favorite blogs. I’ll take their word for it, because no way in the world would I want to receive a message every time someone adds a new blog posting.
Nor will I ever leave this software running on my own computer. Can you say distraction? Just like I don’t check email all day, I’m definitely not checking blogs all day.
Where do I see value in this software?
First of all, it includes a very nice blog search tool to help you find top blogs in your industry. Not only does it allow you to search many top sites such as WordPress, Blogger, and Google Blog Search, it also shows you the blog’s Alexa and Pagerank. Very nice tool for finding your top blogs which you should be doing in every niche to build your blog traffic and find joint venture partners for your products.
Next, it is a very nice tool to outsource to someone else to participate on blogs in your stead. Instead of you participating and using the software, have an intern, staff member, or outsourced worker using it for you. As with many other time intensive marketing strategies, use it enough that you know how it works and how to demonstrate it to someone else, then hand it off to be done for you while you concentrate on the most important elements of your business.
October 15, 2007
This is Basic Sales 101. If you want to be a successful salesperson, learn to ask the right questions. Most salespeople simply talk too much and never give their prospects a chance to respond. They want to give their pitch and just hope something sticks. That’s no way to sell. Let’s actually take it one step further. NO ONE wants to be sold. It’s not your job to sell anyone as a salesperson. You’re not going to overpower them with your fantastic selling skills. It’s your job to simply provide them with the information necessary for them to sell it to themselves.
Get over the old idea you need to twist people’s arms until they buy. That doesn’t work. And even if it did, it would simply lead you to having unhappy customers. You want people to decide to buy themselves. You also want them to feel they were the ones who decided it all by themselves. A person who comes to a conclusion like this is the one who is a satisfied customer and tells everyone about your product or service. They sold it to themselves! They can sell it to others for you.
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s there was the creation of “consultative” selling. The basis of all these types of programs was using open-ended questions to find the “pain” of the prospects you’re dealing with. The advantage of this method over old methods of selling is you took the approach of a consultant instead of that of a salesperson.
No one really trusts the salesperson. You know they’re out to sell you something and you’ve seen enough dishonest salespeople to believe they may not always tell the truth. By taking the role of a consultant, you ask prospects what they need and want. Once you find their desire, then you can offer them your product/service solution in the most effective way.
I remember back to one of the first books I ever read on selling skills, “Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale.” The book itself contains over 700 questions as it is based on his selling principles and techniques. The whole selling process he uses is based on a series of questions. By the end of that book, I was ready to buy some pots and pans. He kept using examples from his door-to-door selling days, and the questions had you convincing yourself to buy by the end of the book (even though he wasn’t selling that to you).
Question-based selling has been proven to work. Questions are used throughout the entire selling process. In your first meeting (on the phone or in-person), you first need to ask about what the client may need or want. You need to establish what problems he/she is trying to solve. No one buys a product just because they need another widget. They buy because they’re trying to solve their problems in one way or another.
As a businessperson, you’re a professional problem solver. Use questions in the beginning part of any presentation to find out what problems the customer needs solved. These are your qualifying questions. It’s possible you’ll determine quickly that the potential client doesn’t need or want your service. Or you’ll determine they’re simply not qualified to purchase it.
Right after you introduce yourself, you should begin asking questions to find out more about your prospect:
What are they interested in?
Why did they contact you today?
Have they ever been in your store before?
What is their current situation?
Are there any issues holding them back?
Who is the decision maker for their company?
Do they need to talk to anyone else before they make a decision?
Is there anything about their current situation that they don’t like? What kind of problems are they experiencing currently?
What would they like to achieve?
If it solves their problem, what kind of difference would it make?
Do they have a budget set aside to solve this problem?
How much are they willing to invest to solve this problem?
What have they already tried to fix the problem?
Before you try to sell anything to anyone, first find out what they want or need. Then determine if they are able to make the decision themselves and if they can afford the solution. For example, think about how much time and energy a real estate agent would waste if they took potential buyers out to look at homes without finding out their budget.
They may be dealing with buyers who can only afford a $130,000 home, yet they’re showing them $500,000 home. Not only will those prospects never buy that home, they’re going to do them a huge disservice because now they’ll never be happy with any of the homes in their price range. They’re too used to looking at the higher priced ones.
Here are some other potential question idea generators for determining your prospect’s needs and wants:
“Tell me more…”
“How do you feel about that?”
“How does this affect you?”
“What else should I know about…”
“Why is this important right now?”
“Why is that important to you?”
“How will you be using…”
“What else would help me understand…”
“Give me an example of . . . . .”
“Can you be more specific about…”
What is the biggest issue and problem between your future clients and you? In most cases, it’s that they simply don’t trust you. You’re out to sell them something and their experience tells them you’ll do whatever it takes to make the sale. They feel you’ll lie to them. They feel you’re manipulating them. They’ll believe you’ll do whatever it takes to make the sale. So be different. If you want them to trust you, do something radical. Be trustworthy. People don’t trust salespeople because the majority of them simply aren’t trustworthy!
Understand that while you’re asking them questions, your products/services may or may not be right for them. You need to remove your “need” to make a sale from your mindset. Being in business is really all about developing relationships. Some of the people you’ll contact with need and want your services. Others will not. If you want prospects to be open and honest with you, you can’t simply be asking these questions for vital information to use against them later in a manipulative selling presentation.
Try this exercise with a few people. You may simply try it on your spouse or a friend at first. Then test it sometime while dealing with one of your potential customers. This will help you practice your listening and interviewing skills. Your goal is to allow the person you’re speaking with to open up to you about what is really important to them. This exercise will also teach you one of the most useful tools for building trust and rapport with your prospects.
Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to become like a child. Children are endlessly curious, but they’re also totally open (unless they’ve been seriously mistreated). They can beat you down with a barrage of questions such as, “Why? Why? Why? Why?” You can use the same process of asking open, honest questions, although I hope you can be a little more interesting than simply saying, “Why?” Pick the individual you want to establish the greater rapport with (start with your spouse or friend).
You’ll now begin a conversation with them by simply asking questions. If they ask you a question, you can answer it quickly and then ask another question about them. You’re not waiting for your turn to talk. You’re simply asking questions and listening to their answers.
The primary rule in this conversation is that you must let them lead the conversation. You are only allowed to ask questions for more information on something they’ve just told you. You can’t be judgmental and you’re not doing this to add in your 2 cents. They probably look at things in a different way than you do. Listen and learn.
After each answer they give you, ask another question relating simply to what they just said. Listen with the intention of seeing which parts they get most emotional about so you can ask questions in that direction (it is what excites them).
Some possible question starters would be…
“Why did you…”
“When did you…”
“How long have you…”
“How did you feel about that?”
“What do you mean?”
You’ll learn quite a bit about the other person during a conversation like this. And even though you simply ask questions and say very little about yourself, they’ll feel connected to you in a deeper way. I first read about this in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He called it the easy way to become a good conversationalist. Please note that you really do need to listen intently and be there even if the conversation takes you someplace you don’t find all that interesting. Listen not because of the subject, but simply because you find the person interesting.
To get the conversation started, simply ask something about the other person. To use this technique with your potential clients, you may ask something like, “Why did you decide to sell your home?” Or “Why did you decide to look at a Toyota Tundra?” “Why did you decide to call about business coaching?” Simply take the words, “Why did you decide…” After trying it out and testing it, you’ll likely end up with it as another powerful tool for your selling toolbox.
October 12, 2007
Here are five resources to help you build your business. You might already use them, or you might not. Either way, they’re a few simple tools that can definitely help you in your business if you’re not using them today.
Would you like to learn the basics of how to use Google for your business? If so, you can buy a $97 product…or you can watch all of Google’s videos for free at the Google Learning Center. I’ve went through a good portion of these videos. I found quite a few of them a little boring and slow to get to the point, but they do cover all the basics to getting set-up with Google Adwords, understanding clickthrough rates, optimization, and using their tracking features.
Want to do some keyword research for PPC or SEO? Well here’s a free tool that will let you do just that. It tells you estimated searches as the major search engines for your words along with linking to the other major keyword tools available there. In addition, it gives you a keyword list generator and list cleaner resources. I’ve found it a good resource when you have an idea and want to look up some keywords quick.
Would you like to search multiple discussion boards at once? If so, check out Boardreader.com. It allows you to do searches across multiple forums from one location. Good resource for doing some of your research.
Would you like to know what keyword phrases your competitors are using to advertise their site on the PPC search engines or through SEO. Check out Spyfu.com. There is a basic free trial that lets you see a few of the keywords or you can pick up a membership (as little as $6.75 for a 3 day membership) to get full details. It’s great for doing your competitive research and letting others help pick out your keywords. Note it doesn’t seem that the information about the per click charges your competitors are paying is very accurate.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Google Alerts. The only question is whether you’re using them or not. All you have to do is pick the keyword phrase you want Google to search for and where you want these keywords searched (blogs, web, video, groups, etc.). Whenever that keyword phrase comes up, Google will send you a notice (mine are set to daily). Use this to keep track of when people talk about your name or competitors names, about your products, or about products you have in development.
October 10, 2007
You have a secret ingredient in your business. It gives you an immediate advantage over your competition. No one else can copy it. No one else can claim it.
The only question is whether you’re using that advantage or not…
That advantage you have over everyone else is YOU.
You’re unique. You see things in a unique way. And you’ve got to share that with others.
Take a look at all the “marketing experts” you know. They all have a different personality that comes through in their writing, their products, and their speech. Is for example, James Brausch the same as Jimmy Brown? No. Is John Reese the same as Mark Hendricks? No. While there may be a few similarities you can tell the difference from their writing and how they conduct their business.
For example, I was doing some competitive research in a particular market recently. In it I saw a very well written direct response letter. The moment I started reading it I knew exactly who wrote the letter. It had a different signature at the bottom of the page, but I knew who it was because of the writing style. When you study enough copy, you’ll recognize the different styles of copywriters (and since this person doesn’t write copy for others to my knowledge – this means the project I found was one of their undercover ones).
When I work with clients I’m always trying to get them to share part of their personality and their stories with their audience. I’ve been encourage you to start your own blog so you can do exactly that. Share who you are. Let people get to know you. Tell them something interesting that’s happened to you lately. Tell them what you love. Tell them what your pet peeves are.
Here is a basic process of selling. If you want people to buy from you, they must…
Let them get to know you. Some will like you. Some won’t. So many new marketers are terrified people won’t like them. Well let’s get this over with once and for all. GET OVER IT! Some people won’t like you. Some people will send you nasty letters when you share your personality. Some people won’t like your style. SO WHAT?
You’re not going to sell to the ones who don’t like you anyway. Nor would you want to! All they would do is cause problems for you.
Focus on the ones who will like you. Continue to share with them. Provide content. Let them get to know you. As you go through the process they’ll trust you. And when they trust you, they’ll buy from you.
Have you ever wondered why some marketing experts recommend long copy while others recommend short copy? Here’s the answer so make sure you’re paying attention. Those who get great response rates from very short copy are using other elements of their business to go through the process of getting people to know them, like them, and trust them. For example, if you have a blog where you communicate several times per week or daily with your prospects, your sales copy won’t need to be nearly as long. You’ve already accomplished a major portion of the job BEFORE people got to the sales material.
If you already have a well known “brand” in the marketplace (like many big companies focus on) it also shortens the time to sell as well. You’ve already jumped the hurdle of getting people to trust you. If you haven’t written through those gates already, then your copy has to do a lot more work.
So what are you using to communicate and build relationships with your audience?
Are you becoming more than just an echo of other voices?
Are you giving people the chance to know you, like you, and trust you even before they get to a sales letter?
If not, why don’t you start today?