Posted tagged ‘Facebook’

Cold Calling Step 3: Creating the Presentation Script

July 14, 2010

When it comes to cold calling, there is tremendous value in organizing one’s thoughts in advance.

Doing so in writing has significant advantages including (1) being better prepared as to what you wish to convey, (2) thinking you are better prepared which translates into being able to speak with greater confidence, (3) establishing a baseline so that you can emphasize what resonates and eliminate what doesn’t and (4) being able to actively listen because you are no longer concerned about inadvertently not mentioning something important.

My mentor, Carl Epstein, taught me an exceptional scripting tool, which I would like to share with you in today’s post. There are several elements in the structure of this type of script. These scripts should be written in bulleted form so that it does not sound like you are reading it and because bulleted writing typically eliminates excess or needless words.

Here are the elements:

(1)    Introduction: This is simply an opening statement of courtesy and may be as simple as “We haven’t spoken in a while. I wanted to catch up with you and share with you what we are doing and see if we can help you advance your business.”

(2)    Vista: This section is where we bring in the business benefits. In essence, you are “painting the future” here. Effectively introducing the value that your product or service provides early on is critical in encouraging your prospect to invest more time in hearing the rest of your presentation. They choose to listen because your product or service may be addressing a real need for them.

(3)    Product / Service Information: This is where you speak in detail about the key elements of your service or product. The purpose of this section is to connect the business benefits to your offering. The prospect should be able to realize the direct relationship between your product and the benefits that he or she is hoping to receive.

(4)    Action of Buyer / Reason for Action: However, just in case the prospect can’t, it is critical to reintroduce the benefits and tie them tightly to your offering. Here you review what you offer and connect it to the business value.

(5)    Ask for the Order: It is here that you present the request for the “next step.” It could be the order or a meeting or a demonstration but, regardless, it is imperative that you be clear about what you are requesting and that you make a definitive request.

(6) Common Objections: The last element is to prepare a list of common objections and responses. Before you begin and even more likely, after you have made a few calls, you probably will be able to anticipate why someone may reject your offering (cost and time required to implement are some typical examples). You should anticipate these questions and prepare responses so that you are immediately ready to address these objections. Remember though – after addressing the objections, you must ask for the order again.

If you have prepared this script properly, you should be able to effectively deliver this presentation in two to three minutes.

A couple of additional thoughts:

  • The script that is written at the outset of an engagement always evolves over time. Each call allows you to tighten the language and become more succinct. Edit the script regularly until it is efficient and can be said more simply. (I call this “getting your voice.”)
  • After a while, you should discover that referencing the script is no longer necessary. The act of creating the script and repeating it frequently allows for a more natural presentation.
  • Of all the sections, the Vista section is usually the most important because if the business benefits are not clearly presented, the prospect will choose to end the conversation.

Fortunately, if you have followed Steps 1 and 2, you have a set of likely business benefit candidates upon which you can draw.

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Cold Calling Step 2: Understand the Product and Align Its Capabilities to the Business Benefits

July 12, 2010

All salespeople have a natural tendency to become very related to the products that we sell. This occurs because nearly all of our conversations within our company and to our prospects revolve around the product features.

We truly become immersed in what we offer the marketplace – and with all of these conversations circulating, we naturally assume that our prospects will have a native understanding of what we provide and why it makes a difference, simply by our verbalization. There is even a tendency for salespeople to assume that a cursory explanation of the product’s capabilities to a prospect will naturally evoke an understanding by the prospect as to how using the product or service will benefit them.

Experience, though, has shown this to not be the case.

Our task as effective salespeople is to connect the benefits and the capabilities for the prospect. Put it this way… Failure to do so should result in a prospect saying, “I understand what your product does; I just don’t understand the value proposition.” If only prospects were so open when this occurred because then we would clearly understand that we have not created the necessary linkage between benefits and product capabilities.

There are a few ways for us to become “smart” about what these benefits and their related capabilities truly are. Clearly, as we outlined in the first step, understanding the industry, target markets and their needs and relating them to the product or service is a terrific place to begin.

Many salespeople, however, fail to look at the messaging of their direct competitors. Competitors are typically not shy about posting about their value on their web sites. Facebook pages of competitors often enable you to discover, via testimonials and comments, what buyers truly value.

This is important because, as we shall see in future posts, simply because you believe something to be a benefit, your prospects and customers may have a very different take on what constitutes the true value.

Many, many years ago when I was first beginning my business career, my first company, Flash Creative Management, decided to sell a software development tool, MUPET (the acronym stood for Multi-User Project Editing Tool). It was my first foray into selling a product for software developers and it was a priceless education for my company and me.

We had articulated the benefits in advertisements, speaking engagements and a few other communication channels. Surprisingly, to us anyway, the people who bought the tool had very different intentions for its use. We discovered by the technical support questions we were receiving that people had decided to use it in very different ways than we intended.

In some cases, this worked out just fine as the product was capable of addressing these needs but sometimes the product fell woefully short of the value that our clients hoped to receive, because frankly, the product was never designed for this purpose.

So there are two takeaways in this portion of the discussion:

(1) It is your responsibility to connect benefits to product capabilities.

(2) Just because you or your competitor thinks that the true benefits have been identified does not mean that you have successfully done so.

This second point, and our next challenge in preparing a successful cold calling campaign, will be the subject of our next post.

Lesson 7: Use Technology to Forward Your Business

April 12, 2009

We’ve laid the foundation for our solution by discussing numerous disciplines which will be incorporated for re-establishing marketing and sales control within our housewares industry, The remaining area for us to explore is technology.

As is always the case, technology is never the solution in and of itself. Rather, technology is a tool – a very effective tool for transforming the way one processes transactions on behalf of its customers or delivers products or services to them or communicates with them.

In recent months – and although it feels longer than that – it really is months -we have been exposed to a new use of technology, a tool called Twitter. Twitter takes texting to another level. This service allows people to send and read “micro-blogs” or “tweets” of up to 140 characters. That’s about the same length as one of the sentence in this paragraph. Here’s a quick overview.

People who use twitter a re called “tweeters.” They set up free accounts on Twitter and post these very short blurbs. Anyone with Internet access can log on and see these “tweets.” The difference though is this. People can elect to have these tweets sent to their cell phones, mobile devices or computers.

How can one sentence of posting make such a difference? Consider this report from the April 8th New York Times and reporter Ellen Barry.

“A crowd of more than 10,000 young Moldovans materialized seemingly out of nowhere on Tuesday to protest against Moldova‘s Communist leadership, ransacking government buildings and clashing with the police.

The sea of young people reflected the deep generation gap that has developed in Moldova, and the protesters used their generation’s tools, gathering the crowd by enlisting text-messaging, Facebook and Twitter the social messaging network.

The protesters created their own searchable tag on Twitter (ed. note: thus allowing you to look up links that are tagged with one or more subjects), rallying Moldovans to join and propelling events in this small former Soviet state onto a Twitter list of newly popular topics, so people around the world could keep track.

By Tuesday night, the seat of government had been badly battered and scores of people had been injured. But riot police had regained control of the president’s offices and Parliament Wednesday.

After hundreds of firsthand accounts flooded onto the Internet via Twitter, Internet service in Chisinau, the capital, was abruptly cut off.”

If political revolutions can be initiated, how can a business one be started?

On the site Read Write Web, http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/zappos_twitter.php) you can learn how Zappos, the Internet shoe retailer is using social media to forward its business.

There are literally more than a 100 Zappos employees with twitter windows open waiting to respond to customer service questions.

Here’s a short sample from today’s Zappos Twitter site. I’ve slightly modified each name and removed the links so as to be sensitive to the identities of the individuals since I am using this for a different purpose.

  • @samdeck I want to apologize for your hold time. We’re here for you 24/7 1-800-927-7671. Have an awesome day!!! about 2 hours ago from web in reply to samdeck
  • @onfiref I apologize for the confusion, but which shoes do you need a picture of? Let us know or call us 1-800-927-7671 about 2 hours ago from web
  • @Glorial congrats! We look forward to meeting you! about 21 hours ago from web
  • @mkntz we did upgrade you to next-business day shipping for free on your order! You should receive it 4/14/09 at the latest. about 21 hours ago from web
  • @hinia I would be happy to answer your question. There is no tax when shipping to California from Zappos. 2:30 PM Apr 10th from web

This is customer service in 2009!

Zappos though is also intent on building a community. There’s a dedicated site where you’ll find all of the twittering Zappos employees who tweet about what they are working on and interesting resources on and off the Zappos site. There’s an employee leader board that shows who’s on twitter an dhow many followers they have.

There’s also a page that aggregates all of the public mentions of Zappos. And Zappos has also set up pages for those who rave about the company and its products.

Want to know more about how to use Twitter in your business? Do a Google search on “twitter” and “business”…

Ah, technology as a tool…

Branding and Gaining Control of Your Business in the Age of Twitter

March 19, 2009

Today, I received a really provocative and interesting challenge. A business that makes kitchen gadgets has lost its leverage with its customers and wants to know how to get that leverage back.

The kitchen gadget industry is really quite interesting. Inventors create and design products. These gadgets need to solve a problem and be very easy to use. Once they have created a prototype and tested it with some audiences, these inventors then take their products overseas to be manufactured. Some of these inventing companies protect their products with patents and sometimes they don’t because the patent will not afford them enough protection to prevent others from copying their products with minor alterations in design.

But now, the business environment is even worse for these companies.

It wasn’t that long ago that the inventing companies could sell these products to lots and lots of stores. But then the industry began to consolidate. Soon, it became apparent that if you wanted to sell to your target market, the only way to do that was to sell these products through superstores like Wal-Mart, Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

This is a problem though for these companies. Because these distribution channels are so large and dominate the marketplace, these department and superstores can dictate the margins and the way these products go to market. The inventing companies must tolerate and accommodate the requests made of them because upsetting one of these large companies could doom the product.

The question that was posed to me today was how to help these companies build a presence so that alternative channels for identifying products that need to be invented can be identified, products and related concepts could be tested faster and better, and alternate marketing channels could be developed.

This seemed particularly fascinating to me so I agreed to take this on.

Here’s my plan.

I think that this is a serious and meaningful strategic question for our times so I’ve decided to be public about it and write about it in this blog.

I am also identifying and approaching a cross-section of friends and colleagues to provide insight. They include one of the fellows accountable for building communities for a large software developer, a PR firm, a specialist in search engine optimization and web site development, my mentor who is an expert at identifying market targets, a senior advertising exec at large advertising company, my son who is one of the founders of TeenTechBlog www.teentechblog, my wife who is a stellar teacher and master chef… and you.

I would like to invite you to join me in this research. If you are interested, please e-mail me at david_blumenthal@msn.com. I plan on speaking on this topic in six weeks and if you assist me, I will share my session with you.

The journey promises to be a lot of fun.


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