The Number One Reason for Slow Sales

Herman Maisel pictured in his office on Moffet...
I don’t know who this is, but he looks like a sales guy. Do you? Image via Wikipedia

For small business owners, the number one reason for sales being slow is something very simple. Lack of, or no prospecting activity.

The problem is rarely a poor conversion percentage, or that the price is to high, or (add reason here). In my experience, it’s almost always a simple lack of sales activity.  Waiting for the phone to ring does not qualify as sales activity!

So, if you need to jump start your sales:

  • Write a letter and send it to 1000 targeted prospects (or 100, or 10,000). Pick up the phone and call everyone you have done business with, or have a business relationship with and ask them how you might help them.
  • Put together a real special offer on something you offer to get you and your sales group excited about selling again.
  • Build a new “add on service”  that your current clients need, and send them an email, then follow up with  a call.

In the words we all know and love,  JUST DO IT. And do it for an hour every day.

Making more sales, starts with and is 100% contingent upon one thing. Generating leads and you do that  through activity.


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Lead Generation Tactics

InBound Marketing Online

Lead Generation Tactics

Based on the last blog, you now know how much per lead you can spend, and you know that by increasing your conversion rate (closing percentage) you will be able to generate more leads.

So what tactics (methods) should you use.  Lets start with a small company with a limited budget, as this is the most difficult situation.

If you are limited by a small budget for advertising, the first strategy is do every thing you can to reduce some expenses and move that money over to lead generation.  Lead generation is an investment, not an expense, and should produce more revenue and profit. A really good cycle!

Tactics to use to generate leads and expense:

Relationship marketing.  Expense is your time

1.) Make a list of everyone you know in business. Next to their name add one thing you can do for them professionally.  It can be an idea, an introduction, a mention of their service in your newsletters or emails, a joint venture, a lead.

2.)  Take the top 5 that seem to feel the best, and make those 5 calls this week.

3.) Watch good things happen.  We call it the radar system. You get on their radar and are in their thoughts.  Nothing but good will come from this. You will start getting referrals, and opportunities you never would have imagined.  This is my personal favorite and always pays back big dividends.


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Lead Generation plan

The step many companies seem to miss when they are developing there sales plan, is what they can pay for a customer.  If you don’t know this number, you can not build a sales plan.

Coaches and consultants who start their clients business planning with “how much do you want to do in revenue ” this quarter, year, 3 years, seem to completely miss the point.

You start with what your margins allow you to “pay” for anew customer, and then divide that by your conversion rate.  SO if you can afford to pay $1000.00  for a new client and you close 25% you can pay $250.00  per LEAD.

Once you have that you can decide what tactics fit that budget,a nd how many leads at that rate you can buy each month.

The best way to get more leads, is to increase your conversion rate. The better your conversion rate, the more leads you can afford. That  is why we start with improving your conversion rate.

You can see more about our lead generation on our main site about SEO and Sales

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Want to Sell More? Then Please Stop Selling!

So, your sales force is struggling and it seems like nothing is closing from the pipeline.  Sound familiar? Or you may be hearing these reasons for slow sales:

“It’s the economy, no one is buying – or spending.”

“We are priced too high.”

“They went with a cheaper service.”

The general strategy I suggest is: stop selling and start building relationships. Companies buy from people they trust, especially in this economy.

Here is what I suggest to my clients to jump start sales in the next quarter and year.

  1. Look in the mirror. Is your service easy to sell, even for a plumber? (See my earlier blog on sales tips.)
  2. Recognize that sales and business are about the relationship, not the close.
  3. Develop a good marketing and sales plan, including strategies and tactics for the company and every sales rep based on the information below (building relationships).
  4. Focus on the plan as a manager or owner by paying attention to the progress and supporting the efforts; and meet with every sales person every week.  If the meetings are not productive and seem to go over the same information each week, fire the sales rep, or give him/her a new position in customer service. (I don’t care how big the pipeline is.)

You need to understand the cycle of trust. It’s simple:

They don’t know you. They know you. They trust you. They buy from you.

Before you start building relationships it’s important you plan to build relationships with companies that will buy from you!

So you must – no questions asked, no excuses – develop a great target list of prospects. In my experience this is the number one mistake we all make with sales. We don’t know who is most likely to buy from us, and therefore we waste 70% of our time selling and marketing to companies who will never buy. Kind of dumb, huh? I speak to company owners who spend the majority of their “networking” energy at Chamber events.  Are you kidding me?  How many people at a Chamber event are your prospects? And most of them are there to sell to you, not buy from you. Let’s take an intelligent approach to prospecting.  Build a great targeted list. If you don’t know how, please call me or watch for my upcoming blog on targeting your best prospects.

With this targeted list you can start building relationships.

Step One – They Don’t Know You
Is your sales force asking prospects to marry them on the first date? Your top prospect list does not know you.

I love those emails I get from businesses that ask me to call them for a free quote on insurance, or SEO, or (_________) <—- fill in the blank, when I have never heard of them or requested any information from them. It’s like walking up to someone you have never met at a social function, introducing yourself, and asking them to marry you. What are the chances?  And if they say yes, do you really think you want to go through with it?

Selling is about trust-building over whatever time that takes. You need to take time and care to introduce your services to them.  Decide on a contact methodology, because it’s going to take more than one attempt. You should use one or all of the following: a letter of introduction, an email, a phone call, a drop by, or an event invitation (webinar?).

After each communication, your sales rep needs to call or stop by.  More than 70% of local companies buy from someone they have met in person!

Make sure your first communication contains a compelling reason for the prospect to read it. If it’s all about you, you had better have a huge budget because you will lose their interest fast!  A “tips or information” piece is always good. Ask yourself: what would be helpful to this prospect? – and then write about that.  Invite them to contact you of course. Not a writer? Use this company:

Keep the communication flowing to every prospect no matter how long it takes to get their attention. The goal is to move them into step two.

Step Two – They Know You

Now they know about you, but they have no experience to build any trust on. It’s important that you continue to communicate and in those communications start building trust. Trust is built by doing what you said you were going to do, and using actual examples of success others have seen by utilizing your company.  You need to continue to give good information that will help them during this get-to-know-you period.

Step Three – They Trust You!

They are confident you have a good service or product, and that you have been of benefit to them by supplying good information or even prospects to them.  Now if you have picked the right prospect, they should be ready to buy.

Part of trust is that they are sharing information with you.  If communication continues to be only from your company, trust is not built yet.

Step Four – They Buy or Refer You to a New Customer!

This happens after they trust you and when they have a need for your service or product, or know someone that does, and not until.  Companies don’t buy when you want them to; they buy when they are ready. So continue to communicate so they have your information on the day they need to buy.

If this system looks different than your current “Make a Cold Call and Ask Them to Marry You” technique, you may see huge rewards in revamping the way you “sell” to a system based on building relationships and not trying to close before they trust you.  I suggest your sales group tracks their pipeline in this way, with these categories:

Don’t Know Us

Know Us – They have acknowledged we exist and agree to further communication.

Trust Us – We have ongoing communication with them, and understand their buying needs.

They Will Buy – They have asked for a proposal or meeting. This is what I call a HOT prospect.  (Note: a prospect that trusts you is not a HOT prospect yet.)

At the end of the day it’s all about the trust.  In some cases you can accomplish all of the 4 stages in one sales call. For most companies it is a process of months.

Remember….  most of what you do today in your business will show results in a month or a quarter, not tomorrow.


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The best sales tips I have seen while developing 200 million in revenue.

Tips for Business Owners about Sales and Sales Professionals

This collection of tips came through 20+ years of managing sales teams while developing more than $200 million in sales revenue.


I’ve been lucky in my life having worked around some of the more successful and talented sales professionals in the country. During the 1990s my sales force of 650 sold more than $80 million a year in
recurring revenue for telecom services. Since 2003, my company has averaged a 17-to-1 return on investment for every dollar our clients have spent with us.  Based on these successes, here are some tips for business owners about sales, salespeople, and just plain selling:

1. Dogs have to like the dog food
Here’s an old sales story: A national sales manager is at a meeting with his sales managers from across the country. They have recently launched a new brand of dog food and the sales numbers are terrible. He is ranting and raving about how much marketing has been done, the dollars they’re spending, and no one is selling the new dog food. He asks the group what’s going on! And a small voice in the back of a very quiet room speaks up, “I don’t think dogs like the way it tastes.”

For success, start with your product. Make it taste really good. Too many business owners refuse to accept that a sales problem may, in fact, be a bad product or service. Honestly evaluate your products and services as well as your competition. Make yours better, faster, more affordable. Then go sell it!
Your sales staff will be more productive and your customers will be more loyal.

2. Most salespeople are like plumbers
Plumbers make more than many other professionals. You know why? Because they do the stuff other people don’t want to do. In my experience, 75 percent of salespeople are in sales not because they are trained and passionate sales professionals, but because they will do the stuff other people don’t want to do: they will pick up the phone and make cold calls. You don’t have to be good at sales to make cold calls any more than you have to be good at plumbing to clean out a septic tank. Just make sure that when it comes to your salespeople, you hire the professionals that are passionate about their work; otherwise, you may as well hire a plumber.

3. Great salespeople work for high compensation
The average outside sales rep in Colorado earns around $58,000 a year before benefits. If you’re going to pay an average wage, expect average performance, which in sales means you should hire a plumber. If you want top performance, offer top pay.

4. You can’t hire commission only salespeople to sell your product
Commission only sales representatives must have the opportunity to make $1,500 a week, every week within their first month with your company. And they need to be paid quickly. Can your product support this? No. Stop thinking about hiring cheap sales help, and start thinking about how to make your product irresistible to buyers. Once you have an irresistible product you may be able to hire a commission only sales force because plumbers will be able to give it away.

5. The number one factor in achieving your sales goals is …
… a really great product or service.  Period.

6. Most good salespeople are egotists
This is true. If you do not know how to manage egotistical personalities, don’t.  Hire an experienced sales manager or a therapist to manage them. Some of the best salespeople I have ever worked with were pains to be around. They whined, they were always late, they didn’t come to mandatory training, and they didn’t play nicely with others. What they did was sell. All they needed was a cheer leader, not a manager.

Most sales managers only know how to manage plumbers because that’s what most salespeople are. Plumbers show up for meetings, fill out the reports, and struggle to make minimum sales; but they always have their shovel with them. The problem is you may be tempted to hire plumbers, because they’re easier to manage and will fit in with your company culture better.  So if you are going to hire and manage plumbers, make sure you have a product that is irresistible to buyers.


I think I’ve made my point. Most sales programs are usually handed off to plumbers to sell. Your only chance for great sales success is to spend a great deal of time making your product or service
irresistible to buyers. Trust me, in most cases, this is far more effective and a better return on investment than actually building a professional sales force with top notch management. Why? Because if your product is really good, you’ll attract the best sales professionals anyway.

This leads to my final point for today:

7. Great salespeople aren’t hired, they choose the company they want to work for
Given this, your job as a business owner is to build a service or product that is irresistible. Once you have that, your salespeople will become superstars (and you can throw the shovels away).


Am I An Idiot? What’s Missing from your Marketing and Web Site

In our very focused world of sales and marketing, most consultants or marketing  firms start with the basics.  How well each is thought through and implemented has more to do with the success of a marketing program than almost* anything else.

Those basics generally being:

* Define the target

* Create an irresistible offer (But wait there’s More! )

* Define the best ROI tactics to deliver the message ( Internet marketing, Radio, Direct mail, Trade shows, and a bunch more)
* Track measure and adjust

Yet, even with all of the above done well, there are two pieces that can sink a campaign faster than two rocks tied together. And the first is the BIG one.

Start with your service or product. Ask this question: What can I do to my product or service that would make my target prospects say,” I would be an idiot not to to buy this”. It’s not just the offer, its the actual service itself.

A quick example. In 1998 I was trying to sell a superior on line email service to large companies. The challenge was enormous. New product, a competitor that was offering the basic service for 80% less (a market share grab) and no real sales infrastructure.  So, we would call C level executives in I.T as a company they were not aware of, a reputation as a consumer based service, and a price 8 times higher than the market rate (I should mention it was worth the difference, but you know how that goes).

So, we came up with two solutions, both had good ROI for the company and had the ” I would be an idiot” factor.  Within the year we won three major national accounts, United Airlines, Mazda America, and  I should mention that only one of the two new ideas worked, and that is all part of testing an measuring.

If you want to hear what the best idea was, call me.  Because in most cases you can do it your self in one form or another.  (If your struggling with sales right now your behavior would be idiotic not to call).

Now, as for what the second missing link is in marketing plans, and this can increase your conversions from most media (including your web site)
by 10% to 30%,  It’s your marketing materials, and especially you web site. Most companies fail to appeal to 50% to 75% of buyers. Your marketing materials needs to be designed to appeal to the 4 (or 5, what ever you are comfortable with) primary personality types you sell too.  Chances are very high your site is developed by and designed for only 25% of the buying population.  Ever meet some one who is not much into the web? People think their odd, I think its because we don’t communicate in their language on line, and therefore lose their attention.

In the briefest form I can communicate, here are the four primary styles you need to some how incorporate in your marketing:

Summary- Credible- convert
Details and facts, no selling I will call you.
Color and pictures. woo me to call
You’re safe here. Call when comfortable.

And , you need to package all that in a logical, easy to navigate web site. Easy? I think the best way to accomplish this is to use different marketing messages targeted to each personality with landing pages or landing mini sites with in your site developed for them.  Sound like a lot of work? It is.  Is a 10% to 30% conversion increase worth a lot of work? You decide.

Call me if you want to explore this concept with your site. We don’t do many web sites, but we can work with many highly qualified, experienced, creative, and team focused companies who do sites really well.


Mike Bayes
President, My One Call LLC
12303 Airport Way Suite 200
Broomfield CO. 80021
720 254 1234
303 808 1734 (cell)
Twitter: @mikebayes