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Let’s Talk About It

Posted by Tracie Gilbert on Friday, July 16th, 2010

Word of mouth has exploded as one of the fastest-growing segments of the marketing industry these last few years. According to a report by PQ Media of Stamford, Conn., an alternative media researcher, it is forecasted to reach $3.7 billion by 2011, with blogs and social networking sites such as Facebook seeing ever increasing popularity. At the same time, word of mouth is one of the oldest forms of advertising. As long as there have been brands, people have talked about them, both positively and negatively. Unfortunately, people are much more likely, almost 10 times in fact, to talk about a negative product experience than a positive one. So how to you generate positive word of mouth? Read on for a few simple tips and tricks.

Talk to Me. Diversify your networks by getting active within your community, professional networking groups or professional associations. Most business people stay within their comfortable zone of home and work and back again and can’t figure out why no one is referring them. Get active and visible within your community and let people know you are there. (More tips on this next month!)

Mouth to Mouth. Develop relationships with businesses that are symbiotic and noncompetitive with yours. The wedding industry, real estate market and construction industry are all great examples of this. A new customer for one becomes a referral for the rest – such as with real estate where your real estate agent can refer you to a mortgage broker, title company, inspection and repair companies. Determine what services best compliment your own and begin building a relationship with them, breathing new life into all of your businesses.

He Said, She Said. Use your website and social media outlets to your advantage. Create a system where customers can review your products or services. Customer reviews are one of the most effective user-generated methods for driving sales. In fact, over three quarters of customers admit to seeking out peer reviews before purchasing a product or service (A.C. Nielsen). Then expand outward from your website inviting customer feedback from various venues such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and partner websites – you want to make it easy for people to talk about your brand wherever they are…and to drive them back to your site. Finally, if you get a good customer review – use it. Integrate it into your ads, signage, newsletters, emails, etc and let customers know what others are saying.

Actions Speak Louder. Develop an army of volunteers, samplers, ambassadors, etc that you can send out new product/service invites to for the purpose of reviewing and telling friends and colleagues about. Large companies such as Procter & Gamble, Lee Jeans, even movie companies such as New Line Cinemas, have begun using this method that has been shown to increase favorable opinions in case after case from 50-75%. (Source: Company reports). By using a select group of thought leaders of companies, clubs or groups to ‘preview’ your new product or service, you are creating implied endorsers/thought influencers to sell for your brand.

Keep a Civil Tongue. Obviously, you do not want to ignore your current customers either. Remember that the customer is always right and to keep them happy. A happy customer will come back for more business as well as tell their friends and colleagues about you. Make sure you listen to your customers and show that you care about their needs. Get their opinions on new products or services and incorporate the useful information. Customers like to think that you value their opinion – and you should. After all, they are the ones supporting your business.

Talk Shop. Referral programs are always a great way to get current customers to tell their friends and colleagues about your business. Referral promotions can be something as simple as a percent off their next purchase, a free gift or a donation made to their favorite charity. The important thing is to make it as easy as possible to refer you. That means emails that they can just forward, including business cards or brochures with invoices, samples/gifts that they can share (such as pens, notepads, lollipops with your logo/web address), etc. – whatever method (or better yet METHODS) you use, make sure the customer can pass it on easily and quickly. You want to show the current customer that you appreciate the fact that they would refer you, but not take up any more time in their busy day.

The Final Word. Last, but not least, you do still need to focus on minimizing your negative word of mouth by making sure to provide a quality product or exceptional service. It does not do any good to get new customers if you are unable to keep them. Make sure that you are honest in your marketing materials and sales tactics. Try and correct problems immediately, showing them that their business is important to you. Referrals and growth are going to be hard to come by if the customer is unsatisfied. Better yet, go the extra mile. Make sure the work you do get’s people energized, excited and eager to tell a friend.

Increasing your business through word of mouth advertising is about cultivating relationships with people and allowing them to get to know you and trust you. People do business with people they have confidence in. Simple as that. If you go into this process understanding this one key point, you will have a better opportunity to build your business through word of mouth.

“If it’s not worth talking about, it’s not worth doing.”
 – Andy Sernovitz – Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking


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Cold Calling Cures

Posted by Tracie Gilbert on Friday, April 30th, 2010

COLD CALLING. Brrrrr. Yes, it is a dreaded task that only the certifiably insane enjoy, but there are ways to make the process smoother, reduce your chance of sticking your foot in your mouth and increase your chances of actually acquiring a new customer. Read on for 10 simple, easy to use tips for talking to strangers:

  1. Be Prepared. Simple, right? While most of us insist that we know this Boyscout motto, not many actually do it properly. Now, don’t get discouraged that this is not some amazing new trick. But it is listed here as tip # 1 as it is THE most important tool you have that will make a difference. There are a wide variety of ways that you can get prepared – research your markets and prospects, prepare an opening statement, loosely script the rest of your call, be prepared with specific requests, KEEP IT BRIEF AND END THE CALL.
  2. Re-Re-Research. Take advantage of the wide variety of information available today and find out as much as you possibly can about your cold call contact in advance. It can be a huge advantage to be able to talk about their business and their needs when you call them, making the call personalized and not quite so cold. It also demonstrates your knowledge and commitment about their problems and the opportunities to solve them.
  3. Opening Statements. This lets you organize your thoughts before cold calling and helps you avoid common mistakes in the call opening that would give the person you’re calling the chance to terminate the conversation. DON’T read your opening statement into the phone, but use it as a framework to get the conversation off to a good start. The approach can vary depending upon what your research turned up, but your appointment rate should go way up when you show prospects you are interested enough in their business to have done some homework and personalize your introduction/call.
  4. Loosely Scripted. Lay out the benefits of your product or service and the reasons your prospect should buy. Write out possible objections and your answer to them. Once again, DO NOT read your script word for word when you call. You do not want to be so focused on your script that you are not paying attention to the customer’s reaction to it. A script’s purpose is to organize your thoughts so that you do not ramble, customize your conversation to your customer and allow you to highlight your main points while keeping the call BRIEF.
  5. Converse, Don’t Pitch. In most of our daily interactions, we simply want to get to know and communicate with others. But when we go into sales situations, we have an agenda – to make a sale. And because a pitch can trigger the perception that that’s all we want, many people will sense this immediately and put up their guard, limiting your chance for real, honest communication. If you instead create a conversation around the problems or issues you know they’re facing and have a conversation about how to solve those problems, leaving off the sales pressure – prospects will share their truth with you. They’ll tell you whether solving the issue is a priority, whether they have the resources to commit to it and anything else you need to move forward.
  6. Perfectly Purposeful. The cold call is NOT about making the sale, as many sales people tend to think. It’s about getting the chance to make the sale. In plain terms, the purpose of a cold call is to set an appointment to make the pitch. Be specific, “Would Wednesday at 11 a.m. be a good time to meet/call?” instead of saying, “Can I meet with you to discuss this next week?”
  7. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Respect their time. Keep your call as brief and precise as possible — generally less than a few minutes. Remember, you are calling them out of the blue and need to realize that you cannot just assume they have free time to listen to your pitch; you need to do your intro, get them interested, then schedule that time with them. If you promised them any additional information during the call, then make sure you send it before your scheduled appointment.
  8. About time. Set aside a time each day to make cold calls. By setting a time to make your cold calls, you are creating a new routine for yourself, limiting the chance of procrastination. Generally, the best times to call are either early or late in the day as potential customers are less busy and more likely to answer their own phones.
  9. Cut through the clutter. With cold calls, it is all about attitude and how you react to the customer and situation. Don’t be just another drone. Whether using honesty (I realize you probably get 100 of these calls a day. Well, buckle up – here’s one more!), an industry article they may find interesting (Did you see the recent article about xyz?) or humor if the call is not going well (Mr. X, are you about to hang up on me?) – make sure you distinguish yourself and keep it light and energized.
  10. Persistence Pays. “Eighty percent of new sales are made after the fifth contact, yet the majority of sales people give up after the second call” (AllBusiness.com). Keep it up! Just remember that people are having to do more and more with less help these days and it may take a while to find some free time. Don’t be annoying, but routinely follow up to show them that you are reliable and willing to go the extra mile in order to help them with their problems.

There are a million sites out there for tips, tricks and even scripts for cold calling. Use them, make the cold call your own and warm up to this area of sales. While cold calling may never be your favorite sales tactic, you can get better at it. The more you practice, the more effective it will be. The people who want to do business with you are out there – but you have to let them know about you first.

“Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison

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New Year, New Business

Posted by Tracie Gilbert on Friday, January 29th, 2010

Happy New Year everyone! To celebrate the new year, let’s briefly discuss the eternal search to get NEW clients. There are tons of different methods to approach new customers, but we are going to explore just 4 of the most impactful.

Cold Calling – While not the favorite method of reaching new clients, it can still be wildly successful if done correctly. Research your prospects and their industry – first to make sure that you are contacting someone that would benefit from your services and secondly so that you can prep before your call to outline how you can help them. Prep an opening statement customized to that prospect to catch their attention. Loosely script your call to help you keep it brief and to stay on subject. By talking to the right people about problems/issues specific to their industry that you can help with, you increase exponentially your chance of success with a cold call.

Word of Mouth – Everyone knows that a dissatisfied customer will talk to many more people than a satisfied customer, hence the hyper focus on customer service, right? But good customer service can only reduce your chances of negative word of mouth. How do you actually generate positive word of mouth? Believe it or not, there are a couple of different ways. Get active in your community, professional networking groups and professional associations (see below). Develop a referral network – determine what professions work to complement your services and develop relationships with them. Think of wedding services – florist, photographer, caterer, travel agent – each networks and refers each other so that a referral for one is a referral for all. Finally, make it easy to refer you – whether sending an email, business cards, brochures, etc with your invoice – make it easy for people to pass on your contact information.

Networking – Most people have a wide variety of networks already in place that they fail to take advantage of, such as Alumni Associations, Special Interest Groups, Volunteer Organizations, etc; there are a variety of people within these groups that may have need of your products/services. Don’t be afraid to bring up your business in these groups, even if it is just in your introduction to someone new and giving them a business card. People are much more likely to go to someone that they have met before and shares some life aspect with them, than to risk going to a company that they do not know. Most important to remember when networking is to be sincere, relaxed and to follow up – so if you promised to email an article to someone next to you on a plane, do it. Networking is about building your trust and credibility, NOT about smoozing everyone you meet.

Current Customers – The quickest, most cost-effective way to increase sales volume is to sell additional products/services to your existing customer base. Compare your current service/products offers to those of your competitors. Add complementary services/products. Expand the range of your service/product line. Offer volume discounts, special offers or package deals to up-sell orders. Be a 1 stop shop for your customers as much as possible. Your customers will thank you for saving them time and making them look good. When they do, GET REFERRALS!

Doing these 4 things should help you to reach new customers immediately, but again, there are a million different ways to expand your customer base. If you have a great tip, feel free to sound off below!

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” — Zig Ziglar

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Good Things Come To Those…

Posted by Tracie Gilbert on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Patience is not often lauded as a virtue in the sales world. Usually the focus is on creating urgency, moving forward and closing deals. Some may even mistake patience as a form of procrastination, however, sales professionals who dismiss patience are overlooking a powerful and little utilized tool. Any successful sales person will be very familiar that building a good sales relationship takes time and persistence.

Now, persistence does not mean calling the prospect each week to see if they are ready to sign yet – you do not want to be a pest. Persistence simply means staying in touch with prospects in a way that builds the relationship and positions you as a valuable resource and trusted advisor.

The Rule of 7 is a fairly well known marketing concept which says: a prospect needs to see, hear, or otherwise be exposed to a message at least seven times before they respond in some way, shape or form. In other words, if you don’t have a contact strategy that touches the prospect at least seven times, you significantly reduce your odds of sales success. Optimally, you should be using a mix of vehicles for those 7 touches from emails, articles, webinars, phone calls and direct mail campaigns in order to reach your contact and get that first interview and begin building a relationship. Try to provide value in each communication in order to gradually move them closer to seeing you as the expert they can go to when needed.

Patience should be utilized in all aspects of your sales relationship. From prospecting to sales calls, to negotiating, to purchases, in this current economy customers have smaller budgets that they are being asked to do more with and are therefore taking longer to make sure they make the correct decisions, consider all their options and get the most bang for their buck. As a sales person, you need to make sure that you have the patience to follow up with them until they have time to talk, listen attentively to all of their problems/concerns and take the time to go through each with them.

Patience shows the customer that you care and that you are willing to take your time with them to make them happy. Customers love to feel that they are special, because they are. The more attention that you give to a customer, the more that they will feel that they are buying a product from a genuine and loyal person who wants to help them make a smart buying decision.

Selling is tough. Just remember that what we do is difficult and the relationships essential to success are not forged overnight. It takes time to build trust and credibility and prospects are going to engage you when they are ready. You can’t force them into meeting with you or buying from you. You need to have patience to guide them along the decision-making process and persistence to not give up. Sooner or later the prospect that took you 10 months just to get a meeting and another year to close could mean tons of repeat income to your firm.

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”  Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

“He that can have Patience, can have what he will.” Benjamin Franklin

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Be An Expert

Posted by Tracie Gilbert on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

It is important to a customer that they feel you are knowledgeable about your product, your competition and their problem. Following are a few tips to becoming an expert:

SEEK KNOWLEDGE – To become an expert in your field, you need to seek knowledge at every opportunity. Talk to people in your industry who have experience. Research and read everything you can on your specific field – the internet makes this almost too easy these days. Become an expert on trends in your industry. Learn about technology that is changing business processes.

KNOWLEDGE GAPS – As much as you can become an expert in your field, you cannot know everything. If you do know everything – congrats, you can stop reading here. However if like the rest of us, you run into a question that you do not know the answer to, admit it. Promise to find the answer and get it to them shortly. Do NOT make up an answer or not answer at all. The customer needs to trust that you know what you are talking about and if you fib or prevaricate, then you run the risk of losing that trust.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS – It is always better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around. Some sales people think that their product/service can fix everything under the sun and then some, which is just not possible. Know your product, know your customer and determine their problem. Figure out if your product/service is a good fit for their issue. This can mean the difference between a repeat customer and years of partnership or one-time only sales and negative word of mouth.

KNOW YOUR DIFFERENCE – How is your product set apart from others on the basis of superior performance in one or more areas? Your ability to differentiate your product or service probably is one of the most important factors in the customer’s decision. Why should they use you instead of their current provider? Know your competition and their benefits as well as their downfalls.

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER – Know your customers most common problems. When are they most likely to happen? What are the causes? What can be done to solve them? Make yourself valuable to them by becoming their problem solver for a specific set of issues and making their job easier.

Helping your customer by being their own personal expert in that field will help you to create repeat business and increased sales. If you are satisfied with where you are or think that you have nothing else to learn…well, you probably wouldn’t be reading this, would you? Instead, seek to be the best, strive for knowledge and try to become an expert in your own little corner of the world.

“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.”  Denis Waitley


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Cosmetic Promotions: Retail Beauty Marketing
Cosmetic Promotions, Inc.
2111 W Pine St. Orlando, FL 32805
Phone: 407-310-4839