Tag Archives: Small Business

Trade Show Marketing 1.1

By: Travis E. Blythe

In an earlier post, I outlined what I thought were the three main steps or stages involved in a trade show conference.  In this section, I am going to talk about the first step.  This is normally called the “Planning Stage”, and hopefully you don’t wait until the last-minute to schedule your conference or trade show.  With that being said, the planning stage is one of the most important stages.  It is here, you create the awareness of your company being in attendance and where people can find you at the conference.

Okay, you signed up to be an exhibitor at the best trade show of the year.  You sold the powers that be, this conference is the “be all to end all” conferences your company needs to be at and needs to have an exhibitor/booth space.  Everyone is usually skeptical (I mean the CEO/President/Owners) because they think they are throwing money away and no one really works a booth or they can’t measure the ROI.  Well, you haven’t met me or my tactics for trade show marketing yet and I can usually always bring home some business.  One of the first items of business is to make sure you post on your website exactly what conferences you plan on attending for the year.  This is important, especially if you have a strong client interaction with your website, some clients may see you going to a particular event they didn’t know about and will thank you.  The second step is to get the attendee list once you pay your money for the exhibit space.

Now that you have the attendee list, item number one is to send out the “Email Blast” to all the attendee’s telling them exactly where they can find you and what prizes you have to offer to get them to stop by.  Make sure you entice with a big-ticket item (something they think they can win) and an awesome give away item (like a cool, hip t-shirt).  Just don’t SPAM the email though, address them individually and don’t let them know you mass emailed it.  There are several programs out there that do this. If not, then send them all separately if you have the resources.  With today’s Social Media taking off the way that it is, you should try to look up all the people you want to target, or all the attendee’s you want business from on Linkedin and Twitter.  Send them invites to connect or follow them.  I would also include in the email ways they can find your company on social media. Engage them to connect with you.

When you have the proper time to plan for the conference, study the schedule and whether you will have time to entertain clients.  Find out what current clients or potential clients are going and set up dinners.  There is nothing worse than to arrive to a conference and have nothing lined up or trying to do it the same day.  Most everyone will have plans and you will end up waiting for everyone to return before you can engage and entertain them.

The next part of the planning stage, which is important is packing up all the materials you will need to be successful.  The number one item is obviously the business card.  Make sure you have all of your company’s literature, a nice 1-page graphic of the prize you are giving away, a bowl for business cards, business card holders, pens, and what I like to call the contact sheet (for those who forget or run out of business cards).  Because I never trusted the other sales reps who attended the trade shows with me to be as responsible as I am, I usually brought all the stuff with me even though some of it is packed inside the booth already.  Somehow the trade show booth fiery always lost or broke something.  Also, don’t forget to have all the “swag” shipped to your conference so you actually have stuff to give away.

One last food for thought is to make sure you have booked your travel.  Scout ahead of time to see if you need transportation from the airport (if flying) or if there is a shuttle to conference site. Show the boss you saved money by booking 2-3 weeks out. Same for the hotels, most conferences offer a conference rate to stay at the hotel where the conference is located or one relatively close.  I understand there maybe cheaper places to stay just down the road, but remember you have to be traveling back and forth sometimes and it can be a pain if you are 5 miles away.  Especially when you are lugging around supplies, laptops or want to change your clothes when the exhibit hall closes for the day.

If you follow these steps, you should be very prepared for your conference or trade show and ready to conquer!

Enjoy your conference and safe travels!

Next up Trade Show Marketing 1.2 – The Show


Things I Think – Thursday 3/18/2010 – SXSW Edition

Nothing says good times like a road trip!  Since Austin, Texas is a mere three-hour and some change drive, the plan was simple, road trip to South by Southwest (SXSW). I have looked forward to this for months, I was not even sure I was going to get to go, then in the 11th hour I got the nod. Since everyone in the industry kept saying how fantastic this event is, my mouth was watering for the experience of SXSW.  It was like nothing else, geeks, techies, directors, actors and musicians all descending on little ‘ole Austin, Texas for nearly two-weeks of good times.  Since I was a SXSW virgin, I was hoping the event would take it easy on me.

So we loaded up the Broscalade pointed the GPS south and mozied on down highway looking for adventure.  Why is it that the first leg of the road trip is always the best? Jamming out to some great tunes and having great conversations, versus just loud music and 20 min naps on the way back.  So we jammed to Rob Base-It Takes Two which was our mantra for the trip (did I just date myself?), drank some coffee and energy drinks all the way down, and arrived ready to rock.

So here is what I think about SXSW. As a whole it is a great concept, there were a bunch of people and cool things happening.  But, I think most of the class sessions were over rated.  It seemed more to me like social media for dummies than anything else.  Although I left some very dumb classes (Zombies, Vampires, & Monsters: Fostering Loyal Genre Communities), I did manage to learn a ton from some of the good ones. One of the more interesting sessions was about Citizen Journalism. I thought a Jerry Springer episode was going on or we were being punked, because the arguments which ensued were comical to say the least.  Are journalist really worried about a blogger like me or citizen journalist taking their job away? I guess so, they were pretty heated, I was waiting for the chair to get busted on someone’s head.  Good Times!

I have a few favorite quotes from the long weekend so I thought I would post them.

  • Hey man you dropped your shank
  • You can never have too much flatware when out in Austin
  • What is it Amateur night? (friends dragging limp body of a friend)
  • It’s kind of like a dating website without the dating
  • I wasn’t that drunk was I? No, except for the part when you fell down
  • We are kind of like Entourage, no I am not Turtle! (and the Not-It’s begin for the “Turtle” designation)
  • Yeah, Brogan didn’t make the list of celebrities to earn the “Name Dropper” badge – Foursquare Dennis Crowley

I got really excited when I saw through my twitter stream the “The Oatmeal” was in town.  I hit him up a couple times and told him I wanted to meet him.  No I am not a crazy stalker guy, I just thought his stuff is really funny and since he is from Seattle, it would be cool to meet him.  Yeah, about that…he dissed me.  Didn’t even get an acknowledgment. Oh well, one day he will be asking to meet me because I am that cool (yeah right), in the meantime, still check out his website The Oatmeal.

Foursquare came/saw/kicked apps! Yes the Foursquare group lead my their Fearless leader and Co-Founder Dennis Crowley brought their own ball, invaded Austin and took on the local favorite Gowalla.  I am sorry Gowalla, but you were TKO’d again this year.  Everywhere you went you heard people checking into this class, creating the line to get into a class or event or how to get this badge and that badge. I ended up with 8 out of 16, may I suggest Mr. Crowley you add a “See the Bats” badge for next year, I couldn’t convince anyone to check them out.  Did I mention that I ran into Mr. Crowley while in line waiting for…ahhh just in line and he is actually a cool guy.  I was asking the secrets of obtaining an elusive badge and he actually told me. I then proceeded to tell him my thoughts on how to make Foursquare better…

I also was able to meet Mr. Mashable himself Pete Cashmore, I even had a cool picture to prove it.  Unfortunately the SXSW Camera monster ate it and I am afraid it will be lost forever.  He actually asked my thoughts on social media and we were conversing until these two chicas (not even very hot) so rudely interrupted for their picture. Can you believe the nerve of them? I mean really, I was talking out of my ass to MASHABLE!!

So, all in all I thought this conference was just…okay, maybe 3 out of 5 beakers.  I think they had too many classes going on at the same time and none of them were ever repeated. So,you basically had to choose and if you picked wrong, then you had to haul ass across the convention center, cross the street to the Hilton, up the escalators 2 floors and get to another session.  At least it felt that way to me.  I never walked so much in my life, me feet still hurt! I think the SXSW producers purposely held the nightly events across town from each other to keep the rickshaw bicycle guys employed. But I am cheap so I walked everywhere.  I met some great people and future leaders of our country (yes I have faith in all of you!) as well as learning about what is to come for 2010…Location, Location, Location.

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

Trade-Show Marketing 1.0

I recently attended a trade show event and afterwords I had to laugh at the wasted opportunities I felt were left behind.  I was actually getting mad at these vendors at the lack of initiative. I put my card in the bowl of opportunity and was shocked at the lack of follow-up. This prompted me to give my opinion or advice, depending on how you take it.  It seemed to me at least, as I was walking around this particular trade show, the purpose the vendors was to promote the product or service and attract new clients and customers.  What kind of ROI can you expect if you don’t follow-up?  I am no stranger to the trade-show or conference events as I was once labeled the road warrior of conferences.  I have a system in which I feel, if you follow these simple instructions, you will be successful.

This is more than likely going to be a several part series as I don’t want to bore you to death in one long post on what you need to do to develop and nurture your business. So I am going to break them down in to sections and speak about each one. For me when I attend a conference there are several stages which make it successful:

  1. Pre-Conference planning
  2. The Show
  3. The follow up

So you decided to attend a conference or trade-show as a vendor.  What I mean by the term vendor, is that you paid to have a vendor space or booth space.  So you ponied up the money (hopefully you got the early registration in order to save the company a few bucks) and you are ready to pack up the booth or table top display and head out.

As I outlined there are three major steps in planning for your trade show.  The first step can either be one of the most important or least important.  It will depend on who your target audience is.  The show itself is where all the magic happens and where you can be a “sales superstar” and brand yourself and your company.  The final step, I call the follow up is where you make your money.  I will break down all three steps on an individual basis, so stay tuned on how you can become the “Conference Superstar.”

Is Your On-Line or Social Media Marketing Like a Texas Snowfall?

By: Travis E. Blythe

If you live in Dallas or the DFW Metroplex, you can pretty much count on having snow fall at least once a year. In most areas of the country, this is not a bad thing and usually it is not anything to worry about.  However, if you live in Dallas you are very familiar with the nightmare which encompasses our yearly snowfall. Most of us weigh the options of whether or not to travel and venture out into the city.  People who are used to snow and wintry conditions usually fail to understand is that we don’t have salt trucks, we don’t have snow plows, what we do have are a few trucks that are able to dump sand and dirt over the top of the snow and ice that accumulates. We all know that is really not a solution for the problem, but rather a temporary fix to get through the problem.
Has your online marketing turned into a nightmare? With all of the buzz surrounding social media and how to effectively utilize it within your business model, are you reluctant to travel out into it?  Are you worried that you do not have the tools to properly engage your clients and potential new customers?  Are you putting a little “dirt” on the problem hoping for a quick fix to get you by?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, maybe it is time to invest either your time or your finances to learn how to effectively approach your social media or online marketing efforts. Normally when you head out into the cold, snow and ice, you make sure you are prepared.  You check your tires, make sure you have plenty of gas, you dress properly and then hope for the best. Your marketing strategies should also have plenty of preparation.  You need to make sure that you are ready to launch the campaign in order to make it successful, you have the time to invest, and you utilize all the tools available to you.
It is pretty comical how the “local residents” in Dallas-Ft. Worth tend to drive when we get our annual snowfall or “wintry mix”, as they call it. Since this happens once a year for a maximum of two days, no one has any experience in driving in snow, ice, and slush.  This makes it even more hazardous to the rest of us that do know how. I am always amazed at how I see people get stuck for driving too slow, or they can’t go up a hill because they are driving to slow. I thought it was common sense to utilize traction when driving on ice, but here in Texas apparently it is not.  When you approach how you want to market yourself, you should also be experienced in what you are doing and know what you want to accomplish. We all have several “pains” from the previous marketing experience or the latest efforts.  Don’t get caught going too slow when it comes to your social media and online marketing. You need to make sure you are 100% invested in seeing it through otherwise it will be a waste of time and money.  The last thing you want to happen is to start your social media campaign and stall half way through because you didn’t have the tools to execute or you “ran out of gas” along the way.  Make sure you have the traction you need to gain the optimum results you are looking for.
I could go on and on about the six ways for this, the six things for that, what to do to get started and how to go about your marketing efforts in order to be successful.  However, the plain truth is, you should consult someone who is experienced in this field. You could spend all day shoveling snow out of your driveway, or you could use a snow-blower and have it done within the hour.  After all, you are a business owner and the proverbial phrase “time is money” definitely applies here and your main goal is to find creative ways to increase revenue and build your business.
With a new year looming around the corner, are you prepared to get back out on the roads? Are you ready and prepared for a successful marketing plan? Don’t just sit at home and wait for the weather to clear.  I guarantee your competitors are not waiting.

New Market Sales 101 – Part One

New Market Sales 101 – Part One, starting the wrong way

Recently I undertook a huge task of trying to establish a new market. Unfortunately the results were less then satisfying, and the whole project was pulled only after 4 months of my time. I know that most people are thinking the same thing that I am, “it doesn’t seem like they gave it much of a chance.” I would concur with that statement, but in their eyes, my four months plus the person before me’s four months equaled 8 months. Which is a shame because the company did have potential, but like any new market, you have to expect a build up time of at least 1-yr, especially if there is not any existing business to start with.

So here I am ready to undertake a huge project of injecting a new company into a market where they have never really been before (it was determined that the previous person never left the house and didn’t do anything for four months). So project number one was brand building. I am fortunate enough to have been in this industry for over 10 years, so the contacts I have, I knew would come in handy. My first target was to associate the new company with me, with my previous track record and reputation, I knew that I could bring business in with my name alone. I was able to successfully bring in more business in my first two-weeks then the previous person did in 4-months. Good for me, so I thought.

The DFW metroplex is a huge area and there are over 80 accounts alone to get business from. After my first month I was feeling pretty confident about being successful with this service I was providing. unfortunately, this is where things started to go downhill. I know how to successfully market a territory from scratch, I know what it takes and how to get your brand out there in front of people to establish yourself in a market where there are minimum of 10 competitors who do the same exact service calling on the same exact people. So lesson number one was “Never undertake a task without asking more questions”. I was under the impression that since this was a “National” provider, they actually had a market share. Come to find out, they actually were not on any approved vendor lists for the major accounts in the industry. Why was this important? Well, for starters, if you eliminate the top 10 companies to get business from, it really leaves a bunch of small accounts who do not have the case load to provide a steady stream of business. Which in turn means that you have to rely on sporadic business.

So then I approached this problem from a different angle. I researched which companies in other markets were giving us business. My thinking was that if XYZ was giving us business in Florida and Georgia, I was sure that my counterparts would be able to get me a POC for the same companies here. Unfortunately that was another mistake on my part. I am used to a team mentality when it comes to a sales force. I successfully ran a sales team across the country and implemented this philosophy so that we could “help each other out”. I quickly learned that we did not have a sales team but more of a bunch of account “manager” who “Farmed” accounts and were too scared to ever speak to a manager or higher for fear of jeopardizing the account. So basically I had no help and I was told not to contact the other accounts in other markets.

So I don’t have any existing book of business, no past business to follow up on(I had to put out fires on the previous business brought in by the previous rep, so no repeat business here), or accounts in other markets where we do get business to help me get in the door. My next difficult task was to correct all of the problems we had with not knowing the Texas laws. So my first set of business I brought in was a disaster because we pretty much screwed the pooch on all of the files, because nobody knew what they were doing at home office. So this equaled no repeat business, even though all of this business was from dear friends in the industry helping me get started. I tried to overcome this by taking control of my cases myself and getting rid of the “help”. Which did end up helping on the new business I was still getting, but not any of my old business.

So here is a thought, if no one is familiar with your products or services, and you have never been in a market before, wouldn’t it make sense to maybe attend a trade show? Maybe exhibit at a couple of industry conferences to help build brand awareness? I thought so, but the powers that be decided that it would be a waste of money and I should try to “sneak in” and guerrilla market on my own. Unfortunately my reputation is valuable to me and I do not “sneak in” especially when I used to be the one scheduling conferences and trade shows with my last company and most of them know me. I would be later told they had “sticker shock” because it cost so much in this market. Well, welcome to a Major Market! Unlike a smaller market like Colorado or Las Vegas, where everything is dirt cheap, DFW is a major hub for this industry. More people, more clients, more vendors, more money to be made, so a wee bit higher of cost associated with it. It is tough when all of your major competitors are at a booth handing out marketing materials and gaining good quality leads on decision makers and POC, and you are on the sideline watching. So I guess the old philosophy “spend money to make money” was true. It is kind of funny that if you are considering someone’s base salary sinking money into a market, then you never should have started in the first place.

My last great hope was that the company would at least take my advise and get certified with the state to be able to teach Continuing Education Classes. Here is Texas, many of the clients here utilize them from vendors because they are free and it gives them an opportunity to have the employees get hours in order to maintain their licenses. The process takes at the most 2-weeks to complete. After 4 1/2 months and countless times of asking, it was never done to my knowledge. From my point of view, this would have opened doors that were shut due to not being on a vendor panel. It would get your name out there and possibly speed up the process of the panel selection or addition. Furthermore it gets you in front of offices that have a “no vendor” policy which prohibits you from just wandering around and speaking with people. You not only have people in a room for an hour, you get to give them your information and get them hours and above all, market!!

So what did I learn from this experience? Above all, I learned  I really should have done more due diligence on the company. I needed to understand more about the wall I was up against from the beginning. I needed to know that there would be no training, no help from team members and above all that the window of opportunity would only be 4-months. Live and learn and know how to grow from your experiences!

In part two of this article, I will talk about how to effectively market a new territory and the steps you really need to take in order to be successful.

Stop Light Sales – Red Light

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light…Go!  If you were observing the traffic laws this is the order in which you would proceed while driving your car.  Many sales professionals should approach their daily sales calls in the manner.  I am sure you may be wondering what on Earth I am talking about.  Before I dive right in, ask yourself a couple of questions about your last couple of sales calls, or if you are a manager, has your sales staff ever said this to you. “He just was not receptive to buying today” or “I thought I had him but he just was not listening”.

Maybe the problem is not that they were not “receptive to buying” or “not listening” maybe it was that your sales person or even yourself for that matter was not paying attention to the mood of your client.  Why is this important? Because people will only be receptive to you when they are ready to, being able to read them and understand your client is just as much a part of your job as actually selling to them.  Many young sale professionals do not understand this dynamic and how important it is to understand and read your clients before trying to hit that home run sale.

The first light as with any stop light is RED.

Let’s start with the “Red Light” in this scenario. If you were driving your car and you approach a red light, chances are you stop.  Well, you need to STOP selling to your client if you feel that they are in a red light mood.  How can you tell? Most people will definitely let you know when they are at this stage. The buyer is usually not interested in hearing your ideas, unless you are offering free money.  Stop selling to them until you feel you have them at least to a yellow light.  What are some reasons that people are at a “red light”?  Well, you may have stumbled across them and they are having a bad day.  It could be your fault or the fault of your company, or it could be that they just received divorce papers.  Who knows, but it is part of your job to uncover the reason.  You need to reflect and respond.  Once you determine the reason for the “Red” whether personal or business related, then you need to go in the appropriate direction.

If the reason is business related, at this point you need to fix the problem.  No matter what it takes, you need to become the “GOTO” guy in their mind, so that they know from here on out instead of dwelling on a problem and letting it fester until you walk through the door, tell them that you will always fix the problem.  Once you fix the problem, whether you got the order wrong, poor customer service, or just screwed up the entire thing, make it right.  They will respect you and buy from you again.

If they are just having a rotten day due to personal problems, don’t add insult to injury and pile on.  While you want to be sympathetic, do not get caught up in the personal matter.  Be understanding and offer an “ear” to vent, but try to avoid offering advice or fixing their personal problems.  This could just back fire on you and you could lose the account altogether.

Sometimes, coming out of the red can be as simple as having polite conversation, speaking about whatever their favorite topics are, their family or letting them get off their chest about how much they hate vendors.  Remember that we were all given two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly. Once we have them into the “Yellow Light” we can start to soften them up for the sell.

Earn the Right, Fact or Fiction?

Earning the Right – Fact or Fiction

Sales is a magical profession to be in.  You can either be really successful or you hate it.  If you are on the hating end of things then it is definitely time for you to pursue other career opportunities.  In order to be successful, you have to have patience, be able to handle over 75% rejection in the beginning and you have to be able to successfully speak to your clients in a manner which will lead you to a successful outcome.  This can be known as “Earning the Right”.  Which is basically the way you creatively use your talents to get in front of the client in order to “pitch” your wares so to speak.  I believe that you must ETR in order to be successful, so ETR is a fact.

Throughout my career as a sales professional, “Earning the Right” has been camouflaged and worded different in every industry.  All phases are of the process are used in many different manners, but regardless of how you use the process; I have found that most of all, this is common sense.  I have had the opportunity to recruit, train and develop sales forces in which I stressed this principle and if followed correctly, you can be successful at your craft.

Before I dive into the process, let me pose a series of questions that you maybe having right now.  You maybe a Sales Manager, Director of Sales, VP of Sales or even a Sales Representative yourself.  You are asking yourself what do I have to do to ensure that my team or that I am successful at growing my business.  I am not making my quotas, I keep missing that elusive bonus, or I just can’t get anyone to see me.  If this is the case, then maybe your approach to how you are selling is what needs a fine tuning.

Most people believe the sales industry is very easy and lucrative and anyone even a trained monkey can do it.  Well, you are wrong; I would bet that outside of a strong work ethic and organization, you have to have personality and a “gift of gab” so to speak.  Before you can ever sell your product or service, you must sell yourself.  If you lack that confidence to sell yourself, then of course you will not be successful.  I was once told that I could sell a plate full of ketchup covered French Fries to a lady wearing white gloves.  Although that is a great compliment, I think that my confidence in myself first and foremost is what makes me successful.  My clients tend to buy from me and not necessarily from what company I work for.  Once I have established the rapport needed, then I start “pushing my wares” and building that successful business relationship.

So now that you have read almost a page, you are asking yourself “ok what is Earning the Right anyway?”  So, we have established that you need to sell yourself; you need to have your clients trust you, and have their best interest in mind and you are not just selling them something and walking away.  That is what is going to separate you from your competitors.  This is where many sales people fail; I have a totally separate article on Customer Service, so let’s get back to the case in point.  Outside of failing to take care of your clients, the initial failure stems from not even getting a foot in the door.  How does this happen?  How can so many sales people fail in the beginning?  I think most of it has to do with proper training of your staff.  Most companies will train you upon hire, take the first few weeks and try to pile on everything about the company, everything about the product/service and hope you get it.  Another approach is to give you no training until two months into your job and nit pick at your lack of results.  On the job training as they call it, the “sink or swim” mentality.  I prefer the first approach myself.  While it can be a bit overwhelming, at least you are providing the tools to be successful.

So why are all of these people failing at getting going? Why can they not get in the door? They leave voicemail after voicemail, and in today’s world, I have found that the phone call is becoming obsolete because it is so much easier to send an email.  Not only do sales people prefer emails now-a-days, but most of prefer to receive them verses a phone call.  You can selectively return an email and not have to speak to someone and “hurt their feelings”.   But rejection is part of the game remember?  So here is the meat and potatoes of this article, I have taken you down this road and you are probably ready to log off, but wait…I do have a point!

Earning the Right, this is making your call or email so full of purpose that the person just has to see you, kind of like cooking and they smell the food, so let’s give it to them.  So most reasons we have a failure in the sales process is at the first step.  Many sales people believe that they can just pick up the phone and “BAM!” you magically get the appointment.  If you are industry specific this may work, but most of the time you have to earn the right to get that appointment.

There could be an argument that the actual ETR is when you get in front of your client for your presentation.  While this is true, I believe, that, that version of ETR is a more in-depth and thought out process, which I cover in another article.

Earning the Right (ETR) is actually a four step process, here are the steps:

  1. Creditability to company
  2. Creditability to Self
  3. Commitment to time and Process
  4. Close

So you have your list of prospective clients, and you are ready to attack.  But why should they take your call? If they do, what are you going to say within the first 15-20 seconds that is going to get you an appointment?  Utilize this process to its full potential and I can guarantee you will be successful.

So first off you finally got someone to answer the phone or they actually called you back. What you do now is critical for you success.  You have to tell that person why your company is better than all of the other companies who sell the same thing.  It doesn’t matter if you have 3 competitors or 100.  So in this step, this where you brag about how great your company is.  This is really easy when you believe in your company, your product or service and have passion.  I always sold like I was the owner of the place I was working at and that every sell depended on the lifeline of the company.  There are a couple of ways to give you company creditability, a referral from another office within that clients organization, maybe a business associate, and of course industry wide acclaim.  The latter being something that your company has accomplished within its prospective industry.  It is good to be able to give facts, numbers, anything that will spark an interest and make them want to see you.  Kind of like the “WOW” factor.  I had a tag line on my emails – “Quality service deserves and Expert!” ok I didn’t use the word service, but for this case and point, you get my drift.  I was an expert in my field and I told my clients that I was.  I know what I am doing, my company believes in me and we are the one you need to trust.

Which leads us to the second point, giving Creditability to yourself.  What exactly gives you creditability? Your knowledge of the industry, your credentials, and why you are head and shoulders above anyone else that is selling to the same person.  You can also expand on your creditability by telling them who you have worked with in the past and how you have helped them.  An example: I know your company X is in the Y industry; I recently helped company Z, who is also in that industry. So I know exactly what your needs are…and so on.  This step is similar to the fist point; although this credit is going to you personally and not who the company has worked with.  In other words, personal references here go a long way.

The third point is to have commitment to time and process.  Although we would all love to be able to come in and provide an hour long presentation to the whole C-level staff, we need to take this one step at a time.  You goal is to be respectful that they are just as busy as you and you are not going to tie them up for hours.  A good rule of thumb is to ask for about 20-30 minutes top meet with them to further explain your services or product.  This guarantees you will get at least that amount of time.  If they can only spare half of that amount of time, that is fine also.  If you are a good sales person, you can successfully turn your 15-30 minutes into more time.

The last step is the close.  You should usually always be closing; however, you also need to be aware of how the call is going.  I call this my Red-Yellow-Green light approach (again another article!).  Usually on telephone calls unless they can give you an order right then over the phone, save the long winded close for when you are in front of them.  In some industries you can one call close, while in others, you need to meet first and also may require you submit an RFP or you may need to fill out vendor paperwork.  I will cover more on this step in part of my article on ETR in person.

Now you know the steps of ETR, but before you pick up at hat phone and start dialing away, take your time and write out key bullet points on what you want to cover in the call.  The worst thing to happen when you finally get someone to talk to is to have your mind go blank.  Another good rule of thumb is to learn as much about your prospective client as possible. A little research goes a long way when you want to sell yourself as an expert. There are numerous websites out there to gain important knowledge about who you are trying to speak with.  Also, do not forget about listening to quarterly calls (usually posted on a company website if they are public) this will help you understand where they are coming from and you may see that they spoke directly about your industry.  Good information will tell you if they even have the ability to spend money or if you are spinning your wheels.

Remember that you always want to sell yourself first, and then your company and they will buy from you.  I truly believe that you also need to change your frame of mind from considering yourself as a vendor, to that of a partner.   You are out there creating partnerships, which will hopefully last a long time.

Hopefully you gained some knowledge from this and it helps you become more of a successful sales person.