It was the day before opening of duck hunting in North Dakota. My 24 year old son and I, along with my brother and his son were “scouting”– looking for a slough full of ducks to hunt the next morning.
Although we have hunted the area for 45 years, since before we even carried a gun, heavy rains made the dirt roads a muddy, impassable mess. Many of our favorite opening day haunts were inaccessible by even a four-wheel drive pickup. Darkness was fast approaching.
Over dinner at a local small town VFW, we made our decision based on years of experience. My brother Marc and his son would take the 4 wheeler to the far side of a favorite slough, and my son and I would walk in to “Oscar’s” slough–about a half mile. (we name all of our sloughs and keep a journal of where we hunted and the outcome of each hunt)
Although we could not even see the water from the nearest road, intuition and experience convinced us the choices would be productive.
We were right. An hour into the hunt, my son and I had harvested several ducks and 2 Canada Geese. All were retrieved by Brynn, the Ivory Lab. Although there is much more to hunting than shooting some game, the rewards of bringing home some birds make the hunt more memorable.
As in hunting experience, business experience can make all the difference in bringing home the “game”. After all, the sale is the purpose of any business.
One little tweak in an e-mail. A change in facial expression or posture in a face to face presentation. Your interpretation of a prospect’s question. All can make–or break the sale!
My top 3 “Experience Qualities”
1. Be Comfortable and Confident
Your self-confidence will be evident to the prospect/client. He or she will know if you believe in the products or service you are providing. They also will know if you are comfortable with yourself. “Nervous Nellie” seldom gets the sale.
Imagine yourself as the buyer, deciding if you and your products are the right place for their investable dollars. Do you fit?
Remember, whether the person on the phone or on the other side of the desk is worth a small sale, or as some of my buyers were, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, they are human beings. They appreciate being comfortable and trusting of someone they want to do business with.
When I am writing an e-mail, especially important when an offer is involved, at least 2-3 people review the contents for grammar, spelling and clarity. If you are too close to the subject, you may know what you are talking about, but others may wonder what you mean. Or worse, misinterpret your content.
If you include web links in the e-mail, test them to make sure they go where you want them to. (what if a link accidentally went to a porn site?)
The same goes for personal meetings. Be prepared with answers to potential questions. Also be prepared to say ” I’ll find out and get right back to you”. Few prospects or buyers will resent someone who does know everything as long as the follow-up is fulfilled.
If your presentation includes written materials, brochures or samples, make sure you have current information and the samples are perfect. Face to face meetings include the fact that first impressions mean a lot.
Preparedness will also keep your presentation to the allotted time slot. Busy buyers guard their time, just as your should value your own. More of your own time means more time working on the next opportunity, (or leisure time).
One final thought on being prepared covers webinars. I watch/listen to many webinars. Its pretty easy to tell who is prepared and who is not. The first indication of being unprepared is going over the scheduled time. Most webinars I attend could easily be cut down by 20-30 minutes with a little more planning and fore-thought.
One of my favorite “thinking on the fly” stories involves a fly. The founder of a fledgling food company went in for a presentation to a major prospect. Part of his plan was to open a can of his product was to open it and have the buyer taste it.
To his chagrin, the first thing he saw at the top of the can WAS a fly. Without hesitation, he grabbed the spoon meant for the buyer and quickly gobbled a big bite, including the fly! His quick thinking kept his company from a huge embarrassment, and he got the sale.
Thinking on your feet is a must for successful phone or face to face sales. Often your prospect will give you an opening when you are thrown a curve ball. Sometimes the buyer may mention an attribute of a competitor. Do not criticize the opponent!
Dissing your opponent rarely is effective. Instead, after acknowledging the buyer’s opinion, move quickly on with an anecdote or benefit of your own. Hopefully by this time you know something about your prospect where you can ask a “curve ball” question, catching your client off guard.
Thinking on your feet is a little simpler in the internet and attraction marketing world. You simply have more time to react. However, spontaneity can be used to your benefit via your computer.
Let’s say you discover or uncover a new niche where you have access to the hot product. Quickly set up the arrangements and get an offer to your applicable e-mail list. Now!
Maybe you want to add speaking engagements to your marketing plan and you’ve been invited to a service club meeting. The person in charge of setting up speakers mentions a cancellation for next weeks meeting. Immediately after the meeting shake his hand and say you are available.
Zig Ziglar started his speaking career by being available for every event he could. It certainly worked well for him.
Quick thinking = success.
If you are new to business world do not get discouraged if hindsight tells you missed a great marketing or sales opportunity. I have missed a few. Experience has helped me to take advantage of many.
One of my biggest sudden opportunity was with Sam’s Club. The buyer called me out of the blue. He was an hour away and wanted meet as soon as he could get there. My manufacturing company was all ready booked to capacity. I replied I was available. We could worry about production later.
That gave me 60 minutes to develop a game plan. Not a lot for a major account. I had to work fast.
Fortunately I knew a little bit about how Sam’s liked to operate. Big discounts and liberal return policies, all backed by the manufacturer. He had mentioned the products he was interested in and I quickly looked at my production costs. (I had numbers for every product we made). With a couple of quick phone calls, I negotiated some quantity discounts from a couple of the main suppliers and drew up a proposal offering Sam’s a HUGE discount that I knew they would want.
He arrived. We made a deal. He was happy, I was happy. My company came out with the margins we wanted on a nice sale. The suppliers got a nice bump of business and profit with the increase in volume.
Preparedness, quick thinking, and spontaneity combined with the confidence gained through years of experience, provided my company with terrific additional sales for 2 years.
A final thought.
You can expedite your experience by working with an experienced business partner. Imagine your background, combined with the hundreds of experiences of an expert, bolstering the sales of your business. Imagine the extra profits.
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