30 November, 2013

1-3 sales: Tip, The common ground

Of course the goal of any deal is to reach a common ground so that the deal is a win-win situation

But sometimes the deal or some parts of it just must be win-lose situations, like:

-         Your company has to cut your salary the half, or fire you
-         A certain term has to be a yes/no without a chance to get compromise things

In these conditions you have to fight for this in every way possible, and be well prepared to win this through the 1st 2 dimensions of negotiation (setup and structure)

But don't over-negotiate stuff to the point that makes you a real pain in the ass. If things may come to this point, consider using a buffer then 

1-3-10 sales: The guy in-between

Sometimes negotiations are more sensitive than usual due to many reasons, examples:

-         You may not have enough experience in the field of negotiation, or you will be negotiating with people who are way more experienced than you
-         The negotiation you are about to enter is very intense, heated up, and you may get emotional and that would affect your rational decision
-         You may have issues or the lower-hand with the guy you are negotiating with, like your manager or coach
-         The negotiation may be that intense, long and pain in the ass that the other party may be repelled and walk away even if that would be against his benefit (revise "PITA customers" post in the marketing section, you are the PITA in this case)

So how we resolve that? By putting a guy in-between you and the other party … these in-between guys are called "BUFFERS" and they are usually

-         Experienced in the negotiation field
-         Earn their life form this experience
-         Very experienced and educated and have a lot info about the filed they are experienced in
-         Examples: agents, lawyers, consultants

A buffer is the person that takes the negotiation so that you would not be in the front line
Their jobs mainly are to:

1-    Be better negotiator than you so that they can get you a better deal
2-    Handle the technical parts and provide you with info about complicated aspects of businesses
3-    Slow down the negotiation so that you take your time to decide what is the best for you without any emotional irrational moves
4-    Take the shit and be "pain in the ass" instead of you, people can get mad at him but not you :)
5-    Be a barrier between you and your managers and people more experienced than you so that their position wouldn't have effect on the negotiation
So, here is the buffer, why you may want to use one, and the benefits of using him

Just be extra aware if you hire someone that you don’t know or trust that much (I don’t even recommend that) because

-         Due to money issues, he may have different goals …. For example, you hire an agent to buy you a house and he is commissioned according to the size of the house…. Imagine that what would he recommend you to buy? (Of course on the long run that wouldn’t be smart from him, if you smelled that he tricked you, would you deal with him again, or recommend him to anyone?)
-         So be aware of the incentive structure he is paid according to (what he is being compensated for)
-         One of the ways that would be useful to avoid this is that to give him a flat fee for a deal closure whatever the terms are 

1-3-9 sales: Dimension of negotiation

When you come to the actual conversation of negotiation, you are supposed to be finished with 2/3 of the negotiation at this point

Sales negotiation consists of three parts/steps:

1-    The deal setup
-         The factors to the deal
-         Who are you negotiating with
-         What is his background
-         How much is he willing to pay
-         What is it that he wants
-         what do you have that interests him
-         this part is about collecting as much info as you can to structure your conversation and environment well

2-    The deal structure
-         What is you plan to approach him
-         What is your best offer, you best next alternative
-         What is his best deal, his best next alternative
-         What to propose
-         What is more/less important to him, you
-         When to walk away from that
-         How much time do you both have
-         The environmental factors and conditions
-         This part is all about setting the place, time, and strategy of the negotiation

3-    The discussion part
-         The usual part that everyone know about
-         That is where you set with the other party, go back and forth in the conversation
-         Till you both can get to a common ground

Notice that if you are well prepared, studied the first 2 dimensions very good; by the time you reach the 3rd step it is just a matter of time till you close the deal in the best win/win situation ever :) 

1-3-8 sales: What do you have to offer?

It is just stupid to be narrow minded and think only of a business as an exchange of money and goods. 

There are 3 main things people exchange with each other…. It is not just money

1-    Resources: goods, money, tangible stuff
2-    Effort: training, experience, time, work, productivity, after sales service … etc.
3-    Flexibility: being available for extra time, not work for competitors, publishing rights, returnable tickets, extra options …. Etc.

People trade all forms of theses "Universal Currencies" all the time, in the same type, between different types, in the same category of between different categories… using only one thing, or a combination between different things

If you think about all the probabilities I mentioned, you will come up with infinite options and dimensions you can negotiate :)  and consider during your sales call

-         And people don't only care about the tangible goods, the other stuff is sooo important to them if you present their values well to them 

So, make many options and be prepared for shifting from one option or offer to another depending on what your customer wants 

1-3-7 sales: Compete against one only

So you are a noobi in the gym, are you going to compete with the best buffed guys over there? Of course your vision is to level with them and even be better. But thinking of competition like this is very demanding. You just take it step by step and set your next goal to level with your next better guy then the next …… till you are the best

Same here is sales, when negotiating with the customers you are really competing with their next best option.
To explain this; when you are making the sales call, customers will do three things:

1-    They will buy from you
2-    They will turn out to be not interested and won't buy
3-    They are still engaged but don’t like your offer
I am talking about the 3rd probability … make sure that your offer is better than the next best alternative or most of your customers will leave you for it

And remember that in negotiations, the ultimate power is the ability of the customers to walk away from you without anything to regret

-         Study and understand the best next alternative to offer something better than it (in any form, and a cheat: think about more info and education)

-         It would be perfect if you offer also the best next alternative in form of another offer package, a discount, an accessory, a free training, a modified product … etc. 

1-3-6 sales: More about info-type selling

We have talked about the benefits of being info-type salesman

A quote "Anyone can build a better camera. So don't invest in building a better one, invest in building better photographers and people will buy more cameras from you"

This is about how to make your prospect customers smarter and better

-         People are paying you money, so they expect the most valuable thing in exchange for their money
-         People value information way more than you think, especially regarding what they don't know about
-         People want to know about what they are paying for, want to know the difference between this and that, why choosing you not the competitor, why this offer not the other one, why this product is more expensive than the others …… etc.

-         Educating people about what they want to know won't take you much time or effort but that would be a great add-value to the customers and that will add to the value form they are paying for. And that will raise the chance of closing the deal to the sky 
-         Consider it a normal conversation before getting to the question/decision of buying, that will make the customers feel that they are making the decision not you (again: to buy not to be sold to) 
-         Selling will just be a justification of why "you" would choose this over that

-         Always give education, seminars, infographics, brochures, trainings to make your customers better ones
-         Also you will notice that these kind of conversations will help you earn A LOT about your customers and knowing what they want exactly

The best compliment you will get from that is when people totally depend on you in what you are experienced; they will refer people to you in return :) 

27 November, 2013

1-3-5 sales: Value based pricing

No matter what method you are going to use to set the price, the 4th choice [Value comparison method] has to be considered as a factor [at least] in the pricing strategy
This post is about how to do this. Value based selling is
Process of understanding the value that you are providing to the other party & framing your offer to appear as valuable as possible

-         The more valuable the other party perceives your offer, the more you can change
-         They have to get the feeling that what you are asking for is far more less than the value you are offering
-         Value-based pricing is all about "OH my GOD, this guy know exactly what I want. No one understands what I want like this one :)"

Long story short ….you need to be more of an info-type salesman more than a personality-type

And of course go for the slow-relationship technique. Listen to your customers, know what they want and present your offer in a way that you can prove that you are listening to them (not just at the marketing and selling time, but from the moment you start planning your business)

1-3 sales: Tip, Selling techniques

Two main types I am going to talk about:

1-    The fast, swift, aggressive selling technique
-         Doesn't work well anymore
-         They tend to do more harm than use
-         Salesmen try to market and close the deal in one session
-         For businesses where you meet people once and you will never see them again
-         Trust level gained = 0% Customers feel that you don't listen to them. And you've never tried to
-         All salesmen do here is talk talk talk.
-         Customers feel being sold to
-         Salesmen mainly sell personality here

2-    The slow relationship technique
-         Way better technique
-         Mainly focus on building trust with the customers
-         Salesmen first focus is not closing the deal, but building good slow trustful sincere relation with their customers
-         Takes time, but pays sooooo good on the long run
-         All salesmen do here is just listening to their customers, know what they want.
-         And then they have many options and protocols and try to target them with a conversation that the offer is just what they have been looking for all their lives
-         Customer feel that they take the decision on their own
-         Salesmen mainly sell information here
  I think it is pretty damn obvious which one to go for. People just don’t like being sold to, and the feeling that they are being scammed. And it is just to hard to make a transaction without building enough trust between you/your product and the customers

Choosing the swift aggressive type will make you face

-         Last moment opinion changes
-         Second guesses before and after the deal
-         More complaints and doubtful questions after the purchase 

1-3 sales: Tip, Salesmen types

There are two types of salesmen:

1-    Salesmen who sell personality:
-         They depend on being soo friendly and open.
-         They just make people soooo comfortable around them   

2-    Sales men who sell information:  
-         They are just information mines
-         They make customers feel that they know exactly they want
-         They make the customers feel that they are making decisions on their own

It is a great thing to be both of them. But you have to just be adequate on the personality side

Being super at the info side make people just trust you to an incredible point …. And over the time they will make you their trustful source of information, they just won't be able to ignore your opinion in what you know 

1-3-4 sales: Methods of pricing

-         They are 4 main ways
-         Many businesses use a combination of 2 or more methods in determining the price for their offerings
-         Many businesses also present more than one offer using different forms of pricing
-         This is not exact science. Feel free to modify, adjust or come up with a combination or something new :)

1-    Replacement cost:
-         how much would I pay to build the same thing again + some cash for my time and effort

2-    Market pricing: [the most common one]
-         You compare with the prices of similar value forms + make some adjustments

3-    DCF (the Discounted Cash Flow): [not very common, used mainly to evaluate entire businesses]
-         You calculate how much you could get if you rent the business over a certain period of time – the expenses. Then you make a certain discount to represent the present value of these futuristic amounts of money

4-    Value comparison method: [my favorite, not so popular one]
-         Search for particular characteristics that are more valuable to some people than anything else, and you charge higher price for that
-         In this particular method of pricing time, cost and effort don’t count. You charge much higher than this. The only thing that matters is the value of this product to the buyer

For example; think of a program that someone made in the basement and it took him a week to do that, and then the company who want to buy it will make 10 million dollars thanks to this software. That programmer can ask for a million dollar though it didn't take him nothing to do it   

Another examples: celebrities clothes and houses and shit, they cost people incredible amounts of money to own. The actual value here is how valuable they are to the buyers

So, one of the best strategies is to find the add-value that make you stand out and how that would be a great value to the customers

Put any price you want for your value form using any method. The important thing is to be able to explain why and how you figure out that price 

1-3-3 sales: How much

The problem of every entrepreneur's life: What is the right price to put for my "value form"?
You feel like there is one right choice and one only, and you no idea what is the right "number" to choose

-         So let me tell you something: there is no absolute right answer to that, not even a right range of prices to fall in
-         All prices are ultimately arbitrary. Of course there are some factors you should consider when you are deciding the price, but there is no authority to decide or limit your will. You may offer a rock for 5 billion dollars, and you can set .25 cent as a price for your latest IPad
-         This post is only to tell you that prices can be set to anything at any moment without limitations
The best example of this is auctions
The problem doesn't arise from setting high or low price for your offering … but the problem arises from setting too high price that people won't pay or too low that it will be worthless
-         Your offer must be of worth to what you are offering to be able to get a deal 
-         You must always support the price: to be able to give reasons why that price equals the value that you provide
As a general rule:
The price should be the highest that most people are willing to pay

(In a perfect world, I would gather all my prospect customers and make an auction to know that piece of info) 

26 November, 2013

1-3-2 sales: Gain trust before anything

We have talked about one difference between marketing and sales; Marketing is getting attention sales is getting paid

You can put that in other words:
Marketing is getting attention, sales is getting trust
-         No one will pay anyone any money if they don’t trust them first
-         Sales men who always try to push things too fast to seal the deal never make good sales. They just look like scammers  and people just become afraid of them
-         You need to establish trust between you and your customers for the transaction to take place
-         People have to verify the one they will give their money to, and they have to trust that you can deliver them the value you are promising them
So, the best strategy in sales is to go for establishing trust first, and then the actual transaction will be a piece of cake. It may take time so don't worry

Establishing trust may be in nontangible form like a relationship, or we may use something tangible to force that trust. Examples:

-         Credit checks
-         Background checks
-         CVs
-         Deposits
-         Customer reviews
-         Reputation

At last, remember to gain your customers' trust first before you try to get the deal done 

1-3-1 sales: Transaction

It means: "The exchange of VALUES between two parties"
-         Transactions are one of the Critically Important Assumptions to call something "A business". If there is no transaction, it is a project or a start-up but not a business
-         Startup projects usually build something with no profit at the start hoping that it will get enough attention to turn it into a business
-         Pay attention to the word "VALUES" in the definition; you can only trade things that are economically viable

And the other good thing about making transactions (apart from getting paid of course :)  )  is that you get to have reliable feedbacks quickly to start or speed up your iteration cycles

1-3 sales

Now to the 3rd business core process: Sales

-         The only process where money actually flow into the business. And because the goal of the business is to create enough money to be pumped back into it to keep going on; this section is very very important

Sales is the art of converting prospect customers into paying customers

-         It starts with prospect, ends with payment

-         Also, making transactions, negotiating and increasing trust are essential parts of this section

25 November, 2013

1-2-18 marketing: The overrated "Branding" thing

Think of any idea that fall under the term "branding" and you will find that you actually talk about "reputation"

People tend to love big words. But the bad side effect of that is that you may think that "branding" is a rocket science while it is much more simple if you think of "building your reputation" than "building your brand" :)

-         So, building reputation = building brand
-         The most awesome thing about building your reputation is that you can get more premium prices for what you are offering
-         People love brands "good reputation" because they love to trust who they are giving their money to
-         Good reputation will get you more people, thus more money


Reputation is merely the sum of how people think of you

-         You can just influence it, try to make a good impression of high quality and to stand out in what you are offering
-         But remember that the final judgment is for the people to make. People are the ones who form the reputation not you
DO NOT be fooled by big words. Just be good and outstanding in what you do and reputation will come with time

Some notes here:

-         It takes time to make a big large improvement that will influence your "brand", so be patient about it
-         Surveys and feedbacks will help you A LOT to understand what your customer want to have better impression about you, thus better reputation

-         Always consider the thin line between "satisfying people and serving high quality service" and "being too plank and trying to get everyone in your side [the opposite of controversy])

1-2-17 marketing: Let the fight begin

An Irish proverb:
"If you want audience; start a fight!"
A famous proverb:
"Try to satisfy everyone, and you will end up satisfying no one"
-         Your business must have a soul, a character of its own.
-         No business is out there for everyone. A business must have a sort of "sharp edges". If  not, it will be very very boring
Remember the post "Remarkability"?  Being remarkable means being "controversial". Some people at some point have to hate you because the worst thing in business in to get everyone thinking "meh :I "about your business.

You better get some fans and some haters

-         When your business is remarkable and controversial, people start talking about you. Even if some of them talk bad about you , you still get attention
And a thing to know, getting attention is more than enough. When prospect customers read bad reviews about you, they get interested and go to confirm that. Some of them will turn to be your customers

So attention is all what you seek

Controversy is a good thing as long as you make it about the benefit (main value) you are offering, not for the sake of "controversy" itself.

And take care not to cross the line to the "too controversial" area. It is an easy thing to antagonize everyone in this area :)

1-2-16 marketing: Time for bed stories

A study: people since existence are so haunted by stories. We have evidence that people had tell stories since they know how to transfer experiences through generations

And the most common pattern of stories is:

-         Find a hero, that lives a normal ordinary live
-         Receive a call-to-adventure
-         Accept the call
-         Slay the dragon
-         Receive a mighty gift
-         Go back to normal life as a known hero with that mighty gift
What is that has to do with marketing? We find a way to engage that into marketing ….. telling the customers a hero story

Well, not a typical classic Greek myth. But a story about them that follow the same pattern

You just immerse them in the story, shoot them with sensory info and emotional shit that would cancel the logical parts of their brains and help them visualize the experience they will have if they buy our offer. Their human core desires will just be on fire and they will just crave to live the myth

-         People want to be heroes all the time. They want to be admired, respected and to be notorious
-         The most common form of this narrative action marketers use is "TESTIMONIALS"; which are really hero stories about previous customers who have already taken the path before. So everyone get a clear safe instructions of the journey to be that hero

So invent your story in any form you want. Make your customers heroes and yourself the sword with which they kill the dragon and get the princess 

1-2-15 marketing: Call-to-action

Many people are just great at getting customers' attention, and then they just don't go to the next step
Because getting attention won't get you any money. You have to know that:

People are sooo naive and when you take the lead in that marketing conversation, they expect you to tell them what to do next. Don't just be like "Now you know that my offer is great, and that is your decision to buy or not. I am not saying anything to you"

That is just wrong. You should literally "prompt" them to do a thing, take an action. And then they have the choice to say yes or no

That term is called "call-to-action"

You have to tell people exactly what to do next after you get their attention

The more you give them more space to think, the more effort they have to do, and the more Nos you will get as a respond for your offer

So, after getting their attention you have to
Give them a simple, short, very distinctive, clear, specific, obvious prompt to do something
Always have a call-to-action. And the best 2 would be:
1-    Asking for direct sales
2-    Ask for permission
Example of call-to-actions:
-         Give suggestion
-         Offer
-         Action to do
-         Please buy
-         Call specific number
-         Give contact info
-         Take a free sample
Very important note; remember not to cross the line between "making the customer welcoming to your prompt" and "making him feel that he is being sold to, or giving something against his will"

I used "prompt" instead of "order" to make the customer feel that the action is taken by him, not anyone else