Sunday, May 15, 2011

9 steps to Sales & Proposal Success

Should I really read this? I’m a marketing professional !

Well, I can mind-read. This is exactly what you’re thinking right now. Sales skills are something which transcends a boundary of a job or a profession. It’s a life skill if when practiced well would make you lead a successful life! Sales skills plays a role right from a context where a super mom hard-bargains at a flea market, to a board meeting where a CEO presents a proposal with the directors. For people in any career- especially for the ones in top management positions, sales skills become indispensable because you will have to sell your ideas and proposals to your clients, supervisors or even to your subordinates. Last but not the least, for my dear marketing disciples, of course, you have to get your product sold in the market, or your marketing plan ends up on paper without realizing any results.

Let’s take door-to-door sales for this article. This is chosen because door-to-door sales is the roughest, toughest and obviously a source of great learning, and relatively more effective than other channels if done in the right way. These are the basic principles of sales, which can be tweaked according to your context.

1.        Take deliberate long breaths
 The first step before starting out on your “sales encounter” (a tele-marketing call or door-to-door sales or doing a proposal presentation to your stakeholders) is an extension of a normal human activity of breathing. Relax yourself and reduce your anxiety with slow and deliberate breaths. Conscious and deliberate breaths with slightly longer exhales have proven to be relieving oneself from anxiety and bringing in more energy.
2.       Anticipate & Get ready
Before you kick in, anticipate all the different things that could happen in near future- during and after your sales encounter. Create a mind map of all the possibilities of conversations. Some of the possibilities could be a 'good client- bad client', or a 'welcoming client - hostile client', or  a 'gullible one- an untrusting one', or a 'kind one- a yeller', or a 'sale- no sale'. There can only be a definite set of possibilities, and all of them can be anticipated and categorized. Charting out these anticipated possibilities on paper would also be effective in case of negotiation activities. Now the next step is to come up with a response or a way of dealing for each of these possibilities. This step acts as an armor that makes you infallible in the encounter! 
3.       Wear a Winning Attitude
Now that you’ve anticipated all that could happen in near future, you're armed with an ESP and you can completely avoid any surprises in the sales encounter! You’re loaded with various tools for tackling any possibility. All that you have to do now is to put up a great attitude. The first two steps automatically bring you a newly-found positive attitude, and what’s more, you can reinforce it by consciously uttering aloud this simple chant- “I WILL Win!” You have to put this simple step to practice to see it for yourself, as to how much energy it makes ooze out from you!
4.      Greet confidently
This is the step where your body language is the key. The way you are dressed, the way you carry yourself and a firm handshake with good eye contact is crucial here. This is first impression that you give of yourself to the client, so make it the best impression. If you had troubles with greetings, there is nothing wrong in having it rehearsed in advance! (People who give the best toasts are not impromptu speakers, but are great at practicing! )
5.       Do a Small talk
Just after a greeting, jumping straight to your sales pitch would take things straight to the grave. Never make this grim mistake, and give an easy chance to have you go out and lose the sale. This is the step where having a wide array of knowledge is of great help. Being on top of current affairs is a must. Sometimes knowing about the mysterious 'crop-circles' or knowing how 'Curling' is played or knowing about 'Indian mythology' helps! But it depends on the situation and the context. With the scope of businesses becoming more and more global, knowing basic phrases from various languages would definitely be helpful. Once you enter a client’s premises, start scanning the environment for small talk topics. Or you may scan for connection points once you start talking with your client. Once you figure out a common interest between both of you, reinforce the connection by talking about it. This way, the likeliness of getting an objection in the next step is reduced to a bare minimum.
6.      Explain your Product/ Proposal
This is the step when you essentially get down to business. Explain your product or your proposal clearly with utmost confidence, and always have focus on what value can your product/proposition add to the client. Researching the opponent’s passion points and pain points in advance, will be a great asset here.
7.       Have Control over the conversation
 It is typical for your opponent to throw an objection at this point. Depending on how well you faired in the previous steps, the response could be: “seems like a great proposal, but sorry, not at this time” or it could be a plain “not interested; thanks.”. Always agree when your client throws an objection (such as, he had a problem with the product earlier). First acknowledge the problem and say it in words that you agree. Then explain again and clarify if there is any misunderstanding or if there is any advancement in your product, and redirect to your point. Having control over the whole conversation is the key.
8.      Close
Most of the sales encounters end loose, just because of shyness to “ask” for the sale. You toiled hard with prior research about your client, and faired brilliant with the previous steps. Now why run before you could “harvest the fruit" ?! Always ask for the sale and get a verbal acknowledgement and an agreement in writing from the client. 
9.      Handshake
Oh well, we aren’t done yet! The last step is perhaps the most important of all! Though most of the deals get over in writings, business dealings are between human beings after all. Make sure that you seal the deal with a firm handshake! Moreover, 'transaction-based' Marketing or Sales business is something MarketingYOGI would never encourage, because it’s done with a short-term focus. Effective business calls for relationships rather than mere transactions. The first step to have your new client become a long-term partner with you is a firm handshake after closing. Well, I’ll talk about the following steps of maintaining customer relationship in another post! Marketing-ey-potri-potri!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

9 Mantras for Viral Marketing

Hello everyone! I thought I’d start this with an interesting two-sided story. In the first side of our story, there was a small town where everyone lived harmoniously with utmost happiness and health. One fine day, a virus known as “Rabies Virus” was introduced into the town, and that changed the very fate of the town. The virus set itself on a dog and made it go rabid. The dog bit three other dogs in the town, and died. In turn, these rabid dogs bit and killed a couple of other dogs and humans, and finally died. This went on, and on, and on, and that was the grim end of the whole town. What a sad story really!

                                    In the second side of our story, there was another town where a marketer created a promotional video and placed itself on social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The video was taken up by a couple of influential social media geeks, and they shared it to their friends, and in turn, their friends shared it to their own friends. The video spread on and on, creating huge brand awareness, and finally resulted in huge revenues for the marketer. What a success story really!
Well, hope you figured out at least 7 connections in this analogy.

Now, what contributes to the viral behavior?
 Pass-along-appeal of content
o   Content is king
o   Interesting enough to be forwarded (likeability)
     ►Medium of propagation
o   Sharer’s network’s size and activeness of their network
     ►Ease of sharing
o   Conspicuous and Easy CTA

With this, let’s Jump on to the 9 mantras of viral marketing:
1.        Keep it short.
2.       Entice and make them share.
Stir up emotion- make your audience laugh or cry, or resonate with them. But don’t be overly promotional

3.       Once the promotion is ready, start “seeding” it.
 Comment on relevant blogs, groups, video sites, Facebook pages,  email lists, with promo links. There is a great synergy among different social media sites- exploit it!
4.      Relevance is key.
Interesting and relevant is viral. But irrelevant content to an irrelevant audience is spam, even if the content is interesting.
5.       Make it easily accessible.
Use effective keywords, titles and relevant image captions to optimize search results.
6.      Use relevant celebrities in the promotions; they are effective message carriers.
7.       Make it re-mixable or customizable to encourage user-generated content. 
8.      Sometimes ‘heated comments’ are good! Keeps the ball rolling.
But here’s a word of caution: Look out for controversies and beware of black listing!
9.      Use a data-driven strategy 
Use Analytics to understand which are the sites that are driving the most ‘shares’, what demographics are sharing the most, average view time/ visit time, etc. Monitor, listen, measure and engage. Adapt accordingly. 

If you’re someone who loves illustrations and examples, refer to my slide-deck on viral marketing in the Slideshare Presentations section.

A final word- Be 'rabid'; Go 'viral'! Eeehahahaa..  If there is any more mantras you wanted to include, add them in the comments section! See you all with yet another interesting, informative and quick-sinking post soon! Marketing-ey-potri-potri!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Introducing, the BRAND-NEW MarketingYOGI!

Welcome to the brand new blog of the MarketingYOGI! We’re definitely proud to introduce MarketingYOGI to each one of you, readers! Well, to start with, who is this MarketingYOGI? Is he a Marketing geek? A Web 2.0 addict? A seasoned marketing professional? A strategist? A witty writer? Well, we could say he’s a blend of all. And wait, what does “YOGI” mean, by the way? It means: an ascetic sage who practices meditation and undivided contemplation with enlightenment as his ultimate goal. Our MarketingYOGI is also one such! He is an enlightened “digital soul” that lives on Web 2.0, and that is on a constant quest to preach, share and learn the sect called Marketing. With this intro, we’d let MarketingYOGI to converse with you one-on-one and take you all along the exciting journey in his marketing world!

MarketingYOGI: “Welcome, all Marketing PHD’s!! Yeah, YOU! Yeah, I was referring to YOU!" <chuckles> <starts again, with much more clarity in his tone> "There is marketing in most of the actions that we see and do in our regular life. Marketing is omnipresent! There is no man or woman on earth that doesn’t know Marketing. It’s just that marketers speak the language with jargons, and the rest do it plainly and unknowingly. This blog is bestowed upon all the marketing geniuses, aspirants, geeks, and any human who loves the ‘marketing elements’ in life. Follow me, I’ll uncover testaments, unleash secrets, teach you mantras, also learn from you and let you join my all-inclusive sect called marketing……..! OM-Marketing-ey-potri-potri!!*"

*Yeah, that’s the MarketingYOGI’s “brand chant”!