Eric Jacobson

Archive for the ‘Sales Management’ Category

Author Jantsch Flips The Usual Sales Approach On Its Head

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, Sales, Sales Management on October 18, 2014 at 5:24 am

Sketch confused businessman concept, lot of crazy lines

Author John Jantsch flips the usual sales approach on its head in his  book, Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar.

Today’s sales superstars must attract, teach, convert, serve, and measure while developing a personal brand that stands for trust and expertise.

According to Jantsch:

  • Listening is the new prospecting.
  • Educating is the new presenting.
  • Insight is the new information sharing.
  • Story building is the new nurturing.
  • Value is the new closing.

Jantsch shared with me these additional insights about his book and selling:

What will it take for a salesperson who has been selling the “old school” way for 15-plus years to master the new “Duct Tape Selling” style?

Jantsch:  Confidence that it’s worth the work – Duct Tape Selling takes commitment and hard work to pay off, but that’s what it takes to become a superstar salesperson.

What is the meaning of the book title, Duct Tape Selling?

Jantsch:  It borrows from the metaphor so often attached to all things Duct Tape – simple, effective and practical – that’s what salespeople have to be today to deliver value.

What college courses should a student take to prepare for this new way of selling?

Jantsch:  Anything they can get their hands on in the vein of entrepreneurship – I’m afraid many marketing degrees are still jam packed with old school, consumer packaged brands thinking.

What are some of the best ways for salespeople to network with other successful salespeople in their city?

Jantsch:  Don’t fall into the trap of attending events or joining groups with other salespeople – go where your customers hang out and find ways to be useful there.

Jantsch is also a big proponent of perceptive listening.  “Perceptive listening is when you hear and interpret the words as they’re said, but also consider what the person isn’t saying, what she might really be thinking, and how she is acting as she speaks,:” explains Jantsch.

12 Ways To Find New Customers

In Sales Management on April 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Eric Jacobson - Finding New Customers

Are you a leader in need of ideas for how to retain your customers and how to find new ones?

Here are 12 ideas for you:

  1. Offer payment plans.
  2. Conduct customer satisfaction surveys.
  3. Develop a system to track your customers.
  4. Ask all customers how they heard of your business.
  5. Identify a market you may have overlooked.
  6. Return all telephone calls.
  7. Ask your customers to come back again.
  8. Offer incentives.
  9. Learn customer names.
  10. Keep track of customer comments.
  11. Make follow-up calls to customers.
  12. Provide regular customers with discounts.

Thanks Bank of America and SCORE Association for these ideas from your Small Business Basics handbook.

5 Open-Ended Questions To Ask Your Customers

In Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Feedback, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Management, Sales Management on April 9, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Effective Listening

Eager to ask your customers questions they aren’t used to hearing?  Consider this advice from author Paul R. Timm. He recommends a different twist on asking your customers questions:

  • stop asking your customers the “typical” questions and instead ask them open-ended questions.

Here’s specifically what Timm recommends:

Don’t Ask:

  • How was everything?
  • Can I get you something else?
  • Did you find everything you need?
  • Will that be all?
  • Was everything satisfactory?

Instead Ask:

  • What else can I do for you?
  • What else can I get for you?
  • What else can I help you with?
  • What else could we do to better serve you?
  • How else can we be of help?

These open-ended questions will let your customers really express their ideas, opinions and needs. Timm is the author of, 50 Powerful Ideas You Can Use To Keep Your Customers.

Top 20 Leadership Books: What To Give First To A New Manager

In Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, General Leadership Skills, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Quotes, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Listening Skills, Management, Mentoring, Motivating Employees, Sales Management, Setting Goals, Strategic Planning, Team Building on December 10, 2011 at 6:53 am

Eighteen months ago, I posted the question “What’s The First Leadership Book You Would Give To a New Manager?” within the discussion forum for the LinkedIn group Linked 2 Leadership.

That question generated 603 comments and 690 recommendations.  Some people suggested more than one book.  Some during the course of the 18 months made the same book recommendations a couple times.  And, the group discussion continues to be one of the most active still today.

In early November 2011, group member Len White graciously culled through the comments using his company’s Symphony Content Analysis Software that assists with the organization, analysis, and reporting of themes contained in text data.

And here are the results:

·    412 different/unique books were recommended

·    The Top 20 recommended books, collectively, received 250 of the total recommendations

·    Two authors – Stephen R. Covey and John C. Maxwell each have two books in the Top 20

·    Group members recommended other things instead of giving a book about leadership to a new manager, such as:

o   Interviewing everyone in the company with whom they will directly work 

o   Giving a book about management first

o   Mentoring the person for a period of time before recommending a leadership book

And, unlike a question about “What is Your Favorite Leadership Book,” the question this time asked what is the first book you would give to a new manager.

The Top 20 Books are:

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
  2. Leadership and Self-Deception– Arbinger Institute
  3. The One Minute Manager– Kenneth H. Blanchard
  4. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership– John C. Maxwell
  5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team– Patrick Lencioni
  6. First Break All the Rules– Marcus Buckingham
  7. The Leadership Challenge– Jim Kouzes
  8. The First 90 Days– Michael Watkins
  9. How to Win Friends and Influence People– Dale Carnegie
  10. Good to Great– Jim Collins
  11. It’s Your Ship– Michael Abrashoff
  12. The Speed of Trust– Stephen R. Covey
  13. Developing the Leader Within You– John C. Maxwell
  14. Who Moved My Cheese– Spencer Johnson
  15. Don’t Bring it to Work– Sylvia Lafair
  16. Leaders Without Borders– Doug Dickerson
  17. Leadership and the One Minute Manager– Kenneth H. Blanchard
  18. On Becoming a Leader– Warren Bennis
  19. The Anatomy of Peace– Arbinger Institute
  20. The Art of Possibility– Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander

Within the Top 35 list of the book recommendations, you’ll find four more John C. Maxwell books, including:

·        The 360 Degree Leader

·        Developing the Leaders Around  You

·        Failing Forward

·        Leadership 101

The authors and leadership book publishers most discussed within the group forum have been:

·        Dale Carnegie

·        Jim Collins

·        Jim Kouzes

·        John C. Maxwell

·        Kenneth H. Blanchard

·        Marcus Buckingham

·        Michael Watkins

·        Patrick Lencioni

·        Stephen R. Covey

·        Arbinger Institute

Group discussion participants are clearly inspired by a wide variety of books – biographies, autobiographies, books backed by research and academia, books made famous by the popular press, books by motivation speakers, and books by professionals eager to share their personal and professional leadership success stories, tips and suggestions.

Finally, the book I recommended, The Leadership Test, by Timothy R. Clark made it within the Top 35.

Thanks to all the group members who made recommendations and to Tom Schulte, Executive Director of Linked 2 Leadership, and the owner and moderator for the LinkedIn group, Linked 2 Leadership, which has 19,678 members.

Note:  Symphony Content Analysis Software is designed and published by Active Java.

9 Tips For Delivering Excellent Customer Service This Holiday Season

In Company Culture, Customer Service, Effective Communications, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leading By Example, Management, Sales Management on November 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Leading a customer service team?  Have the team members use these 9 tips for delivering excellent customer service this holiday shopping season:

  1. Rely on winning words and soothing phrases.  A simple but sincere “Thanks for your patience” or “I’m listening” can go a long way toward defusing a holiday shopper’s frustration, anxiety, or panic. Develop a repertoire of short, easy to remember phrases around issues that are important to customers. Practice until the words come naturally.
  2. Communicate with silence. Remaining silent while your customers are talking is a basic courtesy, and nodding tells them you’re listening and understanding what you hear. An occasional “uh huh” or “I see” tells them you’re still listening without interrupting.
  3. Make customers feel seen. Making eye contact acknowledges that you see your customers as individuals. But there’s a balance to be struck here: staring can make your customers uncomfortable, too. Also keep in mind that eye contact is governed by specific cultural rules. A good rule to follow is to give as much as you get.
  4. Never underestimate the value of a sincere thank you. Thanking customers when they offer comments or suggestions says that you value their opinion. Thanking customers for complaining says that you value their loyalty. Customers who tell you they are unhappy are giving you a second chance. And that’s quite a gift.
  5. Use the well-placed “I’m Sorry.” Don’t assume that you’re not allowed to say “I’m sorry” when a snafu occurs. Actually, a sincere apology delivered in a timely and professional manner often heads off potential further problems. When you show your willingness to make sure your customers receive what they expect to receive, you relieve them of the need to even think about starting an argument.
  6. Never deny a customer’s problem. Problems are an undeniable part of the hectic, stressful holiday shopping season. And problems exist when the customer says they do. You can’t wish a problem away because it is something no reasonable person would be upset about, because it’s not your fault, or even because the customer made a mistake.
  7. Fix the person first. Real problem solving cannot happen until the issues are out on the table. And that requires getting past a customer’s emotional reaction. Breaking through the icy calm defenses of an upset customer is just as important as coaxing a “raging red” customer out of a temper tantrum.
  8. Listen and then probe for information. Customers, particularly upset customers, don’t always explain everything clearly or completely. Ask questions about anything you may not understand or need clarified. Then, when you feel you have identified and clearly grasped the problem, repeat it back to the customer for confirmation.
  9. Ask the customer for problem-solving help. Involving customers in generating solutions not only starts to rebuild the relationship, it gives them the feeling that your business really is interested in satisfying their needs. You’ll find that most customers bring a sense of fair play with them and will often expect far less than you’d think.

These tips are adapted from the book, Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service, Fifth Edition by Performance Research Associates, Inc., Edited by Ann Thomas and Jill Applegate.

9 Times When You Should Thank Customers

In Customer Service, Effective Communications, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Marketing, Sales Management on November 12, 2011 at 10:17 am

In your leadership role, it’s vital that your team members know how to deliver excellent customer service.  “Knock Your Socks Off” type service as book editor Ann Thomas and Jill Applegate would say.

Part of delivering excellent customer service is saying Thank You to your customers and knowing when to say Thank You.

Thomas and Applegate recommend telling your customers Thank You during at least these nine situations:

  1. When they do business with you…every time.
  2. When they compliment you (or your company)
  3. When they offer you comments or suggestions
  4. When they try one of your new products or services
  5. When they recommend you to a friend
  6. When they are patient…and even when they are not so patient
  7. When they help you to serve them better
  8. When they complain to you
  9. When they make you smile

You and your team members can say thank you:

  • Verbally
  • In writing (and don’t underestimate the power of personal notes via snail mail)
  • With a small, tasteful, appropriate gift

How To Increase Customer Loyalty: Act Quickly

In Company Culture, Customer Service, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leading By Example, Management, Sales Management on April 2, 2011 at 9:12 am

A customer who complains and receives a fast response will actually be more loyal to your company in terms of future sales and referrals than a customer who never complained at all.  That is what author Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy proclaim, and I agree with them.

They also say in their book, Now…Build A Great Business!, that:

  • a slow response to a customer complaint triggers fear and anger.

And, when that happens, the customer is afraid that he/she is going to be stuck with a product/service that doesn’t work and feels angry that he/she went ahead with the purchase in the first place.

So, lead your team to:

  • Respond quickly to customer complaints
  • Refuse to defend or make excuses
  • Offer to make the customer happy immediately
  • Be open and honest
  • Tell the truth and tell it as soon as you know it

Bottom-line…assume that anything you do or say will become public knowledge quickly. So, resolve to build and maintain trust in everything you do.

Are You Connecting With Your Customers?

In Blogging, Company Culture, Customer Service, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Management, Marketing, Sales Management on February 24, 2011 at 4:08 am

Here are some key questions to ask yourself about how to connect with your customers in today’s digital age:

  • Are we making it easy for customers to find us in their digital lives?
  • Do we offer services and content to customers on their schedule, not ours?
  • Do our Web services run well on any browser, smartphone, or digital interface?
  • Can our customers use their phones and mobile devices to find us, learn about us and pay us?
  • Are we responding to customers online in a timely manner?
  • Are we giving our biggest supporters the opportunity to connect with us and champion our business online?
  • Has the conversation among our customers become a vital part of our business?

Depending on how you answer these questions, you may need to also ask yourself these questions as well:

  • What assumptions about our business do we need to reconsider?
  • How does our culture need to change?
  • What new skills and capacities do we need to foster?
According to author David L. Rogers, “to thrive in our digital age, businesses need to reimagine our customers: not as a mass of isolated individual actors but as networks–with each customer as a node linking and dynamically interacting with each other and with us.”
In Roger’s latest book, The Network Is Your Customer, he offers delves deeply into five strategies for how to thrive in a digital age:
  • Access
  • Engage
  • Customize
  • Connect
  • Collaborate

Today’s customers, explains Rogers, seek to:

  • Freely access digital data, content and interaction as quickly, easily and flexibly as possible.
  • Engage with digital content that is sensory, interactive, and relevant to their needs.
  • Customize their experiences by choosing and modifying a wide assortment of information, products and services.
  • Connect with one another by sharing their ideas and opinions in text, videos, and social links.
  • Collaborate on collective projects and goals through open platforms.

Because of these new customer behaviors, Rogers suggests businesses may need to form new units within their companies to have dedicated teams for:

  • Interacting with customers using Facebook, Twitter or discussion forums.
  • Capturing, assessing and directing ideas from customers in order to feed them into product innovation and business process improvement.
  • Generating regular content for customer networks that is neither traditional advertising nor traditional public relations.

Rogers’ book is ideal for all businesses and nonprofits and includes more than 100 case studies that I found interesting and thought-provoking in the advance copy he sent me.

Avoid These 10 Common Sales Manager Mistakes

In General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Management, Sales Management, Setting Goals on February 21, 2011 at 4:22 am

You’ll find this list of the ten most common mistakes made by sales managers toward the very end of Kevin Davis’ latest book about how to sync your sales approach with your customer’s buying process:

  1. Failing to shift from “super salesperson” mode to managerial mindset.
  2. Fighting fires continually.
  3. Leaving your staff to sink or swim on their own.
  4. Ignoring the importance of performance standards/getting blind-sided by poor performance.
  5. Failing to leverage the strengths and resources of your team’s top producers.
  6. Spending too much time working with the bottom 20 percent.
  7. Allowing senior salespeople to get stuck in an unmotivated rut.
  8. Being inconsistent in your recruiting and hiring process.
  9. Assuming your sales reps will figure things out the same way you did.
  10. Hanging on to low-producing salespeople for far too long.

The chapter on coaching for sales success is well worth the price of the book by itself, but fortunately, the rest of the 250-pages provide helpful lessons on how to perfectly match your sales process with the customer’s buying process. 

Davis explains in Sell Down, Sell Faster! that:

  • Customers usually award the prize to the salesperson who has been there through every step of their buying process, meeting customer need after customer need by presenting the right information at the right time.

I also found particularly useful the book’s topics on:

  • Selling to multiple decision makers
  • Making a complex sale
  • Getting more first appointments
  • Uncovering needs to establish the value of your solutions
  • Resolving a buyer’s fears
  • Negotiating win-win agreements
  • Cultivating customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Becoming a strong competitor

Thanks to the author for providing me an advance copy of the book.

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