Blog Archive

Friday, June 23, 2017

B2B Is A Different Animal

B2B is a whole different world. These are business people. Of course, in retail selling, you deal with some of the same people, but the context is completely different. The business owner in a retail setting is just another consumer. The same business owner in his office, running his business is a different animal, indeed! He is in his own element, this time, and that is a double-edged sword. He is not at home, after a hard day at work when a salesperson knocks on the door; Rather, he is at work, where he understands the importance of selling. Selling is the only thing that makes everything else possible. That usually is good news. He knows you do the same thing his company does. You are kindred spirits. On the other hand, he may be sick of being in business that he recoils at everything about it - including you!

By the way, I just entered an arrangement with a firm in Connecticut, to represent them as an account executive in Northwest Arkansas. I am selling their text message marketing services. It is a great service and I expect it to do well. This is great. I haven't done B2B in a long time. This will give me more blog fodder, for sure.

What I am doing is mostly dealing with small business owners and managers and I'm calling on these businesses cold. The only thing I know I'm looking for is the person that can make marketing decisions. However, I usually don't just walk in and announce that that is whom I am looking for. I will give a receptionist or perhaps a salesperson that greets me a mini-pitch, of sorts. It makes them feel special because you obviously think they are important. They will go to bat for you every time as you climb their company ladder.

Whether I have the decision maker or not, I am not looking for a sales opportunity right then. I just want an appointment. I only need 10 minutes. "How about this afternoon or maybe tomorrow sometime?" That takes the heat off and it's kind of funny watching the relief come over them. They have escaped for the moment.

Now, this is IMPORTANT: Don't turn on your heels and leave, Let the small talk begin. Wether, sales, or whatever, just start a conversation. Then, start sneaking your pitch in, covertly. Most often, they will invite you into their office  in the middle of the small talk.

That small talk part is very important in all sales. When you reach a sticky spot in your negotiations, change the subject till thing cool off, then back to business. DO NOT USE THIS TACTIC WHEN YOU ARE CLOSING! When closing, the first person to speak, loses. That saying has been around a long time, but it is absolutely true.

Next time, we'll talk about a B2B presentation.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lead Nurturing

Lead Nurturing

I always find it kind of amazing how the obvious becomes "new thought". Lead Nurturing is my new favorite. If you are unfamiliar with it, it simply means staying aware of where your customers and prospects are in the buying cycle, and moving them along in the correct direction.. Then, you zero in on them with timely messages that turn up the heat. I assure you that near-eastern spice merchants, traveling ancient trade routes, new the same tricks. They just didn't have a smart phone, Facebook or Craigslist.

Your employer probably makes available to you a CRM. That's customer relations management software. Some are pretty good, some are not, but utilize it. They generally allow you to reference what product a prospect thinks they need and let's you schedule appropriate times to contact them.

But remember this: They are mostly there to watch what you are doing.

Ten or twelve years ago, you were lucky if you had an employer provided database program to work with. Heck, fifteen years ago one was lucky if one had access to a single, communal computer.We actually wrote things down. With a pen! On paper! Can you imagine?

Interestingly, it works just as well. With technology as it is, I am not suggesting a return to the stone age. I am suggesting that you actually write down your contacts information.You should also get their contact information someplace you can access it, electronically. Finally, I have yet to see a CRM that can adequately remind you of your need to contact a certain customer or prospect at a day and time prescribed by the SOFTWARE - with help from management. The problem there is a disconnect between people writing code and people doing the selling. That's why some of us are pros, and some not. Where it is on the computer or not, it is imperative that you look at your notes on every prospect very regularly. Software is great, but it gets a little tough on it to remember that this guy wants mocha leather but his wife prefers camel. He wants chrome wheels but the misses likes alloys. Believe it or not, we are actually better at that than a computer. You might want to write that down, somewhere.

One of my favorite people in the world, Kent Dobbs, whom owned a successful car dealership, said this about lead timing: "It is like a Ferris Wheel and you do not know when they (your prospects and previous customers) are going to get off of it. They don't either. You need to make sure you are top-of-mind when it's their turn to hop off the wheel - when they are re-entering the market!

You can reach me at, Facebook at jkconnell, and Twitter @jkconnell. I would love to hear from you. Also, visit our website,, with new ideas, techniques and technologies, all the time.

Copyright 2017 James Kevin Connell

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Selling Back-End Product

Selling Back-End Product

So-called "back-end" products are generally intangibles, like extended warranties, service and maintenance contracts, credit life policies, stain protection, and the like. The term "back-end," is typically used in the car business and it is used because these products are generally sold by the finance folks as add - ons to an already completed sale. The term will suffice for any industry, for our purposes.

The reason I am bringing this up is that most salespeople really do treat these products as an afterthought. It then follows that these last- second pseudo-presentations are received by and responded to by the customer in exactly the same fashion. Means "No." That, friends, is a classic case of shooting yourself in the foot.

The successful presentation and sale of these products can dramatically increase your income. Here's why: For one thing, there is a perception among salespeople and managers, alike, that these products are difficult to sell. That, friends, is rubbish. The truth of the matter is, it just takes some preparation and effort. Regardless, companies put a large premium on the sale of back-end products. They are very nearly pure profit. Your company wants that extra- healthy profit. To achieve that end, they pay big bucks to those that accomplish it. As an added bonus, you come away looking like a stud.

I used that word for a reason, and I have a story to illustrate. Almost thirteen years ago when I had first arrived in Northwest Arkansas, I was working selling furniture at a family owned furniture store. One day, very early on, the owner's wife stopped by. We had never met. She introduced herself to me and the announced: "I understand you're quite a stud." She was correct. And it wasn't just sales volume she was referring to. She made it clear that it was the impressive sale of profit laden back-end products that had her rapt attention. It's because I was making her house payment!

I wasn't a stud because I was magic or exceptionally talented. It was because I looked at my pay plan and sold, accordingly. I don't remember all of the particulars, but commission on these products was stair-stepped.  The higher the percentage of dollar volume related to back-end product in relation to your total sales volume, the higher your commission rate. The top rate was 35% - of the purchase price! If you want to see something disappear, offer to pay me 35% and tell it goodbye.

If you are not thinking like that, you are costing yourself, your family, and your company a bloody fortune. The ironic part is, if presented correctly, there is almost no extra effort involved.

Fear. As it so often is, fear is the reason that back-end products are not sold successfully. A less-than-confident salesperson is sweating the sale of their principal offering, the sofa or car or refrigerator. They are so relieved if they actually manage to close the sale, that they usually don't give a passing thought to meeting the rest of the customers needs. Think about what you just read, for a second. If you are perceptive at all, especially if you read my positions on relationship-based and integrity-based selling, that there are secondary and tertiary ways that you are killing yourself on this. We will discuss those extra, albeit less obvious, aspects of this later.

Here is what I want to impart, this time: How to sell back-end products. First of all, you had better get the back-end up front. Early and often, friends. Early and often. Yes, just like voting.

Perhaps you have previously read my position on when one should start to close. The answer is: At the greeting. If you start closing right after, "Nice to meet you, Bob," the real close is more of a non-close. The same holds true for your back-end stuff. "Hi, Mary. I bet you're here because you heard about the new maintenance program Nissan just announced." If you stay on your back-end offerings throughout the presentation of your principal product, the customer won't leave without buying it. They wouldn't dream of leaving that beautiful sofa unprotected. And they will be grateful to you for caring enough to tell them about it.

Some other time, we'll discuss methods for selling specific back-end product. What I want you take away this time is that for many, many reasons - not the least of which is money - making back-end product a priority will separate you from the pack. You will make a lot more money, you will have the respect and gratitude of your employer, and you will have a happy, loyal customer that now counts you as a friend.

Your feedback is always welcome! There is a place for comments at the bottom of the page. You are also welcome to send me an email at or even give me a call at 479-225-5892. Of course, I am all over Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Please join me there, as well.

by Kevin Connell

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Work Your Pay Plan

Work Your Pay Plan

How are you compensated? If you are in sales, let us hope for your sake that you are on straight commission. Otherwise, you are cheating yourself. Straight commission sales jobs pay the most by far - if you are good, of course.

That's not really what I want to talk about, though. I just wanted you to focus on your pay plan, for a moment. Most of you would have thought no further than your primary compensation: "I make 7%," or "I get 25% of the gross profit," right? Is that really the totality of your pay plan? And, I am talking about real money, not benefits. Your principal compensation is unlikely to be the whole story.

Most sales jobs offer a host of other ways to get paid. For example, many commission structures are stair-stepped,  meaning that as one achieves certain volume levels in a given month, their commission percentage goes up. The 7% guy or gal may be able to bump up incrementally to 8%, then 9%, and so on. A one or two percent difference, usually retroactive, is huge. Do the math using your numbers and see for yourself. This kind of pay structure often is used in retail furniture sales.
The way to work that kind of pay plan is fairly obvious, isn't it? Sell more, right? However, you can only work this pay plan best if you set goals. Know where your numbers have to be at certain points in the month and stay constantly aware of where you are. You have to want the top rate more than life itself, almost.

But, wait. That's only part of the story, isn't it? We will stay with the furniture store analogy, but these things hold true for virtually all sales jobs. So far, we have been talking about primary compensation. Another way to get paid is to really focus on building an impressive ticket by keeping secondary products, like accessories, part of the conversation throughout the presentation of your principal product. The customer wants a sofa? Keep bringing up rugs and lamps! It is easy and will significantly grow your income. See my post,  "Accessorize", for more on this.

Think that's it? Not quite, and if you forget about this last one you are giving yourself a gigantic pay cut! What about extended warranties and stain protection? For your industry, just change the products, accordingly. These so-called "back-end" products usually pay BIG bucks, and if you haven't committed to selling them on every order, you are killing yourself. Again, learn these products and incorporate them in your primary presentation from start to finish. They will sell themselves if you do!

That, friends, is working your pay plan. By the way, your customers will be much happier, too, since their sales professional cared enough about them to make sure they were well - accessorized and well-protected!

I would love to hear from you! There is a place for comments on this page. My email address is;  my telephone number is 479-225-5892.

By Kevin Connell
Copyright 2017

Monday, August 26, 2013



Okay, you have your principal product line. We will assume that you know it very well. Most salespeople - and, of course, all selling professionals - do have a good grasp of their primary line. However, most salespeople, this time including most selling professionals, leave an awful lot of money on the table when making a sale. They are so focused on just making a sale - any sale - and are so relieved when they successfully close the deal, then that's it. The end. That is a HUGE mistake. It's pretty weak, too, by the way.

While you were selling the $4,000 sofa, how often did you reference the $700 lamp sitting next to it? Most furniture stores, at least mid-line and up, have designers on staff to assemble room groups on your showroom floor. The reason they do is to sell accessories. Accessories, in virtually every business, are simply loaded with gross. They make the difference between just a deal and, dare I say it, killing a fat cow!
You can replace that with "hitting a homerun," if you are squeamish about the cow thing. In retail furniture, the salesperson is typically paid a percentage of the total purchase price, in commission. Often, the percentage is stair-stepped upward, predicated on volume for the month. For example, the base commission may start at 4%, but as one's volume increases over the course of a given month, that percentage will rise to perhaps 7%. You may be asking yourself, "If I am paid on purchase price, why would I care about the gross profit?" You should always care about gross profit because of the great benefit to your employer. Always remember that they are basically keeping you alive! Obviously, too, the addition of a $700 lamp to the ticket, at 7%, pays you another $49.

What are the accessories in your business? In the car business, we're talking step-ups, brush guards, lift kits, over-size wheels, dvd entertainment systems, hood protectors, tow hitches, vent visors and plenty more. Sometimes these products will come from your own parts department; others will come from an outside vendor, like an audio shop, for example. Regardless, if handled correctly, they provide an opportunity to take what might be a very slim deal on a new car and load it up with profit. In the car business, this is a VERY big deal, because you are paid a percentage of the profit on a deal, not the purchase price. Some dealerships' parts departments even pay separate commissions on accessories that come through them. So, let's say you have made a deal on a relatively inexpensive new car. The car had very little profit even at sticker and you had to discount it a bit to close the deal. However, you had the foresight to start making an issue out of things like spoilers and splash guards early in your presentation. Now, the customer wants those things. Here is your opportunity to make some money. But, you must create that opportunity and then execute. It does not happen by itself.

To effectively sell accessories, you must plant the seed very early in the sales process and continue forwarding the idea throughout. You cannot wait until you have closed on the sofa or the pickup, and then go "Oh, by the way would you like a nice oriental rug or perhaps some nerf bars to go with that?" They will decline every time. Move that lamp, rug and ob-jet d'art next to the sofa, immediately. Walk over to the truck with the nerf bars and lift kit already on it and make an issue of it. By the time you close, the customer won't be able to imagine their new piece without the accessories!

So far, we have only touched on the obvious motivation for selling accessories. That would be more money in your pocket. However, there are actually two more subtle - and more important - reasons to make accessory sales part of your routine. First, the profitability of your employer should be of paramount importance to you. If it isn't, you need to do a little self-examination. They have given you a job. They are also counting on you. Doing it for them, is reason enough. Also, think about the benefits to your customer. Remember that sales, in most industries, is a relationship-based thing, not a one-time enterprise. If you do not have a grasp of that, you need to get one, pronto. You should read Integrity Selling: Honesty is the Best Policy, from this series. By making your customer aware of accessories that are appropriate for them and helping them acquire them, you will have increased their enjoyment of and satisfaction with their new purchase. You will have also helped them increase the value of their purchase. When they go to sell it or trade it, they will think of you fondly! You will have a new friend and a customer for the long haul and that is what it is all about.

To make this work, you have to be awfully good at the fundamentals. If you do not train - in both sales skills, theory and technique, and in product knowledge (principal line and accessory offerings) - it is difficult to do this well. You have to be confident enough so that you aren't just worried about selling anything. That's no way to live! Read books on professional selling, read blogs like this one (there are many very good offerings), and go to some sales training seminars. The more confidence you have in the basics, the easier it is to focus on things like accessory sales. It may seem like a secondary issue, but in the "big picture," it really isn't.

If you make accessory sales part of your normal selling process, you will make a lot more money. You will also have happier and more loyal customers. You will also look like a downright stud to your company! Those are all pretty compelling reasons, don't you think?

If you are serious about honing your selling skills to a fine edge, please join this site, won't you? You will never miss another Connell On Selling post, again! Join through Google+ by clicking "Join This Site," in the right margin. It is free and I would love to have you.

Also, please give me your feedback. There is a place for you to comment at the bottom of the page. I would love to hear from you.

You are welcome to contact me directly at
Please Like and Follow at these social media sites, too: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn. My phone number is 479-225-5892.
by Kevin Connell

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Return on Investment

Return on investment, or ROI, as it is commonly knownis a terribly important concept in business. It is simply a ratio that expresses how much one has to spend to make a certain amount of money. Deciding upon one's career is clearly an important  - in many ways, life-determining - business and personal decision. Read further and you will discover that a career in professional sales has a spectacular ROI, compared to almost any other. 

Educational Requirements

I am really big on learning. I loved school and I chase knowledge at every turn. However, formal higher education requirements for many sales jobs - especially, retail sales jobs -  is either very light or nonexistent. Well, nonexistent beyond a reasonable functionality, that is. Companies that are looking to fill B2B (business-to-business) sales positions often list a college degree as a requirement, but even then experience, a successful track-record, and a good job of selling oneself in the interview can frequently win the day.

When you consider the upside of potential high-income (which is theoretically limitless) in a sales position with that of other professions (medicine and law often come up in this comparison), in view of educational considerations, the return on investment is nothing short of mind-boggling.

Obviously, medicine and law require significant amounts of schooling - and even more impressive amounts of student debt, usually. For example, it takes an average of about eleven years of college, medical school, and internship to become a medical doctor. The median student debt for medical school alone is over $160,000, in the U.S. Law students have a similar situation. Medical professionals have a much nobler intention than just making money, no doubt, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. It is still, however, a mighty expensive way to get a good job.


It is quite common for employers with retail sales positions to fill to advertise "No experience necessary." In fact, some employers prefer no sales experience, whatsoever! In the case of the "no experience necessary" crowd, they are just trying to deal with the difficulty of  getting people to take commission sales jobs. The employers that want applicants with no previous experience are trying to mold new recruits into their ideal of a good salesperson.

Most people want no part of sales for a variety of reasons. Most don't think they have the personality for it. Almost all are terrified of the prospect of working on a commission basis. Those two reasons for not going into sales are exactly the same reasons it pays so much - to the selling professional. People that give it a shot, and give it everything they have, are quite rare. Those that become pros are very well rewarded for their efforts.


Most selling professionals work for someone else. That someone else is paying the great bulk of your overhead. And, in many ways, the sales pro is a business unto himself. There is great freedom in being a salesperson and it comes from the fact that selling effectively is a very individualized thing. It is art and science and both require copious amounts of talent. Good sales managers are fully aware of this and are generally happy to let good salespeople do what they do best, with a minimum of interference.


There are obviously more glamorous and status-filled jobs. However, salespeople, remember this: Our economy would collapse instantly without you. Salespeople end up on the wrong end of many jokes, no doubt. Don't take it personally. It has taken an awful lot of really bad salespeople to accomplish that. Sales professionals do more than their share to keep money moving. Without that, we all have nothing. Do your best, invest in yourself by learning integrity and relationship-based selling techniques, count your money, and sleep well at night. Those things are tough to beat in a job.

If you are serious about honing your selling skills to a fine edge, please join this site, won't you? You will never miss another Connell On Selling post, again! Join through Google+ by clicking "Join This Site," in the right margin. It is free and I would love to have you.

Also, please give me your feedback. There is a place for you to comment at the bottom of the page. I would love to hear from you.

You are welcome to contact me directly at
My website is at
Please Like and Follow at these social media sites, too: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn.

by Kevin Connell

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Why Sales?

  Why Sales?

Choosing a career, for many of us, hasn't involved a lot of actual choosing. There are those of us that have had a passion about something from a tender age and have been able to muster it into a successful career. I think most of us felt that way about something, early on, with the expectation of doing that thing for actual money. I was going to be an astronaut, a military pilot, a classical musician, a rock star get the idea. But, the reality of the situation is, I am a selling professional. It was not my first choice, but life has a funny way of  leading us to where we need to be, to do what it is that we are good at. If we are really lucky, we like that job. It makes it much easy to go there, every day, doesn't it?

It is an interesting thing about selling as a vocational choice: I mean, really, if we stopped by a high school and did a little career-choice survey, how many young folk are really going to announce that they are going to be a  sales pro? Oddly, it doesn't sound that exciting - compared to rock star. It is only later, when those of us that did not choose something more sensible as a career choice come to the realization that the astronaut thing isn't working out, that professional selling can start to sound pretty good. We usually come to this conclusion about the time that we see a selling professional's paycheck.  "Let's see, Bob went to a community college for about a year, had no real idea what he wanted to do for a living, he is selling mid-line furniture at that store down by the mall - and he's making more money than the majority of other professionals in this town?!" That usually does it.

If you are serious about honing your selling skills to a fine edge, please join this site, won't you? You will never miss another Connell On Selling post, again! Join through Google+ by clicking "Join This Site," in the right margin. It is free and I would love to have you.

Also, please give me your feedback. There is a place for you to comment at the bottom of the page. I would love to hear from you. My number is 479-225-5892.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Integrity Selling: Honesty is the Best Policy

Integrity Selling: Honesty is the Best Policy

Who wants to deal with a salesperson?  Think about the descriptive terms that come immediately to mind: Pushy, slick, insincere, less-than-knowledgeable, less-than-honest, and so forth. It is often the used car salesman that bears the brunt of this dubious imagery.  It may be the first that comes to mind for most folks, but I’m afraid we all get painted with the same brush.
In fact, many professional salespeople feel that way (and, accurately), about most of their colleagues.   To go further, many of their uninformed and untrained colleagues take some pride in having this image. I personally know many of them and you probably do, too.
Unprofessional salespeople have themselves to thank for this reputation.  They have earned it. 
The good news for the rest of us is that by honing professional selling skills we have the opportunity to join the small inner-circle, the elite of sales professionals.  We, by internalizing concepts of integrity selling, can perform sales feats that stun the fly-by-night.
How do we do it? We continually perfect our skills and methods to the rarefied point that we can be honest with our prospects and customers. We can lead, rather than mislead. We sleep better, too.
Is this a quick fix?  Usually, but not always.  Remember, the snake-oil salesman has a few skills up his sleeves, too.  You are competing against him, in the eyes of your boss. His or her skills are those of fast talking, manipulation and slight-of-hand – sometimes impressive, all the same.  Our brand of selling – integrity selling – depends more on relationship building, which can take a little more time than the quick-sale artist will devote.
The perfect example of this exists in the car business.  It’s the so-called Super Sale.  This is where car dealers (usually cash-strapped) will engage an outside band of sales gypsies to overrun their dealership for a few days, popping off as many high-pressure sales as possible, then leaving town again like the low-rent circus that they truly are.  The bitter feelings of the dealership’s clientele left in the wake of this abomination notwithstanding, they do sell cars.  These folks have skills, just limited integrity, at best.  If you took the very same salespeople and actually put them permanently on the sales floor of a dealership, they would flounder and fail – unless they changed their ways.  The sales professional, complete with excellent product and industry knowledge and relationship-building skills would prevail every time.
The reasons for this are important and bear repeating: The sales professional knows their product to the nth degree, as well as that of their competition, and their industry so that they can present thoughtfully and intelligently. Therefore, they can be honest with their prospects and lead rather than mislead.  They will be so proficient at their job that they will easily be able to garner all-important referrals from their satisfied customers, too.  In time, the true selling professional will be able to rely on repeat and referral business almost exclusively. It’s easy to see why the charlatan cannot compete with one engaged in integrity selling, over the medium and long run.
There needs to be a note of caution, here.  Your sales management team will very likely know less about integrity selling than you do – if you study it. Sales management is almost always comprised of terminally average salespeople.  It is a different skill set. They may be fantastic managers, but they were generally not the company’s top-producers.  Let’s face it: the highest producing salespeople usually make more money than their managers. Also, companies are loath – and rightly so – to take their top producers off the sales team, for fairly obvious reasons.
In the final analysis, it is sustained volume that wins the day. Taking the time to perfect your professional skills will pay dividends well beyond your paycheck.  You will build lasting relationships with your customers and have a wonderful sense of self-respect, too.  Integrity selling is professional selling. Learn it. You will be glad you did.
If you are serious about honing your selling skills to a fine edge, please join this site, won't you? You will never miss another Connell On Selling post, again! Join through Google+ by clicking "Join This Site," in the right margin. It is free and I would love to have you.

Also, please give me your feedback. There is a place for you to comment at the bottom of the page. I would love to hear from you.

You are welcome to contact me directly at
Please Like and Follow at these social media sites, too: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn.

by Kevin Connell

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Prospecting: Referrals and Orphans

Prospecting: Referrals and Orphans

If you are waiting on customers to come to you, you are probably waiting a lot.  The days of making a good living by standing on the showroom floor or waiting for the phone to ring never really existed.  Yes, there are moments – just moments – in most businesses where people are beating your door down, but they are infrequent anomalies and certainly nothing to count on. 

And why should you wait on customers to seek you out?  These days, opportunities to go out and find them, courtesy of the internet, make sitting around waiting on them seem a little silly, don’t you think?  The problem is that salespeople are notoriously – should I say it? – lazy.  Without effective and regular motivation, the default mode for most sales folks is to sit around and wait. 

A note on the aforementioned regular motivation:  Unless you are a real self-starter, which most of us are not, it is sales management that is really charged with lighting a fire under you and the rest of the staff.  Unfortunately, sales management is often no better equipped to do this than are the salespeople. We have covered some of the shortcomings of sales management before, so I won’t belabor it, here. The bottom line is, if you are serious about advancing your selling career, you have to take the initiative. 

The remedy for this waiting around business is called prospecting. Prospecting is where one actively seeks out potential customers for your products and services.  In the long haul it pays huge dividends. 

There are many ways to prospect, too.  First of all, please make sure that you are staying in regular contact with prospects you already have.  I’ve covered this in my articles called “Gathering Contact Information” and “Relationship Selling,” that also appear on this site.  Make the best use of your current prospects and customers by asking for referrals.  Referred prospects have the advantages of being, to some degree, pre-qualified, they are given to you by someone that already knows you, likes you and trusts you, which puts you miles ahead of the game, and making the initial contact with a referral is often not quite as uncomfortable as it is when making a cold call.  They are pre-qualified in the sense that people tend overwhelmingly to associate with those in their own socioeconomic group.  For example, it has been said that one can, with precision, determine a person’s economic status by averaging that of their five closest friends.  People hang out with people that are like them.  If your referring customer can afford to buy your product, it is likely that someone that they have referred can, too.  Their needs and tastes are often very similar, as well. 

Volumes have been written on the art of referral-gathering, and it is a subject to which you should devote more than a little study. One of the best recent books on the subject is Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts into Sales, by Bob Burg. It’s published by McGraw Hill, and you would do well to read it. 

Another prospecting technique is to work your company’s orphan customers and prospects.  These are folks that have been worked by another salesperson with your firm, but, for one reason or another, now have no one tending to them.  There is gold in these hills, because someone else has already done some of the work for you.  In the case of orphan customers (those that have bought from your company, before), making contact is easy because it can be done under the guise of a customer service call.  They will almost always appreciate hearing from you and be impressed that your company is still interested in them, even if their previous salesperson is no longer with your firm.  Simply stay in touch with them and when the time comes for them to buy again, you will be top-of-mind.  

Orphan prospects may be a little harder to come by. If your company has a CRM (Customer Relations Management) system, the odds of getting your hands on them improve, dramatically.  Again, these people are already aware of your company and have shown some interest in buying what you sell.  Call them and introduce yourself. You will be surprised how often they are still in the market and are just waiting on someone to give them a little nudge. Make sure you put them on your schedule for regular contact. 

Coming up with orphan owners and prospects is usually as simple as asking your sales manager for them. They will appreciate your initiative and, ultimately, your increased volume. 

If you are serious about honing your selling skills to a fine edge, please join this site, won't you? You will never miss another Connell On Selling post, again! Join through Google+ by clicking "Join This Site," in the right margin. It is free and I would love to have you. Also, please give me your feedback. There is a place for you to comment at the bottom of the page. I would love to hear from you.

You are welcome to contact me directly at

Please Like and Follow at these social media sites, too: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn.

by Kevin Connell
Copyright 2013

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Relationship Selling

Connell on Selling

Relationship Selling

The last time we talked about gathering contact information.  Now that you have it, what do you do with it?  You use it to build a relationship with your prospect.

In the last post, we used a scenario that involved a prospective customer for a watch at a mall jewelry store, so we will stick with it.  The prospect has gone, but you did get his contact information. What’s next?  Call him the next day and thank him for his visit - without fail.  This is more a thank you call than a sales call, but do ask him if he has considered buying any of the watches he looked at the day before. What you need now is an appointment to get him back in the store.  If you can get him back in on an appointment he transitions from a 10% prospect to an 80% prospect.  You will probably have your sale.

Another thing to do the day after the prospect visits your store is to send him a thank you note.  Handwritten notes are best. You can buy note cards very inexpensively at Wal-Mart, for example. If you want to go all out, you can have a printer print some personalized cards for you, but it really isn’t necessary.  Use a postage stamp, too, rather than running it through the meter.  Hand address the envelope and put your name and home address as the return address. The more personal it looks, the greater the likelihood that the prospect will open it. Don’t forget to put one of your business cards in the note.  If your employer will provide you with these cards and stamps, great, but if not, buy them yourself. I promise that they will pay for themselves many times over.

Does your company use a form of customer relations management software, or CRM?
This is basically a database that helps you, and your company, keep track of customers and prospects.  These are most prevalent in the car business, but other businesses use them, too.  If it is a rather advanced CRM, it will be capable of generating thank you letters automatically.  If your company has one, use it to keep them happy, but it is no replacement for your spiral notebook with your contact information in it.

Also, you need to compile your contact information into a database of your own.  We shall hope that you have a computer at home. If you don’t have one, try and budget for one as soon as possible.  You can use any database program that you like, but the two that I prefer are Microsoft Access and Microsoft Works. Access is part of Microsoft Office Professional and is rather expensive, but it does allow you to work from other computers that have Office installed.  Microsoft Works Suite is much less expensive and does just as good of job, but portability in this format is somewhat limited.  This information is really for your own use, anyway, so Works does just fine.  By the way, if you do not have a computer, most public libraries have them. You can use them for free for an hour or two a day, usually.  Be sure to take a flash drive with you so you can save your work.

The information that you are putting into your home database should include the prospect’s name, address, phone number(s), and email address.  I keep separate databases for prospects and sold customers.  In the customer database, I keep information also on what the customer bought and when.  It’s not a bad idea, too, to have a field for the customer’s birthday, so you can send them a birthday card.

Now, back to our jewelry store customer.  Let’s suppose that you made your thank you call, but did not get an appointment.  When do you think you should re-contact him?  You will have to use some instinct on this one, but as a general rule, make that second call a little sooner than your instinct might suggest.  Remember that your prospect is now hot for a new watch. You don’t want him to cool off or, worse, go shopping around.  As a rule, you have about seventy-two hours to either sell him or at least make an appointment with him.

If you will follow these steps with every prospect, you will see your closing ratio improve from an average of ten to twenty percent to something closer to thirty-five percent.

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by Kevin Connell
Copyright 2017