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 Adland Digest FREE Edition #566
  Wednesday, September 13, 2007

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7 Ways to Stop "Selling" & Start Building Relationships
 by: Ari Galper

Sometimes we can all use a friendly reminder to keep us from backsliding into old ways of thinking about selling that lead us down the wrong path with potential clients.

I was inspired to write this article after a few coaching sessions with a client named Michael, who sells a technology solution. Michael had been struggling with a mental block about how to detach from the traditional sales thinking he had learned from old-school sales "gurus".

You know who they are. You may even have some of their books or tapes. And you know their sales messages too: "Always be closing," "Think positive, and you'll overcome all your cold calling fears," "All you need to boost your sales is a few new sales techniques."

But all these outdated sales messages fail to address the core issue of how we think about selling. And unless we get to that core, and change it once and for all, we'll go on struggling with the same counterproductive sales behaviors. We'll go on experiencing the same difficulties and frustrations.

And we'll continue to believe that we're always just one new sales technique away from the breakthrough we're looking for.

New Thinking = New Results

Maybe it's time to take a different approach. Maybe we need to seriously analyze our sales thinking so we can identify why we're not making more sales. Take a look at the table below and thinkabout your current selling mindset. How would your selling behaviors change if you changed your sales thinking?

Traditional Sales Mindset: Always deliver a strong sales pitch.

New Sales Mindset: Stop the sales pitch -- and start a conversation.

Traditional Sales Mindset: Your central objective is always to close the sale.

New Sales Mindset: Your central goal is always to discover whether you and your potential client are a good fit.

Traditional Sales Mindset: When you lose a sale, it's usually at the end of the sales process.

New Sales Mindset: When you lose a sale, it's usually right at the beginning of the sales process.

Traditional Sales Mindset: Rejection is a normal part of selling.

New Sales Mindset: Sales pressure is the only cause of rejection. Rejection should never happen.

Traditional Sales Mindset: Keep chasing every potential client until you get a yes or a no.

New Sales Mindset: Never chase a potential client -- you'll only trigger more sales pressure.

Traditional Sales Mindset: When a prospect offers objections,challenge and/or counter them.

New Sales Mindset: When a potential client offers objections, uncover the truth behind them.

Traditional Sales Mindset: If a potential client challenges the value of your product or service, you must defend yourself and explain the value.

New Sales Mindset: Never defend yourself or what you have to offer -- it only creates more sales pressure.


Let's take a closer look at these central concepts so you can begin to open up your current sales thinking and become more effective in your selling activities:

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1) Stop the sales pitch -- and start a conversation.

When you call someone, avoid making a mini-presentation about yourself, your company, and what you have to offer. Start with an opening conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that your product or service solves. If you don't know what this is, ask your current customers why they purchased your solution. One example of an opening phrase might be, "I'm just calling to see if you'd be open to some different ideas related to lowering the risk of any computer downtime you may be having in your company?" Notice that you are not pitching your solution with this opening phrase.

2) Your central goal is always to discover whether you and your potential client are a good fit.

Let go of trying to "close the sale" or "get the appointment"-- and you will discover that you don't have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward. If you simply focus your conversation on problems that you can help potential clients solve, and if you don't jump the gun by trying to move the sales process forward, you will find that potential clients will actually bring you into their buying process.

3) When you lose a sale, it's usually right at the beginning of the sales process.

If you believe that you lose sales because you make a mistake at the end of the process, take a look back at how you began the relationship. Did you start with a presentation? Did you use traditional sales language like, "We have a solution that I believe you really need" or "Others in your industry have bought our solution, so you should consider it as well"?

When you use traditional sales language, potential clients can't help but label you with the negative stereotype of "salesperson." This makes it almost impossible for them to relate to you from a position of trust. And if trust isn't established at the outset, honest communication about the problems they're trying to solve, and how you might be able to help them, becomes impossible too.

4) Sales pressure is the only cause of rejection. Rejection should never happen.

Rejection happens for only one reason: Something you said, as subtle as it might have been, triggered a defensive reaction from your potential client.

Yes, something you said. To eliminate rejection, simply shift your mindset so that you give up the hidden agenda of hoping to make a sale. Instead, everything you say and do should stem from the basic mindset that you are there to help potential clients. This makes you able to ask, "Would you be open to talking about issues you might be having affecting your business?"

5) Never chase a potential client--you'll only trigger more sales pressure.

"Chasing" potential clients has always been considered normal and necessary, but it's rooted in the macho selling image that, "If you don't keep chasing, it means you're giving up -- and that means you're a failure."

This is dead wrong! Instead of chasing potential clients, tell them that you would like to avoid anything that resembles the old cat-and-mouse chasing game by scheduling a time for your next chat.

6) When a potential client offers objections, uncover the truth behind them.

Most traditional sales programs spend a lot of time focusing on "overcoming objections." These tactics only put more sales pressure on potential clients and also fail to explore or understand the truth behind what the potential client is saying. When you hear, "We don't have the budget," "Send me information," or "Call me in a few months," do you think you're hearing the truth, or do you suspect that these are polite evasions designed to end the conversation?

Rather than trying to counter objections, you can uncover the truth by replying, "That's not a problem" -- no matter what clients are "objecting" to -- and then using gentle, dignified language that invites them to reveal the truth about their situation.


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7) Never defend yourself or what you have to offer -- it only creates more sales pressure.

When a potential client says, "Why should I choose you over your competition?," your first, instinctive reaction is probably to start defending your product or service because you want to convince them to buy.

But what do you think goes through your potential client's mind at that point?

Something like, "This 'salesperson' is trying to sell me on why what they have to offer is better, but I hate feeling as if I'm being sold." Rather than defending yourself, try suggesting that you aren't going to try to convince them of anything because that would only create sales pressure.

Instead, ask them about the key problems that they are trying to solve, and then explore how your product or service might solve those problems --without ever trying to persuade.. Let potential clients feel that they can choose you without feeling "sold."

About The Author

With a Masters Degree in Instructional Design and over a decade of experience creating breakthrough sales strategies for global companies such as UPS and QUALCOMM, Ari Galper discovered the missing link that people who sell have been seeking for years.

His profound discovery of shifting one's mindset to a place of complete integrity, based on new words and phrases grounded in sincerity, has earned him distinction as the world's leading authority on how to build trust in the world of selling.

Leading companies such as Gateway, Clear Channel Communications, Brother International and Fidelity National Mortgage have called on Ari to keep them on the leading edge of sales performance. Visit http://www.unlockthegame.com to get his free sales training lessons.


Marketing Success Defined
Copyright 2007 by Mark S. Levit

How do you personally define success? High income? Substantial net worth? A fine home? Peer recognition?

On a personal basis, there are likely almost as many definitions of success as there are people in the world.

In marketing, though, there are just four measurable elements of success:

Profitability, Market Share, Customer Satisfaction and Customer Retention.

Profitability requires little explanation. The very reason businesses exist is to make a profit, or generate more revenue than they pay out. Profitability may be increased by reducing overhead and the cost of goods soldóor by increasing the price to the buyer.

But prices can only be raised so much. Per the laws of price elasticity, as prices rise, unit sales tend to decline, as does Market Share; which brings us to our next measure of marketing success.

Market Share, as a measure of success, is important to marketers since the greater the share, the more stable the brandís performance is in the marketplace. A product with 65% market share is a force with which to be reckoned. A product with 3% share is vulnerable to a variety of market factors such as competitive pricing, promotions, loyalty to better-known brands and more.

Financial managers understand the impact of Profitability and Market Share. But concepts such as Customer Satisfaction and Customer Retention are softer items and tend to be treated as lesser by those managers. Yet, the long term success and growth of a brand is highly dependent on them.

Customer Satisfaction doesnít appear on a balance sheet. It canít be measured in dollars and cents. Itís measured by the customerís feelings about a brand. Does the brand deliver its promise? Is it a good value? Does it bring status to the owner? Is the customer generally happy with the product? Customer Satisfaction begets repeat purchases, loyalty, word-of-mouth advertising and, of course, long-term profitability via Customer Retention.

Customer Retention, the final measure of marketing success, is closely tied to Customer Satisfaction, Profitability and Market Share.

A satisfied customer is likely to remain loyal to a brand, thus enhancing market share over the long-term, as new customers are acquired. Retained customers increase the profitability of a brand. In the course of acquiring new customers, retained customersí purchases can be counted on for continued profit performance.

Itís widely known that itís five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an old one. Makes you wonder why marketers donít generally invest more in Customer Retention, doesnít it?

Few business organizations focus on all four elements of marketing success, probably because theyíre difficult to balance and manage as separate items, yet theyíre strongly interdependent.

The four elements of marketing success are reasons enough for financial managers and marketing managers to gain a better understanding of one anotherísí disciplines and work toward the common good of their companies.

About The Author

Mark Levit is managing partner of Partners & Levit Advertising and a professor of marketing at New York University. Partners & Levit is an aggressive marketing services firm leveraging branding, advertising, sales promotion, direct response, seminar and event marketing, the Internet and other channels to guide prospects along a continuum until they become your loyal customers. To learn more visit http://www.partnerslevit.com or call 212.696.1200.

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