Category Archives for "Business Lifestyle"

Apr 25

Soft Sell Marketers Naturally Focus on Prospects Matching Their Ideal Customer

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle , Business Systems , Relationship Selling , Sales and Marketing

I had fun Thursday consulting with a husband and wife team, small business owners, on sales and marketing for their flow control manufacturing company. This is one of the few times, if not the first, that my CMTC (California Manufacturing Technology Consultants) client was already gathering information on the profile for their target prospects.

Soft sell sales and soft sell marketing are about developing relationships based on people who know, like, and trust you. When you identify what your best customers have in common, you can seek prospects who match those traits. When you speak to a real problem they want and need to fix, you are going to find them more open to discussing what you can do to help them. Provide information and show you sincerely care about them. You’ll be able to help customers buy. And both you and your customer will enjoy the process more and find it mutually rewarding. As one of my clients said Monday, that kind of sale is “a rush.” It’s not just about the money. It’s about the relationship.

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Apr 23

Trust – but Use Discrimination

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle , Business Systems , Relationship Selling , Sales and Marketing

I just read an interesting blog post by Charles Green, “Is it Stupid to Be Trusting?” He mentioned that it’s common knowledge in sales and marketing circles that “people buy with their heart, and rationalize it with their brains.” Naturally, this can lead to problems when dealing with con artists and “slick” salespeople, which results in bitter customers who feel taken.

When I found myself buying a couple thousand dollars worth of cookware I didn’t need because I was on the road, I looked hard at what happened. The upshot was that I was predisposed to want what he was selling, — and — my own greed reacted to his pitch. Trust, yes, but use discrimination. Check it out. I still believe that establishing trust makes it possible to help customers buy. A soft sell sales person avoids using these types of manipulations because they violate the trust relationship. But when I’m the customer, I’m responsible for checking it out to be sure I’m not buying out of greed, attachment, or fear.

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Apr 12

What Numb3rs Demonstrated About Selling Benefits

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle , Business Systems , Relationship Selling , Sales Training

As we were watching one of my favorite shows, Numb3rs, Friday night, I saw a fabulous demonstration of salesmanship and the use of benefit statements all in a non-sales role. In “Animal Rites,” Episode 19, Animal Rights Eco Terrorists attacked CalTech research labs and killed a professor. FBI agents David Sinclair and Liz Warner called on an animal rights group to find out where the terrorists hung out. At first, the leader did not want to give any information on fellow activists. Then Sinclair said to him, “They already killed someone, and they are hurting your cause.”

The point this program made so clearly is that salesmanship and benefit statements are not limited to people who sell for a living. It’s a natural part of life. The key to being good at it is to think from the viewpoint of your prospect or customer. David Sinclair understood what his prospect cared about and aligned with his wants and needs. That’s what it’s all about when as a salesperson you help customers buy. You think about their problems, their wants and perceived needs and then you help them get the solution that fits.

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Apr 05

To Win Over Cynical Prospects, Use Soft Sell Sales and Marketing to Approach Them

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle , Business Systems , Internet Marketing , Relationship Selling , Sales and Marketing

The world is changing faster than most of us can keep up. These changes affect the business world as much as any other aspect of life. And among these changes is the fact that the American consumer is cynical and distrustful of businesses. At least half a century of hard sell tactics has wounded the relationship between buyers and sellers. Self-centered salespeople have lied to prospects so often and so much, people don’t know who’s telling the truth. Ironically, they want to trust.

Soft sell marketing is starting to make a major impact on Internet marketing. From there, it is spreading to soft sell sales. These approaches are what customers want now because people want the marketer and the salesperson to build a relationship with them before asking for the order. Customers have always wanted to know, like, and trust their vendors.
When you figure out whom your ideal customers are and then present your unique selling proposition and soft sell marketing message to them, showing you understand their needs and wants, you will have begun what can be a beautiful, long-term business relationship. Use soft sell sales techniques and you will earn their trust. Together these approaches mean they will come to know, like and trust you. You will help customers buy resulting in sales that are fun and mutually rewarding for the customer, your rep, and your business.

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Apr 01

Little Insights on Design Improve the Effectiveness of Your Marketing

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle , Business Systems , Internet Marketing , Relationship Selling , Sales and Marketing

Seth Godin’s blog yesterday asked, “Why aren’t you (really) good at graphic design?” He makes an important point for anyone in sales and marketing and anyone in Internet marketing. You can’t afford to be anything less than really good at design. Everyone these days wants to cut expenses as much as possible so businesses do most of their design in-house. And it shows. Like so most small businesses I know, I’m doing what I can to control my expenses and grow my consulting/coaching/speaking practice to reach the point where I have the budget to use professionals on the areas where their skills will have maximum impact.

Simple tips I received in high school from a corporate newletter photographer about how to frame a picture with the objects in the scene have made my pictures so much more attractive than I would have otherwise. The same is true with any of your marketing design from flyers to website. Read a little from design professionals. Your in-house efforts will reflect your new skills – until the project warrants hiring the professionals. And you will appreciate them more for your new understanding.

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Mar 30

Squeeze Pages – Are They Just Business Tools or Are They Manipulations

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle , Business Systems , Internet Marketing , Relationship Selling , Sales and Marketing

For a lot of people, it’s not an issue at all. For me and for some of my friends, it’s been a quandary. I don’t like squeeze pages. In fact, I think the very term reeks of manipulation. Squeeze pages are designed to give you two choices: opt-in to my mailing list or leave. Invariably there is a sense of urgency, like sign now for this limited time offer or lose the chance to get this information that will help transform your life. The offers of free information are seductive. And as a result, I’m on numerous mailing lists. By the way, I’ve found some wonderfully helpful material this way.

Yet, I’ve been puzzling over using them myself. In fact, I have one set up on my Smart Money Websites site. Despite that, something has bothered me about them. I teach that a salesperson should help the customer buy through selling as a service. Although few things in life are really black and white, there is a difference, and it lies in the attitude and in how they approach the prospect. Judith & Jim’s blog post “Soft Sell Squeeze Pages? A Contradiction?” shed light on my inner turmoil. They stated the issue clearly. It comes down to power, “their intention is to assure that choice will be obedience to their command,” versus respect.

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Mar 29

Soft Sell Marketing Resembles Farming More Than War

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle , Business Systems , Relationship Selling , Sales and Marketing

If your expressions about selling sound like a military commander planning for a battle, you probably learned from someone who taught traditional sales and marketing techniques. Their terms sound like a military engagement: overcome objections, take control of the prospect, and conduct a marketing campaign (which I still use to describe the multiple aspects of a coordinated program to find and sell to customers). Internet marketers have added a new one, squeeze pages. What a controlling sound for something as simple as inviting you to sign up for an ezine (electronic newsletter), usually in exchange for a gift. It’s no wonder business people call “old school” sales and marketing tactics hard sell.

People who believe, like I do, that selling is a spiritual service prefer farming analogies to war and fighting because, like farming, soft sell marketing sales and marketing nurture and cultivate relationships with perspective customers. Like farmers who care about their crops, soft sell marketers care about taking care of their customers.

So stop waging war with prospects. Start farming instead. Prepare the ground, plant your seeds, nurture and water them with helpful information, suggestions, and ideas. Weed out the misinformation. And prepare for a thanksgiving celebration of gratitude for an abundant harvest.

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Mar 26

Freakonomics Provides Huge Lesson for Sales Managers

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle , Business Systems , Relationship Selling

At first glance, Freakonomics: A Rouge Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, seems like a strange book for sales managers. It was a book with no unifying theme. However, these stories did indeed have a theme: motivation. The key point is that motivation is a complex issue.

This is especially true in sales management. The predominant motivator in hard sell organizations is money, lots of money. They also use recognition and other material rewards, like rings, watches, cars, and trips to exotic places. But these don’t always work because money alone does not make those of us who are soft sell marketer at heart sell out our values of caring about our customers. Serving them comes first, money second. We also have different goals so develop your programs to appeal to different salespeople.

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Mar 26

If You Don’t Like Selling, It May Be Due to Forcing Yourself to Do Hard Sell Sales

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle , Business Systems , Relationship Selling , Sales and Marketing

When You Sell as a Service, You’ll Be Unhappy in a Hard Sell Company
Have you ever felt out of place? I have. I find it happens most often when I seem to share nothing in common with the group where I am. Despite having been in sales and marketing since 1979, I feel uncomfortable in a company or a conference where the sales style is hard sell. I have friends who excel at it. They like the game of jockeying for control. My orientation instead is a service one. I like affirming the client and working with him rather seizing control and dictating. It was really challenging working in a company where I was expected to take control of the client and to prescribe what he would do. One executive told me that I’m the doctor. It’s my job to tell clients what to do.

Had to Find a Way to Satisfy My Boss While Acting Consistent with My Values
I spent 40 months dreading talking to my office because I had to find a way to take their orders and attempt to carry them out using my style of working in partnership with the client. I believe that lasting change comes from buy-in, which comes from agreeing with the objective and contributing to the solution. That’s hard to do when you are ordering instead of proposing a course of action and discussing.

Judith and Jim Seek to Make a Space for Soft Sell Sales and Marketing People
There is now an association for people in sales and marketing who believe in selling and marketing as a service. It’s very reaffirming to have a support group who share your values.

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