Hard Selling Your Customers? Stop!

Aggressive sales tactics can backfire and turn customers away from doing business with you. Instead, build lasting relationships with content marketing.

We all get telemarketer calls, right? Of course you do—aggressive sales calls plague everyone. How often do those callers convince you to buy something? Probably not very often.

Uninvited hard sales tactics are a relic. Today’s customers want to be engaged by businesses. Treat your customers the way you want to be treated. Instead of aggressively pitching your product or service, take the time to build trusting relationships with prospective customers through content marketing.

What is content marketing? Content marketing is the opposite of hard selling. Content marketing means:

  • Cultivating relationships. Expert advice articles and how-to videos that help your potential customers will keep them coming back to your website or social media page. Help them—no strings attached. When they’re ready to make a purchase, they’ll likely buy from the company that has their best interests at heart. Be that trusted company, not a pushy telemarketer.
  • Giving, not taking. The hard sell is all about demanding something from your customer: Do this, buy that, commit now! Content marketing is all about being in the right place at the right time, so your customer can come to you when they’re ready. Populate your website with information that customers find useful, enjoyable and relevant. Use photos, videos and writing to help them solve the problems that drove them to search the web for your products and services in the first place.
  • Listening and responding. The problem with the hard sell is that it’s all talking, never listening. Good content marketing is grounded in the needs, wants and habits of your customers. Research what words people use to search for the products or services you offer. Learn whether your target customers use Facebook or Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. Listen and respond with humbleness when they post online reviews or social media comments.


Serve their needs with care, and you’ll win their hearts.


Sell Financing

10 Tips to Help Your Sales Rep Sell Financing

I have spent a good part of the last 30 years training the sales teams of my vendor partners on how to use equipment financing to help sell their products. While the product types have range from software to construction equipment, selling financing as part of equipment sale remains much the same.

Below are 10 tips to help your vendor’s sales rep sell more equipment:

  • Control the sales process from beginning to end.

Many equipment sales are lost when the equipment sales rep does not offer financing and leaves it up to an outside party like the customer’s bank. If the bank turns the customer down, chances are the customer will look to the equipment company that offered them financing in their proposal to try to obtain the equipment. This loss of control during the sales process is an open door for the customer to entertain other proposals because the equipment rep did not keep control of the sales process from start to finish.

  • Bring up financing early in the selling process.

The biggest mistake equipment sales reps make is to wait until the end of the sales process to bring up financing. Waiting until the end of the sales process leads to wasting time on customers that don’t qualify for financing and don’t have cash to pay for it. Another downside of waiting until the end of the sales process is that the equipment sales rep has stripped out any gross margin upside that could have been used to pay for a finance promotion like a 90-day skip or interest rate reduction, that would have put them over the top and win the deal.

  • Ask these 3 questions.

Train your equipment sales reps to ask these 3 questions at the beginning of the sales process. It will help them sell more products:

  • Do you plan on financing your equipment purchase? (Starts the equipment finance discussion on the front side of the sale.)
  • How long do you plan on using the equipment? (Lets you know the term of the finance contract).
  • What do you typically do with old equipment when purchasing new? (Good indicator of need for FMV financing if they typically trade it in or sell it).
  • Include a monthly payment on every equipment quote. 

At the beginning of my dealer training sessions I always ask how many of the sales reps use leasing to sell equipment. Many hands will go up, but very few hands remain raised when I ask if they offer a finance quote on every deal. While the excuses vary, most have to do with equipment sales reps fear/ignorance of being asked a question they can’t answer about financing from their customer. Including a finance quote on every deal at very least let’s your customer know that financing is available.

  • Memorize the 36-month rate factor.

Great equipment sales reps are not afraid to ball park a monthly payment verbally during the initial part of the sale. This allows the equipment sales rep to judge their customer’s reaction to pricing.

  • Sell the monthly payment, not the equipment price.

In the copier and forklift industries, where more than 50% of the equipment is financed, the best sales reps will quote a monthly payment without ever discussing the equipment cost.  This allows them to maintain higher gross margins by using the flexibility of leasing to maintain pricing margins.

  • It’s easier to justify productivity gains or cost saving with a monthly payment.

I am always amazed by equipment sales reps that will try to justify the price of their equipment through features and benefits, and completely ignore using a monthly payment to minimize the price shock.  I once helped a dealer increase the sales of a $5000 add on by calculating that the cost was less than $5 per job when leased ($100/mo. lease divided by 20 jobs per month) The sales of this equipment add on jumped when the sales reps found out that it was easier selling $5/job than $5000.

  •  Get a credit app completed before you leave the meeting.

There rarely is any level of commitment if the end user is just window shopping. Getting a credit app completed increases the customer’s level of commitment to the sales process.

  • A question that will help avoid any credit surprises.

Equipment sales reps can avoid the aggravation of not being able to get one of their customer financed by asking one simple question “Are there any problems in your history that I need to explain to the finance company?”  You will be amazed by the number of companies that forgot they had a bankruptcy a few years back.

  • Offer to get financials for bigger deals.

If there is one thing that intimidates an equipment sales rep more than anything it’s the fear of asking their customer for 2 years of financial statements. Alleviate this stress by telling the equipment rep to tell their customer that you will be calling them for some follow-up credit information. It will be easier for you to justify the need for the financials to the end user.

What do they want and how do we connect?

The business world is racing to connect with the millennial generation. Always trying to find out what makes them tick and what they want. My 30 year old son tells me “It’s not difficult, and really kind of simple.”

Millennial buyers want: Convenience, transparency, technology, a positive experience and simplicity.

He’s right, these items come up in any research you read, but really don’t we all want the same thing?

We should give credit to Millennia’s in their 20s and 30s for being “the first generation to articulate what we all want.”

Time is my most important personal asset, and I’d say that’s true for everyone. To connect with customers Millennia’s and everyone else, value and respect their time and give them convenience, transparency, technology, a positive experience and simplicity.

It’s what they want.

Great customer relations come down to being an expert listener. Listening is the gateway to those five things. In reality, every customer is different. Listening lets you understand what each one wants.

Who is the Real Decision Maker? Find Out or Lose the Sale.

The prospect tells you, “I only need one more approval and the order is yours.”

ALRIGHT!! — the order is mine! — no-no-no — don’t celebrate too soon. The one last person needed to approve, is the real decision maker. The guy you were supposed to be talking to when you started. The one person who can say “no,” and there’s no possibility of reversing it.

Pause and take a deep breath. This sale hangs by a thread — and what are you doing about it? Going home and bragging “it’s in the bag,” or saying over and over — “I’m sure I got it, I’m sure I got it?” Neither will work.

Here’s what to do: The words “I only need one more approval and the order is yours” must trigger your response to the prospect — “Great, when do we all meet?”

Get the prospect to agree to let you attend the final decision meeting.

If you’re not present when the last decision is made — odds are you will lose the final battle of the sales war without being able to fire one bullet.

Try this: (In a non-pushy, friendly way), say to the prospect, “I’m an expert at what I do, and, Mr. Jones, you’re an expert at what you do. Surely as you discuss our service, questions about productivity and profitability will arise. I’m sure you agree that the right information needs to be presented so that the most intelligent decision can be made, true? (get commitment)

And questions might arise about our service. I’d like to be there to answer questions about my expertise so you can make a decision that’s in the best interest of your business.” (If this fails, try adding on the phrase — “Pleeeeaaase, I’ll be your best friend.”)

If the prospect (customer) agrees to the meeting, he or she considers you a resource, a partner. They trust you. If they don’t agree to let you in the meeting — they just consider you a salesperson.

When others need to “final approve” the deal, besides learning to know the buying process better, you must take these five action steps or the sale is in jeopardy…
1. Get the prospect’s personal approval. “Mr. Prospect, if it was just you, and you didn’t need to confer with anyone else, would you buy?” (The prospect will almost always say yes). Then ask, “Does this mean you’ll recommend our service to the others?” Get the prospect to endorse you and your service to the others, but don’t let him (or anyone) make your pitch for you.
2. Get on the prospect’s team. Begin to talk in terms of “we,” “us,” and “the team.” By getting on the prospect’s team, you can get the prospect on your side of the sale.
3. Arrange a meeting with all deciders. Do it any (ethical) way you have to.
4. Know the decision maker in advance. “Tell me a little bit about the others.” (Write down every characteristic). Try to get the personality traits of the other deciders.
5. Make your entire presentation again. You only have to do this if you want to make the sale. Otherwise just leave it to the prospect. He thinks he can handle it on his own, and will try his best to convince you of that.

If you think you can get around these five steps, think again. (It’s obvious you’re looking for shortcuts or you would have known the buying process in the first place.)

If you make the mistake of letting your prospect become a salesperson on your behalf, you will lose.

Here’s 2.5 ounces of prevention (for next time):
1. Qualify the decision maker as the “only” by asking a seemingly innocent question at the beginning of your presentation — “Is there anyone else you work with (confer with, bounce things off of) on decisions (situations) like this?” The object is to find out if anyone else is involved in the decision BEFORE you make your presentation.
2. Prevent the situation from occurring by saying in your initial presentation: “If you’re interested in our ——-, when we’re finished, would it be possible to meet the CEO and chat about it?”
2.5 The most powerful qualifying question you can ask is (AND IT MUST BE ASKED EXACTLY THIS WAY): “____, how will this decision be made?” ____will give you an answer. AND YOU FOLLOW UP WITH THE QUESTION: “Then what?” And ____will begin to give you the saga about how the decision is really made. You ask “then what?” four or five times and PRESTO!, you’ll have the name of the real decision maker.

The number of sales you make will be in direct proportion to the number of actual decision-makers you sit in front of. The problem with most salespeople (not you of course) is that they are sitting in front of someone who has to ask their mommy or daddy if they can buy it or not.

Real salespeople sit in front of real decision-makers.

Investing in Your Community Will Boost Your Sales

No business operates in a vacuum. No matter where you are based, your company is part of the local community — and it can easily be part of other communities, both online and off. It’s tempting not to worry too much about the community, of course. The most important focus should be your business’s success, rather than trying to integrate with your neighbors. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Your community and your customers are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there’s likely to be significant overlap if you rely on local sales. If your business operates primarily online, you still have a community to consider, but you may not have the convenience of using geography to identify your community.

A Part of Your Community

Depending on your preferences, you can make your community involvement a part of your marketing plan, list it under public relations, or categorize it under something entirely different. But there are a few facts that make it an important process.

First, establish a reputation as a trustworthy member of the community. Your reputation is important for reasons beyond your income, but it doesn’t hurt to remember that people prefer to buy from companies and individuals they can trust. They’re more likely to trust someone they know, someone from their own community.

Second, community involvement can be crucial in a crisis. While it can be difficult not to be cynical when considering problems such as those BP currently faces, it’s easy to see that the company is making use of every community connection it can to mitigate the problems it faces. In particular, the positioning of Darryl Willis as the face of the compensation process seeks to build a sense of connection. As Willis says in a recent radio ad, “I was born and raised in Louisiana. I volunteered for this assignment because this is my home. I’ll be here in the Gulf as long as it takes to make this right.”

No matter the strategy behind community involvement, being aware of your company’s position in the community is a necessity.

Investing in Your Community

Since you must operate in your community, it simply makes sense to make your community a key resource for your business. That can require some investment and where you choose to invest your time and money can vary significantly. Some investments will bring you directly into the view of your customers. Some will help you build up the infrastructure you need in your community to cut your costs or to put your community in the position of needing more of your products or services.

Sales are typically the crucial question for small business owners. As such, you’ve likely put together information on where your ideal customers are most likely to be found. That same information can lead you to opportunities in your community. In some cases, you may find that you’re looking at more of a donation than an investment — but if there is a return on your donation, such as more awareness of your company in your target market, you can have a much better financial benefit than a simple tax deduction.

Even relatively simple investments at the local level can help your business to cultivate situations in which your services or products are needed. A CPA, for instance, can easily hold free workshops, investing his time to help the individuals he would like to work with. By educating prospective clients about their own needs, that CPA has also shown them where his services would come in handy.

Investments aren’t just for companies who find their customers locally. If you operate a company where most sales occur outside of your immediate area, your ties to the area are still very strong. You likely recruit most of your employees, locally, after all, and the right investments can help build a pipeline that funnels trained and able employees right to your company. Take a look at the local school system: even a little investment may be able to help you to find the employees that you need now and down the line.

Thinking In Public Relations Terms

Hopefully, you’ll choose your community involvement based on more than your financial benefit — perhaps your own interest in seeing your community or a particular cause within your community succeed — but it’s hard to argue that most business owners aren’t aware that there benefits to community involvement in terms of public relations. Such benefits do require action on your part to take advantage of, however.

Simply increasing awareness of a company or a product can help increase sales. But if your customers or clients equate your company with the efforts you’ve made in your community, they are more likely to seek your business out at levels beyond what generally increased awareness can create. But making sure that the word gets out there often requires a little self-promotion. No one else will go out of their way to tell people about the good things you’ve done. That can require a public relations strategy that shares the good news.

There is a fine line between sharing that news and pushing too hard to make sure that the local public sees your efforts and investments in the community, of course. But sitting back and hoping that someone else will mention your good deeds is too much to hope for. Planning a strategy that avoids going overboard is necessary. There are approaches, however, that can work in certain situations. For instance, if you’ve focused on a philanthropic cause in your local community, it’s possible to promote the cause and only incidentally promote your involvement with it.

You don’t need to be cold and calculating when it comes to investing in your community, but it is worth paying attention to the opportunities, both direct and those that you have to promote, that your community can bring your way.

Fine Art of Prospecting Builds Relationships

There's many aspects to the benefits of leasingProspecting is a lost art. It has to be taught, nurtured and perfected.  Yet in most businesses today, it’s rare that anyone teaches salespeople how to prospect.

Some exceptions are brokerage, insurance and recruitment firms. These businesses teach their people how to call, network and prospect around the clock.

They never leave you alone and often seem like pests. That’s one form of prospecting, although perhaps not the most effective.

Even with all the activity from the Internet, phone calls, email and other activities that build traffic, salespeople remain in the business of building relationships. People would rather do business with those they know and trust.

At any given time, virtually everyone is selling and prospecting for something.  And, just like the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, salespeople who consistently talk about their job reap the benefits.

Statistics show that customers, who come to your business through a referral cultivated by a salesperson, do business with you 60% of the time. Relationship building increases the quality of the customer and the potential to close.

That’s the true value of prospecting. On the other hand, if a customer comes through the door because of an ad or their own research, that percentage drops to 12% to 15%. Why wouldn’t salespeople prospect for relationships? Which situation would you rather be in?

The math is simple and powerful. If a salesperson gave out three business cards every business day, at the end of a month this individual would have passed out about 78 cards, after meeting and talking to 78 new opportunities, referral sources and leads. Multiply that by a full year and the salesperson will have reached 936 people.

Where do salespeople find these “three people?” Salespeople interact with slews of people every day. They can find them everywhere! They are at the doctor, pharmacy, grocery, school meetings, clubs, athletic facilities, church and so on.  They are family members and guests who come to holiday gatherings.

The New York Times reported the average American knows about 600 people. So, a salesperson attending a Thanksgiving celebration with 20 other guests has the potential to indirectly reach 12,000 people.

If even a quarter of those are legitimate leads, then each salesperson already knows 3,000 opportunities. These people only become opportunities, however if the salespeople network by telling them what they do and providing their contact information.

Even if that number is reduced by two-thirds for various reasons, there are still 4,000 potential contacts from a single evening. Everyone knows someone somewhere, somehow.

Relationship building never stops. It has to happen every day. The more people a salesperson gets in front of each day, the higher the percentage of sales. It’s about building relationships and expanding reach and awareness. Done repeatedly, it will pay off.

Unfortunately, when sales are good most salespeople and managers get comfortable and only focus on the business in front of them. They don’t think about the future until it’s too late. They start to prospect when they urgently need new opportunities.

While it is human nature to focus on the business at hand, especially during peak sales periods, there is never a day when salespeople are too busy to prospect.  When prospecting becomes part of the everyday process, every customer, every contact and every sale – even if the prospect didn’t buy – has the potential to provide new leads or referrals.

An average salesperson talks face-to-face with two customers each day while at work – that’s about 600 people each year. Every day the salesperson has the opportunity to ask these two people for a referral to friends, colleagues, relatives.

If those people provide the salesperson with even one referral, it’s an increase of 300 new opportunities each year. If half of these people make an appointment and come to the business, and 60% of those do business with you, the salesperson gains 90 additional sales.

Prospecting for relationships is a fine art that must be practiced every day. Done properly, it delivers higher sales, increased productivity, greater profits, and an exceptional customer service experience. Relationships built on trust and confidence makes doing business you easier for every prospect you cultivate.

By Bob Underwood

Specialty Funding Group

Albuquerque, NM

Here are 5 ways to get a prospect to return your phone call

Modern office system phone with large LCD screen. Isolated on white

1. Keep it simple and make it direct.

Don’t beat around the bush. If you want the customer to call you, ask them to do it and make sure there is a compelling reason for them to do so.

2. Give the prospect information they will value and want to receive.

When you’re leaving your message, make sure you leave them a very short statement about the key report, information, etc., that you will be happy to share with them when they call back.

3. State your message with confidence and a full voice.

Nothing will kill a prospecting call faster than a lame message.  Stand up, be focused and be deliberate with what you’re saying and most of all keep it short, not more than 15 seconds.

4. State your phone number twice and say it slowly!

Very important to give your phone number twice and be sure to give each digit. You may know what you’re saying, but your prospect doesn’t.

5. Do not leave your website or say when you’re available.

Leaving them your website gives them a way to find out about you without having to call you back.  Same thing goes for asking them to call you back at a certain time.  It’s your job to be available for the prospect.  It’s not the prospect’s job to be available for you.

10 Reasons why most salespeople are not successful at prospecting

Equipment Leasing

1. Using the same prospecting process for all your prospects.
2. Having too many prospects in your pipeline. Ultimately, it’s the quality of your prospects that are going to deliver you your quota.
3. Not having the time to follow up and follow through.
4. Not segmenting your prospects based on who they are and their needs.
5. Relying on email as your primary tool to prospect. Email is efficient, but it’s also seductive in having you think you’re reaching your prospect.
6. Thinking social media is your answer
7. Not allocating the proper commitment of your time. Thinking about prospecting is not prospecting! Prospecting happens when you engage!
8. Failing to realize your prospects don’t care about you. Quit sending messages that wax eloquently about who you are and how great your company is.
9. Not making your messages about what the prospects need.
10. Failing to realize the telephone is still a great prospecting tool.

5 ways to get a prospect to return your phone call

Modern office system phone with large LCD screen. Isolated on white1. Keep it simple and make it direct.

Don’t beat around the bush. If you want the customer to call you, ask them to do it and make sure there is a compelling reason for them to do so.

2. Give the prospect information they will value and want to receive.

When you’re leaving your message, make sure you leave them a very short statement about the key report, information, etc., that you will be happy to share with them when they call back.

3. State your message with confidence and a full voice.

Nothing will kill a prospecting call faster than a lame message.  Stand up, be focused and be deliberate with what you’re saying and most of all keep it short, not more than 15 seconds.

4. State your phone number twice and say it slowly!

Very important to give your phone number twice and be sure to give each digit. You may know what you’re saying, but your prospect doesn’t.

5. Do not leave your website or say when you’re available.

Leaving them your website gives them a way to find out about you without having to call you back.  Same thing goes for asking them to call you back at a certain time.  It’s your job to be available for the prospect.  It’s not the prospect’s job to be available for you.

Specialty Funding Group Receives 2014 Best of Albuquerque Award

Specialty Funding Group Receives 2014 Best of Albuquerque Award

Albuquerque Award Program Honors the Achievement

ALBUQUERQUE October 21, 2014 — Specialty Funding Group has been selected for the 2014 Best of Albuquerque Award in the Car Leasing Service category by the Albuquerque Award Program.

Each year, the Albuquerque Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Albuquerque area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2014 Albuquerque Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Albuquerque Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Albuquerque Award Program

The Albuquerque Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Albuquerque area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Albuquerque Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Albuquerque Award Program