June 8th, 2012
Have you ever gone into your Vice President’s office to obtain approval for the latest convention type trinket? Something spongy, a character on a key chain, can opener or a source code that can be redeemed for a music download for a song that no body cares about? Yeah come on, we have all been that desperate searching for the newest and latest thing to motivate prospects, employees and members for under $10.00 a pop. I don’t know about you but the response that I received from my V.P. was “I am not approving an expense for trinkets and trash because that is just where they wind up, in the trash.”
What a dilema, you must increase sales, memberships or your team’s production and you have a small budget. The first thing I recommend is look in the mirror and identify your own motivations then round up the troops for a fun kick off meeting with balloons, music and food. It does not have to be anything fancy but it does have to be action packed.
What to do in no particulat order
- Identification of a logo/mascot or tag line for your sales or membership campaign.
- Appoint a team leader, Project Manager
- Wanting more sales or members for the sake of numbers is not enough. You must have a compelling reason for your sales or membership drive in order to generate excitement. There is more to it than just money, what are long term gains?
- Once a plan is developed communicate it enthusiastically and frequently via Fun Friday potlucks, ice cream socials, emails, newsletters and handouts at member networking events and membership drives.
- Ask others if they would buy into your sales or membership campaign and what would it take in order for them to act immediately.
- Listen to your current members and customers, does your price match your value? You may need to change this up and refresh your services with something more suitable to this years trends.
- Do you offer incentives? If you do, don’t forget the opportunity to offer incentives for referrals, purchases of other products and for signing up early for campaign offers. You should always have multiple membership levels and perks.
- Blog, blog, blog about the newest industry develops, special offers and about customers and incentives that are accomplishing great things. If your blog has not been touched since 2009 what makes you thing you will be interesting and exciting to others?
- Help them, help you. Ask questions about how they view your business, go the extra mile and be in front of your prospect at least once a quarter in one way or another. If you are not doing so, someone else would love to be.
- Offer a perk on top of an incentive. What? Yes, a perk that will be added for participating in a membership or customer rewards program. Many of these reward programs are point based programs tracked on a software program.
- Provide a chance for people to share their experience and insights with others. This is one of the most flattering invitations of all for existing customers and members.
- Give to receive. It is the thought that counts, ALWAYS. Remember when you were dating? Your girl friend or boy friend would bring over your favorite pie, flowers or record a song that reminded them of you? At that moment, it meant the world to you and you never forgot about it.
Marketing is not selling, it is promoting!
August 11th, 2009
There are plenty of ways to motivate reps to stay on the path to success, even on a budget.
Perks are a compelling way to encourage your staff to keep smiling and selling-a little way of saying “I appreciate your work” that goes beyond salary and benefits. “Pay and commissions are expected, but perks are special. Perks are tangible evidence the organization recognizes that an employee went above and beyond,” says Lin Grensing-Pophal, author of Motivating Today’s Employees (Self Counsel Press). Grensing-Pophal adds that perks “can help employees feel valued by their organizations, which, in turn, can lead to higher productivity, improved morale and loyalty.” For smart, low-dough ways to show your sales force the love, keep these tips in mind:
- One size does not fit all. When it comes to sales incentives, one person’s perk may be another’s pile o’ junk. An ill-selected “perk”–for example, giving a steak-of-the-month subscription to a vegan–won’t get the job done right. With a small sales force, there’s really no excuse for not knowing the perks that will motivate your sales pros to keep moving. “One person might respond to fresh flowers, another to tickets to a sporting event, another to dinner with the boss,” explains Grensing-Pophal. If you’re clueless, poll your sales staff about what would really float their sales boat.
- Let creativity flow. A sales rep may yawn over another pen or plaque but be thrilled by free movie tickets. “Allow your imagination to run wild,” says John Naples, president and founder of sales training company Encore Consulting Group in Santee, California. “Avoid dull at all costs.” Naples recommends offering monthly, quarterly and annual perks, starting with modest monthly perks and building up the “wow” factor in quarterly and annual perks.
- Tie rewards to specific sales achievements. Salespeople respond to well-articulated goals, so they’ll want to know exactly what it takes to get particular perks. To keep reps motivated to go for the gold, Ron Coxsom, president and founder of GME Consulting, Inc., a sales training and consulting firm in Nashville, Tennessee, encourages managers to track achievements quarterly rather than annually. Coxsom believes more timely tracking keeps reps invested in the process and will make them more motivated for the big reward: “People need to be guided-you can keep staff motivated all year long when you tie perks to an annual accomplishment.”
- Simple gestures are meaningful. Don’t be trapped into thinking all perks must have a monetary value attached. Some perks cost nothing. Says Grensing-Pophal, “A handwritten note from the boss, a key client or a well-respected colleague can be very effective.”
Never miss an opportunity to praise your sales staff when kudos are well-deserved. Consider leaving an effusive voice mail or writing a laudatory e-mail. Additional low-cost perks include sponsoring a free Friday afternoon lunch, allowing a top rep to pick his or her own schedule for a month, or granting a worthy rep an extra “comp” day off.
- Make a deal. One way to keep a rein on the costs of perks is to investigate bartering or trade relationships, which can make larger prizes a possibility. Consider a trade partnership with a travel agency, for example, if you’d like to offer your hardworking reps getaways as incentives. Another way to offer no-cost perks is to keep in mind the sales ego. You can make a salesperson’s week by featuring him or her in your company newsletter or granting an especially cushy parking space for a month.
Kimberly L. McCall (aka Marketing Angel) is the president of McCall Media & Marketing Inc. (www.marketingangel.com), a business communications firm in Durham, Maine.
March 10th, 2009
Once there was a time in business when you could experience a change and then return to a period of relative stability. Nowadays, changes occur constantly – one on top of another. We need to acknowledge change and realize that change is a continuous journey – a way of life rather than a one-time event that can be lived through. With considerable momentum and continuity building in our organization, it definitely can be said that nothing is ever absolutely certain (other than possibly death and taxes).
These changes and challenges that we are encountering can at times bring added strain to business organizations. What is not always clear to us is how much more trouble we would be in for if organizations failed to change. Oftentimes people can have a funny way of hanging on to old habits. In particular, we are often unwilling to quit doing what we can do well, even if it is no longer valuable to our customers. It is easy for people to get stuck in the thinking that got them to where they are today, even though that thinking cannot be used to get them where they need to be tomorrow. It is important that we continue to break through our traditional thinking and avoid any prevailing mindsets, such as the thinking “it has always been done this way.” We need to continually focus our efforts beyond our “business-as-usual” thinking. As progress calls for each of us to change, we need to remember that constant change is a way of life in business today. Together, we must simultaneously manage the present and plan the future.
Currently, some jobs are taking on totally new dimensions…making new demands…calling for new work habits. We need to be willing to alter our mindsets as well as our techniques. Rather than continuing with the same old job behaviors that worked well enough in the past, we must learn new routines and make the necessary shift in our mindset so that our thinking is aligned with our new company mission and the new realities of the present work world. We all need to focus our efforts on doing the right things for our customers. A key mistake can be ignoring how priorities and customer expectations have changed. We can be focused on doing things right, but we really are failing to do the right things. What can we offer our customers that they will value and be unable to get from anyone else? We need to have an intense and unwavering commitment to making a difference in the business of our customers. It is important that we look at change as an opportunity…and use
March 5th, 2009
About a year ago I wrote a column on the ABCs of selling. When I came to the letter T, there was no doubt what that word would be: Trust. It’s the most important word in business. Trust is central to doing business with anyone. Without it, you have another word that begins with T: Trouble.
Unfortunately, trust in business plummeted worldwide last year, according to an Edelman survey released in late January. The public relations firm discovered that just 38 percent of respondents aged 35 to 64 said they trusted business, down from 58 percent a year earlier—the lowest rating in the survey’s 10-year history. It’s interesting that U.S. respondents ranked third. People in Ireland and Japan were even more suspicious.
As a life-long businessman I find this especially troubling. In my business, there is nothing more important than trust, although I would list likeability, people skills and chemistry close behind.
I’ve always believed that telling the truth is the best policy. In business, especially today, it’s a must. A few years back, the Forum Corporation of Boston, Mass., studied 341 salespeople from 11 different companies in five different industries. Their purpose was to determine what separated top producers from average producers. When the study was finished, the results were startling. It was not skill, knowledge or charisma that divided the pack. The difference came down to one trait: honesty. When customers trust salespeople, they buy from them!
At MackayMitchell Envelope Company, we don’t tolerate anything less than honest negotiations and delivery guarantees. An envelope is a very standard commodity. Sure, the paper, the glue, and the size can vary. The end product can probably be duplicated by a hundred companies. But nobody can match us day in day out, job after job, envelope after envelope, smile after smile. Our customers know we’ll do what we promise and try to deliver even more. They’ve even occasionally forgiven us for an honest mistake because they know we’ll make good on our word.
When bailouts, bankruptcies and corporate scandals erupt and occupy the front pages for months on end, people tend to mistrust all of corporate America. That’s not fair, but something of a natural reaction.
Is this a recent development? Not exactly. Nearly one hundred years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt addressed the issue: “We demand that big business give people a square deal. In return, we must insist that when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right, he shall himself be given a square deal.”
When people get in trouble, what do they typically do? They consult someone they already know and trust. When a problem hits, it’s a poor time to look for help. How can you depend on someone you have known for half an hour? I would rather rely on someone I know I can count on, even if his or her experience is limited, than start from scratch. That person can usually lead you to someone who can help you if different skills are necessary.
Trust is key.
Wayne Huizenga, the only person in history to have founded three Fortune 500 companies (Blockbuster, Waste Management and AutoNation), knows plenty about building trust. He says: “I don’t want to be just a voice on the phone. I have to get to know these guys face-to-face and develop a sincere relationship. That way, if we run into problems in a deal, it doesn’t get adversarial. We trust each other and have the confidence we can work things out.”
When trust exists in an organization or in a relationship, almost everything else is easier and more comfortable to achieve. Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time.
Author Marsha Sinetar said: “Trust is not a matter of technique, but of character. We are trusted because of our way of being, not because of our polished exteriors or our expertly crafted communications.”
Trust is telling the truth, even when it is difficult, and being truthful and trustworthy in your dealings with customers and staff. People do not or cannot trust each other if they are easily suspicious of one another. Trust involves being optimistic, rather than pessimistic. When we trust people, we are optimistic not only that they are competent to do what we trust them to do, but also that they are committed to doing it.
Mackay’s Moral: It takes years to build up trust, but only seconds to destroy it.
March 3rd, 2009
Sometimes it seems that folks just don’t get it. No matter what you say or how you say it, they simply don’t have a clue – and don’t seem too worried about getting one either! It’s not their nature to understand; that’s just how they “are.” Maybe so, but more often than not, the problem is a result of a communication breakdown.
In this digitally inter-connected world, you’d think we could “fix” such basic differences. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as plugging another device into the system. Maybe they’re the problem. Maybe you are. We all know difficult people – and, in fact, we can all be the difficult person.
A little background on communication styles can help us understand the issues and learn how to alter our approach to eventually make life a little easier for both parties.
Every time we speak, we choose and use one of four basic communication styles: assertive, aggressive, passive and passive-aggressive.
The most effective and healthiest form of communication is the assertive style. It’s how we naturally express ourselves when our self-esteem is intact, giving us the confidence to communicate without games and manipulation.
When we are being assertive, we work hard to create mutually satisfying solutions. We communicate our needs clearly and forthrightly. We care about the relationship and strive for a win/win situation. We know our limits and refuse to be pushed beyond them just because someone else wants or needs something from us. Surprisingly, assertive is the style most people use least.
Aggressive communication always involves manipulation. We may attempt to make people do what we want by inducing guilt (hurt) or by using intimidation and control tactics (anger). Covert or overt, we simply want our needs met – and right now! Although there are a few arenas where aggressive behavior is called for (i.e., sports or war), it will never work in a relationship. Ironically, the more aggressive sports rely heavily on team members and rational coaching strategies.
Passive communication is based on compliance and hopes to avoid confrontation at all costs. In this mode we don’t talk much, question even less, and actually do very little. We just don’t want to rock the boat. Passives have learned that it is safer not to react and better to disappear than to stand up and be noticed.
A combination of styles, passive-aggressive avoids direct confrontation (passive), but attempts to get even through manipulation (aggressive). If you’ve ever thought about making that certain someone who needs to be “taught a thing or two” suffer (even just a teeny bit), you’ve stepped pretty close to (if not on into) the devious and sneaky world of the passive-aggressive.
So now what?
Clearly, for many reasons, the only healthy communication style is assertive communication. Surely you can identify many people in your own life that favor each of the four styles. Most of us use a combination of these four styles, depending on the person or situation. The styles we choose generally depend on what our past experiences have taught us will work best to get our needs met in each specific situation. If you take a really good look at yourself, you’ve probably used each throughout your lifetime.
Understanding the four basic types of communication will help you learn how to react most effectively when confronted with a difficult person. It will also help you recognize when you are using manipulative behavior to get your own needs met. Remember, you always have a choice as to which communication style you use. If you’re serious about taking control of your life, practice being more assertive. It will help you diffuse anger, reduce guilt and build relationships – both personally and professionally.
Begin to pay attention to which communication styles you use throughout the day. How often do you use a communication style other than assertive?
Watch and identify the communication styles some of the difficult people in your life use. Can you begin to notice how others use manipulative techniques to get their way?