Adrian Miller, Adrian Miller Sales Training
Okay, confession time.
I’m not a techie. Not by a long shot.
I’m the one that gets nervous when error messages appear, syncing goes awry or just about anything that is “out of the ordinary” appears on my desktop. Maybe it’s because I feel that I’m out of control, that I really don’t know what is going on and surely, I can’t get it to work by myself. And, as some of you might relate, this lack of control and technical understanding is a bit of a problem for a type A personality like myself.
So when I started to write this article I sort of giggled. Because really, you don’t often see the word technology in the same sentence as Adrian. But when I stepped back a bit, I realized that even with the underlying fear (and often loathing) that pops up when things aren’t working just perfectly, I have truly drunk the cool-aide when it comes to using technology to grow my business.
So what does a non-techie, entrepreneur like myself find essential to success. Here is a short list of my current technology must-dos and must-haves:
OK, how fast are you at responding to your customers and prospects? In this day and age, responsiveness has become a critical element of sales and service, and you don’t want to be the one with the reputation for being slow. (And remember, what we consider “slow” is a whole lot different now. We are living in “internet time” and that has forever changed the meaning of the word.)
So, armed with my Treo, I can easily (and frequently) check and respond to emails and voicemail, stay on top of queries by accessing the internet (as needed), shoot a photo when the absolutely perfect scene comes into view and then immediately send it to a client, friend or prospect, fill the downtime while waiting for appointments, commuting and so forth and basically eliminate one of the key challenges of the solopreneur, that of staying in touch, on top and ahead(!) of all contacts, even while executing projects and being mobile.
Bottom-line, my PDA gives me piece of mind.
Social Networking Sites
Another confession. I am not a teenager. Yet over the past 6 months I have become a strong advocate of social networking sites such as Facebook and Linkedin.
I now consider these sites to be necessary tools to stay in touch, build my networks and make new connections. These virtual communities enable me to network with my peers in an online environment, on a global basis and I’ve also used these sites to promote my blog, press releases, and events. I can even see how they are helping me to strengthen my personal brand.
But social networking sites need to be used intelligently. I’m always conscious of what I say and do on Facebook as well as the “applications” that I choose to add to my home page. There are many business-related apps; better to select one of those rather than the highly playful, much less professional choices that might wind up to haunt you in the future.
Touch point Management
Huh! What exactly is a touch point?
Broadly speaking, it’s any type of communication with a customer or prospect. This entails everything from “value-added” emails, face-to-face meetings, snail mail, invitations to events, cyber-intros, knowledge transfer efforts (white papers, links, etc.) and more.
What happens when you don’t engage in successful touch point management? You fall off the grid that’s what, and your prospect or client can and will easily forget about you and your business. And, while they’re forgetting about you, your competition is potentially making inroads and being “present” with YOUR client.
My personal goal is always to be high touch, while remaining low pressure, to add value with every connection and ultimately guide the prospect through the sales cycle to obtain their business.
Of course, you won’t want to give every prospect the same volume of touches. Some will be more sales-worthy than others. While it doesn’t mean that you forget about those who are not as likely to buy from you, you do need to prioritize based upon specific criteria such as sales worthiness, percentage likelihood that the prospect will close, and the time frame within which they’ll close.
My personal touch point management program requires that I execute 50 touch points per day. Sound difficult? Not really, because by using the technology available I can be highly productive and time efficient.
Wait Adrian, are you nuts? Voice mail has been around forever. It really isn’t such sophisticated “technology”.
True, voicemail is not a new technology, but how we use it continues to evolve and it is vital to effective prospecting. Smart users of voicemail know the strategies to work this tool to their benefit.
What do I mean? Well, consider leaving at least 5-10 messages in the evening when (most) people have left the office. Why? Because when your client or prospect comes to work the next morning, your message will be the very first one that they hear, well before the confusion and chaos of their day begins. You have a much better chance of having your message listened to and an even better chance of getting a returned call.
These outbound messages take just a minute and so you aren’t overloading yourself with extra work in the evening. Try it. I know that every time I engage in this type of effort, the number of callbacks that I receive always surprises me.
We all need to remain in close contact with our clients and prospects (there’s that touch point management theme again!). And granted, it can be something of a chore to stay in touch and always have something new or relevant to discuss.
That’s where Google is invaluable.
Here’s what I do. My database contains lots of business (and personal) information about my clients and prospects, data that I’ve gathered through conversations, meetings and research into their companies.
I take these facts and then use Google to find information and web sites that my client and prospect will find interesting and relevant. Let’s say I know that my client is a wine collector. I do a Google search and then send my client a link to a rather obscure article on the wines of Australia, demonstrating that they are top of mind and keeping me on their radar screen in a very positive way. Sending links that are relevant to their business, provide information about a competitor, their market or industry firmly positions you as a business “resource” and helps you to retain or earn their business.
Of course there’s more, but for the non-techies out there, this is a great place to start. As for me, it’s time to check my email and see what’s going on.
See you on Facebook!
Adrian Miller is a consultant, author, speaker and President of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a training and business consulting firm that she founded in 1989.
Adrian provides customized skills training and business development programs for companies ranging from Fortune 500 firms to solopreneurs.
Her programs are well-known to be fun, fast, highly interactive and based on real-world selling situations.