Latest "Business Growth" Posts

6 Strategies To Develop A Great Sales Conversation

You can sell the best products, have all the knowledge in the world, and be sitting in front of the most qualified customers, but if you cannot deliver a meaningful and engaging sales conversation, you will never get the sale. A productive sales conversation is a powerful tool as it engages your customers, provides you […]

[Click to read more]

6 Strategies To Develop A Great Sales Conversation

Man and Woman ConversationYou can sell the best products, have all the knowledge in the world, and be sitting in front of the most qualified customers, but if you cannot deliver a meaningful and engaging sales conversation, you will never get the sale.

A productive sales conversation is a powerful tool as it engages your customers, provides you with valuable information and sets you apart from your competition. In fact, it is your best shot to stand out from your competition. Customers who feel heard, understood and validated are far more motivated to buy.

Building sales conversations are about ensuring you have the steps in place to meet the needs that are most foundational to a strong sales conversation.

Below are six strategies in developing great sales conversations with your clients:

  1. Build rapport – customers buy from people they like – period. So, for them to like you, your customers have to feel connected to you. Building rapport is about merely taking a sincere interest in your customer. An interest that goes beyond the business at hand. I always love to know how my customers got started working in their field. Alternatively, what do they enjoy doing in their spare time? Give it a try, take a minute now and then, come up with one or two questions that you could use to establish rapport.
  2. Explore the opportunities – next, you need to start asking those open-ended questions that will help you understand where your customers’ pain point is or where their opportunities lie. You cannot sell anything until you know your customers’ goals and their obstacles.
  3. Transition to value – with their pain point established, it is time to validate that you heard their challenge and understood it. Next, you can transition to value. Value is about the solutions you have (i.e.) products that will solve the issue. In a sales conversation, you have to position your products as solutions to the problem or opportunity you and your customer have identified.
  4. Listen to resistance – invite your customers to ask questions, challenge your ideas and resist the idea of purchase. In this part of the sales conversation, it is important to slow down, not talk, just listen. If you listen to the resistance, you will understand how to approach the next step.
  5. Create the vision – now is your time to create the vision. Resistance happens because customers are still unsure of the value, or what difference your product or service will make for them. If your customer is challenged by a lack of cash flow, and the inability to meet financial deadlines. You may offer a line of credit that eases the burden and provides cash at times when they most need it. However, your customer is still worried – worried about paying fees, becoming dependent on the line or their ability to pay it down as the product requires. So, creating the vision would be helping them to see how much more time they would have to generate more revenue or develop efficiencies in their business if they did not have to worry about cash flow.
  6. Plan for success – the end of every sales conversation either ends with a sale or with the seed planted to continue to have more sales conversation. More often it is about planting the seeds. A closed sale is the result of many sales conversations that follow this exact pattern.

So now it is your turn, follow the steps, put them into action, and you will create a strong sales conversation.

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

Posted by Meridith Elliott Powell in Business Growth, Sales Tips and tagged , , , ,

Five Strategies To Increase Product Knowledge

You know what they say – knowledge is power. So that is indeed true when it comes to selling and even more so when you are selling financial services. It is not going to come as any surprise that if you want to sell effectively, you must have a strong understanding of the products and […]

[Click to read more]

Five Strategies To Increase Product Knowledge

5 Strategies to Increase KnowledgeYou know what they say – knowledge is power. So that is indeed true when it comes to selling and even more so when you are selling financial services. It is not going to come as any surprise that if you want to sell effectively, you must have a strong understanding of the products and services you offer, and more importantly precisely how those products benefit your customers.

Product knowledge is an ongoing process and something you will continue to do to increase your effectiveness as a salesperson. No one, not even the best salespeople, ever wholly master product knowledge.

However, product knowledge is so valuable, it increases your confidence as a salesperson and your customers’ trust that you are the right person to serve their needs.  Customers today come armed with their level of product knowledge. The internet and competition have created a more educated consumer base, and that is all the more reason we need to know more than our customers do about the services we offer.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

So what do we need to know about products?

First, how your product adds value. Remember customers buy benefits not features. (article) A customer buys a diet cola not because it has zero calories (feature) but because it will not make them gain weight (benefit.) Product knowledge is about understanding the result your customers gain from the products you offer.

Second, how your products differ from your competitors. Remember, customers have done their homework, and if you cannot provide a compelling reason to buy a product from you over your competitor then neither will your customers.

And lastly the details. You need a good grasp of how your product works, the pricing structure and any other benefits your customers get with their purchase. Customers expect you to know the basics.

Once you understand what you need to know, it is time to build your product knowledge.

Five Strategies To Increase Your Product Knowledge for Sales Success:

  1. Invest the Time – to learn about your products and services. You can read the literature, take some online courses or talk with more experienced salespeople. Any strategy you want to use will work to increase your product knowledge you need to invest the time.
  2. Get the Basics – You will never master product knowledge because most organizations offer many different products and some of these products tend to evolve. So you need to understand the natural flow of product knowledge. If you learn the basics first, the easier it will be to follow the rest. Customers expect you to know the basics; they will understand if you need to get back with them on more sophisticated products.
  3. Learn the Need – understanding every detail about products can be frustrating, so learning the need products solve is a better way to go. For example, even after years selling financial services, I struggle to get the details of factoring or lines of credit, but I understand when my customers have a cash flow timing difference both those products will solve their problems. You may not know the details of how a Trust works, but you can understand when a customer is thinking about transferring wealth that this product is vital in estate planning.

In financial services, many of the products we offer our customers are actually “sold” by real specialists. Our job in product knowledge is more about understanding the needs our products and services provided.

  1. Role Play – okay I can hear you moaning from here, and I get it, no one likes to role play. However, it is one of the best ways to learn product knowledge. You play the customer, your co-worker plays the sales professional, and you only pick the product to have the conversation.

Think of role play as spending the time to practice on how you would present products, how you would identify the need; plus, it provides you the freedom to try new things and build your confidence.

  1. Jump In – finally, don’t wait, just jump in. The most important line you need to have in your product knowledge arsenal is “let me find out more about that, and I will follow-up with you.” Customers do not need you to know every little thing. However, they do expect you to be a resource.

Product knowledge gives you an edge when it comes to selling financial services. Also, while you may never completely master all the products and services you offer, this is enough for you to take off the training wheels and get started!

Interested in learning more about how to sell financial services? Then check out my new LinkedIn Learning Course – “How to Sell Financial Services.” This power-packed course has everything you need to know about how to master the art of sales!

The link to my Linkedin Learning Course “How to Sell Financial Services” is here:
https://www.linkedin.com/learning/sales-selling-financial-products-and-services

and on Lynda.com:
https://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-tutorials/Sales-Selling-Financial-Products-Services/659273-2.html

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

Posted by Meridith Elliott Powell in Business Growth, Sales Tips and tagged , , , ,

Customer Service – The difference between Poor to Great

One CRITICAL Step to Get Employees on Board My work as a business coach and sales and service speaker has me traveling quite a bit. I often must run errands and take care of family business while on the road. This past week, in between speaking engagements in South Carolina, I needed to pick-up a […]

[Click to read more]

Customer Service – The difference between Poor to Great

Image of Grumpy CashierOne CRITICAL Step to Get Employees on Board

My work as a business coach and sales and service speaker has me traveling quite a bit. I often must run errands and take care of family business while on the road. This past week, in between speaking engagements in South Carolina, I needed to pick-up a graduation card for my nephew. Luckily for me, I quickly found a CVS pharmacy and pulled right into parking lot and headed in to make a purchase.

As I selected the card and headed to the counter, I noticed a long line and one poor customer service person handling it all. Now I know she was a “poor” service person because of the irritated look on her face and the story she shared with every customer in line. Here is what she said: “I am sorry for the long line, CVS says they want to improve customer service, but they keep cutting our staff. They are so greedy.”

So now let’s think about this. Ten customers were standing in line, each waiting their turn and listening repeatedly that CVS is understaffed and greedy. What kind of impression does that make, and what kind of brand is CVS creating? I dare say not the one they want.

Now visualize how much CVS, and other corporations are spending on marketing, advertising, sales training, and big customer initiatives. Vast amount of money is being spent, immeasurable decisions are being made, and big ideas are being undertaken in the name of improving customer experience and increasing revenues; all the while overlooking the most critical factor in the customer experience. The element that is going to decide whether the customer service experience improves or falls flat. That element is the employee.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” ~ Richard Branson

Oh, I do not mean that employees do not know, that employees are not sent to training, and that employees are not needed to perform these new tasks. I’m implying that they are not involved, not engaged and not on board. Therefore, they are not “really” improving customer service.

So why if we are spending all that money, engaging all the experts, and implementing the right programs; we are still getting employees who act like that “poor” CVS customer service rep? Because we miss the one critical step that ensures we get our employees on board.

The one critical step? Get your employees involved about customer experience right from the start. You can tell your employees what they need to do, but you need to ask them how to do it. Employees support what they help create. If you want your employees to implement your customer service strategy truly then you need to give them a voice in the process. Get them on board early, help them understand why customer service is important and then include their ideas in the strategy.

Engaged employees outperform their competition and in a gallup survey shows that there is a connection between engaged employees and customer satisfaction!

Getting them involved, giving them a voice gets them motivated, engaged and a reason to take ownership. (source – Forbes) Besides, they live this day-in and day-out and they have great ideas!

All the money in the world, all the best experts and all the latest ideas and techniques will never do as much to help you improve customer service as taking the one critical step you need to get your employees on board. Great customer service begins on the front lines of your company and considering this one crucial step will make sure your frontline staff has the same goal in mind as your top executives.

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

Posted by Meridith Elliott Powell in Business Growth, Employee Engagement and tagged , , , ,

Chasing The Elusive Dream Of Work-Life Balance

Four Vital Lessons I Learned From Taking Time Off I just took a month off from work, an entire month where I made the decision to go have fun, travel (to Southeast Asia) and not to focus on growing my business. Okay I will admit, I did still answer some emails, and I did make […]

[Click to read more]

Chasing The Elusive Dream Of Work-Life Balance

Four Vital Lessons I Learned From Taking Time Off

Chasing The Work Life BalanceI just took a month off from work, an entire month where I made the decision to go have fun, travel (to Southeast Asia) and not to focus on growing my business. Okay I will admit, I did still answer some emails, and I did make some sales calls, but again, I was for the most part MIA (missing in action) from my business.

This is my second year in a row doing this. Giving myself permission to turn off my entrepreneurial drive for two full months per year. Even though the idea scared me to death the first year, I decided to do it as an experiment just to see what would happen. What would happen if I took my foot off the gas and focused my attention elsewhere? To my surprise in 2017 the result was that my business increased by thirty percent. We will see what happens at the close of 2018.

So why did I decide to do this? Well, like most of you who run your own business, or are part of a team that is driven to succeed, I work all the time. I never turn it off. Now I love what I do, so this work is not something I don’t like, in fact just the opposite, it is something I have the passion for, and I am driven to do.

However, I kept reading the articles, listening to the gurus about the importance of taking time away from the business. Doing that would actually recharge my battery and increase my productivity. Also, I wanted to travel. Now that my husband has more flexibility in his work, it is the first time in our lives we can take those three and four-week vacations.

Being a life-long workaholic, I started small. Three years ago, I took my first two-week vacation half of which put me in a location with no Internet access. When my business did not suffer, it motivated me to take it a step further. In 2017 the goal was to take one month off, and I chose May (one of my historically busiest months.) When the world did not come crashing down, and I actually realized how much I enjoyed my month away, I decided to take December off too. When my accountant told me at year-end that my business actually went up, I was sold on this idea of giving myself permission to chase this elusive dream of work-life balance.

Now I don’t really believe in balance nor am I striving for it. I think a smarter goal is to know what you want out of life both professionally and personally, then merge those together in a way that has you feeling excitement whether you are doing either. For me, I had found that in my professional life, there were goals and things I wanted to do personally that I needed time away from my business to achieve.Chasing Work Life Balance

Here are Four Vital Lessons I Learned From Taking Time Off

Re-Charging My Most Important Muscle – I have always heard that the brain is a muscle and it needs time to rest and to recharge. That is just like any other muscle in our bodies, we can overuse it and stretch it too much. Working seven days a week year in and year out I am guilty of that. By giving myself the time to walk away from the day-in, day-out need to produce, I find this important muscle is so much stronger and ready to work once I get back in the professional chair. The month after I return from my extended vacation, I find is my most creative and productive.

Paradigm Shift – walking away from my business for a full-month and shifting my focus to physical exercise and cultural experiences have given me the opportunity to see my business from a different perspective. I get a real paradigm shift when it comes to problems or challenges in my business. This is probably my most surprising lesson of the four. I had no idea how much taking time off would do for giving me room to breathe new life into my business. In this fast-paced, constantly changing marketplace, companies need to change and grow. By walking away, and taking my head out of the business space, I always come back with powerful new ideas on how to grow my business.

Getting My Priorities Straight – we all say it, that our family and friends are the most essential things in our lives, but like many entrepreneurs, my actions did not really show it. In the last two years, both my husband and I have lost our parents, and that experience has been a huge wake-up call to what really matters. When I look back on my life now, my greatest memories are never of work they are of travel with family, special occasions celebrated and time with friends. Taking this time away from my business has helped me get my priorities straight. Creating memories and experiences that I treasure and will remember for my lifetime.

Putting It In Perspective – this is my favorite lesson of all because it has taught me not to take myself too seriously. As an entrepreneur, I have always been defined by my business and what I do. I needed to get a grip and understand that there is more to life and more to me that the services I provide and the work that I do. Taking time away from my business has helped me put that into perspective. Whether my business grows from the experience or suffers a little, it just does not matter. When my career comes to an end, I want to make sure I am not that person who is lost with what to do with their life, but someone who is excited about the possibilities. These mini month-long vacations are ensuring I can put things in perspective.

One of the significant benefits of being an entrepreneur is that you set your own schedule. One of the drawbacks is that you set your own schedule. Every self-employed person I know works all the time, never really taking a vacation day and considers weekends time to catch-up. While I understand that two-months off per year may be too much for most to consider, I would challenge any of you working for yourself to find the time to chase the elusive dream of work-life balance.

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

Posted by Meridith Elliott Powell in Business Growth and tagged , , ,

Adapt to Survive

5 Strategies To Succeed No Matter What This Economy Does These past few weeks I have been traveling and working in Southeast Asia. Okay, I must confess, maybe a little more traveling than working. Between speaking engagements, I have had the opportunity to take in the culture, learn the history and embrace the uniqueness of […]

[Click to read more]

Adapt to Survive

Adapt to Survive5 Strategies To Succeed No Matter What This Economy Does

These past few weeks I have been traveling and working in Southeast Asia. Okay, I must confess, maybe a little more traveling than working. Between speaking engagements, I have had the opportunity to take in the culture, learn the history and embrace the uniqueness of this fantastic area of the world.

While touring the Cloud Forest in Singapore, I came across an amazing display of the plants, trees, and species of Southeast Asia. One area of the exhibit, in particular, caught my eye, it was entitled Adapt to Survive. This exhibit laid out how each of these had morphed, changed, and grew over the decades. They grew given the challenges and obstacles they encountered. Not a single one of them stayed in their original form, because those that did, those that resisted, were now extinct.

Just like everything does, this exhibit made me start to think about business and the challenges of today’s marketplace. I do not know I am just wired that way; everything makes me think about business.

Given the challenges in today’s marketplace, are we doing what we need to do to Adapt to Survive? What are the obstacles and challenges we are facing in today’s marketplace, and what are we doing in our businesses to morph and change? Are we facing our reality? Because if we are not we may just be on the verge of extinction.

Here are five strategies that will position you and your business to Adapt to Survive, and 5 Strategies To Succeed No Matter What This Economy Does:

  1. Understand – first and foremost, you need to understand what is going on with this economy. You need to stop, take a breath, and take an honest look at what is happening outside the four walls of your business. Survey and take a look at what is changing in the marketplace, your competition, and your customers. What changes are coming in your industry, and how is technology going to change the way you do business.
  2. Assess – next take a look at your business given with all those changes coming your way. What are you doing that is working, and what is not? Where are you competitive at and where are you not? What are you doing that are attracting customers, what are you doing that is causing you to lose them? Take a long hard look at where you are making progress and where you are holding yourself back.
  3. Grow & Expand – with the understanding that everything about this economy, your customers, and your competition has changed, and that some of your business growth strategies are no longer working, it is time for you to grow and expand. It is time to invest in your professional development and learning. You need to increase your education about what is working in this economy, following those organizations that are thriving in this economy and discovering innovative strategies that will grow and expand your business.
  4. Adjust – with this new knowledge of what strategies are working in this economy; it is time to adjust your strategy to include them. Time to integrate these strategies into your approach to attracting new customers, expanding existing relationships and gaining competitive advantage.
  5. Repeat – last, but not least you need to repeat, repeat again and again. The one thing that is constant in this economy is change. So this process of understanding what is happening with this economy, assessing what is and is not working with your strategy, investing in your growth and development, and then adjusting your strategy to include what you learned needs to be a constant.

There is so much to be learned about business, just by paying attention to what is happening in other parts of our society and more importantly what has taken place in our history. I am excited to continue on with my journey through Southeast Asia to see what else I can learn about business growth and success. Tune in to learn as I share more about the strategies you need to succeed no matter what this economy does.

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

Posted by Meridith Elliott Powell in Business Growth and tagged , , ,

© 2018 Meridith Elliott Powell. All Rights Reserved. Legal Information Sitemap