How I Bought a Chandelier

And yes this has everything to do with buying and selling  hearing aids.

Times have changed. Consumers are buying en masse online and retail is feeling the effect. Read more in The Atlantic about the “Great Retail Apocalypse”.  Unfortunately, many hearing healthcare providers are failing to fully grasp how that’s impacting the hearing aid industry. If anything, hearing aid consumers are a bit behind other consumers when it comes to using the internet to research and to make a purchase.  As we age, we’re less likely to want to figure out new ways to buy what we want.    But if by learning a new trick or two, the average consumer can (in their mind) save thousands of dollars, they’ll figure it out and in a hurry.

Buying a Chandelier

Back to the chandelier…I am in the market for lights that will hang over an island. Store displays are limited, so I started my search online. I knew the color, size and shape that I wanted. Eventually I found just what I was looking for. I read the reviews about the lights and one reviewer mentioned seeing the exact same light for half the price.

I did a reverse image search and sure enough found the exact same light for more than 50% off the price of the original light, however, the manufacturer was not the same. Initially I figured the light was somehow different, so I researched the new company and found that the first company manufactures a few of its products under a different name. It sells one product line to higher end stores and one to discount stores…. same light.

I ordered 2 chandeliers that should arrive today.

Price, Quality, Quantity Pick Two

What does this mean for you? It means that your consumer is potentially online learning everything they can about hearing loss and hearing aids. By way of an example, I pulled the trigger on my chandelier purchase (all things being the same in my mind) based on price.  That does not mean I bought chandeliers for $1 a piece.  It means, I had a certain quantity that could not be changed and a certain quality that I wanted.  I would’ve paid the original price but I was willing to spend time searching for the lowest price possible.  Something that the Internet makes extremely easy to do.  And if it works for other purchases they’ve been making, why wouldn’t they at least consider trying the same approach for a product that costs thousands of dollars?

Purchasing decisions are based on selecting 2 of the following 3 options (price, quality and quantity).  You can select 2 of those options, but not all 3.

If you can’t compete on price

And you can’t compete on quantity (you are selling either 1 product or 2 products)

Quality is all you have left.

Educate them about the benefits of seeing you and why they shouldn’t buy hearing aids online. Amazon sells hearing aids online and Alibaba, Amazon’s biggest competitor sells hearing aids from China.

I am your demographic and if I was in the market for a hearing aid, I would take the same approach to purchasing a hearing aid that I did to purchasing a chandelier.  You need to give me compelling reasons not to treat a hearing aid purchase in the same way that I would treat the purchase of a chandelier. In fact, if you can’t give me a list of 5 reasons that I shouldn’t buy my hearing aids online for the lowest price I can find, then you have a problem that needs to be resolved today.

3 Ways to Get Around Any Objection in Sales

When was the last time you walked away from a client meeting with no deal? Losing a deal to a competitor is not always a negative situation, but seldom is it the desired outcome.

If you could give one reason why your customer did not choose your service or product, what would it be? In most cases the answer will be rooted in one issue: The failure to overcome your prospect’s objections.

Know this: There are no magic formulas. Nothing can replace an intelligent, well-trained entrepreneur, who can overcome objections in sales or negotiations.

Objections in sales, relationships, business negotiations or other areas are imminent. It’s not a matter of whether an objection will arise but rather a question of when it will occur.

There are no special powers, and this is not rocket science. Simply put, if you want to earn more and close more sales, you need to do the following:

  1. Get in front of more prospects than your competitors.
  2. Know how to close the deal by overcoming objections.
  3. Deliver your message in a clear, straightforward manner.

Also Read: The Best Way to Improve Client Relations and Manage Employees

Of course, there are some other steps between points one and three but for simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on these.

1. Be an active listener.

Listening is one of the most underutilized skills. Active listening means we are mentally noting the objections, agreements and compromises while we continue acknowledging the person speaking.

Be genuine, and invest in learning to listen more efficiently. If we learn and master the skill of active listening, we will experience greater success in sales and in life.

2. Be an effective communicator.

During your next conversation, pay particular attention to see if the other person you are talking with gives you an opportunity to respond to their statement. If you deliver your pitch without giving the other person a chance to respond to you, you are cheating yourself out of an opportunity to answer objections early on in the process.

3. Be flexible.

This applies to you only if you have the freedom to make decisions. If you are restricted from offering price concessions or customizing packages, your freedom to be flexible may be significantly hindered. But, if you do have the ability to make decisions, find a way to do it. In many cases, it is better to bend in a deal than break the whole deal down and lose it altogether.

Also Read: The Top Tactic All Successful Salespeople Use

 

from Entrepreneur.com

Who Isn’t Your Customer?

Who Are You Selling To?

Or maybe a better question to ask would be,

“Who are you not?”

You’ve been taught to think that demographically hearing impaired people over the age of 50 or 55 are your target market. But how well do you track the demographics of who actually buys hearing aids from your practice? My guess is that you focus on what brought a patient to your office and you analyze what happens once they cross your threshold.

  • Did they buy?
  • How many units did they buy?
  • What was the average selling price?
  • What was the cost of goods?
  • What brought them to your office?

But there are a host of other qualitative factors that should be analyzed including,

  • Patient age
  • Discrimination score
  • Degree of loss

Who Isn’t Your Customer?

You should also be analyzing who comes into your office and not just to determine why they walked out without doing anything about their problem. Gather data on who they are,

  • Their age
  • Zip Code
  • Degree of Loss
  • Discrimination Scores

There are any number of ways to group individuals, for example, gender, race and employment status also come to mind. You may find (if you dig deeper) that your customer is a much smaller segment of your target market. If that’s the case it might be time to change things up a bit regarding your marketing. Figure out what you have that’s working and for whom. Then experiment with marketing designed for a different niche of your target market.

The ratio of people who wear hearing aids to the number of people who need hearing aids has changed very little over the past 20 years.   It’s time to look at everything you’re doing differently or 5, 10, 20 years from now you’ll still only be providing better hearing to 20% of the people who need what you do.

How to Write the Most Effective Sales Emails

Two weeks ago we discussed how it’s do or die when it comes to following digital marketing leads. One way of doing this is to begin emailing prospects that come up by digital leads. Emailing a prospect for the first time can be a little scary. Getting off on the right foot and providing value are both critical for success … but these things are easier said than done.

So what should you be writing to pique a prospect’s interest? You’re no doubt careful to avoid phrases that kill an introductory email, but which ones spark a conversation?

As seen at Hubspot, below are 17 phrases to include in your introductory email that create a connection with your prospect.

1. “After researching your business … ”

Alerting the prospect that you’ve spent time researching their business sparks their interest and improves your credibility right off the bat.

2. “Hi [name],”

My colleague recently received an email that started with, “Dear [contact first name].” Needless to say, she didn’t respond. Including the recipient’s name in your email is a great way to grab their attention early, and make it clear that this email is specifically meant for them.

3. “It looks like you’re attempting to do [X]. Is that correct?”

Asking about changes you’ve noticed sparks a meaningful conversation about the prospect’s goals and overarching strategy. For example, did the prospect recently unveil a blog redesign? Has their company posted a new position on the job board? Ask about the shift, and how it figures into the company’s plan.

4. “Why did you decide to download our resource?”

When an inbound lead downloads a piece of content, “Why?” is a natural question. Asking“Why?” allows the prospect to explain the problem they are attempting to solve. Armed with this information, the rep can better help the prospect and provide value.

5. “What’s your top priority right now?”

Identifying the prospect’s top priority provides you the opportunity to dig deeper into that goal. With better knowledge of the prospect’s most pressing priorities, you can showcase the value of your product in a way that resonates with their struggles and aligns with their goals.

6. “How can I help?”

The best sales reps today adhere to ABH — Always Be Helping — instead of ABC. In a crowd of pushy, self-centered salespeople, a rep who strives to serve first is refreshing. Include this phrase in your email to set it apart from the rest.

7. “I really enjoyed … ”

According to Professor Norihiro Sadato, “To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money.” Not only does a compliment improve a prospect’s mood, but it is likely to elicit a response when included in a sales email. The more specific, the better.

8. “I read what you wrote/shared/commented on on social media and was wondering … ”

Asking a thoughtful question about a topic the prospect is interested in is an easy way to spark a conversation. If a prospect is writing, posting about, or commenting on a given topic on social media, they’re likely looking to discuss it further.

9. “I’m curious to get your thoughts on … ”

Presenting a prospect with clear next steps keeps the conversation moving forward. With an introductory email, your ask should be small, such as reading a blog post and sharing their thoughts,  or taking a few minutes to answer a question.

10. “Have you ever thought about doing X?”

Instead of giving orders, try piquing the prospect’s interest and asking a question around what they’re hoping to achieve. There is more than one way to solve a problem. And as a sales rep, you can present options the prospect might not be aware of.

Sales reps should always strive to give more than they receive. Providing a quick strategy tip or insight can get the conversation flowing and immediately boosts the rep’s credibility.

11. “I have an idea about … ”

Different phrase, same idea. Who doesn’t love free advice? This is an easy way to engage the prospect in a meaningful conversation about a hot topic.

12. “Congratulations on … ”

Promotions and job changes are some of the most valuable trigger events for salespeople. Congratulating your prospect on accepting a new role or moving to a different company can quickly turn into a sales conversation if you play your cards right.

13. “For more information, check out… ”

Including links to relevant blog posts or research reports at the end of your email makes it easy for the prospect to discover more information on potential solutions to their specific problems, and positions you as someone who wants to help.

14. “[Mutual Connection] mentioned me to that … ”

As it turns out, you’re 4.2 times more likely to get an appointment if you share a personal connection with a prospect. By referencing someone you both know you can improve the likelihood of a response, and ultimately spark a meaningful conversation.

15. “How do you know [mutual connection]?”

Similar to the phrase above, referencing a mutual connection can be very beneficial in starting up an exchange. A shared connection helps you build credibility, and gives you a natural “in.”

16) “Did you know that … ?”

By sharing interesting data with a prospect, the rep can position themselves as a source of valuable information. And if the data sheds light on a problem the prospect is struggling with? You’ve struck gold.

17) “What did you think of … ?”

By asking a potential buyer’s thoughts about a recent industry event or news, you’re not only starting a conversation with the prospect, but you’re also gathering vital information in regards to where they stand on certain issues.

While every prospect is going to respond differently to your email, certain phrases increase the chances that your message will hit home and elicit a response. Instead of worrying about messing the email up, try focusing on making it great. These phrases can help.

It’s Do or Die When It Comes to Following Digital Leads

For your small business, following up leads is everything, especially internet marketing leads. Digital marketing is a big shift for small business, but it’s a leap you need to make in order for your business to survive. Grant Cardone from Entrepreneur.com explains further below.

Digital-media advertising is now bigger than national-TV advertising and is expected to exceed total TV advertising spending by 2018. This shift to digital is driving an unprecedented number of customers to websites and landing pages. This is also creating new problems and bigger opportunities for entrepreneurs that can figure out how to effectively respond to these prospects.

How big is the opportunity? Well, have you ever reached out to a business’s website, filled out a form showing interest only to be completely ignored? Of course you have. In fact, 65 percent of all companies admit that they have no process to nurture leads.

Not sure about where to start with digital marketing? We’re here to help.

This is a huge follow-up problem. Did you know 44 percent of all sales people give up after one follow-up call? Who allows this to happen? Companies that nurture leads have 47 percent higher profit margins than companies that do not. This means prospects put the value on quick response, not on lowest price.

Smaller businesses and solo entrepreneurs often point the finger to limited infrastructure to handle follow up, but the reality is if you are a small-business owner, this is where you need to invest in order to survive.

Why do salespeople and companies fail to follow up? Many common reasons they don’t follow up are: because there are too many leads, leads are cold by the time they get to them, and there’s no organized process for follow up.

The reality is there is no commitment to follow up. The culture of your company has made it OK not to follow up. Now, in defense of the sales team, if your salespeople don’t know how to effectively follow up, what to say, how to text, when to email, when to call, when to offer more information or simple things like how to get the lead on the phone, then how can you even make a second call, much less the five to 12 calls necessary to convert the Internet lead to a purchase?

This problem is your opportunity and I know how to make it your new best friend. Follow these three steps:

  1. Share the facts about lead response and follow up with your team:

Average response time for an Internet lead is 44 hours.

65 percent of all companies don’t nurture the lead.

Only 25 percent of all salespeople make two contact attempts.

It requires eight follow up attempts just to qualify the lead.

80 percent of all transactions require five to 12 follow-ups.

If you include texting in your response, you increase your conversion rate by 40 percent. When effectively used, texting can improve conversion by over 100 percent.

  1. Make a commitment to follow up at your company. This is about your culture and can only be the decision of executive management.
  1. Give your staff a very precise schedule and actions for each follow up attempt using a variety of means. A schedule might look like this:

Automated response within five minutes. “Thank you. Someone will be right with you.”

Text message or email (text preferred) response with information overload and terms guarantee.

A same-day call from quality service.

Same-day email message. “Please call me immediately regarding your interest. I have a way for you to take advantage of great savings.”

The management call. “What can we do to earn your business?”

If you still fail to convert the lead, you must create an exact follow-up process from day two through the next 12 months. Don’t just write it off.

Stop struggling. Take advantage of this opportunity to differentiate yourself in today’s market. Create a solid follow-up system and make it part of your culture. Follow up or die out.

3 Sales Strategies to Steer Your Patient Away from Price

It may seem as though price is one of the largest factors when making sales, but, interestingly, studies show that the typical salesperson is a lot more concerned about price than the typical customer is. Yet new salespeople still seem to love to talk about price!  All that talking about price focuses your patient’s attention on it, even if they weren’t overly concerned with cost at the beginning of the interaction. Hearing aids can be very expensive and it may be hard not to touch on the price, but there are many ways to take your patient’s attention away from price and focus it elsewhere that will help you make the sale.

Smart salespeople handle price as if it were a minor consideration. Of course, when your patient makes it an issue, you need to deal with it effectively. But even then, effective salespeople try to minimize its importance.

Follow these three Hubspot tips during your next sale to minimize the importance of price while still maintaining a healthy margin.

1) Focus on benefits, not features or price.

The best way to convey to your patient that your product is the most appropriate solution to their problem (regardless of price) is to focus all your attention on the benefits. Never assume that a prospect fully understands the benefit of a feature — always point it out and expand on it. The more benefits you apply to the patient’s needs or wants, the more often you’re able to show them what’s in it for them if they choose to partner with you.

2) Build value and then work to deliver it.

When you create value in the eyes of your buyer, the product or service you’re offering becomes more desirable, and price becomes less important. By establishing value early on, you can actually make a higher price work for you as a competitive advantage. Sensible buyers realize that with most purchases, you get what you pay for, and when you do present your price, it can make a statement about the quality of your product.

Use the appointment as an opportunity to pinpoint exactly what the patient considers valuable in a solution, and adjust your offerings to meet that criteria. Price becomes less of an issue when a prospect sees that their problem will be solved.

Are you providing your patients with the best customer service? Here are 9 ways to up your customer service game.

3) Present your price confidently — and stick to it.

Success in sales will be driven by two essential factors: margin and volume. In order to maintain your profit margin, it’s necessary to present your price with confidence and stand firm on it. And to deal with price-cutting attempts, you’ll need to get comfortable responding to the phrase “your price is too high.” Try following up with these replies:

  • “Let me tell you why our price is where it is.” At this point, repeat each of the benefits your product provides and the emotional costs your prospect will save by partnering with you.
  • “Let me explain how each of the things we’ve discussed will help you.” Expand on the benefits they’ll receive and the emotional relief you’ll provide them.
  • “We can work to give you a better price. But to do that, we’ll have to remove some of the components we’ve discussed. Which would you like to eliminate?” Your prospect will likely not want to remove or reduce any of the benefits you’ve provided. When you use this as your last option, you’d be surprised at how often a prospect will find a way to make the price work.

By focusing less on price and more on the value you are able to provide your patient, you can keep your buyer’s attention on what they’re ultimately concerned with — finding the right solution. After that, it’s just details.

Are ALL of your employees selling efficiently? Even if they’re not “salespeople,” they should be selling, read more about why here.

Are You Setting Your Business Apart?: Tips to Effectively Sell

What do you offer to your clients that make you stand out from your competitors? Now, are potential customers aware of this? If they’re not then you’re not effectively selling your product or services. If you don’t even know what makes you better than your competitors, then, let’s be honest, you need to figure it out.

What Sets You Apart?

Entrepreneur magazine sums it up best. “ A USP stands for “unique selling proposition.” It’s the thing that makes you unique in the marketplace—it’s what customers can get from you that they can’t find anyplace else. Having a clear USP gives you a clear response for these questions:

  • How are you unique?
  • In what way are you different from your competitors?
  • Why should I buy from you, rather than from someone else?
  • Why should I care at all about you or anything you sell?”

Maybe you don’t know what can make you unique from your competitors? Here are some things that can give you a niche that you may have overlooked:

  • The buyer you serve
    • Do you sell to a specific age group? Gender? Religion? Do they have a specific problem that you can fix?
  • What you sell
    • Is your product unique in some way? Are YOU the thing for sale and your personality is what sets you apart?
  • You have an unusual angle
    • Are you available when no one else is, such as on holidays or around the clock? Do you promise a specific outcome or unusual level of service? Maybe a unique payment plan?
  • What your product or servicedoes not do
    • A perfect example of this is when food products advertise that they contain no GMOs. Is there something your product does not contain or do? Is there something you will never do while providing a service, like never being late?
  • The time frame around your offer
    • Do you promise results within a set amount of time or for a set amount of time?
  • How you guarantee your product
    • Do they get results or their money back? Do you offer an extended warranty?

And How Do You Sell It?

Chris Brogan, consultant, CEO, and master seller gives great advice. “You’d be surprised what goes into really good selling. It’s not all that complex, though there are mountains of things you have to learn to make this work better and better. I’ll tell you what I’ve learned are the elements of good selling:

  • Know who you serve and what they want. If you don’t know your buyers, you don’t really have a product or service, do you?
  • Know what you sell and who will most benefit from it. And by this, I mean with clarity. Know what exactly the rewards of owning what you sell will be. Know how to explain this to people.
  • Master the buying cycle. Selling a house is way different from selling software. Selling deals is trickier than selling insurance. Some take more time. Some take less. Learn it yourself, and/or ask others who sell what you sell for their tips on a buying cycle.
  • Master their language. People won’t buy if they think what you sell isn’t for them. It took us months (maybe years) to nail down how to talk about what we offer. “Simple plans for business success” is what we say, but those five words have a LOT of meat tucked into them. But what matters most about them is that the people we serve (you) helped us define what that means.”

Should You Under Promise & Over Deliver?

“Under promise and over deliver” is a common sales concept that most people have heard of but what does it really mean?  And is it something you should aspire to?

As defined by McGraw-Hill, “under promise and over deliver” is a service strategy in which service providers strive for excellent customer service and satisfaction by doing more than they say they will for the customer or exceeding customer expectations.

Is This a Good Idea?

No.

At first, this strategy seems to have merit. Over-delivering on customer expectations would raise customer satisfaction and be good for business. But when you delve deeper, there are two main reasons why this is not a good business practice.

  • To under promise and over deliver, you must first under promise. This means that through your advertising mix you are communicating a lower level of service or product benefits. Right off the bat, this will reduce the number of customers your business is attracting. Potential clients don’t know that your plan is to over deliver on your promises, how would they? This, in turn, also dramatically increases your customer acquisition costs.
  • Customers’ expectations are not static. Think about it. Say you order a pizza from your local pizza place. They promise to have your pizza to you in 45 minutes, but it comes to you in 30 minutes. You’re really happy with this outcome, and you’re motivated to order again. When you order again, the same thing happens. Now your expectations evolve and rise. With your next and all future orders, you’re going to expect your pizza in 30 minutes based on prior experience, even though they promise it in 45. You’ll quickly go from being highly satisfied with their service to simply satisfied or possibly dissatisfied when your new expectations are not met, even though they’ve technically “over-delivered” with every order.

There are no long-term benefits of under-promising and over-delivering. It is a strategy that limits customer growth and provides only short-term customer satisfaction benefits.

If you believe in the merits of the product you are selling or the service you deliver, then expound on the capabilities of the product or the advantages of the service. To keep customers highly satisfied, you must continue to deliver more value because their expectations will keep increasing. If you set the tone from the start of under-promising and over-delivering, then your customer is going to expect that same experience of getting more than promised with every interaction.  You are setting yourself up to fail and for your customer to be disappointed. A better method might be to deliver on your promises.

Don’t make a promise you can’t keep and keep the ones you make.

How to Handle the Seasonal Aspect of Your Business

We have clients in every corner of the United States.  We understand that there is a seasonal aspect to this business.  Snowbirds leave the Northeast (lessening the 65+ population in that area) and head for warmer climates starting as early as October and for some extending their stay well into April.  The warmer climates experience the same trend in reverse from April through October.

The northern states must plan for weather that is too cold and snowy.  The southern states must plan for high temperature for days or for weeks on end.

So, What’s Your Plan?

If you don’t have a plan, then start with these 5 ideas.  They may or may not be the solution, but sitting around worrying about the “slow” months probably isn’t going to solve anything either.

Contingency Plans

It’s always a good idea to have a Plan B for everything.  But a Plan B is essential if you’re planning a marketing event.  An Open House in mid March in Connecticut can easily be ruined by a freak snow/ice storm.  Incorporate a “weather emergency” date as part of all your planned events.

Patient Recall

Probably, never a popular “to-do” for any of your employees, your patient recall goals can and probably should fluctuate.  Set higher goals during the months you know will be slow.  Lower the goals during the busier months when you know your staff will also be busier.

Tested Not Sold

They’re just sitting there.  Piles (well hopefully not piles) of patient’s who walked.  Use your slow time to contact these patients.  You already know they’re good candidates.  Don’t be a wimpy, don’t send a letter, pick up the phone and call them.

Planning

Ideally your advertising and marketing should be planned out months ahead.  Use the slow months to plan.  If you wait until things get hectic, odds are the planning process will more closely resemble “hurry up and get it done” and less, “let’s base this on historical data, trends and goals”.

Go Where the Business Is!

You know they’re out there, assisted living centers, nursing homes and skilled care facilities.  If patients can’t come to you because of the weather, then you need to consider going to them.  Just make sure you don’t start something you can’t continue once the weather is more favorable.

Same Old Routine

After selling the same thing day in and day out we tend to become blasé about the customer, the product and the benefits.  I don’t want to insinuate that you’ve become burned out from your job.  But in all likelihood after repeating the same things over and over and hearing the same stories over and over, parts of your day have become routine.  And the minute something becomes routine, we start to take short cuts.

The problem with this scenario is that the hour you’re about to spend with a new patient is anything but routine for them.  In all likelihood it took at lot of courage on their part to make the appointment and possibly even more to show up at all. 

Start the visit by acknowledging the effort it took for them to show up.  Remind yourself of this simple fact before you enter the exam room.  Then take the time to say thank you for coming in and then launch into your routine.  It’ll change your outlook about each patient.  More importantly it will provide an immediate positive connection to each patient.   How many times have you taken a significant step in the right direction (losing weight, quitting smoking…)?  I’m sure you genuinely appreciated any positive feedback you received from friends and family.  Your patient should expect no less from you.