Selling – Image Marketing Consultants Explains Why You’re Not Closing

Your product or service has received wonderful reviews.  Your marketing people have gotten you in front of prospects.  But, you’re not closing those sales.  Image Marketing Consultants identifies what tends to go wrong and how you can prevent lost sales.  Here are five of those situations.

Not treating sales as separate process. Selling is where you are interacting directly with the prospect.  It is not marketing.  It is not product or service design.  The focus and skills are very different.  That’s why organizations which have the resources establish a sales force.  They are the front lines who are not attached to all that has led up to the sales call.  If you can’t afford a sales unit, then clear your head of all the other things which you usually think about in the business and devote your full attention to getting that sale.  Nothing else matters.

Not pulling out all stops identifying prospect’s needs.  Most needs are not obvious, perhaps not even to the prospect.  That’s why the most important part of the sales process is to gently ask questions.  The prospect may enter your retail operation with the intent of buying one suit for a board presentation.  However, what she really needs is a wardrobe makeover in order to appear more trim and youthful.  The salesperson who invests the time in finding that out winds up with a homerun that day and long term customer relationship.

Not doing a trial close. The purpose of a trial close is to get a feel for how the process is going.  You gently check if the prospect feels good about the product or service, the price, and other terms and conditions.  Then you ask for the sale.  When the prospect balks or simply doesn’t buy, then that’s an opportunity to reframe what you’re offering.  Some salespeople then ask, “What will it take to get this sale?” or “What’s keeping you from buying?”

Not leading prospect to point of purchase.  Most prospects need the nudge to go through that final door in the purchasing continuum.   That means, you have to, in some way, move them along.  Some salespeople do that by asking if they prefer the leaf or the shell pattern.  Others assume the sale by recommending add-ons such as a smartphone carrying case.  The bottom line on this is to be alert to where the prospect is and, if stuck at point of indecision, have tactics to move the sale to completion.

Not giving the exit signal.  Research shows that salespeople who respect their time generate not only more sales but also more revenue per sale.  If prospects remain trapped in indecision, then salespeople have to signal that they are ready to exit.  Frequently that in itself puts the prospect on a buying track.  When heading toward the exit sign, let the prospect know that the door is always open, although not necessarily with those terms and conditions.  Sometimes the prospect will realize those terms and conditions are great and buy right then.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on your sales, marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868

Nemo: What Business Did Smart, Explains Image Marketing Consultants

Nemo, the storm which hit the Northeast Corridor hard, was a crisis.  And it’s before, during, and after a crisis that businesses can have breakthroughs in revenue, profits, branding, and relationships with employees, customers, the community, law enforcement, and more.  We at Image Marketing Consultants noticed some best practices.

Having crisis plan/communications in place.  All constituencies, be they customers or employees, knew what to expect and do, no matter what could go down in the weather event.  The multi-dimensional message sent through comprehensive crisis planning was we care and we manage well.

Giving customers easy access to what they need.  Right in the front of the store, a CVS along the shoreline had not only shovels but a variety of choices, clearly marked with affordable prices.  This is one-stop shopping for whoever would have to dig out.  No one had to go off to other stores to find an appropriate shovel and compare prices.

Figuring out the right incentives.  One 24-hour call center had to be staffed, of course.  If it wasn’t fully manned, customers would likely not contact it again.  It provided attractive incentives, ranging from monetary to ritzy overnight accommodations, for employees to show up and stay as long as needed.   One manager had suggested simply providing lots of free food.  Fortunately she was ignored.

Thanking everyone in the loop. By time the storm ended early Saturday, businesses were using their social media networks, phones, and homemade signs expressing gratitude to those who had pitched in.  A plumber who had braved the snow to fix the employee restroom in a 24-hour facility was celebrated as the Hero of Nemo 2013 on the intranet.

Crisis seems the new normal in 21st century.  Those businesses which become skilled in navigating it will develop a unique kind of competitive edge.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations on marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

 

Sweet Spot – That depends, reminds Image Marketing Consultants

Valentine’s Day reminds us of the power of the “sweet spot.”  In romance when human beings aim for that sweet spot and hit it, there can be breakthroughs in relationships, ranging from healing to engagements to marry.  However, those who operate businesses often find that what they aimed at in their promotions doesn’t turn out to be the sweet spot.  The results of the campaign are disappointing.

Why does this happen?  We at Image Marketing Consultants find there are three major reasons why promotions fail.  Here they are:

Not enough research into customer needs. The cardinal rule of sales is to invest the most time in finding out what the customer needs.  At a car dealership it might be high gas mileage because of a long commute, not so much price.  The salesperson who keeps pitching price will not get that sale.

Not enough choice. If you read those credit cards offers coming in snail mail you will notice the proliferation of choices.  You can choose a shorter period for a balance transfer at no interest rate or a longer period for a low interest rate.  Reward points can be “spent” in a growing number of ways, including applying them back to pay off part of the monthly balance.  Without these choices, prospects might just toss the sales literature in the trash.

Wrong tone.  As lovers know, how something is said is everything.  The tone of business communications keeps shifting, sometimes in subtle ways.  After the wild west days of the rhetoric used in social media, communications have become more subdued.  Morever, there has to be a different tone for diverse target markets.  That’s why some companies have separate Facebook brand pages for diverse products and demographics.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, public relations, partnership, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com 203-404-4868.

When Your “Superdome” Goes Dark – 6 Crisis Communications Tips by Image Marketing Consultants

As all the world knowns, part of the Superdome went dark during the Superbowl.  And the leaders and managers at organizations like yours began wondering what would happen if their own version of a “Superdome shut-down” took place.  The first step in managing that kind of crisis – and it is a crisis – is to have your Crisis Communications Guide completed and continually up-t0-date.

In itself that plan restores a sense of order when bad things happen because everyone in the organization knows what to do, how, and when.   Here are 6 tips from Image Marketing Consultants on putting that Guide together:

Define “crisis.”  The freezer going off in a food establishment is a crisis.  So is a choking guest.  Another form of crisis is an unexpected snow storm which starts to roar outside as patrons are starting to eat.  Listing examples of crisis reassures everyone in the organizaton that leadership is in control.  Therefore there is trust in the process.

Indicate who’s in charge of what. In emergencies, human beings need leadership.  Specify who’s accountable for what, in what order should they be notified, and the contact information.

Establish one spokesperson.  All information should be given to that representative who is the only point for release of information.  No one else should comment to anyone else.

Release information as soon as it is available and has been verified. Constituencies, ranging from the media to investors, will view you as credible if you ensure they receive accurate informaton as soon as you have it.  Use all mediums for this real-time disclosure.

Be generous.  When the electronic cash registers went down in a supermarket, that event had been provided for in the crisis plan.  Check-out clerks had hand calculators and provided a percentage discount for the inconvenience.

Thank all constituencies. Acknowleging the role of others in resolving the crisis is a key public relations initiative.  It creates the platform for cooperation during the next unexpected incident.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations on all your communications and marketing needs, including public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Teasers – 3 Tips from Image Marketing Consultants

By time SuperBowl Sunday actually happens most of us will have already viewed the commercials.  Some of us will catch them on traditional television, some on YouTube, and some on media properties like BUSINESS INSIDER.  And, studies as well as expert opinion show that these “teasers,” if well done, can enhance the results advertisers get.

Using “teaser” ads and “teaser” promotions in your organization before actual campaigns can also be effective for you.  For example, you may be opening a new upscale dessert shop. Before that, you can arrange partnerships with elite retailers to distribute small samples of a gourmet cookie.  With the consumers’ permission you can video that moment of high pleasure when the indulgence meets the taste buds. Those can be shown on YouTube and your on Media Center.  In addition, local media might find them fun to cover.

Here are 3 tips from Image Marketing Consultants on how to get the biggest bang from your teasers.

Do Them Right.  Every detail about the teaser is even more important than what goes on in the actual roll-out.  That’s because, as the conventional wisdom goes, less is more.  This small amount of information or mini experience has to deliver.  Therefore, invest all the resources needed.

Get Maximum Exposure. The best-made promotion won’t help your organization unless enough people enjoy it.  That’s where partnership comes in.  You have to identify the most useful venues for the teaser.  Those with a huge budget could have the introduction of the 2014 model electric car shown in movie houses before the film.  The rest of you probably have to be focused about figuring out what organizations would partner with you because they are also getting something out of this.  For example, the gourmet cheese shop might want to be associated with a gourmet dessert startup.

Build. Both the teaser and the relationships you build provide a platform for your future marketing, partnerships, public relations, special events, and social media.  From then on, consider what you do as an outgrowth of this early effort.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultantion on all your communications needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com 203-404-4868.

Collaboration – 4 Questions Image Marketing Consultants Says to Ask

Collaboration or partnership has many benefits, ranging from lower costs to greater reach. The restaurant which structures joint promotions with local playhouses and movie theatres could attract lots of long term customers, with its partners also experiencing sustainable increases in business. However, alliances or joint ventures can also directly or indirectly produce unique problems, as the world is seeing with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  That venture has 50 partners in more than 100 locations around the world and it has encountered serious setbacks such as batteries which catch fire.

In 2010, reports the SUPPLY CHAIN QUARTERLY, McKinsey & Company, Nielsen, and the Grocery Manufactureres Association conducted its annual Customer and Channel Management Survey (CCM).  What it found was this: About 80 percent of the companies interviewed used collaboration but only twenty percent indicated that they generated results worth the effort.

In our experience, we at Image Marketing Consultants found that not every professional or organization can successfully partner.  Here are 4 questions to ask before deciding to collaborate.

Do you have the necessary expertise? Partnering increases the complexity of any initiative exponentially.  No one can enter the situation blind.  If you don’t know what you’re doing hire a consultant or an employee who does know the field. Partnerships allow you to enter new territory, but you still need guidance.

Can you identify a partner or partners which can gain as much as you from the venture?  You may be interested in increasing sales and your partner in enhancing its brandname.  The project must be structured so both can accomplish that without undermining the success potential of the other.  When the outcomes aren’t mutually satisfying, trouble starts.  That usually takes the form of delays.

Do you and the potential partners have resources for as long as the project might take?  Typically, organizations underestimate the time it takes to reach a goal.  Therefore, you must have access to more resources than you initially need.  Those could range from borrowing power to the ability to keep recruiting volunteers.

How will you measure “success?” You and your partners have to be realistic about, for example, when the venture will be expected to reach “breakeven,” that is, enough revenue coming in to equal or exceed the revenue going out. The metrics have to account for what setbacks can be tolerated.  Those might include 20 percent returns on online orders.

Kate Sirignano, founder and head of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on partnerships as well as marketing, public relations, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com 203-404-4868.

 

 

Collaboration Economy – Tips from Image Marketing Consultants on Getting the Edge

Technology has created what’s being called “The Collaboration Economy.”  Thought leader Evan Rosen explains in MIT’s TECHNOLOGY REVIEW this game-changing phenomenon.

Instead of operating alone, professionals now are pooling their  insight, analysis, and strategies through group emails, wikis, video meetings, conference calls, social networks like Facebook and Google+, commenting on articles, receiving comments on their own blogs, and sharing material with one click.  Image Marketing Consultants explains how you as a personal brand and your organization can leverage collaboration to get an edge.

Choose the right partners.  The potential obstacle with collaboration is that it tends to consume more time and patience than does working alone.  Therefore, you need to ensure there’s a payoff by including in your process only those useful to your objectives.  Partners are not created equal.

Be open.  Your partners can’t “get” how vital you are to the team unless you disclose your best thinking and hunches about strategy.  The risk of collaboration is this openness but the reward can be awesome since research and experience show that joint efforts can generate superior outcomes.  That’s why even competitors like BMW and Toyota cooperated in designing the battery for the electric car.

Don’t expect individual recognition. The enemy of superior outcomes from collaborating is the star system. Ego is a throw-back to the 20th century way of doing business.  It’s the group effort which counts, not your input.  Organizations are overhauling their cultures to recruit, develop, and retain professionals who can be a “we,” instead of a “me.”

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on how you can partner in this changing economy kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

 

 

 

Valentine’s Promotions – Harnessing the Power of Two or More, Advises Image Marketing Consultants

Valentine’s Day celebrates the power of romantic love to join together two separate human beings into a kind of joint action.

Businesses and non-profits can broaden the theme behind this holiday to bring together people to work together for a common cause.  Restaurants can partner with other local organizations to address healthy living.  Real estate agencies can work with the shelters about training those without homes in how to develop marketable skills.  And non-profits can ask school children to create symbols of what it means to be a community.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, extends to you the sweet treat of a complimentary consultation about your marketing, public relations, partnership, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

 

 

 

 

Balancing Tradition with Change – That’s Why Americans Love “Downton Abbey,” Explains Image Marketing Consultants

The ratings for British import “Downton Abbey” have been higher than they have been for that American-made return to the 1960s series “Mad Men.”  One reason is that we are learning important lessons from how the Crawley family is managing to balance tradition with change.  Those are lessons we need every day in this second decade of the 21st century to operate our organizations, both profit and non-profit.

For example, in “Downton Abbey,” we witness how the family was determined to provide for the health and financial security of their loyal servants, despite financial threats.  Likewise, through experimentation we are becoming adept at recognizing our employees’ accomplishments in ways not directly related to hefty raises and bonuses.  Our core value of valuing employees remains the same.  What has changed is the size of our financial resources.

So, instead of five-figure increments in compensation, we might be rewarding them with opportunities to develop additional skills.  The receptionist may be released several hours a week from the desk to create and post content for the website.  Or, we are rotating who attends the trade shows so that more employees can gain a deeper knowledge of the industry and develop contacts.  There may be an internal mentoring system, with senior staff having the opportunity to pick up the latest in technology from Millennials.  The latter, on the other hand, are being coached on how to converse in the language of business.

The reality is that human beings value their traditions.  The challenge is to preserve what we can as we figure out what an ever-changing economy demands.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you, in this era of turbulence, to a complimentary consultation for marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media, kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Share Economy – Image Marketing Consultants Talks About Implications for Your Organization

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL covers how The Share Economy, thanks to the Internet, is creating fresh opportunities for entrepreneurs.

The “share” concept is based on the reality that people thrive on sharing themselves, their talents, and their passions with others.  The business owners and the middlemen who facilitate that process are earning revenue and building brandnames by bringing everyone together.  Those brought together might be a woman who loves to make mac & cheese in a variety of flavors and those willing to pony up about $20 to enjoy a meal with other mac & cheese fans.

Image Marketing Consultants has these three tips on how your organization can piggyback on the sharing movement to achieve your objectives, whether they be to increase sales or raise more funds for a worthy cause.

Special Events.  Your prospects and customers/clients love to meet in person.  You might be sponsoring a complimentary seminar on retirement plans.   Invite those attending to share on your Facebook fan page their retirement dreams, through photos, videos, and/or text.  Let ’em know that materials will be on display at the seminar.  Start out the tutorial with sharing from the attendees.

Being a Connector.  Societies have always had special people able to bring together those who need to find each other.  One may be searching for a traveling companion for his aging mother and the other for a way to tour Europe for free.  Such special people were known as “connectors” or in some ethnic neighborhoods as “yentas.”  A perk you provide your customers/clients is that ability to share your contacts throughout the community beyond the focus of your business per se.  You will be in demand.

Ecommerce.  Both web and brick and mortar enterprises can be extended into new kinds of businesses based on sharing.  For example, your current focus is a mobile grooming service for dogs and cats.  In addition you can establish an exchange for certified sitters for houses, pets, children, and the elderly, with revenues derived from both facilitating the transaction and from selling advertising.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, public relations, partnership, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.