The ‘Three R’s’ of Selling

I did 17 radio interviews starting at 4 a.m. and ending around noon today for my latest book, Masters of Sales. While doing one of the interviews, I was asked by a talk-show host whetherI had any ideas that her listeners might apply during the holiday season to “help consumers who will most certainly be attacked from all angles by commission-hungry sales reps who refuse to conform to the needs of the shopper!” I came up with some thoughts that I thought would be good to share here on my blog.

I called the process the “Three R’s” of buying, which are:

  1. Referrals: Whenever possible, do business by referral. Go to stores where someone has recommended the service provided by the company.
  2. Research: Do some research. Google is great. Get information in advance about what you want. The more you know about the products you are looking for, the easier it is to shop with confidence.
  3. Relationships: Get to know the sales staff of places that you shop. The stronger the relationships you have, the more confidence you have that you will get what you pay for.

When you are actually working with a sales representative, keep these things in mind:

  1. Are they asking relevant questions or are they just trying to sell you what they want to sell?
  2. Are they listening to what you are telling them that you need?
  3. Are they knowledgeable about the products or services they offer?

If they are not doing the three things listed above, find someone else. I told this to the host of the talk-show and she asked, “How do you bow out gracefully with a salesperson when you don’t want to work with them anymore?” I responded that I simply tell them, “I’ll find someone else who can help me.” She didn’t like that answer at all. She said that it was “such a ‘male’ approach” and that women won’t generally be that direct. When I later asked my wife what she does in a situation like that, she gave me some great advice for those people (men or women) who don’t want to be so “direct.” She explained that she gives her first name to the salesperson and asks for their name. When they give her their name, she says she plans on possibly buying something but needs some time to browse the floor for a while. She thanks them for their help and tells them she will find them if she needs any assistance. So tactful… I love her. I’m afraid I’m more direct.

You’re the Average of the Five People You Hang Out with Most

I just attended the international BNI Conference last week with more than 800 directors and members from almost 40 countries from around the world. It was an incredible experience that felt a little like a United Nations meeting!

One of the keynote speakers was Jack Canfield (seen to the right with Amy Brown of BNI, myself and Patty Aubrey of Chicken Soup for the Soul Inc.).

Jack shared many great stories and did an outstanding presentation (I’d highly recommend him to any organization). One of his comments really resonated with me. He said that “we are the average of the five people we hang out with most!” This comment reminded me of my belief that we become what we read and whom we hang around. This is a powerful concept great for anyone (including our children).

So, what are you reading and with whom are you hanging around? With this thought in mind, do you plan on making any changes in the near future? Good things to ponder.

I consider Jack a good friend and have an opportunity to spend a couple weeks with him every year as part of his Transformational Leadership Council. Thanks for your great presentation, Jack. You’ve given us many ideas to think about.

Recognizing Those Who Refer You

Ashley Misner and Galen Metz

This past weekend, I was at a gallery showing for my daughter’s artwork and I overheard a man saying to his wife,  “These paintings would make great thank you gifts for those two interior designers that have been sending so many people my way.”€

(Photo right is of Ashley and Galen Metz, owner of Azo Gallery)

My ears perked up when I heard this and I listened in as he continued laughingly,  “But, then again, giving art as thank-you gifts will probably put me in the poorhouse faster than it would generate more money.”

 

That man had a good point. And no–it wasn’t that buying a truckload of my daughter’s art would make him go broke; because we all know that the investment would be well worth it, even if he did have to sleep in a cardboard box. Okay, all joking aside, his point was that although thank you gifts and referral incentives are certainly an important part of building a business, it’s not always possible to give extravagant gifts that will surely keep us fresh in the minds of those who refer us.

So, what options do we have when it comes to giving good incentives to those who refer us? Well, first of all, we need to remember that incentives can range from simple recognition, such as a thank you, to monetary rewards based on business generated. However, creativity is the key to any good incentive program. Let your contact know when a referral he or she has made comes through and be as creative as you can.

There are many novel ways in which businesspeople can reward those who send them referrals. For example, a female business consultant could send bouquets of flowers to men, a music store owner could send concert tickets or a financial planner could send change purses and money clips.

To make it easier on yourself, get opinions and feedback from others who have significant interest in your success. There are lots of options for referral incentives, and you should consider all that come to mind because the value of recognizing the people who send you business should never be underestimated. A well-thought-out incentive program will add much to your word-of-mouth program.
By the way, you can see Ashley’s art at www.AshleyMisner.com. Sorry, I just had to do it.


Attitude is Everything in Networking

Last week, one of the big items on my calendar of things to do was a marathon day of radio interviews beginning at 4a.m.  As you can imagine, getting up at an hour when roosters haven’t even begun to think about warming up their vocal chords is not the most enticing of tasks.  However, after stubbing my toe in the pitch blackness and yelping out a word I won’t mention here, I remembered that as the Founder & Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization, I had agreed to do these interviews at such an outrageous hour because it is my responsibility to do whatever needs to be done to network for the organization.

Now, can you imagine what would happen if  I answered the interviewer’s first question—which is always “How are you doing today, Dr. Misner?â€?—by grumbling about how I had stubbed my toe and how I wished I was back in my warm bed?  Well, what would happen is that people would be immediately turned off by my negative attitude and nobody would listen to me.

This brings me to my point that in order to be a master networker, you must always maintain a positive attitude no matter what.  With over two decades of professional networking experience, one thing I’ve learned is how important it is to have a positive attitude in order to successfully network.  And if I’m going to go around telling other people how to discipline and train themselves to network effectively, then I darn well better be walking the walk (or at least limping along, stubbed toe and all) and maintaining the positive attitude of a master networker.

Now that I’ve told you about the second most important trait of a master networker, I figure might as well give you the other nine.  Here they are, ranked in order of their perceived importance to networking:

1. Follows up on referrals
2. Positive attitude
3. Enthusiastic/motivated
4. Trustworthy
5. Good listening skills
6. Networks always
7. Thanks people
8. Enjoys helping
9. Sincere
10. Works their network.  

“Happy” Networking!

Honor the Event

I had a conversation recently with a new BNI member who expressed that she has always been somewhat uncomfortable networking because she’€™s always been afraid of sounding like she’€™s being pushy, and she has a hard time knowing when it’s even €œOK to approach the subject of business with other people.I told her what I’€™ve said countless times over the years to many other people–that the absolute key to networking appropriately is making sure to always honor the event.

You can network any time and any place, but as long as you are honoring the event, there is nothing to be afraid of.However, this means that in some cases you are going to network a lot differently than you would in other cases.For example, networking at a chamber mixer is one thing, while networking at church social event is something completely different.


It is essential to understand that networking does not mean that you should constantly be trying to sell people your products or services. Networking does mean that you should constantly build relationships. The best way to build relationships is to help someone whenever possible.


In order to appropriately network at a church social event, for example, you should make contacts, put people together, help others and build relationships.However, you should not be actively promoting your business.You should simply focus on putting people together and helping others.


Always keep your networking goals in sight at all events and opportunities, but don’€™t become a networking vulture or someone that everyone else runs from when they see you coming. Honor the event and tailor your networking strategies so that you fit in without being tuned out.


Always be sincere; and remember that no one minds the opportunity to exchange information that will benefit one or more people, even when that exchange takes the form of helping someone..

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