Category: sales

Eight ways to be better on the phone

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I believe that the telephone/smartphone is essential for every marketing program, as we interact with people on the phone every day. I think that we can all get better at contacting people by phone, and making better use of the phone in promoting our business. This includes writers and editors, as we still need to reach potential clients.

So, here are my top 8 tips on making more effective use of the telephone in marketing your services-oriented business:

  1. Start with people you know, such as past and current clients. People like hearing your voice, particularly when they know you, and it is a good way to remind them that you are available and present.
  2. Call with an obvious purpose – to get together, catch up, discuss a project, ask for advice, do research, etc. (do not call “just to chat” or “to see how they are doing”). Other ideas include:
    – You are new in town or you have a new business or product/service.
    – You are doing research on an important topic.
    – You want to invite the person to join your newsletter or receive information.
  3. Create a benefit-oriented message if you get their voice mail so that they have a reason to call you back.
  4. Aim for “warm” calls ahead of “cold” calls. Send a letter or email ahead of your phone call, or ask someone who knows the person you want to call to provide a connection or introduction before you make the call.
  5. Don’t give up – the average sale requires five calls, and many people give up after two.
  6. Be prepared when you make the call; you can use a script, but you should at least write down your goals or key questions.
  7. One tactic when making a phone call is to offer a package of your services. For example, for $400, the client can purchase a 4-hour training session, where I will teach their employees to write better emails, business letters, sales and marketing materials, etc. Or they can purchase a 5-hour block of editing, where they can use five hours of my editing services over a period of one month, one week, several different days, etc. This allows them to try the service without spending a lot of money, and it could turn into a long-term relationship.
  8. Hire an assistant (or professional telephone salesperson) to make phone calls on your behalf. In most cases, their hourly rate will be less than your hourly rate. Your time is best spent doing work that pays more than what you are paying them to get appointments, client leads, etc. You can test it by spending $500 for a specific number of phone calls or hours, and then measuring the results. If it turns out to be cost effective, continue employing that person to make phone calls on your behalf so that you can do what you do best.

What tips do you have on being better at using the telephone to market your business? Let me know –

David Gargaro

The eight keys to advanced relationship selling

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Advanced relationship selling is the more modern version of the traditional selling approach and is geared to selling services (such as writing and editing). There are similarities between the two methods, but advanced relationship selling focuses on building the relationship prior to the sale.

Advanced relationship selling includes these eight key components.

Prospecting, qualifying and research

All sales involves PQR:

  • Prospect to find potential clients who might need my services
  • Qualify clients to make sure that they can use (and pay) for my services
  • Research to understand how my services might be able to help those clients

The key difference between traditional sales and advanced relationship selling is that the former focuses PQR on finding clients to sell to, while the latter focuses PQR on identifying people who can be helped.

Multiple contacts

To properly build any relationship, you must get to know people, which requires multiple contacts. Do not try to sell on first contact. Get to know people, perhaps through networking groups, seminars or other interactions where you avoid trying to sell on first contact.

Building rapport

After making multiple contacts with potential clients, try to build rapport with them instead of trying to determine how to sell to them. Find ways to build the relationship through areas of common interests, and building the social aspect of the relationship. I need to work on my socializing skills, and networking is a good place to practice.

Qualifying questions

Ask questions of the potential client to see if they have needs that match my services. However, if there is no match, but they have a need, find a way to connect them with service providers who will fill their needs.

Needs analysis

Find out more about the client’s situation. Determine what needs they have. When they want to know about my experience and skill set, follow up with a question to determine how they would make use of my skills.

The non-proposition

Restate their needs, and indicate where I can best help them based on my expertise, and where I cannot help directly. In the latter case, provide a solution (a resource or service provider with that expertise). State that I am available as required.

After the meeting

Follow up the meeting or conversation in a couple of days to thank them for their time and to reassure them that they made the right decision. Stay on their mind even if they do not plan to use me at this time.

Think long term

Every business relationship should be long term. Don’t aim for the immediate solution, but stay involved. Continue to learn more about their business and offer solutions when they present themselves. Act as a source of knowledge and education – send articles, provide resource contacts, etc.

How would you use advanced relationship selling to grow your service-related business? Do you need help with your business? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Consultative selling

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Consultative selling falls under the umbrella of advanced relationship selling. This type of selling involves developing relationships first before trying to make the sale.

I am already a consulting editor, so I should be able to engage in consultative selling. What does this involve?

  • Begin the consulting approach before trying to make a sale. Send a survey or questionnaire to potential (or even existing) clients to help them understand their needs.
  • Help potential clients to make intelligent decisions with respect to their needs – even if it does not involve my services. If they need to design new marketing materials, then direct them to a graphic or marketing designer who specializes in this type of service.
  • Refer potential clients to resources that will help them do what I cannot help them to do directly. Tell clients that I provide a specific set of services that they might need, but this person or company can help them to fill their actual needs.
  • Provide free consulting advice that shows my value. Focus on giving advice rather than pushing services.

It is also important to note that consultative selling is not about getting customers to say yes or convincing them to use your services at all costs. Being a consultant is about helping clients to achieve their goals and meet their needs – whether that involves your services or not.

How do you engage in consultative selling? Let me know –

David Gargaro

The sales model of selling services

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The most difficult part of developing my business has always involved selling my services to potential clients. I am not very comfortable with selling, and many service professionals have the same problem.

According to Rick Crandall’s book Marketing Your Services for People Who Hate to Sell, there are five basic components of a sales model that involves selling one’s services.

1. Building relationships at higher levels

There are several levels of relationships you can have with clients, from being a vendor (where you simply sell a commodity) to being an advisor (where you take responsibility for your client’s business and act independently on their behalf). You should aim to be at least a consultant, where you apply your expertise to understand and solve your clients’ problems. This is definitely my goal, as I try to provide more than writing and editing services – I look for ways to improve their business. For example, I will help my clients to access other service providers (such as translators, technical writers or graphic designers) when they have a need for these types of services.

2. Analyzing needs

Proper needs analysis involves asking questions, listening and analyzing clients’ responses to determine their needs, instead of just trying to sell services. The best methods of needs analysis are repeatable, such as using a checklist or questionnaire. Can I develop a checklist or questionnaire for certain potential clients? How about a short list of 3 to 5 questions to determine their writing or editing needs? This requires some planning and thought.

3. Knowing customers’ industries

I don’t know enough about specific industries (such as insurance or law) to be an expert in what they need to improve their businesses. However, I can apply my knowledge of publishing and content development to help companies in these industries to improve their publishing and content development practices. I can refer them to content specialists (such as technical writers), designers, translators, etc. who can help them to produce content that will expand their businesses. This might lead me to become more knowledgeable in their industries so that I can provide writing and editing services to these companies.

4. Creativity

Creativity involves two elements:

  • Finding new and interesting ways to attract prospects’ attention. This can be accomplished by providing a needs analysis, or contacting them in different ways.
  • Providing new and better solutions, and/or customizing solutions to meet their specific needs. I can provide specific writing or editing services that fit a particular client’s needs.

5. Helping your customers succeed

A great way to help your customers succeed is to understand more about their customers. I could refer my clients to potential customers, or give them publicity by quoting them as an expert in an article that I write that appears in a national trade magazine. I could create information and educationalI materials that they can provide for free to their clients. I could even offer a free webinar on writing better emails or improving your business writing skills, which my clients would offer to their customers.

How do you sell your services to clients? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Five lessons learned from poor customer service

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Can freelancers, the self-employed and small businesses learn something positive from a negative customer service experience (other than not doing what they did)? We can all learn from the mistakes of others, and watching a large corporation royally screw up is a great way to learn how to be a better service provider.

Allow me to set the stage. I went to a well established company to take photos for my daughter’s birthday. What should have taken the promised two weeks ended up taking eight weeks, four visits, ten phone calls, and a lot of frustration. Customer service ranging from indifferent to apologetic did not help matters much. The end result was a serious attempt to make up for their mistakes, and a decision to never patronize that store again.

So, what did I learn from the experience that I can apply to my business?

  1. Do things right the first time! It’s not possible to be perfect all the time, but effort and planning go a long way to getting close.
  2. If you do make a mistake, own up to it immediately. Apologize as soon as the mistake comes to your attention.
  3. Find a way to correct the mistake as soon as possible. Bring in extra help, work additional hours, do what has to be done.
  4. Provide a refund on the work done, or for future work, or both.
  5. Examine the reason or cause for the mistake, and find a way to protect against it happening again.

Providing exceptional customer service is essential for the self-employed to differentiate themselves from the competition. Dealing with mistakes the right way – as mistakes will happen – is a good way to maintain customers and build your business.

David Gargaro

How do you deal with your clients when you make a mistake? Let me know –

Learn five key ways to sell your message

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Selling your message is an excellent way to get results with your business writing. Because you are in business, you should always be selling… as well as interacting, communicating, networking, etc., but you get the point.

There are many different ways to adjust your writing to put your company and/or product and/or service in a positive light. Your goal is to convince the reader to buy into whatever you are selling. The following five strategies should help you to do just that.

  1. Accentuate the positive. Tell readers what you can do, not what you cannot do.
    Negative: “Our product will not be available until July 1.”
    Positive: “Our product will be available on July 1.”
  2. Use short, informal sentences. It is more conversational, and makes the reader more comfortable.
    Too long: “I would like to thank you for your response on the matter discussed in our previous discussion.”
    Better: “Thank you for your response to our previous discussion.”
  3. Change a demand into a question. Do not demand your readers to do something. Rephrase your request as a question.
    Demand: “The attached document must be signed by October 1. Otherwise, your order will not be processed within the requested time period.”
    Question: “Will you please sign the attached document by October 1? This will enable us to process your order within the requested time period.”
  4. Change a demand using the cause-and-effect approach. Tell the reader what will happen when they complete the task.
    Demand: “The attached document must be signed by October 1. Otherwise, your order will not be processed within the requested time period.”
    Cause-and-effect: “When we receive a signed copy of the attached document, we will immediately process your order.”
  5. Explain the benefits to your readers. Spell them out so that they understand your product’s or service’s advantages. It demonstrates that you have an interest in your readers’ interests.
    Example: “We provide a data verification service.”
    Benefit: “We provide a data verification service, which ensures that your clients’ tax receipts are 100% accurate.”

Use any or all of these five strategies to improve your chances of selling your message to your audience.

Do you need help with selling your message to your audience? Or with writing better sales messages? Let me know – contact @

David Gargaro