Your Rampant Discounting is Costing You Sales Results?

Research shows 67% of sales people will offer a discount BEFORE a potential customer has even asked for one… what the actual?

What would your business look like if your sales team gave out 5% or even 10% fewer discounts over a year whilst maintaining the same revenue level? Well drilled businesses and well-trained sales teams know how to handle discounting behaviour and discount requests.

Recently I’ve been shopping for furniture for a new house. Now, I’m not big on shopping, in fact, I’d rather chew off my arm than walk through the major retail malls and stores, so it’s not something I do very often.

As part of this ‘shopping experience’, I’ve been surprised by just how many salespeople open up their conversations very badly or, worse still, open with a discount.

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Let me set the scene, I’m standing in a major retailer looking at a big, very big, LED screen. It has a huge SALE sign attached, it shows the heavily discounted price and the original price with a slash through it. Pretty standard stuff. Basically, it’s 40% off the original price.

A salesperson walks up to me and says “This is a great screen for the money and I can probably even do it for a little better than what it’s marked for here.”

WOAH, he hasn’t even asked if I like it… for all he knows I could be standing there attempting to avoid the twin 6-year-old girls who are playing with the home theatre systems in the other aisle. And when I say ‘playing’ I mean turning them all up full volume. It sounds terrible. Where are their parents?

If you’re a sales leader or manager you probably think this is a ludicrous strategy for a salesperson use to enter into a conversation, a discount ON TOP of a discount. And, I’d agree with you. The real problem is, statistically, your sales team are probably doing this right now out in the field in a bid to win ‘favour’ with your clients and prospects.

Research shows 67% of sales people will offer a discount BEFORE a potential customer has even asked for one

 

What would be a better way to have started the conversation?

Before I answer that question, I do think there is a real ‘discounting’ crisis going on in some consumer and business circles. Discounting is expected in consumer land, especially on some product segments such as consumer electronics, cars, and increasingly so in B2B sales. I’m convinced the more we train our buyers to expect ‘yet another discount’ the more they’ll push us for more discounts. We are our own worst enemies. One of the key questions is, how can we best handle these expectations?

Back to my example. Is the store placing an extra few dollars on top of their ticketed sale price so their salespeople have a discretionary discount dollar in order to win business? Probably, but even if this is true why open with that strategy.

I’m sure there are other examples of good dialogue openers in retail situations. Please share your best with me.

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Personally, I lose faith with the store’s entire pricing strategy if I’m told the ticketed price is not the TRUE price. What then, is the true price?

Selling is the transfer of trust I was once told.

“..What would’ve I said if I was that salesperson in Big TV land? How about, “Which room are you needing a new screen for..”? OR “What screen do you currently have now”?

This would’ve opened a nice dialogue for a good chat about what the customer really needed, what they knew about the product and their true intended application. Allowing a good salesman to show value by using their expertise to offer a great solution for the client. Removing the need to offer a discount on top of a discount.

 

If you would like more information on how to control rampant discounting in your business, contact us at SalesITV on www.salesitv.com or mark@salesitv.com

Why I’m only accepting 2 out of 5 connection requests & why you probably should too.

Recently I found that there has been a change in the way many are approaching ‘LinkedIn’. Have you noticed it? It’s like a disease. Mindless, endless connection requests of no value.

A swarm of people, all seemingly trying to RUSH to increase the size of their network in order to reach eye-popping levels, with what appears to be no real regard for quality, reaching out for a mindless connection.

My guess is they might be thinking that having 10,000 connections is important, or more likely, will make them seem important to others. They might believe that at that level of connections, business will be pouring in through their Inbox. (It won’t) I believe they are gathering connections in the same way my teenage niece has thousands of ‘friends’ on facebook but yet she couldn’t tell you if she was standing next to 20 of them at the bus stop. Friends who are not really friends. Connections who are not really connected, or even interested. Think, how much are those connections really worth to you? Zero.

So with all those ‘useless’ connections are you truly ‘well connected’ or are you just overloaded & crowded?

If the quality of your connections are JUNK, what’s the QUALITY of your network? – JUNK.

Your network is your Net Worth. What’s your NET WORTH?

Rubbish in – Rubbish out.

A FOOL with a TOOL is still a TOOL.

Interesting how I can use an old CRM saying and it seems relevant talking about LinkedIn, don’t you think? (LinkedIn has certainly changed a lot in the last year).

Let’s say you do get to 50,000 connections. How would you credibly engage with them all? You can’t. NEWS FLASH. It’s not the shares, likes or views that matter in this game, it’s the quality of the engagement.

Social is social, that means interactions, it’s not a database, it’s not a calling list, it’s not a ‘number’ of connections, it’s not a CRM. If you can’t provide some insights or some value to those who want to connect with you or that they provide to you, then why are you connecting?

Having lots & lots of connections will not automatically make you a LinkedIn superstar. I would argue that having the wrong connections will actively ruin your LinkedIn experience and at the same time make it significantly harder for you to use LinkedIn for what it is designed – a networking tool which should be helping you to drive great conversations and then, eventually opportunities.

Of course, there are exceptions, enter, people like Tony J Hughes. He uses LinkedIn very well to publish, he wants as many people as possible reading his material, which I personally love BTW, He has a strategy which works for him. But it’s not a strategy which will work for most of you, it will work for 5% of people, maybe. (Have you seen how well he writes)?

I’d suggest, don’t connect with everyone you see and don’t connect with everyone just because they send you a connection request, that’s dumb.

Currently, I’m only accepting around 40% of the connection requests I get. The other 60% are simply not a good fit for my network and (here’s the rub) they are actually much better off without me in their network. I will drive them, their network and their feed crazy with my sales orientated conversations and posts. (just like this one).

I’ve spent a significant amount of time DELIBERATELY crafting and designing a network which is high value to me, high value to my network as well as my business strategy. So if you’re not going to add value to the network, to me or I to you. I’m probably not going to accept.

The average person who needs to use or ‘leverage’ their LinkedIn account to help them to grow their business or perhaps find more business opportunities is using the platform incorrectly if they are connecting without thought and without a clear, defined strategy.

I’ve written about this previously and I’m sure I’ll need to repeat myself again. You need to deliberately design your professional network in the same way as you deliberately look for a workplace who has a culture you think will help you to be successful. Your social feed has its own culture.

Why? If you fill your network with ‘randoms’ it will be INCREDIBLY harder to shape your online conversations in order to be of any benefit to that broader audience. There are plenty of subject matter experts out there, so how can you ‘talk’ (post, share and comment) to a broad audience about everything? You can’t. In fact, you might find you’re not getting any traction at all with a broad, large, but weak network. Posting articles, posts, blogs, pictures etc are all designed to drive engagement if you’re connected to 10,000 people and only 500 people are interested in your business proposition, or what you’re posting about. I’d argue you really only have 500 connections and 9,500 people who’s feed you are destroying with ‘rubbish’ which is not relevant to them. Do you want to be that person who is posting crap which nobody wants to read?

Believe me, I’ve been there and done it. I’ve made the mistakes. I’ve been at parties on the weekend where people I know from a more traditional social context have connected with me on LinkedIn, prior to me figuring all this out, and they typically say something like – “Man, you’re all over LinkedIn with your sales stuff. Every time I go there my feed is smashed with all your activity and sales talk”. This is not a good conversation to be having in a truly social context. In this instance I am not building a future customer, I’m just annoying someone who happens to work with my wife. I’m wasting both of our times.

So have a think about you connection strategy (Do you have one)? and make the necessary changes to make sure your LinkedIn network has the best chance to give you what you need from a truly business networking sense.

Failing to do so up front, will potentially mean trying to ‘undo’ 10,000 poorly crafted connections, that’s not going to happen easily. You will need to either

A: Abandon the platform altogether,

B: Forget about using LinkedIn as a BDM tool.

C: Delete your account and start again from the beginning.

That’s why I’m selecting ‘IGNORE’ – it’s the polite thing to do.

TO BE CLEAR: – If you’re in any aspect of sales from within APAC send me a PERSONALISED connection request and I’ll connect. If you’re in IT from Canada, I’m probably not interested – sorry.

A personalised connection request trumps all. Tell me why you’d like to connect and chance are I will. As will your perfect future customer. You might even start a conversation.

It’s all about the engagement.

If you found this to be useful please share amongst your connections, like or comment. It’s how the social media thingy works. If we are all only passive viewers, eventually the content will stop. I know I’d hate that.

As well as being a sales execution coach and trainer to Australia’s corporate sector. Mark is the #1 ranked Linkedin Social Seller in Australia. Contact Mark via Inmail message or mark@salesitv.com for a discussion around sales growth, coaching, social media, golf, cycling, AFL and sales effectiveness. 

Twitter: Mark McInnes @mamcinnes

Why your LinkedIn activity isn’t working for you. (Now with templates)

Are you working overtime on LinkedIn? Posting, Sharing, Liking, Commenting and not getting anywhere? No one answering your Inmails? Emails left unopened. Here is the answer to increasing your engagement results by 30%

For those who follow me regularly, you will already know I am an advocate of the use of the Ethical Persuasion strategies, as outlined by Dr Robert (Bob) Cialdini in his book, Influence – The Psychology Of Persuasion.

 

I have successfully used Bob’s 6 principles of persuasion in everyday conversations, LinkedIn Inmails, emails, telephone calls and more to drastically increase the chances I can get someone to agree with my point of view or with my request. For example: With my request for a meeting. Let me show you HOW I do that.

The 6 Principles of Persuasion are:

1 – Reciprocity

2 – Consistency

3 – Social Proof

4 – Liking

5 – Authority

6- Scarcity

 

Let’s take a look at how these persuasion strategies work here on LinkedIn so that you’re successful in drastically increasing the levels of engagement you’re able to achieve. I believe engagement is the key metric on social to measure, not connections, not views, engagement.

Here I break down these 6 principles with examples of how you might be able to leverage these principles within your everyday LinkedIn activity.

 

Reciprocity:

I will feel more obligated to reply to your message, accept your connection request, refer you to a colleague, or even take a meeting with you if you have first shared valuable information with me. This could take place by sending me something via Inmail or just tagging or mentioning me in a post that I will find of particular interest. (Gavin, I noticed you recently shared an article of mine on social selling. So, it just made sense I also send you this checklist infographic I’ve created. Hope you find it helpful. Rgds Mark)

Consistency:

If I have previously liked your articles, posts and comments and generally supported your LinkedIn activity, I would be more open to meeting with you or accepting another request, such as a connection or referral request. Especially if I am reminded about those previous activities. (Hi Gavin, really appreciate all the support for my sales training articles recently. I was hoping to connect with Bob in your office so I can share them with Bob as well, would you mind facilitating a connection to Bob? Rgds Mark)

 

 

Liking:

Regularly seeing your profile in my feed makes me feel closer to you than I actually may be and therefore more likely to accept requests from you. I also feel closer to those connected to both you and I, than those who are not connected to either you or I.

If we are in the same LinkedIn groups and you highlight that we share this, I’m more likely to accept your message requests. (Gavin, as we are both in the ‘Sales Leaders for World Peace’ group here on LinkedIn, made sense to reach out for a connection. Hope you agree. Rgds Mark)

Should you provide a complimentary comment on one of my posts or articles, especially if it is a public comment, then I’m more likely to accept requests from you.

Authority:

By carefully crafting your profile and with the ongoing support from others (comments, shares and likes) you have higher levels of perceived authority to me. Meaning I’m more likely to respond positively to your requests.  Especially if those requests are congruent with your areas of authority.

Scarcity:

I want to be accepted into your network and be part of your ‘select’ group of connections. Also, as not everyone communicates with me through LinkedIn, those who are on LinkedIn and communicate with me may also be considered ‘scarce’.

Alternatively, an Inmail can be positioned as scarce as the communication takes place outside of the public forum. (Gavin, just wanted to send you this directly rather than into your feed. I noticed you posted XXX so this article on YYY made sense to send you as I think it might help with your ZZZ. Rgds Mark)

Social Proof:

If you have a large number of connections who are just like me, or lots of supporting comments and likes from people who are just like me then, to me, you are perceived as more believable and desirable to have in my network. If people, just like me, are publicly approving of your comments, posts and shares, I’m more likely to as well and be more likely to accept requests from you. (Gavin, this particular article has really received some great responses from Sales Directors who are also in financial services, so it just made sense that I send this to you, as I thought you might find it valuable as well. Rgds Mark)

So there you have it an overview to the use of Ethical Persuasion on LinkedIn. As Bob says, use with caution and only for good. These strategies are designed to make our brains look for the safest, easiest decision based on what decisions we’ve made previously. Ethical persuasion, used well, makes your request seem like the best option to take.

There are lots of other ways you can use these strategies on LinkedIn and I’d love to hear what you’ve been successful with, in the past OR simply, try these out and see if you can’t increase your engagement effectiveness.

The Science of Persuasion explained in a YouTube animation in just 11min.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/api/edit/embed?embed=%257B%2522type%2522%253A%2522video%2522%252C%2522title%2522%253A%257B%2522localized%2522%253A%257B%2522en_US%2522%253A%2522Science%2520Of%2520Persuasion%2522%257D%257D%252C%2522description%2522%253A%257B%2522localized%2522%253A%257B%2522en_US%2522%253A%2522http%253A%252F%252Fwww.influenceatwork.com%2520This%2520animated%2520video%2520describes%2520the%2520six%2520universal%2520Principles%2520of%2520Persuasion%2520that%2520have%2520been%2520scientifically%2520proven%2520to%2520make%2520you%2520most…%2522%257D%257D%252C%2522author%2522%253A%257B%2522name%2522%253A%2522influenceatwork%2522%257D%252C%2522provider%2522%253A%257B%2522name%2522%253A%2522YouTube%2522%252C%2522display%2522%253A%2522YouTube%2522%252C%2522url%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fwww.youtube.com%252F%2522%257D%252C%2522request%2522%253A%257B%2522originalUrl%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fwww.youtube.com%252Fwatch%253Fv%253DcFdCzN7RYbw%2522%252C%2522finalUrl%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fwww.youtube.com%252Fwatch%253Fv%253DcFdCzN7RYbw%2522%257D%252C%2522images%2522%253A%255B%257B%2522url%2522%253A%2522https%253A%252F%252Fi.ytimg.com%252Fvi%252FcFdCzN7RYbw%252Fhqdefault.jpg%2522%252C%2522width%2522%253A480%252C%2522height%2522%253A360%257D%255D%252C%2522data%2522%253A%257B%2522com.linkedin.treasury.Video%2522%253A%257B%2522html%2522%253A%2522%253Ciframe%2520scrolling%253D%255C%2522no%255C%2522%2520allowfullscreen%2520src%253D%255C%2522%252F%252Fmedia.licdn.com%252Fembeds%252Fmedia.html%253Fsrc%253Dhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.youtube.com%25252Fembed%25252FcFdCzN7RYbw%25253Ffeature%25253Doembed%2526amp%253Burl%253Dhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.youtube.com%25252Fwatch%25253Fv%25253DcFdCzN7RYbw%2526amp%253Btype%253Dtext%25252Fhtml%2526amp%253Bschema%253Dyoutube%255C%2522%2520width%253D%255C%2522480%255C%2522%2520frameborder%253D%255C%25220%255C%2522%2520class%253D%255C%2522embedly-embed%255C%2522%2520height%253D%255C%2522270%255C%2522%253E%253C%252Fiframe%253E%2522%252C%2522width%2522%253A480%252C%2522height%2522%253A270%257D%257D%257D&signature=ATnk7yUjQ3xtOMRR7QTG1GAq14wr

If you found this to be useful please share amongst your connections, like or comment. It’s how the social media thingy works. If we are all only passive viewers, eventually the content will stop. I know I’d hate that.

As well as being a sales execution coach and trainer to Australia’s corporate sector. Mark is the #1 ranked Linkedin Social Seller in Australia. Contact Mark via Inmail message or mark@salesitv.com for a discussion around sales growth, coaching, social media, golf, cycling, AFL and sales effectiveness. 

Twitter: Mark McInnes @mamcinnes

Don’t Post THAT Here…

LinkedIn is described as the world’s largest professional network with over 500Millionpeople with a ‘profile’. It’s very much the professional’s social media.

A much smaller number of people are posting articles, sharing pictures, writing blogs and commentary which provides something for all of us to read, look at, laugh at and, most importantly, learn from. I’m grateful for these people being so actively involved in helping all of us learn. However, experience says most people have it wrong and, as a result, they aren’t getting anywhere near the engagement that they deserve.

If you’re going to all the effort to post on LinkedIn, to write articles and be active, I say, at least make it worth your while.

As you should know by now, my strategy here on LinkedIn is to drive engagement through excellent social media activity. I want to have conversations with people, typically senior salespeople, about their businesses. Hopefully about their sales challenges. I’m not trying to have 100,000 connections or even write 1,000 articles, I could not keep up with the level activity that would create.

I see lots of people, here on LinkedIn, wasting their time by posting the wrong things. (Remember my goal is to drive engagement).

  • In short; People are posting too much content that I call ‘advertising’ or ‘self-business promotion’ and not enough shareable knowledge, tips, skills, thoughts or their views and as a result, instead of building their brand they are eroding it.

Specifically, the 6 regular mistakes I see made on LinkedIn in relation to content are:

  1. Marketing; STOP telling your sales teams what to post. Sellers should have control of their own accounts and post relevant material for their customers and prospects based on what they see in the marketplace and in their competitive landscape. This is called sharing insights. They are NOT just another distribution channel for the company newsletter or recent tax-accounting report. This is the equivalent of corporate SOCIAL MEDIA SPAMSTOP IT! Not every seller is capable of regular social activity, that’s fine. But I believe bad social activity IS worse than no social activity. And sellers, if you’re not able to have conversations deeper than what’s in the marketing brochure, either on social or in real life, then let me give you the news right here… The robots are coming and you’re going to be the first out the door.
  2. Posting a picture of a finished or partially finished project, building site, equipment on pallets, race cars etc without people in the image. Social media activity is all about people, not about products or services such as your last equipment sale or your last house listing. If you want to post that you’ve won a new project or sold a new house, that’s cool. But how about including the new owners of the house or the people who are going to get the ‘bone-crushing value’ from your recent sale. It’s social, not a product presentation or gloat-fest. Humanise posts.
  3. Not providing anything more than what we would find in a standard brochure or website. How about a 30sec look under the ‘hood’ shown with video taken from your phone with your commentary? Give us something that we don’t get to see in the catalogues or manufacturers websites. There has to be some extra value in order for me to click on the link or the picture. Provide us with a stronger insight, your insight, some additional value. As a professional, that’s your job.
  4. Humanise all your activities. People want to see people, we want to see what people are doing, again this is the social aspect of the term ‘social media’. I find these posts rate the best for me by far. A picture of people at a training event. People in hard hats at a site inspection. Remember it’s social, people are social.
  5. Just reposting the latest report from marketing or compliance or the latest RBA rate notice… Yawn! You need to provide some good quality commentary around why we should be looking at, reading or taking notice of the article or report. If you just re-post marketings activity it provides no extra value and neither do you. – Harsh, but true. Chris Bates (wealth advisor) is one of the best at this strategy. He comments on popular activity/ news and how it impacts on people’s wealth from his point of view. Well played Chris. (Connect with him here).
  6. Companies paying for advertising on LinkedIn. If I see your banking advertisement or executive recruitment ad or whatever. I’m skimming past it. I’m interested in what my connections are talking about. When was the last time you clicked on a promoted link and bought something?

So there are the 6 things I think you should avoid when posting content. I used to struggle with the term ‘social media’ when I thought of LinkedIn. I thought it was best described as a “professional media” and it IS predominantly professionally orientated, but the social aspect is really the key to driving engagement and I see lots of you are missing this opportunity in both your posts and articles. I once had a boss who was excellent at marketing and promotion he really understood that it was always about the people. Who was where and who were they with and what were they doing?

So next time you go to post something on LinkedIn ask yourself these questions to try to secure stronger engagement.

A: What am I showing my connections beyond what they already know? #video #commentary #yourpointofview

B: How can I humanise this post as much as possible. #tags #mentions #pictures #people

C: How much of my personality can I place in here? Am I building my personal brand? Or do I simply look like part of the marketing machine?

Then, once you’ve started to gather those likes, connections, shares and comments, that’s when the fun really starts. More on that another day.

If you found this to be useful please share amongst your connections, like or comment. It’s how the social media thingy works. If we are all only passive viewers, eventually the content will stop. I know I’d hate that.

As well as being a sales execution coach and trainer to Australia’s corporate sector. Mark is the #1 ranked Linkedin Social Seller in Australia. Contact Markvia Inmail message or mark@salesitv.com for a discussion around sales growth, coaching, social media, golf, cycling, AFL and sales effectiveness. 

Twitter: Mark McInnes @mamcinnes

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