Are You Providing ‘Free Consulting’ Instead of Selling?

Sometimes salespeople are so eager to close the sale, that they end up giving away the store for free. Take this informal quiz to see if you are engaging in “Free Consulting” instead of selling.

As a small business owner and, by nature, a salesperson, take a minute to review the following list of sales-related questions and assess whether they resonate with the way you find yourself conducting prospective business.

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    Sales-y Question No. 1: When you finally go on that appointment that you worked so hard to set, do you find yourself on the defensive from the first moment you get out of your car?

    Sales-y Question No. 2: Are you spending the entire trip thinking about what you are going to say to create interest in your product or service?

    Sales-y Question No. 3: What do you say when your prospect asks you the price, or to do a proposal? Do you find yourself explaining how you are better than the competition when your prospect tells you they’re going to “shop your price?”

    Sales-y Question No. 4: Are you sharing a new idea with your prospect to get ahead of the competition?

    Don’t give it away

    Let’s face the facts, if any of these sound like you, you’re giving away all your best stuff and not getting paid for it!  We call that “free consulting!”

    Sometimes, salespeople are so afraid they won’t get the order that they try to dazzle the prospect with product knowledge, but all they really accomplish is to set the sale up for the competition. In the Sandler Sales Institution world, we work with salespeople to get control from the beginning and keep it! 

    If you systematically approach your selling situations by being more concerned with listening than talking, and you stop giving up your expertise without a clear understanding of why and a commitment as to what happens next, you’ll be amazed at how you’ll close more sales and feel better about the ones you don’t.

    If you want to shorten your selling cycle and increase your closing ratio, start setting “contracts” with your prospects that reflect your mutual goals. Doing so will help you stop devaluing your expertise by giving it away! Don’t let another “free consulting” situation happen—get started now!

    Tom Scully is sales consultant and owner of a Sandler Training franchise in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

    Grasshopper
    Next up: August 15: “Test Drive” Ohio Business Gateway Modernization Project

    August 15: “Test Drive” Ohio Business Gateway Modernization Project

    The Ohio Business Gateway offers Ohio's businesses an online filing and payment system that aims to simplify a business' relationship with government agencies.

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    Ohio businesses can use the Gateway to access various services and electronically submit transactions with many state agencies. The Gateway also works with local governments to enable businesses to file and pay selected Ohio municipal income taxes. Click here for a complete list of services and transactions offered by the Ohio Business Gateway.

    An Ohio Business Gateway modernization project has been underway and on August 15 there will be an opportunity for end users like you to “kick the tires” of the new system before it goes live.  If your business is interested in taking the new Ohio Business Gateway for a “test drive” and to provide Ohio government with real-time feedback that focuses on the needs of the business community please see below for details on how your business can take advantage of this opportunity.

    Pre-Check

    When:             Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    Where:            Riffe Center, 31st Floor, 77 S. High Street, Columbus, OH

    Time:               10:00 a.m. – Noon

    Register:         paula.steele@governor.ohio.gov

    Grasshopper
    Next up: B'Laster, MACE Show Brand Awareness Strategies to Deliver World Renowned Brands

    B'Laster, MACE Show Brand Awareness Strategies to Deliver World Renowned Brands

    Our region is the home of many iconic innovators and companies known the world over. The Rockefeller Fortune began in Cleveland and it was in Cleveland that in 1879 on Public Square that the first American streetlight shown bright. Today, we are the home of Sherwin-Williams, Cleveland-Cliffs, Eaton, and American Greetings; companies known the world over.  In a few weeks, the Republican National Convention will bring Northeast Ohio into the homes of the world. I am proud that in addition to the above companies, there are many other great world known brands located locally. I want to tell you a little about two such businesses I have personally been able to get to work with during my work here at COSE that are taking steps to broaden their brand awareness. 

    Our region is the home of many iconic innovators and companies known the world over. The Rockefeller Fortune began in Cleveland and it was in Cleveland that in 1879 on Public Square that the first American streetlight shown bright. Today, we are the home of Sherwin-Williams, Cleveland-Cliffs, Eaton, and American Greetings; companies known the world over.  In a few weeks, the Republican National Convention will bring Northeast Ohio into the homes of the world. I am proud that in addition to the above companies, there are many other great world known brands located locally. I want to tell you a little about two such businesses I have personally been able to get to work with during my work here at COSE that are taking steps to broaden their brand awareness. 

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    B’Laster Corporation

    First, let's talk about B'Laster Corporation headquartered in Valley View. Those of you who, like me, take I-77 North downtown might have seen their new billboards.  This is just the latest example of their increasing outdoor exposure in and around Cleveland. How effective is outdoor advertising? Well, according to survey data from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, more than 90% of travelers said they had noticed some form of out-of-home in the past month. Further, 80% reported having noticed billboard advertising. 

    Pre-Check

    The positive momentum from the outdoor advertising helps supplement their existing distribution in various big box, automotive, hardware and industrial retailers, and are taking steps toward expanding internationally. I recently visited their headquarters and was excited to hear they have expanded their current facility as well as adding warehouse space at additional locations. They are also planning on having a large presence at the RNC having columns wrapped in the style of their iconic bottles. 

    MACE Corporation

    Now let’s talk about the MACE Corporation. Before I began at COSE, I never would have guessed MACE Spray was manufactured here in downtown Cleveland. Like many companies entering their fifth decade, they needed to look inward to ensure they were committed to their core mission and not drifting into markets they could have an impact in. As a result, they redefined the company to concentrate on core products of personal defense and security from its iconic Mace Brand defense sprays to innovative safety wear for people and pets to an array of security devices. Thanks to the strength of this focused product line, coupled with enhanced targeted marketing efforts, the company generated significant momentum in 2015—with net revenues growing nearly 14% and gross profits increasing approximately 19%, compared with year-ago results. This positive momentum continues in 2016.  

    Both of these represent excellent examples of companies that have taken different, yet ultimately successful, paths to growth. Need more ideas on how you can grow your business? Check out the COSE Strategic Planning Course that can show you even more growth strategies that you can begin immediately applying to your business. 


    Grasshopper
    Next up: B2B Expos Offer Value for Your Business

    B2B Expos Offer Value for Your Business

    One of the most dangerous traps a small business owner can face is when they are so focused on operating their business, they can’t get out from behind their own desk. Making your way out into the community to attend events and networking at a business-to-business Expo can help you achieve all your networking goals and more in one day.

    One of the most dangerous traps a small business owner can face is when they are so focused on operating their business, they can’t get out from behind their own desk. Making your way out into the community to attend events and networking at a business-to-business Expo can help you achieve all your networking goals and more in one day. 

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    At these expos there are dozens of suppliers in one location and you can use your time at the expo to meet new companies and compare products and prices all in one place. Plus, companies sometimes bring their best deals to the expo because their competitors are stationed in the same room talking to the same potential customers. You will meet many prospective businesses to work with, and at the best offer they’ve got.

    Networking isn’t the only benefit. Expos are great places to learn the newest trends, and what your competitors are offering and businesses will display the newest products and resources available.  Learning the hottest trends helps you stack up against the competition. While you’re there, you can also learn what your competitors are up to. You’ll have a chance to see what their best deal is, and how you can create a better experience for your customers. Attending will give you the insight to make sure your business can stay fresh and stand out.

    Pre-Check

    Never attended an expo and don’t know where to start? Not to worry: we’ve narrowed it down to five B2B events that you should check out. Whether you are looking to develop business locally, in a nearby town, or across the region, these expos will help you expand your network, increase your supplier diversity, and save some green.

    Cleveland B2B Matchmaker – June 8, 7:00 am – 6:00 pm

    The 11th annual Cleveland Matchmaker Event is a unique small business contracting event, which presents a great opportunity for small businesses to gain access to buyers that represent millions of dollars in purchasing. The goal of the event is to create future contract opportunities for your small business through one-on-one sessions between buyers and sellers.

    Erie County’s Business Connections Expo – April 20, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

    Connect with Erie County businesses, and attend free 30-minute seminars will take place covering topics such as Identity Theft, Legal Aid, Credit Card Protection, and Small Business Development Workshop at Erie County’s Business Connections Expo.   Plus, the interactive food stations are included with your ticket. 

    NEO Business Show – May 11, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

    The 2016 NEO Business Show is an easy, affordable way to give your company maximum exposure in front of hundreds of people, as well as learn what goods and services are available for your business. This year's show returns to Signature of Solon which offers ample free, convenient parking and is a short drive away anywhere in the area. This event is free to attendees with a business card.

    HRCC’s Business Expo – May 12, 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm

    HRCC’s 22nd annual Business Expo is the region’s most essential business networking event, twice awarded CBC Magazine’s coveted Connectors Choice Award for Best Event by a Networking Organization.  Each year the Expo features approximately 100 businesses, six municipalities, and attracts 700 – 800 attendees.

    Regional Chambers Expo – October 19, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

    Regional Chambers Expo 2016 features a unique variety of exhibitors from a diverse area of Northeast Ohio. This year’s Regional Chambers Expo will feature over 75 exhibitors, and attendance is expected exceed past years.  Admission is free when you present your business card.

    Looking for more ways to connect outside of your office? Check out our events page for additional networking and learning events.

    Grasshopper
    Next up: Be Heard on Small Business Saturday

    Be Heard on Small Business Saturday

    Small Business Saturday is almost upon us. On November 26, small businesses across the country will likely see a swarm of shoppers descend on their place of business.

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    Small Business Saturday is almost upon us. On November 26, small businesses across the country will likely see a swarm of shoppers descend on their place of business. 

    And just how big will that swarm be? Well, in 2015, an estimated 95 million people went out on the day after Black Friday to support local businesses. And 2016 might be just as big of a year. So, what do you need to do to ensure your small business stands out this year?

    Pre-Check

    Well, for one the Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce intends to be distributing on social platforms a series of marketing video they shot, depicting what local shoppers are thankful for. These videos will be released one at a time in a buildup to the big day.

    Also, the Lakewood Chamber is promoting its annual Holiday Bid & Buy Online Auction where items are solicited from local businesses to auction off and raise money for our economic development programs. The goal is to use this as a tool to remind people to BUY LOCAL on Small Business Saturday.  

    We want to help you get the word out about your own Small Business Saturday deals. Let me know what special promotions your business plans to feature this year and we’ll promote them on the COSE Twitter account.

    Grasshopper
    Next up: Begging for Biz is NOT how to Grow Share of Wallet

    Begging for Biz is NOT how to Grow Share of Wallet

    Cross-selling, up-selling, probing for needs and more were a few of the pointers Dave Harman from Sandler Sales Training shared with OHTec members last week. And some pretty insightful ideas from Amazon that small tech companies can “borrow” were shared, too. 

    Dave Harman

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    Cross-selling, up-selling, probing for needs and more were a few of the pointers Dave Harman from Sandler Sales Training shared with OHTec members last week. And some pretty insightful ideas from Amazon that small tech companies can “borrow” were shared, too. 

    Check out the podcast here.



    Pre-Check