Don't Just Sell: How Being a Trusted Advisor Can Yield Big Business

Selling isn’t just selling. It’s about building a relationship with your customer. Here’s how you can do that.

People buy from people they know and trust.

You’ve probably heard that sentence a million times. But how do you build that trust with your customer so that you’re able to close your sale? Nationally known sales trainer and consultant Marvin Montgomery says it’s all about becoming a trusted advisor to your customer during the sales process.

Below are the steps you can begin taking now to gain your customer’s trust.

Take time to listen

The first step along the road to becoming a trusted advisor is taking time to listen to what your customer says. This is important because it allows you to sell on value and not price. You can show your client how you will design a custom-made solution for your client.

Offer a solution

Once you have ascertained what the customer’s challenge is, you can present your solution. Don’t just do an information dump here, Montgomery says. Walk through a needs analysis once the customer has explained what they’re looking for.

There’s no such thing as ‘no’

Don’t use the word, “No.” It’s never “no.” Instead, Montgomery says, you should be using the words, “Not now.” Make plans to follow up with the customer later on to get an update on what their current needs look like and whether your product or service might be needed now.

The follow up

By the same token, your sale isn’t complete just because your customer gave you a, “Yes.” Take time to follow up with your customer after the sale and continue to build on the relationship that you started.

At the end of the day, the techniques listed above will help you overcome objections and better explain how what your company is selling matches up with what your customer needs. For a deeper dive on the power of prospecting, and the latest sales techniques and fundamentals, register for the Nov. 2 Sales Academy, led by Montgomery and his fellow sales trainer Hal Becker. 

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  • Next up: Don't Sell Yourself Out When You're Selling

    Don't Sell Yourself Out When You're Selling

    You don’t have to forfeit your self-esteem just to land a sale. Consider these do’s and don’ts.

    Selling professionally can sometimes require the modification of your behavior and the altering of preconceived ideas. But how do you stay flexible with your approaches to selling without compromising your integrity or convictions for your company?

    Selling professionally is a process. You can't conquer the process overnight. And no two people will learn the system in the same period of time. Conquering the art of professional selling is a lot like learning to ride a bicycle. People don't learn to sell at a seminar, although attending seminars is a good idea. Nor do they learn to sell from tapes, books and videos. These are useful tools—similar to how training wheels and a parent’s balancing hand are useful when learning to ride a bike.

    Unfortunately, many people believe that there's a shortcut to learning how to sell professionally. By the tens of thousands, these are the people who every year attend seminars and buy books and tapes that are produced by self-appointed sales training experts who entertain, but don't teach. Popular sales trainers have promulgated the idea that it's a salesperson's duty to sell by the numbers. Give presentation after presentation to anyone who will listen, and eventually someone will buy!

    I'm prepared to tell you that's all wrong. There's no self-esteem in that kind of selling. In fact, it's not selling. It's clerking. And it doesn't work anymore. One of the keys of being truly successful at selling is staying true to yourself and your business that you’ve worked so hard to create.

    Keep the integrity of your business and your confidence high with these do’s and don’ts of selling:

    DON’T give presentations to anyone who will listen; DO be targeted and intentional.

    DON’T perform a “dog and pony” show every time you pitch your business; DO make sure you subscribe to the theory that sometimes less is more.

    DON’T roll over like a puppy dog; DO keep in mind that the customer may not always be right.

    DON’T be subservient; DO feel confident enough that no matter how much you want the business you should never forfeit your self-esteem.

    DON’T be overly enthusiastic about your product or service if that’s just not in your nature; people can tell if you’re faking it so DO act genuinely.

    DON’T allow prospects to shop your proposal; DO attempt to control your prospect’s buying process.

    DON’T just get involved in any sales training program; DO learn and develop a good sales process that works specifically for your team.

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

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  • Next up: Effective Networking Is Right in Front of Your Face

    Effective Networking Is Right in Front of Your Face

    Small business owners are always trying to figure out how to effectively network and they keep looking for new ways when in fact the basic old ways work well. Many of the processes to meet new clients has changed with social networks, the Internet and creative new ways to bring business owners together. But, once you meet additional business owners and/or key professionals, what is your response and more importantly what is your first or immediate response process? That is the KEY because today we have less time to make that impactful first impression.

    Before you commit to making changes you need to figure out an important question: What separates your company from the rest? Generic answers don’t work anymore, such as, “We provide great customer service,” because I hope you do provide that type of service or you should not be in business. Determine the one or two aspects that truly separate your business from the rest and surround your networking with that one thought in mind and deliver the message strongly and passionately.

    That leads to one thing clients and buyers love to see: passion and belief in your product. There is nothing better to encounter or deliver in a networking situation than to feel passion from you and receiving it from someone else. I believe there is a real sense in each of us to want to be associated with people who have passion.

    The last thing that should be the first thing when you meet potentially new clients in a networking setting is to ask them first, “What do you do and who is a prime target client I should look for if I refer someone to you?” Once again, this shows interest in them and desire to help them grow their business. Once they have answered your questions, they will ask you what you do. Be prepared to separate yourself from the rest with your answer.

    Networking in action
    I am constantly asked how to meet new clients. I still cannot believe this is a problem. I have a constant challenge to find the time to meet all of the new potential client leads. One day, I figured out how many different events I attend with local and regional professional organizations, how many speaker presentations I attend and the list goes on. Guess what? The room is FULL of potential new clients. I started telling myself I am missing the boat at each of these events.

    So, I set a goal that each event I go to I find someone in that room that I might slightly know, but not in a big way or someone I do not know at all. I approach at least one or two people at each event and exchange business cards. I make sure we have a short, but meaningful exchange as previous explained.

    Once I get back to my office within the next three days I send them an email explaining how I enjoyed meeting them and want to meet them again for breakfast, lunch or coffee. I explain the purpose is to learn more about them and their business because I might have future referral for them once I know more about their business and services or products.

    Amazing things take place. People look forward to meeting new business people, polite people, professional people and good hearted people. I have never had anyone turn me down and I have built some great friendships and business-ships.

    What amazes me most is that all of this was right in front of my face for years and I just didn’t see it. NOW, I am passionate about never letting another opportunity slip by me. My networking is a whole NEW ballgame and it is working really well! Call me and lets meet.

    Timothy Dimoff
    President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security Expert
    Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at

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  • Next up: Effective Social Media Practices for Small Businesses

    Effective Social Media Practices for Small Businesses

    When it comes to social media, there are several effective practices your small business should consider. Check out this recap of a recent COSE WebEd Series webinar for tips and tricks to maximizing engagement on your social channels and scroll to the bottom for the full presentation.

    Contrary to popular belief, social media in and of itself is not a strategy. It’s a tactic that needs to be folded into your existing marketing strategy.

    During the most recent episode of the COSE WebEd Webinar Series, Kasey Crabtree, president of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the American Marketing Association, highlighted that there’s been a jump in social media use by adults from just 20% to close to 70%, led by Facebook, with Instagram a close second. With that in mind, Crabtree laid out some tips businesses could employ to maximize their social media ROI.

    Be authentic

    Authenticity is a key factor when it comes to social media. One of the reasons social media was so popular early on was that people were draw to the sense of authenticity. Businesses then started to move in on social media and capitalize on that desire for authenticity.

    When it comes to Gen Xers (ages 35 to 54), 85% want to know that the brands they support are authentic—and they know when you’re being real and when you are not. If you’re a business owner, nobody is going to have the same passion about your business as you do. When you bring that passion to your social media personality, it can come across as being truly genuine. If you’re unable to do that yourself then Crabtree suggests that you partner with someone who can help you get that passion into words or photos on your social platforms.

    There are two main ways to go about increasing the authenticity and passion in your social personality.

    Authenticity Tip No. 1: Showcase happy customers. Sometimes this comes naturally just by having a good product or service that satisfied customers are willing to post about—and you can then share those testimonials with your larger audience. Sometimes it might require putting the idea out there or directly asking a happy customer to participate. So find your passionate customers and showcase their posts, and your audience is sure to love the passion you exude.  

    Authenticity Tip No. 2: Put your genuine feelings on display. Your genuine feelings can touch other people—especially when accompanied by a proper visual at the right time. Sometimes you have to take off that business façade and allow yourself to be a little vulnerable. If you can let that part of what you put out there, then people will respond.

    Stay mindful of best practices

    When it comes to posting, Crabtree indicates that, in addition to being authentic, there are five other best practices you should consider.

    Best Practice Tip No. 1: Be brief. These days, most people are looking at stuff on their mobile devices. Shorter posts are more likely to keep your audience engaged, and will also hopefully require less effort, time and editing.

    Best Practice Tip No. 2: Be quick. Get to your point early in the post—because, again, everyone is busy and flying through everything.

    Best Practice Tip No. 3: Encourage engagement. Ask questions to get people involved. What do you think? Which do you prefer?

    Best Practice Tip No. 4: Give a call to action. Make sure it’s something relevant to your product, but give your audience a directive that achieves your goal. Don’t be too sales-y but make it clear what you want people to do—go to your website, sign up for an event or register to join.

    Best Practice Tip No. 5: Increase impressions. Always make sure to tag a company or another person, or use a hashtag when possible. This will naturally help increase how many people view your post.

    Match your voice to the channel

    Not all social media platforms have the same feel and characteristics. So your personality on that platform should correspond appropriately. Here’s a breakdown of each one and how you can best utilize them to accomplish your goals.

    Facebook: Probably the social tool you’re most familiar with, Facebook is seen as the friendliest, most community-oriented platform. Facebook presents the opportunity for the longest posts and is the best option for posting videos. With Facebook, it is important to use some sort of visual with each post. If you are just using text, your post will have little opportunity for viewing. Also, your important posts will rarely be seen if you aren’t putting money behind them. A professional should be able to help you decide how to best use money to boost your posts.

    LinkedIn: Known as the professional platform, LinkedIn is the best place for networking and posting or looking for job opportunities. You can show some personality but depending on your profession, people might expect you to be more businesslike.

    Twitter: If you haven’t tried Twitter before, Crabtree advises doing a practice run with a fun, safe name and follow people and observe how to get a feel for how it works. Be smart and avoid talking politics, religion and sex unless those topics are your niche. People love talking about sports, pets and food so those are all safe topics.

    Instagram: This is a photo-based platform and people must follow you for you to be consistently seen. With Instagram, people search a lot via hashtags and might find you easiest that way. Crabtree indicates that, of all of the platforms, you want to make sure you especially don’t over-post on Instagram. When it comes to your business, stick to posting photos of more universal interest. Don’t get into posting a ton of your family for your professional site. Be sure to crop and use filters for best framing, and of course be sure to use hashtags as well.

    Hire a pro

    Do you know how to stay up-to-date on social media stuff and do you even have the time to do so? It’s an ever-changing landscape of technology and it can be time-consuming and overwhelming to figure out.

    Hiring a professional will help you:

    • Keep up on changes;
    • save you time and aggravation;
    • figure out “pay to play” so that you’re making the most out of the social media algorithms when it comes to your dollars spent; and
    • determine how to best go about advertising on social media.

    You’re (probably) not a plumber so you aren’t going to do your own plumbing. Get in touch with a marketing professional and plan out a marketing strategy that makes sense for your size and type of business. Even if you are a marketer yourself, it’s best to incorporate the perspective from an outside person into your overall strategy.

    If you would like assistance in finding the right professional for you, COSE can help.

    View the full webinar presentation below. And click here to get caught up on past COSE WebEd webinars.

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  • Next up: Election 2016: Analyzing the Results

    Election 2016: Analyzing the Results

    From the election of a new president to measures that support the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, voters across Northeast Ohio had a lot of things to consider on their ballot this year.

    From the election of a new president to measures that support the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, voters across Northeast Ohio had a lot of things to consider on their ballot this year.

    And now that the voters have spoken, it’s time to interpret the results.

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s 2016 Election Report provides a comprehensive analysis of the 2016 General Election results on GCP priorities, the Northeast Ohio business community and economic development in our city and region.

    In addition to commentary on the presidential and U.S. Senate races, we discuss the outcomes of voters’ decisions on Issue 32, the proposed 0.5 percent City of Cleveland income tax increase, and Issue 108, the four-year renewal of the 15-mill operating levy that supports the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and its high-quality charter school partners.

    Learn more about the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s advocacy efforts.

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  • Next up: Election Day Recap: Ohioans oppose marijuana, limit monopolies, approve redistricting reform, back arts and culture

    Election Day Recap: Ohioans oppose marijuana, limit monopolies, approve redistricting reform, back arts and culture

    Ohioans took to the polls and took action on a number of statewide ballot issues. Up for consideration was a bellwether marijuana legalization issue, redistricting reform, a measure to limit monopolies and oligopolies, and a tax renewal for arts and culture. Here’s a rundown of how everything played out.

    Ohioans took to the polls and took action on a number of statewide ballot issues. Up for consideration was a bellwether marijuana legalization issue, redistricting reform, a measure to limit monopolies and oligopolies, and a tax renewal for arts and culture. Here’s a rundown of how everything played out:


    Marijuana Legalization

    Ohio voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure, Issue 3, to legalize recreational marijuana.  

    Small business owners were troubled by this initiative and the rest of the country was watching.  After all, recreational marijuana use in the U.S. is new and uncharted territory and the four other states (and the District of Columbia) with legal recreational marijuana were first medical marijuana states for an average of 12 years.  Would this specific pro-legalization effort lead to a more challenging evolution for Ohio and essentially turn our state in to the nation’s “test dummy” while the rest of the country gets to watch from the sidelines?

    In the end, the electorate understood what business owners have professed all along—data, research, and experience from other legalized states have raised real concerns about both the impact of legalizing marijuana in the way proscribed by Issue 3 and the impact legalized marijuana will have on our state. 

    “Today’s vote showed that Ohioans understood that ‘Responsible Ohio’s’ ill conceived effort to own the Ohio marijuana business was absolutely the wrong approach for our state,” said Steve Millard, President and Executive Director of COSE.

    Issue 3 would have created a constitutional oligopoly for the 10 marijuana growing sites and groups connected to funding the campaign.   

    “While in this election the legalization of marijuana was defeated, we are likely to see additional attempts over the next few years on this issue.  In some ways, this campaign was a wake-up call to employers to begin to think about how they prepare for future legalization and to consider what they should already be doing in their workplace to protect customers and employees from the effects of drug use in the workplace. Even though the immediate threat of legalization has subsided, we will continue to work with, educate and support employers about what they should be doing today to ensure they can maintain a drug free workplace.  The advocates for legalization will be back and employers need to work a little more urgently to ensure they are well prepared for the potential of legalization,” said Millard.

    In separate, but related news, Issue 2 would make it more difficult for special economic interests to create monopolies, oligopolies, or cartel rights for themselves to the exclusion of other similarly situated Ohioans. While the margin of victory was smaller for this issue, Ohioans did choose to enact this protection for Ohio’s constitution, potentially thwarting future attempts from investor groups like ResponsibleOhio.  COSE supported the passage of Issue 2.


    Fair Districts for Ohio

    COSE supported Issue 1, an Ohio bipartisan redistricting commission amendment that will make for a fair, transparent state legislative redistricting process. The issue was approved by voters in a landslide and will create a bipartisan panel called the “Ohio Redistricting Commission” and enact a more collaborative, inclusive process for drawing state legislative districts in Ohio. Some supporters of state Issue 1 have vowed that they will look to put a similar proposal dealing with Congressional districts on the 2016 ballot.


    Cuyahoga County Arts & Culture

    COSE small business owners have been long-time supporters of our region’s world-renowned Cuyahoga County arts and cultural institutions. And, our support of Issue 8, a tax renewal for arts and culture institutions in the region, was reinforced with voters overwhelming approval on Election Day.  The issue is not a tax increase and by supporting the arts and culture levy, it will continue providing for:

    • more opportunity for arts education and experiences for children and the future workforce;

    • a vibrant arts and culture sector that is helping improve our economy and allows for tourism dollars to funnel in to the region that may otherwise be spent elsewhere; and

    • a secure source of funding to support the operations, programs, and services of the County’s arts and culture community as these organizations provide jobs to the region and ensure Ohio’s cultural treasures are protected for future generations.

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