Sales Q & A: Goal vs. Objective

If you own a small business, then you need to know how to sell. So, what are your most pressing sales questions? Let us provide expert answers to them in this new Mind Your Business series.

With this article, we are introducing a new series inviting questions about sales pitches and responding to them. A COSE member recently asked about the specific objective of an effective sales pitch versus the goal. Here’s a summary of our conversation.

Effectively Setting a Sales Goal

Let’s start by re-examining the actual goal of any sales process. Obviously, it’s to make the sale … win the business … beat all the other competitors. But, remember that the goal from the prospect’s perspective is to choose the best provider/product/service that meets their needs and works within their limits of time, budget and staff. The two should not be mutually exclusive. Consider both sides of the proverbial coin as you work to set your sales goals.

Keeping it Classy When Losing

Also consider a counter-intuitive secondary goal for your sales process - lose with class. When you get that dreaded “Thanks, but no thanks” call or email, respond with class and style following these steps:

Classy Step 1: Thank the prospect for the opportunity to work with them and present your product/service.

Classy Step 2: Wish them success with their choice.

Classy Step 3: Ask who did win the business and why and what was your proposal lacking? This is important information that you might not want to hear but need to. And while you might not get straight answers to these questions, you’ll never learn anything if you don’t ask.

Classy Step 4: Close with a genuine wish that your paths might cross again with a future opportunity.

Classy Step 5: About the time the project should be completed or the product/service they bought should be fully operational, follow up with a call or note. Simply check in to see how they’re doing and their overall level of satisfaction.

Classy Step 6: Once in a while, the prospect may confess that their first choice didn’t work out or meet their expectations. And, by losing with class, you might get a second chance to win the day. Of course, that will rarely happen if you don’t casually check in with them.

Setting Pitch Objectives

That all said, the specific objective of the sales pitch is also important, but very different. Consider this approach: The objective of your sales pitch is to provide the prospects with all the information they need or want to make a fast, fact-based and logical decision on whether or not your product or service meets all their needs. Sounding rather counter-intuitive, you can accomplish your sales pitch objective by showing the prospect that you’re not their best choice. So, you can lose the goal while still winning the objective—no small solace, I realize.

Next time, we’ll consider another question about sales pitches. Until then, if you have a topic you’d like to have us discuss, contact me anytime.

Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, 440-449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.  


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  • Next up: Save Time Using Office Depot’s Product Subscription Function

    Save Time Using Office Depot’s Product Subscription Function

    Does your organization purchase the same products on a recurring basis? Office Depot’s product subscription allows you to schedule and control automatic deliveries on your organization’s favorite products. The subscription service makes thousands of products available for automatic delivery including ink & toner, paper, coffee, cleaning supplies, water, shipping materials, snack boxes, and so much more. Simply follow the steps below and you’re all set.

    office depot subscription function

    As an added bonus, you can receive special discounts on subscription purchases for thousands of eligible products. Plus, if the product is on sale when your subscription ships, COSE Members will receive the subscription discount in addition to the sale price.

    You can easily modify, skip or cancel your product subscription at any time. Yes, it's easy to change or cancel your Subscription.  All you have to do is sign in to your Office Depot account and open Subscription Manager.  Here you can change the frequency, item quantity, skip a delivery, or cancel your Subscription.  You can also update your payment information.

    What’s Trending?

    It’s no surprise that among Office Depot’s most popular subscription items are paper, toner, and coffee! Office Depot’s large assortment of printing supplies offer an easy and risk free way to cut costs, without sacrificing quality. COSE recently added to the Core List over 20 new multi-use copy paper options, including color and recycled paper. We further increased the opportunity for our members to maximize their office supplies savings with the addition of over 200 remanufactured toner products. The Office Depot brand replacement toner and inkjet cartridges can save you up to 30% off the price of the equivalent national brand cartridges.

    Coffee is another popular subscription item. Office Depot carries a variety of coffee options, including Executive Suite® brand, now available in K-Cup® pods. Right now, you can get a free coffee maker with a two-year coffee subscription.

    To learn more about Office Depot’s subscription service click here.


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  • Next up: SBA Hosts National Regulatory Fairness Hearing

    SBA Hosts National Regulatory Fairness Hearing

     

    The Small Business Administration (SBA) National Ombudsman office held a National Regulatory Fairness Hearing in Washington on August 19.  The office is responsible for investigating and resolving challenging rules or regulations for small businesses and GCP volunteer leader Keith Ashmus of Frantz Ward serves on the Regulatory Fairness Board. 

    The hearing afforded a unique platform for small businesses to surface concerns regarding inequitable federal regulatory enforcement actions taken against small businesses involving any federal agency which impact them, their members, or others in the small business community.

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    Comments and concerns raised at the regulatory fairness hearing will be directed to the appropriate federal agency for a fairness review to reduce undue regulatory burdens, while helping small businesses succeed. 

    Click here to visit the SBA Office of the National Ombudsman’s website.

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  • Next up: Senate OKs Priorities, State Budget Bill Due Soon

    Senate OKs Priorities, State Budget Bill Due Soon


    The state legislature has a few days to iron out their final priorities for Ohio's next two years of policy in a multi-billion-dollar spending bill that sets the state budget.  Last week the Ohio Senate passed their version of a proposed FY20-21 budget. A final bill will be presented to the Governor by month’s end and after the Ohio House and Senate conference.

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    After the Governor prescribed no significant tax changes earlier this year, the Ohio Senate recommended an 8% income tax decrease and the Ohio House approved a 6.6 percent income tax cut. That aside, GCP has continually requested state leaders consider the following:

    Preserve Ohio’s current small business tax deduction, which is utilized by our members for reinvestment back into their companies, workforces, and communities.  Reducing the deduction for business income, as proposed by the House, by 60% is significant and it would seriously jeopardize future planning and investments.

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    Late last week the House and the Senate named members of the budget bill conference committee. To view a summary document of the Senate’s latest amendments, click here.


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  • Next up: Setting the Foundation for Marketing Success by Getting Back to the Basics

    Setting the Foundation for Marketing Success by Getting Back to the Basics

    Marketing can be an overwhelming part of running a small business. Here are three basic tactics you can use for a simple, cost effective strategy.

     

    Whether you are a business owner wading through the sea of marketing tools or the lone marketer in an organization trying to keep up, there are some tried and true basics to set the foundation for marketing success.  

    “Success” isn't just defined by having the latest and shiniest tools at your disposal.  Many smaller companies don't have the budget and/or staff to support them. So, what can you do to stand out from the competition in a world where the mediums to market seem daunting?

    Start with the following three basic tactics.

    Back to basics tactic no. 1: Messaging. Craft a concise message that focuses on what sets you apart from the competition. What is the one thing that you do differently from your competitors?  Even if it seems small, it may just be the reason they buy from you.

    Equally important is to make sure that the message is known and spoken across your organization. Reinforcement is what helps to build a brand so educate your entire organization on that differentiator and elevator pitch. Go holistically to the street with the same message.

    Back to basics tactic no. 2: Customer Insights. Whether you have five customers or five thousand, you should be collecting data on how your customers view you. A simple email to your top customers asking why they buy from you all the way to a survey with both quantitative and qualitative questions will help inform your differentiator. Collecting data as you grow will help you to look at past trends and, in time, predict future ones.

    Back to basics tactic no. 3: Networking. Never underestimate the power of face-to-face marketing. While social media, text, and email marketing certainly have an important role, there is still great value in one-on-one communication; especially for the sake of brand recognition and relationship building. Find conferences and events that your customers and ideal prospects will be attending. Send your entire team—not just those in sales—to network. 

    A great example for networking in the technology space is Tech Pint. It’s a place for technology practitioners from many different industries to socialize and learn, typically over drinks. This is relationship building at its finest as it is peer-to-peer only. It removes the direct sales piece from the equation.

    Another idea is to host an event for your customers and top prospects. Whether it’s a sporting event, happy hour, or lunch and learn, adding in a brief learning component can go a long way with creating customer loyalty and new at-bats. Also, it’s scalable based on budget.

    To recap, set the foundation for marketing success by knowing who you are in the competitive landscape and what your customers want, and by making sure you stay in front of them. The tools are the means to simplify the tactical and cast a wider net. Without a solid foundation, the tools just become noise.

    Nicole Ponstingle is the COO and a partner at Pandata LLC, a Cleveland-based data science consulting firm.

     

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  • Next up: Share Thoughts on Workforce Needs: Take In-Demand Jobs Survey

    Share Thoughts on Workforce Needs: Take In-Demand Jobs Survey

    A new survey tool launched by InnovateOhio and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation will help the State of Ohio direct its spending to train Ohioans for the workforce. Currently, the state’s In-Demand Jobs List—which will utilize survey data—directs the spending of 85% of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act training funds.

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    The survey tool was developed with businesses of all sizes in mind and is open to all registered Ohio businesses, giving both small and large companies the opportunity to have their voice heard. The tool offers a simple user experience and allows businesses to give input on the state’s current and future workforce needs.

    Interested in sharing your perspective in how Ohio prepares people for the workforce? The In-Demand Jobs survey is available now here. The State’s updated In-Demand Jobs List will be published at the end of 2019.

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