Entrepreneur Success Starts with Step 1 – Respect

Part 1 of 5 in the RAISE Sales System blog post series for entrepreneur success.

Are you an entrepreneur who struggles with sales? If so, you’re not alone. Entrepreneur success requires strong sales skills and this struggle is a common problem that many business owners have. Entrepreneurs wear a lot of different hats and for most, selling isn’t their strongest skillset.

Respect the prospect - entrepreneur success
Entrepreneur success requires RESEPCT, step 1 in the RAISE sales system

One of the secrets to entrepreneur success is knowing how to ask for and close the sale. In this 5 part blog series, I’m going to share my signature sales system, RAISE.  I created this 5-step strategy RAISE from my 25+ years of experience across multiple industries and teach it in workshops and when doing sales coaching with clients. This is the sales process entrepreneurs and sales professionals use for dramatically increasing sales.

Download free ebook “17 Sales Hacks to Close More Sales”

RAISE is the word that is spelled out by the first letter of each of the steps in the system. This post is about the first step and each post in this series will reveal subsequent steps in the RAISE system.

The R in RAISE is for respect and I love starting with respect because this is where a relationship building begins. This is where developing the know, like and trust factors starts, so you can advance to asking for the sale.

Entrepreneur success secret #1 is Respect

You can’t close the sale if you’re no longer in the conversation. Respecting the prospect will keep you in the conversation longer than asking for the sale before they are ready to buy.

First of all, respecting where the customer actually is, and not where you wish they were in the buying process is vital to entrepreneurs success. It’s super essential to be aware of where your prospect is where their heads at what they care about where they are in the sales or buying process.

Two Ears and One Mouth for a Reason

One example is at a networking event or a party. You have connected with somebody and they did most of talking, while you do a lot of listening. At the end of the conversation, they say, “You’re a great conversationalist!” And you think to yourself, “I said so very little and you did all the talking!” There’s a reason people say we have two ears and only one mouth for a reason:-)

Why is it that the person who did the listening is a great conversationalist? Because human beings love to feel heard. When we show consideration for people and actively listen to them, they FEEL respected and valued. Plus, we find out what is important to them and that knowledge fuels our own entrepreneur success. All of this goodness also allows us to build the know, like and trust factors.

Success Story Using Respect to Sell

Now I’ll share with you an example of how amazing the Respect step is for entrepreneurs to succeed. In the late 80s, I sold construction equipment in Florida, working for the only companies in the country that had female sales. I was calling on construction sites throughout Southwest Florida and I wasn’t always welcomed. One general contractor was using the old-style, less cost effective and more dangerous scaffolding on a project that was a prime candidate for using a boomlift. He wasn’t interested in hearing about a new technology solution from a woman who he perceived didn’t know anything about construction.

How I Cracked the Tough Prospect

If I was going to have any shot at selling this customer a boomlift, I knew I needed to get creative. I realized I needed to respect where he was, no where I wanted him to be.

Since I knew he felt competent as a general contractor, I asked him about the project. He was happy to talk about it. After listening, I offered to deliver the boomlift the next day at no charge to him. If at the end of the day, he found the equipment effective, he could keep it and pay only for the rental for the rest of the time he used it. If not, I’d pick it up and charge him nothing. No risk for him.

When I called this customer at the end of the day, he told me I could leave the boomlift.  I had the sale without ever asking for it. What is important to know, is that I respected where this customer this prospect was and stayed in the conversation. When building a relationship with a prospect, starting with respecting where they are and what they value is the best first step. R is for Respect and entrepreneur success depends upon it.

Download your free eBook “From Cold to Sold” and get the 17 secrets for converting more leads to customers.

What is the lack of soft skills in millennials costing us?

We hear it often. “Millennials make eye contact. They don’t respect authority. They don’t show up on time.” Why? What happened? And how is this lack of soft skills impacting our culture and our businesses?

Millennials who have great soft skills have a huge advantage over their peers who do not.  Studies, reports and articles emerge weekly about the severity of the challenges that employers have with hiring and managing a generation that lacks people skills. That means that members of the most tech savvy generation who have solid soft skills have a serious competitive advantage in the job market.

In his recent post, “Is Lack of Soft Skills Hindering Millennials’ Careers?,” Kevin Howell cited several studies that indicate the answer is “Yes”.

Lack of soft skills is holding back Millennials in their careers

It’s such a chronic and acute problem, that, according to a recent McKinsey study, “40 percent of employers said they have difficulty filling vacancies because younger workers lack soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and punctuality. A PayScale survey found similar results, with managers highlighting leadership and ownership as skills that Millennials lack.”

What’s the cause of this lackluster skill set? Too much focus on STEM education and job? Maybe. Too much screen time? Perhaps. Some studies have shown that “social anxiety with face-to-face interaction increases with the amount of time spent online.”

“Regardless of the reason young workers struggle with soft skills, companies have to deal with it. Addressing the skills shortfall in the workplace means tailoring training and development toward those needs.”

And that means that soft skills training for millennials needs three things:

  • To be valued by millennials
  • Fun for them to learn
  • Include a lot of practice

Changing behaviors is hard and humans resist it. Shifting the way millennials interact in person is not going to be easy. Success will require engaging training, practice and accountability along the way.

This generation grew up with digital media and video games and they like activities to be fun. Gamifying soft skills training is essential to hold their attention.

Practicing new skills and repeating them often is how people skills behavior will change.

Follow up is the gold – From cold to sold to convert leads to sales

6 step process for follow-up after meeting a new contact
How to follow-up after making new contact.

Nice to meet you, now what. The steps you need to take to follow-up and convert those new contacts into customers produce the gold.

Well done. You went out there and connected with some new people. Networking can feel daunting and you did it anyway! And, now what? What’s the secret to converting that new contact into a referral relationship or customer? Knowing what to say and how to say it without sounding cheesy can be a challenge too.

Download this free eBook to get more ideas on how the pros follow-up and get more customers. “From Cold to Sold” 17 sales secrets for converting more leads to customers.

If you need to repeat it, automate it, as they say. So here’s the 6 step process I use and can recommend for you.

Follow-up is SO valuable for converting sales

  1. Always send a quick thank you email or text the same day or the next day at the latest. This shows respect for the other person’s time by prioritizing a follow up to the conversation right away. It is more important to send this quickly, rather than for it to be a comprehensive or long email.
  2. Be yourself. Authenticity is always a good approach. To pretty much everything. So, it’s not surprising that follow-up emails are no different. Since people feel good when you listen to them, include something key you heard the contact you just met say. Use your own “voice” and keep it professional. That doesn’t mean uptight, just respectful.
  3. Make a positive observation about the person, company or project that this contact mentioned. For example, comment on how you can see this work achieving the goals or being successful. This is more good evidence of your effective listening skills and which creates the know, like and trust factors
  4. Summarize the action items you agreed to do and include any you can in this email. So, if your follow-up action requires more time or a separate email, outline how and when you will complete it.
  5. Thank your new contact for the action items they offered. Because appreciation is always smart and it can be a helpful reminder to busy people who’s intentions are good and who’s schedules are full. They feel valued. And that is more know like and trust development:-)
  6. Connect with your new contact on LinkedIn, Twitter and perhaps Facebook. You’re building your network and broadening that connection to social media channels is too important to miss. 

Ready for more ideas on how to use follow-up to close more sales?

Need more customers? Download free! “From Cold to Sold”, the ebook with 17 secrets for getting more customers.

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Now that you know the 6 steps to turn your follow-up into gold, go out there and convert more sales!

Do you have suggestions for making the follow up after making a new connection even better? Bring it! I’d love to see it, so share your comments below.