This past week AMA hosted its first certificate program of the semester which was a great success! This certificate program was centered around financial services and AMA brought in U.S. Bancorp, Federated Insurance, and Northwestern Mutual to talk a little bit about their companies. If you had the opportunity to attend this certificate, you were able to to hear about the many potential job and internship opportunities that are available as well as gain first hand knowledge about what its like to work in this field
These companies were broken up into 4 separate presentations, each offering their own spin on the insurance and financial services industry. The first presentation focused on the local branches of U.S Bank. One thing that stuck out about this presentation was the potential for upward mobility. The speaker talked about how If you get a job at a U.S. Bank and you put in the time, work, and training. You could potentially be running your own branch by your mid-20’s! The other U.S. Bancorp presentation focused on the mutual fund and investment portion of the company. Although you may think this presentation was all about numbers, there was actually little talk about finance at all! So even if you think investment isn’t your expertise, a job with U.S Bancorp could still be one to consider. Another presentation that stressed customer relationships was Federated Insurance. Federated takes customer relationships so serious that new employees start off with a 10 month paid training program before they even send them off in the field! They do this to not only make sure that their employees meet their standards but to also make sure they are prepared for success. This is something that Northwestern Mutual also focused on. Northwestern Mutual talked a lot about their internship opportunities and the training they offer during this program. These internships are commission based which may scare away some people, but Northwestern Mutual’s internship program has been voted in the top 10 in the nation for over 10 years! Even if a job in insurance and financial services isn’t an area where you have considered before, it’s hard to ignore the opportunities that these companies have to offer!
March 19th, 2014
There are many wonderful developmental and selling books that are popular among business professionals, but I focused on one in particular, The American Marketing Association Handbook for Successful Selling.” This book was split into eight sections consisting of and not limited to skills of being a professional salesman, knowing yourself, and then applying your skillset to the business sales cycle. Even if you are not a salesperson, you are a salesperson. You are selling everyday whether it is selling your product, ideas, or yourself. Another secret with the successful salesmen is to remember to listen more than they speak in order to discover the benefits their prospect want and need.
There are many “secrets” uncovered in this text; the first being that salesmanship is a skill, not a talent. Many people talk of a “born salesperson,” which is not true. Professional salesmanship is a learned skilled that you, me, and anyone can learn. Knowledge is crucial for quality sales personal. One must know their product/service, customer needs/wants, competition, and the industry. As previously stated above, the magic word in selling is— to listen. Too many inexperienced salesmen operate under the misconception that their gift of gab will get them the sale; however, nothing could be farther from the truth. People do not buy products, but rather buy the satisfaction and benefits that will be attained from the products. Put the focus on the customer and need-satisfying benefits while translating your features to their benefits. When making the sale access your customer’s buying sty le and make adjustments when needed. They are more likely to buy when they are comfortable. You will frequently get price as an objection, but remember not to jump to lower your price as a result. When you build value and benefits to a level higher than the price, you will get the sale.
The next focus was about selling the most important product of all—you. Accept full responsibility and accountability for yourself; no one else can do it. Success or failure, winning or losing, it is all in your hands. It is important for you to discover your true self, beliefs, values, and then to take pride in the person that you are while setting high goals. Remember to cherish your failures as lessons for growth, know the difference between right and wrong, and know your ultimate enemy—ineffective time management.
Communication is essential in the business world, especially in sales. Whether you realize it or not, you are always communicating. If you are not following up on calls on your prospects, if you are not sending cards and thank-you notes, you may be conveying that you are taking their business for granted or that you just do not care. We must be conscious of everything we and others send and be sure we are sending the messages we intend to send along with actively listening. Sales professionals need to have a solid base of correct facts along with rational, logical thought. It is important to listen and observe communication cues to achieve our objectives and also know how to deal with relationships and emotion. The book then leads into more of a focus on the professional sales process.
When prospecting and preparing for a sales call there are a few key skills that one should add to their toolbox. New salesmen want to meet with anyone that can, but remember that in order for it to be useful they must be adequately qualified. You can meet with 50 clients in a week, but if only 15 are qualified and interested, then you are wasting both your time and your client’s time. Create your personal base of prospect and referrals to make calls upon when you are looking for more leads. Prepare your information for both convincing the client to meet with you in person as well as the content for the meeting.
Many people are nervous about sales presentations. The more prepared you are the easier it will get and the less nerves you will have going into the meeting. If the client is coming to meet in your office, ensure that the room is clean and that all of the presentation materials/devices are working and ready. Begin by building rapport and capturing their attention. Once you have gained their interest, you can start asking questions, create vivid images of their future success, and help them make a discovery. During these steps make sure that the client is doing the majority of the talking and challenge yourself to make them see that they need the change. When the client sees the value, the close will be easier and can almost become an assumptive close.
Objections and closing can sometimes be the most challenging part of the sales cycle for new in role salesman. The more experience that one gets, the better the presentation will be, and less work will go into answer the objections and the closing. When closing remember that knowledge is power, the power is inside of you so make sure that you come off as strong and confident, and then remember that others enhance your power. Negotiation is an important skill when closing, but begin with a position of strength while you put all components of the offer on the table. Once all of the information and objections have been communicated, tie the package all together in a mutually beneficial agreement. Especially when focused on objections, remember to listen, classify the objection, defuse the negative feelings and shift the discussion to facts and content, move from a valid objection directly into a close through denial or yield, and then move on after answer an objection. The key factor to remember here is to no let the objection take you off your course and ensure that your presentation is on track with a successful conclusion. The close is what will be remembered by the client and therefore is the clincher. There are four secrets to remember when closing. The first secret is to know when to start closing—remember ABC (Always Be Closing). You can manage this by building and confirming agreement throughout your presentation. The second secret is to know what people really want. No one wants what they can have, so remember to create a sense of urgency. The third secret is to know when and how to close the sale. Closing is a process, not isolated tactics. The final secret is to never stop after the close. If you get the order, do not skimp on service and follow-up. If you were not successful, learn from the experience and come back time after time.
Kimball, B. (1994). American Marketing Association Handbook for Successful Selling . Chicago: NTC Publishing Group.
Our future president Sara Metz wrote this review and put a lot of time and effort into it. I would like each of you to come up with question pertaining to the review and respond to two questions that others have asked. The first few members to post can come back at a future date to answer questions since none will be listed for them.
December 5th, 2013
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Chad Busse, sales representative at Direct Supply. During my time in AMA, I have learned that sales is a big part of marketing. When I thought about getting a job in marketing, I never thought it would be sales-related. This led me to really think about whether a sales job is something I am interested in or would even be successful in. When I spoke with Chad, I had one major theme in mind: How can you decide if a job in sales is for you?
The first thing I asked Chad about was what his day-to-day schedule is in a sales position. A good way to decide if a sales job is ideal is to get some insight about what happens on the job. Chad said his day starts with a lot of planning. His clients are in the South-eastern region of the United States, so he plans out which clients he is going to call, as well as what goals he would like to achieve during that day.
Many of my questions dealt with the expectations for a person going into sales. Chad told me the most important skills or character traits for being successful in sales are to be very outgoing and sociable, and also be dedicated to your individual goals, as well as long-term, large-scale goals. It is also important to be confident when speaking with clients and making a sales pitch.
So what are some ways to hone in on those skills and characteristics? Chad recommends getting in front of as many people as possible. The more social situations you can put yourself in, the more practice you can get at speaking in front of people. Chad told me the most important class he took in college–in terms of preparing him for a job in sales–wasn’t a sales class at all. Instead, Chad told me his most helpful class was Speech.
Being able to speak with someone who has a successful career in sales has definitely given me insight not only into the day-to-day demands, but also into some of the skills and characteristics that are very helpful in being successful in sales. I hope this interview has also helped you decide whether a career in sales is something you can see yourself doing.
December 3rd, 2013
I recently talked to recruiters from both Aerotek and TEK Systems to get some general tips for entering the business world. The recruiter from Aerotek talked about the importance of follow-up questions. This goes for anyone you with whom you are speaking, whether it is a potential employer, a possible client, or a significant other. In order to ask the right follow-up questions, it is required to listen properly to what they are saying. Asking proper follow-up questions helps both sides of the conversation. Depending on the other person’s response, it can reaffirm that you understand what they are trying to say. It also shows the person with whom are speaking that you were listening and understood what they were saying. Overall, follow-up questions are a great way to receive extra information from the person with whom you are speaking.
The recruiter from TEK Systems talked to me about the importance of developing and polishing an effective elevator pitch. You never know whom you may end up talking to in a given day. An elevator pitch is a very helpful tool to have if you find yourself talking to a potential employer. Elevator pitches are also extremely important for a job in sales because, as a salesperson, you are essentially giving potential clients and elevator speech about the company you work for and the product or service you are trying to sell them.
Discussion: Do you have an elevator pitch? If so, have you ever come across an opportunity where you were able to give a potential employer your elevator pitch?
December 3rd, 2013