Monthly Archives: December 2006

30 Minute (or less) Customer Loyalty Program

It continues to amaze me that sales people, particularly in the mortgage business, get on this grueling treadmill of always looking for people to call. I know how frustrating this process of continually looking for new prospects can be, but we often overlook our greatest source of annuity business–our past customers and their friends.

If you don’t have a personal customer loyalty program you should. I am going to show you how to create one in 30 minutes or less:

  1. Buy a Web domain, preferably your name
  2. Create a Web page about You. What you do and I why I should do business with you
  3. Start a blog. This should be about your customers, not you! Give them information
  4. Gather your past customers email addresses and start an informational email newsletter–again this is about them, not you. It will demonstrate you as the expert, keep you top of mind, and give them a simple way to refer you
  5. Get a lead management system to effectively manage ongoing sales processes and email campaigns.

Total Cost: ~$100/month

  1. Domain: $9.00 (annually)
  2. Web page: FREE
  3. Blog: Free
  4. Email Newsletter: $50/month
  5. Lead Management Software: $50/month

For 30 minutes of your time and about $100 a month, what are you waiting for? Make your past customers your best lead source!

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The Math Behind Call Center Staffing

Ever wonder how to mathematically optimize your call center staffing? Jason Stoffer has uncovered the magic website and ebook on call center staffing.

(Via Stoffer’s Soapbox.)

Key to the Complex Sale–Embrace the Naive

Whenever we are engaged in a complex sale we often forget that our prospect does not eat, drink, and breathe our business. Assuming they do typically leads them to feel venerable in the transaction–“am I stupid?,” “is this person trying to fast talk me?,” “I don’t even know enough to ask a question.”

Seth Godin gives several powerful steps to embracing that naive prospect. I would simply like to highlight the education and community tactics.

EDUCATE-use simply words, not words you used to impress your employer at the interview

COMMUNITY-make your company something people like to talk about and link to. This is where social networks, blogs, and wikis can be very important to a sale. This is my favorite. There is nothing more powerful in sales email than a link to what someone else said about you or your company on their website!

(Via Seth’s Blog.)

5 Tips for Introverts in Sales

You’re an introvert, but you are in sales?

Welcome to the club! The combination may not be as unfitting as you might think. Our tendency to build deeper relationships and listen more than we talk are assets in targeting the need that makes a prospect hit the buy button and then building a loyal and referring customer.

An article on networking for introverts caught my eye and made me think that I should give some of my own tips.

  • Be seen.

If you are like most introverts walking into a cold conversation is tough (and as disconcerting to most people being approach too). So, create opportunities to be seen and have others start conversations with you. I have found that public speaking and writing are great venues for not only sharing value first, but having people come to you.

  • Read.

Starting the conversation is hard, but sustaining can be even harder if you do not have a broad range of knowledge. The trick I use is to read the front page of each section of the daily paper (online or print edition is fine). This only takes about 30 minutes and gives you endless small talk ammo. You might even learn something or pick up a lead.

  • Listen first.

If you ask someone what they do or where they are from you are guaranteed an instant starter conversation. People love to talk about themselves. Let them. It gives you time to get comfortable and you will immediately be armed with all kinds of needs and objectives for your pitch.

  • Add value.

I always try to use the Jeffrey Gitomer principle of “Give Value First.” If you can offer some insight or recommendation that helps the person you are engaging you immediately have their attention and their interest in building a relationship.

  • Build a relationship.

Be diligent about follow-up even when they are not a current customer. This type of thoughtful, regular interaction constantly gets me conversations like “what are you working on?,” “I have a friend that may be interested in something like that.”

Maximize your natural tendencies as an introvert to boost your sales opportunities instead of attempting to become an extrovert. You will have a lot less awkward conversations and a lot more sales conversations.

Why You and Not Countrywide

Why you and not Countrywide?

The products are the same. Their name is bigger. Their rate is probably better. They probably have a piece of mail, with a great offer, sitting in your prospect’s mailbox right now.

Time to give up and throw in your mortgage broker license?

That is up to you, but I like your odds if you do what Countrywide can’t.

You are a broker. You represent the customer. Let them know that on every call. While the Countrywide or other large mortgage bank is churning through new bodies looking for new “transactions” to feed the monster. You can build a relationship that puts the person you are serving at the center of the sale. Here are a couple of suggestions to set your sale apart from a typical big mortgage transaction:

  • Start every call with a needs assessment and financial objectives
  • Send them an article from the Internet that supports your recommendation on dealing with the current rate environment
  • Give them your personal cell phone, and tell them to use it
  • Send them a link to your personal web page or blog with pictures of your family on it
  • Ask them their hobby, and remember it occasionally with a special touch by sending an article or small gift

Now, for the big punch. Once they are a customer treat them like one. Start a customer loyalty program that treats all of your closings like valued clients. Here are a couple of suggestions that are simple and can be automated for less than $20/month:

  • Start an electronic newsletter with mortgage market news and alerts to call you
  • Remember birthdays and other special events in your clients lives
  • Call them at least twice a year to do a mortgage check up

I guarantee you the big boys don’t position themselves as client advocates and mortgage professionals. Make that valued “broker” relationship and service a competitive advantage.

Selling the NASCAR Way

Ever wonder what happens during a pit stop at a race track? How is it possible that four tires are changed, fuel added, windshield cleaned, and adjustments made all in less than 30 seconds? I can’t even get off the couch that quick sometimes. Think about it, there is not much you can do well under 30 seconds, yet these guys win hundreds of thousands of dollars based on how effectively they utilize that half a minute. Pit crews have almost perfected a technique called SMED. And guess what? The same technique can carry your sales to first place too.

Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) is a technique I used to use as a Management Consultant and was created years ago at Toyota by Shigeo Shingo. The concept started as a method to change out parts on high usage machines on shop floors. The problem that was being solved for was that often it would take days, sometimes weeks, to change over a machine in order for it to run the next product. This downtime cost the company thousands of dollars. Toyota got to the point where these changeovers would take–you guessed it, a single minute.

Mr. Shingo had discovered that there were two different types of activities occurring during any changeover–external and internal. External activities, were those that could be performed while the machine is running (making money) and the internal activities, were those that could only be performed while the machine was off. By breaking the process down into these discrete activities, the machine only had to stop running for the shortest amount of time possible, a single minute. Pit crews perform this same way and can achieve the same quick turn. They only do the activities that have to be completed when the wheels are stopped.

How does this relate to sales? For years, this was a technique primarily confined to manufacturing. Popular thinking was always that sales was “too unpredictable”, “too irregular” to measure effectively. Well, I disagree. The SMED technique is exactly what sales organizations need to succeed. I have seen how applying the SMED technique to sales yields the same type of exponential successes for those with the discipline to put it to work in growing their businesses.

The first step is to understand what is happening when the “sales machine” is running. When you are actively contacting, communicating, or attempting to contact a potential client, current customer, or lead- this is when your “machine” is running. Activities such as meetings, networking, calling, emailing, or other communication methods are the internal activities that occur while the “machine” is running. Everything else is external. I am not sure if you caught the impact of that last statement, so I will write it again. EVERYTHING else is external. What does that include? Research, finding prospects, writing contracts, creating new sales pitches, and filling out expense reports–are you seeing the point?

Using this technique will increase your “uptime” to at least 8 hours per day. Imagine how many calls or emails you could make if they were the only things you were doing “while the wheels are turning.” Your contact rate and ultimately your client list will go through the roof!

The key is moving activities you insert in as “part of your day” that don’t contribute to your sales success. Move them to times when your prospects are unavailable, like early mornings and evenings. Turn that new found time into more calls during your “uptime.” What about researching the night before you call your leads so that instead of making 3 calls in an hour, you can make 10-15?

I challenge you to SMED your sales. Find a tool that will help you organize your opportunities and assist you to increase your call volume. Determine what you can do externally, leaving your eight hour day to do what makes money in sales–talk to people!

–Keith Burwell



5 Steps to Emails that Work

Open up your Inbox and you can see, anybody with a computer can create an email, and apparently does. The trick is making your email get results. In any campaign, it is imperative that you gain the reader’s attention, make them feel their pain or notice their competitive disadvantage, and then fix it with your product. If your successful, you start a conversation that will lead you into what you do best–selling. Below are the five most important elements getting your emails opened and converted into sales conversations.

  1. This Time It’s Personal– Who are you talking to? This is an email, not a billboard or a magazine. You have to show the individual person that you know them. Or at least care to know them. Use their name in the body of the email. If you were meeting them in person, you would call them by name, right? Do the same in the email. Besides, an email with my name in it gets read. If it doesn’t look like you know me or want to, good luck.
  2. A Tailored Fit– Not all clients are equal. You need to make it speak to them. I hear you- “But, Keith, I don’t know them yet! How can I tailor an email?” Good point-I like where your heads at-but no-you’re wrong. You want to be different? You want to stand out? This is where it happens. Are you contacting a business? Find out about their company, their industry, their market. Are you contacting an individual? Talk regionally, sports teams, news, etc. Here’s the little secret- it’s not necessarily what you say, it’s the fact that you said it. You took the time to be different from everyone. Your extra work/effort is obvious You took the time talk about them, not you.
  3. Give It To Me Straight– Why do you take the medicine the doctor prescribes you? Because it tastes great? Because it looks good? No. You take it because the doctor told you that you have a problem and the medicine will fix it. You never would have swallowed the pill if she didn’t tell you it would cure the problem, right? Same with your email. The prospect will never buy your product until you tell them what their problem is and show them that your medicine is the antidote.
  4. Talk In Their Language– English? That’s not what I mean. Using the doctor analogy again, if they give you medical jargon that you don’t understand, you would look glassy eyed at them and do nothing. Speak in your language- “6 months to live”-now you’re buying what the doctor’s selling. Same with your business-don’t assume your vocabulary is the same as the prospects. The messaging can get lost just like your email.
  5. Don’t Leave Me Hanging– How do you end your emails? Are you setting assumed appointments? Are you asking them a question that needs answered? Are you telling them when you will call to follow up? In order for you to turn a prospect into a client, you have to control the communication until it reaches the next stage. Otherwise, you just set the table for the next guy who will.

Take the time to make the email meaningful. Your prospect will read the email if you make it readable and they will take action if you make them. When it comes down to it, the success of the email depends on you. Stop assuming the prospect gets it. Leave no doubt in your mind or theirs.

–Keith Burwell