Imagine you are standing in front of a business meeting leading a sales cheer with pom-poms. Would you feel ridiculous and uncomfortable? If you answered no, you get my kudos for being more outgoing than I am.

I recently was charged with this role during a sales growth seminar at the Southern Building Material Association's annual Summer Management Conference and Leaders Meeting, which took place Aug. 4–6 in Virginia Beach, Va., and I was not alone in garnering a few laughs from the group. Another executive had the honor of donning a red cape and cajoling the dealers in attendance to repeat the mantra of cartoon character Mighty Mouse, “Here I come to save the day.”

The point of these humorous exercises, which were led by sales trainer, author, and consultant Bob Janet, was to get noticed and be remembered. I can tell you firsthand that it works. The day following the session, at least 10 people that I had not met before introduced themselves to me and engaged in conversation, usually beginning with the question: “Weren't you the cheerleader?” Indeed, I was, and it helped to open up some interesting dialogues because there was a point of reference, something that people remembered and wanted to talk about. I wasn't selling anything, but I saw the value of having a distinction among many people.

The same theory holds true among companies competing for customers' attention. “You need the hook,” Janet explained during the meeting, you need to do unique things to get noticed. That means making your company stand out and engaging potential clients to make sales. One of the easiest ways to do that, he said, is to have “aggressive persistence.” Sixty percent of customers buy on the fifth request, he noted, and 90 percent would prefer to buy from someone they trust. Therefore, you need to find ways to be recognized in the business community and then follow through with stellar service and support.

“It's your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude” in sales, Janet said. This relates directly to your ability to develop distinct personal connections with customers and is related to Janet's No. 1 rule of selling: The person who can most easily solve a customer's needs and wants will be the one to get the sale.

Additionally, it's easy for your customers to forget about you, so you should have at least five ways to actively involve them in sales. Janet didn't recommend pulling out the pom-poms for a cheer, but he did have some great advice on how to stand out from the competition:

  • Survey your customers to find out what they like best about your organization and what they like least. Both personal interviews and formal surveys work.
  • Use referral marketing, which is one of the best forms of advertising. It's fine to pay for referrals, where you offer an incentive to a customer. It's also acceptable to make referrals part of a deal where, for example, you offer a customer a good price in return for recommending your company to others. You also can exchange referrals with clients as a quid pro quo.
  • Ask questions first and then offer advice to your customers. People like to talk about themselves, so you need to listen very intently to them.
  • Involve customers in the sale and make them feel like they have a choice. “When you give people choices, they think that they are in control,” Janet said.
  • Stay in touch with your customers and send thank-you cards.
  • Finally, he recommends that you treat every customer like a millionaire—because even if they are not one now, they might be one day.


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