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The most innovative sales ideas of 2016: 11-20

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Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a ten-part series identifying the best sales techniques for 2016. To view the rest of the series, click here.

20. Evaluate why clients leave — then win them back.

“Customers don’t walk away without reason, so get to the heart of why this one left. Be honest with yourself. Conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (or SWOT) analysis, assessing why your product or service was no longer perceived as having the best value.

What are the company’s weaknesses, especially in light of potential changes in the market?

Are you staying current, both in your pricing and level of service? Has the market moved beyond your capacity to stay competitive? How was your relationship with the client?

Look hard in the mirror for the underlying answers. And if you can’t be objective, put someone who was not on that account team on the case. This is not only an important first step to winning back your client; it’s critical in ensuring that more customers also do not depart.”

— Dave Mattson, CEO and president, Sandler Training

19. Close more sales with scripting.

“If you’ve got great scripts, you need to deliver them in a dynamic fashion. You must put passion, enthusiasm and confidence into your delivery. But your style should be congruent with who you are.

Step 1: Tape yourself

One of the best ways to improve your script delivery is to videotape or audiotape yourself. By watching and listening to your delivery, you will make a quantum leap in your effectiveness. The tape recorder will provide you with insights that even the best presentation coach would be challenged to impart to you.

If you are delivering seminars, it is even more critical to tape yourself. Watching and listening to yourself is only slightly more pleasant than root-canal work, but the process pays back dividends that will last you a lifetime.

Step 2: Stand and deliver

Take an acting class. You will learn lots of techniques for making scripts come alive. You will also have a lot of fun. In the same vein, take a singing class to learn how to use your voice to touch others. Singing a song is a perfect analogy for delivering a script. In both cases, you are using memorized words and an impassioned style to affect the emotions of the audience.”

— Paul Karasik, president of the Business Institute and co-author of “22 Keys to Sales Success”

18. Create a sense of urgency.

“Attach a deadline to the deal to help give the client an incentive to commit. Whether it’s a discount or something free, make them feel like they have the upper hand. This does not mean rush the customer; it simply means try to give them a little extra reason why your product or service is the right choice, and the right choice right now.”

— Adam Heitzman, co-founder, HigherVisibility

17. Form partnerships with other agents.

“Buying leads, generating leads and referral marketing should all be part of your online business acquisition strategy, but there is one more area of focus: partnerships. Like calling clients daily, agents should be calling other agents daily to form affiliate partnerships to drive their business.

These partners can be health insurance agents, P&C agents, financial advisors, etc. These are professionals that have similar clients that they often don’t offer life insurance to … until you come in the picture.

You call these professionals to form a partnership to do joint work. They refer you a client and you split the commission 50/50. Be mindful of what you are pitching to their clients. An example would be not pitching IUL as a LIRP when you are talking to financial advisors’ clients.

Partnerships are a great way to diversify your practice so you are not 100 percent reliant on any one source of revenue.”

— Nic West, director of business development,

16. Recognize that many of the remaining uninsured major medical prospects are confused.

“Listen more than we talk. What are their priorities? Understand where they are … Messages need to connect them with what’s real and relevant for them and their situation. Pushing out messages to the masses is likely wasteful.”

— Enroll America and Get Covered America webinar slidedeck, November 2015

15. Build a value machine for the long-term.

“There’s a valuable lead generation technique that most people will not have the discipline or patience to pursue. That is creating a REAL value machine for your market. This could be a blog you post to daily, or a video series you create daily … or something else.

Sounds simple, but it’s far from easy. I dare you, try it and you’ll see. Write a 100 percent value blog post every day for a month. This is work from top to bottom. That’s why it’s so effective, in my opinion. Because the majority of your competition is most likely lazy. Use that to your advantage — I am and I like the results.

Sometimes, however, you need leads yesterday so that you can put food on the table today. Even if that’s the case, ALWAYS have a long term lead generation system running alongside your short term campaigns.

Build your asset before you need it.”

— Jason Leister, entrepreneur, copywriter, editor of “The Client Letter”

14. Set an effective social media strategy.

“An effective social strategy requires content — the more original and engaging, the better. (Hint: always include a visual.) Depending on who your customer is, you will have to find a balance for how frequently and in which formats to post. Don’t count out the power of reposting or tweeting third-party material, either. The point is to get engaged with your customers; open yourself a personal account, have conversations and become acquainted with the norms and expectations of the community.

Remember, of course, that too little or too much can be equally damaging to the objective. If you constantly comment and it’s clear you just want to get people to go to your site, you run the risk of putting potential customers off. Recognize also that different social networks serve different functions — a thoughtful tutorial may be the way to capture customers’ hearts on LinkedIn but posting a time-limited discount code may be the better call in the Twitter environment.” 

— Steve Fusco, vice president and general manager of North American distribution, PayPal

13. Always smile.

“This is not just about your attitude, but also your physical manifestation. For the next week, practice smiling with everyone in every situation you encounter. Do this until you are able to argue with a smile, disagree with a smile, negotiate, overcome objections and close with a smile. Have you ever noticed that very successful people are smiling all the time? It is not because they are successful that they are smiling, it’s how they got successful. This is a million dollar tip: Smile.”

— Grant Cardone, international sales expert, New York Times best-selling author, radio show host of The Cardone Zone

12. Pursue top dogs.

“When you’re selling a product to a company, try to pitch the product to a strong executive who will take over pitching the product to any other executives who have to be won over. The strong executive knows best how to manage the company’s board and meet any objections that might arise. ‘The agent, if left alone to champion the cause of the insurance, will be in the position of the one outsider against all the insiders … If this leads to an argument, it will be a case of winning the argument and losing the case’.”

— W.J. Graham, manager of the group insurance department of the Equitable Life of New York, in the March 30, 1916, edition of The Western Underwriter (National Underwriter)

11. Direct mail still works.

“One great letter can work magic in a marketing program. The operative word is ‘great’. The difference between workmanlike and great in direct mail is as vast as the difference between a cartoonist and a Vermeer.

Take a look at your database to find customers who have stopped buying from you. A simple ‘We want you back’ letter can bring them right back before they forget you exist. I wish more companies did this. Instead, they use email now and it’s just not as effective.

I’m also starting to hear that straight direct mail letters are working very well with young males, not teenagers but the 30–50 group.

It can’t hurt to try a letter or two every now and then. It doesn’t cost a heck of a lot. In fact, your biggest expense might be the cost of hiring a really good direct mail writer. If you can get a letter to click with a test audience, you’ll have found a potential silver mine that can pay off nicely when you roll it out to larger audiences.”

— Lois Geller, owner, Lois Geller Marketing Group

Check out 2016′s best sales and marketing ideas here

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