Exclusive: We've covered almost everything, but did we leave out the answer to your most burning question about sales? Go to www.entrepreneur.com/shortcuts to ask us your sales or marketing question. We'll pick the 10 best reader questions and have our experts answer them online.
How to Sell to Your First Department Store
You'd think selling an innovative new beauty line to a department store would be easy, right? Wrong. No one would take my calls! But being a squeaky wheel finally paid off when I got hold of a buyer who gave me 30 seconds to make my pitch. That's when I got crafty: I explained that several (rival) stores were interested, but hers was my top choice. Sold! Flattery works every time.
--Maureen Kelly, 34, launched Tarte Cosmetics in 2000 and had sales of $15 million last year.
How to Sell to Hispanics
Don't assume your marketing resonates with the country's nearly 42.7 million Hispanics, who are projected to have $863 billion in buying power this year. To reach out successfully, get to know the culture, says Joe Zubizarreta, COO of Zubi Advertising in Coral Gables, Florida. Understand that language isn't the only differentiator, he adds. Be in the local community, have a bilingual website and staff, and prepare operationally to handle your new customers.
--Mindy Charski is a Dallas-based freelancer who regularly writes about marketing to Hispanics.
How to Use Tech to Power Up Sales
Technology won't make sales happen, but it can definitely make selling easier. Some tools to check out:
- Condense your phone, e-mail, web access and documents into one small device. The Hewlett-Packard iPAQ 510 Voice Messenger smartphone features Windows Mobile 6 Standard and advanced voice controls.
- Online tools are hot commodities right now. Jigsaw is like a massive, multiuser Rolodex where sales professionals can share contacts.
- Need a lightweight, portable projector? Check out the 2.8-pound Planar PR6020 for $1,399.
- Store your presentations and sales materials on the ultracompact, $15 1GB Kingston DataTraveler Mini Fun USB 2.0 Flash drive.
--Amanda C. Kooser is Entrepreneur's Assistant Technology Editor.
How to Sell on eBay
Through my astounding journey growing my $1 million eBay business, Koss DVD, I discovered two things: 1) Many eBay business owners don't understand how their eBay/PayPal fees and costs of running their business impact their profits, and 2) I do. I learned to track every detail of listing and selling items, and I trained myself to shy away from risky behavior--such as choosing the wrong listing format--that could lead to profit loss. Watching these details saved me a ton of money!
--Corey Kossack, 23, is founder of ProfitBuilderSoftware.com and author of eBay Millionaire or Bust (eBay User ID: kossdvd).
How to Sell Overseas
Choose exporting, a relatively easy and fast way to enter foreign markets. It involves comparatively low levels of commitment and risk, yet allows you to go global quickly. Pick a market where consumers speak your language and want your product. Check out BuyUSA.gov to learn as much as you can about the culture and market. The site can also help you find customers through customized research, an international partner search or a single company promotion program.
--Laurel Delaney is Entrepreneur's "Global Village" columnist.
How to SEO Like a Pro
Spiders love links--search engine spiders, that is. So don't just optimize your website for keywords and rest on your laurels. To climb to the top of search results--for free--get links. Not all links are created equal, though. To engage in ethical search engine optimization, think quality before quantity. Find quality blogs, magazines and sites where your content will be relevant. Next, submit a helpful comment or article. If it's accepted, you'll get a link. Here's the essential step: Link your most important keyword phrase to your site. You'll improve your rankings because spiders will follow the links from authority sites to yours--and so will customers.
--Internet marketing strategist Catherine Seda is author of the newbook How to Win Sales & Influence Spiders.
How to Sell an Expensive Product
Presentation is everything, so make your products look as attractive as possible. Whether you're promoting the item via the web, a catalog or a brochure, invest in good photography. It encourages an emotional response. Also pay close attention to the copy. If something about a product is unique, make sure you describe how. And if you want repeat business, differentiate yourself from the competition by offering something your competitors don't, be it personalized service or exclusive products.
--Kassie Rempel, 34, is founder of Simply-Soles, a million-dollar online boutique and print catalog featuring women's designer shoes.
How to Creat Buzz
Our efforts at creating buzz have had to do with simply empowering our users--giving them a suite of creative tools and encouraging them to innovate. By listening and adapting to our community and creating a scenario in which our users had a vested interest in the product, we were nine-tenths of the way to creating the early buzz we experienced. In today's computing and business environments, interactivity and participation are paramount.
--Philip Rosedale, 38, founded San Francisco-based Linden Lab, creator of virtual world Second Life, in 1999.
How to Get Out of a Sales Slump
Selling yourself out of a slump starts with a proactive attitude. Get out there and meet with as many customers and prospects as you can--whether it's face-to-face meetings, networking events or follow-up appointments. Then it's just a matter of moving contacts to the next step in the sales cycle. Sell them on a presentation, demonstration, product test or anything else that will bring them closer to buying. Progress builds confidence. Lastly, compile ideas on how you can help your prospects and customers grow their businesses. Remove what you're selling from your mind. Think instead about what your customers are buying. What motivates them? If you focus on building your customers' businesses, you'll end up building your own.
How to Make Cold Calls
Having a positive and resilient attitude is critical to success. Relationships are everything today, so when you call someone you don't already know, you're going to hit a great deal of resistance from the start. But don't let a few bad calls affect your attitude during the next call. Another key is to listen. Your prospect will warm up once you're able to get them talking about what they do, their goals or their challenges. Lastly, don't forget to follow up. I've secured more meetings and business simply by making those extra calls and catching the prospect at a better time.
--Barry Farber is Entrepreneur's "Sales Success" columnist.
How to Sell to the Government
The government market is vast, but don't let that intimidate you. Here are some quick tips to help you get started: First, start local and find nearby government agencies. Check out the Federal Executive Board website for details on the 28 U.S. cities that have federal executive boards. The contact information will lead you to a list of all federal offices in your area. Then visit the Government Express website, click on "Resources," then click the "DoD Procurement Tech Assistance Centers" link. PTACs offer low- and no-cost courses on doing business with the government. The rest of the site is full of useful information, too. Once you've found the local agencies, go in and meet people. Call and set appointments with the small-business office. Relationships help you sell in government, just like in business.
--Mark Amtower has been helping companies win government business since 1985.
How to Hire an Ad Agency
Ask other business owners about good agencies in your area. Focus on firms that do more than just advertising. Usually, a mix of services--ads, PR, direct mail, online tactics--will deliver a bigger bang for your buck. Find an agency that asks good questions. Chemistry is critical to a lasting relationship, so make sure you meet--and like--the staffers who would be working on your business's account. And be sure to call current and past clients for references.
--Gary Slack is chairman and CEO of Slack Barshinger, an award-winning Chicago marketing communications agency.
How to Put Your Customers to Work for You
Your customers want to see you succeed and to make you a part of their identity. If you've majored in relationships and follow-up, more than a few runners might show up at your 5K run, some even wearing your T-shirt. Let them tell the world about you. How? One restaurateur, for example, asked some customers to picket his place, carrying placards that read, "The food here can't be beat!" and "Best restaurant value in town!" The "picketers" drew in other customers.
Another restaurateur who was opening a new location invited 12 people to enjoy a free dinner with all the trimmings. The only thing he asked in return was that they agree to spend half an hour waiting in line outside his restaurant the next evening. They did.
Others noticed the line, the restaurant filled, and it has remained popular ever since. This restaurateur's customers were the makings of his business--in just half an hour.
--Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of Guerrilla Marketing, has sold more than 15 million books in 43 languages.
How to Sell to Teens
Teens care about the hottest brands and latest fashions. Most of us buy stuff more often than our parents, and we're more concerned with quality and the prestige that comes from wearing certain brands. But style is always evolving and there are so many brands, stores and options that we get bored quickly. Before I go shopping, I look to magazines and celebrities for the current trends, then I go to the mall to see what's available at what price.
--Cassie Kreitner is a freshman at Syracuse University. She is majoring in magazine journalism and marketing.
Selling to teens means selling to their peers. Teens trust their friends, so if you reach their peers, you eventually reach them--in large numbers. You need to brand--teens bond to brands, so do whatever it takes to get your logo and brand message in front of them--repeatedly. Also, be interactive--be high-tech and high-touch. Entice teens with contests or send postcards inviting them to your website to give their opinions.
--Ann A. Fishman is a leading expert in generational marketing.
How to Keep Your Brand Fresh
Conduct a "brand audit" once a year. Look at how your product or service is marketed and branded (your marketing messages), analyze your brand positioning (i.e., ask customers what they think of your brand), then compare the two to see how well they connect. A coffee-house owner, for example, might think she serves great coffee, while convenience or ambience may be a bigger selling point from the customer's perspective. An annual brand audit keeps you on track.
--Adapted from Start Your Own Business: The Only Startup Book You'll Ever Need (4th Edition) by Rieva Lesonsky and the staff of Entrepreneur magazine
How to Motivate Your Sales Team
- Communicate both sales goals and reasons why.
- Offer not only sales strategies, but also specific tactics.
- Use short-, mid- and long-term incentives.
- Set sales goals collaboratively with the team.
- Reward both team performance and individual effort.
- Don't dictate activity--only results.
- Use praise and recognition, never humiliation or punishment.
- Share sales success stories, not just numbers.
- Reward peer coaching and mentoring.
- Create a databank of sales tools and documents.
David Newman produces sales, finance and HR audio conferences for Business 21 Publishing.
How to Sell by Social Networking
Want to get people talking? Newsflash: They already are! They're online--chatting, collaborating, blogging, podcasting--so join their conversations. Social networking enables you to find and target niche markets easily, quickly and absolutely free. So jump in! Start an active dialog. Get to know your audience. Show them how much you care--just never lie about who you are. Your honesty and integrity add real value to your business. Get typing!