Thursday, April 30, 2009

Authenticity: Be Real And More Customers Will Listen

There's something about an authentic person that draws us to him or her.

I used to think the best salespeople were poised and polished.

They aren't. They're informed, confident and professional. But they're also real.

There's nothing fake about them. They're comfortable in their own skin.

One of the most authentic salespeople I've ever known was "Ralph".

Ralph was the real deal. He wasn't one person with customers and another with everyone else.

You might like him. You might hate him. But you respected him. He wasn't fake. He wasn't putting on a personality.

I don't even think he had a telephone voice. He just was who he was -- 24/7.

Ralph had a lot negative personality traits. He could be gruff, bullheaded and vocal. No one is perfect.

But you'd never accuse him of being inauthentic. You didn't feel he was trying to buddy up to you just to make a sale.

It's hard to trust inauthentic people. There's something disingenuous about them that makes us put up our guard.

We respect real people and prefer to buy from them.

Takeaway: Be real. Be genuine. Be yourself. And the sales will follow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Remember Me? Turn Old Customers Into New Ones...

Over the past week, I've gotten emails from a former boss, an old college classmate, a long lost acquaintance, and an extended family member. None of which I had heard from in years.

It was fun to hear from them -- mostly.

Most of them found me through LinkedIn [] (kind of Facebook for business).

Two of the four were job hunting.

Today, to get work, many people are relying on networking -- social networking online -- to find leads. Sometimes that means digging back. Way back.

In the same way, your customer database can help you dig deep.

You may not think of contacting old customers, or even recent customers. You may assume old customers have become disloyal or that recent customers already have your product and don't need to hear from you. But think again.

Old customers may be waiting for a welcome back and be glad to hear from you. (I would jump if my old phone company contacted me.) Recent customers may be a great source for referrals. Or maybe they're ready to step-up to your next level product or service. Or maybe they dropped and broke your tool and need another. Or maybe they want to buy one as a gift/ Who knows what they're thinking?

Let me remind you it is infinitely more cost-effective to keep in touch with new and old customers than to convert a prospect into a new customer.

An email or simple postcard mailing can go a long way to turning a business database into business.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some catching up to do...

Takeaway: Much in the same way it's easier to renew old friendships that to start new ones, it's easier to win business from existing and former customers.

Friday, April 17, 2009


My family vacationed in Galena, Illinois for a few days in the beginning of April.

Galena, a town of 3200 near the Iowa and Wisconsin borders, was Ulysses S. Grant's home. It’s full of history that predates Chicago (which is about150 miles east).

It's also a tourist trap.

Downtown Galena is row after row of folksy, historic storefronts carrying stuff I never knew I needed or wanted to overpay for.

It was off-season, so it was quiet. Sales were slow. That's when merchants need to be salespeople.

I was surprised by the lack of approachability of many shopkeepers. Oh everyone was nice -- most even friendly. But few were approachable.

One looked up from her book long enough to say “hi”. Another talked to a salesman the entire time we were there. One never greeted me at all.

But two impressed me with their approachability...

At a stationery store, Beth asked for a folding bone (a tool to manually score and fold cardstock). The owner spent several minutes looking, and then apologized sincerely for not finding one. You could sense her sadness.

At a popcorn store the owner greeted us with a handful of fresh caramel corn. He offered us samples of any flavor we wanted to try. He put aside his work to talk to us. We left with four bags of flavored popcorn and an ice cream cone for PJ.

As we loaded up the van to leave town, the stationery storeowner came running out to Beth.

"I found it!" she said with an excitement that was contagious.

She had two styles. We bought them both.

Takeaway: People like to buy from people they like. Being easy to talk to isn't a gimmick. It's about being real, sincere and making the customer the most important thing for that moment in time.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Early + Often

About a decade ago, a local attorney with political aspirations asked me to create an ad campaign for his law practice.

We developed a series of ads that have run in the local paper and other ad outlets nearly every week since.

On Tuesday, that attorney was elected local Village President. (Congrats, Barrett!)

I don't do political work, so I had nothing to do with the strategy or messaging of his "Mayoral Campaign".

But I believe part of his success was the name recognition that he developed over years of non-political advertising.

People prefer a name they know. That's the same whether it's in a store aisle or a polling place. Branding is branding.

Takeaway: Every time a prospect sees your brand name, you're building name recognition. Are you using all the media you can: ads, mailers, packaging, PR, etc.? Are you branding "early and often"? Frequency counts. Remind prospects. Then, remind them you've reminded them.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


All good things must come to an end. And this is the end.

It's not the economy. Not because of ethical breeches or bad judgments. I just feel it's time.

I've been writing my marketing tips for so long I don't remember when I started. It's been at least eight years.

My first tips were a paragraph or two of marketing statistics. That evolved into this longer, more personal format with a practical angle and a takeaway. It began as an email, added a blog, spurred a series of articles, a regular column in Professional Distributor and even a brief podcast on iTunes.

But, today is the last weekly Sasso Marketing Tip.

Don't feel sad. Don't think of it an end. Think of it as April Fool's prank.

Sorry. Just wanted to get your attention. But seriously, beginning next week, I plan to change the frequency of my Marketing Tip to fortnightly (that's every two weeks to you and me).
Why? Because my readership has changed over the years. So to serve everyone better, I'm creating an alternating set of tips on Selling.

Up until now I've integrated marketing and selling together. But I now have two distinct groups of readers: marketers and salespeople. So to serve them both better I've decided to create a targeted set of tips for each.

If you're on my list now you'll continue to get both. But beginning in a week or two, subscribers will be able to choose to get one tip or the other -- or both.

(Hope this April Fool's announcement gets a better reception than when Beth and I put "For Sale" on the church marquee when we were dating.)

Takeaway: Times change. Products Change. Markets change. Is your marketing changing to keep up?