Today Jane is bringing you an interview with a professional sales and marketing manager who has all the inside advice on how to be successful at those two extremely vital tasks. Our Smart Man Online interview is with George Kittredge, author of the book There's a Fine Line Between a Groove and a Rut. He's also the Marketing Advisor at WME Books, our parent company.
We contemplated for a very long time before asking George to give us an interview. The worry we had was that this would be seen as self-promoting. But, nothing is farther from the truth. The fact that George is a part of the WME Books team has nothing to do with our desire to bring you this interview. We bring it to you because it's relevant, it's timely, and the raves we're hearing about his book convinced us that others would benefit from George's insight into sales and marketing. Enjoy...
Lip-sticking: We're especially impressed with your book, George. And it has nothing to do with the fact that you brought it to us to publish. Tell us how long it took you to think of your title, since titles are really critical in the promoting of any publication.
George: Perhaps surprisingly, the title of my book came to me very early in the book’s development. Over many years I have occasionally used the phrase "There’s a fine line between a groove and a rut" as a comment when discussing how difficult it can sometimes be to maintain an extremely high level of performance.
As I thought about my book, I searched for a theme that I could weave throughout the chapters. The groove and rut phrase seemed to fit nicely with business and sales success. Also, I tend to use sports analogies when I explain things. Phrases like, "you can’t hit it if you don’t swing at it," is another way of saying that you can’t get the order if you don’t ask for it. The introduction to my book offers a good illustration. On the very first page I start talking about the ups and downs of a professional golfer. As any business owner can testify to, there are lots of ups and downs in business as well. So, once I started with the groove and rut theme, it seemed to fit very well as I negotiated through the book.
Lip-sticking: Why "Fine Line Rules"? What does that mean?
George: Success in building a client base is not an exact science. However, I think most of us agree that there are some basic principles and practices that tend to produce positive results on a more consistent basis. I also think that in order to stay in a business groove, there are some things that you have to do. Hence I identified them as rules. If you don’t follow them, you’re going to get penalized one way or the other. And since we are talking about staying above the fine line, I called them fine line rules. By the way, there are only ten of them so readers can add their own if they wish.
Lip-sticking: If you could choose just ONE Fine Line Rule to talk about, which one would it be, and why?
George: I could give you stories about each of the rules, but since you are pinning me down to just one, I’m going to pick Fine Line Rule #9: "Customer testimonials are powerful selling tools that are easy to obtain. Just ask for them."
I picked this rule because I feel so strongly about it. I’ll bet if you walk into a room filled with 20 sales professionals and asked them to pull out five testimonials, the vast majority would not be able to. I’ll bet if you asked the same number of small to mid-size business owners the same thing, they would have trouble also. The point is that testimonials are not only powerful selling tools, they are the most powerful selling tool you can have. They are tremendously effective. And so easy to obtain. Every satisfied customer is a testimonial just waiting to be asked for. And for those people wondering how they should ask for a testimonial, just have them read page 93 of my book. That one page will tell them everything they need to know.
Lip-sticking: One of the compliments we've heard folks give your book is that you not only tell people WHAT to do to be successful, you SHOW them how to do it. That seems like a successful seminar approach. Do you do seminars on the Fine Line Rules?
George: The answer is a qualified yes. Initially it was almost the reverse. I developed the Fine Line Rules and the book from material I prepared for my early seminars. Now that the book is published, I am doing seminars on various aspects of the book. Some include the Fine Line Rules. In other seminars I discuss the "eight critical steps in developing your next customer."
Lip-sticking: Give our readers an outline of a seminar -- just a description, please. If they're interested in more information, where can they reach you?
George: OK. Here’s an outline I recently put together.
CREATING BUSINESS SUCCESS
An interactive workshop on how to avoid a sales slump
and re-energize your marketing efforts!
I’m Fine. How Are You?
-- Learn how to seize every opportunity to promote your business and how to get others to talk about who you are and what you do.
A Picture Says A Thousand Words
-- Sometimes we become so involved in our work and know it so well, we unknowingly have difficulty expressing to others exactly what we do. This session will show you how to create a lasting impression when someone asks you what your company does.
Cold Calling Is For Dummies
-- Cold calling is a waste of time, energy and money. There’s a better way. Find out what it is.
It Starts With Getting That First Appointment
-- Creating that initial interest from a potential client can be a daunting challenge. Learn how to avoid the most common mistakes made by most sales professionals.
Learn about the most critical steps in creating your next customer:
· Establishing credibility
· Positioning your sales presentation for success
· The most effective way to present your products and services
· The power of testimonials
· How to ask the big question
· Creating a reason to come back
This session focuses on not only what those critical steps are, but how to effectively present yourself and your company in front of those you’d like to do business with. It’s guaranteed to change the way your interact with your prospects and customers.
And thanks for the plug. If anyone wants more information about my seminars (they're usually half-day), they can reach me by email.
Lip-sticking: We encouraged you to blog your book -- how is that coming? What are the stumbling blocks? What took you the longest to understand about blogging your book?
George: The blog is coming a little slower that I would like, but that is my fault. I need to spend more time with it. I think one of the problems I’m having is that I tend to write longer essay type stuff when it should be more free-flowing. More conversational. And, I should write shorter articles more often. After all, I’m not suppose to be writing another book!
So that is what I’m going to focus on now. Plus connecting with other bloggers and websites that are compatible and share common views. I also don’t totally understand the best way to promote my book on my blog without making it look like a commercial. Perhaps I need a refresher course on that.
Lip-sticking: Your blog, Above the Line, has potential, but...we don't see regular posts. In our experience, many business people regard their blogging duties as a 'chore'...which makes it hard to keep up. Do you have any suggestions on how to overcome that feeling?
George: I think I answered that in part with your last question. One challenge is to come up with something informative to write about. The second challenge is setting up a regular writing and posting schedule. Oh well, nobody’s perfect. But to answer your question, perhaps one of the best things a wanna-be blogger should do is continually look at other blogs. It’s kind of like good writers are good readers. I think the same holds true for bloggers. [hear, hear! great advice]
Lip-sticking: Can you recommend any other blogs? How about websites? When you look for information online, what convinces you to actually read content? In other words, in your opinion, how does someone build credibility?
George: I’ve found several good blogs and websites and have some of them listed on my blog. I think Paul Tulenko offers a lot of good tips and guidance for small business owners and Lori Richardson provides some great selling and marketing ideas.
As for finding information online, it’s all about first impressions. The title of an article must be appealing and the first few sentences must capture the essence of the article. If I can’t be pulled in by then, I’m long gone. How does someone build credibility? Simple. Somebody else recommends you. Sounds like a testimonial doesn’t it? [we think George is making a point here - a really good point!]
Lip-sticking: We always ask a shopping online question. Are you an online shopper? Are you even a shopper - or is shopping too much time and trouble for you? You can be honest.
George: I occasionally buy items on line. Particularly things that are difficult to buy in local stores. That’s where I found my $300 charcoal grill. Couldn’t get it anywhere else. And no, I am not a shopper. I’m a buyer. There’s a difference you know. Just ask my wife. [wow! we need to find out about that....]
Lip-sticking: Lastly, with winter fast approaching -- we wonder...what's your favorite meal to prepare on cold Sunday afternoons? Can you share the recipe with us?
George: This is one of my favorite recipes. Not really just for cold afternoons. I make it all year round. It’s fast, easy to make and, I think, fairly good for you. Sounds terrible doesn’t it? Here's what it is -- baked tilapia on spinach. Requires only five items: two tilapia or other white fish filets (about 6 to 7 ounces each), a bag of spinach (10 ounces), a can of diced tomatoes, small can of sliced black olives and Old Bay seasoning.
Wash and de-stem spinach and place in large mixing bowl. Break large leaves into halves. Toss lightly with light coating of virgin olive oil. Place spinach in a 9 by 13 inch cooking dish. Place filets (seasoned with Old Bay) on top of spinach in center of dish. Spoon diced tomatoes around edge of dish. Place black olive slices on tomatoes. Baked at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serves two.
I usually serve this with potatoes au gratin in colder weather and potato salad during the summer.
And speaking of food, I’ve got to run. I traditionally cook our thanksgiving turkey on my $300 charcoal grill so I need to see if Tom is thawed out yet.
Well, dear readers. We can't think of anything else to add except, What's not to like about that?
Happy Turkey Day!