Monday, June 25, 2012

The Makings of a Great Sales Person

Sales… people just hear this word and they automatically think either a job I would hate to have or people I hate to converse with.  And why is that one may ask?  Why do people hate salespeople and refuse to be put in a sales environment?  I can tell you that at times I get it.  I understand where people come from.  There is a simple reason why people hate the word SALES… because that’s what it is…. SALES. 

            I started my sales career at a very young age.  After going to dental assisting school and realizing that blood makes me queasy, I got my first real professional job with Farmers Insurance as an assistant.  After learning the insurance world, I moved to American Family Insurance where I became an agent with my property and casualty license.  I did this at the age of 18.  After a year of answering machines, hang ups and cuts from the white pages on my fingers, I moved to a different kind of sales with The Gazette.  I was invited into the world of call center sales. 

            I have been with The Gazette off and on for nine years.  In between my nine years with the Gazette, I was a Retail Sales Associate with Denver Mattress and a General Manger for American Laser Centers.  I came back to The Gazette because I missed the atmosphere, the comradery, and the fun at The Gazette.  I especially missed the training on how to be an accomplished salesperson here.  It’s different than any other sales position I have ever had.  So what makes a great salesperson?

            First of all, don’t call me a salesperson.  That is not what I do.  I do not sell people anything.  Not saying that what I do doesn’t come with a price, but I’m not selling products like other sales jobs.  I am creating, designing, and implementing marketing solutions that guarantee results for my client.  I am a marketing specialist, not a salesperson.  So what does this mean to my clients?  When I walk into an office as a marketing specialist, it means I am coming in with knowledge and expertise, not products.  I am not here to act like a “car salesman” and nickel and dime my clients.  No… I am here to listen to what you have to say, what your needs are, and how… as a consultant… I can make your life better as a business owner.  DO NOT CALL ME A SALESPERSON!!  I am a marketing specialist.  So as a business owner who has salespeople, I can tell you how to bring people in and train them to be consultants for your company.  I can tell you how to create partnerships, not sales, and I can tell you how to build a clientele base based on relationships and not a bottom dollar.  How do I do this?  It’s simple… by being human.

Here are my basic simple yet effective rules of being a great consultant:

10. Any consultant (A.K.A salesperson) must believe in the company and the products in which he or she is representing.  If you don’t believe in the company you are with, you will never be able to show the positives of what your company has to offer, and that is a waste of everyone’s time.

9. Any consultant must be confident and cool.  You must believe in yourself and express passion in what you do.

8. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  Many consultants (A.K.A. salespeople) fall short of success because they are afraid to go beyond their comfort zone.  If you know you cannot get passed the fear, then this profession is not for you.  Besides part of the thrill is when you finally break through the fear and see success.

7. Be sincere!!!  Let me say this again…  BE SINCERE…. Nobody likes to be sold.  And when I say nobody, I really mean nobody.  The last thing people want is to be pressured by someone who talks a lot of game.  This is why car salesman have a bad rap.  Deep down, we know that they are in it for the money, not to help the customer out.  Be sincere… it’s not about making the bottom dollar.  It’s about helping a customer and winning them for life.  You show them that you are honest and really care about helping them; they will open up, break down that sales wall and let you in.  Some of the best sales people I know will tell you they have never sold anything in their life.  They have only assisted people in making their lives better.  What great advice!!!

6. Dress for success!!  Your appearance can make or break a sale.  This is because people judge you in the first three seconds they see you.  Now not to say you can’t be yourself.  Heck I’m out of the norm when it comes to professionalism, but I am professional nonetheless.  Your appearance says a lot about who you are.  This also means don’t try too hard either.  Believe it or not men…. Sometimes a tie can scare people.  Or the jacket may be a bit much.  Either way, make your appearance your own and dress for success.  No jeans allowed!!

5. Make the meeting about the customer!!  It’s always about the customer.  It’s not about you and your knowledge.  It’s not about what you know.  It’s about them.  This means if you are going into a meeting with a client DO YOUR RESEARCH… know their website, when they first started their business, and what they are all about.  And be inquisitive!! Ask questions about the business but also learn about the person you are talking to.  BE SINCERE!! Don’t ask questions to get ahead.  Ask because you sincerely want to know. 

4. Know what you are talking about!  You are the expert right?  So act like it.  Do not go somewhere unprepared.  You know the ins and outs of your business and every product you have to offer.  You should never come across a question where you have to say “I don’t know”.  You never say that!! Instead if they do ask a question that you don’t know, say “I will get that information to you as soon as I get back to the office”.  You are the expert; you better make sure you act like you are.

3. This is not a sales call, this is a conversation.  Do not go in expecting to make a huge sale on your first try.  Be grateful you got in.  So do not go in there trying to sell something right away.  THAT’S BAD, VERY VERY BAD.  The only time you do that is if the customer wants that.  Instead your first meeting is about a conversation.  It’s about getting to know the client and their needs. You cannot sell something to someone if you do not know what their needs are.  Can a car salesman sell you a car without talking to you first? No!!  Can a store associate help you find the right size shoes without talking to you first?  NO!!!  So don’t expect that you can read their minds and do that on the first try. 

2. Build the relationship!  This means making friends.  This means long term partnerships.  This means that you honestly care enough about the person you are talking to, to invest your time and efforts into their cause.  Some of my best clients are my closest friends.  They trust me and know that if I am going to bring something there way it is because I have their best interest at heart.  They know if I ask them to lunch it’s because I enjoy their company, not because I need to make an extra $$$ to hit my revenue goal for the month. 

1. BE YOURSELF!!!!  Let me say this again… BE YOURSELF!!!  I have been a top producing representative at The Gazette for a long time because I am nothing more than myself.  Don’t believe me?  Ask anyone at The Gazette who I am.  I am simply me.  I dress the way I want, I act the way I want, and I sell the way I want.  I sell by not selling.  And this makes me a successful sales person.  Sounds funny right?  It’s true though.  I am myself all the time and people respect that.  I am not coming in with strings attached.  What you see is what you get.  I am genuine, honest, and very caring.  I NEVER treat my clients like a sale.  I treat them like my friends.  And I am genuine about it. 

            I know that what I am showing you here is a bit unorthodox in the sales world.  But I’m telling you that I have been selling my heart out since I was 18 years old.  I am now 31 and I am still going strong.  So if you have a business with sales people that have a hard time pulling their weight… there could be a few reasons why.  Maybe they don’t have that special ability to sell or maybe they just don’t know how.  Either way, if you follow my steps and bring the human element back into the sales process, you may be surprised by the outcome. 

Brandy Vasquez

Monday, June 11, 2012

Using a QR Code Correctly

We all see them everywhere we go.  Most companies understand that they must have one.  I mean what an easy way for people to download and receive your website information right to their phone.  But there is a problem with these fantastic squares of downloading joy… if it is not done correctly, then people will not use the code. 

What is a QR code? Do most people know and understand what these fuzzy looking squares are all about?  Have you actually downloaded a QR code as a consumer? And if so what was your thought about the experience?
 This is a QR Code.  You see them everywhere!!  All you have to do is take a look. They are on signs, buildings, brochures, sites, vehicles, calendars, businesses, and everywhere else that may get your attention.  The object of the QR code is so the consumer can scan the code and receive your information quickly and effectively through their incredible smart phone.  Once they scan the code, then the consumer can tap into your website, receive information on upcoming events, check in to foursquare, like your Facebook page, enter to win prizes and much more.  The QR Code is an ingenious design for the person on the go, which… let’s face it is everyone.  Companies can even make a QR code look like logos, designs, change the color, and so much more.  There is so much you can do with this technological bundle of fun!!

Here is a great example of a QR code.  Pamela Hazelton is from eCommerce, Shopability & webOS.  She has a strong knowledge of QR codes and how they should be done effectively.  Here is a copy of her QR code.  Now go ahead and scan the code.  What do you see?  The QR code takes you to a very simplistic MOBILE website.  Yes I will say this again… MOBILE website.  What is a mobile website?  This is website designed to fit a phone.  If you maneuver in the mobile website on your phone, you can clearly see it moves up and down and fits on your screen.  Unlike a regular website that is not mobilized, it is simplistic and easy to use.  If you go to a regular website on a mobile phone, your scrolling up, down, left and right, the words are to small, and it is very hard to maneuver a large website on such a small screen.   What Pamela has done here is made the consumer experience easy and fast.  That’s what we want nowadays… easy and fast.  I cannot stress enough how much I HATE having to use my phone to look up sites and a company DOES NOT have a mobile website. YUCK!!!  This will 50% of the time make me get out of that companies site and look up another company that may have a more simplistic way of getting what I want.  You know what I am talking about don’t you?  I am not the only person out there that hates that.  I mean just think about it for a minute.  Think about the last time you used your phone to look up information on a company.  Try and Google a product, any product… let’s say shoes.  You can tell when a website has been mobilized.  The first site that popped up under shoes was shoedazzle.  They have a mobilized site.  Very easy to use, fits right on my phone and it’s convenient and fun. Now from there go and pick a local store that pops up underneath all the national websites. I chose Runners Roost Colorado.  This is a perfect example of a website that is not mobilized.  This website is small, unreadable, hard to maneuver and in my opinion irritating to use.  The fact of the matter is they should have a mobilized website and they don’t.   Now back to what this has to do with a QR code…


You should not create a QR code to scan directly to an non-mobilized website.  That is bad!!! Mobile websites, unlike big websites are quick to build and a lot less expensive to create and maintain.  The people here at the Gazette can get a mobile website set up for you with a QR code quickly and at an affordable cost!!

Now that you have seen a good example of a QR code that goes directly to a mobile site, here is an example of a nice looking QR code that does not go to a mobile site.  Go ahead and scan it.  What do you think about that?  It’s small and cluttered, hard to read and you lose interest right?  I mean a company spends money to make a cool QR code, but attaches it to a site that is not compatible with a phone?  That’s a big no no in my book. 

In this day and age, every business should have a QR code.  Every business should also have a mobile website.  If the majority of the world is looking up information on their phone more so than on a computer, don’t you think you should have a site that is compatible?  The Gazette practices what it preaches and has mobile websites for every site we run.  Go check out on your smart phone and see how our mobile site works.  It’s easy, convenient, and yes… fast.  So if this information intrigues you and you think you would like to have a mobile website, give us a call here at the Gazette.  We will be more than happy to assist you in that.  In the mean time, do some research and scan QR codes when you see them.  Check to see what other companies are doing and how, as a consumer, you feel about the way that company is marketing their business. 


Monday, April 30, 2012

Creating New Ideas May Create New Revenue Streams

If you were to ask anyone of my personality, they would tell you that I am a bit eccentric.  I'm flashy, I'm spontaneous, I'm creative, I'm different, and I'm myself.  So when I create marketing strategies and plans for clients, thinking outside the box is a very strong skill of mine.  I am not a fan of the boring or subtle.  I'm not a wear black and tan kind of gal.  This allows me to use my form of creative flow to create unique and interesting marketing possibilities.  Some of which The Gazette itself has loved and allowed me to do. This has allowed The Gazette to take my talents and bring in some new revenue streams.  Thinking differently can make a company innovative, in my opinion.  Give the world something new and before you know it, it is something you need.  Kinda sounds like I am quoting from the Lorax doesn't it?  If you think about it though, it is how business works.

I have decided to write on this topic this week because I was impressed by a local business that added "flair" to an every day product.  Like many women in the Colorado Springs area I get my nails done every couple of weeks.  As a woman it is important to me to have nails and because I am what you would call a chronic nail biter (yummy right), I get my nails done.  Recently I have been getting my nails done in a standard fashion with colored tips. Elegant, sexy, professional, classy... whatever you want to call this design, this is what I usually get.  I do not like the standard white tips like most women because it does not suit my unique and colorful style.  So by changing my tips to black, red, pink, green, orange, blue, etc... I am able to express my individuality better.  That is until last Friday I went into my nail salon, and my nail artist threw a colorful curve ball my way.

I currently have my nails done at Smashing Nails, which is located at 129 N. Wahsatch Ave (across from McDonalds off Kiowa).  The cute quaint nail shop lured me in with a fantastic Groupon deal and has kept my business ever since.  The great thing about this shop, is Monica, the Nail Artist and Owner, is a vibrant young woman with a very keen fashion sense and unique style that appeals to my own style.  She is currently a one man operation, but has a healthy clientele base and amazing customer service.  She also has an amazing eye for flair like I do.  So during my bi-weekly visit to Smashing Nails I decided that it was time to do something a little different with my nails.  Maybe a new color on the top, or full color, I didn't know... just something different.  That is when I seen her nails done.  I almost fell out of my chair they were so enchanting!!  When I commented on her nails and told her how amazing they were, she then asked me if I would like the same thing.  Immediately I was like YES YES YES!!!  I have NEVER seen nails done quite like this before.  They were colorful, unique, stylish and still professional.  When I asked her about it, she called this style a fade.

The creative new fade style on my nails.
Now you may be wondering... why on Earth am I blogging about nails?  What a boring topic that has nothing to do about business.  Hold your horses... I am getting to the point.  My point is that Monica created a new style all her own.  She told me she was just messing around one day and learned how to create this new fade style for nails.  Instead of my nails having just one color on the tips, I now get to pick 3 colors!!  So not only did Monica speak to my sense of style as a consumer, she has not trapped me in her grasp and kept me as a loyal client who will never ever EVER go anywhere else to get nails done.  She created a new technique that can very well become the new fad of nail fashion and I am one of the first people to help display this new creative design.  To me... this is great business.  So my point... thinking outside the box and having creative flair, even to existing product, can create a whole new form of revenue for a business.  Usually business and product is about what the consumer wants.  So if a business can speak to different characters of people, then these different personalities can all shop at the same businesses.

Now what Monica did for my nails may not be for the next person.  I know many women out there who prefer the classic white tips.  That is perfectly fine because Smashing Nails does that too.  But expanding the reach of those who may be looking for something different is a great way to bring in a new clientele base.

So the point being GIVE THE CUSTOMER WHAT HE OR SHE WANTS and they will love you forever.  Plain and simple.  You make someone happy and they will be loyal.  But don't forget to keep impressing your current clientele base as well.  Customer service never (and when I say never, I mean never) stops.  And customer service doesn't just mean helping your clients out with simple questions and solutions to problems.  Customer service means you hold your clients dear and give them exactly what they want.  If they ask, then they should receive.

Another thing that Monica did that I don't see a lot of businesses do, is she used her own product for marketing purposes.  She did her own nails the way she liked them. So when her clients come in and see how lovely her nails are, then they know they are good hands.  I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten my nails done at salons and the person doing my nails were for a lack of a better word gross.  Yuck... why should I let you do my nails if yours look horrible?

I'll tell you that not only has Monica wowed me by tailoring to my unique style, but she always has time for me, she doesn't rush me,  she makes our appointments relaxing and personal, and she remembers my name.  That is very important to me, especially if I have to sit in a chair for an hour and have you work on a piece of my body.  Many times have I gone to nail shops where I am just another person walking in, even if I have been going to the same spot over and over.  Let me tell you business owners, if I am a regular at your shop and you don't know my name by the 3rd visit... SHAME ON YOU!!  Doesn't matter how many people walk through that door!!

So back to the main focus of my rants here... is that creativity can be the doorway to new possibilities for a business. Do not be afraid to venture out a little.  Do not be afraid to listen to employees when they have ideas, and definitely listen to your customers.  If you give your customers something your competitors cannot, then you have gained more than a customer, you have gained a loyal friend.

For you ladies out there that may be interested in a new look for your nails, feel free to call Monica at Smashing Nails.  Her phone number is (719) 244-6533 or go like her Facebook page at  Let her know that Brandy with The Gazette sent you her way!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Deal of the Day... Groupon... Living Social... Is this a good marketing tactic?

I know when I say that I LOVE Deal of the Day, Groupon, and Living Social, I am not the only person out there.  It's pretty obvious that in these hard economic times, people want to save a few dollars on the things they love to buy or want to try.  It's even better when you save anywhere from 50% + off of these items.  Although consumers love to bargain shop and save some serious dollars on these fabulous deals, is this a good marketing tactic for businesses?
This question can be answered in different ways.  This tactic may be fantastic for some businesses and not so great for others.  It really does depend on the goals of the business, what is trying to be accomplished by using this method, and how customers are handled after the deal is purchased.
So how do these deals work for businesses?  It's pretty simple.  What is great about these marketing tactics is there are no upfront costs to the business like advertising has.  You simply create a deal that is 50% off or more for the consumer and sell the deal for one day.  Once the deal is sold, Deal of the Day, Groupon or Living Social split the profits made with the business 50/50.  This allows the business to generate a client base and bring people in the door.  But the main concern I hear with this when I recommend the Gazette's Deal of the Day to clients is "Well I can't afford to sell my product that low and split the profits with the Gazette."  I'm sure many business owners feel this way and this is exactly why they have not tried this marketing tactic before.  However, when looking at this form of marketing with a "glass half empty" perspective, takes away from the overall big picture.
The overall big picture... what is the overall big picture for a business?  Well for most businesses it's getting people in the door to buy product.  Consumer + Product = Business Growth.  Simple logical math right?  Without the consumer there is no business growth.  The equation fails without the consumer. So to fix the equation, a business owner may ask "how do I get the consumer in to sell more product?  How do I do this if I don't have the money to advertise?" 
 This is where a marketing tactic like the Gazette's Deal of the Day comes into play.  Create a fantastic deal... advertise to the consumer for one day only to entice the consumer to try your product... sell a lot of product... split the profits in the end.  You pay for the marketing after the results of your campaign are in.
But the bigger picture... just exactly how many new consumers did you bring in that have never tried your product before?  Out of those new consumers, how many will like your product enough to come back and purchase again... at full price?  After the deal, a yoru business will have a whole new equation... “How many new consumers did I bring in and how do I turn then into long term buyers?”  New consumer + _____________ = long term buyer.  That equation can only be answered depending on how well you plan out this deal and manage your results.

The Deal of the Day, Groupon, Living Social… can all be marketing tactics if done correctly.  For a business to effectively work this campaign with great results, specific steps and strategies should be put into place.
1. Great a fantastic deal!!  All deals must be 50% off or more.  The bigger the discount, the better your odds of selling more deals will be.
2. Honor all coupons with a smile.  DO NOT treat these consumers like coupon bargain shoppers.  Treat them as if they are paying full price for your items.  This will ensure the consumer will come back.
3. Be upfront and honest with your deals!!  Do not bait and switch and do not try to charge more unless specified in the deal.  For example, if you have different versions of your product that may be more expensive, then specify that in your deal when it is being sold.
4. Have enough time for your expiration date.  My recommendation is 6 months to a year, but do not go less than 3 months.
5. Above all, make sure you have a way to turn your deal consumer into a long turn consumer.  This includes different marketing strategies like email, direct mail, social media and other costumer campaigns.  Make sure that you are always in front of the consumer.

So don't think of this type of marketing tactic as a "glass half empty" type of strategy.  The long term rewards will more than pay for the great deal offered.  Hey, it may work so well that you can do it again.  I have seen many businesses do these deals multiple times. There is a reason that many businesses use this strategy.  It's because it completes the equation and makes business work.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Adding Humor to Marketing... Smart or Stupid??

When it comes to marketing campaigns, I love to see what creative flair that people bring to the table.  I applaud the master minds of creativity that are behind the funniest campaigns of the year.  This is why people sit around the television during the Superbowl to check out the commercials.  Yes... some like the budweiser horses with the cute dogs but really, we want to see the commercials that will literally make us bust a gut.  But is funny smart for a marketing campaign or does funny come with a big red FAIL stamped on the campaign?

Well let's look at some of the current campaigns on the market today.  When you think about ads and commercials, which ones do you remember?  After surveying many people on what their favorite commercials are, most people came back with commercials that have funny scenarios to them. People remember these because that funny bone has a direct link to the brain.  People like to laugh, so why not make them laugh while marketing to them?

Why do people remember funny commercials?  It is the same reason people remember heart felt commercials; it triggers an emotional response which sticks in the brain causing people to remember the brand. However, just like an emotional commercial, this must be done right.  A bad commercial, funny or not, is still a bad commercial. 

Check out these bad commercials....

After these bad commercials, what kind of emotional response did you feel?  Personally, I don't even remember most of them.  I completely lost interest.  Now check out these commercials....

Because these commercials were done correctly, they were funny and most likely made you laugh. The idea is that you will remember the brown M&M or the Dorito commercial.  Of course these are large corporations that have a ton of money to spend on funny commercials.  These type of companies have the best of the best marketing strategists to come up with hillarious ideas for commercials.  Here are some really funny commercials for businesses that may not be quite as large as Doritos, but funny just the same:

Print advertising can have the same affect on people as commercials.  Being in the print industry for most my career, I can remember the ads that either my client or I have created that were a lot of fun.  I don't however, remember the ads that were not.   Having a good kick to a print ad is important because ads in a magazine or newspaper do not have the sense of sound to assist the visual stimulation to the eye.  Ads need to be quick, precise and to the point.  Print ads also need to be very catchy.  You tell me... which ad do you prefer?

The one on the left shows a simplistic look.  It's red, catchy, funny and to the point.  This is a great ad for print publications. The one on the right however, is not a good ad for print.  This ad isn't a good ad for anything.  It's ugly, busy, and distasteful.  I mean really... you are going to sells rugs at discounted prices because the owner died?  Get real!! That's not a good ad. 


The great thing about adding humor to marketing pieces is that even though this has been done many times, humor can be reconstructed and redesigned over and over again.  This can create new and exciting pieces using the old element that many marketing experts have used over the years.  It makes branding fun, people enjoy the laugh, and tend to remember the brands.  However, if this is not done correctly, it could also be detrimental to a brand.  So is adding humor smart or stupid?  In my opinion, I think it is smart.  I think this is a great way to get the attention of the consumer.  Obviously good judgement is required when it comes to creating a funny campaign.  After all, companies that are not meant to be funny, let's say a funeral home, probably shouldn't go along the lines of funny.  Using correct judgement when creating a marketing campaign is crutial.  However, if your business can afford to bring in a campaign that will tickle the consumer funny bone, I say go for it.  I mean who doesn't like to laugh right?   I know I do.  So when it comes to funny ads, I say bring it on!