Sampling Success Strategies

Double Your Sample Trial Rate Selling to Dentists

The idea Try It Before You Buy It has grown to become a common customer expectation. Most consumers expect to sample a product prior to purchasing to take the risk out of buying. Yet, sampling as a sales strategy in healthcare has all but vanished.Gone are the days where clinical providers strain to carry sacks full of trial products from trade shows or shuffle the samples that once stuffed their shelves. Where have all the freebies gone?

Considering fewer than half of all samples distributed are ever tried, they are an easy target to eliminate in an effort to reduce costs. But this approach may be costing you and your firm millions in potential sales. Sampling still remains the single best way to create brand experience and tee up sales like nothing else!

It’s about time healthcare reconsider their sampling policies and tap into what other industries already know.The advantages and benefits of letting prospects try before they buy considerably outweighs the effort and expense required. With a few changes in strategy and tactic, your sampling response rates will improve considerably while you advance your sales and marketing goals by following these ideas:

There is no brand more closely associated with sampling success than COSTCO. “When we compare it to other mediums … in-store product demonstration has the highest [sales] lift,” says Giovanni DeMeo of demo company Interactions, which handles Costco’s sampling program. “Giving out free samples has boosted sales in some cases by 2,000 percent.” To illustrate how sampling influences customer-purchasing behavior,Datalogix research revealed, sampled households were 4x more likely to purchase than the control group. That is,four times as many people purchased than those who did not receive a sample. Unit sales within the sample group also showed a 700% increase in purchases.Sampling programs work exceptionally well for healthcare if executed using the right approach.

Set Your Sample Strategy

Clarify Your Goals

The purpose of sampling is to create a positive brand experience resulting in a sale. Too often samples are distributed as part of a half-baked plan. Sales and customer service people are given a cursory supply of grip stock in hopes they will convert into sales.A trial offer can serve as both an effective marketing tactic and powerful sales tool. Consider a few ways sampling will advance your promotional objectives:

  • Reaches a new target segment
  • Expands lateral product use
  • Builds value and maintains price integrity
  • Demonstrates superior brand performance
  • Interrupts competitive brand loyalty
  • Exposescustomer insights
  • Drives traffic to new market platforms or promotional programs
  • Overcomes low consumer confidence or unfavorable brand image

 A productive sampling strategy requires clarity on expected outcomes, focus on a target audience and a straight forward execution plan. Our firm created sampling protocols for several dental companies aimed at selling to dentists and hygienists using this approach.Their results were impressive, considerably exceeding industry averages.

Monitor Metrics & Methods

A definitive sampling strategy can yield triple digit product trial rates increasing sales considerably. To realize the full potential of sampling, both sales and marketing objectives must be clearly defined. This includes Identifying specific metrics to track progress and verify if goals were met. Some ways to measure results include:

  • total sample requests
  • coupon redemption rate
  • surveys completed
  • clicks to view offer
  • user feedback received
  • sales conversion rate
  • total new customers acquired
  • total sales generated

Narrow Your Niche

Use your sampling strategy goals todefine yourtarget audience. If your goal is to expand customer reach, it isbetter to focus on specific market segmentsor demographics where your product has sold successfully. If you wish to appeal to new users, those who have never purchased your product before, identify subcategories by specialty, location or age. It is tempting to want to ‘expand your net’ but, sampling success is achieved by narrowing your scope.

Conditions that Qualify

There are specific conditions proven to set sampling up for greater success. For example, food samples have greater conversion rates around hungry prospects than those who are not. Consider when your target audience may be more receptive and more likely to buy.Then position your offer to capitalize on these opportunities.

Trial conversions are highest when sampled products are used immediately upon receipt. This is why educational events with hands on instruction are excellent sampling environments to promote sales.And, trade shows typically deliver lower conversion rates because of the long lapse between receipt and their use.

Sales reps will enjoy higher sales conversions by assisting buyers to identify a case where the sample can be used. This technique establishes a higher sense of urgency for use and allows sooner experience product advantages. Even more valuable, representatives now have an invaluable follow up opportunity to solicit user feedback and ask for an order.

Sampling is always the next best alternative to selling.Yet, medical and dental consumers are more receptive to trying new products at the following times:

  • When an order is placed, offer a complementary sample
  • When a prospect expresses or implies a performance need, want or expectation
  • When product praise or success story is shared
  • During an educational session
  • After an attempt at closing has been rejected

Timing is Everything

How effectively samples are positioned in selling scenarios significantly impacts how well they generate sales. One of the biggest mistakes representatives make is offering samples as an afterthought or ‘throw in’ after presenting another product. As if the sample will sell itself! Products or services sold or sampled in any sales scenario should always serve as a prescribed remedy to a buyers stated or implied need.Reps must be trained to position products as solutions in their sales process. This is done by skillful blending qualifying questions with solid product knowledge.

Words that Work

Representatives who ask for orders prior to offering samples make more sales. Therefore, the closing sequence used has a big impact on sales outcome. Ideally, a sample would only be offered after asking prospects to buy. Most companies have generous return policies providing the same no risk protection as sampling—but better. Asking for an order before sampling is a better option because buyers will gain experience using the product and enjoy its benefits sooner. And, customer’s who buy before they try gain greater product appreciation and enjoy its value sooner.

We have summarized the best sampling sequences when selling to dentists and healthcare consumers. Download the Sampling for Higher Sales Cheat Sheet to gain better sales sampling results HERE.

Fruitful Follow Up

  • 44% of salespeople give up after one follow up[1]
  • 80% of sales require five follow ups…or more[2]

These sobering stats expose huge sales opportunity for any rep on the planet.Big money is being left on the table every day. To help, we’ve created a sampling follow up protocol shown to boost sales to triple digits.Here’s how it works:

When a prospect agrees to try a sample, representatives would follow up to obtain an order at a later time. The problem is, most prospects are not typically available after the sample is tried. This causes sales from sampling to plummet. It is important to keep in mind, most clinical providers are accustomed to giving feedback in exchange for services received or access to product demos. Therefore, representatives who schedule follow up feedback meetings at the time a sample is provided enjoy an impressive 78% increase in sales made from samples. This compares to the current industry standard of only 4%. We’ve included some word tracks in a FREE Sampling for Higher Sales Cheat Sheet HERE.

Customers buy long before they pay.Sampling as a much bigger impact than simply selling a product. They provide a chance for buyers to experience your brand of service, tech support, product knowledge and customer care. So, don’t be so short-sighted and stingy when it comes to letting customers try before they buy.When positioned appropriately,sampling will boost sales to expand new users and deliver long-term loyal customers. To achieve true sales potential, sometimes a brand needs to lead by a sample. If your company’s sampling results could use a boost, call us, we can help. 800-471-2619

 

[1]SOURCE: Scripted

[2] SOURCE: The Marketing Donut

How to Make Sales Training Pay Higher Returns?

Perhaps, you too have assumed sales training was little more than a black hole that consumes a lot of budget and delivers very little in return. Realizing a better return on your training investment is indeed possible. The following ideas and insights will offer new ways to get sales training to boost both performance and profits!

Behavior is influenced by the skills that support it along with the results expected. Training outcome is a direct function of a quality intake.  That is, the better your skills and performance expectations are understood, the more training can be directed to improve those areas. The more accurately your needs are assessed, the better your training efforts address those needs, the greater the return on your training investment.

Grey Goals Beget Grey Results

Start first by clarifying your reasons for conducting training. This may sound obvious, but too often development initiatives are launched without identifying how performance is expected to change and how results will be specifically measured. Quality planning can make a considerable difference on the return training actually delivers.

Consider these common objectives as you clarify your sales training goals:

  • Increase Product Knowledge
  • Strengthen Company Knowledge
  • Clarify Performance Expectations
  • Improve Sales Skills
  • Develop Teamwork and Morale

In training, and in medicine, the prescription is only as good as the diagnosis. To maximize your investment, avoid generic programs and opt for those that build on the unique strengths and skills of your team. Generic programs offer generic short term results. Training tailored to meet your specific sales objectives by leveraging the unique strengths of your sales team provide the best sustained improvements for long-term productivity and ROI.

What Gets Measured Gets Managed

With today’s modern technology, sales knowledge and selling skills can be calibrated and assessed with a high degree of accuracy. After almost three decades of measuring sales talent for dental companies, we continue to observe a close correlation between the sales acumen of representatives and their overall performance. Assessment data provides valuable direction for designing and developing an effective sales training program that drive predictable outcomes.

Ask the following clarifying questions as part of your training planning efforts:

  • What are our strongest skills and where are we underdeveloped?
  • Is our sales performance consistent with our skills assessment?
  • What skill improvement strategy will meet or exceed our sales objectives?
  • What do we expect the short and long term returns on this effort?
  • What investments are we willing to make to achieve these objectives?

Getting Training to Stick

People forget about 75% of what they hear in approximately 24 hours. That’s the bad news.  The good news is that learning and retention can be dramatically improved if training is positioned to serve the individual needs and interests of its recipients. Changes in performance are the result of greater clarity on results expected, stronger skills and consistent reinforcement of applied learning methods.

There are several important considerations to increase retention:

Relevance: Does training content and techniques apply your customers, and your product in your selling situations? Training customization has a direct impact on how often reinforcement tools and concepts are used and applied by reps. To ensure your team will welcome the tools and techniques you offer—make sure they are not only real-world and have been proven successful in their world.

Frequency:  How often concepts and ideas are reinforced has a direct impact on their tendency to become habits. The old cliché is true, ‘what gets reinforced—gets repeated’.  Providing frequent opportunities to remember and apply key ideas from any training program is the best way to improve retention.

The frequency and relevancy of training methods will determine how well reps use and apply new concepts and skills. Reinforced skills and techniques will lead to lasting habits and ultimately improved performance over time.

Convenience:  Using learning reinforcement tools and techniques is like a gym—it must be convenient to be used. For example, audio programs make good use of ‘windshield time’ for field sales reps, while mini learning modules are perfect for busy telesales and customer service representatives.Convenient follow up methods reinforce learning and positively impact improvements in behavior and productivity.

Apply these proven principles with your sales team or find a training partner experienced to help you implement them.  Bigger and better performance is possible with a strong strategy and a tailored approach proven to work.

Take the first step in realizing your true sales potential with a complimentary Training Planning & Comparison Profile click HERE or call ANSIR International at 800-471-2619.

 

How to Spot & Keep Top Talent

Using Science and Technology to Create a Happier More Productive Company

The key to building a high performance organization is to recognize, recruit and retain the elite few who will make the greatest contribution to desired results. Most people are at their best during the hiring process. A comic once said, “The closest some people come to perfection is on a resume!” And, unfortunately, it’s true—some even stretch the truth to score a job. Fifty-six percent of more than 2,000 hiring managers say they’ve caught a lie on a resume, according to a 2015 Career Builder survey. This makes it difficult to recognize superstars from the mediocre performers.

When a leading sports coach was asked how he consistently assembled winning teams he said, “It’s easy! I can smell a champion a mile away!” Fortunately, advancements in technology and human sciences have made your job, as a hiring manager, a lot easier to sniff out champions. Today, with computer-aided tools, it is possible to compare the skills of employees or job candidates against critical job requirements with a high degree of accuracy. When talents match up, success comes easier and employees are more productive and happier at work. This means, increased retention of superstars who require considerably less direction and supervision.

A large number of organizations employ rudimentary and haphazard approaches to selecting their workforce. This represents a serious disconnect for companies that claim their talent management system offers a competitive advantage. Many firms fail to use scientifically proven assessments to make selection decisions; even though such assessments have been shown to significantly increase productivity, reduce costs and attrition and offer other critical organizational outcomes that translate into literally millions of dollars. There are many financial advantages associated with using assessment tools to guide selection and employee development decisions.

The obvious question: which assessments are best and how can their results benefit you? There are hundreds of assessment tools on the market today. Yet, not all are appropriate for spotting the best talent. Sample the power of our assessments and learn what motivates people at work by clicking here.

There are legal, cultural and financial considerations hiring managers must be aware of when utilizing assessments in the workplace.

Legal

United States law holds that employment practices (E.g. use of pre-employment aptitude tests) may be considered discriminatory and illegal if they have a disproportionate “adverse impact” on members of a minority group. Not all assessment instruments on the market meet the EEOC and OFCCP standards; therefore it is wise to verify those selected do not adversely impact any protected groups.

Ethical

There should be good evidence that assessments are both accurate and valid. Accuracy or reliability means the results are reliably repeatable or consistent. Validity, on the other hand, is the proof that the tool actually measures what it says it does. Example, if an assessment claims to assess selling skills, their needs to be strong evidence to prove or back up that claim.

Cultural

Your company culture is your brand. Think about how your current organization differs from competitors or other firms you have been with in the past. It is important, therefore, that company, cultural and job attributes are considered in the assessment process. These requirements serve as desired benchmark talents to compare people for selection, training and promotion.

Financial

Differences in cost of assessments, ranging from free to over $1,500 per person, vary greatly as does the value they provide. As a general rule, these tools are like most purchases; you get what you pay for. It is only when the benefits received outweigh the cost incurred that any expense becomes an investment. To squeeze the biggest return from assessments, clarify the results you expect (i.e. reduce turnover, spot leaders, save time hiring) along with how you intend to use the information gained.

Quality assessments administered by qualified experts offer considerable advantages in recognizing, recruiting, and retaining top performers. They do this by providing accurate insights to reveal job fit, cultural compatibility and predict performance. As a result, employee turnover is reduced, job satisfaction increases and overall productivity is improved. The bottom line: companies using assessments employ more people doing more work they are good at and enjoy.

ANSIR International invites managers of dental companies to sample a FREE talent assessment measuring workplace motivators. Get access to complete your FREE custom Driving Forces Motivators just Click Here by August 31, 2016. (Your results will be automatically sent to you upon completion of the assessment.)

Performance Improvement

Skills Training is Not Always the Answer

It is easy to assume weak employee skills are to blame when sales or productivity are down. In an attempt to boost productivity, managers will roll out a training initiative to improve the knowledge and talent used to drive performance. It’s been our experience that short falls in productivity are often the result of environmental factors managers can control and not necessarily a deficiency in employee skills.

Managers assume their direct reports understand the results that are expected and know the best approach to get there. Apparently, this isn’t the case for many. According to Gallup, only about half of employees ‘strongly agree’ that they understand what is expected of them at work. Obviously, to hold team members accountable for results—they must clearly understand the results expected…and how to get there.

One way managers can positively impact the productivity of their direct reports is to strengthen communication. This is the fastest most effective way to boost performance and results. Only 32 percent of employees, in the same Gallup survey, said their manager assists them in setting or reviewing performance goals. As a leader, the more clearly you set expectations and goals up front, the less time you’ll need to determine what went wrong later.

There are two practical management methods that significantly improve the quality of relationship between manager and his/her team and productivity. They are

One-On-One Sessions. These are short (30 min) weekly meetings managers’ conduct with each team member. They are designed to:

Catch Up on the status of projects pending

Confer about challenges to results expected

Connect on issues (both professional and personal) that build intimacy and loyalty in the relationship.

For a FREE copy of a helpful cheat sheet used to conduct One-On-One Sessions, download it here.

Another successful strategy to boost performance is the monthly Mentorship Meeting. This is a status meeting with each team member to review performance, tactical efforts and goals at a higher level. Too often, employees mistake feedback from managers as corrective or being in ‘trouble’. As a result, they dread, fear or withdrawal from what would otherwise be valuable learning opportunities. Inconsistent review of issues that matter to employees creates distance in manager-direct relationship and promotes job dissatisfaction and disengagement. Monthly Mentorship Meetings keep momentum moving forward in a positive direction.

If you think your people are happy, motivated and good to go…. think again. Gallup learned in a recent study that only 20% of sales people describe themselves as being ‘very’ or ‘extremely satisfied’ at work. And, just 42% say they are ‘satisfied’ Monday-Friday’s. This suggests, a considerable 62% of your sales team is probably not as passionate about work as you might think they are.

As an effective leader, you must lean in when employees may be leaning out. One reliable way to remedy low job satisfaction is to connect with consistent coaching sessions. This includes hosting weekly and monthly meetings to check in and observe where their head, heart and habits are. One-On-One and Mentorship Meetings offer a great opportunity for both of you to step above day-to-day activities and see how employee efforts are translating into results (both good and bad).

Employee productivity, therefore, is not necessarily a reflection of skills. More often than not, performance is a by-product of the culture and conditions managers create. Leaders can shape the behavior of their team by elevating the environment through clear consistent communication, practical processes and finally serving as positive role model for the actions and attitudes they desire. In the end of the day, you are usually the best training program some employees will ever attend!

 

Use this FREE One-on-One Cheat Sheet to start your sessions now.

4 Steps to Summit Your To-Do List

.... After a Long Weekend

Good memories of extra time off from work still linger. Yet, the triple digit messages blowing up your INBOX prove you’ve been away from your normal routine. Sure, you are rested and relaxed, but back at work the beat goes on.

After a vacation, long holiday or just a restful weekend, adopting these proven tactics getting back into high gear can make the transition a little easier.

“Minimize your movement and maximize your efficiency.

Plan more, move less.”

Kyle Connaughton

One of the best ways to hit the ground running at work is to clarify your priorities. Ideally, the day before or prior to everyone getting into the office, take some time to do a little productivity prep work. Studies have shown every minute invested in planning saves ten in execution.

COLLECT

Catalog everything in your life that requires some action or consideration on your part. This step is not about deciding where to put your attention, it’s about acknowledging what is pulling or pushing it. Do a data dump on everything in your mind: work, personal or both (depending on how wide and deep you want relief). List projects and tasks including those you need to do, want to do, should do, like to do, or are fun to do. You get the picture. This process of ‘collecting’, according to time management expert David Allen, author of Getting Things Done is that it frees up your brain’s random-access memory (RAM) to think more clearly and creatively for higher quality results.

CATEGORIZE

Not all tasks are created equal. Yet, our mind tends to trick us into thinking everything holds high completion or priority value. They don’t. We can see it when we step back and view tasks in relationship to each other filtered by our true priorities or our highest intentions.

A quick and easy way to categorize tasks is whom is responsible for completing the task:

  • Tasks I must do: these are projects that only you have the knowledge, skill, insight or background to complete. You must do these items yourself.
  • Tasks I don’t know how to do: completing these tasks would require a learning curve too time consuming to deliver an appropriate ROI. These typically are ‘one off’ tasks or require skills or knowledge that you simply don’t possess.
  • Tasks I should not do: Items that are either so mundane that the time and effort you’d expend completing them would rob from more important tasks. These projects could offer an excellent teaching or development opportunity for a member of your team. Delegating these tasks would strengthen or create new skills that would elevate the value employees bring to your company or department.
  • Tasks that should not be done: Every executive has activities and tasks that remain on our TODO List that if we were bold or brave enough, we’d admit we are never going to do them! These are items that would be ‘nice to do’ or tasks to tackle when we ‘have the time’—but they just don’t seem to rise in priority to ever take action on. So, you officially have the permission and my encouragement to cross these items off your list! They are draining valuable emotional energy that could be better directed elsewhere.

CLARIFY

Directing your attention to your Tasks I Must Do List, prioritize items listed and estimate the time each task will take to complete. This step will require you to consider your most critical tasks within the context and importance to the others on your list. Simplify your life by establishing priorities. Reduce or eliminate procrastination by ascribing estimated completion times. Download a FREE To-Do List Template.

CONNECT

Identify the energy required and importance of each task and plan to complete them based on your natural energy fluctuations throughout the workday or week. This is one of the most important, yet frequently missed elements of productivity planning and effective time management.

Assign High, Good, Moderate or Low Energy to Peak, High, Moderate or Low Effort Tasks. Download a FREE TO-DO List Template.This will allow you to best leverage your energy, attention to boost productivity by keeping you focused on the priorities that matter every day… not just the ones after time away.

5 Ways Sales Meetings Can Payoff

….. After the Meeting is Over

The investment required to attend sales meetings is enormous….and not just for the company footing the bill. Every member of the sales organization makes a considerable investment of time, energy and productivity. Time away from territories, customers and daily work responsibilities mean loss in sales and productivity. Yet, seldom do participants take the few finish and follow up steps necessary to enjoy the additional benefits these events can deliver.

Since many dental companies are wrapping up their annual or regional meetings around this time, you will find value in using these ideas to make your meetings pay off and pay up greater returns to your advantage:

  1. Collect Top ‘Take Aways’ from meeting content, speaker recommendations, or the good ideas sparked by after hours conversations with colleagues. Once you’ve captured these items, prioritize and incorporate them into your Personal Productivity Plan* (See downloadable MSWord document HERE).
  2. Identify Results Expected associated with each item you’ve listed. This simple post-meeting step is like adding rocket fuel to super charge your ideas into action! Clarifying the impact or benefits expected will keep you connected with the advantages you anticipate to receive by taking action on meeting ideas. Let’s face it; your enthusiasm for adding items to your task list will fade quickly unless a positive outcome is pulling you toward the benefits you expect to receive.
  3. Schedule a Deadline for Completion. Placing a deadline next to each action item will assist in further prioritizing the importance of the ideas gleaned from the meeting. It will also provide the valuable accountability most of us need to complete a task.
  4. Create Permanent Reminders. If a meeting take away is more of a daily habit or sales tactic then create a permanent reminder to assist in making a long term change. ‘Permanent reminders’ are notices with more sticking power over Post-It notes, which are easily lost, moved or forgotten. Printed labels, recurring pop up reminders and mobile home screen messages are a few great examples.
  5. Summarize the Macro Message. Getting the most from any educational event requires a clarification on how the meeting message directly contributes to advance your interests. Encapsulating the main message aligns the intention of the event with results received. Miss the point– lose the advantage. To gain greatest benefit from meetings, ask yourself, “What concept or idea received advances the value I contribute at work?”

Taking the minimal effort to clarify and take action on the big ideas inspired at meetings or educational events has the power to inspire results that ripple rewards long after the conference is over. Make your investment attending off site events deliver greater rewards with these finish and follow up habits.

* To make the most of your valuable time and talent, download a FREE  Personal Productivity Plan  HERE.

A Better Way to Reach Sales Goals

An Action Plan for Sales Managers…

The New Year is a season ‘fresh starts’ and renewed resolutions. It is also a good time for reps to review and renew their annual sales goals. Some may be quite adept at goal setting, but it’s rare to find salespeople who remain focused on their professional goals throughout the year without some managerial guidance. And, it’s even more rare to find reps that are good at implementing plans over an extended period of time. Salespeople get busy and are easily distracted while trying to work a plan throughout an entire year. Reps will be far more successful achieving their goals with the support, direction and guidance of their manager.

Promote the Power of Planning

Salespeople already know that goal setting is important, yet many tend to reject planning as busy work that gets in the way of their selling efforts. It is the necessary groundwork required to improve the attitudes, accuracy and accountability so many sales teams lack. Educate your team to view planning as critical step in obtaining the results they desire and the goals aspire to. Many sales managers make the mistake of including sales plans as just another report due at the end of the year. The better you are at getting your team to view this tool as a critical component in getting where they want to go, the less you will have to work at getting them to create and use it and more important—reaching your company’s objectives.

Success Follows Structure

One of the fundamental reasons people don’t achieve higher levels of performance in sales is the lack of a structured, organized way of achieving them. It is here that sales managers can offer invaluable support to their reps and results by teaching and coaching effective goal setting tactics.

Most sales people will embrace ideas that will help them achieve better results with less effort. Therefore, your challenge is to assist reps to recognize that goals are met faster and better when preceded preparation and planning. A Strategic Sales Plan is a written tool that outlines the specific tactics and strategies necessary to meet annual sales and key performance objectives. It paves the path with milestones and markers required to reach intended outcomes.

Every Strategic Sales Plan should be as unique as the territory and representative who creates it. A good plan will guide reps through important considerations needed by this territory, during this year, given the specific market conditions that exist at this time in this territory. The sales plan itself, as a deliverable document, isn’t the most important element. More beneficial to results, is the process required to research and analyze the elements and trends a Strategic Sales Plan exposes. Provide your reps with template or topic outline to guide their considerations that will lead them to spot bigger and better opportunities for growth. If you would like a copy of the SSP we routinely use with clients, click here for our Strategic Sales Plan Template.

Encourage reps to customize their Plans to meet sales goals and the needs of their territory. Ask them to take into account a distributor or customer requiring special attention or different strategies. Build the template to view each market or territory at a higher level than the ground zero view they have on a daily basis when their feet are on the street. This exercise will help to strengthen rep research, data analysis skills and strategic thinking while preparing these plans. The more reps put their unique thumbprints to the Sales Plans, the more they will commit to and own the results.