Some do now,
Some do later.
Some never do
And say: “See you later”
Some get it,
Some grasp it,
Why it is? Who knows.
It’s just how it goes.
Some are honest,
Some say: “Just try.”
Some fake it.
Some make it.
Work with it,
Not against it.
With clear eyes.
It’s the set up,
Just face it.
But you can
To attract some-
Some are shy,
Some are bold.
Whew! The Summer is over. I took at few weeks off to enjoy the last remaining weeks of the Summer (a few Kansas City Chiefs games) and now I’m ready to get back into sharing thoughts and insights into this crazy and rewarding sales career. I want to thank all of you who have signed up for regular updates and to those who visit this blog regularly. I’ve received great questions via comments and email. I’m a few views short of 500 which in blogging terms is a pretty big milestone.
I’m looking forward to gaining any feedback that you would like to share and would love turn this more into an open forum. What challenges do you face? Your success stories? How have you applied anything discussed in these post? etc.
Thank you to you all!
Yours in success,
What a Barista reminded me about buying & selling
A favorite quote of mine by Jeffrey Gitomer ; “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy”. I found myself loving to buy this week and I wanted to share as the experience served as a great reminder.
I go to a local coffee shop on Sundays to write for my blog and to do some planning for the upcoming week.
This past week when I went to order my usual Cappuccino Smoothie with an extra shot of Expresso, the smiling barista (who we’ll call Renae) asked “would you like to pre-load a $20 gift card and get $1 off your current purchase?”, she added “If I sell a certain amount today I get a bonus!” Since I come here almost every weekend a gift card made sense as I’m going to spend the money anyway, but instinctively I said “No Thank You”. The barista smiled back, said “no problem” and proceeded to whip up my turbo boosted nectar.
I sat down, set up my computer and got to work. Over the span of four hours I witnessed Renae ask 12-15 people (didn’t keep exact count) if they wanted to take advantage of the gift card. I watched as a few ‘regulars’ cast jokes upon her for trying so hard. As a conversation builder an older gentleman who had been sitting at his computer voiced his disdain for sales people (uggh!). I couldn’t believe this was all playing out before me as I was sitting there writing for a sales blog. The topic that I was writing on was pertaining to cynics and overcoming them. I loved it!
Renae sold a few more gift cards and was within obvious reach of her goal as her enthusiasm increased two fold. For the next customer she added to her pitch “I only have three more to go!”
By the time that I was ready to leave this 16-year old barista had hit her goal.
I only mention the she’s 16 due to the fact that I see men and women twice her age that do not have the wherewithal to apply these fundamental sales principles.
Here is what she reminded me:
- Always ask for the sale.
- We all have personal goals, remind customers of them and how they can help.
- Never let the “no’s” get in the way of the next customer.
- Are you creating a buying atmosphere that the customer can enjoy?
- There are always cynics in the room.
- Do your best, because your next customers could always be watching.
- Lastly, a $20 coffee gift card is always good to have in my wallet!
Where have you witnessed a good selling job? Share the love on here and let them know with your business!
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An open letter to Sales Cynics:
Your attitude sucks.
You add no value to any conversation.
Stop kidding yourself and those around you that you’re just “calling it as you see it”.
Your experience and/or past accomplishments do not support you being a smart-ass; it only shows that you lack both as a sales professional.
Opposition to cynicism is not naivete. We’ve just learned that complaining about a problem is not the act of providing a solution.
The lack of success you experience is not because the system has failed you, or because those ahead have “cheated” in some way. It is because you suck! It really is that simple.
Fortunately for you..and the rest of us there is hope. Oh, and this is your idea!
I know if you’re reading this blog you’re not a cynic. How could you be? You’re actually reading to stay on top of your craft. But, I’m sure you know one, five, or ten of those sales reps who, no matter what, always find something or someone to complain about.
Do you ever feel like you’re surrounded by cynics?
Anthony Innarino of The Sales Blog wrote a piece on how Cynicism Is a Recipe for Mediocrity, and I have to say that I completely agree. He shares that “To be exceptionally effective in sales, you have to believe. You have to believe that you have a greater ability to help your dream client than your competitors. You have to believe that your company is the better choice. Cynicism undermines your ability to believe. By undermining your belief, you can go through the motions of selling, but you won’t sell much.”
Naturally these cynics not only diminish their own belief and succumb to a mediocre career but they also begin to infect others. We are in a profession where the attitude in which you approach your day plays a make-or-break role. Have a plan on how you will go about maintaining a positive attitude.
Surround yourself with successful people, or those who want to enjoy a higher level of professional success, daily. In the last four months I’ve purchased three books on maintaining a positive attitude. I’ve read two of them and will continue to read more. Attitude is one of those traits that few actually work on and end up leaving it to the whims of their emotions. Your attitude is like a muscle; the more you work it out the more it develops. Stop working it out and it diminishes. My recommendation is to actively work on attitude so that you can enjoy the success that few cynics do.
Here are a few quick tips to surmount the cynics:
- Distance yourself from them now.
- Read a positive article or a positive video on YouTube the beginning of each day.
- Buy one book on positive thinking and commit to reading it this month. ( I recommend: “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale or Yes! Attitude by Jeffrey Gitomer)
- Take on a mentor role with someone in your sales force. Don’t wait!
Have an awesome week!
Ok-well not physically. As sales reps we continually try to stay ahead of our competition to gain the business. Staying ahead of your potential customers prevents surprises and keeps you in the running to win the business. Here’s how…
Beat them to the first contact! second, third, & fourth
Whether you are in a business where leads are generated for you by marketing or if you’re a hunter, make a point to beat your customer to the contact. You can’t wait on marketing to massage the customer into creating the right environment for the customer to call you. Beat them to it! Call first and if necessary call often. This is easier when you put the value of the customer first. When planning for your first, or next contact; make sure you have something in it for the customer. For example:
“I came across a new study in your field and wondered if you knew anything about this? What is your take on it? Here is how we’ve helped similar customers in the past.”
If it’s a follow-up to a first contact try this. “I came across this article the other day and I immediately thought about you and I thought that you might like it. By the way, what has transpired since we last spoke?”
“I received some news in a meeting today and I immediately thought about you. It would be a disservice for me not to share.” (this is a good one based on info that you receive in your weekly meetings; have new products launching, shipping dates changing?, revised offerings?, discontinuing a service?, use this info to possibly create urgency and to get in front of the customer)
This approach will take you constantly looking for ways to offer unique ideas or points of value to your customers. I can attest that this is much more successful than simply waiting for customers to contact you or using the same boring script that every other rep in your industry uses. This will set you apart in your field. Notice that neither of the above approaches involve leading with discounts or a promotion or a call to just “check in”. Customers today are bombarded with sales offers and/or reps immediately cutting price in hopes to sound interesting. This cheapens your product and quite frankly makes you sound the same of the five previous offers that the customer has heard.
Beat them to the competition!
How can I beat them to the competition if they already have a provider or if I’m the second or third provider they are investigating? Well, you can’t in a literal sense. You can however be proactive in your approach in addressing competition. Thinking that your potential customer is not going to vet you against other providers will certainly sink your battleship. I’ve been in situations in the past where the call or appointment was going great, the customer was seemingly agreeing to how my product fit their needs and my price was completely within the budget . Slam dunk, right? Wrong! This potential customer went with a competitor that they were previously looking at. I put too much stock in the excitement of the call and overlooked the fact that competition was a factor. A hard lesson, but necessary at the time.
Here is a scenario that just happened a few days ago to show what I mean about beating the customer to the competition.
I was towards the end of a call with a potential customer and she agreed that she liked our product offering. I asked for the sale ( an important step to getting to the competition) and she stated that she wanted to do a little more research and talk to her partner. I said “great!, people who do research typically end up being our best customers, just curious though what type of research will you be doing?” She responded with, “well I’ve found a few other companies on the internet”. “Great, lets talk about that and a few of the companies that you can find.” We spent the next thirty minutes discussing the different products and providers that are found throughout our industry. We ended the call with a significant order and I’m looking forward to her testimonial down the road.
You want to make sure that you address the competition on every call. If you dont’ you will be setting yourself up for a possible loss.
Here are few questions to ask on a call: How have you addressed this need in the past? What other resources are you considering using to address this? (internal/external), Are you looking at other providers? Who? What do you like or not like about what you’ve seen up to this point?
These questions will set you up to beating your potential customer to the competition.
Beat them to the sale!
Always ask for the sale. Confidently, Succinctly, and if ever in doubt, Just Do It! Some will argue that if you’ve done a stellar presentation, met all the needs of the customer, then they will be clamoring to ask you if they can buy. That is great in a perfect world and that may happen at times. In preparation for those times where that doesn’t happen you should be asking for the sale. If you are ever wondering where you stand with a potential customer it never hurts to just ask: “Would you like to get this ordered?”. It’s a simple question, but if there are any objections you can flesh them out by asking. This should create a sense of direction for the rest of your conversation. It doesn’t have to be pushy, or obnoxious, but if you’re at a point where the potential customer doesn’t have questions or many not know what to ask, it would be time to beat them to the sale. They may just be ready to buy, but if they’re not, you’ll know why.
These are just a few ways to beat your customer. This is a mindset of positioning yourself and your customer to win the best outcome and always providing value first.
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Does your company have a mission/vision statement?
Does your company have a customer service credo?
Does your company have stated values?
These are the principles that your company has set in place to act as guideposts for employees and customers. Every good company has them and most I’ve found are just boring. Same points you see everywhere..”to be a leader in our industry”…”provide exceptional customer service”..blah blah blah. I’m not suggesting it’s not important and I agree that you have to start somewhere, but I see very little originality.
So my question is this.. What’s YOUR Personal Mission Statement?
Customers are faced with many products and services that are all vying to be numero uno. Set yourself apart, be original, go out on a limb and tell your customer what they can expect from you..personally. One of the most challenging and thought-provoking exercises that I completed early in my sales career was my personal mission statement. I later adapted this into a customer promise that I share with many potential clients. I challenge you to complete one for yourself. Set yourself apart from the pack.
This will take time. Here is a great tool to help you along and to help generate ideas: Personal Mission Statement Builder
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I was asked to present a few points to our sales team recently. Here is what I shared below. Hope you find some tips you can apply and use to immediately drive results.
Find your Pony to Blow Past your Goals!
Two little twin girls, named Pessimist & Optimist where having a birthday soon. Pessimist told her mom and dad that she wanted a new bicycle. Not just any would do! A red bicycle with pink tassels and a sweet banana seat was what was in demand.
Little Ms. Optimist told her parents “whatever you get me I’m sure I’ll love!”
The birthday arrived and every friend was in attendance. Little Ms. Pessimist was given her new bike; however it wasn’t as she demanded. This new bike wasn’t red but in fact was orange; the tassels were not pink but were green. “This is the worst birthday ever!” she lamented.
Cute little Ms. Optimist was presented with a large box manure. Her eyes filled with excitement as she began to grab this manure by the handful throwing it in the air. Handful after handful digging in anticipation, she finally looked up at mom and dad and exclaimed:
“With this much manure there has got to be a pony in here somewhere!”
You may feel like your digging through your own manure right now; customers not calling back, manufacturing issues, competing priorities, stress, etc. There can be a Pony in most situations. You just have to keep digging.
How can you find excitement in the day to day?
- Take stock in what you DO have. It’s easy to take things for granted when you live in the sales trenches daily.
- Challenge yourself to expand into new areas. Writing is a new area for me that has challenged me beyond belief, but has proven to be extremely rewarding. What areas can you expand into in your professional life?
- Think short term to build momentum for the long term. I read a great quote earlier this month by Tom Peter that said “Excellence is not an aspiration; Excellence is the next 5 minutes.” Go do big things.. 5 minutes at a time!
Be objective about your business!
In the minutia of day to day it’s easy to let your emotions hang and carry from activity to activity. One bump in the road and you start saying “I told you so” to yourself. Driving your business solely on emotions can lead to cynicism when things don’t go your way. Cynicism is the kiss of death in sales.
Remember this: Killing objectivity in your business is not murder, its suicide!
Know your numbers and the ones you can impact: How many leads do you need? How many conversations do you need to blow past your goals? What is your closing %? Etc.
Take note of the numbers that you CAN impact not the ones that you can’t. If you can’t control the number of leads that marketing provides, measure how many referrals you collect. You can’t control the leads that answer the phone, but measure the number that do and how you convert. Find your Pony in the numbers!
Twitter-ize your sales process
I’ve had a love affair with Twitter as of late. Twitter has challenged me to write short valuable messages. Twitter allows only 140 characters. Trust me; it’s a challenge to get your point across in 140 characters.
I’m sure there are areas in your sales process that are unnecessarily long, drawn out, time intensive. Find ways to cut it down and become more efficient in your sales activities. Don’t take 1 hour to do a 30-minute task. Compress the time it takes to hit your goals. You may just find that you blow past them…
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8 Closing Guidelines to get sales this week!
Closing is one aspect in sales that separates those who will enjoy a long prosperous career and those who end up making excuses for lack of results. My experience in complex selling situations and face to face consumer sales have taught me that regardless of what type of selling you are doing there are closing guidelines that are universal. Closing doesn’t have to be difficult for you or your customers, but often that’s exactly how we make it. Here are 8 guidelines to getting agreement…
Closing isn’t slick, it’s not something that you do TO someone, but rather WITH someone.
Closing starts from the minute that you say hello with making a connection with the customer..not when you begin your service or product presentation. Some would argue it even starts before hello in pre-call planning.
If you’re not a product expert or an expert on your competitors you’ll never have the success you really want in closing. (what does your competition offer in service, reputation, product quality, how are you better?)
It’s always been helpful for me to view objections as questions. Rephrase them in your mind and they are much easier to handle. For example: “Your price is too high”..I hear it as “Help me understand the value for me? You can go through many of the common objections that you hear and rephrase them. Write them down and train your brain!
Always position your response to the best interest of the customer. If you can’t, you’re selling for you not the customer. Customers pick up on this. Put yourself in a position to make a professional recommendation, “Based on what you’ve shared to be important, here is what I recommend.”
Ask questions! You will not know what is important to the customer if you’re not asking. (be more creative than just asking, “what’s important to you?”, too obvious!) I’ve seen sales professionals present too early and way too often in areas the customer has no interest. In these situations solutions are rarely built around needs, but rather just thrown out to see what sticks.
Ask for the sale! Sales professionals who aren’t confident closers rely on their product knowledge and presentation expecting customers to just say “yes”.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable in closing situations. That means being prepared to ask tough questions to know exactly where you and your customer are in the process. Challenge a stall by asking “What hesitations do you have?”, or “What risks do you foresee with moving forward?”
There are volumes of material that has been written on closing techniques. I encourage you to continually study and improve on this area of your sales game. Send me an email for a list of books that have helped me gain the right closing mindset
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How often do you spend time in tasks not related to sales or selling activities. Organizing your desk, reading reports, fooling yourself into thinking that you are doing pertinent pre-call planning etc… Yes, I hear ya…you can’t work with a messy desk. Get over it!
The bottom line is that its easy to get caught up in non-essential tasks that end up to be just busy work. Winners in sales have a “What’s Important Now” mindset, or W.I.N.
When you feel that you’re not focused just ask yourself “What’s Important Now”
There are people who: Watch things happen, Make things happen, or Wonder what happened..
Which one are you?
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Sales Bit on Confidence
In my experience coaching sales reps, building confidence is a topic that comes up time and time again. Sales can be tough and with the amount of rejection sales professionals hear confidence often dips. The ability to maintain confidence will make or break any sales professional. You develop confidence in yourself by taking risk and pushing through. Build confidence in your product by becoming a product or service knowledge expert. Talk to past customers and ask them about their experiences. Build a list of testimonials to cement the confidence you build in your product. Surround yourself with confident people.
By developing a process of maintaining and building your level of confidence you will have a much greater influence on your customers and the people surrounding you. People like and gravitate towards a confident decisive person.
Success breeds confidence, but which comes first? That is the trick. We’ve all heard the “fake it till you make it” cliche. Sometimes confidence can be faked, but more often than not you can see right through it in selling situations. Focus on building lasting confidence.
Here are some tips to conveying confidence :
- Maintain Eye Contact
- Facial Expression and reaction- Acknowledgement
- Tone of voice and pace- be strong, upbeat, don’t talk too fast
- Be a product knowledge expert
- No wimp words- Ask well thought out questions
Look for situations around you to practice building confidence in your presentation and conversations. The reel tape that you play in your head should revolve around successful scenarios not potential failures. Often times sales professionals lose the sale in their heads long before they arrive at the customer. Starting off I’ve found that it’s helpful to focus on being process oriented rather than goal oriented. For example, in building rapport use a simple process that has worked for me:
F. amily (the customer, where they are from, etc)
O. ccupation (how long in position, etc)
R. ecreation (similar hobbies, do for fun)
M. e (transition to you or your message)
To build good rapport you must have good FORM. It’s easy to remember..
Confidence will come with practice, but don’t let any lack of confidence prevent you from starting. Jump right in and begin your process to confidence.
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