3 Reasons Your Salespeople are Not Getting Out of the Office

Jun 13, 2018

Why is it that salespeople (outside salespeople) are spending more & more time in the office these days?

3 reasons:

  1. Email
  2. Phone
  3. It’s easy

Without question, the phone & email make it easy for salespeople to communicate with their prospects & customers. It’s a piece of cake to send a quick email. It takes no time at all to leave a voicemail. And to some salespeople, that’s work. Do enough emails & voicemails & you’ll be tired by the end of the week.

There are salespeople that do nothing but send emails & make phone calls to prospects & customers. Nothing else. Ask them & they’ll tell you they are being efficient with their time, saying things like “I can get so much more done through email.” Yes, you can. There are others that have talked themselves into believing that their prospects & customers don’t want to see them. Tell yourself that enough times & you’ll start to believe it, too. Yes, you will.

But that doesn’t mean it’s right. It just means it’s easy.

When was the last time (in business) that the easy thing to do was the right thing to do? How about never. You’d be hard-pressed to find one example of the easy thing being the right thing – especially in sales.

One of the most ridiculous things we hear from salespeople is that they don’t have enough time to see prospects & customers. One more time… there are salespeople that say they don’t have enough time to do their job (go out & see prospects & customers & develop relationships). Complete & total hog-wash!

The fix? Step one (the hard step) is to eliminate the “head trash”. Head trash is the belief that, “I can get so much more done through email.” Head trash is, “My customers don’t want to see me.” If you really believe these things, you will never get out of the office. You will never develop relationships with customers. You will be out-sold by competitors that do.

Step two is getting out. Asking your customers for a visit. Getting invited in to discuss things that you are doing over email now. Your customers will see you. Believe it or not, most of them want to.

Ways to ask for meetings:

  • Let’s get together to determine next steps.
  • We should meet & discuss this.
  • Let me come in & discuss this with you.
  • Can I come by & meet with you to discuss this?
  • I should bring (engineer, designer, director, etc.) with me & meet with you & ___________.
  • Can we get together & hash this out? … talk this through? 

But, that takes work. Yes, this takes time. Sure, it takes away from other things you have to do. But, if you are in sales (a career salesperson) what could you possibly have to do that is more important than meeting with customers & prospects?

It’s not easy. But, it’s right.

It’s a Short Week, I’m a Salesperson… Nobody Wants to See Me. That’s Total B.S.!

May 29, 2018

It’s that time of year. Time for a reality check.

How many salespeople do you know that go on cruise control last week & this week? The week before & after Memorial Day. How many companies do you know that will actually admit to slowing down because they are short weeks?

It happens every year. So common. We could call it an epidemic at some companies & an easy way out for many salespeople. Saying things like, “Nah… they don’t want to see salespeople… it’s a holiday week,” Or, “I’m sure they don’t want to see us Memorial Day week.”. Or, “Nobody’s even there, they’re all off, it’s a holiday”. Total B.S.

Here’s an idea: Make it a point to capitalize on your competitions’ weakness – laziness! Epidemic laziness!

It’s time to buckle down & do the one thing that you actually control in your daily selling lives. Pick up the phone & call prospects.  Go see prospects & customers. Yes, you control that activity. Nobody else will be doing it so you will stand out automatically. Nobody else thinks anyone is “in” – so I like your chances.

Strong salespeople don’t go on cruise control – ever.  Successful companies don’t wind down during short weeks. They make things happen.

Weeks like these are great times to see prospects, current clients & customers.  Here are 5 reasons to keep prospecting for new business & keep seeing current clients during short weeks like this:

  1.   It’s your job
  2. Companies are always willing to look at new ideas – bring them one
  3. Prospects will see you – it’s their job
  4. It’s a great time to do a mid-year check in – plan new programs for Q3 & Q4 2018 with current clients (your competition won’t be there)
  5. As my mother always said, a Thank You is never inappropriate – thank your clients for their business

Business does not stop for the weeks before & after Memorial Day. Some salespeople do. Don’t be one of ‘em!

The “I’s” DO NOT Have It!

May 15, 2018

OK, we all know somebody; we all have an acquaintance that will not stop talking. He or she will go on & on about guess what?  You got it… how great they are. Could be at golf. Could be parenting. Could be sales. Whatever the topic, if you want to know how great they are, just ask them.

The clue? Count the number of times people say the word “I” in a conversation (or email). At some point you feel like asking them, “Excuse me, but did the middle of my sentence interfere with the beginning of yours?”   Good thing these people aren’t in Sales, right? Wrong. They are. A lot of salespeople can’t get out of their own way & feel the need to always make it about them.

If you were ridiculously honest with yourself & asked, How many times do I say the word “I” on sales calls? How many times do I write the word “I” in my emails? It’s a painful exercise that will pay off for you (especially if you support a family based on commissions you earn from making sales). You must remember this: IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU!

How many people do you know that want to make it about themselves? They talk about what they’ve done, where they’ve been, where they’re going, who they know. Some people trip over themselves to remind you that they are there. It is exhausting!

So, let’s review ways to make it about THEM. It starts with you being curious. With you asking questions. With you being a good listener.

Ask questions like:

  • “What did we discuss that caused you to invite us in?”
  • “What are some of the problems you are having?”
  • “What’s going on here, with you & your business?”
  • “What are you looking for?”
  • “Why don’t we ask each other some questions & see if we have a fit?”

Say things like:

  • “Makes sense.”
  • “Sounds interesting.”
  • “Appreciate that.”
  • “Hmm. . . that sounds tough.”
  • “You have given this a lot of thought.”

In emails simply cut out the “I’s”:

  • “It can be difficult…”
  • “We were discussing…”
  • “We’d like to offer…”
  • “When can we get together to determine next steps?”
  • “When is the best date/time for us to connect?”

Don’t be “that “I” guy”.

NO EXCUSES!

May 2, 2018

We all have that perfect salesperson in our office. “That guy.” The guy that never makes a mistake. Always does things right. His customers love him. He’s the greatest salesperson in the world (just ask him). He closes just about everything he touches. And when he doesn’t, it’s never his fault.

Let’s call this guy Dudley. Dudley has been in sales for 20 years. He knows the business. He’s an expert. He’s been with 3 or 4 companies in the same industry over those 20 years. He’ll pump his chest out & tell you he has twenty years of experience (oh yeah, I’ve been around). Upon deeper inspection, you’ll find that Dudley doesn’t have twenty years of experience at all – he has one year of experience twenty times!

Huh? Yep. One year twenty times! Dudley does things exactly the same way today as he did twenty years ago. He doesn’t take responsibility for anything (except when things are going well). Dudley points fingers at everyone & everything he can point to when a deal goes south. Dudley hasn’t learned a new thing since the ‘90s. Dudley’s a dinosaur, & he’s the only one who doesn’t know it.

The biggest problem with this is that Dudley’s boss is allowing it. Good chance Dudley’s boss buys into the excuses &, worse yet, makes excuses of her own… the most destructive thing in the world for a sales organization! Unless, of course you want an excuse-making culture.

Let’s take a look at the excuses Dudley makes & his boss accepts. Put a mental check mark next to the ones you have been guilty of making (& be honest):

  • I can’t sell at these prices
  • The prospect is just a big jerk
  • You know, the industry is down right now
  • I can never get in touch with my contact
  • They have a great relationship with their current supplier
  • She said she had a bad experience with our company & will never buy from us
  • She won’t share the budget with me
  • The economy stinks right now
  • Customer is “slow” – don’t want to do anything yet
  • Customer is too busy – no time to meet
  • Product doesn’t work
  • Our products are not good enough
  • Engineering / lab/ R&D doesn’t get results quickly enough
  • Product development takes too long – lost the opportunity
  • Customer keeps ignoring me
  • Customer keeps postponing trial / demo / test
  • We have no experience in this market              
  • Prospect lacks confidence in our product
  • Customer doesn’t want to change
  • Can’t get contact info or appointment
  • Our lead time policy is worse than competitor
  • I can’t ever get to the decision maker

Here’s the bad news, Dudley… you can tell yourself that all of these excuses are true. You can convince your boss. She can convince ownership & executive management. But, eventually, if you don’t start pointing the finger where it belongs (right between your eyes) you will NEVER be screamingly successful in sales. You will NEVER hit your sales goals. You will NEVER make the income you tell everyone (that will listen) that you think you are worth.

Want more proof? If a sports team always blamed the ref for its losses, that team will NEVER win the championship. Hell, they will NEVER be above .500 in the standings. If it’s always the ref’s fault, than it’s never our fault. Hmmm… That’s where growth stops!

If it’s always somebody else’s fault, you will never grow. You will never learn.  You will NEVER maximize your full potential. If you don’t think most of the people in your office know this, then  you’re kidding yourself. Step up & start pointing the finger where it belongs.

5 Times You are Acting Too Nice in sales (adding NO VALUE)

Apr 17, 2018

Who wasn’t raised to “Be nice to people?” Growing up, how many times did you hear, “Don’t do that, you be nice to your brother or sister?” Your Mom or Dad often said, “That’s not nice, say you’re sorry.” That’s just good rearing. The kind of advice that you’d get in any parenting book.

So, when you got into the sales profession, there’s a good chance your Mom or Dad stayed with you (right on your shoulder) whispering to you, “Be nice, your prospect has feelings too.” And you did. And you do. You go on with your daily sales grind with the “Be nice to people mantra” ringing loudly in your ear. And it works. You’re nice. Most people would say you’re one of the nicest guys they know. “Yeah, Ryan, he’s a great guy. One hell of a guy.”

Ok, so have you ever wondered why you are getting out-sold?

Why is it that the “great guy” isn’t winning all of the deals? “How can that other guy get the deal… I’m a lot nicer than he is?” We’ve got news for you (& it’s not even news – it’s been a fact for thousands of years). Nice guys finish last.

Hold on. Don’t take it literally. Clearly there are plenty of nice guys that aren’t always coming in last place. You understand the cliché. You also agree with it. You are living the cliché.

Let’s clarify. When we say, “too nice” we mean “overly nice, overly friendly”. Think of the constantly up-beat guy, ridiculously positive & over-the-top with his willingness to accommodate. The gal that continuously says YES, smiles incessantly (uncomfortably so) & drips with benevolence.

Great qualities for a WalMart greeter. Fine attributes for your 8-year old child’s summer camp counselor. But for a salesperson – not so much. Why do salespeople feel the need to go out of their way to be too nice & overly-accommodating to prospects & customers? It’s their nature. They think it’s helping their cause. NOT!

This does not suggest that salespeople should be mean, rude or obnoxious (as if we even have to mention that). In no way are we suggesting you be disrespectful (ever). It is only to suggest that when you go out of your way to accommodate, answer questions, help, be nice, etc. you give your prospects the power (& make your job harder). You put your customers on a pedestal that they don’t really belong on (& it’s tough to get them off of it).

In 2018 our prospects & customers have to see us on their level. They need to know that we can help them get where they want to go. This is next to impossible to do if we are in “awe” of them – if they are on that pedestal.

5 Times You are Acting too Nice in sales (adding NO VALUE):

  1. You find yourself saying YES a lot. There is no value to anyone when you are yessing them all the time. Tame it down.
  2. You say GREAT or AWESOME or PERFECT a lot more than you do in “real life”.  Seriously? Nothing is that great, awesome or perfect – ever.
  3. You constantly respond with THANK YOU. My mother taught me that a THANK YOU was never inappropriate, too. But not all the time. It’s too much too often.
  4. You smile too much & get excited on sales appointments. C’mon. Act like you’ve been there.
  5. You apologize too often (way more often than at home). When you over-apologize you weaken your position. Fact of life.

Sales is a tough gig. There’s no need to make it harder by giving your prospect all the power. The trick is to let them think they have all the power, but you maintain subtle control – that’s the art of this profession. But don’t do it by being way too nice (or pandering).  Do it by asking good questions. Do it by being the expert that you are. Do it by professionally selling.

Professional salespeople ask tough questions in a nurturing manner. Rarely, (if ever) do they have a smile on their face when they are asking a tough question. Your prospects’ problems are nothing to smile or laugh at. It’s a discipline (&, yes, sometimes it’s an act) to stay focused & listen. Be on their level. Be there with them.

Act like you’ve been there.

How Bad do you Want it?

Apr 3, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Success. That’s what we’re talking about here. How bad do you want success?

Stupid question? Maybe. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that says they don’t want it. We surround ourselves with salespeople, & that’s one cast of characters that definitely say they want success. They want it. They need it. They deserve it. They’ve earned it. We’ve heard ‘em all. Funny thing is, what they say often flies in the complete opposite direction of what they do.

We’ve never met a salesperson that doesn’t say they work hard, really hard. A common one is, “I work my ass off for this company!” Really? Then we watch what time they schedule their first appointment, what time they arrive in the office, how much time they spend at lunch, what time they schedule their last appointment, what time they leave for the day. What they say isn’t even close to what they do.

How many salespeople in the contiguous 48 states do you think want to make more money? That’s easy, all of them! Every single salesperson we’ve ever dealt with says they want to make more money than last year. A lot more. In fact, most can’t stop bitching about their income every time you speak to them. Then, we watch how much time they spend at current (familiar) customers that haven’t bought anything new in years. It’s easy & convenient to take “Carl” out to lunch (even though Carl can’t make a decision to save his life … but he’ll talk to us!). They wouldn’t prospect for new business if their life depended on it. Since earning more money depends on it, you might deduce that what they say isn’t even close to what they do.

One of our favorites is the salesperson that says they need to become better at time-management. Interesting, upon deeper inspection, many of these people do the same thing every day, refusing to utilize technology to maximize efficiencies, continuing to do research, quotes & expense reports during “pay time” hours that could be spent with prospects & customers.  When you look into it, what they say isn’t even close to what they do.

Every company has this salesperson… the salesperson that makes an excuse for everything that doesn’t go his way. It’s always the customer’s fault. It’s always “the competition cut their price”. It’s always production’s fault. It’s always a “slow time for the customer”. It’s always “our prices are too high”.  Notice how this guy never, ever, points the finger between his own two eyes? That would mean he’d have to hold himself accountable & be responsible for once. Nope, too hard. Here’s a guy that says he wants to be successful, but what he does shows something else. It’s like watching two different movies!

How bad do you want success? What will you do to get it? The two need to match up. Take a look at every successful person you know. Someone that has worked hard for their success. Earned lots of money. Has cool things. Goes to neat places. The key phrase is “worked hard for their success”. We’re not talking about your friends that were born with money. Some people have a silver spoon in their mouth. If you don’t, how bad do you want it?

Start doing what it takes to get it.

If you Say You’re Gonna do it, do it!

Mar 20, 2018

 

If we had a nickel for every time someone said to us, “My salesperson never got back to me”, or “The salesperson’s follow-up was terrible”, or “I can’t find or get in touch with my salesperson”, we’d have a stack up to the ceiling.  It’s pretty sad.

Scenario: You’ve got a prospect or current client (& the hardest part of selling is getting the prospect or client). Why in the world would you squander the opportunity by getting lazy with your follow-up? Why would you miss out on the opportunity to build a relationship & impress someone with your attention to detail? You know it’s all in the detail.

Do you know how excited your competition would be if they learned that your follow-up skills were lacking? They’d be drooling. They can’t wait to snatch up your business right from under your nose. When you slack in the follow-up, you are practically pushing your clients to your competition. They don’t need the help.

You need to “trick” or “trap” yourself into doing the follow-up. The best mechanism for this is your tasks or calendar. Everybody has these tools on the desktop, laptop &/or phone. These are great tools – especially if you use them. Don’t tell us you don’t need to use tasks. Don’t say the calendar is just for appointments. You won’t remember everything & calendars are great for reminding you what to do – even if it’s a follow-up phone call.

Think of your calendar on your laptop or desktop (if you aren’t using one & synching it to your phone you are screwing up). A calendar is a funny thing – it gets “paid attention to”. When items are on your calendar they get completed. You wouldn’t think of missing a doctor’s appointment. You would never skip out & miss your golf league. You damn sure would never forget a happy hour meeting with your buddies. When these are on the calendar they are important & they get done. Same goes for sales activities – the little tasks. So why don’t you use them? How hard is it to type in “Call Jenny to determine next steps – 248.867.5309″? Not hard at all.

Sales follow-up takes a discipline. It takes a commitment. It takes time. But it’s not hard.

Most of the time Sales Winners get deals it’s because of their follow-up. Take note.

For the Money

Mar 6, 2018

One of the most important things you must do (as a sales VP, Director, Manager, Trainer or Coach) is to determine what motivates your salespeople. What really motivates them! Sometimes that’s easy to do – other times, not so much.

The question is an easy one to ask: “Why sales?” or “Why are you in sales?”  The hard part (for some salespeople) is the answer. Here’s what we’ve heard:

  • I really like people
  • I love the freedom to make my own schedule
  • I like to help people
  • I like to solve people’s problems
  • I’m a people-person
  • I’m really good with people

Sure, it’s a loaded question. We know what the answer “should” be. Most salespeople give the answer they “think” we want – the answer they think will win us over & make them look really good.  Mistake.

Sales pros out there hear this: IT IS OK TO WANT MONEY! Matter of fact, in our experience, if “for the money” is not in the top 2 reasons for you to be in sales, get a new career.

This gig is hard enough. How many times have we said this? Let’s face it. . . we talk to strangers all day long. . . that don’t want to talk to us. . . about something they don’t want to buy. Who would do that? That’s nuts! So, if you do succeed at that, & find someone that does want to buy, you had better be paid well. Simple as that.

But no. Most salespeople “say” they really like people (join the Peace Corps). They say they really like to help people (they’re always looking for nurses). They like to solve people’s problems (be a psychiatrist). They say they are people-persons (Walmart could use a few new greeters). They say they are really good with people (so are counselors).

Why so tough on “people persons” you ask?  Because these people have a hard time making a living in sales. Why? They tend to do things that people-persons, or “nice people” do. Like what?

Things that “nice people” do in sales:

  • Talk to anyone that will talk with them (not always high-level decision makers)
  • Discount pricing (after all I can’t get full price from my “friends”)
  • Educate, educate & educate prospects until their tongue turns blue (trying to impress & get their own needs met)
  • Trust prospects that want to “think it over” (chasing them for decisions…)
  • Make friends on sales calls (not sales)
  • Don’t ask the tough questions (too nice)

Salespeople that are in it for the money have a different mind-set – & it is professional & appropriate. They see themselves as problem solvers, so they look for problems, not friends. They understand they work for “for-profit” companies & are comfortable charging for it. Most of all, they appreciate the “economics of selling” & don’t waste time educating prospects so much that they end up chasing them for decisions. That’s the DUMP & CHASE at it’s finest.

It’s OK to want money. Never be ashamed of that.

3 Ways to Make Sure you are Selling to the Decision Maker(s)

Feb 20, 2018

 

Have you ever spent two, three, six (or more) months working on a deal? You have momentum. Everything seems to be going well. Your solution is perfect. Your contact returns your calls. He replies to your emails. He meets with you when you are at his office. He even goes to lunch with you, as long as you’re paying. All is good. Until it’s time to finalize the deal – close it. That’s when you learn that your contact (we’ll call him Carl) doesn’t have the authority to approve the deal.

That’s a “spirit-crusher”! Carl could have said NO at any point along the sales cycle, but you waited until the end (months later) to learn that he could not say YES. One of the worst feelings in sales.

This spirit-crushing lesson doesn’t need to be learned more than once. You don’t need that feeling in the pit of your gut ever again. Then why does it happen over & over? There are a few reasons:

  1. You trust Carl. Your “happy ears” hear what they want to hear & you don’t think you need to dig deeper.
  2. You don’t want to offend Carl by going over his head. And it works. You never do. (Solves that problem).
  3. You don’t believe you “belong” at the higher level. You are comfortable with lower-level Carls.
  4. You don’t want to “upset the applecart” – “better not screw things up by asking too many questions”

We’ve heard ‘em all. If any of these items ring true in your selling life you will fall victim to another spirit-crushing deal. Or should we say, “no deal”?

The lesson here: You must fight to get to the decision maker/makers & understand how the process works.

You read it right. The who, who else & how. Every single deal. We are not suggesting you go over Carl’s head in any way that exposes you to Carl. No need to offend Carl (you need Carl). We are suggesting that Carl help you get to the appropriate person/people.

Carl knows his place. If Carl wants you & your product or service, he will help you. Remember, Carl can say NO… he just can’t say YES.

Here are 3 ways to make sure you are selling to the decision maker(s):

  1. (How before who) When you make decisions like this, how does it work & who is involved?
  2. (Who before how) When you make decisions like this, who is involved & how does it work?
  3. (Every business is different…) Every business we work with is different. When you make decisions like this, how does it work & who is involved?

These questions are worded very carefully. They are designed to gather the information you need to ensure you are dealing with all the appropriate people & that you understand the process.

Be sure you don’t break a cardinal rule of selling & give Carl the chance to lie to you by asking, “Are you the decision maker.” Some Carl’s out there can’t wait to get their needs met, can’t wait to puff their chest out & give you the perception that they have “power” & will immediately say YES to that question. Wrong question.

Serious Question Sales Pros: Would You Buy from You?

Feb 6, 2018

 

Might seem like an odd question to ask yourself: Would you buy from you? Yep, pretty odd.

Most salespeople will answer (without thinking), “Of course I would.” “Why wouldn’t I?” “Sure would… I’m good… really good.” It’s natural. What salesperson, who makes her living selling, is going to admit that she wouldn’t even buy from herself?

OK, so we’ll attack this from a different angle. If you were being ridiculously honest with yourself, in a room by yourself, with nobody listening… would you buy from you? Would you?

Let’s do a quick survey:

  • Would you buy from someone who doesn’t do his homework?
  • Would you buy from someone who talks 80… 90… 100% of the time on sales calls?
  • Would you buy from someone who can’t wait to tell you how great her products & services are?
  • Would you buy from someone who can’t wait to tell you how great he is?
  • Would you buy from someone who doesn’t ask you questions?
  • Would you buy from someone who follows up with you like a stalker?
  • Would you buy from someone who had the audacity to drop his price as soon as you objected?
  • Would you buy from someone who just waited & waited for you to send him an order?
  • Would you buy from someone who took forever to return calls or respond to your emails?
  • Would you buy from someone who isn’t the least bit curious about you & your business?
  • Would you buy from someone who bad-mouths his competition?
  • Would you buy from someone who lacks charisma, passion & desire?
  • Would you buy from someone who shuts off his cell & email at 5 or 6 PM (& on weekends)?
  • Would you buy from someone who doesn’t prospect or hunt for deals on her own?
  • Would you buy from someone who does canned quotes/proposals for everyone that wants one?
  • Would you buy from someone who thinks they are always right & the customer never is?
  • Would you buy from someone who sets meager goals for himself & blames others when he misses them?
  • Would you buy from someone who stays in the office & would rather be there than engaging a prospect or client?
  • Would you buy from someone who thinks working hard means putting in 40 hours per week?
  • Would you buy from someone who disrespects his sales manager?
  • Would you buy from someone who doesn’t have 20 years of experience but 1 year, 20 times?
  • Would you buy from someone who spends more time planning his Sprig Break vacation than his sales career?

Me neither.