In Sales, Throw ‘em a Change Up

August 4, 2020

It happened! The short MLB season has started. Seems like a good day to talk about the change-up.

Prospects are always waiting to crush your sales pitch – so don’t give them one. Change it up.

Every sales call you go on can actually be an ambush in disguise. Current clients & prospects that you visit know exactly why you are coming – they know your intentions: to sell them something. Seems fine, right? All is above board, no secrets, everyone knows what to expect. What could be wrong with that?

Here’s what could go wrong: One simple rule that you will find in Gitomers Little Red Book of Selling – Nobody wants to be sold.

Once people believe you are coming in to sell them, they recoil, put up defenses & rehearse reasons why they don’t need whatever it is you are selling. They may disguise it or do it under the surface, but it’s there. Chalk it up to basic human nature.  We don’t want others to push things on us that we haven’t decided we need. We don’t want to be convinced of anything.

So, stop pushing. No convincing. You should disarm & surprise prospects so what they actually experience during a sales call isn’t even close to what they expected. Take it away from them (aka The Pushback).

How?

  • Avoid “old-school selling”. No handouts.  No documents to read.  No PowerPoint presentations. Just a notebook & pen.  Enter the room stripped of these crutches & you send an immediate message that something different is about to happen.  This is how you build credibility.
  • Control the agenda by opening with strong Ground Rules. Set expectations for what you both want to accomplish. This shows your knowledge & that you care about them. It also quickly reinforces to your prospect that you are there to ask for a deal.
  • Ask all of the qualifying questions to uncover compelling problems(PAIN) they have (the real reason you are there in the 1st place). Have the money conversation to uncover budgets.  Make sure that you are in front of all decision makers (& understand how they make decisions) – if not in this meeting, then the next meeting
  • Only when you have uncovered all 3 items above (PAIN, money conversation & decision making process) do you present a solution, proposal, quote, etc. This may happen at the next meeting (after you have prepared all appropriate information relevant to their PAIN only). In other words, do not present “the kitchen sink”.  It’s too confusing & self-serving when you tell prospects everything you can do.  Be patient – they will buy.

Gitomer has got it right: People don’t want to be sold, but they want to buy. They want to be informed & they want to be surprised (good surprises).  They want to be the first to know. They want a competitive advantage.  You provide this.

Let’s rewind the film. Rethink how you enter the room, what you say & how you say it.  Chances are good that the would-be ambush will turn into an embrace. You’re not the prey. You’re the trusted adviser – the solution provider.   When this happens, you won’t have to sell them – they’ll sell themselves.

Now go out & open up some opportunities – then be the closer.

Stop Trying to Sell Tums to People without Heartburn

July 21, 2020

Yes, the title sounds silly. It certainly won’t make sense until you’ve read the entire blog – so, looks like we’ve got you hooked.

Let’s set the stage: Kevin the Salesperson has a giant bowl filled with every flavor of Tums ever invented (all in individually wrapped packages). He’s in a large room filled with 200 people (ages 30 to 80). The room is split right down the middle & separated by a curtain. On the right side of the curtain are 100 people. Left side, the other 100.

Kevin’s mission: Get rid of his bowl of Tums as quickly as possible. If he does it in less than 2-hours he wins dinner for two at the Rooster Tail! Oh yeah, he can give them away OR he can sell them… no rules!

Kevin starts on the right side of the room. He’s thinking, “I got this! All I have to do is get rid of this bowl & I get to take my wife to dinner. Piece of cake! Better get busy… He runs to the far wall & starts asking people, “Would you like a Tums or two?” … “Can I interest you in a delicious Tums?” … “How about a Tums?” The first 25-30 people look at him like he’s crazy & Kevin starts to think, “maybe this isn’t going to be as easy as I thought… 

After a few moments Kevin stands in the middle of the room, holds the bowl up in the air & shouts like a ticket-scalper, “TUMS, FREE TUMS! WHO WANTS TUMS? I’VE GOT TUMS!”

Nothing!

Feeling the pressure & looking at a full bowl of Tums, Kevin sneaks across to the left side of the room to give it a try over there. He reverts back to his initial approach & begins asking the first people he sees, “Would you like a Tums or two?” … “Can I interest you in a delicious Tums?” … “How about a Tums?”

One woman bites. She says, Thank you, Kevin, I have had heartburn since lunch!” Kevin smiles, walks away & gains his composure & makes his way over to a corner to think this through.

He mulls it over, “Heartburn …hmmm. acid reflux… ahhh. I wonder if I should ask people if they have heartburn or acid reflux (seems to be the only reason people take Tums … after all, they’re not candy).  He approaches a group of people & asks if they have heartburn or reflux. Many say YES. Kevin says, they’re $1.00 apiece. No problem. They all reached into their pockets & pulled out cash (one guy even bought 5 of them for $5.00). As he walked away Kevin heard the same man say, “This acid reflux is killing me… can’t even sleep!”

Next thing you know Kevin is swarmed by people. He’s almost knocked down. People couldn’t get ahold of the Tums fast enough.

Gaining confidence, Kevin approaches the next group of 5 people & asks, “you don’t happen to have heartburn or acid reflux, do you?” When all 5-people nodded, Kevin said, “that’ll be $2.00 apiece.” Sold! 

Now, Kevin was born at night… but not last night. He had about 20 Tums left, his confidence was at an all-time high, so he approached the last group of 10 people with $5.00 on his mind – per Tums. He said, “Who has heartburn? Who has acid reflux?  When all 10-people screamed, “I DO” Kevin knew it was over. Done!  Empty bowl in less than 30 minutes – on the left side of the curtain.

Moral of the story? You can’t give Tums away to people that don’t have heartburn or acid reflux. They’re chalky, they’re gritty. Nobody eats Tums for fun. They aren’t candy.

On the other hand (& you’ll agree if you’ve ever had that horrible feeling heartburn creates or were up all-night battling acid reflux) people will pay anything to get rid of both! They don’t care how it tastes & they sure as hell don’t care how much it costs, or if it’s sugar free.

How many times in your selling lives have you tried selling your products to people that had no need for them? Had no compelling PAIN? Can you imagine how much time & energy you have wasted pushing your Tums on people that were heartburn & reflux-free. Tons!

You must know WHY PEOPLE BUY WHAT YOU SELL  – their PAIN. Why do people buy from you? Why don’t people buy from you? Kevin finally figured it out. People need to have heartburn or acid reflux to be “qualified” to buy his Tums. So, he started looking for people with heartburn or acid reflux. He could have spent an entire afternoon on the “wrong” side of that room. No PAIN = No SALE

Make sense? Of course, it does. So why are you still pushing your Tums on people without the burn?

People Buy from People they are Comfortable With

July 7, 2020

A common thing to say in sales is, “People buy from people they like.” True. Another over-used phrase: “People buy from people they trust.” Can’t argue that. Like & trust are important things to strive for in sales. Good end game goals. But you don’t start there. You start by helping people become comfortable with you. That takes people skills.  Let’s work on the things we can do to help people become comfortable with us. Let’s develop relationships in sales. Hard to do on social media. If you still get face-to-face with prospects & customers, it’s important to build relationships. Can’t argue that one either.

7 Tips to follow while building relationships in sales:

  1. Get to know your clients: How many of your customers do you really know? Really know! Did you know you are allowed to get to know them? Of course, you did. But, how many do you really know?  Ask them questions. You know that people love to talk about 2 things; themselves & their families. Start there. Ask about jobs, interests, hobbies, spouses, kids, sports, etc. But be genuine! There’s nothing worse than when someone asks questions but “clearly” does not care.
  2. Stay in touch with customers: Keep up with people. It sounds so basic, but we’re starting to forget how to do it – Social Media is making sure of that. If you don’t talk to someone for months, you’ll fall off their radar, or they may not immediately jump at the chance to help you when you finally reach out to them & ask. How often do you call your favorite clients? Other clients?
  3. Be curious: Genuinely curious. Ask questions – but only about things you have a real interest in. It’ll show if you don’t. When you’re interested in people it makes them feel good – really good. This is about making people comfortable with you.  When people are comfortable with you it doesn’t feel like you’re selling. It doesn’t even feel like work. Show a genuine interest in others.
  4. Build trust: Never take advantage of people. It’s crazy that this is even on the list – but it is. It’s the quickest way to ruin a relationship and build a bad reputation that can harm other relationships too. The key to building trust is being honest. When you are willing to forego your own interests to help someone else, they know they can rely on you. Do the right thing & be dependable, & you’ll see your relationships grow.
  5. Focus on giving: Think of this: many people want to build relationships so that they can have someone to help them out when they need it. Try to have a less “what’s in it for me” Always think about how you can help other people (especially clients). They’re far more likely to return a favor than they are to go out of their way for you, especially early in your relationship.
  6. Focus on quality, not quantity: You can’t be “besties” with everyone – so don’t even try. Have solid relationships with some people. There is no need to spread yourself so thin that everybody knows you (but nobody likes you). There is a lot to be said for quality over quantity. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to keep up with too many new people.
  7. Keep records of those you have spoken with: If they’re online contacts on a digital network, keep your conversations going. If they’re clients or other people with whom you’ve swapped business cards, send an email or make a call every month or so. Check in & say hello. If you tend to forget to make, or worse, return calls or emails, use a task management system or calendar to remind you to call or write.

But all of this takes time. It’s work. It’s hard. No question. If it’s not important to you then you will never do it. If it is important you will find a way. Or you can go into an internet-based business where you never have to talk to anybody. Just be an order-taker. See how well that works for you.

Stops & Starts

June 23, 2020

Tired of reading long & boring blogs? Paragraph after paragraph… feels like homework!

Today’s your day. Check out these lists: Stops & Starts.

Salespeople please STOP:

  • Talking so much
  • Leaning on canned company powerpoint presentations
  • Saying “Just following up…” or “Just touching base…”
  • Talking to Carl the Clerk (who can’t make a decision to save his life)
  • Selling the gatekeeper (he can’t make a decision either)
  • Talking about WHAT you do
  • Doing quotes & proposals to prospects who are not qualified
  • Waiting for people to call you back
  • Selling on price
  • Going on “social calls” in sales
  • Making friends in sales
  • Trash-talking the competition
  • Leaning on email so much
  • Being a “vendor” or a “supplier”
  • Being a poser… a wannabe
  • Making excuses for a lack of results
  • Taking shortcuts
  • Dumping your information on prospects (educating)
  • Chasing prospects for decisions
  • Complaining about your income

Now let’s START:

  • Understanding WHY your prospect will buy
  • Getting curious… really curious
  • Asking tougher questions
  • Uncovering budgets & target pricing
  • Talking to decision makers
  • Being a partner
  • Asking for introductions & referrals
  • Managing expectations in sales (Ground Rules)
  • Realizing that you are half of the equation in sales (you are worthy)
  • Answering your cell phone & email after hours & on weekends
  • Out-selling your competition
  • Listening
  • Using a system for selling
  • Prospecting for new business
  • Holding yourself accountable
  • Getting comfortable with the word NO
  • Being a professional
  • Being real… & humble
  • Making your family proud that you provide for them
  • Realizing you are in the greatest profession in the world

Have fun.

Sales is a Game of Inches

June 9, 2020

Where have all the “lay-downs” gone? You know a lay-down – the easiest sale you have ever made. It takes no work. A customer or prospect called or emailed & practically said, take my money, we need help! Have you had your lay down yet this year? If you did congrats – if not you will (maybe) but the rest of your sales are going to take work.

That’s just the way it is any more – selling takes work. It’s not easy (don’t let anyone tell you it is). When we make sales it’s not by a gigantic margin. We are not the only game in town. We have to work for every bit of the sale. If we are not on top of our game , competition will eat our lunch!

This means that every single thing you do counts. From your initial contact to presenting your solution – everything. What you wear. What you say. What you don’t say. Where you sit. What you send. What you ask. What you don’t ask. How you respond. How quickly you respond. Everything!

So how are you doing so far? Ever get the feeling your lunch is getting eaten? Stinks, doesn’t it?

Let’s take a look at hedging that bet. Let’s tilt the ice in our favor. Here is Top 10 List (David Letterman-style) of Sales Mistakes still being made in 2020 & what you can do about them.

A Top 10 List of Sales Mistakes to Avoid (from the corporate office in Plymouth, Michigan):

10. Leaving a voice mail for your prospect that says, “Just following up…” NO! Everyone you compete with says that! You sound like a stalker. Separate yourself from your competition by setting an expectation of when you should call to follow up & determine next steps & live up to that expectation. You’ll stop chasing prospects. 

9. Sitting across from prospects or clients on appointments. Remove the barrier that says, “Hey, you want to fight?” When you sit across from someone the space between you both is a barrier. Sit next to prospects & clients (not right next to them; Noon & 3:00 on the clock). Remove the barrier.

8. Giving everyone the same boring pitch. If you have been subscribing to this blog for even a week, then you know how we feel about pitches. Ask questions. Have discussions. Determine if you have a fit & be a consultative partner. No pitching!

7. Leaning on email like it’s a crutch. It’s easy to tell you NO over email. It’s easy to ignore an email. Stop taking the easy way out. Get in your car & go see people. Unless you are Amazon or eBay that’s how sales work in your business.

6. Listening like a 3 year old. Forget the terrible two’s… my wife & I clearly recall the terrible threes. Our kids didn’t listen to a thing we said. They were kids. Why do some of you still exhibit brutal listening skills?

5. Dressing to make yourself comfortable. There. Said it. It’s out there. Why do salespeople feel the need to let their self-expression rear its ugly head during the week? Save the trendy, flashy, casual garb for the weekend. Be professional. Dress to make your prospect (or client) feel comfortable.

4. Trash-talking the competition. Never, ever do you speak poorly about your competitors. If your prospect wants to dog your competitor that’s one thing. You stay out of it.

3. Not adding value. When salespeople fail to add value, they reduce their product or service to a commodity. Stop making it about WHAT you do & start determining WHY they would need it. Discuss the problem, not the solution.

2. Selling on price. Anyone can sell on price. Why do we need high paid sales pros to discount, lower prices, & cut into margins? Go back to #3 & start asking the tough questions. Then refer to #1.

1. Talking too much. Admit it. It feels good to tell people what you know. When you do that you make it all about you. When it’s all about you it’s not about them. When it’s not about them they want to look at something else or buy it on price. Would you shut up for once?

Inches.

Serious Question, Sales Pros: Would You Buy from You?

May 26, 2020

Might seem like an odd question to ask yourself: Would you buy from you? 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 screamingly 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 his products & services are?
  • Would you buy from someone who can’t wait to tell you how great she 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 her 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 her 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 herself & blames others when she misses them?
  • Would you buy from someone who stays in the office (in normal times) & 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 her 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 her winter vacation than her sales career?

Me neither.

It’s ALL MENTAL!

May 12, 2020

Yogi Berra is known for whacky sayings & quotes that make you say, huh? He had a lot of them. His best? Hands down it has to be, Baseball is 90% mental, & the other half is physical.

What’s so great about that quote? It applies to EVERYTHING! It applies to every sport from baseball to badminton. It applies to every profession from teaching to sales. It simply applies.

Sales leaders & selling professionals know this as well as anyone. In 2020, with products & services being so “technically” proficient, so well made & positioned it’s rarely the “physical thing” that gets you the deal. Think about it: is your product or service that much better than your competitors? If it is, then why is it so hard to sell it? Why don’t you have more market share? Hell, why don’t you have the entire market?

You know why. Because your product or service is not that much better. Are you good? Yes. Is everyone else good? Also, yes. Face it: the crappy companies with the me-too products & services went down the drain in the 2007-2009 mess we had. The companies that survived deserved to survive. They are good! You are competing with worthy companies & they are competing with you. It’s one of the things that makes America great.

So how do you win in this incredibly tight & competitive marketplace? Step one is to believe you can. You have to really internalize & believe in your value & the value or your product or service. My mentor used to say, “The first sale we make is between our own ears.” What he was saying is “Sales is 90% mental, & the other half is physical.” Such a great mind-set.

Need some context? Here goes:

  • When you are feeling pressure to lower your price because your customer “demands” it, what gives you the gumption to stay firm? The 6 inches between your ears.
  • When you are dealing with a lower level (or non-decision maker), what gives you the guts to ask to meet with her manager or boss? Your attitude.
  • When you are up against an incumbent that has had the business for 5 plus years what gives you the “permission” to ask your prospect “How did we get here? You have had ABC Company for 5 plus years. Aren’t you satisfied with them?”  Your mental make-up.
  • When you are about to ask your prospect if they have a budget or target established for this part or project, what gets you through the angst? The 6 inches again.
  • When you have passed the same facility 8 times a week for the past 3 years (that you know buys your products). What makes you stop in this time? Your belief that you should.

When you have been calling on a company for a while, have provided a great solution that you know will work & you are waiting for them to “order it”. What gives you the umph to ask for the order? Mind-set.

If these examples don’t prove that the sales game is 90% mental, come up with a few hundred more on your own. You don’t have to think long & hard to come up with some. It happens every day. The 6 inches between the ears has broken more salespeople than Yogi Berra has quotes. It will continue to do so until the mental is mastered. Believe you can.

Charisma! A Great Quality To Have

April 28, 2020

 

Have you ever missed out on a deal because you had too much charisma? Doubt it

A better question would be, have you ever missed out on one because you lacked charisma? Much more likely.

What is Charisma?

Charisma is the ability to influence others positively by connecting with them physically, emotionally or intellectually.  It’s a compelling attractiveness (not necessarily physical attractiveness) or charm that can inspire devotion in people. It can be revealed only during interaction with others.

Does everybody have Charisma?

Yes, everybody you have ever met has Charisma.  Some say we are born with or without it – not!  We all have it. It’s not “wired” the same way in you as it is in another person – but we all have it.

7 Components of Charisma

  1. Your Silent Message

You “tell” people about yourself before you open your mouth. This is your “silent message”.  It’s the way you carry yourself – physically, emotionally & intellectually. This is also called your “posture” (not the way you stand) the way you carry yourself. You’ve seen 2 people enter a room & you form an opinion about each of them before they even say 1 word. Silent message – work on it – it’s critical.

  1. Your Ability to Speak Well

You may have the greatest idea in the world, but who will know it if you can’t articulate it well? Pay attention to how you speak – work on it daily. Have you ever heard a person absolutely BOMB a joke because they can’t articulate well? Enough said. Listen to great comedians. Their power comes from timing – which is related to their ability to pause. It’s all about the beautifully placed pause.

  1. Your Listening Skills

Listening skills are almost never taught. Listening is such an important key to communicating & making others feel special around you. Take a deep breath, pause, count to three & learn to shut up!

  1. Your Persuasive Talent

Your ability to motivate others to follow your lead & adopt your idea. No idea (however great it is) ever gets anywhere until it’s adopted. Be cool – nobody wants to “know” they are being persuaded. We’ll call it a gentle nudge. Remember, it’s OK to suggest that people come to “your side” – gently nudge them – not hard sell.

  1. Your Use of Space & Time

How you honor or violate another person’s personal space & time will have a direct effect on the amount of trust or miss-trust between the two of you. First off, don’t be late, ever. It’s rude. Next, not too close, not too far. In our part of the world – under normal circumstances –  18” to 2 feet is ideal.

  1. Your Ability to Adapt to Others

People (& prospects) get whatever personalities they want. If it’s important enough to you then you will need to treat others the way they want to be treated. Pay attention to what they do, say, mirror & match them & do it right – otherwise it looks contrived. Do you treat the maintenance person any different than you do the CEO? Charismatic people don’t.

  1. Your Vision, Your Ideas

What do you feel passionately about? What do you really, really care about? What do you love? You will never help anyone change their minds or ideas & take action if you don’t feel strongly about it yourself. It’s OK to have a position, a stance. No need to preach it everywhere you go, but charismatic people have a vision.

It’s one of the best qualities a person can possess – let alone a salesperson. Work on it.

Sales: What They Don’t Teach You in School

April 14, 2020

You’ve heard of the “school of hard knocks”: The (sometimes painful) education you get from life’s usually negative experiences, often contrasted with formal education. It’s reality. It’s when your mom & dad used to say, “Welcome to the real world.”

There are few professions other than sales that experience this “school” every single day – & now it’s in HD! Sales is different. It’s an art. It’s about people. People have personalities. People are different. Most salespeople get these lessons over their careers. They sometimes come at a huge cost (time, energy & money combined). Let’s shorten your learning curve & come to the hard realization that the following 10 statements are 100% true. Realize it fast.

Ten Things about Sales they don’t Teach you in School:

  1. You don’t punch a clock in sales.
    The great ones make it a life-style & are “always on”. Evenings, weekends, holidays, etc.
  1. It’s lonely out there.
    If you are a commissioned salesperson nobody will care that your prospect “said they would buy” or “is getting ready to buy”. Your boss does not care that you are sick (& that does not make her a jerk). We are measured by results. Closed sales. Period. 
  1. Sales is NO PLACE to get your needs met.
    If you are looking for friends join the Peace Corps or a bowling league.
  1. You fail more often than you succeed.
    Repeat: You will fail more often than you succeed. If you are working, prospecting, hunting for opportunities more people will tell you NO than tell you YES. Get used to it.
  1. When someone says they want to “think it over” they really mean NO.
    “Think it over” does not mean YES. You can’t cash a “think it over”. If you trust people that say they want to “think it over” you will have skinny kids. 
  1. If you are not comfortable talking about money you will starve.
    Your job is to sell products/services at profitable margins. This requires discussions about their money & where it will come from.
  1. Your colleagues in other departments think you have the life (& will begrudge you).
    They may not tell you, but they do. When you are out of the office people naturally think you are screwing off. It’s not true (unless it is)You will never convince them otherwise. Stop trying.
  1. It’s OK to be competitive & want money.
    If “for the money” is not in your top 2 reasons to be in sales get another job.
  1. If you don’t see yourself “worthy” in front of high level decision makers you are in trouble.
    High level decision makers are important. They make things happen. They are busy. They don’t have time for “social calls” or “idle chit-chat”. Stop talking to Carl, the clerk – he can’t make a decision to save his life!
  1. If you are not completely comfortable with the word NO you will struggle – seriously struggle.
    Back up to #4. You won’t go 10 for 10 every month in sales. This rejection kills some salespeople. I have seen some incredibly intelligent people drop out of selling careers because they could not stand to be told NO.

Don’t take 5 or 10 or 20 years to learn these lessons. Learn them now, get over it & move on. Despite what they don’t teach you in school sales is still the coolest profession in the world!

 

If I Could Be Gutsier in Sales!

March 31, 2020

Spend a few decades training & coaching salespeople & you see patterns develop. One that rings loudly is the tendency for some to take the easy way out, to not go for it. As a mentor of mine used to say, to Wimp Out.

With that in mind let’s talk a little about guts. A fair question to ask sales pros is, “If you could be gutsier in sales what would you do?” Guts is a strong word. We’re not talking cliff-diving amounts of guts. We’re not even coming close to the amount of guts it takes to serve our country in battle. We’re talking about stepping out of your comfort zone for a few seconds & asking a question. We’re talking about doing something that helps you stay in control of the sales process because you have rights.

A favorite comparison takes me back to the 1990 Detroit Pistons. Coached by Chuck Daly, the Pistons had a great team. Who can forget one of the best defenders & rebounders in the league at the time – Dennis Rodman (say what you will about him now… he was a really good player). 

Daly was one of very few people who could actually get through to Rodman – to rein him in. They had grand respect for each other & it showed. Daly would pull Rodman aside from time-to-time &, as only a great coach can do, get through to Rodman. He’d say, “I need you to play defense today, Dennis. But I don’t need you to play 48 minutes of defense (that would kill anybody). Can you give me 5 seconds of defense at a time? That’s it, Dennis. 5 seconds at a time. You do that & we will do well today.”

That’s what basketball is – 5 seconds of defense at a time. Sales is no different. Sales isn’t an hour & a half of guts. That’s hard sell. That’s obnoxious. Sales is 5 seconds of guts at a time. 5 seconds of stepping out of your comfort zone to ask a tough question or more importantly NOT ANSWER a question that could kill you. And you can do it.

Let’s identify some common occurrences where 5 seconds of guts would do your selling some good:

  • Asking how decisions are made & who is involved
  • Not answering the price question right away (when you do, it’s over)
  • Asking if there is a budget (or target) pricing established for this project
  • Not being quick to educate your prospect with feature & benefit knowledge until they are fully qualified
  • Asking why you are talking (knowing they have a long relationship with their incumbent – your competitor)
  • Not being quick to send a quote just because they want one
  • Asking for a referral or introduction
  • Not sending information, specs, documents, product samples when they say, “we’re interested…”
  • Asking your prospect how much their problem is costing them (or will cost them) if not fixed
  • Not keeping your head on a swivel & paying attention to your surroundings (AKA: every time we quote we miss out, but at least “We’re close…). Who cares about close?
  • Asking your contact (Carl) how we can get an audience with his boss without feeling like you are going over his head

If ever you have gotten that feeling in your large intestine when any of these items pop up, you are not alone.

Question is: What are you prepared to do about it?