It’s 2020. What’s Going to be Different this Year?

Jan 7, 2020

OK, we’re a week into 2020. You’ve had enough time to settle in. You’re grinding. Business as usual. Here are 3 questions for you:

  1. How “usual” will things be this year?
  2. Better yet, what’s going to be different this year?
  3. More specifically: What will you do this year to take your sales to the next level?

If you’re satisfied, coasting, or as a friend of ours used to say, “Livin’ large”, stop reading now & go back to doing whatever it is you do.

This won’t be one of those corny blogs that attempts to motivate you & tell you what a great year this will be. The motivation won’t work & making it great is up to you.

What we will do is ask: What’s going to be different this year?

If you are not happy in your sales role; if you are not making the money you want, what will you do differently this year to change things? Blame the leads? Complain about your territory? “Dog” the competition? Bitch about your management?

How’d that work for you last year? And the year before?

Nope. This year will be different (if you want it to be). This year you have the choice to hold yourself accountable – to point the finger right where it should be pointed – right between your eyes.

Whatever problem a salesperson is struggling with, you can bet big dollars that it can be factored down to the fact that he or she does not have enough opportunities to close business. This is because he or she does not “open” enough business. And this is because he or she is not prospecting enough. Almost every “sales” problem is a prospecting problem!

Look familiar?

  • Feeling pressure to lower your price? You probably don’t have any other logs in the fire.
  • Following up with a prospect enough to classify you as a stalker? You probably don’t have any other real good opportunities.
  • Spending all your time talking with lower level non-decision makers? You probably have a wide-open calendar.
  • Keeping a pipeline full of a bunch of low % opportunities. You probably have not opened any high % opportunities.
  • Spending all your time “farming” current accounts waiting for one of them to “place an order”. You probably have not called a new prospect since the Lions won a playoff game!

Enough already! Get out of your own way & start doing what you control? Your prospecting & sales activity.Break out of your comfort zone & start calling people & companies that buy what you sell to see what they are up to.

In the spirit of 2020, here are 5 things to do differently this year:

  1. Make an agreement with yourself call 15 new prospects per week
  2. Agree to ask 15 current clients (or friends) for a referral or introduction each month
  3. Stop “driving by” facilities that buy your products – stop into 15 this quarter
  4. Thank 15 clients for their business before St. Patrick’s Day (lunch is good)
  5. Dig down deep into your gut & find that 5 seconds of guts it takes to do these things

Or not. You can keep bitching about your boss – it’s probably her fault anyway.

 

 

 

Are You the Best?

Dec 24, 2019

A great question to ask yourself: If I am not the best thing my prospects & customers have ever seen, then why do they need me?  Fact is, they don’t.

We’re 8 days away from 202o. You know this: your products & services are better than ever. Technology is faster than ever. Quality is top-notch. Engineers are smarter & more talented than ever. Salespeople have to keep up with the herd. Are you?

Gone are the days when you can blame the customer. Trashing the competition is a thing of the past. Pointing fingers at your own company (production, engineering, etc.) will get you nowhere. It’s time to step up & be the best salesperson you can be. If you don’t, someone will. You know your best customers are your competitors #1 prospects, right? What are you doing about it?

You’ve got to be the best. If not, you will get run over!

Let’s identify a dozen ways we can show our prospects & customers we are the best thing they have ever seen:

  1. STOP waiting for someone else to do your job. Step up & engage.
  2. START being pro-active & bring solutions to your customers. If your customer is always the one identifying the problem, why does she need you?
  3. STOP making excuses for lack of results. Your manager doesn’t care why. Point the finger right between your eyes.
  4. START studying your industry. You should be an expert in your business, not just the person who says he is!
  5. STOP driving by facilities that use your products &/or services. Get out of the car & make things happen.
  6. START answering your phone after 5:30 PM & on the weekends (your competitors do).
  7. STOP sitting in the office & waiting for the phone to ring or an email to arrive.
  8. START getting curious & ask why or why not.
  9. STOP dishing out quotes & proposals to anyone that asks for one. Qualify those opportunities.
  10. START being anal-retentive in your follow-up. If you say it, do it – with cat-like quickness.
  11. STOP hoping that you get the deal. Set clear Ground Rules & manage expectations
  12. START being accountable to yourself & watch how much you grow.

Again, if you are not the best thing your prospects & customers have ever seen, then why do they need you?

They don’t.

The Twelve Days of Selling

Dec 10, 2019

Props, again, to Christy Seitz for this idea – The Twelve Days of Selling. Thank Christy for this one if you like it. If not… it’s all on me.

On the first day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me get to reality.

On the second day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

On the third day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me stop making excuses, you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me you talk too much, stop making excuses, you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

 On the sixth day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me set stronger Ground Rules, you talk too much, stop making excuses, you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me ask tougher questions, set stronger Ground Rules, you talk too much, stop making excuses, you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

On the eight day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me stop talking to Carl the Clerk, ask tougher questions, set stronger Ground Rules, you talk too much, stop making excuses, you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me get comfortable talking about money, stop talking to Carl the Clerk, ask tougher questions, set stronger Ground Rules, you talk too much, stop making excuses, you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me please leave the office, get comfortable talking about money, stop talking to Carl the Clerk, ask tougher questions, set stronger Ground Rules, you talk too much, stop making excuses, you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me ask for the sale, please leave the office, get comfortable talking about money, stop talking to Carl the Clerk, ask tougher questions, set stronger Ground Rules, you talk too much, stop making excuses, you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my sales coach said to me get out of your own way, ask for the sale, please leave the office, get comfortable talking about money, stop talking to Carl the Clerk, ask tougher questions, set stronger Ground Rules, you talk too much, stop making excuses, you can’t hit a goal you never set, you are in the prospecting business & get to reality.

Songwriters: C. Seitz / D. Tear

It’s the Holidays, I’m a Salesperson… Nobody Wants to See Me. 5 Reasons That is Total B.S.!

Nov 26, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

What would the holiday season be without the “It’s the Holidays blog…?

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

How many salespeople do you know that go on cruise control between Thanksgiving & New Year’s Day? How many companies do you know that will actually admit to winding things down right about now?

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 the holidays. Or, “I’m sure they don’t want to see us over the holidays”. Or, “Nobody’s even there, they’re all off, it’s the holidays”. Total B.S. 

Here’s an idea: Get out of the office. Go see some clients, customers & prospects between now & the start of 2020? Make it a point to capitalize on your competition’s 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 the holidays. They make things happen.

The holidays are great times to see prospects & current clients & customers.  Here are 5 reasons to keep prospecting for new business & keep seeing current clients during the holidays:

  1.  It’s your job
  2. Companies review current year incumbent products & services & decide what to do for the next year
  3. Prospects will see you – it’s their job
  4. It’s a great time to plan new programs for 2020 with current clients (your competitors won’t be there)
  5. As my mother always says, a Thank You is never inappropriate – thank your clients for their business

Business does not stop between Thanksgiving & New Year’s Day. Some salespeople do. Don’t be one of ‘em!

Rejection in Sales: Goes with the Territory

Nov 12, 2019

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Did you know that by the time you were 6 years old you heard, saw & lived through 1,000,000 impressions of rejection. 1,000,000 impressions of the word NO. That’s six zeros! You did.

Mom, can we go to McDonalds? NO. Dad, can I stay out past the street-lights tonight? Nope. Mom & dad, can I go to the movies with Michael’s family today. I don’t think so.  Duggan, can I play with your XBox?  No way… it’s mine.

Safe to say that by the time you were 7 you didn’t want to hear that word ever again (like, ever!) It’s natural. It didn’t feel good back then. It doesn’t feel good now. Completely natural.

As a matter of fact, it is so natural that seasoned professional salespeople still do all they can to avoid hearing the word NO. They actually do things that make no sense (in smart selling). They waste time & look busy. All in an effort to dodge that horrible feeling that reminds them of their youth.

What are some of the things that salespeople do to avoid NO (not you, of course):

  • They accept the answer, “We want to think it over.”& really believe it when a prospect says it
  • They are quick to discount a price (let me see what I can do…)
  • They buy into a prospect’s stalls & objections & believe they can handle them (or that they will go away)
  • They re-work deliverables & develop a less-effective solution (another form of let me see what I can do…)
  • They spend tons of time with Carl (the contact that can’t make a YES decision to save his life)
  • They hold out HOPE (again, a brutal strategy for selling)

It gets worse! Not only do they hang in there far too long with a prospect, but they put it on their pipeline.

Imagine a Monday morning sales meeting. Sales Manager says pull out your pipeline. Charlie pulls his out & starts to review his opportunities. The same opportunities he reviews every week. Deals stay on that pipeline for weeks, months, quarters. Why?  Because Charlie can’t stand hearing the word NO. So guess what? Charlie never hears NO. Fearing the word NO creates false pipelines. Period!

Fact is if you don’t want to hear NO & your prospect doesn’t want to tell you NO (because he’ll need you in 6-12 more months to do this silly dance again) you will not hear NO. Your pipeline will be long. You will look busy. You will have a false sense that gives you confidence. YOU WILL STOP PROSPECTING. When you look at a long pipeline you will not prospect (I have a lot in the hopper…). If that hopper is filled with a lot of HOPE, you are cooked!

So, what do you do about it? You get comfortable with the word NO. You realize that NO is an occupational hazard for salespeople. You get to that reality & move on. You qualify strong early on. You set clear expectations & understand what’s happening every step of the way.

Takes a strong person. You up to it?

Can You Have Too Much Charisma?

Oct 29, 2019

Ever miss out on a deal because you had too much charisma? Doubt it.

A better question would be, ever miss 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 can be revealed only during interaction with others.

People follow charismatic people.

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 one 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 if you can’t articulate it well? Pay attention to how you speak – work on it daily. Listen to great speakers, interviews, talk radio, etc. Have you ever heard a person absolutely BOMB a joke because they can’t articulate well?  Enough said.

  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 & 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’re not talking about over-the-top convincing. We’re talking about a gentle nudge.

  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. Not too close – not too far. In our part of the world 18” to 2 feet is ideal. Nobody likes a close-talker!

  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.

  1. Your Vision, Your Ideas

What do you feel passionately about? What do you really care about? What do you love? Love it! It’s OK. You will never help anyone change their minds or ideas & take action if you don’t feel strongly about it yourself.

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

 

In Sales Throw ‘em a Change Up

Oct 15, 2019

MLB playoffs are in full swing, so let’s talk about change-ups.

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

Every salescall you go on can really 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 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 a 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 bothwant 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 questionsto uncover compelling problemsthey have (the real reason you are there in the 1stplace).  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 (compelling problems, budget & 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 compelling problems 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.

People don’t want to be sold, but they do 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.

 

Prospecting? Why we talkin’ ‘bout prospecting?

Oct 1, 2019

Most of you will remember the Alan Iverson rant (May 7, 2002) after the Celtics bounced the 76ers from the 1stround of the playoffs. He said the word “practice” 24 ½ times in a 2 minute span. It made Press Conference History. To a hockey guy that was one of the funniest moments ever in NBA History … I know… sad to say.

The press was questioning his commitment. And Iverson was having nothing of it! “Why we talkin’ ‘bout practice?” was uttered over 15 times alone. Not the way a ball player wants to be remembered but it is clearly the highlight of Alan Iverson’s career! That is BRUTAL! Some players enjoy practice, others dread it. All will agree it is necessary to the success of any team – without question.

Today we will talk about something equally as necessary to a salesperson’s success – prospecting! Yes, we are talking about prospecting. The superstars in sales know one thing for sure – the moment they stop prospecting is the moment they go out of business – period.

Prospecting (like practice) is not fun. It takes time. It has a high failure rate. It can be the most humbling experience a salesperson will ever encounter. Doesn’t matter. You still have to do it. Like practice, you don’t have to like it – but if you want to be successful, you have to do it.

Are we talking bout cold-calling? Not necessarily. We’re talking about reaching out to people that may not want to talk to you about something they may not want to buy. A risky proposition for some salespeople. Some salespeople would rather wait for a HOT internet lead. Wait for the phone to ring. Wait for an email from a prospect in desperate need. Well, let me ask you, how many times has either of those situations happened this year? Exactly. Maybe once. You had your “lay-down” this year. Now it’s time to go out & talk to people that may not want to talk to you about something they may not want to buy.

Let’s review ways to prospect:

  1. Referrals & introductions. When was the last time you asked a good client who they knew that could use what you sell?
  2. Current clients/customers. Bet you are not 100% entrenched in all of your current accounts. Find out who else (in other departments) you should talk to (& get introduced)
  3. Networking events, Organizations, Associations. Where do your prospects hang out? Go there. Most industries have organizations that are target-rich in prospects for you.
  4. LinkedIn. It’s expected. Find prospects. Engage them. Get invited in to have a discussion about their issues. Your competitors are.
  5. Stop in. Said it. Stop driving by facilities that you know by your products & services. Pull in the lot, get out of your car, & do your thing. It’s your job. 
  6. Introduction emails. But, make sure they aren’t the same old boring emails that get deleted as soon as your prospect reads your boring Subject Line. Need templates? Contact me.
  7. Cold Calls. Believe it or not there are salespeople that still open wonderful opportunities by cold-calling over the phone. There are more lists of prospects than you can imagine.

Or you can sit back & blame marketing for the lack of leads. Blame your company for your “crappy territory”. Blame your competition for having better relationships than you. Hell, blame Iverson – he hasn’t been in the news for a while!

Sales is NO PLACE for Shortcuts!

Sep 17, 2019

One of the most common characteristics of successful salespeople = impatience. Show me a patient salesperson & I’ll show you a salesperson with skinny kids! Most want to rush, get as much done as possible & move on to the next deal. Their mantra is more, more, more. Pretty normal.

The great ones are decisive, results-oriented, accountable to themselves, hunt for their next deal & as we have mentioned time & time again comfortable with the word “NO”. All great qualities – including the impatience.

No question about it, all great qualities for successful selling. Yet, nowhere on that list does it say, “Tend to take shortcuts”. Shortcuts kill sales. Shortcuts kill salespeople.

Think of that last two or three deals that slipped through the cracks. Good chance that in each case there was information that was missing. Information that you didn’t get – but your competitor did. Information crucial to qualifying an opportunity that you were too rushed & hurried to gather – but your competitor wasn’t. Good chance you took a shortcut or two.

When our clients do “post-mortems” on lost deals it’s almost 100% of the time that there is a gap in information that is critical to qualifying the opportunity. Sure, the salesperson will say the prospect did not share the information. Upon deeper inspection it’s clear the salesperson did not ask for the information. He took a shortcut.

If there is one thing you glean from this blog, it’s this – NO SHORTCUTS IN SALES. Your production department doesn’t take shortcuts. Your engineers don’t take shortcuts & by all means your accounting department does not take shortcuts. So why do salespeople? That’s the $64,000 question. The $64,000 answer = it’s easy to take shortcuts. Really easy.

That doesn’t mean it’s right.

Do yourselves a favor & be anal-retentive in your pursuit of the information necessary to qualifying the opportunity. 1. The compelling problem – the PAIN. 2. The budget (money conversation) 3. The decision maker & decision making process. Failure to get any of these items is a killer of deals.

Try this:

The compelling problem – the PAIN:

  • Ask what is happening/ what’s the problem?
  • Ask how long it’s been going on?
  • Ask what they have done about it?
  • Ask how much it’s costing them?
  • Ask what happens if they don’t find a solution?

The budget (money conversation)

  • Ask if there is money to pay for the solution (in the budget)?
  • Ask how they planned on paying for a solution?
  • Ask where the money will come from (you are allowed)

 The decision maker & decision making process

  • Ask how they make decisions & who is involved?
  • Ask who is involved in these kinds of decisions & how their process works?

Answers to these questions help to make sales opportunities qualified – help you get to reality quicker. It’s not easy but at the end of the day (or month, or quarter) it definitely pays off a lot more than the shortcuts you were tempted to take. Be disciplined. Be great. Leave the shortcuts to your competitors.

Are You a Cruise Director or a Salesperson?

Sep 3, 2019

Where do “nice guys” usually finish? Yep. Last.

What do “nice salespeople” usually do? They chat. They talk about easy subjects. They smile a lot. They say “yes” a lot.

Think of that overly-nice salesperson. That 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 cruise director. 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 we go out of our way to accommodate, answer questions, help, be nice, etc. we give our prospects power (& make our job harder). We put our customers on a pedestal that they don’t really belong on (& it’s tough to get them off of it). In 2019 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.

Do you find yourself saying YES, a lot? Do you say GREAT or AWESOME a lot more than you do in “real life”? Do you respond with THANK YOU too often? Do you say, “I look forward to speaking with you” at the end of every voice mail message (like every other salesperson)? Do you smile too much & get excited on sales appointments? All signs that you might be pandering to your prospects. You might be too nice.

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. Don’t do it by groveling. 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 (and, yes, sometimes it’s an act) to stay focused & listen. Be on their level. Be there with them.

Don’t pander. Don’t grovel. Leave that to Julie McCoy, the Cruise Director on the Love Boat (old-school TV show for those of you born after 1980).