22 Reasons You Wouldn’t Even Buy from Yourself

Sep 18, 2018

 

Might seem like an odd question to ask yourself: Would you buy from you? 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 let’s 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:

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

Me neither.

STOP Feeling Like a Stalker in Sales!

Sep 4, 2018

 

Here’s the set up: You met with your prospect. Doesn’t matter how many times. You did your needs analysis.

You developed the solution & it’s great. You deliver your quote or proposal. The next day you call to follow up. Voice mail. A few days later you send an email. No reply. In a couple days another call – crickets. Another email in a few days. Now you’re starting to feel like a stalker. All of a sudden, it seems as if your prospect has entered into the witness protection program!

Stinks doesn’t it?

So, what do you do? Truth is there is no magic bullet that will easily cause your prospect to answer your call or reply to your email. She might answer. You might even close this deal. But what happens the next time? What do you do to get out of this rat race – to get off this hamster wheel we call “chase mode”?

How about this – start it off better so you never end up in chase mode.

Most salespeople deliver quotes & proposals & sit back & wait for decisions. Wrong idea. Again, sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t. Too much hope with this strategy. From now on you need to set crystal clear expectations of what happens after you quote or propose.

Sounds like this: (speak to them in person or by phone)

Here is the outline of deliverables we discussed. OR I will be sending the outline of deliverables we discussed by C.O.B. today.  Can you tell me what happens after you get it?

(if they say anything other than “YES” or “It’s yours” or “Lets move forward)

OK, thanks… when is the best day & time for me to call you to follow up on this to determine next steps?

Write down the day & time, put it in your smart-phone calendar & be anal-retentive in your follow up. If it’s important enough, you can even send them a calendar invite for that conversation. Make sure you call them back on that day & time.

Now you have a day & time on your calendar for the follow up call that YOU WILL BE MAKING. Your control. Will they be waiting by the phone for your call? No. It’s not about them waiting. It’s about you having an appointment to call them, under your control – & feeling good about it. This takes away that awkward “I feel like a stalker” feeling & does wonders for your ego.

Will you do it?

Hunting. Prospecting. UGH! Whatever you Want to Call it – Do it!

Aug 21, 2018

 

A mentor once told me, the moment we stop prospecting for business is the moment we are out of business. Hurts. But it is so true. He went on to say that we didn’t have to like it – but we did have to do it. Stinks. But, also so true.

Let’s get the crappy part out of the way right now:

  • Prospecting is not fun
  • Prospecting takes time
  • Prospecting has a high failure rate
  • Prospecting can be the most humbling experience you as a salesperson will ever encounter.

Doesn’t matter. You still have to do it. You don’t have to like it – but if you want to be successful, you have to do it.

Are we talking about 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.

OK, how many times have any of those things happened for you this year? Exactly. Maybe once. Twice, tops? 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. Linked In. It’s expected. Find prospects. Engage them. Get invited in to have a discussion about their issues. Your competitors are. 
  5. Stop in. 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. Targeted emails. To the right audience. With the right message. It can work. And another thing, make sure your Subject Line is compelling (so important).
  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 the economy – remember when that used to work? Not in August of 2018!

4 Signs You’re Taking Short-cuts in Sales

Aug 8, 2018

 

The best thing about a superstar salesperson? Her competitive spirit. She loves to win. But, more importantly, she hates to lose. Can’t stand it!

We love competitiveness. A top 3 quality for sales studs & studettes. Show us somebody that abhors losing a game of cards, a game of racquetball, a game of corn-hole (or a parking spot for that matter) & you can be sure that person will do her damnedest to not lose the deal. We’ll take her on our sales team any day of the week. That’s a winner.

The salespeople that hate to lose will do what it takes to win deals. They fight. They dig. They’re impatient. They have that figure-it-out-factor that we wish we could teach.

But, wait. Impatient? Yes, impatient. A fine quality in rock star salespeople. Unless that impatience causes them to take shortcuts. It happens often. Short-cuts can be the death of a deal & ultimately the death of the salesperson’s career.

If you have been in sales for longer than a month, then you know that time kills deals. It does. Superstar salespeople know this, too. They don’t want anything to get in the way of them & the finish line. Sometime this comes at the expense of dotting all of their i’s & crossing all of their t’s. They rush, take short-cuts & try to out-smart the process. When that happens, the deal can de-rail. You’ve seen it happen – some all-too-often.

You know the feeling when your competitor “steals your deal?” The feeling when the rug is pulled right out from under you? The feeling when you ask yourself WTF? That’s the time to ask yourself the question: Did I take any short-cuts? It takes a strong person to admit it as most would make excuses. Here are 4 signs:

4 Signs You’re Taking Short-cuts in Sales:

  1. You feel the urge to hang up the phone before “they” do (rushing)

How often do you rush on the phone? Sometimes you feel like you are being rushed by your prospect or customer. Other times it’s you doing the rushing. Either way – not good. Your ability to hang in there, ask all the questions & give your prospect the feeling that you “get them” is critical. This is where true solution-providers separate themselves from the pack. Anyone can rush. You need the discipline to hang in there & learn.

  1. You set very weak Ground Rules (expectations)

If you are not crystal clear about what’s happening every step of the way during your sales process, you may be taking short-cuts in the Ground Rules department. You should always know the answer to these questions:

  1. What is my prospect doing next?
  2. What am I (we) doing next?
  3. When is our next meeting or phone call?
  4. What is the purpose of that meeting?
  5. Who will be in attendance at that meeting?
  6. Wh0 is calling who back? (& the answer is you are making the call)
  7.  What happens after we prepare a quote or proposal?
  8. Are they making a decision & when will they be making it?

3. You rush through the Qualifying Questions (if you ask any at all)

  1. Problem/Pain Point: This is by far the biggest short-cut taking area. Many salespeople fail to ask all the necessary questions to uncover the prospect’s real problem or pain. Most stop at the first sign of a problem, brush it with broad strokes & think they have pain. Not pain. Usually, it’s barely a symptom, let alone compelling pain.
  2.  Budget (money conversation): When a prospect says, “we have the money’ or, “don’t worry, money is not an issue” that’s the time to worry. That definitely does not mean they are “qualified” for budget. You need to find out 2 things relative to money. One: Is there money to pay for your product/service? Two: How are you going to get it?
  3. Decision making process: Just because your contact is Carl, & he returns your calls, & says he’s “the man”, does not mean he can say YES to the deal. Often, Carl can only say NO. No short – cuts here. You must ask this question, “How do decisions like this get made here, & who is involved?”

4. You ask for the business before its time

There is nothing worse than working with a desperate salesperson. Desperate salespeople rush to the close. Desperate salespeople ask for the business far too early in the cycle. Desperate salespeople follow up like stalkers. The cause for such desperation? Taking short-cuts earlier in the sale. Think about your business. Is it a “closing” problem you have? Good chance, if you think it through, it’s not a “closing” problem at all. Could be that you have an “opening” problem. You may not have all the information (short-cut). You may not be managing expectations or Ground Rules appropriately (short-cut).      

You have permission to slow down. The deal will still be there. Trust the process. You know what happens when you take short-cuts. No more of those!

10 Things About Sales They Don’t Teach you in School

Jul 24, 2018

You’ve heard of the “school of hard knocks” – The painful education you get from life’s negative experiences, often contrasted with formal education. It’s reality. It’s when your parents 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 4K resolution! Sales is different. It’s an art. It’s about people. People have personalities. Personalities 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 could not be truer. Realize these things 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 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. We 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 greatest profession in the world! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do you Believe the Baloney?

Jul 10, 2018

There are not many things out there that apply 100% to every person you know. Here’s one: Nobody likes to be lied to. Period. Not one single person. It is a disgusting feeling. Do you know anyone that likes to be lied to? Didn’t think so.

We (as people & as salespeople) want to be regarded as good & valued people. We want to be respected. We want people to pay attention to us. We want our needs met. Nowhere in this formula does it say we want to be lied to. As a matter of fact, most of us will argue until we are blue in the face that we are not being lied to. Because after all, who likes to be lied to? Nobody, that’s who.

Herein lies the bane of the salesperson’s existence. Wow, that’s deep. Not really. Salespeople are lied to every day.

They may not be gigantic lies told by prospects & customers. They certainly aren’t illegal actions &/or cover-ups made by them either. As a matter of fact, most of the time they are little white lies. No big deal, right? Wrong. A very big deal.

When a salesperson does not like (or want) to be lied to, he will do everything in his power to shut that feeling down. That disgusting feeling is easy to distinguish – just don’t believe it. Just trust what people say. Here’s where the trouble starts. Some examples of things salespeople believe (because they are trusting):

  • My contact said she wants to “think it over”
  • Prospect said they’d call me back on Thursday
  • My customer says we have a good chance of keeping the business
  • Engineering said they would talk to purchasing
  • Customer said they would use our design
  • Prospect said it was down to us & two others…
  • My contact said she’d invite her boss to our next meeting
  • New prospect said things are “looking good” for us
  • Prospect said the P.O. will be here any day, now
  • Customer says if we drop our price by 5% we’ll get the business
  • Etc., etc., etc.

On the surface these things sound harmless. Too bad most of the sales game is played below the surface. Facts are facts: people want to believe others are truthful.

This is a tough lesson. It’s what this author’s mother thinks has “hardened” him. The lesson: Stop trusting prospects & customers. That’s right, we’ll say it. Stop trusting, in business. We did not say to stop trusting people in general. That makes you a Doubting Thomas that nobody wants to be around. But, you can stop trusting prospects & customers. At the very least, you can verify what they say. There are many times when you can take the responsibility into your control. A few examples from above:

  • My contact said she wants to “think it over”
    • Ask, “When can I call to determine next steps?”
  • Prospect said they’d call me back on Thursday
    • Say, “Let’s make it my responsibility, what time on Thursday?
  • My customer says we have a good chance of keeping the business
    • Ask, “When you say good chance, good chance means…?”
  • Engineering said they would talk to purchasing
    • Ask, “When will you talk to them… I’ll call you to determine next steps.”
  • Customer said they would use our design
    • Say, “Thanks, what do you like most about it?”
  • Prospect said it was down to us & two others…
    • Say, “Great, if it were up to you, who would you choose … & why?”
  • My contact said she’d invite her boss to our next meeting
    • Ask, “What’s the name & can I have a number & email to send the invitation?”
  • New prospect said things are “looking good” for us
    • Ask, “When you say good chance, good chance means…?”
  • Prospect said the P.O. will be here any day, now
    • Say, “Great, thanks. If we don’t hear from you by Thursday, can we call on Friday?”
  • Customer says if we drop our price by 5% we’ll get the business
    • Say, “Ok, but if we are not able to do that is the deal over?

It’s not a big mystery. We believe these things because we want to believe people are being honest. Truth is, in sales, many times they are not. It doesn’t make them bad people. It’s what they do. Remember, if the sales game were played above board, our moms would be the best salespeople in the world.

Don’t stop trusting people. Stop trusting prospects & customers.

Don’t Want to Upset a Prospect? Join the Peace Corps

Jun 26, 2018

 

It’s no mystery that our job in sales is to find problems: Uncover the PAIN. Get to the real issues. Dig deep & get to the root of things. This requires communication (questioning) skills. Questioning skills that allow us to have conversations about business problems. Again, business problems. Most prospects don’t pay money to “fix” something that is working & that is comfortable – that’s not a problem. They pay money to get out of trouble, to make their lives & jobs easier, to solve business problems.

But, business problems can be uncomfortable. That’s the whole point, Salespeople, you must get to “the uncomfortable.” It takes skills.

Most salespeople ask the basic questions – the questions that need to be asked (technically). These questions engage high-level “fluffy” conversations. You know… the easy questions.

The basic questions:

  • What do you need?
  • What will it do?
  • What are the specs?   
  • Who will use it?
  • When do you need it?
  • Where do you need it?
  • & many other “easy” questions

These are the “technical qualifying questions” & yes, they need to be asked. But, don’t confuse them with the soft-skill sales qualifying questions. Soft-skill sales qualifying questions can be difficult to ask. This can be uncomfortable. They can be hard to ask. They could upset a prospect. Again, that’s the whole point. Most prospects don’t take action unless they are upset at something.

In 2018, there is still a ridiculous stereotype of salespeople (the back-slapping, glad-handing, jolly ole salesperson). This salesperson loves people, smiles all the time, makes people laugh – everybody loves her. The problem comes when the salesperson believes this stereotype & behaves that way (back-slapping, glad-handing, jolly ole salesperson – Herb Tarlick comes to mind – WKRP in Cincinnati). It’s pretty hard to ask tough questions with a smile on your face. It’s not natural to uncover serious problems while you are telling jokes. It’s a fact; if you’re making friends in sales you’re not making money. Want friends? Join the Peace Corps.

Now, this is not to say that you won’t develop a relationship with your clients – you probably will. But, what comes first the relationship or the sale? Often, the salesperson tries to make friends in sales & she is successful. That’s the bad news.  It’s easy to make friends. It’s a piece of cake to not “go there – it’s too uncomfortable”. Wrong move.

Start asking tougher questions – not just the technical questions.

Soft-skill Qualifying Questions:

  • How long has this been a problem?
  • How long has this been on your desk?
  • What have you done about it?
  • What else have you looked at?
  • How did that work?
  • How much do you suppose this has cost you over the past ____ months?
  • How much do you imagine this will cost you over the next ____ months?
  • Who else knows about this?
  • What happens if you don’t find a solution?
  • What happens if you don’t find what you’re looking for? 

The world can always use more Peace Corps volunteers. There are plenty of bridges that are still not built. If it’s important for you to stay the nice guy or nice gal, you should seriously consider joining the Peace Corps. If you are being out-sold & can’t figure out why, take a good look in the mirror. Are you a nice guy/gal?  Everybody’s friend?

How many nice salespeople do you know that would be a lot more successful with a hammer in their hand – building bridges?

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”.