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).

The “I’s” DO NOT Have It!

Aug 20, 2019

Do you ever watch an interview on TV & count the times the interviewee says the word “I”? Fun game to play.

Worse, do you ever find yourself in a conversation with someone that can’t resist the word? It’s exhausting.

This image sums it up pretty nicely. In 2015, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup Championship. During the post-game speech, Captain Jonathan Toews said the word “we” 14 times & the word “I” zero times.

A year later, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship. Post-game, LeBron James took the stage & gave a speech. He said “I” a whopping 18 times. We? None.

OK, we’re in the sales profession. A profession that involves working with prospects & customers where it behooves us to make it about them– not us. How many salespeople out there do you think screw this up? Lots. Be ridiculously honest with yourself. It might hurt. Ask yourself: How many times do I say the word “I” on sales calls? How many times do I write the word “I” in my emails? A painful exercise that will pay off for you. You have to remember this: IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU!

So many people want to make it about themselves (you know these people). They talk about what they’ve done, where they’ve been, where they’re going, who they know. You want to know how great they are? Just ask ‘em! Some people trip over themselves to remind you that they are there. Again, exhausting!

So, let’s review ways to make it about THEM. It starts with you being curious. You asking questions. 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?”

Read your emails. Then read them again. If you have the word “I” in the body of your email more than twice it’s probably too much. You can almost always insert “we”, “us” or “our” in its place. Your prospects & customers will appreciate it. Go for it.


For the Money

Aug 6, 2019

One of the most important things we do (as Sales Trainers & Coaches) is to determine what motivates our clients. Sometimes that’s easy to do – other times, not so much.

The question is an easy one to ask: “Why are you in sales?”  The hard part (for some salespeople) are the answers we have 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, might we suggest 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. . . who don’t want to talk to us. . . about something they don’t want to buy. Who would do that? And if you do happen to do that, when you 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 (Wall Mart’s looking for greeters). They say they are really good with people (sounds like customer service at any cable company).

Why so tough on “people persons” you ask?  It has been our observation over the years that these people have a hard time making a living in sales. Why? They tend to do things that “nice people” do. Like what?

  • 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”)
  • Trust prospects that want to “think it over” (chasing them for decisions…)
  • Make friends on sales calls (not sales)
  • Never, ever ask a tough question (not qualifying opportunities strongly enough)

Salespeople that are in it for the money have a different mind-set – & it is professional & appropriate. They see themselves as problem-solvers, that 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.

It’s OK to be MONEY MOTIVATED! Matter of fact, it’s preferred.

If You Don’t Know Your Prospect’s/Customer’s Process, Good Luck!

Jul 23, 2019




How many times in the last 18 to 24 months have you been involved in an opportunity (a pretty good one), just like the last few with that customer. You got the call or the email from the customer about the project (the Binford 5,000 Project). You met with your contact(s), qualified the opportunity as much as possible, met with your internal people, developed a great solution, submitted your quote, re-submitted, followed up, followed up again, one more try. Uh oh, now you’re starting to get nervous. Barb always gets back to me…

After a few more tries you finally get in touch with Barb. But things aren’t the same. She’s normally pretty friendly, engages in small talk, even asks about you & your family. This time we won’t say Barb’s frigid, but she sure isn’t warm & fuzzy. The small talk has hit a wall & it seems as though she wants to get off the phone a lot quicker than normal.

It takes a few minutes, but Barb finally fesses up to you; the Binford 5,000 Project went to your competitor.

You think to yourself, WTF?

Time for a quick post-mortem in your head. You can’t think of one thing you did wrong.

  • You had good meetings with Barb & others.
  • You know the project
  • They know you & your company
  • You certainly have the technology they are looking for & a beautiful solution
  • Your pricing is right
  • WTF?

One question you should be asking yourself & one thing you would know if you spent more time at your customer(s) is: What has changed? On their end. It’s hard to know what has changed at the customer when you’re not there & if you don’t ask.

Don’t take this as a slam to your work ethic. It’s not. Salespeople have a lot to do. We get it. You have to work in your customer visits. You have to work around their schedules. The customer may be out of town. A lot goes into it. Let’s all agree that we should never miss out on an opportunity to be face-to-face with our customers (or as a client of mine likes to say,We need to get belly to belly with them!)

If you are not in front of your clients & customers on a daily, weekly or monthly basis (depending on geography) you are falling way behind. You are exposing yourself. You are missing out on ways to learn about your customer.

But, that’s only part of it. Being there is one thing. You have to be with them, engage them, understand them, ask them questions. It’s not enough to just show your face. You need to show your value. We say this often: You will gain credibility with your prospects & customers through the questions you ask – not by the information you Dump on them.

Let’s look at a list of items that can easily be obtained at the customer (but not so much in your office over email), especially the last bullet-point… that talks about their process:

  • The next project
  • Feedback on the current project
  • New players involved in the project (engineering, quality, facilities, purchasing, etc.)
  • Competitive information
  • Developing relationships
  • Understanding the customer’s process (decision making process, work-flow, tendencies, motivations, etc.)
  • Who is involved in the decision?
  • Who else is involved in the decision?
  • What is each person’s role in the decision?
  • How do they make the decision (the steps involved)?
  • What factors are considered in the decision (tooling, transportation, duty, logistics, acceptable cost models etc.)
  • How often do they meet & discuss?
  • Who else are they considering? What are theirvalue propositions?
  • What personal PAIN are you helping them with?
  • How is their relationship with their supervisor (office politics)?
  • Are we just a data point for them? (keeping the incumbent honest?)

Step one is being there. Step two is engaging, asking & understanding their process. Do ‘em both.

Rest on Your Laurels? Not in 2019

Jul 9, 2019

When things are going well. Your clients & customers are happy, everything is on auto pilot, that’s great. The sale has been made & the orders are coming in. Ahhh, time to relax, right?

If only it were that easy. In the sales world, it’s never that easy – never time to relax. Matter of fact, there are some organizations, some people within these organizations, that believe you are only as good as your last sale. In the words of Janet Jackson (circa 1986) What have you done for me, lately?

That’s the bane of a salesperson’s existence.

It is such a bane, such a pain, such a responsibility that many salespeople let their guard down & tend to “rest on their laurels”. Their mantra is Remember that one summer at band-camp? Referring to a sale that was made long ago, that they are still talking about.

Resting on one’s laurels accomplishes only one thing: MAKING ONE RUSTY.

In 2019, if you want to rest on your laurels you are taking a giant risk. Things you risk by resting on your laurels:

  • Risk that the customer thinks of you & only you
  • Risk that your competitors don’t swoop in & mop up your business
  • Risk that nothing changes on the customer’s end (personnel, technology, systems, processes, etc.)
  • Risk that your best relationships aren’t being compromised by your competitor

Like a lot of things in life, resting on your laurels is easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s the hard things that pay off. Fighting to set that appointment with a tough, intimidating customer. Sticking around a customer after hours to learn the lay of the land. Staying an extra day at the customer (missing your daughters softball game) to meet with a new engineer or buyer on your projects. Pushing back from time-to-time & asking why? Or why not?

These are things Superstar Salespeople do.

Resting on one’s laurels is not an option for the Superstar. It’s not in the Superstar’s nature – not in the make-up. There are always one or two (or 10) other things the star can be doing. Most of these things don’t do a thing for growing business. Not that they’re busy work – they just don’t help grow business. Expense reports, admin work, internal meetings, more admin work, more meetings… Yes, the Superstar has all of these things on her plate, too. She just prioritizes. She spends the most time (during Pay Time) doing things with prospects &/or customers that pay her.

The Superstar will rest, when it’s time to rest. He just knows that he has a job to do. He knows people are watching. No, he doesn’t punch a clock, but that doesn’t mean he can screw off, come in late, take 3-hour lunches, leave early. He’s got a job to do. Sure, he has colleagues in the office that rest on their laurels, that’s the difference between them & the Superstar.

Let the colleague reminisce about that one summer at band camp. The Superstar has Janet Jackson ringing in her ears.

Motivation: Don’t Wait for your Boss to Do It

Jun 25, 2019

Could Zig Ziglar have said it any better? Not a chance. He nailed it with this one. Maybe he could have said “showering” instead of bathing (who takes baths anymore)? Still a great quote.

Daily. Key word there. Motivation is a daily chore. Like house chores. Take a day off from motivation & your house gets dirty. Anyone living in a dirty house right now? Chances are you’re waiting for someone else to motivate you.

Won’t happen. Can’t happen (for long periods of time).

Write this down: Your boss, supervisor, or anyone else  for that matter, can’t motivate you. Your #1 motivator is you. Period. 

Ever raise kids? Attend their sporting events? Why is it that you wanted your son to get that puck out of the corner a hell of a lot more than he wanted to get that puck out of the corner? You have all heard the jackass parent in the stands, screaming her head off at her own kid. That parent is motivated. Her kid? Not so much.

No different than the dad that wants his daughter to block the spike in volleyball. Everyone in the stands knows she jumps like a turtle. But dad, he thinks that’s the moment she’s gonna get hops. He’s motivated. She can’t wait to find out who’s having the sleep-over this weekend.

Sales Directors, VP’s, Sales Managers, you know this more than anyone. It is impossible to motivate your team. Some have it & some don’t. You likely have a few studs (or stud-ettes), a few so-so’s, & a few that won’t be there a year from now. Don’t tell me it’s your product, your pricing, your market, your culture. It’s THEIR MOTIVATION.

You try. You have sales meetings. One-on-ones. Ride-alongs. Spiffs. But, nothing. Just like your kids’ sporting events, there are far too many times when you want success for your salespeople more than they want success for themselves. That is an awkward feeling that you do not get paid enough to have. It’s called motivation. Or the lack of it.

Sales Leaders: What can you do? A few things:

  1. You can start with better people

Start looking for people that have the commitment & desire for success (not just the ones with technical aptitude).

  1. You can screen, assess & evaluate – pre-hire

It works. There are many companies that offer these assessments, including us. Imagine the time, energy & money you will save by doing what we call the “MRI before the operation”. Ask yourself this question: Why does Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts always show up for the interview… but three months later, Rodney Dangerfield or Roseanne Barr shows up for work?Did you assess them?

  1. You can really get to know their “Why”. What motivates them?

Get to know your team. What motivates them? What are their goals (not the ones you gave them)? What do they love? Here’s a promise: They are motivated by one of two things: 1.Moving away from PAIN(bad situation, debt, hardship, etc.) or 2. Moving toward pleasure(money, status, recognition, retirement, vacations, toys). Find out what it is for them.

Salespeople: What can you do? 

  1. Know what motivates you – every single day.

Why do you get up every day & do this? How do you do it? What motivates you, gets you going, keeps you going?

Sure, you have a family to provide for – so does everybody else. What really motivates you (Moving away from PAIN or Moving toward pleasure)?

  1. Do a gut-check on your own commitment

Similar to #1, but different. Commitment = What you will do to be successful. Are you doing what it takes? Starting early. Ending late? Answering phones, emails & texts on evenings & weekends? Asking the tough questions? Stepping up? Doing extra? If you’re not, someone will. Don’t be out-worked. It doesn’t cost money & it doesn’t take any more brain-power than the next person has. Do it.

  1. Tell yourself how good you are (AKA: Self-Talk)

Sounds corny, but if others aren’t telling you how good you are, you’d better tell yourself (just don’t do it out loud).

For example:

  • I’m good, damn good
  • I have forgotten more about ________ than they have ever known
  • I am worth (insert giant number)
  • I love this (job, industry, business, company, etc.)
  • I got this! Piece of cake!
  • Failure is not an option

Repeat: Motivation is a daily chore. You wouldn’t show up to work without showering. Don’t even think about showing up without the self-motivation that it takes be a rock-star in this business. You deserve it.

If They’re Not Talking, They’re Not Buying

Jun 11, 2019

The title says it all!

How many times have you met with your prospect (engineering, quality, purchasing, etc.) spent hours crafting a perfect solution, spent even more hours preparing a detailed quote, met with them again, submitted the quote, followed up, & then… nothing. They go radio silent. You know radio silent: that period during which one hears nothing from a normally communicative person or group.

Radio silence is a killer of salespeople. It’s a spirit-crusher of sales organization. Period.

Sounds like: He won’t get back to me. She won’t reply to my email. He won’t return my voice mail message.”

A Sales Coach is about to ask a stupid question: Why in the world would the prospect be so open, so willing & so engaging, before they get their quote? Why wouldn’t they? Prospects need quotes. Sometimes 3, 4 or 5 of them. They have to be open, willing & engaging during the process or they might end up with nothing. Funny how it turns out though. It’s always every company, but one, that ends up with nothing. Just the way your prospect planned it. Prospects plan their radio silence.

Sad fact is, there are many, many companies that are all too willing to provide the perfect solution & detailed quote. Some even think that’s what they are in business for. Their motto is: “Who needs a quote?” And they quote.

Let’s be clear; the solutions are great. These companies do very good work. They are technical experts, creative masterminds, experienced mavens in their field. And the prospect knows it. The prospect needs that expertise. They are in a competitive business, too. They need to add as much value to their customers & clients as possible. And they do-so at the expense of you.

Do they tell you what they are up to? Hell no. They don’t talk to you, remember. When they needed information from you, they answered their phone & replied to your emails – at all hours. Now, when you need an answer (a decision) it’s as if they were in the witness protection program. Radio silence.

Question: How many times, in this short year of 2019, do you known for certain that you have educated your prospect or customer just enough to buy from your competitor? Your expertly designed solution helped some other company win the business. Do you like this? One thing is guaranteed: they are talking to the company that won.

Then why do you continue to do it?

Let’s start by changing the motto. Instead of, “Who needs a quote?” we should ask, “How qualified is this opportunity & what are our chances of winning it?” “How can we get to reality quickly?” And be honest. Most salespeople think every meeting is great. Every opportunity is “in the bag”. Every quote is a 90% plus confidence level. They put on their “happy ears” & hear what they want.

Then, when you look at their closing ratio, they are running at a 5 or 10% clip rate. Something’s amiss. Most salespeople are overly optimistic. To say they live their sales life wearing rose-colored glasses is an understatement.

What to do?

Let’s get to reality. Start managing expectations.

Get aligned with your prospect. Know exactly what they want to accomplish. Be crystal clear about their objectives & make sure they match up with yours. It’s OK to push-back. It’s very credible & professional to make suggestions. It makes no sense to agree to something you can’t do. That sets the wrong expectation in your prospects mind & will always come back to bite you.

Let’s qualify the opportunity.

Qualified DOES NOT mean they buy what you sell. Qualified DOES NOT mean you are an “approved supplier.”

Qualified means:

  1. They have an issue, challenge, problem (let’s call it PAIN) that they admit to wanting to fix or change & you have discussed it
  2. They have the money to pay for it (& you have determined the amount &/or had the “money conversation”)
  3. You understand who all the decision makers are & know how they go about making these decisions (the process)

Tired of radio silence? Get to reality quickly & start qualifying these opportunities. Let your competition carry on with their, “Who wants a quote?” motto.

Don’t Be “That Guy or Gal”

May 28, 2019

It’s interesting what you talk about when clients call for “Help Desk” Sales Coaching (as we refer to it). Talked to Gary, a client-turned-friend, a few days ago, & he had a zinger. A great idea that could help everyone reading this blog.

Now, don’t stop reading because Gary happens to be in the insurance business – commercial, personal, life, etc. He, himself, will joke about the fact that, in his early days, he cleared many a room by making that declaration. It happens. The thousands & thousands of insurance agents that proceeded Gary screwed it up for him. Not his fault.

You’ve had it happen to you. You’re settling in at a social event, gathering or party & someone (we’ll call him Tom or her, Tina) asks what you do. You know for certain that they don’t give two squats about what you do. That’s just their spring-board to them telling you what they do. “I’m in the insurance business.”Never before has your glass become so empty. “I need to freshen up my drink”, you say, as you escape the impending awkward conversation. Phew, avoided that one!

When there were land lines, it used to be a phone call. You haven’t seen Tom or Tina since high school. But somehow, they get your phone number. You don’t attend class reunions, so it’s been 10, 20 or 30 years since you’ve even seen them. After the obligatory (don’t care two squats about) What have you been doing with your life? Married? Kids? They drop the bomb. You know it’s coming. Nothing you can do about it. No drinks to freshen up. No wiggling out of this one. So, the real reason I called was . . .

“I’m in the insurance business & I wondered if you’d like me to take a look at your policies.” (Thinking . . . What? I haven’t seen you since Reagan was President. And I didn’t like you very much back then . . .).

Awkward. For both people. Tom & Tina were told by someone, “Call everybody you know… & have ever known.” So, they do. Welcome to the life of Tom & Tina.

Enter Gary’s great idea. He knows he has to prospect for appointments. New business is required. He knows prospecting is the toughest part of our jobs (all of us). He’s also smart enough to know what the “typical” salesperson does. . . & Gary runs in the opposite direction.

Check it out: We’ll start a little closer to home. Leave the high school classmates, that you haven’t seen for 25 years, for a rainy day. We’ll start with people you know. Interestingly enough,  the fact that you know them so well is what makes them becoming prospects so awkward – equally as awkward.

In the B to B world, we all know people that work at companies that buy the products or services we sell. In the B to C space, we all know people, consumers, that buy what we offer. Problem is, they are not always buying from us.

Whichever situation you are in, we’d advise you to be very disarming – right from the start. Dis-arming helps you to not be “that guy” or “that gal”.

Sounds like this: “Steve, I know you (or your company) are probably not in the market for (product or service). Or Steve, there’s a good chance that you (or your company) has already purchased (product or service) – you’re probably all set. This helps someone to relax. Now they can think to themselves (& say) – yep, your right we have. We’re all set.

Now, you can tell your story. Sounds like this: “OK, good. The reason I bring it up is because I have been burned a few times. Every-so-often I find that people have previously purchased (product or service) but they didn’t know I was in that business. My fault. I never brought it up. So, I promised myself I’d never let that happen again.” 

You can only imagine what happens with the other category of people & (companies). The ones that have not purchased our product or service – the ones in need. The say, “Oh, I never knew you did that. We should talk. 

Nobody wants to be “that guy” or “that gal”. It just happens. It happens when you don’t have a better way to approach prospects. Try it out.

Will it always work? Not a chance. But, how often does what you’re currently doing work?

Thanks, Gary.

The “Real Lessons” in These Sales Movies

May 14, 2019

A couple of classics, no doubt! Tommy Boy, the all-out goofy comedy, keeps you laughing from start to finish (what movie starring Chris Farley doesn’t?) Glengarry Glen Ross takes you on a different kind of ride. Star-studded for sure, this dark drama draws you in & has you feeling for all of the characters in one way or another.

They’re sales movies. No question about that. Sales movies that are (or at least were) popular for the masses. They hit home on many levels. As salespeople, we don’t get many movies about our profession. So, when they come out, we watch ‘em! We watch for context. We make comparisons. We relate. We don’t relate. It’s fun.

Now, the masses (the non-salespeople of the world) take these 2 movies for what they are – good entertainment. They hear & see the messages & go on their merry way. All good.

The rest of us (sales pros of the world unite) had better read between the lines while watching these two flicks. Can’t take them on the surface – or we’ll starve.

Example #1:

Much of the Tommy Boy narrative spoke of, “Not taking NO for an answer.” Makes sense. Most people think that’s what salespeople do. That’s how salespeople behave. Keep pushing & pushing until they say YES. Convince people with features & benefits & all that other garbage. The stereotypical pushy salesperson. NOT! 

The Real Lesson:

Spend a day or two in the profession & you’ll realize those tactics don’t work. Nobody likes a pushy salesperson. You can’t convince anyone of anything  – people buy for their reasons, not yours.

The real lesson: Be comfortable with the word NO. Be comfortable with a decision – & it might be NO.

Only when Tommy relaxed & was himself did he find success. He loosened up, lighted up & gave it his best shot & people were comfortable with him. It was a great example of how to “behave” in sales (& a ginormous contrast to the rest of the movie).

Example #2:

On that rainy evening, when Alec Baldwin came to the Real Estate office from “Downtown”, he had one message for the agents: Always Be Closing. This is just another brutal stereotype of salespeople. Salespeople are always closing business. Always ask for the order. Never miss out on a chance to ask for the business. We need to close more business!


The Real Lesson:

It might take more than a day or two to learn this one but professional sales (done correctly) is not about closing at all. It’s about opening. It’s about asking the right questions (even the tough ones). It’s about setting  & managing expectations & moving things forward with clarity. It’s about understanding your prospect’s problems & motivations – & that only comes by asking questions & being a very good listener.

Al Pacino, Jack Lemon, Alan Arkin & Ed Harris could never grasp that concept. They were under too much pressure. Sure, corporate put pressure on them, but ultimately, they put pressure on themselves. Pressure to close business.

When you’re under that much pressure you act out of desperation. We all know how that ends up.

So, now what:

Ok, but we live in reality, Tear – these are movies. Yes, they are. So, ask yourself, How comfortable am I with the word no? Do I do anything in my power to avoid hearing no? Do I discount? Do I follow up incessantly? Do I ask management to “help me out”?

How much time do you spend qualifying opportunities? Do you set strong expectations (Ground Rules) & get to reality? Do you “quote & hope?” Do you look at your problem as a “closing problem”?

Watch ‘em again.

Why Do They String Us Along?

Apr 30, 2019

Charlie Sheen made a name for himself a few years ago when he went on TV, radio & social media, whenever he could, shouting the word, WINNING! Everyone remembers it. It got tiring. Almost as tiring as what your prospects & customers do to you. They make you think (& sometimes even say)…WAITING!

This is going to hurt. Someone asked a few days ago, “Why do prospects & customers string us along?” “Why do they keep asking us for more & more information before they make a decision?” ”Why do they make us wait?”

It’s a 3-word answer – because they can. Prospects & customers string salespeople along because they know they hold all the power, it’s been that way for years. Will it ever change? Doubt it. Why would it? It works very well…for them. They get what they want, when they want it. All good…for them.

But, what about us? What about the companies that put countless hours into quotes & proposals? What about engineers that develop beautifully customized solutions that will help the prospect more than they ever dreamed?

What about all of the man-hours that go into developing these solution (sales, engineering, program management, design, etc.)? The economics of selling is maddening. What about all that?

To the prospect or customer “all that” is expected. If you don’t have a beautifully customized solution in 2019 you are not even in the game. If you don’t involve design, engineering & program management in these solutions (these quotes) good luck winning the business. It’s entry level stakes to play.

So, what do we do?

This will hurt even more, and it’s also a 3-word answer. Send better salespeople. Gotta say it.

In our 30-year experience watching salespeople work on deals, more often than not, they are working with some of the information – but not all of it. They understand some of what the customer wants – but not all of it. They know one or two people involved in the deal – but not all of them. They might know some of the competitive landscape – but not all of it. Bottom line is, most of the quotes that go out these days are not “qualified.”

Qualified? What are you talking about? They’re qualified. They buy X… & we sell X. What more do I need? There’s the rub. Just because you sell X & your prospect buys X, does not make them qualified. A lot of companies sell X, why would a prospect buy from you? Because you sold it properly. Why would they pay more for your X than someone else’s? Because they realize the value in your X. That’s professional selling.

It’s in most salespeople’s nature to move fast, take short-cuts & believe everything is “all good”. It rarely is. It requires a discipline to dig deep. It requires a curiosity that causes you to ask questions – questions that no one else is asking (remember, the competitors take short-cuts, too).

A lot of times it takes a salesperson’s ability to be a match-maker. You all know that if “purchasing talked to engineering” life would be easier for you. So why don’t you facilitate that? Yes, there are times when you are told “purchasing & engineering don’t talk – just give us your best price.” And you do. That becomes your system (but it’s really theirs). That’s an easy system to follow. Just don’t go there.

That’s part of the problem. When we have only some of the information, & follow the customers “system” for buying, we end up WAITING!

How’s that working out for you?

Remember: You have rights in sales. Just as many rights as they do.