Monday, December 31, 2007

Quote of the Week

"Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life." -- Henry L. Doherty

The most successful salespeople view sales as a never-ending learning process. If you're committed to making more sales in the New Year why not make a resolution to study your craft for a few minutes every day?

We're here to be your expert resource for sales advice - so take advantage of it! Click through our resources section, ask questions in our blog, contact our sales experts, order our book, read the newsletter and discuss it with your colleagues or manager.

We'll be back on Wednesday, working with you towards sales success. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

A New Kind of Resolution

It's almost time for New Year's Resolutions. Besides the usual resolutions of eating better or exercising, how about making a commitment to helping your customers in any way you can?

I came across this tip from sales expert Dave Kahle, and was immediately impressed by the giving attitude (and how it can help you win more sales!) What a way to start the New Year.

"When a customer goes out of business in your territory, get the home addresses, phone numbers and resumes of your contacts," says Kahle. "When you hear of a position opening up somewhere, let them know about it. Try to help them find jobs in your area. Whether or not they find employment because of you, they will recognize that you tried to help. Keep in contact with them. It is possible that they will surface in a position of responsibility for some other company giving you a great opportunity to leverage your relationship into a new account."

Dave Kahle is president of The DaCo Corporation, a sales training and consulting firm. He is also a high-energy, high-content speaker, with a special gift for engaging his audiences and stimulating people to think. Learn more about Dave by visiting his website at

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fill the pipeline with real prospects - not information seekers

Here's a helpful quick tip from Chris Lytle, CSP:

Here's the scenario: The meeting ends. The person across the desk tells you, "I'm interested. Call me next Thursday and we can discuss this further."

Many salespeople dutifully note on their calendars to follow up next Thursday. However, top producers know that a real prospect will be willing to schedule the next step. An information seeker will gladly let you take the initiative for chasing him down.

Find out early in the relationship whether you're dealing with a real prospect or an information seeker with the following words: "Since you're interested, I want to ask you to work with me on a calendar basis. That way I'm not chasing you and we're not playing phone tag. Let's get this follow-up call on both of our calendars."

The people who are willing to engage with you - to put you on their calendars - have passed the acid test. They're your real prospects.

"Let's work on a calendar basis." Make this your mantra and you're going to close more sales.

Chris Lytle, CSP, time releases immediately applicable sales advice via the MAX-ATM Automatic Training Machine website. Check it out at

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Where is everybody?

It's the day after Christmas and while much of the world is returning unwanted gifts, or sleeping off the eggnog, SalesDog is back on the job.

If you're reading this, I suspect you're working too. Allow me to share a secret I learned from telesales guru Art Sobczak: This week can be the best selling time of your sales year.

Huh? SalesDog, are you barking mad? No one's in. Everyone's gone until after New Year's. What are you talking about?

Think about it: you're not the only one working today. Plenty of your prospects are. Many of their gatekeepers are not there to hold you back. If your prospect is working, he's probably not being distracted by co-workers, his customers, meetings, and reports that are due. He's probably answering his own phone, and has time to talk.

Now is prime time for reaching prospects. They'll be more relaxed and willing to spend a few minutes with you. And, if they're looking for ways to spend money that is still left in their budgets? Well, I think you're getting the picture.

So, stop lamenting, and get dialing. Come back and share some of your successes this week.

Art Sobczak helps sales pros use the phone to prospect, service and sell more effectively, while eliminating morale-killing "rejection." See free articles and back issues of his weekly emailed sales tips at

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays!

The SalesDog blog will be quiet Monday and Tuesday, as we're closed for the Christmas holiday. We'll be back and blogging on Wednesday, December 26. In the meantime, we wish you and yours the very happiest of holidays.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Be memorable, and make more sales

I recently came across an article on that got me thinking. Here's an excerpt:

"Every time John Costigan of John Costigan Companies hands out one of his metal business cards with a custom cutout of his own profile, he's giving away $2. But Costigan, whose Cary, North Carolina sales training firm grows yearly, says it doesn't hold him back one second. He estimates that he's gained over $100,000 in business since debuting the cards in 2003. 'Metal represents what my company is - sharp, different, bold,' says Costigan, 43. He hands out a card to every person who takes his class, reasoning, 'The return on investment is more than worth it.'"

What an interesting idea - a subtle marketing message built into your business card. There are so many ways to make yourself memorable - whether with your business card, a thank you note, or simply the way you treat customers.

What are you doing to be memorable?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SalesDog is in the news

Our new sales advice book, Top Dog Sales Secrets, was just reviewed on This site is a great resource for businesses looking to grow, so we're excited to be recommended by their editors. You can read the review here.

You've got a plan. How do you stick to it?

As the calendar year winds down, thoughts turn to new goals for a new year. Maybe you had a great year and want to go further, or maybe you didn't perform as you hoped and need to make some changes. Whatever your situation, thinking ahead will help you make it happen.

How do you ensure that you stick to your plan and reach your goals? Sales trainer Colleen Francis has some tips to help you focus:
  • Make each goal quantifiable. It's simple to say, "I want to triple my sales this year," but how realistic is a goal like that? To make goals stick, you need a breakdown of exactly how you plan to succeed. How many more cold calls would it require? How many presentations?
  • Execute on a daily basis. Once your goals are quantified, make a daily chart that includes the number of cold calls made, presentations scheduled, sales closed, etc. It's the only way to chart your progress and adjust on a week-to-week basis.
  • Create a "To-Do List." Successful salespeople know goals are more than words on paper. Each week, make a list of the top five things you need to adjust in order to achieve them. The following week, replace the ones you've accomplished and continue to work on the others.
  • Create constant rewards along the way. You are the ultimate manager of you! Lasting success comes when your motivation comes from within - not an outside source. To help along the way, provide yourself an incentive at key milestones. Try setting up small bonuses for meeting benchmarks along the way. Treat yourself to a purchase, a trip, a day off, or coffee with a friend. One way to achieve long-term goals is by focusing on short-term ones. I believe that what gets rewarded gets repeated.
Check out more of Colleen's advice at You can also reach her by calling 877-364-2438 or emailing her at

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Slamming the iPhone

You'd be hard-pressed to find a business person - heck, even a 12-year-old, who hasn't thought about getting an iPhone. All those features in one tiny device? I'm sold! Sales trainer and consultant Robert Graham was too - until Verizon stopped him from switching carriers with an "iPhone slam." Read on for Graham's story - and his advice on how you can apply Verizon's strategies to keep your customers.

So taken was I with Apple's new iPhone, that I called Verizon to cancel my service. I told Travis, the Customer Support Agent that I had to quit in order to buy the cherished device. Travis said fine, and described the cancellation process. Then, just before we ended the call, he pulled The iPhone Slam. He said, "Before you make the switch, I just want to make sure you know some of the problems with the iPhone."

For example, the iPhone
  • Can't send pictures (not true)
  • Can't text (also not true)
  • At&T's wireless network is slow (definitely true)
  • Has a weak battery that the user can't swap out which, when it dies, will be a serious headache (definitely an issue)
He then said, "In fact, if you would like, I could send you a comparison sheet detailing all these points." And while we were speaking, I got a PDF that highlighted many of the problems people have with "the Apple device from AT&T," as they call it.

My chat with AppleNow I had some doubts about making the switch, so I called Apple. When I told the customer service agent about my Verizon call, he laughed and said that all the other carriers have iPhone slam campaigns. He debunked some of the points above, played down some of the others and admitted to a few faults.

In the end, I decided to wait until iPhone 2.0 is released so they can iron out some of the kinks. I couldn't help but smile when I realized that the reason I didn't buy an iPhone that day was because the Verizon support specialist had been trained on how to slam the iPhone. Had he simply told me how to cancel my service, I would have done it.

Lessons learnedThe lesson I took from this was not, of course, to slam my competition. In fact, I always give credit where it is due and go out of my way to build alliances with my competition.

There were, however, a handful of great sales lessons to learn here:

  1. Be prepared with answers to common questions, misconceptions and objections
  2. Know your information so that you can be helpful, effective and don't tell lies
  3. Have your resources ready so you can fire something off during your call or immediately after
  4. Always tend to your client's best interests
  5. Be professional, courteous and ethical
And, most importantly of all,

6. If you're going to go down, go down swinging.

Robert Graham is the Principal of GrahamComm, LLC, a consulting and training company that helps clients deliver outstanding presentations and dramatically increase their sales. Sign up for his monthly Ezine, Speaking and Selling Success, at

Monday, December 17, 2007

Quote of the Week

"As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, think big." -- Donald Trump

Great advice. It doesn't take any more effort to think big, and your opportunities will expand as you expand your thinking.

Keep this advice in mind this week. It will inspire you to call big, ask big, and sell big. Go for it!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Help for Last-Minute Business Gift-Givers

If you're scrambling to get a gift into your customer's hands before they take off for the holidays, relax. "Think New Year's" suggests Managing Editor Tina LoSasso in the new sales advice book, Top Dog Sales Secrets.

Get the cards in the mail. Then send an appropriate New Year's gift. Think pens, desk clocks, or paperweights, packaged with noisemakers and streamers. Timing your gift to arrive right before New Year's is a great way to stand apart from everyone else.

When is a gift not a gift? When it comes with your company's logo on it. Save the logo-embossed pens, paperweights, mouse pads and calculators for trade shows. And gift certificates from your own company are not really gifts. They're promotions that make you look stingier than Scrooge. Instead, send a gift certificate from a national department store or ecommerce site. Many sites offer corporate gift certificate programs.

Remember, everyone gets a card. All clients, large and small, should receive a holiday card. Avoid religious themes. Stick to "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" and again, no advertising. Resist the urge to add your company logo or business tagline on a greeting card.

Tina LoSasso is Managing Editor of and a contributor to the new sales advice book, Top Dog Sales Secrets.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lady SalesDog in the News

Don't take our word for it! Multiple news outlets have been contacting Lady SalesDog recently to get her advice on business gift-giving. She was recently featured in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
For more gift-giving tips, find Lady SalesDog's complete advice here.
Happy Holidays!

Setting Goals for 2008

Successful salespeople know that setting goals is one of the best ways to stay on track throughout the year, and now is the perfect time to get started. Have you created your plan for the year? How many more clients do you want to sign on? How much money do you want to make?

"If you haven't started thinking about your sales goals, you're likely to be in the same place this time next year," says sales breakthrough expert Rochelle Togo-Figa. "The definition of a goal is 'a dream with a plan and a deadline.'"

"The most common reasons people don't reach their goals are they fail to write them down, fail to make a plan, and fail to take action. Without knowing where you want to go and how you're going to get there, you'll never reach your goal destination."

Here are Togo-Figa's nine steps to help you achieve your goals:

  • Create your S.M.A.R.T. goals for the year. Make sure your goals are vivid and specific, measurable in quantity, achievable, realistic but also a stretch, and you have a timeline of when you'll reach your goal.
  • Write down all barriers you can think of that might get in the way of you achieving your goals. Writing down all these thoughts on paper helps to diminish them.
  • Select the top 3 goals you want to reach in the next 3 months from your list, and commit yourself to taking an action step every day to achieving these goals.
  • Write specific action steps for each goal. An action step doesn't have to take very long to do. It could be spending 10-15 minutes daily working towards that goal. If your goal is to sign on four new clients in the next three months, an action step could be making ten new prospect calls each day before 9am.
  • Make a list of people who can support you in reaching your goals. They may also have goals that you can support them in reaching. People like to help, so ask them.
  • Put your goals in a visible place so you can see them daily. Post them on your desk, in your car, on your bathroom mirror.
  • Every day read your goals aloud. Speak your goals in the present tense, as if you're already there. The more you say your goals aloud and to yourself, the more real they become.
  • Visualize yourself having reached your goals. See yourself succeeding. How excited you'll be when you bring in those new clients and get that bonus commission check!
  • Promise yourself that you will achieve your goals. If you want this to be the year of sales breakthroughs, then it's up to you to commit yourself emotionally, mentally and physically. Otherwise, it's likely not to happen.
Put these goals into practice while setting your goals, and you'll see success throughout the year.

Rochelle Togo-Figa, The Sales Breakthrough Expert, is the creator of the Sales Breakthrough System. Visit her website at

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

'Tis the Season (for Not Getting Any Work Done)

Here's some timely advice to keep you focused, courtesy of The Queen of Cold Calling, Wendy Weiss:
--No one's doing any work. It's the holidays.
--Nothing gets done till January. It's the holidays.
--No one sets appointments till the New Year. It's the holidays.
--Too much to finish up to take the time to prospect. It's the holidays.
--Prospects are taking time off. It's the holidays.
--I'm taking time off. It's the holidays.
--My assistant is taking time off. It's the holidays.
--Their assistant is taking time off. It's the holidays.
--No one wants to be bothered. It's the holidays.
--No one is thinking about work. It's the holidays.
--Prospects leave the office early. It's the holidays.
--Prospects go to the office late. It's the holidays.
--Everyone is having office parties. It's the holidays.
--No one's thinking about business. It's the holidays.
Sound familiar? For many, this is the season of not getting any work done. Don't let it be that way for you!
Print this list out. Send it to your competition. Then, get on the telephone.
Prospects do conduct business, even during the holidays. Years ago it was possible for a prospect to say, "I don't have my calendar for next year, call me after the first of the year." Today prospects have their calendars on their computers and/or PDA's and can schedule appointments for next year or even several years out if they are so inclined.
Prospects make appointments before, during and after the holidays, just as they do at other times throughout the year. If a prospect asks you to call back after the holidays, suggest that you "pencil in a meeting for after the holidays." Promise that you will call to confirm it. Do so.
Wendy Weiss is known as The Queen of Cold Calling. If you need help getting prospects on the phone, or booking appointments, visit In celebration of the season, Wendy's having a holiday sale on her training products! Check it out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Need a Quick Gift for your Sales Team?

Books make great gifts because of their high perceived value. Here's one that will help your sales team close more, and earn more: Top Dog Sales Secrets. Jeffrey Gitomer says, "One of these top dog secrets can earn you a fortune."

"It's like reading the best ideas from 50 sales books all in one book," says Michelle Nichols, Savvy Selling International.

Top Dog Sales Secrets belongs on the desk of every member of your sales team. You can still get copies in time for the holidays. When you order in bulk you receive a discount and free shipping. Click here for details.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Quote of the Week

"Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the sales man - not the attitude of the prospect." - W. Clement Stone

You're tired. You're having a bad day. Or worse, you don't believe you can succeed. Is it any wonder none of your sales calls are going well? Prospects can sense a poor attitude from miles away - and won't be interested in talking with you.

Make a commitment to yourself that you'll convey a positive outlook this week. You'll feel better and notice a difference in your sales.

I find that when I'm tired or cranky (which almost never happens!) taking a moment to think about fun weekend plans, or an upcoming trip, often puts a smile on my face and makes my calls much more positive. What triggers do you use to transform a bleak outlook into a positive attitude? -- Kelly

Friday, December 7, 2007

Capture your prospect's attention with a business letter

While working on my Christmas cards, I got to thinking about sending mail to clients. It's a form of contact that is under-appreciated in selling today, and is a great addition to your rotation of meetings, calls, and e-mails. Sales expert Steve Martinez has some great advice on how to make sure your prospects are intrigued by your sales letters.

"Salespeople often overlook the advantages of using business letters for sales growth," says Martinez. "The facts suggest that fewer salespeople are using the business letter to develop relationships. Mailing and postcards are very popular but these are not as effective as a true business letter. This is a missed opportunity; we can capture more business when we send a traditional business letter."

The Old Fashioned Business Letter"Businesses are looking for ways to improve their marketing objectives and this requires a more personalized, targeted approach. The old fashioned business letter cuts through the clutter of other mailings. If you want to be read, use a personalized business letter approach. You can automate this process with your business printer so your mailings appear personal, which will increase the letters' effectiveness."

There are a few things that make business letters stand out from a stack of mail:
  • When you make your letter bumpy, it will often get to the top of the mail and create a curiosity factor to your advantage. I have used rubber bands, cotton balls and other squishy things to make my mail bumpy from the inside. Just be sure to use a first class stamp and it will get through.
  • Always using postage stamps instead of metered mail makes your envelope stand out. If your mail is metered, it looks like a business letter.
  • You increase readership when you hand address each envelope.
  • Don't identify your envelope with a business logo, because it reduces the ratio of openings, if the customer assumes your message is a business letter.
Steve Martinez is a leading authority on automating and systemizing the selling process. His company, Selling Magic, LLC teaches businesses how to simplify, balance and automate the complex selling process. Learn more at

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Teaming Up to Increase Prospects

On Tuesday we talked about networking at holiday parties. Today author and sales trainer Tammy Stanley shares an eye-opening idea that will have you looking at everyone you meet in a brand new way:

One day I received a mailing from BMW telling me that I would receive a free box of Godiva Chocolates, if I came in and test drove a new BMW. I thought this was brilliant marketing. After all, people willing to spend $30 a pound for chocolate are probably the kind of people who enjoy the finer things in life.

Obviously BMW got together with Godiva and said, "If you send out a mailing to your list with this promotion, we'll pay for each box of chocolates that is redeemed through the promotion."

Who could you team up with? As you enter this holiday season of parties, keep asking yourself that questions. As you talk to people at the different holiday mixers, keep your eye out for a business that you could partner with. Sometimes the perfect blend may at first seem unlikely - just like a car company and a chocolate company joining forces.

If you team up with others, you'll find that together you can come up with all kinds of creative ideas. Stay in touch and constantly seek to improve, and definitely consider the obstacles you might encounter and how to prepare for them ahead of time!

Tammy Stanley publishes the propelling 'Sales Refinery Insights' weekly ezine for independent sales professionals. Get your FREE tips now at

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dictate your sales conversation

Questions are critical keys to unlocking the information you need to gather in the sales process. Sales trainer and speaker John Costigan has a helpful acronym to prompt you in asking key questions that will dictate your sales conversation.

D.I.C.T.A.T.E. stands for:

D (Details) "Interesting, can you tell me more about that?"

I (Interval) "How long has this problem been going on for you?"

C (Cost) "How much has this cost you? I mean personally?"

T (Try & Fix) "What steps have you taken to try and fix this problem?"

A (in-Action) "Do you mind if I ask you what happens if you don't fix this?"

T (Talk less) Follow the 80/20 Rule.

E (Emotions) "What kind of aggravation has this caused you and your people?"

Remember this handy tip when talking with clients, and you'll find you're better equipped to help your customers, and make more sales!

John Costigan is a sales trainer and speaker. He combines reality, education, humor, and energy to create a unique training environment that allows people to see immediate results. Learn more by visiting John's website at

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Making Holiday Parties Work for You

This week ushers in the holiday party season. From company parties to industry parties, even personal parties, you'll probably be spending more time than you care to, well, partying. Sales trainer Mark Hunter has some networking tips to help you put that time to good use.

--When you arrive, avoid gravitating to people you know. You should initially thank the host and then immediately find someone new to introduce yourself to.

--Keep your business cards in the breast pocket of your coat, a shirt pocket, or in an outside pocket of your purse so they are easy to access and in good condition.

--When giving a person your card, personalize it by hand-writing your cell number on it. This will cause the recipient to feel that they are receiving something special.

--After you meet someone for the first time, use the back of their business card to jot a note about something you learned from the conversation and the date and place you met them. Recording the information will give you something to talk to them about the next time you see them.

--Always keep one hand free to allow yourself to shake hands with people - meaning you shouldn't eat and drink at the same time.

--Initiate conversation with someone who is standing by themselves. They'll be happy to have someone to talk to them and, as a result, will many times open up with valuable information.

And finally, "When you meet someone for the first time, you have 48 hours to follow up with them before they will completely forget about meeting you," says Hunter. Keep these expert tips in mind as you mingle your way through this holiday party season - and you'll reap the rewards!

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, provides sales training based on Consultative Selling techniques. Check out his skills resources at

Monday, December 3, 2007

Quote of the Week

"Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, 'Make me feel important.' Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life." - Mary Kay Ash

Put this thought into practice this week and take notice of the happy faces around you - you'll make more sales, more customers, and more friends.

Friday, November 30, 2007

SalesDog Quick Tip

Nothing burns a customer more quickly than a broken promise. Don't make promises you can't keep 100% of the time.

Here's an easy way to remember this: Be slow to commit and quick to deliver.
Today's quick tip comes from sales expert Jim Meisenheimer.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Is your sales manager a dodo?

If you feel you aren't getting the support, training or advice you need from your manager, check out Lee B. Salz's new book, Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager. After all, you are responsible for your own sales success.

Salz shows you how to first determine whether your current company is a good fit for your sales skills, then he helps you create your own "Sales Architecture" or sales system. His mentoring style guides you through a planning process for developing your territory, navigating your way through accounts, presenting, and dealing with the unexpected. With his advice, you're sure to adapt and thrive.

Learn more about Lee B. Salz and Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager at

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The 5 Secrets of Winning Emails

How would you like to harness the power of email to connect with customers? Here are five secrets of winning emails from Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, to set your email apart from everyone else's.

Use the prospect's first name in the subject line. Putting your prospect's first name in the subject line will automatically distinguish your email from the hundreds of others your prospect gets. In addition, we're all partial to our own name, and this will draw your prospect's eyes like a magnet.

Customize the first few lines of your email as much as possible. Many people preview emails by reading the first paragraph in Outlook. So the beginning better be short and have immediate value to your prospect. Example:

"Hi Barbara, Mike Brooks here with MHS Software. I've got some ideas about your networking issues for your new office that's opening in Houston next month. We've helped a lot of companies in this area, and I think you'll find it useful if we talk."

Keep your email short and easy to read! Nothing will turn your prospect off more than long, information packed paragraphs. Break up your sentences into different paragraphs if possible, to make them easy to read and accessible - no more than three sentences per paragraph.

Ask for a return response - whether they're interested or not. This is a great way to end your email and a good way to get a response. Simply thank them in advance for their consideration and say you're looking forward to their response.

Promise to follow up by phone if they don't respond. Let them know that you understand they are busy, and that out of consideration, if you don't hear from them you'll follow up with a call in a day or two. This really increases your response rate - and be happy if you get a "not interested" response. These prospects just disqualified themselves and saved you a lot of time and energy.

Try out these email secrets from Mr. Inside Sales, Mike Brooks, and watch your response rate go up! If you've got an email secret to add to the list, let us know!

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, specializes in helping sales reps avoid rejection and make more money. Check out his free ezine at

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sales Lessons from Dancing with the Stars

Jill Konrath of Selling to Big Companies proves that sales lessons can be found everywhere - even in the popular reality show Dancing with the Stars.

What can you learn from a Spice Girl, a NASCAR driver and Marie Osmond? Find out at Have some fun learning and here's hoping your favorite contestant wins!

Build your story, build customer relationships

You want to build relationships your competitors can't steal. If you're in business to business sales, you know that organizations don't buy from other organizations; people in organizations buy from people in other organizations.

"In order to build relationships, you need to let the other person know something about you," says sales expert Chris Lytle. "Self-disclosure is the act of revealing yourself to the other person. And while you don't want to reveal everything, you do want your prospect to understand something about your expertise, background, and motivation."

"Start with why you are doing this besides the money," suggests Lytle. "Another thing to disclose is why you chose this particular industry. Was it because of, or in spite of, your college degree? Have you had a lifelong interest in this or did you recently discover it? What customers have you helped? What problems have you solved? Of all the companies you could have chosen to work for, why did you choose this particular company? What is it about the company or the product that keeps you excited?"

That's probably more than enough to get you started on your story. The challenge, says Lytle, is keeping it brief and compelling. But the reward is great. "When the people on the other side of the desk understand more about your experience and your motivation for doing the job, they feel more comfortable discussing their real concerns," says Lytle. "After all, there's a real person across the desk from them. Not just another salesperson."

Tell us your story. How are you using it to build relationships with customers?

Chris Lytle, CSP, time releases immediately applicable sales advice via the MAX-ATM Automatic Training Machine website. Check it out at

Monday, November 26, 2007

Five Business Gift Giving Mistakes to Avoid this Holiday Season

Anyone braving the shopping malls during the holiday season knows that finding the perfect gift for family or friends is not easy. Business gift giving can be even more challenging. "Choosing the right business gift actually requires more time and thoughtfulness," says Tina LoSasso, Managing Editor of, in one of 80 sales lessons in the new business book, Top Dog Sales Secrets. LoSasso identifies five common business gift-giving gaffes:

Quality trumps quantity. "A small box of exquisite, handmade truffles will be appreciated far more than a big box of run-of-the-mill chocolates," LoSasso advises. "If the head honcho at your biggest account is a wine connoisseur, remember, it's far better to send one bottle of the very best than several ordinary bottles he'll never uncork."

Reject run-of-the-mill. Shun the ho hum food baskets and opt for a more memorable gift. "Check your client notes," suggests LoSasso. "What are his hobbies? Does he golf, cook or play sports? If your client, the gourmet cook, is still raving about the meals he enjoyed during his vacation in Tuscany, send him a beautifully illustrated regional cookbook. Your gift, and you, will be remembered far longer than a generic tin of cookies."

Don't even think of advertising. "Sending gifts with your company's logo on them makes you look stingier than Scrooge," says LoSasso. "Save the logo-imprinted pens, paperweights, mouse pads and calculators for your next trade show. Instead, send a gift from your region of the country: Ghirardelli chocolate from San Francisco, smoked salmon from the Northwest, citrus from Florida or California or barbecue sauce from Texas."

Beware of booze. "Alcoholic beverages are usually risky business," warns LoSasso. "The one exception is when you know someone loves a certain brand of rare Scotch, a particular wine, or a regional microbrew. Never send a bottle of champagne to that key account in Salt Lake City, or for that matter, frozen steaks to your customer who is a vegetarian. Don't laugh - it happens."

The gender trap. Gender differences present their own gift-giving dangers. While it is generally acceptable for a saleswoman to send her stressed-out women clients personal items, like lotions or a spa kit, salesmen should not be so familiar. "Sorry guys," says LoSasso. "You're not in the club."

LoSasso's advice is excerpted from the bestselling book, Top Dog Sales Secrets, authored by 50 renowned sales lecturers, consultants, and corporate trainers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Create Customer Gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A day for reflecting on what we're most grateful for. We've talked this week about expressing our thanks to customers. But, what about customer gratitude? What can you do to make your customers thankful for you?

Here's a story from George Ludwig, author of Power Selling: Seven Strategies for Cracking the Sales Code that illustrates the type of sales behavior that produces grateful customers.

One cold Friday night in January 1991, the phone rang. "Is this Tom O.?" the caller asked.

"Yes , it is," Tom replied. "Who's this?"

"I'm Dr. Gary B. from XYZ Children's Hospital. I'm the new ortho surgeon here, and we have an emergency spinal case tomorrow. My technician and I don't know how to run the Cell Saver, and neither does anybody else available to us. We have a six-year old boy who really needs surgery now - he can't wait till Monday. Can you help me run the device and train us, too? I used another brand back in Boston, and I can't reach that sales rep."

"I'll do it. What time do you need me?" Tom answered.

Dr. B. said, "Be here at 6:30am to scrub in."

The next morning, Tom ran the Cell Saver, which collects blood shed during surgery, separates the oxygen-carrying red cells, and returns them to the patient during the procedure. All went well in this four-hour operation. Dr. B. and his nursing team thanked Tom profusely for coming on a Saturday, with such short notice, and going the extra mile for their patient.

About a year later, Tom received a phone call from the ABC Teaching Hospital in Minneapolis. The company he sold for had been completely locked out from getting any of the Cell Saver business at this hospital, but the purchasing agent on the phone wanted to fax a purchase order for seven Cell Savers, worth more than $100,000 in business. Tom was stunned and elated! He was also confused, because he hadn't even visited the hospital in six months. The purchasing agent told him that their new chief of surgery, Dr. Gary B., refused to use any other type of equipment. Their order needed to be completed ASAP, and Tom ended up with a killer commission check.

Now that's a grateful customer. What can you do to prove your worth to your customers - when they need it most? Give it some thought - and enjoy your turkey!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Power of a Hand-Written Note

Yesterday we started the week with a reminder to extend this season of thanks with gratitude to those who play a part in your sales success. Your customers certainly play a big part in your sales success - why they define it. Sending a hand-written note of thanks is an ideal way to express your gratitude.

"The true power of the handwritten note is that it is personal," says sales trainer Tom Richard. "Think of the people who send you handwritten notes. Mostly family and friends, right? Receiving a handwritten note from you is as comforting and pleasant for your customer as hearing from an old friend. It does more than just say 'thank you' for the meeting, lunch, phone call or referral. It sends an important message about you, and how you like to conduct business."

"If you think sending handwritten cards is a lot of work, you're right. That's why your competitors aren't doing it. In today's selling world, success depends on separating yourself from the competition every chance you get."

Just think: a few minutes and a stamp can help you grab your prospect's attention, maintain strong customer relationships, and make someone feel special. Why are you waiting?

This advice was excerpted from Top Dog Sales Secrets. Tom Richard is an author and sales trainer. Learn more about him at

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quote of the Week

"No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude." -- Alfred North Whitehead

Wise words to contemplate this week as we pause to give thanksgiving. Give some thanks for the people who are helping you achieve sales success.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No trust

This week we're looking at the five obstacles to any sale as outlined by legendary sales trainer Zig Ziglar: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust. Today's obstacle: "no trust."

To overcome a lack of trust, you must first realize that most prospects don't know you and may never have even heard of your company.

Here's a tip from Michael Dalton Johnson, Editor of Top Dog Sales Secrets that should help:

"All things being equal, who do you think your prospect is going to buy from: the company he has known for years, or you, the new kid on the block?" asks Johnson. "Allay his fears by providing him with current customer lists (including contact names and numbers for some of your accounts), testimonial letters on your customers' letterhead, documented case histories, and press coverage. A referral from someone he knows and respects will swing doors wide open."

There you have it: expert strategies and tactics to overcome the five basic obstacles to any sale. Now put this knowledge to use and make more sales!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The thrill is gone

Zig Ziglar says there are five obstacles to any sale. Today we investigate the fourth obstacle -- no desire.

You probably recognize "no desire" in the form of brush-offs, "we're happy with our current supplier," prospects gone AWOL, and price objections. Why? When prospects don't see the value of your product or service, they have no desire to do business with you - or buy your product at any price.

Julie Thomas, CEO of ValueVision Associates says that your challenge as a salesperson is to help prospects recognize the value of your product, so that your sales campaign ends up on their short list of must-have purchases. Only after you have identified the critical business issue, its underlying problems, and the value of solving these problems, are you in a position to help the prospect move your solution to the top of the list of must-have purchases.

Every problem and business issue has a cost or impact. The challenge is to help the customer see the value from his perspective, not yours. This means asking questions such as:

--How much time do you spend chasing inventory information?
--How much delay does that cause, and how does that translate to revenue production?
--How does this affect you? Are you impacted by this personally?

Once you've established value, you'll discover that "no desire" is no longer an obstacle.

This advice was excerpted from Top Dog Sales Secrets. Julie Thomas is president and CEO of ValueVision Associates.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Creating a sense of urgency

Zig Ziglar said, "Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust."

Today we're looking at the "no hurry" obstacle. You know the problem. Your prospect has an acknowledged need. You have the solution. They have the budget. But, they're just not moving forward.

In this situation, "Clients often need a little prodding to overcome their lack of urgency," says speaker and consultant Mike Schultz who advises that you:

Ask yourself, "What won't happen?" By the end of the sales process, you should have a very clear idea how your services will provide value to the prospect if he buys. Your next step is to get the client to understand the implications of not choosing to engage your services. Start by building a case (to yourself) for the negative implications if the client chooses not to solve the problem or address the issue using your services.

Ask the client, "What won't happen?" At the appropriate time in the sales process, ask the client, "To help me understand your situation so I can craft the best solution for you, can you give me a sense of what will happen if you choose not to move forward in this process and engage our services?" Like a good trial lawyer, you already know from your earlier analysis what those implications will be. However, the point is to get the client to state those implications out loud, in his own words.

Quantify the results. Just as you quantify the benefits and value of moving forward, quantify the implications for the customer of not moving forward. Make sure your case is clear before going on to the next step.

Demonstrate the results. When demonstrating your value in the presentation or proposal, also demonstrate the value of the "What won't happen?" analysis. For example, suppose you demonstrate that revenue will go up by 3% and customer retention 20% if they purchase your service. Now show them the flip side. Demonstrate that if they choose not to go forward, revenue will stagnate or drop and customer retention will drop by at least 5%.

"By employing a 'What won't happen?' analysis in your sales process, you will find a consistent increase in the sense of urgency of your clients, resulting in measurably increased closing rates," says Schultz.

Give his advice a try and let us know how this strategy works for you!

This advice was excerpted from Top Dog Sales Secrets. Mike Schultz is principal of Wellesley Hills Group.

Come back tomorrow to find out how to deal with the "no desire" obstacle.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

No Money? No Problem.

Today we tackle the second obstacle to sales: "no money."

Sometimes the no-money objection is only an excuse, suggests sales training firm The Brooks Group. But when funding to buy your product or service is your prospect's genuine concern, try these suggestions:

Deal only with prospects at the senior level who can revise the budget, develop strategies and make emergency purchases for products or services that fall into unforeseen areas.

Before visiting a prospect, discover what items are - and are not - usually included in the company's budget. Is your type of product or service usually budgeted for? Know the potential customer's budget cycle, planning times, policy for disposing of excess funds and who controls what parts of the budget process.

Finally, to gather more information to help the prospect solve the no-money problem, The Brooks Group suggests that you continue the discussion by asking the following questions:

  • How have you funded this type of project before?
  • We encounter this quite often. Let me suggest how other organizations have found ways to handle it.
  • How much money have you set aside that may not be used? Are there ways we could access those funds to start this project?
Try these tips the next time the "no money" obstacle arises. You'll soon be saying, "No problem!"

The Brooks Group is a world-renowned sales training firm specializing in business-to-business selling. Visit their website at
Tomorrow's obstacle: "no hurry."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sales Obstacles

"Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust." --Zig Ziglar

Wise words from a sales training legend. This week we'll look at how to overcome each of these selling obstacles.

Today's obstacle: "no need"
"For many sales reps, getting prospects to open up and reveal their real issues, challenges and concerns early on is the most difficult part of the sales process," says telesales trainer Jim Domanski. "Without this critical information, the rep has no clear direction in which to take the sales call. As a result, demonstrating clear and compelling value to the prospect becomes almost impossible."

"When you probe for needs most prospects are reluctant to divulge areas of pain. This is understandable. Because you're a stranger, they feel a natural hesitancy to open up the floodgates and spill all their issues. On another level, some prospects don't want to admit to anyone that they have a pressing problem."

Domanski advises reps to use a scenario selling technique which makes it easier for reps to ask the tough questions, and prospects to respond. "Scenario selling is formulaic, and divided into two parts," explains Jim. "The rep creates a scenario as a pretext for asking a sensitive question. Next, the rep uses an open-ended trigger phrase such as, 'What has been your experience?' that invites the prospect to elaborate."

Here are two examples:

"Ms. Bixby, much of our client research shows that cash flow is sometimes an issue, particularly with the fluctuating price of oil. Let me ask you - what has been your experience with cash flow over the last year or so?"

"Mr. Edgerton, one of the things we've learned with new practices is that marketing their services is a challenge, because the owners are doctors and not marketers. Let me ask, what has been your approach to marketing, and what type of results have you been experiencing?"

To implement this technique, Domanski suggests strategizing with your manager or fellow reps. Develop a scenario or two that highlights common points of pain. Script your scenario and trigger phase and then practice until they flow naturally. Now deliver and watch the impact on your sales!

This advice was excerpted from Top Dog Sales Secrets. Jim Domanski is president of Teleconcepts Consulting.

Join us again tomorrow as we tackle the "no money" obstacle.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Horror Stories from the Sales Trenches

Has it been a tough week? Looking for a way to lighten the mood on a Friday?

Well, you're in luck! Dan Seidman at Sales Autopsy has collected an arsenal of sales horror stories that will amuse you, and teach you a sales lesson at the same time. In this clip he relays the story of a radio ad sales rep whose poor choice of words had his prospect chasing him out of the office.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Don't take our word for it...

Renowned sales trainer and bestselling author Jeffrey Gitomer is recommending Top Dog Sales Secrets. You know Jeffrey as the author of the popular Little Books including the current bestselling Little Green Book of Getting Your Way.
Here's what Jeffrey wrote about Top Dog Sales Secrets:
"Michael Dalton Johnson has compiled these strategies, tips, and secrets for you to add to your sales bag of success. One of these top dog secrets can earn you a fortune."

If you're ready to earn your fortune, click here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Set yourself up for cold calling success

We know cold calling is tough. So make it easier on yourself by avoiding this Cold Calling Don't from telesales expert Art Sobczak of Business By Phone:

Don't send information before the cold call.
Busy decision-makers toss bulging packages of unsolicited literature with letters straight into the trash (or hopefully, recycling). No matter how many times you send that package, they're not going to open it. Therefore, starting a cold call with, "I sent you a letter, didja get it?" almost never elicits a favorable response.

What should you do instead?

Use an interest-creating opening for your next call, advises Sobczak. Here's his example that you can adapt to your business.

"Ms. Bigg, I'm John Brown with ABC Company. My company specializes in (fill in with the ultimate result customers want and get from you, for example, helping garden centers generate more business during the off-season). Depending on what you're doing now, and your objectives, this might be something worth taking a look at. I'd like to ask a few questions, to see if you'd like more information."

Give this advice a work-out this week. You'll be glad you did!

This advice was excerpted from Top Dog Sales Secrets. Art Sobczak is a popular telesales guru. Visit his site at

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Magic Sales Word #3

Sales trainer Renee Walkup has three favorite sales words: oh, tell, and today's word: when.

Walkup says that "when" is the perfect antidote to a serious disease afflicting most sales professionals, the "two-week" disease. You'll know you've got it if you find yourself saying things like, "So, Frank, I guess you now know what we have to offer. How about I call you in two weeks to follow up?"

First of all, Walkup explains, you have now set the criteria for following up. Why should that be YOUR decision? What if Frank is ready to buy? Think you'll get the sale? What if Frank can't get the approval until April, what good will two weeks do for you?

What's so magic about two weeks? It's a waste of time to impose this arbitrary timeframe on your customer when it really makes no sense whatsoever.

Walkup's cure to this selling disease is to "just ask when." It goes like this...

"So, Frank, I guess you now know what we have to offer. When is the best time to follow up with you?"

Now, Frank will tell you, and you're on his time frame--not yours. If he says "tomorrow," you'll close sooner than expected. If he says "April", at least you won't be wasting valuable time calling him every two weeks UNTIL April!

Put this advice to work for you today and watch your sales unfold like magic!

Renee Walkup is president of SalesPEAK Inc. and author of "Selling to Anyone Over the Phone".

Monday, November 5, 2007

Quote of the Week

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant." --Robert Louis Stevenson

Keep this advice in mind as you prospect this week.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Are you getting the brochure brush-off?

You finally have Mr. Big on the line. The conversation seems to be going well. He's even asked you to send him some literature. Wow, he must be interested. Hardly! In reality, you've just been given the brochure brush-off.

This particular evasive tactic has a number of variations: email me some more information, send me a proposal, and put that in writing. How do you know it's really a put-off? Well, just think about where you are with all the other prospects who've told you to send them a brochure. No doubt, you're still chasing them.

Here's how Mr. Inside Sales, Mike Brooks, advises you take control of the situation:

Put-off #1: "Go ahead and send me your information."

Your response:

"I'd be happy to, and if you like what you see would you be ready to place an order?"

"Before I do, I want to make sure you'd be ready to act on it if you like it. Let me ask you... (qualifying questions on budget, decision-making process, etc.)"

"Sure, and after you review it, how soon are you going to make a decision on it?"

"And what would you need to see to say yes to it?"

Put-off #2: "Put that quote in writing and send it to me."
Your response:

"I'd be happy to, and from what we've just discussed, does it sound like you'd go with it?"

"Absolutely. How does this compare with other quotes you've received so far?"

"Great. Based on the quote/price I just gave you, does this sound like it fits within your budget?"

"Be happy to, and after you get it, what happens next?"

Like anything in sales, practice makes perfect. Practice these responses, then put them to work for you. You'll be glad you did!

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, specializes in helping sales reps avoid rejection and make more money. Check out his free ezine at

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Foundation of a Salesperson

Business and career coach Diane Helbig had the ultimate sales role model in her father. "He believed completely in his product," says Helbig. "He was confident but not arrogant. He truly cared about the well-being of his prospects and clients - and they knew it. It was a pleasure to watch him interact with his customer."

While we all may not be lucky enough to have had such a strong sales role model, we can all benefit from the sales lessons Helbig learned from her father.

Believe in your product or service. If you are going to sell something, you should believe it is the best thing out there. Understand what makes it stand out; what its benefits truly are. What you believe emanates from you. If you aren't completely sold, people will know it - and won't want what you have to sell.

Exude confidence, not arrogance. Being confident - in yourself, in your product or service, in your message - is essential. However, being overly confident or arrogant will destroy you. Arrogance leads people to sell, to talk instead of listen. After all, they believe they know best.

Truly care about the well-being of your prospects and clients. Caring creates an environment where you are actively listening, and processing what you are hearing. You are realistic, honest, and capable of seeing things from the client's point of view. It's basic respect. You aren't trying to sell them. Rather, you are trying to help them solve a problem.

You'll know you're caring about your customers when you:
--Care that they get their problem solved - whether YOU can solve it or not
--Care that they pay a fair price
--Care that they make an informed (not coerced) decision

"You can see how when you believe in your product or service, are confident in yourself and your message, and care about your client's well-being, you will develop outstanding relationships," says Helbig. "It is those relationships that will bring you quality business for years to come."

Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach, and President of Seize This Day Coaching. She works one-on-one and in groups with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. Visit her website at

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Are you falling for objections?

"Think of objections as simply requests for more information," advises sales trainer Dr. John Brennan. "In other words, when the customer objects, he or she is simply asking, 'How do I justify this money?' 'How is this better than your competitor's product?' 'How have your other customers dealt with their price concerns?' 'Why should I buy the product from you, and not from your competitor?'"

Lady SalesDog couldn't agree more since this is a key part of her buying process: asking the salesperson questions to gather the information to logically justify the purchase.

So, take a cue from Brennan the next time you hear an "objection." Remember, it's just your customer's way of getting more information to make a buying decision.

Dr. John Brennan is president of Interpersonal Development LLC, a training and development firm. Visit John's website at

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Money Talk

In a polite society, it's considered rude to talk about money. But, in sales, you need to discuss budgets, pricing, and fees to qualify prospects and make the sale. How do you get comfortable discussing these taboo topics? "When you clearly understand the value of your product and can communicate it with ease, the fear of presenting your fees disappears," says sales expert Rochelle Togo-Figa.

Here are some of Togo-Figa's tips to help you more easily discuss money with prospects.

Ask money qualifying questions before or early on in the meeting. Serious prospects don't mind hearing money questions. They expect to be asked these questions. Unqualified prospects run when they hear these questions because they're not serious about buying. Try saying, "So I know we're in the same ball park, approximately how much were you looking to spend?"

Make a list of the benefits. Create a list of all the ways the product will benefit the client AND a list of benefits your clients get from working with you. Here's an example: "All clients I work with receive personalized service from the start of the job, to the end of the job."

Share the results clients have received from working with you. Think in terms of measurable results clients have achieved. This will instill more confidence as you become clear on the value you bring to your clients. Here's an example: "My client had no idea where to start with decorating her home. After working with me, she selected a window treatment that suits her living style, and a fabric within her budget."

Create several pricing packages your clients can choose from. Start to think of different price ranges and programs you can offer. Creating different pricing options gives the prospect a choice and helps make the selection affordable. They're more apt to buy if you offer low, medium, and high-end products.

Give these tips a try and watch your fears abate and your sales rise!

Rochelle Togo-Figa, The Sales Breakthrough Expert, is the creator of the Sales Breakthrough System. Visit her website at

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quote of the Week

"A budget tells us what we can't afford, but it doesn't keep us from buying it." --William Feather

Keep this thought in mind the next time a prospect tells you they can't afford it!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Building Referral Business

This week we're talking about W. Edwards Deming's quote about profit in business coming from repeat customers. Today, we'll address how to get your customers to "bring their friends with them" through referrals.

Referral expert Paul McCord has some useful insights:

"Acquiring referrals from clients is not as simple as 'doing a good job' and then asking for referrals," says McCord. "Generating a large number of highly qualified referrals from a client is a process that starts from the moment the prospect is first met, not a one-time act after the sale has been completed. It requires an understanding of what a successful referral is based on, and how to exploit the referral to insure a successful contact with the referee."

Here are McCord's 4 Pillars of a Successful Referral:

Your Relationship with Your ClientYour relationship with your client must be built on trust and respect. Most clients will not give referrals to people they trust and respect unless they trust and respect you.

Your Client's Purchasing ExperienceClients assume that whomever they refer you to will be more critical and more demanding than they themselves have been. Consequently, you must provide the client the exact purchasing experience they want and demonstrate that you will not embarrass them in front of their friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances.

Your Client's Relationship with the Referred ProspectWith a referral, you are trying to build a relationship with the referred prospect based on their relationship with your client. You must know the relationship between the two. If the prospect trusts and respects your client, you begin your relationship with that prospect with some of that trust and respect imbued to you. Likewise, if the prospect distrusts and disrespects your client, you begin the relationship with some of that distrust and disrespect imbued to you. You must know where you stand with the prospect before you contact them.

The Method Used to Contact the Referred ProspectBased on the client/prospect bond, you must determine how best to contact the prospect to produce the greatest opportunity to acquire a meeting. If the client/prospect relationship is extremely strong, virtually any contact method, including a phone call from the salesperson mentioning the client's name will suffice. But, for a weak relationship, the rep must strive to use the strongest contact method possible, such as, a client letter or phone call, or a lunch meeting between the client, prospect and rep.

Author of "Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals," Paul McCord is president of McCord & Associates, a sales training and management-consulting firm.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

People Are Talking

Today we're looking at the second element in W. Edwards Deming's formula for profit in business: getting your customers to boast about you.

Sales and marketing coach Dr. Rachna D. Jain has some tips for easily and effectively garnering testimonials:

Let your customers know right up front. Start every new customer relationship with a brief explanation of how you appreciate testimonials and how they help you serve your customers better. Ask all new customers/clients if they would be willing to provide you a testimonial if they are satisfied with your service.

Ask for them. Very often, sales reps will take step one, but never take step two. The client has agreed to provide a testimonial, but the business owner never follows up and asks for the testimonial. It's most effective to ask when your client or customer is especially pleased or satisfied with your service.

Make it easy. Make it as easy as possible for your clients to provide you with the testimonial. Consider having a pre-designed form, or a standard email. You may even want to ask certain questions to help shape the tone or format of what your client shares. For example, if you really want your clients to comment on your "outstanding customer service orientation," you might put a question or two in the form about this.

Write it yourself. Sometimes, clients will agree to provide a testimonial, but never actually do it. In these cases, it's perfectly acceptable to offer to write the testimonial yourself and have the client sign it. Ask the client if you might call him/her for 10-15 minutes for a brief interview about the high points of your business or service. Then write what you hear, and send it to the client for approval.

Get permission. It's very important to get your clients' permission to use their name, city/state, or website address in your own marketing. Most clients will understand that you are obtaining a testimonial for your marketing efforts. I have always found it wise to ask them to sign a brief statement which demonstrates that they have given permission for the information to be used.

Offer something in return. Most satisfied clients will give you a strong testimonial without expecting anything in return. For myself, I've found that offering a small "thank you" (a brief coaching session, a copy of one of my books, a discount on a class or training) goes a long way to helping clients feel valued and appreciated for their extra time and effort.

Dr. Rachna D. Jain is a sales and marketing coach. To learn more, contact Dr. Jain directly, or to sign up for her free newsletter, Sales and Marketing Secrets, please visit her website.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Expand Your Business With Each Customer

Yesterday, Dr. Tony Alessandra showed us how to use a periodic client review to gauge a client's level of satisfaction. Today, he shows you several ways to expand your business through your customers.

  • Referrals within their company. Whenever you talk to clients, keep one eye open for clues that indicate needs within their company, for example, a new office or branch that may need your product or service. Ask your customers for a referral, either verbally or in writing.
  • Sell more of the same. While servicing an account, suggest that they buy more if you see they have the capacity to use larger volumes of your product. Under no circumstances, though, should you try to sell them more if they do not need it.
  • Sell additional products or services. If you see a need, offer new products and services to your present customers. If they like your original product, they will listen to your ideas about expanding into other products.
  • Upgrade your clients. If a client uses a medium-priced product, you may be able to upgrade him to a higher-priced, higher-quality product, especially if his company is growing and its needs are changing. For example, a company using a copying machine may need one with more capabilities, such as photo-reduction and collating. If you are aware of their increased needs, suggest the upgrade - before your competitor does.
Exert the extra effort to keep your customers completely satisfied, and you will reap the rewards - with their repeat business and with their referrals.

Tony Alessandra is a contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets. He has authored 17 books translated into 49 foreign language editions, recorded over 50 audio/video programs, and delivered over 2,000 keynote speeches since 1976.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Earning Repeat Business

We mentioned yesterday that this week is all about growing your sales through repeat business. Dr. Tony Alessandra shares his tips below to keep your customers satisfied and returning to you time and again.

"Annual or periodic client reviews provide a valuable tool for looking at the activities of an account, an industry in general, competitors, company strengths and weaknesses, and so on," says Alessandra.

"This special meeting will give you feedback about your customer's level of satisfaction, and provide an opportunity to introduce new products or services. It will also convey that you care, and strengthen the trust bond between you."

To set the stage for an effective meeting:

  1. Arrange a breakfast or lunch meeting at your customer's convenience.
  2. Select a place that is well-lit, and conducive to conversation.
  3. Invite all the necessary participants on the account. If there are two buyers, invite them both.
  4. Bring all records necessary to discuss the previous year's business.
  5. Allow an adequate amount of time for the meeting.
  6. Be prepared and organized. Know what you want to talk about, and proceed in a logical manner. Take notes if necessary, and send a typed copy to the participants within one week after the meeting.
  7. Listen carefully for implied needs and concerns.
  8. Reiterate your desire to be of service and to maintain an open, trusting relationship.
  9. During your conversation, look for opportunities above and beyond the client's immediate horizon. Ask for referrals and letters of testimony if appropriate.
  10. After the review, offer a new idea, service, product or special promotional offer. This is an excellent opportunity to spark interest in something new.
Follow Dr. Tony's tips and your clients will be impressed with your service - and reward you with repeat business.

Tony Alessandra is a contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets. He has authored 17 books translated into 49 foreign language editions, recorded over 50 audio/video programs, and delivered over 2,000 keynote speeches since 1976.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Quote of the Week

"Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them." -- W. Edwards Deming

SalesDog asks:

So, what are you doing to earn repeat business from your customers?
How many of your customers boast about you? And, are you asking them for testimonials?
Do you consistently ask for referrals?

This week we'll share some tips to help you build repeat business, earn glowing testimonials, and referral business.

To share your hot tips, click on the Post a Comment link below.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Twist on the Elevator Speech

You probably have an elevator speech, a short explanation of what you do that can be delivered in the time it takes an elevator to ride a few floors. Sales trainer Tim Connor has an intriguing variation - elevator questions. Here's how it works:

If you were told by a prospect that you had sixty seconds to sell them, what would you do? Would you condense your sales message into a one minute presentation or talk about your organization and its strengths and history? Would you ask a few thought provoking questions or just sit there dumbfounded wondering what to do or what to say next?

I recently met a prospect on a hotel elevator in Las Vegas. He looked like he was a business person, so I asked him, "What do you do for a living?" He responded, "I am in the insurance industry." My follow-up question was, "What do you do in the insurance business?" He said he was the president. (Keep in mind, I don't have a lot of time here, we are on a elevator.)

My follow-up question was, "Do you know what your lost sales are costing you every year?" (Elevator Question)

He paused and then replied, "I am not sure, what do you do for a living?"

I said, "I am in the business of helping organizations reduce their lost sales revenue." (Elevator Statement)

An elevator question is any question that cuts to the heart of your prospect's challenges, concerns or fears, and makes him think. It also implies that you or your organization may have a possible solution for his problems. Remember that elevator questions are not used only on elevators. They can be used at social settings, while selling on the telephone or anywhere during the sales process.

SalesDog's advice: Work on some elevator questions this weekend, and put them to use next week!

-- Tim Connor is CEO of and a contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets. He is a popular speaker, sales trainer and successful author. Visit his website at

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Last Chance to Save $300 on Women in Sales Event

You'll save $300 when you register by Oct. 23 for the Sales Shebang - a conference for women who sell.

Spend two days learning from the smartest, savviest women in sales. Imagine getting their career-accelerating inspiration and expert insights and gaining the practical knowledge you need to become a sales superstar!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Magic Two-sentence Email that Gets Stalled Sales Back on Track

Here's an interesting tip from sales trainer Chris Lytle to help you get a stalled prospect back in sales motion:

When a customer didn't call me back, I sent this e-mail:

"Cliff, I still have you on my 'waiting for' list of people I'm expecting to hear from. Am I still on your radar? Chris"
His response:

"You are good. Let's talk this morning if you are available. I'm out of town but can be reached on my cell phone."
Result: Before I could call him, he called me from the road and we scheduled our next meeting. My two-sentence e-mail worked (I believe) because I really do have a "waiting for" list and keep track of people who owe me a call, an e-mail, or a contract - and because the "radar" question lets the customer opt in or out without pressure.

Chris Lytle, CSP, time releases immediately applicable sales advice via the MAX-ATM Automatic Training Machine website. Check it out at

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tell me "no"

We know you work hard. Here's a tip from sales performance expert Alan Rigg to help you work smart. Brace yourself - it involves getting prospects to tell you "no."

The first step in getting to "no" is explaining to your prospects right up front that "no" is a perfectly acceptable answer! The conversation you have with a prospect might sound something like this: "Bob, as we explore the possibility of working together, we may decide there isn't a fit between what your company needs and what I offer. If that happens, to avoid wasting each other's time, are you comfortable telling me 'no'?"

Once a prospect agrees that they are willing to tell you "no" you have a powerful weapon you can use to jump-start stalled opportunities and minimize wasted time. How does this weapon work? Well, if you ever feel an opportunity may be stalling, or if a prospect has not returned your calls or e-mails for a week or two, put your cards on the table by saying (or writing in an e-mail) something like this:

"Bob, the last time I heard from you was on (date). Is (product or service name) still on your radar screen? Remember, "No" is a perfectly acceptable answer! I don't want to waste your time or mine, and I don't want to be a pest. Please let me know whether I should continue calling you. Thank you!"

My experience has been that, if a prospect is serious about acquiring your product or service, they will ALWAYS respond to this kind of communication. If they don't respond, it is a strong indicator they are not serious. You have little to lose by scratching these non-responsive prospects off your call list and removing them from your sales opportunity pipeline.

Put Rigg's advice to work for you this week and you'll find yourself with more time to convert qualified prospects into sales.

For more free sales and sales management tips, visit Alan Rigg's website at

Monday, October 15, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

How Sorry Are You?

Shipping sent the wrong product to your client - twice. A delivery arrived late, or you weren't able to come through with a promised upgrade. Sound familiar? Customer service foul-ups like these, and the Target customer service nightmare we told you about yesterday, can create major headaches for your customers.
"As a sales professional, you are the face of your company," says Managing Editor Tina LoSasso. "So you need to say you're sorry (regardless of whether it's your fault). When your company fouls up, a mere phone call or letter often is not enough to undo the damage. An appropriate gift will go a long way toward soothing ruffled feathers."
What should you send?
"Flowers always say it best," advises LoSasso. "For female customers, send a floral arrangement in a vase. Stay away from roses, no matter the color, as they spell romance in any language. Avoid lilies, because they are often used at funerals, and can have an overpowering fragrance. An elegant mixed flower arrangement can be pricey, so if funds are tight, opt for a tasteful bouquet of just one variety of flower for maximum impact. Irises, dendrobium orchids or gerbera daisies work well."
"For the men, send a healthy-looking potted plant, preferably not a blooming one. A bonsai plant, bamboo, or money tree will hit just the right masculine note, and look great on his desk."
When problems arise, do your best to fix them and make sure the customer knows you appreciate their business and will work hard to continue it. Follow up on your apology with a thoughtful gift and your customers will remember you when it's time to buy again.
This advice was excerpted from Top Dog Sales Secrets.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's Not Our Policy...

A Texas woman bought an iPod from Target for her 14-year-old daughter's birthday. Upon opening the shrink-wrapped package, she discovered that the iPod had been replaced with rocks. Mother and daughter returned to the store to get what she paid for, but the item was out of stock.
The woman asked for a refund, but because she had paid using a new Target credit card to get a 10 percent discount, the store would only give her store credit. She drove to another Target store to buy another iPod, only to get another box of rocks. Again, she was told it wasn't store policy to give a refund. (You can read the entire customer service nightmare here.)
As outlandish as this story seems, "It's not our policy" is an all-too-common refrain in the business world.
"When the customer hears 'it's not our policy,' they immediately respond (usually silently) with, 'WHO CARES?''"says customer service expert Nancy Friedman. "What a business needs to understand is, no one but the management and staff cares about your policies. Do you really think the customer says to himself or herself as they enter or call your place of business, 'Gee, I wonder what their policy is on this issue?'"
"All this being said," continues Friedman, "there are companies who do have policies that make it more difficult to work with them than with others." Friedman's suggestion? "Decide on your policy, then work as a team with your staff to find a positive way to explain it to the customer. Otherwise, it'll be the customer's policy not to do business with you!"
As a salesperson, you are your customer's first call when things go wrong. What are you doing to explain unpopular company policy in a positive light? Do you take responsibility for the situation and do everything you can to rectify it?
Nancy Friedman is known as the Telephone Doctor. For expert advice on serving customers, visit her website at

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Is Politeness Unraveling Your Sale?

It happened again today. I received a follow-up email from a vendor containing not one, but two, uses of the phrase "should you choose to go forward." Very nice, very polite, also potentially hazardous to this sale.


I already told the salesperson that we wanted to move forward and the email was supposed to tell me what we needed to do now. In effect, the salesperson was ignoring that decision and putting the deal up for grabs again.

Before you say,"Oh, I would never do that," realize I see this with alarming frequency, particularly from sellers of services. "Should you choose to go forward" is second cousin to, "If you decide to use our services." Both are equally effective at unraveling a sale when written to a customer who is already sold.

How can you safeguard your emails from this deal nullifier? Take a good, hard look at your standard emails. And, before you hit the send button on your next email, carefully read it over to see if every word applies to this particular prospect. If the prospect is already sold, you need to replace the "should you choose" and "if you decide." This buyer would not object to being told, "Let's get started. Just fill out the attached forms and I'll get you scheduled."

--Tina LoSasso is Managing Editor of and a contributor to Top Dog Sales Secrets.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Magic Sales Words

Last week we told you about the first of sales trainer Renee Walkup's three favorite sales words: "oh."
Here's the second word that Walkup says will help you make sales: "tell."
Here's how she suggests you use it in selling situations:
Let's say you need to find out about the decision-making process from your customer says Walkup. In the past, your qualifying may have sounded like this:
Who makes the decision?
When is the decision going to be made?
How much is your team planning on investing in this?
What usually occurs when you meet to discuss the purchase?
Why don't I show up here to make a more formal presentation when your group meets?

Now, replace these five questions with one excellent "tell" question:
Frank, tell me about the decision-making process.
Then be quiet. Frank is now going to have to tell you a story of how the process will take place, who is involved, when they'll meet and the rest. You get more value for your intelligent qualifying and in the meantime, your customer sees you as a bright, experienced, and confident sales professional he can trust.

Give "tell" a sales workout this week.
Renee Walkup is president of SalesPEAK Inc. and author of "Selling to Anyone Over the Phone."