Friday, February 29, 2008

Don't Allow "Busy Work" to Interfere with Selling

How many times do you have a full day of selling that gets put off due to "necessary" interruptions? If you're like most salespeople, this probably happens more frequently than you'd like. Customer service issues, phone calls, emails and coworkers are all a drain to your precious selling time each day.

Sales trainer Paul McCord has a solution that can help you handle the interruptions without taking up too much of your selling time. In a recent blog post, McCord wrote, "My solution has been to set aside four 1/2 hour times during the day when I will address non-selling issues. Twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon I set aside my selling and marketing activities in order to return calls, handle 'emergencies,' and the other 'busy' work of my business. Of course, if a real emergency arises, it takes precedence over all else. But real emergencies are rare."

This can be a scary idea for those who check their messages and email often - but you'll find that this system allows you to be more productive and focus better on the task at hand. After all, building your business should always be the number one priority.

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, February 28, 2008

Man or Mouse? The Five Defining Moments in Your Sales Process

In a recent blog post, sales trainer Bill Caskey writes about defining moments. If you look up "defining moment" on, you'll see it's described as "a point at which the essential nature of a character, person, group, etc., is revealed or identified," or "an occurrence that typifies or determines all related events that follow."

Caskey explains defining moments as the "places in life that we have a choice - follow one path that is resourceful and in everyone's best interest, or follow the path of least resistance - where we wimp on our goals." He continues, "If you're a sales person in any context - selling services, products, or selling ideas, there are 5 defining moments in the sales process. Check them out and see how you do in these moments."

1. The First Conversation. This is the time when "orientation" gets set. What that means is the prospect begins to get a feel for how you're oriented. Are you there to sell? Are you there to beg? Or, better, are you there to question and explore? Hopefully, the latter.

2. Finding the Problem. There is a moment in the sales process where the way is paved for you to ask questions to find customer problems. And yet few of us do. We're too buy talking about our company - value-people-etc., stuff that might be important to you, but isn't for your prospect. This moment defines what you're there to do (in the prospect's eyes).

3. Talking Money. Your solution costs money. There are logical times in the sales process to talk money. Your comfort in doing so makes the sales process sail. If you're afraid of bringing it up, you're sunk.

4. Involving Others. In business to business selling, there will be more than one person who makes/weighs in on the decision. There is a moment in the process where you must involve others. Maybe the first step is to ask the simple question: "Who else cares about solving this problem?"

5. Getting a Decision. There is a moment that you should lay the ground work for the decision. You aren't asking for a YES. But you should always be planning the moment where either you tell the prospect NO or they tell you NO. Either way is OK. But don't miss the moment.

Can you think of any other defining moments in the sales process? Have you had an experience changing your actions in one of these defining moments that made a difference in your sales? Let us know!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Take Out the Trash

One of our experts, Kelley Robertson, recently wrote about the problem of "head trash," something I know I've been guilty of from time to time. According to Robertson, head trash is "a collection of limiting thoughts or ideas that prevent you from taking specific action that will help you generate better results."

If you aren't getting the results you want, I'll bet you've got some "head trash" to toss.

Here are a few examples from Robertson. See if any of these sound familiar.

"In a sales training workshop I conducted for a specialty retailer, several people stated that they didn't bother trying to close any business before 11:00am because they "knew" that everyone who came into their store before that time was just comparing their price with another store located close by."

"A salesperson in a manufacturing company told me that her customers would not pay full price for her service because a major competitor sold a similar product for less money."

These are just two examples of "head trash." To achieve the results you deserve, it is essential that you dump your head trash," says Robertson. "Replace this garbage with possibility thinking. With thoughts of what you CAN do. With positive outcomes. Take out the trash and improve your results."

Kelley Robertson is the President and founder of Robertson Training Group. He specializes in helping businesses increase their sales, develop better negotiating skills, coach and motivate their employees, create powerful work teams and deliver outstanding customer service. Learn more by visiting

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Are There Criminals on Your Sales Team?

The answer might just be "Yes" despite the standard background screening that your company uses.

Lee B. Salz of has published a whitepaper intriguingly titled "Are There Criminals on Your Sales Team?" I've read it and was surprised by the ways in which people with questionable backgrounds can avoid detection by standard background screenings.

"Most companies have a background screening scope that they use for all employees," says Salz. "However," he explains, "salespeople require different screening due to their interaction with the public, access to the company's proprietary information, access to client's confidential information, and handling of money."

This eye-opening whitepaper dispels some common misperceptions of criminal background checks and provides rarely seen insight into the benefits and pitfalls of each. You may think you know criminal background screening, but wait until you read this! To get your copy of this valuable whitepaper, send an email to

Monday, February 25, 2008

In the News

Our publisher, Michael Dalton Johnson, is on the front page of Salesopedia this week. You can check out his article, "Why You're Not Selling," here. His advice is excerpted from the bestselling advice book, Top Dog Sales Secrets. One of these tips is sure to help you sell more this week.

Quote of the Week

"Confidence and enthusiasm are the greatest sales producers in any kind of economy." -- O.B. Smith

If you want to keep your sales up in a lagging economy, approach each day with the same confidence and enthusiasm you did in good times. Easier said than done? Then, take a few minutes each morning to remind yourself of your triumphs over adversity. And, while you're at it, remind yourself why your customers need your solutions. What do they like about using your product or service? What is special about doing business with you and your company? These positive thoughts are sure to boost your confidence and help you sail through the tough times.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Take a Sales Lesson from a President

No matter what the post office, banks and retail shops may think, today is George Washington's actual birthday. U.S. schoolchildren grow up learning the story of how young George chopped down the cherry tree and couldn't lie about it to his father. The merit of this tale still holds true today, especially for sales professionals.

While most of us would agree that lying to customers and prospective customers is wrong, who hasn't stumbled over the truth when it comes to making promises - promises we're later unable to keep?

Sales coach Keith Rosen asks, "Do you have a hard time telling customers the truth about how long a project may actually take, or cost? Is your schedule frequently overbooked? Have you ever withheld information that you knew your customer wanted or needed to hear because you feared a confrontation, or losing the sale?"

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, Rosen believes you may be a "yesaholic."

In Top Dog Sales Secrets, Rosen advises, "Being honest about what you know to be true, and sharing this with your customer - even if the customer may not like what you have to say - is the most effective strategy to manage the expectations of your customers and reduce time consuming problems. You will make more money, have happier customers, generate more referrals, and deal with fewer headaches by telling the truth, and learning to occasionally say "no."

So, in honor of our first President, be brave and opt for some truth-telling when necessary today. Your customers will appreciate your candidness and you'll find your relationship will be stronger for it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Eight-Point Buyer Checklist

How many times do you leave an introductory meeting, or hang up from a phone call with a prospect, only to realize that you are missing critical information that you need? Instead of slapping your head, like in the old V-8 commercials, use sales trainer George Ludwig's easy acronym -- BEND 4P's - to help you remember what you need to know.

B-BELIEFS: What does the buyer believe about you, your product or service, your competitor, etc.?

E-EVALUATION PROCESS: How will the buyer evaluate your product? What criteria will he or she use?

N-NEEDS: What does the buyer really need?

D-DESIRES: What does the buyer really want?

P-PSYCHIC WOUNDS: Does the buyer have any ill will toward your company, you, or a particular type of product or service?

P-PERSONAL INTERESTS: What are the buyer's hobbies, his or her family life, favorite sports, etc.?

P-PERSONAL MENTORS: Whom does the buyer look to for similar buying decisions? What references will he or she accept?

P-PERSONAL SUCCESSES: What is the buyer proud of? What has he or she purchased before that gave him or her a personal win?

Remember to get the answers to the BEND 4-P QUESTIONS, and you'll be better armed to better serve the buyer and close the sale!

George Ludwig is an author, speaker, and consultant with years of experience as a top-seller. He developed his Power Selling Process and the Double Your Income Power Seminars after 20 years of researching the most successful sales strategies in the world, and is the author of the book Power Selling: Seven Strategies for Cracking the Sales Code. Discover your sales strengths and weaknesses at

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ease Cold Calling Fears by Changing Your Focus

Here's a quick tip that is sure to change the way you look at cold calling from The Queen of Cold Calling, Wendy Weiss:

Change your focus from 'cold calling' (sounds scary) to 'introductory calling.' You are calling to introduce yourself, your company, product and/or service. In life, you make introductions all the time. This is an introduction that happens over the telephone.

For more no-nonsense cold calling advice, check out The Queen of Cold Calling.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Quote of the Week

"No one can defeat us unless we first defeat ourselves." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, former U.S. President

Today is President's Day in the U.S. - a day to remember and celebrate our nation's leaders (or just an excuse for the government and postal service to take a break!)

Take a cue from a past President and military leader. Never accept defeat. If you're having a hard time cracking an account - don't give up! Try another method of contact, get a referral, or send a funny note. Go out and find five new prospects to replace that one that's driving you crazy. Your persistence will pay off in the end.

Friday, February 15, 2008

SalesDog Quick Tip

Sales advice is filled with admonitions to salespeople to listen more and talk less. Sometimes this is easier said then done. Active listening is an acquired skill. Beyond asking open-ended questions, summarizing and asking for feedback, what can you do to actively listen? Try this tip from tele-selling expert Jim Domanski.

The best way to listen is to listen with a pen in your hand. Take notes. Tell your client that you'll be taking notes as you go. They'll appreciate it. It gives them peace of mind. It suggests to them that you are thorough. They also have a tendency to slow down a bit which makes listening and note taking that much easier.

Write in point form. Don't worry about getting every word in a sentence. If you miss something or you don't understand something, put a circle around it or put a big question mark beside it. When it is time for you to 'investigate' use your notes to guide you. Preface your question with trigger phrases such as, "I have a note here on my pad. You said something about ... and I did not quite get it. Could you elaborate?"

Taking notes is almost a forgotten art, particularly in tele-sales. This is often due to complacency. The rep figures he's 'heard it all before' and the need to jot down notes is not necessary. Big mistake. Writing notes keeps your focus and concentration.

Jim Domanski is the President of Teleconcepts Consulting Inc. and works with companies and individuals who are frustrated with the results they have been getting when using the telephone to generate leads and sales. For more information visit: or call 613-591-1998.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Working with Warm Leads

If you're like most salespeople, your company probably gives you leads from website inquiries, trade shows, Internet advertising, media advertising, and more. This is good for you (more leads!) but can also be troublesome if you don't know how to deal with these "warm leads." Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, has some Do's and Dont's for handling these leads:

#1 DO begin your opening in a welcoming, assumptive way. Try:

"Hi, this is Mike with ABC Company. I wanted to thank you for (visiting our website, stopping by our booth, your interest in) and I wanted to answer any questions you had. What specifically were you interested in?

DON'T be vague:

"Ah, this is Mike getting back with you. I see you went to our website and I was wondering how I can help you?"

#2 DO be prepared to ask qualifying questions and LISTEN to uncover their specific buying motives. Try:

"What motivated you to take the time to fill out our request form?"
"What specifically were you interested in?"
"What part of our (product/service) appealed to you most?"
"Many of our clients like that we provide X. Is that what you were looking for, too?"

DON'T start pitching! 80% of your competitors make the critical error of assuming a warm lead is interested in your product or service so they start pitching. Don't go into pitch mode!

#3 DO use a script. The top 20% of sales closers (who account for 80% of sales revenues) understand how important it is to make a connection, stay in control, uncover buying motives, and disqualify prospects who are just looking. Only a carefully crafted script allows you to do that.

DON'T ad-lib your way through your presentation. 80% of your competition still make the mistake of assuming that a warm lead is a good lead and so they often quickly make appointments, send demos, etc., without properly qualifying. Big mistake! Treat a warm lead like any other and qualify it using a script.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What Buyers Really Want from Salespeople

One of our sales experts, Chris Lytle, asked more than 40,000 customers what they want from the salespeople who work with them. Here are the top 7 things customers want you to do:
  1. Learn about my business
  2. Quit bad-mouthing the competition
  3. Make appointments
  4. Listen better
  5. Follow up after the sale
  6. Treat me like I'll be in business next month
  7. Treat me like a client and not a category of business
Learn what you can do to make your customers happy -- read the entire article here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How to use Google to search smarter

While looking through past posts, I found that I talk a lot about doing research before starting the sales process. If you're like me and you aren't a tech guru (another thing I seem to talk about a lot) then you may not be finding everything you need.

Simply typing a company's name into Google will only get you so far. Here are some tips from the HubSpot blog to help you search smarter:

Looking for your prospect's stock info? Enter a valid ticker symbol as your search term and Google will give you the current financials and a quick thumb-nail chart for the stock.

Example: GOOG

Want to find sales advice on a specific subject? Search within a website by typing the word or phrase you're looking for, followed by this modifier - site:(site you're looking at).

Example: "cold calling" site:

Putting together a proposal for an overseas company and need to figure out the total in Euros? Type the following into Google:

Example: 100 USD in Euros

See the rest of HubSpot's Google search tips, (and many more from their readers!) here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Quote of the Week

"The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven't thought of yet." -- Ann Landers, Advice Columnist

Have you ever promised something to a customer then quickly realized you couldn't deliver? Passed on some company news you shouldn't have? Made a comment that was offensive or rude, only to realize this a second too late? These verbal slip-ups will cost you sales every time.

Prevent foot-in-mouth syndrome by slowing down and taking a few seconds to collect your thoughts before speaking. You'll not only avoid embarrassing yourself, you'll appear more thoughtful, confident and professional.

Friday, February 8, 2008

SalesDog Quick Tip

As a sales professional, it is vital that you ask about competitors. Most of the time, clients will readily tell you about competitors giving you important information to plan a competitive strategy, and properly position your solution. A small percentage of clients may refuse to answer. For them, a simple acknowledgement like, " I can understand" and then moving the conversation along, works well. Or you can ask, "I know you don't want to share names, but how does (your idea) compare to what else you are hearing?"

Today's quick tip comes from Linda Richardson, president and founder of Richardson, a leading global sales training and consulting firm. This tip was excerpted from Linda's chapter in Top Dog Sales Secrets.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Prepare for Objections - and Close the Sale!

Although no one wants to go in to a sales meeting expecting objections, this mindset is actually the best way to close the sale. Preparing a thoughtful response to any and all objections will help you to confidently guide your prospect toward making the deal. Sales trainer and author Alan Rigg has set up a system for overcoming objections - start it with your sales team, and see how it helps everyone involved.

BRAINSTORM objections - Sit down with your sales manager and the other members of your sales team and do some brainstorming. Write down every objection that any of you can remember, then work together to develop an effective response for each objection.

DOCUMENT objections and responses - Put the results of your brainstorming session into a document and make it a "living document" (which means the document should receive frequent updates over time). When any of your company's salespeople hear an objection that is not listed in the document, add it to the document. Bring up these new objections in your sales meetings, discuss the best way(s) to respond to the objections, then add the responses to the document as well.

PRACTICE responding to objections - You and your fellow sales team members should hold each other ACCOUNTABLE for learning EVERY objection and how to respond to the objection effectively. Get in the habit of giving each other "pop quizzes" where you spontaneously suggest objections to each other and practice providing effective responses to the objections. Over time you will learn how to respond to each objection in a manner that is comfortable and natural for you. You will also learn where the gaps are in your sales opportunity qualification processes that cause prospects to raise objections in the first place!

PROACTIVELY address objections - If one or more objections come up frequently when you and your fellow salespeople work with prospects, figure out how to proactively address these objections during your sales calls. In other words, you should bring up the objections yourselves and respond to them rather than waiting for your prospects to raise them.

Sales performance expert Alan Rigg is the author of How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Sales Team Performance: A Step-By-Step Guide to Building and Managing Top-Performing Sales Teams. His 80/20 Selling System helps business owners, executives, and managers end the frustration of 80/20 sales team performance, where 20% of salespeople produce 80% of sales. For more information, visit

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Are You Stuck on the Spin Cycle of Selling?

The following advice is from a post I read in Kim Duke's blog. Otherwise known as "The Sales Diva," Kim shows women how to increase sales in a fun, sassy way that I really enjoy. It's a sales lesson and a chat with your favorite girlfriend all at once. And guys - the lessons are applicable to you too!

So many people in sales are "information dumpers" when they meet a client. What do they information dump about? All the BORING features and benefits of what is marvelous about their product or service. Yawn.

Instead, as a customer, I am interested in someone who is a PAIN-REDUCER. For instance, I was recently buying new appliances for my home. The first 3 places I looked, I had salespeople who didn't ask me ONE QUESTION about what was the most important thing I was looking for. Instead they babbled on for 10 minutes (as I was looking around frantically for an oxygen tank to give them) about all the wonderful features of this and this and this. (hellllo spin cycle!)

They lost me. I wasn't even thinking about the appliance and all its "pleasurable" features any longer. I was looking for the next exit.

So who sold me the fancy schmancy appliances? A guy who did a wonderful job of asking me questions that weren't pushy. For example, he asked me if I liked to cook (I LOVE it), he asked me if I hated doing laundry (are there people out there who actually like it??) and he also asked me how important it was for me to have environmentally friendly appliances. (Al Gore is my hero).

And based upon my responses he did something you're probably not doing. He made a RECOMMENDATION.

He recommended I have:
  • Dual ovens so I wouldn't be serving food on cold plates to my guests.
  • A convection oven so I can quit wasting 25% of my time WAITING for meals to be ready
  • A washing machine and dryer on stands which also use a teaspoon of soap so I am not harming the environment or always shopping for laundry soap
  • And sooo much more
And he also made a very big sale.

So what are you doing still flopping on spin cycle?
I know. I know. You were taught by someone that being a good salesperson is being a smooth talker. Ditch that thought. Instead - FOCUS on all the PAINFUL PROBLEMS you've learned from your client and cater to that instead. I don't care about all your features and benefits. They just go down the drain. I want to know HOW you'll solve my problem better than anyone else.

Answer that and you're out of the spin cycle!

Kim Duke is an unconventional, sassy and savvy sales expert who shows women small biz owners and entrepreneurs sizzling sales tips on how to increase sales in a fun, easy, stress-free way! Learn more and sign up for her free e-zine at

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Got voicemail? No problem!

Are you leaving message after message with no response? If you answered yes, try these quick tips from sales trainer and speaker Mark Hunter. Your phone just might start ringing off the hook!
  • If your goal is to get the phone call returned, don't leave information that would allow the person to make up their mind. Add a call-to-action to your message by providing a key date or something of interest that will encourage the person to return the call. You have to create a reason for them to call you back.
  • Avoid asking people to call you back at a certain time. This gives them an excuse not to call you. For the same reason, never state in the message that you will call them back.
  • When leaving a message with multiple points, be sure to immediately disclose how many you will be making. This will prevent the recipient from accidentally fast-forwarding or deleting before it is completely heard.
Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter," is a motivational sales speaker and industry expert who addresses thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability. For more information on his sales training or to receive a free weekly sales tip via email, contact "The Sales hunter" at

Monday, February 4, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops." -- Thomas J. Watson Jr.

Acknowledging and celebrating your accomplishments is important and can help motivate you when you reach an inevitable plateau (or valley). But, resting on your laurels will only lead to stagnation. So celebrate your next success, then be sure to ask yourself, "What's next?"

Friday, February 1, 2008

Using Your Camera Phone as a Sales Tool

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the most technologically-savvy person. When a new gadget comes out I'm in no rush to get it. It could have e-mail, video, internet, a camera, a coffee maker and do my laundry, and I'd still wait it out. Personally, I like to think of myself as cautious.

The tech-savvy Jan Visser over at SalesTeamTools echoes my sentiments perfectly in this post - and gave me new ideas on how to use the limited technology I've mastered. Here are his suggestions for using your camera phone as a sales tool:
  • Take a picture of a business card and use scanR to recognize the text so you can import them into your contact management software.
  • On the road to an appointment, you pass a brand new office park. Ah! New prospects! Don't we love those. Take a picture of the directory listing and call the companies located here when you get back to the office.
  • I don't know about you but when I fly, I always forget where I parked my car at the airport. Snap a quick shot of the garage floor you're on and you'll be back on track in no time.
  • You just had a terrific brainstorming session with your prospect or your technical expert. The whiteboard is filled with pictures, bullet points, arrows and diagrams. But how do you capture these thoughts, short of writing everything down? You got it - your camera phone!
  • Ever had a customer or prospect voluntarily share your competitor's proposal with you? Gee, how are you going to remember the components of the proposal and pricing? Be a bit like 007, snap a picture and share them with your marketing department too.