Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Can LinkedIn Increase Your Sales?

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Most business people have one nowadays, but what does it really do for you? Putting your info online and crossing your fingers isn't going to get you any sales. Like most things in life, LinkedIn is what you make it.

So how do you start leveraging LinkedIn for the sales gold mine it could be? Sales trainer Jill Konrath wondered the same thing, and created an ebook on the subject, based on research and advice from social media experts. Here's a sample:

Lead Generation. Find and be found. Search by title and industry for the ideal contacts at your ideal customers. Search by title and company for specific target customers. Be sure your profile is complete and contains the appropriate keywords for your business so the people looking for your solution will find you. Endorsements/recommendations count for a lot - get them from people who have actually been your clients if at all possible.

Sales Acceleration. Search for people in your prospect's company who are not closely involved in your deal - preferably second degree contacts, not third degree. Ask for an informational interview. This is where strong, trusted relationships count for a lot - "light linking" breaks down here.

Ask your interview subject about the priorities that are going on at the company - what are the high-level factors that might be influencing the buying process. Be completely open/transparent. If you have a good solution and a really good referral to a true "friend of a friend," you will very likely find an internal champion in that person. This is the #1 technique that LinkedIn supports better than any tool.

To find out more about how LinkedIn can increase your sales, download the ebook from Jill Konrath in its entirety here:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The American Idol Philosophy of Selling

American Idol is currently the most valuable TV format in the world with an estimated value in excess of $2.5 billion. Millions tune in each night to see if their favorite has what it takes to make it to the next round. In a recent blog post, Evan Sohn, CEO of SalesConx, wrote about the similarities between American Idol and selling. It's a very interesting read - especially if you're a fan of the show!

"The biggest reality of this reality show is that the contestants need to sell themselves week after week to the American public," says Sohn. "These contestants are therefore thrust into being top salespeople. The compensation plan is fierce, the payout is huge and the space in the President's Club is limited."

Here are the characteristics that make up an American Idol, according to Sohn:

The Right Place at the Right Time - A solid performer picking the wrong materials is a sure-fire way to get ridiculed by the judges and fall out of grace with America. Timing in sales is always important. Getting in front of the right decision-maker with the right solution at the right time is more of an art form than a coincidence. You could be the best salesperson on your team but not returning a client call in time could be the difference between getting the deal and losing the deal. Knowing when your client is most open to your pitch is just as important as the pitch itself.

You Gotta Have Heart - Being emotional in what you sell is always important. People respond to those who really care about what they are selling. You have to always believe in what you are selling. If you don't, then I suggest you sell something that you can get passionate about. Passion sells.

Honesty - A lot of the judges' talk time on American Idol is telling contestants to be true to who they are. A country singer should sing country and a rock and roller should always rock and roll. Putting on a bandana and carrying a chain doesn't make a person a rock and roller and the customer is never fooled. Don't try to convince the customer that your service or product does more than it really does. While you might get through the first rounds, the likelihood is that you'll soon get tossed.

Listen - Nothing pains me more than watching these young performers acting smugly when getting advice from Simon Cowell. Simon, a seasoned recording professional, is always trying to get the best out of the contestants. The show is his product and he strives for excellence. Those who listen to him almost always come back the following week to rave reviews. All they have to do is listen. Selling is just as much about listening to your customer as it is talking to them (maybe even more so). Hear the feedback from your customer. Why aren't they as excited about your offering as you think they should be? How was your pitch?

Never Forget Your Lines - Remembering the words to your song is Selling 101 basics. Giving a presentation to a room full of people should be a conversation between you and your audience. Stopping the presentation to look up your notes ruins the flow of your presentation. Rehearse your presentation over and over again. Go over potential questions. Be prepared.

Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last - While American Idol is supposed to be a talent contest it is just as much a personality contest. An obnoxious, egotistical and arrogant performer no matter how good, never makes it to the end. Simon is quick to point out who is nice - never as a matter-of-fact but always as an asset to any performer. People like to work with nice people. Making sales is about forging a relationship between two parties. Choosing nice people to work with is the prerogative of the decision maker. When in doubt - be nice.

So, do you think you have what it takes to be an American Sales Idol?

Evan Sohn is the CEO of SalesConx, a marketplace for professionals to buy and sell introductions to decision makers. Check out his blog for sales advice, news, and info.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Quote of the Week

"To speak and to speak well are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks." -- Ben Jonson

Are you talking just to fill the silence, or do you actually have something to say? Awkward pauses are nerve-wracking, that's for sure. But putting your foot in your mouth because you didn't take the time to think about what you were going to say? That's even worse. Be a man who speaks, not just a man who talks.

Friday, April 25, 2008

SalesDog Quick Tip

Write your cold calling script the way you talk, and get to the point! Written language and spoken language are very different. If your script is in written language, you will sound phony. Real people do not speak with capital letters at the start of sentences and periods at the end. People actually speak more in phrases or fragments, with pauses, sometimes improper grammar, and the occasional ah or um.

It is imperative that you sound real! If you are having a difficult time with this, try talking into a tape recorder, then playing it back and writing down what you say.

Today's quick tip comes from Wendy Weiss, the Queen of Cold Calling. Learn more at

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tips for New Sellers - Part 2

A few weeks ago we ran a post from Jill Konrath with her top five tips for new sellers. Lead generation expert Brian Carroll followed suit with his top lead generation tips for new sellers. Read on for Brian's tips on how you can start making money in sales - right away!

1. Define your goals - Be clear on what you want. Do you want 20 more leads in your database? Do you want to generate $995K in net new customer revenue this year? Do you want to add 15 new clients this quarter?

2. Develop a lead generation calendar - Map out your activities for each month and then really follow it! Don't just make irrelevant pitches more often! Create a plan to add value every time you touch your future customers with relevant ideas, content and resources.

3. Build your personal prospecting engine - Leverage these activities by communicating with your prospects, customers, networks and alliance partners in a consistent manner by using traditional direct marketing methods such as direct mail, phone calls, and personal email messages.

4. Use your CRM - Don't create the biggest database of contacts possible. Instead, seek to create the most relevant database possible that contains the right companies and contacts that influence the buying decision. In the beginning, you won't have all the data you need. Be patient and you'll build the opportunity profile over time. See each conversation as an opportunity to build a relationship.

5. Be consistent - Remember the fable about the tortoise and the hare? Dig your well before you're thirsty. No matter how busy you are, be sure to make time to do lead generation activities, especially if you don't have a marketing team supporting you.

Brian Carroll, CEO of In Touch, Inc. is the author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale (McGraw-Hill 2006) and the B2B Lead Generation Blog. He is an expert in B2B marketing, lead generation and complex sales.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sending Information? Mutilate it first

When a prospect says, "Send me some literature," many salespeople interpret their request as a live lead. "Great!" they think. "I'll send this out and as soon as they've read it they'll give me a call!" According to sales trainers Jim Dunn and John Schumann of The Whetstone Group, "rarely does mailing literature result in a positive outcome. Prospects deny receiving it, plead they haven't had time to read it, or simply don't return the salesperson's calls."

"Although most salespeople are beginning to understand that a literature request is often a put-off, they still have a tendency to send it," explain Dunn and Schumann. "Salespeople feel that if the prospect gets the information and actually reads it, the 'compelling' sales story may get a positive response."

Instead, they recommend you avoid sending literature unless you have a really compelling reason for doing so and have a good meeting agreement with the prospect as to what will happen after he receives it.

If you absolutely have to send literature, make it easy for your prospect to read it. Mutilate it! You want the prospect to look at enough of the information to understand your message and want to read more. Here are some tips from the Whetstone Group for getting your literature read:
  • Mark important passages with a brightly-colored green highlighter (surveys show decision-makers are often driver types and green attracts their attention)
  • Take a bold felt tip marker and draw arrows to important things and write, "Read this." Use post-it notes for added emphasis.
  • Attach your business card with the back (blank) part showing and write on it "Here's the info you wanted me to send."
All of this says to the prospect, "Read me, I'm different." With all the visual pointers, it would be difficult not to get noticed - and you're saving your prospect time by making your message easier to read.

Whetstone Group is a sales process improvement company that focuses on helping companies implement a proven sales process that will increase sales, shorten the selling cycle, increase closing rates, and improve margins. Learn more at

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Purchase Top Dog Sales Secrets Today and Get Over $3,000 worth of FREE bonus gifts!

FOR A LIMITED TIME: Get your copy of Top Dog Sales Secrets plus $3,000 worth of free bonus gifts. You get downloadable e-books, white papers, free access to tele-seminars, audio programs, and special reports from top sales and business growth leaders. Click here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sales Advice Courtesy of Star Trek

I came across this post on Scott Sheaffer's Sales Vitamins blog. The nerd in me just loved it - it's a great piece of sales advice based on a Star Trek episode. If that doesn't intrigue you, I don't know what will. Read on!

Scott writes, "In an old episode of Star Trek, the Starship Enterprise was completely outgunned by multiple Klingon starships. There was no way that Scotty was going to be able to work his engineering magic in time to pull them out of this one. At just the moment that most captains would have made a desperate and feeble attempt to fire on the Klingon starships, Captain Kirk told Sulu to 'lower the shields.' That's right. He instructed his helm officer to turn off all of their remaining defenses and become completely vulnerable."

"What happened next? The Klingons were so surprised by this 'laying down of arms' that they followed suit. They stopped attacking and opened up communication with the Enterprise. They started talking and a compromise was reached. Captain Kirk's insight saved the day."

"While this is science fiction, the principle is not. If you want to open up the lines of communication with your customer, especially if there is conflict, then 'lay down your arms.' Defensiveness and aggressive behavior toward an unhappy customer only serve to make the situation worse by making them increasingly defensive and aggressive."

Consider this scenario and possible responses:

Customer: You guys completely messed up our last order and caused our production line to be down for 48 hours, costing us $450,000.

Salesperson #1 response: That may be, but I can prove you ordered the wrong parts. I'm not taking responsibility for this one.

Salesperson #2 response: I know that having your production line down for that long is completely unacceptable to your company. I want to do a post-mortem with you on this order and let's see what we can do to ensure that this never happens again.

"The first salesperson only caused the customer to get more upset and defensive. This salesperson was ultimately going to lose the battle. By 'lowering the shields' Salesperson #2 started to immediately diffuse the customer's anger and laid out a blueprint for future business."

"We're all human," continues Sheaffer. "Our natural tendency is to respond to a customer's anger with defensiveness. But it doesn't work very well. 'Lowering your shields' provides a pathway for communication and inspires your customer to turn off their phasers. Captain Kirk knew best."

Do you have a customer service issue that could be addressed by "lowering your shields?" Try it, we don't know if you'll live long, but we're sure you'll prosper!

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read more from Scott at

Friday, April 18, 2008

KISS Your Way to More Sales

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this picture of our friend and Top Dog Sales expert Colleen Francis with Gene Simmons, the legendary tongue-wagging leader of KISS. Colleen was photographed with Simmons while attending a marketing conference. And, believe it or not, she learned a lot from rock's bad boy. Here's what Colleen has to say about Simmons and what he can teach sales professionals:

"What a huge success he is Much more so than I ever knew. KISS holds all the records for record sales for any rock band ever - including Elvis and the Beatles. Their empire is worth over $1 billion and there are over 3,000 branded KISS products on the market today. KISS is a rock BRAND not a rock Band. So what could a sales expert learn form rock's perennial bad boy? Plenty . . . "

Set no limits on what you can achieve. Success is a mind set. Either you think you can have it all, or you don't. Never let someone else tell you what you can and can't achieve. Ruthlessly control those thoughts yourself.

Work hard. Gene Simmons is almost 59, worth hundreds of millions of dollars and everyday he goes to work. Recently he started a new business, Simmons Abramson Marketing which has the exclusive branding contract for Indy. In fact they developed the new "I am Indy" campaign - Gene even wrote the theme song himself. His success is not an accident. Gene Simmons is nothing but disciplined in his approach to his work. (To get more disciplined, check out Colleen's 3-step approach.)

Connect with people. From the stage in front of 1,200 people Gene Simmons connected with people one-on-one speaking their language. German, Yiddish, Hungarian, Japanese, Mandarin. He connects with people on their level. No private jets, no bodyguards (granted he is big enough to take care of himself!) His secret to success is getting close to people and talking to them about them.

There you have it; three timely reminders of what it takes to be successful in sales - from a rather unlikely source.

Colleen Francis, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Sales and Marketing Management has ranked her one of the "5 most effective sales trainers in the market today." Subscribe to her online newsletter Engaging Ideas and you'll also receive 10 weeks of free sales tips.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

When You're Asked to Send a Proposal

Often, when you're going after that really big sale, you're asked to send a proposal. But how many times have you sent the proposal, only to never hear from the prospect again, or to have them say it wasn't what they were looking for?

"The danger of sending a proposal - or any literature for that matter - is that the best, most pertinent information might not be absorbed by the prospect," says sales trainer Al Uszynski.

Rather than sending the proposal and crossing your fingers, Uszynski suggests you take steps to ensure you can go over the proposal with the prospect once he receives it - thus ensuring the key points are absorbed and understood.

  • Try to deliver the proposal to the customer in person so that you may review - in detail - the key points and show flexibility to adapt to the customer's needs when necessary.
  • If an in-person meeting isn't feasible, send the proposal via 2-Day Air and schedule a phone appointment to review with the customer. Make sure your proposal pages are numbered for easy collaboration.
Al Uszynski is a results-focused sales trainer and professional speaker. His proven, quick-start sales training program, "15 Ways to Grow Your Sales Tomorrow," helps sales professionals ignite immediate sales growth. learn more by visiting

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Building Rapport - Executive Style

In a recent newsletter, sales trainer Kelley Robertson shared some excellent advice on how to establish rapport with prospects. While we all know how important this step is, "the majority of people follow the same approach by making small talk at the beginning of the says conversation," says Robertson. "While this technique used to be effective, it is not necessarily the best approach in today's hectic business world, especially if you deal directly with C-level decision-makers."

Robertson continues, "Let's face it, executives are far from stupid. Glancing around their office and commenting about a photo, award, or some other observation is a transparent tactic."

Here are three ways Robertson suggests you develop rapport with executives:

1. Get to the point quickly. Don't waste time on small talk that is unrelated to the matters at hand. Start your conversation with, "I know that you are busy so I'll get right to the point." Your prospect will appreciate this.

2. Demonstrate that you have done some research. Comment on industry trends or refer to information gleaned from your prospect's website or annual report. Executives respect people who do their homework before the sales call.

3. Finish early. If you have 30 minutes allotted for your meeting, finish it in 25 minutes or less. respect their time and they will respect you.

"This will get you started and will help you differentiate yourself from many of your competitors," says Robertson. Now, quit the small talk and get started!

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

Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives

Technology has not only changed the way companies sell but the way managers build and develop their team. Even with the right knowledge and resources, they're usually too bogged down in daily challenges, deadlines, and personal responsibilities to get it all done. As a result, advancing their people takes a back seat to more immediate problems, keeping teams mired in mediocrity.

With a savvy, younger generation to manage and fewer resources to do so, managers have less face time with their staff. As more companies transition to a virtual team environment, it's essential for managers to learn how to quickly and efficiently coach, develop, motivate and retain their top performers at a distance; over the telephone and via the internet.

If you're responsible for coaching or managing anyone, bestselling author Keith Rosen will help you make the transition from manager to coach by developing the missing discipline of leadership - executive sales coaching. Most managers have never been trained to manage, let alone coach effectively. In his new book, Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions, Keith delivers a tactical coaching system for managers, business owners, coaches and executives - anyone who wants a proven and powerful method to coach and develop true champions.

Plenty of programs espouse new management and leadership theories for managers, but few show you how to actually coach your people on a daily basis in a way that creates measurable change. Now, you can implement a systematic approach to develop a world class team and achieve the meaningful, long lasting results you want.

For a limited time, when you purchase your copy of Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions you'll also receive access to hundreds of dollars worth of additional materials from Dr. Tony Alessandra, Zig Ziglar, Jim Cathcart, Jill Konrath, Dave Lakhani, Bob Kantin,,, and more. Check it out here:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quote of the Week

"It's better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret." -- Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Athlete

"If only I had made a few more calls, or sent a few more proposals, or.... I would have made quota." How many times have you heard yourself lamenting past mistakes?

The key to avoiding this kind of regret is looking ahead at what you need to do, and then planning how you're going to achieve it. Maybe you need to make three more prospecting calls each day, or create a direct mail campaign to reach new buyers. Whatever it is, plan ahead and implement your plan - you'll have no time for regrets!

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Ideas for Call Openings

Nothing defines you as a telemarketer or salesperson faster than opening your call with "How are you today?" If you want to separate yourself from the competition, it's time to try something new. Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, has come up with some openers that will allow you to connect with your prospect and start the sales relationship. Try these out for yourself, and let us know the results!

Mike suggests you use any of the following after you give your name and company name:

1. "Can you hear me OK?" This opening does a number of things A - it elicits a yes response, B - it gets them saying yes, and it gets them to really listen. Not a bad way to start the call.

2. "Happy Monday!" (or Wednesday, or Thursday - whatever day it is). You get a lot of traction with this opening, and it really opens your prospect up.

3. "Is it raining there, too?" (or hot, or foggy, etc.). Immediately connecting with your prospect on an issue unrelated to sales really gets them talking and takes the pressure off.

4. "I'm so glad I reached you, I need a little bit of help. Are you the person who handles XYZ?..." This is a great technique because you immediately make them feel important. Works every time.

5. "How's your day going?" This is the alternative to "How are you today," and it only works if you are sincere and you actually listen to how their day is going. Please, listen and respond accordingly.

So there you have it - five openings that will separate you from your competition when cold calling a prospect.

"Have fun with these," suggests Brooks. "Vary them and find the one you're most comfortable with. But most of all, use them. Believe me, your prospect will be happy you did, and so will you!"

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

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Top 5 Tips for New Sellers

In a recent post on her blog, Jill Konrath was asked the question, "If you were mentoring a new salesperson, what would be your top five sales tips and how did you learn those?"

Her answers are insightful and good reminders of what to do - and what not to do, to be successful in sales. Here are Konrath's Top 5:

1. Focus on making a difference.

Nobody cares about your product, service or solution. That's the hardest thing for sellers to realize. All they care about is the difference you can make for their organization.

For example, today I sell sales training. If I call a VP of Sales and mention that, they'll tell me they're not interested. However, once I changed my focus to the tangible outcomes they'd get from using my sales training, the door opened wide. After all, they were extremely interested in shortening their sales cycle, reducing the ramp up time for new hire sales reps and driving revenue growth.

2. Slow down to speed up your sales.

This was one of the hardest things for me to learn. When I first started selling, I was so eager to be successful. I tried to wow my prospects with my great product knowledge. I closed often and early. But the more I tried to rush things, the more resistant to moving forward my prospects became. They'd throw out obstacles and objections that I couldn't overcome. When I learned to slow down, parcel information out over multiple meetings, and simply advance the sales process one step at a time, suddenly my sales increased.

When you're scared about not getting the business, your prospects can intuitively sense your fear. One of the major symptoms is rushing the sales process.

3. Pay the price of admission. Do pre-call research!

To get into big companies, you can't make 100 cold calls saying the same thing to everyone. Several years ago corporate decision-makers stopped answering their phones and rolled all calls to voicemail. They delete most messages within seconds because they sound like salespeople making their pitch.

I discovered that the only way to capture the attention of these corporate decision-makers was to create a very personalized message based on in-depth research in their firm. Once I started doing this, I started setting up meetings.

4. Create an account entry campaign.

It takes 7-10 contacts to crack into corporate accounts these days. Most sellers give up after 3-5 attempts. If you want to set up a meeting with a corporate decision-maker, plan multiple touches from the onset. It takes a while to break through their busy-ness and register on their Richter Scale, but it can be done.

You can use multiple formats in your campaign too: voicemail, email, direct mail, invitations to tele-seminars, and more.

5. Analyze your sales approach from your customer's shoes.

It's not important what you say. The only thing that matters is what your customers hear. For example, when I was trying to reach a decision-maker a while back, I decided to leave a message on my own voicemail first to see how I sounded. When I listened to my message, I was appalled. I sounded pathetic! So I worked on scripting my message and kept calling myself over and over until I finally created something I would respond to if I were the prospect.

If you'd like more tips like these, check out Jill Konrath's Selling to Big Companies blog or subscribe to her free newsletter. (You'll also receive a bonus Sales Call Planning Guide!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Sales Epiphany defines an epiphany as "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple or commonplace occurrence or experience."

Sales coach Cheryl Clausen believes that an epiphany is key to the sales process. "When you're capable of stimulating an epiphany in a prospect you're assured of completing the sale now rather than at some point in the distant future," says Clausen.

She explains, "Have you ever had a sales conversation where the prospect agreed with you throughout the conversation, agreed your solution would be helpful, yet when it came time to make the purchase decision they just couldn't bring themselves to make that decision? Of course! The reason the prospect just can't move forward is because your solution isn't an immediate need from their perspective. It's something that might be nice to have, but not absolutely necessary to have right now."

So, how do you bring about an epiphany? "You do it by helping the prospect to realize the significance of not having your solution beyond the obvious," says Clausen. "As an example, you have a solution that increases what their systems do, and what they'd like those systems do. As the expert you might ask, "When your customers get angry with you because, in your own words, you've dropped the ball, does that ever lead to some form of compensation on your part to provide damage control?'"

"A well-timed question like that can help the decision-maker to look at your situation from an entirely different angle," says Clausen. "Instead of viewing your solution as an expense that doesn't need to happen right now, you can help the decision-maker to perceive your solution as an investment that will stop the financial bleeding immediately."

Cheryl Clausen, the Increase Sales Coach, works with clients in all areas of sales and marketing - to increase your sales. Learn more and discover the "7 Secrets Top Producers Know That You Can Put to Use in the Next 9 Days" at

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Book e'm to Stand Out

Have you been trying to crack a large account to no avail? Sales trainer Jim Meisenheimer suggests you differentiate yourself by sending a book thirty days after the first call. This doesn't mean you have to be an author - Meisenheimer recommends sending "Discover Your Genius: How to Think Like History's 10 Most Revolutionary Minds" by Michael Gelb.

Autograph the book "I hope this book helps you discover your genius," and sign and date it.

This is just an example - there are many books out there that would make the same impression. After all, "How much would you be willing to invest in securing a new account?" asks Meisenheimer. "What would the lifetime value be of a new customer?"

Today's tip comes from Jim Meisenheimer, CSP. Jim is an author, sales trainer, and writes the bi-weekly No-Brainer Selling Tips Newsletter. Learn more at

Monday, April 7, 2008

Quote of the Week

"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." -- Edward R. Murrow, Journalist

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Your price is too high!

The dreaded price objection. You could search the world high and low, and never find a sales professional who hasn't encountered it. So what do you do when a prospect looks you in the eye and says, "Your price is too high?" Just stay calm and remember this tip from sales trainer Colleen Francis.

"When most salespeople are told their price is too high, they make an immediate assumption about what 'too high' means," says Francis. "If they're presenting a $10,000 proposal to a client who says the price s too high, for example, the salesperson might automatically assume 10 percent too high, or 25 percent, or 50 percent or so on. Then, they offer a discount based on that assumption, rather than basing it on what the client really had in mind."

"'Too high' is a very subjective comment," continues Francis. "Before you start making any counter-offers, take a deep breath, relax and don't say anything for a good three seconds. Just pause, look at your customer and gather your thoughts. Sometimes, those three seconds of silence are enough to encourage the client to elaborate. If they don't, come right out and ask them precisely what they mean."

If, after you let them explain their objection, you find that they won't budge on the price, and it's below what you consider to be fair - move on! "You can't and won't sell to everyone," says Francis. "Having a healthy pipeline (and consistently prospecting to keep it full) is your best defense against any objections, because it gives you the confidence to walk away from a deal that could cost you more than it's worth."

Check out more of Colleen's advice at You can also reach her by calling 877-364-2438 or emailing her at

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kiss 'em Goodbye!

Who hasn't had the customer who nickel-and-dimes you, doesn't return phone calls, and makes unreasonable demands? Many consider it a part of the job, but referral expert Joanne Black believes differently.

Black calls these customers "PITAs," or 'pain in the ass' customers. "PITA customers are never happy," explains Black. "They're emotionally draining and they use up your valuable resources. Collect too many PITA customers and watch your profits dwindle - not a compelling scenario."

"When organizations take bad business, they are paying a hidden opportunity cost - the opportunity lost to use their resources to go after the phenomenal clients they want and need to make money! Servicing a PITA customer takes away time we could use providing something extra for our truly great customers."

"We shouldn't target just 'anyone,'" says Black. "You need to create a profile of your "Ideal Customer" so you can recognize perfect opportunities when they arise. These Ideal Customers are those you want to serve and the ones you will bend head over heels for."

"For a lot of salespeople, being too specific in describing their Ideal Customer may seem like they might be leaving good business on the table. It's exactly the opposite. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for someone to refer you. A long list of the things you do blurs your image. For someone to be able to refer you, they need a clear picture of you."

Ask yourself these questions to create a description of your Ideal Customer:

Industry: In what industry does your company have a track record?

Geography: Where would these customers be based - regions of the United States, North America, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa?

Size Company: How large would the company you would most like to work with be and how do you measure its size (i.e.: number of employees, revenue, age, geographical coverage)?

Business Unit or Function: What group of people within the company are your ideal contacts - CEOs, CIOs, COOs, HR, marketing?

Type of Person: What are the personality traits (Sense of humor, responsible, dedicated, integrity) of your "Ideal Customer?"

Situation/Need: What sort of situation is your ideal customer in that creates the need for your help? Here are some ideas: "My salespeople aren't performing, our teams are not working together, we've just acquired another company, we have difficulty recruiting the right talent, we don't have enough clients, our systems are at capacity, we'll be acquiring more companies."

If a prospect doesn't meet your criteria, Black advises you to just say NO! The cost of working with a PITA will outweigh any benefits you get from the sale.

Joanne Black is America's leading authority on referral selling and the author of No More Cold Calling The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust. Learn more at her website,

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cold Calling Quick Tip

Cold calling can be discouraging, especially when no one is calling you back. When that happens, try this tip from sales trainer Elinor Stutz. She says it has always given her a 100% return rate - imagine what it could do for you!

To greatly increase your return response to a cold call, Stutz suggests, "After leaving the voice message, immediately send a duplicate short email. But, here is where it will be slightly different. In the subject line, you can type 'follow-up'. Begin the message from the reader's point of view by stating, 'I realize it is easier to press the reply key then to dial back. Per my telephone message...' Keep your message down to one or two very short paragraphs."

"When prospects realize you are concerned about their time and are making every effort to make it easy to do business with you, they will be interested to explore what you have to offer," says Stutz.

Elinor Stutz, CEO of Smooth Sale and author of "Nice Girls DO Get The Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results", has transformed her highly successful sales career into a sales training company. Her clientele is comprised of Entrepreneurs, Network Marketers and beginning salespeople with 0-5 years experience. Learn more at