Thursday, July 31, 2008

How to Make Meatloaf Out of Your Competition

When you're feeling down about the competition, sales diva Kim Duke suggests you keep this in mind: "Realize if you didn't have ANY competitors you very likely would have a product or service that NO ONE WANTS - and that's a pretty tough way to make a living."

"Back to basic economics," says Duke. "Supply = Demand. And why supply something if there isn't a demand for it?"

You want to make "meatloaf" of your competition? Then follow these 5 Sales Diva Ingredients for Healthy Competition:

1) Know them inside and out. Know who they are, what they do better than you and where they are lacking. Where do you excel?

2) Never say a bad word. Why? It makes you look like an idiot. Know WHY you're different and why the customer should choose you.

3) If you lose a deal - send a card. A thank you card that is. Be a gracious loser. No whining, pouting or getting angry. Ask your client what they would have needed from you to choose you. Then send them a thank-you card thanking them for giving you the opportunity to quote on their business. And then stay in touch with new relevant info. The odds are your "competitor" will do neither. You'll soon discover that your gracious loser status will often turn into Gracious Winner!

4) Out-smart them. Sell ahead by at least 90 days. Get out of the nasty habit of "selling in the month - for the month." Tap into your customer's budget before they have spent it with someone else.

5) Create alliances. You've heard this from me before. There are certain competitors who should be your best friend. You can help each other grow, pass business back and forth and motivate and challenge each other.

"Look, the world is an abundant place," says Duke. "So quit thinking small. Quit worrying about "what they're getting and I'm not." All your worrying does is shrink you and expand them. So STEP UP and start cooking yourself some business the RIGHT WAY."

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Increase Sales by Building Relationships

"If you want to increase sales you have to establish relationships with people who are potential new clients, and deepen your relationship with existing clients," says sales coach Cheryl Clausen.

Building relationships sounds easy enough on paper, but when it comes time to build a relationship with a complete stranger, what do you do? For some, this could bring back playground horror stories, so take a big breath and read on. Clausen has some tips for you to build strong relationships with new and existing clients - even if you were never the most popular kid on the playground!

"Your sales outcomes are directly impacted by that first connection and the follow-up connections you make with potential clients and existing clients," says Clausen. Here are her tips:

Relationships demand you be the real you. You can spot a phony instantly and you resent anyone trying to be someone or something they aren't. So think of how you can allow the people you connect with to get a feel for, or sense of who you are. Your values and beliefs...what's important to you. You don't want to ram it down their throats - just allow the real you to come through whether you're sending a sales letter, making a phone call, writing your newsletter, however you're making that first connection.

Sometimes fun can be viral. If you're going to hold a barbecue for a few friends anyway why not include a few clients and share photos of the event in your newsletter? They'll show their photo to their friends thus spreading the word about you. Why not allow them to bring a friend and invite all your clients so they can mingle with each other? After all, the more people who know you the better.

What if they each shared a story about you? And you included those stories in some of your marketing materials. What if you had a contest for the best story? When you allow them to share and contribute you exponentially increase your relationship. You make them feel important and you validate why they like and trust you. The ideas are endless...

Your clients don't want to work with a stiff shirt big company. They want you to be a real person who cares a whole lot about them and their outcomes. Allowing yourself to be a little vulnerable, and giving them a closer look at who you are makes you more trustworthy and trust-able. They just want you to be human because they want to connect with you if you'll just help them...

Try out Clausen's easy tips for building relationships, and let us know yours as well!

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, July 29, 2008

Task Oriented vs. Goal Oriented

"One of the worst habits to get into is becoming a Task Salesperson," says Scott Sheaffer. "A Task Salesperson loses sight of their sales goals and sales skills. They primarily focus on the mechanics of sales. This can happen to us without even knowing it."

I read this post and felt it was very timely after Tim Rohrer's article last week about salespeople's busy work. Sheaffer writes about task-oriented salespeople vs. goal-oriented salespeople, and helps us further examine the differences. See which category you fall into, and then work to make sure you're always goal-oriented.

Scott R. Sheaffer, CSE, ATM, writes the Sales Vitamins blog. He lives in Dallas, Texas and has worked in sales, sales management and sales training for over 20 years in companies ranging from small enterprises to Fortune 500 companies.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quote of the Week

"We are judged by what we finish, not what we start." -- Anonymous

In today's business world it's easy to be side-tracked by competing priorities and waylaid by emergencies. But our prospects and customers still want us to live up to our promises. After all, over-promising and under-delivering is exactly what most buyers expect from typical salespeople.

So remember, finishing what you started, delivering on what you promised and following up on the details, no matter how trivial, will win huge respect in your clients' eyes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Instant Recap Technique Revisited

Yesterday Wendy Weiss told us how to use the "Instant Recap/Guilt Technique" to follow up with a client. The "Instant Recap" brings your prospect back to your last conversation and the "Guilt Technique" explains why you are calling. You can also use this technique when following up with a prospect who was originally contacted by someone else. Weiss suggests you use this technique as follows:

Instant Recap
"Hello (prospect's name goes here.) This is (your name) from (your company.) You spoke with my colleague, (colleague's name goes here) on (date goes here) and discussed (fill in whatever was discussed.)"

"You asked us to call you to discuss (fill in the blank with your next step.)"

Try this out the next time you're taking over someone else's account to start out the conversation. You'll establish a connection and get the sales process going much quicker than if you "just called to follow up."

Wendy Weiss, "The Queen of Cold Calling," is a sales trainer, author and sales coach. Her recently released program, "The Miracle Appointment-Setting Script," and/or her book, "Cold Calling for Women," can be ordered by visiting her website. Contact her at

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Just Called to See How Things Are Going

Sales conversations all around the world start out with, "I just called to see how things are going." Wendy Weiss recounts this sad sales conversation in hopes we can all learn from it:

Sales Representative: "I just called to see how things are going."

"Things are going fine. Why are you calling?"

Sales Representative: "I just called to see how things are."

Wendy: "Things are fine."

Sales Representative:
"OK. Well I'm here if you need me."

Wendy: "Why should I need you?"
"'I just called to see how things are going' has to be the lamest follow-up question of all time," says Weiss. "Although, it is running neck and neck with, 'I just called to follow-up.' Neither question elicits any information, neither moves the sales process forward and both are frequently annoying to your prospect who has absolutely no idea why you have called."

"The rule is: Never make a call to your prospect without having a goal in mind. When you hang up the telephone, what do you want to have accomplished? Do you want to gather information? Do you want the prospect to commit to some action? Do you want agreement on the next step in your sales process? Once you have your goal in mind then you can figure out the appropriate

"Here's an approach that you can use to set up your follow up calls," says Weiss. "I call it the 'Instant Recap/Guilt Technique.'" It goes like this:

Instant Recap
"Hello (prospect's name goes here.) This is (your name) from (your company.) We spoke on (date goes here) and discussed (fill in whatever you discussed.)"


"You asked me to call you (or 'We agreed that I'd call') to discuss (fill in the blank with your next step.)"

The "Instant Recap" brings your prospect back to your last conversation. Your prospect may or may not remember that conversation and when you are prospecting, you don't want to count on your prospect's memory. Help your prospect out by recapping your last conversation.

The "Guilt Technique" then explains why you are calling. There had been a previous conversation, outlined in the "Instant Recap" and now you are doing what you had promised to do, call your prospect.

Wendy Weiss, "The Queen of Cold Calling," is a sales trainer, author and sales coach. Her recently released program, "The Miracle Appointment-Setting Script," and/or her book, "Cold Calling for Women," can be ordered by visiting her website. Contact her at

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How to REALLY Bring Value

We talk a lot about bringing extra value to your clients but what does this really mean? defines the term "value" as "relative worth, merit, or importance." Notice in the definition it says "relative" worth. This means the value should be specific to the particular client.

"Real value is the sincere approach you take in helping people overcome challenges personally and professionally, which in turn truly does bring relative worth, merit and importance not just to them, but back to you," says sales trainer John Costigan.

"More importantly, how do you bring 'relevant' value and worth to your customers and to others around you? It's simple, and easy, and will totally 'blow away' everyone you encounter."

Costigan suggests you bring value to your clients through books - not just books about your company or industry, but books that are about 'them' and their challenges, personally or professionally.

As the publisher of the bestselling Top Dog Sales Secrets, we couldn't agree more.

"For example," says Costigan, "a person going through dramatic changes within their own company who is challenged with adapting should read Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese?"

"Or maybe they are always running late and they feel time is managing them instead of the other way around, then send them, "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Timothy Ferriss to give them tips on regaining control of their day. Or if they are going through the "teen" years and are being challenged by one of their kids, "How to Say It to Your Kids" by Dr. Paul Coleman is a wonderful book. Or maybe they feel they are in a rut and just want to do something different, then give them, "Awaken The Giant Within" by Anthony Robbins," says Costigan.

"Lincoln on Leadership," by Donald T. Phillips, is a wonderful book that can help any manager, vice president or CEO on managing people better. Or go laugh your butt off reading Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," a NY Times Best Seller that will have you rolling out of your chair. Sometimes the best medicine you can give someone is the gift of laughter."

"There is one trick though," says Costigan. "You can't recommend these books unless you've read them. Once you have, you have built what I love to call, "Your Library of Assistance." It's the knowledge base to help others in time of need. Once you see someone who has challenges, (and we all do), buy them the appropriate book and make their day."

Why? 1) It helps them. 2) It feels great. 3) I bet your competition isn't doing it!!

Now THAT'S value.

John Costigan, president and founder of John Costigan Companies, conducts sales training classes around the world for a list of clients that reads like a 'who's who" in the corporate world, including Hewlett Packard and the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes. To learn more visit

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A New S.P.I.N. On Selling

Sales trainer Jim Meisenheimer has a new spin on Neil Rackham's SPIN Selling.

Meisenheimer suggests you consider S.P.I.N. as four pieces to the selling puzzle:

S = Shrug it off
"Right now most of the world's news is negative," says Meisenheimer. In the USA the real estate market is hurting, financial markets are in chaos, and just when you think gas prices can't go any higher - they go higher. Shrug it off. That's right, dismiss the bad news or it will eventually consume and overwhelm you."

"If the news gets you down, do something that picks you back up. You can't afford to be down and negative when you're working with your sales prospects and customers. Change your routine. Exercise more. Read motivational books. And stay away from negative people because it's amazing how contagious negativity can be."
P = Preparation and practice
"Inject a little preparation and practice into every selling day," says Meisenheimer. "For example, when you're planning sales calls for the next day, you can prepare several questions in writing. While you're driving to the account practice them. If you don't practice what you're going to say before you get to the account you end up practicing on your sales prospects and customers. Nothing could be worse!"

I = Initiative

"The initiative I'm referring to is personal initiative," says Meisenheimer. "This word covers all aspects of professional selling. When times are tough it requires that you become tougher."

"Doing things the way you've always done them will not differentiate you from your competition. Take the initiative to learn more about personal salesmanship and selling skills. Literally - hit the books."

"Take the initiative to pick up the telephone and schedule more appointments. Take the initiative to allocate more face-to-face time calling on sales prospects which represent new business opportunities for you." And take the initiative on every sales call to exceed your sales prospect's and/or customer's expectations."

N = New
"Focus on what's new, not what's problematic," says Meisenheimer. "Get excited when you're talking about what's new to your sales prospects and customers. If you're excited, they'll become excited."

"It's not easy being positive when all the news is so negative," he explains. "You have the ultimate control over your thoughts. So choose optimism over pessimism, positive over negative, sunny versus gloomy, and winning over losing."

"You'll be glad you did and so will your customers. Growing your business, increasing your sales, and making more money is easy when you put the right S.P.I.N. on it."

Former U.S. Army Officer Jim Meisenheimer is an author, speaker and sales trainer with years of successful selling experience. He publishes the bi-weekly No-Brainer Selling Tips Newsletter, which is packed full of information to help you win bigger sales and KO the competition. Learn more at

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quote of the Week

"If you don't risk anything, you risk even more." -- Erica Jong, "Fear of Flying" novelist and poet

Have you been thinking about calling a hot-shot CEO but been too nervous to do so? Put together a great presentation idea, but too afraid to try it on anyone? It's easy to stay in your comfort zone, but it's only by trying new things that you will reach new heights. Take a sales risk this week, and see what happens!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sales Tip: "Aside from you..."

"Every one of us in sales has experienced the horror of discovering that, after making the perfect presentation, handling objections flawlessly and closing the sale magnificently, alas (that's right, "alas") we were talking to the person who was NOT the decision maker," says sales trainer and author Bob Burg.

"In order to ensure to the best of your ability that doesn't ever happen again, make sure the person to whom you are presenting your product or service does in fact have the authority to make the final buying decision," suggests Burg.

"But how do you do that tactfully, gracefully? After all, you can't say, "All right pal, who REALLY is the head honcho here?'"

"Instead, near the beginning of your presentation, simply use the phrase, 'Dave, aside from yourself, who else is involved in the decision-making process?'"

"This way, you've allowed him to feel important and 'save face' while providing you with the decision-maker's name," says Burg. "Now, depending upon your unique situation and circumstances, you can approach the sale correctly."

Bob Burg speaks on "Endless Referrals" and "Positive Persuasion." He is author of "Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts into Sales," "Winning Without Intimidation: The Art of Positive Persuasion" and co-author of "The Go-Giver." Visit Bob at

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gatekeeper or Concierge?

With the economy making things interesting in the business world, many people are turning to prospecting efforts they've never used before, including cold calling. And if you're new to cold calling, you may be running into someone who keeps getting in the way when you want to to talk to the decision maker...the gatekeeper.

While this situation can be stressful, especially for a new cold caller, sales expert Keith Rosen has some solutions for you to keep in mind.

"Think about your reaction to the word 'gatekeeper,'" says Rosen. "What thoughts does it conjure up for you?"

"Now think about the word 'concierge.' What comes to mind? When you go to the mall and you need to find a specific store, who do you ask? The concierge. When you are staying at a hotel on vacation and are looking for directions, the hotel's amenities, somewhere to eat or need tickets to a show, who do you ask? The concierge."

"How good are you at making friends? Instead of 'getting through the gatekeeper' how about 'making friends with the concierge?' Now, doesn't that just sound (and feel) better?"

"Consider this for a moment. The concierge secretly wants to help you," continues Rosen. "The only caveat is, you have to give them a reason to."

"After all, if you try to sneak behind their back and get busted for doing so, you have succeeded in creating an adversary. Not only that but you've now fueled their justification as to why they need to screen all incoming calls! Now, when you need them in the future, it's a safe bet that they probably won't welcome you with open arms. Instead, focus on making the gatekeeper your concierge and internal advocate. Here's how:"

Brutal honesty that compliments
The old adage, "Honesty is the best policy" certainly holds true when trying to befriend the gatekeeper, I mean, the concierge. When calling to speak with your prospect or to find out exactly who the prospect is, try this approach in the following example.

You: "Hi, I can really use your help. I'm calling to speak with the person who is in charge of (software engineering/product development/programming, etc) would that be you?

Here's what you have accomplished: Asking the concierge, "Would that be you?" or "Are you the expert in that area?" comes across as a compliment and makes the concierge feel important. As such, they are now more likely to give you the name of the contact you are looking for.

Keith Rosen is the President of Profit Builders, LLC and the author of several bestsellers, including Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cold Calling. Learn more at

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

The best account managers are busy. Average account managers are busy and below-average account managers are busy. Who isn't busy?

That being said, it's easy to be busy doing things that do nothing for your business. Tim Rohrer recently discussed in his blog the difference between busy-productive and busy-unproductive.

Rohrer says there are only two right things to be busy doing:

1. The actions that get one closer to making a sale
2. The actions that ensure the success of a sale already made

That's it! Here's a story from Rohrer to help you make sure you're only doing these two things.

"The other day, an account manager pointed out to me that she had sent an email to a client with an interesting article attached. The article was relevant to the customer's business and sending it was a good idea," says Rohrer. "But does her action fall into Category #1?"

"Her action should have fallen into Category #1 as she was trying to get closer to making a sale. But, based on the content of her e-mail, I can promise you that she didn't get closer to making a sale because she didn't ask the customer to take any action. Her email said something like this:

"I saw this article and thought of you."

"Coincidentally, another account manager also copied me on an email he sent to a customer with an article attached. His email said something like this:

"Did you see this article (attached)? Let's get together and brainstorm ways to make this work for your business. We always come up with great ideas and I am sure that we can do it again!"

"Two busy account managers. One productive account manager," says Rohrer.

This outline from Rohrer should help you see the difference between busy and productive:

1. The actions that get one closer to making a sale

a. Prospecting
i. Research to identify prospects
ii. Research to identify industry trends
iii. Contacting prospects with valid business reasons to convince them to spend time with you.

b. Qualifying
i. Determining if the prospect has enough money to purchase your products through research
ii. Determining if the prospect has enough money by meeting with them

c. Presenting
i. Sending presentations that ask for an investment
ii. Delivering presentations face-to-face that ask for an investment

"Being busy is not the goal of any seller who counts on revenue production to earn commissions. Being productive is the goal," says Rohrer. "Let's examine our behaviors and get a little busier being productive."

Tim J.M. Rohrer is a recognized leader in sales and sales management. He writes about his experiences in advertising sales on his blog at Currently employed as a Sales Manager at Radio One in Atlanta, he can be reached through e-mail at

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Eliminating Buyer's Remorse

It's every salesperson's worst nightmare: you've done the presentation, they've said yes, and now you're drawing up the final papers and planning what you'll do with the commission. The phone rings and it's your customers, saying, "I've changed my mind."

So what can you do to avoid this panic-inducing scenario? "Make it easy for your prospect to say yes by 'creating the future,'" says sales trainer Jim Klein.

To do this, "paint a picture of some future date after they have been using your product or service," says Klein. "Explain this picture in detail using lots of adjectives, and explain how the benefits of owning your product or service will change their lives. It's basically a review of the benefits using their emotions to insure them they are doing the right thing."

"I know buyer's remorse has happened to me many times in my life," says Klein. "However, as I began talking to other people about my decision, more times than not, I would get confirmation from others that I had made the right decision. You see, that's really what anyone is looking for; confirmation from someone other than themselves that they made the right decision."

Another way to ensure your client doesn't experience buyer's remorse is to create a future relationship with them. "Let them know you're not just going to make the sale and forget about them, or pass them on to another department in your company," says Klein. "A phone call the day after the sale is a great way to let them know how much you care, and will show them you mean what you say."

"Make the transition to the next step in their purchase a smooth one for them. If there will be a delivery of a product, take the time to be there on the delivery date. At the very least, make a phone call to the prospect to make sure everything went according to plan, and that they are satisfied."

Take time to make sure your clients are comfortable with their buying decision, and you won't run into any trouble down the line.

Jim Klein is the president of From the Heart Sales Training, a company that wants to make all sales "from the heart," rather than "from the hip." Learn more and sign up for his Sales Advisor Newsletter at

Monday, July 14, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin." -- Mother Teresa

We're now halfway through July, and the summer is just flying by. It can be hard to concentrate during the summer, especially when you're a couple of days away from your vacation, but it's important to prospect and close business each day, just as you normally do during the rest of the year.

Keep your concentration during your workdays, and you'll be free to enjoy your vacation time, knowing your bank account is in fine shape.

Friday, July 11, 2008

SalesDog Quick Tip

"We have all experienced situations when a prospect seems reluctant to move forward with a buying decision," says sales trainer Kelley Robertson. "Everything seems to go well during your conversations and they were responsive to your solution. However, now, things have stalled. They aren't saying no but they have not agreed to move ahead either."

Here's a tip from Robertson that can help you find out what is behind the delay:

Say to them, "I sense some hesitation." Then wait for them to respond. It may take a few moments as they collect their thoughts and figure out the best reply. However, this approach is a great way to find out what the other person is thinking. Here is why it works:

1. It is non-threatening. You are not demanding an answer or challenging their decision. You are simply making a statement that indicates an awareness of the other person's behavior.

2. It is not a rebuttal. Too often salespeople continue to rebut objections, which can cause people to become defensive.

3. It is phrased as a statement. Statements like this can be easier for people to answer because they are non-confrontational.

"These four words are a great way to uncover a customer's true objection and reason for not moving ahead with their purchase or buying decision," says Robertson.
Try it out, and let us know how it works for you!
As President of The Robertson Training Group, Kelley has helped thousands of professionals improve their business results with his engaging approach to sales training and speaking. 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 at

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pick Up the Phone and Beat the Heat!

Have you been feeling the heat lately? I don't know about your neck of the woods, but San Diego has been unusually hot lately. We're spoiled by moderate temperatures year-round, so any extreme change in temperature makes me feel absolutely miserable.

With the heat on everyone's minds, I felt this article from sales trainer Renee Walkup, where she asks "Can you be more efficient by using the phone?" was very timely. Use these tips to close more business over the phone, and avoid venturing into the sweltering heat wearing pantyhose or a jacket and tie.
Here are Walkup's 5 tips for being more effective over the phone:

1. Convince yourself that customers LIKE the phone. They don't always want to see you. Some of the best sales calls and negotiations are conducted using the telephone as the communications vehicle.

2. Have your notes in front of you to guide the call. If you are checking your email and attempting to organize and deliver a compelling presentation over the phone, you are about to be disappointed. Write out what you need to accomplish in advance and prepare before picking up the receiver.

3. Be quiet and listen. What wisdom or irritation is your customer going through? Are you focused on what he/she is saying that is between the lines?

4. Take notes during your call. You not only will have a record of what transpired, you may also discover what tactics you'll need to use in your next interaction with the customer.

5. Don't forget to ask for the sale! Your call should always end with a close that takes you to the next steps in your sales relationship.

So, shed your jacket, tie, pantyhose, and whatever else is making you sweat, plop down on your comfortable office chair, sit back, and pick up the phone. With these tips from Walkup, you may just close a deal!

Renee Walkup is president of SalesPEAK, a national sales performance company, as well as a well-recognized keynote speaker, sales coach, and author, with a 25-year background in sales, sales team management and training. Learn more at

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Are You Doing Business with Customers or Clients?

How do you refer to the people you represent? Are they clients or customers? Perhaps you struggle with what you call them, and bounce back and forth from one term to the other, depending on what comes to mind first.

"From my perspective a client is a person whose business you have a vested interest in, and for whom you perform as a partner within their business," says sales trainer Kendra Lee. "Not everything you provide is billable. And not every opportunity you are awarded was shopped with the competition for the best price."
"You are a respected part of your client's business. Every time you meet with your client, you bring a new idea. They value your expertise and recommendations, even seeking them out. While you want to be successful yourself, your primary objective is to make their business successful because you know your success stems from their success."

"In contrast, customers are people who you help meet a need," continues Lee. "They have a problem. You address the problem. You may invest long hours in determining the right solution. They may invest a great deal in purchasing the solution, but they don't recognize the value of your recommendations. You don't take time to present new ideas, perform quarterly review meetings, or call them spontaneously."

"While you like customers as people, neither of you are investing in a long-term relationship. Customers may deal with a specific seller so long that a friendly relationship is established, but there is rarely a vested interest to the extent that a business partnership is established."

So, which would you rather have: clients or customers?

"Personally, I'd like every customer to be a client, because it means they respect the full value of what I can bring to them as a consultative seller, and what our organization can provide to their business," says Lee. "I have fun working with clients, and they enjoy working with me. We make each other successful."

The big question is: how do we turn customers into clients?

First, we change how we refer to them. They are clients.

Next, we examine why we aren't doing those things for our customers that we do for our clients, like bringing a new idea to every meeting, helping them identify unique ways to address their strategic business objectives, or holding a project review meeting with their staff.

Finally, we change. We treat our customers like clients. If they don't see the value after all our efforts, they may select different vendors. But then, they really weren't our clients in the first place, were they?

Kendra Lee is author of "Selling Against the Goal" and president of KLA Group, helping companies rapidly penetrate new markets, break into new accounts and shorten time to revenue with new products in the Small & Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. For more information, visit

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bush Leaguers: The Top 10 Sales Mistakes

Steve Martin, author of Heavy Hitter Selling, has this crazy news story posted in his blog:

Minor league baseball pitcher John Odom was recently involved in one of the craziest baseball trades of all time. He was traded from the Calgary Vipers to the Laredo Broncos for 10 baseball bats!!! The 26-year-old right-hander said of the trade, "I'm still in shock from this phenomenon, I guess. I don't know how to describe it. It's mind-boggling."

"Professional baseball players who continually make mistakes are demoted to teams in the minor leagues," explains Martin. "These obscure teams play in small towns across America. In the slang of baseball, the players are called 'bush leaguers.' Sales also has its share of bush leaguers, people who make the following common mistakes:"
1. They talk too much on a sales call and don't listen to the customer enough.
2. They present the same pitch in the same way to every customer.

3. They don't know their customer or product well enough to drive account strategy.

4. They assume information they don't know, thereby taking the wrong action.

5. They fidget with many accounts and don't focus on the winnable ones.

6. They don't put themselves in the position of being their own customer.

7. They don't take the time to continuously analyze their performance.

8. They don't understand how to marshal their resources or use their manager.

9. They set unrealistic customer expectations or make commitments that their product or company can't fulfill.

10. They expect to win the deal without a coach (internal champion inside the account) or think they have a coach when they don't.

Examine your own sales process and make sure you're not making any of these rookie mistakes -- or you may find your customers trading you for 10 baseball bats!

Steve Martin is the author of the critically acclaimed book about enterprise sales, Heavy Hitter Selling: How Successful People Use Language and Intuition to Persuade Customers to Buy. Learn more at

Monday, July 7, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Excellence is the gradual result of always wanting to do better." -- Pat Riley, NBA Coach with five championship titles

The business of being an NBA coach is much, much more pressure-packed than the sales world. Not only are you living up to the expectations of management, but also the expectations of your team and millions of fans worldwide. It's something few can handle, but those that do, like Pat Riley, are a great example of how dedication, focus, and constant improvement line the path to success.

If you're looking to make more sales, it won't happen overnight. Make small changes to your routine every day, whether its reading a chapter in a book, listening to an audio tape in your car, or making one more call. Making an effort to always do better will put you on the path to excellence in your business.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sales Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks

This week we've been sharing some lessons learned by Jill Konrath of Selling to Big Companies. These are fun stories, and not so fun sales lessons learned at the School of Hard Knocks. Here's lesson #3:

How to Cut the Crap

At another company, I walked in and told the receptionist that I wanted to speak to the person who made copier decisions. After a quick check with the boss, she escorted me into his office.

"Sit down," he said gruffly. "You've got 5 minutes. Talk."

"If you're busy, I'll come back," I said, trying to be gracious.

"Nope," he stated. "5 minutes. Tell me why I should buy your product. Your 5 minutes is starting now."

I mumbled. I stumbled. I tried to engage him in conversation. I tried to explain that I needed more time. He wasn't one bit interested. After 5 minutes, he arose and said, "Your time is up. You can leave now."

That ticked me off. I told him he was rude and obnoxious. Then I turned and stormed out of his office, shouting back at him, "I'll never sell you a Xerox machine. You don't deserve to work with Xerox."

I know it's hard to believe, but I really did lose my cool. And I'm also sure that guy never wanted to work with Xerox again. But he had a point. I couldn't concisely state why he should listen to me.

I wanted to build a relationship and warm up the call. That made me feel better. He was a busy man who chose to use his time judiciously. I didn't respect his needs. After that cold-calling disaster, I learned to net it out. That lesson is even more important today than it was years ago.

"The School of Hard Knocks can be brutal," says Konrath. "Every time you're knocked down or out, you have to make a choice about how to react. Are you going to get up again? Will you learn from the situation? The hardest thing in the world is to look at your own complicity in the situation,yet that is where the maximum growth is for you and ultimately, the key to your long-term sales success."

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. Learn more at

The SalesDog blog will be quiet tomorrow while we celebrate Independence Day with our families. Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More Sales Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks

Recently, Jill Konrath of Selling to Big Companies talked about her three biggest sales lessons gleaned from her early days in the School of Hard Knocks. Yesterday we posted her first lesson when she learned how to overcome the fear to make her first cold calls. Today we bring you a lesson she learned from:

The Screaming Assistant

One of the prospects I uncovered while cold-calling was Trussbilt and my main contact was Tinsey, a very articulate woman who told me she was in charge of the copier decision. Shortly after our first meeting, I read a book that said salespeople should only work with the top dogs - not their underlings.

Since my contact was an administrative assistant, I realized I needed to rectify the situation immediately. I called Mr. Big directly and set up a time to meet. Then I prepared like crazy to ensure I did a great job.

Unfortunately, I never had a chance to capitalize on this opportunity. Tinsey came to the lobby to escort her boss' visitor to his office. When she saw me, she demanded to know why I was there.

"I'm here to see Mr. Big," I replied, suddenly not so sure if the tactic I'd taken was appropriate. I was right. She proceeded to yell at me like I've never been yelled at before.

I was appalled. Mortified. And suddenly very light-headed and shaky. I fainted dead away right there in the middle of the lobby.

As you can imagine, I never did business with Tinsey or Trussbilt. But I sure did learn that once you're working with someone it's never appropriate to go around them without their knowledge. They'll get mad. Furious. It's a normal human reaction.

Today, to ensure my ability to work with whomever I want in an account, I always tell prospects, "Usually when I'm working with clients, I need to talk with the VP of Sales, Regional Sales Directors and sometimes even Marketing." Doing it this way prevents the people problems that can derail your sales efforts.

Join us tomorrow for Lesson #3: how to cut the crap.

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. Learn more at

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hard-Earned Sales Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks

Yesterday's quote got me thinking about learning from past mistakes. We all know we've made them, but would we really be willing to admit to them? I don't think many would!

That's what makes this story from sales trainer Jill Konrath of Selling to Big Companies so great - she's detailed her three biggest selling blunders from when she was just starting out, and then explains what she learned from each.

Lesson #1: Sometimes you gotta sing

After finishing the Xerox training program, I was assigned to follow Jim Farrell for several weeks to learn the ropes. But the day finally came when I was sent out on my own.

At 9 a.m., I pulled up in front of Quality Products to begin my cold calls. But I couldn't get out. I was terrified and tongue-tied, convinced that my sales career was over before it even began. After nearly 30 minutes of being paralyzed in my seat, a song wiggled its way into my mind: "I Have Confidence" from the movie, The Sound of Music.

I started singing to myself, quietly at first, then louder and louder. I was particularly enamored with the refrain, "I have confidence in confidence alone, and as you can see, I have confidence in me."

I really didn't believe the words, but they got me moving off my "stuckness." I pulled out my cold call plan that I'd studiously prepared the night before and reviewed it. I practiced my opening lines again and again. Then I got out of the car and went it. By the end of the day, I'd made over 20 cold calls and uncovered some potential prospects.

Over the years, I've been confronted with many tough situations that I didn't know how to handle because I lacked the requisite knowledge or experience. I've learned that you can't know everything before you start. And I've also learned that "movement" is key to discovering the answers.

Join us again tomorrow for Lesson #2 about reaching higher level decision-makers.

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. Learn more at